The new political word on the street is “equity”. What does this mean and why is it getting so much attention now?
Bottom line up front: Choose which you believe in, either:
- Equality – everybody should be given equal amounts and it’s okay if the results are unequal, or
- Equity – everybody should be given unequal amounts so that what they become is equal.
This comparison is not new. I’ve written before about using this comparison to determine what is fair national policy. Divorce courts have used it for years and they un-abashedly choose equity so that divorcing parties can start their new life on an equal footing.
What’s this look like in real life? Perhaps everybody deserves living wages and a house and car. If you can’t buy them, or choose to squander money on something else, the government should give these things to you so that all people end up with the same. Or, you were born into a poor family, so the government should pay for your schooling, and if you can’t get a job, they should also provide you a salary or make a law forcing people to hire you.
A more familiar example of applying these principles is taxation policy. When you speak of equal taxation under the law, what exactly is supposed to be equal? Which of 3 options is correct? Sorted in order of pure equality to pure equity: 1) everybody pays equal tax dollars, 2) everybody pays equal percentage, 3) everybody pays taxes until what is left is equal. Our nation has operated somewhere between 1 and 2. The new liberal politicians are advocating to move to 3.
The sticking point is the U.S. Constitution speaks only about equality. It is a new thing that politicians are so openly talking about treating people differently so that everybody will come out the same in the end — they are advocating precisely NOT equality. The new push for equity is literally un- or anti-constitutional. See the recent tweets from VP Kamala Harris. She’s very clear about this: people must be treated differently until their life situations come out the same.