Affirmative Action is Not Just About Values

If you simply want to see certain levels of racial diversity in every workplace then that’s just a core value that you have.

But that was not my point. In fact I tried to make quite a different argument. My argument was that there are concrete economic benefits to this. If you hire one minority to serves as a model for others causing more minorities to aspire to succeed and get more advance jobs, then you have expanded the talent pool. That means society will economically benefit from having more talent to choose from.

My whole point was that I believe you look at the issue from a local optimization problem. You want the best person in one particular job. You think about each such decision as independent and separate. I look at it at a society level. How do you expand the talent pool for the whole economy.

I think it sounds kind of racist to hire people based on the color of their skin.

By that token every time you help somebody at a disadvantage it is unfair. I think people too readily throw around the accusation of racism. To me racism is the inherent belief that one race is inferior to another. If I give somebody belonging to a disadvantaged race an advantage, then I am not in any shape or form implying that somebody is racially superior.

If I give the job to a slightly less qualified black person, does that imply that I think white people are genetically inferior to black people? Of course not. So where is the racism? This easily becomes the Social Justice Warrior sense of racism where racism is just everywhere.

Honestly, I don’t think that every group is the same. I think there might be genetic differences.

My honest opinion is that I suspect some difference but I have no clear proof of it. However from everything I know of history and society, I know that whatever difference exists is completely dwarfed by what society does.

All through history the outcomes for women or people of any race has almost entirely been decided by culture and history. Thus I think it is premature to assume the differences we see today must be due to genetics. The safe and default position is IMHO to assume culture. When a person does not do that, I tend to suspect they have an agenda, because that is what history has taught me repeatedly. Those who assume there is something more than culture and history have 99% of the time, had some kind of supremacist agenda.

Asian people in the US are killing it at getting the best science, engineering, and medical jobs.

Again why should we assume this is genetics when we have an abundance of alternative explanations that can point to culture? I have talked extensively about this in past articles. Malcolm Gladwell has written entire books on this topic.

Black people have contributed a hell of a lot more to music, comedy, entertainment, sports, etc.

Again, how is this not due to culture? There are enormous variations within every ethnic group depending on their cultural background in what they do. Just look at Europe. We may be all white, but there are profound differences in the kinds of skills and preferences that dominate in each country.

I don’t feel comfortable trying to dictate culture to each group, I think that striving to erase group differences might even defeat the purpose of diversity.

Striving to raise of disadvantaged groups is not to erase differences. Unless you believe that living in the slum is a valuable cultural trait of black people that needs to be preserved at all cost. Yes, that was an exagguration, but it was to help make a point.

And if you take two groups of people, where one group is smarter than the other, on average, the smarter group is going to be more successful.

Yes, I was not trying to imply that intelligence does not matter. My whole point was to articulate that judging the skill of someone is a messy and imperfect process. It was to criticize this straw-man argument that somehow we are ever in the position where we are choosing between a white man and a minority or a women and we can somehow read off their exact statistics that says say the white man has skill 121.5, while the women has skill 118.3, and if we pick the women that is somehow grossly unfair because only the most qualified person should be picked.

It is simply never like that. My point is that as long as a minority or a women is within the ballpark of the skill of a favored majority person, then pick the minority. You are not going to be any more wrong than you usually are when hiring. I am not as crazy as to suggest one should hire completely incompetent people just because they are a minority or a women.

Whites Being at a Disadvantage is a Myth

We are being served up this myth that because we are trying to promote diversity, somehow all these super talented white people are discarded. But apart from academic institutions I highly doubt that.

What gives more ample proof than looking at Donald Trump and Barack Obama. If there was truth to the idea that talented white people are always pushed aside to benefit minorities of poor qualifications and intelligence then there is no explanation for Donald Trump.

Donald Trump screams rich privilege old white guy. Supposedly the people at a disadvantage in our modern diversity world. Yet Donald Trump rose to the top despite being significantly below average in talent, skill and qualifications.

And I am not just talking about being president. His whole life. Despite demonstrating no great business acumen, he was given a chance again and again, while running one business after to the ground. How many minorities or women get as many second chances as him? How many minorities or women get people leaping forward to provide excuses for him and defend him?

If the diversity narrative was true, then Barack Obama should have been a substandard president. You may disagree with his policies. I hated what he did with Edward Snowden or his increase in drone attacks. Yet there is no doubt in my mind that he was a highly intelligent and well informed president who took his job serious.

I think that fixing the environment is going to come from progress made by smart people

Yes, and imagine if we had never tried to raise up the disadvantaged. Imagine if women had been told that working in the kitchen was their natural lot in life. That means we would have been deprived of half the talent pool in the world. Would that have impeded progress?

