Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Democrats demand the status quo in education

original article: Public School Is Often The Most Destructive Institution In American Life
January 18, 2017 by David Harsanyi

There’s something perverse about an ideology that views the disposing of a child in the third trimester of pregnancy as an indisputable right but the desire of parents to choose a school for their kids as “zealotry.”  Watching Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, answer an array of frivolous questions was just another reminder of this warped worldview.

Many liberals, for instance, tell us that racism is one of the most pressing problems in America. And yet few things have hurt African Americans more over the past 40 years than the inner-city public school system. If President Obama is correct, and educational attainment is the key to breaking out of a lower economic strata, then no institution is driving inequality quite as effectively as public schools.

Actually, teachers unions are the only organizations in America that openly support segregated schools. In districts across the country — even ones in cities with some form of limited movement for kids — poor parents, most typically black or Hispanic, are forced to enroll their kids in underperforming schools when there are good ones nearby, sometimes just blocks away.

The National Education Association spent $23 million last cycle alone working to elect politicians to keep low-income Americans right where they are. Public service unions use tax dollars to fund politicians who then turn around and vote for more funding. The worse the schools perform, the more money they demand. In the real world we call this racketeering.

Yet according to Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, it is people like DeVos who are “a grave threat” to the public schools “that made America great.”

Well, for starters, studies consistently show that minority groups in America’s largest cities are lagging in proficiency in reading and math. Most of them are at the bottom 5 percent of schools in their own state. There is only so much an education secretary can accomplish, but being accused of being a “grave threat” to this system is a magnificent endorsement.

And what were Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee most concerned with? Preserving the status quo. Sen. Elizabeth Warren forced DeVos to admit that she has never led an organization quite like the Education Department (with its nearly $70 billion budget, who has?). For some reason, Warren also made DeVos, a billionaire, admit that she’d never filled out financial aid forms. The Daily Caller News Foundation found that six of the 10 Democrats on the committee had attended private or parochial schools, or have children and grandchildren who do. So what?

Sen. Patty Murray, who has absolutely no understanding or regard for the constitutional limitation on the education department, pushed DeVos to promise that she would not personally defund public schools. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a tireless adversary of the first five amendments of the Constitution (at least), asked DeVos if she thought firearms had any place in or around schools. “I think that’s best left to locales and states to decide,” she replied, before offering a specific concern of a local rural district that Sen. Mike Enzi had moments ago mentioned. Cue: mocking left punditry.

In case you were unaware, Democrats on the committee stressed that DeVos was a Republican appointed by a Republican president who had given money to Republican organizations. They further pointed out that DeVos was a Christian who had given money to Christian organizations (often referred to as “antigay groups”) that didn’t meet with their moral approval.

Mostly though, the liberals on the committee attacked DeVos because she has a history of contributing her own money to help private and Christian schools expand their reach. She also supported school vouchers proponents and public charter schools that open doors to poor kids. Those dollars have likely done more to help minority students than all the committee members’ efforts combined.

As many Americans surely know, rich and middle-class Americans already have school choice. In most places, the whiter the neighborhood the better the school system, and the better the school system the higher the prices of homes, making it impossible for those who aren’t wealthy to escape substandard schools (rural school also often suffer.) This is the status quo Warren, Murphy, and Murray hope to preserve.

Yes, school reform is complicated and challenges vary from place to place. Many have shown improvement. But teachers unions and their allies opposed magnets, charters, home schooling, religious schooling, and virtual schools long before data about the effectiveness of these choices was in, and now long after quality research is indicating their improvement on the union-preferred system.

You can visit heavily Hispanic areas in Denver and watch mothers cry when their kids’ numbers don’t come up in a charter-school lottery. Or you can listen to technocrats in editorial board meetings, whose kids live in prosperous districts or attend private schools, telling you why too many of those parents have a choice.

By the parameters we often judge these sort of things, public schools are racist institutions — even if that’s unintentional. They have an even more destructive effect on communities than all the dumb words and racist (real and imagined) comments that upset the public on a regular basis. It’s not surprising that poll after poll shows minority parents support educational choice. Unfortunately, partisanship allows Democrats to take voters for granted and ignore the issue.

bureaucracy, children, culture, Democrats, diversity, education, elitism, government, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, progressive, public policy, reform, tragedy

Filed under: bureaucracy, children, culture, Democrats, diversity, education, elitism, government, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, progressive, public policy, reform, tragedy

Where culture, politics, and religion meet in America

original article: Tocqueville and Democracy’s Fall in America
January 19, 2017 by Samuel Gregg

For Alexis de Tocqueville, American democracy’s passion for equality was a potentially fatal flaw—one that religion could help address. But what happens when religion also becomes preoccupied with equality?

Over the past year, lots of people, I suspect, have been reading Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1835/1840) as they ask themselves how the United States could have found itself having to choose in 2016 between two of the most unpopular candidates ever to face off for the office of president.

Historical factors contributed to America reaching this political point. These range from profound inner divisions characterizing American conservatism to deep frustration with the political class, as well as preexisting philosophical, cultural, and economic problems that have become more acute.

Tocqueville, however, recognized that such problems are often symptoms of subterranean currents that, once in place, are hard to reverse. A champion of liberty, Tocqueville was no determinist. He nevertheless understood that once particular habits become widespread in elite and popular culture, the consequences are difficult to avoid. In the case of democracy—perhaps especially American democracy—Tocqueville wondered whether its emphasis on equality might not eventually make the whole thing come undone.

The Passion for Equality

When Democracy in America’s second volume appeared in 1840, many reviewers noted that it was more critical of democracy than the first volume. In more recent times, Tocqueville’s warnings about democracy’s capacity to generate its own forms of despotism have been portrayed as prefiguring a political dynamic associated with the welfare state: i.e., people voting for politicians who promise to give them more things in return for which voters voluntarily surrender more and more of their freedom.

This very real problem, however, has distracted attention from Tocqueville’s interest in the deeper dynamic at work. This concerns how democracy encourages a focus on an equality of conditions. For Tocqueville, democratic societies’ dominant feature is the craving for equality—not liberty. Throughout Democracy in America, equality of conditions is described as “generative.” By this, Tocqueville meant that a concern for equalization becomes the driving force shaping everything: politics, economics, family life . . . even religion.

Democracy’s emphasis on equality helps to break down many unjust forms of discrimination and inequality. Women gradually cease, for instance, to be regarded as inherently inferior. Likewise, the fundamental injustice of slavery becomes harder and harder to rationalize.

At the same time, as Tocqueville scholar Pierre Manent has observed, democracies gravitate toward a fascination with producing total equality. Democracy requires everyone to relate to each other through the medium of democratic equality. We consequently start seeing and disliking any disparity contradicting this equality of conditions. Equality turns out to be very antagonistic to difference per se, even when differences are genetic (such as between men and women) or merited (some are wealthier because they freely assume more risks). But it’s also ambivalent about something that any society needs to inculcate among its members: virtue.

The idea of virtue implies that there are choices whose object is always good and others that are wrong in themselves. Courage is always better than recklessness and cowardice. But language such as “better than,” or “superior to” is intolerable to egalitarianism of the leveling kind. That’s one reason why many people in democratic societies prefer to speak of “values.” Such language implies that (1) all values are basically equal, and (2) there’s something impolite if not downright wrong with suggesting that some purportedly ethical commitments are irrational and wrong.

But in such a world, who am I to judge that some of the values espoused by, say, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, or any other political figure for that matter, might reflect seriously defective evaluations of right and wrong? All that would matter is that “they have values.” The truth, however, is that democracies don’t need “people with values.” They require virtuous people: individuals and communities whose habits of the heart shape what Tocqueville called the “whole mental and intellectual state” of a people as they associate together, pursue their economic self-interest, make laws, and vote.

The Religion of Egalitarian Sentimentalism

At the best of times, living a virtuous life is difficult. This is especially true when a fixation with equality makes many people reluctant to distinguish between baseness and honor, beauty and ugliness, rationality and feelings-talk, truth and falsehood. Much of Democracy in America consequently seeks to show how democratic societies could contain their equalizing inclinations.

Some of Tocqueville’s recommendations focus on constitutional restraints on government power. He understood that the political regime’s nature matters. But Tocqueville also believed that the main forces that promoted virtue, and that limited the leveling egalitarianism that relativizes moral choices, lay beyond politics. In America’s case, he observed, religion played an important role in moderating fixations with equality-as-sameness.

