Affirmative Action Treats

Well, we have Turks, Kurds, Bosnians, other Balkan groups, Finns (but they hardly count), Chileans, Somalians and other African groups, Persians, Iraqis, Peruvians, Romani and any other group you’d care to mention. [/quote]

What Anders’ said. Over 20% of all Swedish citizens were born in another country, or have parents who were born in another country. Racial issues does not mean quite the same to us as it does to you, the fact that we never enslaved and imported our largest minority being one of the major reasons, but to accuse Swedes in particular of ignorance on the matter must be the dumbest thing I’ve heard in a long time.

I am an uneasy supporter of affirmative action. Universities discriminate all the time. Tone deaf people can’t get a music scholarship, top-notch athletes are highly overrepresented and rewarded, non-state/rural students are often added for diversity reasons. (I am convinced that my residential graduate college in Toronto only let me in because I was from rural New Brunswick as well as being a good student and the college was dedicated to a diverse student body, in the best sense of the word). My main problem is similar to Justice O’Connor’s.

When do we stop?

If never, then it is clear that AA does not have the desired effect. If it does not work, there is no sound policy reason to continue it. With only a few decades of serious affirmative action to go by, it may be too soon to proclaim it a failure but if we don’t see fruits of the system soon we should move on to a better idea.

If we do expect AA to have a positive effect, then there will likely be a time when we say, “OK. Enough. You people have made it. Thanks for coming.” What are the measures of success? A black president? More black/hispanic senators? Bill Gates’s daughter marrying Lil Bow Wow? 12 per cent of Fortune 500 CEOs?

Troy

Your daddy bought a brownie? Your daddy is rich? Well then, it $0.25 for you!

You’re making the mistaken assumption that colleges can’t discriminate on any criteria. Colleges are private businesses and can discriminate on any criteria they want–you’re not smart enough, you can’t afford to go here, whatever–except race. For good or ill, the country has for several decades outlawed even private businesses discriminating against people based on race. That leads to the obvious question “Well then how come affirmative action is legal, since it’s obvious facial race discrimination?” The answer has always been that in fact the status quo was racist, and no matter how racist AA looks, it’s actually just pushing things back into balance.

The three good counter-arguments I’ve heard are (A) the institutional/societal racism isn’t that bad any more, so AA does more harm than good; (B) even if there’s institutional racism, trying to fight it with state-sponsored racism is still morally wrong. This is not a fight-fire-with-fire issue; and (C) even if there’s institutional racism, AA does more harm than good because it fosters a victim mentality in the beneficiaries and devalues the accomplishments of minorities who succeed (or who could succeed) without benefit of AA.

I tend to agree with B and C but not A, fwiw.

I’m not arguing with “the government should never discriminate on race” here; it’s a perfectly valid principle (although I disagree). I’m just arguing with the “it’s not fair” stuff you see; college entrance isn’t remotely fair in the first place.

C is the thing that might convince me someday, but for the moment I think it does more good than harm.

Anyway, the reason this bake sale thing enraged so many people is it price discriminates by race, which is not the same thing as rationing by race. People find one a lot more offensive than the other.

Shouldn’t it be the other way around? A comparable situation to the general population in the poorest sector, for example. Because all the things you mentioned count on individual success stories, and those can always appear (unless there is a system in place that is truly intent on keeping every black woman and man down, which there isn’t).

I agree, that would be a pretty dumb thing to say. Fortunately, no one here has said it. My point is that a person who is only exposed to an issue “in theory” or via news media or whatever and doesn’t actually experience it personally isn’t nearly as well prepared to talk about the realities of it. It’s just like all of us upwardly mobile, tech-savvy, middle income white folks on this forum sitting in our armchairs over cups of fine tea talking about the problems of the people in Iraq. There’s little more to it than arguing over what journalists said because none of us are there.

This very idea gets brought up all the time on this forum although people usually use different words to say it.

And I never claimed I was, about anything. But I want to discuss an interesting quandry just as much as anyone else. And I would very much appreciate it if I didn’t get a “Oh, here comes the quasi-socialist Swedes thinking they’re right again” when I tried.
Why, it almost makes me feel like I’m forced into a specific group. One that is prejudiced against, no less!

That’s pretty cynical. Again, you’re just playing with fictional numbers, so I’ll provide a number example to illustrate the point – again, largely sticking with your example, but reverse the number of “group a” people applying. They represent 90% of society as a whole, and therefore under your model you’ve allocated 90% of the cookies to them (or 180/200) – but instead of 50,000 people applying, what if only 360 apply, and conversely 10,000 of group b apply for the other 20 positions. Now group A has a 50% chance of getting a cookie, which is ludicrously unfair to individuals in Group B.

Again, sanctioning discrimination on the basis of race is always wrong – the problem you’re trying to address is individuals being unfairly discriminated against on the basis of race, and yet you think the solution is to unfairly discriminate against individuals on the basis of race. It’s ludicrous - it’s the exact same “crime” - individuals being ripped off, because of their race, which should never play a factor in anything. It’s like trying to solve the problem of “murder”, by murdering a bunch of people.

Burning Man

http://images.burningman.com/index.cgi?image=10287

For all you aging baby boomer hippie types that haven’t sold out to THE MAN.
(Both of you.) :D

I’ll hold out for the Equalizer’s Wicker Man.

