Friday, July 31, 2015

These Black Lives Also Matter


I just finished reading a book that has affected me greatly. Ghettoside, by Jill Leovy, a crime reporter at the LA Times, is the story of the murder of an 18 year old boy in Southeast Los Angeles, and the heroic and successful efforts of one detective to bring the killers to justice. The story, which reads like a thriller even though the end is known, serves as the backdrop for Leony's thesis that the ongoing violence in poor segregated neighborhoods is the direct result of the  State's failure to control that violence through effective policing. In between riveting vignettes of the crime and the subsequent investigation, she recounts the long and dismal history of black-on-black murder and the larger indifference of white society, a reality that extends as far back as the end of Reconstruction. It is that indifference, combined with policing tactics that focus on petty crimes and rely on harassment as a means of crime prevention, that have produced an "underground law" of that honors block-to-block tribalism and promotes reprisal in a society that that more closely resembles a medieval revenge culture than an post enlightenment society.

The statistics alone are appalling; African American men between the ages of 18-30 are murdered at a rate 15 times greater than whites; even now, with the marked decline in murder rates, more than half of the killings in LA occurred in just 2 precincts in South Los Angeles. At the height of the murder epidemic in the early 90s, less than 40% of killings were solved.

But what is far more affecting than statistics are the heart rending accounts of the effect upon the survivors; the loved ones whose lives decay in a waking death full of grief. Several passages left me heaving in agony. Violence is a scourge upon these communities, a soul breaking, life destroying plague no less destructive than cholera or a tidal wave.

Some elements of Leovy's thesis withstand scrutiny with difficulty. Her analysis most critically does not explain the marked drop in violent crime in the absence of any real improvement in the efficacy of crime solving. She also gives little examination or counter weight to the widely held belief that crime prevention tactics, such as gang units, are an effective deterrent. Still,her account convinced me that along with effective reductions in teen pregnancy, effective control of violence is a key element in improving the lives of the poor. These black lives also matter.



Thursday, July 30, 2015

Trump vs. Scrooge McDuck


The Federalist has a great piece on Trump. Well worth the view.


Winner And Losers


Your impressive catalog of analyses of the likely consequences of the raising the minimum wage deserves praise. There's no question that such a policy will produce winners and losers. The widely quoted CBO analysis  (next to last in your list) see the tradeoff in these terms

Increasing the minimum wage would have two principal effects on low-wage workers. Most of them would receive higher pay that would increase their family’s income, and some of those families would see their income rise above the federal poverty threshold. But some jobs for low-wage workers would probably be eliminated, the income of most workers who became jobless would fall substantially, and the share of low-wage workers who were employed would probably fall slightly.

So, if  the CBO analysis is right, poverty for some (I believe the specific figure is about 900,000), would improve, and worsen for others.

The larger problem is the arbitrariness of how the latest effort (a 1$5 minimum for fast food workers) rewards those winners and losers. This may be gratifying politics for the left, but it is poor public policy. As our favorite newspaper points out today in the Upshot section:

A wage increase applying to such a narrow segment of the economy is bound to have unintended consequences...

Some of the problems with a narrow minimum wage are obvious. It doesn’t do much to raise incomes for workers who don’t work at fast-food chains. And it imposes higher costs on some businesses than others ...

The rule could cause business owners to change their business models to avoid the higher minimum wage....

Economists call these changes “distortions,” and they cause two kinds of problems. One, fewer workers get a raise as a result of the minimum wage. Two, it encourages businesses to do things that customers may not prefer...

I would prefer a universal increase in the minimum wage, as you know. I think it would do much more good than harm. I am skeptical of the current piecemeal approach


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Maybe Rick Perry Can do For America What He's Done For Texas


One can't fail to be impressed by the eloquence of Governor Perry's remarks. As the longest serving governor in Texas history he certainly has a record to run on.

Indicator                                                              Texas Rank Among the States (highest to lowest)

Employment Rate                                                       15

Education Achievement                                              39

Percentage of high school graduates                            50

High School Graduation Rate                                      44

Percent minimum wage earners                                      1

Percentage with health insurance                                   50

Percentage living in poverty                                            4

Home insurance Rates                                                  50

Infant Mortality                                                             30

Murder rate                                                                   23

Execution Rate                                                               2



Monday, July 27, 2015

At a Minimum. I Doubt this Will Convince You


I doubt this, or this, or this, or this, or this, or this, or this,  or this,  or this, or this, or this, or this, or this, will convince you, and I'm sure you could come up with your own set of this's, but it's worth glancing at anyway.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

One of Mrs. Clinton's More Obvious Attributes


I thought this statement from Mrs. Clinton hilarious:

"Clearly I'm not asking people to vote for me simply because I'm a woman," presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said in West Columbia, South Carolina on Thursday. "I'm asking people to vote for me on the merits. And I think one of the merits is I am a woman and I can bring those views and perspectives to the White House."
Even better was Andrea Mitchell's comment after playing the video clip, "That's actually, one of her more obvious attributes." Seems, actually, an obviously sexist remark to me.