Inequality: It’s a Good Thing

Inequalityby Jon N. Hall10/2/14
Equality is the highest value of the American political Left. So the Left is always on the lookout for any trace of inequality. And of course they find it — everywhere. That’s because equality doesn’t exist in this world, except when we get down on the micro level. On the micro level of quarks, electrons, photons, and such, equality reigns supreme. Indeed, if any subatomic particle were suddenly to become unequal, the world would end. But on the macro level, the world we live in, inequality is inescapable.

We do find exquisite equality, however, in the realm of abstractions. In mathematics we have equations: Two plus two equals four. (That’s how I’m betting, anyway.) And in political philosophy we have “All men are created equal.” Immortal words, but we know they aren’t true. Even identical twins aren’t really equal, despite having the same DNA. What Jefferson was getting at is that government should treat everyone equally, not favor a few. There are only two uses of “equal” in Jefferson’s magnificent Declaration, in the first paragraph and in the first sentence of the second paragraph.

In the original Constitution, there are exactly six iterations of the word “equal” and its variations. There are two iterations in Article I, three iterations in Article II, and a single iteration in Article V. In all these instances, the Framers use the word “equal” to refer to number. In the first ten amendments to the Constitution, The Bill of Rights, there is no instance of “equal.” In all the rest of the Constitution, Amendments 11 through 27, there are only two iterations of “equal.” One is in the 23rd Amendment, and it, too, has to do with number.

The remaining iteration of the word “equal” is found in the 14th Amendment, Section 1. I’ve saved it for last because unlike all the other iterations it doesn’t concern number. It’s called the Equal Protection Clause: “No State shall…deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

This little clause contains the one problematic iteration of “equal” in the Constitution and is the source of all our “equality problems.” In the 1970s some tried to extend this clause with the Equal Rights Amendment. But the ERA failed to get ratified before its 1982 deadline. Its operative provision was in Section 1: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

If we amend the Constitution for every way in which folks are different (i.e., unequal), the document is going to get awfully cluttered. Perhaps if the ERA had included other categories besides sex, like age, creed, race, appearance, etc., it could have gotten more traction and been ratified. (I reckon the gals just wanted their own amendment.)

But even today, 142 years after the 14th Amendment’s ratification, and after the civil rights movement, the 19th Amendment and all the rest, the sexes are still treated differently (unequally).

Perhaps nowhere else does the issue of sexual equality come to the fore more than in conscription: the military draft. One would think that when the government plucks a man out of his peaceful existence and puts him in harm’s way, perhaps to lose his life, that a nod to equality would be required so that sacrifice can be shared. But that’s not the case.

In Rostker v. Goldberg (1981), the Supreme Court held that excluding women from registering for the draft is constitutional. Justice Rehnquist wrote the Court’s opinion:

The purpose of registration was to prepare for a draft of combat troops. Since women are excluded from combat, Congress concluded that they would not be needed in the event of a draft, and therefore decided not to register them.

Rehnquist’s opinion is an evasion; it begs the question. Isn’t requiring only men to serve in combat discriminatory, unequal? (Justice Marshall’s dissent also misses the point.)

In requiring only males to register for the draft, the federal government is singling out one group, and making demands of that group that it doesn’t make of other groups. That is prima facie inequality. Imagine if only blacks had to register for the draft, or Jews. The consequence of this unequal treatment is that only males become combat casualties.

But that’s the way it should be. Although the Court’s reasoning in Kostker is faulty, the outcome of the case was correct, as excluding females from combat serves a vital public interest. And that’s because the sexes aren’t equal. The state must protect women more than men. Men are expendable. One (very busy) man can sire a nation. But one woman can usually birth only one child a year. If they were equally represented on casualty reports, America would have lost more than 200,000 women in WWII. We can’t have that. America needs her women stateside, being mothers.

So government not only legitimizes inequality, it institutionalizes it. And much of this institutionalized inequality makes sense; it’s a nod to Jefferson’s Laws of Nature.

There are pockets of institutionalized inequality, however, were none should exist; for instance, when the government gives preference to certain creeds. The unequal treatment of creeds is found in ObamaCare, which exempts adherents of recognized religious sects from the mandate to buy health insurance. And now Obama has granted waivers from the mandate to his union friends, an inequality that is totally un-American.

One could go on and on about the institutionalization of inequality, and how it’s reasonable here but not so reasonable there. But institutionalized inequality is not what concerns the Left. The Left is not fixated on “equality before the law,” the equality where everyone has the same rights and duties. The equality that obsesses the American political Left isn’t even addressed by our foundational documents.

