Tidbits Political Quotations
To Accompany the August 16, 2016 edition of Tidbits
Bob Jensen at
Trinity University

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Thank you Burgine Streetman


Do Terrorists Ever Win?
ensen Question
Do terrorists ever lose?
I think the answer to that is these days they never lose for any sizeable number of terrorists. Exhibit A is the Taliban. The war in Afghanistan with the Taliban is mostly a war over control over narcotics revenue. As long as there's a fortune in growing poppies there will be terror in Afghanistan in a war over the drug trade. Terrorism is worse today because weapons of terror got cheap and effective. Terroists are worse because they really do think there are 78 virgins waiting for them on the other side.


It's hard to beat a person who never gives up.

Babe Ruth, Historic Home Run Hitter
What's sad is to witness what Syria has become because nobody will give up.

And "because they're nonstate actors, it's hard for us to get the satisfaction of [Gen.] MacArthur and the [Japanese] Emperor [Hirohito] meeting and the war officially being over," Obama observed, referencing the end of World War II.
President Barack Obama when asked if the USA of the future will be perpetually engaged in war.

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
T.S. Eliot

Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
Margaret Wheatley

We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
Joseph Campbell

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.
George S. Patton

If you don't know where you're going, you might not get there.
Yogi Berra

Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.
Henry David Thoreau

But the latest predictable outrage is that DePaul University has banned Ben Shapiro from appearing on campus, under the ludicrous and specious pretense of "security concerns." If there are security concerns, neither Shapiro nor his admirers are causing them. As Shapiro's sponsor, Young America's Foundation said, "Make no mistake, any security concerns we face on campuses are 100 percent incited by the censorious, intolerant left."
Jensen Comment
The :intolerant left" includes most of Depaul's faculty as well as students.
Ben Shapiro is just not politically correct for campuses in the USA.

Stanley Fish --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Fish

For many years, Stanley Fish has been one of my heroes and role models ---
The world needs more Fish tales.

Professor Fish is sometimes incorrectly given credit for the phrase "political correctness." Perhaps he should be given credit, however, for a willingness to stand up against the tide of politcal correctness that swamped our academy.

August 5, 2016 reply from Tom Selling

Use of “politically correct” is a pet peeve of mine.

The irony of using “politically correct” as a code word is that it was coined (to the best of my knowledge) by Lenin to indicate correspondence with communist orthodoxy. It’s popularity in U.S. discourse was probably fueled by radio shock jocks who, rather than deal with facts, stirred up resentment from the listening audience via coarse analogies to communism in response to any “liberal” suggestion that government might participate in solving a socio-economic problem. I don’t think users today realize how deeply the term should be regarded as an insult.

This is somewhat of an aside, but a recent personal experience: I spent a lot of time last week (on RAGBRAI — www.ragbrai.com) with a native German speaker who preferred conversing with me in German, even though he was fluent in English. During one discussion, I used the word “Lebensraum,” a perfectly ordinary word, in a perfectly ordinary sense. But, my German friend was aghast. Since “Lebensraum” was a central concept of naziism, the term is no longer acceptable in polite conversation.

That is the way I feel about “politically correct.” Notwithstanding whether Stanley Fish, whom I admire greatly for his principles and his intellect, used the term, I do not regard “politically correct” as acceptable in polite conversation.

August 6. 2016 reply from Bob Jensen
Hi Tom,

Allan Bloom --- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_Bloom

Sometimes a term like "political correctness" is deemed more acceptable after there is frequent use of it in the academic literature. For example this phrase is extensively used in Allan Bloom's 1987 book The Closing of the American Mind ---

The banning of conservative writers from college campuses but not liberal/progressive writers is an example of just what Allan Bloom was referring to over and over in his classic book.

I repeat:
Is there currently a liberal/progressive speaker that would be banned from the campus of Depaul University because of the possibility that liberal/progressive viewpoints would be advocated?

I always admired Trinity University because of the spectrum of speakers that came to campus from Milton Friedman to Michael Moore. During Milton Friedman's speech his very tiny wife Rose walked down the aisle and tapped a heckler lightly with her shoe. Even Trinity's most liberal scholars left with their heads shaking in dismay after Michael Moore's inflammatory speech. But in my 24 years on that campus I cannot remember an incident where the audience was not polite. Yeah there were a few occasions where security had to remove a heckler from the audience, but this was infrequent. Once a small heckler group had to be removed during a speech by Henry Kissinger. But these were not local hecklers. There was a group of stalkers that followed Kissinger to heckle wherever he went in life. .



For four years, William Styron pushed his No. 2 pencil across the page, writing The Confessions of Nat Turner. He'd “unwittingly created one of the first politically incorrect texts of our time” ---

Marx’s views were occasionally prescient, often wrong-headed, sometimes repugnant. But they had little in common with what later came to be understood as Marxism.---

Wind Power is Proving to Be a Bad Deal (largely because of the hidden fees and employment losses) ---

... Salon: The Iran Deal Is A Disaster–And Obama Is To Blame ---
Jensen Comment
What makes this significant is that Salon is one of the most liberal, anti-capitalist Websites in the world.

House Task Force Confirms: ISIS Threat Was Altered in Intelligence Reports For Political Purposes ---
Jensen Comment
What makes this significant is that the Daily Beast is one of the most liberal, anti-capitalist Websites in the world.

