“Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather
be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.”
~Alexis de Tocqueville~
There is a great deal of misunderstanding in America over the word equality. From the discussions I have had with people it would seem that most people believe equality to mean being entitled to something they haven’t earned. For instance, where I work there are people who think that they are entitled to the same pay anyone else doing the same job they do receives, but at the same time they ignore the fact that to get that pay there must be an equality of work performed to earn it. There are some people who seem to think that their mere presence on the premises entitles them to a paycheck, and if they are to be expected to actually perform any work they should get paid extra to do so. They want equality of pay, but where is the equality of effort put forth to earn that pay when you compare them against someone who actually does work?
So many people believe that simply because they exist as sentient beings they are entitled to all manner of things without ever having to earn them. Take their opinions for example, people expect me to respect their opinion when they haven’t put forth any effort to study the subject; and when someone who has studied it extensively offers up a differing opinion they are ridiculed or insulted. It used to be that knowledge was something that was admired and aspired to. Nowadays people aspire to ignorance and believe that still entitles their opinions to be given the same weight as those held by someone who has extensively studied a subject. Again we have people who think that they are entitled to something, (respect for their opinion), but at the same time believe that they are not obligated to expend any real effort in formulating that opinion. It seems that people think they can say whatever inane thought crosses their minds, and then expect others to respect their thoughts as if they were the gospel truth.
Our Founders believed that all men were created equal, but where men end up in life is based upon what they do with their lives; how hard they work, how much they study, or how honest and industrious they are. Justice, at least in my opinion, is giving each and every human being an equal opportunity in life; neither aiding or restricting them in their pursuits. However, that is the extent to which equality goes; no one is guaranteed or promised success in life.
Take my job for instance, it doesn’t take a PhD to perform it, but it does take some physical strength and a certain amount of common sense. Some people are simply lacking in those attributes, yet they expect that they are entitled to do that job, and earn the pay that goes along with it. Hell, I’d love to play professional sports or be a rock star so that I could make millions and have the admiration of millions of fans, but I can’t play football or play a musical instrument. However, using the logic most people do when it applies to equality, I should be allowed to be up on stage singing alongside the Rolling Stones and making millions of dollars for doing so regardless of my talent or the effort I put forth to earn that status in life.
What equality actually means is the equality of opportunity and the equality of rights; no man is above others in either aspect regardless of stature or position in life. A man born into poverty should have the same rights and the same opportunities as a man born into riches. While that isn’t always the case, it is theoretically the way things are supposed to function in our country.
All things being equal, (and I’m sorry for the pun), I should have the same rights and opportunity as some guy living in Nevada, and he should have the same rights and opportunity as someone living in New Hampshire.
Switching gears for a moment then, why is it that there are those living in some States who are permitted to purchase certain firearms that I am restricted from purchasing simply because my lawmakers in California have decided that it is illegal for me to own them? Where is the equality in that scenario?
To take that one step further, if government is created by the people, and run by people chosen from among the great mass of the people, then shouldn’t you or I be equal in rights and opportunity as any government employee? Why is it then that an entity created by the people can turn around and possess firearms that this same entity tells the people they are not permitted to own? Where is the equality; especially if you consider the fact that the 2nd Amendment was written so that the people would be on equal footing with any standing army their government might rise up to enforce tyranny upon them? Are we equal to them if they own fully automatic weapons and the latest in military hardware and we are restricted to semi-automatic weapons with 10 round magazines?
Since people are so in love with equality, how can they justify a tax system that taxes the rich at a higher percentage of their income than it taxes the poor? Where is the equality when one segment of society gets hit with a tax that amounts to close to 40% of their income, when the poor pay only 10%?
If someone were to decide that you were a useless drain on society; that you were simply not worth keeping alive, could they kill you and sell off your body parts without your consent? Of course not, that would be murder. Then where is the equality for the millions of unborn fetuses who have had their lives ended and their parts being sold off for scientific study?
