2008 May 18 Sunday
Obama Will Keep Supporting Racial Preferences

Matthew Yglesias shows himself pretty naive in hoping Barack Obama could switch from support race-based preferences to poverty-based preferences.

Richard Kahlenberg observes that it would be politically savvy of Barack Obama to embrace a shift toward class-based affirmative action and that the logic of several things his said over the years seems to point in this direction. I tend to think so as well, and have been hopeful that this might happen at some point, but then I read this Noam Scheiber article focused on another topic and saw this graf:

The run-up to South Carolina was rife with talk that post-racial Obama was morphing into a decidedly pre-post-racial candidate. To reverse the slide, blogger Mickey Kaus suggested he give a speech embracing class- rather than race-based affirmative action, something Obama had flirted with in the past. Kaus had a point: The atmospherics would have been irresistible to ambivalent whites. I pushed a milder form of the idea on my own blog. Not long after, I got a response from an Obama adviser: Never gonna happen. Urging Sister Souljah politicking on him was the surest way to provoke a scowl.

In the comments Steve Sailer explains why Obama would never abandon racial preferences for blacks.

Why in the world is "Never gonna happen" surprising?

"Never gonna happen" was obvious from Obama's 1995 autobiography. It's his story of "race and inheritance."

He's devoted what part of his career that he has spared from self-promotion to using political power to take from whites and give to blacks: becoming a black organizer, running a black voter registration drive, joining an anti-discrimination law firm, and running in mostly black districts on black concerns.

American white people are going to elect a black man to govern them who thinks his own race deserves the fruits of their labor.

Steve Sailer points out that the real winners of class-based preferences would be those most able to do work they now can't get.

Let's also be clear that anybody who thinks a class-based system of affirmative action will lead to anything like the current level of representation of blacks in elite institutions is living in a dreamland. The bottom ten percent of white students in socio-economic status score as high or higher on the SAT than the top 10 percent of blacks in socioeconomic status.

The huge little secret of affirmative action is that the African-Americans who benefit from it tend to come the upper levels of American society. Dumping a race-based system for a class-based system would benefit whites overwhelmingly.

Heck, as Lani Guinier and Henry Louis Gates have been complaining for years, a majority of blacks at Harvard are only pseudo-African Americans, of recent white or immigrant background -- like Obama. Or Guinier, for that matter (she's half Jamaican-half Jewish and looks like Gilda Radner), but she's honest about it). The descendants of American slaves are mostly out of luck at getting into Harvard already. Under a class-based system, affirmative action beneficiaries like Michelle Obama would be totally swamped by smarter, harder working white and Asian kids from the same lower-middle class background as her.

Yes, Harvard only pretends to attempt to raise up American blacks.

Michelle Obama is a member of the affirmative action shake down industry.

Obama's wife has been in the affirmative action racket for years, running various well-paid "diversity" programs at the U. of Chicago medical center. So, Sen. Obama knows exactly how little affirmative action does for poor blacks; he knows how it's a payoff for affluent blacks like, say, the Obamas.

The idea that Obama would divert this gravytrain is ridiculous. The only reason he ever feints in the direction of non-racial quotas is because he knows how ridiculous affirmative action for the rich sounds to the naive public.

When Barack Obama was elected to the US Senate this greatly increased Michelle's worth in the racial preferences shakedown market. Her salary shortly went from $122k to $317k. In spite of this (or because of this) Michelle Obama has resentment toward white folks.

We are going to have an interesting next 4 years.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 May 18 05:46 PM  Politics Ethnicity

Kenelm Digby said at May 19, 2008 4:17 AM:

As others have said, how in any material way does the American system of state enforced racial preference for a priveleged blood-based group differ from the Feudal system that characterized mediaeval Europe, in which wealth and staus were defined by hereditary?

