Today I would like to discuss "Equality of Opportunity vs Equality of Outcome". If you have never heard the expression, I'm about to break it down for you. It's not a very complicated concept to understand and once you understand it - you will recognize its moral implications in your everyday life.
Let me start with some simple analogies to set the groundwork. Imagine a classroom of students all taught by the same teacher. Now Imagine these students are graded on a test. Some of these students will get high grades. Some of these students will get low grades. Now imagine the teacher works out the class average and determines that to be everybody’s final grade! In other words, the students that got very high grades would have their grades lowered. The students that got very low grades would have their grades raised.
Alright - you probably agree that this would be a very ridiculous scenario but let us analyze it further. The students were all taught by the same teacher and they all received the same lectures. This means they all had the same opportunity to learn - or - "Equality of Opportunity". In society, when we give people the same opportunity, we shouldn't expect the same outcome because some people are better skilled at certain tasks. Some people are smarter. Smart people are more athletic. Some people are better singers. Some people are taller. So again - you expect some students to perform better than other students. So, in the scenario we discussed previously, making students share their grades and giving the whole class an average grade would be an example of "Equality of Outcome". It's a practice where you try to average the outcome by sharing - or redistributing resources. This sort of practice is happening all the time. Let me give you a real-life example involving men and women.
In Canada and the United States, we have had laws protecting wage disparity based on sex for over 50 years. You can't hire men for the same job as a woman and pay them more. It's illegal and there are no public examples where this is happening to my knowledge.
Alright - so for over 50 years men and women’s pay has been equal - so why do people say that there's a pay-gap or a wage-gap? I keep hearing in mainstream media that women are not being paid as much as men. The reason is that on-average women don't work as many hours as men. Women are more likely to choose not to work or to take time-off from work due to pregnancy. So, in this example the opportunity to work is the same and the payment is equal, but the outcome is different due to the freedom of choice.
Now let us look at the fields men and women work. You will find men and women in all fields but on average you tend to see men in engineering fields and women tend to choose jobs in customer-case or human-relation fields. Well - the free-market has already determined that engineering labor produces higher value and therefore the average salary in that field is higher. So again, we have a natural example that should explain that on-average men should make more money than women.
So, in some ways it's correct to state that men make more money than women - but they're not being paid more for the same work. It's not a problem. It's not something that requires fixing. It basically comes down to a freedom of choice. Anything against this freedom of choice would be "force" and that is immoral.
Here's the problem we're facing, however. This explanation isn't good enough in the minds of some people who are asking for "equal pay". They want "equal pay" even if it means "Equality of Outcome". That means we should either force women to work engineering jobs - even if they don't want to. Or perhaps they're suggesting that men should be taxed and must pay women to make-up the difference in their pays.
I don't mean to blame anyone asking for "equal pay". In fact, I think most people have been lied to by mainstream media and believe that salaries and wages aren't equal between men and women working the same job. To those people, I have a lot of sympathy. But there are some radicals - mostly feminists or men who follow feminists - who know the facts and still demand "Equal Outcome".
Let me summarize my argument as to why this is so immoral and the realities of the free-market:
What some people don't understand is that the free-market rewards "value". If you're capable of providing value, then you receive value in return. It's a form of natural-selection for the economy and a complete freedom of supply-and-demand. It doesn't matter what sex you are. It doesn't matter what race you are. It DOES matter if you don't work as hard or efficient as someone else. It DOES matter if you choose a job that doesn't produce any real value.
If you don't make enough money, that should be the signal for "YOU" to change. It's not the fault of someone else. The free-market is telling you that you're doing something wrong. You should be able to understand these signals but that leads into a deeper problem. In public schools, I think people come away with an unrealistic level of "value for nothing". Everyone is told they're special. Everyone gets a participation trophy. Everyone is constantly rewarded for simply trying rather than being told their true value. Now those people have grown up and they feel cheated. This is where they'll find someone or something to blame. They'll blame someone who is succeeding. They'll feel as though something was taken from them.
So, I want you to think about this in your daily life. Think about "Equality of Opportunity". Think about "Equality of Outcome". Recognize it when you see it. At least if we're all aware of the truth, we won't have any misdirected anger. If someone isn't happy with their finances, they can look within themselves to fix it. Or perhaps people won't have unrealistic self-expectations and will be happy having not grown up wealthy. Maybe some time I will talk about how wealth isn't linked to happiness, but I'll save that for another podcast.
I hope you enjoyed this topic and please leave your comments. Let me know other example of "Equality of Outcome" - I would love to read them.
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