Consumer prices rose 0.2% in February at both the headline and core levels, as energy prices made a bit of a comeback. On a year-over-year basis, the CPI is still down -0.1% overall, but is up 1.7% less food and energy.
Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales rose to a moderate 2.8% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 2.7%.
The FHFA House Price Index rose a lower-than-expected 0.3% in January. On a year-over-year basis, the index is up 5.1%.
The Markit PMI manufacturing index flash for March rose 0.9 points from the February final to 55.3.
New home sales picked up sharply in February to a 539,000 annual rate from January’s 481,000. The median price still fell a sharp 4.8% to $275,500, despite a tightening of supply from 5.1 months to 4.7 months.
The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index fell sharply from 0 to -8 in March, as both new orders and backlogs declined.
The Atlanta Fed reports that the year-ahead inflation expectations of businesses were 1.7% in March.
Existing home sales rose 1.2% in February to a still-lackluster 4.88 million annual pace, though the year-on-year rise of 4.7% shows some strength.
The Chicago Fed National Activity index was -0.11 in February, while the January reading has been revised down to -0.10 from 0.13. The 3-month average is now negative, at -0.08.
Jonathan Adler points to a NY Times piece by Judith Shulevitz about the “infantilizing” of college students, enabled, of course, by the administrations of various colleges and universities. Shulevitz:
Safe spaces are an expression of the conviction, increasingly prevalent among college students, that their schools should keep them from being “bombarded” by discomfiting or distressing viewpoints. Think of the safe space as the live-action version of the better-known trigger warning, a notice put on top of a syllabus or an assigned reading to alert students to the presence of potentially disturbing material. . . . the notion that ticklish conversations must be scrubbed clean of controversy has a way of leaking out and spreading. Once you designate some spaces as safe, you imply that the rest are unsafe. It follows that they should be made safer. . . . while keeping college-level discussions “safe” may feel good to the hypersensitive, it’s bad for them and for everyone else. People ought to go to college to sharpen their wits and broaden their field of vision. Shield them from unfamiliar ideas, and they’ll never learn the discipline of seeing the world as other people see it. They’ll be unprepared for the social and intellectual headwinds that will hit them as soon as they step off the campuses whose climates they have so carefully controlled. What will they do when they hear opinions they’ve learned to shrink from? If they want to change the world, how will they learn to persuade people to join them?
We’ve talked about this in the past – this escape from reality which, in many cases, is simply an extension of many students life to that point. That has been enabled most times by parents who see their role as protectors rather than teachers. And they hand that responsibility off to college administrations who seem eager to continue the escape from reality.
What that has begotten is, ironically, a huge dollop of intolerance. These children don’t feels safe unless everyone “conforms” to a comfortable set of norms and beliefs. Those norms and beliefs are never to be challenged or argued because somewhere along the line they were graced with a pseudo right to never be offended or “uncomfortable” about anything.
Wow … a completely different world than I grew up in.
Addler adds these comments that I think are both appropriate and pertinant:
1) It’s not entirely clear how prevalent this phenomenon is. The demand for insulating students from potentially upsetting ideas does, for the moment, appears to come from a vocal minority and does not appear to have widespread support. Yet isn’t that always how these sorts of things start? And isn’t it well established that a vocal and highly motivated minority interest group can have an outsized influence on institutional policies?
2) Efforts to insulate students from challenging and even potentially offensive ideas cuts them off from the world and compromises much of the value of a traditional “liberal” education. It’s like some want to turn universities into the secular equivalents of Ave Maria Town.
3) One of the benefits of having been right-of-center in college was that my political and philosophical views were constantly challenged. There was no “safe space” — and I was better for it. I often felt that I received a better education than many of my peers precisely because I was not able to hold unchallenged assumptions or adopt unquestioned premises.
Point number one is important. We know it goes on, you just have to read Tanya Cohen’s piece to understand that was incubated somewhere and if you bother looking her up, she has connected with a good number of people who agree with her screed on “hate speech”. That sort of intolerance to other ideas came from somewhere. But as Addler points out, she’s hardly a majority, but certainly a part of a vocal minority. Here’s the difference though – while we may point and laugh at her premise, in the society we prefer, she has every right to express her absurd opinion. However, if she were in charge, we’d be in jail … or worse.
