Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Is it racist to own a gun?

The academic article below says it is.  To understand what is going on, you need to know what is meant by "symbolic racism".  Basically it means reasoned racism.  Below are the items of the most popular such scale.  Some items are pro-black and some are anti-black:

The Symbolic Racism 2000 Scale

1.   It’s really a matter of some people not trying hard enough; if blacks would only try harder they could be just as well off as whites.     

2.  Irish, Italian, Jewish and many other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up.  Blacks should do the same.

3.  Some say that black leaders have been trying to push too fast.  Others feel that they haven’t pushed fast enough.  What do you think? 

4.  How much of the racial tension that exists in the United States today do you think blacks are responsible for creating?                     

5.  How much discrimination against blacks do you feel there is in the United States today, limiting their chances to get ahead?

6.  Generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way out of the lower class.

7.  Over the past few years, blacks have gotten less than they deserve.

8.  Over the past few years, blacks have gotten more economically than they deserve.


So a symbolic racist disapproves of perceived black characteristics.  But a  very prominent characteristic of blacks is their high rate of violent crime -- muggings, home invasions etc.  So a symbolic racist will also be sure to disapprove of black crime.  And if black crime is salient to you, it follows rather easily that you will be more likely to want to defend yourself from it.  And that is the whole of what the article below shows:  People who accept the reality of black crime are more likely to want to defend themselves from it.

But what are we to make of people who are critical of blacks?  Are they being unreasonable?  Leftists would say that they are.  But conservatives would say that Leftists are deliberately blind to black reality.

The way in which many newspapers refuse to mention the race of a black perpetrator in a crime report certainly does display a policy of deliberate blindness. So a broader interpretation of the finding would be that realists own guns.

Racism, Gun Ownership and Gun Control: Biased Attitudes in US Whites May Influence Policy Decisions

Kerry O’Brien et al.



Racism is related to policies preferences and behaviors that adversely affect blacks and appear related to a fear of blacks (e.g., increased policing, death penalty). This study examined whether racism is also related to gun ownership and opposition to gun controls in US whites.


The most recent data from the American National Election Study, a large representative US sample, was used to test relationships between racism, gun ownership, and opposition to gun control in US whites. Explanatory variables known to be related to gun ownership and gun control opposition (i.e., age, gender, education, income, conservatism, anti-government sentiment, southern vs. other states, political identification) were entered in logistic regression models, along with measures of racism, and the stereotype of blacks as violent. Outcome variables included; having a gun in the home, opposition to bans on handguns in the home, support for permits to carry concealed handguns.


After accounting for all explanatory variables, logistic regressions found that for each 1 point increase in symbolic racism there was a 50% increase in the odds of having a gun at home. After also accounting for having a gun in the home, there was still a 28% increase in support for permits to carry concealed handguns, for each one point increase in symbolic racism. The relationship between symbolic racism and opposition to banning handguns in the home (OR1.27 CI 1.03,1.58) was reduced to non-significant after accounting for having a gun in the home (OR1.17 CI.94,1.46), which likely represents self-interest in retaining property (guns).


Symbolic racism was related to having a gun in the home and opposition to gun control policies in US whites. The findings help explain US whites’ paradoxical attitudes towards gun ownership and gun control. Such attitudes may adversely influence US gun control policy debates and decisions.



Illegal immigrant who paved way for Massachusetts’ ‘sanctuary’ policy arrested in stunning robbery

The illegal immigrant whose case turned Massachusetts into a “sanctuary” state is behind bars yet again.

Police say he committed a stunning daylight robbery by taking a wheelchair-bound woman, slapping her and stealing the $2,000 she had just carried out of the bank.

Sreynuon Lunn had been free on the streets of Boston because his home country won’t take him back, leaving immigration officers no choice but to release him under a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

His case gained headlines over the summer when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that state and local authorities could no longer legally hold immigrants for pickup by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Now ICE is trying to decide whether to try again to pick up and deport Lunn, even as he faces local charges from the latest robbery.

“The first, obvious problem is that Lunn is here at all. He should be removed to either Cambodia or Thailand, but apparently neither country will take him,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, which wants stricter immigration controls.

A 65-year-old wheelchair-bound woman told police that Lunn and a female companion wheeled her away from a bank where she had just withdrawn $2,000, then robbed her. After the woman told Lunn to stop, he responded with an expletive, slapped her in the face and fled, according to the police report. The woman’s son and others witnessed the assault.

Lunn told police that he robbed the woman because he was detoxing and needed money for drugs. He blamed his companion, identified as Tiffany Bovio, for the idea of the robbery.

Immigrant rights advocates said Lunn’s latest arrest amounts to a local crime report that doesn’t merit much attention.

“I’m not going to comment on the charges against Mr. Lunn except to say that under U.S. law, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. If he did actually commit a robbery, the criminal justice system will put him in prison after giving him his due process,” said Eva A. Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. “However, one thing that is crystal-clear is that the arrest of Mr. Lunn has nothing to do with the Supreme Judicial Court case about his unlawful detention.”

The court ruled in July that Massachusetts law enforcement officers could not hold illegal immigrants just to give ICE agents a chance to pick them up for deportation.

“Massachusetts law provides no authority for Massachusetts court officers to arrest and hold an individual solely on the basis of a federal civil immigration detainer, beyond the time that the individual would otherwise be entitled to be released from state custody,” the state high court ruled.

The justices said deportation is a civil proceeding, not a criminal matter, and while there are some cases in which police can detain someone without a criminal charge — drunks, deadbeat parents and “sexually dangerous persons” — that doesn’t apply to illegal immigrants or others eligible for deportation.

Lunn has been under a final order of deportation since 2008, but ICE has been unable to oust him. He was born to Cambodian parents in a refugee camp in Thailand, and Cambodia refuses to recognize him as a citizen.

ICE agents tried to deport Lunn again this year, taking custody after a previous robbery charge, but were again rebuffed by Cambodia and had to release him after more than three months.

Under the 2001 Zadvydas v. Davis ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, the government cannot detain migrants for immigration violations beyond six months, except in cases involving national security or severe mental health problems.

Thousands of people — many with serious convictions on their records — are released from ICE custody each year thanks to the Zadvydas ruling. In one notorious case, a man who served time for attempted murder was released onto the streets after Haiti refused to take him back, and months later he killed a young woman in Connecticut after a drug dispute with her boyfriend.

President Trump this month called for Congress to amend the law to change the Zadvydas ruling and said he wants to crack down on sanctuary cities.

Ms. Vaughan said both are needed.

“This case illustrates exactly why Congress needs to pass legislation that clarifies that state and local law enforcement agencies may and should honor ICE detainers and warrants,” she said. “We’ve seen enough examples of released criminal aliens who go on to harm more people. Enough already.”



Democrats Have Done a 180 on Corporate Taxes. Here’s What They Said Last Year

The president proposed cutting the corporate tax rate in his budget. He wrote that cutting the rate to 28 percent was necessary for “putting the United States in line with major competitor countries and encouraging greater investment here at home.”

Which president am I referring to? You’re probably assuming Donald Trump. Nope. Barack Obama.

As a lame duck sending his final budget to Congress for fiscal year 2016, Obama finally told the truth about how our economy suffers because the U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world.

But now that Trump and the Republican Congress are about to actually act to cut the top federal corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent, Democrats are suddenly railing against it.

The highest-ranking Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the floor Tuesday that “[the] cut in the corporate rate would hardly help the everyday American worker. This is trickle-down. Our Republican colleagues don’t really talk about trickle-down, because they know most of America doesn’t believe in it.”

That was a whopper of a flip-flop. Just last year, Schumer said in a committee hearing on cutting corporate taxes: “I’m game to do it because I think it’s really important for American competitiveness.”

