Saturday, June 20, 2015

Rick Perry's ACTUAL Legacy | RedState

Campaign 2016 has already begun

The alleged record (recycled):

The actual record:

Rick Perrys Legacy

Worker deaths:

Texas ranked 18th, with a rate of 1.7 such deaths per 100,000 workers. Observing that the five states with the “worst” rates all employed fewer than 1 million people in 2011, we checked to see how Texas fared among states employing more than 1 million. The answer: 10th place.
“Worst” among the states were Montana (3.4 deaths per 100,000 workers), North Dakota (3.3), West Virginia (3), Alaska (3) and New Mexico (2.8). “Worst” among states with more than 1 million employed were Arkansas (2.6), Louisiana (2.3), Kansas (2.3), Missouri (2.1) and Kentucky (2).
During our look into the Everlasting GOP Stoppers’ claim, a bureau spokeswoman, Cheryl Abbot, responded to our inquiry about worker deaths in general by emailing us a federal document showing 2011 workplace fatality rates state by state. That year, according to the document, Texas had a rate of 4 fatal occupational injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.
That tied the state for 22nd with Alabama. North Dakota ranked first with a fatality rate of 12.4, according to the document, with Wyoming second (11.6) followed by Montana (11.2), Alaska (11.1), Arkansas (8.0), South Dakota (6.7) and New Mexico (6.6). Among the 10 most populous states, Texas ranked second to Ohio, which had a 5.5 fatality rate, according to the document.


Next up was 49th in school funding. Oh those lefties and their tropes. It is not even a question to them that spending less equals worse outcomes. It is an article of faith. If you spend less, you care less. It is the essence of their very being. So of course, they rank the spending, not the outcome.
In reality, the outcome in Texas is phenomenal. Number two in America for on time graduation of students. Texas is number one in graduations for hispanic students, for black students, and for students from low income families.
Is that not the goal? Is that not what the purpose of education is? Is it not laudable that the most disadvantaged get the most advantage if they live in Texas?
Where is that info from? Why right here at The Washington Times. And right here, at the Department of Education.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Wrap-up of the Daisy Hill Hugo Farm

 Here are the points that I want to make:
  • First and foremost and above all else: The Sad Puppies organizers broke none of the rules established for the Hugo Awards process. None. All the Powers agree on this, including Patrick Neilsen-Hayden and George R. R. Martin.
  • There was no ballot-box stuffing. There are explicit rules against someone buying supporting Worldcon memberships in bulk and then voting them. This has been tried before, but the SPs were not doing it. Brad’s instructions to his readers were basically this: Go buy supporting memberships and vote them according to your judgment; here are some people who ought to be considered.
  • The response of the APs to the SPs was venomous in the extreme. Brad Torgersen was called a racist mysogynist and much else. In truth, he’s happily married to an African-American woman whom he clearly loves and respects. The rotter haters among the APs who suggested that he was hiding his racism behind his wife and daughter did more damage to the APs’ arguments than anything the SPs said before or later. If I had to point to one single thing that turned me against the APs, it was this.
  • The media tried to slam the SPs, and mostly soiled itself in the process. Entertainment Weekly actually slid into libel and had to publish a retraction. Other outlets including Salon, The Guardian, Io9, HuffPo, Slashdot etc. published accusations that were all suspiciously alike, as though someone had offered a pre-written summary for them to follow. Most egregious of several lies was the claim that the slate was composed entirely of conservative white men. In fact, there were plenty of women and non-caucasians on the slate, as well as what might be a slight majority of liberals.
  • Several people hit me with the “You must condemn the Sad Puppies because GamerGate” gambit. I looked for a causal connection and didn’t find it. The SPs have been around two years longer than GG, and, yes, there is a certain amount of overlap between the two groups. There is also a lot of overlap between the gang attacking the SPs and the one attacking GG. I’m not a gamer and this entry is not about GG. I consider it off-topic; don’t bring it up.
  • As I said several weeks ago, the slobbering, high-volume, high-profile hate hurled by the APs probably took the SPs from a fluke to an ongoing institution. I call this “adverse attention,” and it cooks down to the Streisand Effect: Screaming about something attracts attention that makes that something a lot more visible. The sensible response to the SPs would have been silence.
  • Voting “No Award” against SP-recommended authors/artists is unfair in the extreme to those who were nominated. It’s an attempt to punish the SPs by hurting innocent bystanders, some or many of whom genuinely deserve the recognition. I predict that this strategy, if it succeeds, will destroy whatever credibility the Hugos have left.
And finally, the largest insight that I had, and the one that I think explains almost everything else:
  • The fight over the Hugo Awards is really about humiliation and loss of face. The Insider Alphas (i.e., the Right Men and Right Women) of the SFF community were humiliated on their home turf, and suffered a tremendous loss of face. High-status individuals can tolerate almost anything but humiliation. Their response to loss of face is generally one of igneous fury, and where violence is possible, physical violence. The fury was tactile, and Brad Torgersen received death threats. That pretty much nailed it for me.

