Archive for the ‘Political and Ethical Thoughts’ Category

A small trucking company has 5 trucks and 5 drivers. Each driver travels 700 miles on an average day going the established 70 mph speed limit and driving the maximum 10 hours per day allowed by law.

To save fuel, the government decrees a new reduced speed limit of 55 mph. Now each of those truck drivers can only travel 550 miles per day in the same 10 hours. That is a reduction of about 20% in work accomplished for each driver.

Now, these drivers have contracts and commitments to their customers to maintain. The demand for work did not reduce with the speed limit. They cannot physically deliver the same amount of products as they used to, but the same amount needs to be delivered somehow. Therefore, they will need to hire a 6th driver and a 6th truck to make up for the 20% less work the 5 current drivers are doing. However, the 6th driver is not going to work for free, and the truck will cost a lot of money that must be taken out of the general profits of the other 5 truck drivers.

By lowering the speed they drive, the truck drivers are saving about 3% in fuel costs, which is good, but they must still keep their commitments to their customers. Therefore, the 6th driver, still needs to be hired, and the new truck bought, but he will have 15% less work to do. The trucker’s union will demand he get paid the same, or that the work is evened out among all six drivers, so the net result will be that all the truck drivers will get a 3% reduction in pay in addition to accomplishing less work.

However, this 3% in fuel savings is more than negated when factoring in the cost of fueling the 6th new truck, which will consume the same amount of fuel as the original 5 trucks. The trucking company’s fuel costs, and the amount of fuel burned, will actually go up 5%! (20% reduction in efficiency = purchasing and hiring to make up that 20% minus 15% in fuel savings = 5% more fuel consumed.)

Now, multiply this by thousands of trucks and trucking companies, plus the energy (and fuel burned) to produce additional trucks that were not previously needed, plus the cost in inefficiency in having to spend time and resources in find and train new drivers, and you will see that the reduced speed limit actually caused the consumption of more fuel, accomplishing the exact opposite of what was intended by the law. And, this is only within the trucking industry! The cost in fuel and time resources in all other industries and private life is incalculable!

This is a classic example of the government stepping beyond its natural bounds. The government did not create the market or the need for products to be transported—people did. These needs and desires are the product of millions of people making millions of decisions to better their lives or just survive. No entity or reduced sampling of this whole population (such as a legislature, president or king) can factor in all the variables involved in laws intended to adjust the will of the whole people. I would almost suspect it to be even outside God’s power—almost.

Material gain, economic security, and conservation of resources cannot be guaranteed by any government. They are the result of work. Unless the bread (or service) is produced, it cannot be distributed or accomplished and government does not produce—people do. That is all the people and all the factors. Any attempt to improve one facet of society by force of law will have ripple effects on everything else in that society. It may indeed improve (temporarily) that particular facet, but always at a higher cost to the rest of the society. Like the waves from a stone of favoritism thrown into a pond, the disruption spreads in ever winder and wider circles until the whole pond is effected and must consume energy to return to the previous state.

An unnatural favoritism is introduced for one segment of the whole (in this case the saving of fuel) which disrupts the progress of all other segments leading to the demand for favoritism in them. That sixth truck driver, though only the result of a law, will demand equal treatment. To pay his salary, the trucking company—to remain competitive—had to layoff their bookkeeper. Now all the divers must keep their own books in addition to being paid 3% less. The drivers therefore demand more pay, go on strike, the company pays them more, is no longer competitive, looses customers, must layoff drivers, trucks and their value are wasted by sitting idle, and on and on.

Incidentally, one of beauties of capitalism, is that when a company or person fails or succeeds, you can’t usually find the reason—it is the product of too many factors. But, when the government creates laws to control the will of the people, like a monkey wrench thrown into the machine, we all have something specific to blame or reward. Tis much better to know that the whole pond contributed completely unintentionally to our condition than to have focused anger or praise.


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They say a lie is the only defensive weapon of a child. Not only does a child not have the physical strength to defend himself, he has not yet developed the intellectual strengths to justify himself, whether right or wrong.

I have often thought of the habit of lying in adults to be a mark of immaturity. Their lies may be more complex since they have more fully developed their intellect, but contrary to their intelligence, their emotional development has been retarded or has ceased altogether. My theory is that such development becomes impaired during their late adolescence when sin, serious sin, becomes a possibility.If they fail to repent from such mistakes, fully and soon, all other aspects of emotional maturity cease to develop. They have no other way to justify such sin except through a lie (to themselves and others), and since their intellect is not quite set, the habit of lying gets ingrained.

