Which clueless totalitarian are you?

We need a Facebook quiz to find out which Atlas Shrugged character Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is like.

There might not be a match. Ayn Rand’s fiction has been criticized for unidimensional characterization, but even she would find AOC unbelievable.

Here Are The Most Shocking Proposals From Ocasio-Cortez’ “Green New Deal”

Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t provide any insight into how the trillions of dollars in spending will be paid for other than claiming, “The Federal Reserve can extend credit to power these projects and investments and new public banks can be created to extend credit”. But as Ocasio-Cortez says, “the question isn’t how will we pay for it, but what will we do with our new shared prosperity”.

Provide free, mandatory classes for every citizen in speaking ‘Venezuelan?’

(Update, 12:48PM here‘s one estimate of the cost.)

Here’s a snippet from an FAQ document, published by proponents, describing the wonders of the ‘Green New Deal:’

Yes, we are calling for a full transition off fossil fuels and zero greenhouse gases. Anyone who has read the resolution sees that we spell this out through a plan that calls for eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from every sector of the economy. Simply banning fossil fuels immediately won’t build the new economy to replace it – this is the plan to build that new economy and spells out how to do it technically. We do this through a huge mobilization to create the renewable energy economy as fast as possible. We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast, but we think we can ramp up renewable manufacturing and power production, retrofit every building in America, build the smart grid, overhaul transportation and agriculture, plant lots of trees and restore our ecosystem to get to net-zero.

Maybe “our new shared prosperity” will pay for little solar-powered methane suction devices attached to the rear of every cow.  “Methane Disposal,” you ask?  Well, we just inject it into the natural gas supply lines…  Oh wait, natural gas will be banned.

OK.  More likely, the cow problem solves itself when meat and milk are banned.

This manifesto attracted so much ridicule that they tried to disappear it from the internet. They forgot the internet is forever. It is humorous reading.

This great leap forward is on top of universal free college education and medicare for all. So, they desperately need the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, King Midas, and the Pope (for divine intervention).

What they’ve got is Modern Monetary Theory:

MMT Sounds Great In Theory, But…

If you haven’t heard about Modern Monetary Theory your IQ is higher than it would have been if you had. It is really neither modern, nor a theory (it’s not actually testable*); and it misapprehends the meaning of the word ‘monetary.’ However, it could be in your future as a general government policy.

This theory of infinite currency printing does not admit to being limited by inflation. Any excess currency is simply taxed back. Inflation is something that cannot happen with a proper implementation of MMT.

Proper. Implementation. By the ‘best and brightest.’ Like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.

MMT has an obvious attraction for politicians. We’ve been playing at the edges of it for quite some time.

Let’s close with a last word from Ocasio-Cortez on the “Green New Deal”:

“I think one way that the right does try to mischaracterize what we’re doing as though it’s like some kind of massive government takeover. Obviously it’s not that because what we’re trying to do is release the investments from the federal government to mobilize those resources across the country.”

Obviously! Release! Investments! Mobilize! That explains the whole thing: She’s hired a fluent Newspeak expert. ‘Obviously’ means, “If you don’t understand, it’s because you’re stupid.” ‘Release’ means, oh, I don’t know, “the vast Federal budget surplus being held hostage by Trump’s wall proposal?” ‘Investments’ means, “Impossible government spending.” ‘Mobilize’ means, “At gunpoint.”

*Proponents will say, “It is testable, but it’s never been tried.” Well, that’s what they say about Communism, too. But, let’s even ignore the actual workings of an economy and admit that MMT depends on the refined judgment of virtuous politicians zealously balancing currency flow. And if you imagine that can be accomplished, you run into an even bigger problem: To do their job, these paragons also have to possess instant, encyclopedic, perfectly accurate information about every aspect of that economy.

Who decides what’s “fair?”

We’re from the government, we know everything, and we’re here to make international trade “fair.”

From Cafe Hayek:

First, there’s no reason to suppose that even saintly government officials possess, or could possibly obtain, the knowledge necessary to obstruct in welfare-enhancing ways their fellow-citizens’ trade with foreigners.

Second, there’s no reason to suppose that even stupendously well-informed government officials would, when obstructing their fellow-citizens’ trade, act to promote the general welfare rather than to promote the welfare of special-interest groups.

Third, there’s no reason, if government officials are to be trusted with such extensive powers as you desire, to limit the exercise of those powers only to economic change sparked by trade that crosses political borders.

