Affirmative Action: Good or Bad?

Just the name of this policy is rather ambiguous. Unless you have done your research, the phrase “affirmative action” might cause you to wonder what that is. In essence, affirmative action is a social justice policy that seeks to undo past injustices against minorities by providing special incentives to institutions to hiring them, accepting them into schools among other economic arenas.

affirmative_action abolishSome legislation, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that outlawed all sorts of discrimination against anyone based on race, gender, and religion, and included desegregation of public schools. This legislation was followed up by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that ended all discriminatory voter registration requirements, like those created under Jim Crow laws.

The idea originally put forth by this policy is to reduce discrimination. Ensuring that all people of any race, gender or religious affiliation are protected under the 14th amendment is a key issue. All citizens have the right to equal protection under the law; and anyone that seeks to obstruct that right should be handled by the standards of the law. However, this policy that was originally meant to increase opportunity has turned into something that favors one race or gender over another, thus discriminating the non-preferred groups.

While these actions to prevent discrimination are the right thing to do, what has happened is that many legislators have decided that actions done by ancestors had to be corrected by providing special accommodations for minority groups, and that all areas of society must be “diversified.” What has happened is that if an employer has two possible job candidates, one is a Caucasian male; the other is a black female. Affirmative action policies prefer the black woman to be hired over the Caucasian male, even if the woman is less qualified for the job. Resulting from this is that the employer may not have the qualified employee he needs, and the well qualified man will not have the job he is qualified for and also needs.

Does it help our economy to be diverse if the more qualified are denied jobs simply due to tax credits for hiring or admitting minorities? Thomas Sowell has theorized that affirmative action policies encourage members of non-preferred groups to classify themselves as members of preferred groups, thus reaping the benefits or affirmative action. He makes the case that members of the middle to upper class of the black community reap the most benefits, as they are considered members of the preferred groups by race, while non-preferred groups such as poor Caucasians cannot receive any of these benefits. The fact of the matter is that affirmative action policies are based on race, and not economic situation.
affirmative_action-pirateIs it really fair to offer incentives for hiring and admittance based on race or gender? Is that not discriminating? Diversity can be a good thing to have in society, but when the government tries to create that diversity artificially, problems will begin to arise. To put it in Reagan terminology, the government is not the solutions to the problem, the government is the problem. How can one expect to correct discrimination against one group by discriminating against another? Sometimes fire must be fought with fire, but can you fight racism with racism?

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Follow Seth Connell on Twitter @theRealConnells.

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