July 5, 2009

Why the Ricci case is the exception instead of the rule

Here's an old column I wrote in for Taki's Magazine on May 20, 2009, that I forgot to post a link to because I was traveling:

Following up on Jared Taylor’s article, the Ricci reverse discrimination lawsuit now before the Supreme Court is not one of those “hard cases” about which law students are warned. There is nothing anomalous about the discrimination against the New Haven firemen ...

Instead, what’s unusual is that we’re even hearing about the victimization of these unprotected majorities.

I suspect that’s largely because Frank Ricci and his friends are firemen. Firefighters show up more than any other profession in prominent reverse discrimination suits, perhaps because they enjoy civil service protection, unions, and, most of all, public admiration.

In a culture that increasingly holds blue-collar workers in contempt, firemen are the exception to the rule. They risk their lives for you, and they don’t give you speeding tickets. As the cops in Joseph Wambaugh’s LAPD novels are always telling each other: If you really wanted people to like you, you should have been a fireman.

It’s worth exploring some of the more subtle game theory reasons why there is so little public outcry against discrimination against white males other than firefighters. Why is Ricci close to being the exception that proves the rule?

First, affirmative action targets marginal white males.

For example, although white guys who are already firemen have a fighting chance of staving off unfair treatment in promotions, white guys who just want to become firemen are discriminated against in hiring with impunity. ...

Cheating an already employed white fireman out of a promotion is dicey because he doesn’t go away. He’s still a fireman. So he hangs around, he complains, he organizes other white firemen to complain to their aldermen about why the politicians aren’t releasing the results, maybe he talks his sister-in-law’s cousin who is a file clerk in Personnel into Xeroxing the secret results of the test and leaking it to him. And then he hires a lawyer.

In contrast, cheating some random white guy off the street out of his lifelong dream of becoming a fireman is a piece of cake: “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” What can this marginal man do about his suspicions? Not much. He’s not connected.

Moreover, announcing that you are a victim of racial preferences is normally to admit you are marginal, that you would have only barely made the cut anyway. How uncool is that? [Notice that the New Haven plaintiffs were all the top scorers, because the entire test got ham-handedly thrown out. If the New Haven politicians had been subtler, more expert in their racial discriminating, they would have victimized just the marginal white scorers.]

Similarly, affirmative action, by definition, doesn’t impact those who made the cut. Consider Harvard students. While some freshmen may enter Harvard sore that affirmative action might have cost high school friends admission to Harvard, soon they have lots of swell new friends, who, unsurprisingly, are all Harvard students, unlike those losers they used to hang around with in high school who didn’t have what it takes to get into Harvard.

Hence, you don’t see a lot of solidarity in opposing affirmative action.


Read the whole thing there and comment upon it here.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Steve,
Please o please comment on Walter Kirn's NY Times magazine piece this week on Sotomayor and testing - it is such a delightful example of that genre of regurgitated fish-in-a-barrel conventional wisdom that you always have a field day with.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/05/magazine/05fob-wwln-t.html?ref=magazine

Ivy League Bastard said...

It's not true that majority whites (those of European Christian extraction whose parents were raised in the USA) face only internal competion for elite positions. Elite whites of that background compete with Asians, Jews, and skilled immigrants. That competition visibly reduces the availability of positions for whites, and they do seem to be nervous about it. Whites have started to flee the University of California system (reduced matriculation rates for admitted candidates) due to the huge influx of Asians post-209.

Anonymous said...

It's not true that majority whites (those of European Christian extraction whose parents were raised in the USA) face only internal competion for elite positions. Elite whites of that background compete with Asians, Jews, and skilled immigrants. That competition visibly reduces the availability of positions for whites, and they do seem to be nervous about it. Whites have started to flee the University of California system (reduced matriculation rates for admitted candidates) due to the huge influx of Asians post-209.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

What we come to expect, we come to feel we deserve, as CS Lewis pointed out in Screwtape. The other edge of that sword is the constant fear of being found out as a fraud. Most of us resolve this contradiction, this cognitive dissonance, by choosing professions which we have some skill at. We can recover from a string of bad luck, not get too big in the head from a string of good luck, and have a happy life.

Those who are given what they do not deserve never resolve this contradiction. They cannot be grateful, and are prone to bullying.

Jun said...

"...and comment upon it here."

That's awkward. Mr. Taki needs to reinstate comments at his site.

Ryan said...

If you missed it (they buried it in the back of the A-section on Friday), check out the NY Times article on Lt. Ben Vargas, the Hispanic Ricci plaintiff. It sheds a little more light on the case, for example, by reporting that many of the black and Hispanic firefighters currently on the force never had to take an entry test to get on it -- the city waved the entry test, against the union's wishes.

testing99 said...

