The Underside of Title IX
By Leo Kocher

There is a misconception that Title IX — the anti-sex-discrimination statute passed in 1972 — is simply about creating equal sports opportunities for girls. It’s not. Unfortunately, we’ve reached the point where the implementation of this law is nothing more than a quota system, where the numbers of collegiate athletes have to reflect the same percentage of men and women students at the school. And in order to achieve these quotas, schools are not just adding female athletic teams, they are eradicating men’s sports programs.

The fact is that more men gravitate to sports than women, so in order to reach these arbitrary quotas, schools have implemented perverse policies. First of all, there is the practice of what schools call “roster management.” Roster management is a euphemism for lowering the number of males on a team to a bare minimum. The sole purpose of cutting these athletes is to level down males to help meet the gender quota. This does not save any real money because they simply drop non-scholarship athletes. It does not benefit females in any way.

The second phenomenon is outright elimination of entire male sports programs. The gender quota advocates characterize dropping male sports programs as an “unfortunate necessity” in order to free resources needed to give females long overdue opportunities. But that argument falls apart when you look at what happens at schools like Boston College.

Last year Boston College announced that they were phasing out their men’s lacrosse, water polo, and wrestling teams. They also announced that they were funding over 40 new full scholarships for the women’s rowing team. But this was not a case of robbing Paul to pay Paula. The three men’s teams that were eliminated were composed of non-scholarship athletes coached by part-time head coaches. In fact, the liquidation of these three teams did not even pay for three scholarships for the female athletes. These men’s teams had to go. And the reason was not so more women could play sports; it was to reduce the number of male athletes on campus.

Finally, we have schools like Miami of Ohio. In the same year that they eliminated men’s tennis, soccer, and wrestling, they also took their women’s precision ice-skating team to Europe, twice. There are over 1,500 tennis, soccer, and wrestling high school programs in the state of Ohio. There are no precision ice-skating teams.

Groups like the Women’s Sports Foundation, the Department of Education, and the National Women’s Law Center may have successfully camouflaged Title IX’s deleterious effects on college and high school sports, but the IWF’s project, Play Fair, has been crucial in challenging their rhetoric.

Part of my role as a national spokesperson on Title IX is that I have to talk to these kids who have had their programs dropped. And I want you to know that it’s extremely distressing to talk to a group of young, gifted, dedicated athletes who have just had  It’s difficult to explain to them that there are people who look on male collegiate athletes as necessary casualties in a war.

I believe the IWF will ultimately reduce the number of young people who are going to have to hear that message. On behalf of them and their parents, I thank you.

Leo Kocher is Chairman of the National Coalition for Athletics Equity and is the head wrestling coach at the University of Chicago.  He is also a National Advisory Board member of the Independent Women’s Forum.

The New Bonanza:Tax Reform in a Prosperous Age
By Amity Shlaes

There is a political notion that tax reform is difficult today because only bad times can lead to tax reform. We are in the midst of a new prosperity, a special prosperity. In fact, it’s an epochal prosperity, like the Industrial Revolution. It’s a one-time thing that is changing our culture through technological change.

America now is more like the America of Andrew Jackson than it is like the America of Jimmy Carter.  More than at any point in history we’re all succeeding, or much more importantly, we have the hope of success. Everybody knows someone who has prospered through the new technology. And this has consequences relating to our expectations of earnings.  

But it also has consequences in our attitudes toward government and taxes. In 1998 Blueprint magazine republished a Louis Harris poll done in 1973 that asked voters what they thought of the following statement: “The best government is the government that governs the least.” In 1973, the majority of people disagreed — they thought it was important to have a big government. Then Blueprint asked the same question again. This time the majority of people agreed. The polling results were the mirror image of what they had been 25 years ago.

This illustrates a sea change happening in the country. More people place more faith in the private sector than they do in the public sector. Relatedly, you see some shift in attitudes towards taxes. The same 1998 poll asked people if they thought it was the job of government to redistribute wealth, one of the effects of taxation. Only 17 percent of the people, Democrats included, agreed.

In the late 1990s, people aren’t interested in a tax policy that just helps them tread water. They want a tax policy that allows them to have a shot at being part of the new bonanza.

Yet, so often, our current government, our tax writers, don’t seem to understand that. We are still writing tax policy as if we lived in a more insecure period. In this decade lawmakers write tax law from a series of negatives: “We can’t diminish government revenues, We can’t make bold tax cuts that would widen the deficit, and We can’t cut top marginal rates — that would be giving too much to the rich.” So there’s a long list of no’s but very few yeses.

At the Wall Street Journal we’ve called this “practicing safe tax policy.”

Progressivity is an outrage. It taxes those who strive the most. There’s a new initiative with the SAT, “the strivers program.” Why can’t they have a strivers program with taxes?  Why is striver a good word in education and a bad word in taxes?

We’ve wasted too much political capital on the child credit and should be looking at what can make us grow, because we want to be part of the growth. We want a tax structure that accomplishes that instead of pandering to us as a specific interest group — women. Women are people. They need lower rates just like men.

