The Concept of Equity is Not That Simple
November 15, 2016Categories: Uncomfortable Ideas,
The Dr. Bo Show with Bo Bennett, PhDThe Dr. Bo Show is a critical thinking-, reason-, and science-based approach to issues that matter. It is the podcast of social psychologist Bo Bennett. As of 2020, this podcast is a collection of topics related to all of his books.
A popular image that has been circulating the Internet shows the difference between the concepts of "equality" and "equity". Equal means the same, where equity means fairness. In the image, we can see the concept of equality on the left where each kid has the same size crate to stand on, although the smallest kid still cannot see the game. To the right, the concept of equity is illustrated where the tallest kid does not have a crate, the middle height kid has one crate, and the smallest kid has two crates. With this distribution, everyone gets to see the game and be happy. Unfortunately, equity in real life is not that simple.
Let's imagine this scenario: Those crates needed to be rented for the game. The shortest kid demanded that the tallest kid pay for one of his crates. Is this fair and just? It may be kind for the tallest kid to offer to pay for one of the crates, but should he be obligated to? This is more like the real situations that this image is used to represent, for example, wealth distribution. Do we tax the rich more so that we can give more to the poor? In real-world situations, we are taking something of value from one group, and giving it to another group. There are many good arguments for wealth distribution, but the term "equity" refers to fairness, and many people have a problem with the idea of taking from the rich to give to the poor as representing "fairness."
Uncomfortable Idea: Equity is synonymous with fairness, but not with wealth distribution or giving people who don't have a lot of stuff, free stuff. While there are many good arguments for wealth distribution, there are also many good arguments against it.