Clinton Gets Everything Wrong on Voting

National Review Online | Print

Hillary Clinton made so many false assertions about voting in the speech she gave at Texas Southern University that it’s hard to know where to start. Contrary to her contention, no “barriers” are being imposed on eligible Americans that prevent them from easily registering and voting in our elections.

Minimum Wages: The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics | Library of Economics and Liberty

Most noneconomists believe that minimum wage laws protect workers from exploitation by employers and reduce poverty. Most economists believe that minimum wagelaws cause unnecessary hardship for the very people they are supposed to help.
The reason is simple: although minimum wage laws can setwages, they cannot guarantee jobs. In practice they often price low-skilled workers out of the labor market. Employers typically are not willing to pay a worker more than the value of the additional product that he produces. This means that an unskilled youth who produces $4.00 worth of goods in an hour will have a very difficult time finding a job if he must, by law, be paid $5.15 an hour. As Princeton economist David F. Bradford wrote, “The minimum wage law can be described as saying to the potential worker: ‘Unless you can find a job paying at least the minimum wage, you may not accept employment.’”2Several decades of studies using aggregate time-series data from a variety of countries have found that minimum wagelaws reduce employment. At current U.S. wage levels, estimates of job losses suggest that a 10 percent in crease in the minimum wage would decrease employment of low-skilled workers by 1 or 2 percent. The job losses for black U.S. teenagers have been found to be even greater, presumably because, on average, they have fewer skills. As liberal economist Paul A. Samuelson wrote in 1973, “What good does it do a black youth to know that an employer must pay him $2.00 per hour if the fact that he must be paid that amount is what keeps him from getting a job?”3 In a 1997 response to a request from the Irish National Minimum Wage Commission, economists for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) summarized economic research results on the minimum wage: “If the wage floor set by statutory minimum wages is too high, this may have detrimental effects on employment, especially among young people.”4 This agreement over the general effect of minimum wages is long-standing. According to a 1978 article in American Economic Review, 90 percent of the economists surveyed agreed that the minimum wage increases unemployment among low-skilled workers.5Australia provided one of the earliest practical demonstrations of the harmful effects of minimum wage laws when the federal court created a minimum wage for unskilled men in 1921. The court set the wage at what it thought employees needed for a decent living, independent of what employers would willingly pay. Laborers whose productivity was worth less than the mandated wage could find work only in occupations not covered by the law or with employers willing to break it. Aggressive reporting of violations by vigilant unions made evasion difficult. The historical record shows that unemployment remained a particular problem for unskilled laborers for the rest of the decade.
At about the same time, a hospital in the United States fired a group of women after the Minimum Wage Board in the District of Columbia ordered that their wages be raised to the legal minimum. The women sued to halt enforcement of the minimum wage law. In 1923, the U.S. Supreme Court, inAdkins v. Childrens Hospital, ruled that the minimum wage law was price fixing and that it represented an unreasonable infringement on individuals’ freedom to determine the price at which they would sell their services.
In addition to making jobs hard to find, minimum wage laws may also harm workers by changing how they are compensated. Fringe benefits—such as paid vacation, free room and board, inexpensive insurance, subsidized child care, and on-the-job training—are an important part of the total compensation package for many low-wage workers. When minimum wages rise, employers can control total compensation costs by cutting benefits. In extreme cases, employers convert low-wage full-time jobs with benefits to high-wage part-time jobs with no benefits and fewer hours. David Neumark and William Wascher found that a 10 percent increase in minimumwages decreased on-the-job training for young people by 1.5–1.8 percent.6 Since on-the-job training is the way most people build their salable skills, these findings suggest that minimumwage laws also reduce future opportunities for the unskilled.
A particularly graphic example of benefits reduction occurred in 1990, when the U.S. Department of Labor ordered the Salvation Army to pay the minimum wage to voluntary participants in its work therapy programs. In exchange for processing donated goods, the programs provided participants, many of whom were homeless alcoholics and drug addicts, with a small weekly stipend and up to ninety days of food, shelter, and counseling. The Salvation Army said that the expense of complying with the minimum wage order would force it to close the programs. Ignoring both the fact that the beneficiaries of the program could leave to take higher-paying jobs at any time and the cash value of the food, shelter, and supervision, the Labor Department insisted that it was protecting workers’ rights by enforcing the minimum wage. After a public outcry, the Labor Department backed down.7 Its Wage and Hour Division Field Operations Handbook now contains a special section on minimum wage enforcement and the Salvation Army.8

