September, 2005


30
Sep 05

Watch the math sparks fly

The best commentary on the Bill Bennett comments have come from the Freakonomics guys, who did seem to start the entire thing.

Bennett’s offensive commentary

CALLER: I noticed the national media, you know, they talk a lot about the loss of revenue, or the inability of the government to fund Social Security, and I was curious, and I’ve read articles in recent months here, that the abortions that have happened since Roe v. Wade, the lost revenue from the people who have been aborted in the last 30-something years, could fund Social Security as we know it today. And the media just doesn’t — never touches this at all.

BENNETT: Assuming they’re all productive citizens?

CALLER: Assuming that they are. Even if only a portion of them were, it would be an enormous amount of revenue.

BENNETT: Maybe, maybe, but we don’t know what the costs would be, too. I think as — abortion disproportionately occur among single women? No.

CALLER: I don’t know the exact statistics, but quite a bit are, yeah.

BENNETT: All right, well, I mean, I just don’t know. I would not argue for the pro-life position based on this, because you don’t know. I mean, it cuts both — you know, one of the arguments in this book Freakonomics that they make is that the declining crime rate, you know, they deal with this hypothesis, that one of the reasons crime is down is that abortion is up. Well —

CALLER: Well, I don’t think that statistic is accurate.

BENNETT: Well, I don’t think it is either, I don’t think it is either, because first of all, there is just too much that you don’t know. But I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could — if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.

Now mind you, nowhere does he point out the obvious point that even if we did successfully prohibit abortions in this country we would only move the bankruptcy date of Social Security back a few years, having not changed the pay-in to pay-out ration that much.

One point that Leavitt makes is quite interesting, to wit:

4) When a woman gets an abortion, for the most part it is not changing the total number of children she has; rather, it is shifting the timing so those births come later in life. This is an important fact to remember. One in four pregnancies ends in abortion and this has been true for 30 years in the U.S. But the impact of abortion on the overall birth rate has been quite small.

This is unsourced and I would like to see some data and theory on the matter.

Beyond that, it’s amazing how large the indignation industry is in this country. Here was a statement which, true or false, kind-hearted or malicious, did not kill or hurt anyone, and left no one richer or poorer. The fact that many people got exorcised about this empirically meaningless statement is amazing. It says a lot about the wealth we have as a society when we can afford the endless chattering classes.


30
Sep 05

Fun with education

While it’s strange that the priests of the education establishment always maintain that the presence of middle and upper class students helps out lower-class students, what is actually most interesting about this article is that the misspellings of “lose” (as in not win) are equal to it’s correct spellings (3 apiece).


30
Sep 05

Two unrelated things

Via Instapundit, some thoughts on profiling and lawsuits

As I recall, though, the detainees were charged with various crimes — such as immigration law violations, etc. — not simply with “being Muslim.” And, in fact, these guys were apparently guilty: “Elmaghraby and Iqbal were deported to their home countries after serving time for charges unrelated to terrorism — Elmaghraby for a counterfeiting charge and Iqbal for fraud.”

Prosecutors enjoy nearly unlimited discretion on whom to prosecute, and if federal prosecutors chose to prosecute people they feared might have terror connections for unrelated crimes I don’t see how that can make out a constitutional violation. Perhaps, though, I misunderstand the claim, as the story isn’t very clear.

And my favorite Irish band from Wisconsin, the Kissers have an interesting tour blog.


29
Sep 05

Before anyone asks

Before anyone asks, I’m very fine with DeLay being indicted. Particularly after his “no more fat to cut” statement.

Further on that thread, see the Franklin Delano Bush by David Boaz of Cato and this column by Mark Steyn, money quote:

Big-time Republicans tell me Bush’s profligacy is doing a great job of neutralizing the Dem advantage in the spending-is-caring stakes. This may have been true initially — in the same sense as undercover cops neutralize a massive heroin-smuggling operation by infiltrating it. But, if they’re still running the heroin operation five years later, it looks less like neutralization and more like a change of management.


