Equal Opportunity is Freedom Equal Results is Oppression
By Providence Crowder
Transcript from this evening’s speech for the 9/12 Project’s August meeting
My name is Providence Crowder, and I’m so honored to have been invited tonight to speak with you all on behalf of the Frederick Douglass Foundation of NY.
But before I get into the discussion for tonight, I want to tell you briefly about what the Frederick Douglass Foundation of NY is.
What is the Frederick Douglass Foundation of NY?
- The Frederick Douglass Foundation is a public policy and educational organization (it’s a national organization and I’m with the NY chapter). We bring the sanctity of free market and limited government ideas to bear on today’s hardest problems with the assistance of elected officials, scholars from universities and colleges and community activists.
- Our platform and tenants are to honor the legacy of the man, Frederick Douglass himself, and what he fought for.
- Abolitionist, educator, and former slave Frederick Douglass believed in life, liberty, individual responsibility and limited government. And, after reading the U.S. Constitution for himself, he had a profound respect for it. We promote these ideas mainly through education and activism in hopes of influencing public thought, which ideally translates into influencing public policy.
Disclaimer: I’m not an expert by any means, I’m not politically savvy, I am just a concerned citizen who cares about the direction our nation is headed in, and I believe in educating myself, and others, so that we can be the informed electorate that Thomas Jefferson spoke about when he said,
“Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.”
When we are informed, we notice when our nation is going off track. I’m no genius, but I’m informed enough to know that our current state of affairs is way off course.
My faith: I’m also a Christian so I speak from a biblical worldview and I believe that much of what ails us in our nation is more spiritual than anything else. The Bible teaches me:
“The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
So I pray and ask God for wisdom and guidance in all that I do and even tonight in speaking with you all that God guides my thoughts and speech.
My politics: I don’t believe in political saviors. I don’t believe that salvation politics work. I don’t believe there are perfect political parties because political parties are made up of imperfect and sinful people. And most of us, whether we believe in God, or don’t believe in God, live by principles and have moral standards and guidelines in which to inform our decision-making. And often times because of these guiding principles, concerning politics, we usually align more closely with one party over another or one person over another when it’s time to vote.
So I’ve been tasked with discussing with you all tonight a principle that I hold to be true, and that principle is: I have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results.
How many of you believe that? If you do, you are in good company.
- The founders of our nation believed that.
- Slavery abolitionists believed that.
- Many civil rights leaders believed that and preached that.
- The leaders and volunteers of the 9/12 Project believe that.
- I believe that.
I concur with you. As a member of the Frederick Douglass Foundation, I want to share with you a quote by the Frederick Douglass concerning this very topic:
Frederick Douglass once said this concerning the black American’s plight towards justice:
In regard to the colored people, there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us. What I ask for the Negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us… I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! … And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! … Your interference is doing him positive injury.
What he demanded from the white man concerning black Americans was equal opportunity, justice, fair treatment under the law. Not special treatment. Anything more or anything less he called “playing the mischief,” “doing positive injury.” He wasn’t asking for special treatment, or equal results, but just the opportunity for the Negro to stand on his own legs, and if he cannot stand, let him fall!
So today, I want to discuss with you three points.
- The first point I will demonstrate is that equal opportunity is freedom.
- The second point I will make is that equal results is oppression.
- Point three? I will share why in recent times I believe that our law has been perverted to favor equal results over equal opportunity.
The first point I want to make is this: Equal opportunity is freedom.
Anybody in here know who Governor Bobby Jindal is? For those who don’t, I don’t want to assume anything. He is the Governor of Louisiana currently running for President of the United States. I like when he said,
“We need an equal opportunity society, one in which government does not see it’s job as picking winners and losers. Where do you go if you want special favors? Government. Where do you go if you want special favors? Government. Where do you go if you want a tax break? Government. Where do you go if you want a tax break? Government. Where do you go if you want a handout? Government. This must stop.”
