Patterico's Pontifications


Obama: Let’s Give Two Free Years of Community College to Everyone!!!!!1!!!!1!!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:07 pm

Oh, Good Lord. The lefty in the Oval Office is now calling for free community college. For two years, anyway (if it’s passed, though, it will expand to more; mark my words). It’s not technically “everyone” he wants to give it to — but millions.

TANSTAAFE. (There ain’t no such thing as a free education.)

James Pethokoukis had an excellent post about the unintended consequences of a free college education back in February. He cites Andrew P. Kelly to this effect:

[I]t’s not clear that a public option would automatically raise student success. Take California’s community colleges, which have the lowest published tuition in the nation – $1,135 in 2011-12 – and are essentially free to many students who qualify for Pell Grants.

A 2012 analysis by the Institute for a Competitive Workforce found that retention and completion rates across California’s community colleges were above the national average. But completion rates were even higher at two-year colleges in Wisconsin and North Dakota, where tuition is two to three times as high and Pell Grant recipients make up a larger percentage of enrollments.

Part of the reason: students work harder when their education isn’t free. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York (official motto: we don’t just interfere with a market economy; we also do research!) published a study in 2004 that came to the following conclusion regarding the effect of subsidies in higher education:

The findings are that subsidizing tuition increases enrollment rates, however it also considerably reduces student effort. This follows from the fact that a high-subsidy, low-tuition policy causes an increase in the ratio of less able and less highly-motivated college graduates. Additionally, and potentially more importantly, all students, even the more highly-motivated ones, respond to lower tuition levels by decreasing their effort levels.

Additionally, any time there is a giant government giveaway, one must remember the lesson of Bastiat’s “Broken Window” parable: the economy consists of the seen and the unseen. We see the people who get free education. What we don’t see is the alternate things that could have been done with the money by those who actually pay for it. Because community college under Obama’s idiotic plan won’t actually be “free” — it will simply be paid for by other people. And the money taken from those people is thereby diverted from other uses, including savings supporting capital investment our market economy.

Finally, there is the “Bennett Hypothesis” — the hypothesis advanced in 1987 by William Bennett that increased subsidies lead to increased tuition. Better yet, the “Bennett Hypothesis 2.0,” a label used by Andrew Gillen, who did his own study in February 2012 and concluded:

As higher financial aid pushes costs higher, it inevitably puts upward pressure on tuition. Higher tuition, of course, reduces college affordability, leading to calls for more financial aid, setting the vicious cycle in motion all over again.

I suppose it could be just a coincidence that increased government subsidies have coincided with increased tuition, just as prices rise in any industry that is subsidized. But this is not merely a case of correlation not meaning causation, because the cause-and-effect relationship is simple, basic economics. Colleges have fairly fixed costs, and have an incentive to charge whatever they can, as extra students increase profits without greatly increasing marginal costs. Subsidies enable large increases, and the worse the problem gets, the more government will subsidize.

This is a disastrous idea on multiple levels.

But given the low level of economic education in the country, including among the media, it seems unlikely that anyone is going to understand this. Expect people beaten down by ridiculous tuition rates to cheer and applaud a policy that will inevitably make the problem worse.

American Spectator And Franklin Center Say They Stand with Charlie Hebdo . . . But Do Their Actions Say the Same?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:24 pm

A stirring post at the American Spectator declares solidarity with those murdered at Charlie Hebdo:

It could be said that the people who worked at Charlie Hebdo knew this day could come.

Charlie Hebdo’s Editor Stephane Charbonnier (a.k.a. Charb) was among those killed today.

Amid the threats against Charlie Hebdo, Charb told his staff, “I prefer to die standing than living on my knees.”

Clearly the people who worked at Charlie Hebdo lived and died by those words.

Je suis Charlie.

Isn’t that inspiring? And the folks at the Franklin Center issued this press release:

This morning the world awoke to the horrific news that Islamic extremists stormed the offices of the French publication Charlie Hebdo in Paris, murdering at least 12 people. This heinous act was an assault on the freedom of the press – an attack on free people and the values western civilization cherish deeply.

This senseless, inhumane act will not prevent journalists who understand the significance of a free press to a free society. The journalists at Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity stand with our colleagues in Paris and the people of France. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

Not terribly grammatical — will not prevent journalists who understand the significance of a free press to a free society from doing what? — but the sentiment is similar to that of the American Spectator: we must all stand together when speech is threatened.

Well, guys, that’s easy for you to say . . . but your actions don’t line up.

The American Spectator and the Franklin Center both caved to Brett Kimberlin . . . when all that was on the line was money. Sure, they can talk big about how they stand with those who literally risked (and lost) their lives to defend free speech. But the grand pronouncements ring a little hollow when we all know that they caved to a domestic terrorist, when the risk they faced was not being killed, but merely having to defend against an utterly frivolous lawsuit.

I was going to write a post about that this morning, but I was too busy working on our response to that same silly lawsuit — the one that the American Spectator and the Franklin Center slinked away from.

Vous n’êtes pas Charlie, Franklin Center. Vous n’etes pas Charlie, American Spectator.

