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The Hard Work That Must Be Done to Improve Police Accountability

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As I observe it currently, the three strategies currently being taken by Progressives to increase police accountability are

  1. Demonizing all police officers, good and bad
  2. Making large cuts to police budgets and/or salaries
  3. Looting Apple stores

I have lamented before that none of these approaches are likely to succeed at reforming police accountability or more broadly at helping black Americans.  Remember that while black Americans disproportionately come in contact with police and the justice system, they also are disproportionately victims of crime.  All the current approaches listed above are unlikely to improve the police and justice system but may make crime worse.

One of the seldom discussed differences between Progressives and libertarians in this country is their skill set for change.  Progressives are very good at creating a "moment" where everyone in the country is forced to look at an issue and potentially agree that change is needed.  Progressives can grab both the streets and the headlines.  But they often suck at the hard work making real change happen in a Democratic system.  They don't seem to have an interest in the drawn out 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust offense needed to make reforms city by city.  Libertarians are just the opposite.  We suck at building mass desire for change -- we write 5000 word think pieces with lots of graphs but you don't see us in the streets.  But we can be good at actually getting change to happen -- I think of ALEC (which is really more Conservative than libertarian, but work with me here) and how it works.  Let's say we decide it would be a good thing to have legal authority and process to build private toll roads.  ALEC goes out there city by city and starts working the local government process.  It finds a location, no matter how small, where it makes progress and gets laws changed.  It then bundles this work into case studies and model legislation and takes it to other communities.

This is exactly the hard ground work that is needed to take the goodwill BLM has built up with the public and convert it to real change.  And, correct me if I am wrong, I have seen exactly zero interest out of anyone in BLM to do this -- it's all street protest and, among the richer folks, high-profile virtue signaling.

Walter Olson had a link on Twitter to an article my Mailee Smith that really gives one an idea how hard the local work is going to be:

Reformers are calling for broad changes. Many of the contemplated reforms—such as making it easier to fire problem officers—are meant both to protect citizens from police brutality and to protect the vast majority of police officers who serve honorably from having their reputations tarnished by the conduct of a few.

These efforts could prove meaningless, though, in states like Illinois that give public-employee union contracts greater power than state law. Buried deep in the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, which gives collective bargaining power to police unions, is Section 15, entitled “Act Takes Precedence.” Section 15 explicitly provides that when a government-union contract conflicts with any other law or regulation, the contract prevails.

It would be unthinkable, in any other context, to permit an agreement negotiated by unelected third parties to trump state law—but that’s exactly what Section 15 demands. Illinois could enact the best police reforms in the nation, but those reforms won’t matter if they run contrary to a police-union contract.

Good God, this is awful.

Postscript:  There are a couple of added barriers, I think, beyond just skills and interest that keep Progressives from digging down into these issues

  1. Public employees unions have always been a keep political bulwark of the Left, and I think folks on the Left struggle to challenge a public employee union
  2. A cynical interpretation is that hard-core Progressives want to chuck democracy altogether, and thus see no reason to do the hard work of making change happen in a democratic system

Update:  One idea that has been raised by Progressive of late is unbundling the police force, taking social work or civil enforcement tasks from them into other groups.  These seem like approaches worth considering -- I always have wondered why traffic or parking enforcement have to be police functions.  However, this would not have addressed recent high-profile shootings that are driving a lot of the anger

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ahofer
39 days ago
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"As I observe it currently, the three strategies currently being taken by Progressives to increase police accountability are
Demonizing all police officers, good and bad
Making large cuts to police budgets and/or salaries
Looting Apple stores"
Princeton, NJ or NYC
freeAgent
38 days ago
This is obviously a bit flippant, but I think he has a decent point. Libertarians have been waaaaaaaay out front on issues such as police and, more broadly, criminal justice reform. I do think there are some non-libertarian liberals who have also done serious work in this area, but unfortunately I think this work is generally pretty unsexy and doesn't lend itself to the sort of memes and sloganeering that dominate "moments" such as these. Hopefully this will lead to serious reform nonetheless.
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A ridiculous mix of masculinity and femininity, so absurd you're in no danger of believing or empathizing.

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It's Bill Clinton, quoted in "Bill Clinton Explains Monica Lewinsky Affair as ‘Managing My Anxieties’/Mr. Clinton was asked about the scandal for the Hulu documentary series 'Hillary'" (NYT):
"You feel like you’re staggering around — you’ve been in a 15-round prizefight that was extended to 30 rounds, and here’s something that’ll take your mind off it for a while,” Mr. Clinton says. “Everybody’s life has pressures and disappointments and terrors, fears of whatever, things I did to manage my anxieties for years."
He pictures himself as a boxer going 20 rounds, then suddenly he's in Oprahesque confessional mode,  offering up bullshit bonbons of self-insight. Don't eat that. But it's good for a laugh.

But it's really not so funny. He says "something that’ll take your mind off it" and "things I did." But the thing was a human being — a woman. Even as he's trying to present himself as having reflected and gained perspective and wisdom, he's still speaking of Monica Lewinsky as an object, understood in terms of what she did for him. His new insight is only to diminish the use she had. He ought to have managed his anxieties better, but at the time he took advantage of her — you know, of the thing.
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ahofer
199 days ago
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Those were my thoughts. She must be thrilled to be called a human stress ball on TV.
Princeton, NJ or NYC
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HE WAS ANXIOUS ABOUT HILLARY FINDING OUT: Bill Clinton: I Had Affair With Monica Lewinsky ‘To Manage…

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HE WAS ANXIOUS ABOUT HILLARY FINDING OUT: Bill Clinton: I Had Affair With Monica Lewinsky ‘To Manage My Anxieties.’