While I am not condemning people who strive for equal status and stature in their lives, I have serious issues with government enacting laws that mandate equality. I don’t care how many laws government passes, it can’t change the fact that people are not always equal in all things. Some people are simply not equipped with the same skills as others, while there are some who have been blessed with great beauty while others are just average looking. No laws are going to change these facts; and to try and force equality upon everyone does not elevate others to an equal position in life it lowers those with beauty or skill to the same level as those who do not have those characteristics.
How many laws have been enacted to combat poverty; how many millions of dollars have been confiscated from working people’s pay and redistributed to those in need? Yet poverty still exists because all these programs do is take money from those who have earned it and given it to those who haven’t earned it.
People, and I say this in general terms, don’t want to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make in life. How many people drop out of high school without obtaining the skills to communicate or perform simple math calculations, yet then expect that they be given an equal chance for employment; or when they can’t find a job, expect society to care for their every need?
What ends up happening when the government gets involved is that it creates a dependency upon these programs and benefits, and people no longer believe they should have to work to receive them. Hell, people say their rights would be violated if they were required to take a drug test before receiving their welfare check, but I could lose my job if I were to fail a drug test. Where is the equality when a working man must submit to drug testing by their employer, but someone who survives off the money that was taken from those who do work is not required to pass a drug test to receive that money?
Our schools, for crying out loud, are handing out participation trophies simply so that the feelings of all concerned will not be hurt. We are raising entire generations of children who grow up believing that no effort is required to succeed in life; that all one has to have to achieve success is a pulse.
Yet back when our country was being founded Ben Franklin wrote, “I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”
What a novel concept; actually elevating people out of poverty instead of lowering everyone into poverty to care for those who are already there. It’s like the old saying, “Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you will have fed him for a lifetime.”
I once met a guy who had an eidetic memory; which means he could basically memorize everything he ever saw or read. It was amazing to watch him recite, word for word, entire pages from books he’d just picked up and glanced at. I, on the other hand, have to read things over and over and over just to make heads or tails out of what is being said.
Yet people tell me I’m smart. In fact, just last night someone told me that a reader of my articles said that I should return to school; not to learn more, but to teach history and civics. People seem to think that whatever knowledge I have comes easy to me. Well, it doesn’t; I have to work hard to obtain it. As much as I despise Alexander Hamilton as a man and a politician, I do respect the fact that he worked hard to achieve his status in life. Hamilton himself once said, “Men give me credit for some genius. All the genius I have is this. When I have a subject in mind I study it profoundly. Day and night it is before me. My mind becomes pervaded with it… the effort which I have made is what people are pleased to call the fruit of genius. It is the fruit of labor and thought.”
I would love to see how government would implement a law saying all people must be equal in intelligence and knowledge. Are they just going to plug people’s brains into a giant computer and upload knowledge, as they do in the science fiction film The Matrix? No, knowledge comes through study, and if you don’t study no number of laws is going to distribute it to the people. And as for intelligence, I’m not that smart, I have to read and re-read, ponder, and ponder some more, before I understand many of the principles and beliefs espoused by our Founding Fathers. But it is a personal choice for me; I have decided that the quest for knowledge is far more important than football or what’s trending on Twitter. It wasn’t mandated that I become knowledgeable; I made the choice to become so.
Sure, I will share the knowledge I have obtained, but I can’t force anyone to sit down and listen to me ramble on about politics; that must be your choice, your decision to become informed. On top of that, I can’t understand these facts for you; you must study them and come to your own understanding of them. No law is going to change any of that no matter how well intentioned it might be.
It is a dangerous idea to give government the ability to mandate equality. What if government decides that no one should be rich; that we should all be equal in poverty? What if government decided that we should all be equal in looks, that those who are born beautiful should be disfigured so that we are all equally ugly?
One of the most frightening stories I ever read was Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut. In this very short story Vonnegut tells about a dystopian future where government has finally succeeded in making everyone equal; but not in a good way. Those who are born beautiful are made to wear masks to hide their beauty; those who are strong are made to wear iron shackles to make them weak; those whose brains are capable of critical thought are made to wear implants that transmit loud noises which prohibit them from thinking.
