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Saturday, September 1, 2018

Elite schools are discriminating on race. | What's behind credential inflation? | Trump's trade policy is not strategic. | Liberal donors fund AG environmental work. | Ex-Im is welfare for Boeing.

 
 
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September 1, 2018

Some elite schools are engaging in racial discrimination. Employers want college graduates for many jobs that used to be done by non-grads. Why is that? The trade deal with Mexico shows the Trump trade policy is protectionist not strategic. Progressive donors are funding the environmental work of activist attorneys general. The Export-Import Bank is a still in the business of making sure Boeing has customers.

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Some elite schools are engaging in racial discrimination. Hans von Spakovsky reviews some of the evidence that has come to light from the lawsuit alleging that Harvard discriminates against Asian-American applicants:

Asian-Americans have been only about 19 percent of the freshman class at Harvard, although that number has increased slightly since this lawsuit was filed. But that number has remained consistently the same for years despite the increasing numbers of Asian-American students applying to colleges.

Harvard's own reports showed that Asian-Americans would comprise 43.4 percent of the class based on academics alone, and their share would be 31.4 percent even if you included the university's preferences for athletes and legacy admissions.

Harvard admissions officers keep down the numbers of highly qualified, highly credentialed Asian-Americans by unswervingly giving them low ratings on "personal" factors—the same type of low "character" and "fitness" ratings Harvard used to prevent qualified Jewish students from getting in 100 years ago. [...]

Sadly, Harvard is not alone in what it is doing. Evidence brought to light in the litigation revealed that twice a year, admissions officers from Harvard and 15 other schools, including Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton, and Stanford get together to secretly compare their racial admission numbers to ensure they all have approximately the same racial percentages of admissions.

Another shameful example of this discrimination is M.I.T., my alma mater, which, when I was there, prided itself on being a place where applicants were accepted based on merit regardless of race. But, it seems, M.I.T. began engaging in similar discrimination in the mid-1990s. The number of Asian-American students there has been stalled at about 26 percent since then.

Caltech, M.I.T.'s big rival as a science and technology institution, has always rejected racial preferences and quotas in its admissions—and Asian-Americans now account for 43 percent of its undergraduates.

[Hans von Spakovsky, "Racial Discrimination at Harvard and America's Elite Universities," The Daily Signal, August 31]

 

Why do so many jobs requires a college degree? Today, you need a college degree for a lot of jobs that used to be done by non-graduates. Why is that? Frederick M. Hess and Grant Addison highlight one source of credentialing inflation:

There are multiple factors to blame for degree inflation, but a big one is the unintended consequences of federal anti-discrimination law. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited employers from discriminating against workers or job applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It did, however, allow the use of "professionally developed" ability or employment tests, insofar as they were not "designed, intended or used" to discriminate. In Griggs v. Duke Power Company (1971), the Supreme Court unanimously interpreted this language to mean that when a selection process disproportionately affects minority groups (e.g. has a "disparate impact") employers must show that any requirements are directly job-related and an accurate predictor of job performance.

Importantly, this "disparate impact" standard, which Congress would codify into law in 1991, applies to any test or selection procedure used for employment decisions, including educational requirements. But while it's been scrupulously applied to other, non-educational types of employment tests, it hasn't been tested in the case of the safe-passage papers issued by the college cartel. [...]

For employers, whatever the real costs, college-degree requirements represent an easy, risk-free way to screen applicants while sidestepping legal culpability. And colleges, of course, reap the outsize benefits of acting as the gatekeepers to employment. It's an arrangement which allows campus bureaucrats to pull in six-figure salaries while tuition costs soar ever-higher and schools feast on billions in federal student loans and other taxpayer funds.

The big losers here are workers and would-be workers; after all, only a third of U.S. adults have a four-year degree. Requiring a college degree summarily disqualifies non-credentialed workers with relevant skills and experience from the applicant pool. It bars young people from taking entry-level jobs and building the skills and experience that open up new opportunities. And it holds families and would-be workers hostage, forcing them to devote time and money to collecting degrees, whether or not those credentials actually convey much in the way of relevant skills or knowledge.

