Monthly Archives: March 2014

I’m a Title IX Girl, But This is Ridiculous

The place: Detroit, Michigan. The scene: a newly-renovated baseball field, paid for by the fundraising efforts of the baseball player’s parents. The crime: that the field is unequal to the girls’ softball field.  The result: the new seats were ripped out and are in storage until there is a solution that is acceptable to everyone.

I’m a Title IX girl, a woman who earned nine varsity letters in high school and is profoundly grateful for the same opportunities that men have. But the spirit of Title IX was never meant to extend to equality of results in private efforts.  It would be problematic if a school were to allow the boys’ baseball team to fundraise to improve their stadium, but not the girls to do the same; likewise, it would be a problem if the school pushed a disproportionate amount of its funding to the boys’ facilities.

Here is the relevant section of Title IX:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

Yes, in theory, disproportionate fundraising for an effort that also receives federal funds would result in unequal treatment, but the touchstone is that the programmes operate in a non-discriminatory manner.  No one is alleging that the school set out to discriminate against the girls; the only allegation is that the result of private efforts by parents is disproportionate.

Cry me a river.  This makes a mockery of a great achievement for women’s athletics.

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Filed under Academia, Law

Please, just eat real food

Via Insty, the news that health researchers have now concluded that food that has been eaten for generations (e.g. butter) is good for you, even if it contains saturated fat.

I don’t have anything particularly insightful to say, except that our bodies can figure out how to digest plant and animal fats, but haven’t exactly evolved to know how to best deal with SnackWells, processed foods, or fad foods.  Unfortunately, no one really gets rich off of the produce, butter, dairy, and meat aisles, so don’t expect this advice to really take off. Also, news media don’t get rich off of republishing things that have been known to be true for the last few hundred years and are still true.

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ObamaCare costs $1.5 trillion? Quelle Surprise!

Remember how ObamaCare was “budget neutral” and would provide higher-quality insurance to more people for no extra money?

Sorry, folks: the numbers are out, and it’s going to cost us $1.5 trillion – and yes, if current trends continue, fewer people will have health insurance than before this monstrosity took effect.

In a free-market system, costs go down and access goes up: people find a way to streamline production and delivery of goods and services so that they can undercut their competition and gain market share.  That’s why it cost about ten thousand dollars a year for a car phone in 1980, but modern cell phones with Internet access are available for $50/month.

However, Moore’s law and its equivalents do not apply to socialist (or heavily government-run) systems.  In fact, the reverse happens: more money for less product.  It is, in all ways, the reverse of the free-market progress outlined above.  That, my friends, is what happened with ObamaCare.

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Filed under Economics, ObamaCare

Risk Calculus, Kids in a Suburban Shopping Mall Edition

Recently, researchers performed an experiment by asking two children to act as if they were lost in a shopping mall.  More than six hundred passerby refused to help them.  This caused all sorts of wailing and gnashing of teeth about how horrible and cold-hearted humans are; when it was pointed out that men have zero desire to be accused of child molestation (a reasonable result), the powers-that-be howled that we ought to risk our own well-being for others.  (Short version and links, here.)

That’s only a reasonable argument to people who cannot distinguish between fighting in WWII and playing Russian Roulette.

If two kids were standing on a street corner in a bad section of town at midnight, I might risk jail to make sure they are okay. But two safe, healthy, sane kids in a crowded suburban shopping mall?  Hell, no, I’m not going to have to call my dad from jail and ask him for bail money, a retainer for a lawyer (who isn’t me), and hey, while he’s at it, ask him if he can feed my cat while I’m in the hoosegow.

The hand-waivers and pearl-clutchers have not adequately explained why our well-being and the well-being of our families is of so little importance that it should be disposed of for the most trivial of concerns. We’re all willing to take risks for genuine danger to others, but that’s hardly the issue that was “tested” here.

