Friday Ephemera
Where She Blows

Elsewhere (76)

From the vaults, Theodore Dalrymple on why prison works:

[Former Justice Secretary, Ken] Clarke was quite right to say that short prison sentences are not effective but, with the practised lack of logic of a man who has spent far too long in politics for the good of his own mind, he has drawn precisely the wrong conclusions from it. His error will cause much unnecessary suffering. There are indeed many arguments against short sentences. The recidivism rate after such sentences are completed is very high. They pose large administrative costs on the prison system. They do not reassure victims that the suffering or loss inflicted upon them by criminals has been taken seriously by the state. They discourage and demoralise the police, who labour mightily, if mainly bureaucratically, to procure a conviction for very little result. They promote intimidation of witnesses…

But it is quite wrong to suppose that if something is not very effective it has no effect at all. Short prison sentences are ineffective by comparison with long ones, but that is not to say that they are ineffective by comparison with no prison sentences at all. It is a fact that a large proportion of crimes are committed by a relatively small number of people. It is not unusual for career criminals to commit a hundred or more offences a year. Therefore, keeping them in prison for six weeks, say, prevents the commission of 12 crimes. Of course, if they were kept in prison for four years, 400 crimes would be prevented. But it is better to prevent 12 crimes than no crimes at all.

See also this

Christina Hoff Sommers on the alleged gender pay gap:

The 2007 report does give readers the impression that millennial women are facing serious workplace discrimination. But buried on page 18, we find this qualification: “After controlling for all the factors known to affect earnings, college-educated women earn about 5 percent less than college-educated men earn. Thus, while discrimination cannot be measured directly, it is reasonable to assume that this pay gap is the product of discrimination.” As Steve Chapman noted in Reason, “Another way to put it is that three-quarters of the gap clearly has innocent causes - and that we actually don’t know whether discrimination accounts for the rest.”

And Jeff Goldstein ponders Obama’s hipster mythology:  

To me, Obama was never cool, was never substantive, was never a man of gravitas, was never capable of being the post-political, post-racial healer he was sold as. Instead, he was a man of constructs and mannered rhetorical tics; a man of tone, not of ideas. He was a fraud, and to those who don’t find comfort in belonging to a hipster ethos — which is no different than belonging to, say, a chess club or band camp, only on a grander scale — he was a fraud who was trying to turn statism and tyranny into the new cool, the new black, if you will… None of these attacks on individual sovereignty were ever cool or hip. Rather, they were an attempt to turn collectivism into a hipster pose, and reduce individualism to a superficial denial of certain truths: namely, that you didn’t build that, you aren’t ever going to be self-reliant, and that rugged individualism is a punch line, as trite and G-rated as an episode of Little House on the Prairie. What happened that turned conformist statists chanting Obama’s name into the epitome of cultural hipness? What made submission to the state an act of supposed defiance of The Man?

Feel free to add your own links and snippets in the comments.