Friday, January 30, 2015

Fleeing the No-Go Zones | TheCollegeConservative

Fleeing the No-Go Zones | TheCollegeConservative

To many in the West, the idea of Muslim ghettos may seem strange, but such places have existed for many years. The existence of such zones has been reported on for at least a decade. When this writer began to study Islam, he came across works like Londonistan, which served to outline the way in which Muslims in London have created zones where only Muslims are welcome. This has since happened in formerly English cities as Birmingham and Liverpool, where large swathes of neighborhood are become an unwelcoming ghetto. London has seen the creation of sharia patrols, groups of young Muslims men who walk the streets at night enforcing their own religious creeds upon the public. The French government has invented a euphemism to refer to such areas, calling them “Sensitive Urban Zones.” This only serves to heighten the way in which the civil government has lost control of the chunks of its own territory. This situation has not gone unreported, as one may see here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say -- NYMag

Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say -- NYMag
Political correctness is a term whose meaning has been gradually diluted since it became a flashpoint 25 years ago. People use the phrase to describe politeness (perhaps to excess), or evasion of hard truths, or (as a term of abuse by conservatives) liberalism in general. The confusion has made it more attractive to liberals, who share the goal of combating race and gender bias.

But political correctness is not a rigorous commitment to social equality so much as a system of left-wing ideological repression. Not only is it not a form of liberalism; it is antithetical to liberalism. Indeed, its most frequent victims turn out to be liberals themselves.
Under p.c. culture, the same idea can be expressed identically by two people but received differently depending on the race and sex of the individuals doing the expressing. This has led to elaborate norms and terminology within certain communities on the left. For instance, “mansplaining,” a concept popularized in 2008 by Rebecca Solnit, who described the tendency of men to patronizingly hold forth to women on subjects the woman knows better — in Solnit’s case, the man in question mansplained her own book to her. The fast popularization of the term speaks to how exasperating the phenomenon can be, and mansplaining has, at times, proved useful in identifying discrimination embedded in everyday rudeness. But it has now grown into an all-purpose term of abuse that can be used to discredit any argument by any man. (MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry once disdainfully called White House press secretary Jay Carney’s defense of the relative pay of men and women in the administration “man­splaining,” even though the question he responded to was posed by a male.) Mansplaining has since given rise to “whitesplaining” and “straightsplaining.” The phrase “solidarity is for white women,” used in a popular hashtag, broadly signifies any criticism of white feminists by nonwhite ones.

If a person who is accused of bias attempts to defend his intentions, he merely compounds his own guilt. (Here one might find oneself accused of man/white/straightsplaining.) It is likewise taboo to request that the accusation be rendered in a less hostile manner. This is called “tone policing.” If you are accused of bias, or “called out,” reflection and apology are the only acceptable response — to dispute a call-out only makes it worse. There is no allowance in p.c. culture for the possibility that the accusation may be erroneous. A white person or a man can achieve the status of “ally,” however, if he follows the rules of p.c. dialogue. A community, virtual or real, that adheres to the rules is deemed “safe.” The extensive terminology plays a crucial role, locking in shared ideological assumptions that make meaningful disagreement impossible.

A reaction to the response shows up in
Now, some will say that Chait has been unnecessarily provocative in his writing. That he should’ve made a better effort to reach out to the people he’s criticizing. The problem with this framing is that it presumes the angry rage mobs roaming Twitter in search of someone who has insufficiently checked his or her or its privilege are open to debate, to having their mind changed. That they’re interested in having a calm, rational discussion. This is a faulty presumption. It’s impossible to have a polite discussion on this topic because the outraged don’t want to have any discussion on this topic. As Chait puts it:
If a person who is accused of bias attempts to defend his intentions, he merely compounds his own guilt. (Here one might find oneself accused of man/white/straightsplaining.) It is likewise taboo to request that the accusation be rendered in a less hostile manner. This is called “tone policing.” If you are accused of bias, or “called out,” reflection and apology are the only acceptable response — to dispute a call-out only makes it worse. There is no allowance in p.c. culture for the possibility that the accusation may be erroneous. A white person or a man can achieve the status of “ally,” however, if he follows the rules of p.c. dialogue. A community, virtual or real, that adheres to the rules is deemed “safe.”
It’s hard to have even a calm, rational discussion with someone who thinks your only appropriate response is silence. That the only thing you can do is sit there and listen and nod your head, admitting that you have been blind to the truth and, yes, deserve the vitriol heaped upon you. I kind of hope that Chait is offered a speaking gig on a college campus just to see how quickly it’ll take for him to be shouted down and demonstrated against, petitioned and picketed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Looking Away from Europe's Muslim Problem by Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal 22 January 2015

Looking Away from Europe's Muslim Problem by Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal 22 January 2015
Steven Emerson, the expert on terrorism, has caused a sigh of relief among the bien pensants of the Western world. By making inaccurate and false claims on Fox News, he has enabled them to pour righteous scorn on him and thereby avoid thinking about uncomfortable social realities.
Because of their high rates of consanguineous marriage, Muslim children have relatively high rates of serious genetic conditions, about which a kind of omertà has long prevailed, though it is not uniquely medical. In my experience, school inspectors never inquire as to why Muslim girls go missing from school for long periods, though I have known white parents prosecuted because their refractory adolescent child failed to attend school as the law required for only short periods. The same kind of omertà was surely one reason for the shameful disregard shown by the police in Rotherham of the systematic sexual abuse of young white girls by Muslim men there—though whether the police were more afraid of Muslim reaction or accusations of racism in the liberal press is uncertain.

Forced marriage (very different from arranged marriage) is common among the Muslims, though it is difficult because of social secrecy to estimate just how common. Certainly I was able to recognize a pattern among my young Muslim female patients, down to the withholding of their passports when they returned “home” to Pakistan, aged between 15 and 20, to marry their first cousin in their “home” village. Resignation to their fate merged by degrees into consent; all of them knew of honor killings of young women such as themselves, which exerted the same psychological effect as lynching did on blacks in the American South.

A No-go Zone for Truth

A No-go Zone for Truth

Accurately reporting on no-go zones dominated by Muslims in Europe is now a no-go zone. Our media have made a mess of the whole issue and are now afraid to dig themselves out. What a disgrace and disservice to news consumers.

Jumping on the pile, the left-wing Politico has published a story accusing Louisiana Republican Governor and possible presidential candidate Bobby Jindal of telling a “lie” about the no-go zones by saying they exist. But the story is itself based on a lie. Things are so twisted that Politico is doing the lying by denying that the no-go zones exist. How did we get in such a mess?

Let’s understand that the method in this madness is to accommodate the radical Muslim lobby and demonize politicians who talk about the jihad problem.

First of all, the evidence shows that the zones or areas do exist. We cited evidence for them, and numerous other outlets have done so as well.
Steve Emerson made a mistake on one Fox show in saying that “in Britain, it’s not just no-go zones, there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in.”

Acknowledging his error, Emerson tells WorldNetDaily that he is nevertheless appalled that the media have now decided that any and all reporting on no-go zones is wrong. “It’s outrageous for media outlets to apologize, saying ‘no-go zones’ don’t exist in Europe, when even the New York Times for years has published articles documenting Muslim ‘no-go zones’ do exist in European countries like France,” he tells WND reporter Jerome Corsi.

Corsi notes that “NBC News, the New York Times, the Associated Press and others were using the term ‘no-go’ zones for Muslim-majority neighborhoods in Paris when Muslim youth gangs were rampaging through the streets and setting cars on fire.”
Robert Spencer makes the observation, “The Fox apology is all the more curious in light of the fact that others, even on the Left, have noticed the no-go zones in France before some Fox commentators began talking about them in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks.”

Citing just one example of many, he notes that David Ignatius had written in The New York Times back in 2002, “Yet Arab gangs regularly vandalize synagogues here, the North African suburbs have become no-go zones at night, and the French continue to shrug their shoulders.”

Monday, January 26, 2015

Primer: Minimum Wage and Combating Poverty | Research | American Action Forum

Primer: Minimum Wage and Combating Poverty | Research | American Action Forum
An analysis of data from the 2012 Current Population Survey (CPS) March Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement, which reports information from 2011, reveals that very few people earn the minimum wage. In 2011, 58.9 percent of all wage and salary workers were paid hourly rates. Of those, only 3.2 percent earned at or below the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. When looking at all wage and salary workers, minimum wage workers accounted for a mere 1.9 percent.

Looking specifically at how minimum wage relates to poverty, only 0.3 percent of people in families with incomes below the relevant 2011 federal poverty lines worked an hourly job and made at or below the minimum wage. The minimum wage does not help people in poverty who actually work. When examining the working poor, only 7.8 percent of all hourly-paid workers in poverty earn at or below the minimum wage (6.3 percent of all wage and salary workers in poverty).

In 2011, only 1.2 percent of people in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold earned an hourly wage at or below $9 per hour and only 1.5 percent earned a wage at or below $10.10 per hour. Even among all those who work and are in poverty, only 28.5 percent earn at or below $9 per hour and 36.2 percent earn at or below $10.10 per hour. These figures suggest that increases in minimum wage to $9 and $10.10 not only would fail to assist almost 99 percent of all people in poverty, but they would also neglect the vast majority of people in poverty who are actually working.

