Ohio’s Economy Is Harmed by Intolerance

A letter published in The Columbus Dispatch on April 12, 2008 used economic statistics to argue against laws protecting homosexuals from employment discrimination. The writer claimed that stronger economic growth occurs in states denying civil rights to gays.

She apparently feels that the solution to Ohio’s woeful economy is more hatred and intolerance. But her approach has been taken by the state’s government for a number of years now and has undoubtedly exacerbated Ohio’s economic problems.

There are many factors influencing economic development and numerous ways each factor can interact with one or more of the others. It is therefore ridiculous to claim that only one factor was the necessary cause of an overall economic result. The writer was using the logical fallacy post hoc ergo propter hoc (“after this, therefore on account of this”).

And if there really was a direct correlation between discrimination and economic growth, she wouldn’t have needed to hedge her argument with terms such as “basically,” “generally speaking,” and “the majority of states.” Her use of those terms was an admission that the experience of some states refutes her position.

A better way to judge the economic effects of hatred and intolerance is to ask persons working with those who are leaving the state. For example, immigration lawyers and consultants run seminars in major cities throughout the U.S. There they encourage homosexuals to consider moving to Canada to enjoy civil rights and protection from discrimination.

Many have done so or are thinking about it. As a result, the U.S. economy loses business owners and workers who would otherwise be producing and consuming goods and services here. The harmful economic effects could not be clearer.

Mary Joseph, a Toronto immigration lawyer, explained to a U.S. newspaper the outflow of law-abiding and productive homosexuals to Canada: “As long as the United States is continuing to be oppressive in their lack of sanctity of unions for gays and lesbians, then they’re going to continue to lose really good citizens.” She added, “Your loss, our gain.”

ABC News reported in 2007 that the number of Americans moving to Canada hit a 30-year high in 2006. The report also said the persons making the move are highly educated.

One gay man who did so explained to the reporter: “I wanted a country that respected my human rights and the rights of others.” And he mentioned he has family members in the U.S. who are thinking about joining him as residents of Canada.

History teaches similar lessons about intolerance. One of the reasons the Founders of the U.S. separated church and state was to avoid the economic harms resulting from discrimination against minority religions. They knew that religious bigotry had weakened countries by causing valuable citizens to leave.

For instance, James Madison argued against governmental support of religion by saying it would “have a . . . tendency to banish our Citizens. . . . To superadd a fresh motive to emigration by revoking the liberty which they now enjoy, would be the same species of folly which has dishonored and depopulated flourishing kingdoms.”

No wonder the Founders had a high regard for liberty, tolerance, and the protection of civil rights for minorities.

Naomi Wolf shows that discrimination and intolerance had a similar effect on Germany shortly before World War II. She writes: “From the early 1930s, professional purges led so many Jewish and ‘communist’ academics and scientists to emigrate that this led to a major brain drain. By 1933, about 2,000 of the nation’s premier artists and writers had fled as well.”  

In recent years, the follies in Ohio’s state government have provided motives to emigrate for people such as homosexuals, smokers, gamblers, persons who want to enter civil unions, persons who work in or patronize adult businesses, members of minority religions, those who desire fair elections, payday lenders and their customers, and those who want an honest and intelligent state government.

Clearly, a “live and let live” atmosphere has been sorely lacking in Ohio. And as Madison could have predicted, denying civil liberties to various minorities has caused the state to become dishonored and depopulated.

In fact, the Associated Press reported in 2008: “Ohio led the nation with seven of the 34 counties with the biggest population declines in 2007. . . .”

Ohio led another ignominious list later the same year, when Forbes reported that four of America’s ten “fastest-dying cities” are major cities in Ohio. The magazine said the dying cities “face fleeing populations, painful waves of unemployment and barely growing economies.”

Many Ohioans – particularly those in leadership positions – need to realize that the historian Kenneth Clark was right in saying that acceptance of individual differences is a component of civilized life.

The letter writer and a significant number of others would have Ohio continue down an intolerant and destructive route. This would lead even more people to look for the quickest route out of the state.