The Instigator
verbivore
Pro (for)
Winning
18 Points
The Contender
claypigeon
Con (against)
Losing
15 Points

Affirmative Action Should Be Dissolved

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/3/2008 Category: Education
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,139 times Debate No: 3052
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (11)

 

verbivore

Pro

Every kind of person has equality of opportunity but only those who deserve a position on merit should win it. Because we live in a meritocracy employers, universities, and other institutions should choosed the best person for the position regardless of background or race. To do anything else is inequitable.
Therefore we should dissolve the practice of Affirmative Action.
claypigeon

Con

I apologize beforehand if my later arguments are not that great as I have a busy week but this topic is interesting to me.

I would like to narrow the debate and go to an extreme and call affirmative action a form of racism and not a form of socialism or a progressive redistribution of wealth . Affirmative action for this debate is based just on race.

Therefore my definition of Affirmative Action is; Affirmative action refers to policies intended to promote access to education or employment aimed at a historically non dominant race

What you ask? Someone is defending racism?

There are plenty of arguments one can make about equality and liberty and progressive/regressive policies which Id rather not address here. We are debating whether segregation by race in certain circumstances can make the U.S better off.

1.Equality of Opportunity

My main points all stem from one main argument. We do not have equality of opportunity in America. We also do not have luck equality or luck egalitarianism but I'd rather not debate the luck aspect as I don't see it coming into play in this debate.

My opponent should prove that we have equality o opportunity in America. The burden of proof is generally on the instigator of a debate but I will try and take that burden on myself.

According to Wikipedia, "Equality of opportunity means that every person is afforded the same access to a benefit as every other person."

I am going to go with mostly educational examples in this debate. Many state colleges charge exorbitant tuitions for out of state students. A college near me charges about 35k a year for tuition and these high costs are the norm for many places.

Assuming everyone can get college loans and assuming that everyone gets the same low interest rate regardless of price discrimination, one might argue that there is equality of opportunity in this situation. Everyone can afford this college and everyone can get the same loan rate. Not only does this not happen in real life as loan rates are subject to discrimination, but a dollar is worth more to someone who can least afford to spare it, than to someone who can most afford to spare it. Wasting a dollar now has a greater opportunity cost to a poorer family who may have to put that dollar on credit or sacrifice some heating that night compared to someone who just can't get the vente starbucks latte and must get the grande version.

My point is that even in the best of circumstances, treating people with different income levels the same does not guarantee that they are being treated "equally". A dollar lost from one person can do different amounts of good if gained by another person.

Therefore, not everyone "is afforded the same access to a benefit as every other person". Is there access? Yeah, but not the same as 35k to one person is a lot more expensive than 35k to someone else.

Income is just one example of how there is a lack of opportunity amongst different groups of people. I know I said I would deal only w/ race. Here is how the two connect.

Using race as a factor is a way to gauge income. It is not the best nor most efficient way, but it works better than chance.

According again to Wikipedia, in 2005, the average "white" household makes about 50k a year while the average Asian household makes a bit below 60k . Hispanics are a bit below 35k and blacks are at about 30k. http://en.wikipedia.org...

There is a significant income difference when race is taken into account. I showed above how income differences make opportunity differences inherent. Therefore there are opportunity differences if we segregate by race.

2. Merit

So I have proven that equality of opportunity doesn't exist. Why have Affirmative Action at all then? I consider myself to be pretty utilitarian so the idea of a meritocracy makes sense intuitively. That is until I realized that merit is a fluid measurement. The more opportunity one is given, the more one can increase their own human capital and become more useful to society. Why should we take away resources from one group and give it to another unless there are benefits? I think that different races are equal to each other in potential merit. Taking money from someone who must sacrifice a cup size at starbucks an giving it to someone who would be gaining the ability to heat their home a bit imo increaess net utility. For the same amount of money a rich person is spending going to a private college instead of a state one (about 30k in many places) we could send two other people to state college.

For the price of one private college education we could send three people to state college!!! Net Utility is added in this situation at least imo. Average "merit" goes up, etc. Why not transfer some goods from the rich kid to the poor kid if all we want to do is maximize utility or future merit?

We simply divided resources in a way that increased future merit and utility instead of allowing the current system to be totally meritocratic. In my example we discriminated on income. If Race is a better than chance way to discriminate based on income, why not let us discriminate by race as opposed to not discriminating on anything? Net utility and net merit still go up.

