Thursday, November 29, 2012

More on Bogus Statistics on Campus Date Rape

We have, with some frequency, discussed the fact that feminist activists produce radically inflated and completely bogus statistics about the number of college women who fall victim to date rape.

Indeed, we were once charged with sexual harassment for telling a class of ours this. (The complaint was dismissed by Marquette, and we continue to say exactly the same thing in all our classes where the fact is relevant.)

The number usually bandied around is that 20 or 25 percent of college women are victims of date rape. Sometimes it’s not “rape” but “rape or attempted rape” or sometimes merely “sexual assault.” But the usual tactic is to scare women with inflated statistics.

Of course, this also serves the feminist agenda of demonizing men.

But what happens when the Department of Justice, and not feminist university professors, ask about rape? And what happens when their concern is not just with rape, but with all violent crime?

The numbers come back vastly lower.

Consider the following table, taken from an official report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (you’ll need to click on the image to see it clearly):

You’ll see that the incidence of rape among college women is 6.0 cases per thousand students. That’s .60 percent per year. Multiply that by four years in college and you have between two and three percent.

But then you have the fact that this is not merely rape, but rape and sexual assault. How is this defined?
Rape/sexual assault

This category includes forced sexual intercourse including psychological coercion as well as physical force.

Forced sexual intercourse means vaginal, anal or oral penetration by the offender(s). This category also includes incidents where the penetration is from a foreign object. It includes attempted rapes, male as well as female victims and both heterosexual and homosexual rape. Attempted rape includes verbal threats of rape.

Sexual assault is also included in this category which includes a wide range of victimizations, separate from rape or attempted rape. These crimes include attacks or attempted attacks generally involving unwanted sexual contact between victim and offender. Sexual assaults may or may not involve force and include such things as grabbing or fondling. Sexual assault also includes verbal threats.
In other words, a lot of things that are gross and vulgar, but are vastly less serious than rape (because they are vastly less psychologically damaging to the victim) count as sexual assault.

Even ignoring this, there is no way to get to the 20 to 25 percent figure bandied around by feminist activists.

Note that the Bureau of Justice Statistics numbers are derived from a victimization survey, and are in no way dependent on the victim having reported the crime to the police.

So the things that politically correct faculty, and politically correct administrators, tell students about the incidence of rape are simply untrue. They serve the ideological interests of feminists, and the career interests of campus bureaucrats. But they are lies.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Get More Income by Soaking the Rich?

At the moment, Obama and the Democrats seem to be hanging tough on demanding that tax rates on high earners be increased.

This in spite of the fact that the president’s own commission (Simpson/Bowles) recommended reducing top tax rates, and gaining revenue by closing loopholes.

But the notion that higher rates will produce more revenue is just grossly simplistic. Some evidence comes from the United Kingdom.
Almost two-thirds of the country’s million-pound earners disappeared from Britain after the introduction of the 50p top rate of tax, figures have disclosed.

In the 2009-10 tax year, more than 16,000 people declared an annual income of more than £1 million to HM Revenue and Customs.

This number fell to just 6,000 after Gordon Brown introduced the new 50p top rate of income tax shortly before the last general election.

The figures have been seized upon by the Conservatives to claim that increasing the highest rate of tax actually led to a loss in revenues for the Government.

It is believed that rich Britons moved abroad or took steps to avoid paying the new levy by reducing their taxable incomes.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, announced in the Budget earlier this year that the 50p top rate will be reduced to 45p from next April.

Since the announcement, the number of people declaring annual incomes of more than £1 million has risen to 10,000.

However, the number of million-pound earners is still far below the level recorded even at the height of the recession and financial crisis.

Last night, Harriet Baldwin, the Conservative MP who uncovered the latest figures, said: “Labour’s ideological tax hike led to a tax cull of millionaires.

Far from raising funds, it actually cost the UK £7 billion in lost tax revenue.

