The goal of the United States in 2081, according to the story "Harrison Bergeron," is for all citizens to be equal. The society believes it is not enough to have equal rights under the law or merely to be treated fairly. On the contrary, every person must have the same intellectual capacity, the same physical attractiveness, and the same level of talent. Thus, a person who is above average intellectually must wear an ear radio that emits distracting sounds every 20 seconds so that he or she will not excel in thinking. For people to use their full mental abilities would mean "taking unfair advantage of their brains." Likewise, those who are physically stronger must carry weights around so they feel as weak as weaker people. Beautiful people must wear masks to make them uglier. "Everybody competing against everyone else" is considered a quality of the "dark ages." The reason the society values this type of equality is because they want to ensure that no one will ever have feelings of inferiority. George thinks about the ballerinas:
"They were burdened with sashweights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in."