Affirmative Action By Class? Duh.

Even TAP is going for this now? Shit, when I wrote that affirmative action should be based on class lines 10 years ago for a law school newspaper, I caught shit from campus liberals and conservatives.

Here’s why it makes sense. At least today, the primary legacy of slavery and discrimination against other racial groups is economic. Indeed, some (myself included) would argue that race consciousness was only ever invented in the first place as a tool of class division. When the colonists were forced to replace the Indians they planned to enslave but ended up wiping out with disease, they did so with African slaves. To justify this relationship, and to pacify the white underclasses, they made up theories about African inferiority. In reality, there is no such thing in genetics as race. And if any continent taken as a whole had a leg up, it was ultra-diverse Africa.

The African slaves and their descendants have slowly been able to work their way out of that darkness. There is equality under the law. Cultural mixing is at its highest point. White kids have black heroes, like Lebron James. Blacks have moved beyond the minstrel class too.

But anyone living in the age of Obama can see clearly that racism is alive and well and ugly. And there is a social project there to be had. But, as with most things, I believe that “it’s the economy, stupid.” And so to the extent that Indians, Blacks, and other racial minorities have been discriminated against and as a result suffered economically, any class-based affirmative action would have the same effect for them now.

Nowadays there is—for example—little concern about Jewish economic equality, even though there is still antisemitism. While this situation isn’t one to be slept on, it’s different than being a minority and being impoverished as a legacy of racism. If you can achieve the former status, you’re ahead.

Of course, this all assumes that moving poor kids a few steps up the U.S. News rankings is going to cure all this. If you really want to do something, you could, I don’t know, have free pre-school, cancel student debt, and then have an economy with good jobs at the end.

Our Stupid, Inbred Elites.

Bravo Chris Hayes. I disagree with a lot of Hayes’s campus leftism, but he’s right on his fundamental stuff: that we need more democracy. That doesn’t mean we are protected from bad decisions, but it means that bad decisions should be something that is the will of the voter. The process matters. Correct decisions from an inbred elites will happen but they get more unlikely the longer it goes.

Democrats are much better at producing outcomes like “gay marriage is legal” and on those kinds of fundamental Constitutional issues. But on kitchen table issues, they really only seem to occasionally throw a sop to the middle class along the same path towards aristocracy. This is the party that started in with “deficit reduction” about 2 years after the worst criss in decades and while unemployment was still high. Yes, the Republicans have turned into economic suicide bombers with their delusional no tax goldbuggery, but the old Republican position of deflation is now at home in the governing side of the Democratic party.

Still, the left spends more time worrying whether someone is murdered by a drone rather than a cruise missile than it does on economic outrages at home (never mind abroad). Maybe if there was a bit more economic populism there would be enough clout for some of these ideas people want to get traction? Just sayin’

Important Elections

There’s no denying the obvious fact that Presidential elections are the most important ones in America. You need a quality candidate that can get 270 electoral votes every time. If you can’t do that, you are a failure as a party. After Bob Dole, the Republicans switched to a bare-270 formula and have done OK with it.

But what’s the second most important election? Apparently, in a bare knuckled exercise of power era, it’s the pre-census statehouse election years. Dems better gear up for 2020 in a big way this time. Fortunately (I hope) it will also be a presidential election year, but it is one where if everything isn’t going perfectly, the country will be likely looking to make a change (to avoid 16 years of Democrats). Money nationalization, money, and discipline needs to be put into these elections.

Next, of course, is the midterm Congressional elections. If OFA can’t convert itself into something that works in these elections, it’s trouble. 2014 is an opportunity to say, “we learned from 2010.”

Most of the obstacles to an enduring Democratic majority for the next decade are procedural. The party already is where it needs to be politically to win these elections. It just needs to win them.

Snowden

Got job with intent to leak. Leaves China for Cuba via Russia. Your libertarian hero, ladies and gentleman.

The Noxiousness of Affirmative Action Cases

I’ll use this opportunity with today’s non-decision by the Supreme Court on affirmative action to say just how awful these cases are. And no, I don’t mean the sides’ relative positions. The right-wing takes its whole “colorblind” bullshit to extreme heights in these cases. I think it’s fairly clear that merely being “colorblind” won’t fix the problem. The thing is, I’m fairly certain that neither will race-preferenced college admissions.

Sure, it’s a nice thing that we have this program and I’m not suggesting we take it away. I’m just saying that at the end of the day, it’s much more important what the conditions of your child’s kindergarten are than whether he or she gets into the University of Michigan law school or Michigan State’s law school. In the days when the economy were good, that might mean a few thousand dollars a year in salary, on average, or it might mean nothing.

We are not even dealing with a program that admits kids who wouldn’t otherwise go to college. We’re dealing with people who want to be higher in the U.S. News rankings.

How any liberal concerned with issues of social justice and economic opportunity can honestly get so excited over these cases when there is no equality in preschool, kindergarten, primary school, and high school—and when the job market that we have after that is leaving minorities behind even if they have degrees, when real wages are flat, I just can’t say.

I understand the symbolic weight of all of this and I understand the importance of having a diverse and representative workforce and schools. I would argue similarly that any white kid damaged by having to go to UCLA instead of Berkeley needs to quit whining as well.

No one mixed up in these cases is doomed to poverty or, usually, even to going without a college degree.

This isn't your father's environmental crisis

I’m interested to see Pandora’s Promise. I feel like “pro-nuke environmentalist” is a bit of an overly simplified handle for my personal views. I have no particular love for nuclear power. It just happens to be one of the few things we’ve got that you can put almost anywhere. There isn’t wind everywhere and not everywhere has sun in the winter. Transmission lines lose power. Hydropower is probably the best solution where it can be done. But the net effect of being anti-nuke in 2013 is being pro-fossil fuel.

Indeed, the best immediate solution in some places may be to replace wood and dirtier coal with less dirty coal, replace coal with oil, and oil with gas. But in 2013, more than 20 years after Kyoto, more than 30 years after scientists warned us about the greenhouse effect, it is clear that the current track is failing. Whatever solutions may be available, anything that limits growth isn’t only morally repugnant first world elitism, it’s simply not going to happen in a world where we have democracy. Granted that “democracy” may have also killed nuclear power in Japan and Germany, it would be much easier to impose nuclear power on a country than reversion to limited or no electricity, which is more or less what the current global warming realities would impose on the third world.

But whatever the answer must be, it must come sooner rather than later. It is entirely irrelevant what people didn’t like in the 1970s or the 1960s. Global warming was either unheard of or not out of control in those times.

While it might be unfair hippie punching to suggest that many environmentalists have some kind of Edenic delusion in mind and are anti-power and development, at least some do. It’s time for many of these organizations to decide if being green is really what they are about, or if it’s about anti-modernism. It’s not that I want to ban the latter, it’s that some transparency on this issue is owed to the world.

If you’re against development, say so. Fine. But don’t pretend to care about the developing world or the environment only so long as it’s done your way. This is like those who are against abortion but don’t give a stinking shit about the child once it’s born.

I’m willing to listen. Nuclear power may not be the only way out of this. Some breakthrough may come. But until it does, it seems to be a choice between a dying hot world, a starving cold one, or one with extensive nuclear power.