provisions similar to the German Constitution and, in addition, provides for nondiscrimination because of a person's membership in social associations.
ROGER L. GOLDMAN
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Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356 ( 1886).
EQUITABLE DELIVERY OF SERVICES. A fair allocation and distribution of resources, services, and their outcomes. Concerns for equitable service delivery arose in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Social equity, as it was termed, was suggested as a third criteria by which to evaluate government action. In addition to delivering services efficiently and economically, public officials were expected to achieve social equity.
The intent behind the goal of social equity is to reduce harm done to disadvantaged populations as a result of social programs, or due to the lack of programs, opportunities, and so on. Led by George Frederickson and colleagues, the early discussions acknowledged economic, political, and social differences in populations and urged the government to adjust for these disparities. This meant that government, at all levels-local, state, and federal-was expected to develop programs and plans to alleviate hardships. Particular attention was focused on the delivery of services from education, public health, and garbage collection to street maintenance and recreation.
The concept of equitable service delivery is linked to theoretical and practical developments in moral philosophy dating back to the Ancient Greeks. Aristotle postulated about the ideal form of government and coexistence among people in society. He argued against extremes in wealth, but suggested that any attempt to achieve pure equality would also be unsettling. Instead, he called for proportionate equality, or the distribution of resources according to a citizen's contribution to society. This stance was tempered, however, by his belief in a substantial middle class. Therefore, to the extent that there are disparities in society, action should be taken to bring low-income people to a higher standard of living. The ultimate goal is to ensure a certain quality of life for all residents. These themes continue to run through debates about equitable service delivery.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, such British and French theorists as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean Jacques Rousseau offered a series of social contract theories that also inform discussions of social equity. Hobbes and Locke described relationships between people, and asserted the primacy of human liberties and rights. They argued that people govern themselves and make determinations about what is just based on a mutual agreement to uphold some preestablished social contract. Although they did not explicitly address equity, their theories suggested that notions of fairness and equity may vary across populations and cultures.
Rousseau argued that civil society, property, and all
that it entails results in inequalities among people. Further,
where these inequities exist, they have been created by in
stitutions. While speculating about the best form of gov
ernment, Rousseau suggested that equality among individ
uals be held up as a chief objective of laws and civil
associations. These ideas taken collectively suggest that eq
uitable service delivery is context-bound and might only
be achieved through purposeful government action.
Expanding on social contract theories, John Rawls ( 1971) outlined a theory of distributive justice that recognized differences in individuals and communities. He argued that social and economic inequalities should be arranged so that no group is disadvantaged more often, or to a greater extent, than another. To achieve this, government and society have an obligation to devote more resources to those people in less-privileged positions. The underlying theme of all these theories is fourfold: (1) civil society results in political, social, and economic inequalities; (2) society as a whole, but government in particular, should work to address these disparities; (3) there is some minimum standard of living that is due all citizens; and (4) to the extent that inequalities exist in service delivery, they should be in favor of the less-fortunate members of society.