Equality seems to be the buzzword of the realm, but are we really getting to the root of the issue with modern policy? Granted; inequality has shaped our world into what it is today through slavery, discrimination, religious persecution, and globalization. Apple makes iPhones with cheap labor in China, the pyramids were built by Jewish slaves, Catholicism dominated Europe through crusading, etc… We’ve come a long ways but the division of labor and the wealth distribution is exponentially higher than any other time in American history. The last time there was such a blatant division of wealth and labor was during the events leading up to the French Revolution; is history doomed to repeat itself?
Maybe discrimination is human nature and we will never be able to work it out of our DNA? Like most shallow emotions us humans experience, we tend to respond emotionally to hardships by blaming it on others or lashing out. I’m not saying inequality is a shallow emotion, simply that it is the byproduct of basic human-nature. Someone once told me that “people like people like themselves”, this is evident among all cultures and character traits. We are most comfortable with a family unit, our DNA reproduces itself and assures that our genetic material survives, so it’s human nature to protect traits that we personally possess. So on a human level, I can get my head around where inequality comes from.
So what do we do about it? All around me I see incentive programs for minorities and people from less fortunate backgrounds; then I see policies in place such as Harvard’s admission standards making it more difficult for Asians to gain admission because they are disproportionally enrolling; and similarly in New York City where Mayor De Blasio is manipulating test results to make private inner-city schools more accessible to minorities. But Asians are a minority, forget that they are the most populous race on the planet, and they work very hard to be able to pass these tests and go to a good school. Should the fight against inequality include reverse discrimination?
This is a clear barrier-of-entry issue and inequality in reverse. As one demographic improves and adapts more pressure is in place to bring them down. Asians have a culture of performance and honor in academia, this is why they’re succeeding, not some loop-hole in the test structure. Maybe this is none of my business as a straight, white, catholic, educated, man from a middle-class home in Upstate New York. The Irish and Polish were discriminated against too, but well before my lifetime. That’s not to say I haven’t witnessed and experienced discrimination myself in the days of affirmative action and ‘white privilege’; but is the current course of action the best course of action? Does discrimination in the past justify different forms of discrimination in the present? I see a model of fighting inequality as holding down the top instead of elevating the bottom, that is an injustice to the hard-working people who have made good choices and worked hard to get ahead in life. We’re sending a message that if you study and challenge yourself it no longer affects your opportunities, or that if you make good choices and become weathy we will take your money to pay for everyone else’s bad choices. Isn’t that the exact discrimination we’ve been fighting all along?
This inequality battle will not be won until we drop the labels and start promoting people and incentivizing them not by the color of their skin but on the content of their character (Martin Luther King, Jr.). This is America, if you work hard and make good choices you should be rewarded, not doomed to pay progressive taxes into a system that still labels people by skin color.
I will never introduce myself as “hello, my name is Mark and I’m a straight white man!” That sounds ridiculous, because nobody cares. If we keep assigning labels to people we are doomed to perpetuate this vicious cycle of relabeling inequality time and time again. It will take on new faces and new issues, but the fact remains that as long as we call ourselves something other than an individual we will never move on, resentment and myopia will forever govern policy. With freedom of information, global mobility, interracial marriages and Canadians running for American office… Is this really the best we can do as a society?
To loosely quote an hilarious fictional character “maybe we should all just procreate until we’re all one color” – Senator Jay Billington Bullworth