July 22, 2014

IN THE MAIL: From Anthony W. Hursh, Self-Publishing With Burning Slug.

Plus, today only at Amazon: $100 Off Kindle Fire HDX 7″ 4G LTE.

And, also today only: Save 70% on “RVBX: Ten Years of Red Vs. Blue” Box Set on DVD.

“JEWS BACK TO BIRKENAU:” Police protect Jewish students from Pro-Palestinian mob…in Boston. “The mere presence of a gay pro-Israel couple at the rally ‘set off a hailstorm’ of venom from Hamas supporters that would no doubt be national news by now if the epithets had been hurled by, say, Tea Partiers.”

Except, of course, that Tea Partiers don’t do that sort of thing, except in the fevered fantasies of people who side with the Hamas protesters.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 439.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: The New Republic: Ivy League Schools Are Overrated. Send Your Kids Elsewhere. “Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it. . . . At least the classes at elite schools are academically rigorous, demanding on their own terms, no? Not necessarily. In the sciences, usually; in other disciplines, not so much.”

Welcome to the party, TNR.

BAD NEWS FOR OBAMACARE: Halbig: D.C. Circuit strikes down tax credits in federal exchanges. Apparently, the regulation exceeded the authority granted in the statute. I didn’t know we still cared about stuff like that . . . .

RON FOURNIER: Is the White House Lying, or Just Bad at Crisis Communications? Ordering a cheeseburger with fries while a downed airline smolders may not have been a great decision.

The thing is, they’ve been both lying and bad at crisis communications since day one. The press has just covered for them. Now that Obama’s been re-elected, it’s safe to express a bit of the built-up resentment. But not in any way that would help the Republicans. Because the press knows its role with respect to this administration, having chosen it quite deliberately.

GEORGIA RAPPER ENDORSES REPUBLICAN. “The tweet irritated some of [the] artist’s 1.26 million followers on Twitter.”

THE MOTHER’S MILK OF POLITICS: Money Still Fuels The Political Machine.

In despair over money’s influence in politics, progressives have fitfully embraced plans for public financing of campaigns. Via Tyler Cowen, I see that a new paper from Andrew Hall explores the effects of these sorts of programs.

First, the good news: Public campaign funding would probably reduce the influence of “access-oriented interest groups,” which are made up of well-financed power players who use their campaign donations to get the ear of candidates. It would also reduce the bias toward incumbents, which I guess can be good or bad depending on how you feel about your local congressman.

Now, the bad news: That doesn’t necessarily lead to better political outcomes. When the money goes away, the candidates who are elected tend to be more partisan and divided. “Good government” may mean “more extreme government” — which, at least at the national level, may mean “government that can’t get anything done.”

This makes a certain amount of sense, when you think about it. Access-oriented groups care about getting things done. I may think that a lot of this stuff shouldn’t be done, and I’m sure you agree (though perhaps we are thinking of different stuff). But fundamentally, access-oriented groups are less interested in making emotive statements about free markets, sexual liberty, respect for immigrants or whatever you care to name than they are about getting actual laws passed. That gives them an incentive to favor candidates who will give them legislative results rather than the moral satisfaction of sticking to their principles.

The average voter — in particular, the average primary voter — cares a lot about moral purity and expressive politics. So if you disempower the money, you empower the ideological purists who want candidates first and foremost to demonstrate fidelity to shared principles.

Yeah, I think corruption will still find a way.

AMERICA IN THE ERA OF HOPE AND CHANGE: New Surveillance Whistleblower: The NSA Violates the Constitution. “John Napier Tye is speaking out to warn Americans about illegal spying. The former State Department official, who served in the Obama administration from 2011 to 2014, declared Friday that ongoing NSA surveillance abuses are taking place under the auspices of Executive Order 12333, which came into being in 1981, before the era of digital communications, but is being used to collect them promiscuously. Nye alleges that the Obama administration has been violating the Constitution with scant oversight from Congress or the judiciary.” Well, that’s who they are, that’s what they do.

AT AMAZON, Hot Prices On Hot Music.

Also, up to 65% off on Jewelry.

CHRISTINA HOFF SOMMERS: Verizon’s Inspire Her Mind ad and the facts they didn’t tell you.

AN AD from the NRA’s new Trigger The Vote Campaign. Chuck Norris wants you to vote.

PHIL HAMBURGER: Rule Of Law vs. Rule Through Law.

