De-Banking & Affirmative Action: Current Events with Stephen Hicks and Richard Salsman

July 19, 2023 00:59:10
De-Banking & Affirmative Action: Current Events with Stephen Hicks and Richard Salsman
The Atlas Society Presents - The Atlas Society Asks
De-Banking & Affirmative Action: Current Events with Stephen Hicks and Richard Salsman

Jul 19 2023 | 00:59:10

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The Atlas Society Current Events Panel: Join Senior Scholars Dr. Stephen Hicks and Dr. Richard Salsman on the 161st episode of The Atlas Society Asks, for an Objectivist perspective on recent headlines, ranging from the "de-banking" of individuals for having the wrong beliefs to the SCOTUS affirmative action ruling.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello everyone, and welcome to the 161st episode of the Atlas Society, asks, I'm Lawrence Olivo, associate editor with the Atlas Society, the leading nonprofit teaching young people about the ideas of Iron Rand in creative ways such as through our Atlas University seminars, graphic novels, and creative social media content. Today we are joined by two of our senior scholars, Dr. Steven Hicks and Dr. Richard Salzman, who will be discussing several topics relating to current events. In the news today, some of the topics that we'll be trying to cover will be the de banking of controversial FI figures, along with the recent SCO to this decision regarding affirmative action at Harvard University. We will also try to save some time near the end for audience questions, or we'll try to sprinkle in some questions during the conversation as well. So please, no matter what platform you're on, zoom, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, put your questions in the comment section. We'll try to get to as many as we can. Now, to start things off, I'm gonna pass things over to Steven so we can talk about the de banking of controversial figures. Speaker 1 00:01:18 All right, thanks for that, Lawrence. I'm gonna put up my, uh, PowerPoint. I just have one image on this topic. What I thought with your, uh, uh, agreement, Richard, is, uh, I would introduce this topic, you say what thoughts you want, and then we, uh, go to audience participation and spend some time doing q and a rather than saving everything for the end. And we'll just see how lively, uh, lively a, a topic, uh, a topic this is. I agree. Good. Sounds good to you. Yeah, it's very good. Thanks. Alright, sohow from the beginning, just so this fills up and so on. So, the context for this, this is a, uh, a British, uh, uh, uh, piece of journalism that caught my attention and led me to, uh, to think about it involves a, uh, a, uh, well-known British politician, public intellectual named, uh, Nigel Farage. Speaker 1 00:02:08 And you know, what his particular, uh, political views are. It's not particularly, uh, relevant here. There's a more general point that he is a controversial figure as he's been on the frontline of, uh, British, uh, politics and, and public intellectual discussion for any number of years. And so he is, got strong admirers, but then also strong detractors and, and many outright haters. And what occurred, uh, uh, was that, uh, his bank, uh, said that they were no longer going to allow him to bank there. So they basically shut down his accounts and, uh, in fact, fired him as a, as a, uh, as a, as a customer. And this then, uh, uh, led to a great deal of discussion about what the implications this has for civil society, for the nature of our public discussions, and then particularly for people who are well known public intellectuals or of course, celebrities of various sorts, uh, if they, uh, can be, in this case be banked, uh, if, if banks then say, we're not going to allow you to have bank accounts here, obviously, that puts the person's personal finances in, uh, in disarray. Speaker 1 00:03:17 So we have another, uh, variation on cancel culture, uh, cancel culture started inside the universities rather than having a liberal, uh, ethos where we're going to have widespread debate and lots of different, uh, viewpoints out there. And, uh, uh, guest speakers and professors from all over the ideological spectrum, debating and talking about everything, a movement to a de platform or just not allow certain views and certain representatives of, of certain views to, uh, to be part of the university. And so, uh, uh, in this case, this is now, uh, uh, that ethos spreading to banking. Now, what makes this an issue is that in western culture first, now, a couple of hundred years ago, with the rise of early modernism, as we got into the enlightenment, there was a huge push to get, uh, to, uh, a position of social tolerance with respect to all of the flashpoint issues that human beings always get worked up over. Speaker 1 00:04:17 Of course, these are issues we should get worked up over religion, politics, ethics, and so forth. But, uh, uh, for, for, for many centuries, of course, Europe had a tradition of great intolerance. And it wasn't just political intolerance, it was social intolerance. You're of the wrong religion, right? You are coming from the wrong family. Uh, you are, uh, uh, hold political views that I find anathema. Therefore, I am not going to engage with you socially. Uh, and of course, if I have any political influence, I will try to get you <laugh> put in second or third class status politically. But it's this, uh, issue of social tolerance that Western Europeans first. And this says, as the enlightenment spread, as Westernism became a more global ethos, a principle of tolerance, uh, with respect to most of the open to the public institutions. And so what happened over the course of the 1718, uh, and on into the 19 hundreds, was the idea that when we are say lawyers, my first question is not going to be with respect to clients. Speaker 1 00:05:25 What is this person's religion? Or what are their political views? If I am a physician, I will treat all patients no matter what their religion, their politics, or where they come from in, uh, in society, uh, when we are, uh, doing business, uh, in the stock market. Rather than saying, I'm only going to deal with other Baptists, or I'm not going to deal with the Muslims and said, I will do business with anyone. Uh, and there was this very famous quotation that became the emblem for, for this, uh, from, from Voltaire, uh, when Voltaire was in exile, he was in England, and, uh, you know, checking out all things, uh, British and, uh, and, and widely admiring of what the British had been able to accomplish. And for a Frenchman, he was especially struck when he visited the London Stock Exchange. And what he noticed there was that even though religious hatreds had been baked into European culture for centuries and reformation and counter reformation war, uh, and all of the unpleasantness was still a alive memory for, uh, everybody on the European continent, you notice at the London Stock Exchange, right? Speaker 1 00:06:38 People who were dissenters would be doing business with Anglicans, and they would be doing business with Catholics and doing business with Jews and doing business with Muslims. And so the idea here was we're going to in effect park religion at the door. This is an open, uh, liberal space for doing business. And that should then be a model for more, broadly