24 March 2023

Marriage v. Cohabitation In England

This post recaps an answer I provided on marriage v. cohabitation in the U.K. that I made at Law.SE while stripping away parts that are irrelevant in the context of a blog post.

U.K. Law Is Mostly Not Uniform On This Subject

Unless otherwise clearly indicated, I am referring solely to the law of England and Wales. Most laws related to rights incident to marriage are not uniform in the U.K. Instead, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and England and Wales, each have their own separate laws on these subjects, although the differences between them are more differences of detail than of broad conceptual structure at a "forest" level. All references to England below are to England and Wales whether this is expressly stated or not.

Who Is Compared?

The comparison I am making is generally between married people and unmarried cohabitants, as the law that applies between total strangers isn't really analogous in most cases. (Even though it is theoretically possible to have a married couple that never significantly cohabitates.)

While the question is specific to a couple with children, formal rights in relation to the children of a couple are only slightly different in theory. But, as discussed below, the limited size of child support payments make the differences between married couples with and without children in divorce cases, significant anyway because there is a right to property division and spousal maintenance in addition to child support for married couples but not for unmarried couples.

Marriage v. Civil Partnerships In England

In most, if not all, circumstances, couples in a "civil partnership" receive the same legal treatment as married couples in English law, and you may assume that they are mostly equivalent for the purposes described below. England also has same sex marriage, but a significant number of civil partnerships, most entered into between 2004 when they become available and 2013 when same sex marriage was allowed, remain in existence and have not been converted into marriages.

Getting Married And Ending A Marriage

Common Law Marriage v. Formal Marriage

Despite being the source of the doctrine historically, England no longer has "common law marriage". Common law marriage was abolished in England in the Marriage Act (1753), although it wasn't as clearly established as it is now in common law marriage jurisdictions even before then. An unmarried couple can now become a legally married couple in England and Wales only by filling out the proper government forms and presenting them to the proper government officials.

According to the same source, Scotland began formal marriage registration in 1855 (which was previously documents only by the church) and once had four forms of "irregular marriage", three of which were abolished prospectively (i.e. new marriages could not be formed in this way) in 1940, and the last of which was abolished prospectively in 2006. Common law marriage outside of England and Wales, when it did exist elsewhere in the British Commonwealth, was or became closer to the Scots law practice than the historical English practice. Other parts of the British Commonwealth and United Kingdom mostly also abolished common law marriage, but did so later than England did. India, however, has a legal doctrine quite similar to common law marriage today as a legacy of British law, for members of some religions, and Australia, Canada, and Ireland have recognized somewhat similar concepts by statute or local case law innovations. Notably, common law marriage had not been abolished in the American colonies at the time that the United States gained independence in 1776 (although it took a while for the British to diplomatically recognize this political reality).

In the time period from 1753 to 2006, the formalities required to get married were more lax in Scotland than in England, so it was common in that time period for couples for whom the formalities of the English marriage system were inconvenient to travel to Scotland to marry. In addition to the reality of this situation, this is a prominent feature in many fictional novels set in this time period. As a result, there is an ample case law in English and Scottish courts over choice of law issues related to this reality. This case law was referred to regularly in the late 19th century and early 20th century by U.S. courts addressing choice of law issues related to marriage and divorce, particularly in cases involving marriages and divorces entered into in Mexico and the Caribbean in an effort to evade legal restrictions present in the home states of the couples involved.

In most circumstances, however, the law of England and Wales will recognize the validity of a marriage which was legally entered into under the law of the place where the marriage where it was entered into, even if that marriage didn't comply with English law regarding what is necessary to get married.

Terminating A Marriage In England Then And Now

Also, like all other common law jurisdictions (and so far as I know, all other civil law jurisdictions), but unlike the situations in Islamic law, it is impossible in England and Wales to end a validly existing marriage by any means other than the death of a spouse or a court order decreeing that the marriage has been dissolved. Also, if a couple was not validly married, even though there could reasons someone might think that they were validly married, a court can clarify the situation by annulling a putative marriage.

Historically, since England Christianized for the last time (after becoming almost entirely pagan after Anglo-Saxon invasions by the end of the 6th century that had been preceded by partial Christianization). The restoration of Christianity in England began about 600 CE, and had run its course well before the Norman invasion of 1066 CE, which is at the root of the modern English legal system. Divorce was then prohibited in England until the Anglican Church broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in 1532 in the English Reformation.