RTWT

See also: A Failure to Adjust, a long, well documented, explanation of the results of assuming complete knowledge, while complaining that “better complete knowledge” would prevent the problems.

Note to Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria,

As a newly elected Congressional Representative, self-described democratic socialist, open borders advocate, Medicare for all proponent, free college education supporter, BDS enthusiast, and CAGW partisan you have your work cut out for you in your new job.

I think it’s possible you’re operating under a few misconceptions that will make that job more difficult. For example:

And so I do think that right now we have this no-holds-barred, Wild West hyper-capitalism. What that means is profit at any cost. Capitalism has not always existed in the world, and it will not always exist in the world. When this country started, we were not a capitalist [nation], we did not operate on a capitalist economy.

Not exactly. There hasn’t been anything resembling hyper-capitalism in world history, and certainly not in the United States since about the time of Woodrow Wilson. We are far from achieving a free market system.  “Profit at any cost” is, in any case, not a charge reasonably leveled at capitalists.  But, you know this, since you have a degree in economics.  Right?

You do seem confused about what socialism is:

When we talk about the word ‘socialism,’ I think what it really means is just democratic participation in our economic dignity and our economic, social, and racial dignity. It is about direct representation and people actually having power and stake over their economic and social wellness, at the end of the day.

To me, what socialism means is to guarantee a basic level of dignity. It’s asserting the value of saying that the America we want and the America that we are proud of is one in which all children can access a dignified education. It’s one in which no person is too poor to have the medicines they need to live.

Noble sentiments, with which few would disagree, but perhaps you should pay more attention to the current example being set in Venezuela, where they’re trying out actual socialism. They’ve run out of medicine and most citizens are on the verge of starvation.  I’m not sure how your concept of dignity squares with the desperation of eating zoo animals, or prostitution for food, or surgery without anesthesia, but it’s at odds with mine.

Venezuela, where you might profitably look for evidence regarding how your intentions translate into reality, is bucking this trend:

“In 1981, the year Ronald Reagan became America’s 40th President, 44.3 percent of the world lived in extreme poverty (i.e., less than $1.90 per person per day). Last year, it was 9.6 percent. That’s a decline of 78 percent.”

…which is causally associated with the capitalist idea of free markets.

Of course, that’s what we would term “current events.” So, a little history, in case you think that the Chavez/Maduro experiment has simply had a run of temporary “bad luck*”: In 2017 (60 years after the revolution) Cubans’ average monthly salary reached a post-revolutionary all time high of 767 pesos, or $28.94 a month. That’s half of the extreme poverty line. Dignity for Cubans might be more easily achieved if fewer of them were very poor, and fewer had been driven to emigrate.  This is hard to achieve, but your ideas make it harder.

*“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

― Robert Heinlein

As you say on your website merchandise page “There is nothing radical about moral clarity.” Perhaps you should check your clarity.  Your good intentions don’t make that clarity moral.

Limits to green growth?

By 2050 solar panels and wind turbines will require around 12 times as much indium as the entire world produces right now, the analysis predicts. Neodymium production will have to grow by more than seven times, and silver will have to grow by nearly three times. And this is just for renewable energy; all of these metals have other uses in other industries, meaning mining will have to ramp up very quickly.

And, will it be sustainable?

Population Bomb, bomb

This is your good news and history lesson for the day.

The Simon Abundance Index: A New Way to Measure Availability of Resources
(Citations omitted below.)

Summary in a sentence: “As population increases, the time-price of most commodities will get cheaper for most people, most of the time. Unfortunately, most people will assume the opposite.

It occurred to me when reading this that the simple bet about the future price of a few commodities, between University of Maryland economist Julian Simon and Stanford University biology professor Paul R. Ehrlich, is unknown to most people today. After all, it was made in 1980 and settled in 1990.

I read Erhlich’s Population Bomb (1968) and The Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth (1972) when they were first published. Erhlich assured us that mass starvation was inevitable and imminent. The Club of Rome predicted a dire future caused by shortages of food, water, and all manner of commodities – because of human population growth.  By 1973 we were experiencing severe oil shortages, leading to President Carter’s “malaise” speech.  By 1976 Greenpeace was fundraising off the (allegedly staged) torture of baby seals in Newfoundland as a demonstration of human environmental rapaciousness.

All this gave me pause: Maybe predictions of economic and social collapse based on running out of “stuff” were plausible. Little could be done quickly, but it was critical to DO SOMETHING NOW. There is a pattern there we see today.

To mitigate, not prevent, mass starvation, Erhlich called on governments world-wide to implement draconian population control.

