Sunday, February 26, 2017

Equal Liberty vs. Equal Outcomes

One of the things that struck me as odd in the ACLU write up about the rigged proceedings used to take Amerindian children away from their parents is that they cited the fact that Amerindian children are placed in foster care more often than white children on average. I did not include this fact in my post because it was irrelevant for reasons I will explain below.

‘In addition, statistics compiled by the South Dakota Department of Social Services (DSS) show that although American Indians comprise less than 9 percent of South Dakota’s population, 52 percent of the children in the state’s foster care system are American Indians. An Indian child is 11 times more likely to be placed in foster care than a white child in South Dakota.’

What if Amerindian children comprised only 49 percent of the children in the state’s foster care system. Would it make the state’s actions any less egregious if they comprised less than half of the children in foster care as opposed to more than half? What if the percent of Amerindian children that comprise children in foster care perfectly corresponded to the percent of Amerindians that comprise the total population in South Dakota? Would the state then be in good standing? Injustice is not a statistical discrepancy. The principle of the matter is that in most of these cases the Amerindian parents’ were not given a fair hearing. The fact that Amerindian children were disproportionately placed in foster care compared to white children does not necessarily make the state’s actions unjust. Non-experimental studies cannot demonstrate causality. In order to demonstrate causality you would first have to determine directionality and rule out a third variable; the ACLU did neither. Even if they had, the fact that Amerindian children were disproportionately placed in foster care compared to white children would still not be the damning fact that makes the state’s actions unjust. It is the action itself, of not giving fair hearings, not the short term effects, that makes this an injustice.

Even though the ACLU is a left wing organization, I agree with them most of the time on issues of constitutional rights (not so much on immigration policy or anti-discrimination laws). But like most leftists, they fall for the same fallacy of equating statistical discrepancies with injustice when it neither proves injustice nor points out the reason why a policy is unjust when they happen to stumble upon the truth. The ACLU relied on the same fallacy, a few years ago, in their argument against ‘stop and frisk’. For this issue also, the fact that it was disproportionately used against blacks and hispanics did not make the policy unjust; the fact that it violated everyone’s fourth amendment protection against searches of person or property without probable cause made it unjust. Whenever the left happens to be correct on any issue, they usually arrive at the truth from the false premise that statistical discrepancies prove that some injustice is occurring. The drug war is another such instance. The left’s claim that the drug war is racist is both dubious and irrelevant. The principle of the matter is that people have an exclusive right to control what they put in their own bodies, not the federal government. The same is true of their opposition to perpetual wars abroad, which they oppose not because it exceeds the proper function of government nor because it has only tended to diminish our freedom and move us closer to absolutism, but because they’d rather spend the funds used to maintain U.S. hegemony abroad on more welfare programs. Every such instance only further demonstrates that you can arrive at a true conclusion from a false premise.

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