What a recent call to get historians to become political advisers gets wrong ---

In Philadelphia, where the Democratic Party held its national convention, the public schools spent a total of $18,241 per student in the 2011-2012 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education. In Detroit, where Donald Trump gave a speech on his economic policies this week, the public schools spent a total of $18,361 per student that year. In Washington, D.C., where the federal government makes its home, it was $23,980 . . . Nationwide, public elementary and secondary schools spent $12,010 per student in the 2011-2012 school year. But, in 2015, 68 percent of public-school eighth graders nationwide were not grade-level proficient in math and 67 percent were not grade-level proficient in reading.---

Department of Defense Inspector General’s report, Released Last week Reveals the Pentagon Doesn’t Know Where $6.5 Trillion Dollars Has Gone ---
Jensen Comment
Accounting is so bad in the Pentagon that the GAO says in-depth audits of the Pentagon are impossible. Only the public sector can get away with not having audits.

Michio Kaku on Why Immigrants Are America’s Secret Weapon: They Compensate for Our Mediocre STEM Education & Keep Prosperity Going ---
Jensen Comment
Michio ignores the recent higher proportions of documented and undocumented immigrants have no labor skills. He also fails to note job openings in the USA are scarce in most STEM fields even for candidates with Ph.D. credentials. Medical field STEM work is an exception, especially for clinical experts. Immigrants in non-stem fields often like law, tax accounting, and auditing face enormous barriers due to lack of education and experience. Michio badly overstates his case in a non-academic way.

in tThe DNC email leaks expose the rampant elitism that made way for Trump ---

Hillary Clinton is using conservative rhetoric to lay out a remarkably liberal agenda ---

Influence at the DNC: More than 60 superdelegates are registered lobbyists ---

Hillary Clinton slapped with dreaded Washington Post 'Four Pinocchios' rating for false claim about FBI director ---
Also see

Benghazi families sue Clinton for wrongful death, defamation ---

101 of Donald Trump's Greatest Lies ---

We need to cleanse Donald Trump supporters from the USA
Actor Will Smith

NY Times: Brookings, Other Think Tanks Push Donors’ Agendas, Calling Their Objectivity And Tax-Exempt Status Into Question ---

During a speech in Cincinnati on Monday, Jill Stein (Green Party Presidential Candidate) explained “how clean energy, student loan forgiveness, free higher education and safer streets were all possible by drastically reducing military spending, reallocating subsidies and creating a truth and reconciliation commission to address the ‘the living legacy of slavery,’” according to Cincinnati.com. Stein was also critical of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, saying, "It's not just Donald Trump that would create chaos around the world. What Trump talks about, Hillary has already done."
Jensen Comment
Ms. Stein proposes spending trillions of dollars with no viable plans for funding such lavish spending. For example she argues that student loan foregiveness will come back to the government in the form of income tax collections. She does not mention that half of US taxpayers pay $0 income taxes and an even higher proportion of "taxpayers" with student loans pay $0 income taxes. The net cost of student loan foregiveness becomes trillions added to the other trillions she proposing spending such things as the "living legacy of slavery."

Over 90% of the USA voters did not even vote in the primary elections ---
Jensen Comment
This trend may continue in the November 2016 elections. It may not matter in the presidential race, but it matters a lot in some local races for national and state legislators.

According to Olympic legend, hosting the Games is an economic boon for the chosen city and country. In reality, the Games are more often a boondoggle, as Rio de Janeiro is finding out ---

Wikileaks has claimed another scalp. Democratic National Committee CEO Ann Dacey has decided to step down, according to Politico ---

Fonda & Redford: Hollywood's New Welfare Mooches ---

Rob Reiner: Trump’s Comments Dangerous Because His Followers Have ‘Violent Nature’ ---
Jensen Comment
Sorry Rob, the protestors (especially those out to hurt the police and students/faculty protesters on campuses) are almost all against Trump.

Animated map shows the most dangerous countries in the world for tourists ---

Special Volunteers on the Ends of the Spectrum of Life

Those volunteers running about a hospital in colored vests are usually retirees. The greet people, answer telephones, and push wheel chair patients about the hospital. In addition to the satisfaction of being useful, they are rewarded with friendships among other volunteers, patients, and staff.

Not so well known are the companions in nursing homes. They are usually retirees who volunteer to make conversations with lonely patients in lawns, porches, and reception areas. Often they read aloud to listeners who doze off a lot.

Even lesser known are the volunteer touchers and holders.
My closest nearby neighbor is a retired cardiologist. He and his wife only occasionally visit their mountain home. They spend most of their days in all seasons at their main home in a coastal suburb of Boston. When the good doctor drives up alone to check on his house it's become routine that he and I to go out to dinner. We sit for hours solving almost all the problems of the world (in theory).

The other evening this retired physician told me he's in training to be a volunteer "toucher and a holder." He lives near a hospital where over 2,400 babies per year commence life. Some of these babies are drug addicts at the time of birth. The best therapy during their agony of withdrawal symptoms is to be touched and held almost continuously. This is where those wonderful trained volunteers come into action.

So this morning I would like to thank all the retirees around the world who give their time and talents to volunteer work. Special thanks to those who volunteer to help at the ends of the spectrum of life.


To Whom Does the USA Federal Government Owe Money (the booked obligation of $19+ trillion) ---
The US Debt Clock in Real Time --- http://www.usdebtclock.org/ 
Remember the Jane Fonda Movie called "Rollover" --- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rollover_(film)

To Whom Does the USA Federal Government Owe Money (the unbooked obligation of $100 trillion and unknown more in contracted entitlements) ---
The biggest worry of the entitlements obligations is enormous obligation for the future under the Medicare and Medicaid programs that are now deemed totally unsustainable ---

Entitlements are two-thirds of the federal budget. Entitlement spending has grown 100-fold over the past 50 years. Half of all American households now rely on government handouts. When we hear statistics like that, most of us shake our heads and mutter some sort of expletive. That’s because nobody thinks they’re the problem. Nobody ever wants to think they’re the problem. But that’s not the truth. The truth is, as long as we continue to think of the rising entitlement culture in America as someone else’s problem, someone else’s fault, we’ll never truly understand it and we’ll have absolutely zero chance...
Steve Tobak ---

"These Slides Show Why We Have Such A Huge Budget Deficit And Why Taxes Need To Go Up," by Rob Wile, Business Insider, April 27, 2013 ---
This is a slide show based on a presentation by a Harvard Economics Professor.

