Friday, December 26, 2008

Affirmative Action still needed

Affirmative Action is clearly on it's way out. With one ballot proposition banning it's use barely failing in Arizona, and another easily passing in Nebraska the time is coming quickly.

Opponents are left to challenging the language of propositions, trying to invalidate signatures, and using any other means to avoid having the people vote in many states.

The issue is so combustible that many legislators either don't want to take it on, or are in fact themselves in favor of it. But whenever it is on the ballot, the energy is clearly on the side of "equal treatment" rather than "preferences".

Ward Connerly has been the most signifcant person trying to change the laws across this country.

I share Mr. Connerly's optimism about this country, and agree that in general there shouldn't be preferences for minorities. But in specific, there are cases where it can and should be in use.

Take College Football, it's clear that African Americans need help in getting a fair chance, and ultimately need to be given a preference going forward because at the present time there seems to be a reason why people with black skin don't get hired.

Also, it should be noted, that no one talks about the lack of Asians or women in the coaching positions because they aren't any (many) playing the sport. The argument for A.A. goes along the lines of: if we're good enough to play, and be assistant coaches, then we should get a chance to be the head coach.

This example is instructive because it is a closed system where I'm assuming people are acting in good faith. I don't think there is tremendous if any racial bias. I think this is a matter culture, and being comfortable.

If I'm right, I would fully expect this to change over the next few years as public and media pressure mounts on every high profile opening. Something similar has happened in the NFL, even though they have explicit rules about interviewing.

The reason why we still need the ability to have A.A. which can harm specific individuals for the betterment of society, is that it is not possible to always know about all the "closed systems" and networks.

If right now, we banned A.A., it would allow situations like college football to continue without any recourse. That's so, because every prestitigious school could claim that they themselves weren't discriminating but just happened to name another white coach. There is always a good case that can be made for a particular candidate. But the importance of Affirmative Action is to take a step back and see if there are any patterns that can attributed to a lack of opportunity for minority and discriminated groups.

My rule is simple:

When a random sample of people can list their top ten most powerful people in their life. Whether it's their Principal at school, coach, minister, bank loan officer, police officer, Congress Person, a Judge, boss at work, etc. and there is no discernable racial pattern then we can end Affirmative Action.

That would mean to me that statistically everyone had a fair chance to reach their God-given potential.

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