Professor Caleb Rosado's article on Affirmative Action (May) has such a glaring omission of the fundamental purpose of Affirmative Action that I am impelled to respond publicly. The basic purpose of Affirmative Action was to allow all qualified and competent persons to be eligible for consideration.
Alas, it has gotten lost on the shoals of role models, ethnicity, sexual preference, skin color, to the extent that competency for the job (or contract) is lost in the kaleidoscope of attempting to "level the playing field."
White women, whom Rosado states were "the greatest beneficiaries," are so because many of them had the qualifications, competency and knowledge, but had formerly been excluded by sex. Rosado suggests that "staggered starting blocks" may be in order, but I counter with the observation that the race may start in this fashion, but the distance to be traveled is the same. White women did not need "staggered starting blocks"; all they needed was the chance to enter the race.
I do not care about the skin color, sex, ethnicity, age or sex of the engineer of the bridge I am going to use for my transport. I do care about the competency, knowledge and training of that engineer.
The same goes for the contract to build the bridge. I want the best bridge to be built. It isn't built to provide role models or to "level the playing field."
The competencies we need should be built in the educational system. Opportunity there for the best of educations for all American children is where we need to make the approach - not worrying about the so-called "diversity" grids when we award admissions, scholarships, contract, good jobs.
America needs all the qualified, well-educated citizens it can get. Our public school system must respond to the challenge. Much needs to be done. Children of color often do not have the opportunity for good schools. Girls are sometimes without the aspirations to use their abilities, and ethnicity can be a hurdle to educational opportunity.
Affirmative Action has taught us that there are many who could be the bridge builders and engineers, and we want the best. It's the availability of equal opportunity for education for all American youth which is needed - not preferential treatment based on sex, race, ethnicity or whatever.
Kathryn L. Corbett
Professor emerita, Humboldt State University
I wanted to send a note of appreciation for your supportive articles and gallery listings. The May issue features several memorable pages; particularly the photographs of Ellen Land-Weber, the Ruth Canaway article, and Leslie Meriwether's Healthwise, with special mention of Greg Rumney's cover photo. Three cheers for another successful issue!
Humboldt Arts Council
Lisa Ladd-Wilson's "Quiz" (June) implies there is no difference between Liddy's "Head Shot" remark and Ice-T's "Cop Killer" recording. Not so.
1. Liddy said it once. Gangsta rap repeats the message over and over.
2. Liddy prefaced with a situation involving home break-ins without a search warrant. Ice-T suggests cop killing - period - no excuses.
3. Talk radio supports law enforcement agencies at all levels. Supporters of gangsta rap call it an ethnic art form.
4. Thousands of hours of talk radio do not once suggest bombing - media accusations to the contrary. Yet Ladd chides (actor Charlton) Heston and (President) Bush for objecting to a film industry that glamorizes bomb-setters in movies like "Speed," "The Specialist" and "Blown Away."
End the word games, Lisa. We know who is concerned with criminal brutality, and who frets over police brutality.
I'm sitting at my computer in New Jersey - the most densely populated state in the Union - dreaming of the things in nature I miss most: redwood trees, earthquakes, crashing surf and those clear, blue, mild, sweet smelling days that in my experience occur nowhere but along the coast of Northern California.
There aren't many evergreen trees here, no earthquakes, few clear days and a pitiful surf, but as I "surf the (World Wide) Web," I find a bit of the North Coast has come to me.
It's not the same as thumbing through the print edition, but what a joy to get some news from the North Coast way back here. So, as long as you'll let me, I'll be dropping in now and then to find out what's going on in my favorite neck of this country's woods.
Normally I agree with Ron Ross' views. At least I have for the last 30 years that I have known him. I respect his knowledge of economics and it is very difficult for me as a layman to offer an opposing view. However, on the issue of minimum wage I feel I must offer a different perspective.
If I were still employed by a large corporation, I would have no basis for disagreement. Especially since larger employers tend to have well-staffed personnel departments that do salary and wage comparisons and know what they have to pay to keep qualified employees.
In these cases minimum wage is a moot point. There are seldom very many minimum wage jobs, except for part-time or temporary help.
However, since I've returned I've had the opportunity to work for several small, individually owned companies. In these companies employees are often paid at or near minimum wage.
If Mr. Ross' explanation were correct in reality, as well as theoretically, these employees only have an insufficient value in the labor market. Otherwise they could move on to better-paying jobs.
But the truth of the matter is, in my opinion and based on my observation and experience, almost all of the people are adding value greater than the minimum wage. But the owners, who are all self-made successes, seem to feel that the less they can pay an employee, the more profit for them. They really don't care or know what the employee contributes, and they are very willing for the employee to quit and go elsewhere. They do not seem to recognize the value of a loyal, long-term employee.
These owners aren't Mr. Scrooge, personified. Nor are they mean individuals. They just seem to compare everyone's worth with what they used to make 30 years ago. Since they really don't survey other companies and compare wages, they have lost touch with reality.
For this reason maybe President Clinton is correct in proposing a higher minimum wage. Although the proposed minimum wage still isn't much more than a welfare recipient draws, it may be the only way numerous employees will ever get a raise.
Charles A. Bertalot
Retired accounting supervisor, Amoco Corp.
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