EQUITY VERSUS EQUALITY — PART 1

What brought on this post? I listened to “A Broadcast with R.C. Sproul”, Economics. Here is a brief description of the broadcast from the website.

What does God say about economics? Today, R.C. Sproul provides us with four basic principles.

In his presentation, Sproul provides a excellent explanation of what the Bible has to say about economics. His presentation includes two ideas I believe we all need to understand:

  • What is the difference between equity and equality?
  • Why is Socialism destructive of productivity?

To get his take, please listen to Sproul’s broadcast. In this post and in Part 2, I will provide some of my own thoughts. In this post we will consider the difference between equity and equality. In Part 2 we will consider why Socialism is destructive.

The Difference Between Equity and Equality

Equity is a more complicated concept than equality. Whereas economic equality requires that everyone have the same amount of wealth, economic equity involves a distribution of wealth that is fair and just.  Unfortunately, some people want to change the dictionary. Hence, Wikipedia’s article on Equity (economics) begins like this.

Equity or economic equality is the concept or idea of fairness in economics, particularly in regard to taxation or welfare economics. More specifically, it may refer to equal life chances regardless of identity, to provide all citizens with a basic and equal minimum of income, goods, and services or to increase funds and commitment for redistribution. (continued here)

On the other hand, other Socialists borrow from Karl Marx.

From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs. (from here)

For example, some argue that the students who are furthest behind should receive the largest amount of government funding.

Here’s where equity comes in. The students who are furthest behind — most often low-income students and students of color — require more of those resources to catch up, succeed, and eventually, close the achievement gap. Giving students who come to school lagging academically (because of factors outside of a school’s control) the exact same resources as students in higher income schools alone will not close the achievement gap. But making sure that low-income students and students of color have access to exceptional teachers and that their schools have the funding to provide them with the kind of high-quality education they need to succeed will continue us on the path toward narrowing that gap. (from here)

Are the students who are furthest behind entitled to the most resources? Should the government tax us and redistribute our wealth based upon the needs of the needy? What is an equitable distribution of wealth? Who should “WE” appoint to decide and reallocate “OUR” wealth “equitably”? Doesn’t that depend upon how we define the words just and fair?

When a Socialist defines just and fair, what assumption does the Socialist begin with? Doesn’t the Socialist believe that “WE” jointly own everything? Therefore, when one of us tries to exercise our right to own private property, the Socialist calls exercising this right to own property privately selfish.

When the Capitalist defines just and fair, what assumption does the Capitalist begin with? Doesn’t the Capitalist believe that we each have the right to own private property? When one of us tries to exercise the right to own private property, what concerns the Capitalist?

  • We each must acquire our property justly and fairly.
  • We each must use our property justly and fairly.

Keep in mind that Socialists and Capitalists don’t necessarily have hugely different ideas about justice and fairness. The key difference lies in their approaches to ownership.

  • The Socialist balks at private ownership.  The Capitalist abhors the idea of Statism, putting the government in charge of everything.
  • In the name of compassion, insisting that it is just and fair, the Socialist wants government to distribute wealth, making CERTAIN the disadvantaged get their share. Because Socialism does not work and because government ownership is unjust and unfair to those who produce wealth, the Capitalist insists that those who produce a nation’s wealth should retain control over it distribution.

Contemplate that old tale, The Ant and the Grasshopper by Aesop. Imagine the horror of the Socialist. The grasshopper was left out in the cold to starve. Imagine a different tale.  As winter set in, at one anthill a committee of ants and grasshoppers resolved to save whatever grasshoppers they could save. The ants agreed to redistribute part of what they had gathered to the starving grasshoppers. Fortunately, there was just enough that winter for both the ants and the neighboring grasshoppers. The surviving grasshoppers joyfully spread the news to the next generation of grasshoppers. What happened? At the onset of the next winter untold hordes of grasshoppers arrived to beg at the door of the generous ants. Those ants saw the horde, shook with fright, and they left their door shut.

Who is right? What is the wisest solution? Is it Socialism, Capitalism, or something else? Sproul points to the wisdom contained in Bible. Please consider listening to his broadcast.

To Be Continued.  The title of Part 2 will be: Socialism is Destructive Of Productivity.

