Title IX vs the Constitution

Some people just can’t resist putting the “Twit” in Twitter.

From Advice Goddess blog:

From Rewire (in that tweet above), Shiwali Patel reports this gem about the supposedly “fair process” under Title IX for sexual assault.

…There is no inherent conflict between ensuring a fair process for survivors and a fair process for alleged perpetrators. For the record, when we advocate that schools be trauma-informed in responding to sexual violence and that schools stop and prevent sexual harassment, we are not asking the school to take away due process rights. It’s possible to advocate for both a fair process for all students and the safety of survivors of sexual violence. Take cross-examinations, for example, where institutions could ensure a fair process by allowing parties to submit questions to each other through hearing panels or investigators, yet still protect the safety of survivors by not permitting direct questioning by the accused student.
To highlight a recent case, a federal court last month held that the University of Michigan had violated an accused student’s due process rights to a live hearing and an opportunity to question the woman who filed the complaint against him. In doing so, the court “consider[ed] the emotional harm and trauma” to survivors of being directly questioned by their rapists. It concluded that the accused student had a right to question the woman who filed the complaint, but could only do so by submitting his questions to the student resolution panel or other school administrators, who would then ask the questions on his behalf.

I’m no lawyer; I’m just somebody who follows a few lawyers on Twitter; and even I knew immediately that this was, shall we say, merde du cheval.

Several lawyers chimed in pointing this out.

My comment was:

I think Ms. Lhamon’s tweet should be construed as a waiver of the right to cross-examine should she ever be in a legal dispute.

Race and the Race for the White House: On Social Research in the Age of Trump | SpringerLink

Source: Race and the Race for the White House: On Social Research in the Age of Trump | SpringerLink

From the abstract:

This essay presents a series of case studies showing how analyses of the roles of race and racism in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election seem to have been systematically distorted as a result. However, motivated reasoning, confirmation bias, prejudicial study design, and failure to address confounds are not limited to questions about race (a similar essay could have been done on the alleged role of sexism/ misogyny in the 2016 cycle, for instance). And while Trump does seem to generate particularly powerful antipathy from researchers – perhaps exacerbating negative tendencies – ideologically-driven errors likely permeate a good deal of social research. Presented evidence suggests that research with strong adversarial or advocacy orientations may be most susceptible to systemic distortion. Activist scholars and their causes may also be among those most adversely impacted by the resultant erosion of research reliability and credibility.

The article is behind a paywall, but Campus Watch offers commentary:

One example of this phenomena can be seen in the April 2017 Washington Post article “Racism motivated Trump voters more than authoritarianism,” by Thomas Wood, who teaches political science classes at Ohio State University.

While Wood cites survey data to claim that Trump voters were especially motivated by racism, a closer analysis by al-Gharbi reveals that Wood’s arguments about Trump voters can’t be substantiated from the data cited in the article.

“According to Wood’s own data, whites who voted for Trump are perhaps less racist than those who voted for Romney,” al-Gharbi explains, adding that “not only were they less authoritarian than Romney voters, but less racist too!”

“Unfortunately, Wood declined to consider how Trump voters differed from Romney voters…instead focusing on the gap between Democrats and Republicans in 2016, in the service of a conclusion his data do not support,” he adds.

The Empirical Reality of the Minimum Wage (Donald J. Boudreaux)

From the American Institute for Economic Research:

The Current Consensus

So what, really, is the state of modern empirical research into minimum wages? Let’s start with an unambiguous statement: Paul Krugman is factually mistaken. Plenty of recent evidence indicates that raising the minimum wage costs jobs. As long-time minimum-wage researcher David Neumark concluded in a December 2015 article for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco:

Coupled with critiques of the [econometric] methods that generate little evidence of job loss, the overall body of recent evidence suggests that the most credible conclusion is a higher minimum wage results in some job loss for the least-skilled workers — with possibly larger adverse effects than earlier research suggested.

 

My own extensive reading of minimum-wage research confirms Neumark’s conclusion.

That said, it is also the case that quite a few, although not a majority, of the empirical studies of minimum-wage hikes find no evidence that these hikes destroy jobs. What explains these conflicting research results?

One reason for these inconsistent conclusions is simply the differences in skill and meticulousness that separate some researchers from others. Economic studies vary greatly in quality and reliability. Not every piece of published work by Ph.D. economists is trustworthy. Far from it.

But even after excluding all shoddily done studies of minimum wages, we’re still left with conflict in the conclusions. Fortunately, economic theory itself supplies clues as to why.

