Seattle Government’s Racist Cult Orthodoxy

Dennis Prager reads through an article from my favorite Journal, the only one I get via mail on political commentary, THE CITY JOURNAL. And the caller at the end made my day:

Here is a key portion of the article:

Last month, the City of Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights sent an email inviting “white City employees” to attend a training session on “Interrupting Internalized Racial Superiority and Whiteness,” a program designed to help white workers examine their “complicity in the system of white supremacy” and “interrupt racism in ways that are accountable to Black, Indigenous and People of Color.” Hoping to learn more, I submitted a public records request for all documentation related to the training. The results are disturbing.

At the beginning of the session, the trainers explain that white people have internalized a sense of racial superiority, which has made them unable to access their “humanity” and caused “harm and violence” to people of color. The trainers claim that “individualism,” “perfectionism,” “intellectualization,” and “objectivity” are all vestiges of this internalized racial oppression and must be abandoned in favor of social-justice principles. In conceptual terms, the city frames the discussion around the idea that black Americans are reducible to the essential quality of “blackness” and white Americans are reducible to the essential quality of “whiteness”—that is, the new metaphysics of good and evil.

Once the diversity trainers have established this basic conceptual framework, they encourage white employees to “practice self-talk that affirms [their] complicity in racism” and work on “undoing [their] own whiteness.” As part of this process, white employees must abandon their “white normative behavior” and learn to let go of their “comfort,” “physical safety,” “social status,” and “relationships with some other white people.” As writer James Lindsay has pointed out, this is not the language of human resources; it is the language of cult programming—persuading members they are defective in some predefined manner, exploiting their emotional vulnerabilities, and isolating them from previous relationships.

It’s important to point out that this “interrupting whiteness” training is not an anomaly. In recent years, nearly every department of Seattle city government has been recruited into the ideological fight against “white supremacy.” As I have documented, the city’s homelessness agency hosted a conference on how to “decolonize [their] collective work”; the school system released a curriculum explaining that “math is a tool for oppression”; and the city-owned power company hired a team of bureaucrats to fight “structural racism” within their organization. Dozens of private companies now offer diversity training to public agencies. The idea that all whites have unconscious, “implicit bias” that they must vigilantly program themselves to overcome has become an article of faith across corporate boardrooms, academia, and law-enforcement agencies, even though the premise is unscientific and impossible to verify.

The endgame is to make Seattle’s municipal government the arbiter of the new orthodoxy, and then work outward. At the end of the session on “internalized racial superiority,” the diversity trainers outline strategies for converting outsiders and recommend specific “practices for interrupting others’ whiteness.” In effect, the activists have organized an ideological pyramid scheme—using public dollars to establish their authority within the government, then using that authority to recruit others into the program. As Lindsay writes, “the goal is no longer to indoctrinate on what is ‘rightthink’ and ‘wrongthink.’ It is to make the [subject’s] thinking be completely in line with the view of the world described by the cult doctrine.”….

White employees were informed that their so-called ‘white’ qualities were offensive and unacceptable.

Are the Cal Fires Driven by Climate Change and Capitalism?

Chuck DeVore is interviewed by Larry Elder on these (and more) topics regarding California’s regulatory arm and environmental groups and the affect they have on forest health, power grids, and the rising cost for the poor. The conversation is based in large part on these two articles:

In the above two article (and the ones to follow) are detailed failures of our state legislature (a super majority in both houses are Democrats) to bring California into the 21st century.

These policies of pushing alternative energy goals retards the power grid, and hurts the poor the most where it counts — the pocket book:

These are important topics that SHOULD be looked into by Californians. However, the urge to FEEL “angelic” (on the side of angels) far outweighs the reality of the road we are paving. Here is the “CS LEWIS” of politics from a related post: “Deadly Altruism Marks the Left ~ Illiberal Egalitarianism and the NYFD

There is a Liberal sentiment that it should also punish those who take more than their “fair share.” But what is their fair share? (Shakespeare suggests that each should be treated not according to his deserts, but according to God’s mercy, or none of us would escape whipping.)

The concept of Fairness, for all its attractiveness to sentiment, is a dangerous one (cf. quota hiring and enrollment, and talk of “reparations”). Deviations from the Law, which is to say the Constitution, to accommodate specifically alleged identity-group injustices will all inevitably be expanded, universalized, and exploited until there remains no law, but only constant petition of Government.

We cannot live in peace without Law. And though law cannot be perfect, it may be just if it is written in ignorance of the identity of the claimants and applied equally to all. Then it is a possession not only of the claimants but of the society, which may now base its actions upon a reasonable assumption of the law’s treatment.

But “fairness” is not only a nonlegal but an antilegal process, for it deals not with universally applicable principles and strictures, but with specific cases, responding to the perceived or proclaimed needs of individual claimants, and their desire for extralegal preference. And it could be said to substitute fairness (a determination which must always be subjective) for justice (the application of the legislated will of the electorate), is to enshrine greed—the greed, in this case, not for wealth, but for preference. The socialistic spirit of the Left indicts ambition and the pursuit of wealth as Greed, and appeals, supposedly on behalf of “the people,” to the State for “fairness.”….

….But such fairness can only be the non-Constitutional intervention of the State in the legal, Constitutional process—awarding, as it sees fit, money (reparations), preferment (affirmative action), or entertainment (confiscation)….

….“Don’t you care?” is the admonition implicit in the very visage of the Liberals of my acquaintance on their understanding that I have embraced Conservatism. But the Talmud understood of old that good intentions can lead to evil—vide Busing, Urban Renewal, Affirmative Action, Welfare, et cetera, to name the more immediately apparent, and not to mention the, literally, tens of thousands of Federal and State statutes limiting freedom of trade, which is to say, of the right of the individual to make a living, and, so earn that wealth which would, in its necessary expenditure, allow him to provide a living to others….