speaking, all of our professional spaces. So, lawyers should be tolerant, physicians should be socially tolerant in business. We should be socially tolerant. We see this as a, as professional sports became more prominent in the late 18 hundreds on into the 19 hundreds athletes as part of their, uh, their, their professionalism, but then also part of their ethos. They will participate in sports with members of other nationalities, other ethnic groups, other religions. They will set aside politics at the end of the event, I will shake your hand, uh, uh, and so forth. Speaker 1 00:07:36 So the idea then is we, uh, want to encourage this ethos of, of, uh, of tolerance in all of the open to the public spaces where we're going to go about our business. And so what we then have is a, uh, uh, um, a, a, a signal, uh, uh, uh, transformation or this one act then seems important because everybody is connected in, uh, in banking. And everybody <laugh> needs to be able to do banking to function in the modern world. And so we have a fairly prominent British bank signaling that we are getting away from this universal tolerance. We are going to inject ideology into our banking decisions. And in effect, they're sending a signal to the market. We're only going to do business with people within a certain portion of the ideological spectrum. If you're not, you are, you are, you are out. Now, I wanna say, uh, politically, I think, uh, you know, the, the bank is perfectly within its rights to fire any customers it wants, for any reason that it wants to do so. Speaker 1 00:08:37 I'm not making a political point here. The question that's an interesting one is the scope of tolerance, uh, that we would like to have in our kind of non-political, uh, uh, uh, social, social institutions, uh, uh, so that politically have exactly the rights to do so. But is this a good thing to do socially? Now, at the same time, you want to say fine, uh, you know, people have some range of, of, uh, uh, you know, where their tolerance is going to end. There are some people who are just so bad by your lights, you know, mass murderers, pedophiles, terrorists, and so forth. And if you find you're doing business with those individuals, it's quite proper to dissociate from them. And, uh, in a, in a free and open society, people should, uh, uh, uh, expect that different individuals are going to draw that line in different places. Speaker 1 00:09:32 But this, uh, strikes me as not simply that because Farage, uh, in this case is, uh, within the Overton window with respect to contemporary British culture and politics. Uh, uh, and so whether, uh, individuals inside the bank should then make it a matter of banking policy with respect to other British citizens, in this case, that we're not going to do business with this sort of person. And of course, what then that is going to mean is that other banks will then, of course, respond by saying, well, then we will open our doors, especially to people of this ideological persuasion. Then we're back to, you know, different banks for different, uh, members of different political parties, different banks for different religions, and so forth. So drawing that line is an interesting question. Now, what I am focusing on, though, in this case, is a political response to this very interesting question about social tolerance. Speaker 1 00:10:23 So here we have a British politician whose response to the Farage Institute was this, uh, in, uh, incident, rather, was to introduce a law, uh, to say that what we will require of banks is that they not engage in this ideologically intolerant behavior. So banks are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of ideology. Uh, and so in this case, uh, that bank, if, uh, uh, you know, it would probably be grandfathered in, but from the the point, if this law gets passed going forward, banks would not be allowed to take a person's ideology into account. Now, this strikes me as a problem. Uh, I think the social drawing the line place is an interesting scope of tolerance question. But I think this is, uh, an inappropriate political interference with what is a cultural problem. Intolerance in this context is a cultural problem. Politics is about the use of force. Speaker 1 00:11:26 And whenever possible, we do not want to try to solve cultural problems with political force. And the reasons for that are going to be, I think, rather obvious, right? One is that if we're going to make this a law, any law is going to require enforcement. And if, uh, the only way the laws can be enforced in this particular case is for politicians, then to set up some sort of investigatory unit that makes it part of its business. That anytime banks are saying yes or no to customers saying yes or no to various kinds of deals, the, uh, the government bureaucracy has the right indeed the obligation to make sure that no ideological considerations went into that. And that then means we're going to have much more robust political interference in, uh, banking decisions. So, obviously, the banking industry is already quite regulated and quite scrutinized, but it's is going to be one more bureaucracy and one more level of scrutiny. Speaker 1 00:12:25 And then the other thing that's the obvious point, I think, is that, uh, this then is just going to turn it into a political football, because what counts as appropriate or inappropriate ideological scrutiny, which ideologies are favored or not are going to change in a democratic republic with, uh, each changing of the guard or religion. And so banks then are going to have to be changing their policies, and they're going to be subject to different kinds of scrutinies and different kinds of bureaucratic decisions, depending on who the administration is in power. And I don't think we want to go down the road of turning banking even more into a political football than it already is. So I will, uh, pause there having introduced what I take to be a very interesting, uh, uh, issue about tolerance politically and socially. Speaker 2 00:13:14 Steven, I just wanna say briefly that I concur with your interpretation of this. I, we didn't talk ahead of time and, uh, being in the same philosophic realm, I was predicting that we might come out this way. Yeah, I'm troubled by this as well. I think it's a very disturbing trend. The whole cancel culture thing is disturbing to the extent it's targeting, uh, you know, decent people. But we've talked before about, I, I have never had a problem with targeting, isolating, denouncing, you know, people of terrible views or terrible actions. And, and I, I think you're right that this falls into this category of the whole cancel culture. But the idea of mandating that, um, certain institutions not do this is a real problem. And it does tend to be, I don't know if we can classify it this way, it tends to, does tend to be a, a conservative response to this. Speaker 2 00:14:06 Um, I think there's so many cases we saw with social media where alternatives developed if you felt like you were being excluded from Facebook or Twitter or elsewhere. Um, there are alternatives that are available possibly way more today than ever before, including in banking. So that, I think that's another consideration. But, but even if the, even if the, uh, options were limited, you, we cannot go the route of the government mandating