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…. is from Nick Gillespie, writing in Reason.com “Philando Castile’s ‘Audacity To Smoke Marijuana’ in Front of Child Doomed Him, Says Cop Who Killed Him“:
From the minute we’re born, we are bombarded with messages and lessons about how drugs are bad, evil, and uniquely destructive; how they inherently give rise to criminality, violence, and mayhem; how we must forever be on the lookout for users, avoid becoming users (read: addicts!) ourselves, and rat out anyone we see using them; and on and on. Never mind that most of these dicta are utter bullshit, that it’s the black-market status of drugs that brings violence and makes abuse more likely, and that the drug war has always been about controlling various threatening populations (minorities, youth, you name it). Or that over the past several decades, we have become veritable drug-taking machines (not a bad thing), relying on pills and herbs and exercise to treat our torpor, depression, and lack of focus and drive in everything from work to play to sex.
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…. is from President Ronald Reagan during his “Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session During a United States Chamber of Commerce Teleconference” on May 10, 1983:
I oppose the quick fix of trade protectionism, because we saw the nightmare that helped create in the 1930s. We and our trading partners are in the same boat. If one partner shoots a hole in the boat, it makes no sense for the other partner to shoot another hole in the boat. That’s not getting tough. It’s getting wet. And eventually it means sinking the boat that’s headed for greater growth and prosperity.
The same holds true for dead-end policies like the local content rule — legislation that would force those who sell cars in the United States, including domestic manufacturers, to build their cars with a rising share of U.S. labor and parts. As the Congressional Budget Office pointed out, this would destroy more jobs than it would create. It would add significantly to the cost of new cars and these costs of protecting one group of workers would be passed on to another group down the line whose jobs would then be jeopardized. It would violate our international commitment to the GATT.
Protectionism only opens the door to retaliation. We would buy less from our partners, they would buy less from us. The world economic pie would shrink and political tensions would multiply. The local content rule is a cruel hoax. We propose a positive approach. We want to enhance the ability of U.S. producers and workers to compete on a fair and equitable basis in the world marketplace.
If Seattle’s $15 minimum wage experiment is the ‘canary in the coal mine,’ other cities should proceed with caution
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In an important article in the Seattle Weekly, Daniel Person summarizes the situation in Seattle pretty well in the title of his exposé “The City Knew the Bad Minimum Wage Report Was Coming Out, So It Called Up Berkeley,” here’s a slice:
Two weeks. Two studies on minimum wage. Two very different results. Last week, a report out of the University of California—Berkeley found “Seattle’s minimum wage ordinance has raised wages for low-paid workers, without negatively affecting employment,” in the words of the Mayor’s Office. That report, produced by the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at Berkeley, was picked up far and wide as proof that thedoomsday scenarios predicted by skeptics of the plan were failing to materialize.
And while another study that came out Monday from researchers at the University of Washington (UW) doesn’t exactly spell doomsday either, it wasn’t exactly rosy. “UW study finds Seattle’s minimum wage is costing jobs,” read the Seattle Times headline Monday morning. The study found that while wages for low-earners rose by 3 percent since the law went into effect, hours for those works dropped by 9 percent. The average worker making less than $19 an hour in Seattle has seen a total loss of $125 a month since the law went into effect.
There’s an old joke that economics is the only field where two people can win the Nobel Prize for saying the exact opposite thing. However, by all appearances these two takeaways on Seattle’s historic minimum wage law are not a symptom of the vagaries of a social science but an object lesson in how quickly data can get weaponized in political debates like Seattle’s minimum wage fight. In short, the Mayor’s Office knew the unflattering UW report was coming out, and reached out to other researchers to kick the tires on what threatened to be a damaging report to a central achievement of Ed Murray’s tenure as mayor.
And here’s the key takeaway of what Person uncovered:
To review, the timeline seems to have gone like this: The UW shares with City Hall an early draft of its study showing the minimum wage law is hurting the workers it was meant to help; the mayor’s office shares the study with researchers known to be sympathetic toward minimum wage laws, asking for feedback; those researchers release a report that’s high on Seattle’s minimum wage law just a week before the negative report comes out.
In other words, if you don’t like an unflattering study from a team of researchers from the local university that accurately exposes some of the negative employment effects of the city of Seattle’s $15 minimum wage, you shop around – out of state in this case — for a more favorable study of that questionable and risky public policy experiment.
