Princeton case highlights the need for immunity after public confession of racism?

American Great Awakenings have tended to require public confessions of sin. Stand up in front of the congregation, admit that you’re a sinner, and let the healing and forgiveness begin. This was extended to Alcoholics Anonymous. Stand up and admit that you’re an alcoholic. More recently, this has been adapted for the Great Awokening: stand up and admit that you’re a racist.

Princeton tried this collectively, via a letter from its president, and was not rewarded with the conventional “Hello, Princeton,” but instead with a letter from the Feds demanding to know if Princeton was lying in past years about not being racist (or maybe Princeton is lying now about being racist?).

From a 2008 coast-to-coast helicopter trip (ferrying a Robinson R44 from the factory):

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Why is the late RBG considered an advocate of “gender equality”?

My Facebook feed is alive with people mourning Ruth Bader Ginsburg, often specifically mentioning that she advocated “equality”. Our government-sponsored broadcasting network describes her as “a champion of gender equality”:

Yet Ginsburg praised Brett Kavanaugh for promising to hire employees (clerks) from only one gender ID and then following through on that promise to practice gender-based discrimination in employment. From “Ginsburg credits Kavanaugh for helping boost number of female Supreme Court clerks” (The Hill):

“Justice Kavanaugh made history by bringing on board an all-female law clerk crew. Thanks to his selections, the Court has this Term, for the first time ever, more women than men serving as law clerks,” she said, according to remarks released by the court.

Her remarks come several months after Kavanaugh, who was confirmed to the court last year after a fraught confirmation battle that centered around allegations of sexual misconduct, followed through on a promise he made during the nomination process to appoint an all-female team of law clerks.

(Why is that private employers can be sued by plaintiffs alleging gender discrimination in employment if our top government officials brag about doing this?)

Perhaps RBG could legitimately be described as having been an advocate for 1 out of 50+ possible gender IDs. But why is she is an example of someone who advocated “equality” among people with 50+ gender IDs?

Separately, if Mother-of-7 Amy Coney Barrett is appointed to this demanding job (though apparently it wasn’t too demanding for an unhealthy 87-year-old?), will that stop stay-at-home American helicopter moms-of-1-or-2 from complaining that they are exhausted from doing the most difficult job on the planet?


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What to do when a family member is an anti-masker?

She walks by “We Believe… Science is Real” signs every day and yet…

I mentioned the need to follow guidance from Dr. Fauci (not last month’s guidance, of course, but this month’s!):

What to do with this household member who puts herself, her family, and the entire country at risk?

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Will millionaires pay up to live in New Jersey?

“Deal Reached in N.J. for ‘Millionaires Tax’ to Address Fiscal Crisis” (NYT):

Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat, announced a deal with legislative leaders to increase state taxes on income over $1 million by nearly 2 percentage points, giving New Jersey one of the highest state tax rates on wealthy people in the country. The agreement also includes an annual rebate of as much as $500 for families making less than $150,000.

The good news is that Governor Murphy will be a hero in literature and movies 800 years from now, just like Robin Hood. Murphy is taking from the rich (assuming that they can’t figure out how to escape to Florida, Wyoming, Nevada, Tennessee, Texas, Alaska, et al) and giving to the poor (where “poverty” starts at $150k/year, not a great argument for attracting new residents hoping to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle!). New Jersey is already the third highest tax state (percentage of residents’ income harvested for state and local government).

On the one hand, people are fleeing Manhattan to get extra space, which favors suburban New Jersey. On the other hand, New Jersey is not blessed with a California-style climate that might induce people to pay huge $$. year after year.

(You might reasonably ask “If tax rates are relevant, why didn’t rich people move away some years ago?” It is true that New Jersey has been a high-tax state for a long time. However, until 2018, roughly half of those high taxes were paid by the generous folks in Kansas, Indiana, Texas, Florida, etc. A wealthy New Jersey resident might pay a lot to New Jersey, but could turn around and deduct this payment from his/her/zi/their federal taxable income. So we would expect people today to be a lot more sensitive to state tax rates than they were back in 2017, for example. And the fact that work and social life are now Internet-based should also reduce barriers to moving.)