…. I recognized that though, as a lifelong Liberal, I endorsed and paid lip service to “social justice,” which is to say, to equality of result, I actually based the important decisions of my life—those in which I was personally going to be affected by the outcome—upon the principle of equality of opportunity; and, further, that so did everyone I knew. Many, I saw, were prepared to pay more taxes, as a form of Charity, which is to say, to hand off to the Government the choice of programs and recipients of their hard-earned money, but no one was prepared to be on the short end of the failed Government pro-grams, however well-intentioned. (For example—one might endorse a program giving to minorities preference in award of government contracts; but, as a business owner, one would fight to get the best possible job under the best possible terms regardless of such a program, and would, in fact, work by all legal and, perhaps by semi- or illegal means to subvert any program that enforced upon the proprietor a bad business decision.)*

Further, one, in paying the government to relieve him of a feeling of social responsibility, might not be bothered to question what in fact constituted a minority, and whether, in fact, such minority contracts were actually benefiting the minority so enshrined, or were being subverted to shell corporations and straw men.

* No one would say of a firefighter, hired under rules reducing the height requirement, and thus unable to carry one’s child to safety, “Nonetheless, I am glad I voted for that ‘more fair’ law.”

As, indeed, they are, or, in the best case, to those among the applicants claiming eligibility most capable of framing, supporting, or bribing their claims to the front of the line. All claims cannot be met. The politicians and bureaucrats discriminating between claims will necessarily favor those redounding to their individual or party benefit—so the eternal problem of “Fairness,” supposedly solved by Government distribution of funds, becomes, yet again and inevitably, a question of graft.

David Mamet, The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture (New York, NY: Sentinel Publishing, 2011), 116-117, 12

The Left’s War on Science

(Posted almost a year ago… added Heather Mac Donald’s comments/interview in my re-posting this) Many in the media say there’s a conservative war on science. Is this true? No, says John Tierney, Contributing Editor at the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. Tierney says “the real war on science is the one from the left.”

Here is a long excerpt from the article by Tierney at THE CITY JOURNAL:

….Some genetic differences are politically acceptable on the left, such as the biological basis for homosexuality, which was deemed plausible by 70 percent of sociologists in a recent survey. But that same survey found that only 43 percent accepted a biological explanation for male-female differences in spatial skills and communication. How could the rest of the sociologists deny the role of biology? It was no coincidence that these doubters espoused the most extreme left-wing political views and the strongest commitment to a feminist perspective. To dedicated leftists and feminists, it doesn’t matter how much evidence of sexual differences is produced by developmental psychologists, primatologists, neuroscientists, and other researchers. Any disparity between the sexes—or, at least, any disparity unfavorable to women—must be blamed on discrimination and other cultural factors.

Former Harvard president Lawrence Summers found this out the hard way at an academic conference where he dared to discuss the preponderance of men among professors of mathematics and physical sciences at elite universities. While acknowledging that women faced cultural barriers, like discrimination and the pressures of family responsibilities, Summers hypothesized that there might be other factors, too, such as the greater number of men at the extreme high end in tests measuring mathematical ability and other traits. Males’ greater variability in aptitude is well established—it’s why there are more male dunces as well as geniuses—but scientific accuracy was no defense against the feminist outcry. The controversy forced Summers to apologize and ultimately contributed to his resignation. Besides violating the Blank Slate taboo, Summers had threatened an academic cottage industry kept alive by the myth that gender disparities in science are due to discrimination.

This industry, supported by more than $200 million from the National Science Foundation, persists despite overwhelming evidence—from experiments as well as extensive studies of who gets academic jobs and research grants—that a female scientist is treated as well as or better than an equally qualified male. In a rigorous set of five experiments published last year, the female candidate was preferred two-to-one over an equivalent male. The main reason for sexual disparities in some fields is a difference in interests: from an early age, more males are more interested in fields like physics and engineering, while more females are interested in fields like biology and psychology (where most doctorates go to women).

On the whole, American women are doing much better than men academically—they receive the majority of undergraduate and graduate degrees—yet education researchers and federal funders have focused for decades on the few fields in science where men predominate. It was bad enough that the National Science Foundation’s grants paid for workshops featuring a game called Gender Bias Bingo and skits in which arrogant male scientists mistreat smarter female colleagues. But then, these workshops nearly became mandatory when Democrats controlled Congress in 2010. In response to feminist lobbying, the House passed a bill (which fortunately died in the Senate) requiring federal science agencies to hold “gender equity” workshops for the recipients of research grants.

It might seem odd that the “party of science” would be dragging researchers out of the lab to be reeducated in games of Gender Bias Bingo. But politicians will always care more about pleasing constituencies than advancing science.

And that brings us to the second great threat from the Left: its long tradition of mixing science and politics. To conservatives, the fundamental problem with the Left is what Friedrich Hayek called the fatal conceit: the delusion that experts are wise enough to redesign society. Conservatives distrust central planners, preferring to rely on traditional institutions that protect individuals’ “natural rights” against the power of the state. Leftists have much more confidence in experts and the state. Engels argued for “scientific socialism,” a redesign of society supposedly based on the scientific method. Communist intellectuals planned to mold the New Soviet Man. Progressives yearned for a society guided by impartial agencies unconstrained by old-fashioned politics and religion. Herbert Croly, founder of the New Republic and a leading light of progressivism, predicted that a “better future would derive from the beneficent activities of expert social engineers who would bring to the service of social ideals all the technical resources which research could discover.”

This was all very flattering to scientists, one reason that so many of them leaned left. The Right cited scientific work when useful, but it didn’t enlist science to remake society—it still preferred guidance from traditional moralists and clerics. The Left saw scientists as the new high priests, offering them prestige, money, and power. The power too often corrupted. Over and over, scientists yielded to the temptation to exaggerate their expertise and moral authority, sometimes for horrendous purposes.

