Friday, March 28, 2008

Does Gay Marriage Ban Invalidate Custody Agreements?

In this Ohio case, I am inclined to say no.
An Ohio woman says the state's ban on same-sex marriage is grounds for barring her ex-partner from sharing custody with her son.

Thursday the Court of Appeals will hear her case. Last June a judge in Columbus ruled that the amendment has no bearing on a signed agreement between Denise Fairchild and Therese Leach that they would share custody of the boy, now aged 11.

The dispute over custody began in 2005 after the women ended their relationship.

After their son was born in 1996, both women parented him. In order to ensure that Leach had a protected legal relationship with the child, the two women signed a joint custody agreement. Such agreements were approved by the Ohio Supreme Court in 2001.

That same year an Ohio court approved the joint custody agreement stating they would share custody.

After Leach and Fairchild broke up, Fairchild sought to terminate the custody agreement, citing the 2004 state amendment limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.

I don't particularly approve of same sex parenting. But that is not the issue here. These women entered into an agreement (which excluded the bio dad, of course, but never mind.) That explicit agreement sets this case apart from marriage. In a marriage, both members of the couple are assumed to be the parents. That presumption has been in place for centuries, precisely because it is a safe presumption for opposite sex couples. I think we would all be far better off if same sex couples handled their relationships through a series of contracts, rather than trying to rewrite the presumption of paternity into a generic "presumption of parentage."

In this case, the two women did exactly what I think they should have done, and what all same sex couples ought to do: they signed an explicit agreement regarding the upbringing of this child. One of them now wants to set that agreement aside, because of strains in their relationship. I don't think the court should help her renege.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Settling for Mr. Good Enough

Comediene Lori Gottlieb makes the case for "Settling" for Mr. Good Enough, rather than holding out for Mr. Right. Gottlieb is a 40 year old single mother, who is candid enough to admit that she really did, and still does, want to be married. Some of her article is sad, other parts are wise.
Now, though, I realize that if I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life, I’m at the age where I’ll likely need to settle for someone who is settling for me. What I and many women who hold out for true love forget is that we won’t always have the same appeal that we may have had in our 20s and early 30s. Having turned 40, I now have wrinkles, bags under my eyes, and hair in places I didn’t know hair could grow on women. With my nonworking life consumed by thoughts of potty training and playdates, I’ve become a far less interesting person than the one who went on hiking adventures and performed at comedy clubs. But when I chose to have a baby on my own, the plan was that I would continue to search for true connection afterward; it certainly wasn’t that I would have a baby alone only to settle later. After all, wouldn’t it have been wiser to settle for a higher caliber of “not Mr. Right” while my marital value was at its peak?

Those of us who choose not to settle in hopes of finding a soul mate later are almost like teenagers who believe they’re invulnerable to dying in a drunk-driving accident. We lose sight of our mortality. We forget that we, too, will age and become less alluring. And even if some men do find us engaging, and they’re ready to have a family, they’ll likely decide to marry someone younger with whom they can have their own biological children. Which is all the more reason to settle before settling is no longer an option.

For really outstanding commentary on this article, check out my friends at
This article has a deeper and more sophisticated view of love.
Love is a single reality with different dimensions that are needed or emerge at different times. One dimension is necessary to attract a person to another, but this becomes less necessary over time and especially as one matures. This is eros, or the "madness" that intoxicates, displaces reason and drives a person powerfully toward another. It is the central theme for movie romances and modern sitcoms.

But for all its thrills, this dimension is not enough. In fact, on its own it becomes an obstacle to the maturing of the relationship. We see this played out all the time. Love is reduced to its caricature, to the amount of gratification that each can take from it. Bartering begins: "I'll do this if you do that." "I will stay with you as long as the sparks last." "If you love me you will let me do what I want." "I won't have children with you until I have had my career and spent my youth." "You can have children but I am not going to let this cramp my style". "I will absorb all you can give to me, your good humour, good looks, money, sensuality but I am not prepared to give you anything back." It destroys the relationship or at worst leaves spouses in a permanent adolescent-style union.

