Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Left and the Masses: Part III - Thomas Sowell

The Left and the Masses: Part III - Thomas Sowell

Claiming the role of champions of the masses is something the political left has been doing ever since there has been a political left -- which is to say, ever since the late 18th century, when people with such views sat on the left side of the French National Assembly.

Like so much that is claimed by the left, their compassion for the masses has seldom been subjected to any factual test. Both their words and their deeds reveal their low opinion of the people they claim to be championing.

When Barack Obama referred to ordinary working people as people who are "bitter," and who "cling to guns or religion," that was not just a peculiarity of Obama. He was part of a centuries-long tradition on the left.

No one so epitomized the 18th century left as Jean Jacques Rousseau, who likened the masses to "a stupid, pusillanimous invalid." In the 19th century, Karl Marx said, "The working class is revolutionary or it is nothing" -- in other words, millions of human beings mattered only if they carried out his vision.

Fabian socialist George Bernard Shaw included the working class among the "detestable" people who "have no right to live." He added: "I should despair if I did not know that they will all die presently, and that there is no need on earth why they should be replaced by people like themselves."

It sounds very much like Hillary Clinton's view of the "deplorables" who support her opponent, or Bill Clinton's characterization of the same people as "standard rednecks."

What role is there for the masses in the vision of the left?

One role is to provide a moral basis for the left to claim power, as defenders of the downtrodden. No secular doctrine has so swept across the world so swiftly, and with such widespread political impact as Marxism in the 20th century. Its central premise is that the workers are poor because their employers have exploited them.

That was not a hypothesis to be tested but an axiom to be accepted as sacred dogma. Nowhere in the three volumes of Marx's classic "Capital" was there the slightest attempt to test that belief empirically.

It would not be difficult to put the Marxian exploitation thesis to a test. If capitalists' exploitation of the workers is what makes them poor, then in countries run by Marxists, the workers should have a higher standard of living than in countries with a capitalist economic system.

But among the many Communist countries that emerged around the world in the 20th century, there has not been a single one where the workers' standard of living has been as high as that of working people in the United States.

The political left in general has been able to claim that they have more compassion for the less fortunate, and to depict their opponents as lacking in compassion for others. For none of these assertions have they felt a need to offer hard evidence.

Such evidence as exists contradicts those assertions. An empirical study titled "Who Really Cares" by Arthur C. Brooks found that conservatives donate a higher percentage of their incomes to philanthropic causes, as well as more hours of their time as volunteers, and they donate far more blood.

Another study showed that President Ronald Reagan donated a higher percentage of his income to philanthropic causes than such liberal icons as President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Senator Ted Kennedy.

What may be more remarkable than these findings is that the left was able to get away with asserting the opposite for years, without evidence being asked for or given.

What is also remarkable is the extent to which the left's preservation of their own self-flattering vision is defended at virtually all costs -- with both facts and thoughts to the contrary being dismissed, rather than answered, using such words and phrases as "stereotypes," "blaming the victim" or "racism."

People with a different vision of the world are not answered but characterized -- as people needing to have their consciousness raised or as people who "just don't get it."

The near-monopoly of the left in academia allows such evasions to pass muster. But it cheats students out of practice in confronting opposing views on innumerable subjects, which they will have to do after they leave the insulated confines of academia.

The Left and the Masses: Part II - Thomas Sowell

The Left and the Masses: Part II - Thomas Sowell

It is never easy to tell what people's motives are. But, when the political left proclaims their devotion to improving the lives of others in general, and of the poor in particular, we can at least get some clues from the way they go about it.

One of the first things the left does is take away the right of other people to make their own choices.

For example, under current California law, Hispanic school children cannot be taught in Spanish if their parents want them taught in English. Like parents in other immigrant groups before them, Hispanic parents tend to want their children to learn English, so that those children will have more opportunities when they become adults in an English-speaking country.

But the left in general, and Hispanic activists in particular, have fought against leaving Hispanic parents with that choice. At the heart of the left's vision of the world -- and of themselves -- is that they know better what is good for other people. This means that the left sees itself as having both a right and a duty to take away other people's options.

This issue was fought out 18 years ago, in a California referendum on so-called "bilingual education," which in practice meant largely teaching Hispanic school children in Spanish. All the forces of political correctness, including the media and the educational establishment, argued in favor of teaching those children in Spanish, even when their parents wanted them taught in English.

Despite a barrage of propaganda from the media and other organs of the left, a majority of California voters sided with Hispanic parents, and passed a law forbidding schools from imposing Spanish on children whose parents wanted them taught in English.

But the left never gives up on their pet notions. This year there is a new proposition on the California ballot -- Proposition 58, very misleadingly phrased -- that would take that choice away from parents, and let schools impose teaching in Spanish to Hispanic children, whether the parents want it or not.

The Spanish language issue in the schools is just one example of the left's vision, which applies to many other issues.

There is the same dogged resistance on the left to allowing black parents to choose to have their children educated in charter schools that are part of the public school system, but are not subject to all the bureaucratic rules that lead to such bad results in other public schools.

Many years ago, in a debate on William F. Buckley's program "Firing Line," I was told by a left-wing lawyer that black parents without a good education themselves could not make wise choices for their children's education.

But hard evidence says otherwise. There are whole chains of charter schools, such as the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) schools and the Success Academy schools, where ghetto kids have academic achievements equal to those of children in affluent suburbs -- and sometimes higher achievements.

Many of these charter schools are located in the very same buildings in ghetto neighborhoods where children in the regular public schools are failing miserably. Black parents who enroll their children in charter schools have apparently made better choices than the know-it-alls on the left.

Meanwhile, black children by the tens of thousands in New York alone are on waiting lists for charter schools because politicians, beholden to teachers' unions for money and votes, fight against the expansion of charter schools. Not all charter schools are successful. But at least unsuccessful charter schools can be shut down, while other failing public schools keep right on failing.

When it comes to crime and violence, the political left, including much of the media, are having a great time demonizing the police. Blacks are the biggest victims of the sharp upturn in murders that has followed. But, yet again, hard evidence carries very little weight when the left is feeling good about themselves, while leaving havoc in their wake.

The absurdity to which this kind of media frenzy about the police can lead is shown by the fact that a black policeman in Charlotte, North Carolina, shooting a black suspect who had a gun, has been blown up into a racial issue across the nation. Have we become so gullible that we are so easily manipulated and stampeded?

Background Checks Help Black Workers, and the Left Shouldn’t Curb Them | National Review

Background Checks Help Black Workers, and the Left Shouldn’t Curb Them | National Review

Data show that liberal policies have harmed African-American employment prospects.

The greatest moral claim of the political Left is that they are for the masses in general and the poor in particular. That is also their greatest fraud. It even fools many leftists themselves.

One of the most recent efforts of the Left is the spread of laws and policies that forbid employers from asking job applicants whether they have been arrested or imprisoned. This is said to be to help ex-cons get a job after they have served their time, and ex-cons are often either poor or black, or both.

First of all, many of the Left’s policies to help blacks are disproportionately aimed at helping those blacks who have done the wrong thing — and whose victims are disproportionately those blacks who have been trying to do the right thing. In the case of this ban on asking job applicants whether they have criminal backgrounds, the only criterion seems to be whether it sounds good or makes the Left feel good about themselves.

Hard evidence as to what actual consequences to expect beforehand, or hard evidence as to its actual consequences afterwards, seems to have had very little role in this political crusade.

An empirical study some years ago examined the hiring practices of companies that did background checks on all the employees they hired. It found that such companies hired more blacks than companies which did not follow that unusual practice.

Why? This goes back to decision-making by human beings in general, with many kinds of decisions in general. Since we seldom have all the facts, we are often forced to rely on generalizing when making our decisions.

Many employers, aware of higher rates of imprisonment among blacks, are less likely to hire blacks whose individual backgrounds are unknown to them. But those particular employers who investigate everyone’s background before hiring them do not have to rely on such generalizations.

The fact that these latter kinds of employers hired more blacks suggests that racial animosity is not the key factor, since blacks are still blacks, whether they have a criminal past or not. But the political Left is so heavily invested in blaming racism that mere facts are unlikely to change their minds.

Just as those on the left were not moved by hard evidence before they promoted laws and policies that forbad employers to ask about job applicants’ criminal records, so they have remained unmoved by more recent studies showing that the hiring of blacks has been reduced in the wake of such laws and policies.

Moreover, the Left is so invested in the idea that they are helping the disadvantaged that they seldom bother to check the actual consequences of what they are doing, whether that is something as specific as banning questions about criminal behavior or something as general as promoting the welfare state.

In the vision of the Left, the welfare state is supposed to be a step forward, in the direction of “social justice.” Tons of painful evidence, from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, that the welfare state has in fact been a step backward toward barbarism — among low-income whites in England and ghetto blacks in the United States — does not make a dent in the beliefs of the Left.

The Left’s infatuation with minimum-wage laws has likewise been impervious to factual evidence that the spread and escalation of minimum wages have been followed by far higher rates of unemployment among young blacks, to levels some multiple of what they were before — and to a racial gap in unemployment among the young that is likewise some multiple of what it was before.

