Posts Tagged ‘equality’

Humans are not equal

April 25, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic brings the delusion of human equality into stark relief.

There is a myth that institutions, from the UN to countries and NGO’s, like to propagate. This is the fantasy that humans are born equal and that their lives are of equal value. All across the world we now see that the infection carriers are mainly younger and asymptomatic. The dead are mainly among the old and the weak. Everyone is now seeking “herd immunity”, but a herd is always on the move. Its security lies in leaving behind and sacrificing the old and the infirm to satisfy the predators. The coronavirus is predatory. It is the younger and stronger who can get the economies to start up again. And the old and the infirm are being left behind.

It has happened in Spain and Italy and the UK as well but I take Sweden as an example where the myth that human lives have equal value is particularly strong. It has become exceedingly clear that the lives of those who may place a greater burden on the nationalised health services are worth less than of those who won’t. Almost 90% of all deaths attributed to the coronavirus in Sweden, (actually 87% currently), are of those over 70 years of age. Many of these were because the infection entered the care homes where the elderly were trapped, mainly through asymptomatic care workers. Unions have then blocked care workers from providing care in some infected care homes. Government institutions have even formally promoted the downgrading of the value of the lives of the elderly. The Swedish Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) has explicitly lowered the priority to be given to those with a lower “expected remaining life”. It is not just coincidence that some Stockholm hospitals have rejected some of the elderly from available intensive care places, in case younger patients with a greater chance of survival might have need of them. (Expressen 23rd April)

There is nothing right or wrong with the reality that humans are not equal. Far better to openly accept the reality than hide behind a delusion.


Humans are not born equal, nor do they live equally and they do not die equal.

Humans are born genetically unique. In one estimate by the FBI for identifications in court, the chance of a DNA profile being matched by another person is much less than 1 in 260 billion. All the humans who have ever lived over 200,000 years as “anatomically modern humans” number about 110 billion. No two have ever been genetically alike or have had identical DNA profiles.

Humans are not born “equal” in their genes. The capability envelope – physical, mental and behavioural – for any individual is already set at birth (actually soon after conception). Nurture then determines what an individual can actually achieve within the capability envelope. But, no amount of nurture (nourishment, upbringing, training, learning or experience) can enable an individual to break out of the predetermined envelope of capability. Nurture may have enabled me to run faster than I can, but no amount of nurture would have made it possible for me to run as fast as Usain Bolt.

Humans are not equal either in the nurture they receive. The reality is that all humans are born naked, with no resources, no debts, no liabilities and with only those privileges as may be granted, or liabilities that may be imposed, by the surrounding human society. They are born utterly dependent upon surrounding humans for their survival. Nourishment and upbringing are determined by the far from equal capabilities of parents. Education and learning and experience vary according to the means of the parents and the surrounding society. The vastly varying levels of support they receive from others, at birth and through their upbringing, further emphasizes that they are not equal. They differ in nourishment, upbringing, training, learning and experience. They differ in what they contribute to, or receive from, their surroundings.

Humans do not behave equally. From birth and through their lifetimes, they differ in their actions and behaviour and interactions with others. They differ in the people they interact with. They behave differently from each other, to each other and differently through their lives.

Human lives are not lived equally. The value any creature places on its own life is entirely subjective and not something that can be estimated by others. Presumably this value is at the maximum possible for the individual concerned. The value of any human life within its own society varies with manifested behaviour and over time. The value to its own surrounding society is also a subjective judgement. However, it varies across societies, from one human to the next and over the life of that human. It is neither static nor a constant. The value of an undistinguished human life may be priceless to friends and relatives, but quite low in its immediate society and may approach zero to a distant society. The value of a distinguished life may extend far beyond the boundaries of the local society and long after that life is over. 

And when a human, no matter how distinguished or productive earlier, is committed for life to a care home or a hospice, the reality is that the current value of that human life, to that society, has dwindled to not very much.

Humans are not born equal, nor do they live equally and they do not die equal. 

There is nothing right or wrong with that. It just is. Far better to openly accept the reality than hide behind a delusion.


 

Equality: Myths and mirages

August 13, 2016

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


 

The injustices of equality

August 3, 2014

We cannot both have individuality and equality.

And it would be a sorry day if humankind consisted just of clones and we had no differences. Without difference, equality is undefined and quality is meaningless and judgement is unnecessary. Discernment would not exist, there would be no “good” and no “bad”, and discrimination would cease to be.  Merely denying difference leads to injustice. Much of the legislation about “Rights” focuses on denying difference – as if that would make difference go away. Our very concepts of what is good or what is just depend upon being able to distinguish differences – in all the various differences that go to making individuals unique. Differences of capability, in behaviour, in performance, of competence, in appearance and – not least – in intelligence.

