Here's how my Aug. 11, 2003, column began: "Anyone who believes President Bush's Africa initiative, including sending U.S. troops to Liberia, will amount to more than a hill of beans is whistling Dixie. Maybe it's overly pessimistic, but most of Africa is a continent without much hope for its people." More than a decade has passed since that assessment, and little has changed to suggest a more optimistic outlook. Now Ebola threatens the very existence of the West African nations Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Moreover, the deadly disease is likely to spread to neighboring nations.
So as to give some perspective, I'm going to ask readers for their guesses about human behavior before explaining my embarrassment by some of my fellow economists.
The Food and Drug Administration can make two types of errors. It can approve a drug that has dangerous unanticipated side effects, or it can reject or delay approval of a drug that is safe and effective. Let's look at these errors, because to err on the side of under- or over-caution is costly.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), sometimes called ISIS or IS, is a Sunni extremist group that follows al-Qaida's anti-West ideology and sees a holy war against the West as a religious duty. With regard to nonbelievers, the Quran commands, "And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out." The Quran contains many other verses that call for Muslim violence against nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule.
At a July fundraising event in Chicago, Mrs. Michelle Obama remarked, "So, yeah, there's too much money in politics. There's (sic) special interests that have too much influence." Sen. John McCain has been complaining for years that "there is too much money washing around political campaigns today." According to a 2012 Reuters poll, "Seventy-five percent of Americans feel there is too much money in politics." Let's think about money in politics, but first a few facts.
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People in the media and academia are mostly leftists hell-bent on growing government and controlling our lives. Black people, their politicians and civil rights organizations have become unwitting accomplices. The leftist pretense of concern for the well-being of black people confers upon them an aura of moral superiority and, as such, gives more credibility to their calls for increasing government control over our lives.
A fortnight ago, my column focused on how Philadelphia's schoolteachers have joined public-school teachers in cities such as Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Columbus, New York and Washington in changing student scores on academic achievement tests. Teachers have held grade- fixing parties, sometimes wearing rubber gloves to hide fingerprints. In some cases, poorly performing students were excused from taking exams to prevent them from dragging down averages. As a result of investigations, a number of schoolteachers and administrators have been suspended, fired or indicted by states' attorneys general.
Evil acts are given an aura of moral legitimacy by noble-sounding socialistic expressions, such as spreading the wealth, income redistribution, caring for the less fortunate, and the will of the majority. Let's have a thought experiment to consider just how much Americans sanction evil.
Part of the progressive agenda is to create hate and envy. One component of that agenda is to attack the large differences between a corporation chief executive officer's earnings and those of its average worker. CNNMoney published salary comparisons in "Fortune 50 CEO pay vs. our salaries". Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf's annual salary is $2.8 million. CNN shows that it takes 66 Wells Fargo employees, whose average salary is $42,400, to match Stumpf's salary. It takes 57 Wal-Mart employees, who earn $22,100 on average, to match CEO Michael Duke's $1.3 million ...
At one time in our nation's history, blacks feeling sorry for whites was verboten. That was portrayed in Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird." This is a novel published in 1960 -- and later made into a movie -- about Depression-era racial relations in the Deep South. The novel's character Tom Robinson, a black man, portrayed in the movie by Brock Peters, is on trial, falsely accused of raping a white woman. The prosecuting attorney, while grilling Robinson, asks him why he spent so much time doing chores for the alleged rape victim when he had ...
Democrats plan to demagogue income inequality and the wealth gap for political gain in this year's elections. Most of what's said about income inequality is stupid or, at best, ill-informed. Much to their disgrace, economists focusing on measures of income inequality bring little light to the issue. Let's look at it.
There's little debate among academic economists about the effect of minimum wages. University of California, Irvine economist David Neumark has examined more than 100 major academic studies on the minimum wage. He reports that 85 percent of the studies "find a negative employment effect on low-skilled workers." A 1976 American Economic Association survey found that 90 percent of its members agreed that increasing the minimum wage raises unemployment among young and unskilled workers.
Here's a question that I've asked in the past that needs to be revisited. Unless one wishes to obfuscate, it has a simple yes or no answer. If one group of people prefers strong government control and management of people's lives, while another group prefers liberty and desires to be left alone, should they be required to enter into conflict with one another and risk bloodshed and loss of life in order to impose their preferences on the other group? Yes or no. My answer is no; they should be able to peaceably go their separate ways.
Politicians can be progressives, liberals, conservatives, Democrats or Republicans, and right-wingers. They just can't be dumb. The American people will never elect them to office. Let's look at it.
Pope Francis, in his apostolic exhortation, levied charges against free-market capitalism, denying that "economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world" and concluding that "this opinion ... has never" been confirmed by the facts." He went on to label unfettered capitalism as "a new tyranny."
Let's examine a few statements reflecting a vision thought to be beyond question. "The world that we live in is beautiful but fragile." "The 3rd rock from the sun is a fragile oasis."
In a March 2008 column, I criticized pundits' concerns about whether America was ready for Barack Obama, suggesting that the more important issue was whether black people could afford Obama. I proposed that we look at it in the context of a historical tidbit.
One of the oldest notions in the history of mankind is that some people are to give orders and others are to obey. The powerful elite believe they have wisdom superior to the masses and that they've been ordained to forcibly impose that wisdom on the rest of us. Their agenda calls for an attack on the free market and what it implies, voluntary exchange.
There's more to the deceit and dishonesty about Social Security and Medicare discussed in my recent columns. Congress tells us that one-half (6.2 percent) of the Social Security tax is paid by employees and that the other half is paid by employers, for a total of 12.4 percent.
According to some estimates, there are more than 100 million traffic signals in the U.S., but whatever the number, how many of us would like Washington D.C., in the name of public health and safety, to be in sole charge of their operation?