Political Animal

POWER BLACKOUT….Justene Adamec just suffered

POWER BLACKOUT….Justene Adamec just suffered through a 32-hour (!) blackout and apparently no one knew about it:

Imagine my surprise this morning when the power company indicated we should have called the moment it went out, even though vast areas were out and gradually being reconnected. Apparently, our call during hour 14 was the first they had heard of it.

Huh? After 14 hours of a widespread blackout the power company didn’t even know it was happening?

During the power crisis in the summer of 2000 the Swiss guy who had came to California to run our company complained bitterly, “Dammit, this is not a third world country!” Sometimes I wonder.

POST HOC ERGO PROPTER HOC….2blowhards

POST HOC ERGO PROPTER HOC….2blowhards provides an almost unbeatable example today of lousy sociological analysis:

In the Wall Street Journal of 1/7/03, James Q. Wilson quotes William Galston, a former Clinton Administration official, on what I would call “the basics”:

To avoid poverty, do three things: finish high school, marry before having a child, and produce the child after you are 20 years old. Only 8% of people who do all three will be poor; of those who fail to do them, 79% will be poor.

Would it be so hard to incentivize these three behaviors?….

It’s stuff like this that makes people like me just scream at the entire profession of sociology sometimes (sorry, Kieran). Repeat after me: those three things do not cause poverty. Rather, they are the result of other factors that also cause poverty.

The real story is almost certainly that people who aren’t very bright, have lousy upbringings, and live in crappy neighborhoods tend to be poor. These same factors are also likely to produce teenagers who drop out of high school and have children out of wedlock. If you want to fix the problem, you have to attack the root causes, not the symptoms. And those symptons are both environmental and heritable.

Why do people write stuff like this?