Potential of Color

[I posted a crappy edit of this earlier. I’ve cleaned it up and re-posted it. Sorry]

Steve Sailer’s Taki column this week is about Raj Chetty’s latest analysis of the vast database of anonymized tax data at his disposal. Chetty’s takes the angle, as if to appeal, that America is shortchanging not only the underrepresented but itself by by leaving all that Potential of Color out there undeveloped. Sailer:

Should white men be blamed or thanked for inventing most of the technology that makes our lives better? A new study by Stanford economist Raj Chetty exploiting his unique access to your old 1040 tax returns argues that the massive gaps in inventiveness (as measured by patents) seen among the races, the sexes, and the regions of the country represent a tragic case of what he calls “Lost Einsteins: The Innovations We’re Missing”:   

Whites are more than three times as likely to become inventors as blacks. And 82% of 40-year-old inventors today are men. 

Chetty says, based on his study of 452 patent holders who were New York City public school students and for whom he has third-grade test scores: 

High-scoring black kids and Hispanic kids go into innovation at incredibly low rates…. There must be many “lost Einsteins” in those groups—children who appear to have been similarly able at a young age to their white and Asian peers but who never got a chance to deploy their skills. [“a mind is a terrible thing to waste”]

 Chetty writes: A lack of exposure to innovation can help explain why high-ability children in low-income families, minorities, and women are significantly less likely to become inventors. Importantly, such lack of exposure screens out not just marginal inventors but the “Einsteins” who produce innovations that have the greatest impacts on society.

Chetty is a real scientist but still evinces the obliviousness of a new class spawned by America’s new diversity: the high-IQ, no-clue Southeast Asian newly arrived in the West, or marinated in its self-abasement in its schools, taking up political correctness and lecturing us with a the sort of confidence that comes from complete ignorance.

By the way, it’s unclear why Chetty’s study of inventors is entitled “Lost Einsteins” rather than “Lost Edisons.” 

Chetty, who sometimes seems not all that familiar with his adoptive country, appears to have gotten the European scientific theorist Albert Einstein (who, although he once worked in a patent office, was not much of an inventor) confused with the American inventor Thomas Alva Edison (whose name is on 1,093 U.S. patents). 

Einstein, Edison…they both begin with “E.” Chetty lectures: 

In particular, targeting exposure programs to women, minorities, and children from low-income families who excel in math and science at early ages (e.g., as measured by performance on standardized tests) is likely to maximize their impacts on innovation. The Indian immigrant doesn’t seem all that aware that encouraging blacks (and, to a slightly lesser extent, Hispanics) as well as girls to study science and engineering has been an enormous social priority for the past half century.

Operating from the assumptions of disparate impact–that any disparity (favoring the majority) in achievement is a measure of discrimination, because there can be no disparities in God-given abilities between groups–Chetty purports to reveal a vast reserve of black and brown talent going underutilized, impoverishing the nation. He appeals not to our morality but to our practicality: equality is a material resource of a sort. But like Steve points out, finding and promoting that talent out of political and social concern has been one of the central projects of the United States for longer than Mr Chetty has been alive.

But there’s an even bigger problem–somehow–for Chetty’s assertion. Discrimination of the sort he imagines could not be maintained in our economy–eventually someone is going to go out there and hire all those talented blacks and browns for less and out-compete their self-hobbling discriminatory competitors. The notion is a non-starter.

The fact is employers are discriminating against blacks, for one group, when they facilitate unskilled immigration, looking for pliable and cheap workers from south of the border so they don’t have to deal with, prominently among American groups, blacks.

“Underutilization” as a rhetorical argument was innovated in the early sixties in promoting the EEOC. Following the logic of disparate impact (not yet a term) the undeniable effect of racial discrimination in a population where talent is evenly distributed is a massive mis-allocation of resources.

