Tuesday, February 25, 2003


Yes, it's true, there is a columnist worse than The Washington Post's Richard Cohen, who actually manages to write one or two columns a year that make sense. Bob Herbert of The New York Times, on the other hand, is consistently, 100% wrong. (I leave open the possibility that there may be a Herbert column that makes sense, but I just haven't seen one yet.)

I am thankful to Friedrich of 2Blowhards.com for calling attention to the idiocy of Herbert's argument for affirmative action:

Bob Herbert in the New York Times of February 24 spells out the logic behind affirmative action in an Op-Ed piece by. In it he makes the following rather oddly paired assertions:

A glance at the current challenges to affirmative action in higher education would show little more than the fact that a number of white applicants have asserted in court that they were illegally denied admission to college or law school because of preferences given to racial or ethnic minorities.

...The United States is a better place after a half-century of racial progress and improved educational opportunities for racial and ethnic minorities and women. We have all benefited and, and voluntary efforts to continue that progress, including the policies at Michigan, are in the interest of us all. [emphasis added].

Friedrich offers an excellent dissection of Herbert's claim of universal benefit for affirmative action. I think the argument of universal benefit, whatever the issue, is one of the most transparent frauds in political rhetoric. Whenever it is argued that some proposal or program benefits everyone, you may be sure that some special interest will reap the direct and immediate benefits.

Suppose the county roads commission proposes to spend a few million to widen Route 5. "Everyone will benefit," they say -- and perhaps rightly so, in the most general sense. Improved transportation spurs economic growth and makes travel easier for everyone in the county. But the highway contractors will be the immediate beneficiaries, pocketing whatever amount of the taxpayers' largesse is voted by the commissioners for the Route 5 project. The secondary beneficiaries will be the property owners and real-estate developers along the Route 5 corridor who stand to gain from expanded commercial opportunities created by improved highway access. So while these interests reap benefits that are immediate and tangible, those taxpayers who live on the other side of the county -- who aren't paving contractors, who seldom travel Route 5, and who own no property there -- receive a benefit that is remote and abstract.

This is not to say that we shouldn't widen Route 5 -- or that we should not have affirmative action, more to the point. Rather, it is to say that we ought not kid ourselves about who is benefitting from government action. The "diversity" rationale is invoked to claim that the university is doing a favor to white and Asian students by imposing a quasi-quota system that ensures that they will be exposed to more black and Hispanic students. The absurdity of that claim ... well, I could go on forever. In fact, affirmative action is a sort of programmatic welfare giveaway, based on the university's perception of blacks and Hispanics as academic charity cases who can't be expected to meet common standards of academic achievement. Blacks and Hispanics are the direct and immediate beneficiaries -- they receive admission based purely on their ethnicity -- while whites and Asians are sold the "diversity" myth as a way to secure their cooperation in their own dispossession. And this dispossession is perpetrated by an institution supported by the tax dollars and votes of the dispossessed. It's suicidal, and sane people would never have stood for it.

People ought to be honest about what's going on -- that's all I'm saying.

Monday, February 24, 2003


Attorney General John Ashcroft announces the feds have busted 55 people for making or selling drug paraphernalia. Great. We are menaced by international terrorism, but that won't stop the feds from spending our tax dollars to hassle the makers of roach clips and bongs.

What next? Will Ashcroft go after strobe lights? Pink Floyd albums? Patchouli incense?

Don't get me wrong. I am not some anti-Ashcroft, pro-dope libertarian. It's a question of priorities. Once we've rounded up all the radical jihadis, shipped them to Gitmo, and sealed the borders to make sure they never get back in, THEN maybe we can worry about allocating federal law enforcement resources to bust headshop owners and hookah dealers.