Peter G. Peterson Website on Deficit/Debt Solutions ---

Bob Jensen's threads on entitlements --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Entitlements.htm

Bob Jensen's health care messaging updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Health.htm

How Did Hitler Rise to Power? : New TED-ED Animation Provides a Case Study in How Fascists Get Democratically Elected ---
Jensen Comment
I wonder why this was released just now? Dah!

Senate Bill Proposes Shot in Arm for Career and Technical Education ---

Clinton, Trump Tax Return News --- http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/08/more-on-trumps-tax-returns.html
Note the links to many media reports following the release of the Clinton tax returns

Stanley Fish --- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Fish

"Professors, Stop Opining About Trump," by Stanley Fish, The New York Times, July 15, 2016 ---

PROFESSORS are at it again, demonstrating in public how little they understand the responsibilities and limits of their profession.

On Monday a group calling itself Historians Against Trump published an Open Letter to the American People.” The purpose of the letter, the historians tell us, is to warn against “Donald J. Trump’s candidacy and the exceptional challenges it poses to civil society.” They suggest that they are uniquely qualified to issue this warning because they “have a professional obligation as historians to share an understanding of the past upon which a better future may be built.”

Or in other words: We’re historians and you’re not, and “historians understand the impact these phenomena have upon society’s most vulnerable.” Therefore we can’t keep silent, for “the lessons of history compel us to speak out against Trump.”

I would say that the hubris of these statements was extraordinary were it not so commonplace for professors (not all but many) to regularly equate the possession of an advanced degree with virtue. The claim is not simply that disciplinary expertise confers moral and political superiority, but that historians, because of their training, are uniquely objective observers: “As historians, we consider diverse viewpoints while acknowledging our own limitations and subjectivity.”

But there’s very little acknowledgment of limitations and subjectivity in what follows, only a rehearsal of the now standard criticisms of Mr. Trump, offered not as political opinions, which they surely are, but as indisputable, impartially arrived at truths: “Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is a campaign of violence: violence against individuals and groups; against memory and accountability, against historical analysis and fact.” How’s that for cool, temperate and disinterested analysis?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that this view of Mr. Trump is incorrect; nor am I saying that it is on target: only that it is a view, like anyone else’s. By dressing up their obviously partisan views as “the lessons of history,” the signatories to the letter present themselves as the impersonal transmitters of a truth that just happens to flow through them. In fact they are merely people with history degrees, which means that they have read certain books, taken and taught certain courses and written scholarly essays, often on topics of interest only to other practitioners in the field.

While this disciplinary experience qualifies them to ask and answer discipline-specific questions, it does not qualify them to be our leaders and guides as we prepare to exercise our franchise in a general election. Academic expertise is not a qualification for delivering political wisdom.

Nor is it their job, although they seem to think it is: “It is all of our jobs to fill the voids exploited by the Trump campaign.” (I’m not sure that I understand what that grandiose sentence means.) No, it’s their job to teach students how to handle archival materials, how to distinguish between reliable and unreliable evidence, how to build a persuasive account of a disputed event, in short, how to perform as historians, not as seers or political gurus.

I would have no problem with individuals, who also happened to be historians, disseminating their political conclusions in an op-ed or letter to the editor; but I do have a problem when a bunch of individuals claim for themselves a corporate identity and more than imply that they speak for the profession of history.

There are at least two things wrong with this claim. First, it couldn’t possibly be true unless it were the case that no credentialed historian is a Trump supporter; even one or two (and I bet there are a lot more than that) would spoil the broth. Second, and more important, the profession of history shouldn’t be making political pronouncements of any kind. Its competence lies elsewhere, in the discipline-specific acts I identified above.

Were an academic organization to declare a political position, it would at that moment cease to be an academic organization and would have turned itself — as the Historians Against Trump turn themselves — into a political organization whose arguments must make their way without the supposed endorsement and enhancement of an academic pedigree. Its members would be political actors who share the accidental feature of having advanced degrees. But it’s not the degrees, which are finally inessential, but the strength or weakness of the arguments that will tell in the end.

If academics are wrong to insert themselves into the political process under the banner of academic expertise, is Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrong when she makes unflattering remarks about Mr. Trump at a conference and in an interview? Maybe so (indeed, she herself has expressed regret for the comments), but she has not committed the same transgression as the historians. Justice Ginsburg was speaking off the cuff, offering her opinion on a matter currently in the news, as any citizen has a right to do. She did not cite or trade on the trappings of her office; she did not proclaim from the bench.

 Continued in article

How to Mislead With Statistics

The following two articles show how economists can put two different spins on the same data (something that seems to be taught in social sciences in general whenever politics gets involved).

