Friday, April 25, 2014

Cliven Bundy has a good legal case

The BLM has assumed complete control of a swath of land out West, forbidding any and all from stepping foot on it without BLM permission. It sent troops to enforce a court order to Bundy to pay what the BLM claimed he owed, and also to collect what one can only guess it treated as collateral, Bundy's cattle. The BLM, along with the Park Service and the Environmental Protection Agency, had banded together to put 52 other ranches out of business in that area. Bundy is the "last man standing."

Laron Fred Woods, a resident of Utah, supplied this brief history of the land under dispute:

    "When Nevada became a state in 1864, the state had control of its land because of its sovereignty. The federal government started taking control back in the 1930's. Until then, the General Land Office managed public lands. Even though the GLO was a national agency, it was administered locally. After the Taylor Grazing act of 1934, passed under Franklin D. Roosevelt, a "U.S. Grazing Service" office was created. The "U.S. Grazing Service" office was merged with the General Land Office in 1946 (under Harry S. Truman) and the BLM (Bureau Of Land Management) was created. They then assumed control of all "public" lands and took over management from the state. Cliven Bundy's Grandfather purchased grazing rights from the General Land Office in the 1880's. Note: He PURCHASED those rights. Not the land, just the grazing rights.

    After the BLM took over management, they [the BLM] no longer recognized as legitimate those actions of purchasing grazing rights. Right or wrong, they still refuse to recognize the purchased grazing rights from the Bundy's."

Two BLM sites carry the same official history.

The "roundup" of Bundy's cattle by the feds, given the context in which Bundy is acting, is simply a naked seizure of his property, under the guise of protecting the habitat of the desert tortoise. But even that pretext was exploded when it was learned that the BLM was actually euthanizing these tortoises.

Of course, if the government needn't recognize the right to property secured over a century ago, never mind property secured within the last half century, the last decade, the last year. Private property rights of any kind, whether prescriptive or outright or common law, have been drowned in an avalanche of fiat law and legalized theft under the rubric of the "public" or "common good" or the "public interest."

Freedom Outpost's Ben Swann reveals the cluelessness of the BLM in his April 16th article, "BLM: We Were Worried Cliven Bundy Might Have Prescriptive Rights and He Might Use that Defense in Court." He asks:

    "Why this year, spend nearly $1,000,000 of taxpayer money to round up 400 cattle that ultimately have to be returned? Why didn't the BLM just place a lien on the cattle rather than attempting to take them by force and then auction them off? The Bureau of Land Management has suffered a huge black eye this week because of their response to the Bundy situation. Perhaps though, there is a reason the BLM chose force over the courts."

Swann contacted Montana cattleman Todd Devlin, who is also County Commissioner in Prairie County, Montana. Devlin made his own enquiries about the BLM's ham-fisted, Gestapo-like behavior towards Bundy.

    "Among the questions Devlin asked of the BLM, "Is it possible that this guy (Cliven Bundy) has prescriptive rights?" The response from top officials at the BLM, "We are worried that he might, and he might use that defense."

    So what exactly are prescriptive rights? Prescriptive right to property is an easement that gives some one the right to use land owned by someone else for a particular purpose. An example is using a path through Party A's land to get to your land; a prescriptive easement is allowed which gives the user the right to get to his land through A's property."

Swann explained that if no one, even a government agency, challenges a prescriptive right in five years, then the right is secured and trespass cannot be legally claimed.

Swann concludes his article:

    "Finally, Devlin says instead of allowing the situation with Bundy's cattle to grow completely out of control, the BLM could have simply placed a lien on the cattle in the first place. Of course, that lien might have been rejected in court if Bundy were able to demonstrate those prescriptive rights. Then again, the courts so far have sided with the government; therefore, it is even more baffling why the lien wasn't placed on the livestock.

    Days after the BLM has claimed they will stand down, they are now reportedly considering a lien on the cattle, "I asked why you didn't put a lien against the cattle?" Devlin asked the BLM. "They hadn't thought about that, but they are considering it now."

DUH!!!! But then, those with a congenital, larcenous state of mind and method of doing things, don't usually, as a matter of habit, think ahead, do they? Their first impulse is to initiate force.

The New Energy News site, which is pro-"renewable," features a map of where the BLM and the federal government plan to implement solar, wind, and geothermal power projects. It also has a link to a map of the all the states with the percentage of federally-owned land in each state, published by the General Services Administration under the title, "Who Owns the West?" About 86% of Nevada is federal land.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal article featured an excerpt of the Nevada Constitution, only partly quoting from it, allowing Harry Reid to slip a mickey into his two-faced taqiyya.

    "Nevada's 1864 Constitution, however, cedes rights to the vast stretches of public land to the federal government.

    "The people inhabiting said territory do agree and declare, that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States," the state Constitution says in the ordinance section. Reid noted many of the protesters care deeply about the Constitution, both state and federal.

    "Nevada's Constitution sets out very clearly the situation," Reid said.

One reader of that article, named Hilda, went to the trouble in her comments to educate the writer and Nevadans by citing that part of the Nevada Constitution:

    "Reid says, "Nevada's 1864 Constitution, however, cedes rights to the vast stretches of public land to the federal government." Reid fails to mention that despite that, the Supreme Court has upheld the right of all western states to have all the land returned to them under the "equal footing" doctrine. Also, the US Constitution allows for the federal government to own property only for "Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings." No other ownership of land is permitted by the government for a reason. The Founding Fathers wanted to ensure limits on the federal government precisely to prevent the abuse of federal power we are witnessing now."

Federally-owned land was never intended to be space for the government to experiment with its preferred "energy" projects, with the hands of corrupt politicians and companies doing the experimenting



Republicans say U.S. headed toward ‘armed revolution'

A survey of Republicans found nearly half agreed that “an armed revolution in order to protect liberties might be necessary in the next few years.”

The poll, from Farleigh Dickinson University’s Public Mind, surveyed a random sampling of 863 registered voters and had a margin of error of plus-minus 3.4 percentage points.

It found 44 percent of registered Republicans believed an armed rebellion could come in the next few years. But only 18 percent of Democrats and 27 percent of independents agreed.

Moreover, only 24 percent of Republicans believed new gun laws were necessary — compared to 73 percent of Democrats. Bipartisan legislation on gun control is not likely in the coming days, one political science professor at Farleigh Dickinson said, in a press release on the poll.

“If there was a bipartisan moment after Sandy Hook to pass gun control legislation, it’s past,” Dan Cassino said. “Partisan views have strongly reasserted themselves, and there’s no sign that they’ll get any weaker.”

The difference in views is due to partisan differences in beliefs about what guns are for, Mr. Cassino said.

“If you truly believe an armed revolution is possible in the near future, you need weapons, and you’re going to be wary about government efforts to take them away,” Mr. Cassino said.



Charles Murray on allegations of racism

Since the flap about Paul Ryan’s remarks last week, elements of the blogosphere, and now Paul Krugman in The New York Times, have stated that I tried to prove the genetic inferiority of blacks in The Bell Curve.

The position that Richard Herrnstein and I took about the role of race, IQ and genes in The Bell Curve is contained in a single paragraph in an 800-page book. It is found on page 311, and consists in its entirety of the following text:

If the reader is now convinced that either the genetic or environmental explanation has won out to the exclusion of the other, we have not done a sufficiently good job of presenting one side or the other. It seems highly likely to us that both genes and the environment have something to do with racial differences. What might the mix be? We are resolutely agnostic on that issue; as far as we can determine, the evidence does not justify an estimate.

That’s it. The four pages following that quote argue that the hysteria about race and genes is misplaced. I think our concluding paragraph (page 315) is important enough to repeat here:

In sum: If tomorrow you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that all the cognitive differences between races were 100 percent genetic in origin, nothing of any significance should change. The knowledge would give you no reason to treat individuals differently than if ethnic differences were 100 percent environmental. By the same token, knowing that the differences are 100 percent environmental in origin would not suggest a single program or policy that is not already being tried. It would justify no optimism about the time it will take to narrow the existing gaps. It would not even justify confidence that genetically based differences will not be upon us within a few generations. The impulse to think that environmental sources of differences are less threatening than genetic ones is natural but illusory.

Our sin was to openly discuss the issue, not to advocate a position. But for the last 40 years, that’s been sin enough.

