01 Nov 2006 Michigan Voters Quit Quotas, by Deneen Moore
Government often discriminates by basing hiring practices, the awarding of contracts and college admissions on racial criteria. Given an opportunity to put a stop to it, Michigan voters overwhelmingly passed the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) ballot referendum.
The MCRI, also known as Proposal 2, “amend[s] the state constitution to ban affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin for public employment, education or contracting purposes.” On Election Day, almost 58 percent of Michigan voters voted for it.
While racial preference policies are intended to rectify past racial injustices, Proposal 2 provides a timely opportunity to evaluate the long-term consequences of affirmative action on minorities and society as a whole.
Racial preferences always run the risk of placing unqualified candidates in positions beyond their abilities, thereby harming both the employee and employer. An individual hired or promoted based on their skin color, for example, might be frustrated if they cannot meet expectations, which could lead to a sense of failure, disillusionment, and low self-esteem. Employers, on the other hand, face economic consequences of addressing an unproductive employee as well as possibly dealing with the morale of other workers. Replacing an unproductive employee or hiring an additional worker to meet business needs can lead to added expenses such as training, background checks, relocation fees, and additional paperwork.
Preferential treatment can foster an entitlement mentality to the detriment of principles such as hard work, independence, and self-esteem. Individuals indoctrinated with a government-sanctioned entitlement mentality may acquire a false sense of security and little motivation to work and improve themselves. Knowing that opportunities are assured can lead to greater reliance on government and stifle independent thought.
Preferential treatment is also unjust because it creates more racism. It’s simply unfair for unqualified individuals to benefit from opportunities they have not earned. Such entitlements are detrimental to those who have worked hard to accomplish their goals, and can result in feelings of resentment and anger towards minorities.
To meaningfully address racism, awarding jobs, contracts and college admission should be based on objective evaluation and qualifications. When individuals are treated fairly based on capability and personal contributions, the rewards are a win-win for all parties involved.
Granting preferential treatment based on skin color, race, ethnicity, sex, or national origin is immoral. Individuals, who gain opportunities based on superficial and subjective standards instead of experience or objective accomplishments, may falsely interpret their gains as a personal achievement. Consequently, denying qualified individuals of opportunities because they are not of a certain skin color is discriminatory and creates a form of state-sanctioned reverse racism.
Clearly, government-enforced racial preferences are not the answer for minorities to achieve opportunities in modern society. The road to success lies in replacing preferential treatment with fundamental values – standards to guide actions and behavior.
A strong set of personal values will provide direction in life for any individual, regardless of race. Independent thinking is the key to making rational decisions, and self-esteem stems from doing a job well.
Hard work and self-reliance – not dependency on government-sanctioned affirmative action policies – are the only sure ways to break the cycle of despair and inspire hope. Increased awareness of pro-growth economic policies and limited government also helps liberate minorities from the false promises of Big Government and can be a motivating factor to strive for a successful and productive life.
Short-term gains from preferential treatment can have long-term negative consequences. In Michigan, this misguided notion now has a chance of being remedied to benefit everyone.
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Deneen Moore is a senior fellow and National Advisory Council member of the black leadership network Project 21. Comments may be sent to [email protected].
Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21 or the National Center for Public Policy Research.