Monday, August 3, 2020

Virtue Goes Clinically Insane

How bad is it out there? Really, really bad, if you will. Alas, I have just read a column by Lance Morrow. He distinguishes himself by being about as pessimistic as I am about the current state of America. He compares it to the McCarthy Era, but concludes that today’s cancel culture is effectively worse.

He describes it as “virtue gone clinically insane.” And hysterical. While the psycho world no longer calls people hysterics, it has replaced it with histrionic personality disorder. Which is about the same thing.

The country’s myriad cancelers emit the odor not of sanctity but of sanctimony, and of something more ominous: the whiff of a society decomposing.

What’s happening on the American left—with surreal rapidity, like the fall of France in 1940—is sinister. Wokeness and the cancel culture represent not idealism but virtue gone clinically insane. Look up the word hysteria: “a psychological disorder whose symptoms include . . . shallow, volatile emotions, and overdramatic or attention-seeking behavior.”

Woke young people are living in a dream. They have detached from reality because they do not know enough to deal with reality. They have received an appallingly bad education and they only know how to destroy what others have built.

Morrow continues:

The indignant woke, who imagine themselves to be righteously awake and laying the foundations for a more just and humane world, ought to pause—to draw back for a moment, and consider the possibility that they are, as it were, fast asleep, caught up in strange, agitated dreams: that they have become a mass joined in a cult of self-righteousness, moral vanity and privilege. One of these days, they will have to be deprogrammed and led back to the real world. Woke institutions will need to be fumigated.

Today's woke youth have two principle obsessions: race and sex. They do not understand that sex differences are one of the basis organizing principles for society. And they do not understand that America has been trying for half a century now to engineer a color blind society. How is that working out?

The woke are especially obsessed with two areas—sex and race. In their dream, nature’s basic working arrangement—sex, male and female, the business of procreation that ensures the survival of the species—dissolves in a frolicsome alphabet soup of identities; human meaning works itself out not in the mind, not in thought or art, but in the territory that lies south of the navel, in restless genital experiments. Men become women on their own say-so, and may bear children, if they choose: Death to the one who denies it! Even pronouns have become narcissistically discretionary.

The media has devoted itself to promulgating a big lie-- namely, that the protests have been largely peaceful, except when they were not.

As for race: In the eyes of the woke—and in most media accounts—this summer’s eruptions (protests, demonstrations, riots, precinct-house occupations, and the “summer of love” in Seattle’s “occupied protest”) have been “overwhelmingly peaceful.” It’s not really true, but the woke are addicted to the meme of their own harmlessness, and so they will it into truth. Destruction, in fact, has been extensive—and inexcusable. Those hardest hit have been residents and shopkeepers in black and other minority neighborhoods that are left in the wreckage after those who did the damage—among them many white anarchists and antifa people—have gone back to their parents’ basements.

What do we need? How about: adult authority. Yes, I know, the American left and the American right are up in arms against authority. One wonders whether they are willing to measure the cost of disrespect in the fact that the looters and rioters are engaged in flagrantly disrespectful assaults on the authority of the police, on civil authority. And do they care that children in our school system no longer respect the authority of their teachers, and thus cannot learn?

What can be done? The gravest casualty of the 1960s was adult authority, which vanished from the land around the time of 1968’s Tet Offensive. Ronald Reagan provided an apparition of authority for a while, but then Bill Clinton, frisking with an intern, restored the adolescent model. The best remedy for the cancel culture would be resistance by strong adult leaders—university presidents, newspaper publishers, heads of corporations and so on—capable of standing up to Twitter. But the odds are against such a miracle. The woke, like hyenas, hunt in packs, and those in authority are craven.

How’s that for bleak?

Cancel Elon Musk?

Yesterday, a SpaceX rocket capsule, carrying two astronauts splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico. Owner Elon Musk was elated, as were many Americans. 

And yet, Musk created some serious controversy when he lit out against American complacency a few days ago. Speaking on the “Daily Drive” podcast Musk called out the citizens on America’s coasts for their indolence, their complacency and their sense of entitlement. 

After all, he is building a new Tesla plant in Austin, Texas and is building another plant in Shanghai. So he was explaining why he wants to reduce manufacturing on the coasts.

In his words:

… I see in the United States increasingly much more complacency and entitlement especially in places like the Bay Area, and L.A. and New York.”