By 1979 the Chinese had done so, with their “one child” policy. One result was 338 million aborted Chinese babies, the majority of them female. While sex selective abortion was banned in China in 2005, there are still 17% more males born than females. This is triple the natural rate difference, so one might suspect the ban is not totally effective.  There’s another effect from the one child policy; “By 2030, projections suggest that more than 25 percent of Chinese men in their late 30s will never have married.” There are a host of societal woes that will result from that.

China tried Ehrlich’s experiment and it’s turned out badly for them.

So, the ‘the bet’ was important in many ways. It was a test of humanity’s future; and, on one side, a prescription to avoid disaster. That prescription is still proposed.

To it, CAGW promoters have added the idea that preventing destruction of all life on earth depends on massive and economically crippling world-wide government intervention. This would certainly curb population growth and reduce human well-being. Going for the absurd conclusion, radical environmentalists call for human extinction.  Erhlich’s ideas inform both groups.

Like climate modellers whose models don’t work, Professor Erhlich has not given up on his thesis. In 2013 he said:

[Human civilization] is threatened with collapse by an array of environmental problems… . The human predicament is driven by overpopulation, overconsumption of natural resources … and socio-economic-political arrangements to service Homo sapiens’ aggregate consumption.

…but if he is wrong – again – we would be well advised to ignore him.  We would find ourselves far less able to navigate existential threats due to restricted trade, fewer ideas, slower innovation, smaller productive capacity, and less wealth.

When you hear the term “sustainable growth,” that’s what is meant.

The whole Simon Abundance article is worth reading, and I hope to encourage you to do so, even though it’s long. There’s much more there than just the Erhlich/Simon bet. It is worth reflecting on the miracle of human ingenuity, stoked by capitalism: Half the world is now middle class or wealthier. I doubt this would be true if the entire world had adopted Erhlich’s advice in 1975.

Intro to the Simon Abundance article:

Humanity, the latest estimates suggest, is roughly 300,000 years old. For the first 99.9 percent of our time on Earth, Homo sapiens lived a short and difficult life that ended, all too often, in violent death. We roamed the world afraid, cold, hungry, and sick. Remedies to ease our suffering were few. In the past 250 years or so, however, human fortunes dramatically improved. An accumulation of incremental technological, scientific, and ideological advances led to the Industrial Revolution, which ushered in an age of abundance.

That is the trajectory Ehrlich told us was over in 1968.  Simon challenged the idea:

After intellectually sparring with one another in print for most of the 1970s, [University of Maryland economist Julian] Simon finally challenged [Stanford University biology professor Paul R.] Ehrlich to a wager on resource depletion. Ehrlich would choose a “basket” of raw materials that he expected would become less abundant in the coming years and choose a time period of more than a year, during which those raw materials would become more expensive. At the end of that period, the inflation-adjusted price of those materials would be calculated. If the “real” price of the basket was higher at the end of the period than at the beginning, that would indicate the materials had become more precious and Ehrlich would win the wager; if the price was lower, Simon would win. The stakes would be the ultimate price difference of the basket at the beginning and end of the time period.

The positions:
Ehrlich:

The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.

Simon:

There is no physical or economic reason why human resourcefulness and enterprise cannot forever continue to respond to impending shortages and existing problems with new expedients that, after an adjustment period, leave us better off than before the problem arose… . Adding more people will cause [short-run] problems, but at the same time there will be more people to solve these problems and leave us with the bonus of lower costs and less scarcity in the long run… . The ultimate resource is people-skilled, spirited, and hopeful people who will exert their wills and imaginations for their own benefit, and so, inevitably, for the benefit of us all.

Ehrlich chose copper, chromium, nickel, tin, and tungsten. The bet was agreed to on September 29, 1980, with September 29, 1990, being the payoff date. In spite of a population increase of 873 million over those 10 years, Ehrlich lost the wager. All five commodities that he had selected declined in price by an average of 57.6 percent. Ehrlich mailed Simon a check for $576.07.

Since the conclusion of the bet, Ehrlich’s supporters have argued that Simon got lucky: had the bet taken place over a different decade, the outcome might have been different. The debate continues to this day. In 2016, Southern Methodist University economists Michael Cox and Richard Alm revisited the Simon-Ehrlich wager and found that Ehrlich’s metals were 22.4 percent cheaper in 2015 than they had been in 1980.

