Monday, August 01, 2005

Scratch A Liberal, Get a Fascist -- Part 1

I'm sure you have heard that one before. In fairness, just as there are far right wingnuts in the GOP; God knows, we got them in the Democratic Party. From many of the posting about the DLC convention, you might assume it was the cause of all problems -- losing elections, vague platforms, poor candidates, & Nancy Grace.

Well, I'd like the Democrats to think a little more creatively about policy, and I have the sense that much of this is heresy to some core liberals. But here goes:

#1 Affirmative Action. From our friends at Wikipedia, they define it as:
"a policy or a program providing advantages for people of a minority group who are seen to have traditionally been discriminated against, with the aim of creating a more egalitarian society. This consists of preferential access to education, employment, health care, or social welfare."

I wouldn't imply that racism or any of the other "isms" are fixed, my issue is more with (a) is this policy working (still?) and (b) even if it is still working, is it creating more problems than it is fixing? If this policy is an attempt to force a fix on current services that aren't working - e.g. funding urban public elementary and child care services, does this compound the previous problem of fair social services?. This would be a fair program to correct the social ills for a "lost generation" between the '50s/'60s, but what should the criteria be for ending this program all together?

Here in Atlanta, we have a law that there is to be preferential treatment to city contracts to be selected if they are minority owned businesses. This is where my particular issue is, because I am having to directly pay more in taxes to pay minority contracts. I don't have statistics, but I would assume we are also trading off quality (thus controlling long term costs) by placating this minority contract criteria. So, where does this stop?

Open questions:
What are the criteria to end the program?
Are there some programs which should continue to receive support? If so, which ones?
Are there some programs which should be ended? If so, which ones?
Is the Bill Campbell legacy for government contracts a correct one?
Should the Democrats embrace change in policy?


Scott said...

Luckily for us, this minority contract rule has had little impact on our tax dollars. First, companies have done a good job of getting around the rule. Second, the method of awarding contracts has never had anything to do with quality, anyway, and very little to do with price. It's all about neoptism and favoritism. It's a longtime Southern tradition.
Anyway, the majority Black city leadership would likely hire Black contractors anyway, so the law is merely an excuse for them.

Otto Man said...

Atlanta's history of minority contracts was instituted to address a real problem in the early 1970s in which black-owned businesses, largely located in the city, were getting the shaft and white-owned businesses, located in the suburbs and dumping their tax money there, were still riding the old-boy network. Under Jackson it was abrupt, but Young really made it work. Atlanta had its best period of growth under his watch.

As far as affirmative action in education goes, the Democrats would be wise to propose a trade-off. We'll guarantee a complete end of affirmative action admissions to colleges 20 years down the line if we start fully funding elementary and high school education in all areas, so we no longer have a situation in which the rich neighborhoods have good schools and the poor ones have crappy ones. Until we get around that root cause of educational inequality, poor areas (largely minority, but not solely) will always be playing catch-up.

It'd be a winner for the Dems -- get rid of a social issue the GOP loves to harp on, and stress universal quality education, an issue people would be hard pressed to stand against.

InanimateCarbonRod said...

I'd gladly trade in race-based AA programs for economic-based AA programs. I don't see how you can claim that Michael Powell needs a leg up.

Of course, if as Otto says you make all public schools a great place for education, you eliminate the need for all this stuff.

Scott said...

I agree with ICR. Economic-based affirmative action would be more effective and have fewer valid arguments against it. It would also have a similarly large impact on minority populations.
However, current attitudes seem to openly discriminate against poor people. Current Right-wing thought seems to say that poor people are poor as their punishment for making bad choices. They make little or no exception for poor children. I think economic-based AA would have little chance of passing, but it would evoke nauseating stories of how Republicans "pulled themselves up by the bootstraps".

InanimateCarbonRod said...

Not only are people poor because of bad choices and laziness (even the children -- should've chosen better parents, sucker), but another reason people are poor is because they don't pray enough.

Love Jesus = Having as much money as God.

Unless you're a Jew, in which case you better not try to buy a baseball team in DC.