Saturday, June 25, 2016
Academic Fascism: Bias Incident Reporting
The University of Northern Colorado (UNC) appears to have investigated two professors for asking students to simply consider all sides of the debate over today’s most controversial political and social issues. The investigations were prompted by student complaints made through UNC’s “Bias Response” system, which encourages students to file online reports of any “offensive classroom environment” to administrators, who may then intervene with the theoretically offending faculty.This is a stunning violation of academic freedom. Campus bureaucrats telling a professor what he or she may say in class is outrageous. It would be out of bounds if a biased professor was told be more balanced. Telling a professor engaged in a balanced discussion to stifle discussion because somebody might hear something they dislike goes beyond outrageous.
The Bias Response Team’s reports are troubling—both in sheer quantity, and substance.
According to UNC documents obtained by Heat Street under Colorado’s Open Records Act, a professor asked his students to read The Atlantic’s “The Coddling of the American Mind” (co-authored by FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff). The piece warns that the growing institutionalization of aversion to presenting views that students may find offensive or disagreeable deprives students of the opportunity to confront views they disagree with. The professor engaged students in a discussion about opposing viewpoints on, among other things, transgender issues, prompting one student to file a Bias Incident Report with university administrators. As characterized in the student’s complaint, the professor argued that “transgender is not a real thing, and no one can truly feel like they are born in the wrong body.”
The Bias Response Team contacted the professor, who responded that he was simply playing devil’s advocate to encourage a discussion amongst his students. University administrators encouraged him to avoid doing so:
A member of the Bias Response Team met with the professor, the report says, and “advised him not to revisit transgender issues in his classroom if possible to avoid the students expressed concerns.” The Bias Response Team also “told him to avoid stating opinions (his or theirs) on the topic as he had previously when working from the Atlantic article.”
The article goes on:
In another incident report, the Bias Response Team noted a “conversation” with a professor who encouraged students to question rhetoric about gay rights, assigning students to take a position and debate it in class. Heat Street summarized the encounter using the Bias Response Team’s notes:This is pure, distilled politically correct intolerance. A gay student claims he has an “underprivileged identity” and therefore should be protected from hearing arguments he does not like. He claims that his “personhood” is being challenged if he merely hears people disputing one of his favored public policies.
“Specifically there were two topics of debate that triggered them and personally felt like an attack on their identity (GodHatesFags.com: is this harmful? Is this acceptable? Is this Christianity? And Gay Marriage: should it be legal? Is homosexuality immoral as Christians suggest?)”
The student, whose name is redacted and who is referred to as “they” in the report, complained that “other students are required to watch the in-class debate and hear both arguments presented.”
“I do not believe that students should be required to listen to their own rights and personhood debated,” the student wrote. “[This professor] should remove these topics from the list of debate topics. Debating the personhood of an entire minority demographic should not be a classroom exercise, as the classroom should not be an actively hostile space for people with underprivileged identities.
In the first place, gays are not an “underprivileged identity” on a modern university campus. They are a petted and pandered to minority, even at a supposed Catholic university like Marquette. But protecting the supposedly tender sensibilities of gays (or any other politically correct victim group) is to educate them poorly. It implies they will never learn to intellectually engage arguments they disagree with, but only whine and complain and demean the people who make those arguments.
This mentality is common at Marquette. It was shown when a Philosophy instructor told a student he could not disagree with gay marriage because that would be “homophobic” and would “offend” any gay students in class. When the student complained to Marquette, he was greeted with hostility. The instructor, one Cheryl Abbate, not only was not admonished or reprimanded for her behavior, she was told that the student was the problem. When we reported this misconduct on this blog, Marquette began trying to fire us.
And when an alumnus named Aaron Ledesma chimed in with an essay insisting that opposition to gay marriage ought to be banned at Marquette, the university “liked” the Tweet.
