Friday, March 27, 2015

Ellen Pao's Lawsuit Ends In A Kleiner Perkins Clean Sweep

The news came out earlier today that Ellen Pao's lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins came out snake eyes for the plaintiff. I don't have a good handle on the particulars of the case yet, as I haven't read the trial brief, but this does not look, even from Verge's biased telling, as though Pao's would be anything but a weak case. She fought Kleiner Perkins, who has historically hired more women than is typical in Silicon Valley, and maybe more importantly, could call on partner Mary Meeker, an epic defender of frauds during the height of the first wave of dot-com collapses who subsequently failed up from Morgan Stanley to Kleiner Perkins. Perhaps knowing what she owed them, she was all too happy to provide a good story for Kleiner. If the feminist mob that "needs a win" in their legal and other campaigns against perceived sexism would seek her head for this, they'll first need to grapple with the fact that "ethical fluidity is not a liability in Silicon Valley". That is to say, at first glance, Pao's case appears to have been a weak one, and she had bad legal advice in pursuing it.

Update 3/28/2015: Upon rereading the Verge piece linked above, a couple passages popped out at me for what they actually said first about the story and second about Pao herself:
[T]here’s an expectation — a fantasy, even — of what putting Silicon Valley on trial for sexism should look like. But Meeker’s statements on the witness stand served as another reminder that this lawsuit is not Ellen Pao vs. Institutionalized Sexism. This is Ellen Pao invoking California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act and possibly coming up short.
This is Verge author Nitisha Tiku going off the deep end, willfully blinding herself to the reality that just happened. One does not sue under Fair Employment acts without it being a case of discrimination; the hope, I suppose, is that if we can call it something else, maybe our worldview won't have to be altered. Try again, Nitisha. And then, this (emboldening mine):
Where Pao had notebook after notebook of complaints, Meeker could not have seemed less bothered by the state of affairs. ...
 Who the hell keeps a journal of insults at work — except perhaps someone who always planned to sue in the first place? This is the action of a brittle, thin-skinned, and humorless individual.

Update 3/28/2015 11:49 PDT: Entitlement mentality kicks in, in particular, this:

"Level the playing field for everyone" = "make me partner or I'll sue you because I have a vagina/the right skin color/the right surname/etc." Yeah, no.

Update 3/29/2015: Pretty good summary of predictable media reaction from Joe Concha at Mediaite:
As you can imagine, it’s virtually impossible to find a column that actually supports the jury’s decision to dismiss all counts. That Mashable headline is almost correct, but should be modified to read: Ellen Pao trial loss sends shock waves through media establishment that really, really wanted her to win and never imagined a jury would actually dismiss every claim she entered

A bit cumbersome, but more accurate nonetheless.

And so it goes when it comes to a gang-rape that never happened at UVA…or a recklessly false narrative out of Ferguson… or Ellen Pao’s multiple claims of discrimination that a jury didn’t buy:

Facts mean little. It’s the conversation that comes afterward that matters.

Even if that conversation is built on a house of cards.

Death Before McHonor: Taco Bell's New Creepy, Totalitarian-Themed Ad Campaign

Thanks to @Clarkhat (and this tweet) for an inspired yet deeply disturbing ad campaign from Yum! Brands showing a dystopian, just-pre-perestroika eastern European country run by a totalitarian (and yet vaguely familiar!) clown:

That's all to say, it depicts a dystopian world, but the whole concept also can't help but come across as some kind of meta wormhole, like a microcosm of capitalism trying to devour itself. A smaller fast-food giant is knocking a bigger goliath for creating a fantastical totalitarian communist state, wherein the greatest strain on individual freedom is uninspired food, and the most dire physical threat to would-be defectors is whatever horror befalls a person who gets hit by a confetti bomb, or jumps into a grimy ball pit. (Though, in fairness, it's always been hard not to wonder what's lurking in the bottoms of those things—they're too colorful to trust.)

