news @ nature.com - US genetics bill blocked again - One-man lobby halts antidiscrimination law.
Legislators rush into action without understanding the issues in another example of preemptive lawmaking. Every company wants to hire the most suitable candidates. They use resumes, interviews, questionnaires, tests, and contact with previous employers as surrogates for the information they seek: Is this person my best candidate? If there is a genetic marker that will provide this information as accurately or more accurately than current methods, is it fair to make companies continue to go the roundabout and inefficient route to picking employees? To answer no is to promote either gross inefficiency and waste on the part of companies using imperfect selection practices or an obscurely random style of welfare that has companies taking on a percentage of unequipped employees because it couldn't use an appropriate filter system.
Do I advocate racially biased hiring practices, then? No, of course not. What has one thing to do with the other? Why is the epithet of "racial discrimination" flung at anyone who believes that the genotype of a human being contributes to his or her phenotype in a way not radically dissimilar to the way the genotype of say, a rat, contributes to its phenotype?
Many school districts use parental income or location as surrogates for race. Banned from overt racial discrimination against Caucasians by law, they give preferential admissions treatment to people from "black neighborhoods" (who often belong to a certain race - can you guess which?). This is just one example of how surrogate measures are obscenely concocted to circumvent anti-discrimination protocols. It is also an example of what any company has to do when hiring: It can't measure competence directly - there is no "employee competence scale" - so it uses surrogate measures. Ultimately, efficient companies will find the most competent employees. So assuming that genetic screening could become a practical tool in employee selection (an unlikely possibility in the near future), this proposed bill will dictate either inefficient selection procedures or lead to not hiring the most suited employees.
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