He also told CNBC that “it would be a permanent lower rate, not a holiday rate,” meaning not a one-time cut for the so-called repatriation of trillions in U.S. companies’ profits, which are sitting offshore to avoid getting whacked by U.S. taxes.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the House minority leader, said at a press conference earlier this month that Republicans are “deceptively, misleadingly say[ing] to the American people” that “cutting the taxes of corporate America is going to produce such growth that it will eliminate that increase in the debt.”

Hold on a second. Pelosi put out a press release in 2016 that called for congressional action, saying, “It is long past time for tax reform that would lower the corporate rate.”

Nothing has changed in the last year, except that Pelosi realized this good policy would now be credited to Trump instead of Hillary Clinton.

The U.S. has a top federal tax rate of 35 percent, plus state and local taxes, which brings the total to about 39 percent. To put that in context, the global average among developed nations is just 22.5 percent.

Trump, a businessman, understands that when you tell businesses that they will get taxed a minimum 35 percent in America, those companies will just move overseas or keep their profits offshore, out of Uncle Sam’s reach.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Monday, October 30, 2017

With all the evidence of rationing and cruelty, why is socialized medicine still being pushed by Democrats?

The newest reports coming out of the National Health Service (NHS) in the U.K. are genuinely frightening. The latest plans from the NHS in Hertfordshire are considered to be the some of the more extreme measures introduced yet. The new rules will ration care to smokers and the obese. The NHS will mandate smokers quit smoking and take a breathalyzer test before getting treatment, and those considered obese will have to lose weight.

Many pushers of socialized medicine have said rationing doesn’t happen in civilized countries. Many love to say everyone gets great healthcare in countries with socialized medicine unless you’re overweight or happen to smoke.

But the fun doesn’t stop in the U.K. There are examples of failed socialized medicine across the globe the politicians would only open their eyes.

A recent survey of Canadian wait times was shocking. The survey found an average wait time of 20 weeks for medically necessary treatment. 20 weeks may seem like a lot, but if you live in New Brunswick province, you’re waiting for 38.8 weeks. 20 weeks is double the wait time it was in 1993.

Sweden was once a health care model for the world. But that is hardly the case anymore. The 2016 Euro Health Consumer Index painted a grim picture of the Bernie loving Swedish healthcare stating, “the notoriously poor Swedish accessibility situation seems very difficult to rectify, in spite of state government efforts to stimulate the decentralized county-operated healthcare system to shorten waiting lists by throwing money at the problem (“Queue-billions”). Sweden now has the highest healthcare spend per capita, (after the three super-wealthy countries, see Section 4.1) together with The Netherlands and Austria. “Throwing money at a problem” is obviously not an effective way of problem-solving…. Particularly cancer care waits, not least in the capital Stockholm, seem inhumane!”

Bernie Sanders is constantly praising Sweden’s model as a goal for the U.S. Perhaps the Democrat Senator from Vermont should take a trip there and do a little research.

Socialism has not only collapsed the healthcare system in Venezuela, it has also collapsed the economy and is well on its way to collapsing the country. The system is working so poorly in Venezuela that the leadership fires people that give bad news.

Health Minister Antonieta Caporale was fired after releasing data that showed a 76 percent increase in malaria, a 66 percent increase in pregnancy-related deaths, and a 30 percent increase in infant mortality. Those don’t sound like the numbers of a successful healthcare system.

Cuba is another socialized nation that has earned praise from the left. If only they took a closer look. Cuban doctors are exported like products to foreign countries to serve as revenue raisers for the central government. Many Cuban doctors are now suing the Cuban government and host governments on the grounds of slavery. The doctors are treated like indentured servants and must do what the government tells them to do. What do you think will happen to medical school enrollment in the U.S. if this was how doctors were treated?

While patients are being denied care in national healthcare systems around the world, Sanders is driving the bus to lead the U.S. into oblivion. Sanders has introduced S. 1804, Medicare for All Act of 2017, a bill that would absolutely put the government in charge of your healthcare. It is further disturbing 16 Members of the Senate have cosponsored the bill. It is scary to think 35 percent of Democrats in the Senate are pushing for a failed system.

Why do socialized healthcare advocates continue to want systems that have clearly failed? This is not theory. Multiple month wait times in Europe, slavery in Cuba, and a total collapse in Venezuela are petri dishes to study. When you study them, socialized medicine doesn’t work.

With all the access Members of Congress have to news sources, healthcare data, and foreign government information you figure they would be able to see a pattern. Will you please quit trying to force the U.S. into a failed system and allow us to have a healthcare system based on the free market? You know, the same principles that lowered the prices and raised the quality of TVs, cars, and computers.

President Trump campaigned to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Speaker Paul Ryan promised to repeal and replace Obamacare. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare. Now news reports out of the U.K. are giving Congress a real reason to worry about the rationing and cruelty of socialized medicine. Will somebody please repeal and replace Obamacare before it’s too late?



Most would call it extortion, but the Obama DOJ called them “donations”

By Printus LeBlanc

Another day, another Obama era scandal is revealed. Following the subprime mortgage crisis in 2007-2010, the calamity that almost brought down the economy, lawsuits were abound, including suits brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ). The Obama administration lived by the motto “never let a crisis go to waste,” and used the mortgage crisis to benefit political allies at the expense of fraud victims.

Under the authority granted in the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA), the DOJ launched into dozens of lawsuits against banks and mortgage companies. The act was passed in response to the Savings and Loan scandal, and among other powers, granted the federal government the authority to bring civil claims with less rigorous requirements to establish liability in fraud claims.

It seems like a good idea at the time. If banks and mortgage companies misled their investors and customers, they should pay the price. That is until the Obama administration chose to corrupt the process.

The Obama administration began suing over 30 banks involved in the mortgage-backed security crisis. Many of the banks scrambled to reach settlements with the DOJ. One of the first to settle was JP Morgan in late 2013. JP Morgan settled for a then-record amount of $13 billion. Citigroup followed less than a year later, reaching a settlement totaling $7 billion. However, Bank of America gets the grand prize. Bank of America settled for a whopping $16.65 billion. In total, there would be over $110 billion paid out by banks.

If the money went to the victims, there would be no problem, but the money would find its way to political activist organizations that aligned themselves with the Democrat party.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) began investigating the disbarments of the payments by sending a letter in November of 2014 after noticing something strange in the settlement agreements of the banks.

Many of the settlements have a section that describes a minimum donation to HUD-approved housing counseling agencies. Other segments included minimum donations to housing-related organizations. The minimum payments were often over $10 million per section. In total, many settlements required over $40 million in “donations” to various groups. It gets worse.

The settlements also gave double credit for each dollar “donated,” while money to victims was a one for one exchange. That means after a bank paid the minimum, a $50 million donation would be treated as a $100 million towards the settlement amount. If you’re a bank which would you rather pay?

Earlier this week Rep. Goodlatte released documents from his investigation into the DOJ settlements. The documents are internal DOJ emails that show personnel within the DOJ discussing where to direct the “donations.” One email states, “Concerns include: a) not allowing Citi to pick a statewide intermediary like Pacific Legal Foundation (does conservative property-rights free legal services)”

How many legitimate victims were not helped because the Obama administration gave double credit for donations to third-party political activist organizations?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions ended the practice of compensating third party groups in future DOJ settlements this past June. He wrote a memo stating, “Unfortunately, in recent years the Department of Justice has sometimes required or encouraged defendants to make these payments to third parties as a condition of settlement.” Sessions is to be celebrated for taking this step.

However, Congress must go further, and Rep. Goodlatte continues to lead the fight.

Goodlatte introduced H.R.732, the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017, earlier this year. It passed the House with bipartisan support earlier this week on Tuesday, 24 October. It now waits where good legislation goes to die, the Senate.

Sessions and Goodlatte are to be commended for fighting this dubious practice. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must now pass the legislation. Bring the bill up for a vote and force Senators to vote for political activist organizations over victims of fraud. If it is blocked, put it into must-pass legislation such as the budget or debt ceiling. The Senate needs a win, and this piece of legislation is an excellent place to start.