In fact, the campaign's biggest problem may be that it's too well done. The visuals nicely mimic the state-sanctioned artwork of the communist era—e.g., majestic sunburst portraits, imposing statues—and morph it into a series of creative, dog-whistle attacks. In addition to the epic narrative ad, which will air as a :60 on the season finale of The Walking Dead this Sunday, there's a mock-propaganda video (which might remind some gamers of BioShock) and a series of posters espousing the principles of the breakfast dictatorship.
It really looks very like a campaign someone my own age would have assembled — especially the pull of the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop", which would have been timely in that era. I probably would have left it there but for another take that @Clarkhat linked to, one from someone whose family had to endure those exact horrors:
On the one hand, I am genuinely grateful to live in a world of such plenty, such color, diversity, and vibrancy that the grim, dark warnings of George Orwell can end up as fodder for corporate pissing contests. It suggests that the mass exterminations of the Soviet Union and Nazi Europe are now quaint artifacts of a Whig history, now long overcome. On the other hand, I have actual relatives (in-laws, to be specific) who had to hide buried in outhouse shit to escape Red Army rape squads. So fuck you, Taco Bell I guess is what I'm saying.

Twelve million human lives were fed into the slaughterhouse that was 20th century totalitarianism. Twelve million people, or at least their descendants, might still walk the earth today were it not for the horrors inflicted by the governments whose imagery Taco Bell ad execs felt comfortable deploying in ads for their diarrhea factory slop.
 Yes. This.

Bechdel By Other Means

I recently encountered an essay about an attempt at making a separate-but-equal programming test analogous to the famous Bechdel Test inspired by a tweet from Laurie Voss:
I confess that this is one of the stupidest ideas I've ever heard in my life, and yet another sign that Slashdot, whence I got it, is increasingly overrun with Social Justice Warrior types and thus jumping sharks with metronomic regularity. In all this raving about female underrepresentation in tech fields, a persistently missing perspective is that of the employer, i.e. why should a woman make a more appealing choice than a man for a particular job? Just as Jackie Robinson represented a means for the Dodgers to acquire low-cost "amateur" talent as first movers, there has to be a motivation for employers to hire women. That should be the case if the "77 cents on the dollar" factoid were true; no rational employer would throw away that kind of advantage, and should stock their cubicles with women almost exclusively. Yet it doesn't happen, and it's hard to conclude otherwise than that there's some underlying reasons for it, such as a preference for fewer hours and more time spent at home. This exact trend animates Sweden's labor market, which (along with the other Scandinavian countries) is one of the most sexually segregated. That is to say, it is a direct consequence of choices women make that their feminist "betters" expressly reject.
Consider, in this regard, the gender disparities in engineering. An article on the Wharton School website laments the paucity of women engineers and holds up China and Russia as superior examples of equity. According to the post, "In China, 40 percent of engineers are women, and in the former USSR, women accounted for 58 percent of the engineering workforce." The author blames workplace biases and stereotypes for the fact that women in the United States earn only 20 percent of the doctoral degrees in engineering. But perhaps American women earn fewer degrees in engineering because they don't have to. They have more opportunities to pursue careers that really interest them. American women may be behind men in engineering, but they now earn a majority of all Ph.Ds and outnumber men in humanities, biology, social sciences, and health sciences. Despite 40 years of consciousness-raising and gender-neutral pronouns, most men and women still gravitate to different fields and organize their lives in different ways. Women in countries like Sweden, Norway and Iceland enjoy elaborate supportive legislation, yet their vocational preferences and family priorities are similar to those of American women.
Instead of worrying about whether module X engages function Y based on the sex of the author, shouldn't we be more concerned about whether the damn thing works as designed? Acolytes of the cult of Ada Lovelace never have much interest in providing value to the end customer, or even asking how meeting their demands would result in customer value. There is in programming no female analogue to either the Negro Leagues, the color line, or Jackie Robinson, i.e. employers are free to hire women, and in fact do so. Such data as we do have suggests women choose not to enter the field in the first place — which is not the fault of employers or coworkers. In the absence of actual polling data, proof by repeated assertion and hyperbolic conclusion-assuming is all we have, and nowhere close to conclusive. In fact, it represents the same kind of willful reality denial we see in the many feminist "rape" studies that insist on answering important questions for women rather than asking them directly: there's a justifiable fear in the questioner that the "right" answer won't come back often enough.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fraternities Fight Back Against Title IX Sexual Assault Adjudication

Some good and overdue news from Bloomberg in the form of a new initiative from a lobbying group serving college fraternities and sororities, called FratPAC, will pressure Congress to constrain campus sexual assault adjudication under Title IX (emboldening mine):
The Fraternity & Sorority Political Action Committee, or "FratPAC,'' and two other groups will ask Congress to block colleges from suspending all fraternities on a campus because of a serious incident at a single house. In addition, the Greek representatives want a rule against "any mandate'' for chapters to go co-ed.