I’ll be happy to respond at more length to allegations of racism made by anyone who can buttress them with a direct quote from anything I’ve written. I’ll leave you with this thought: in all the critiques of The Bell Curve in particular and my work more generally, no one ever accompanies their charges with direct quotes of what I’ve actually said. There’s a reason for that.



Over 40,000 People Are Registered to Vote in Both Virginia and Maryland

As midterm elections quickly approach, many are starting to think about voting and potential fraud at the polls. And once again, we find that there is cause to be worried about voter fraud here in the U.S. It appears in a new report that 44,000 people are registered to vote in both Virginia and Maryland.

A vote-integrity group crosschecked the voter rolls in the two states and found far too many people registered in both states. The group, known as The Virginia Voters Alliance, is going to expand their research into surrounding states like Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Georgia.

The group found that the number of voters who actually cast ballots in both states was only 164 in 2012, but that is still far too many. And the problem of potentially having thousands of people casting multiple ballots is the real issue.

The Virginia Voters Alliance also worked with the Privileges and Elections committees of the state House and Senate. They found 31,000 dead voters through the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File. The president of the organization said that dead voter registration is a prime target for voter fraud.

A simple solution for this issue is a voter ID law. Not only should people be required to show ID at the polls, but voter registrations should be cross checked more frequently. Hiring an outside group to do this, not only will help with voter fraud, but provides business to a non-governmental group. These numbers need to be greatly reduced before November.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bundy update

The battle lines are hardening in Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy's so-called "range war" against the federal government over his right to graze cattle on public lands.

Arguments have moved from the Nevada desert to the nation's capital, where Nevada's two US senators, Republican Dean Heller and Democrat Harry Reid, recently faced off on a television public affairs show in Las Vegas.

Heller described Bundy's cadre of armed supporters as "patriots," during the show, What's the Point. Reid repeated his claim that the so-called militia men are "domestic terrorists."

Officials from the Bureau of Land Management say Bundy is illegally running hundreds of head of cattle in the 600,000-acre Gold Butte area, habitat of the federally protected desert tortoise. Bundy, 68, has refused to pay BLM grazing fees since 1993, arguing in court filings that his Mormon ancestors worked the land long before the BLM was formed, giving him rights that predate federal involvement. For years, he has threatened to forcefully protect his cattle.

Federal officials moved in to remove the animals, but called off the round-up nine days ago, saying they wanted to avoid violence, a spectre presented when dozens of supporters - many armed with rifles and automatic weapons - gathered at the Bundy ranch 90 miles (144 kilometres) north of Las Vegas.

For now, the standoff has remained a war of words, with Bundy seen as a modern folk hero among free speech advocates and others who believe that the federal government has no right to tell a Nevada rancher how to run his cattle on state land. Environmentalists call Bundy an illegal squatter.

In the television interview, Heller called for a Senate hearing on the dispute.

For his part, Reid appeared to get testy when asked on the show to explain his remark. "Just what I said," he responded tersely.

Heller then prompted another face-off, saying: "What Senator Reid may call domestic terrorists, I call patriots. We have a very different view on this."

"If they are patriots, we are in trouble," Reid shot back, criticising the supporters for showing up with assault weapons and boasting about putting children in the front of the pack.

Heller says the BLM amped up tensions in the long-simmering dispute over Bundy's cattle by dispatching armed officials to help round up the animals. "I want to talk about the fact that they have this kind of authority and the ability to bully and come in with 200 armed men into a situation like this," he said.

Reid replied that the armed supporters were breaking federal laws: "These characters walk around with their Constitution in their pocket. They should read the Nevada Constitution."

Reid refused to speculate on what will happen next. "I don't think it is going to be tomorrow that something is going to happen, but something will happen."

The government has said the cattle round-up was a "last resort" to enforce court orders ruling that Bundy has failed to pay more than $US1 million in fees since 1993 for his cattle to graze on public land. Forcing him either to pay or to give up his cattle is a matter of fairness to the 16,000 ranchers who do follow the rules, US officials say.

On his own blog, Bundy has posted the creed of a national militia movement that has come to his support. Over the weekend, he also posted pictures of cattle that had been killed and buried during the BLM collection earlier this month.

"Digging up 1 of the HUGE holes where they threw the cows that they had ran to death or shot," reads a website caption under the picture of a bulldozer removing an animal carcass. "I feel that this NEEDS to be put out for the public to see."

Bundy says he has as much right to graze his cattle on public lands as those who hike, camp or even advocate the protection of the threatened desert tortoise and other wildlife.

For years Bundy has insisted that his cattle aren't going anywhere. He acknowledges that he keeps firearms at his ranch and has vowed to do "whatever it takes" to defend his animals from seizure.

"I've got to protect my property," he has told the Los Angeles Times. "If people come to monkey with what's mine, I'll call the county sheriff. If that don't work, I'll gather my friends and kids and we'll try to stop it. I abide by all state laws. But I abide by almost zero federal laws."

But environmentalists said on Monday that his actions set a bad precedent.

"It's not just about the desert tortoise. The precedent this sets is dangerous - to let people like Bundy have free rein over public lands," said Ken Cole, National Environmental Policy Act coordinator for the nonprofit Western Watershed Project.

"It's very clear that these public lands are not his. Under a public trust doctrine, the BLM and National Park Service manage these lands for the American people."



The High Cost of Liberalism

Thomas Sowell

Liberals advocate many wonderful things. In fact, I suspect that most conservatives would prefer to live in the kind of world envisioned by liberals, rather than in the kind of world envisioned by conservatives.

Unfortunately, the only kind of world that any of us can live in is the world that actually exists. Trying to live in the kind of world that liberals envision has costs that will not go away just because these costs are often ignored by liberals.

One of those costs appeared in an announcement of a house for sale in Palo Alto, the community adjacent to Stanford University, an institution that is as politically correct as they come.

The house is for sale at $1,498,000. It is a 1,010 square foot bungalow with two bedrooms, one bath and a garage. Although the announcement does not mention it, this bungalow is located near a commuter railroad line, with trains passing regularly throughout the day.

Lest you think this house must be some kind of designer's dream, loaded with high-tech stuff, it was built in 1942 and, even if it was larger, no one would mistake it for the Taj Mahal or San Simeon.

This house is not an aberration, and its price is not out of line with other housing prices in Palo Alto. One couple who had lived in their 1,200 square foot home in Palo Alto for 20 years decided to sell it, and posted an asking price just under $1.3 million.

Competition for that house forced the selling price up to $1.7 million.

Another Palo Alto house, this one with 1,292 square feet of space, is on the market for $2,285,000. It was built in 1895.

Even a vacant lot in Palo Alto costs more than a spacious middle-class home costs in most of the rest of the country.

How does this tie in with liberalism?

In this part of California, liberalism reigns supreme and "open space" is virtually a religion. What that lovely phrase means is that there are vast amounts of empty land where the law forbids anybody from building anything.

Anyone who has taken Economics 1 knows that preventing the supply from rising to meet the demand means that prices are going to rise. Housing is no exception.

Yet when my wife wrote in a local Palo Alto newspaper, many years ago, that preventing the building of housing would cause existing housing to become far too expensive for most people to afford it, she was deluged with more outraged letters than I get from readers of a nationally syndicated column.

What she said was treated as blasphemy against the religion of "open space" -- and open space is just one of the wonderful things about the world envisioned by liberals that is ruinously expensive in the mundane world where the rest of us live.

Much as many liberals like to put guilt trips on other people, they seldom seek out, much less acknowledge and take responsibility for, the bad consequences of their own actions.

There are people who claim that astronomical housing prices in places like Palo Alto and San Francisco are due to a scarcity of land. But there is enough vacant land ("open space") on the other side of the 280 Freeway that goes past Palo Alto to build another Palo Alto or two -- except for laws and policies that make that impossible.

As in San Francisco and other parts of the country where housing prices skyrocketed after building homes was prohibited or severely restricted, this began in Palo Alto in the 1970s.

Housing prices in Palo Alto nearly quadrupled during that decade. This was not due to expensive new houses being built, because not a single new house was built in Palo Alto in the 1970s. The same old houses simply shot up in price.

It was very much the same story in San Francisco, which was a bastion of liberalism then as now. There too, incredibly high prices are charged for small houses, often jammed close together. A local newspaper described a graduate student looking for a place to rent who was "visiting one exorbitantly priced hovel after another."

