Tommaso at CalJunket articulates something I’ve often thought:
Unlike conservobots, who assume that government intervention is the only source of unfairness, liberals understand that inequities can come from multiple sources. And let me be clear, by inequities I do not mean unequal income. If a person works hard and wisely, that person deserves more money than a person who is lazy and foolish. By inequity, I mean forces that reward or punish people randomly. For example, an inheritance from your super rich parents (say, one worth more than $675,000) is not deserved money in any sense. Basically, giant outsized inheritances are randomly assigned to a number of children born each year without any meaningful competition.
The founding fathers understood the problems with unearned wealth whether it be inheritance or the naturally outsized political influence of money. They had escaped a land of aristocracy and class privilege to a comparative paradise of equal opportunity and merit. They aimed to keep it that way and so, among other things, they instituted estate taxes (first at the state level and later on the federal). This ingenious means of ensuring fairness was noted by no less than Alexis De Tocqueville in his book Democracy in America.
I don’t agree with Tommasso about everything – his rudeness to conservatives, for instance, and his faith in the founding fathers. But he’s got it right about liberalism.
To expand on his point, consider race. Conservatives often criticize liberals for seeking “equality of outcome” rather than “equality of opportunity” on race issues. But here’s the thing – if you believe that people of different races are fundamentally equal, then the distinction between equality of outcome and equality of opportunity fades away. Put another way, since all races are equal in ability, unequal outcomes are proof of unequal opportunity.
Conservatives are happy to let the status quo – one in which whites are unfairly advantaged – go on. In this way, conservatives oppose merit. Leftists want to let merit determine outcomes – which requires measures to fight unfair white advantage, including affirmative action.