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applications of the Affirmative Action

Affirmative action works. There are thousands of examples of situations where
people of color, white women, and working class women and men of all races who
were previously excluded from jobs or educational opportunities, or were denied
opportunities once admitted, have gained access through affirmative action. When
these policies received executive branch and judicial support, vast numbers of
people of color, white women and men have gained access they would not otherwise
have had. These gains have led to very real changes. Affirmative action programs
have not eliminated racism, nor have they always been implemented without
problems. However, there would be no struggle to roll back the gains achieved if
affirmative action policies were ineffective. The implementation of affirmative
action was America's first honest attempt at solving a problem, it had
previously chosen to ignore. In a variety of areas, from the quality of health
care to the rate of employment, blacks still remain far behind whites. Their
representation in the more prestigious professions is still almost
insignificant. Comparable imbalances exist for other racial and ethnic
minorities as well as for women. Yet, to truly understand the importance of
affirmative action, one must look at America's past discrimination to see why,
at this point in history, we must become more "color conscious".
History Of Discrimination In America: Events Leading To Affirmative Action. The
Declaration of Independence asserts that "all men are created equal."
Yet America is scarred by a long history of legally imposed inequality. Snatched
from their native land, transported thousands of miles-in a nightmare of disease
and death-and sold into slavery, blacks in America were reduced to the legal
status of farm animals. A Supreme Court opinion, Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857),
made this official by classifying slaves as a species of "private
property." Even after slavery was abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment in
1865, American blacks, other minorities, and women continued to be deprived of
some of the most elementary right of citizenship. During the Reconstruction,
after the end of the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment was passed in 1868,
making blacks citizens and promised them the "equal protection of the
laws." In 1870 the Fifteenth Amendment was passed, which gave blacks the
right to vote. Congress also passed a number of civil rights laws barring
discrimination against blacks in hotels, theaters, and other places. However,
the South reacted by passing the "Black Codes, " which severely
limited the rights of the newly freed slaves, preventing them in most states
from testifying in courts against whites, limiting their opportunities to find
work, and generally assigning them to the status of second or third class
citizen. White vigilante groups like the Klu Klux Klan began to appear, by
murdering and terrorizing blacks who tried to exercise their new rights.
"Legal" ways were also found for circumventing the new laws; these
included "grandfather clauses", poll taxes, white only primary
elections, and constant social discrimination against and intimidation of
blacks, who were excluded form education and from any job except the most
menial. In 1883, the Supreme Court declared a key civil rights statute, one that
prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, unconstitutional. And in
1896, Plessy v. Ferguson (163 U.S. 537 [1896]), the Court declared that the
state of Louisiana had the right to segregate their races in every public
facility. Thus began the heyday of "Jim Crow" legislation. In Justice
John Marshall Harlan's lone dissent, he realized it was a mockery. He wrote,
" We boast of the freedom enjoyed by our peoples above all other peoples.
But it is difficult to reconcile that boast with a state of the law which,
practically, puts a brand of servitude and degregation upon a large class of our
fellow citizens, our equals before the law. This thin disguise of 'equal'
accommodations for passengers in railroad coaches will not mislead anyone, or
atone for the wrong this day done." Not until sixty years later, in Brown
v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (347 U.S. 483 [1954]), was Plessy
overturned. Chief Justice earl Warren declared the unanimous opinion of the
court by saying: "We cannot turn the clock back to 1868, when the Amendment
was adopted, or even to 1896, when Plessy v. Ferguson was written." In
today's world, "separate educational facilities are inherently
unequal." This decision sparked racial tensions all across America. in
1957, President Eisenhower had to call federal troops into Little Rock,
Arkansas, after the state's governor forcibly barred black children from
entering white schools. In 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested and fined, for not
moving to the back of a public bus, ... more

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Has the De Beer diamond lost i

"And while the law [of competition] may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it ensures the survival of the fittest in every department."
-Andrew Carnegie

Since the 1930s when Sir Ernest Oppenheimer established the Central Selling Organisation, De Beers Consolidated Mines have controlled the selling and marketing of approximately 80% of the worlds rough diamond production (Capon, 1998).  However, in 1996, Australian company, Argyle, stunned the world by announcing that they would no longer market diamonds through De Beers C.S.O.  Many economists predicted that Argyle wouldnt be able to compete against the mammoth De Beers. Yet in the year to December 31, Argyle recorded a profit of $142.5 million, an increase of 76% (Treadgold, 1999).  De Beers is currently looking like losing the monopoly it has had on the diamond industry for almost seventy years.

A monopoly is an industry in which there is only one organisation that supplies a particular good, service or resource which has no other similar alternatives.  Monopolies are created by barriers which restrict the entry of new organisations (McTaggart et al, 1999).  In a perfect monopoly, the seller has total control over the quantity of goods or services available for sale and the price at which the items are sold (Butterworths Business .. Dictionary, 1997).  De Beers Consolidated Mines Central Selling Organisation has had a monopoly on the selling of rough diamonds since the 1930s.
A monopoly industry is characterised by having no close substitutes.  Although there are substitutes for diamonds such as rubies, emeralds and cubic zirconias, many believe that there are no other gems that exhibit the same beauty of the diamond.  Perhaps this belief was created out of De Beers advertising campaign, A Diamond is Forever (Capon, 1998, pg 6) which began in 1947.  Whatever the reason that consumers want diamonds, and diamonds only, doesnt matter.  Consumers demand the real thing and will pay for the luxury.

The second factor which creates a monopoly market are barriers to enter the market.  Common barriers to entry include licenses, patents, entry lags, economics of scale and control of inputs (Browning & Browning, 1989).  Control of inputs is the factor that constricts entry into the diamond industry.  De Beers Consolidated Mines of South Africa, through its ownership of mines and its central sales organisation, controls 85 percent of the worlds diamond output (Browning & Browning, 1989, pg 330).  De Beers enormous clasp on the marketing of rough diamonds has made it almost impossible for other producers to enter the diamond market.

The combination of lack of close substitutes and control of inputs created the De Beers monopoly.  Argyle has rewritten the books on the marketing of diamonds and in turn has caused De Beers grip on the industry to loosen.  

Argyles entry into the market has changed the way in which customers are supplied and is one of the chief reasons behind its successful entry into the diamond marketing industry. The dictatorial style of marketing used by De Beers where packets of diamonds are shown at sights and the customer must take what is offered with no possible negotiation is being threatened by Argyles approach to marketing (Treadgold, 1999).  According to the managing director of Argyle, Gordon Gilchrist, their marketing method has aligned the customer and the supplier (Treadgold, 1999).
The other reason that has enabled Argyle to move in on the diamond market is their slight product differentiation.  Argyles diamonds are of lessor quality compared to De Beers.  World diamond prices have fallen over past years. In 1990 an average diamond sold for $US780 per carat in Japan.  Today, the current price is $US410 per carat (Treadgold, 1999).  Customer preferences have shifted to a higher demand for cheaper, lessor quality diamonds, the type that Argyle is supplying.

Argyles shift away from De Beers has resulted in a demise of the diamond industry monopoly with a shift to an oligopoly market type.  An oligopoly market structure is characterised by a small number of organisations supplying a certain good, service or resource.  Examples of oligopoly style markets include the petroleum industry, airplane manufacture and computer software (McTaggart et al, 1999).   The firms in oligopoly ... more

applications of the

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