The City of Seattle hired a group of economists to study the transitory impact of minimum wage hikes on labor and business firms in Seattle. I say "transitory" because the wage hikes are being phased in and won't reach the $15 level until

The Study
July 2016

This report presents the short-run effects of the Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance on the Seattle labor market. The Seattle Minimum Wage study team at the University of Washington analyzed administrative records on employment, hours, and earnings from the Washington Employment Security Department to address two fundamental questions: 1) How has Seattle’s labor market performed since the City passed the Minimum Wage Ordinance, and particularly since the first wage increase phased in on April 1, 2015? 2) What are the short-run effects of the Minimum Wage Ordinance on Seattle’s labor market? While quite similar at first glance, these two questions address very different issues and require very different methods to answer. The first question can be studied with a simple before/after comparison. Although the comparison is simple, it risks conflating the impact of the minimum wage with other local trends. Many things have happened in Seattle’s labor market since June 2014, most of them having little or nothing to do with the minimum wage itself. The City has enjoyed steady expansion in tech sector employment, and a construction boom fueled by rising residential and commercial property prices. Even the weather – a key determinant of economic activity in the Puget Sound region – was favorable in 2015, with record-low precipitation in the early months of the $11 minimum wage. The before-after comparison can tell us the net impact of all these simultaneous trends, but this comparison cannot distinguish among them. Our second question – the more important one for purposes of evaluating the policy – aims to isolate the impact of the minimum wage from all the other regional trends seen over the same time period. Whereas the first question asks “are we better off than we were when Seattle raised the minimum wage” and requires only a simple comparison of yesterday to today, the second asks “are we better off than we would have been if Seattle had not adopted a higher minimum wage?” To answer it requires imagining how the local economy would look in absence of a Minimum Wage Ordinance. While it is impossible to directly observe what would have happened if no wage ordinance had been implemented, this report uses widely accepted statistical techniques to compare Seattle in its current state—with the presence of the Minimum Wage Ordinance—to an image of what Seattle might have looked like today if not for the Minimum Wage Ordinance. We take advantage of data going back to 2005 to build a model of the way Seattle’s labor market typically works. We also take advantage of data on nearby regions that did not increase the minimum wage to better understand how other factors might have influenced what we observe in the City itself.

3 In this report, we present findings on wages, workers, jobs, and establishments. Our findings can be summarized as follows: Wages:  The distribution of wages shifted as expected.  The share of workers earning less than $11 per hour declined sharply.  This decline began shortly after the ordinance was passed.  However, similar declines were seen outside of Seattle, suggesting an improving economy may be the cause of the change in the distribution of wages. Low-Wage Workers:  In the 18 months after the Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance passed, the City of Seattle’s lowest-paid workers experienced a significant increase in wages.  The typical worker earning under $11/hour in Seattle when the City Council voted to raise the minimum wage in June 2014 (“low-wage workers”) earned $11.14 per hour by the end of 2015, an increase from $9.96/hour at the time of passage.  The minimum wage contributed to this effect, but the strong economy did as well. We estimate that the minimum wage itself is responsible for a $0.73/hour average increase for low-wage workers.  In a region where all low-wage workers, including those in Seattle, have enjoyed access to more jobs and more hours, Seattle’s low-wage workers show some preliminary signs of lagging behind similar workers in comparison regions.  The minimum wage appears to have slightly reduced the employment rate of low-wage workers by about one percentage point. It appears that the Minimum Wage Ordinance modestly held back Seattle’s employment of low-wage workers relative to the level we could have expected.  Hours worked among low-wage Seattle workers have lagged behind regional trends, by roughly four hours per quarter (nineteen minutes per week), on average.  Low-wage individuals working in Seattle when the ordinance passed transitioned to jobs outside Seattle at an elevated rate compared to historical patterns.  Seattle’s low-wage workers did see larger-than-usual paychecks (i.e., quarterly earnings) in late 2015, but most— if not all—of that increase was due to a strong local economy.  Increased wages were offset by modest reductions in employment and hours, thereby limiting the extent to which higher wages directly translated into higher average earnings.  At most, 25% of the observed earnings gains—around a few dollars a week, on average—can be attributed to the minimum wage.  Seattle’s low-wage workers who kept working were modestly better off as a result of the Minimum Wage Ordinance, having $13 more per week in earnings and working 15 minutes less per week.

4 Jobs:  Overall, the Seattle labor market was exceptionally strong over the 18 months from mid2014 to the end of 2015.  Seattle’s job growth rate tripled the national average between mid-2014 and late 2015.  This job growth rate outpaced Seattle’s own robust performance in recent years.  Surrounding portions of King County also had a very good year; the boom appears to fade with geographic distance.  Job growth is clearly driven by increased opportunities for higher-wage workers, but businesses relying on low-wage labor showed better-than-average growth as well.  For businesses that rely heavily on low-wage labor, our estimates of the impact of the Ordinance on the number of persistent jobs are small and sensitive to modeling choices. Our estimates of the impact of the Ordinance on hours per employee more consistently indicate a reduction of roughly one hour per week.  Fewer hours per employee could reflect higher turnover rather than cutbacks in staffing.  Reductions in hours are consistent with the experiences of low-wage workers. Establishments:  We do not find compelling evidence that the minimum wage has caused significant increases in business failure rates. Moreover, if there has been any increase in business closings caused by the Minimum Wage Ordinance, it has been more than offset by an increase in business openings. In sum, Seattle’s experience shows that the City’s low-wage workers did relatively well after the minimum wage increased, but largely because of the strong regional economy. Seattle’s low wage workers would have experienced almost equally positive trends if the minimum wage had not increased. Although the minimum wage clearly increased wages for this group, offsetting effects on low-wage worker hours and employment muted the impact on labor earnings. We strongly caution that these results show only the short-run impact of Seattle’s increase to a wage of $11/hour, and that they do not reflect the full range of experiences for tens of thousands of individual workers in the City economy. These are “average” effects which could mask critical distinctions between workers in different categories. Our future work will extend analysis to 2016, when Seattle’s minimum wage increased a second time and began to distinguish between businesses of different sizes and industries. It will also incorporate more detailed information about workers by linking employment records to other state databases. This will give us a greater capacity to answer key questions, such as whether the workers benefiting most from higher minimum wages are more likely to be living in poverty. We are also in the process of collecting additional survey information from Seattle businesses and conducting interviews with a worker sample tracked since early 2015. The next report, expected in September, will focus specifically on how the minimum wage has affected nonprofit organizations.

