With all due deference to those models of restraint, wisdom, and reason who carried out the French Revolution (and its aftermath), a Nation-State cannot pursue both Liberty and Equality. It is a one or the other proposition. Choose to focus on Liberty and inequality will exist. Choose to focus on Equality and freedom and liberty will suffer greatly.
It was the design and original intent of the government of the United States of America to choose Liberty over Equality. Trying to balance the two has led us to the sorry state of affairs we find ourselves in today. We have noncommittally dabbled in socialism, central planning, and social engineering – which are the only paths to quasi-Equality. The result has been disastrous to say the least.
The reason these experiments have failed on such an epic scale is because the government of the United States of America – and also each state government – were simply not designed to be tools to be used towards achieving some kind of forced equality. In fact, our system of government is so focused on Liberty and Freedom that we have really mucked things up by pretending we want Equality.
Where Freedom and Liberty exist, there must be inequality. There is no way around it. Liberty creates a meritocracy wherein those who work and study and improve themselves prosper while those who do none of those things suffer. The only way to achieve equality for everyone is to greatly limit the Liberty of some. This is not practical, nor should it be desirable for anyone with any true sense of justice.
Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal. This is undeniably true, we are created to begin from the same starting point. We are humans, all of us, each with the same capacity for learning, growth, and improvement. The Declaration goes on to suggest that God has granted men certain indisputable rights, of which three are focused on: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Please note that Equality does not make the cut. The Right to Life is simple enough to understand. And the Right to Liberty being expressly stated simply confirms my assertion that our government was designed to focus on freedom. The Right to the Pursuit of Happiness is a bit harder for us to understand today.
We have perverted what was meant by the Pursuit of Happiness into some imaginary virtue of self-gratification. That was not what was intended. Instead, what the Declaration means when it says Pursuit of Happiness can best be re-stated as the right to better oneself. Our Founding Fathers understood that bettering yourself through study and hard work was a key to contentment. This is probably why it was phrased as the Pursuit of Happiness… because Happiness was understood to be achieved the pursuit of learning and work.
And so, I say again, Liberty- YES!, Equality- NO!
Now then, before your Bleeding Hearts make a red mess all over my blog, yes, ’tis slightly more complicated then that.
While we are created equal and each given the capacity to succeed, it would be Pollyanna-ish at best and willfully ignorant at worst to suggest that we have a truly level playing field.
However, I would suggest that it was Government intervention into these things which exacerbated and perpetuated these inequities.
The solution to inequity is not some Federal program. Rather it is the responsibility and proper province of State governments – and even more correctly – local communities to ensure that everyone gets a fair shake.
The silliness of Federal programs should be abundantly clear from the way they have so utterly been a waste. But, just the idea that a Federal, one-size-fits-all solution would actually work should have us all rolling on the floor (and laughing…although the idea might also cause seizures for people who actually think). But such forced quasi-equality is not only imbecilic…it is also at odds with our American system.
In short, Liberty trumps Equality as a needed focus for American government.
We have a choice in 2012. Will we seek to illegally re-write our Constitution, turn our backs on our nearly 250 year history of traditions and standards, and seek to implement the same horrendous systems that Europe is desparately trying to get rid of since they have failed miserably?
Or, will we choose to believe that Freedom is the best route to equity – that a man helping his neighbor is preferred to the government making that neighbor a slave to its whims. Will we choose to remember that Liberty is our God-given right?
These are not new choices, neither are my arguments unique to me. We have been having this same discussion in America for nigh unto 250 years. But it is important to continue having this discussion. Because if we do not remind people that Equality and Liberty cannot co-exist, people will tend to think that equality is desireable (without understanding its fatal costs). Forcing Equality will require the Death of Liberty…and with it, the Death of our Future. [cue dramatic music]. No, but seriously people. Let’s keep talking about the relative merits of Liberty versus Equality…and then let us make the correct decision. Freedom should win. Period.