Examples abound within public figures where we say, “I can’t believe he thought he could get away with that lie.” He may be very intelligent, even brilliant, but he is morally stuck with the self-preservation paradigm of a little child.

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This is my critique of Senator Harry Reid’s speech to a BYU Forum given in October, 2007. It is titled “Faith, Family, and Public Service.”

The honorable Senator Harry Reid begins his speech with family anecdotes and a brief personal history. He mentions his early childhood in poverty and his mother’s admiration for Franklin Roosevelt. He also gives an account of how he and his wife were converted to Mormonism. It is a beautiful and touching personal story which is beyond any criticism. I will concern myself here only with his political statements given within the speech.

Senator Reid: “I am a Democrat because I am a Mormon, not in spite of it.”

Well, Mr, Reid, I am a Republican because I am Mormon. Apparently we have differing views of what it means to be Mormon. Really, the only difference between the two parties is the question of means. We are both for helping the poor and downtrodden, and I don’t appreciate the insinuation that I, being of the other party, somehow hate the poor or don’t care about the less fortunate. Many have come from the same poor background as you, Mr. Reid, and yet do not ascribe to your solutions. Bringing up your poverty-stricken background does not lend any moral authority to your political persuasions, any more than it would to your religious ones. In case you are wondering, the difference is this: FORCE. Democrats believe in using force to correct or change society (or don’t even think about it), and Republicans do not. Simple. Don’t get me wrong, force often works, but nothing lasting ever comes about by force. Try forcing people to “convert” to Mormonism and see how that works out in the long run.

Senator Reid: “Social Security is the most successful social program in the history of the world.”

As “social” programs go, maybe so. Observe: I am forced to “contribute” 12.4% of my paycheck to a program in which literally everyone else has a say in how my earned money is to be used. This fact alone tells you that it is not going to be used very efficiently. And of course, these people, through their elected representatives, have decided to use my money for other purposes than for what it was intended and have left me promissory notes in the form of government-issued bonds (issued to itself, incidentally) in exchange for my money. And it is my money—I earned it, not them. But, if by some miracle I was allowed to sue for its return, they couldn’t give it to me—they don’t have it. They must borrow it. That 12.4% (6.2% from me and 6.2% from me through my employer’s cost of employing me) could have earned interest at an average rate of 10% a year if I was allowed to invest it (my own money) in the most conservative stocks. It would have even earned more if I had just left it in my bank account. It still would have been better off if I just stuffed it under the mattress—at least it wouldn’t have been “borrowed.”

One can make the argument that I am being “forced” to support the military, police, roads, etc. There is a subtle distinction here, though, that most current Democrats cannot see: These things have to do with public and general protection and natural monopolies, not individual security or welfare. The constitution and social compacts dictate what the government can do. We can only give another entity power we already possess. I cannot force my neighbor to save for his retirement and he cannot force me to pay for his personal retirement either. The very idea is ludicrous. However, I have a right to travel on open land or roads held in common and to protect my home and possessions, and therefore can give that power to someone else in the form of community and national police and local roads and large highways which are natural monopolies.

So, as far as “social” programs go, Social Security is about as successful as any such kind of immoral program can get. People do manage to get money back in their old age (for now), at least on paper, if you don’t factor inflation honestly, or the cost of lost opportunity through their own investments and purchasing decisions. This only proves the earlier point: When a good principle (saving for old age or insurance against the uncertainties of such) is implemented through force, it eventually accomplishes almost the opposite of its intention, or at best, nothing of worth.

A near-perfect case study in this would be the forced “conversions” in early Islam and Christianity. Yes, we have a lot of “Christians” and “Muslims” in the world as a result, but these religions would not be recognizable to their founders today—massacring innocent people and justifying almost any carnal or low inclination in their name. The very beauty of Mormonism is that it is a choice. Choice is essential and central to all of Mormon doctrine. Having social security is also beautiful, no sane-minded person would argue that, but it is the means that negates its intended effects—much like sex is beautiful if the proper relationship is there, but if force is involved in any way… The same applies to Mr. Reid’s “social” programs. It is akin to prostituting what is beautiful.

Mr. Reid: “I say government can be our friend.”

