Transgenderism and Unemployment: What Really Matters

In his introduction to Things That Matter (New York, 2013), Charles Krauthammer makes an important distinction between the classical liberalism of John Stuart Mill and the progressive liberalism of the 20th century: “Mill held that truth emerges from an unfettered competition of ideas and that individual character is most improved when allowed to find its own way uncoerced.  Modern liberalism’s perfectionist ambitions…seeks to harness the power of government, the mystique of science and the rule of experts to shape both society and citizen and bring them both, willing or not, to a higher state of being.” 

Krauthammer’s observation is closely allied with what Charles Murray said more recently in his June 30 Wall Street Journal article, “The Trouble Isn’t Liberals. It’s Progressives,” where Murray writes: “… progressive intellectuals were passionate advocates of rule by disinterested experts led by a strong unifying leader. They were in favor of using the state to mold social institutions in the interests of the collective. They thought that individualism and the Constitution were both outmoded.”

These convergent utterances do not just validate the old adage “great minds think alike.”  They also focus with laser-like accuracy on what may be the most divisive issue of our times – our answer to the question “what really matters?”

Two opinion columns also recently appearing in The Wall Street Journal are illustrative.  The first is a July 23 op-ed co-authored by Valerie Jarrett and Jason Furman titled “Taking Action on Workplace Equality.”  The second is Neel Kashkari’s July 31 op-ed “Brother, Can You Spare a Job?”  So far, neither of these opinion pieces has prompted a single letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal.

Such reader silence is surprising, because Jarrett is widely celebrated as the genius behind just about everything President Obama says or does, and Kashkari has thrown his hat in the ring as the Republican opponent to Governor Brown in California’s next big political contest.  Maybe newspaper readers are just bored by all the crackpot ideas pouring out of California and the District of Columbia.  Nevertheless, voters everywhere should pay attention.

That’s not because Jarrett and Furman have anything very original or surprising to say.  Their title gives away their core message – it’s all about diversity, a theme progressives have been beating to death for more than forty years.  The only new twist has to do with the latest fad focus on “gender preference.”  This is how the authors state the problem they now want all of us to worry about most:

… LGBT workers consistently face discrimination. Studies by the Williams Institute, a UCLA think tank focused on LGBT legal and policy issues, show that 42% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people report having experienced workplace discrimination at some point in their lives, including 16% who report losing a job because of their sexual orientation.

And this is the typically statist solution Jarrett and Furman have come up with:

Federal legislation to explicitly prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is sorely needed, and the president is committed to do what he can to support it.”  Actually, as the authors point out, Obama has already responded with “an executive order signed this week by the president.

But does this narrow aspect of alleged workplace discrimination really rise to the level of a national crisis?  Is it just as important as, say, the rapid advance of ISIS in the Middle East, the uncontrolled flood of illegal immigrants across our southern border, our still high unemployment rate and out-of-control national debt?

Writing in the May 2012 issue of The Atlantic, Garance Franke-Ruta states the case with much greater accuracy:

In surveys conducted in 2002 and 2011, pollsters at Gallup found that members of the American public massively overestimated how many people are gay or lesbian. In 2002, a quarter of those surveyed guessed upwards of a quarter of Americans were gay or lesbian (or "homosexual," the third option given). By 2011, that misperception had only grown, with more than a third of those surveyed now guessing that more than 25 percent of Americans are gay or lesbian.

As usual, the D.C. Ministry of Truth is making a mountain out of a molehill.  It’s all about ginning up rumor and fear.  Why should anybody be surprised?  Promulgating misperceptions is what 21st century progressives are all about.  It’s how Obama got elected in both 2008 and 20012.  It’s how the White House promotes its most irrational agendas.  Indeed, right now the California School Boards Association (CSBA) is rolling out a statewide educational curriculum designed to terrorize children, parents and teachers with the specter of schoolyard bullying against young people who see themselves as different from their genetically determined gender identity.

Here’s how CSBA’s 2010 “Policy Brief” defines this bogus boogey-man and lays out its proactive plan of action:

Because of societal prejudice and lack of awareness or understanding, children who do not exhibit the interests or behaviors typical of their gender may experience ongoing rejection, criticism or bullying affecting their emotional health and academic achievement….  Districts/COEs are encouraged to develop strategies to minimize social stigmatization for such students and maximize opportunities for social integration so that all children have an equal opportunity to attend school, be engaged and achieve academic success[.]

Thus, the perfect trumps the good, and all of California’s children must be subjected to massive classroom, locker-room and bathroom behavior modification.  Late last year, this public-school pogrom suddenly became very personal for me when I received a phone call from my grandson.  He and his twin sister, both high school juniors in the Windsor Unified School District (Sonoma County), had just been subjected to a series of classroom lectures by transgender spokesmen and ordered by their English teacher to write a paper defending the special rights of their LGBT schoolmates.  “Grandpa,” my grandson protested, “I don’t know what to do.  I don’t believe in any of that stuff!”

Enough on this trivial topic!  It’s time to move on to something that really matters – Neel Kashkari’s “Brother, Can You Spare a Job?”  Kashkari knows about money.  An engineer by training, he earned an MBA at the Wharton School and become the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for financial stability during the last Bush administration.  As Bloomberg Businessweek’s Karl Taro Greenfeld notes, Kashkari is “a formidable candidate: young, ethnic, liberal on social policies, and fiscally conservative. ... His goal is to make the party appeal to younger voters by focusing on fiscal issues and downplaying abortion and gay marriage, both of which the majority of Californian voters – and Kashkari – believe should remain legal[.]”

If for no other reason, Kashkari’s column in the July 31 Wall Street Journal is remarkable for its courage and originality.  It reads like the opening paragraphs of an epic novel:

'California Comeback!' is the favorite slogan of Gov. Jerry Brown and other Sacramento politicians cheering a temporary budget surplus provided by a roaring stock market.  But California also has the highest poverty rate in America at 24%.  Is California really back?

I wanted to see firsthand what that comeback looks like for many Californians.  So, on the morning of July 21 I took a Greyhound bus from Los Angeles to Fresno.  With only $40 in my pocket (and no credit cards), a backpack, a change of clothes and a toothbrush, I planned to find a job and earn enough money to get by.  I am an able-bodied 41-year-old.  Surely I could find some work.

But, of course, Kashkarian did not find employment of any kind.  Even in the short span of one week, this smart and able-bodied man discovered just how frightening and hopeless the experience of being homeless really is.  It is a test every serious political leader should take and every American citizen must understand if we are going to find effective solutions to any of the problems this nation will surely face in the months and years to come.

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