It was a good idea when JFK signed the first executive order in 1961 to end discrimination in hiring. But in the hands of the bureaucratic Democrat Party throughout the 1960s, the quest for “equal education and equal employment” has become a cancer.
In 1982 I got a firsthand glimpse of how that cancer had begun to metastasize.
In November my wife and I drove north to spend the Thanksgiving weekend with my best friend, who was an instructor at the US Military Academy at West Point.
His guest, Thursday morning we found ourselves on a bus with a contingent of West Point instructors, headed down the Hudson to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City. (Scratch one more thing from my bucket list. Great time.)
On the drive down I sat next to an interesting man named Bob who was a visiting instructor in quantum mechanics. He’d taken a year’s sabbatical, and a 70% cut in pay, from his consulting engineering firm in Dallas just to teach young officers-in-waiting.
I’m not sure how the subject came up, but he was telling me that his firm had been getting pressed by EEOC to add a few black engineers to their firm.
He never did get around to saying who they did eventually hire, but told me the most remarkable story of recruiting down at Prairie View A&M, which is an all black college south of Dallas, between Austin and Houston.
He and a partner went down to test ten graduating engineers who had responded to an inquiry they sent the head of the civil engineering department. He looked at me, and said, “You know, not a single one of those engineering seniors could do a simple logarithm.”
Stunned, I looked at Bob and asked, incredulously, “How can a person go through a four year college curriculum and get an engineering degree without being able to do problems I learned in high school? How can any one of those graduates get a job and not be found out?”
I was getting more angry as more and more unfair images came into my mind.
Bob sort of laughed, and said, “Well, the way it works is this; they all go into government work. Only not as engineers. It’s set up that way. Both federal and state agencies set aside administrative slots in various technical agencies all across the government, EPA, Energy, but require those slots be filled with graduates with a B.S. degree in engineering.
“I don’t know how long this has been going on, but the pay rate for those jobs is way below what any skilled engineer would apply for so there’s really no competition. It’s a set aside.”
I thought long and hard as to how this scam might have been used all over Kentucky when I was in state government a decade earlier. It answered a lot of questions, but still, I was outraged, and went on a screed, citing all sorts of diluting of the process.
But Bob cut me short. “Yeah, that’s unfair, I know. But what worries is when this goes on about thirty years.
“You see, bureaucrats have short memories and they turn over every fifteen-twenty years.
“What scares me is that, in thirty years or so, people in government will have forgotten about this wink and nod deal that let these poor under-educated engineers have secure jobs pushing papers back in the 70s…
“…and they’ll start letting them build bridges.”
(h/t Erick Brockway, many thanks.)
It was thirty years ago that Bob told me that story, on the Road to Macy’s.
This is a true story. And a prophecy come true.