That's going to change Steve.

Obama is extending Government and therefore Affirmative Action EVERYWHERE.

Into corporate hiring, firing, promotions, and work assignments, through both TARP and additional legislation and executive action. Pretty remarkable. An extension of his Chicago shakedown politics nationally, which means national losers who WILL fight.

Then there's national health care, aka rationing for the politically connected. Older, White Guys (and women) get discriminated against in favor of young, Black and Latino kids. It's a matter of life and death, so expect THAT to be a huge fight.

Then there's the overt creeping nationalization of industry after industry, Chrylser, GM, the banking industry, and more. If you work for any of those, as a White guy you have to be tossed out, and replaced with a hip cool Black, Hispanic, or gay guy. That's a massive fight there.

Obama's spoils politics taken national, guarantees these fights just get more intense, and fracture the legal system. It boils down to who intimidates the other side the most, with a depression era economy that will probably not get better for decades, making the fights into bitter survival fights.

I expect the "full Palin" treatment right back at folks on the Obama AA side: boycotts, publicizing ugly personal failings, including that of fammiy and friends, going after cronies, friends, supporters with lawsuits, boycotts, publicizing personal failings, etc. or in other words the Alinsky playbook Obama used. Probably also extending to destruction of the Media/Entertainment infrastructure. I.E. trying to bankrupt the NYT by going after advertisers and suing people like Keller and Sulzberger.

This won't happen overnight. But America did not land in the Civil War like turning on a light switch. Escalation and counter-escalation was guaranteed because the issue of pure power could not be compromised upon.

Anonymous said...

I'm in a very creative, high-IQ industry, and I have no time for affirmative incompetents.

As soon as I diagnose the problem, I immediately start a file and they are eventually let go.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the current percentage of the undergrad enrollment whites from a Protestant background are at Harvard these days. Not very high, I imagine. Talk about being dispossessed in the country you founded.

Fred said...

Anon,

Do you have a link to this Walter Kirn piece?

jody said...

wtf? affirmative action does not only affect marginal white males. what planet is steve living on? affirmative action is completely normal now in the united states when it comes to selecting people to do some of the most important, high paying, high responsibility jobs.

how many white gentile men would be better supreme court justices than sonia sotomayor? literally, LITERALLY dozens.

who is the president of harvard, one of the most important universities in the world? not somebody who was selected on merit, that's for sure. it's some affirmative action feminist.

the NFL, which is the largest sports enterprise in the world, now rigorously enforces hiring of less qualified people over more qualified people strictly because they are african.

my goodness gracious. colin powell has enjoyed an entire career based on pure affirmative action and that guy was the secretary of state!

affirmative action as a permanent feature of american society has become a very serious problem. it's hard enough to get capable people into the right jobs - it's basically impossible under a strict quota system.

RKU said...

wtf? affirmative action does not only affect marginal white males. what planet is steve living on? affirmative action is completely normal now in the united states when it comes to selecting people to do some of the most important, high paying, high responsibility jobs...affirmative action as a permanent feature of american society has become a very serious problem. it's hard enough to get capable people into the right jobs - it's basically impossible under a strict quota system.

Yes, I'd very strongly agree with this.

I think of AA mostly as a sort of long-term delibitating illness, which quietly saps the efficiency and productivity of our society, without most people usually noticing.

Obviously, there are extreme exceptions---examples of massive incompetence or huge disasters---but the slow, gradual effect does its destructive work while flying under the radar.

Anonymous said...

It's time for equality.

End affirmative action now.

Bob said...

Another reason is that in municipal jobs in cities that are 50%+ NAM there is a huge political pressure for AA on a vast scale.

By contrast in the private sector a token 5% of NAMs is really all you need, and this doesn't have that big an impact on career advancement unless you happen to be the rare white guy with his heart set on being director of human resources.

Bob said...

"Elite whites of that background compete with Asians, Jews, and skilled immigrants. That competition visibly reduces the availability of positions for whites, and they do seem to be nervous about it."

I'm white and from a protestant family and I have no worries because I am not in a zero-sum industry. Other smart people might sometimes be in direct competition with me for an opportunity, but overall the presence of these groups makes the USA a wealthier place.

It's their tax dollars, after all, that pay for all my bum relatives cheating the disability system. You don't see this too often in Jewish or Chinese families. Their property taxes as well pay for public schools even though they tend to have very few kids and then send them to private schools if they have to.

Mr Apostrophe said...

