The Outstater

December 8, 2020

“The single most exciting thing you encounter in government is competence, because it is so rare.”  — Daniel Patrick Moynihan

ERIC HOLCOMB’S JOB seems to be to make the imagined world of his ruling political class palatable to us common zeks. As such, he is making a mess of it — particularly in the intractable matter of race relations.

A couple of weeks ago he named the state’s first-ever Chief Equity, Inclusion and Opportunity Officer, a guilt merchant out of that crucible of failed moral superiority, the modern university community. She immediately proclaimed that “this is an incredible opportunity to drive cultural change across state government workplaces and essential state services by increasing equity and inclusion.”

Hogwash. Culture is not defined by decree. Ask the Normans. And something as elusive as human equity cannot be achieved by fiat. Thomas Sowell wisely observed that children raised by the same parents are rarely equal. Indeed, none of us is equal to ourselves one day to the next.

Yet, for political appearance, Governor Holcomb would simplify this most complex issue. (If he is curious as to exactly how complex, we recommend Dr. Maryann O. Keating’s most recent analysis.) Holcomb has done nothing but issue a press release and add a layer of accounting to an already bloated government structure, one that now must count bureaucrats by skin pigment or some other irrelevant criterion.

For to prove his new cabinet-level appointment has made Indiana more inclusive, the governor must set the ratio of inclusive to non-inclusive. And if you think Indiana government is ineffective now, wait until it operates with every tenth person or so selected for employment or benefit by a factor detached from merit, contribution or even need.

Once the applause for the Chief  Equity, Inclusion and Opportunity Officer subsides, the sorry fact will remain that there are groups of Hoosiers falling behind not just in state government but because of state government. 

The social commentator Heather Mac Donald has made available a wealth of data on this point. It is enough to note here that the Brookings Institute estimates that the number of students in the group of primary concern to the new equity commissar has as few as 1,000 individuals nationwide with SAT scores of 750 or above. 

Mac Donald rightly doubts that such a number can proportionally fill the executive ranks in medicine, science, finance (or government) without lowering meritocratic standards.

Perhaps, then, we don’t need a Chief Equity, Inclusion and Opportunity Officer but rather a gimlet-eyed assessment of what government can do (and refrain from doing) to get the melding pot melding again.

We can begin by challenging schools that institutionalize failure while denigrating Western Civilization. Then we can move on to reversing five decades of weakening families, eroding self-reliance and fostering dependency on the state. Finally, there is surely something the governor can do to lower the practical barriers to the middle class for all of us, that is, removing licensing and permit regulations, encouraging neighborhood businesses, lowering regressive taxation and so forth.

Pretending that “equity and inclusion” can be managed bureaucratically in a free society is folly based on fallacy. Sadly, it reflects Governor Holcomb’s bent in other areas — healthcare, education and economics, to name a few. 

Indiana will be lucky to survive him and his first-ever Chief Equity, Inclusion and Opportunity Officer. — tcl


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