Friday, November 30, 2018

Regulatory Compliance Costs: Keeping General Aviation Aircraft Stuck In The 1950s

A simply fantastic post about compliance costs overwhelming all else that needs to be read in its entirety to be appreciated:
General aviation is a tiny, but clear example.  Go to your local airport, and contrast the ramp (where planes park) to the parking lot. The ramp is typically an excellent example of a Cuban used car lot. Lovingly maintained aircraft either from the 1950s or designed in the 1950s predominate.  Beautiful, yes, to nostalgic eyes, but not exactly practical. Small aircraft engines are much less reliable than automobile engines. Why? Well, they all must be FAA certified, and it's not worth the cost to certify, say, a new model of spark plug. The parking lot is full of Teslas. Well, in Palo Alto. BMWs elsewhere. But stuffed with the latest technology. Planes are not inherently more durable than cars. They're just regulated differently.
Staggering. How many others must be like this?

Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Grievance Miners Expand The Wage Gap

The strip-miners of grievance have come up with yet another garbage "study" purporting to find an even bigger wage gap than had previously been reported, the bogus 80-cents-on-the-dollar having been multiply debunked (also all these). At first, we get the sense that The Atlantic's Annie Lowrey will treat this tendentious trash with the disdain it merits:
Comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges, women earn close to what men earn: Women in similar workplaces with similar titles and similar credentials make pretty much what their male peers do, whether they are fast-food employees making close to the minimum wage or corporate executives making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. This has led some publications to argue that the pay gap is far smaller than generally understood, and yet others to argue that the pay gap is a myth.
Oh, but we can't have that, so then, the backhand return:
This splicing of the data has its own serious shortcomings, though. Study after study has shown that women do not get equal pay for equal work, nor do they have access to equal work. Women struggle to get hired and to ascend the corporate ladder; in one study, men were promoted at a rate 2.2 to 3 percentage points higher than women. When women surge into a given field, pay in that field tends to drop, as if women were some kind of industry-wide reputational pollutant. The bulk of the evidence shows that women earn less, in part because of discrimination.

Moreover, women’s employment patterns are different from men’s, Rose, a labor economist at the Urban Institute, told me. They are less likely to work full-time and to spend years-long, uninterrupted stretches in the labor force. They are more likely to have to take time off to have a child, or to have to work part-time in order to care for family members.
Imagine, employers paying less for employees who spend less time on the job, who aren't willing to devote themselves to their employers. But it actually gets worse, if this is possible: reading the text of this "study" (PDF), the authors rapidly show their colors in just the highlights of their methodology:
When measured by total earnings across the most recent 15 years for all workers who worked in at least one year, women workers’ earnings were 49 percent—less than half—of men’s earnings, a wage gap of 51 percent in 2015.
So if a woman worked one year of fifteen, her earnings were piled up against a man who had worked all fifteen of them. That would include men who worked overtime, men who had continuous employment during that time. So of course they found women brought home less money. Could anything be more absurd?

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Conor Friedersdorf's Intersectional Blind Spot

Is there some reason Conor Friedersdorf keeps fumbling the snap? His memory lapses, even when the subject stares him in the face, as to how much power the intersectional left has already acquired (while thirsting for more) are disturbing. I first noticed it with his essay on the Scott Aaronson kerfuffle, in which he kept backfilling for the broken concept of "privilege" (though in the end he confessed it had no practical value in solving societal problems), and for his burying the comments of one of Aaronson's more vile detractors in a footnote. He pulled the same lame stunt with his essay responding to Susan Danuta Walters' two-minutes'-hate in the Washington Post, claiming such views were "unrepresentative" of modern feminism.