Wow! That is one of the scariest thoughts I have ever heard. If you were going for shock-value there, Mr. Reid, you couldn’t do better. No one is my friend who ultimately holds the gun. Try not paying your taxes or “contributions” because you don’t want your neighbor to meddle in your personal affairs and see what happens. Government is force, plain and simple, and we must try to get by with the least amount of force in our lives, even if that means suffering. According to Mormon theology, that is why we are here. Government by its very nature is a necessary evil. When it grows, evil grows, or at the very least has more avenues within which to spread.

Mr. Reid: “…during a crisis, people have only three places to look for help: family, government and God.”

Slightly out of order there, but subtlety is apparently beyond the good Senator’s grasp. I am glad he remembered to capitalize “God” and not “government,” though. Interesting term, this word “government.” As far as I can see, it has no root in “relief” or “help.” It ensures justice and protection, but should never be in the business of providing. It provided quite well for the king and nobles in the past, but I thought we fought a revolution or something to get rid of that. Apparently the fight really never ends. Whether you’re providing for yourself (king) or the poor (socialism) under the threat of force, there is no difference to the one being forced.

Mr. Reid: “I say unions are responsible for the forty hour week, decent wages and safe working conditions.”

Well, you can “say” that, but it does not make it true. The facts are the forty hour week did not come about until there was no need for a sixty, eighty, or more hour week. Economic growth brought on the forty hour week. An ancient farmer, or even one in the Third World today, works well beyond forty hours in a week because he absolutely must to survive. Likewise, child labor laws did not go into effect in the U.S. until the economic need for child labor was gone. If your family is going to starve, your children are going to work, it is as simple as that. They “jumped the gun” economically in Thailand when they passed child labor laws there. The economy could not yet handle it. Children lost the means to sufficiently contribute to the support of their families and were forced into illegal economic activity, like prostitution and drug trafficking, just to survive. As soon as technology and the economic efficiency of production reached critical-mass, consumerism required less time and resources be spent at work. Only then did business, and public opinion support the forty hour week. Before that, the majority of the voting working class (and particularly the farmers) were hostile to a set number of hours per week and any laws dictating such.

This brings up another point to ponder: Why is there no Welfare system in places like Thailand, Mexico or the Philippines? Two reasons: (1) There is not enough economic wealth in the form of “rich people” to finance it and (2) any immoral practice (the forced taking from one to give to another by a third party) requires a certain amount of virtue within the society at large to prop it up to any level of functionality. If we in the U.S. all had no moral fortitude or compunctions, we would all head down to the Welfare office today and find varying ways of qualifying for “assistance” and the whole system would collapse overnight. Many Third World and semi-Third World countries do not yet approach the baseline of honesty required for socialist programs to work. It’s a chicken-and-the-egg dilemma. Are they dishonest and immoral because they are poor, or are they poor because they are dishonest and immoral?

Mr. Reid’s general statements about the environment and energy reform.

Global warming or the more technically correct term “climate change” may very well be taking place and is being influenced by human activity. But, given your propensity, Mr. Reid, for wishing to force others to what you think they should do or what may be thought of as right, you must forgive us conservatives for being concerned as to your true intentions. It is not beyond reason to expect “environmentalists” to someday tell us what color to paint our houses (assuming we are still allowed to live in such) so that it does not disrupt the “natural color of the surrounding biosphere and possibly interrupt the proper rhythm of migratory birds.” This is all a Pandora’s box of  evil “control freaks” we freedom-loving conservatives are not going to open ourselves up to. It is no coincidence almost all socialists are also “environmentalists.”

Mr. Reid: “Some say that if you help the wealthy, they will crate jobs and it will trickle down and help all.”

This is a case of repositioning assumptions. What does Senator Reid mean by “help” the wealthy? They already are punished and treated differently than everyone else based on their earning ability—sort of like punishing someone because their skin color is different. Someone’s talent or circumstances are such that they become a candidate to be singled out for different treatment. So, “helping” the wealthy by bringing their tax rate to the same level as everybody else, is not “helping” them, it is only treating them the same under the law. That is equality.

