Friday, August 22, 2008

The absurdities of Leftist racial discrimination in California

Caltrans, the California state transportation agency, remains addicted to quotas, even after the passage of Prop. 209 a number of years ago should have forced it to go cold turkey.

The agency tried to do without quotas for a couple of years but went into a deep funk when a "disparity study" purported to reveal "underrepresentation" of, for example, certain subsets of Asian American contractors (actually, it found only an "inference of disparity," but that was enough for government work), and it consequently asked the U.S. Dept. of Transportation for permission to resume its quota habit.

I discussed this request about a year ago, here. An excerpt:
With respect to this request, AsianWeek ("The Voice of Asian America") predictably declares "CalTrans Needs More APA Contractors." Let us pass up the almost (but not quite) irresistible urge to ask "Why?" and move on. (For those of you not completely conversant with the jargon of "diversity," "APA" means Asian-Pacific Americans.) But a closer look, which AsianWeek happily provides, reveals that Caltrans doesn't need just any APA contractors. Indeed, it already has too many of some and not enough (for whom?) of others. Referring to the "diversity index" of underrepresentation in a Caltrans study, AsianWeek noted:
Hispanic-owned firms showed great improvement. Some APA firms, those owned by South Asian Americans, were actually overrepresented.

The study used a disparity index, where a score of 100 constitutes parity. Indian- and Pakistani-owned contractors rated 124. Latino firms rated 81. An index below 80 is considered "substantial disparity."

Even among those groups underrepresented, the range was huge. African Americans were the most disadvantaged, scoring only 15. Chinese- and Filipino-owned firms fared little better with a score of 31.
Presumably a close look at other categories would reveal similar "disparities" within groups - too many Mexicans, not enough Guatemalans; too many Carribean blacks; etc. In short, as AsianWeek astutely observed, simply
[i]nstituting an across-the-board policy to hire more minority contractors would not be an improvement, particularly if the same minority contractors ended up being hired over and over, simply to fill artificial quotas.
Alas, AsianWeek did not inform us how to distinguish "artificial quotas" from genuine, legitimate quotas.
Now Caltrans is at it again, seeking what it euphemistically calls a "goal" of 13.5% of Caltrans work being awarded to DBEs (Disadvantaged Business Enterprises). It proposes to meet this "goal," in "equal proportions of 6.75 percent, through race-neutral/conscious measures." In other words, half of its "goal" will be met using colorblind, non-discriminatory means and the other half will be met by awarding contracts on the basis of race, ethnicity, and sex.

Caltrans bases it request to be excused from complying with the California constitution, in part, on its fear of losing federal funds if it is not allowed to revert to its quota habit, although, as the Pacific Legal Foundation has pointed out in a devastating critique, there is no basis for this fear. But let us assume, for the sake of argument, that Caltrans actually believes its funding is at risk if it does not award 13.5% of its business to DBEs, and that half of that "goal" must be met by race-based contracting.

If that is the case, or the belief, could someone explain to me the difference between these "goals" and a quota? If there is no difference, could someone then point me to the criticism of the Caltrans proposal from all those politicians who loudly proclaim their undying opposition to quotas?

Finally, one other interesting aspect of Caltrans' request for permission to discriminate. As stated in its report cited above, Caltrans announced that
For FFY 2009, Caltrans will limit race-conscious measures to African American, Asian Pacific American, Women, and Native American-owned firms.
This must rank as one of the few government programs designed to discriminate in favor of Asians but not Hispanics (although I suppose female Hispanics might qualify). Have the Hispanic "civil rights" groups noticed this exclusion?


The Idiocy of Energy Independence

by John Stossel

It's amazing how ideas with no merit become popular merely because they sound good. Most every politician and pundit says "energy independence" is a great idea. Presidents have promised it for 35 years. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were self-sufficient, protected from high prices, supply disruptions and political machinations?

The hitch is that even if the United States were energy independent, it would be protected from none of those things. To think otherwise is to misunderstand basic economics and the global marketplace.

To be for "energy independence" is to be against trade. But trade makes us as safe. Crop destruction from this summer's floods in the Midwest should remind us of the folly of depending only on ourselves. Achieving "energy independence" would expose us to unnecessary risks -- such as storms that knock out oil refineries or droughts that create corn -- and ethanol -- shortages.

Trade also saves us money. "We import energy for a reason," says the Cato Institute's energy expert, Jerry Taylor, "It's cheaper than producing it here at home. A governmental war on energy imports will, by definition, raise energy prices".

Anyway, a "domestic energy only" policy (call it "Drain America First"?) is a fantasy. America's demand for oil is too great for us to supply ourselves. Electricity we could provide. Not with windmills and solar panels -- they are not yet close to providing enough -- but coal and nuclear power could produce America's electricity.

But cars need oil. We don't have nearly enough. That doesn't keep the presidential candidates from preying on the public's economic ignorance. "I have set before the American people an energy plan, the Lexington Project -- named for the town where Americans asserted their independence once before," John McCain said. "This nation will achieve strategic independence by 2025".

Barack Obama, promising to "set America on path to energy independence," is upset that we send millions to other countries. "They get our money because we need their oil". His concern that "they get our money" is echoed in commercials funded by Republican businessman T. Boone Pickens, who wants government subsidies for alternative energy. He tries to scare us by saying, "$700 billion are leaving this country to foreign nations every year -- the largest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind."

