Monday, August 18, 2008

The Quota Dodge

So one of the predominant misconceptions out there today about affirmative action is that it's a quota system. This is false, as I have gently reminded CNN, but it still seems to hold a lot of sway over the electorate when debating plans to abolish equal opportunity programs like affirmative action.

But now, civil rights groups fighting to defend affirmative action are test-running a new plan that seeks to neutralize the misconceptions on quotas. Basically, in response to a Ward Connerly backed initiative to ban affirmative action outright, they are attempting to place on the ballot a counter-measure of their own which would prohibit quota or point-based systems (what were outlawed in Bakke and Gratz, respectively), but would otherwise maintain the ability of the state to use affirmative action as upheld by the Supreme Court in cases like Grutter.

Connerly's people are ticked off, saying that it "was created just to confuse and deceive voters." On the one hand, they sort of have a point -- voters may not understand the difference between the two initiatives, and could vote for both on the misunderstanding that both would bar affirmative action (which would set off one hell of a court battle). On the other hand, the whole thing wouldn't be a problem if anti-affirmative action forces weren't aggressively pedelling the lie that racial quotas are still part of modern affirmative action, so my sympathy for their claims of deception is limited. Moreover the counter-initiative does apparently tell voters that it will uphold legal affirmative action programs, which makes it much clearer.

Most importantly, the counter-initiative helps give Colorado voters a genuine choice as to just what they want to exclude from their state. Do they just dislike quota systems, or do they also want to eliminate counseling programs for freshman college women, mentoring for at-risk minority youth, outreach programs to Latino youngsters, and other race and gender-conscious plans which enjoy much broader support? With the knowledge that all sides oppose racial quotas, the debate can proceed in a far more honest and fair manner than what we've heard thus far. And that's worth celebrating.

See also a certain brilliant and sexy blogger.


Julia said...

On the other hand, the whole thing wouldn't be a problem if anti-affirmative action forces weren't aggressively pedelling the lie that racial quotas are still part of modern affirmative action, so my sympathy for their claims of deception is limited.

Ugh, you said it. It's especially annoying when you try to correct someone and tell them that quotas have been ruled unconstitutional, and they still claim that "it happens anyway." But I told you that story already.

And: holy crap, I live in Colorado now!!

Superdestroyer said...

There are still quotas. These days they are called set asides

"There are contracts set aside at the federal level for "disadvantaged" companies certified under the Small Business Administration's 8(a) program or the Small Disadvantaged Businesses." From the Stockton California newspaper in July

Yes, there are quotas and everyone who supports AA would love to have quotas if they were the least bit legal and many pro-AA groups keep quotas going even when the courts keep rulings that they are discriminatory and a violation of civil rights.

Superdestroyer said...

You may want to look at before claiming that Affirmative Action does not mean quotas.

David Schraub said...

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Gosh, I repent and recant. Very compelling. Next time don't link to the "trackback" icon.

Seriously, isn't the fact that you presumably were admitted to some college, somewhere, a hopeless indictment of the claim that we're in a merit based system?

Superdestroyer said...

An educated man like yourself resorting to personal insults. No wonder all of the hard working Asian students were beating you at debate.

Of course using personal insults means you ducked the issued that race based quotas still exists and that many local, state, and federal agencies will use them every chance they get.

Of course, everyone who reads you must realize that you do not really see anything wrong with race based quotas. It is just those pesky courts that keep striing them down. I guess some judges just do not realize that the legacy of slavery means that the Constitution can be ignored anytime those of the left want to ignore it.

Of course you fit the profile of the elite white supporter of politically corrected racism since you attended a univeristy where minorities were underrepresented. I guess what is acceptable for the middle class if not acceptable if it affect you.

Why don't you give up your seat at UC lawschool so that some black student who is suffering from the legacy of slavery can take the seat. I guess leadership to you means making demands of others that you would never ask of yourself.

David Schraub said...

Actually, I beat my wonderful Asian-American (now-Rhodes scholar) friend at nationals, but no matter.

I'm pretty sure both Carleton and Chicago are affirmative action practicing schools, so I'm confused why I have an obligation to compensate again over and on top of the policy choice I'm advocating and they're already practicing. Most of the schools I applied to practice AA. For all I know, in some of the schools I was rejected from that played a role (which I'm fine with, because I don't think AA is external to merit-based selection -- see, e.g., Amy Gutmann, "Responding to Racial Injustice," in Gutmann & K. Anthony Appiah, Color Conscious: The Political Morality of Race (Princeton UP 1996), 106-178). I actually did turn down several schools which don't practice AA (admittedly not for that reason -- although I think that their lack of the program does make them -- all else equal -- inferior schools). Given that AA obviously does not mean "White people never get to go to college" (which again, flows back to my "how did you ever attend college" point -- "even" the schools that practice AA are still overwhelmingly White!), the point fades into idiocy.

