Thursday, November 24, 2016

Equal Opportunity Versus Equal Outcome?

We really need to get more disciplined with name-calling.

@09:56 in this thoughtful podcast -- What Kind of Conservative is Trump? -- there is a discussion about whether Republicans care about inequality, linked to David Remnick's essential reading from his interview with Obama in the New Yorker. The response by Matt Lewis paints a common and incorrect version two concepts. In the "menu of values", he describes a choice between equal opportunity (I assume he means his ideology) or equal outcome (I assume he means the other ideology).

I associate equal outcome with Soviet-style socialism, not the more common concept of an equal playing field.

This is relevant given a huge hang up in this election over Bernie Sanders being a "socialist" and the lingering association with Obama as something similar, as though the only concept of that word is a striving for equal outcome. I don't know any politicians who support the idea of equal outcome. No, Mr. Lewis (@11:52) I don't think a discussion of "fairness" would cause liberals to say that fairness "means everybody gets the same amount".

Yes, that's a small example, but one that really gets under my skin. And this is a New Yorker podcast! Let me not even mention what I hear come out of the mouths of other media outlets.

Here's another example from This American Life, an episode called Red State, Blue State that explored why it was so hard for opposing sides to talk to one another in the 2012 election between Obama and Romney. It feels quaint to hear it today.

The journalist, Lisa, is asking Ron about why he has a falling out with his friend, Frank, when he found out that Frank was voting for Obama.
Lisa Pollak: Frank recalls you calling him a Socialist. 
Ron Sexton: Absolutely. And I did, and I still believe it. When Frank takes umbrage at the fact that I called him a Socialist, what he doesn't understand or doesn't accept is that he is in love with a Socialist. This man that's in the White House is the most brilliant president we've ever had for Frank Mills and others like some of his friends. And Lisa, it offends me to hear that while we're going down the tubes. 
Lisa Pollak: He says his feelings were hurt. Why not just agree to disagree and put those differences aside? Why is that hard?
Ron Sexton: I would lay it on this-- the stakes are too high to consider it simply as agree to disagree. I don't agree to disagree. Frank needs to change his opinion because his view on the conduct of this society will kill it.
We have to tone it down.

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