Saturday, January 22, 2005

Unintended consequences of affirmative action

This story in The Times illustrates the pitfalls of affirmative action.

Mr Dube, who has no birth certificate but thinks that he is 42, is a blatant example of a new South African business practice called “fronting”.
This involves white-owned companies promoting one of their former black employees, often from a lowly position, to director level. Then the person fronts the company, enabling it to portray itself as a black firm and receive favourable treatment when government tenders are handed out.
Under controversial Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) legislation, adopted in 2003 to try to speed up the slow pace of change in South Africa, companies who employ people termed the “previously disadvantaged” can expect favourable treatment. Another recent case of fronting involved a white businesswoman’s maid and her daughter who were made co-directors of her construction company.

Thomas Sowell's Affirmative Action is an excellent analysis of the failings of affirmative action.


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