Breaking: Jimmy Kimmel is still an idiot, and so is GOP Senator Bill Cassidy

Jimmy Kimmel is apparently still using the platform of his late-night show to pimp for Obamacare. Earlier this month, he was lionized by America’s stupid and dishonest political and media class for making an incoherent rant filled with inane pronouncements such as this one.

“If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make,” he declared in his first monologue on the issue. “I think that’s something that, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right?”

This time, Kimmel responded to “critics who noted that doctors would do everything they could to save any child who was born with a heart condition, regardless of ability to pay.”

The critics making exactly that point included us. And so what is Kimmel’s response?

The comedian noted that beyond the immediate emergency intervention, there were plenty of follow-up visits, and that those require time off from work.

And so after all these years we finally discover the true purpose of Obamacare–counteracting the scourge of American parents who deny their children essential follow-up treatment because they won’t take the time off from work.

I know that Obamacare regulations run to thousands of pages, but I must have missed the ‘time off from work’ provision.

This Kimmel guy is almost funny enough to be a comedian.

Look, when it comes right down to it, no honest person who knows the facts and has half a brain could ever find any value in Kimmel’s fatuous declarations. That’s why the task fell to a United States Senator.

Thanks to Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy, the healthcare policy pronouncements of late night comic Jimmy Kimmel are back in the headlines…Cassidy, a Republican senator opposed to repealing much of Obamacare, subsequently went on television and declared that any changes to the healthcare system should pass what he dubbed the “Kimmel test.”

Oh, and what is the Kimmel test? The man himself was kind enough to define it for us.

“Since I am Jimmy Kimmel I’d like to make a suggestion as to what the Jimmy Kimmel test should be,” he told Cassidy. “I’ll keep it simple. The Jimmy Kimmel test I think should be, no family should be denied medical care, emergency or otherwise because they can’t afford it.”

That test, however, is anything but simple, due to the slippery phrase “emergency or otherwise.” Critics forced Kimmel to acknowledge that everybody already receives emergency treatment when they need it, so for him to continue to pretend to have a valid point, he had to add the “or otherwise” bit. That term, however, raises more questions than it answers.

Specifically, which medical procedures are covered by that vague phrase “or otherwise”? Just how much non-emergency medical care are people entitled to?

The answer cannot be ‘however much that patients want or think they need,’ or even ‘however much their doctor thinks they need,’ because there could never be enough resources available to make that true. That’s why, even in countries with socialized medicine, neither patients nor doctors are ever given blank checks to access as much health care as they want, because to do so would quickly drive the system into bankruptcy.

The undeniable fact is that health care is a scarce resource, and so it must be rationed. Exactly how to ration it is ultimately what the health care debate is about.

One way to ration is through the price system. Another is through government. But having the government take over health care does not eliminate the need to ration. That’s why socialist governments all over the world have set up bureaucracies devoted to rationing. That is, the job of the bureaucracy is to deny people medical care, which is what Jimmy Kimmel says should not happen.

[E]ven if the United States were to migrate to a single-payer system, it wouldn’t necessarily meet the Kimmel standard, because any system has to figure out away to divide up scarce resources – there are only so many doctors and hospital beds and waiting rooms and money available – and there is a variation in competence and quality. So in other systems, government plays a central role in deciding what can get covered and in how care is delivered.

In Britain, the government rationing agency is given the Orwellian acronym NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.) Rationing by NICE goes as far as denying life-extending drugs to cancer patients.

Eight thousand cancer patients are likely to have their lives cut short following a decision to withdraw NHS funding for 25 treatments.
Medication which offers a last chance to patients with cancer a year – including those with breast, prostate and bowel disease – will no longer be funded by the NHS, under plans to scale back spending from April.
Experts said that around two thirds of those who seek NHS treatment for advanced bowel cancer are likely to face an earlier death because of the decision.
Charities accused health officials of taking “a dramatic step backwards” and destroying a lifeline which prolongs the survival of thousands of cancer sufferers.

The bureaucrats decide that eight thousand people have to die. Question: Does that pass the ‘Kimmel test’?

When Kimmel and Senator Cassidy find a health care system that passes the test, I wish they would please let me know. Because without more specifics, the test seems like nothing more than a fatuous denial of scarcity and the necessity of some form of rationing. Denying scarcity is not a contribution to the debate, it’s an evasion of the debate.