The Myopic Empiricism of the Minimum Wage, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Unlike most opponents of the minimum wage, I admit that David Card and Alan Krueger's famous research on the topic is well-done.  How then can I continue to embrace (and teach!) the textbook view that the minimum wage significantly reduces employment of low-skilled workers?
Part of the reason is admittedly my strong prior.  In the absence of any specific empirical evidence, I am 99%+ sure that a randomly selected demand curve will have a negative slope.  I hew to this prior even in cases - like demand for illegal drugs or illegal immigration - where a downward-sloping demand curve is ideologically inconvenient for me.  What makes me so sure?  Every purchase I've ever made or considered - and every conversation I've had with other people about every purchase they've ever made or considered.
Another reason why Card-Krueger hasn't flipped my position: Despite my admiration for their craftsmanship, even the best empirical social science isn't that good.  I expect true theories to predict the data only two-thirds of the time - and false theories to predict the data one-third of the time.  (N.B. Many of the weaknesses in empirical social science are systematic, so the Law of Large Numbers is no salvation). Bayesian upshot: The Card-Krueger findings only slightly reduce my initial high confidence that the minimum wage causes unemployment.

Friday, June 05, 2015

The EPA Report

We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States. Of the potential mechanisms identified in this report, we found specific instances where one or more mechanisms led to impacts on drinking water resources, including contamination of drinking water wells. The number of identified cases, however, was small compared to the number of hydraulically fractured wells. 

That sounds kind of telling.  To be fair, the report goes on to say:

This finding could reflect a rarity of effects on drinking water resources, but may also be due to other limiting factors. These factors include: insufficient pre- and post-fracturing data on the quality of drinking water resources; the paucity of long-term systematic studies; the presence of other sources of contamination precluding a definitive link between hydraulic fracturing activities and an impact; and the inaccessibility of some information on hydraulic fracturing activities and potential impacts. 

But if the bad effects are so easily lost in the noise, maybe they're not that bad.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Imaginary Economics of Henry Ford | National Review Online

The Imaginary Economics of Henry Ford | National Review Online

The best defense against our new robot economic overlords, the hosts insisted, is a guaranteed minimum income. For this, the wisdom of Henry Ford was cited, the familiar claim that Henry Ford paid higher wages so that his workers could afford to buy his cars, thus expanding his business.

Never mind that this sort of bootless bootstrapping is economically and logically illiterate—there is scant evidence that Ford ever made any such claim, and he certainly never actually did any such thing, as has been documented many times. Andrew Leonard, writing an article about the same book in the Los Angeles Times, makes the same claim: “Henry Ford understood this when he paid his workers high enough wages to buy his cars. Today’s titans of the economy appear to have forgotten the lesson.”

The lesson has not been forgotten, because it was never learned—because it is not a lesson. Ford didn’t exactly double the wages of his workers, but he did institute a bonus program that effectively doubled the salary for workers who satisfied the conditions, which were invasive and paternalistic: They were expected to submit to inspections to ensure that they did not drink or gamble, that their wives did not work outside the home, that they were properly Americanizing themselves if they were immigrants, etc. Ford had a turnover problem—it was a tough place to work—and excessive turnover lowers productivity and profits, in no small part because of the need to train new hires.

Ford emphatically did not do this to empower workers to buy Ford cars—indeed, if he had attempted to do so, it would have represented a disastrous miscalculation: The additional wages represented more than $9 million a year in expenditures for Ford’s 14,000 workers; if every one of those workers had bought a new Ford every single year, that would have represented less than $8 million in gross income and a great deal less than that in profit, as Tim Worstall calculates. That would have been a loss-making strategy, but even if it were profitable, it would not have been very profitable: Ford was selling hundreds of thousands of cars a year by that point, and its work force, which had about as many people as modern-day Baraboo, Wis., hardly represented much of a growth market.
But of course Henry Ford was not that stupid. He knew that the key to making a car for “the great multitude” was not paying his workers more but keeping prices low, as his actual quote (from My Life and Work) makes clear: “It will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one—and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.”

The self-financing pay hike represents an especially illiterate and annoying species of magical thinking. The only way to make a society wealthier is to make it wealthier, i.e. to produce more goods and services. Even assuming that government (or the Ford Motor Company) can stimulate demand in an effective and predictable way, demand does not magic automobiles into existence. Nor does it magic cantaloupes, sofa sectionals, skateboards, or self-contained wind-powered camping capsules into existence. Demand won’t clean a house, rebuild a transmission, mow the grass, or pick the cotton.