Tocqueville didn’t have just any religion in mind. He was specifically concerned with Christianity. For all the important doctrinal differences marking the Christian confessions scattered across America in Tocqueville’s time, few held to relativistic accounts of morality. Words like “virtue,” “vice,” “good,” and “evil” were used consistently and had concrete meaning.

Christianity did underscore a commitment to equality insofar as everyone was made as imago Dei and was thus owed equality before the law. This conviction helped to secure slavery’s eventual abolition. Nevertheless Christianity in America also emphasized another quintessentially Christian theme: freedom—political, economic, and religious. In the United States, the word “liberty” wasn’t associated with the anti-Christian violence instinctively linked by European Christians with the French Revolution.

Religions, however, aren’t immune to the cultures in which they exist. So what happens if a religion starts succumbing to the hunger for equalization that Tocqueville associated with democratic ways? Most often, such religions begin abandoning their distinctiveness, as self-evidently false propositions such as “all religions are the same” take hold. Truth claims and reasoned debate about religious and moral truth are relegated to the periphery. Why? Because trying to resolve them would mean affirming that certain religious and moral claims are false and thus unequal to those that are true.

When Christians go down this path, the inevitable theological void is filled by a sentimentalism that arises naturally from egalitarianism. God is condensed to the Great Non-Judge in the Sky: a nice, harmless deity who’s just like us. Likewise, such Christians increasingly take their moral cues from democratic culture. The consequent emphasis on equality-as-sameness doesn’t just mean that liturgy and doctrine are reduced to inoffensive banalities. The horizons of Christian conceptions of justice also shrink to the abolition of difference. The truth that many forms of inequality are just, including in the economic realm, is thus rendered incomprehensible. In the end, Christian confessions that embrace such positions collapse into pale facsimiles of secular egalitarianism and social justice activism.

A Fatal Combination?

These religions are incapable of performing the role that Tocqueville thought was played by many religious communities in the America he surveyed in the early 1830s. Of course, the object of religion isn’t to provide social lubrication. Religion is concerned with the truth about the divine, and living our lives in accordance with the truth about such matters. However, if religion ceases to be about truth, its capacity to resist (let alone correct) errors and half-truths such as “values-talk,” or justice’s reduction to equality-as-sameness, is diminished.

There’s no shortage of evidence of just how far large segments of American religious opinion have drifted in this direction. We have political operatives demanding, for example, “a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic Church”—as if the dogmatic and doctrinal truths proclaimed by a 2000-year-old universal church should be subordinated to a twentieth-first-century progressive American conception of equality. Plenty of older Protestant, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox clergy offer political commentaries that owe more to John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice than to C.S. Lewis, Aquinas, the Church Fathers, or Christ. For many American Jews, Jewish faith and identity is the pursuit of progressive politics. Such religions cannot speak seriously about virtue (or much else) in the face of the relentless drive for equalization in democracy that so worried Tocqueville.

Politics is clearly shaped by culture. Yet at any culture’s heart is the dominant cultus. America’s ability to resist democratic equalization’s deadening effects on freedom requires religions that are not consumed by the obsession with equality that Tocqueville thought might be democracy’s fatal flaw. For Tocqueville, part of America’s genius was that religion and liberty went hand in hand. In the next few years, America is going to discover whether that’s still true.

culture, freedom, government, history, politics, religion, unintended consequences

Filed under: culture, freedom, government, history, politics, religion, unintended consequences

Hiding data is not how to prove something

original article: Why NYT Hid The Numbers For The ‘Hottest Year On Record’
January 18, 2017 Robert Tracinski

When you read a science report claiming that 2016 was the hottest year on record, you might expect that you will get numbers. And you would be wrong.

They say that mathematics is the language of science, which is a way of saying that science is quantitative. It is moved forward by numbers and measurements, not just by qualitative observations. “It seems hot out” is not science. Giving a specific temperature, measured by a specific process at a specific time, compared to other systematically gathered measurements—that is science.

So when you read an article proclaiming that, for the third year in a row, last year was the hottest year on record, you might expect that right up front you will get numbers, measurements, and a statistical margin of error. You know, science stuff. Numbers. Quantities. Mathematics.

And you would be wrong.

I just got done combing through a New York Times report titled, “Earth Sets a Temperature Record for the Third Straight Year.” The number of relevant numbers in this article is: zero.

We are not told what the average global temperature was, how much higher this is than last year’s record or any previous records, or what the margin of error is supposed to be on those measurements. Instead, we get stuff like this.

Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016—trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row.

Note to the New York Times: “trouncing” and “blown past” are phrases appropriate to sports reporting, not science reporting. Except that no sports reporter would dare write an article in which he never bothers to give you the score of the big game.

Yet that’s what passes for “science reporting” on the issue of global warming, where asking for numbers and margins of errors apparently makes you an enemy of science. Instead, it’s all qualitative and comparative descriptions. It’s science without numbers.

It wasn’t just the New York Times. Try finding the relevant numbers ready at hand in the NASA/NOAA press release. You get numbers comparing 2016’s temperature with “the mid-20th century mean” or “the late 19th century.” But there’s nothing comparing it to last year or the year before except qualitative descriptions. So the government’s science bureaucracy is setting the trend, making reporters dig for the relevant numbers rather than presenting them up front.

It’s almost like they’re hiding something. And that is indeed what we find. I finally tracked down an exception to this reporting trend: the UK newspaper The Independentgives us the relevant numbers.

They should have been in the first paragraph, but at least they’re in the third paragraph: “This puts 2016 only nominally ahead of 2015 by just 0.01C—within the 0.1C margin of error—but….” There’s stuff after the “but,” but it’s just somebody’s evaluation. Even this report can’t give us a straight fact and leave it alone.

For the benefit of science reporters and other people who are unfamiliar with the scientific method, let me point out that the margin of error for these measurements is plus or minus one tenth of a degree Celsius. The temperature difference that is supposedly being measured is one one-hundredth of a degree—one tenth the size of the margin of error. To go back to sports reporting, that’s like saying that the football is on the 10-yard line—give or take a hundred yards.

I think you can see why they didn’t lead with these numbers in the first paragraph or the headline, because if they did everyone would stop reading and move on to the next article. “This Year’s Temperatures Statistically Identical to Last Year’s” is not a headline that grabs anybody’s attention.

That’s not the worst part. The worst part is that this isn’t the first year they’ve done this. Two years ago, government agencies and gullible reporters repeated the exact same claims about the hottest year on record, along with some other howlers. What was the margin for that year’s record? Two one-hundredths of a degree, also much smaller than the margin of error.

Lest I be accused of not giving you numbers, global temperatures for 2015 were reported to be higher than 2014 by as much as 2.9 degrees Celsius, though you have to read to the 18th paragraph before the New York Times deigns to tell you this. That’s not as impressive as it may seem, because both 2015 and 2016 were El Nino years, when there is a normal, natural increase in temperatures.

This highlights a bigger problem with the global warming theory. For all the excitement over records set over the past 137 years—precise global thermometer measurements date only to 1880—current temperatures still are not clearly out of the range of normal variation in the 10,000 years or so since the planet bounced back from the last ice age, despite all of the furious attempts to hype them up.

Yet here is Arizona State University “theoretical physicist”—and, of course, media personality—Lawrence M. Krauss taking to Twitter to ask: “When will the evidence of the need to act be enough?” This is above a link to, you guessed it, the number-free New York Times report.

Yes, I really do wonder how anyone could possibly be skeptical of claims about the climate made by science “advocates” and by the media. It’s a total mystery.

bias, climate change, corruption, cover up, environment, global warming, ideology, indoctrination, news media, pandering, science

Filed under: bias, climate change, corruption, cover up, environment, global warming, ideology, indoctrination, news media, pandering, science

Psychological study rigged with liberal bias; researchers oblivious

Let’s try an experiment. What if we could gauge liberal leanings of the American public by tracking tech purchases? Now, before you start complaining about how disturbing or invasive such tracking might be or how suspicious and absurd it is to even ask about tracking people in such a way, let me say this: you’re right!

But this wasn’t my idea. I got the idea from a psychological study published in Psychological Science in March 2013 entitled Ideology and Brand Consumption. The study is replete with liberal bias from the researchers and they appear entirely oblivious to it. The study is not about general political leanings. No, the study particularly targets U.S. conservative political leanings. Here’s the abstract (bolding is mine):

Do mundane daily choices, such as what brands people buy in a supermarket, reflect aspects of values and ideologies? This article presents a large-scale field study performed to determine whether traits associated with a conservative ideology, as measured by voting behavior and religiosity, are manifested in consumers’ routine, seemingly inconsequential product choices. Our analysis of market shares for a variety of frequently purchased products shows that both of these measures of conservatism are associated with a systematic preference for established national brands (as opposed to their generic substitutes) and with a lower propensity to buy newly launched products. These tendencies correspond with other psychological traits associated with a conservative ideology, such as preference for tradition and the status quo, avoidance of ambiguity and uncertainty, and skepticism about new experiences.

The abstract mentions a conservative leaning three times and makes no mention of a liberal leaning. It should be no surprise that the researchers have left wing political leanings, given their description of a conservative ideology clearly stems from a liberal bias. Look at the traits the abstract lists as “associated with a conservative ideology”:

  • preference for tradition
  • preference for the status quo
  • avoidance of ambiguity and uncertainty
  • skepticism about new experiences

Plenty of conservatives would agree on a preference for tradition, but a preference for the status quo? That’s obviously a liberal point of view on conservatism, as such a term is not how conservatives typically describe themselves. Sometimes liberals can be accused of defending the status quo too. As to ambiguity, liberalism thrives on that so of course an aversion to ambiguity would get the attention of the liberal researchers. Uncertainty is a problem for every one, not only conservatives. It just depends on the context for us to see this. For example, the purpose of the social safety net (such as unemployment benefits, social security, Obamacare, etc.) is obviously meant to help people, not least of which by providing some level of financial peace and security (even if it fails to actually achieve the promises made to the American people). The social safety net is intended to reduce uncertainty and help people manage risk, and is most vocally championed by liberals. Tenure is meant to accomplish the same thing for teachers (liberals love tenure, whereas most complaints about tenure I hear are from conservative and libertarian students displeased with their liberal teachers – who dominate the academy). We all appreciate reducing uncertainty in some form, but these liberal researchers seem to have overlooked this simple and plain fact of the human condition about themselves. Skepticism about new experiences is another favorite liberal critique of conservatism, not something conservatives typically say to describe themselves. The article is written from a viewpoint that seems entirely bereft of sociopolitical balance – a liberal examination of a conservative perspective hardly qualifies as a conservative perspective.

The secondary data points mentioned in the study are also from a thoroughly left wing bias. For instance, without leaving the first page we see risk aversion mentioned, and included in the examples are the purchase of medical and auto insurance (conveniently, the social safety net most favored by liberals escapes mention as an example of risk aversion, when that is precisely its purpose). Keep in mind, in most states the purchase of auto insurance is required by law. Obamacare is a glaring example of the researchers’ political blind spot in that it mandates the purchase of health insurance. Not a single Republican in Congress voted for the Affordable Care Act. It was enacted by President Barack Obama on March 23 2010, three years before this psychological study was published. Liberals widely favored the mandate aspect of Obamacare, conservatives did not – conservatives favored health savings accounts as these would transfer control of health decisions from an insurance bureaucracy back to into the hands of the patient. The purchase of insurance is one thing, mandating it is quite another. This factor is completely disregarded in the Psychological Science article. The researchers instead thought only the “risk aversion” aspect of purchasing insurance was relevant. This is certainly true given the partisan goal of the study, but not as useful for understanding the reality of the situation as it ignored the liberal proclivity for reducing risk by favoring policies which control people’s choices.

The researchers refer to the 2005 edition of Miriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary to define conservatism. They state this definition as “disposition in politics to preserve what is established” and “the tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change”. This, again, is more a matter of how liberals see conservatives rather than how conservatives see themselves. Conservatism is not a “disposition in politics to preserve that which is established”. Some obvious examples would be Roe v. Wade, a landmark Supreme Court ruling highly lauded by most liberals but highly condemned by most conservatives. The same is true of Obamacare and its mandate to purchase health insurance. Conservatives are working to undo both matters of law, the exact opposite of “preserving what is established”.

On the other hand, conservatives are certainly interested in preserving the individual’s right to make his/her own decisions that don’t cause harm to others. Some examples are opposing the institution of slavery (one of the seminal issues that led to the founding of the Republican party), opposing Jim Crow (established and defended by Democrats taking liberty with other people’s rights), and supporting the expansion of civil union laws rather than allow the federal government to usurp the religious institution of marriage – which is a violation of the separation between church and state, something liberals have said for generations is vital to maintaining liberty.

Let’s return to part of the hypothetical scenario I mentioned up top – tech purchases. Consider two major consumer products in the tech market: smart phones and Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Both forms of technology give us good reason to practice patience, or exercise a “preference for the status quo” and “skepticism about new experiences” as this liberal study would suggest.

Some of us remember Windows Millennium Edition (Windows ME). That was a publicly disastrous product launch for Microsoft. It left a bad taste in the mouth of Microsoft’s customers, so much that many of those customers have been cautious about upgrading to the next latest edition ever since. Windows 8 proved a similar problem in that many Windows users simply hated it, and reverted back to a previous version. This pressured Microsoft to push out the next version of the OS and many people, including conservatives, are quite happy with Windows 10 (the current latest version of the OS). Many Windows users learned to wait before upgrading to any “new” version. This group of customers will gladly let other more adventurous people test the latest version of Windows first. After the inevitable update fixing who knows how many problems (as also happened with Windows 10), this more cautious group becomes much more likely to upgrade. But according to this liberal study on conservative consumer habits this could be an example of a “preference for the status quo” rather than the very sensible patience for predictably problematic new technology to be improved.

Smart phones have a similar problem. There are customers who, for whatever reason, simply must have the latest smart phone as soon as it is released to the general public (if not before). These devices are at their most expensive retail price at this early release stage. And they typically have the same sort of quality problems as a new Windows OS. Common sense tells us with the practice of a little patience, most of these problems can be fixed and the prices for the smart phones will drop once the market is more saturated with them among the first triers. But according to the liberal study this pragmatic and reasonable self restraint might demonstrate a “skepticism about new experiences” something akin to a resistance to trying any new technology simply because it’s unfamiliar. Those of us who live in the real world can understand the benefits of new technology that it has been well vetted by the adventurous first triers. If that qualifies as “conservative” so be it.

Conservatism is a disposition to preserve freedom, not any old thing that has been established. In the conservative mindset the single greatest threat to freedom is the abuse of power. A healthy skepticism of power is fundamental to the American experiment. In the effort to preserve freedom the conservative endeavors to conserve power (use it sparingly). And how does the abuse of power occur in the grand American experiment? Quite often it happens though the offer of government assistance. Ironically, it turns out government aid usually means government making decisions for us, and a decision the government makes on our behalf is a decision we (as individuals) no longer have the right to make for ourselves. Freedom is also threatened by the abuse of freedom itself, which why we need laws in the first place. This necessitates a sort of social compact where we try to reach a balance between laws and liberties, where this balance favors liberties. The abuse of power and the abuse of freedom are best addressed by an aversion to abuse and waste, thus self restraint is encouraged in both cases, where power (the use of force) is limited or conserved (hence the term “conservative”).

Contrast this with the liberal balance between laws and liberties, which favors laws. It is not conservatives who are constantly trying to regulate various aspects of life. It is not conservatives who pushed to regulate the use of tobacco, or sugar, or speech. The ever increasing list of words we are to avoid using (for fear of offending anyone) is not an invention of conservatives; it is the hallmark of modern liberalism. (Jailing students for distributing free copies of the US Constitution is a thoroughly liberal policy.) On the one hand liberals claim to value and defend free speech when what they really mean is approved speech, which is the opposite of free speech. The ambiguity and purposeful misuse of language is the playground of tyrants. And let us not purposefully confuse the Republican Party with conservatism. The Republican Party has spent decades distancing itself from conservatives, attempting to become diet Democrats. And they have succeeded. There is scarcely a trace of conservatism left in the Republican Party of today.