America’s problem, Musk continues, is that it no longer knows how to win.Where have we heard that before?

He then compared the U.S. to losing sports teams: “When you’ve been winning for too long you sort of take things for granted. The United States, and especially like California and New York, you’ve been winning for too long. When you’ve been winning too long you take things for granted. So, just like some pro sports team they win a championship you know a bunch of times in a row, they get complacent and they start losing.”

You would think that these remarks were a simple observation of the state of culture of deep blue America. But, you would be wrong. The Zero Hedge blog read these remarks and practically accused Musk of treason. Keep in mind, this is a conservative or libertarian blog, one that has at times been blocked by Twitter. We often have occasion to link its articles.

So, what did Musk do to incite the ire of Zero Hedge. Why, he made a couple of positive observations about Chinese workers. You would think that it is a reason to get him canceled.

Zero Hedge reports:

On the podcast, reported by CNBC, he called the people of China “smart” and “hard working” while at the same time calling U.S. citizens "entitled" and "complacent". 

As though that were not bad enough Musk went on to praise the cultural environment in China:

When asked about China as an EV strategy leader worldwide, Musk responded:  “China rocks in my opinion. The energy in China is great. People there – there’s like a lot of smart, hard working people. And they’re really -- they’re not entitled, they’re not complacent,

Musk’s advice, roundly rejected by Zero Hedge, is that American manufacturers should worry less about marketing and public relations. They should work to engineer better products. Zero Hedge dismisses Musk’s advice, on the grounds that bumpers are falling off Tesla Model 3s, at this very moment.

Musk then, seemingly unaware that bumpers are falling off of Model 3s as we speak, encouraged entrepreneurs to "focus on the product" when making something new: “My advice, you know, to corporate America or companies worldwide is spend less time on marketing presentations and more time on your product. Honestly that should be the number one thing taught in business schools. Put down that spreadsheet and that PowerPoint presentation and go and make your product better.”

The problem is, Musk is probably right. True enough, we have a more diverse workforce. And our workforce seems to think that marketing and PR are the way to go-- after all, isn’t it all about manipulating minds? In order to engineer better manufacturing you need armies of engineers. And America does not have armies of engineers. It has armies of social justice warriors, lawyers and bureaucrats. 

The shocking point is that Zero Hedge, in full Cold War mode, dismisses some sane advice, from someone who has some skin in the manufacturing game, because saying anything good about China these days should get you canceled, and tried for treason. Or maybe the blog is a stealth supporter of California politics and wants to punish Musk for moving Tesla manufacturing to... Texas. OMG.

So, don’t think that cancel culture is limited to the radical left.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Treating Women as Body Parts

Once upon a time, in the halcyon early days of feminism, liberated women insisted that they wanted to be respected for their minds, not for their body parts. Obviously, this predated the time when women donned adornments they called pussy hats and marched behind the leadership of virulent anti-Semites. 

And now, thanks to the ambient madness about transgenderism, the American Cancer Society, surely not a member of the vast left wing conspiracy, has taken to reducing women to their body parts. It has banned the word “woman” and replaced it with: individual with a cervix.

Monica Showalter expresses her outrage:

Suddenly, women are being reduced to body parts, commodified, based on the strange contortions of recognizing men with body dysmorphia as actual women, and vice versa. To accomodate this small group of people, women are being reduced to spare parts.

It’s dehumanizing, don’t you see:

To reduce women to body parts is absolutely dehumanizing - it's what the porno industry does, it's what butcher shops (which serve legitimate human needs) do. But now the medical industry is doing the same thing, reducing women to body parts as if they carried these parts around with them by choice in suitcases.

The very word 'woman' now has to be broken down into body part functions when in fact, all the characteristics that amount to being a woman or being a man are entirely integral to one's personhood. It goes right down into the DNA and chromosomes, XX for women, XY for men. No transgender surgery can change that, and it would be insane to treat someone medically as if they held the opposite configuration.

Of course, she’s right. If the human body contains some 4 trillion chromosomes, all of which are typed either XX or XY, changing your mind, even changing your pronouns has absolutely no effect on them. 

Showalter predicts a bleak future for women-- at least for those who accede to this madness. One hopes that sensible feminists will call halt to this ideologically driven insanity:

What's bad here is that this won't be the end of it. If women can be reduced to body parts, it's only a matter of time before more commodification happens. Body parts will eventually become like property, and perhaps bought and sold. And if bought and sold is the norm, then graded by quality - USDA choice, as commodities are. After that, they could also be stolen, or expropriated. Just as disgusting, a woman who's had a double masectomy could easily be classified as 'not a woman,' since women are now being defined by parts.

