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In response to Mr. Malm's very interesting June 12 letter stating that freedom and equality cannot coexist in a free society: While I admire his logic, I disagree with his conclusion.
As he himself states, "freedom without rules can never work." The rules prevent the more powerful in society from misusing their freedom to control and exploit the less powerful.
The very nature of rules is that they limit freedom, in this case, the freedom of the powerful to use their power (financial, political, intellectual, etc.) to severely limit the freedom of the powerless. The primary purpose of rules is to make both groups more equal by limiting the freedom of the more powerful group.
Ideally, we would all be compassionate enough toward the weaker members of our society that rules would be unnecessary; we would voluntarily choose not to use our freedom in a way that would harm others. Because of basic human selfishness and greed, however, this is not the case. This is why, in the U.S., the top 20 percent control 85 percent of the wealth. Worldwide (where there are fewer rules) the top 10 percent control 85 percent of all wealth. Like in a game of Monopoly, without financial rules, ultimately one entity will finally own everything, thus our own nation's anti-monopoly laws.
Social Security, Medicare, minimum wage laws, etc., are all attempts to force the wealthy to share their wealth with the poor and middle class. Without these programs, there comes a tipping point where the majority can no longer compete and are driven toward poverty. This is why some of the more powerful in our society would like to slowly dismantle these programs, privatizing them so the private markets which they themselves control can control these programs (rather than the government).
In most democratic societies, governments exist to protect the poor and powerless. Thus, it should not surprise us that the more powerful in any society desire less government and unlimited freedom.
There will never be full equality. Socialism always fails because there are too many who will abuse that system and not pull their share of the load.
The best system is a balanced system which guarantees enough freedom for some to excel, but also protects those, who because of circumstances beyond their control (health, natural abilities, demographics, timing, etc.) can never fully compete with those more fortunate.
This is what we have long preserved in America, but the powerful are always trying to change it through deregulation, privatization and less government.