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Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Fallacy of Fairness part III

In continuing the discussion of the fallacy off "fairness", the third installment on this issue brings up the following.

"whether any human being has ever had the omniscience to determine and undo the many differences among people born into different families and cultures-- with different priorities, attitudes and behavior-- is a very big question. And to concentrate the vast amount of power needed to carry out that sweeping agenda is a dangerous gamble, whose actual consequences have too often been written on the pages of history in blood.

There is no question that the accident of birth is a huge factor in the fate of people. What is a very serious question is how much anyone can do about that without creating other, and often worse, problems. Providing free public education, scholarships to colleges and other opportunities for achievement are fine as far as they go, but there should be no illusion that they can undo all the differences in priorities, attitudes and efforts among different individuals and groups.

Trying to change whole cultures and subcultures in which different individuals are raised would be a staggering task. But the ideology of multiculturalism, which pronounces all cultures to be equally valid, puts that task off limits. This paints people into whatever corner the accident of birth has put them.

Under these severe constraints, all that is left is to blame others when the outcomes are different for different individuals and groups. Apparently those who are lagging are to continue to think and act as they have in the past-- and yet somehow have better outcomes in the future. And, if they don't get the same outcomes as others, then according to this way of seeing the world, it is society's fault!"

What I took from the above was Sowell's quote where he states that the ideology of multiculturalism pronounces all cultures to be equally valid. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some people from certain cultures do need a bit more help to catch up with others in an educational setting. It's fine to help others when we can. We shouldnt however, "dumb down" the playing field to hold back those who are high achievers. Society is ultimately the big loser in such schemes after the kids themselves whose intellectual growth is slowed by the advancement of a well meaning but completely misguided, multicultural fairytale that fairness can be imposed at will.


Ginx said...


I'd rather address your comments than the quote.

There is no doubt the US education system is broken. Everyone agrees, but no one agrees on how to fix it. One thing you and I both agree on is that people are simultaneously helped and hindered by the system, and that those helped tend to be mediocre at best, while those hindered are sometimes our best and brightest. Why are we sacrificing some portion of our finest children for the sake of the middle?

I could expound pages on education theory, but I will share with you my view for how we would most easily fix the system:

1. We cannot completely alter the system overnight. Changes will need to gradually occur.

2. Every individual subject ought to be seperated. A child who is proficient in math who is 15 ought to be allowed to be working on college level math while he is also only reading at an 8th grade level, or vice versa. This will allow people to fail (which is part of life) without being held back in areas in which they are gifted.

3. Sports ought to have nothing to do with school, financially. Sports are an important part of our culture and one of the only things keeping some American children from being obese. However, too much "education funding" is spent on sports. Instead, public sports programs (which can still be run on school grounds and with school affiliation) need to be funded seperately.

4. [You'll hate this one] Schools cannot be funded by local property taxes. This condemns poor children who live in poor areas to poor quality schools. It's a joke that schools in one county send new laptops home with the students, while another county sends the kids home with text books hailing the election of George H.W. Bush.

Conservatives talk about "failed lifestyles," or a Republican politician says not to feed the poor because they'll breed (like animals). This is all just code for Social Darwinism. "Some people are worth living, some people aren't." Nevermind that they are blaming the child for the sins of the parents, that they are ensuring poor children have to work even harder if they expect to make anything of themselves.

I think they fear the competition, knowing that if everyone started with the same number of chips (or even some form of parity), they might actually have to work for it.

Tracy said...

You've brought up some age old issues here JD. I do think that more and more people are realizing that to "dumb down" the playing field causes more problems than it fixes.

I agree with points 1 & 2 of Ginx's. Number 3 I basically agree with but it's been my experience that this is how it is - I know that my youngest 2 sons are in public high school and both are really into sports; the coach of each sport has repeatedly emphasized how each sport raises it's own funds. I'm conflicted about #4; because I do see your point, yet I really think, ideologically we need to keep government & funding at the most local level possible.

photogr said...

I don't think economic issues parlay a gifted child into being mediocre.
It is the schools and the teachers responsibility to recognize that fact and put that child into a program where he or she can excell beyond the learning level of their peers. There are in fact programs in effect for that exactly and also programs in effect for the ones not gifted or suffer learning dissabilities. Federal laws and funding dictates that position to be active.If the schools fail to recognize that, the parent have the right to sue the school boards

JD Curtis said...

Why are we sacrificing some portion of our finest children for the sake of the middle?

I don't think it's for the kids "in the middle" rather than the brightest are being discriminated against so the worst don't perform too badly. I believe that Sowell addresses this in the next installment.

Your statement about "breeding like animals" is straight out of progressivism. Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism goes into it in depth.

Marcus Wellington said...

" There is no question that the accident of birth is a huge factor in the fate of people."

No accident. God has chosen what race we will belong to and wether we will be save at the begining of time.

" Some people from certain cultures do need a bit more help to catch up with others in an educational setting."

Some races won't catch up. They are just not able.

JD Curtis said...

I disagree Marcus.

"Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune editorial writer, opened the media door to this educational truth when he wrote, ‘About 8 percent of Harvard University undergraduates were black. One-half to two-thirds of them were either West Indian or African Immigrants."

The fact that they are black is not important. I think you are discounting the value of being raised in a nuclear family.

Marcus Wellington said...

8 percent, huh? slightly higher than i would have thought.