No And Yes

This appeared on our Facebook feed recently:

Everyone OK with using socialism to clean up after Harvey?  Or should we use the free market.  Just asking for a friend.

The obvious answers are no to the first question and yes to the second.  Here is the funny thing: The quote comes from the US Democratic Socialists page!  Does anyone really think that socialism is effective or could be effective with these kinds of problems?  The WSJ has a nice story on self-organized volunteers.  Does anyone think that capitalism or free markets will not be effective?  We are sure that Mark Perry has something on how folks will try to blunt the market’s ability to get the necessary items to Texas by fixing prices.  Ah, here is one.  If you want effective solutions you need markets.

Or is it that the socialists what Texas to suffer?

Hide The Facts!

Michael Barone takes issue with William Saletan’s ideas on manipulating people by hiding facts at the Weekly Standard.  Michael asks:

Should accurate facts be suppressed because stating them will “do a lot of harm”? Yes, writes the thoughtful William Saletan in The Weekly Standard, if the facts are about “racial differences on intelligence tests.”

Michael, appropriately, takes issue with William but he kindly identifies him as thoughtful.  Michael is full of kindness.  In that way it is similar to the memo James Damore wrote.  We expect the same response.  First, Michael says:

[William] seems to assume that if you just don’t write about the well-documented racial differences on intelligence tests, people won’t know they exist. This is just nonsense.

Nonsense is being kind.

[William’s] second assumption is that if people, even smart people, do somehow manage to learn this inconvenient fact, they’re necessarily going to use it to judge individuals. That they’re going to assume that everyone scores about the same as their group’s average, or that no member of the group scores above it.

And I think that’s just wrong too.

It doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter if smart people make the wrong judgments.  It doesn’t matter if average people make the wrong judgments.  It doesn’t matter if stupid people make the wrong judgments.  It doesn’t matter if people with with poor math skills make bad judgments.  It doesn’t matter if Neo-Nazis or Antifa members make bad judgments.  It doesn’t matter that some folks are going to make judgments on their own.  Once you start thinking your responsibility is to hide evidence from the public then you start to do all sorts of weird things and lose your standing.  A general example is the the problems of MSM.  A specific example is William.  You now know that he thinks it is his duty to hide the facts from fools like us.

Michael concludes with the real problem:

What it does undermine is the case for racial quotas and preferences. That case relies on the notion, as I put it at the beginning of my Washington Examinercolumn on Damore’s firing, that “a fair society [would] have exactly the same percentage of men and women, of whites and blacks and Hispanics and Asians, in every line of work and occupational category” and “that any divergence from these percentages must necessarily result from oppression.” That’s nonsense, in my view, and ordinary people are not racists or sexists to reject it.

Yup, that would be the only reason to try to obscure the facts.  And, as Michael kindly says, it is nonsense.

Free Trade II

In the last post we were saying that the benefits of free trade were widespread and the costs were narrow.  We said that the government needed to be part of the solution as tariffs are reduced.  Mark Perry comments on and links to a paper by Scott Lincicome, Doomed To Repeat The Long History Of America’s Protectionist Failures, that quantifies the opportunity to benefit all involved.  Scott concludes:

These surveys show that, contrary to the fashionable rhetoric, American protectionism has repeatedly failed as an economic strategy.

Scott reviews the previous research and shows us the exorbitant costs of protectionism.  Here is Table 7:

So, there is an enormous opportunity for government to find a solution other than higher tariffs.  There is also an enormous opportunity to reduce or eliminate tariffs and provide net benefits.  As we said government should not be the whole solution to change but it can be part of it.  Eliminating tariffs is the best solution.  Not increasing tariffs is the minimum we can expect of responsible government.  Finding useful ways to facilitate change that will happen should be part of responsible government.

 

Free Trade

George Will is at his best on NRO touting the benefits of free trade.  And it gives him time for his favorite pastime of skewering The Donald.  We agree with George on this  one that The Donald is absolutely wrong on trade.  The MWG position is unilateral free trade.  The USA should eliminate all tariffs.  We would be willing to phase them out rather than require that they be eliminated immediately.

Do read it all but here are some juicy quotes.

Paul Samuelson, a leading 20th-century economist, cited this doctrine [free trade] when challenged to name a social-science proposition that is both true and not obvious.

We might argue that it is obvious that raising taxes is a bad idea but the behavior of individuals seems to argue for Paul’s position.

