Friday, April 13, 2012

Affirmative Action: A Poor Policy For America

Employment Politics

Work plays an important role in the lives of many persons. This is the last part of a three-part series this week on work and the workplace in the West. The first part was on Monday:  Men At Work: A Meaningful Life; the second on The UnProductive (& UnHappy) Workplace (Wednesday).


Affirmative action was never meant to be permanent, and now is truly the time to move on to some other approach.
Susan Estrich

Affirmative action has been a boon to those blacks who were already affluent and particularly for those who were rich but has done little or nothing for those blacks who are neither. Moreover empirical data from other countries around the world shows the same general pattern from group preferences.
—Thomas Sowell, Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study
(Yale University Press, 2004)

America likes to believe itself a nation where the values of fairness, equality and the pursuit of happiness are not only understood but followed, sometimes in odd ways. One of the chief ideas is that everyone needs a fair shot, a square deal and that discrimination is not only a dirty word, but bad public policy. Yet the pursuit of this idea— a noble one—has led to an especially difficult and intractable problem, namely, that a policy alone cannot alter the fact that there are inequalities in people's abilities and talents. This is not the same as achievement, since persons with limited or average intellectual abilities can achieve great things with sufficient drive, determination and expenditure of energy. That also means you have to apply yourself dilegently, focus and work hard.

Yet, that is not the way it plays out today. The United States, like all western democracies, have enacted laws to right the wrongs of the past. The result of more than 40 years of progressive legislation is discouraging to say the least. Policies to encourage certain classes of persons—visible minorities, women, the disabled, among others—to be treated with respect and dignity have enabled them to be placed in a preferential and distinct position when it comes to hiring practices. In many ways, such privileged groups have become stigmatized by the very same laws that were supposed to ennoble them. Such policies and practices actually rob the individual of the dignity that we all require, a dignity that often comes from hard work and earning a place in society. For many liberals, this policy makes perfect sense, since it levels the playing field. Past discriminatory practices against visible minorities and women are the primary reasons cited for the legislation's continued requirement.

It is known in the U.S. as affirmative action and in Canada as employment equity; the legislations are similar in many areas in terms of employer hiring practices, but the U.S. legislation is more sweeping and includes university admissions inextricably linked to federal funding. (The word affirmative means to agree with of give assent to.) As with all such ideas it was born with good intentions, that in hiring persons, affirmative action ought to be taken to hire persons without considering race, religion and national origin. Following on the heels of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, such was the language of the 1965 legislation of President Lyndon B. Johnson; gender was added in 1968 as an addendum when the women's-liberation movement, or feminism, became a more powerful force. (In Canada, employment equity became law in 1986.)

In the U.S., the program's original intention was to encourage the hiring of more minorities and later on more women. But it eventually became a policy that was transformed to hiring minorities and women first as a preferred or privileged groups. (University admissions offices hold similar policies.) In effect, restrictive quotas were established against white males. Quotas were actually illegal in the original legislation addressing employment equality, but that mattered little in the politicization of race and gender. Social engineering dictates that such polices are the only way to address former grievances and injustices.  Many call such a policy "reverse discrimination," a descriptive term that is not without merit.

After all, is it not discrimination to make a clear choice of one group over another, of one candidate over another in both university admissions and hiring practices. To choose the weaker candidate in both cases? So, in effect, such discrimination has become legal in the U.S. with the intent of leveling the playing field. In effect, it has become, in result, acute discrimination against white males. With academia providing the intellectual reasoning and justification for such a policy, and the U.S. Supreme Court generally ruling in its favour (generally as Title VII cases), it soon became normative to say that affirmative action is not only both legal and necessary, but also morally justifiable.

One of the results is that in 2008 Barack Obama was elected as the U.S's first affirmative action president. Many white liberals applauded this result, their guilt somewhat assuaged by this reassuring example that now all was well in the United States of America. In effect, the sins of the fathers are passed on to the many generations of white males; visible minorities and women are exempt, gaining a free pass from any examination of their past history by dint of being in a privileged group. White male liberals ought to feel some sort of redemptive power when this happens, the purifying power of certain privileged minorities providing the healing balm.

The defenders of affirmative action will point to the need for diversity and integration in the workforce; nothing more has to be said. If you dare attack its justification or principles, you would be regarded with suspicion as being anti-progressive at the least, and racist and misogynist at the worst. To criticize a policy is to have an individual mind, which is contrary to group-think and the new faith of consensus and accommodation. Under such ideas, all persons ought to think and act alike and agree that affirmative action is good, even if they don't (really) agree. But many don't agree. What happens, then?

Consider the following: Jews, on the other hand, a small sliver of a minority group, who faced serious discriminatory practices not only in education, employment, but also in housing and membership in private clubs between the 1920s and 1940s, have never benefited from such government programs. They found other ways to get ahead.

