Paul Jacob

I’m certainly not suggesting affirmative action to tilt the playing field toward minor parties. They shouldn’t have it easier getting on the ballot, or be placed every time on top of the list for votes.

That would be too much; indeed, that would be crazy. But, remember, it would be crazy because it would not be fair.

So why not chuck the whole incumbent-favoring party-archy and go back to fairness?

I’ll let that question just hang there, and press the question to other matters.

Consider affirmative action, or what I call racial and gender preferences. I think such practices should be ended. I have trouble seeing how anyone could disagree.

Now, I don’t for a second argue that women and black Americans haven’t been discriminated against. They have — terribly. But it isn’t fair to penalize an innocent person of any color or sex today for the meanness or crime of someone else, yesterday.

If that’s the principle of our polity, then how far advanced are we from throwing virgins into volcanoes?

After I made a similar point in one of my Common Sense e-letters, I received a note from a friend asking where I stood on legacy admissions to universities — that is, receiving extra “points” because your parent or grandparent went to the school. I can understand why colleges might do this. It helps keep alumni support. And I can understand how important it is for some to have their offspring receive education at their alma mater.

But how can any public institution countenance giving someone a leg up because of what some ancestor did. That’s not fair to other taxpayers, who contribute to the support of these colleges and universities even if they do not attend.

Merit is a better and fairer measure. And notice, here (and once again) that fairness isn’t the same as strict equality. People aren’t equal, so shouldn’t be treated the same. The standard of equity demands that we be treated according to our merits.

This even applies to sports. No one — at least no one who’s a good sport — wants a biased referee. And, in setting up contests, no one should want a college football Bowl Championship Series that’s a joke.

The BCS, created by the six major collegiate athletic conferences, picks the two top teams for a national championship game, as well as deciding which teams will go to the other most lucrative bowl games. The BCS (it would be more apt without the “C”) uses polls, various computer models, and perhaps a Ouija board to make their selections.

This season ended with Utah as the only undefeated team. So why aren’t the Utes the champs?

Well, we may find out more soon, as the Utah Attorney General is threatening an anti-trust lawsuit against the BCS.

Sure, BCS defense lawyers will argue that Florida played a tougher schedule than did Utah, and lost only one game, defeating powerhouse Oklahoma by 10 points (in the so-called championship game). On cross-examination it may come out that Texas also had only one loss and also beat Oklahoma by 10 points. Then there is USC; that team, too, lost only one game all season.

The solution is simple. Let the champion be decided on the field of play and not by experts or computer geeks. Create a national playoff. It can be done. Other sports have managed it. But the folks running the major conferences resist.

Why? Because they want to play in the “big leagues”? And act like politicians

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.