Kirn link

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/sonia_sotomayor/index.html?scp=1&sq=walter%20kirn%20ricci&st=cse

Jack said...

"Obama's spoils politics taken national, guarantees these fights just get more intense, and fracture the legal system. It boils down to who intimidates the other side the most, with a depression era economy that will probably not get better for decades, making the fights into bitter survival fights."

I really, really hope this happens, because I'd rather see shit hit the fan now than when I'm 60 years old. We know we're going down, so it might as well be soon. But unfortunately, Obama is not dumb, and he will not do anything to alienate all white men (a decent amount of whom voted for him) and many white women.

Anonymous said...

You should come to Malaysia and study affirmative action here. We have made it a fine art. In a case like Ricci we would have fixed the exam results before releasing them.

Anonymous said...

Bob said:

"It's their tax dollars, after all, that pay for all my bum relatives cheating the disability system. You don't see this too often in Jewish or Chinese families."

Are you insane? Seriously, did you get that from TV?

"By contrast in the private sector a token 5% of NAMs is really all you need..."

For how long? How much are you willing to bet that that percentage isn't going to be revised upwards during the lifetime of this administration? I don't know what you imagine when you look into the future, but I see that number steadily rising and the quotas becoming more rigid. Perhaps they'll eventually be written into law like they are in Malaysia.

And, of course, the private sector is shrinking while the public sector is growing.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

Some white nationalist apparently grovelled through the NLSY data (the study Murray/Herrnstein based The Bell Curve on) and came out rejecting the "no problem at the top" theory. Have a look at those "Top 2 % IQ Group" graphs.

Link

Carolyn said...

Steve is right. Whites with the IQ horsepower and work ethic relish all competition. It makes victory that much sweeter.

@ Ivy League Bastard re: whites fleeing the UC system: As white east coast transplants to SoCal, I'm not really thrilled about the UC system. For one thing, "impaction" (over crowded classes prevent you from graduating in 4 years) is a huge problem. Why send my kids to an overcrowded, heavily asian school when I can send them to equally good or better, less asian public school like Michigan, G-Tech, V-Tech, Illinois or Purdue (I name good engineering colleges because that is what I am familiar with.)

My husband and I chose not to live in Irvine because it was >40% asian. Not really worried about "competition" for our kids in school but wanted to live among our own kind. Asians are very clannish. Even mixed white/asian couples tend to hang out with other mixed couples/families.

As engineers we've competed against asians in college and the workplace. We're in the top 2% IQ range, we're not really worried about being able to compete with asians.

Not attending the UC system comes down to a matter of preference. I'm sure most white people feel that way. The whites that are left in CA are fairly elite, the economy has gotten rid of much of the blue collar and middle class whites.

Ivy League Bastard said...

As to whether elite whites relish competition or not:

Hard science and engineering have long been abandoned to Asians, Jews, and immigrants. That's especially visible at the graduate level, and the entirety of US undergraduate college admission has been re-engineered to accomodate elite whites. Stressing noncognitive credentials (sports, "leadership", recommendation letters, family connections) and downplaying objective criteria (test scores) makes it harder to directly compare applicants from different groups. This helps to preserve affirmative action for minorities but it is also essential in arranging de facto affirmative action for whites.

Anonymous said...

"It's their tax dollars, after all, that pay for all my bum relatives cheating the disability system. You don't see this too often in Jewish or Chinese families.

You don't think so? Check out this Matloff article. Granted it's a bit dated but I doubt that things are much different now.

http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/pub/Immigration/WelfareUse/NewDemo.html

Anonymous said...

affirmative action does not only affect marginal white males. what planet is steve living on? affirmative action is completely normal now in the united states when it comes to selecting people to do some of the most important, high paying, high responsibility jobs.




Yes. For instance.

=============================

During the first five months of this year, with the Senate under the control of its first African-American majority leader, Smith, top Democrats bemoaned the lack of minority Senate staffers.

But instead of trying to recruit new hires, they fired nearly 200 almost exclusively white workers and replaced them with a large number of minority employees, many of whom were seen by their fellow workers to be unskilled at their new jobs.

The move produced severe racial tensions, made worse by the fact that, as a high-level Democratic staffer confided, "We've been told to only hire minorities."

=============================

Dutch Boy said...

Ahem! Most white people are native-born Americans. Importing massive numbers of foreigners to compete with them for school placements and jobs in a declining economy is both nuts and a fundamentally hostile act. The fact that it is happening is the most salient evidence of the hostility our our overlords.

stari_momak said...

ILB must be living on another planet.