So how does the government promote equal rights and opportunity? What does that look and sound like? I want to read from you an excerpt from the 2000 Republican platform. All the years read similar, so I just grabs a few excerpts from this particular year:
The sole source of equal opportunity for all is equality before the law. Equality of individuals before the law has always been a cornerstone of our party. We therefore oppose discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion, creed, disability, or national origin . . .
We believe rights inhere in individuals, not in groups. We will attain our nation’s goal of equal opportunity without quotas or other forms of preferential treatment. It is as simple as this: No one should be denied a job, promotion, contract, or chance at higher education because of their race or gender. Equal access, energetically offered, should guarantee every person a fair shot based on their potential and merit. . .
We must always remember that, in a free society, different individual goals will yield different results.
- When all have the same rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, government is promoting equal opportunity.
- When individuals can pursue their dreams and goals unhindered by unfair laws that esteem some better than others, or gives preferential treatment to one group over another, then that government is promoting equal opportunity.
- When the government recognizes everyone’s God-given rights and its aim is to protect them, to seek justice on behalf of them, then those people are free.
- But with this freedom comes tremendous responsibility.
- With this freedom comes sacrifice.
- The remnant of freedom that we enjoy today was bought and paid for by the blood, sweat, tears, and prayers of those who have gone on yesterday.
- The U.S. Constitution is the ultimate safeguard of our God-given individual rights.
I want to end talking about equal opportunity with this thought from Heritage Foundation Julia Shaw, she said:
“When the Declaration of Independence proclaims all men to be created equal, it means that all human beings, regardless of religion, sex, or skin color, possess the same natural rights. The Founders were well aware that different people are unequal in physical and mental capacities. But however noticeable the differences between people may be, they are never so great as to deprive them of their rights. No one, no matter how intelligent or capable he or she may be, can claim the right to rule others. Since all men and women share a common human nature, they are all therefore equally entitled to the same natural rights (such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness).”
If equality of opportunity is freedom, what can be said about equal results?
Socialists claim: Wouldn’t it be fairer, more just, if the gap between the rich and the poor wasn’t so great? What about class warfare, crony capitalism, and all those things that make the rich richer and the poor poorer? Shouldn’t our government, made for the people and by the people, for the common good of all, have a moral obligation to help the least in society by engineering outcomes through income distribution? After all, some people have too much, while others don’t have enough. How can we call ourselves compassionate and free when we have people on American soil who are hungry and starving?
Well, this brings me to point number two. Equal outcomes in practice is oppression. Although in theory, this socialist rhetoric sounds noble and compassionate, equal outcomes in practice leads to oppression. Regardless of how much of an emotional response the rhetoric produces in the hearers, engineering outcomes by the government is costly and unjust.
Point number two: Equal Outcomes is Oppression.
Before I get into this point, I want to share with you all something else about myself. I am a Deputy Sheriff with our local Sheriff’s Office and I work inside the jail. Working in the jail, I see a lot of stuff. And as unpleasant as visiting the jail as an inmate is, there are some who find themselves in jail over and over again because they have not properly handled the responsibility that freedom bears, the freedom to make good and proper choices concerning their lives and lifestyle choices. They have not managed well the responsibility of self-governance, and the responsibility to respect the life, liberty, and property of others.
In jail, the inmates are provided free food, free healthcare, free housing, and free clothing. They have everything, free! In practice, the jail is the epitome of what equality of outcome looks like. Everyone has the same material wealth. There are no inequalities and no overabundance. The meal portions are the same, they get the same number of uniforms, they get the same size rooms and mattresses, and they receive the same medical coverage. Inmates have everything they need . . . everything . . . except their freedom.
Do you know the amount of governmental resources and control that goes into fixing outcomes to obtain equal results? For 2015, our jail alone is budgeted to cost tax payers just under 71 million dollars. That’s a huge expense!
To feed, house, cloth, supervise, care for, and protect the prisoners from each other while they are being housed away from society in general costs big and someone has to pay.
When people come to the jail, they come from different starting points.
- Some come from one parent households, some two.
- Some are educated, some dropped out of school.
