Choices

Gender feminist theory predicts we’d see nearly equal employment of males and females in all occupations if we could erase the ‘patriarchy.’

In STEM and managerial positions there would be more women; in health care and K-12 teaching there would be more men (a side effect of no real interest). That this is not the case is indisputable evidence of pervasive discrimination based on sex.  (Except, of course, for dangerous, physical jobs like lumberjack, oil rigger, lineman…)

The intersectionalists leading those feminists (i.e., almost all of them) are quite certain this misogyny results from the evils of capitalism, insufficient government dictation of female-friendly employment rules, and paucity of financial incentives favoring females. In short, any difference in male vs. female outcome results from deep systemic suppression of female choice.  Don’t doubt this.  James Damore did, and look what happened to him.

The root cause is white male privilege – of which capitalism and too little government coercion are but symptoms. I’m sure I’ve left out much else of the intersectionalist potpourri, but life is short.

Drawing lines from every situation ever encountered by humans to meet at a grand conspiracy theory nexus (so long as such drawing elevates your identity group’s oppression quotient) can be lots of fun, I guess. It keeps you occupied, and gives you all the perks of victimhood. Still, blaming everyone else, over all of history, for everything that isn’t perfect in your present society seems like more work than any supposed insight might be worth.

This is the theory upon which the current feminist societal prescription rests. Let’s examine some outcomes where it has been tested.  Emphasis mine.

Countries with Higher Levels of Gender Equality Show Larger National Sex Differences in Mathematics Anxiety and Relatively Lower Parental Mathematics Valuation for Girls
-Plos One, 2016

“We propose that while economic considerations may play a more prominent role in STEM-related interest for individuals living in less developed countries, intrinsic subject-specific interest will play a more important role in educational and occupational attitudes and choices for individuals living in countries with higher levels of economic well-being. When the relative role of interests become more important than the financial drivers, and when men and women have more freedom to pursue their intrinsic interests, the well established sex difference in occupational interests will become more strongly expressed [74–77]. Altogether, these patterns might explain why girls benefit less than boys in terms of reduced mathematics anxiety. For example, in more developed countries in which people engage more in activities that intrinsically interest them, girls might not engage in STEM activities as much as boys, giving them less opportunity to reduce their negative feelings about mathematics…”

In sum, wealthy societies provide more opportunity for choice. This should not be surprising. But, put another way: Free market capitalism is most likely to indulge individual “intrinsic interests.” It is a superior economic system in terms of choice – regardless of sex. And, “the well established sex difference in occupational interests will become more strongly expressed,” suggests men and women pick activities and occupations most appealing to them. Differences in outcome would not, then, appear to be the result of a conspiracy to oppress women.

There is more evidence for this conclusion:

The Gender Scandal: Part One (Scandinavia) and Part Two (Canada)
-Jordan Peterson, 2018

“Given that differences in temperament and interest help determine occupational choice, and that difference in occupational choice drives variability in such things as income, it follows that political doctrines that promote equality of opportunity also drive inequality of outcome.”

When barriers to choice are lowered more choices will be made according to individual preference. Outcomes will then vary according to “temperament and interest.” This is also what the feminists claim. What they don’t like is that the result confounds their prediction. More choice does not appear to make females more nearly identical to males.

In fact, the opposite happens:

Sex differences in personality are larger in gender equal countries: Replicating and extending a surprising finding
-International Journal of Psychology, 2018

Sex differences in personality have been shown to be larger in more gender equal countries. We advance this research by using an extensive personality measure, the IPIP‐NEO‐120, with large country samples (N > 1000), from 22 countries. Furthermore, to capture the multidimensionality of personality we measure sex differences with a multivariate effect size (Mahalanobis distance D). Results indicate that past research, using univariate measures of effect size, have underestimated the size of between‐country sex differences in personality. Confirming past research, there was a strong correlation (r = .69) between a country’s sex differences in personality and their Gender Equality Index. Additional analyses showed that women typically score higher than men on all five trait factors (Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness), and that these relative differences are larger in more gender equal countries. We speculate that as gender equality increases both men and women gravitate towards their traditional gender roles.”