28
Sep 05

Well put

From Dr Sowell

It is a shame that ancient history is seldom taught in our schools. Finding out that people thousands of years ago were basically pretty much the way they are today — people of every race, color, creed, national origin, political ideology and sexual orientation — would reduce our chances of having Utopian hopes for big changes any time soon.


28
Sep 05

A useful vicious

This month’s winner for biting commentary comes, not surprisingly, from Jeff Clark who dubbed The Aristocrats “an endurance contest for chronic masturbators”.

I haven’t actually seen the movie., but I haven’t heard much good about it.

And speaking of endurance contests, September is conspiracy to stop me from getting more than 5 hours of sleep a night. I finally have a light day and I get a new client with a crash and burn project that keep me up till 5:30, writing a blog post while files upload.


28
Sep 05

Deep thought

If you had to think of a name for a band or rugby team, you could do a lot worse than the Green Apple Splatters.


27
Sep 05

Rambling thoughts on hearing peace speeches

I apoligize for the rambling nature of this post, but my brain is a bit foggy right now.

Two notable things.

  • If Cynthia McKinney is going to have a hyperbolic denunciation of the past 5 years, she should really get the details right. Cheney is from Wyoming, not Montana.
  • “people signaling passing helicopters with gunfire” is the most ludicrous statement ever made.

There some other weird things such as Ramsey Clark’s statement that “We’ll only be safe when the defense budget is cut by 90%”, the weird attempt to link Haiti and the Palestinians to anything and everything, the endless self-congratulation and so much more.

I suppose the underlying (and unconscious) theme behind all of the speeches was the need for authenticity, which really wasn’t there.

I was reminded of the “Fingerbang” (they form a boy band) episode of South Park when the mall manager pans their audition. One of them says “But we tried out best!” The mall manager: “Really? That was your best? Wow.”


27
Sep 05

Well put by Kaus

The ever-readable Mickey Kaus has some good insight

Escape from TimesSelect: The NYT’s Tom Friedman, in an exceptionally blowhardish appearance on Meet the Press, laments the effect of massive U.S. borrowing from China:

I think we have–we are now in a position where China has– they’re heading for $1 trillion, OK, of our–in reserves that they’re going to be holding, basically. And the leverage that is going to give China over the United States in the coming years, God knows where– how that’s going to play out.

Hmm. If you lend a trillion dollars to someone, does that give you leverage over them or them leverage over you? I’d always thought it was the latter, especially when the debtor is a sovereign nation. (Keynes: “Owe your banker 1000 [pounds] and you are at his mercy; owe him 1 million [pounds] and the position is reversed.”)

It’s worth noting that the Chinese (and whoever) are gambling on the US Government keeping it’s word and paying back all of their debts, which seems a bit iffy.


27
Sep 05

Vegan fist

Naturally I was drawn to Vegans file lawsuit over surveillance at ham store.

That day, two vegans — vegetarians who eat only plants and plant products — were wrapping up an animal cruelty protest with a handful of other vegans when they noticed a man in a CVS pharmacy parking lot taking pictures of them.

Later, they would learn that the man was an undercover homeland security detective, according to a federal lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia filed Thursday on the vegans’ behalf.

Short version: they have some protest, some guy takes pictures of them, they get the photographers tag number, photographer has them pulled over and then takes paper containing tag number.

Grievances: They claim their right to privacy was violated, he claims he needed the car to be used in further undercover work (which is to say he regarded his earlier actions as private).

There are too many annoyances to list individually so I’ll just stick with this one.

The primary complaint of both parties was that the other violated their right to privacy in some way. While the abortionistas have been trying to define privacy as inherently vaginal this goes even further in lunacy.

Both parties were obviously and self-consciously in public when all of this happened, namely in the Honeybaked Ham parking lot.

One can’t be in private and in public at the same time.

However isn’t it nice these three found each other?