And what didn’t the Seattle mayor’s office like about the UW study? Let’s find out by looking at some of the key findings of the 63-page NBER study “Minimum Wage Increases, Wages, and Low-Wage Employment: Evidence from Seattle” by Ekaterina Jardim, Mark C. Long, Robert Plotnick, Emma van Inwegen, Jacob Vigdor and Hilary Wething (all six are professors in the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington). The selected excerpts below help tell the story that the city of Seattle didn’t want to hear (emphasis added):
This paper evaluates the wage, employment, and hours effects of the first and second phase-in of the Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance, which raised the minimum wage from $9.47 to $11 per hour in 2015 and to $13 per hour in 2016. Using a variety of methods to analyze employment in all sectors paying below a specified real hourly rate, we conclude that the second wage increase to $13 reduced hours worked in low-wage jobs by around 9 percent, while hourly wages in such jobs increased by around 3 percent. Consequently, total payroll fell for such jobs, implying that the minimum wage ordinance lowered low-wage employees’ earnings by an average of $125 per month in 2016.
Our preferred estimates suggest that the Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance caused hours worked by low-skilled workers (i.e., those earning under $19 per hour) to fall by 9.4% during the three quarters when the minimum wage was $13 per hour, resulting in a loss of 3.5 million hours worked per calendar quarter. Alternative estimates show the number of low-wage jobs declined by 6.8%, which represents a loss of more than 5,000 jobs. These estimates are robust to cutoffs other than $19. A 3.1% increase in wages in jobs that paid less than $19 coupled with a 9.4% loss in hours yields a labor demand elasticity of roughly -3.0, and this large elasticity estimate is robust to other cutoffs.
These results suggest a fundamental rethinking of the nature of low-wage work. Prior elasticity estimates in the range from zero to -0.2 suggest there are few suitable substitutes for low-wage employees, that firms faced with labor cost increases have little option but to raise their wage bill. Seattle data show that payroll expenses on workers earning under $19 per hour either rose minimally or fell as the minimum wage increased from $9.47 to $13 in just over nine months. An elasticity of -3.0 suggests that low-wage labor is a more substitutable, expendable factor of production. The work of least-paid workers might be performed more efficiently by more skilled and experienced workers commanding a substantially higher wage. This work could, in some circumstances, be automated. In other circumstances, employers may conclude that the work of least-paid workers need not be done at all.
Importantly, the lost income associated with the hours reductions exceeds the gain associated with the net wage increase of 3.1%. Using data in Table 3, we compute that the average low-wage employee was paid $1,897 per month. The reduction in hours would cost the average employee $179 per month, while the wage increase would recoup only $54 of this loss, leaving a net loss of $125 per month (6.6%), which is sizable for a low-wage worker.
MP: Here’s one thing the UW study didn’t consider yet, because it’s too early: The additional $2 an hour increase in the city’s minimum wage that just took effect on January 1 of this year from $13 to $15 an hour for large employers. Once local employers feel the full effect of the 58% increase in labor costs for minimum wage workers from $9.47 to $15 an hour in less than two years, it’s likely the negative employment effects uncovered by the UW team for 2016 will continue this year and into the future, and could likely increase.
Here’s some additional commentary on the developing Seattle minimum wage story:
1. The Seattle Times Editorial Board warns that “Seattle should open its eyes to minimum-wage research.”
Murray’s office said it had concerns about the “methodology” of the UW study. But the strategy is clear and galling: celebrate the research that fits your political agenda, and tear down the research that doesn’t.
The minimum-wage experiment sweeping the country needs good, thorough, independent research. Seattle led this movement, passing the highest local minimum wage in the country. Does City Hall really want to know the consequences, or does it want to put blinders on and pat itself on the back?
2. Forbes contributor Tim Worstall writes today that “As I Predicted, Seattle’s Minimum Wage Rise Is Reducing Employment.”
3. Max Ehrenfreund writes in today’s Washington Post that “A ‘very credible’ new study on Seattle’s $15 minimum wage has bad news for liberals.”
4. Ben Casselman and Kathryn Casteel express their concerns in FiveThirtyEight that “Seattle’s Minimum Wage Hike May Have Gone Too Far.” Here’s a slice:
In January 2016, Seattle’s minimum wage jumped from $11 an hour to $13 for large employers, the second big increase in less than a year. New research released Monday by a team of economists at the University of Washington suggests the wage hike may have come at a significant cost: The increase led to steep declines in employment for low-wage workers, and a drop in hours for those who kept their jobs. Crucially, the negative impact of lost jobs and hours more than offset the benefits of higher wages — on average, low-wage workers earned $125 per month less because of the higher wage, a small but significant decline.