Drawing on research into genetics and animal breeding from scientists at Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, and other leading universities, the eugenics movement of the 1920s made plans for improving the human population. Professors taught eugenics to their students and worked with Croly and other progressives eager to breed a smarter society, including Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Margaret Sanger. Eventually, other scientists—notably, in England—exposed the shoddy research and assumptions of the eugenicists, but not before the involuntary sterilization or castration of more than 35,000 Americans. Even after Hitler used eugenics to justify killing millions, the Left didn’t lose its interest in controlling human breeding.

Eugenicist thinking was revived by scientists convinced that the human species had exceeded the “carrying capacity” of its ecosystem. The most prominent was Paul Ehrlich, whose scientific specialty was the study of butterflies. Undeterred by his ignorance of agriculture and economics, he published confident predictions of imminent global famine in The Population Bomb (1968). Agricultural economists dismissed his ideas, but the press reverently quoted Ehrlich and other academics who claimed to have scientifically determined that the Earth was “overpopulated.” In the journal Science, ecologist Garrett Hardin argued that “freedom to breed will bring ruin to all.” Ehrlich, who, at one point, advocated supplying American helicopters and doctors to a proposed program of compulsory sterilization in India, joined with physicist John Holdren in arguing that the U.S. Constitution would permit population control, including limits on family size and forced abortions. Ehrlich and Holdren calmly analyzed the merits of various technologies, such as adding sterilants to public drinking water, and called for a “planetary regime” to control population and natural resources around the world.

Their ideas went nowhere in the United States, but they inspired one of the worst human rights violations of the twentieth century, in China: the one-child policy, resulting in coerced abortion and female infanticide. China struggles today with a dangerously small number of workers to support its aging population. The intellectual godfathers of this atrocity, had they been conservatives, surely would have been ostracized. But even after his predictions turned out to be wildly wrong, Ehrlich went on collecting honors.

For his part, Holdren has served for the past eight years as the science advisor to President Obama, a position from which he laments that Americans don’t take his warnings on climate change seriously. He doesn’t seem to realize that public skepticism has a lot to do with the dismal track record of himself and his fellow environmentalists. There’s always an apocalypse requiring the expansion of state power. The visions of global famine were followed by more failed predictions, such as an “age of scarcity” due to vanishing supplies of energy and natural resources and epidemics of cancer and infertility caused by synthetic chemicals. In a 1976 book, The Genesis Strategy, the climatologist Stephen Schneider advocated a new fourth branch of the federal government (with experts like himself serving 20-year terms) to deal with the imminent crisis of global cooling. He later switched to become a leader in the global-warming debate.

Environmental science has become so politicized that its myths endure even after they’ve been disproved. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring set off decades of chemophobia with its scary anecdotes and bad science, like her baseless claim that DDT was causing cancer in humans and her vision of a mass avian die-off (the bird population was actually increasing as she wrote). Yet Silent Spring is taught in high school and college courses as a model of science writing, with no mention of the increased death tolls from malaria in countries that restricted DDT, or of other problems—like the spread of dengue and the Zika virus—exacerbated by needless fears of insecticides. Similarly, the Left’s zeal to find new reasons to regulate has led to pseudoscientific scaremongering about “Frankenfoods,” transfats, BPA in plastic, mobile phones, electronic cigarettes, power lines, fracking, and nuclear energy.

The health establishment spent decades advocating a low-salt diet for everyone (and pressuring the food industry to reduce salt) without any proof that it prolonged lives. When researchers finally got around to doing small clinical trials, they found that the low-salt diet did not prolong lives. If anything, it was associated with higher mortality. The worst debacle in health science involved dietary fat, which became an official public enemy in the 1970s, thanks to a few self-promoting scientists and politically savvy activists who allied with Democrats in Congress led by George McGovern and Henry Waxman. The supposed link between high-fat diets and heart disease was based on cherry-picked epidemiology, but the federal government endorsed it by publishing formal “dietary goals for the United States” and creating the now-infamous food pyramid that encouraged Americans to replace fat in their diets with carbohydrates. The public-health establishment devoted its efforts and funding to demonstrating the benefits of low-fat diets. But the low-fat diet repeatedly flunked clinical trials, and the government’s encouragement of carbohydrates probably contributed to rising rates of obesity and diabetes, as journalists Gary Taubes and Nina Teicholz have chronicled in their books. (See “The Washington Diet,” Spring 2011.)

The dietary-fat debate is a case study in scientific groupthink—and in the Left’s techniques for enforcing political orthodoxy. From the start, prominent nutrition researchers disputed fat’s link to heart disease and criticized Washington for running a dietary experiment on the entire population. But they were dismissed as outliers who’d been corrupted by corporate money. At one hearing, Senator McGovern rebutted the skeptics by citing a survey showing that low-fat diet recommendations were endorsed by 92 percent of “the world’s leading doctors.” Federal bureaucrats and activists smeared skeptics by leaking information to the press about their consulting work with the food industry. One skeptic, Robert Olson of Washington University, protested that during his career, he had received $250,000 from the food industry versus more than $10 million from federal agencies, including ones promoting low-fat diets. If he could be bought, he said, it would be more accurate to call him “a tool of government.” As usual, though, the liberal press focused only on corporate money.

These same sneer-and-smear techniques predominate in the debate over climate change. President Obama promotes his green agenda by announcing that “the debate is settled,” and he denounces “climate deniers” by claiming that 97 percent of scientists believe that global warming is dangerous. His statements are false. While the greenhouse effect is undeniably real, and while most scientists agree that there has been a rise in global temperatures caused in some part by human emissions of carbon dioxide, no one knows how much more warming will occur this century or whether it will be dangerous. How could the science be settled when there have been dozens of computer models of how carbon dioxide affects the climate? And when most of the models overestimatedhow much warming should have occurred by now? These failed predictions, as well as recent research into the effects of water vapor on temperatures, have caused many scientists to lower their projections of future warming. Some “luke-warmists” suggest that future temperature increases will be relatively modest and prove to be a net benefit, at least in the short term.