That is part of the unacknowledged cost of "open space," and just part of the high cost of liberalism.



The High Cost of Liberalism: Part II

Thomas Sowell

Liberals can be disarming. In fact, they are for disarming anybody who can be disarmed, whether domestically or internationally.

Unfortunately, the people who are the easiest to disarm are the ones who are the most peaceful -- and disarming them makes them vulnerable to those who are the least peaceful.

We are currently getting a painful demonstration of that in Ukraine. When Ukraine became an independent nation, it gave up all the nuclear missiles that were on its territory from the days when it had been part of the Soviet Union.

At that time, Ukraine had the third largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world. Do you think Putin would have attacked Ukraine if it still had those nuclear weapons? Or do you think it is just a coincidence that nations with nuclear weapons don't get invaded?

Among those who urged Ukraine to reduce even its conventional, non-nuclear weapons as well, was a new United States Senator named Barack Obama. He was all for disarmament then, and apparently even now as President of the United States. He has refused Ukraine's request for weapons with which to defend itself.

As with so many things that liberals do, the disarmament crusade is judged by its good intentions, not by its actual consequences.

Indeed, many liberals seem unaware that the consequences could be anything other than what they hope for. That is why disarmament advocates are called "the peace movement."

Whether disarmament has in fact led to peace, more often than military deterrence has, is something that could be argued on the basis of the facts of history -- but it seldom is.

Liberals almost never talk about disarmament in terms of evidence of its consequences, whether they are discussing gun control at home or international disarmament agreements.

International disarmament agreements flourished between the two World Wars. Just a few years after the end of the First World War there were the Washington Naval Agreements of 1921-1922 that led to the United States actually sinking some of its own warships. Then there was the celebrated Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, in which nations renounced war, with France's Foreign Minister Aristide Briand declaring, "Away with rifles, machine guns, and cannon!" The "international community" loved it.

In Britain, the Labour Party repeatedly voted against military armaments during most of the decade of the 1930s. A popular argument of the time was that Britain should disarm "as an example to others."

Unfortunately, Hitler did not follow that example. He was busy building the most powerful military machine on the continent of Europe.

Nor did Germany or Japan allow the Washington Naval Agreements to cramp their style. The fact that Britain and America limited the size of their battleships simply meant that Germany and Japan had larger battleships when World War II began.

What is happening in Ukraine today is just a continuation of the old story about nations that disarm increasing the chances of being attacked by nations that do not disarm.

Any number of empirical studies about domestic gun control laws tell much the same story. Gun control advocates seldom, if ever, present hard evidence that gun crimes in general, or murder rates in particular, go down after gun control laws are passed or tightened.

That is the crucial question about gun control laws. But liberals settle that question by assumption. Then they can turn their attention to denouncing the National Rifle Association.

But neither the National Rifle Association nor the Second Amendment is the crucial issue. If the hard facts show that gun control laws actually reduce the murder rate, we can repeal the Second Amendment, as other Amendments have been repealed.

If in fact tighter gun control laws reduced the murder rate, that would be the liberals' ace of trumps. Why then do the liberals not play their ace of trumps, by showing us such hard facts? Because they don't have any such hard facts. So they give us lofty rhetoric and outraged indignation instead.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The New Zealand difference

3 yr-old Hannah on her way to the river, she knows the way.. Enough to make you weep if you live in some other parts of the world


Yes, IQ Really Matters

Critics of the SAT and other standardized testing are disregarding the data.  Leftists hate it because it shows that all men are NOT equal

By David Z. Hambrick and Christopher Chabris writing in "Slate" (!)

The College Board—the standardized testing behemoth that develops and administers the SAT and other tests—has redesigned its flagship product again. Beginning in spring 2016, the writing section will be optional, the reading section will no longer test “obscure” vocabulary words, and the math section will put more emphasis on solving problems with real-world relevance. Overall, as the College Board explains on its website, “The redesigned SAT will more closely reflect the real work of college and career, where a flexible command of evidence—whether found in text or graphic [sic]—is more important than ever.”

A number of pressures may be behind this redesign. Perhaps it’s competition from the ACT, or fear that unless the SAT is made to seem more relevant, more colleges will go the way of Wake Forest, Brandeis, and Sarah Lawrence and join the “test optional admissions movement,” which already boasts several hundred members. Or maybe it’s the wave of bad press that standardized testing, in general, has received over the past few years.

Critics of standardized testing are grabbing this opportunity to take their best shot at the SAT. They make two main arguments. The first is simply that a person’s SAT score is essentially meaningless—that it says nothing about whether that person will go on to succeed in college. Leon Botstein, president of Bard College and longtime standardized testing critic, wrote in Time that the SAT “needs to be abandoned and replaced,” and added:

"The blunt fact is that the SAT has never been a good predictor of academic achievement in college. High school grades adjusted to account for the curriculum and academic programs in the high school from which a student graduates are. The essential mechanism of the SAT, the multiple choice test question, is a bizarre relic of long outdated 20th century social scientific assumptions and strategies."

Calling use of SAT scores for college admissions a “national scandal,” Jennifer Finney Boylan, an English professor at Colby College, argued in the New York Times that:

"The only way to measure students’ potential is to look at the complex portrait of their lives: what their schools are like; how they’ve done in their courses; what they’ve chosen to study; what progress they’ve made over time; how they’ve reacted to adversity.
Along the same lines, Elizabeth Kolbert wrote in The New Yorker that “the SAT measures those skills—and really only those skills—necessary for the SATs.”

But this argument is wrong. The SAT does predict success in college—not perfectly, but relatively well, especially given that it takes just a few hours to administer. And, unlike a “complex portrait” of a student’s life, it can be scored in an objective way. (In a recent New York Times op-ed, the University of New Hampshire psychologist John D. Mayer aptly described the SAT’s validity as an “astonishing achievement.”)

In a study published in Psychological Science, University of Minnesota researchers Paul Sackett, Nathan Kuncel, and their colleagues investigated the relationship between SAT scores and college grades in a very large sample: nearly 150,000 students from 110 colleges and universities. SAT scores predicted first-year college GPA about as well as high school grades did, and the best prediction was achieved by considering both factors.

Botstein, Boylan, and Kolbert are either unaware of this directly relevant, easily accessible, and widely disseminated empirical evidence, or they have decided to ignore it and base their claims on intuition and anecdote—or perhaps on their beliefs about the way the world should be rather than the way it is.

Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, it’s not just first-year college GPA that SAT scores predict. In a four-year study that started with nearly 3,000 college students, a team of Michigan State University researchers led by Neal Schmitt found that test score (SAT or ACT—whichever the student took) correlated strongly with cumulative GPA at the end of the fourth year. If the students were ranked on both their test scores and cumulative GPAs, those who had test scores in the top half (above the 50th percentile, or median) would have had a roughly two-thirds chance of having a cumulative GPA in the top half. By contrast, students with bottom-half SAT scores would be only one-third likely to make it to the top half in GPA.

Test scores also predicted whether the students graduated: A student who scored in the 95th percentile on the SAT or ACT was about 60 percent more likely to graduate than a student who scored in the 50th percentile. Similarly impressive evidence supports the validity of the SAT’s graduate school counterparts: the Graduate Record Examinations, the Law School Admissions Test, and the Graduate Management Admission Test. A 2007 Science article summed up the evidence succinctly: “Standardized admissions tests have positive and useful relationships with subsequent student accomplishments.”

SAT scores even predict success beyond the college years. For more than two decades, Vanderbilt University researchers David Lubinski, Camilla Benbow, and their colleagues have tracked the accomplishments of people who, as part of a youth talent search, scored in the top 1 percent on the SAT by age 13. Remarkably, even within this group of gifted students, higher scorers were not only more likely to earn advanced degrees but also more likely to succeed outside of academia. For example, compared with people who “only” scored in the top 1 percent, those who scored in the top one-tenth of 1 percent—the extremely gifted—were more than twice as likely as adults to have an annual income in the top 5 percent of Americans.

