Against Equality


Despite equality being recognized as a universal good by almost everyone in this country, I think equality is a terrible thing. It is not something humans should seek. It is not something governments should work to promote. It is not something that should be glorified in the media.

Who the hell is against equality? I am.

Isn’t that what our nation was built on? No.

Doesn't this prove that I am a Nazi? No. I oppose racism and every form of hatred. I think that men and women of all races and nations were designed by God in his image and are of near infinite worth and beauty.

Okay, so I am just a troll? Nope.

So why am I against equality? I am against equality because nature is. We are not born equal. And this fact was not missed by any of the USA's founding fathers. Jefferson, in saying that all men are created equal, was not saying that there were no differences between rich and poor, male or female, or any other group being compared to another. Jefferson, unfortunately, shared the racism that was common in many Enlightenment thinkers of the day and would be surprised to hear his words being used to promote things he would have thought objectively false. What he meant, of course, was equality under the law and equality in terms of worth before God. In these two senses, everyone is equal. God does not value kings above paupers. He does not value black above white or white above black. He does not view the little old church lady as lower than the powerful executive. And the law should not either. We should not have one set of laws for poor and another for rich. We should not have one set of laws for one race and another set of laws for another. Under God and the law everyone is equal.

But try to go beyond that, and equality is absolutely opposed to the idea of liberty. Here is why.

If we define freedom as the ability to do what you want (not what other people want you to do), then we can expect a free society to have people choosing many different paths in life. And if we acknowledge that the path we choose affects our financial state, our health, our family environment, and almost every other aspect of our life, we can see that being free is opposed to being equal. Freedom necessitates inequality. If I want to be an artist and spend my life painting pictures that no one will buy, I can. I am free. But that choice will, of course, make less money for me than the man who spends his whole life working long hours as an engineer for an automotive company. The automotive engineer chose money and a boring job. The artist chose a more interesting life and a lot less money. Who chose correctly? Neither. They both chose according to their freedom.

But suppose I were to say that we wanted to make these two men equal. It is not right that one has two fine cars in his driveway and can afford private school for his kids while the other one lives in a studio apartment and cannot afford kids at all. Let's make them equal. Let's start by mandating that they make equal pay. How do we do this? How about we make a universal equal wage? Every company must pay the same and for self employed people like our artist, the government will make up the gap. Sounds good. But then, an unexpected thing happens. The engineer discovers his inner artist. Suddenly, there is a nation wide dearth of engineers and a glut of artists who paint pictures no one wants to buy. Hmm. That did not work. Let's try it the other way around. Let's ensure that both of them do a bit of both. The engineer gets to paint a bit while working only half time as an engineer and the painter has to start doing engineering a few days a week. Now, they are both doing equal boring work and equal fun work and we can pay them the same. Problem solved. Err... the engineer and the artist are now being forced to do some things they did not want to do. The artist chose the life of art and was willing to sacrifice money to get it. The engineer chose the life of money and was willing to sacrifice his artistic side to do it. They both made trade offs to pursue what they wanted to pursue. They were free. But not equal.

Making people equal is the opposite of making them free.

But... someone might say... those examples are extreme and unrealistic. No one, someone might say, is actually pushing for absolute equality. Just more equal. Why not take a little bit of the engineer's money (who needs two fine cars and private school for the kids) and give some to the artist. Not all of it. Just make the artist's life a bit easier and the engineer will not notice that much.

But this is no solution. It still reduces freedom. It just reduces freedom a little. A few more engineers might become artists. A few fewer artists decide to sacrifice their art career for making automobiles.

Freedom and equality are a continuum. More equality always means less freedom. And we have already turned that knob quite a bit in our nation. We went from being an almost completely libertarian nation to implementing the New Deal, the Great Society, and countless other programs. We have given free education. We have given free health care. We have turned and turned the knob.

We cannot see the knob of freedom vs equality but in a perfectly free society, it would look like this:


In a perfectly equal society (if it were possible), the knob would look like this:
But today, we are somewhere in between. Like this:
The question is, do we want to keep pushing? Do we value the artist who can sacrifice all for his art and the engineer who sacrifices in a different way to provide us with good cars? Do we want a world where everyone is the same (equality) or do we want a world where everyone can do what they want?

And how equal do we need to get? How (equally) rich does everyone need to be? If everyone in the world was richer than a king from two hundred years ago, is that rich enough? Or do we all need to be equally rich to satisfy? Because almost everyone in the US has a life that is much better than a king from two hundred years ago. The poorest person can go to an Emergency Room and whether or not he or she has health insurance can get medical treatment for gangrene. Gangrene killed the king of France, Louis XVIII, two hundred years ago. Every American today, can get plenty of calories. Comedian, Chris Rock, once made a joke along the lines of, “In America, we have poor people but our poor people are fat.”  And he is right. One indicator of being poor in the US is obesity. We are literally so rich as a nation that our poor people are fat. And if our poor people are fat and have more healthcare than kings from two hundred years ago, are they still poor?Are you comfortable with people having different wealth levels? Some are going to be poor. Some are going to be rich. But all will be free to do whatever the hell they want to do.
So, why do we keep pushing for equality? It is part of human nature. It is what the bible calls covetousness. We have our own lot in life. We choose our own path. And then we look over the fence and see the green grass our neighbor has and we want it. Without, of course, giving up our freedom to get it. Alexis de Tocqueville in his classic Democracy in America (1835) wrote, "But one also finds in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to want to bring the strong down to their level, and which reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom."

And you know who wants slavery over freedom? Fascists do.

Don't be a fascist. Oppose equality.

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