“The goal of this policy was to deliver higher incomes to people who were struggling to make ends meet in the city,” said Jacob Vigdor, a University of Washington economist who was one of the study’s authors. “You’ve got to watch out because at some point you run the risk of harming the people you set out to help.”
“This is a ‘canary in the coal mine’ moment,” said David Autor, an MIT economist who wasn’t involved in the Seattle research. Autor noted that high-cost cities such as Seattle are the places that should be in the best position to absorb the impact of a high minimum wage. So if the policy is hurting workers there — and Autor stressed that the Washington report is just one study — that could signal trouble as the recent wage hikes take effect in lower-cost parts of the country.
“Nobody in their right mind would say that raising the minimum wage to $25 an hour would have no effect on employment,” Autor said. “The question is where is the point where it becomes relevant. And apparently in Seattle, it’s around $13.”
Bottom Line: If booming high cost-of-living Seattle had a hard time absorbing a $13 an hour minimum wage last year without experiencing negative employment effects (reduced hours, jobs and earnings for low-wage workers), it will have an even more difficult time dealing with the additional $2 an hour increase that took place on January 1 without even greater negative consequences. And if Seattle’s risky experiment with a $15 an hour minimum wage represents the “canary in the coal mine” for cities around the country that want to increase their minimum wages to $15 an hour, those cities may want to hold off for a few years to get a final count of the “dead canaries” in Seattle before proceeding.
Wind power sounds good in theory, but rural residents across America are voting against it when they get a chance
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From my op-ed (with Thomas Hemphill) today in Real Clear Energy “Wind Power’s Future in U.S. Could Be Thwarted by Grassroots Opposition“:
The luster is coming off wind power as an economically viable, environmentally friendly, community-friendly source of America’s energy future—and for some very good reasons. To start, rural residents across America are increasingly rejecting the encroachment of wind-energy projects in their communities whenever they get a chance to voice their opinions in local ballots.
The Manhattan Institute’s Robert Bryce reported in National Review (“Big Wind Gets Spanked in Michigan”) that citizens in 37 jurisdictions in 10 different U.S. states have rejected or restricted the expansion of wind power in local referenda so far this year. Our home state of Michigan is a bellwether of this trend, as voters in 20 rural towns in the “Thumb region” rejected wind-power ballot initiatives in May.
As Bryce reports, “The fact that rural communities from Maine to California are rejecting Big Wind doesn’t fit the popular media’s narrative that wind energy is ‘green,’” and “These results haven’t been reported by mainstream media.” For many of these communities, concerns about land use, noise, aesthetics, lower property values, and bat and bird mortality all played an important role in their overwhelming votes against wind power.
For total energy produced and consumed, the America of tomorrow will still be very much of a fossil-fuel future despite all of the hype, hope, and subsidies for renewables. More than three decades from today, in the year 2050, EIA estimates that fossil fuels will still be the main energy source in the United States, providing nearly 80 percent of the country’s energy. All renewables combined will provide less than 15 percent of America’s energy in 2050.
It’s also important to note that the optimistic forecasts from the EIA about the future of wind energy didn’t take into account the recent voter backlashes against wind power from citizens in states such as Michigan. It turns out that many rural Americans might express support for wind power—at least, in theory—but then turn against wind when they learn that their quality of life is negatively affected by the presence of large and ubiquitous wind farms in their communities.
The Jones Act: A case study in protectionism that harms consumers by protecting producers from foreign competition
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I wrote last week in the Washington Examiner about the anti-competitive, cost-raising, consumer-impoverishing regulatory dinosaur known as the Jones Act. In my op-ed, I cited Thomas Grennes, a professor emeritus of economics at North Carolina State University, who I just found out has recently published a Mercatus Center study on the Jones Act titled “An Economic Analysis of the Jones Act.” Here are some key excerpts of Professor Grennes’s study (emphasis mine):
The Jones Act, which requires the use of American ships on all domestic voyages, has been in place for nearly a century. Its purpose when enacted was to strengthen national security by creating a strong shipbuilding industry and merchant marine. But by denying American businesses access to the best shipping, the act has imposed large losses on American consumers. Recent developments in the world economy, including globalization of ownership, offshore outsourcing of ship components, and extensive use of flags of convenience, have made the act even more burdensome. Since recent contributions of the merchant marine to national security have been small or negative, major reform of the Jones Act is overdue. Such reform would be consistent with the goal of eliminating excessive regulation of the American economy.
