October 4, 2012
With the Supreme Court gearing up for oral arguments over affirmative action, I'm reminded for the umpty-umpth time that everybody loves to debate whether African-Americans deserve quotas. Personally, having been following these debates for 40 years, I know all the arguments on both sides and understand that both sides have their points.
What's fascinating / snooze-inducing is that almost nobody on either side of the quota issue is interested in arguing whether immigrant groups should continue to be eligible, even though they are rapidly becoming vastly more numerous than blacks and American Indians.
To quantify this, I took a look at the Census Bureau's 2008 projection of the makeup of the population in 2050. (In 2009, the Bureau followed up with multiple projections based on varying assumptions, but for simplicity's sake I'll just use the 2008 projections as the federal government's last attempt at a single best guess.)
Assume that whites and Asians are not eligible for preferences (and of course Asian businesspersons are eligible for a lot of obscure minority privileges, but let's ignore that for the moment.) Assume that all Hispanics remain a protected class, as well as all non-Hispanic blacks, American Indians, and Pacific Islanders, and half of non-Hispanic multi-racials (i.e., half will be white-Asians and thus ineligible, half something else and thus eligible).
I come up with just under 196,000,000 people in 2050 who will be eligible for race/ethnic preferences, with the great majority of the beneficiaries neither black nor American Indian.
Shouldn't we be having a discussion of how the country is going to function under those circumstances?