Friday, November 13, 2009

Viva La Difference Part Deux

Ok, here is the second part I promised. Should we take these differences into account in our public policy? It's one thing for free citizens to make free decisions about how to design a product or what products to sell or buy. But should people be forced to do so? The libertarian in me says no. But of course we should think about it before jumping to conclusions.

Let's take public school policy. The government has a stake in this because a stronger educational system would lead to stronger economic growth and a higher standard of living for us all. So lets say that boys learn better with blue textbooks and girls learn better with green textbooks. Do we mandate to textbook companies that they need to spend the extra money to create two colors of textbooks, and then mandate that school systems spend more to buy them (as the increased costs would invariably be passed on)?

One example of gender-based policy is the famous Title IX which mandates that schools need to have equal numbers of male and female athletes, regardless of the interest of students, fans, or revenue. This means if a school has 100 male football players, they need to support 3 or 4 female sports to make up the difference - since most sports have 25-30 players.

If men respond better to a blood pressure drug than women do, should we mandate the the drug company spends extra money finding a similarly effective drug for women?

If you are answering yes to some of these and no to others, I will repeat a comment from a previous post. Do you have some logical basis for the difference?