The Jones Act is a curious survivor from the mercantilistic period when governments heavily regulated most economic activity. Adam Smith’s classic work The Wealth of Nations was largely a criticism of this excessive regulation of economic activity. The Jones Act, which follows the mercantilistic tradition, became law when waterborne transportation was the dominant mode of moving goods. By reducing competition for shipping services, the Jones Act has imposed large net costs on the US economy. The negative effects of the act on the contiguous 48 states have been reduced somewhat by the development of alternative modes of transportation. However, geography limits the noncontiguous regions from using these substitute modes of transportation, and consequently the act has done the most damage to Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and Guam.
The Jones Act emphasis on ships that are built, owned, crewed, and registered in the United States has much less meaning today because of globalization. Extensive offshore outsourcing implies that ships assembled in America usually have substantial foreign components. The globalization of financial markets makes American ownership less meaningful and even unworkable. The rise of flags of convenience implies that the Jones Act deprives users of domestic routes from access to the lower-cost foreign-flag vessels that now dominate world shipping.
The Jones Act has had the same negative effect on the economy as any tariff or trade barrier, without providing any significant improvement in national security. Recent increases in US domestic oil production have increased the demand for domestic transport, which has made the Jones Act restrictions even more costly barriers to efficient transportation. The contribution of Jones Act ships to American military action abroad has been negligible, and the Act has interfered with the ability to use ships to quickly respond to disasters in the United States.
- Cruise ships cannot carry passengers directly from Seattle to Anchorage without incurring the added expenses of an American-flag vessel. That is why so many Alaskan cruises originate in Vancouver.
- The cost of US-built ships continues to rise relative to foreign-built ships. Delays in building and repairing ships and cost overruns result in fewer and older active ships, which affects national security.
- The main economic effect of the Jones Act is to exclude foreign ships from supplying services on domestic routes. By excluding potential suppliers, the act prevents American shippers from hiring what might be their preferred suppliers.
- The negative effects of the Jones Act are most severe in the noncontiguous regions of Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and Guam, where trucks, rail, and pipelines cannot substitute for foreign shipping banned by the Jones Act.
- Some critics of the Jones Act have claimed that protecting domestic producers has caused them to become technological laggards.
- Currently, the Jones Act has two effects: it harms consumers by raising prices of all transported products, and it acts as a subsidy to producers by allowing them to receive a higher price for their products.
- The Jones Act has had the same negative effect on the economy as any tariff or trade barrier, without providing any significant improvement in national security.
Bottom Line: Except for maybe the US sugar industry, there may be no other better example of such a long-standing case of protecting a domestic US industry from lower-cost, more efficient foreign competition than the protection the domestic shipping industry has been afforded by the Jones Act of 1920. As is always the case of crony capitalism and protectionism, there are concentrated, visible benefits for the shipping industry from the Jones Act and invisible costs dispersed throughout the entire economy through higher prices for hundreds, if not thousands of goods. And even though the costs of that anti-competitive protectionism through artificially high prices greatly outweigh the benefits and make us poorer as a nation, it becomes an almost superhuman task to break the stranglehold of the protected industry through the political process. The entrenched and concentrated special interest groups are too powerful politically, and will invest resources and engage in ruthless rent-seeking to protect their protectionism. Once protected from foreign competition, “an octopus would sooner release its prey” than would a domestic industry relinquish its valuable position of engaging in “legal plunder.”
Kudos to Professor Grennes for doing such a splendid job of exposing the Jones Act for what it is: a classic case of protectionism, crony capitalism, and legal plunder.
Happy 10th birthday, iPhone — perhaps the most remarkable and revolutionary consumer product ever introduced
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The first iPhone was released on June 29, 2007, so this Thursday will mark the tenth anniversary of what is perhaps the most revolutionary consumer product ever introduced, and one that (along with the smartphone) has probably done more to impact the lives of ordinary people and in the process change the world more than any previous consumer good in history. CBS Sunday Morning featured the iPhone this morning in a segment titled Happy 10th birthday, iPhone and Wikipedia has a listing for the first generation iPhone here.
In honor of the iPhone’s tenth anniversary, I’ll republish and update a related CD post from January 2014 that appears below.