In closing, let me just take this opportunity to make a political endorsement. Here at Yet, Freedom! we generally eschew endorsements, but I have decided to make an exception by throwing my full support to Bill Cassidy’s next election opponent, whoever he or she may be. I really don’t care who it is, since just about anybody, even an avowed Trotskyite, would have to be an improvement over Cassidy. The Troskyite would at least be more honest, because he wouldn’t pretend to be a conservative Republican while promoting socialism in America.

Democracy means this dipshit can be a Senator. Second look at hereditary monarchy?

Is the DC Metro Burning?

Back in the 1990s when I moved to the Washington DC area for graduate school, one of the things that most impressed me about the area was the subway system, the DC metro, that serviced the city along with the Virginia and Maryland suburbs. At that time, the system was relatively new; some of the lines were only a few years old, and even the oldest was only about 14 years old. The stations were modern and spacious, and the train cars also were roomy, with carpeted floors. The DC metro was so convenient that a classmate of mine commented that, even if he owned a Jaguar, he would still prefer to ride the metro every morning.

But that was over 20 years ago, and since then the DC metro has reportedly deteriorated badly. The metro, of course, is run by government, so it was inevitable that it would eventually fail. Over the years, the DC metro has reverted to the natural state of every government institution–a jobs program that barely pretends to serve the public (much like the public schools, for example). The DC metro bureaucracy is rife with corruption and incompetence. Employees know they can’t be fired no matter how lousy their performance, and the incentives are so perverse that the path to advancement primarily involves not rocking the boat by reporting abuses or safety problems. That’s right; the incentives are so perverse, that employees are better off NOT reporting safety issues.

With Metro’s budget chronically strained and reports of mismanagement coming more regularly than trains, interviews and internal records depict a likely root: an environment in which hardworking employees are actively excluded and those who rise are those willing to do the bare minimum — never causing a stir by flagging rampant safety violations, reporting malfeasance or proposing improvements.

A couple of years ago, a fire got started in a train tunnel, and incompetent employees bungled the emergency response by activating the wrong ventilation fans. The fans actually sucked smoke into a subway car filled with passengers.

Metro controllers in Landover reacted to the train operator’s report of smoke by turning on giant fans inside the L’Enfant Plaza station — behind the stationary train in the tunnel. The fans were activated in “exhaust mode,” Hart said, meaning they were sucking massive volumes of air in the direction of the station.

“This action pulled smoke” toward the station from the spot of the electrical meltdown deep in the tunnel, Hart said. As a result, the smoke was also moving in the direction of the stopped train, which was soon enveloped.

Then, at 3:24 p.m., according to Hart, the Landover controllers switched on another set of fans — inside a huge ventilation shaft about 1,100 feet in front of the train, near the source of the smoke. The shaft rises from the tunnel to the street.

But the fans in the shaft also were activated in exhaust mode, Hart said. This meant that the two sets of powerful fans, at both ends of the train, were sucking air in opposite directions, causing the smoke to linger in place, surrounding the train.

At least 200 passengers — most of them choking, many sickened and some growing panicked — waited more than 30 minutes to be evacuated by rescuers. One of the riders, Carol I. Glover, 61, of Alexandria, died of smoke inhalation, an autopsy showed.

So many fires happen on Metro that a Twitter feed called “Is Metro on Fire?” exists to warn passengers. Multiple fires were reported just last week.

As Reason magazine reports in the video below, Metro’s escalators are prone to dangerous malfunctions, and frequently break down due to lack of proper maintenance. The problem is that Metro in 1992 stopped using private contractors to repair and maintain the escalators and instead switched to using its own in-house mechanics. Metro justified the change by arguing, get this, that “government employees would do a better job for less money.” One can only hope that human civilization someday advances to the point where people reflexively respond to that particular argument with the full measure of derision that it deserves.

Last fall, Washington’s star pitcher, Max Scherzer, displayed some touching naivete after finding out that Metro refused to extend its operating hours so that fans could get home from a playoff game.

“God, I would hope to believe that playoff games here in D.C. would mean more than shutting down the lines for a couple hours,” Scherzer said last week during an appearence on a local sports talk radio program. “I mean, isn’t it a supply-and-demand issue? We have a supply of people that demand to use the line to go to the park. Why wouldn’t you want to meet that?”

