# Judgment Day: The Ricci Decision

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Tiassa, Jun 29, 2009.

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1. ### superstring01Moderator

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Indeed, and in this case, it was rectified by the Supreme Court.

Better, how? Easier? If it's easier for minorities, then it'll be easier for whites too. The net result will be the same. Nobody can go back in time and give the minority fire fighters a better past.

Right. The white fire fighters who spent money and time studying for this exam should have just said, "Awe, shucks, no big shakes..." and allowed themselves to be denied something they worked for and rightfully earned.

Why should they? They played by the rules and won, and when too many of the white ones won, it was determined--only AFTER the fact--that they should have lost in greater numbers because if too many black people didn't win it would make them feel sad. Boo-fricking-hoo. As you so aptly put it, "Life isn't fair."

"Merit" in quotes? What, is it too much to ask people to have the same intellectual capabilities in order to promote.

~String

3. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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30,994
Better vetted. It's right there, in my post.

It might even be the same exact exam, with enforced equality of preparation time etc. Who knows what the problem was, if any, among the many irregularities that turned up in court testimony and the many factors not examined there?
Are you claiming the white firefighters worked for, and rightfully earned, apparently illegitimate advantages on an apparently biased exam?

What has any white firefighter been deprived of here, besides an afternoon of effort on an exam that was discarded?

I agree the second exam should be without charge.
The evidence is that they did not play by the rules. And instead of arguing that they did play by the rules, demanding proof that they played by the rules (whereupon they would be granted the advantages of winning automatically), they are demanding the advantages of winning regardless of the rules.

The rules state that civil service exams should be fair, relevant, and justly administered. Whether anyone played by those rules here remains to be seen - appearances argue otherwise.

Not at all. And we can remove the quotes as soon as we know that is what the test determines - rather than, as the initial evidence indicates, membership in a favored group.
That isn't guilt by association, it's preliminary identification by characteristic. The exam is not accused of a crime, it is recognized as possibly of a certain kind, because it exhibits the major characteristics of that kind.

In most arenas, this is called "common sense".
That's a completely different issue. And it cuts the same way, not a different way.

Last edited: Jun 30, 2009

5. ### countezeroRegistered Senior Member

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LOL. That's like calling the War on Terror "overseas, multi-jurisdictional military operations -- or something.

It's bullshit rhetoric. "Preliminary identification by characteristic" ... sure, whatever.

If it's possibly of a certain kind, then build a case and prove it. Don't label it and then try to disprove the label. That's not common sense. That's turning the law on its head.

7. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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"Guilt by association" and "innocent until proven guilty" and "upending the Constitution" is bullshit rhetoric when applied to the rule-bound bureaucratic handling of a civil service exam that has produced extremely racially skewed results.

What was the term - - - oh yes: "histrionics".

8. ### superstring01Moderator

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That was my term. Counte didn't use it (in this thread, at least).

~String

9. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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Yeah, I know.

Just demonstrating the basis of its application.

10. ### TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member

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Rights should be "earned"? Is that a constitutional standard?

So we're back to earning rights? Or is that a constitutional standard?

I'm curious about your change of tack. Where were you going, for instance, with post #14? Did the facts of the case not match up with your intended philosophical approach there?

And why is the solution to discrimination to extend and perhaps even exacerbate its echoes?

They enjoyed the benefits of prior discrimination.

One of the things that amazes me is how no Republican can do anything wrong without there being a Democrat at fault. Take language education in schools, for instance. Sure, immersion works better for learning a language, but the conservative argument overlooks the reduced performance of ESL students in other critical areas, such as mathematics, science, and history. In order to make sure a bunch of "anchor babies" learn English more quickly, conservatives want to lower their performance in other parts of their education. Convenient, since it keeps the ESL students at a disadvantage, and lowers their performance in the conservative context of "merit".

And the issue about underperforming teachers is problematic if the issue is approached honestly, but I'm sick and tired of this conservative promise that, "Prove to us that you don't need more money, and then we'll write the checks." Right, like that is going to happen. The teachers can drive themselves batshit trying to compensate for underfunded resources, and if they manage to pull it off the conservatives will say, "Why should we write the checks? You're doing fine without the extra money."