In January of 2014, Buffalo (NY) journalist and historian Steve Cichon has an article on the Trending Buffalo website (“Everything from 1991 Radio Shack ad I now do with my phone“) featuring a full-page Radio Shack ad from the Buffalo News on February 16, 1991 (see graphic above). Of the 15 electronics products featured in the Radio Shack ad, 13 of them can now be replaced with a $199 iPhone (required a 2-year contract with a provider like AT&T) according to Steve’s analysis (see the history of iPhone prices here). The 13 Radio Shack items in the 1991 ad are listed below:
Those 13 items would have cost a total of $3,055 in 1991, which is equivalent in 2014 dollars to $5,225 (or $5,500 in 2017 dollars). That compares to only $199 in 2014 for a 16GB iPhone 5S (with a two-year mobile plan) that would have replaced all of those 13 Radio Shack items.
In hours worked at the average wage, the 13 electronics items would have had a “time cost” in 1991 of 290.4 hours of work at the average hourly wage then of $10.52 (or 7.25 weeks or 36.3 days of work). In 2014, the $199 iPhone would have had a “time cost” of fewer than 10 hours (9.82 hours) of work at the average hourly wage today of $20.35, or just one day of work, plus a few extra hours. That’s an amazing reduction in “time cost” of more than 96% in just a few decades, from 290.4 hours in 1991 to only 9.82 hours in 2014!
Update: The 1991 Radio Shack ad also listed a radar detector for sale at a price of $80 (about $144 in today’s 2017 dollars), and that can be replaced today with free apps like Waze and Escort Live. So we could say that 14 out of the 15 products listed in in the 1991 Radio Shack ad are now available with the purchase of an iPhone or Smartphone!
MP: When you consider that an iPhone can fit in your pocket and has many apps and features that were either not available in 1991 (GPS, text messaging, email, Internet access, mobile access to movies, music streaming, more than two million mobile apps, iCloud access, etc.) or not listed in the 1991 Radio Shack ad (camera, stopwatch, timer, photo-editing, travel books, encyclopedia, newspaper subscriptions, dictionary, language translator, etc.), it’s amazing how much progress we’ve made in just several decades, and how affordable common electronic products have become.
The comparison above is an example of the “invisible hand” of the free market at work, giving us more goods, better goods, and cheaper goods over time. And the poor and middle class benefit the most. While only the wealthy might have been able to afford the bundle of 13 electronic products costing $5,500 in 1991 (measured in today’s dollars), almost anybody today can afford an iPhone with features that far exceed the 13 products advertised by Radio Shack in 1991.
Instead of spending so much time obsessing so much about income inequality, the income share of the “top 1/5/10%,” the “decline of the middle class,” and generally criticizing and blaming the free market for every woe, maybe we should devote more time to celebrating how the “miracle of the marketplace” has brought about rising living standards for all income groups in America and around the world, especially low-income households. Falling prices of manufactured goods like food, cars, clothing, household appliances, computers and electronics have probably given low-income households in the US greater access to the “good life” than all of the government programs and safety nets that are part of the trillion dollars of spending on America’s “War on Poverty.”
Happy 10th Birthday, iPhone!
New chart illustrates graphically the racial preferences for blacks, Hispanics being admitted to US medical schools
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The bar chart above is based on selected data from the table below the chart and shows the acceptance rates for US medical schools based on three different combinations of MCAT scores and GPA by ethnic/race group during the 2013-2016 period. As I explained in previous CD post that featured the table above (but not the new bar chart, which was just prepared with assistance from Olivier Ballou):
For the 2015-2016 academic year, the average GPA of all students applying to medical schools was 3.55 and the average MCAT score was 28.3 according to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The highlighted dark blue column in the middle of the table above displays the acceptance rates to US medical schools for applicants from four racial/ethnic groups for applicants with: a) GPAs that fall in the 3.40 to 3.59 range that includes the average GPA of 3.55 and b) MCAT scores in the range between 27 to 29 that includes the average MCAT score of 28.3. Acceptance rates for students with slightly higher and slightly lower than average GPAs and test scores are displayed in the other columns. In other words, the table above displays acceptance rates by race/ethnicity for students applying to US medical schools with average academic credentials, and just slightly above and slightly below average academic credentials.
