One of the most important (and challenging) aspects of developing a coherent worldview and belief system is to remain consistent. For a belief system to hold up, no matter how complex or simple the system may be, it must not contradict itself. The moment an inconsistency is recognized in a belief system, it falls apart – because two diametrically opposed ideas cannot both be true. While there is often plenty of space in our thoughts and beliefs for nuance and detail, you simply cannot possibly retain credibility by presenting opposing ideas and claiming that both are true.
The same goes for the rule of law. You cannot knowingly enact laws, rules, or policies that contradict each other – for the implication is that you make it impossible to obey one of the laws. As a simplistic example consider the following 2 fictitious policies:
- It is illegal to cut grass on Sunday.
- City yard maintenance will be completed on a weekly basis on Sundays.
Silly, I know. Policy #1 states unequivocally that grass cannot be cut on Sundays. Then Policy #2 states that the city will cut the grass only on Sundays. In this situation, Policy #2 directly contradicts Policy #1. Consistency is absolutely vital when it comes to enacting laws, rules, or policies of any kind. For when clear contradictions are present, it undermines the entire system making it impossible to follow or enforce.
This seems mind-numbingly simple and obvious. Duh – right? Well, apparently not so obvious for the City Council and Mayor of my hometown – Statesboro, Georgia. At a recent City Council Meeting, a lengthy “Anti-Discrimination Ordinance” was presented for a first reading AND voted forward to a second reading – that means that the majority of our city representatives voted that the ordinance deserved to move forward in the process and be considered seriously for adoption. The problems in this ordinance are legion and I cannot address them all in a simple blog post. But I wanted to share something contained in part 2 of the ordinance that is so incredibly inconsistent that I could not believe that it could possibly be voted forward by cognizant and conscious human beings.
You can find the full proposed ordinance and minutes from the meeting here. I’ll understand if you need to see it for yourself to believe it!
Let me draw your attention to 2 paragraphs that are nearly back-to-back:
Sec. 80-55. – Contractor discrimination.
(a)Statement of policy. It is the policy of the City that discrimination against businesses by reason of the race, color, gender or national origin of the ownership of any such business is prohibited. Furthermore, it is the policy of the Mayor and Council that the City and all vendors and contractors doing business with it shall provide to all businesses the opportunity to participate in contracting and procurement paid, in whole or in part, with monetary appropriations of the board without regard to the race, color, gender or national origin of the ownership of any such business. Similarly, it is the policy of the City that the contracting and procurement practices of the City should not implicate the City as a passive participant in discriminatory practices engaged in by private contractors or vendors who seek to obtain contracts with the City.
So, basically – it is the policy of the City of Statesboro, when considering various bids for the City’s business, NOT to discriminate against any business “by reason of the race, color, gender, or national origin of the ownership of any such business.” The playing field is supposed to be entirely level in bidding for City contracts when it comes to the business owner’s race, color, gender, or national origin. Simple. I agree wholeheartedly with this policy. Let any legitimate business submit a bid – may the best bid win. Right?
But, hold on… The ordinance isn’t finished. Look just 2 sections later:
Section 80-57. – Local MFBE buying preference.
The City of Statesboro desires to support local MFBE vendors and attempt to remedy historical disadvantages whenever possible. In order to facilitate this desire and also remain responsible to the residents of Statesboro and Bulloch County, the City of Statesboro shall have a six percent in-county MFBE vendor advantage. If a local MFBE vendor’s quote or bid is within six percent of the lowest submitted bid and that lowest submitted quote or bid is from an out-of-county and/or non MBFE vendor, the local MFBE vendor shall have the right to match that bid and shall be awarded the contract. In the event there are two local MFBE vendors within six percent, the local MFBE vendor with the lowest quote or bid submittal shall have the first opportunity to match the out-of-county and or non MFBE vendor’s quote or bid. If the lowest local MFBE vendor declines, the opportunity shall be offered to the next local MFBE vendor providing their bid is within the six percent range. This applies to purchases in the range of $1,000.01 and up. When public works and/or street projects are involved, this policy shall not contradict state law regarding mandated procedures for these processes. In addition, this policy shall not contradict any state funding, federal funding or grant stipulations that may be required.