EQUALITY IS FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE: Obama Donor Fights to Keep Riff-Raff Away From Private Beach.

A wealthy venture capitalist and major Obama donor is fighting tooth-and-nail to prevent others from accessing his private Northern California beach, according to Bloomberg News.

Vinod Khosla’s support for Obama has paid off in the form of millions in taxpayer subsidies for green energy companies in which he has invested.

A prominent environmentalist, Khosla nevertheless cherishes his control over a private beach alongside his 56-acre property near San Francisco—which he bought for $32.5 million—Bloomberg reported on Monday.

Hey, he’s not protecting the environment for you to enjoy.

SEE, THIS IS WHY WE NEED NATIONAL CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY: Ryan Shucard Case Highlights Gun Law Discrepancies.

Staff in Rep. Tom Marino’s office are convinced that Ryan Shucard, the press secretary that arrived at the Cannon House Office building toting a 9 mm handgun on Friday morning, was not planning to harm anyone with the gun.

“No, not at all,” said Bill Tighe, chief of staff for the two-term Pennsylvania Republican, said when asked if staff thought Shucard had ill intentions. Capitol Police also indicated it was an accident, according to Tighe.

Tighe said he was not formally aware that Shucard, a resident of Alexandria, Va., owned a gun. Shucard was hired by Marino’s office in late May. Tighe said he did not know whether Shucard, 26, was registered, trained or permitted to hold a gun in Virginia, where gun laws are less strict than in the District.

Similarly, Jason Kalafat, a partner at Price Benowitz LLP who has been hired to represent Shucard in D.C. court, had no comment on his client’s status as a gun owner in Virginia. He said there is no allegation that Shucard had the gun unlawfully, and pointed out that he is not being prosecuted for the federal offense of carrying on Capitol grounds, which carries up to five years in prison.

Kalafat said the difference between gun regulations in D.C. and Virginia creates a “big problem.”

Because the Capitol grounds are federal property, they are not subject to the District’s strict gun laws.

Also, we need a federal law providing that the maximum penalty for anyone legally entitled to possess firearms under federal law violating any state or local law on possession or carrying of weapons is a $500 fine. This would get rid of the sort of in terrorem regulation I describe in my Second Amendment Penumbras piece.

ACTUALLY, I’D LIKE TO SEE ENOUGH TO GET HIM TO TELL THE TRUTH: Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings calls for end to ‘public harassment’ of IRS chief John Koskinen. Naming and shaming is all we’ve got, when the machinery of government has been totally politicized.

YEAH, BUT THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION IS SUCH A WELL-OILED MACHINE, WHAT’S THERE TO OVERSEE? Bruce Braley Missed More than 75% of Full Veterans’ Affairs committee Hearings.

SO I GUESS THEY’VE HAD TIME TO FABRICATE SOMETHING: IRS: Lerner emails may exist after all. I hate to be so cynical, but when you act like a criminal conspiracy, people tend to get cynical.

JIM TREACHER: A Brief Conversation With Stephen King.

July 21, 2014

ALL IN ALL, YOU’RE JUST ANOTHER STONE IN THE WALL: IRS lawyer: By the way, the hard drives of some other employees who dealt with Lois Lerner also crashed.

SELF-DEFENSE: Attempted pogrom thwarted by Jewish self-defense groups. “This sounds like a headline from Tzarist Russia in 1910, but in fact it was last week in Paris. A group of anti-Israel demonstrators tried to storm a synagogue, but Jews had their own undercover agents at the protests so they could raise the alarm if any of the protestors started to engage in violence. They did so, and the rioters were beaten back by a combination of ‘right-wing’ Jewish youth groups and communal security. Unlike is Tzarist Russia, the authorities aren’t on the side of the attackers, and they eventually arrived in sufficient numbers to disperse the attackers.”

If I had a synagogue in Europe, it would have flamethrowers.

THE NEW YORK TIMES: All The News Hamas Sees Fit to Print.


Complaints from White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Monday about anonymous news sources prompted a testy exchange with reporters who noted that administration officials regularly demand anonymity.

Earnest was asked about a Washington Post report charging that the administration ignored predictions last year from the Department of Homeland Security about the surge of unaccompanied minors who have flooded across the border in recent months.

But the spokesman looked to challenge the report by arguing it was “based entirely on anonymous sources.” Earnest also offered a broader critique on the use of anonymous sourcing in a bid to challenge the credibility of the story.