that, uh, private, um, entities, you know, be forced to deal with certain people. But I like your idea of j j we really need to get back to a kind of lockean society of the tolerance, not only of religion, but of different views. But that has to be something by persuasion, uh, rather than mandate. Um, yeah, that's all I'll say about that. I don't know if you have any questions, uh, Lauren? Speaker 1 00:14:55 Yeah. This, I, I have no problem, uh, with ahead of time, you know, if a bank says, you know, we want to be, I don't know, the, the, the Muslim American bank, right? And, you know, we only want to deal with, uh, with Muslim cultures, or we want to be the Greek American bank, we're only going to, uh, do Greek business and, and cultures with Greeks or Right. Or whatever. As long as your policies right. Are are clear. Yeah. Uh, and it's not a matter of, uh, intolerance, just that you want to have a, a market specialty, right? And potential dealers know, well, if I don't fit that demographic, I'm just not going to see you as a prospective business partner. But if, uh, we have an institution that's already based on essentially a liberal, uh, tolerance ethos, yes. And purely for ideological reasons, we wanna undercut that entire ethos, I think that's a disturbing direction for a bank to go. Speaker 2 00:15:48 Another, another aspect of this is boycotts. I mean, boycotts have been around for centuries, I think that named after a British person actually named Boycott. Mm. But there, uh, the counter to that recently, which I thought was very clever, was boycotts. Uh, this happened with, with a company. The Goy was a Goya beans who backed Trump, and then people criticized them, and then, uh, backers of Trump bought more Goya beans than they ever bought before. So the counter to the boycott was the buycott to support, to support. So these kind of things go on. There's nothing, there's nothing wrong with that. The other thing I think of Stephen, as, you know, that there are in the law, uh, public accommodations and public asset access mandates, you know, at the lunch counter and stuff like that, but they're based on if you open up a pub, if you open up to yourself to the public. Speaker 2 00:16:36 Supreme Court ruled on this recently, actually with a web designer who said, well, I, I, I will design websites, but I don't want design websites for L G B T community. And, and the the left criticize that on the grounds that you're supposed to be open to everybody, even if it violates your, your principles. And the Supreme Court said, no, the web designer has a right to reject. And I think that was the right decision. But notice the category is never, you have a right to reject, you know, based on the ideology of the customer. Uh, it is usually based on race and other things. So, so from the other side, there is another group saying, you must serve customers, you know, that tends to be the left. And so they have a getting consistent position as well. Um, but at least it's limited to things like race and, and other seemingly non-essential aspects. Mm-hmm. I don't know what you think of, what do you think of that? The public accommodations mandates? Would we get rid of those as well? Um, Speaker 1 00:17:32 Uh, I, I think so. Yeah. Uh, I don't, yeah. If you're going to be open to the public, yeah. You still have the right to say how open to the public and which sections of the public you are interested in being open to. Speaker 2 00:17:45 Right? Right. You're not really open to, Speaker 1 00:17:47 I have no problem with, uh, you know, you know, colleges being open to the public, but we're going to be a women's only college, or Yeah, right. Only college. Right. Or, yeah, I'm, you know, I'm, I'm offering a housing space, but only for people over 65 who are retirees, right. Or Right. This is only for kids. So, you know, all of those age issues. Yeah. As long as you're, you're clear about what your principles are, go for it. Now, it might be that behind that the person has an irrational or immoral reason for doing so. Yes. But, uh, uh, that's something you'll criticize morally, not politically. Right. Totally agree. Yeah. So, uh, are there, do we, uh, spark any questions, Lawrence, I'm wondering or comments from our participants? Speaker 0 00:18:29 Yes. We've gotten, uh, a good number of questions from Facebook and YouTube. So y I've pulled a couple of them over, so we'll try to go through, uh, some, now, any that we don't get to now, we can always come back to closer to the end. Uh, the first one here comes from Wyatt five 16 on YouTube, asking, aren't aren't banks under some level of duress with D E I and E S G policies in deciding which customers are too extreme for them to be working with? Richard, you've got a whole talk about h g in the past, Speaker 1 00:19:06 You know, so the, so the, the, the active verb there was duress. Does that just mean like social pressure or does that mean, uh, political pressure or something in the middle? That if you're gonna get certification from some, uh, important board in your industry, you have to abide by certain regulations? I'm not, I need a little more clarity on the duress part. Speaker 0 00:19:29 Well, hopefully, uh, well, I can provide that, but I, I think probably where that is just coming from, maybe duress isn't really the word, but it does seem that certain companies want to have that E S G rating or that higher score. This is something that we can see online on, on websites. Like, if you get a higher score based on these ratings, it will help you when it comes to this, uh, stakeholders, they'll, they'll be more inclined to support your company. Speaker 1 00:19:58 Right. So then I would say there's, there's going to be a ano just a two front, uh, discussion that could and should go be going on. What is going to be with respect to a bank, uh, if we take the bank, in this case here, if there is some sort of E S g uh, rating agency, let's say it's not a government right now, uh, and it wants to be able to, uh, uh, it would like to rather to have that E S G stamp on, its on its resume, so to speak, then it has to make a business decision about whether it is principled enough to say, we don't agree with that rating agency's principle, so we're going to fight back, or we're not committed to our principle in this case enough, strongly enough, we would rather have the E S G. So that would be an internal discussion for the bank to, uh, to go on. And the other level of discussion is going to be inside the E S G certifying agency. Uh, where is it going to draw its lines about, you know, its particular Overton window, by which I mean, how it defines the range of acceptable opinion. And, uh, if we are going to be in a liberal open international culture, it should be a pretty wide window, uh, uh, and, uh, uh, uh, we should probably just reserve outside the window for clearly, uh, uh, criminal and, and extreme cases of criminality. Speaker 0 00:21:21 Great. Uh, I will just sort of tack on, Wyatt did respond that he's referring to political and social pressure. This seems to be more in regards what he's saying is, we saw this happen with social media companies. Now, this might be more in reference to sort of the Twitter files where it's sounded like government was sort of actively kind of pressuring social media to take certain actions. But