The long-term risks are certainly worth studying, but no matter whose predictions you trust, climate science provides no justification for Obama’s green agenda—or anyone else’s agenda. Even if it were somehow proved that high-end estimates for future global warming are accurate, that wouldn’t imply that Greens have the right practical solution for reducing carbon emissions—or that we even need to reduce those emissions. Policies for dealing with global warming vary according to political beliefs, economic assumptions, social priorities, and moral principles. Would regulating carbon dioxide stifle economic growth and give too much power to the state? Is it moral to impose sacrifices on poor people to keep temperatures a little cooler for their descendants, who will presumably be many times richer? Are there more important problems to address first? These aren’t questions with scientifically correct answers.

Yet many climate researchers are passing off their political opinions as science, just as Obama does, and they’re even using that absurdly unscientific term “denier” as if they were priests guarding some eternal truth. Science advances by continually challenging and testing hypotheses, but the modern Left has become obsessed with silencing heretics. In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch last year, 20 climate scientists urged her to use federal racketeering laws to prosecute corporations and think tanks that have “deceived the American people about the risks of climate change.” Similar assaults on free speech are endorsed in the Democratic Party’s 2016 platform, which calls for prosecution of companies that make “misleading” statements about “the scientific reality of climate change.” A group of Democratic state attorneys general coordinated an assault on climate skeptics by subpoenaing records from fossil-fuel companies and free-market think tanks, supposedly as part of investigations to prosecute corporate fraud. Such prosecutions may go nowhere in court—they’re blatant violations of the First Amendment—but that’s not their purpose. By demanding a decade’s worth of e-mail and other records, the Democratic inquisitors and their scientist allies want to harass climate dissidents and intimidate their donors.

Just as in the debate over dietary fat, these dissidents get smeared in the press as corporate shills—but once again, the money flows almost entirely the other way. The most vocal critics of climate dogma are a half-dozen think tanks that together spend less than $15 million annually on environmental issues. The half-dozen major green groups spend more than $500 million, and the federal government spends $10 billion on climate research and technology to reduce emissions. Add it up, and it’s clear that scientists face tremendous pressure to support the “consensus” on reducing carbon emissions, as Judith Curry, a climatologist at Georgia Tech, testified last year at a Senate hearing.

“This pressure comes not only from politicians but also from federal funding agencies, universities and professional societies, and scientists themselves who are green activists,” Curry said. “This advocacy extends to the professional societies that publish journals and organize conferences. Policy advocacy, combined with understating the uncertainties, risks destroying science’s reputation for honesty and objectivity—without which scientists become regarded as merely another lobbyist group.”

That’s the ultimate casualty in the Left’s war: scientists’ reputations. Bad research can be exposed and discarded, but bad reputations endure. Social scientists are already regarded in Washington as an arm of the Democratic Party, so their research is dismissed as partisan even when it’s not, and some Republicans have tried (unsuccessfully) to cut off all social-science funding. The physical sciences still enjoy bipartisan support, but that’s being eroded by the green politicking, and climate scientists’ standing will plummet if the proclaimed consensus turns out to be wrong………

Heather Mac (Heather Mac Donald) was on the Dennis Prager Show discussing her new addition to Prager University: “What Does Diversity Have to Do with Science?” (Video after interview, below). Some deeper discussion happens in this interview that compliment the video. BTW, her book, “The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture,” was the best book I read in 2018.

Do you care about the race of your doctor, or the gender of the person who built the bridge you drive across? The latest trend across STEM fields claims you should. Heather Mac Donald, Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of The Diversity Delusion, explains where these destructive ideas are coming from.

California Has Debt, Not Surplus

Dennis Prager interviews California Senator John Moorlach (37th District) about California Assembly Bill 2943, HOWEVER, the conversation started out with budgets and economics. Sen. Moorlach is a CPA after all. This is the section I clipped for use with friends and family that state California is money rich when you speak about our states debt.

Other related audio is here:

Here are half of Senator John Moorlach’s six points in his article entitled, “Budget Primer: 6 Key Measures Of California’s Fiscal Health” (January, 2017):

1. California’s Net Financial Position

California’s “net” unrestricted financial position is a $169 billion deficit ($4,375 per person) according to the most recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

This figure should be positive for healthy organizations. It is derived by tallying the state government’s assets (monetary funds, investments, buildings, roadways, bridges, parks, etc.) and subtracting its obligations. The last positive position California had was during Governor Pete Wilson’s final term where the state had $1.5 billion in unrestricted net assets.

California is now ranked the worst state, below Illinois, whose net position is a negative $143 billion, or $11,174 per person. Illinois’ finances are so bad, they’re telling lottery winners that they may have to delay their payments.

Deferred maintenance for the state’s roads and highways is some $59 billion.

2. Estimates of California Unfunded Pension Liabilities

*NOTE: For the 2015/16 fiscal year, CalPERS planned for a 7.5% rate of return, but only managed to achieve a 0.6% rate of return. Seven percent of a $400 billion liability means a shortfall of $28 billion (some 20% of Governor Brown’s general fund budget.)

3. Current Unfunded Retiree Medical Liability

California has the nation’s highest unfunded retiree medical liability at $74.1 to $80 billion.

A John and Ken reality check (posted January 2017):

John and Ken speak to Marc Joffe of the California Policy Center ( in regard to these recent articles on the subject of California’s fiscal emergency:

One aspect Marc Joffe mentioned would be a way to overcome this “debt” is to increase California’s population… however, we see through some recent stories…

…this is not a viable option… nor will it be as long as Democrats are in charge:

In other words, Californians are doomed if remaining on this course.

