Sunday, May 29, 2016

Annals of Derp: Douthat Gets a Head Start

Monsignor Ross Douthat, Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, has stopped calling the Trump a would-be "caudillo"—I guess his confessor must have gotten to him and explained carefully that to a properly conservative Catholic, caudillo means the "Caudillo by the Grace of God" Generalísimo Franco and not a bad guy, just because he didn't care for elections or trade unions or people speaking languages other than Castellano. (He's been proclaimed a saint by Pope Gregory XVII of the Palmarian Catholic Church, whatever that is). Unless you're one of those Vatican II modernists and heretics, in which case you probably think saints shouldn't be sponsoring torture and rape, death squad killings, concentration camps and political penal colonies, stealing children from their parents, and medical experiments meant to "establish the bio-psych roots of Marxism".

Now he's calling Trump something new—
Donald Trump is many things — man’s man, ladies’ man, strength-worshiping Poujadist.
The link there doesn't work (the fact that it hasn't been repaired suggests that nobody ever checks out Ross's links, which doesn't surprise me); it's meant to go to the Wikipedia biography of the mid–20th-century "populist" politician Pierre Poujade, who was the scourge of the Fourth French Republic, with his Union de Défense des Commerçants et Artisans (Union for the Defense of Shopkeepers and Artisans), a forerunner of today's Front National (the youngest member of parliament after the 1956 elections was none other than a 28-year-old Jean-Marie Le Pen, head of the Poujadiste youth wing).

Poujade's UDCA was meant to represent the French petite bourgeoisie against the elites of the Parisian Grandes Écoles and especially against the contribuable or social security tax that funds the French welfare state. It was anti-intellectual (Poujade boasted about his lack of formal education), pro-colonial (angry at France's ongoing loss of Indochina and Algeria), and xenophobe. In short very much a typical American Republican, with the obvious differences of time and place (Poujade was especially exercised by a Jewish prime minister, Pierre Mendès-France, US Republicans are driven mad by an African-American president).

Yes, Trump's a kind of Poujadiste, but he's not alone.

Today's device for endorsing Trump while continuing to pretend he's not endorsing Trump is in the Safirian form of offering himself up as a Trump speechwriter, or in this case debate coach, suggesting lines Trump could use in debates this fall, on the example of how he might attack Clinton's plans to approach or achieve universal pre-K:

Clinton: “… been fighting for working families for my entire career. That’s why I have a detailed plan to offer tax credits that make day care affordable. I’ll double funding for Head Start. I’ll partner with states to expand universal pre-K. And I’ll guarantee 12 weeks of paid family leave.”
Moderator: “Mr. Trump?”
Trump: “We are not winning. America is not winning. And here comes — this is typical, folks — here comes Crooked Hillary, and of course she wants America to become more like France....”
One of the things Trump needs to do, naturally, is reference Monsignor Douthat:
“I love women. I love women. Ask anyone who worked for me — I love successful women. But Hillary’s plan won’t help women succeed. The policies she’s talking about, they’re losing policies. They’re bad for women who want to do big things. Businesses don’t promote them, they put them on the mommy track. I talk to so many business people, I know. French women don’t get promoted the way they do here — that’s a fact. They don’t get promoted the way they do in my company, which you know is one the most successful companies in the world.
Link to the Monsignor's blog, and a stunningly dishonest citation of a Slate article by Claire Lundberg, who lives in France and was disappointed in 2013 after she'd had a kid and found it difficult to find a job there afterwards (she wasn't trying to get back to an old job; her LinkedIn profile says she's been running her own consulting business nonstop since January 2011), and in turn cited the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Report for 2012 ranking France at #57 compared to the US #22 without noting that
  • the French numbers were 48 in 2011, 46 in 2010, 16 in 2009, 15 in 2008, and 51 in 2007, without explanation of the discrepancy (the US rank for the same years was 17, 19, 31, 27, and 31 respectively), which doesn't raise a lot of confidence in the way they're calculated—in the most recent rankings, for 2015, France is at #15 and the US at #28, and in 2014 they were France #16 and US #20, so they may be starting to achieve some consistency, in a way that makes Douthat's hypothesis look like a serious loser;
  • France's universal preschool isn't a reason for the gender gap in employment, as most of the countries that consistently rate highest in the WEF and other rankings also have universal preschool—Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, Philippines (#9 in 2015),  and Belgium; while Nicaragua (#6 in 2015) and Rwanda (#7) are making determined efforts to get there;
  • the same goes for Lundberg's citation of The Economist's Glass-Ceiling Index for 2013, where France ranked "slightly higher" than 57th at #11—and the US ranked #12.
What else you got?

You look at Europe — which by the way, Hillary doesn’t want you to do — you look at Europe, and you see fewer women in management than in America, fewer women in professional jobs. You see fewer women C.E.O.s. On a ranking — a really prestigious ranking, really great — America came out better for women’s economic opportunity than the countries, Sweden and Denmark and the other ones, all the countries that Hillary wants to become.”
Where both links, the first indirectly through Foreign Policy magazine, and the second directly, are to the same 2012 WEF report, though in fact the Foreign Policy one—
Indeed, the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranks the United States eighth globally on gender equality in economic participation and opportunity, ahead of Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Iceland
—is about just one of the subindexes used in the report, and the seven countries ahead of the US are Mongolia, Burundi, Bahamas, Norway, Malawi, Lesotho, and Luxembourg, in that order. (In 2015, they didn't use an indicator for opportunity, but in labor force participation the US ranked #51 and France #35. I could add, since I'm not interested in hiding anything, that the US was terrible in wage equality, at #74, but France catastrophic at #132 or just two from the bottom.)

