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Is increase in government power necessary to achieve “equality”?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 7:18 pm - October 31, 2011.
Filed under: Equality (Real or Faux?),Freedom

Welcome Instapundit Readers!!

Today, I inaugurate a new category, “Equality,” deliberately putting the word defining said category in quotation marks.  Not only do we have a gay movement focused on attaining this elusive and ambiguous abstaction, but with the rise of the #Occupy Wall Street movement, “income inequality” has also come to the fore, as Jazz Shaw reports, one “of the hot terms occupying the center ring of the political circus these days“.

It seems that in both cases, the various political movements are demanding increased government regulation of and control over private enterprise in order to achieve their desired equal result.

Recently, I listened to a representative of “Equality California” detailing all the legislation his outfit advocated, asking his interlocutor to eheck the web-site to see the full list of laws they wanted to see enacted.  Driving away, I recalled the first five words of the Bill of Rights, “Congress shall make no law . . .”  (Emphasis added.)

This important addition to our nation’s charter reinforced its initial provisions limiting the things the federal government can do.*  Later, the Fourteenth Amendment applied these limitations to the states.

The Founder and the Framers wanted to limit government’s power in order to protect individual freedom.  And now, equality activists want to expand federal — and state — power to achieve “equality.”  This should help elucidate why conservatives should not rush to embrace this ambiguous abstraction.  And should call into question the motives of those who bury their commitment to an ever larger state under a noble-sounding ideal.

RELATED:  Over at Powerline quoting Steven den Beste, Scott Johnson offers a unified theory of left-wing causes:

Isn’t it interesting that no matter what the current global crisis is, according to leftists, the solution is always the same: a benevolent world dictatorship of the enlightened elite, and mass transfer of wealth from rich nations to poor nations.

*ADDENDUM: Nine of the ten amendments which constitute the Bill of Rights use the words “no”, “nor”, and/or “not”, all preventing the government from depriving individuals of their life, liberty and property.

FROM THE COMMENTS:  Lori Heine nails it:

There is only one way that a powerful, external force can make everybody equal — and that is by making them slaves.

In slavery, everyone is equal to everyone else. That’s because they are given no choice. As soon as freedom and free choice become involved, some people will “rise above” others — at least in the material sense. And often, this has to be with their ability to better serve their fellow human beings in non-coerced ways.

In fostering equality, government has the ability to do only one thing. It can treat all people equally under the law. In any other sense, equality is an existential term. Or perhaps a theological one. Government can do nothing in either case.

Well said, very well said.  Equality is just an existential term.

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18 Comments

  1. All these “cool kids” have been sold a lie by the elected people in government that have told them they can provide them “equality”.

    Comment by Richard Bell — October 31, 2011 @ 7:25 pm - October 31, 2011

  2. BDB, title? Is or In

    Comment by rusty — October 31, 2011 @ 8:11 pm - October 31, 2011

  3. Rusty, thanks for catching that. Since fixed.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — October 31, 2011 @ 9:28 pm - October 31, 2011

  4. Isn’t it interesting that no matter what the current global crisis is, according to leftists, the solution is always the same: a benevolent world dictatorship of the enlightened elite, and mass transfer of wealth from rich nations to poor nations.

    Or in other words to impose inequality with liberals as the beneficiaries.

    It is beyond telling that the only emotion liberals consider virtuous is jealousy of what other people have.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — October 31, 2011 @ 10:39 pm - October 31, 2011

  5. There is only one way that a powerful, external force can make everybody equal — and that is by making them slaves.

    In slavery, everyone is equal to everyone else. That’s because they are given no choice. As soon as freedom and free choice become involved, some people will “rise above” others — at least in the material sense. And often, this has to be with their ability to better serve their fellow human beings in non-coerced ways.

    In fostering equality, government has the ability to do only one thing. It can treat all people equally under the law. In any other sense, equality is an existential term. Or perhaps a theological one. Government can do nothing in either case.

    Comment by Lori Heine — November 1, 2011 @ 1:04 am - November 1, 2011

  6. Isn’t it interesting that no matter what the current global crisis is, according to leftists, the solution is always the same: a benevolent world dictatorship of the enlightened elite..

    Isn’t it interesting that the self-anointed “enlightened elite” are constantly promulgating crises that require more power accrue to their class?

    Comment by V the K — November 1, 2011 @ 6:07 am - November 1, 2011

  7. I’m a social conservative and my attitudes about gay people were most changed for the better by a coworker who did his job better than else and never said a thing about being gay. One day I looked at my coworker and a guy who worked in another department who was frequently at his desk. I thought to myself, that other guy is over here a lot, are the two of them a couple or something? I realized then that they were.

    If you want people to like you, be likable. If you want people to respect you, be respectable. If you don’t want people to treat you like you’re different, don’t exaggerate the differences.

    In short be yourself.

    My coworker Jay changed my attitudes in a way that no government program ever could.

    Comment by Dave — November 1, 2011 @ 8:07 am - November 1, 2011

  8. [...] BLATT: Is increase in government power necessary to achieve “equality”? [...]