Marquette’s PolicyIt won’t surprise readers to know that Marquette has a Bias Incident Reporting system. Marquette has everything that politically correct universities have these days. Marquette defines a “bias incident” as follows:
A bias incident is any discriminatory or hurtful act that appears to be motivated or is perceived by the victim or victims to be motivated by race, ethnicity, religion, age, national origin, sex, disability, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, veteran or socioeconomic status. To be considered a bias incident, the act is not required to be a crime under any federal, state or local statutes. [emphasis added]In the first place, an “act” can be a mere expression of opinion, and the mere “perception” that it is motivated by race, ethnicity, etc. is enough to make it a “bias incident.”
The Marquette statement is a bit vague about what happens when such a “bias incident” is reported, but it makes it clear that anybody who is reported could be in trouble.
Of course, real incidents of discrimination and harassment (but not mere differences of opinion) have always been something that could be reported to authorities at Marquette (and at any other university). But the current system resembles nothing so much as totalitarian political systems where authorities encourage citizens to rat out thoughts and ideas contrary to the orthodoxy of the regime.
And no, that is not hyperbole.
Labels: Aaron Jay Ledesma, Aaron Ledesma, Bias Incident, Bias Incident Reporting System, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Marquette University, Political Correctness, University of Northern Colorado
Thursday, June 23, 2016
It Ain’t that Hard to Figure Out, Lady
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Paul Ryan’s “Businessman” Opponent Has Done No Business
Now we find that Paul Nehlen, the “businessman” who is opposing Paul Ryan in the Republican primary, has a web page, but with no contact information. And his “business” appears to have no revenue, and no employees. This according to government records.
The key documents can be found here.
Ryan has angered some conservatives for being, as Speaker of the House, unable to seriously dent Obama policy initiatives. Of course, when you control the House, but lack a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and have a Democrat president, and are convinced that a government shutdown would be politically disastrous, there are limits to what you can do.
Trump supporters are likewise unhappy with Ryan’s tepid (at best) support for their guy. But if Nehlen is the best his critics can do, Ryan has little to fear.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
You Didn’t Hear That!
Do Democrats Really Oppose Gun Violence?
That didn’t take long. Right after Orlando, President Obama promised he would “spare no effort to determine what—if any—inspiration or association” had sent Omar Mateen on his murderous spree.Bottom line: when stopping violence collides with political correctness, Democrats will opt for political correctness.
Now, just one week later, his attorney general, Loretta Lynch, tried to have the Islamist “inspirations” and “associations” Mateen invoked scrubbed from the transcripts of the 911 calls released to the public—before being forced to back down on Monday. No one should be surprised. The impulse to edit out anything that confirms acts of terror are acts of war is fully consistent with standard operating procedure these past eight years.
And if Hillary Clinton is elected in November, it will be the same for the next four.
Like the president, Mrs. Clinton has used Orlando to relaunch the liberal offensive on the “gun lobby.” She promises “to do everything” to take “weapons of war off our streets.” She further calls for an “intelligence surge.”
Tough stuff, right? Unfortunately, the moment any of these efforts run up against political correctness, they will almost certainly collapse under liberal pressure. How do we know? There is no better example than the post-9/11 experience of New York under Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Mr. Kelly began his second stint as New York’s top cop on Jan. 1, 2002, when the city was still clearing debris from the Twin Towers. His charge looked impossible: Prevent another terror attack, and maintain the progress against gun violence begun under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
Over the next 12 years the finest police force in America did just that. In so doing, Mr. Kelly pulled off what President Obama and Hillary Clinton now claim are their post-Orlando priorities—a full-fledged assault on gun violence, and “smarter” policies to identify terrorists before they strike.
Here’s the rub. The secret to New York’s success wasn’t just Mr. Kelly. It was also Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Mr. Bloomberg was a liberal rarity, a pol who would not throw his cops under the bus when successful policies produced politically inconvenient results.
Start with guns. Under Mr. Kelly, police expanded a tactic known as stop-and-frisk. Here’s a better way to think about it: gun control for bad guys.
Cops would be proactive. When they spotted someone behaving suspiciously, he would be stopped, questioned and sometimes frisked. Often police found an illegal weapon.
The gun control was not limited to the thousands of guns taken off the streets this way. Because the bad guys knew they might be frisked, they started leaving their guns at home. New York became America’s safest big city.
