Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I really don't see how this is necessary:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/20/national/nationalspecial/20affirm.html

Apparently the Labor Department has granted exemptions to its usual affirmative action policies for contractors who are working on rebuilding storm ravaged portions of the Gulf Coast states following Hurricane Katrina. They say that the measure is meant to clear up bureacracy and allow companies to "jump right in" and start helping with rebuilding efforts.
But wouldn't it make sense to try to employ some of the poorest, most disadvantaged people who lived in the region- people who were effected the most in the first place? The economic boost provided by employing some of the Gulf Coast's most economically damaged victims might be worth the effort of encouraging out-of-state contractors to hire minorities (especially in New Orleans, where more than half of the population is black), even if the process involves a little more bureacracy. I don't want to sound too hippie, but isn't it worth a little bit of "red tape" if we can help rebuild some of these people's lives and help them return to their livelihoods while we work on repairing broken buildings? At least in the case of New Orleans, to cancel affirmative action requirements for contractors at this point sends a message that a bunch of white guys are going to get wealthy off of rebuilding a city that was once populated largely by minorities. Suspending affirmative action sends a message that a bunch of white guys will be amassing their fortunes by way of a tradgedy that befell the New Orleans community, and that the large minority community which makes up much of the population of New Orleans is not meant to be part of the rebuilding effort. Furthermore, it does not appear that the federal government sees the employment and financial recovery of this damaged population as a priority. This is the message that some evacuees are sure to read in the governement's actions, and when you see the rebuilding effort as an opportunity that someone has made built upon your misfortune, it doens't feel like help for very long. It feels like exploitation.

By the way, I hear that Bush is cutting fair wage laws during the recovery effort as well. The theory is that these companies can do more to help for less money if they don't have to pay their laborers as much. I wonder how many CEOs are taking pay cuts in order to help out the recovery efforts?

It is so late. Does any of this make sense? I need to go to sleep.

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