The first Christian era marriage in England terminated by divorce since long before the Norman invasion in England was in the case of King Henry VIII's marriage to Anne which was terminated in 1552. The next divorce in England took place no earlier than 1670 (although there were a handful of aristocratic annulments in that time period), and divorce was only available by parliamentary decree until 1857 when the Matrimonial Causes Act (1857) was enacted, with just 324 divorces granted by parliament from 1670 to 1857. The same source notes that:
Only four of the 324 cases were brought by women. A husband needed to prove adultery to obtain a divorce. By contrast, a wife was required to prove adultery and some other especially aggravating circumstance to have the same grounds. Over the years, women learned that brutality, rape, desertion and financial chicanery did not count. 
Under the 1857 Act divorce could be granted on the grounds of marital fault, for which adultery by itself sufficed for a man seeking a divorce and adultery by a husband together with cruelty, or rape and/or incest of someone else was required for a wife seeking a judicial divorce. Then according to the same source:
A private members’ bill in 1923 made it easier for women to petition for divorce for adultery – but it still had to be proved. In 1937, the law was changed and divorce was allowed on other grounds, including drunkenness, insanity and desertion, although there was a bar on petitions for the first three years of the marriage.
Divorce remained particularly rare even after judicial divorce was authorized, especially prior to the 1923 reforms in English divorce law:
In the first decade of the 20th century, there was just one divorce for every 450 marriages. . . . it was not until the Divorce Reform Act 1969 that they reached the level we are familiar with today. This legislation marked an important shift not merely because it added further grounds for divorce, on the basis of two years' separation with the other party's consent, or five years' without, but because it removed the concept of ‘matrimonial offences' and hence the idea of divorce as a remedy for the innocent against the guilty. Today, there are just two marriages for every divorce each year.
Finally, starting in April 2022 the divorce regime there became an almost fully no-fault divorce regime. So, basically, either member of a married couple can unilaterally divorce at will, without that five year waiting period required from 1969 to 2021, but with still having the economic consequences discussed below.

Ummarried Couples Compared

Unmarried couples can break up at will, and court intervention is only available to resolve specific disputes over title to specific property, child custody type issues, and child support type issues, which married couples if they broke up would address in a divorce case. If unmarried couples resolve all issues of property division, child custody, and child support by mutual agreement without ever having resorted to court intervention, court involvement in their break up is not required at all. As noted here:
In response to the increase in cohabitation, several legal changes were made in the UK in recent years. In Scotland, the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 provides cohabitants with some limited rights. [ed. England does not currently have similar legislation in force.]

In addition, since 2003 in England and Wales, 2002 in Northern Ireland, and 2006 in Scotland, an unmarried father has parental responsibility if he is listed on the birth certificate. . . .

While 49% of cohabiting couples that aren't married or in a civil partnership believe they have rights under a 'common law marriage', common law marriage has no legal standing in England and Wales. Cohabiting couples aren't automatic beneficiaries or have protections regarding non-joint bank accounts, mortgages, tenancies or pensions, unless the other person is explicitly mentioned as a joint account holder or in the terms as a beneficiary, for example in the event of death.
Notable Legal Implications Of Marriage In England and Wales

I'll list only a sampling of the legal incidents of marriage which are now, or have historically been, among the most important (some of which have been repealed but are mentioned because many people are not aware that the historic legal situation is no longer the case):

1. Paternity

Marriage creates a strong legal presumption (which is in some cases rebuttable) that children born to a married woman are children of her husband:
Until officially declared otherwise, a man is deemed to be a child’s legal father if he is married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth[.]
2. Rape

England no longer recognizes an immunity between spouses for rape. Spousal rape is a crime in England just as it would be for non-married cohabitants.

3. Duty of Support

A spouse has a duty to economically support a current spouse (beyond child support), while unmarried cohabitants do not have a duty of support to each other.
If your partner won't support you, you can ask a court to order them to support you.
When it was nearly impossible or at least very difficult to get legally divorced, this right was used in about a dozen cases a year, almost always by women, often in the form of a lawsuit seeking divortium a mensa et thoro ("separation from bed and board") in the canon law courts of the Anglican Church, usually on the basis of adultery or life threatening cruelty and usually with the woman receiving regular spousal maintenance but losing all custody of her children as a result unless there were extenuating circumstances.