See also:

Nicole Gelinas On Free-Market Capitalism vs. “State Capitalism”

In an excellent article entitled:

(Via CITY JOURNAL), it is noted [well] that what many people THINK is the free market is anything but that:

…Free-market capitalism isn’t the same thing as radical libertarianism. Stan Veuger, an American Enterprise Institute scholar and economics lecturer at Harvard, dismisses what he calls “the anarcho-capitalist ideal”: an economy with no regulations and zero taxation. “There are places like Somalia that score well” on such purist definitions of free markets, he points out. To work well, capitalism needs “an environment where people can concentrate on being productive,” rather than, say, having private armies to assure personal safety. Free-market capitalism requires laws and rules, more than ever, now that more people live in close proximity in dense cities than ever before. Human activity leads to disputes, and disputes can be solved, or at least moderated, by resolutions that govern behavior. We often forget that markets don’t make broad public-policy decisions; governments do. Markets allocate resources under a particular policy regime, and they can provide feedback on whether policies are working. If a city, say, restricts building height to preserve sunlight in a public park, free-market actors will take the restricted supply into account, raising building prices. This doesn’t mean that the city made the wrong decision; it means that the city’s voters will risk higher housing prices in order to preserve access to sunlight. By contrast, a city that restricts housing supply and restricts prices via rent regulation is thwarting market signals—it takes an action and then suppresses the direct consequences of that action.


In critical areas of the economy, though, markets are in retreat. Behind the veneer of free-market governance is a deep expanse of government involvement in massive areas of the economy, such as the housing market and health care. People don’t make decisions on housing and health-care concerns every day, but when they do, they would benefit from the information that markets provide about whether they can afford a large house or whether a particular drug is worth the price. Government distortion of these key markets has scrambled these signals.

An annual congressional report, “Estimates of Federal Tax Expenditures,” gives insight into how Washington manipulates supply and demand in these sectors. Consider house prices. This year, Washington will pay homeowners $99 billion in forgone taxes to borrow money to purchase or refinance a house or to sell that house and reap the profit. Americans will buy or sell about $600 billion worth of houses this year. Government subsidy, then, represents nearly one-sixth of this market. The federal government also provides a guarantee for most mortgages, thanks to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-supported mortgage companies that benefited for decades from an implicit government guarantee before they got an explicit guarantee during the 2008 financial crisis.

These subsidies have fired the growth of the housing industry. Between 1975 and 1979, the U.S. Treasury paid out $102.6 billion in mortgage-interest breaks in today’s dollars. Between 2015 and 2019, the Treasury will pay out $419.8 billion in such tax favoritism—a more than fourfold rise, nearly ten times the population increase. The hike is particularly extraordinary, considering that in the late 1970s, the annual interest rate on a mortgage was 9 percent, twice what it is today. Taking today’s lower rates into account, Washington has increased the mortgage subsidy more than eightfold.

It’s no surprise that mortgage debt has soared, to $9.5 trillion, from $2.6 trillion in inflation-adjusted dollars in 1981. Back then, mortgage debt constituted 31 percent of our nation’s GDP. Today, it makes up nearly 53 percent. McCloskey, who thinks that free markets are generally healthy, acknowledges that “there are examples of the price signal not coming through.” The mortgage-interest deduction is “a silly idea,” she says, yet “very hard to change.”

Indeed, government subsidy is a critical factor in whether families can afford to purchase a home, and what kind of home, how large, and in what zip code. The home-mortgage deduction, then, helps determine how people live—yet we barely notice. Few of us consider how the government shapes one of the biggest decisions we’ll ever make, or how the U.S. government’s presence in the housing market maintains the value of our homes.

Housing subsidies that distort individual decisions also affect the biggest investment market in the world: the American housing market is worth $27.5 trillion—more than a tenth of the world’s $250 trillion in total wealth. The government, not capitalism, has determined the value of this market, which, in turn, helps determine the value of other markets: money that goes into this 11 percent of the global asset market can’t go into the other 89 percent. Home values also affect consumer spending. Someone whose home value is rising will feel freer to take on credit-card debt, for example.

Perhaps American house prices should be lower, and people should put their savings into companies that create products and jobs. Or perhaps house prices should be higher, accounting for a growing population, and people should live in smaller homes, spaced more closely together. In turn, perhaps the price of Chinese stocks would be higher, reflecting future growth, if Chinese investors did not divert money into U.S.-backed American housing debt. No one knows, because market signals get obscured.

One can agree or disagree with government jiggering of the housing market. What one cannot do is call it “free-market capitalism.” It is better described as democratic socialism. Americans have embraced government control of one of the world’s most important economic activities.

Free markets are under attack in health care, too, and the trend began long before Obamacare. Critics of our dysfunctional health-care system often blame capitalism for its excesses and distortions. But the health-care “market,” like the housing market, is responding rationally to government signals.

Washington provides massive tax breaks to health care. This year, as noted in Congress’s tax-expenditure report, the government will provide $143.8 billion in federal tax breaks for employers’ coverage of workers’ health insurance—more than the housing-tax break. The health-care subsidy has increased ninefold after inflation since the late 1970s. This tax break means that workers don’t see the full cost of their health-care coverage and thus cannot respond, when the price of health care rises, by demanding lower costs.

In providing Medicare to seniors and Medicaid to poorer people, Washington is the nation’s largest health-care customer, accounting for more than 30 percent of the United States’ annual $3 trillion in health-care spending. The largest customer in any market affects the entire market. Medicare and Medicaid stipulate how much the federal government will pay to hospitals and doctors for visits and surgeries. If hospitals and doctors can’t recover their costs and make an adequate profit under this price schedule, they charge private customers more. Medicare also distorts the price that drugmakers can charge for prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical companies know that their biggest customer is the government of the world’s richest sovereign nation. They have no way of setting market prices.

This past summer saw a health-care episode that, depending on your point of view, might have looked like an example of successful free-market capitalism or uncontrolled capitalist greed. Drugmaker Mylan said that it would increase the price of a decades-old product, the EpiPen allergy shot, to $600. That was the latest in a string of price hikes that have made the EpiPen 400 percent more expensive than when Mylan purchased the product a decade ago. Mylan has quintupled EpiPen’s revenues during that period, Bloomberg News reported, partly through savvy marketing. At one time, doctors prescribed EpiPens only to people with histories of severe allergic reaction. Now, people with more moderate allergies ask their doctors for EpiPens as a preventive measure.

