‘All humans are equal’, ‘there should be equal opportunity for everyone’ and ‘all cultures are equal’. These three sayings form the undefined bases for specific plans of action in the realm of politics. The lack of definition is not a handicap, as those who use the sayings do so to draw upon us connotatively, not denotatively; that is, to pull at our hearts and ‘sense of fairness,’ not our brains and ‘cold’ logic.
However, if the sayings are given a simple review, their nonsensical nature can be seen; if implemented as policy (the goal in politics), their destructive (and immoral) nature can be revealed, and preempted.
‘All humans are equal.’ Equal in what? And what is it to mean all humans? – this secondary question frames the first, for we must have an idea of what should be equal amongst the population. Equal in ability? – how is an invalid like Stephen Hawking equal to an athlete like Michael Phelps in ability to exercise? – or how could Michael Phelps be equal to Stephen Hawking in the case of understanding the nature of black holes? – or a physically fit adult as contrasted to a newborn be equal in independence? The obvious answer is that they are not equal. Equality requires context, for if the blanket statement is left alone, it includes the aforementioned absurdities.
‘There should be equal opportunity for everyone.’ Opportunity to do what? And, who is to be granted this opportunity, and how? In a similar vein as ‘all humans are equal,’ the second question(s) frames the first, for we need to have a ‘whom to help, who is to help that one, with what, and toward what end’. When roles have been given, assignments made, they can be implemented and followed.
A brief review of this saying shows inherent contradictions and how it is impossible to practice. The saying emphasizes ‘equality’ for everyone for purposes of helping those who lack opportunity. If we are to be designated into classes that some are to be ‘helpers’ and the others ‘helped’, then there is not equal opportunity for some are being given assistance while others are having to assist. In the saying’s own terms, some have boons bestowed upon them by the forced loss of someone else, by law.
How can this be if ‘all humans are equal’?
How can this be if ‘all are to have equal opportunity’?
Aside from the inherent contradiction, there is the remaining impracticality of even attempting to make things equal. There are some who work and study hard, and there are those who put forth minimal effort in work and study, while they want to have fun and party. Should these people be equalized? – should the ones who work hard subsidize those who do not? – should those who made poor decisions be bailed out by others? (individual or corporate welfare).
There are those who get awarded by pop culture as ‘sexist man/woman alive,’ and there are those who are just plainly not attractive to the general public. Is there a way that these different people can be made equal in attractiveness? There are men and women who live past 100-years of age, smoking and drinking up until their death, and there are babies who are born with diseases that if they do not die quickly, have a lifetime of suffering. How can these young and old, healthy and unhealthy be made equal?
They cannot be made equal.
Life is not zero-sum.
The older did not steal the life and health from the youth; the attractive did not steal looks away from the ugly. Michael Phelps did not steal physical ability from Stephen Hawking; Stephen Hawking did not steal scientific understanding from Michael Phelps. The productive did not take away from the unproductive, but created wealth; wealth must be produced from the productive before it can be taken to be given to those who did not produce it. As Leonard Piekoff quipped in a debate (in 1984) on the morality of Capitalism vs. Socialism “It is a Marxist myth that you get rich at the expense of the poor. If they’re poor, how did you get the money from them to begin with?”
If the comparisons sound unfair, such as genetic predisposition contrasted to results from work, then consider – that which someone has no control contrasted to which someone does have control – the one that as a practical matter can be ‘equalized’ in some way is the result from work and choice (or lack thereof), not luck or chance in nature. If someone worked poorly or made bad decisions, why should there be an attempt to equalize the results with those who acted rightly, or smartly? It is not just folly, it is theft to the extent one can, take away from the one who had earned to give to the one who had not earned. Work itself is not a barometer, for one may toil greatly to dig a ditch with a spoon, it does not mean they are as productive as one who uses a shovel, or a backhoe.
What ‘pie piece’ did Bill Gates take from the poor in order to start Microsoft? – Steve Jobs take to start Apple? In creating their enterprises, there was no preexisting ‘wealth pie’ that those two hoarded from others. How many more ‘pies’ were created from numerous individuals using the products from those two? – that number is incalculable, but there are well over a million directly employed by the two companies. Countless others utilize their products to produce other goods and services. Again, wealth is created.
‘All cultures are equal.’ Just like with ‘all people are equal,’ we must ask: equal in what? There is also a question that must be asked to frame the first: what constitutes a ‘culture?’ Is a culture to be nation-bound, such as American, Greek, Chinese, and the like? – is a culture to be around race, such as black or white? – what around sex/sexuality, such as gay, straight, transgendered? – is it to be local, such as a family, neighborhood, city or state? – or religious, such as Islamic, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Agnostic or Atheist? How would the family culture of a homosexual group in rural Oklahoma be equal to the European continent? – in what way would, could they be equal?
If we grant/infer a narrowed definition to compare religions or nations, compare North Korea that has no freedom of speech or religion and is centrally planned (meaning individual wants and desires for life are irrelevant as the State dictates and may imprison or kill dissidents), as contrasted to the United States of America with its Bill of Rights; the requirements of women to cover up and to always have a male escort when outside of the house, in Saudi Arabia, as contrasted to female CEOs of successful companies and political figures in the United States and Westernized societies; countries that still practice female genital mutilation (for women are not to enjoy sex in order to stay true to their future husbands, and mutilated ones are not as apt to ‘stray’) in some African countries to the sexual liberation of women in Europe. With respect to religion, as Sam Harris succinctly stated “People have been murdered over cartoons. End of moral analysis.”
