Discrimination and how to pay for it

While it has a bewildering number of defenses, one of the primary functions of affirmative action is to assist blacks in resource competitions against hispanics. Both groups are disproportionatedly uneducated, but political organization among blacks far outpaces that among hispanics. Therefore, rationally, blacks political activists attempt to reward their supporters by supporting laws, rules, and regulations which assist blacks in getting jobs, contracts, and admissions, while making it harder for hispanics to do so.

It’s thus not surprising that many hispanics are skeptical of Barack Obama:

The Weekly Standard
Napolitano, who describes herself as a “dyed in the wool” Democrat, said she will vote for and support the Democratic nominee in the fall. But she has not seen the type of commitment to Latino issues from Obama that she says she saw in Clinton.

“Unless I see something inherently helpful to our community, I’m going to sit back and see what happens,” Napolitano said. Napolitano and some of her Hispanic colleagues are informally boycotting Obama campaign events aimed at reaching out to Clinton supporters because the candidate himself has not asked for their help.

Obama has stated that he supports affirmative action. This helped him racially polarize the election in which he defeated Hillary Clinton, but has harmed him among latinos. So far, Obama has only vaguely hinted that he might modify the system, from prevent the marginal number of black millionaires from benefiting to shifting some the costs (in terms of unrewarded merit, lost opportunities, discrimination, etc.) to middle-class whites, jews, and asians.

However, Obama has only hinted as a recalibration of affirmative action’s costs. Further, it’s obviously more difficult to change a whole system than to continue a policy of rewarding supporters and punishing their rivals.

5 thoughts on “Discrimination and how to pay for it”

  1. Please provide evidence for this claim:
    “…one of the primary functions of affirmative action is to assist blacks in resource competitions against hispanics.”

    Thank you.

  2. Ortho,

    Thanks for the comment!

    It’s a straightforward public choice analysis — you have two large and self-identified groups with similar economic characteristics. Resource competition, at least in the short and medium term, is inevitable. Groups naturally use the political process to protect themselves from competition.

    If you want examples of competition between black and hispanics, there’s education [1], jobs [2], community issues [3], and so on.

    Thus, blacks are more likely to say they are hurt by affirmative action than hispanics are to say they have been helped [4]

    [1] http://chronicle.com/colloquy/2003/hispanic/
    [2] http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=65e4fc9501dfbb3d465d1ddc1795de12
    [3] http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-op-hutchinson25nov25,0,1144425.story
    [4] http://people-press.org/report/184/conflicted-views-of-affirmative-action

  3. Thus, blacks are more likely to say they are hurt by affirmative action than hispanics are to say they have been helped [4]

    Odd. The linked source has,

    Among blacks, 14% say they have been helped by such programs, while 5% say they’ve been hurt.

    &

    Most Hispanics say they’ve been unaffected , but 4% say affirmative action has helped them and 8% say it’s hurt them.

    So it’s 5% vs 4%? And that section of the Pew data begins with,

    Only a small fraction of the public (16%) reports having been directly affected by affirmative action programs.

    — meaning that it’s 5%/4% of the 16% overall?

    The data given also suggests that 77% of Hispanics like affirmative action and far more Hispanics, as a percentage, think that affirmative action is fair:

    Among whites, 43% think the programs are unfair; 35% of blacks agree, as do 41% of other nonwhites. But Hispanics are much less concerned about the fairness of the programs: 70% say they are fair and only 27% see them as unfair.

    How does that data in any way support your claim that the issue of affirmative action has hurt Obama in the Latino population? (For now I’m leaving off the issue that quite possibly Latinos — maybe many others — will decide their votes on the basis of other issues and not affirmative action.)

  4. I should amend the question from “meaning that it’s 5%/4% of the 16% overall” to “meaning that it’s 5%/4% of the individual groups within the 16% overall who have been affected in some way.”

  5. Curtis,

    So it’s 5% vs 4%?

    Small numbers, no? We’d expect that only a very small fraction of blacks would report being injured by affirmative action, as I know of no affirmative action programs that take effectively points/merit away from black applicants. Likewise, a similarly trivial fraction (but actually smaller!) of hispanics report being helped.

    The data given also suggests that 77% of Hispanics like affirmative action and far more Hispanics, as a percentage, think that [programs to increase the number of minority students are] fair:

    Obviously. Are you expecting hispanics to vote against their interests?

    My post addresses the seperate issue of resource competition between hispanics and blacks, not resource competition between hispanics and poor whites.

    How does that data in any way support your claim that the issue of affirmative action has hurt Obama in the Latino population?

    My claim is deductive, not inductive. As I mentioned to ortho, it’s a straightforward application of public choice analysis.

    How does that data in any way support your claim that the issue of affirmative action has hurt Obama in the Latino population?

    Certainly hispanics are relatively unorganized, but to the extent they are a politically meaningful group, we should expect to see support for increased immigration, support for government assistance, opposition to those who discriminate against them, etc.

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