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i want $15 from you – open borders 2020 fund raising

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On November 21, 2020, we’re having the 3rd Open Borders conference. It’s open to all people – Left or Right, Black and White, and more! And we have three amazing keynote speakers: European immigration activist Helena Maleno, star journalist Shikha Dalmia and Vancouver civil rights defender Harsha Walia. It’s online so you can participate from anywhere you have an Internet connection.

But we do need a teensy weensy bit of help. We have some costs, like translators and paying for tech support. The easiest way to help out is to simply to buy a ticket, even if you can’t make it that day. It’s only $15. We also waive the fee for anyone who asks.

Another way to help us out is to participate in the Open Borders book auction, which will occur on Wednesday, October 28. We’ll be doing a live event and you can log in and bid on signed books. It’ll be fun!

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The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

October 23, 2020 at 12:20 am

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more tweets, more votes: biden edition

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The main empirical claim of the More Tweets, More Votes paper is that in the 2010 and 2012 Congressional elections, candidates who got more tweets relative to their competitor got more votes relative to the competitor. For a long time, I thought that Trump was an exception to the rule. He always gets attention, no matter if he’s winning or losing. Even in the original data, we found many cases where scandals, and other factors, could create exception to the MTMV line.

Well, this recent article in Axios suggests that maybe even Trump, the master of social media trolling, may actually be conforming to the MTMV hypothesis. They don’t use the MTMV methodology, but use a different measurement of engagement online to show that Biden now has more Twitter attention than Trump. Sociologically, what is happening is that people are realizing that Trump is probably going to lose and they’re paying attention to the expected winner. If you have other explanations of the graph, please use the comments.

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50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

October 21, 2020 at 12:08 am

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long term covid effects: commentary on yelin et al. (2020)

with 14 comments

On this blog, we’ve had a debate over my opinions on COVID policy. To summarize, here is my view:

  1. Most of the damage from COVID is disproportionately shouldered by the elderly.
  2. Harm from COVID is relatively rare among non-elderly adults and young people.
  3. It is possible to reduce transmission to elderly people with relatively simple policies like age screening, increased testng for care givers and encouraging the elderly to reduce contacts with younger people who have been out in the community.
  4. Widespread lockdowns and closure have some very damaging effects such as unemployment, mental health problems, and erosion of the community.

Points #1 and #2 are very much the consensus. Most people seem to accept #4. #3 is more contended – but I am puzzled about why focusing on at risk people is seen as such a misguided policy. It’s what we do for other illnesses (e.g., if your family doesn’t have a history of sickle cell anemia, we won’t monitor you for it). The conclusion , however, is pretty simple: a relatively “open” policy – relase the young, protect the elderly. There are a growing number of epidemiologists who are moving toward this position. Even the WHO is backing off on lockdowns as a default method for COVID mitigation.

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Written by fabiorojas

October 19, 2020 at 8:13 pm

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tohsinori kondo (1948-2020), you flippin’ rocked

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The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

October 19, 2020 at 12:48 am

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social theory without super heroes

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A while back, I did a podcast with Kyle Green about Theory for the Working Sociologist. He’ll release it later this semester but I wanted to report on an exchange we had. He asked me about the movement among scholars to revive earlier figures like DuBois. Cooper and others. I said a few things. First, many of these figures have been overlooked because of the history of racial discrimination in our country and in our discipline. Second, I am actually a fan of going back into sociology’s history and reviving lost thought. There might be something valuable.

But I did warn Kyle about something. I don’t want the old canon of sociology “superheroes” to be replaced with a new canon of “superheroes.” Why? Two major reasons. First, social theory should be about understanding the social world, not valorizing particular people. When you read X’s writing because X is popular, you’re doing intellectual history not science. I honestly don’t care about Marx the person. But I do care whether the theory of class conflict is actually an accurate theory of the world. When we do “superhero” social theory (e.g., Marx, Weber, Durkheim), we really miss the point. Having a new team of superheroes just reproduces the problem.

Second, when you set up a team of sociology superheroes, you create a mythology and encourage ad hominem reasoning. For example, a lot of people want DuBois to be a new sociology super hero. I think he’s a great sociologist, but DuBois had a lot of problematic positions. For example, he was an unapologetic Stalinist. Seriously – click on the link. By treating DuBois as a new superhero, you will not see the complete person.

Also, by treating social theory as a superhero issue, you might be tempted to make ad hominem attacks. For example, a lot of people are gunning for Weber because, frankly, he had some really racist views of non-white people. Seriously – click on the link. I think the critics are correct, but that doesn’t imply that his other ideas are wrong. That’s a logical fallacy.

Will I still read and teach DuBois and Weber? Sure! The logical validity of an argument does not depend on who speaks the argument. Some readers would say that there’s a sort of contamination – people with racist ideas produce incredibly racist theory. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. You simply need to assert independent judgment. Is Weber’s theory of Calvinism a secret imperialist plot? Nope. Is Souls of Black Folk a secret defense of Stalinist gulags? Give me a break!

Here’s the bottom line. I really get nervous when people start arguing about the lives of dead sociologists and which ones we should worship instead. Really, they are all false gods. The only thing you should do when you read any sociologists is just take the theory and look for supporting and contradicting evidence. That’s it.

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50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

October 16, 2020 at 12:54 pm

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migration restriction and the arrest of activists

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One of the biggest lessons I got from hearing Shikha Dalmia speak at the 2018 Open Borders conference was that migration restriction violates the rights of people in the host nation. Want to hire Juan from Mexico City? You can’t. Want Juan to be a guest in your home? You can’t. Basically, the restriction of migration entails the violation of the freedom of assembly and commerce that most of us enjoy.

I also appreciate that migration restriction also harms people who advocate on behalf of migrants. WHYY, the NPR station in Philadelphia, reported on the arrest of Nancy Nguyen at her home after she protested in front of the home of a border control official. The charge? Trespassing and littering (!), because she placed some signs on the man’s lawn. In my view, this is obvious over-reach by law enforcement.

