Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Freedom vs. Equality

I’ve recently come to the real reason for hatred between conservatives and liberals. The arguments about big government, taxes, illegal immigration, affirmative action, healthcare, privatization, social programs, etc., all stem from internal beliefs regarding freedom and equality. Conservatives would rather have freedom, while liberals would rather have equality. Obviously, governments get in the way of freedom, but can be strong agents in trying to bring about equality.

Freedom hinges on: capitalism/free markets, democracy, innovation, peace, wealth, discrimination based on merits, inequality. Means: hard work. Ends: attainable.

How much does freedom create inequality?
Inequality has always existed. It will always exist. There have always been haves and have nots. Some people are smarter than others. Some are stronger than others. Some people are blind, and others are deaf. The government tries to fight these 'gross inequalities' by throwing money at problems that can't be solved.

Equality hinges on: socialism, communism, fascism, discrimination based on race and gender, and ideas. Means: infringe on freedom. Ends: unattainable. (Did I just give equality unequal treatment?)

How much does equality suffocate freedom?
Example: government-sponsored healthcare. Government says they will provide healthcare for all. Everyone gets equally crappy healthcare. Though the rich can afford to pay for better healthcare, they are not allowed to pursue such care because well, that would be unfair for the poor people if the rich could, you know, spend their money.

Why can’t we still work towards equality?
I’ll let John Adams do the talking here:
“Are the citizens to be all of the same age, sex, size, strength, stature, activity, courage, hardiness, industry, patience, ingenuity, wealth, knowledge, fame, wit, temperance, constancy, and wisdom? Was there, or will there ever be, a nation, whose individuals were all equal, in natural and acquired qualities, in virtues, talents, and riches? The answer of all mankind must be in the negative. It must then be acknowledged, that in every state...there are inequalities which God and nature have planted there, and which no human legislator ever can eradicate.”

And here’s a scary thought: What if we let our freedoms go, and the government really did achieve stable, financial freedom for all. What would they equalize next? Do you think they would really stop with money? What would they do to people who are stronger, or taller, or prettier? Am I going to far? Is this a slippery slope idea that would never happen? I’m not speculating or anything, but I remember there was one this guy named Adolf who came pretty close to killing everyone that wasn’t like him.

Is there a happy medium?
Yeah. The government needs to give everyone equal opportunity to succeed or fail. The government needs to intervene equally in everyone life. People own the government; the governments don’t own the people. The government’s job is to be an administrator of justice, and should apply punishment to those citizens whose freedom infringes upon another citizen’s freedom.

That was my sarcastic, albeit true, response. Here's something to chew on: Maybe freedom can actually promote equality. Maybe the rich would benefit from giving to charity, helping the poor, or even throw money at eradicating disease. No one told Bill Gates that he had to start up the Gates Foundation. Maybe if people had more money, they would spend more money. And maybe some of that spending would go towards creating a 'more equal' world without forcing the government to force the people to be less free. But that's just me assuming that people have good intentions and generally like to be happy.

But the Constitution says we are all equal!!!

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…

John Adams, who helped to write the Constitution, says this:
That all men are born to equal rights is clear. Every being has a right to his own, as clear, as moral, as sacred, as any other being has. This is as indubitable as a moral government in the universe. But to teach that all men are born with equal powers and faculties, to equal influence in society, to equal property and advantages through life, is as gross a fraud, as glaring an imposition on the credulity of the people, as ever was practiced by monks, by Druids, by Brahmins, by priests of the immortal Lama, or by the self-styled philosophers of the French revolution. For honor's sake ... for truth and virtue's sake, let American philosophers and politicians despise it.

1. Freedom is more attainable than equality.
2. Freedom does more to promote equality than equality does to promote freedom.
3. Our nation is built on freedom and justice.
4. Pursue your happiness, don't wait for the government to give it to you.


tori said...

it's good that you're getting this all out of your system before you come to my blue state.

Karen said...

