May I draw your attention this week to the word “equity,” the increasingly popular idea that in American culture it’s not enough to maintain a society of opportunity, it must also have “equity.”
Exactly what “equity” might look like in a free America is blurry. I was on a website recently that took a stab at defining it.
Marin County, just north of San Francisco is a super-wealthy enclave. Politicians there are either left-left of center or left-left-left of center. I’m not making a judgment about that, I’m just giving you the lay of that woke land.
Anyway, Marin County – which is almost exclusively white – has an Equity Task Force and members of that task force have defined what equity means to them.
The definitions range from aspirational to kooky.
For example, one member said equity means “I can live and thrive anywhere I choose to in Marin County.” I’m down with that. That vision is the magic that makes America the place most people in the world want to come to live.
But another articulated equity as “Working People of Color will be paid enough in whatever jobs they hold to be able to afford quality housing in any neighborhood of their choice in Marin.”
Any job? Any neighborhood? Whoa, that’s quite a dream, comrade.
Here’s the math on what that would mean, exactly.
In Marin County you are considered low income if you make less than $150,000 a year. Digest that first. Then, consider that the median price of a detached home is $1.7 million.
If “equity” means all jobs must pay enough to foot that mortgage, Marin needs a minimum wage of around $1,000 an hour. (It’s currently $15 per hour, by the way.)
Look, I’m all for creating an environment rich in opportunity to make enough to foot a $1.7 million mortgage. If that’s what you aspire for, then do it. But creating a system in which “any job” would pay you that much, well that doesn’t sound particularly like an American ideal to me.
The Nevada Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee just spent $585 million in federal relief dollars from the so-called American Rescue Plan. About half of it is going to refurbish or build low-income housing in the state and half to expand access to broadband internet.
I hope someone makes sure those federal dollars actually achieve the stated goals. I’m not talking about doing the accounting to make sure X amount of dollars went to X company. I’m talking about making sure that the money actually increases substantially the amount of low-cost housing in all of Nevada. I’m talking about being able to use your computer in Ely without having to shave again before the “wheel of death” disappears from your computer screen.
In my many years in Nevada, I’ve seen billions of dollars flow from Carson City, accompanied by lofty press releases. Some of it is well spent. Some of it is just, well, spent. It feeds the bureaucracy, without making a discernible dent into the problem politicians alleged it to solve.
ONE MORE THING
- Someone said “thirty years ago” and my mind went “ah, yes, the 1970s,” but they meant 1992. Now I need a lie down.
- After arguing for an hour with a man who said I was in his seat he said: “OK, you fly the plane.”
- The swordfish has no natural predators … except the penfish, which is said to be even mightier.
Thanks for reading. Until next week, avoid soreheads, laugh a little and always question authority.
(“Properly Subversive” is commentary written by Sherman R. Frederick, a Nevada Hall of Fame journalist and co-founder of Battle Born Media, a news organization dedicated to the preservation of community newspapers. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)