- Some now want equality of outcome (equity) to trump equality of opportunity.
- Equity justifies another large swath of people being made equal by the state.
- Like communism, pursuing equity can lead to a bloated bureaucracy and less reason for personal initiative.
- Dr Bryce Wilkinson worries that equity programs will lead to “very nasty” polarisation in the future.
Equality of outcome seen by the left as the gold standard for fairness
Social justice campaigners used to be about fighting for ‘equality of opportunity’. However, despite universal suffrage, equal pay laws, etc., differences in outcomes between some groups persist. Further, it is often argued to exist when there is no reliable measurement. There can be all kinds of subtleties at play that large samples ignore.
This has prompted a shift in focus, by the left-leaning crowd, to attempt to achieve equity of outcomes. They refuse to even consider anything but embedded prejudice could be to blame for different results. Other possibilities, such as individual choice, work ethic or even innate differences are completely dismissed.
Equity has a lot of the same features as communism
Perhaps a key difference between the time of Karl Marx and the modern era is that the communist theory of yesteryear was focused on class. Taking from the haves (the bourgeoisie) and delivering to the have-nots (the proletariats).
Today, identity politics is more of a consideration for the central planners, when redistributing wealth. And its proponents are often successful in encouraging the private sector to participate in the redistribution, not just government. This is at the root of ESG programs and Critical Race Theory.
Race-based equity leads to resentment
Dr Bryce Wilkinson of the New Zealand Initiative says the kind of equity disproportionately targeting Māori (the perceived ‘have-nots’) with taxpayer funds necessarily means disproportionately raising those funds from non-Māori (the perceived ‘haves’).
Wilkinson argues that this false form of equity being driven by the Government will regretfully produce resentment and a “very nasty” polarisation in the future.
“If you’re looking at the race based allocation of spending, then someone is going to talk about the race sourcing of the funds being spent,” he says.
Equity can’t deliver the promised outcomes
Achieving equality of outcomes between different groups can be incredibly expensive for society as governments are called upon to fix increasing numbers of perceived inequities between different groups. Bureaucracies can become so bloated they promote economic stagnation and may eventually collapse under their own weight. This is one take on what happened in the former Soviet Union.
Another way to assign scarce resources is through performance, which doesn’t rely on subjectivity as much as equity of results. You can either make the grade, deliver to spec, or you can’t. People do not usually have any issue with this when it comes to sport, which will very quickly sort things out. However, some just don’t believe the same competitive forces can work effectively in other professions. Or, even if competition can work, maybe they see it as being too hard on people.
Wai Wah Chin of the Manhattan Institute writes:
“Marx understood early that Communist Liberation requires dismantling property rights – i.e., state-sponsored confiscation. But for equity, it’s also confiscation of achievements, contributions, and individual rights.”