Equality vs. Equity

“We are all equal, but some of us are more equal than others”

I recently read a quote about how the law treats everyone equally – the rich as well as the poor are prohibited from begging and living on the streets, a rough reminder of the difference between equality and equity.

Of course, the current “health care reform” fast footwork in Congress is another, perhaps more immediate for some, example that we are all to be treated equally before the law. The wealthy as well as the poor are equally required to have health insurance. If your employer doesn’t provide it, you must purchase it from an insurance company. I assume that if you are already enrolled in Medicare, that counts. I don’t know if that means that you will now be required to also enroll in all the parts of Medicare.

This blatant strong-arming to force everyone to buy health insurance on the open market, or pay a fine, is a product of heavy corporate lobbying. By the way, lobbying is another example of equality before the law: we all have an equal right to pay a few hundred thousand dollars a year to keep a full time lobbyist in Washington to convince legislators to pass legislation that represents our interests. Of course, most of us can’t write it off as a business expense…

Now, equity, on the other hand, would prevent one group of people (corporations, the wealthy, religious groups, environmentalists, etc.) from having more influence on legislation than individuals. Sounds kind of subversive, doesn’t it?

Does equity, instead of equality, sound like a great idea? Well, keep in mind that the essence of democracy is the right to be wrong, and we live in the most democratic nation in history. Just ask us.

What do you think?