Asian-Americans: A Social-Justice Blind Spot?

The Wall Street Journal had a student forum on the topic of the current uproar over attacks against Asian Americans.

…. Attacks against Asian-Americans are on the rise and the culprits are of many racial groups—whites not foremost among them. When Asians point out these issues with the white-supremacy narrative, we are told (often by white people) to shut up and to stop siding with “whiteness.” My message to Asian-Americans is to be wary of the progressive movement’s sudden embrace of our issues. They will toss us to the curb the moment we are no longer convenient to them.

—Zak Gelfond, University of Virginia, mathematics and economics

It’s not that Asian-Americans are a blind spot for progressives. It’s that the social-justice business model requires perpetual victimhood. The well-being of minorities is important only so long as it can be used as a political cudgel. It simply doesn’t fit the left’s narrative that a minority group can succeed in the U.S. with a culture of hard work and discipline.

The Biden administration dropped the Justice Department lawsuit against Yale that alleged discrimination against Asian-American applicants. It isn’t interested. But when a deranged gunman strikes—in an attack that may have had nothing to do with race, we don’t yet know—President Biden flies over immediately to denounce anti-Asian-American discrimination. This one fit the narrative.

This is why it’s called social justice. The modifier gives progressives the discretion to determine which groups deserve justice at which times. It’s a detraction from one of the most profound thoughts ever to reach the human mind: Justice is blind.

—Rafael Arbex-Murut, Virginia Tech, computer science and mathematics

It’s Not Journalism; It’s Fear-Mongering

What an outrageously misleading ‘report’ in the New York Times:

Editor:

Apoorva Mandavilli’s report titled “Cases in Florida, a national Covid bellwether, are rising – especially among younger people” (March 28) is irresponsible and deeply misleading.

Florida’s 7-day average of daily new Covid-19 cases is indeed, as of March 27th, 8 percent higher than it was two weeks earlier. Yet by reporting case counts only from Florida and not from other states, Ms. Mandavilli conveys the mistaken impression that Floridians are about to endure an unusually excessive amount of unnecessary suffering because of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (in)famous refusal to lock that state’s citizens down and to compel them to wear masks.

So let’s compare Florida to other some other states.

Over the same time period, the 7-day average of daily new Covid-19 cases in New Jersey is up by 20%; in New York by 28%; in Puerto Rico by 13%; and in Michigan by a whopping 134%. Citizens of each these jurisdictions have lived under, and continue to live under, tighter Covid restrictions than do Floridians. Puerto Ricans, in fact, are still under a stay-at-home order.

Reporting such as is done here by Ms. Mandavilli is either appallingly incompetent journalism or reckless fear-mongering. Either way it’s inexcusable.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

Source: It’s Not Journalism; It’s Fear-Mongering

Mass shooters are not disproportionately white and aren’t more likely to survive because of police favoritism

….

James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University, maintains a database in collaboration with USA Today and the Associated Press that covers all mass shootings in the United States since 2006. When I asked him to analyze the data around incidents such as the Boulder massacre, he confirmed that about 55 percent of perpetrators in such incidents had been reported as White. (In some cases, race was unreported). Using a different dataset that ran from 1976 to 2019, with more inclusive criteria for inferring race, Fox found that some 64 percent of shooters were White.

But this commits a common statistical fallacy — thinking that if most mass shooters were White, that means that White people must be particularly likely to commit mass shootings. That doesn’t follow. Most Americans are White, so the majority of people doing almost anything will be White if there’s no racial discrepancy.

Let’s dig a little deeper in the numbers. Most mass shootings are committed by adult men, and census data shows that about 67 percent of adult men in the United States are non-Hispanic Whites. So it appears that the number of White men committing these crimes is close to what we’d expect from pure chance, maybe even slightly lower — the opposite of what we’d see if white supremacy culture were at fault.

Of course, that’s not the only evidence of racial gaps here; White attackers do seem less likely to be shot by police. According to Fox, five of the 87 public mass shooting attacks in the database involved White shooters who were killed by police. During that same period, 10 non-White shooters were killed, as were five others whose race was unknown.