Who Will Bail Out New York?

Like most blue states New York is going broke. It probably is broke already, but don’t tell anyone. As Francis Menton explains in an excellent post on his Manhattan Contrarian blog, the truth is, New York needs a federal bailout.

All the negotiations about coronavirus relief will eventually boil down to the Democrats desire to bail out blue states. If you want to know why it is so vitally important that Joe Biden assume the presidency come this January, the reason is: blue states are about to fall into an abyss. Only the federal government can save them. That means: the citizens of fiscally responsible states.

Menton’s analysis is worth your attention:

The blue state progressive political model consists of an endless list of government spending and redistribution programs, expected shortly to deliver perfect fairness and justice among all people, all financed by an assumed ever-increasing gusher of tax revenues. Then along comes the coronavirus: the productive economy gets intentionally suppressed, tax revenues plummet, and then what? Are we now expected to cut back on the government programs so recently touted as the sine qua non of human moral advancement? Worse, are public servants — those selfless individuals giving their lives to the righteous cause of human advancement through government spending — now to be laid off? Or have their pay or benefits reduced?

All of the blue states are currently facing this circumstance to greater or lesser degree, but none more so than my home state of New York. A June Report from researchers at Arizona State and Old Dominion Universities, cited at Bloomberg here, projected an annualized average decline in tax revenues among the states of 20%, but with New York leading all states with a projected 40% decline in tax revenues. Even if the decline turns out to be well less than the 40%, we’re still talking about a large part of the support for most-expensive-in-the-nation spending programs in areas like Medicaid, housing, and K-12 education. What’s the plan, Governor Cuomo?

The virus has been a catastrophe for these states, especially New York. And that’s not even considering the numbers of people that Gov. Cuomo consigned to an early death by sending coronavirus patients to nursing homes.

Menton concludes:

Good New Yorker that he is, Cuomo’s brain is just incapable of contemplating substantial cuts to state spending or the state workforce, even in areas like Medicaid and K-12 education where our state spends double or more per capita the average of the other states. Nor are meaningful tax increases really an option — we’ve basically already maxed out on the potential for squeezing big money out of a handful of the richest citizens. So there’s really only one option: the federal government just has to step up and pay our bills.

Homeless Encampments in New York City

In French there’s a useful phrase that now pops into mind-- il ne manquait que cela. Roughly it translates: it’s all that was missing. One might add: to complete the picture.

Today the picture is New York City’s decline. What with the rising crime rate and the empty office buildings, what with the diminishing tax base and the political ineptitude, what with addicts taking over streets and churches, the only that that was missing was homeless encampments.

After all, we follow the splendid example of the great cities on our west coast, so we are happy to welcome homeless encampments into our midst. Like mayors of west coast cities, New York’s mayor, comrade de Blasio is against homeless encampments. And he even sends an occasional team around to break them up. 

This being New York, no one takes him seriously. Once an encampment is shut down another one pops up to take its place.

The New York Post  has the story:

With the pandemic emptying out the city’s streets, and the NYPD focused elsewhere, foul and filthy homeless encampments are popping up across the city — exposing the impotence of the vast social-service system that’s supposed to prevent such horrors.

One shantytown sprawls under the FDR Drive in lower Manhattan, stretching south from Catherine Slip to Pier 11, in what one resident called “a scene out of a zombie movie.”

Security guard Jesse Alberio, 56, who lives nearby, says, “It gets real intimidating! I won’t come out here at night,” adding that some of the vagrants sneak into his building “and s - - t in the stairwells.”

And they’re stubborn. Sanitation workers last Sunday rooted out an East Village camp on Second Avenue between Seventh and Eighth streets — but the “residents” were back in under a day.

Locals say the “campers” just went across the street, waited under the marquee of the Orpheum Theater, then returned once the city workers left.

It’s not quite the same thing as listening to some whiny adolescent complaining about someone’s use of the wrong pronoun, but still:

And yet the shantytowns remain (or return after a brief pause), making New Yorkers feel unsafe in their own homes and ’hoods.

City and city-paid nonprofit workers either can’t or won’t do what’s needed. As long as the mayor refuses to see that tough love is the only answer, “zero tolerance” will continue to look more like “throw-up-your-hands acceptance.”