Let me add an extra note here. I think it is correct to presume that a public official should be able to spend time at home without a crowd on their lawn. But doesn’t that standard also apply to people from other cities or countries who just want to live in peace in a new place? In other words, if you think that people should be able to be at home without harassment, doesn’t it also apply to me if I want to hire or marry a person from a different country? Why shouldn’t me and my friends from other nations be left alone?

My hope is that authorities drop these charges and people can focus on the bigger issue – there is a very large and very punitive system that makes life miserable for millions of peaceful immigrants.

++++++
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

October 14, 2020 at 6:25 pm

Posted in uncategorized

the prisoner’s dilemma in 2020

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This is a post whose content I have been meditating on, for a long time, since I last wrote about my concerns about responses to SARS-CoV-2 in March.  For years, I’ve taught about the classic prisoner’s dilemma in the context of Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom’s Governing the Commons book.  Ostrom’s book draws on collectives to explain how such groups collectively self-manage and regulate common resource pools like fisheries and grazing grounds; her work offers some insights into how to tackle shared, contemporary issues.  For example, many of us have concerns about how to combat environmental degradation, where the longterm outlook is often hard to forecast against shortterm gains and externalities generated by corporations. 

With SARS-CoV-2’s worldwide spread, the prisoner’s dilemma is now evident in everyday decisions on the part of individual people, organizations, and governments. These decisions, in aggregate, have both immediate and longterm consequences for all:

Scenario 1Both parties defect: Most or all persons fail to wear masks properly, socially distance to the fullest extent possible, and/or live and work with conditions that promote safer interpersonal contact (i.e. gets tested with short turn-around results, cooperates with contact tracing, spends time outdoors or indoors with open windows, enhanced air circulation, etc.).  The outcome of not reducing risky activities manifests in collectively worse outcomes for everyone – societies experience more illnesses, more need for hospitalizations at the same time (which hospitals cannot handle given staffing and equipment capacity), more deaths, more not-yet-know longterm effects, more uncertainty, etc. 

Scenario 2One party defects while the other party cooperates: One party refuses to do social distancing, mask usage, etc. while the other does.  The outcome is still worse for everyone, but less so compared with when both parties defect.  

Scenario 3Both parties cooperate: Everyone engages in proper mask wearing, social distancing, regular, rapid testing, etc.  These actions hopefully push transmission down to few or no cases.  This is the most ideal outcome from a collective health standpoint.

In NYC, my students and their communities have learned the hard way about the consequences of the prisoner’s dilemma, especially given the failures of various elected leaders and organizations to properly conceptualize and communicate risk.  I tried my best, from the beginning of the spring semester, to prepare my undergrad and grad students, my household, and those around me for what I thought was likely to happen, based on what I had read about China and recommendations from qualified experts.  For example, I told students to start identifying neighborhood businesses and organizations that they might have to patronize, should they no longer be able to travel.  If they lived in the dorms, I encouraged them to think through plans for returning home.  I asked students to test working online with their devices.  I intensified my teaching of decentralized organizing techniques, including mutual aid.  I spent time in multiple meetings, explaining to administrators my preparatory steps for moving online, and drafting and sending emails asking decision-makers at various organizations to take steps to protect communities.  I contemplated what to do if I got incapacitated.

Here’s what we experienced, healthwise, in the spring 2020:

  • a death of the senior-most colleague in my department
  • a student, who had been ill himself, learned of a death in his extended family, during groupwork in my class
  • students and their family members hospitalized
  • students and CUNY colleagues suspected they had COVID-19 symptoms (headaches, fevers, cough) but couldn’t get tested for COVID-19
  • one student’s entire family got sick, possibly from their child’s school which had teachers who had been hospitalized. This student almost died due to an nearly too late diagnosed complication of COVID-19.
  • death of a parent at my child’s school

My CUNY colleagues reported similar or worse experiences; for example, one undergraduate lost both parents to COVID-19.  Everyday during our lockdown, every passing siren was an auditory reminder of how failed states can deplete collective capacity to coordinate effective action.

When I talk with academic colleagues and my research communities across NYC and the US, they have reported voluntarily following the recommendations of experts who have researched public health, indoor air quality, and aerosol diseases.  Most are at organizations that have allowed them to work from home or outdoors.  They have chosen to reduce exposure and transmission risks, for example, by wearing masks and replacing riskier activities, such as dining and socializing indoors with those outside of their households, with other kinds of activities like virtual meetings, walking together outdoors while masked, etc.  Some do it out of concerns for their own health; others are concerned for those around them.    

When we talk about how life has changed and will continue to change, we acknowledge that we have the means and privilege to do this, and that we do this in order to collectively reduce risks for those who cannot.  Accepting such changes has not always been easy, especially when we are unsure when we can next gather with loved ones safely, across long physical distances.  Each day feels like the 1990s movie Groundhog Day, but with deaths, illness, and grief.  The temptation to individually defect, in an attempt to return to the 2019 “normal,” is high.  That said, mutual cooperation is much easier if we think of our interdependent futures, as well as our connections with prior and upcoming generations.

In the absence of coordinated state action, informal and formal organizations can step in. Organizations like schools and universities can offer decision-making guides to their members about the impact of participating in get-togethers and similar “individual decisions” upon surrounding communities. Organizations can support people in collecting data that might not otherwise be deemed by gatekeepers as worthy of inclusion. With these steps, people can learn about possible risks to their community, and take actions that might eventually generate a collective best, rather than worst, outcome for all.

Written by katherinechen

October 7, 2020 at 6:35 pm

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bambi (1969)

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The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

October 4, 2020 at 12:26 am

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an issue with amy coney barrett and most other supreme court nominees and justices

Sometime this Fall, Amy Coney Barrett will likely become a Supreme Court Justice. A lot of people are shedding tears over Mitch McConnell’s rush to get Barett on the court. Well, if you believe what politicians tell you about election year court appointment norms, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

Instead, I want to draw attention to an issue with Barrett and most other elite jurists. People who get appointed to that level – appeals courts and the Supreme court – usually have very little experience in criminal law. If you look at most justices on the Supreme and appeals court, they have spent very, very little time defending regular people on criminal charges. Usually, a Supreme court nominee goes to an elite law school, then works for the government at an elite level and then goes to work at a fancy law school. In the mix, they may spend a few years working in corporate law or in “boutique” firms defending unusual or elite clients. Very rarely do they have deep experience with criminal law, or even regular civil law. For example, I think the only Supreme Court justice that spent a lot of time in criminal law was Sotomayor – and she was a prosecutor. It is very rare for an elite judge to have spent an extended period in criminal defense.

