Monday, February 27, 2012

Sensitivity and Muslims

U.S. civilian and military officials frequently apologize to Muslim countries for acts deemed offensive and insensitive to Muslims, most recently the burning of Korans in Afghanistan that has thus far resulted in the death of four Americans.  Lives lost for unintentional but insensitive disposal of Korans hardly seems a fair trade.  First degree murder requires proof of intent.

Thoughtful Ideas suggests the following steps to eliminate or reduce the likelihood of committing further insensitive acts:

1.  Immediately withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

2.  Reduce the U.S. diplomatic footprint in Iraq and other Muslim countries to a bare bones minimum.

3.  End all financial and military assistance to Muslim countries.

4.  Require all Muslim countries that request U.S. aid of any kind to grant U.S. Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and those of other faiths full open permission to practice their faiths, possess their bibles, and wear their religious symbols.

5.  Let those countries that depend on Middle East oil provide the ships, airplanes, and forces required to insure the free flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz and reduce the U.S. presence.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sensitivity Fosters Self-Censorship

Don't even think about researching and writing (or speaking) about a topic that some group or prominent individual declares insensitive and offensive.  It will only get you in trouble.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sensitivity Precludes Sound Public Policy

Good public policy requires an accurate diagnosis of a problem in order to propose constructive solutions.  But accurate diagnosis is becoming increasingly difficult.  Why?

Because an accurate diagnosis of a problem affecting a specific group of individuals bound together by a common identity of language, religious, gender, race, sexual practice, ethnicity, or other distinguishing feature or behavior will give rise to charges of insensitivity and offensiveness.  To avoid this damaging charge, a public policy analyst or team of analysts dare not trespass on problems or pathologies associated with any of these identity-defined groups.

And so...the problems fester.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sensitivity Über Alles

Think before speaking and writing.

Watch your words carefully.

When in doubt, keep silent lest you offend an individual or group.  The fastest growth industry in America is individuals and groups designating themselves as offended.  Restrictions must be placed on insensitive expression and those guilty of the act (e.g., suspension from or loss of job).

The circle of acceptable (inoffensive) speech and writing is shrinking.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Just a Little More

President Obama and his fellow Democrats want the rich to pay “just a little more” in income taxes to underwrite an extension of the 2% cut in the payroll tax rate for working Americans, his other tax and spending proposals, and reduce the long-run growth in the federal deficit.

How much more?  For starters, at least to President Clinton’s top marginal rate of 39.6% for couples earning over $250,000 a year (presumably measured by the IRS definition of “taxable income”).

Then what?  Will President Obama sign a blood oath that 39.6% is the absolute “little more” he will ask the rich to pay, excluding the additional Medicare tax in Obamacare (if upheld by the Supreme Court)?

No matter how many times the question is asked, not a single supporter or adviser of President Obama, or the president himself, has been willing to put a number on a “little more” or state an ironclad cap on the top tax rate.

Wonder why?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Elite Universities Foster Inequality

Three principles are interwoven throughout elite higher education: (1) sustainability (of the environment), (2) diversity (women and minority students and faculty), and (3) reducing inequality (narrowing the income gap between upper- and lower-income households).

Principles 2 and 3 are somewhat incompatible with each other.  Female enrollment has surpassed that of males in undergraduate education and in most graduate fields.  Well-educated men and women tend to marry each other resulting in high-income households and well-educated children.

The income tax imposes higher rates on higher-income households, which reduces somewhat the financial well-being of professional couples.  It penalizes high-income married women or men, thus taking back some of the rewards of higher education.

If enacted, President Obama’s plan to raise tax rates on households earning more than $250,000 would further penalize professional couples.  Perhaps that is the price they are willing to pay to reduce inequality.