When I was ten years old I tried out for the local little league baseball program, got cut from the team and went home crying. The coach told me to be sure to try out again the next year so I did; was cut again, and went home crying.
It was one of the worst setbacks in memory to my childhood self esteem because, while admittedly I was not a great athlete, at least I knew that I was a lot better than some of the younger boys who made the team.
The rotten part about the system was the fact that every year an equal quota of 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 year-old tryouts had to be selected. I was better than all the 8 and 9-year-olds, but too many of the kids my age were better than me so I got cut, not just once but twice. So I never had a chance to play little league baseball.
It wasn’t fair.
Attempting to force equality among unequals isn’t fair.
Later on in my life, as all kids do, I learned that some of my peers had more and better stuff than I had. A few of them had no trouble acquiring the prettiest girls, achieving the best grades, and effortlessly displaying the most pleasing physique and appearance, while the rest of us could only wish for such qualities.
But it never occurred to me that some God or the government ought to step in and try to force a system of equality so that every kid could have the same stuff, the prettiest girls, the best grades and looks. Even as a kid I knew that such a thing would be quite impossible, and that even if it were possible, it wouldn’t be right.
One of the best lessons of life is learning that inequality is a fact of life. Inequality is what enhances life and makes life worth living. Inequality is good. Inequality is a virtue. The satisfaction with life is learning how to play the hand that nature dealt you. Poverty can be overcome. Physical appearance can be improved. Success can be achieved by anyone willing to put forth the time and effort.
While the plain facts of nature guarantee inequality among all organisms, as human beings we can still rightly aspire to guarantee each person to equality under the law. There is a big difference between equality of status and equality under law. The former is simply not possible and not desirable, yet the latter is not only possible but necessary to a fair system of human societal organization.
The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution guarantee equality under the law. That means that the laws are supposed to treat every person equally; justice is supposed to be blind; and no one is supposed to be above the law. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way in practice but the idea is right. It’s an idea worth fighting for.
But one thing the Constitution does not guarantee is equality of status. There has always been inequality, and there always will be inequality of status. Some from among us are just naturally smarter, more talented, well endowed and better looking than the rest. That is as it should be.
Try to imagine a scenario in which everyone was actually equal to everyone else in every way. That is an unimaginably bleak and foreboding thought to my mind. The nearest I can come to contemplating the concept is imagining what it is like to live in North Korea, the worst hellhole existing on planet Earth.
But that fact doesn’t keep your average committed statist politician like Barack Obama from trying to force his socialist utopian system of equality of status on all Americans. Income inequality is the “defining challenge of our time,” the President will exclaim in his State of the Union speech this week.
He thinks that forcing employers to pay a higher minimum wage will help solve the “problem” of income inequality. He thinks that low entry level and low skilled employees ought to earn a higher proportion of a business’ earnings compared to the owners and managers. He believes that “workplace fairness” means that everyone must be compensated exactly the same. And he thinks that the government ought to use force to make it that way.
When will the statists of this world ever learn that their socialist ideas won’t work? There is a good reason for inequality of status; a good reason for inequality of income; and a good reason to believe that:
Inequality is a virtue.