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Memories of the 28th Century

Equality

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
Hey, we've gotten rid a few legal inequalities, let's try for the rest.

I favor equality before the law, and I'm not shy about expressing that opinion. Here in the U.S.A. we are supposed to have equality both on the federal level and the state level, but legislators have snuck in bits of inequality all over the place. The states are required to treat people equally by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

That seems pretty clear to me. There are no clauses that say that special treatment is fine if someone is old or young or disabled or anything. But the clarity of this part of the Fourteenth hasn't kept state legislators from ignoring it when they feel like it. I sometimes wish that I was less than twenty-one years of age, so I would be able to sue to have the minimum age for buying alcohol thrown out. That restriction flies in the face of equal protection of the laws, and it doesn't do any good for anyone, except who want to feel that they have save a child for alcohol (ignoring the fact that the child got smashed on booze that someone else bought instead). From what I have seen, there were no age restrictions on the purchase of alcohol until after 1933. A hundred-forty years ago a ten year old would have walked into the liquor store (or other store that sold booze) grabbed a bottle of whiskey and paid the storekeeper twenty-five cents, and everyone would have been satisfied. For some reason, some people decided that children had to be protected from the world, so they decided to ignore equality before the law and restricted the sale of alcohol. I suppose it helped some people by creating jobs that wouldn't otherwise have existed.

That isn't the only way that the Fourteenth is ignored. Another place has to do with how Massachusetts exempts meals sold to students on college campuses. This is one of those laws that don't really do much, but they remain of the books and continue to violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The exemption given to non-profit organizations is another example of some getting better treatment than others. But those state legislators have to do something to justify their pay.

There may be some slight good done by exemptions along these lines, but there are other ways to accomplish the same result. But we might want to question why there are tax exemptions for non-profit organizations and churches. Do we really want to encourage such behavior? And do we really want to discriminate against children? Then there were all of the regulations required by the discriminatory Americans with Disabilities Act. If people wanted to encourage patronage by disabled persons before that act, then they actively encouraged disabled to patronize their establishments. By requiring such behavior, the government discouraged people from being polite, and it appears that their attempt was successful on that front.

There are people who support every tax break, giveaway, and government benefit that any government has dreamed up, so they will oppose eliminating extra benefits, but it would help everyone, if everyone was treated equally. That's what I favor, even when I get some special benefit.

Comments

  1. Magnocrat's Avatar
    It is often said a mans worst enemy is himself so the law seeks to protect us from what it sees as our own foolishness. Inevitably this leads to differences due to age ,sex, education and training. This discrimination is not a bad thing on the whole and it is under constant scrutiny in western democracies.
  2. PeterL's Avatar
    Equality before the law is a very important basic principle of any government that tries to pretend that it serves the people. The ability to discriminate (meaning distinguish fine differences in things) is an excellent characteristic, but discrimination (meaning the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex) is not good or desirable in places that pretend to be non-discriminatory.
  3. Magnocrat's Avatar
    I think you will find most laws favour the wealthier citizens, they can pay fines with impunity, they can employ lawyers to get off the hook. The wealthy can afford to maintain their cars and their property. So the foolish boast that all men are equal before the law is nonsense. The suggestion that minors or young children should have equal rights along with adults is dangerous; they need greater protection as do women. In the UK constant improvement is being made but freedom must be balanced with responsibility.
  4. PeterL's Avatar
    I think that you will find there are many things of the books that violate the fundamental reights of U.S. citizens.