- Some are smart, some not so bright. Some are alcoholics or drug addicts, and some have never touched a drug in their life.
- Some are perpetual abusers of the law and abusers of other people; some made one bad choice or had one bad night.
- Some are suicidal, some homicidal, some hostile, some timid.
Each person had varying starting points. But no matter what their starting point was before entering, every prisoner is reduced to, “You get two uniforms and a bedroll.” At meal time, everyone is given the same portions regardless to whether you are a 350 lb. man or a 90 lb. woman.
Now take away the bars, take away the prison walls, and think of a society where results were orchestrated by the government. Do you envision these people more free than the inmates in my scenario? Now my scenario is the extreme (more communistic than anything) but point is, creativity, goals, individuality, drive, capabilities, and ingenuity are suppressed and oppressed when the end goal of government is to distribute the material wealth of that society “more equitably” and according to its own self-serving priorities.
Now there is nothing wrong with social engineering by groups of people who voluntarily subject their wealth to equal or equitable distribution among other free citizens. They are doing what they please with their own money. That is freedom. We see many communities like that today. But very different is it when government’s social engineering forcefully plunders your wealth and property and applies it to priorities and goals that are not your own or that you may even be opposed to.
To a socialist, this equal distribution of resources is fair because, “When all men are equal in wealth and dignity — and when the laws leave no hope of disturbing this equality — how can men then be agitated by greed, ambition, dissipation, idleness, sloth, envy, hatred, or jealousy?”
Well, first problem with socialism is this: Like Margaret Thatcher famously said, “The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” With high taxes on the rich and redistribution policies constantly pushing more and more people in this nation out of jobs and onto the welfare rolls, the tax base, the government’s source for income, is shrinking and fast.
Second problem is this. Man has this funny thing in him that drives him to want to be free. Man has a propensity towards liberty. French economist and theorist Fredrick Bastiat explains it as such:
“Self-preservation and self-development are common aspirations among all people. And if everyone enjoyed the unrestricted use of his faculties and the free disposition of the fruits of his labor, social progress would be ceaseless, uninterrupted, and unfailing.”
The prisoners in my jail scenario always resent the guards. They resent the sameness, they long for freedom. They protest against “unfair treatment,” “poor healthcare,” “unpleasant meals,” “taming of religious expression,” and a host of other things the tightly controlled environment made to obtain equal outcomes brings. No matter how you enter the jail, whether you are creative, well-to-do, well dressed, well spoken, possess jewelry, money, status, education . . . equal results subjects everyone to “Two uniforms and a bedroll.” No more, no less.
Equal outcome requires a MASSIVE government effort to ensure that controls are in place to guide everyone to the same results, no matter the effort, drive, goals, habits, limitations, resources, ability or starting point of an individual. Equal outcome requires undo FORCE upon the citizens by the government, force that by law, the government is not authorized to extend.
Equality of outcome or equality of material wealth is not equality of dignity when we are oppressed by government and not free to live to our God-given potential.
This brings me to my third and final point.
Point number three: Our law has been perverted to favor equal outcome over equal opportunity.
Today, our law has been perverted, I believe, because we have a political dominant class who desires to maintain power through manipulation and deception. The same law that was meant to protect has become an invincible weapon of injustice. The government DOES pick winners and losers, the government DOES orchestrate outcomes, the government DOES deny rights to certain classes of people, and the government DOES plunder the property of people by force. So instead of protecting life, liberty and property it is destroying life, disregarding liberty through oppression, and plundering property. Our law has been perverted to prefer oppression over freedom.
How did we get here? I’m going to do a lot of quoting from French economist Bastiat because I really like how he explains it.
As Bastiat explains:
“Each of us has a natural right — from God — to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life.”
And he goes on to say this about the authority of government:
“If every person has the right to defend even by force — his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right — its reason for existing, its lawfulness — is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force — for the same reason — cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.”
Then he says:
“And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all.”
