Even Steven – Fundamental Problems with Equality

Cookieby Deana Chadwell 11/30/14
The further into the frightening future we travel the more we will need to understand what has gone wrong with our national thinking, and more importantly, how we are going to correct it. We have spent the last 6 years listening to our dear leader chastise us about equality, about paying our “fair share,” about redistributing wealth. His ideas are essentially and hopelessly false and infantile; either we rid ourselves of such rubbish, or life in America will continue to go bad.

The idea of fairness is one of the earliest moral ideas that children grasp. If little Steven sees his sister with a cookie, he’s going to throw a fit if he doesn’t get one, too. You expect that in a little kid. Grown-ups understand the more sophisticated concept of justice – maybe Steven’s sister ate her broccoli and is being rewarded, maybe she helped wash the dishes and that is her wage. Steven’s too little to get that.

Basically there are two faces to the concept of fairness: fairness as in equality, and fairness as in justice. We can no longer afford to confuse the two.

  • Fairness, as in equality, deals with outcomes – outcomes that have to be forced. Let’s say Steven’s favorite aunt, Nancy, takes pity on him and forces his sister Suzy to share her cookie. That’s not just – she earned it and he didn’t, but it is
  • Fairness, as in justice, deals with process, with merit, with intrinsic value. Suzy completed a task; she screwed up her face, squinted her eyes, held her nose then chewed and swallowed the nasty vegetable. Her plate was clean and she had obeyed her parents. Steven had just flat out refused to be bribed into eating anything green. Justice demands that he suffer the loss of the treat. That’s sad for him, but it is

A nation’s government needs to be concerned with justice, not with equality. Why?

Because equality is a lesser idea than integrity – it is not equal to justice.

  • Equality suggests a numerical accounting.
  • Justice suggests a moral or legal accounting.
  • Equality emphasizes what we have, what we get, and does so with concrete, palpable measurements – salaries, property, pleasures. In feminist thinking all women should earn the same salary as men in similar jobs. That seems fair, but the just arrangement takes into consideration that women often quit their jobs to care for children, and often don’t enter the workforce until their male counterparts have accrued many years of experience. Parity here is not necessarily just.
  • Justice emphasizes action and accurate, truthful evaluation of that action. When the crowds went nuts in Ferguson it was because they were not looking for justice – they wanted equality. They wanted the life of Darren Wilson for the life of Michael Brown. No one was concerned about the actions of either person. They wanted a white life for a black one. Period. The crowd had that all backward – justice had been served, the evidence considered and an evaluation of the actions of both Brown and Wilson had been issued. But the crowd appeared unable to understand that level of fairness; they could only comprehend the little boy level, the Steven level, the you-got-yours-I-want-mine level.

But don’t our founding documents deal with equality? Yes – the Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal.” So, aren’t people entitled to demand that kind of fairness?[pullquote]…we could decide to read into it our own desires to return to childhood dependency and throw fits whenever life didn’t give us cookies.[/pullquote]

In the phrase “created equal” who is it doing the creating? God. Not the government, not other people, but God. “Created” indicates the beginning of a life, not the middle or the end. And if God created us He must have had a purpose for doing so. This statement refers, if one reads closely and thinks clearly, to equality in purpose. If God created each of us, then each of us has a reason to be here, a functional part to play in the plan of God, a place in that plan that is of equal importance to everyone else. That’s where we start. God didn’t create all thirty-somethings to earn the same wages or live in the same kind of houses. We were created different from each other, totally unique and sameness has no place in this picture.

We have to remember that our founding fathers had left a country where people were not deemed to have equal value. The peasants were the peasants and could become nothing more. The royalty was the royalty, and while they could become dead, they would never become peasants. That fixed status was part of what had driven people to these shores. Ridding themselves of the yoke of a frozen class structure was a big piece of the free market puzzle that this nation, and no other nation, solved.

Now we could look at this equality clause through a post-modern, deconstructionist lens and we could decide to read into it our own desires to return to childhood dependency and throw fits whenever life didn’t give us cookies. And most institutions of higher “learning” do just that. This is another part of our thinking that has to grow up if we are to remain America.

