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The Cruz Option

from Kevin Williamson at National Review,  Apartment Fires and Health Insurance

The problem for health insurance is the same as the problem for condominium sprinklers: The benefits are desirable, but they are not free, and many people, given a choice, would spend their money in a different fashion. In the matter of health insurance, Senator Ted Cruz has offered an amendment that would allow insurers to sell relatively low-cost plans that do not cover everything that must be covered under current ACA regulations. Critics, including Senator Susan Collins, have protested that these policies are too “skimpy,” that they do not include all of the coverage and benefits that we might like to see people have. But all the Cruz amendment does is give buyers a choice. The danger isn’t that insurance companies will fail to offer more expensive and comprehensive policies — of course they will offer them; those are more profitable — but that many Americans will prefer less expensive and less comprehensive health-insurance plans.

Restricting the Customer Base

from National Review and Kevin Williamson, Don’t Count On the Growth Fairy

Native birth rates being what they are, this would seem to add up to a case for more immigration, something that neither the populists on the right nor those on the left are very friendly toward. We all know Donald Trump’s views on immigration, but consider that Bernie Sanders campaigned for president arguing that American billionaires are scheming to flood the United States with cheap immigrant labor to undermine the position of the working class. Of course, the reality is more complicated than such campaign crudities, inasmuch as it matters what kind of immigrants we are talking about: Indian oncologists aren’t South African entrepreneurs aren’t English journalists aren’t Mexican day laborers. Much of our current immigration debate is about the wrong question — How many? — rather than the right one: Who?

Is America full, or is America open for business? How we answer that question will mean a great deal more to our future prosperity than debates about presidential budget proposals.

HKO

You can not grow an economy by restricting your customer base.

Self Serving ‘Studies’

From Kevin Williamson at National Review, Magical Thinking about Minimum Wages

When Economics 101 tells you something you don’t want to hear, the thing to do is to commission a study. As Ronald Coase observed: If you torture the day enough, it will confess to almost anything. For progressives desiring to raise the minimum wage in spite of the consequences predicted by basic economics, that study came from two Princeton economists, David Card and Alan Krueger, who in 1994 compared employment at fast-food restaurants in New Jersey to that of their counterparts across the river in Pennsylvania after New Jersey enacted a relatively modest increase in the minimum wage. The Card-Krueger study found that raising the minimum wage had not cost jobs in New Jersey. There were many problems with the study: It used fast-food employment as a proxy for minimum wage even though most fast-food workers do not make the minimum wage; it ignored workers in other industries, such as hospitality, that might have been more strongly affected; it covered a relatively short period of time; it relied on telephone surveys of restaurant managers rather than on hard employment data.

The Card-Krueger study included only a few months’ worth of data from after the time the minimum-wage hike went into effect. Some economists suspected that while fast-food operators were unlikely to simply start hacking away at their staffs in the months following an increase in the minimum wage (which, again, would not affect the wages of most fast-food workers), they would instead change their medium- and long-term plans, choosing less labor-intensive modes of production, substituting capital for labor through automation, reducing hours to make their labor consumption more efficient, etc. And that is, in fact, what subsequent studies found: Restaurants didn’t just start firing people after the minimum wage went up, but the wage hike did significantly reduce future job growth and labor consumption.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, formerly the chief economist at the Labor Department, offered a different criticism: “The regression statistics explain little variance, and practically none of the coefficients are significant. Card and Krueger infer that minimum-wage policy makes no difference. A more likely interpretation is that the equation excludes important variables.” In short, Card and Kruger mistook an absence of evidence of a minimum-wage effect for evidence of the absence of a minimum-wage effect.

HKO

When rational and sound time proven principles are shredded by political self serving ‘studies’, one should seriously question the studies.  Unfortunately the media rarely questions such tripe from over credentialed blowhards and end up looking like fools.

Front Page Pseudoscience

from Matthew Continetti at National Review, They’re Wrong About Everything

The fact is that almost the entirety of what one reads in the paper or on the web is speculation. The writer isn’t telling you what happened, he is offering an interpretation of what happened, or offering a projection of the future. The best scenario is that these theories are novel, compelling, informed, and based on reporting and research. But that is rarely the case. More often the interpretations of current events, and prophesies of future ones, are merely the products of groupthink or dogma or emotions or wish-casting, memos to friends written by 27-year-olds who, in the words of Ben Rhodes, “literally know nothing.” There was a time when newspapers printed astrology columns. They no longer need to. The pseudoscience is on the front page.

Also read The Media Disease….

Laundering Privilege

William Voegeli wrote an important book, Never Enough which I highly recommend.

In National Review he writes Why the Liberal Elite Will Never Check Its Privilege

It turns out that “social justice” amounts to noblesse oblige, simultaneously strengthening the obligations and social status of our meritocracy’s credentialed gentry. Literary scholar William Deresiewicz, a self-described democratic socialist, says that the rise of political correctness means that privilege laundering pervades the entire college experience, not just the admissions process. The ultimate purpose of political correctness, he contends, is to “flatter” the elite rather than dismantle it. In effect, socioeconomically advantaged students, professors, and administrators use political correctness to “alibi or erase their privilege,” to “tell themselves that they are . . . part of the solution to our social ills, not an integral component of the problem.” The social-justice warriors’ stridency belies, even to themselves, the fact that their aims are so limited.

For Reeves and Halikias, the protests that drove Charles Murray from Middlebury College had less to do with alleging and then thwarting racism than with “rich, ‘progressive’ protestors refusing to hear a lecture on the roots of their own privilege.” (The topic of Murray’s speech was to have been the growing gulf between the upper class and the rest of America.) Tellingly, Middlebury is even more selective and affluent than Hamilton College. Tied with Swarthmore as the fourth-highest-rated liberal-arts college in the U.S., Middlebury rejected 83 percent of its applicants in 2015. Fifty-five percent of students received no need-based financial aid, not surprising given that the median family income of those students is $244,300. Only 2.7 percent of its students come from families in the bottom fifth of America’s income distribution, and 24 percent come from the bottom four-fifths. At the other end, 4.4 percent come from the top thousandth, and 23 percent from the top hundredth.

Conservatives are right to be appalled by vituperative social-justice warriors. It’s oddly reassuring, however, that the “No justice, no peace” shock troops are as fraudulent as they are insolent. People’s true beliefs can be revealed by their words or, far more reliably, by their actions. Until kabuki radicalism gets around to requiring privileged students, parents, and colleges to surrender some of their own advantages rather than denounce privilege in general, the social-justice crusade deserves to be regarded with more contempt than alarm.