Those who doubt this need only turn to the data on page 42 of Race and Economics by Walter Williams, or to the diagram on page 98 of The Unheavenly City, written by Edward Banfield back in 1968. The facts have been available for a long time.

Surely the intelligentsia of the Left have access to empirical evidence and the wit to understand such evidence. But the real question is whether they have the stomach to face the prospect that their crusades have hurt the very people they claim to be helping.

Examining hard evidence would mean gambling a whole vision of the world — and of their own role in that world — on a single throw of the dice, which is what looking at hard evidence amounts to. The path of least resistance is to continue going through life feeling good about themselves, while leaving havoc in their wake.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Donald Trump’s ‘Operation Destroy the GOP’ | National Review

Donald Trump’s ‘Operation Destroy the GOP’ | National Review


But let me concede a few things. Yes, the Mainstream Media (MSM) is biased against Republicans. This has been true since, if not the Mesozoic Era, then at least 1960. Yes, the media is particularly biased against Donald Trump. But this is not quite the outrage Trump’s spinners want to make it. Not only is Trump an exceptionally unworthy presidential candidate on the merits, but he does everything he possibly can to maximize the endemic problems of liberal-media bias. Thanks to his lizard-brain narcissism, he would rather have awful headlines about himself and be the center of attention than have Hillary Clinton steal the limelight. LBJ liked to say, “Let’s not step on our d**ks” on this or that issue. Trump is like one of those Italian barefoot peasant women who make wine by stomping on grapes all day, except instead of grapes it’s d**ks as far as the eye can see and Trump is wearing very expensive shoes.

Yes, absolutely, the WikiLeaks e-mails provide countless vulnerabilities that might have destroyed Hillary’s candidacy if she were running against any conventional Republican. But it’s not liberal-media bias per se that causes the press to pay outsized attention to tales of sexual misconduct; the press always pays attention to sex. The Lewinsky scandal got a lot of media attention. You could look it up.

It was inevitable and obvious that this lecherous adulterer who bragged in print about cheating on his wife would have these skeletons in his enormous, gold-and-velvet-lined closet. But no one needed to be a master sleuth or even a run-of-the-mill opposition researcher to know this. You know why? Because this guy said so! When accused of being a sexual predator by Howard Stern, Trump said, “That’s true!” — and then he laughed (in front of his daughter, whom he has affectionately called “a piece of ass”). Trump has told little girls that he would be dating them soon. If you want to write that all off as jokes, fine. Well, he also said that he couldn’t run for political office because of his attitude toward women:

“I think women are beautiful — I think certain women are more beautiful than others, to be perfectly honest — and it is fortunate that I don’t have to run for political office.”

This is apparently a disgusting recurring theme in Donald Trump’s life. You know what? I think women are beautiful. I also think some are more beautiful than others, too. But just because you find women beautiful doesn’t allow you to act like a blind guy and treat women like they’re the Braille edition of Playboy. But that’s precisely what he said he did in the Access Hollywood tape. He said he’s attracted to beautiful women and therefore he has an inherent right to search them for contraband.


Here’s the thing, though: Even if you wanted to think the best of a man who disparages war heroes but insists that dodging the clap was his “personal Vietnam,” a serious political party would have still demanded that he submit to an internal opposition-research investigation. Read John Fund’s piece in National Review from Thursday. Trump refused to let his own campaign do an inventory of his skeletons. The guy who hires the best people was implored by the people he hired to do this basic form of due diligence and he refused. And now we’re supposed to be shocked that the Clintons found the skeletons in question? Or that the press is eager to report on them? Or that Newt Gingrich and Kellyanne Conway are left looking ridiculous and blindsided? My God, what planet do you live on?

So yes, the coverage of Trump is an outrage. But the outrage it exposes is how grotesquely unfair and partisan the press was to previous Republican nominees. The Trump campaign is getting the coverage it deserves (and is asking for!), and that highlights how the coverage of past candidates was so extraordinarily unfair. Take for example, the bowel-stewed hysteria over Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” comment. Romney said — and did — exactly what feminists and liberal reporters should applaud. He wanted to hire qualified women. So he reached out to women’s groups for suggestions. They sent him lots of recommendations. Binders full of them. And then he hired many of the women listed in the binders. What a monster!

Or consider the claims that Romney was a racist. How stupid does this garbage look now?


So let’s talk about these allegations against Trump. I think they’re true. Maybe not all of them, but certainly enough of them, not least because they conform to what Trump confessed to in an unguarded moment. But also because we can be sure that at least some of them were given to the media by Democrats who would have made sure to vet them.

I honestly can’t get my head around the fact that Hillary Clinton’s closing “argument” in this election is sexual harassment. Bill Clinton’s lifelong enabler has managed to turn this topic into a deadly weapon against a Republican nominee. This is like Godzilla turning public safety into a winning issue in the Tokyo mayoral race.

But even harder to fathom: the logical Mobius strip of Trump’s argument. Hillary Clinton is evil because she attacked Bill Clinton’s accusers (never mind that Trump was on her side of the argument when it mattered in the 1990s). That argument could fly, except for the fact that, almost in the same breath, Trump says his accusers are malevolent liars. He told the crowd to “just look” at one of them as all the proof required to know that she’s a liar. Translation: “If she were hotter, it’d be totally believable that I forced myself on her.” To simultaneously defend Trump on these charges while attacking Hillary Clinton requires contortions not seen outside the pages of Plastic Man.


Obviously, I don’t know for certain that Donald Trump is really trying to lay the groundwork for a cable-TV network, though a lot of smart and informed people I know think that’s the case. If you’re looking for a theory to explain what Trump and Campaign CEO Steve Bannon — the former head of Breitbart News — are doing, it makes a hell of a lot more sense than this fanciful notion that he’s trying to become president. Since the convention, only once did he make any serious effort to expand his losing coalition to a larger, winning coalition: His tone-deaf, ridiculous, and utterly fake appeals to black voters. “Our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape they’ve ever been in before,” Trump said. “Ever. Ever. Ever.”

Put aside how utterly absurd this claim is (rent Roots if you don’t know what I mean) and how understandably offensive it is to a lot of black people, it was never intended to win black votes. The campaign had this idea that white suburban women would be swayed by Trump’s “concern” for blacks. He failed — which should have been obvious from the start.

And that’s it. For the rest of the campaign he’s been whipping up his 38 percent of the electorate into a kind of frenzy. Some people think he’s betting that he can dampen turnout generally, while spiking his base to win the election. Maybe. Or maybe that’s the rationalization they throw out there to distract from the more realistic goal: the launch of Nutter News Network. Read the transcript of Trump’s speech from Thursday railing about the globalist corporate-media conspiracy. It might as well be the mission statement for Bannon’s new enterprise, a network that stands up to the global cabal siphoning off our vital bodily fluids (in between commercials for water deflouridizers and gas masks). Why has Trump done scores of interviews on Fox and virtually nowhere else the last two months? Because he’s not interested in winning over undecideds, independents, or swing voters — you know the sort of thing serious presidential candidates do. No, he’s reselling the same product to people who’ve already bought it so he can take the customers with him after the election.

Why is Trump constantly saying that if he loses it will be because the election was rigged? Why is he wasting precious time attacking fellow Republicans, a move guaranteed to shrink his coalition even further? Because he wants the faithful to be permanently alienated from the rest of the political culture and utterly reliant on him. In fairness, it’s also because he can’t tolerate the idea that people will reasonably conclude that he’s a loser and choker so he has to lay the groundwork for the claim the other side cheated. But that narcissistic insecurity just makes him all the more susceptible to Bannon’s manipulation. He was such a Bannon puppet yesterday you could almost see Bannon’s fingers moving in the back of Trump’s mouth.


So here we are.

All of the idiotic arguments his cheerleaders made a year ago have been exposed as the magical-thinking B.S. they always were. He can win blue states! Name one. He’s expanding the GOP coalition! Really? Then why are Republican Senate candidates outperforming Trump in almost every battleground state?

Many of the same people who said that we have to unify the party to beat Hillary Clinton now say that dumping Trump — the only possible way to defeat her (and that’s extremely unlikely to work) — would be treasonous and were the first to scream that Trump voters should screw the down-ballot candidates because Paul Ryan said he wouldn’t defend Trump anymore. If you honestly want to limit the damage Hillary Clinton will do to this country, the one and only obvious thing you should be doing is voting to keep the Republicans in control of Congress. If you think the GOP won’t fight Hillary hard enough, fine. But do you think a Democrat-controlled Congress will fight her at all?

I feel like Charlton Heston screaming at the Statue of Liberty on the beach. You people blew it all up. You embraced a man who has no serious allegiance to the ideals you got rich peddling and who had a vanishingly small chance of winning in the first place — even if he had been the disciplined candidate he deceitfully vowed he would be. Trump is now an albatross on the party and he will leave a Cheeto-colored stain on both the GOP and the conservative movement for years to come.

