The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns profiling people and the liberal’s desire to do away with it. “Profiling” has been a bad word for years, and profiling people in an effort to solve crimes has been particularly frowned upon. Public safety officers faced the brunt of the attack because they were solving crimes by connecting certain crimes to specific groups. It does not matter to liberals that profiling makes sense and gets results.
Walter E. Williams – a black professor of economics at George Mason University and a man that I greatly admire - posted an article at The Daily Signal with the title “Profiling Is Perfectly Reasonable. In Fact, We All Do It.” He begins his article, “Profiling is needlessly a misunderstood concept. What’s called `profiling’ is part of the optimal stock of human behavior and something we all do.” In explaining “behavior” that could be considered “profiling,” Williams says, “Prior to making decisions, people seek to gain information. To obtain information is costly, requiring the expenditure of time and/or money. Therefore, people seek to find ways to economize on information costs.”
Williams then presents several circumstances where a person might profile. First, a manager of a moving company wants to hire ten “people to load and unload furniture onto and off trucks.” Ten women and ten men want the job, and “all appear to be equal except by sex.” Who would you hire? Would you spend lots of time and/or money doing “tests to determine how much weight they could carry under various conditions,” or would you “profile” by sex? I would choose most or all of the men because most men are stronger and have greater endurance than women do.
Second, a chief of police wants to solve “a rash of auto break-ins by which electronic equipment has been stolen.” Would you look for the culprits among the aged people living in senior citizen homes, or would you focus your resources on a younger age group or a certain sex? Do you think charges should be brought against a police chief who “used the physical attributes of age and sex as a crime tool?”
Third, most men do not get breast cancer. “Should doctors and medical insurance companies be prosecuted for the discriminatory practice of prescribing routine breast cancer screening for women but not for men?” Heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers are more common in certain sexes and races. Should everyone undergo expensive and sometimes painful tests for those diseases, or should doctors use profiling to determine which people are most likely to get the diseases?
I believe that Williams has some good arguments for using profiling in order to save time and expense. Williams closes his case for profiling with this information:
In the real world, there are many attributes correlated with race and sex. Jews are 3 percent of the U.S. population but 35 percent of our Nobel Prize winners.
Blacks are 13 percent of our population but about 74 percent of professional basketball players and about 69 percent of professional football players.
Male geniuses outnumber female geniuses 7-to-1. Women have wider peripheral vision than men. Men have better distance vision than women.
The bottom line is that people differ significantly by race and sex. Just knowing the race or sex of an individual may on occasion allow us to guess about something not readily observed.
I could add other statistics to those given by Williams: All terrorist attacks have been done by radical Muslims. Most people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border are from Mexico and Central America. All humans who give birth are women. Most rapists are male. I believe that these statistics – and others - should be considered when seeking answers and making decisions.
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