William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

WMBriggs.com Podcast 13 April 2016 — Equality!

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As the eminent (now deceased) mathematician Danny Stiles proved, if everybody listening were to convince just one friend to listen next week, the audience would double. Do your duty.

To arms, citizens,
Form your battalions,
Let’s march, let’s march!
Let an impure blood
Soak our fields!

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité ou la mort! The order of this slogan was then debated, as now, but we have decided Equality! should be first—and alone. Let’s start with the best authority: Matthew first (ahem), then Paul, then Luke.

It will be as when a man who was going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability.

Not for nothing is this called the parable of the talents. (I swear, if somebody doesn’t laugh at this I will say something nice about PETA.)

To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues.

And some of us are bloggers, which is on the scale of spiritual importance is right up there with cigar salesmen and floor wax manufacturers. As bad as There is no creature loves me; And if I die, no soul will pity me? Well, perhaps not.

Jefferson was wrong. He got away with it because his audience had other things on its mind. He gets away with it now because Equality has paradoxically become axiomatic and humanity’s goal. Yet inequality is built right into the system. There can’t be anything as obvious to us as inequality. After all, you’re able to tell apart your mother from your father, and them from the neighbors across the street, and so on. You even know the difference between males and females, even when some insist on entering the wrong toilet. Differences are the natural state. This being so, it pays to understand inequality and to comprehend why inequality is necessary but hated.

Ineradicable differences cause jealously, and if this emotion is indulged in, the impossible is desired and demanded, which is the State of Equality. No such state can ever exist. And it is insane to pursue what cannot exist.

Maybe the difficulty is in the definition?

They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need.

There are true senses of equality. Equality of purpose. This was a group of priests, living together, as priests in dioceses still do today. One kitchen with pots and pans used by all, and, as importantly, washed by all. Community of property, which is to say, communism, is, or can be, the ideal solution to singular problems. But not most. Expand the group, even a little, and inequality sets in (and so do bishops). Not all of us can be farmers and manufacturers and priests and physicians and auto mechanics and you name it. Communism works only when the group is singular in purpose and quite, quite small. Most communes fail. And even when small communistic groups exist they rely on inequality-groups (us, dear listener) to supply them with certain needs, parishioners if nothing else.

There are other true senses of equality. We will all die, we all share in human nature. We all have free will—curiously, somebody will now be saying “I don’t!”—and we must choose our ultimate destiny. We all have inherent dignity in being human. We all must eat, and we all need company. But…that’s about it.

Equality under the law? None of us really believe in that, or should. All human beings are human beings, but we treat juveniles and idiots differently than adults, recognizing the manifest inequality. Infants and the ancient do not, and are not expected to, participate in society equally. The test of equality in treatment or some act is whether it is said the ends justify the means—which they don’t. Immoral means cannot be used as a path to some desirable, in itself moral, end. Paradoxically, victim groups, usually centered around mental illness of some kind, want their behaviors treated as if they were equivalent to normal behavior. This obvious inequality is called “equality.”

President Obama yesterday spoke at the new Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument. Let’s hear some of that speech.

Equal pay for equal work? We are not interchangeable machines, so that equal pay for any two people should not be expected unless the job is very narrowly defined, even itself machine-like. In order to prove that a woman is paid less than a man, statistics are of no use, and are harmful. You have to ask the paymaster, “Did you pay this woman less than you would a man because she’s a woman?” And you have to hope he tells the truth. Otherwise, the solid evidence women work less than men for biological reasons trumps sentiment. Why pay a female soccer player as much as a man when fewer people are interested in watching her and she is not as physically capable as the man? Because she is a woman?

Money is one thing, but it’s that latter sentiment about genuine natural inequality Equality abhors. This is why people marched for marriage “equality”. To get it, they had to destroy the meaning of the word itself. The Reality of inequality was hated, and so Reality was chucked.

Yet, as everyone knows, or ought to, inequality is necessary for life, inequality is true diversity. Without inequality, nothing happens.

So why Equality? Montesquieu said “there are certain ideas of uniformity which sometimes take hold of great minds, but infallibly strike small ones.” An insult, but abuse is not necessarily untrue. Even such a personage in favor of experimentation and lover of Equality as JS Mill said:

The demand that all other people shall resemble ourselves grows by what it feeds on. If real resistance waits till life is reduced nearly to one uniform type, all deviations from that type will come to be considered impious, immoral, even monstrous and contrary to nature. Mankind speedily become unable to conceive diversity, when they have been for some time unaccustomed to see it.

Now everybody knows that diversity today means strict, unbending, enforced uniformity. It means sameness. It means mandatory (whether set by law or custom) quotas designed to make every subgroup “look like” the group as a whole. Diversity is dogmatic rigidity. Diversity is uniformity; it is Equality.

The government says so. On that subject, nobody better than Tim Hawkins: The Government Can.