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Filed under Miscellanea

#MAGOP14, Part 3: the Grassroots Activists v. Keyboard Slacktivists

Over the past five years, I’ve done a lot of political and policy work in the Commonwealth, from organising the first-ever Tea Party rally, working on campaigns, testifying before the State House, running a ballot initiative, and serving on various Boards of Directors.

Every time I’m there, I see the same activists there in the trenches fighting for a better Commonwealth.  There aren’t a lot of us out there, and we all get to know each other.

Since 2010, there has been a tall, amiable fixture in the door-knocking and donation circles: Charlie Baker.  The guy is fifty years old and does the work that twenty-somethings often do, which is knocking on the doors of total strangers and asking them to vote for someone for state representative.  Those “someones” are always fiscal conservatives and are often social conservatives.  Baker has also donated extensively to conservative candidates. (See OCPF for full details.)

One pro-life delegate said that he supported Charlie for pro-life reasons: Baker has done more for the pro-life movement than Fisher has.  Fisher proudly stated that he is pro-life (to the cheers in the delegates); however, as far as any of us know, he hasn’t done anything to advance the pro-life cause.

The same ideological division is echoed in delegates and conservative voters.  I personally have zero patience with the keyboard jockeys whose only contribution to the cause is to bitch on Facebook and my blog about how they are going to get Charlie to lose.  Aside from the fact that you don’t show strength by getting people to lose – you show it by winning – slactivism is just plain irritating.  Go out and find a better candidate (who can get more than one-in-six conservative activists to support him or her), campaign for that person, spend your own time and money trying to get them to win, and then you can talk about what an awesome political animal you are.

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#MAGOP14 Thoughts: the Fisher Lawsuit

Breaking this morning: Gubernatorial hopeful Mark Fisher is meeting with lawyers to discuss suing the party over Saturday’s vote.

From a legal perspective, it’s a non-starter: courts are (thankfully) very loathe to interfere with the judgement of state political parties.  Just for a moment imagine the reverse, wherein a Democrat-appointed judge would be the arbiter of what happens at a Republican convention, or vice-versa.

Moreover, the issue itself is murky: Fisher needed to get 15% of the vote.  If delegates who cast a blank ballot are counted, then Fisher received less than 14.8% of the vote; if they are not counted, then Fisher received 15.1% of the vote.  Mass GOP Convention rules state do not list blank ballots as disqualified ballots (Sec. 17); however, parliamentary authority for “any and all matters not covered by these Rules” is governed by Robert’s Rules of Order (Sec. 24).  In regards to votes requiring a majority or 2/3ds vote of those present, Robert’s Rules states that blank ballots do not count towards the majority requirement (e.g. if 15 people are present and four cast blank ballots, only six votes are needed for a majority).  However, Robert’s Rules is silent on the situation presented before the MA GOP.  It would seem, then, that any ballot not disqualified under Sec. 17 would be permitted.

As such, and given the deference given to the Party’s interpretation of its rules, it is hard to understand what legal basis Fisher has for his lawsuit.  The remarks by his campaign manager, Debbie McCarthy, are telling:

McCarthy said the Fisher campaign was mulling “a civil suit in order to get e-mails, text messages, and phone records to prove collusion [between Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts Republican party].”

In a two-way race, this guy couldn’t get more than 15% of delegates in attendance to vote for him, so he’s suing in order to go on a fishing expedition through the Charlie Baker team emails and communications.

Stay classy, Mark.

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Massachusetts GOP Convention 2014: First of (Many?) Posts

Yesterday, I participated in the Massachusetts Republican State Convention as a delegate from my town.  The only contested state race was for Governor (although there will be a primary for U.S. Senate); I cast my ballot for Charlie Baker.

In the past, I’ve described my political stance as “a bit to the right of Antonin Scalia.”  Nevertheless, I voted for Charlie Baker and not Mark Fisher for several reasons.  The first of those is that I asked myself:

Is this candidate ready and capable of being the CEO of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?