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ahofer
200 days ago
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This isn't going to make her (monica) feel any better.
Princeton, NJ or NYC
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Social security and trends in inequality

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Recent influential work finds large increases in inequality in the U.S., based on measures of wealth concentration that notably exclude the value of social insurance programs. This paper revisits this conclusion by incorporating Social Security retirement benefits into measures of wealth inequality. Wealth inequality has not increased in the last three decades when Social Security is accounted for. When discounted at the risk-free rate, real Social Security wealth increased substantially from $5.6 trillion in 1989 to just over $42.0 trillion in 2016. When we adjust for systematic risk coming from the covariance of Social Security returns with the market portfolio, this increase remains sizable, growing from over $4.6 trillion in 1989 to $34.0 trillion in 2016. Consequently, by 2016, Social Security wealth represented 58% of the wealth of the bottom 90% of the wealth distribution. Redistribution through programs like Social Security increases the progressivity of the economy, and it is important that our estimates of wealth concentration reflect this.

That is from a new paper by Sylvain Catherine, Max Miller, and Natasha Sarin, I look forward to reading it soon.  It is at least possible that the Saez-Zucman results are coming under further question.

Just to repeat part of the abstract, I find this sentence striking: “When discounted at the risk-free rate, real Social Security wealth increased substantially from $5.6 trillion in 1989 to just over $42.0 trillion in 2016.”  That’s a lot.

And this one: “Consequently, by 2016, Social Security wealth represented 58% of the wealth of the bottom 90% of the wealth distribution.”  Wow.

The post Social security and trends in inequality appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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ahofer
202 days ago
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two thoughts:
1) it is right to include this, as people contribute to it and count on it.
2) The value here is as inflated as the capital values in Piketty et al, due to low interest rates (which overstates inequality) Piketty, Saez and Zucman impute capital value from income using today's low rates.
Princeton, NJ or NYC
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Wednesday assorted links

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1. “Exploiting within-country and industry-level variation in regulatory burden, the analysis finds a large, positive effect of regulatory burden on corruption.

2. “Resumes that list study abroad experience in Europe for one year are 20 percent less likely to receive any callback and 35 percent less likely to receiving a call back for an interview, relative to resumes that do not list study abroad experience.

3. “…colleges that ultimately boost earnings also tend to boost persistence, BA completion, and STEM degrees along the way.” Lots more in that paper.

4. “Singapore Airlines is the first major carrier to serve produce harvested just hours before a flight.

5. I wish to thank and praise my Lubbock hosts, the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech.

6. 2006 study of the possible economic impact of avian flu.  Possibly 4.25% of gdp.

Addendum, from the comments, from Aleh:

You don’t need to read the study-abroad paper to realize that it’s implausible. 35% less likely to receive an interview! That would be approaching the impact that’s been found for declaring a criminal record. And it it has to be in Europe specifically, and one year specifically!

Ok, the paper itself. Overall, study abroad per se has no effect. So they slice and dice by location, length, and whether it is a call-back of an interview request, and use a significance level of 0.1, and then – as you’d expect – a couple of weak “findings” appear. A year of Europe seems VERY bad (and yet two weeks in Europe, or any time in Asia, actually improves the raw numbers; that’s the theory there?). Going to Asia doesn’t show a statistically significant change in your chance of getting a callback, unless it’s a callback specifically asking for an interview – when it does help so.

The data here is under-powered and reaches to find any results (slicing and dicing, 0.1 threshold). The “statistical significance filter” works in such cases to ensure that when does one does find a statistically significant result, it will be be a massively overstated – if true at all. A year in Europe doesn’t just have the opposite sign effect than any other experience; it has an absolutely catastrophic effect (-35%). Just no.

This is bad statistics and (not necessarily the authors’ fault) thoughtless promotion of almost a self-evidently implausible claim. If there’s anything to be learned or honestly reported here, it’s the top level finding: that a reasonably controlled experiment found essentially no difference either way by adding study-abroad experience to your resume.

The post Wednesday assorted links appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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ahofer
206 days ago
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#1 - shocked. Baptists and bootleggers.
Princeton, NJ or NYC
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How to reduce the racial gap in reading scores

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According to this study, the problem is worse in progressive cities.

Progressive cities, on average, have achievement gaps in math and reading that are 15 and 13 percentage points higher than in conservative cities, respectively

Pointer from Stephen Green, who sees it as an argument for cities to start to vote Republican.

The study compared test scores in the 12 most progressive cities (according to an independent measure) and the 12 most conservative cities. They report the results in tables. I saw a red flag in that they focused on the achievement gap, rather than black achievement scores per se.

From a Null Hypothesis, perspective, one way to reduce the racial gap is to start with dumber white students. Then when differences in schooling have no effect, you wind up with a smaller racial gap.

Using their tables, I got that for reading, the median score in the conservative cities for blacks was 24.5, and in the progressive cities it was 20.5. The median score in the conservative cities for whites was 61.5 and in progressive cities it was 69. Since much of the difference in the gap seems to come from lower test scores for whites, I am inclined to go with the Null Hypothesis interpretation.

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ahofer
213 days ago
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yup
Princeton, NJ or NYC
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