“In the course of reporting, I think it’s important, based on my own personal view, for those kinds of quotes and those kinds of stories to be given greater weight than just anonymous sources,” Earnest said. “So, what that means is, if you have anonymous sources at the White House who are telling you something, and you’re gonna say to them — that anonymous source — ‘Look, I’m willing to give your side of the story a little less weight right now, because you’re telling me this anonymously.’ ”

That prompted complaints from reporters who noted that the White House routinely insists on anonymity when unveiling new efforts.

“Would you guys commit then, when you have situations like today’s call, which is people specifically picked by the White House to roll out a policy of the White House, would you commit to have those people speak on the record?” asked Associated Press White House correspondent Julie Pace. “Because there doesn’t seem to be a reason to put them on background.”

Now it’s the press corps that’s becoming “ungovernable,” I guess.


I predicted this line of punditry years ago, based on early evidence of Obama’s incompetence.

ACTUALLY INVADED, OR IN SUCH IMMINENT DANGER AS WILL NOT ADMIT OF DELAY: Texas Governor to Deploy 1,000 National Guard Troops to Border.


I think of student loans as the cockroaches of debt. The loans are hard to get rid of because for so long, people were told this was good and necessary debt and so it wasn’t a bad thing to have it hang around for decades.

When people ask me about what they should do about their student loans, I ask: What are you willing to do to get rid of them as fast as you can?

And here’s my suggestion: Live for as long as you can with your parents, relatives or anyone who will allow you to stay rent-free or charge you a super-low rent.

Related item here. And here.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Obama’s Tranquility.

AT AMAZON, up to 90% off Magazines For College Students. Also, up to 62% off select Kids’ and Teens’ Magazines.

Plus, up to 50% off select Outdoor & Athletic Clothing.

A LEFTY COMPLAINS ABOUT HOW progressivism has ruined sex. Well, it ruins everything, you know.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: On Photography, Cops Need To Get A Clue.

THE CASE FOR CONCIERGE MEDICINE: In the trade-off between more patients and more personalized care, growing numbers of physicians are choosing the latter. “The concierge model of practice is growing, and it is estimated that more than 4,000 U.S. physicians have adopted some variation of it. Most are general internists, with family practitioners second. It is attractive to physicians because they are relieved of much of the pressure to move patients through quickly, and they can devote more time to prevention and wellness. . . . Of course, there are drawbacks to concierge practice. For one thing, some patients cannot afford it, and others will choose not to pay the fee. Critics also see such models as promoting a two-tiered system of healthcare, in which those with more money get better care.” An ironic — but entirely predictable — result of ObamaCare.

NONSENSE. IT’S ALWAYS THE FEMINIST THING TO PUNISH MEN, ESPECIALLY OVER SEX: Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Punishing Prostitution Clients Is Not a Feminist Solution.

My question is why all these so-called feminists are pro-rape.


You could just get a Roku or Amazon Fire and cut the cable, of course.


MY USA TODAY COLUMN: On Photography, Cops Need To Get A Clue.

REASON TV: What are the Chances? (An IRS Love Song).

THIS WEEK in drones.


“TARGETED ATTACK:” Details Begin To Emerge In Murder Of Law Prof Dan Markel.

JOHN VARLEY, CALL YOUR OFFICE! No, really, he should be demanding royalties from this guy: Ukraine rebel leader claims Flight MH17 was filled with already-dead bodies.

TEST DRIVING THE $90K “Budget” Winnebago.

FOR THOSE WHO SAY THE 21ST CENTURY HAS BEEN A DISAPPOINTMENT: Aerosol Cake Batter Is Real Now and Nothing Will Ever Be the Same. “And after spending months perfecting the recipe in his dorm, McCallum is now in the process of patenting what he ultimately dubbed Spray Cake. Meaning that this could actually become a real thing on your grocery store shelf, and that there’s still some hope for the human race yet. McCallum and his business partner/lady friend Brooke Nowakowski assured The Boston Globe that their fully microwavable product has the same mouthfeel as traditional cakes. And since it comes out pre-risen, it cooks in a fraction of the time (about one minute for a full cake).”

Seems like a logical descendant of the Batter Blaster. Nobody tell Nina Planck.

