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27Aug/15Off

Has Japan “Aged Out of Its Economic Miracle”?

Via Instapundit comes a link to this interesting dilation on the former economic tiger known as Japan.

Writing at IEEE Spectrum, Vaclav Smil recaps Japan's post-war rise to global wealth and runs through that country's long decline, which has culminated in a "Lost Decade" of economic lassitude that is now entering its 25th year. Smil concludes:

In the long run the fortunes of nations are determined by population trends. Japan is not only the world’s fastest-aging major economy (already every fourth person is older than 65, and by 2050 that share will be nearly 40 percent), its population is also declining. Today’s 127 million will shrink to 97 million by 2050, and forecasts show shortages of the young labor force needed in construction and health care. Who will maintain Japan’s extensive and admirably efficient transportation infrastructures? Who will take care of millions of old people? By 2050 people above the age of 80 will outnumber the children.

Read the whole thing.

There's a lot to unpack here but let's begin by noting that age—and population—ain't nothing but a number. Seriously.

There are plenty of countries with younger-than-average populations that perform poorly and there are relatively elderly places where things are going just fine. A growing population often helps to increase the size and scope of economic activity but nothing is written in stone, either. We might also ask why Japan's population is declining and aging so rapidly, which is not the simply the predictable result of richer countries having fewer babies. Japan's notorious xenophobia and unwillingness to open its culture and economy—not to mention its citizenship—to newcomers play a leading role. Indeed, despite the open hostility to immigrants displayed by many of the GOP's presidential candidates, immigrants are the major driver of population growth for the U.S.

Which leads also to a related area of isolationism: Japan's political and economic institutions. Japan's economic went flat in the start of the 1990s, when the ink was still wet on all the books pronouncing its inherently superior production and managemet methods. Since then, the Japanese government has pursued a virtually uninterrupted policy of zombification of all sorts of market and financial businesses, with the predictable result that the economy can never touch bottom and push back up to the sky.

There is no question that Japan's population is aging and acting strangely in its dotage. I highly recommend Jonathan Last's What to Expect When No One's Expecting, which fully documents global declines in population and attendant battiness. For instance, he charts the decline of Ogama, Japan, whose eight remaining residents sold the village to a company that turned it into a landfill. Then there's the parasaito shinguru, or “parasite single." These are "college-educated, working women who live with their parents so they can spend more of their wages on clothes and other amenities." Such weirdness is not confined to Japan of course, but it's the richest country that is facing the starkest reversal in raw numbers and as such may well be the canary in the coal mine for the rest of the planet.

But is demography destiny? Please. Persistently stupid public policy, from restrictionist immigration policy to failed fiscal and monetary policy are far more operative in Japan's long, slow, sideways move to nowheresville. Which, it's worth pointing out, is still pretty great in terms of living standards.

Related: "Turning Japanese: Is the US Creating its Own Lost Decade?"

27Aug/15Off

Seattle-Area Restaurant Worker Numbers Are Not Actually Going Down

Those very worried about the month-by-month apparent empirics of the results of minimum wage hikes have had their eyes on Seattle lately. Seattle has already seen a minimum wage hike to $11, and the legal wage will be increasing by $2 increments per year, on a slower $1 per year schedule for small employers than for large ones, ending in 2020 with a $15.75 for small employers. (There is an 85 percent of that minimum leeway for workers under 16, and certain special categories can get exceptions but going through some city hoops, including "learners, apprentices, messengers and workers with a disability.")

I've been noting prominent contributions to the controversy as they go along, here and here. The most recent had Mark J. Perry of the American Enterprise Institute using data from the Seattle MSA—"metropolitan statistical area," far larger than metro Seattle itself—to detect an enormous and unprecedented areawide fall in restaurant employment in the first half of 2015.

Now newer numbers are out, as they always shall be, and that dip is now over.

"Invictus" on the website of Barry Ritholz, a constant warrior on the "minimum wage doesn't cost jobs" tip, finds that the newest monthly data from the St. Louis Federal Reserve show the highest monthly gain in recorded history from that dataset in food and beverage services jobs in that MSA, with 3,700 added in the past two months.