I argue here that to maximize utility we must discriminate. Though income is a better way to maximize utility the pro advocated removing this discrimination altogether. Discriminating by race may be a less effective way of divvying out help than discriminating based on income, but it is still more effective than not divvying out help.

Merit is fluid. We can advocate policies which limit merit now only to increase it later. That is what affirmative actions does at its best. Certain examples or systems can be vastly improved but the idea of taking from the rich and giving to the poor is still not only effective, but needed to maximize utility and merit.
Debate Round No. 1
verbivore

Pro

Affirmative action was not created as a sort of "Robin Hood" policy, taking from the rich and giving to the poor but instead as a recompensation for past wrongs. It is the set of public policies and initiatives to help eliminate past and present discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Yes, it is true that minorities make up most of our low income and poverty stricken households, however if affirmative action, as you propose, was implemented to assist the poor and that, as you inject, it's easier to "divvy" according to race, then the policy would be extremely flawed and injust to those whites who live in the same conditions.

Merit can be fluid but when it comes to hiring and admitting students, Universities and Employers have set a standard in place as to who will be accepted. Those who apply are often aware as to what is required and work hard to either meet this standard or present themselves to fitting that mold. However, Affirmative Action demands that standards be changed for a select few and that a certain number of people be admitted or hired based primarily on their race.

Affirmative Action was set up to help dissolve prejudice but in fact it can increase prejudice as other groups resent the new privileges of the affirmative action beneficiaries with the suspicion that these newly selected people did not make it on merit but through government patronage. This is made worse when selection procedures are transparent, as in university exams where test scores may reveal that people better qualified are rejected to make place for someone based primarily on race.

Many argue that minorities do not test as well as other students so the standards for them should be different. But does this actually help them? Most of these students come from poor schools and are often not prepared for rigorous college curricula. Author Stephen Thernstrom of "America in Black and White" wrote "Alarmingly, large numbers of the students admitted as a result of racial preferences fail to graduate. Of those who were freshman in 1991-92 for example, 35 percent of all African-Americans and 48 percent of black male students had not received their diplomas six years later, drop-out rates nearly triple that of the whites and Asians who had entered at the same time."

We need to address the real problem instead of merely covering it up with a bandaid. We need to free minority students from underperforming schools and allow them choices. (School Voucher systems would be a good start but that is an entirely different debate.) With a better early childhood education these minorities will benefit more in the long run.

Affirmative action actually hurts minorities as a whole for it assumes in a way that they can't make it without someone changing the standards for them. People often perform to the expectations given them. Dissolving Affirmative Action tells the minority that we believe they are just as competent.
claypigeon

Con

Let us clarify what this debate is about. By saying affirmative action should be dissolved we are arguing over whether it is better if there is no affirmative action that if there is affirmative actions, right?

The reason I ask is that in your rebuttal you mention plenty of other options of improving the lives of minority students. Though I agree with the options you stated, that is not what this debate is about so please excuse me if I don't address them.

1. Background

You stated that affirmative action was originally set up to help eliminate discrimination. I will not argue whether this is true or not. This may be true but why something was originally set up is not an argument for why something should be dissolved now as that something could have changed or there can be other reasons now to continue a policy. Originally the 14th amendment was set up so that the children of slaves would be considered American citizens. Now the 14th amendment and its birth clause is used not for the children of slaves but for immigrants. Even if congress never considered immigrants originally, we should heavily factor them in now when deciding whether or not to continue with this practice.

2. Increased prejudice

In my opinion, this debate is going to come down to a cost/benefit scenario. Are the costs of Affirmative Action worth the benefits gained from it. You made an interesting argument that AA can increase prejudice towards others. As a former high school senior, I remember hearing of classmates with GPAs and SATS less than mine getting admitted to UPenn and other Ivies. I too remember thinking, maybe the fact that she is 1/4 cherokee and 1/2 black and 1/4 something else had to do with it. This is increased prejudice. I do not disagree that there are some forms of increased prejudice arising from AA. Overall prejudice goes down in my opinion for the following reasons.

