Here’s a quote from the Mad House called Open Borders:
Imagine how mad you’d be if you even overheard someone with the cojones to actually say this in an interview! Someone claiming that a mere accident of birth that they had no control over – and for that matter places them in a category of substantial relative privilege – should entitle them (and it’s entitlement they’re claiming, make no mistake) to a job over a person that doesn’t have these purely unintentional qualities, but is equally qualified, harder working, and in greater need of the job would rightly make your blood boil. And if you think that would make you mad, imagine how much angrier you’d be at an employer who actually accepted that rationale and gave the job to this horrible person!
Let’s add one more to the list, shall we?
6. “You should give me the job because I was born in this country, and the other person wasn’t.”
Wait. Wait a minute – that one didn’t raise the hackles on the back of your neck, did it? In fact, the part of you that adapts to your society as a whole found that to be downright reasonable-sounding, didn’t it? Something’s definitely wrong here. Some essential wiring has been installed incorrectly. Say any of the first five things on the list in a job interview and not only can I guarantee you that you won’t get the job, but you’re very likely to start a physical fight with someone that overhears you. But say the sixth thing, and not only does it sound perfectly rational, but you sound like a damned patriot. They elect to public office people who say things like that. Of course, being the rational person that you are, you came through this little thought experiment realizing the truth: That if you can’t rationalize desert based on accidents of birth, then that applies to ALL accidents of birth.
Let’s take this example: “You should give me the job because I’m more attractive than the other person.”
Imagine that you were hired by company X to interview applicants. One applicant gave the above reply. In contempt, you exclaim: “But what does that have to do with anything?!” The applicant responds: “This is a modeling agency….” If this happened, hopefully you would be chagrined. Why? You would originally have been morally outraged out of disdain for capricious and fickle selection — a disgust at the senseless. When the context was realized, however, the feeling would have dissipated as you recognized that the applicant’s response was perfectly rational given the company’s stated institution goal of making money; attractive models are an asset. You would have felt embarrassment for not considering this possibility. But, of course, if I explained the logic of native discrimination — that it makes sense given the institutional goal of a nation i.e., the well being of nationals — you would not be chagrined at all. Because you feel that the institutional goal itself is bad.
Now let’s back up and imagine that you knew nothing about your two interviewees. So you ask: “Tell me why I should give this job to you instead of the other candidate, given what you know about that person.” The interviewee replies:
0. “You should give me the job because I happened by accident of birth and circumstance to be more talented and so can better accomplish the job.”
And you think: Whoa, sounds pretty bad. We should tar and feather people in our society for saying that sort of thing.
But, in fact, you don’t think this. But why? Why is aptitude discrimination seen as legitimate yet not other forms of discrimination? Of course, the answer is: because this type of discrimination is seen as advancing legitimate goals. Those goals include being e.g., an economically competitive corporation. But the question is begged: why are other institutional goals seen as illegitimate?
But seriously, how many people have you fought over the 4/5th rule? None, I’m would imagine.
As for adverse impact, like affirmative action, I appreciate the logic. For whatever reason, people in the U.S. value diversity. That’s an institutional goal. As such, businesses and academic institutions are backhandedly forced (when they don’t do so willingly) to discriminate on account of race, ethnicity, and sex. If not, we would see far fewer Blacks and Hispanics in the Ivy Leagues, etc. To many people that would be a national tragedy.
Now, I don’t care for the practice myself — mostly because I don’t care for the rationalizations given (e.g., Ginsburg’s), but also because diversity so understood doesn’t ring my bells. However, I don’t pretend to not appreciate the logic. And when I argue against these policies, I do so narrowly — mostly against silly rationalizations, sometimes against this type of diversity as a goal for this particular country. I surely don’t work myself up into lather about what people do in this regards in e.g., the U.K. Compare this sensible approach with your zealous one — which leads, as said, to a reductio ad nil.
This all calls to mind a passage from Mitchell Heisman’s Suicide Note:
“Death is the biological fulfillment of the promise of equality; equality with the non-biological, physical world. Materialism beyond individualism leads to the equality of dirt and humans; consistent treatment between nonhuman and human worlds. The end logic of equality is the overcoming of all life boundaries, all distinctions, and all separations until Singularity or death.”