Affirmative Action is the set of public policies and initiatives designed to help eliminate past and present discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Affirmative action was set into place during the 1960's. Focusing in particular on education and jobs, affirmative action policies required that active measures be taken to ensure that blacks and other minorities enjoyed the same opportunities for promotions, salary increases, career advancement, school admissions, scholarships, and financial aid that had been the nearly exclusive province of whites. However, despite its good intentions, affirmative action has actually created more problems than it has solved, explaining why so many are now calling for an end to its policies. Affirmative action violates our United States Constitution, favors the middle and upper class, allows unqualified entry to universities and jobs, promotes racism and fosters further discrimination.
Affirmative action really is all about quotas rather than eliminating race as a factor in the decision making process. And, quotas are unconstitutional because they violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, equal protection under the law. Recently, the Justice Department filed two briefs with the Supreme Court challenging race-based admissions policies at the University of Michigan. U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson told the Supreme Court that the undergraduate and Law School admissions cases "demonstrate the pernicious consequences that result when public institutions deviate from this court's precedents by ignoring race-neutral alternatives and employing race-based polices that amount to racial quotas." From 1995 until 1998, the University of Michigan's undergraduate admissions policy set aside a target number of seats in each entering class for preferred minorities and shielded minorities from competition with the rest of the application pool. Now, the university gives preferred minorities a bonus in admissions evaluations based solely on their race.
If preferences were truly meant to remedy disadvantage, they would be given on the basis of disadvantage, not on the basis of factors such as race and ethnicity. Instead, the benefactors of affirmative action are middle and upper class individuals that don't need the help. The most under-represented group of Americans at the nation's top colleges and colleges isn't blacks or Hispanics, but students from low-income families. Only three percent of the freshmen at the 146 most selective colleges and universities come from families in the bottom quarter of America ranked by income. In contrast, twelve percent are black or Hispanic.
Even the Center for Equal Opportunity is opposed to affirmative action because it has been such an unfair windfall for wealthy minority business people. The Code of Federal Regulations considers Individuals who certify that they are members of named groups (Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian-Pacific, Sub-continental-Asian) to be considered socially and economically disadvantaged. Some programs also presume women to be socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. So, by definition, if an individual fits into any of these categories, he or she is disadvantaged. According to the Center for Equal Opportunity, federal regulations that govern the communications industry are filled with minority preferences that don't consider income. In one famous case, then-mayor of Charlotte, N.C., Harvey Gantt, who is black, and his partners made a $3 million profit by obtaining a license for a TV station under the minority-preference bidding process and then selling it four months later to whites. The biggest boons for minority and female-owned businesses are the various set-aside programs for government contractors and sub-contractors. These rules affect everything from surface transportation which requires that ten percent of federal monies go to minority and female contractors, to the space program, which requires that eight percent of the total value of such contracts go to such firms.
Affirmative action doesn't always mean that equally qualified or best qualified people are admitted to colleges and jobs, but allows lesser qualified people to get in. It isn't right to admit a student or select a job application who is minimally qualified, and thus, less least likely to succeed. Because the only qualifications that have any value under affirmative action are skin color, gender and ethnicity, affirmative action lowers standards of excellence with disastrous consequences. For example, of the 317 black students admitted to UC Berkeley in 1985, all were admitted under affirmative action criteria rather than academic qualifications. Those students had an average SAT score of 952 compared to UC Berkeley's average of nearly 1200. More than seventy percent of the black students failed to graduate from UC Berkeley.
Affirmative action is discrimination which is the treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit. The notion of using discrimination to eliminate discrimination is inane. There are alternatives to affirmative action that can work better without being discriminatory. For example, systems in California, Florida and Texas have proven that by guaranteeing admissions to the top students from high schools throughout the state, colleges can attain broad racial diversity. In fact, these state's race-neutral admissions policies have resulted in levels of minority attendance for incoming students that are close to or exceed those of old-raced based approaches encouraged by affirmative action.
Instead of eliminating racism, affirmative action may be unwittingly promoting it. Taking jobs away from one group in order to compensate a second group to correct injustices caused by a third group who mistreated a fourth group at an earlier point in history is absurd and does not promote justice; rather, it does the opposite. It promotes racism. And, you cannot cure racism with more racism. Public sentiment towards affirmative action is divided closely along racial lines. Survey data from Public Opinion Online relates that only thirty-five percent of all whites favor affirmative action vs. seventy-nine percent of blacks who support the program.
Affirmative action was not intended to be carried out indefinitely. Affirmative action, from the outset, was created as a temporary remedy that would end once there was a "level playing field" for all Americans. The policy was introduced nearly forty years ago in 1965 by President Johnson as a way of redressing discrimination that had persisted in spite of civil rights laws and constitutional guarantees. We no longer face the hostile opposition to civil rights that existed in the 1960s. The competitive playing field is by no means completely level, but today the workforce and educational institutions have achieved greater diversity and acceptance of individuals with different race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Some argue that minorities and females still don't make as much as men do, but the causes aren't necessary lack of opportunity, but may instead stem from environmental factors that are outside of the control of businesses and educational institutions.
Reverse discrimination does nothing to eliminate discrimination against minorities. It merely creates one more form of discrimination. Affirmative action is nothing more than discrimination sanctioned by law and it is in direct conflict with the U.S. Constitution. While it was a noble effort to help the disadvantaged, the major benefactors are the middle and upper class. It's time to abolish affirmative action in its present form and to both use existing laws and to consider other ways to resolve discrimination.
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