Again, an exaggeration, but we have a variation of the same kinds of problem today only at smaller scale.

I’d hate to throw progress under the bus because you’re unhappy that the doctors and scientists have the wrong skin color.

I hate to throw progress under the bus, because you never put an effort into making people who had innate talents believe in themselves, because they had the wrong skin color.

From a distance, I’d guess that Norway is going to look like Minneapolis in 20 years: you’re going to get clusters of people who self segregate and maintain a separate group identity.

I cannot help but find that assumption rather racist. You assume that how a society develops is simply a mathematical calculation based on skin color composition. It is all just genetics. Culture, laws and tradition count for nothing.

Norway isn’t Minnesota. We have an entirely different political system and history. Why on earth should we become America just because we get a similar racial mix?

There is almost an underlying Fascist or Nazi way of thinking of society between the lines. You assume that creating a particular kind of society implies creating a particular genetic makeup. That improving society cannot be done through politics, education and inclusion but instead must be accomplished through some sort of racial hygiene program. Are you not in reality advocating some for of Eugenics?

You’ll get differences in test scores, crime rates, and other outcomes.

Difference in crime rates and statistics has existed in Norway ever since I was a child in the 80s. 1986 had the highest homicide rate in modern Norwegian history at 1.6 per 100 000. Now today it is down at 0.5. How on earth could that happen?

Norway hardly had any minorities back in the 80s. I could count the number of non-whites on my school on just one single hand. The whole school! Today I live in an immigrant majority area. Over 60% of the kids on the elementary school my children attend are visible minorities.

Yet there is less trouble on that school than the school of my childhood. In almost every aspect it is a better school.

Over 30% of the population of Oslo are minorities. But Oslo homicide rates are also at historical lows. I believe you have to go back to the 60s or something to find anything close.

So how is this possible when minorities are still scoring worse and are overrepresented on crime statistics? How can crime drop so far down while we keep importing people overrepresented on the statistics?

Because you can reduce crime for every group, even if you cannot necessarily reduce the relative difference between them.

Multicultural and diverse Norway is still a very new thing. It is still too early to judge whether whether narrowing the gap between people can be achieved or erased. But that is not necessarily a problem. I Britain normans are still better off than saxons. In Norway southern Norwegian still do better than northern Norwegians. But both northern and southern Norwegians are still both doing better every single year.

Problems of the past are gone. Nobody is putting ads in the newspapers anymore about apartments for rental where they explicitly state that northern Norwegians need not apply. Just because some difference exist, does not mean one has to be gloomy about the future.

I hope that you don’t get segregated ghettos with much higher crime rates, like the US does.

I don’t see why we should. America’s problems have IMHO very little to do with diversity and everything to do with racism and free wheeling capitalism. America is simply not setup to handle poverty and raise people up. That isn’t limited to just minorities. Poor white people are almost to equal degree stuck in poverty. Look at the Appalacians. It has long been poor and you cannot blame diversity or skin color on that. You cannot escape the fact that American style capitalism doesn’t do a good job at dealing with poverty.

Add American gun laws and you got a toxic stew, most European countries don’t face. Norway isn’t suddenly going to get American gun laws just because we get American style diversity. All research shows a strong correlation between abundance of guns and homicide. You can exclude the US from the statistics and you see the same general trend. European countries with more lax gun regulation also tend to have more gun violence.

And I hope you get to enjoy some positive benefits of a multicultural society, besides all that.

There are pros and cons. But I most definitely don’t want to go back Norway of the 1980s. Food e.g. was way more boring back then. I love e.g. eating authentic tacos made in Mexican style at my favorite restaurant Taco Republica, run by actual Mexicans. Before that Italian Restaurant Santinos run by Italians made absolutely awesome pasta. Sadly it went bankrupt.

And let us not forget that Norway in 2020 is a safer place than Norway in 1986.

And my professional life has been enriched by working with Brazilians, Americans, Brits, French, Germans, Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, Africans, Russians, Poles, men and women of different professional background. The most boring work has probably been working in lilly white Norwegian offices with guys all in similar age range and similar skills and education.

I could say the same about my university experience. The diverse universities I went to proved a far more enjoyable experience than the homogenous ones.

I don’t believe in diversity at any cost or that it doesn’t come with its own set of problems. Yet I refuse the assumption that somehow if we are around people are similar to ourselves as possible, we will somehow be more happy. I don’t subscribe to the thinking of people like Stefan Molyneux.

Written by

Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.

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