Clue #1: While the destruction of jobs for some low-wage workers is the banner prediction elementary economics makes about minimum wages, it’s not the only prediction. Employers and workers can adjust to minimum-wage hikes in other ways. For example, the value of fringe benefits can be reduced, as when restaurants no longer let their employees eat free of charge and when retailers stop offering their merchandise to employees at discount prices.

Similarly, employers can work their low-wage employees harder or become less tolerant of these employees’ showing up for work late, leaving work early, or texting and making personal phone calls while on company time.

To the extent that employers and employees adjust to hikes in minimum wages in these ways, the incentive for employers to reduce the number of low-wage workers they employ is muted. Hence the number of workers cast into unemployment by minimum-wage hikes is diminished.

Clue #2: Employers can adjust to higher minimum wages not only by reducing the number of low-skilled workers they employ, but by reducing the number of hours they employ each of these workers. Indeed, because minimum-wage legislation is written in terms of hourly wages, the most precise description of the banner prediction that elementary economics makes about minimum wages is that these legislative mandates reduce the number of hours of low-skilled labor that employers wish to hire (rather than the number of such workers themselves).

Therefore, empirical studies that count the number of workers employed, rather than the number of hours workers work, count the wrong variable. While it’s true that the most obvious way, and often the easiest way, for employers to reduce the number of hours of labor they employ is to employ fewer workers, empirical studies that find that minimum wages cause no reduction in the number of people employed do nothing to cast doubt on the elementary case against minimum wages because an alternative way is to employ the same number of workers but at fewer hours.

Even if no workers lose jobs because of minimum wages, minimum wages harm these workers if some of them are thereby unable to work as many hours as they would work absent minimum wages.

Clue #3: Employers in countries in which minimum wages have existed for many years have adjusted their business plans not only to the existence of minimum wages, but also to the likelihood that minimum wages will rise. In the United States, the current national minimum wage was first imposed in 1938 by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Starting off at $0.25 per hour, it has since been raised 22 times, an average of once every 44 months. This minimum wage is now $7.25 per hour.

Because this minimum wage has been around, without pause, for 80 years, because it is routinely increased, and because there is no realistic prospect of its being repealed, employers make their business plans accordingly. No firm today in the United States uses a production process as heavily reliant on low-skilled workers as some of these processes would be absent a minimum wage. Knowing of the existence both of the minimum wage and of the likelihood that it will be raised in the not-too-distant future, employers use more labor-saving machinery and fewer low-skilled workers than they would use otherwise.

So it’s no surprise that some researchers fail to detect any resulting decrease in employment whenever the minimum wage is increased. The negative employment effects of the minimum wage were already built into the structure of the American economy. Indeed, when this undeniably correct prediction of economics is understood, it is not too much to say that the most surprising fact about the many modern empirical studies of minimum wages is that any of them find that hikes in minimum wages continue to have statistically significant negative employment effects.

Despite some commentary to the contrary, empirical studies of the employment effects of minimum wages do not come close to proving that minimum wages don’t harm many of the people most minimum-wage supporters wish to help: low-skilled workers.

Bees are not in Danger – Cedar Writes

Source: Bees are not in Danger – Cedar Writes

….Looking, for the moment, at honeybees in particular, we are seeing that far from being devastated by Colony Collapse Disorder, there has been an increase in their numbers. The pesticide most often blamed for bee death is neonicotinoids, which are applied to crops and taken up into the plants to kill pests when they eat the plant. Which bees do not, so you may be pardoned confusion over how bees are affected by this. The neonics are taken up into pollen, which bees do eat. However, “there is no scientific evidence to link neonicotinoids as the major cause of colony declines” even when the bees were fed 20 times the amount normally expected to be found in their usual foraging. Science has shown that, in direct opposition to what is being shown in media, low doses of pesticides and bacteria in combination can actually have a beneficial effect on bees. But the EU banned neonics… only that “legislation was at no time based on a direct link on bee mortality.” In fact, honeybees in Europe are overall healthier than they were in the past, as shown by overwintering hive survival.

And what about the wild bees? Well, there are not a lot of species that visit the crops, and none of the endangered species contribute to agricultural pollination. What does this mean? That we shouldn’t do anything about the poor endangered species of bees? No… but what it does tell me is that they are not endangered because of pesticides. They don’t visit the same places where pesticides are used. And the bees who are exposed? Can be encouraged greatly with simple conservations measures like leaving strips of wildflowers blooming in between fields.

I suspect a lot of people aren’t going to want to hear this. It may mean that all their activism has been a waste of time.

The Narrative Trumps All

STUDY: Researchers falsely frame Trump supporters as racists

Links to the studies are in the piece.