Point two is what it is all about. How does one become educated when any “offensive ideas” are excluded from the learning. How does one compare and contrast? How does one learn to reason? Well, “one” doesn’t. They learn only what they’re comfortable with and of course, that will be whatever plays well to their biases and preconceptions. Then they step out into the real world and reality flattens them like a freight train. Naturally they’re totally unprepared for the event.
Finally, point three makes the case for ignoring this “vocal minority” and welcoming dissenting and potentially offensive and upsetting ideas on campus. It goes back to the two questions I asked in the paragraph above. The marketplace of ideas is a powerful place and it winnows away ideas and premises that can’t stand the light of true scrutiny. But if you’re never exposed to it, you have no way to test your premise or challenge your assumptions. And if that is the case at a college or university, you’re not being educated, you’re being indoctrinated.
You’ll find the podcast on the page previously set aside for it. This week, when the going got tough, Hillary got weird, and Iowa Republicans revealed themselves as communists, though, really, we already knew that.
Yesterday, I pointed to an Orwellian piece that was simply a treatise on totalitarianism dressed up for the Freedom Ball.
Here’s another example in our world today as explained by an eminent scientist as he addresses the junk science that masquerades as “climate change”:
Dr. Christopher Essex, professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Western Ontario, told Breitbart Executive Chairman, Stephen K. Bannon, that political activists, who undermine scientists for not embracing climate change theology, have crossed a line by making direct political attacks on regular scientists, like Willie Soon.
Appearing on Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM, Patriot radio, channel 125, Essex explained that on Sunday he and a group of scientists published a paper which methodically critiqued the Royal Society’s position on climate change, emphasizing areas that were “weak, limited, and flimsy.”
Essex said that there seems to be a cultural shift and that scientific arguments have deteriorated. Individuals in society have moved away from “civilized dialogues in which people have a collegial attitude and work together to try to find the truth.” Essex characterized the pro-climate change philosophy as a form of sophistry, catering to popular opinion rather than being concerned with the truth.
The climate change proponents, according to Dr. Essex, are using an old form of Eristic argument–Eris was ancient goddess of chaos. “They are using this very old, but high profile tactic, in the modern world, under the heading or rediscovered by Saul Alinsky’s work,” he contends.
What drew Essex to science was that “it is the ultimate expression of democracy. It gives you the freedom to think as an individual person,” he explained. The Royal Society “has now taken kind of an authoritarian approach, rather than a authoritative approach… and are now taking an official position on climate change,” the mathematician states. Essex doesn’t believe that they are considering the science.
“In previous generations the scientific organizations knew that they should not do that. The rough and tumble of scientific debate and dialogue should not be suppressed or overcome by some official position on the part of these organizations,” he insisted.
“When they started to write letters from congress to employers telling them that they should expose the people that they don’ like, I think that they crossed a line. Now it’s necessary for us to respond in a way that we as scientists know how to respond, that is scientifically. And that is what we did,” Essex said.
Note his observation of what science used to be and what it is now. And like the totalitarian/authoritarian left, it will brook no dissent. Instead of welcoming dissent and different theories, it tries to shut down the other side, making personal attacks and calling for punitive action if their opinion or theory doesn’t conform to the approved “consensus”.
What that does of course, is strip any authority from science as it becomes obvious it is nothing but another political tool. Science in the service of authoritarian ideology.
Orwell would be amazed today … or maybe not. I love the line “Orwell wrote “1984” as a warning, not a guide book”. All too much anymore, it seems more and more of a guide book for a certain segment of the political spectrum.
Initial weekly jobless claims 1,000 to 291,000. The 4-week average rose 2,250 to 304,750. Continuing claims fell 11,000 to 2.417 million.
The nation’s current account gap widened sharply by $-14 billion in the 4th quarter, to $-113.5 billion. Relative to GDP, the current account deficit rose 0.4% to 2.6%.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.9 points to 44.2 in the latest week.
The general business conditions index of the Philadelphia Fed Survey was little changed in March, down -0.2 points to 5.0.
The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators in February rose 0.2%, with the yield spread as the biggest positive indicator.
The Fed’s balance sheet rose $6.6 billion last week, with total assets of $4.496 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $10.7 billion.