WHY DO THEY HATE POOR ASIANS SO MUCH? Seeking racial balance, liberal advocates want to water down admissions standards at New York’s elite high schools. “It’s not affluent whites, but rather the city’s burgeoning population of Asian-American immigrants—a group that, despite its successes, remains disproportionately poor and working-class—whose children have aced the exam in overwhelming numbers. And, ironically, the more ‘holistic’ and subjective admissions criteria that de Blasio and the NAACP favor would be much more likely to benefit children of the city’s professional elite than African-American and Latino applicants—while penalizing lower-middle-class Asian-American kids like Ting. The result would not be a specialized high school student body that ‘looks like New York,’ but rather one that looks more like Bill de Blasio’s upscale Park Slope neighborhood in Brooklyn.”

The more they talk about equality, the more they champion special deals for the nomenklatura.

WITH PEOPLE REMEMBERING JAMES GARNER, here’s a post from Randy Barnett.

UPDATE: Link updated.

WISCONSIN DIVERSITY CHIEF: Contrary To Reports, We’re Not Doing Race/Ethnic Grading.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: On Photography, Cops Need To Get A Clue.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 438.

MONEY FOR NOTHING: TSA fee on plane tickets more than doubles.


Over the life of your loan, you’ll save 65 percent of your total interest costs. On a 30-year loan at current rates, you’ll pay almost $300,000 in interest costs on a $350,000 loan, versus about $100,000 on a 15-year loan. The benefit comes from two things: shortening the payment term, and lowering your interest costs. I don’t know about you, but I could find something to do with an extra $200,000.

Interest rates are going to have to go up sometime soonish. Mortgage rates are not at their all time lows (more’s the pity). But they’re still very low, and by refinancing now, you can lock in 3 percent or so. As inflation rises, this will ultimately mean that your mortgage loan is practically free. But this state of affairs cannot last forever; the Federal Reserve will eventually be pulling back on credit, and you will not be able to get such a good deal. Why not lock it in now?

Enjoy the benefit of forced savings. If you’re like me, and you get excited by the first of the month because it means you can make your extra mortgage payment and watch the loan balance go down, then maybe you don’t need this. But if you’d like to save, but somehow never get around to it, a 15-year mortgage basically pays you to exercise a little more self-discipline.

Stabilize your housing costs. Obviously, this is a long-term goal. But going into your 50s with the house paid off means that no matter what else happens, you can’t lose your house.

Well, they’ll take it if you don’t pay your taxes. So, really, you’re still kind of renting it from the state. . . .

KINDA LIKE AMERICA’S: Britain’s Bursting Green Jobs Bubble. “Promoting green jobs isn’t just an American phenomenon, it’s a global pastime. And no wonder: for a politician, there are few things better than promising clean, renewable domestic energy and job creation to boot. But talk is cheap, and just as this dream hasn’t been realized in the states, it’s also falling short in Britain.”

AT AMAZON, back-to-school shopping made easy.

Plus, soak up summer deals while they last.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: On Photography, Cops Need To Get A Clue.

RADLEY BALKO: And now: The criminalization of parenthood. “The mere fact that state officials were essentially micromanaging these parents’ decisions is creepy enough. That the consequences for the ‘wrong’ decision are criminal is downright scary.”

ROLL CALL: DCCC Adds Congressman to Endangered Incumbent Program. “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee moved Rep. Rick Nolan of Minnesota to its Frontline program — a reflection of growing concern over his re-election prospects. The Frontline program is for House Democrats’ most vulnerable incumbents.”

OOPS: Ben & Jerry’s socialist, anti-GMO cofounder inadvertently makes the case for federalism.

A Ben & Jerry’s statement opposing GMOs includes the qualification “Now, we aren’t scientists, we just make ice cream” — that much is apparent.

The company points out that “there are questions about whether GMO technology is truly living up to its promise of making bigger and better food.” While this is true, it speaks more to public confusion about the issue than about the safety of genetically modified food. This confusion will be deepened if government forces manufacturers to “warn” consumers about GM foods that are not, in fact, unhealthy.

I will resist stating that the science on this matter is settled, but a robust academic consensus has emerged about GMOs since their commercial introduction in 1994. The consensus: GM crops are just as healthy as non-GM crops, and in some cases healthier. . . .

In short, Ben, Jerry and all the other anti-GMO activists are wrong on the science.

However, they may also be right to oppose Rep. Pompeo’s bill, which would limit the constitutionally-enshrined authority of the 50 states to do wrongheaded things.

