Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Culturist Banking Lessons

Does the culturist perspective teach us anything about the international financial meltdown? You bet it does. In fact, if we had had the words “culturism” and “culturist” we likely would not have gotten into this financial mess in the first place.

How did we get into this mess? We got in this mess because the United States’ government noticed that different cultural groups get mortgages at different rates. And since they had no word to guide them to a cultural explanation for this discrepancy, they took the disparities as evidence of racism. And since banks make the loans, our government decided banks must be racist. Thus not having the concept of culturism forced them into a tragic misstep.

The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act under the American President Jimmy Carter first started checking banking institutions to make sure they were giving credit to low income and minority families. During the Clinton administration, the United States government’s Housing and Urban Development Department sued banks to force them to make risky loans to these buyers. Barack Obama’s ACORN organization intimidated banks, via tactics such as protesting mergers and lawsuits, into making more of these bad loans. Banks complied, but spread the risk throughout the entire system. The stage was set for a collapse.

If the United States’ government had had a culturist perspective, rather than using the disparity in loan rates to show society is racist, they might have used it to show reality is culturist. They could have used it as a teaching tool by says, “Cultural group A, you’re lagging behind cultural group B. You need to do some collective reflection and get your cultural act together.” Culturists would see this as a more constructive reaction than suing banks so that they could not discriminate on a rational cultural basis between good and bad loan risks. Recognizing the important variable of cultural values helps people make realistic decisions.

Multiculturalists will tell you that all discrimination is bad. They do this because, ironically, they do not really believe cultural diversity is important. They think cultural diversity is just a matter of food, fashion and festivals. Deep down, they do not really think diversity exists; they think all cultures are the same. Culturists, on the other hand, acknowledge cultural diversity. If people in your culture drink too much, if they do not postpone pregnancy, if they don’t study, if they do not keep their families together, culturists know it will impact your economic and educational outcome. Cultural practices can even affect the rates at which your cultural group gets mortgages approved.

The next time you hear someone start into that tired rhetoric about how racist our Western societies are, the next time you hear them start to use different levels of achievement to prove it, I want you to get angry. Tell them that that is the same lame sort of thinking that got us into our financial mess! Tell them that rather than dismissing the possibility that cultural values can impact society, as multiculturalists do, they need to start considering the very real impact cultural values can have, as culturists do. The multiculturalist perspective makes us indiscriminately ignore the impact of culture and denigrates our society as racist. It undermines our rationality and pride. Shout that you are sick of people constantly undermining our teaching of values and pride by calling America racist. Then, after regaining your composure, remind them that the financial collapse proves multiculturalism is dangerous.

To get our financial institutions and society back to discriminating and judging rationally, to safeguard both, we need to recognize the very real impact of cultural diversity. We need to stop being multiculturalists and start being culturists. We have to switch from multiculturalism to culturism. We must to learn from our mistakes. Otherwise, reality will soon hit us in the face again.
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