Wednesday, June 22, 2005

What are the Costs of Equality

I posted this comment over at mydd yesterday, got the reply that you can read below. The comment was in relation to a thread here about some of the abuses that Maryland's governor is inflicting on his population. But the poster had a good point that Maryland has been controlled by Democrats for the last 30 years, and that Democrats allowed Maryland's situation to be in a place where this governor can completely wreck people. He asks the question, how much at fault are we?

The intention of my post was to say that I think people of all stripes do a pretty poor job of building community and looking out for each other, whether we call ourselves Democrats, Greens, or something else. We often expect forces beyond our control to fix problems that we've identified. Now, I certainly blame myself for not doing enough to alieviate the problems of the world. I could be starting my training to be a teacher in DC right now, but I chose a job that would pay me a lot more, and give me a lot less stress. Who am I to talk?

But anyway, I was trying to bring up the fact that we do know how to solve many of the problems, and that fact makes it so much worse. Since we know how to fix the problems, what would it take to solve them. Certainly, I think it would take a fair amount of money, and it would take a committment to service by the society at large. We would have to say that, "Yeah, I want to make some money and be secure in this life, but what's really important in this life is making sure that everyone has the same opportunities that I do." But I don't believe that helping poor people, has anything to do with giving up my freedoms as the person who replied to my comment suggested.

"The ills of the nation cannot be fixed from the top down without limiting freedoms of the individual."

How exactly would my freedoms be limited in a nation that truly cared about the least among us? Wouldn't that be a display of freedom if we decided to 'leave no child behind'? Yeah, I might have to pay more taxes, and maybe my kid might have to learn more at school, but I don't see where the freedom loss occurs. And how exactly would there be less freedom in that set up as opposed to now? As noted in the original diary, a poor money is forced to give her child support to the state as opposed to using it for her own purposes. Poor people are not able to effectively chose to go to a good K-12 school or college because of limited means (and vouchers don't do much to help this). Predatory lending practices and red-lining limit severly where people might chose to live. For many people the application of freedom is limited to chosing to work at Walmart or living on the street.

I simply don't believe that Freedom + Equality = Constant. We're not dealing with the 1st law of thermodynamics here. These are human constructed terms that have no basis in the underlying physics of the universe. Thus it would seem that we continue to grow both of them as we see fit.

Any thoughts from the philosophy section?


At 1:16 PM, Blogger maki-girl said...

I think, unfortunately, that many people do not want to fix a lot of the problems we have. So it is not enough to know HOW to fix them, but people have to WANT to fix them.

Do you really think Bush wants all Americans to be very well educated? What would it mean if they stopped watching FOX news and reading foreign newspapers? Does he want people from all different backgrounds running for office?

I think a lot of people, organizations, corporations etc. profit from all the problems we have as a society. I wish that everyone was altruistic and could make choices that would benefit society, the Earth etc.

But think about how hard it is to convince people not to eat factory farmed animals. They don't want to give up the taste they like.

Now think about convincing people to take a smaller paycheque (pay more taxes) so that everyone can have health insurance.

At 2:22 PM, Blogger hoagieboy said...

I think you're right. My problem with my replyer is that 'he' suggests taht there is some limit to the number of problems that we can solve, or to the degree in which we can solve them and still remain freedom loving Americans. I don't agree with that. If people don't wish to solve problems, then great, let's hear about it. But I don't accept that poverty is like friction.

At 2:31 PM, Blogger maki-girl said...

I have a feeling your replyer was equating "freedom" with not having to pay taxes. I also have the feeling that he or she thinks that people are poor through some fault of their own. We have a long way to go.


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