Monday, January 21, 2002

King for a Day- For those of you in the rest of the Anglosphere, this is Martin Luther King day in the U.S.- the federal government and many Afrocentric locales (including the clerical union at my hospital, thus the quip below) take this as a paid holiday. I'm not sure that King deserves to get the secular sainthood that having a holiday to himself signifies, putting him with only Jesus and Columbus (I'll be happy to trim that holiday) as people getting a day to themselves. That being said, it is good to see where we were four decades ago, how much the lot of the Americans of African descent has improved and how much they still need to improve. I remember a quote from Harry Truman, which I couldn't successfully Google to confirm-"For every Negro down in the gutter, there is a white man with him holding him down." Discrimination hurts the bigots as well, as the economy doesn't grow as fast if we take efforts to crap on people who have the wrong skin color. Our country is richer today that a half-century ago because we've allowed "people of color" to move up, get educated and to do things that a bigoted society wouldn't allow them to do 50 years ago. I have a smart, godly black finance intern next door-don't tell me this would be a better place if he were manning a garbage truck, or that we'd be better of if the sweet Accounts Receivable chief was working as a maid. Thus, it is good to remind ourselves we were, to hear the "I have a dream" speech one more time; to see the godly courage of the people fighting Jim Crow; to get God a good plug by showing how critical the black church was in the cause. It isn't good to have the Sharptons and Jacksons of the world using the holiday to extort more money or plug for passage of their latest big-government plan. I'm of two thoughts on "affirmative action", translated to give minorities an advantage in hiring and college placement to offset racism. Doing nothing makes me uncomfortable; a "color blind" policy will miss some subtle discrimination (bigots are smart enough not to say "We don't hire [insert bad word] here"). However, I'm less uncomfortable with that than a de-facto quota system, which will make minorities less ambitious and make everyone else jealous. I do think that the country, including blacks, would be better of if we took the political capital being spent on affirmative action/quotas and applied it to improving education and thoughtfully directing business into poor areas that need the help. I'm a Jack Kemp-style conservative on that front; for trickle-down economics to work, you occasionally need to do some irrigation. Just make sure the irrigation project isn't pork.

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