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Bernard White


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Equality versus Meritocracy. Which Wins?

I have been having this debate in my Head for quite a while now, and I can't decide. Which is more important? Both are in conflict to a certain extent on various issues, like "Education" for example.
It could help to watch this TED talk :
- Jonathan Haidt: The moral roots of liberals and conservatives.
I ask this because many politicians talk about "Fairness" they usually mean many different things. Roughly speaking when Liberals talk about "Fairness" they typically mean "Equality". While when Conservatives talk about "Fairness" they typically mean "Meritocracy".
So which one is more important to you? (Or in other words, What do you mean when you say "Fairness"?)


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    Aug 15 2013: Bernie,
    I have been thinking about this for a few days... I am not sure I agree with your definitions. Liberals, Conservatives, Equality, Fairness and Meritocracy....this is how I see it.... and there are no winners

    Liberals are those who glean great personal affirmation from the distribution of other peoples money to those who may or may not need it.
    Conservatives are still not sure that the use of the electric light bulb is a good thing and clamor for the good old days, when no matter how drunk you were, your horse got you home.
    Fairness is a term used by people when they've skinned some sucker and tell them that they lost fair and square.
    Equality is not reality. Otherwise, I would look like George Clooney and have the income of Warren Buffet.
    Meritocracy is a form of governance where the capable make the rules. It sounds good but power corrupts. Maybe, some giant computer programmed to govern objectively... just as soon as we can create a computer that will write the programming

    Hey, I am a curmudgeon and a cynic too!
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      Aug 28 2013: Sorry. I haven't been very active on TED recently. I hop you can forgive me for my late reply!
      Out of interest, who would write the programming? The powerful? Or would (moral) philosopher do it? Who would be worthy to write such a code? (Could this lead to quite a elitist system?)
      You also have to consider security! The computer could be hacked, and that would be disaster.
      I personally view fairness as what people deserve, while many view fairness as a form of equality. Just a matter of definitions really.
      Kind regards,
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        Aug 28 2013: You make good points, but you're not a curmudgeon.
        Plato made a case for meritocracy 2500 years ago and to think about it, it makes a lot of sense...
        but, there are people involved. The authors of the American constitution created a system of checks and balances into our republic governance. They really didn't trust "people" either.
        They back up these checks and balances with a 10 point bill of rights giving powers to the people including the arming them. Over the years, our national government has picked away at the constitution to centralize power in the capital and if we follow this trend to it's obvious conclusion, this country could be come a meritocracy. There are academics who have already said they are ready and able to lead us (The USA) to a better place. There are other countries/cultures out there that have also considered that opportunity.
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          Aug 31 2013: I think this sums up my (and incidentally your) position :
          "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary" - James Madison

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