Led by Musa al-Gharbi, a Columbia University sociologist, “On Social Research in the Age of Trump” analyzes three case studies of academic research on Trump to illustrate the various ways that academics have misrepresented the president and his voter base to the public.

One example of this phenomena can be seen in the April 2017 Washington Post article “Racism motivated Trump voters more than authoritarianism,” by Thomas Wood, who teaches political science classes at Ohio State University.

While Wood cites survey data to claim that Trump voters were especially motivated by racism, a closer analysis by al-Gharbi reveals that Wood’s arguments about Trump voters can’t be substantiated from the data cited in the article.

“According to Wood’s own data, whites who voted for Trump are perhaps less racist than those who voted for Romney,” al-Gharbi explains, adding that “not only were they less authoritarian than Romney voters, but less racist too!”

 

The Plane: Economics in two parts

From The Writer in Black

The Plane: or Why Interest is Justified

This is my own telling of one of Frederic Bastiat’s essays. I like it because it makes clear, why those to provide capital–the means of production–are entirely justified in receiving ongoing recompense for providing that well beyond. Suppose there was a rough carpenter, let’s call him John. He makes a certain amount of money in […]

And here’s part 2:

The Plane (part 2)

Last time we left carpenter turned capitalist John retired, with his capital passed on to his son John Jr.

This time we take a look at John Sr’s old workshop. It’s still sitting there. John Jr. could go into that workshop and start doing carpentry. That’s one measure of the value of that workshop sitting there. Another is that he could simply sell it and let someone else worry about doing the carpentry. But there’s a third possibility. Someone, let’s call him Andre, approaches him. Andre wants to do carpentry but Andre doesn’t have any tools or workshop. Andre could, in principle build his own workshop and acquire his own tools but there’s this one John Jr. has. So he suggests John Jr. let him work in it.

[snip]

So the same principles that applied to John Sr. and his plane apply to John Jr. and his factory. And it’s entirely proper that the people providing capital, the means of production, be compensated based on whatever benefit they could obtain through alternate uses of that capital. And the people managing capital be compensated based not on the “labor” they provide but on the value they bring to the enterprise.

Trigger Warning: Trigger warning ahead

A new study suggests that trigger warnings may actually increase student vulnerability to offensive or troubling material.

Is it possible that “trigger warnings” — warnings to students and others that they are about to encounter potentially offensive or disturbing material — do more harm than good? A new study suggests that may be the case.

Trigger warnings may inadvertently undermine some aspects of emotional resilience. Further research is needed on the generalizability of our findings, especially to collegiate populations and to those with trauma histories.

Source

It’s not just Jonah Goldberg

Bill Flax in Forbes Magazine:

In Argentina, everyone acknowledges that fascism, state capitalism, corporatism – whatever – reflects very leftwing ideology. Eva Peron remains a liberal icon. President Obama’s Fabian policies (Keynesian economics) promise similar ends. His proposed infrastructure bank is just the latest gyration of corporatism. Why then are fascists consistently portrayed as conservatives?

In the Thirties, intellectuals smitten by progressivism considered limited, constitutional governance anachronistic. The Great Depression had apparently proven capitalism defunct. The remaining choice had narrowed between communism and fascism. Hitler was about an inch to the right of Stalin. Western intellectuals infatuated with Marxism thus associated fascism with the Right.

Later, Marxists from the Frankfurt School popularized this prevailing sentiment. Theodor Adorno in The Authoritarian Personality devised the “F” scale to demean conservatives as latent fascists. The label “fascist” has subsequently meant anyone liberals seek to ostracize or discredit.

Fascism is an amorphous ideology mobilizing an entire nation (Mussolini, Franco and Peron) or race (Hitler) for a common purpose. Leaders of industry, science, education, the arts and politics combine to shepherd society in an all encompassing quest. Hitler’s premise was a pure Aryan Germany capable of dominating Europe.

While he feinted right, Hitler and Stalin were natural bedfellows. Hitler mimicked Lenin’s path to totalitarian tyranny, parlaying crises into power. Nazis despised Marxists not over ideology, but because they had betrayed Germany in World War I and Nazis found it unconscionable that German communists yielded fealty to Slavs in Moscow.

[snip]

While political correctness as manifest in the West is very anti-Nazi and those opposing multiculturalism primarily populate the Right, it’s false to confuse fascism with conservatism. Coupling negatives is not necessarily positive. Because the Nazis would likely detest something that conservatives also dislike indicates little harmony. Ohio State hates Michigan. Notre Dame does too, but Irish fans rarely root for the Buckeyes.

