Tuesday, June 25, 2013



The Wall Street Journal (June 24, 2013, page A6) had a news article:  "Public Shifts Fast on Same-Sex Union Support".

There is little doubt this is true.  My question is which comes first, the polling or the propaganda?  I don't believe there is any way to validate which is which, the chicken or the egg.  But it is a topic worth considering and deciding for oneself.

Another article, also from the WSJ describes some of the "science" of it:

  • April 3, 2013, 2:52 PM

  • The Science on Same-Sex Marriage

    By Ronald Bailey
    Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases challenging legal restrictions on same-sex marriage. Proponents and opponents sought to cudgel one another with sociological and psychological studies aiming to prove that science is on their side. Well, what does the science say?
    Impact on Traditional Marriage
    Some opponents told the court that same-sex marriage will undermine conventional marriage among heterosexuals. So what do the data say about how legalizing gay marriages affects conventional marriages?
    A 2009 study by University of Sherbrooke economist Mircea Trandafir investigated the effect of the legalization of same-sex marriage in the Netherlands, the first country to recognize same-sex marriage. In 1998, the Dutch created registered partnerships, which are open to all couples, and in 2001 a law allowing full same-sex marriages. His analysis found that same-sex marriage leads to a decline in the different-sex marriage rate, but not in the different-sex union (marriage plus registered partnership) rate. In other words, Dutch heterosexual couples are taking advantage of the “marriage lite” registered partnership alternative.
    At the time of Prof. Trandafir’s study, the chief difference between registered partnerships and marriage was that the former could be dissolved at the civil registry by mutual agreement. In a 2012 West Virginia Law Review article, Mercer School of Law professor Scott Titshaw shows that the political compromises provoked by the initial refusals to extend full marriage rights to same-sex couples result in a proliferation of civil union alternatives. Prof. Titshaw agrees with Prof. Trandafir that different-sex couples increasingly find the new marriage alternatives attractive; in effect, refusing to give full legal recognition to same-sex couples ends up diminishing the status and benefits associated with conventional marriage for everyone. Ironically, conservatives, by opposing the extension of full marriage rights to gay people, have ended up weakening the institution they sought to defend.
    The Divorce Rate
    Sweden legalized same-sex civil unions in 1995 and gay marriage in 2009. A 2011 demographic study from researchers at the University of Stockholm reports that since 1999, after decades of falling, both the marriage rate and the fertility rate have trended upward and the divorce rate is down.
    Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004. In 2003, the divorce rate in Massachusetts was 2.5 per 1,000 residents, and it fell to 1.9 by 2009. The Massachusetts marriage rate jumped 15% in 2004, as many same-sex couples chose to get married, but since has remained stable. Interestingly, the states that permit same-sex marriage tend to have lower divorce rates than those that ban same-sex marriage.
    A 2004 study of registered partnerships in Sweden reported that gay male couples were 50% more likely to divorce than were heterosexual couples. Lesbian couples were nearly three times more likely to divorce than were heterosexual couples.
    But how salient are higher divorce rates among gays and lesbians for making public policy? Consider that a 2008 study in the journal Family Relations by Rice University sociologist Jenifer Bratter found that in the U.S. black-husband/white-wife marriages were twice as likely to end in divorce as white/white couples, and Asian-husband/white-wife couples were 59% more likely. Yet few would argue that interracial marriages should be prohibited because their children are at substantially greater risk of experiencing the social, psychological, and economic disadvantages stemming from a higher interracial divorce rate.
    Having Kids
    Nearly 20% of same-sex households—i.e., 115,000—reported having children, and 84% contained children biologically related to one of the householders. In comparison, 94% of different-sex married couple households with children reported living with their own children. A study issued in February by the Williams Institute, a gay public-policy think tank at the law school of the University of California, Los Angeles, reports that 37% of “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender” (LGBT) adults have had a child at some time in their lives. In addition, the report notes that as many as six million American children and adults have an LGBT parent.
