posted by Andrea on .
Name any fallacy in this essay
One day in January 1995 a number of companies in San Diego, California, woke up to find that they had a "deficient work force." This new designation, which had literally come overnight, had nothing to do with the intelligence of the workers in these companies or with their levels of education and skill, their attendance record, or their dedication. It did not mean that the employees were unable to write computer programs, repair jet engines, run DNA tests, or even clean toilets. Rather, it meant that under San Diego's new Equal Opportunity Ordinance, the companies were guilty of "a statistically significant underutilization of ethnic or gender groups in any occupational category."
A guilty company must file a Work Force Report, which "indicates the number of males and females in each identified ethnic group by occupational category," and submit to a Work Force Analysis in order to determine whether "the contractor's total work force exhibits a statistically significant underutilization of any identified ethnic or gender groups in any occupational category." If Equal Employment Program Manager Deborah Fischle-Faulk has "reasonable cause to believe that a contractor has a deficient work force," she will file a Deficient Work Force Notice, which shall "describe the nature of the statistically significant underutilization." (Interestingly, of Ms. Fischle-Faulk's own 17 employees, 14 are women.) The ordinance provides that a Plan Violation Notice shall "describe all remedial actions required to permanently correct the violation and establish time frames for completion." As for the statistically deficient company, they have a scant 10 days to appeal, and if they miss the deadline, the Deficient Work Force Notice shall ripen into a Final Administrative Order of the city.
"It is definitely a case of Big Sister Is Watching You," says one San Diego politician. "The courts nixed a similar plan in 1993, but no one said that building an American apartheid would be easy." But while it seems Orwellian, the San Diego plan actually pales beside other grandiose racial preference schemes, which have become the status quo throughout the state and nation, especially in education. For example, during the 1980s, supposedly the heyday of Reaganite laissez faire and educational reform, the California legislature mandated that student enrollments at the massive 20-campus Cal State system and the nine-campus University of California be based not on the students' grade or achievement but on the ethnic proportions of graduating high-school seniors. [This mandate has since been overturned by the California Civil Rights Initiative, which prohibits the use of race, gender, or ethnicity in determining public university admission.] But for the state's quota politburo, even this was not enough. In 1991, California Speaker of the House Willie Brown sponsored a bill mandating that college students must not only be admitted but must graduate according to racial proportionality. The bill, which held faculty accountable for implementing the plan and let them know it would be part of their performance evaluations, drew little press coverage before being vetoed by Gov. Pete Wilson....
Affirmative Action Is Racist
Fred Lynch, professor of government at Claremont-McKenna College and author of Invisible Victims: White Males and the Crisis of Affirmative Action, has chronicled the stories of scores of affirmative action victims, many of them liberals who, terrified of being branded with the scarlet R (for racist) and mistakenly believing that affirmative action enjoyed popular support, caved in to their own racially based punishment. Perhaps such self-laceration would be tolerable if someone indeed benefited by it. But the alleged beneficiaries of the institutional discrimination also suffer, as Shelby Steele described so poignantly in The Content of Our Character. Black journalist and media consultant Deroy Murdock, whose parents were impoverished immigrants from Costa Rica, echoes some of Steele's ideas when he notes that there are three kinds of racism: the David Duke and Adolf Hitler brand based on hatred, the Archie Bunker strain based on ignorance, and, last but not least, the racial bigotry born of patronization. "The underlying philosophy behind affirmative action is the notion that blacks and Hispanics aren't that smart and aren't prepared. We must help these little brown people, and the blacks. That's where affirmative action programs come from."
One minority worker who made it on his own in and out of government heard of a proposal to make the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission a cabinet-level agency and responded, "What are they going to call it, the 'Department of the Inferior'?" The quip hits the bull's-eye. Inferiority is the a priori assumption of affirmative action plans. Rutgers President Francis Lawrence, an energetic implementer of affirmative action, recently provided a textbook case of this attitude in his statement that blacks suffer from genetic defects that keep them from being high achievers in college. Mr. Lawrence should have taken a class with black economist Walter Williams, who says that "affirmative action is demeaning in many ways and even those who support it would find it insulting if told that the reason they have a job is because of affirmative action."
Forty-eight prominent black writers lobbied the Pulitzer committee to give novelist Toni Morrison an award. But Morrison said that such lobbying caused her stress: "It was too upsetting to have my work considered as an affirmative action award." Iconoclastic University of California Regent Ward Connerly, who remembers the humiliation of having to drink from "colored only" water fountains in the Louisiana of his youth, is now labeled an "affirmative action businessman," which he says is almost as bad because it keeps him from being judged by the quality of his work.
