Thursday, September 29, 2011

Our Affirmative Action President

If I wrote a piece arguing that Barack Obama is our first Affirmative Action President, would I be put down as a racist? Or a realist?

Most people under fifty who went to academically competitive universities in the United States saw what has come to be known as Affirmative Action babies: Minority students, mostly black, who simply could not cut the work at the competitive college level.

Forget bringing up some Herrnstein & Murray Bell Curve arguments about “racial differences in intelligence” or some such: A lot of the minority students simply did not have the cultural and educational background to cut it.

In my own case in the early ’90’s, I remember quite clearly talking to an African American student who had no idea who Napoleon III was. The first Napoleon—Napoleon Bonaparte? Sure, he’d seen the movie. But Napoleon III? President of the Second Republic, ruler of the Second Empire, the Revolution of 1848? Not a clue. In fact at first, I think he thought I was pulling his leg about there being a “Napoleon the Third”.

This young man was smart—smart enough to realize that he had been accepted to Dartmouth because he happened to be black. He struggled academically all the while—because he was simply unprepared for the exigencies of a place like Hanover. His high-school had not equipped him with the tools needed to succeed—

—which was of course the tragedy of Affirmative Action:

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Forget Gold—What Matters Is Copper

People are freaking out that gold has fallen to $1,650, from its lofty highs above $1,800—they are freaking out something awful. “Gold has fallen 10%! The world is coming to an end!!!” I myself took a shellacking in gold—

—but copper is what has me worried.

Copper fell from $4.20 to $3.25—close to 25%—in about three weeks. Most of that tumble has happened in the last ten days, and what’s worrisome is that, as I write these words over the weekend, there is every indication that copper will continue its free fall come Monday.

From the numbers that I’m seeing—and from the historical fact that copper tends to fall roughly 40% from peak to trough during an American recession—there is every indication that copper could reach $2.67 in short order. And even bottom out below that—say at $2.20—before stabilizing around the $2.67 level.

But we’ll see. The price of copper is not the point of this discussion. The point of this discussion is what the price of copper means.

What it means for monetary policy.

We all know the old saying: “Copper is the only commodity with a Ph.D. in economics”, or words to the effect.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What I Learned At Dartmouth

Update below. 

The more you understand, the less you forgive.
—Terrorism Expert

In the Fall of 1991, shortly after the Clarence Thomas nomination and the Anita Hill hearings, the Class of ‘95 matriculated at Dartmouth College.

Dartmouth Hall, by Stephanie Gagnon.
One of the freshmen—or “first years”, as they were beginning to be known—was accused by another first year of sexual assault and harassment. In the hot-house political environment at the time—product of the Thomas/Hill hearings, which revolved around workplace sexual harassment—these were serious allegations.

The young woman making the claim against the freshman said that he had visited her in her dorm-room around lunchtime one day during Orientation Week, and had “forcibly tried to kiss” her. She had rebuffed him, told him he was being “selfish”, after which he had left, without further incident.

This was the sexual assault allegation.

The young woman also claimed that the freshman had then started to harass her via electronic mail, in the days and weeks after. She claimed he had sent her “obscene messages”, which she had purged from her e-mail account, as she hadn’t wanted any of that “filth” on her computer.

This was the sexual harassment allegation.

The young woman said she wanted to “protect” the Dartmouth campus—and the other women at Dartmouth College—from the danger that the freshman represented. This was why she was reporting this incident three weeks after it allegedly took place.

The accused freshman, being unsophisticated, went through the disciplinary channels of Dartmouth College without contacting attorneys or even his parents. He was confident that the allegations would be shown to be lies—because he knew they were lies.

More to the point, he could prove that they were lies.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

They Didn’t Win—We Lost

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. 
—Abraham Lincoln