The Fed reports that M2 money supply fell by $-28.1 billion in the latest week.
Someone named Tanya Cohen penned a paragraph that, if you understand the difference between a right and a privilege, will make you cringe in horror:
One of the most admirable things about Europe is that most (if not all) of the right-wing rhetoric that you hear in the US is explicitly against the law there. For example, attempting to link Islam with terrorism, saying that gay marriage isn’t really marriage, or saying that trans women aren’t really women would get you charged with discrimination and/or incitement to hatred. Numerous European public figures have been charged with hate crimes for implying that large-scale immigration is connected to higher crime. In fact, a politician in Sweden was prosecuted for hate crimes for posting statistics about immigrant crime on Facebook. Assaults on the human dignity of Muslims are simply not tolerated in Europe, and Europe cracks down hard on any attempts to incite hatred against Muslims. In a notable example, a woman in Austria was convicted of a hate crime for suggesting that the Islamic Prophet Muhammed was a pedophile. Recently, a man in Sweden was charged with incitement to ethnic hatred for wearing a T-shirt saying “Islam is the devil.” Nobody in Europe believes that these laws interfere with their sacred, guaranteed right to freedom of speech. Rather, these laws protect freedom of speech by ensuring that it is used responsibly and for the purposes of good.
There are so many awful things about this paragraph it is hard to know where to start. First, however, a right is something you have to ask no one’s permission to exercise. It would be fairly synonymous with “freedom”. So when you say “freedom of speech” it is something you exercise without permission.
A privilege, however, is something which is granted by some authority which defines what is or isn’t acceptable. It is something which can be withdrawn, basically by whim. What she lauds Europe for is “privilege of speech”, and she just happens to agree the speech they’re punishing is “hateful”. You have to wonder if she’d feel the same way if her opinions were labeled as hate speech (and frankly, to any freedom loving person, it is hate speech).
That’s the other thing about what she notes here – every one of her cites involves someone’s opinion. What she celebrates isn’t freedom but conformity of opinion decided by some authority. Her. And she’s fine with using the coercive power of the state to punish opinion which she and those in authority decide constitutes “hate”. Remember Hayek’s definition of freedom? “Freedom is the absence of coercion.”
“Freedom of speech” as a right means that while we may “abhor what someone says”, we will “defend unto death their right to say it”. Her interpretation of “freedom of speech” is we may “abhor what someone says” and we reserve the right to “punish them for it” if it conflicts with “proper thought” on the subject. How screwed up is that?
I can’t imagine a more dangerous idea than what this woman is presenting. It is the germ seed of totalitarianism. It is what has infested our institutions of higher learning thanks to leftist infiltration. These aren’t “progressive” ideas she’s presenting. They are as old as slavery. They are as old as dictatorship. Cohen then goes on to attempt the redefinition of “repressive”:
Consider the case of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson. In a civilized country with basic human rights, Phil Robertson would have been taken before a government Human Rights Tribunal or Human Rights Commission and given a fine or prison sentence for the hateful and bigoted comments that he made about LGBT people. In the US, however, he was given no legal punishment, even though his comments easily had the potential to incite acts of violence against LGBT people, who already face widespread violence in the deeply homophobic American society – and his comments probably DID incite acts of violence against LGBT people.
Most countries have freedom of speech, but only in the US is “freedom of speech” so restrictive and repressive. Not only is the US the only country without any laws against hateful or offensive speech, but it’s also the only country where the government cannot ban any movies, books, or video games, no matter how dangerous, demeaning to human dignity, or harmful to society they may be.
So, says Cohen, “civilized” countries have restrictive speech codes that define what is or isn’t acceptable speech and jail those who violate them. A country in which you have the right to state your opinion without censure or fear of punishment is “restrictive and repressive”. Black is white, up is down.
Apparently what she doesn’t understand about our “freedom of speech” is it is specifically identified as a ban against government doing precisely what she wants. It bans government from abridging free speech. It protects everyone from government interference and oppression. She calls specifically for government to be the instrument of punishment of speech she doesn’t like. Given her freedom hating rhetoric, we can then assume that “civilized” can be interpreted to mean “totalitarian.”
She then makes an absolutely incorrect assertion:
In Europe and Australia and the rest of the civilized world, the ultra-libertarian, free speech absolutist position is that not all offensive speech should be illegal, but that incitement to hatred should always be illegal.