If you want to limit the damage you’ve caused to the party, vote for Republicans down ballot. Vote for Trump too, if you like. I don’t care, he’s going to lose anyway. But I’m going to vote for Evan McMullin so I can look myself in the mirror and maybe, just maybe, leave us something to build on after the catastrophe. (Though I tremble at the thought, I’m ready to risk the wrath of SMOD for withdrawing my endorsement of him.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Native Americans Loved Private Property | Foundation for Economic Education

Native Americans Loved Private Property | Foundation for Economic Education

Appealing as this image of a Native American environmental ethic is, it is not accurate. The spiritual connection attributed to Native Americans frequently does not mesh with the history of Indian resource use. By missing this history of Indian institutions — by which I mean the traditions, rules, laws, and habits that guided Indian societies — many environmentalists' interpretations deprive Indians and non-Indians alike of a full understanding of how we can conserve our natural heritage.


The romantic image evoked by the speech obscures the fact, fully acknowledged by historians, that American Indians transformed the North American landscape. Sometimes these changes were beneficial, at other times harmful. But they were a rational response to abundance or scarcity in the context of institutions that governed resource use. br />
Like people everywhere, American Indians responded to incentives. For example, where land was abundant, it made sense to farm extensively and move on. br />
  • It was common for Indians such as the Choctaw, Iroquois, and Pawnee to clear land for farming by cutting and burning forests. Once cleared, fields were farmed extensively until soil fertility was depleted; then they cleared new lands and started the process again.
  • Wherever Indian populations were dense and farming was intense, deforestation was common. Indeed, the mysterious departure of the Anasazi from the canyons of southeastern Utah in the thirteenth century may have been due to depletion of wood supplies used for fuel.
Similarly, where wild game was plentiful, Indians used only the choicest cuts and left the rest. When buffalo were herded over cliffs, tons of meat were left to rot or to be eaten by scavengers.

Indians also manipulated the land to improve hunting. Upland wooded areas from east to west were burned to remove the undergrowth and increase forage for deer, elk, and bison. Indeed, because of this burning, there may have been fewer "old growth" forests in the Pacific Northwest when the first Europeans arrived than there are today.

The demand for meat, hides, and furs by relatively small, dispersed populations of Indians put little pressure on wildlife. But in some cases, game depletion resulted in the "tragedy of the commons." This term, coined by biologist Garrett Hardin, describes what happens when no one has ownership of a resource and anyone has access to it.

Wild animals represented a "commons." They belonged to no one until they were killed. If anyone left an animal, in the hope that it would be there later, someone else was likely to kill it. Without ownership, no one had an incentive to protect the animals. Anthropologist Paul Martin believes that the extinction of the mammoth, mastodon, ground sloth, and saber-toothed cat were directly or indirectly due to "prehistoric overkill" by exceptionally competent hunters.


Getting the Incentives Right

While there were exceptions that led to the "tragedy of the commons," most American Indians understood the importance of getting the incentives right. Personal ethics and spiritual values were important, but those ethics and values worked along with private and communal property rights. These rights strictly defined who could use resources and rewarded good stewardship.

It is sometimes difficult to fit the pre-Columbian Indian institutions into the modern context of law, government, and property rights. The lack of familiar modern institutions, however, by no means implies that Indians lacked rules, customary or formal. Pre- and post-Columbian Indian history is replete with examples of how property rights conditioned the human interface with the natural environment. Consider the following:

Land and Water Rights: Some Communal, Some Private

Indian land tenure systems varied considerably, "ranging from completely or almost completely communal systems to systems hardly less individualistic than our own with its core of fee simple tenure," according to one historian. The degree of private ownership reflected the scarcity of land and the difficulty or ease of defining and enforcing rights. Julian H. Steward concludes that "Truly communal property was scant" among American Indians.


In sum, faced with the reality of scarcity, Indians understood the importance of incentives and built their societies around institutions that encouraged good human and natural resource stewardship. Ethics and spiritual values may have inculcated a respect for nature, but an elaborate set of social institutions that today would be considered private property rights rewarded stewardship.

Non-Indians also will do well to stop promulgating myths as a solution to modern environmental problems. Especially in a multi-cultural society where worldviews vary widely, devolution of authority and responsibility offers the best hope for resource conservation. Rather than shunning property rights solutions, we should embrace them, as did our predecessors on this continent.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Beware Politicians Pushing Stagnant Wage Narratives

Beware Politicians Pushing Stagnant Wage Narratives

One of the most common claims made by politicians is that wages have not kept up with inflation. Yet this is an example of a lie being repeated so often that everyone begins to believe that it's true. In reality, worker pay has more that kept up with increases in the cost of living. Unfortunately, even when shown the facts, some people claim otherwise.

CLAIM: “But everyone says wages have declined!”

REALITY: Wages are not the appropriate measure to look at. That's because benefits such as employer health insurance and social security contributions are not included in wage statistics. But they are very much a part of the expense a company incurs to employ you and the compensation you receive for your work. Thus the true gauge of how much you are paid is found in the "compensation" statistic, which includes Paid Leave, Supplemental Pay (overtime, shift differentials, and non-production bonuses), Insurance, Retirement and Savings benefits... these all have to be included to get a real measure of worker compensation.

CLAIM: “Average pay is not representative of most households. We need to look at median household figures instead.”

REALITY: This is true to a certain extent. But we can adjust our data to approximate the median, which according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics is 25% lower than the mean. After making the adjustment, compensation growth since 2000 still far exceeds inflation, 49% vs. 39%.

Another factor to take into account when looking at household data is that the average number of people in a household has been decreasing for years, which makes it look like people are earning less when actually there are simply fewer earners per household. Thus household income is a worse measure of income growth than per capita income, which is what we use in our chart.

CLAIM: “Inflation is underestimated by government statistics.”

REALITY: The government provides very detailed breakdowns of its inflation calculation, which I'll be posting about further in coming days. Basically there are 8 major subdivisions to the Consumer Price Index, each weighted by the average percent of income a household spends on them: Housing (42.2%), Transportation (15.3%), Food and Beverages (15.0%), Medical Care (8.4%), Education and Communication (7.1%), Recreation (5.7%), Other Goods and Services (3.2%), and Apparel (3.1%). Within each subdivision are many other divisions, all of which are updated annually.

CLAIM: “But my expenses are higher than the inflation data”

REALITY: Part of the reason some people object to the inflation numbers is that their personal expenses are higher or lower than the government averages. A person in college, for example, will have a much higher education expense than the government's calculated average, and might therefore think the government numbers are wrong. But it’s important to keep in mind that the numbers are averages, and might not reflect one's personal situation.

Also it’s often the case that what's happening is that we're actually adding new expenses. Internet access, for example, wasn't an expense for most people 20 years ago, but today most view it as a necessity. Progress has added new expenses, but also increased our standard of living. Accounting for such changes is an important aspect of the calculation of inflation rates.

The bottom line is, when politicians claim that the market is failing and we need wage controls and other government programs to fix it, more often than not they're simply trying to gain your vote.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem Protests -- Education a Better Solution | National Review

Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem Protests -- Education a Better Solution | National Review

When San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem he sparked a national outrage. Now, his movement is spreading. To the NFL’s discredit, Kaepernick’s disrespect for the colors and anthem has been mimicked throughout the league as a form of protest against alleged institutional racism in city, state, and federal police forces.

As a matter of persuasion, Kaepernick’s tactics are bizarre. You don’t sway people to your cause by insulting things they love, or take pride in, or cherish — like the American flag and the national anthem. But put that aside for a moment.

I’ve seen racism up close, and I’ve seen it how it can dig into an organization. In my case it was the military, not the police. In the 1950s and early 1960s, I flew F-100 fighter jets with the U.S. Air Force. While the military desegregated in 1948, we were still working out the kinks a decade later. At the same time, Jim Crow raged in the south. Discrimination was entrenched.

Only a few years earlier, the War Department had claimed that African Americans couldn’t understand a machine as complicated as an aircraft. It was proven wrong by the pioneering pilots of 332nd Fighter and 477th Bomber Groups, more commonly known as the “Tuskegee Airmen.”

I flew with African-American pilots. Racism existed in our ranks of course, but the prejudice was muted by the shared challenge of flying a difficult jet with nuclear bombs strapped to its belly. Shared trials and adversities have a remarkable way of eliminating petty differences like those of race, sex, creed, or orientation.

I learned a lifelong lesson from the experience. Institutions, when properly wielded, can lessen and in some cases eliminate inequity. They can offer shared goals and demand shared standards.

In the 20th century, the Armed Forces cracked that code. In the 21st century, no institution has more potential to alleviate racial tensions than our educational system, where conservatives have been at the forefront of reform efforts for years.

It is there, in the schools, that this fight must be fought, rather than meaningless gestures on the sidelines of pro-football games.

The gripe of some NFL players is that African Americans feel the brunt of law enforcement. And from a purely statistical perspective, that may be true. Compared with whites, African Americans earn 24 percent less, live five fewer years, and are six times more likely to be incarcerated. Further, blacks are shot and killed by police at a rate two and a half times higher than their white neighbors.

