Thinking Citizen Blog — Fuzzy Thinking: Equity, Equality, Justice
Thinking Citizen Blog — Saturday is Justice, Freedom, Law, and Values Day
Today’s Topic: Fuzzy Thinking: equity, equality, justice
Words matter. Getting their meaning straight is key. A newly ubiquitous word is “equity.” What does it mean? Is it a synonym for “justice”? or is it a synonym for “equality”? How does “equity” relate to “equality before the law” as symbolized by the blindfold in the classic statue of “Lady Justice”? To me, this is not a technical, or peripheral issue. There is nothing more important than clarity of thought about the true meaning of fairness. Is there anything more important to teach children in schools, homes, and communities? I think not. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
EQUITY IS A EUPHEMISM FOR EQUALITY OF OUTCOME
1. Equality of outcome is not justice.
2. Is the fact that 95% of prisoners are male a measure of bias against males?
3. Is the fact that Jews have won 40% of Nobel Prizes a measure of bias in favor or Jews?
NB: Is the over-representation of Asians in elite schools in New York and California a measure of bias in favor of Asians?
EQUITY, THE CASTE SYSTEM, AND THE PROBLEM OF INCENTIVES
1. Without a statute of limitations, affirmative action is a recipe for a caste system.
2. Such a system would create a strong incentive to declare oneself a member of the favored group.
3. And it would reduce the incentives of the favored group to work to their full potential.
NB: These tendencies have been demonstrated historically and globally, and documented and analyzed by black economist, Thomas Sowell in “Affirmative Action Around the World.” (See first link below).
SIMPLE, BUT NOT TOO SIMPLE: WHAT SHOULD EVERY 18 YEAR OLD KNOW ABOUT THE MEANING OF JUSTICE?
1. “Equality before the law” (the blind fold) Not one law for blacks, another for whites. Not one for rich, another for poor. Not one for men, another for women.
2. “Equality of opportunity” (the starting gate): Make sure that the quality of schools is equal, and the safety of neighborhoods across zip codes is equal. Equality of schools demands equally high standards of academic, athletic and behavioral. The lower the standards, the lower the incentives, the lower the performance.
3. “Proportionality” (the scales) — proportionality of punishments to crime, of rewards to productivity, of guilt or innocence to the evidence, not the whim of the judge.
NB: Any more than three aspects of anything are impossible for normal people to remember. What do you think? What would your definition of justice be? Is justice the paramount value? Or is it one of a bundle of co-equal values (perhaps including peace, freedom, truth, prosperity)?
The Equity Mess
A LINK TO THE LAST THREE YEARS OF POSTS ORGANIZED BY THEME:
Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to justice, freedom, the law or basic values. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to justice, freedom, the law, or basic values. Or just some random justice-related fact that blew you away.
This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply about something dear to your heart.