Readers: What’s a good test to see if this tax hike works as advertised. My theory is that it takes people about three years after a tax law change to get organized and adapt. So we should try to look at New Jersey’s relative fiscal health in 2024. But what do we look at? Unfunded pension and health insurance liabilities for state and local government employees? Right now it is “$151 billion, the worst in the nation”. But if the stock market rises or falls under the able stewardship of President Harris, that might move this number enough to swamp any effect from this tax. How about IRS data? Try to find the percentage of America’s high earners (over $1 million/year in income) who live in New Jersey in 2020 and then in 2024. (example map of money migration produced with these data)

From the glorious days of film… pig racing at the New Jersey State Fair:

And, even before 93 percent peaceful protests…


  • “One Top Taxpayer Moved, and New Jersey Shuddered” (NYT, April 2016): the hedge-fund billionaire David Tepper … declared himself a resident of Florida after living for over 20 years in New Jersey. He later moved the official headquarters of his hedge fund, Appaloosa Management, to Miami. … Tax experts say his move to Florida could cost New Jersey — which has a top tax rate of 8.97 percent — hundreds of millions of dollars in lost payments.
  • Pennsylvania’s top income tax rate is 3 percent; if you need to go into Manhattan only once per week, why not drive an extra hour and save $100,000/year in tax?
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When we wear masks, does the coronavirus thank us for our service?

For the coronavirus to become truly American, it needs to learn to say “Thank you for your service”. But when should the virus say this? Suggestion: whenever we wear our masks.

Case 1: Masks don’t “work” (i.e., don’t slow the transmission of coronavirus).

Suppose that masks as worn by the general population don’t work. Just as #Science tells us in “Postoperative wound infections and surgical face masks: a controlled study”:

It has never been shown that wearing surgical face masks decreases postoperative wound infections. On the contrary, a 50% decrease has been reported after omitting face masks.

and just as we’d expect from learning that masked-up Japan has 2.5X the flu death rate of the unmasked U.S.

Coronavirus is thankful when we wear masks because our misplaced faith in masks leads us to delay taking effective action against the virus, e.g., building shade structures and holding school outdoors (changing the calendar in northern states so that the school year is during the warm months), decluttering retail stores, etc.

Case 2: Masks “work” (i.e., slow the transmission of coronavirus).

Suppose that masks as worn by the general population work precisely as advertised. Maybe that still helps the coronavirus.

Consider what happens in an unmasked “give the finger to the virus” population, such as Sweden. The virus flourishes for about three months and then fails. Compare to the slow burn of the mostly-masked U.S. and the not-fade-away of completely-masked France:

Maybe the masks protect enough people that the virus can sustain itself at a low-to-medium boil. Especially in a geographically large area in which epidemics have been on different schedules, the virus keeps finding mask-protected populations to infect. The virus stays topmost in our minds, our hearts, and our media. Shouldn’t coronavirus then thank us for our service to it?

Readers: (1) are we doing the virus a favor, whether the masks work or not? (2) which of the below masks do you think is more stylish?

Related: a neighbor with female-identifying handwriting thanks “Pool Guys” for their service…

Note the relative prominence of 2 out of 50 gender IDs for parents:

And an expression of my deepest personal feelings, ordinarily kept out of this blog as best I can…


  • Cornell University, via testing, tracing, and a variety of restrictions that would be generally familiar to convicted felons on probation, is carefully tending a population of tens of thousands of fresh hosts for the coronavirus (as soon as these folks leave the restrictions of the bubble to which they’ve voluntarily subscribed, the virus will be happy to infect them)
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Fewer retail stores in cities due to higher insurance rates going forward?

“$1 billion-plus riot damage is most expensive in insurance history” (Axios):

The vandalism and looting following the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police will cost the insurance industry more than any other violent demonstrations in recent history, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The protests that took place in 140 U.S. cities this spring were mostly peaceful, but the arson, vandalism and looting that did occur will result in at least $1 billion to $2 billion of paid insurance claims — eclipsing the record set in Los Angeles in 1992 after the acquittal of the police officers who brutalized Rodney King.

Shops in the suburbs weren’t torched or looted, right? Rational insurance companies will therefore charge higher rates going forward for retail stores in urban areas. Combined with the extra risk of being shut down due to coronapanic, the risk of losing customers as richer city-dwellers flee during coronapanic, and the higher minimum wages that some cities mandate relative to surrounding suburbs, why would rational business owners decide to continue operating a lot of these shops? So the white suburbanites who came into the cities to join the protests, ostensibly to help their Black brothers, sisters, and binary-resisters, will have ended up permanently degrading city life for Blacks of all gender IDs.

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How’s the first day of school where you live?

Here in Maskachusetts, today is the first day for public schoolteachers to teach. Negotiations with the union resulted in a startup delay of more than two weeks so that teachers could receive training and come up with a plan for the various bizarre forms of teaching that they’re going to be doing. Plainly there was no way for the teachers to do any prep in April, May, June, July, or August. (Private school teachers figured out how to teach remotely back in March, sometimes in only a day or two; see Massachusetts private school students zoom ahead.)

