The Public Policy

The Public Policy

The H-1B Visa: The Ticket to Cheaper Wages

By 3.30.15

The libertarian-leaning me believes an American employer should be able to hire pretty much anyone he or she wants to hire. But the taxpaying me believes that if the federal government limits immigration yet creates a special visa program for highly skilled foreign workers with the assurance that the program will not cut into the wages or jobs of American workers, then Washington ought to keep its promise.

The Public Policy

Time for Congress to Gut the FCC

By 2.28.15

A couple of weekends ago, when my entire family was down with illness and rain was pouring outside, the Internet was our best friend. What better to do while sick in bed than catch up on all of my Facebook friends’ lives, find new ebooks to download from Amazon.com, catch up on a backlog of movies over Netflix, and tweet until my fingers were tired? And I don’t just mean myself—the whole family was doing all of that, and more. Watching YouTube videos, posting YouTube videos. Between coughs and sneezes.

Here’s what’s remarkable: According to the FCC our Internet connection, which facilitated all of that activity flawlessly, without a glitch, no longer counts as broadband.

There is literally nothing we want to do on the Internet that our connection can’t handle. And we have a teenager, for a clincher. We’re reasonably early adopters of just about every Internet connected device and service. But our Internet connection no longer meets the FCC’s definition of broadband.

The Public Policy

Has Google Pushed the Communications Decency Act Too Far?

By 2.13.15

The cyber-attack on Sony Pictures has raised many serious questions for 2015—and some seemingly frivolous “concerns.” For example, Google has alleged that stolen Sony documents reveal that the Motion Picture Association of America is attempting to resurrect the Stop Online Piracy Act, which died in Congress two years ago. Google claims that the MPAA “led a secret, coordinated campaign to revive the failed SOPA legislation through other means.” Specifically, that the MPAA “helped manufacture legal arguments in connection with an investigation by Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood,” and that this amounts to its “trying to secretly censor the internet.”

The Public Policy

Stormy Weather and Politics

By 2.3.15

It was refreshing to see meteorologists apologize for their dire — and wrong — predictions of an unprecedented snow storm that they had said would devastate the northeast. It was a big storm, but the northeast has seen lots of big snow storms before and will probably see lots of big snow storms again. That’s called winter.

Unfortunately, we are not likely to hear any similar apologies from those who have been promoting “global warming” hysteria for years, in defiance of data that fail to fit their climate models. What is at issue is not whether there is “climate change” — which nobody has ever denied — but whether the specific predictions of the “global warming” crowd as to the direction and magnitude of worldwide temperature changes are holding up over the years.

The ultimate test of any theoretical model is not how loudly it is proclaimed but how well it fits the facts. Climate models that have an unimpressive record of fitting the facts of the past or the present are hardly a reason for us to rely on them for the future.

The Public Policy

Federal Agencies Exceeding Their Authority, Over and Over Again

By 1.19.15

Ultra vires. No, it’s not some dangerous infectious disease like Ebola. But, in a democracy it signals one of the most dangerous trends that threaten to disturb the delicate balance of powers crafted by our founding fathers.

“Ultra vires” is another of those Latin expressions lawyers use so frequently in lieu of plain English. It means “beyond the authority.” And, in this administration, there are all too many examples of federal agencies that have acted or attempted to act beyond the authority Congress has given them.

The NLRB’s proposed new rule for expedited union elections is just the latest example. The 733-page rule was finalized in December and will take effect on April 14. NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce said the rule is designed to ensure that the “representation process remains a model of fairness and efficiency for all.” The board’s two Republican members voted against it, calling it “the Mount Everest of regulations: massive in scale and unforgiving in its effect.”

The Public Policy

The ‘Equality’ Racket

By 1.6.15

Some time ago, burglars in England scrawled a message on the wall of a home they had looted: “RICH BASTARDS.”

Those two words captured the spirit of the politicized vision of equality — that it was a grievance when someone was better off than themselves.

That, of course, is not the only meaning of equality, but it is the predominant political meaning in practice, where economic “disparities” and “gaps” are automatically treated as “inequities.” If one racial or ethnic group has a lower income than another, that is automatically called “discrimination” by many people in politics, the media, and academia.

It doesn’t matter how much evidence there is that some groups work harder in school, perform better, and spend more postgraduate years studying to acquire valuable skills in medicine, science, or engineering. If the economic end results are unequal, that is treated as a grievance against those with better outcomes, and a sign of an “unfair” society.

The rhetoric of clever people often confuses the undeniable fact that life is unfair with the claim that a given institution or society is unfair.

The Public Policy

Your Majesty Obama…And Other Random Thoughts

By 12.30.14

Random thoughts on the passing scene:

Now that Barack Obama is ruling by decree, he seems more like a king than a president. Maybe it is time we change the way we address him. “Your Majesty” may be a little too much, but perhaps “Your Royal Glibness” might be appropriate.

It tells us a lot about academia that the president of Smith College quickly apologized for saying, “All lives matter,” after being criticized by those who are pushing the slogan, “Black lives matter.” If science could cross breed a jellyfish with a parrot, it could create academic administrators.

Mitt Romney seems to be ready to try again to run for president in 2016. But most defeated presidential candidates who ran again lost again. There are much stronger Republican candidates available now than there were in 2012, including governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. At this crucial juncture in the nation’s history, why run a retreaded candidate?

The Public Policy

Piling New Regulations Atop Unworkable Older Ones

By 12.4.14

While you were thinking about cooking turkey and how to survive your weird uncle, the White House was sliding information out into the public without you noticing.

They seem to have made it a tradition of dropping regulatory agendas into the public at the end of the week, right before holidays. This year was no different. On the Friday before Thanksgiving, the White House quietly released its plan for new regulations in 2015. As Common Core battles continue in multiple states, the Department of Education’s regulations prepare to gain ever more control over our kids’ education. Will Estrada, Director of Federal Relations for the Home School Legal Defense Association, says they’re concerned about three areas in particular:

The Public Policy

Racial Quota Punishment

By 11.19.14

If anyone still has any doubt about the utter cynicism of the Obama administration, a recent agreement between the federal government and the Minneapolis Public Schools should open their eyes.

Under the Obama administration, both the Department of Education and the Department of Justice have been leaning on public schools around the country to reduce what they call the “disproportionate” numbers of black male students who are punished for various offenses in schools.

Under an implicit threat of losing their federal subsidies, the Minneapolis Public Schools have agreed to reduce the disparity in punishment of black students by 25 percent by the end of this school year, and then by 50 percent, 75 percent and finally 100 percent in each of the following years. In other words, there are now racial quota limits for punishment in the Minneapolis schools.

If we stop and think — as old-fashioned as that may seem — there is not the slightest reason to expect black males to commit the same number of offenses as Asian females or any other set of students.

The Public Policy

A Legacy of Liberalism

By 11.18.14

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said there were “phrases that serve as an excuse for not thinking.” One of these phrases that substitute for thought today is one that depicts the current problems of blacks in America as “a legacy of slavery.”

New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof asserts that there is “overwhelming evidence that centuries of racial subjugation still shape inequity in the 21st century” and he mentions “the lingering effects of slavery.” But before we become overwhelmed, that evidence should be checked out.

The evidence offered by Mr. Kristof in the November 16th issue of the New York Times seems considerably short of overwhelming, to put it charitably. He cites a study showing that “counties in America that had a higher proportion of slaves in 1860 are still more unequal today.” Has he never heard statisticians’ repeated warnings that correlation is not causation?

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