    Opponents and proponents of same-sex marriage spar fiercely over the data about how children fare in same-sex households. On March 21, when the American Academy of Pediatricians issued a statement in favor of same-sex civil marriage, the group also published a technical report that comprehensively looked at the available research on the well-being of children living in same-sex households. The report noted that a big problem with current research is the small sample sizes of many of the studies. An additional problem is that most of the children in these studies have been through divorce before living in a same-sex household. Divorce is well known to have deleterious effects on the well-being of children.
    However, data are reassuring from the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study, which includes 78 lesbian families who used donor sperm to have children and have been followed since the 1980s. A 2012 study compared quality-of-life measurements of adolescents from lesbian families with those from a matched set of adolescents raised in different-sex homes. The researchers reported that “adolescents reared by lesbian mothers from birth do not manifest more adjustment difficulties (e.g., depression, anxiety, and disruptive behaviors) than those reared by heterosexual parents.”
    By the time that their children were age 17, some 55% of the lesbian couples had separated compared to 36% of heterosexual couples in the National Survey of Family Growth. However, children from separated lesbian couples don’t appear to manifest the social and psychological problems often found among children whose heterosexual parents are divorced. The better scores achieved by the children of lesbians, the researchers point out might result from the fact that 75% of the separated lesbian couples shared custody, whereas 65% of divorced heterosexual mothers had sole custody of their children.
    A 2010 study in the periodical Demography by Stanford University sociologist Michael Rosenfeld parsed Census data to compare the school progress of children reared in same-sex, heterosexual, and single parent families. He reported that “children raised by same-sex couples have no fundamental deficits in making normal progress through school.”
    Adoption Outcomes
    A 2012 study by UCLA researchers involving 82 families (60 heterosexual, 15 gay, and 7 lesbian) who adopted high-risk children from foster care found that on average, children in both same-sex and different-sex households “showed significant gains of approximately 10 IQ points in their cognitive development and maintained stable levels of behavior problems that were not clinically significant.”
    The researchers noted that these findings were especially remarkable because the children adopted by same-sex couples were generally higher risk and often of a different ethnicity than those adopted by heterosexual couples. The bottom line is that research on the effects of being reared by same-sex parents on children is certainly not perfect, but the pediatricians academy seems right when it concluded that despite research “imperfections, it is likely that the extensive research efforts that have been carried out would have documented serious and significant damages if they existed.”
    Research suggests one salient difference between same-sex, especially gay male couples, and different-sex couples relates to the acceptability of sex with people outside of the relationship. A 2010 study by University of Toronto sociologist Adam Isaiah Green in the Canadian Journal of Sociology involving 30 same-sex married couples around Toronto found that two-thirds of same-sex spouses (40% female, 60% male) did not believe marriage needed always to be monogamous. In fact, nearly half of male same-sex spouses (47%) had an explicit agreement that allowed for non-monogamy.
    *      *     *
    My reading of the scientific literature as it currently stands is that the legalization of same sex marriage does not have major effects on marriage trends in the wider society. As ever greater numbers of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans have exited the closet, more straight Americans have come to know and accept their homosexual family members, friends, and colleagues. It is this personal data, not the dueling studies published in obscure social science journals, that have now persuaded a majority of Americans in recent polls to support same sex marriage.

