Friday, November 7, 2008

Ceiling or Floor?

Really was grabbed by this quote from Ken Blackwell's column today...

Racial preferences harm minorities. Quotas—the purest form of racial preference—often disadvantage the very people they are intended to help. They are originally intended as floors. If a school has a 20% African-American quota, then the school must have at least 20%. But studies show that the floor eventually becomes a ceiling.

...whole article

I have not been a fan of quotas. Blackwell's turn of phrase stopped me cold and got me to thinking. You could say it was a "striking thought."

I've seen the way quotas harmed men I served with in the Navy (and later in industry) who'd been to very fine colleges. Some were Officers, others were enlisted who'd quit college to enlist. The men of color I'm thinking of had made it to college on their merits. Schools like Stanford...

Sadly their achievement was tarnished by the impression that maybe they'd needed a hand up to be accepted to those colleges. In fact, they'd often outdone, out achieved and worked to a higher standard to get to the same level as their lighter pigmented brothers peers.

I knew these men, respected and loved them based on the content of their character. I resented the shadow cast on their accomplishments by quota systems at the colleges they attended.

On the upside, their military accomplishments were never called into question. The US military is as close to a pure meritocracy as you'll find in our culture. For the most part, in the military -- if you earn it, you wear it.

It used to be if you had an African-American doctor you know you had the best and brightest -- he'd swam upstream all the way and had to out perform at every level just to get a fair shake. Now because of quotas you might wonder if perhaps he had gotten to this place based on some consideration for his ethnicity rather than just his merits. Not good. Not good at all. Not good for him or his patient.

The floor becomes the ceiling.

"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights..."

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