… is from page 594 of the 5th edition (2015) of Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics:
Many whose sense of morality is offended by large economic disparities among individuals, groups and nations tend to see the causes of these differences as “advantages” or “privileges” that some people have over others. But it is crucial to make a distinction between achievements and privileges. This is not simply a matter of semantics. Privileges come at the expense of others, but achievements add to the benefits of others.
Those many persons who focus on, and fret obsessively over, differences across individuals or households in monetary incomes or monetary wealth – and who suppose that these differences are ethically self-condemning – effectively equate the ethics and actions of thieves with the ethics and actions of successful entrepreneurs and other producers. Any person who makes this intellectual move – any person who displays his or her inability or unwillingness to distinguish thieves from entrepreneurs – is someone not worth the attention of serious people. And yet Progressives celebrate all such persons as being morally enlightened. Bizarre.