Since so few working people in poverty actually earn at or near the federal minimum wage, very few would benefit from a minimum wage increase. Sabia and Burkhauser (2010) found no statistical evidence that the minimum wage increases between 2003 and 2007 affected state poverty rates. Only 15.5 percent of the net benefits from the federal minimum wage increase to $7.25 went to workers living in poverty. If the minimum wage were to increase to $9.50 per hour, only 10.5 percent of the net benefits would go to workers in poverty.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Media Is Making College Rape Culture Worse - The Daily Beast

The Media Is Making College Rape Culture Worse - The Daily Beast

Civil Rights Racism: Democrats Controlled Everything But Would Not Pass Civil Rights! The History The Timeline of Democrat Racism | Maggie's Notebook

After writing about an MSNBC talking head’s comment about the “niggerization of politics” yesterday, and watching the latest threat by the New Black Panther Party against the Republican National Convention, I thought it time to update my posts on racism and the timeline of action and inaction. The following combines some of my previous posts and adds new sources. This is a long post – just skip to the Timeline for a quicker read. The video below, Racism in the Democratic Party is well worth valium without prescriptionbuy klonopin online no prescriptionIn a discussion of Civil Rights in America, how often do you hear the name of Republican Senator Everett Dirksen (R-IL)? Not often. How often do you hear the name of Democrat Senator Robert Byrd in connection to civil rights? Not often but for very different reasons. Dirksen was a champion for civil rights. Robert Byrd was not. But you do hear the name of Senator Strom Thurmond practically spat from the mouths of those accusing Republicans for the plight of Negros African-Americans Blacks, but Strom Thurmond was a Democrat in those days, and he was VERY active in trying to kill the civil rights bill. It was later that Thurmond became a Republican. Most people do not know soma no prescriptionAn agenda can be identified by what is NOT being said. The names of Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Everett Dirksen and the many Republicans who fought for, and or/voted for the civil rights bill are never uttered. Neither is it mentioned that Republicans voted for the Civil Rights bill in far greater percentages than did Democrats, or that Democrats had a sufficient majority to pass it without a single Republican vote.ativan online without prescriptionAs President of the Senate, Nixon witnessed Democrat Senator Strom Thurmond and his single-man filibuster to prohibit black voting rights…a filibuster which went on for 24 hours and 18 minutes straight on the Senate floor. Democrat Senator Robert Byrd filibustered for 18 hours.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Voice of Sanity - The Victimization Trap

A Voice of Sanity -
As every straight-thinking adult knows, a faulty belief system — i.e., a belief system based on false premises — leads to bad consequences. Perhaps the best example of this is a person who is caught up in the Victimization Trap.

It’s a trap that mentally paralyzes the afflicted person, because he comes to believe the deck has been stacked against him. Such a misguided individual tends to see himself as a helpless victim of an unjust world, which has the effect of removing the incentive to try to improve his life.


In order to escape the Victimization Trap, it is helpful to back up a step and examine its roots. A human being is a creature of infinite desires, and it is quite normal to want to fulfill as many of those desires as possible. However, he is aware that merely telling people that he wants something is not likely to produce results.

To overcome this problem, it has become popular to claim that whatever one desires is a “need.” The transformation of a desire into a need is an integral component of the Victimization Trap. Need, of course, is a subjective word; i.e., it is but an opinion.

In reality, there is no such thing as an absolute need. I may think that I need a Rolls-Royce; you may think I need a bicycle. Neither of us is right or wrong; we merely have a difference of opinion.

However, my desire for a Rolls-Royce is an entirely different matter. There is no opinion involved. If I desire a Rolls-Royce, that’s my business. It only becomes your business if I arbitrarily decide that you have an obligation to buy it for me on the grounds that it’s a “need” and that I am therefore “entitled” to it.

The fact that I may call my desire for a Rolls-Royce a need is, of course, semantic nonsense. I may just as well call it a wart, because, regardless of what word I assign to it, I still have no moral right to force you to help me acquire it just because I happen to want it.

However, this camouflage is only the first step in the semantics game that is part and parcel to the Victimization Trap. The second step involves the clever elevation of “needs” to “rights.”

All Western cultures now accept the belief that every individual has a “right” to an education, a “right” to a “good” job, a “right” to a “living” wage, a “right” to a “decent” housing, a “right “ to “good” healthcare, a right to virtually anything that a person can establish as society’s obligation to him. This is in direct contrast to earlier times in America when most people believed that no one had a right to anything except life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Unfortunately, Western civilization has devolved to the point where the use of force and fraud can be easily justified on the grounds that such measures are necessary to make certain that people’s “rights” are not violated, i.e., to make certain their individual desires are fulfilled.

When all is said and done, this is precisely what politics is all about. H.L. Mencken summed it up perfectly when he described an election as “an advanced auction of stolen goods.”

The problem with the desires-to-needs-to-rights game is the same as I described earlier about the Victimization Trap in general: In order to fulfill the perceived rights of one person, another person’s right to his liberty must be violated, because any product or service that an individual may desire must be produced by someone else.

And if the product or service (or the money to purchase it) is taken from a productive individual against his will, then that individual’s rights have been sacrificed to the desires of the person who receives the largesse.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Taxonomy of Science Blogs | Watts Up With That?

A Taxonomy of Science Blogs | Watts Up With That?

What would it look like if you asked 600+ science bloggers to list up to three science blogs, other than their own, that they read on a regular basis, and then visually mapped the resulting data?

jarreau climate blogs

Now, you can see WUWT in yellow over on the left, almost totally isolated from the other groups of blogs, in tiny type, with only a few links to it. This raises an interesting question, which is—how could Ms. Jarreau’s results be so far from reality? I say “far from reality” because by just about any measure, Watts Up With That is at the center of the climate blogosphere. Whether you look at total page views, “bounce rate”, page views per visitor, daily time on site, Alexa rating, you name the metric, WUWT comes out an order of magnitude ahead of any other climate blog. For example, Alexa rates WUWT as the 20,839th most popular blog worldwide … while RealClimate is an order of magnitude lower down, at 217,939th among all blogs.

I’d say three things contributed to the skewed results. First, people don’t always tell the truth. Ms. HotWhopper is the obvious poster child for this. From the topics of her posts it’s obvious that she spends a whole lot of time reading WUWT … but she didn’t list it. I suspect that for some people, it’s a guilty pleasure, but that if asked, they’d say the equivalent of “I only read Playboy for the articles” …

The second reason for the skewed results is the way that news of the survey was passed around. It doesn’t appear that there was sufficient effort given to ensuring that the questionnaire was widely distributed. A better method might have been to write up a description and invitation to participate in the study, and to ask the various blogs to use it as a guest post. In any case, more thought about how to select participants is definitely indicated. Third, and in my opinion most important, there appears to have been no definition of terms, particularly as to what constitutes a “science site”. A large number of people in Lucias thread said well, HotWhopper Sou didn’t list WUWT because it’s not a science site … and according to them, the evidence for their claim that WUWT is not a science site is that often WUWT publishes studies which later turn out to be incorrect in some way, and sometimes are totally mistaken and wrong. To me, this reflects a profound misunderstanding of what makes a science site. The problem is that there are different kinds of “science sites”.

I’ll use mostly climate science sites as examples, as I’m familiar with them. One kind of science site is just a news aggregation site. The best example of this kind is Climate Depot. It just puts up links to stories about the climate with little commentary. Another kind of science site generally restricts itself to discussions of peer-reviewed science, but gives some commentary on each link. “It’s Not Rocket Science” or the Scientific American blog are examples of this category. Another kind of science site mostly deals with the original work of an individual author. Climate Audit and Isaac Held’s blog are examples of this kind of site. Then we have sites such as Lucia Liljegren’s site, or Judith Curry’s site, which reflect the individual interests of the author but which range widely over a number of subjects. Finally, we have Watts Up With That (WUWT). What makes WUWT unusual is that it is not a site that publicly discusses peer-reviewed science documents. Instead, it is a site for the public peer-review of science documents, including original work done by guest authors such as myself, and also studies which have been peer-reviewed by one of the journals.

This is a very different animal. To start with, just as happens with the secret peer review which is the usual format for the journals, not all of the papers that are reviewed will pass muster. Of course the journals don’t publish anything that doesn’t pass peer-review, they are hidden from view. But for public peer review such as goes on at WUWT, everything is visible, good, bad, and ugly. So when people complain that there are misguided or incorrect scientific claims posted at WUWT … well, doh. That’s an unavoidable part of the public peer-review game. Some of the pieces won’t make the cut. Not only that, but it is an extremely important part of the game. Knowing not only which scientific claims are wrong, but exactly why they are wrong, is perhaps more important than knowing which scientific claims are right. So yes, there is some very sketchy science that sometimes gets published and publicly peer-reviewed at WUWT … and almost invariably, it gets shot full of holes in short order. This makes WUWT more of a scientific site, not less of one. You don’t see that kind of thing happening at say RealClimate (RC) for a simple reason—such comments are invisibly and ruthlessly censored.

