Friday, March 30, 2007

Mothers, Fathers, & Non-Zero Sum

In preparation for the concluding lecture on High Fidelity ("where is Hornby going with this?") I found an excellent example today to illustrate Zero-sum thinking, in the context of our course and, as they say 'ripped form today's headlines, on Broadsheet: the 'women's issues' blog.
Why "Broadsheet"? For one thing, we like the word "broad," which for us conjures up images of Rosalind Russell as Hildy Johnson, ferociously pounding out copy on deadline in "His Girl Friday," her tailored suit wrinkle-free and sexy. But the term also applies to our content. The issues we'll tackle are limitless, really, given the fact that our subject includes half the world's population. Katie Holmes' pregnancy, Harriet Miers' Supreme Court nomination, the FDA's stalling over Plan B -- we've got something to say about all of it. Our goal is to be opinionated about topics that affect women, but also a filter by which we can look at the news from a (mostly) female point of view.
Broadsheet is responding to a lawsuit that the activist National Organisation for Women has initiated against the use of "....federal dollars -- to the tune of $50 million a year -- [to] fund a program aimed at promoting responsible fathehood."

Broadsheet argues, in effect, that NOW is stuck in zero-sum thinking: acting as if the promotion of good fatherhood must be detracting from the promotion of good motherhood. Broadsheet's response (one very congenial to my way of thinking, I confess) is that one can promote one to the advantage of both.

Nb: the classic book-length argument against zero-sum thinking is Bob Wright's "Non Zero":
Meanwhile, some examples of non-zero-sum things: arms control negotiations, trading gossip, the relationship among genes on a genome, and such transactions as buying a car, buying a book, buying a book or, finally, buying a book.

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