In his State of the Union address, President Obama touted the “Buffett Rule” which he said would bring about equality in the tax code. Meanwhile, “Occupy” protests have been living in encampments across the nation to protest what they say is an unjust income inequality.
What’s the true meaning of equality in America? The Founders were deliberate about including the concept of equality in the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims: “That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”
But does the America of today view equality in the same way the Founders did?
When the Declaration of Independence proclaims all men to be created equal, it means that all human beings, regardless of religion, sex, or skin color, possess the same natural rights. The Founders were well aware that different people are unequal in physical and mental capacities. But however noticeable the differences between people may be, they are never so great as to deprive them of their rights. No one, no matter how intelligent or capable he or she may be, can claim the right to rule others. Since all men and women share a common human nature, they are all therefore equally entitled to the same natural rights (such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness).
The Founders wanted to create an America where all people had equality in their prospect to succeed. They sought to create a political and economic system that allowed people to have a fair shot at success through hard work and through their own merit.
However, such a system based on individual merit necessarily means that there will be inequality in outcomes. Because we live in a free society, some will naturally succeed more than others.
Liberals hold a different view. “Today many people think that equal rights are not enough and demand equality of results,” Shaw says. “They view any inequalities, whether in income or educational attainment, as a sign of injustice. Such claims are misguided.”
The American dream is still alive, and the Founders have insured through our inalienable rights, that every American is endowed with the opportunity for success.
Do you think America has strayed from the Founder’s ideal of equality?