Equality Singer argues that compensation and the opportunity to get Jobs that pay more should be based on need more than on ability because the ability to accomplish more demanding tasks is more often due to genetic inheritance and less to do with overcoming the challenges facing the disadvantaged who do not have exposure or access to the same resources such as books, quiet studying quarters and overall less chaos within the family.
He contends that the environment that disadvantaged people have to overcome should be a considerable factor in an effort to bring them to he same starting point as a more privileged individual who faced far fewer obstacles instead were facilitated by encouraging parent’s who made education a higher priority. He finally suggests that it may be trying to reward effort as long as it correlates to working at the highest end of their abilities regardless of what their abilities may be (Page 37).
He contends this approach would eliminate the biological differences between races or genders and level the field. The argument is equivalent to getting an ‘A’ for effort and not so much for being rewarded for ability if it is inherited. The challenge I would argue is to how to best foster an equal playing field without setting people up for failure if they are not able to meet the standards of success as determined by the education institution or corporation.
I would argue it is best to guide individuals into paths that lead to their own success based on where they have passion instead of a Job or career that could further impede their self-esteem and gratification from achievement. We have to provide affirmative action for the disadvantaged but it must be in conjunction with development and training that is made available to everyone so they feel equal cause they have achieved their goal as much as someone who was admitted or hired without being disadvantaged.
Admittedly we have many years to recompense for the injustices of discrimination and inequality simply based on profiling or stereotyping protected classes such as minorities, women, members of religious groups and people over the age of 40. Evidence has shown that affirmative action has attempted to atone for the unfair hiring or admission practices however little is done to change the attitudes of people which would in essence kill the spider instead of sweeping the webs the piped creates. If we want to finally rid society of the webs then we have to kill the spider by allowing all factors to be considered holistically for each individual.
Overcoming personal challenges is as much a noteworthy skill as is scoring high on a standardized test but there is no measure for how great a challenge is that needed to be dispensed with so the individual could succeed. No matter how much we make the numbers look good or give the appearance of equal opportunity based on effort and individual interest, we have to go further and ensure the path to success once in the position or once admitted to a school is equipped with the accommodations to make up for the inherent deficit for the disadvantaged. I recall my brother sharing a story when he was admitted to Harvard.
His professor greeted his sociology class with the profound message that regardless of the student’s last name, now big or small the income to their parent’s or now much they nave in their trust fund, they are now all equal and the expectations of every student were the same. Springer however argues that race and/or gender should be a valid a factor in the session process for hiring or admitting a candidate as is intelligence a factor. This argument appears to minimize those minorities or women who do attain admission or are hired based on their abilities, intelligence and ability to overcome adversity.
I do not think it is fair to count them as successes of affirmative action but more because of determination and motivation to face every challenge with the confidence they can be a winner. Based on Springer’s argument, affirmative action would not solve the major problem he has with inequality because despite the policy to admit or hire based on ace, age, gender or religion, not all members of these groups will be admitted or hired so there will always be a need to have standards so we know how many of the disadvantaged are no longer counted among that number.
He even admits it would take more directly to the bottom line by distributing income in order to achieve true equality. He quotes Marx, Critique of the Gotcha Program, 1875, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. ” He contends if we can achieve this utopian state then genetic factors such as race and gender would no longer be actors because they would longer be socially significant.
But this premise seems to diminish those individuals from the groups we try to give an equal start to who achieve tremendous success based on their abilities and not relying on the hope they are in the “quota” to get into a particular school or hired by a company whose hiring practices do comply with the spirit of affirmative action. At some point we have to know we hired the best candidate or admitted the best student based on all of the measurable qualities and skills needed to be much more than average.
Affirmative action has definitely provided opportunities for many who would never stand a chance without but this effort fails without the enforcement power of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which applies the risk of penalty if ratios of protected classes are not consistent with the populations in the demographic areas served by the employers. This is consistent with Springer’s conclusion expressed on page 45 where he states the need to make certain there is legislation that punishes blatant discrimination based on age, sex, race, religion, disability or ethnicity.