Bar Tender/ Night Porter/ Aspiring Writer/ Part time philosopher,

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Is equality killing competition?

Society strives towards making all it's citizens equal so that no one person is encouraged to be better than the other thus leading to a stagnation of ideas, skills, leaders

Do we use equality as an excuse to hold some people back? Is it really bad to admit that some people are just better than others and so should be given the right opportunity to grow or should we hold them back in the name of equality?

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    Apr 6 2011: I read a Kurt Vonegut story many years ago that was about a televised ballet in a fictional society where the dancers were weighed down so that they would be equal. Suddenly certain members of the troup dropped the weights and danced as never before jumping and swooping beyond human imagination until they were subdued again.

    The people who are 'weighted' down are not the poor middle class guys most people are worrying about right now but the people who have been disadvantaged for all of human history -The minorities and the poor children. I am not sure whether you are advocating lack of equality under the law, lack of equality by gender, lack of equality of treatment but it seems to me that things are hardly equal in our societies as yet.

    Poor but brilliant kids(a miracle in itself if you consider inequality in nutrition) do not have parents to get them into Universities just because their parents went there. If they get in they do not get to do the preferred internships because they have to work every summer just to keep going to school.
    Women still earn less in most jobs than men do- and in the case of a woman who worked for Dupont who took the company to court for doing so for 14 years- the Supreme court of the United States of America ruled that she could not collect back wages owed because she did not file within 18 months of the original discrimination- when it was hidden from her for years.

    Too much Equality is hardly the problem with our societies. When we learn to recognize all kids with their unique gifts and all people are treated with the same respect and opportunities then we can start to worry about that.
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    Apr 9 2011: I don't see equality as the terminator of competition. On the contrary, I think equality would inspire much healthier competition because everyone would feel compelled to put their minds and creativity to the test. When it comes to holding people back though, I find that quite stupid and to an extent, impossible. If someone starts creating something very good which you perceive as a form of competition or something, what are you going to do? Stop him/her on the spot? Such a system would stop anyone from feeling competitive and eventually, people would revolt. This is not equality. This is suppression and a darker variant of communism. I don't really see where you get this perception of equality or its tendency of annihilating competition David, especially considering that humans are very competitive, which is why it has been so easy to manipulate them over and over again throughout the years. No matter what system you design, competition will blend in somehow in my opinion.

    When we talk about equality, we're striving for equality in society, not in every aspect of life.
  • Apr 7 2011: I think equality and the standardisation of people are two extremely different ideas and i also believe the first one - equality - does not have consequences for the second idea. No one will ever be able to make us alike in any domain. We are all different, fortunately (as a Romanian advertisement says), and this will never change. We could be equal in rights (even though I'm sure this won't happen either), equal before the law (funny, I know), equal as human beings, but every single brain will always function in a different way than all the others.

    On the other hand, our world doesn't need 7 billion mediocre people. This would be completely useless and if this kind of world existed, it would never know evolution. We might have been monkeys a long time ago, but we're here and that means those monkeys wanted something more. That something must be us, we shouldn't waste our personal energy by being less that we can be:)
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    Apr 7 2011: Arguably, for competition to be rendered most useful and productive, a state of Equality must already exist.

    "Holding people back" is not about equality because for equality to be in effect, people must have the freedom to fulfill their potential (like everybody else).

    It is a desire for "Sameness", not "Equality" that stifles competition.
  • Apr 9 2011: Equality of opportunity is different from equality. I support the former concept, but the latter will never happen. As has been pointed out already, humans are naturally competitive; they will never finish up equal. But the problem is that for generations all modern western societies have striven for equality of opportunity in many areas such as education and healthcare, but you only have to spend a few minutes on TED Conversations to realize that there is immense dissatisfaction with our education systems, and healthcare isn't far behind. We seem to have a societal tendency to migrate toward a lowest common denominator in these areas rather than reach for the highest level of quality.
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    Apr 7 2011: Equality does kill competiton,
    However it logically doesn't follow that equality kills ideas or skills or that competition would produce better ideas or skills.
  • Apr 7 2011: I believe that everyone is born with creative talents. The heart of the problem is that those talents have not been developed for one reason or another. Therein lies the real problem which needs to be solved. Parenting and education may be good places to start.
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    Apr 7 2011: I recently read "Justice : What is the right thing to do?" which deals with this question. I strongly believe the world and the nature are NOT equal at all. As we know, there are gifted people; Steve Jobs, Tiger Woods, Nobel Prize winners, and so on, on the other hand, the disabled, persons from poor family or poor countries. (and personally, I want to add one more thing; a language barrier in this globalized world)

    These are absolutely NOT equal. The point is how we can deal with this situation. My answer is not to hold the outstanding people but to make them acknowledge their rewards not merely from their own ability but from the society where they belong to.

    Then our society can approach equality a little more by asking the gift people help the less not by holding them.
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      Apr 7 2011: It is a given that we are all unique. All people have differing abilities. I think, though, that the basis of all civilization should be that the individual life of each person is of equal value under the law.Children should be educated according to their intellect and skills that is simply meeting individual needs but when one bright child is well educated and another goes utterly without because of their parent's station in life- I think it is a massive waste of human potential that our world cannot afford.
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        Apr 11 2011: Before starting my comments, I want to say 'What is equality?' In my opinion, the word; equality implies identical or thought that we should be same. So I think it is better to use 'fairness' rather than equality. The word 'equality' can mislead people to think we should be equal, sometimes even by holding the gifted people back, in this unequal world.

        As Debra commented correctly, we are all unique, different and not equal. So the point is we should focus on how we treat or help 'fairly' these unique people to reach their potential not arguing that we should be equal.
  • Apr 6 2011: Should a gifted child be forced to learn at the average pace of his/her class? Should a great athelete be forced to carry extra chains so that the field is equal?

    Of course not, but many of our governmental policies do exactly that. This is why the free-market is the best and most appropriate way to allocate resources.
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      Apr 7 2011: Free-market implies Equality already exist everywhere for everyone and may the best man win..I don't believe this is the case.