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« Initiatives and What They Mean | Main | Regionalism »

Amendment 46

I have to admit, I didn't deliberately follow the campaign for Amendment 46 all that closely. So maybe, that's actually a good thing when you're trying to examine why something so good came so close to success, but not close enough. Because then you're letting your distance do the filtering for you.

Jessica Corry is a terrific gal, one of the smartest and savviest political-types I know. The last thing I want to do is Wednesday-morning quarterback her efforts. What follows are impressions, not criticism. Anyone with inside knowledge of the reasons certain things were done, and others weren't is heartily invited to hit the comment key.

There are a number of good arguments for doing away with racial preferences.

1) We derive our rights by virtue of being human, not by virtue of being male or female, or by belonging to a government-defined ethnic group.
2) Preferences are unfair
3) Preferences cost money to administer, and cost money in lost productivity and efficiency
4) Preference programs are open to abuse
5) Preferences assume the worst of our fellow citizens - that they can't be trusted not to be racist

One of the more effective arguments against 46 was the slanderous radio ads portraying Ward Connerly as a pocket-lining money-grubber that managed to demonize the issue by association with the advocate. That, combined with a lingering sense that preferences are a small price to pay to set things aright, to correct a much bigger unfairness.

The arguments in favor are of varying degrees of effectiveness, and varying degrees of principle. Personally, in my campaign, I focused on 5), and to some extent on 1). It feels more principled and more like the high road. It pushes the ideas of liberty and equality more openly. But it may well be that 3) and 4) would have been more effective.

For 4), note that Wilma Webb somehow ended up with an affirmative action set-aside for a DIA concession store. Now everyone likes Wellington Webb personally, and he wields a great deal of power, even now. But if they're going to go full Roman on Connerly anyway, you may as well push back. There must be hundreds of examples of this sort of thing statewide. If they can be brought out without violating anyone's privacy, pick the 3 or 4 worst and turn them into poster children for the sort of cronyism and nepotism that always accompanies government giveaways.

Number 3) is a little tougher, but we can get creative. Aside from the direct administrative cost of these programs, there must be ways of measuring the cost of higher dropout rates to the colleges and the individuals, the cost of lower efficiency through lower-qualified employees, and so on. Take that number, divide it by the average cost of employing a full-time entry-level worker, and ask whether it's better to waste the money or to employ these people.

As I said, this isn't to second-guess. I'm just trying to figure out how to get this thing passed the next time.


I know why one vote went against. A fellow I work with was going to vote “NO” on the amendment. I had him pull-up the Colorado Index and read the commentary on the amendment. After reading the commentary he stated, "That I twisted his arm and he would vote YES". The next day, he tells me, "I had to vote NO on that amendment". I asked him, "Why?" He said, "If I start a small business I don't want to have to hire a devil worshiper". I looked at him and shook my head. I told him, "first that amendment was about government contracts and second, before you start any business where you are going to hire employees you better go read up on employment law and what you may or may not use as a reason for not hiring". With a dumb stare on his face he stated, “Oh, I guess I better go re-read that amendment.” This is the problems I see in with people who identify as Republican these days. They let unrelated things cloud their judgments. Now, I am not saying that all people voted “NO” for this reason; but, it makes me wonder how many did.

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