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Benjamin Franklin once said: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Security, deserve neither Liberty nor Security.”
That quote actually reveals two very different kind of thinking. On one hand, egalitarianism focuses on a strong central government which uses taxes and so forth to redistribute the wealth of the nation in order to promote equality among the citizens. Libertarianism, on the other hand, focuses more on individual rights, and, regretfully, the right to fail (and some people will) is a part of justice, which means that everyone should be getting what he or she has earned or deserves (including punishment, if necessary).
So, in the same way that it appears in Franklin’s quote that there is a conflict between individual freedoms and national security, it also appears that we have a conflict between equality and justice. The debate between egalitarianism and libertarianism is on-going and always seems to be tilted toward one of the poles of this duality.
• At the current moment, which tendency do you believe seems to be the dominant thinking in this country? Give at least two examples to illustrate your answer.
• Next, pretend you are writing a letter to your Senator, because you believe that you have come up with a solution that would, in your opinion, restore a balance between the two extremes in order, as Franklin suggested, to have and deserve both liberty and security again? Be sure to provide enough information, so your Senator will be able to understand the details of your plan that would guarantee both equality and justice.