NEW CASTLE —
What does it mean to be equal in America?
It’s a deceptively complex question, because we know people aren’t equal. Some are more intelligent than others. Some are physically stronger than others. Some have greater artistic or musical talents than others.
Human beings differ in countless ways in terms of assets and abilities.
Yet a fundamental document linked to America’s founding — the Declaration of Independence — holds that “all men are created equal.” So what gives?
The answer involves something best described as essential equality. We, as human beings, are equal in the sense that we are each distinct individuals. And under the rule of law we have crafted in this country, we are recognized as possessing the same rights and liberties as the guy next to us.
It seems a simple enough concept, but talk of equality gives a lot of Americans the willies.
Take the ongoing dispute over gay marriage. Courts are increasingly rejecting state and federal laws that fail to recognize the rights of gays to marry, mainly on the grounds such laws fail to extend equal rights.
When the United States Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law, denying individuals fundamental rights because of sexual orientation poses a serious problem.
Meanwhile, President Obama lately has been talking about economic inequality in America, warning it is an issue that must be addressed.
The case can indeed be made that societies with extremes between rich and poor are inherently unstable and ripe for revolution and collapse. But does America come close to fitting that description?
And is it the role of government to do something about it? It’s one thing for government to protect the essential equality of individuals; it’s another thing to develop policies designed to level the economic playing field.
One reason for that is a genuine disagreement over whether government policies along those lines help or hurt. In some eyes, government social programs lend crucial aid to those in need. To others, they are traps that create a culture of dependency on government services.
In a free society, there is room to have serious and sincere debates on such issues and the notion of how to deal with economic inequality. On the other hand, you have Tom Perkins.
Perkins is a billionaire venture capitalist who claims he is concerned American tax and fiscal policies will lead to the “extinction” of wealthy people. There is, by the way, absolutely no evidence this is even remotely occurring.
Speaking recently in San Francisco, Perkins told his audience that voting ought to be based on the paying of taxes. He suggested people should receive one vote for every dollar in taxes they pay.
It’s an elitist notion based on the idea that tax payments somehow translate into wisdom. In reality, there are plenty of rich people who expend considerable time and resources practicing the art of tax avoidance. The federal tax code — crafted mainly to benefit the wealthy — assists mightily in that effort. I can assure you the wealthy in America are not suffering.
But we can at least be grateful to Perkins for demonstrating that having money isn’t the same has having common sense.
NEW CASTLE —
What does it mean to be equal in America?
Heartbleed raises the stakes on Internet security
My column last week dealt with Internet and related scams, along with steps people can take to protect themselves. Today’s column could be termed Part 2 of that topic, albeit from a different angle.
John K. Manna: Proposals in Harrisburg fail to reflect reality
My, how time flies. The city of New Castle is in already in its eighth year as a distressed municipality under state Act 47.
Lugene Hudson: Celebrate Easter like Helen Martin
What’s cookin? That’s one of our favorite questions at Culinary Conversation. We love when readers share some of their favorites. This week, Helen Martin of New Castle stepped up to the plate to answer that question regarding Easter dinners.
Mitchel Olszak: There’s no reason to be surprised by modern scams
P.T. Barnum once observed that there is a sucker born every minute. Judging from the people who complain about being caught up in computer scams, I think he was too conservative in his count.
John K. Manna: Decyphering results of state Democratic survey
It’s no surprise that Tom Wolf is far ahead of other Democratic candidates for governor, according to a recent poll. After all, Wolf has been flooding the airwaves with ads, effective ones at that, as evidenced by this Franklin & Marshall College Poll.
Culinary Conversation: From main dish to dessert, some recipes for your holiday table
We all have our favorite memories of Easter dinners. While bunnies, chocolate eggs and peeps show up in the kids’ Easter baskets, the dinner table gets to showcase all of those wonderful spring delights that have finally come out of winter hiding including asparagus, sugar snap peas, broccoli and carrots.
Mitchel Olszak: Doubting the basic intelligence of ravens nevermore
Every now and then, I find myself watching the ravens around my house. That’s because their behavior is fascinating, and at times more than a little disturbing.
Culinary Conversation: Go on; give someone the raspberries
It was my first bowl of red raspberries for the season. And I was jubilant. Plump, juicy and delicious to the last bite, those little nuggets of sweetness satisfied. After this stretched-out, dismal winter, I was ready for a little taste of spring.
Culinary Conversation: Greens, cakes among reader’s recipes
Weeks always start out better when something pleasant arrives in the mail. No, I didn’t win the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.
Culinary Conversation: Add Girl Scout cookies to your recipes
Usually, this time of year, I have a secret stash in my freezer. It doesn’t usually remain a secret for long, though. But when the Girl Scout cookie shipments started arriving, this house had no deliveries.
- More Columns Headlines
- Heartbleed raises the stakes on Internet security