Spain clamors for a 'two-state solution' — in Israel but not in Catalonia

by Jeff Jacoby

IN AN Oct. 1 referendum, the people of Catalonia voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Spain, the nation that has occupied their homeland for generations. Madrid did everything it could to prevent Catalonia from legitimizing its quest for independence by ballot, including sending thousands of troops to block polling places. In the ensuing violence, voters were beaten with clubs, dragged by their hair, and shot with rubber bullets. Nearly 900 civilians were treated for injuries.

Since the election-day assault, the Spanish government has doubled down on its opposition to Catalan self-determination. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, invoking Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, is claiming the right to remove Catalonia's elected officials from office and assume direct control from Madrid. A senior cabinet minister warned Monday that Spain will use force, if necessary, to compel Catalonia to submit.

Why such hostility to the Catalan yearning for self-determination? The people of Catalonia are a distinctive population, with their own culture, language, and customs. Shouldn't their sovereignty be peacefully conferred, rather than brutally resisted?

In other words, shouldn't Spain accept a two-state solution?

After all, the Spanish government unhesitatingly proclaims support for Palestinian sovereignty. Spain's leaders, such as former foreign minister Trinidad Jimenez, insist that the key to Middle East peace "depends on the coexistence of two states." In 2014 Spanish lawmakers adopted a resolution recognizing Palestine as a state and urging the European Union to do the same.

How can Spain, so ready to endorse a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, aggressively oppose one for its conflict with Catalonia?

More HERE 


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Sunday, October 29, 2017

US growth storms ahead as hurricanes blow over

Boost for Trump after GDP beats expectations to hit 3%

President Trump’s ambition to expand the American economy at a rate not seen since the 1990s was boosted yesterday when third-quarter growth came in higher than expected.

Gross domestic product rose at an annual rate of 3 per cent between July and September, the commerce department said, suggesting that hurricanes Harvey and Irma had had little impact on the economy. Analysts had expected growth of 2.5 per cent.

The strong showing by the world’s largest economy makes a December rise in interest rates even more likely. It could also help the Republicans to push through ambitious tax plans, with the White House claiming that strong growth will pay for $1.5 trillion of planned cuts to corporate and personal taxes.



Why the Left and Right Clash Over National Identity

In 2011, after 899 issues and 73 years of publication, Superman, the most famous American comic book character, announced that he was renouncing his American citizenship.

“I intend to speak before the United Nations tomorrow and inform them that I am renouncing my U.S. citizenship,” Superman announces. He then adds, in reference to his famous motto: “Truth, justice, and the American way—it’s not enough anymore.”

After a national uproar, the comic publisher announced that this theme would not be revisited in any future edition of the comic. But an important point was made. To the liberal publishers of Superman, the hero’s American identity just didn’t feel right.

Maybe that was what people wanted from 1938 to the late 20th century. But this national identity stuff has got to go. We should all be world citizens.

This example illustrates a primary difference between left and right: their respective views of nationalism and national identity.

The rejection of national identities began with the founder of leftism, Karl Marx. He ends his major work, “Das Kapital,” with the famous left-wing motto, “Proletariat of the world, unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains.”

Marx regarded national identities as backward and useless. In his view, the only identities that mattered were class identities—the working class and the ruling class. If a worker thought of himself first as a German or Englishman, rather than as a worker, communism would never be achieved.

The rejection of nationalism in Europe became mainstream after World War I. Many Europeans, especially among the intellectuals, concluded that the unprecedented loss of life caused by the Great War was a result, first and foremost, of nationalism.

They concluded that Europeans slaughtered each other for nothing more than a flag and a national identity. Therefore, the argument went, by abolishing nationalism, war could be abolished.

That is the belief that led to the creation of the European Union: The more Europeans identified with Europe rather than with a particular country, the less likely were the chances of war between European countries.

In the United States, however, a national American identity has always been a major part of what it means to be an American.

The three pillars of Americanism, constituting what I have called the “American Trinity,” are found on every American coin and banknote: “Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” and “e pluribus unum.” The latter is Latin for “out of many, one.”

Because America has always been a nation of immigrants, it has no ethnic identity. Therefore, unlike almost all other nations, America could not depend on an ethnic identity to keep its people together.

In fact, if all Americans retained their ethnic identities, America would simply splinter. So a nonethnic American national identity had to be forged and preserved.

To this day, foreigners in the United States are struck by how patriotic Americans are in comparison to whatever country they come from.

They marvel, for example, at the fact that before almost every sporting event—from professional down to high school—the American national anthem is played and/or sung.

Conservatives wish to conserve all these manifestations of American patriotism and nationalism because they believe a sense of national unity is essential to the political and social health of the country.

On the other hand, the American left, like the left in Europe, is opposed to nationalism, and it generally finds patriotic expressions corny at best and dangerous at worst.

This is easily seen. Just visit conservative and liberal areas on July Fourth, America’s Independence Day. You will see American flags displayed throughout conservative areas and virtually none displayed in liberal areas such as Manhattan, or Santa Monica or Berkeley, California.

Left-wing opposition to American nationalism is exemplified by the left’s embrace of “multiculturalism”—the cultivation of all ethnic and racial identities except American. It has even reached the point wherein some American colleges no longer display the American flag.

In lieu of an American national identity, the left prefers an international identity. Thus, ideally, United Nations authority would supersede American authority, and the World Court would supersede American courts.

To conservatives, such ideas are anathema because, in addition to subverting American sovereignty, the United Nations has not done nearly the amount of good in the world that the United States has.

That’s why the liberals at DC Comics had Superman renounce his American citizenship (at the United Nations, no less). In their view, Superman is now even more super. In conservatives’ view, the renunciation is kryptonite.



Obama's DOJ Discriminated Against Conservative Groups

Obama directed billions of financial settlement funds to leftist organizations while blocking conservatives.

Following the 2008 financial crisis, several of the nation’s largest financial institutions made legal settlements with the Obama administration. Public records show that these settlement payouts totaled over $3 billion. The House Judiciary Committee, along with the House Financial Services Committee, as part of an investigation has obtained internal documents from the Justice Department showing that not only did the Obama administration steer settlement payments toward leftist groups, Obama hacks also sought to prevent any conservative groups from receiving any of the settlement funds.

This is eerily reminiscent of the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups that came to light in 2013. In an email from July 2014, a senior Justice Department official explained how to draft a mandatory donation provision to prevent Citigroup Inc. from picking “a statewide intermediary like the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF),” noting that the PLF “does conservative property-rights free legal services.” In the same email the Justice official then noted that the National Association of IOLTA Programs would be eligible for the funds because it provided “funds to legal aid organizations, to be used for foreclosure prevention assistance and community redevelopment assistance.”

Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) called the documents a “smoking gun.” Goodlatte noted an email specifically identifying former Assistant Attorney General Tony West as the person responsible for directing the money to leftist organizations. “Can you explain to Tony the best way to allocate some money to an organization of our choosing?” asked a deputy of West’s in an email from 2013. Smoking gun indeed.

Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government, stated, “The Justice Department emails released by Goodlatte show that only approved left-wing groups were eligible for the banks to make payouts to as part of their settlements, overtly excluding those deemed to be too conservative. What’s worse, is that the settlements often gave the banks double credit if they gave money to the left-wing groups rather than paying the government. Meaning, every $10 million to left-wing groups was counted the same as $20 million to the government.”

On Tuesday, the House voted on and passed the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017.



The Jobs and Wage Effects of a Corporate Rate Cut

Congressional tax writers will soon reveal their plans to reform the federal tax code. The most important thing that Congress and the Trump administration can do to boost economic growth, lift workers’ wages, create jobs, and make the U.S. economy more competitive globally, is reform the business-half of our tax system. And one of the most critical elements of that reform is cutting the corporate tax rate.