I doubt that affirmative action and its resonant policies will ever go away, despite its corrosive effect on capitalist democratic America. Too many persons benefit from its practices, no matter how discriminatory they might be. The theories of Marx as it applies to social engineering (i,e, "democratic planning") are strongly enmeshed in the political, legal and cultural thought processes and principles of the West, including in the U.S. Such Marxist theories, which angrily rail against injustices and demand the elimination of all biases, no matter how it is done, run alongside the Enlightenment principles and the U.S. Constitution, which form the basis of a democratic capitalist society. When you think about it, it makes for strange bedfellows.

Affirmative action might seem like a good, if not morally sound, idea to bring about fairness in human decision-making. But it is a bad idea in the one area that is not often examined: its policies will only make America and its workforce poorer in the one thing that counts the most—human dignity.


  1. Since the institution of affirmative action, the income gap has increased more than ever. These facts are probably non unconnected. Affirmative action has diverted energy away from questions like workers' rights and minimum incomes

  2. Lao Qiao:

    You have identified one of the many unintended consequences of affirmative action.

  3. The yiddite press has already convicted George Zimmerman of murdering known thug Crayon Martin: But what would you expect? America's media is owned and operated by the same "jews" whose agenda for fifty years has been to marginalize The White Gentile American Man while elevating negroes, illegal mexicans, and feminazis. Here's why:

    “... the Jews are a superior race which should lead the World, but that all the other races should be mixed, which according to him would result in the manifestation of the worst traits and the disappearance of the best traits in the Gentile races."

    - Jewish supremacist and organizer of World Government, Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi

    Read about the "jewish" agenda:

  4. As a Jew I find your comment about "yiddite press" offensive, but I strongly believe in free speech, as long as it's not hate speech. Yours is not in my opinion. The idea that the Jews control the press is both untrue and a long-time belief of conspiracy theorists. As for the Jewish agenda, if Jews were that powerful, how come they can't win the world over when it comes to Israel, the Jewish state. Nor do I believe in the supremacy of any group, Jew or otherwise. But I am happy that you are reading my blog. Perhaps you will change your mind about a few things.

  5. An example of the fact that there is no "yiddite press," consider the fact that Israel's unique role in rescuing Haitians after the earthquake was mentioned in only one place, the Miami Herald, where Frida Ghitis reported(January 22, 2010) that the Israeli response was “one of the fastest, most effective of any country on earth.” Israel is the most hated of all countries, and perhaps anti-Israel hatred is the major reason for the alliance of Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea—an alliance leading to the development of Iran’s nuclear abilities.

    Israel’s good deeds should be reported for two reasons: they are worthy of mention because virtue deserves publicity, and because they might serve as an antidote to the ferocity of anti-Zionism, the force that for some mysterious reason unites tyrants everywhere in their fight against freedom.

  6. I can't say I know much about affirmative action. I only know that in the USA, the majority of non-whites (even though they are a majority in the population)are marginalized. Why does a small town in the Hudson River valley have a ghetto (Newberg)? Why does the non-white section of Camden New Jersy look like a war zone. Why is racism still alive in the land of the free and the home of the brave? If anyone thinks that blacks, hispanics and women have an elevated position in American society yothey must be truely blind.

  7. Dear Modern Times,

    You are quite correct to say that racism still exists in the U.S. Affirmative action, no matter its intent, has not and cannot solve that problem. Racism, like all hatreds of a class or group, has deep roots. It takes a concerted effort by people, and not necessarily politicians, to erase its consequences.

  8. I do no see the connection between "yiddite" press and murder of a black men. BTW who invented that low-class term? I believe that all murderers should be convicted and as far as I know USA does not have a problem convicting black murderers either.

  9. Dear Modern Times:
    You won't believe this, but I'll say so anyway:
    The President of the United States is black.

  10. Dear Lao Qiao:

    Yes, I know. Has the President taken a walk around the streets of DC? Let him tell me why there is such abject poverty in the very heart of the nation. As Mr. Greenbaum says it takes a concerted effort by people, and not necessarily politicians, to erase the consequences of racism.Perhaps the President could do a little more but he's kind of busy fighting wars or is he not?

  11. Deanberry,

    your comment is truly thought provoking, and highlights a very big problem in the United States: the lack of proper education for the masses, and the egotistical paranoia that entails. The real tragedy is that, thanks to the internet, you no longer have an excuse to be ignorant. If you have the world at your fingertips, why don't you try to learn about it without the haze of old-fashioned, out-dated, anti-everything?

    And to get started on your education program, here's a quick newsflash from Israel-- the Jewish population does not wish to be in control over a mass of dunder-head hooligans like you. You should only be so lucky! So stop looking over your shoulder.

  12. Dear Deanberry:

    If you have time, you can take a look at this link:


Comment Policy:

All comments will be moderated; and bear in mind that anonymous, hostile, vulgar and off-topic comments will not be published. Thoughtful, reasonable and clear comments, bearing your real name, will be. All comments must be in English.