Our Time for Choosing

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Continuing Education… Matt Ridley on Climate Change | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty

Denier? Lukewarmer? Alarmist? Why so many pejorative descriptors for those engaging in conversation about climate change? This is among the questions explored in this week’s EconTalk episode with with Matt Ridley. Now we’d like to continue a civil conversation on…

Source: Continuing Education… Matt Ridley on Climate Change | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty

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The 77% Myth

Equal Pay

For 30 years I have been a supporter of equal pay for women. My reasoning is very selfish and I have shared it with everyone who has asked. As I was married to a working woman, I benefitted as she made more money. It’s a simple and straight forward as that.

It’s also rather obvious and it’s quite similar to clean air and clean water. Do you hear anyone arguing the other side. Are there presidential candidates who argue in the debates that we have to lower woman’s pay. Of course not. And yet in every speech that Hilary and Bernie give they bring up ensuring that women receive equal pay for equal work.

But where are the companies that aren’t doing this? If either of them can name just one company that does not pay women the same as men then a lawsuit should be filed immediately under the two laws that are currently on the books.

Equal Pay Act of 1963



Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act



But they can’t do that because there is no such example.   So why do they keep up this pretense?

Of course it’s about politics. If they can keep up the narrative that there is a war on women it will only help them in the general election. (And if they can get a new law passed that uses the same shoddy standards of evidence that the 77% claim uses than the trial lawyers will be happy to file lots of lawsuits).

To fight this narrative, there needs to be more focus on the facts. Not the shoddy analysis done by the Obama Administration.

A very good analysis was discussed by the folks at Freakonomics. Although Steven Levitt, one of the founders, is a professor at the University of Chicago and therefore you might say leans right, However, Stephen Dubner really runs the place and if you have read his stuff or listened to his podcast you know that he leans more left. This is the link to their podcast on the subject.


The analysis that he discusses was done by Harvard University Professor of Economics, Claudia Goldin. She was the first woman to get tenure in the Harvard Economics department and a former President of the American Economics Association. In other words, pretty credible.

What she found was that when you control for factors such as education, profession, experience and hours worked the gap virtually disappears. Additionally, there is another factor that could be called flexibility selection that can explain any remaining delta. Flexibility selection is employees “selecting” jobs that give them more flexibility for their personal lives. Some factors of flexibility could be to work from home occasionally, set their own hours, less travel amongst other things. This may be to take care of kids or parents or just because the person doesn’t want to have their life consumed by their work. One example of this is the lawyer who leaves the high pressure law firm to become a corporate council. Lower paying but giving the person more flexibility with their schedule. Yet both positions show up on census data as the same job. These elections are made by women more often than men and although they show up in the data as the same job, one is paid less. Should this be illegal.

A major problem in continuing this narrative is that by constantly repeating it we are creating an entire generation of victims. I don’t want my daughters thinking that they are being taking advantage of by “the man”. To quote President Obama “that’s not who we are”. I want them to believe that they are in control of their future and with hard work can achieve whatever their goals are. That is the American Dream. That is who we are and it applies equally to men and women.

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Separation of Powers

This column will be a little different than my others.  Instead of hearing me talk about what I consider an important subject, I am going to let you hear from the experts.   This is something that is not talked about enough and how it is dealt with will be felt long after President Obama or his successor is in office.

Obama makes his promises…


And Senator Ben Sasse explains why it’s a problem…

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Separation of Powers


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What is a Conservative?


We have all heard of the Buckley Rule – that you should vote for the most conservative candidate who can win. (And yes I am paraphrasing what he actually said). But what defines being a conservative? Is it about a balanced budget? Is it abortion? What about foreign aide or Afghanistan?

I tend to think of three policy areas: Social Issues, Spending and Foreign Policy. But even within these areas there are many complications and even contradictions.