But consider how these number shift when adjusted for scholastic accomplishment. A seminal study by Derek Neal of the University of Chicago and William Johnson of the University of Virginia found that when educational achievement was considered, the wage gap between African Americans and whites nearly vanished.

What do wage gaps have to do with education and imprisonment? Everything. Education leads to jobs. Jobs lead to opportunity. And with opportunity comes significant reductions in incarceration rates.

A 2010 Harvard study builds off of Neal and Johnson. In “Racial Inequality in the 21st Century,” Roland Fryer found that the wage gap between blacks and whites plummeted from 17.9 percent to 10.9 percent after factoring in education. For women, the gap was reduced from 15.3 percent to 4.4 percent after an identical adjustment.

While African Americans have triple the incarceration rates of whites, that daunting figure shrinks by a whopping 80 percent when an educational-achievement control was introduced.

Some NFL players and many in the Black Lives Matter movement see the police as the enemy, an institutional villain that victimizes African Americans without consequence.

But the real institutional adversaries of U.S. minorities are the failing schools that populate America’s inner cities. They are the politicians that support them and the teachers’ unions which oppose any and all change to the status quo.

Nearly 70 percent of inner-city students are African American or Hispanic American. There, the dropout rates are astounding. In Cleveland, the graduation rate was 38 percent compared with 81 percent in the Cleveland suburbs. In New York City, 54 percent of students graduated compared with 83 percent in the suburbs.

These aren’t just statistics. Every young man or woman who fails to earn a high-school diploma immediately disqualifies himself or herself from the vast majority of U.S. jobs. When honest work isn’t an option, at-risk youth have few choices beyond crime or government assistance. It is this dynamic, not institutional racism, that drives police into the inner cities.

Throughout my career, I’ve supported educational reform like school choice and wider opportunities for America’s lower class, for those held down by the harsh tyranny of hopelessness. If these athletes truly want to stop injustice and inequality — and I believe that they do — I would humbly suggest a change of course.

Silly virtue-signaling at sports events doesn’t do a single thing to pull an at-risk African American youth out of poverty. Vapid gestures offer no opportunity to a struggling young man or woman in Cleveland or New York, many of whom know no option in life other than crime.

But professional athletes do have a unique advantage in both fame and resources. If they get off the sidelines, if they roll up their sleeves and get to work fighting this problem by figuring out ways to inspire kids to complete their educations, they can make a difference.

Until then, they should keep America’s anthem and our colors out of it.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Dunbar High School After 100 Years - Thomas Sowell

Dunbar High School After 100 Years - Thomas Sowell

One hundred years ago, on October 2, 1916, a new public high school building for black youngsters was opened in Washington, D.C. and named for black poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. Its history is a story inspiring in many ways and appalling in many other ways.

Prior to 1916, the same high school had existed under other names, housed in other buildings -- and with a remarkable academic record.

In 1899, when it was called "the M Street School," a test was given in Washington's four academic public high schools, three white and one black. The black high school scored higher than two of the three white high schools. Today, it would be considered Utopian even to set that as a goal, much less expect to see it happen.

The M Street School had neither of two so-called "prerequisites" for quality education. There was no "diversity." It was an all-black school from its beginning, and on through its life as a high quality institution under the name Dunbar High School.

But its days as a high quality institution ended abruptly in the middle of the 1950s. After that, it became just another failing ghetto school.

The other so-called "prerequisite" that the M Street School lacked was an adequate building. Its student body was 50 percent larger than the building's capacity, a fact that led eventually to the new Dunbar High School building. But its students excelled even in their overcrowded building.

Some students at the M Street School began going to some of the leading colleges in the country in the late 19th century. The first of its graduates to go to Harvard did so in 1903. Over the years from 1892 to 1954, thirty-four of the graduates from the M Street School and Dunbar went on to Amherst.

Of these, 74 percent graduated from Amherst and 28 percent of these graduates were Phi Beta Kappas. Other graduates from M Street High School and Dunbar became Phi Beta Kappas at Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth and other elite institutions.

Graduates of this same high school pioneered as the first black in many places. These included the first black man to graduate from Annapolis, the first black woman to receive a Ph.D. from an American institution, the first black federal judge, the first black general, the first black Cabinet member and, among other notables, a doctor who became internationally renowned for his pioneering work in developing the use of blood plasma.

How could all of this come to an abrupt end in the 1950s? Like many other disasters, it began with good intentions and arbitrary assumptions.

When Chief Justice Earl Warren declared in the landmark 1954 case of "Brown v. Board of Education" that racially separate schools were "inherently unequal," Dunbar High School was a living refutation of that assumption. And it was within walking distance of the Supreme Court.

A higher percentage of Dunbar graduates went on to college than the percentage at any white public high school in Washington. But what do facts matter when there is heady rhetoric and crusading zeal?

There is no question that racially segregated schools in the South provided an inadequate education for blacks. But the assumption that racial "integration" was the answer led to years of racial polarization and turmoil over busing, with little, if any, educational improvement.

For Washington, the end of racial segregation led to a political compromise, in which all schools became neighborhood schools. Dunbar, which had been accepting outstanding black students from anywhere in the city, could now accept only students from the rough ghetto neighborhood in which it was located.

Virtually overnight, Dunbar became a typical ghetto school. As unmotivated, unruly and disruptive students flooded in, Dunbar teachers began moving out and many retired. More than 80 years of academic excellence simply vanished into thin air.

Nobody, black or white, mounted any serious opposition. "Integration" was the cry of the moment, and it drowned out everything else. That is what happens in politics.

Today, there is a new Dunbar High School building, costing more than $100 million. But its graduates go on to college at only about half the rate of Dunbar graduates in earlier and poorer times. Politics can deliver costly "favors," even when it cannot deliver quality education.

The first Trump-Clinton presidential debate transcript, annotated - The Washington Post

The first Trump-Clinton presidential debate transcript, annotated - The Washington Post

Annotated by Genius software.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Black Lives Matter’s Supporters Have to Grapple With This Chart

One of the most frustrating aspects of our so-called “national dialog” on race is the presumption that disparate impact equals racism. In other words, if any negative action falls disproportionately on people of color, then that difference itself is evidence of racial bias. Take the police shooting debate. Though police kill far more whites, they do use deadly force on a higher proportion of African-Americans. All other things being equal, wouldn’t that be evidence of racism? But all other things aren’t equal — violent crime rates simply aren’t proportionate. Look at this Guardian chart of murder rates, taken from the most current FBI crime statistics:

In other words, black men were roughly “nine times more likely” to be murdered than white men, and the overwhelming majority of those murders were committed by other black men. Black men were far more likely to murder white victims than vice versa. That’s a horrifying racial disparity — one that indicates that a segment (a thankfully small segment) of the black community has a terrible problem with violent crime. Given the undeniable reality that people don’t commit crime on a proportionate basis, why would any rational person believe that law enforcement shootings would follow population percentages more than crime statistics? Heather Mac Donald makes this point better than anyone, but it’s worth repeating just as often as the Left repeats its disparate impact mantra.

One final note, this year’s 10.8 percent increase in the national murder rate — the largest increase since 1971 — meant that “at least 900 more black men were killed in 2015 than in 2014.” Dear Black Lives Matter, black lives matter — so please stop your relentless efforts to “reform” American law enforcement into impotence.

What the Media, Academics Get Wrong When They Blame Crime Rate on Poverty, Discrimination

Some are puzzled by the dishonesty, lack of character, and sheer stupidity of many people in the media. But seeing as most of them are college graduates, they don’t bear the full blame. They are taught by dishonest and irresponsible academics. Let’s look at it.

“A Clash of Police Policies,” a column written by Thomas Sowell, presents some readily available statistics:

Homicide rates among black males went down by 18 percent in the 1940s and by 22 percent in the 1950s. It was in the 1960s, when the ideas of Chief Justice [Earl] Warren and others triumphed, that this long decline in homicide rates among black males reversed and skyrocketed by 89 percent, wiping out all the progress of the previous 20 years.

Academics and the media blame poverty and discrimination for today’s crime. No one bothers to ask why crime was falling in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s, when blacks faced far greater poverty and discrimination.

The 1960s riots were blamed on poverty and discrimination. Poverty and discrimination were worse in the South than in the rest of the country, but riots were not nearly so common there. Detroit’s deadliest riot occurred at a time when the median income of black families in Detroit was 95 percent of their white counterparts, plus the black unemployment rate was 3.4 percent and black homeownership was higher than in other major cities.

Academics teach that the breakdown of the black family is the legacy of slavery and discrimination. They ignore the following facts.

In 1950, 72 percent of black men and 81 percent of black women had been married. Also, only 17 percent of black children lived in single-parent households; today it’s close to 70 percent. Every census from 1890 to 1950 showed that black labor force participation rates exceeded those of whites. During the late 1940s, the unemployment rate for black 16- and 17-year-olds was less than that for white teens.

According to the 1938 Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, that year 11 percent of black children and 3 percent of white children were born to unwed mothers. Before 1960, the number of teenage pregnancies had been decreasing; both poverty and dependency were declining; and black income was rising in both absolute and relative terms to white income. As late as 1965, 75 percent of black children were born to married women. Today, over 73 percent of black babies are born to unwed mothers. Again, so much for the “legacy of slavery” argument.