How was this success greeted? The cops found themselves denounced as racists, because the stops of black men were disproportionate to their percentage of the general population (but not disproportionate to suspect descriptions). The activists sued; an anti-cop federal judge egged them on; and Bill de Blasio made “racial profiling” by police a key campaign point in his successful run for mayor in 2013.
Never mind that as a result of the NYPD’s approach, thousands of young black and Hispanic lives were saved.
Alas, it’s the same sad story for the cause of better intelligence. Under Mr. Kelly, police set up a demographics unit. The Associated Press would win a Pulitzer for a sensationalist series of stories falsely implying it was about blanket spying on Muslims. In fact, the unit was about getting smart—learning where, for example, terrorists such as the Tsarnaev brothers might look for shelter had they made it to New York (as they’d planned) after bombing the Boston marathon.
Or what about the 2007 NYPD report called “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat”? Here’s a sentence from the first paragraph of the executive summary: “Rather than being directed from al-Qaeda abroad, these plots have been conceptualized and planned by ‘unremarkable’ local residents/citizens who sought to attack their country of residence, utilizing al-Qaeda as their inspiration and ideological reference point.”
Substitute “ISIS” for “al-Qaeda” and these words today look prophetic.
So how did the liberal world react to this effort to smarten up? In January, the de Blasio administration agreed to pull the report from the NYPD website as part of a settlement with Muslim groups who had sued. Two years earlier the NYPD had disbanded the demographics unit, also after much litigation and pressure.
Indeed, the entire liberal push for gun control is the result of cultural bias. Liberals stereotype “gun nuts” as middle aged white males, living in rural areas, listening to country music, driving pickup trucks and voting Republican. Those are the gun owners least likely to actually shoot a person, but they are “the other” in the minds of the secular urban liberal elites.
On issues like this, liberals will sacrifice the welfare of ordinary black people to pursue an ideological agenda. They don’t like prisons, but their campaign against “mass incarceration” is a campaign to put on the street criminals who will mostly victimize black people. Likewise, their campaign against discipline in the nation’s schools inflicts little harm on kids in affluent suburbs.
This is the sort of thing that happens when the cultural biases of a group, and not sober policy analysis, drives their politics.
Saturday, June 18, 2016
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Global Warming Crusader Mentality
Today’s news tells of another mistake of exaggerated climate science prediction.One is tempted to say that, regardless of the moralism and intolerance of global warming advocates, it’s still perfectly possible they are right.
I’m not getting in the foxhole with the warriors on either side of the raging climate war. But I think there’s something more alarming going on than the spike in CO2 level charts.
Our global system of air currents, ocean currents, cloud patterns, resonant temperature cycles, energy storage and release mechanisms, and further processes is mind-bogglingly complex.
Presently, the best climate models fall many orders of magnitude short of the power and intricacy needed to effectively predict the long-term climate patterns that emerge from the interactions of all these planetary systems. And that’s not a failure of science; it’s just the reality of how tough the problem is.
Predictions are made by building models using the smartest simplifications we have thought of and running them on the most powerful computers ever built. Basically, it’s the best we can do right now.
But there is a major failure of science going on.
The failure is the lack of transparency and honesty about how feeble these models are and how much we should stake on their all-too-fallible forecasts. Thus the same problem continues: climate science has once again botched a prediction that its models were underequipped to make.
It seems that there can be no moderate and honest discussion of this issue. Skeptics are singled out in creepy enemies lists. Actually, we’re now supposed to call them deniers, as though they were disputing the existence of HIV or the holocaust. Numerous scientists, as well as senators, anti-vaccination Kennedys, and clickbait purveyors have even called for the imprisonment and legal prosecution of those who disagree with them.
Climate science acts like it is fighting a holy war. There are only those who are just and those who must be silenced and stopped at all costs. Anyone who mounts reasonable logical, empirical, or skeptical challenges to the orthodoxy must be ruined, not by counterfactual evidence, but by vicious attack.
