TED Conversations

Noah Crossfield

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

Is equality what we strive for in a democratic society?

Our society today often strives to reach equality in all aspects of the legal system. Equal is defined as "having the same status, rights, or opportunities" or "evenly or fairly balanced." One of the biggest parts of equality is in civil rights.

On two very controversial issues, I have noticed that different groups are treated differently, but the effect has been rather beneficial. The groups are not treated equally in the sense that they are treated the same, yet a large portion of people have accepted that.

The two issues are on the draft and also minority scholarships. On the issue of the draft, I have seen no push on either side for required female enrollment. Females have been enlisted for a long time and have proven that they are equally capable of serving in armed services. Is the fact that only males are required to sign up for the draft a remnant of an old way of thinking? Is having only males sign up for the draft a good thing? Is this equality? If it is not equality, is that even a bad thing?

The second issue is minority scholarships. Minority scholarships grant money to different people based on achievement, plans, and also race. I see these scholarships as great things which provide opportunities, but it still raises the question "is it equal?" These scholarships still are based on race. Is this equality? If not, are minority scholarships still necessary at this point in time? Will they be removed in the future?

These are both very sensitive issues, and I am trying to as respectful as possible. It just seems that these are two instances where groups are not treated the same. I do not think that they are necessarily bad, but I do not seem them as equal. Will these issues change in the future in order to treat everyone the same, or are these methods the best way to handle the situation?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Aug 1 2012: From an economics perspective, surely equality cannot be an aspired to (or even achievable) product as it is in direct conflict with the dominant economic system. The capitalist system is predicated upon the generation of profit and thus requires the relationship of the exploiter and the exploited. Without such an unequal relationship, the capitalist system - entrenched in the democratic system - would stutter and eventually collapse.
    • thumb
      Aug 2 2012: If there is no way in capitalism to have any decent level of equal opportunity, or any system to ensure that someone working full time at the minimum wage can support a family above the poverty line... What is the moral justification for the inherent inequality. What makes the wealthiest 10% having two thirds of the wealth morally right?

      I think we need to think really hard about the balance between equality and liberty. We can't have 100% of both in capitalism, but we do value both. Some value one more than the other and vice verse. That's where our political divide comes from.

      Coming to a consensus on this issue is our greatest divide, and it is based fundamentally on morality. In a democracy, one side does not get to decide the issue for everyone. We are going to have to come to a compromise eventually.
      • Aug 2 2012: It depends whether you want a decent level or a true level of equality. The relationship between the have's and the have not's. Its hard to envisage democracy leading to compromises in the democratic system. Democracy depends upon capitalism for its survival.
        • thumb
          Aug 2 2012: Capitalism is an economic model, not a political model. You can have capitalism with a more socialist twist like those that are doing very well right now in Scandinavia which are democracies. The problem as I see it is that we have allowed the power of our representative government to be subverted by the special interests of all stripes through monetary influence. We the people are no longer represented with any fidelity. I stand by my question: What is the moral justification for poverty and hunger in a capitalist democracy? "Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." - Thomas Jefferson
    • thumb
      Aug 2 2012: You can still strive for equality of opertunity. If you choose to make the most of your opertunity and you become wealthy then all well and good, if you decide to settle for just getting by that's fine too. I don't think eqality of result is achievable or even preferable (there must be reward for effort) but equality of opertunity is the ideal.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.