It’s the Big Apple-- for now. 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Every Child Left Behind

The Babylon Bee has uncovered a new national cause. They call it: Every Child Left Behind. Naturally, it is being led by the teachers’ unions.

Here’s the story:

U.S.—Teachers who have been enjoying the extended time off due to COVID concerns are eager for it to continue. Desperate to avoid returning to the classroom in the fall while still getting paid for it, teachers have come together to launch an “Every Child Left Behind” movement.

Citing concerns of possible exposure to the virus, teachers have expressed that they will not be returning until their safety can be guaranteed. They also do not want to be bothered by teaching online, either. “We don’t want some kids falling behind and other, more privileged kids learning online.” said Director of Education Susan Birchfield, “No! We say all kids should have their education equally hindered.” 

“My greatest joy in life is teaching my wonderful, little angels, but if I can not go to work and still get paid then see ya later, snot-nosed brats!” said 2019 teacher of the year Kathy Frazzelbum as she floated by in her pool tube while sipping a piƱa colada.

“Kids have their entire lives to learn. It’s not like these are formative years that could leave their education stunted and trailing behind the rest of the world,” explained teacher’s union founder Trish McDonald.

Teachers across the nation expressed their utmost thanks to the taxpayers and assured them that this was money well spent. “I am much more productive as a teacher thanks to the Every Child Left Behind movement. Now I can go run errands as I please and instead of grading papers I can binge Netflix!”

At publishing time, the teacher’s union was planning a series of strikes to continue the Every Child Left Behind movement until a cure for all sickness and death was found.

Why Does Twitter Foment Anti-Semitism?

How stupid do you have to be to work for Twitter? How stupid does Twitter imagine that people really are?

So, while no one was paying attention a Twitter spokeswoman was testifying before the Israeli Knesset last week. The question was: why does Twitter block access to tweets by President Trump but while allowing tweets by the Iranian Supreme Leader-- which promote genocide?

The New York Post reported:

A Twitter spokeswoman has defended the company’s decision to block and restrict tweets from President Trump but not those of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei which call for genocide of the Israeli people.

The reason? Because the Iranian dictator’s tweets pass as “commentary on political issues of the day” while Trump’s could “inspire harm,” Twitter claims.

During a hearing in front of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament in Jerusalem, lawmakers grilled a Twitter representative over why the platform was policing missives from Trump, but not other world leaders such as Khamenei calling Israel “a cancerous growth.”

“You have recently started flagging the tweets of President Trump. Why have you not flagged the tweets of Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who has literally called for the genocide of Israel and the Jewish people?” asked Arsen Ostrovsk, a human rights lawyer and member of the Israeli Jewish Congress.

“We have an approach to world leaders that presently say that direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on political issues of the day, or foreign policy saber-rattling on military and economic issues are generally not in violation of our Twitter rules,” the spokeswoman responded.

Stunned lawmaker Michal Cotler-Wunsh interrupted: “So calling for genocide is OK?”

“Calling for genocide on Twitter is OK, but commenting on political situations in certain countries is not OK?” she continued.

Got it? Calling for genocide would not inspire harm.

Naturally, the American press, given its current predilections, has ignored the story:

A clip of the exchange was shared on Twitter on Wednesday by former acting director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell who wrote: “This should be something the US media reports. Wow.”

Iran’s leader has repeatedly shared tweets calling Israel a “deadly, cancerous growth” to be “uprooted and destroyed” — all going unchecked by Twitter.

“The long-lasting virus of Zionism will be uprooted thanks to the determination and faith of the youth,” Khamenei wrote as recently as May.

The Twitter spokeswoman worked herself in a knot as she refused to answer why the platform had begun restricting the president’s tweets, but not Khamenei’s — leading to accusations of “double standards.”

“If a world leader violates our rules, but it is a clear interest in keeping that up on the servers, we may place it behind a notice that provides some more context about the violation,” the Twitter rep said.

“That it has happened for the Trump tweet, that tweet was violating our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line of that tweet and the risk that it could possibly inspire harm and similar actions,” she continued.

In May, Twitter placed a “public interest notice” on the president’s tweet amid violence in Minneapolis which read: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” leading to accusations of censorship and political bias.

Simply put, anti-Semitism is OK. Calling for genocide of Jews is OK. Being pro-Israeli is evidently not OK. Whatever the rationale, we know which side they are on. 