Yet that doesn’t mean, as some have suggested, that Whites are more likely to be apprehended alive in these public massacres; apparently, White shooters more often commit suicide before police can get to them. Overall, Whites are both half of those who commit mass shootings and also about half of those who die during their crime.

So hearing that a shooter has been apprehended by police won’t help you guess the shooter’s race. You could do exactly as well by flipping a coin.

Now, I’m not saying that there is no racial aspect at play. Fox notes that media coverage tends to focus more on White shooters — possibly because most violence happens within racial and ethnic groups, not between them. So White shooters tend to have White victims — and to be covered more intensively by the mostly White media. And attacks that get more coverage are easier to remember.

That memorability feeds a psychological distortion known as the “availability heuristic”: when examples people can readily call to mind are assumed to be highly representative of whatever larger phenomenon we’re thinking about. Yet, often, people remember things vividly precisely because the incidents were unrepresentative — especially horrifying or politically charged.

In short, there are indeed subtle racial angles to mass shootings that we might profitably explore. But this particular narrative, which is unfortunately the dominant one, is an analytical dead end. It’s also a harmful racial stereotype for which there is no good evidence.

We won’t advance the cause of racial justice by propagating false stereotypes about any group — even the majority. And we certainly won’t make much progress on mass shootings if we wrongly convince ourselves that an all-too-common national failing, afflicting Americans of all colors and creeds, is mostly the peculiar pathology of a single privileged class.

Source: Mass shooters are not disproportionately white and aren’t more likely to survive because of police favoritism

Why Is Everyone In Texas Not Dead?

Cases and deaths attributed to Covid are, like everywhere else, falling dramatically.

If you pay attention only to the media fear campaigns, you would find this confusing. More than two weeks ago, the governor of Texas completely reversed his devastating lockdown policies and repealed all his emergency powers, along with the egregious attacks on rights and liberties.

….

After nearly a year of nonsense, on March 2, 2021, the governor finally said enough is enough and repealed it all. Towns and cities can still engage in Covid-related mischief but at least they are no longer getting cover from the governor’s office.

At that moment, a friend remarked to me that this would be the test we have been waiting for. A complete repeal of restrictions would lead to mass death, they said. Would it? Did the lockdowns really control the virus? We would soon find out, he theorized.

I knew better. The “test” of whether and to what extent lockdowns control the virus or “suppress outbreaks” (in Anthony Fauci’s words) has been tried all over the world. Every serious empirical examination has shown that the answer is no.

….

The lockdown lobby was out in full force. And yet what do we see now more than two weeks out (and arguably the lockdowns died on March 2, when the government announced the decision)?

Here are the data.

The CDC has a very helpful tool that allows anyone to compare open vs closed states. The results are devastating for those who believe that lockdowns are the way to control a virus. In this chart we compare closed states Massachusetts and California with open states Georgia, Florida, Texas, and South Carolina.

What can we conclude from such a visualization? It suggests that the lockdowns have had no statistically observable effect on the virus trajectory and resulting severe outcomes. The open states have generally performed better, perhaps not because they are open but simply for reasons of demographics and seasonality. The closed states seem not to have achieved anything in terms of mitigation.

Source: AIER

Life In America Is Not Disastrous By Skin Color

Wilfred C. Reilly writes at Commentary:

The world is imperfect, human beings are imperfect, and racial prejudice is still a feature of American life in 2021. These are hard truths. But so are these: Our country legally banned de jure segregation in 1954, made virtually all discrimination formally illegal in 1964, and has practiced pro-minority affirmative action since 1967. Simply put, these efforts to address the results of racial animus have worked, to a degree that is, for complex reasons, rarely discussed. But facts are facts. In 2021 America, it is not, objectively speaking, extraordinarily hard for a person of any skin tone to “make it.”

Source: Life In America Is Not Disastrous By Skin Color

Facts do not support early claims about Capitol riot

 Reuters:

Prosecutors made some serious claims after the deadly U.S. Capitol attack, saying they had evidence rioters planned to kill elected officials, suggesting a Virginia man at the building received directives to gas lawmakers, and accusing another suspect of directing mayhem on Jan. 6 with encrypted messages.

