Tuesday, December 15, 2020

CRT vs Loury, McWhorther et al

My view of the debate.

Critical Race Theory believers seem to believe that 90%+ of the black/white income, wealth and crime differences are due to current racism. Therefore if that racism could be eliminated, along with some kind of reparations for slavery that would eliminate the median wealth gap, black US citizens would converge with whites within 5 or 10 years.

Glenn Loury and John McWhorter et al seem to believe that current racism is 10% or less of why blacks lag on those measures and commit more crime than whites. They believe this should be addressed through parental education and early child education for the poor which will disproportionately benefit blacks and that blacks will have to work harder to change what has become the culture. This even though they acknowledge that earlier racism is the primary cause of the gaps.

There are of course those who are between those sets. Like Rod Graham and Dr. Mansa Keita.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Radal O'toole Says about the 2020 California Fires, It’s Not Climate Change, Stupid

I like this article because sometime things just happen. Excerpts:  

But the experts aren’t much better. The warmers’ claims are based on short-term studies that fail to take in account the possibility that recent droughts are just a natural variation in climate. For example, this study looked back just four decades, finding that droughts were worse in 2000-2015 than 1985-1999. Another study also went back only to the 1970s, with the authors claiming that they proved “that human-caused climate change . . . doubled the cumulative forest fire area since 1984.” Both of these studies start out by assuming that humans are causing climate change and then concluding that recent changes in fire must be due to that climate change. With circular reasoning, they further find that increases in fire prove that the climate is changing.


The burners want to increase spending on prescribed fire. But the Forest Service is already spending $430 million a year on fuel treatments, and the Department of the Interior spends another $194 million. Given the number of acres they treat each year, I estimate this would have to be tripled to fully manage all federal lands. Even if Wyden could convince Congress to forever spend $1.5 billion a year on prescribed burning, if lightning strikes a tree and then a windstorm blows burning cinders five miles away to land on someone’s cedar-shake roof, as happened last week, that house is going to burn no matter how many acres of prescribed fires were done on the lands between them.



The loggers’ claims are weakened by their obvious self-interest. As forest ecologist Chad Hanson argues, the claim that active management would reduce fire is merely an argument to “plunder the forests,” which are actually left more vulnerable to fire after logging than before. Even climate activists are wary of these arguments.



Tuesday, September 1, 2020

PBS Newshour's William Brangham Starts Series on Healthcare

On the PBS Newshour last night (8/31/2020) William Brangham started a series of reports on healthcare in the USA and what we can learn from healthcare in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Australia.

In the first report he gave the impression that only the USA has a Life expectancy income gradient but in fact the health-income gradient exists in every country I've read about, in fact the life expectancy income gradient is slightly steeper in Canada than it is in the U.S. After all one reason a person cannot earn much income is poor health.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Are the News Media Trying to Compete with Comedians?

I ain't just fox news that is a reality TV show.

A black woman "journalist", Dorothy Tucker on, on the PBS NewsHour said:

But, on the other side of the brain, I'm thinking of my 28-year-old son, who was traveling from Atlanta to Chicago driving, and praying the entire time that he arrives home safely, that he doesn't get stopped by a police officer, that something doesn't happen to him when he stops at a rest stop.

And Judy Woodruff, doing the interview, did not push back at all. Maybe Woodruff didn't want to be mean but Dorothy Tucker is supposed to be a journalist. John McWhorter seems to believe people like Dorothy Tucker are lying, I'm not so sure but as a journalist you shouldn't be either lying or so far off in knowing the relavent statistics.

As Glenn Loury quipped, and I paraphrase, she better not let her son go outside he might get struck by lightning.

The PBS NewsHour is Government funded reality TV show.

We live in hilarious times. We don't even need comedians.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Diane Ravitch on Schooling