Attack on New York's Billionaires

It couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of Democrats. Billionaire New York Democrats might have imagined that their staunch support of Democratic candidates, like Andrew Cuomo, would ensure that they would be spared the inconvenience that the current insurrection has visited on those of lesser means. They have just discovered that protection money does not go as far as it used to. (via Zero Hedge)

Not so fast, bunky. In truth, the recent wave of protests has even reached the Hamptons, where a group of peasants with pitchforks protested outside the summer homes of billionaires.They are militating in favor of a billionaire’s tax, a tax on immense wealth. As you know Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the source of monumentally stupid ideas, has been promoting it.

Over 200 protesters wielding pitchforks marched through the Hamptons Thursday to demand that Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) slap billionaires with a wealth tax.

According to Business Insider, the group - organized by a coalition of activist groups including New York Communities for Change, a homeless advocacy organization, and News Guild (CWA) marched throughout the ultra-wealthy vacation town. Stops included the homes of several billionaires, including investor Daniel Loeb, real-estate developer Steven Roth and Hudson Yards developer Steven Ross - all Cuomo donors, according to the report (citing The Guardian).

It would have not have been complete if it did not have a leftist politician advocating to keep poor children stupid. How would he want to do so? By shutting down charter schools.

The protesters were joined by State Senatorial candidate Jabari Brisport, who said outside of Loeb's East Hampton mansion "If there is one thing that makes me more mad than billionaires, it's billionaires like Dan Loeb that push and advocate for charter schools," adding "I'm sick of the attacks on our public school children, and I'm sick of people like this donating to Andrew Cuomo so he can sit there in Albany twiddling his thumbs about how to deal with this budget deficit."

As of now New York state has 118 billionaires. Gov. Cuomo has declared that if they institute such a tax, the billionaires will all leave New York. Already, I suspect that many of them are seeing the writing on the wall. They did not get that rich by being stupid.

If Black Minds Mattered....

If Black Minds Mattered we would all follow the advice offered by the Economic Prism blog (via Zero Hedge):

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, math scores of U.S. students rank 30th in the world.  The East Asian peers of today’s American students will eat their lunch in the growth industries of tomorrow.

Here’s where Black Lives Matter has a real opportunity.

The protests.  The riots.  The calls for reparation payments.  Social justice wealth transfers.  White privilege taxes.  All the nonsense.  Where’s the strategy?  Where’s the long-range ‘strategery’?

No doubt, those selling BLM T-shirts in Walmart parking lots are exercising gumption.  But it’s not gonna cut it.  Moreover, like bingo winnings, reparation payments will be quickly squandered while the unhappiness remains.

Here at the Economic Prism we hesitate to offer advice.  We don’t know the answers.  We hardly know the questions.  But we do observe, contemplate, and reflect…

And as far as we can tell the BLM movement is empty of ideas and without direction.  

Hence, from a place of modesty, we offer an immodest suggestion:

If BLM was strategic they’d be fighting for school vouchers to start pumping out semiconductor engineers 10 to 12 years from now.

Within half a generation they could take a significant role in driving America’s much needed productivity miracle.  Apathy would be replaced with dignity. 

The politics of race, class, identity would be vanquished.

Certainly, it would take hard work and relentless perseverance.  Yet it’s within reach…for those willing to take a grab at it.

Bottom-line, performance is the only measure.  Professional sports has shown that the best performers make the big bucks, regardless of race.  Why not become top performers in a high-paying growth industry?

This is an industry where America’s up and coming generation has fallen a step behind its global competitors.  There’s a need.  There’s demand.

You can thank us in 2030.

Excellent idea-- destined to be quickly forgotten.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Auf Wiedersehen, Angela

Call me naive. Call me uninformed. But, for the life of me I do not understand why the foreign policy establishment, both left and right, is up in arms at the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw some troops from Germany.

Precisely why should the American taxpayer pay for something that the German government does not want to pay for. Most Western European countries are freeloading on American defense capabilities, and a step away from their dependance does not seem to be a bad thing. 

At a time when Germany wants to become dependent on Russia for natural gas supplies, why should America pretend that Germany is a staunch ally. At a time when Germany continues to support Iran and the Iran nuclear deal, why should we treat them as an ally. No one ever mentions the simple fact, namely, that if a nation wants to be treated like an ally it should act like an ally.