A. Economic well being
I don't believe that we disagree that minorities are helped off economically by AA if we exclude the affects of increased or decreased prejudice. One of the many many reasons people do discriminate and judge certain minorities as being "worse" than themselves is due to the economic well being of the minority in question. Americans don't by in large think of Chinese or Japanese or Indian people negatively. Americans on average view Hispanics and Blacks negatively. One common factor here is that the minorities viewed negatively have worse average incomes than the majority does. If we can increase the well being of minorities, it follows that there will be less prejudice.

B. Diversity
One thing we gain from Affirmative Action is the benefit of diversity. I'd rather not debate whether diversity itself is great but as we get exposed to different people we see how alike we all are. We realize how stupid many stereotypes are and our prejudice goes down. We fear and speak ill of that which we do not know. With AA, we get exposed to others so we can break down these prejudices. My psych textbook cites 3 different studies that mention how increased contact between people in situations where isolation isn't possible decreases prejudice. I'll post them in comments if you want a link.

My point w/ prejudices is that I believe overall prejudice goes down with AA though some forms of course go up.

3. Self fulfilling prophecy/expectations

It has been argued many times that if we lower expectations of minorities then they will perform worse. Balderdash. Its been shown through studies that at least blacks perform worse than whites on tests when they are told the test tests a weak area(Steele + Aronson, 1995, Suzuki + Aronson, 2005). When the same kids are not told that they are expected to do worse, they do the same as whites on the same tests(same studies as above). This means that at least Blacks have the potential to not be affected by negative expectations or the self fulfilling prophecy. It is most likely anxiety or some other affect from prejudice that makes them score worse on tests they are consciously told they should score worse on them. Also, if there is less of a stereotype, this becomes less of a problem. Less prejudice = less stereotype.

On dropout rates, one would suspect that someone less qualified to be in college and less able to afford college would have a higher chance of dropping out. Your study doesn't cite those who dropout for performance/academic reasons. I assume cost is the main reason these subjects cannot afford to continue their education. Increased affirmative action would solve the problem if that is so. Nor did you mention causation of the dropout rates differences. The rate is now dropping , perhaps due to Aff. Actions. (my source is only from 1972-1999 btw)

I hope to have shown that Aff. Actions does not harm minorities through either overall prejudice or the self fulfilling prophecy. If anything, prejudice and the self fulfilling prophecy due to the elimination of many stereotypes.

(http://nces.ed.gov...)

Benefits of AA.

At minimum, Affirmative action is a weak way to play robin hood and help those out who are fiscally in need. At maximum, we are making up for past wrongs and/or making society more egalitarian and increasing utility (as argued in the 1N).

Overall skill levels are increased even if we have to make some exceptions, as those who are worse off gain more from a little help than those who are better loose from giving this help. A dollar is not worth the same to a poor person that it is to a rich person. Though there are better options than race based affirmative action this is not what we are debating here. Affirmative actions lets there be equality of opportunity. It lets all people have a chance. It is more fair than the unjust system of perpetual inequality. It is one thing to become communist and make everyone equal, and another to guarantee everyone has the chance to make something of themselves. I advocate equality of opportunity. I advocate maximum utility. If there is a market failure in maximizing utility and the gov't needs to mandate a form of affirmative action so be it. If firms won't naturally hire in a way that is best for societies future, then we must use government to solve the problem. That is the point of government. That is why affirmative action is better than no affirmative action.
Debate Round No. 2
verbivore

Pro

OK..I have had a busy week and barely made it back on here for Round 3! I don't have alot of time but hopefully I can address at least a few of your arguments!

"Why something was originally set up is not an argument for why something should be dissolved now as that something could have changed or there can be other reasons now to continue a policy."

Good point so I will inject that the CURRENT purpose of AA today is to eliminate present effects of past discrimination. It requires employers to engage in special efforts to recruit and retain traditionally underrepresented classes of employees, including racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, women, veterans, individuals with disabilities.

http://www.affirmativeaction.ucr.edu...

"One common factor here is that the minorities viewed negatively have worse average incomes than the majority does. If we can increase the well being of minorities, it follows that there will be less prejudice."

I would advocate that it is more plausible that the reason a majority of minorities are poor is due to prejudice from years past, not the other way around. I don't think giving them easier entrance into college or jobs, thus increasing their livelihood is going to decrease prejudice.

There are millions of minorities out there who with hard work who have made millions and still face prejudice and persecution.

