Thursday, March 28, 2013

What Does 'True Equality' Mean In America Today?

Is Equality Red, Blue or Purple?
The debate in the Supreme Court over marriage equality has certainly opened up the core essential debate we have had in America since the Founders founded his nation in Philadelphia, 1787, one of the epochal beginnings to any great civilization the world has ever known:

'What is equality in 21st Century America today?'

'We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.....' is the rallying cry that the Founders used from the Revolution of 1776 to underpin the US Constitution.

They said it was 'self-evident' to them based on natural law and religious faith that we were all created equal with certain unalienable rights such as life, (without life, nothing much else really matters, does it?); liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 'The pursuit of happiness' is actually a concession to the rather greedy and harsh-sounding 'pursuit of property' that John Locke talked and wrote so much about previous to Jefferson's penning of the Declaration. It just sounds better, doesn't it?

They struggled with 'equality' from the very beginning since so many of them had non-free, non-equal slaves working on their plantations. Manumission only came to their slaves upon death of the Founder and not all of them freed their slaves either.

Equality in terms of voting rights for women only came about with the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920 after close to 70 years of effort at the state and local levels. Evolution of thought and beliefs about our democratic republic system does come from these smaller incubators of democracy over time.

So, here we are 226 years later in 21st century America. What does 'equality' mean to us today?

We think 'equality' is an interesting word. It is a noble concept, a somewhat utopian goal that men and women throughout history have striven for, died for and hoped for. Thank God there exists hope, 'or what is a heaven for?' to steal a phrase from 19th century poet Robert Browning.

But what does true color-blind, gender-blind, religion-blind equality 'mean' in practical application on a daily basis nowadays anyway?

Here's some other situations to ponder today as to where 'equality' might mean some radical changes in America today:
  1. Is every single one of our votes 'equal' when we don't know for 100% sure that every single vote is cast legally in every single election?
  2. Are all of our admissions programs to our top universities 'equal' in the sense that each application has absolutely no indication of the race, color, gender or creed of the applicant?
  3. Does the tax code treat every single person 'equally' in terms of tax preferences, exemptions, deductions or burden?
  4. Are our schools 'equal' in the sense that each school has all the resources and great teachers they need to train each and every student in the same excellent manner?
We are sure you can come up with other 'injustices' which are really the 'lack of equality' when you really think about it. There is something inherently hard-wired into human DNA that everyone should be treated equally, especially here in America where we have actually had over two centuries to at least try to live in a society where everyone has an equal chance to try to make their lives as happy and as fruitful as possible.

Here's our point:  We all need to be more consistent in our political and philosophical outlooks and opinions on life here in America. We have been bequeathed a God-given gift from our parents, grandparents and ancestors one of the greatest gifts any civilization has ever known: freedom to choose how we live and really 'why' we live. We need to choose more wisely it seems going forward or else many of those freedoms will continue to diminish over time. 

One of those freedoms is the freedom to have a consistent political philosophy that actually makes sense over time. Both sides have chosen to use our freedom to not have a consistent political philosophy for the past 12 years at a minimum but really for the past 35 years or so. That is the way politics goes sometimes.

Politics isn't always a logical process, you know.

Thomas Jefferson basically believed that for a government to be small anywhere, it needed to be small everywhere. It is very difficult to hold the opinion that gay couples should be considered 'equal' when it comes to marriage rights and laws while at the same time denying the same 'equality' to every qualified student who wants to go to Harvard, UNC or Duke based on some consideration of his/her skin color, isn't it?

Martin Luther King had something profound to say about equality: 'I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.'

'Content of their character'. Maybe we need a national task force on how to develop character more than any other ill that faces us today. Because we all see a lack of character every day of our lives from broken commitments, failure to comply with contracts and a general lack of integrity when it comes to business and personal lives.

We went to a funeral in Charlotte late last year for a gentleman who was a very successful businessman. People kept saying one thing about Henry Faison: 'You didn't need a written contract with Henry Faison. His handshake was his written contract'.

Integrity is a common indicator of the presence of equality, isn't it?

We have written before about the marriage issue since it has been a bedrock of American life and success for these past two centuries and is essentially a religious issue at its core. So we won't take time to go over it again here.

But we will take this chance to suggest just a few things that might help make things seem to be more 'equal' at least when it comes to our self-governance.

  • Moving away from income-based tax laws to a one solely based on consumption and transactions would wipe out any gaming of the tax system which would make it more 'fair' for all.
  • We think some serious attention needs to be made to the current voting laws to insure that every person who votes is legally registered to vote and to confirm it either with Photo ID or some other form of official government documentation through a match with Medicare/Medicaid cards and other widely-used government services. 
  • Otherwise, we think there is a serious 'one-man/one vote' constitutional issue that needs to be brought before the Supreme Court since any illegal vote on any side of the political spectrum that cancels out yours or my vote is inherently 'unfair' and 'unequal'.
  • We think the trillions of individual purchases and decisions made every single day in America has a far higher impact on our collective prosperity and well-being than all of the legislation that has ever been passed in the US Congress. It also tends to be more 'fair' in the sense that with hundreds of choices to choose from, every person can keep looking until he/she finds what she wants and the other party is willing to make a deal with that person, either in sales or employment or friendship.
  • We think more reliance on the free markets and personal freedom side of the ledger and less on the government dictate/fiat side would yield far more opportunities for everyone, regardless of race, creed or color.
Think about how consistent your personal political philosophical structure might be today. We have 'big government' people who want 'small government' on certain matters such as abortion and gay rights. We have 'small government' people who want 'big government' on the same issues when it comes to more laws banning or restricting both and mechanisms to regulate and enforce them.

Maybe we need an 'Equality Party' in America. In everything. Who wants to join?

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1 comment:

  1. Locke didn't "write so much about" the pursuit of property. He wrote that government should protect the life, liberty, and property of citizens. Jefferson changed the wording to conform to his vision of "natural law" since the Creator did not endow property to any.


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