Affirmative action refers to a collection of policies intended to promote access to education and employment for minorities and women. In an attempt to guarantee such opportunities, government enforced and voluntary programs impose an assortment of racial criteria on businesses, public offices and universities. Compliance with these programs can often cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal and consultant fees as well as significant opportunity costs when organizations are forced make decisions based on race and gender instead of merit.
The underlying evil of all affirmative action programs is that individuals are categorized by their race. This principle inevitably prolongs racism. This is why an anxiety of appearing racist amongst white males is very common in the United States compared to their European counterparts, and why corporations desperately seek to present themselves as non-discriminating and careers are shattered by unjust accusations of racism.
Affirmative Action hurts employers
There are two kinds of jobs affected by affirmative action policies. The first are employment opportunities which seek individuals who possess a minimum set of skills. Some examples include factory workers, cashiers and food service workers. Such affirmative action policies make it more difficult for individuals from non-protected groups to be considered for a position.
Another kind of employment opportunity seeks the best possible candidate for the job. This category includes professorships, managerial and engineering jobs. In order to avoid the appearance of racism, consultancy groups may reluctantly employ an analyst who they know will not produce as many great ideas, hospitals may reluctantly employ a surgeon who they know will not be as effective in the ER, and universities will admit students who they know will not be as diligent.
Because employment opportunities are given to less qualified, there will be less remaining opportunities awarded to the most qualified. Thus, applicants who don’t belong to a legally protected “under-represented” group compete for fewer positions and therefore face more exclusive standards for selection. As many high school graduates know, SAT scores and GPA requirements for admission to the most competitive of universities are seemingly higher for students of East Asian or East Indian descent.
A high school student with a below average academic record is likely to be a below average college student. Thus, students admitted through minority recruiting programs often end up in remedial classes with mediocre academic performance. Through simple cause and effect, affirmative action programs prolong the stereotype of minority students finishing near the bottom of their class by encouraging enrollment in universities beyond an appropriate level of difficulty. According to a federal study, just 39% of enrolled black students finish their degrees compared to 54% of white students. 2 Attending a university where the pace of learning is too difficult is just as counterproductive as attempting to lift too much weight at the gym.
The insistence on relaxed admission standards for minority students insinuates that such students are incapable of succeeding without such programs. This insult casts a permanent doubt on the real achievements of high-achieving minorities.
Affirmative Action must end
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed that one day we would live in a society where individuals would be judged by their character and not the color of their skin. The affirmative action policies of today are both unnecessary and detrimental to minority success. Moreover, they are significant barriers to the establishment of a racially-blind meritocratic society. Justice for all requires the end of affirmative action.