Affirmative Action

Discussion in 'World Events' started by Tiassa, Mar 28, 2000.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    First let me thank Oxygen for offering to share some insights on this one.

    Had one caught me during the '98 election season, you would have found me staunchly in support of Affirmative Action in the state of Washington. These days, I can accept that it's gone, and that's not a particularly huge difficulty for me, personally, but a couple of things that have never sat quite right with me are simply:

    * Why was Affirmative Action invented in the first place? (Legal precedents and legislative titles are cool, but I'm actually after the condition.)

    * Have we solved the conditions that brought us to install AffAct?

    The answer to the second question was (and is) most important to me. My primary support of Affirmative Action in Washington's I-200 vote was that nobody would address the question, much less give even the softest of answers. The campaign was bad, essentially an Us vs. Them fight. Essentially, people were upset because their ill-educated children were too stupid to get into highly competitive degree programs. (We have a problem with the word "investment" around here; we use it to justify the spending of money on anything but people ... we can build US$1 billion worth of sports arenas because it's an "investment" on future returns, but we're so bad about "investing" in our educational system that we had to assign the state's credit rating to our school districts in order to finance them.) See, the thing is that the votes up here are extremely predictable. The same communities that, by election, supported I-200 (AffAct cancellation), also routinely vote against school bond and levy issues. Frankly, I see a tie between the decline in quality of student we turn out and anti-Affirmative Action sentiment, though I must restrict that observation to Washington and, perhaps, Oregon. I cannot speak for the remainder of our perverse Union.

    Therein lies my problem with cancelling Affirmative Action. Realistically, I'd like to see a world where AffAct isn't even necessary, but all of these opinionated voters with their "rights" can't carry on well enough in their private interactions with people to make that happen. As public sentiment turns against AffAct, I am willing to let it go, because that negative sentiment is what I would hope to prevent.

    But in addition to strapping our local schools and then blaming skin color for the problem, there is the campaigners themselves. They are disingenuous ... their rhetoric has been invalidated by their actions since; it makes me wonder if the people who agreed with I-200's sponsors actually feel the same way as said sponsors, which is a scary idea.

    The disingenuous Campaigners, if I may call them that, have struck once more in this state, and are preparing their third wolf-as-sheep assault. The man behind these campaigners is Tim Eyman, whom I believe to be the Devil, inasmuch as the Devil can practically walk in Seattle.

    Eyman's people supported I-200 with the sentiment that I-200 was a liberal conspiracy against all the good and just people to destabilize the economy and promote a counterracist agenda. Never was it said in so many words, but when you add up the rhetoric, that's about the only phrase to describe it. What they do is push initiatives that reflect their own selfish desires (I'm referring to Eyman's people; as to Affirmative Action itself, I cannot say--perhaps that is the tragedy) and can be masked as something the people want.

    * I-200: Even though we haven't spent any proper funds on the schools without bleeding it out of the parents, we should blame our bad educational results on the minorities we're giving a free ride to. (So goes the rhetoric of that specific campaign.) Passed, November, 1998.

    * I-695: Eliminated our Vehicle Excise Tax (in which your registration cost a precentage of your vehicles value, as opposed to a flat tax.) Reset the VET to a flat-rate of US$30. Presently the state is operating without its primary funding mechanism; while your Acura costs 1000% less to register, the buses who deliver your food and make your copies can't get to work because the buses no longer have funding .... What's worse is that few of those who voted for the Initiative realize what it brings. In an effort to prevent a state withholding tax (or any new tax)the Initiative also prevented revenue legislation without electoral approval. But that income tax is the only thing they've got so far to replace a respectable portion of the missing revenue. The other aspect of that is that the VET was installed, officially, to stave off a state withholding tax. Passed, November, 1999; electoral approval of revenue overturned March, 2000).

    * I-711: Eyman and his people are gathering signatures to put this on the ballot. Essentially, Eyman blames our traffic troubles on carpools. Thus, he seeks to get rid of them. Presently, the Fed has gotten involved, reminding us that HOV (High-Occupancy Vehicle) lanes are federally mandated on that stretch of federal highway. Should we pass this law, the following will occur overnight: 42% more cars on the road during rush hour; loss of federal highway funds for Interstate 5 (we're already out of road money because I-695 wiped out electorally approved dollars for that purpose). Eyman is actually reassuring voters that putting more cars on the road will help our growing traffic troubles.