The so-called resistance to change often cited as a tenet of conservatism is predictably reductive as well. Rather than acknowledge the fact change is merely different, and that difference could be either good or bad, the typically mindless liberal view is that change is automatically a good thing (that’s how the vague and vapid slogan “hope and change” was so successful for President Obama). The problem is none of us knows change is always good. Getting cancer is “change” but none of us is likely to treat that change as good. How do we know a political or social change is going to be good if we don’t examine it first? But, as mentioned earlier, in the liberal mindset recognition that life is not so simple is dismissed as a small-minded resistance to change. To suggest change ought to be vetted before we impose it on our entire society is typically dismissed as bigotry. (Consider Obamacare again: liberals dismissed health savings accounts as a solution to the problem of astronomical health care costs saying this was another example conservatives don’t care about people, whereas mandated health insurance was the preferred liberal solution, ignoring the highly likely possibility that insurance itself is the primary cause of astronomical health care costs.) That’s one of the underlying premises of this study because it’s a fundamental premise of liberalism – that conservatives are “skeptical about new experience”s and “prefer the status quo” because they don’t like change.

I learned of this study by randomly encountering an article in Psychology Today by Art Markman titled Conservatism and Product Purchase. Dr. Markman’s article didn’t address the liberal bias of this study. His interest was more on confirming a standard liberal view of conservatism. He ends his article with this.

There is evidence suggesting that conservative ideology is often taken on by people who find newness and change to be stressful.  For individuals who are anxious in  new situations, familiar products and brands are comforting.  So, the same factors that promote conservative political affiliation also seem to affect everyday purchases.

It seems to me this study and the impetus behind it was in the common liberal vein of trying to “explain away” conservatism as if it were a pathology. That’s not my description. This is the description of social psychologist Jonathan Haidt which I borrowed from the New York Times. The Times has a good article describing Haidt’s work in William Saletan’s 2012 piece “Why Won’t They Listen?“. Saletan’s article adeptly explains Haidt’s attempt to enrich American society by explaining something about human psychology that most of us simply don’t think about, or don’t think about in a well rounded way.

If actual understanding is a goal of yours, Saletan’s article is definitely worth a read. If you’re satisfied in simply telling yourself what you want to believe perhaps your social media echo chamber would be better for you.

bias, conservative, culture, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, pandering, philosophy, progressive, propaganda, study

Filed under: pandering, liberalism, bias, propaganda, left wing, ideology, philosophy, culture, conservative, indoctrination, study, progressive

Can an unconscious man commit a crime? Yes.

original article: Judge rejects subpoena on rape accuser who admitted she violated blacked-out student
January 13, by The College Fix

Would impose ‘trauma’ on woman with credibility problems

She admitted in text messages to performing oral sex on her blacked-out sex partner, but she won’t have to submit to a deposition in that student’s lawsuit against Amherst College for expelling him as a rapist.

In a little-noticed order in the long-running due process and Title IX lawsuit, issued shortly after the November election, a federal judge refused to grant a subpoena on student “Sandra Jones” sought by plaintiff “John Doe.”

Because Jones has since moved to Washington state, the ruling on the subpoena was made in the U.S. District Court in Seattle.

There, Judge James Robart decided that deposing Jones in person would inflict “trauma” on the accuser.

read full article
read the lawsuit

abuse, bias, civil rights, corruption, criminal, culture, education, government, judiciary, justice, political correctness, scandal, sex, victimization

Filed under: abuse, bias, civil rights, corruption, criminal, culture, education, government, judiciary, justice, political correctness, scandal, sex, victimization

A Closer Look At Why There Aren’t More Black Conservatives

In January of this year The American Conservative published “Why Aren’t There More Black Republicans” byMusa Al-Gharbi. I found some excellent and insightful points in Al-Gharbi’s piece. While there are also some legitimate grievances mentioned (which the GOP needs to take seriously) I believe many of these grievances are aimed in the wrong direction. I admit my perspective is not one of a political insider or policy wonk. I’m just a regular Joe trying to make a living. With that in mind, please consider the following.

Al-Gharbi makes the remarkable (and rare) point that the GOP has a positive historical record on civil rights and that Americans need to be reminded of this history. Al-Gharbi also touches on some important Democrat history of American politics and race. Can you imagine what campaigning would be like today if Americans were reminded of historical Democrat opposition to civil rights (including filibustering civil rights legislation in the 1960s)? For more eye opening info on this topic, Bruce Bartlett writes about the abysmal Democrat past on civil rights in his book Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party’s Buried Past. Dinesh D’Sousa’s movie “Hillary’s America” is another good place to look.

But when Al-Ghardi moves off of history and into the meat of his article there is a vital distinction between Republicans and Conservatives that is not mentioned – the difference between conservatives and RINOs (Republicans In Name Only). This distinction, I believe, would reshape many of his points. Another point I want to reexamine in Al-Gharbi’s article is what appears to be a left wing perspective on many issues.

Take, for instance, the argument on the supposed harm inflicted on black Americans “by advocating for voter ID laws, which disenfranchise primarily low-income and legal minority voters.” We can ask, in what way does a common sense (and internationally speaking, a very common) election security precaution disenfranchise anyone? The “widespread evidence” standard is a legitimate one, and I’d like to see widespread evidence that such abuse is inevitable in the implementation of voter id laws. For the liberal left it is standard procedure to ignore or downplay stories of various forms of election fraud, and we should not neglect the fact this fraud is so often in their favor. The numerous cases of voter fraud are often simply ignored or actively covered up by those who benefit from them (which should not be surprising). I humbly suggest the complaints of Voter ID laws should not be taken at face value.

EDITORIAL: North Carolina answers Democrats’ question ‘What vote fraud?’

N.C. proves multiple voting occurs and dead cast ballots

Voter Fraud: We’ve Got Proof It’s Easy

53,000 Dead Voters Found in Florida

If “widespread evidence” and “a single example of when such voting has actually turned an election” (criteria Al-Gharbi mentions) are the standard Voter ID proponents must measure up to, why not hold opponents of Voter ID to that same standard?

A couple examples of voter fraud come to my mind. A Philadelphia man gleefully admitted on live television he voted multiple times for Barack Obama. Imagine all the details that have to work together for this to occur. First, the only system innate in the voting process to prevent multiple voting is the poll workers. Unfortunately, the poll workers either don’t notice or don’t care that he voted more than once. And he feels so confident that nothing is wrong with this he is willing to admit on TV that he committed the crime. Some questions ought to naturally follow. Was this man charged? Did anyone in law enforcement follow up?

In another example, this woman, (who was a poll worker at the time) admits voting for Obama multiple times and yet denies committing voter fraud. When the perpetrators of voter fraud don’t recognize or even deny their crime it makes sense there would be difficulty in finding “widespread evidence” for it. As an experiment, one could show these two examples of voter fraud to people who voted for Barack Obama and ask them if these incidents qualify as voter fraud, and subsequently discover why “widespread evidence” for this crime is so difficult to find. Many people are so enamored with the idea of the first black president, election laws seem to be irrelevant.

On the other hand, there was an article a few years back on how the current election system (regardless of voter IDs) may be designed to disenfranchise black voters by default. Could it be that requiring voter ID might help liberate the black community from this and other common election shenanigans which already disenfranchise them?

I would also ask for widespread evidence that “Republican legislators court Neo-Confederates and other ethnic nationalist movements” as Al-Gharbi states. There seems to be no concern for nuance here (such as the difference between groups reaching out to politicians and politicians actively courting organizations). Do we know such groups reach out to conservatives and not to RINOs? RINOs are more likely to get government involved and appeal to special interest groups because RINOs act more like Democrats than like conservatives.

But does it matter when questionable groups have ties to politicians? It apparently didn’t matter in regard to the late Democrat Senator Robert Byrd, as Bill Clinton explained Sen. Byrd was merely “trying to get elected” by being a member of the KKK. A lame excuse, sure, but it worked. Evidently it doesn’t matter that Robert Byrd spent half a century representing people for whom a “fleeting association” (full blown membership) with the KKK counted as an asset rather than a liability. As Al-Gharbi already mentioned, the liberal narrative would sugar coat and disregard this record with a racist hate group. Then, curiously, Republicans would be blamed for the evils committed by that group. Despite many theories, the reality of why Democrats and Republicans are treated so differently on matters of racism escapes me. Even the myth that the parties “switched sides” is losing its influence as more people learn the truth of the matter, yet Democrats often get a pass for overt racism. There are no more whites only water fountains, restrooms, lunch counters, etc. It is not incidental that Republicans dominate the American South during its LEAST racist era. Racism abounds throughout the country, we are constantly told, and the South is no longer the preeminent example of it.

