Back in 2019, as the race for the Democratic nomination for president was shaping up, the field was heralded as the most diverse in history. But when the dust settled, it was the old white guy who had once palled around with segregationists who came away with the prize. The Joe Biden administration is making up for his paleness now by making race and identity the grand unifying principle of its approach to everything. If they succeed, the results will be a disaster.
The administration has identified four emergencies facing the nation that it seeks to prioritize. One is racism itself; the other three are COVID-19, the economy, and climate change. In all of these areas, Biden has promised to keep a laser focus on equity. It is important to realize that equity is not equality. The latter concerns itself with opportunities, the former with outcomes.
How do we know this? It’s right there in Biden’s executive order on equity. The order states, “Affirmatively advancing equity, civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunity is the responsibility of the whole of our Government.” It is telling that equal opportunity comes last and that equity comes first. Equity basically means that it is the job of the government to make sure that little or no disparities exist when comparing the outcomes of different demographic groups. It is an insane and dangerous fallacy.
Setting aside the notion that our government (and we ourselves) should be treating people as individuals, not as representatives of their demographic groups, there is a deeper problem with equity. This is that different demographic groups on average prioritize different things. Broadly speaking, a big reason why Asian students outperform white students is that their parents look at education in very different ways.
Many Asian parents prioritize education over other activities such as sports, religious training, or even just the basic notion of kids making their own choices. Ultimately, this leads to a situation in which Asian adults earn more on average than white adults. But this is not some disaster for white people that needs to be addressed.
There are groups that underperform in ways that really are a big problem. The situation of non-immigrant black Americans is unique in myriad ways. And the problems of the black community really are the heart of the equity concept. Nobody really cares if more Asians become doctors and more whites become plumbers, but we do and should care that for far too many in the black community, poor educational options, joblessness, and incarceration exist at levels that truly are an emergency. These problems must be targeted not in terms of how blacks compare to other groups, but rather on the basis of policy solutions that address their specific conditions.
Proponents of the concept of equity often use graphics or videos that show, for example, a white student winning a race against a black student because they have a head start. There is some truth to this idea, but we have to ask if it is possible or even desirable for every person to have the same starting position. For example, one of the greatest predictors for educational and economic success is a two-parent household, but there is no way for the government to ensure all kids begin at that particular starting line. In order to create equity, or at least the illusion of equity, the state would have to remove all children from their households and raise them separately in an equal environment.
But even this would not solve the problem as some kids would have higher IQs, some a facility for music, some high spatial recognition skills, and some greater strength and agility. At the end of the day, for the government to ensure equal outcomes for demographic groups would require equal outcomes for basically everyone individually as well. This is because creating equity requires taking agency away from both the underperforming and overperforming groups.
To the black community, proponents of equity say, “You have no control over your situation,” usually, they argue, because of deep-rooted systemic racism. To the Asian community, they say, “We have to take away control from you because you are doing too well,” as in cases where Asian students lose academic opportunities because of affirmative action. Curiously though, Asian Americans are specifically mentioned in the executive order as a marginalized community that must also be protected from structural racism.
Tilting at the windmills of equity is an impossible task. The only economic and political system that even contemplates the possibility is communism. And that is why placing equity at the center of literally every political decision the Biden administration makes is an existential threat to the American dream, to individual liberty, and even to the family itself.
Equity and equal opportunity are fundamentally incompatible because equal opportunity cannot lead to equal outcomes. Equal outcomes can only be the result of a level of social engineering antithetical to the basic tenets of American society. Equity must be rejected, or quite soon we will no longer recognize our nation.