    And what that rant is about is essentially to offer an idea of who exactly is leading our local fight against Affirmative Action. (On that notion, I would look to Mr Eyman and ask about that forty acres and a mule.)

    When I say that Washington was duped into cancelling Affirmative Action, I mean they were led astray by a hateful, calculating man. (Yes, it has been rumored that Eyman once got a ticket from a black cop for speeding with expired tabs in the HOV lane, but how tough is it to invent those rumors?) Eyman is simply inventing attractive legislation in the image of his morals, and selling them to voters in the most exploitative regard. Instead of healing AffAct-inspired wounds, he only ground salt in them by polarizing our communities. Furthermore, he's taken a serious swing at the local economic combine and damn near destroyed it. Now he's out to crush what's left of transportation.

    It's not the Affirmative Action itself, but that we're hitting it with a public rage that has done nothing to address the questions of why we installed such a system in the first place. I mean, I don't need Jesse Jackson telling me that AffAct has to go before I'll believe it. On the other hand, as is the case of Eyman and his approach, I often wonder when any greedy person (much less a greedy racist) tells me he's working toward my benefit.

    We can throw out AffAct if we want. I'd just like it to be for honest reasons. But that's what I meant when I said, duped.

    Now ... perhaps this is a little combative, for the idea isn't practical. But I'm still wondering that, if we're going to apply a huge principle to something like Affirmative Action, then it's going to spill into other aspects of our political system. For instance, I referred to the forty acres and a mule. I might also ask who's going to pay back the half-trillion dollars our US government has stolen from legitimately recognized nations (our tribal nations) and "lost"?

    I understand that Affirmative Action eventually needs to go. But with Campaigners like Eyman pushing the fight, I'm left wondering if it's because we still hate people for their skin color, or because we actually care about the right thing.

    thanx for putting up with it,

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  3. Oxygen One Hissy Kitty Registered Senior Member

    My response is coming from the state of California. In the particular region I live in, the ethnic diversity has become so widespread that there is really no such thing as a "minority" anymore. This has been the case for over two decades now.

    I understand that Affirmative Action was needed in the years before, when we had to convince a lot of people that Blacks, Mexicans, and Oriental people didn't have cooties and had a lot more brains and talent than they were being given credit for. America is supposed to be the land of opportunity, right?

    Unfortunately, somewhere along the line things got twisted really badly. Favoritism swung the other way. Rather than a law that said "you have to give them a fair chance", it became a law that said "you have to hire them because you haven't met your quota of that race yet". In my opinion, this is a terrible situation. I would feel offended, disgusted, and degraded if I found out I was hired at my job because the law said that they had to have a female represented on the work force, and not because I'm a skilled database manager with a particular talent in Filemaker Pro. I would feel useless, like I was there only because they had to hire me, not because they wanted to hire me.

    Affirmative Action worked well at the start, but how many generations must endure watching one race get slapped aside in favor of another based solely on race? I would think that we could find another way. Unless a job called for personal specifics for definite reasons, such as sexually sensitive occupations, I believe an applicant should not be required to list any more than his or her Social Security Number, as well as skill-related information. Other, necessary information, such as age and education may be asked for, but I believe that this would be enough for a potential employer or admissions personnel to determine if further inquiry is meritted.

    A side thought has just occurred to me regarding the sensitivity of SSNs and how one would address a person of unknown name. Perhaps each application could be assigned a file number. The applicant would keep a receipt with this file number on it. He or she could then be asked for by file number or some such address if the person in question wasn't the one who answered the phone. This would also be a good indication of their organizational skills, should that be a factor.

    Maybe reducing people to numbers in certain situations isn't such a bad idea after all.

