“But that’s why we shouldn’t have laws that enshrine any sort of profiling. If the immigration problems in Arizona are really so serious that they merit deep intrusions upon the liberty of citizens who happen to resemble illegal immigrants, than they are serious enough to intrude on the liberty of everyone. Don’t make the cops check the status of anyone who they “reasonably suspect” is illegal; make them check the status of everyone, no matter how blond-haired, blue-eyes, and fluent in standard American english they may be. If you forget your license at home, the police detain you, just like they detain anyone of mexican descent, while someone fetches it. If you can’t produce a birth certificate, passport, or similar, then you wait in the pokey until they can verify your legal status. No police discretion. No profiling. ” — Megan McArdle, on the Arizona immigration law
Monthly Archive for April, 2010
What’s the quickest and easiest way to create a nationwide system of segregation academies? Force people to go to school based on where they live. How do you make them even worse? Let the district lines be drawn by an unaccountable bureaucracy that claims to care about kids but actually doesn’t care how many children’s lives it has to destroy in order to keep the gravy trains running on time. What is the only – the only – empirically proven way to successfully smash segregation? School choice.” — Greg Forster, blogging on the segregation of NY publc schools
From The Atlantic article “How Taxes Changed Boxing“:
“The 1950s was the era of the 90 percent top marginal tax rate, and by the end of that decade live gate receipts for top championship fights were supplemented by the proceeds from closed circuit telecasts to movie theaters. A second fight in one tax year would yield very little additional income, hardly worth the risk of losing the title. And so, the three fights between Floyd Patterson and Ingemar Johansson stretched over three years (1959-1961); the two between Patterson and Sonny Liston over two years (1962-1963), as was also true for the two bouts between Liston and Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) (1964-1965).
Then, the Tax Reform Act of 1964 cut the top marginal tax rate to 70 percent effective in 1965. The result: two heavyweight title fights in 1965, and five in 1966.”
General Motors CEO Ed Whitacre made a big deal this week about GM’s repayment of the $6.7 billion in loans that the company got last year from the U.S. and Canadian governments. (GM press release here.) However, as this article points out, GM still has the $52 billion it got that was classified as equity rather than as debt. That money won’t be repaid unless and until GM does an Initial Public Offering which is large and successful enough to sell the government-owned positions at a price high enough to net $52 billion for the 73% of the stock owned by these two governments. For comparison, the total market capitalization of the Ford Motor Company is $48 billion. Moreover, this article suggests that even some of the $6.7 billion that was repaid came from other government funds, and hence may have been “an elaborate TARP money shuffle,” in Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley’s words.” — Chicago Boyz blog
“While we are all familiar with the role played by the United States and the European colonial powers like Britain, France, Holland, Portugal and Spain, there is very little discussion of the role Africans themselves played…How did slaves make it to these coastal forts? The historians John Thornton and Linda Heywood of Boston University estimate that 90 percent of those shipped to the New World were enslaved by Africans and then sold to European traders. The sad truth is that without complex business partnerships between African elites and European traders and commercial agents, the slave trade to the New World would have been impossible, at least on the scale it occurred.” — Henry Louis Gates Jr, writing in the New York Times
John Stossel explains.
“A recent survey by Pew revealed that 86 percent of conservatives agree that “not reporting all income on your taxes is morally wrong” compared to only 68 percent of liberals. Conservatives want lower taxes but feel they should pay what they owe. Liberals want you to pay more but don’t stress about paying their own.” — Ron Guhname
“You thought Guantanamo and phone tapping was bad when Bush was president. Here’s Greenwald on Obama’s assassination orders on a US citizen. The target and his family say the charges against him are completely false. But “officials” say he’s guilty. So no need for courts any more. These are probably the same officials that told us about WMD.” — Jon, commenter and friend who blogs at Evangelical Agnosticism
Thousands of consumers are gaming Massachusetts’ 2006 health insurance law by buying insurance when they need to cover pricey medical care, such as fertility treatments and knee surgery, and then swiftly dropping coverage, a practice that insurance executives say is driving up costs for other people and small businesses.