In an essay titled, “Onward and Upward! Bet on Capitalism-It Works,” Cox and Alm proposed a new methodology to evaluate Simon’s thesis. “The real price of everything,” as Adam Smith pointed out, “is the toil and trouble of acquiring it… . What is bought with money … is purchased by labour.” The cost of human labor, Cox and Alm note, tends to increase faster than inflation. From the perspective of average hourly wages in the United States, therefore, the real price of Ehrlich’s minerals fell by 41.8 percent between 1980 and 2015. According to Cox and Alm, in “work-hour terms, Simon wins The Bet [with Ehrlich] in every year from 1980 to 2015.”

When Jordan Peterson looks around a lecture venue and reminds us of the absolute miracle that the lights always work, the room is warm, and it is safe from wolves; he is speaking about the same thing. When he complains that rejecting the cultural underpinnings of this miracle is thoughtless ingratitude; he is correct.

If we can just keep the government hand on us light, we can continue to enjoy abundance.

Update: 1-Dec-18, 11:59
Prominent Environmentalist Finally Discovers His Religion’s Catch-22

Economic growth is a cancer, in this view. Its bad effects are permanent and cumulative, its blessings are evanescent and ultimately trivial.

Malthusianism is a religious conviction that desperately needs to think of itself as a science. From Thomas Malthus and his mathematical certainties to Paul Ehrlich with his famine timetables and the Club of Rome with its ‘scientific’ predictions of resource exhaustion, Malthusians have made confident predictions about the future and claimed scientific authority for statements that turned out to be contemptibly silly. That is the brutal fate that often awaits people who can’t keep the boundaries between science and religion straight.

The Catch 22 is that “sustainable” economic growth is code for economic decline (links omitted).

Homo Tarifficus

President Trump has tweeted his nickname for himself. “Tariff Man.”

I think it needs a little more punch, maybe “Diddle Tariff Man?” Diddle, after all, means “deprive of by deceit.”

Please.  The billions in tariffs are paid by Americans!  The “raid” on our wealth is the Trump Administration’s import taxes; raising consumer prices and destroying jobs.

Apologies to Elton John:

Tariff man, burning out his fuse up here alone
I don’t think it’s gonna be a long, long time
Till markets bring me round again to find
I’m not the man they think I am at home

Good, fast, cheap

The followup to that is usually, “Pick two.” In this case, pick none.

General Motors, the President, and the Trade War

GM announced that it will soon close five plants: four in the U.S. and one in Canada. There are many reasons behind the move, including lower sales of some of GM’s models and the additional cost of $1 billion imposed by the metal tariffs.

The announcement led to another round of complaints and bluster from President Trump who seems to believe it is appropriate for him to tell American companies what they can and cannot do to make sure they’re able to survive in business.

Well, why not? He’s certainly willing to use tariffs to tell consumers what they can and cannot buy.

Reminds me of the Obamacare mandate. Republicans were comparing that to forcing people to buy broccoli. How about forcing people to buy Volts? Apparently not: Even if you subsidize the Volts, batteries, windmills, and solar panels.

Saving jobs where wages make producing cost competitive products problematic (though an argument can be made that most of those products weren’t actually market-competitive anyway, as the plant closings indicate) was, at best, a long shot. Add to that a billion dollar increase in material cost…

Well, at least there are a few more US steelworkers employed than there would have been. For now.

The selected zero-sum victims cult

Conflate the ideas in the following 3 articles, and ponder.
1) Selection effects

To take a more provocative example [of selection effects], consider the “____ studies” fields in academia. Even if they don’t explicitly require professors to have left-wing ideas, they select for such professors by making uncomfortable anyone with a different point of view. In other fields, this is less the case. But I fear that in those other fields, any lack of diversity along gender or racial lines will be used as a wedge to make them to come up with selection criteria that have the effect of pulling in people with a left-wing viewpoint. In economics, I call this the “road to sociology watch.”

2) Does the Zero-Sum Nature of Academic Success Contribute to the Left-wards Bias of Academia?

For a while now, I have had a theory that the zero-sum nature of academic success (competition for a fixed and perhaps shrinking number of tenured positions) affects the larger world-view of academia. (This article that compares academia to a harmful cult demonstrates this zero-sum thinking pretty well.)

