The Problems of Affirmative Action

After much “shutting up and listening” and “educating themselves”, most conservatives should now be able to accept the fact that institutionalized racism does indeed exist—in the form of the practice called “affirmative action.” With the luxury of hindsight, we can reflect on affirmative action’s toll on society, and see the transformation of a practice which started as an admissions policy into an attack on the American way of equal opportunity.

Does Affirmative Action work? (Photograph courtesy of The Higher Learning)

Does Affirmative Action work? (Photograph courtesy of The Higher Learning)

The first distinction to make is separating two confounding goals of affirmative action. The policy was initially presented to the Supreme Court as a means of exposing students to diversity of thought. Somewhere along the way, affirmative action became a means of leveling the playing field and promoting equal opportunity. It is important to take note of this perversion of the original intention, as it is no less than a bait-and-switch technique. Nevertheless, affirmative action has failed to achieve either its original intent to diversify student bodies, or its new intent to create a form of racial Marxism for college admissions.

As a means of promoting diversity of thought, affirmative action has not only been unsuccessful, but has actually pushed college campuses further from that goal. The chaos on campuses in recent years stands as proof that a multicultural student body has not only failed to expand free thought, but has actually radically curtailed it. Dartmouth, for example, has been so overtaken by the mantra of multiculturalism that all that remains is groupthink. The Black Lives Matter protests remains the most visible instance of the with-us-or-against-us mentality that “pluralism” deploys to silence opposition and coerce conformity of thought. Even students with moderate, nuanced views on black disenfranchisement found themselves accosted during finals week by BLM protesters. Students were forced to either join the “movement”, or leave the library; there was no middle ground. Along similar lines, UC Berkeley, the original practicer of affirmative action, has become hostile territory for any dissenting speech. If you think Dartmouth has become more tolerant of ethnic cuisines in recent years, you’re probably right, but diversity of people has not facilitated diversity of thought.  Dartmouth sounds one chord, and one chord only: regressive leftism.

As a means of promoting equality, affirmative action continues to compromise the American value of equal opportunity. Interestingly, the Supreme Court does not accept the notion that individuals are entitled to benefits based on their race. Nevertheless, the notion of white privilege, a fixation of the left’s imagination, stipulates that minorities deserve privileges in excess of unencumbered access to all opportunities they might wish to pursue. The reality cannot be stressed enough: all other things being equal, an impoverished white child faces no easier road to college than his black counterpart. Regrettably, leftist rhetoric ignores that fact of life, and in doing so postulates that racism against white people cannot exist because racism requires both prejudice and power. However, one must look no further than Dartmouth for a compelling counter-example. Is power not when you can disrupt the business of the College and stage a protest that violates all time, place, and manner ordinances without consequence? Is power not when you can deface a College Republicans display honoring law enforcement without consequence? Is power not when you can defame classmates, posting pictures of them captioned “racist,” without fear of consequence? Is power not when you can occupy the College President’s office, and spend the night there throwing a temper tantrum until day breaks, and yet again there are no consequences? By all of these metrics, Black Lives Matter is a privileged organization on campus, not a marginalized one. Time after time they have gotten a free pass. Yet, their privileges do not end there.

Some of the most substantial affirmative action takes place on an employer level, during and after college. Do not be fooled, there is nothing equal about an equal opportunity employer. Investment banks, for example, offer sophomore internships only to minority studens. In doing so, they are implying either that a black Dartmouth graduate has inherently less opportunity than a white Dartmouth student or that a minority student is inherently more qualified than a white student, neither of which is true. To say a white Dartmouth graduate can achieve more than a minority graduate is to insult to the integrity and magnanimity of a Dartmouth degree. To say that choosing from a group of minority students will yield equally qualified applicants to that same group plus other white students is logically false. Adding more applicants into a pool can only make the pool better off. What’s worse is that while banks are happy to offer menial development programs and entry-level jobs to minorities for purposes of public relations, when promotion time comes, many minorities, hired only because of their race, find themselves passed over for promotions, and unable to advance themselves.