The other dimension is the reaching out of one person to the other. It is a love that is, indeed, ecstasy -- not a momentary sensual intoxication but an exodus out of oneself, seeking liberation through giving oneself to the other. It is a journey toward authentic self discovery and happiness. This is played out in different ways: the sharing of hopes, dreams, values, desires, sorrows and disappointments, successes and failures, laughter and tears, and of our sexuality by pleasure giving and childbearing.

The overly-romanticized view of love is actually a rather self-centered view of love. I devote several chapters of Love and Economics to love. To love is to will and to do the good of the other. Love is a decision.

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Married Man's Reaction to Elliot Spitzer

A reader sent me this letter, regarding the Elliot Spitzer scandal. The reader calls it "Why They Cheat," and signs himself, "Semper Fi."

I like real woman. I don’t confine my interest to super models, athletes and celebrities. Real women are interesting. I love their attention and ideas...and they ARE nice to look at.

Oh, my little brain works fine, but I’m married, extremely married. Adults know the line between teasing and flirting. Friends know better. Not only do you not cross the line, you don’t even come close to touching it.

Even fantasy women, models and celebrities, can’t come close. I have something at home that they can’t touch. I have dreams come true… touch by touch, night after night, year after year.

Lots of men, married and unmarried alike, are playing the game. Everything, and everyone, is about THEM. The trophy girl friend or wife is about THEM. The marriage, if they bother, is about THEM. They hear the “to have and to hold” part of the vows and ignore the “love and cherish” part. An affair is only another part of their ongoing love affair…with themselves. The affair proves that they are special. It is not about being attractive. It’s not even about surrendering to beauty. It is deeper and sicker than that. The forbidden is favored above the available and the more illicit the affair better. Why? Because the illicit proves that they are above the rules. The coworker, the married friend, the young girl… the young boy.

I WISH it were a problem only of playboys, of boys that did not grow up. It isn’t. There are playgirls too. Both are lost in their fantasy world where they are the featured player. IMHO, they are not special. They are broken.

There are exceptions. Some affairs are an honest spouse’s retreat from a broken mate. Divorce is the more honest response. But the serial cheaters are something else.

You can’t fix the gamblers. The best solution is to get as far away as possible. Leave them in their fantasy world.

Me, I’ll stay in mine. In my world, I have the woman I love and my dreams come true-- day by day and night by night.
Semper Fi

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Love and Economics in paperback

I had several students at Notre Dame tell me that they had read or were about to read Love and Economics for class projects. Now is a good time to let the whole world know what I recently revealed to my newsletter subscribers: the hard cover version of Love and Economics will be going out of print. But, not to worry: the rights to the book have reverted to me. I am going to bring out Love and Economics in paperback. Here is the new forward to the Paperback edition:
Forward to the Paperback Edition.

I wrote Love and Economics in the late 1990's. My experience of raising a badly neglected adopted orphan son together with a birth daughter taught me that we economists had been taking the family far too much for granted. I intended the book as a conversation-opener with my libertarian and free market friends. They appeared then, and still appear to be, uninterested. Perhaps the original subtitle, Why the Laissez-Faire Family Doesn’t Work, put them off.

In any case, I continue to be convinced that when families fall apart, the Hillary Clinton’s of the world are standing by, ready to promote ever larger and more intrusive government to pick up the pieces. Fiscal conservatives and libertarians simply can not be indifferent to the fate of the family. I believe we have a responsibility to inform the public about the public consequences of the private choices people make within their families. The reader will not find a single word in this book, or in any of my other writings, advocating government support programs or regulatory schemes to promote my views of the family. I believe we can change the world by changing our own values and actions.

When Love and Economics was published in 2001, I was in the labor force part-time. I had left my tenured position at George Mason University because I couldn’t in good conscience continue working full-time. We had one very needy child, one child of average neediness, and in 2001, my husband’s mother was dying. I could only promote the book by doing radio shows on the telephone from home.

I was extremely gratified by the response the book generated from the talk show audiences across the country. I discovered a whole new audience out there: the religious defenders of the family. These Evangelical Christian, Catholic, Mormon and traditional Jewish women and men appreciated the defense I offered of their private choices. Many of these families make significant sacrifices to keep the mother at home, at least part-time. They know in their hearts they are doing the right thing for their children, their families and their communities, but they feel beleaguered and battered by the culture around them. The media, academia, business and government are filled with career women. These professional women have a significant voice in shaping the tone of public policy and debate. No one speaks for the stay at home mothers. Often, they are too busy taking care of their families to speak for themselves. And many of the legions of stay at home mothers are not as educated or articulate as the typical “expert” women featured on the news as spokeswomen for our entire sex.

