Monday, October 3, 2011

Institutionalised Racism

From David Zetland’s Aguanomics blog (David is a primarily a water economist – with an interest in much else besides).

01 October 2010

(via WEH) Thomas Sowell doesn't suffer fools:

Few things have captured in microcosm what has gone so painfully wrong, where racial issues are concerned, like the recent election for mayor of Washington, D.C.
Mayor Adrian Fenty, under whom the murder rate has gone down and the school children's test scores have gone up, was resoundingly defeated for re-election.

One key fact tells much of the story: Mayor Fenty received more than 70 percent of the white vote in Washington. His opponent received more than 80 percent of the black vote.
Both men are black. But the head of the school system that he appointed is Asian and the chief of police is a white woman. More than that, most of the teachers who were fired were black. There were also bitter complaints that black contractors did not get as many of the contracts for doing business with the city as they expected.

In short, the mayor appointed the best people he could find, instead of running a racial patronage system, as a black mayor of a city with a black majority is apparently expected to. He also didn't spend as much time schmoozing with the folks as was expected.

How did we reach the point where black voters put racial patronage and racial symbolism above the education of their children and the safety of everyone?
There are many reasons but the trend is ominous. One key factor was the creation, back in the 1960s, of a whole government-supported industry of race hustling.

Racism will persist longer when governments make rules based on racism,* whether negative (allowing slavery) or "positive" (giving jobs or money to people with different skin colours).

Governments should not discriminate on the basis of colour. If anything, government should help people under criteria that are not permanent. Poverty is ok, sick is ok. Tall, short, black, white, man, woman, gay, or straight? Not ok.

And that's not even acknowledging that most government programs crowd out private programs (educating kids, caring for the local homeless) that can do the same thing, better.

Bottom Line: Governments are necessary some of the time for some things, but for all of the time for all things. Just ask yourself: Is there another way? And then go do it.

* On why racism is NOT about skin colour, read this esearch:
Cosmides, L., Tooby, J. & Kurzban, R. (2003). Perceptions of race [pdf]. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7(4), 173-179.
Kurzban, R., Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (2001). Can race be erased? Coalitional computation and social categorization [pdf]. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 98(26), 15387-15392.


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