Equality in outcome can never be realized. When we institutionalize equality, some human beings have to impose that equality, and therefore those people are, by necessity, above all others. If Steven and Aunt Nancy is going to equalize cookie-eating, she has to have the authority to make Suzy share. And Nancy can have all the cookies she wants. Don’t forget that.

We can either have the market determine who has more (a matter of merit or justice), or we can have government determine who has more (in an effort to impose equality), but either way someone will come out ahead. If we determine superiority by justice – he who works hardest, has the best ideas, i.e. the most merit, then who-has-what will happen naturally and can fluctuate according to the wills of the individuals in the society. Yes some will become wealthy and will therefore have more power than others – temporarily, but that is always open to change. When someone who is more energetic, more intelligent, more talented will come along and supplant the powerful.

If, however, government determines who-has-what:

  • Individual talents and abilities are wasted, therefore there is less wealth available to share equally.
  • Change is slow, cumbersome, and usually ineffectual. Government has life-or-death power over individuals and private business does not; the fear of governmental reprisal stultifies ingenuity and progress.
  • Graft and corruption become more prevalent because the idea of justice and merit takes a lower position in the conscience of the society, and because everyone wants in on the opportunity to amass more than his own “fair share” of the wealth.
  • Government targets business, its nemesis. Therefore, in order for business to survive it has to sidle up close to government. This increases graft and corruption and further damages the fluidity of the markets.

Before long no one has any cookies – Aunt Nancy has eaten them all, and Suzy’s mom has gotten tired of baking cookies; there was no percentage anymore since Suzy was also refusing to eat her vegies; Suzy could see no advantage in doing so. Everything is even-Steven, yes, but no one wants an equal amount of nothing. We can only fix this by thinking clearly ourselves and by sending those clear thoughts out to others. Fill our national bandwidth with rational thought; push the nonsense back down the drain where it belongs.


Deana Chadwell blogs at ASingleWindow.com.
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Deana Chadwell

About Deana Chadwell

I have spent my life teaching young people how to read and write and appreciate the wonder of words. I have worked with high school students and currently teach writing at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. I have spent more than forty years studying the Bible, theology, and apologetics and that finds its way into my writing whether I'm blogging about my experiences or my opinions. I have two and a half moldering novels, stacks of essays, hundreds of poems, some which have won state and national prizes. All that writing -- and more keeps popping up -- needs a home with a big plate glass window; it needs air; it needs a conversation. I am also an artist who works with cloth, yarn, beads, gourds, polymer clay, paint, and photography. And I make soap.
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16 Responses to Even Steven – Fundamental Problems with Equality

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Fairness in terms of justice involves equality before the law. This is what happened, for example, in Ferguson, and naturally liberals didn’t like it because it didn’t give them what they wanted — the outcome that equated a young black punk (though we have no way of knowing if this was a regular thing or just one very bad mistake under the influence of a poor choice in a friend) with a policeman defending himself. But of course, the liberals who prate of equal outcomes in fact choose to live like medieval aristocrats. They want everyone else to be equal in their misery — below them and them and their fellow aristos.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    This is a terrific piece, Deana. I particularly appreciate your wink-wink, nudge-nudge, slightly playful condescension. Because, really, in order to explain this stuff to the people indoctrinated by Progressivism you do have to talk as if to a child.

    There is a time and a place for the kind of “equality” the Left values. And that place is Kindergarten (perhaps even the first or second grade). I remember that if you got caught chewing gum in class it was typical for a teacher to say, “Unless you brought enough for everyone, you have to spit it out.”

    With the developing psyche and moral system of toddlers and Kindergartners, you have to ease them into the real world. The Progressive universe is about a kind of “fairness” that keeps us eternally in a Kindergarten mindset. And I’ll be bold enough to say that I think women in particular are largely responsible for this. What I’ve heard is that there are now relatively few male teachers in public education. And it is generally the manly instinct (which our society has denigrated) that is the counter-balance to this nanny stuff.

