Author Archive

Schools roundup

  • Bernie Sanders proposals on college finance would not only cost megabucks but homogenize/bureaucratize higher ed [David Fahrenthold, WaPo] While Sen. Sanders “understands that health care and education are the New Commanding Heights”, his colleague Sen. Warren knows how to inquisit-ize them [Arnold Kling]
  • It’s often said that student loans are undischargeable in bankruptcy, truth seems to be a bit more complicated [George Leef]
  • The zombie programs that just won’t die at the Department of Education [Danny Vinik, Politico]
  • If you wonder why the construction costs of a new high school in my area clock $115 million, look to changes in state prevailing wage law [Charles Jenkins, Frederick News-Post]
  • Modest ideas for federal-level education reform: repeal IDEA, English-language-learner mandates [Education Realist]
  • How Title IX came to shape college procedures on sexual assault allegations [Scott Greenfield]
  • British Columbia Supreme Court: not negligent to allow middle schoolers to play variety of tag called “grounders” [Erik Magraken]

Whole milk not so bad for you, it seems

It’s looking now as if decades of health alarmism about whole milk was misguided: in one survey, “contrary to the government advice, people who consumed more milk fat had lower incidence of heart disease.” More from me at Cato at Liberty (“Government on Nutrition: Often Wrong, Seldom in Doubt”) and from David Boaz on how the embarrassment to officialdom contrasts with “the humility that is an essential part of the libertarian worldview.”

I have no criticism of scientists’ efforts to find evidence about good nutrition and to report what they (think they) have learned. My concern is that we not use government coercion to tip the scales either in research or in actual bans and mandates and Official Science. Let scientists conduct research, let other scientists examine it, let journalists report it, let doctors give us advice. But let’s keep nutrition – and much else – in the realm of persuasion, not force. First, because it’s wrong to use force against peaceful people, and second, because we might be wrong.

On a lighter note, regarding government’s bad advice on eggs and cholesterol, from the comedy/documentary film “Fat Head”:

“Think it’s hard to fire a bad teacher? Try a bad corrections officer”

“Since 2010, the state [of New York] has sought to fire 30 prison guards accused of abusing inmates through a convoluted arbitration process that is required under the union contract. Officials have prevailed only eight times, according to records of disciplinary cases released under state Freedom of Information Law requests.” [Tom Robbins, The Marshall Project; earlier on difficulty of investigating Attica abuse allegations, and related on correctional officers’ bill of rights laws]

New survey of lawyers’ ideological views

Paul Caron at TaxProf summarizes (with table) a landmark survey of “The Political Ideologies of American Lawyers” [SSRN] by Adam Bonica (Stanford), Adam S. Chilton (Chicago) & Maya Sen (Harvard).

The study has a wealth of findings regarding lawyers’ ideological leanings by state, by practice area (energy, mergers and acquisitions, and litigation defense are relatively conservative; civil rights, employment, and personal injury are relatively liberal, as one might predict, but are outflanked on the left by entertainment law). Grads of all top law schools lean left, but those of Berkeley, Stanford, and Chicago more so than Yale, Harvard, and Columbia.

Some of Tyler Cowen’s observations from the survey:

We learn also that female attorneys are considerably more liberal than male attorneys, but the number of years of work predicts a conservative pull. Being a law firm partner also predicts views which are more conservative than average. If you consider “Big Law” attorneys, while they are overall to the Left, they are more conservative on average than the cities they live in, such as NYC or Los Angeles. Lawyers in Washington, D.C. are especially left-leaning. … Public defenders are far more left-leaning than prosecutors, though prosecutors are still more left-leaning than lawyers as a whole.

And Ira Stoll:

The authors point out that lawyers not only control the judicial branch of government, but that they are also overrepresented in Congress and among the presidents. The leftward tilt among the press and academia is a common complaint among conservatives. Conservatives sometimes complain about trial lawyers or the tort bar, too. But one doesn’t often hear talk about the overall leftward tilt of the legal profession, a trend highlighted by this paper.

Meanwhile, the practice area that exceeds all others in its leftward lean? Legal academics. (More on that in my recent book Schools for Misrule.) Related to which, Prof. Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz writes of being one of three openly right-of-center members on the 120-member Georgetown Law faculty: “The consensus seems to be that three is plenty — and perhaps even one or two too many.” [“Intellectual Diversity in the Legal Academy,” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy last year, via Scott Douglas Gerber, Chronicle of Higher Education]

Ken White on the evils of hate-speech law in Britain

In Britain authorities have filed legal charges under “malicious communications” (roughly hate speech) law against a series of persons accused of abrasive and insensitive Tweets and social media posts, often politically charged. The latest target is diversity officer Bahar Mustafa of the University of London, who defends the obnoxious tweet in question (hashtag #killallwhitemen) by reference to the notion that “she could not be guilty of sexism or racism against white men “because racism and sexism describe structures of privilege based on race and gender and therefore women of colour and minority genders cannot be racist or sexist, since we do not stand to benefit from such a system.” [The Independent] Uh-huh.

Ken White: “In a sensible legal system [the tweet] shouldn’t generate anything more than an eye-roll. But in a feels-based legal system, it’s actionable.” As for “you censorious Guardians of Feels on the Left: if you thought that the norms you created wouldn’t be used against your ‘own side,’ …[that] is almost indescribably moronic. Go sit in the corner and think about what you have done.” [Popehat] “Purveyors of speech-scandals of every sort: you think it can’t happen to you?” On the use of the law by powerful people, compare also this George Galloway episode.

LinkedIn class action settlement

On Oct. 2 “millions of LinkedIn users received an email titled ‘LEGAL NOTICE OF SETTLEMENT OF CLASS ACTION.’ The email told recipients about a proposed class action settlement in Perkins v. LinkedIn, involving ‘LinkedIn’s alleged improper use of a service called “Add Connections” to grow its member base.’ …Communicating with a large class of millions of victims is never easy, but this particular notification was handled particularly poorly. Let me highlight six problems with the notification….If the sender’s goal is to reduce the number of people who open the email, late Friday afternoon is a fine choice.” [Eric Goldman/Forbes] More: Coyote (“You Want to Know Why the Legal System is Broken?”)

October 7 roundup