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.

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