Thursday, October 06, 2005

Column on impartial government

Myths of Neutrality?Governmental or Otherwise

Tibor R. Machan

Driving to school yesterday I listened to a talk program on KNX AM Radio,
the Los Angeles all news CBS affiliate. It was a consumer help-out show,
with the host taking calls about various beefs people have with their
banks, barbers, department stores and the like. In this case the focus was
on how easy it is to steal people?s credit and debit card numbers and what
banks are doing about it. (It?s interesting that the perks banks offer
seem almost like entitlements to customers now, probably because of
getting used to this from government.)

In the course of giving some advice to one of the callers the host of the
program made a comment that brought me up short. ?With this matter you
probably be best of going to the State of California since they will be
unbiased.? Oh? Why should that be so? But no one asked that question of
the host and the matter was simply dropped.

Now this idea that government is an unbiased, nonpartisan agency has wide
currency in certain circles, including the academy. Whereas scholars who
do research for some business corporation are immediately suspected of
bias, those who get their work funded by the government never get so
accused. There is a famous case in which the animal liberation activist
philosopher, Peter Singer, now at Princeton but earlier at some Australian
government university, refused to go to a conference sponsored by Shell
Oil and made a big deal of announcing to the world that he will not take
part in something funded by a profit making company since it is
undoubtedly biased, the agenda loaded. Yet he and thousands of other
scholars go to hundreds of university sponsored and government funded
conferences all around the globe without ever giving it a thought that
these, too, have their biases.

What would such a bias be? Well, just as the KNX radio host assumed that
if you bring in the State of California, you will get impartial treatment
and matters will be looked at objectively, so, too, many, many folks think
that universities funded by governments are impartial forums of discussion
and research. But they are not. For instance, very few people at
universities, even private ones, ever challenge the idea that government
ought to be involved in higher education?they are entirely blind to that
notion and, of course, that is precisely where their bias lies. In
government funded or heavily subsidized universities and, indeed, all
schools, the idea that such subsidies are wrongheaded, even unjust, isn?t
likely to be explored. Many other topics also tend not to be explored with
care and openness at such institutions of learning?whether affirmative
action policies are proper, whether special sensitivity seminars dealing
with sexual harassment might not be themselves quite insensitive. (Why not
other types of harassment or student exploitation, why focus only on sex?)

A great many professors in higher education are unabashed champions of
extensive government involvement in, you guessed it, higher education and
nearly every other aspect of society. I recall one minor star at Auburn
University who even went about the state of Alabama urging politicians to
increase funding of higher education, giving it no thought that this
qualified as gross self-dealing, something professional ethics classes
teach professionals to shun as a matter of their ethics!

Indeed, there is a great deal of nonsense going around about
impartiality. A great many journalists actually believe that because they
do not deliberately slant their stories, their values and those of their
editors play no role in what is selected for coverage, what is ignored. It
would be far more honest, in fact, if they did peddle some of their values
so readers could tell immediately where they stand?because stand they do,
someplace, no matter how much they protest, and it?s going to have its
influence on their work.

Still, my first concern here is to disabuse people of the myth that when
they bring in government, they will get fairness and impartiality. That?s
bunk. Government is now so vast, so much involved in promoting various
projects for special interests groups that to think of it as one thinks of
an impartial judge or referee is quite naïve.


Anonymous said...

Asking questions are genuinely good thing if you are not understanding anything completely,
but this article provides fastidious understanding

My website; Solde Air Jordan

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I come across a blog that's equally
educative and engaging, and let me tell you, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is an issue that too few people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I found this during my search for something regarding this.

Feel free to visit my weblog: Gafas Oakley Baratas

Anonymous said...

Amazing issues here. I'm very satisfied to look your post. Thanks a lot and I'm taking a
look ahead to contact you. Will you please drop me a mail?

Also visit my weblog :: Chaussures De Football Pas Cher

Anonymous said...

Amazing things here. I'm very happy to peer your article. Thank you a lot and I am looking forward to touch you. Will you please drop me a mail?

Feel free to surf to my weblog ... Abercrombie Pas Cher

Anonymous said...

I really like what you guys are usually up too. This
kind of clever work and reporting! Keep up the wonderful
works guys I've added you guys to my own blogroll.

Also visit my blog: Mulberry Outlet

Anonymous said...

Thanks for finally writing about > "Column on impartial government"
< Loved it!

My web site: More Info