Archive for March, 2010

Racism in employment still exists?

March 31, 2010 Leave a comment

James Hassett believes so:

One recent study by economists Yusuf Baskaya and Isaac Mbiti of Brown University went to Olympian lengths to explain the differential employment results and found that they could not, then concluded that employment differences “may stem from discrimination by employers who lay off black workers disproportionately during economic downturns.” While it is possible that there is some other omitted variable, Occam’s Razor suggests that discrimination is alive and well.

This might surprise many readers who live and work in well-integrated communities. Baskaya and Mbiti can explain the surprise, too. They found that there appears not to be any sign of discrimination against higher-skilled workers, those in the highest quartile of the wage distribution.

I don’t know whether racism in employment still exists or not, but I think it is sloppy to attribute disturbances in employment statistics as “discrimination”. This plays right into the hands of race hustlers who hold the view that the Obama administration should pursue a “black agenda” . It smacks of sloppiness because there are a variety of reasons why black unemployment is high such as high dropout rates (which charter schools won’t address), high crime rates, high pregnancy rates, and a very easy receptiveness to government welfare. When people like Mr. Hassett easily go for the “discrimination” response he shouldn’t be surprised when an increasing number of “disparate impact” lawsuits follow.

But what if even high crime rates, high pregnancy rates, and high dropout rates don’t even have anything to do with high black unemployment? What if instead it is simply government policy that is contributing to high black unemployment (and high unemployment, for that matter)? I was speaking with a former older colleague who made a $1.95 an hour as a night manager at Jack-In-The-Box in the 70s. Obviously he is not making that now, but it demonstrates that as we advance in our working careers we tend to make more money when we are older because we have more skills that are valuable to future employers. However, employers must contend with minimum wage laws, pay worker compensation insurance premiums, pay unemployment taxes, pay payroll taxes, follow OSHA guidelines, follow DOL guidelines, comply with multiple state and federal regulations, and this is on top of making sure they are an “equal opportunity employer”. What if all of that had more to do with high unemployment among blacks than anything else? Would you worry about hiring a “protected class” knowing that if you don’t tread lightly it can open you up to lawsuits under any type of “disparate impact” or “disparate treatment”?

The bottom line is that we shouldn’t be worried about high unemployment in one specific group relative to another. Instead we should just be worried about high unemployment. After all, I don’t think the white intern that I interned with at KPMG much appreciates being unemployed either.


A recipe for inviting socialism to our shores without us knowing.

March 30, 2010 Leave a comment

If you want to understand how socialism can come to our shores without us knowing, all you need to remember is a simple recipe. It goes as follows:

1. The government identifies a problem that needs to be solved and goes about writing legislation to solve the problem.
2. The problem, in reality does not get solved, but gets progressively worse. The government identifies the “free market” as the problem and thus authorizes legislation to solve the problem to the problem it created to solve the problem it originally identified.
3. The problem gets even worse, but the government blames the “free market” again and promises to fix the problem.
4. The problem gets even worse, but finally the government decides that the “free market” has messed everything up and decides to nationalize whatever economy it always believed was the problem.

Seems contrite and stupid, no? Well, that’s exactly how the government took over the student loan market:

Student loan “reform” slipped into the national agenda rather quietly in January 2007 when New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo began to investigate reports that Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest lender to students, had been engaged in some questionable practices. As it turned out, many private lenders had bribed college officials, and numerous colleges had abused their students by channeling them into disadvantageous loans. The scandal snowballed. It grew worse as then Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings appeared to stonewall inquiries and cover for the Republican-friendly Nelnet Corporation, a student loan re-financer that had gamed a DOE program to extract hundreds of millions of unwarranted payments. The mischief culminated in an ill-considered law signed by president Bush in September 2007, the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, CCRAA, that cut the payments to private lenders in the federally guaranteed student lending business so drastically that many of the lenders—some sixty of them—simply quit.

That added more snow to the snowball by creating the prospect that students would have a much harder time finding loans the following year. Congress recognized its mistake and in May 2008 rushed through a bill that authorized the Department of Education to buy up “debt” from the private lenders. In many ways this was a rehearsal for the great economic collapse and bank bailouts that came later in 2008.

Of course, this wasn’t done in a vacuum: the Dems attached this beautiful nationalization of the student loan market to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010*. I know there is irony in that statement, but I just can’t figure out what the irony is.

