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Sunday, May 04, 2008

"That all men are equal is a proposition which, at ordinary times, no sane individual has ever given his assent." - Aldous Huxley

***

Notes from Thomas Sowell's Affirmative action around the world: an empirical study:

AA In Sri Lanka: History
- There used to be racial harmony between the Tamils and the Sinhalese before AA - there were no race riots in the first half of the 20th century
- Tamil protests at AA started out peaceful, but were whipped up by Sinhalese politicians and Buddhist monks
- Students' test scores underwent 'standardization' - you were graded relative to students in your ethnic group
- "A bus was accosted by a mob and the bus driver ordered to turn over a Tamil. He pointed to a woman passenger who was then taken out into the street, where her belly was ripped open with a broken bottle and she was set on fire. People in the mob 'clapped and danced' as she died in agony"
- Politicizing of intergroup disparities and group identity politics led to the violence
- "Complacency is never in order when racial or ethnic relationships are concerned, for even generations of peaceful co-existence can quickly turn ugly when the right circumstances and the right demagogue come together. Nor are such developments as readily stopped as they are started. Even concessions that would have brought peace in the past can fail to bring peace after many bitter experiences"

AA In Nigeria
- "An econometric study in 1997 estimated that Nigeria's economic growth rate would have been almost double its actual rate if its ethnic diversity were only average for African nations, instead of being nearly double the average."
- The local Nigerians the British hired as low-level administrators "tended to become critical of indigenous African institutions and authorities - and eventually also critical of British authorities and their colonial rule"
- The Northern Muslims were marginalised because they did not want mission schools and thus missed out on educational opportunities
- Group preferences and quotas do not enhance "national unity"

AA In the United States: History
- The Constitution and Civil Rights Act "mandate equal treatment of individials" so AA is disguised as countering discrimination or promoting diversity (though this is not proven)
- AA evolved out of laws "repudiating the principle of group preferences and quotas"
- Though every misfortune of blacks is blamed on whites, almost all of this is false
- Blacks had higher rates of labour force participation and marriage than whites in the late nineteenth century, a generation out of slavery. This continued until the 1960s
- Black education rose before Civil Rights in the 60s and AA in the 70s
- In 1940, 87% of black families were under the family line. In 1960 47% were. This declined to 30% in the 60s; "Vast members of blacks lifted themselves out of poverty - 'by their own bootstraps'"
- The number of blacks moving into professional and higher level occupations was greater in the five years before than the five years after the 1964 Civil Rights Act

AA In the United States: Evidence
- 2/3 of the minority beneficiaries of government contracts (Small Business Administration) had net worths of more than a million. "These programs also benefitted wealthy black athletes like Lou Brock, Julius Erving and O.J. Simpson. Yet when some members of Congress publicly oppossed such programs, Congressman Charles Rangel from Harlem compared them to Hitler and depicted any attempt to roll back affirmative action as an attack on all blacks"
- Between 1967 and 1992, the top 20% of black income earners' income share rose at the same rate as that of equivalent whites, but the bottom 20% of blacks saw their share fell at double that of whites
- Minority immigrants benefit from AA despite not having suffered discrimination: the Fanjul family from Cuba worth $500 million get government contracts designated for minority businesses
- Government contracts benefit a minority of minority businesses, and most of these are not black-owned
- Casino concessions for American concessions benefit a minority: 3 states with 3% of the Indian population get 44% of casino revenue, while 5 states with almost half the Indian population get <3% AA In the United States: Evolution
- The Civil Rights Act of 1964 defined discrimination as intentional and against individuals, not groups, and its passage was aided by assurances that there would be no preferential treatment for anyone
- AA is not just about quotas and preferences: "There has been widespread support in the American population at large [from both liberals and conservatives] for efforts to bring less fortunate groups up to the existing standards, even among people completely opposed to bringing the standards down to these groups"
- Although AA was against the Civil Rights Act, in United Steelworkers of America v. Weber (1979), where a white employee sued for being passed over for promotion in favour of less-senior blacks, the majority opinion rejected "a literal interpretation" of the Act, and the dissent described this as "reminiscent of the great escapes of Houdini"
- In 2003 the Supreme Court ruled "in Grutter v. Bollinger that 'all government use of race must have a logical end point'" but declined to specify one or suggest how one might be determined