"One thing we gain from Affirmative Action is the benefit of diversity."

So are you implying that without AA there would be no diversity? I think there are many minorities out there who would still be accepted into college and hired for certain jobs based on their merit alone and without the assistance of AA.

"are not told that they are expected to do worse, they do the same as whites on the same test"

Maybe I'm missing something but by not being told they are not given any expectations they seem to do better, right? If this is the case, eliminating AA would be "not telling them" and no expectations would equal the same results as whites. So wouldn't they test the same on ACT's and SATs which would eliminate the need for AA. You also stated that "it is more likely anxiety, etc. etc. that makes them score worse on tests they are consciously told they should score worse on"

Test like the ACT reflect what the student was exposed to. Poorer communities lack good education so these kids would not be exposed to as much. Then add the years of being told that blacks (or other minorities) do not test as well and they will just give in to the fact that they do not need to work as hard. Eliminate AA and more people will become outraged by the fact that these minorities are not meeting the standard and step in to attack the problem where the problem originates….community and education. We need to get into these communities and educate. It may take a few years to see the results but eventually the minorities will realize they are competent enough without AA.

"I assume cost is the main reason these subjects cannot afford to continue their education." Increased affirmative action would solve the problem if that is so. Nor did you mention causation of the dropout rates differences."

These dropouts were beneficiaries of AA. They dropped out due to the rigorous curriculum they were not ready for, not due to costs.

‘If firms won't naturally hire in a way that is best for societies future, then we must use government to solve the problem. That is the point of government. That is why affirmative action is better than no affirmative action."

How do we define what natural is? If we go to the extreme …Survival of the fittest…then firms would hire the best workers to ensure their business thrives and profits. AA mandates some of their hiring. The government is not here to solve every problem….if anything they create many. They are here, elected by the people for the people.

Yes, to ensure equality is noble, but things will never be exactly equal. The government should step in if someone is turned down from a job based on the color of their skin alone, or if it is obvious that a company is participating in unfair hiring practices, but to mandate how many minorities you must hire or accept into a university does not promote equality, it gives special rights to minorities. What about whites who grow up in poor and stressful conditions and do not test well.

I propose again that we go into these poor communities and attack the problem at its root. It's easier to hand money to a beggar than to help him out of his condition. AA is just merely giving a handout to eliminate the guilt for a society that does not want to exert the time or energy to truly help…now that is the worse kind of prejudice.

Thanks for the debate! I actually learned alot!
claypigeon

Con

My pleasure debating you. AA is a really interesting topic as it spills over into so many different spheres. Psychology, econonomics, philosophy, biology, etc. First I'll address the topic at hand and afterwards I'll post somemore stuff dealing w/ AA.

For purposes of this debate, we narrowed AA simply to race to make the debate simpler. I have tried to show throughout the round that if for income redistribution we discriminate based on race, we are if only weakly prgressively giving a larger share of money to the poor. Therefore, when you say "I propose again that we go into these poor communities and attack the problem at its root. It's easier to hand money to a beggar than to help him out of his condition." we are still helping poor people out be redistributing income based on race. We could of course redistribute based on income and I agree that would be more effective than race but income redistribution by wealth is considered a form of affirmative action outside of this debate. We are simply arguing here whether discrrminating by race can be more beneficial in redistributing income than not discriminating at all.

1. Purpose of AA

Currently the purpose of AA is to somehow better the lives of those involved and for purposes of this debate we only focused on race. The purpose therefore is to raise the quality of life for minority races. This does not neccessarily require "employers to engage in special efforts to recruit and retain traditionally underrepresented classes of employees, including racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, women, veterans, individuals with disabilities" though it could include this. I couldn't get you link to work but I assume it was from UC riverside. There can be other actions like subsidies or free meal plans or neighborhood renovations etc.

2. Harms of AA

If I am following everything then there are two possible harms from AA in this debate

First is that expecting someone to do worse will make him do worse more on average.

Second is that being admitted to harder curriculums increases dropout rates.

