Since before America’s Declaration of Independence there has been a tension in governance between Creator-endowed liberty and the equality in which men were created, but especially after our American and the French, self-government-Revolutions. Before the throwing off of rule by royalty and aristocrats, unequal status in class, upward mobility and even with respect to law, was generally taken for granted.
In America today, the tension between liberty and equality has evolved politically with liberal Democrats rhetorically more concerned with the latter, mostly as related to income and wealth; and conservative Republicans more with the former, mostly as related to freedom from government restrictions in economic pursuits of happiness. But the GOP, created primarily to abolish slavery and author of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, has always been and remains committed to equality before the law.
Having been thwarted by the Democratic Party in attempts to end Jim Crow laws in the South with proposed civil rights bills until LBJ finally dragged enough of his party into the aye column with a larger majority of Republicans to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it appeared that the equality before the law envisioned by our founding documents had mostly been achieved. But then Democrats, including those in black robes sworn to merely apply the law as given, switched constituencies to favor race-, gender- and sexual orientation-based-laws and policies making some people “more equal” than others.
Such governance based upon cronyism, special interests, victim-hood status, and arbitrary (pre-evolution-King-like) rule by “experts” or an overreaching Chief Executive, reached a post-slavery-apogee under President Barack Obama. So that today, Democrats supposedly concerned with “equality” of income status and having enacted policies they claimed would achieve that goal, find themselves presiding over a massive shift in income inequality (see chart above and click here for larger view) primarily caused by policies that restrict the liberty of citizens to freely engage in market capitalism.
But even more significant than the relative income inequality that Obama Democrat policies have wrought, has been the more equally poor the bottom 40-60% of Americans have become under their regime. Inequality matters most when more of the unequal are poorer.
It is true that one of the keys to American progress and exceptionalism in wealth creation especially for a vast middle class, was that they were more equal in income than Europeans they had left and of course the rest of the world, since the Colonial period through today. Slavery, of course, upset that balance in a significant way, especially morally; but relative to the rest of the world, much of which also still had (or even still has) slavery or class-based restrictions of upward mobility, not so much.
Alex de Tocqueville remarked upon such equality in his seminal early 19th century Democracy in America, but also was impressed with how most Americans treated each other as equals socially regardless of vast differences in wealth. Relative income and wealth inequality doesn’t matter much when the standard of living of the bottom 40-60% is high and the reasons for most of the inequality is merit-based or due to inheritance.
America, in other words, was not based upon envy. By contrast, the modern-day liberal Democratic Party is based primarily upon that deadly sin.
Their policies to redistribute income or “spread the wealth” end up destroying, and preventing the initial creation of, the wealth necessary to make a discussion of inequality relevant. Most of human history has been one of struggle a to survive by most, rather than one of plenty that provides idle meddlers a source of bounty to confiscate and conduct morality and power-execution experiments with. Democrats’ economic ignorance blinds them to what caused Americans to take the risks necessary to accumulate wealth in the first place, i.e. private property rights protected by the rule of law and government that plays the role of umpire that doesn’t tax and regulate them into inaction.
Since at least the late 1970s, the Democratic Party has restricted the extraction of the cheap energy that made middle class life possible which has only escalated with Obama’s war on coal. They have trapped millions in welfare dependency and their Obamacare and other business regulations operate to lock in the market share of large corporations while preventing small companies from competing in the marketplace.
The fact is that the Democratic Party line that liberty must be sacrificed for equality is one of their many Big Lies. Greater economic freedom produces more wealth and opportunity for more people, leading to greater relative equality of circumstance, less people in poverty and more resources with which to take care of the poor, infirm and aged.
This holiday season, and for the last several under Obama, the most obvious results of their failed policies has been the failure of most retail companies to actually ensure receipts enough for profits by Christmas, much less on the Black Friday after Thanksgiving Day. Four million less Americans are working today than before the 2008 Housing Bust and less are employed than when President Obama was inaugurated the next year.
Hence the desperation of businesses on this Christmas Eve:
“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson