WASHINGTON, June 10 (UPI) -- The UPI think tank wrap-up is a daily digest covering brief opinion pieces, reactions to recent news events and position statements released by various think tanks.
Pacific Research Institute
(PRI promotes individual freedom and personal responsibility as the cornerstones of a civil society, best achieved through a free-market economy, limited government, and private initiative. PRI researches and analyzes critical issues facing California and the nation, and crafts strategies for policy reform.)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Contrarian: PC Superstition on Campus
By Sally C. Pipes
The careers of Margaret Thatcher, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, and Benazir Bhutto do not reveal any deficiency in women's ability to recognize facts and understand the real world. But those who teach something called "women's studies" seem to have some problems in these basic areas.
Unknown before the 1970s, there are now about 900 women's studies programs in universities across the country, including 15 doctoral programs. But according to a study of the most commonly used textbooks, the course materials in these programs bear little resemblance to scholarship.
One text teaches that science and medicine are the outgrowth of a "male culture," something that would have surprised Madame Curie, who is the only two-time Nobel laureate. Likewise the notion that women should be leery of new medical breakthroughs, a staple of women's studies texts, would have surprised former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders.
The texts also charge that women are shortchanged in medical research, which is untrue. As it happens, women are 60 percent of all subjects in clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health, and since 1985, more money has been spent on breast cancer research than on any other cancer research.
In another text, women are told that they are slaves. That would certainly surprise Oprah Winfrey, one of the wealthiest women in America, who does pretty much as she pleases. Carly Fiorina, chairwoman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, and the countless women starting their own businesses, would also find it strange. But according to the women's studies texts, women are not even aware of their servitude. Apparently only professors of women's studies have the ability to see such things.
Women now earn the majority of bachelor's and master's degrees, but women's studies professors maintain that academia itself is simply another tool of male oppression. This should come as no surprise since the premise behind women's studies is that truth is simply a social construct that reflects male domination, patriarchy, and "phallocentric" society. "No purely factual studies exist," says one of the major women's studies texts.
Many studies show that people who are married tend to do better financially. But not a single chapter in any major women's studies textbook describes marriage as a good thing. In fact, marriage emerges as a major cause of mental illness in women. Men, of course, do not fare well in women's studies material. One text portrays fathers as a "foreign male element" in the home. If men have any role at all, it is to unintentionally elicit feminist impulses in their daughters.
The women's studies texts continue to maintain that women are paid less than men for the same work, and they continue to hold up I Rigoberta Menchu long after this work was exposed as a fraud. In every case, contrary evidence is ignored, which defies true scholarship. The full story on women's studies can be found in "Lying in a Bed of One's Own: How Women's Studies Miseducates Students," recently published by the Independent Women's Forum. That women's studies types have blasted this study as "right-wing propaganda" should serve only to confirm its accuracy.
Suffice it to say that the field of women's studies is not genuine scholarship, but rather an axis of feminist superstition, a victim mentality, and anti-male demonology. But even with their distaste for facts and grudge against reality, women's studies departments are, of course, politically correct on campus. That's why they won't disappear any time soon, though by all scholarly standards, and common sense, they should. Students who are required to take these courses should avail themselves of the IWF study, which can be found at www.iwf.org.
Women are doing quite well in American society, with the trends all upward. They can further empower themselves by ignoring this bogus non-discipline and instead pursuing degrees in engineering, business, medicine, or the law.
(Sally C. Pipes is the president of the Pacific Research Institute.)
The National Center for Policy Analysis
(The NCPA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research institute that seeks innovative private sector solutions to public policy problems.)
DALLAS -- Corporate Earnings Confusion
By Bruce Bartlett
One of the most puzzling aspects of the economic recovery has been the lackluster performance of the stock market. There has been no shortage of explanations. These include:
-- Belief that recent positive growth numbers are merely a temporary rally in a double-dip recession.
-- Congressional and White House actions on steel tariffs, the farm bill and the apparent administration backtrack on global warming -- which could impose massive new regulations on virtually all U.S. businesses.
-- Continuing uncertainties about war and terrorism, future Federal Reserve policy and the outcome of the mid-term elections.
However, according to the NCPA's Bruce Bartlett, the most important factor holding back stocks is the enormous post-Enron confusion and skepticism about corporate earnings -- some of it justified.
-- There was pervasive misuse of a non-standard accounting method called "pro forma earnings," abused by many now-bankrupt dot-coms to hide factors that negatively affected earnings.
-- Widely used stock options diluted earnings while their impact wasn't apparent to investors because the data are often buried in footnotes.
However, their impact is huge -- reducing profits by roughly $5 per share for all the companies in the S&P 500.
-- As a result, Standard and Poor's has switched to "core earnings," to calculate company earnings figures to accurately reflect how companies are really doing in their primary business operations.
-- There are daily fresh reports of large profit write-downs at major corporations, despite an improving economy, as companies clean up their books and try to produce earnings data markets will trust.
In the meantime, investors must also labor to interpret them and calculate appropriate values for stocks based upon them. Until this process, which could go on for months, is completed, the stock market will probably struggle to rise much above current levels.
(Bruce Bartlett is a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.)
The Cato Institute
WASHINGTON -- Big Government Swallows Its Opponents
By John Samples and Ivan Osorio
Why does Big Government continue to persist three administrations after Reagan and almost a decade after the Republican revolution of 1994? It must be those big-spending Democrats and their greedy constituency groups, right?
