The goal of equal outcome- To make sure all individuals are financially equal regardless of one's occupation in life.
The goal of equal opportunity- To provide everyone with the same chance(s) regardless of ethnic or social background.
Politics these days are loaded with controversial talking points. The gun control debate, abortion rights for women, and marriage equality are a few issues that come to mind as being controversial and stirring up emotions. The equal outcome versus equal opportunity debate is no different, with each political side claiming they have the absolute solution to the problem.
The equal outcome scenario kind of reminds me of the science fiction story Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut, in which detailed a future where everyone was made equal and the word achievement would have been considered a curse word. On the surface that sounds just fine, but there are some serious concerns with such a concept, namely the discrimination that would go along with giving advantages to certain individuals that would otherwise lack specific qualifications. For example, overlooking a qualified male for a certain job in favor of a less qualified female, just for the sake of diversity and inclusivity. The problem there is, it is not possible to beat inequality if it requires that otherwise qualified individuals are denied opportunities in the process.
The universe itself does not produce equal outcomes for equal actions, and life can be truly cruel for some lifeforms at the lower end of the food chain. With this in mind and plenty of evidence to back that up, there are far too many of my fellow human beings who wish to believe otherwise, that maybe just maybe if we add a few more rules and apply some more taxes on the right individuals, that would somehow make everyone equal. It is also a well known fact that human beings are not all equal in intelligence and skills, which need to be taken into consideration too. Although most could improve upon certain skills and abilities, there will always be constrainments due to differences in natural gifts. If the desire is to achieve social progress (in particular where the least well off are concerned), then we need to think up ways to put to effective use the knowledge and skills of all people.
The trouble with the diversity/inclusivity movement these days is said diversity is solely focused on racial and social diversity, and not diversity of intellect and thought as it should be. For a truly prosperous society, academic excellence should be the primary goal. Those who favor diversity appear to not see any conflict between diversity and achievement/excellence. It is too often assumed that the more diversity the better the performance, and there is no solid evidence to back up such. Decades of affirmative action have not resolved the imbalances in outcomes, and there is no indication of change coming anytime soon with more of the same.
Equality before the law should not be confused with equal outcomes. Equality where the laws are concerned means everyone has equal rights (for example free speech, religious expression etc), and by enforcing equal rights for all equal opportunity could be established. Some argue that being we all are supposed to be considered equal under the law, that means all outcomes must be equal as well, and that's simply not accurate.
The Founders envisioned an America where all the citizens had equal opportunity in their pursuit of their ideal life. They created both an economic and political system that allowed all to have a fair shot at success through hard work and perseverance. However, such a system based on individual merit would mean that there will be inequality in outcomes, as we live in a free society some will naturally succeed more than others. Knowing this, any claim(s) that inequalities are an apparent sign of an injustice would be misguided.
Another concern with the concept of wealth redistribution is that such has the tendency to create oligarchs. Even when all the citizens are kept equally poor, those in positions of power will use their authority to ensure they get ahead, keeping the luxuries they deprived others of for themselves. Cuba is a good example, fairly good healthcare services are available for the wealthy, while the rest more often than not struggle to acquire basic necessities. Closer to home, one need only look at some of the major US cities like Los Angeles or Chicago which are under progressive Democrat control, and the high percentage of poverty in such cities. Try as they (the progressives) may, but time and time again their policies have only produced more poverty and a need for more citizens to go on Government assistance programs. Contrast that with the ideology of equal opportunity that conservatives and libertarians advocate for. The concept of equal opportunity acknowledges and accepts the reality that life itself is not fair. Alongside natural born rights and advancing technology, society can flourish and the economy can stay strong when all the citizens have the power to make their own choices. A few years back Jordan Peterson had a good video on YouTube titled Why Equality of Outcome is an Impossible Goal and Terrible Idea, here is the link for anyone who might be interested in checking it out-
While it's a noble notion to want fairness and equality, life itself is not designed to be fair, each human being has his/her own unique strengths and weaknesses and set of skills. When everyone gets an opportunity to pursue either success or failure, society as a whole will ultimately benefit as there will be plenty of those who seek to invent and innovate thus improving all of our lives. Bigger Government is not the longterm solution, nor is using Government powers to force all the citizens into being financially and socially equal. We do not want to live in a Harrison Bergeron world.