The claim that Ford raised workers’ wages in order to sell them more cars is untrue, or at least without any supporting evidence, and the radio guys, Andrew Leonard, the Los Angeles Times, et al., should stop repeating that falsehood. And, if they can manage the mental firepower, they should think about why it is a deeply ignorant claim in the first place.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Puerto Rico and the Case against One-Size-Fits-All Minimum-Wage Hikes | National Review Online

Puerto Rico and the Case against One-Size-Fits-All Minimum-Wage Hikes | National Review Online

When asked about the effects of a $12 federal minimum wage (not $15, which is the goal of a growing number of labor activists), Freeman gives Wonkblog a few thoughts:
Based on that experience, Freeman thinks a few things might happen if the federal minimum goes up to $12. First, some companies might find ways to work around it, either by having their employees work off the clock or by turning them into independent contractors. That’s not ideal, but it at least allows people to keep collecting some paycheck.

“There are many ways that firms and workers will make sure that people don’t lose their jobs,” Freeman says. “If you say that 90 percent of the people get higher wages, and that’s what you want to have happen, and then 10 percent find ways to wiggle around so they keep their jobs, that’s a pretty good outcome.”

To be clear, Freeman is anticipating violations of labor standards on a mass scale (“having their employees work off the clock”) and a shift to 1099 employment, which I don’t consider a bad thing, necessarily, but which presumably does not mean that business models that “don’t belong in a modern economy” will shut their doors — rather, innovative energies will shift from perfecting a business model to getting around labor regulations. This is a fascinating way to have your cake and eat it too, and it raises interesting questions: Is Freeman suggesting that the 90 percent of the people who get higher wages (an imprecise figure — it’s not clear who he’s referring to) wouldn’t have commanded higher wages over time as they gained experience? And then he tells us that it doesn’t really matter that some others will be adversely affected, because their employers will simply violate the law or embrace a more contingent model of employment.
[I]f jobs do disappear, Freeman figures that people will move to areas of greater opportunity. “Minimum-wage workers tend to be young people, so they’re reasonably mobile,” he says. “Mississippi is the lowest-wage state in the country. If it tips you to move to Georgia, which has higher wages, that’s a reasonable response.”

Mass migration of less-skilled workers might strike Freeman as a painless process, but many low-income families living in Mississippi have been living there for generations, even as friends and relatives have migrated to other regions in search of opportunity. Those who remain often have a very good reason for doing so, and treating the fact that they will no longer be able to find employment in their hometowns as a trivial fact strikes me as unfortunate. Moreover, we know that high-productivity regions in the U.S. tend to also have higher costs. If less-skilled Mississippi workers move in large numbers to Atlanta, some of them will find low-wage work and affordable housing. Others might find it much harder to make their way in a new environment. (And this is not to mention that settling in New York City or the Bay Area would be substantially more difficult for Mississippi workers, given stringent housing regulations in both regions. Indeed, high costs have led many low- and middle-income households to leave these regions and settle in lower-wage, lower-productivity southern metropolitan areas.) For example, some of these workers might have children, and moving away from relatives might disrupt their child-care arrangements. I assume that the solution for this is publicly financed daycare. What other taxpayer-financed benefits will we need to smooth the transition? Think about it: We are going to raise the minimum wage to a level that will cause large-scale disemployment and outmigration from some regions, and then we will spend more money to ameliorate the negative consequences that will result. Wasn’t a higher minimum wage supposed to be a “free” policy that would make poor people better off?

Freeman then offers Wonkblog the following parting thought:
[O]verall, Freeman argues, the evidence from minimum wage hikes in other places — such as Britain and Australia — shows only moderate effects on employment, if any, because governments tend to give businesses time to adjust.