 

20 thoughts on “EQUITY VERSUS EQUALITY — PART 1

  1. Thought provoking subject. Looking forward to your next post. In my opinion, we need to be empathetic to the poor and needy, yet wary of being fools taken advantage of by leeches.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m an advocate of gray on this subject. As cost of education was part of the argement, allow me to stick with that subject for an example. Talent is distributed irrespective of the social and economic status of the parents, but it takes care, love and money to hone talent into skill. Maybe all your money is best invested in your child, maybe part of it would be better invested in a child 9 blocks down the road, which allows him/her to hone his/her skills and found that new company, where your child will find his/her job. As important as individuality is for humans, we thrive in groups, where we complement each other. Giving others a leg up now, may well benefit you and yours in the future. One could call this trickle-down. 😉 The difficulty is finding the right balance between “mine is mine, get off my lawn” and “everything I have is yours”.

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    1. @marmoewp

      Don’t disagree with the concept of helping children get a leg up. My concern is whether the government is the appropriate vehicle for such things.

      My guess is that you have a good background in mathematically modelling systems. I think you would agree that systems work the way they work, not the way we want them to work. To get a system to work the way we want it to work is not always easy.That includes social systems.

      As a single group, we could (as most nations actually have) put the government in charge of distributing funds (and operating schools) for educational purposes. Or we could leave the matter to the discretion of private interests, which is a choice almost all of the wealthy exercise as well as many who don’t trust government-run schools.

      What is the priority of elected officials? Their major concern is getting reelected. Because of all the special interests trying to live off the government, the funds spent by politicians are often poorly spent. Instead of being spent for the benefit of educating children, for example, the funds disproportionately benefit organized political constituencies. Can we get rid of organized political constituencies? No.

      What is the priority of parents? Generally, whether their children are brilliant or not, parents strive to get their children a decent education. Are parents always wise about this matter? No. However, the vast majority of us will copy what seems to be working for someone else. That scheme for choosing the best product (education included) actually seems to work well.

      What is the priority of educational charities? That depends. Some focus on helping those children they deem most likely to make use of a good education. Others have religious objectives. Some focus on the poor and disadvantaged. Different people have different interests and priorities.

      If the government is allowed to control funding, funds will be allocated based upon political pressures. If the private sector is allowed to do its thing, everyone will have the opportunity to spend the money they earn as they deem appropriate. Instead of trusting politicians to decide what is the most equitable use the educational funds, the people who earn the money decide.

      Which scheme is most equitable? The later, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If the private sector is allowed to do its thing, everyone will have the opportunity to spend the money they earn as they deem appropriate.

        In that case the educational prospects of the children will basically depend on the economic power of their parents, even with a few stipends from wealthy philantropists thrown in here and there.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. @marmoewp

          In that case the educational prospects of the children will basically depend on the economic power of their parents, even with a few stipends from wealthy philantropists thrown in here and there.

          How does putting the government in charge help? When the government runs anything, we see:
          1. A huge waste of money. That is always the case when people spend somebody else’s money on somebody else.
          2. Ideological indoctrination. The people who run the government crave the power to tell other people what to believe. That interferes with religious freedom.

          Before our government stuck its nose into the education business, the literacy rate in America was over 90 percent. Some how the people of this country managed to set up a constitutional republic. Now we have become such numbskulls we are terrified by the prospect of a convention of the states. Because we know how poorly we are educated, we don’t trust the people we elect.

          Anyway, setting up a government-owned/government-run education is overkill. In order to make certain the poor get a decent education, government has to own and run the system? That’s nonsense!

          Liked by 1 person

        2. The current voucher scheme has parents opting for a ticket to spend on the school of their choice, or homeschooling.

          • The ticket is to spend their portion of the money already taken, which would be deducted from that portion allocated to the neighborhood-based school, so it is no cost to the revenue.

          • For alternate schools and homeschooling both, there are excellent online resources available. I’ve been reviewing history and math homeschooling alternatives (mostly history) and I’ve been very favorably impressed. At least they will learn some history, and not limited to Howard Zinn’s Marxist take on America.

          • As a result, the parents do not have to become experts (not that current teachers are!) to do homeschooling.

          • And “public” schools, thrust partially into the free market, will suddenly be pressured to become competitive. The European schools doing this are surviving that pressure and improving as a result.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Vouchers are definitely a suitable compromise. What is sad is that the Democrats have no intention of compromising, no desire to be reasonable. What is sad is they cannot explain why they won’t compromise.

