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OPINION | BRADLEY GITZ: Plague of dumb (Part I)

by Bradley Gitz | January 3, 2022 at 2:32 a.m.

An inevitable consequence of the dumbing down of society is the extent to which dumb ideas so quickly gain currency.

People come to believe things which their grandparents would have found bizarre, even laughable, and which are more suited to ignorant tribes under the guidance of shamans and witch doctors than educated human beings governed by elected officials.

As such, the following are, in two parts, the 10 dumbest of the many dumb ideas that circulated in our political discourse over the past year. Some of them date back further, but each gained significant media purchase in 2021 and was endorsed by prominent politicians and pundits.

10. Doing away with standardized exams as requirements in the college admissions process. Initially presented as a pandemic-related measure, the dropping of SAT or ACT scores has now become permanent for many colleges across the country.

Even though students often found taking them painful, standardized exams represented a remarkable advance for the concept of merit and upward mobility in American life over time. Replacing them with subjective (so-called "holistic") indicators makes admissions decisions more opaque and allows college administrators to more easily disguise the degree to which racial preferences are involved (including the extent of discrimination against higher-scoring Asian Americans, the Jews of our time when it comes to higher education).

As with so many other "equity" campaigns, if Black applicants don't do as well on such tests as some other groups, and you don't want to do the hard work of finding ways to improve their performance, just get rid of the test.

9. The proposal to impose a "global minimum" tax on corporate profits.

Such a tax cartel, endorsed by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, will never work because the larger the number of countries in it, the greater the incentives for other countries to stay outside and undercut it.

It says something revealing about our leaders' understanding of the sources of prosperity that when lower taxes in place X than in places W, Y and Z produces greater economic growth for X, then W, Y and Z must get together to find ways of forcing higher taxes on X, lest it acquire an "unfair advantage."

The ever-voracious welfare state requires a cornering of wealth, and any place not so cornered (otherwise known as economically free) becomes a threat to the statist racket.

In a broader sense, however superficially attractive, corporate taxes are also the dumbest taxes given that research indicates that corporations simply pass along the bulk of that taxation to those consuming their goods and services, meaning that when we raise taxes on corporations, we really only raise taxes on ourselves.

8. Allowing biological men who claim to be women to compete against biological women in sporting events (and dismissing anyone who thinks this is unfair to biological women as a "transphobe").

It is difficult to find an issue where long-standing scientific knowledge, more specifically, the basic principles of human biology, have been so obviously and easily discarded in favor of the politically fashionable. When it comes to woke notions of identity, "follow the science," not to mention common sense, becomes heretical.

When a society no longer has an agreed-upon means of properly distinguishing between men and women, there is more at risk than simply women's sports.

7. Under whatever name ("critical race theory," "intersectionality," "anti-racism," etc.), teaching children in our public schools to define each other in terms of skin color.

It is difficult to see who is helped if kids come to believe that American society has been irredeemably racist from the beginning, that all of its accomplishments are the consequence of slavery, and that white people are inherently and forever oppressors and Black people inherently and forever victims simply because of their respective pigmentation.

Alas, proposals coming from the political right to "ban" such poisonous pedagogy tend to often make things worse--bans seldom work, usually make that which is banned appear more rather than less desirable (and those doing the banning more subject to unfavorable caricature), and can be easily circumvented by the culprits simply teaching the same things under a different label.

Far better for states to simply pass legislation prohibiting the teaching of racist material in their schools, which, given the obviously racist nature of CRT and associated tributaries, would quickly take care of the problem.

The goal should be to keep out both Jim Crow and woke racialism.

6. Canceling college loan debt.

This is a craven buying of votes that has "moral hazard" pasted all over it.

Those supporting such cancellation argue that a college education is a basic human right, but are unable to explain how, under the same logic, the cancellation of mortgage and car payments wouldn't be recommended (in this case, if one says A, then one must truly also say B and C).

At a minimum, it is a strange conception of fairness that would require truck drivers and factory workers without college degrees to pay for those of doctors and lawyers.

That Democrats overwhelmingly support such proposals makes a mockery of the concept of "social justice" and tells us a great deal about how "the party of the working class" and Franklin Roosevelt has changed.

Freelance columnist Bradley R. Gitz, who lives and teaches in Batesville, received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois.

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