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Affirmative Action Quotas are Outdated
Affirmative action legislation has helped in the fight for equality
for minorities and women in the American society; however, time has come
for new legislation to replace or abolish affirmative action as we know it.
In affirmative action's beginning, the government needed laws to help aid
the blending of minorities and women in American economics and culture. In
a world economy that grows more competitive with every passing day, our
quota system is a dead weight to the American businesses that are trying to
survive. Not only is advancement based on race and gender but also it is
costly and time consuming. American's attitude toward minorities and women
is "so steep a decline that it almost certainly reflects some change from
the blatantly racist and nearly universal hostile white prejudices of the
recent past" (Feagin & Feagin, 1978, pp. 6-7). If America's economy is to
continue to survive it will most definitely have to hire on merit alone,
and not be bothered by trivial laws that are outda ted.
The origination of Affirmative Action is from the Civil Rights Act
of 1964, Title VI and VII. Title VI states "no person in the United
States shall, on the grounds of race, color, or natural origin, be excluded
from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to
discrimination under programs or activities receiving financial assistance."
Title VII states that "[i]t shall be unlawful for an employer to: fail or
refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate
against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions,
or privileges of employment , because of such individuals race, color,
religion, sex, or natural origin"(Civil Rights Act Title VII). These laws
can be justified by our constitutional principle that all men are created
equal, and should remain a part of our laws and thought process. However,
penalizing a business or school because they haven't hired or accepted the
number of minorities required by law is injustice.
According to Roberts (1995), a Gallup Poll taken in July of 1995
shows that Americans agree that quotas are no longer useful. Our fellow "
Americans reject employment quotas by a margin of 63% to 35%," and in the
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black community "68% opposed and 22%" favored quotas" (Roberts, 1995, p.
23). Americans today disagree with quotas because when they were implented
they were meant "as temporary bootstrap measures to help blacks advance
faster" (Roberts & Stratton, 1995, p. 41). Quotas have done what they were
designed to do; therefore, they should no longer be looked to as an
Quotas are not only unfair, but extremely expensive for our economy.
The State Department is finding out how unfair and complicated quotas can
be. It has tried, in recent years, to help equalize their work force by
hiring more minorities and lowering its original standards. In an effort
to recruit black males, the State Department "established a 'near pass'
category for blacks" (Gedda, 1996, p. A25). This policy allowed blacks who
did not pass their written examinations to be chosen over whites who had
higher percentages on their test. From this policy imposed by the State
Department has come a lawsuit by a white male on the basis of reverse
While the State Department continues its troubles with quotas, our
economy also suffers. A 1993 article in the National Review stated that "
in 1991 the direct and indirect cost of quotas...amounted to between $112
and $115 billion. While the 'opportunity cost'...amounted to at least 4
percent of 1991 GNP (Counting Cost, 1993, p. 18). Another example of
expensive Affirmative Action is being felt by the government itself (which,
in essence, is the tax payer). Congress examined student loan defaults
across the nation. Their answer to the problem was to cut federal loans to
"colleges whose students tended to default. However, 'historically black
colleges and universities are exempted,'...creating a minority right to
default" (Roberts & Stratton, 1995, p. 44). Who gets to pay for the
defaulted loans by the black colleges? The American tax payer-both black
Affirmative action programs have helped many minorities gain access
to jobs they otherwise would not have a chance at. Many believe that if
these programs were abolished the gains that minorities have made in past
decades would be reversed. Even though reverse discrimination is the cry
from the white male, it is not that wide spread. Minorities are wondering
how different life would be without affirmative action programs on their
side. An article in
Business Week by Catherine Yang gives reason that affirmative
action programs are all but gone. Yang states that "the U.S. market and
labor pool is increasingly diverse-so a company's workforce must reflect
that diversity to succeed" (1996, p. 51).
To keep affirmative action programs (quotas) is simply a detriment
to everyone involved. How do you suppose a black man feels about getting a
new job simply on the basis of his color instead of his qualifications?
The system is simply outdated for the qualified man who is passed over,
regardless. The system is a slap in the face for the minority hired simply
because he/she is a minority. The best affirmative action program is none
at all. Companies across the United States should adopt the hiring methods
of the State Department. The job openings, according to Warren
Christopher(Secretary of State), will be met "without regard to race,
gender, religion, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation or
national origin" (Gedda, 1996, p. A25).
Instead of affirmative action programs, the government should put
more of an emphasis on equalizing opportunities for minorities from
disadvantaged backgrounds. This could be done by providing more money for
education, more incentives to get off of welfare, and better law
enforcement for problem neighborhoods often associated with minorities.
While this solution may not end discrimination, it is one step closer to
equalizing the majority from the minority than the present quota system.
According to Gary S. Becker, "the best affirmative-action schemes do not
bring unprepared minorities up to the level of the students and workers who
gain their positions on merit alone" (1995, p. 16) Affirmative action is
meeting great opposition by white males and by minorities as well. These
programs have long since been due for termination. The money that is spent
on affirmative action programs could be used in a more useful way by
helping bring minorities into the work force. Men or women should not be
hi red because of their race-they should earn the position they want. Just
the same, men or women should not be discriminated against because of their
race. While discrimination in the workforce exist, affirmative action and
quotas are not the answer to the problem.