The Equity Paradox

If a society strives to achieve “equity” for every citizen merely by providing equal opportunity, then it will have to accept unequal outcomes. If a society does not accept unequal outcomes, then it will have to provide unequal opportunities. That is a circle that cannot be squared. Societies must choose one or the other.

This paradox is denied by every major institution in America. Implicit in that denial is the fantasy that designing a society to favor certain groups in order to achieve equality of outcome will not fatally undermine the cohesion and vitality of the overall society. Theoretically, it might have worked several decades ago, when “disadvantaged” groups constituted a minute percentage of the American population. Offering special benefits and privileges to a small fraction of the population may have been a manageable burden. But today, the vast majority of Americans belong to a so-called “protected status group.”

The magnitude of this shift in just 6 decades bears enumeration. In 1960, at the dawn of the modern civil rights movement, the population of the United States was 89 percent white. The social justice programs that were launched at that time, affirmative action and the war on poverty, had an impact – for good or ill – that was limited. If affirmative action released unqualified students into elite universities, or unqualified engineers and executives into upper management, it only represented a 10 percent displacement. If welfare and other programs initiated by the war on poverty destroyed the work ethic […] Read More