URLs du Jour

2018-12-18

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  • The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has issued an important Report: As changes to Title IX enforcement loom, America’s top universities overwhelmingly fail to guarantee fair hearings for students. Among the findings, conveniently bullet-pointed:

    • 3 in 4 top universities do not guarantee presumption of innocence in campus proceedings.
    • 9 in 10 top universities do not guarantee meaningful cross-examination in cases of alleged sexual misconduct.
    • None of the surveyed institutions guarantee all the due process protections required under the new, proposed Title IX regulations.
    • Polling shows students overwhelmingly want due process protections, but universities fail to deliver.

    The University Near Here was not among the surveyed schools. Dartmouth rated a "D" for its policies. My alma mater, Caltech, rated an F (both for its ordinary misconduct and its different sexual misconduct procedures). I never got in any trouble, but only because standards were different back then; within broad limits, you could be an immature, horny jerk without repercussions.


  • In an "NRPLUS" article (still don't know what that means), Kevin D. Williamson writes on Minimum Wage Laws -- Flight from Economic Reality.

    Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is a way to try to force consumers of labor to value certain low-skill labor more highly than they do. But here’s the thing: They don’t. There isn’t any law that is going to make somebody voluntarily swap his Rolls-Royce for a stick of chewing gum, and there isn’t any law that is going to make any employer actually value a Burger King fry-guy (I’ve been one of those, too) in a way that is equal to how they value a newspaper copy-editor (yep) or a guy who hauls away debris from a construction site (ditto; pays better than I expected). Economic preferences are real, and you cannot legislate away reality.

    What you can do is interfere with exchange. You can price out of the market entirely people whose labor is not actually worth $15 an hour to any employer, or you can force employers to try to offload those extra labor costs onto other employees, suppliers, or customers. You can encourage automation and other substitutions of capital for labor. And you can cause all sorts of chaos.

    The bottom line won't come as a shock to anyone: minimum wage laws are misguided. But KDW (as usual) illuminates the issue well. Hope you can RTWT.


  • Matt Ridley writes on the persistent appeal of pessimism. He lists a number of reasons for the pessimistic bias. Final one is what deems "turning-point-itis":

    This is the tendency to think that things may have improved in the past but will no longer do so in the future, because we stand at a turning point in history. It’s true, as brokers like to say, that past performance is no guide to future performance. But as the historian Lord Macaulay wrote almost two centuries ago, “On what principle is it that with nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?”

    Well, there's the Dow Jones Industrial Average, for one thing.

    Maybe I'll adapt a strategy similar to Charles C. Mann's: On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I'll be pessimistic; On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, optimistic. And on Sunday, I'll just drink to excess.


  • Jim Treacher has a bone to pick with this less-than-Presidential tweet:

    It's all part of the Trump strategy to Make America Great Again by Cheering When People Lose Their Jobs at Christmastime.

    If you've paid any attention to Trump's public statements, you know this could've been written by an algorithm:

    [Hostile adjective] + [Hostile adjective] + [Name of somebody who has criticized Trump] + [Factual inaccuracy] + [Parting taunt punctuated with exclamation point]

    The only surprise is that he used "prognosticator" correctly in a sentence. I wouldn't have prognosticated that, so kudos to President Trump on that one.

    I know it's not my fault, but even after nearly two years, I'm embarrassed for our country every time President Trump displays his total lack of class.


  • Not only that, but we have an FDA Administrator who can't see the forest for the trees. Jacob Sullum at Reason: Amid the Underage Vaping 'Epidemic,' Adolescent Smoking Again Hits a Record Low.

    The latest results from the Monitoring the Future Study, released today, show a jump in vaping by teenagers similar to the one indicated by the National Youth Tobacco Survey numbers published last month. They also show that cigarette smoking by high school seniors, which hit a record low last year, continues to decline.

    Since e-cigarettes are far less dangerous than the conventional, combustible kind, the relationship between these two trends is vitally important in evaluating the public health impact of the underage vaping "epidemic." Yet the head of the Food and Drug Administration says his agency, because it is obligated to reduce e-cigarette use by minors at all costs, cannot weigh the possibility that its interventions, which so far include flavor restrictions and anti-vaping propaganda, may result in more smoking-related disease and death.

    Let me hasten to say that nicotine addiction is a bad thing, and I wouldn't advise people to develop it via either tobacco or vaping. But compare and contrast the British attitude versus American Moral Panic:

    Having concluded that the benefits far outweigh the risks, the United Kingdom has muscled straight on past the United States on this issue. In 2016, London’s Royal College of Physicians not only endorsed the use of e-cigarettes as smoking cessation aids, but also concluded that vaping devices are up to 95% less harmful than traditional tobacco cigarettes.

    We need to keep young people healthier, so they can keep funding my Social Security, dudes.


Last Modified 2018-12-20 6:34 AM EDT