The second popular anti-SAT argument is that, if the test measures anything at all, it’s not cognitive skill but socioeconomic status. In other words, some kids do better than others on the SAT not because they’re smarter, but because their parents are rich. Boylan argued in her Times article that the SAT “favors the rich, who can afford preparatory crash courses” like those offered by Kaplan and the Princeton Review. Leon Botstein claimed in his Time article that “the only persistent statistical result from the SAT is the correlation between high income and high test scores.” And according to a Washington Post Wonkblog infographic (which is really more of a disinfographic) “your SAT score says more about your parents than about you.”

It’s true that economic background correlates with SAT scores. Kids from well-off families tend to do better on the SAT. However, the correlation is far from perfect. In the University of Minnesota study of nearly 150,000 students, the correlation between socioeconomic status, or SES, and SAT was not trivial but not huge. (A perfect correlation has a value of 1; this one was .25.) What this means is that there are plenty of low-income students who get good scores on the SAT; there are even likely to be low-income students among those who achieve a perfect score on the SAT.

Thus, just as it was originally designed to do, the SAT in fact goes a long way toward leveling the playing field, giving students an opportunity to distinguish themselves regardless of their background. Scoring well on the SAT may in fact be the only such opportunity for students who graduate from public high schools that are regarded by college admissions offices as academically weak. In a letter to the editor, a reader of Elizabeth Kolbert’s New Yorker article on the SAT made this point well:

The SAT may be the bane of upper-middle-class parents trying to launch their children on a path to success. But sometimes one person’s obstacle is another person’s springboard. I am the daughter of a single, immigrant father who never attended college, and a good SAT score was one of the achievements that catapulted me into my state’s flagship university and, from there, on to medical school. Flawed though it is, the SAT afforded me, as it has thousands of others, a way to prove that a poor, public-school kid who never had any test prep can do just as well as, if not better than, her better-off peers.

The sort of admissions approach that Botstein advocates—adjusting high school GPA “to account for the curriculum and academic programs in the high school from which a student graduates” and abandoning the SAT—would do the opposite of leveling the playing field. A given high school GPA would be adjusted down for a poor, public-school kid, and adjusted up for a rich, private-school kid.

Furthermore, contrary to what Boylan implies in her Times piece, “preparatory crash courses” don’t change SAT scores much. Research has consistently shown that prep courses have only a small effect on SAT scores—and a much smaller effect than test prep companies claim they do. For example, in one study of a random sample of more than 4,000 students, average improvement in overall score on the “old” SAT, which had a range from 400 to 1600, was no more than about 30 points.

Finally, it is clear that SES is not what accounts for the fact that SAT scores predict success in college. In the University of Minnesota study, the correlation between high school SAT and college GPA was virtually unchanged after the researchers statistically controlled for the influence of SES. If SAT scores were just a proxy for privilege, then putting SES into the mix should have removed, or at least dramatically decreased, the association between the SAT and college performance. But it didn’t. This is more evidence that Boylan overlooks or chooses to ignore.

What this all means is that the SAT measures something—some stable characteristic of high school students other than their parents’ income—that translates into success in college. And what could that characteristic be? General intelligence. The content of the SAT is practically indistinguishable from that of standardized intelligence tests that social scientists use to study individual differences, and that psychologists and psychiatrists use to determine whether a person is intellectually disabled—and even whether a person should be spared execution in states that have the death penalty. Scores on the SAT correlate very highly with scores on IQ tests—so highly that the Harvard education scholar Howard Gardner, known for his theory of multiple intelligences, once called the SAT and other scholastic measures “thinly disguised” intelligence tests.

One could of course argue that IQ is also meaningless—and many have. For example, in his bestseller The Social Animal, David Brooks claimed that “once you get past some pretty obvious correlations (smart people make better mathematicians), there is a very loose relationship between IQ and life outcomes.” And in a recent Huffington Post article, psychologists Tracy Alloway and Ross Alloway wrote that

IQ won’t help you in the things that really matter: It won’t help you find happiness, it won’t help you make better decisions, and it won’t help you manage your kids’ homework and the accounts at the same time. It isn’t even that useful at its raison d'ĂȘtre: predicting success.

But this argument is wrong, too. Indeed, we know as well as anything we know in psychology that IQ predicts many different measures of success. Exhibit A is evidence from research on job performance by the University of Iowa industrial psychologist Frank Schmidt and his late colleague John Hunter. Synthesizing evidence from nearly a century of empirical studies, Schmidt and Hunter established that general mental ability—the psychological trait that IQ scores reflect—is the single best predictor of job training success, and that it accounts for differences in job performance even in workers with more than a decade of experience. It’s more predictive than interests, personality, reference checks, and interview performance. Smart people don’t just make better mathematicians, as Brooks observed—they make better managers, clerks, salespeople, service workers, vehicle operators, and soldiers.

IQ predicts other things that matter, too, like income, employment, health, and even longevity. In a 2001 study published in the British Medical Journal, Scottish researchers Lawrence Whalley and Ian Deary identified more than 2,000 people who had taken part in the Scottish Mental Survey of 1932, a nationwide assessment of IQ. Remarkably, people with high IQs at age 11 were more considerably more likely to survive to old age than were people with lower IQs. For example, a person with an IQ of 100 (the average for the general population) was 21 percent more likely to live to age 76 than a person with an IQ of 85. And the relationship between IQ and longevity remains statistically significant even after taking SES into account. Perhaps IQ reflects the mental resources—the reasoning and problem-solving skills—that people can bring to bear on maintaining their health and making wise decisions throughout life. This explanation is supported by evidence that higher-IQ individuals engage in more positive health behaviors, such as deciding to quit smoking.

IQ is of course not the only factor that contributes to differences in outcomes like academic achievement and job performance (and longevity). Psychologists have known for many decades that certain personality traits also have an impact. One is conscientiousness, which reflects a person’s self-control, discipline, and thoroughness. People who are high in conscientiousness delay gratification to get their work done, finish tasks that they start, and are careful in their work, whereas people who are low in conscientiousness are impulsive, undependable, and careless (compare Lisa and Bart Simpson). The University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Duckworth has proposed a closely related characteristic that she calls “grit,” which she defines as a person’s “tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals,” like building a career or family.  

Duckworth has argued that such factors may be even more important as predictors of success than IQ. In one study, she and UPenn colleague Martin Seligman found that a measure of self-control collected at the start of eighth grade correlated more than twice as strongly with year-end grades than IQ did. However, the results of meta-analyses, which are more telling than the results of any individual study, indicate that these factors do not have a larger effect than IQ does on measures of academic achievement and job performance. So, while it seems clear that factors like conscientiousness—not to mention social skill, creativity, interest, and motivation—do influence success, they cannot take the place of IQ.

None of this is to say that IQ, whether measured with the SAT or a traditional intelligence test, is an indicator of value or worth. Nobody should be judged, negatively or positively, on the basis of a test score. A test score is a prediction, not a prophecy, and doesn’t say anything specific about what a person will or will not achieve in life. A high IQ doesn’t guarantee success, and a low IQ doesn’t guarantee failure. Furthermore, the fact that IQ is at present a powerful predictor of certain socially relevant outcomes doesn’t mean it always will be. If there were less variability in income—a smaller gap between the rich and the poor—then IQ would have a weaker correlation with income. For the same reason, if everyone received the same quality of health care, there would be a weaker correlation between IQ and health.

But the bottom line is that there are large, measurable differences among people in intellectual ability, and these differences have consequences for people’s lives. Ignoring these facts will only distract us from discovering and implementing wise policies.

Given everything that social scientists have learned about IQ and its broad predictive validity, it is reasonable to make it a factor in decisions such as whom to hire for a particular job or admit to a particular college or university. In fact, disregarding IQ—by admitting students to colleges or hiring people for jobs in which they are very likely to fail—is harmful both to individuals and to society. For example, in occupations where safety is paramount, employers could be incentivized to incorporate measures of cognitive ability into the recruitment process. Above all, the policies of public and private organizations should be based on evidence rather than ideology or wishful thinking.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Goldwater lost in a landslide – and won the GOP future

by Jeff Jacoby

TO THE RECENT spate of 50th-anniversary reflections on key political and cultural milestones — the 1963 March on Washington, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Beatles' appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show — here's one to add: The presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater, the most influential also-ran in modern American politics.

