A Response to “Equality of Opportunity”

(This is a response to this post: Equality of Opportunity)

Firstly, equality of opportunity is one of your favourite topics, dividing, as you do, everything into two categories: Equality of Opportunity (Good), Equality of Outcome (Bad). At any rate, it should come as no surprise that I define these categories slightly differently, as far as I think of them at all.

Secondly, your whole post seethes of the type of propaganda that permeates from any conservative stand-point: I’m doing okay, so there is no reason you can’t. This is the sort of attitude that reinforces the widening divide between rich and poor, the idea that there is a direct correlation between effort and success. The rich are rich because they deserve to be, and the poor, well they shouldn’t have been so lazy.

Thirdly, you lump together “make us all start from the same point” and “to be rewarded equally for differing levels of effort and skill” as if these two ideas share anything in common. I would say the first is quite obviously the definition of Equality of Opportunity. And you would see it to if you weren’t so aghast at the idea of using the surplus of those who have more than they could ever need to help those–the majority–that don’t. “But, but … that’s Socialism (with a capital ‘S’!),” I hear you sputter. Maybe. I prefer to think of it in terms of helping and sharing. You know, those values that we insist on instilling in our kids before urging them to forget, with greater and greater fervency as they come ‘of age.’

Fourthly, you make no mention of exactly how disadvantaged someone has to be before they are eligible for extra help. Your highly idealised account only holds for someone who has all their faculties, has at least a near average IQ, has access to services, is geographically mobile, and so on.

In fact, you ignore the worst kinds of disadvantage in focusing solely on “laws that were obstacles” (having, as you do, a bugbear about any government involvement or “interference”) and mental barriers. It is true that these are important points, but they completely disregard the material conditions of the disadvantaged.

In general, “Indifferent to Everyone” is not the great principle of “Equality of Opportunity” that you take it to be. Such a stricture is only advantageous to those that have been historically successful, and those that are capable and willing to adopt the definition of “Success” inherent in the ‘game’ as their own.

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