"Campus judicial proceedings'' should be deferred "until completion of criminal adjudication (investigation and trial),'' according to an e-mail sent to students selected to lobby for fraternities.

Joelle Stangler, the University of Minnesota student body president, said the fraternity groups' efforts are "extremely problematic.''

"Adjudication on campuses is incredibly important for victims and survivors, to make sure they receive some sort of justice,'' said Stangler, who has worked with a Minnesota advocacy group for sexual-assault victims.
The very language, of course, makes plain that as per usual, the entire point of this exercise is the creation of a system whereby the man is convicted upon accusation.  Entirely unsurprisingly, both Salon and Feministing are immediately and vigorously opposed, using exactly the same "victim" and "survivor" language that presupposes its conclusions. Ashe Schow continues to do fine work on this subject with her rebuttal piece in the Washington Examiner:

What the Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee (note that it represents sororities as well) actually wants is for the American justice system, which has the training and expertise to investigate felonies like rape, to do its job before colleges and universities become caught up in political witch hunts.

FratPAC also wants universities to stop overreacting to accusations of sexual assault by suspending all Greek activity when an accusation comes from a single fraternity — like what happened at the University of Virginia following a now discredited gang-rape allegation.

...locking people up (or kicking them off campus) based solely on an accusation — without any other evidence — flies in the face of due process. What's more, to allow schools to adjudicate campus sexual assault doesn't do real justice for the accusers, either. The most a school can do is expel someone. That, to echo Gillibrand, leaves potential serial rapists wandering the streets, putting public safety at risk. A criminal court can actually take these dangerous people off the streets.
 That is the strongest point to be made here: the asymmetric and unjust nature of punishment. A real rapist merely gets expulsion but not prison time; a falsely accused man will end up with a label that would end his college career.

How Medicare Feeds The Physician Shortage

One of the big issues feeding medical cost growth is the current physician shortage, exacerbated by increasing numbers of retirees (and their attendant needs to see physicians), and a too-small pipeline of new physicians. I knew that the AMA had a great deal to say about that (and Federal funding as well), but I did not know the specifics until this great post at the Mercatus Center laid it all out:
Adding to the problem, and yet less noticed, is how the financing of graduate medical education is restricting the supply of doctors. This will be a surprise to many readers — Medicare funds GME [Graduate Medical Education] and residency programs. To be a licensed physician, a person must attend medical school and then pass board certification (both at great expense). What a lot of people outside the field of medicine don't realize is that to be a licensed physician, a doctor must also complete additional graduate medical education in a residency program. Finding a proper "match" for a residency relies in part on an algorithm that appears more complicated than astrophysics.

A Wall Street Journal article addressed the problem of a residency program shortage back in 2013, but the financing problem has only increased since. According to the Institute of Medicine, taxpayers provide $15 billion in GME support; Medicare provides $9.7 billion, Medicaid $3.9 billion, and the Veterans Health Administration an additional $1.4 billion. These funding levels have essentially been capped since 1997.

From a public policy perspective, it is questionable whether the federal government should finance GME, or whether hospitals that benefit from the cheap labor of residents should be picking up the cost of training doctors. Either way, without additional resources to fund residency programs, the nation may end up with a shortage of physicians and limit the availability of retirees to see and choose a doctor.
The state breaking the link between supply and demand, while putting in competitive moats for a politically powerful lobby? Say it ain't so...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Winning The Victimhood Lottery

It's an easy and fun game to replace a lot of feminist screeds with "black", or in Janet Bloomfield's latest piece at ThoughtCatalog, "Jew", and see just how awful they sound. They're not all equally terrible — some map poorly because, yes, there are qualitative differences between men and women. But one clear winner is shiny hate machine (and first entrant) Jessica Valenti, whose column claiming it "wouldn't matter" if feminists hate men provides an interesting insight into how bigots justify their bigotry. She lazily wheels out the Eliot Rodger killings as evidence that "[w]hen men hate women, they kill us", conveniently eliding the fact that four of the six people he killed were men (PDF). But the really fun part is this passage:
But a younger generation of feminists has embraced what Slate writer Amanda Hess calls “ironic misandry”. Hess wrote last year that the rise in popularity of “male tears” mugs and man-hating inspired shirts and crafts serves as a sort of fuck-you to the constant barrage of harassment that feminists often face: “On its most basic level, ironic misandry functions like a stuck-out tongue pointed at a playground bully.”
Which is to say, it's okay for her to be unpleasant to men, to hold things they consider affronts in utter contempt — but entirely wrong for men to do the same to her. Hypocrites like Valenti have no self-awareness, and represent a very real form of entitled behavior, that of the spoiled brat.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

What The Hell Was This Helicopter Doing Over Salt River Fields?

