Written by David Boaz, executive vice president at the Cato Institute. It is cross-posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
The radical abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens is enjoying a rediscovery as the moral center of Steven Spielberg’s film Lincoln. As portrayed in the film, he confronts the sort of dilemma faced by many people of strong ideological convictions forced to deal with political reality: Will he disavow his radical belief in full racial equality in order to ease passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery? (No spoilers here.)
Stevens’s belief in equality under the law went beyond race, as Karen Tumulty notes in a Washington Post article on the fiscal cliff negotiations:
House Ways and Means Chairman Thaddeus Stevens (now enjoying a return to popular consciousness as Tommy Lee Jones’s character in the movie “Lincoln”) denounced the idea of a graduated rate structure as a “strange way to punish men because they are rich.”
Once in a while, an article I read will stick with me over several days. That happened last week when I saw this article about fairness and equality. The author uses some great examples that I had never really considered:
- In sports, making one team trade their better players to weaker teams.
- In acting, excluding someone from Oscar nominations because he/she has won too many.
- In technology, a successful company being forced to fund research for its competitors.
Consider the example of forcing a sports team to make the league “fair” by trading its star players to less competitive teams. Would baseball be better if the stars were divided equally around the league? Or would every team having the same amount of skill make the game boring?
The place where there should be fairness and equality is in the opportunity each team has to succeed. Give every team a chance to succeed, and let there be winners and losers.
Of course, that doesn’t make any sense. Just the though tof the logistics of it all is pretty mind boggling. Yet when this concept reaches the topic of taxation, we still hear about taxing the “haves” more than the “have nots” because it’s fair. It lets everyone can be equal. We actually already do that. It’s called a progressive income tax. And still we hear calls to make it even more extreme.
The concept works the same whether it is applied to baseball or to taxes. I really like the quote at the end of that article: “A good and just tax system should be designed to make the poor rich, not the rich poor.”
HARTFORD, Connecticut (CNN) — The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Friday that gay and lesbian couples have the right to get married.
The ruling makes Connecticut the third state, after Massachusetts and California, to decide its constitution mandates treating citizens equally when applying for marriage licenses, regardless of their sexual orientation.