Posts Tagged ‘affirmative action’

Status of German women directors degraded to be “quota directors”

November 27, 2014

German companies have a reputation for excellence. But this is being sacrificed for the sake of political correctness. Currently every woman company director in Germany can be assumed to be of exceptional competence. When a new quota law goes into force in 2016, every woman director in Germany will be nothing more than a “quota employee”.

Discrimination to fight discrimination is an invitation to failure. I do not find any case of “affirmative action” – which is a euphemism for introducing a new, institutionalised and unjust discrimination ostensibly to correct the effects of some other unjust discrimination – which has actually achieved its objective. No program of enforced quotas has yet succeeded in achieving a condition where the “affirmative action” becomes unnecessary because the original injustice has been eliminated. Quotas or confiscation and rationing, enforced by the state and based on irrelevant criteria, remain a favourite tool of those with socialistic aspirations. But not only don’t they work, they also perpetuate the “injustice” that they are intended to correct.

Fifty years of quotas for the “scheduled castes” in India have only become entrenched and have been counter-productive. Rather than ensuring that the lot of the “disadvantaged” groups have improved such that they can compete fairly for jobs or education places, the “affirmative action” has instead ensured that competence and ability have been removed as requirements for selection. Even worse, the “system” is self-perpetuating and encourages the reduction of standards. Those who were to be helped now only need to be the “best of a bad lot” to be selected. Instead of raising standards, “affirmative action” allows and enables lower standards to become “acceptable”. To be classified as a “scheduled caste” has now become a path to privilege.

The experience  in the US with reservation of places in education and in the work-place for minorities has been no different. Even after over 25 years of “affirmative action” the SAT scores of African-Americans admitted to the top US universities remains significantly lower than the average of all those admitted. But this is only to be expected. Effectively the SAT scores to be targeted by aspirants for admission have been reduced for those qualifying for the privilege. Aiming high has no longer any value. Reserving jobs for women or Latinos or other “disadvantaged” minorities has only succeeded in lowering standards but – what is worst – also in making these lower standards acceptable. The quotas for the employing of ethnic Malays in Malaysia has removed any incentive for such “quota employees” to excel at anything other than being Malay. Quota students or quota employees are not burdened by requirements of superior performance or competence – let alone any expectations of excellence.

It should be obvious by now that I believe that quotas based on having an irrelevant characteristic are counter-productive and contribute to equalising standards only by lowering them. Even when quotas try to bring in minimum qualification requirements, it is inevitable that the criterion becomes being “just good enough” and not “to be best”. The use of quotas automatically and inevitably downgrades the quest for excellence. It is settling for the mediocre.

So I am not very impressed by the new German law which will now force the largest companies to have women constituting 30% of their supervisory boards from 2016.. Again the justification is that it will be a trigger for social change and anyway that there are enough women who are qualified. That misses the point. Women directors for these companies have now been effectively degraded to become quota directors – even where they are there for their competence. They can no longer claim to be the “best available” even if they are. Angela Merkel has had to give in to the socialists on this point. Forty percent of the German cabinet is women. Angela Merkel herself is there because she was the “best” for the job. But note that many of her female cabinet colleagues are there not because of their competence or excellence but only to fill an unwritten quota. Other countries are also considering quotas for women directors – not least in “politically correct” Sweden. For example, I observe when I watch Swedish TV – which is very politically correct – that it is easy to discern when a female presenter or a news reporter has been selected to fill some gender quota rather than for her excellence.

But why stop at women quotas? Why not quotas also for other minorities and abandon excellence or competence? Why should women be more privileged than some other disadvantaged minority? Is the disadvantage suffered by women more important to correct than the disadvantage suffered by a gay person? or an immigrant? Perhaps there will come a day when a German Supervisory Board will have to be at least 30% female, 10% gay, 5% transgender and 15% of immigrant origin! That will be the time when I shall sell any German stocks that I might have.

As an investor in any company I would prefer that the Directors be the best available and affordable and not “just good enough” to fill a compulsory quota.