So that's the Monsignor's advice on how the Trump can make himself look wonky: if there's just one four-year-old source that makes you look right, cite it as often as you can, pretending it's a different source each time.

Oh, and then he does get to the early childhood education question itself toward the end:

Trump: “The working families — I love the workers, the workers love me — need policies that work. Head Start doesn’t work. The studies, the best studies, by the smartest people, they all agree. It. Doesn’t. Work. Universal child care, this economist, by the way an economist who worked for President Obama, he did a study of universal child care in Quebec, where by the way they speak French. Didn’t work. Kids in the program did worse, committed more crimes, made less money. Same with universal pre-K: Big study, in Kentucky, I mean Tennessee, showed it didn’t do anything. Bad outcomes. Bad.
The evidence on Head Start—an unsourced assertion by Joe Klein, who does not generally qualify as "the best studies", "the smartest people", or "all",  in Time Magazine, July 2011—refers to the finding of the HHS Head Start Impact Study in 2010 that the positive effects of the Head Start program tended not to show up on children's third-grade test scores. It missed some crucial biases that came out of the way the study was implemented
First, not all children followed the random assignment—some assigned to Head Start did not attend, some assigned to the control group went to Head Start–actual effects are 50 percent larger than the critics acknowledge for this reason alone.  Second, control group children also attended other preschool programs pushing the underestimation even higher.  
—as well as the fact that the measurable effects of such programs always seem to vanish around third grade and then begin to rebound, with the most important and long-lasting ones showing up in adulthood by such measures as earnings—
the benefits of early education which appear to dissipate on standardized tests in grade school reemerge in adulthood through increased adult earnings, perhaps because long-term benefits are mediated by family stability or social-emotional strengths that are not assessed on third grade tests.
—and health, at least as long as 30 years later. Confirming results that have been available since 2000, in a 17-year study of poor children in Colorado and Florida. Head Start has profound and valuable effects, though not as much as more intensive (and expensive) programs such as the Carolina Abecedarian Project which assessed its students into their mid-30s and found that
Through age 15, I.Q. scores for the children who received the birth-to-age-5 Abecedarian intervention were higher than those of the randomly assigned control group. The Abecedarian children also scored higher on achievement tests in math and reading during their elementary and secondary school years. In addition, they had lower levels of grade retention and fewer placements in special education classes....
At age 30, the treated group was more likely to hold a bachelor’s degree, hold a job, and delay parenthood, among other positive differences from their peers. Age 35 brought blockbuster findings about health....
The Abecedarian Project also brought unmistakable advantages for the teenage mothers with children in the study. By the time their children were 4½ years old, these mothers were more likely to have finished high school and undergone post-secondary training, more likely to be self-supporting, and less likely to have more children. Additional training, employment experience, and education led to increased earnings and decreased reliance on social assistance, all of which were important factors when independent economists calculated cost-benefit ratios for the project.
The economic benefit was clear. For every dollar spent on the program, taxpayers saved $2.50 as a result of higher incomes, less need for educational and government services, and reduced health care costs.
But you just keep listening to Joe Klein.

From the National Head Start Association 2015 update on the Head Start Impact Study
The "economist who worked for President Obama" is none other than the notorious Jonathan Gruber, who served as a technical consultant on the drafting of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2009-10. He was just one of three authors of the Quebec study, and it didn't say what Douthat thinks it did. I wrote a big old piece on this last September, which you can check out if you like. And that Tennessee study of voluntary pre-K has only reported on a third of the children in the study to date, observes some programs that are of dubious quality, and assessed the effects only by the third-grade test results, again.

More on the research consensus on the value of early childhood education, and the reason state governments have been so pleased with the Obama initiative to provide some federal funding for it, here. In the meantime,
TRUMP:  Ross, those talking points for my first debate with Crooked Hillary? You did horribly. I can't use them. I can't even read them! And you got my voice all wrong, I never talk like that! Dummy! You're fired!
Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.


Unknown said...

My response to Cardinal Douthat VIA Hillary Clinton: "So Dickless Donald you have has 4 bankruptcies. At least 13 business failures that we knew about. We just discovered you had a failed "Trump Modeling Agency" HA HA HA Trump Modeling Agency???? 3 wives and you are such a "Ladies man". So Donald how many abortions you paid for in your life?"

Unknown said...

Too many facts! (echoing the emperor's complaint to Mozart, "Too many notes!") Good stuff. Glad to hear that Head Start has a lasting effect.

Victor said...

At least when Bill "WRONG AGAIN!" Kristol held that seat on the NYT's Op-ed page, he was good for some shits & giggles.

Douche-hat is not at all funny.

I'm almost afraid to complain, since the next step down for the NY Times, is either Jonah Goldberg, or the brainless conservative sycophants a Breitbart.