The equality that motivates the Left is material equality; i.e., the distribution of goods and services among the citizenry, and even the entire world. The Left thinks it monstrous that there is an uneven distribution of wealth among people. The Left wants to even up things through redistribution. This is why we are subjected to a never-ending rant about the growing inequality of incomes from the likes of Al Sharpton and other lefties who use inequality to stoke resentment. Orating on “social justice,” Sharpton intones: “The dream was to make everything equal in everybody’s house.”

Never mind that the income gap is due to an unequal distribution of talent and ambition, or that the wealthy might work harder. For the Left, the salient issue is that the wealthy have more stuff, and for the Left that’s unfair, unequal, and must be rectified through “progressive” taxation. In his keynote at CPAC 2011, David Horowitz reminds us:

As the Founders warned, there is an ineluctable conflict between Liberty and equality. You cannot make men equal without taking away their Freedom. [Applause.] The Founders devised a Constitution designed to thwart what they called “wicked schemes” to take wealth from one segment of the nation and distribute it to another. [Video and transcript.]

The reason prosperity took hold in America is because of inequality. The great American businesses that have so enriched us all came about because of great concentrations of private wealth, not though government-engineered equality. All of us live richer lives precisely because of the unequal distribution of wealth.

Inequality, for lack of a better word, is good. Inequality makes the world go around. So screw equality. Equality is the hobgoblin of little minds. Equality is for wusses. What real men care about is Freedom.

(This article ran in September 2011 at the Tenth Amendment Center.)


Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City. • (1386 views)

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16 Responses to Inequality: It’s a Good Thing

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    There seems to be several levels at which to understand “equality.”

    For a conservative, “equality” is a bedrock principle; there will be equality before the law and justice shall be blind.

    For many low-information “Progressives,” there is a sentimental or romantic attachment to the idea of “equality” that belies the way they actually live their lives. “Equality” is always for someone else, but please don’t build those windmills in my backyard and spoil the view. It’s a wonderful conceit that they think costs them nothing. A boutique cultural fad.

    And then there’s the “equality” of the pessimist — those who like the idea of submerging themselves into the mass of people, perhaps in order that their faults and limitations can be erased in this way.

    Then there’s the “equality” of the “true believer” whose toes tingle at the thought of a society-wide Kumbaya, an earthly Utopia where all harm is ameliorated, where there is no need for competition, and all mankind always acts with the benefit of others in mind.

    There is also the “equality” envisioned by the moochers. They’ve made a calculation that “equality” is a net gain for them. There is no naive benevolence involved or any particular desire to live a Communist lifestyle.

    Last but not least, there is the “equality” of the Obama types who simply use it as a political tool to manipulate the masses and enrich themselves, as well as a way to play out their bottomless grudges and grievances.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      One might note here that the ERA wasn’t even necessary, since the 14th Amendment (as you point out) already guaranteed “equal protection” to “all persons” who were born or naturalized citizens — unless one assumes that women aren’t persons. The US isn’t a Muslim country, so of course they are.

      Of course, liberal equality in practice is intended to mean equality of results for everyone but the Nomenklatura. They’ve read their Orwell, and base their notions on bringing his nightmares into existence.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    What real men care about is Freedom.

    This will no doubt get me in trouble with the feminists, but it is politically useful to dumb-down and emasculate men under the guise of “equality.” And I will likely to tick off feminists because I’m going to point out a general truth: Women tend to care about security. Men tend to care about more principled issues such as freedom (at least a man brought up in Western values).

    If you wanted to build a state that was supreme, there are several things that are impediments to the power of the state to shape our lives as the Commissars (“Wizards of Smart,” as Rush calls them) see fit. Let’s list some of them:

    1) Families
    2) Religion
    3) Education
    4) Information
    And last but not least
    5) Manly men.

    I’ll leave it to Jon or whomever to state whether such things as the professed love and admiration for all things homosexual is just accidental or if it is just a natural fit with the girlification of men.

    Women (even conservative women) are in a somewhat uncomfortable place on this issue since, as they say, all politics are local. That is, the quote “women’s movement” has been a net gain in terms of affirmative action and other set-asides for women. Many women have materially gained (which is not to say that this gain was fair or anything less than mere wealth and power redistribution via government). So a conservative woman has the uneasy task of trying to parse “feminism” as that thing that was a good goal once but one that was taken to an extreme. And good luck with that.