    Pingback by Instapundit » Blog Archive » DANIEL BLATT: Is increase in government power necessary to achieve “equality”? No…. — November 1, 2011 @ 8:29 am - November 1, 2011

  9. The key thing as an individual, and hopefully in the future, to avoid what I refer to as the religious impulse, that is the desire to have laws that coerce society to conform to a preconceived notion of what society should look like. To take homosexual marriage, for instance, Having special privileges available for heterosexual couples who may, or may not be contributing to the future welfare of the state while others who see themselves denied such privileges as being wronged. Forcing the society to equalize this with further regulation is, in my opinion, an instance of applying the religious impulse. A solution that would not do so and equalize the situation would be for government to cease to license marriages. This, by the way, is the position of Ron Paul.

    Comment by teapartydoc — November 1, 2011 @ 8:32 am - November 1, 2011

  10. Lori, that is precisely why I refer to Democrats as Copperheads. They were the slavery party, they are the slavery party, and replacing plantation with collective doesn’t change that.

    Comment by SDN — November 1, 2011 @ 8:33 am - November 1, 2011

  11. Interesting how “social justice” tends to destroy “equality before the law”.

    As Dennis Prager points out, a government can only be compassionate to one group of people by hurting another group of people. But individual, personal compassion is harder than a desire for “fairness”, which is why many people would rather turn the administration of compassion over to government bureaucrats who can do it “fairly”.

    I like Lori’s slavery comment above. Reminds me of something Andrew Klavan said: “Free people can treat each other justly, but they can’t make life fair. To get rid of the unfairness among individuals, you have to exercise power over them. The more fairness you want, the more power you need. Thus, all dreams of fairness become dreams of tyranny in the end.”

    Comment by KT — November 1, 2011 @ 12:09 pm - November 1, 2011

  12. No matter how hard they try the left can’t do better than our bill of rights, declaration of independance and the constitution that make America what it is.

    Comment by Richard Bell — November 1, 2011 @ 12:26 pm - November 1, 2011

  13. > It is beyond telling that the only emotion liberals consider virtuous is jealousy of what other people have.

    It’s also interesting that envy is the only one of the seven sins that has no benefit to the sinner.

    All of the others are good in moderation – the sin is in the excess. Envy is different.

    Comment by Andy Freeman — November 1, 2011 @ 1:20 pm - November 1, 2011

  14. I suppose even envy would have some potential for good if it motivated people to try harder and achieve more — thus gaining, the honest way, some of the things others have. It’s the way the Left uses envy — to turn people into marauding thieves — that makes it such an irredeemable evil.

    Comment by Lori Heine — November 1, 2011 @ 4:02 pm - November 1, 2011

  15. Once equality becomes the dominant goal, the eventual outcome has to be a police state. In no other way than thru state force can humans be bent into such a completely unnatural state of affairs. And of course, in a police state…or one on the way to it…some pigs are always more equal than others.

    Comment by EssEm — November 1, 2011 @ 6:38 pm - November 1, 2011

  16. I recommend John Keke’s “Dangerous Egalitarian Dreams.” He has taken on the equality fetish at the heart of contemporary liberalism’s ideology. http://www.city-journal.org/html/11_4_urbanities-dangerous.html

    Comment by EssEm — November 1, 2011 @ 6:40 pm - November 1, 2011

  17. Dan, your critique of “equality” is spot on but I’m a little confused by it. For while you and others here seem to have a problem with “equality” and the gay Left’s pursuit of it, you nevertheless are committed to (mostly) the same goals as the gay equality police, especially when it comes to “relationship recognition”, as you like to call it, Dan. So, my question is, if you’re against “equality” why do you pursue the same goals as the equality-minded gay Left?

    I guess my biggest problem is with the way issues relating to gays are framed, especially the marriage issue. Proponents of gay marriage, or marriage “equality”, frame the issue as if the concept of “marriage” was once applied equally to all human couplings until a cabal of evil social conservatives restricted it to heterosexual couples just to inflict diabolical oppression on gays. That’s not the way it was, of course, but that’s SSM supporters’ narrative. When you promote “relationship recognition”, Dan, you’re promoting that narrative as true, whether you can admit it or not. You’re showing that you adhere to the social Left’s social construct even as you call yourself a conservative.

    Dan, your and other gay conservatives’ critique of “equality” would have more credibility if you were actively opposing the agenda of the gay Left. Instead, you and other gay conservatives are working hard to make conservatism a conduit for that agenda. Yes, the solutions you propose for gay issues may be different from the ones proposed by the gay Left, but you want the same social outcome. So, in the end, gay conservatives and the gay Left really aren’t that different after all, just as American Elephant said so many months ago.

    Comment by Seane-Anna — November 2, 2011 @ 10:18 am - November 2, 2011

  18. The crypo-socialist creep is back, making more stunningly off-base accusations about every Right-of-Center gay in America. That anyone could ever buy into the farce that she is a conservative is laughable.

    Like her Emperor, she sees people only as members of this, that or the other group. Ripe for the plunder. If they like us, the statists will buy us off. If they don’t like us, they’ll simply lie about us and try their damnedest to screw us in to the ground.

    The fact that different people on this blog have expressed very different opinions on same-sex marriage is too much for her to comprehend.

    Either that, or she’s just plain dishonest.

    Comment by Lori Heine — November 3, 2011 @ 2:56 pm - November 3, 2011

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