    Now, that’s not to say that there are not plenty of sensible and well-balanced women out there such as yourself. But I do believe the over-emphasis of the feminine and the denigration and outright emasculation of the male has been a major factor in this infantile type of “fairness” that has captured so many minds.

    • Yes, Brad — I think you’re onto something there. I’ve sometimes wondered if women’s suffrage was, in the end, a good idea. Masculine no-nonsense toughness is missing from our culture in general, and a balance is necessary. We’ve lost that and as a result we’ve raised 2 generations of fit-throwing toddlers. In fact, one resides in the Oval office.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Balance! Yes! Which is better than a hit on my noggin’ which one expects to get these days for even suggesting that all the answers of life can’t be found in the complete and total application of feminism and the complete and total elimination of the traditional male.

        Obviously there is a bell curve aspect. You get women such as Margaret Thatcher and men such as the typical girly-man metrosexual who can’t be bothered to take a stand on anything because he’s just so darn “compassionate.”

        The perfect world will not be soon in coming. But in a good-enough one we honor the needed contributions of both men and women. A short list might look like this:

        Women
        + Nurturing
        + Non-confrontational
        + Sensitive

        Men
        + Instill values and discipline
        + The law giver
        + Clarity and necessary absolutes

        Certainly both can be encouraging. And either sex can have one or both sets of features. But by and large.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Additional:

        Also, I should make a note about “nurturing.” Man is a creature of both reason and emotion (and many other things as well). I think when we use the word “nurturing,” we commonly use it in the sense of “emotional nurturing.” And the lack of that can create monsters of us all.

        But men “nurture” too. We just don’t tend to think of it using that word. But they do. And there is, by and large, a good and necessary difference in how they nurture.

        When little Johnny falls down and scrapes his knee, mommy is there to kiss it and dry the tears. And father is there to say “Rub a little dirt on it and move on.” There’s clearly an age-appropriateness to all this. And men (and women) never lose the need for both. But when we get older (particularly if we are men, or aspire to be something more than nancy-boys) there comes a time when tears are counter-productive and we should just “rub a little dirt on it.”

      • Rosalys says:

        Absolutely! Women are more naturally nurturing. They want to be taken care of so that they care take care of their babies (loving husbands are included!) So, without a husband, it makes them many of them natural socialists. I believe that this is why God made man first and made him to be the head. Men are focused. They hunt; they track and zero in for the kill. Women are thinking, doing and seeing a dozen different things at once. They are natural multi-taskers. One is not better than the other, they are just different. This is one way in which in marriage the two become one. One compliments or completes the other.

        I will gladly give up my right to vote if the girly men in this country could give up the girly and be just men again.

        You hit the nail on the head! Obama is at the emotional level of a two year old, and an undisciplined one at that!

    • Rosalys says:

      Exactly! Liberals are immature babies, always whining about something!

  3. David Ray says:

    In light of Deanna’s article, I just couldn’t resist posting this old gem.

    “Parable of the Ant and the Grasshopper”

    TRADITIONAL VERSION:
    The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.
    The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.
    MORAL OF THE STORY: Be responsible for yourself!

    MODERN VERSION:
    The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.
    The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away . . .

    Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.
    CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.
    America is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?
    Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper, and everybody cries when they sing, “It’s Not Easy Being Green.”
    Jesse Jackson stages a demonstration in front of the ant’s house where the news stations film the group singing, “We shall overcome.” Jesse then has the group kneel down to pray for the grasshopper’s sake.
    Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry & Harry Reid exclaim in an interview with Larry King that
    the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper , and call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.
    Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity and Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer!
    The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the government.
    Hillary gets her old law firm to represent the grasshopper in a defamation suit against the ant, and the case is tried before a panel of federal judges that Bill Clinton appointed from a list of single-parent welfare recipients.
    The ant loses the case.

    The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last bits of the ant’s food while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant’s old house, crumbles around him because he doesn’t maintain it.

    The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the once peaceful neighborhood.
    MORAL OF THE STORY: Get the government to force others to be responsible for me instead. (Obama doesn’t work, so why should I?)