- The middle set of bars in the top chart above show that for applicants to US medical schools between 2013-2016 with average GPAs (3.40 to 3.59) and average MCAT scores (27 to 29), black applicants were almost 4 times more likely to be accepted to US medical schools than Asians in that applicant pool (81.2% vs. 20.6%), and 2.8 times more likely than white applicants (81.2% vs. 29.0%). Likewise, Hispanic applicants to medical school during this period with average GPAs and MCAT scores were more than twice as likely as whites in that applicant pool to be admitted to medical school (59.5% vs. 29.0%), and nearly three times more likely than Asians (59.5% vs. 20.6%). Overall, black (81.2%) and Hispanic (59.5%) applicants with average GPAs and average MCAT scores were accepted to US medical schools between 2013 and 2016 at rates (81.2% and 59.5% respectively) much higher than the 30.6% average acceptance rate for all students (see bottom of highlighted dark blue column).
- For students applying to medical school with slightly below average GPAs of 3.20 to 3.39 and slightly below average MCAT scores of 24 to 26 (first data column in the table, shaded light blue), black applicants were more than 9 times more likely to be admitted to medical school than Asians (56.4% vs. 5.9%), and more than 7 times more likely than whites (56.4% vs. 8.0%) – see the group of four bars on the left side of the chart above. Compared to the average acceptance rate of 16.7% for all applicants with that combination of GPA and MCAT score, black and Hispanic applicants were much more likely to be accepted at rates of 56.4% and 30.5%, and white and Asian applicants were much less likely to be accepted to US medical schools at rates of only 5.9% and 8.0% respectively.
- We find the same pattern of acceptance rates by ethnic/racial groups for applicants with slightly above average academic credentials (see the group of four bars on the right side of the chart). For example, for applicants with MCAT scores of 30 to 32 (slightly above average) and GPAs between 3.40 to 3.59 (average) in the eighth data column (shaded light blue), the acceptance rates for blacks (86.9%) and Hispanics (75.9%) were much higher than the acceptance rate for whites (48.0%) and Asians (40.3%) with those same academic credentials.
Bottom Line: Medical school acceptance rates in recent years suggest that medical schools must have “affirmative discrimination” and “racial profiling” admission policies that favor black and Hispanic applicants over equally qualified Asian and white students. Even if factors other than GPA and MCAT scores (which are probably the two most important ones) are considered for admission to medical school, wouldn’t it still be very hard to conclude that admissions policies to medical schools are completely “race-neutral” and completely free of any “racial profiling” practices that favor blacks and Hispanics over equally qualified Asians and whites?
Here’s why the issue is important: In some states like California, Washington, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, and Michigan, racial preferences in college admissions to public universities are currently prohibited by state law. For example, Proposal 2 in Michigan, which was passed into Michigan Constitutional law by a 58% margin of voters in 2006 (and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2014), states:
The University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and any other public college or university, community college, or school district shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.
The AAMC doesn’t provide acceptance data by individual medical school, so we can’t conclude that any of the four medical schools at public universities in Michigan (University of Michigan, Michigan State, Wayne State and Oakland University) are practicing illegal “racial discrimination” or “racial preferences” in admissions, but it’s clear that Michigan state law, and the laws in several other states, expressly prohibit that practice. Based on national data, is there any conclusion other than the obvious one – that US medical schools are granting special preferences for admissions on the basis of race for certain preferred minority groups (blacks and Hispanics) over other equally qualified non-preferred minority groups (Asians) and whites? When a black applicant with average academic credentials is four times more likely to be admitted to a US medical school than an equally qualified Asian applicant, what other conclusion is there?
Note: Unfortunately, it might be difficult to get these exact data on medical school admissions by race/ethnic group and GPA/MCAT score in the future for the following reasons:
1. The MCAT test was recently re-scaled from the tradition point range of 20-35 to a new scale that ranges from 475 to 525 points, and that change was in effect for the most recent AAMC report on Applicants and Matriculants Data for the 2016-2017 academic year. In the past, the AAMC would report the data on acceptance rates by GPA/MCAT scores and race/ethnic group over the most recent three-year period, so it might wait for several more years before it would have three years of data under the new MCAT test score range.
2. The AAMC this year also hasn’t yet reported acceptance rates for the 2016-2017 academic year based on various combinations of GPA/MCAT score by race/ethnic group like it has in the past. It’s possible there’s a delay in reporting these data, and it’s also possible the traditional “grid report” on GPA and MCAT scores by race/ethnic groups may no longer be reported as it was in past years?
