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Another problem with bigotry

It's economically inefficient:

During World War II ... The Army needed warm bodies to throw at a dubious boondoggle that they hoped would make supplying China easier, and so they sent battalions full of black troops who had been drafted — but who weren't allowed to fight or do much else — to build a road. Think about that. The Army conscripted men who were doctors and mechanics and engineers in their civilian lives, but because of its policies, couldn't find much use for them in wartime besides having them crush rocks in the jungle. There are all manner of compelling moral and ethical arguments against codifying inequality, but there are obvious practical ones as well: institutions that do so are wasteful and inefficient.

Future generations are going to think it mighty strange that we fought wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan with a volunteer military, stretching it so badly we had to put stop-loss orders into effect, and yet we left don't-ask-don't-tell in place.

For more on the World War II story, read “Now the Hell Will Start” by Brendan Koerner.

By Ezra Klein  |  July 27, 2010; 3:34 PM ET
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You wonder why there are no comments? This "article" is beyond stupid... Your a joke.... You leftists are the racists.. Thats why you mention racism in every second breath... your ideas are idiotic and you have no other argument than to call the opposition racists... Your a clown! Crawl back into your hole!

Posted by: 2010Rout | July 27, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Discrimination is economically inefficient -- Gary Becker said that a long time ago (well, 1957 or so); see, for example,

Posted by: bdballard | July 27, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

2010rout , i know that facts upset you, and your palin loving kind, but deal with it .

Posted by: newagent99 | July 27, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

On the other hand, isn't it equally inefficient to select a colloge applicant with lower test scores based on race?

Posted by: pemlewis | July 27, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

But isn't it proper, in the mind of Ezra Klein, to have a majority determine the rules every minority must follow?

It's not possible to argue in favor of absolute majority rule in one breath and in the next argue that discrimination is wrong: if a minority is never allowed to speak or to act, it lacks a real opportunity to become the majority.

Posted by: rmgregory | July 27, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

pemlewis, it depends. The WWII analogy involved people with ready and necessary skills whose skills were not utilized because of racism. Rather than have more doctors, the army used them to build roads.

If you've got a society where some minority class of people have not been historically able to develop their talents because of race, and that has resulted in a cyclical system whereby another majority class consistently is afforded advantages, then it might increase efficiency over time to try to encourage more minority training and participation.

Posted by: MosBen | July 27, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

2010Rout: Actually, everyone calls everyone else a racist with every second breath, now. Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and now even Andrew Breitbart call as many people racists as Sherrod or Pelosi or Conyers or Rangel or Olberman.

Although I think there is a difference when regarding sexual orientation versus race, particularly when talking about a large number of same-sex soldiers in close quarters for a long period of time. It may be an non-issue, but to pretend to be bewildered as to why anybody, anywhere, might have an objection is sorta like playing dumb. I'm sorry, but, really, none of you can understand why somebody might have a concern? Really?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | July 27, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

This is one of the key problems for capitalism. Racism is, in most models, a stable and non-optimal system. Libertarians will argue that if you are an employer who hires the best people for all jobs, your company will have more success than a company which does not, and so racism will be wiped out. This is an overly simplistic view of racism.

Say I'm starting a new division in my company. I need to hire a manager and 10 employees. If the population of the location is 20% black, 50% white and non-racist, and 30% white and racist, then, when hiring the manager, I will prefer hiring a white manager because hiring a black manager, even one much more qualified, will restrict my possible employee pool more than if i hire a white manager. Even if I am not a racist myself, capitalism punishes me if I act in a non-racist way, rather than rewarding me.

Posted by: binkytom | July 27, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

The arguements above seem to be economics. So, how big a problem is this *really*?

Last year about 350 members of the military were discharged under don't ask oput of a military force of 1,400,000.

This is not the huge problem advocates make it out to be for the military.

I don't think an economic arguement is genuine. I think it's a ruse.

Posted by: WrongfulDeath | July 28, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I know, I know, it's a troll, but these two phrases back-to-back are just funny:

"You leftists are the racists."

"you have no other argument than to call the opposition racists."

Clearly, the dude's a racist.

Posted by: dpurp | July 28, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

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