Quantitative Model for Measuring Line-Drawing Inequity
98 Iowa L. Rev. 971 (2013)
70 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2012 Last revised: 3 Mar 2013
Date Written: March 1, 2013
The law draws lines. It draws lines between manslaughter and murder, negligence and gross negligence, speeding and driving legally, and capital gains and ordinary income. Those lines invariably cause undesirable results. In particular, lines in the law cause inequity because they impose different treatment on similarly-situated persons. Despite line-drawing’s inequity, analysts generally shun inequity and embrace the quantitative comforts of inefficiency analysis. This Article introduces a quantitative model for measuring inequity, so the preference for quantitative measures no longer justifies the disdain for inequity analysis. Instead, democratic and philosophical ideals should make now-quantifiable inequity analyses the analytical tool of choice.
The quantitative model introduces a robust method for measuring line-drawing inequity. The quantitative information it provides illustrates that the location of a line affects the amount of inequity line-drawing causes. The model provides an opportunity to test and rethink the relationship between equity and efficiency. It demonstrates that the governed may reduce line-drawing inequity by altering their behavior to avoid negative line-drawing effects. The model also provides quantitative evidence that the perceived tension between equity and efficiency analyses is misinformed. In fact, the model shows that efficiency and equity may correlate in the line-drawing context. Finally, the Article illustrates that the criteria used to draw a line may result in the inappropriate orientation of the line. The Article concludes that excessive inequity may signal a need to change the orientation of a line or otherwise alter the law to reduce line-drawing inequity.
Keywords: line-drawing, inequity analysis, Bramblett, inventory, capital asset, section 1221, equity, efficiency
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