Tuesday, St. Patrick's day (March 17, for those unconcerned with gratuitous excuses to hit the liquor), I was at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, watching a split-squad Angels team demolish a hapless Rockies team in more or less like their regular season configuration. Mike Trout's two home runs and a surprisingly strong pitching effort by Drew Rucinski were the highlights of a crushing 11-0 shutout. What really bugged me — perhaps, literally — was this:

This helicopter flew overhead and hovered low over the stadium. As I had my long lens with me, I took a couple shots of it. Here's an even closer shot:

What is that thing the guy's dangling out of the helicopter? And why all the pointy things on the boom? Antennas? Maybe a stingray they bring to the park? And if so, why?

The hull number, N204LC, correctly identifies it as a Robinson R44 II, but based in Missoula, MT, a bit of a haul for a chopper with a 350 statute mile range.

This is very weird.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

I'm Sorry Wendy Thurm Thinks Her Son Might Become A Rapist

I did not grow up in a household as the son of a mother equipped with a vague horror that she might have inadvertently created a rapist, but apparently this has happened to Wendy Thurm's son, who has been getting this sort of indoctrination since he was "three, maybe four years old" (emphasis mine). Her reason for this, such as it is —
Why would I worry that my son would someday force a woman to have sex with him, against her will?

Because outside our family, he has been and will continue to be bombarded with images and words that encourage boys to view girls as weaker and dumber and less worthy of respect. As objects of sexual desire to be judged by their looks and discarded when no longer useful. He's been told that rape jokes are funny and anyone who doesn't think so just doesn't have a sense of humor. That's why.
That is, this is just another rehash of "bad people exist in the world and so he could turn out to be one of them". It's a raging paranoia aimed at men, an undercurrent that pollutes modern feminism from Susan Brownmiller's Against Our Will on. K.M. O'Sullivan neatly expressed this attitude in a blog post when she wrote,
A culture of misogynist sexualization and violence against women has reshaped that talk [parents have with children about sex] in ways that make me incredibly sad and, at times, overwhelmingly angry because I am a mother to sons—only sons. I am a mother raising the “enemy”.
Which is to say, I pity the boy who tried to run away from a mother so convinced of his predetermined guilt that she insisted he listen to her harangues
Even when his eyes glazed over. Even when he mumbled, "Yes, Mom, I get it" as his fingers fiddled on his phone. Even when he tried to escape to his room with the door closed.
Yes, I can imagine that. A childhood spent as an enemy, or if not that, a potential changeling who could at any moment become a monster, with a perpetual background radiation of guilt, one from which there is no atonement or absolution. It is one thing to transmit values, and quite another to ceaselessly browbeat.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Weak Cup Of Tea: Consent In Procrustes' Bed

I saw this piece the other day at The Loop and found it so perfectly silly that it needed a brief rebuttal. Consent is easy! claims the author of the original essay at Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess, whose blog name gives you a sense of the author's grasp of adult realities. As is frequently the case, she starts with a wholly unobjectionable premise that rapidly goes off the rails once it encounters a more complicated reality:
It seems a lot of people really, REALLY don’t get what ‘consent’  means. From the famous “not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion” to the student that (allegedly) thought he’d surprise his partner with some non consensual BDSM to that fucking song to almost every damn comment on any article by anyone that suggests that yes means yes; it seems people really have a problem understanding that before you have sex with someone, and that’s every time you have sex with them, make sure they want to have sex with you. This goes for men, women, everyone. Whoever you are initiating sexytimes with, just make sure they are actually genuinely up for it. That’s it. It’s not hard. Really.

If you’re still struggling, just imagine instead of initiating sex, you’re making them a cup of tea.