  4. GHG says:

    Taking God out of “ created equal” is oxymoronic, to start with, but doing so inverts the concept of equality. True equality is intrinsic, those things that are ours because we are human beings – life and liberty. There is no equality among the uniqueness of individuals, nor could there ever be. People trying to impose their version of equality is an affront to God because it seeks to change the individual’s uniqueness and take away liberty.

    A favorite scene from a movie is in “Enemy at the Gates” when the political officer Danilov realizes the ideal of communism doesn’t work:

    I’ve been such a fool, Vassili. Man will always be a man. There is no new man. We tried so hard to create a society that was equal, where there’d be nothing to envy your neighbour. But there’s always something to envy. A smile, a friendship, something you don’t have and want to appropriate. In this world, even a Soviet one, there will always be rich and poor. Rich in gifts, poor in gifts. Rich in love, poor in love.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Taking God out of “ created equal” is oxymoronic, to start with, but doing so inverts the concept of equality.

      Indeed. And one of the most brilliant observations I’ve run across in some time is when Deana said this about the meaning of “created equal” in the Declaration of Independence:

      This statement refers, if one reads closely and thinks clearly, to equality in purpose.

      I would also include equality in being, equality in the right to life, and equality in the basic (negative) rights of man (as opposed to the so-called “positive” rights which is the supposed “right” to other people’s money and property via such slippery terms as the “right” to housing, etc….who’s going to be forced to donate their time and energy to build someone else a house?)

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I don’t think it can be said enough that the phrase dealt with men’s equality before the Law and that Law was Natural Law, i.e. God’s Law. The Declaration was dealing in fundamentals in that paragraph. Particulars came later.

        • ronlsb says:

          Well said, Kung Fu Zu. Deana’s piece was superb but I do think you’ve more accurately defined the meaning of “equal” in the declaration. And the following phrase reiterates what you just said about being “equal”. The “and are endowed with certain inalienable rights” clearly refers to the right to be treated equally under the law (again, law referring to “natural law”).

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Yes, the Declaration of Independence was definitely dealing with the fundamentals “All men are created equal” is a metaphysical/philosophical statement stating man’s position in the universe, particularly in relationship to each other and why this should be so (because man is not the measure of all things, for one).

          It’s interesting to think about the sometimes fine line between the Jeffersonian concept of equality and the hysterical version that became Thomas Paine’s version in France in the heady (and headless) days of The Revolution. The so-called “Rights of Man” was not a metaphysical statement of the inherent quality of a human person/soul. It was a religious-like conviction and ecstatic “social vision” promising the escape from one’s self and one’s inherent duties — and a sort of cheesy, naive “Brotherhood of Man” belief. But such a belief was tinged with zealotry not brotherly love. A lot of people were horribly killed in the name of this love and these “rights.”

          For the most part, the American Revolution did not give in to the Utopian excesses and cravings of the French Revolutionaries. It’s interesting to cast Washington, Jefferson, Adams, et al, in the role of “radical.” And what they did was truly radical in some respects. But they themselves did not generally have a radical “Let’s remake the world in our perfect vision” outlook. Such visions are generally the domain of kooks, Leftists, and Libertarians. But it was not the vision of the Founders.

          There is a wisdom and equanimity — immaterial and esoteric as such things may be — that provide the crucial and necessary underpinning for ideas that are not just loopy and driven by mad emotional passions. We saw that in John Adams, for instance, who defended the British soldiers (successfully) in the Boston Massacre. Certainly he was trying to build a name for himself (although what a potentially career-destroying cause to attach one’s name to.) But he hated mobs. He was not a “Democrat” in any way, shape or form. (Nor was he a monarchist as the rabid Jeffersonian/Madison wing claimed.)

          • Timothy Lane says:

            This is a point that was made at the time. The United States was a revolt against the existing government — in essence, a secession. (Note that the Confederate Constitution, similarly, relied heavily on the United States Constitution.) By contrast, under the Jacobins the French Revolution became a total revolution, even establishing new measures and a new calendar (which was dropped after Napoleon became sufficiently powerful) and also warring against the Church as well as the King, the aristocracy, and the old bureaucracy. (Lavoisier was guillotined because he had been a tax collector under the Ancien Regime.)

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