Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Why Set-Asides Don't Work

Affirmative Action sounds like a great deal, until white people start claiming to be minorities and then take even that away.

I noted before that Pocahontas matters.   It is not that Elizabeth Warren set out to obtain an illegal advantage by claiming Native American ancestry - well, we can't prove that one way or another, as her motives remain locked inside her mind.   But what is clear is that Harvard claimed her as a minority for purposes of EEOC filings.   They checked off the "minority" box next to Warren, and thus satisfied their duties under affirmative action. This also meant that some deserving minority didn't get a job at Harvard.

That is the point lost on Warren supporters (a dwindling group).   Not that she intended to defraud the system, but that her actions resulted in the system not working as it should.

The same is true for this transgender athlete thing.   Title IX  dictates that women athletes should be given the same resources and opportunities as men.   Women's athletics has thrived as a result, but still does not dominate the airwaves - and the money train - that men's athletics enjoys.  Title IX forces us to pay more attention to women's sports, and this is perhaps a good thing - many women's sports are now becoming more prominent, such as women's basketball.   It still ain't the NBA, though.

It seems like it would be "fair" to allow transgender men to compete in women's sports - at first.   But then you realize they would dominate those sports and have an unfair advantage over women.   It may not have been their intent to take away from others, but the net effect is the same as Elizabeth Warren claiming to be Native American - someone else loses out, to something they ordinarily would have been capable of achieving, to someone with faux credentials.

And let's get this right out in the open, too.  If you want to be a transgender whatever, you are free to do so in America.   But you really can't "change genders" biologically.   You can take hormones and disfigure your body through surgery, but the end result is that you are just a man who looks like a woman or vice-versa.

And let's call a halt to this pronoun crap while we're at it.  Perverting the English language doesn't accomplish anything.   I was reading the Wikipedia entry for Ed Wood's "Glen or Glenda" and some PC nut had edited the whole thing to replace "he" with "they" and it was confusing as fuck to read.   They is a plural pronoun and when reading this, I kept wondering who the other people were.

Control the language of the debate, and you control the debate.   I've said it before and I'll say it again.   The PC police want to change what you say - change the very language itself - because language is just symbology expressing ideas, and if you can control how ideas are expressed, you control how people think.

So the Soviets call each other "comrade" and NPR calls us all "workers" and South Pacific Islanders have no word for "snow" - or so urban legend dictates.   And this is no small thing - these PC-rules are enforced with absolute brutality.  A teacher is suspended from school for calling a student by the wrong pronoun - not even in their presence!

But I digress.

What is interesting to me is there is an intersection and conflict between two liberal policies - set-asides, or quotas, or affirmative action, or Title IX or whatever you want to call it, on the one hand, and "transgender rights" on the other.

Many on the right decry affirmative action as a "quota" or "set aside" system, and to some extent they have a point.   While it is a swell idea to try to compensate for over a century of discrimination, at what point do these quotas go away?  By the way, that is another example of using language to control the debate.   Conservatives call them quotas, and liberals say that affirmative action is "not quotas!" because rather than count how many people of different races fill different job slots, instead we count how many job slots are set aside for different races.   Completely different thing, and dochuforgetit!

But in my mind, there should be an end point on this.  If we "set aside" jobs or seats in classrooms for various minorities (and women, who are not a minority) then at some point, such set asides would no longer be needed, either because the set asides worked, or proved they would never work.   It can't be a perpetual deal.   But I am in the minority on this.

But all that being said, affirmative action is sort of the heart and soul of the Democratic party and the idea of helping disadvantaged people also so.   So what happens when you try to help one disadvantaged group and end up hurting another?   Even worse, what happens when people spoof the system and claim minority status not because they are disadvantaged, but to seek advantage?

I noted before that as a former government contractor, I had to fill out the SAMS forms every year - they go on for dozens of pages, as you might expect of government forms, asking the same questions again and again.   And whole pages are devoted to whether I am a woman or minority-owned business.   Small businesses, women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, all get "set asides" from government contracts.   I am not sure I received any advantage from this - I certainly hope not! - but government contracts were a pretty small part of my practice in any event - less than 5% overall.

