Claim: Social safety nets are intended to provide equality of outcome. What really matters is equality of opportunity.
Fact: Social safety nets are intended to provide equality of opportunity (or at least narrow the gap), not the outcome (which is impossible anyhow). Touting “equality of opportunity” often implies that the market provides such equality, and this is demonstrably false.
It’s become commonplace to hear dismissal of social safety nets and other government programs intended to provide assistance to the poor and/or alleviate growing economic inequality by implying something along the lines that equality of outcome and equality of opportunity are not the same. The implication here is that social safety measures are attempting to achieve equality of outcome and that markets left to their own devices provide equality of opportunity. Neither of these is true.Continue reading