The same caveats that the "minimum wages couldn't possibly cost jobs" crowd applied to Perry's initial warning about apparent job losses still applies: these are Seattle MSA numbers, not just Seattle numbers, so they don't settle anything about the minimum wage affected area in and of itself.

And month to month fluctuations in one area are not sufficient empirical evidence to make a case about an issue as huge as the empirics of the minimum wage.

"Invictus" himself says exactly as much: "I’ll interrupt myself here to again remind folks that we shouldn’t really be looking at this series in the first place." Indeed, I regret paying so much attention to what people have been saying about them myself.

Most importantly, there's a subtle but vital difference between saying a higher minimum wage "does not lead after passage to an overall smaller employment number in a given area" and saying a higher minimum wage "does not cause any low-skilled person to not get a job they otherwise would have had."

The former can be true even while the latter is not. And that might not matter if you just like advocating higher minimum wages because it makes you feel better that some people with jobs are getting slightly higher incomes.

But it sure matters to the low-skilled person not getting the entry-level job that could change their life.

Some bigger picture thoughts on the empirics of the minimum wage.

27Aug/15Off

Donald Trump’s Nativist Campaign is Rallying Racist Supporters

To the extent that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is about any actual issue, it is about opposition to immigration. Trump has, among other things, proposed deporting 11 million unauthorized immigrants currently in the United States, expressed support for reducing legal immigration levels, jeered at immigrant “anchor babies,” and called for an end to birthright citizenship, even though it is constitutionally required.

Trump’s slogan, the catchall phrase that binds his scattershot campaign together, is “Make This Country Great Again.” In combination with his immigration platform, the clear implication of the slogan is that America has, over the years, become a not great place, and immigrants are at least one reason—perhaps the primary reason—why.

Nativism is at the core of Donald Trump’s campaign; it is one of the keys to his appeal. And amongst his supporters and admirers, that aggressive nativism often shades into outright racism.

You can find these expressions of racism in quotes from Trump’s supporters gathered by reporters following the candidate on the trail.

Here, for example, is what one 53-year-old Trump supporter from Alabama recently told The New York Times he hoped the candidate would say at a rally:

“Hopefully, he’s going to sit there and say, ‘When I become elected president, what we’re going to do is we’re going to make the border a vacation spot, it’s going to cost you $25 for a permit, and then you get $50 for every confirmed kill,’ ” said Jim Sherota, 53, who works for a landscaping company. “That’d be one nice thing.” 

This is, perhaps, not a statement that is meant to be taken entirely literally in its implied threat of violence. But given its proximity to a Trump rally, and the aggressive anti-immigrant sentiment in Trump’s campaign, it seems fair to assume that it is meant to be taken seriously as a statement of undisguised hostility toward immigrants in the U.S.

In a separate indident, however, Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric was channeled into violence: In Boston last week, two brothers were arrested last week for urinating on and beating a homeless Mexican immigrant. According to the police report, one brother said that not only that they had targeted their victim because he was an illegal immigrant, but that “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.”

Another reporter who covered Trump’s Alabama rally, the Post’s Dave Weigel (formerly of Reason) also shared this quote gathered from an interview with a white farmer in Alabama:

“You probably think we’re prejudiced, but my whole life we had niggers work for us in the field. And they were niggers. My daddy called them niggers. I’m not ignorant. That’s just the way I was raised. There’s black people and there’s niggers. You live around here, you know the difference.”

Yes, one would probably think that the speaker of this quote is prejudiced.

Meanwhile, a video from Trump’s Alabama rally appears—it is somewhat difficult to hear—to capture one of the attendees screaming “White power!”

Also at that Alabama rally, Weigel and another Washington Post reporter spoke to a 60-year-old woman visiting from California. Here’s how she described her interest in Trump’s candidacy:

“There is no more California,” Burns said. “It’s now international, lawless territory. Everything is up for grabs. Illegal aliens are murdering people there. People are being raped. Trump isn’t lying about anything — the rest of the country just hasn’t found out yet.” 

This is perhaps not a strictly, literally racist sentiment, but it is predicated on the same unfounded terror at the spread of immigrant crime found in Trump’s own generalized fearmongering about the issue, and in specific ehoes the candidate’s loud insistence that illegal immigrants from Mexico are criminals and rapists. In doing so, it reflects the essence of Trump’s nativist sales pitch: America is not great, and the reason it is not great is because illegal immigrants are ruining it.