Dude, rationally adjusting supply to meet demand is what happens in the private sector. This is government.

D.C. Escalator Nightmare

Are Tax Cuts Useless?

A lot of conservatives and libertarians were complaining that the ‘Obamacare repeal’ passed by the House last week did not do enough to fully eradicate the monstrosity in root and branch. One overlooked aspect of the GOP bill, however, is that it contained very substantial tax cuts. Americans for Tax Reform provides a compendium of the cuts, which ATR says amount to over $1 trillion, presumably over ten years. Here is just a partial list of some of the biggest cuts:

-Abolishes the Obamacare Individual Mandate Tax which hits 8 million Americans each year.

-Abolishes the Obamacare Employer Mandate Tax. Together with repeal of the Individual Mandate Tax repeal this is a $270 billion tax cut.

-Abolishes Obamacare’s Flexible Spending Account tax on 30 million Americans. This is a $20 billion tax cut.

-Abolishes Obamacare’s Chronic Care Tax on 10 million Americans with high out of pocket medical expenses. This is a $126 billion tax cut.

-Abolishes Obamacare’s 10% excise tax on small businesses with indoor tanning services. This is a $600 million tax cut.

-Abolishes the Obamacare health insurance tax. This is a $145 billion tax cut.

-Abolishes the Obamacare 3.8% surtax on investment income. This is a $172 billion tax cut.

Gotta love that last one–a tax cut exclusively for rich people. In contrast, on the spending side, the GOP left Obamacare’s massive system of subsidies largely intact. And in the latest budget deal, they couldn’t even defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But they’re all about tax cuts for the rich. Never change, GOP.

Of course, it’s always politically easier to cut taxes than to cut spending. So, should we be thankful that at least we got tax cuts? Or are the tax cuts useless without accompanying spending cuts?

The science of tax cuts vs. spending cuts is not settled. There are two conflicting schools of thought. One school of thought says that spending cuts are more important than tax cuts because it is spending in the long run that drives taxes, and not the other way around. From this perspective, tax cuts without spending cuts can only be temporary, because in the long run, taxes will have to rise to match the level of spending. This theory implies that the GOP’s tax cuts are useless, because taxes in the future will have to rise by necessity in order to pay for the ongoing Obamacare spending. It is indeed indisputable that, eventually, all spending has to be paid for with taxes.

Nonetheless, the causal relationship between spending and taxes may work in reverse–taxes might drive spending. Lower taxes might effectively restrain the size of government simply because the government will have less money to spend. This is the so-called Starve the Beast theory of tax cuts.

In reality, the causality between taxes and spending probably runs in both directions; to a considerable degree, taxes and spending both influence each other. But if so, then tax cuts can have at last some influence on spending. At least to some degree, it is possible to starve the beast, or at least force the beast to count calories. The late, great Milton Friedman implicitly endorsed Starve the Beast when he famously declared that he was “in favor of cutting any tax, at any time, for any excuse.” That rule would obviously validate all of the House GOP’s tax cuts.

Personally, I’ve often thought that the strongest evidence that taxes can drive spending is the fact that Democrats generally hate all tax cuts, and always try to raise taxes whenever they think they can get away with it. That’s how all these Obamacare taxes got enacted in the first place. “At what level would tax rates be too high?” is a question to which Democrats never have an answer. That’s because Democrats must suspect, at least intuitively, that limits on taxes can restrain spending, and Democrats have no desire to restrain spending.

In the long run, perhaps the greatest weapon against big government is tax resistance, and tax resistance should therefore always be encouraged. The main thing–perhaps the only thing–that prevents boundless growth of government is the simple fact that people do not like to pay taxes.

If the Republican Congress does not have the guts to cut spending, then cutting taxes–any taxes–is still better than nothing.

Ireland’s Blasphemy Law: Back to the Dark Ages

Anyone who loves liberty and free-thinking should be very concerned that Ireland actually criminalizes blasphemy.

Police in the Republic of Ireland have launched an investigation after a viewer claimed comments made by Stephen Fry on a TV show were blasphemous.

Yeah, there was a time in the Western world when blasphemy was considered a serious crime. We call that period The Dark Ages.

Officers are understood to be examining whether the British comedian committed a criminal offence under the Defamation Act when he appeared on RTE in 2015.

Fry had asked why he should “respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world…. full of injustice”.

