The Case Against Equity (Abridged)
Why we should toss this pseudo-value on the trash heap of history
I would like to invite you to join me in a thought experiment. Let’s imagine that Bill Gates and I have different modes of transportation. I drive a 2006 Toyota Prius. Gates has a private jet and a fleet of high-end cars. The inequity between us is enormous.
But it’s my lucky day! I was the contestant on a game show and I won a new car!
Now I drive a brand new Tesla. My life is even better. However, in that same time, Bill Gates doubled his number of cars and bought an additional private jet. The inequity between us has only increased.
Most would agree that I’m not unreasonable for seeing my new car as a net gain, even though in equity terms, it has been a net loss.
How could this be? How could the value in question be diminished while the overall quality of life for the people in question has only increased?
The answer is that the “value” in question — that is equity — has no necessary connection to human well-being at all. That, I will argue, presents us with a major problem.
The Definition of Values
Values should not be mysterious entities that we worship for no reason. They serve a useful purpose.
I define a value as a conceptual tool that enables us to improve the lives of people in the real world. This connection to human well-being can be seen in many basic values such as liberty, equality, love etc. The connection can even be seen in values such as truth or rationality since they allow us to improve well-being through science and other forms of scholarship.
My argument is that equity — defined as the equality of outcome rather than that of treatment or opportunity — doesn’t meet this definition.
Equity is a pseudo-value.
As a pseudo-value it is unnecessary, and if elevated above other values, is harmful.
Why Equity is Unnecessary
Thought Experiment #2: Value Jenga
Let’s imagine that we could re-create society by removing one and only one value from our value system…