• Victor C. Bolles

Making Diversity Work

On October 31st 2017, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, Sayfullo Saipov, mowed down walkers and bicyclists along the West Side Highway bike path, killing eight. Mr. Saipov had entered the United States seven years earlier on a diversity visa.

The Diversity Visa Lottery Program was a part of a bill introduced by Chuck Schumer in 1990 when he was still in the House of Representatives. The diversity lottery was part of a larger immigration bill that was eventually approved with bi-partisan support and signed into law by then President George H.W. Bush. The diversity visa program allows up to 50,000 people per year to obtain an entry visa to the United States and a green card with only minimal qualifications. That’s over a million largely un-vetted people over the life of the program. The Diversity Visa Lottery Program is slated to be eliminated by the Trump Administration under the proposed Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act.

Many of the people that are opposed to the Diversity Visa Lottery Program will be labeled racists and even islamaphobes. And in many cases that might be correct. But that doesn’t make the Diversity Visa Lottery Program a good idea or worthy of being a part of a rational immigration policy.

Many proponents of diversity do not understand how to make diversity work for a society. They want universities and the workplace to “look like America” so they come up with programs, such as affirmative action, to increase the number of minorities in these institutions (the NBA being an exempt institution). At the same time they propose to open the US borders to indiscriminate immigration to change how America looks (probably requiring an expansion of the coverage of affirmative action).

Democrats see diversity as a goal, not as a tool. Take this quote from the Democratic National Committee website:

“Above all, Democrats are the party of inclusion. We know that diversity is not our problem—it is our promise. As Democrats, we respect differences of perspective and belief, and pledge to work together to move this country forward, even when we disagree. With this platform, we do not merely seek common ground—we strive to reach higher ground.”

The definition of what this higher ground consists of is left undefined. If diversity is a promise what is it promising? Apparently just more diversity and a Democrat in the White House and majorities in the House and Senate (60+).

People come to America for two principal reasons: economic opportunity and freedom from oppression. The economic opportunity in America is derived from our free market economic system that has been so successful over the last two hundred years. And economic freedom and opportunity are intimately entwined in our personal liberty enshrined in our Constitution and Founding Principles. Can diversity help us achieve these goals?

It can! If done correctly. University of Michigan political science and economics professor, Scott E. Page described mathematically in his book, The Difference, how diversity can help to achieve optimal results in problem solving. But it is purposeful diversity to achieve a common goal. He also noted that it is thought diversity that can achieve these results, two different ways to looking at a problem. Thus an economist and a mathematician would have a better probability of solving a problem than two economists or two mathematicians. He also noted that an economist and a beautician might not achieve a better result if the beautician didn’t have the proper skill sets to solve the problem.

Ray Dalio, the billionaire CEO of Bridgewater Capital, described a similar process in his book, Principles. He recommends a business practice that employs radical truth and radical transparency to achieve a diversity of thought that is subjected to believability weighting in order to achieve an idea meritocracy that delivers superior results.

Both processes rely on two fundamental theories to achieve superior results. First and foremost, the goal is agreed upon and the only differences are in how to achieve the desired result. Second, it is diversity of thought (different approaches to solving a common problem) that can achieve the desired goal. Of course, people of different cultures, races and genders will have different ways to solving problems so some diversity along these lines would be helpful.

But this is not diversity for diversity’s sake (or for the sake of diverse people). It is diversity to serve a purpose. The purpose of diversity in America should be directed toward achieving the goals of America’s Founding Principles, not changing our principles. Diversity working to solve a common problem or achieve a common goal can be very effective. But a diversity of goals is chaos.

We are still reeling from the tragic nature of Mr. Saipov's crime and I hesitated in using him as an example. But the Diversity Visa Lottery Program has now become a political issue so I thought it was important to insert a reasoned and rational discussion of this program and why it makes little sense and should be eliminated.

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