Equality: Is it Still Prominent in America Today?

December 8, 2011
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According to Robert Kohls, “Equality is, for Americans, one of their most cherished values.” In recent years this value has been vanishing from society. I disagree with Mr. Kohl’s ideas on the value of equality. I feel that in many social situations today people do not treat each other equally. In American society, equality is still one of our most revered values but in some ways we have created a new meaning of equality when it comes to other Americans or immigrants in our country, and the way their status is perceived.

Ever since the United States was established, equality has always been the meaning of America; a symbol of hope, freedom, and the chance to have a fair life as well as many of the opportunities most Americans expect. Immigrants have come and are still coming to America to receive jobs, to have a better life, or to get away from their native country’s tribulations. America has had its struggles with issues on equality and many still continue to arise. From the Women’s Rights Movement to equality for African Americans, we have created a sense of assurance in having all of our rights secured through historic documents and laws.

With the state of today’s economy and the disorganization of our government, many of our American values are being tested. Many people suffer from the effects of these hard times such as losing their jobs and not being able to support themselves or their families. Some also feel that they are not treated fairly, or believe that have no say in what affects their lives. One example of this is found in equality issues for women. Throughout our history women have struggled to maintain equality whether it is in the workplace or school. They have a harder time finding jobs than men and when they do, women do not receive the same benefits as their male counterparts. An article written by Jessica Valenti and published by the Washington Post in 2010 is a clear description of this issue. She said, “Women hold 17 percent of the seats in Congress...women work outside the home, but they make about 76 cents to a man's dollar and make up the majority of Americans living in poverty” (Valenti). I find it disappointing to think that after all of the struggles women have overcome that they still have to suffer from the effects of unequal pay and other degrading problems such as being abused or harassed. Unequal pay goes against many laws and bills including the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which was put in place in 2009. Why should women get paid less for performing the same jobs as men? In an article by Kate Lorenz featured on CNN.com, she wrote, “ Female doctors only earn 58 percent of their male counterpart’s salaries.” She also goes on to say, “Even in predominantly female fields like nursing and teaching, women still earn less than men.” (Lorenz). I find this completely unfair especially since I plan to have a career in nursing. My goal is to work in the field of emergency medicine, and hopefully by then something can be done to fix and enforce equal pay problems.

Another group that faces equality issues are immigrants, whether they are legal citizens or illegal aliens. Many come to America in the search for a better life, a job, or just to escape problems in their native country. Those that come for the jobs work for a lower salary and find employment in menial jobs that many Americans are not willing to do. They do not receive as many benefits as some Americans may get in the same position. I do not believe that is fair for an immigrant who has become a legal, American citizen to not benefit from the same compensations, but there are some cases were these immigrants are “playing the system.” They will work for long periods of time, and lower wages. According to an article by Patrick Buchanan, it is believed that 8.5 million U.S. jobs are held by illegal immigrants (Buchanan). I don’t believe that it is fair that they are not legal citizens and can have a job over an American citizen who can’t find work at all.

Other historical events and issues have changed the way many foreigners are perceived in the United States. With tragic events, 9/11 being one of the worst, Americans have changed the way they treat Muslims, or people of Middle Eastern decent. They have certain ideas and assumptions that all of them are terrorists and are out to get Americans. Truthfully not every person is like that. Many of them feel a great disappointment in those members of their society. It is unfair to discriminate and treat those around us for the actions of someone else. We as Americans are an example to other countries by always staying true to our values and not creating new meanings for them. We need to look back in history at the original meaning of many of our values so that they are not changed to suit a certain person or situation.

We have all faced equality issues and many will continue to do so throughout their lives. Whether it is unequal pay or feeling as though we are being cheated out of a job, these problems are apparent everyday. If we do not take the initiative to stop these issues now, they are going to keep growing until we cannot control them. I believe that the government should pass more laws that make it completely illegal to pay female employees less than male employees. I also believe that there should be laws to support legal immigrants so that they may have the same benefits as American citizens. When it comes down to it, we are united as one and should treat each other with the same respect and dignity that we expect.





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