Monday, March 07, 2016

Don't waste time over-policing charity programs

It makes everyone worse off and no one better off.
Even the financial costs of any detection and enforcement mechanism serious enough to even try to get these false negatives (people who aren’t caught and thrown out of SNAP) down to 0 will be high; it wouldn’t surprise me for those costs alone to exceed $14 million (and I don’t for a second believe there will be $14 million in savings). As conservatives know when it comes to business, environmental, and health regulation, trying to turn one-in-20,000 events to 0-in-20,000 events is hard and expensive and complicated. Moreover (and as they also know) it generates errors in the other direction. “Zero-tolerance” policies are a plague on the American political and legal climate right now. The effort to make sure that no American child ever brings a narcotic or firearm to school is doomed to fail to begin with, and also results in stupid expulsions of children carrying aspirin or squirt guns. What we have here isn’t a new substantive rule (big-money lottery winners are already income-inelgiible for SNAP) but a zero-tolerance mindset applied to the existing rule, an effort to move from trivially-few to zero offenses; and innocent people will get caught in the net. (Something everyone could stand to remember: the lower frequency an offense is, the worse the ratio is likely to be between the false negatives you’re trying to prevent and the false positives you’re going to create.)

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Campus monoculture

JONATHAN HAIDT: I didn’t even know about that. The president was supposed to be the grown-up in the room. He was supposed to show some wisdom, some balance, and some strength. And so we’ve seen, basically what can really only be called Maoist moral bullying – am we saw it very clearly at Claremont McKenna. The video is really chilling–the students surrounding this nice woman who was trying to help them, and reducing her to tears. As we’ve seen more and more of this, I’ve begun calling it, “the Yale problem,” referring to the way that left-leaning institutions are now cut off from any moral vocabulary that they could use to resist the forces of illiberalism. As far as I’m concerned, “Next Yale” can go find its own “Next Alumni.” I don’t plan to give to Yale ever again, unless it reverses course.
Time to stand up for reality.

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