This comment by DeFazio should hit close to home for defenders of federalism and limited government:

“On any other day my Republican colleagues, Mr. Pompeo among them, would say, ‘We’re for states’ rights and we’re for capitalism.’ OK, well, states’ rights would say you’re not going to preempt Vermont or any other state that wants to require just simple disclosure on the label.”


MALAYSIAN AIR: The Hill: Senators: Response to tragedy ‘too timid.’

ED DRISCOLL INTERVIEWS Ed Klein about his new book, Blood Feud.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: A Tale of ‘Too Big to Fail’ in Higher Education: City College of San Francisco Survives.

While accreditors can issue a variety of stern warnings — more than half of California’s community colleges have received one since 2003 — the only accrediting punishment of real consequence is the death penalty. That puts accreditors in a very difficult position: allow a low-performing college to continue serving students badly, or face a political firestorm in shuttering a major public institution while throwing tens of thousands of students on to the street with no guarantee of another affordable college in which to enroll.

Accreditors are also financed and managed as membership organizations of colleges. Other colleges contribute volunteers to conduct site visits and evaluations, and college administrators are generally loath to condemn peers at other institutions publicly, particularly since their turn for review will eventually come. As a result, only the absolute worst-case colleges even approach facing meaningful sanctions. Simple mediocrity is ignored. . . .

Politicians generally take a hands-off approach to higher education. While many big-city mayors have staked their careers on turning around troubled K-12 school systems, it is rare to see a major political effort focused on fixing dysfunctional local community college. Slots on public university boards of trustees, which are ostensibly charged with protecting the public interest, are often given as political favors to donors and alumni.

Private nonprofit colleges are subject to little, if any, direct oversight, even though many of them receive a vast majority of their revenue from federal financial aid. For-profit higher education corporations have received greater scrutiny in recent years, including Corinthian Colleges, which is in the process of closing down in the face of declining enrollment and multiple government investigations into its marketing practices and job placement rates. But Corinthian’s shutdown is happening in spite of the accreditation system. All of its campuses remain accredited today. And federal regulators are far less likely to scrutinize a public institution like City College.

It’s Potemkin Villages all the way down.


I’M SURE THIS COULD ALL BE FIXED WITH A FEW WELL-PLACED FUNDRAISERS: Operation Choke Point Hearing Reveals DOJ Threats And Strong-Arming. Because that’s how things work nowadays.

“RAPE CULTURE” IS A PROPAGANDA-TALKING-POINT LIE: The “Affirmative Consent” Trap: California lawmakers take on “rape culture” at the expense of rights.

ROSS DOUTHAT: The Parent Trap.

Some of these cases have been reported, but some are first-person accounts, and in some the conduct of neighbors and the police and social workers may be more defensible than the anecdote suggests.

But the pattern — a “criminalization of parenthood,” in the words of The Washington Post’s Radley Balko — still looks slightly nightmarish, and there are forces at work here that we should recognize, name and resist.

First is the upper-class, competition-driven vision of childhood as a rigorously supervised period in which unattended play is abnormal, risky, weird. This perspective hasn’t just led to “the erosion of child culture,” to borrow a quote from Hanna Rosin’s depressing Atlantic essay on “The Overprotected Kid”; it has encouraged bystanders and public servants to regard a deviation from constant supervision as a sign of parental neglect.

Second is the disproportionate anxiety over child safety, fed by media coverage of every abduction, every murdered child, every tragic “hot car” death. Such horrors are real, of course, but the danger is wildly overstated: Crime rates are down, abductions and car deaths are both rare, and most of the parents leaving children (especially non-infants) in cars briefly or letting them roam a little are behaving perfectly responsibly.

Third is an erosion of community and social trust, which has made ordinary neighborliness seem somehow unnatural or archaic, and given us instead what Gracy Olmstead’s article in The American Conservative dubs the “bad Samaritan” phenomenon — the passer-by who passes the buck to law enforcement as expeditiously as possible. (Technology accentuates this problem: Why speak to a parent when you can just snap a smartphone picture for the cops?)

And then finally there’s a policy element — the way these trends interact not only with the rise of single parenthood, but also with a welfare system whose work requirements can put a single mother behind a fast-food counter while her kid is out of school.

And, more significantly, a social-welfare bureaucracy that needs these cases to make work for itself. Coupled with a sad abandonment of traditional remedies for overreaching officialdom.

And I wrote something similar on the subject a while back.

RON RADOSH: Nicholas Kristof: The New York Times‘ Apostle of Moral Equivalence.

