Affirmative Action and the CCRI

Willaim Thurber - MKTG PhD Student thurber at FMGMT.MGMT.UTORONTO.CA
Tue Jul 30 09:32:14 MDT 1996


On Tue, 30 Jul 1996, Dennis Putnam in response to my post wrote:

> You are using circular reasoning. You justify the position that populations
> are of equal ability by arguing individuals, on average, are of equal ability
> within population groups. My point is that individuals are qualfied or not
> qualified based entirely on their work ethic and perseverence. There is no
> inidvidual of any population group that cannot be successful with hard work
> and perseverence.

I'm not sure what is circular here, the aggragate average is not the same
as every individual.  I agree that what makes a qualified individual
depends in great part upon work ethic and perseverence, I continue this
mode of reasoning by saying that AS POPULATIONS there is no difference
between white and black, and therefore they should be proportionatly
represented in the workforce of any employer.  As for your contention that
"there is no individual that cannot be successful"  that is the ideal but
unfortunatly it is not the case.  Too often, sometimes without a concious
effort people judge the qualifications of one person to perform a task to
be a function of the lightness of their skin (and hair).  Thus while it is
possible for anyone to achieve success, the odds are stacked against
blacks.  I argue that quotas provide a valid methodology to check to see
if a firm's hiring practices are not stacked in favour of one race.

> Quotas are wrong because it is unconstitutional

WHY? I would argue that quotas are in fact a living operalization of
"equal protection under the law"

> and because they do not result
> in aquiring success as result of ability but rather artifical success because
> of skin color.

If a firm, with 1000 employees, in a city that is 50% black has a
workforce that is 75% white what is the probablity that they have hired
the best person in each hiring event?   You might agrue 100% because the
market would punish them if they didn't.  I don't believe that the
invisible hand of the market is that sensitive, I do know that a table of
binomial probabilities is that sensitive.

In addition they punish true hard work because of the opposite
> skin color.

So you are claiming that when a firm like I have outlined above exists it
is only because white people work harder?  Why do you not think that the
black applicants work as hard as white applicants on average?

I know that you are not, but I think you are aguing a postion that if a
firm wants to discriminate they should be allowed to in the name of
freedom.  I cannot support that positon legally or morally, a rare
convergence of the law and morality

Still blind but desperately tring to understand
--Will



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