Vagaries are what they are because they are intended by the speaker to not be specific, but have the definitions filled in by the listener. It is the way for the speaker to sound meaningful, but say nothing while meaning is supplied by the listener. Following this, the speaker can always return and say ‘exactly’ when the listener favorably recounts what was said, and can say ‘I did not say that’ when what was recounted was not favorable.
As political movements (politicians) use these vague sayings, agendas are being pushed. Any movement needs not only its heroes (the politicians and those who they are trying to make swoon), but also villains (an amorphous other) that can be blamed for the ills of society. Examples include white supremacists blame blacks, black supremacists blame whites, various groups blamed the Jews, feminists blame the patriarchy, the proletariat blamed the bourgeoisie; a common theme runs across each of these aforementioned groups, most clearly in the last, and is emphasized in modern politics as the poor and middle class against ‘the greedy rich’ who do not ‘pay their fair share.’ The criticism is an explicit admission of people not being equal in principle and not in practice – enshrined in law. Using the data from the IRS and OMB, not even 4% of the population had filed income tax returns showing yearly income greater than $200,000, but that 4% paid 55% of the income taxes paid to the State; those making under $50,000 a year total around 63% of the population, paid around 6% of income taxes to the State.
Equal treatment for all of us who are to have equal opportunity?
‘But they game the system’ some decry. So we must ask: the response to someone gaming the system is to one-up their gamesmanship with more of the same instead of eliminating how the system is ‘gamed?’ You instead want to enshrine division, special treatment and classism in favor of legal plunder? – further etch unequal treatment into the laws of the land?
This brings us to our last point: through unequal treatment, there is an attempt at granting by State (forced redistribution), opportunity of one group at the cost of another. In order for the State to give lower-income voters A and B some funds, those funds must first be taken away from voter C; in a ‘democracy’ as he is outnumbered, he loses. But there are some points to consider. What constitutes as poverty is unequal; poverty in Westernized societies where one in poverty may have a place to live, refrigeration, a car, TV, cell phone and the like, is not the same as poverty in Somalia, or such places where workers do not make $2.50 a day. Those in poverty in Westernized societies have access to plumbing, while there are more than one billion across the planet that do not have adequate access to water. One-third of homeless in the United States are obese, while around one billion across the planet are chronically mal- or under-nourished. How much should be taken in food and money from the poor in Westernized cultures, in order for the much-poorer in other cultures to have ‘equality?’
That you can read this means you have an unequal advantage over some, for around 17% on the planet are still illiterate – 2/3 of those are women. That you can see at all means you have not been afflicted with glaucoma, macular degeneration, a parasitic worm (e.g. Loiasis, or Loa Loa worm), or other eye conditions that could impair or blind. There are some who were born in an environment where it is thought sex with virgins helps protect against the AIDS virus, making rape victims as young as six-months old in South Africa, or where rape victims may be stoned to death for adultery, such as in some Middle-East countries. You could be born into a society that offers medial services and has numerous opportunities, but be like Jonathan Pitre (a.k.a. Butterfly Boy, born with Epidermolysis Bullosa, where the skin all over the body is so weak it easily blisters and tears, and there is no cure for the painful condition), or to neglectful parents such as Herbert and Catherine Schaible who let their two infant sons die, as the parents preferred ‘faith healing’ over readily-available medicine. In nearly every way, shape and form you may be the equal of another with respect to physical endowments, education, and in the same environment, but this other prefers to party and not work hard, while you moderate your entertainment with work.
How could any of these be made equal?
Where they have a chance at being made equal, why should they?
One attempting wit may remark ‘what about no zero-sum, if taking away from the productive for the unproductive is not removing from a single sum?’ That is simply following zero-sum in its illogical nature to its necessary conclusion, ignoring the reality. There was nothing until it was produced, and what was produced was taken; there was and is not a preset amount to be divided/redistributed. There was no preexisting pie with equal allocations for each person, for simply existing; where there was nothing, something can be made. More can be produced, but why should one work for two when the second is not?
People are, or should be, equal in one regard. As long as we do not violate the rights of another individual, our equality before the law should be no more than in how law (i.e. the State) does not hinder us in our lives. Aside from being equal in not being hindered by the State, you are equally unequal as by Nature’s intent: there is nothing in Nature that placed you where you are, as contrasted to a child that will be abused, a subject under a tyrant, a debutante who will inherit billions, or anything else. Nature does not play favorites – choose some individuals for boons or curses. If the State tries to grant anything outside of leaving people unencumbered the legal restrictions, then someone necessarily loses while another gains, whether it is in actual production or ability.
Your place in life is what it is, because it is; it is up to you to do what you will with it. Michael Phelps swims, and Stephen Hawking studies space; they pursue their goals, using what they have and working at maximizing their abilities. And you are able to do as such, as you can, with the equal status of one who merely does not have the State hindering you. No one else is obligated to help, though they can. Interfering with their ability to choose interferes with their ability to direct their lives. Unequal treatment by law. Implementation in law of such vague goals brings with it an undefined, yet contradictory system that has the legal force of law behind it: legal arbitrariness.
"The worst form of inequality is to try and make unequal things equal." - Aristotle
"The worst form of inequality is to try and make unequal things equal." - Aristotle
In your equality will you push inequality upon others?
(numbers from WorldHunger.org, WorldBank.org, Harvard.edu, Statistic Brain Research Institute, PewResearch.org).