Who calls for Equality? It is not the talented, or men or genius, or even the humble family man content to cling to his gun and religion. Base leaders call on it to rally troops, hoping the mobs they unleash will be controlable. De Tocqueville:

Equality is a slogan based on envy. It signifies in the heart of every republican: “Nobody is going to occupy a place higher than I.”

James Fitzjames Stephen agrees: Equality “is in a vast number of cases, nothing more than a vague expression of envy on the part of those who have not against those who have, and a vague aspiration towards a state of society in which there should be fewer contrasts than there are at present between one man’s lot and another’s.”

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, in his masterpiece Liberty or Equality: The Challenge of Our Time, and the source from which I filched some quotations above, said:

No wonder that the modern dictatorships with their “equality in slavery” are so strongly based on the egalitarian system and on mass support, not on elites or existing aristocracies (save those coming into existence through the new bureaucracies).

Equality is, by definition, a leveling force. President Obama admitted it. “A level playing field,” he said. The only way to level Reality is with a bulldozer and dynamite. Equality is destructive. Again, JFS:

To establish by law rights and duties which assume that people are equal when they are not is like trying to make clumsy feet look handsome by the help of tight boots. No doubt it may be necessary to legislate in such a manner as to correct the vices of society or to protect it against special dangers or diseases to which it is liable. Law in this case is analogous to surgery, and the rights and duties imposed by it might be compared to the irons which are sometimes contrived for the purpose of supporting a weak limb or keeping it in some particular position…

The proposition, therefore, that justice demands that people should live in society as equals may be translated thus: ‘It is inexpedient that any law should recognize any inequality between human beings.’

Another used-to-be obvious inequality was that between adults and children.

If children were regarded by law as the equals of adults, the result would be something infinitely worse than barbarism. It would involve a degree of cruelty to the young which can hardly be realized even in imagination. The proceeding, in short, would be so utterly monstrous and irrational that I suppose it never entered into the head of the wildest zealot for equality to propose it.

Alas, poor Stephen had no idea that we would all become wild zealots in the pursuit of that which cannot be reached.

We never got to the poem!

Equality’s a Mystery Sin: for us, there’s no Guffaw–
For it’s the master leveler, defying Natural Law.
It’s the bafflement of all mankind, the Church’s main despair:
For when wey reach the scene of truth–Equality’s not there!

Equality, Equality, there’s nothing like Equality
It’s broken every holy law, it cocks up sexuality.
Its powers of delusion would make a demon stare,
And when you reach Reality–Equality’s not there!
You may seek it in the basement, you may look up in the air–
But I tell you once and once again, Equality’s not there!

20 Comments

  1. About equality –

    ‘As long as the gap [between rich & poor] is smaller, they’d [socialists] would rather have the poor poorer.’
    – Margaret Thatcher, on bemoaning an idiocy of socialism; see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5w15kDYI8s8

    She was correct — and the sentiment she expressed (and which was also articulated by her male opponent — the ‘relative gap between rich & poor’ in that snippet) seems to be ingrained in human nature itself.

    It’s not about the absolute improvement in the lowest levels of society improving, its about the relative gap between the upper & lower levels. That really is an issue.

    Numerous studies have reached the same findings: The smaller the gap between a person’s state in life and others above them (more prosperous) in the community, the happier they are (by any variety of measures). This includes studies on unhappiness measured in suicide rates — suicides increase in proportion to prosperity gaps within a population much more so than in proportion to absolute measures of changes in poverty. Increase the prosperity & well-being of the poorest, but increase the prosperity of those more fortunate even more, and those poorest report increased unhappiness levels, and suicide rates are observed to increase. (I’ll leave it to the astute readers here to research & verify that for themselves…)

    There’s an old Russian folk tale that captures this aspect of human nature; a peasant finds a genie in a bottle (or similar) and gets one wish, so he asks for another milk cow & gets it. Now he’s significantly enhanced his wealth position relative to his peasant neighbors. Another neighbor happens to find the genie & likewise gets one wish, and wishes that the new cow his neighbor got dies.

    How those peasants took advantage of their luck with the genie is almost certainly not how most readers of this blog could imagine what they’d do in the same situation… but the Russian folklore tale accurately portrays human nature — which is driven, in most people, by illogical emotion.

    Until the political Right re-engage on this embedded facet of human nature, the political Left will continue to exploit this — and will continue to compound their ongoing success in this regard.

