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Inequality: Does it matter?

Posted by Chance on February 19, 2008

There were a couple of thoughtful comments to my last post.

The term inequality was brought up. So my question is this: does inequality matter?

The term “equality” gives me a new way to frame the topic of my last post. Conservatives typically look at equality of opportunity, whereas liberals tend to look at equality of resources. But doesn’t resources equal opportunity? To some extent, yes.

But conservatives goal with government programs are typically different than that of liberals. Conservatives look at government as mostly a protector, even if their view is not limited to that of a military. Conservatives see welfare as being available for those who truly need it; and like the military, they may see it in terms of protecting people from bad things, such as hunger, living in the streets, etc… This is opposed to the more providing role of welfare as envisioned by liberals.

Conservatives typically view the role of welfare and other government programs as providing food and resources for those who need food and resources. It appears that liberals want government programs to “level the playing field” and provide equality.

Should equality be a goal? This is where I disagree with liberals. I think what a person has should be viewed in terms relative to their needs.

Look at it this way. If I have a 2-bedroom house over my head and I have enough groceries for 3 meals a day, does it really matter that my neighbor lives in a mansion and eats at the finest restaurants? No, I’m not saying gov’t should provide homes and groceries, but my point is this: when we look at the poor, we should see if their needs are being met, not what they have relative to the rich.

When taxes are used to provide help for those who need it, I’m okay with that. When taxes are used to make sure people have the same amount of stuff, that breaks the Tenth Commandment.

Now, I’m not saying inequality never matters, because life is a competition, whether it is in school trying to get the best grades, or competing for scholarships, or competing for jobs based on the schools you attended. The schooling system is where inequality can shine through the most. But this is precisely where resources outside of government can provide the most help. The status quo with our school system is that the quality of school you get is proportional to how much house your parents can afford. School choice programs do equal the playing field.

When it comes to basic needs, comparisons between groups should not matter. However, inequality does play a role to what resources we have, and I believe school choice can greatly help with that.

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One Response to “Inequality: Does it matter?”

  1. Teresa said

    Hi Chance,

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I thought I’d come and check yours out.

    In Minnesota we have school choice, but it’s not the kind that people usually mean when they say “school choice”. We have open enrollment. That is, a student can attend any public school that they wish to attend. This includes High School Juniors and Seniors attending college or VoTech schools.

    We also have a charter school scheme, which has operated with varying levels of success…mostly depending on how hard some parents work to use them as a political footbal to advance an agenda. Charter schools founded in good faith tend to do well.

    We don’t have vouchers for private schools. Mostly, I think because private schools are not required to have certified teachers.

    Also, I think ’cause our largely liberal citizenry view vouchers as an attempt to loot public funds for private business and religious agendas (I could be wrong).

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