At a time when the German military cannot train with tanks, because it has no tanks, why should American soldiers bear the burden?

Since we are only talking about 12,000 troops, and while that still leaves around twice that number behind, how does it happen that the foreign policy establishment is going apocalyptic.

Caitlin Johnstone gathers together some of the hyperbolic rhetoric:

“Trump’s decision to withdraw US Forces from Germany shows a broad lack of strategic understanding. It sends the wrong signal to our adversaries and leaves our allies vulnerable in the face of increasing global threats. It’s simply unacceptable,” tweeted former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who as we all know is always correct about military matters.

“Did Trump give Putin a heads up on the removal of 12,000 US troops from Germany? Was there an implication it was a kind of down payment for election help, a taste of what could follow in a second term?” asks super smart foreign policy expert Bill Kristol.

“US to withdraw nearly 12,000 troops from Germany in move that will cost billions and take years,” warns a CNN headline that is both helpful and totally sane.

She continues:

NPR’s national security correspondent David Welna informs us that the move is “a slap at a longtime ally frequently reviled by President Trump.”

“There’s no strategy behind the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Germany,” says Slate foreign policy pundit Fred Kaplan.

“It’s about the president’s anger and ego.”

“The plan outlined by the Administration today to remove thousands of U.S. troops from Germany is a grave error,” said Senator Mitt Romney in a statement. “It is a slap in the face at a friend and ally when we should instead be drawing closer in our mutual commitment to deter Russian and Chinese aggression. And it is a gift to Russia coming at a time when we just have learned of its support for the Taliban and reports of bounties on killing American troops.”

“A special gift to Putin and a blow to NATO,” tweeted former National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

“Donald Trump is not playing on America’s team.”

Of course, these people cheered when Barack Obama said that he would be more flexible with Putin. They defended Obama when he sat idly by as Putin took over Crimes, when he walked away from Syria and when he canceled missile defense systems promised to Poland and the Czech Republic-- because Putin wanted him to.

If Mitt Romney thinks that the withdrawal is a grave error, that means that it's a good idea. When Iran was putting bounties on American troops, none of these people uttered a word. Anyway, we all know that Germany has not been acting like a friend or an ally. This ought to cost it something.

Do Black Minds Matter?

Anyone who really wants to improve the lives of American blacks should pay special heed to the views of Daniel Henninger. He points out the flagrantly obvious-- namely, that the greatest damage to black lives and especially black minds is imposed by inner city public schools. The worst performing students in the worst schools in the country consign children to lives of quiet, and at times not-so-quiet desperation.

The solution, as we and many others have often noted, lies in the expansion of charter schools. In New York City inner city children who attend Success Academies perform exceptionally well in academic competition. Their scores are comparable to those of children in the toniest suburban schools.

Of course, the Democratic Party, being in vassalage to the teachers’ unions, are opposed to charter schools. They will do everything in their power to shut them down, and thus to ruin the lives of more and more inner city black children. 

Henninger frames the issue correctly:

We’ve spent two months talking about almost nothing but the policing of inner-city neighborhoods. But for my money, no public issue more clearly defines the overlooked stakes in this election than the future of educational achievement in the big urban school systems spread across the U.S.

The black lives most at risk are the young men and women living in the nation’s poorest urban neighborhoods, attending the worst-performing public schools in the U.S. 

The Biden platform has aimed at ridding the nation of charter schools:

If Joe Biden wins on the basis of his current policy course, those young black lives will have next to no chance of their schools improving in the next four years. This version of the Democratic Party laid out its schools road map in the recent Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force, which proposes both to reinforce the public-school status quo and suppress its competition from charter schools and private schools.

Of public charters, the document says, “we have learned that there must be guardrails on them if they are to receive federal funds.” That’s a terrible abuse of “guardrails.” They don’t want guardrails for charters. They want roadblocks.

It does not quite say so outright, but it has included a poison pill. Namely, the charter schools will be judged in relation to the performance of children in a district’s other schools:

This is the killer proposal: “Require that federal funding for charter schools in any district be conditioned on a district’s review of the financial and academic impact of a new charter school or a charter school that wants to expand on that district or neighborhood. The Education Department would have the ability to deny federal funding for charter(s) if the district’s analysis shows that it is (1) financially distressed or (2) the charter would systematically under-serve the neediest students.”