In this future society a young man, Harrison Bergeron, has continued to exceed the government’s ability to limit him; to make him equal to others. He is captured, but escapes and makes his way to a television studio where he removes his hindrances and shows the world how extraordinary he is. Unfortunately, the Handicapper General, (The government employee who is charged with ensuring we are all kept equal) bursts into the studio and guns him down while his parents watch on television; unable to react because they too have been lowered to a state of equality with the dumbest of people.
As humans we are all born equal in that we have two arms, two legs, a torso and a brain. As humans we should be given equal opportunity to succeed or fail based upon how well we use our attributes. But to force equality upon all whether they deserve it or not is evil. People today openly proclaim that they are avid Socialists; that they seek some imagined Utopian society where everyone is equal.
Unfortunately, those who hold such beliefs are not equal in intellect; for if they were they would realize that in every instance where Socialism has been tried it has failed. Not only has Socialism failed in every instance it has been tried, it has led to oppression because in every instance it is tried there has always been a ruling class responsible for ensuring that everyone else is equal. This ruling class is always better off that those they rule over; and there is typically no limit to what they will do to hold on to their power once they get it.
I don’t want equality; that would be boring. Imagine if everyone held the exact same beliefs as you did; listened to the same music you did; watched the same TV shows you did; wore the same clothes you did. What a boring world this would become if that were to happen!
I like variety and the animating contest for liberty. I like the idea that I can make my life better only through my own efforts. I don’t ask, nor do I want, anyone else’s help to achieve success, and should I fail I don’t expect anyone be shouldered with the burden of supporting me.
In Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged there is a line that I wish everyone would make their personal motto, “I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” All I ask is that I be given an equal opportunity to succeed. I don’t want any special privileges, I only want the chance to succeed or fail based upon my own skill and merit.
At the same time, I become angered when I am told to hold back my opinions because they offend those who are too weak minded to accept facts which contradict their beliefs and opinions. When society silences the truth because others find it offensive, we all become equal in that we all believe the lie.
It could very well be said that freedom is the ability to seek equality on our own terms, while servitude and bondage is having equality imposed upon us at the lowest common denominator. Thomas Jefferson once said something I wholeheartedly agree with, “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”
I would much rather face life with only my own skill and drive to succeed than to live in a world where government protects and provides for my every need. Only the weak and timid would choose government mandated equality over the chance to succeed or fail on their own merits.
And if you ask me, Vonnegut’s novel is coming closer and closer to reality; at least as far as intellect and knowledge goes. I see more and more people who reject knowledge, reject the truth, and prefer the comfort of lies and deception.
If you want perfect equality in all things, maybe you would have been better off being born a sheep; as they are equal their entire lives – right up to the moment they are slaughtered. We are human beings, and we have a government that was supposed to protect our liberty; which means that we are free to make our own choices in life; not have those choices made for us by some politician or bureaucrat. But having that freedom means taking responsibility for your life and the choices you make.
Equality is a pipe dream; it will never happen unless you all want to be equal in servitude to those who rule over you. The unfortunate truth is that most Americans are already equal in ignorance and apathy, and are content to let their government micromanage their lives and destroy the liberty it was established to protect.
In any system there are always those who, for a lack of better names, are non-conformists. They are the rebels, the outlaws, those who question authority and the status quo. They are as natural to societies as are those who blindly accept whatever tyranny is imposed upon them.
Well I’m one of those rebels; I refuse to sit quietly by while tyrants try to deprive me of my liberty. At one point America was led by men who felt the same way I do; men like Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams. It only goes to show that most Americans are already equal in ignorance that I am ridiculed and condemned for simply repeating the very phrases and beliefs held by the men who sought to make America an independent country founded upon the principle of liberty for all.
Maybe we’re already equal in that…ignorance and stupidity I mean. If that’s true, then I want no part of your damned equality; you can stuff it where the sun don’t shine!