The first is referred to as the self fulfilling prophecy and it has been shown in studies. However, in the studies I mentioned above, when the same tests are given to the same groups and there is no expectational difference, these same groups score as well as the other group. This shows that even if the self fulfilling prophecy is real which I agree it is, race doesn't cause students to do worse. Group A isn't worse than Group B at Math. If we eliminate the prophecy or what stems from it and give the same tests there is no difference between equivalent minorites/majorities. There are no inherent differences between groups but somehow, because of this prophecy, minorities do worse. I argue this is due to anxiety which would be negated if we lessened prejudice. By eliminating AA we aren't neccesarily telling minorities that we think they are worse at a subject. By having AA we aren't neccesarily saying this either. If we have AA for reasons such as past discrimination or guilt we can sidestep this self fulfilling prophecy harm.

The second harm we barely brushed on but it is whether admitting minorities to programs they don't qualify for is bad. I believe Univ of California schools got rid of racial affirmative action for this reason. I think cost and other factors have a lot more of a reason for these dropout rates than was noted by whomever did the study on this though I'll agree that the increased rigor was a cause. Either way, this intense curriculum is not inherent in racial affirmative action. We can help by redistributing income or subsidizing college costs and not admitting people into colleges they don't qualify for (subsidies = a better plan imo). By getting rid of all racial AA, we cannot do any of these plans.

3. Benefits of Affirmative Action.

A. Prejudice

I thought I mentioned (though I forgot to) a bunch of studies last round that showed ways we can decrease prejudice. Two substantial ways are

1. Increase contact between groups when cooperation is needed or in egalitarian situatins (Oskamp 2000, Dovido et al 2003)

2. Provide information about the minority group (a.k.a education)
(Schaller et al. 1991)

By having increased diversity we lessen prejudice as not only is there increased contact between groups but one also is exposed to more information about the minority group. If prejudice is decreased we negative the self fulfilling prophecy harm above and there are other benefits such as diversity.

B. Economic well being

In the last round I mentioned "If firms won't naturally hire in a way that is best for societies future, then we must use government to solve the problem."
You challenged me on what natural is so I feel I should explain this argument better.

One reason many people dislike monopolies or laissez faire capitalism is that there are situations that can arise when businesses do what best for them and not what is best for the government. There are cases where CEOS don't do whats best for the company and they do what is best for the CEO. We all are working in our best interests. If we have increased Affirmative Action we not only gain diversity and lose prejudice (as argued above), but we also effectively redistribute income so those who need it more get it more. A firm will always, in its best interest, hire who is most qualified as you point out. We don't want this. We want the firm to hire who is best for society. By having government step in with AA, we can change preferences around so the firm hires who is best for society. At minimum we can make it so in the case of two equal potential employees, the one best for society is hired. By natural I meant spontaneously btw.

4. Equality

We both agree now that the America does not have equality of opportunity. You mention that "to ensure equality is noble, but things will never be exactly equal. The government should step in if someone is turned down from a job based on the color of their skin alone... to mandate how many minorities you must hire ... gives special rights to minorities." and

"I propose again that we go into these poor communities and attack the problem at its root. It's easier to hand money to a beggar than to help him out of his condition. "

My response here is that racial Affirmative action does not need to act in this way. This debate is about whether or not we should totally disband affirmative action, and not reform it. I am all for reforming aspects but AA does not need to give special rights. We can get the benefits of AA w/o the harms that we have now, if there are any harms now. We can find better plans, such as going into neighborhoods and "teaching a man to fish" but this is not what the debate is about.

In closing, affirmative action has at least the potential to lessen prejudice and to lessen the self fulfilling prophecy and to increase the economic well being of America. The only harm I see in this debate is that is not ameliorated are possible increased drop out rates at colleges but if we sent three underpriveleged children to college and two dropped out, we still improved life for that one child. Though there are much better plans out there than racial affirmative action, this debate showed that at worst, we can weakly distribute based on income by distributing by race. Perhaps we can do more good w/ a different plan but by itself, affirmative action has done more good than bad and if it comes down to dissolving AA and having no other better plan come into its place, keeping AA makes the most sense from a utilitarian and a moral standpoint. Thanks for the debate.
Debate Round No. 3
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Posted by birdpiercefan3334 9 years ago
birdpiercefan3334
Alright. I'm voting Negative for this round. I have a crazy weekend ahead, so ill keep it like that. Also, if anyone's a LD debater you can challenge me to an LD debate, or please respond, because I want to see a LD debater on this site.
Posted by verbivore 9 years ago
verbivore
Busy week! I will try to reply before the time is up!
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