But it should not be beyond the wit of man to strive for justice – rather than a meaningless equality. Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité  is inherently unjust and should instead have been Liberté, Justice, Fraternité. 

We applaud discernment and judgement but condemn discrimination. We use reverse discrimination to try and correct discrimination. We use “affirmative action” and quotas of various kinds to favour some groups – defined by their difference – to right their “wrongs” by wronging still others. Some gender equality legislation tries to deny that gender difference exists. The Swedish government has just proposed that the term “race” should be removed from all legislation. As if that would make differences disappear.

Given individuality, equality is often incompatible with justice. They are not synonyms and one does not imply the other. It is not for nothing that the phrase “just and equitable” uses both words and having both together assumes that a compromise will be necessary to get a measure of both.

It is a “classic” issue that every society has to take a call on and related to the conflict interface between “what is desired” and “what is deserved”. Should the individuals in a society be granted (as “rights”) what they desire/need or should they only be rewarded for what they deserve/earn? (Desire in this context must be equated  with “need” and anything “deserved” then must have been “earned”.) What an individual “desires” he terms as “needs”, and what he believes that he “deserves” is what he thinks he has “earned”. The surrounding society he operates in may have quite a different view of what he should desire (his needs) or what he has earned (deserves).

Simplistically this is socialism versus capitalism. “Socialism” can be described simply as being the wealth of a society being appropriated and accumulated into a common pool and then distributed “according to the individual’s needs/desires”.  “Capitalism” can be described as a system where each individual generates wealth or is remunerated according to what he has earned/deserved and individuals – rather than their appropriated wealth – are accumulated to make up that society. In these terms, a socialist society assumes ownership of all wealth and then takes a call on how much individualism it will suppress or permit, whereas a capitalist society assumes that ownership of wealth lies with the creators of the wealth who must then determine how much individualism they are prepared to give up for the “common good”.

In practice every society or organisation has a mix – often illogical and irrational – of the balance between “the needs of society” and the “rights of the individual”. Every society or organisation exhibits a mix of rewards for performance (earned) and allowances for needs (desires). This is a classic ideological problem that all trade unions face today. Once upon a time they advocated – for example – that a father of six should be paid more than a father of two because his needs/desires were greater. To even accept payment for “piecework” or any remuneration for “performance” was once seen as being heresy. Most large corporations today are essentially capitalist but generally implement remuneration on a mix of need and performance factors. Housing allowances, child allowances, education allowances are all examples of payments for perceived needs. Performance bonuses or allowances for extra qualifications or “danger money” have to be earned.

Inevitably socialistic societies tend towards an oppression of minorities by the “majority of wealth consumers” while capitalistic societies lean towards an oppression of the majority by the “minority of wealth creators”. This is the fundamental divide between the Right and the Left; to what extent should individuals and societies be subservient to or dominate the other? It is also the fundamental reason why there must usually be a conflict between “equality” and “justice”.

In this context, socialism maps to equality while capitalism maps to justice.

The desired versus deserved schism cannot be separated from how “equality” is viewed and consequently on defining what discrimination consists of. There is no equality of humans at birth. To be all born equal we would have to be clones and genetically identical which we are not. We are born to parents not of our choice, to our random positions on the predominantly bi-nodal gender scale. Our genetic traits (nature) and our subsequent experiences (nurture) determine our different capabilities and our different behaviours. Since it is these differences in our capabilities, our behaviour and our performance which make us individuals, what, then, should be “equalised” by subsequent unequal treatment?

In the name of “Equal Rights” we try to correct existing injustices. We use “Equal Opportunites” to mean removing the handicaps of unequal nurture for some individuals but in so doing we add handicaps for others. We don’t handicap athletes at the start of an Olympic 100 m race to ensure that all participants finish equal. For “gender equality” two women are paid the same amount at Wimbledon for 3 sets of tennis as two men for five but we accept that it would be an unequal match for the men to play against the women. Striving for equality, Wimbledon has achieved equality of pay for unequal performance. All societies tax their members unequally (and what does equal taxation mean anyway?) Creating or having wealth is taxed more heavily – perhaps justly – than wealth consumption. We punish (hopefully) justly – but unequally – for the same bad behaviour by different individuals.  We reserve places in educational institutions for those considered disadvantaged and thereby deny those same places for the deserving. A just health care system must provide unequal care with more care for those less healthy.

Given individuality, equality and justice will often be in conflict. To be just requires a recognition of differences and to then treat unequally to make suitable compensation for the difference. In theory “equality” should be an objective measure but as soon as it becomes the equality of something, it is just as subjective as notions of what is just.

Far better we strive for justice for individuals rather than for some diffuse and meaningless “equality for all”.


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