Already it was argued explicitly that disparities measure discrimination.  We still labor under that misconception, contrived out of political necessity after discrimination law revealed itself unlikely to produce equality of results:

In the newly evolving view of institutional racism, individual intent was at best a secondary consideration. Instead, employment discrimination should be defined and attacked as a differential [disparate impact], rather than…as an act of prejudice. It’s measure was simply the gap between the white and minority rates. This presumptive new definition in turn rested on an implicit normative theory of proportional representation absent that institutional racism had built into the workplace,  absent the discrimination that institutional racism had built into the employment structure…It’s chief political strength lay in its practical utility as an implicit and self-justifying formula for equity. This was captured in the workaday concept known as “underutilization,” a term…accepted as early as 1961. [bold added]

The concept was introduced out of impatience. Anti-discrimination law was not yielding results in achieving proportional representation–which was the whole point, despite the focus on discrimination as an objective wrong.

By the early 1960s…liberal reformers were beginning to question the FEP [Fair Employment Practice] model…Rutgers law professor Alfred W. Blumrosen studied…New Jersey’s Civil Rights Commision…a “plaintiff’s lawyer” who would spend a sabbatical year in 1965-66 helping the new EEOC organize its enforcement procedures…he brought to his study a “tough minded” model of “maximum enforcement,”…a mental image, a model of how the state agency should operate in order to have maximum impact…Blumrosen concluded…the…commission’s enforcement patterns “typified administrative caution…[i]t was a failure.”.

When an honest academic studied Massachusetts’ enforcement of anti-discrimination law the results could not have been encouraging

Blumrosen’s aggressive advocacy in a law review article still did not constitute an objective and comprehensive state study. But Leon Mayhew’s Harvard dissertation in sociology did…his dissertation analyzed…the FEP commission in Massachusetts…it concentrated on the years since 1959…it focused more on the complexities of institutional processes than the efficacy of results…

Not that it would have mattered to Blumrosen, but the liberal go-getters of the civil rights movement were getting their first real introduction to black America. I won’t say they were just getting to know black America, because they still haven’t started that.

Mayhew…was sympathetic to the purpose of the FEP commisions…but unlike Hill [another pit-bull activist government lawyer], Mayhew was bound by the canons of scholarship enforced by a dissertation committee…he closely followed the processing of 118 complaint cases. The pattern he found was surprising. The evidence showed that “complaints developed by individuals whose structural position provides limited perspective are objectively poor…they tend to be based on mere suspicion, they are quite likely to eventuate in a finding of ‘no probable cause,’ and they tend to be made against firms that do not discriminate”

By 1966 the still-green EEOC had adopted disparate impact as the ultimate criterion, under pressure from feminists as well as the civil rights movement.

 …the EEOC had inadvertently accelerated the social and political momentum of the civil rights movement toward a result-centered strategy that would equate race and sex in EEO enforcement. The new strategy would seek to determine the extent of both race and gender discrimination, and potentially the extent of any other categories of alleged discrimination, not by attempting to ascertain intent on a case-by-case basis, but rather by broadly applying a proportional model of statistical representation in the workforce.

…an opposing theory was pushed by the Nixon administration…based on an implicit theory of group rather than individual rights. Its core model was one of proportional representation of racial and ethnic groups, and it emphasized substantive rather than procedural equality. By the end of the Johnson administration the proportional or equal-results model was coming to dominate the enforcement strategies of the EEOC…the Nixon administration in its first year revived the moribund Philadelphia Plan…When…Congress reacted in dismay that autumn by trying to strip away the Plan’s provision for job quotas, the Nixon administration hurled the full force of its lobbying muscle against them. 

By the Carter administration affirmative action was in effect as a “temporary” expedient in public pronouncements that was quickly (and more or less deliberately) morphing into an institution.

 That same year [1977] Justice Blackmun in Weber agreed that quotas wer
“a temporary tool for remedying past discrimination without attempting to ‘maintain’ a previously achieved balance.” Yet despite these disclaimers from the highest authorities, everything we know about the normal politics of social regulation points in the opposite direction. In pluralist America, interest groups have historically entrenched themselves in the political infrastructure in defense of their claimed rights and entitlements.

Indeed. Groups like, say, Southeast Asians, entitled to entrench themselves in the political infrastructure, claiming their right to explain America to us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: