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Equity is not Equality. Equality is what I want.
This article caught my eye today, “The Daily 202: Susan Rice plans to put racial equity at the heart of Biden’s agenda.” Here are some quotes from that article.
“I’ll be driving our efforts to ensure that matters of equity and justice are fully incorporated into all that we try to do,” said Susan E. Rice, chair of Biden’s Domestic Policy Council.
Further down in the article it read:
The new president will be laying out a “whole-of-government approach to advancing equity for people of color and a wide range of other underserved communities across the federal government,” said Rice, who will “coordinate the formulation and the implementation of policy to address all range of matters related to racial justice and equity, broadly defined.”
Biden has listed “racial justice or the lack thereof” alongside the coronavirus pandemic, the economic devastation stemming from it, and climate as “four core crises” he must confront upon taking office, Rice said.
The talk of equity sounds good yet, it doesn’t mean what most people think when they hear it. There has been a long running argument focused on equity vs equality that will only heat up during the Biden administration. However the crux of the argument could be summed up in two expressed viewpoints: Kamala Harris vs Ben Shapiro. (HT: Minnesota Republic)
Right before the 2020 election, Kamala Harris released a video on Twitter – “Equality vs Equity.” In the video Harris explains that “Equality suggests that everyone should get the same amount,” which she implies is unfair, and that “equitable treatment means that we all end up in the same place,” which is implied to be fair.
Shapiro explains that “if two people are in a room, and one person has five dollars and the other has one, that does not mean something unfair happened; there are thousands of potential reasons for that.” For example, person A could have worked more hours than person B, or person A could have invested well, and person B could have spent his money on something else that he wanted, and maybe person A recently provided a good or service worth five dollars and person B recently provided a good or service worth one dollar.
To Harris’s credit, this is an important issue to bring up, considering that no decent person cheers for inequality. If it is seen as an issue to many, then it is an issue worth investigating, but the simplicity of Harris’s analogy is hardly ever the case.
As Shapiro pointed out, there could be a thousand different reasons that the people in the hypothetical room have different amounts of money, and thus there could be a thousand different reasons why the two people in Harris’s analogy are in different spots. For example, what if the person farther up the mountain climbed a few extra hours the day before, or what if he is an extremely skilled and experienced climber? Although this is often the case, those in the Harris ideology camp tend to focus on race and sex as a driving factor in disparities.
If this were true and the only determinant of outcome, then, yes, that should be considered unfair. Shapiro, however, goes on to cite a statistic that now shows Asian women are earning more on average than white men. He goes on to ask sarcastically, “Is that because of inequity? Is that because the constitutional system of the United States is somehow geared against white men and on behalf of Asian women?” He makes a convincing argument that these disparities are not the explicit result of race or gender and that “decision making, in a free country, is the chief factor in how your life is going to go.”
I think Shapiro has the better argument and I will add to it. If the point to make the starting point equal for all, then that is an impossibility. How do you make the starting point the same for people who are less intelligent when they have to compete with geniuses like Dr. Gladys West? There are clear advantages in business to being good looking so how can the less attractive get the best jobs? And what of those who are less athletic than Lebron James or don’t have wealthy parents like Will and Jada? Most of all, what if the culture of a minority group is antithetical to group success? There is no way our government or any government can legislate for all of those variables and be fair to all because life itself is not fair.
Take a moment and think about your own family, specifically your siblings. You grew up in the same house with them, operated under the same rules and yet some of your siblings are more (or less) successful than you. Your parents’ authority was dictatorial (presumably) and they wielded more control over you growing up than the government and yet you and your siblings did not end up equally rich or equally poor. And for the sake of argument, I am talking to the audience in general and not specifically talking about you. But, I digress.
When I hear discussions about the need to do more for the sake of “equity,” I tend to think about the earlier Civil Rights era of the 60’s. Back then, the argument was more valid than now. How do I mean that? If your civil rights were violated, you had few allies to defend you. Nowadays, there are several government agencies in place, a plethora of civil rights attorneys and lawsuits settling in the millions and billions as a deterrent to modern enterprises. To prove that, scan through the data below.
GOVERNMENT OFFICES THAT DEFEND CIVIL RIGHTS
The U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights enforces several Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the Department of Education. | Click here for a list of laws they enforce
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity administers and enforces federal laws and establishes policies that make sure all Americans have equal access to the housing of their choice.
The U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section enforces federal civil rights statutes related to conditions of institutional confinement, conduct of law enforcement agencies, access to reproductive health facilities and places of religious worship, and religious exercise of institutionalized persons.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights enforces federal civil rights laws in programs funded by the USDA, such as the Food Stamp Program, that address discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and expression), religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital or familial status, political beliefs, parental status, protected genetic information, or because all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces various federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability. Discrimination by employers with 15 or more employees is prohibited in all aspects of the hiring and employment process: job application, hiring, firing, promoting, training, wage earning, or any other terms, privileges, or conditions of employment. | Click here for a list of laws they enforce
Taking legal action against civil rights offenders can be quite lucrative for the victors. Here are a few examples.
- The Average Employee Lawsuit costs $250,000…How Safe is your Company?
- Wisconsin Pays Largest Civil Rights Settlement in State’s History –$18.9 Million – for Juvenile Offender’s Suicide Attempt
- Top 40 Civil Rights Settlements in California in 2018
- $1.2 Billion Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation Settlement
- When police officers have committed misconduct, used excessive force or falsely arrested people, People’s Law Office has been there. Our Chicago-based civil rights lawyers have a proven track record of results, and have obtained over $100 million for our clients……
- Corporations Have Paid Out at Least $2.7 Billion in Civil-Rights and Labor Lawsuits Since 2000
And if you ever needed a Civil Rights Attorney, the options are endless.
Wow! This was a lot longer than I planned. Let me sum up my thoughts here. Pursuing equity is akin to Don Quixote fighting his windmills; a fruitless effort that will not change anything in the end. However, it certainly feels heroic and righteous in the effort. The better pursuit is equality because that is more realistic in this unfair world.
Header image source: The problem with that equity vs. equality graphic you’re using