Monday, December 31, 2018


I saw the movie RBG yesterday on a flight. This prompted me to write up a mini-review which appears below. I also plan to send the review to both Justice Ginsburg and  NPR's Nina Totenberg who also appears in the film.



I watched the movie RBG on long plane flight earlier this week. The movie is a documentary about the life and work of Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It was quite enjoyable, often funny, and at times touching. Yet it was marred by a few irritations and lost opportunities.

First off let me state that I am a fan of Justice Ginsburg. I do not believe I have ever disagreed with one of her rulings or dissents. The movie details her tireless efforts to promote equality. Mostly for women but in one case having to do with a widower suing social security to get the same benefits that a widow would have, for men as well.

Now for the irritations. The first and most grating is when Justice Ginsburg jokes, at least I hope she joked, that the correct number to women for the Supreme Court to have is nine. If true this would mean that Justice Ginsburg does not believe in equality but rather wants discrimination to favor women. I am confident she did not mean this but it is a very poor joke because it gives those who do not believe in equality a reason to dismiss out of hand all of Justice Ginsburg's efforts promoting equality. If it irritates me, a very socially liberal person, imagine the reaction of an ardent Trump supporter.

The second irritation is that Justice Ginsburg claims that discrimination invariably hurts women. The implication being that discrimination only benefits men.  This is a common yet mistaken view that in the end harms efforts to promotes equality. Let me explain.

When Justice Ginsburg went to law school, very few of her classmates were women. This was clearly discriminatory. Yet at the same time and even today, only men are drafted into the military (one of the few legal gender discriminations left) and upwards of 99% of all military combat deaths are men.  Only eight of the 58,300 U.S. soldier names who died in service written on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. are women.

I would love to see 50% of CEOs be women. But that will be near impossible to achieve unless 50% of combat deaths are women as well.

Alimony is another area where, although legally gender neutral, is in practice discriminatory as upwards of 98% of payors are men.  I have first hand knowledge of this. Despite the fact that my ex-wife left me, a custody evaluation determined that parenting during the marriage was joint, a vocational evaluation determined that she could make just as much money as me, joint custody after the marriage (although the kids predominantly lived with me) along with absolute evidence of major fraud by my ex-wife’s lawyer, I am burdened with paying massive alimony until the day I die. I can never retire nor remarry as that would burden my new wife with paying alimony to my ex-wife should I become disabled or otherwise unable to work. Furthermore, my ex-wife has never used a dime of her income for the children.

I would suggest that it is far less effective to advocate for equal opportunity for women than it is to advocate for equal opportunity and responsibility for all. Opportunity and responsibility are inseparable.

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