    It can’t be a coincidence that the growth of government, the “Progressive” ascendency, and the women’s right to vote walked hand in hand. One may say that Big Government is a good thing or a bad thing. Men are not exempt from blame, for their style of power and politics led to such things as the WWI, WWII, and all the horrors of Soviet and Chinese Communism. But there is harm to the women’s way as well, and it must be acknowledged.

    I think in many ways, the evil that men do is like pulling the bandage off fast. Yes, it hurts, but it’s over quick, at least from a civilizational standpoint. But the growth of “compassionate” government — which I believe is pushed over the top to viability via the women’s vote and their general valuing of security over liberty — is a slow, long-term rot…which is exactly what we are seeing in Europe, for example. Europe shows us what happens when the manly instincts are taken out and all you have left is people reaching for security.

    Now, before anyone beats me up too badly, I don’t think women have always been as weak and girly as they are today. The women who built this country were risk-takers, the same as the men who accompanied them. They worked hard and often died young. But they were decent, God-fearing people, as is often said.

    Both sexes have been wussified by Leftist/”Progressive” politics. But there still is that central factor of women, by and large (and there are always welcome exceptions such as Margaret Thatcher and Sarah Palin), who help push us over the top to statism instead of individual liberty because of their propensity to value security more.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I’m not sure how androgynous the earlier totalitarians were. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Mussolini had no use for girly men, and I’m not sure how much use they had for overly mannish women (Hitler certainly had none). One thing to notice is that the preferred androgyny of liberalism means that their females might be capable of strong actions, but their males are very reluctant (as we see with Feckless Leader and John Fresno Kerry).

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I agree, Timothy. I don’t think the totalitarian regimes of Hilter, Stalin, Mao, etc., were particularly androgynous.

        In the case of the Nazis, Jews, in particular, still think of them as “right wing” which is perhaps one big reason most remain in the politically confused state that they are in. The Nazis were, if anything, an expression of the masculine sort of fascism, that male propensity toward regimentation and order, of hierarchies of command, etc — a trait that I think Mr. Kung would allow is especially strong amongst the Germans. There was a very masculine nature to Nazism. (Please, ladies, cut out that previous sentence and tape it to your refrigerators to remind yourselves that I’m not a misogynist when I also criticize the female propensities of female nature. But I don’t suspect that any of you will.)

        As the once-conservative Jonah Goldberg noted in his excellent book, “Liberal Fascism,” what we are experiencing with today’s statism is more of a “friendly fascism” aka “female fascism.” Rather than being lined up against the wall and being shot, we are being slowly neutered and death comes by a thousand cuts of excessive mothering.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          The Nazis were, if anything, an expression of the masculine sort of fascism, that male propensity toward regimentation and order, of hierarchies of command, etc — a trait that I think Mr. Kung would allow is especially strong amongst the Germans

          No doubt. The Germans have a genius for organization and command structures.

          Pre-WWII and even to some degree today, individuals in society had their place and were taught to accept authority with little question. And this is what I believe was dangerous. This makes for an efficient state, but is open to abuse when the wrong people get in charge as is what happened with the Nazis.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Harry Turtledove once pointed out that Jerome K. Jerome, in a trip account that was a sequel to his famous Three Men in a Boat, noted much the same thing — that the Germans were very dependent on the quality of their rulers.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            While acknowledging that they were National Socialists, and cousins, not opposites, what would you say, Mr. Kung, to the idea that the reason the Nazis could act as a sort of catalyst for immense change in Germany was that the immediate fuel for this catalyst was the agitating Communists?

            One of the reasons so many are confused about the National Socialist aspect of the Nazis was that they were rivals of the international Communists as generally derived from Russia. But what is largely unknown due to PC education is that they were first cousins, not opposites. The nature of all collectivist regimes has been about blood feuds as one political sect competes with the other, but both in the same relative boat compared to, say, free capitalist countries.

            Yes, Hitler was evil. But at the time he provided some sanity to the lawlessness of the Bolsheviks. Imagine our own time if there was another Occupy Wall Street movement, and this one became particularly widespread, violent, and ugly, with lawlessness and anarchy seeming to be their only goal. Would not you, too, long for a strong leader to smash a few heads and get rid of this nonsense? I know I would.

            And that will likely again be Europe’s future. But instead of Communists serving as the fuel to catalyze some other unforeseen (and likely authoritarian) movement, it will be the civilization threat of rampaging Muslims.