You say “hey, would you like a cup of tea?” and they go “omg fuck yes, I would fucking LOVE a cup of tea! Thank you!*” then you know they want a cup of tea.
So, wow, hey, this really is super easy! Except, well,
  1. Nonverbal consent? How do we know it?
  2. Consent where alcohol or drugs are involved?
She tries, bravely, to hit on the second point:
If they are unconscious, don’t make them tea. Unconscious people don’t want tea and can’t answer the question “do you want tea” because they are unconscious.
Because of course the only outcome of alcohol consumption can be blackout drunk. And this is where determining consent gets hard — especially for outsiders tasked with determining whether an actual rape occurred — because there are a spectrum of such outcomes. Bill Cosby and his serial mickeys applied to a number of women over the years? Rape, especially given the volume of accusers and the similarity of their stories. But what of consent given under the influence at levels well below unconsciousness? As the anonymous author of "An Open Letter To OCR" makes plain (emboldening mine),
You do not know what I face every day in responding to a student culture of alcohol-infused hook-ups, where regrettable sex is a daily occurrence. The law has defined sexual misconduct as any activity that takes place with a person who is incapacitated by alcohol or other drugs. That makes sense, until you have to determine what "incapacitation" entails. I'm not much of a drinker myself, but I know that a couple of drinks loosen my tongue enough to say things I might never say without the alcohol. Am I incapacitated? No. But my judgment is impaired.  

In some situations, the student who is the accuser is clearly incapacitated -- practically (or actually) unconscious. In most cases, though, it's the impairment of her judgment -- agreeing to have sex with someone who, the next morning, she will regret having had sex with -- that causes her friends and supporters and other campus employees to tell her she's been sexually assaulted and needs to file a complaint. This process then begins the long journey down the rabbit hole of OCR-specified response that never ends well
In the Princess' telling, there is no gray area between blackout and sobriety. This is a strange assertion, because an immediate counterexample comes to mind, that of the DUI laws. In California, driving with blood alcohol levels under 0.08% is not considered drunk driving. So clearly, the law makes a distinction there, and yet she insists that consent "isn't complicated". Considering consent is the very basis for deciding whether a rape occurred — a felony which could put away an offender for years — this is a dangerous oversimplification. Moreover, it also reduces women to a state of overgrown children: one glass of wine is the same as six shots of tequila in an hour, with no distinction to be made between the two. In this telling, why should women ever be allowed access to alcohol? Moreover, the whole reductive analogy, one which demands consent at every turn, fails to comprehend how actual human sexual relations transpire. As one of the commenters put it,
The idea that ALL acts of sexual intimacy MUST start with verbal consent is not only ridiculous, it is destructive because it denies even the possibility of relationships being built on trust. Your rules ‘criminalise’ natural, spontaneous, loving behaviour and this obsession with verbal consent just one more example of how feminism is destroying healthy, grown up male/ female relationships and society in general.


Your rules are basically saying “I am not able to handle complex, subtle, nuanced adult relationships and interactions – so treat me like someone with special needs”.

And to be clear, I have no problem if that’s how YOU want to be treated. But it’s unfair for you to demand the rest of us to give up our spontaneous, thoughtful, fun, trusting and loving adult relationships and interactions just to accommodate you. And it’s ungracious to just insult other people for taking issue with your demands.
Amen. I find it interesting that, upon confrontation with specific locations where this Procrustean analogy falls down, the Princess immediately falls back to "I can see that you still don’t know what an analogy is", which is a sure sign of an intellectual handicap, the confusion of an analogy with the real world. Either you believe your argument is serious, and try to defend it, or confess its limitations. Consent isn't easy, especially, not from the outside, but like all fundamentalists, the author apparently cannot operate off her reservation.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Everything Is Sexist

