How many adult New Yorkers can live off a gay black youth?

Some of my Facebook friends posted in outrage over a synagogue in New York City being defaced with graffiti by a guy named “James Polite” (you can’t make this stuff up!). To them this was further proof of Donald Trump’s unfitness for the office of President. The Democrat-for-most-of-his-life and native New Yorker has been generating a tidal wave of Jew-hatred (especially bad because it takes away energy from the more important task of Israel-hatred to which many of these Trump opponents are devoted?) and plainly this graffiti incident was Trump-inspired.

The discussion motivated checking out “After Years in Foster Care, Intern ‘Adopted’ by City Hall Catches a Break” (nytimes, Dec 14, 2017):

In 2008, at a gay pride rally for Mr. Obama, Mr. Polite met Christine C. Quinn, then the City Council speaker.

Ms. Quinn still remembers their introduction on the steps of City Hall. “James was telling me his story,” she recalled recently in an interview. “And I said, ‘Do you have an internship?’ And he said ‘No.’ And I said, ‘Well, you do now.’”

He interned with Ms. Quinn, a Manhattan Democrat, for several years, working on initiatives to combat hate crime, sexual assault and domestic violence. He also took part in her re-election campaign in 2009 and returned to help with her unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2013.

He was placed with a foster family in Queens. His mother regained custody of him when he was in the third grade.

But he felt pressure mounting as he neared his 21st birthday, which would mark the end of foster care services, including money for room and board.

Months before that birthday, a Brooklyn couple learned about the possibility of fostering him. The couple, Josh Waletzky and Jenny Levison, said they had wanted to foster an “L.G.B.T.Q. youth” on the brink of aging out of the system.

(in others, the expert on fighting hate crime is now accused of perpetrating one).

The article carries a fun correction:

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article referred incompletely to the type of youth whom Josh Waletzky and Jenny Levison sought to foster. It was an “L.G.B.T.Q. youth” on the brink of aging out of the system, not merely a gay youth.

Based on just this one article, let’s see how many adult New Yorkers were mining the resources of a black gay (or “LGBTQ”) youth:

  • the mother (no father is mentioned and, depending on the income of their former sex partner, “single mothers” usually receive either welfare benefits, such as free housing, health care, and food, or child support cash under New York family law)
  • bureaucrats in the New York foster care industry
  • various foster parents, each of whom would be getting paid (table of rates by state)
  • employees of the Children’s Aid non-profit org
  • Christine C. Qunn, who got positive political spin from employing this guy
  • the final foster parents who snagged the laurels associated with an “LGBTQ youth” only “months” before his 21st birthday.

I’m wondering if this shows a path to boost one’s social standing among Manhattanites. Foster a “child” from a fashionable victim group two days before the child turns 21. Then spin the tale of being a foster parent to an LGBTQ youth or South Sudanese refugee or former child soldier at cocktail parties, neglecting to mention that the foster arangement lasted only two days.


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Michael Bloomberg exacerbates income inequality with donation to Hopkins for financial aid

“Michael Bloomberg: Why I’m Giving $1.8 Billion for College Financial Aid” (nytimes):

Let’s eliminate money problems from the admissions equation for qualified students.

America is at its best when we reward people based on the quality of their work, not the size of their pocketbook. Denying students entry to a college based on their ability to pay undermines equal opportunity. It perpetuates intergenerational poverty. And it strikes at the heart of the American dream: the idea that every person, from every community, has the chance to rise based on merit.

… I am donating an additional $1.8 billion to Hopkins that will be used for financial aid for qualified low- and middle-income students.

Here’s a simple idea I bet most Americans agree with: No qualified high school student should ever be barred entrance to a college based on his or her family’s bank account. Yet it happens all the time.

Let’s ignore the obvious solution for the Hopkins administrators: raise headline tuition prices by $1.8 billion over the next 10 years, charge families exactly what they were being charged before, but say that “financial aid” has been increased by $1.8 billion. (See “Credit Supply and the Rise in College Tuition: Evidence from the Expansion in Federal Student Aid Programs”, a 2015 paper from the New York Fed; 60 percent of subsidized student loans were captured by increased tuition rates and provided no relief to the purported beneficiaries.)

Suppose that the Bloomberg program works as advertised and therefore that lower income families will actually pay $1.8 billion less over the forthcoming years.

