Some Non-Covid Links

by Don Boudreaux on November 14, 2021

in Crony Capitalism, Education, Inflation, Reality Is Not Optional, Virginia Political Economy

John McWhorter explains that what’s being taught in many K-12 government ‘schools’ is indeed a version of critical race theory. Two slices:

It’s reasonable, yes, to note the partisan divide on some of these questions, but less reasonable to suggest that there’s a consensus against any discussion of slavery and racism in schools. Let’s give that suggestion its weight, however: If critical race theory isn’t being taught to children — and in a technical sense, it isn’t — then it’s hardly illogical to suppose that some other concern may be afoot.

The problem lies in the name “critical race theory.” It’s a no-brainer that the legal doctrine developed decades ago by scholars such as the Harvard Law professor Derrick Bell and the Columbia University and U.C.L.A. law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw is not being taught to tots. (Even one of critical race theory’s principal critics, the Manhattan Institute’s Christopher Rufo, has acknowledged that he’s tried to make “critical race theory” a catchall term.) But today, this isn’t what most voters mean when they object to critical race theory, and to participate in this debate as if otherwise is quibbling at best, and a smoke screen at worst.
It’s difficult, certainly, to imagine a grade-school teacher in front of a classroom teaching this kind of thing. However, this “critical” approach has trickled down, in broad outline, into the philosophy of education-school pedagogy and administration — call it C.R.T.-lite or, if you prefer, C.R.T. Jr. — and from there migrated into the methods used by graduates of those education programs into the way they wind up running schools.

Under this approach, what alarms many parents and other observers is that kids will absorb the idea that it is enlightened to see white people as potential oppressors and Black people as perpetual victims of an inherently oppressive system. That it is therefore appropriate to ascribe certain traits to races, rather than individuals, and that education must “center” the battle against power differentials between groups and the subtle perceptions that they condition.

George Will writes rationally about the irrationality that chews like a cancer at San Francisco. A slice:

An “advocate” says: “We can’t end overdoses until we end poverty, until we end racism.” So, in 2020, the city put up two billboards promoting the safe use of hard drugs (heroin, fentanyl): “Change it up. Injecting drugs has the highest risk of overdose, so consider snorting or smoking instead.” “Try not to use alone. Do it with friends. Use with people and take turns.” Last year, however, San Francisco did ban smoking in apartments.

What [Michael] Shellenberger calls San Francisco’s “pathological altruism” — e.g., spending $61,000 per tent for homeless campers — involves the “sacralization of victims” and abandonment of equal treatment under law. Progressive victimology preaches that behaviors that are destructive of individuals and urban civilization are definitionally caused by “systemic” this or that — racism, oppression, etc. So, progressivism strips victims of agency but also, Shellenberger says, defines them as “inherently good because they have been victimized.”

“Biden Administration, School Board Association Colluded To Direct FBI Scrutiny at Parents Who Were Critical of School Boards” – is the headline of a recent piece by Reason‘s Brian Doherty. A slice:

The panic, which we now know arose from NSBA and administration collaboration, further misrepresents angry responses from meeting attendees to school policies on matters such as COVID-19 mitigation measures and how race is dealt with in public education as violence and threats, when they are almost always nothing of the sort. Such public aiming of FBI attention at what is overwhelmingly just parents exercising their rights within the public school system, even if loudly, seems more meant to intimidate than to actually quash real crimes.

Randy Holcombe writes on inflation.

Here’s the abstract of a new paper by Kevin Grier, Robin Grier, and Gor Mkrtchian:

The US sugar program has long delivered significant subsidies to a concentrated group of sugar growers at the expense of American consumers. In 2013, however, an amendment in the House of Representatives attempted to seriously reduce those subsidies. The amendment narrowly lost. A similar amendment was proposed in 2018. It was voted down as well, but much more handily. In this paper, we show that “Big Sugar” increased real contributions to House incumbents in the interim by more than 50%. Using a district fixed effects logit model, we also show that these contributions significantly raised the probability that the targeted representative would vote against reforming the sugar subsidies. While many argue that money does not directly affect roll-call voting, we believe that in cases where the economic interest is clear and sizeable, and the researcher can use repeat votes to account for district level unobservables, the evidence shows a significant influence of money on votes.

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