I guess the question would be, are banks having that sort of pressure impressed on them? I don't know if there's been evidence to prove that. Speaker 1 00:21:52 Yeah, I, I don't know. I would be surprised if it's not happening. <laugh>, uh, given the degree of oversight and regulation and, uh, uh, behind closed doors, conversations that go on between government officials and, and members of the, uh, of the banking industry. But, uh, just on on general principles, political pressure of that sort, I think is, uh, is immoral and should be illegal. Speaker 2 00:22:17 I'd like, I'd like to just make a quick observation that the clarity that Stephen brought to this when he, well, just right there where he said, we're distinguishing between, is it moral? Should it be illegal? Is it political? Is it social? I think one of the great tragedies of what we call the mixed system that we have today, uh, not pure liberty, not pure stateism, but a mix is, it clouds these kind of issues. If we were able to do, as we're doing here, but it's not commonly endorsed, be able to say, well, this is a private institution that's a public institution. Government should be forbidden to do this. But private in institution should be able to, when you say that to people, it strikes them the wrong way. They think, you mean private institutions might be discriminatory, exclusive, irrational, and effectively, although we advocate rationality, we're effectively saying, yes, people should be free to be irrational and let others boycott them, deal with them, not deal with them. Speaker 2 00:23:20 And that rubs people the wrong way. But, uh, but I think the main difficulty is, uh, people do blur these two realms. They don't think of these two realms as distinct as we do. I think of this often comes up in cases of public education, you know, there'll be disputes over whether to teach, um, evolution or, uh, intelligent design or some kind of religious conception. And the fights go on and on and on. And when you back up, you realize, well, these are philosophic fights, but they're also a fight because there's a singular curriculum mandated by the government. And if there were not public schools, then people would go their separate ways and develop different schools, and there wouldn't be a lot of fighting. Mm-hmm. So, I just wanna make this observation to back off a little bit, you know, 30,000 feet and say, why are these disputes, uh, seemingly unresolvable? I think part of it is cause we have a mixed system of, of freedom and controls Speaker 1 00:24:15 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and while yeah. Everyone dislikes the politicization of it, they're not, in many cases, willing to give up on the politicization for the exactly the reason you were talking about in the banking, the discrimination case, right? Mm-hmm. The, uh, strong religious, uh, uh, intelligent design. People then say, well, yeah, if we back away from the, uh, political fight, then that means in the so-called free market of education, uh, evolution is going to have free reign. Right? And, and people will get hot. And then the people who, uh, think evolution is, uh, scientific and, uh, creationism is ridiculous. Whereas, well, that then means people are gonna be free to, uh, indoctrinate their kids in, uh, creation. So we have to be political about it. Speaker 2 00:24:54 Yeah. Yeah. I think Stephen, also, you mentioned the, you know, if the culture just generally is in decline regarding, um, toleration, um, I, I think another aspect of this is if, if it's true, you know, postmodernism book suggests this, a decline in respect for just objectivity and persuasion and rationality and convincing, generally these kind of tactics, canceling, debiting, isolating, but strike me as more intimidating. Mm-hmm. You know, it's like, I can't win the argument, therefore I'm gonna starve you. Mm-hmm. I'm gonna cut you off from your financing. I'm, you know what I mean? It's, it's strikes me as a more intimidating, although not strictly physicalist, it's not strictly <laugh>, you know, uh, shackling people. But, um, I don't know. What do you think about that? You know, it's not really, it's not really an Speaker 1 00:25:48 Argument. That's exactly right. To the extent, uh, postmodernism and other, uh, close, close intellectual movements have had an influence on education. And then on the more broadened color, it does mean a coing of the discourse. Cuz if you think, you know, there is no such thing as truth and objectivity or rationality, then you're going to have a whole generation of people who don't try very hard <laugh> to seek truth, to be objective, to be rational and so forth. So they're not going to be as good at it. Which means when we have contentious issues, uh, they're going to then be more easily frustrated and more likely to resort to course and semi physicalist responses. Speaker 2 00:26:31 Yeah. The trend also in the corporate realm, uh, I think it was in 2019 at the conference board, a major corporate board said, we, uh, really are against the idea of exclusively pursuing profit and the maximization of shareholder value. So the whole stakeholder model, the idea that we should be serving things other than the owners, an array of special interest groups. So, so it's no longer the case that there are these two realms, namely ideological, academic, uh, you know, the intellectual versus the business world. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, the, the two have melded now. So that the c e O might well conclude, and the CEO suite might well conclude, well, uh, if we exclude the, uh, these people from our banking relationships, uh, it may actually hurt us commercially. Mm-hmm. Uh, but that's okay cuz that's not our main priority. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I think that's making it easier for these companies also to cave to pressure. I mean, companies have always caved to pressure, but, but I think they seem, they feel more warranted in caving because they've been told for years by, in law schools, in business schools than elsewhere, that moneymaking in the bottom line. Namely, all we care about is the color of green. Not any other issue. That's no longer the case. So the, so they're prone now to these kind of pressures, and I think the, the critics know this. Mm-hmm. So, so the D Bank, you see what I'm saying? That that's just <crosstalk>. