A few years back, Valerie Jarrett, the real 44th President, suggested a need for the Equal Pay Act based on the erroneous assumption taken as fact by the Left that “working women are still only paid 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man.” Lost in the nonsense is the reason that, overall, women are “paid less” is because they gravitate towards lower paying jobs, or they leave the workforce to raise families. Of course, saying this will get you branded a sexist and/or dismissed from a nice job at Harvard.
Regardless and even giving Ms. Jarrett and her ilk the benefit of the doubt (a huge benefit), why is that the concern of the federal government? If there is this pay discrepancy, is it due to sexist hostility towards women? One can see where this leads. Asians earn more than Hispanics while whites earn more than blacks. Jews tend to earn more than a Jehovah Witness. And guess what? Polish and Irish Americans tend to earn more than Hispanics. Taken the other way, over 95% of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan were men while men outnumber women in prison 10:1. This hardly seems “fair” or “equal,” but is it sexism?
It is hard to tell where this Leftist egalitarianism comes from. It certainly does not come from our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, or even the Federalist Papers. Was the American Revolution about equality, or was it about liberty and freedom? Even the “equal protection” clause of any amendment did not make an appearance until after the Civil War and even then it applied to equality under the law, not socioeconomic equality. Instead, this notion of equality has its roots in the French Revolution- not the American story- where the royal and aristocratic went to their death. And we all know how well the French Revolution turned out as concerns freedom and liberty.
The greatest antagonist towards liberty/freedom is the insatiable quest for equality. Only in the case of God-given rights and those enshrined in the Constitution are we “equal.” Otherwise, we are unequal and any deviation from that understanding is Leftist Utopian thought.
Today, to equalize incomes, the federal government confiscates 40% of the earnings of the most successful Americans and uses it to subsidize health care, housing and food for the other percentage of Americans who pay no taxes. To ensure racial, ethnic and gender equality, the government employs thousands of bureaucrats to police business hiring, promotion and termination practices. To ensure the same equality in higher education, governments now impose affirmative action on universities and have abandoned free and fair competition among college applicants. Freedom of assembly, which at one time produced women’s and men’s clubs and organizations, is a thing of the past. To ensure “equality” in education for minorities, enormous sums of money have been attained and spent on public education with a nary a positive result.
The Left constantly bombards us with an unending list of inequalities which boil down to unequal wealth distributed among 300+ million people. Government has two options: (1) it can force people to be equal, or (2) it can allow people to be free. Our Founders understood this dilemma and it is clear that they opted for freedom. Today, we seem to have forgotten this fact. We are equal under the law, but certainly unequal when it comes to life’s experiences and accomplishments.
Unfortunately, there are some conservatives who have lost their way among the constant bombardment by the Left. By slowly and incrementally caving and sacrificing freedom in search of equality, the Right does this country a great disservice. This “forward progress” is a lurch towards collectivism, socialism and what lies beyond. If we allow the Left to dominate the conversation about the direction of the country by trotting out the worst case scenario and depicting it as the norm, we slowly drift into socialism. We, as conservatives, must counter the calls for “equality” with a clear commitment to freedom rather than equality, except under the law.
The history of America has proven, despite the revisionist antics of the Left, that freedom- not forced equality- is the best friend of minorities and the poor. We have been a magnet for people living under despotic governments. Government redistribution programs did not lure them to our shores; freedom did. Freedom, not government-imposed equality, allows entrepreneurs to form businesses, hire people and produce products that benefit society. Government equality programs stand in the way of businesses and actually hurt those they strive to help.
But what has been the response of so-called conservatives? Our conservative or Republican “leaders” slap themselves on the back and declare victory when they moderate government transfer programs. They are afraid of being branded an “inequalitist.” Instead, they should be judging each and every action they take and each and every policy they propose with one goal in mind: does it enhance freedom? Leave equality out of the equation.
From our Founders and the great thinkers of the Age of Enlightenment, we learned this lesson, but some conservatives have forgotten it today. Freedom- NOT equality- is the defining element of American society. We as conservatives must commit to an underlying philosophy of a “freedom to” rather than the Leftist version of a “freedom from.” That means a freedom to build and run our businesses free of worry, burdens or the heavy hand of government. It means the freedom to live our lives as we choose and the freedom to send our children to the school of their choice. It is the freedom to pursue the American dream with reckless abandon. And a freedom to be left the hell alone.
Barack Obama erroneously stated that our Nation “was founded on the principles of freedom and equality.” Yet, the word “equality” is not to be found in any of our Founding documents. Will and Ariel Durant wrote, more accurately:
Leave men free and their natural inequalities will multiply almost geometrically, as in England and America in the nineteenth century under laissez-faire. To check the growth of inequality, liberty must be sacrificed, as in Russia after 1917. Freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails the other dies.
Conservatism has to ask itself a fundamental question. Are we a movement for freedom? Or are we a movement that slowly chips away at fundamental notions of freedom in the insatiable thirst for equality? If the latter, then anyone who gives a quarter is no conservative. The question in response to any bill, law, policy or proposal must be, “Does it advance freedom?” If there is any hesitation or confusion, then there is no need to go any further.