Academics teach that school integration is a necessary condition for black academic excellence. Blacks, their logic implies, cannot achieve academic excellence unless they go out and capture a white kid to sit next to their kids. Public charter schools such as those in the Knowledge Is Power Program, or KIPP, and Success Academy Charter Schools are having some successes without race mixing.

Sowell points out that only 39 percent of students in New York state schools who were tested recently scored at the “proficient” level in math, but 100 percent of the students at the Crown Heights Success Academy scored at that level in math. Blacks and Hispanics are 90 percent of the students in the Crown Heights Success Academy.

More than 43,000 families are on waiting lists to get their children into charter schools. Teachers unions are opposed to any alternative to public education and contribute to politicians who place obstacles and restrictions on the expansion of charter schools. The NAACP, at its 2016 national convention in Cincinnati, voted to support “a moratorium on the proliferation of privately managed charter schools.”

It’s easy to understand why the NAACP is against any alternative to public schools. Many of its members work in public education. However, many of those people do want alternatives for themselves.

In Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, 25 percent of public school teachers send their children to private schools. In Philadelphia, 44 percent of teachers send their children to private schools. The percentages are similar in several other cities: Cincinnati, 41 percent; Chicago, 39 percent; and Rochester, New York, 38 percent. This demonstrates the dishonesty, hypocrisy, and arrogance of the elite. They effectively say, “One thing for thee and another for me.”

Money And School Performance: Lessons from the Kansas City Desegregation Experiment

Executive Summary

For decades critics of the public schools have been saying, "You can't solve educational problems by throwing money at them." The education establishment and its supporters have replied, "No one's ever tried." In Kansas City they did try. To improve the education of black students and encourage desegregation, a federal judge invited the Kansas City, Missouri, School District to come up with a cost-is-no-object educational plan and ordered local and state taxpayers to find the money to pay for it.

Kansas City spent as much as $11,700 per pupil--more money per pupil, on a cost of living adjusted basis, than any other of the 280 largest districts in the country. The money bought higher teachers' salaries, 15 new schools, and such amenities as an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an underwater viewing room, television and animation studios, a robotics lab, a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary, a zoo, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability, and field trips to Mexico and Senegal. The student-teacher ratio was 12 or 13 to 1, the lowest of any major school district in the country.

The results were dismal. Test scores did not rise; the black-white gap did not diminish; and there was less, not greater, integration.

The Kansas City experiment suggests that, indeed, educational problems can't be solved by throwing money at them, that the structural problems of our current educational system are far more important than a lack of material resources, and that the focus on desegregation diverted attention from the real problem, low achievement.

Do non-citizens vote in U.S. elections?

Do non-citizens vote in U.S. elections?


In spite of substantial public controversy, very little reliable data exists concerning the frequency with which non-citizen immigrants participate in United States elections. Although such participation is a violation of election laws in most parts of the United States, enforcement depends principally on disclosure of citizenship status at the time of voter registration. This study examines participation rates by non-citizens using a nationally representative sample that includes non-citizen immigrants. We find that some non-citizens participate in U.S. elections, and that this participation has been large enough to change meaningful election outcomes including Electoral College votes, and Congressional elections. Non-citizen votes likely gave Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress.

Does Expanding School Choice Increase Segregation? | Brookings Institution

Does Expanding School Choice Increase Segregation? | Brookings Institution

...I provide new evidence on this question based on an analysis of nine years of data from the Common Core of Data, the federal government’s annual census of all public schools. For each of the more than 3,000 counties in the U.S., I calculate an “exposure index” that measures the share of non-minority students at the schools attended by the average under-represented minority student.[2] The average minority student in the U.S. attends a school that is 33 percent non-minority. In other words, the typical minority student attends a majority-minority school. Likewise, the typical student eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (a proxy for economic disadvantage) attends a school where almost two-thirds of students are also eligible for a subsidized lunch.

A na├»ve examination of the relationship between this measure of (de)segregation and the percentage of students enrolled in charter schools appears to show that the critics are right: more choice is associated with minority students attending less diverse schools. For the 2010-11 school year, a 10-percentage-point increase in charter enrollment is associated with a decline of 16 percentage points in minority students’ exposure to non-minority students. A similar but weaker relationship exists along class lines (as measured by free lunch eligibility).

Of course, this relationship ignores the fact that charters tend to locate in areas that serve large shares of disadvantaged students and members of minority groups. As a result, this simple correlation tells us nothing about whether charters increase segregation or just tend to locate in areas where the schools are already segregated. This is the same methodological flaw that compromised the findings of the UCLA study.

A better approach to the question of whether choice increases segregation is to look at changes over time. Did areas that saw large increases in choice experience larger increases in segregation than areas that saw smaller increases in choice? This kind of analysis does not conclusively measure the causal effect of choice on segregation, but by examining the same locales over time it represents a clear improvement over the cruder approach of comparing different locales at the same point in time. For example, it takes into account any unmeasured factors, such as the degree of residential segregation, to the extent that those factors remain constant over time.

Figure 1 shows the relationship between the change in charter enrollment and the change in minority exposure to non-minority students between 2002-03 and 2010-11.[3] The cloud of points suggests little relationship between these two factors, and a regression analysis confirms that this is the case.[4] There is actually a slight positive (and statistically significant) relationship between choice and diversity, but it is very weak and is not also found in the free-lunch data.

fig1a chingos may15

I also used an alternative measure of segregation called a “dissimilarity index” and obtained similar findings: no consistent relationship between changes in charter enrollment and changes in segregation. Finally, I conducted a more sophisticated panel data analysis that uses all nine years of data to estimate the relationship between charter enrollment and segregation using only the changes within counties over time.[5] Once again, using both the exposure and dissimilarity indices, the results consistently indicated no meaningful relationship between choice and segregation.

The lack of any consistent relationship between charter enrollment and segregation does not eliminate the possibility that such a relationship exists, but suggests that it is unlikely. For there to be a relationship, it would have to be the case that counties where charter enrollment increased experienced an increase in segregation as a result but then adopted policies (or experienced other changes) that counteracted the increase in segregation. In my view, that is not a very plausible explanation for these results.

Voter Fraud Far From ‘Myth,’ Panel Asserts

Voter Fraud Far From ‘Myth,’ Panel Asserts

Fred Lucas / September 21, 2016

This article has been corrected to reflect that Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton suggested that up to 15 percent of the United States population is noncitizens. That number bore no relation to the number of noncitizens voting.

The Obama administration opposes states verifying citizenship status of registered voters. Inquiries into voter fraud are typically met with derision from both government and the media—and in at least one instance with prosecution. Prosecutors don’t prioritize voter fraud, while convictions only garner light sentences.

These are among the voter fraud problems facing the United States, experts noted this week, even as prominent voices on the left say such fraud is a myth.

The left’s opposition to voter integrity laws or even inquiry can be simply explained, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.

“Why on earth would you not want to make sure that only citizens are registered and voting?” Fitton, author of “Clean House: Exposing Our Government’s Secrets and Lies,” said at a forum at The Heritage Foundation Tuesday. “That to me shows that the Obama administration and the left generally, which is behind this, wants to be able to steal elections if necessary. To me, that’s a crisis.”

“The percentages of non-citizens in the United States are approaching nearly 15 percent now,” said Fitton, president of Judicial Watch. “So it’s a numbers game. A certain number of those citizens — a certain number of those residents, both legally were present and illegally present, are going to register to vote.”

A 2014 study by Old Dominion University found that 6.4 percent of all noncitizens voted in the 2008 election and 2.2 percent voted in the 2010 midterm elections. The study concludes this likely put Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, a Democrat, over the top in the race in his 312-vote statewide victory over Republican Norm Coleman in 2008.

In the past, opponents have argued that ID requirements hurt minority participation. Meanwhile, studies have found minority voting has increased after voter ID was implemented.

“If you think your vote is going to be stolen, especially in urban areas where you have political machines controlling the voting process or the perception that they control the voting process, you may not bother to vote,” Fitton said. “But, if you think your vote will be counted, of course you’re going to be more likely to turn out.”

Some recent cases cited by the panelists demonstrate the reality of voter fraud.

In August, in St. Louis, a court ordered a do-over in a Democratic primary for a Missouri state legislative seats after finding absentee voter fraud.

Last year in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a state legislator was convicted of voter fraud and given a suspended sentence.

Still, some commentators contend there is no voter fraud problem in the United States. For example, this week a New York Times editorial called voter fraud a “myth” and “fake”:

As study after study has shown, there is virtually no voter fraud anywhere in the country. The most comprehensive investigation to date found that out of one billion votes cast in all American elections between 2000 and 2014, there were 31 possible cases of impersonation fraud. Other violations—like absentee ballot fraud, multiple voting and registration fraud—are also exceedingly rare. So why do so many people continue to believe this falsehood?

Credit for this mass deception goes to Republican lawmakers, who have for years pushed a fake story about voter fraud, and thus the necessity of voter ID laws, in an effort to reduce voting among specific groups of Democratic-leaning voters.