    Mr. Bailey is the science correspondent for Reason Magazine.

    Saturday, June 8, 2013

    What Are Core American Values?

    What Are Core American Values?



    President Barack Obama is described in the current White House Website as: “[T]he 44th President of the United States.  His story is the American story — values from the heartland.  The White House Website on May 21, 2009 stated: “…we enlist the power of our most fundamental values.” 


    In his July 27, 2004, keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, the junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, stepped onto on the national stage with: “[T]his year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and our commitments…His [candidate John Kerry’s] values and his record affirm what is best in us…”

    And from his 2012 State of the Union address: “What’s at stake aren’t Democratic values or Republican values, but American values.  And we have to reclaim them.”  Again a year later (in his 2013 State of the Union address) he said, “…we must enlist our values in the fight.

    “That’s the promise of America--the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation. That’s the promise we need to keep,” from the President’s Speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, August 27, 2008.

    Our country has (mostly) rallied under an individual, Barack Obama, who in speeches and writings has emphasized concepts such as “values”, “core values”, “shared values”, the “American Dream”, and “the promise of America” with nary a definition of what they mean.

    However, in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal September 30, 2012, during the presidential campaign, candidate Mitt Romney wrote, "our values have been misapplied – and misunderstood" by opponent President Obama.  But Mr. Romney never defined what the values were which President Obama misunderstood.

    Most organizations, corporations and many people have mission statements built upon values or explicit value statements.  Shouldn’t a country, our country have them?  Clearly politicians do not want to be pinned down to specifics.  But don’t they owe it to us, those who pay their salaries and those for whom they (are supposed to) work?

    But what would those values be?

    It wouldn’t be any stretch of the imagination to admit that today the United States has none; no universal, agreed-upon values.  The operative thought is “agreed-upon”.   Our country may be separated into factions as rarely before, but even so, shouldn’t we consider trying to establish just what our values will be for the 21st century? 

    There seemed to be an implicit set of values for our first 237 years, but modern times may dictate a reconsideration.  What about a national referendum on explicit American values to guide us for the next 237?  As renowned philosopher and American baseball icon Yogi Berra quipped, "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going because you might not get there." Or: “you'll wind up somewhere else“. 

    This seems to be the state of America today: a bitter divide.  The original construct of the political system of the United States was brilliantly architected to encourage such division.  The divided government was supposed to lead to a chaotic legislative process wherein the issues of the day would be thoroughly debated and then thoughtfully compromised and decided.  Shared values then, of a belief in a Creator, a limited government of the people and a “respect to the opinions of mankind” were the thoroughfare which launched the most prosperous, free and moral society in the history of the world.

    But is now a time when that experiment in government, 237 years of age, has become “destructive of these...certain unalienable Rights…[of] Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness?”  (As was written in the Declaration of Independence.)  While that July 4, 1776, paper was about the oppressive reign of King George III of England, many people think it could pertain to American society today.

    Our Declaration of Independence continues, “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government...[that will] seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”  Is that what the so-called Progressives desire?  Is it surreptitiously taking place today?

    The values of the Progressives are quite different from those original values on which the United States was founded, those in which many conservatives still believe.  But is it time for an open and explicit review, debate and vote on the values of our country?

    Tuesday, June 4, 2013


    Beginning modestly in 1992, Steven A. Cohen has presided over one of the most successful hedge funds in history.  Returning around 28% a year since then in his SAC Capital Advisors LP and its brethren and enriching not only its managers (Cohen is a billionaire many times over) but public-employee and private retirement funds and individual rich people and families.  THAT IS UNFAIR, and they must be cheating, some government bureaucrats and political appointees figured.  So naturally not understanding or trusting success in the private sector, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation went after it and its employees with a vengeance.  Nothing has been filed by the Justice Department and a five-year statute of limitations is nearing (July 2013), so the government is pushing intensely to force admissions of guilt and settlements.  While Cohen agreed to one -- $616 million to settle two insider trading cases without admitting any guilt -- it apparently that didn't sit well with Attorney General Eric Holder and perhaps his brother-in-arms and boss President Barack Obama by whom such a settlement likely would be passed.  SAC which has been cooperating recently, made the decision to stop cooperating for some uncertain reason.

    It is at a standstill.  EXCEPT outside investors might withdraw as they have the right, $3 to $4 BILLION, leaving about $2 BILLION in outside capital of SAC's approximate $14 BILLION, of which most belongs to Mr. Cohen.

    Apparently Obama's think is either 1) if you are way more successful than your peers, you must be cheating.  Achievement isn't in his vocabulary or 2) he just wants to go after Cohen.

    Please read yesterday's post of an increasing risk-adverse culture infecting entrepreneurs and workers in the United States.  The U. S. government trying to kill companies because they are successful as with SAC must only greatly contribute to this dangerous trend.

