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A QuoraAnswer : https://www.quora.com/q/anticapitalism/Do-socialists-want-equality-of-opportunity-or-equality-of-outcome-4

Do socialists want equality of opportunity, or equality of outcome?

As a socialist, I think that the distinction is largely meaningless and more misleading than helpful.

Think of something like ramps to help wheelchair users get into the library.

Are these to provide “equality of opportunity” or “equality of outcome”? Do they provide the “outcome” of people getting into the library? Or merely the “opportunity” of people getting themselves up the steps?

Or what about free eduction? The outcome of knowing more? Or the opportunity to be more valuable and higher paid member of the workforce?

Or free healthcare? The outcome of a longer, happier, less painful, more fulfilled life? Or the opportunity to do more with your life?

When you look at it, every intervention is both an end in itself AND a means to further ends. Both an outcome and an opportunity. The two are completely intertwined and inseparable.

People on the left don’t tend to think in terms of opportunity vs. outcome. And certainly don’t obsess about trying to distinguish which is which. That’s a bourgeois / right-wing way of thinking. A mean-spirited, finicky obsession with “are we just giving opportunities? (acceptable) Or might we have slipped up and given away an outcome? (oh noes! bad, bad, bad!)” Another way of trying to distinguish between the deserving poor and the undeserving poor.

Undoubtedly any government (even a socialist one) which serves its people needs to deal with real scarcity and conflicting claims on resources. It can’t give everyone everything, and it needs to find principles to distinguish how resources should be allocated. But the “opportunity / outcome” distinction, like the “deserving poor / undeserving poor” distinction, doesn’t seem a particularly good criterion.

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