Monday, April 16, 2012

Equality


Laurent Murawiec in The Mind of Jihad describes two types of revolution. One archetype is the French Revolution, which sought an equality of outcomes. The other archetype is the Anglo-Saxon (England’s Glorious Revolution and the American Revolution), which sought an equality of opportunity (pp. 257-258).

Both types of equality are important and have Christian roots. Emphases on caring for the poor and the most vulnerable underscore equality of outcomes; emphases on the dignity of all humans, individual initiative, contribution, and effort underscore equality of opportunity.

The challenge is to strike the best balance between equality of outcomes and equality of opportunity. Tilting exclusively in one direction or the other creates an unhealthy society. Overemphasizing equality of outcomes undercuts the incentive for achievement. Nations that have forced collectivization of enterprises have consistently experienced declines in productivity and generally reverted to greater private ownership of farms, factories, and other means of production. Overemphasizing equality of opportunity allows the exceptional individual to flourish. Government regulation in the U.S. developed as a response to the exploitative and abusive behavior of the robber barons who often profited at the expense of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

Constructive debates about equality will carefully nuance their arguments and support a balance of equality of outcomes and opportunity.

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