There has been a great deal of debate recently over how much a corporate rate cut can create jobs and boost wages and living standards. The Tax Foundation’s extensive economic research and tax modeling experience suggests that cutting the corporate tax rate to a globally competitive 20 percent would substantially lower the cost of capital which, in turn, would boost capital investment, leading to higher wages and more jobs.

Our research also shows that these economic benefits would be enhanced if lawmakers coupled a corporate rate cut with an allowance for full expensing of capital investments.

The GDP, Investment, and Jobs Effect of the Rate Cut

We used our Taxes and Growth (TAG) Macroeconomic Tax Model[1] to simulate the long-term economic effects of these policies separately and combined to give tax writers an idea of how the policies work together. The table below summarizes the long-term results of this exercise.

Here we can see that cutting the corporate tax rate to 20 percent would boost the long-term level of GDP by 3 percent and increase the capital stock by more than 8 percent. This has the effect of lifting wages by more than 2.5 percent and creating more than 587,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

The results are very similar for allowing corporations full expensing for their capital investments. In this example, long term is generally about ten years, once the policies have worked their way through the economy.[2]

Combining the two policies does not double the results because of their interactive effects. However, we can see that the two policies together would increase the level of GDP by 4.5 percent and the capital stock by nearly 13 percent. These economic forces act to lift wages by an average of 3.8 percent and create 861,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

Some might question how a corporate rate cut could create that many jobs while the economy is inching toward full employment. The TAG model is actually estimating the increase in the total amount of hours worked in the economy as a result of the policy change. Thus, some of those full-time equivalent hours could be filled by new workers, while others would be filled by part-time workers moving to full-time, or some idle people coming back into the workforce.

It should also be noted that in performing these estimates, we have not factored in any increase in profit-shifting into the United States, either by U.S. firms repatriating foreign earnings or foreign-based firms increasing their investments into the U.S. We believe that a lower corporate tax rate would encourage such activity, but estimating those effects were outside the scope of this exercise.

More HERE 


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Friday, October 27, 2017

Another nail in the coffin of statins: They raise the risk of Type 2 diabetes by nearly a third

This dangerous junk was idolized by many medical commentators.  Some wanted to put it in the water supply to dose up everyone on it.  Statins do seem to help people who ALREADY have heart disease but evidence for their use as a preventive is dubious.  A study of nearly 3,000 older adults found that giving them statins did not extend their lifespans nor did they get fewer  heart attacks.  Since old people are the high risk group, we have to ask if they do not benefit from statins, who would?

Taking statins increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by nearly a third, researchers found. A decade-long study of more than 3,200 patients found those who took statins were 30 per cent more likely to develop the condition.

Some six million Britons take statins every day to reduce their cholesterol and ward off heart disease.

The pills are proven lifesavers, slashing the chance of a repeat attack, yet a scientific row over benefits and side effects has dragged on for years.

Experts have long known there was a link between statins and diabetes – but doctors have always stressed that the advantages of the pills far outweigh the small chance of getting diabetes.

Previous research had put the chance of developing type 2 diabetes at no more than 10 to 12 per cent greater than if someone did not take statins. The latest study, however, suggests the medication increases the risk by 30 per cent.

The researchers, from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, think this may be because statins impair insulin production. In the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, they called for regular blood sugar tests of people taking statins.

‘Glucose status should be monitored and healthy lifestyle behaviours reinforced in high-risk patients who are prescribed statins for cardiovascular disease [prevention],’ they wrote.

The scientists tracked overweight people already considered at risk of diabetes for ten years. At the start, 4 per cent took statins, but by the end roughly a third were taking the pills.

No link was found between the potency of the statins used and diabetes risk.

The researchers stressed that the additional risk of developing diabetes should be balanced against ‘the consistent and highly significant’ reduction in risk of heart attacks, strokes and death. Last night experts said that although the relative risk of diabetes may seem high, in reality the absolute numbers of people it would affect would be small.



Trump congratulates China's President Xi on new powers, saying he could be called the 'king of China' - as he labels the reelected leader a 'good person'

This is excellent diplomacy on behalf of America.  It will  certainly go down well in China.  And good relationships with  China are of huge importance

President Trump touted his relationship with China's Xi Jinping and complemented the Chinese leader for his reelection and the fact that his name and dogma were now written into his party's constitution.

'It's really virtually never happened in China,' Trump told Fox Business Network's Lou Dobbs in an interview that aired Wednesday night. 'Now some people might call him the king of China. But he’s called president,' the president added.

Dobbs, in a friendly interview, had asked the president about his relationship with Xi, noting how the 'so-called intelligentsia of this country’s foreign policy establishment' had indicated to Trump that he was wasting his time trying to court the Chinese leader.

Trump brought up the fact that the two leaders had spoken on the phone just minutes before, something the president had tweeted about earlier.  'Spoke to President Xi of China to congratulate him on his extraordinary elevation. Also discussed NoKo & trade, two very important subjects!' Trump tweeted after the call.

Speaking to Dobbs he continued heaping on praise. 

'He's a powerful man. I happen to think he's a very good person,' Trump said. 'Now with that being said, he represents China, I represent the USA, so, you know, there's going to always be conflict.'

'But we have a very good relationship,' Trump continued. 'People say we have the best relationship of any president-president, because he's called president also.'

Trump's phone conversation with Xi came as the leader was formally handed a second term in power and both his name and his dogma were written into the party constitution – putting him on par with the nation's founder, communist revolutionary Mao Zedong.



Market-oriented policies have reduced poverty worldwide

Although hundreds of millions of people remain trapped in poverty around the globe, at no time in human history have as many people escaped extreme poverty as they have in recent years.

Forty-five years ago, the United Nations declared World Development Information Day to draw attention to development problems and the need for international cooperation to solve them. While problems and impediments to development remain, decentralized international cooperation and exchange have been eradicating poverty at unprecedented levels.

Poverty reduction in China alone is unprecedented in human history. According to the World Bank, in 1990, a mere generation ago, more than 90 percent of China’s people lived on less than $3.20 per day. Two-thirds of its people lived on less than $1.90 per day. The most recent figures are about 12 percent and two percent respectively. The total number of people living in extreme poverty declined by more than one billion, while the population grew by more than 200 million.

While China leads the world in poverty reduction, the story is similar elsewhere. In 1993 more than 80 percent of India’s population lived on less than $3.20 per day and 45 percent lived on less than $1.90. Those numbers have fallen to 60 percent and 21 percent in recent years.

Even countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where poverty rates increased from the early 1990s through the early 2000s, have experienced improvements. The percentage of people living on less than $3.20 per day fell from 75 percent in 2002 to 62 percent recently. More extreme poverty has seen greater declines as the percentage living on less than $1.90 a day has declined from 53 percent to 20 percent.

For decades the United Nations, World Bank, and other governmental and international agencies have tried — with little success — to engineer development from the top down through aid programs. Some economists have criticized these efforts, maintaining that these programs often impede development by creating dependency, distorting market incentives, and entrenching corrupt dictators.

In contrast, decentralized market cooperation has promoted development. This is shown by the most recent update of the Economic Freedom of the World Annual Report (EFW), released last month. The index measures openness to decentralized market cooperation around the globe by looking at the size of government, protection of private property, soundness of money, freedom to trade internationally, and regulatory restrictions. Scores of academic studies have found that economic freedom is associated with economic development.

China, although far from a free-market ideal, has made some of the world’s greatest strides toward economic freedom. While China’s economic liberalization began under Deng Xiaoping in 1978, by 1990 it rated only 4.09 on the EFW’s 10-point scale. Since then, the score has improved 56.5 percent, the largest improvement in all of Asia.

Similarly, India began its economic reforms in 1991. Its economic freedom score has improved 38 percent since then. Even sub-Saharan Africa, with disasters like Zimbabwe, has improved its economic freedom by almost eight percent since 2000.