So when is a right a right? What is a right? If we can justly use FORCE upon another to protect it, it’s a right. We cannot claim commerce as a right, wages, healthcare services, housing loans, or anything that requires someone else to provide something to you that does not already belong to you. Those rights that are natural rights are Life, because life is a gift to us from God, liberty because we were all created with equal worth and dignity and because of this no man has the right to rule over another, and the pursuit of happiness because this drive is innate in every man. And if these natural rights are God-given, then no man can take them away without the use of force, plunder, oppression, or mischief.
And if we can lawfully protect, by force, our God-given rights, then collectively, we can delegate this same authority to our governing body. And because we cannot lawfully take, by force, another man’s God-given rights, then collectively, we cannot delegate this authority to our governing body.
However, when the government is misguided as to its purpose, it uses force to suppress and even deny the very rights it was meant to protect.
I am going to quote Bastiat this one last time because what he said here is so true about man’s other propensity, not towards liberty, but man’s fatal tendency:
“When they can, men wish to live and prosper at the expense of others. This is no rash accusation. Nor does it come from a gloomy and uncharitable spirit. The annals of history bear witness to the truth of it: the incessant wars, mass migrations, religious persecutions, universal slavery, dishonesty in commerce, and monopolies. This fatal desire has its origin in the very nature of man — in that primitive, universal, and insuppressible instinct that impels him to satisfy his desires with the least possible pain.
“Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.
“But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.
“Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain — and since labor is pain in itself — it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it.
“When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor.
“It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.
“But, generally, the law is made by one man or one class of men. And since law cannot operate without the sanction and support of a dominating force, this force must be entrusted to those who make the laws.
“This fact, combined with the fatal tendency that exists in the heart of man to satisfy his wants with the least possible effort, explains the almost universal perversion of the law. Thus it is easy to understand how law, instead of checking injustice, becomes the invincible weapon of injustice. It is easy to understand why the law is used by the legislator to destroy in varying degrees among the rest of the people, their personal independence by slavery, their liberty by oppression, and their property by plunder. This is done for the benefit of the person who makes the law, and in proportion to the power that he holds.”
The law has been perverted for the benefit of the few and the undoing of the many. So our government has become as much a tool of oppression as it is a force for freedom. This is the fight for the soul of our nation. This is the ideological divide that we see being waged in the political arena. Is government our master or servant?
So what then shall we do?
In closing I want to say this. We ALL, each and every one of us, must do our part to, as Dr. Ben Carson said during the Republican presidential debate, pick up the baton of freedom, and pass it along to the next generation. The thoughts, practices, and ideas that made this nation great must continue to be taught, talked about, and lived through those of us who still believe in a free America.
Ronald Reagan famously said: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
We have a duty, as a citizen, to ensure, just as those who preceded us, that our children, and our children’s children, have hope for a better America tomorrow than it is today.
Why I’m involved with the Frederick Douglass Foundation and other organizations is because education, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has said, “Teaches one to think intensively and critically.” We need to challenge the status quo, challenge modern schools of thought, and challenge the leftist ideology that is dominant in our society today.
I do this not only for myself, because I’ve lived a little while. I choose to do this for my children, Keith and Hannah. I do it for dozens of young men and women in minority communities who are stuck in public schools where they are indoctrinated to hate what America is, and what she stands for. I do it for the young men and women being indoctrinated in leftist colleges and universities who have a zeal for justice and wrongly side with the political perversionists. Our young men and women are continually being indoctrinated to bolster our country’s demons, as if we’ve made no progress, and abhor what has made our nation great. They hate the very country that allows them to express their dissents so freely. I do it for you, and for me, so that we don’t have to look at our children, and our grandchildren, and tell them what it was like when America was free.
And I challenge all of you tonight, if you are not already involved and active, to think about all that was said, and get involved. Teach one, reach one. I don’t know if you know this, but one man can change the world. The Bible says,” For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” I say that only to say, your voice matters, your voice is important. Your actions matter, your actions are important and as one leader has said, “Education is the most powerful weapon in which you can change the world.”
God bless, and have a good night. Any questions?