The cost of discrimination

Timothy Kincaid

January 21st, 2011

One of the claims made by some of those who oppose non-discrimination policies for ideological (rather than bigoted) reasons is that it’s a free market issue. Those who are so foolish as to discriminate lose out on the best and brightest and in the long run cannot compete in the marketplace against those who hire and promote based on ability.

They are, of course, at least partly right. A realistic look at civil rights advances in this country must recognize that while the moral arguments and civil protections were of monumental value, the need to compete for a skilled and loyal workforce also significantly contributed to the breakdown of color barriers.

Discrimination is an expensive luxury and in this economy it’s one that few can afford. Unless, of course, you have a monopoly or are a governmental institution like the military. Then you can spend anything you like to shore up the foolishness of firing gay translators during a shortage or sending the “soldier of the year” packing.

But discrimination still has a cost. And, as it turns out, not a cheap one. (Stars and Stripes)

Enforcing the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” law cost the Defense Department nearly $200 million in administrative, recruiting and retraining costs over six years, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

According to the report, the majority of the expense came from recruiting replacements and retraining the new troops. More than a third of the discharged troops held “skills in critical occupations.” That included 23 language experts, whose training included years of language proficiency work prior to their dismissal.

But GAO researchers also estimated that the ban on openly gay troops also cost almost $8 million in administrative expenses. That includes legal work, commanders’ inquiries, pastoral counseling of servicemembers, and processing of separation paperwork.

Well, now, reversing DADT was a tremendous cost-cutting measure; Republicans and other fiscal conservatives should be delighted.

Most won’t be. They’ll bluster and argue and dispute the figures. Just like bigots who refuse to believe that employing only good ol’ boys is bad for the bottom line.

Ben in Oakland

January 21st, 2011

Not to mention the equally important and equally hidden costs of SOLDIERS’ LIVES becuase critical intelligence oculd not be assessed due to the lack a translators.

It has amazed me how much that argument was missing in the debate.


January 21st, 2011

Figures don’t lie but you can bet liars figure and the “opposition will”

Regan DuCasse

January 21st, 2011

I just got the new e-letter from NOM. Brian Brown and Maggie G are going to milk the “they keep calling us bigots, we’re SUCH victims of gay libel!” for all it’s worth.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such depths of whining, victim claiming, contradiction, hypocrisy, cowardice, libel and hyperbole in my life. There is NO end to it in sight.

I sent the letter to Tim and he can confirm. Meanwhile, young gay people are physically assaulted and can’t count on their teachers not to engage in the same behavior as the students. Can’t go to a clergy person or parent sometimes for comfort.

Brian Brown’s picture is this big sh!t eating grin. And I seriously want to punch him in it now.
I’m sorry, that’s just how I feel.

The seriousness of gay soldiers losing their careers, the threat of gay parents losing custody of their children or gay men and women constantly under suspicion can have no option of privacy.
NOM’s complaints are the pettiest of lies and misdirection.
Petty and small compared to the realities of other’s lives who don’t deserve this treatment.

Brian Brown is behaving like it’s such a BURDEN to be him, to HAVE to take on this work and it’s SO important he get the word out how deceptive, angry and threatening gay people are because see, it’s a bitch to be called a bigot!

My friends, I see him and Matt Barber who are thick necked, burly men. As boys, I’m sure they didn’t have to worry about physical intimidation from anyone. Never had to consider it likely that a door would be closed to them anywhere. They always assumed they could walk in and do whatever.

Under those sturdy builds and self important grins, are the wussiest little punk assed babies I’ve ever seen.
They couldn’t be a gay kid for two seconds. The gay kids I know who are Eagle Scouts and computer geniuses. Those who are musically gifted and compassionate towards animals and the elderly. Who love their mothers more than their own lives and love women in that way that women REALLY like to be loved.
The lesbians who endure assumptions about their place in the world and constant threat of sexual violence from men who want them ‘corrected’.
My beautiful sisters who are lesbians, trans women and their allies…we might be good in nature, but it takes a spirit of steel to still be here, happy and healthy.