Liberalization alone is not the only factor contributing to poverty reduction. China’s measured liberalization understates its degree of market reform because it doesn’t account for the additional economic freedom in special enterprise zones. As the recent book China’s Great Migration has argued, the freedom of Chinese citizens to migrate to these enterprise zones has been a major contributor to the reduction in poverty in that country.

If citizens trapped in poverty around the globe had the freedom to migrate to more economically free and productive countries, much the way Chinese citizens can migrate from less-free to more-free areas within their country, even greater poverty reductions could be achieved.



Government No-Fire Zone Abuses Taxpayers

“Tesla fired hundreds of workers this week, including engineers, managers and factory workers,” reported Louis Hansen of the San Jose Mercury News. “Little or no warning preceded the dismissals,” which came after performance reviews, as the company struggles to produce its Model 3 sedan, for which 450,000 customers are waiting. Overall, Tesla showed the door to as many as 700 employees. Taxpayers would be hard pressed to find similar action in government at any level, despite disastrous performance.

In 2015 the federal Environmental Protection Agency spilled three million gallons of toxic wastewater in southern Colorado’s Animas River. EPA boss Gina McCarthy did not lose her job, and few if any EPA managers were fired over the massive spill. As we noted, for years the EPA kept on staff “policy advisor” John Beale, who performed no work for the agency and claimed to be working for the CIA. The EPA even paid Beale retention bonuses, but no EPA bosses lost their jobs over his fakery.

The federal Social Security Administration paid out more than $1.5 million to ex-Nazis, including death-camp guards and SS soldiers. At least 38 of 66 Nazi guards removed from the United States were allowed to keep their Social Security benefits and only 10 were prosecuted for war crimes in Europe. Reports have not emerged about Social Security bureaucrats losing their jobs for keeping the Nazis funded.

In 2013, the Internal Revenue Service handed out between $13.3 an $15.6 billion in improper payments. Even so, taxpayers will be hard pressed to find a report of any IRS employee or manager being fired for this massive waste and fraud. Indeed, the intrusive federal agency also gave $2.8 million in bonuses to employees with disciplinary and tax compliance problems of their own.

If motorists don’t like cars produced by Tesla, they can buy a Ford, Toyota or Kia. Taxpayers, on the other hand, have no choice but to deal with the IRS, EPA, and the whole federal bureaucratic establishment. If President Trump is serious about “draining the swamp,” he needs to take a cue from Tesla and fire those who fail to perform for the people.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Deconstructing the equality mania

The Left never cease their pursuit of "equality".  You see it most often in their racist devotion to quotas:  50% of all jobs should go to women; 13% of all jobs should go to blacks; 17% of all jobs should go to Hispanics etc.  They're not quite as rigid as that but "equal representation" or "proportionate representation" is a fiercely pursued aim.

And the current obsession with "white privilege" is another example of the same thing.  Whites are seen as being unequal in various ways and are supposed to be deeply ashamed of that.

Conservatives have of course always resisted such quotas, saying that jobs should be allocated on ability only, not on the colour of the applicant's skin.

But conservatives never seem to go back to basics and ask WHY equality should be pursued.  In most cases it never has existed and never will so why on earth should it be such a holy grail?  What is good about it?  No Leftist I have ever met has been able to answer that question. They just look dumb and say that it is OBVIOUSLY good.  But obvious to whom?  It is certainly not obvious to me. 

The best they can come up with is that pursuing the equality  goal causes people who might normally not have a chance at a particular job to get a chance at it.  It opens up opportunities. But conservatives have never been bothered by equal opportunity.  It's the only sort of equality that they will normally support.  But the opportunity concerned is only the opportunity for the person to show that he/she is capable of better things.  It does not imply that you should get some position REGARDLESS of whether or not you are capable of better things -- which is what quotas tend to do.

So as far as I can see, the breakneck pursuit of equality is simply envy.  If everybody is equal, no-one can be enviable. But that state will never arise so there must be more to it than that. 

And the deeper reason seems fairly clear to me.  The pursuit of equality is destructive. It puts incompetent people in responsible positions.  For instance, a black fireman who can't pass his fireman's exams but who is hired anyway because he is back may well be not very good at putting out fires and thus could allow a house to burn down that might otherwise have been saved.

Leftists always pretend to have noble motives but talk is cheap.  Look at what they do to see what they really intend.  And almost always there are adverse "unforeseen" consequences of any policy they get enacted.  The enormous mess made by Obamacare -- the "Affordable Care Act" -- is a good example.  Because of all the mandates and bureaucracy that form part of it, Obamacare has  caused both premiums and deductibles to soar -- thus making effective health insuranc UNaffordable to many.  Because of high deductibles alone many people who were previously insured are now effecively uninsured for most things.

And that Leftists are basically hostile people is being shown time and time again by the way in which those who depart from the politically correct line are hounded both in the colleges and in the workplace these days.  And when Leftists gain untrammelled power -- as we saw in Soviet Russia and Mao's China, we see how truly destructive they are.  So the pursuit of equality is just another tool in the Leftist's toolbox of destruction.

And it is easy to make an argument that INEQUALITY is a good thing. For a start, it is the natural state of affairs and is a symptom of a society in which superior abilities are called into use. Abilities are very unevenly distributed and putting the most able man into a particular job will often mean success at a particular enterprise when failure might otherwise have ensued. Not everyone can be a good manager, not everyone can be a good fitter and turner and not everyone can be a computer programmer. Finding the right man for the job is something of a holy grail to some enterprises.

And because it is rare, the demand for top talent will usually exceed supply. And that is when competition arises. To get rare talent for his enterprise, a boss will usually offer big money for the services of the talented one, an amount which will be very unequal compared to what less talented people get. So inequality emerges from different abilities and is a symptom of a society getting the best out of its people. Inequality is good.


Liberate government workers from forced union fees

by Jeff Jacoby

MARK JANUS IS a government employee. He works for the state of Illinois as a child-welfare specialist in the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. His job is to represent children caught in situations of domestic turmoil — a field he chose because children's well-being is important to him.

Mark Janus, an Illinois state employee, is forced to pay fees to a labor union whether he supports it or not — an egregious violation of his First Amendment freedoms.

"But just because I care about kids doesn't mean I also want to support a government union," Janus wrote last year in the Chicago Tribune. "Unfortunately, I have no choice."

The employees in Janus's workplace are represented by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), a labor union that, under state law in Illinois and elsewhere, has exclusive authority to engage in collective bargaining over wages, hours, and other terms of employment. Naturally, members of the union pay dues. But even non-members are compelled to pay union levies, known as "agency fees," to cover the benefits of being represented by the union.

Yet coercing workers to pay for representation they don't want isn't a benefit. It's extortion. And it's particularly galling when those extorted payments are used to fund political speech and public-policy activism that employees have no wish to underwrite.

Two years ago, Janus filed a lawsuit challenging the Illinois law that forces him to pay fees to the union. The Supreme Court recently announced that it will take up the case this term. Janus v. AFSCME poses a straightforward question: Can public employees be forced to subsidize union speech or risk losing their jobs? If the court rules in Janus's favor, it will restore to government workers a right most Americans take for granted: the right to decide for themselves which causes and organizations they support.

It should never have come to this. Thomas Jefferson rightly declared long ago that "to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical." Under the First Amendment, it should have been out of the question for government to force public employees to turn over part of their wages to a labor union they don't belong to — or, for that matter, to any other political, ideological, or special-interest organization. But in a 1977 case, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled that public-sector workers could be required to pay agency fees in the interest of "labor peace" — as long as their fees were used only for the actual costs of collective-bargaining and representing employees, and not for anything political.

That was a blunder. Unlike the private sector, where labor and management are both constrained by market forces, competition, and the need to remain profitable, unions in the public sector face no such limitations. The government agencies that AFSCME and other unions bargain with can't go out of business or relocate to another state. Their revenue depends not on customer loyalty and sales but on politicians' decisions about taxes, spending, and public policy.

