You hear these terms thrown around all day long, but do you really know the difference between these two critical terms?
Equality basically means everyone is treated equally under the law. You may not start out with as much as someone else, but with hard work, you should prosper based on your own skills and effort to create a maximized outcome. With equality there is no guarantee of an equal outcome for all but the individual has the ability to set his own goals, succeed or fail on his own merits and keep the fruits of his labors.
Equity means, if you start out in life with less than others, it is the responsibility of “others” to “elevate” you to the same level as everyone else. Equity would create an equal outcome for all. What that equal outcome would be is unclear and who is responsible for determining it is likely a bloated government meaning the individual has no control over the outcome.
Synonyms for Equity include social justice, redistribution of wealth and socialism.
Here is a link to a really common visual depiction of the difference between equity and equality.
In the picture on the left three boys of different heights are attempting to look over a fence. All three boys are standing on a box of identical heights. The difference in the three boy’s height gives the tallest boy an advantage looking over the fence. This picture depicts “equality”.
In the picture to the right the boy of middle height still stands on a single box, while the tallest boy has no box because his box has been added to the shortest boy, who now has two boxes on which to stand to see over the fence. Thus all of the boys have an equally good view over the fence. This picture depicts “equity”. The solution to the problem seems perfectly reasonable, right?
But does this analogy hold up for more complicated things? For example how will equity be established, if some people have more financial resources than others?
Let’s say two boys have different amounts of money in their pockets. The boy with more money could create equity by CHOOSING to give enough of his money to the other boy until they each have the same amount of money. To achieve equity the boy with the greater amount of money DONATED his money VOLUNTARILY to the other boy to create equity. This, too, seems perfectly reasonable. This is called compassion.
But what if some outside party becomes aware that one boy had more money than the other boy and FORCED the boy with the greater amount of money to give to the other boy the appropriate amount of money to create equity? This certainly will also by definition create equity/social justice/redistribution of wealth but some would be inclined to instead call it theft and say it is a great injustice.
The reader should now see why every citizen needs to understand the difference between equity and equality. In a world run by equality every citizen should be equally protected by the law and able to make the greatest uses of their talents to enjoy life, liberty, and happiness. In a world run by equity those citizens, who have less, even if it is because they put no effort into improving their lives, would be entitled to reach into other citizens’ pockets to provide for their needs with the end result that everyone will be equally poor.
Further in a system based on equity some of the citizens will have contributed more to the system than others but will have some of the fruits of their labor taken from them and given those who produced less. This ultimately eliminates the desire to excel.
It could be easily argued America has already implemented many equity-based social programs, which have moved her quite far down the path towards socialism. All that is needed is to fully implement the Black Lives Matter and/or the Green New Deal along with reparations to totally convert America into a Socialist country.
Which path America takes will be decided by which citizens, those who favor equality or those who believe in equity, are willing to work harder on a daily basis to achieve their goal.