And a funny thing happens when you allow everyone the same level playing field. The only way someone can then get wealthy (legally, of course) is by providing a product or service that someone else is willing to pay for. If they do not, or cannot, they will eventually cease to be wealthy or will never become such. Both parties see a benefit in every willing transaction. This particularly works in the employee/employer relationship. If an employee is to be successful, and maintain and grow in his job, he must provide the best service to his employer for the price. Likewise, if the employer is to be successful in maintaining customers or a market for his services, he must have the best, most content, and therefore most productive employees for the price. On the whole (the macro level) everyone wins. There is no “trickling.” Each gets the best deal they can going both ways, in the aggregate. It is only when a third party, like the government—which can have no concept of the individual variables at stake—comes in and tips the playing field in one direction or the other, that inequality on massive scales starts to occur.

Mr. Reid then mentions unions as the saviors of the working class. Well, what he really means is not unions, which are just another natural market variable, but the tipping of the playing field in the union’s favor. There is no natural favoritism in the market over the long run. If all parties are left free all inequalities are eventually leveled out—sometimes within a day or two, sometimes within years, and sometimes within a generation or two. An example: I am paid by my employer every two weeks. Now I’ve performed almost two week’s worth of labor for the price agreed upon, but have not yet received my compensation. Meanwhile, my employer is collecting and earning revenue or interest on the money owed to me. This is an inequality that will be settled in a day or two at the end of the pay period. Compensation for this inequality has already been addressed through market interactions. If there is another variable introduced, like hyper inflation of prices for consumer needs, that would impel me to seek (and maybe organize with others and demand) a daily or even hourly pay structure. Such happened in pre-WWII Germany with absolutely no government or third party involvement in the employee/employer market-driven contract (except to cause the hyper inflation in the first place).

Senator Reid concludes his speech by stating many examples of service given by Mormon church leaders and others in government capacities. All service is noble if it is given willingly and not first funded by forced “contributions.” The Peace Corps is noble insofar as it promotes security for the citizens of the U.S. who are funding it for its purpose of ultimately protecting their property and freedoms. When such “service” goes beyond that, and promotes things unrelated to our natural rights which we can give it, such becomes not service but is ultimately evil in nature. To quote Pope Benedict XVI: “Whenever politics tries to be redemptive, it is promising too much. Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes, not divine, but demonic.”

There is much else in Mr. Reid’s speech that I can take no issue with. I don’t wish to infer that Senator Harry Reid is evil. He, like the rest of us, is human and prone to imperfections and muddled thinking. Some of his notions are therefore the product of his own prejudices and incomplete experience. I feel it is important to attempt to correct such wrongs whenever we can to the best of our understanding at the time.

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Some parents never grow up. For one reason or another their emotional development stops somewhere. When a child is crying, other children usually ignore him, but his mother will come to his aid. But not all mothers. Young mothers or those whose emotional development was retarded for some reason will not. They never outgrow their selfish or insensitive childhood.

Children are incapable of rendering assistance and therefore have no use for empathy—it would only impede their own survival (evolutionarily speaking). They will react, in-kind sometimes, simply because it makes them uncomfortable, but not out of the more genuine concern that a mature parent might have.

We’re all selfish to some extent and therefore not fully mature; but those who abuse their children or neglect them are much further down the maturity/emotional development ladder than the rest of society. Jesus recognized this. It is why he said “those who will lose their life [unselfishness] will find it, and those who will save their life will lose it” (John 12:25 paraphrased).

A small selfish child is not terribly aware of his world—pretty ignorant. As we lose our selfishness we lose our ignorance and gain knowledge or understanding. Those we disagree with or fail to understand can be reconciled by losing our selfishness, or our focusing on our own hurt, in a word, being mature. We can then gain the knowledge or further understanding we would not otherwise get and find peace.

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There is a subtle self-deception going on in all of us. It is an absence of love, real love. Being the victim, putting ourselves “above” another simply because our weaknesses, or the way we manifest them, are different.

We all mistreat each other at times. Sometimes without even knowing it. We lack judgement, fail to take all into account. Instead of becoming defensive or warring, we need to take into—actually internalize—the reality of the other person’s view or feelings, knowing that even if their perception or interpretation is faulty, we also are not immune to such imperfections.

War begins when we seek revenge in our hearts. The swinging of blades is a mere formality.

Christ’s atonement works in two ways: It forgives our sins and offers us all we need to be able to forgive others. Christ offers to pay the price for those who have hurt us so that we need not seek revenge or harbor hatred in our hearts.