Superdestroyer said...

If figures you would reference a pro-reparations elite academic as supporting your unconstitutional view of Affirmative Action. I guess those in the elite Ivory towers just cannot understand how group punishment and group benefit is illegal and shameful.

Of course, the problem with talking about AA for higher education instead of talking about the blatantly unconstitutional AA busing programs it is everyone ignores how AA takes career fields off of the table.

If someone like Ms. Gratz is denied entry to a selective university because of her race, Ms. Gratz loses many career opprotunities. Attending a directional state university means that people should only pursue careers in normally distributed career fields such as nursing, teaching, law enforcement, civil service, or healthcare and must avoid law, investment banking, finance, politics or any other career field that is log-normally distributed.

When the University of Virginia denies entry to more qualified whites in order to admit lower qualified blacks, the state is telling certain whites to pick another career field and is much less exclusive. That is blatant race based social engineering and should be repugnant to everyone. However, I guess attending an elite university like Ms. Amy Gutmann means that you do not think about the human carnage causes by separate and unequal admission criteria.

David Schraub said...

There is, I think, a big gap between attending "Michigan law school" (top ten in the country) and attending a "directional state university" (presumably a tier-3 or 4 law school). As one advocate pointed out, the real choice is whether Gratz goes to Michigan or goes to a school like Northwestern or Cornell (or take my case -- do I go to Harvard or do I have to settle for *sniff* Chicago).

No wonder my sympathy is limited.

Maybe White folks should stop whining and try working harder. That's what I did. But instead we have you, who sneers at intelligence, academic work, and the university "elite", and then has the gall to complain that you're being treated unfairly. But maybe it's your hostility to higher level education that's the real problem here? An anti-educational mindset will get you nowhere, my friend.

Superdestroyer said...

Gratz was the undergraduate student. She ended up attending UM-Dearborne. She could have attended Central or EAstern Michigan but with probably no difference in career prospects.

The reason people do not like quotas is that is rewards people for being members of a group and punishes members of another group.

Why should white females in high school be told that not only do you need to succeed but you better make sure there are plenty of other white females of the merit scale between you and the first minority applicant? That is what white females are being told in high schools today.

I also find it humours that it perfectly acceptable for elite, white progressive to tell whites to work hard and do more but it is politically incorrect ot tell blacks or Hispanics to work harder. Maybe if you had the same opinio of the abilities of blacks and Hispanics and you do of whites, you would realize how racist is sounds.

I support academic learning and intellect. It is the quota proponents who discount academic learning and put group membership ahead of learning and hard work. Image what would happen if from the first day of kindergarten that every student was told that they will be evaluated as an individual and that those who work the hardest and do the best will benefit the most. Of course, they keep the elite white Democrats from passing favors around to minority groups that vote overwhelmingly Democratic, so I know that it will never happen.

And if you want to see a real anti-intellectual environment, please try visting an HBCU someday.

David Schraub said...

I also find it humours [sic] that it perfectly acceptable for elite, white progressive to tell whites to work hard and do more but it is politically incorrect ot [sic] tell blacks or Hispanics to work harder.

Citation needed on the latter count -- when have I ever discounted the need for Black or Latino students to work hard? All the Black bloggers I read always make that point.

And I, for one, find your lack of spelling ability "humours".

And if you want to see a real anti-intellectual environment, please try visting an HBCU someday.

OMFG Citation needed!

Look. I don't understand why you even want to see people going to "elite" universities. You clearly don't respect them. You don't think they do good work. Even the White people like Gutmann who teach there (and presumably had to overcome extra hurdles because it's so tough to be White in America today) you dismiss with a wave. So why bother? You babble on and on about merit, but faced with folks who actually have merit based credentials and say "dude, you're wrong on all counts here", and suddenly they're "elite intellectuals" (which is bad all of the sudden). It's baffling.

Unknown said...

Ah yes, sometimes I don't know how I can even get out of bed in the morning knowing the obstacles I face as a white person in the US.

"I guess attending an elite university like Ms. Amy Gutmann means that you do not think about the human carnage causes by separate and unequal admission criteria."

What is this Gutmann University you speak of? Did I miss an important application opportunity for college? As a white person, I really need to scramble for every opportunity there is, what with minorities gobbling them all up.

Superdestroyer said...

