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During the semester, I shall post course material and students will comment on it. Students are also free to comment on any aspect of American politics, either current or historical. There are only two major limitations: no coarse language, and no derogatory comments about people at the Claremont Colleges. This blog is on the open Internet, so post nothing that you would not want a potential employer to see.

The course syllabus is at:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fertility Rates

Continuing today's discussion on fertility rates, here's a visual aid I made with Microsoft Paint and the WorldBank data:

Red - 5.0 births per woman or greater
Orange - 4.0-4.9 births per woman
Yellow - 3.0-3.9 births per woman
Green - 2.1-2.9 births per woman
Blue - 1.5-2.0 births per woman
Purple - 1.4 births per woman or fewer

There appears to be direct correlation between a country's homicide rate and its fertility rate. Nearly every red and orange country has a homicide rate well above the world average. On the other hand, every purple country has a crime rate significantly lower than the worldwide average.

Coming Apart


Coming Apart in Politics, Too
Fertility and demographics -- compare with global data
From The Declaration:
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
From The Ethics: (see Murray 257-258).
Since happiness is an activity of soul in accordance with perfect virtue, we must consider the nature of virtue; for perhaps we shall thus see better the nature of happiness. The true student of politics, too, is thought to have studied virtue above all things; for he wishes to make his fellow citizens good and obedient to the laws. 
From Federalist 51 (see Murray p. 301).
 But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

Tis the Season for a Budget Crisis

In order to prevent another government shutdown, Congress must pass a new budget by midnight tomorrow. Republicans, heady with a mid-term victory, are pushing for a more conservative agenda. The House Budget Committee, chaired by Paul Ryan, is pushing for a decrease in spending which will lead to the "path to prosperity" in the below chart.

Congress proposed $1.1 trillion in spending in a bill that was unveiled on Tuesday. This bill would refund EPA's budget, regulate methane emissions  and give Americans living abroad Obamacare. While most government agencies are refunded there are some large cuts. One of the biggest cuts was Michelle Obama's school nutrition program. Under the new budget school would have the option of whiter or not they wanted to participate in the initiative. Many Senators have complied about the complexity of the bill or admitted to not knowing its contents. Republican Tom Coburn said, “Don’t you think we ought to be able to read it? Shouldn’t we know what we’re voting on?”. If the Republicans cannot gain some democratic support this new budget cannot pass. The most likely outcome is a short term spending bill which will prevent government shut down but solve no long term issues.

Here is Real Clear Politics and Politico's coverage of the story.
Here is the House Budget Comittee's Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Resolution.

Atheism in Politics

Atheism and politics are not the most fitting pair. In fact, religion or the lack of a religion has been used repeatedly to discredit political opponents. In a bid for Austin City Council, Laura Pressley distributed a mailer claiming her opponent, Gregorio Casar was an atheist and thus legally barred from Texas public office. Pressley referenced Article 1, Section 4 of the Texas Constitution that states:
 “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall anyone be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the                 existence of a Supreme Being.” 

Upon further review, there are seven states that still have articles in their constitution saying people who do not believe in God are not eligible to hold public office. This inclusion is a direct violation of Article VI of the United States Constitution that says "no religious test" should ever be required for federal office. Furthermore, in the Supreme Court decision on Torcaso vs. Watkins, states are clearly prohibited from making belief in God a requirement for office. Openly Secular, a coalition of thirty groups, is at the forefront of the movement to rid these state constitutions of openly discriminatory language.

To learn more about the Austin City Council case, here is an article. For more information on Openly Secular's political push, here is a New York Times article.

Steve Bullock Elected Chairman of DGA

Steve Bullock, the governor of Montana since 2013, and a Claremont McKenna College (CMC woo) alumni,  was elected chairman of the Democratic Governor's Association just a few days ago.  He has just succeeded Governor of Vermont, Peter Shumlin. As this election year was not a good year across the charts for the Democrats (lost multiple gubernational elections including Maryland, Illinois, and Massachusetts), Bullock will be responsible for recruit candidates for upcoming elections and grow the reputation of the Democratic party. During his one year term as chairman, Bullock has vowed to, "to recruit candidates committed to those principles and to ensure that we win in red, purple, and blue states from coast to coast." Usually a chairman serves for two years, but Bullock has chosen to limit his term for only one, so that he can focus on his re-election bid in 2016.

HERE is the link to USATODAY's coverage of the story.

UC Tuition Hikes

  Because my sister goes to UC Davis, I have heard a fair amount about the UC tuition hikes over the past few weeks. This is actually a really interesting issue regarding the relationship between the University of California Regents and the California State Government. This Huffington Post article actually quotes a student who said something very similar to my sister: “Essentially it's a debate between Governor Brown and UC president Janet Napolitano over how the UC is going to be funded, and students are really pushing back against it,” Karasek told The Huffington Post. “We're not going to be the bargaining chip.”
  The new policy would raise tuition 5 percent per year for the next five years. This would mean annual tuition rates could go from $12,804 to $15,564. These hikes are necessitated by rising expenses in retirement benefits, settlements, and attempts to increase the UC student body. Governor Jerry Brown opposes the tuition hikes, but does not want to increase UC spending at the state level if he does not have to. 
  I thought this issue was particularly interesting in light of Charles Murray. Here is a businessweek article that argues that the rising cost of college is widening the income gap. As college becomes more expensive, social mobility becomes increasing difficult. Students at the UC’s recognize this and have protested the tuition hikes. 
On December 2nd, Democrats in the Senate introduced SB15 to provide enough money to the UC system. It would appropriate these funds, in part, by eliminating middle class scholarships and raising tuition on non-resident students by 17%. If the bill passes, it will halt the tuition hikes for now. Tuition rates will, however, continue to be a hotly debated topic. 

Here is a breakdown of the UC tuition increase policy.


UVA Hoax and the Future of Victim Advocacy

I am sure that we are all familiar with last month's Rolling Stone Article that gruesomely described a fraternity's attack on a UVA freshman (which now has a disclaimer where the Managing Editor apologizes for its lack of credibility). Jackie claimed that she was discouraged from reporting the incident while the Rolling Stone blamed the administration for passively promoting a culture of sexual assault.

The article exploded with Facebook shares and coverage from various media outlets. After its initial surge, the media and those affiliated with the UVA investigation have had time to dig deeper into the facts behind the victim's accusations.

Cathy Young from Real Clear Politics sources the various holes found in Jackie's story.

The key issue that Young raises is the effect that this will have on victims who become discouraged from sharing their stories and advocates who rally around this cause. The article is undoubtedly the biggest "rape-hoax" that the U.S. has seen and the impact that the story will have on future widely-publicized allegations should be interesting.

I also want to quickly address the media coverage that has surrounded Charles Johnsona recent CMC alum who allegedly released the victim's full name. While I do not want to deny that his actions were immoral, shouldn't the Rolling Stone's keenness to publish the article also be viewed as a similar act of exploitation against UVA and the alleged fraternity for the purpose of inflating publicity?