You can see this sentiment expressed more directly in a video showing an interaction between Univision reporter Jorge Ramos, who was booted from a Trump campaign event after forcefully pressing him on immigration. From the podium, Trump dismissed Ramos, saying, “Sit down, you weren’t called. Go back to Univision.”

Outside, a Trump supporter confronted Ramos even more bluntly. “It’s not about you,” he says to Ramos. “Get out of my country. Get out.” He's also following Trump's lead, using language that, like Trump's "Go back to Univision" remark, is focused on ejecting Ramos. Watch:

It is true, of course, that all of these statements, several of which were previously gathered by Raw Story, come from individuals of no particular power or influence. It is hard to say precisely how representative they are of anything or anyone beyond themselves. They are anecdotes, not data.

But what they illustrate is Trump’s obvious appeal to individuals with racist sympathies. That same appeal is on display in the multiple statements in favor of Trump by white nationalist leaders.

Former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, for example, recently followed a radio-show rant about, as CNN describes it, “Jewish domination of the media,” with kind words for Trump, saying that, amongst the GOP field, the businessman is “the best of the lot.” In specific, Duke praised Trump’s immigration proposals.

Duke isn’t the only one. As Buzzfeed reports, multiple white nationalist leaders and writers have expressed support or admiration for Trump and his policies, with many focusing on his approach to immigration.

Trump said yesterday (as he has also said in the past) that he doesn’t want Duke’s endorsement, and it is obviously true that just because a political figure has attracted support from racists does not make that figure a racist himself.

Yet what is also clear is that Trump is running a campaign that, largely as a result of its hostility to immigrants, is attractive to individuals who openly harbor feelings of racial animosity. His platform and his policies, to the extent that they can be determined, have had the effect of rallying racists around his candidacy, and serve as an appeal to the racist mind.

27Aug/15Off

Jordan’s Queen: Modern Muslims Are “Not Doing Enough” To Beat ISIS

It’s so refreshing to see people from the Muslim world take courageous stands for civilization amid the growing threat of the ISIS caliphate. And the royal family of Jordan doesn’t

27Aug/15Off

Hillary Clinton Says You Are A Terrorist if You Want to Defund Planned Parenthood

So, have the video exposes of Planned Parenthood stirred your disgust and caused you to want to work to have our various governments defund Planned Parenthood? Well, Hillary says YOU

27Aug/15Off

Incredible Hubble Space Telescope Image: The Twin Jet Nebula

Here's a brand new image from the Hubble Space Telescope of an amazing cosmic butterfly; the jets of multicolored material you see here are being ejected from the star system at more than one million kilometers per hour.

The cosmic butterfly pictured in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image goes ...

27Aug/15Off

You’ll Never Believe Where Hillary Was When She Did Her Gun-Grabbing Ghoul Routine After The Roanoke Murders

These are the kinds of mistakes a winning campaign manages to avoid. But Hillary Clinton isn’t running a winning campaign. You probably know that before the bodies of Alison Parker

27Aug/15Off

Center for Medical Progress Calls Planned Parenthood-Commissioned Analysis of Videos ‘Complete Failure’

The Center for Medical Progress has condemned a Planned Parenthood-commissioned analysis which claims that the undercover videos released by the organization did not “present a complete or accurate record of the events,” according to the New York Times.

“Planned Parenthood’s desperate, 11th-hour attempt to pay their hand-picked ‘experts’ to distract from the crimes documented on video is a complete failure,” said  David Daleiden, the Center for Medical Progress’ project lead for its Human Capital series, in a statement.

According to the Times, Planned Parenthood hired a research firm to examine the videos and turned their findings over to congressional investigators.

“A thorough review of these videos in consultation with qualified experts found that they do not present a complete or accurate record of the events they purport to depict,” the Times reports that an analysis by FusionGPS found.

According to the New York Times, the analysis found “substantive omissions” in both the short clips and the full videos that the Center for Medical Progress has released, and that “the manipulation of the videos” means that “they have no evidentiary value in a legal context and cannot be relied upon for any official inquiries.”

