According to HIS Jane’s, Russia, which as everybody knows is intent on subjugating the world, recently announced that it would cut military expenditure by 25% in 2017, after several years of increase. But Mark Galeotti argues on his blog that it’s exaggerated. Meanwhile, the peace-loving United States will increase military expenditure by a whopping $54 billion, which is about 80% of Russia’s entire defense budget. However, as Vox argues (not entirely convincingly), this is also somewhat exaggerated. Needless to say, John McCain feels cheated, as he doesn’t think that $600 billion/year is enough to set the world on fire. Let’s hope that someone finally finds his pills again, as he’s been even more unhinged than usual lately, which is saying a lot.
Nick Gillespie wrote a good piece about Betsy DeVos, while the controversy about her confirmation was still raging. (As I noted before, the Democrats made a spectacle of their opposition to the confirmation of DeVos, who as Secretary of Education is largely powerless, while the torture-friendly, warmongering Pompeo, as Director of the CIA is definitely not powerless, sailed through the nomination process.) See also this earlier article by the same author, where he quotes Jay Greene on RCTs about school vouchers: “If we found the equivalent of halving the black-white test score gap from RCTs from a new cancer drug, everyone would be jumping for joy – even if the benefits were found only for certain types of cancer.” This is true, but unlike what is the case in education, there are no unions defending cancer.
Meanwhile, the Board of Regents in New York State dropped the requirement to pass a literacy test for people who want to become teachers, on the ground that it was discriminatory toward minorities. The proponents of that decision, including teachers unions, claim that the test was redundant since candidates were already required to have a Bachelor. Indeed, it was so redundant that, according to the New York Times, only 64% of white candidates, 46% of hispanic candidates and 41% of black candidate passed the test on first try in 2014. But make no mistake, the real problem with education in the US is Betsy DeVos, not that public schools that employ illiterate teachers…
Some of the students who prevented Charles Murray from giving a talk at Middlebury College earlier this month, as I briefly discussed a few days ago, wrote a remarkably confused response to a statement signed by more than 75 professors defending freedom of speech on campus. Students who attempt to prevent a speaker from giving a talk should be expelled after receiving due process. (But due process doesn’t mean that there should be any doubt as to the outcome, once it has been established that they have indeed engaged in that kind of tactics.)
On a closely related topic, the Brookings Institution recently published this analysis, which shows that universities where students have attempted to restrict free speech in recent years tend to have students who are significantly more affluent than average. As the authors note, this could just be an instance of Simpson’s paradox, but there are reasons to doubt it. It seems likely that, in addition to being illiberal little shits, the students who engage in that kind of tactics are also spoiled brats.