The topic of equality of outcome (sometimes also treated as equity) comes up fairly frequently in our world today. It is something that a lot of people seem to think is achievable. I contend it is not. What we can strive for is equality of opportunity. Equality of outcome cannot be guaranteed and when it comes to the lives of people is impossible. I've mentioned before that I can prove this.
I will go ahead and do that in this post in a very simple fashion.
Let's start out simple. The more variables you add in the more unlikely you are to see equality of outcome. We will begin with a situation where it can sometimes occur. For all of the above we will begin using the grid I provided above.
Here are the rules for this simple reality:
- There are two (you can do more if you want) people. I will call them A and B in this example.
- Each person starts at a random location in life. This can be determined by rolling two six sided dice and adding them together to get horizontal cell position and doing the same for vertical position. They cannot stand on top of each other so if you happen to roll the same position for each of them reroll one of them because in life we cannot occupy the same physical space at the same time.
- Each person can move 1 cell per turn. In life they would move simultaneously and if you want to simulate this without turns then simply give them exactly the same movement rate (speed) and simulate it. For this example though I am going to use turns and you can simply imagine it being simultaneous.
- The outcome that is desired is to be the first person to reach the square that is labeled GOAL. It can only be used by one person.
Give it a try...
Unless the people start at exactly the same distance from the goal they will never be equal in outcome. For them to be equal of outcome we will have to imagine that both turns for players were resolved at the same moment and equality of outcome would appear in the form of a tie. For only a tie would assume both of them could reach the GOAL at the same time.
The majority of the times equality of outcome would not occur. In this simple example where A and B are brought into being we cannot guarantee equality of outcome. Just like in life where you are born will change your outcome.
In life there are an incredible number of variables. Every variable added to the simulation decreases the likelihood of being able to guarantee equality of outcome.
In the example above in step 2 when you find the position let's add another step there. Roll a six sided dice and take roll of 1-3 to be speed 1, and roll of 4-6 to be speed 2. Just like genetics in life some people can run faster, think faster, or have other advantages (or disadvantages) simply due to the nature of their birth. It is not a choice. Though with hard work they can often overcome these things. The fact they had to work hard at it when someone else does not to achieve the same results kind of defeats the equality of outcome as well. The argument is generally that one person has something someone else shouldn't and somehow we should make that not be the case.
You now have the speed and can repeat the experiment as often as you like with one person possibly being able to move either 1 or 2 speed when they want to because their top speed is 2. This will change the likelihood of equality of outcome being possible to being even more unlikely. It is certainly not guaranteable.
Life is many orders of magnitude more complex than this example:
The more complex the system the more difficult it is to guarantee or predict. Stochastics (aka chaos theory) supports this as we study seemingly chaotic systems like fractals, weather, etc.
You likely have by this time encountered the saying "A butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon and changes the weather somewhere else on the planet."
This may seem unlikely and seem silly to some of you. Yet it is intended to represent just how complex weather actually is. That wind from the wings bounces into some particles/molecules down there which move another way, and by the ripple effect eventually a simple molecule somewhere else on the planet being shifted a little bit might cause a complex system to move slightly different which might be significant enough to change the entire outcome. That is how complicated all the variables that go into weather are.
Yet I'd contend weather is less complicated than people.
Like weather we can go off of probabilities and perhaps get more and more better at predicting potential outcomes. We cannot guarantee them.
The push for equality of outcome is an illusion. It is an emotional appeal they use to manipulate us and make us view people with envy, or anger based upon what they have or do not have in life. Equity as a movement is a lie.
What can be achieved...
We can strive towards Equality of Opportunity. This means we can try to present as many opportunities to all people as possible. We can put the doors there in front of them. We cannot guarantee they all can walk through each of those doors as effectively or easily as some people. We can only present the door. We also cannot guarantee that everyone will want to go through the same doors. It will be a choice. If you choose a door that I choose not to go through then the outcomes for you will certainly be different than for me. The key is that we want as many of those choices as possible to be available to people.
Why do I say "strive towards" instead of guaranteeing we can provide all opportunities. Because I consider opportunity as infinity. It is a goal post we will always be striving towards.
We may have inaccessible buildings for example that a person in a wheel chair cannot get in. We build ramps that they can use and anyone else can use. We create an opportunity for them to enter that building.
Some people are healthier than others. We come up with exercises, training, and diet that are available to anyone. If they choose to take the opportunity to do that their health may be improved and in the long run it could end up being healthier than the people that were healthier than them before without training.
We can strive towards equality of opportunity. I think we should. We cannot and should not control the throw of the dice for people.