Total Pageviews

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Affirmative Action

There is a better way to do affirmative action, one that sidesteps the controversy about race.  It should be based on need, not race.  A person should get help if they come from an underprivileged background, with no consideration of race or ethnicity.  Since some minority groups have a high percentage of underprivileged families, there would be a high percentage of those families that benefit from affirmative action.  People of European descent would benefit at a much lower percentage, although the total number may still be high.  There are plenty of poor white people.  A poor white person needs help more than a middle-class black person.  Poor blacks and poor whites would both get help, if this policy were adopted.  Basic justice tells us that people who need help should be the ones to get it, regardless of skin color or other ethnic characteristics.

The main drawback of this policy is the effort that it takes to evaluate the merits of each applicant.  It is relatively easy to determine if someone is black or white, at least in most cases.  In order to have a totally need-based policy it would be necessary to employ many case workers to determine the eligibility of the applicants.  Of course, in my opinion, this is a good thing, since we need government policies that increase total employment.


  1. There are pros and cons to your post, but I believe there are a greater number of pros. I think many have felt providing help solely based on race is racism in its own right. Based on need and not color works for me. I'm sure someone could find a way to review an individual's status as "needy" without having to look at their skin as a qualifier.

  2. What about the "basic justice" of compensation for slavery? Lots of people see that as the main motive for AA. I'm on the fence about this -- the first of my ancestors to arrive in America came over from England as an indentured servant (so I'm told), so I could claim a 20% share if it worked that way.

    In any case, handing out cash isn't as good as handing out jobs, and handing out jobs isn't as good as handing out education, because education helps people get jobs (not to mention a better life) and jobs help people get cash. Free education for everyone!

    The problem with free education for everyone is, of course, that they'll try to do it without spending any more money, which means it turns into crappy education for everyone.

    Face it, as long as we're all "looking out for our own" there are no solutions -- and which of us is going to be the first to agree that his/her kids don't need so much wealth and privilege?

    1. Jess, you are over complicating the issue. We have affirmative action programs now, and have had them for decades. The current ones are race-based. All that is required is to change them to need-based.


Anonymous comments are not acceptable.