Pub Quiz: Labor Day

Happy Labor Day! Google not and see how well you can do on this quiz about labor. As ever, please post scores and comments/critiques at the end.

1. The Industrial Workers of the World are more commonly known by what nickname?

2. In what U.S. city did the first Labor Day parade take place?

3. In the U.S., Labor Day is held on the first Monday in September, but in much of the world it falls on May 1 to memorialize the protesting workers who died in a bombing and riot in what city?

4. In what decade was the U.S. Department of Labor created?

5-7. Name the country of birth of these three labor activists: Mother Jones, Samuel L. Gompers and Walter P. Reuther.

8. Historically, Labor Day was the last day of the year that fashionable men could wear what kind of suit?

9. In 1936, British labor activists protesting mass unemployment marched almost 300 miles to Parliament from what Northeastern English city?

10. What was the middle name of American Federation of Labor president Samuel L. Gompers?

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This Saturday in DC: Roundtable on Hume’s Politics

Upcoming author-meets-critics panel on *Hume’s Politics* (Saturday, 8/30).

I’m writing this lest some political scientists attending the American  Political Science Association’s Annual Meeting—and other random readers living near DC—miss an opportunity to see my work simultaneously celebrated and torn to shreds: an “Author Meets Critics” panel on Hume’s Politics, this coming Saturday, August 30, at 9:30 in the Marriot Wardman Park’s Maryland B room. (I suspect you’re technically supposed to register for the conference in order to attend. I also suspect that no Homeland Security agents will be enforcing that in the case of this panel.)

For the occasion, Tom Merrill of American University assembled a bunch of people who like the book but who also disagree with it sharply and won’t be afraid to say so: Russell Hardin of NYU, Emily Nacol of Vanderbilt, Michael Frazer of Harvard, and himself. So those who enjoy a good argument as much as I do won’t be disappointed.



Since no one else noticed the Ferguson thing…

Glenn Loury and I talked about it on Bloggingheads.

We discussed the political economy of suburban poverty, rioting and the social contract, the necessity and the difficulty of achieving police legitimacy, the incredible social harm done through the looting of small businesses that accompany urban unrest, and order maintenance as a cooperative achievement of both the citizenry and the police.

Pub Quiz: U.S. Presidents, in Brief

Using these brief descriptions, Google not and name the U.S. President to whom each refers. Please post scores and any comments/critiques at the end. Good luck!

1. Bachelor

2. Served discontinuous terms

3. Shortest stature

4. Shortest time in office

5. First former veep to become POTUS

6. GI Bill signer

7. Made first Presidential address on radio.

8. Held first televised press conference

9. Distant cousin of First Lady Barbara Bush

10. Nicknamed “Elegant”, accused of being Canadian

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Ice Bucket Challenge, California-Style


Harold Pollack has made the ice bucket challenge to me here at RBC. Another friend, Lois Benishek, did the same on Facebook. Given California’s drought, I am taking the financial way out. In any event, I would rather donate than be doused, because Lois and I were both mentored by a wonderful Michigan State University professor named Bertram Stöffelmayr who lost his life to ALS.

If your memories of Al Sharpton were formed twenty years ago, watch this….

Like many people who witnessed Rev. Sharpton’s disgraceful behavior in the Tawana Brawley case and some other scandals, I was never a huge fan. But this very nice sermon in Ferguson shows another side of things. It also underscores why so many people have been drawn to him for a long time. We all contain multitudes…. (h/t Steve Chapman for the video.)

America’s most criminogenic drug

Which intoxicating substance is associated with the most lethal violence? Devotees of the Wire might presume that cocaine or maybe heroin would top the list.

Of course the correct answer, by far, is alcohol. It’s involved in more homicides than pretty much every other substance, combined. Surveys of people incarcerated for violent crimes indicate that about 40% had been drinking at the time they committed these offenses. Among those who had been drinking, average blood-alcohol levels were estimated to exceed three times the legal limit.

Aside from its role among perpetrators of violence, alcohol use is widespread among victims, too, for some of the same reasons. Recent data from the Illinois Violent Death Reporting System (IVDRS) bear out these trends. At my request, researchers at the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute analyzed 3,016 homicides occurring in five Illinois counties between 2005 and 2009. I find the below figures quite striking, particularly among young people. More here


16.2 million cannabis addicts? No, of course I didn’t say that. Bill Bennett just made it up.

No, I didn’t estimate that legalization would lead to 16 million cannabis addicts. Bill Bennett could teach sliminess to a slug.

In his latest anti-cannabis-legalization screed, (behind the Wall Street Journal paywall), written with a former federal prosecutor named Robert White, William Bennett writes:

Mark A.R. Kleiman, a professor of public policy at the  the university of California, Los Angeles, has estimated that legalization can be expected to increase marijuana consumption by four to six times. Today’s 2.7 million marijuana dependents (addicts) would thus expand to as many as 16.2 million with nationwide legalization.

Now, if Bennett wants to make silly predictions, and if Rupert Murdoch wants to publish them, all I can say is, “It’s a free country.” But I think I’m entitled to protest when he attributes that silliness to me. It’s hard to count how many ways that short paragraph is wrong, but the central points are simple:

1. An estimate of the possible change in quantity consumed is not an estimate of the change in the number of dependent users. Consumption can also grow because the amount consumed per dependent user increases.

2. Even most dependent users are not, by any reasonable definition, “addicts.”

3. The large estimated impact on consumption depends the  factor-of-ten price decrease (to about $1-2/gm. for moderately potent product) that would result if cannabis were treated like an ordinary commodity. If taxation or production limits prevent such a drastic decrease, the effect of legalization on consumption would be much smaller.

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