It depends what you mean by “equity”.
“Equity” has traditionally been interchangeable with “equality”, “the quality of being fair and impartial.” But in the past decade, “equity” has taken on two different meanings, one bad and one good.
The bad meaning: “equity” = equal outcomes.
This approach assumes that inequality of outcomes between groups is always caused by racism.
We see this approach in the Biden administration’s pronouncements re. DEI, “diversity, equity, and inclusion”. It usually comes packaged with other concepts, some I accept (systemic racism, although I wish I could change the term), others I find damningly problematic or destructive (e.g., race essentialism), etc.
No actor, including government, is powerful enough to guarantee outcomes. Life is too complicated, our knowledge and ability to control too limited, and our tools (especially government’s tools) are too blunt and compromised to accomplish this.
(This is essentially “the knowledge problem” that Hayek discusses.)
The good meaning: “equity” = seeking to equalize resources.
Here is an example of a GOOD equity approach.
- In some places, the schools (or the parents) can afford to provide SAT coaching for their high school students. Their graduates receive more scholarship dollars and better college admissions than the average.
- In other places, the schools (or the parents) can NOT afford to provide SAT coaching for their high school students. Their graduates receive fewer scholarship dollars and lesser college admissions than the average.
An equity solution–a GOOD equity solution to this situation, I think–would be to provide money so that the economically disadvantaged schools can provide SAT coaching for their high school students. It doesn’t completely level the playing field, but it helps.
As I said, reality is too complicated and our tools are too blunt to equalize outcomes. But if we pursue good equity solutions, governments and NGO’s will focus funding and action narrowly, ideally on equalizing ONE resource (or a small handful of resources) that would seem to make a difference.
Test it and see if it helps. If it helps, keep doing it. If it doesn’t help, dustbin that approach and try something else.
The problems aren’t going away, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try something else if the first proposal doesn’t work. “The problems you will always have with you,” to misquote Jesus.
(Yes, the existence of systemic racism is undeniable.)