Econ talk had an interesting discussion on charter schools here.
My response.
I used to believe that vouchers could improve test scores but the data came in and it seems like Diane Ravitch is correct that vouchers and charter schools do not raise test scores. I do though think it's possible that tutoring or direct instruction could improve test scores but for the most part I think it is an intractable problem. We should admit that
But I disagree with Diane Ravitch on:
  1. It is NOT true that 1 in 5 US children LIVE is poverty.  1 in 5 US children live in families whose market income before taxes and transfers is below the federal poverty level. NIMBY is a problem in some places though.
  2. A Rational Argument Could Made that the USA has Best Education in the World and Florida has the Best Education in the USA
  3. What we in the developed world call poverty is almost irrelevant to how well children do in school. It looks like it is relevant because parents' ability in school correlates with income but the children of very low income parents who did well in school do fine. For example, the children of poor grad students do great at school, as do the children of very low income Hasidic Jews. Taking a vow of poverty will not make your children do bad in school.
So IMO we should:
  1. Since we seem unable to teach children more, put more effort into finding out what are the most valuable things we should teach and teach more of that and less of other things.
  2. Cut the overhead to save money and let principles and teachers run the schools.
  3. Force more direct instruction on the schools and teachers
  4. Experiment with older student and volunteers tutoring younger students and teach doing more tutoring.
Realize that a school system the spends less for the same results is doing better.
Realize that there are only an insignificant number of bad schools in the developed countries (that does not mean they can't still get better). What we call bad schools are schools that have bad average students.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Italian Spinach Pies Updated

In Providence RI, Italian bakeries sell spinach pies. Similar to a spinach calzone. Delicious try this recipe:

Here is a video of a another not as good recipe.
  • 400 grams water
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon yeast (the longer you are willing let it rise the less yeast you can use. Less yeast and longer rise time yields better texture, bigger holes)
  • 10 grams salt
  • 620 cups bread flour
Here is a link to my older recipe with a different dough recipe.

  • 1 lb spinach fresh or frozen - NEVER EVER canned!
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup canned slice black olives
  • Crushed red pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • garlic salt
In a mixer add water then yeast then flour the salt. Mix with dough hook.
Allow to rest for a 15 minutes and stretch and fold refrigerate over night for best results or let rise until doubled.  Then stretch and fold again. form into about 4 balls and let then reach room temperature.
If you are using frozen spinach thaw and drain well. If you are using fresh spinach just clean and dry and use it as is, alternatively you can sauté slightly to make it easier to work with. Put the spinach in a bowl and add the olives, mushrooms, garlic, salt, olive oil and crushed red pepper. Mix lightly with a spoon.

Stretch the dough like for pizza. Place filling in the center of each piece and roll the dough over like a calzone forming a pocket.
Preheat oven to 425 F. Bake pizza for 15 minutes at 425 F. Reduce heat to 375 F. and continue baking (for a total of 30 to 35 minutes) or until golden brown.
Cool and eat at room temperature.

Italian Bakery Pizza Recipe Updated

In Providence RI, Italian bakeries sell a crusty pizza with simple toppings (crushed tomatoes, herbs, olive oil) with no cheese or pepperoni. It has a great olive oil and garlic taste. 

In this video you can see what it should look like.Try it. 

Here is a recipe for that pizza.

  • 440 grams water
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon yeast (the longer you are willing let it rise the less yeast you can use. Less yeast and longer rise time yields better texture, bigger holes)
  • 10 grams salt
  • 610 grams bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 10 grams
Here is a link to my older recipe. It produces a crisper less chewy crust.


  • 1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes - drained
  • 2/3 cup tomato puree
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh herbs (or dry)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
This will go in the pans
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 clove garlic - crushed


In a mixer add water then yeast then flour the salt. Mix with dough hook.
Allow to rest for a 15 minutes and stretch and fold refrigerate over night for best results or let rise until doubled.  Then stretch and fold again. form into about 4 balls and let then reach room temperature.


Drain tomatoes and place in a large bowl. Crush well with your hands add puree. Add pepper and salt (to taste), oil, herbs and garlic.
Preheat oven to 425 F.

Use 2 15-by-10 inch baking sheets. Coat pan generously with olive oil - about 1/8 cup each (this seems like a lot but trust me) and sprinkle each with 1/4 t salt. Press out dough to fit pan. If dough resists, let it rest for a few minutes, then gentle coax it to fit the pan. Drizzle olive oil lightly on top of dough. Let the dough rise in the pan for about 15 minutes sprinkle each with 1/4 t salt

Heat the tomato topping and spread on the dough and drizzle the top with a little olive oil.

Bake pizza for about 20 more minutes. 

Cool and eat at room temperature.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Comments on a Great Econtalk Episode (Poverty and Income)

Below are some comments about a great econtalk episode here about the change in skills demanded and the prospects for people without the skills now demanded.

