Equality of Outcome

31 08 2010

Susie O’Brien of the Herald Sun is delighted that Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission is adopting a proactive stance on discrimination“.

In the past the commission would have to wait for someone to complain about discrimination before it could do anything about it. Now it can go into any workplace and redress a perceived inequality without anyone making a complaint.

Fantastic! This is like saying police can now come and knock down your door without the warrant and without evidence because of perceived illegal activity.

From now on, instead of individuals fighting the system, the system will fight for individuals, even if they don’t want to fight issues themselves.

But the bigger question is whether the commission should in fact treat people differently in order to make things fairer.

In other words, do we actually need positive discrimination to end discrimination? I would argue that yes, we absolutely do.

And for all of you out there wondering why we can’t just treat everyone equally, I would say this: if people start from different positions, then even if you treat them the same, they still don’t end up as equals.

And after four decades of equal rights, people are now looking at outcomes, not just opportunity.

Equality of outcomes would mean that a drug addict should end up in the same place as the PhD. That lazy should be just as well rewarded as hard-working. Someone who chooses to stay at home and work less (which is what work and life balance is all about) should be just as well rewarded as the person who puts in long hours. A spendthrift should be rewarded at the expense of the thrifty.

The outcome will be predictable as with every other drive for equality of outcome in the past. Hard work, ambition, and responsibility will be discouraged. Laziness and irresponsibility promoted and enforced from above. Our society will be poorer for it.

A free society cannot be equal. As the author correctly states we are all different and start from the different places. We also make different choices. How is it then possible for all of us to arrive at the same destination? This cannot be done through voluntary choices of individuals but only through some form of tyranny from above which is what the author actually applauds.

“Freedom granted only when it is known beforehand that its effects will be beneficial is not freedom.”
Friedrich August von Hayek