Procrastinating on March 28, 2016

Monday Smackdown: An Excellent Rant from the Highly-Estimable Bill Black!

Bill Black: Chinese Communists and Wacko U.S. Right Want to Save us from Effete Males: "The New York Times has produced a wonderful, unintended, juxtaposition in their pages on February 6, 2016...

...Two articles report on think tanks calling for the government to engage in right-wing propaganda campaigns to restore ‘manly’ men.  One article discusses the Chinese think tanks that have convinced the (Communist) government to engage in a massive propaganda campaign.

Worried that a shortage of male teachers has produced a generation of timid, self-centered and effeminate boys, Chinese educators are working to reinforce traditional gender roles and values in the classroom.

This is how the article begins:

FUZHOU, China — The history class began with a lesson on being manly. Lin Wei, 27, one of a handful of male sixth-grade teachers at a primary school here, has made a habit of telling stories about warlords who threw witches into rivers and soldiers who outsmarted Japanese troops. ‘Men have special duties,’ he said. ‘They have to be brave, protect women and take responsibility for wrongdoing.’

The journalist may have felt it was too obvious to be necessary to point out to the reader that teaching boys to become ‘manly’ and ‘protect women’ by ‘telling stories about warlords who threw witches into rivers’ as examples of how men fulfilled their ‘special duties’ ‘to be brave’ illustrates the problems with government propaganda designed to prevent social change.  There are no witches.  Throughout history all over the world, the ‘witches’ being murdered are overwhelmingly women.  The warlords were not ‘brave’ when they ordered their armies to murder these helpless women.  Killing women does not ‘protect women.’  The women committed no ‘wrongdoing.’  The dominant male in these ‘stories’ not only fails to ‘take responsibility for wrongdoing,’ he is praised by the ‘manly’ teacher for his ‘wrongdoing’ in murdering innocent women, destroying their relatives’ reputations, and almost certainly stealing their victims’ property.  Powerful men kill innocent women as witches because of ‘traditional gender roles’ that they wish to maintain because those roles grant them dominant power over women – and purport that this is natural.  Indeed, it was common to label women as ‘witches’ precisely because they did not maintain ‘traditional gender roles.’

The U.S. has its paternalists eager to create a moral panic based on a purported plague of ‘effete’ males.  Kay S. Hymowitz is the William E. Simon Fellow at the ultra-right wing Manhattan Institute Hymowitz is the author of Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys (2011).  She has an M.A. in English Literature.  Yes, the effete males are all the fault of liberals in general and feminists in particular.  Males are helpless putty warped by emasculating feminists into childish helplessness who never become truly adult.

Hymowitz is the link that ties the Chinese tale of paternalistic state intervention to save ‘manly’ men and the second ode to government paternalism to save manly men reported today in the New York Times.  Eduardo Porter is ecstatic about Hymowitz and friends’ ‘bipartisan’ plan to ‘champion an increase in the minimum wage’ and to ‘endorse marriage.’  (The group worked together for 14 months to ‘endorse marriage?’  If we had given them another year to work out their differences they probably would have ‘endorsed babies.’)  Porter is easily impressed.  Here is his breathless account.

If you have been paying any attention to America’s paralyzed politics, you are not going to believe this.

Even as substantive legislation in Washington remained largely bogged down by bitter partisan mistrust, some of the leading thinkers on opposite sides of the ideological divide — experts on the right who have advised Republican policy makers alongside left-leaning scholars who have Democrats’ ear — came together to champion an increase in the minimum wage.

They didn’t stop there. In a report published in December by the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute, they also recommended attaching a job requirement to the food stamp program, to compel poor people to work. They strongly endorsed marriage, as well as birth control.

Unremarkably, Porter’s text and memes read exactly like AEI’s press release on the plan.

Why does anyone care what Hymowitz’s fantasies are about any issue, much less the minimum wage?  Why did the right-wing American Enterprise Institute (AEI) put a wacko on this ‘bipartisan’ mash up?  They did so for the obvious reason, to stack the deck with a wacko who was only interested in one issue – ‘marriage promotion’ and would throw a wrench into the group unless they endorsed her fevered plan to save us from feminists perverting boys into effete males.  In this first of a two-part series I’ll show why Porter’s claims about the minimum wage are false.  In the second part I’ll address the sheer lunacy of the Hymowitz marriage fantasies that were actually ‘championed’ by this bizarre AEIb report.  I use the lower case ‘b’ to reflect Brookings’ minimal progressive input to the report and its role in providing political cover for AEI’s continuing smear of the poor.

AEI has a long record of using Brookings as its fig leaf and enabler for ‘consensus’ hard-right positions.  In my field, finance, the AEI-Brookings Joint Center on Regulatory Studies successfully championed deregulation and desupervision for decades under Presidents Bush and Clinton...