The would-be free-market defense is that Mylan is making a decent profit, giving some people what they need (a lifesaving drug and medical device) and giving others what they want (a sense of security). Under this argument, Mylan can take that profit and invest it in new drug development. The would-be free-market criticism is that Mylan is enriching its executives by taking advantage of people who have no choice but to buy this product.

The reality: Mylan doesn’t operate in a free market, so one can neither praise nor blame markets for the EpiPen price. Mylan could increase prices and sales over a decade because its “customers” weren’t directly paying—most people buy their EpiPen through subsidized private insurance or through Medicare or Medicaid. Mylan could also boost EpiPen sales by petitioning the government for special benefits. Through lobbying, as Bloomberg notes, the company pushed 47 states to stock the pens in schools. And when federal regulations decreed that people should carry EpiPens in packs of two, the company stopped selling single EpiPens.

Lastly, Mylan lacks a competitor. If Mylan were operating in a competitive market, it could not have imposed these price increases, regardless of whether it wanted to invest the profits in new drug research or line its executives’ pockets. If Penguin Books tried to charge $300 for a copy of A Tale of Two Cities, another bookseller would price the tome at $8, and that would be the end of that.

Just as political forces helped shape Mylan’s pricing, politics, not markets, made the company retreat from its latest price increase. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton singled out the drugmaker as “the latest troubling example of a company taking advantage of its consumers.” But Mylan wasn’t exploiting consumers; it was only responding to perverse government signals.

Just as in housing, one can agree or disagree with the U.S. government’s policies in health care. One can argue that the government should pay high prices for drugs to signal to global investors that they can expect big payoffs for taking risks. Or, one can maintain that the government should use its negotiating power to lower prices, as European nations do. One cannot claim that either policy is a free-market one; both are social-democratic positions.

The government’s hand is increasingly busy in other areas of society, too, preventing market signals from coming through. In life’s decisions, getting an education is right up there with buying a house or choosing the right cancer medicine. Yet prospective students don’t determine the free-market value of a particular school’s curriculum through the amount that they are able and willing to pay. Instead, the government distorts this market. Washington provides $2.1 billion a year in tax subsidies for student loans. Just as important, it keeps the interest rates on these loans low by directly lending money to students. This cheap money has inflated the cost of education by giving students more borrowed money with which to pay and by removing any incentive for schools to control expenses. Over the past decade alone, the amount of debt that students owe has more than doubled after inflation, from less than $600 billion in 2005 to $1.4 trillion in mid-2016.

Just as in health care, America saw a striking example of how government, not the market, governs education over the summer. Just before the start of the fall term, ITT, a for-profit college with 35,000 students, said that it was going out of business. It wasn’t for a lack of customers; rather, it was for a lack of federal money backing those customers. Washington had demanded that the company pay much more to participate in the federal student-loan program, to account for, as the government put it, “significant concerns” about ITT’s “integrity, financial viability, and ability to serve students.” The college couldn’t pay, and it shuttered its classrooms. When a school cannot stay open without ceaseless infusions of government-guaranteed tuition payments, it is not operating in a free-market environment (and neither are its for-profit and nonprofit competitors). Just as with housing and health care, one can agree or disagree with government control of the higher-education market. One just can’t call it a free market….

(read the WHOLE article… it is worth it)

Myron Magnet Notes the the Founders Constitutional Intentions vs. Progressives

Here is a clip of a larger article I thoroughly enjoyed via Myron Magnet’s insight into the Constitutions history. I recommend reading the entire piece linked at the end of this clip:

…Much of what the Progressive Era had only hoped for, the New Deal brought into being, transforming America’s constitutional structure in ways that such Pro­gressives as Woodrow Wilson, with his belief that the Founders were antique, bewigged fig­ures with views un­suited to modernity’s more informed and ef­fective age of science, statistics, and profes­sionalism, had urged. –‑

Wilson, argues author Freedman, saw “the Found­ers’ checks and balances as an unnecessary drag on the efficiency of government,” which should be a vast mechanism in which expert bureaucrats with advanced degrees—working altruistically in nonpolitical agencies like the Interstate Commerce Commission, formed in 1887, or the Federal Trade Commission, founded during Wilson’s presi-dency—would smoothly institute what advances in economics and social science would reveal as the common good. In 1908, Wilson swept the Founders and their cobweb-covered Constitution into the dustbin of history. “No doubt a great deal of nonsense has been talked about the inalien­able rights of the individual, and a great deal that was mere vague sentiment and pleasing specula­tion has been put forward as fundamental prin­ciple,” he wrote. By contrast with the Founders’ musty parchment, he continued, “Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and practice.” Can’t get much more up-to-date and sci­entific than evolution.

And so arose the doctrine of the Living Con­stitution, which has now infringed nearly every guarantee of the Bill of Rights, from free speech to federalism. “The chief instrumentality by which the law of the Constitution has been extended to cover the facts of national development has of course been judicial interpretations—the de­cisions of courts,” Wilson wrote. “The process of formal amendment of the Constitution was made so difficult by the . . . Constitution itself that it has seldom been feasible to use it.” So the doughty courts have stepped in and taken over the “whole business of adaptation . . . with open minds, sometimes even with boldness and a touch of audacity,” becoming “more liberal, not to say more lax, in their interpretation than they otherwise would have been.” As Wilson saw it, writes Levin, “the federal judiciary was to be­have as a permanent constitutional convention,” making up the laws as it went along. Of course, at that point, as Lincoln had warned almost half a century earlier, “the people will have ceased to be their own rulers.”

And indeed, it was this magic elixir of judicial constitution-making and rule by administrative agencies that Franklin D. Roosevelt employed to transmute the American political system into one that resembled George III’s system of rulers and subjects as much as it did George Washington’s government….

