The chronicle of what entered the history books under the name “affirmative action” began with the executive order number 10925, issued by President Kennedy in 1961. It called for affirmative action on the part of federal contractors, with the ultimate goal of allowing the victims of previous discriminatory conduct to occupy positions they would have occupied in the absence of this conduct. At a glance, everything was alright: the representatives of minorities got an opportunity to get jobs solely on the basis of their merits. Right? Not exactly.
Unforeseen Consequences of Affirmative Action
Like it often happens, what worked well on paper turned out to function not so smoothly in reality. While the stated purpose of affirmative action was to make employers color-blind, what it ensued was the fact that they ceased to be in full control of their companies and organizations. Whenever a representative of a minority is refused a job, he or she can file a complaint based on discrimination, even if in reality he is less qualified than a white applicant who finally got the job. A lot of employers began to hire non-whites when they had white contenders just to be on the safe side – some loss in productivity turns out, in the long run, to be less undesirable than court proceedings with unclear prospects.
Uncertainty and General Confusion
When analyzed logically, it is clearly seen that affirmative action not only fails to do its job, but also creates additional problems. For example:
- It hinders the employer in his search for skilled labor – when he chooses more experienced whites he can always be accused of giving them unfair preferences. As a result, employers have to worry about what their actions appear to be more than about doing what they are supposed to do – business.
- It creates the so-called reverse discrimination, when representatives of the majority find themselves being discriminated by the employers trying to play it safe. It is not uncommon for equally qualified blacks to be preferred over white applicants – as a result labor policy is anything but color-blind.
- Legal proceedings aimed at establishing the truth in such cases only add to general confusion, because it is extremely hard to find out what are the grounds on which employers really make their choice.
It is quite obvious that affirmative action in the form it exists now is just as unfair and subjective as the policies that were used before. Unfair to workers, to employers, to their clients.
What Lies in Future
It stands to reason that some changes are in order. Shouldn’t employers really be allowed to own what they own after all? If an owner doesn’t want to hire somebody, no matter on what grounds, isn’t it his business? Will somebody who is hired against the employer’s wishes really be all that welcome in that company? Won’t he be better off somewhere where the senior management shouldn’t be legally prosecuted to give him job? All in all, business thrives best when left alone.
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