Foreigners, however, have their uses. After [The Donald] trumpeted that the Dow surpassing the 22,000 mark was evidence of America’s resurgent greatness, the Wall Street Journal rather impertinently noted this: Boeing, whose shares have gained 50 percent this year and which accounted for 563 of the more than 2,000 points the Dow had gained this year en route to 22,000, makes about 60 percent of its sales overseas. Boeing has a backlog of orders for 5,705 planes, 75 percent going outside North America. For Apple, the second-biggest contributor (283 points) to this year’s Dow gain at that point, foreign sales are two-thirds of its total sales. Foreign sales are also two-thirds of the sales of McDonald’s, the third-biggest contributor (239 points).

What serious folks should be thinking about is how do we cut tariffs and how do we facilitate the market so that the small percentage of folks that suffer can adjust to the changes.  The political problem is that the benefits are widespread while the costs are not.  One part of this solution might be to tax the large percentage of folks that benefit from trade.  Another part would be incentives to change.  A third part would be encouragement.  In addition to “Made In America” events at the White House there could be “Change In America” events.  The government should be part, perhaps only a small part, of the solution so we can capture the large benefits of free trade and absorb the small costs.

 

Too Slow And Too Good

We are too slow and Elliot Kaufman and Mike Rowe are too good.  Elliot discusses a NYT article while Mike shows that you can fight the mob and still maintain your independence.  Elliot quotes the NYT article gushes:

[A] surprising group of Americans is testing its moral voice more forcefully than ever: C.E.O.s.

Next Elliot tells us about the young adult site:

Vox upped the ante, explaining: “After Charlottesville, CEOs have become our public conscience.”

Of course, this is just appeasement.  The CEOs are hoping that the leftist crocodile eats them last.  Elliot explains:

The New York Times was right, in a sense. “The C.E.O.s had found their voice,” concluded their fawning article. But top-flight executives are not pre-teen girls who have finally mustered up the confidence to speak; they are savvy representatives of their shareholders’ interests. ESPN, like all the Fortune 500 companies that leapt to boycott or threaten Indiana and North Carolina over their religious-liberty and transgender-bathroom laws, knew that the safest thing they could do was to get out ahead of a left-wing mob.

Do read all of it.

It is the opposite of courage to give into the mob.  Business folk, particularly CEOs, are working for their shareholders.  It is a reasonable business judgment that it is in their shareholders’ interest to submit to the mob and is a moral judgment in the sense of serving their shareholders but VOX is exactly wrong to call the CEOs public conscience.   This is a private and perhaps profitable choice like paying protection to a different mob.

Sidebar: It is an interesting aspect of politics that the left supports CEOs when they do exactly the opposite of what the left wants.  The left wants CEOs, somehow, to work for the public rather than profits of their company.  In this case the CEOs are working to increase their profits but the left is happy.  The left is not the only side to confuse short-term gains with principles.  End Sidebar.

Mike, on the other hand, wants to combat the mob without taking political sides.  We agree.  We would describe it as the fight against violent socialism.  It doesn’t matter if it is the national socialists (Nazis) or world socialists, often, without intentional irony, called Antifa.  The important word is violent.  Here is how Mike takes issue with a commenter that calls him anti-intellectual and tries to associate him with the Nazis.  He does this without (entirely) taking a political side:

mikeroweWORKS is a PR campaign for the skilled trades. For the last nine years, we’ve partnered with numerous trade schools, raised millions of dollars for work-ethic scholarships, and called attention to millions of jobs that don’t require a four-year degree. But that doesn’t mean we’re “anti-intellectual.” We’re not even “anti-college.” We simply reject the popular notion that a four-year degree is the best path for the most people. And we’re hardly alone.

Millions of reasonable people – Republicans and Democrats alike – are worried that our universities are doing a poor job of preparing students for the real world. They’re worried about activist professors [R], safe spaces [R], the rising cost of tuition [R&D], a growing contempt for history [R], and a simmering disregard of the first amendment [R]. These people are concerned that our universities – once beacons of free speech – now pander to a relatively small percentage of students who can’t tolerate any political opinion that challenges their own. And they’re concerned – deeply concerned – that millions of good jobs are currently vacant that don’t require a four-year degree, or any of the catastrophic debt that comes with it. [R & D added]

We’ve put R for Republican and D for Democrat on Mike’s list of what reasonable people think.  Of course, Mike’s response is being lapped up by conservative sites like TheBlaze, The Daily Caller, and Fox News because conservatives like the list above, are generally pro-capitalism, and and are anti-violence.  As Mike shows, the CEOs could have done better.