Continued in article

Spin From Investors Business Daily
The Bitter Lesson From Seattle's Minimum Wage Hike
August 10, 2016

Spin From a Respected, Albeit Very Liberal Economist --- Jared Bernsten
So far, the Seattle minimum-wage increase is doing what it’s supposed to do
August 10, 2016

Jensen Comment
The issue of minimum wage became an enormous political issue when the workers receiving the wage changed. When I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s and those McJobs having low pay were primarily intended to be temporary jobs where students could earn a little outside the classroom and where younger people in general could get a start in the work place. Nobody with normal capabilities intended to make careers out of those very low paying McJobs. Somewhere along the way things changed to where now those McJobs became careers for many folks who are not destined for bigger and better careers in the economy. With that change came increasing demands to increase the minimum wage to a more suitable wage for longer-term careers.

The real question that the Seattle study is trying to answer is whether raising the minimum wage in Seattle had a positive or negative impact on employers, employees, and low-skilled unemployed. The answer seems to be varied (depending upon what economist and what workers you consult.) Impact on is hard to isolate statistically because Seattle is a relative boom town due to the high tech economic sector. Thus just because a lot of McJob employers are still thriving is confounded by the boom times apart from the minimum wage increase. McJob employers are likely to be hit harder in communities having less boom success in general. Also the wage increases are being phased in over time (until 2021)such that there is not one big boom to study.

It's hard judge impact on some McJob employers in very large or otherwise isolated communities relative to those surrounded by competition not required to raise minimum wage. For example, restaurant customers in in Seattle are not likely to go elsewhere because their favorite restaurant had to raise prices slightly. Restaurant customers on the very edge of Seattle might drive a bit further for better prices.

Thus the impact of the Seattle's minimum wage hike focuses more on labor/employment impact than on employer impact. And herein commences the lying or possible lying with statistics. I would dwell on all the issues since you can read them for your self in the above links.

Personally, I think the $15 minimum wage eventually is a good idea in a high cost city like Seattle.

But I would like to conclude with what I think is trickery in Jared Bernstein's rejoinder. He skirts important issues like how entry level employees without skills (like students in need of part-time jobs and employees who messed up their early years (e.g., with drugs and crime) get a start without higher turnover in the minimum wage jobs that open up entry-level jobs.

At times he totally ignores the study's findings such as:

 The distribution of wages shifted as expected.
 The share of workers earning less than $11 per hour declined sharply.
 This decline began shortly after the ordinance was passed.
 However, similar declines were seen outside of Seattle, suggesting an improving economy may be the cause of the change in the distribution of wages.

Second he seems to imply without more data or foresight that in larger firms the minimum wage is an even better idea than it is at fast-food restaurants. What he fails to note that it is in the larger firms where robotics alternatives to low-paying jobs are exploding. :

Wal-Mart Has An Army Of Robots That Pick, Pack, and Send in Their 130 Distribution Centers ---

McJobs in those Wal-Mart distribution centers have already disappeared with advances in robotics. Perhaps this was inevitable but eliminating McJobs with higher minimum wages will speed up job sacrices to robots and drive more and more low skilled workers to welfare rolls and crime.

Also see
The Automated Wal-Mart:  A Thoght Experiment

The Seattle experiment is hard to extrapolate to every town and city in the USA. I think higher minimum wages where the cost of living is very high is probably a good idea. For example, the cost of living is even high in the suburbs of Seattle and San Francisco. But the same minimum wage successes for those metropolitan areas can be a disaster in rural America where the job losses are likely to be enormous, For example, down the road from our mountain cottage is an old fashioned hardware store that is already struggling to compete with stores 10 miles away (in Littleton, NH), stores like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Lowes. A $15 minimum wage might close the doors on my favorite and struggling little hardware store that now makes almost zero profit. The workers in this store are typically part-time spouses who supplement the family income with a bit of added wage within walking distance of the store.

The main conclusion from this illustration is that professional economists cannot agree on much of anything!

At this point most of my liberal/progressive friends wish I would stop mentioning the IRS scandal. They assume this is only a manifestation of conservatives in the USA Senate who contend that the IRS tilted the relatively narrow 2012 presidential election toward Barack Obama.

But as I predicted the more bipartisan courts are finally making some decisions in this regard.

The IRS has so far evaded accountability for its political targeting of conservative groups, but the courts haven’t been forgiving when they’ve considered the issue. On Friday the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals gave the agency its latest comeuppance, reviving lawsuits by dozens of groups discriminated against by the IRS. In a 22-page ruling by Judge David Sentelle, a unanimous three-judge panel ruled that since it is “plain” to all parties including the Treasury Inspector General and a lower federal court that the IRS “cannot defend its discriminatory conduct on the merits, the governing issue is now whether the controversy is moot. The district court held that it was; we conclude that it is not.

. . .

The court’s opinion applies to Linchpins of Liberty et al. v. U.S. as well as True the Vote, Inc. v. IRS. The decision remanded the cases to the district court for further proceedings but the Obama Administration may further delay discovery by appealing to the full D.C. Circuit, which the White House has stacked with friendly judges. Stay tuned

According to the Washington Post one out of every 20 physicians in the USA is Muslim ---

The IRS Scandal, Day 1180
World Tribune, ‘Smoking-Gun Documents’ Show IRS Knew About Targeting of Conservatives Before 2012 Election:---

Top IRS officials knew the agency was targeting conservatives because of their ideology and political affiliation two years before disclosing it to Congress and the public, according to a Judicial Watch report released on July 28.

“Senior IRS officials knew that agents were targeting conservative groups for special scrutiny as early as 2011,” the report said.

Lois Lerner revealed the targeting in May 2013 when she responded to a planted question at an American Bar Association conference.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Lois Lerner continues to refuse to testify whether or not the conservative targeting was at the behest of somebody in the Whitehouse (not necessarily President Obama who was up for re-election).

