Equity - Equality what's the difference


Some opponents of democracy and its foundation stone, legal equality, argue that “equity must come first". It’s difficult to know what they mean by this.

Equity has two possible definitions – fairness or share of ownership.

1. Equity - Fairness
Fairness is a great ideal and as far as political systems go, democracy with its “one law for all” has proven to be the most effective way of delivering it. Everybody plays by the same legal rules and has the same voting power – which is fair!

But, say the equality opponents, life isn’t fair – some people are taller, smarter, fitter or can get a leg-up from wealthy families; others have physical or mental health issues, get made redundant or suffer other misfortune. That’s so true and that is why western democracies, such as New Zealand, try to help those in need with basic welfare provisions and private charitable support.

Of course this doesn’t always eliminate the problem and some people want more to be done; they say everyone and every outcome should be made to be equal. And that is the communist dream – a system in which all property is owned by the community and each person contributes and receives according to their ability and needs.

Unfortunately, history has demonstrated the utter incompatibility of humans with this idyllic vision. Communist countries/regions such as Soviet Russia, Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, Vietnam, Ethiopia and Venezuela have suffered completely broken economies and varying degrees of citizen rebellion.

Worse has been the unfettered power in the hands of a few, the inevitable corruption as a few enjoy excessive wealth at the expense of the workers, and the highly regimented lives where people have been be locked up for anything at all. With forced labour or “re-education” camps, violence or execution constant possibilities, citizens have lived in fear and real poverty with all motivation, creativity, intellectualism and joy crushed out of them.

So the communistic form of “equality” is certainly not an attractive alternative to democracy and one law for all.

2. Equity - Ownership
Ownership of public resources is the next claim for the “disadvantaged”. As New Zealanders, we all technically own public assets equally. But the opponents of democracy want more – not so much for all the disadvantaged, only for select tribal groups and the individuals who control them – and they have been getting it.

They are calling this process “cultural redress” (so it’s different from the quite valid Treaty Settlements which compensate for questionable land confiscations). It is, in effect, penalising other Kiwis for the fact that New Zealand was colonised by the British in the 19th century with some 500-600 often warring tribes agreeing to come together under one sovereign in return for legal equality, property rights, protection, education, healthcare and other advantages of western society.

The current government has been busy gifting public resources to various tribes and creating co-governance structures all over the place, thereby ensuring that these self-interest groups can appoint their people at the public’s expense to manage public resources and clip the ticket on public revenues.

Of course, this co-governance model is flawed too and runs counter to basic human psychology. Wherever power isn’t earned and cannot be publicly challenged and reallocated, wherever some people are given preference over others, wherever select groups can clip the ticket on others’ work, there will be corruption, resentment and, ultimately, unrest.

It means that Kiwis with one or more Maori ancestors will be locked into a tribe’s feudalistic structures if they want access to this privilege. And who wouldn’t - until resentment at kowtowing to the tribal kingpins kicks in and other Kiwis start to resent it?

While it’s understandable that the self-defined-race-based Maori Party is only focussed on its constituents’ desires, it’s astounding that the National Party would be so incredibly, selfishly short-sighted in obliterating our democracy in this way.

By giving free reign to this tribal quest for power and control over other New Zealanders, the National Government is damaging our well-integrated and egalitarian way of living, ruining community and race relations. It can only end in tears.

Race-based preference didn’t work in South Africa, and racial/tribal preference has certainly decimated Zimbabwe. Over 35 years, it has gone from having one of the most developed economies and effective state systems in Africa, to one of the poorest countries in the world with 95% unemployment, starvation, civil rights abuses, and rampant corruption.

Race-based preference doesn’t appear to be working here either. The more racial preference that’s been given, the higher the negative Maori statistics have climbed. It seems that such problems as crime and incarceration usually have their roots in family life, personal values and attitudes; none of which will be solved by taking equity from other New Zealanders and redistributing it to a few.

Legal Equality the Safest Way
It’s been stated many times and it’s true. New Zealanders live, love, work and play together to the extent that it is impossible to claim that “Maori” are a completely separate “party” or people. Most share bloodlines with all other New Zealanders. Many of our professional and business leaders, sports stars, artists, MPs and our recent Governor General (the highest office in the land) have some Maori ancestry. So what greater level of equality and equity is there?

Are the opponents of democracy really so blind or self-obsessed that they will put their own quest for wealth and power over what’s good for New Zealand and other New Zealanders? Do they really want our beautiful country to become the Zimbabwe of the South Pacific? It appears so.

If that’s the case, have mercy on us all.