Won’t this exacerbate the inequality that Bloomberg himself was decrying as recently as May 2018 (see “Inaction on inequality could lead to uprising”)? People born fortunate (high academic potential in an economy that rewards cognitive skills) will now go to college for free instead of taking out loans and paying them back from their high earnings. So they will pull yet farther ahead of Americans with low academic ability.

Instead of the rich-in-genetics person with an IQ of 140 paying back student loans that enabled attendance at an elite university, the rich-in-genetics person will now get to use a full 50-60 percent of income (assume 40-50 percent total tax rate in California, New York, and other typical destinations for elite Americans) on consumption and retirement savings. The smart Hopkins grad who came from a lower-income family will essentially get a gift from Michael Bloomberg of luxury clothing and automobiles that will make median-IQ, median-income Americans sick with envy.

In “Protests against Charles Murray inadvertently prove the points he made in The Bell Curve?” I asked “If you like to fret about inequality, the sidelining of less-than-brilliant workers in favor of robots, etc., why wouldn’t you love Charles Murray?”

See also “The Bell Curve revisited,” my 2004 post on the book. Excerpts:

The Bell Curve starts out by talking about how we live in an era where people get sorted by cognitive ability into socioeconomic classes. In 14th century England if you were a peasant with a high IQ or a noble with a low IQ it didn’t affect your life, reproductive potential, or income very much. In our more meritocratic and vastly more sophisticated economy a smart kid from a lower middle class might make it to the top of a big company (cf. Jack Welch, who paid himself $680 million as CEO of GE) or at least into a $300,000/year job as a radiologist. For the authors of the Bell Curve the increasing disparity in income in the U.S. is primarly due to the fact that employees with high IQs are worth a lot more than employees with low IQs. They note that we have an incredibly complex legal system and criminal justice system. So you’d expect people with poor cognitive ability to fail to figure out what is a crime, which crimes are actually likely to be punished, etc., and end up in jail. (A Google search brought up a report on juvenile justice in North Carolina; the average offender had an IQ of 79.) If they stay out of jail through dumb (literally) luck, there is no way that they are ever going to be able to start a small business; the legal and administrative hoops through which one must jump in order to employ even one other person are impenetrable obstacles to those with below-average intelligence.

… For us oldsters, one unexpected piece of cheerful news from this book is that younger Americans are getting genetically dumber every year. Even if you ignore the racial and immigrant angles of the book that created so much controversy back in 1994 it is hard to argue with the authors’ assertion that smart women tend to choose higher education and careers rather than cranking out lots of babies. …  Our population is predicted to reach 450 million or so [by 2050], i.e., the same as India had back when we were kids and our mothers told us about this starving and overpopulated country. An individual person’s labor in India has negligible economic value … It would seem that no enterprise would need an old guy’s skills in a country of 450 million; why bother when there are so many energetic young people around? And how would we be able to afford a house or apartment if there are 450 million smart young people out there earning big bucks and putting pressure on real estate prices? But if the book is right most of those young people will be dumb as bricks.

Whenever anyone talks about “financial aid,” I love to respond with “United Airlines gives more than 95 percent of customers financial aid since the official maximum ticket price is much higher than the typical price paid. Economists call charging each customer according to his or her ability to pay price discrimination, but it sounds better if you say ‘we’re giving these poor souls financial aid.'” (Note that price discrimination is possible
only in markets dominated by monopolies or oligopolies. McDonald’s can’t do this because Burger King is right across the street.)

Readers: Is it logically inconsistent for Michael Bloomberg to say that he wants to reduce income inequality and then give $1.8 billion to reduce college expenses for those Americans who are best set up to earn high incomes after graduation?

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White women keep getting into trouble around blackface

2015 at Yale (nytimes):

The debate over Halloween costumes began late last month when the university’s Intercultural Affairs Committee sent an email to the student body asking students to avoid wearing “culturally unaware and insensitive” costumes that could offend minority students. It specifically advised them to steer clear of outfits that included elements like feathered headdresses, turbans or blackface.

In response, Erika Christakis, a faculty member and an administrator at a student residence, wrote an email to students living in her residence hall on behalf of those she described as “frustrated” by the official advice on Halloween costumes. Students should be able to wear whatever they want, she wrote, even if they end up offending people.

