The Injustice of Biden’s Equity Agenda
In a move that has critics crying “socialism,” the Biden administration created a new policy that will raise mortgage fees on low-risk borrowers so high-risk borrowers can pay less. The most affected group, those with credit scores between 720 and 759 who also have a downpayment of 15% -20%, would pay an additional $3,200 in fees.
Unlike other left-wing economic plans which transfer money from the wealthy to the poor, under this scheme, borrowers with good credit will pay more even if they have less money. In a sane world, this makes no sense. We understand that lending money comes with risk, and borrowers come with different risks. Someone who has paid their bills on time for the past 30 years presents less risk than a recent high school graduate. But we no longer live in a sane world, we live in a world led by those who want every group to experience the same outcome. They call it “equity.”
We’re very familiar with this dynamic when it comes to categories like race, sex, religion, and the suite of LGBTQ identity categories. Applicants to medical school are rewarded and punished based on their skin color as much as their competency, and male-dominated professions like computer science are seen as evidence of sexism, not evidence that women like different things.
The Biden administration’s new mortgage fee policy is just an extension of this logic as they attempt to “level the playing field” so those with bad credit will have the same outcome as those with good credit. What everyone other than the most zealous equity advocates immediately recognize, however, is that this playing field should not be leveled. We do not want to live in a world where responsible people are treated the same as irresponsible people. While equity demands groups be treated similarly, justice demands individuals be treated as individuals. This is why none of us would hire a convicted sex-offender to babysit our children.
We have a criminal justice system because we understand some individuals deserve to walk about freely in society, while others do not. While we should acknowledge the unfortunate ways race and wealth have been relevant in the criminal justice system, we should also acknowledge the entire purpose of the criminal justice system is to treat people justly, not equitably. If we had a criminal equity system instead, we would rotate people in and out of prisons based on their age, sex, or race — regardless of their criminal history — to ensure that no groups were over or under-represented in the prison population. An equity-based credit system is less harmful than an equity based criminal justice system would be, but it is just as unfair. So why do smart people propose it?
Modern sensibilities reject the idea that human nature is inherently sinful but acknowledge the world is broken. Since their starting assumption is that there’s nothing wrong with people, they blame the bad things people do on “systemic injustice.” The gospel tells us the systems will be fixed once hearts change, but modern progressivism tells us heart will change once the systems are fixed.
This is the reason Brandon Johnson, the recently elected Mayor of Chicago, came to the defense of hundreds of teenagers who destroyed property, beat bystanders, and got into gun fights with police in a recent Chicago riot. He said it was “not constructive to demonize youth who have been starved of opportunities.” If the problem is a lack of character, those kids need to take responsibility for what happened. If the problem is a lack of opportunity, everyone but the kids need to take responsibility for what happened.
Of course, there are things we can do to help each other. Life is a team sport best lived in community which means we each have power to help and harm each other. But when we misunderstand the source of our problems, we guarantee the solutions will be inadequate. The pursuit of equity discourages us from treating individuals based on the content of their character. Instead, it encourages us to see people primarily as members of a group and demands those groups be treated the same. So, we treat the guilty the same as the innocent and the capable just like we treat the less capable. And now we’re charging responsible people more for credit because it doesn’t feel right that one group should be treated differently than another.
It isn’t just or fair, but it is equitable.
Joseph Backholm is Senior Fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement at Family Research Council.