The Corner

The Real Equality Problem: No One Actually Wants It

Though Megan McArdle is on leave, there’s still some good, thought-provoking stuff on her blog. In a recent guest post, Laura McKenna describes how good parents with good intentions create greater inequality. Focusing mainly on school foundations and other parent-led financial initiatives, McKenna notes the obvious impact on equality:

Foundations are part in parcel with other efforts in wealthier communities to supplement education. The local middle schools in our area send kids on three day trips to Boston or DC and ask parents to cover the tab. One town asked that each parent pay over $900 per child.

Infusions of cash from parents, PTAs, and foundations are invisible donations to schools, which may be increasing school inequity. Both Reich and Olen are concerned about this development. At the same time, these foundations are also a new means for parental involvement and have the potential to bring in money into starving school districts, as well as wealthy districts. 

Of course some on the left are concerned (how dare your stable marriage, hard work, and financial success have disproportionate impact on your child’s education!), but equality-focused social engineers could never effectively limit parents’ efforts on behalf of their children. Simply put, good parents try to improve their kids’ educational outcomes. Moreover, they don’t generally do so because they dream their kids can be “just like everyone else,” but so they can have an advantage, a leg-up as they start life on their own. Good parents try to provide the best they can for their kids. Good employees try to advance as far as they can at work. Good athletes try to become the go-to player for their teams. Good entrepreneurs try to create and grow a business that is better than its competitors. In fact, it’s safe to say that no reasonable, diligent person strives for “equality” in their own personal circumstances — regardless of whether one refers to equality of opportunity or equality of outcome.

All of this is painfully obvious — or should be — but that doesn’t stop the Left from often wrongly equating inequality with inequity and seeking ever greater and more intrusive regulation to create a world than can never be and no one really wants.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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