Goldwater was nicknamed "Mr. Conservative," but now even liberals adore him. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. penned an essay a few years back effusive in its praise for Goldwater, whom he described as an exemplar of civility, decency, and integrity. Goldwater was "neither mean-spirited nor racist," wrote Kennedy; he challenged the liberals of his time through "sensible argument and honest conviction." A 2006 documentary produced by CC Goldwater, Barry's liberal's granddaughter, is strewn with such liberal tributes; Hillary Clinton, James Carville, and Walter Cronkite are among those who attest to the man's statesmanship and charm.

How things have changed.

In 1964, Goldwater appalled the political establishment. Though the blunt-spoken Arizonan's bestseller, "The Conscience of a Conservative," had made him a hero on the right even before his White House run, liberal commentators seemed shocked to discover that his conservatism was for real. When he declared, in his acceptance speech at the Republican convention in San Francisco, that "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, and … moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue," they were aghast.

What followed was one of the most ruthless campaigns of invective in US political history. Goldwater and his conservative supporters were repeatedly likened to Nazis, madmen, and warmongers. Jackie Robinson said he knew "how it felt to be a Jew in Hitler's Germany." Lyndon Johnson's notorious "daisy" commercial showed a little girl picking flower petals, until she is overwhelmed by the mushroom cloud of a nuclear explosion. A month before the election, the cover of Fact magazine blared: "1,189 Psychiatrists Say Goldwater is Unfit to be President!"

Conventional wisdom said Goldwater didn't have a prayer, and conventional wisdom was right. On Election Day, the Republican ticket suffered a crushing defeat. Johnson amassed 61 percent of the popular vote, the highest percentage in presidential campaign history; Democrats at every level swept to lopsided majorities reminiscent of the FDR landslide of 1936. Goldwater — the most ideologically conservative GOP nominee since Calvin Coolidge — hadn't just lost, he'd been buried.

What that meant, said the nation's most respected political analysts, was obvious: Conservatism was political poison, and the GOP had just swallowed a near-fatal dose.

"Barry Goldwater not only lost the presidential election yesterday, but the conservative cause as well," pronounced James Reston of The New York Times. "He has wrecked his party for a long time to come." Time magazine said Republican conservatives had been so completely humiliated "that they will not have another shot at party domination for some time to come."

But about that, conventional wisdom was dead wrong. So were the Eastern liberal Republicans who had long dominated the GOP. They didn't seek to roll back the vast increase in government programs that Democrats since the New Deal had embraced; their pitch to voters was that they could manage those programs with more businesslike efficiency. Many establishment Republicans were as turned off by Goldwater's ardent conservatism as Democrats and media liberals were. The chairman of the New York Republican Party called the Election Day debacle the "shattering price" the GOP had paid for its "erratic deviation from our soundly moderate 20th-century course." The voters had spoken, and conservatism had been "decisively vetoed."


Conservatism was no suicide pill, it was the Republican future. "In your heart, you know he's right" had been a much-mocked Goldwater campaign slogan ("In your guts, you know he's nuts" was one rejoinder), but it became increasingly clear that the heart of the Republican Party did indeed incline rightward. Goldwater may not have been a very good presidential candidate, but millions of Americans found his conservative ideals refreshing and inspiring.

Even as Goldwater was losing 44 states, there were remarkable signs of grassroots enthusiasm for his political message. Historian Steven Hayward points out that the Goldwater campaign received more than 1 million contributions, 400,000 of them in amounts under $10. Four years earlier, Richard Nixon's campaign had received only 40,000 contributions.

In 1964, the GOP's center of gravity began its decisive shift to the West and South. Of the 12 presidential elections that followed 1964, Republicans have won seven, and every GOP ticket since the Goldwater campaign has included a conservative. Who doubts today that conservatives constitute the party's base? Until 50 years ago, Republican presidential hopefuls competed for the imprimatur of the party's liberal establishment. Now, even the Republican establishment calls itself conservative — while Goldwater, savaged by Democrats in 1964, is described with affection and admiration by Democrats in 2014.

Goldwater lost a presidential election, but he changed the face of American politics. All winning candidates appeal to the mainstream. But only the most influential redirect it.



Homofascism widespread

On the Friday, April 18, All In show, during a discussion of the firing of former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich for simply donating to a political campaign opposing same-sex marriage, guest Richard Kim of the far left The Nation magazine intoned that he found it "disturbing" that gay activist friends of his have expressed interest in "targeting" more people who have made similar donations, and who have declared they should "find out where they live." Kim:

Here's a disturbing thing. I did ask some of my gay activist friends, I was like, "Look, here's a list; 6,500 people gave the same amount that he did or more in California. Should we go down the list and sort of start targeting all these people?" And I asked this facetiously, and people were like, "Let's do it. Let's find out where those people live. It's all-" To me, that's a disturbing level of targeting people.

Hayes, who had earlier expressed reservations about Eich's firing, exclaimed, "Yes," to Kim's view that such talk was "disturbing."



Liberals Announce Plan to ‘Purge’ Christians

They were always deadly serious about criminalizing Christianity and killing free speech, but now the American left has stopped pretending otherwise. In a recent column titled, “Why Are They Called ‘Homofascists’? Here’s Why,” I wrote that “progressive,” “Christian-hating fascists” – but I repeat myself – are “hell-bent on criminalizing Christianity and pushing to the fringes anyone who publicly acknowledges natural human sexuality and the age-old, immutable institution of legitimate marriage as created by God.”

I was referring specifically to the left’s well-organized and highly disturbing character assassination of former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich for his private support of natural marriage. I was also addressing the larger goal of the American left to completely shut down free speech and freedom of religion and to severely punish anyone who maintains both biblically and biologically correct views on human sexuality.

I closed with this: “They smell blood in the water. I’ve often said that these folks want those who speak biblical truth about human sexuality and legitimate marriage either 1) dead, 2) imprisoned or, if they can have neither of these, 3) marginalized to the point where they can’t even support their families.

“Check No. 3 off the list. I guess they’re working backwards.”

The very next day, and as if right on cue, lefty rag Slate magazine vomited evidence of my claims. It could not have been better scripted if I’d written it myself.

In an article titled, “Purge the Bigots,” Slate writer William Saletan penned these chilling words: “Some of my colleagues are celebrating. They call Eich a bigot who got what he deserved. I agree. But let’s not stop here. If we’re serious about enforcing the new standard, thousands of other employees who donated to the same anti-gay ballot measure must be punished.

“More than 35,000 people gave money to the campaign for Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that declared, ‘Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,’” he continued. “Why do these bigots still have jobs? Let’s go get them.”

Now, to be fair, Saletan later claimed that his article was intended as satire to illustrate the hypocrisy of his own “progressive” movement. Many, if not most, of his readers seemed to miss the joke,and the article’s comments section quickly filled with people agreeing that it was, indeed, time to “purge the bigots” (read: Christians).

The Fox News Channel observed that the piece “may or may not be tongue-in-cheek.” Satire is traditionally somewhat clever, witty and fairly easy to recognize as such. Mr. Saletan’s piece was none of these things. Nevertheless, I will give him the benefit of the doubt.

Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute noted, “The problem with Saletan’s satirical piece is that, unlike Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal,’ Saletan’s is not outrageous enough. It should be outrageous enough for a satire, but unfortunately, homosexual activists and their allies are tyrannical enough to do just what he’s proposing.

“I know there are many progressives who think such a proposal is defensible,” she observed. “In fact, eight years ago, a colleague (AMM) at Deerfield High School told me that she is so sure conservative beliefs about homosexuality are wrong that they shouldn’t be allowed to be spoken in public schools – even if kids are studying homosexuality-affirming resources. And she was not speaking satirically.”

So here we have Mr. Saletan playing the role of today’s Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi propaganda minister, in an effort, albeit a clumsy one, to underscore how utterly out of control his own “progressive” movement has become and, in the spirit of argumentum ad absurdum, gently coax his fellow bohemians from madness.

Slate was apparently in on the fun too, pretending, for a day, to be “Nationalsozialistischen Briefe,” Goebbels’ parallel publication, in an equally awkward attempt to use the power of metaphor as a scrub brush to wash away the stench of totalitarianism from an American left bathed in it.

But as you read the article a frightening reality quickly rises to the surface. It’s neither funny nor untrue. None of it. The cultural Marxist American left is 100-percent serious about “purging” Christians from society.

They’re as serious as Josef Stalin’s heart attack.