The stay at home mothers, their husbands and sometimes even their parents, came to see me as their champion. They were grateful to me for Love and Economics. I am grateful to them, too, for their contributions to creating a better world, one child at a time.

In late 2007, my dear friend and publisher Tom Spence informed me that he had made the decision to let Love and Economics go out of print. My subsequent book, Smart Sex: Finding Life-long Love in a Hook-up World was selling much better. The paperback rights to Love and Economics reverted to me.

I had just started to get back into academic circulation around the same time. I learned that professors have been using Love and Economics in the classroom. Economics classes, psychology classes, even seminary ethics classes have used all or part of Love and Economics. My colleagues told me how much their students loved the book. I met some of those young people, who told me how much the book had meant to them. They were so thrilled to meet me, I felt like a minor celebrity.

I decided the book deserved a second chance. I devised a new subtitle: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village, as well as a new, more contemporary cover. This subtitle gives a better idea of the overall argument of the book.

I do not attack Mrs. Clinton by name. Nor do I offer arguments against specific policies under consideration in the current election cycle. We can spend all our time scampering around, responding to the latest intrusive proposal, claiming to be family-friendly. I believe instead, that we need to understand the general principles involved, so we have a framework for evaluating such proposals. In that spirit, Love and Economics makes a foundational argument that the family is an irreplaceable social institution. We can not replace the married couple family with a series of contracts among adults, as some libertarians and economists might argue. Nor can we replace the family with a series of government programs. Mrs. Clinton is a symbol of the view that we can. I do hope my libertarian friends will come to see the connection between their indifference to the family, and the progress of welfare state advocates such as Mrs. Clinton. And I hope that everyone who values the personal over the political and the family over the bureaucratic, will take the arguments of Love and Economics seriously.

I am pleased by how well the book has held up. I have not changed a word of the original text. I hope the next generation of readers continues to find Love and Economics as challenging and inspiring as their predecessors.

San Marcos, California
February 2008

Demographic Winter

Steven Mosher of the Population Research Institute, shows that demographic decline is real, serious, and not just confined to the West. He is responding to a Nation reporter who had interviewed him and distorted his views.
Ms. Joyce, herself a creature of the feminist narrative she has created, imagines that PRI and other pro-natal groups are conspiring to keep her and her sisters barefoot and pregnant. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am quite content to let the writers, readers, and editors of The Nation make their own fertility decisions. Having largely rejected marriage for cohabitation, conception for contraception, and childbearing for abortion, I doubt if they average one child per every pair of “significant others” (or whatever they’re calling their transient liaisons these days).

I would only ask that the left show the same regard for others, both in America and around the world. Surveys show that young American women, for example, express a preference for 2.5 children or so, significantly more than the two that they are likely to actually bear. PRI’s goal, through its educational and public policy initiatives, is to make it possible for women to achieve their desired number of children.

The left, however, seems determined to treat young women (and men) as wayward children to be propagandized, contracepted, sterilized, and aborted out of their inherently pro-natal convictions. Having adopted a de facto one-child policy themselves, they are hell-bent on imposing it on the rest of us. So they continue to propagate the myth of overpopulation, zealously support Planned Parenthood and other government-subsidized contraception and sterilization services, and bitterly oppose any restrictions on abortion.

There is a panic over births after all, it turns out. But it is not, as Ms. Joyce would have it, the Catholics, evangelicals, and Mormons of the pro-life, pro-family movement who are alarmed. These have bound themselves to their spouses in mutually fulfilling marriages and are happily procreating. As a result they are seeing their numbers and influence expand.

Not so the largely white and sterile readers of The Nation. Like the barren Ms. Joyce, unmarried and childless as she enters her thirties, they propagate aging and outmoded ideologies instead of making babies. Perhaps it is understandable that they are, well, panicking.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Me at Notre Dame Law School

I just gave a lecture for the Federalist Society at Notre Dame Law School. "It Takes a Family to Raise a Village," lays out the basic argument of Love and Economics: without the family, you don't even have a village in the first place. I offer a free-market, family friendly alternative to the Marxist-driven-career-above-all-style feminist model. The talk was based in part on this lecture I gave for ISI at UCLA.
The female students in particular seemed to like it. I spent the next 2 hours talking with them over pizza about the barriers they face to finding husbands, navigating through the shoals of the hook-up culture, paying off student loans and finally starting a family.