"People are competing very well on their own without preferred programs, and they carry the burden of people saying they got there by preference," Connerly says. "It is time that we allow those people to walk with dignity." And Connerly backs up his words with deeds. He owns half of his consulting business, while his wife, who is white, owns the other half. If he owned 51 percent, he could feast on the gravy train of affirmative action work, but he turns it down, along with offers from venal white contractors to be their "minority partner."
Who Benefits from Affirmative Action?
Black economist Glenn Loury, who earned his Ph.D. at MIT and has taught at Harvard, says that Connerly is an example of someone "tired of being treated as presumptively defective." This treatment is something Loury has experienced firsthand. After he gave an economics lecture at the University of Texas the school sent him a certificate describing him as "historically disadvantaged" in the evident belief that he would wear this definition as a badge of honor. According to Loury, affirmative action played a negligible role in the rise of the black middle class throughout the '80s, a claim often made by its promoters to justify the spread of quotas. "The longer historical view," Loury says, "suggests that shifts in occupational distribution from low pay to professions, the increase in college going, the improvement of primary and secondary education, all pre-date affirmative action and even the civil rights laws of 1960s. You can trace real movement in the relative position of blacks back into the 1940s." Walter Williams agrees, pointing out that the growth of black income for five years before affirmative action was the same as five years after. Williams attributes the growth of the black middle class to the elimination of legal discrimination that set up barriers to education and business opportunity.
This begs the question: Cui bono? Who really benefits from affirmative action policies?
William Mellor of the libertarian Institute for Justice argues that most benefits of affirmative action go to educated middle-income minorities: "It helps those who need it the least. For those in the inner city, it's at best useless and at worst creates a climate of hostility from other workers." Ward Connerly agrees that affirmative action is a jobs program, but for a special kind of person: "The people in Watts don't know a (expletive) thing about affirmative action." Connerly adds that affirmative action promoters are "simply there to protect their own interest. They are a handful of folks who eat at the trough by reason of their class and they don't want to lose that."
San Diego provides a case in point. A city in the midst of budget cuts and suffering unemployment as a result of military downsizing, it nonetheless carries on its employment rolls the annual salary of the equal opportunity program's administrative analyst, who gets $107,998 plus a generous benefit package. This top-drawer jobs program also pays the "associate analyst" $86,386. And a similar affirmative action nomenklatura exists in every major city in the country, not to speak of its entrenchment in the university. It is probably no accident that the University of California keeps no budgetary figure for the costs involved with its swollen affirmative action bureaucracy. But some observers estimate that it must exceed $10 million annually.
But neither the expense of affirmative action programs, their failure to improve the economic conditions of their supposed beneficiaries, nor the antagonisms they have engendered have caused their supporters to have second thoughts. The affirmative action bureaucrats have instead argued what all bureaucrats argue: that the program will work if we just have more of it. They increase their own power and job prospects by finding yet more historical disadvantage and new groups of accredited victims.
Seeking New "Victims"
The city of San Francisco gives preference to gays in hiring and is exploring new protections for transsexuals and cross-dressers, alleged victims of straight society. The federal government's Office of Management and Budget and House Census Committee has been holding hearings on whether the designations "black," "white," and "Hispanic" are too broad. They have heard calls to count light-skinned and dark-skinned blacks separately, to split the Hispanic label six ways, to swap the current "Pacific Islander" for "Native Hawaiian," and to include everyone from Kurds to Bedouins under a "Middle Eastern" category. "Deciding who fits into such new categories could put government into a business chillingly akin to eugenics," says Deroy Murdock. "Can ethnicity inspectors—armed with eye-color charts and DNA testing gear—be far away?"
It sounds fanciful. But that is where we are heading in government, the academy, and the workplace, all arenas where a racial and gender spoils system reigns. The truth of affirmative action is even stranger than this fiction. In order to increase the number of Hispanic patrolmen, for example, the California Highway Patrol has even recruited among Mexican nationals. On a national level, the Federal Communications Commission offers "bidding credits" of 25 percent for minority and female-owned firms, which allows them to bag a $1-million auction bid for the bargain-basement price of $750,000.
Affirmative action has become the insatiable hunger and the expanding maw. Ward Connerly says that at a recent University of California Board of Regents meeting, affirmative action "was presented not to remedy past discrimination but to promote educational diversity. It has become a goal in and of itself. There will never be an end to it." Connerly has discovered by experience what Thomas Sowell showed in Preferential Policies: An International Perspective—that affirmative action policies around the globe always claim to be temporary measures but invariably wind up as permanent policy.
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