Thursday, March 31, 2011

Equal Opportunity Gives Way to Equal Outcomes

In the 234 year history of the United States of America there has been a major transition in what people expect from government.  At the conclusion of the Revolutionary War the 13 colonies had won their independence but now what to do with it?  They formed a Constitutional Convention to write a plan for governing this new nation.  They debated the best ways to form a limited government that allowed maximum freedom to the citizens.  They believed that the legitimate purpose of government was to protect the rights of the individual and they worked to establish a system of government that would serve that end.  They succeeded in creating something that the world had never seen before.

For the next 100 years immigrants flocked to this country because of the opportunity that it offered.  They understood that there were no guarantees and they didn't ask for any.  All they wanted was a chance.  They desired the freedom to dream, to attempt, to fail and try again.  Competition created winners and losers but everybody had the opportunity to try and live their dreams.  Some succeeded and some failed but all were free.  Our form of government guaranteed each man equal opportunity.

Then dawned the era of the Progressive movement.  A societal shift begin to transform the face of America.  The rugged individualism and sense of strict personal responsibility that defined the first century of life in the United States gave way to a dependence on government provision and an expectation of government intervention to protect us from the common pitfalls of life.  We gradually traded our freedom for a sense of security delivered by a government big enough and powerful enough to protect us from any catastrophe.

Now we have reached a point where we commonly accept the idea that it is a proper role of government to guarantee equal outcomes.  We blindly ignore that fact that in order to provide equal outcomes for all groups of people it is inherently necessary to deprive some groups the product of their industrious labors so that we can provide an equal benefit to groups who are less skilled, less motivated and subsequently less productive.

The end result of this transformation will be economic collapse and poverty for all.  It's happened before.

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