More on Elliot Spitzer

Maggie Gallagher has a New York-tough column on Elliot Spitzer. As she puts it, "Can we stop torturing the wives?"
can we at least end this barbaric practice of dragging your wife before the cameras while you confess your shameful guilt? If she wasn't there in the hotel room when you did your crime, don't ask her to do your time.

The practice began relatively innocently as something an accused man might do when he denied the allegations . A man's wife at his side showed that she, at least, believed the guy when he said he did not do it.

It was former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, I believe, who began the modern practice (Can we ban it along with waterboarding?) of parading the little wife before the cameras to hold your hand as you confess your guilt. The goal is to get the shell-shocked wife to demonstrate to the public that the offense is forgiveable. If his wife forgives him, how mad can you be?

But the practice requires a man to turn the best instinct of his wife -- to unite behind the family in crisis -- into an instrument of her own public humiliation.

And another thing: Can we end the public practice of trying to shame these wives into divorcing their husbands?

There's a reason we feel impelled to do this these days. Adultery has been redefined as a "private matter," as Spitzer put it in his vain, Clintonian attempt to redirect attention from his crimes to his sin. Because we no longer have any public punishments for adultery, we have turned wives into instruments of the public morality: If she doesn't punish him by divorcing him, he will go unpunished, which is intolerable. (Without some punishment, won't all husbands stray?)

I'm tired of this transference of the sins of the husband onto the wife. Leave the wives alone. Let's forget about standing by the man, but can't we at least agree to stand by the woman?

Look, I'm not a moron. I understand that men will use prostitutes for their own purposes without caring what happens to them, but can't we expect a little higher standard of behavior from an outrageously guilty husband toward the wife he has just embarrassed and betrayed?

Eliot, you are famously one big, tough dude from the Bronx. An "f-ing steamroller." Can't you go out in front of the cameras and face it like a man?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Elliot Spitzer is a Big Fat Bully

Relative to the previous post: notice that the two groups of people Elliot Spitzer chose to bully during his term as Attorney General were businessmen and crisis pregnancy centers. The WSJ details his atrocities against businessmen:
He routinely used the extraordinary threat of indicting entire firms, a financial death sentence, to force the dismissal of executives, such as AIG's Maurice "Hank" Greenberg. He routinely leaked to the press emails obtained with subpoena power to build public animosity against companies and executives. In the case of Mr. Greenberg, he went on national television to accuse the AIG founder of "illegal" behavior. Within the confines of the law itself, though, he never indicted Mr. Greenberg. Nor did he apologize.
In perhaps the incident most suggestive of Mr. Spitzer's lack of self-restraint, the then-Attorney General personally threatened John Whitehead after the former Goldman Sachs chief published an article on this page defending Mr. Greenberg. "I will be coming after you," Mr. Spitzer said, according to Mr. Whitehead's account. "You will pay the price. This is only the beginning, and you will pay dearly for what you have done."

Jack Welch, the former head of GE, said he was told to tell Ken Langone -- embroiled in Mr. Spitzer's investigation of former NYSE chairman Dick Grasso -- that the AG would "put a spike through Langone's heart." New York Congresswoman Sue Kelly, who clashed with Mr. Spitzer in 2003, had her office put out a statement that "the attorney general acted like a thug."

These are not merely acts of routine political rough-and-tumble. They were threats -- some rhetorical, some acted upon -- by one man with virtually unchecked legal powers.

But, as you might expect, the WSJ limits its attention to Spitzer's attacks on the business community. His attacks on crisis pregnancy centers were equally outrageous abuses of power. According to Maggie Gallagher's 2002 account of his escapades:
New York's attorney general has subpoenaed every crisis pregnancy center in the state, regardless of whether that clinic has been the target of any specific complaints.

