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30 April, 2004

Is this why I pay my taxes?

I wasn’t actually going to blog about this. I wanted to explore a bit more on Henry Farrell’s bit on Academic Calvinism. Fortunately, it’s been followed up several times, perhaps best by Naomi Chana at Baraita. I have to say, she’s one of the people who makes one believe in an academic Elect, she’s so damned good. Still, it is a conversation we have fairly frequently at our institution. The odd thing there is that most tenured faculty consider their positions to be a combination of merit, timing, and sheer dumb luck. Most of them spent time in the part-time trenches before they got their TT jobs and have seen a lot of good people go unrewarded. Oddly enough, the adjuncts have a different attitude. Many seem to think that merit shouldn’t come into question at all, when faced with inside candidates who should be entitled purely for having taught developmental English scut-work classes for the last 10 years. That’s what I was going to blog about today.

Instead, I’m blogging about something else. My politics may be showing a bit, but I hope that even some of my more conservative readers will agree that at least part of my objections are valid. I pay taxes. I accept that a lot of the taxes I pay go to things I really don’t believe in, like egregious amounts of corporate welfare and Rick Santorum and Tom DeLay (I have nothing against the fact that they are duly elected representatives, mind — Clearly they represent the view of the majority of their constituents. I’m just glad they don’t represent me). I do think that there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed, however, and the last paragraph of this press release crosses one of them. This is, as far as I can tell, a real press release from the Department of Treasury Office of Public Affairs. The last paragraph reads as follows:

America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the President’s policies are doing; or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation.

Last time I looked, the President’s (any president) political campaigning was supposed to be kept separate from the day-to-day workings of government. Moreover, I don’t really think that the Treasury Department should be campaigning for the incumbent. It’s not on.

In a related note, this story also irks me. The story tells of a systematic redaction of information that is contrary to the Bush administrations political and moral agenda. I don’t know that the Bush administration is the first to do this, but then I haven’t always blogged, either, so my comments would have been invisible at any rate. The National Council for Research on Women does have a Feminist agenda (disclaimer to those who would like to think I haven’t considered the source. I suppose one might even debate Linda Basch’s statement that

Taken cumulatively, this has an enormously negative effect on women and girls.

Even I wouldn’t say that, although I certainly agree that an absence of information is detrimental. More importantly, I think that actions like this:

The National Cancer Institute’s Web site was changed in 2002 to say studies linking abortion and breast cancer were inconsistent; after an outcry from scientists, the institute later amended that to say abortion is not associated with increased breast cancer risk.

and this:

Its report cited a fact sheet from the Centers of Disease Control that focused on the advantages of using condoms to prevent sexually transmitted disease; it was revised in December 2002 to say evidence on condoms’ effectiveness in curbing these diseases was inconclusive.

and even this:

At the Labor Department’s Women’s Bureau Web site, the report said 25 key publications on subjects ranging from pay equity to child care to issues relating to black and Latina women and women business owners had been deleted with no explanation.

are together examples of plain immoral and unethical behavior. We have a right to have full information when making medical decisions. Our taxes pay in large part for the kinds of studies and reports mentioned, and we have a right to see what we paid for. Morality can’t be founded in ignorance. And choices can’t be moral if they are made out of fear.

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