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Coming to grips with Government's diversity fettish

by Ralph Heller

ew people have better understood the politically motivated but otherwise senseless priorities of government than Raymond Moley, President Roosevelt’s economic adviser. Asked in later years if much of the New Deal legislation hadn’t actually represented a painstakingly planned, carefully coordinated government effort, he responded with a wink:

"To look upon those programs as the result of a unified plan is to believe that the accumulation of stuffed snakes, baseball pictures, school flags, old tennis shoes, carpenter’s tools, geometry books and chemistry sets in a boy’s bedroom have been put there by an interior decorator."

As often as not, fashionable government programs represent little more than political opportunism. Is the percentage of women and African Americans in the American electorate growing and becoming more vociferous? Then it’s time to implement generous portions of the feminist agenda and to put affirmative action plans in the spotlight. In an earlier, more candid age such an approach to governing would have been called "pandering."

Inevitably, racial and ethnic diversity would be determined to be desirable in and of itself to the point that even standards of quality and performance would be subordinated to considerations of diversity. Americans were afforded a first hand look at this new order of priorities following our most recent presidential inauguration. Hillary Clinton had worn a large, decorative pin so unattractive and tasteless that a Washington Post reporter had commented on it, which elicited the following response in the Post by the pin’s designer, Judith Ripka Berk:

"It was sketched by a woman of mixed ancestry, whose father was an Afro-American professor at Amherst and (whose) mother was a Jewish pianist for the American Ballet Theater. The model of the pin was made by a first generation Greek-American. The engraving was accomplished by a Russian artisan who emigrated to the United States at the conclusion of the Cold War..."

Does it surprise anybody that a piece of jewelry made to standards of diversity rather than to standards of artistry and craftsmanship looked like a piece of junk? Indeed, few aspects of today’s diversity fetish have undermined standards of quality and been so unfair to so many individuals as affirmative action, the subject of this month’s cover story. NPRI Research Analyst D. Dowd Muska takes a close look at an instance of outrageous injustice because of affirmative action, not in some liberal New England state but right here in Nevada. When Yvette Farmer applied for a teaching post at UNR it seems she had to deal with the misfortune of having been born white. Mr. Muska reports that while Affirmative Action is losing popularity around the country, it remains very much in vogue in Nevada’s university system.

Elsewhere in this issue you’ll find articles on everything from public education and Nevada politics to government’s love of regulation and a philosophical look at the role of religion in the life of a nation. "Kinder" is the German word for "children"—and capitalized of course, since Germans are so fastidious about capitalizing nouns— and "Kinder" in "Kindergarten" tells us where educators found inspiration for our public school system, reports NPRI Research Analyst Diane Alden who adapted for publication a fascinating speech on the subject by a Nevada legislator. Elsewhere, NPRI Research Analyst Steve Miller examines what has happened to Nevada’s major political parties which seem to have less and less to do with the concerns of rank-and-file members.

Judy Cresanta turns once again in this issue from NPRI president to author with a startling look at the impact and cost of regulation in America. It appears that Americans have a choice between drowning in regulations or being suffocated by them.

On May 15 NPRI will be saying farewell to lively Nevada Journal Managing Editor Erica Olsen who is leaving Nevada to pursue further educational opportunities in Phoenix. For the last two and a half years it has been Erica, more than anyone else, who has painstakingly pulled together from near and far the various pieces of this magazine month after month.

Although an exceptionally bright young woman who managed to earn her journalism degree at UNR in just three years, she nonetheless once admitted to me that she had never seen Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, a serious confession to make to someone of my generation. But I assured her that this yawning gap in her education was not necessarily an indication of limited intelligence and probably would not intellectually compromise her future.

Erica has done a splendid job for NPRI and its members, and perhaps it would not be amiss to let "Bogey" speak for President Judy, me and for all of us as we wish her well: "Here’s looking at you, kid." u


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