These days, most spouses who are not being supported simply get divorced and receive spousal maintenance and a share of marital property (and possibly child support as well), instead, so the right to bring a lawsuit to enforce this right has largely fallen into dessitude and is rarely utilized in practice. The doctrine is mostly used to justify policies in other areas of the law that assume spouses provide economic support for each other (which they usually do even though this right is rarely enforced with lawsuits).

4. Property Rights During Marriage

During a marriage, the property rights of spouses are essentially identical to those of non-spouse cohabitants.

This is as a result of the Married Women's Property Act (1870) which abolished the doctrine of coverture (which treated a husband and wife as a single economic unit managed by the husband) in England and Wales.

During the marriage title to property controls who owns and controls property in England and Wales for the vast majority of purposes for members of the married couple, just as it does for unmarried cohabiting couples, even though title may be disregarded for married couples in a divorce, and in some cases in connection with inheritance rights.

As discussed in Part 9 below, England and Wales does not have a "community property" regime that is effective during the course of a marriage (although it might recognize the "community property" character of property acquired during a marriage while the couple lived in a community property jurisdiction for some purposes.

5. Income Taxation

Marriage has income tax implications in he U.K.:
If you’re married or in a civil partnership

You may be able to claim Marriage Allowance to reduce your partner’s tax if your income is less than the standard Personal Allowance.
6. Government Benefits, Pensions, And Employee Benefits

Marriage is relevant to rights under some government benefit including "welfare", programs, but the details are too numerous to set forth here. Likewise, marital status is frequently relevant to the rules for public and private pension plans, and sometimes for other public and private sector employee benefit plans as well.

One isolated area where cohabitation can confer rights similar to marriage, however, is in English Social Security laws:
Social security law

Living together has been part of the law since the beginning of the modern welfare state in 1948. The term "Living together as husband and wife" was introduced from 4 April 1977 to mean the same as "cohabiting with a man as his wife" which was used before that date. The term is now "living together as a married couple".

To be regarded as "living together as a married couple" or cohabitating, there are various questions to consider. The question of cohabitation should take into consideration all the six questions, and looking at the relationship as a whole.
Additional details on the six factor test for recognition of an unmarried couple for English Social Security benefits purposes can be found here.

7. Court Testimony

Historically, England had a privilege that excluded from evidence in court cases certain testimony from spouses against each other and certain testimony about confidential communications between spouses. This has now been abolished:
The form of privilege, restricting the admissibility into evidence of communications between spouses during a marriage, existed in English law from 1853 until it was abolished in 1968 (for civil cases) and in 1984 (for criminal cases).
The testimonial part of the spousal privilege was mostly abolished in the late 1800s with further clarification through 1984 in certain domestic violence settings.

8. Immigration

Spousal status is relevant to an immigration application when one spouse is a British subject and the other is not:
Also known as a UK marriage visa, a spouse visa allows married partners of UK citizens to immigrate to the UK because they are married to someone who is 'settled in the UK' - i.e. a person who is ordinarily resident in the UK and has no immigration restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK.
9. Rights Upon A Divorce Or Breakup

As a practical matter, differing rights if the couple breaks up are the single most important difference between being a cohabiting unmarried couple with kids and a married couple with kids.

The difference matters because the less affluent member of the couple gets a much better deal upon a break up if the couple is married than if they couple is not married. The strong rights of a less affluent member of a couple primarily matter because this makes it economically safer for a woman in married couple who has kids to sacrifice her own economic prospects to focus on those kids than for a woman who is an unmarried cohabitant. This also matters because the economic incentive for a husband not to divorce a wife who is economically dependent upon him is much stronger than the economic incentive for an unmarried cohabitant boyfriend/father to not break up with an unmarried cohabitant girlfriend/mother.

Upon divorce, a divorced spouse is entitled to share of the couple's property and/or spousal maintenance (a.k.a. alimony) in excess of child support, which are far in excess of the rights of a non-spouse cohabitant, especially in the case of a long marriage in which the couple's wealth has grown during the marriage.