Dragon Horse said at May 20, 2008 5:29 AM:

Who cares. Anyone who lives in the real world knows damn well that this country is not a meritocracy in most fields besides maybe technical fields which where success can be measured. Most jobs in this country are gotten by connections, who you know is more important than what you know. Sure going to a higher level school is a feather in your cap because you can one-up the next person but in the end, in many many corporations getting in the door is nothing more than knowing someone who knows someone who has power to put your resume/cv on a hiring managers desk. I see it all the time and probably half of my friends got jobs due to who they know...not by submitting resumes and hoping some internal recruiter passed it to a hiring manager. Even a basic read of of how hiring works in this country would reveal over 70% of jobs are got this way.

Now who is more likely to know someone with that type of influence? A black kid, even a middle class one, let alone one from the ghetto or a white guy? Thinking about the social dynamics and self segregation of our country alone racial and ethnic lines the answer is still pretty obvious for most situations. So people who get so mad at AA are either mad that they feel black people are using government to trump their connections which they feel entitled to or they don't have connections and feel America should be a meritocracy and a black (or Hispanic) is getting over on them. The funny thing is those same people never ever complain about the white man who just got over on them on a daily basis because of their connections. LOL Hypocrisy anyone...just due to numbers if I were a white man I would be worried more about the mediocre white male brownnoser who use the good ol' boy network to get his ass in a cubicle than the black guy, because the former is more prevalent than the latter and always has been.

rob said at May 20, 2008 7:28 AM:

It would be interesting to compare the career paths of African-Americans who went to schools that didn't have affirmative action policies, like Reed College prior to maybe 1998, to other students who went to the same schools with the same majors.

Controlling for IQ, Murray found that blacks at the average white IQ have similar incomes, but I do wonder about very high IQ blacks.

Steve Johnson said at May 20, 2008 9:18 AM:

A policy of affirmative action that isn't based on inherited characteristics is unstable. Michelle Obama (for example) benefited from affirmative action, got a job pushing for more affirmative action / race based hand outs and her children would have done the same but probably won't have to work at all after Barack gets the massive post-presidential payoff. She's part of a class that greatly benefits from affirmative action and would lobby hard to prevent any changes in the policy. Nothing like this would exist for class based affirmative action; it would be one generation and out. This would greatly reduce support for the policy since only people who didn't benefit from it would lobby for it (for their children).

This approach always amuses me:

"LOL Hypocrisy anyone...just due to numbers if I were a white man I would be worried more about the mediocre white male brownnoser who use the good ol' boy network to get his ass in a cubicle than the black guy, because the former is more prevalent than the latter and always has been."


1) There is no government commission dedicated to suing companies that fire mediocre white guys. There is one for incompetent black people.
2) Companies don't risk getting sued if they don't mandate that everyone attends "mediocre white guy" sensitivity training. Black people in the work place are there as thought police; anyone who makes an utterance in the presence of a black person that offends that person must then be fired or subjected to indoctrination sessions or (again) the company will be sued.
3) Mediocre white guys are likely to be much more competent than affirmative action hires; average white IQ is 100, average black IQ is 85. If friendships were completely non-assortative by IQ (they're not, smart people are friends with smart people same for people who are average and below average) you would still have better odds of finding a competent employee by hiring a random white person than hiring a random black person unless the pool of black people in which you are looking is more than 1 SD above the average; even then you have greater risk because of point 1.
4) The remedy to bad hiring (if hiring friends of current employees even is bad hiring) isn't a government mandated increase in bad hiring.

Anonymous said at May 20, 2008 11:20 AM:

Here's an idea Dragon Horse: How about blacks stop depending on whites to do everything for them and start acting like adults instead of spoiled brats? Worth a try and doesn't cost a thing!

Randall Parker said at May 20, 2008 12:39 PM:

Dragon Horse,

Bob Dylan's Positively Fourth Street captures my view of black demands that I give them advantages:

And though I know you're dissatisfied With your position and your place Don't you understand It's not my problem?

I have to credit an anonymous reader of Lawrence Auster for the Dylan quote.

Dragon Horse said at May 20, 2008 4:19 PM:

Last time I checked Hispanics received AA as well, so do Asians in various situations (which is why most Asian American groups support AA).

So is this about AA or is this about blacks? Is this about you losing a job to someone less qualified or is this about blacks?

I think I have the answer.

