Wasn’t this supposed the era of post-racialism? Robert Reich apparently didn’t get that message. In his appearance before Congress on structuring the stimulus plan on January 7th, Reich suggested that the package discriminate against white male workers:
I am concerned, as I’m sure many of you are, that these jobs not simply go to high-skilled people who are already professionals or to white male construction workers. … I have nothing against white male construction workers. I’m just saying that there are a lot of other people who have needs as well. … Criteria can be set so that the money does go to others, the long term unemployed minorities, women, people who are not necessarily construction workers or high-skilled professionals.
Basically, Reich wants Congress to create some means testing that doesn’t explicitly keep stimulus funds from paying the salaries of white males. He suggests that the lawmakers create “criteria” that will have that effect in practice without being crass enough to say, No Whites Need Apply. Congress has done this in milder form for the last few decades by mandating set-asides for women- and minority-owned businesses in government contracts, but even those don’t require the businesses to refuse to hire white male construction workers.
This sounds a lot more like a paternalistic welfare program than a real effort to improve American infrastructure. We’re building roads and bridges for all Americans, using tax money from all Americans. Everyone should have equal access to the jobs created by this stimulus plan. What Reich proposes is flat-out official racism by government, refusing to hire people on the basis of their skin color. Didn’t our last election demonstrate a rejection of that kind of thinking? And note that Reich offers the racist rationalization that he doesn’t have anything against white male construction workers. Maybe some of his best friends are white male construction workers, too.