Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Equality of Opportunity

But there's a fundamental question on the meaning of "fairness." Does fairness mean everybody makes the same amount of money? Or does fairness mean everybody gets the opportunity to make the same amount of money?
-Rick Warren
This is a common thing among right-wingers, talking about how the left wants equality of outcome, but the right wants equality of opportunity. But it's not true.

I don't think anyone is especially interested in achieving either of those things (though democrat positions are a little closer to it). If you were really interested in having equality of opportunity, you know what one of the first things you should do is?

Ban private schools. Or at least make it so everyone can get in regardless of how much money their parents have, which would effectively just make them public schools. A better education means more and better opportunities. That's hardly equal, and it's not like it's poor kids' fault that they have poor parents.

But no one wants something like that. And I can't blame them. It's a bit too Harrison Bergeron, making things worse to make them more equal. Nonetheless, allows private schools allows inequality of opportunity.

Beyond that, "It takes money to make money". By accepting inequality of outcomes, you're accepting inequality of opportunity. A person who has spare money lying around can invest it, and make more with it. A person living paycheck to paycheck doesn't have that opportunity.

And that's only a couple of examples of how our system supports inequality of opportunity. There are lots more if you look, and those ones don't help the poor much either.

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