Here’s a simple prescription on taxes. People recognize that bad times lead to tax reform. But there’s a corollary. Good times can lead to tax reform, too. Republicans aren’t going to win if they continue to be the party of who I am. They have to be the party of who I want to become. There’s endless political capital to be gained by this switch at this point in history with so much growth going on in the economy.

I give the final word to Bourke Cockran, a Democrat who led the House of Representatives at the turn of the century. In opposing the income tax he said: “The hope of wealth, which is universal, is a far greater force for order than the possession of wealth, which is confined to a few.”

Amity Shlaes is an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal and author of The Greedy Hand (Harvest/Harcourt).

Holding Steady on Taxes
By Karlyn Bowman

In 1947, when Gallup asked people whether the amount of federal income taxes they paid was too high, about right, or too low, 54 percent said that the amount of taxes they paid was too high. Fast forward to 1999 when Gallup repeated the question, and 60 percent said that their taxes were too high. Gallup has asked this question 30 times in the past 50 years and on all but one occasion, large majorities have said that their taxes are too high.

A great change in attitudes about the federal government has taken place over the last 20 years. But that change hasn’t extended to tax reform. Why not? And why, given the type of tax dissatisfaction that we see, have the Republicans and a handful of Democrats had such a difficult time moving the issue of tax reform ahead?

First, most Americans don’t believe that the budget surplus is real. In an ABC News poll this past August, people were told that the federal government was forecasting a budget surplus of over one trillion dollars over the next 10 years.Only 16 percent of those surveyed said that this was a realistic expectation, and 80 percent called it wishful thinking.

Second, Americans are deeply skeptical about tax relief from Washington. It doesn’t matter whether proposals come from Democrats or Republicans. An Opinion Dynamics/Fox News survey from last March showed that only 18 percent believed that President Clinton was talking about them when he talked about targeted tax cuts. Another 62 percent said he was talking about someone else who would benefit from a tax cut. And nearly 9 in 10 Americans simply did not believe politicians in Washington when they promised to lower tax rates.

It is interesting that this skepticism of tax promises from Washington is not found at the state level. Americans have higher levels of trust in those running state and local government, and they believe those politicians are more accountable than those in Washington.

But far more important to the success or failure of tax cuts today is an understanding of how the country’s mood affects public interest in tax cuts. In 1935, Gallup started asking a very simple question where you can give any response you want: “What’s the most important issue facing the country today?”

Right now, a very small number of people, around 15 to 18 percent, mentions education, social security, or the moral crisis in the nation. Some-times, taxes come up. But the level of concern about all of these issues is far lower today than the level of concern about other issues in the past.

Compare that to 1979, when 75 percent said that high inflation was the most important problem. In 1982, a solid majority said high unemployment. During the time of economic anxiety and downsizing in the early 1990s, one-third said the economy in general.

Today no issue reaches even 20 percent. It’s one of the quietest moods in the history of public opinion polls. The economy’s robust performance has dampened enthusiasm about tax cuts.

Do you remember the economic climate in the late 1970s? Inflation was skyrocketing out of control. Candidate Ronald Reagan was talking about tax cuts. Congressman William Steiger had led a battle to convince people of the importance of reducing the capital gains tax to get the economy moving.

In 1979 Gallup asked people to agree with a simple statement: “The government ought to cut taxes even if it means putting off some important things that need to be done.” A huge majority, 62 percent, wanted to cut taxes.  When Gallup repeated that question last summer, only 21 percent said that the government should cut taxes. That is a drop of 40 percentage points in 20 years.

Most of the polls leading up to the 2000 presidential race show the GOP with a large advantage on the issue of “holding taxes down.” A politician today has everything to lose by being seen as someone who would raise taxes. But he has very little to gain by being seen as one who would cut them. The issue today is simply holding taxes down.

Karlyn Bowman is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a member of the National Advisory Board of the IWF.

We Just Have to Have It
By Meredith Leyva

There are certain marketing tactics we use when dealing with private companies. These same tactics can be applied to public policy. Marketing experts say that a name brand becomes a brand when consumers associate it with core values emanating from a product or service. As this association grows stronger, consumer loyalty and willingness to pay a premium increases.

Take Intel. Does anybody really know what Intel processors do? No! But we just have to have it. That is emotional loyalty.

Translated into a political context, the public associates ideological brands with a set of core and distinct values. And as that connection grows stronger, loyalty increases.

You start with awareness and understanding of an issue. That’s a rational commitment that leads to credibility. If a person decides the issue works, that is the first step. But the next step is to gain their emotional commitment to your issue by connecting to their values. Even when you talk about “cold” subjects like economics, it’s important to put them in the context of family values and personal experiences. Then they ask, “How can I help?” At that point they are emotionally committed to the issue.  

Understanding this process is very important in order to bring people over to your side when you’re making broad policy arguments.

Meredith Leyva is a managing director of the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton.