Wonder Who Thomas Sowell Will Vote For in 2016?
In his 2002 memoir, “A Personal Odyssey,” Mr. Sowell describes how he once pawned a suit of clothes to buy food—a knish and an orange soda at a little restaurant on the Lower East Side in New York City. “Since then I’ve eaten at the Waldorf Astoria, I’ve eaten in Parisian restaurants and in the White House,” he tells me. “But no meal has ever topped that knish and orange soda.”
And he explains "disparate impact" in a way that even I can understand it:
Or take “disparate impact,” the idea that different outcomes among different groups—say, that there are more male CEOs than female—is ipso facto evidence of discrimination. The Obama administration has used disparate impact to charge racism in housing, employment and other matters. In the absence of discrimination, the theory goes, people naturally would be dispersed more or less at random. Nonsense, Mr. Sowell says. “In various books I’ve given lists of all the great disparities all over the world, and I recently saw a column by Walter Williams in which he added that men are bitten by sharks several times as often as women.”Does that ever make sense. Think about it this way: you get hired to do a job, and someone else also is hired to do the same exact kind of job in your very same department. Through your references, your new employer already learned that you always show up on time and ready to go right to work, you work hard all day, every hour, you abide by all the policies and rules of your employer, you do every piece of work that crosses your desk, as accurately as humanly possible, following-through to resolution, and you meet or exceed all the requirements of your job. And you continue to do likewise in this new job.
Differences in outcome is a matter that Mr. Sowell takes up in his new book, “Wealth, Poverty and Politics: An International Perspective,” out Sept. 8. Its theme, he says, is that “in a sense, there was never any rational reason to believe that there would be this evenness that they presuppose.” Some continents have more navigable rivers and deep water harbors than others. Some cultures value education highly, and some don’t. Underwhelming as the conclusion might sound to those with the urge to reorder society, many disparities arise simply because people are different, and because they make different choices.
Another problem is that the “disparate impact” assumption misidentifies where group differences originate. He sets up an example: “If you have people in various groups in the country, and their kids are all raised differently, they all behave differently in school, they do differently in school. And now they’re grown up and they go to an employer, and you’re surprised to find that they’re not distributed randomly by income.” It’s “just madness,” he says, to assume “that because you collected the statistics there, that’s where the unfairness originated.”
Your co-worker, on the other hand, clocks in on time but often spends the first fifteen minutes of her shift in the breakroom eating her breakfast or visiting with her boyfriend. She takes multiple unapproved breaks throughout the day, goofs off and chats while working or is up and out of her seat whenever the supervisors aren't around, makes and takes personal phone calls on company phones and on company time, texts, web-surfs or even watches movies/podcasts on her iPhone while supposedly working, avoids 99% of the hard, time-consuming work and cherrypicks the high-volume orders to advance her own productivity numbers, even to the extreme point of stealing someone else's productivity-boosting tasks, all after having signed or verbally given multiple agreements not to do any of the above. Plus, she's known by all the managers to make a large amount of errors, many of them repeat errors, day in, day out, never learning from her mistakes, even when told of them.
Would it be "unfairness" and "discrimination" for you to be evaluated, paid and rewarded better than that co-worker? Heck no. Though you don't know the details, isn't it obvious she was raised differently than you were? And that her behavior now had to have originated in different behavior, and different results, when she was in her home and in her school? She couldn't possibly have just suddenly developed such atrocious work habits/ethics upon getting this specific job.
Yet in real-life, the “disparate impact” assumption keeps that co-worker employed, valued and perhaps even paid better than you are.