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Walter Williams

Dr. Walter Williams

In my post on my review of the book Red River (Unfulfilled Potential) I included a link to a speech given by Walter Williams, an African-American professor who takes issue with some of the assumptions I attributed to the author of Red River. How strongly the author holds to such assumptions, I don’t know, but I made some assumptions of my own based on her comments in the back matter of the book. Looking over my post, I thought it might be helpful to take Professor Williams’ speech and condense it to what I was getting at in my book review. Williams fundamentally “gets it” when we white people express frustration in dealing with race relations of the sort I mentioned in my earlier post. So, below are my notes on his revealing speech:

According to Walter Williams, there are three basic assumptions we take for granted when we look at race discrimination in America. They are: (1) Discrimination has adverse effects on the achievements of a race; (2) statistical differences between races imply or measure discrimination; and (3) statistical differences will no longer exist or persist if discrimination were eliminated.

Dr. Williams then takes each of these assumptions in turn and explains them.

Assumption One: Discrimination has adverse effects on the achievements of a race (and blacks in particular).

Race Relations GraphicThrough the centuries Jews have faced great discrimination and yet they have achieved a higher average income than the general population and have a higher-than-average education. Now, you might say that the Jew is at an advantage because he could simply change is name from “Goldstein” to “Smith” and simply melt into the population. However, most have not and are in fact generally known to be Jewish or we wouldn’t have their stats to look at.

The Japanese and Chinese have also faced horrible discrimination, and they cannot simply change their name to melt into the general population. About 15% of the general population in America are professional workers; however, among Japanese Americans 25% of their population are professionals. 24% of Chinese Americans are professionals. Both these groups have a higher income then the national median and have the lowest crime rate, lowest alcoholism rate and highest marital stability.

But, you might say, people have a “special dislike” for African Americans. Well, West Indian blacks in America also have a higher income than the national average and have a slightly higher average of professionals in their workforce. Now, will a potential employer take the time to find out if the black he is interviewing comes from the West Indies? Probably not. (These West Indian blacks have a similar heritage of slavery as the American-born blacks.)

Lest you think discrimination only has effects in America, consider that 60% of GNP in the Southeast Asian countries of Burma and Malaysia is owned my Chinese citizens, even though they are only 13% of the population. In fact, there are Affirmative Action programs for the natives in some Southeast Asia countries.

Also, Armenians in Turkey have a higher average income than the Turks who discriminate against them.

Assumption Two: Statistical differences between races imply or measure discrimination.

“But for the fact of discrimination we would all be alike,” is the argument made by many racial reform activists. Statistical differences exist, no one denies that, but they do not usually have anything to do with “discrimination.”

Black Americans are 13% of the population, yet they make up 75% of the NBA basketball players. They are also the highest paid in the NBA. Does the NBA “have it out” for white players?

There is only one black in the national hockey league—is the national hockey league racist? No one contends that it is. In addition, more than 50% of American hockey players are from Minnesota. What kind of conspiracy is Minnesota conducting?

Jews are no more than 3% of the American population, yet 33% of all American Nobel Prize winners are Jewish. Are the Jews hiding the books from the rest of us?

Statistical disparities do not imply negative discrimination. Equally productive females only earn 59% of the salary of their male counterparts on average. Unmarried men earn only 62% of what married men earn (when adjusted for age). Why don’t companies hire more of the “cheaper” females and unmarried men? Companies often fail when their costs are only 2% higher than the competition. They would be able to outbid other companies out of the market my hiring more women and unmarried men! Why don’t they? Do the vast majority of businesses in America “have it out” for women or single men? That would be the easy answer, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if companies are trying to be competitive.

Now for the hard-truth answer: First you must ask, “Are all women ‘equally productive’?”  Females who remain unmarried and work continuously from age 18 to 37 actually have a slightly higher income than their exact male (never married) counterparts. Female professors who never married also have a slightly higher income than a male professor who has never been married. Apparently, marriage exacts a high cost on women. Because of the traditional roles in marriage, and let us not forget actual biology, women usually become a greater burden on employers once they have married. Their “workforce capital” decreases. Not only do they need time off for pregnancy and maternity leave, they are the ones who are usually called when their child has problems at school, is sick, or needs to be taken to soccer practice. Women traditionally take care of the household needs, such as shopping and cleaning. In other words, their attention is divided; their priority may not, and in some cases cannot (such as childbearing), be with their employment. Also, for whatever reason, women tend to visit the doctor more often then men, costing employers more in health insurance. This is undeniable: health insurance policies on women are slightly higher than on men. Taking all this into account, although married women may be “equally productive” while actually doing the work at their jobs, their costs to employers in time off, divided attention, and other inconveniences brings their “workforce capital” down.

