In this column in March I told the true story about the poor guy who worked in the mayor's office in Washington, D.C. and lost his job for using the word niggardly in a staff meeting. He used the word correctly, in the right context, yet inadvertently managed to offend a vocabulary-challenged co-worker who pitched a fit. By the way, I understand that under significant hue and cry from a rightfully outraged public—duh!—this fellow has been re-instated. However in typical politically correct fashion, he's now in a different position within the local government.
Your reaction to that March column was amazing. I received numerous e-mails, faxes and phone calls from readers across the nation and one from a gentleman in Australia. The general feedback indicated that when someone can ostensibly lose his or her job on grounds of hurt feelings over a perceived wrong, it's time to consider stopping and asking for directions because we're definitely on the wrong road.
Well, that apparent tingling of your respective nerves prompted me to look at another Sacred Cow this month.
One of you wrote the following in your e-mail about the March column. "If we would spend as many resources on educating our people, especially in English, literature and history, as is spent on sensitivity training, politically correct awareness and special interest programs, we would be better off as a society." I would add to that list a good grounding in basic economics. Adam Smith, who literally wrote the book on capitalism, talks about wealth production as fundamental to that economic system. He goes on to cite manufacturing, mining, agriculture and labor as the activities that create wealth.
Too many folks, whose livelihoods exist because of wealth producers, seem to think profit is bad and look for ways to redistribute the created wealth. Those who spend time maligning these fundamental industries are literally attempting to kill the geese that lay their golden eggs.
Of course industry must be responsible for proper stewardship of the planet and its resources which, as Mr. Smith points out, include us—labor. But wouldn't those who live off the bounty generated by wealth production be smarter to accept capitalism's profit motive as fact and work with it rather than deny it should exist and try to set up barriers to its accumulation?
Hmm, political correctness, economic ignorance—different offspring of the same parents? What do you think?