"Queen for a Day" was a runaway hit on radio and TV. The stories were often truly hideous and were always told with real feeling to wring a few more claps out of the audience.
This barbaric spectacle has now been resurrected by the federal government as a method for awarding federal transportation contracts. Instead of washing machines, the winners get government contracts. The only thing that's missing is the studio audience.
The Department of Transportation's Queen for a Day program was created in response to the Constitution. What the government would really like to do is discriminate against citizens on the basis of their race. (Governments LOVE that!) But the government can't just come out and impose strict racial quotas. The Constitution is very persnickety about governments engaging in race discrimination.
So instead, the federal government devised a crackpot and utterly humiliating scheme for distributing transportation contracts. It is designed to look like contracts are being given to the applicant with the most pathetic sob story. In fact, however, the clap-o-meter is set -- by regulation -- to give the most applause to women and minority applicants.
We still have racial quotas, but now the government will force the beneficiaries to degrade themselves before being awarded the contract.
The Queen for a Day law (aka Racial Quotas, but Even More Humiliating) is known as the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program. In order to qualify, potential contractors must show that they are both "socially and economically disadvantaged."
To be "socially disadvantaged," the aspiring queen must have been the victim of "racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias." To be "economically disadvantaged," the aspiring queen must have "diminished capital and credit opportunities" on account of being "socially disadvantaged."