- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 8, 2007

Progressive failure

“Fewer poor children [in Britain] now go to good universities than when Labor came to power. People are less able to earn more than their parents than they were 20 years ago. More people than ever before are dependent on the state. …

“Social mobility was at very heart of [Prime Minister Tony] Blair’s vision of social justice. In his early years, he repeatedly said that the old, ‘elitist’ establishment was now to be replaced by a meritocracy — the ability to better oneself through one’s own efforts. That’s why combating ‘social exclusion’ has been the Blairite mantra.

“The bitter truth is that his own policies are in large measure responsible for this abject failure of progressive politics. And that’s because of a radical incoherence at the heart of project Blair, which embodies two totally contradictory beliefs.

“The first was in meritocracy, or equality of opportunity, which lies at the core of social mobility. The second was in a radically different kind of equality, defined as everyone having an equal right to the most favorable outcomes regardless of their own behavior or circumstances.

“These two beliefs are completely incompatible. Meritocracy rewards people for their own efforts and worth. But since not everyone can achieve the same things, some people inescapably get left behind. So if people believe everyone is equally entitled to the same outcomes, a meritocracy cannot exist.”

— Melanie Phillips, writing on “The eclipse of opportunity,” Monday in the Daily Mail of London

Freedom or ‘hate’?

“Arrested for sharing the Gospel? An expected outcome in North Korea, China or any Muslim country on the globe. But in Pennsylvania? Yep. Arlene Elshinnawy, a 75-year-old grandmother of three, and Lynda Beckman, a 70-year-old grandmother of 10 (along with nine others), were arrested for sharing their faith on the public sidewalk in Philadelphia. … They faced 47 years … in jail for spreading the Gospel because of a Pennsylvania ‘hate crimes’ law that is nearly identical to H.R. 254 — the ‘hate crimes’ bill reintroduced in Congress and said to be on the ‘fast track’ in the House Judiciary Committee. …

“Don’t believe hate crimes will silence your freedom of speech and freedom of religion? Think again.”

— Janet Folger, writing on “When grandmas go to jail for witnessing,” Wednesday in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

Supreme blues

“First we heard sitting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently telling USA Today’s Joan Biskupic that she’s ‘lonely’ on the court without Sandra Day O’Connor. Then this week, former Justice O’Connor told Newsweek that she chose to retire rather than resign because had she lost her office at the High Court and her judicial duties, ‘maybe then she would be a nobody. “I’d be on my own,” ’ as she put it.

“Since when do the most empowered women in America see themselves as a Patsy Cline song? …

“[I]t’s probably no accident that both Ginsburg and O’Connor have waited until now to speak out so forcefully on what it means to be a woman at the high court — now, as the legal profession is twisting itself into pretzels over the numbers of women who are dropping out. These women pioneers may be worried not only about women and the Supreme Court, but rather about women and the law, or even women in the workplace in general.”

— Dahlia Lithwick, writing on “Justice Girls,” Tuesday in Slate at www.slate.com

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