Continued Saletan: “To organize the next stage of the purge, I’ve compiled the financial data into three tables” (he actually did this). He then listed details from, and linked to, the Proposition 8 hit list reportedly leaked by the Obama IRS and meticulously assembled and published by the Los Angeles Times.

This was all by design. It’s what led to Brendan Eich’s career beheading. But Eich was just the opening act. The list provides the exact names, employers, places of residence and dollar amounts of every single person in America who donated even a dime to the Golden State’s campaign to protect natural marriage (I realize it’s hopelessly symbolic, but as matter of principle I will not link to the list).

This is a level of voter intimidation and journalistic terrorism on the part of the Obama administration and the L.A. Times that is unprecedented in American history.

Joking or not, Herr Saletan then gave the rainbow-shirts their jackbooted marching orders: “If we’re serious about taking down corporate officers who supported Proposition 8, and boycotting employers who promote them, we’d better get cracking on the rest of the list,” he said, concluding, “otherwise, perhaps we should put down the pitchforks.”

You do understand this, right? Obama, the L.A. Times and America’s larger “progressive” movement are dead serious about purging Christians and other traditionalists from both the workplace and society at large. It’s coming. Mozilla was just the opening salvo.

In the very same way Eich’s forced resignation was deliberately calculated to terrorize any American who might resist the left’s sexual anarchist agenda, and support some future, legally executed pro-family ballot initiative, the clear purpose behind releasing the Prop 8 donor list was to instill terror in the hearts of Christians and other traditionalists who support natural marriage, family and human sexuality. It was a not-so-subtle shot over the bow.

It was also a call to arms. It’s fight or flight time, America.  I’ve made my choice.

I say that if we once crushed fascism from without … we can sure as hell crush it from within.



Black activist mocks people hurt by Obamacare

On the Sunday, April 20, Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC, as host Harris-Perry chastised Democrats for not bragging about ObamaCare for the year's midterm elections, she at one point mocked Americans angry about having their health insurance plans cancelled, which she referred to as "crappy plans," as she lamented that Democrats are not boasting about ObamaCare or declaring, "Yeah, you can't keep your crappy plans. Just deal with that!"

Her mockery of the ObamaCare-induced insurance cancellations came as she compared Republicans to people who flip houses and brag about doing only a little work, as she characterized Democrats, by contrast, as people who do substantial work on houses but fail to boast about it adequately to potential buyers. Harris-Perry:

You can have some people -- let's call them Republicans -- who will go into a fallen down blighted house, slap on some granite counter tops, while ignoring real problems, and declare their work is the best thing ever.

After boasting about Democrats passing ObamaCare, she lamented:

And they're not even owning it. No confidence, no swagger. No, "Yeah, you can't keep your crappy plans. Just deal with that!"


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Monday, April 21, 2014

We Are A Nation Of Narcissists

People have been saying the country is "going to hell in a handbasket" for decades. It's sort of a rite of passage for every current generation to look at the next one and think it will screw up things so badly everything will be ruined. But the handbasket this current generation is creating may well be the one that sinks us.

Every generation is the product of the previous one - its culture, morals, priorities, everything. In the 20th century, that meant passing on a work ethic, the importance of family and the American Dream that each generation will do better than the last. That optimism hit a wall with the baby boomers.

Baby boomers, the generation born between 1946 and 1964, are the current leaders and, as such, set the tone for what comes next. The example they've set as the "me generation" planted the seeds for what we're seeing now in the news, and those images do not bode well for the future.

Baby boomers pioneered the "if it feels good do it" mentality prevalent in the `60s and `70s - sex, drugs and rock and roll; a lifestyle that lived for the "now," future be damned. They seemed to lack an appreciation for consequences; the hangover never sets in if you don't stop drinking.

But the bills will come due; the piper must be paid.

Baby boomers are the credit card generation, living on money borrowed - taken, actually - from their children and grandchildren. They're also the generation that placed emphasis on self-esteem above all.

High schools and colleges across the country have, and are, graduating little monsters who've never heard the word "no," who've been told they're never wrong and every choice is equally valid. These kids don't have parents, they have "best friends."

Parents aren't solely responsible for this, although they are individually responsible for their own children. The culture they created, accept and celebrate is the main culprit.

We once celebrated success. Now, we simply elevate being. We once shunned certain behaviors; now, they are the yellow brick road to the future.

Andy Warhol famously said "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes," and he was nearly right. Nearly because "famous" is no longer a result of actions; it's the goal. Celebrity is heroin, and we have a generation entering adulthood as addicted as any junkie.

Talent or achievements are no longer required for fame; it's now as easy as being willing to make an ass of yourself on video and post it online. Successful people in the working world were once admired and held up as positive examples; now they are the object of scorn and ridicule. Unwashed children of privilege "occupy" parks and protest at their homes while networks cover these actions as if they're accomplishments.

The media is an unindicted co-conspirator in the dumbing down of the future. It's not just the news media - though it's possible to watch all three major network newscasts and not learn anything worthwhile - it's all the media. We are collectively dumber for knowing what a "Snooki," a "Chrisley," or a "Honey Boo Boo" are. How many brain cells committed suicide rather than be dedicated to remembering which inflated bimbo the vacant Juan Pablo hooked up with? Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian would've been cautionary tales 20 years ago; now they make millions for existing. The collective IQ of "reality TV stars," musicians and celebutantes is dwarfed by the number of teeth in the mouth of a newborn baby, yet these are people admired by tens of millions of people who will assume the reins of power in the not-too-distant future.

People magazine doesn't outsell every news magazine in print by accident, it outsells them because it is more interesting than news magazines. Why drink no-brand cola when Coke is available?

Self is all-encompassing - but it's not the individual, it's the collective "self." The pursuit of attention, the need to make everything about "me" is overwhelming people now. If it isn't shared on social media it didn't happen.

Twitter and Facebook are the Holy Grail of this new narcissism, and we've all been ensnared in it to one degree or another. Having a good meal? Post a picture of it or it didn't happen. Have a thought on a news story? Tweet a link or it doesn't matter. Have a solid bowel movement? Well, you get the idea.

We are over-sharing like a drunken uncle at the family Christmas dinner talking about his ex-wife, and there will be consequences.

Recently, the president of the National Organization for Women clumsily tried to make to make an irrelevant point about how bad employees have it nowadays. But in the process, she accidentally made a good point. She told MSNBC employers have an advantage, "They know everything they need to know about their employees . all they have to do is go on Facebook." She's right, but who put it there?

If you smoked a joint with Snoop Dogg last weekend, it will make for a fun story to share with friends. But when you share it with the world, complete with pictures, it may have consequences when it comes to getting a job in the future. Stupid moments are fleeting; the Internet is forever.

When a student went on a stabbing spree in a Pittsburgh-area school, one of his victims posted a picture of himself in his hospital gown on Instagram. The "stabbing selfie" brought about a small firestorm of criticism, but it's what society created.

Reality is being reduced to a series of 140-character tweets and a "like" button. Get punched in the face by a comedian? Don't defend yourself, tweet it! A madman shooting up a mall? Forget getting to safety, the world must know your every thought.

There is nothing not shared on social media anymore - from births to birthdays, dates to break-ups. Everything is fodder for the attention monster we're all becoming. Facebook is full of profile pictures featuring everything from people's most intimate moments to their latest appearance on cable TV as if they'd cured cancer, Foursquare lets the world know where you are at any given moment. It's hard to tell if people truly are upset the NSA is tracking their every move or if they're simply mad the NSA beat them to the punch. Privacy isn't being stolen as much as it's being voluntarily traded for a quick fix of micro-fame.

We have become a nation of narcissists - attention junkies measuring our success by the number of Facebook friends and Twitter followers we have rather than our accomplishments. None of us are immune - to one degree or another we've all been affected by this attention seeking. What that will mean when the next generation assumes power remains to be seen, but it can't be good. I opine about it regularly on Twitter. Give me a follow!



Continued High LEGAL Immigration Steadily Erodes GOP Prospects

The nation's prolonged flow of legal immigration has changed - and continues to change - the political landscape. A new Center for Immigration Studies report, "Immigration's Impact on Republican Political Prospects, 1980 to 2012", finds that each one percentage-point increase in the immigrant share of a large county's population reduces the Republican share of the two-party presidential vote by an average of nearly 0.6 percentage points.