The IRS admits to destroying the evidence in Virginia that might answer the question of who instigated the targeting of the conservative fund raising groups.

It would become a tremendous scandal if the Whitehouse manipulated the IRS or any other government agency to aid in the election of a USA President. But without testimony and other evidence the genuine scandal cannot be proven. The shadow of scandal will probably last long into history after President Obama leaves office. By not investigating the scandal himself he has not cleared his own record.

Here's An Illustration of Grade Inflation

"Nearly Half Of Detroit’s Adults Are Functionally Illiterate, Report Finds," Huffington Post, July 8, 2013 ---

Detroit’s population fell by 25 percent in the last decade. And of those that stuck around, nearly half of them are functionally illiterate, a new report finds.

According to estimates by The National Institute for Literacy, roughly 47 percent of adults in Detroit, Michigan — 200,000 total — are “functionally illiterate,” meaning they have trouble with reading, speaking, writing and computational skills. Even more surprisingly, the Detroit Regional Workforce finds half of that illiterate population has obtained a high school degree.

The DRWF report places particular focus on the lack of resources available to those hoping to better educate themselves, with fewer than 10 percent of those in need of help actually receiving it. Only 18 percent of the programs surveyed serve English-language learners, despite 10 percent of the adult population of Detroit speaking English “less than very well.”

Additionally, the report finds, one in three workers in the state of Michigan lack the skills or credentials to pursue additional education beyond high school.

In March, the Detroit unemployment rate hit 11.8 percent, one of the highest in the nation, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last month. There is a glimmer of hope, however: Detroit’s unemployment rate dropped by 3.3 percent in the last year alone.

Continued in article

Jensen Question
Will nearly all the illiterate high school graduates in Detroit get a free college diploma under the proposed "free college" proposal?

My guess is that they will get their college diplomas even though they will still be illiterate, because colleges will graduate them in order to sop up the free taxpayer gravy for their college "education."
Everybody will get a college diploma tied in a blue ribbon.

I doubt that illiteracy is much worse in Detroit than in other large USA cities like Chicago and St Louis.

In Europe less than half the Tier 2 (high school) graduates are even allowed to to to college or free trade schools ---
OECD Study Published in 2014:  List of countries by 25- to 34-year-olds having a tertiary education degree ---

College Readiness Based on ACT College Admission Scores for 2015 by State --

New Hampshire


For other states simply replace the state name in the above URL with the name of the state

Note that often the better students opt for SAT testing rather than ACT testing such that in states that provide an option for SAT or ACT the ACT scores may be biased by not including top students.
Also see http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/sat-act-tests-test-preparation/890821-should-the-sat-and-act-be-treated-equally.html

ACT to SAT Conversion ---
Conversion Calculator ---

Jensen Comment
By most any standard imaginable public high schools in the USA are not doing a great job in preparing students for college when college might soon be more than affordable to all students. Community colleges have lowered the admissions bar for almost all students. Do for-profit-universities ever reject any applicant?


We can blame democracy for the high risk of public-sector pension plans.
The Economist Magazine
July 26, 2016

Jensen Comment
It turns out that pension investing risk relies heavily on investment and accounting rules where public-sector pension fund managers are allowed to get their funds into riskier investments, including junk bonds.

The enormous TIAA/CREF and some other pension funds give investors risk choices. TIAA bond funds are doing worse due to the Fed's low-interest policy such that teachers in TIAA/CREF are choosing more risky funds. Deals are no longer as good for fixed-annuity plans on the date of retirement relative to when I retired in 2006 (blind luck rather than brilliant strategy).

Sadly, riskier public-sector pension plans increase the expectation of future taxpayer bailouts. Public-sector pension plans would probably not be as risky if government declared there was zero chance of future bailouts. But then what legislators seeking office are going to promise zero chance of a public-sector pension bailout? Hence we can blame democracy for the high risk of public-sector pension plans.

One definition of democracy is gambling with taxpayer dollars.
Bankers as well as K-12 teachers helped to invent the taxpayer bailout idea along with municipal workers. Public-sector workers opposed to gambling probably don't even know they are gambling with taxpayer dollars.

VAT Tax --- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Value-added_tax

Corporate Income Taxes Increases Are Either Avoided (such as sweetheart deals from the Illinois Governor)
or They Get Passed Along in Higher Prices
or They Drive Companies Out of State (as Wisconsin and Illinois learned the hard way)

"Oregon’s Regressive Tax Referendum:  A gross-receipts levy would punish the 99% to help public unions," The Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2016 ---

Progressives claim they can pay for their grand spending ambitions by soaking the rich, but the little guy invariably gets wet. The latest illustration is Oregon, where unions are campaigning for a gross-receipts tax on large corporations that even state budget analysts warn will drench the 99% too.

Last week Governor Kate Brown endorsed a November referendum that would impose a 2.5% tax on corporate sales exceeding $25 million. Oregon’s top income tax rate of 9.9% is the second highest in the country after California, and it hits at an income of only $125,000 for a single tax filer.

The Beaver State last raised income taxes in 2009, and state revenues have grown by nearly 30% in the last four years. But unions say the new business tax is needed to close a $1.4 billion deficit and pay for baked-in spending—the same justification for the last tax increase.

Health-care costs will rise by $1 billion in the next two-year budget thanks in part to the state’s ObamaCare Medicaid expansion. Generous new union contracts that increase worker pay and reduce their health-care premium contributions will add hundreds of millions to the fisc, while public pension costs are projected to swell by 150% to $4.5 billion by 2021.

The gross-receipts tax, which would throw off $3 billion annually and expand the budget by a third, would be a revenue gusher because of its pyramiding effect. As the Tax Foundation notes, “In effect, the tax gets built into prices and compounded as a product moves through the production process.” So low-margin businesses at the end of the supply chain—particularly retailers—get walloped.

