Thursday, November 09, 2006

Back on November 6th I wrote in this blog about "diversity," noting that it can be either good or bad: good when it encourages us to a higher level of understanding and cooperation, and bad when it encourages a Balkanization (don't you just love that word?) of racial, ethnic, or religious groups.

It can also be taken to silly and wasteful organizational extremes. Almost every major business, and certainly every government agency, has an office of substantial size dedicated to ensuring that the business or agency is properly "diverse," whether or not that diversity has any particular impact on its operations and efficiency. I found what may be the ultimate example of this not long ago as I was cruising down a Pentagon hallway and spotted a sign on an office door: "Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Strategic Diversity Integration (Research Assistant)."

I was amazed. First of all, by the sheer size of the signature block, which must certainly occupy the lower third of the page of an average letter. Second, by the bombastic magnificence of the title itself, which sounds positively imperial. And third, just by the sheer silliness of having such an individual...who, of course, is no doubt handsomely paid and has a staff of eight people to help ensure "strategic diversity integration," whatever that is. I did a Google search and found this article, which offers some explanation - http://www.shns.com/shns/g_index2.cfm?action=detail&pk=PATTERAKIS-03-23-06. But I find myself still hugely unimpressed.

At a time when the Air Force is at war, when it is shedding people in order to pay for aircraft, weapons, and operating expenses, I think it's amazing that the service has chosen to spend scarce dollars on a nine-person office dedicated to the feel-good goal of ensuring "strategic diversity integration" of the force that remains. Somehow, I doubt that the Soldier or Marine who calls for air support to help get him out of a tough firefight will be very concerned that someone on the Air Staff in Washington made sure that the pilot who comes to his aid was carefully selected to represent a particular demographic slice of America...he cares that the person can fly the airplane to the right place and drop fire and iron on the heads of the people who are trying to kill him.

Yes, diversity per se is a worthy thing. We grow and learn through our contact with people whose backgrounds, experiences, and cultures are different from our own. But I scarcely think that the Air Force needs a Deputy Assistant Secretary and staff to encourage this.

If someone has a good explanation of why this is a good investment of my tax dollars, I'm willing to listen and consider it...but you've got a tough job ahead of you.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

1 comment:

Mister Thorne said...

Bilbo:

I thought you might enjoy this blog about diversity in the legal profession:

http://www.misterthorne.org/blog_lfd

Enjoy!

:Mister Thorne