But the Justice Department has since acknowledged in court hearings that some of its evidence concerning the riot – carried out by a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump to try to overturn his election loss – is less damning than it initially indicated.

….

The prosecutors apparently overstated their cases early on and have now started to backtrack.  I suspect there was some animus toward President Trump by DOJ officials that led to these false and misleading charges against the alleged perps.  The media also tended to overstate the seriousness of the situation in the Capitol, including allegations of “armed insurrection.”

As a former prosecutor, I think it is always a mistake to overcharge a case.  You put yourself in the position of losing credibility with the court and the jury.

Source: Facts do not support early claims about Capitol riot

Man-of-System Madness!

Merch madness…

(Don Boudreaux) Tweet Every Spring in the U.S., many Americans are tuned in to what is called “March Madness.” (This madness usually occurs in early April, but because of Covid-19, it actually is occurring in 2021 in March. In 2020 it was cancelled by Covid Craziness.) Sixty-four – well, now more, but traditionally 64 – college basketball teams are invited to participate in the NCAA Division I basketball tournament.

….

Café Hayek isn’t a sports or betting blog; it’s an economics blog.

Here’s the relevance.

Production involves matching different inputs together in ways that generate outputs that are useful to human beings. And production is ‘better’ the more useful are the outputs produced relative to the value of the inputs used to produce these outputs. If McDonald’s produces one million Big Macs this year using only half of the inputs that it used last year to produce one million Big Macs, there are more resources available this year to produce goods and services that last year were too costly to produce. McDonald’s improved efficiency at producing Big Macs makes increases the wealth not only of McDonald’s shareholders but of countless people who have nothing at all to do with McDonald’s, either as owners, workers, or customers.

And so we, simply as denizens of the modern economy, should care how well different inputs are combined with each other to produce outputs. Suppose that $X value of some good can be produced in one of two ways: (1) by combining input A with input B; or (2) by combining input A with inputs C and D.

Which is the better way? The answer is easy: the one with the lowest cost. If here using inputs A, C, and D costs less than using inputs A and B, we should all want this good produced with inputs A, C, and D.

Nothing is easier than to write ‘We should produce as efficiently as possible’ – which, in effect, is just what I wrote. The challenge in this complex reality of ours is to actually achieve production that is as efficient as possible.

To the extent that we let government override market decisions and processes, we let government do the equivalent of trying to fill out a perfect NCAA tournament bracket. The actual play of each game determines which team, at least under the particular circumstances – and at the particular times – of the games, is the best team. Likewise, the actual play of market competition determines which particular combination of inputs is the best way of producing some (given) output.

It would be folly to think that we can eliminate the need to actually carry out the competition of tournament games by having some ‘experts’ fill out the brackets in order to determine which teams are best. It would be even greater folly to think that we can eliminate the need to actually carry out market competition by having some ‘experts’ write down ahead of time which is the ‘best’ method of producing some (given) output.

The latter folly would be greater than in the basketball-tournament case for at least two reasons. First, unlike in the basketball-tournament case, in the economy we must also somehow figure out what is the best combination of goods and services to produce. The ‘best’ outcomes in the basketball tournament are simply those outcomes that emerge from the playing of the games fairly. In the economy, though, the relative ranking of ultimate outputs – of consumer goods and services – must be made such that all production effort is geared to producing those goods and services.

Second, there are only 64 teams in the NCAA tournament, with only one eventual ‘winner’ (which can be thought of as a final consumer good). In the economy, there are literally trillions of resources and hundreds of billions of ‘winners’ – that is, final consumer goods and services the production of which justifies using inputs. The complexity of the economy is untold magnitudes greater than is the complexity of the NCAA basketball tournament.

Source: Man-of-System Madness!