Fifty years of counter-productive affirmative action

September 7, 2014

I don’t like “affirmative action” which is merely a euphemism for reverse discrimination. Whether for race or for gender, affirmative action and quotas not only don’t work, they are also counter-productive in that they perpetuate the differences they are supposed to eliminate. Quota systems only create a privileged – and often undeserving – class and reaffirm and enshrine the very differences they try to address. The analogy is with subsidies for non-commercial technologies which only remove all incentive for those technologies ever becoming commercial. The “reservation” system in India – for example – has only ensured that those “scheduled castes” privileged by such “reservation” have no longer any incentive to get their children to come out of the “reserved” category. In fact whole communities now fight to be classified as “backward” or as a “scheduled caste” to enjoy the undeserved privileges that brings. Competence and ability are given no value and – surprise, surprise – are in decline. Five decades after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the US, there is no discernible improvement in the position of the home-grown, US, black population.

Jason Riley is black, writes for the Wall Street Journal and has a new book : Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed

He addresses “which efforts have facilitated black advancement, and which efforts have impeded it? and makes the case that “Liberalism has also succeeded, tragically, in convincing blacks to see themselves first and foremost as victims. Today there is no greater impediment to black advancement than the self-pitying mindset that permeates black culture.”

He points out that

  • The black-white poverty gap has widened over the last decade and the poverty rate among blacks is no longer declining.
  • The black-white disparity in incarceration rates today is larger than it was in 1960.
  • Black unemployment rate has, on average, been twice as high as the white rate for five decades.
  • Black people from the US still continue to perform worse at school than other blacks, Hispanics, Asians and the white population.
  • Black teenage unemployment has never been as high at any time as with minimum wage laws.
  • Racial preferences in the form of affirmative action show no benefits.

Of course the liberals don’t much care for this book (as with this review in by Ian Blair who is a student of journalism and apparently a very politically correct person). But Riley’s language is simple and straightforward and his arguments appear – to me – to be well substantiated.

Of course his arguments also fit what my experience tells me – that quotas don’t work and that subsidies don’t often work and both are usually counter-productive. Reverse discrimination only serves to perpetuate the difference it is supposed to reduce.

As this recent article puts it, affirmative action in the US was just a sop;

Slate, Feb 2014:

Today, the statistics on black and white inequality are so unchanging that they can be recited by rote: The black unemployment rate holds steady at double the white unemployment rate; the median net worth for black households is about 7 percent of white households; annual per capita income for blacks is 62 cents for every dollar of per capita income for whites.* When presented with these figures, supporters of affirmative action typically use them as evidence that conservatives kept affirmative action from working. Others say the statistics are proof that affirmative action didn’t really work that well to begin with. But there’s always the third option to consider: that persistent racial inequality is, at least in part, the result of affirmative action working exactly as it was intended to.

Weight discrimination against obese politicians

May 21, 2014

Two new papers of little intrinsic interest but much more interesting in juxtaposition.

On the one hand we hear from the National Health Interview Survey that obesity is increasing in the US

Prevalence of Obesity by Occupation Among US Workers

Prevalence of obesity steadily increased from 2004 through 2008 across gender and race/ethnicity but leveled off from 2008 through 2011. Non-Hispanic black female workers in health care support (49.2%) and transportation/material moving (46.6%) had the highest prevalence of obesity. Prevalence of obesity in relatively low-obesity (white-collar) occupations significantly increased between 2004-2007 and 2008-2011, whereas it did not change significantly in high-obesity (blue-collar) occupations.

On the other hand we also hear from a new study that

Weight bias plagues U.S. elections

Overweight political candidates tend to receive fewer votes than their thinner opponents, finds a new study by a weight bias expert. Both obese men and women were less likely to get on the ballot in the first place. When it came to merely being overweight, women were underrepresented on the ballot, though men were not. This is consistent with previous research showing men who are slightly heavy tend not to experience discrimination like that of slightly overweight women.

Perhaps it should be a Fundamental Human Right not to be discriminated against merely for being obese? Maybe we need some affirmative action to ensure that we have the proper representation of fat people in employment, in politics and on Company Boards?

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