Myron Magnet, It’s Not Your Founding Fathers’ Republic Any More, City Journal (Summer 2014), 47-48.

See also Myron’s article, Constitution Party, as well as his C-SPAN Book Discussion.

Red and Blue States Eyeballing Federalism Anew

A must read article from the City-Journal:

In February 2013, Utah governor Gary Herbert canceled plans to establish a state-run exchange for individual health insurance, bringing to 34 the number of states opting out of that essential piece of the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, another part of the law, an expansion of Medicaid rolls, is being defied by more than 20 states. Having survived congressional logrolling, Tea Party rallies, a presidential election, and a Supreme Court case, Obamacare may yet be sunk by a resurgent force that many had thought dead: federalism.

The new federalist fervor is coming from both sides of the aisle. Among the governors refusing to create state health-insurance exchanges are two Democrats (in Missouri and Montana), while the Democratic governor of President Obama’s home state, Illinois, is willing only to “partner” with the federal government in setting up an exchange. Nor is the resistance limited to Obamacare. Last November, California’s Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, warned “federal gendarmes” to stop interfering with his state’s medical-marijuana law—echoing former Massachusetts representative Barney Frank, who had championed medical marijuana as a states’ rights issue for years. Such deep-blue states as New York and Massachusetts have tried (unsuccessfully) to block the Secure Communities Act, which requires every arrested person’s fingerprints to be run through federal immigration databases. The Democratic governor of locavore Vermont is locked in a battle with the feds over who gets to determine the future of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant: the state legislature or the presidential appointees on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In March 2012, Yale law professor Heather Gerken took to the pages of Democracy to urge her fellow progressives to embrace federalism because state and local governments were more effective “sites of empowerment for racial minorities and dissenters” than the federal government.

Conservatives may still be the most vocal advocates of greater state autonomy, but federalism is far from a uniquely conservative phenomenon. Indeed, the revival of states’ rights is a movement that has the potential to unite Left and Right while fundamentally changing the balance of power in America.

Political scientists divide American federalism—broadly speaking, the system that divides sovereignty between the federal government and the states—into three eras: dual, cooperative, and coercive. Dual federalism, which lasted from 1789 until the New Deal, reflected the Founders’ original understanding of the state and federal governments as joint sovereigns, each supreme within its own sphere. Article I of the Constitution grants Congress relatively few powers, relating to defense, tariffs, and the like. The Tenth Amendment, added in 1791, clarifies that the states and the people retain all powers not delegated to the central government. Even before the Tenth Amendment, however, James Madison observed in Federalist 45 that the Constitution gave states nearly complete power to pass and enforce laws touching on “the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.” Realizing that individual liberty is at risk whenever political power becomes concentrated in one level or one branch of government, the Constitution’s framers considered federalism, together with the separation of powers, a far more important safeguard of freedom than the Bill of Rights.

During the era of dual federalism, the national government focused on its constitutional duties while the state and local governments tended to the safety and welfare of their residents. The debates of the time would seem quaint today, such as the controversy that raged over Congress’s authority to subsidize infrastructure projects; as president, Madison vetoed a bill providing for roads, canals, and other “internal improvements” as beyond the powers of the federal government. At the end of the nineteenth century, the British historian Lord Acton credited America’s division of power with producing “a community more powerful, more prosperous, more intelligent, and more free than any other the world has seen.”

Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal put an end to dual federalism. At first, the Supreme Court killed off a number of the president’s new programs, but after FDR threatened to install six additional pro-administration justices, it began to change course. In the 1941 case United States v. Darby, which upheld the federal takeover of wage and hour laws, the Court brushed aside the Tenth Amendment as a mere “truism” that didn’t limit the scope of Congress’s powers. Thus was born the era of cooperative federalism, characterized by “a constantly increasing concentration of power at Washington in the stimulation and supervision of local policies,” as FDR advisor Edward Corwin put it. Notwithstanding the federal encroachment on their turf, states often welcomed the new federal programs because they were accompanied by unprecedented grants. Those grants were subject to relatively few conditions; instead, the federal government treated the states as partners in implementing national policy and gave state officials considerable flexibility in carrying out their roles.

The cooperative model began to break down in the 1960s, as Congress attached ever more specific and intrusive conditions to federal aid. The Highway Beautification Act of 1965, for example, told states to follow federal rules for regulating billboards or lose 10 percent of their highway funding. By the 1970s, such conditional grants, combined with unfunded mandates—marching orders that the federal government issues but doesn’t pay for—created the model that persists to this day: coercive federalism.

 …read more…

Heather Mac Donald Writes an Exploratory Surgery on California`s UC System (Excerpt)

Multiculti U

by Heather Mac Donald

@The City Journal

….The first University of California campus opened in Berkeley in 1873, fulfilling a mandate of California’s 1849 constitution that the state establish a public university for the “promotion of literature, the arts and sciences.” Expectations for this new endeavor were high; Governor Henry Haight had predicted that the campus would “soon become a great light-house of education and learning on this Coast, and a pride and glory” of the state.

He was right. Over the next 140 years, as nine more campuses were added, the university would prove an engine for economic growth and a source of human progress. UC owns more research patents than any other university system in the country. Its engineers helped achieve California’s midcentury dominance in aerospace and electronics; its agronomists aided the state’s fecund farms and vineyards. The nuclear technology developed by UC scientists and their students secured America’s Cold War preeminence (while provoking one of the country’s most cataclysmic student protest movements). UC’s physical infrastructure is a precious asset in its own right. Anyone can wander its trellised gardens and groves of native and exotic trees, or browse its library stacks and superb research collections.

But by the early 1960s, UC was already exhibiting many of the problems that afflict it today. The bureaucracy had mushroomed, both at the flagship Berkeley campus and at the Office of the President, the central administrative unit that oversees the entire UC system. Nathan Glazer, who taught sociology at Berkeley at the time, wrote in Commentary in 1965: “Everyone—arriving faculty members, arriving deans, visiting authorities—is astonished by the size” of the two administrations. Glazer noted the emergence of a new professional class: full-time college administrators who specialized in student affairs, had never taught, and had little contact with the faculty. The result of this bureaucratic explosion reminded Glazer of the federal government: “Organization piled upon organization, reaching to a mysterious empyrean height.”