Social Issues can be particularly vexing.   Sure we all know that a conservative is against abortion, but what about those who are more libertarian and say that the government should regulate as little as possible. Does this apply to abortion? This same conflict could come up around gay marriage. Is a true conservative for traditional family values or staying out of people’s lives. If we are for devolving power from the federal level to the state and even lower when possible what happens when a community wants Single Payer?

Democrats try to paint conservatives as being supportive of big business but many conservatives would reject that notion as crony capitalism and be more supportive of entrepreneurial ventures. How does this play out in the tax code and spending?   Is a conservative for exemptions and credits because they reduce taxes? Does this apply to an expanded dependent exemption as proposed by Marco Rubio? What about to credits for solar panels as proposed by virtually every democrat? Why are they different? Is it because one is about family and the other about green energy?

Is a conservative supportive of boots on the ground in Syria? What about in Ukraine? What is the difference? Do we support dictators who keep the pot from boiling over because they are our guys as Ted Cruz said on Tuesday or do we support democracy everywhere as President Bush advocated? What about data collection under the patriot act? Should we allow that? Should Apple and Google be able to sell phones that allow for encryption?

These are complex and nuanced issues and I am sure that if we surveyed top Republicans we would get lots of different answers. That is what makes this idea of the most conservative, electable person hard to wrap your head around.

As we saw in Tuesday’s debate there are many flavors of conservative. And we saw specifics from every candidate which helps each of us decide who to support. Unfortunately the two who have been leading lacked many specifics. Can anyone tell me where Trump stands on any of these very specific issues?   Other than things being a disaster and that he would bomb the hell out of everybody and build a really good wall do we know specifically where he stands on a complicated issue?

The one thing that I always admired about Reagan and why I believe he was an effective president is that he had a foundation of what being a conservative meant to him. It didn’t always match up with mine but when something came up in the Oval Office he was able to go back to his core beliefs and use that lens to make a decision.

I am curious, if you could summarize your core principals in one sentence what would it be? I would love to hear what your sentence is.

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The Death of Education

Safe Space

Last week, when the President and the Chancellor of the University of Missouri resigned we witnessed the death of higher education in this country as we know it.

Historically, higher education has been about challenging the mind by being exposed to contradictory viewpoints. This resulted in stronger more educated citizens. People who could look at both sides of an argument and weigh the pros and cons and decide for themselves. The rationale for tenured faculty has always been so that they would have academic freedom to speak and teach about unpopular topics without fear of losing their livelihood.

This is not the 1960’s. Then students protested about the Vietnam War. In addition to an ideological concern, they were concerned that some of their classmates might be forced to participate in what they viewed as an unjust war. When you scratch the surface you find that the protests at Mizzou were about rumored acts of racism (with little in the way of evidence) and loss of the graduate students health insurance due to ObamaCare. But the protests are spreading around the country in places like Yale, Dartmouth, Amherst, Ithaca College and Claremont McKenna College. These protests have been about creating “Safe Spaces” free from offensive Halloween costumes or name calling or even having to hear someone disagree with you.

The idealic vision of intellectual students sitting around the coffee shop debating the issues of the day has shifted to protesters shouting each other down on the common green. Is this progress?

This change is occurring at the same time that parents and students are questioning the return on the cost of an education. When it costs over $100,000 to get a degree from a public university and upwards of $250,000 at a private one what type of return should the students be expecting? There has been a subtle shift from expanding the mind to getting a good paying job. Discerning parents want to know how these protests are helping to do either.

But as administrations begin watering down the collegiate experience through Safe Spaces, Trigger Warnings and discussion of Micro Aggressions and privilege employers are going to start questioning where and who they recruit.   How will the little flowers that take offense to seeing Halloween costumes with sombreros going to transition into a working world where you might hear or see much more offensive material from a customer? Will they be able to sit through a dinner with rich white males without commenting on their privilege?

Unless there are administrators who have the courage to stand up to the bullies and remind the students that just like everyone else they need to follow the rules of law and the common rules of civility then parents and smart students will begin to look at many of the alternate forms of education that are becoming available like online learning.

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