And that is why the Jarreau claim that RC is at the center of anything scientific is a joke. Science doesn’t censor scientific comments, and RC does censor scientific comments. You do the math. (Of course, all sites censor comments that violate blog policy, such as those that are vulgar or insulting, or wildly off-topic … but RC censors polite, on-topic, clearly scientific objections to their posts. No bueno.) As a frequent guest author, to me this pointing out of bad science is one of the most important aspects of WUWT—any mistake that I make will be identified in very short order. This has saved me immense amounts of wasted effort following blind trails … but some foolish folks think that my occasionally publishing claims that eventually turn out to be erroneous reduces the scientific value or nature of WUWT.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Identifying errors and falsifying claims is central to science, and the only way to do so is to first publish the claims that later turn out to be wrong. As a result, Anthony has to undertake a continuous delicate balancing act. He doesn’t want to publish things that are obviously pseudo-science, but then he doesn’t want to exclude things that might be right … plus sometimes he wants to publish things that he knows are wrong simply so that their errors can be publicly identified. Does he make mistakes in the choices at times? Of course. It’s a tough job, and it is a job that no one individual could possibly be qualified to do, for a simple reason—nobody is as smart as the collective wisdom of the crowd. There’s no way to guess what errors a thousand readers might find in a piece that you or I might think is flawless. And there’s also no way to identify the odd and curious scientific claim that in a few years might be “settled science”.

So Anthony has to pick and choose, and not every choice is right … so what? Since the public falsification of bad science is essential to scientific progress, I find the idea that WUWT is not a science site because it sometimes posts shaky claims to be very parochial and short-sited. Private secret peer-review has obviously failed. In fact, many of the ridiculously bad “science” claims discussed at WUWT are peer-reviewed studies published in the most prestigious journals … but nobody can get that kind of nonsense past the kind of public peer review which is exemplified by WUWT. There are too many smart, insightful, capable people commenting on the posts for much to slip by …

So yes, WUWT does publish some obviously bad science, including obviously bad peer-reviewed science. But what some people fail to understand is, public falsification is the heart of science … and the only way to do that is to start by publishing and discussing that science, whether it is “good” or “bad”, and whether or not it’s already been peer-reviewed. In any case, those three reasons are why I think that the Jarreau results are so out of touch with reality.

Je suis Charlie? Then challenge the Islamophobia industry | Brendan O’Neill | spiked

If Europe really wants to pay tribute to the journalists and cartoonists massacred in Paris last week, it could do worse than ditch the term ‘Islamophobia’. For this empty, cynical, elitist phrase, this multicultural conceit, has done an untold amount to promote the idea that ridiculing other people’s beliefs and cultures is a bad thing. In fact, the widely used but little thought-on i-word has pathologised the very act of making a judgement. It has turned the totally legitimate conviction that some belief systems are inferior to others into a swirling, irrational fear — a phobia — worthy of condemnation and maybe even investigation by officials. That those two gunmen thought Charlie Hebdo’s ‘Islamophobic’ cartoonists deserved punishment isn’t surprising — after all, they grew up on a continent, Europe, that is so riven by relativism, so allergic to making moral judgements, that even saying ‘Islamic values are not as good as Enlightenment values’ is now treated as evidence of a warped, sinful mind, as a crime, effectively.

The Runnymede report makes clear the key concern of those who invented the idea of Islamophobia: that it is wrong to be judgmental about non-Western values or to elevate the West’s way of life over other people’s ways of life. As this defining document puts it, one sure sign of ‘Islamophobia’ is a view of Islam as ‘inferior to the West’. Those who speak of a ‘clash of civilisations’ contribute to the climate of Islamophobia, it said. In order to challenge Islamophobia, Runnymede suggested to the cliques of academics, coppers and officials it sent its report to that they should encourage people to understand that Islam is ‘distinctively different, but not deficient’ and is ‘as equally worthy of respect [as Western values]’. Furthermore, it said, we brave warriors against Islamophobia must challenge the idea that Islam’s criticisms of the West are without foundation and should instead encourage people to consider and embrace ‘[Islam]’s criticism of “the West” and other cultures’.
What we have here is not any traditional campaign against racism, launched by communities themselves and aimed at irrational prejudices; rather, this is a censorious assault on certain ways of thinking, on moral judgment itself, launched by the most upper echelons of Western society. In chastising the belief that Islam might not be as great as what are called Western values, but which are in fact the pretty universal values of democracy and liberty, and insisting that Islam is in fact worthy of ‘equal respect’, the Runnymede report was designed to promote relativism and self-censorship, not equality or social progress. The term Islamophobia, from the very outset, encapsulated even the act of saying ‘this way of life is better than that’ or ‘Islam is not a fantastic belief system’ — completely legitimate moral viewpoints, whether you agree or not.

But we must be free to blaspheme. And to ridicule. And, most importantly, to discuss and judge and discriminate between values we think are good and those we think are less good. Western societies will never rediscover their sense of purpose or mission, far less the Enlightenment spirit, so long as the very act of bigging up one’s own democratic and liberal values over the views of others is treated as tantamount to a speech crime. Je suis Charlie? Then challenge the very thing that contributed to the massacre of those Charlies: the stifling new culture of relativism and self-censorship that has given some people in Europe the foolish and dangerous idea that they have the right to go through life without ever hearing a sore word about their belief system. 

5 Things Every Young American Should Know About Politics - John Hawkins - Page full

5 Things Every Young American Should Know About Politics - John Hawkins - Page full
1) There is no free lunch: There is no such thing as “free” birth control, “free” community college, “free” health care or “free” anything else. Someone ALWAYS has to pay and if you’re not sure who that “someone” is, the person paying may be YOU. Even if you’re sure it’s not you this time, it may be you the next time, which is why people who work hard, play by the rules and take care of themselves run from “free” offers like a deer who catches sight of Ted Nugent off in the distance.

2) Politicians are interested in getting elected, not making your life better: There are well-meaning politicians who put the country first, but they’re about as common as professional athletes who eat dinner at McDonald’s every day. Politicians generally aren’t brave, they aren’t virtuous, they can be bought off, they often won’t do the right thing unless they’re being watched and they are not looking out for people like you. You wouldn’t leave your dog with people who think like that, but we’re trusting the fate of our nation to them.

3) Rarely does government ever "fix" problems: There’s always some politician promising to “solve” a problem, but as the great Thomas Sowell says, “There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs." As a practical matter, what that means is that when politicians move to “solve” a problem, they often create new problems that are just as bad as the ones they were trying to solve. Then they move to “solve” those problems and create more problems. After you rinse and repeat enough, you end up with the government micromanaging which bathrooms people use to make sure they’re “gender inclusive” enough.

4) People respond to incentives: Ever heard someone say, “Be careful what you wish for?” Well, you REALLY better be careful what you incentivize. In a nation of 316 million, there are people, sometimes millions of them, who will do just about every sort of crazy, self-destructive thing you can imagine if they get rewarded for doing it somehow. Changes in government policy can kill industries, change the culture for the worse and lead millions of formerly independent people to become slothful and dependent. Ah, but you’re probably thinking, “If incentives can create all of those bad outcomes, then think of all the GOOD we can do with them!” Well, that might be true except that…

5) Government isn’t a good; it’s a necessary evil: Government is inherently slow, stupid, inefficient, wasteful and dangerous. Moreover, it is, was, and will always be that way, no matter who’s in charge because that is the nature of the beast. Now combine that with power-hungry politicians and dead-eyed bureaucrats who feel entitled to force you to do things at gunpoint and you should be very wary of anyone telling you about all the wonderful things government can do. Whether the government is offering Americans something “free” or pointing a gun at our heads, we’re all better off with as little of it as possible in our lives.

Economic Lessons from Scandinavia - Daniel J. Mitchell - Townhall Finance Conservative Columnists and Financial Commentary - Page full

Economic Lessons from Scandinavia - Daniel J. Mitchell - Townhall Finance Conservative Columnists and Financial Commentary - Page full
In my younger years, I oftentimes would have arguments with statists who wanted me to believe that countries in Northern Europe like Sweden “proved” that generous welfare states were compatible with economic prosperity.

That doesn’t happen as often today because the Nordic nations in recent decades have not enjoyed rapid growth. Moreover, some of the nations – such as Sweden in the early 1990s and Iceland last decade – suffered from serious financial downturns.

So I stand by my position that free markets and small government are the recipe for prosperity.

Our first story is from the Washington Post, and it’s authored by a British journalist who lives in Denmark. He starts by noting the inordinate amount of praise these countries receive.


But he then points out that these is trouble in the Nordic paradise.


Now let’s look at our second story, which was published by the New York Post.

The tone is more negative, but it basically has the same message.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Seeing with reason | TribLIVE

Seeing with reason 

A frequent complaint about economics is that the failure of most economists to predict the 2008 financial crisis means that economics isn't really scientific.

It's true that most economists didn't predict the crisis, but the ability to make such specific predictions is not the hallmark of science. Many sciences — such as astronomy and chemistry — do make specific predictions, but not even all physical sciences specialize in such predictions. Biologists, for example, cannot predict what forms of life will be destroyed by natural selection and which will emerge to replace the defunct forms. The course of natural selection depends on far too many unforeseeable details and random events to enable biologists to predict which specific forms of life will perish and which will flourish over time.