            Jews, get out of Europe while you can. You’re caught in the middle again. And for Christ’s sake, wake the hell up and understand that conservatives and conservative Christians are your friend and that “Progressives” and those on the Left are your mortal enemies.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Anti-Bolshevism was indeed a major part of Hitler’s appeal, especially to upper-class types who previously had supported the liberal parties (the Democrats and the DVP). Note that socialists in many countries (including the US) had a long history of rejecting communism because they were rivals for the same constituency.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                I think that’s a good point. Although we can be fairly certainly about his end game because of what he wrote, what he said, and who he surrounded himself with, Hitler certainly did seem to have an appeal to a number of folk, both monied interests and those common Volk who didn’t like the anarchy and disrespect for German culture as perpetrated by the Communists. I think a large part of Obama’s…sorry…Hitler’s appeal was not radicalism but the return to an authentic, wholesome, and traditional German life. It was — yes — another sort of romanticism of the Left.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              the reason the Nazis could act as a sort of catalyst for immense change in Germany was that the immediate fuel for this catalyst was the agitating Communists?

              The huge change which Germany underwent after WWI started with the collapse of the Prussian monarchy and political power which Prussia had held for a couple of generations in the German Empire. We must recall that Germany was made up of a number of different states such as the Kingdom of Bavaria.

              Into this period of uncertainty, the Communists rushed in with the hope of taking over the German State by force. This was done while the responsible people of Germany were trying to form a new government, i.e. during the Weimar National Assembly.

              The immediate reaction to the Communists came from “socialists” who used the Freikorps to crush the communists’ uprisings.

              This early attempt by the Communists (within a couple of months of the German surrender) to take over the whole of Germany set the stage for what followed.

              The story of the “November Criminals” and “stab-in-the-back” by internationalists in Germany really took hold.

              Where I think the Nazis were successful was their combining socialism with German nationalism and taking it a step further to racial socialism.

              I think it is probably safe to say, Hitler and the Nazis would have never achieved their success had there not been the violent uprisings by the internationalist Communists such as Liebknecht and Luxemburg.

              I use the term Communist loosely as there were a number of different parties involved in the uprisings and people like Liebknecht and Luxemburg had known Lenin and taken part in the Socialist International Congress, but had their problems with the Bolsheviks.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Luxemburg and Liebknecht called themselves the Spartacists. Politically, the far left in Germany (i.e., beyond the SPD) were the Independent Social Democrats, who more or less became the Communists later on.

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Inequality, for lack of a better word, is good

    Inequality is diversity. The Left is always clamoring for diversity, so the Left should be happy with inequality.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      You’d think, Mr. Kung. But as Walter E. Williams pointed out one time, diversity means everyone thinking the same but looking different.

      I really wish there was a game liberal here to explain without guile what “diversity” means to them. I realize this would be a challenge because such an explanation would simply gather ridicule and howls of laughter, so I don’t really blame a liberal for not posting here, even if they were to be sincere.

      What I think “diversity” means to them is a sort of clubby calling card that announces to each other “We are not one of them.” And from there you can’t help but get guffaws as the natural holes in their illogic manifest as these holes get stretched to absurdity and they become apologists for those who would behead homosexuals and put women inside a black tent. They will somehow though still tell you that they are for “tolerance.” And the guffaws continue toward an ideology that could only exist among a people who are sheltered from the realities of life . . . for now.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Regarding the things the lunatic belief of “equality” can cause, Mona Charen has a good article on the supposed plague of campus sexual assault. Here’s the heart of it:

    The binge-drinking culture that facilitates these rapes and assaults is tamely accepted and even encouraged at many colleges. As Pepper Schwartz writes at CNN.com, the American Sociological Association reports that men have a mean of six drinks before a hook-up and women a mean of four. Why aren’t colleges reminding young women to keep their wits about them when dealing with hormone-charged young men?

    Women who lie to other women conceal the facts. For example: The National Institute of Justice reports that among the risk factors for sexual assault on campus is “having numerous sexual partners,” getting “drunk or high” on a regular basis, and attending fraternity parties.

    Pointing out these realities is rejected as “slut shaming” or “victim blaming” by feminists.

    For all their bold talk about empowerment, feminists seem always to demand that they not be forced to deal with reality. They preach to young women that they’re just like men sexually, and when they find, to their horror, that lots of women are getting raped, they respond that women shouldn’t be cautious about who they get drunk with, men should “be taught not to rape.”

    • Timothy Lane says:

      And for all their talk of empowerment, they oppose allowing women (or men) to defend themselves effectively.

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