Not so for men—their “workforce capital” actually increases with marriage. In the traditional marriage where the woman assumes the primary role in child-rearing (someone has to), the man gets a “helper.” By becoming married the male can devote more to work because, again, in the traditional marriage, the woman now takes care of the majority of household upkeep, freeing the man from those distractions. The woman simply cannot efficiently develop her “workforce capital” in a traditional marriage. Married men therefore earn an average of 38% more by being married—an advantage of having a “helper.” The woman thus owns 38% of her husband’s income without question. If a woman wants to make the same income or better, she simply should not get married. This is simply one of those “hard facts” in life (if you chose to see it that way) that cannot be overcome without sacrificing valued (and most would probably argue “natural”) roles in marriage and family culture.

Assumption Three: Statistical differences will no longer exist or persist if discrimination were eliminated.

Hotel On FireYou may say a specific hotel fire was caused my oxygen. That is true, but does it explain why another hotel, also surrounded by oxygen, did not burn down? Oxygen is so pervasive that it alone cannot explain the fire. Likewise with discrimination—it alone cannot explain any single case of “racial discrimination”—other causes must contribute to each case of “racial discrimination.”

Discrimination is everywhere. For instance, we use it in selecting a wife or husband. We always have criteria for our decisions and we don’t give all an equal chance based on our varied criteria. We eliminate opportunity with every choice we make and discrimination is solely the act of choice. When choosing a husband or wife, we all systematically eliminate vast categories of potential mates. Either they’re the wrong gender (there goes one-half of the pool), are not athletic, don’t make adequate income, don’t share the right religion or beliefs, are not physically attractive to us, and so on. In other words we discriminate. Like oxygen, discrimination is everywhere and cannot be eliminated. Claiming you didn’t get a job because of discrimination is true. It is true in every single case of someone not getting a job. Scarcity requires us to choose (there is only one job opening for many applicants). Someone will always be injured by our choice.

Scary TigerPrejudice literally means “pre-judge” or to use a stereotype. We all use prejudices out of necessity to survive. When you unexpectantly see a tiger sitting on your front porch you will probably “stereotype” it by running away. Why is that? Is it based on any specific knowledge of that particular tiger, or is it based on tiger folklore, what your mother has told you about tigers, videos of tigers acting aggressively, or so forth? Now, that particular tiger may be tame as a kitten; nevertheless, a quick calculation is being made: The expected benefit of additional information about that particular tiger is less than the expected cost, so we discriminate against that tiger without further searching. In other words, cheaply acquired observations are of greater benefit than more costly acquired observations.

If offered a million dollars if they win a basketball game, and given 5 white males, 5 black males, 5 white females, and 5 black females, (and you are unable to watch them play beforehand) most people would pick the 5 black males. They could be labeled sexist or racist for doing so, but they would have a much better chance of getting the million dollars. Can you assume everyone doesn’t like white men or females? Even the Grand Master of the Ku Klux Klan would pick the 5 black males—it’s a million dollars!

Simply watching someone’s behavior will give you very little information about their preferences. A known bigot and the most open-minded person will make the exact same choice in the above example if their objective is to maximize the winnings from the basketball game.

If you are an employer and you are looking for a high school graduate with a high SAT score for a particularly challenging internship and it costs you $100 for every person you interview, would you send your recruiters to a Newark, New Jersey inner-city school or to a more affluent suburban school? Where would you have a higher probability of finding a successful candidate at the lowest cost? You may or may not dislike blacks, but it would probably not affect your decision.

There may not be a causal relationship between race and SAT scores, but there surely is an associative one. Likewise with the basketball players—there is no specific reason to not choose the white males, but out there in the real world there is certainly an associative one. Same goes with the tiger. We have no direct cause to run when we see one, but we have ample associative reasons to do so.

Physical characteristics can serve as proxies for other characteristics that are more costly to observe. (We could choose the white females for the basketball game but that would likely be more costly by not winning the game, even though we can say we gave them a “fair” chance. We’re not saying they could not win or even do better than the black males, it’s just with a million dollars on the line, it is not worth the risk.)

It is important to change the characteristics associated with a race or gender to eliminate this kind of “cheap” pre-judging. If we tame a majority of all tigers in the world and actively market and promote the knowledge that most of them are tame, then we may have fewer kitties with hurt feelings as people no longer so readily run away at the sight of one.