Violating my general rule that squeakers don't deserve rebuttal, I come to a Buzzfeed piece entitled "31 Times Celebrities Gave The Best Damn Responses To Sexist Questions". That it appears on Buzzfeed — a widely-read website — sort of gets me off the hook for that, but it isn't the same as taking down an Amanda Marcotte or Jessica Valenti. So I reckon that I should preface this piece with the observation that, yes, there are sexist men in the world, but if you publish a lot of weak examples in with your supposed strong arguments, maybe you're just yelling into the echo chamber. I mean —
  • #1, Or, Celebrity Interviews 101 : Anne Hathaway brushes aside questions about her diet. Um, hello, duh, it's a celebrity interview! Of course they're going to ask about your diet!
  • #2, Or, Paging Judith Martin: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler use an their awards show introduction to George Clooney to instead talk about... his wife? Why is this sexist? Because we always have to be talking about women? And, the hell, guys? This is borderline rudeness in the Kanye West vein.
  • #3: Math Is Always Sexist: Clueless TNT dork asks Mayim Baylik of Big Bang Theory "how many people think you can solve a calculus [sic] at the top of a hat?" Which she deftly replies to with, "I was trained in calculus for several years. I'm a neuroscientist." I mean, yay? The guy clearly hadn't prepared for the interview, but it's not like he said, "Hey, as a girl, how hard is it for you to math?"
  • #5/6: How Dare You Ask About Her Dress/Makeup! Seriously softball questions, and intrinsically sexist, because, why?
  • #11, Or, The Reward Of The Male Feminist: Interviewer to Megan Fox: "The fact that there aren't many superhero films with superheroines, with female leads. What's your take on that? Do you feel it's time, like it's a matter of time before we see more of those?" That this is labeled sexist is the most astonishing example from these, because it shows how the author (and let's be honest, a good deal of modern feminism) isn't especially interested in developing allies; they want permanent contrition. If you own a penis, you're just guilty of being a terrible person, a priori, and no argument is possible. It's terrible to suggest that we should see more women in leading roles? Quelle horreur. (The fact that Fox gets all cranky at the interviewer does not lead me to think she is an especially decent human, either; after all, he's there presumably to promote her brand.)
Not all of them are terrible, and some are funny: the mani-cam (#17) was a silly idea, and good for Elizabeth Moss for giving it the finger it deserved. Zooey Deschanel's remarks about feminism's straitjacket (#8) are, within the context of this piece, both true and positively subversive. But this list is larded with worst-case assumptions about the interviewer, male or female, and inflates stupidity into malice at nearly every turn.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Incentives Matter, College Rape Adjudication Edition

A fascinating tale from Deadspin regarding a case of alleged rape at the hands of a trio of basketball players at the University of Oregon. (The woman went to police almost immediately, which establishes credibility there; the local district attorney declined to file charges, though the players were expelled and transferred to a different school.) What makes this case especially interesting is how this shows the imbalance between university and student, the incentives acting on the university (i.e. keep the whole thing quiet), and the astounding legal tools that the university can bring to bear upon the accuser — including access to her complete medical records, thanks to a little-known and remarkably broad law known as FERPA. Quoting attorney Katie Rose Guest Pryal,
Now, you may know that Ferpa applies to most colleges and universities. What you might not know is that, as the FAQ states, Ferpa therefore applies to "the records on students at the campus health clinics of such institutions. These records will be either education records or treatment records under Ferpa, both of which are excluded from coverage under the Hipaa Privacy Rule." In plain English, college medical records simply do not count as real medical records, at least for privacy purposes.

Although Ferpa provides a slightly different definition for "treatment records" than for "education records," the difference is, shall we say, academic, because the same disclosure rules apply: "[A] school may disclose an eligible student's treatment records for purposes other than the student's treatment provided that the records are disclosed under one of [Ferpa's] exceptions to written consent." And one of those exceptions to disclosure with consent? When the student sues the institution.
 Deadspin continues:
FERPA is the same law that schools routinely use to block public record requests. So now, not only can schools use it keep its scandals in the dark, they also can use it to fight off lawsuits in court related to those scandals. For American universities, FERPA really is the gift that keeps on giving.
Really astonishing.

Monday, March 2, 2015

What Investigative Reporting Of Rape Looks Like

This isn't perfect — Rasheed Sulaimon's refusal to go on record is pretty damning against him, as is the anonymous nature of the accusers for their case (although in the circumstances, understandable) — but it's a big step forward compared to the hysterical and airy Rolling Stone story, or Emma Sulkowicz's empty slander.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Most People Escape Minimum Wage Quickly

I frequently enough encounter this trope that it's worth rebutting at some length:

This is supposed to make a case for improving the lot of those in this world making minimum wage by raising it. The truth, however, is vastly more interesting. For this, we turn to the Bureau of Labor Statistics research on minimum wage employees (PDF), wherein we find slightly more than half (50.4%) of all such workers are under 25 years old. This is actually very good news, because it points to a crucial fact: most people get off the minimum wage early in their careers. To see why this is so, it's necessary to look at the labor force population by age bracket (available here as Civilian Labor Force, numbers as of January, 2015):
If half the minimum wage work force is in the left two brackets, it means the balance must be distributed among the others, and therefore less numerous in each one. In fact, only 1.6% of hourly employees older than 25 make minimum wage — or less! (How can that be?) Minimum wage work affects only a tiny number of people.

See also: this Pew Research piece.