He later said he was not “offensive towards any particular religion”.

And what if he had been offensive towards a particular religion? That still shouldn’t be illegal.

According to a report in the Irish Independent newspaper, no publicised cases of blasphemy have been brought before the courts since the law was introduced in 2009 and a source said it was “highly unlikely” that a prosecution against Fry would take place.

Highly unlikely or not, no free-born citizen should ever have to worry about such a prosecution. And the fact is that Fry was approached by a police detective and told he was under investigation. The police actually devoted detective resources to policing speech. Good to know that Ireland is apparently free of real crime.

Is it unfair to refer to Ireland’s Defamation Act as a ‘blasphemy law’?

The law prohibits people from publishing or uttering “matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion”.

Yup, that’s a blasphemy law.

This particular law has only been on the books since 2009. I gotta say, when I was young I always expected the 21st century would be better than this. Instead of jet packs and space colonies, we got pre-Enlightenment speech codes.

Even more disconcerting that such a law exists and is taken seriously by police is the apparent fact that hardly anybody seems to care. Ireland’s blasphemy law does not seem to be a burning political issue. Will it become a prominent issue in Ireland’s next general election? Do any Irish politicians ever get asked “Why do we have this medieval law on our books?” Rhetorical questions, of course.

The ongoing war on speech is a war on thought. It won’t end well.

Kimmel the Clueless

This week the whole leftist and establishment (but then I repeat myself) media was fawning over the teary and emotional endorsement of Obamacare by Jimmy Kimmel, who apparently is some sort of television personality.

Jimmy Kimmel delivered an impassioned monologue on Monday night detailing his newborn son’s recent open-heart surgery.

The heartstring-pulling speech, during which Kimmel teared up, detailed the harrowing experience for Kimmel and his family….

Kimmel, in the monologue, said his son’s story also had a lot to do with recent changes to the US healthcare system enacted by the Affordable Care Act.

Yeah I agree with this, if by “a lot to do with” the ACA we mean that Kimmel’s experience had “absolutely nothing to do with” the ACA.

A lot of spergs responded to Kimmel’s diatribe by using 700 words to point out the simple fact that Jimmy Kimmel’s family is not on Obamacare. He is a rich celebrity who can pay for the best health care in the world. His personal experience therefore tells us nothing about whether Obamacare is good public policy.

Other than possibly his maid or gardener, it’s a good bet that Jimmy Kimmel does not even know a single person on Obamacare. But he had a sick kid, so now he’s an expert, apparently.

This reminds me of the British Ruling Class, which constantly reminds the British Peons how the socialist National Health Service is the ‘envy of the world.’ And yet, the individuals in the Ruling Class never actually use the NHS; when they get sick, they pay for private care. Socialist healthcare for thee, private for me. Same with Jimmy Kimmel.

“If your baby is going to die, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make,” Kimmel said. “I think that’s something that whether you’re a Republican, or a Democrat, or something else, we can all agree on.”

Right. But what does that have to do with Obamacare? Obamacare is just a form of insurance. A deathly ill baby needs treatment, not insurance. And the fact is that nobody who is sick is denied treatment because of their insurance status or ability to pay. That was true even before Obamacare. In fact, it has always been true.

Does Jimmy Kimmel really believe that hospitals, doctors, and nurses refuse treatment to sick babies and let them die because the baby’s insurance is not up to scratch? This is frankly a slanderous assertion.

“No parent should have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life. It just shouldn’t happen. Not here,” Kimmel said.

Is Kimmel really suggesting there are parents out there who let their children die because of financial considerations? Parents that decide a $10,000 bill from the funeral home is preferable to a $150,000 bill from the hospital? GTFO. And anyway, that would be illegal. We have laws against parents denying their sick children medical attention, for whatever reason.

Nothing Jimmy Kimmel said made any goddam sense, but we’re supposed to take him seriously because, hey, his kid was sick and he got teary and emotional! So he must be sincere! But sincerity is overrated. Fools and knaves are often sincere. And emotion is generally the enemy of reason. If we’re going to have sound public policy in this country, we need to rely on reason, not emotion.

In closing, if Jimmy Kimmel really believes that Obamacare is so great, then he should sign his family up for it, and agree that his family will seek treatment only within the plan’s narrow network of healthcare providers. Kimmel should put his money where his mouth is. Put up, or shut up. Otherwise he’s just another out-of-touch elitist telling the little people what’s good for them.

