Sep 25, 2011

The Bake Sale Affirmative Action

Every so often, spurred on by ignorance that is increasingly being revered as a badge of honor, some young members of the Republican Tea Partyand it is somehow always the members of the Republican Tea Partystage a bake sale at some college.

A recent such event was held at the great liberal bastion called UC Berkeley. Nah, I am too lazy to cite a link this time, that is what a search engine is for. You should work to find that, if you care.

If you are not familiar with such an event, it is traditionally a veiled, but increasingly an overt attempt at denigrating those who are ostensibly "profiting" from Affirmative Action just because they possess skin color, ancestry, or even gender that in centuries or decades past were targets of discrimination.

The goods like pastries or cupcakes are sold with a tariff that resembles

White/Caucasian            $2.00
Asian/Asian American    $1.75
Latino/Hispanic             $0.75
Black/African American $0.50
Native American            $0.25

The consequences are predictable. Many are outraged, hurl obscenities, allege denigration, and charges of racism. On both sides. Others, and I am yet to see any in this group that are not members of the Republican Tea Party, are cackling. "Why do you think this is racism, and Affirmative Action is not?" AM Radio, Cable News, blog sites argue this for a while, tempers flare, and after a few days the brouhaha dissipates only for the scenario to repeat a few years later, and it'd seem with increasing frequency.

OK, so what is Affirmative Action? Again, I'll leave you to do your homework, but it essentially refers to measures enacted by law to redress the disadvantages associated with overt historical discrimination towards minorities and women, an oppressed majority. JFK was the first President who initiated such measures to deal with the inequities being suffered by the blacks in his time, LBJ and others expanded on the principles, and over the years other minorities have been added to the list. So now Affirmative Action is used to redress race-, gender-, and ethnicity-based grievances.

While it is arguable whether Affirmative Action has been successful, the notion of comparing Affirmative Action to aforementioned bake sale is worth examining. The bake sale simply assumes that life started equally for those staging the sale, and those buying at the sale.

For an apples-to-apples comparison, the bake sale entrepreneurs would have to first seize the land of those getting the discounted price. Then they'd have to use their involuntarily indentured services to grow the raw materials, and bake the pastries. For free. They'd then have to reap profits and amass their wealth for a few generations, enriching themselves, while simultaneously depriving the minority of the buying power to even purchase the finished goods themselves.

Repeat this for a few generations, carefully preserving the inheritance of the land, the oven, and the free labor, and then when some of the noble ones in your feudal empire sense the immorality, and free the slaves, you declare parity, albeit grudgingly.  That is, from that point onward, everyone is to be treated  equally. Sounds good, does it not?  But what about the seized land, the generational injustice, the lack of opportunity and the deprivation of all property? By building your lucrative business with free labor and raw materials in the past, and passing it down generation to generation, your progeny is able to even have a bake sale today.

So if you were to do it right, you'd have to pay the ones getting that discount to take the pastries from the bake sale!

Even those who were not in possession of these farms, baking equipment and labor, i.e., those only slightly unfortunate at the womb lottery, in that they were born into the majority but were not bakery owners, not beneficiaries of the slave labor, were better off since they were getting paid for whatever else they were doing when not being deployed into involuntary servitude at the bakery.

I do not wish to address how Affirmative Action has or has not been the resounding success some had hoped to be, or whether it is even viable, or what else could be done, changed, etcthat's a topic for another day. But to equate it to racism, and further insist that it is somehow demonstrated to be so by such bake sales is clearly misplaced.

Equating the bake sale to Affirmative Action is tantamount to calling the three-fifths clause an tax subsidy for the job creators.

The stupidity in the pricing is not be ignored either. What they are saying is that if you are a Native American, you are worth only an eighth of a Caucasian. Additionally, if you have a vagina, you are infinitely less worthy when compared to a Caucasian. That is somehow supposed to convey racism/bigotry?

Actually it does, just not the way the bake sale organizers intended.

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