Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums is at it again, this time pushing to cease asking job applicants whether they've been convicted of a felony in the past.
As with most Leftist proposals, this "don't mind the felony" policy starts out with the best of intentions. How can Oakland's tens of thousands of former inmates get ahead so long as they must repeatedly explain away their past indiscretions?
Not only that, but Dellums did spend enough time thinking about the issue to suggest eliminating the question only for jobs where a past conviction "should not be an issue." So, at least for now we needn't worry about convicted child molesters working in the schools.
The policy contains, however, a deeper flaw which is common to many Leftist plans. While it laudably seeks to raise up the downtrodden, it completely ignores the plight of those situated just above the downtrodden. Call them the semi-downtrodden.
For example, suppose a young man with little work experience decides to apply with the city for a job as a plumber. Now, this man doesn't have a great resume, but he did graduate from high school, and he's never been in trouble with the law. He's poor, but he's willing to work hard for an honest day's pay.
Another applicant comes along, with some experience as a plumber. This 30 year old does have a gap in his resume, as he spent five years in San Quentin for shooting his ex-wife in the arm with an unregistered handgun.
Who deserves the job?
The real answer is, "it depends." The person making the hiring decision should consider all relevant factors, including character, in making the assessment. However, under Oakland's new policy, the manager would have no way to know that the second applicant did time. So, he appears a far better candidate than the first applicant, despite the fact that with the prison information, the first applicant might be the right call.
The point is that decisions such as hiring are ultimately zero-sum games. We all know that the city government pays well, so it should come as no suprise to see numerous applicants for any given opening. Needless to say, when the government hires one person, it is rejecting all the other candidates.
So, while Dellums' policy could initially be viewed as only uplifting ex-convicts, this is not the whole story. It is simultaneously harming those with clean records who might otherwise have gotten jobs.
Now, I have nothing wrong with hiring ex-felons. I think people should do that if it makes sense. But I do have a problem with whitewashing people's backgrounds in service of an agenda.
I also take issue with the creation of what amounts to an anti-meritocracy. That is, the person who has done the most wrong receives the most benefit from the powers that be.
Maybe the government should seek out non-troublemakers for hiring. Maybe they should spend more time worrying about the victims of crime than the perpetrators.
Just an idea.