Meanwhile, the government has found a mindboggling means of minority advancement: Disadvantaged Business Enterprise designations. Infrastructure projects now come with attached requirements that a certain portion of the project be preformed by minority owned businesses. One would expect that limiting contracts to minorities would decrease competition for those contracts; he or she would be right. Again, just as adding competitors decreases pricing for public works projects, decreasing competition increases prices on these projects that already tend to be significantly over budget. If the American way of capitalism is maximum competition, where the best competitor wins the contract, the DBE program is incompatible with the American way, and the taxpayers are paying for it. Last year the Department of Transportation released a report on “The Real Cost of DBE Fraud.” The report details that despite accounting for 10% of infrastructure costs, DBEs represent over 35% of active fraud investigations. The most common means of DBE fraud is where the DBE “performs no commercially useful function,” the work is done by a non-DBE subcontractor, and the DBE claims credit along with a fee, exploiting its designation. For example, a DBE might buy pipes from a non-DBE, stamp their logo on them, and resell them at a markup, paid for by the American taxpayer. Notwithstanding fraud, if a business could supply pipes at the lowest possible price, it would not need to a minority designation to do so, and a business that gets business only with DBE certification, will never be pressured to become competitive with the rest of the market. The DBE program is centered on fostering vicious dependence, not equality.

This extreme, real-world iteration of affirmative action assists only unqualified businesspeople at the expense of American capitalism and taxpayers.

Affirmative action might have made sense to leftists as an idyllic means of promoting diverse thought on campus, but its place in the real world is objectionable. Not only has affirmative action impeded diverse thought, but its bastardized reincarnation of ensuring equality has undermined the American meritocracy. As its leftist creators envisioned it, affirmative action was to be temporary, until inequalities were resolved. What has become clear is whatever inequalities might still remain today will not be fixed with affirmative action programs. The DBE program will never promote a more equal society, just a more unqualified one. Race-based recruiting will never produce a more equal workforce, just a more unqualified one. Race-based admission will never yield a more equal class, just an unqualified one. The reality remains, that a B student will not produce A-worthy analysis of Kant’s categorical imperative just because he or she comes from a unique perspective. This is the myth of diversity. Affirmative action was a mistake to begin with, but as it were, it is undeniably temporary. Upon contemporary re-inspection, affirmative action’s death knell has come.          

  • Mark Russo

    Probably the best op piece written on affirmative action I’ve ever read.

    • Glenn Ebow

      Then, you should probably do more reading…

      • Mark Russo

        I see that you disagree with the piece because you believe and support race based discrimination.

        • piper60

          some people think its a sacrament!

        • Glenn Ebow

          no sir, I don’t disagree. The only problem with the article is the name calling (Leftist) and the fact that the Author is all over the place with his opinions and his biases. Lengthy as his piece is, where in it, did he offer any solutions of a color-blind society? Did he do research to see that in 1921 Americans (captured from Africa) attempted to form a thriving city and society that rivals Beverly Hills and Wall Street, only to see it burned down, murder and forced to never seek that kind of lifestyle. Google 1921 Tulsa,Ok. Did he address the fact that Affirmative Action benefitted women of the protected class more than it did/does to these very Americans (captured from Africa)? These Americans (along with the Natives) are the only one’s who didn’t choose to come to this country! So yes, I do think they(we) deserve some set asides…Sorry

  • Irwin Tang

    The current manifestation of affirmative action is cruelly unfair. UT Austin capped Asian enrollment for an entire decade even as the Asian population in Texas grew 45%.

    • piper60

      That was the same excuse for anti-semitic quotation the early 20th century:too many Jews, who do too well! Still, discrimination is discrimination, no matter what the title is of the Educrat who dreamed it up!

    • Glenn Ebow

      I’m hoping you meant Asian Americans? Because, if it were foreign Asian, it makes more sense. UT is a State school. Citizens of that state deserve preferences over anyone else. They and they’re parents have been putting into the system to get their kids that right. I feel you pain, if your case is as i’m assuming it to be. Welcome to Black America’s problems

      • Irwin Tang

        Yes, I meant that the student population of Asian Americans as a proportion of the total freshman class was capped for a decade even as that population grew by 45% as a proportion of the overall Texas population. I appreciate your empathy, although these types of problems have always been our problems for as long as I have been alive. So, the “welcome” is a bit late. Nonetheless, it is an extreme breath of fresh air to hear a Black American tell me that you feel my pain. Even my best friend (who happens to be black) would not admit that this extreme for affirmative action at the least is unjust when considering our individual experiences and supposed rights. But as an American, it is difficult to see past “group” rights, privileges, wrongs, and histories.

