Tuesday, April 28, 2015

egalitarian

Saw a meme someone posted earlier.  A photo of three men in a courtroom, all a very similar shade of dark skin.  The caption read, "3 black men, 3 different positions.  We all have choices."  The lawyer, in a suit.  The policeman in uniform.  The convict, in chains.


To which, I replied..
Joshua Abell Do you think that just because they're all black, they all had the same choices in life? That's absurd.
Like · 39 · 8 hrs

Someone else responded..
C----- F--- Joshua Abell, everyone has the same choices in life. 
Like · 2 · 8 hrs

Nice to see the difference in upvotes there, at least, but I'm not sure that view is so uncommon.  Maybe more popular among those that can't figure out how to use computers, I don't know.. but it strikes me as crazy.  I don't know what people think choices are.

It's like they believe they have this innate power that transcends physiology, capable of trumping any and all circumstances, all the good and bad fortune that's made us who they are, and all that will impact everything we endeavor to do.  So many countless things contribute to what options we have, what we can accomplish, and what can go right or wrong when we give it a shot.  To think otherwise is simplistic to a degree that I find incomprehensible.  Childish.  Like something a brain damaged chimp would say.

And yet this is a guiding principle in our civilization.  Why is it ok, that some people are born into enough wealth to own numerous houses, others can't even afford to rent a room in?  Why is it ok, that some people work their asses off, just to scrape by, while others milk their labor for millions in profits?

Some might argue that it's because they can.  Because those who have the fortune to be in power tend to do what they can to make the most of it.  That we all do what we can, to make the most of what we have.  Some just wield a hell of a lot more power in that respect, so inequality only widens.

That's a constant struggle though, as they have to be careful not to leave too many, with too little.  Enough people end up on the wrong side of that equation, and things tend to change.  One way or another.  I'd also like to think that maybe a compelling enough argument has the potential to shift the balance, as well.

So to that, I can't exactly disagree, I can only debate what that means for how we deal with it.

Others though, would apparently argue that this power structure actually makes sense, that it's even right and fair, because we can all choose to be landlords or tenants or homeless.  Corporate vultures, or petty thieves.  We can choose to be a doctor or lawyer, or maybe even bus tables at Taco Bell, if we're ambitious enough.

In reality, things are a little more complicated than that.  Life isn't fair.  It's not even remotely close to fair.  The natural world has no concept of equality, and it can be appallingly brutal.  The world has no innate concept of right and wrong.  That doesn't even enter into it, as every living things struggles to do whatever it has to, just to survive.

Some of us would like to think that we're a step above that though.  That sociopathic nihilism might not be the best way to go.  We do have a concept of right and wrong. Of fairness.  Of compassion.

There is really no good reason, for people to suffer in modern society, just because others are too greedy to share.  We may not be able to take it from them, but we should at least call it what it is.  Pure greed.  There is nothing reasonable, or righteous about the idea that those with fortune should get to keep it, while those without, just suffer.

I'm not suggesting redistribution to a degree that would disincentivize success.  A progressive society still needs people to have the opportunity to be rewarded for their efforts.  Having more than the bare minimum is still a huge incentive for most of us.

Everyone should be lifted from poverty though.  Not just working people, leaving a caste of unemployed and unemployable to just languish, with no way out.  Some have better excuses than others, but what difference does that really make?

There aren't even enough jobs to go around anyhow, yet we live in a country with the highest GDP in the world.  We aren't remotely lacking in resources, our economy is just being strangled, in the name of righteous greed.  For the country overall, aside from disincentivizing crime, and everything that costs us, it would even pay off in productivity, as so many more people would finally be able to climb towards successful productive lives.  Whether as artists or engineers, we're talking about a whole lot of people who would then be able to contribute to society, instead of just struggling to get from day to day.  People who would put everything they get right back into the economy.

Everyone should have a secure place to live, enough food to survive, access to decent transportation, access to an advanced education, and comprehensive healthcare.. but it also just makes so much more sense than this puritanical workaholic ideologically driven economy we've got now.  This could easily be the bottom line, with some aggressive redistribution, and there is no ethical argument against it, and even the economic downsides of it are debatable.

The only serious opposition is selfishness.  Maybe we have a right to be selfish, but call it what it is.  Everyone else has the right to work together and find a more equitable way to distribute that good fortune life doles out so unfairly.  That's just good governance.

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