What I find interesting in the regard is:
1. Kiryas Joel where the people are low income but not “poor”. They have the respect that you were talking about.
2. Mr Money Mustache shows what I see which is many middle and upper income people living on low income voluntarily.  Also look up tiny houses on youtube and you'll see these same class of people living in $10k homes.
3. My son when he graduated high school he took a job with a plumber doing the manual labor, he then due only to on the job learning became a plumber. He is doing great. His boss cannot get enough people, I presume because it's a dirty job. Same with auto mechanics (a little more intellectual job though).
4. It looks to me like we are so rich today in the Developed world that to many women singleness, which is clearly more expensive looks better than marrying the men available to them and BTW the college premium and the marriage premium are roughly equal.

Bottom line is, poverty may not be low income at all. Maybe schools should try to teach students more the stuff that will help them live better lives and less of what will help them succeed at the next level of education.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Will it be Orange Clown vs. Pink Clown

I'm with Bernie on the war in Iraq (though he did authorize Bush to go into Afghanistan with a pretty open ended bill and that was bad see 1 below), but he seems to have some Marxists ideas that I do not like. 

He talks about jailing bankers, compares drug co. executives to murders, calls for criminally prosecuting fossil fuel co. executives etc. which is #MoreLikeTheUSSRThanDenmark. And national rent control which is #MoreLikeVenezulaThanDenmark.  

Also he talks about rights to healthcare rather than providing healthcare being the charitable thing to do. Rights that require the labor of others are not really rights. The danger of such rhetoric is, rights are defended with violence.  On top of that, what level of healthcare (more than half or the expensive stuff doesn't work)? (See: herehere and here: ). In his mind, do I have any right at all to the money I acquired if I earned it honesty through free exchange?
He also heaped praise on the USSR and Venezuela, which indicates a level naivete.  

I'm afraid that the election will be between the Orange Clown (Trump) and the Pink clown (Bernie).

(1) Sanders supported Bill Clinton’s war on Serbia, voted for the 2001 Authorization Unilateral Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF), which pretty much allowed Bush to wage war wherever he wanted, backed Obama’s Libyan debacle and supports an expanded US role in the Syrian Civil War.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Healthcare Compromise Updated Again

This is my new compromise between advocates of government provided health insurance and those against. My earlier version may have had a flaw incentive wise so I am changing it. This version moves close to that put out by the Niskanen Center see here.

The state would provide insurance to all Americans but the annual deductible would be equal to 60% of each family’s trailing year adjusted income minus the poverty line income (say $25,000 for a family of 4) + $300. 
Why 60%? Because some research by the Democrats has shown tax revenues are maximized at 70%, meaning most people will not hugely cut back at working at up to a 70% marginal tax and the current top rate in some states is about 50% already. I took the mid point between the two at 60%.
So a family of 4 with a trailing year adjusted income of $30,000 would have a deductible of $5,300 * .6 or $3,180. 
A family of 4 with a trailing year adjusted income of $80,000 would have a deductible of $33,180. 
Middle class and rich people could fill the gap with private supplemental insurance but this should be full taxed. This would encourage the middle class and rich, who are generally capable people, to demand prices from medical providers and might force down costs. They could opt to pay for most health-care out of pocket while the poor often less capable would be protected. 
It is not a perfect plan but it might help. Some deregulation of health-care would also help the poor gain access. The gauntlet that Doctors have to run these days to get to practice seems like an anachronism in today’s world. Let smart people get to practice medicine after on the job training. Let the medical businesses decide who is qualified to practice medicine. 12 years of training to tell if my child has an ear infection is overkill and reduces access to health-care for the poor. It appears that medical care could much cheaper than it is, see here.

Another benefit of my plan is that it would encourage capable Americans (the rich and middle class) to be a counter weight politically against the providers.
Also it seems worthwhile to me to maintain flexibility in the system. Our slightly more freedom oriented medical  systen looks not so great right now because we spend more than the other developed countries but things are still changing and our more flexibility may start to pay off at some point. 
Here are some possible avenues for that flexibility to pay off:
One, all or none of these things might workout and others not mentioned but it is worth maintaining some level flexibility and freedom.   

Here is an article that makes a strong case for a system similar to the one that I propose.  His plan suggests a  insurance for catastrophic events that cost more than, $50,000 combined with a large health savings account.

In addition since Government provided health insurance is paternalism it should provide insurance that experts would recommend and that means among other things insurance that only pays for care that shows a significant margin of cost benefit. So it should not cover procedures that the UK's NHS does not cover. There would be huge savings there.