This next is related (though men and women compete in separate chess tournaments, and for reasons similar to the idea that it is unfair for male and female athletes to compete head to head):

Which countries are best for creating and encouraging women chess players?
-Marginal Revolution, 2019

“To oversimplify only a wee bit, it is the countries with less gender equality which have more female chess players, relative to male chess players. Here is some description:

Denmark is the worst country in our list of participation, with only one female player to roughly 50 males, while the rest of Scandinavia as well as most of western Europe also languish at the bottom.

On the other hand, some of the best countries show evidence of the effect of female role models, and would be no surprise to players familiar with women’s chess history. Georgia (ranked 5th) and China (ranked 4th) both featured multiple women’s World Champions. There are also some high rates from a few unexpected sources: Vietnam (1st), the United Arab Emirates (2nd), Indonesia (8th), and even Kenya (12th) really buck the trend. Interestingly, a lot of the best countries for female chess players are in Asia. Besides Vietnam, there are five other countries in the best ten, and if I am a little more lenient with the chess population cut-offs, Mongolia and Tajikistan would also be in there.

Here is one cited hypothesis:

Could it be that, deep down, women just don’t like chess as much as men?

I consider that to be possible, but unconfirmed. In any case, the lesson is that gender imbalance in a particular field can be correlated with greater equality of opportunity overall.”

Let’s look at the number of women in senior business positions in the most gender equal countries:

Nordic Welfare States Worsen the Gender Gap
-National Review, 2018

“Saadia Zahidi, senior director and head of gender parity and human capital at the World Economic Forum, has stated that “while patterns vary across the Nordic countries, on the whole, these economies have made it possible for parents to combine work and family, resulting in more women in the workplace, more shared participation in childcare, more equitable distribution of labour at home, better work-life balance for both women and men and, in some cases, a boost to waning fertility rates…”

So how are women faring in the modern Nordic welfare states? They’re doing quite well in many ways. Nordic societies have a large share of women active in the workplace, perhaps the most gender-equal attitudes in the world, and a tradition of women’s empowerment in the political sphere.

One might expect this to translate into many women reaching the top of the business world. But this clearly is not the case. In a new policy study for the Cato Institute, I show that the share of women among managers, as recorded by the International Labour Organization, is 43 percent in the United States, compared with 36 percent in Sweden and 28 percent in Denmark.

Comparing the Nordic countries with each other, a pattern emerges: Those with more extensive welfare-state policies have fewer women on top. Iceland, which has a moderately sized welfare state, has the most women managers. Second is Sweden, which has opened up welfare services such as education, health care, and elder care for private-sector competition. Denmark, which has the highest taxes and the biggest welfare state in the modern world, has the lowest share of women in managerial positions.”

So, managerial employment is inversely proportional to gender equity and statism. This is a correlation, not a cause.  But it is not a single example, and requires an explanation.  It does prove that the policy structure demanded by feminists is not producing the results they expect and desire.

Relationship of gender differences in preferences to economic development and gender equality
-Science, 2018

“What contributes to gender-associated differences in preferences such as the willingness to take risks, patience, altruism, positive and negative reciprocity, and trust? Falk and Hermle studied 80,000 individuals in 76 countries who participated in a Global Preference Survey and compared the data with country-level variables such as gross domestic product and indices of gender inequality. They observed that the more that women have equal opportunities, the more they differ from men in their preferences…”

[H]igher levels of economic development and gender equality favor the manifestation of gender differences in preferences across countries. Our results highlight the critical role of availability of material and social resources, as well as gender-equal access to these resources, in facilitating the independent formation and expression of gender-specific preferences.”

More simply, free market capitalism enables a luxury good – a focus on gender equality of opportunity – and when gender equality is maximized the differences in chosen employment increase.

I’m not sure if the intersectional feminists would argue that the reason fewer women choose to play chess, to pursue a career in STEM, or to aspire to managerial positions when its made easier for them to do so, is that they are subjugated by culture from the womb. It seems like one of the few arguments that would explain why their theory has been not just ineffective, but counterproductive.

With that claim, though, they would be hinting that many women in advanced countries are too dumb to see ‘the way’ when it’s shown to them.

Human personality is complex, more so because not every decision is rational, and there may be other explanations than individual interest/temperament/choice. Still, feminism is left to explain why less support, less equity, less freedom for women… results in more parity (as defined by equal outcomes) for women.

Encouraging women to be more like men has backfired if the goal is equal outcomes.

Maybe the definition of “gender gap” isn’t what we’ve been told it is. The science tends to show it’s a choice gap.  That’s very hard to ‘correct.’  You’d need government to enforce it.

