Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Descent into depravity

Mark Steyn describes one Dr. Kermit Gosnell:  late term abortionist and post birth slayer now on trial for mass murder in Philadelphia.  You may not have heard much about the good doctor.  That's not because what he and his staff did wasn't newsworthy, it's because the story doesn't fit the progressive agenda: it wouldn't be useful for furthering the cause.

The arrest and trial have been going on for a couple of years now with virtually no media notice.  The body count and sheer industrial horror of what was done over many years far, far exceeds that of Sandy Hook.  Yet we are told that Sandy Hook 'proves' that the nation needs significant limitations on the Constitutional right to bear arms but Dr. Gosnell's charnel house has absolutely no bearing on the constitutional 'right' to an abortion anytime anywhere for any reason.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Americans are the weirdest people in the world

It turns out that the way we Americans think is very different (and at one end of a normal distribution) than the rest of the world.  I think I always knew that.  A very good and interesting summary is here.

Once again after closer scrutiny, a bedrock assumption about how the world works (deep down everybody is the same and wants the same things) is called into question:  in other words, how do you know what you know?  This is important because much of 'progressive' social policy is based upon the certainty of social scientists that they 'know' what is 'scientifically' right.  This is despite the typical profile of 'progressive' social scientists who support 'progressive' social innovations conducting research that surprisingly have 'progressive' results that are then reviewed by a panel of  'progressive' peers and trumpeted by 'progressive' journalists in impeccably 'progressive' publications that are then cited by 'progressive' activists to persuade 'progressive' politicians and judges to make 'progressive' policy changes that they are certain will be 'progressive'.

For example, if people from different cultures reason differently, then perhaps immigration from different cultures will have different effects on society.  Perhaps some groups will do well in our culture and others won't - perhaps northern Europeans will and the Hmong won't.  And if we really don't have a good bead on human behavioral diversity or even clearly understand what is 'core' among us, then how confident are we about the impact of changing bedrock cultural norms as we are in the process of doing with marriage?

In contrast to progressivism (aka modern liberalism rebranded for the 21st century to avoid the taint that 20th century liberal policies gave it) conservatism is takes a skeptical view on what we think we know and argues that since we almost certainly understand less than we think about ourselves we should be cautious in revising the machinery by which we relate to and govern each other.  This doesn't mean that reform and change are banned, it simply recognizes that it is a lot easier to break something important than to improve it.

Tragically, our current crop of 'progressives' are busily changing virtually anything they can get their hands on.  Unsurprisingly, we are in a period of intensifying social and economic chaos.

So again and all together this time:  how you know what you know?

Saturday, March 09, 2013

This is what a European style Social Democracy looks like

Discouraged by the lack of job growth and ever falling median incomes and enticed by easier and easier social benefit eligibility, tens of millions of able bodied Americans are withdrawing from the labor force.  This immense waste of human capital and the social and moral degradation that come with it are perhaps the most expensive aspect of 'progressive' politics.  These people have souls and were born with a purpose, yet the state in its wisdom has arranged things so that they will be warehoused, often for the rest of their lives.  They call it compassion.  I call it soul destruction,

But Barack Obama has one thing right:  after four years of hope and change, the US is no longer the 'exceptional' nation.  We're just another clogged, bureaucracy dominated social democratic ponzi scheme sliding towards oblivion.  And not a particularly well run one at that.


Truthiness addendum:  Mark Perry of Carpe Diem points out that about half of the decline has been due to demographic factors such as an older population.  Yet if this is true, it makes the relatively high unemployment rates (reported and real) look even worse.

Friday, March 08, 2013

When success is failure

The mainstream media trumpeted the good job creation news - "unemployment" is down from 7.9 to 7.7%.  They conveniently ignore the corresponding announcement that the number of adults designated 'not in the labor force' by the Labor Department grew even faster.  This administration is particularly good at hiding record levels of unemployment behind record levels of dole payments which entice people out of the formal labor market and lower unemployment statistics.  It is good that we have social welfare systems that protect people from utter destitution.  However these systems also take pressure off of the elites:  without the various doles, the breadlines would be almost as long as those in the Great Depression.

Jobs Report: February Employment Surged By 236,000 Jobs Amid Housing Recovery

Record 89,304,000 Americans 'Not in Labor Force' -- 296,000 Fewer Employed Since January

One thing seems to always be true: in Obama's America, the faster we run, the further we fall behind. Unless you are on Wall Street or the Federal pay/subsidy/tax subsidy/regulatory subsidy/dole-roll.

