Friday, February 27, 2015

White Male Privilege

Patricia Arquette, Best Supporting Actress, at the Oscars on 2/22/2015 (AP photo)
White male privilege has come under fire recently.  On February 12th, during a Smithsonian Associates event held at George Washington University, Ruth Bader Ginsburg defended the idea of a “living Constitution.”  The Supreme Court Justice said the Constitution must expand to cover more than the “white, property-owning men” who were “We the People” at the time of the founding.
Ten days later, at the 87th Academy Awards ceremony, Patricia Arquette accepted her award for Best Supporting Actress.  She closed with this comment:
"To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America."

Both of these remarks address the burden that a certain gender and skin tone places on our culture.  If we could somehow restrict white males in America, our country would be a better place.  America needs to discriminate based on race and gender!

It’s a concept that is met with exuberant enthusiasm by actress Meryl Streep.  Ms. Streep was immediately on her feet and applauding when Ms. Arquette delivered her remarks.
Maybe now is a good time to bring justice to this malignant state of affairs.  What would be the best way to start?
My thought is that we could use the Social Security Administration to get things going.  How about cutting the benefit checks for white males?  There are several positive outcomes:
--These are the people who were around during America’s civil rights movement in the ‘60s.  They deserve to pay reparations for being alive during this unsettling period of American history.
--A 50% cut seems appropriate.  People of the male gender tend to die earlier than their female counterparts, so they must pay more up front to keep things fair.
--If the disadvantage accrues too strongly to Democratic Party voters, a Lois Lerner protégé at Treasury could “inadvertently” avoid applying the cuts to those white males affiliated with the Democratic Party.
This action could be done legislatively or by Executive Order.  If done legislatively, it could be introduced by Democrats similar in mindset to the late Fritz Hollings, who along with Charlie Rangel would submit bills to reinstate the military draft, with a provision to draft women.  The bills never passed, but they showcased the dissimilar treatment afforded gender in our culture.
Similar actions could be taken now, to demonstrate the need to force equality in our society.
I don’t think Patricia Arquette would necessarily promote the idea.  Her job is not to bring justice to the social fabric of America.  Her job is to teach the Hate.
(Ruth Bader Ginsburg must be smiling.)

UPDATE 3/7/2015:
The Wall Street Journal has an article in its Opinion section that points out gender equality is best served by free markets, rather than governmental control.  The article is behind the WSJ paywall, so I'll copy it below.  The title of the article is,"For Gender Equality, You Can't Beat Capitalism."

By Antony Davies and James R. Harrigan,

International Women’s Day, commemorated annually on March 8, has become a celebration of women’s achievements in politics, business and the arts. This year, events are scheduled in at least 86 countries, with nearly 180 in the United States alone. These ceremonies, speeches and workshops will examine nearly every aspect of women’s lives, but few, if any, will note International Women’s Day’s origins in American socialism and Eastern European communism.

The day was first declared by the American Socialist Party in 1909 and, in 1917, it set into motion a sequence of events that would become Russia’s February Revolution. Female workers went on strike that day to achieve “bread and peace” in the face of World War I. Leon Trotsky later concluded that this event inaugurated the revolution.

Socialist leaders used International Women’s Day ostensibly to highlight their commitment to gender equity. Yet contrary to its socialist origins, more than 100 years of evidence since the first International Women’s Day suggests that free markets are the single best solution to inequity, gender or otherwise.

On this the data are unmistakable. And the Fraser Institute and the United Nations Development Program have more than enough from which to draw clear conclusions.

In its annual Economic Freedom of the World Report, the Fraser Institute, a Canadian free-market think tank, assesses degrees of economic freedom within countries. The United Nations Development Program, in its Human Development Reports, evaluates countries’ degrees of gender equality. Fraser does not consider equality when ranking economies according to economic freedom, and the U.N. does not consider economic freedom when ranking economies according to equality. But when the two reports are combined, a fascinating pattern emerges.

In countries that are (according to Fraser) more economically free, such as Switzerland and Finland, women have achieved (according to the U.N.) greater outcome equality. In the half of countries that are less economically free, such as India and Algeria, the U.N. measure shows that women experience significantly more inequality (almost 75% more according to the inequality index).
What is the implication? As compared with men, women in economically freer countries hold more elected seats in government, have longer life expectancies, achieve higher education levels, and earn higher incomes than do women in less economically free countries. In short, in freer economies, women’s lives are longer, more prosperous and more self-directed.

This result might not come as a surprise. Rich countries tend to be more economically free, and people in rich countries tend to have more time and energy to be concerned with outcome equality. So perhaps gender equality isn’t a function of economic freedom so much as wealth.