Well, here we go again, this time regarding Democrats complaining about the alleged racism of white women:
Some conservatives insist that performative, hyperbolic white-woman bashing is broadly representative of the Democratic Party and the political left. It is not. This rhetorical mode is widely seen as wrongheaded. In my experience, it elicits eye-rolling from most residents of deep-blue neighborhoods and from most Democrats in all racial groups. It is the work of a tiny, largely white, mostly privileged vanguard.
Widely seen by whom? Again and again, we see intersectional bashing of people because of their race, and especially, sex, and by people in very high positions of power. As for instance, a piece by Friedersdorf appearing days later in The Atlantic condemning the ACLU's craven and partisan rejection of Betsy DeVos's new Title IX rules. What is the construction of kangaroo courts with their "believe the victim" conclusion-assuming but presumptive male-bashing? As Scott Greenfield recently wrote, the ACLU under Anthony Romero has become just another social justice organization with only its name to reflect its origin story. How is it he dismisses Russlyn Ali's monster as somehow unrepresentative of widespread male bashing? How of legislative success in California adopting a bogus, unknowable "affirmative consent" rule for sexual encounters where consent can be revoked ex post facto by the woman with no knowledge by the man? It's like he doesn't even read his own copy.

Update 2018-11-26: Useful and interesting exchange between Friedersdorf and Scott Greenfield here, with additional response from Greenfield at Simple Justice; if I wanted to summarize my problem with Friedersdorf, I could scarcely do better than this graf from the latter: “Conor Friedersdorf is a name often mentioned here, both because I think he’s exceptionally smart and occasionally too kind, generous to a fault to people who might not be worthy of his largesse”. That's a good explanation of the problem I have with Friedersdorf: he routinely overlooks examples of bad faith.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

On Female Preferences In Men's Earning Power

I have for a while repeatedly gone back to a 2014 Pew Research study (usually via this HuffPo story) showing that 78% of women polled want a spouse with "a steady job". I've pretty much read that as meaning women are much more interested in male earning power than any other attribute of a potential spouse. But it came up in conversation yesterday on Twitter that maybe this is a weak interpretation:
This is a pretty good point, and the YouGov survey she links to puts money far down the list of women's concerns (last, by volume):

While I think this is an important distinction, it's also important to know what women do rather than say. And while I cannot make any unambiguous claims here, it seems there is a gap between what women claim they want, versus who they actually end up marrying — or even dating. I've previously covered the latter in the context of Tinder, a male-centric dating site that reduces its users to a photo and a swipe — the "hot or not" visual approach that men use as a first-cut means to assess women. That men can get away with this is largely due to demographic influences: women only infrequently marry down in either earning power or educational status, creating an artificial shortage of "eligible" men. More, a marginally-employed husband increases the annual divorce risk by one-third, and an unemployed husband increases the risk of either partner dissolving the marriage (emboldening mine):

We noted the asymmetric nature of gender change, such that, despite increases in women’s employment, there is little toleration for men not remaining employed breadwinners. A deviation from this norm appears to make either partner more likely to leave.
Consider this broad-brush interpretation of our findings: men’s nonemployment increases divorce because it violates norms, while women’s employment increases divorce by providing a way to support oneself outside marriage for women deeply unsatisfied with their marriages, not because it violates norms. Both of these effects probably emanate from the greater change in women’s than men’s roles; women’s employment has increased and is accepted, men’s nonemployment is unacceptable to many, and there is cultural ambivalence and lack of institutional support for men taking on “feminized” roles such as household work and emotional support. Women’s employment is translated into exit rather than voice in many cases because the changes that would most increase women’s marital satisfaction would entail men “feminizing” their roles in a way that many are still ambivalent about and institutions don’t support. Men’s breadwinning is still so culturally mandated that when it is absent, both men and women are more likely to find that the marital partnership doesn’t deserve to continue.
It's probably worth a deeper dive into the US Census Bureau's Current Population Survey to see how these numbers are affected by recency of marriage.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Betsy DeVos Announces New Title IX Rules, And The ACLU Hates Them

Reason's Robby Soave has a good look at the new Title IX rules Betsy DeVos released today. A quick synopsis:
1) They define sexual misconduct more narrowly. ...
2) The new rules mandate cross-examination.
Previous guidance did not explicitly forbid cross-examination, but it heavily discouraged the practice due to concern that questioning an alleged sexual assault survivor would be re-traumatizing. The new rules state that neither the accuser nor the accused need to be physically present in the same room, but their attorneys—or support persons provided by the university—must be allowed to submit questions on their behalf for the other party to answer.
3) The new rules let colleges set their own evidentiary standards but require similar standards for non–Title IX adjudication.
That last one has already set off the laughably misnamed ACLU, who ran a tweetstorm denouncing the revisions:
 Of course, FIRE came out in favor of the new regulations, but eliminating Federal policing of dating squabbles would have been better. Too bad we didn't get that, because somebody has to pay for these busybodies on campus.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

