Q and A

These are questions submitted by readers, and answered by Tom Hull.

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June 22, 2022

[Q] Buck 65 has a new record on bandcamp titled 'King of Drums'. Just a heads up. -- Regular Reader, NG [2022-06-10]

[A] I reviewed it here. I had seen a couple other notices, but I wasn't aware that I'd find five more albums I hadn't reviewed (same link).

[Q] As you are likely aware my leanings are more right than left. (My brother and brothers-in law feel I'm too liberal but..) I tend to read your writings on politics with great interest. I may not agree all the time but always learn something. But I note in today's piece you use the term "equitable society" which seems to have come into vogue over the last year or so. WHY? Isn't the goal of government (our government) "equality" not "equity"? Don't feel it is unreasonable to strive for a level of equity but that is removed from human nature and certainly outside the purview of a democratic government. Why the shift in language? -- Cliff Ocheltree, NOLA [2022-06-05]

[A] My first thought was that I'm probably playing fast and loose with language, trying to mix it up a bit. But "equal" and "equitable" are mostly synonyms: the first definition of the latter is "fairness; impartiality; justice," which in a social or political context is about all you can hope for from equality. True, "equal" has a more precise meaning in mathematics and logic, where it is closer to identical than "equivalent." That use risks suggesting that an "equal society" is much more precisely balanced that seems actually possible. "Equitable" suggests a fair and reasonable distribution of resources and rights, which is a more practicable aim. "Equity" also has a second meaning tied to property (stock shares, net assets) and that suggests a way to achieve a more equitable society: through a more equal distribution of assets. One of my pet ideas is that all companies, at least beyond the initial founders shares, should be owned by their employees.

Needless to say, I think inequality is a very big problem in America today, and throughout the world. I'd go so far as to say that a lot of problems are rooted in inequality, and are worsened as inequality increases (as has been nearly constant since 1980 -- a convenient political marker, but while Republicans have done most to increase inequality, Democrats have often helped them, and rarely done anything to lessen much less reverse the trend). All I want to add here is that there are two approaches to more equality: one is to reduce the disparity in wealth and income; the other is to reduce the impact of inequality, especially by carving out areas (like health care and education) where everyone has the same rights for equal treatment.

As for the wording, I did a quick scan through my notebook so far this year, and found that I used "equitable" 3 times (once in "equitable society" and twice in "equitable and generous country"; in 2021, I used "equitable" twice, neither with "society," both qualified by "more"). "Equity" appears once (in quotes), and "inequities" twice. On the other hand, "equality" appears 8 times, "equal" 9 (with "rights" 5 times, and once each with "claims," "opportunity," "prices," and "vote"). "Inequality" appears 17 times, "inequal" (with "societies") once. I'm not surprised that I talk more about what's wrong than what would be right: the wrong is both more obvious and more urgent. However, I doubt that "equitable society" is a new term. Sometimes we need a word for where we want to go. But most likely I'll keep qualifying it with "more," as long as the direction matters more than the destination.

[Q] Hallo Tom, maybe you would like to review an album of interest . . . Kobe Van Cauwenberghe's Ghost Trance Septet Plays Anthony Braxton -- roge verstraete, gent, oost-vlaanderen,belgium [2022-06-01]

[A] Sure, but Bandcamp only has 1 track (of 4) available, and I'm at a stage in my life (old and retired) when I no longer buy albums on spec. I should note that while I've listened to a fair amount of Braxton and written about him at some length, thus far I've missed out on his "Ghost Trance Music" (at least the 2001 4-CD on Rastascan, the 2003 2x2-CD on Leo, the 2006 4-CD on Important, the 2007 9-CD on Firehouse 12, and the 2017 12-CD on New Braxton House, and I'm sure there are more -- I've counted 6 more CDs, not including the GTM (Iridium) 2007 sets, which look like New Braxton House reissues of the Firehouse 12 box). The sheer numbers are daunting, especially glommed together as they are when streaming. [PS: Got a download code, so it's in the queue.]