So, if we want numerical equality of, say employment outcome, what we’re left with is making men more like women. This is the impetus for the toxic masculinity campaign.

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.

Carrier

The President Elect’s success in keeping 1,000 Carrier jobs in Indiana is great PR. While it depends in part on 7 million dollars in state tax rebates, the silver lining is that this might cause people to wonder why all businesses don’t get such a tax break. At the Federal level Mr. Trump is promising exactly that, as well as reducing the Federal regulatory burden.

Unfortunately, he’s simultaneously proposing another regulation, reviving his threats of a 35% tariff on goods produced by American based companies if they move manufacturing overseas. Apparently, this won’t apply to Trump apparel since it’s always been made in China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Mexico or other countries where labor is cheaper.

Like George W. Bush’s steel tariffs, this is a bad idea that would damage American consumers (including businesses) to favor a small group of workers.

Some (Chao, De Vos and Mnuchin aren’t exactly swamp drainers) of his choices for Cabinet positions have been good, so it’s too bad he’s keeping his campaign promises on trade. Mr. Trump’s businesses have depended on government subsidies and regulatory exemptions and he’s showing every sign that he thinks that’s good “industrial policy.”

Click Stawker

If You Care About Innovation, Peter Thiel vs. Gawker Should Worry You
-Rachel Sklar

If you cheer the creative destruction of an unrepentant, vile private entity that truly deserved it, Peter Theil vs. Gawker should fill your heart with joy.. There, fixed that for you.

Kudos to Peter Thiel!

While we’re on the subject, Rachel, where can I find your outraged criticism of Dr. Michael “Fraudpants” Mann’s baseless, ad-hominem suit against Mark Steyn?

Note: Please note that blogging output is going to be scarce over the next several weeks because of some health issues.

Steel yourself for Trump’s Trade Wars

Yesterday, Donald Trump took the opportunity to bash Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker on economics and “hatred” in Wisconsin. He turned in a typical self-awareness-free stream of consciousness. The hatred aside, apparently referencing demonstrations by public service union thugs, was amusing mostly for its utter lack of introspection. Applying similar logic to violence at Mr. Trump’s rallies would mean Trump was responsible for it.

The economic comments also provided some comedic relief from the difficulty involved in following Mr. Trump’s train of mouth. These included a claim that Wisconsin has a $2.2 billion budget deficit. It doesn’t. He said he got the information from his senior economic advisor – Time magazine. When challenged, he said if Time was wrong they should apologize. Then he might. In fact, “[t]he only time that number appeared in print at Time was when they quoted…Donald Trump.” LOL.

Mr. Trump went on to say that Wisconsin is “getting killed” on trade and to complain that Walker hadn’t raised taxes. The latter would not generally be viewed as a negative in a GOP primary. The former invites us to examine Mr. Trump’s prescription for trade.

When you hear Donald Trump talk about 45% tariffs on imports, you might be curious (certainly more than he is) about how such protectionism has worked historically. We’ll take as examples George Bush’s 2002 steel tariffs and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930.

From Sorrell College of Business, Troy University:
THE 2002 STEEL TARIFFS: DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN

On March 5, 2002, President Bush announced the imposition of tariffs ranging to 30% on steel imported into the United States for a three year period. While being touted as new protection for the industry from unfair foreign competition, since the late 1960s US steel producers have already enjoyed high tariff and low quota barriers to imports. This paper first reviews the three historical phases of steel protection from 1969 to 1992 in terms of tariff and quota levels and the impact on steel consumers. This study tabulates that more than three decades of protection has already cost the American consumer $100 billion in inflated prices for goods containing steel. And not only will the 2002 tariff impose additional losses in consumer surplus above the $100 billion figure, it has already generated protectionist retaliation and repercussions that will be further felt in escalating prices of goods and services unrelated to steel and lost markets for US exports. In that there appears to be no economic rationale for this duty, the paper concludes that politics has superseded economics as the President’s justification.

From Donald Trump’s alma mater, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania:
U.S. Steel Users Claim Tariffs “Protect a Few at the Expense of the Majority”

Some 200,000 jobs have been lost in the steel-consuming industries since prices jumped by around 40% in early 2002, according to the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition (CITAC), which represents steel users such as makers of automotive parts.