Barrett’s biography indicate a similar trajectory, with some modification. After graduating from Notre Dame, she clerked for Scalia and then worked for Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin, which tends to represent high profile DC clients like Ted Kennedy, and then Baker Botts, which defends notable Republicans, such as Bush v. Gore. And then she returned to law school as a professor and then moved to the appeals court. Her academic specialty? Constitutional law. As far as I can tell, Barrett, like most jurists at that level, has very little experience with normal people with normal legal problems.

By itself, it’s not a problem. No lawyer can know every type of law, but when an entire legal system is full of leaders who actively avoid and lack experience of a major branch of the legal system, that’s an issue. I could go through and discuss issues where I may agree or disagree with Barrett, or the circus that Supreme Court nominations have become, but I prefer to argue for nominating bench that is diverse in terms of legal experience, and that may be just as important as demographic and ideological diversity.

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50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

October 2, 2020 at 12:10 am

Posted in uncategorized

it’s probably ok to send kids to school during COVID: a review of some research about young children and covid

My COVID policy: protect the elderly, release the young. The basis for this recommendation is simple: young people are at very low risk for mortality from COVID. However, a common refrain is “won’t kids catch COVID and take it home.” Well, we now have some evidence that can provide insight.

In Science Magazine, Snape and Viner review a few studies that now focus on the issue of whether small children are responsible for variation in infection rates. Let’s dig into these studies:

First, do kids bring COVID from home to school? Viner’s team has a preprint and the answer is “probably not.” They review the literature to find contact tracing studies that explore how often children were likely to be spreaders vs. adults. The answer? .56 – children are half as likely to be spreaders as adults.

Second, do kids bring COVID from school to home? This is hard to estimate, but Snape and Viner cite recent research on contact tracing and find that school kids are a very small fraction of the people who actually spread COVID. For example, Public Health England study of nasal swabs in British children shows that a tiny fraction of kids at home have active COVID infections. How infrequent? 3.9 out of 100,000.

Of course, this isn’t the last word. But right now, data indicate that children spreaders are not the issue. It’s not zero transmission, which is an incredibly tough standard, but it’s simply small compared to adult transmission. I also note that the studies that Snape and Viner cite use data from the Spring when we were initially reacting to COVID. Today, we know that masks work and keeping physical distance works. Schools are also moving to low density set ups, such as having classes outside when possible and rotating the student attendance (e.g., only 50% of students show up on a given day). Thus, the risk of disease from young people is probably lower in Fall 2020 than Spring 2020.

The conclusion here is simple: opening parts of society aimed at young people is fairly safe. Kids rarely get sick from COVID, they spread less disease than adults, and the prevalence of COVID among kids is really, really low.

++++++
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

September 30, 2020 at 12:47 am

Posted in uncategorized

release the young, protect the elderly: further consideration of an “open” covid policy

As loyal readers know, my position on COVID policy is simple: protect the elderly, release the young. Why? COVID is very low risk for young people, but extremely damaging for people who are older. This position is very much an “open” position. Here, I’ll discuss some recent evolutions in this argument.

First, Linkdn’s new website ran an article by Martin Kulldorff, who teaches at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s hospital. In brief, he argues for a position similar to mine. Instead of society wide lock downs, we should be age focused. We should come up with policies that minimize costs on young people while reducing risk for older people. A few quotes:

With age 70-79 as baseline, relative mortality risks are shown in Table 1. For COVID-19 exposed individuals, people in their 70s have roughly twice the mortality of those in their 60s, 10 times the mortality of those in their 50s, 40 times that of those in their 40s, 100 times that of those in their 30s, 300 times that of those in their 20s, and a mortality that is more than 3000 times higher than for children. Under Scenario B, with higher exposure among the young, the age differences are even larger.

In other words, the risk of mortality for the elderly is 3000 times more than children. He admits that perfect information is not available, but what we do have suggests that burden of disease is incredibly lopsided.

This is not controversial. This age-COVID mortality association was established in the Spring and is the consensus view. Kulldorff is simply emphasizing what is widely known and accepted. What is unusual is that Kulldorff makes a rather simple argument: if young people are relatively unaffected, we can open much of society, so long as we screen by age. Key quote:

To date, most government mandated mitigation measures have either been age neutral, such as restaurant closures, or targeted at young and middle-aged people, such as school and office closures. A more appropriate age targeted approach is needed. Just as some pubs ban customers under the age of 21, government officials could set temporary upper age limits of say 50, 60, or 65 for visiting or working at restaurants, stores, offices, airports, and other public places. So, for example, while all 60-plus-year-old supermarket cashiers, gas station attendants, police officers, postal workers, garbage collectors and bus drivers should stay home, their younger colleagues should keep working, taking extra shifts as needed.

This is a direct implication of the epidemiology of the illness. If X is not affected and Y is affected, focus on Y and leave X alone. However, much of the discourse in the United States is about policies that affect everyone (like lockdowns) or policies that heavily burden the young (e.g., college and school closures).

In Jacobin magazine, Martin Kulldorff and his colleague Kathrine Yih argued this position further. A few more key quotes. This is Yih discussing the need to evolve policy beyond a simple “minimize cases” approach:

I don’t think it’s wise or warranted to keep society locked down until vaccines become available. There are nine vaccines in large-scale efficacy trials as of mid-September 2020, and my guess is that at least one will be approved for use in the United States by some time in 2021. But this is not certain to happen. Furthermore, neither the effectiveness nor the duration of immunity from any of these vaccines is known as yet.

There are additional uncertainties about how many vaccines can be manufactured, distributed, kept at the requisite temperatures, and administered in a short amount of time after authorization or licensure, and whether a sizeable portion of the population will refuse vaccination. So we can hope but we certainly can’t count on a vaccine saving us either as individuals or as a population in the short term.

Regarding policy, early in the US epidemic, based in part on the experiences of Italy and Spain, the urgency of “flattening the [epidemiologic] curve” was emphasized. It was indeed crucial to take steps to ensure that hospitals and health care resources not be overwhelmed, as they very nearly were in parts of New York City, for instance.

But I have been struck by how this emphasis on keeping the numbers down at all costs has not evolved with time. There is a kind of simplistic goal of keeping people from getting infected, period. Now this may seem like a worthy goal, but with a highly contagious respiratory virus to which most of the world’s population is probably still not immune, people are going to get infected. The virus will spread, quickly or less so, until herd immunity is reached.

In sum, policy can’t be stuck in March 2020, when the only thing we knew was that there was high mortality in a few spots. Now that we know more, we can change the policy. What should that be? Open institutions that have few older people in them. This is Martin Kulldorff:

Children and young adults have minimal risk, and there is no scientific or public health rationale to close day care centers, schools, or colleges. In-person education is critically important for both the intellectual and social development for all kids, but school closures are especially harmful for working-class children whose parents cannot afford tutors, pod schools, or private schools.

You might think this is isolated. But others are coming around to the “release the young, protect the elderly” policy. This is from a recent article in Science Magazine by Matthew Snape and Russell Viner. Key quote:

Abstract: Children have a low risk of COVID-19 and are disproportionately harmed by precautions.

How harmful is COVID for kids? Worst case is that it is similar to adults, but probably few kids get sick:

Evidence from contact-tracing studies suggest that children and teenagers are less susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection than adults; however, community swabbing and seroprevalence studies conducted outside of outbreak settings suggest that infection rates are similar to those in older age groups (13). Only half of children and teenagers with antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 have experienced symptoms, and there is growing evidence that there is a broad range of presentations, emphasizing the limitations of community-based prevalence studies based on testing only children with respiratory symptoms. Hospitalization for severe acute COVID-19 in children is rare, but among these pediatric inpatients, respiratory symptoms are more apparent than in infected children in the community (4). Case fatality in hospitalized children is, fortunately, relatively low at 1% (compared with 27% across all ages) (4).

Do kids spread a lot COVID at home? Not very much:

 Looked at from another perspective, when household outbreaks of infection have occurred, it appears that children were responsible for only a small minority of household introductions of the virus. Also, recent surveys found that reopening of schools in a number of European countries in April and May had no clear impact on community transmission, with cases continuing to fall in most countries after reopening (11).

Do school closures have real harmful effects on children? Probably:

School closures and attendant loss of other protective systems for children (such as limited social care and health visiting) highlight the indirect, but very real, harms being disproportionately borne by children and teenagers as a result of measures to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic. In the UK, it is estimated that the impact on education thus far may lead to a quarter of the national workforce having lower skills and attainment for a generation after the mid-2020s, leading to the loss of billions of dollars in national wealth (11). Additionally, there are a variety of other harms to children’s health, including the risk of reemergence of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles because of disruptions to immunization programs.

My serious hope is that these voices become more common. We need to move from “COVID is an existential threat to humanity that needs to be shut down at all costs” to “COVID is a disease with a specific population profile that mitigation policies need to reflect.” In other words, release the young, protect the elderly.

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50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

September 24, 2020 at 4:45 pm

Posted in uncategorized

contexts summer 2020 is now out!!!!

Hello everyone! The Summer 2020 issue of Contexts Magazine is here and it is A+++. This special issue deals with indigenous identities. The special issue editors are Angela A. Gonzalez and Nicholas Reo. Free for 30 days and all back issues become free after 12 months.

Download it. Read it. Love it.

++++++
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

September 21, 2020 at 3:05 pm

Posted in uncategorized

brass against/killing in the name

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50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

September 20, 2020 at 12:42 am

Posted in uncategorized

the magic level of academia

A long time ago, I learned that you didn’t need to be a scientist or scholar to become a professor. I think it was sometime after Michael Dukakis had run for president because I remember being surprised that a politician became a professor. Dukakis wasn’t alone. Many politicians acquire positions in universities after their political careers are over, including a few at my own institution such as the late Richard Lugar and Lee Hamilton.

I was reminded of this fact a little while back when I counseling a graduate student. I was giving the standard advice. Write good dissertation chapters, show your committee, and workshop them so you can submit to a journal. This student was certainly doing that but also had an extra mission. The strategy was that soon after graduation, they would have a low teaching load and run a research center. Normally, this sort of appointment is reserved for people who are a little older. They’ve established themselves in a field and start a center at their institution, sometimes as part of a retention offer. And I said that. But this person then pointed out a few people who were essentially at junior level and were doing this. In those cases, they had parlayed a career in journalism and popular writing into a cushy job directing a center at a university.

The world I operate in is the “normal” version of academia. You get cushy jobs only if you’ve grinded through a PhD program and spent 5-10 years grinding through the journal system and the junior faculty track. And that’s if you’re lucky. Lots of people complete a PhD and never land academic jobs. But my student had a point. If you look around, you see people who seem to bypass this system. Not a huge number, but’s definitely “a thing.”

I call this zone the “magic level of academia.” This is a world filled with best selling authors, MacArthur prize winners, retired politicians, star musicians, and political activists. It’s obviously not a huge world, but it does exist and it is a career goal one can have. It seems that most of this world is built for “stars” who have reached a pinnacle in their profession and need a terminal position in their career. Thus, most of “magic level” academia is really about older people. Yet, you can still get into this stream of academia at a younger age if you are a normal academic, but become a star in the popular press. A while back, I might have put someone like Richard Florida into such a camp. He became a huge focus in the popular press and was able to move very easily between high profile positions and centers.

I use the word “magic” level of academia because success in a non-university domains allows the individual to completely by pass the standard work of academia. People in the “magic level” aren’t expected to battle for space in elite journals or do the grind of running a lab. They have editors at major popular presses eagerly listen to their latest pitches. They don’t mentor dissertation students, or explain why a paper was a B- instead of a B+. And they certainly don’t do faculty meetings! Their job is simply to bring their charisma to the campus, maintain their presence in the public sphere, help some folks make connections, and teach the occasional seminar, where most get As.

I don’t begrudge them this. If having a fancy retired politician helps the university bring in donations, I won’t complain. I also understand that universities are cultural and symbolic institutions. Most people won’t care if a university hires the best scholar who studies symplectic geometry, but they are impressed that a Pulitzer prize winner is on the staff. The magic level of academic has its uses.

As for myself, I will keep treating the magic level of academia as a nearby curiosity. It would be nice to be in that realm, but it’s not really what my life is about. I’m here to do science and I’m here to teach. If the public loves what I say and they promote me to the magic level, cool. If not, I remain grateful. I get to do a job that’s really amazing in an institution that has been nice to me, That’s a good thing.

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September 17, 2020 at 12:00 am

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how dangerous is it to open college campuses? evidence from enclosed communities at sea exposed to COVID, the us and sweden

How damaging would in-person college be for the college population? I think we have some evidence to help us sort through this issue. Namely, there are some relatively closed communities where people lived in close quarters and were exposed to COVID. We can estimate the damage. These communities are similar to colleges in that they housed people together. We also know, months later, how many people got sick and how many died. Specifically, we can look at ships where people were in close contact and got a lot of COVID.

Worst Case Scenario: The Diamond Princess is a cruise ship that was at sea early in the epidemic. People got sick and it wasn’t allowed to port for a while. The result? According to the wiki, 700 out of 3711 tested positive (18%) and 14 died (.3%). This is a population with many elderly passengers and, also according to the wiki, at least 12 of 14 fatalities were 60 or older. The Diamond Princess did not practice social distancing and, also according to the wiki, held social events like parties. I call this “worst case” because you had an elderly population, high density, and no social distancing. Also, my presumption is that the Diamond Princess medical clinic did not have access to much medical equipment, like ventilators, that could save people. In other words, this has all the conditions leading to maximal harm.

Bad but Closer to Colleges: Many naval ships experienced COVID epidemics. This is important to look into because naval have few elderly people, lots of young people, and those people tend to be in good health. Also, most naval ships have medical staff and facilities that would be better at handling severe COVID cases. Thus, it is more similar to college dorms or fraternity/sorority buildings where people live close together, are mostly young, and mostly in good health. Also, infected college students could access campus clinics. The result? The wiki list of Naval ship COVID epidemics reports that in 24 ships with known epidemics and known crew sizes, there were about 8,890 sailors and 3 fatalities (.03%). Overall, that’s one order of magnitude less than the worst case scenario of the Diamond Princess. In other words, a large boat of young people has 90% fewer mortalities than a boat full of old people.

The CDC has reported on the USS Theodore Roosevelt specifically and there is some good evidence on how social distancing measures worked. For example, the CDC reported that 1273 out of about 5000 sailors tested positive COVID (25%). In a convenience sample, the CDC reported that infection rates among those assigned to wear masks was lower (80% vs. 50%).

Now, let’s get back to the general population and compare mortality rates:

  1. THE US population: As of September, we have about 188,000 fatalities and the trend is downward in the short term. Let’s say that 220,000 people die in the US in the 2020 calendar year. Then the overall fatality rate is .06%.
  2. Worst Case Scenario (mostly elderly, close together no social distancing): .3%
  3. Bad but With Mostly Young People (young health people, some distancing): .03%.
  4. Sweden/Let’s get herd immunity/little prevention: 6,000 / 9,800,000 = .06%.

If you believe colleges are places with young, healthy people close together and some social distancing, then the Navy ship is a similar situation. These ships have a mortality rate *below* the US population as a whole (.03% vs. .06%). Also, Navy ships have a lower mortality rate below Sweden, which has chosen the “no resistance/herd immunity” path (.03% vs. .06%). If you think college campuses would be a complete disaster (like the Diamond Princess, .3% mortality), then you are assuming that colleges are not like Naval ships, not like the US population, not like the Swedish population and more like a population of partying old people. It is theoretically possible, but unlikely in my view.

In terms of policy, I say the evidence suggests that letting people back to college is no more dangerous than these situations: Naval ships – close contact, some distancing; the US – mixed density, mixed distancing; and Sweden – high urban density, no distancing. Value is subjective and maybe these cases horrify you, but as loyal readers know, I think most people would accept this level of risk if they can gain back employment and their social lives.

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September 15, 2020 at 8:50 pm

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sharon isbin/capricho arabe

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September 13, 2020 at 12:27 am

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notes on stanford’s black studies panel

I was very lucky to be on a panel with some very excellent scholars such as Kimberly McNair, Aileen K. Robinson, and Eddie Glaude, Jr. The issue was how to move Stanford’s unit from program to department. I started off with a historical over view of how Black Studies and Black Power are related. Then, Eddie Glaude, Jr. spoke about the challenges of moving Princeton’s program to department status. Kimberly McNair spoke about the role of activism in the Black Studies field and Aileen K. Robinson spoke about her experiences in various kinds of Africana Studies units.

A few brief comments:

  1. The bureaucratic resistance to Black Studies has been constant for over 50 years. Many of the issues that Professor Glaude mentioned also happened at other programs. While Black Studies is urgent for students and scholars, it must overcome either indifference or hostility at higher levels.
  2. Professor Robinson spoke about the variety of educational experiences to be found in programs organized at departments and interdisciplinary. A key issue is that she found both forms of academic organization had important things to offer.
  3. Professor McNair raised multiple issues. Once that I thought was interesting was the role of activism. One thing that I found in my historical study of Africana programs is that many activists don’t have a sense of what make the university tick and thus sometimes have a tough time.