No, Ms. Cohen, that is absolutely incorrect. Wrong. No.
Libertarians agree that incitement to violence isn’t a part of your right to free speech. Because, you see, libertarians believe you are free to exercise your rights as long as they don’t violate the rights of others. It is that difference that separates the free from you. Incitement to violence against another is indeed a violation of the right to free speech. Other than that, a person gets to say what they want – it is the price of freedom, a price you are unwilling to pay. Your path is the road to serfdom. Stating your own beliefs without the fear of censure or punishment, as long as you don’t try to incite violence by doing so, even though others vehemently disagree with you, is freedom of speech. There are plenty of ways for society to punish what it considers to be hate speech – just ask Westboro Baptist Church. That’s how a free country takes out its trash.
Before moving to the US to work with human rights organizations here, I grew up in Australia, which is a much more civilized and progressive country than the comparatively backwards United States, with a much deeper respect for basic human rights.
Condescending and wrong.
Qantas is ready when your are, Ms. Cohen.
The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -3.9% last week, with purchases down -2.0% and refis down -5.0%.
The Federal Open Markets Committee left short-term interest rates unchanged today, at 0% to 0.25% for the Fed Funds rate target.
In today’s economic forecast, the Fed lowered it’s forecasts for both unemployment and economic growth, noting that growth is “moderating”. The Fed’s forecasts:
2015: 2.3 to 2.7%
2016: 2.3 to 2.7%
2017: 2.0 to 2.4%
longer run: 2.0 to 2.3%
2015: 0.6 to 0.8%
2016: 1.7 to 1.9%
2017: 1.9 to 2.0%
longer run: 2.0 %
2015: 52 to 5.3%
2016: 4.9 to 5.1%
2017: 4.8 to 5.1%
longer run: 5.0 to 5.2%
Essentially, the sub-par economic growth we’ve experienced since 2009 will continue for the foreseeable future.
Executive and regulatory over reach, aka trashing the Constitution? Even Lawrence Tribe has problems with the Obama agenda:
As President Obama forges ahead in his fight against climate change, a leading Harvard Law School scholar says a central piece of the president’s strategy is akin to “burning the Constitution” merely to advance an environmental agenda.
In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday, Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence H. Tribe said the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants is built on a shaky legal foundation. The proposal, Mr. Tribe argues, far exceeds EPA’s authority under federal law and strikes a blow to the 10th Amendment by essentially making states subservient to Washington on energy and environmental matters.
Mr. Tribe’s testimony — with which other legal scholars strongly disagreed during Tuesday’s hearing — comes about a month before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in a case that challenges EPA’s so-called “Clean Power Plan,” which would limit pollution from both new and existing power plants and is designed to reduce coal use across the country.
“EPA’s proposal raises grave constitutional questions, exceeds EPA’s statutory authority and violates the Clean Air Act,” said Mr. Tribe, who has argued before the Supreme Court dozens of times and represented Al Gore in the case that ultimately decided the 2000 presidential election.
“EPA is attempting an unconstitutional trifecta — usurping the prerogatives of the states, the Congress and the federal courts all at once,” he continued. “Burning the Constitution of the United States … cannot be a part of our national energy policy.”
On CNN this morning, White House aide David Simas avoided congratulating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the Israeli elections. Instead, he would only congratulate the Israeli people on having an election.
“We want to congratulate the Israeli people for the democratic process for the election that they just engaged in with all the parties that engaged in that election. As you know now, the hard work of coalition building begins. Sometimes that takes a couple of weeks. And we’re going to give space to the formation of that coalition government and we’re not going to weigh in one way or another except to say that the United States and Israel have a historic and close relationship and that will continue going forward,” Simas said.
Hillary Clinton continues to be a dominant force heading into the 2016 presidential election, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. The former secretary of state maintains a broad lead over the field of potential Democratic challengers she could face in a nomination contest and sizable advantages over the leading contenders from the Republican side in general election match-ups.
Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales rose to a still-weak 2.7% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 2.6%.
Housing starts unexpectedly fell a sharp -17.0% in February, to a 0.897 million unit pace, which is down -3.3% on a year-ago basis. Housing numbers have generally been weak for the last few months.