Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Of Crisis and Hypocrisy

There are a number of causes for worry right now. The world’s output is slowing and many places even shrinking. Unemployment is rising. A number of places in Africa seem to be retreating into anarchy (not the friendly kind supported by skinny teens in t-shirts either). Afghanistan is not a lot nearer to peace. Nobody’s sure what Iran is going to pull next, and so many more problems. The one good thing about serious problems is they reveal serious double standards, dogmatism, and other forms of general foolishness.

My current example comes from two articles in the most recent edition of Economist magazine. The first, Taking From The Givers, presents worrying examples discrimination. There is legislation being proposed that would limit tax deductions on charitable giving by some people. I don’t object to this too much. I’ve always felt that if you’re going to give, do so and be done with it. What I object to is treating different people differently. The more worrying issue for is the proposal that charitable organizations must exhibit sufficient “diversity” in their employees (and potentially their recipients) to maintain their charitable status. There are even hints, it is claimed, of quotas for certain groups. These groups would include the usual beneficiaries of such programs. Specifically included are likely to be women, African Americans, and Latinos. Hiring on the basis of reproductive organs, skin colour, or ethnicity is bigotry. Those on the left of the political spectrum have always had a penchant for this particular flavour of bigotry, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

What makes this really revealing is a later piece in the same edition, Don’t Keep On Trucking. This piece documents the proposed termination of a program in the US to allow Mexican registered trucks to haul freight in the US. Canadian trucks already operate in the US. Such openness is specifically required under NAFTA, but anybody who’s heard of softwood lumber knows the US doesn’t always choose to honour its treaties. This action will be damaging to the Latino truckers who were operating in the US and dramatically reduce trade between the two countries. Punch line: fewer jobs for Latinos south of the US/Mexico border and hopefully more jobs for American Teamsters (a group that isn’t noted for its ethnic diversity).

It’s the same political party, the same people in power, undertaking both actions. The hypocrisy is so plain. American firms and organizations must experience higher costs, lower productivity, and higher taxes to support Latino workers. This will transfer wealth to Latinos. On the other hand, American firms and workers must protected from productive Latino workers. Wealth must not be transferred to Latinos. Ummm. I’m confused.

I guess the one commonality of both policies is a reduction in value for money received by people who pay for both services. Maybe that’s the core ideal to which the current rulers of American adhere.

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