All you have to do is read Bill Maxwell's series of articles about trying to teach English at Stillman College.

Of course, you already know that the law schools associated with the HBCU's have some of the lowest bar exam pass rates, that the medical schools associated with the HBCU's have the lowest board exam pass rates, and that the US News review of colleges points out that HBCU's have the lowest compliance rates with Title IX.

Unlike most elite, white progressives, I have actually been on campus at HBCU's and have actually taken a couple of classes with them. Of course, I realize that anecdotal evidence is only acceptable if it supports elite, white progressives.

I think the most deserving people should be going to elite universities becuase so many career fields demand a degree from an elite universities. Why should McKinsey or Bain be limited to elite white progressives because they are the only ones to attend elite universities and get degrees in economics or political science.

At least blacks have quotas to help the overcome not going to elite universities but whites to not.

Of course, you face the opposite question. If directional state universities is good enough for white students with 1200 SATS and should not be a hinderance to their life goals, then why do black students with 1100 on their SAT tests need quotas ans set asides to get into an elite university in order to realize thier dreams.

Who is at a larger disadvantage: The white students at directional state universities or the black students who is academically below 90% of the students at an elite university. Given the example of people like Michelle Obama, I would say that the whites are at a higher disadvantage.

You also never review the issue of how many times should blacks benefit from AA. Why should someone like Michelle Obama how go into Princeton on a quota, then get into Harvard law on a quota?

Shouldn't one boost up per person per lifetime be enough instead of blacks getting the benefit of a lifetime of boosts?

David Schraub said...

Stillman college is, by the author's own admission, "tiny, poor and struggling", with not a single student with an SAT score over 1000. No freakin' duh it's not going to have the best students around -- but that's true regardless of whether we're talking about an HBCU or an HWCU.

I had a professor at Carleton teach at Tuskegee University, a far more elite HBCU (though still not at Carleton's level), and she said there was no difference between them and us with regards to the student's capabilities. I've also had a friend who turned down Carleton to attend Morehouse College, probably the #1 HBCU in the country. Good colleges, whether historically Black or historically White get good students. Bad one's get bad students. This is not a revelation to anyone.

Look, if you genuinely believe that White folks are disadvantaged in this country, and that they have it the roughest, there's nothing I can do to get you off the psychodelic journey you're trippin' on. All I can recommend is that you talk to some doctors about a "reverse Michael Jackson" so you can reap the benefits White folks are so sadly deprived of.

Anonymous said...

As long as a company can be sued for nothing other than its failure to have its staff break down ethnically about the way the overall population does, de facto quotas will be used to prevent lawsuits. It doesn't matter if they're banned. If you ban the open use of something, but punish people who don't secretly use it, people will secretly use it.

As for college admissions, tacking on points for a applicant being from a non-Asian minority group (or for "leadership", a code word meaning the same thing ... also implying that whites and Asians make bad leaders ... funny what passes for tolerance these days) leads to quotas as well. They're just not overt quotas. If someone protests that a student body is only 8% black, but doesn't protest that a student body is 14% black, that is a quota. That "someone" is in charge of a lot of admissions, either directly or by implicit threat of Mau Mauing. With subjective criteria like "interview performance", colleges can pretty much admit whoever they want.

Back before the Reverse Discrimination Era (before the late 60s, more or less) black college applicants were discouraged from including photos with their applications. Interviews were not very common, basically because air travel was not common. Students were judged mainly on grades and test scores. From the 1940s to the 1960s average black IQ at a given college was usually on par with the average white IQ. This is no surprise, given that the standardized tests used at the time correlated so well with IQ.

After affirmative action was imposed, average black IQs in colleges plummeted, and black dropout rates increased. Without frivolous interviews to assess "leadership potential", this sort of thing would not be possible, and black scholars could rely on their college degrees to prove their excellence as their predecessors did during the Equal Opportunity era of US history (approximately 1945-1965). (This of course has a lot to do with the general dumbing down of education, to big a subject to get into right here.)

(P.S. Shouldn't be too hard to figure out what Superdestroyer was linking to. More than that I recommend Thomas Sowell's unforgettable work on the matter.)

Anonymous said...

Joe said...
"Ah yes, sometimes I don't know how I can even get out of bed in the morning knowing the obstacles I face as a white person in the US."

So classy of you to mock the suffering of 1.36 million rape and assault victims. Of course, you can always fall back on slavery, which never ever ever ever happened to white people, as an excuse.

Tell me, Joe, which gated community do you live in? You got some pretty powerful friends in the media? Maybe have cocktails with the Weather Underground in Manhattan high-rises?