April 08, 2015

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On the other hand, these rich targets mean that fire departments are less pestered. The Eye can”€™t monitor too many of its casualties at once.

Consider tracking in public schools. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, the Eye bore down upon separating students into different classes by intelligence as a racist plot. So tracking was eradicated forever, at least nominally. But of course it has been revived countless times under countless synonyms and code words, because tracking is essential to effective schooling. It would be much more efficient for parents to simply de-demonize the word “€œtracking,”€ but that would be a symbolic concession on the order of admitting that Haven Monahan was a catfishing hoax.

The Eye can ignore things for decades. For example, the PACE civil service exam was abolished in 1981, but the military has used the similar AFQT, the test that is central to The Bell Curve, as the enlistment entrance exam for generations. This has passed almost without comment in the press, perhaps because the Pentagon’s psychometricians believe Charles Murray is right, but nobody else is supposed to know that.

Interestingly, out of the glare of the Eye, the Obama administration inadvertently has restarted civil service exams, as Lisa Rein reported in the Washington Post on April 2:

For federal-worker hopefuls, the civil service exam is making a comeback

… After 34 years, they”€™re bringing back the civil service exam. … Up to 10 percent of civilian government jobs are now being filled based in part on the scores on these new tests, according to officials at the Office of Personnel Management, which is promoting the initiative.

The White House blundered into reviving civil service testing by issuing a call for faster, more efficient federal hiring back in 2010. The Obamaites did not mention testing. But when career civil servants started quietly discussing how to improve the morass that is government hiring, the merits of civil service exams were apparent.

One reason for the comeback of testing is that the Carter administration’s Luevano Job was so shameful that it’s not well remembered. Even though it was a massive, enduring triumph for Democrats, its history is too grotesque to celebrate.

So, lots of contemporary bureaucrats don”€™t understand the enduring reason why the Democrats trashed a fine system in 1981: the lower average general intelligence of blacks and Hispanics means that any kind of valid, objective hiring system will have adverse impact on privileged groups. Right now, the current crop of feds just don”€™t get it: I”€™ve looked at the USA Hire websites started recently by the federal government, and diversity simply isn”€™t an issue to them … yet.

Rein tries to explain in the Post why the feds aren”€™t worried that disparate impact will come back:

The new exams still assess general aptitude, as the old-time civil service tests did. But to avoid possible discrimination, a concern with the old tests, the new exams also measure other attributes, such as teamwork, problem solving and judgment, and are tailored to assess specific job skills.

But of course general aptitude is highly correlated with “€œteamwork, problem solving and judgment,”€ not to mention “€œspecific job skills.”€ And those differ on average by race. Because the Eye periodically punishes people like James D. Watson and Jason Richwine for knowing that, most career-oriented folks have contrived to be ignorant.

I suspect that when today’s bureaucrats think about testing minorities, they assume the problem back in the bad old days must have been the virulent racism among Watergate Era academics and federal bureaucrats who devised the PACE in 1974. The media has retconned the past so ridiculously that contemporary individuals have a hard time realizing their predecessors were nice liberals just like them who faced the same unchanging problems with black and Hispanic competence that they will soon confront.

But, still, this stealthy revival of civil service examinations by obscure managers freed from the Eye of Sauron shows how the system can, very slowly, heal itself, at least while the malignant gaze is distracted by a different target of opportunity.

This means the system is unlikely to collapse from the sheer absurdity of its dogmas: because hypocrisy is always an option.


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