Gallagher also reported that Spitzer had promised at a NARAL luncheon:
But at a NARAL luncheon on Jan. 22, 1999, Elliot Spitzer made a political promise to crack down on so-called "false advertisements" in pregnancy services....Spitzer intoned his goal was "a suitable framework for public debate in New York. I want to be clear that I am not attempting to curtail anyone's right to free speech, but I do intend to stop those who would use violence and intimidation to achieve their political goals."

And Michelle Malkin reported around the same time:

This is a politically motivated witch hunt in an election year for Elliot Spitzer," Slattery said. According to online campaign finance data, Spitzer has received $2,900 from New York's NARAL political action committee over the past three years.

Elliot Spitzer's rode the two favorite Leftist hobby-horses, the anti-business hobby horse and the pro-abortion hobby horse, to public prominence and electoral victory. He evidently thought he could abuse his authority against those two groups, without fear of reprecussions. There are a lot of people enjoying his comeuppance.

On the Spanish Elections

The victory of Zapatero's Socialist party in Spain can not be interpretted as a full-fledged endorsement of his radical social policies. Writing in today's WSJ, Ramon Perez-Maura argues that Zapatero's victory has more to do with his siphoning off enough regionalist votes in different regions to cobble together a national victory.
Over the last four years, the ruling Socialist Party played two dangerous cards. It chose to hold negotiations with the Basque terrorist group ETA and it supported a new autonomy statute for Catalonia. ...Mr. Zapatero was able to scrape away enough votes in Catalonia and the Basque country to hold on to power.

At the same time, the international editor of the WSJ argues that
While his 3.6 percentage point victory over the conservative opposition Popular Party was convincing, Mr. Zapatero would be wrong to interpret Sunday's results as an unequivocal endorsement of his policies, or to minimize the challenges ahead. The next four years will arguably prove more difficult than his first tour in office.

A once booming economy is cooling. Spaniards are turning against immigrants. Mr. Zapatero's social and regional policies have polarized the country. Catalan separatism and Basque terrorism call into question the country's future as a unified state.

So, now that Zapatero has mortgaged the country by selling out regions of the country to separatists in order to secure his power, what will he do with his power? It is interesting to me that he has not "undone his predecessor's market reforms," as the WSJ mentions. He is leaving the market more or less alone. Instead, the focus of his attention has been the social issues, which as the WSJ puts it:
Alas, Mr. Zapatero gives no sign of wishing to temper his zeal on social policy. His aggressive efforts to push through gay marriage, fast-track divorce and adoption rights for homosexuals raised tensions with the Catholic Church -- whose views are shared by a bulk of the population.

I have argued elsewhere that undoing marriage has been as important Socialist objective as nationalizing property and centralizing the economy. Now that the Socialist economic agenda has been proven counter-productive and down-right destructive to the vast majority of citizens, the focus turns increasingly to the Socialist social agenda of destabilizing marriage. Gender is not a biological category, but a political category. The social relationship of marriage presents a special case of class conflict, which is as oppressive as the economic systems of private property and capitalism.
As Engels put it over a century ago:
Within the family, the husband is the bourgeois, and the wife represents the proletariat. ... The first condition for the liberation of the wife is to bring the whole female sex back into public industry. This in turn demands that the characteristic of the monogamous family as the economic unit of society be abolished.

It is very revealing that the Socialist government of Spain is not trying to win on the old economic issues. I predict that their policies for the destabilization of marriage will prove every bit as destructive as their policies for destabilizing private property and capitalism.

Re: Family Medical Leave Act

I received this note from a friend who is a pediatrician:
What prompts me to write to you now is your feature on the Family Leave Act. I think it's a well intentioned and compassionate bill. It's unfortunate that there are those who work the system to their advantage and ruin it for the rest of us. In small businesses such as mine it presents a major logistical problem. It comes up several times a year when an employee, or more, goes on maternity leave. It's compounded when, once their leave is over and it’s time to return to work they want to go "part time." It’s understandable, I am sure, to the majority of your readers. When a new mother is faced with that irresistible bundle of happiness and the concomitant physiologic changes, most mothers will want to spend as much time as possible changing diapers cleaning, spit-up, nursing every three hours throughout the day...
Because of this and because of other business decisions which were driven by the needs for services in our service area by our patients, we now have 18 Pediatricians working a combination of full and part time. This has consequences for our business plan. Our financial structure includes certain benefits which are fixed: hospital and professional society dues, liability insurance, health insurance, etc. All these benefits add up in cost and these benefits go unused and are a financial liability to the corporation when there is no production (i.e. leave time). On the other hand we want to be family friendly so as to foster the culture of marriage and of life and because an employee that has less to worry about in these circumstances is a happier more productive employee, generally speaking.

