Walking through Paris yesterday, I saw the following slogan daubed on a wall:
Coronavirus: Inequality Equals Comorbidity
I doubt that this was done by someone completely without education. Indeed, I would be prepared to place a small bet that, to the contrary, whoever did it had a university degree.
Nevertheless, what he wrote was not only inaccurate but inaccurate in a very significant way, insofar as it implied, and was intended to imply, that inequality was a factor that causes the illness occasioned by coronavirus.
Admirable Evasions: Ho... Best Price: $12.26 Buy New $13.35 (as of 11:00 EST - Details) It is true, of course, that the relatively poor in France, as elsewhere in the world, were more affected, and more severely affected, by it than the rich. There is nothing unusual in this: There are very few diseases, especially infectious, that strike the rich more and worse than the poor, and this is so even in countries that are rich overall.
The confusion is a common one. An analogous confusion is that between equity and equality, where by equality is meant equality of outcome. Medical journals are particularly prone to this confusion, or perhaps I should say (to be accurate) that I am particularly prone to notice it in them. A recent opinion piece in the Journal of the American Medical Association, written by an eminent black cardiologist in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, was only the latest to elide the two concepts. The Terror of Existenc... Best Price: $13.47 Buy New $14.96 (as of 03:14 EDT - Details)
Equity is the quality of fairness or justice (again, related concepts, but far from identical, it being unfair that I am not more handsome than I am, but not unjust). Equality is the identity of persons in some respect or other, and even where it is a reasonable aspiration, as in equality before the law, it is rarely fully accomplished in practice.
Furthermore, it is rarely acknowledged (though it is also perfectly obvious) that while equity and justice are desirable, they are not the only qualities that are desirable, and in some instances may actually be undesirable. We should always bear in mind Hamlet’s response to Polonius when the latter says that he will treat the actors who have come to Elsinore as well as they deserve: Use every man after his desert, and who should ’scape whipping? And if justice entails using every man after his desert, as surely it must, justice would require a universal whipping for Mankind, but few except evangelical sadomasochists would propose such an eventuality because it was in accordance with the dictates of justice.