Consequently, pretty much everything public-sector unions do is political. In Abood, the court tried to distinguish between core collective-bargaining functions, on which nonmembers' fees could be spent, and overt political advocacy, which could not be charged to unwilling workers. But that distinction is illusory, as Justice Lewis Powell — who rejected the majority's reasoning — pointed out at the time:

"The ultimate objective of a union in the public sector, like that of a political party, is to influence public decision-making," Powell wrote. "The union's objective is to obtain favorable decisions and to place persons in positions of power who will be receptive to the union's viewpoint. In these respects, the public-sector union is indistinguishable from the traditional political party."

If that wasn't clear in 1977, it soon became an inescapable fact of life.

For public-sector unions, politics became all-important. AFSCME, like the National Education Association, the Service Employees International Union, and others, poured vast resources into honing their political clout. On its website, AFSCME boasts that candidates "all across the country, at every level of government" have learned to "pay attention to AFSCME's political muscle." The union is not shy about relying on politics to achieve its goals. "We elect our bosses, so we've got to elect politicians who support us and hold those politicians accountable," AFSCME proclaims. "Our jobs, wages, and working conditions are directly linked to politics."

Former AFSCME president Jerry Wurf put it in a nutshell: "We're political as hell," he told Time magazine.

"To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves," Thomas Jefferson rightly asserted, "is sinful and tyrannical."
And the agency fees forcibly extracted from Mark Janus — and from hundreds of thousands of other public-sector employees who have not joined the union — subsidize all that politics. That is an ongoing affront to the First Amendment.

It is long past time the Supreme Court repaired its 1977 mistake. Abood should be overturned, and the court should affirm that Powell was right: In the public sector, collective bargaining amounts to political advocacy. And under the Constitution, nobody can be compelled by government to subsidize political advocacy involuntarily.

If unions are to be tolerated in government workplaces, their support and funding must be wholly unforced. Government workers who choose to join and pay dues to AFSCME or some other union are free to exercise their First Amendment rights of speech and association. Equally free should be those who want nothing to do with the union. Free not to join, and free not to pay.



Down with the Czars!

Rep. Tom Marino, Pennsylvania Republican, has withdrawn his name for consideration as President Trump’s drug czar. By some accounts, Marino backed legislation that restricted enforcement of opioid laws. Sen. Joe Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, who called for Marino’s withdrawal, said “we need a drug czar who has seen the devastating effects of the problem.” Actually, we don’t, and President Trump should consider whether we need a drug czar at all.

The federal government already deploys the Drug Enforcement Administration, with an annual budget of nearly $3 billion. So in effect, the DEA boss renders a drug czar redundant. Don’t forget the Food and Drug Administration, whose budget has ballooned to $5 billion. Plenty of drug czars in that massive bureaucracy, and in recent years czars have been surging all over the federal government.

President Obama appointed 45 czars, and as Judicial Watch noted, “Many of these ‘czars’ are unconfirmed by the Senate and are largely unaccountable to Congress. Further, their activities are often outside the reach of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), creating a veil of secrecy about their precise role in the administration.” As we noted, a day after Washington state allowed the sale of medical marijuana in the style of Colorado and California, drug czar Michael Botticelli sought to spend $25 billion in the war on drugs.

President George W. Bush deployed some 33 czars, including one for bird flu. Franklin Roosevelt appointed at least 11 czars, including one to deal with rubber. These actions imply that unelected appointees with the title of Russian kings can solve all problems. They can’t, but they do waste taxpayers’ money. President Trump, who wants to drain the swamp, should not appoint any drug czar and would be wise to eliminate all czars in government.

Meanwhile, a historical note. A century ago the Bolshevik Revolution was going on, but the Bolsheviks did not overthrow Czar Nicholas. He abdicated the throne and the Bolsheviks toppled the provisional government of Alexander Kerensky, the closest Russia ever came to liberal democracy.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Herrnstein & Murray are still right  -- and very relevant to the healthcare debate

The poor die young.  That is the simplest summary of the latest study looking at the association between wealth and health.  Whenever it is examined, a correlation between social class and health seems to emerge.  The findings surveyed  by Hernstein and Murray are the best known evidence of that but Herrnstein & Murray wrote over two decades ago so it is interesting to see that nothing has changed. Herrnstein died about the time the book was released so was spared the torrent of abuse that was poured out on the scholarly head of Charles Murray when his findings became known.  He survived the onslsaught however and is still making waves.  The attack on him at Middlebury college got a lot of press recently.

There is however a certain vagueness about what you call social class and there are distinct differences between Britain and America in that regard.  And although its importance to social class is generally accepted, wealth is rarely examined in medical research. It is usually considered to be "too sensitive"  for questions about it to be included in surveys.  So the findings below are valuable in filling a gap. The article is titled: "Wealth-Associated Disparities in Death and Disability in the United States and England" and it appeared in JAMA, a leading medical journal.

It will be interesting to see what, if any, reaction the article gets.  It is unlikely that the authors will receive the abuse that was heaped on Charles Murray.  After the first decade or so of huffing and puffing, the Left seem to have bowed to reality.  Mention of class effects on health are these days normally addressed, if at all, as just another example of injustice.  What was once seen as a politically incorrect attack on the poor is now usually seen as an argument for helping the poor in various ways.  The Left ended up assimilating the effect into their "social justice" narrative.

And what cure do the Left advocate for this injustice?  Easy! Single payer health-insurance.  It was one of the arguments behind the agony of Obamacare.  And that makes the study below of exceptional interest -- because it compared American health results with results from a country that has had single-payer healthcare for a very long time: England.  So the poor should do much better in England?  Right?  Wrong!  The wealth effect was similar in both countries.  So this study is exceptionally relevant to one of the most important issues in American politics today.

Academic prose is normally too dense for non-academics to make much out of it but the place where you are most likely to find plain speaking is the set of "Conclusions" at the end of the article.  So let me reproduce in full the "Conclusions" of the present article:

"We found that lower wealth was associated with higher mortality and disability in older adults in both the United States and England. This relationship was apparent from age 54 years and continued into later life. This study found no evidence that providing state-sponsored health insurance from birth (England), or providing state-sponsored health insurance later in life (United States), eliminated wealth-associated health disparities. Our study suggests that policy makers interested in decreasing mortality and function disparities in older adults should take a broad view and consider interventions beyond providing access to health care."

So there was effectively no difference between America and England in health outcomes, including death.  The poor get sicker and die younger in both countries at roughly the same rate.  So the authors are in fact shooting down one of the important talking points of the Left. What they mean by "interventions beyond providing access to health care" is to make the poor richer.  They wisely don't go in to how you achieve that, though. So this is an article of unusual political importance.

It also has important implications for medical research generally. Probably because of political correctness, epidemiological research in particular simply ignores social class.  If it is mentioned at all, the only index of it used is education.  But my research showed long ago that education misses a lot. You can have highly educated poor people (e.g. the iconic Ph.Ds doing burger flipping in McDonalds) to dropouts making billions (e.g. Bill Gates).  You really do need to examine wealth directly.

But medical researchers just don't do that most of the time. And that very often makes the significance of their findings moot.  If, for instance, you find that big drinkers of pop die young, a medical researcher would normally conclude that pop kills you. They are that stupid. If you happen to know that the poor drink more pop, however, you can say (and I have often said it) that the conclusion is nonsense. If wealth had been included in the analysis, you will probably find that the "effect" of pop on health was in fact the effect of wealth discrepancies.

So I suppose it is a lot to ask for but one hopes that future medical researchers might use the article below to make some mention of what their research was not able to examine.

The authors below do not venture into much consideration of WHY the poor die young but do mention various environmental stressors.  I would add however that genetic influences are at work too. IQ is a much neglected index of social class.  The rich are smarter. The old challenge, "if you are smart, how come you are not rich?, has much justice to it. We can probably all think of exceptions but higher IQ does help you to figure out ways of making money.

