This is a story about two nations with two very different ideas about equality. One nation is named Opportunity, and the other is called Outcome.
When they run a 100-yard dash in Opportunity, everyone starts at the same time and place and runs the same distance – they call that equality in the land of Opportunity. No two people finish exactly the same because some people run faster than others; that’s how God made them.
When they run the 100-yard dash in Outcome, however, everyone finishes exactly the same. The only way to do this is to make the rules unequal, to let some people run a shorter distance and add burdens onto others to slow them down. Each runs according to his ability and starts according to his need – that’s what they call equality in the land of Outcome.
In Opportunity, the winner of each 100-yard dash gets $100. Everyone else gets a dollar for each yard they have completed when the race is won. Some get $99, some get $80, and some only get $50. The slower runners who want to earn more train harder, run faster, and earn more. The faster runners who don’t want to lose income also train harder, run faster, and earn more. So in the land of Opportunity, everyone runs faster and faster, earning more and more.
Some of the slowest runners in Opportunity decide they can’t make very much money running, but think they could win the $200 singing contest. And some of the bad singers see that they can make a lot more money running than singing. So people find the work that is best suited for them, train hard, and compete against each other for rewards. Before long, Opportunity is a nation of very fast runners and exquisite singers and they are all earning more and more for their efforts.
In Outcome, however, everyone gets a sticker and a hug for trying, and keeping track of time is discouraged as it is believed to damage self-esteem. The fast runners see that they don’t earn any more for all that hard work they put into to training, so they stop working so hard. The slow runners don’t want to run faster because then they would be forced to run longer or start later. In Outcome, everyone runs slower and slower.
The people of Outcome think it isn’t fair that the singers make more than the runners, so everyone gets the same income whether they sing or run, and whether they do either one well or poorly. Nobody in Outcome trains to get better at anything, and no one bothers to learn a new skill. Outcome quickly becomes a nation of slow runners and bad singers; they believe they are entitled to run or entitled to sing, no matter how badly they do it.
Meanwhile back in Opportunity, the fast races and beautiful singing make the contests very popular; people are willing to pay more to watch excellence, so the rewards paid to runners and singers increase. The runners and singers of Opportunity get rich, and everyone else works hard to afford the expensive tickets; there is abundance from all that hard work that everyone does in Opportunity.
In Outcome, however, no one is willing to pay their own money to watch slow running and bad singing. The only way for runners and singers to earn more money is to demand it from the government. The government in Outcome taxes everyone else to give money to the people who now feel entitled to high pay and lavish benefits for running slowly and singing poorly. Anyone who questions those high taxes is called greedy.
The fastest runners and best singers in Outcome begin to leave; they come to Opportunity where they are free to run or sing or do anything else they please. In Opportunity, they make more money and they keep more of what they make - no one covets the earnings of another. They are happy; that is the gift of liberty.
The leaders of Outcome assure their people that everything is fine; to prove it, they have their central banker print a bunch of fiat money so it looks to their grumbling singers and runners as if they are making more money, too. The whole world rejects Outcome’s paper money as reserve currency and starts to buy gold instead.
The people of Outcome are angry that they are slow runners and bad singers with worthless currency. Their leaders blame Opportunity for all of their problems.
And then one day, there is an international competition; the slow runners and bad singers of Outcome must race the swift runners and face the glorious singers of Opportunity. Opportunity demolishes Outcome and wins all the prize money. It is clear to everyone in the world that the quality of Opportunity beats the quality of Outcome.
Everyone, that is, except the dull and unthinking people of Outcome. They were brainwashed in their government schools to believe Outcome is better than Opportunity, so they assume that Opportunity must have cheated in order to have won so much prize money. Some of them occupy spaces and poop on things. The President of Outcome cheers them on when he is not golfing or fundraising.
The slow runners and bad singers of Outcome send their union muscle and government agents to Opportunity to take away Opportunity’s winnings by force. The fast runners and exquisite singers of Opportunity are not intimidated; they smile and calmly pull back their jackets to show their concealed-carry weapons. Outcome’s thugs go lay by their dish, and the patriots of Opportunity live happily ever after.
Here is the moral of the story: don’t mess with patriots in the land of Opportunity; we run faster, we sing better, and we are packing.
Moment Of Clarity” is a weekly commentary by Libertarian writer and speaker Tim Nerenz, Ph.D. Visit Tim’s website www.timnerenz.com to find your moment.