REVOLUTION IN DOTAGE: How The Left Got Boring. Well, when you replace Hunter S. Thompson with Ezra Klein. . . .

A NEW CAMPUS MOVEMENT: USA Today on Women Against Feminism. The article is pretty much all about how feminists are unhappy about it. But when they say “feminism is just about equality,” well, they’re either lying or lied-to.

Plus: “The way feminists treat the women who disagree with them proves feminism is not as ‘pro-women’ as they would like to believe.”

SCOTT SHACKFORD: Eric Garner’s Arrest and Death About More Than Just a Chokehold.

We should be concerned that the reason why the police swarmed Garner in the first place is getting lost. He allegedly possessed “untaxed cigarettes.” That is it. There is this press focus on how the police took Garner down, and the problem with that focus is the question, “Well, what do you do when a 400-pound man refuses to cooperate when you try to arrest him?” Or to put it another way: Would there be an objection to police using a chokehold to take down and subdue man who was engaged in violent activity harming others? Because you know that’s going to be part of the defense of this behavior.

There needs to be more attention on the absurd reason that a pack of police officers was on top of Garner in the first place: black market cigarettes. It’s a crime that only takes place because of the city’s own oppressive taxation system. It’s a crime that happens when the city makes it too hard for people (especially poor people, of course) to get what they want legally.

Small government does less harm, but provides insufficient opportunities for graft to interest our political class.

KYLE SMITH: Could The Next Generation Of Republicans Already Be Here?

July 20, 2014

HAPPY APOLLO 11 ANNIVERSARY: Watch a 72-year-old Buzz Aldrin punch a jerk in the face for calling him a ‘liar.’

NEWS FROM AMERICA’S “SECURE BORDERS:” Cartels suspected as high-caliber gunfire sends Border Patrol scrambling on Rio Grande. “Border Patrol sources said the rounds were clearly identifiable because .50- caliber weapons make a distinctive noise when fired. Sources said they also believe this is the first time that Border Patrol agents have taken direct fire from the Mexican side of the river in this area.” So why didn’t they return the fire?

A TOP FIGHTER PILOT ON WHAT’S FRUSTRATING ABOUT THE AIR FORCE: “That flying is not the focus of the USAF. It sounds axiomatic but it’s true. Political correctness, appearances, humanitarian missions, and not offending anyone are the focus.”

I’m sure the new leadership will fix that.

NICK GILLESPIE: You Won’t Believe Just How Godawful This Elizabeth Warren Video Really Is. I’ll just say that the supporters pictured don’t look like an explosion of energized youth.

AT AMAZON, fresh deals on Hot New Releases, updated every hour.

Plus, coupons galore in Household Supplies.

BILL WHITTLE: Afterburner: Some reflections on the 45th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing.


The plight of low-wage retail workers has generated much talk in recent years. As I’ve written before, I don’t find problematic the existence of jobs that do not pay enough to support a family. Retail jobs have never paid well, because retail margins tend to be pretty slim. The problem is not that retail is a low-wage job, but that an increasing number of people can’t find any other sort of job.

The natural response of many people is to say, well, these are the jobs we have now, so they should pay what factory jobs used to. Yet like the manufacturing jobs that went away, many of those low-wage retail jobs also face competition — from higher-productivity firms such as Amazon and Stouffer’s. Forcing up the wages might destroy even more jobs, leaving a lot of workers even worse off.

All this is old territory. A less reported side effect of all this, however, is labor-market slack: retail scheduling practices that make it functionally impossible for a lot of people to support themselves.

After all, even low wages left workers some options, however unpalatable, such as stringing together multiple jobs to make ends meet. Unfortunately, the weakness in the labor market has coincided with yet another market development: scheduling software and technology that allows retailers to manage their workforce as another just-in-time input.

Workers are asked to input blocks of hours when they will be available; the software then crunches through everyone’s availability and spits out a schedule that takes account of everything from weather forecasts to the danger that a worker will go over the maximum number of hours to still be considered part time. Obviously, you can’t string together multiple jobs this way, because each job requires that you block out many more available hours than you will actually work. Meanwhile, Steve Greenhouse reports on even worse practices that I hadn’t heard of: requiring workers to be “on call” at short notice or scheduling them for shifts and then sending them home if business looks light.

In this situation, no matter how hard you are willing to work, stringing together anything approaching a minimum income becomes impossible. That makes it much more deeply troubling than low pay.

I’m sure another layer of regulation will make everything just fine.