The big issue in the talk was the shift to the department structure, which grants relative permanence, stability, authority, and resources. I look forward to when the Clayman Institue posts the discussion.

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September 10, 2020 at 3:06 pm

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black studies at stanford: check it out!!!!

On Wednesday, noon PST/3 pm EST, I will be on a panel with Eddie Glaude and Kimberly Thomas McNair speaking about the proposal at Stanford to change its Africana studies unit from a program to a department. Register here to attend the event. Thanks for checking it out.

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September 8, 2020 at 3:53 am

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rare early alice coltrane

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September 6, 2020 at 12:04 am

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should harvard randomize admissions?

We recently discussed in detail the podcast “Nice White Parents,” which was about the lack of racial integration in a Brooklyn middle school. Interestingly, one policy reform that emerged in the end was that parents successfully lobbied to end the labyrinthine system of admissions. If you want your kid to go to public middle school in that district, rank your schools, send it in, and then wait for the lottery to be announced.

A question I had at the end was: Why not use lotteries and randomization to hand out public school resources more generally? For example, a huge problem in elite college education is that parents invest a huge amount into making their kids “special” so they can get through ultra competitive admissions processes. Low income families and people of color don’t have the financial or cultural resources to play that game, and frankly, that’s by design in many cases (see Jerome Karabel’s The Chosen, for example).

So instead of tinkering with elite college admissions, why not just bypass them? Just say, “look, students with at least XX% SAT or GPA tend to do well here. If you are above that cut off, you will be entered into an admissions lottery.” Since colleges need private donors and public support, you can reserve some slice of admits for alumni, athletes, children of senators, and so forth.

Bottom line: We can’t prevent wealthy parents from pushing their kids, but we do have some tools for dealing with the problem.

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September 2, 2020 at 6:41 pm

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open borders: 2020 conference announced and it’s ultra amazing!!!!

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: It is my pleasure to announce the 3rd Open Borders conference, on November 21, 2020. It will be amazing.In order to promote public safety, we have decided to do this year’s conference online. By going online, we can bring the ideas of the open borders movement to more people in more parts of the world. So check this out: the 3rd Open Borders conference will be held in three different time zones!

Each time zone will have a key note speaker, additional panels, and more. Below, I list our key notes. SIGN UP HERE.

London/GMT: Helena Maleno – the internationally recognized human rights activist and journalist will speak about supporting migration.

New York/EST: Shikha Sood Dalmia is a nationally known writer who covers migration, and other pubic policy topics, for the Reason Foundation.

Los Angeles/PST: Harsha Walia is the executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

In order to attend, simply sign up using THIS LINK. We ask for a small donation to help with costs, like paying for bandwidth and translators. I really hope you can donate or attend the event.

Special thanks goes to our organizing committee: David Bennion, Steve Sacco, Jammila Hammami for making this happen.

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August 31, 2020 at 3:19 pm

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2sich covers gojira who covers deliverance, yes, indeed it is “too sick”

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August 30, 2020 at 12:34 am

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the political economy of “nice white parents, part 3 – are lotteries justice?

This is the concluding post to my discussion of the NY Times podcast, “Nice White Parents.” A constant issue in education is that we have shifting and competing goals. Pre-Brown v. Board, the whole point was that public schools failed Black students on both counts. Schools simply failed to educate Black students and they obviously treated them in unequal and degrading ways. Post-Brown v. Board, legal separation is over, but there are two related, but distinct issues. First, since schooling is tied to housing in the US, low-SES minority groups will usually have fewer resources. So there is no equality in resources, even if there is legal equality in access (e.g., any resident of this neighborhood is allowed to go to a local school). Second, a lot of parents want “positional goods,” they want the best schools, not merely satisfactory schools. In fact, schooling in the US has shifted toward a model where parents compete for schools – bidding up the price of homes with good schools, competing for spots in “good” schools in urban centers and suburbs, and then competing for college admissions. This, in turn, encourage racial inequality in school.

In the Nice What Parents podcast, this system of parental and child competition is shown to have perverse consequences. Parents endlessly agonize over getting their kids into the right school, coalitions of NWPs endlessly demand more for their kids from the school without including PoCs.

The last episode of the podcast shows how some parents pushed back against this system. They also tackled the issue of equity and by passed the problem where low SES neighborhoods get underfunded schools. A coalition of parents lobbied to have the school district abolish the system where kids compete to get into a school and kids are assigned to school by lottery.

Is the lottery system “justice?” Was the previous system just? A lot hinges on what you think justice is. At the very least, you should get what you pay for. Black parents work hard and pay taxes. Their schools should be adequately staffed and safe. Furthermore, the point of public schooling is not to provide extra special education for some people, but solid basic education for all people. If NWPs want special French classes, they can pay for them.

Ironically, the lottery system of admission is the way that many charter schools run. To prevent parents from gaming the charter school system, many states and jurisdictions require that admissions be randomized. The fact that the PS. 93 parents in Brooklyn pushed for a lottery leads me to suspect that they ultimately decided that parent gaming is not a solvable problem. You just have to by pass it.

So here’s a political ethics question for readers. In what areas of public policy would it be fair and just to randomize access? Can the lesson of schools be transferred to other situations? It’s a good question.

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August 27, 2020 at 3:00 pm

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the political economy of “nice white parents,” part deux – what do people actually want from schools?

Note: In the previous post, I called the non-white parents “local,” which Andrew Gelman thought was inaccurate. I will now call them “PoCs” (Parents of Color).

This is the second post on the podcast called “Nice White Parents” by Chana Joffe-Waltz. It is produced by the New York Times and it is about the history of a school in Brooklyn where “Nice White Parents” (NWPs) demanded and then bailed on school integration. In the last post, I focused on the fact that public schools often have multiple, conflicting constituents.

In this post, I want to focus on a related issue – exactly what do people want schools to do? If you are an education researcher or sociologist of education, you know this issue well. People want schools to do everything, and I mean everything. A small example: a few weeks ago, I was rereading Angela Davis’ Are Prisons Obsolete? What is her replacement for prisons? You got it – schools!

