Welfare System Hurts Those It Is Intended to Help

I saw part of a C-SPAN 2 presentation, originally broadcast on 3/28/16, of a new book by Harvey and Conyers that appears to argue persuasively that the current American welfare system makes it harder for welfare recipients to transition to employment. It further argues that work is an important part of the good life, usually an important contributor to happiness. As a result, the current welfare system hurts the very people that it is intended to help.

The book discussed above, is:
Harvey, Phil, and Lisa Conyers. The Human Cost of Welfare: How the System Hurts the People It’s Supposed to Help. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2016.

Today Is 16th Anniversary of Our Betrayal of Elián González

GonzalezElianSeizedOn2000-04-22.jpg“In this April 22, 2000 file photo, Elian Gonzalez is held in a closet by Donato Dalrymple, one of the two men who rescued the boy from the ocean, right, as government officials search the home of Lazaro Gonzalez, early Saturday morning, April 22, 2000, in Miami. Armed federal agents seized Elian Gonzalez from the home of his Miami relatives before dawn Saturday, firing tear gas into an angry crowd as they left the scene with the weeping 6-year-old boy.” Source of caption and photo: online version of JENNIFER KAY and MATT SEDENSKY. “10 years later, few stirred by Elian Gonzalez saga.” Omaha World-Herald (Thurs., April 22, 2010): 7A. (Note: the online version of the article is dated April 21, 2010 and has the title “10 years after Elian, US players mum or moving on.”)

Today (April 22, 2016) is the 16th anniversary of the day when the Clinton Administration seized a six year old child in order to force him back into the slavery that his mother had died trying to escape.

Haramiyids May Be Missing Link Between Reptiles and Mammals

(p. A17) With technologies like CT scans and 3-D printing, a team of scientists reported on Monday that it had solved a mystery about the family tree of mammals that started with a single tooth a century and a half ago.
The tooth, found in Germany in 1847, was tiny and distinctive in shape — not quite reptile, not quite mammal. More fossils of that kind were found around Europe, but always just single teeth. Scientists named this group of animals haramiyids — Arabic for “trickster.”
The teeth were embedded in rocks as old as 210 million years, an era in which ancestors of the first mammals were evolving.
. . .
What was unclear was whether Haramiyavia was a direct part of the family tree of mammals — that would push the emergence of mammals back to more than 200 million years ago — or an evolutionary branch that split off before common ancestors of mammals emerged, the view of paleontologists who believe that the first mammals evolved 170 million to 160 million years ago.

For the full story, see:
KENNETH CHANG. “Jawbone in Rock May Solve Mammal Family Mystery.” The New York Times (Tues., NOV. 17, 2015): A17.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date NOV. 16, 2015, and has the title “Jawbone in Rock May Clear Up a Mammal Family Mystery.”)

Tech Replaces Labor When Government Raises Labor Costs

(p. A11) In late 2013, Chili’s and Applebee’s announced that they were installing more than 100,000 tableside tablets at their restaurants across the country, allowing customers to order and pay their bill without ever talking to a waiter. The companies were soon followed by Buffalo Wild Wings, Panera Bread, Olive Garden and dozens of others. This means fewer servers covering more tables. Quick-service restaurant chains are also testing touch-screen ordering.
. . .
So why the increased use of technology? The major reason is consumer preference. Research shows that many appreciate the speed, order accuracy, and convenience of touch screens. This is particularly so among millennials who already do so much on smartphones and tablets. I’ve watched people–young and old–waiting in line to use the touch screens while employees stand idle at the counter.
The other reason is costs. While the technology is becoming much cheaper, government mandates have been making labor much more expensive.
In 2015, 14 cities and states approved $15 minimum wages–double the current federal minimum. Additionally, four states, 20 cities and one county now have mandatory paid-sick-leave laws generally requiring a paid week of time off each year per covered employee. And then there’s the Affordable Care Act, which further raises employer costs.

For the full commentary, see:
ANDY PUZDER. “Why Restaurant Automation Is on the Menu; Forget about robot waiters, but technology helps cut government-imposed costs. And consumers like it.” The Wall Street Journal (Fri., March 25, 2016): A11.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date March 24, 2016.)

College Students Have Been Raised to Be Fragile

In the passage quoted below, John Leo interviews John Haidt, a social psychologist at NYU.

(p. A9) Haidt: . . . Children since the 1980s have been raised very differently–protected as fragile. The key psychological idea, which should be mentioned in everything written about this, is Nassim Taleb’s concept of anti-fragility.