    I am sure it is a coincidence that May 2013 was the worst month for factory output and employment since the recession end four years ago.  The fragile "recovery" is one of the worst ever.

    Monday, June 3, 2013

    Risk-Adverse Culture Infects U. S. Workers, Entrepreneurs

    Today's Wall Street Journal has a front page article that should frighten any American:


    The article offers substantial evidence that the driver of American innovation and prosperity -- the desire of Americans to eschew safe, comfortable employment to take a risk and start a business -- is failing.  Historically much of this occurred when a person lost his or her job and had little other choice but to start a company.  And doing so was straight-forward and possible.

    But now it seems as if that risk-taking is going, going, gone.  Companies and people have become adverse to taking a risk.  The Journal illustrates many reasons.  The rise of outsourcing to other countries and automation have increased productivity, which gives companies greater revenues without more employees.  And fewer companies are being started.  In 1982 new companies were half the number of U. S. businesses; now it's under a third.  Then 20% of employees worked for those new firms, now it's 11%.  Venture capital -- the raw material of startups -- has fallen 10% last year alone, and it has concentrated geographically with nearly 40% of it going to Silicon Valley, the greater San Jose area near San Francisco, against 30% twenty-five years ago. 

    My guess is that there are several reasons, all centered in an anti-business government.  Both in the Democratic Senate and the powerful business-ignorant Progressive Progressive Barack Obama.  Businesses face vastly increased rules and regulations, the micromanagement of their every activity.  And random hugely expensive fishing expeditions of regulators who "think" someone might be breaking their mental laws, thus bringing investigations, subpoenas and sometimes civil lawsuits by government entities leading to balance-sheet breaking class action private lawsuits by tort lawyers looking for a settlement from frightened executives.  (And a tithe to the Democratic Party from the winner.)  Millions and billions of settlements seem standard.  Nothing ever has to be proven.

    Let me repeat: nothing ever has to be proven.  The media piles on along with "plaintiffs" rounded up by bundlers in the thousands or tens of thousands facing one company.  So wary, but smart companies keep piles of cash on hand: nearly 6% of their assets today almost double that of thirty years ago.  And the Federal Reserve System's manipulation to virtually nothing of the interest rate means companies receive little for that cash, versus 5% or 8% thirty years ago.

    Then there's the unknown of Obama's armtwisted, rules-bypassed ObamaCare with tens of thousands of rules, regulations, taxes, fines, punishments, most not written.  Costs completely unknown.  It is a crazy power-mad ignorant grab of healthcare, the largest industry in the country, by Far-left, anti-free enterprise, Progressive zealots.  Plus now nearly 30% of U. S. employees need some government license to work, up from under 5% in the 1950s.

    The success of free enterprise is the chaos of hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of people starting businesses, most of which fail.  It is freedom to fail (or succeed) that drives the entrepreneurs.  It is completely opposite to the pathetic need of Progressive government bureaucrats, politicians and administration appointees to try to understand something foreign to them (business) and minutely control  that which they cannot understood.

    The tried and true formula over centuries: central control does not work; free enterprise works.

    People who are not challenged or frightened from being out of work, will settle, not start companies.  With vast recipients of two year unemployment insurance, food stamps galore (by "credit" card, no less) and hundreds of other "programs" to give the impression of ease (at huge and coerced cost to many fellow Americans, but nevermind that) fewer companies are started, many fewer jobs are created and long-term unemployment is rampant.  The government does no one (except their own reelections) any good by making life too easy. 

    One czar no matter (or especially) how educated cannot know or guess ("plan") correctly about what will happen in the future.  But one of a thousand entrepreneurs -- a Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Sam Walton, Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, Thomas Edison, or Henry Ford --  might survive; out of ten thousand one might strike it big.  It might come in part from luck or being in the right time at the right time, but that's always a big success for every participant in the American economy.

    Toss in an inadequate (becoming more inadequate) union-monopoly educational system and Obama gets his desire: a weak America.