No Jobs Bump from Obamacare



Last Friday’s employment report demonstrated once again that Obamacare is not having the effect that the health services industry overall hoped for: Employment in health care is increasing at pretty much the same pace as in the rest of the economy. There is no evidence of an Obamacare jobs bump.

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Self Censorship



self-censorshipOne by-product of the Paris terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo was an outpouring of support for freedom of speech. While there was general agreement that the magazine’s content has been, beyond a doubt, offensive to some (and not only Muslims), almost everyone agreed that freedom of speech is a fundamental right that should be protected, regardless of who is offended by the speech.

While nobody has proposed limiting freedom of speech, some commentators feared that the attack might result in self-censorship. People would be afraid to speak out if they thought they would be targeted for what they said.

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Agonizing over Sports Teams’ Mascot Names



WashingtonRedskinsLogoI have written several columns on current controversies involving the apparent offensiveness of the Washington Redskins’ nickname, the most recent of which was published by the Washington Times. A later contribution to the same debate, by Hayley Manugia at FiveThirtyEight, finds 2,128 such American monikers, all of which should be equally offensive to people who don’t like references to “Braves”, “Warriors”, or “Seminoles” to characterize the athletic teams that compete on football fields, basketball courts, or any other sports venue. Most of the Indian nicknames in question have been adopted by high schools.

As a matter of fact, the women gymnasts who represent the University of Utah prefer to call themselves the “Red Rocks” rather than be associated with the “Utes”, which is the school’s nickname in football, basketball, and other male sports. It is my understanding that the University of Utah has entered into an agreement with current representatives of the Ute tribe to continue using that nickname in return for promises of scholarships earmarked for members in good standing of that Native American tribe.

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The Unintended Consequences of Banning the “World’s Oldest Profession”



Prostitution is known as “the world’s oldest profession.” Indeed, as far back at the 18th century B.C., the Code of Hammurabi contained provisions regarding rules and protection for sex workers. “Sacred prostitution,” or sex associated with religious worship, occurred in many ancient societies and is well-documented. Over time, however, the sex industry has come under increased regulation. In the U.S., prostitution is only legal in the state of Nevada.

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One Benefit of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press...



Voltaire... is that you know who your enemies and opponents are. They will speak out against your ideas, your actions, or maybe just you on a personal level.

One reason we value these freedoms is that they help make those in power accountable. Those who disagree with particular policies or actions can say so without fear of being sanctioned, whether they were undertaken completely transparently, or undertaken with fraud and corruption.

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Obamacare’s Effect on Uninsured Is Trivial



At the end of 2014, Jason Furman and Matt Fiedler of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers published an analysis of the uninsured in the first half of 2014. The two economists boasted that “2014 Has Seen Largest Coverage Gains in Four Decades, Putting the Uninsured Rate at or Near Historic Lows.”

Their own graph shows how exaggerated and misleading this claim is. READ MORE

I, Nutella



The lesson I have to teach is this: Leave all creative energies uninhibited. Merely organize society to act in harmony with this lesson. Let society’s legal apparatus remove all obstacles the best it can. Permit these creative know-hows freely to flow. Have faith that free men and women will respond to the Invisible Hand. This faith will be confirmed.” —Leonard Read

I recently came across this fascinating graphic that shows all the countries that contribute to the making of one jar of Nutella, the popular chocolate hazelnut spread that has become a cultural phenomena with its own holiday.

NutellaGlobal

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Medicaid Expansion Does Not Create Healthcare Jobs



Ani Turner of the Altarum Institute has examined the growth in healthcare jobs in states which expanded Medicaid versus those which did not expand Medicaid. Here are an image and an excerpt from her blog:

MED

This preliminary analysis shows that the recent acceleration in health care job growth should not be attributed primarily to Medicaid expansion, in part because (1) overall job growth accelerated, (2) the impact of expanded coverage on demand may turn out to be small compared to other forces, and (3) an expanded coverage effect may be present in both groups of states to a greater extent than we expected. It is important to emphasize that this is not a test of whether expanded coverage increases jobs but whether the recent acceleration in health job growth can be attributed to expanded coverage, as measured by Medicaid expansion status.

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Total National Security Spending Is Much Greater than the Pentagon’s Base Budget



C1-defense-spending-2013_0In a recent publication of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, “Defense Spending Extends Beyond the Pentagon’s Budget,” Veronique de Rugy presents a valuable compilation of data for fiscal year 2013, showing how much of the government’s national security spending appears not in the base budget of the Department of Defense, but elsewhere in the government’s budget. This point is important because in debates about Pentagon funding, those who favor giving the Pentagon more money generally rest their arguments on references to the amount appropriated for the Pentagon’s base budget alone, ignoring the substantial amounts that appear under other rubrics in the government’s overall budget.

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Common Core Boosters Trying to Scare States into Keeping National Standards



pare_o_nucleo_comum_podre_ao_poster_do_nucleo-r5b1ed5648bc64059ad8ab6f0498fd5db_a4ndz_8byvr_324Last year wasn’t a good year for Common Core, and the myth-makers are already hard at work publishing some new spin, but first let’s review what we’ve learned over the past five years. Common Core national standards are:

In short, the more parents and taxpayers learn about it, the less they like it, and a growing number of states are looking for the nearest exit, including Indiana, along with South Carolina, Missouri, and Oklahoma. States considering ditching the national standards also include Tennessee and Mississippi, and several more states are dumping their membership in taxpayer-subsidized Common Core testing consortia (here and here).

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