How Low Can You Go?

The Case for Poverty

The Census Bureau reports that the gap between rich and poor is the widest it's been since World War II, but according to Ernest Van Den Haag, writing in op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, that's no cause for concern. Such inequality "is economically beneficial" because it creates an incentive to work hard and avoid poverty. If government acts to raise wages on the bottom of the income scale, Van Den Haag warns, people would have little reason to work hard, take risks, and invest their extra wealth.

We expect that in future essays Van Den Haag will be coming out strongly for hunger, because, with his ruthless economic logic, he can show that it stirs people to work harder to avoid starvation. No doubt unemployment is good for the same reason; many others have argued as much. It's quite wonderful that anything bad is actually good because the prospect of bad things is what makes people work hard. Professor Van Den Haag, meet Dr. Pangloss.



A New Take on Feminism

According to Kate O'Beirne, Washington editor of the National Review, women are more likely to vote Democrat because they just aren't as smart when it comes to politics. (As Dave Barry would say, we swear we are not making this up.) "It may not be in women's nature to care very much about politics," writes O'Beirne, a woman who somehow manages to write regularly on politics. She strongly implies in her article that women's views might become more sensible-from a conservative perspective, that is-if they just paid more attention to the news.

While conceding that women are more concerned than men about the poor, the federal safety net, and education, O'Beirne argues, "they are not nearly as knowledgeable as men on these issues they claim to care about." Her proof? A little-known survey that shows "Men are more likely to know the size of the national budget, the unemployment rate, and the level of federal education spending," she says, without mentioning just how many men know the answer to such arcane budgetary issues. If the National Organization of Women ever forms its own third party, she sneers, it ought to be called "the Know Nothings."

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No doubt O'Beirne and the other Review editors expect that once women gain more knowledge, they'll see the light and embrace a hard-right agenda. They'll presumably become strong supporters of Republican efforts to slash Medicare benefits, reduce government support for low-income women and children, cut federal education benefits, and freeze the minimum wage-all signs, the editors apparently believe, of high intelligence and self-interested voting. Still, we give O'Beirne some credit: Despite her derision of female voters, she stopped short of calling for repeal of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. We wouldn't be surprised, though, that if conservatives continue to lag among women voters, the notion of such a repeal will acquire some appeal to the Tories at The National Review.

-Art Levine

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