Notice the Irrationality of Egalitarianism
adjective egal·i·tar·i·an i-ˌga-lə-ˈter-ē-ən
: aiming for equal wealth, status, etc., for all people
If you don’t think about it, equality is a great idea. I mean come on, right? That word has a ring to it!
During my days as a liberal, I took many things for granted, and left many stones unturned. I thought I thought deeply and rationally, but I didn’t think hard enough (I’m only 27 now, so gimme a break here). The concept of equality just seemed right to me, and I never really questioned it.
Before you continue reading, take a minute or two to try and answer this simple question: Why is equality good?
I’ve never heard or come up with a good answer, which leads me to believe there may not be one.
Here’s what I don’t mean: we should have unequal rights. That’s ridiculous. Blind justice is obviously the best philosophy when it comes to governing a society. The color of your skin, the beliefs in your head, the endeavors of your life, the activities in your bedroom, and the contents of your underwear should have ZERO influence on what laws you must follow or what you may choose to do with your future.
You know what else shouldn’t matter? Your account balance. I used to subscribe to the popular notion that the rich should be taxed to the gills, and the poor should be nearly, if not completely, tax free. Whoops! Not only does that fly in the face of actual fairness (same rules and regulations for all), but it makes for a comically grotesque society. I’ll use my experiences in managing a classroom as an analogy:
As a teacher, I have to pass judgement on my students in the form of grades. The students who take care of their responsibilities, act like mature adults, put effort into their work, produce stellar test and project results, and go above and beyond my clearly laid out standards are rewarded with the best scores. Not only do they get good grades, but they naturally incur my respect in the form of extra responsibilities like relaying messages to their peers and leading class discussions. I’m also more inclined to go out of my way to help these students with favors like letters of recommendation because, well, I recommend them.
The students who fail to achieve what my top scorers do get lower scores, and are less often asked to take leadership roles. In fact, the additional opportunities they tend encounter are make-up assignments and extra credit work (in other words, more crap to deal with). These opportunities are offered solely to prevent them from failing (well, from receiving low scores as the Thai education system I teach in juices grades and has a no fail policy), not to assist them in catching up to their more successful peers.
This system mimics life to a T. If you work hard, impress others, and do what you have to do, you’re likely to wind up in a favorable situation. If you don’t, the odds go way down. Has any rational person ever objected to a teacher running a classroom in this manner? If you can think of somebody, please notice the word rational as part of the criteria I’m looking for.
Now, for comedy’s sake, let’s suppose a teacher adopted an egalitarian style of authority over a class…
Two days before high school graduation, Leopold ashamedly shuffled into his teacher’s office and timidly squeaked, “Teacher?”
“Yes, Leopold,” his teacher replied.
“Teacher, I only have a 64 average. There’s no way I’ll be able to get into a good college with scores this low.” Leopold pouted at the floor.
“Oh, Leopold! I’m so sorry! Whatever can I do?” the teacher concernedly replied.
“Well, Gilbert has a 94 average.”
“A 94?!?! That cretin! That selfish, greedy monster!” the teacher grumbled.
Leopold rested his hand gently on the infuriated teacher’s shoulder. “Wait, teacher!” he said, “If you give me 15 of Gilbert’s points, we’ll have equality! And I’ll be able to get into a good school!”
The teacher’s face swelled with delight. “Oh, Leopold! How clever you are! I’ll find that bully to make sure he pitches in his fair share at once!”
The teacher led Leopold down the hall and into the library where Gilbert was quietly reviewing his chemistry notes. The teacher slammed Gilbert’s book shut and shouted, “Gilbert! Leopold and I have had enough of your point-hoarding and outright lack of concern for others! We demand your surrender of 15 points to be awarded to young Leopold, so we can have equality!”
Stunned and confused, Gilbert replied, “But teacher, I worked really hard for my points!”
“Stop your whining, fiend!” the teacher scolded, an index finger just a few inches from Gilbert’s face.
“But teacher,” Gilbert pleaded, “Leopold never does his work! He spends all his free time watching television. And he’s very disruptive in class.”
“Racist!” Leopold protested.
The teacher inhaled a powerful gasp that pulled several books from the shelves onto the library floor.
“What!?” Gilbert cried, perplexed.
“Gilbert! I will not tolerate racism in my classroom!” the teacher sternly proclaimed.
“Why do you hate poor students, Gilbert?” the teacher steamrolled. “Why do you want everyone to suffer for your own personal gains?”
“Teacher,” Gilbert began, taking a deep breath, a look of skeptical sensibility upon his brow, “if Leopold wanted to get a higher score, he should have worked harder and made better decisions.”