Leo: What’s the theory?
Haidt: That children are anti-fragile. Bone is anti-fragile. If you treat it gently, it will get brittle and break. Bone actually needs to get banged around to toughen up. And so do children. I’m not saying they need to be spanked or beaten, but they need to have a lot of unsupervised time, to get in over their heads and get themselves out. And that greatly decreased in the 1980s. Anxiety, fragility and psychological weakness have skyrocketed in the last 15-20 years. So, I think millennials come to college with much thinner skins. And therefore, until that changes, I think we’re going to keep seeing these demands to never hear anything offensive.

Source of the Haidt interview passage quote:
“Notable & Quotable: ‘Anti-Fragility in Children.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., Feb. 23, 2016): A9.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the quotes from the interview with Haidt has the date Feb. 22, 2016, and has the title “Notable & Quotable: Our Weak, Fragile Millennials.”)

For John Leo’s full interview with Jonathan Haidt, see:
http://www.mindingthecampus.org/2016/02/a-conversation-with-jonathan-haidt/

The Taleb book referred to, is:
Taleb, Nassim Nicholas. Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. New York: Random House, 2012.

Government Limits Hospital Competition

(p. A9) When the 124-bed StoneSprings Hospital Center opened in December, it became the first new hospital in Loudoun County, Va., in more than a century. That’s more remarkable than it might at first seem: In the past two decades, Loudoun County, which abuts the Potomac River and includes growing Washington suburbs, has tripled in population. Yet not a single new hospital had opened. Why? One big reason is that StoneSprings had to fight through years of regulatory reviews and court challenges before laying the first brick.
County officials and the Hospital Corporation of America, or HCA, began talking about building a new hospital in 2001. But Virginia is one of the 36 states with a “certificate of need” law, which requires health-care providers to obtain a state license before opening a new facility. Getting a license is supposed to take about nine months, according to the state Health Department. HCA first submitted an application in July 2002 but didn’t win approval for a new facility until early 2004.
Then the plan faced a series of legal challenges from the Inova Health System, an entrenched, multibillion-dollar competitor. Over decades Inova has become the dominant player in the Virginia suburbs.
. . .
It’s not hard to understand why Inova might fight so hard to keep out challengers: There’s a direct correlation between prices and competition. In a paper released in December, economists with Yale, Carnegie Mellon and the London School of Economics evaluated claims data from Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealth. They found that rates were 15.3% higher, on average, in areas with one hospital, compared with those serviced by four or more. In markets with a two-hospital duopoly, prices were 6.4% higher. Where only three hospitals compete they were 4.8% higher.
Research by Chris Koopman of the free-market Mercatus Center suggests that Virginia could have 10,000 more hospital beds and 40 more hospitals offering MRIs if the certificate of need restrictions did not exist. “In many instances, they create a quasi-monopoly,” he says. “In essence, it’s a government guarantee that no one will compete with you, until you get notice and an opportunity to challenge that person’s entry into that market.”

For the full commentary, see:
ERIC BOEHM. “CROSS COUNTRY; For Hospital Chains, Competition Is a Bitter Pill; Building a new medical center in Virginia can take a decade, because state laws favor entrenched players.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Jan. 30, 2016): A9.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Jan. 29, 2016.)

The academic paper mentioned above that relates hospital charges to the number of hospitals in the area, is:
Cooper, Zack, Stuart V. Craig, Martin Gaynor, and John Van Reenen. “The Price Ain’t Right? Hospital Prices and Health Spending on the Privately Insured.” NBER Working Paper # 21815. National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc., 2015.

Chris Koopman’s research, mentioned above, can be found in:
Koopman, Christopher, and Thomas Stratmann. “Certificate-of-Need Laws: Implications for Virginia.” In Mercatus on Policy: Mercatus Center, George Mason University, 2015.

Woody Allen and Gloria Vanderbilt Prefer to Live on in Their Apartments Than to Live on in the Hearts of People

(p. 1) Sometimes Anderson Cooper imagines himself as the Thomas Cromwell to his mother’s Henry VIII, the voice of reason — the tether — to her buoyant impulsiveness. And sometimes he pictures Gloria Vanderbilt, who has been in the public eye since her birth 92 years ago, as an emissary from a distant star, marooned on this planet and trying to make sense of it all.
. . .
(p. 13) . . . , Ms. Vanderbilt is sanguine about her own mortality. She quotes Woody Allen, who was once asked whether he’d like to live on in the hearts of people after his death and replied, “I would prefer to live on in my apartment.”

For the full story, see:
PENELOPE GREEN. “At Home With Gloria Vanderbilt.” The New York Times, SundayStyles (Sun., APRIL 3, 2016): 1, 8 & 13.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date APRIL 2, 2016.)