Here is an occasion that exemplifies your new tack. It's a fine philosophy, albeit easier said than done. But more than that, you seem to be ignoring the response to your inquiry. One of the standards of the CRA as it applies to employment is that hiring and promotion tests should be germane to the job in question. This, more than anything else, is the NHCSB's primary error: the test didn't measure supervisory ability. Add to that the appearance of unequal distribution of study materials that created an advantage largely limited to some white firefighters. It doesn't match the law, but that doesn't matter to you, does it? It isn't fair, but that doesn't matter to you, does it?

The effects of discrimination cannot be mitigated by a conscious effort to extend them.

We come back, at the very least, to conservatives and purse strings.

What promise?

I see. When the test itself is violative of the law, and some firefighters were given a marked advantage over others, the reason they did better comes down to skin color.

It's attractive rhetoric you posture, String, but it's also racist. Anything to look past the deeper issue. Anything to extend the effects of racial and ethnic discrimination. Right?

What's that? Wrong? That's not what you mean? Then perhaps you should take a look at the effects of what you propose.

11. ### PandaemoniValued Senior Member

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I tend to believe the City was telling the truth, which to me suggests a two step process somewhat different from yours.

(1) The Justice Department sets up a guideline that says, in effect "If you conduct a test for promotions of X or more individuals, and somehow manage to exlcude all the blacks form the top Y%, then there may be something wrong woith your test, and we are going to investigate you for possible violation of Title VII.

(2) The City, which had set up such a test and obtained such a result, did not want to pay a team of lawyers $500 per hour, each, to defend their rights during such an investigation (which could easily as that is easily$80K spent on legal fees, if you are lucky and the feds decide to drop it after the investigation), said, "hey, we should reevaluate the use of this test and its suspect results."

It's step (1) that is roughly analogous to your version, save that it is framed in a way that assumes blacks (or other minorities) would perform just as well as whites, on average, in a fair test. If minorities underperform by several standard deviations, it suggests the test was not fair.

Under that view it's not about making whites pay for past discrimination, its that whites only outperformed every other group involved because someone may have already had their thumb on the scale. In other words, in that view, thes white firefighters did not "earn" their top positions, or at least not fairly, and hence that becaomes the basis for a federal inquiry to determine the truth.

The great potential whipsaw will be, now that the test is reinstated and the Justice Department has to investigate it...so what does the city do oif the Justoice Department finds the test is biased?

The lesson at least is plain, never reverse discriminate, even if there is good evidence that you have to regular old discriminate to avoid it. Reverse discrimination brings you (i) law suits by the whote test-takers and related legal costs, followed by (ii) an investigation on behaf of the black test takers and more legal costs. Regular discrimination brings you (ii) only. Actually, I am kidding, the real lesson is to make the standards inscrutable, so courts can't second guess you. For example, announce that the test makes up 50% of your overall score and the other 50% comes from "personal interviews." That way even the people who score high on the test can't complain if they don't make the grade, because maybe the interviewer just didn't like them.

Last edited: Jun 30, 2009
12. ### countezeroRegistered Senior Member

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5,590

You seem tobe trying to avoid the substance of the matter with an Orwellian term: preliminary identification by characteristic. I don't buy it. I mean, maybe you do, and you're not squirming. If so, fine. But you can't just lump something with other somethings simply because a pattern occured in the past, and I abhor the idea of calling something racist, then asking it to prove how it wasn't racist.

13. ### TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member

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Not necessarily Orwellian

I don't think it's so much Orwellian as BS—bureaucratically suitable. Perhaps the two are the same in your mind; I wouldn't fault you if they were. But "preliminary identification by characteristic", at least as I read it for the first time, struck me as a delicate and perhaps polite way of saying, "calling a spade a spade".

In this case, you see guilt by association: because it is a test that blacks scored poorly on, people think it must necessarily be unfair like so many other tests that have come before it.

Iceaura, and others (myself included), note the fact that the exam did not test for supervisory ability, and we don't settle well with the Court's reasoning why this isn't important. The relevance of such tests to the jobs they consider is a fundamental theme of Title VII and forty-five years of case precedent. We find it striking that the Court threw all that out.

14. ### superstring01Moderator

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12,110
Not so much as a change as the inclusion of other factors.

You're kidding? Right?

There are plenty of things that Republicans fuck-up all on their very own. To name a few:
• school vouchers
• prayer in school
• abortion
• DOMA (hypocritically violating their mantra of states rights)
• war in Iraq
• big oil crony-ism
• Bush's doubling of the national debt
• the trillion-dollar war budget
• and worst of all, and never discussed, the privatization of the war in Iraq

But we aren't discussing those things. We're talking (at least at this point) about the USA's horrific education system which both parties have neglected, politicized and otherwise totally destroyed.