“Put a zero after your wage and mine, and we know that the employer’s going to get rid of us,” Freeman says. “But they never seem to push the minimum really into that dangerous territory. Twelve dollars in three years is not going to incredibly shake up Mississippi.”
It’s worth noting that Australia’s national minimum wage has numerous carve-outs for junior employees, trainee employees, apprentices, and other categories of worker, which are tailored by sector and sub-sector. Australia’s minimum-wage regulations are dizzying in their complexity precisely because the Australian government is wary of disemployment effects. Furthermore, Australia’s relatively high minimum wage is reflected in its substantially higher cost of living and the country takes a more restrictive approach to less-skilled immigration than the U.S. If Australia had more immigrants with less than a high-school diploma, its minimum wage laws might prove more binding. Britain’s minimum wage is similarly not as binding as a $12 minimum wage would be in low-cost regions like Mississippi.
In a recent Slate column, I explain why some economists who favor minimum-wage increases, like Arindrajit Dube of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, favor a minimum-wage strategy that is sensitive to local wages and prices:
Consider the contrast between Massachusetts, a high-cost, high-wage jurisdiction, and Mississippi, a low-cost, low-wage one. In Massachusetts, very few workers would be affected by an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10, as the Bay State already has a $9 minimum wage that is set to increase to $11 by 2017. But in Mississippi, as many as 28 percent of workers would be affected. In Massachusetts, wages are higher, and so are prices. Relatively few employers will have to spend substantially more on their workforce under a higher federal minimum wage, and relatively few will have to raise their prices to account for it. In Mississippi, by contrast, many employers will have to raise their wages, and it’s a safe bet that virtually all of the cost of this minimum wage hike will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. You might think that, well, this isn’t a huge deal if it’s rich people who are paying these higher prices. But of course it will often be poor people who pay them, particularly in a poor state like Mississippi. This makes poor consumers worse off in a direct sense, in that they can purchase less with their earnings. And if consumers are at all sensitive to prices, at least some of them will choose to spend less on labor-intensive goods and services now that they are more expensive. That could reduce the number of minimum wage jobs available.

That is why Dube recommends that state and local governments set minimum wages that take into account local wages and local price levels. Specifically, he advocates setting a minimum wage at half of the median full-time wage in a given jurisdiction, a standard that would have yielded minimum wages ranging from $12.45 in Massachusetts to $7.97 in Mississippi. Suffice it to say, there is a great deal of distance between $7.97 and $15.
I’d suggest that Dube’s approach is far superior to imposing a $12 (or $15) national minimum wage, and that the “Oh well, they’ll just move” or “Oh well, employers will just wiggle around the law” approach isn’t actually that great.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Muted Conversation on Traditional Marriage | Andrew Cuff | First Things

A Muted Conversation on Traditional Marriage | Andrew Cuff | First Things

The interview he gave was not the one the reporter heard.

Content / Individualist Feminism -- Commentary / Transcript of my side of the debate with Jessica Valenti at Brown University -

So, the rape culture. A conflict within feminism about the rape culture came into focus on February 28th of this year when the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network - known as RAINN - the largest anti-sexual-violence organization in America and the most influential...and hardly a voice of conservatism - RAINN sent a 16-page letter to a new White House task force that had the mission of reforming and standardizing campus reform hearings across America

RAINN stated "there has been an unfortunate trend towards blaming the rape culture for the extensive problem of sexual violence on campus. While it is helpful for pointing out the systemic barriers towards dealing with the problem it is important not to lose sight of a simple fact: Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions of a small fraction of a community to commit a violent crime. While that may seem an obvious point it has tended to get lost in recent debates."

RAINN argued that focusing on rape culture made it harder to stop sexual violence because it removed focus from the individuals at fault and seemingly mitigates personal responsibility for his or her own actions. I agree. The treatment of rape needs to move away from what has become the status quo assumption of feminist orthodoxy, away from rape as an expression of culture, and toward holding a small number of individuals absolutely responsible for their options. "Men" or "women" as a category do not rape - individuals do. And yet this idea runs counter to the whole idea of the rape culture. When you speak of a rape culture, you're saying rape is so widely accepted that it is a cultural norm. In short, it is a defining aspect of society.

And certainly there are cultures in which that definition fits. There are parts of Afghanistan, for example, where women are married against their will, they are murdered for men's honor, they are raped. And when they are raped
they are arrested for it, and they are shunned by their family afterward. Now that's a rape culture.

But that is not North America. It doesn't resemble North America. Here rape is a crime that is severely punished. Even an accusation of sexual harassment can ruin someone's career and their lives.

A few days ago I saw a sight that made me just wither inside. A man who had - a scientist behind the Rosetta comet landing - wept in apology on TV because after the biggest achievement of his life, he basically was hounded because he wore a shirt that a female friend of his had made that showed cartoon super heroines on it. And he was made to weep in apology on TV rather than revel in an incredible accomplishment.

Who had the power there? Did he have the power there? Feminists came and said that he basically should be excoriated and he wept on TV. It was a terrible sight. It was a cruel sight.

The messages sent to men today are not that it's okay to rape. It's the opposite. And according to both RAINN and the Department of Justice the rate of rape and sexual assault as decreased by more than half since 1993 so why aren't we celebrating?

North America is not a rape culture. It is an insult to women who live in one that women here with so much freedom and so much opportunity are trying to share the same status of oppression with them.