All pebbles are created equal, but some are more equal than others
A Critique of the Equality Act (EQA)
▪ The EQA is based on partisan ideology rooted in neo-Marxist ideas.
▪ The EQA is effectively a licence to discriminate. It creates rights for some but not for others.
▪ The EQA undermines individual liberty and erodes the public-private boundary.
To say that the government should Do Something to fix the challenges of the digital age, or that we need a New Law to control the robots before they steal all our jobs, rests on the assumption that the government knows what to do and how to do it; and that our brilliant lawmakers know precisely what law would be most appropriate and effective.
Everybody knows that if you ever have an idea about something that would be really cool to try out, the first thing you have to do is hire a lawyer to give you advice on how to achieve your dreams. Conventional wisdom is that it would be too risky to try and achieve anything without legal advice, and absolutely foolhardy even to attempt anything when your lawyer has told you that you're probably going to fail because <legal this legal that>. I would like to disclose a truth well understood by anyone with even the slightest insight into the functioning of legal systems: law is trivial, my friends, and of all the things you need to consider when planning a business venture the law should be the least of your concerns. I refer, of course, to the private law that regulates private transactions between consenting adults. [Editor: 'private' in this context has no salacious connotations; it means transactions not involving the state or government].
By now it has become quite rare, in our highly regulated world, to come across the old-fashioned phrase 'freedom of contract'. We live in a post-freedom world, where the most important thing is to equalise everything. In the fight against inequality, nobody has time to worry about freedom. We have truly have a come a long way since the ancient golden era of freedom of contract. But occasionally, when you're innocently and quietly reading a Supreme Court decision on why it's wrong to charge people fees to file complaints against their employers (surely anybody should be able to complain about other people for free?) you are suddenly confronted with the idea that notions of freedom of contract might actually be relevant to this situation.
In the age of competitive victimhood, power lies in proving that you are more victimised than the other victims. This can be achieved by complaining louder and more effectively than the other complainers. The forgotten man in this context is the person who goes through life quietly, complaining about nothing, and gets sadly left behind because he has failed to hone his complaining skills. This is a very risky position to find yourself in. It results in being overlooked when public policy is formulated.
Black South Africans sold the world a dream about freedom, but as we can now see, it was only ever a dream about equalising wealth. The lawlessness and social disintegration will continue until all wealth is equalised, and seen to be equalised. Nobody minds if the rule of law and social order break down, because once we set equality as the goal we can't really stop to quibble about the methods.
In an ideal world, everyone would be equal, and everyone would also be free to live the life they want in pursuit of their private individual goals. We wouldn't have to choose between equality and freedom, because we'd be able to forge a world with both equality and freedom for all. There would be no trade-offs: equality and freedom would co-exist and support each other. So we would have an intricate legal framework forcing everyone to be equal, and at the same time everyone would be left free to think their own thoughts, say what they like, keep their own stuff, and freely decide whom they wished to interact with and what goals to pursue in life.
There are two kinds of equality – formal equality and substantive equality. The idea that all men are born equal expresses formal equality, and everybody agrees with that. But the idea that everybody should have the same amount of wealth expresses substantive equality, and that's a bit more difficult to justify. Why should people be equal in relation to the amount of stuff they have? Why is it unfair for someone else to have more stuff than you? Why do you get to specify exactly how much more they're allowed to have, before you start feeling that it's 'too much'?
Basic human liberties such as freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and freedom to acquire and hold private property are more important than economic prosperity in an abstract sense.
Many people today assume that life is ideally supposed to be fair, so they take it as self-evident that others must be forced by law to provide various things from within their own resources, in order to make everything fair. In other words, everyone has to share nicely with those around them even if they don't want to. In the pursuit of fairness, other values such as liberty and the freedom to choose are relegated to the sidelines. This results from measuring the value of how much you've achieved by reference to what others have achieved.
Proponents of economic equality push forward vague notions that people should have more or less the same amount of stuff, and nobody should have much more stuff than other people because It Feels Very Unfair when some are so rich while others are so poor. That is not a very sophisticated way to understand economic life. What's the relevance of comparing how much one person has, to how much another person has? Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom (great book, google it) challenges us to think a bit more intelligently about the meaning of 'equality' in the context of a market economy. If we are to translate the ideals of equality into reality we'll need a conceptual framework that's a bit more sophisticated than 'everyone having the same amount of stuff' or 'paying everyone the same wage'.
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