Well the USA spends about the same as nations who have significantly better education standards and results than we do. In fact, nations like South Korea with, arguably, the best schools on earth, spend more than a full percentage less than we do. So, I can understand the reluctance.

A combination of teacher accountability, rigorous testing standards, un-desirable alternatives for truancy, de-coupling sports from schools, vocational training, and yes, more money. At the end of the day, it may just cost more money in the USA to educate our diverse and unruly children. So be it. I'm all for it.

I have. And having come to a different conclusion on the matter doesn't inherently make me a racist or whatever label you try to apply to me.

~String

15. ### AsguardKiss my dark sideValued Senior Member

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a stupid question but why is there a test at all? Why not just interview for the positions and pick the best candiates based on there suitability for the job rather than an aptitude test?

16. ### superstring01Moderator

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12,110
Because companies have been sued over the fact that basing promotions on face-to-face interviews leaves too much to the subjective opinions of the interviewing managers. In order to standardize the process, it was determined by most companies (especially those with unions) that everybody should take the same test to get the same promotion.

~String

17. ### AsguardKiss my dark sideValued Senior Member

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yet how much of the test actually relates to there work as a fire fighter?

18. ### superstring01Moderator

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I don't know. I didn't take it, nor have I seen it first hand.

~String

19. ### AsguardKiss my dark sideValued Senior Member

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see thats the bit which makes me pause about this. If it was pertinate to there job there is no way ANY court would throw it out, example if there was (and im sure is) a test for doctors which said for example what is the effects of adrenilin on a celular level, what receptors does it act on, what are its side effects, when would you use it and when wouldnt you (for reference i that was a question on one of MY exams). Ie that is pertinate to there job as doctors then there is no way a court would rule it out because its nessary.

If the courts are more interested in wether its discrimintor that suggests that the test itself had nothing to do with copitancy to do the job

20. ### TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member

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On the general, particular, and probably something else entirely

Ah, mystery factors.

No. You, Madanthonywayne, and other Republican supporters at this site, television pundits, politicians—although that's expected—and even the GOP sympathizers I know in life: One of the first things you do when a Republican is up against the wall is find some way to drag Democrats into the discussion in order to distract from the issue. Like, "The solution to this problem is as much the Republican's fault as it is the Democrat's."

Actually, you know, while the Democrats' pandering to unions can be problematic, it's not the same as the Republican mantra.

Imagine you are a metropolitan schools superintendent. Part of your job is to spend money to provide students at various schools equal education and resources. So the first thing you try is sending the same amount of money per student to each of the schools. This doesn't work, though, because there is a difference between the schools up on the hill where the more affluent—mostly white—students attend and the schools in the city where less affluent—mostly minority—students attend. Down in the city, there is a higher crime rate, so of that per student cost, X goes to campus security. Up on the hill, that number is Y. The reality is that X>Y, with the result that less is available to pay teachers and provide resources in the city than up on the hill. So then you decide, Okay, we're going to separate security costs, and spend the same amount per student on teachers and resources. Two problems emerge. First, you're still attracting lesser teachers to the city schools because they have fewer resources to work with. Even in spending the same amount for resources, the schools on the hill already have a better, more secure resource infrastructure. For instance, the affluent schools have a good network in place, while the city schools have fewer, slower, less powerful computers and a shoddy network. But you can't yet take time to deal with that, because someone is suing you: You have spent unequally per student on the city schools. Lawyers, outraged parents, and community advocates accuse you of racism because you're spending more where minority students attend than on students at the affluent, mostly white schools. So you send out your lawyers, spend a shitload of money, and beat down the lawsuit. By this time, test results are coming in, and there is still a problem. Some take the David Duke approach and say this is evidence of minority students being inferior, or simply not applying themselves as well as white students. You can't concede that point, because, well, you're the superintendent and you'll be run out of town if you explain that minority students are simply inferior. What you need, you decide, is money to equalize the school infrastructures in order to provide students equal opportunities and attract better teachers. But voters are already weary of government, and you have to fight, claw, and beg voters to approve the bond measure. And it passes by a hairsbreadth. Guess what? You're about to be sued again, because you're spending money on infrastructure at the minority-populated schools that you're not spending at the white-populated schools. So you take some of the bond money and spend it on infrastructure improvements at the white schools. Only, now you've improved the white schools beyond the equalizing line you set to catch the minority schools up to. On the one hand, at what point do you just say, "Fuck it, I resign." To the other, you still haven't fixed the problem because the new advantages at the affluent, white-populated schools perpetuate the disparity in the results.