Don't Obama and Pickens realize that we get something useful for that money? It's not a "transfer"; it's a win-win transaction, like all voluntary trade. Who cares if the sellers live in a foreign country? When two parties trade, each is better off -- or the exchange would never have been made. We want the oil more than the money. They want the money more than the oil. They need us as much as we need them.

And Obama is wrong when he implies that America imports most of its oil from the Mideast. Most of it comes from Canada and Mexico.

McCain and Obama talk constantly about how much they will "invest" -- with money taken from the taxpayers, of course -- to achieve energy independence. "[W]e can provide loan guarantees and venture capital to those with the best plans to develop and sell biofuels on a commercial market," Obama said.

What makes Obama think he's qualified to pick the "best plans"? It's the robust competition of the free market that reveals what's best. Obama's program would preempt the only good method we have for learning which form of energy is best.

Has he learned nothing from the conceits of his predecessors? Jimmy Carter, saying that achieving energy independence was the "moral equivalent of war," called for "the most massive peacetime commitment of funds ... to develop America's own alternative". Then he wasted billions of our tax dollars on the utterly failed "synfuel" program.

McCain promises a $300-million prize to whoever develops a battery for an electric car. But the free market already provides plenty of incentive to invent a better battery. As George Mason University economist Donald Boudreaux writes, "Anyone who develops such a device will earn profits dwarfing $300 million simply by selling it on the market. There's absolutely no need for any such taxpayer-funded prize".

Central energy planning and government-funded prizes are economic idiocy.


Court Rules Boy Must Pay Child Support to His Rapist

I've previously discussed cases where boys who have been statutorily raped by older women are forced to pay child support to their rapists. Here's a new one, from Ohio. From Boy's parents sue to get his baby from mom, 21 (Columbus Dispatch, 8/16/08):
LANCASTER, Ohio --- A Pickerington couple and their son are fighting for custody of a baby born to a Lancaster woman charged with having unlawful sex with the boy, who was 15 at the time of conception. A paternity test shows that the teen is the father of the baby born April 7 to Jane C. Crane, who was 19 when she became pregnant. Now, a judge has ordered him to pay $50 a month in child support and set visitation at seven hours a week.

Crane, meanwhile, faces criminal charges. A Fairfield County grand jury indicted her last month on two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, a fourth-degree felony. Conviction carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a requirement to register as a sex offender for 25 years. Crane is living with the baby and her family in Lancaster.

The boy's parents say they can provide a better upbringing for the baby than Crane can. Her household includes her stepfather, David L. Jacobs, who was convicted of domestic violence last year for hitting, choking and pointing a gun at Crane's 17-year-old sister and was placed on two years' probation, court records show. "We don't want to have our granddaughter abused by these people," the boy's father said. "We are trying to do the right thing. "The child support was the icing on the cake. I couldn't believe that our son has to pay child support to his abuser."
Note also that the boy is allowed only seven hours a week of "visitation" with his son. He's really getting an early education on the joys of the family law system.

As an aside, I don't believe a 19-year-old having sex with a 15-year-old should be statutory rape. However, legally in this case it is statutory rape--just as it would be if it were a 35-year-old with a 15-year-old--so demanding that the victim pay child support should be out of the question.


An 'anti-natal' society tells parents not to have big families

Society unfairly pressurises parents into having small families, according to a new report. The study for the think tank Civitas claims that the middle-classes are made to feel guilty about the impact on the environment and the damage to their careers if they have large numbers of babies. Everything from house prices to car tax makes it far more expensive for them to raise more than two children, it says.

The report says that this "anti-natal" prejudice against large families is misplaced, however, and that young people who have lots of brothers and sisters grow up happier and better-adjusted than only children.

Colin Brazier, a father-of-five who wrote the report, concluded: "Few television advertisements show a family with more than two children. Many feature just one. "The only child - once pitiable - is now fashionable. "A growing canon of work exists to justify the decision to restrict family size in the interests of the environment or career. "Respectable authors sidestep a substantial body of evidence to argue that only children suffer no material disadvantage by dint of their solitary status."

Mr Brazier, a presenter on Sky News, claims in his article in this month's Civitas Review that many British parents would like to have more than one or two children but that they cannot afford to do so. He says that the property market acts as a "contraceptive" because developers now build smaller homes, and that having more than three bedrooms adds two-thirds to the price of a house in some areas.

The report points out that parents who send their children to fee-paying schools suffer as there are only "modest discounts" for having multiple siblings on the roll. Meanwhile state schools no longer guarantee that all children from the same family will get a place, forcing parents to make several visits on the school-run each day.

Large families suffer financially on holiday as "family tickets" invariably admit two adults and two children, Mr Brazier said, while some councils insist that parents take no more than two children into swimming pools.

The study claims environmental concerns are now increasingly being cited as reasons to charge large families more for services, with people carriers facing higher road tax and "pay-as-you-throw" bin charges likely to penalise households with more children for throwing away more rubbish.

Despite this, Mr Brazier insists there are great benefits to children, their parents and society as a whole from large families. He cites academic studies that have shown children from larger families get into fewer fights at school and make more friends, because they are used to negotiation and team-playing, and are less likely to develop allergies.

He suggests having older siblings creates a "trickle-down" effect of knowledge to younger children in middle-class homes, and claims that in some broken families, deprived children only learn valuable social skills from their brothers and sisters.

The report claims parents are less likely to be over-protective or pushy if they have lots of children, while young people themselves benefit from having older siblings to play with and look after them.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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