Oh, and supporters of this maneuver should really be careful what they wish for:

With direct federal control of student loans will come, as surely as a hangover follows a binge, federal control over the content of higher education.

“Education panels”, anyone?

*That’s Obamacare for any simpleton who can’t figure out how to tie their own shoes.

UPDATE: Daniel Foster at NRO concurs with my analysis.

A really good post by Andrew Klavan.

March 30, 2010 Leave a comment

I am not a religious person, however I do still believe in God. In my honest opinion, atheists have not convinced me why we should not believe in God because if we do not believe in God, then we must by definition believe in Man, and we have centuries of history to tell us that that is not a winning proposition. In fact, many of cultural elites have no use for God and instead seek to propagandize us with their sermons about a lack of belief in God. Andrew Klavan, however, is having none of it:

Now, I’m careful not to preach in these novels. I merely allow my narrator, Charlie West, to act and think as he would in life. For instance, in the book’s opening, Charlie takes 200 dollars off an assassin who tried to kill him. “Yes, I know the Ten Commandments,” Charlie tells us, “and yes, I know you’re not supposed to steal. But this didn’t feel like stealing.” The Brits wanted to cut the reference to the Ten Commandments.

I refused to allow these changes. I felt they were bigoted and absurd. As a result, my British editor says, Waterstone’s did indeed order far fewer copies of this book than they had ordered of its prequel, despite that earlier book’s success.

The last part is especially interesting. The publisher knows that Mr. Klavan’s books will sell, however, because of their bigoted views towards religion they are willing to sacrifice more sales than to compromise on their preconceived views. There is a great body of economic work that explores the economics of actual discrimination, not discrimination based on price. The conclusion is pretty clear: if a firm is a profit maximizing firm, then they won’t discriminate based on some external feature such as race, ethnicity, even religion. To do so is to essentially shoot yourself in the foot: if you discriminate, you automatically cut your business by refusing to deal with people you don’t like. In the long run, because of your prejudices, you are more than likely to go out of business. The only way a business can survive is if it can weather the loss in profits that would have been generated by the discriminated class of individuals. It sounds as though Mr. Klavan’s Briton publisher arrived at that conclusion, but how does that explain a lot of what Hollywood is doing?

During the Bush Administration, Hollywood made several anti-war films to purposely try to influence American opinion about the war. They ranged from the especially despicable (Redacted) to the mostly benign (Rendition). None made any serious money. Indeed, Matt Damon’s recent film, The Green Zone cost more than a $100 million to make, but only grossed $30 million. No movie studio can survive on that, but being anti-war (and anti-American) is more valuable to Hollywood than making money (even though they will say that making money is more important).

There is money in making Christian movies, as evidenced by low-budget films Fireproof and The Passion of the Christ but the bigotry towards religion is profound. After all, as Mr. Klavan said, “When religion does take a central place in a story, it’s usually as a sign of hypocrisy, bigotry, fanaticism or fraud.”

Indeed, as it turns out, making sure that people are reminded that religion is evil is more profitable than making money.

An Actual Case of a Threat Being Investigated.

March 29, 2010 Leave a comment

A man who threatened Rep. Eric Cantor is getting charged. Here’s the press release:

U.S. Department of Justice

United States Attorney

Eastern District of Pennsylvania


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106-4476

(215) *****



PHILADELPHIA – Today, a two-count complaint and warrant was filed charging Norman Leboon with threatening to kill United States Congressman Eric Cantor and his family, and threatening to kill Congressman Eric Cantor, who is an official of the United States, announced United States Attorney Michael L. Levy and FBI Special Agent in Charge Jan Fedarcyk. As set forth in the affidavit to the complaint and warrant, in or about late March, 2010, Leboon created and then transmitted a YouTube video to Google over the internet, in which he threatened to kill Congressman Cantor and his family. No harm came to the Congressman or his family as a result of Leboon’s threats.

“The Department of Justice takes threats against government officials seriously, especially threats to kill or injure others,” said Levy. “Whether the reason for the threat is personal or political, threats are not protected by the First Amendment and are crimes.”



Norman Leboon Philadelphia, PA 33 years old

If convicted of all the charges, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 15 years imprisonment, 3 years supervised release, a fine up to $500,000, and a $200 special assessment.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Philadelphia Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert K. Reed.

It’s good that this is getting the attention it deserves. It’s bad that in order to counter the political use of death threats by the Dems this is getting the attention it deserves.