That’s pretty cynical. Again, you’re just playing with fictional numbers, so I’ll provide a number example to illustrate the point – again, largely sticking with your example, but reverse the number of “group a” people applying. They represent 90% of society as a whole, and therefore under your model you’ve allocated 90% of the cookies to them (or 180/200) – but instead of 50,000 people applying, what if only 360 apply, and conversely 10,000 of group b apply for the other 20 positions. Now group A has a 50% chance of getting a cookie, which is ludicrously unfair to individuals in Group B.
[/quote]

Um, that’s nice, but can you think of any situation where the race that was enslaved over-applies for choice positions?

Again, sanctioning discrimination on the basis of race is always wrong – the problem you’re trying to address is individuals being unfairly discriminated against on the basis of race, and yet you think the solution is to unfairly discriminate against individuals on the basis of race. It’s ludicrous - it’s the exact same “crime” - individuals being ripped off, because of their race, which should never play a factor in anything. It’s like trying to solve the problem of “murder”, by murdering a bunch of people.

For god’s sakes, I’m ambivalent about affirmative action. I’m just pointing out that the downsides for whites in the cases where affirmative action are used are practically non-existant.

Another point: if schools took people strictly on “merit,” the entire ivy league would be nothing but asian kids. Somehow I don’t think anyone would be happy with this either.

wow, that’s a pretty racist statement there. It might be true but it would be the most ‘fair’.

God, I can’t believe I have to explain this.

I rather doubt anyone would be very happy if the ivy league was full of nothing but asian kids. I’d be annoyed because I think the whole merit is kind of a full of it, but that’s an entire other argument.

Sheesh.

Again, sanctioning discrimination on the basis of race is always wrong – the problem you’re trying to address is individuals being unfairly discriminated against on the basis of race, and yet you think the solution is to unfairly discriminate against individuals on the basis of race. It’s ludicrous - it’s the exact same “crime” - individuals being ripped off, because of their race, which should never play a factor in anything. It’s like trying to solve the problem of “murder”, by murdering a bunch of people.

So how should government ensure that minorities are better represented at the senior levels of corporations, law firms, etc.? Children born to rich, connected families have a tremendous advantage over children born to poor families. How do you level the playing field? If you don’t level the playing field somewhat, I think that kind of non-action creates problems.

The government constantly rationalizes actions that infringe on individual liberties with the argument that the greater good is being served. Why can’t those arguments be applied in favor of affirmative action? Is it better that a few get discriminated against so that the many will live in a more egalitarian society?

There are many “minorities” that are overrepresented at ivy league schools, in the sense that a) they are not qualified, by and large, and b) there are many of them. Like, for instance, my school was required to accept a certain number of Philadelphia residents every year, who (shockingly) led to many a dim lightbulb in a class. I hardly think replacing most of them with Asians would be that big a deal, especially given how many there already are (both east asian descent and Indian, mainly). Also, there were plenty of very qualified white people and brown people there, but there is no doubt that the cloud of affirmative action made the latter a good deal more aggressive and insecure about their status.

You’re so wrong. The downside is exactly the same as when someone from another race doesn’t get the position because of race. It’s identical, so don’t do it, ever.

Another point: if schools took people strictly on “merit,” the entire ivy league would be nothing but asian kids. Somehow I don’t think anyone would be happy with this either.

Nice rascist and defamatory comment.

Government should have nothing to do with anything other than government, and government run or subsidized institutions like schools. Are you seriously suggesting otherwise?

How do you ensure race doesn’t play a discriminatory role in hiring/admissions – perhaps by auditing those processes in schools and governments, instituting harsh penalties for clear violations – there are no easy answers to combating racial prejudice but I sure as fuck know that acting in a rascist manner ain’t the solution, yet that’s what “affirmative action” does.

Children born to rich, connected families have a tremendous advantage over children born to poor families. How do you level the playing field?

This is a completely different point – I’m all about giving poor people every opportunity we can to get an education and afford staying in school, through grants, scholarships, bursaries, etc. But that’s the exact the point I’m making - giving the best candidates the opportunity to get the position, and not discriminating on the basis of race, wealth, background – which individuals have no control over.

Is it better that a few get discriminated against so that the many will live in a more egalitarian society?

(a) that’s great, as long as you’re not one of those few – if helping the many at the expense of the few, or the individual, was the governing philosophy of our society…as opposed to the opposite, which protects the rights of individuals; (b) that’s great, if it actually works as intended, which is unlikely; (c) that’s great, if there were no other possible ways to address the problem, other than committing the exact same fucking crime, but there are, or at least may be. So, not so great.

Stefan

One of the governing principles is protection of individual rights, but there’s another governing principle that will sacrifice individual rights to promote the greater good. There’s not a clear cut answer in a lot of cases.

The reality is that places like the Ivy League schools produce a disproportionate percentage of the leaders of our society. If there’s not some kind of mechanism in place to ensure that minorities get representation at these schools, then minorities will tend to be underrepresented in leadership roles. It’s already more difficult than it should be to rise to the top in a system that is supposed to be based on merit. There’s too much cronyism at work. Take away Affirmitive Action and there’s a good chance things will get worse.

Why, without Affirmitive Action we probably wouldn’t have Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court!

Well, I can’t really argue with “it’s wrong, don’t do it.”

Hey, do any of the asian guys on here think what I said was racist?