Equal Opportunity Rhetoric Is A Bit Rich

 Anything To Make Themselves Look Good To Thesmelves

One of the more illogical things from this Abbott Government – and there are many illogical things about this government, but bear with me a little – is this notion that it wants equal opportunity but it’s not interested in equal outcomes. The apparent reasoning goes equal opportunity is good because everybody is different and everybody is talented to different levels so if the opportunity is equal then the outcome would be different in proportion to the talents and efforts of the participants. This in turn justifies the notion that outcomes from equal opportunity may still be unequal, but that’s okay because the government delivered the front end of the process. If there’s a bit of inequality around, that’s because some are more hard-working than others and some are more talented than others and so the rhetoric goes.

Equal outcomes on the other hand are evil because it takes the incentive away from the talented or hardworking or the talented-and-hardworking (often they insert their narcissistic self-image here) and holds them back to put them at the same outcome as the lazy dole-bludging scumbucket commie youth (and this is where they insert a an old image of the Paxton brothers). This rhetorical flourish has been going on for some time now and nobody in the ALP ranks has actually gotten up to say “if you want equal opportunity by that account, there should be 100% death duties” because that would be the ultimate in a level playing field.

Or they should abolish Private Schools. Or they should abolish family trusts. All these things would bring things much closer to equal opportunity. As it is, the rich get to have so many ways to make opportunities unequal, and the Coalition is in favour of all those things. Yet, there’s no logical way this coalition government can truly be standing by its own rhetoric covering equal opportunity. Furthermore, because nobody on either side of politics is willing to pursue the reductio ad absurdum of creching all the children born in our society like say, the ancient Spartans did,  we can safely say that the Coalition don’t (and won’t and can’t) even believe in equal opportunity the way they describe it, any more than the ALP is pushing communism. That is to say equality of anything is not really on the agenda for the Coalition. Everything they say about equality is a flat out lie to cover up what they want to do which is to entrench privilege. Let’s not forget George Orwell called this rhetorical double-cross Doublespeak.

Inequality in our society is rising quickly partly because we keep going back to these same tired, illogical rhetorical cliches about equality in our society. If John Hewson is willing to say the gap is too big to be papered over by the rhetoric of equality of opportunity and not outcomes, then we can safely say there’s something pretty unequal going on.

But the former Treasury economist, IMF adviser and investment banker does find the Abbott government guilty of serious unfairness: “They raised expectations that the budget would be fair, but it it’s very inequitable. They said everyone would share the burden, but they clearly didn’t except for the cosmetic 2 per cent levy” on people earning more than $180,000 a year.

“That’s 1 per cent of the income for a higher earner, but they’ve made sizeable cuts of 10 per cent to 15 per cent for people on low incomes” through welfare changes. “It’s a significant hit to people on low incomes,” he says.

About two-thirds of the adult population agrees with Hewson’s charge of unfairness, according to the polls. But what of Joe Hockey’s rejoinder to the complaint that the budget is unfair? He’s said that government isn’t supposed to deliver equality of outcomes, but should aim for fairness of opportunities.

“There’s too big a gap between equality of opportunity and equality of outcomes,” replies Hewson.

 It’s a weird moment in history when you find yourself agreeing with John Hewson, having vehemently voted against him back in 1993.

 

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