Is Affirmative Action Still Necessary in Achieving Equality: the Complex Debate

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Every American wants equality in some form or fashion. As a country, we can never achieve equality due to the fact that the citizens are unable to agree on what it looks like. I have been able to improve my critical thinking of what equality should look like through our readings and class discussions on the topics of economics, abortion, gender, and racial discrimination.

Economic Systems and the Impediments to Equality

Economic equality should not be desirable in the U.S. because of our capitalistic system. In a capitalistic system, citizens work for profits instead of the government. In a communist economy, citizens work for the government, which then distributes the wealth equally. Based on the fact that each individual carries different talents and work ethics, an ‘equal’ system where everyone got paid the same would actually be unequal.

Phil Gramm, a politician, and economist, said, “Government is not the generator of economic growth; working people are” (Gramm). A communist system would lead to a huge decrease in efficiency as those with high work ethics would no longer have the same incentives to work hard. A socialist system would also require the people in government to be completely altruistic. Some of these government officials will inevitably become corrupt and take money from the people. In Sandel’s book Justice: What is the Right Thing to Do?, he says, “…taking money from Gates and Winfrey without their consent, even for a good cause is coercive. It violates their liberty to do with their money whatever they please” (Sandel 126). To be equal, all people who reside in America should be taxed at the same percentage. Economic equality would not be desirable in the U.S. because it’s not possible with citizens who have different abilities and work ethics.

The Controversy Surrounding Abortion and Equality

Abortion is another example of an equality issue because people disagree on whether the unborn have individual has rights. The argument surrounding the morality of abortion is based on the question of when life becomes a life. The definition of life is “the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism…” (“Life”). Since growth starts at conception of the fetus, this is also when life starts. Therefore, the unborn do have individual rights, and abortion is murder. Martin Luther King said, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed” (King). It’s extremely cruel to oppress the unborn; they are the weakest individuals in our society with no voice. In the Letter From Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King wrote, “History is a long and tragic story of the fact privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily” (King).

Although abortion may be convenient for women with busy lives, you can’t take someone else’s rights. In the book Better by Atul Gawande, he says, “You may not control life’s circumstances, but getting to be the author of your life means getting to control what you do with them” (Gawande). This quote shows how each individual should be able to live out their own story without it being cut short by someone else. Abortion is an example of inequality because it strips individual rights from the unborn.

Understanding Gender Inequality in Wages

Feminism is the belief that men and women should have all the same rights. The main problems with modern-day feminism are the belief in uninhibited abortion and the misunderstanding of the wage gap. The main gender inequality discussed now is focused on the wage gap.

The studies on the wage gap between men and women do not account for the different industries, jobs, and hours they work. For every dollar men make, women make 80.5 cents in the United States. Simple economics suggests that if you can pay a woman 20% less than a man, companies would only hire women; therefore, this is false. The number one determining factor of why women are paid less is because they have babies. Since women have babies, they are less likely to have jobs that are dangerous, high-stress, or involve traveling. Due to their distressing nature, these kinds of jobs pay better. Over 92% of work-related deaths in the past year were men. Men are also two times more likely to work 40 hours a week when compared to women. People in full-time positions almost always make more than part-time for the same job.

The Debate over Affirmative Action and Racial Equality

The real reason women make less in the workforce is due to their own economic decisions. The main form of inequality of racial discrimination apparent in America is affirmative action. As Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” (King). This quote is awesome because it shows how illogical it is to think that you can solve discrimination by using discrimination. That is exactly what affirmative action is. The main problem with affirmative action is that it’s antimeritocratic. Every race is equal in abilities and intelligence, even though every individual is inherently unequal. Since every race is equal, each individual should be able to gain success with talent and hard work without oppression from racial bias. The most qualified candidates should get the best jobs and get into the best colleges.

Letting unqualified students into academic programs hurts them. Albert Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid” (Einstein). Since they don’t have the qualifications needed, they aren’t prepared for these programs and lack either intelligence or drive that is required. This is why affirmative action actually encourages students to fail. If affirmative action didn’t exist, African Americans would have higher college graduation rates because they’d be in more programs that they can excel in. When colleges are forced to fill racial quotas to advertise diversity, it causes them to miss out on higher-qualified students. Not only is affirmative action unequal, but it simply doesn’t work, many times placing students in situations that they are ill-prepared for, unintentionally setting them up for failure.

Conclusion: The Complex Landscape of American Equality

In conclusion, when trying to achieve equality, it is important to think critically and remain unbiased. It is impossible to achieve economic equality as a country because of the variations in work ethics and abilities among individuals. Abortion is an example of inequality as it takes individual rights from the unborn. When looking into the problem of gender wage gaps, the origin of the gap is that women make different economic decisions in the workplace than men. Affirmative action is unequal and does not work because people are put in situations that they aren’t prepared for. Even though every American wants equality, in some form or fashion, we can never achieve it due to the fact that citizens can’t agree on what it looks like. 


  1. Sandel, Michael J. “Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?”. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009.
  2. Gawande, Atul. “Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance.” Metropolitan Books, 2007.
  3. King, Martin Luther Jr. “I Have a Dream.” Speech, Washington D.C., August 28, 1963.
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Is Affirmative Action Still Necessary in Achieving Equality: The Complex Debate. (2023, Jun 16). Retrieved from