However, it was in New York City where the city’s Department of Investigation (DOI) determined the city’s Board of Elections (BOE) was doing a poor job of preventing ineligible voters from voting. During the 2013 mayor’s race, 63 city investigators went to polling places impersonating someone who was either dead, moved outside the city, or was in jail. Of those, 61 were cleared to vote. The department’s report stated:

The 60 investigators, among other investigative activities, conducted quality assurance surveys of voters at poll sites throughout the five boroughs, logging complaints from 596 of 1,438 voters relating to subjects such as ballot readability, poll workers, and poll site locations. DOI’s operations also revealed that there are names of ineligible voters (e.g. felons and people no longer City residents), and deceased voters, on the BOE voter rolls, some for periods of up to four years.

Accordingly, DOI investigators posing as a number of those ineligible or deceased individuals, were permitted to obtain, mark, and submit ballots in the scanners or in the lever voting booths in 61 cases, with no challenge or question by BOE poll workers. Investigators were turned away in 2 other cases. No votes were cast for any actual candidate or on any proposal during the course of the DOI operation.

Interestingly, the result was not to demand more accountability from the city’s Board of Elections. Rather, the New York City Council voted to prosecute the investigators for impersonating voters, said John Fund, a National Review columnist, previously with The Wall Street Journal, during the panel.

Progressive critics reference the rarity of voter fraud prosecutions as evidence of a “myth.” Fund said it is actually because such cases can be politically disadvantageous to elected district attorneys.

“Most prosecutors run for election. Most prosecutors want to have higher election,” Fund said. “The last thing you want to do is take on voter fraud cases which are highly politicized and infuriate half the people in your community on partisan basis. Judges require incredible standards of proof and often the sentences of the few people who are convicted of voter fraud are community service.”

Maintaining clean voter rolls from ineligible voters is also important and required by law, said Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow with The Heritage Foundation. And New York isn’t the only place with a problem. In Indiana, 16 counties had more registered voters than voting-age adults based on U.S. Census Bureau data, he said.

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993, better known as the “Motor Voter Law” allows people to register to vote when they get their driver’s license law. But it also requires local governments to maintain clean voter rolls, which the federal government can enforce. The Obama administration has never enforced this provision, von Spakovsky said at the forum.

“There has been a war being waged against election integrity for the past decade,” von Spakovsky said. “The leader in this has been the U.S. Justice Department. Instead of making sure every voter can vote and that no one’s vote is stolen through fraud, they have been on the other side of that, waging war against any efforts to prove election integrity.”

Hillary Clinton’s ‘Implicit Bias’ Talk Is Ominous | National Review

Hillary Clinton’s ‘Implicit Bias’ Talk Is Ominous | National Review

You’re guilty and you don’t know it. Sure, you think you’re a decent person who treats people fairly, judging them on the content of their character and not the color of the skin. But let’s face it: You’re deluded. Especially if you happen to be white, you’re biased and you don’t even know it. You’re unaware of your own privilege, and of the extent to which your beliefs, speech, and even mannerisms oppress people of color. It’s time to confess. It’s time to be re-educated. It’s time to rid yourself of your false consciousness.

This is the message of the modern campus radical, of the diversity trainer, and, increasingly, of the Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton.

Like many of the most dangerous progressive ideas, “implicit bias” or “unconscious racism” seems reasonable enough at first glance: Aren’t we all shaped by our environment and upbringing to make snap judgments about people? Aren’t those judgments often wrong? Couldn’t we all use exposure to different cultures and ideas to help us get past preconceived notions and casual bigotries? What could be wrong with that?

Indeed, in the debate Monday night, Clinton framed her discussion of “implicit bias” as a malady we all suffer from, telling Lester Holt: “I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police. I think, unfortunately, too many of us in our great country jump to conclusions about each other.” Well, yes, too many people do jump to conclusions. So, what’s the solution, Hillary?

When it comes to policing, since it can have literally fatal consequences, I have said, in my first budget, we would put money into that budget to help us deal with implicit bias by retraining a lot of our police officers.

Wait. What? If we’re all biased, who’s training whom? Let’s be very clear: When it moves from abstract to concrete, all this talk about “implicit bias” gets very sinister, very quickly. It allows radicals to indict entire communities as bigoted, it relieves them of the obligation of actually proving their case, and it allows them to use virtually any negative event as a pretext for enforcing their ideological agenda.

Is this overblown? Well, let’s look at how Clinton has used “implicit bias” to deal with a specific incident: the shooting of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Okla.:
Hillary Clinton comments on #TerenceCruthcher on @SteveHarveyFM: "How many times do we have to see this in our country?"
This is extraordinarily irresponsible. How does Hillary possibly know that Crutcher’s shooting had anything at all to do with race? I don’t recall her being in Tulsa that night. There is no “we” about a police officer’s decision to pull the trigger. So why are we talking about collective guilt?

Ah, but that’s the magic of “implicit bias” and “unconscious racism.” Skepticism of its existence is proof of its existence, and you can just “know” that Crutcher or Philando Castile or Michael Brown or Keith Scott would be alive today if they had been white. In other words, the very existence of the incident proves the racism. The denials of racism prove the racism. And everyone who’s “keeping score” or “gets it” knows the real truth.

Indeed, it is this politicized metaphysical certainty that breeds premature calls for “justice” and for “retraining.” If you don’t believe what the radicals think you should believe, you must be taught to believe something different — on the government’s dime, of course. Hillary wants to fund the retraining, and the NAACP wants to make it mandatory — complete with sanctions if your perceived biases don’t disappear.

How will the thought police know the actual police are biased? If they don’t believe the “right” things. Spend any time on campus, in diversity training, or on progressive websites, and you’ll see that disagreement with leftist cultural critiques is all the proof anyone needs of racism and other forms of bigotry. Evidence, experience, and probabilities are completely irrelevant when it comes time to cleanse the mind of “bias.”

There are those on the Left who simply refuse to look at a case on the facts. They insist that they have knowledge about the inner lives and motivations of the relevant parties that is unknown even to the parties themselves. They use this alleged knowledge to stoke unrest and violate civil liberties. And they have an ally in Hillary Clinton. She’ll fund all the re-education we need.

Friday, September 30, 2016

What Trump Should Have Said About 'Birther' and Tax Returns - Larry Elder

What Trump Should Have Said About 'Birther' and Tax Returns - Larry Elder

Monday night's debate moderator, NBC's Lester Holt, asked Donald Trump why he "perpetuated a false claim that the nation's first black president was not a natural­born citizen." Hillary Clinton added that Trump "has a long record of engaging in racist behavior, and the birther lie was a very hurtful one."

Trump defended himself by saying: "Sidney Blumenthal works for the campaign and (is a) close ­­ very close ­­ friend of Sec. Clinton. And her campaign manager, Patti Doyle ... during ... her campaign against President Obama, fought very hard. ... And if you look at CNN this past week, Patti Solis Doyle was on Wolf Blitzer saying that this happened. Blumenthal sent McClatchy, (a) highly respected reporter at McClatchy, to Kenya to find out about it. They were pressing it very hard. She failed to get the birth certificate. When I got involved, I didn't fail. I got him to give the birth certificate. ...

"I was the one that got (President Barack Obama) to produce the birth certificate. ... Sec. Clinton also fought it. I mean, you know ­­ now, everybody in mainstream is going to say, 'Oh, that's not true.' Look, it's true. You just have to take a look at CNN, the last week, the interview with your former campaign manager. And she was involved." So Trump's defense is that he and Blumenthal were on an amazing race to see who could get Obama to disclose his birth certificate?

No, no, no. Trump should have said that James Asher, former McClatchy Washington Bureau Chief, tweeted ­­ just two weeks ago ­­ that Blumenthal "told me in person 'Obama (was) born in Kenya,'" and that Blumenthal "spread the Obama birther rumor to me in 2008, asking us to investigate."

He should have also said that journalist John Heilemann, co­author of "Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime," is not exactly a right­winger. Heilemann, in 2015 on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show, said that it was Hillary Clinton's 2008 election team that started questioning Obama's birth certificate.

Trump should have pushed back on the "racist" tag. When, where and how does questioning Obama's place of birth become "racist"? Questions were raised about whether then­presidential candidate Sen. John McCain was eligible because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone. Questions were raised about whether Barry Goldwater was eligible because he was born in Arizona when it was a territory, three years before it became a state. Were such questions "racist"?

What about Democrats' skepticism about Obama? According to a 2014 online survey conducted by YouGov as part of the 2014 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, and published in a Washington Post blog, a majority of Democrats do not believe Obama is a Christian. Forty­five percent believe so, but 26 percent say they "don't know," 17 percent say he is "spiritual," 10 percent believe he is Muslim, and 2 percent think he is an atheist ­­ as does Obama defender Bill Maher. Are they religious "birthers"? Are they "racist"?

Holt also asked Trump about his tax returns. Clinton suggested he did not pay any taxes. Trump said, "That makes me smart," effectively conceding that he pays no taxes. No, that's dumb.