Weekly, we’re bombarded with doom-and-gloom future scenarios spit out of these models. The public is supposed to quiver in fear and to disregard and forget the many times that these predictions have failed.
Models told us that the years of 1998-2013 were supposed to show ever-increasing runaway warming. And yet, these years actually exhibited the famous “global warming hiatus.” An article published in Nature says that zero models predicted this.
Numerous modelers have told us that the Arctic polar ice would be completely gone by now. It’s still there. Many models now seem to skew in the opposite direction, predicting more ice than we see today.
Modeler Kerry Emanuel’s widely reported initial correlation of global warming with dramatically worse hurricane seasons has been strongly rebutted by multiple groups, leading him to reconsider.
The scientific failure here isn’t that models are inaccurate — it’s that the models are presented as undebatable apocalyptic predictors, harbingers of certain future catastrophe. Omens that compel us to rethink our lives. If we take issue with that, we’re heretics.
Given how fallible climate models are, why shouldn’t we be skeptical of the scary headlines? How good can your science be if you try to prove your point by ruining your detractors rather than through empirical success?
Climate scientists may win their war in a friendly press and with political parties aligned with their agendas. But they make enemies of those people who make logical and empirical evaluations of their results, those who don’t give in to pressure and political and professional expediency.
The crusader mentality of climate researchers leads them away from the factual debate and empirical accounting of sound science. We really deserve more from our publicly funded scientific establishments.
And indeed, it’s possible.
But when people start acting like crusaders, wanting to punish heresy and silence dissent, they lose all credibility. If the Inquisition believed that by suppressing heresy it was saving souls from the Hell toward which the heretics were leading them, modern global warming crusaders believe they are saving humanity from a climate catastrophe. That sort of thinking is a huge invitation to both intellectual and moral corruption.
Thursday, June 09, 2016
First Transgender Presidential Candidate
Does the Ethnicity of a Judge Matter: Liberal Hypocrisy
Annoyed at federal judge Gonzalo P. Curiel’s persistent rulings against him in the Trump University case (brought by a law firm that has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for speeches by Bill and Hillary), Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said that maybe it’s because the judge is a second-generation Mexican immigrant.Pointing out liberal hypocrisy on this issue does not mean Trump was wise to raise it. Bringing up the fiasco that was Trump University is simply a bad tactic. What Trump should be doing is to convince conservatives that he has at least some understanding of policy, and sympathy for at least some parts of their agenda.
The entire media — and most of the GOP — have spent 10 months telling us that Mexicans in the United States are going to HATE Trump for saying he’ll build a wall. Now they’re outraged that Trump thinks one Mexican hates him for saying he’ll build a wall.
. . .
Has anyone ever complained about the ethnicity of white judges or white juries? I’ve done some research and it turns out ... THAT’S ALL WE’VE HEARD FOR THE PAST 40 YEARS.
The New York Times alone has published hundreds of articles, editorials, op-eds, movie reviews, sports articles and crossword puzzles darkly invoking “white judges” and “all-white” juries, as if that is ipso facto proof of racist justice.
Two weeks ago — that’s not an error; I didn’t mean to type “decades” and it came out “weeks” — the Times published an op-ed by a federal appeals judge stating: “All-white juries risk undermining the perception of justice in minority communities, even if a mixed-race jury would have reached the same verdict or imposed the same sentence.”
In other words, even when provably not unfair, white jurors create the “perception” of unfairness solely by virtue of the color of their skin.
Innocence Project co-founder Barry Scheck’s entire career of springing criminals would be gone if it were generally accepted that we can’t question judges or juries based on race or ethnicity. Writing about the release of Glenn Ford, a black man convicted of robbing a jewelry store and murdering the owner, Scheck claimed that one of the most important factors in Ford’s death sentence was the “all-white jury.”
On the other hand, the evidence against Ford included: His two black friends telling police he’d shown them jewelry the day of the murder, another Ford acquaintance swearing he’d had a .38 in his waistband — the murder weapon was a .38 — and the gunshot residue on Ford’s hand. His conviction was overturned many years later, on the theory that his black friends had committed the murder, then framed him.