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:27:55 Yeah. Speaker 0 00:27:57 All right. Well, uh, we're gonna switch over to Richard's topic next, but I do want to get in this one last question, which, uh, Steven, you already kind of partially answered, but I thought I'd bring it up here. This is from Candace Morena on Facebook who asked, how do you respond to people saying we cannot be tolerant of intolerance? Mm mm Speaker 1 00:28:17 Uh, yes. So that, that's a great question. Uh, <laugh>, uh, and I think immediately one has to make a distinction between tolerance, uh, in a political way and tolerance in a social realm, uh, political tolerance. When that concept became important in the 16 hundreds and on into the 17 hundreds, particularly in our battles over religion, meant that we are no longer, uh, going to have religions trying to use the state to impose their religious views, or we're not going to have the state or the government using religion to try to, uh, get its political way. We're going to separate those two. And that then means that the government needs to be universally tolerant with respect to anything, uh, with respect to, uh, to religion. That is to say, we're not going to use political force on, on those issues. And then that gets extended to commercial areas, to other walks of life as well. Speaker 1 00:29:12 Now, social tolerance, uh, means, uh, uh, that you are going to put up with, and part and parcel of having a liberal kind of open, democratic Republican society is people are going to have lots of freedoms. And when you give people lots of freedoms, they're going to believe all sorts of things, and they're going to adopt all sorts of lifestyle choices. And that means built into, uh, that sort of open society is a necessity that most people have a strong dose of tolerance. Uh, otherwise you are saying we're not going to have, uh, uh, have a society. I'm only going to deal with people, uh, who I'm exactly agree with on everything, 100%. Everyone else I'm going to be, uh, adversarial with respect to, and that's just not going to, not going to function. So, uh, what I wanted to say is absolutely we should be intolerant of intolerance among our government officials. Speaker 1 00:30:10 Their job is to be neutral with respect to any, any, any, any, uh, any, uh, any, uh, uh, particular demographic or any particular view in society. But when it comes to tolerance, uh, uh, and intolerance in society, we have to have a wide scope of tolerance. And that includes, uh, being tolerant of people who, as long as they're behaving in a, uh, on a social issue, are themselves in intolerant. So if in a society there are people who say, I have my religion, I hate members of all other religions, that I'm only going to deal with my members of my religion, that's a very intolerant person. The rest of us nonetheless need to tolerate that person. That person is not, uh, using political means, in fact is just isolating himself or herself from the rest of society. Uh, so yes, so there's going to be a lot of tolerance of the intolerant on social issues, but zero tolerance for intolerance among our government officials. Speaker 0 00:31:14 Okay, perfect. And now I see we're a little bit over the halfway mark now. So we're gonna transition over to Richard's topic. Now, Richard, there's been a few things that have been shaken up now with the Supreme Court. There's still a tussle with I know, student loans, but you specifically today wanted to talk about when it comes to affirmative action. So please take it away. Speaker 2 00:31:37 I did. Thank you very much. And the case here, which was decided, uh, the ruling came down at the end of June, is students for fair Admissions. That's the group, that's the plaintiff versus Harvard. There's a, an similar case versus unc, uh, the main difference being Harvard's a private institution, and n c is a public school also, uh, Jackson, the most recent appointment to the bench, uh, recused herself from har the Harvard case cuz she went to Harvard. Now, uh, that's the only reason they were split up. But basically the decision which is against affirmative action in college admissions at these two schools. Now, and I don't know if that's narrow enough for you, but the way these things are written, the implication is this is a broader ruling against affirmative action. Generally. It's a complete reversal of precedent. So it's very, very important and I think, I think it's good news, but it's a mixed opinion. Speaker 2 00:32:35 I just wanna tell you why it's mixed and why we should, uh, pay attention to it for the good and bad elements of it. But it's a six to three in the case of U N C six to three. And in the case of Harvard, six to two decision mostly by conservative versus, uh, non-conservative, I hate to call them liberals, but on the side of rejecting, uh, admissions policy being race-based is, uh, Roberts and Thomas, Clarence, Thomas Alito, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, and Barrett, uh, the three against were sodomy, Kagan and Jackson. Now, I just wanna say this case began in 2014. That's how long it takes some of these to work their way through. And, uh, so that's what, seven or eight years. And hearing that I thought, I wonder what the makeup of the Supreme Court was back in 2014. Of course, this is pre-Trump, and Trump got three nominees on the court, and three of these nominees just in contributed to this decision. Speaker 2 00:33:37 So the fact is, this decision would not have come down if it was decided, uh, in 2014, 15 or 16 before he got elected, which is itself kind of interesting. Elections have consequences. Presidential picks on the Supreme Court have consequences. Um, the three that he put on the court voted in this way. So the vote would've gone three six instead of 6 3 8 years ago. That's just as context. Now, here was the contention of the plaintiffs, and by the way, there were about a hundred amicus briefs filed. Those are, uh, friends of the court briefs. One third of them were for the plaintiffs saying, get rid of affirmative action and admissions. But interestingly, two thirds of them, uh, were against, were for keeping it as is one of the main, um, economists doing the field work and the data work on this was from Duke, uh, who I know the professor. Speaker 2 00:34:29 And interestingly on the other side, a professor from, uh, Berkeley, uh, looking at data. Now, what was the contention? The contention is largely that because Harvard, uh, tries to create a student mix, which is not just grade-based or letter recommendation based or extracurricular activity based, those are some of the criteria used in admissions, but race-based and what they call personality based, the argument was if they mostly went on academic credentials, then there would be far more Asians accepted into Harvard and U N C and generally other schools than there are now. So the major claim was that Asians were being discriminated against. And this is interesting and different from prior cases, and I'll go through some prior cases on it. Uh, affirmative action, uh, in, uh, admissions policies. But all prior challenges were from white people. And so they, it was rejected on the grounds in prior cases, partially rejected on the grounds that whites have nothing to complain about. Speaker 2 00:35:34 I think there was actually some, uh, traction here and purchase because they were Asians complaining. Now, Harvard's response is, we don't only go by scores and we do want a diversity of, um, students on campus, and that should be our prerogative. And race, they admit race is one of their considerations. So they would take in more, they admit, take in more blacks and Latinos, all else equal than they would Asians. But their view is that's only one of, you know, four or five different criteria. The court basically said this violates this procedure, having raced anything to do with admissions violates the 14th Amendment. Uh, so that's a constitutional violation, certainly something the Supreme Court should opine on. But also they cited Title six of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Now the 14th Amendment, if you look at it, doesn't actually refer to race. The 14th Amendment is the one of the three, um, post-Civil War amendments. Speaker 2 00:36:39 