Round about and round about and round and round and round about. And round about and round about it goes. By the end of your career, people are saying, "It's been twenty years, and the lazy minorities can't make the best of the advantages you've handed them. Why are you penalizing white people, you racist?"

But ... and here's the kick in the sac: You still haven't fixed the problem. At this point, you're hip deep at least in something I mentioned earlier: One of the problems with the merit argument put forward by some conservatives is that it would extend and possibly even reinforce disparities coinciding with racial and ethnic lines over the course of two or three generations.

And, just to bring the point 'round to the original issue, which of the arguments you would face are liberal, and which are conservative?

What you're dealing with is a problem that transcends a single generation. As with the firefighters in particular, so with communities in general: When minority communities recover enough from the effects of past discrimination that they are equally represented in diverse aspects of society, so that the affluent communities aren't so predominately white, and minority races and ethnicities have a generational foundation to rely on, then you can say, "No more. We've done all we justly can. You must necessarily stand on your own two feet now. We can no longer in good conscience continue to play at compensating for perceived differences."

This is the problem liberals see. The conservative response is to sacrifice the general for the sake of the particular. So a school on the hill doesn't get the same raw number of dollars for infrastructure upgrades. Tough shit; that's not the point. The point is to achieve a level playing field before leveling the playing field. If you draw the line today and say, "Everybody ... go!" you're going to perpetuate the disparities that are the direct result of past injustice. Have we achieved equality, or have we achieved something and decided to call it equality? Yet almost everyone agrees that equality is the last thing we might say we've achieved. Liberals see the general inequality and say, "We must do something." Conservatives look at the particular inequalities that occur and say, "It's so horrible!" But the result of favoring the particular over the general is that society will still be caught up in a cycle of inequity.

Lots of people like to boast of their own achievement. "I did it. I worked hard. I didn't need the state to compensate for me." Yes, but many of those worked hard in advantageous endeavors. Because of past injustices, proportionately fewer minorities have the tutoring and extracurricular activities that help students excel. Last year, I was listening to a story on NPR about the state of the family. Normally, I use this example for that, and not this. I mean ... er ... yeah, work with me here. They were talking to parents and children about what the kids are up to, and it was actually kind of horrifying. One nine year-old was explaining her two musical lessons each week, her tutoring sessions for math, her karate lessons ... the horrifying aspect was that this poor girl would have to pencil in fifteen minutes to do the sort of nothing stuff that kids do, like wander around in the woods or look at the clouds or go jump in the river for the hell of it. And, yes, they talked to minority families as well, but it would be irresponsible to conclude from that small sample that blacks (accounted for, as I recall) and Hispanics (not accounted for, as I recall) are on par with Asians and whites. Proportionately fewer black and Hispanic children have such busy, expensive schedules. Proportionately fewer black and Hispanic children go to computer summer camps and the like. Yes, these white kids are working hard, but in a certain aspect, that's beside the point. When the deprived minority communities achieve equal representation in these endeavors, then you can call off the compensation. If you do it sooner, you will only perpetuate the imbalance.

The sooner we get this part of the recovery over with, the better. I would hope we could agree on that. But I'm not sure, because what you're advocating appears to be calling off the recovery before it is finished.

Noted and appreciated. To the other, though, I would simply note that sometimes it feels like pulling teeth. It feels like conservatives have to be cornered on this point before they make a token gesture and pretend they've always been saying it.

If I skip comment on this point, it's not that I'm ignoring it. Rather, I think I picked it up in the prior section.

Would you work under the conditions, laws, and cultural presuppositions of South Korean labor? That is, would you reduce your standard of living in order to match their efficiency? This isn't just the schools, mind you. It's manufacturing, retail, foodservice, distribution, transport ... everything. Yes, I think Americans are generally decadent, but there is a limit to what I'll give up, or ask anyone else in this country to give up.