In the podcast, I found that people discussed or interviewed wanted public schools to do the following:

  • Make good citizens
  • Provide a racially diverse experience for kids
  • Provide a safe place for learning reading and the basics
  • Provide advanced topics like French immersion
  • Provide schooling close to where they live
  • Provide discipline and order for kids
  • Improved standardized test scores
  • Individualized education
  • Prepare people for jobs
  • Equal access to schools
  • Rewards for gifted or high achieving and/or special needs students
  • Provide for democratic input into schools

These are not bad goals, but they do compete with each other and sometimes they conflict. For example, since schools usually draw on local populations, you may get de facto segregated schools if housing markets are segregated. So “school close by” and “racially mixed” are simply incompatible in many places. Something has to give.

In private school settings and charter school settings, the administration can pick goals. They choose some and tell parents “take it or leave it.” In fact, the Success Academy does exactly that. They focus on standardized education, classroom orders, and “one size fits all.” Parents are not allowed to have input and lots of parents leave. This is often easier said than done, as wealthy parents will still press private schools that need money, but I’d would guess the private or charter school administrator has an easier time than their public school counter part.

In terms of PS. 93 in Brooklyn, the school (until recently, which we’ll get to later) seems to have simply let everyone try everything. NWPs tried international schooling and French immersion, which PoCs did not want or need. PoCs wanted basic skills and safety, which NWPs weren’t interested in as their kids often had special tracks. And the administration itself was constantly juggling the demands of all these groups.

The bottom line here is that “Nice White Parents” is not merely a story of racial division in education, it is also a great example of the conundrum of trying to provide a service in a highly open and democratic manner. The intentions are good, but when everyone gets input and no one is really accountable, you get very murky results.

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August 25, 2020 at 1:35 pm

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laid to rest (2020 quarantine edition)

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August 23, 2020 at 5:05 pm

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the political economy of “nice white parents” – part 1, schools are complex organizations

The New York Times has a new podcast series called “Nice White Parents.” The story is reported by Chana Joffe-Walt and it’s about the her child’s school in Brooklyn. The focus of the series is the fact that the school, and many others in New York, has remained segregated throughout most of its history.

The main characters in the story are “nice white parents,” non-white parents, and various school officials in New York City. Her main thesis is that “nice white parents” (NWPs) constantly make demands on the school, ask for special privileges and often bail on schools when it comes time to actual enroll in the school. The result is a school that remains segregated. The podcast I think will be very interesting to sociologists of education, organizational sociologists, and political sociologists. There’s even a cameo by sociologist Eve Ewing, who has written a book on the Chicago public schools, and was a consultant for the series.

I’ll write a few posts about the series. This first one will be how the podcast illustrates something that organizational sociologists have always appreciated about schools, but that non-specialists overlook. Schools have murky goals and multiple sites of decision. The average person thinks of schools in Weberian terms – their is a goal (teaching), a hierarchy, and an trained experts (teachers) whose job it is to carry out instruction. While this is true on paper, the reality is much more complex.

For example, Joffe-Walt describes two groups of parents who participate in the school in extremely different ways. A group of NWPs push for dual language instruction in French and even go to the effort to create a private foundation that will raise earmarked money for the project. The PTA, in contrast, collects funds through “mom and pop” activities like bake sales and raffles. I’ll call these people the “Local Parents,” who are mainly Black, Latino, and Middle Eastern, as reported by Joffe-Walt.

The reporting focuses mainly on cultural differences, There is clearly discomfort by the local parents when they are asked to participated in a fundraising activity associated with the French embassy in Washington. The local parents often feel that the school is being co-opted.

But at other points, Joffe-Walt hits on a deeper point that I want to elaborate on: NWPs and Local Parents simply want different things out of schools. As the narrator points out, earning a high school degree and obtaining basic skills is an extremely valuable thing that a school can offer. It’s a stepping stone to college and better jobs. In contrast, the children of NWPs seem to want a luxury good. Their kids will get the basics not matter what. If their kids want college, they’ll get it regardless of what their local school does For them. The issue is that the school doesn’t offer luxury goods, like dual language instruction. And yes, in comparison with basic literacy and math skills, having a class in French is a luxury.

In my reading of the story, a big issue is that the school has two constituencies who simply need different things and they are allowed to assert influence, which results in the somewhat chaotic series of changes at the school. Some want luxury education and while others want the basics. When she looks at the historical record, she finds NWPs who demanded desegregated schools and bailed on them. They framed things in terms of the benefits of a diverse, to use a modern term, school. In contrast, Local Parents wanted safe and clean schools that were nearby and that offered basic education. Desegregation was not a luxury item for them, it was just about obtaining basic public services.

Getting back to organizational sociology, Joffe-Walt has stumbled upon is the “garbage can” model of organization. According to that theory, there are some organizations that characterized by vague goals (“making citizens”), vague technologies and decentralized decision making. Public schools, like the one in Nice White Parents, fits that description perfectly. You have a situation where multiple groups (the school board, the principal, NWPs, Local Parents) use the school to all pursue their own goals. What makes things worse is that some actors have very little investment in schools, so it is easy for them to make demands and then not follow through. NWPs have the money for private schools, Locals don’t.

I’ll conclude with a comment about institutional design. If a key issue is that NWPs make these demands on schools, why not simply prohibit them from doing so? Or have a rule that if you make a demand on a school, you must have enrolled kids or commit to enroll them? Why not work harder to de-emphasize the chaotic “garbage can” aspect of public schools? In the podcast series, Joffe-Walt does talk about the Success Academies, a network of charter schools that does exactly that. These school basically use a one size fits all model and they really don’t want input from outsiders. But this is probably a non-starter for most parents who don’t want a rigid approach to school, they *want* a messy system with PTAs, school boards, and private foundations involved. The deepest lesson is that public schools deliver what their structure allows: a system where a concern with teaching basic skills is bundled with external interventions.