Bring Back Beef Tallow Fries!

For decades now, the government, nutritionists, and the medical profession have told us to replace dietary saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats like vegetable oils. That way, we can reduce the incidence of heart disease and live longer. This idea is so widely accepted that the bottle of Mazola corn oil is labeled “Heart Healthy” with a big red heart. The claim must be true, because otherwise the FDA would never allow Mazola to engage in misleading product labeling, amirite? No, the health benefits of vegetable oil are Settled Science. That’s why, about 25 years ago, McDonald’s had to stop cooking its french fries in beef tallow and switch to vegetable oil.

But how much real evidence do we have that vegetable oil is healthy? In general, it is hard to determine the relationship between diet and health because humans are not guinea pigs that can be subjected to a controlled diet in the laboratory. Usually, the best that researchers can do is to ask people what they eat, but people’s responses are notoriously unreliable.

Turns out, however, that over 40 years ago a rare study was done that did manage to precisely control human diets over a period of several years. The study achieved dietary control by focusing on patients confined to nursing homes or mental institutions. For some reason, however, the results of this uniquely valuable study were never published in full.

Thanks to Christopher Ramsden, who specializes in recovering lost studies, the results of the study were finally published last year, after literally being rescued from a moldy basement. And what did those results indicate?

Ramsden wondered if there was more data from the study somewhere.

In 2011, he sought out the sons of the experiment’s principal scientist, Dr. Ivan Frantz of the University of Minnesota, who died in 2009…

Dr. Robert Frantz, a physician at the Mayo Clinic, drove 90 minutes to his childhood home, to search file cabinets. On his third trip he spied moldering, unlabeled boxes in the far corner of the basement. Inside were ancient magnetic computer tapes and reams of yellowed documents. The subject line in his email to Ramsden was “Eureka.”

After getting the tapes translated into formats that modern computers can read, Ramsden and his colleagues discovered what had been hidden for nearly half a century: records on 9,423 study participants, ages 20 to 97, all living in state mental hospitals or a nursing home. It was the largest experiment of its kind.

It was also one of the most rigorous. Participants were randomly assigned either to the group eating the then-standard diet, which was high in animal fats and margarines, or to a group in which vegetable oil and corn oil margarine replaced about half of those saturated fats. Such a randomized controlled trial is considered less likely to produce misleading results than observational studies, in which volunteers eat whatever they choose. Observational studies are weaker than randomized ones because people who eat one way, rather than another, might have characteristics that benefit their heart health.

And because the Minnesota participants were in institutions that prepared all their meals and kept records, the scientists knew exactly what they ate for up to 56 months. Many nutrition studies have foundered because people misremember, or lie about, what they ate.

Analyzing the reams of old records, Ramsden and his team found, in line with the “diet-heart hypothesis,” that substituting vegetable oils lowered total blood cholesterol levels, by an average of 14 percent.

But that lowered cholesterol did not help people live longer. Instead, the lower cholesterol fell, the higher the risk of dying: 22 percent higher for every 30-point fall. Nor did the corn-oil group have less atherosclerosis or fewer heart attacks. [Emphasis added.]

Indeed, other studies also have shown that the correlation between serum cholesterol and life expectancy is positive, which means lower cholesterol is associated with shorter life. But your doc still wants you to bring down your cholesterol.

Time for McDonald’s to bring back the beef tallow fries. But of course if McDonald’s did that, all the corrupt and ignorant non-profit pressure groups would scream bloody murder.

Truly we live in a frustrating world of rent-seeking and ignorance, and rent-seeking enabled by ignorance.

So-Called Experts: Wrong on Salt Too

Almost three years ago, I questioned the declaration by FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg that Americans needed to eat less salt.

“The current level of [sodium] consumption is really higher than it should be,” said FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg. That’s why they’re preparing “voluntary guidelines” for the food industry encouraging them to stay below certain salt levels.

While the guidelines will initially be voluntary, health groups are lobbying for mandatory standards — lobbying that will only grow more intense if businesses refuse to comply once the standards are released. If businesses don’t go light on the salt “then FDA should start a process of mandatory limits,” said Center for Science in the Public Interest Executive Director Michael Jacobson.

At the time, I replied as follows.

For FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg to say that salt consumption is “higher than it should be” implies that she knows how high salt consumption should be. But the fact is that science has not credibly established how much is the right amount of salt, or how much is too much.

In the three years since I wrote that, a number of studies have been published showing that a low-salt diet is actually worse for health than is a moderate or even high-salt diet. The latest evidence comes from the Framingham Offspring Study, an extension of the famous Framingham Heart Study, one of the most prestigious and well-funded long-running health studies. Notwithstanding the assertions of FDA commissioner Hamburg, the Framingham study “implies that most Americans are consuming a perfectly healthy amount of salt,” and more remarkably, that “lowering sodium intake doesn’t reduce blood pressure.”

Consuming fewer than 2,500 milligrams of sodium daily is actually associated with higher blood pressure…
The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily, equal to a teaspoon of ordinary iodized table salt.

High blood pressure is a known risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Hence, lowering salt intake is supposed to lower blood pressure and thus reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. But the study found that supposition to be unfounded.

Moreover, the lowest blood pressure was recorded by those who consumed 4,000 milligrams or more a day — amounts considered dangerously high by medical authorities such as the American Heart Association.

Let that sink in. The Framingham subjects who had salt intake levels that the American Heart Association considers “dangerously high” actually had the lowest blood pressure.

The lowest readings came from people who consumed an average of 3,717 milligrams of sodium and 3,211 milligrams of potassium a day.

The report directly contradicts advice from the American Heart Association, which recommends consuming less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day to reduce blood pressure and risk of heart disease.

The American Heart Association is a dubious organization that proffers a lot of bad advice and takes money from the soft drink industry.

And also the federal government, of course, is on the misguided anti-salt bandwagon.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended that sodium intake be lowered to 2,300 milligrams per day for the general population.  The report is a joint project of the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and of Agriculture.

As for Margaret Hamburg, she stepped down as head of the FDA in 2015. Has she at any point apologized for attacking the dietary habits of Americans without knowing all the facts? Probably not, since I presume she is pretty busy defending herself from a federal racketeering lawsuit that was filed against her last year. The suit alleges that she engaged in a conspiracy to approve dangerous drugs in order to benefit her husband’s hedge fund.

I have no idea if the charges are true or not, but however it turns out, I retain little trust in the people who occupy positions of authority in America today, especially political appointees like Margaret Hamburg. Take what they say with about 57.36 grains of salt, or 3,717 milligrams. That should keep your blood pressure down.

College: Watered Down

Blogger Audacious Epigone (A. E.) has been mining data from the General Social Survey, and he uncovered a remarkable downward trend in a measure of the literacy of college graduates. GSS for decades has been administering a test called Wordsum to its survey takers. To facilitate comparison over time, the test has never changed, and consists of just ten vocabulary words. The test, available here, is not particularly hard, and most educated persons should be able to score at least nine out of ten.

Indeed, A. E. shows that, forty years ago, roughly half of college graduates between the ages of 25 and 40 did score 9 or 10 out of 10. Performance, however, has steadily deteriorated over time, so that now only about one in six can make that score.

A. E. attributes the decline to over-expansion of higher education causing a decline in the average level of student talent. Forty years ago, only a relatively more select group of academically talented people went to college. At that time, only 12% of the population had degrees. Now, 33% do. Just as an individual school cannot generally increase enrollment without lowering standards, neither can higher education as a whole.

Letting more people into college was supposed to lift them up, but instead, they have brought college down to their own level. It’s fair to say that the expanded college population has changed college more than college has changed them.

If you follow the link to the test, it really consists of words that any literate person should know. I hesitated a bit over only one of the words. The fact that five out of six college graduates gets two or more wrong is frankly appalling.

This evidence concurs with my anecdotal experience of running into young college graduates who don’t seem to have learned anything. For instance, I recently met a young lady with an art degree (not from UD) who didn’t know what a fresco was.

She also has about $100,000 in student loan debt.

All this evidence points to the fact that higher education is massively over-expanded due to government subsidies. As a result, our current system of higher education involves an incalculably huge waste of resources. Government subsidies need to be eliminated so that the whole system can be substantially scaled back.

Hunger Strike: How does it work?

At the formerly-great Yale University, graduate students are engaging in a ‘symbolic hunger strike’ over benefits.