This shift is relatively uniform throughout the country, from California to Texas to Florida, regardless of the local party's stance on immigration. It is due to immigrant communities' lopsided support for big-government policies, which are more closely aligned with progressives than with conservatives. As a result, survey data show a two-to-one party identification with Democrats over Republicans. Increased immigration also significantly expands the low-income population, making voters overall more supportive of redistributive policies championed by Democrats to support disadvantaged populations.

See the report here

"As the immigrant population has grown, Republican electoral prospects have dimmed, even after controlling for alternative explanations of GOP performance," wrote James Gimpel, author of the report and a professor of government at the University of Maryland at College Park. "Republicans are right to want to attract Latino voters," he continued. "But expanding the flow of low-skilled immigrants into an economy ill-suited to promote their upward mobility will be counterproductive."

Over one million legal immigrants enter the United States each year. If this number were drastically increased, as called for by the Gang of Eight bill (S.744), the decline of the Republican Party would be accelerated. "The impact of immigration is easily sufficient, by itself, to decide upcoming presidential elections," Gimpel wrote.

Email from CIS


Leftists undermine campaign finance solution

By Charles Krauthammer

The debate over campaign contributions is never-ending for a simple reason: Both sides of the argument have merit.

On the one hand, of course money is speech. For most citizens, contributing to politicians or causes is the most effective way to augment and amplify speech with which they agree. The most disdainful dismissers of this argument are editorialists and incumbent politicians who — surprise! — already enjoy access to vast audiences and don’t particularly like their monopoly being invaded by the unwashed masses or the self-made plutocrat.

On the other hand, of course money is corrupting. The nation’s jails are well stocked with mayors, legislators, judges and the occasional governor who have exchanged favors for cash. However, there are lesser — and legal — forms of influence-peddling short of the outright quid pro quo. Campaign contributions are carefully calibrated to approach that line without crossing it. But money distorts. There is no denying the unfairness of big contributors buying access unavailable to the everyday citizen.

Hence the endless law-writing to restrict political contributions, invariably followed by multiple fixes to correct the inevitable loopholes. The result is a baffling mass of legislation administered by one cadre of experts and dodged by another.

For a long time, a simple finesse offered a rather elegant solution: no limits on giving — but with full disclosure.

Open the floodgates, and let the monies, big and small, check and balance each other. And let transparency be the safeguard against corruption. As long as you know who is giving what to whom, you can look for, find and, if necessary, prosecute corrupt connections between donor and receiver.

This used to be my position. No longer. I had not foreseen how donor lists would be used not to ferret out corruption but to pursue and persecute citizens with contrary views. Which corrupts the very idea of full disclosure.

It is now an invitation to the creation of enemies lists. Containing, for example, Brendan Eich, forced to resign as Mozilla CEO when it was disclosed that six years earlier he’d given $1,000 to support a referendum banning gay marriage. He was hardly the first. Activists compiled blacklists of donors to Proposition 8 and went after them. Indeed, shortly after the referendum passed, both the artistic director of the California Musical Theatre in Sacramento and the president of the Los Angeles Film Festival were hounded out of office.

Referendums produce the purest example of transparency misused because corrupt favoritism is not an issue. There’s no one to corrupt. Supporting a referendum is a pure expression of one’s beliefs. Full disclosure in that context becomes a cudgel, an invitation to harassment.

Sometimes the state itself does the harassing. The IRS scandal left many members of political groups exposed to abuse, such as the unlawful release of confidential data. In another case, the Obama campaign Web site in 2012 published the names of eight big Romney donors, alleging them to have “less-than-reputable records.” A glow-in-the-dark target having been painted on his back, Idaho businessman Frank VanderSloot (reported the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel) suddenly found himself subject to multiple audits, including two by the IRS.

In his lone dissent to the disclosure requirement in Citizens United, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that American citizens should not be subject “to death threats, ruined careers, damaged or defaced property, or pre-emptive and threatening warning letters as the price for engaging in core political speech, the primary object of First Amendment protection.” (Internal quote marks omitted.)

In fact, wariness of full disclosure goes back to 1958 when the Supreme Court ruled that the NAACP did not have to release its membership list to the state, understanding that such disclosure would surely subject its members to persecution. “This court has recognized the vital relationship between freedom to associate and privacy in one’s associations . . . particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs.”

A different era, a different set of dissidents. But the naming of names, the listing of lists, goes on. The enforcers are at it again, this time armed with sortable Internet donor lists.

The ultimate victim here is full disclosure itself. If revealing your views opens you to the politics of personal destruction, then transparency, however valuable, must give way to the ultimate core political good, free expression.

Our collective loss. Coupling unlimited donations and full disclosure was a reasonable way to reconcile the irreconcilables of campaign finance. Like so much else in our politics, however, it has been ruined by zealots. What a pity.



Murderer was ANTI-Republican

Glenn Miller, a KKK extremist and founder of the White Patriot Party, was arrested and charged for the murder of three Jewish Christians in Kansas City. The Leftmedia was quick to brand the crime a "hate crime," in part because he reportedly yelled "Heil Hitler" upon his arrest, and authorities will charge him with one.

Of course it's a hate crime -- he murdered three people. Miller has a checkered political history, running for office as both a Democrat and a Republican at different times. He also wrote in 2012 that Israel was trying to "buy the presidential election for the neo-con, war-mongering republican [sic] establishment."



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Workplace Discrimination Is Everywhere! Bureau of Labor Statistics Proves It!

President Obama and many of his fellow Democrat politicians think they have identified a terrible injustice in the “gender pay gap.” But with almost no effort, anyone who can access the Internet can go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website and find information showing a far greater injustice: the pay gap between young people and older workers.

Obama and company are scandalized that women are paid 77 percent of what men are paid. Yet I have heard them say nothing about BLS numbers showing 16- to 24-year olds are paid only 54 percent of what workers 25 and older are paid.

Sex discrimination in the workplace? Apparently it’s nothing compared to age discrimination in the workplace!

The BLS informs us: “Median weekly earnings were highest for women age 35 to 64 in 2012, with little difference in the earnings of 35- to 44-year-olds ($747), 45- to 54-year-olds ($746), and 55- to 64-year-olds ($766).” Women 16 to 24 years old were paid only $416 a week, according to the BLS.

“Among men,” the BLS tells us, “workers who were age 45 to 64 had the highest earnings, with 45- to 54-year-olds ($994) making about the same as 55- to 64-year-olds ($1,005).” Men 16 to 24 years old were paid only $468 a week, according to the BLS.

Outrageous! And the more we delve into the BLS report, the more discrimination we find! For instance:

“Asian women and men earned more than their White, Black, and Hispanic or Latino counterparts in 2012. Among women, Whites ($710) earned 92 percent as much as Asians ($770), while Blacks ($599) and Hispanics ($521) earned 78 percent and 68 percent as much as Asians, respectively. In comparison, White men ($879) earned 83 percent as much as Asian men ($1,055); Black men ($665) earned 63 percent as much as Asians; and Hispanic men ($592), 56 percent.”

It’s clear as crystal: Employers discriminate against Whites, Blacks and Hispanics of both sexes while favoring Asians of both sexes!

Oh, no. We read a little farther and find this: “Earnings growth has been largest for White women, outpacing that of their Black and Hispanic counterparts. Between 1979 and 2012, inflation-adjusted earnings (also called constant-dollar earnings) rose by 31 percent for White women, compared with an increase of 20 percent for Black women and 13 percent for Hispanic women. In contrast, earnings for White and Black men in 2012 showed little or no change from their 1979 constant-dollar levels, while Hispanic men’s earnings were down by 8 percent after adjusting for inflation. . . . Asians were not included in this analysis because comparable data for the group are not available until 2003.”

So, since 1979, in constant-dollar terms, employers have been discriminating against men, holding down their earnings while giving White, Black and Hispanic women double-digit increases in their earnings!

Oh, and it gets worse!

“At each level of education, women have fared better than men with respect to earnings growth. Although both women and men without a high school diploma have experienced declines in inflation-adjusted earnings since 1979, the drop for women was significantly less than that for men: a 14-percent decrease for women as opposed to a 32-percent decline for men. On an inflation-adjusted basis, earnings for women with a college degree have increased by 28 percent since 1979, while those of male college graduates have risen by 17 percent.”