MFBE stands for Minority or Female Business Entity/ies. So the City of Statesboro has expressed it’s desire to support local women or minority owned businesses and thereby “remedy historical disadvantages whenever possible”. So, they are trying to implement a policy or ordinance that stipulates that businesses with minority (presumably meaning not white) or female ownership will receive a 6% “advantage” when it comes to evaluating bids for the City’s business.
For example, let’s say the City is accepting bids from pharmacies for providing all city employee flu vaccines in 2021. They have 100 employees and are asking for a simple bid for how much it would cost to administer all 100 vaccines. If I own a pharmacy and bid $2,000 for the job and the pharmacy down the street bids $2,100 (5% higher) to administer the same flu vaccines, you would think it would be pretty simple for the City to see that the $2,000 bid is the best deal. However, if the pharmacy down the street is owned by a “female” or a “minority” then they will actually get the opportunity to match my bid and get the job over my pharmacy because my pharmacy (as a white man) would be a “non-MFBE vendor.”
Let me be very clear – that is the DEFINITION of DISCRIMINATION based on “race, color, gender, or national origin.” And therein lies the blatant inconsistency in this portion of the ordinance. It’s truly incredible to read in black and white that the City of Statesboro is considering an ordinance that is both fully committed to preventing discrimination in their City contract bidding process AND fully committed to discriminating against white male business owners.
Basically, what this ordinance says is this: Discrimination on the basis of sex or skin color is wrong – unless you are discriminating against a white man… because they deserve it. You can call this ordinance many, many things. You can agree or disagree with what it is trying to accomplish. But one thing you cannot ever claim about this particular portion of the ordinance is that it is consistent. It is absolutely inconsistent and therefore totally untenable.
A few observations:
- The implication of an ordinance like this is that women and minority business owners CANNOT compete on a level playing field. That certainly isn’t what I believe – but it is the clear implication of a handicapping policy like the one in question. It says to women that you need a leg up to compete with men. It says to black/hispanic/asian/indian/etc. businessmen that they need an artificial advantage in order to have a chance. Personally, I know both women and people with different skin colors who can compete just fine with me on a level playing field. I think any competent entrepreneur would be and should be offended by such blatant disrespect for their abilities to compete in the business world.
- You can either treat people the same or you can treat them differently. The question our representatives have to answer is this: Do you want ALL people to be treated the same – regardless of race or sex? This ordinance does not seek that end goal – quite the opposite.
- You cannot fix discrimination with more discrimination. Trying to use this form of reverse discrimination to remedy historical discrimination will never work – it will only bring greater division, resentment, and strife.
- This is a classic example of trying to engineer equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity. This ordinance does NOT seek to give MFBE’s an equal opportunity. It seeks to stack the deck and handicap the course to produce a specific outcome for women and minorities regardless of ability or competence. I believe it is a massive policy mistake to pursue equality of outcome through mechanisms like the one in question.
- To make the ordinance intellectually consistent, you MUST remove one or both of these subsections. It simply cannot be left as-is.
- Earlier in the ordinance, the writers provide a definition that is interesting. “Gender identity means the actual or perceived gender-related identity, expression, appearance, mannerisms, or other gender related characteristics, regardless of the individuals designated sex at birth.” So, the natural question that will arise with regards to MFBE is this – does “Female business owner” refer to biological sex or gender identity? If a vendor owner has a prostate, but they identify as a woman or a female – do they qualify as a MFBE or are they considered a non-MFBE. Furthermore, if “identifying” as a woman is enough to qualify for the bid advantage – is there a specific length of time that someone has to have considered themself a woman? For example, if I want to ensure my business gets the best shot at winning a particular contract, can I “identify” as a woman the day before submitting the bid? As you can see, the City officials have their work cut out for them! Good luck.
- Pray for our government officials as the Bible commands (I Timothy 2:1-4). From the president to city council, they all desperately need the prayers of faithful, consistent Christians.
A final message to all of you who are not white men: I deeply respect you as an image bearer of God. I value your individual gifts that are unique to you. If you own a business, I respect you as a business owner not as black business owner or female business owner or Mexican business owner or whatever. I truly don’t care if you are a man or a woman. I don’t care what color you are or where ancestry.com says you are from. I believe you have the ability to compete with me and anyone else. I believe that regardless of historical challenges, this country now provides incredible opportunities to all people – just look around. I believe you can stand on your own two feet. You don’t need a handicap – you be you and do you!
***Update: The Ordinance in question passed in its entirety 10/20/2020. It is now an official City of Statesboro Ordinance.