So we know 1) the “real killers” were also black; and 2) any jury would have convicted Ford on that evidence.
Here’s how the Times described Ford’s trial: “A black man convicted of murder by an all-white jury in Louisiana in 1984 and sentenced to die, tapped into an equally old and painful vein of race.”
I have approximately 1 million more examples of the media going mental about a “white judge” or “all-white jury,” and guess what? In none of them were any of the white people involved members of organizations dedicated to promoting white people, called “THE RACE.”
Say, does anyone remember if it ever came up that the Ferguson police force was all white? Someone check that.
I don’t want to upset you New York Times editorial board, but perhaps we should revisit the results of the Nuremberg trials. Those were presided over by — TRIGGER WARNING! — “all white” juries. (How do we really know if Hermann Göring was guilty without hearing women’s and Latino voices?)
The model of a fair jury was the O.J. trial. Nine blacks, one Hispanic and two whites, who had made up their minds before the lawyers’ opening statements. (For my younger readers: O.J. was guilty; the jury acquitted him after 20 seconds of deliberation.) At the end of the trial, one juror gave O.J. the black power salute. Nothing to see here. It was Mark Fuhrman’s fault!
In defiance of everyday experience, known facts and common sense, we are all required to publicly endorse the left’s religious belief that whites are always racist, but women and minorities are incapable of any form of bias. If you say otherwise, well, that’s “textbook racism,” according to Paul Ryan.
At least when we’re talking about American blacks, there’s a history of white racism, so the double standard is not so enraging. What did we ever do to Mexicans? Note to Hispanics, Muslims, women, immigrants and gays: You’re not black.
Other than a few right-wingers, no one denounced now-sitting Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor for her “wise Latina” speech, in which she said “our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.”
But Trump is a “racist” for saying the same thing.
Six months ago, a Times editorial demanded that the Republican Senate confirm Obama judicial nominee Luis Felipe Restrepo, on the grounds that “[a]s a Hispanic,” Restrepo would bring “ethnic ... diversity to the court.”
You see how confusing this is. On one hand, it’s vital that we have more women and Latinos on the courts because white men can’t be trusted to be fair. But to suggest that women and Latinos could ever be unfair in the way that white men can, well, that’s “racist.”
The effrontery of this double standard is so blinding, that the only way liberals can bluff their way through it is with indignation. DO I HEAR YOU RIGHT? ARE YOU SAYING A JUDGE’S ETHNICITY COULD INFLUENCE HIS DECISIONS? (Please, please, please don’t bring up everything we’ve said about white judges and juries for the past four decades.)
He should be wooing independents with a cogent critique of Obama’s performance, and Hillary’s history, temperament and policies. He soon enough won’t have Bernie Sanders to do that for him!
Instead, the undisciplined and erratic Trump vents about what’s gotten under his skin on any particular day. And, because Hillary is such a poor candidate, Trump might just be the next president.
Wednesday, June 08, 2016
Tuesday, June 07, 2016
The Smug Style of Liberalism
Some choice quotes:
There is a smug style in American liberalism. It has been growing these past decades. It is a way of conducting politics, predicated on the belief that American life is not divided by moral difference or policy divergence — not really — but by the failure of half the country to know what’s good for them.And later:
In 2016, the smug style has found expression in media and in policy, in the attitudes of liberals both visible and private, providing a foundational set of assumptions above which a great number of liberals comport their understanding of the world.
It has led an American ideology hitherto responsible for a great share of the good accomplished over the past century of our political life to a posture of reaction and disrespect: a condescending, defensive sneer toward any person or movement outside of its consensus, dressed up as a monopoly on reason.
The smug style is a psychological reaction to a profound shift in American political demography.
Beginning in the middle of the 20th century, the working class, once the core of the coalition, began abandoning the Democratic Party. In 1948, in the immediate wake of Franklin Roosevelt, 66 percent of manual laborers voted for Democrats, along with 60 percent of farmers. In 1964, it was 55 percent of working-class voters. By 1980, it was 35 percent.