The use of the word “minority” is misleading when used in the context of race. The largest identifiable ethnic group in America are people with English ancestry, they are slightly more than 15% of the population. Next are those of German ancestry who are 14% of the population. Next are those of African ancestry who make up 13% of the population. Every other ethnic group is in the single-digit minorities.

Whites are not all alike. White people in their European homelands have been trying to slaughter each other for centuries. The longest period of peace in Europe has been only since the end of the Second World War. You can’t lump all white people into one bag.

How much of what we see in African-American relations can be attributed to discrimination?

African-American and GradesMuch of it is fraudulent education. The average black will score between 100 and 150 points below the average white on the SAT and still have the same high school diploma in hand. This is not made up in college. The GRE scores of blacks are slightly over 125 points lower than the national norm. 12 years of fraudulent education in primary and secondary schools cannot be corrected in 4 years of college. If diplomas or degrees cannot be trusted as proof of the same level of learning, one is forced to look at other criteria for making good choices.

The saddest aspect of this education fraud, in which employers are forced to compensate for by using the “cheaper” race discrimination, is that it need not be. In private schools 85% of blacks read at or up to three grade levels above their own grade level. The majority of these black children come from low or middle income families. It is not generally a question of capability, but culture.

Throwing money at the problem is not the solution: In Philadelphia, the cost for tuition to one private school with the above success rate is $1,200 whereas the per capita cost for a child in Philadelphia’s public schools is $5,000 with only the national average results. Blacks don’t need to capture a white kid to sit by. These private schools with successful black students, most notably the black muslim schools, are not into bussing and integration programs. In these schools you observe utter quite. The kids have pencils in their hands and their eyes on their teachers. This is all black kids need: Parents who make sure he does his homework, gets him to bed early on school nights, feeds him a breakfast in the morning, and makes sure he gets to school in a business-like fashion ready to learn. There is no mystery.

Black White HandshakeThere is a huge reserve of racial goodwill in America which we are needlessly wasting. Racial incidents and resentment have increased in traditionally black-accepting colleges where affirmative action has been in effect. People know that disregarding behavior is being dishonest. Many colleges either have or are considering such things as black economics courses simply because some dishonest person suggested it. What if someone suggested a course on Polish economics, or Japanese-American economics? They would be thrown out. We need to have courage.

Recognizing the truth is only half the battle, now we need to correct the negative discrimination by first “taming the tigers”—getting rid of the fraudulent education by strengthening the family culture and stop using blame as an excuse—and publicizing this fact after it has taken effect. Affirmative Action and like policies—when based on a lie or fraud—will only exacerbate the problem as all people (blacks included) naturally react to being lied to.

Discrimination is everywhere. We use it in selecting a wife or husband. We always have criteria for our decisions.
We don’t give all an equal chance based on our varied criteria.
We eliminate opportunity with every choice we make.
Discrimination is solely the act of choice.
Scarcity requires us to choose. Someone will always be injured by your choice.

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Red River book coverI just finished reading Red River by Lalita Tadamy. This book is a fictional account of her forebears from the last events of Reconstruction after the the Civil War down to the early adulthood of her father.

This book focuses mainly on the men of the family. I understand her previous book, Cane River, was mainly about the women.

The main theme I sensed throughout the narrative was the struggle of these men to claim their right to be simply accepted as full and equal men—”real” men with the exact same wants, talents, curiosity, freedom, striving, and quest for happiness of all men. But, they couldn’t escape the “mark” of their race. A touching element throughout was their desire to learn. From the struggle to be allowed to learn to read to the pursuit of higher knowledge they had to waste incalculable energy just to fight for the mere privilege to get ahead. One character prized his hard-earned “library” of mostly used books and wouldn’t let just anyone touch them. These books took on a symbolic role for him. They represented knowledge, and thus freedom and self-determination, but they also represented his defiance toward the role the whites wanted to impose upon him. It is sad to think of all the wasted potential these men possessed—wasted because they were expending most of there reserve energy struggling just to get the same opportunities taken for granted by the white men.

This book illustrated for me the depth and variety of personal inner struggles of each of these men—struggles I did not understand well, being a white man, but Tadamy described them through her character’s thoughts in a way that resonated and helped me comprehend, at least to a little better degree, the world facing black men in an overpoweringly white culture. Each of the men she created and developed responded to their society in different ways, but there was the common element of oppression throughout all their lives. These singular struggles taken as a whole were formed by, but also shaped the truly unique American society we live in today.

