Wednesday, April 16, 2008

economics can bite me.

i'm sure it has its benefits, but at harvard, "economics" means you don't have to learn anything EXCEPT economics. aka you will turn out an idiot with a fancy degree to make you think you're smart.

i'm trying to blog less about harvard because, well, i've moved on. and i think its best if harvard knew that and stopped trying to call. but its sort of difficult to let go completely when harvard just keeps making an ass out of itself. every once in a while i'm inspired (aka someone points me to a crimson article) and i feel compelled to say something about it. this is one of those times.

the subject: "a crack in the glass ceiling" written by, surprise surprise, someone without much experience, knowledge, or writing skill.

ok so as usual i have too much to say. i will try to break it down into a brief summary, followed by bullet points (or maybe numbers. i have yet to decide). that way you can just read the ones you want, but i still get to say everything i feel like saying.

summary: in an attempt to spin the democratic primary race in a new way (admittedly hard to do these days), sophomore brian j. bolduc has written an article which (possibly unintentionally) is really quite racist and sexist. the point he is TRYING to make (i think?) is actually one i kind of agree with: that electing a black man or a white woman president will probably not end racism or sexism. the points he actually manages to make with the body of his article are that jim crow wasn't a big deal, black people are oppressed because they don't get married enough, japanese people have superior work ethic to blacks and whites (but no political will/skills), and women would have equal standing in society if they would just stop having babies.

ah. i love it when people try to make complex arguments without even thinking at all, much less reading anything outside of the ec assignment that clearly inspired the article. it makes my job almost TOO easy. i almost don't even want to argue with this dude. but i will.

ok point 1 (say, i decided to go with numbers!): the pregnancy thing - no duh women have babies. and yes, the fact that they often have to take time off from work to do this contributes to their earning less/getting promoted less/getting fired more. congratulations on figuring this out, i don't think anyone has ever thought of it before. no, no wait, that can't be right. oh yes, its all coming back to me now: turns out there are actually ways to NOT punish a woman for giving birth. there are also ways of allowing the husband or partner of a new mother to participate in the whole "taking care of a baby" process so the woman who physically gave birth is not the only person legally able to take time off work. wow. crazy. i'm not even going to get into the fact that i think this dude referred to procreation as a "lifestyle choice" in his article. i guess i'm just glad that for once he wasn't talking about the gays?

2: for someone who seems so gung-ho about economics and statistics and empirical proof, i feel that this sentence feel somehow a tad short: "Married couples share certain qualities that make them more likely to succeed." ah. so when barack obama says “…many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow,” that's a generalization and a confusing of the facts. but when you say married couples are more likely to succeed, that just makes sense. the consistency literally astounds me. i'm speechless. i need to go lie down.

3: i realize i could go on for days about these little things, so let me address the major problem in the article - its complete incoherence. he's trying to make a distinction between political success and economic success, but is confused. pointing out that the economic situation of blacks improved before civil rights legislation was passed is an interesting factoid, but what does it mean? is he trying to suggest that there is no relationship at all between economic standing and social standing? is he confusing "politics" to mean pretty much anything that is not economics? does he believe that proving two things are not directly correlated proves that they are completely separate? honestly, i'm asking. because nowhere in the article does he make this clear. if i were to guess, i'd say he's trying to say that "political" forces, aka social forces, aka racism, have nothing to do with economics. and in order to prove that fact, he's tried to reduce the complex history of race in this country to an interaction (or lack thereof) of two very narrowly defined forces. obviously there's more going on - education, the economy of the nation, various social and political movements, and changes in the housing economy to name just a few things, but to try and address the interplay of these issues would be impossible in a one-page article. so instead, just write something that makes no sense!

the most irritating thing about this article really, is just that its another in a string of articles for as long as i've been reading the crimson that are just bad: they don't make sense, they're poorly written, and they contain various forms of racism and misogyny lightly veiled as 'science.' i get that its a college newspaper and that people without that much education are writing for it, and i get that learning how to be a journalist is just that - a learning process. but i fail to see how anyone can become a better writer through producing shit like this and having an editor just give it the green light with no criticism. the crimson needs to really start holding its writers to higher standards - the paper would improve, and the writers would actually learn something. which, clearly, they're not doing in class. so it may be their only hope.