        • Glenn Ebow

          Irwin, i’m on your side 100%. The author of this article has no solution to a problem that seems to go with the countries initial sins. My wife is Asian. That is not why i support you and your issue. Minorities of all types, don’t walk around looking for a hand out. Just a fair fight and a fair opportunity. We have to live here together. Africans (captured to come to America) and Natives, are the only ones that didn’t choose to come here. With that fact, we deserve certain set-asides. Google 1921 Tulsa,Ok and then respond. I’d love to hear your take…Be blessed

          • Irwin Tang

            My brother, of course, I know about the terror attacks against Black Americans in Tulsa. I could use a good review, and I will look it up again. I don’t know if I already stated it,but I do believe in non-outlandish reparations for descendants of enslaved people. Perhaps 10K in cash or 20K in credit towards purchase of productive capacity — land, education, business equipment. Such reparations represent a much more shared burden of responsibility as well as spreading the benefits towards those who need it most. Or reparations perhaps could go like this: guaranteed employment for ten years for every Black American, so 2020 to 2030 — that will help those suffering the most. And it will deal with a centuries-long economic horror: black unemployment has always been well above 5% as far as I know, and some neighborhoods it is over 10% for long periods. Good morning, Louisiana. Affirmative action has not helped with unemployment because it discourages studying for several hours a day. Study habits are the greatest predictor of economic success of any society in this world today.

          • Irwin Tang

            The problem with AA is it takes a job or an educational opportunity from one individual and gives it to another. Based on race. Responsibility for slavery must be shared by 100s of millions not by yanking a job out of a deserving individual.

      • piper60

        must be nice to not have to genuflect toward silly ideas of racial equality and to do (without apology)to the white people what their ancestors once-long ago-did to your ancestors. Makes everything FAIR dontchaknow!?

        • Glenn Ebow

          not sure i’m following you attempts to sound like Donald Trump. But, if you think that I support Affirmative action 100%, then you are wrong. The wording of it, supports action that is not specifically design to Affirm anything to the group that it was intended to help. We are the only group that hasn’t been repaired. Just set free, after years of illegal education and discrimination. How did you or how do you plan to level the playing field? I think you fail to realize that we as a people, given a fair chance, will dominate as we do in other aspects of society. And, you will not be able to handle it as gracefully as we were forced too. You don’t blame the poor little girl who becomes a prostitute after been raped continuously. You repair her as you’d do any victim! I supposed you think I have a victims mentality. Well, I don’t. Just giving you an example to wake you up

  • piper60

    The roots of affirmative action are poisonous-a desire to have a quota system without admitting it-so getting good fruit from any tree that grows from such roots is unlikely, to say the least of it!

    • piper60

      No good grows from evil-as somebody once said. trying to cure discrimination with MORE discrimination is doomed to failure-and, perhaps, worse than failure, since quota systems tend to undermine the principles and political energy that made them look attractive in the first place!

  • Glenn Ebow

    I agree that Affirmative action was a mistake from the beginning. But, please sir, tell us what would have been your solution? To continue the status quo and hope that people like you would have just evolved into a more compassionate human? Or just keep praying that my “superiors” will see me as more than the qualifier that Jim Crow laws placed on us? The real problem is and will always be, Americas original sin…Thanks for the read though…

    • Mark Russo

      The real problem is people who live in the past and continue to live life with a chip on their shoulder over things of the past which they were not even a part of.

      • piper60

        The desire to “get back”something once possessed and now lost, is one of the strongest of human emotions…A. H.These days, it seems the moral superiority of being an undoubted VICTIM,can be cause enough to go soggy with nostalgia for the bad old days!

      • Glenn Ebow

        So you are saying that the past doesn’t mean anything? The past has equity? If it were not for the past, we’d all have the same footprint and starting point. And, if you’d ever been obviously discriminated against (just like any victim of any crime) you’d probably be more understanding… But, i’m sure it’s easier to feel the way you do. Considering you mis-guided views of the facts

  • piper60

    The price of minimizing destructive behavior by a privileged class of barbarians is to give ever greater control-preferavlyin the arbitrary and capricious form necessary to “do something”about ever evolving number and forms of “offensive”behavior the suits IN administration who, alone, have the moral perception to deidewhich of your constitutional rightscan be sacrificed(this time)TO KEEP BLM OUT out of the President’s Office overnight!After all, only the student Lifer establishment has the professional training to decide what you may do, say or think about “sensitive”matters!