America’s most fascistic elements are ultra leftwing organizations like La Raza or the Congressional Black Caucus. These racial nationalists seek gain not through merit, but through the attainment of government privileges. What’s the difference between segregation and affirmative action? They are identical phenomena harnessing state auspices to impose racialist dogma.

The Nation of Islam and other Afrocentric movements, like the Nazis, even celebrate their own perverse racist mythology. Are Louis Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright conservatives? Is Obama?

Racism does not exclusively plague the Right. Many American bigots manned the Left: ex-Klansman Hugo Black had an extremely left wing Supreme Court record, George Wallace was a New Deal style liberal – he just wanted welfare and social programs controlled by states. Communists always persecute minorities whenever in power.

The Nazis’ anti-Semitism derived indirectly from Karl Marx, who despite Jewish ancestry was deeply anti-Semitic. Bankers and other capitalists were disproportionately Jewish. Elsewhere, Jews played prominent roles. Before falling under Hitler’s sway, Mussolini’s inner circle was overly Jewish. Peron was the first leader to let Jews hold public office in Argentina. Franco, a Marana, welcomed Jews back into Spain for the first time since 1492 and famously thwarted Hitler by harboring Jewish refugees.

Very little of Hitler’s domestic activity was even remotely right wing. Europe views Left and Right differently, but here, free markets, limited constitutional government, family, church and tradition are the bedrocks of conservatism. The Nazis had a planned economy; eradicated federalism in favor of centralized government; considered church and family as competitors; and disavowed tradition wishing to restore Germany’s pre-Christian roots.

Despite Democrats’ pretensions every election, patriotism is clearly a conservative trait so Nazi foreign policy could be vaguely right wing, but how did Hitler’s aggression differ from Stalin’s? The peace movement evidenced liberals being duped as “useful idiots” more than pacifistic purity. Note the Left’s insistence on neutrality during the Hitler/Stalin pact and their urgent switch to militarism once Germany attacked.

After assuming power, Nazis strongly advocated “law and order.” Previously, they were antagonistic thugs, which mirrored the communists’ ascension. The Nazis outlawed unions perceiving them as competitors for labor’s loyalties, i.e. for precisely the same reason workers’ paradises like Communist China and Soviet Russia disallowed unions. To Nazis, the state sustained workers’ needs.

Even issues revealing similarity to American conservatism could also describe Stalin, Mao and many communists. This is not to suggest liberals and fascists are indistinguishable, but a fair assessment clearly shows if any similarities appear with American politics they reside more on the Left than Right.

Inevitable Blood On Your Hands

A golden oldie, from Marginal Revolution:

…Every law is violent. We try not to think about this, but we should. On the first day of law school, I tell my Contracts students never to argue for invoking the power of law except in a cause for which they are willing to kill. They are suitably astonished, and often annoyed. But I point out that even a breach of contract requires a judicial remedy; and if the breacher will not pay damages, the sheriff will sequester his house and goods; and if he resists the forced sale of his property, the sheriff might have to shoot him.

This is by no means an argument against having laws.

It is an argument for a degree of humility as we choose which of the many things we may not like to make illegal. Behind every exercise of law stands the sheriff – or the SWAT team – or if necessary the National Guard. Is this an exaggeration? Ask the family of Eric Garner, who died as a result of a decision to crack down on the sale of untaxed cigarettes. That’s the crime for which he was being arrested. Yes, yes, the police were the proximate cause of his death, but the crackdown was a political decree.

The statute or regulation we like best carries the same risk that some violator will die at the hands of a law enforcement officer who will go too far. And whether that officer acts out of overzealousness, recklessness, or simply the need to make a fast choice to do the job right, the violence inherent in law will be on display. This seems to me the fundamental problem that none of us who do law for a living want to face.

But all of us should.

Any law that is enacted in your name will be backed up by the thread of deadly force. Inevitably, the threat will have to be followed through upon. That means sooner or later, someone will die because of that law. So some blood on the hands is inevitable.

I thought of this column today after reading about Santa Barbara’s ban on plastic straws:

On Tuesday, the Santa Barbara City Council unanimously passed a bill that prohibits restaurants, bars, and other food service businesses from handing out plastic straws to their customers. …Santa Barbara… has banned even compostable straws, permitting only drinking tubes made from nonplastic materials such as paper, metal, or bamboo. The city also has made a second violation* of its straw prohibition both an administrative infraction carrying a $100 fine and a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to six months in jail. Each contraband straw or unsolicited plastic stirrer counts as a separate violation, so fines and jail time could stack up quickly.

…Assistant City Attorney Scott Vincent tells me criminal charges would be pursued only after repeat violations and if there were aggravating circumstances.

I wonder what direction the slippery slope runs in this case.