Thursday, November 15, 2007

Strange Questions

Percentage of Americans who know someone named Kevin: 67.

Source: 2006 General Social Survey

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Who Upholds the Constitution?

According to the 2006 General Social Survey, a shockingly small percentage of Americans uphold the rights granted to them by the Constitution. Only the nation's African Americans are unwilling to give the government free rein in the War on Terror.

More than one-third of African Americans have personally experienced an abuse of power by government authorities. Thirty-seven percent of blacks say they have been unfairly stopped by police, according to one survey. This might explain why blacks are more likely than whites to support the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Blacks are much less likely than whites to believe the government should have the right to randomly stop and search people on the street. More than two-thirds of blacks (68 percent) say the government probably or definitely should not have the right to do this, according to the 2006 General Social Survey. Among whites, a smaller 56 percent think authorities probably or definitely should not have the right to randomly stop and search people on the street.

Blacks are much more likely than whites to object to the government's tapping of people's telephone conversations, with 59 percent saying the government probably or definitely should not have the right to do this. In contrast, only 40 percent of whites think the government should be prohibited from tapping telephone lines.

Blacks, but not whites, also uphold the principal of habeas corpus. The 53 percent majority of blacks think the authorities should not have the right to detain people for as long as they want without a trial. Among whites, only 43 percent think the government should not be allowed to throw people in jail indefinitely.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Parents Are in a Frenzy

Test scores alone are no longer enough to get your kid into the top tier colleges. College admissions officials now demand extracurriculars on top of good grades and high test scores. What a boondoggle for the rich.

Affluent parents have lunged at the chance to improve their children's resumes by signing them up for sports, clubs, and lessons. According to the latest Census Bureau report on children's well-being, the percentage of teenagers from the highest income families (with annual incomes of $72,000 or more) who participate in extracurriculars has soared. The percentage in sports climbed from 54 to 59 percent between 2003 and 2004 (the latest data available). The percentage in clubs increased from 42 to 51 percent. The percentage taking lessons grew from 40 to 46 percent.

Left behind are the nation's poor. A shrinking share of teenagers from the lowest-income families (annual incomes below $18,000) participate in extracurriculars. Only 22 percent are in sports, 20 percent are in clubs, and 16 percent take lessons. What prevents poor children from participating? Money, for one. Poor families cannot afford the fees. Transportation is another factor. Many poor children do not have a car or driver available. Time is the third factor. Single parents head many poor families, and they have little free time to chauffeur their children from one activity to another.

Too bad for them. The gap between rich and poor is growing, aided and abetted by the nation's college admissions policies.

For more about the well-being of the nation's children see the Census Bureau report A Child's Day.