“The absence of bathroom breaks and waiting periods between meetings does not change the hours of dialogue with top-level Planned Parenthood executives eager to manipulate abortion procedures to get high-quality baby parts for financially profitable sale,” Daleiden said.

The analysis specifically denies the legitimacy of a clip in the videos that pro-lifers found particularly egregious, an instance where one clinic staffer says “it’s a baby,” as they dissect fetal remains, and another staffer replies “another boy.”

“While even Planned Parenthood’s ‘experts’ found ‘no evidence of audio manipulation’ in the recordings, it is telling that Planned Parenthood is trying so hard to pretend that their staff did not refer to a dismembered fetus as ‘a baby’ and ‘another boy,’” responded Daleiden in the statement.

He added:

“Planned Parenthood’s abortion providers are far more honest about the brutal reality of their work than the paid political consultants at the national office. If Planned Parenthood really wants to disprove the now-overwhelming body of evidence that their affiliates traffick in baby body parts, they should release their fetal tissue contracts with the for-profit company StemExpress for law enforcement, Congress, and all the world to see.”

The Center for Medical Progress has released videos of senior executives at Planned Parenthood discussing the sale of fetal organs at the organization’s affiliates.

In a series of statements, Planned Parenthood spokespersons have called the videos “heavily edited,” and denied illegal conduct.

Profiting from transactions involving human organs, including fetal human organs, is a felony in the United States.

According to their website, Fusion GPS is a “provides premium research, strategic intelligence, and due diligence services to corporations, law firms, and investors worldwide.”

The post Center for Medical Progress Calls Planned Parenthood-Commissioned Analysis of Videos ‘Complete Failure’ appeared first on The Daily Signal.

27Aug/15Off

Al Sharpton Gets Demoted From MSNBC’s Daily Lineup, Puts On Best Face Possible

With nearly nonexistent ratings and paper-thin credibility, MSNBC is shaking up its lineup in search of someone people are willing to watch. Unfortunately for Al Sharpton, that ain’t him. As

27Aug/15Off

POLL: Americans Say the One Word That Best Describes Hillary Clinton is ‘Liar’

So, the new Quinnipiac University poll is out and it shows that Donald Trump is still soaring–and would even beat Joe Biden–Hillary Clinton is still falling, and apparently people think

27Aug/15Off

Carly Fiorina Takes Rand Paul’s Place in Republican Top 10

Donald Trump continues to dominate the 2016 GOP presidential field in terms of mass appeal, earning 28 percent support from Republican and Republican-leaning voters in a new Quinnipiac University National Poll. Coming in second, with 12 percent, is newly top-tier candidate Ben Carson, while Jeb Bush and Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Marco Rubio (Florida) rounded out the top five with 7 percent support each. 

Notably, Trump also tops the hell-no list for conservative voters—26 percent say they would "definitely not" vote for him—while Carson has the least definitely-nots of any GOP candidate (5 percent). Meanwhile Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was anathema to 14 percent of the conservative crowd, despite polling low in the support category (2 percent). 

The overall makeup of the Republican top 10 has changed little since the stratified Fox News debate August 6, with one exception. Carly Fiorina—widely agreed to have "won" Fox's junior-varsity presidential debate—has found her way from the also-running crowd to the A-list, while Paul—who received the least talk time of any of the top candidates during the first debate—has slipped to 11th place in this new poll. Fiorina received 5 percent support, as did Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee also fell below Fiorina and Kasich in the new poll. Here are the complete GOP-roster results:

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton still leads, with support from 45 percent of Democrat and Democrat-leaning voters—though this is down from 55 percent in July. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders now claims 22 percent popularity among liberals, with Vice President Joe Biden close behind him at 18 percent. Clinton's support was markedly higher among women (50 percent versus 38 percent), while Sanders supporters lean more male (29 percent versus 16 percent).

Martin O'Malley and Jim Webb each scored one percent support from Democratic respondents. Eleven percent said they're undecided, which was the same percentage of undecided GOP respondents. 

When asked if they had to vote today between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, Clinton came out on top—but just barely—with 42 percent of the vote, compared to Bush's 40 percent. Ten percent said they wouldn't vote.

