Premium

Sacrificing Opportunity for Outcome

(AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

America:  The land of opportunity!  But is it really?

We’ve all heard the stories of success, where someone, who grows up in extreme poverty or danger, makes it to become wealthy or a leader in our country.  Those stories are always heartwarming, telling the rest of us that if we apply ourselves, we can do and be anything.  In my own life, my parents taught me from a young age that “luck is the dividends of sweat.”  Hard work means we can all succeed and that “a rising tide raises all boats.”

Voters often turn to government to “fix” things or “create jobs,” while that is hardly the role that government should play. Government should not be concerned with whether or not jobs are created.  That’s the role of private industry.  What government should do is get out of the way of that industry so that those individuals and companies can create jobs.  Government’s role in this should always be securing equality of opportunity.  The modern left, however, disagrees.  They believe it doesn’t matter that we strive to have everyone start at the same starting line.  Rather, they would like everyone to cross the finish line at the same time.  This is referred to as equality of outcome.

The government, however, cannot guarantee both.  It can either create the conditions under which we all start on a level playing field, at the same time, with the same level track before us or, it can create the conditions in which we all end at the same time and place.  It cannot do both.  Our own Declaration of Independence speaks of this rugged individuality in saying that, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Equality of opportunity begins at birth, as we are created equal and we are all endowed by our creator with the same set of rights. We all should get the same starting point for the race of life.  In order to reach an equality of outcome, the government, by the only means it knows (force), would have to (forcibly) take from someone to give to another.  This is hardly equitable, as the demands placed on the recipient are much lower than those placed on the unwilling donor. The most preferable system is the one where we work towards guaranteeing an equal starting point and allow people to pursue their own happiness.

To the modern left, this isn’t enough.  Merely starting at the same point doesn’t do enough for equality.  To them, no one should succeed more than another.  It is why they are always claiming victimhood because if the system is inherently flawed, there’s no way to legitimately succeed and there is always something on which they can blame their failure.  In California, instead of making strides to increase the quality of high school education, they instead lowered the bar for high school graduation.  While an A-student and a D- student presumably started in the same place in public school, they both will escape K-12 with the same high school diploma, though one was considered “smarter” and more accomplished than the other.  The left has even gone as far as to demand that testing be removed as a consideration for college admissions and that quotas for student acceptance (based upon non-educational statistics) be instituted.  To the left, a white student with good grades and behavior should be denied their opportunity at a school in favor of a minority student who did not perform as well in school.  This is the practice of equality of outcome.  It is unconstitutional, unAmerican, and unfair.

I am sure there are some who are nodding their heads in agreement, thinking that the above is true, but at the same time, want to ignore the fact that although our country remains one of the “most fair” countries in the world, it certainly isn’t an absolute.  Our current system is still unfair, largely because government chooses to ignore its own incompetence and instead looks to blame its failure on external inputs.  Remember, when high school graduation rates began to fall, government didn’t up its game to provide better education.  Instead, it simply just lowered the bar for success.  Instead of working to ensure more kids succeeded, it simply changed the definition of success.  Ensuring equality of outcome must inherently either slow or impede those that may excel in that system.  Some people in the race might be faster or stronger than others in that same race.  Those people must be inhibited or else those who do not share those same gifts will lose (and therefore will be victimized)

We on the right cannot, however, ignore the facts behind the blatant failures of our equality of opportunity system.  Do you think that the quality of education you will receive in an inner-city school would be the same as the quality of education you receive from a suburban school?  We know that isn’t the case.  My family literally moved in order to put my kids into better schools.  Many do not have the same ability or opportunity before them.  We should be examining the current system for flaws.  Any system that inherently punishes children for reasons of poverty or ethnicity is a flawed system.  That knife cuts both ways, though.  States and districts that prevent students from enrolling in and transferring to better quality schools because of geographic (see income and ethnicity) reasons are not looking to create the conditions for an equal start. Meanwhile, schools that focus on meeting racial or ethnic benchmarks also ignore the basis for equality of opportunity.

Again, that isn’t to say that we are not the fairest when it comes to equality of opportunity.  We are, but it also must be said that we can do better.  Whether or not a system of equality of opportunity is preferred, is no question. It absolutely is and it is the intended system under which our country was founded.  The pursuit of happiness does not mean the guarantee of such.  Meanwhile, as it ignores the flaws of the system, it does no one any favors and in fact, lends to the argument against that preferable system.  I mean, how often are we lectured on the failures of capitalism or our education system?  The difference is in the solution.  With the approach from the right, the answer is almost always less government.  With the left, it is almost always more government, despite the fact that the majority of the problems with which the left takes umbrage are created by government.

We must do more to ensure more equality of opportunity.  We must fix the education system and our broken criminal justice system.  We must demand fair but equal standards.  We must make sure that the starting line is as straight and level for all participating in the race that there can’t be any half-assed excuse from the left with which they can make an argument to replace that system.  Otherwise, we will continue on this march towards an outcome that will be anything but equal.