Vote ‘No’ on the three dangerous ‘equity’ proposals on NYC ballot

Life in New York is difficult. Why should voters make it worse by approving three corrosive — and potentially dangerous — changes to the City Charter on the Nov. 8 ballot?

They should not.

The measures, a parting gift from a mayor who made almost everything in his city worse, would amend the charter — effectively New York City’s constitution — to embrace “racial justice and equity” as a “stated value” of municipal governance.

So what’s wrong with “equity,” who’s against it — and why?

New Yorkers have heard this song before, in 2019, when a “racial justice and equity” argument supported the state penal-code “reforms” now driving the city’s crime wave. Does anybody think a second chorus would be a good idea?

Indeed, embracing “racial equity” as a municipal “stated value” could sink any realistic hope of rolling those “reforms” back. Beyond that, voter approval would undermine New York’s civil-service system, create discord in city offices and further hobble public education by further eroding objective scholastic testing.

At the same time — and maybe this is the real point — approval would mean a bonanza for the city’s activist lawyers, lobbyists and race-mongering advantage-seekers.

A “racial justice and equity” commission Bill de Blasio established as his dubious mayoralty was ending advanced the proposals; at the very least, they represent endnotes to a legacy of decay and decline.

Unsurprisingly, more of the same is baked into the proposals. (The first proposal on the ballot is a separate, statewide one.)

  • Question 2 seeks approval of a “statement of values” for the city. This declaration is throat-clearing, intended to set up the next proposal — which is where the trouble starts.
  • Question 3 requires the creation of a municipal agency specifically dedicated to achieving “racial equity” — in context, equality of outcomes — across all aspects of public life. It mandates unsound policy in pursuit of impossible goals — a recipe for bitterness and strife.
  • Question 4 would prohibit calculating the value of income-transfer benefits — including cash grants, food stamps and rent subsidies — in an individual’s income when determining eligibility for additional benefits. This would deepen social dependency in the name of “equity” and inflate poverty statistics, both long-term progressive objectives.

So there’s the package. The proposals are interlocking, each meant to bolster the others, creating a platform for multi-layered mischief.

Again, New York has a history of this sort of thing. Allegations of race-based disparities in arrest, conviction and incarceration rates animated the 2019 penal-law changes — even though there was virtually no proof innocent or undeserving people were going to prison.

A walking stick hangs on a privacy booth as a person votes during the New York City Mayoral election at PS 81 in Brooklyn, New York City, U.S. November 2, 2021.
Voters should look out for three dangerous proposals on the ballot in this upcoming election.
REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Thus is the word “equity” a polemical device, meant to deflect criticism when evidence of actual unfairness doesn’t exist. And in Question 3, it is used to support the notion that a proper role for government is to promote — if not compel — equal social outcomes. As opposed to opportunities.

In practical terms, Question 3 is an assault on the civil-service merit system — and, indeed, on merit-based government right across the board.

Each city agency would have its own “equity” sub-bureau; detailed goal-setting would be required — as would regular reporting of progress as defined by “equity” bureaucrats themselves.

The objective, again, is to use the force of law to erase race-based statistical “disparities.” No doubt some foolish people believe this is possible.

But it is not. Not in a dynamic, socially churning city of 8.4 million people. And even if it were, government-enforced race-based outcomes would stand on its head a foundational American principle: equality before the law.

Aerial view of NYC.
New York City is a dynamic city filled with 8.4 million people.
Getty Images

Yes, that goal has been elusive too — devilishly so — but it has been driving social progress for two-plus centuries. Who really thinks a formal embrace of spoils-system politicking, inevitably driven by race, ethnicity, personal privilege and greed, is a good idea?

To be sure, the civil-service merit system is embedded in the state Constitution — but to the activists that sort of thing is just a challenge, not an impediment.

The activists also view racialized public education and municipal procurement as positives — never mind decades of experience to the contrary. And then there were the 2019 “equity”-driven penal-law changes.

Really, who wants more of that?

There is, to paraphrase New York’s greatest modern mayor, no racialized way to pick up the refuse — that is, to run a functional government and to ensure a safe city.

Fiorello La Guardia made the wheels turn. Bill de Blasio caused them to fall off. Adopting the latter’s “equity” nostrums as a template for the future makes no sense at all.

So vote “No.”

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