What Are the Consequences of “Social Responsibility” for Corporations?

That’s the question I ask in my newest column for Defining Ideas from the Hoover Institution.

In recent years, it’s become fashionable to talk about the need for “social responsibility” from the business sector — and one of the ways that has played out is through an emphasis on making sure that foreign supply chains are free of human rights violations like sex trafficking and involuntary servitude. That these practices appall the conscience is clear. That the U.S. government’s efforts to combat them are effective is less so. In fact, we may be living in the worst of both worlds — one where such regulations fail to seriously address the underlying problem but function as a de facto subsidy for domestic firms. As I note:

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English Composition for Dummies

3293117576_05f43d8305_zOur own Professor Paul Rahe asked in an earlier post if it’s possible to teach college students to write. Well, yes, anybody with average cognitive skills can be taught the writer’s craft. The better question is to ask why English composition is no longer taught in our nation’s high schools.

The short answer is that educators have been trained over the last half century to deliver a completely amorphous curriculum known as language arts. Students of George Orwell will recognize this trend as part of the effort to reduce the English lexicon into meaningless drivel. The precision demanded by the discipline formerly known as English composition has been replaced by a lumpy gruel with no clear purpose or distinction. The average student will study feminist perspectives on advertising before she’s ever taught how to sew a noun to a verb to complete a coherent thought.

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The Lost Art of Political Persuasion

Persuasion used to matter in politics. A good politician was someone with the inclination — and the skill — to convince people who weren’t among his supporters to endorse his preferred policy or legislation.

There are many ways to accomplish this. Lyndon Johnson operated at the retail level, so to speak. Johnson was a master at twisting arms in the Senate, and cajoling members on both sides of the aisle into forming a coalition to pass whatever legislation he wanted. In contrast, Ronald Reagan worked wholesale. He had a genius for convincing millions of voters he was right and — through them — convincing his political opponents that supporting the president’s policies was the best way to keep their jobs.

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Submit Your Questions for FreedomWorks President and CEO Matt Kibbe

kibbeIn the fight to bring Tea Party principles to Washington, few organizations have been as influential as FreedomWorks, a group that has organized over six million Americans in defense of limited government and free markets. The man driving that mission is the organization’s president and CEO, Matt Kibbe, whom Steve Forbes has characterized as having “been to FreedomWorks what Steve Jobs was to Apple.” You can read more about Kibbe here.

As part of our ongoing series of Ricochet forums, Mr. Kibbe has agreed to take questions from you, the Ricochet members. Simply submit your questions in the comments of this post and then we’ll post his answers to some of the best inquiries here next week. Remember to keep your prompts concise and on topic. Want to get it on the conversation? Become a member of Ricochet today!

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What Explains Our Polarized Tastes?

Political polarization is no mystery and nothing new, nor is it anything I worry about. Opposing politicians used to beat one another half to death with canes in the Senate, and that was before 3% of the population died in a savage war against fellow countrymen. So until we see THAT level of division, I don’t fret much.

But what is more inexplicable is the conservative and liberal divergence over the non-political. Why is it in our everyday lives that we have such wildly different but predictable interests outside of the political realm? And not just that, but just by seeing an individual or asking him what he likes to do, prefers to eat, or usually wears, you can guess with about 90% certainty how he thinks about political and social issues.

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The Left Doesn’t Care about Climate Change, Part II

As Professor Rahe noted, the enviro mob is at it again. On Sunday, the usual suspects staged a People’s Climate March and today they’re punishing working stiffs with a Flood Wall Street provocation.

To mark their renewed focus on green activism, an older article of mine was getting passed around the interwebs. In it, I made the case that the Left doesn’t really believe in climate change:

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Further Reflections on the Teaching of Writing

A few days ago, when I posted random ruminations on the 40 years I have spent in trying to teach freshmen how to improve their writing, I figured that next to no one would be interested. But I was wrong. As of this hour, some 86 comments have been posted, and the thread keeps on going.

With this in mind, I would like to direct the attention of Ricochet readers to a remarkable piece on this subject, entitled Getting the Words Right, which Tracy Lee Simmons published in National Review on Sept. 11, 2000 and sent to me when he read my piece. At my request, Tracy got the folks at NRO to post his article online at this link.

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Your Prompt for the Day: Should the NFL Lose Its Non-Profit Status?

shutterstock_158031041Philip Klein, writing in the Washington Examiner:

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., has proposed a bill to strip the NFL of its current nonprofit status over the league’s handling of domestic violence. Meanwhile, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., has also threatened to do so, only in her case, it’s because the league hasn’t forced the Redskins to change their name.

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Do You Tip Hotel Housekeeping?

I just returned from Europe, where tipping is rare. One does no tip for meal service unless the service is truly exceptional. Taxi tips “round up” to the nearest Euro. Then I saw an article about the Marriott trying to shame their guests into tipping the housekeepers.

When I started traveling, no one taught me that tipping the housekeeper was supposedly expected. I usually tip if I am staying multiple days (hoping for goodwill and better service), but not usually for a single night. I suspect that tipping is for more rare than the Marriott would like us to believe.

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Uncommon Knowledge: Hanushek and Peterson on No Child Left Behind

In the most recent episode of Uncommon Knowledge, I sat down with Rick Hanushek and Paul Peterson — two members of the Hoover Institution’s Task Force on K-12 Education — to discuss some of the major issues facing America’s schools. In this clip, they consider No Child Left Behind — whether it made a difference and how it’s been diminished in the years since its passage:

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The Global Warming Scam: The Beat Goes On

For some years now, the President of the United States and his minions have been lying to us about the threat posed to our well-being and our security by global warming. In the next few decades, they say, the temperature will dramatically rise and the climate will change markedly for the worse. The consequences will be dire, and human activity is the cause. We must curb carbon emissions … or millions will die. They have even induced the armed forces to list combating global warming as one of their prime missions.