That being said, no one turns away an advantage offered to them.   And if you can seek advantage - such as putting your business in your wife's name (and hoping she doesn't divorce you) or hiring a minority partner, you can get some of that government gravy, even if it is a little, well, underhanded.  And frankly, the government is glad you did it, as they struggle to meet their quotas for these things.   Maybe that is why I did get some government contracts now and then, now that I think of it.   I'm not very smart about these sort of things.

So here we have a perfect storm.   On one side, women, who have been treated like shit by men for eons.   Even today, in much of the world, women are little more than property.   Even in the United States, women earn 78 cents for every dollar a man earns - at the same job.   Why are these transgender men so eager to become women?   Seems to me like they are giving up a prime spot on the food chain.

But like the person falsely claiming minority status to get a job or a contract, when a man - transgender or whatever - claims a spot on a women's sports team, that means some woman is left out.   Today, it is sports teams.  Tomorrow it will be the job interview, the day after that, the board room.

Of course, those on the right would say that we should just abolish these sorts of quotas and head-counting.   Maybe race and gender shouldn't be little boxes checked off on forms for job applications, government grants, or whatever.  Unless these things matter - like in identifying a person via driver's license, or in terms of sports competitions, they shouldn't be counted.  And maybe someday, in a more perfect world, people will be viewed by who they are and what their talents are, and not by superficial things like skin color, ancestry, gender, or even gender-identity.

But in the meantime,we have to live in a messy real-world.  And you can't be a supporter of Title IX and women's athletics and also be a supporter of transgender males competing in women's sports (or vice-versa).   It is liberal schizophrenia - holding two opposite ideas in your head at the same time.  Not only will this eventually cause your head to explode, it will make you look silly.

At some point, you have to choose one or the other - women's rights or transgender rights.  The rights of women cannot be subverted by men claiming to be women.  You can hormone yourself all you want to, you're still a guy in terms of chromosome makeup. 

Some have claimed that this could all be fixed by setting standards for testosterone levels in athletes and whatnot - invasive medical tests that may or may not prove anything or eliminate athletic advantage.  Recently, a bill has passed the Arizona House, banning transgender men from playing in women's sports.  Originally, the bill had provisions that athletes had to prove their gender through a series of medical tests that were deemed "too invasive" - yet the same transgender advocates argue that in amateur competition, similar invasive tests can be used to prove "fairness" of transgender athletes.   This does not compute.

Oddly, the Arizona bill doesn't outlaw women from competing in men's sports - a small flaw that might be part of a constitutional challenge.   I am not sure why they left that out - symmetry would make sense, at least to me.

This issue does illustrate one thing, though: this will be an issue in the November elections, and many middle-of-the-road voters will by mystified by the support for transgender this-and-that by the major candidates.  Trump will make an issue of this - he already has.  And in the coming weeks, the candidates will be asked their positions on these issues, which will put them in a difficult spot - do they alienate the far-left wacko wing of the Democratic party and possibly lose a primary, to appease a very, very small minority group?    Or do they piss off the independent voters who they need in the general election to win?

In a way, it is like the same conundrum liberals are facing: Do you support women's rights or transgender rights?   And how can you support both when one impacts the other?   Illogical!  Illogical!  Does Not Compute!

UPDATE:  A reader writes:
Your most recent article reminded me so much of George Orwell’s novel “Nineteen Eighty Four”, in which language is altered to change how people think. The ability of members of “The Party” to hold two simultaneous opposing thoughts in their head at the same time was called “Doublethink”.We live in worrying times!
Which is of course what I was thinking of, but couldn't remember the source.   Orwell also had the quote, "Control the Language, Control the Masses" when referring to his "Newspeak" in that book.

This is, of course, very weird, as liberals point to "1984" as an example of what will happen to the world if conservatives take over.   Who is pushing "Newspeak" and "Doublethink" today?  Very odd.