More Than Social Justice, Hiring Quotas Create Harm—Even Death!
“One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.” ―Milton Friedman
The Situation in Los Angeles County
The Los Angeles County Fire Department has come under recent scrutiny for nepotism in its hiring practices. Nepotism means, potentially, that the best-qualified applicants are not getting hired. So, what if the newly-hired relative does not perform his firefighter duties as well as his competitor for the job would have? The result could be loss or property or loss of life that would not have occurred, given a more competent firefighter.
A False Solution
The Los Angeles County Fire Department wants to crack down on nepotism within the department; but it wants to replace all the nepotism with stricter enforcement of hiring quotas, to ensure “fairness” to minorities in the hiring process. Minority hiring quotas, however, are just another form of nepotism. The department is just altering its policy of preferring that new-hires be blood-related to an employee to a policy of preferring that new-hires be blood-related to a certain ethnic group.
Political Correctness Wins, Human Beings Die
The problem that arises by replacing familial nepotism with racial nepotism is that the fire department is still not getting the best, most-highly-qualified applicants to be emergency responders. Hiring the most qualified people will save the most lives.
A white male wants the firefighter who responds to his medical emergency to be the best possible hire. He would, I daresay, prefer a black female firefighter who is more qualified for her job over a white male who is less qualified. A black male with an emergency, would most likely prefer a white female or a Hispanic male or whoever proves to be the most capable at saving lives to attend to his medical needs. The point is that most reasonable people would prefer the best chance for survival over a higher probability that the rescuer be of his or her same ethnicity.
Quotas, Quotas, Quotas . . .
This brings up the question of the police department, of medical schools, law schools, and teacher-training programs. All of these occupations are important, because their practitioners can make real differences in the lives of people. The intent of enforcing racial quotas is, of course, to make sure that qualified applicants are not being passed over on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion. And, once upon a time, the argument for having quotas was much stronger than it is today—when a majority of Americans have twice voted for a black president.
Today, there are workers and bosses of all racial and ethnic backgrounds in every field of endeavor. It no longer makes sense to enforce equal outcomes for all ethnicities represented in a given hiring pool of job applicants. Enforcing equal outcomes, nowadays, can only have detrimental effects. Underprepared applicants will get hired, given such a process, and people relying on them will be hurt as a result. In the end, these underprepared hires will be less likely to keep their employment positions, and they will feel inclined to think this is due to racism, when it is really because of the fact that the state has forced the hiring of an ill-prepared person.
Even in the business world today, there is now a globally competitive environment where businesses who fail to hire the best workers—be they white, black, Hispanic, or Asian—ultimately fail. Racism has become economically unaffordable these days.
The ultimate loss of freedom that people will experience, due to quota-based hiring, could be the loss of their very lives or livelihoods, when a less-than-stellar—but politically-correct—hire functions below par in during a life emergency or a business deal. Milton Friedman once said, “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.” Those who are in charge of hiring only the best applicants should be given free rein to hire those they deem to be most qualified for any job.
How to Hire with Fairness
It should be mentioned, however, that, as much as quota-based hiring needs to be avoided, racism in hiring must be discouraged as well. The solution to the predicament of making the hiring process color-blind may very well be to make sure that members of hiring committees are of different cultural backgrounds. Also, applicant ethnicity should be withheld from the members of any hiring committee—rendering them “blind” to applicants’ ethnic backgrounds—during phase one of applicant screening, when test scores, doctor physicals, and other objective applicant data are presented.
The interview process should be used mainly to look for red flags in personal interactions with applicants. A checklist of positive interview behaviors and red flags should be in the possession of each member of the interview committee, and these should be compared and discussed after each interview, to keep everybody on the same page. Discrepancies could be voted on, if differences remain, after an extensive discussion of each interviewee.
Once applicants clear the interview process, they become candidates for full employment who will be required to pass a training program with high standards that are being consistently enforced with all candidates. Candidates could be judged, according to performance data that are observable, measurable, and repeatable. Objective data would be such information as follows: shooting scores at the firing range, the number of push-ups one can do, or the time it takes to run a mile. Data that tend to be more subjective could be scored by a diverse team of trained evaluators, in order to ensure a certain amount of agreement between multiple raters or judges. This would not be too different from the way in which Olympic judges operate.
Justice for All
I do not mean to suggest that the above proposal is the only model available for a fair hiring and evaluation process for applicants to important programs and jobs. What I do wish to suggest is that there are many ways to ensure quality, while, at the same time, removing concerns of any real racial bias from the selection process.
Once such a process is in place, if there are still concerns about low minority achievement in the attainment of desired positions, the correct response would be better support in the education of affected groups. Hiring people not up to the job is never acceptable. Helping people to learn what they need, in order to be up to the job, is always acceptable.
The correct policy is better preparation for affected populations, not life-endangering “social justice” programs. Supporting those who need help to meet their educational challenges is the key to promoting more freedom and happiness for all people, because social justice is only real social justice if it is justice for all.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com