Trump could have said that one of Obama's BFFs and somebody whose support Clinton sought in the primaries, the Rev. Al Sharpton, owes nearly $5 million in taxes. Sharpton, Trump could have reminded us, hosts a show for NBC where he supports the tax­and­spend policies of the Democratic Party, while not paying the taxes he wants increased on the rich. Why are the media, Trump could have asked, indifferent? Double standard.

Trump could have argued that he's not required by law to disclose his taxes. But Clinton was required by law to release all work ­related email. She didn't. And the FBI gave her a pass. But an IRS audit is essentially a dispute with the IRS over a tax issue. And the taxpayer loses any leverage if the details become public before a resolution is reached, because the IRS will refuse to compromise for fear that people will think they are caving in. So Trump loses leverage by prematurely going public. Why, he could have asked, would any rational person do that? On the other hand, nothing's stopping Sec. Clinton from releasing the transcripts of her Wall Street speeches.

Trump could have asked Clinton why she's not disclosed her transcripts from her numerous highpaid Wall Street speeches. He could have asked why, when Obama refused to disclose his grades and test scores, the media lost interest. Double standard.

And these are just two issues ­­ birtherism and taxes ­­ where Trump let Clinton get off the hook. He let her put on gloves and a ski mask and wipe out the bank's vault.

There are two more debates. Trump needs to raise his game or he's fired.

My Delightful Hotel Stay in a Giant Vending Machine | Foundation for Economic Education

My Delightful Hotel Stay in a Giant Vending Machine | Foundation for Economic Education

...I had to get a hotel. My amazing online reservation website came up with a reservation in the city for a thing called Yotel. It seemed implausible. The hotel was being given a 4-star rating. The reviewers were raving about it. And the price was only $150, which is amazing for New York, and right there on Times Square.

Seemed like I had to try it.

My Lyft driver dropped me off – thank you again app economy! – at a space-age looking white building with purple spotlights shining on it. The sign said Yotel, and I looked forward to talking to the receptionist about the history and meaning of this strange place.

But instead of people, what I found was a completely empty lobby. On a side wall were a group of kiosks. I walked up to one, put in my credit card, and the machine recognized my reservation immediately. A key came out of the slot below.

And that was it. I was checked in, and in record time.

There were no employees anywhere on site, which was spooky at first, but then you get used to it and wonder why every hotel doesn’t do it this way.

And maybe this is indeed in our future. After all, a kiosk is a great way to avoid the coming $15-per-hour minimum wage that the governor signed into law. At the end of this year, it rises to $11 and then up $2 per year thereafter. But rather than causing wages to magically increase out of magically appearing resources, it could mean a huge subsidy to low-wage robots, such as were on display in this hotel. If you need to drop your luggage off quickly, there is even a mechanical claw that will grab it and place it in a locker for you.

The Restaurant

My room was on the 13th floor, but the elevators from the lobby take you to the 4th floor, where you see your first sign of life. There is a wonderful restaurant and bar and an outdoor patio area where servers are bustling around serving expensive drinks.

Why are employees here and not downstairs? Perhaps that has something to do with the exemption in the law for tipped employees, who can be paid as little as $6.80 per hour. This is a more viable wage level in this city, where it is ridiculously expensive to do any business.

This is a situation anyone with economics knowledge would predict. The human assets move where they can be employed most inexpensively, and away from areas where they are made expensive as a matter of law.

From there, you find another set of elevators that take you to your room. It is small but neatly organized. The sofa becomes a bed with the click of a button. The bathroom is beautifully organized. Everything is white, which only underscores the impression I had that the whole place was mercifully clean, especially for a New York hotel.

And this surely accounts for the 4-star rating this place gets – this and how the absence of human interaction at check-in is actually a relief. There is, quite simply, less to go wrong.

(Of course people still need to be employed to clean rooms. This task is too complex for robots; it requires, for now, human intelligence.)

Our Future?

To be sure, this high-tech hotel might exist regardless of the minimum wage law. One can’t know for sure. But you still have to marvel at the brilliance of the entrepreneurs behind this contraption. They rethought the whole idea of how a hotel should operate, and they did it on behalf of the consumer, which means you and me.

The place only opened in New York in 2014, and this year announced plans to expand to Boston, Dubai, Singapore, Paris, Miami, San Francisco, and Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Even without strict laws on minimum wages, I appreciate the advance, which is a real tribute to the capacity of the human mind to rethink settled traditions and find better ways of serving you and me.

You can’t say the same for the political class that keeps signing legislation under the mistaken impression that laws alone can make the world a better place.

Finally, there is a strange feature to the New York law. The legislation allows the law to be suspended if it is found to be hurting productivity in the state. But how can we know for sure? So much of the damage of this kind of legislation is unseen. Plus, private enterprise has proven itself able to innovate even around laws that seem insurmountable.

After all, giant vending machines can show us love too.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Palantir Software: Discrimination & Discovery? | National Review

Palantir Software: Discrimination & Discovery? | National Review

Two questions about ‘discrimination’ The arresting headline — “U.S. Department of Labor sues Palantir for racial discrimination” — could have gone with two very different stories.

The first possible story, the obvious and boring one, turns out, alas, to be the operative one: The Obama administration is going after Palantir Technologies, a “big data” concern started by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel, on the grounds that it discriminated against Asian-American job applicants. The case is risible, resting on an absurdly small data set (three job descriptions and 21 hiring decisions) and the assumption that applicants for highly specialized positions in one of the world’s most esoteric technology companies are interchangeable widgets.

It is less than obvious that Asian Americans have been shut out of technology jobs in Silicon Valley, but, by all means, let us consider the question.

Palantir says that the government is engaged in “flawed statistical analysis.” It seems more likely that the Obama administration is engaged in straightforward political retribution and intimidation: Peter Thiel is an increasingly vocal Republican activist who spoke on Donald Trump’s behalf at this year’s Republican National Convention. (In the interest of disclosure, I should note that he is a contributor, both editorially and financially, to National Review.) Democrats prefer being opposed, if they must be opposed at all, by southern biblioplangists who lend themselves to caricature; cerebral California technology billionaires, on the other hand, are the kind of opposition they could do without, hence the desire to make examples of those who step out of line. Given the current administration’s long, nasty, and criminal history of using agencies of the federal government to go after political enemies, that seems a perfectly reasonable explanation.

(Of course, it is just barely possible that the administration’s motives here are innocent; one of the problems with political corruption is that it casts suspicion on any action that might reasonably be interpreted as corrupt, which is one of the reasons why Lois Lerner and John Koskinen should be in a federal penitentiary.)

Thiel, who has shown a flair for litigation lately (he financed Hulk Hogan’s invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against Gawker), probably will be able to manage this conflict with the Labor Department, though the increasingly open tendency of Democrats to weaponize federal agencies and prosecutors’ offices (ask True the Vote, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Tom DeLay, Rick Perry, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Exxon, the pastors of Houston . . . ) makes one wonder why any large and complex business concern would willingly submit to American jurisdiction when it might as easily incorporate in a country with more honest and transparent public institutions, such as Canada or Switzerland.

But what about the other possible interpretation of that headline? When I read it, I thought for a second that it might mean not that Palantir Technologies Inc. was accused of discrimination but that Palantir itself stood so accused.

Palantir is an artificial-intelligence platform. There are many versions of it operating around the world: The federal government uses it to track down financial criminals and, if the whispers are to be credited, sundry terrorists camped out in the dusty corners of Jihadistan. Hedge funds use it for their own purposes. Information Warfare Monitor used it to uncover the GhostNet in China. It was used to help organize relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy. It is, to say the least, an interesting piece of technology.

But the science-fiction stuff — artificial intelligence, machine-learning systems, neural networks, all that cool-sounding innovation — already is working its way into the much more quotidian aspects of life, particularly in areas such as actuarial analysis and credit. This presents an interesting problem, as Clive Thompson writes in the current edition of Wired: Once a sophisticated neural network is up and running, it “learns” by processing massive amounts of data, and its decision-making processes are opaque, even to the people who designed it. It is a “black box,” a very, very black one, in fact. “Ask its creator how it achieves a certain result and you’ll likely get a shrug,” he writes.

This will affect ordinary people in predictable ways. Thompson considers the case of a homeowner being denied property insurance. Today, that denial could be explained by any number of financial or geographic factors, but systems such as Palantir are useful in part because they detect relationships that are not obvious to humans, or that are counterintuitive. It is not only possible but likely that such systems will produce results that are discomfiting in some quarters. It is not difficult to imagine that they will produce substantial disparities in health-insurance prices, mortgage rates, consumer-credit offers, and the like, and that those disparities will follow demographic cleavages that are politically sensitive. Wider use of such decision-making processes — say, in screening job applicants or making admissions decisions at public universities — will produce new and knotty problems.

The European Union has passed a law entitling consumers to explanations of how financial institutions make decisions about them, but those explanations may turn out to require advanced study at MIT.

