At a White House briefing last week, Susan Rice said, “The president has committed the whole of our government to advancing racial justice and equity[.] … We will hold the federal government accountable for advancing equity … Every agency will place equity at the core [of its programs[.]”
According to the dictionary, equity is “freedom from bias or favoritism.” However, the “social justice” definition of equity is the opposite. It holds that to be equal, people must be treated differently. “Whereas equality means providing the same to all, equity means recognizing that we do not all start from the same place and must acknowledge and make adjustments to imbalances.”
This idea of equity comes from identifiably communist thought. It is the second part of Marx’s slogan: “From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs.” Lenin, discussing Marx, said, “Every right is an application of the same measures to different people who, in fact, are not the same and are not equal to one another; this is why “equal right” is really a violation of equality and an injustice[.] … [D]ifferent people are not alike; one is strong, another is weak, one is married, the other is not, one has more children[.] … [quoting Marx] ‘In order to avoid all these defects, rights, instead of being equal, must be unequal'” (State and Revolution, Chapter 5, Part 3).
The idea that people are unequal is not a new idea. Inequality is a natural phenomenon visible in wolves and other social animals. Hierarchies form based on physical strength and other differences.
The self-evident equality referred to in the Declaration of Independence is a different way of looking at people which arose from the Scientific Revolution’s inquiry into the way people acquire knowledge. The mental faculties and how people use them to operate in the world were seen as universal. “[C]reatures of the same species and rank … born to all the same advantages of nature. and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal one amongst another without subordination or subjugation” (Locke, Concerning Civil Government, Chapter II, section 4). This equality is innate, based on the fallible mental processes by which all human beings operate. It has nothing to do with things like wealth, and as for status, everyone has it equally, at least so far as law and government are concerned. “The protection of these faculties is the first object of government” (The Federalist No. X, Madison).
At the time of its establishment, the U.S. was the first national government to be based on this premise. Almost every government at that time revolved around some sort of aristocracy or other hereditary hierarchy, and the idea of people’s inequality was common.
The U.S. system of government was set up precisely to reflect this new idea of equality and the way people operate. By including debate and free speech, it allowed for self-correction and for new ideas to emerge. The checks and balances of the three branches of government, elections, and the rule of law — so that the law applies the same to everyone, no matter who or what he is — was “the structure of government best calculated to preserve [these rights]” (Thomas Jefferson letter to Isaac A. Tiffany). The link of equality to the U.S. system of government was key to the government’s legitimacy and effectiveness.
Equity, in the social justice meaning, would have the government treat people differently, because people are unequal. It measures equality, as economists do, only in terms of wealth, status, and other external goods. It changes the purpose of government from applying laws equally to focusing on the divisions between people, pitting them against each other for the distribution of resources. It gives government agents a breadth of power to exercise their fallible judgment over every aspect of ordinary life.
And who is government? It is individual people, elected or most often simply employed, who are able to wield its coercive powers. Susan Rice and other such employees, fallible, partial, and biased human beings like everyone else, have the power to decide which people need equity and what form that equity will take. They have chosen “LGBTQ+” and “people of color” as “marginalized.” The first is prima facie vague (“+”), and the current definition of “people of color” seems to be anyone who either has no European DNA or has some but doesn’t look European (except for Latinos, who can have 100% European DNA but somehow count). Such are those whose “equity” will be advanced by “the whole of our government.”
The problem with seeking equity in the social justice meaning is that it is an impossible task. It goes against the fundamental nature of human mental faculties, the means by which everyone comes up with ideas, thoughts, and other ways of acquiring differing amounts of wealth and status. There will always be a Beyoncé or a Bezos — a person whose skills and perhaps appearance make many people willing to hand him money for what he produces, or a person whose ideas, luck, maybe skill at management lead people to choose to use his services and make him rich. No matter how much you force people to be uniform, inequalities will emerge from their abilities, strengths, weaknesses, personality, or luck.
No nation or system of government is perfect, but the idea of equality has done far more for people than the idea of equity and its lamentable history. This equality is not the kind that equity can never have; it is what every citizen already 0.000. This equality takes into account the imperfections of the human way of operating by allowing for free thought, free speech, control over whom they elect, and an adversarial system of government where opposition and debate are the norm. It is this equality that is at the core of the Constitution and which should be at the core of every agency, not the equity Susan Rice espouses.
D. Lewis, American Thinker