OpEd: Equality, Equity, and the Handicapping of Success

5f17bd50a561b image 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1I take on Biden’s raising mortgage interest rates on buyers with excellent credit scores in order to subsidize those with poor credit scores.

This editorial ran in today’s Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Back in 1961, Kurt Vonnegut published a dystopian science fiction short story titled “Harrison Bergeron.” The story is set in 2081, when the United States has enacted constitutional amendments to achieve complete equity among its citizens. In that future, the government handicaps individuals who possess above-average abilities to ensure that everyone is equal in every way.

The story follows Harrison Bergeron, an extraordinary individual with exceptional intelligence, strength, and physical beauty. However, he is burdened with extreme handicaps to level the playing field with others. These handicaps include heavy weights, a mask to hide his handsome face, and headphones emitting distracting noises to disrupt intelligent thoughts.

Last week we saw another precursor to this dystopian, progressive hellhole. The Biden Administration is raising mortgage interest rates on buyers with excellent credit scores in order to subsidize those with poor credit scores.

A good credit score results from several factors: first, all credit payments are paid on time, including credit cards, loans, and other forms of credit. A good score also reflects a responsible use of credit by keeping the credit ratio low (the percentage of available credit currently in use) as well. The rule of thumb is below 30%.

Under the Biden plan, borrowers with extremely good credit are being penalized while borrowers with lower credit scores are being rewarded. Under the new rules, high-credit buyers with scores ranging from 680 to above 780 will see a spike in their mortgage costs – with applicants who place a 15% to 20% down payment experiencing the biggest increase in fees.

Under the revised pricing structure, a home buyer with a 740 FICO credit score and a 15% to 20% down payment will face a 1% surcharge – an increase of 0.750% compared to the old fee of just 0.250%.

Meanwhile, buyers with credit scores of 679 or lower will have their fees slashed, resulting in more favorable mortgage rates. For example, a buyer with a 620 FICO credit score with a down payment of 5% or less gets a 1.75% fee discount – a decrease from the old fee rate of 3.50% for that bracket.

I was thinking of other ways that Democrats could punish those who act responsibly:

  • Raise life insurance rates on non-smokers to subsidize smokers.
  • Raise life insurance rates on teetotalers to subsidize alcoholics.
  • Raise car insurance rates on good drivers to subsidize bad drivers.
  • Raise grocery prices for healthy eaters to subsidize junk food junkies.
  • Increase tuition rates on STEM majors to subsidize “Studies” majors.
  • Increase taxes on energy-efficient homes to fund energy-wasting households.
  • Raise healthcare premiums for those who exercise regularly to subsidize lazy individuals.
  • Increase water bills for those who conserve water to support water wasters.
  • Raise recycling fees to subsidize those who don’t.

The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

This statement acknowledges that individuals have the inherent right to pursue happiness, along with the rights to life and liberty. The Declaration of Independence does not guarantee happiness to every citizen – it only guarantees the right to pursue happiness. 

Similarly, the document declares that all individuals are created equal before the law, with natural rights that cannot be taken away by any government. However, the Declaration doesn’t guarantee equality in practice. The American Dream instead centers on equal opportunity for all citizens to achieve their goals based on their individual talents, sacrifice, and hard work.

The foundations of the American Dream and the Declaration of Independence are based on what German sociologist Max Weber called the “Protestant Work Ethic.” This is a culture that rewards integrity, responsibility, hard work, discipline, and frugality. This empowers everyone to embark on their own pursuit of happiness.

But the dystopian principle of Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” is clearly echoed in the Biden Administration’s trend of government overreach: punishing the responsible in the name of equity. But true fairness – as far as we can control it – comes from equality before the law, not lowering the bar and handicapping success.

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