What should we think about such opaque decision-making processes? We should begin with the three most important words in public policy: “Compared to what?” Black-box systems are likely to prove superior to our current model — nerds with actuarial tables — and may be less biased. Bias in actuarial methodology is a longstanding problem in the field, and a subject of intense study by its experts. The problem with black-box systems is less likely to be their propagating bias but their revealing it.

To take one example, African-American men are shorter-lived than the average American man, and than white men. African-American men also suffer from certain health problems at much higher rates: Their rate of diabetes, for example, is 70 percent higher than that of whites. There is an interesting legal and political history to how these realities (and, in some cases, racial fictions) have been incorporated into insurance pricing. But the trend has been very strongly against that kind of discrimination, to say the least. Indeed, one of the baffling features of the so-called Affordable Care Act is its insistence that insurance companies may not “discriminate against” people with pre-existing conditions, as though it were logically possible to insure against events in the past any more than one could go to Vegas and place a bet on last year’s Super Bowl.

Credit scores and income statements are pretty blunt tools, as are many of the instruments used in calculating insurance premiums. What is likely to emerge from black-box systems is not a recapitulation of decisions based on gross racial categories but highly sophisticated and highly individualistic analyses that nonetheless produce results that are, for lack of a better word, discriminatory, though whether a machine can engage in racial discrimination properly understood is a philosophical question. No one doubts that an effective system for screening terrorism threats would spotlight more people from Kandahar than from Helsinki. What we sometimes denounce as “profiling” may be useful or not, depending — we always seem to overlook this part — on what is in the profile and how it is constructed. A badly designed profile might propagate bias; a well-designed one might reveal underlying social realities about which we would prefer not to think too much.

It is safe to predict that the Department of Labor is not thinking very much about this problem just yet.

Most of our large pieces of policy architecture date from the New Deal and the Great Society, from that enormous boom in managerial thinking that characterized mid-century America, whose faith in free markets had been shaken by a misunderstood Great Depression and whose faith in government expertise had been inflated by a misunderstood war effort. Most of our political obsessions date from that period, too.

That’s one reason why, for example, our discussions about the condition of black America mainly fail to take into account that the emergence of affluent and prosperous African and Caribbean immigrant communities has complicated what it means to be African American, that clumsy slogans like “Black Lives Matter” fail to account for the fact that the lives of Nigerian-American financiers in Menlo Park are not very much like those of people in East St. Louis. It is why our response to the problem of weak wage growth for low-skilled jobs is so hilariously crude: “Just pass a law saying McDonald’s has got to pay ’em more!” Our being mentally fixed somewhere between 1957 and 1964 prevents us from thinking intelligently about things such as the economy, trade, public pensions, entitlements, national security, and education, much less about the fact that in only a few years the question in discrimination claims will not be “Discrimination by whom?” but “Discrimination by what?”

And what have we seen from the Obama administration, which promised to be forward-looking and evidence-driven? Mainly a return to the most low-tech approach to public policy there is: the enemies list.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

What the numbers tell us


What The Numbers Tell Us

The Guttmacher Institute, another pro-choice advocacy center, researches issues of reproduction thoroughly, and it provides some analysis regarding why women get abortions.

The numbers are overwhelming: 74% of the women surveyed had abortions because having a baby would dramatically change their lives. 38% said a baby would have interfered with careers or educations. Other high-percentage answers were related to relationship statuses, and many of the women provided more than one answer.

By contrast, health and rape scenarios were vastly in the minority. The Guttermacher Institute found that only 12% of the women had abortions for personal health reasons, and only 1% aborted because they were victims of rape.

These numbers are from 2004, but the Guttermacher Institute notes that they have stayed consistent since 1987. Further, these numbers have been supported elsewhere in more recent years.

The women that Guttermacher surveyed simply didn’t want to have a baby because it would have changed their lives, not because their lives were threatened or they had been assaulted.

Editorial: Higher minimum wage means fewer jobs

Editorial: Higher minimum wage means fewer jobs

Last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill to hike the state’s minimum wage by nearly 80 percent over five years, from $8.38 per hour to $15 per hour. It was the right move because minimum-wage laws hurt the people they purport to help.

Fight for $15, a national group advocating higher wages, lost in New Jersey. But the “living wage” folks are active in Michigan and have a Detroit chapter, mostly focusing on fast-food jobs in the city.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees earning the minimum wage “tend to be young.” Roughly 48 percent of all employees earning the federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, are between the ages of 16 and 24.

Instead of benefiting these younger individuals entering the job world, minimum-wage hikes benefit older, more established workers. Mandated higher wagers serve as a barrier to these entry-level positions.

By raising the cost of an employee, forced wage hikes make it more expensive to hire less experienced workers.

Most businesses are not altruistic. A company’s owner does not hire an employee because the employee needs a job. Rather, business owners have specific positions to fill and are best suited to determine the value of that work.

Minimum wages require businesses to pay more for employees than they are “worth” in the marketplace. If the cost of hiring employees increases, business owners will be incentivized to hire only employees with longer employment records and more credentials, discouraging employers from hiring younger individuals with fewer skills and shorter resumes.

Making entry-level work more expensive prevents young people from learning good work habits necessary for advancing their careers, such as punctuality and workplace etiquette.

What’s more, pricing new workers out of the system by increasing the minimum wage disproportionately impacts other disadvantaged groups, such as people of color. Nearly three out of every 10 African-American teens are jobless, according to BLS. White teens are unemployed at about half that rate.

Raising the minimum wage might make a small portion of the workforce happy in the short-term, but few of them will be smiling once businesses are forced to reduce hours or lay off employees to maintain their current costs.

Consider Seattle’s experiment to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour and the repercussions that have followed. Workers were scheduled for fewer hours and many lost their jobs. When Chicago’s minimum wages for both non-tipped and tipped employees went up this summer, restaurants began to close. Expect similar results in Detroit if the wage is hiked here.

If the lowest-level worker must be paid more because of laws, not economic forces, then everyone else will expect a pay increase as well. Eventually, prices of consumer goods will rise, reducing quality of life back to its current level.

The government should not try to legislate economic growth or force employers to give their employees a better life. There will always be negative consequences tied to such government intervention.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Waking up from minimum wage fairy tales

Waking up from minimum wage fairy tales
In a survey done by Pew Research in 2014, 73 percent favored increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.

Bernie Sanders became a surprisingly popular presidential candidate, promising a federal minimum wage of $15. And now several left-wing organizations are mobilizing to pressure candidates in Senate races to support a $15 national minimum wage.

Currently, two places now have enacted $15 minimum wage laws – New York, California and Washington, D.C.

Reporting on the move in Washington, D.C., to a $15 minimum wage, The Washington Post explains that “Supporters, mostly Democrats, say a $15 floor is needed to help close the country’s growing income gap, especially in big cities.”

Really, it sounds so beautiful. Politicians wave their wand and dictate wages. But to ask the obvious question, why only $15? Why not make it $20? $30? $50?

Let’s recognize that there is something to the social science we call economics. One rule of that science is that demand runs opposite to price. If the price of soap is raised from $2 to $5, consumers will buy less soap. And, if the price of soap is lowered from $5 to $1, consumers will buy more soap.

Wages are the price of labor. It stands to reason that this follows the same rules as any market. The higher the price for labor, the lower the demand and vice versa.

Again, it sounds so compassionate that a politician proposes to use the power of government to mandate what salary a business owner must pay. But what politician, even one who proudly calls himself a socialist like Bernie Sanders, would claim that government can mandate how many workers a business must hire at the wage government mandates?

Politicians mandate a minimum wage and then business owners simply comply because they have no choice, but then they hire fewer workers.

We can see the latest evidence in the nation’s capital: Prior to the recent move to raise the minimum wage to $15, which is scheduled to go into effect fully in 2022, there have been two recent minimum wage increases. A minimum wage hike to $10.50 went into effect in July 2015 and then this was increased to $11.50 in July 2016.

What happened?

University of Michigan and American Enterprise Institute economist Mark Perry reports, using recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that “Since the DC minimum wage increased in July 2015 to $10.50 an hour, restaurant employment in the city has increased by less than 1 percent (and by 500 jobs), while restaurant employment in the surrounding suburbs (in Virginia and Maryland) increased 4.2 percent (and by 7,300 jobs). An even more dramatic effect has taken place since the start of this year – DC restaurant jobs fell by 1,400 jobs (and by 2.7 percent) during the first six months of 2016 … the largest loss of District food jobs during a 6-month period in 15 years.”

Perversely, low-wage earners that the minimum wage is supposed to help are the ones hurt the most by shrinking the demand for their labor. In the first quarter of 2016, overall black unemployment in Washington, D.C., was 12.7 percent, compared to 8.5 percent and 7.0 percent in neighboring Maryland and Virginia. And the gap in unemployment between whites and blacks in Washington, D.C. – 2.3 percent for whites compared to the 12.7 percent for blacks – was the highest in the nation.

Earlier this year, Wal-Mart canceled plans to open in two new locations in the nation’s capital, partially because of labor regulations.

If we really care about low-income workers, let markets be free, let businesses create jobs, and let’s fix our schools so poor kids can get an education and move up the ladder.