Non-spousal cohabitants who split up divide their property based upon title to property and have no spousal maintenance obligations to each other so only child support (if applicable) is at issue. Child support and custody are still present between unmarried cohabitants or co-parents who have children together.

In the arena of property division, England does not have what in the U.S. is called "community property". 

There is, instead, a distinction between marital property acquired during the marriage and separate property, and England and Wales has an "equitable division" regime rather than one in which there is a fixed percentage right of each spouse, and marital property rights remain inchoate (rather than vested and presenting existing) until death or divorce. If a property settlement is not reached by mutual agreement a court considers factors including:
  • Each partner’s individual assets
  • Contributions to the marriage or civil partnership, both financially and emotionally
  • Time out of the workplace
  • Earning capacity
  • Standard of living before the break-up
  • Requirements such as catering for disabilities
  • Length of marriage
  • How old you both are
In practice, the fact that a couple has children together also tends to influence what is equitable in a property division.

The presence or absence of spousal maintenance greatly impacts the practical effect of a split up for a couple with children who are married v. a couple with children who are not married. A marital property settlement and spousal maintenance in addition to child support makes life a lot easier for a less affluent ex-spouse than child support alone.

10. Inheritance

Upon death, a surviving spouse has inheritance rights different from and greater than a non-spouse cohabitant, in the estate of the deceased spouse.

Generally speaking, if there is no will, a spouse has significant inheritance rights, while a non-spouse cohabitant does not. There are also legal limitations on the extent to which a spouse can be denied an inheritance even if there is a will.

While in general, a spouse has testamentary freedom to disinherit a spouse in English law (unlike the vqst majority of U.S. and civil law jurisdictions), in England, the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act (1975) "sets out categories of people that have the legal standing to challenge another person's Will on the basis that they have not been left reasonable financial provision."

Spouses also have greater rights at death than unmarried cohabitants with regard to management of a probate estate of a decedent partner and disposition of a partner's body, at least in the absence of estate planning documents to the contrary.

Transfers to a spouse at death are also exempt from inheritance taxation.

Marital status is also highly relevant in England to the rules for succession to aristocratic titles and for the titles of someone who is married to someone with an aristocratic title. While English law normally makes little or no distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children (which is a function of whether their parents were married), in the area of succession to aristocratic titles and eligibility for titles that imply marriage to someone with an aristocratic title (like the former Queen's Consort), the distinction between married couples and their children, and unmarried couples and their children is very important.

11. Incapacity

Unlike most U.S. jurisdictions, marriage does not, in and of itself, grant strong rights relative to a cohabitating partner, to a role in medical decision making or guardianship proceedings in England.

An adult's "next of kin" is generally their spouse or civil partnership partner, which is not automatic in the case of a cohabitating partner. But, the rights associated with next of kin status are generally limited to notice or information until another basis to be involved in decision-making is established:
As far as the law is concerned next of kin means nothing with the exception of children aged under 18. The next of kin of a child under 18 may be legally entitled to make decisions for or on behalf of the child.

The term usually means your nearest blood relative. In the case of a married couple or a civil partnership it usually means their husband or wife.

Next of kin is a title that can be given, by you, to anyone from your partner to blood relatives and even friends. It is also possible to name more than one person as your next of kin. This is a title that is primarily used in order for emergency services to know who to keep informed about an individual’s condition and treatment.

This means that you have no legal rights as a result of this title. This can create difficulties if you haven’t put additional measures in place to manage your relative or loved one’s affairs. If you do not have any legal rights, you cannot make decisions on their behalf.
Similarly, pretty much anyone can be appointed to be an adult's guardian in England, with no absolute priority for a spouse or a blood family member over a cohabitating partner or any other person expressing interest in the care of an incapacitated person. Marriage is just one factor among many considered in a fairly wholistic manner when deciding between competing applications to serve as someone's guardian.

Cohabitation Post-Divorce By A Formerly Married Couple

A married couple with children that gets divorced and then cohabits post-divorce are not on quite the same footing as a cohabiting couple with children who have never married.

The starting point in such a couple for the rights of the former spouses vis-a-vis each other begins with the divorce decree and any incorporated settlement between the spouses in connection with the divorce. Provisions related to child custody and child support may be modified over time as the children grow and circumstances change. In some unusual but not unheard of circumstances, spousal support duties arising from the prior marriage can be imposed long after the divorce even if spousal support was not immediately imposed at the time of the divorce or was only nominal at that time.

