Our Group

Our group has been founded on 9/12/2010 in the framework of the VIII Congress of IACL, on the common initiative of Victor Bazan and Sandra Liebenberg.
Its main aim is to develop a network and a forum for constitutionalists interested in social rights from countries throughout the world. Among its future activities will be, inter alia, the development of comparative research projects on topics to be decided collectively, advocacy and public Interest litigation on social rights issues and further involvement to related activities of IACL.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Racial Quotas – The polemic opinion of a black North American Professor, Walter Williams. An Interview by Marcelo Figueiredo

Racial Quotas – The polemic opinion of a black North American Professor, Walter Williams.

The North American Professor of the George Mason University, in the State of Virginia, Walter Williams, in the edition of the Brazilian Weekly Magazine VEJA, of March 9th 2011, declared in an interview, polemic, but courageous, that affirmative action jeopardize the black, by strengthening inferiority stereotypes. He defended economic freedom as a weapon against racial inequality2.
A 74 years old black, defines himself as a “radical free man”, like the Americans who oppose to the excess of activism of the State, and defend more individual freedom. Faithful to his ideas, he is against affirmative action and racial quotas, and says that the best instrument to defeat racial inequality is the free Market: “The Market economy is the great enemy of discrimination”.
Let´s see a few interesting pieces of this interview.-

1st.) Regarding the social welfare State and its benefits, the journalist asked whether it does help the black to relieve the poverty situation nowadays.
He stated: “All the economists agree that the offer of what is subsidized falls. For years, the US have subsidized familiar disintegration. When a poor teenager becomes pregnant, she conquers the right to enroll in lodging programs to live free, receives food allowance, transport allowance and a series of other benefits. In the past, a pregnant teenager was a shame to the family. Many of them were sent to the South, to live with their parents. Today, the welfare State promotes this behavior. The result is, that in my youth, 13% to 15% of the black children were daughters of single women. Now, they are 70%.
The minimum salary, that people consider a conquest for the most unprotected, is a tragedy for the poor. The obligation to pay a minimum salary to the employee of the gas station is at the root of automation and self-service. The former usher in cinemas does not exist any longer, not because we adore to stumble in the darkness. It is because of the minimum salary. In South Africa´s apartheid, the great defenders…
1Marcelo Figueiredo, lawyer, Professor of constitutional law and Director of the Law School at PUC-SP, Brazil: mfigueiredo.adv@uol.com.br
2Although I believe that there are many simplifications in their positions (also, because it is an interview, not an academic thesis), some of his positions are rather scathing. In my opinion, his lessons do not apply everywhere, with different economic realities (in spite of his opinion). Also, I´m not, differently from the professor, a strong enthusiast of the free market, at least, not like he is. Anywhere, it is interesting to read his positions, above all in a moment when constitutional law in its application deals with private and horizontal relations among particulars.
… of the minimum salary were the racist unions of the white, who did not accept the  black. They did not hide the fact that the minimum salary was the best instrument to avoid hiring the black, who being less qualified, were ready to work for less money. The minimum salary created a markets reserve for the white.
2nd.) Did affirmative action and racial quotas help, or not, to promote American blacks?
The first time when the expression “affirmative action” was used, was during the Richard Nixon government (1969-1974). At that time, the black had already made awesome progress. A colleague of mine has a study that shows that the rhythm of progress of the black from the forties to the sixties, was faster than from the sixties to the eighties. The black´s success cannot be attributed to affirmative action.
3rd.)  Affirmative action does not work?
The black do not need it. I give an example. There was a time when there did not exist black basketball players in the United States. Today, without racial quota, or affirmative action, 80% are black. Why? Because, they are excellent players. If the black had the same ability in mathematics or computer science, there would be an invasion by them in these areas. For this to be possible, school, good schools, large schools are enough. There is an aspect in which affirmative actions are negative. Thomas Sowell, a colleague of mine, economist, has an excellent study on the subject. It shows how the black are jeopardized by the racial quotas policy created by the so desired MIT engineering school, one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the US. The black recruited by the MIT are among the 5% best of the country in mathematics, yet, they have to follow extra courses for a few years. This happens because the white in the MIT are at the top in mathematics, the 1% best in the country. The black, even being very good, are below the excellence level of the MIT. But they could perfectly study in other respectable institutions, where they would be in the list of applicants to rector, and without the need of special courses. Because of affirmative action, many black are today in a position above their academic potential. If you are learning box and your first match is with Mike Tyson, you are defeated. You may have an excellent potential to be a box player, but you can´t start by fighting against Tyson. In this sense, affirmative action is cruel. It reinforces the worst elemental racial stereotypes.

4th.) In a country like Brazil, where the black didn´t progress as in the States, affirmative action has no sense?

The best thing the Brazilians could do is to guarantee quality education. Racial quotas in Brazil, a country with a greater mixture of races than the US, are absurd. Moreover, they force a racial identification that is not part of the Brazilian culture. To force racial classifications is to follow the wrong way. The Ford Foundation is a big promoter of affirmative action, because it is based on the wrong premise that the unfavorable reality of the black is the consequence of discrimination. Everybody knows that there was heavy discrimination in the past, and there still is, although extremely attenuated. But all is not the result of discrimination. The fact that only 30% of the black children live in houses with a father and a mother is a problem, but it doesn´t result from discrimination. The difference in academic performance between the black and the white is dramatic, but it does not come from discrimination. The low number of black physicists, chemists or statistics in the US is not a result of discrimination, but of the poor academic formation, which, on its turn, neither is the product of racial discrimination.
5th.) What is the most effective means to promote racial equality?
First, neither is there absolute racial equality, nor is it desirable. There are differences between the black and the white, men and women, and this is not a problem. What we want, is that we all be equal for the law. We are equal for the law, but different in life. In the US, the Jew are 3% of the population, but they win 35% of the Nobel prizes. May be they are more intelligent, may be their culture values more education, this is not relevant. The best way to enable each one of us – black or white, man or woman, Brazilian or Japanese – to attain his/her potential, is the free market. The free market is the big enemy of discrimination. But, in order to have a free market that deserves this name, it is advisable to eliminate every law that discriminates, or that forbids to discriminate.
6th.) Are you against6 the laws that forbid discrimination? I am a radical defender of individual freedom. Discrimination is undesirable in the institutions funded by the taxpayer´s money. The George Manson University has public money. Therefore, it may not discriminate. A public library, that receives money of taxes paid by the citizens, may not discriminate. But the others may. A country club, a private school, no matter what it is, has the right to discriminate. I believe in the radical association freedom. People have to be free to associate themselves the way they want.
7th.) Also to reorganize the Ku Klux Klan?

Yes, provided that they do not kill and injure people, all right. The real test of our degree of adhesion to the idea of freedom to associate is not when we accept that people associate around ideas with which we agree. The real test is when we accept that they associate around ideals we deem repulsive. The same is true for the freedom to express oneself. It is easy to defend it when people are saying things we deem positive and sensible, but our commitment with the freedom to express is only tested when we face people who say things that we consider absolutely disgusting.
8th.) Do you require people to call you an ”Afro-American” ?
This expression is stupid, beginning with the fact that not all the Africans are black. An Egyptian born in the US is an “Afro-American” ? Africa is a continent, inhabited by persons who are different among themselves. The various African peoples have been trying to kill each other, for centuries. In this, Africa is identical to Europe, which is also a continent, and is also inhabited by different peoples, who have also been trying to kill each other, for centuries.

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