And let’s not forget the granddaddy of protectionism, Smoot-Hawley. From the Foundation for Economic Education:
The Smoot-Hawley Tariff and the Great Depression

In 1930 a large majority of economists believed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act would exacerbate the U.S. recession into a worldwide depression. On May 5 of that year 1,028 members of the American Economic Association released a signed statement that vigorously opposed the act. The protest included five basic points. First, the tariff would raise the cost of living by “compelling the consumer to subsidize waste and inefficiency in [domestic] industry.” Second, the farm sector would not be helped since “cotton, pork, lard, and wheat are export crops and sold in the world market” and the price of farm equipment would rise. Third, “our export trade in general would suffer. Countries cannot buy from us unless they are permitted to sell to us.” Fourth, the tariff would “inevitably provoke other countries to pay us back in kind against our goods.” Finally, Americans with investments abroad would suffer since the tariff would make it “more difficult for their foreign debtors to pay them interest due them.” Likewise most of the empirical discussions of the downturn in world economic activity taking place in 1929–1933 put Smoot-Hawley at or near center stage.

In short, protectionism causes higher prices and lost jobs. Wharton most certainly attempted to plant these seeds in Mr. Trump’s mind, but they fell on infertile soil.

Content Canada

Canadian freedom takes a step forward by allowing a foreign corporation to sell books from Canadian soil. I’ll bet you never thought this had been prohibited, but for Amazon to Open Center in Canada is a big deal:

The decision is the biggest departure yet from Canada’s long-standing policy that “cultural” industries like book and music publishing should be controlled by Canadian companies.

…Canada is trying to position itself as a champion of free trade and open markets…

…Canada also announced last month that it plans to eliminate all tariffs on the import of machinery and other manufacturing parts, making it the first developed country to do so.

Canadians just became a bit more free and, predictably, protected industries are upset about it. Amazon in Canada angers McNally

Support for multi-culturalism apparently has its limits, but the bigger story is elimination of machinery and parts from the tariff list. Good move. The US should follow it.

Swindlers and looters and their allies

Ally Bank is probably as well known for paying overmarket interest rates on CDs with no early withdrawal penalties as it is for its commercials featuring cute children who are cruelly deceived by a smarmy adult. The commercials are very good, here is one example.

“Even kids know it’s wrong to hold out on somebody. Why don’t banks?”

Good question. Here’s what Ally Bank is holding out on you in those commercials: Ally Bank used to be GMAC Bank. It is still owned by GMAC, an institution in which the Federal government owns a controlling interest – via the TARP bailout. GMAC has already received government bailout funds totaling over $12 billion and Federal loan guarantees for about $8 billion more.

At the end of October GMAC asked the Obama administration for another TARP bailout installment of $5.6 billion.

At Ally Bank’s website they do acknowledge their GMAC heritage: “We are Ally Bank, built on the foundation of GMAC Financial Services.”

The foundation of GMAC Financial Services?!? The ruins, maybe. If they’d said, “We are Ally Bank, rising Pheonix-like from the ashes of GMAC Financial Services through the beneficence, hard work and forebearance of US taxpayers,” I would give them credit for honesty. They do not make any such acknowledgment. I think all taxpayers’ names should be required by law to appear in the credits following any future Ally Bank commercials. This requirement would stop the commercials.

The Ally Bank website goes on to say:

We’re a bank that values integrity as much as deposits. A bank that will always be open, accountable, and honest. Yes, honest. We won’t deal in half-truths, kindatruths, or truths only buried in fine print. That’s because we don’t have anything to hide. We’re always going to give it to you straight.

Apparently, they forgot the last lines, “We need another $5 billion. Ignore that GMAC guy behind the curtain with his hand in your pocket.”

Ally Bank is willing and able to take on excessive risk because Uncle Sugar the Federal Government owns a controlling interest. Ally Bank is using your money to pay for the commercials and for high CD interest rates. But hey, the government-owner is regulating GMAC precisely, right down to the salaries of its employees. What could go wrong?

We have seen the benefits of this kind of “regulation” before. To recapitulate: Interest rates were held artificially low by the Federal Reserve, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were supported by Barney Frank in their complicity with the “collateralized securities” market, and ACORN intimidated private banks under the aegis of the Community Reinvestment Act – all of which resulted in the risky loans that created the real estate bubble. Now that GMAC is absolutely regulated via Federal ownership, they feel quite free to take on more risk than the market will bear. Why not? They’re using your money. They can behave like they’re Fannie or Freddie.