Discrimination IS expensive and it’s cost in ways that BB and MG or Tony P NEVER consider because they are spending too much time thinking THEY are shouldering the burden of saving the world.
They are unbelievably redundant, because their ‘work’ isn’t really doing any saving or protecting. They are insufferable busybodies messing up a lot, and they are too arrogant and self involved to care about it.
Brian Brown has blocked my emails and my comments are now blocked from NOM’s website.
Guess my remarks about NOM ignoring Prop. 4 hit too close to home.

BB and MG never served in uniform, and apparently gay soldiers make ex Marine Tony P really nervous.
What absolute wimps. Unmitigated cowards and I resent their intrusion that HAS cost this nation and our society money, skilled personnel and commitment we badly needed.
There is nothing worse than someone who doesn’t care about the damage they cause while thinking they are the experts entitled to keep doing what they do.
And their followers NEVER ask the simplest question: say Brian, what is it that’s actually WORKING to save marriage?

I’m so hoping for the day it blows up in their smug faces when reality bites their asses.
Sorry, my friends, I woke up with an attitude that people like this keep running our lives into the ground, and yet point the finger of blame at US.

Us allies are under as much suspicion as you are sometimes. And I’m sick of BB and his victim game.
If EVER I see that weasel in person, trust that I’ll blow his hair back.


January 21st, 2011

Thing is, it’s always amazed me how little it fazes bigots when they get sued or get their organizations (school districts for example) sued.

Unfortunately, hard core bigots tend not to care so much about things like money especially if it’s not theirs personally. Unless the consequences hit them in a personal way or affect something they do care about, odds are they won’t care about the cost.

People’s lives? Please. If it’s not their own lives some people just don’t give a rat’s arse.

I’ve never had the opportunity to find out personally what’s so attractive about this but I guess hate must make them feel powerful or something. The first (and only) time my mom ever heard me use the N-word I got my butt beat and my mouth washed out with soap, with strict instructions that if I ever thought I was gonna use any words like that for ANY kind of people it’d happen again.

I was like, eight, and the thought to say anything like that has rarely occurred to me and even more rarely been done since. The only time I ever called a gay dude a derogatory term and she heard of it (she wasn’t around) I got grounded.

If I, as a kid or teenager (or even younger adult) had acted the way some people who are grown-ass adults and should know better are acting in public or on TV these days my mom would’ve chased me around the neighborhood with my own baseball bat.

I realize a lot of people pick up this crap from their parents in the first place, but everybody needs to grow the f*ck up sooner or later.

The childishness of a lot of authoritarians, bigots, supposed “Conservatives,” racists, religious nuts, and other right-wing types never ceases to amaze me, it’s like some people never outgrew high school and the need to say “I’m better than you.”

Never got the chance to say it myself, so I guess I don’t see the attraction. The world’s never really QUITE been like the 1950’s they romanticize so much.

Timothy Kincaid

January 21st, 2011


Your passion is admirable (love you for it), but we don’t advocate for violence.

Priya Lynn

January 21st, 2011

Timothy, I think by “I’ll blow his hair back.” Regan means she’ll give him a good talking to.

J. Peron

January 21st, 2011

You are discussing apples and oranges. While I believe in freedom of association, as a human rights issue, not an economic one, there are financial consequences to bigoted policies. As is illustrated so nicely in the film Milk regarding the liquor store owner who suddenly is willing to deal with gay people when they are lined up to buy products during the Castro St. Fair.

But advocates of truly depoliticized markets, such as myself, don’t argue that the government has this right, only private individuals. It can not apply to government employment, services, or government paid contracts.

As for conservatives, their commitment to “free markets” has never been real, just selectively enforced. They are the first to abandon markets when the results conflict with their social agenda (and it will conflict and do so regularly.) Gay bars are market produces, so are gay publications, gay websites, gay porn, gay resorts, gay wedding planners, etc. All that disturbs the social conservative.

