07 February 2012

Paragraphs to Ponder


Americans like to think that they live in a classless society, which seems to accord better with the egalitarian promises of the Declaration of Independence. But this is nonsense: The Declaration promises people the right to the pursuit of happiness, not to happiness itself, much less to equal happiness.
The problem, however, is that marks of distinction and the fruits of effort tend to be hereditary, passed on from one generation to the next. Indeed, one of the reasons that people try to distinguish themselves in the first place is that they want to ease or improve the lives of those who come after them, particularly their own descendants.
So Americans uneasily both accept and reject the hereditary principle, a contradiction that's uncomfortable for them but very productive.

I’ve remarked on equality before, so I will simply say that equality is non-existent, at least in a material sense.  What’s strange is how Americans try to ignore this easily observed fact in the pursuit of fairness.  Even more intriguing is how this pursuit of egalitarian fairness leads to grave injustices.

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