The American Bankers Association has an idea about problems that might arise:

“This aggressive deposit strategy is particularly egregious when it is used by a troubled bank in which the government holds a controlling interest,” said ABA president and CEO Edward Yingling in a May 27 letter to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. chief Sheila Bair. “Such a bank is significantly shielded from investor and market influences that might otherwise act as a brake on risky financial strategies.”
[The FDIC, BTW, is getting close to asking for its own bailout. -DH]

“Even kids know it’s wrong to hold out on somebody. Why don’t banks?” What kind of bank runs deceptive ads on your dime and then runs to the Fed for several billion more taxpayer dollars? A government owned and run bank, that’s what kind of bank.

Shun Ally Bank. And complain to your Congressclunkers that as regulators they are incompetent corporatist cronies. They should shun bailouts. And re-election.

What this country needs is prevarication reform

Our President said many things last night that were true within the narrow confines of his intentions and imagination. The speech conformed to the Clinton meaning-of-“is” principle: That is how he said things. Most of what he said, however, was logically and practically false and he cannot not know that. President Obama was not honest.

One of many things he said that I found strange was that ninety percent of all insureds in Alabama buy their health coverage from a single company. That’s not necessarily strange by itself, but the President used it to bolster his repeated claim that only government intervention can provide necessary competition among health insurers. Unfortunately for the President’s intended point, the reason for this particular monopoly is the government of Alabama. Alabama regulations prevent other insurance companies from competing in Alabama. That is, there’s no free market.

If, as he claims, President Obama truly desires increased competition, and if, as he says, he supports a free market, then he would advocate breaking down such obvious government barriers to competition before seeking to reinvent the entire health care system on 60 days notice. This reform would be free to taxpayers, certainly reduces health insurance costs in Alabama, and can easily be reversed. Why not try it?

If the President believed his own rhetoric what he certainly would not do is blame private industry for the effects of government regulation. Though I’m sure that insurance company in Alabama lobbies hard to keep its market share at 90%, they can’t be blamed for protectionism practiced by Alabama legislators.

Our President also told us how he would pay for most of Ted Kennedy’s dream, “Reducing the waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid will pay for most of this plan.” Arnold Kling supplied this rejoinder: “And if we don’t pass this plan, does he intend to keep the waste and inefficiency, out of spite?”

Powerline also noticed how many of the President’s comments were misleading and needlessly partisan. A particularly egregious example:

[Obama] There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false – the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.

[Powerline] This is an outright lie, as Congressman Joe Wilson couldn’t resist blurting out during Obama’s speech. The Democrats defeated Republican-sponsored amendments that would have attempted, at least, to prevent illegals from being treated under the House version of Obama’s plan. I think everyone expects that if Obamacare becomes law, illegals will receive benefits on an equal basis with citizens.

RTWT

Over at Reason magazine they also noticed some reality discrepancies: Obama’s Lies Matter, Too

Again last night, Obama invoked the boogeyman of “special interests” who “lie” in order “to keep things exactly the way they are,” despite the fact that the special interests in this case are lining up to support the president, and that the critics of his plan tend to bemoan, not defend, the status quo. Opponents of his plan, he said, were “ideological”; Ted Kennedy’s support for health care reform, meanwhile, “was born not of some rigid ideology, but of his own experience.” Obama said his door was “always open” to those bringing “a serious set of proposals,” and he slammed that door shut on any attempts to break the almost universally unloved link between employment and insurance. He yearned to “replace acrimony with civility,” then got Democrats stomping on their feet with attacks against the Iraq War and “tax breaks for the wealthy.” The center of the debate, as always, was wherever he chose to stand.

The President needed to gain trust. He needed to invoke hope and engender change. He failed.

Markets in everything

Stealing a topic title from Carpe Diem, I found this…

Investing in Lawsuits, for a Share of the Awards

…alarming at first blush, but after considering it, I think it’s an idea with possibilities.

On the negative side, it encourages tort actions, but it 1) can reduce the power of money and delay to block an appropriate suit (there’s an example at the link), and 2) could also convince people that tort reform is a good idea. Market pricing is information. I’d actually like it, therefore, if the results were public. That information does not appear to be available, though.