(Christakis was eventually forced to resign)

2018 at NBC (nytimes):

The decision to air a rerun of “Megyn Kelly Today” came two days after the host suggested, during an on-air round-table discussion, that it was appropriate for white people to dress in blackface as part of their Halloween costumes.

Ms. Kelly apologized in an email to her NBC colleagues hours after making those remarks. On Wednesday, she delivered an on-air apology in the opening minute of her 9 a.m. show — “I’m Megyn Kelly, and I want to begin with two words: I’m sorry.”

But her demonstrations of contrition did little, it seemed, to improve her standing with her colleagues or superiors at the network. At a midday meeting of NBC News staff members on Wednesday, Andrew Lack, the chairman of the news division, did not mention her apologies and said, “There is no other way to put this, but I condemn those remarks.”

Now that DNA testing has proven Elizabeth Warren’s heritage as a Native American, would Yale consider relaxing its prohibition against “feathered headdresses”? What’s wrong with a student celebrating the achievements of Elizabeth Warren via a costume?



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Okay for Harvard to violate the 14th Amendment if they do it gently?

I was chatting with a friend who is a Harvard graduate and a tenured professor at a big American research university. He asked for my opinion of the Harvard admissions race discrimination trial. I said that “As long as they are availing themselves of the river of Federal cash subsidies from the Department of Education, I think they have to comply with the Fourteenth Amendment. If they want to throw a race-based party then they need to do it without collecting tuition from students who are getting Federal student loans and grants.”

His response was to ask whether administrators shouldn’t fight against the nearly-all-Asian university that a purely merit-based admissions policy might produce. I said “Taking the long view, Chinese civilization is probably the world’s most successful and the Chinese intellectual tradition the strongest. Chinese universities have been more or less all-Asian. So if Harvard’s mission is academic excellence, what’s wrong with mostly Asian students?”

His personal view was that administrators should engage in racial discrimination, but that they should do so “gently.” He described a “non-gentle” year in his own (rather technical) department in which three sought-after non-white non-Asian women were accepted to graduate school. A dean had come down on the unlucky faculty and taken them to task for their non-diverse cluster of nerds. Despite special treatment, including an expensive investment in tutoring, two out of the three favored minorities failed out within two years. The experience of watching these students struggle and fail did not sour my friend on the idea of race-based discrimination, apparently contrary to the Constitution. Instead, he wanted the dials turned down slightly so that people admitted on the basis of their race or sex were less likely to fail.

I’m kind of surprised that few Americans seem to take the Fourteenth Amendment seriously. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, for example, faced no media criticism for talking about how proud he was that all of his law clerks were female. Why did people accept the idea of a federal official, part of whose job was enforcing the Fourteenth Amendment, being happy that all of his employees were of one race or sex?

  • “What Is Harvard Trying to Hide?” (Politico): Harvard’s documents also showed that while applications from “Chicano,” “Puerto Rican,” “Native American” and “Black” applicants were directed to readers from those groups, the other entry on that list was framed differently: “Blue Collar Asian. Harvard officials said the sole Asian-American admissions officer at the time, Susie Chao, sought to read all the applications from Asian-Americans whose parents had a blue-collar background and many of those from wealthier families. Applicants from other ethnic minorities generally got a minority reader regardless of the family’s background, the records showed.
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Hang out on Saturday with white people who like to talk about racial justice

An email from the town think-gooders:

Hello Lincoln Families,

We invite you to join with others who are committed to racial justice, equity, and inclusion at the AROS Metro West Symposium – Saturday, October 27, 2018 at the Regis College Fine Arts Center in Weston, MA, from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. Learn about structural racism, share strategies about anti-racist campaigns, and strengthen local anti-racism organizing efforts.

The Symposium is co-sponsored by Community Change, Inc. and The Center for Inclusive Excellence at Regis College.

The keynote speaker will be Debby Irving, a racial justice educator and author of Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race. Debby will share her personal struggle to understand racism and racial tensions, and offer a fresh perspective on bias, stereotypes, manners and tolerance.

Workshops include:

· Criminal Law Reform and Ending Mass Incarceration

· Eliminating Harmful Native American Stereotypes [led by Elizabeth Warren?]

· White People Challenging Racism

· METCO Building Bridges [poor suburban taxpayers subsidizing rich foreign owners of Boston skyscrapers; see ]

(Lincoln and Weston are two of the whitest towns in the United States.)

