A Post About Equality

Leftists often make use of “equality” language when attempting to justify their violent crusades in the name of social justice. It seems that we constantly hear about economic inequality, or the lack of equality among the sexes (and now also among genders that supposedly exist beyond man and woman), or the lack of equality represented by a lack of diversity among particular professions.  It’s not always clear whether this yearning after equality is really a yearning for equality for its own sake, or whether it’s sought as a means to fairness or justice, or whether it stems from a selfish, perversion driven by envy. For now, let’s assume that when liberals claim that they want equality, what they want is, in fact, some good thing.  However, in what follows, we show that, as is often the case with liberals, they utilize equality language that serves their interests in formulating arguments only later to equivocate and deny the same ammunition to conservatives when equality either takes liberals further than they wanted to go, or doesn’t lead towards the suicidal cliff that they are so eager to reach. In short, we argue that they do not really care about equality per se, but only if it suits their purposes as a means to some other end. Here are a few examples:

Equality in taxation

Equality in taxation would be very simple: every single taxpayer pays the exact same dollar amount in taxes. Since such an obvious policy of equality isn’t popular, we’re willing to construe another understanding of equal taxation that still counts as equality: all taxpayers pay the same percentage of their income, i.e. a flat tax. Either of these positions pass the equality test. We can already hear the protests, “But that’s not fair!” Well, leftists have historically thought that income inequality was unfair and thought that the key to fairness includes equality. However, they sure don’t like it when equality gets dished out. So maybe fairness and equality aren’t the same thing; maybe these concepts aren’t even related in the way leftists think they are.
Of course we can imagine the following retort: progressive taxation has the aim of making everyone equal and it’s better to put in place unequal treatment policies to achieve the end of equal wealth than it is to have equal treatment which might allow for unequal results.  Fair enough.  But notice that there is no principle objection from the left in terms of equality per se.  That is, they have no particular claim to the equality mantle in the area of taxation.

Equality among the sexes

In Western civilization, the principle of equal pay for equal work seems fair and equitable. This is an area in which conservatives and liberals tend to agree—if person P does work W of the same quantity and quality as person Q, in many if not most circumstances, they ought to be paid the same.  Yet one of the left’s favorite lies to tell is that women today still don’t earn as much as men despite doing the exact same work. The lie that women only earn on average .77 cents on the dollar compared to men has been debunked a million times, but the left keeps on repeating these lies, and those concerned about facts and truth continue refuting this lie.

Never mind the fact that in many professions women are paid the same as men for unequal work.  For instance, there’s a different standard of what counts as excellent for men and women in physical fitness tests in every branch of the military and women receive rank and pay equal to men for lower performance. Moreover, in most cases men and women are paid the exact same even where the work is clearly unequal, even though some of the physical toughness is actually part of the job. If equality is so important, and if the notion of “privilege” is so important in contributing to tragic amounts of inequality everywhere, why aren’t liberals working hard to bring some of these ratios into balance?

Perhaps it’s because liberals don’t really care about equality, they just use the language and rhetoric of equality to make people think that equality just is the progressive agenda, which is a claim that is demonstrably false.

Equality among the children

Philosophers have recently begun to turn their attention to the subject of disability, with many claiming that disabilities aren’t really bad, but just differences.   Leftist policies are particularly noteworthy when it comes to public education and resources devoted to some children and not others.  Because leftists don’t really care about equality, some people are happy to allocate three or four times as many resources (time, money, personnel, etc.) for the education of one child instead of equally distributing funds to the equal education of all people.

Now, some are bound to object that certain persons are in need of more resources to flourish than the norm. They might go on to say that perhaps a Kantian understanding of education has infected the modern system, particularly it’s infected some on the right. Kant instructed teachers to focus on the middle group of students, because the smart ones could figure it out, and there’s no hope for the idiots, so time should be spent on those for whom help might actually benefit them.

Thankfully, we don’t abandon the bottom third of students today, nevertheless it is huge mistake to spend an unequal amount of resources to educate one student as opposes to another—and it’s especially bad to do this in the name of equality.

Of course conservatives want everyone to flourish, and naturally we think it’s wrong to ignore the education of those with learning disabilities. But, we also think it’s wrong to take away from the education that someone without learning disabilities could receive in order to spend those resources unequally on others, even if those others would benefit from the additional resources.  After all, if that inequity is allowable in the name of pragmatic benefits, one wonders what would be wrong with trimming the percentages of resources allocated to the bottom third of students in order to further benefit the top third. Maybe there’d be even more rapid advancements in technology and medicine if those most likely to make such contributions to society were favored more during their early education.  (But maybe not. It all depends on the particular circumstances, something which state and federal government are not good at taking into account).

Still, some will persist that equality of outcome is what is most important, not, say, equality of opportunity. For those who favor communism, and those who think diversity is valuable for its own sake, we suggest that they strive to make a difference by lobbying on behalf of the mentally handicapped, who are terrifically underrepresented throughout the medical industry. We further encourage those who are so concerned about equality to stand in solidarity with the mentally handicapped by ensuring that such persons have an adequate patient base. Therefore, we encourage leftists to make sure that they hire mentally handicapped anesthesiologists to put them under just before cardiovascular surgeons with Down syndrome performs open-heart surgery on them.