The white working class in particular saw even sharper declines. Despite historic advantages with both poor and middle-class white voters, by 2012 Democrats possessed only a 2-point advantage among poor white voters. Among white voters making between $30,000 and $75,000 per year, the GOP has taken a 17-point lead.
Finding comfort in the notion that their former allies were disdainful, hapless rubes, smug liberals created a culture animated by that contempt The consequence was a shift in liberalism’s intellectual center of gravity. A movement once fleshed out in union halls and little magazines shifted into universities and major press, from the center of the country to its cities and elite enclaves. Minority voters remained, but bereft of the material and social capital required to dominate elite decision-making, they were largely excluded from an agenda driven by the new Democratic core: the educated, the coastal, and the professional.
It is not that these forces captured the party so much as it fell to them. When the laborer left, they remained.
Nothing is more confounding to the smug style than the fact that the average Republican is better educated and has a higher IQ than the average Democrat. That for every overpowered study finding superior liberal open-mindedness and intellect and knowledge, there is one to suggest that Republicans have the better of these qualities.Why does smugness to dominate the liberal culture?
Most damning, perhaps, to the fancy liberal self-conception: Republicans score higher in susceptibility to persuasion. They are willing to change their minds more often.
The Republican coalition tends toward the center: educated enough, smart enough, informed enough.
The Democratic coalition in the 21st century is bifurcated: It has the postgraduates, but it has the disenfranchised urban poor as well, a group better defined by race and immigration status than by class. There are more Americans without high school diplomas than in possession of doctoral degrees. The math proceeds from there.
As we have suggested, liberals are better able to cocoon themselves among like-minded people. They likely had liberal high school teachers, but most certainly had overwhelmingly liberal college professors. They self-select into professions defined by strongly (often monolithically) liberal or left politics (academia, journalism, the government regulatory and welfare state). They segregate themselves into ghettos (like Milwaukee’s East Side) and mostly interact with people like themselves. They get their news from liberal outlets.
While conservatives can isolate themselves to a degree, they cannot avoid the liberal indoctrination in college, nor exposure to the liberal media (whether it be the New York Times or the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel). They are more likely to work in settings where politics is a bit peripheral and there is some diversity of opinion.
Thus liberal smugness is not justified by superior knowledge, or superior reasoning ability, or superior open-mindedness. It is simply the result of an intense tribal mentality.
Thus liberals richly deserve to have lost the support of the white working class. But this working class populism can play out in different ways: voting for Reagan or voting for Trump, for example. Not all ways of opposing liberal smugness are equal.
Sunday, June 05, 2016
Wanting to End It
Should You Need Government’s Permission to Work?
For decades, states have declared more and more occupations off-limits to anyone without a government permit. “In the early 1950s less than 5 percent of US workers were required to have a license from a state government in order to perform their jobs legally,” observed the Brookings Institution in a study last year. “By 2008, the share of workers requiring a license to work was estimated to be almost 29 percent.” To become a barber in Massachusetts, as Leon Neyfakh noted in the Globe last year, a prospective hair-cutter must spend 1,000 hours of study at a barber school, followed by a year and a half as an apprentice. Florida mandates a minimum of six years of training before it will license an interior designer. In Oklahoma, anyone wishing merely to sell caskets has to earn a degree in mortuary science, undergo a year-long apprenticeship in funeral services, and pass a state-mandated exam.Even libertarian-leaning Jacoby may be conceding more to government regulation than he should. For example: should surgeons be licensed? The fact that a surgeon has a government license means far less than the fact that he or she is board certified. Board certification is done by a private association (The American Board of Surgery). A brand name can be a good guide. In the Milwaukee market, Columbia St. Mary’s, Aurora and the Medical College are all reputable organizations, with an incentive to maintain a reputation for good care. And both Milwaukee Magazine and M Magazine rate physicians via their reputation with health care professionals.
Licensing requirements just as onerous or ludicrous can be found in almost every state. Arizona licenses talent agents. Tennessee prohibits shampooing hair without a license. But the pendulum is finally heading in the other direction.