AA In the United States: Extensions
- Though the Civil Rights Act required there to be intention discrimination, the burden of proof was later shifted to the alleged discriminator to show he had not discriminated, and statistical disparities could be used as proof of discrimination
- The US Employment Service reported the percentile rankings of job applicants - but this was by racial group (like standardization in Sri Lanka) until it was banned in the Civil Rights Act of 1991
- Due to such laws, there are "incentives for businesses to locate away from concentrations of blacks", resulting in their not getting jobs
- Due to laws on admitting the top 10% of high school classes, regardless of the quality of high school, "Students with composite SAT scores below 900 have been admitted to the University of Texas because they were in the top 10 percent of their high schools, while other students with SAT scores hundreds of points higher - some over 1500 - have been rejected"
- Though blacks have been rising continuously in education and occupation, women have varied; "As far back as 1902, women's share of the people listed in Who's Who was more than double their share in 1958. Women received 34 percent of the Bachelor's degrees in 1920 but only 24 percent in 1950... For no year during the 1950s or 1960s did women receive as high a percentage share of all master's degrees, or of all doctoral degrees, as they had back in 1930"
- If we blame this only on discrimination, we would have to conclude that discrimination increased in the first half and then decreased in the second half of the 20th century
- The variation can be better explained by demographics: how many children women had - the birth rate declined from the late 19th century to the 1930s, then rose from the 1930s to the 1950s and declined after the 1960s
- Justifications for AA always start the graph at the start of AA, ignoring trends in the years before AA was started
- "As far back as 1971, women who remained unmarried into their thirties and who had worked continuously since high school earned slighty more than men of the same description. Academic women who never married averaged slightly higher incomes in 1968-69 - before affirmative action - than academic men who never married"
- "Substantial male-female differences in income reflect the fact that women do get married, do have children, and do interrupt their careers for domestic responsibility more than men do... interruptions of careers in some fields are more damaging to one's career than in other fields. For example, a physicist loses about half the value of his or her knowledge from a six-year layoff, but it would take a historian more than a quarter of a century to suffer a similar loss" (Source)
- "Women tend to specialize in careers where career interruptions are easier to accommodate – teaching rather than computer engineering, for example. Another factor in male-female differences in earnings is that men tend to specialize in more hazardous occupations that pay higher compensation. Although men are 54 percent of the workforce, they account for 92 percent of job-related deaths."
- They have Ali-Baba enterprises in America also
- The extension of AA to more groups (e.g. white women, who are relatively privileged) dilutes its effectiveness for the original groups (i.e. blacks)

AA In the United States: In Academia
- Because they lack the profit motive, government and non-profit organisations can discriminate for or against groups with little cost
- "As of 1936, only three black Ph.D. holders were employed by all the white colleges and universities in the United States. By contrast, more than three hundred black chemists alone were employed in private industry at the same time. To private industry, these black chemists represented profits that could be made by hiring them. But, to a college or university chemistry department, there was no such incentive and they could easily afford to pass over these chemists"
- Colleges' claims of the benefits of "diversity" and why a certain minimum number of a certain race must be admitted to make people of that race feel comfortable are never given empirical support (e.g. comparing data on the academic performance of blacks in colleges with fewer and colleges with greater numbers of blacks)
- Black scholars John H. McWhorter's Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America and John Ogbu's Black American Students in An Affluent Suburb: A Study of Academic Disengagement seem to show the reverse: "an anti-intellectual black subculture reduces black students' performances well below what they are capable of"
- The evidence seems to favour the benefits of tracking, rather than racial quotas
- The claim that black "role models" are needed is contradicted by a survey of empirical studies which concludes that "there is no systematic evidence that same-gender or same-race/ethnicity role models have significant influence on a range of dependent variables that they are assumed to influence, including occupational choice, learning, and career success"
- Easier admission into colleges results in mismatching, with minority students finding themselves in academic difficulties. Colleges refuse to release information on this.
- A 1988 study showed that at Berkeley, the average SAT score of blacks was 952. The national average was 900, but 1232 for whites and 1254 for Asians. 70% of blacks did not graduate from Berkeley, and though more blacks entered Berkeley in the 1980s, the number of black graduates declined
- 70% of San Jose State University's black students failed to graduate; if the blacks at Berkeley had gone there, the rate would have been much worse. This is "the domino effect of mismatching", and since education is more important for poor blacks, they get screwed
- Racial grading ('affirmative grading') increased racism among white students, and at MIT other students did not want to work with whites on group projects or study for exams with them. This was called "the new racism" by liberal supporters of AA
- In 1969, "black professors with Ph.D.s from top universities and numerous publications were earning more than white professors of the same description"
- Patrick Chavis, admitted under AA to UCD's Medical School, was championed as a success of AA - until his license was suspended in 1997, due to his "inability to perform some of the most basic duties required of a physician". His license was later revoked
- "Plans to use double standards to maneuver black students through medical school were reported to me back in 1969 and published in a 1972 book of mine. Four years later, Professor Bernard Davis of the Harvard Medical School reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that black students there and at other medical schools were being granted diplomas 'on a charitable basis'... The only response to his revelations was a predictable denunciation of him as a 'racist'"