This doctor's conclusion is that the restrictions of the FMLA make it harder, not easier, to make the accommodations that really matter to employees and that are cost-effective at the same time.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Family-Friendly Small Business Nightmare

My friends at the Acton Institute published my article on the need to reform the Clinton-era Family Medical Leave Act. I have posted my full article on my site as well. The Act has been subject to abuses that cry out to be corrected:
The Act provides leave not only for maternity or the care of a new born, but also for care for a dependent with a serious illness. Unfortunately, the Department of Labor has issued conflicting opinions on what constitutes a serious illness. While the legislative history clearly indicates that the leave was not supposed to be used for minor sniffles, employees have obtained certification for minor conditions such as allergies, migraines, or back problems.
Compounding the problem, the FMLA allows for intermittent leave: that is, people can take leave in "separate blocks of time due to a single qualifying reason." According to the Small Business Administration, intermittent leave is the most challenging part of the FMLA for small businesses. The regulations require that leave increments have to be awarded in the "shortest period of time the employer's payroll system uses to account for absences or use for leave, provided it is one hour or less."
Some small manufacturing businesses track time in increments as short as six minutes. The Employment Policy Foundation found that 50 percent of leave-takers provide notice either the day the leave begins or the day after. The administrative and scheduling challenges this presents are a nightmare. And the program hurts overall employee morale, when other employees have to do the work of the absent employees.

The Acton Institute is interested in this because of my free market conclusions:
Small businesses want to retain skilled and dedicated employees without giving slackers an opening to abuse the company's good will. When problems arise, the firm and its employees can work out issues together. By contrast, when problems arise with federal legislation, there cannot be a carefully tailored, personalized response. The abuses and unforeseen consequences of the FMLA have to be dealt with by the federal government: litigation to determine the exact requirements of the law; further regulation to change the law; and a complex process of fact-finding in between.
Small competitive firms need not limit their scope to providing generic "family leave." Firms try to create a menu of ways to tailor policies to the specific needs employee needs. Firms would try various combinations of leave policies, job sharing, flex-time and telecommuting. Companies might try one approach for new mothers, something different for people with elderly parents, and something still different for people with minor chronic illnesses—assuming the law would allow you to "discriminate" in this way. But as things now stand, the government has preempted a lot of experimentation with programs that might possibly be better for the workers and cheaper for the companies.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Relgious diversity in marriage law.

John Witte is a wise and learned man, a professor of legal history at Emory University. His article on the religious law of marriage is one of the wisest commentaries on the Archbishop of Canterbury's comments on sharia.

Gender "Equity" Activists are going after science

Christina Hoff Sommers reports on the omnious movement to use Title IX of the Civil Rights Act to enforce quotas in unviersity math, science and engineering departments.
Virginia Valian, a psychologist at Hunter College, is one of the most cited author­ities in the crusade to achieve equity for women in the sciences. Her book Why So Slow? (MIT Press, 1998) is indispensable to the movement because it offers a solution to a vexing problem: women’s seemingly free but actually self-defeating choices. Not only do fewer women than men choose to enter the physical sciences, but even those who do often give child care and family a higher priority than their male colleagues. How, in the face of wom­en’s clear tendencies to choose other careers and more balanced lifestyles, can one reasonably attribute the scarcity of women in science and engineering to unconscious bias and sexist dis­crimination? Valian showed the way.

Her central claim is that our male-dominated society constructs and enforces “gender sche­mas.” gender schema is an accepted system of beliefs about the ways men and women differ—a system that determines what suits each gender. Writes Valian: “In white, Western middle-class society, the gender schema for men includes being capable of independent, autonomous action…[and being] assertive, instrumental, and task-oriented. Men act. The gender schema for women is different; it includes being nur­turant, expressive, communal, and concerned about others.”...
To achieve a gender-fair society, Valian advocates a concerted attack on conventional gender schemas. This includes altering the way we raise our children. Consider the custom of encouraging girls to play with dolls. Such early socialization, she says, creates an association between being female and being nurturing. concludes, “Egalitarian parents can bring up their children so that both boys and girls play with dolls and trucks.... From the standpoint of equality, nothing is more important.”

