i'm just going to jump right in and sound off with my opinions about the affirmative action lawsuit with the university of michigan that has recently gained nationwide attention. if anyone thinks it's relevant, i am a 23 year old lower-middle class white guy, although i don't think it would matter much to me if that were different. i try to view everything in the most objective way i can.
affirmative action is inherently wrong, and i've been bashed before for saying that, but it is true. i think a basic problem is that too many people equate affirmative action with equal rights, and that is clearly not the case. if pure equal rights existed in our society, then no one would have any kind of artificial advantage over anyone else, whether it be based on race or financial status, etc. affirmative action does not promote equal rights. it provides an adnvantage to those who are viewed as being at a societal disadvantage (i.e. being poor or a minority). of course if anyone is given any kind of subjective preference like this, someone else is inevitably being put at a disadvantage.
the point-based system that the university of michigan uses in its admissions process is a transparent way of fulfilling quotas at the school, and they do this for obvious but unfortunate reasons. if the school was comrised 100% of white students, it would draw national attention and their admissions process would immediately be brought under fire. so of course the school wants to promote diversity, it keeps them out of trouble. by admitting a fair amount of people of different racial and financial backgrounds, they are guaranteeing that they will remain adequately diverse to avoid any negative attention. but affirmative action is the wrong way to go about creating diversity.
in fact, in a nation such as america, diversity is a natural occurrence. in the purest sense, everyone is free to pursue their goals, and everyone is equally able to work hard, study well, and make a better life for themselves. if, as i propose, schools were to disregard any subjective factors such as race, social status, geographical location, and relation to alumni, diversity would naturally occur. and if it did not, and this is an important point, it would not be a fault of the admissions system.
if i may digress for a moment, a related argument can be made for the welfare program in this country, which i think you will see is relevant to the previous discussion.
the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, no? that's what they always say. well, let's examine the welfare program, which is intended to change that, to help the poor get back on their feet and eventually move up into the higher ranks of society.
with welfare in place, we are rewarding people for being poor. we are in essence giving preference to the poor by giving them money they've done nothing to earn or to repay. under this system, people are paid when they don't work, and paid more for every child they have. consider a couple in poverty who choose not to work for a living because they can make more money sitting at home. they have three or four children, and are provided with even more money to support their "underpriviledged" kids. in twenty years, their children grow up, they stop receiving the child support welfare money, and are now poorer than before. not only that, but now there are four more adults who were raised in poverty and who are now also poor. they could strive to make a better life for themselves, or they could follow the example set by their parents and remain in poverty as well.
granted, there are many social factors involved here, and many people who surely do not follow the example i just described. but the reality is that an overwhelming majority do follow that pattern, and the problem is not being addressed. like the argument between giving a homeless person a handout or a hand-up, these people are not benefitting from the welfare program. free money sounds nice on the surface, but it does nothing to really help them in the long run, and teaches them nothing about the value of helping themselves.
i am not totally against welfare, of course, and in the short term i think it can be very beneficial, as long as it is not used as a crutch or a sole means of living.
now back to affirmative action. admitting people into school partly because they are a minority or poor, etc, does nothing to help them in the long run and teaches them nothing about the value of working hard for what they want to achieve. at the same time, it discriminates against a more qualified person who was, unfortunately, born white and middle to upper class.
the fact is that no subjective information should be included in college applications. no names, races, religions, etc. everything could easily be completed using only a social security number, and race or social status would never once be an issue. then only the most qualified students would be admitted. if by chance they all happened to be white, then something would need to be done to promote educational opportunities in lower class minority areas, but it would not be the fault of the system.
that is the important point. obviously in reality things don't always work out the way they theoretically should, and in america, minorities in poor school districts may be at a disadvantage when it comes to educational resources. but it is ridiculous to "fix" the admissions process by letting them into colleges anyway.
affirmative action is a nice idea, trying to promote equal rights, but it simply addresses all the wrong problems. if all that misdirected effort were focused on the real problems, then affirmative action would not be necessary at all.
endnote: i apologize for the long and rambling entry, but i've had a lot on my mind the past few days, and needed to get it all out. i look forward to hearing your opinions on these matters, and to having many more interesting and enlightening discussions with you all. thanks. :)