On the matter of affirmative action, I don’t doubt there was a time for this sort of government intervention. But it has become a crutch for the black community. The left wing narrative constantly promotes the idea that black Americans cannot survive without Uncle Sam’s helping hand on a daily basis. This, of course, makes it easier to displace white people to make room for demographic quotas in various jobs (though I don’t see much effort to REDUCE counts of blacks among professional athletes (such as the NBA or NFL) to make the demographics more closely match those of the general population). This narrative is promoted largely by perpetuating the belief that there has been no progress in the battle against racism over the last half century, that racism still lurks around every corner. No one claims racism has been eliminated but it certainly sounds like Democrats infuse race into every discussion possible. Fear mongering and race hustling work for Democrats.

But what should we expect from people who, as Bob Parks put it, make money finding racism even when it isn’t there? The Duke Lacrosse scandal is one of the more prominent examples of how the ghost of racism is kept alive because the fear of racism is fuel for the fire – even if liberals have to lie about it. But let us not forget that manufactured racism and affirmative action both provide the same benefit for Democrats: a belief that the black community needs government, and that government can solve all of life’s problems.

We should question whether government can solve such problems. There is an astounding degree of blind faith in the magical powers of government. This faith is often supported by questionable data if not outright lies. The figures Al-Ghardi provides sound familiar, much like the feminist data constantly touted about the supposed wage gap. I’d like to see the data that show “Black families have, on average, 5 percent of the wealth of their white counterparts.” How do we know “blacks earn only 60 cents for every dollar that white people earn in salary and wages.”? (And if blacks did earn 60 cents for every dollar that whites earn, wouldn’t blacks have 60 percent of the wealth of their white counterparts?) Are these numbers produced in the same way the specious 77 cents wage gap figure was produced? And if the methods for producing the 77 cent or 60 cent figures are valid there are other questions we should put on the table; such as is it okay for Hillary Clinton to pay her female workers 72 cents for every dollar she pays a male?

Others have made good points in that the data show the black community was stronger and more likely to overcome the lingering effects of slavery and racism before government started trying to “help” in the 1960s. In fact, Dr. Thomas Sowell and others who have looked into this issue make a good case that the lingering effects of slavery and racism we see today are largely perpetuated by government intervention (meaning Democrats and RINOs).

In conservative thought, a nanny state government is an insatiable government. Every decision the government makes on our behalf is a decision we no longer have the right to make for ourselves. Every effort for the government to “help” people grows the power and influence of the state, which diminishes the autonomy and liberty of the individual. Over time this sort of help infantilizes people, who look to government more and more to take care of them, and they eventually become slaves to their own government. Conservatives expect other conservatives to accept this viewpoint. RINOs don’t really care about the size or fiscal appetite of government.

I appreciate the viewpoint diversity Al-Ghardi speaks of. I would like for viewpoint diversity to be valued among our increasingly closed minded, intolerant, progressive culture. Progressives are astoundingly judgemental and abusive to those expressing dissent. (Just as an experiment, find a moment to say out loud to a group of progressives “marriage is between one man and one woman” as if you actually believed that statement, and tell me how tolerant they are of a view they disagree with.)

On any number of issues you can find ample viewpoint diversity among conservatives, of any race. But on the fundamental issue of liberty vs. government influence, to veer away from this premise is to veer away from conservatism. Given there are relatively few people who subscribe to this belief, conservatives gladly embrace all who agree with this view regardless of race. It is one of the building blocks of all conservative thought.

But to Democrats and liberals/progressives, to free people from a nanny state form of “help” is uncompassionate and even dangerous. Stoking racial strife is one of the most common ways for Democrats to promote their idea of benevolent government. Alan Keys, Herman Cain, and Ben Carson do not “downplay the significance of historical disadvantages or institutionalized racism” when they speak of the natural result of increasing government power, as Al-Gharbi suggests. Slavery is in fact the destination at the end of that road. Democrats, on the other hand, do downplay the significance such evils when they constantly accuse Republicans of racism, such as VP Joe Biden’s comment about putting black people back in chains.

As to alienating blacks, quite frankly it is not conservatives who do that. According to one of my favorite conservative commentators, Alfozo Rachel, it is the black community who alienates Republicans. And it is liberals who accuse black conservatives of being sell outs among other things. There is a concerted effort to marginalize black conservatives. Black conservatives often pay a huge price for coming out of the closet as conservatives.

RINOs do in fact offer the “top down” approach Al-Ghardi mentions, the same government-knows-best approach Democrats offer the American people. But RINOs and Democrats fail to understand something about economics that is common sense among conservatives: poor people don’t create jobs. On the other hand, somehow the American people have largely been convinced raising their taxes helps them.

One of the biggest lies in American politics is about taxes. So many people who claim to want “fairness” are led to believe “the rich” and “corporations” don’t pay their “fair share”. I’m still waiting for someone to tell me what “fair share” actually means. One question on this issue conservatives like to ask is “how much of other people’s stuff are you entitled to”? Many Americans are in fact “looking for government handouts” and they are “demanding wealth redistribution as a corrective for historical disenfranchisement”. It is not conservatives who are doing this, it is liberals/progressives. I see it in the black community, the hispanic community, the white community, etc. American culture, with the exception of conservatives, is largely infected with an entitlement mentality – an attitude of “somebody owes me something”.

Everyone claims to desire a “fair playing field, opportunity for social mobility” but many people will likewise demand government handouts without even noticing the contradiction. In fact, from what I’ve seen, when liberals say they want a fair playing field and opportunity for social mobility, they actually mean government regulations and handouts. Thankfully conservatives are pushing back against this distortion. Black conservatives are doing a lot of this pushback but they are often marginalized and ignored, or attacked with racial epithets by those favoring government handouts.

I don’t know anyone who actually opposes a social safety net that prevents people from sinking into total despondency (though I know many who are blithely accused of opposing any social safety net at all). The biggest objection I see to the current American social safety net is that it is corrupt and inefficient, and has a tendency to trap its recipients in poverty. As Bill Whittle put it, the food, housing, education, and even cell phones offered by the government are all crap, crumbs from Uncle Sam’s table. And human beings deserve better than that.

Sadly, crumbs are the best we can expect from a massive, corrupt government. This is what “micromanaging the poor” looks like – the government-run social safety net. It is not conservative Republicans who support the inefficient social safety net, it is RINOs and Democrats who support it. That’s why conservatives preach so much about freedom. Crumbs we can get easily but if we want more than crumbs we have to work for it. This is why conservatives are constantly talking about getting government out of our way – so people can live their own lives.

But that brings us to a core difference between the way conservatives and others see life. Conservatives don’t look at life from a perspective of helping people attain minimal survival, but from one where people should be allowed to thrive. We don’t seek a social safety net as the peak of civilization, we seek prosperity so that a social safety net does not overwhelm all of us (as is inevitable given the way Democrats and RINOs constantly seek to expand that net). These things require work, a lot of work. Smart work. Making good decisions is crucial to prospering in life.

Making good decisions is a challenge faced by us all, but it seems the black community is more challenged than any other group of Americans. We can tell ourselves this is a result of slavery and discrimination, but perhaps a closer look might shed further light on the matter. Unfortunately, this closer look could lead to some socially unacceptable observations, even if they are true.

In the black community there is very common disdain for education, especially among young males. And why shouldn’t this be the case? From decades of telling the black community they can’t succeed because of racism, and then forcing the black community into what is arguably the worst sector of American education (often riddled with a political agenda), why should the black community believe success is possible for them? Why shouldn’t they expect a life of government handouts? That’s an alarmingly common attitude among the general American population, not merely in the black community. Many times I’ve witnessed people share ideas on gaming the entitlement system, with the mentality of getting as many benefits as possible from the government. And that’s one result that can be traced back to slavery but perpetuated by government: dependency on a master.

Conservative Republicans want to set people free from this kind of misery. One major effort to achieve this freedom is school vouchers. School vouchers empower parents to decide what sort of education is best for their children. But school vouchers take this power away from a bureaucratic state, which is the lifeblood of progressivism today. Thus Democrats typically oppose school vouchers, and make people fear the freedom this would grant them by making that freedom look “raysiss”.

The same is true of government entitlement programs. These programs often trap people. Promoting liberation from a minimum standard is often viewed as “draconian restrictions” on the “assistance provided” by government. And this brings us from bad government programs back to good individual decisions.