    I have been in two situatons where I was discriminated against because of Affirmative Action. (Actually, in the second episode, I wasn't the victim, so much as my sister-in-law had been.) In the first situation, I was the shoe-in for Valedictorian at my high-school graduation. I held the absolute highest scores and GPA, in spite of the fact that I had been jerked around from one school to the other. In fact, this situation is what led my counselor to tell me not to be discouraged if my scores suffered (then he saw my scores. There was no way in Hell they were going to suffer...). Every teacher and faculty member at Andrew P. Hill High School knew I was going to get the cherished spot. My English teacher proudly offered me free class time to write my oration. Then the East Side Union High School District stepped in and said that the Vietnamese students weren't represented enough in the graduating class and they had to pick the Valedictorian from among their ranks. I will say that even my Vietnamese friends were shocked. My good friend Yen, who was from Thailand (not Vietnam, and she'd never let anybody forget that), raised such an outrage that even the teachers rallied behind me. It was to no avail and the District forced two sets of Vietnamese twins on the school. (Tell me they got their points on their own...) There had been talk of boycotting the graduation (even from students I didn't get along with), but I realized that there would never be another Class of '85. The ceremony went on, and afterwards my classmates asked me to deliver what they considered to be the true speech. To this day I am angered by the injustice dealt to me by the District and humbled by the honor bestowed on me by the Class of '85 "Youngbloods" of Andrew P. Hill High.

    The second incident also involved the Vietnamese. It's a wonder I'm not more prejudiced than I am. My sister-in-law needed some prenatal tending to. My family is not rich, so we went to the local clinic. We walked up to the receptionist's desk and requested an appointment. The lady said in a matter-of-fact voice (and I quote) "We only help Vietnamese here. You go someplace else." I went ballistic. After they had agreed to see my sister-in-law I demanded to see the head adminstrator. He showed up and explained to me that it was a Vietnamese clinic, and that such policies were legal because the Latinos had a similar clinic and the Vietnamese needed one too. I asked where the "Whites Only" and "Blacks Only" clinics were. I was escorted out.

    The first situation was a direct result of Affirmative Action. Far beyond "Sour Grapes", I was able to prove to the District that the spot was rightfully mine. It didn't matter, though, because of Affirmative Action. The second situation is less clearly a result of Affirmative Action. It represents, I believe, a sad twisting of the original intent of the law.

    By this time, at least two entire generations have grown up without the blatant discrimination of the past. Granted, there is still discrimination. However, it is time to find another tool to handle what is essentially a mop-up operation, now that the bulk of us have at least come to tolerate diversity, if not embrace it.

    I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will fight, kill, and die for your right to say it.
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  5. Boris Senior Member Registered Senior Member


    It's all fine and good, but I agree with Tiassa -- we should have never thrown out Affirmative Action without <u>FIRST</u> proposing and agreeing upon an alternative. Now, we have <u>nothing</u>. And we will continue to have nothing, since as you said, discrimination cases are more rare today and no longer are an issue politically important enough to warrant efforts to create new laws.

    It's like saying: I don't like this damn house I'm living in. I'm gonna just burn it down, and then, just maybe, I'll start thinking what to replace it with.

    And I also agree with Tiassa on addressing the real causes of social disparities. No matter what actions are taken to prevent discrimination, it will continue to live, even if ever so indirectly, through the disadvantage of the poor. I don't believe that social equalization programs should target race. But I strongly believe that we need a socialist agenda to target wealth (or rather, lack thereof) -- and by extension all the associated ill-effects. If we aren't going to take from the rich to give to the poor (ala the Soviet system) -- we should at least take from the rich to provide the poor with a solid opportunity to become rich. This includes, at a minimum, fully paid education and job training that in quality match the education and job training received by the rich. As the system currently is, the rich are getting richer, while the poor are getting poorer. And that's no way to head into the future.

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  7. Stretch Registered Senior Member


    Howzabout that ... and I thought the USA was the liberal land for the minorities! I live in the land of A.A - South Africa. An affirmative action program to undo the racial and economic injustices of the past is actaully included in our constitution! And in a short space of time there have been real changes in the workplace as regards who(what race/sex) gets the job. Only through a pretty rigid implementation of a balance of racial percentages and skill within the workplace have we, as I said, in a fairly short space of time managed to turn the tide of past practises. Not withstanding the practical realities and problems regarding this type of implementation, I congratulate the intent and the sofar success. On the downside, my job is in potential jeapordy and we have a middle management income tax rate of 45%!!! This is to fund social irregularities of the past. Education, Medical Services, etc. But at least our economy is very stable and the inflation rate is at a 25 year low. A couple of percentage points above most Western economies. Come back Rothschilds, all is forgiven.