Only five states assess a gross-receipts tax. Many including Michigan and New Jersey have dumped theirs due to its economic distortions. Oregon’s would be the highest and most onerous since it wouldn’t include deductions or differential rates to ameliorate the burden on low-margin industries. For instance, Texas allows businesses to deduct the cost of goods sold and employee compensation—and the Lone Star State has no income tax.

Businesses will respond by raising prices, reducing investment and laying off workers. The state Legislative Revenue Office estimated that the tax would cost 38,200 jobs in the private economy including 13,600 in retail trade while increasing government employment by 17,700. By 2022 state income would decline by 0.17% while prices would edge up 0.89% relative to the office’s baseline forecast.

The analysts also forecast that the measure would increase the state’s per capita tax burden by $600, and that “the marginal impact of the tax will be regressive.” Households making less than $21,000 in income would experience a 0.9% decline in after-tax income—about twice as much as those earning more than $206,000.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Actually I favor a VAT tax to replace the easily-avoided corporate income tax, but the VAT tax will only work well if it is imposed nationally.

How to Lie With Statistics

Lies Politicians Tell Us ---

. . .

Hillary Clinton proclaims almost daily that women receive only 78 percent of the income that men receive. Her message is so misleading as to be dishonest. The 78 percent number is the ratio of women’s to men’s median pay. It does not adjust for occupational and other differences in the work that men and women do. For example, skilled neurosurgeons and football, baseball, and basketball stars are men. Domestic workers and hospital cleaning crews are mainly women. A recent paper by Diana Furchtgott-Roth summarized studies at Cornell and other quality economic departments. When adjustment for occupational differences are considered, the ratio is 92 or 94 percent, not the advertised 78 percent. And the remaining difference may not be due to discrimination. Differences in time in the work force, hours worked, and other factors may play a role.

Two striking facts stand out. The first is that laws require equal pay for equal work. Clinton’s claim that there is great discrimination means that many employers violate the law with impunity. That’s very implausible. Even journalists should be able to understand that. Second, the difference between 78 percent and 92 percent is well known to labor economists and almost certainly to some economists on Clinton’s staff. Do they not tell her? Or does she not want to correct this central message of her campaign?

Economic growth is a major issue in this presidential campaign. Research has done much to uncover the factors that contribute to growth. Secure property rights, rule of law, open markets, and limited trade restrictions all play important roles. But the Trump and Clinton campaign messages are all critical of freer trade. It is false—a lie—to claim that freer trade has hurt us as a nation, as my Hoover colleague David Henderson has pointed out.

It has always been true that some lose as a result of trade agreements. We gave up textile jobs to gain jobs elsewhere, in services for example. Trade agreements including NAFTA raised income in the aggregate and provided some of the funding for retraining displaced workers. Trump is wrong or badly advised to oppose trade agreements and Clinton was badly advised when she shifted her position on the Pacific trade agreement. Of course, the agreements are complicated, so it is always possible to claim that a better agreement for the United States is possible—but it’s not accurate to claim that trade restrictions will benefit Americans.

These are just a few examples of lies and misleading statements that we encounter every day. Clinton lies frequently and Trump shouts a falsehood a day—and probably more—as a major part of his campaign. This is not what citizens of a free country should expect and demand. And these examples are part of a much larger set.

At one time, citizens could count on their officials and candidates to either tell the truth or say nothing. Not any more. Clinton has a long record of neglecting truth. Trump seems not to care about the veracity of his statements. And the media is so much on one side that it mainly looks at the Trump gaffes and does its best to ignore Clinton’s. And most serious of all, it allows the Obama administration to tell the public lies like Americans can keep their health insurance or that global warming is a coming disaster.

No less serious is the failure of politicians to tell us the truth about the promises that they have made that cannot be honored. Careful studies put the cost of government promises for pensions and future healthcare benefits at more than $100 trillion. There is no way that anything close to that amount will be available.

Continued in article

Hillary Clinton slapped with dreaded Washington Post 'Four Pinocchios' rating for false claim about FBI director ---
Also see

101 of Donald Trump's Greatest Lies ---

... Salon: The Iran Deal Is A Disaster–And Obama Is To Blame ---
Jensen Comment
What makes this significant is that Salon is one of the most liberal, anti-capitalist Websites in the world.

House Task Force Confirms: ISIS Threat Was Altered in Intelligence Reports For Political Purposes ---
Jensen Comment
What makes this significant is that the Daily Beast is one of the most liberal, anti-capitalist Websites in the world.

How to Lie With Statistics

"The Great Productivity Puzzle," by John Cassady, The New Yorker, August 10, 2016 ---

For the Wealthiest Colleges, How Many Low-Income Students Are Enough? ---

Jensen Comment
The bad news is that most of the universities supportive of low-income students also do not have programs for majoring in accounting, finance, marketing, and other business disciplines offering great careers. Sure it's possible to major in these fields in graduate school, but getting financing for graduate school is a whole new ball game.

At 3,100 Colleges and Universities
Tuition and Fees, 1998-99 Through 2013-14 ---

What is the Price of College? Total, Net, and Out-of-Pocket Prices by Type of Institution in 2011-12 ---

This report describes three measures of the price of undergraduate education in the 2011–12 academic year: total price of attendance (tuition and living expenses), net price of attendance after all grants, and out-of-pocket net price after all financial aid. It is based on the 2011–12 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:12), a nationally representative study of students enrolled in postsecondary institutions in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Students are grouped into four institution types: public 2-year institutions, public 4-year institutions, private nonprofit 4-year institutions, and for-profit institutions at all levels (less-than-2-year, 2-year, and 4-year).