And the, basically the 13th, 14th, and 15th, the 13th basically gets rid of slavery. The 14th says, um, every citizen, every person doesn't mention color shall, uh, receive equal protection before the law. So you can't discriminate against anybody. And the 15th Amendment gives the right to vote, or basically says the right to vote cannot be, uh, prevented to. Now, this does mention color, um, based on color of the skin and race that's in the 15th Amendment. That's not what's been cited here. It's the 14th Amendment. And the 14th Amendment simply says, no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, nor deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws. So, um, and here's the language, by the way, of the 64 Act, no person. Speaker 2 00:37:37 This is crucial to government funding. No person in the United States shall on the ground of race, color, or national origin be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance, unquote. Now, if you, uh, those of you not familiar with the 64 Civil Rights Act, it was basically passed because the South was still persisting in discrimination in voting and various other things. But it enshrined unfortunately, affirmative action. It, it permitted, uh, a kind of conscious, even though this provision is in there, that's just for funding. If you get funding from the government, you can't use race. But it also has racial quotas kind of built into it and permit permits it. So the affirmative action has been on the table, so to speak, allowed, endorsed as a remedy. Now, to the extent it's restitution, it's an act of justice. Speaker 2 00:38:40 If you could really prove that it was remedying past, uh, f uh, evils like slavery, uh, maybe you can make a case for it. But the argument is you have current people being penalized for the sins, uh, of their ancestors, which is unjust. Now, this came up in 1970, just to give you context for this on what the Supreme Court has overthrown and why it's so huge, and I'll talk about the implications for the areas. In 1978, a medical school admissions, uh, application from a guy named Allen Bakke to the medical school at Berkeley was rejected. And he learned that it was on the grounds that he was white, that the, that there were racial quotas. There were only a hundred students taken in that year, and he found out that there were racial quotas requiring that some of the a admitted be black and their scores were inferior to his. Speaker 2 00:39:32 Now, he went to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court is, is known for this not being very principled about it. They struck down the particular method used by Berkeley, but they did not strike down affirmative action generally. So that's, so they kind of split the baby on that. That was Justice Powell Powell was a Nixon appointee. So there was the Powell Court headed by a Republican nominee. That's what the decision was in Bakke, B E K K E. Now, fast forward, very interestingly, 2003, another major affirmative action case, and again, this is it strictly having to do with college admissions. This time it was the University of Michigan Law School. And this time the majority opinion was by Sandra Day O'Connor. Sandra Day O'Connor was a Reagan appointee. So another Republican appointee, uh, in 2003. And a similar kind of deal was struck that the particular technique used by Michigan was wrong. Speaker 2 00:40:28 But affirmative action itself was still okay. So you see the precedents rolling on and it's moving on, and it's still there. But interestingly, interestingly, San Trans Day O'Connor in that opinion said the following, we expect that 25 years from now mm-hmm. The use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest, uh, in student body diversity that we've approved today, unquote. Isn't that interesting? Here she is kind of admitting this isn't really right. And I'm hoping we grow out of this <laugh>, but I'm not. Uh, but we're not gonna do it now. We don't have enough. We either don't have enough support or we don't have enough context. So, uh, well, 25 years after that would've been 2028. Here we are five years earlier than this. And lo and behold, it really has been struck down and out. Now, uh, part of the problem, I think here, and part of the defect in this is, um, it's, it's something Steven and I were talking about in the prior segment. Speaker 2 00:41:31 If technically in a, a free society, if a school, uh, wants to discriminate e even if it's an irrational form of discrimination, as I would consider race and other non-essentials to be, they are free to do so. But we don't have that system today. We have a mixed system today where the government feels the need either to condemn or not condemn these procedures and do the hairsplitting. Um, even Roberts in his majority opinion, said something like, uh, well, it isn't as though race cannot be brought up in an admissions, but it should be brought up in the essay written by the student. And the student should be, now he's telling the student how to write their admissions letter, which is crazy, that's right in the decision. But they should show how race has challenged them and has made them, you know, fit to be a diverse citizen on campus. Speaker 2 00:42:25 In many ways, it goes, this decision goes too far and kind of micromanages what the admissions policies and procedures should be. Uh, nevertheless, I I just wanna let you know that, that this is how the decision came out. And as to the reaction of this, obviously Harvard and U N C objected, but they said they would follow, they would follow the ruling as to how they'll implement. The ruling letters went out to, I don't know, 150 colleges from the winner, the legal firm, and the special interest group that won this, you know, pressing the case, uh, reminding them they should change their policies. I, I, I don't think they're gonna go the root of, you know, having the admissions documents not mention your gender, your sex, your race. I mean, to the extent that's still on the admissions, I don't know if that will lead to that. Speaker 2 00:43:14 So it's truly colorblind. But the dissent in students for fair admissions versus Harvard Jackson, so Sotomayor and Kagan, all of them said the colorblind approach is impossible. The court is going back on decades of social justice. You know, you can imagine the kind of arguments they were using. I think it, I think it's ironic because at least in the case of Sotomayor and Jackson, they were both, both basically the presidents that nominated them. The president's named affirmative action as a reason to put them on the court. In the case of Sotomayor, a Latino woman in the case of Jackson, a black woman. This is not my I interpretation or conspiracy theory about it. This is what these presidents said, I think in the first case, Clinton. Secondly, in the case Biden. So, um, I, my interpretation of this is, I am glad to see this, especially in a context of the last few years where we've had c r t, uh, critical race theory arguing that America is systemically racist, systemically, meaning it's, it's embedded in its institutions and laws and constitu. Speaker 2 00:44:23 And I don't think that's true. So I think that's been a kind of smear on the American system. And I think the Supreme Court in deciding this way is basically saying, well, if there's any systemic