Things For You To Feel Guilty About Today

When you get right down to it, the fundamental driver of the progressive/New York mindset is guilt.  By leading your affluent and comfortable life, you have caused great suffering among the downtrodden and oppressed people of the nation and the world!  And now you must atone for your sins!  The atonement shall consist of acquiescing in (and paying for) collective solutions imposed upon you by your moral betters in government and academia.  Of course the solutions will not work -- collective solutions to human problems never work -- but that does not matter.  What matters is that at least some of your feelings of guilt will be alleviated through your submission to the atonement.  Remarkable numbers of people among the educated and affluent actually do feel guilty about their position in life, and therefore are highly vulnerable to this kind of appeal.

If you do not share the propensity to believe that all imperfections in the world have been caused by your sins -- and I, for one, do not share that propensity -- then observing the progressives taking their guilt trips can provide a good deal of entertainment and humor.  How about a couple of examples for today?

A good perennial in this field is the guilt felt by high-end lawyers that their law firms are not sufficiently "diverse."  For these purposes, the criterion of "diversity," to be non-sinful, means that your firm has percentages of each officially-recognized race and gender identity group at each level of its ranks in at least as high a percentage as the percentage of that group in the general population.  If blacks are 12% of the population, then 12% (or more) of your partners must be black; if women are 50% of the population, then 50% (or more) of your partners must be women; and so on through Hispanics, homosexuals, transgender persons, and so forth.

There are on the order of one thousand major law firms in this country.  Not a single one of them passes the non-sinful "diversity" test.  Do you know of any exception?  I'll bet you don't!  But even if you do, it will only reinforce my point, because we would then know that 999 out of 1000 major law firms are "diversity" sinners.

The New York Law Journal ran a two-part series on February 21 and 22 aimed at guilting a particular group of "mid-size" firms for this sin.  "Mid-size" firms are not as big and fancy as the highest-end operations, which can range up to 1000 lawyers or more, but typically are defined as having 100 to 250 lawyers, who can earn very handsome livings.  The February 21 article has the headline "For Many Midsize Law Firms in NY, Diversity Remains Elusive."   So, how's it going?

Almost 97 percent of midsize firms in New York have an active diversity committee or council and the same percentage of firms have a dedicated diversity budget. Nearly 94 percent of the midsize firms have affinity groups while 84 percent have diversity mentorship programs.

With what result?

92 percent in top management at New York’s midsize law firms are white.

Totally unacceptable!  Let's call on a few people to make a public confession.  Here's one:

“The successful firms are the ones who are going to be able to diversify their legal work forces,” said David Burch of Barclay Damon, who is based in the Syracuse office and is the firm’s hiring partner.

So how about your firm, Dave?

[T]he firm . . . doesn’t have any diverse equity partners.

Another confession, please!  

“More and different kind of voices at the table make for better decisions,” said Craig Wittlin, managing partner of Harter Secrest & Emery in upstate New York. . . .  "I think that every day we come into work saying we can do better and trying to find ways to do better."


“The people who are interested in coming to Rochester or Buffalo are people who grew up in Rochester or Buffalo or have some other tie to it,” [Wittlin] said. . . .   [W]hen the firm sends representatives to recruiting fairs at minority bar associations “very frequently we’re not on their radar geographically.”

Really, Craig, that's totally lame.  You are guilty!  There are several more of these shaming sessions at the link if you want some more entertainment.

It goes without saying that nobody at any of the interviewed firms, let alone the reporter, thinks to ask whether this sin-and-redemption narrative makes any sense in this context.  Could diversity sin really be a plausible explanation for why not a single one of the thousand plus major firms has 50% or more women partners, or 12% or more black partners, when 97% of these firms have a "diversity committee or council" and 94% of them have "affinity groups" and 84% of them have "diversity mentorship programs"?  Is anyone allowed to notice, let alone mention, the near total absence of entrepreneurship among women and blacks (or of other official ethnic or gender identity groups) in founding and growing their own firms?  

And if feeling guilty about the insufficient numbers of women and black lawyers at the top of major law firms isn't enough guilt for you today, then perhaps you would indulge a guilt trip about the abysmal lack of "fair" housing for minorities in this country.  What exactly is "fair" housing?  Got me, although I do know that the term is vague enough that advocates will never agree that the standard has been achieved no matter how much might be spent on housing giveaways and handouts.  Also, we know from the New York Times yesterday that "fair" housing is something that the Trump administration is scaling back.  The headline is "Under Ben Carson, HUD Scales Back Fair Housing Enforcement."  

Surely everyone knows that a principal reason that many members of minority groups remain poor is that they are denied "fair" access to housing in affluent areas.  That is why HUD, during the Obama administration, promulgated the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, or AFFH, Rule.  The subject has been covered at the Manhattan Contrarian here and here.  But now Trump and Carson propose to do away with that rule:

Last week, Mr. Carson told members of the Senate Banking Committee that he planned to delay another Obama-era rule [AFFH] that would have required local governments to create detailed plans to integrate racially divided neighborhoods. 

Guilty!  And you are guilty too, at least if you live in some relatively upscale area somewhere.  Believe me, there is plenty of guilt to go around here if you need something to feel guilty about today.

But:  Should I mention that the wealthiest large county in the country -- that would be New York County (i.e., Manhattan) -- has one of the highest concentrations of HUD-subsidized projects, housing about 10% of the residents of our island?  Many of these projects are immediately adjacent to, if not right in the middle of, some of the priciest real estate in the country; and all of them have easy access to the greatest concentration of high-paying jobs in the country.  Surely, then, bringing these poor people into close proximity of the wealthy has quickly eliminated their poverty?     

Actually -- according to a study from Abt Associates quoted at the link above -- not only have the poor living in the HUD-subsidized Manhattan projects remained poor, but living in proximity to the rich has made pretty much everything about their lives worse.

"The study confirms what those in public housing have seen with their own eyes: gentrification offers a lavish living to a privileged few while leaving NYCHA residents behind with nothing more than a remnant of their former purchasing power," said Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx), who chairs the public housing committee. . . .       

Well then, I guess you'll just have to feel guilty about the poor living far away from the rich, and also about the poor living right next door to the rich.  Either way, it's "unfair"!  For your atonement, you'll just have to vote in the next election cycle for some progressives to impose expensive collective solutions to these problems.  Of course, there is no chance that these solutions will work.  How could they, if, for example, both living near and far from the rich is "unfair" to the poor.  But then, finding an actual solution was never really the idea anyway.  Enjoy your guilt!