“Ow! My feelings!” Leopold screeched.
The second gasp produced by the teacher was of such tremendous force that a pigeon flying past the library was caught in its vortex, and was sucked through the window, and into the teacher’s throat. The teacher fell to the floor red of face and choking for air. Gilbert leapt to the teacher’s aide, and confidently began CPR, a skill he had learned to administer at an afterschool workshop the year before (Leopold was smoking pot and playing video games that day). After clearing his teacher’s breathing passage, he coaxed the pigeon back to life (a trick he had read about in The Complete Bird Owner’s Handbook while riding a train into the city for a seminar in entrepreneurship), and returned the critter outside. The pigeon tipped his cap to the boy and thanked him before flying off.
“How dare you!” the teacher resumed.
“But Teacher!” pleaded Gilbert.
“I’ve had enough of your self-interested ways! It’s time you paid your fair share! And I’m through asking!” The teacher revealed a pistol and pointed it at Gilbert’s forehead. “Hand over your points this instant.”
“Teacher, wait a minute!” Leopold interjected. “We can do this the democratic way, can’t we? Let’s have a vote!”
The teacher’s face lit up with delight once more. “Leopold, you clever, clever boy! A vote it is. I vote in favor of equality!”
“Me too!” Leopold loudly concurred with a grin.
“Well, that settles it!” the teacher concluded, and raised the pistol once more. “Gilbert, your points. Now.”
Egalitarian/socialist/communist/feminist/leftist policies (exaggerated or not) would be silly and ridiculous in a classroom. Why then do we consider them a viable means of running a nation? Instead of rewarding the hardest-working, most dedicated members of society, these approaches to governing penalize those who do well in the form of heavy taxes. Concurrently, those who choose not to work hard or to prioritize trivial things above their survival and chance at wealth are compensated with welfare and public establishments. The figurative valedictorian owes, and the class clown collects.
Who winds up getting hurt the most by these systems in real life? Well, it’s not the superrich. They’ll manage even with exponential tax rates, and will have a nice, big, fat government to get in bed with. It’s obviously not the dregs of society. They get free food, water, shelter, and spending money in exchange for irresponsibility and immorality. And the children of those people are heartbreakingly born into a cyclical hell of dependence that is nearly impossible to break free from. They are forced to accept whatever the authorities decide to give them, and have no control over their lives (you know, like infants).
The people who are hurt the most are the genuinely needy and the working class. Those of us who are unfortunately born with severe handicaps (Down’s syndrome, blindness, conjoined twins) or suffer great tragedies (combat injuries, cancer, become orphaned) are less likely to receive charitable assistance in a welfare state since those who would have enough wealth to donate are already obligated (at gunpoint) to pay what some members of society have arbitrarily deemed “a fair share”. People who become reliant on society at no fault of their own share the welfare pot with those who choose dependency.
Also negatively affected are middle class folks who may have elected to balance their desire for financial security with other undertakings offered by life like education, travel, having children, or helping people in need. Or maybe they just missed a few breaks and failed to become particularly well-off. Instead of being able to continue what they, as individuals, deem to be a reasonable lifestyle, they are stripped of comfort and liberty, and must instead worry about how big of a bite the leftist government will take out of their asses.
In the end, leftist systems punish success and reward failure. They undermine the potential for charity and sharing, and hinder any practical safety nets for those who are legitimately unable to help themselves. Additionally, collectivist societies are completely dependent upon the threat of violence; few people would pay their taxes if being thrown in jail or taken down by police were not possible consequences for disobedience. Bad means, and bad ends.
Capitalism is the complete opposite, and it’s the best system (or, maybe, non-system) there is. In a capitalist world, those who work the hardest and make the best decisions generally reap the most benefits. If they’ve yet to acquire whatever it is they desire, they are free to work harder (which is not to be taken for granted) to get ahead. And while people are free to choose not to work, and are endowed with the individual liberties required to make detrimental choices in life if they want to, there is, righteously, no free meal ticket to be presented to them at the expense of others when the chickens come home to roost.
If you think about it, capitalism is basically forced altruism. How do you succeed in a free market world? You provide services and goods that improve the lives of others. You satisfy people, make them happy, and get paid for it. Those means and those ends sound a lot better than “equality” to me.
If I’m wrong here (in my overall points, not nitpick-able details), I’d like to know where I messed up. Feel free to comment on my Facebook page or in the comment section of my blogsite.
In my next post, I’ll talk about morals and values, and common sense (which doesn’t bode well for feminism). I hope you enjoyed reading!