P.S. Matt Welch summed up how easy it is to talk big in this great post:

So no, we’re all not Charlie—few of us are that good, and none of us are that brave. If more of us were brave, and refused to yield to the bomber’s veto, and maybe reacted to these eternally recurring moments not by, say, deleting all your previously published Muhammad images, as the Associated Press is reportedly doing today, but rather by routinely posting newsworthy images in service both to readers and the commitment to a diverse and diffuse marketplace of speech, then just maybe Charlie Hebdo wouldn’t have stuck out so much like a sore thumb. It’s harder, and ultimately less rewarding to the fanatical mind, to hit a thousand small targets than one large one.

A “bomber’s veto,” you say? Interesting terminology.

If it makes you feel better, Matt, the AP is also suddenly deleting its Piss Christ images — the ones that have graced their Web site for years. This is necessary, you see, to support their transparent lie that they won’t publish the Muhammad images out of deference to religious sensibilities.

P.P.S. I’m not Charlie Hebdo, but I’ll pretend to be Spartacus for a moment if it will help.

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‘Remind Me Again Why We Have a First Amendment’

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:46 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Per the suggestion of the commentariat to add this as a post, commenter Walter Cronanty (whose name is a combination of Walter Duranty and Walter Cronkite, the most duplicitous and hypocritical purveyors of misinformation known to US journalism) brings us this in light of the Ross Douthat’s The Blasphemy We Need post this morning. Cronanty observes:

Note that the NYTs not only refuses to print the cartoons, it also is engaging in self-censorship lest the barbarians find offense. Note the disappearing paragraph after the NYTs sanitizes its copy:
Originally it read:

“Sigolène Vinson, a freelancer who had decided to come in that morning to take part in the meeting, thought she would be killed when one of the men approached her.

Instead, she told French news media, the man said, “I’m not going to kill you because you’re a woman, we don’t kill women, but you must convert to Islam, read the Quran and cover yourself,” she recalled.”

Now it reads:

“Sigolène Vinson, a freelance journalist who had come in that morning to take part in the meeting, said that when the shooting started, she thought she would be killed.

Ms. Vinson said in an interview that she dropped to the floor and crawled down the hall to hide behind a partition, but one of the gunmen spotted her and grabbed her by the arm, pointing his gun at her head. Instead of pulling the trigger, though, he told her she would not be killed because she was a woman.

“Don’t be afraid, calm down, I won’t kill you,” the gunman told her in a steady voice, with a calm look in his eyes, she recalled. “You are a woman. But think about what you’re doing. It’s not right.””


California Sen. Barbara Boxer Is Retiring

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:31 pm

[guest post by Dana]

I wish I was excited by this, but given the very real likelihood that another progressive Boxer-type will fill the vacant seat, there’s not going to be much change in representation. Names of Democrats being mentioned for a possible run are Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former San Francisco mayor; state Attorney Gen. Kamala Harris; former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; and billionaire Tom Steyer. And given this is California, perhaps some yet unnamed Hollywood star. As far as the GOP goes, there aren’t a lot of names being floated about yet. On a side note, in spite of being a Democrat stronghold, California is a top-two primary state, and if the Democrats crowd the field enough to seriously split the vote, it’s possible that a Republican could make it through to the general election. If it’s split enough, two Republicans could actually make it through to November and thus effectively take over the seat from Democrats. I wonder what Clint is up to…

Anyway, evidencing that her stepping down is happening none too soon, Yes M’am seems a bit confused about the whole retirement thing:

I am never going to retire. The work is too important. But I will not be running for the Senate in 2016.


Ross Douthat: The Blasphemy We Need

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:53 am

[guest post by Dana]

From Ross Douthat:

If a large enough group of someones is willing to kill you for saying something, then it’s something that almost certainly needs to be said, because otherwise the violent have veto power over liberal civilization, and when that scenario obtains it isn’t really a liberal civilization any more. Again, liberalism doesn’t depend on everyone offending everyone else all the time, and it’s okay to prefer a society where offense for its own sake is limited rather than pervasive. But when offenses are policed by murder, that’s when we need more of them, not less, because the murderers cannot be allowed for a single moment to think that their strategy can succeed.

In this sense, many of the Western voices criticizing the editors of Hebdo have had things exactly backward: Whether it’s the Obama White House or Time Magazine in the past or the Financial Times and (God help us) the Catholic League today, they’ve criticized the paper for provoking violence by being needlessly offensive and “inflammatory” (Jay Carney’s phrase), when the reality is that it’s precisely the violence that justifies the inflammatory content.

Read the whole thing. Surprisingly, there are a number of readers who comment that this is the first time they’ve ever agreed with Douthat.

And in a bit of a disconnect, it’s ironic how Douthat’s piece is in the NYT but the paper has seemingly opted not to publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoon.


Update: Here is the New York Times explanation for their lack of journalistic courage in printing the cartoon:

“Under Times standards, we do not normally publish images or other material deliberately intended to offend religious sensibilities. After careful consideration, Times editors decided that describing the cartoons in question would give readers sufficient information to understand today’s story.”

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