You know how I feel about your rants. How exactly does the conservative government promote freedom? They have a tendency to force moral values on people and enact laws to do so. I am not saying this is wrong, it just doesn't go with your freedom analysis. Also, religiously we will be living in a 'democratic society' eventually, what with the law of conservation and such. Give me all the arguments you want about having a righteous 'government' at that time, it will still be closer to what you presented the democratic government as.

Cassie: said...

You'll have to give me an example of a law that 'conservatives' have pushed through to force upon people a moral value. I can name a few laws or tax initiatives that liberals push through to force their morals on society: envioronmental sanctions that raise the price of land and therefore deter low income people from owning land, all to 'protect' the environment, and then there's taxes for social welfare systems like medicaid or disabililty. Those taxes essentially force people to give to and support the poor. Often times, at more of what they can afford. Wouldn't these be considered forcing morals upon others?

Karen said...

I was thinking of abortion, gay marriage,etc. I am definitely not arguing that it is wrong to enforce laws about these issues, I just don't think Conservatives are all about freedom.

Anonymous said...

After Abraham Lincoln
issued the Emancipation
Proclamation, freed
black males had more rights
than white females who had
never been enslaved, although
in reality, all females
had no better status in
the "land of the free"
than actual slaves had.

Mark said...

Sassy is obviously a Republican. Too bad in America you only get two choices. Things in life are rarely, if ever, black and white.

Freedom or Equality; Republican or Democrat; Capitalism or Socialism; Bushy or Obamy.


Should one have to choose between two polarities, or is life more a balancing act between the two? There are perhaps many shades of grey that are just as important to explore.

Granted, human beings want to be free to do anything they want. So do gorillas; so do dogs. Are we merely modified animals concerned only with eating, sleeping, pooping, srewing and rearing young? That does not make us civilized. Is doing anything we want good for us? A child may be free to run into the middle of a busy street, but it is not good for her.

True freedom comes not by doing ANYTHING YOU WANT, but by living up to doing what is right - by taking responsibily for one's life and helping others to take responsibility for theirs. God gave us freedoms so that we would share those freedoms with others. He gave us equality so that we would learn to see each other as part of one human family that takes care of its own.

Should not individuals, and society by extension, care for the well-being of all its members to some extent? What exactly constitutes an inalienable right in a society that lets those that are strong and wealthy use their power to dominate those that are weak and impovrished? Inalienable rights mean nothing when they do not transfer to the most destitute of one's society. When ALL are not protected, NONE are truely protected. 'Freedom' and 'equality' become hollow words that mean nothing: just writings on a piece of two-hundred year old parchment.

A wealthy society that does not use power to provide some basic dignity (food, shelter, clothing, education, healthcare) for all of its members is not demonstrating the moral or ethical high ground, but the depths to which it has sunk.

What IS existence apart from the modes and methods of procuring and sustaining that existence? What is the purpose of having existential rights (or freedoms) if only a select few can truely utilize them to their best use? If the wealthiest amoung us have no responsibility to uplift society - which gave them the vehicle through which they could procure their wealth in the first place - what does it say about them as human beings? Should we not give back to society for giving us the gift of freedom? It is never a one-way street.

Sassy was probably raised in an upper-middle class family that could afford escalating medical premiums for health care, the cost of post-secondary education, etc and so has the luxury of saying that the dignity of life should be worked for. If she ever had a serious medical problem that forced her to utilize her medical coverage to the point where she was no longer covered - I'm sure she'd be grateful for a little 'socialized' medicine. When health care costs - or the worry that those costs create in many American's minds - soar, one might be grateful they have a country that treats all citizens equally when it comes to medical coverage, even if the wait time is a little longer than expected. Labelling universal health care as a waste of money, without doing any real research into the true costs of medical coverage (which is grossly overweighted on the greedy - profit-driven privatized side) - just shows how ignorant she is coming from the safe life in a safe country.

It's easier to live a 'free' life when somebody else has to do the dirty work of fighting for it. It's easier to disregard equality when you are the one sitting on the pedestal looking down at the masses.