Henninger concludes:

This means appointees in a Biden Education Department could—and would—come up with myriad bureaucratic reasons to withhold federal funds and weaken the existing network of charters. They can’t kill charters outright, but they can turn the oxygen counterclockwise.

In truth, the Obama-Biden administration had already mandated a rule that makes education nearly impossible in those schools. It chose to make it far more difficult to suspend or expel unruly students, thus undermining classroom discipline. Obviously, the bureaucrats instituted the rule because it noticed that more black children were being suspended and expelled. Thus, in order to have better looking statistics, it damaged every child's prospects.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Joe Biden on the 2020 Census

Just in case you don't understand why Senile Joe Biden does not do many interviews, take a look at this, from yesterday:

Should We Always Follow the Science?

For all the sanctimonious mewling about how we should follow the science, the truth is, as Dr. Joel Zinberg explains, that science does not offer clear direction when it comes to making policy.

One might and one should recall the words of David Hume, to the effect that science is about what “is” while ethics is about “should.” "Is" and "should" are not the same thing. In effect you cannot reasonably get from "is" to "should."

We live in a world when a band of idiots has told us that, in some cases, science is settled. In truth, as any decent scientist will tell you, science is based on skepticism. There is no such thing as settled science. There are settled dogmas, which you must believe lest you be expelled from a religious institution, but there is no settled science, not about the climate and not about the pandemic.

While politicians tell us that the science about tomorrow’s climate is settled, a serious thinker like Ludwig Wittgenstein has taught us that there is no such thing as a scientific fact about tomorrow.

Moreover, the people who are telling us that we should follow science, because they are in love with facts, also believe, as an article of superstitious faith, that an individual whose trillions of chromosomes are XX can become a boy, simply by changing her mind. They insist that the girl’s brain is typed male, which merely describes what happens when someone entertains a delusional belief. 

So, science is a convenient higher power, one that is trotted out when the godless among us want to trick us into doing something that is not very smart.

Dr. Zinberg reminds us of opinions voiced by Dr. Anthony Fauci, opinions that the good doctor has since reversed.

Dr. Anthony Fauci—and this is not meant as criticism—has epitomized the public-health diagnostic process with multiple, incorrect, early pronouncements: In January and February, he downplayed the risk of person-to-person spread; he expressed doubt that asymptomatic people could transmit the virus; in late February, he reassured the public that, “at this moment, there is no need to change anything that you’re doing on a day-by-day basis”; and in March, like many other public-health officials here and abroad, he said that, outside of health-care personnel, ordinary people should not wear masks. In fact, both Fauci and Surgeon General Jerome Adams suggested that mask-wearing could increase a person’s risk of being infected. All these assertions proved wrong.

So, if people were not running around in masks the reason was that the great Dr. Fauci told them not to do so:

Dr. Fauci now espouses the opposite of each of his earlier statements, but there is nothing wrong with that. As economist John Maynard Keynes purportedly said, “When the facts change, I change my mind—what do you do, sir?”

Making policy, Dr. Zinberg continues, requires us to balance different goals and different interests. We must take into account the damage to people’s lives that will ensue if we shut down the economy or if we lock people down or if we reserve all hospital beds for coronavirus patients:

Policymakers have to balance multiple, competing factors while working with imperfect information and uncertain science. In a pandemic, infectious-disease experts can advise that shutting down the economy will limit the spread of deadly disease. But experts from other fields might warn that the same action will also throw millions out of work and lead to increased deaths of people unable or unwilling to obtain medical care for emergencies and chronic diseases, more suicides, and more drug and alcohol abuse.

And, once the experts are proven wrong, by their own admission, they lose some of their credibility. 

Americans were told that there was no evidence that face masks were protective, or that, at best, they might help protect other people, but not the mask-wearer himself. Now Fauci has explained that the main rationale for discouraging mask use was not really the belief that they don’t work but to preserve an adequate supply of masks for health-care workers. Small wonder that some opponents of mandatory mask-wearing say that they’re not convinced masks are helpful, and that they may even be harmful. They can be forgiven for wondering why masks were necessary and protective for health-care workers but not for them.

As for the side-effects of the lockdown policy, the Financial Times reported this morning that the mental health of the British has taken a turn for the worse during their lockdown and social distancing:

Almost two-thirds of people in England have suffered from anxiety and poor sleep during the lockdown, compared with less than half beforehand. Respondents also reported a rise in binge eating and suicidal thoughts.