Biologists can , though, make “if-then” predictions — such as, “ If the Earth's average temperature rises by 12 degrees Celsius over 20 million years, then the number of life forms suited to a warmer climate will grow relative to the number suited to a cooler climate.” This prediction is valid and instructive, yet vague. For starters, it avoids taking a stand on whether the Earth's temperature will rise. Second, it says nothing about the kinds of life that will emerge if the climate warms. Will the new creatures be mostly reptilian? Or will mammals thrive by shedding their body hair, by slowing their metabolisms or by any of dozens of other possible adaptations?

No biologist can answer such questions. Yet no one doubts that modern biology is a true science. Biology supplies a way of thinking that improves our understanding of reality. Biology enables us to understand what we observe around us, and in the fossil record, better than does any alternative explanation, such as biblical literalism.

And so it is with economics. Economics is a systematic way of thinking that improves our understanding, if not our ability to make specific predictions. The economist understands, for example, that raising the minimum wage makes low-skilled workers less profitable for employers to hire. Therefore, concludes the economist, the higher the minimum wage, the fewer and worse are the employment opportunities open to low-skilled workers.

The economist doesn't predict that hiking the minimum wage will necessarily cause an actual increase in the rate of unemployment of low-skilled workers. Rather, he reasons more modestly by pointing out that hiking the minimum wage worsens the employment prospects of low-skilled workers compared to what those prospects would be without a higher minimum wage. The economist understands that a modern economy is an astonishingly complex, dynamic and huge system in which changes in one part often offset or mask changes in another part.

Consider a physicist standing on a beach and observing feathers floating in thin air. This physicist would not conclude from her observation that feathers are immune to gravity. The physicist understands that gravity works on feathers no less than on steel anvils, but that this effect can be masked by other forces, such as wind. So, too, does the economist, upon observing that a higher minimum wage is not followed by higher measured unemployment, not conclude that a higher minimum wage inflicts no harm on low-skilled workers.

The good economist, in short, sees with his reason that which is often invisible to his eyes.

The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project

The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Bleg, and My Explanation of the Trading Game (With Implications for the Minimum Wage)

A Bleg, and My Explanation of the Trading Game (With Implications for the Minimum Wage)

Put five or six small, low-value items more or less randomly into several paper bags; one bag per student. Make sure, though, that there are differences in value among the items – for example, one item might be a tube of toothpaste, while another item is a wrapped piece of Godiva chocolate or an inexpensive flash drive. Then give a filled bag to each student. Ask the students to open their bags and then, on some numerical scale (say, one to ten), ask each student to rate his or her satisfaction (or happiness, or ‘utility’) with his or her bag. Take the numerical sum of the students’ answers.

Now allow the students a few minutes to trade. Trading isn’t required of any student, just allowed for each and every one who wishes do to so. There are no restrictions on the trading, other than that the trading should be only of things in the bags.

After the trading is completed, ask each of the students again to rate, on the same numerical scale, his or her satisfaction with his or her new bundle of items. Then sum the total of the students’ answers. Almost always the second sum will be greater than the first sum.

This fact is evidence that voluntary trading makes people better off.

You can drill down a bit further by asking, after the trading is completed, if any student assesses his or her bundle to be worse than before trading. Almost surely (unless you have smart-alecky students!) no one will assess his or her bundle to be worse after trading than it was before trading. So because the total sum is larger after trading than before trading, trading makes people as a group better off: at least some people are better off with no one being worse off. (If, in your course, you get into explanations of Pareto-moves, you can explain that such trading moves the group closer to Pareto optimality.)

Also, you can, when you fill the bag, make sure that one or two (no more than two) of the bags are filled with an especially large number of the highest-valued items (for example, Godiva bars, flash drives, or $10 gift cards to the movie theater). The students who get these bags will be the ‘wealthy’ ones. And the greater is the difference in the value of the ‘wealthy’ bags from that of the majority run-of-the-mill bags, the less likely it is that the students who get these ‘wealthy’ bags will be active traders. This fact shows that trade is not necessarily an activity that benefits the wealthy; trade is even more important for the not-wealthy.

Of course, on the other side of this phenomenon, if you fill one or two bags only with especially low-value or even worthless stuff, you’ll find that the students who get these ‘poor’ bags also do little or no trading, the reason being that these students have little of value to begin with to offer to others. So while the trading of the other students will not make these ‘poor’ students worse off, it provides no opportunities for them to make themselves better off.* One lesson to draw here is that having something of some value to trade to others is vitally important. In the real-world, even the poorest person almost always has something of this nature – namely, his or her ability to work for others.

So you might point out here that a government policy that strips poor people of any valuable asset that they might have – most relevantly, government policies, such as minimum-wage legislation, that rob poor people of the ability to sell their unskilled labor services at wages that are attractive to others – excludes the poorest people from the market and keeps them poorer than they would otherwise be.

* A really sophisticated twist at this point would be to have all the students, both before and after trading, publicly display their bundles. If after trading the ‘poor’ students lower their subjective evaluations of their unchanged bundles of goods, then one conclusion might be that trading that makes some, but not everyone, materially better off might make the poorest worse off ‘emotionally’ by inciting in them a sense of envy of the better, or improving, fortunes of others.

'No' Is a Woman's Most Powerful Word - Bloomberg View

'No' Is a Woman's Most Powerful Word - Bloomberg View

Whether or not "no means no" might have been adequate to prevent the problems of date rapes behind the sock hop, it was not adequate to all the difficulties we faced. My generation drank more than our mothers had, so that women were more frequently incapable of saying no, or much of anything else. There were no parietal rules to keep us out of each other's rooms, or force us to come home at an early hour. Nor could we fall back on "nice girls don't"; we had to refuse this specific man each time, not on the grounds that some external force was stopping us, but because we simply didn't want to have sex with him. That's an uncomfortable conversation, and modern though we may be, most of us still hated uncomfortable conversations, especially if we'd had a few and just wanted to go to sleep.

I'm not calling for a return to single-sex dorms, curfew rules, and the presumption that "nice girls don't." I'm just pointing out that these things gave our mothers an easy way to say "no" that didn't have to be explained or defended, and wouldn't be taken as a specific rejection of this person right in front of you. We were chanting a slogan designed for a world that no longer existed. In the world where we lived, it required an assertiveness and a confident self-knowledge that a lot of 19-year-old girls found hard to muster. It required actions we weren't always willing to take, like loudly saying "no," and leaving if he persisted. In other words, it left us vulnerable, though not in the same way that our mothers had been.
I understand what Dominus is trying to do, but I don't think it will work. Twenty-five years after I registered for college, we're still searching for an alternative to the stark simplicity of "No." And unfortunately, there's just no substitute. If you want to "teach men not to rape" -- a formulation that floated around the Internet a lot in the days after the Rolling Stone story was published -- then you need to give them a rule that can be clearly articulated, and followed even if you've had a few.

That's why "no means no" worked so well, even if it wasn't perfect. It's a heuristic that even a guy who's been sucking at the end of a three-story beer funnel can remember and put into practice. The rule obviously needed some refinement, by adding other equally clear rules -- like "if she's stumbling drunk or vomiting, just pretend she said no, because she's not legally capable of consent." But the basic idea, of listening to what the woman is saying, not some super-secret countersignals you might think she is sending, is exactly the sort of rule that we need in the often-confusing, choose-your-own-adventure world of modern sexual mores.

Compare that with "we're in the red zone." What does that mean? It seems to me that a guy can take this one of two ways: either as "no," or as something less than "no," something which means that there's still hope and he should consider asking again in 15 minutes. If it means "less than no, but maybe more than yes," then we haven't fixed things; we've just added another layer of confusion.
But even a good rule needs good women to make it work: proud of our decisiveness, confident in our right to self-determination, courageous enough to bear the awkwardness of disappointing those who badly want what we don't want to give. Women need to learn "no" not just to protect themselves from aggressive men in the bedroom, but also to make themselves more powerful in the world outside. We need to embrace "no" in all areas of life, and teach men to expect to hear it from us more often. We need to insist on our own right to have opinions about everything, and to have our opinions count for just as much as a man's do.

So we need to tell men "no means no," and that fierce punishment will follow any violation of this simple rule. But we women also need to tell them "I mean no," not "we're in the red zone" or "I shouldn't -- I have an early class tomorrow." Most important, however, is what we need to tell women: that the power of "no" is their inalienable birthright, and that those who are given such great gifts have an obligation to use them.

Friday, January 09, 2015

The Daily Bell - Victims Frantically Search For Offense

The Daily Bell - Victims Frantically Search For Offense

Microaggression. The word may soon be knocking on your door to demand supplication or another form of payment. Microaggression is the new politically correct campaign being launched by "disadvantaged" elites who are running out of even vaguely real transgressions to complain about.

What You Can Expect to Be Accused Of

Microaggression is unintended discrimination that demeans the "disadvantaged" even if the perpetrator does not intend to do so and is well-meaning. Coined in 1970 by Harvard psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce, it described unconscious racial insults delivered by whites to minorities. An example is a white teacher who asks a black student if he needs help with a math problem.