3) The Free Speech Crisis on Campus Is Worse than People Think

We’ve heard about microaggressions, said to be small slights that over time do great harm to disadvantaged groups; trigger warnings, which some students demand before they are exposed to course material that might be disturbing; and safe spaces, where people can go to be free of ideas that challenge leftist identity politics. We’ve heard claims that speech that offends campus activists is actually violence, and we’ve seen activists use actual violence to stop it —and to defend this as self-defense—when administrators fail to do so…

[T]he new culture of victimhood combines sensitivity to slight with appeal to authority. Those who embrace it see themselves as fighting oppression, and even minor offenses can be worthy of attention and action. Slights, insults, and sometimes even arguments or evidence might further victimize an oppressed group, and authorities must deal with them. You could call this social justice culture since those who embrace it are pursuing a vision of social justice. But we call it victimhood culture because being recognized as a victim of oppression now confers a kind of moral status, in much the same way that being recognized for bravery did in honor cultures…

Victimhood culture is a new moral culture, not simply a variant of dignity culture. Its adherents and defenders still use much of the language of dignity, as when writer Regina Rini describes the goal of microaggression reporting as “a culture in which no one is denied full moral recognition.” This sounds like dignity culture, except that the implication is that even minor and unintentional slights deny people full moral recognition. The break with dignity culture is more fundamental, though. Dignity culture fights oppression by appealing to what we all have in common. Our status as human beings is what’s most important about us. But victimhood culture conceives of people as victims or oppressors, and maintains that where we fall on this dimension is what’s most important about us, even in our everyday relationships and interactions. And this means that victimhood culture is ultimately incompatible with the goals of the university. Pursuing truth in an environment of vigorous debate will always involve causing offense—and one of the shibboleths of victimhood culture is that it’s okay to offend the oppressors but not the oppressed. Many campus activists, realizing this, have attacked the ideals of free speech and academic freedom. One of these visions will have to prevail—either dignity culture and the notion of the university as a place to pursue truth, or victimhood culture and the notion of the university as a place to pursue social justice.

The first article ends with the passage I quoted, and there’s more there to think about. “Making uncomfortable anyone with a different point of view” is a very nice description of why our campuses have become so anti-free speech. RTWT. I also highly recommend perusing the comments.

The second article makes a wonderful point about capitalism. The comments there are also worth a look.

The third article is fairly long, but it does an excellent job making the case that “Victimhood culture is a moral culture, and the activists who embrace it are moral actors, not part of a “snowflake generation” that can’t cope with disagreement.” In other words, victimhood culture is much more of a threat to classical liberal values than you might think if you dismiss it as a silly, passing phase of young naifs surrounded by mentors who view 1984 as a “How to” guide.

This new culture is abetted by social media; where qualifications for oppressed tribal membership are continually redefined, identitarian scoring systems are maintained, and virtue signaling shaming rituals are fueled.

Further reading:

Rule by internet mobs.
Narrow Roads of Bozo Land: How We Came to Be Governed by Online Mobs

Crowdsourced anonymous Kafkaesque accusations.
How An Anonymous Accusation Derailed My Life

The value of victimhood.
Collision with Reality: What Depth Psychology Can Tell us About Victimhood Culture

And what should we fear?
Western Civilisation “Not Welcome Here”

Finally, see if you can connect these dots to Jordan Peterson’s popularity.
Harvard Study: 20% Of College Students Consider Suicide; 9% Attempt It

Victim culture activists truly are as afraid of words as they say they are. It’s not posturing, it’s mental illness posing as a moral code; producing fragile people whose stifling nihilism becomes their only real psychological defense.

Jordan Peterson on why university safe spaces are absurd and crippling:

The Mental Health Crisis | Jonathan Haidt:

In sum:
Strictly select your collective for matching ideology.
View every game as zero-sum.
Create hundreds of victim groups.
Convince students that rights trump responsibilities.

Then teach them they are oppressed by culture outside the ivory towers, and they will demand dignity free safe spaces from within which to plot its destruction.

La différence: C’est leur choix

If political and cultural pressure for sexual equality in employment outcome has the effect the Feminists predict, then STEM employment in Scandinavian countries should be closer to 50/50 than it is in supposedly more “patriarchal” societies.

The precise opposite is the case. The social experimental results are in:

“[G]reater availability of material and social resources facilitates the independent development and expression of individual-specific preferences, and hence may lead to an expansion of individual differences in more developed and equal-opportunity countries.”

In other words, a higher standard of living and a cultural (Western Civilizational) emphasis on individualism provides more choice for everyone. The Enlightenment values of “dead white men” empower women, and when offered that advantage women act less like men than they do without choice.

Duh. But try to convince Sen. Mazie Hirono, or Dr. Catherine McKinnon, or Sen. Elizabeth Warren, et. al..