[Frederick M. Hess and Grant Addison, "Apple, Google, et al. Strike a Blow Against the College Cartel," American Enterprise Institute, August 29]

 

There is nothing strategic about the Trump trade policy. Doug Holtz-Eakin writes:

For the past 18 months the Trump Administration has provoked international concern by imposing tariffs (import taxes) on steel, aluminum, and goods from China, and by threatening tariffs on imported autos. These actions were taken under the dubious claim of a threat to national security (steel, aluminum, and autos) or without any clear link to changes in trade partners' behavior (China). They produced immediate pain in the United States in the form of higher prices. They damaged relationships and precipitated retaliatory tariffs by long-time allies and trade partners. They created uncertainty about the future of U.S. and global growth, leading firms to pull backon their planned investments.

The administration did not deny this pain. They paid off the farmers (with taxpayer money) to soothe the rural politics and told the remainder of Americans that it was a "good time" to do this because the economy was so strong. But throughout, the American people were told that it was worth it to bear this pain because it would force other countries to agree to better trade agreements that have fewer tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade.

It's a lie.

The proof is the U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement (i.e, the modernized North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA) touted by the president this past week. When Mexico agreed to sign, did the steel and aluminum tariffs go away? No. Did the agreement sweep away non-tariff barriers to trade? No. Instead, it raised existing content rules, created new ones for minimum content of local steel and aluminum, and imposed a $16 minimum wage in the auto industry. If the cars don't comply with these requirements, they cannot be freely traded. In addition, hidden in the agreement (and carefully not publicized) are quotas on car imports — the very antithesis of open trade.

[Douglas Holtz-Eakin, "The Phony Trade Strategy," American Action Forum, August 31]

 

Progressive donors are funding the environmental work of activist attorneys general. It's a case law enforcement for hire, says Christopher C. Horner:

A large cache of public records [...] reveals an elaborate and years-long campaign by major left-leaning donors, green advocacy groups, and activist state AGs to politicize law enforcement in the service of the "progressive" environmental policy agenda.

This campaign has evolved from a failed model run by AGs—with the support of, at least, the Union of Concerned Scientists and some faculty allies—to a complex effort entailing privately funded, in-house activist attorneys, known as Special Assistant AGs and paid by private donors, with an apparently much larger network of attorneys and public relations specialists provided to the cause also by donors.

By this means, state AGs are using law enforcement offices to advance those donors' and environmental advocacy groups' ideologically aligned policy agenda. Those attorneys were recruited, expressly and at least in part, to investigate and prosecute the opponents of those donors' and green groups' political agenda to obtain financial settlements. This is a case of law enforcement for hire.

[Christopher C. Horner, "Law Enforcement for Rent: How Special Interests Fund Climate Policy through State Attorneys General," Competitive Enterprise Institute, August 28]

 

If government doesn't hand out money to large corporations, then who will? Since 2015, the board of the Export-Import Bank has lacked the quorum it needs to approve loans over $10 million. That, report Veronique de Rugy and Justin Leventhal, has produced a very modest shift in how this government-sponsored enterprise distributes its largesse. Despite this shift, they write, Ex-Im is still "Boeing's Bank."

From fiscal year (FY) 2007 through FY 2017, 34 percent of all aid provided by the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank went to just one exporter: Boeing. This makes Boeing the single largest beneficiary of Ex-Im Bank support. For comparison, all small business authorizations combined in this 10-year period totaled only 22 percent of Ex-Im Bank aid.

While the Ex-Im Bank had a quorum, from FY 2007 through FY 2014, small businesses received only 20 percent of support provided by the Ex-Im Bank. Minority-owned businesses and female-owned businesses fared even worse, at 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

While small business allocations have shown significant increases since the Ex-Im Bank's quorum lapsed, allocations to minority-owned and female-owned businesses have seen far more modest improvements. From FY 2015 through FY 2017, the portion of support directed to small businesses increased to 38 percent of all Ex-Im Bank support, the portion directed to minority-owned businesses increased to 6 percent, and female-owned businesses' share grew to 3 percent.

[Veronique de Rugy and Justin Leventhal, "Ex-Im: Still 'Boeing's Bank,'" Mercatus Center, August 31]




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