The “CEO” question is an inherently conservative one, a query that focuses on the role and duties of an office, not on pretty slogans (e.g. “Hope and Change”), identity politics, feelings, or grandstanding.

Charlie Baker is ready and capable of handling that job.  Mark Fisher, by all accounts, is not – and even his campaign speech yesterday hinted at that.  (Fisher’s entire discussion was about the election, not about what happens starting on 05 November 2014.)  Baker’s speech was about budgets, education, roads, children in the custody of DCF, etc. – an inherently conservative vision of the role of governor.  Fisher promoted his conservative leanings, but had no coherent vision of what a governor ought to do (or what he would do as governor), only to be.  It was a bit like listening to the conservative version of Barack Obama: “Elect me because I am.”

Sorry, Mark Fisher, but if I wanted to elect a guy whose sole goal is getting himself elected, I would be a Democrat.

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Repeal, Replace, Send to Resolute Desk

As speculation has grown about the Republicans retaking the Senate this November, so has the discussion about what it would mean for Democrats.  Short answer: nothing, unless the GOP grows a set.  If that happens, however, it will be a death knell for liberalism.

The House and the Senate can repeal the “Affordable” “Care” Act and replace it with a simpler act that enables people to buy insurance across state lines, removes the employer and individual mandates, allows for a broader range of insurance products to be sold (e.g. catastrophic insurance, 80/20 plans, and those with great networks), and ends the business of having young people subsidise older people.  Of course, the IRS would not be a part of it: it would be nothing more than free-market principles on display.

They then send this Act – which would be rather popular with the people – to the Resolute Desk for a signature.  President Obama would then either have to sign in the repeal of his signature achievement or veto a very popular bill.

The added bonus? Republicans would be the party of good idea that people like, not the party of no.

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Lillian Rearden, Please Call Your Office

In a blow to actual feminism, a woman at a tech firm, one Julie Ann Horvath, got rid of a carpet that proudly declared the place to be a meritocracy.  (Hat tip.)  Here’s a sample of the nonsense:

Technology may be more meritocratic than many other industries, but not to the extent that you can attribute anyone’s success solely to their own smarts and hard work. Opportunities, connections and socioeconomic status still matter. So do race and gender.

By those standards (“if it’s not perfect, it doesn’t exist”),  there is no such thing as a meritocracy, nor is there such a thing as misogyny, nepotism, or anti-meritocratic principles.  If the son of the CEO got hired because he’s the son of the CEO and he’s a good programmer, then it’s not nepotism.  See:

Technology may be more nepotistic than many other industries, but not to the extent that you can attribute anyone’s success solely to their lineage. Smarts and hard work still matter. So do performance reviews.

Actual feminists are all for meritocracies, because being judged on our merit is one of the best things to happen to those who don’t want to be judged on their chromosomes.  If the place claims to be a meritocracy but is not, you can at least hold the powers-that-be accountable based on the standards they have set for themselves. Nothing’s perfect, but a place that tries to be a meritocracy is about as close to perfect as you’re going to get.

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The Wallet is Mightier than the Mouth

James Taranto discusses Obama as a celebrity in regards to ObamaCare and how young people are just not that into it:

Obama supporters have a quaint faith in the power of marketing. They don’t seem to grasp that persuading people to vote for one politician over another–essentially a cost-free proposition–is a far smaller order than persuading them to purchase an expensive product, especially one that offers a poor value for their money.

With all respect due to Mr. Taranto, I think the problem is not one of marketing, but of reality. President Obama seems to think that saying something will bring it into being, as if he had watched too many Hollywood movies wherein a particularly inspiring speech changed the course of history.  A speech can remind people why they fight, but it can’t save lives; it can inspire people to try something, but it cannot ensure their success; and there is nothing about speech that is inherently accurate.

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Filed under Economics, Individual Mandate, ObamaCare