Maybe some local readers will go and tell us how it was…


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Hierarchy of identity groups within State Street Bank picking apples

Happy Fall Harvest Season to everyone.

State Street Bank had a private event going today at a local pick-your-own apple orchard. The company is Certified for “Global Inclusion”, according to the top/big banner for the “Black Professionals Group”. Underneath this group are the following:

  • Asian Professional Alliance
  • Indian Employee Network (Indians aren’t Asian? Or they are Asian, but not “professional”?)
  • Jewish Professionals Network (because it is difficult for Jews in finance to find other Jews who work in the American finance industry?)
  • Asian Professional Alliance (there is only one Asian “professional” (note singular), but the alliance needs to be listed a second time)
  • Latin American Professionals Group
  • Working Parents Group (why not simply “parents group”? if this is for State Street employees, don’t they all work?)
  • Black Professionals Group (again)


This was in the western exurbs of Boston, home to roughly 50 Black Lives Matter banners for every person who might identify as “black.” Despite the primacy given to the Black Professionals Group, we didn’t see an unusual number of African-Americans among the trees.

I wonder if a State State employee who was childless, white, non-Jewish, and non-Hispanic would have been able to join and skip out on paying $20/bag for the privilege of laboring in the orchard. As the event was fairly small compared to the 36,643 employees (Wikipedia), I think the answer is “no”.

Also unanswered:

  • Is the “Latin American Professionals Group” for people who specialize in investments in this region of the planet? (maybe the real experts shorted Venezuela when Hugo Chavez was elected and they’ve retired to the beach?) Or for people who have some ancestry from this region?
  • Where was Senator Elizabeth Warren to protest the lack of a “Native American Professionals Group”?
  • The U.S. Census Bureau considers “Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander” to be a race. Why is there no group for these individuals among the 36,000+ State Streeters?


  • Boston Globe article on Harvard study that found Boston suburbanites developed anti-immigration once they had three days of exposure to Spanish-speaking immigrants vaguely near their neighborhoods (Enos and his staff took to Craigslist to enlist pairs of Mexican immigrants, mostly men in their 20s, to wait every day on platforms on the Franklin and Worcester/Framingham line. The immigrants were instructed to stand at the platform, but were not told what to say to one another or that they needed to speak at all. “Because we are chatting in Spanish, they look at us,” wrote one of the Spanish-speaking riders in a report to Enos. “I don’t think it is common to hear people speaking in Spanish on this route.” … Compared with initial survey responses, the routine riders who had noticed the new Spanish-speaking riders for three days were less enthusiastic about increasing the number of immigrants in the United States, less willing to allow undocumented immigrants to stay in the country, and more likely to believe that English should be declared the country’s official language.); see also the original paper
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Social justice = replacing a slate of white male directors with white female directors?

A reader sent me these amusing portrait galleries:

I wonder if everyone will view these all-white (plus one token) groups as progress…

[Related: During the 2008 Presidential race, a (short) Massachusetts female friend said, regarding my primary vote for Obama, in a disgusted tone of voice, “What a surprise. You voted for another tall man.”]

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How long would it take a Nike worker to earn as much as an American welfare family?

Nike has hired Colin Kaepernick for an ad campaign, presumably to show that the company virtuously opposes the “wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States” (Sports Illustrated, 2016): “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,”

If we assume that the most oppressed Americans are those on welfare, let’s look at the economics of this. The typical welfare household in 2011 consumed roughly $60,000 in tax dollars (“America Spent Enough On Federal Welfare Last Year To Send $60,000 To Each Household In Poverty”, from That’s roughly $68,000 today.

Also in 2011, it was reported that the folks in Indonesia making Nike shoes were being paid 50 cents per hour (Mercury News).

Assuming that inflation in Indonesia has been comparable to the U.S. rate, a Nike worker would have to work 120,000 hours per year to enjoy the same spending power as the American welfare family whose oppression Nike is now concerned about. (We wouldn’t want to question whether the $68,000 per year of tax money translates into $68,000 of spending power; if it did not, it would mean that our central planners were inefficient somehow.)

Using a standard 2,000 hour/year working rate, a Nike worker is getting only 1/60th as much as an oppressed American welfare family.

