Inequality - Inequity

Unequal distribution of resources has become a central point of focus for many progressives - sometimes even considered the problem facing society. Compared to inequality and its reference to unequal rights or wages, inequity is related to legal or social fairness given the circumstances.

 Although conservatives do sometimes push back against the increasing emphasis given to these terms, they would insist the disagreements relate to details of approaches, rather than an issue of who is caring or  compassionate (or not).  From a conservative perspective, they care equally about unequal resources, but with a different perspective on the ideal pathway to remedy the inequities. For instance, conservatives are  frequently more concerned with equal opportunity rather than equal results. But there are some shared concerns.

Many free market libertarians, conservatives, and progressives agree that inequality due to crony capitalism is egregiously immoral and should be addressed.  Thus there are many on both the right and the left who are angry about the big bank bailouts in 2008.  But those on the right tend more often to distinguish wealth inequality based on real value creation, such as an entrepreneur who creates a valuable product, vs. wealth inequality based on crony capitalism.  Insofar as both Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party arose in response to government bailouts of big banks while ordinary Americans suffered, there is considerably more opportunity for transpartisan cooperation than is usually realized.

There are also many right-leaning policy wonks and community leaders who are more concerned with quality of life than inequality per se.  Thus conservative church groups in inner city America may find the epidemic of fatherlessness, failing public schools, and mass incarceration to be a more important focus than inequality as a mathematical abstraction.  For instance, if welfare payments double, triple, or quintuple but most young men grow up without a father and end up in the penal system, it is hard to see how increased welfare payments have addressed the real issue.

QUESTIONS TO PLAY WITH:  

  • What do you believe are the primary causes of unequal resources?
  • Do people across the political spectrum care about unequal resources - or is compassion on this point reserved to one particular political group?  
  • Does it matter how we go about trying to remedy unequal resources? If so, what are the differences in approaches that matter most?
Conversation Catalysts: 
Contributors: 

Michael Strong, John Gable

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