    On a related theme, studies of the U.S. Great Depression revealed a number of factors that contributed to its occurrence, and to its severity (e.g. mismanagement by the Federal Reserve, confluence of business cycles, etc.). One factor that was observed was that when about 30% of an economy’s wealth & associated control over the assets involved was concentrated in the top 5% or so of businesses/owners/managers, normal business cycle dynamics tended to cease for the worst. Bernie Sanders of late has effectively been harping on this same theme — way too much wealth & economic control concentrated among a few business & political elites. Insofar as he goes with this, he’s got a very valid point…however things now aren’t as bad as he’d make them out to be: In the 1920s when a business or business owner “controlled” some significant wealth (say a railroad system, etc.) they genuinely owned and controlled it. Today, the “common folk” [almost everyone] has ownership interest in mutual funds, etc. and while the wealth & control may appear concentrated in senior managers, Wall St. interests, etc., it isn’t anywhere nearly so concentrated as nearly 100 years ago, when only a small wealthy minority owned financial investment instruments. The situation is much more complex than can be addressed here (or even a few PhD dissertations) … but a cursory historical review of concentrated wealth & power [the sort of review the youth & other supporters of B. Sanders’ do] leads them to genuinely believe the likes of Sander’s warnings as being as dire as he portrays them, and then endorse his remedies — which, couched in terms of looming economic Armageddon, are in reality another form of appeals to equality. Sanders’ appeals on this particular theme appear very compelling because, in broad general principle, he’s right. As the saying goes, ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’ (incomplete knowledge facilitates one to being manipulated … typically starting with the person who thinks they know & understand more than they really do).

  2. It is easier to live with unequality and live a full and happy life if one feels that the system isn’t rigged. See: Panama Papers; endless examples of government and corporate corruption that goes by unnoticed and without correction; your latest tax filing with the IRS. When the scales are notoriously tipped, it is easy to cry for more “equality” without thinking through what that means exactly.

  3. For a guy who studies Aquinas and is a stats expert, it’s amazing how such a simple concept as equality completely eludes you.

    JMJ

  4. JMJ: “a simple concept as equality completely eludes you” Thank you for confirming progressives are simple minded.

  5. JMJ, instead of merely insulting Briggs, can you provide an elaboration of your viewpoint on the “simple concept” of equality? As it stands, your post isn’t worth the time you spent to make it.

  6. As Helmut Shoeck pointed out in his book “Envy”, egalitarianism is a manifestation of envy, it is vice masquerading as virtue.

    http://www.amazon.com/ENVY-A-Theory-Social-Behaviour/dp/0865970645

  7. Hahahahahah!!! Please, nothing nice about PETA (people eating tasty animals?)!

    BTW, have you noticed how convenient the timing is on the cry for Equality from the Fem-bot crowd? Can you imagine some twit raising her hand 1,000 years ago and saying “Oooh Oooh, please, Mr. slavedriver, can I please be a galley slave? Please? I really want to row!’ Or ‘Oooh, please, I want to be a gladiator too, please oh please! I have some wonderful new shoes that would match that cuirass!’ Or even 50 years ago, “Oh can I please be a coal miner too? I really want black lung disease, or to experience a cave-in or a methane gas explosion!!! You mean men get all the fun’! Well, timing is everything, no?

  8. I’ve always said that Equality will be with us when women agitate to be ditch diggers.

  9. Please notice the inequality among thieves; particularly between those having power over those who do not. I also notice exceptional comments heretofore that do not need repeating.

  10. Briggs, I don’t think that it is the first eighteen minutes. There are internal skips.

  11. Briggs

    April 13, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Scotian,

    Well I’ll be dogged. I have no idea how it happened. Bizarre cuts!

    Only thing I can guess is that the stream itself cut out intermittently. I had no indication of it on this end.

    My “system”, such as it is, isn’t especially grand.

  12. Your efforts might not be grand but they are priceless!
    Mac

  13. Regarding the poem at the end of your talk, I immediately recognized it as the first two stanzas of “Macavity – The Mystery Cat” — but with many changes in wording to suit the current subject, Equality — from T.S. Eliot’s Old Possom’s Book of Practical Cats, a collection of poems he wrote for children, published in 1939, and which was the basis of Andrew LLoyd Webber’s famous, record-breaking play Cats:

    Macavity’s a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw–
    For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law.
    He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad’s despair:
    For when they reach the scene of crime–Macavity’s not there!

    Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
    He’s broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
    His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
    And when you reach the scene of crime–Macavity’s not there!
    You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air–
    But I tell you once and once again, Macavity’s not there!

  14. John Watkins: Good point! In Wyoming, before Obama continued his march on destroying the economy, women could get paid as much as men. They just had to work shift work, get filthy dirty, work in freezing and hot conditions, wind, etc. A few did. The rest just tried to say that something else was “equivalent” work, something that did not require all of the above.

  15. Right now the news is promoting the lie of gender inequality in Wyoming. Women CAN make as much as men, they just have to get dirty and work crappy shifts. They want paid for not doing what men do. That’s NOT equality. It’s a lie.

  16. Sheri,
    I was wondering why all those women demanding equality weren’t down at the Army recruiting office applying for all those ground combat positions, like infantry and artillery, that are now open to them. They don’t want the dirty hard work.

  17. Briggs

    April 13, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    All,

    Everything has been restored! Give a listen to the real thing.

  18. Dr Briggs: Good job. I know editing a podcast can be a frustrating thing, but you seem to be catching on. The only caution I have is that the final piece of music is a bit louder then is needed, especially since it almost covers up your voice.

    Keep it up.

  19. The only kind of equality I care for is equality under God and before the Law. No where else do I expect equality.

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