Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Reasoning About Race, Walter Williams

Reasoning About Race

So much of our reasoning about race is both emotional and faulty. In ordinary, as well as professional, conversation, we use terms such as discrimination, prejudice, racial preferences and racism interchangeably, as if they referred to the same behavior. We can avoid many pitfalls of misguided thinking about race by establishing operational definitions so as to not confuse one behavior with another.
Discrimination can be operationally defined as an act of choice. Our entire lives are spent choosing to do or not to do thousands of activities. Choosing requires non-choosing. When you chose to read this column, you discriminated against other possible uses of your time. When you chose a spouse, you discriminated against other people. When I chose Mrs. Williams, I systematically discriminated against other women. Much of it was racial. Namely, I discriminated against white women, Asian women, fat women and women with criminal backgrounds. In a word, I didn't offer every woman an equal opportunity, and they didn't offer me an equal opportunity.
One might be tempted to argue that racial discrimination in marriage is trivial and does not have important social consequences, but it does. When high-IQ and high-income people marry other high-IQ and high-income people, and to the extent there is a racial correlation between these characteristics, racial discrimination in mate selection enhances the inequality in the population's intelligence and income distribution. There would be greater income equality if high-IQ and high-income people married low-IQ and low-income people. But I imagine that most people would be horrified by the suggestion of a mandate to require the same.
Prejudice is a perfectly useful term, but it is used improperly. Its Latin root is praejudicium -- meaning prejudgment. Prejudice can be operationally defined as making decisions on the basis of incomplete information. Because the acquisition of information entails costs, we all seek to economize on information cost. Sometimes we use cheap-to-observe physical attributes as proxies for some other attribute more costlier to observe. The cheaply observed fact that a person is a male or female can serve as a proxy for an unobserved attribute such as strength, aggressiveness or speed in running.
In the late 1990s, a black taxi commissioner in Washington, D.C., warned cabbies against going into low-income black neighborhoods and picking up "dangerous-looking" passengers whom she described as young black males dressed a certain way. Some pizza deliverers in St. Louis who were black complained about delivering pizzas to black neighborhoods for fear of being assaulted or robbed. In 1993, the Rev. Jesse Jackson was reported as saying that he is relieved when he learns that youthful footsteps walking behind him at night are white and not black.
Here's the question: Does the wariness of Washington's predominantly black cabbies to pick up "dangerous-looking" black males or black pizza deliverers' not wanting to deliver to some black neighborhoods or Rev. Jackson's feeling a sense of relief when the youthful footsteps behind him are those of white youngsters instead of black say anything unambiguous about whether cabbies, pizza deliverers and Jackson like or dislike blacks? It's a vital and often overlooked point -- namely, that watching a person's prejudicial (prejudging) behavior alone can tell us nothing unambiguous about that person's racial tastes or preferences.
Consider policing. Suppose a chief of police is trying to capture culprits who break in to autos to steal electronic equipment. Suppose further that you see him focusing most of his investigative resources on young males between the ages of 15 and 25. He spends none of his investigative resources on females of any age and very few on men who are 40 or older. By watching his "profiling" behavior -- prejudging behavior -- would you conclude that he likes females and older males and dislikes males between the ages of 15 and 25? I think that it would take outright idiocy to reach such a conclusion. The police chief is simply playing the odds based on the evidence he has gathered through experience that breaking in to autos tends to be a young man's fancy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Have a good fast.


On this day in 1947

Happy Birthday U S Air Force!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

It's the Constitution,

It's Our Constitution -- Not Kavanaugh

One of the best statements of how the Framers saw the role of the federal government is found in Federalist Paper 45, written by James Madison, who is known as the "Father of the Constitution": "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. ... The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people." Today's reality is the polar opposite of that vision. The powers of the federal government are numerous and indefinite, and those of state governments are few and defined.
If confirmed, Brett Kavanaugh will bring to the U.S. Supreme Court a vision closer to that of the Framers than the vision of those who believe that the Constitution is a "living document." Those Americans rallying against Kavanaugh's confirmation are really against the U.S. Constitution rather than the man -- Judge Kavanaugh -- whom I believe would take seriously his oath of office to uphold and defend the Constitution.
Was Madison misinformed or just plain ignorant about the powers delegated to Congress? Before we answer, let's examine statements of other possibly "misinformed" Americans. In 1796, on the floor of the House of Representatives, William Giles of Virginia condemned a relief measure for fire victims, saying the purpose and the right of Congress is to attend to not what generosity and humanity require but instead what their duty requires. In 1854, President Franklin Pierce vetoed a bill intended to help the mentally ill, writing to the Senate, "I can not find any authority in the Constitution for making the Federal Government the great almoner of public charity." He added that to approve such spending would "be contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution and subversive of the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded." President Grover Cleveland out-vetoed his predecessors by vetoing 584 acts of Congress, including many congressional spending bills, during his two terms as president in the late 1800s. His often-given veto message was, "I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution." By the way, President Cleveland was a Democrat.
Were the Founding Fathers, previous congressmen and previous presidents who could not find constitutional authority for today's massive federal government intervention just plain stupid, ignorant, callous and uncaring? Article 1 of the Constitution defines the role of Congress. Its Section 8 lists powers delegated to Congress. I examined our Constitution, looking to see whether an Article 5 amendment had been enacted authorizing Congress to spend money for business bailouts, prescription drugs, education, Social Security and thousands of other spending measures in today's federal budget. I found no such amendment. Contrary to what our Constitution permits, Congress taxes and spends for anything upon which it can muster a majority vote.
But I found a constitutional loophole that many congressmen use as a blank check, as well as justification to control most aspects of our lives -- namely, the general welfare clause. The Constitution's preamble contains the phrase "promote the general Welfare," and Article 1, Section 8 contains the phrase "provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States." What did the Framers mean by "general Welfare"? In 1817, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "Congress had not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated." Madison wrote: "With respect to the words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators."
Case closed: It's our Constitution that's the problem for leftist interventionists -- not Brett Kavanaugh.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

9-11

Never, ever Forget!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Media and Hurricanes

Once again, the media is reporting that a catastrophic Category III or IV storm is in the Atlantic, heading towards the Carolina's. Once again, I ask, How dangerous can it be? They will send "broadcasters" to stand outside multi-million dollar satellite trucks and periodically stand outside and get their blow-dried hair and make-up streaked, telling everyone again, how they are in peril and acting all brave and such. I will believe the danger when these folks act like it's dangerous.