Enough Never Trump

We love Kevin Williamson, Jonah Goldberg is often entertaining, and David French writes but the NRO Never Trump Brigade needs to find a new song.  Today it is Kevin’s turn to salt the soil:

Some of the smarter right-wing talking mouths on cable news have already developed aggressive amnesia regarding their own complicity in Trump’s rise, and it is likely that many will follow. The line of argument will be: “Hey, I was a big Ted Cruz supporter, really, but, after the primary, it was Trump or Hillary.” Some people will need reminding of what they said and did.

To be fair to Kevin, he is against impeaching The Donald.  To be fair to us, we were for anyone but The Donald in the primary.  Like many, we were not a big Ted Cruz supporter but we voted for him in the primary because he was better than The Donald.  In the general election our first choice was Mitt’s second term but that wasn’t on the ballot.  The choice, and it was a binary one, was between The Donald and Herself.  We, and the country, made the right choice and voted for The Donald.

NRO deserves some credit for The Donald’s rise.  They were steadfastly against The Donald but tried to beat somebody (The Donald) with nobody for most of the primary season.  They, like many others, underestimated The Donald until it was too late and then nothing worked.

Many of The Donald’s supporters main concern was illegal immigration.  There has not been a legislative solution but there has been a change:

Illegal immigration across the southwest border is down more than 60 percent so far under President Trump, officials revealed Tuesday, even before the first new agent is hired or the first mile of his promised border wall is constructed.

Those supporters have gotten what they wanted.

It was a binary choice in November.  There were many folks that reluctantly supported The Donald.  It was the right choice.  If the Never Trump Brigade didn’t support The Donald in November then they were wrong.  They don’t need to admit it but the Never Trump Brigade needs to stop emulating The Donald.  Write less silly stuff.  Instead let us talk of serious things.

MSM And James Damore

The Guardian reports that James Damore is considering legal action against Google.  James was fired because he suggested alternative diversity actions that Google did not want to consider or discuss.  Below we have taken the first two paragraphs of the article and made comments in bold with [].

The computer engineer fired by Google
[A good start] 
for suggesting women are less suited to certain roles in tech and leadership
[Nope. It is about overlapping distributions with different means.  He does say that the percentages by gender and race can be different because of mean differences.]
is considering taking legal action against the company.
[That’s what they report]
James Damore, a chess master who studied at Harvard, Princeton and MIT and worked at the search engine’s Mountain View HQ in California,
[We didn’t look these things up but we accept them]
caused outrage
[Boy did he ever!]
when he circulated a manifesto
[Well, yes it is a written statement by James outlining his views.  We see manifesto as akin to fascist in terms of its negative connotation.]
at the weekend complaining about Google’s “ideological echo chamber”
[Yup.  The evidence, his firing, confirms he was right.]
and claiming women have lower tolerance of stress
[The whole point of his memo was that populations can have different means but substantial overlap.  James said that women, on average have more openness, extraversion, and neuroticism.  The latter causes them, on average, to have higher levels of anxiety.]
and that conservatives are more conscientious.
[Don’t worry he said lots of negative things about conservatives.  What he did actually say (p. 8) is that Google should stop alienating conservatives because viewpoint diversity is arguably the most important, conservatives need to express themselves, and conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness, part of the Five Factor model that James uses elsewhere.]

It seems to us that The Guardian missed the most pro-conservative point in the memo when James went the full George Will and said that viewpoint diversity is (arguably, he hedged) the most important.  Every progressive should be aghast at that statement but we have not seen mention of it.

James, we predict, will get enough money from Google that he doesn’t need to sue The Guardian.  Of course, his relationship with the paper is different than with Google so his opportunity is not as great but they are clearly part of the echo chamber he wants to have a discussion with.  It is unfortunate that they do not want to have a discussion with him.

 

Bad Rhetoric

Nicole Gelinas is taking aim at James Damore’s argument over at NRO.  She says that James has a right to his opinion but he is wrong:

[Google] claims to encourage internal dissent and debate, and that is what Damore provided. But the contents of his memo are nothing to celebrate: He said nothing that hasn’t already been said, in tiresome fashion, for decades.

