You will often hear a distinction drawn between two different kinds of equality: equality of “opportunity” and equality of “outcome.” The people who draw this distinction often say that they believe in the former but not the latter. Equality of “opportunity” is desirable, but equality of “outcome” is not. As they frame it, one of these is fairly basic while the other is radical and frightening. If we were to try to ensure equal “outcomes” we would have to create a colossal social transformation.
Cecilia Mo thought she knew all about growing up poor when she began teaching at Thomas Jefferson senior high school in south Los Angeles. As a child, she remembered standing in line, holding a free lunch ticket. But it turned out that Mo could still be shocked by poverty and violence – especially after a 13-year-old student called her in obvious panic. He had just seen his cousin get shot in his front yard.
The American commitment to equality of opportunity, economic liberty, and upward mobility is not tried in days of prosperity. It is tested when times are tough—when fear and envy are used to divide Americans and further the interests of politicians and their cronies. In this major address at The Heritage Foundation, Congressman Paul Ryan dissects the real class warfare—a class of governing elites, exploiting the politics of division to pick winners and losers in our economy and determine our destinies for us—and outlines a principled, pro-growth alternative to this path of debt, doubt and decline.
Economic justice is giving to each exactly what they deserve.
The 99 Percent Plan is a joint Roosevelt Institute-Salon series that explores how progressives can shape a new vision for the economy.