Affirmative Action and the CCRI

Willaim Thurber - MKTG PhD Student thurber at FMGMT.MGMT.UTORONTO.CA
Thu Jul 25 04:47:40 MDT 1996

On Wed, 24 Jul 1996, JB wrote:

> The bottom line is that the US is a Constitutional gov and nothing in the
> constitution gives anyone a legal right to discriminate or use quotas. If
> you are committing an illegal act you are acting against our laws and are
> enemies of those that conform to our premise of equal rights. Affirmative
> Action is unconstitutional and those that use it should and must be duly
> punished.  JB

If you subscribe to the notion that all people are created equal then
examining the racial makeup of an organization's workforce is (usually) a
valid measure of the presence (or lack of) systemic discrimination.  If
the workforce is representative of the local population then a strong
argument can be
made that no discrimination of the basis of a demographic characteristic
exists.  Occasionally, discrimination can be justified on the basis of
differentials in skills, I remember a case involving an Alaskan fish
processing plant that had a low representation of aboriginals in white
collar positions (If he is still around I'm sure Steve Laib could cite the
case).  Note that I am taking as axiomatic the notion that the races are
equally qualified, some have argued on this list that this is not often
the case and that schools in poor areas are not as good as others and thus
the population of applicants from these areas is not as qualified.  My
answer to this is two-fold.

First, what a wonderful way to introduce the pressures of the marketplace
into the educational system.  The invisible hand may not always be
benevolent, but it should work in this situation, especially given the
large property tax burden carried by the employer.  Second, I would argue
that the additional tax imposed upon a business in terms of additional or
remedial training it would have to provide to get one group onto equal
footing with another is a small price to pay for economic justice.  This
also introduces market forces into the system, an expanding organization
may choose not to locate in a community with a school system that has a
large variance in the quality of its graduates between institutions, since
they will be forced to make up for the differences.  Communities that do a
good job of educating all its citizens will be rewarded.

I do not support the weakening of OBJECTIVELY RELEVANT standards.  By Obj.
rel. I mean those that can be defended in court as reasonable.  For example
if fire fighters are required to be able to hit a target with a hose
without aid then all applicants male or female should be held to this
standard.  However often the qualifications are arbitrarily imposed and
sometimes they are blatantly biased.  I am reminded of the case in Canada
a few years ago where banks required that their employees be able to touch
their toes, eliminating pregnant workers from the workforce.  When
challenged in court, most if not all male managers could not touch their
toes either.  Here in Canada, the Canadian Legion in Calgary has a rule
against the wearing of hats inside the legion as a show of respect to
fallen comrades.  Thus Sikh vets in turbans are not allowed inside a
Legion Hall without removing their turbans.  If that sounds reasonable to
you consider this:  during the Calgary Stampede the wearing of cowboy hats
inside a legion hall is permitted.

BTW in a not unrelated story, last week there was a bit of a controversy
here in Toronto.  Donovan Bailey, the Canadian 100m champion, was quoted as
saying that with respect to the treatment of Ben Johnson (he of steroid
enhanced sprint fame) "Canada was every bit a racist as the US".  The
controversy was not that Ben Johnson had not been mistreated by Canadian
society, but more "we are not as bad as the Americans"


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