Nicole then does what she accuses James of without even a change of paragraph:

Damore, like any novice rhetorician, relies on straw men. He is concerned that in aiming for perfectly equality of the sexes, Google will deplete its financial resources and become less competitive. Google’s tech workers, however, are 80 percent male, and its leadership is 75 percent male. If the company is indeed striving for numerical equality, it is a long way from the danger zone.

She actually does it right in the title: Biology Is Not Destiny.  Nowhere does James make such a claim.  Means are different.  Does Nicole think that the 39 percent Asian-American tech force at Google (her stat) is the result of bias?  The are two differences.  The first is that nobody can accuse Nicole of being an novice rhetorician.  The second is that James is explicit about using the extreme case.

Google has been emphasizing diversity for quite a period and spend lots of money without moving the needle.  Biology is not destiny.  But sexes and races can and do have different means.  Yes, John McEnroe is roughly right about Serena Williams.  If you don’t accept that you end up like universities.  You may remember that the provost at American University denied tenure to Carolyn Brown, who identifies as hispanic, because of her Student Evaluation of Instruction (SEI) scores.  More important for our discussion are the diversity reactions like her chair (well, actually director but it sounds like a chair):

But [John] Watson warned that scholars of her stature, particularly scholars of color, get offers to go elsewhere fast.

“It’ll be a yearlong process to replace her,” he said. “The likelihood we’ll get another woman who is a minority is a tick above zero.”

We understand John’s attitude.  Leadership, including the provost is all over him to get diverse faculty members but then the provost fires Carolyn.  All of the department’s work has gone for naught.  If you asked is there a separate market for diverse faculty the answer would be yes.  The prices are higher because the completion is intense.  Or Carolyn’s reaction:

“They used me as a face of diversity,” Brown said, “and when I went up for tenure, they threw me away. It’s really disappointing. I’m still kind of devastated.”

You can’t fire me because I add the diversity that you crave.  We interviewed for a chair position at another school.  Part of the interview was to meet each of the faculty individually.  One meeting was real short because the faculty member said that her diversity status made her untouchable.  She may have been right.

Nicole is wrong.  The outcome of Google is not going to be a few yoga classes.  Question: does Nicole want to exclude men from those classes?  Google has already spent years and many millions on this.  If they want to meet their goals they will move further towards the university model with different hiring standards and different retention standards depending upon your diversity value.  If you want diversity you can get it because universities do but the cost is high.

 

 

Binary Still

The Morning Jolt is discussing Conrad Black’s polemic when Jim says:

Maybe you saw Election Day 2016 as that strict binary choice. But we’re past Election Day. It’s time to stop measuring Trump merely as an alternative to Hillary and to start measuring him on his own merits. [Emphasis added]

Maybe?  The 2016 presidential election was a binary choice.  It still is.

Sidebar: Has Conrad ever written something that is not a polemic?  We enjoy him but  he can’t help recycle the same material: Nixon and FDR were great presidents and the US justice system.  This time Conrad says the Never Trump group has defected from being conservative Republicans.  It is a wonderful turn of phrase designed to infuriate his friends.  End Sidebar.

Moreover, comparisons, this time not binary, are how we measure presidents.  Reagan isn’t a great president because he batted 1.000.  He didn’t and no president is anywhere close to that mark.  Instead we compare presidents.  We need to criticize The Donald when appropriate but recognize the road ahead.

The 2020 presidential race is not yet a binary choice. If The Donald runs for the GOP next time is there anyone in the current crop of Democrats that you prefer?  We are not suggesting that you become a shill for The Donald but that you remember that there will be binary choices in the future.  So, yes, The Donald is still the [superior] alternative to Herself.

 

Diversity Again

Mike Wilbon is upset about an election.  No, not that one.  Tiger Woods was left off the list of 50 greatest black athletes as voted on Survey Monkey.  Tiger’s greatness is not in question.  Tiger, Jack, and Bobby are the three greatest golfers.  We will wait while you decide the order.

OK.  Mike says, “But it ain’t a credible list of the greatest [black athletes] if it doesn’t include Tiger.” We agree on greatness so Mike has decided that Tiger is black.  It is a binary choice and we would vote the other way unless given criteria.  Tiger, as Mike says, calls himself “Cablinasian.”  It means he is multiethnic.  Since he is half asian then he is less than half black and we would think that (at least half) would be the criteria.  If you go by the old Jim Crow criteria of one drop then he should be on the list.  Tiger surely is the greatest asian golfer of all time.

The good news is that many of the challenges of diversity will go away as folks become more multiethnic.  It can’t happen too soon.