Is The New Wave Of Equal Opportunity Just Cover For Equal Outcome?
“One of the great tragedies of modern liberalism is that they have confused— or maybe purposely confused —outcome with opportunity.” Warren Farrell, author Why Men Earn More
It doesn’t take a lot to inspire the wrath the progressive left. Their hair-trigger tendency was most recently on display when they thrust forth high schoolers, fresh from a shooting tragedy, to advance their political agenda on guns. When FOX critic Laura Ingraham dared point out the manipulative nature of the exercise, her advertisers were threatened, and she was harassed into apologizing.
So the foofaraw about U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke questioning hiring quotas has to be taken in that context. Zinke wound up the chattering classes by saying he’s not in favour of diversity. Instead he thought it more important in “having the right person for the right job.”
Can you imagine such a heresy, particularly in hiring a civil servant? Well, the best person for the job was the best person for the job for about 2,000 years. Till progressive academics and radical political operatives forced the quasi-Marxist concept that hiring quotas produce equal opportunity that would then provide equal outcomes.
If your hiring mirrored the population, the notion went, it would raise the lot of disenfranchised people everywhere. This was a great idea for Barack Obama, who got into Harvard thanks to quotas for blacks. It was not a good idea for quota'd Asian students who had better marks than Obama yet were denied acceptance.
But in service of the great narrative, a few eggs are going to get broken, right? So social engineering—from Title IX to law school entrance qualifications— became a thing in America and Canada.
With quota hiring making inroads in many parts of the economy, there then came the demand for equal outcome. In Left Speech, equal outcome means equal pay for work of equal value. Sounds reasonable enough. But this concept has hit all sorts of potholes when applied in the free market.
Just one example: Gender studies have pointed to examples where women are supposedly paid less for the same work (Hillary Clinton’s campaign was a classic example BTW). The patriarchy hard at work repressing women, they claim. But if for-profit businesses can hire a woman for 20 percent less to do exactly the same job, why would they hire more expensive men? It makes no sense to everyone but Hillary Clinton’s ghostwriter.
Similarly, the arguments ignore the concept of work/ life balance many women seek. While there are now far more women in the workplace at higher pay grades, statistics indicate many other women still choose fewer hours/ more flexibility to maintain family balance. They choose careers that can accommodate these desires— teaching, many medical fields, clerical and civil service are examples where women are the rule not the exception.
The persistent myth that the patriarchy stands in the way of women also ignores the evidence from the very liberal nations like Sweden who found that, given their own choice and ample incentives to do otherwise, women still don’t flock to engineering, commerce and other male-dominated industries.
Activist and author Warren Farrell, who was part of the Second feminist movement in the 70s, split with his colleagues over their obsession that highlighted female oppression and ignored the role of children in women’s destiny. “I couldn't believe the people I thought were pioneers in equality were saying that women should have the first option to have children or not to have children — that children should not have equal rights to their dad,” he said in 1997.
He also poked holes in the spectre of the patriarchal man. In his 1993 book The Myth of Male Power, Farrell argued that “the widespread perception of men having inordinate social and economic power is false, and that men are systematically disadvantaged in many ways.” Indeed, women make 80 percent of the buying decisions in society, meaning they are the power.
This comes as a distraction to progressives such as Bernie Sanders, who still dream of the socialist utopia denied in the USSR, China, the Iron Curtain counties, Cambodia, Venezuela. Who still believe society needs to be levelled by a grader— with them driving that grader. They feel, not always wrongly, that they were getting very close to their goals under Obama.
The Obama years saw the re-ignition of the equal-outcome dream. Or as Marx expressed it, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” Obama himself never tired of articulating the argument that the state, not the individual, is the seminal instrument of life. Income redistribution and government regulation reign supreme.
“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody,” he said in 2009, evidently forgetting that government earns no money of its own. “You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did.”
Emboldened by this statist rhetoric and fuelled by a 1960s nostalgia (guns are the Viet Nam War for today’s young idealists), his followers pushed into new corners of the economy, seeking to entrench the quota/ guaranteed outcome dream— a dream checked only by the failure of Hillary Clinton to beat Donald Trump in 2016.
After deep reflection—okay it took them 15 minutes to blame the Russians for their failure to re-structure the Americans dream— they’ve resumed the clamour for guaranteed outcomes and an increased government presence in society. The only question will be, are the Trump years just a pause in the Obama initiative or did POTUS 45 put their dreams to rest?
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy.is the host of the podcast The Full Count with Bruce Dowbiggin on his website is Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). He’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author whose new book Cap In Hand will be available this fall.