In a nutshell, the freedom of association issue does not and can not apply to government entities who private ones fulfilling government contracts. Private businesses may do so because we have options of using competitors, unless the law restricts competition. But government is a monopoly service, enforced by coercive state power, and it can never have the right of freedom of association, there are not other options, it is impossible to boycott them — they have the guns.

Timothy Kincaid

January 21st, 2011

J Peron,

Although you think I am discussing apples and oranges, I fail to see where your comment disagrees with my commentary.

Emily K

January 21st, 2011

there are not other options, it is impossible to boycott them — they have the guns.

Funny, because lately it seems that EVERYBODY has guns. Guns that they will set off quite easily.

What really talks is money. And you can buy a politician to do/say what you want them to do. ultimately, money owns everything; changes everything; makes everything move or stop.


January 21st, 2011

The problem with using market forces (there is no such thing as a pure free market, because that requires everyone in the market to have perfect and complete information, an impossibility) to combat discrimination, is that this only works when all individuals – whether part of a discriminated group or not – are equal as to skills, abilities, education and training. However, because discrimination limits economic potential, and therefore possibilities for education, training and obtaining skills, that situation never exists, and the very discriminatory practices (e.g., Jim Crow laws) can be used to maintain the status quo so nothing changes. Even Milton Friedman, (Alex P Keaton’s favorite economist on Family Ties) who intially did the work to show how market forces could reduce discrimination, has acknowledged this.

Regan DuCasse

January 21st, 2011

Tim, Priya Lynn is correct. He’s already run from my comments in so many ways. If only he had to be nailed to the spot for two minutes.
Hurricane in earrings has been a nickname for me from my friends.


January 22nd, 2011

What about the costs of the other programs the religious and the right-wing are fixated on?

What about the cost of illegal abortions/unwanted pregnancies?

What about the cost of foreclosures on all those people who ‘obviously’ bought too much house and ‘deserve’ to have foreclosure happen – the cost to the neighborhoods and to society?

What about the cost of defining ones’ tribe narrowly and refusing to assist anyone who’s not a member of ‘my’ (usually christian) tribe?

What about the cost of deficit reduction?

What about the cost of denying medical coverage?

Anti-gay is but one part of discrimination (most anti-gay folks also have one or more other groups to be anti- to.) DADT is but one discrimination with an associated price of implementation.

Timothy Kincaid

January 22nd, 2011

Regan, I was talking about the punching him in the grin.

No punching. But if you want to give him a good talking-to, wait till I get my comfy chair and soda, I want to see it.


Regan DuCasse

January 23rd, 2011

Thanks Tim, you’re on. I just had to be honest about how I felt about the guy.

Hey, we should be getting together, like…NEXT WEEK.
We live so close together and I love you.
Just say when. Especially since tax season is up, you’re going to be busy.

Throbert McGee

January 23rd, 2011

I see him and Matt Barber who are thick necked, burly men. As boys, I’m sure they didn’t have to worry about physical intimidation from anyone. Never had to consider it likely that a door would be closed to them anywhere. They always assumed they could walk in and do whatever.

Interesting. So based on what they look like as adults, you claim to have insight into what their lives were like as kids.

Nice way to lead by example, Regan.

P.S. I’m reminded of this article from about Questionable Life Lessons from Teen Movies — Lesson #2 being that all jocks are sociopaths. (Extra sociopath points if they’re blond jocks, à la Billy Zabka in The Karate Kid and Ted McGinley in Revenge of the Nerds.)

Throbert McGee

January 23rd, 2011

The problem with using market forces (there is no such thing as a pure free market, because that requires everyone in the market to have perfect and complete information, an impossibility) to combat discrimination, is that this only works when all individuals – whether part of a discriminated group or not – are equal as to skills, abilities, education and training.

Good point. However, I think that the primary problem with relying solely on market forces to reduce discrimination is that the anti-discriminatory tendencies of a free market will tend to work rather slowly and incrementally, so that improvement happens on a generational time scale — but meanwhile, people need to “put food on their families” RIGHT NOW, and young children need better quality elementary schools RIGHT NOW (to ensure that they’re not already skills-deficient as they go into junior-high and secondary school and beyond).