It's all so progressive.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Venal does not begin to describe these collegiate profiteers

At least the Robber Barons delivered falling prices...and PAID TAXES.  These credentialed thugs loot our children and the public fisc.  It's all so progressive.  Or should I say corporatist?  HT Instapundit.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Poor Scholars Hit by Money Squeeze From Wealthy Colleges.
Scholarship programs funded by some of the nation’s biggest donors including Gates, Coca-Cola Co. and Michael Dell, are taking aim at practices used by wealthy colleges, such as Boston College, which has a $1.65 billion dollar endowment, Amherst, with a $1.64 billion fund and Barnard, with $216.4 million. They say the schools hurt poor and minority students by rescinding aid once they find out they have awards from outside sources or by banning use of the funds to cover some student contributions. Donors complain that, in some cases, their gifts are boosting a school’s bottom line rather than the students they seek to help.
In most schools, “financial aid” is just a scheme to facilitate price discrimination. If any other industry behaved this way, it would be roundly condemned.

Monday, March 04, 2013

According to the Feds, the real minimum wage in Harlingen, TX needs to be twice as high as in NYC - Why?

President Obama and the Democrats want to increase the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00.  They argue that the current minimum isn't a 'living wage'.  But that begs the question of living wage where?  The minimum wage is a national rate so presumably it is established in connection to the national cost of living.  In places with higher costs of living, the minimum wage will be more 'inadequate'.  For example, the national minimum of $7.25 will only buy the national equivalent of $3.90 worth of goods and services in high cost NYC.  Contrast that with low cost Harlingen, TX, where the national minimum wage has an effective value of $8.73.  Even in  San Francisco which has the highest statutory minimum wage in the country at $10.55, the city's high costs mean that it will only buy the equivalent of $6.43 in goods and services.

This results in the paradox that Harlingen which has one of the least educated, lowest income work forces  has the highest effective minimum wage of any city in the nation, more than twice that of relatively rich New York city.  If your goal is to use a minimum wage to 'help' the 'working poor' then this outcome is nonsense on stilts.

So why is it that blue state Democrats  howl the loudest for a nationwide increase yet tolerate much lower effective minimum wages in their own back yards?  For example, for NYC to have an effective minimum wage equal to a national $9.00 (an outcome that virtually all NYC politicians claim to want) the minimum there would need to be $16.74 an hour.

 After all, NYC, SFO, LA and others are all impeccably liberal places, "compassionate" to the core and utterly dominated by Democrats in virtually every city, county, legislature, courtroom, media outlet, college, school and even most taco stands.  Surely if they wanted to establish an effective minimum wage equal to a national $9 or even $7.25 rate for their own neighbors and employees they could.....oops.  Now I see.

It's all so progressive.

Postscript:  Of course I think that all minimum wages are nonsense and as I said before, national minimum wages are that on stilts.  I am just asking for once that our glorious avatars of the downtrodden demonstrate a level of consistency that doesn't immediately define them as cynical power gluttons.  Just doing so once would go a long ways to reduce my towering, intergalactic level of cynicism over any 'compassionate' policy proposed by any Democrat anywhere.  Ever.

Higher education: A fundamental lack of accountability

How can 'charities' that are 'dedicated' to providing 'education' to the youth of America quadruple their real prices for the same product?  Drive tens of millions of trusting  young adults into immense debt?  And these colleges are run by dedicated liberals who "care" about "human values" and "scorn" the base pursuit of filthy lucre.  This is a problem of accountability:  neither Universities, governments nor other big charities are effectively accountability to the public.  They are largely exempt from the competition, regulation and critical scrutiny that keep private firms much more honest and productive.  HT Instapundit.

Total student debt stands at $966 billion as of the fourth quarter of 2012, the N.Y. Fed said in press materials, with a 70% increase in both the number of borrowers and the average balance per person. The overall number of borrowers past due on student loan payments has grown from under 10% in 2004 to 17% in 2012. 
Fewer people with student loans are buying homes, according to data in the report. Of borrowers ages 25 to 30 who are taking out new mortgages, the percentage of those with student debt has fallen by half, from nearly 9% in 2005 to just above 4% in 2012. 
“The higher burden of student loans and higher delinquencies may affect borrowers’ access to other types of credit and the performance of other debt,” the fed report concluded. 
Educational debt is now the largest consumer liability after mortgages.

Friday, March 01, 2013

The Sequester Bites....Hard

I'm  rying to write  his no e bu  due  o   he seq es er  he Feds have cu  he le  er " "   from  he alphabe .

Damn  ha  George Bush.