And the beat goes on. In a breathless report, posted yesterday on the website of Time Magazine, Noel Feeney tells us that “more than 100,000 people are taking to the streets of New York City on Sunday to take part in the People’s Climate March” and that 2,700 similar demonstrations will be taking place in 150 different countries.

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Hope and Change I Can Believe In

This ad seems to me to strike exactly the right tone for the midterm election. What do you think?

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Why Conservatives Should Care About #GamerGate

Assassin's_Creed_coverEvery once in a while, the progressivism’s destructive effects penetrate so deeply into a story that they change the way people view the world. To the under-35 gaming crowd, #GamerGate may be one of those events.

I suspect many readers have no idea what I am talking about, or caught a primer through this week’s Radio Free Delingpole. Milo Yiannapoulos has covered it over at Breitbart. In brief, the community of people who regularly play video games (“gamers”) has significantly grown and expanded, to the point today where the image of the lone white young man in his mother’s basement is no longer accurate. It’s a diverse and widely tolerant community of people, mostly still under the age of 40 (Mr. Delingpole aside, apparently). The industry has exploded in size, rivaling — if not surprising –Hollywood’s revenue.

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Atheist In the Foxhole? So Help Me God…

As many are aware, the Air Force became the last branch of the military to make “so help me God” optional in the oath of enlistment this past week.

A legal review of rules that required the phrase occurred after the American Humanist Association (AHA) threatened to sue on behalf of an atheist airman. The unnamed airman at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada was denied re-enlistment Aug. 25 after crossing the phrase out of the oath.

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Saturday Night Science: Superintelligence

Superintelligence by Nick BostromAbsent either the discovery of a physical constraint that ends computing’s history of exponential growth, economic or societal collapse, or a decision to deliberately relinquish our technology, it is probable that — by the end of the century — some kind of artificially-constructed system will emerge that has greater intelligence than any human being who has ever lived.  Moreover, that system’s superior ability to improve and reproduce itself could allow it to eclipse all of human society so rapidly (i.e., within seconds or hours) that we will have no time to adapt to its presence or interfere with its emergence until it is too late.

Written by a philosopher, Nick Bostrom, this challenging and occasionally difficult book explores these issues in depth, arguing that the emergence of superintelligence will pose the greatest human-caused existential threat to our species has — and possibly will — ever faced.

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SHOCKER! Climate Alarmist Musical Finally Runs Out of Taxpayer Money, Quickly Closes

The asinine ambitions of our know-it-all federal bureaucrats know no bounds. Really. No. Bounds.

A collection of bureaucrats at the National Science Foundation (NSF) used $700,000 of taxpayer money this spring to play out their Broadway fantasies by funding what they surely thought was a sure-fire hit play.

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HS Football Coach Suspended for Joining a Team Prayer

It has been a tough few weeks for football suspensions. As lurid tales of players beating women and “whooping” children dominate the headlines, a successful Arizona high school football coach has been suspended for an even more shocking offense:

Tempe Prep football coach Tommy Brittain has been suspended two weeks for praying with his team after the Show Low [Ariz.] win two weeks ago, his wife, Melissa, confirmed.

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Foreign Affairs
Ladies & Gentlemen, Foreign Affairs

Burning Globe

Making Sense of A Seemingly Senseless World

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Remy on ISIS

Let’s head into the weekend with Reason.com’s brilliant Remy Munasifi. This week, he channels the Obama Administration planning to cripple ISIS non-militarily:

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Radio Free Delingpole
Scottish Dependence and #GamerGate Exposed

Scottish Aftermath

You Can Take Away Our Freedom, But You Can’t Take Away Our Whores!

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A Day in the Life

People often ask me what it’s like to teach at Berkeley as a conservative. This gives you an idea:

DC: One moment that you’re probably more remembered for among members of my generation is your appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in 2010. Stewart later described talking with you as something “like interviewing sand,” it was so hard.

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On the Feeling of Belonging

It’s question often asked and answered, if you live in New York City: “Where are you from?” It’s an easy conversation starter, and since countless residents of the Big Apple are born elsewhere, the answer is often interesting. People flock to the city not just from around the country but also from around the world.

Though I have lived in this place for nine years, I am not a New Yorker.

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Need To Know with Mona Charen and Jay Nordlinger
From Scotland to Spanking

N2K_001bThis week, Need to Know breathes a huge sigh of relief that our second favorite country (or maybe tied for second with Israel, in Mona’s case), Great Britain, remains intact. Jay and Mona talk of Edmund Burke and Al Qaeda, and whether spanking children is bad for the black community. Jay recalls that of all the left’s depredations over the years, the libeling of Republicans and conservatives as racists was the worst. Mona agrees and notes that it’s always Groundhog Day on matters of race relations for a very good reason – it’s the only way Democrats can get elected.

Music from this week’s episode:

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Does America Want Sharply Higher Taxes on the Rich?

Where are top income tax rates heading? The answer may depend on how Americans view the rich and the reasons behind high-end income inequality. Are the 1% and 0.1% and 0.01% pretty much deserving or undeserving?

Or to put it another way: If you believe — mostly — that macro forces such as technology and globalization have boosted top incomes by allowing highly talented and educated individuals to manage or perform on a larger scale, then you might be less inclined to support higher top marginal rates. But if you believe the “rich getting much richer” phenomenon is mostly driven by compliant corporate boards overpaying CEOs and a breakdown of social norms against exorbitant pay, then you might favor sharply higher tax rates.

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