So employers have gone more than 30 years discriminating against men regardless of education!

I can’t stand to read any further. Paragraph after paragraph of discrimination laid out for us by the government’s own Bureau of Labor Statistics! Read it all yourself, if you have the stomach for it.

President Obama has not been shy about wielding that famous pen of his to right all sorts of workplace wrongs. Recently he has decreed a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour for federal government contractors. On Tuesday he signed an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their compensation. And he signed a Presidential Memorandum “instructing the Secretary of Labor to establish new regulations requiring federal contractors to submit to the Department of Labor summary data on compensation paid to their employees, including data by sex and race,” according to a White House press release.  “The Department of Labor will use the data to encourage compliance with equal pay laws and to target enforcement more effectively by focusing efforts where there are discrepancies and reducing burdens on other employers.”

Equal pay laws? After reading the BLS report, it appears there is no such thing as equal pay. Discrimination is the only possible explanation for all these numbers! The mystery to me is why President Obama and other Democrat leaders have so narrowly focused their attention on the gender pay gap when the BLS has highlighted so many other egregious workplace injustices that scream to be righted.



Three Cheers for Tax Scofflaws (They Keep Us Afloat and Limit Government's Reach)

Today is Tax Day, the day by which Americans' tax returns must be postmarked or electronically submitted in order to avoid the wrath of the shakedown artists at the Internal Revenue Service. Mind you, that's not the same as Tax Freedom Day, the day on which Americans as a whole have earned enough money to pay the year's total tax bill—that's April 21 in 2014, three days later than last year. But the bill due on Tax Day isn't high enough for some, nor is Tax Freedom Day late enough in the year. Jonathan Cohn, of The New Republic, thinks the U.S. government should follow the example of other regimes that demand a bigger take from people's labors and that "a bigger April 15 bill would mean a better society."

What Cohn fails to mention is that tax-happy governments tend to drive tax-averse people to hide in the shadows, concealing vast shares of the economy from officials, and severely limiting the reach of the state. If prople like Cohn really want to emulate other country's tax rates, he'll have to take their off-the-books economies, too—and the limits they impose on what the state can actually take.

Cohn writes in praise of all the good things he sees in a high tax tab.

That payroll tax taken out of everybody’s check? It’s buying you Medicare and Social Security, which means a more secure retirement free of crippling medical bills. Your federal income tax? Its effects are a lot more diffuse. But chances are pretty good that you’ve already used some infrastructure today—whether it was a road or railway you took to work, or maybe the information technology connections you’re using to read this article. Federal, state, and local taxes helped pay for that. Is your water and air clean? Are you safe from threats, domestic and foreign? Then you’re getting something valuable from the Environment Protection Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Defense. Your tax dollars paid for those, too.

He has a tough sales job ahead of him, though. Seventy-six percent of respondents to our recent Reason-Rupe poll say that private charity does as well or better than government in getting mileage from their tax dollars. That means Americans are unlikely to knuckle down and submit to a bigger bill without protest. That's no small concern when you consider that the U.S. has traditionally had the highest income tax compliance rate in the world, and the smallest shadow economy—that is, people engaging in otherwise legal economic activity, but out of sight of the tax man and regulators.

But that's changing.

In recent years, the income tax compliance rate in the United States dipped to 83.1 percent. That's still high, compared to the United Kingdom at 77.97 percent or Switzerland at 77.7 percent, but the gap is closing.

The U.S. shadow economy has also traditionally been smaller than that of other countries. But last year, estimates that it had reached $2 trillion and might account for the country avoiding a return to recession made headlines.

"You normally see underground economies in places like Brazil or in southern Europe," said Laura Gonzalez, professor of personal finance at Fordham University. "But with the job situation and the uncertainty in the economy, it's not all that surprising to have it growing here in the United States."

Estimates are that underground activity last year totaled as much as $2 trillion, according to a study by Edgar Feige, an economist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

That's double the amount in 2009, according to a study by Friedrich Schneider, a professor at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria. The study said the shadow economy amounts to nearly 8 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.

Why the sudden growth?

Schneider, the shadow economy expert mentioned in that CNBC story quoted above, remarks, "In almost all studies it has been found out, that the tax and social security contribution burdens are one of the main causes for the existence of the shadow economy." He adds, "The bigger the difference between the total cost of labor in the official economy and the after-tax earnings (from work), the greater is the incentive to avoid this difference and to work in the shadow economy."

Which is to say, if you raise taxes, many people stop paying part or all of them. They hide their efforts, and their income, from the government. In fact, a lot of countries have much bigger economies than official figures suggest, since so much of it happens off the books. If underground activity is equivalent to 8 percent of the U.S. economy, it might be 15 percent of Sweden's, and 20 percent of Spain's.

So, that larger government take that Cohn likes so much becomes nominal, since it's only a share of the official portion of the economy. In fact, once you adjust for the size of the shadow economy, the government's share in the U.S., at roughly (my estimates) 39 percent, is nearly identical to the German state's 40 percent.

Cohn and his friends may not like to hear it, but the tax scofflaws who flee the high taxes he favors have already been credited with keeping America out of recession, and Spain functioning at all. Let's hear it for their scofflaw efforts.



Gold bugs weeping and wailing and garnishing their teeth

Whichever route private investors chose to get exposure to the precious metal, the past three years have not been an easy rise for gold fans.

Both the bullion price and shares in gold mining companies have fallen significantly. Those who put their faith in a fund manager who specialises in both have racked up huge paper losses.

There are seven gold funds available to British investors, and on average they have lost 68pc over the past three years. An investor who ploughed £10,000 into one of these funds three years ago will today find that their investment has shrunk to just £3,200.

Those who bought an exchange-traded fund that aims to track the performance of the gold price have faired slightly better, but have still posted a hefty loss. The precious metal was trading at around $1,547 an ounce in April 2011, but today has slumped to just over $1,300, a 17pc fall.

Gold is viewed as the Marmite of investment. On one side of the coin gold bugs argue that the precious metal offers the best insurance against the risk of inflation and other hazards that could potentially derail global stock markets.

But bears argue that it is impossible to value gold because it pays no income.

Last year investors slashed their gold positions, but since the turn of the year sentiment seems to have improved. Index fund provider ETF Securities said gold had been by far its most popular product over the past two months, with $858m flooding in



Calls grow for money printing in Sweden

Sweden has become the first country in northern Europe to slide into serious deflation, prompting a blistering attack on the Riksbank’s monetary policies by the world’s leading deflation expert.

Swedish consumer prices fell 0.4pc in March from a year earlier, catching the authorities by surprise and leading to calls for immediate action to avert a Japanese-style trap.

Lars Svensson, the Riksbank’s former deputy governor, said the slide into deflation had been caused by a “very dramatic tightening of monetary policy” over the past four years. He called for rates to be slashed from 0.75pc to -0.25pc to drive down the krona, and advised the bank to prepare for quantitative easing on a “large scale”.

Prof Svensson said Sweden was at risk of a “liquidity trap” akin to the 1930s, with deflation causing debt burdens to ratchet up in real terms. Swedish household debt is 170pc of disposable income, among Europe’s highest.

The former Princeton University professor wrote the world’s most widely cited works on deflation, his advice being sought by the US Federal Reserve’s Ben Bernanke during the financial crisis.

Sweden’s Riksbank admitted in its latest monetary report that something unexpected had gone wrong, perhaps due to a worldwide deflationary impulse. “Low inflation has not been fully explained by normal correlations between developments in companies’ prices and costs for some time now. Companies have found it difficult to pass on their cost increases to consumers. This could, in turn, be because demand has been weaker than normal,” it said.

The Riksbank has been trying to “lean against the wind” to curb house price rises and consumer credit, pioneering a new policy that gives weight to the dangers of asset bubbles. But this is proving easier said than done without hurting the productive economy, suggesting that it may be better to use mortgage curbs or other means to rein in property mania.

It is unusual for the Riksbank – the world’s oldest central bank – to be accused of being too hawkish. Swedish economists have been among the most avant-garde for a century. John Maynard Keynes borrowed many of his boldest ideas from the Stockholm School in the 1920s. Sweden largely avoided the Great Depression because the Riksbank tore up the rule book and pursued a reflation strategy very early, with great success.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)