'Social Justice" As Religion

B.J. Campbell has an interesting, if incomplete, essay at Medium about the ways in which "social justice" resembles religion. Summarizing a YouTube talk by Helen Pluckrose, James Lindsey, and others, he writes:
Defining religion is tough, because there’s no explicit quality that defines them, but they share a broad range of features which bind them conceptually. They are meaning making structures, which help us make sense of things we find chaotic or don’t understand. Religious communities are organized around adoption and promulgation of certain moral principles. They have scripture, which conveys doctrines and ideology. They focus on moral purity, they focus on the in-group, they demonize the out-group, and they demonize and excommunicate blasphemers. They impart a sense of control, if not actual control, over uncontrollable circumstances.

Social Justice has all this stuff.

There are many important additional parallels. Religions have a tendency to identify everything good with God, so when a religious person hears an atheist say they don’t believe in God, the religious person has a tendency to hear that to mean they don’t believe in Good. Social Justice followers react the same way. When someone questions their equity driven approach to “equality,” that’s hate speech.”

Religious thinkers invent their own epistemologies, in such a manner that their religious teachings become unfalsifiable. The Social Justice approach to this is called “standpoint epistemology,” and finds its roots in cultural postmodernism. If you and I disagree, then that’s because we come from different standpoints, therefore you cannot falsify my claim because you lack my standpoint. This is the Social Justice adaptation of “God put the dinosaur bones there.”
I would argue that a better way to express this is, religious teachings explain the natural world with unfalsifiable first principles, which is what distinguishes them from empiricism. This, in fact, forms the primary reason "social justice", as currently understood, is a kind of religion. If you claim that patriarchy is a myth, that "male privilege" is easily disproved by looking at males in shabby conditions, you directly attack a first principle, and thus have exposed yourself a heretic, as James Damore. Scott Aaronson saw through this some long while back with his brilliant dismissal of "patriarchy".

More, to excuse themselves of acts they accuse others of, social justice advocates play dictionary games. Racism, as Campbell elsewhere writes, redefines the word to exclude academics engaging racist arguments — such as "white privilege". The problem this seeks to elide is that of preferring lazy generalization to taking into consideration specific circumstances, i.e. of having to actually think.

But back to religion, Campbell starts to wrap up:
We could easily take this realization that Social Justice is a religion and use it to bludgeon and troll its proponents, who generally proport themselves be anti-religion, but in my opinion that would be sloppy and unconstructive and generally not very nice.
Given its proponents repeatedly "bludgeon and troll" everyone outside academia, expecting them to kowtow to their benighted mob, "generally not very nice" describes the social justice pitchfork wielders. Theirs is an expansionist, totalitarian ideology, hostile to science. Grievance studies programs therefore rightly need to be chased out of public universities, on the same grounds that we do not have seminaries at Iowa State. If people wish to pursue women's studies, they may do so alongside the Yalies getting divinity degrees.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Physicians Per Capita Continues Up In 2016 FSMB Survey

Good news on a subject I've harped on before: physicians per capita as a fundamental cause of the cost of medicine. Absent adequate supply, it almost doesn't matter what kind of payment system we have: medicine can't get cheaper without a bigger workforce. Accordingly, the Federation of State Medical Boards has published their 2016 survey results (PDF). The topline figure of 953,695 alleopathic and osteopathic physicians represents a 12% increase since 2010, and a 4.09% increase from 2014. This is a 2.01% annual growth rate, which is slightly off the pace of 2.14% rate I calculated in January, 2017 based on the 2014 survey (no longer available). Given the overall US population rate appears to be growing at about 0.7% annually, this is more than keeping pace with overall population growth, a good thing.

