Skunk

I had to laugh thinking how Kelly would have reacted not only to the security headaches but to the exasperating management regulations that never existed in his day. I might be cleared for top secret, but I was also on a government contract and that meant conforming to all sorts of mandatory guidelines and stiff regulations. Kelly had operated in a paradise of innocence, long before EPA, OSHA, EEOC, or affirmative action and minority hiring policies became the laws of our land. I was forced by law to buy two percent of my materials from minority or disadvantaged businesses, but many of them couldn’t meet my security requirements. I also had to address EEOC requirements on equal employment opportunity and comply with other laws that required hiring a certain number of the disabled. Burbank was in a high-Latino community and I was challenged as to why I didn’t employ any Latino engineers. “Because they didn’t go to engineering school” was my only reply. If I didn’t comply, I could lose my contract, its high priority notwithstanding. And it did no good to argue that I needed highly skilled people to do very specialized work, regardless of race, creed, or color. I tried to get a waiver on our stealth production, but it was almost impossible.

Skunk Works book.

So, of course this rubs me the wrong way.

I love how engineers know exactly what compounding effects are and how all of a sudden they forget about it the second it applies to us, humans. We do not live in a vacuum. All the requirements to make a better, more equal world, rose from history. There was/is a precedent –a phenomenal bias towards anyone not a white man- that led to those requirements. The precedent lasted for decades if not centuries if we want to go all the way down to it. So, you can be mad as hell at your ancestors and them only.

Secondly, those stealth vehicles and top secret planes were made despite all that “horrible” administrative overhead. Some waivers might have happened and/or things went without minorities on board. Bottom line is, the work went through and was done, regardless of what the government pushed Lockheed to do on the civil rights side of employment, right? And because it was the right thing to do, I don’t think there’s anything to whine about. Affirmative action’s goal always has been a noble one and always will be. Once again, blame your ancestors/compounding effects.

Thirdly, I read Kelly’s autobiography. This man was about solutions and not about complaining. We need black engineers at Lockheed by law? He would have gone down south, hit every single HBCU, talk to the best local black engineers, make them move to California. Problem solved. It would have been a pain in the ass but he would have learned a lot and probably would have just not been interested in talking shit about that. The government pays for all of that, anyway.

Elitism is a hell of a drug. Elitism drills in people’s heads that some people are better than others. They aren’t. it’s all about access.

Different people accessing things at the same time/rate have the same kind of output.

It’s not plane science.

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