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70 Years of Affirmative Action in India

From Incarnations: A History of India in Fifty Lives by Sunil Khilnani, a chapter on Bhimrao Ambedkar:

In his youth, Ambedkar had burned a copy of the Laws of Manu, a legal text by the legendary Brahminic lawgiver whose ancient decree was said to have created the caste order. Now he wasn’t about to waste the chance to subvert that order by pressing into the Constitution the most sweeping system of affirmative action anywhere in the world.

To Ambedkar, the caste system was generated by the exclusionary social and kinship rules of the Brahmins, and it spread because other groups, especially those lowest down the order, aped the Brahmins’ precepts. They did so believing that spiritual, social, or economic benefits might come to them, too. This analysis would lead to a crucial insight: that the caste hierarchy was able to enforce itself with minimal physical coercion. It operated largely by voluntary submission, based on what Ambedkar described brilliantly as “an ascending scale of reverence and a descending scale of contempt.”

A right to equality of opportunity in public employment has also been affirmed. Ambedkar did more than anyone to embed these principles in the Constitution. But out of them grew a politics of reservations, or affirmative action, that was paradoxical in its effects. Initially, the principles were supposed to sanction, for a finite period, the reservation of places (quotas), in government employment and educational institutions, for Dalits, tribal groups, and others defined as “economically backward.” (A ten-year jump start was the initial hope.) Yet the power to determine eligibility for reservations was given to India’s state legislatures, and a constitutional principle thereby became an electoral expedient. Politicians can promise, in the name of equality, to expand the number of reserved places, and to extend them to include newly defined “backward classes.” Caste groups, even successful ones, compete and sometimes campaign violently to be deemed backward in order to benefit from reservations, which today apply to just under half of all positions in India’s national government institutions. In one state, the figure approaches 70 percent. So, in terms of social mobility, down is the new up. It’s one of the profound ironies of India’s democracy: reservations, designed to erode caste identities and fortify individual citizens, have invigorated caste categories now defined by the state.

So everyone is equal in India under the Constitution, except that some people are entitled to jobs based on personal characteristics. And the sorting of job applications by personal characteristics was supposed to last from 1948 through 1958, but instead has endured through 2018 (more than 60 years past the expected expiration date).

Readers: Does this show that an affirmation action program inevitably ends up being permanent?


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Taking the Christian out of YWCA

As part of my software expert witness slavery I was visiting a big law firm’s office here in Boston. In the cafeteria/break room they had a sign up from “YW Boston” urging employees to “Stand Against Racism.” The tagline for YW Boston is “Eliminating Racism, Empowering Women.” What was this organization? It turns out that it is the old “YWCA“, but without the now-discredited “Christian” stuff.

I don’t want to show the photos that I snapped because they contain full employee names. But the “Stand Against Racism” poster urged people to say “I will learn about the concept of anti-blackness and challenge it when it shows up.” (nothing says “pro-blackness” like moving to the whitest region of the U.S.) Also “I will apply a racial equity lens to all aspects of my company” and “I will donate to organizations that promote racial equity”.

Life at the firm is obviously more interesting when the topic is not software. One woman wrote “I will speak up when I hear racist remarks!” (don’t think hatred of Java counts). One formerly timid soul pledged “I will be color brave by discussing racism in the hiring committee” (I didn’t see a single black employee during my two days at this office, though they did offer black coffee).

A person with a traditionally female first name wrote “No matter our differences, visible or not, I treat everyone with respect.” I wonder if she would respect a co-worker in a MAGA hat and NRA T-shirt?

Lawyers take a more flexible view of illegal immigration than did Congressman Sonny Bono (“when something is illegal, it’s illegal”): “I will support orgs that advocate for immigrants and DACA.”

When you’re billing $900 per hour, talk is neither cheap nor unwelcome: “I will remain open and actively engage in conversations on racism.”

The next generation is going to be awesome: “I will educate my children about acceptance.” Next to this was “This!” and a bold arrow. (We cannot reliably educate American children regarding arithmetic and grammar, but we are confident in our ability to teach them the more complex topic of acceptance?)

Circling back to the headline topic… does changing “YWCA” to “YW” make the organization more likely to succeed in the long term? If so, can we make big money as brand/image consultants who go around advising organizations that describe themselves as “Christian” to get with the times and drop the word?

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