Jensen Comment
Understandably there are wide margins of error. For example, many institutions now offer multiple sections of the same course --- some onsite sections, some online sections, and some hybrid sections with both online and onsite components. Various universities charge the same for all sections. Some charge less for the online sections. Some charge more for the online sections, because due to higher demand the online sections are cash cows.

Although the numbers are still small some universities like the University of Wisconsin and the University of Akron are now offering less expensive competency-based credits where students no longer have to take courses.

And there are wide ranging alternatives for room and board. Almost all campuses now offer various meal plan options that vary in price, choice, and quantities. Students often live off campus at widely varying housing and meal costs.  Even on campus there may be varying room and apartment costs.

And financial aid deals are sometimes so complicated that I'm not certain how financial aid could be factored into this study. For example, colleges vary with respect to work study alternatives. Education in free at the University of the Ozarks but all students must work at least 15 hours per week. Most other colleges have work study for some but not all students.

More and more Ivy League-type universities are charging zero tuition for students from families earning less than $125,000 per year. Hence the cost varies considerably based upon family income.

Some students receive financial aid covering all or part of their room and board costs.

But the data in this study are interesting as broad guidelines of college costs in the USA. College is free in some other countries, but in those nations only a small proportion of students are admitted into the colleges. For example, in Germany taxpayer costs are controlled by only admitting less than 25% of the the students into the German universities.  There's an enormous tradeoff between providing free higher education of great quality (as in Germany) versus free or nearly-free higher education of lesser quality to the masses (as in the USA).

I think the USA is unique in that initiatives are underway in some states like Tennessee to provide universal college education for at least two years. California has had to back down somewhat from its nearly-free community college tuition.

The most misleading statistics in the USA are those that conclude that going to college greatly increases lifetime income. Of course there are numerous and obvious  instances where this is true, especially in lucrative professions where only college graduates are admitted. But the studies that imply going to college increase income for most everybody are highly misleading. The main problem is that such studies confuse correlation with causation. They also confound ability, work ethic, and college degrees.

Many college graduates would earn more income than high school graduates even if those college graduates did earn college degrees. The reason is ability and work ethic combined, in many instances, with family support. Many families have the finances to help their children become entrepreneurs or get job skills such as becoming master mechanics, plumbers, and electricians. For many students college is only a transition period before returning to join the family business such as taking over the family farm or dealership.

Net-Price Calculators Get the Kayak Treatment," by Beckie Supiano, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 9, 2012 ---

Remember when net-price calculators were going to be the next U.S. News & World Report rankings? That’s the comparison that staff members at Maguire Associates, a consulting firm, made a couple of years ago in a paper explaining what the calculators could mean for admissions.

But the calculators, which allow students to estimate what they would pay at a particular college after grants and scholarships, don’t seem to have gained much traction yet. While colleges have been required to post the calculators on their Web sites for nearly a year now, early evidence shows that only about a third of prospective students have tried one out.

The Maguire Associates paper predicted that online aggregators would spring up to allow students to compare their net prices at different colleges, much as Kayak.com lets travelers compare air fares. The prediction has come true: A new Web site, College Abacus, lets students do just that.

Whether this new comparison tool will encourage more prospective students to use the calculators, though, remains to be seen.

Bob Jensen's threads on financial aid in higher education ---

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at

Home Equity Loan --- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_equity_loan

From the CFO Journal's Morning Ledger on August 12, 2016

Home equity loans come back to haunt borrowers, banks
The bill is coming due for many homeowners on a type of loan that was widely popular in the run-up to the housing bust, causing a rise in delinquencies at banks. More homeowners are missing payments on their home-equity lines of credit, or Helocs, a type of loan that allows borrowers to withdraw cash from their house to pay for renovations, college tuition or almost any other expense. These loans typically require interest-only payments for the first 10 years, but then principal payments kick in for the next 15 or 20 years. Borrowers who signed up for Helocs in early 2006 were at least 30 days late on $2.8 billion of balances four months after principal payments kicked in this year, according to Equifax  Roughly 840,000 Helocs taken out in 2006 are resetting this year, with principal payments on an additional nearly one million loans expected to hit in 2017.

Reverse Mortgage Calculator ---



Finding and Using Health Statistics --- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/nichsr/usestats/index.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on economic statistics and databases ---

Medicare Fraud is Rampant ---

Feds break up $1 billion (with a "b") Medicare scam in Miami — biggest in U.S. history ---

Medicare Glossary --- https://eligibility.com/medicare/glossary

Aetna’s ObamaCare Shock:  Expecting to lose $300 million, the insurer may opt out ---

We Hear a Lot About Smaller Obamacase Exchange Insurance Companies Quitting:  The Enormous Companies like Blue Cross Anthem are Bleeding (but not Hemorrhaging) as Well
Anthem Projecting Losses on Affordable Care Act Plans This Year ---

he Big Medical Insurance Companies are Pushing Out Obamacare's Smaller ACA Plans

From the CFO Journal's Morning Ledger on July 20, 2016

ACA dings UnitedHealth
UnitedHealth Group Inc. on Tuesday posted a strong earnings beat as revenue continued to surge in its pharmacy-services business, and it lifted the low end of its profit guidance for the year. It also raised the low end of its earnings guidance. But amid the positive news, the company included one ongoing dark spot: Affordable Care Act plans, which it will almost completely stop selling next year
. The insurer booked another $200 million in full-year ACA-plan losses in the second quarter, but more than that, costs mounted because enrollees were even sicker than projected, with more chronic conditions than last year.

Jensen Comment
Eventually only a government-funded national healthcare plan with the bottomless pit of taxpayer money will be able to fund health insurance in the USA

Bob Jensen's universal health care messaging --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Health.htm 

Bob Jensen's Home Page --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/