The negative consequences of affirmative action are well-known (to anybody who wants to know) but sometimes we can benefit from it as well. We assume that, when a person is hired for a specific task, it would be good if he performs his task well – but there is an exception to this rule: cogs of government apparatus, whose jobs are designed to make the rest of us miserable and otherwise persecute us. It is sometimes better if they do their jobs poorly.
On my return from one of my vacations, I realized I had a couple of large water bottles in my carry-on luggage. Waiting in line in security, I noticed that the person in charge of the x-ray machine my luggage was about to pass through was an overweight black woman. I thought to myself, “if she is well-trained and cares about her job, those two water bottles will be obvious to her and she’ll pull them out, at which point I’ll say I’d forgotten about them”. I reasoned that since this person is likely an affirmative action employee, her skills are probably inferior and she’ll miss the bottles – and so it was. Others might think: “she allowed a dangerous substance onto the airplane; he could have drowned somebody with that water if he’d poured it into a large bowl and then held the victim’s face under it. Of course he is not a terrorist but I shudder to think what carnage a terrorist might have wraught with that water!” My attitude was a bit different: “I drank that water to assuage my thirst and it was good.”
On another occassion, I had to help a relative acquire a state I.D. card from the D.M.V. There were irregularities, in the spelling of her name, that might have raised a red flag. Furthermore, there was another technicality that might easily have thwarted our efforts and then things would have gotten hairy. As we waited in line, I noticed that all the clerks were white except for one tall young black man, whose cranial capacity seemed deficient in relation to his body size. He appeared clueless and I hoped we would end up with him – and so it was. He did notice the spelling irregularity and asked about the extra “apostrophe” in one of the documents. I answered him matter-of-factly “oh, that’s only a diacritical mark; it’s nothing”. Indeed, it was nothing of importance but there is no doubt that he had no clue what a diacritical mark was. As for the other documents, he didn’t even look at them. Within five minutes, we had our document. Yes, we had probably benefited from affirmative action/diversity in this case. A more knowledgeable or conscientious employee might have caused us serious grief.
Of course, even in government positions, we sometimes prefer that employees actually do perform their jobs well. We generally want good cops, firemen and park rangers. It really depends on the case in question. We want what works out best for us each time. An overabundance of laws, regulations and government agencies already guarantee a certain degree of chaos. Add in affirmative action and we’ve got even more chaos. As a result, it is anybody’s guess how a visit to a government agency will turn out. Even though, in both of the above situations, things turned out well for me, I would have preferred that the outcome was positive for different reasons. I would have preferred that there was no rule against bringing water on to an airplane to begin with and I would have preferred that all the D.M.V. employees were good and competent people and that the one who gave us our document did so because he trusted me and allowed me to explain the situation. It should not be necessary for me to pull an “idiocracy” on a borderline retard.