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Freedom and equality, sworn enemies

Freedom and Equality

“… freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails, the other dies.”

Will & Ariel Durant

A war is raging for your mind and heart. Which side wins will determine whether you live free in abundance or controlled in poverty.  You will have to choose between individual freedom or material equality, and 5000 years of history says you can’t have both.

The purpose of LibertyLion® University is to help YOU make the best choice.

Gathering the best wisdom into a non-partisan knowledge base of liberty, so people can choose wisely between freedom and equality, because:

“Free men are never equal, and equal men are never free.” (unknown)

Lesson from History

Will & Ariel Durant, who wrote the massive 10,000 page The Story of Civilization , concluded in Lessons of History that: “… freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails, the other dies.”  By freedom, they meant “individual liberty”, the freedom to choose what one does with one’s life.  By equality they meant “material equality”, everyone having an equal share of the wealth.  The lesson they have drawn from 5000 years of history is that individual liberty and material equality can't exist together.  When one gets stronger, the other must become weaker. 

Drum Beat of Inequality

The world is once again becoming polarized over the issue of income inequality and the resentment unfair income inequality inspires.   To some historians like the Durants, history is seen as a constant cycle of accumulation of wealth that creates inequality, followed by redistribution through legislation or revolution - both of which destroy wealth.  The following is representative of the constant drum beat of inequality presented in the media and its effect on people’s attitudes. 

What Does Income Inequality Mean to Americans?

BBC News

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Political leaders the world over are seeking power to change the economic landscape and redistribute wealth, calling income inequality the greatest evil of our time and using it as a rallying cry.  What do they mean when they say income inequality is rising, and is that a real problem?  Poverty is a real problem that we should all care about, but what about income equality?  Will the solutions being proposed to solve the income inequality “problem” solve the “poverty” problem or make it worse?  Discover what is real and what is not in the debate about income inequality and how it relates to poverty by exploring these pages.

The Truth About Inequality

Inequality of ability is a natural fact of life.  One of the results is income inequality which can be good or bad depending upon how people use their abilities, to create or steal.  As a result there are both fair and unfair types of income inequality.  Many on the Right and Left see only the half they want to see.  The Right sees only the fair while the Left sees only the unfair.  One is produced by MAKERS and the other by TAKERS.  Understanding who the makers and takers are and how they influence income inequality and prosperity is crucial if we want to continue stop abuse of power without rolling back our standard of living or limiting future growth and prosperity.  But almost all of our world leaders fail to understand this distinction.  Part of the problem is that they all use a very misleading indicator of income inequality called the Gini coefficient, that calls equal poverty better then unequal wealth.

This series of articles explores how the quest for both freedom and equality collides with reality and can destroy prosperity if the causes and methods of measuring income inequality are not carefully considered and understood.  Its focuses on inequality that is caused by what people do or don't do.  It does not deal with non-human causes of inequality such as disaster, bad health, disability, accidents and bad luck.  These causes of poverty and inequality, which are certainly unfair, will be discussed separately in a section on Poverty.

Income inequality caused by men's actions is a real problem, but a very different one from what the politicians tell you.  Income inequality needs to be dealt with, but carefully, so we don’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs while trying to kill the vultures.

What is at Stake

The ideal of equality is based on the notion that all men are born with a natural right to a share of the world’s wealth, in a paradise of unlimited bounty that will be produced through central planning.    But it fails to recognize that abundance doesn't just spring from the earth; it has to be created.  Land has to be cleared, water diverted, fields planted and harvested.  Iron ore must be mined, smelted, milled, and made into useful items. 

Prosperity is the result of a delicate economic balance of freedoms and rights that have produced the incredible improvements in the quality of human life over the last several hundred years, a balance that has made it possible for billions of additional people to live on the earth.  If you follow the politicians whose plans will destroy that balance, without understanding the many sources of inequality, some good and some bad, you will end up helping destroy the engine of prosperity that has been improving the world’s standard of living for hundreds of years and created everything you currently have and enjoy, including your food, clothing, shoes, cell phone, car, medical care, etc. 

You, personally (unless you are one of the elite), will lose far more than you will gain from most leaders’ solution to income inequality that will actually destroy fair income inequality while promoting unfair income inequality.  The result will be diminished prosperity, especially for the poor who will suffer the most, while the dishonest rich continue to flourish.  But constructive solutions to ending unfair income inequality will lead to continued improvement in the lives of the poor and middle class, while decreasing the opportunity for the unfair accumulation of wealth that produces unfair income inequality.

Recommended

The Ideal of Equality  all equality isn’t equal because equality means completely different things to

Inequality  a gateway to inequality, what is it, why it exists and why it matters

Income Inequality, Fair or Unfair  all income inequality is not the same; recognize the difference

The Lessons of History what Will and Ariel Durant learned from writing 10,000 pages of history


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