The concept includes micro-insults or insensitive communication such as asking an Asian coworker where she comes from; the question allegedly suggests she is a foreigner and not a true American. It also includes micro-invalidations that negate the feelings or reality of a black, such as speaking well of Southern cooking; the comment allegedly suggests an approval of past slavery. These behaviors lead to micro-inequities; the behaviors are conveyed through unconscious messages that allegedly devalue the "disadvantaged" in the subtle communication of facial expressions, gestures, tone, word choice, nuance and syntax.

In 1973, MIT economist Mary Rowe expanded Pierce's term to focus on discrimination against women. A classic example of microaggression against women is using the pronoun "he" to indicate people in general when it is also a gender-specific term. Merely substituting the pronoun "she," however, is microaggression as well because it sweeps the insult of the original situation under the rug.

The "disadvantaged" now include racial minorities, women, sexual minorities, the poor, the disabled ... that is, any group considered to be marginalized. It includes almost everyone but white males or any white female who disagrees with political correctness.

Who You Can Expect to Accuse You

A predictable vector of transmission is PC feminism. And, as with the current gender insanity, it will begin on campuses. In fact, it already has. But seeing microaggression in everyone everywhere is not limited to feminists.

In 2013, Prof. Van Rust was fired from UCLA due to microaggressions against black students. Susan Kruth of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education reported (Jan 8, 2014), "Rust's alleged offenses comprise his seemingly typical feedback on students' work. As demonstration leader ... Kenjus Watson argued, Rust created a hostile climate in his class by, among other things, correcting "perceived grammatical choices that in actuality reflect ideologies." Another of the alleged microaggressions appears to be that Rust required students to use The Chicago Manual of Style ..." In other words, he insisted that university students use the standard spelling and grammar they would need in professional life.

On December 5, Princeton University students set up a "Tiger Microaggressions" service through which students can anonymously report and publish microaggressions. The page calls this form of discrimination "papercuts of oppression" that are "small but slice deep." The National Review (Dec. 11, 2014) quoted the service operators as saying "microaggressions are all around us" and literally anything can qualify as a microaggression because "there are no objective definitions to words and phrases."

As a columnist for the Miami Herald commented (Dec. 29), "So if I write, The sky is blue you are perfectly within your rights to assume that what I actually meant is, 'Everybody but white guys should writhe in Hell for all eternity'. Because, really, who's to say?" His example may sound extreme ... but it is not because there is no reductio ad absurdum possible with political correctness.

That became clear in a column by microaggression advocate Jessica Valenti in The Guardian (Dec. 10) in which she claims to love everything about Christmas. Except one thing. Gender oppression makes her responsible for wrapping presents for family and loved ones. While women are being trafficked in Africa, raped in Afghanistan, killed for 'honor' and having acid thrown in their face, the gender oppression of Western women devolves to being surrounded by what Valenti says is a loving family who hopes you wrap your presents to them. That expectation, in her own words, makes Christmas into "a godd*mn clusterf**k."

Why the Utter Madness?

A seeming simply question, the answer is multi-layered. Addressing just two aspects of the madness:

1) "There are no objective definitions to words and phrases." Without becoming philosophical or providing details, this statement comes from the belief that there is no reality whatsoever beyond what is constructed by the culture through its language, texts, history, assumptions of biological sexuality, philosophy, legal theory, etc. Objectivity and conclusions through reason and evidence do not exist; only the subject narrative presented by voices exists. In order to radically change society, it is necessary to deconstruct the current narrative and replace it with a desirable one; it is necessary for their voices to be the ones that are heard. The deconstructionist approach dates back to the postmodern philosopher Jacques Derrida and has been adopted in a wholesale, cartoon version by gender feminism.

2) Politically-correct victims are desperate to preserve their own victimhood. In terms of gender feminism, this means preserving the myth of the "rape culture"; this is a culture that so profoundly encourages rape, "rape" becomes the one word defining the culture. This may be an appropriate description of Afghanistan but it is palpably untrue of North America. In order to sustain the myth, therefore, it is necessary to define more and more innocuous behavior as sexual assault so that words, attitudes and other non-violence become assault. Equally, in order to sustain the myth that the "disadvantaged" are being constantly victimized, it is necessary to define more and more innocuous behavior as acts of violence. Or, even worse, the need for definition is being trashed and a victim now self-defines him- or herself by an entirely subjective standard.

As insane and vicious as it seem to reasonable and decent people, micro-aggression is the new cutting edge of political correctness and its subset of gender feminism.


The claim of microaggression is a justification for censorship and social control. To advocates, the slightest hint of insult becomes evidence of epidemic oppression in society. What you say, what you don't say, when you do not show up either to speak or stay silent ... all of these can be evidence of microaggression. That is, as long as the act or non-act is committed by a white male or by someone who disagrees with the PC theory of victimhood.

The actual oppression occurs, of course, when micro-victims band together and harm those who have been "constructed" as oppressors, as they harmed Prof. Van Rust for requiring proper grammar. Those targeted by the micro-warriors are the true victims. And the self-righteous crusade of the privileged masquerading as the oppressed will continue until one thing happens. Individuals (especially white males) need to stop feeling guilty for their innocuous acts and non-acts. They must stop apologizing for the whiteness of their skin, their genitalia, their system of belief ... Individuals must stop apologizing for the hubris of peacefully occupying space on the planet.

Your guilt is the main weapon wielded by the politically correct. Take it away.

Monday, January 05, 2015

On Trigger Warnings | AAUP

On Trigger Warnings | AAUP

A current threat to academic freedom in the classroom comes from a demand that teachers provide warnings in advance if assigned material contains anything that might trigger difficult emotional responses for students. This follows from earlier calls not to offend students’ sensibilities by introducing material that challenges their values and beliefs. The specific call for “trigger warnings” began in the blogosphere as a caution about graphic descriptions of rape on feminist sites, and has now migrated to university campuses in the form of requirements or proposals that students be alerted to all manner of topics that some believe may deeply offend and even set off a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) response in some individuals. Oberlin College’s original policy (since tabled to allow for further debate in the face of faculty opposition) is an example of the range of possible trigger topics: “racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression.” It went on to say that a novel like Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart might “trigger readers who have experienced racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide and more.” It further cautioned faculty to “[r]emove triggering material when it does not contribute directly to the course learning goals.”


The presumption that students need to be protected rather than challenged in a classroom is at once infantilizing and anti-intellectual. It makes comfort a higher priority than intellectual engagement and—as the Oberlin list demonstrates—it singles out politically controversial topics like sex, race, class, capitalism, and colonialism for attention. Indeed, if such topics are associated with triggers, correctly or not, they are likely to be marginalized if not avoided altogether by faculty who fear complaints for offending or discomforting some of their students. Although all faculty are affected by potential charges of this kind, non-tenured and contingent faculty are particularly at risk. In this way the demand for trigger warnings creates a repressive, “chilly climate” for critical thinking in the classroom.

Our concern extends to academic libraries, the repositories of content spanning all cultures and types of expression. We think the statement of the American Library Association regarding “labeling and rating systems” applies to trigger warnings. “Prejudicial labels are designed to restrict access, based on a value judgment that the content, language, or theme of the material, or the background or views of the creator(s) of the material, render it inappropriate or offensive for all or certain groups of users….When labeling is an attempt to prejudice attitudes, it is a censor’s tool.”classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression.” It went on to say that a novel like Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart might “trigger readers who have experienced racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide and more.” It further cautioned faculty to “[r]emove triggering material when it does not contribute directly to the course learning goals.”


Some discomfort is inevitable in classrooms if the goal is to expose students to new ideas, have them question beliefs they have taken for granted, grapple with ethical problems they have never considered, and, more generally, expand their horizons so as to become informed and responsible democratic citizens. Trigger warnings suggest that classrooms should offer protection and comfort rather than an intellectually challenging education. They reduce students to vulnerable victims rather than full participants in the intellectual process of education. The effect is to stifle thought on the part of both teachers and students who fear to raise questions that might make others “uncomfortable.”

The classroom is not the appropriate venue to treat PTSD, which is a medical condition that requires serious medical treatment. Trigger warnings are an inadequate and diversionary response. Medical research suggests that triggers for individuals can be unpredictable, dependent on networks of association. So color, taste, smell, and sound may lead to flashbacks and panic attacks as often as the mention of actual forms of violence such as rape and war. The range of any student’s sensitivity is thus impossible to anticipate. But if trigger warnings are required or expected, anything in a classroom that elicits a traumatic response could potentially expose teachers to all manner of discipline and punishment.

Instead of putting the onus for avoiding such responses on the teacher, cases of serious trauma should be referred to student health services. Faculty should, of course, be sensitive that such reactions may occur in their classrooms, but they should not be held responsible for them. Instead, as with other disabilities, a student diagnosed with PTSD should, in advance, agree on a plan for treatment with the relevant health advisors who, in some cases, may want to alert teachers to the presence of a trauma victim in their classroom. The Americans with Disabilities Act contains recommendations for reasonable accommodation to be made on an individual basis. This should be done without affecting other students’ exposure to material that has educational value.

