Monday, January 21, 2008

Comprehensiveness Of Action As A Judgement

As I debate with various people I continue to come of with points of structure that are needed within the debate to make the outcome more meaningful and to channel all party's efforts toward one of solution based on broad agreement rather than absolute concurrence. At the end of the day - I will never likely agree with my most (bi) polar opposite adversaries. If we were to debate with more structure - at least our jousting matches would be more substantive.

Such is the case with the need for the concept of COMPREHENSIVENESS! This is one of my operating words for 2008.

The need for the filter upon the "comprehensiveness" of an act was identified in several debates last year in which various adversaries, in seeking to defend an organization or individual that I was criticizing and questioning through out several points of ACTION that this person did to support the cause and thus make the case that my critique is unwarranted. To which my normal reply typically was "Did it work to solve the problem?"

I have learned that in debate with some people there is nothing that their adversary target can ever do to reach the person's threshold for acceptability. At the same time the littlest finger twitch of their ideological friend gets registered as a good deed. The concept of "comprehensiveness" is an attempt to apply CONTEXT to these actions.

The best example can be drawn from the levee walls of the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans just as a imaginary situation. In such an example there is a local organized group of residents who is being defended by my debate adversary. My opponent would defend their good works by noting all that they did in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In particular they might point to the fact that upon seeing a crack in the levee walls this organization of brave souls drove several pickup trucks of sandbags and piled them up against the levee, right where the breach was poised to occur. For these actions my debate adversary is poised to heap great praise upon them for doing extra effort to save their community.

My retort to them, of course would be "Did it work to save their community"? Was the piling of the sandbags at the last minute a COMPREHENSIVE enough strategy for the people to save their own community from the impending destruction by the most powerful waterway in North America? Clearly the answer is NO!

My goal here (if this were real) is not to attack the good words of these people as indeed they did so. The goal would be to look at the BIG PICTURE of the circumstance. Make note that we had evidence compiled from 1969 with Hurricane Betsy that this area was flood prone. A COMPREHENSIVE solution would have been enacted years and even decades in advance of the day that Hurricane Katrina hit and they were in near 100% response mode. It would have involved the evacuation plans for people, possibly the mandate that those who's houses are below sea level purchase a rubber inflatable raft to be stored in their attic with a hatchet to break through their roof when the water rises.

With the filter of comprehensiveness - the true test of "Did it work" would be borne out by ample evidence of "regardless of YES or NO we damned sure gave it our best shot but the prevailing powers were much greater than any team of man could ever hope to reasonably turn away".

Just as in a murder trial - "comprehensiveness" is not absolute but instead a PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE in support of the case that YES here are all of the facts supporting our case. Any reasonable person upon reviewing the evidence would concluded that INDEED this was a worthy try.

As I criticize the strategy of Affirmative Action it is not because I am just willing to toss away the fact that there are several hundred (maybe even thousand) of minority students who graduate each year having been given admissions assistance to various elite colleges that have highly competitive admissions processes. I criticize it from the standpoint of its ability to COMPREHENSIVELY address the situation that we face.

Instead of looking at the AA freshman admissions each fall in college - I instead choose to look at the number of Black and minority students entering the 9th grade each year and use THIS population as a measure of our success by noting how many of them will enter into college and then graduate in 4 to 6 years. Clearly with this view - the focus on Affirmative Action fails miserably. AA focuses mostly on students who have the background to be able to get into SOME college, SOMEWHERE. In focusing on the 9th grade population we can focus on the WIDE MIDDLE - the people who are on the verge of living their professional lives with only a high school diploma or a career that is potentially enhanced with a college diploma in hand. It is my opinion that the concept of "these two points are not mutually exclusive, we can do BOTH" has proven to be impractical over time due to the fact that our present leadership, when given a choice between INTERNAL building & management versus external battles with White folks - will nearly always choose the later as it hits upon their acumen and makes more headlines in the process.

The concept of COMPREHENSIVENESS is a worthy filter to place upon one's assessment of a given plan.

(Next week we will present the counter argument to comprehensiveness - that being "Trying To Boil The Ocean" with a plan :lol:)

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