I remember a friend, at the Jesuit school, on the verge of tears because she pulled an A- in a class. That seemed absurd enough, but at the time she had her sights set on Colorado Springs. Eventually she underwent a dramatic change in her aspirations. Instead of following her father into the Air Force, she decided to teach. Point being, while the difference between the Academy and Central Washington University might seem dramatic, the one thing she didn't do was kill herself over a "bad" grade. The Japanese make very good students in terms of performance, but their social outlook is harsh, and they are still dealing with an increasing problem of "academic" suicides.

My father taught for some years before becoming a college football coach and then moving into sales, manufacturing and ... well, it doesn't matter. At one point, he taught biology and physical education. The phrase "un-desirable alternatives for truancy" makes me nervous in a certain sense, because one of the things he will still try to explain to people if it comes up is, "If I had thirty kids in class, twenty-eight of them wanted to learn. But the two that didn't want to be there could wreck the whole lesson."

Depending on what your alternatives are, I might disagree for that reason. That aside, I can only raise a glass. There are complications, of course. I'm a believer in the idea of a well-rounded education, and the most apparent method of achieving that in combination with vocational focus would be something akin to having a major in high school. And that's a sketchy proposition.

Your conclusion, as I understand it, would perpetuate the effects of racial and ethnic discrimination. And all, it seems, for the sake of a particular here and there to the detriment of the general. And that does seem racist. Doesn't mean you're trying to be racist, but the outcome is what it is.

The conservative outlook, in general, is not foreign to me. I grew up in the middle of it, being taught to believe it. And for me, it just didn't work. But yes, I can see it, and to a point I can sympathize. As I understand it (and as I explained to Iceaura above): Liberals appeal to ideas pertaining to society; conservatives appeal to ideas pertaining to individuals. The broader struggle of people in a society is to reconcile those two aspects.

It's not that the appeal to the individual escapes me, but rather that I've been there, done that, and it just doesn't work for me. It's like one day a scientist might look up from his microscope and say, "I've done it! Look at what I've done! Uh ... where is everybody?" If we focus to closely for too long on individuals, we might look up one day and find that everything else has fallen away. Human beings have selected as social creatures for a reason. We must accept this fact, understand that reason, and figure out where to go from there. And that's why the sacrifice of the general for the sake of the particular seems so discordant to me.

The Universe is the Practical Joke of the General at the Expense of the Particular, quoth Frater Perdurabo, and laughed.

21. ### countezeroRegistered Senior Member

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They come close.

That's where we would differ.

I don't think something should be identified within a past context, simply because it might be more of the same. If it's judged racist, then throw it out. But don't label it racist to begin with and then work backwards.

As I said earlier, I've seen something similar with nearly every attempt to update voting codes and so forth in the South. They are all immediately labeled "racist," because of the past, and then the proponents have to prove how they are not. And this is all before the suggestions have even been voted on or implemented. It's a ass-backwards way of doing things, and it places unrealistic -- and some would say, politically impossible -- criteria on whoever makes the final call. In other words, once the R-word has been throw out, good luck fighting back from that.

And at this point, you are over my head. I didn't follow the case and don't know the particulars. All I have commented on is the idea of labeling and then working backwards.

22. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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You are describing a civil service exam as if it were a defendant in court, facing incarceration. Histrionics.

It's dead accurate, concise, and exactly the substance of the matter. Orwellian?
You are going to be lumping anyway, there is a default assumption involved regardless, why not make one that fits the known patterns and present circumstances?

Why would we assume the test is not biased, with results like that and the pattern of such exams well established in the US?

It quacks, it waddles, it's feathered and webfooted, and you complain about taking it for a duck pending inquiry. Guilt by association with other webfooted quacking waddlers of the past? Or are we expected, then, to pretend there is no pattern?
If you have ever seen a major media (or even internet forum, if any "conservatives" or "libertarians" are present) discussion of any of those things without someone almost immediately bringing up and focusing on Democrats and their similar doings or complicities, you've seen something I haven't.

23. ### countezeroRegistered Senior Member

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The issue is likely to be a legal matter, so I see no problem using legal terms, rather than making up something, as you have done.

Sorry, I don't agree.

Yes. Orwellian.

Because it boxes you in and leads you places you don't want to go (also see my response to Tiassa). To put one example to you, consider applying your above language to WMD in Iraq prior to the War:

1. Past behaviour of Saddam (pattern)
2. Current behavior fits with that etc.

Now, I don't want a debate about what was done there, but surely you can see how going on past patterns and making assumptions limits the hypotheses you investigate and taints the investigation before it even begins.