25 November 2015

A Campus Protests About Nothing: Racial grievances used to lever quotas and money

Stephen Kershnar
Missouri and Yale: Race-Based Takings
Dunkirk-Fredonia Observer
November 21, 2015

The academic world is focused on recent protests at University of Missouri and Yale University.

At the University of Missouri, black students and their allies claimed the administration was racially insensitive. This led to protests, a threatened boycott by the football team, and a single student going on a hunger strike, which in turn led to the resignation of the chancellor of the university and the president of the University of Missouri system. The movement was led by a group (Concerned Student 1950) that demanded quotas (10% of faculty and staff must be black), mandatory diversity training, and fewer black students flunking out or leaving.

At Yale University, a protest over two married professors’ mild replies to the university’s sensitivity hectoring on Halloween costumes led to students angrily confronting one of them over his strong support of free speech. In response to the confrontation and related protests, Yale decided to buy off the protesters. It promised to spend $50 million to hire more black and Hispanic faculty, implement mandatory diversity training for supervising professors and staff, increase financial aid to low income students (they already pay little to no tuition), and put more money into its racial and ethnic cultural centers.  

Other universities are being hit with similar protests. An elite and traditionally Jewish University (Brandeis University) has been hit with protests demanding, you guessed it, quotas (10% of faculty and staff and 15% of students must be black), mandatory diversity training, and increasing funding for black student organizations and programs. Similar protests and pressured resignations have occurred at Princeton, Dartmouth, and Claremont-McKenna College.

The overall pattern is stunning. First, even if all the alleged acts of race hatred at Missouri did occur, they are so few and minor as to not warrant much attention, let alone a panicked response, by top-level administrators running massive universities (their budgets and resources are sometimes in the billions).  

Second, many, if not all, of the high profile acts of race hatred probably didn’t happen. Over the years, many of the high profile acts of alleged race hatred, and probably most, have turned out to be hoaxes. By this I mean that the perpetrator was black, Hispanic, or a liberal white trying to make a statement rather than an expression of white hatred.

As Ashley Thorne writing for the National Association of Scholars points out, there have been a series of documented campus hoax crimes in recent years, such as those at Trinity International University (2005), George Washington University (2007), the University of Virginia (2007), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2011), Central Connecticut State University (2012), University of Wisconsin at Parkside (2012), Montclair State University (2012), and Vassar College (2013). Overreactions and hoaxes have also occurred at elite institutions, such as Bowdoin, Dartmouth, Princeton, and Williams.

Third, some of the protests have been accompanied by thuggery. Witness, for example, the shoving and physical intimidation of reporters at the University of Missouri and the violence that broke out at Dartmouth. The toleration of thuggery to intimidate faculty and students and lever the administration is an ominous sign.  

Fourth, the hypocrisy is troubling. As Victor Davis Hanson in National Review points out, the black Missouri football threatened to boycott games based racial underrepresentation when blacks were 50% of the team, roughly four times their percentage of the population. Apparently, overrepresentation of blacks in football is not an issue but overrepresentation of whites and Asians in theoretical physics is.

The real issue, though, is the attempt to use dubious racial grievances to replace white and Asian students and faculty (and especially Jews at elite institutions) with blacks.  

It is uncontroversial that, on average, black (and Hispanic) students at elite institutions have significantly less academic ability than their white and Asian counterparts. Consider, for example, University of Michigan. In 2005, University of San Diego law professor Gail Heriot reports that the average black student had SATs roughly 200 points lower than the average white student and 250 points lower than the average Asian. Were a white or Asian student to have the scores of the average black student, he would have a 1% chance (if white) and 0% (if Asian) of being accepted. This matters because IQ scores correlate with SATs and are a strong predictor of academic and job performance. Having (on average) lower scores predictably leads to black students having worse grades, lower graduation rates, and switching from rigorous majors (for example, hard sciences) to easier ones.   

UCLA law professor Richard Sander and others have shown that ratcheting up black students into schools in which their competition outclasses them hurts them. It leads to their failing or dropping out more often than they would were they to attend schools in which they were better matched with their peers. It also leads to their being unable to pass professional entrance exams (for example, medical boards and the bar) more often than would occur if they were better matched.  

For example, Sander showed that the average black law student was in the bottom 10% of his class. This is entirely unsurprising given that they had an academic index score more than two standard deviations below their average white competitor. How would you do in a race in which your best times going into the race were well below those of most of the other runners? Is it any wonder, then, that black students get discouraged and firms and clients are wary of black lawyers and doctors?

The lowered standards also lead to executives, engineers, doctors, and lawyers who perform worse than would a white or Asian who would otherwise have received the educational slot. This leads to worse decisions in these fields and thereby hams consumers and employers. For example, putting a subpar teacher in the classroom, on average, harms decades of students. The same is true for subpar executives and doctors. The ratcheting effect also leads to wasted resources as black law and medical students flunk the entrance exams with disturbing frequency and sometimes never end up passing, thereby wasting the resources that went into educating them.