“Labour now needs to admit that their policies resulted in millionaires paying less tax and come clean about whether they would reintroduce this failed policy if they were in power.”
A less journalistic analysis of the effect of the high tax rates reaches generally the same conclusion.
  • The 50 per cent additional rate of income tax was introduced on 6 April 2010. It was the first increase in the highest rate of tax in the UK for over 30 years, and was expected to yield around £2.5 billion. However, because of the uncertainty regarding how those affected would respond, and its impact on the economy, the yield estimates were highly uncertain.
  • This report provides the first comprehensive ex-post assessment of the additional rate yield using a range of evidence including the 2010-11 Self Assessment returns. The analysis shows that there was a considerable behavioural response to the rate change, including a substantial amount of forestalling: around £16 billion to £18 billion of income is estimated to have been brought forward to 2009-10 to avoid the introduction of the additional rate of tax.
  • The modelling suggests the underlying behavioural response was greater than estimated previously in Budget 2009 and in March Budget 2010, decreasing the pre-behavioural yield by at least 83 per cent. This result is also consistent with that contained in the Mirrlees review, and suggests the additional rate is a highly distortionary form of taxation.
Bottom line: the increase in the tax rate distorted people’s behavior, causing them to arrange to reap income when the tax rate was lower, and had a major disincentive effect, causing people do things (work less, retreat to tax shelters) that reduced the yield by 83 percent compared to a “static scoring” (one that assumes that people faced with a higher tax rate act exactly as they would if faced with a lower rate).

But the truth is, the demand for higher tax rates has nothing to do with raising revenue.

It’s an attack on the social class that can earn high incomes in markets. And it is mounted not by the poor, but by the New Class: people such as academics, journalists, political activists and government bureaucrats who prosper as government grows.

Since their orientation is not toward producing for the market, and their incomes are lower than those who are similiarly qualified and educated and do produce for the market, they resent people who earn, in markets, higher incomes than they do.

So they demonize them (“vulture capitalists”) and try to seize their income. But the point is not really to seize their income and put it to uses the New Class prefers. It is much more simply to level down a rival social class.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

No Global Warming for the Last 16 Years

Yes, this was linked on Drudge, but we can’t resist blogging about it.

It seems there has been no global warming for the last 16 years (actually, just a bit less than 16).

The global warming proponents at Britain’s Met Office have responded to this, claiming that you can show warming if you choose the proper end points of the series. Lop off the first couple of years, and the trend is upward. And indeed, if you go backward to 1980, the trend is clearly upward.

But if global warming is real, we should not have had a decade and a half of temperatures with no warming trend.

Proponents usually fall back to claiming that there is a “consensus” among climate scientists about global warming. But whole groups of scientists have been wrong before, and they are particular likely to be wrong when large government grants are at stake. They are particularly likely to be wrong when their political ideology inclines to a particular view. And they are just as prone to group think as any other segment of society.

The graph tells the story. Is it possible that warming will resume? Of course. And it’s quite possible the earth will become colder, as it has after each previous warm spell.

The money quote in the Daily Mail article comes from British Energy Minister, John Hayes, who said that, for the UK:
. . . the high-flown theories of bourgeois Left-wing academics will not override the interests of ordinary people who need fuel for heat, light and transport – energy policies, you might say, for the many, not the few.
That does go to the dirty little secret of the warmists: they are elitists who resent the affluence of the masses.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Food Stamp Nation

From Zero Hedge, the fact that food stamp dependency has reached an all-time high. See the two charts below (click on the charts to see a larger image).


Of course, use of food stamps should increase in economic hard times. But the problem is that, while the number of jobs in the economy has rebounded a bit (and unemployment decreased a bit) food stamp dependency continues to increase.The NFP number below is “non-farm payroll” jobs.


So why has the number of people on food stamps increased when the need for food stamps decreased.

There are two possible answers, and we don’t know of data that would answer which is the most important. First, explicit government policies designed to enroll more people in government welfare programs may be having an effect.

Secondly, a culture of dependency, which clearly exists, may be becoming more and more prevalent, as an ethic of self-reliance continues to decay. As, in some sectors of society, dependency becomes more and more the norm, it becomes less and less stigmatized. Thus, dependency begets dependency, with culture as the mediating factor.

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