racism, this certainly would be an example of it. What used to be called reverse racism, affirmative action in, in Ayn R's famous essay on racism, which is in the virtue of self. You might wanna revisit this, uh, written in 1964 around the time and written, because the Civil Rights Act was being proposed, and the March on Washington occurred in 1963, she specifically addresses affirmative action. She doesn't call it affirmative action, but in the tail end of that essay, she got some very interesting pages on what she calls racial quotas of, which is effectively affirmative action. And, you know, you can imagine her view, the consistent philosophical view. You do not fight racism with racism. Speaker 2 00:45:14 And she specifically refers to the great virtue of being colorblind. And, uh, so it's a very nice passage, a very nice essay. I think I'll leave it at this, perhaps the most, uh, interesting follow-up applications. This will be, uh, will it go beyond Harvard and unc? I think the argument is yes, it will go on to other college. Will it go beyond the universities into corporate and other institutions, namely, can affirmative action programs in corporate hiring, in corporate promotion, in, in a whole bunch of other areas, not just corporate, but, but here we have the academic life, but what about the commercial life? And other li is, is the Supreme grant going to use this? Is, is this strong enough and principled enough and broad based enough to eventually apply across the board? Um, I, I hope it does. But my main, my main concern is that we're still mandating that private entities act in a certain way. And I'm uncomfortable with that. But that's just what we talked about the first segment, Steven, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. I'll stop, I'll stop there. Speaker 1 00:46:18 Okay. That's perfect. Cause I, uh, wanna have just a couple of, uh, comments on this issue here. Uh, after the, uh, Supreme Court decision was announced, there was a, uh, a major national survey done of Americans attitudes with respect to race. And so all of this issue, uh, right, you mentioned C r t about, uh, basically everybody is a racist and racism is baked, baked into Yeah. The system and the institutions and so on. I found this very encouraging. This, uh, question was put to do you approve or disapprove of the Supreme Court's ruling on affirmative action and, uh, uh, it didn't matter what race, what gender, uh, there was a majority, uh, of Americans who were in favor of the decision, in effect arguing that, uh, uh, the Supreme Court in the case, in this case, its principles are in alignment with what's going on in the general culture. Uh, even, uh, uh, uh, racial and ethnic minority groups. A majority of the members of those groups are opposed to race-based affirmative action. So in that sense, it's a sign of a healthy culture that at least on the, on the, uh, the non-political elements we are making, we're making good progress as well. Speaker 2 00:47:34 Steven, before you leave that notice, the age breakout though, on the very trust, strongly approve. Yeah. Uh, the older people approve of it more than the younger people. Yeah. That's interest. That is interesting. Speaker 1 00:47:45 Yep. That's right. And, uh, also level of education is going to be, uh, yeah. A factor there as well. Okay. Yeah. So, uh, culturally it's going to be an ongoing issue, but seems like the, uh, we're moving in the right, the right direction. Now, this is the, the general population. One other thing I wanted to mention was that the New York Times, uh, published a long article in the wake of the, uh, Supreme Court decision disagreeing with it. Yeah. Significantly. And there was one very important, uh, interesting feature about it. Someone went through and did a word count of how many times Asians were mentioned, how many times whites were mentioned, how many times, uh, Latinos were mentioned, how many times black, uh, Americans were mentioned. And in the entire article, um, uh, Asians were almost not mentioned at all, Speaker 2 00:48:35 <laugh>. Speaker 1 00:48:36 Wow. Uh, whereas, uh, there were a dozen or more mentions of Latinos and even more mentions of blacks and a few mentions of, of whites. So what's interesting is that even though this was a Supreme Court case, and the primary issue is whether this leading institution is discriminating against Asian Americans Yes. Or not, yeah. The New York Times is not a addressing that particular issue. Instead it is pivoting to a discussion of Latinos, uh, or Hispanics, but then to a much greater degree black Americans. And then this then I think is indicative of a certain mindset of what we, you know, when we start thinking about left liberal, uh, progressive mindset, that, uh, and this is where we have to start doing some interpretation here. Yeah. If you're not addressing what is the central issue of the case, but uh, focusing on something else, that something else is what's really on your mind. Speaker 1 00:49:34 And what this indicates to me is one possible hypothesis is that for those who are in favor of affirmative action, they are not opposed to discrimination, even though there's lots of, um, against discrimination language. But they are fine with the discrimination if it is against, uh, whites, as you mentioned, the Bki case, uc, Davis versus Baki. Yeah. 1978. Yeah. Uh, that was fine from this perspective. In the case of the University of Michigan Law School. Right. That was a white plaintiff. So the discrimination was fine, right. In that case. And in this case, uh, Asians were clearly being discriminated against. Nobody argued that they were not. That is fine. So if it's not racial discrimination, that is driving the thinking on those who are in favor of affirmative action. What is, and I think what we then have to say is that the affirmative action is intended to target groups that may or may not be racial groups, but are still at the low end of various social spectrum. Speaker 1 00:50:40 Yeah. And that we are fine with treating people as members of a group, not as individuals who are going to get in on their, on, uh, on according to their merit. So there is a collectivism that is driving this whole thing, but we are fine with sacrificing members of the stronger group if we think that's necessary to benefit the weaker group. And that is a textbook form of altruism sacrifice. The stronger the better off those who have been successful. And from this perspective, whites and Asians have been very successful. So it's okay to sacrifice them if it is for the benefit of a perceived to be weaker group. So it strikes me that, uh, it's accidental in the thinking here, the racial issue, that what's really driving this is a kind of collectivism and a kind of altruism in the direction of just elevating any, uh, group that you think is not doing very well to a more equal status. That's the, uh, that that's the issue and not so much racism. Speaker 2 00:51:40 I think that's an excellent point, Steven. And, uh, the, the data on you hate to group these people by race the way it's done, but the performance of the Asian population has just been fantastic. Higher income, higher education. Yeah. Real great work ethic, family coherence, all that kind of thing. And you're right, it's, so, they are not, that doesn't fit the narrative of, um, a