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August 20, 2020 at 5:40 pm

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open borders: a response to jake syma about refugees and self-selection effects

Last week, we had an ASA session on open borders. Tanya Golash-Boza, David Fitzgerald, and my self gave short talks on open borders. Overall, I am very happy with what happened. Not only did all panelists deliver a set of interesting comments, but about 30 in total. Not bad for a session with minimal advertising on a controversial topic. If someone out there wants to help with audio processing to make a nice podcast, please reach out. My zoom recorded it.

Here, I want to discuss an issue about open borders that Jake Syma brought up on Facebook. When I talk about open borders, I often discuss self-selection of immigrants. People often wonder if immigrants will bring crime or become dependent on public services. I say that this is counter-intuitive because of self-selection. Immigrants are not a random sample of people from the home country. Rather, immigrants tend to b above average because migration often requires that you save money, plan ahead, and learn a new language and culture.

When I was speaking, I casually said that maybe refugees are an exception. On Facebook, Jake then asked why I thought that. This post is a response to Jake’s query. My mental model of refugees is that a war or other forms of mass violence occur and that entire populations move. In this model of refugee migration, everyone is moved out. So there is no self selection for better people. But this might not be true. It probably is not the case that wars randomly move people. For example, perhaps some people are part of the conflict and they stay home in order to fight and settle grievances. Another issue is that moving is costly no matter the reason. So refugee populations may be more middle or upper class than the population average. The public image of Syrian Civil War refugees was that may were middle class. I would be very interested in knowing if that impression is true.

The two selection processes that I mentioned (people who fight stay home/wealthier and more educated people are more likely to move) produce migrant populations that will likely be less likely to be incarcerated or rely on public services. However, war and internal conflict has complex effects on society and it may be the case that selection effects produce populations that have high incarceration rates and might be less well off economically.

Still, this would not dampen my enthusiasm for open borders. Refugee crises are the exception, not the norm, in immigration. Most immigration brings people who seek work and opportunity. Even in the case of refugee migration, I would be hesitant to stop their movement. As I note above, there are reasons to think refugee populations are above average due to selection effects. But even if that weren’t the case, the benefits to be gained (e.g., not dying) really outweigh the likely modest strain on public services.

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50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

August 17, 2020 at 4:52 pm

Posted in uncategorized

in memory of primo pisares

My father in law, Primo Pisares of Salinas, California, passed away at the age of 84. Here is his obituary at the Struve and La Porte Memorial Chapel. Thank you.

++++++
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

July 24, 2020 at 5:58 pm

Posted in uncategorized

open borders talk on youtube + blogcation

Hi, everyone:

I will be taking a break from public writing for a few weeks. In the meanwhile, feel free to watch the recent panel with Ilya Somin and Daniel Morales on the legal foundations of open borders.

Sincerely,

Fabio

++++++
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

July 21, 2020 at 3:16 pm

Posted in uncategorized

get more jensen

+++++++
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

July 19, 2020 at 6:56 pm

Posted in uncategorized

defense for the “open” position during covid

On Twitter, my good friend Mike Bader asked me if I still believed that “opening” is a good thing. My answer is yes. Roughly speaking, I believe that most institutions should try to resume normal operations and we should end most versions of the lock down.

In this post, I will explain my position in some detail. Here is the argument in brief, then I will explain the different parts below.

  1. Public policy should usually be focused on understanding trade offs and assessing risk. Totally eliminating a problem is often not technically viable or it has very large costs. Public policy should explore low cost partial solutions rather than seek perfect solutions.
  2. In understanding COVID risk, I focus less on case numbers, because they are ambiguous and there is a wide variation in terms of the impact on individual lives. Instead, I focus on mortality.
  3. We will likely have multiple waves of COVID if it is similar to other epidemics in US and world history.
  4. COVID is extremely dangerous for elderly people, but not for most other people. Deaths seem to be disproportionately concentrated in nursing homes.
  5. There are reasonable way to drastically reduce COVID transmission that do not entail more severe lockdown measures: remove people from nursing homes; wearing masks; avoid large gatherings.
  6. The level of COVID mortality is in the range of previous epidemics (except Spanish flu, which was way higher) and similar in magnitude to other risks that we already live with.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by fabiorojas

July 16, 2020 at 12:52 am

Posted in uncategorized

medieval jolene

++++++++
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

July 12, 2020 at 4:01 pm

Posted in uncategorized

open borders: a free webinar with daniel morales and ilya somin on july 16th, 1pm est

On July 16th, at 1pm, we will have a 1 hour discussion/Q&A with legal eagles Daniel Moral and Ilya Morales. The topic will be the legal theory for open borders. Participants will have the chance to ask their own questions. It is free and all you have to do is sign up here.

Be there or be square!!!

++++++++
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

July 8, 2020 at 6:18 pm

Posted in uncategorized

contexts and the police insurance bill

A general view of an NYPD SUV on patrol in the Harlem section of New York, NY

The New York Post reported today that the NY state assembly is considering a bill to require officers to buy their own insurance to cover misconduct claims:

Biaggi’s proposal would require each officer to obtain individual liability insurance. The city or other local governments would still be required to cover the basic insurance policy to cover tort litigation costs.

But Biaggi said her bill would better hold officers accountable by requiring them to pay any increase in premiums related to payouts for wrongdoing.

“Officers who have misconduct claims brought against them may see their premium go up and will be required to pay those costs. The purpose of this bill is to establish a financial disincentive for police misconduct and create accountability for abhorrent behavior,” she said.

Between July 2017 and June 2018, New York City paid out $230 million in 6,472 cases for alleged misconduct or alleged wrongdoing by officers, according to a report released by city Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office.

Wow.

Contexts has a policy brief by Rarkimm Fields on exactly this policy. Read it here. The main issue is that many reforms that aim to reduce police misconduct don’t work terribly well. So making officers invest in insurance is a way to restructure incentives in a more positive way. I am very pleased that Contexts was one voice that promoted this reform. Check it out.

++++++++
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

July 7, 2020 at 4:34 pm

Posted in uncategorized

i loves you porgy (botti edition, indiana special)

++++++++
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

July 5, 2020 at 12:55 am

Posted in uncategorized