So long as our institutions operate as if the lack of a 50/50 split by sex in a given job category is evidence of oppression (of females, not of males – nobody is complaining about nursing or bricklaying), the Feminists have it both ways. The results they decry are increased by the policies they favor, so they can continue to demand more laws favoring females.

James Damore was fired for asking Google to consider this. Jordan Peterson is routinely excoriated for explaining it. Brett Kavanaugh was almost destroyed in servicing the idea.

Further evidence from Harvard of choices as determinative, not a “patriarchal conspiracy:”
Why Do Women Earn Less Than Men? Evidence from Bus and Train Operators

Even in a unionized environment, where work tasks are similar, hourly wages are identical, and tenure dictates promotions, female workers earn $0.89 on the male-worker dollar (weekly earnings). We use confidential administrative data on bus and train operators from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to show that the weekly earnings gap can be explained entirely by the workplace choices that women and men make. Women value time and flexibility more than men. Women take more unpaid time off using the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and work fewer overtime hours than men. Men and women plan to work similar overtime hours when they are scheduled three months in advance, but men actually work nearly 50% more overtime hours than women. Women with dependents value time away from work more than do men with dependents. When selecting work schedules, women try to avoid weekend, holiday, and split shifts more than men. To avoid unfavorable work times, women prioritize their schedules over route safety and select routes with a higher probability of accidents. Women are less likely than men to game the scheduling system by trading off work hours at regular wages for overtime hours at premium wages. Conditional on seniority, which dictates choice sets, the weekly earnings gap can be explained entirely by differences in operator choices of hours, schedules, and routes.

“My body, my choice;” it’s the Feminist mantra. Except when it isn’t.

Feminists will counter that the patriarchy operates in a larger societal context, one which places the burden of child care mostly on females, and we have to do something about that. Well, we did:
The Long-Run Effects of America’s First Paid Maternity Leave Policy

Abstract: This paper provides the first evidence of the effect of a U.S. paid maternity leave policy on the long-run outcomes of children. I exploit variation in access to paid leave that was created by long-standing state differences in short-term disability insurance coverage and the state-level roll-out of laws banning discrimination against pregnant workers in the 1960s and 1970s. While the availability of these benefits sparked a substantial expansion of leave-taking by new mothers, it also came with a cost. The enactment of paid leave led to shifts in labor supply and demand that decreased wages and family income among women of child-bearing age. In addition, the first generation of children born to mothers with access to maternity leave benefits were 1.9 percent less likely to attend college and 3.1 percent less likely to earn a four-year college degree.

H/T Marginal Revolution for all these references.

Presiding over spilled milk

The United States has applied its central planning acumen to the dairy industry for many decades. It has worked as you might expect.

Not only does America have milk – it’s got a surplus of over 8 million metric tons, forcing dairy farms to shutter and farmers to simply start dumping millions of gallons of milk that far exceeds domestic and foreign demand

The State of Wisconsin has seen a net loss of more than 400 dairy farms this year alone, and in December last year, the state’s farmers dumped a record 160 million pounds of skim milk they couldn’t sell. That’s three times the amount they were forced to dump in 2012, according to CSMonitor.

By July, farmers in the Northeast had dumped 145 million pounds of milk, and 23.6 million pounds of that was dumped in July alone, according to Bloomberg.

Predictably, we have a bureaucrat to step in for comic relief:

“Dairy farmers are free-market guys – they don’t want to be told how much to produce,” Richard A. Ball, commissioner of New York’s Department of Agriculture and Markets, told Bloomberg.

Ahem. The free market is what would be telling dairy framers how much to produce; if there was one. Since there isn’t, maybe they do have to be told. Which, to be fair, is what they asked for.

With just the right combination of lobbyists, legislators, and bureaucrats I’m sure we could convert this glut into a shortage, or maybe a bigger glut, in short order. At least we could ensure a glut of lobbyists and bureaucrats as a source of campaign contributions to legislators.

As to signs of dairy farmers being “free market guys,” I don’t think lobbying for protective tariffs, USDA price regulation, demanding trade war, or rent-seeking after subsidies actually qualify.

U.S. dairy imports are restricted through quotas, tariffs and licensing requirements. Prices are regulated through a complex system managed by the USDA, which sets minimum prices. When prices fall below regulated minimums, farmers can apply for federal assistance.

US dairy farmers didn’t manage to get into this situation all on their own, they have had a lot of government “help.” They did, however, ask for it – including their share of $20 billion a year in subsidies from the farm bill, a hodge-podge of other price support programs, and the building of America’s strategic cheese reserve.