Wealth-Associated Disparities in Death and Disability in the United States and England

Lena K. Makaroun et al.


Importance:  Low income has been associated with poor health outcomes. Owing to retirement, wealth may be a better marker of financial resources among older adults.

Objective:  To determine the association of wealth with mortality and disability among older adults in the United States and England.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  The US Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA) are nationally representative cohorts of community-dwelling older adults. We examined 12 173 participants enrolled in HRS and 7599 enrolled in ELSA in 2002. Analyses were stratified by age (54-64 years vs 66-76 years) because many safety-net programs commence around age 65 years. Participants were followed until 2012 for mortality and disability.

Exposures:  Wealth quintile, based on total net worth in 2002.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Mortality and disability, defined as difficulty performing an activity of daily living.

Results:  A total of 6233 US respondents and 4325 English respondents aged 54 to 64 years (younger cohort) and 5940 US respondents and 3274 English respondents aged 66 to 76 years (older cohort) were analyzed for the mortality outcome. Slightly over half of respondents were women (HRS: 6570, 54%; ELSA: 3974, 52%). A higher proportion of respondents from HRS were nonwhite compared with ELSA in both the younger (14% vs 3%) and the older (13% vs 3%) age cohorts. We found increased risk of death and disability as wealth decreased.

In the United States, participants aged 54 to 64 years in the lowest wealth quintile (Q1) (≤$39 000) had a 17% mortality risk and 48% disability risk over 10 years, whereas in the highest wealth quintile (Q5) (>$560 000) participants had a 5% mortality risk and 15% disability risk (mortality hazard ratio [HR], 3.3; 95% CI, 2.0-5.6; P < .001; disability subhazard ratio [sHR], 4.0; 95% CI, 2.9-5.6; P < .001).

In England, participants aged 54 to 64 years in Q1 (≤£34,000) had a 16% mortality risk and 42% disability risk over 10 years, whereas Q5 participants (>£310,550) had a 4% mortality risk and 17% disability risk (mortality HR, 4.4; 95% CI, 2.7-7.0; P < .001; disability sHR, 3.0; 95% CI, 2.1-4.2; P < .001). In 66- to 76-year-old participants, the absolute risks of mortality and disability were higher, but risk gradients across wealth quintiles were similar. When adjusted for sex, age, race, income, and education, HR for mortality and sHR for disability were attenuated but remained statistically significant.

Conclusions and Relevance:  Low wealth was associated with death and disability in both the United States and England. This relationship was apparent from age 54 years and continued into later life. Access to health care may not attenuate wealth-associated disparities in older adults.



If FDA can't speed up drug testing, then give patients the right to try

Mikaela Knapp was in the prime of her life. After completing her studies at Stanford University and Berkeley College, Mikaela married her high school sweetheart, whom she had known since fifth grade. At age 25, she had her entire life before her. Then in an instant, it all changed. Mikaela was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer and her world turned upside down. Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have a happy ending. After a long and hard fought battle, Mikaela passed away in 2014.

What makes her tragedy particularly difficult to accept is that it’s entirely possible to imagine a scenario in which Mikaela would still be alive today. Had Mikaela been able to take advantage of potentially lifesaving treatment, perhaps she would have beaten the odds. Unfortunately for Mikaela and so many others, we’ll never know because prohibitive rules and regulations block terminally ill patients from accessing treatment.

The numbers tell the story. In the last 20 years, the Food and Drug Administration has approved only three new treatments for childhood cancers. It takes this long because any medical treatment must undergo rigorous testing to demonstrate that they are safe and effective. The FDA has eased some restrictions in recent years, but less than 3 percent of all cancer patients can enroll in clinical trials. What’s more, eligibility is tricky and tough to navigate. As the Goldwater Institute, a think tank supportive of easing the FDA’s requirements for new treatments, describes it, “patients must be just sick enough, but not too sick.”

To terminally ill patients and their grieving families, these policies are callous and devoid of the urgency needed when a life is on the line. We should not have to ask the government for permission to try to save our own lives. Terminally ill patients should have the right to try. After they’ve exhausted all available treatments, they should be able to work with their doctors and take part in clinical trials, without interference from government bureaucrats.

For some, this could mean accessing promising treatment already being used elsewhere. For instance, there are 22 breast cancer treatments awaiting FDA approval, some of which are currently saving lives in Europe. Knowing that there is a potentially lifesaving treatment outside the United States is what compelled the family of 10 year old Diego Morris of Arizona to travel to England to access Mifamurtide, a drug being administered to treat bone cancer which is not available in the United States. The treatment worked. Today, Diego is back in Arizona doing the things he loves.

Unfortunately, stories like Diego’s are the exception, but perhaps someday, they’ll be more common. Momentum for right to try laws is growing. In all, 37 states have enacted right to try laws and 12 more states have introduced legislation. In most cases, right to try has been approved by huge margins with overwhelming bipartisan support.

This is encouraging, but more is needed at the federal level so that the FDA cannot interfere with the implementation of state right to try laws. Even with the consent of their state government, many doctors and medical practitioners won’t administer experimental medical treatment to terminally ill patients because they rightfully fear that the FDA will come after them.

Federal right to try legislation has support in Congress, most notably from U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), whose bill to prevent this bureaucratic injustice recently passed the chamber unanimously. There are also encouraging signs that President Trump would sign right to try legislation if it got to his desk, but until then, terminally ill patients have little choice but to wait.

Right to try opponents worry that it would circumvent the FDA’s approval process and make it difficult for the government to keep track of the effectiveness of experimental medical treatment. But these worries are misplaced. Federal right to try legislation would not keep data and critical information from the FDA, but instead work with the government agency’s safety and testing approval process.

Also, the risk of inaction is far greater. As Matthew Bellina, a Navy Veteran suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease, eloquently puts it, “What is the downside of creating new pathways for the terminally ill to access promising treatments? Maybe the law won’t help millions of people, or even many, but for those that it does help, it’s a game changer.”

It’s a question that Mikaela Knapp’s family must ask every day.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What has President Trump done that is good for America?

Answer by Ethan Young, a historian.  He does not like Trump personally but is impressed by how much he has accomplished or enabled already

I suppose I should preface this answer by saying that I was a “Never Trumper” Republican and didn’t vote for him. Now that that’s out of the way…

First, Trump has increased American oil and energy exports. This was already trending before he was elected, but now it’s really gaining steam. Only a decade ago, Americans were concerned about relying too much on the Saudis or other Middle Eastern nations for their energy supply. But today, the US is the third-largest oil producer in the world, it is less dependent on oil imports than at any point in the last 40 years, and it is stealing customers from Russia and Saudi Arabia even with prices as low as $50 per barrel. Even a few years ago, US shale producers would have found it hard to make a profit at that price, but they are succeeding at it now.

President Trump is using this as a powerful card in the game of geopolitics. For example, we have begun shipping liquid natural gas to Eastern Europe with the goal of undercutting Russia’s monopoly and influence there, and the Eastern Europeans are only too happy to diversify their energy portfolio. I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable about relying on someone like Putin for my energy needs.

Second, President Trump is rolling back excessive regulations that hurt American businesses and hamper our economic growth. The Clean Power Plan is a good example of this, because it was government by the administrative state on a scale that has never been attempted before. The EPA took a dubious reading of a portion of the Clean Air Act (Section 111, which arguably prevented the EPA from taking this action rather than empowered it to do so) and used it to mandate that the states adopt far-reaching plans to reduce carbon emissions, under threat of the loss of federal highway funds. And the legal foundation of the Clean Power Plan was so rickety that the Supreme Court took the extraordinary step of blocking its implementation pending all the lawsuits against it. This and other Obama-regulations were examples of gross overreach by the federal government and did more harm in the long run than good.

