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Equality of result versus equality of opportunity

In brief
  • Equity means equality of results. Equality means equality of opportunity. 
  • If results are not equal, the argument is there is something systemically wrong (eg. discrimination). 
  • Equity’s “go to” solution is to let supposed disadvantaged groups “cut the line” in some way.   
  • There could be all kinds of reasons for unequal results, but true believers in equity aren’t interested in nuances.

Equity is not based on merit

On the one hand, equity is defined as fairness and justice in process and outcomes. This is so subjective it is nearly meaningless. Equity is really about outcomes. On the other hand, equality of opportunity is the idea that whatever is at stake should be awarded on the basis of talent, effort and achievement.

Equality of result versus equality of opportunity - Centrist
Discriminating against some to advantage others is not a solution to solving inequity.

Equity calls for lowering standards for those from the favoured group so they can more easily meet them. This is always at a cost to someone else who is then bumped out at the end of the line. This is justified by the “original sin” type argument. That is, whether one knows it or not, they are part of a group that has transgressed against the other group. Therefore, it is fair for them to suffer in return. This is the reasoning behind the “white privilege” argument. 

Achieving equity means replacing what is arguably tilted one way with a definite tilt the other way

Equity essentially swaps one form of discrimination for affirmative action on behalf of the supposed disadvantaged group. This seems to many like another form of discrimination. However, they refuse to call it discrimination. Instead they justify it with arguments such as “there is no such thing as prejudice from the supposed disadvantaged group to the supposed privileged group.” 

NZ media features a lot of gushing articles about the “merits” of equity and often wonders who could  disagree? That is because the person writing the article so believes in their political bent that they think it is widely held. 

Lots of real world examples-let’s look at University of Otago med school

University of Otago academics, in a report for the New Zealand Medical Journal, opine that “barriers” to upper education including meritocracy and an ideology of white supremacy are “well camouflaged”. 

One of those academics is Professor of Public Health, Peter Crampton. He is one of the main architects of that University’s Mirror on Society policy. A staunch supporter of affirmative action and equity programs, he calls good grades an “artefact”. 

He says, without irony, “Medicine does not need society’s brightest students” in defending Māori, Pasifika and other student quotas met through significantly lower grade requirements.

In response to a question about a Pākehā student turned down despite having higher grades he says “explore other options”. 

Should public universities be making these sorts of “equity” decisions or should such impactful decisions for the use of public resources  be made by the central government?

Why does anyone think double standards are the solution?

American attorney and author Heather Mac Donald is a fierce critic of equity policies. She says having double standards for medical competence, engineering, chemistry etc. is not the solution. The US Supreme court has recently agreed with her, overturning decades of precedent allowing this. 

Those benefiting from preferential treatment may end up in an environment for which they are not competitively qualified, says Mac Donald. This can end up with the standards, overall, being reduced. Also, people dealing with that minority in future can end up being leery about their qualifications.

The reason some think double standards are the solution is because that is just the way they think.

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