Physician immigration continues to be important, with Indian physicians, and physicians studying in the Caribbean countries, being the two most important sources:

India by itself provides about 23% of the immigrant physician population, and 5.1% of all US physicians. A majority of doctors studying in Caribbean countries are US citizens, and this has been true for years:
The largest single age group of physicians is those in their 60s, something that will have consequences as this group nears retirement — and as modern medicine becomes more bureaucratic:
Women physicians under 40 are now nearly double the number of men in the same age cohort, reducing available physician hours:
In all, mostly good news, but there's still an obvious iceberg ahead with pending retirements, Trumpian immigration restrictions, the crisis of part-time physicians, and Medicare internship throttling.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Why #SokalSquared Will Fail

The hoaxes authored by merry pranksters James A. Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose, and Peter Boghossian (later dubbed "Sokal Squared" by Yascha Mounk after the 1996 Alan Sokal paper lampooning postmodernists) require at least brief comment. The criticism frequently seen that they have no control papers (i.e. nonsense sent to journals of other, presumably more rigorous disciplines) may be dismissed immediately on the grounds that it would require a good bit of specialized knowledge to do so that the trio outside of Lindsay (a mathematician) lack, and would in any event be unlikely to succeed. It is exactly the dogmatic and anti-empirical nature of grievance studies that make them so ripe for this sort of lancing:
Mounk, by phone, also said the control-group criticism is misguided. He called it a "confused attempt to import statistics into a question where it doesn’t apply." If the authors were claiming that their work proves that some publications are, say, 50 percent more susceptible to hoaxes than the average, or that 100 percent of articles published are nonsense because these seven articles were accepted, then you would obviously need controls. But the authors "do nothing of the sort. They demonstrate that it’s possible, with relatively little effort, to get bullshit published." It "sows deep doubt" about the nature of the academic enterprise in these disciplines.
In that regard, #SokalSquared has performed an admirable public service in exposing the intellectual rot at the heart of these alleged disciplines. (You can find the entire list of papers and their review process feedback here.)

But "alleged" is the real problem there, because none of them has really established a mechanism for correction. The trio described their hoped-for results in Areo:
 Our recommendation begins by calling upon all major universities to begin a thorough review of these areas of study (gender studies, critical race theory, postcolonial theory, and other “theory”-based fields in the humanities and reaching into the social sciences, especially including sociology and anthropology), in order to separate knowledge-producing disciplines and scholars from those generating constructivist sophistry. We hope the latter can be redeemed, not destroyed, as the topics they study—gender, race, sexuality, culture—are of enormous importance to society and thus demand considerable attention and the highest levels of academic rigor. Further, many of their insights are worthy and deserve more careful consideration than they currently receive. This will require them to adhere more honestly and rigorously to the production of knowledge and to place scholarship ahead of any conflicting interest rather than following from it.
This is ultimately wishful thinking, for a number of reasons.
  1. Administrators have less than no reason to perform such a review. As Camille Paglia observed, administrators hastily cobbled together women's studies departments because they "wanted to solve a public relations problem." That is, it would relitigate the foundations of these departments — reopening the same problems the administrators of the 1970s faced.
  2. It would create an existential crisis for members of those departments. Such a review will rightly be seen as a threat to the departments and positions thus created. A review panel including members of even mildly more structured, mathematically-inclined disciplines — say, psychology or biology — would draw shrieking protests, with good reason, because …
  3. The current intellectual laxity and dogmatism is a feature, not a bug. This may be seen, not only in their "un-care-about-able" journals pockmarked with intersectional cant, but in the sorts of arguments they and their defenders marshal otherwise. One such came out a few days ago in Inside Higher Ed from Joel Christensen and Matthew A. Sears as a response to the hoaxes. Larded with misdirections, personal attacks, slur-by-associations, and bait-and-switch tactics, it manages to be both underhanded and weak. If this is the best grievance studies defenders can do, it speaks to the infrequency with which they have to actually develop arguments
  4. They do not control any of the these departments' journals. Raising the standards of these journals would require a war from inside, which, for reason #3, is not only unlikely but unthinkable.
As much as I agree with their aims, I cannot imagine how this will change anything. They provide no credible, serviceable mechanism for doing so. Because the stated aims of such departments is as strongholds of political activism, it seems obvious that this cannot be any longer tolerated from outside. Political means must therefore be used to dislodge them — as happened recently in Hungary, where all state-funded gender studies programs were systematically defunded.