That “collective fast” they’re embarked upon has been described as a “hunger strike.” In reality, though, it’s only a virtual or symbolic hunger strike. That is, the students stand around in front of President Salovey’s house whining, holding signs, and feeling sorry for  themselves only until they feel hungry.

Then they go eat.

You misspelled ‘ludicrous.’

The grad students are protesting the oppressed state of their existence as PhD students at a world-renowned university. Here are the meager rations that Yale provides them:

  • A full tuition waiver
  • $30,000 per year stipend
  • health insurance

Huh. When I was a PhD student a generation ago, I also got the tuition waiver, but my stipend wasn’t $30,000. Using the Social Security Administration’s wage index to covert my stipend to today’s dollars yields…$12,000. We also did not get health insurance, and in fact I went several years without health insurance. During those years, there were a couple of occasions when I incurred medical bills and needed insurance but didn’t have it. Both times I had to negotiate a payment reduction with the provider and pay the rest out of pocket.

So as a PhD student, my stipend was only 40 percent of what the Yale snowflakes are paid, and unlike them, I had no health coverage. Somehow, I never considered going on strike:  hunger, symbolic hunger, or otherwise.

This phony hunger strike is just more evidence, as if more were needed, that the leftist mind is unusually at ease with phony poses and personal hypocrisy.

But maybe, after all, there’s still hope for Yale yet.

The End of History–Not

In the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama published his famous essay, “The End of History?”, which he later expanded into a best-selling book. Fukuyama essentially argued that the resolution of the Cold War pointed to the ultimate triumph of Western classical liberalism, broadly defined, as the only viable alternative for humanity.

“What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”

Twenty years ago, Fukuyama’s thesis was the ‘hot take’ in intellectual circles, and it catapulted him to celebrity status. But this month, a referendum was held in Turkey. And the result of that referendum blows Fukuyama out of the water.

Now, when most Americans hear ‘Turkey’, what comes first to mind is a sandwich option, rather than the country. But the country is important. Turkey’s population is larger than that of Britain or France, and Turkey is very strategically located between Europe and the Middle East. And now, following the referendum this month, Turkey has officially defected from its 90-year alliance with the West and allegiance to Western values.

Well farewell then Turkey.  Or at least, farewell the Turkey of Kemal Ataturk.  It’s a shame.  Ataturk-ism nearly made its own centenary.

But the nation that he founded, which believed broadly in progressive notions such as a separation of mosque and state, has just been formally snuffed out.  President Erdogan’s success in the referendum to award himself Caliph-like powers for life finally sees the end of Turkey’s secular and democratic experiment.

Turkey is gone.

Ataturk’s revolution was remarkable. He took a country that had been for hundreds of years Islamist and backward and hostile to the West and Western values and turned it around and made it a modern, progressive nation, allied with the West. Ataturk’s logic was essentially the same as Fukuyama’s–the only viable way forward is through classical liberalism: representative democracy, free markets, and the rule of law. Ataturk’s remarkable revolution had a good run of nearly 100 years.

But even though Fukuyama’s thesis implies that Ataturk was on the right side of history, his revolution is over. According to what everybody came to believe 20 years ago, this wasn’t supposed to happen. The Turkish referendum was an explicit rejection of The End of History.

There’s another lesson here, and that is the role of birth rates. Mark Steyn argues that Turkey steadily moved toward Islam and away from secularism due to the fact that religious and rural Turks in the East outbred secular and urban Turks in the West.

Since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, there have been two Turkeys: the Turks of Rumelia, or European Turkey, and the Turks of Anatolia, or Asia Minor. Kemal Atatürk was from Rumelia and so were most of his supporters, and they imposed the modern Turkish Republic on a somewhat relunctant Anatolia, where Atatürk’s distinction between the state and Islam was never accepted. In its 80-year history, the population has increased from 14 million in 1923 to 70 million today, but the vast bulk of that population growth has come from Anatolia, whose population has migrated from the rural hinterland to overwhelm the once solidly Kemalist cities. Atatürk’s modern secular Turkey has simply been outbred by fiercely Islamic Turkey.

Fukuyama in his book briefly and breezily dismissed Islamism as a viable alternative to Western liberalism. In response, Samuel Huntington in 1993 published “The Clash of Civilizations?” in which he argued that history had not come to an end, and that in particular, Islam would pose a formidable challenge to the West.

Huntington 1, Fukuyama 0.