A Post from ThinkMarkets which does an excellent job of contrasting two types of equality. It is important to recognize these two different definitions because everyone is for equality yet people argue over it all the time. These two definitions capture the conflict between so-called conservatives and liberals.
One version leads to government-imposed inequalities and ultimately a totalitarian state in order to fully achieve its goal.
by Chidem Kurdas
Law and government should treat people equally. This old principle may seem obvious and firmly in place, but in fact it’s much violated. Instead, the focus is on income distribution. Thus Robert H Frank in the NYT points to the bad effects of income inequality – like people spending too much money to emulate the rich – and suggests we “try to do something about it.”
His column about the costs of income differences shows no awareness of the costs of equity-promoting policies.
Attempts to create income equality erode equality before the law, as F. A. Hayek made clear. The Road to Serfdom – the historic experience as well as the title of Hayek’s book – is paved with egalitarian good intentions. If you feel “serfdom” is too extreme a word, the operative term here is “the road”.
Given that individuals are not the same to begin with, “To produce the same result for different people, it is necessary to treat them differently,” Hayek pointed out. Once a legislature gets into the business of redressing particular wrongs or helping specified groups, people are no longer treated equally by law. They’re treated unequally with the purpose of bringing them closer together economically and possibly socially.
To that end, certain groups –whether defined by income, occupation, business, geography, gender, ethnicity or some other criterion – have to be favored at the expense of others. However well intended – Hayek took that as a given – such policies corrode both freedom and overall economic well-being.
A government that takes on the responsibility of addressing the inequities suffered by one set of individuals can’t refuse the responsibility of addressing inequities suffered by other groups. Therefore people concentrate on getting access to and influencing political authority in their favor. The impartial rule of law is cumulatively destroyed as differential treatment – whether it takes the form of programs, tax rules, regulations or other policies – becomes increasingly common.
As it reaches into all nooks and crannies of society to remedy grievances and in doing so creates new grievances that cry for remedy, the government grows at the expense of civil society. People who
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