Reformers left and right have mobilized against laws that pointlessly force Americans to be licensed by the state before they can get a job in their chosen field. To compel would-be surgeons and airline pilots to obtain the government’s imprimatur as a condition of employment is one thing. But when the states impose licensing mandates on locksmiths and yoga instructors and hair braiders and florists, they clearly aren’t being motivated by concern for public safety and the well-being of powerless consumers.
The proliferation of occupational licenses, especially for blue-collar and working-class trades, has been driven by naked rent-seeking. That is the term economists use when narrow special interests use political connections to secure benefits for themselves — in this case, when established practitioners press lawmakers to enact licensing and registration barriers that hold down competition. Thus, as libertarians have maintained for years, occupational licensing aggressively benefits “haves” at the expense of “have-nots.”
The Obama administration has taken up this issue as well. “By making it harder to enter a profession, licensing can reduce employment opportunities, lower wages for excluded workers, and increase costs for consumers,” wrote the Treasury Department and the Council of Economic Advisers in a 2015 report. “Licensing restrictions cost millions of jobs nationwide and raise consumer expenses by over one hundred billion dollars.”
But there’s been progress.
In Arizona, Governor Doug Ducey just signed legislation repealing state license requirements for a number of jobs, including driving instructor, citrus fruit packer, and cremationist. In North Carolina, a bill underway in the legislature would make it lawful to earn a living — without needing government approval — as a laser hair remover, sign-language interpreter, acupuncturist, and pastoral counselor. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts recently signed a measure liberating hair-braiders from licensing rules.
Consumers won’t be exposed to the wolves if the state doesn’t supervise every occupation. The private sector is replete with certifying, rating, and accrediting bodies that can attest to the qualifications of almost any occupation and product. The Internet empowers consumers as never before with timely information about vendors, professionals, and service-providers of every description. From Angie’s List to Yelp, from Uber to TripAdvisor, the private market promotes transparency and exposes quality with a nimble persistence no state agency can ever match.
As for airline pilots: while the public has fewer means to judge the qualifications of the people in the cockpit, it’s hardly clear that airlines, left to their own devices, would hire unqualified pilots. The loss of a flight due to pilot error imposes huge costs in terms of equipment (the plane), reputation and (if tort lawyers can show the pilot to be unqualified) liability judgments.
While one can argue about specific cases, the overall conclusion is clear. Occupational licensing is, in the vast majority of instances, rent seeking, and not any sort of cure for any sort of market failure.
Friday, June 03, 2016
Lack of School Discipline: Politically Correct Victimization of Poor and Black Students
The politically correct liberals and the black activists who pander to them (like former Attorney General Eric Holder) like to pretend that black students are the victims of racist and excessively harsh school discipline.
The Departments of Justice and Education have explicitly embraced a “disparate impact” standard for judging racial discrimination. If any policy affects white and blacks to a different degree, that is presumed to be evidence of discrimination. The implicit assumption, in this case, is that black students and white students misbehave in equal numbers. But this is absurd. As Heather Mac Donald explains:
The feds have reached their conclusions, however, without answering the obvious question: Are black students suspended more often because they misbehave more? [Secretary of Education] Arne Duncan, of all people, should be aware of inner-city students’ self-discipline problems, having headed the Chicago school system before becoming secretary of education. Chicago’s minority youth murder one another with abandon. Since 2008, more than 530 people under the age of 21 have been killed in the city, mostly by their peers, according to the Chicago Reporter; virtually all the perpetrators were black or Hispanic. In 2009, the widely publicized beating death of 16-year-old Derrion Albert by his fellow students sent Duncan hurrying back to the Windy City, accompanied by Attorney General Eric Holder, to try to contain the fallout in advance of Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics (see “Chicago’s Real Crime Story,” Winter 2010). Between September 2011 and February 2012, 25 times more black Chicago students than white ones were arrested at school, mostly for battery; black students outnumbered whites by four to one. . . . So when Duncan lamented, upon the release of the 2012 discipline report, that “some of the worst [discipline] discrepancies are in my hometown of Chicago,” one could only ask: What does he expect?In this, as in so many things, the white liberals and affluent black race hustlers have the huge luxury of avoiding the chaos their racial policies create. Ensconced in affluent suburbs, or in trendy urban neighborhoods with their kids in selective public schools, magnet schools or private schools, they can feel really good about their quest for racial justice. Other people’s kids (mostly poor and black) have to suffer the chaos.