It is quite obvious that on a daily basis many white people (likely some that read this board) are being screwed over by another white guy and his benefactor when they are more qualified. So you lost X amount of jobs per year due to this. This X is greater than the jobs you would lose to a black person (it seems no one is interested in other other minorities that make up roughly 18% of the population who are not black who also get AA...oh yeah and woman...think they don't have a box to check on an application and human resources doesn't target women in certain fields? LOL You don't know how HR at Fortune 500's worked, I didn't either until my cousin became a Director of Recruiting at a Fortune 500. Almost daily someone comes to a recruiter (internal) and tells them..."hey this guy is going to apply, put his/her resume in with the ones you will send up to my desk". They do it. If that job is not critical or the department has enough women and minorities guess who is most likely to get the job? The guy with the connection.

The fact that doesn't bother anyone, tells me you don't give a crap about meritocracy unless you can use it as a bat to bash blacks.

LOL Typical.

Anonymous said at May 20, 2008 4:27 PM:

Dragon Horse,
Did you bother to read anything written by Steve Johnson? I am assuming that maybe you just missed it. I want to give you the benefit of the doubt and not accuse you of ignoring it.

Bob Badour said at May 20, 2008 7:53 PM:

One point Dragon Horse doesn't seem to get is the meritocracy runs on networking. I have recommended people for jobs who got those jobs. I would much prefer to hire someone whose qualifications and abilities are known quantities. As a result, I am much more likely to hire someone I have worked with before or someone who has worked with a person whose opinion I trust.

I, myself, have only ever been hired through networking. Most people reading my resume will assume I have only a shallow understanding of things I understand very deeply simply due to the massive number of things I have mastered. When someone I have worked with previously describes my skills, however, I seem to get hired quickly.

When I make recommendations, I do not make them on the basis of race. Of the three or four blacks in my field I have ever worked with, exactly 1 is competent. I would recommend him any day. A lot of the people in my field are incompetent, so it's not a uniquely black trait. Far from it. The striking void of blacks in my field has nothing to do with networking or connections and everything to do with the meritocracy.

And if anyone reading this is looking for an executive for a software or technology company, contact me. I know a brilliant tech-savvy man who grew an entire software development and support organization under him. He was out of the workforce for a few years while he battled Hodgkin's lymphoma. He is now in remission and has a clean bill of health.

He would make an excellent CTO for a startup or young entrepreneurial company. His resume doesn't get many bites either, but he is an awesome hire. A terrific value at just about any price.

Randall Parker said at May 20, 2008 8:09 PM:

Bob is correct that meritocracy runs on networking. There's no way to accurately assess someone just from a job interview. Knowing people who you trust who have worked with a person can tell you far far more about their strengths and weaknesses.

Also, the racial preferences racket and other government-imposed restrictions on the market actually increase the need for networking to look for people to hire. Since firing people has become much harder than it ought to be the result is that companies become less willing to hire.

Dragon Horse said at May 20, 2008 8:14 PM:


Do you think that Kennedy cared more about Catholics or Irish because he took an unnecessary trip to Ireland obviously had strong support and affinity to ethnic Irish (and also Italians) in the North East and in Chicago that he didn't care about America? Are they mutually exclusive?

You seem to think that if Obama cares about black Americans he will automatically put the interest of blacks above or does not care about the general population. If you read his book I don't find that in it. This was also the same argument WASPs made against Kennedy that he would care far more about what the Vatican than what was best for America and there were still some who looked down on the Irish and didn't like him being so proud to be Irish at the time, which you can still read about on the internet (I would say mostly older people at the time).

Randall Parker said at May 20, 2008 9:11 PM:

Dragon Horse,

Did Kennedy spend decades attending a radical Catholic church whose preacher demonized Protestants?

Did Kennedy write a book about his Catholic identity?

Anonymous said at May 21, 2008 10:18 AM:

Don't be so hard on Obama and his religious affiliations. After all, he wasn't in church that day! And he doesn't know who the good Rev. Wright is anymore. All that stuff about "white devils" and such, it was a shocking revelation to say the least. My view is that someone who is so unobservant and easily fooled isn't fit to be President, but I'm sure others will disagree.

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