Donny D.

January 23rd, 2011

One problem with assuming businesses must do the most profitable thing is that a prosperous enough business can survive its mistakes. If businesses have enough viable job applicants after discriminating, they can afford to keep doing it.

This is especially likely when unemployment is high enough to give businesses their pick of whoever’s out there. Which is often the case. (Our business-favoring economics say that unemployment is a sign of economic efficiency. It can be argued that our government runs the economy so conditions favor business.)

When all businesses in an industry are discriminating in the same way, there won’t be big differences in profitability due to negative consequences from discriminating, and investors won’t have a diverse, more profitable company they can favor with capital.

Managers and owners frequently act against what makes sense. The self-righteousness of prejudice and being stuck in the rut of traditional practices can lead to continued discrimination. Leaders can and do take down departments, businesses, industries, armies and societies by refusing to change.

Just because an organization now has a diverse workforce doesn’t mean its decisionmaking will necessarily improve, not if the previously discriminated against people haven’t worked their ways up high enough, including due to glass ceilings, or their opinions are ignored. So it might take some time before improvements from ending discrimination are seen.

All of which are arguments against relying on market forces and foregoing government remedies against discrimination.

Arguments that government is immune from normal business economics don’t apply to present day American military recruitment. Our “all-volunteer armed forces” would normally have little problem recruiting in bad times, but our current war-addicted foreign policy is hurting recruitment of suitable candidates for at least a few important specialties, people who are desirable enough as employees even in these times that they have better options than the possibility of service in Iraq or Afghanistan.

enough already

January 24th, 2011

I seldom post here, my status is anything but welcome.

That doesn’t stop me from reading the very thoughtful and useful posts on this blog.

The comments on this particular thread have moved me to post.

It is one thing to maintain political correctness and to make sure posters adhere to the guidelines the blog owners require.

It is quite another to use the double-plus political correctness rules to discount points of view with which one knee-jerk disagrees.

No, none of us can truly know what the physically large adults involved in the anti-gay-rights movement experienced as children. That said – and I speak here as a male who, as a 13 year old weighed 180 (muscle) and was 6’1″ already, there is some very great truth to the bull-necked comments. Nobody messed with me and several gay and physically disabled kids used the size and strength of myself and two other kids at our school to protect themselves against the bullies.

I won’t post here often again, but I do think those who determine the tone of the threads here need to be reminded that they, too, suffer from the same unfair tendencies as do those of us who refuse to toe the political correctness line.

Frankly, it’s our greatest weakness as a community.

Priya Lynn

January 24th, 2011

Donny – Best Rebuttal Ever!

If you don’t mind I’m going to take that for the next time this topic comes up somewhere.

Regan DuCasse

January 24th, 2011

Donny and Throbert:

When they TELL you what their lives were like when they were young, you DO know. I’m not assuming a thing. And I put a few OTHER things together regarding what they are doing now and why.

I’m a jockette. I lived in the world of young athletes and I do it now among older ones. Matt Barber was an athlete, Brian Brown, in a different way. But they are men whose public lives show what they connect to traditional values, masculinity and their sense of what it’s definition is.
Note their obsession more with gay males (as usual) than lesbians.

The world of athletes is especially hard on gay boys. And what ordinary boys outside of that world have to endure.
Their religious self righteousness is another component added already to one of entitlement. It’s not just their appearance my cues are from (give me some credit), it’s a piece of a whole that’s not so surprising.

As a woman, my experience with physically imposing men, who EXERCISE that imposition, followed by having wives that do little else but bear them LOTS of children, tells me how little they think of women in general, and especially women like me: who refused to have children and who in my own way isn’t a reserved traditional woman.

Things are assumed about me because I’m a woman. BB and MB use their masculinity in traditional fashion and put down others who are not their idea of it.

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