At Berkeley, as federal research money flooded into the campus, the faculty were losing interest in undergraduate teaching, observed Clark Kerr, UC’s president and a former Berkeley chancellor. (Kerr once famously quipped that a chancellor’s job was to provide “parking for the faculty, sex for the students, and athletics for the alumni.”) Back in the 1930s, responsibility for introductory freshman courses had been the highest honor that a Berkeley professor could receive, Kerr wrote in his memoirs; 30 years later, the faculty shunted off such obligations whenever possible to teaching assistants, who, by 1964, made up nearly half the Berkeley teaching corps.

Most presciently, Kerr noted that Berkeley had split into two parts: Berkeley One, an important academic institution with a continuous lineage back to the nineteenth century; and Berkeley Two, a recent political upstart centered on the antiwar, antiauthority Free Speech Movement that had occupied Sproul Plaza in 1964. Berkeley Two was as connected to the city’s left-wing political class and to its growing colony of “street people” as it was to the traditional academic life of the campus. In fact, the two Berkeleys had few points of overlap.

Today, echoing Kerr, we can say that there are two Universities of California: UC One, a serious university system centered on the sciences (though with representatives throughout the disciplines) and still characterized by rigorous meritocratic standards; and UC Two, a profoundly unserious institution dedicated to the all-consuming crusade against phantom racism and sexism that goes by the name of “diversity.” Unlike Berkeley Two in Kerr’s Day, UC Two reaches to the topmost echelon of the university, where it poses a real threat to the integrity of its high-achieving counterpart….


….Yet when UC Two’s administrators and professors look around their domains, they see a landscape riven by the discrimination that it is their duty to extirpate.

Thus it was that UC San Diego’s electrical and computer engineering department found itself facing a mandate from campus administrators to hire a fourth female professor in early 2012. The possibility of a new hire had opened up—a rare opportunity in the current budget climate—and after winnowing down hundreds of applicants, the department put forward its top candidates for on-campus interviews. Scandalously, all were male. Word came down from on high that a female applicant who hadn’t even been close to making the initial cut must be interviewed. She was duly brought to campus for an interview, but she got mediocre reviews. The powers-that-be then spoke again: her candidacy must be brought to a departmental vote. In an unprecedented assertion of secrecy, the department chair refused to disclose the vote’s outcome and insisted on a second ballot. After that second vote, the authorities finally gave up and dropped her candidacy. Both vote counts remain secret.

An electrical and computer engineering professor explains what was at stake. “We pride ourselves on being the best,” he says. “The faculty know that absolute ranking is critical. No one had ever considered this woman a star.” You would think that UC’s administrators would value this fierce desire for excellence, especially in a time of limited resources. Thanks to its commitment to hiring only “the best,” San Diego’s electrical and computer engineering department has made leading contributions to circuit design, digital coding, and information theory.

Maria Sobek, UC Santa Barbara’s associate vice chancellor for diversity, equity, and academic policy and a professor of Chicana and Chicano studies, provides a window into how UC Two thinks about its mission. If a faculty hiring committee selects only white male finalists for an opening, the dean will suggest “bringing in some women to look them over,” Sobek says. These female candidates, she says, “may be borderline, but they are all qualified.” And voilà! “It turns out [the hiring committees] really like the candidates and hire them, even if they may not have looked so good on paper.” This process has “energized” the faculty to hire a woman, says Sobek. She adds that diversity interventions get “more positive responses” from humanities and social-sciences professors than from scientists.

Leave aside Sobek’s amusing suggestion that the faculty just happen to discover that they “really like” the diversity candidate whom the administration has forced on them. More disturbing is the subversion of the usual hiring standard from “most qualified” to “qualified enough.” UC Two sets the hiring bar low enough to scoop in some female or minority candidates, and then declares that anyone above that bar is “qualified enough” to trump the most qualified candidate, if that candidate is a white or an Asian male. This is a formula for mediocrity.

Sometimes, UC Two can’t manage to lower hiring standards enough to scoop in a “diverse” candidate. In that case, it simply creates a special hiring category outside the normal channels. In September 2012, after the meritocratic revolt in UC San Diego’s electrical and computer engineering department, the engineering school announced that it would hire an “excellence” candidate, the school’s Orwellian term for faculty who, it claims, will contribute to diversity and who, by some odd coincidence, always happen to be female or an underrepresented minority. UC San Diego’s Division of Physical Sciences followed suit the next month, listing two tenure-track positions for professors who could “shape and expand the University’s diversity initiatives.” If the division had any specific scientific expertise in mind, the job listing made no mention of it….


….The UC undergraduates whom I met in 2012 were serious, self-directed, and mature. But they are ill-served by a system that devotes so many resources to political trivia. UC Two’s diversity obsessions have no place in an institution dedicated to the development of knowledge. No one today asks whether the Berkeley physics laboratory that developed the cyclotron had a sufficient quota of women and underrepresented minorities; the beneficiaries of nuclear medicine are simply happy to be treated.

The retirement of President Yudof in summer 2013 provides an opportunity for an overdue course correction. Unfortunately, it is doubtful that anyone will seize it. Every potential countervailing force to UC Two has already been captured by UC Two’s own ideology. The California legislature is as strong an advocate for specious social-justice crusades as any vice chancellor for equity and inclusion. The regents have been unanimous cheerleaders for “diversity” and will run all presidential candidates through a predictable gauntlet of diversity interrogation. For more than a decade, the federal government has used its grant-making power to demand color- and gender-driven hiring in the sciences. UC One’s passion for discovery and learning will fuel it for a long time yet, but it will continue to be weakened severely by UC Two.