A popular system here seems to be “hybrid” in which students will attend school in-person two mornings per week and the rest of the time is “learning at home” (i.e., Xbox; back in 2009 it was the adults who were on the 99 weeks of Xbox plan!)

Another feature is that the school days are shortened. Where they previously escaped at 2:50 pm, now the school day ends at 1:45 pm. The reason for this is unclear. A teacher told me that it was to give teachers additional time to plan assignments and that teachers would never be expected to interact with students after 1:45 pm.

A friend in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania shared a plan from the public school system there (featured for its mediocrity in Smartest Kids in the World: Poland). Students will attend school Monday through Thursday, but then be dumped on the parents on Fridays. If it is safe for the students to attend Monday through Thursday, why can’t they also go Friday? If it is unsafe to be at the school on Fridays, why it is safe for them to be there Monday through Thursday?

These schedules, which feature a lot of time at home, seem ideal for boosting the pay of tutors and also for increasing inequality. “Parents are spending $70,000 for their kids to learn in ‘pods’” (New York Post):

Now that most NYC-area schools have released their plans for the upcoming school year, with a combination of remote and in-person learning, parents of elite students are scrambling to supplement what they believe will inevitably be lost if students aren’t in the classroom — by hiring private educators.

Known as “pods,” small groups of four to 10 students in the same grade led by a tutor or teacher, have become the solution for weary and wealthy parents who are paying thousands of dollars — on top of five-figure private school tuitions — for the extra help monitoring kids during their school’s remote learning schedule.

Christopher Rim, founder of the education and college consulting firm Command Education, has been inundated with calls from “desperate parents” demanding leaders for pods that they’ve created with other families. He’s already staffed four pods in the Hamptons with tutors and expects to close in on 10 by the time the school year begins, with kids expected to rotate learning at a different home each week. One Water Mill parent already volunteered her 13-bedroom manse as the permanent home base of her kid’s 11th-grade four-person learning pod. He charges $3,500 a week per student, but offers a flat rate of $70,000 per kid if you pay the whole year up front, which covers 30 weeks of school.

Rim, a 25-year-old Yale grad with a BA in psychology who started the company in 2015 out of his dorm room, trains his tutors, who are all Ivy-league educated and under 30 years old. Some have teaching degrees and are certified to teach in public schools but not all. Said Rim, “This is not a replacement for school. This is not an accredited program. This is a supplement to make sure the students are on track.” All his tutors will be tested for COVID weekly, and will follow CDC guidelines for social-distancing whenever possible.

It’s also a matter of pride. Parents aren’t broadcasting the fact that they’re spending $70,000 a year on top of the $50,000 private school tuition to friends, Rim said, because “They don’t want other parents to gossip about them, that their kid needs a tutor in order to survive the school year.”

Readers: Any good tales from your necks of the woods?

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We have now had 50 governor’s orders here in Maskachusetts

The City of Cambridge recently emailed to say “Governor Baker’s COVID-19 Order #50 made certain Phase III adjustments, including extension of outdoor dining provisions and opening of indoor and outdoor gaming arcades”. This reminded me that we’ve now had 50 governor’s orders related to this virus.

What’s in the latest one? First, a reminder of how awesome it is to have the power of being a state governor:

(sorry for the images, but the governor distributes these as scanned PDFs without OCR). Then, just as the City of Cambridge says, two pages regarding under what circumstances the state and local License Rajs might allow restaurants to serve alcohol outdoors and might allow arcades to reopen.

What about a never-shut never-masked country with less than half the COVID-19 death rate compared to Massachusetts? Sweden seems to have had about 10 new regulations in the past 6 months and they’ve either been laws passed by the legislature or regulations issued by bureaucracies, not orders coming down from a muscular executive such as the Prime Minister. Sweden is being governed, even in what Americans have characterized as “an emergency”, by consensus rather than via dictates from individuals.

(How is Sweden doing with plague right now? The WHO dashboard shows them at 578 deaths per 1 million residents (i.e., only 99.94 percent of Swedes remain alive). The U.S. is at 584. So, despite our shutdown, the U.S. caught up to Sweden just as the former chief scientist of the European CDC said (in April) that we would.

What if we compare to the state where I live? Maskachusetts is at 1,134 deaths per million (Statistica). The latest dashboard:

Whatever we have done with shutdowns and/or masks seems to have ensured that we will have a “long tail” of infections/deaths rather than the exponential decline to near-zero that Sweden has had.