But what if our daughters are not especially interested in trucks, as almost any parent can attest (including me: when my son recently gave his daughter a toy train to play with, she placed it in a baby carriage and covered it with a blanket so it could get some sleep)? a problem, says Valian.

“We don’t accept biol­ogy as destiny…. We vaccinate, we inoculate, we medicate.... propose we adopt the same attitude toward biological sex differences.” In other words, the ubiquitous female propensity to nurture should be treated as a kind of disor­der or disease....

Naturally, the solution to these problems is a greater expansion of government intervention in university life:
Alice Hogan, former director of ADVANCE, explained in a 2005 interview that the MIT study had been a wake-up call for the NSF. In the past, she said, the NSF had funded programs to support the careers of individual women sci­entists, but the MIT report persuaded its staff that “systemic” change was imperative.

Since 2001, the NSF has given approximately $107 million to 28 institutions of higher learn­ing to develop transformation projects. Hunter College, the site of Valian’s $3.9 million program, is one of them. The University of Michigan has received $3.9 million; the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao, $3.1 million; the of Rhode Island, $3.5 million; and Cornell, $3.3 million. What are these schools doing with the money?

Some of the funds are being used for relatively innocuous, possibly even beneficial, projects such as mentoring programs and conferences. But there are worrisome programs as well.

Michigan is experimenting with “interactive” theater as a means of raising faculty conscious­ness about gender bias. At special workshops, physicists and engineers watch skits where overbearing men ride roughshod over hapless but obviously intellectually superior female col­leagues. The director/writer, Jeffrey Steiger of the University of Michigan theater program, explains that the project is inspired by Brazilian director Augusto Boal’s book Theatre of the Oppressed (1974). Boal writes, “I believe that all the truly revolutionary theatrical groups should transfer to the people the means of production in the theater.” To this end, the Michigan fac­ulty members don’t just watch the plays, but are encouraged to interact with the cast and even join them on stage. Some audience members will find the experience “threatening and over­whelming,” and Steiger aims to provide them a “safe” context for expressing themselves....

More than just silliness however, are the expansion of quotas:
More mainstream schools are using their ADVANCE funds more conventionally—to ini­tiate quota programs. At Cornell, as of 2006, 27 of 51 science and engineering departments had fewer than 20 percent women, and some had no women at all. It is using its NSF grant for a program called ACCEL (Advancing Cornell’s Commitment to Excellence and Leadership), dedicated to filling science faculty with “more than” 30 percent women in time for the university’s sesquicentennial in 2015.

Science guys, gentleman-nerds that they are, have no clue how to deal with the feminsit onslaught. The results could be ominous.
The power and glory of science and engineer­ing is that they are, adamantly, evidence-based. But the evidence of gender bias in math and science is flimsy at best, and the evidence that women are relatively disinclined to pursue these fields at the highest levels is serious. When the bastions of science pay obsequious attention to the flimsy and turn a blind eye to the serious, it is hard to maintain the view that the science enterprise is somehow immune to the enthu­siasms that have corrupted other, supposedly “softer” academic fields.

Few academic scientists know anything about the equity crusade. Most have no idea of its power, its scope, and the threats that they may soon be facing. The business commu­nity and citizens at large are completely in the dark. This is a quiet revolution. Its weapons are government reports that are rarely seen; amendments to federal bills that almost no one reads; small, unnoticed, but dramatically con­sequential changes in the regulations regarding government grants; and congressional hearings attended mostly by true believers.

American scientific excellence is a precious national resource. It is the foundation of our economy and of the nation’s health and safety. Norman Augustine, retired CEO of Lockheed Martin, and Burton Richter, Nobel laureate in physics, once pointed out that MIT alone—its faculty, alumni, and staff—started more than 5,000 companies in the past 50 years. Will an academic science that is quota-driven, gender-balanced, cooperative rather than competitive, and less time-consuming produce anything like these results? So far, no one in Congress has even thought to ask.