Those 'elite' institutions, and heck, even the UC, was created by whites, indeed by Protestant whites. They should be able to pass on their institution to their descendants. BTW, I am white but not protestant, and we white Catholics instead of kvetching about the 'unfairness' of white protestants, you know, controlling what they built, we set up or our institutions. George Town, Notre Dame, Seton Hall, St. Johns, etc etc. and even second tier but completely adequate schools like University of San Diego and University of San Francisco.

And a correction. There wasn't a 'huge' increase in Asian students at UC due to 209. There may have been a small increase, but the UC has been trending Asian for a long time simply because the Asian population of the state has been increasing -- indeed in percentage terms vaster than the Hispanic population I believe. Heck I can remember back in the late 1980s UCLA being called University of Caucasians lost among Asians. (USC was University of Surrounded Caucasians -- but that was a 'town and gown' joke). I suspect that the Asian representation at UC has remained about triple their percentage of the 18 year olds in the state population.

As for science being abandoned to Asians, Jews and Immigrants, that is just plain dumb. More like there has been tremendous pressure on native-born gentiles to get out of the field -- starting with the importation of teach graduation labor. Still, a people that have produced a Watson, a Claude Shannon, a Donald Knuth, a Robert Millikan can do okay without Asians or Jews. Indeed looking at the historical record, we seem to have had more success before the late 1800s mass immigration and certainly before the 1965 immigration wave.

meep said...

Ivy League Bastard: with regards to academia, I think you'll find far more immigrants sticking around for grad school, as that's one of the sure-fire ways to get a foot in the door in the U.S.

For many fields, it makes more sense to go out in the workforce, rather than stick around in a career that's not particularly well-paid, that's trending to more part-time jobs, and that involves teaching standard college frosh. If one has the ability to do PhD work in engineering/math/physics, you sure can do better in terms of salary in the non-academic sector.

Academia in math/science/engineering is not particularly the plum you may think, and is an attractive trap for intelligent people, no matter the ethnicity.

[I dropped out of grad school in math, so perhaps it's sour grapes.... except I was paid 4x my grad student salary in my first non-teaching job...and that salary doubled within five years. So yeah, I think grad school can be for suckers.]

David said...

You don't see a whole lot of solidarity among Whites in general. Almost no one hates White people as much as other White people do.

David said...

Bob said

"I am not in a zero-sum industry. Other smart people might sometimes be in direct competition with me for an opportunity, but overall the presence of these groups makes the USA a wealthier place."

Break out the BS spray.

What about dumb people in (political) competition with you - with the govt. and culture on their side?

What industry is that, by the way? An infinite number of jobs and customers, must be nice.

Svigor said...

As engineers we've competed against asians in college and the workplace. We're in the top 2% IQ range, we're not really worried about being able to compete with asians.

I'm in the top 1%, and I'm worried. But I think we're going to disagree about the type of "competition" that's salient here...

Ivy League Bastard said...

The question wasn't whether whites in general could, in principle, compete with Asians or dominate engineering again in the future, but whether ELITE whites face significant competition and its threat of status erosion. (Steve Sailer wrote: "the notion of white solidarity or white pride runs into the fundamental problem that whites mostly compete with each other for the best jobs.")

Most elite white jobs are based on connections (advantage: whites) and education (advantage: Asians, Jews, skilled immigrants). The second factor is increasingly important and few of the plum jobs these days are governed by such pure favoritism as to neutralize the threat from the higher-skilled rival groups. Over time the rival groups grow their own connections, and secondary group-exclusive networks thereof.

I don't think elite whites today have anything close to the confidence in (elite) job security and availabiity, that they had two or more generations ago.

Anonymous said...

I'm an electrical engineer by degree and I work as a generator set mechanic. I'm a "marginal" engineer because I earned my degree at 42 and because I actually wanted a design job instead of a glorified sales or glorified technician job, which were offered to me out of school. I run into EE and CS grads every day not engineering.

EE and CS are complete disasters for American kids that are not superstars. H-1B has made it possible for American engineers to compete only in jobs that require people skills or hands on troubleshooting AND people skills, which is sales engineering and service engineering. Or if you are in the top third at Caltech or MIT. Americans CAN'T compete with the tax advantages, and can't feasibly live in submarine bunk conditions in Silicon Valley (six up in a studio apartment).

Indentured servitude is tough to compete with. Not only do the recruiters want indenture, there are often desis themselves and they hire co-ethnics exclusively wherever possible.

Truth said...

"Still, a people that have produced a Watson, a Claude Shannon, a Donald Knuth, a Robert Millikan can do okay without Asians or Jews...."

HAVE produced, I assume that was an intentional use of the past tense. "We" HAVE produced Duke Elington, but now we produce 50 Cent.