Government handouts have made headlines for buying alcohol, drugs, and other entertainment. To the people whose resources were confiscated by government and then redistributed, these sorts of purchases look like a betrayal of trust. We have been lead to believe the social safety net is intended to prevent “people from sinking into total despondency.” Buying booze, drugs, porn, etc., make it seem some of the recipients of these benefits are not as poor as we’ve been lead to believe. Like anything else in life, the people who genuinely need the social safety net have to suffer consequences of others, of those who abuse or defraud the social safety net. Republicans don’t want to make “draconian restrictions” on those who actually need assistance but they do want to stop fraud and abuse of programs which spend other people’s money. Social trust is an important element for those being forced to pay the bill. As long as abuse and fraud occur conservatives will be offended by the waste of aid intended for those who really need it, and seek to prevent such waste. Wasting this aid harms those who really need it. Shouldn’t we all be offended by that?

But rather than simply cleaning up corruption in the system, conservatives want to move beyond merely talking about setting people free and actually set people free. This requires a total change from the predominant safety net paradigm.

Which brings us back to taxes. The current government structure rests on making people think someone else should pay more taxes. The brilliance of this progressive system is that most people don’t realize they are the “someone else”. Businesses “pay” business taxes because they first raise the prices we pay – we the people actually pay all taxes. We can call it corporate tax, or employment tax, or whatever the government wants. But it is we the people who pay. Raising taxes directly impacts we the people, hitting the poor the hardest. Rather than building a massive government scheme designed to control wealth (the progressive way), conservatives prefer to reduce government involvement to the minimum required (military, police, courts, roads, etc.). With minimal government control over wealth there is also minimal government appetite, and thus less government involvement, thus minimal burden on the people. Imagine the jobs that would naturally be created if even 10% of the wealth currently confiscated by the government were instead left to the people who generated that wealth in the first place. People who create wealth naturally put it back into the economy in the form of purchases and business expansion. But we are supposed to call this greed, and consider increased jobs a bad thing when businesses are allowed to create them rather than the government.

And that leads us to another difference between conservatives and others. The ability to freely exchange among our fellow Americans is hampered by over taxation and corrupt regulation. Making life more expensive works quite well for government as it feeds the perceived need for government intervention, thus making a self fulfilling prophesy. But it does not work so well for the people, particularly the poor. Government’s strength is greatest in the act of taking and controlling, but the market’s strength is greatest in offering goods and services for voluntary exchange.

Which brings us back to politics. Conservatives want to change the “getting help” paradigm (government intervention) to a paradigm of achievement (individual liberty). Conservatives also want to redirect the new cultural obsession with “fairness” and return to an obsession with liberty. It is possible. There are prominent black Americans showing us success is possible if people were simply free from an over burdensome government. But that’s the rub; to be free to live one’s own life also entails the responsibility of doing so. A very important question conservatives should ask is “do you want to be free, or do you want to be taken care of?”. It is alarming to see how many people say they want the former but act like they want the latter.

Blind faith in the power of a benevolent government does more harm than good, especially to those it is allegedly trying to help. Democrats have an unwavering faith in the myth. RINOs share this faith. RINOs betray the Republican identity by becoming nothing more than diet Democrat. Democrats and RINOs betray the American people by making false promises resulting merely in more expensive government control of people’s lives. Obamacare is a prime example, from lies about keeping your insurance, to lies about reduced costs, to lies about improved access to health care.

Conservatives should work harder to reach the culture rather than look to politics to solve life’s problems. The “if government doesn’t help, no one will get help” myth must be confronted. So should the lies told which make people think a nanny state government taking of them and making decisions for them is “empowering”. Democrats and RINOs have a vested interest in making people look to government to solve life’s problems. The American people have a vested interest in the truth. It is conservatives who must tell it.

capitalism, conservative, economy, freedom, funding, government, health care, ideology, nanny state, public policy, reform, Republicans, taxes, unintended consequences

Filed under: capitalism, conservative, economy, freedom, funding, government, health care, ideology, nanny state, public policy, reform, Republicans, taxes, unintended consequences

My 96-percent increase in premiums is a useful, unvarnished look at Obamacare’s effects

original article: My Defective Obamacare Health Insurance Product Just Blew Up
October 27, 2016 by Mary Katharine Ham

Like many other Americans, I got a letter last week. This letter is becoming an annual tradition, arriving on my doorstep in October to inform me of my Obamacare insurance premium hike.

Last year, the letter said my Bronze plan, purchased on the marketplace formed by the, ahem, Affordable Care Act, would increase by almost 60 percent.

This year, my premium is going up 96 percent. Ninety-six percent. My monthly payment, which was the amount of a decent car payment, is now the size of a moderate mortgage. The president refers to these for thousands of citizens as “a few bugs” when to us it feels like a flameout.

For this astronomical payment, I get a plan with an astronomical deductible that my healthy family of three will likely never hit except in the most catastrophic of circumstances.

Let’s rewind to my pre-Obamacare health care situation. Throughout my life and career, I have had both employer-based coverage and significant periods during which I bought private insurance with high deductibles and low premiums. During the run-up to Obamacare, President Obama referred to these plans as “junk” plans, but my family and I received perfectly good care and service through them. We were responsible, healthy citizens consuming a small amount of health care, paying out of pocket for most of it, and making sure we weren’t deadbeats should something catastrophic come to pass. Our health insurance was a rational and responsible purchase.

The President’s Huge, Broken Promises

When President Obama sold Obamacare to the American people, he promised three things. 1) That we could keep our plans if we liked them. 2) That the new system would offer competition between great options through an Obamacare marketplace, and 3) That our premiums would go down. Not “go up slower” or “go up but eventually go down,” but go down— $2,500 was the figure.

The letter I got last week is a betrayal of every one of those promises. I did not get to keep the plan I liked. The new system does not offer competition between great options through an Obamacare marketplace. And my premiums have gone up more than 150 percent in two years.

This was all predictable and predicted, by many (including me!).

Hillary Clinton conceded this reality at the second debate in response to an audience question about the Affordable Care Act. She said, in effect, “It’s not affordable, but it does other stuff.”

“Well, I think Donald was about to say he’s going to solve it by repealing it and getting rid of the Affordable Care Act. And I’m going to fix it, because I agree with you. Premiums have gotten too high. Copays, deductibles, prescription drug costs, and I’ve laid out a series of actions that we can take to try to get those costs down.”

As most apologists for the law do, she listed the handful of things people like the sound of— more people insured, no pre-existing conditions, lifetime limits on out-of-pocket costs, stay on your parents’ insurance until you’re 26!

But those benefits came with added costs, mandates, and overhead, and we’re now seeing the fruits of the whole law in a 25-percent average rate increase. When congressional Democrats were constructing the worst legislative Jenga tower of all time, they called critics’ predictions “lies.”

But here we are with lower-than-expected participation in exchanges, extremely low numbers of healthy young people in the risk pools, and insurance companies jacking up rates or exiting the exchange entirely in an attempt to remain solvent under the weight of increasing benefits for increasingly older, sicker customers.

This in turn leads to less competition on the exchanges, which leads to fewer young and healthy people buying into these terrible and terribly expensive products. The Department of Health and Human Services determined one of every five people shopping on Obamacare’s exchange has only one insurer to choose. This is what the death spiral you may vaguely recall the president dismissing in 2009 looks like.

Buying Really Expensive Junk

I have many blessings, two of which are the means to pay for health insurance and the good fortune not to need much of it. As a result, in the post-Obamacare world, I am a prime gouging target. I’m seeing a 96 percent increase because I am healthy, unsubsidized, and getting fewer and fewer choices. My health care companyabandoned the lowest-tier Bronze option entirely in its attempt to stay solvent, funneling me into a Silver plan with higher levels of care I don’t need at a higher price I don’t want.

My individual deductible is more than two times the high deductible on my old “junk” plan. My family’s deductible is ten times what the IRS defines as a high deductible. I now pay a high premium for a high-deductible plan, while also paying co-pays and out-of-pocket costs, meaning my plan is both junkier and more expensive.

