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Tom Levenson of Balloon Juice just added himself with this post.

Personal income in the US, 1950 vs. 2004 (in constant 2004 dollars):

1950:  $17,076 (male); $6,333 (female)

2004:  $30,513 (male); $17,629 (female)

The Consumer Price Index, 1950-2004

12/1950: 25

12/2004: 190.3

(August 1983=100.2)

Which is to say that consumer prices rose about 7. 6 times over the period in which wages fell short of doubling for men and short of tripling (from a much lower base, obviously) for women.

No, the numbers do not show that. However, this does show that Tom does not know what “constant 2004 dollars” means. If he had ever looked that up he might understand that it means the numbers are adjusted for inflation, i.e. rising consumer prices.

The numbers demonstrate, in fact, the exact opposite of what this ignoramus claims. It really makes me wonder if any of the editors over there know what constant dollars means. Any person familiar with the term couldn’t have missed a mistake this egregious.

UPDATE: Tom was informed of his mistake in the comment section and has since retracted his thesis. Click the link above to see his gracious update.


My old pal Cole wrote a post on immigration. It followed a conversation we had on the topic.

His position is that immigration should be limited to people habituated to self rule, and this can be accomplished by limiting immigration by nationality.

I find his argument strange. The biggest problem I have with idea that a free society can only persevere by abrogating the right to freedom of contract and movement, besides being nonsensical, is that it doesn’t apply to his ideas. Cole does not care for a free society; he would prefer an authoritarian virtuous society.  But still, let’s ignore that and address the question directly.

Cole imagines that history is on his side because he was able to cite several founding fathers who favored limiting immigration for similar reasons. The absurdity of seeking advice about virtue from those monsters aside, the argument is a non sequitur.

Public statements from early politicians does not show that restricting immigration has preserved a free society in the United States.

Regardless of what they said, their policies were at no point enacted.

On the contrary, the history of the United States is one of open borders. Until the 1960s (i.e. for 190 years), the percentage of native-born Americans fell at an accelerating rate. Most of these immigrants did not come from free countries. In the 1860s, millions of people used as farm machinery (hardly habituated for self-rule) were released, with no overseers to ensure they lived virtuously.

The vast majority of the United States is comprised of people, or the descendants thereof, who were absolutely not habituated to freedom. The results he claims we will now experience by returning to the historic policy of the United States were never seen. The Republic remains in tact.

What is vastly more important than the nationality of these people (as if that could capture “virtue”) are the incentives they faced. The incentives that caused people to come to the United States selected those who would benefit from a free, open society. The incentives they faced once they came here were to work or die. With no attention paid, except to ban the Chinese for a period, to nationality we got along just fine. There is no reason to believe this will not happen in the future.

Trying to design a virtuous society by central planning is a fool’s errand. The best hope one could have for a virtuous society would be to create rules of just conduct that each man could apply to himself and others in all situations. Regardless of their public statements to the contrary, this is what the founders ended up doing in deed.

Exit polls from the Sacramento Bee show that young people are supporting the measure, while old people, naturally, are against it.

Not an encouraging sign, as old people vote in large swarms, not unlike locusts.

Reason, however, is reporting that polls in San Diego State University have run out of provisional ballots. This may signal that young people are voting en masse.

From Slate:

The job market for lawyers is terrible, full stop—and that hits young lawyers, without professional track records and in need of training, worst. Though the National Association for Law Placement, an industry nonprofit group, reports that employment for the class of 2009 was 88.3 percent, about a quarter of those jobs were temporary gigs, without the salaries needed by most new lawyers to pay off crushing debts. Another 10 percent were part-time. And thousands of jobs were actually fellowships or grants provided by the new lawyers’ law schools.

H/T Arnold Kling.

A good book if you are deciding whether or not to apply for law school here.

Jason Kuznicki thinks prohibitionists views of marijuana are not reasonable.

You — the guy who smoked a few times in college, or with that one group of friends, or at that one party — you are the average pot smoker. You are not special because you escaped marijuana. You are perfectly typical. That’s what most marijuana use is like. You try it for a while, and then you stop.

Slate’s John Gravois links legalization to the past.

And like today’s movement for legalization, the push to ban marijuana revolved around fears of Mexicans.

Cato’s Juan Carlos Hidalgo has an interesting post on how Prop. 19 could affect the drug policy in Colombia.

Blacks get arrested at significantly higher rates for marijuana possession, despite smoking less than whites. The LA Times says the answer to the problem is to arrest more whites, but Matt Welch is not convinced.

A meth lab was found, of all places, in a Georgetown Univeristy dorm room.

California is scheduled to vote on Proposition 19–which would legalize possession, use, cultivation and sale of marijuana–in just a few days. Marijuana would be illegal under federal law, but as pointed out by the Cato Institute, states have no legal requirement to enforce federal law.

That won’t stop the Obama administration, which has vowed to fight the law. Even the Russians are weighing in. Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca has publicly stated that he will continue to arrest pot smokers if Prop 19 passes, state law be damned.

A good book on the drug war here.

My favorite film about drugs is available here.