Except that it is. If we restrict our vision to the poorest countries, the same pattern emerges. Comparing the Fraser and U.N. data sets, we find that, of the poorest 25% of countries (as measured by per-capita GDP), the half that are more economically free achieve more gender equality than do the half that are less economically free. According to the U.N.’s own numbers, women suffer less inequality in poor, economically free countries than they do in poor, economically unfree countries. Women in poor but economically free countries hold more elected seats in government (relative to men), are better educated (relative to men), and live longer (relative to men) than do women in poor but economically unfree countries.

Since the advent of International Women’ Day, many, from the common people to presidents and popes, have looked to government control of markets as the solution to the problems of poverty and inequality. A landslide of evidence over the past century shows that, regardless of our good intentions, the more we allow governments to control markets, the more poverty and inequality we experience.

There is no better time to note these facts than on International Women’s Day. A celebration that was once simple Communist propaganda can, and should, be repurposed to celebrate the forces that actually lift people out of poverty and inequality. The evidence suggests that equality doesn’t come at the end of the government’s gun, but at the end of the free market’s handshake.

Mr. Davies is associate professor of economics at Duquesne University. Mr. Harrigan is director of academic programs at Strata, a free-market think tank in Logan, Utah.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Eschew the Hate

Let's start a conversation on Hate.
Our world is beset with people engaged in beheadings, suicide bombings and other forms of mayhem.  World leaders strive to wipe groups “off the map.”  What is it that attracts these people to Hate?
Authoritarians automatically gravitate toward it.  It mobilizes people.  It gets results!
The rest of us need some guidance.  What is Hate?  How does one teach Hate?  What are the specifics?
I’ll provide a quick primer.  Hate has two specific qualities:
            --It must involve intensely negative characterizations.
            --It must be directed at an identity group.
That means a person who says, “You are a racist!” is using an intensely negative characterization, but it is directed at an individual, not an identity group.  It is not Hate.
A person who says, “I don’t appreciate how Fundamentalists view the right to life!” is taking a specific stance.  It is not a characterization, even though the remark is directed at an identity group.
To be Hate, both of these elements – an identity group and a negative characterization – must be in place.
That means a person who says, “Christians deserve to die!” is expressing Hate.
A group chanting, “Power to the killers of cops!” is expressing Hate.
But if we understand the examples of Hate, what do we do about it?
There were a couple of techniques used during the recent elections of 2014 that can shed some light on this.  Here in Colorado, the campaign of Senator Mark Udall spent a significant amount of time running ads depicting Cory Gardner as a threat to women.  In Iowa, Joni Ernst was subject to a “war on women” accusation.
The Gardner and Ernst campaigns give us examples of two anti-Hate techniques:
            --Elevated Associations
Joni Ernst used the “Trivialization” technique to deflect the characterizations.  Her response was, “I am a woman, and I have been to war.  This is not war.”  She called upon her personal experience to trivialize the accusation.
Cory Gardner used the “Elevated Associations” technique.  He ran ads counter to the “threat on women” accusation, indicating he supported making birth control pills available over-the-counter rather than by prescription.  When voters saw Mark Udall characterizing Cory Gardner as a threat to women, they were reminded of the ad making birth control an over-the-counter product.  The negative characterization was elevated to a positive association for Congressman Gardner.
If you see the characterization of Republicans as a threat to women being a component of Hate, you aren’t far off the mark.  The characterization is “negative,” if not “intensely negative.”  The application of the characterization only to Republicans makes it against an identity group.  It might be considered “politics as usual,” but the elements of Hate are there.
That brings us to the Teachers of Hate.  As noted above, Authoritarians are drawn to Hate because it is an extremely effective way to influence people.  If you can teach people to hate, you are able to control them.  When people believe all their problems are caused by a particular identity group, they will endure unbelievable hardship for a given cause.
Who are the Teachers of Hate?  There are a multitude of candidates from around the world, but I will highlight a few from American politics.  Herewith, the Teachers of Hate:

Arquette, Patricia - Film and television actress.

            02/22/2015 - Republicans are a threat to women.
Cohen, Steve – U. S. Representative from Tennessee’s CD-9.
            01/19/2010 – Republicans are liars.
DeGette, Diana – U. S. Representative from Colorado’s CD-1.
            03/21/2010 – Republicans are killers.
Olbermann, Keith – Sports and political commentator.
            02/24/2010 – Republicans are sub-human.
Sanchez, Loretta – U. S. Representative from California’s CD-46.
            01/13/2015 – Republicans want to separate mothers from their children.

Return to Bottom