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Data Don’t Speak for Themselves

Data Don’t Speak for Themselves

Check out this graph, data for which were drawn from the USDA and CDC: With a correlation coefficient of about -0.94, these data indicate that for the decade 2000-2009 there was a strong inverse relationship between per capita consumption of beef and the number of suicides by handgun. That is, this correlation seems to imply that the decline in total beef consumed per person over the course of the decade was linked to the number of suicides by handgun, which rose at virtually the same rate. This proves that there's a relationship between an individual's meat consumption and his likelihood to...

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Corruption at Amtrak

Randal O’Toole, Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute and blogger at The Antiplanner, published a policy brief today that details actions by Amtrak that, had they been taken by a private firm, would likely be considered securities fraud. A press release from Amtrak claimed that 99.1% of its operating costs are covered by its revenues, but the release purposely neglected to include depreciation among its costs. In 2018, depreciation was nearly one-fifth of Amtrak’s operating costs, coming in at $807 million. The total for 2019 is expected to be some $50 million more. Of course, Amtrak failing...

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California’s Biometric Surveillance Moratorium

California recently passed Assembly Bill 1215, which prevents the use of biometric surveillance via body cameras worn by police officers. It's nice to see the state not take on more power for once. H/T to my good friend David McNaughtan of the Ledger Dispatch for the write-up.

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Misinformed Voters

This will probably come as no surprise to regular readers of LI, but a 2018 survey on basic political knowledge revealed that the average American voter is not simply uninformed, but is systematically misinformed. The survey asked 24 questions to a sample of 1,000 American voters, 18 of which had dichotomous responses (e.g. True/False). If you were to blindfold a respondent, give them two buttons to signify their responses, and never ask them the questions, they would still be right, on average, about 50% of the time. Compare that to the American voter, who correctly answered only 42.9% of...

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Venezuelan Sanctions are a Bad Idea

The Trump administration recently enacted sanctions against Venezuela, citing human rights abuses among its justifications. But if violations of human rights are a legitimate concern for the administration, then pursuing economic sanctions is bad policy. Research shows that such sanctions not only fail to achieve their stated goals seventy to eighty percent of the time, but also result in greater poverty and widespread malnutrition and starvation. If preserving and improving the lives of the oppressed is an outcome for which we're shooting, well, this ain't it, chief. Instead, we should...

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Women’s Soccer is a Financial Loser

Women’s Soccer is a Financial Loser

On July 29, 2019, U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro released an open letter and fact sheet addressed to “Friends, Colleagues and Supporters of U.S. Soccer.” Though he spends much of the letter emphasizing the organization’s commitment to “equal pay for equal work,” Mr. Cordeiro indicates that the disparity in pay between the U.S. Men’s National Team (MNT) and U.S. Women’s National Team (WNT) is not what it seems at first blush. Drawing on financial data from 2009 to 2019, “extensive analysis” reveals that from 2010 through 2018, MNT players were paid $26.4 million total, excluding FIFA...

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Minding the (Wage) Gap

April has come and gone, and, with it, the highly publicized Equal Pay Day.  It’s the day of the year on which women are said to have finally reached pay parity with men from the previous year; women working full-time, it turns out, only earn 77%, 78%, or 79% of what full-time male workers earn. But there’s a problem with those figures, no matter which you choose: they account for exactly one confounding factor. One. In economics, there’s this great, smart-sounding, Latin phrase, ceteris paribus, which means “with other conditions remaining the same.” It’s a quick way of communicating the...

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Subjective Success and Deceptive Statistics

Subjective Success and Deceptive Statistics

One of my best friends--a mother of three--loves to talk about her children, and my wife and I love to hear about them.  They're three of the most adorable little girls you could ever hope to meet, and they're constantly saying or doing or being in some way cute and precocious.  My friend could not be more proud of them. A full-time mother, she also works part time in the evening to help her husband (also my friend) meet the financial needs of their family.  You can imagine the logistics:  he works during the day while she stays home with the girls.  When he gets home, they get some time...

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