It is probably not coincidental that the call for trigger warnings comes at a time of increased attention to campus violence, especially to sexual assault that is often associated with the widespread abuse of alcohol. Trigger warnings are a way of displacing the problem, however, locating its solution in the classroom rather than in administrative attention to social behaviors that permit sexual violence to take place. Trigger warnings will not solve this problem, but only misdirect attention from it and, in the process, threaten the academic freedom of teachers and students whose classrooms should be open to difficult discussions, whatever form they take.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

John H. Cochrane: An Autopsy for the Keynesians - WSJ

John H. Cochrane: An Autopsy for the Keynesians - WSJ

The land of John Maynard Keynes and Adam Smith is going with Smith.

Why? In part, because even in economics, you can’t be wrong too many times in a row.

Keynesians told us that once interest rates got stuck at or near zero, economies would fall into a deflationary spiral. Deflation would lower demand, causing more deflation, and so on.

It never happened. Zero interest rates and low inflation turn out to be quite a stable state, even in Japan. Yes, Japan is growing more slowly than one might wish, but with 3.5% unemployment and no deflationary spiral, it’s hard to blame slow growth on lack of “demand.”

Our first big stimulus fell flat, leaving Keynesians to argue that the recession would have been worse otherwise. George Washington’s doctors probably argued that if they hadn’t bled him, he would have died faster.

With the 2013 sequester, Keynesians warned that reduced spending and the end of 99-week unemployment benefits would drive the economy back to recession. Instead, unemployment came down faster than expected, and growth returned, albeit modestly. The story is similar in the U.K.

These are only the latest failures. Keynesians forecast depression with the end of World War II spending. The U.S. got a boom. The Phillips curve failed to understand inflation in the 1970s and its quick end in the 1980s, and disappeared in our recession as unemployment soared with steady inflation.

Still, facts and experience are seldom decisive in economics. Maybe Washington’s doctors are right. There are always confounding influences. Logic matters too. And illogic hurts. Keynesian ideas are also ebbing from policy as sensible people understand how much topsy-turvy magical thinking they require.

Hurricanes are good, rising oil prices are good, and ATMs are bad, we were advised: Destroying capital, lower productivity and costly oil will raise inflation and occasion government spending, which will stimulate output. Though Japan’s tsunami and oil shock gave it neither inflation nor stimulus, worriers are warning that the current oil price decline, a boon in the past, will kick off the dreaded deflationary spiral this time.

I suspect policy makers heard this, and said to themselves “That’s how you think the world works? Really?” And stopped listening to such policy advice.

Keynesians tell us not to worry about huge debts, or to default or inflate them away (but please, call it “restructuring” or “repairing balance sheets”). Even the Obama administration has ignored that advice, promising long-run solutions to the debt problem from day one. Europeans have centuries of memories of what happens to governments that don’t pay debts, or who need to borrow for a new emergency but have stiffed their creditors once too often. More debt? Nein danke!

In Keynesian models, government spending stimulates even if totally wasted. Pay people to dig ditches and fill them up again. By Keynesian logic, fraud is good; thieves have notoriously high marginal propensities to consume. That’s a hard sell, so stimulus is routinely dressed in “infrastructure” clothes. Clever. How can anyone who hit a pothole complain about infrastructure spending?

But people feel they’ve been had when they discover that the economics is about wasted spending, and infrastructure was a veneer to get the bill passed. And they smell a rat when they hear economic arguments shaded for partisan politics.

Stimulus advocates: Can you bring yourselves to say that the Keystone XL pipeline, LNG export terminals, nuclear power plants and dams are infrastructure? Can you bring yourselves to mention that the Environmental Protection Agency makes it nearly impossible to build anything in the U.S.? How can you assure us that infrastructure does not mean “crony boondoggle,” or high-speed trains to nowhere?

Now you like roads and bridges. Where were you during decades of opposition to every new road on grounds that they only encouraged suburban “sprawl”? If you repeat in your textbooks how defense spending saved the economy in World War II, why do you support defense cutbacks today? Why is “infrastructure” spending abstract or anecdotal, not a plan for actual, valuable, concrete projects that someone might object to?

Keynesians tell us that “sticky wages” are the big underlying economic problem. But why do they just repeat this story to justify inflation and stimulus? Why do they not advocate policies to undo minimum wages, labor laws, occupational licenses and other regulations that make wages stickier?

Inequality was fashionable this year. But no government in the foreseeable future is going to enact punitive wealth taxes. Europe’s first stab at “austerity” tried big taxes on the wealthy, meaning on those likely to invest, start businesses or hire people. Burned once, Europe is moving in the opposite direction. Magical thinking—that, contrary to centuries of experience, massive taxation and government control of incomes will lead to growth, prosperity and social peace—is moving back to the salons.

Yes, there is plenty wrong and plenty to worry about. Growth is too slow, and not enough people are working. Even supporters acknowledge that Dodd-Frank and ObamaCare are a mess. Too many people on the bottom are stuck in terrible education, jobless poverty, and a dysfunctional criminal justice system. But the policy world has abandoned the notion that we can solve our problems with blowout borrowing, wasted spending, inflation, default and high taxes. The policy world is facing the tough tradeoffs that centuries of experience have taught us, not wishing them away

The UVA Gang Rape that Wasn’t | National Review Online

The UVA Gang Rape that Wasn’t | National Review Online

(Follow link for embedded links in article.)
So I am having a hard time getting my head around something. All week people have been calling me a “rape apologist” and “pro-rape.” I’m being constantly informed that I don’t understand “rape culture.” These often hysterical accusations tend to come from people who seem to understand rape culture the same way some people understand the geopolitics of Westeros or Middle Earth: They’ve studied it, they know every detail about it, they just seem to have forgotten it doesn’t exist.

Now, hold on. I certainly believe rape happens. And I definitely believe we have cultural problems that lead to date rape and other drunken barbarisms and sober atrocities. But the term “rape culture” suggests that there is a large and obvious belief system that condones and enables rape as an end in itself in America. This simply strikes me as an elaborate political lie intended to strengthen the hand of activists. There’s definitely lots that is wrong with our culture, particularly youth culture and specifically campus culture. Sybaritic, crapulent, hedonistic, decadent, bacchanalian: choose your adjectives.

What is most remarkable about our problems is that they seem to take people by surprise. For instance, it would be commonsense to our grandmothers that some drunk men will do bad things, particularly in a moral vacuum, and that women should take that into account. I constantly hear that instead of lecturing women about their behavior we should teach men not to rape. I totally, completely, 100 percent agree that we should teach men not to rape. The problem is we do that. A lot. Maybe we should do it more. We also teach people not to murder -- another heinous crime. But murders happen too. That’s why we advise our kids to steer clear of certain neighborhoods at certain times and avoid certain behaviors. I’m not “pro-murder” if I tell my kid not to walk through the park at night and flash money around any more than I am pro-rape if I give her similar advice.

Tax Gallantry, Get Less Gallantry

Of course, the problem is that feminists want to expunge any notion that women are gentler and fairer. This requires declaring war on chivalric standards for male conduct, which were once a great bulwark against caddish and rapacious behavior. Take away the notion that men should be protective of women and they will -- surprise! -- be less protective of women.

None of this means we’d all be better off with women in corsets on fainting couches. (I like strong, assertive women so much I married one. I’m also the son of one, and I’m trying to raise another.) But somehow feminists have gotten themselves into the position of adopting the adolescent male’s fantasy of consequence-and-obligation-free sex as an ideal for women. Uncivilized and morally uneducated men have, for millennia, wanted to treat women like sluts. And now feminists have embraced the word as a badge of honor. Call me an old-fogey, but I think that’s weird.

What Rape Epidemic?

But I digress. As Roman Polanski said, let’s get back to the rape stuff. A lot of implausible things have to be true for rape culture to be the problem feminists claim it is. First, the statistics on forcible rape have to be really out of whack. Forcible rapes according to the FBI are heading towards a 40-year low. So there must be a lot of rapes going on that are not captured in those statistics. And there surely are. Some women understandably but lamentably don’t come forward. But for a “rape epidemic” and a “rape crisis,” never mind a “rape culture,” to exist there’d have to be more stigma against coming forward today than there was in the past. Anyone think that’s true? Anyone? I didn’t think so.

Oh, and if that is true, if the stigma against reporting sexual assaults is worse today than it was 40, 50, or 100 years ago, could there be a bigger indictment of the feminist project? The women’s-studies programs, the support groups and crisis centers, the public-education and sensitivity-training programs, movies like The Burning Bed and The Accused, the Lorena Bobbitt apologias and all those nights taken back: and women are now more scared to report being sexually assaulted? If that’s true, pack it up, ladies/womyn, and call it a day. You are complete and total failures. Collect your gold watches (or hemp tote bags) and walk off the public stage as we politely golf-clap your exit.

Jackie’s Tale

I probably should have said earlier why I am being called a “rape apologist.” I mean, if you didn’t know I’d written a column calling shenanigans on the Rolling Stone story about an alleged rape at UVA you might be understandably confused, even a little worried. (“Gosh, Jonah never seemed too rapey to me.”) If you haven’t read it you probably should so I don’t have to recap everything. I’ll wait.