AA In the United States: Empirical Studies
- The 1998 book providing evidence to support AA, The Shape of the River, is unrepresentative and used data on all black students, not just black students admitted under AA. Its results are thus tainted. The raw data has not been made available to other scholars who requested it.
- Colleges which have a smaller gap between the qualifications of black and other students are more likely to have successful black students
- "Black colleges enrol only about one-fourth of all black students in higher education, but their graduates receive 40 percent of all science and engineering degrees received by black students nationwide. Of the ten undergraduate institutions whose black students go on to receive the most Ph.D.s in science, six are black institutions" (i.e. AA has not worked for blacks at non-black colleges)
- After the end of AA in UC in 1996, despite Jesse Jackson yelling "ethnic cleansing", black students redistributed themselves among the UCs, and indeed there were more black freshmen enrolled in 2002 than 1996.
- A look at Asians contradicts claims about low income and cultural bias on tests (at least in SAT Math)
- People don't look at black achievements except inasmuch as that would play into "the politics of grievance and demands"

[Ed: Thomas Sowell is black]

AA: Conclusion
- AA benefits a few (not those who need the help) and screws society as a whole
- The transfer of benefits is overestimated
- Across countries, the general patterns show that "similar incentives and constraints tend to produce similar consequences among human beings in widely disparate circumstances"
- The American Society of Newspaper Editors lamented a drop in "journalists of color" from 11.86 to 11.64 percent (note the 2 decimal places)
- Advocates of AA use "a level playing field" to mean "tilting of the rules to produce a preconceived equalizing of results"
- Worldwide, geographic region, SES and generation (age) result in some groups doing better than others. Often this is clearly not due to bias or discrimination
- Minorities do well in many countries ("Germans in Russia, Armenians in Turkey, Lebanese in West Africa, Italians in Brazil, Indians in Fiji, and Jews throughout Eastern Europe") without being able to discriminate against the majority population; blaming 'racism' automatically for differential group performance is ridiculous
- "The Chinese who immigrated to Malaysia came from circumstances in southern China that had long made hard work and frugality necessary for survival, while the Malay culture developed in easier circumstances, permitting an easier-going way of life"
- The Japanese in America managed to climb the ladder as at the start of the 20th century they "were agricultural laborers and domestic servants to an even greater extent than the blacks" but by 1979 Jap-American males had higher incomes than white American males
- Asians applying for home mortgages are approved at a higher rate than whites, and whites are more likely than Asians to lose their jobs during recessions
- In the US, lumping East Asians with other "Asians and Pacific Islanders" is deceptive, as "Japanese Americans have nearly double the income of Samoans". In Canada, Japanese are part of "visible minorities" and in Britain Chinese are "black" like Indians and Pakistanis.
- Despite claims of the benefits of "diversity", India and Nigeria split up states and provinces so minorities could become majorities, reducing diversity instead
- In Malaysia, Nigeria and Sri Lanka, there was less intergroup violence when there were greater intergroup disparities. It was the politicization of differences that led to violence.
- Shiv Sena, the most intolerant and violent Indian mass movement, started as one seeking AA for Maharashtrians in Bombay
- Black rioters' attacking Korean and Vietnamese shopkeepers in ghettos is ignored by the media for fear of accusations of 'racism'
- Anonymous polls show academics opposed to AA, but public polls show a reversal of preferences
- Maoris outperforming whites in sports in New Zealand, or blacks having 4 of the 5 top totals of career home runs do not prove discrimination despite statistical underrepresentation
- AA in South Africa results in white government workers retiring early and thousands of whites emigrating annually
- AA cannot be empirically supported "unless one is prepared to say that any amount of social redress, however small, is worth any amount of costs and dangers, however large"
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