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?
Culinary Conversation: It’s a hole new recipe with this banana pudding cake
Last week, while on vacation, I was fortunate to have lunch out at three different restaurants. But I skipped dessert every time. Then Anita Guyton sent me a message on Facebook, and a sweet craving began that hasn’t actually stopped
Mitchel Olszak: IRS email fight clouds the issue
A scandal involving the Internal Revenue Service is now focused on missing emails. The absent data could represent the smoking gun Republicans have been seeking in their endless efforts to discredit the Obama administration.
John K. Manna: Harrisburg passes the buck to local taxes
By the time you read this, Gov. Tom Corbett may have signed the state budget. Or, he may have done nothing. Or, he may have vetoed it.
Culinary Conversation: Try these treats at your summer celebration
There’s no doubt about it — this is a busy time of year. There are graduation parties still going on, wedding and baby showers, engagement and birthday parties, bridal and bachelor luncheons, and lots of get-togethers.
Dear Reader: Efficiency overlooked in Pennsylvania budget crisis
Politicians in Harrisburg are rounding up the usual suspects while crafting a balanced budget for the new fiscal year.
Culinary Conversation: Reader shares more of her favorite recipes.
I think — no, I know — that I want to eat at Kristine Suber’s house. The busy wife and mother submitted eight recipes to Culinary Conversation this week. Eight. But today, there’s room for six of Kristine’s selections.
Mitchel Olszak: Iraq is good argument for fracking
A friend of mine is a big advocate of shale gas drilling. It’s not because he owns land and is looking forward to royalties. He owns no property.
Culinary Conversation: Just peachy! Time for fresh fruit pies
The peaches sat on the kitchen table for a few days. But when they were fully ripe, I knew the wait was worth it. They tasted exactly the way eating a peach out of hand should be — juicy and delicious.
Mitchel Olszak: Government officials can’t dismiss Sunshine Law rights
There’s a fundamental problem I frequently see with government. It has to do with the people who hold positions of authority. Too often, they seem to overlook the real reason they are there.
Culinary Conversation: Jell-O still a cool summer choice
Turning on the stove or oven in hot weather is not appealing. It’s summer, and lighter meals consisting of salads and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables are easy and healthy.
- More Columns Headlines
- Culinary Conversation: It’s a hole new recipe with this banana pudding cake