Clinton fared worst among older adults in this hypothetical hell of an election, with only 39 percent of those 65 and older going for her (compared to 48 percent for Bush). Boomers and Gen X'ers split pretty evently among the two candidates, but millennials were much more likely to go for Clinton (49 percent versus 30 percent). Blacks were also strongly pro-Clinton—only 3 percent of black respondents said they would vote for Bush. Fifty-five percent of Hispanic respondents said they would vote for Clinton, versus 35 percent for Bush. 

Clinton also came out on top in hypothetical runs against Trump and Rubio. Biden and Sanders also won in imaginary match-ups against Trump, Rubio, and Bush. 

27Aug/15Off

Does This School’s Transgender Bathroom Policy Violate Student Privacy?

A Missouri school district is under fire for allowing students to use restrooms and locker rooms designated for the opposite sex.

Alliance Defending Freedom has sent a letter to the Hillsboro R-3 School District asking the board of education to change its recent decision. 

“Protecting students from inappropriate exposure to the opposite sex is not only perfectly legal, it’s a school district’s duty,” ADF legal counsel Matt Sharp said in a statement. “Letting boys into girls’ locker rooms and restrooms is an invasion of privacy and a threat to student safety.”

Opponents of policies allowing students to use facilities designated for the opposite gender say that such policies violate student privacy and can potentially endanger students.

“Instead of protecting children, the school district is needlessly creating an environment that invites violations of student privacy,” said ADF senior legal counsel Jeremy Tedesco in the statement. “The first duty of school district officials is to protect the children who attend school. The ADF model policy demonstrates that schools can accommodate the desires of a small number of students without compromising the rights of other children and their parents.”

Supporters of policies allowing students to use bathrooms and locker rooms designated for the opposite sex argue that it creates an inclusive environment for transgender students.

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality:

Too often, school officials themselves single out these youth by refusing to respect their gender identity and even punishing them for expressing that identity. For example, 59 percent of trans students have been denied access to restrooms consistent with their gender identity. Rather than focusing on their education, many students struggle for the ability to come to school and be themselves without being punished for wearing clothes or using facilities consistent with who they are.

In the letter to school district officials, Sharp and Tedesco, along with other signatories, write that “We seek to reaffirm the commonsense proposition that compelling students to share restrooms and locker rooms with members of the opposite sex violates their right to bodily privacy and would not only lead to potential legal liability for the School District and its employees, but would also violate students’ and parents’ fundamental rights.”

They argue that “no federal law requires public schools to open sex-specific restrooms, showers, and changing areas to opposite-sex students,” and “providing such access violates the fundamental rights of the vast majority of students and parents.”

The writers propose an alternative policy, which they argue will “accommodate students with unique privacy needs, including transgender students, while also protecting other students’ privacy and free exercise rights, and parents’ right to educate their children.”

They promise that their proposed policy “serves to better insulate your Districts from legal liability,” and that if the policy is legally challenged, they will “review the facts and, if appropriate, offer to defend your District free of charge.”

A Hillsboro school district official did not immediately return a request for comment.

The post Does This School’s Transgender Bathroom Policy Violate Student Privacy? appeared first on The Daily Signal.

27Aug/15Off

Georgia High School Scolded for Pregame Prayers and Hymns. Here’s How Fans Responded…

A high school in Georgia was told they couldn’t publicly pray before a football game.  What happened next…really shouldn’t surprise you at all. This past Friday was the opening game

27Aug/15Off

Man Apprehends Sex Assault Suspect On Train Platform In Brooklyn

Many people didn’t notice, or possible even care, that a 40-year old woman was being sexually assaulted on a train platform. Thankfully, Maurice Osborne was not one of those people… “As

27Aug/15Off

Twins Have Another Thing Coming Thinking Since They Can’t See Mom, She Can’t See Them…

You’re never too young to learn that Big Brother is always watching. Seriously though, this is totes adorbs as the kids say… Blogger and YouTuber, Judy Travis, was using her

27Aug/15Off

[VIDEO] Mark Levin RIPS into Univision’s Trump-heckler: Jorge Ramos is a FANATIC, A BALKANIZER, and a RACIALIST!

Mark Levin pulled no punches when he goes off on Jorge Ramos. Looks like his ‘proud diversity’ doesn’t hold much water with Trump or anyone at Fox News. I am