The value of equal opportunity is universally endorsed by Americans. It’s one of the values on which liberals and conservatives agree, as we discussed Tuesday. The differences occur when we consider how to make sure that everyone has equal opportunities.
Whose job is it to level the playing field?
A level playing field means that everyone plays by the same rules and that no one has an unfair advantage or disadvantage. Imagine, for example, your favorite football team playing from the low end of a tilted field. They would have to advance the ball uphill while their opponents would have the downhill advantage.
A level playing field doesn’t mean that everyone has an equal chance of success. Natural talent, superior skills, motivation, effort, and luck would still matter. But everyone would play by the same rules. And no one would have an unfair advantage, like performance enhancing drugs.
The metaphor of the level playing field works well when we talk about sports. In other areas of life, it gets harder. Whose job is it to make sure we have level playing fields in business, education, healthcare, and so on?
A large majority of Americans say it’s the government’s role to ensure a level playing field, according to my national surveys. But there is a difference between liberals and conservatives on this matter. Eight of ten liberals (82%) say that the government should make sure that all people have equal opportunities, compared with six of ten conservatives (62%) who say the same. All of which makes me wonder: If it’s not the government’s job to level the playing field, whose job is it?
Do you agree that having a level playing field is important?
Should the government be responsible for setting the rules?
Aside from the government, who else should be keeping the field level?
Please, leave a Comment below.
Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.