Two points follow from this, neither of which has anything to do with feeling bad for me. But my 96-percent increase in premiums is a useful, unvarnished look at Obamacare’s effects. One, if this is a hardship for me—if I’m sitting around thinking about all the lost opportunity and savings in that giant monthly sum— so are many others who have far less than I do. Even with subsidized premiums, many are finding they can’t afford their deductibles, making their “affordable” health insurance useless.

Mr. Fanning, the North Texan, said he and his wife had a policy with a monthly premium of about $500 and an annual deductible of about $10,000 after taking account of financial assistance. Their income is about $32,000 a year.

The Fannings dropped the policy in July after he had a one-night hospital stay and she had tests for kidney problems, and the bills started to roll in.

Josie Gibb of Albuquerque pays about $400 a month in premiums, after subsidies, for a silver-level insurance plan with a deductible of $6,000. ‘The deductible,’ she said, ‘is so high that I have to pay for everything all year — visits with a gynecologist, a dermatologist, all blood work, all tests. It’s really just a catastrophic policy.’

Further, the system simply funnels customers into far more expensive plans every year unless they go to the semi-functional exchange during November and December to look around for something else. How many miss the letter and open enrollment thanks to living their lives between Thanksgiving and Christmas and end up with a New Year’s present in the form of a new bill they can’t afford?

Punished For Rejecting Expensive Junk

Two, is it any wonder exchange enrollment isn’t what the Obama administration hoped and needed it to be? Putting aside the embarrassing launch debacle (also predictable and predicted by me!), the law has created products that aren’t worth buying. I’m a responsible citizen and single parent of two young children. Let’s think about the incentives this system presents.

It would make far more economic sense to pay the tax penalty for not having insurance, save the monthly payment, and squirrel it away for a catastrophic event that may never occur. Should a catastrophic event occur, work out a payment plan with doctors and hospitals, for which you’d use the squirreled away premiums until the next open enrollment period, at which point you just jump right back into a plan again because they can’t keep you out for preexisting conditions. Should a catastrophic event never occur, you’ve got no small part of a college education put away. My health insurance used to be a rational and responsible purchase. It’s beginning to feel like neither.

There are plenty of young, healthy people the system needs who are finding the same.As the New York Times reported last year at this time:

Alexis C. Phillips, 29, of Houston, is the kind of consumer federal officials would like to enroll this fall. But after reviewing the available plans, she said, she concluded: ‘The deductibles are ridiculously high. I will never be able to go over the deductible unless something catastrophic happened to me. I’m better off not purchasing that insurance and saving the money in case something bad happens.’

Those who support the law during its meltdown suggest jacking up the cost of rejecting this terrible product to make it more painful than the cost of the terrible product. To them, we are but Westley in the Pit of Despair and they are the technocratic torturer at the switch puzzling just how much pain they can inflict without going full Humperdinck and killing the strapping, young patient.

That’s how the Affordable Care Act became neither affordable nor care. It’s almost as if you could have predicted it. Inconceivable!

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Filed under: bureaucracy, economy, government, health care, politics, public policy, reform, tragedy, unintended consequences

Almost Everything the Media Tell You About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Is Wrong

original article: Almost Everything the Media Tell You About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Is Wrong
August 22, 2016 by Ryan T. Anderson

A major new report, published today in the journal The New Atlantis, challenges the leading narratives that the media has pushed regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.

Co-authored by two of the nation’s leading scholars on mental health and sexuality, the 143-page report discusses over 200 peer-reviewed studies in the biological, psychological, and social sciences, painstakingly documenting what scientific research shows and does not show about sexuality and gender.

The major takeaway, as the editor of the journal explains, is that “some of the most frequently heard claims about sexuality and gender are not supported by scientific evidence.”

Here are four of the report’s most important conclusions:

The belief that sexual orientation is an innate, biologically fixed human property—that people are ‘born that way’—is not supported by scientific evidence.

Likewise, the belief that gender identity is an innate, fixed human property independent of biological sex—so that a person might be a ‘man trapped in a woman’s body’ or ‘a woman trapped in a man’s body’—is not supported by scientific evidence.

Only a minority of children who express gender-atypical thoughts or behavior will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood. There is no evidence that all such children should be encouraged to become transgender, much less subjected to hormone treatments or surgery.

Non-heterosexual and transgender people have higher rates of mental health problems (anxiety, depression, suicide), as well as behavioral and social problems (substance abuse, intimate partner violence), than the general population. Discrimination alone does not account for the entire disparity.

The report, “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences,” is co-authored by Dr. Lawrence Mayer and Dr. Paul McHugh. Mayer is a scholar-in-residence in the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and a professor of statistics and biostatistics at Arizona State University.

McHugh, whom the editor of The New Atlantis describes as “arguably the most important American psychiatrist of the last half-century,” is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and was for 25 years the psychiatrist-in-chief at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. It was during his tenure as psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins that he put an end to sex reassignment surgery there, after a study launched at Hopkins revealed that it didn’t have the benefits for which doctors and patients had long hoped.

Implications for Policy

The report focuses exclusively on what scientific research shows and does not show. But this science can have implications for public policy.

The report reviews rigorous research showing that ‘only a minority of children who experience cross-gender identification will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood.’

Take, for example, our nation’s recent debates over transgender policies in schools. One of the consistent themes of the report is that science does not support the claim that “gender identity” is a fixed property independent of biological sex, but rather that a combination of biological, environmental, and experiential factors likely shape how individuals experience and express themselves when it comes to sex and gender.

The report also discusses the reality of neuroplasticity: that all of our brains can and do change throughout our lives (especially, but not only, in childhood) in response to our behavior and experiences. These changes in the brain can, in turn, influence future behavior.

This provides more reason for concern over the Obama administration’s recent transgender school policies. Beyond the privacy and safety concerns, there is thus also the potential that such policies will result in prolonged identification as transgender for students who otherwise would have naturally grown out of it.

The report reviews rigorous research showing that “only a minority of children who experience cross-gender identification will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood.” Policymakers should be concerned with how misguided school policies might encourage students to identify as girls when they are boys, and vice versa, and might result in prolonged difficulties. As the report notes, “There is no evidence that all children who express gender-atypical thoughts or behavior should be encouraged to become transgender.”

Beyond school policies, the report raises concerns about proposed medical intervention in children. Mayer and McHugh write: “We are disturbed and alarmed by the severity and irreversibility of some interventions being publicly discussed and employed for children.”

They continue: “We are concerned by the increasing tendency toward encouraging children with gender identity issues to transition to their preferred gender through medical and then surgical procedures.” But as they note, “There is little scientific evidence for the therapeutic value of interventions that delay puberty or modify the secondary sex characteristics of adolescents.”

Findings on Transgender Issues

The same goes for social or surgical gender transitions in general. Mayer and McHugh note that the “scientific evidence summarized suggests we take a skeptical view toward the claim that sex reassignment procedures provide the hoped for benefits or resolve the underlying issues that contribute to elevated mental health risks among the transgender population.” Even after sex reassignment surgery, patients with gender dysphoria still experience poor outcomes:

Compared to the general population, adults who have undergone sex reassignment surgery continue to have a higher risk of experiencing poor mental health outcomes. One study found that, compared to controls, sex-reassigned individuals were about five times more likely to attempt suicide and about 19 times more likely to die by suicide.

Mayer and McHugh urge researchers and physicians to work to better “understand whatever factors may contribute to the high rates of suicide and other psychological and behavioral health problems among the transgender population, and to think more clearly about the treatment options that are available.” They continue:

In reviewing the scientific literature, we find that almost nothing is well understood when we seek biological explanations for what causes some individuals to state that their gender does not match their biological sex. … Better research is needed, both to identify ways by which we can help to lower the rates of poor mental health outcomes and to make possible more informed discussion about some of the nuances present in this field.

Policymakers should take these findings very seriously. For example, the Obama administration recently finalized a new Department of Health and Human Services mandate that requires all health insurance plans under Obamacare to cover sex reassignment treatments and all relevant physicians to perform them. The regulations will force many physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers to participate in sex reassignment surgeries and treatments, even if doing so violates their moral and religious beliefs or their best medical judgment.

Rather than respect the diversity of opinions on sensitive and controversial health care issues, the regulations endorse and enforce one highly contested and scientifically unsupported view. As Mayer and McHugh urge, more research is needed, and physicians need to be free to practice the best medicine.