I wouldn’t say this novel has a plot in any conventional definition. It is written more or less in the style of a family history—stories you would hear at family reunions, but more as it would be told through the thoughts and minds of the storytellers. The book starts off strong with a lot of action and heightened emotional tension as the black men experience a tragic struggle to retain the rights they thought they had been awarded with emancipation. Tadamy bases her, at times quite dramatized, accounts on actual history, but it is a very fragmented history that for many years was hidden and much was thus forgotten. Later, the book slides into a more prolonged account of the multi-generational effects of the realizations acquired through the earlier pivotal struggle.

In some ways these black men and many of the African-Americans today would define themselves by their struggles. This, in my opinion, is somewhat tragic. I’m Mormon, and throughout the early years of Mormonism, and to a lesser extent today, we were almost overpoweringly defined by the persecution heaped upon us. Even today, I think, we spend an inordinate amount of time in our worship services emotionally honoring the sacrifices and struggles our forebears experienced to the expense of the whole point of our religion, that point being to become as Jesus Christ is. Not to denigrate the pain and efforts of those who came before—their perseverance through struggles is certainly an aspect of Christlike character—but, it seems to sometimes overpower the many other aspects of Christ’s teachings and example that are equally important. This, in a way, has happened in African-American society on the cultural rather than religious front. Rather than taking more pride in their unique and colorful heritage, they harp on the discrimination they’ve suffered, and sometimes still suffer, to the expense of original thought and their own personal and cultural development. Yes, their past struggles define them to some extent, but I hope they don’t allow themselves to become like the Shiite Muslims who still hold a lethal grudge for a single assassination nearly 1,500 years ago. It’s kind of like blaming the Jews of today for Christ’s death 2,000 years ago—at some point it simply becomes stupid.

I can’t imagine a thousand years from now the descendants of today’s African Americans still harping on the abuses their umptenth great grandfather suffered through slavery, but that risk is always there. We should not deny the reality of their struggles, but books like this, if not countered by equally emotional positive reinforcement of all the good and the progress we have made, could needlessly prolong the healing. It’s like Mormons continuing to hate Missourians for running us out of their state 150 years ago, ridiculous!

This book runs this risk because it poetically dramatizes some incredibly horrible things. It is all based on facts, but the details of those facts are missing. The author does a superb job of filling in those elements with highly emotional experiences, which could be taken as gospel-truth when it is still only poetic speculation. I wouldn’t change any of it necessarily, I would have just liked to have seen, since she is speculating anyway, more positive accounts of good things whites did to sort of counterweight the horrible.

Unfortunately, I kind of got an idea of where the author stands through a comment she made in the back matter of the book about the “victimization” of African Americans in the hurricane Katrina catastrophe. This is what stupefies us white folk. We feel we are bending over backwards to not be prejudice and then African Americans continue to make blaming remarks like these. Saying we “still have a long way to go,” and such. African Americans have every opportunity and then some that white folk have! Occasionally they may have to put in a little more effort, but don’t we all sometimes. For every black caught in the floodwaters of Katrina there are many, many more who have excelled to their potential, much like the author of this book. Simply because some have not chosen to take advantage of opportunity, they find it all too easy to blame “The Man.” No one is holding the blacks in New Orleans down! When the hurricane was coming, no one told them, “No, you can’t leave.” No one said, “You got to live (or continue to live) in the low land where the water might come.” They all have television, they all know what opportunities are out there—they’re not stupid! It’s sometimes just easier to blame, and their successful “brothers” all too often take their side, merely on racial grounds rather than character. Not to denigrate the Katrina victims and their trials. Many chose to stay for good reasons, whatever they might be, and we should help them like we would help anyone, black or white.

Now, all that said, there will always be some injustice in the world. As long as people are still human, there will be someone out there who hates me because I have green eyes. You will continue to find a few knuckle-dragging, emotionally damaged, prejudiced people out there, but they should in no way be allowed to even cast a shadow on the vast, vast majority of us who could care less about how much melanin someone has in their skin.

To conclude, this book is an excellent read and should be read by all who want to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of African American culture. Just need to remember to feel gratitude that, for the most part, we have all overcome—blacks and whites alike.
Below is basically what I’m getting at:

How much can discrimination explain? from FEE on Vimeo.

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