Conclusion

The point, again, is to show that those on the left go out of their way to appear as if equality is one of their chief ends when this is not the case.  If equality is one such principle for leftists, we encourage liberals to embrace the conclusions of their rhetoric.  Otherwise we encourage them to give up the façade that one of the main things that they are truly after is equality.

AR-15

A former police officer, AR-15 (or “AR”) knows the difference between an assault rifle and home defense rifle. AR now fights with other weapons and demolishes arguments. He agrees that the pen is mightier than the sword, but he isn’t so stupid to bring a pen to a gunfight.

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17 Comments

  1. I’m not sure what you’re trying to get at. Is it that liberals think there ought to be equal respect for all (which seems to be behind the maximin principle) so we’re wrong in thinking that they don’t care about equality per se?

    If that’s what you are meaning, I guess I think that’s not true in practice. They don’t respect people with differing views such as conservatives, libertarians, Catholics, etc.

    • I’m asking, simply, what’s it mean to respect *people* with different views. What does that look like? Contrary to CRD’s weird interpretation, I’m not asking what “people” means.

    • Respecting people is treating them in accordance with their to their value (goodness). So as humans in the image of God, all have some basic worth grounding respect for human rights, but (e.g.) criminals lack a good deal of accidental goodness that saints possess, so one’s respect should be appropriated accordingly.

    • My understanding is that liberals believe in equal freedom, which is to say that government exist to maximize individual autonomy. Anything that is perceived to interfere with this goal (i.e working class white men, conservatives, Republicans, Christians, inadequate liberals) is a form of bigotry that cannot be tolerated.

  2. “For those who favor communism, and those who think diversity is valuable for its own sake, we suggest that they strive to make a difference by lobbying on behalf of the mentally handicapped, who are terrifically underrepresented throughout the medical industry. We further encourage those who are so concerned about equality to stand in solidarity with the mentally handicapped by ensuring that such persons have an adequate patient base. Therefore, we encourage leftists to make sure that they hire mentally handicapped anesthesiologists to put them under just before cardiovascular surgeons with Down syndrome performs open-heart surgery on them.”

    Literally *LOL* at this money shot!!!

  3. It is easy to prove a point when you deliberately choose terrible examples to back up your point. Oh, and then claim it’s satire.

    Look at CRD’s example about about “cardiovascular surgeons with Down syndrome”. It’s not different to see why that argument is deliberately dishonest. Becoming a cardiovascular surgeon is extremely difficult and has exacting standards. Having Down syndrome pretty much excludes you from reaching that very high bar. But does being black exclude you? Or a woman? Those two characteristics don’t have any bearing on intelligence. So when you see a conference of cardiovascular surgeons you might expect to see a diverse body of people.

    If you don’t (and I’m only talking about cardiovascular surgeons here as the example used) then is it not a reasonable question to ask “why is everyone here a white guy”? Who knows there may be a straight up legitimate reason for it. Perhaps low melanin level combined with testosterone is a unique combination that endows someone with the perfect skill set to operate on hearts.

    But I doubt it.

    There’s no doubt that equality of opportunity doesn’t equal equality of outcome. So are the opportunities equal?

    • It sounds like in asking “why is everyone here a white guy” you might be wondering whether there is some injustice that has taken place such that there are more whites represented and fewer blacks compared to the overall population. Now, it seems to me that whatever injustices have created this circumstance are so far in the past as to not be worth moaning about, but whatever. At any rate, if I’m interpreting you correctly then you don’t really care about equality so much as you do justice. If so, then you wouldn’t be one of the one’s targeted in the OP who go on and on about equality.

    • “whatever injustices have created this circumstance are so far in the past as to not be worth moaning about, but whatever”.

      Are the injustices in the past?
      Is an injustice that’s in the past not worth caring about? If so how far into the past? A year, a decade, within living memory?

    • There are injustices in the past, e.g. slavery. As far as present injustices I’d need to hear what you have in mind, but it won’t due simply to point to a case of inequality since that doesn’t entail injustice.

    • @David – I can’t take credit for the fine example of satire cited in my prior comment upstream, that was just a cut-n-paste of a genius-riddled fraction the fine piece of work which is AR-15’s entire OP.

      I tip my hat, sir!

    • Is “it was satire” the claim people make when something they’ve said turns out not to be as sensible as they first thought?

    • @David, you’d have to ask AR-15 about his intent, but satire and reductio ad absurdum have a long and venerable history in the art of writing, your personal disapproval notwithstanding.

  4. “But notice that there is no principle objection from the left in terms of equality per se. That is, they have no particular claim to the equality mantle in the area of taxation.”

    I got confused by this line. Isn’t the liberal end goal equality of outcome, which, in this particular instance, is equality of wealth? How is that not aimed at equality per se?

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