Stigma, Prejudice Don’t Explain Tragic Outcomes

The report also highlights that people who identify as LGBT face higher risks of adverse physical and mental health outcomes, such as “depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and most alarmingly, suicide.” The report summarizes some of those findings:

Members of the non-heterosexual population are estimated to have about 1.5 times higher risk of experiencing anxiety disorders than members of the heterosexual population, as well as roughly double the risk of depression, 1.5 times the risk of substance abuse, and nearly 2.5 times the risk of suicide.

Members of the transgender population are also at higher risk of a variety of mental health problems compared to members of the non-transgender population. Especially alarmingly, the rate of lifetime suicide attempts across all ages of transgender individuals is estimated at 41 percent, compared to under 5 percent in the overall U.S. population.

What accounts for these tragic outcomes? Mayer and McHugh investigate the leading theory—the “social stress model”—which proposes that “stressors like stigma and prejudice account for much of the additional suffering observed in these subpopulations.”

But they argue that the evidence suggests that this theory “does not seem to offer a complete explanation for the disparities in the outcomes.” It appears that social stigma and stress alone cannot account for the poor physical and mental health outcomes that LGBT-identified people face.

As a result, they conclude that “More research is needed to uncover the causes of the increased rates of mental health problems in the LGBT subpopulations.” And they call on all of us work to “alleviate suffering and promote human health and flourishing.”

Findings Contradict Claims in Supreme Court’s Gay Marriage Ruling

Finally, the report notes that scientific evidence does not support the claim that people are “born that way” with respect to sexual orientation. The narrative pushed by Lady Gaga and others is not supported by the science. A combination of biological, environmental, and experiential factors likely account for an individual’s sexual attractions, desires, and identity, and “there are no compelling causal biological explanations for human sexual orientation.”

Furthermore, the scientific research shows that sexual orientation is more fluid than the media suggests. The report notes that “Longitudinal studies of adolescents suggest that sexual orientation may be quite fluid over the life course for some people, with one study estimating that as many as 80 percent of male adolescents who report same-sex attractions no longer do so as adults.”

These findings—that scientific research does not support the claim that sexual orientation is innate and immutable—directly contradict claims made by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in last year’s Obergefell ruling. Kennedy wrote, “their immutable nature dictates that same-sex marriage is their only real path to this profound commitment” and “in more recent years have psychiatrists and others recognized that sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable.”

But the science does not show this.

While the marriage debate was about the nature of what marriage is, incorrect scientific claims about sexual orientation were consistently used in the campaign to redefine marriage.

In the end, Mayer and McHugh observe that much about sexuality and gender remains unknown. They call for honest, rigorous, and dispassionate research to help better inform public discourse and, more importantly, sound medical practice.

As this research continues, it’s important that public policy not declare scientific debates over, or rush to legally enforce and impose contested scientific theories. As Mayer and McHugh note, “Everyone—scientists and physicians, parents and teachers, lawmakers and activists—deserves access to accurate information about sexual orientation and gender identity.”

We all must work to foster a culture where such information can be rigorously pursued and everyone—whatever their convictions, and whatever their personal situation—is treated with the civility, respect, and generosity that each of us deserves.

biology, civil rights, culture, government, homosexuality, ideology, judiciary, justice, politics, science, sex, study

Filed under: biology, civil rights, culture, government, homosexuality, ideology, judiciary, justice, politics, science, sex, study

HS teacher – To be white is to be racist, period

original article: ‘To be white is to be racist, period’: H.S. teacher’s classroom message exposed by angry student
October 19, 2016 by Dave Urbanski

An Oklahoma high school student became disturbed at what she was seeing and hearing during a recent class, so she pulled out her cellphone and started recording.

The teacher of the elective philosophy class at Norman North High School was heard on the recording saying “to be white is to be racist, period.”

Image source: KFOR-TV

“Am I racist?” the teacher was also heard asking the class. “And, I say ‘Yeah.’ I don’t want to be. It’s not like I choose to be racist, but do I do things because of the way I was raised?”

The student who made the recording spoke to KFOR-TV; her face was obscured and her voice was altered to protect her identity. “Half of my family is Hispanic,” she told the station, “so I just felt like, you know, him calling me racist just because I’m white … I mean, where’s your proof in that?”

She added: “I felt like he was encouraging people to kind of pick on people for being white.”

Her cellphone also caught a video being shown to students depicting an actor brushing white-out across countries on a globe and then writing a new name over the white space.

Image source: KFOR-TV

Image source: KFOR-TV

“So he was basically comparing what he’d done to the globe to what we did to America,” the student told KFOR regarding the clip that focused on Native Americans.

“Why is it OK to demonize one race to children that you are supposed to be teaching a curriculum to?” asked the student’s father, whose face also was hidden and voice also was changed.

“You start telling someone something over and over again that’s an opinion, and they start taking it as fact,” the student added to the station. “So I wanted him to apologize and make it obvious and apparent to everyone that was his opinion.”

read full article

bias, corruption, culture, diversity, education, hate speech, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, patriotism, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, racism, racist, relativism, scandal

Filed under: bias, corruption, culture, diversity, education, hate speech, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, patriotism, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, racism, racist, relativism, scandal

Remember those experts who said condoms would reduce pregnancy and STDs?

original article: The Condom Conundrum
MORE PROPHYLACTICS, MORE TEEN PREGNANCIES
July 21, 2016 by John Stonestreet

Remember those so-called “experts” who assured us that condoms would cut rates of fertility and STDs? Well, they now face a conundrum.

Those who’ve pushed condoms like candy in public schools have given us any number of rationales. They told us that young people “are going to do it anyway,” so more condoms would equal fewer pregnancies. They also said that more condoms would lead to fewer STDs, or sexually transmitted diseases. And as they proceeded to pass out condoms by the handful to our school-age children, they told us that religion and morality should be left out of it, in the name of public health and, of course, science.

New research, however, suggests these prophets of prophylactics were wrong—desperately wrong—and that it’s time for a fresh look at the issue.

A recently released study by University of Notre Dame researchers Kasey S. Buckles and Daniel M. Hungerman has found that access to condoms in schools actually increases teen pregnancies by about 10 percent—that’s right, increases it! Buckles and Hungerman selected 22 school districts in 12 states that started such programs back in the 1990s, including New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The study analyzed teen-fertility data from nearly 400 high-population counties over a span of 19 years.

Among the contributing factors Buckles and Hungerman cite is the possibility that condom-distribution programs can crowd out efforts to encourage young people to delay sexual activity. Condom-distribution programs may actually encourage more teenagers to have sex.

Is this really that surprising? If adults tell teens that the decision to engage in sex is theirs and give them condoms, what message do they receive?

It makes sense, especially given another finding of the study. Buckles and Hungerman found that sexual activity, along with STDs, increased in counties with condom-distribution programs. This puts a lie to all those lofty assurances from the Sexual Left that condoms would prevent all that. No, more likely, they encouraged it!

Michael J. New, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Michigan at Dearborn, notes that this ugly outcome likely is a result of increased sexual risk-taking as a result of condoms in the schools. All at taxpayers’ expense.

Now Buckles and Hungerman are quick to point out that they believe the effects of teen fertility would be less alarming if the condom-distribution programs were also accompanied by mandatory sex-ed counseling. But New says such education efforts would not totally offset the jump in teen fertility caused by condom distribution. There would still be more births to teenaged mothers, and presumably more teen STDs, than if there were no condoms in the schools in the first place.

“Overall,” says New, “the study adds to an impressive body of research which shows that efforts to encourage contraceptive use either through mandates, subsidies, or distribution are ineffective at best or counterproductive at worst. In many countries, increases in contraception use are correlated with increase in the abortion rate.”

Now it would be optimistic at best to assume that the folks who brought these condom-distribution programs to us, and their cheerleaders in the media, would own up to the conundrum they have created and work to make things right. But no, we’ll have to do that ourselves.

So the first step to changing what our schools do is to read the study and make sure that members of your local school boards have a copy. Just come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary for a link to it, along with more information to get you up to speed.

And second, we shouldn’t be surprised that non-Christians teach our sons and daughters a non-Christian worldview concerning the human body, the unitive act, or marriage. Teaching our own kids about sex and design and relationships and marriage, while pointing out and countering the lies about sex proclaimed in the culture, is first and foremost our job as parents and as Christian communities.

children, culture, education, ideology, science, sex, study, unintended consequences

Filed under: children, culture, education, ideology, science, sex, study, unintended consequences

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