Nationally, the picture is no better. The homicide rate among males between the ages of 14 and 17 is nearly ten times higher for blacks than for whites and Hispanics combined. Such data make no impact on the Obama administration and its orbiting advocates, who apparently believe that the lack of self-control and socialization that results in this disproportionate criminal violence does not manifest itself in classroom comportment as well.
The story is not new, even in the Wisconsin context, but such a good radio documentary is a surprise.
Which brings us to Producer Dan O’Donnell. He has been, for a while, second banana to Mark Belling at WISN radio, filling in occasionally and doing the news. While he may not be a candidate to displace the very talented Belling as an on-air personality (nor any other of Milwaukee’s excellent radio talkers), we expect this documentary to gain him some attention. Is there some media organization (perhaps a TV station in a larger market) that wants somebody to do long-form documentaries and investigative pieces?
We would not be surprised to see Dan O’Donnell moving up.
How Bad is It for Hillary?
We are semi-famous for not believing JFK assassination conspiracy theories, but we can’t resist passing along another theory we got from a conservative activist when we gave a talk a week ago this past Tuesday:
The FBI will ask the Justice Department to indict Hillary shortly before the Democratic Convention. Obama (who has never much liked Hillary, and knows she is such a poor candidate she might actually lose to Donald Trump) offers her a deal. She gets a complete pardon, but she has to drop out of the race. Joe Biden parachutes in to save the Democrats.
If that happens, remember you heard it here first. If it doesn’t . . . never mind.
Social Media Censorship in Europe
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Monday, May 23, 2016
Do Black Lives Matter to “Black Lives Matter”?
We are now more than one year removed from Gray’s death. In that time, hundreds more black men have died in the course of dramatic crime spikes in major American cities. At the same time, in many of those same cities, police have made fewer arrests, executed fewer stops, and confiscated fewer weapons. At least one prominent skeptic is now asserting that the so-called “Ferguson effect” is the “leading hypothesis” to explain the crime surge, and statistical site FiveThirtyEight has done more than anyone to document its existence in Chicago.Black Lives Matter, quite simply, only seems to care about the lives of blacks shot by cops. And it doesn’t seem to matter to them whether the cop was at fault or not. He’s white, therefore, he’s guilty.
There is a chance that the Nero verdict will strike at least a small blow for sanity and reason, but it’s more likely that the outcome will cause Black Lives Matter and its sympathizers to redouble their efforts. As soon as the decision came down, there was an ugly scene outside the courthouse in Baltimore as protesters chased and surrounded Nero’s family — people unquestionably innocent of any wrongdoing.
No one believes that every single police officer is a person of integrity. And certainly no one with any sense believes that all police are law-abiding. When there is probable cause to believe that an officer has committed a crime, they should face prosecution to the same extent as any other citizen. But when politicians respond to riots with indictments — and then when activists respond to acquittals with chants of “no justice, no peace” — it is certainly understandable that police feel besieged.
Black Lives Matter activists and their white-progressive enablers seem not to care. In the rough calculus of social justice, it appears that lives taken by civilians matter far less than lives taken by police, and if hundreds more have to die to save the few, then so be it. After all, isn’t there an old saying about omelettes and eggs that applies?
Officer Nero rightly walks free. Now would be the ideal time to rethink the anti-police witch-hunt, but I won’t hold my breath. The narrative of police oppression is too fixed in the leftist mind, and progressive elites still have too much to gain by keeping it that way.
Quite simply, these race hustlers would rather have a series of grievances than to save black lives. Black lives only matter to them if their loss promotes a political agenda.
And who is the judge who let Nero off, rejecting the unfounded theory under which he was prosecuted? His name is Barry Williams. Not all black folks are race hustlers.