Sunday, May 31, 2009

The answer is not terribly complex

by Smitty

  Victor Davis Hanson surveys not just the race card, but offers a thoughtful overview of the whole race deck:
In the last fifty years, United States has evolved into a complex multiracial state. Race no longer is necessarily an indicator of income or material success-as the record of, say, Japanese-Americans or, indeed Asians in general, attests.
The article is worth your attention in full, writing as he does from the no-problem-left-unincorporated landscape of California.
  As with quite a few problems, there is a straightforward answer:

      DNA-based decision-making is false.

Note that this formulation blows away both racial and sexual discrimination.
  Racism has been and, it's safe to say, will always be present. You can't deny past evil without turning history into fiction. You can even argue that affirmative action had its place: in overcoming past ills, there was a need to jump-start various systems. To prime the pump. Fine.
  At what point can the pump be considered primed? Or, if the Real Goal of the exercise is a meritocracy, what are the victory conditions?
  I submit that things are about as "fair" as they will ever be, and any further consideration of gender and race in decision making is an exercise in merging the solution with the problem.


  1. I've just recently stumbled upon your blog, and based on what I've read I think it's safe to say I disagree with your politics. There, with that out, I hope I can offer my own opinion without being labeled a troll (your recent "Quick Guide to Blog Trolls" being, after all, the article that led me here)...

    Hanson's article would have been mildly interesting, if anything he said there were new. And I agree with most of his conclusions. Again, not a troll, I really do disagree with most affirmative action programs today.

    Unfortunately, Hanson's post consisted mostly of confused combinations of anecdotes and speculation, with an undercurrent of political attack in there (is there any evidence that Obama benefited from affirmative action programs, other than the fact that he's black and attended schools inaccessible to most of the rest of humanity?).

    I found your (much shorter) response actually more thought-provoking (if not any more particularly original). Unlike Hanson, you actually seem to have a point...

    I understand your position that "things are about as 'fair' as they will ever be", but I wonder upon what basis you arrive at that conclusion. In other words, what do you yourself think the victory conditions are?

    As I said I am against most affirmative action programs, whether they are meant to redress past wrongs or to negate current ones. This is not, however, because I believe past wrongs have been redressed or that current wrongs have reached their minima. It's simply because I don't think affirmative action programs cut to the real problems- at least not the ones facing us today.

    The question, I think, is whether we expect our institutions (public and private, but mostly public) to step in where there are disparities of opportunity, whatever the socio-economic factors?

    I agree with Hanson that poor rural whites from Oklahoma deserve a taste of opportunity as much as anyone. But I wonder are the detractors of present affirmative action ready to support more intelligent policies that reach out to all disaffected demographics, or would they be content merely to do away with affirmative action and let the lower classes figure out the book lernin' themselves.

  2. @gaudio:
    You seem to assert that "we [can] expect our institutions (public and private, but mostly public) to step in where there are disparities of opportunity, whatever the socio-economic factors".
    My reply is that this is the height of wishful thinking. Public sector is this one; private sector that. The Constitution has Amendment X. While some grey areas have crept in (e.g. utilities), less is more.
    These United States will be so much twisted political wreckage by the end of this Administration. Affirmative Action needs to GO, if we are ever to recover.