How Tall Are You?
January 30, 2001
comments powered by Disqus
The New York Times today carries a special section on "Working" that includes an article that runs under the headline, "There Are Questions You Shouldn't Answer." The article informs Times readers, in all seriousness, that some job interview questions are "illegal."
For better or worse, some job interview questions are indeed illegal. But the Times list seems to take the most expansive possible view of anti-discrimination laws, to the point of absurdity. And the Times nowhere suggests that these laws may have gone a bit too far. Rather, it advises readers not to answer the "illegal" questions -- advice that may help advance the Times' maximalist view of anti-discrimination law, but that may stand in the way of the readers actually getting hired.
One question that the Times asserts is "illegal" is "When did you graduate from college?" While it is true that this question might be asked as a way of finding out a job candidate's age (which can be an illegal question), it also might be asked for perfectly defensible reasons.
Another question that the Times asserts is "illegal" is "How tall are you"? Does the Times really think that someone applying for a job as a professional basketball player "shouldn't answer" this question? The Times itself seems to think the information is relevant even for the purpose of writing a profile of a labor leader; a "Public Lives" profile of the president of Local 282 of the Teamsters that runs in the metro section of today's New York Times notes that he "is 6 feet 2 inches tall and weights 270 pounds."
Never Been Done Before: An article in the metro section of today's New York Times quotes the New York schools chancellor making excuses about a delay in privatizing the management of five New York schools. "No one's done this before," the chancellor claims. The Times lets the chancellor get away with this ridiculous remark unchallenged, even though a few paragraphs earlier the Times article reports that the private company, Edison Schools, already manages more than 100 schools in 45 cities.
Inherent Danger: An editorial in this morning's New York Times about President Bush's plan to deliver social services through religious groups says, "There is also an inherent danger in government's picking and choosing which groups to help." Smartertimes.com couldn't agree more. But it's funny how the Times pulls out this argument only when it is religious groups that the government is choosing to help, not when it is say, a newspaper company seeking a special tax break for a new headquarters tower in Times Square, or any of the special groups of taxpayers that Al Gore was promising little carve-out tax breaks to as part of his presidential campaign.
The other hilarious argument that the Times makes against the Bush plan is that "Involvement by churches, synagogues and other houses of worship in the civil rights movement and peace and antiwar movements flourished precisely because these groups were free of government involvement and thus free to criticize government policies." Talk about an instrumentalist view of religion. The main virtue of organized religion that is worth preserving, the Times seems to think, is its opposition to the Vietnam War. It's also great the way the Times takes care to distinguish between the "peace" movement and the "antiwar" movement. Sure would like to see an editorial explaining that distinction.
On the merits, Smartertimes.com actually agrees with the Times that there are dangers in the Bush plan and that religious groups would probably be better off keeping a distance from the government. One danger is that the Bush plan would also take an instrumentalist view of religion, albeit as a social-service provider rather than as an antiwar agitator. But it's funny how the Times' concerns about the corrosive influences of federal funding, justified though the concerns may be, only come into play when the institution getting the money is a religion, not an overseas abortion provider or a New York art museum or National Public Radio.
Price Hike: The Times buries inside its business section today the news that it is hiking its home-delivery prices by 12% for readers in Boston and Washington, 11% for readers in New York and 8% for subscribers to the national edition. You'd better believe that if an electricity company or home heating oil company or health insurer imposed those sorts of increases affecting that many users, it would be the subject of more than a four-paragraph brief on page two of the business section.
Subscribe to the Mailing List
© 2017 FutureOfCapitalism LLC