Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Inequality Taboo

Derb linked to this eloquent article on Commentary. A lot of fascinating stuff. If your tolerance for statistics is much less than mine, you may wish to skip to the bottom line.
In university education and in the world of work, overall openness of opportunity has been transformed for the better over the last half-century. But the policies we now have in place are impeding, not facilitating, further progress. Creating double standards for physically demanding jobs so that women can qualify ensures that men in those jobs will never see women as their equals. In universities, affirmative action ensures that the black-white difference in IQ in the population at large is brought onto the campus and made visible to every student. The intentions of their designers notwithstanding, today’s policies are perfectly fashioned to create separation, condescension, and resentment—and so they have done.

The world need not be that way. Any university or employer that genuinely applied a single set of standards for hiring, firing, admitting, and promoting would find that performance across different groups really is distributed indistinguishably. But getting to that point nationwide will require us to jettison an apparatus of laws, regulations, and bureaucracies that has been 40 years in the making. That will not happen until the conversation has opened up. So let us take one step at a time. Let us stop being afraid of data that tell us a story we do not want to hear, stop the name-calling, stop the denial, and start facing reality.