So, basically, I simply don’t believe the Rolling Stone story is true. As I say in my column, I’m sure some of the author’s reporting is true. But I just don’t believe Jackie’s story as it’s told in the piece. I think the dialogue is absurd. I think the sequence of events is wildly implausible. And I think the overall picture the author paints is propagandistic, not reportorial. How often does a reporter set out to find the perfect horror story to advance her agenda and then, with remarkably little effort, have it handed to her? Again, I don’t just mean the rape allegation itself, but all that follows it. I’ll admit if the story was just of the rape itself I might have believed it longer, but the conversations among her “friends” is so convenient it sent the needle on my b.s. detector past the red zone into the fine print that reads “Bull**** Detector By Ronco. Patent Pending.” Here are some examples I couldn’t fit into my column. Remember, these are Jackie’s friends -- who believe she was gang raped and beaten for three hours:
“One of my roommates said, ‘Do you want to be responsible for something that’s gonna paint UVA in a bad light?’ ” says Jackie, poking at a vegan burger at a restaurant on the Corner, UVA’s popular retail strip. “But I said, ‘UVA has flown under the radar for so long, someone has to say something about it, or else it’s gonna be this system that keeps perpetuating!’”  Jackie frowns. “My friend just said, ‘You have to remember where your loyalty lies.’”

She was having an especially difficult time figuring out how to process that awful night, because her small social circle seemed so underwhelmed. For the first month of school, Jackie had latched onto a crew of lighthearted social strivers, and her pals were now impatient for Jackie to rejoin the merriment. “You’re still upset about that?” Andy asked one Friday night when Jackie was crying. Cindy, a self-declared hookup queen, said she didn’t see why Jackie was so bent out of shape. “Why didn’t you have fun with it?” Cindy asked. “A bunch of hot Phi Psi guys?”

I’m sorry, but those conversations didn’t happen. (One hint it didn’t happen is that if it did, a hole in the ground would open up, Satan would pop out in a swirl of sulfuric smoke, and tip his hat to Cindy.)

But don’t tell that to Diana Crandall (or, for that matter, “SluttySlutSlut1”). The LA Times, where an earlier version of my UVA column appeared, has a charming habit of rushing to post rebuttals of my columns as soon as possible. I really don’t mind -- it’s kind of a compliment and it’s actually a good idea in general. But the rebuttals, in my humble opinion, aren’t always that compelling. Enter Ms. Crandall.

I think her entire response to my column is fairly ridiculous, tendentious, and in relentless bad faith. But I’m not going to go point-by-point through her deliberate misreadings and non sequiturs. She works from the assumption that I have no personal experiences to support my view. Never mind that I’ve visited something like 100 campuses in the last decade or so (including UVA more than once). Never mind that, as I noted in the column, I talked to quite a few people in the UVA community before I wrote it. Never mind that I went to, and served on the board of trustees of, a college where feminism was The One True Faith. And never mind that my own experiences -- like hers -- are utterly irrelevant to whether or not the Rolling Stone story is true! Crandall & Co. hate the idea that the veracity of the story itself should be debated. What matters is the cause, not the details. So they shoot the messenger and change the subject.

I will say I loved the appeal to her own experience as a member of a coed fraternity. Apparently this gave her deep insights into rape culture. Um, ok. One question: If you learned so much about rape culture at this fraternity, why on earth did you stay a member?

But here’s the key point. Crandall writes:
Goldberg further shows his lack of familiarity with the problem of college rape when he calls the victim’s friends the “worst . . . imaginable” for not immediately reporting her brutal assault. Here, Goldberg fails to appreciate the very real fear of being chastised for reporting a rape. I’m not saying that the friends were right in not reporting it, and I’m not making a judgment on whether or not the assault happened. But it’s clear that Goldberg’s cultural distance from modern campus life and disregard of the social consequences of reporting an assault render him inadequate to judge the veracity of a rape allegation.

First of all, we aren’t talking about “a rape allegation” we are talking about this rape allegation. Crandall is simply wrong to say I can’t “appreciate the very real fear of being chastised for reporting a rape.” Her mind-reading skills notwithstanding, I can testify here and now that I can. What Crandall and countless others, including Sabrina Erdely, her editors, and their defenders can’t appreciate is that as onerous as the stigma on rape victims may or may not be, the stigma against rapists is worse.

No, really, it’s true. There’s a well-documented tendency for known or suspected -- and especially convicted -- rapists to be stigmatized. They’re shunned by polite society. They have trouble finding work. They often have to register as sex offenders and -- oh yeah -- they very often are sent to jail for very long periods of time. And this is as it should be.

But this fact is also why I am deeply skeptical of the story. Most of the UVA students I’ve met -- and I’ve met a lot -- are the sorts of kids who worry a lot about their permanent records. That makes sense; UVA is a truly great school with an impressive academic culture. And so while I can certainly believe sexual assaults and rapes happen there -- drunk and sober -- I simply cannot believe that nine men sat around soberly and plotted a brutal gang rape that would land them all in jail for decades -- never mind hinder their chances of working at Goldman Sachs! At least not as presented in Erdely’s story. Indeed, it wouldn’t just be nine men, because you can’t keep such plans a secret in a fraternity when the rape is an initiation ritual. You need to make sure all of the kids are down with committing a heinous felony. You need to make sure they all know where to wait to commit the deed. And you need to make sure no one blabs to that one guy who isn’t totally and completely down with “rape culture.” That requires conversations, lots of conversations. And lots of conversations make secrets hard to keep.

What baffles and infuriates me is that I am supposed to be pro-rape and a rape apologist because I want to get to the truth. If this story is true, these men (and, frankly, the dean) should go to jail. The whole fraternity should be prosecuted for running a criminal enterprise. Honestly, as a matter of justice I’d have no problem seeing Drew hang. Meanwhile the heroic enemies of rape and rape culture are outraged that anyone would want these men exposed and brought to justice. That’s bananas.

I understand why most of the debate in the press about the Rolling Stone piece is about journalistic ethics. That’s fine. But my complaint isn’t that she didn’t talk to the alleged rapists. My complaint -- or at least my claim -- is that the story isn’t true. The fact she didn’t get quotes from the alleged rapists isn’t Erdely’s crime, it’s evidence of it.

When I wrote the “news”letter below, the news had not broken yet that Rolling Stone — and really the Washington Post — had confirmed what I believed all along: This story was bogus. My only regret is that I didn’t write the column a week earlier like I wanted. My immediate reaction to the story was “this is bull****.” But I didn’t want to write that without at least making some phone calls. Anyway, congrats to Richard Bradley and Robert Soave for beating me to the punch. And congratulations to Phi Kappa Psi; usually it takes a little longer to be vindicated, when it happens at all. I very much hope you sue Rolling Stone the way the Mongol Hordes attacked their enemies.

You see, I’m not a huge fan of fraternities, but I have the quaint view that when a major national publication falsely accuses an institution of being an organized criminal organization that specializes in ritual gang rape, they should be held accountable. It isn’t like Rolling Stone criticized a statistical hockey stick — if you know what I’m saying — they reported (and defended their reporting) to the whole world that this fraternity is an institutional rape gang.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Minimum wage research

Further research, by Thomas MaCurdy and forthcoming in the Journal of Political Economy, on the minimum-wage.

Abstract: The efficacy of minimum wage policies as an antipoverty initiative depends on which families benefit from the increased earnings attributable to minimum wages and which families pay for these higher earnings. Proponents of these policies contend that employment impacts experienced by low-wage workers are negligible and, therefore, these workers do not pay. Instead proponents typically suggest that consumers pay for the higher labor costs through imperceptible increases in the prices of goods and services produced by low-wage labor. Adopting this "best-case" scenario from minimum-wage advocates, this study projects the consequences of the increase in the national minimum wage instituted in 1996 on the redistribution of resources among rich and poor families. Under this scenario, the minimum wage increase acts like a value-added or sales tax in its effect on consumer prices, a tax that is even more regressive than a typical state sales tax. With the proceeds of this national value-added tax collected to fund benefits, the 1996 increase in the minimum wage distributed the bulk of these benefits to one in four families nearly evenly across the income distribution. Far more poor families suffered reductions in resources than those who gained. As many rich families gained as poor families. These income transfer properties of the minimum wage document its considerable inefficiency as an antipoverty policy.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

The Self-Enforcing Nature of the Old Moral Code — It’s Gone

If it's too late to get it back, what do we do now, “rape crisis” and all?

By William Murchison – 12.12.14

Yeah, yeah, I’m I’m olllllld. I know and confess it. I remember the Kennedy assassination. I remember when all the guys wore coat and tie at college football games. I remember when the New York Times could be characterized as more or less a pro-American institution.

I mean, look — I even recall when a kind of moral consensus about sex, and sexual relationships, denied the likes of Rolling Stone magazine and Lena Dunham the privilege of whomping up national crusades against the Predatory Male.

We no longer have that consensus. But, boy, do we have Lena Dunham. And Taylor Swift. And the president of the United States — to sound the alarm about the male multitudes who view women as disposable playthings, fit for ravaging at will. Presently, America’s rape “crisis,” as we’re probably supposed to call it, vies with CIA torture and Obamacare for Topic of the Moment status.