History Channel tells stunning secret story of War on Drugs – from the beginning it was a political war on people
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From a very important article in The Intercept by Jon Schwartz “The History Channel Is Finally Telling the Stunning Secret Story of the War on Drugs” (emphasis added):
The History Channel is showing a new four-part series called America’s War on Drugs. Not only is it an important contribution to recent American history, it’s also the first time U.S. television has ever told the core truth about one of the most important issues of the past 50 years.
That core truth is: The War on Drugs has always been a pointless sham. For decades the federal government has engaged in a shifting series of alliances of convenience with some of the world’s largest drug cartels. So while the U.S. incarceration rate has quintupled since President Richard Nixon first declared the war on drugs in 1971 (see chart above), top narcotics dealers have simultaneously enjoyed protection at the highest levels of power in America.
On the one hand, this shouldn’t be surprising. The voluminous documentation of this fact in dozens of books has long been available to anyone with curiosity and a library card. Yet somehow, despite the fact the U.S. has no formal system of censorship, this monumental scandal has never before been presented in a comprehensive way in the medium where most Americans get their information: TV.
That’s why America’s War on Drugs is a genuine milestone. We’ve recently seen how ideas that once seemed absolutely preposterous and taboo — for instance, that the Catholic Church was consciously safeguarding priests who sexually abused children, or that Bill Cosby may not have been the best choice for America’s Dad — can after years of silence finally break through into popular consciousness and exact real consequences. The series could be a watershed in doing the same for the reality behind one of the most cynical and cruel policies in U.S. history.
That this series exists at all shows that we’re at a tipping point with this brazen, catastrophic lie. We have to push hard enough to knock it over.
You can watch a 4-minute overview of the series above and you can watch full episodes of the series online here:
Episode 1 — Acid, Spies, & Secret Experiments
Episode 2 — Cocaine, Cartels, & Crack Downs
Episode 3 — Gangs, Prisons, & Meth Queens (requires sign-in with your cable TV provider)
Episode 4 — Heroin, Terrorists, & Kings of Pain (requires sign-in with your cable TV provider)
Bottom Line: As I’ve written before, I’m confident that in a future, more enlightened, advanced, open-minded and tolerant America, we’ll look back on America’s immoral, senseless, expensive and failed War on Drugs Otherwise Peaceful Americans Who Chose to Ingest or Smoke Plants, Weeds and Recreational Substances Proscribed by Arbitrary Government Regulations with the shame, contempt, and embarrassment that it so rightfully deserves for such cruel, intolerant, and inhumane treatment of our fellow citizens (and our children and family dogs). Kudos to The History Channel for making such an important contribution to bringing us much closer to that future reckoning with such an embarrassing and shameful chapter of America’s history that matches (if not exceeds) America’s previous failed, costly and shameful War on Alcohol Otherwise Peaceful Americans Who Chose to Ingest Recreational Beverages Proscribed by Arbitrary Government Regulations during the 1930s.
The first of three simple principles of trade policy: A tax on imports is equivalent to a tax on exports
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From Dartmouth College economist Douglas A. Irwin’s 1996 pamphlet Three Simple Principles of Trade Policy (emphasis added):
The first proposition is that a tax [tariff] on imports is equivalent to a tax on exports. Any restraint on imports also acts, in effect, as a restraint on exports. The converse of this proposition is also true: when a government undertakes policies to expand the volume of exports, it cannot help but to expand the volume of imports as well.
The fundamental reason for this truth is that exports and imports are flip sides of the same coin. Exports are necessary to generate the earnings to pay for imports, or exports are the goods a country must give up in order to acquire imports. Exports and imports are inherently interdependent, and any policy that reduces one will also reduce the other.
Exports and imports are unmistakably correlated: they rise and fall in lockstep, such that one cannot distinguish between them (see chart above for graphical confirmation of that phenomenon over more than 200 years in the U.S.). Revisionists about U.S. economic policies during the postwar period have complained that it was marked by a one-sided opening of the U.S. market; foreign trade barriers and unfair practices, they charge, were tolerated far too long. Yet the openness of the U.S. market does not manifest itself in a differential in the levels of exports or imports.
If a government undertakes policies that systematically reduce the volume of imports [e.g., through protectionist trade policies], it also systematically reduces the volume of exports. The reasons may be indirect and less than obvious, but they are still present and have to be reckoned with.
MP: In other words, protectionist trade policies that restrict, limit or ban imports in an attempt to expand domestic production and employment by increasing exports are guaranteed to fail and backfire.