    Take care.
  8. Oxygen One Hissy Kitty Registered Senior Member

    Boris-I agree that some kind of plan is still needed, but I have to disagree with a plan that takes from the rich and gives to the poor without considering that most rich people actually worked hard for their money. Even the old money had somebody who worked hard to get it. I believe, and I hope this was your intent, that the industrious poor should have the opportunity to make good without an Old Boy network beating him or her down at every turn. Social programs are definitely needed to help those in need (I've been there myself), and fat cat monopolies need very much to be brought to rein, but I don't expect the government to carry everybody who just flat-out wants a free ride.

    I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will fight, kill, and die for your right to say it.
  9. 666 Registered Senior Member

    Tiassa & Boris,

    Affirmative action in it's day was needed. Does it need to be replaced with some thing eles? No. Sence affirmative action was put into place many cival rights groups have formed and craps loads of legislation for pepole to fall back upon has been put into place. Should it be instated on a state by state level? Yes. Here in Northren California it is not a big problem. In BF noware Oklahoma they may need some thing in place to help those who are discriminated. In short... At this point in life it is not some thing that is needed on a federal level, but on a state level. Executing it on a federal level would be like saying "I need a small dose of some toxic drug to help with health problem. So you should be forced to take it to." Lets not forget voting. Shortly after affirmative action was cast out by the voters of California A massive protest march was luanched. Something to the tun of 9000 adults attened. When a survey was taken of these pepole only 1/4 voted in that election. What would have the result been if the all voted??? Thats some thing we will never know, becuase they never voted.

    All I know is what I understand. All I understand is what I know.

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  10. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

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    AA was an effort to help people move beyond the barriers of racial discrimination--obviously. It was a socialist effort to influence social behavior. It created artificial opportunity for those with minority status. It may be a superfluous effort in todays America, even more so in the thriving economy that we now enjoy.

    In my home (Portland, Oregon) we are a more open society and have a more colorful perception of ourselves. People of minority are very active in our economy and in our political system. These people have established their roles as equal members, contributing much to our circle. I really don't see a need here for AA; however, I can't speak for the needs of other communities. What I do see here is a need for economic developement in target areas of the communtiy, the neighborhoods which tend to collect the refuse of our society, where people of all races are in need of additional opportunities. This has been a recent focus of our local government, but the effort has been mundane to date. My observations lead me to believe that the minority status of an individual should now be measured with an economic ruler, not with a color wheel.

    Racism is still alive and will be with us for a long time, but I feel that the attitudes towards it have changed to such a degree that there will always be strong opposition to it, and I can't imagine our communities reverting back to the ways of old. People of various race have established themselves within our political and economic systems. No ammount of hatred will be able to change that. Their value is too great and it is now their task to assert their abilities.

    As for the decision of the popular vote, I'm certain that emotions and popular perceptions played a role; but I also think that people are not so thin in their thinking. I bet that most of those voters felt that it was time to move forward. A social fix is needed only until the problem is resolved. Maybe it was time to remove the bandage and have a look at the wound. If it's too soon for this, then another fix needs to be applied.

    Taking from the rich and giving to the poor: truly, all men are not created equal, and this is not a land of equal opportunity, and in a true capitalist society you must be a predator. Unfortunately, this is where much of the resistance to social programs and added taxes arrises. In the wild, few hunters will share their catch. We have this animal-like mentality at play within all of us. We all play the role of a hunter.

    Our capitalist ways are simply an extension of our animal nature. I view social programs as an attempt to evolve our society beyond the human condition, to evolve our thinking and the way we interact within the larger circle. Some form of Socialism and Communism may be waiting for us down the road, but we won't reach it until we grow beyond our lust for consumption and power. Everyone must be a willing partner in society; otherwise, it will fail.

    It's all very large.

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