The Ranting Kraut

19.3.2006 – 27.9.2010

Trevor Phillips Demands Quotas for Whites

Posted by rantingkraut on October 28, 2008

Trevor Phillips recently called for white quotas to protect low skilled whites from better qualified immigrant competition. This is intended to prevent them from supporting far right parties:
Mr Phillips argues that ministers should allow councils and education authorities to introduce measures favouring young whites unable to compete with highly-skilled immigrants and he says the financial crisis could trigger anti-immigrant feeling in the UK.” (source)
This blog has argued before that there is no such thing as positive discrimination. If local workers are not as well qualified as their foreign competitors, the answer should be to improve the standard of training in the UK. Preferences for lower qualified domestic workers will weaken the incentive to compete at a higher quality level. This would provide some short term reprieve, but in the long term would tend to push the orientation of the UK economy towards low skill intensive production. Such an orientation tends to be associated with lower levels of productivity and lower wage levels.

Phillips may well be correct if he fears that white working class voters will be tempted to support far right parties –or more generally: parties which favour their particular interest group. Probably without intending to do so, he has exposed the fundamental dilemma of identity politics.

A government which subscribes to identity politics accepts the goal of equalising employment or earnings outcomes across a potentially open ended set of demographic groups: are men and women, light and dark coloured people really equal? What about scousers, short men, the geographically disadvantaged masses on the Isle of Mull …? Once you start looking for victim categories to associate with demands for special favours, there is no end in sight.

The problem is that identity politics is at best a zero sum game: it is an exercise in redistributing income or opportunities in favour of one arbitrarily chosen group at the expense of another. Once this modus operandi is accepted, the logical end point will be a government directed allocation of wealth and employment. Even as this point is approached, there is no reason to expect an end to conflict: the people of a nation may well agree on a set of general rules of conduct, they will never agree on a concrete and arbitrary allocation of limited and diminishing resources.

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One Response to “Trevor Phillips Demands Quotas for Whites”

  1. Tony said

    About bloody time too.

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