In 2009 alone, 936 people signed up for coverage with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts for three months or less and ran up claims of more than $1,000 per month while in the plan. Their medical spending while insured was more than four times the average for consumers who buy coverage on their own and retain it in a normal fashion, according to data the state’s largest private insurer provided the Globe.
Jaime Escalante, the brilliant public school teacher immortalized in the 1988 film, “Stand and Deliver,” died last week at the age of 79. Cato’s Andrew Coulson writes in the WSJ about what his experience tells us:
In any other field, his methods would have been widely copied. Instead, Escalante’s success was resented. And while the teachers union contract limited class sizes to 35, Escalante could not bring himself to turn students away, packing 50 or more into a room and still helping them to excel. This weakened the union’s bargaining position, so it complained.
By 1990, Escalante was stripped of his chairmanship of the math department he’d painstakingly built up over a decade. Exasperated, he left in 1991, eventually returning to his native Bolivia. Garfield’s math program went into a decline from which it has never recovered. The best tribute America can offer Jaime Escalante is to understand why our education system destroyed rather than amplified his success—and then fix it.
A succinct diagnosis of the problem was offered by President Clinton in 1993 at the launch of philanthropist Walter Annenberg’s $500 million education reform challenge. “People in this room who have devoted their lives to education,” he said, “are constantly plagued by the fact that nearly every problem has been solved by somebody somewhere, and yet we can’t seem to replicate it everywhere else.” Our greatest challenge is to create “a system to somehow take what is working and make it work everywhere.”
The most naïve approach has been to create a critical mass of exemplary “model” schools, imagining that the system would spontaneously reconstitute itself around their example. This was the implicit assumption underlying the Annenberg Challenge and, with donor matching, more than $1 billion was spent on it. As a mechanism for widely disseminating excellence, it failed utterly.
President Obama wants a government program for identifying and disseminating what works. In his blueprint for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act released in March, he proposed the creation of “‘communities of practice’ to share best practices and replicate successful strategies.”
He’s not the first to advocate this approach. The secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education pursued the same idea—in 1837. Horace Mann, father of American public schooling, thought that a centrally planned state education apparatus would reliably identify and bring to scale the best methods and materials in use throughout the system. Despite a century-and-a-half of expansion and centralization, this approach, too, has failed. Without systematic incentives rewarding officials for wise decisions and penalizing them for bad ones, public schooling became a ferris wheel of faddism rather than a propagator of excellence.
“For several decades the most dynamic part of the US economy has been Texas. Rich people, middle-class people, and working class people are voting with their feet and moving to Houston and Dallas and Austin. Whites, blacks and Hispanics are moving to Texas. Not because of oil wealth (Louisiana has even more oil per capita), and not because of climate (California and Florida are more pleasant), but rather because it best epitomizes the US economic model. And they are leaving states with fiscal policies more to the liking of progressives like Yglesias and Krugman. ” — Scott Sumner, professor of economics at Bentley University, discussing a post by Mankiw that Yglesias responded to
“Here’s the $64 dollar question for which I’ve never seen progressives provide a satisfactory answer. Why is per capita GDP in Western Europe so much lower than in the US? Mankiw seems to imply that high tax rates may be one of the reasons. I don’t know if that’s the answer, but if it’s not my hunch is that the factors that would explain the difference are other government policies that the left tends to favor (strong unions, higher minimum wages, more regulation, generous unemployment insurance, etc.) So I think Mankiw is saying that if we adopt the European model, there really isn’t a lot of evidence that we’d end up with any more revenue than we have right now. Further evidence for this hypothesis is that the few developed countries that do have much lower tax rates than the US (Hong Kong and Singapore) now have much higher per capita GDPs (PPP) than Western Europe. Yes, they are small and urban, but Western Europe is full of small countries of about 6 million people that have less than 5% of the population in farming.” — Scott Sumner, professor of economics at Bentley University, discussing a post by Mankiw that Yglesias responded to
“That which Democrats vehemently and with virtual unanimity spent years condemning as a grave assault on our Way of Life — i.e., denying trials to Terrorist suspects and instead sending them to newly created military commissions — is exactly what Robert Gibbs endorsed today as just. Who can possibly defend this?” — Glenn Greenwald