I intend to lay down a marker for present purposes. The topic of how real, and how widespread, the crisis may be — if it’s a crisis at all — has attracted so many disputants on both sides that I think it better to hang back on that question. The frequently heard assertion that nearly one in five American women has been raped in her lifetime strikes me as grossly overblown, and anyway how would one know such a thing as that?

Well, we do know the male thirst for sexual satisfaction, whether carried out with the cooperation of women or against their will, is not trending on Twitter. That might be called, in theological terms, a consequence of the Fall — the splashy descent of newly created humanity into sustained misbehavior. Oh, you don’t believe in all that religious twaddle? Fine. Around here we protect the right of belief. The point to keep in mind is the timelessness of lust, whether perpetrated out of unconquerable desire or out of (as is widely believed nowadays) the hope for imperial conquest. I take it that understanding requires no spiritual affirmation.

Society figured out the problem long ago. It concocted rules. The rules, a subset of enactments under the moral law, said, hold it: a woman isn’t to be forced; coaxed, that was different (though not necessarily OK). That was because the rules recognized unchecked lust, and the brutality surrounding it — war evidenced these traits in ghastly form — as counter to the purposes of civilized society. You couldn’t have the powerful (men) working their will on the less powerful (women) without major harm to human dignity and social peace. It was a bit like empowering kings and emperors to do as they liked, without responsibility to anyone, least of all their victims. Unchecked power over others would destroy not only the others but the destroyers themselves in the end.

A particular problem arose in the context of unchecked power over women — power unrestrained by love or pity, either one. The woman was — is — the other half of the human race, her responsibilities and pleasures congruent with the responsibilities and pleasures of the other half. The two halves met as one whole, and thrived, or failed to thrive, as they recognized their mutual dependence.

The moral law, its features reframed a bit in every age, held that the mothers and wives on whom depended so much that was good and vital, were owed by the society in which they lived a due measure of respect, and of freedom from unmerited injury.

And they all lived happily ever after… yes? Not quite. We know this. The reason for rules in the first place is the human instinct for self-aggrandizement and the resulting need for boundaries. Rape we’ve always had, the breaking of rules being a feature of the human landscape. At least there were rules. These stayed in place in Western civilization for centuries. They were still around at the time of the Kennedy assassination, and in the days when the New York Times could be counted on for more-than-occasional commendations of America’s purposes and methods.

Those would be the times I remember myself — when the idea of a “rape crisis,” had such a notion been broached, would have sounded incredible. Some powerful institutions stood in the way of such a crisis. There was the family, first of all —the major teaching institution in any country and age. There were bad families aplenty, and broken ones; there were seemingly, even so, more good ones than bad, with two married parents under the roof, working to some degree or other to make sure the rules were understood and enforced. The schools backed them up, both parents and rules. Around the time of the Kennedy assassination, the colleges that some see now as the center of the rape culture stood firm for the doctrine of in loco parentis. The college authorities, that is, stood in for the parents who had entrusted to them the care of precious Johnny and Susie.

There were — imagine it! — rules. And dorms reserved for one sex or the other but not both at the same time. Curfews curtailed the nocturnal activities of women students, for whom the “house mothers” were always keeping an eye open on weeknights and weekends alike. What a sight at curfew hour — passionate good-nights; often enough breezy farewells. (A lot of girls from that era saw curfew as blessed deliverance from a dull, never-to-be-repeated date.)

A signal virtue of the old moral code was its self-enforcing nature. No kidding. There existed what we might call internal restraints: matters of I-really-shouldn’t-do-this. Not everybody owned or exercised such restraints, but they were out there in the general environment, and if you yourself didn’t possess an ample supply your friends might; likelier, your parents would. Parents — you remember; the villains whom the Yippie prankster Jerry Rubin urged you facetiously to “kill” lest they squash your delicate ambitions to express the inner you.

What the self-enforcing nature of the moral code meant was that cops and courts rarely involved themselves in personal matters. Citizens in our land of the free enjoyed entitlement to what is now a rare commodity — trust: a trust broken sometimes, of course, after the manner of fallen man, but not so often as to set university presidents by their ears over frat parties.

It was assumed that, if left generally alone, we would —under the promptings of the moral code — conduct ourselves responsibly enough to let the authorities focus on murder, robbery, and, yes, rape. Not the kind of rape — drunken, overbearing — Lena Dunham makes a centerpiece in her best-selling (if undocumented) account of a hard upbringing; rather, the kind of rape — cruel, vicious — for which government until fairly recently allowed the death penalty. Society, I mean to say, had the innate capacity to draw important behavioral distinctions, and to judge and act accordingly. Not anymore, it seems.

What happened is Question No. 1. A lot of things happened. Being old, I lay particular blame on events of years ago summed up in the rubric of “the counterculture.” The explosive content and consequences of the youth rebellion, c. 1964-1971, have never been adequately measured, it seems to me. Repeated blasts, each one larger than the last, blew down the front doors of the old culture with its rules and regulations: scattering authority figures from deans to parents who were “always telling people what to do;” suppressing joyous passion and the aspirations of oppressed classes — not only blacks but, as the story went, women eager to make their own decisions, live their own lives. The passions of the time quickly overflowed. There had been no culture of rape, 21st century style, in the era that mourned John F. Kennedy. The culture grew slowly; it battened on the new freedoms of the time. Who cared about old rules? Old dead people cared — that was who; dead mentally, dead emotionally, or just plain dead and buried.

And now what? That would be the second question. Enter the authorities, with sheaves of programs and recommendations. President Obama declared in April 2012 that “We must do more to raise awareness about the realities of sexual assault; confront and change insensitive attitudes wherever they persist…” A year later Obama signed the third reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act — a measure attributed to the vision and inspiration of Senator, now Vice President, Joe Biden.

The compass of this now 20-year-old act is predictably spacious. As Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s right-hand woman, noted with satisfaction: “[T]housands of women and men…who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking will be able to access resources they need in their communities to help heal from their trauma. In addition, thousands of law enforcement officers will be better equipped to stop violence before it starts, and respond to calls of help when they are needed.”

As for campus rape: “[O]ne in five women will be the victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault while they [sic] are in college…This act will help by requiring colleges and universities to provide information to students about dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking and improve data collection about these crimes. We call on all of our colleges and universities to make ending sexual assault a top priority.”

Well, that should take care of it! If not, the act reposes authority for violence prevention in an office of the Justice Department. And, thanks to another of the president’s now-famous executive orders, the National Dating Abuse Helpline now has federal funds for digital service. Nor should we overlook creation of a White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault: the last nail, we may assume, in the coffin of Unrestrained Male Lust.

Or maybe not. What recent events on the rape front reveal — among other things, all of them bad or dispiriting — is the distance American culture has traveled since the Kennedy assassination. The freedoms so eagerly grasped in the ’60s turn out not to be so liberating after all. Yes, men and women students can live in the same dorms, if not the same rooms, and stay out all night if they like, and drink themselves insensible, and tell deans of student life and house moms (if any there still are) to take a hike, we’re in charge of our own lives now. Do these varied rights and privileges make life objectively better? That proposition would be hard to establish and maintain. We certainly didn’t talk about date rape, frat house rape, dorm rape — the whole catalog of current excesses — back when mom and dad conspired in the cause of maintaining insofar as possible certain well-established moral principles; e.g., your date — a fellow human being — is your responsibility, not your plaything. The practical essence of the old moral code was respect for others. They were entitled to it. So were you. Under that canopy of understanding you worked out and adjusted behaviors.

Plenty of slips and falls there were. That’s the nature of human beings, a tribe generally informed as to the nature of right and wrong, yet beset by temptations of all kinds: personal, financial, professional, sexual. The moral code observed in most particulars up to the past half-century or so helped keep the lid on. Better a code hitting on five out of eight cylinders than on none at all.

Ironically, the feminist quest for power and privilege, in the very act of liberating women from former expectations, ripped from their hands some of the old protections: respect based on admiration as well as friendship, and expectation of fruitfulness, not to mention abiding love, in the man/woman relationship.

Yeah, well, lemme tell you about my husband (or dad or brother or uncle), a genuinely aggrieved woman may reply to such an assertion. Lemme tell you, Mister, about the nights he came home drunk and…and…

We need not ignore such disturbing narratives, with their component of truth. We need them most of all in some sense to remind us of the futility of expecting laws and regulations and federal grants and Valerie Jarrett memos to smooth out male-female relationships and build up the respect that must flow from man to woman and woman to man. The restoration of the old moral code is the proper work for men and women who hope to cure this age’s varied infirmities. It is likewise the hardest possible work.

The Christian and Jewish religions were formerly fundamental to the task of affirming the mutual duties of men and women — partners in service to God in His world. Religion, if not yet flat on its back, no longer commands even the curiosity it once enjoyed.

A moral code — to what end? That would be a modern-sounding query. Why not, instead, Acts of Congress? (Based on whose perceptions of right and wrong?) Why not police lineups and arrest warrants? (Enforcing whose perceptions of right and wrong?)

Why not Valerie Jarrett and Joe Biden? Ah, forgot — they’ll both be elsewhere in a couple of years. What does that leave us with, seen or unseen, to maintain the tricky balance between the responsibilities (how’s that for a musty old word?!) whose fulfillment makes civilization possible?

The question dangles, unanswered, in the air of the 21st century.