It’s conference szn!
This week I spent most of my time watching people talk about awesome things they make day to day or ideating how to solve the biggest problems the government faces – the US government that is, of course 🙄
I attended a workshop on Data for Equity and Justice at the Code for America Summit and one of the presenters said something towards the end that’s been rattling in my brain this week - “and of course, we’ll catch some dolphins in our net.”
I’m obviously not including the context so don’t think I’m singling this person out to attack this logic but that idea - of course, we’ll catch some dolphins - when it comes to equity feels very wrong to me.
This was about catching potential fraud in unemployment claims or something like that. The problem is that people can buy people’s SSN in the “dark web” and apply for unemployment in multiple places to try to fool the government into giving them a few hundred bucks ? Which, I guess, at scale, is an issue, sure. The solution, then, was to do that “Prove you’re not a robot” thing but IRL. You’d suspend someone’s benefits and ask them to confirm they are who they are and that solves the problem.
Again, not a big-ish deal. It just feels wrong. The dolphins caught in the net here are people who have lost their job and require the government to intervene so they won’t lose their houses, their families won’t go hungry, they can buy their medicines, or even just buy some candy, it’s their money anyways.
Where do we draw the line? How many dolphins is it ok to catch in our net to get all the tuna we “need”? I don’t think you need to go through the unemployment process to know how difficult it must be for someone. After that, we’re ok catching them in our net and making them do it again - regardless of how easy it is to corroborate you’re not committing fraud - that’s ok with us?