Dems Peddling False Narrative Of Republican Anti-Asian American Racism

Since Donald Trump’s share of the Asian-American vote rose from 29% in 2016 to 34% in 2020, the Democrats and their media allies are doing their best to create a sense of racial victimization among Asian-Americans and blame it on Donald Trump.

….

The media hysterically reports a 150% increase in hate crimes against Asian-Americans during the pandemic. But read the fine print. The actual number of such crimes is minor. New York City had 28, Boston 14 and Los Angeles 15. And the FBI defines hate crimes very broadly to include vandalism and any “criminal offense against a person or propter motivated by an offender’s bias…”

….

The Biden Justice Department is clearly putting the rights of Asian American applicants below those of African-Americans and other minorities. With the marvelous success-orientation of a great many young Asian-Americans, it is of far greater moment whether their racial heritage will bar their way into top quality schools than whether the President accuses China of starting the pandemic.

Dick Morris.com

Jim Crow Is Not on the Georgia Ballot

Here are the actual proposals being cast as ‘voter suppression.’

One plan would do away with signature matching, so election workers aren’t squinting at loops and handwriting slants to verify absentee ballots. Instead, mail ballots and applications would have a field for voters to write their state ID numbers. Georgians who vote in person are already asked for identification, and the state offers free IDs.

Other ideas are a non-nefarious grab bag. The House bill would set an earlier deadline for requesting a mail ballot: Applications would be due 11 days before the election, instead of four. This is moving in the right direction, but the U.S. Postal Service says 15 days should be allotted, so voters receive their blank ballots with enough time to mail back their completed ones.

The House would set permanent rules for ballot drop boxes. Counties would be capped at one box for every 100,000 active voters. Box placement would be limited to county offices or early voting sites, and they’d be operational only during regular voting hours. The boxes would need “constant surveillance” by election staff or security. Ballots would have to be collected daily by two workers, to prevent anyone from being left alone with a pile of votes.

Source: Jim Crow Is Not on the Georgia Ballot

UBI Science?

Some problems with a study on Universal Basic Income…

Yet now liberals want a UBI not to replace welfare programs, but to supplement them. Congress’s pandemic checks and potpourri of refundable tax credits, including $3,600 for each child under age 6, are essentially a UBI. Democrats want to make these handouts permanent, and in support they’re touting a recent study of a small privately funded experiment in Stockton. “Study: Employment rose among those in free money experiment,” an AP headline declared.

Not quite. The study randomly selected 125 Stockton residents from low-income neighborhoods and gave them $500 a month on a prepaid debit card. Another 200 residents served as the control group. Asian/Pacific Islanders and homeowners comprised a larger share of the debit-card recipients than of the control group , which could have biased the results.

The study’s small sample and reliance on self-reported outcomes are bigger problems. It’s difficult to assess a statistically significant effect on employment among such a small group over a one-year period—from Feb. 2019 to Feb. 2020—especially given high labor-market turnover among lower earners.

Full-time employment rose in both groups but was slightly lower among the free-cash recipients at the beginning and slightly higher at the end. Hence the study cagily concludes: “Unconditional cash enabled recipients to find full-time employment” (our emphasis)—not that it actually increased employment. Most media ignored this nuance.

Students of incentives might also point out that people receiving free cash might be more likely to claim they are working even if they’re not. In any case, the unconditional Stockton cash grants are temporary, and there’s a graver risk that recipients would drop out of the labor force if the grants were made permanent.

The study says free-cash recipients were virtuous, and “less than 1% of tracked purchases were for tobacco and alcohol.” But about 40% of the money loaded onto their prepaid debit cards was either transferred to a pre-existing bank account or withdrawn as cash. Researchers don’t know how this money was spent.

The researchers were promoting UBI on their Twitter feeds less than halfway through the experiment. One claimed “it’s embarrassingly straightforward, without #guaranteedincome, you get a guaranteed recession.” Their progressive bias is transparent.

They conclude that even UBI is “not nearly enough,” and they also want a higher minimum wage, universal child care, and rental assistance, among other income transfers. The left wants to obliterate Congress’s 1996 bipartisan reform that linked welfare to work, and they’re well on their way.