POLICE MILITARIZATION, in Tennessee and elsewhere.

YOU SPELLED “OBAMA” WRONG: Feinstein Calls On Putin To “Man Up.”

Related: Obama Golfing With Staffers in Virginia.


AT AMAZON, loads of new coupons on Grocery & Gourmet Food.

Plus, bestsellers in Mysteries, Thrillers & Suspense.

And please remember: InstaPundit is an Amazon affiliate. When you do your shopping through the Amazon links on this page, including the “Shop Amazon” tab at the top or the searchbox in the right sidebar, you support this blog at no cost to yourself. Just click on the Amazon link, then shop as usual. I very much appreciate it when you do.


If this woman had been an InstaPundit reader, she’d probably have a happy marriage now.

FROM K.C. JOHNSON, some final thoughts on the Duke Lacrosse false-rape debacle. “Higher education is perhaps the only product in which Americans spend tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars without having any clear sense of what they are purchasing. Few parents, alumni, legislators, or prospective students spend much (if any) time exploring the scholarship or syllabi offered by professors at the school of their choice; they devote even less effort to understanding hiring patterns or pedagogical changes that have driven the contemporary academy to an ideological extreme on issues of race, class, and gender. At most, there seems to be a general — incorrect — impression that while colleges have the occasional ‘tenured radical’ who lacks real influence on campus, most professors fall well within the ideological mainstream. . . . The lacrosse case provided a rare opportunity to glimpse inside the mindset of an elite university—and the look was a troubling one. There is no evidence of any accountability at Duke: the university has the same leadership and the same hiring patterns it had in 2006. Several members of the Group of 88 have gone on to more prestigious positions, their efforts to exploit their students’ distress causing them no problem in the contemporary academy.”

FASTER, PLEASE: Flexible, Printed Batteries For Wearable Devices.


THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED: When Rhode Island accidentally legalized prostitution, rape decreased sharply.

If you favor keeping prostitution illegal, you’re pro-rape. You don’t want to be pro-rape, do you?


XENI JARDIN: Remembering the Apollo 11 moon landing, 45 years ago today.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 437.


Hashtag feminism (e.g. #YesAllWomen) is a scourge. It brings out the worst in contemporary feminism: injustice-collecting, trauma-valorizing, male-bashing. It also encourages group think and vigilanteeism. Other than that, it’s fine. . . .

I only recently came to appreciate the limited power of logic, reason and evidence to change minds. Most of us, whether we know it or not, are driven by emotion and group loyalty. Cognitive scientists have long known about a phenomenon called “motivated reasoning”—we tend to use logic and reason, not to discover what we believe, but to confirm what we already think we know. Instead of changing our minds in the face of contradictory evidence, we are more likely to seize on rationalizations for what we already believe. I see this tendency in myself once in a while and try mightily to resist it.


The Millennials have been cheated out of a serious education by their Baby Boomer teachers. Call it a generational swindle. Even the best and brightest among the 20-somethings have been shortchanged. Instead of great books, they wasted a lot of time with third-rate political tracts and courses with titles like “Women Writers of the Oklahoma Panhandle.” Instead of spending their college years debating and challenging received ideas, they had to cope with speech codes and identity politics. College educated young women in the U.S. are arguably the most fortunate people in history; yet many of them have drunk deeply from the gender feminist Kool-Aid. Girls at Yale, Haverford and Swarthmore see themselves as oppressed. That is madness. And madness can only last so long. So, I plan to continue writing books and articles, making my Factual Feminist videos and lecturing at as many campuses and laws schools as I can. American colleges have been described as islands of repression in a sea of freedom. I want to encourage rebellion among the islanders.

A little rebellion — maybe even more than a little — would be a good thing.

WHO DO THEY THINK THEY ARE, THE IRS? Stonewall: Russia reportedly helping rebels destroy crash evidence.

STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWEETS pro-Hamas hashtag. I guess it’s nice that they’re not even trying to hide it anymore.

ANDREW MICHTA: Russia And Ukraine: Time To Take Sides.

AT AMAZON, up to 65% off on Jewelry.

Also, New Music Releases on CD & Vinyl.

STILL WAITING FOR SOMEONE TO BRING BACK THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR: Christians flee Iraq’s Mosul after Islamists tell them: convert, pay or die.

WELL, GETTING RID OF COMMUNISM HELPED: Global Income Inequality Is Falling.