In A Wrinkle in Time, Charles Wallace Murray, Meg’s little brother, responds to a seemingly unworkable conundrum, posed by IT, shouting triumphantly “like and equal are not the same thing!” In our own version of Camazotz ruled by IT and the Black Thing, we are told that “equality” and “equity of outcomes” are the same thing. Like Charles Wallace Murray, we should all be shouting at IT “Equality and equity of outcomes are not the same thing!” because they are not.
What’s the difference between “equity” and “equality”? It’s clear that these terms are very similar in definition. Equal is two things holding the same value or worth or standing. Hence equality before the law means that no matter one’s position in life, if one steals one is held accountable in a court of law (yes, yes, corruption, I know. I’m talking principles and definitions here. We can argue the rest later in a different post.) Equity means two things holding equal value as well. But as Charles said, like and equal are not the same thing. And equity of opportunity vs. equity of outcome are far from the same thing.
The devil is in the details and in the uses of the words and in the application of these words. Social justice warriors and cultural change mavens are striving for equality of, and equity in, outcomes rather than at the starting point. We most definitely should have equality and equity at the starting point (the whole level playing field thing), but even then, you cannot control circumstances of birth, genetics, environment, personality, drive, etc. Well, you can, but then you move into the realm of horror science fiction where the government genetically modifies humanity against its will or engages in eugenics for all those “imperfect” people. You already see signs of this when women abort babies with Down’s Syndrome or other birth defects.
The assumption of most on the left and even some on the right is that equality of outcome means that everyone will be raised up because that is of course the stated intent. HOWEVER, an increase in standard of living or law school graduations or whatever it is you are pushing for is not necessarily indicated when shooting for equal outcomes. In fact, it is more likely that in tearing everything down to insure equity, you are simultaneously ensuring a lower standard of living etc. for everybody. Additionally, by removing all high performers you are destroying all examples of how to raise oneself up to a higher level.
Concerns about equity and equality (other than before the law), have been raised for a long time. In 1961 Kurt Vonnegut published the short story Harrison Bergeron. In the world of 2081, equality for all has become the norm. People deemed too beautiful are required to wear masks to make them ugly and hide their beauty. Athletic people are forced to wear weights so they cannot run faster, intelligent people are made to wear headgear that pumps constant noise into their ears making it impossible for them to think straight. Everybody is average, everybody is equal. Nobody is allowed to excel at anything, but since everybody’s equal it’s all good, right? Right? In the end (spoiler alert), Harrison Bergeron and his dance partner, having thrown off their masks and literal shackles and dancing beautifully, are shot on live television to prove that nobody will be allowed to outshine anybody else. The secondary tragedy is that Harrison’s parents are watching, and due to their enforced limited intelligence and enforced inability to follow a single thought, don’t even recognize their son and don’t realize that he’s just been killed.
Today’s socialists argue that socialism would mean, at the very least, that everybody has food, clothing, and shelter provided by the government. After all, that’s what the Soviet Union was guaranteeing to its citizens… how could that be a bad thing? I used to ask my students what they thought was meant by “food, clothing, and shelter provided by the government.” Did that mean a nice four-bedroom house with all the comforts of heat, a/c, furniture, etc., nice clothes, and an abundance of food? Or did it mean four walls, a burlap bag, and some government cheese? Is a government really going to do more than the minimum required? Think about it for a minute.
Oh, and if you’re going to point to the ridiculous San Francisco reparations thingy, as some sort of amazingly generous equity response by a government, ask yourself how the city plans on finding the money to pay $97k per person per year to every single black person currently and in the future living in the city, including those that move there for the reparations. Where the HELL are they going to get that kind of money? Residents are leaving the city and the state in droves already, what makes you think they’re going to stick around to pay for this?? The reparations thing is a sop to crazy activists and an empty promise.
No, government is going to “give” you a Quonset hut (if you’re lucky), some rags, and cheese. If they do, they’ll tell you you’re fortunate to receive such bounty. And, oh yeah, here’s your monthly stipend, and we already took taxes out because you owe us for that Quonset hut.
The saying “be careful what you wish for because you just might get it” is never more true than when calling for equal outcomes. That cartoon where the man and kids are watching a ball game and standing on boxes to see over the fence? Why do you assume the boxes will be distributed in such a way that everybody will see over the fence? Why do you avoid the possibility shown in this modification of that drawing?
When dealing with the government, you should always assume that whether by design, malice, incompetence, or simply boredom, the worst outcome will be the most likely.
Finally, ask yourself why do all these people calling for government enforced equity and filled with assurances that government will make everything better, at the same time turn around and blame government for all their own ills and bad decisions? Why would anybody assume or argue that the same entity (filled with the same people) simultaneously deliberately causes, and then lovingly repairs, all problems in society? And why do you trust them to do so?
I suggest remembering two, supposedly trite, but worthwhile, phrases to live by.
The first is: Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.
The second is: The nine most frightening words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.