Think again. Big government is corrupting the judgment of conservative Republicans, too. Consider the case of Sen. Tim Hutchinson, R-Ark., and the Labor Department's Senior Community Service Employment Program, known as SCSEP.
In April, Hutchinson and five of his colleagues -- Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and James Jeffords, I-Vt. -- wrote to the Labor Department about the possibility that it may open the SCSEP to competitive bidding.
They asked for "assurances that competition requirements will maintain continuity and stability at the national level by ensuring that successful grantees continue to receive funding." In other words: Open the SCSEP to competitive bidding, but don't cut off current grantees.
The SCSEP is a legacy of the free-spending Great Society years. Established in 1965, the program is reauthorized annually under Title V of the Older Americans Act. Its stated purpose is "to provide useful community services and to foster individual economic self-sufficiency through training and job placement in unsubsidized jobs." In short, the SCSEP does two things: It provides job placement and funds part-time community service jobs at public libraries, parks, and other public facilities.
Every year, the Labor Department hands out about $440 million in SCSEP grants to 10 national sponsors. Some sponsors carry out actual programs, while others act as middlemen doling out DOL money to sub-grantees. But both categories of grantees present unique problems.
Green Thumb Inc., which recently changed its name to Experience Works, is the SCSEP's biggest grant recipient at over $100 million a year. It began in 1965 with a pilot program under the SCSEP's community service category of "community betterment or beautification" -- planting trees along highways. Today, Experience Works also operates Meals on Wheels programs and places seniors in libraries, blood banks, senior centers, and other public service facilities. Recently, it has begun to provide job training in information technology skills.
Job placement and training for seniors are fairly laudable objectives. But when a government program is involved, it is important to ask a few important questions. First, are the program's goals being met? And second, is there a better way to deliver these services? When we consider these questions, it is apparent that the SCSEP is in need of reform.
First, the government needs an independent assessment of whether program goals are being met. Currently, grantees measure their own success in meeting program goals. With millions of government grant dollars at stake, recipients have a built-in incentive to issue consistently positive reports. This is especially the case with organizations like Green Thumb/Experience Works, whose very existence depends on government funding. According to its tax forms from 1996 through 1999, government grants consistently account for over 90 percent of its funding.
Second, many of SCSEP's functions could be better performed by the private sector. Volunteers and private charities already contribute to the program's social service functions at facilities like public libraries and parks. And matching seniors with prospective employers shouldn't have to require millions of federal dollars.
For years, the SCSEP has been handled as a de facto entitlement for the same 10 grantees. Now rumors say it may be opened to competitive bidding. This is the least the federal government could do to protect taxpayer interests. After all, a well-run competition should assure that taxpayers get the most for their money. Grantees would have to come up with new ideas and hold down program costs to beat out others who are trying to obtain the same pot of money.
Ideally, Congress should scrap the SCSEP in favor of private initiatives. In the real world, taxpayers might at least expect that grants would be awarded on a competitive basis. But that's too much for the groups that run this program and their supporters on Capitol Hill. Within days of hearing that the SCSEP may open to competition, the six senators mentioned earlier wrote to the Labor Department asking it to keep current grantees on the federal dole.
The names of most of the senators wouldn't surprise you. Liberal Democrats Harkin, Kennedy, and Mikulski never saw a Great Society program they wouldn't protect from budget cuts or competition. Republican Arlen Specter also has a soft spot for spending other people's money.
But joining them is Hutchinson, and that is surprising. Hutchinson says he's a conservative and in fact, unlike Specter, seems to be one. What's he doing defending a remnant of the Great Society? And if we can't even open up a small grant program to competition, how are conservatives ever going to improve federal programs or reduce their size?
(John Samples is director of the Cato Institute's Center for Representative Government. Ivan Osorio is the editor of the Capital Research Center's "Labor Watch.")
Institute for Public Accuracy
( The IPA is a nationwide consortium of policy researchers that seeks to broaden public discourse by gaining media access for experts whose perspectives are often overshadowed by major think tanks and other influential institutions.)
WASHINGTON -- Comments on The Alleged "Dirty Bomb" Terrorist Plot
-- Jay Truman, director of the Downwinders organization, a group made up of people exposed to nuclear tests. Truman is one of the nation's foremost analysts of the effects of nuclear weapons testing.
"A radiological warfare agent is not a nuclear bomb. Rather, it uses a conventional explosion to spread radioactive material. There would be severe panic and chaos and possibly long-term cancer problems, depending on what isotope was used. 'Dirty bomb' is a misleading label -- the U.S. government's nuclear tests with 'clean bombs' have done far more massive damage than a 'dirty bomb' could.... The U.S. government has been so tardy on dealing with proliferation issues..."
-- Robert Nelson, a researcher at the Science and Global Security Program at Princeton University.
"A radiological weapon, or 'dirty bomb,' would use conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material over a wide area with the intent to create panic. The immediate radiation effects would likely be minimal and would not kill, or even make sick, large
numbers of people. It could, however, slightly increase the incidence of long-term cancers in a densely populated urban environment. The economic damage to a large city could be severe from the evacuation and decontamination procedures that EPA standards would require."
-- Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York, author of "Cover Up: What You ARE NOT Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power," and "Power Crazy," and writer and narrator of the award-winning TV documentary "The Push To Revive Nuclear Power."
"This underlines the dangers of widespread proliferation of nuclear materials -- from the tens of thousands of pounds of lethal spent fuel produced yearly in every atomic power plant to the deadly radioisotopes used in food irradiation systems the U.S. government is now promoting."