Third, President Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accord, which was a toothless, un-enforceable exercise in virtue-signaling that would have made little impact on carbon emissions even if it had fully implemented.

Indeed, there is one genuinely strong argument for remaining a signatory to the Paris Accord on climate change, but it’s one that the accord’s advocates cannot make: The agreement simply doesn’t do anything. It was doomed before negotiators ever assembled for photographs in December 2015. They were not there to commit each country to meaningful greenhouse-gas reductions; rather, everyone submitted their voluntary pledges in advance, and all were accepted without scrutiny. Pledges did not have to mention emissions levels, nor were there penalties for falling short.

When the Paris Accord was first signed, then-Secretary of State John Kerry claimed that 186 nations in the world came together to submit a plan, all of them reducing their emissions. That was not true. In fact, most of the major developing countries, whose emissions will drive climate change this century, pledged only to continue with business as usual. China, for example, committed to begin reducing emissions by 2030, roughly when its economic development would have caused this to happen regardless. India made no emissions commitment, pledging only to make progress on efficiency at half the rate it had progressed in recent years. Pakistan outdid the rest, submitting a single page that offered to reduce its emissions after reaching peak levels to the extent possible. This is a definition of the word peak, not a commitment.

Since then, the farce proceeded as farces do. Secretary Kerry claimed the Accord would unleash clean-energy investment, but instead, global investment plummeted by 20 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The first quarter of 2017 saw another 17 percent decline versus 2016. The volunteer pledges have commanded precisely the respect they deserve. An April report by Transport Environment found only three European countries pursuing policies in line with their Paris commitments and one of those, Germany, has now seen two straight years of emissions increases. The Philippines has outright renounced its commitment. A study published by the American Geophysical Union warns that India’s planned coal-plant construction is incompatible with its own targets. All this behavior is socially acceptable amongst the climate crowd. Only Trump’s presumption that the agreement means something, and that countries should be forthright about their commitments, is beyond the pale.

Somewhat incredibly, Todd Stern, the Obama administration’s lead climate negotiator, took to the Washington Post to explain that the U.S. could even revise downward its own commitment to eliminate any potential burden. “I know,” he seemingly bragged, “because I helped negotiate that flexibility.” Compare this to his defense of the agreement when signed, in which he repeatedly used the word “ratchet” to describe a process where countries would only strengthen their commitments. But rather than see the cocktail hour interrupted, even that last vestige of substance was flung overboard.

So should the U.S. have stayed or gone? To quote another of President Obama’s secretaries of state: “What difference, at this point, does it make?” For the climate, not much of one. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s assessment of the agreement found that even full compliance would only have reduced global temperatures in 2100 by only 0.2 degrees Celsius. Instead, the debate devolved into the kind one otherwise hears about the UN Human Rights Council, a forum no one mistakes for a serious effort to advance human rights. If other countries are going to sit around discussing the climate, shouldn’t we at least attend? This is what some might call the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) defense.

Further, as Stern argued, “withdrawing from the Paris agreement would be a stain on the legacies of both the president and Secretary of State. Other countries would see withdrawal as a slap in the face.” But on which president’s legacy is Paris a stain? The Constitution requires the Senate to ratify treaties by a two-thirds supermajority in part to ensure that the United States speaks with a single, consistent voice on the international stage. It was President Obama who offered the world an unwise commitment for which he got nothing in return. It was Obama who refused to submit that commitment for Senate approval because he knew he did not have it.

Then there is the war against ISIS. When it comes to Trump’s boasts, many Americans—including myself—roll their eyes. But when it comes his boasting about ISIS, it’s hard for even his sternest detractors to gainsay him. ISIS was still largely undefeated and in control of much of the territory of Iraq and Syria when Trump was sworn in before a non-record setting crowd. But only nine months into his administration, the Islamic State’s hold on these countries has dwindled, and after the liberation this week of Raqqa, Syria—the capital of the Islamists’ supposed caliphate—it’s fair to say that the group is being routed after years in which it held its own against coalition forces. In January, ISIS controlled 23,300 square miles. Today it is holding on to about 9,300 square miles.

This has happened because Trump loosened the rules of engagement to allow commanders in the field more authority in day-to-day decisions about fighting the enemy. Under Obama, the White House micromanaged the conflict in a manner that calls to mind the way President Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara fought the Vietnam War with similarly dismal results. Whether you like Trump or hate him doesn’t change the fact that ISIS fighters are surrendering in droves because of a change in strategy that Trump personally spearheaded.

In fact, if you prune away the rumors of cabinet shake-ups, “adult in the room” melodramas, tweets, fake-news accounts, and inter-cabinet spats, Trump’s foreign policy consists of the following:

A once-ascendant ISIS now shattered and in full retreat; a new honesty about NATO and its funding; an unsustainable Iran deal now on hold and sent to the Senate where as a treaty it belonged; honesty in describing the threat of both radical Islamic terrorism and Iranian hegemony; greater security on the southern border; a restored relationship with Israel and the Gulf States, and an improving one with Jordan and Egypt as well; a workable and constitutional immigration scrutiny of would-be entrants from war-torn Middle East countries; a growing deterrent stance toward Russia and China rather than the rhetoric of “reset” and the “Asian pivot”; an active and growing allied response to the North Korean threat; the beginnings of an all-out effort on missile defense (rather than the prior open-mic presidential promises of a “flexible” post-reelection efforts to curb it in Eastern Europe); a determination to rebuild the military (slowly, given the still far too large annual deficits); some recent incremental progress in Afghanistan due to new rules of engagement; the real red line that Assad cannot use WMD against civilians; a far more adult stance toward U.N. hypocrisies; improved autonomy abroad through increasing energy independence and trading in natural gas; an out from a Paris climate accord whose goals the U.S. meets anyway through free-market solutions; and the emerging outlines of a comprehensive doctrine of “principled realism” that restores deterrence.

The Trump presidency has also achieved a massive reduction in illegal immigration, arresting nearly 100,000 criminal illegal aliens and deporting over 52,000, a 30 percent increase over the same period last year. Illegal border crossings are down over 41 percent. The unemployment rate has ticked down to its lowest level in more than forty years, the stock market is surging, and the Senate just passed a critical piece of legislation that paves the way for tax reform that could potentially turbo-charge the U.S. economy if it’s done correctly.

For conservatives like myself, there are additional things to like about the Trump presidency. The appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and many other fine conservative judges to lower circuits is a definitely something to feel good about. Nikki Haley is kicking tail at the United Nations, and the Department of Veterans of Affairs has received a much-needed overhaul so it can take better care of those who’ve served our country.

More, Trump has taken a much-needed wrecking ball to political correctness, which has become twisted and weaponized far beyond the purpose for which it was originally intended, to the point where free speech itself is being stifled. Here’s an example: A lot of people think there are only two genders, boy and girl. Now, many other people think they're wrong, or that they should change that opinion. Some might argue that holding such a viewpoint is insensitive to the trans community. You could even argue that it flies in the face of modern social psychology. Fair enough.

But many people still think that there are two genders. And political correctness is the social force that holds them in contempt for that, or punishes them outright for saying so aloud.

Overturning political correctness is probably one of the most valuable and most-overlooked positive aspects of Donald Trump’s presidency, and even I can’t help but admit a certain admiration for his complete irreverence and disregard for its absurdity. In a “you can’t say that!” culture, where certain words and thoughts are no longer allowed, Trump says them, over and over—and then, when challenged, refuses to back down. In a society that has come to accept human frailty and accepts low horizons, Trump called for making the US “great again” and suggested that people can succeed like he has. And in a world where masculinity is now described as toxic, Trump relishes the opportunity to present himself as the tough guy. He simply does not care about political correctness, and more importantly, he’s shown that it’s okay not to care, that you can say what you think and not be afraid to say it. That is a powerful message, and a much-needed one.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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