51 Comments
May 8, 2023Liked by Robert F. Graboyes

You have written such a clear explanation of what’s wrong with the equity idea! I hope this column gets a wide distribution.

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author

Thanks! Spread it around!

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The short guy is incentivized to build boxes to stand on, or to pay the tall guy to give him a play-by-play. Waiting for The Benefactor (i.e. Congress) guarantees the game will be several weeks over before boxes are delivered.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it; those who can are condemned to watch others repeat it.

(And proofreader note: there appears to be at least one word missing in "Problem #6.")

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But there's an extra word in Problem #8, so we have equity, overall!

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May 9, 2023Liked by Robert F. Graboyes

Bravo! Excellent piece. I would have added another alternative in which the tall guy doesn't leave (perhaps he's not allowed to) but has his legs below the knees sawed off and attached to the short guy.

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author

I saw a version recently where the talk and medium had their legs cut off so they equalled the short guy.

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May 10, 2023Liked by Robert F. Graboyes

The Ancient Greeks had the legend of Procrustes, an evil innkeeper who would cut the legs of anyone too long for his bed, and stretch anyone too short. This, and a litany of other evils, discovered by Zeus and Hermes in disguise, prompted them to wipe out humanity with a flood. Maybe there ought to be a panel 3. featuring divine inundation as a response to panel

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I know Procrustes well. I always thought it would be a great name for a hotel chain. If only they had had Yelp reviews, he never would have gotten so far.

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May 10, 2023Liked by Robert F. Graboyes

He got Yelp reviews all right...

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author

😂🤣😆

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May 9, 2023Liked by Robert F. Graboyes

Don’t have the word-count, but Kurt Vonnegut well described this persistent folly in Harrison Bergeron

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May 9, 2023Liked by Robert F. Graboyes

Appalling. Incomprehensible.

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I graduated from GWU's public health program in 2015. My focus was on health policy, which at that time I was taught a different definition of "equity." Equity in the public policy setting was defined as evenly benefiting all stakeholders impacted by the policy. This was a fundamental concept in weighing the quality of a policy or intervention independent of any underlying social inequities or inequalities. It was understood that a failure to be mindful of this could result in a preventable increased inequality, unintended consequences, & potentially worse net outcome than had there been no intervention at all. For example, it is socially unfair (inequitable) that not all kids are born to wealthy parents, however passing a policy to make all parents who have children equally wealthy would not be equitable policymaking. This would result in massive intervention-induced social inequities and unintended negative consequences. In 2015 when I was a student there was an understanding that life will never be completely fair, but government should strive to be.

To be clear, I'm not suggesting that there aren't appropriate times for government to intervene and ask some people to sacrifice in order to help other disadvantaged people. I support many such efforts both privately and through government efforts. Part of living in a society TOGETHER is that we SHOULD be trying to help one another. It is mutually beneficial to do so. However, government is a powerful axe to swing, and it should not be wielded in haste. We must be cautious with the application of forceful government interventions and remember that constitutionally we are all equal under the law.

If you lookup the definition of "equity" it will say something along the lines of "fair; without favoritism; freedom from bias." The current equity vs equality debate reminds me of the 3-month public health debate we had in 2021 about appropriate use of the words "isolation" vs "quarantine". I think we can care for one another with honest intention and understanding without mincing words or mind-bending philosophical definitions & concepts.

In summary, as a society we can continue working on public interventions that will make the country better (remembering some problems have no perfect solution) so long as we stay focused on maximizing political equity of those interventions as much as able and make best efforts to minimize unintended consequences and harm to others along the way.

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Excellent post. I taught in GWU’s School of Public Health. MHSA program. One of the best teaching gigs I ever had.

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May 10, 2023Liked by Robert F. Graboyes

Government should strive to be fair in its actions, something which can be measured, not to impose 'fairness,' which cannot even be rationally defined. Using government to 'fix' society is like using a lump-hammer to fix a spider web.

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author

You can define “fairness,” but only if you’re willing to be unfair in define it. :)

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May 9, 2023Liked by Robert F. Graboyes

Harrison Bergeron ... Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

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May 9, 2023Liked by Robert F. Graboyes

Et Sic Fiat😏

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May 9, 2023Liked by Robert F. Graboyes

The biggest source of inequality in the US is the public school educational system. I think no one believes that all children receive the same quality of education. That discrepancy puts some so far behind that they will never catch up.

Yet no one in the left seems to care about doing anything creative ( school choice, decrease influence of unions, etc) to equalize educational opportunity. It would almost seem as if the inequality is a feature that allows the left to have an “issue” with which to beat the right. How cynical!

Just like you are not an environmentalist if you are against nuclear power, you are not concerned about equality if you are against school choice.

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May 9, 2023·edited May 9, 2023Liked by Robert F. Graboyes

There's also the problem that the contexts in which "equity" is even pursued or promoted as a goal are cherry-picked. Mr. Short might get a platform to boost him above the fence at the ballgame, but when it comes time for the limbo contest Mr. Tall is on his own.

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author

OK. You win the Internet today.

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May 9, 2023Liked by Robert F. Graboyes

The biggest problem with that stupid comic is that "capitalism" is the source of boxes and "regulation" makes fences taller.

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author

Yup! In the Apple-tree version, the government gives the kid a ladder, but he’s too stupid to use it. So then they give him a taller ladder, and he’s still too stupid. So then, they bend the tree, and magically, that makes extra apples grow on the stupid kid’s side.

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May 9, 2023Liked by Robert F. Graboyes

The actual problem is that all 3 are the same height. Mr Tall worked hard to make stilts and learned to use them so he had a clear view over the fence. Ms. Medium worked a less hard and bought a box she could stand on so she could barely see over the fence. Mr. Short demands that thugs take Ms. Medium's box and Mr. Tall's stilts and give them to him so he can stand on the box while using the stilts, and that Mr. Tall and Ms. Medium be required to hold him steady so he gets a clear view and doesn't have to bother learning how to use stilts.

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I find the better analogy to be that you cut the legs off the tall guy give them to the short guy so that they’re all the same height

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May 9, 2023Liked by Robert F. Graboyes

It's important to remember that for the Utopians, the goal isn't helping people out. The goal is to have power and control over all the resources so you can distribute them to your allies and withhold them from your enemies.

It's always about the power. Nothing else.

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author

My traditional metaphor was that of a deranged Boy Scout who helps elderly people across a busy highway they had no desire to cross.

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author

But Bastiat's Window is a family publication. :) In reality, if it were only about the power, the problem might be manageable. But in fact, it is also a matter of ignorant altruism. In an upcoming article, I quote St. Teresa of Avila, who said, "God save us from gloomy saints!"

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May 9, 2023Liked by Robert F. Graboyes

Or “Problem 1A” the Omniscient saw the legs of the tall person and clumsily graft them on the shorter people (those boxes gotta come from somewhere).

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author

Indeed!

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Of course as various people have pointed out the whole peering over the fence to watch the game thing means that none of the people there have paid for tickets to the game

https://meme.aho.st/equality-equity/

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author

Ha! So I’m not the first to think of the tickets angle. :)

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And the reality is that if some people - whether tall, medium, or short - were watching a baseball game over the fence without paying, the management would build a taller fence.

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author

Yes they would. :)

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