To both sides: make your arguments on the merits not with threats of violence.

All Obama Promises come with expiration dates…

March 29, 2010 Leave a comment

…but this section of James Geraghty’s post is particularly instructive:


STATEMENT: “We will launch a sweeping effort to root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending in our government, and every American will be able to see how and where we spend taxpayer dollars by going to a new website called” – President Obama, January 28, 2009

EXPIRATION DATE: “More than two months after some of the funds were released, [] offers little detail on where the money is going… The government [spent] $84 million on a website that doesn’t have a search function, when its purpose is to ‘root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending in our government.’” April 2, 2009

If they couldn’t get the stimulus bill right, what makes them think that they will get Obamacare right?

Oh, by the way, a really great way to root out waste, inefficiency and unnecessary spending in government is to not have the government engage in unnecessary spending which invariably leads to waste and inefficiency and…unnecessary spending.


A passover from a Jewish Libertarian.

March 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Arnold Kling over at Econlog has a nice take on the Jewish Passover:

As we approach Passover in 2010, many people are unemployed. But in a free society, government does not create jobs.

Pharoah created jobs for us. Moses led us away from those jobs. Even though those jobs helped to complete public infrastructure. Even though they were green jobs, where we used our muscles and our backs instead of fossil fuels.

Moses could have been part of the ruling class in Egypt. He chose freedom instead. Those of us who followed Moses also chose freedom. Freedom brings risks. But we preferred the risks of freedom to the security of bondage.

Do not confuse government with G-d. Government cannot miraculously provide us with manna–or health care. When we look at government, we should not see G-d. We should see Pharoah. Government-worship is Pharoah-worship.

Passover is known as the festival of freedom. To live in the Jerusalem of a free society, we have to leave the Egypt of the reach of government.

Whether you’re Jewish or not, these are valuable words to live by. Trying to achieve utopia – life before the Original Sin, as it were – is only a path that leads to our destruction.

Pipe Bomb not set to detonate.

March 27, 2010 Leave a comment

One of the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordability Act of 2010* that many people worried about was the penalty for not purchasing insurance. It was long assumed that this was nothing but a front because charging the penalty would be a political loser and it would be hard to enforce in the first place. Well, courtesy of Big Government, the Senate Joint Committee on Taxation has weighed in and said that it is the provisions to enforce the penalties are lax at best and will not be enforced at worst:

Individuals who fail to maintain minimum essential coverage in 2016 are subject to a penalty equal to the greater of: (1) 2.5 percent of household income in excess of the taxpayer’s household income for the taxable year over the threshold amount of income required for income tax return filing for that taxpayer under section 6012(a)(1);67 or (2) $695 per uninsured adult in the household. The fee for an uninsured individual under age 18 is one-half of the adult fee for an adult. The total household penalty may not exceed 300 percent of the per adult penalty ($2,085). The total annual household payment may not exceed the national average annual premium for bronze level health plan offered through the Exchange that year for the household size…
The penalty applies to any period the individual does not maintain minimum essential coverage and is determined monthly. The penalty is assessed through the Code and accounted for as an additional amount of Federal tax owed. However, it is not subject to the enforcement provisions of subtitle F of the Code. The use of liens and seizures otherwise authorized for collection of taxes does not apply to the collection of this penalty. Non-compliance with the personal responsibility requirement to have health coverage is not subject to criminal or civil penalties under the Code and interest does not accrue for failure to pay such assessments in a timely manner.

So, what we have here is an intentional pipe bomb that is not set to detonate upon activation, but to detonate prematurely on purpose. In essence, if the penalty will be weakly enforced then everyone from businesses on down to individuals have an incentive to not purchase insurance until absolutely necessary (and in the case of businesses, to dump employees on the government). This is the nightmare that the insurance companies were afraid of: they will be hit with a surge of insurable sick people and not have enough money to pay for them (that’ll learn them for trying to negotiate with the Dems).

In essence, in this exchange between Bill O’Reilly and Rep. Anthony Weiner, Weiner is right: the law will not have any agency collect the fines because hey! the government ain’t gonna collect them anyway:

Then again, the IRS is the most efficient body on the face of the planet when it comes to taking your money so I’m going to have to say that Weiner (heh) is wrong.

*That’s Obamacare for you simpletons who don’t know what’s best for you.