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COLUMN: Enforced Equality

Published: Sunday, February 17, 2013

Updated: Sunday, February 17, 2013 23:02


If you happen to ask a professor what are among the least desirable aspects of the job, a likely response would be grading, which inevitably involves rather tiresome confrontations with grade-grubbers. That same professor, however, while so earnestly disparaging attempts at grade-grubbing, has no quarrel with money-grubbing in the form of social welfare. In both instances, people are given benefits that they have not directly earned, but while the former is scoffed at, the latter is regarded with a certain esteemed dignity. What is more inconsistent about this tendency is that while acquiescing to grade-grubbing costs the professor nothing, addressing money-grubbing levies material costs for the professor, impinging upon his salary and diminishing his own standard of living. This discrepancy is astounding, the willingness of the professor to redistribute welfare in one case and the utter abhorrence of doing so in the face of grade-grubbers. It appears to be quite the paradox.
A disclaimer is necessary to all Democrats and the emotionally susceptible, who by this point in the article are indubitably prepared to pen a “socially responsible” rebuttal, maintaining that the purpose of welfare is to overcome unfairness inherent in a capitalist society. If this column has hitherto been troubling to your sense of political correctness, I advise you to stop reading, as I humbly advance the following claim, that the ruthless and profit-seeking market economy is far more fair than academia. In the open economy, decision making is entirely decentralized, allowing private individuals to pursue any opportunity they deem most attractive in any fashion they so please—the only limitations are indeed the extent of the individual’s will. In essence, the power rests entirely with private citizens, who unfettered in any respect, are completely and utterly at their own mercy. It is truly amazing how Democrats can ceaselessly complain that all of this fairness is simply unfair.
This absolute liberty exists in stark contrast to academia, where much decision making power, and hence ability to determine outcomes, rests with professors and administration. In no way does this comparison seek to diminish academia, it is in fact the institution that prepares me for the freedom, and fairness, ahead—the comparison is merely drawn to demonstrate how fair society really is. While the usual chorus of naysayers will assert that wealth is distributed unevenly, this fact is irrelevant given the complete autonomy for individuals to succeed or fail at their own hand.
The question that begs to be asked is why welfare is extoled in one arena, the open economy, yet spurned so thoroughly in the field of academia, especially given the absence of boundaries in the former. Indeed extreme inequity exists in colleges as well, in terms of academic performance, but it would be inconceivable for even the most bleeding-heart liberal to demand a redistribution of grades to ensure “fairness.” John Kerry in particular would have to forsake his “I’m better than you attitude” if that standard were upheld. After all, is it not unfair that Boston College only accepts the most qualified applicants, and should they not instead choose the least qualified just to promote fairness? Such propositions are entirely erroneous, but they represent the conjectures of liberals taken to their logical extent, a bit of a misnomer you must agree. If people so readily accept differences of outcomes in the academic environment, why do they suddenly become appalled when considering differences in outcome in the marketplace, especially when people are far more free in the open market? This standard of “social responsibility” seems inconsistently applied.
For the liberals who have made it thus far, I must congratulate you, as surely the desire must be insatiable to assert that evil corporations through their profit-seeking agendas are inherently unfair. If we consider, however, that for the wage earner all earnings are in essence profit, it emerges that everyone, not just corporations, has access to profit-making potential. Indeed, the wage earner enjoys a far larger profit margin on their sales than corporations, 100 percent versus only a small portion—it appears they may actually be getting the upper hand!
Even if the profit argument is discarded, we have yet to consider the grand equalizer, as the reality remains that government intervention through welfare should have long since rendered society fair. Given that each year the federal government allocates 54 percent of its resources to various forms of welfare, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other safety net programs, how can inequity possibly remain? Moreover, this is not a one-time expense, but it occurs annually, and considering welfare has existed for the last 80 years now, how much more is needed to level the playing field? If the immeasurable sum of $1.9 trillion per year is not enough to eliminate inequity, I challenge anyone to determine what is the requisite amount. For those adverse to numbers, that is two Iraq and Afghanistan wars each year. It seems that despite the best efforts of Democrats, it is almost as if people stubbornly insist on not being made equal. Imagine that.
Augmenting this equalizing effect is that, with the Bush tax cuts only expiring on the top two percent, the other 98 percent of the country retains the significant tax cut in perpetuity. In essence, the tax structure has permanently been altered in an arrangement that is top heavy, placing more and more of the burden of the “enforced equality” burden on fewer and fewer people. This approach fundamentally unbalances where government revenues are generated, and if social policy is as important as the Democrats tell us, should we not all contribute? Would that not be fair?
If BC were to allocate 54 percent of its operating resources to ensure academic “fairness,” imagine the consequences. For those of you who would be less than satisfied with this policy, I think you can guess for which party I would advise you not to vote. Perhaps “social responsibility” is indeed irresponsible.
Editor’s Note: The views presented in this column are those of the author alone and do not represent the views of The Heights.

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