Equality: Myths and mirages

I got into a discussion/argument a few days ago about how the health services available were dependent upon wealth and about the need for “equality”. The motion was that “everybody should be equally entitled to the best care available”. But I couldn’t quite get my point across that the search for “equality of treatment” was itself based on a fundamental inequality. The fact that some people were sick and some were not, irrespective of wealth, was the underlying inequality. Provision of health services was, inherently, the unequal provision of resources to some (the sick) and therefore, the denial of those resources to others (the healthy). An unequal allocation of resources (more to the sick, less to the healthy) was being used to correct for the underlying inequality. It was “affirmative action” to help the sick. Admirable no doubt, but not an exercise of “equality”. In fact it was a manifestation of “unequal treatment” in the name of correcting a perceived “inequality”. All forms of “reservations” and “affirmative action” use discrimination against some to try and correct for some other perceived disadvantage of others. Campaigns for “equality” are nearly always about meting out unequal treatment to some to compensate for a perceived disadvantage in others.

They are all exercises in inequality rather than a pursuit of equality.

Concepts of equality are not real. They are merely “feel-good” excuses, a panacea for perceived injustices and a stick to beat political opponents with. All the various “forms” of equality are mirages. Absolute equality – of any kind – is a convenient myth. You cannot have both diversity and equality. “Different but equal” is a fine catch phrase but is a contradiction in terms. Difference IS unequal.

Justice and equality are quite different things. Justice demands inequality.

(I note in passing that “freedoms”, like equalities, are also convenient myths. The so called four fundamental freedoms (of speech, of worship, from want and from fear) are political nonsense. In virtually every human society “freedom of speech” is actually nothing more than “freedom of allowed speech”.  “Freedom of my worship” has become the “freedom to impose my worship” and is the cause of more atrocities and barbarism than any other. Freedom from want denies the fundamental driver of human development – to want. Freedom from fear is an empty platitude. Humans are capable of feeling fear because it, like pain, is a necessary requirement for survival. Elimination of fear or pain would require genetic manipulation and that would also eliminate happiness and pleasure.)

  1. “We are all born equal” – No we are not (and thank goodness for that). We each have our unique genetic make-ups (our natures). That, in turn constrains what any one of us is capable of physically or cognitively. Our environment (nurture) then determines how we behave. The very concept of being unique individuals precludes equality.
  2. “Equality of Opportunity” – This makes for fine political theatre but is meaningless. “Opportunity” is not a scalar quantity. It is vector which needs direction. Opportunity,  for what? I would have liked to run faster than Usain Bolt but I just wasn’t given the “equal opportunity”! Of course for the purposes of “equality” I would be entitled to an 85 m head-start (90 m might be better). Watching the Olympics it occurs to me that for true equality a handicap system is needed to ensure that everybody wins. It would be totally unjust, but it would be equal.
  3. “Gender equality” – This is politically very correct but has two parts. There are those fighting to ensure just treatment for women and that is wholly admirable. But there are also other idiots who believe the realities of gender difference can be denied. Femininity is denied in the name of feminism.
  4. “Equality before the law” is another nonsense phrase. The point of law and courts is to make a judgement based on actual behaviour against some “standard” (the law). What is meant, of course, is that different people not be treated differently for the same behaviour. That the rich man with a good lawyer not be treated preferentially. Yet, we also ask our judges to do exactly that. Juveniles or the mentally ill are treated differently. Past behaviour influences the penalty (or reward) for present behaviour.
  5. “Racial equality” – This phrase is also fatally tainted by the politically correct view that “races” don’t exit. Racial difference exists and is real. The “long distance running gene” is real and is more prevalent among East Africans. The “high altitude gene” is real and and is more prevalent among Tibetans. Skin colour genes are real, as are those for the shape of our eyes. Again, “just treatment” is wrongly presented as “equal treatment”.

Yesterday the women’s 10,000 m world record was broken by Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia (a fantastic run). The runners all started at the same time (equality). The finish was completely unequal with almost two laps between the winner and the last to finish. Ayana’s unequal advantages (nature and nurture) took her to the finish almost half a lap ahead of her nearest rival. For true “equality”, she should have had a handicap. With proper “affirmative action” maybe all the runners could have finished at the same time. But that would have been unjust. (Why is there no campaign for “gender equality” in the Olympics 10,000 m? I suppose for the same reason that flyweight boxers are not required to fight against the heavyweights.) The Olympics is a celebration of inequality.

The fundamental truth is that what is just is all about being unequal. Justness consists of “getting what is deserved”. The loose use of “equality” actually moves us away from what is just. We need to dump the deification of equality and focus on what is just.

Justice equality


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