The promise of equal outcomes weakens responsibility, a critical component of agency.
When efforts are proportionally rewarded, there is justice and incentive to work and progress. But when rewards are disproportionate to effort, there is no incentive to work, no progress, and no justice.
Equal opportunity expands agency. Equal outcome destroys justice.
And if there is no justice, God ceases to be God. Satan’s goal.
People who believe in socialism, and that government will wield the power of wealth equitably, necessarily believe equality of outcomes is possible and fair. And further assert the implausible extension that everyone can be put on a level playing field suffused with a spirit of socialism and kept there. Without force, they naïvely believe.
But no two people are alike. We are all on a ladder of natural inequality.
“These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.”
“Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.”
There are three kingdoms in heaven, not just one. And gradations in each.
Because people differ, especially in effort, their achievements will always be unequal. As discussed in my previous article, socialism’s vaunted equal distribution of wealth is unsustainable and can never produce the equality of mankind they brag about.
It’s simple. Let’s say a socialist government gives everyone $5000 a month for a year. The equality wouldn’t last 30 days because people would spend it differently. Some will spend wisely, others will squander. Some will save, lend and/or invest. After not many $5K distributions, people will notice others better off and will clamor to make everyone “equal” again.
Similarly, Brigham Young observed that those who “would divide the substance of the rich among the poor, and make all what they call equal” would cause him to question “how long would it be before a certain portion of them would be calling upon the other portion for something with which to sustain themselves?”
Wealth redistribution to bring about lasting equality is impossible.
And socialist leaders don’t care. They enjoy power while true believers search for the holy grail, the true socialism that has yet to be tried.
Consider how this impacts responsibility. As socialism redistributes a society’s ever-decreasing wealth, more people will excuse themselves from helping others – the “I only have enough for me” thinking.
What do we do with the fruits of our labor? Do we willingly feed the hungry? Clothe the naked? Care for the sick? Agonizing questions when one has a diminishing paycheck.
But now add the soothing song of socialism: “Don’t worry; we will establish a classless society where there are no rich and no poor, where everyone is equal.” The human nature response? “Oh, what a relief. I don’t have to worry about others. The state will take care of them.”
As Frederic Bastiat put it, “The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.”
Look up accountable and responsible and the connecting principle is stewardship – what we do with the resources the Lord blesses us with by having us work for them. But if we work and the state takes the fruits of our labor, there is no personal stewardship. And one of God’s purposes for our earthly existence is ignored.
Socialism thus defeats stewardship, robs us of chances to progress by reducing a sense of responsibility, and hinders agency.
And it does so under the guise of helping others, counterfeit as can be. (As Thoreau wrote, “If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life.”) If we allow socialism, we are allowing the state to take care of others and may be reminded of Scrooge who, when asked for a donation to help the poor, fobbed off personal responsibility and replied, “Are there no prisons … workhouses?”
Now, some may contend that unequal efforts in keeping the commandments must necessarily lead to something less than living with God for eternity. The difference here is the grace of Christ. We cannot merit exaltation by ourselves; unequal efforts will cause us to fall short. And not everyone in the celestial kingdom will have put in the same efforts. There’s no way the average celestial kingdom dweller can equal the effort and deeds of an Abraham, Moses, Peter, or Joseph Smith. But if the effort is sufficient and the intentions of the heart are sufficient, the grace and mercy of Christ will make up the shortfall.
Satan has no such power to make up anybody’s shortfall whatever their goals. Nor would he ever help people if he did. That is why he works for equality of outcomes by force, people being mere submissive objects. And such “equality” if ever gained will be a bland and boring sameness – everyone equally poor, bearing no responsibility, robbed of agency.
An excerpt from “The Magnificent Gift of Agency; To Act and Not Be Acted Upon.” This book is now available in Deseret Book stores and at:
 Alma 42
 Abraham 3:19
 D&C 130:18-19
 Discourses of Brigham Young, arranged by John A. Widtsoe, 318