Perhaps the harm is outweighed by the benefits that come about through role-modelling, diverse ideas, or improved interracial relations, but I am unaware of any study that shows these benefits outweigh the costs. In addition, it is implausible that this is true. No one thinks that the New England Patriots would do better if they replaced black and Hispanic players with less meritorious Jews or Asians. There is little reason to think that boardrooms or operating rooms are different.

The protesters are trying to use racial grievances, dubious and in any case infrequent, to implement quotas and to shift money, educational spots, and jobs from whites and Asians to Blacks. This is not good for the country or academia and probably not even good for blacks. 

11 November 2015

2015 Budget Deal: Republicans Betray Conservative Voters

Stephen Kershnar
Republicans Stab America in the Back
Dunkirk-Fredonia Observer
November 7, 2015

In passing the recent two-year federal budget deal, the Republican Party leadership stabbed America in the back. Every year, Republicans run for office promising to reduce the size and scope of the government and yet every year, like Lucy with the football, they fail to deliver.

The spending cap (budget sequester) is a multi-year limit on spending increases that was put in place in 2011 to prevent the flood of spending that childish Democrats seek each and every year. Because Republicans did not otherwise attempt to cut government spending, the cap did a lot of work. It played a central role in tamping down the growth of government from the piggish levels that occurred during Obama’s first few years in office and in reducing the deficit to less obscene levels.

Writing in Investor’s Business Daily, Stephen Moore points out that even with the cap in place, the federal budget was scheduled to rise by 6% in 2016. In contrast, he notes, inflation is less than 2% and incomes have stagnated for a decade. So what did the Republicans do? They signed off on a deal that in effect destroyed the cap and increased federal spending by 8% next year. So while incomes haven’t increased much in a decade, the Republicans gave the government an 8% raise. What the hell?

Thrown in for good measure by the Democrats and their Republican collaborators was a further raiding of social security revenue and a $32 billion increase in off-budget war spending. The latter is especially galling because labelling spending off-budget is just more dishonest budgeting. The off-budget war spending complements the $40 billion increase in military spending because where would this country be if we couldn’t continue our foreign adventures in Afghanistan and the Middle East and edge ever closer to war with Iran, Russia, and China?

The Republican leadership also raised federal debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion dollars to a total of nearly $20 trillion. During the Obama presidency, the debt has nearly doubled and the Republican collaborators greenlit much of it. The debt is now larger than the economy and more deficits loom ahead.  

What have we gotten from this spending orgy? A number of taxes on the middle class and rich have gone up and the economy stagnated. From 2009-2014, the economy grew at a pathetic average of 1.4% per year and this is with immigration swelling the population. We’ve seen a litany of scandals involving the IRS (targeting of TEA party groups), ATF and Justice Department (Fast and Furious cover up), Veteran’s Department (unnecessary deaths due to incompetence), State Department (Benghazi-related mess), and so on. We’ve also see the Obama administration trample on the Constitution by amnestying millions of illegal aliens, ignoring the law on Obamacare and bankruptcy involving the car companies, starting an illegal war in Libya, and so on. Nothing here merits an 8% raise.

The left loves the raise. They have become completely unhinged from economic reality. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wants to jack up income tax rates on the rich to 70%. Not to be outdone, Hillary Clinton wants to tax capital gains (investment income) at 44%. One can only imagine the damage such policies would produce. 

To be fair, most Republicans did not vote for the spending orgy. Roughly two-thirds of Republican senators and representatives voted against it. Republican Congressional leadership, specifically, Paul Ryan (R-WI), John Boehner (R-OH), and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), broke their campaign promises and passed a far left spending deal using Democrat votes. Of course, the shame of New York, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), voted for it, but so did our representative: Tom “RINO” Reed. In so voting, Reed is begging for a primary challenge.

How conservatives and libertarians should respond to this betrayal? There aren’t too many options. First, they can keep on voting Republican and hope that adult legislators (for example, Freedom Caucus) gain influence. The problem is that there is little indication that this will happen. The beltway Republicans have not been made to relinquish power and there is little reason to think they will do so in the near future.

Second, they can vote for a new party. This runs the risk of splitting the right’s vote.

Third, they can sit out an election and snap their wallets closed when Republicans show up hat in hand. This risks empowering the left as their voters will still show up.

These are bad choices. Were the U.S. not approaching a point of no return in terms of the size of government, the debt, and, most importantly, the importation of many far left voters (legal and illegal immigrants), the second and third options might be the way to go. Unfortunately, the importation of new voters makes these options less viable, so conservatives and libertarians will have to go with the first. Perhaps a middle ground can be found where the right refuses to fund the national party and RINOs like John McCain (R-AZ) and Tom Reed get primary challenges.

The gloves in national discussions have to come off. If the left wants to make elections a battle of identity-politics, the right should welcome this development. The left can explain how its candidates are the right choice for blacks, Hispanics, unmarried women, and poor people. The right can explain how its candidates are the right choice for whites, married women, the middle class, and rich people. With the parties increasingly appealing to different sectors of the population, Republican candidates can focus on energizing their base rather than reaching out to groups that haven’t and won’t vote for them, in large part because they like socialism. Not only will focusing on turning out the base work better (see, for example, Reagan’s success and Newt Gingrich’s and the TEA party insurgencies), it will prevent the core beliefs of Republican voters from being ground into the dirt.