group that seems to have been victimized, but certainly it's a race. And if America is systemically racist, why aren't they also racist against Asians? They seem not to be. So it goes unmentioned by the New York Times. That's a really good point, because the case was so distinctly about that group. And then, not to mention that group kind of is a litmus test of what you're focusing on. Uh, Speaker 1 00:52:24 There's also a kind of related issues that if it's about, you mentioned earlier, reparations or some sort of historical justice Yes. The kind of amnesia at work here, because clearly Asians as a group have suffered all sorts of discrimination Yes. In American history. Yes. But none of that counts. Right. That gets set aside. So for some reason, those who are in the so-called progressive category there, there's a historical amnesia there or dismissing of that history, but also they don't feel guilty about the discrimination with respect to Asians in a way they feel guilty with respect to other groups. Right. And that asymmetry is also interesting, the why the guilt is, uh, one-sided and not <laugh> more general. Speaker 2 00:53:09 There's a tangential aspect to this. I don't think it's a, it is a secondary issue, but I think it's still worth mentioning. Uh, this comes up a lot. It's worth noting. It, it is really quite an injustice to have this kind of system to the extent when some favored privileged group does well or someone in that group does well, there's a question in the general public as to whether they earned it or not. Mm-hmm. And that's always, uh, kind of hung over the head of anyone who, uh, is in these favorite groups. So they achieve something, achieve something on their own, but their achievement is somewhat clouded by the suspicion people have, wait a minute, did you get that job? Because of affirmative action. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, so I'm hoping that to the extent affirmative action fades away or moves away, there's less of that at least. Yeah. By, by the way you mentioned reparations. I found in my research that some groups are starting to suspect that this might be applied to reparations movement and, uh, squelching it by the way, squelching it, like preventing, cuz that's obviously picking up steam as well. But that in these principles could be used to bar reparations, um, uh, the reparations movement generally. Speaker 0 00:54:22 All right. Perfect. Thank you for that, Richard. Now we're coming down here to the last four minutes. Uh, I do wanna try to get to at least, uh, one other question, maybe two if we have the time. This first one, Richard, this comes from Alex Morena on Facebook, who asks, what do you think Harvard's next, next steps will be? He kind of touched on this, but he asked, will they try to find another loophole to try to attempt affirmative action? Or might President Biden try to push something through executive order like he's trying to do with student loans? Speaker 2 00:54:54 Yes. I think there are already steps being taken to sidestep this, to reword things, to do it in a different way, but it'll be difficult to do. But, but one, one response I, I noticed, I think this was in the law school that not only at Harvard, I think it was done at Yale as well. Now get this, if you think, well, the way they got this data is they gathered s a T and LSAT scores and showed that the Asians did better. So what do you think Harvard's response would be? Uh, you don't have to submit test scores anymore, <laugh>. So it's just, you know, it, it's, it's, it's a way to get around it so that wow, if the test score data aren't there, uh, of course that would make it, I think, even harder for Harvard to know who they're taking in. But if they go that route and there was some suggestion that they'll go that route, you know, to me that just lowers standards further for the furtherance of this, uh, racist angle on their part. It's, it's mind boggling, but perhaps not surprising Steven. Uh, they seem to want to evade it without being illegal. Yeah. They're not gonna, they're not gonna lose funding over this. Right. If they continue to have quotas, uh, I doubt they would face the loss of funding. But have you seen any other responses other than this kind of resistance of Speaker 1 00:56:12 No, we just know in general principles, uh, universities have lots of clever people and they have lots of clever lawyers. So they will <laugh> uhhuh <affirmative> according to their ideological presuppositions, uh, whatever they can to try multiple variations, which is, you know, and it comes back to our, our our, our constant refrain, which is that, uh, this really is a philosophical issue. Uh, are we thinking of people as individuals? Uh, do we believe in merit? Do we believe in achievement? Do we believe that, uh, there should be, uh, standards of, uh, colorblind justice and objectivity as possible? If we have a widespread culture of that, yeah, affirmative action will go away and we'll have a healthier culture for it. If not, we'll carry on the way we've been going. Speaker 0 00:57:00 All right. Speaker 2 00:57:01 I saw a couple of like hysterical react kind of catastrophic reactions of, uh, well, what will, uh, you know, black students do now? Mm. Okay. Well, they might not go to Harvard, but that doesn't mean they don't go to college. Part of, and did you know, Stephen, we know part of the success in college is being in the right college, being in the right university. Mm. And, um, meaning we want you to succeed. We don't want you to fail. If we can prevent, you know, you know, if you do it on your own, that's one thing, but, but to put people in a position based on race or other non-academic non meritorious reasons, sets them up for failure, you know, so, so if a, if a student's gonna succeed at Indiana State and have a good career versus he goes to Harvard because Harvard's supposed to give him a bigger credential, but he does badly at Harvard. His grades are either bad or he flunks out. What good does it do him? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> to have gotten, to have gotten into Harvard. So I, I don't know if that'll change. Speaker 0 00:57:59 Okay. Well we have officially hit the top of the hour, so this has been really interesting to hear you both talk. So thank you so much, Steven. Thank you so much, Richard. I hope everyone who was watching this, uh, enjoyed the conversation as well. I know a lot of people had questions, we didn't get to all of them, but if you liked what we did today, we do these webinars every week with either our scholars or with interesting guests. And if you wanna see more content like this, please let us know. Or don't be afraid voter and help us with a tax deductible donation. So next week, be sure to join us when the founding partner of Finance Technologies, ed Dowd, will be joining our C e o Jennifer Grossman to talk about his latest book, cause Unknown, the Epidemic of Seid, sudden Deaths in 2021 and 2022. Again, Steven, uh, Richard, thank you so much for joining us and everyone else. Thanks Speaker 1 00:59:01 Guys. Good questions. Too bad we didn't get to more of them. Speaker 2 00:59:04 Yeah, thank you. Thank you, Lawrence. Thank you Steven. Maybe Speaker 0 00:59:07 Next time. Take care everyone. Bye-Bye.

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