Sunday, July 31, 2016

Affirmative Action Policy

From guest blogger, Alex.

The topic that struck the most interest in me was the discussion we had on affirmative action on Monday. Going into this situation, I was not in favor. The blunt reason was that I am a white male and feel as if it is working against me. However, by diving into the objections and claims by Pojman, I believe it is wrong for different reasons. The basis of affirmative action is to create an opportunity for all people to have an equal chance, and to minimize or stop discrimination. The first idea is that affirmative action requires discrimination against another group. Sure, it can be argued that the discrimination is lesser with affirmative action. However, the problem is discrimination, and there is still discrimination. Therefore, affirmative action doesn’t provide a solution to the base problem at hand, it just creates another form.

Second, Pojman says AA encourages mediocrity and incompetence. I wouldn’t stretch as far to say this, because I don’t think it necessarily “encourages” mediocrity. It doesn’t. However, I do believe that it undermines the principle of merit, and I believe this is wrong. Basing your hires off of skin color and not value is not how I think a business should be run.

This isn’t racism. It is the opposite of racism. Skin color does not make one person more valuable or worthy for a job. In my eyes, the background of a person is significant.

A white man can grow up his entire life in a neighborhood with all black men. Everything he does is associated with the black culture. Why does it matter that his skin color is white? On the other hand, a black man can grow up in a neighborhood full of white men. If he lives there from birth to adulthood, the chances are that he will act like those of white culture. Why does it matter that his skin color is black? It doesn’t make a difference in any way other than pigment, which should not have a role in the hiring of jobs. 


Charlie Spalding said...

This is another RGB 0,0,0 guy speaking here. I understand and agree that in a completely theoretical world with universal laws and no prior history there would be no place for affirmative action. BUT (needed to be all caps), our society doesn't resemble this aforementioned perfectly functional society.

Instead we live in a country with institutionalized racism to the highest degree. This isn't just about unarmed black people being shot in the streets, this is about institutions applying unequal economic pressures racially. Examples would include the banking industry (subprime loaning was racially targeted), policing zones and fines (the effects of police fines on low income neighborhoods are devastating), direct executive action (drug war has been targeted racially, Iran Contra Scandal), the list goes on. These economic pressures act as a positive feedback loop where it becomes increasingly unlikely for communities under such pressures to succeed.

Affirmative Action comes in to play to directly target these practices. When an individual is attacked by another we hold the perpetrators responsible. Why is it different when a group of individuals is attacked by another group? These economic pressures are modern, not a thing of the past, and they largely are targeted based on skin color. Why wouldn't the remedy of the problem be based on the same lines?

To address your concerns directly. Affirmative Action is not discrimination, it is a series of reparations for present wrong doings. Affirmative Action does not undermine merit, an individual has to meet the standards for the position they are applying for. Furthermore if one has an easier time garnering achievements than another, how is that deserving of greater merit in the first place?

Tim Heinzel said...

I don't think people who advocate for affirmative action think that skin color is the true determining factor for preferential treatment. I think they see race as something that highly correlates with other societal factors and issues that might be worth compensating for.

We often hear studies about those with "black sounding names" versus "white sounding names" having less of a chance at being interviewed. There are also many statistics about racial inequalities in education, income, etc.

The most favorable way I can put the affirmative action argument is to say that people who have something working against them deserve help, and we can often find those who have things working against them by using race as a proxy. If this is the case, then the skin color itself isn't what matters; rather, it is the fact that skin color is associated with many other things that might be determining factors in who should receive preferential treatment.