Note that this is the dashboard from which deaths-by-age statistics were removed last month just as officials were deciding whether to reopen schools: Maskachusetts: When people aren’t scared enough, change the Covid-19 dashboard )

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Will Black Americans have more spending power after receiving reparations?

Suppose that President Kamala Harris writes every American who identifies as “Black” (including Rachel Dolezal and, everyone’s new favorite Black American, Jessica Krug) a fat reparations check. Will Black Americans have greater spending power as a result?

Some Blacks are on means-tested welfare programs, such as public housing, Medicaid, or SNAP. If they receive a reparations check, maybe their “means” will now be greater and they’ll have to pay more for housing, health insurance, and food. A 2015 Census report:

At 41.6 percent, blacks were more likely to participate in government assistance programs in an average month. The black participation rate was followed by Hispanics at 36.4 percent, Asians or Pacific Islanders at 17.8 percent, and non-Hispanic whites at 13.2 percent.

The Son also Rises (Clark 2014; Princeton University Press) contains a survey of the academic literature regarding the effect of family wealth and unearned cash transfers on children. In 1832 there was a land lottery in Georgia where winners received a parcel of land roughly equal in value to the median family wealth at the time (i.e., the typical winners ended up with twice as much wealth, about $150,000 extra in today’s money). How did the children of the winners do?

They were no more literate than the children of losers. Their occupational status was no higher. Their own children in 1880 (the grandchildren of the 1832 winners) were again no more literate. Worse, they were significantly less likely to be enrolled in school than the grandchildren of the losers. … Wealth is not statistically higher for lottery winners’ children…

(Clark also reviews a study of Cherokee Indians who, starting in 1998, received substantial boosts to their income from casino profits. For children who had not been living in poverty, “there was no measurable change in any educational outcomes, including high school graduation rates…” This was despite the fact that a child who graduated high school would immediately become eligible for his or her own $4,000-per-year payment.)

“Divorce laws and the economic behavior of married couples,” by Alessandra Voena, a University of Chicago economist, concluded that an increased opportunity to obtain cash via a divorce lawsuit reduced reduced married women’s labor force participation rate. Similarly, successful child support plaintiffs generally reduce their working hours so that cash from the defendant is not turned into a higher standard of living for the child, but rather increased leisure time for the adult plaintiff.

See Long-term effects of short-term free cash (guaranteed minimum income experiments) for a reference to a paper regarding how just a few years of free government cash resulted in a lifetime of reduced labor force efforts. Those who got the cash were more likely to end up on disability and, if not Hispanic, to divorce their husbands and wives (additional gender IDs were unavailable in the 1970s).

Readers: What do you think? Will the free government cash result in higher spending power and standard of living or reduced working hours and additional leisure time for Americans who identify as “Black”?


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Can University of Chicago expel students who lose interest in Black Studies?

The home page of the University of Chicago’s Department of English currently contains the following statement:

The English department at the University of Chicago believes that Black Lives Matter, and that the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Rayshard Brooks matter, as do thousands of others named and unnamed who have been subject to police violence. As literary scholars, we attend to the histories, atmospheres, and scenes of anti-Black racism and racial violence in the United States and across the world. We are committed to the struggle of Black and Indigenous people, and all racialized and dispossessed people, against inequality and brutality.

For the 2020-2021 graduate admissions cycle, the University of Chicago English Department is accepting only applicants interested in working in and with Black Studies. We understand Black Studies to be a capacious intellectual project that spans a variety of methodological approaches, fields, geographical areas, languages, and time periods. For more information on faculty and current graduate students in this area, please visit our Black Studies page.

I’m wondering how this can be enforced. Suppose that an accepted student, a few months after enrolling (which means turning on Zoom from his/her/zir/their mom’s house?), decides “In demography and in the workforce, Blacks in the U.S. are being replaced by Hispanic and Asian immigrants, so in looking toward the future I would rather do a thesis in Hispanic Studies.” Can the university then expel the student? The department says:

all scholars have a responsibility to know the literatures of African American, African diasporic, and colonized peoples, regardless of area of specialization, as a core competence of the profession.

What if, after a year of reading these literatures, a student says “these authors are terrible compared to what Japanese-Americans and Chinese-Americans have written in English; I want to do my thesis on the lyrics of K-pop”? Does that student similarly get expelled?

From a cross-country trip in the Robinson R44:

Update, September 22: the home page has been edited to remove the Black Studies-only limitation. But the brave language lives on at

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