          Like

        4. In 1998 a review of research on school voucher systems worldwide was funded by the NZ Council for Educational Research.
          From its summary:


          • Institutional competition on its own does not play the dominant role in educational quality, achievement, or access. It does not increase innovation, diversity, or the access of low income students to schools with high intakes of higher income students.
          • Increasing competition among schools for students and funding can benefit only a small minority of students, at the expense of the majority.
          • Increasing competition among schools can lead to lower student achievement in schools serving students from low income homes, thus depressing overall achievement levels

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        5. @marmoewp

          There is a point where we have to listen to the assertions people make based upon “research” and just roll our eyes. Some research is just obviously dead wrong.

          When we go out and buy an automobile, we don’t buy the car we want in a perfectly competitive market, but there is still substantial competition in the auto market. By comparison, public education is a monopoly. So that stupid study has hardly any data to work with.

          So what happens in the auto market? If a company makes autos nobody wants, that company soon goes out of business. So auto companies strive to make autos that people want. Since the customer, not the government, pays the bill, the auto companies try to please their customers. Strange concept for educators, is it not?

          Are there people who are willing to pay a lot of money for an auto? Yes.

          Are there people who can hardly afford to pay anything. Yes.

          So what happens? The auto companies build all kinds of different types of cars to satisfy different tastes and budgets. Are there still people who cannot afford to buy a car, people who cannot even drive? Yes and yes.

          Nevertheless, the vast majority of people benefit from competition. The rich get to drive luxurious autos that get them from point A to point B, and almost everyone else who wants an auto can buy one that accomplishes the same thing. Virtually nobody has to put up with Yugos designed by bossy politicians who more concerned about special interests than customers.

          Meanwhile, what about the people who still cannot afford an auto? What about the folks who cannot drive? Well, some how those people manage to survive, and they do so without auto manufacturers designing the entire system around a few people with special needs.

          Stop and think. Some people are blind. Are we going to poke everyone’s eyes out just to make them happy?

          When people have special troubles, the best thing to do is to find special solutions. Eventually, thanks to the innovation of private markets, the people who cannot drive an automobile will be able to use autos that drive themselves.

          The poor? They will always be with us, but private enterprise, not Socialism, helps to keep their numbers small.

          Like

        6. I guess, I’ll accept simply calling a study stupid as a convincing argument.

          The poor? They will always be with us, but private enterprise, not Socialism, helps to keep their numbers small.
          That worked so well before the advent of unions and government intervention, resulting in work safety regulations, working time regulations, laws against child labor, etc.

          As Mark Stanley put it succintly in his excellent comic Freefall
          “[People] wouldn’t be called human resources, if they weren’t meant to be strip mined.” 😉

          Like

        7. @marmoewp

          I did not call you stupid, and I did not call the people who did the study stupid. Instead of digging up studies that purport to show educational vouchers work, what I did is point to something in your own experience that demonstrates that allowing people to making their own choices using a Capitalist economic system works.

          What the proponents of the Socialist model abhor is allowing the rest of us the freedom to make our own choices. That is what you have been taught to ignore, for the sake of the poor, of course.

          What Socialists want is power over the choices of others. There is always some damned lie they use as an excuse. In this case, they use the plight of the poor as their excuse. Yet it is the poor who most crave to get out from under their control.

          We have abundant “success” models for how Socialist schools help the poor. We have the intercity schools in my country. The worst schools Washington DC metropolitan area are in our nation’s capital. What happened when some of the poor in DC were given educational vouchers? Those vouchers were in demand, but President Obama, for the sake of the poor, of course, killed the program.

          If anything traps people, it is a bad education. In the United States, incompetent, power mad politicians trap the poor in awful schools to keep them dependent. Over ninety percent of the blacks in this country vote Democrat. What do the Democrats do that is so wonderful for blacks? They keep them in rotten schools. They keep their neighborhoods crime-ridden and make their unborned babies the primary prey of abortionists, but they also make welfare available.

          Of course, because of the abortionists, Democrats have to import colored people from our south to replace the blacks, but these people also come from lands with “great” schools. So that’s no problem.

          What is/was the primary benefit of Socialist schools? Don’t children all get to learn the same wonderful truths? Don’t children learn to worship the almighty government? Doesn’t that makes everyone level and peaceable because we all believe the same stupid things?

          You want to visualize people being strip mined? Then examine the workings of a socialist/communist state. Check out a Nazi/communist concentration camp. Just keep in mind how well the prison guards were indoctrinated in Socialist, one true thought dominated school systems. Didn’t the goodhearted tyrants make every effort to make certain everyone believed and did what was politically correct, that is, know and practice the “truth” as defined by those in charge?

          Like

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