Provisions related to court ordered child custody arrangements, child support, and spousal support normally continue in force until they are spent by the their own terms (e.g. when the children become adults or spousal support established for a fixed time period ends), are modified by a later court order, or the couple remarries.

It is uncommon, but not completely unheard of, for the children of a couple for whom child custody arrangements have been imposed between unmarried coparents or in a divorce at one point, to ever cease to be subject to some sort of court order related to child custody.

Court orders related to children or spousal maintenance cannot normally be adjusted by mutual agreement after a divorce without court intervention.

Remarriage will generally abrogate and cause to become void all provisions in a divorce decree, settlement, or post-divorce court order related to the children, and all provisions with spousal maintenance, while the property ownership and debt obligations of the parties to the remarriage restart from scratch at whatever state they were in immediately prior to the remarriage. Sometimes a remarriage after a divorce legitimatizes the paternity of children born between the marriages.

First Marriages Of A Cohabiting Couple With Children

When a cohabiting couple with children marry, they have all of the incidents of a married couple.

Sometimes, but not always, this will help establish the father's paternity of their children. Court orders related to the custody and child support of their shared children will usually be dissolved (I don't know if any formal legal action is required to do this or not).

Property acquired by the couple prior to marrying while cohabiting will generally be separate property owned by the spouse who was in title to that property prior to getting married.

In a subsequent divorce of that couple, the length of the marriage will not include the full time of their cohabitation, but their cohabitation prior to marriage is a factor which a divorce judge is not prohibited from considering entirely in making an equitable division of marital property and in awarding spousal maintenance.

23 March 2023

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is In Denver Politics

It will soon be a matter of public record anyway, but I have made donations to each of the candidates and issue committees that I have endorsed in Denver's 2023 municipal election.

The Smallest U.S. Nuclear Weapon

The smallest U.S. nuclear weapon ever developed, the W-54, had a minimum yield of “only” 10 tons of TNT equivalent (0.01 kilotons) and could be carried by a single soldier in an (awkwardly large) backpack. Such a weapon was deliberately made as a “bridge” between conventional and nuclear explosives yields. 
By comparison, the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995 is commonly cited as having been around 2.5 tons of TNT equivalent (0.0025 kilotons). The largest conventional weapons globally (the U.S. MOAB and the Russian FOAB, both fuel-air bombs) have yields in the range of 10-40 tons of TNT equivalent (0.01–0.04 kilotons). 
To put things in perspective, consider one of the most iconic battlefield nuclear weapons, the M65 atomic cannon (you have possibly seen footage or photographs of its testing in 1953). The M65 could fire 280 mm atomic shells to 20 miles or so. The warhead used in the test footage, the W9 warhead, had an explosive yield of 15 kilotons —15,000 tons of TNT equivalent. That is enough explosive power to destroy a medium-sized city, take a chunk out of a major city's downtown area, or damage about 4 square miles anywhere else. As a tactical weapon in the 1950s, the goal would have been to take out Soviet tanks or troop formations, such as those imagined to be streaming through the Fulda Gap in the event of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe. 
But 15 kilotons is the same explosive power as the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 with such devastating effect.  

From here (the numbers related to the Oklahoma City Bombing were corrected from the inaccurate text in the original without editorial indication in the text above).

The Hiroshima A-Bomb weighed 9,700 pounds (including 64 kg of Uranium-235) producing a 13-18 kiloton yield, and the Nagasaki A-Bomb weighed 10,300 pounds (including 6.2 kg of Plutonium-239) producing a 19-23 kiloton yield.

The estimated strength of the explosion at the Port of Beirut [in the year 2020] is 0.3-0.5 kt.

The final weapon was 10.862 inches (275.9 mm) in diameter, 15.716 inches (399.2 mm) in length and 50.9 pounds (23.1 kg) in weight, and was packaged in a fiberglass housing coated in a conductive lacquer to provide an electrical shield.

From Wikipedia

Of the 50.9 pounds of weight, depending upon the version, 26 pounds were high explosives,  3.5 pounds were plutonium, and 5.3 pounds were uranium. The high explosives were the detonator for the nuclear materials.

Wikipedia suggests that the yield was closer to 20 tons than to 10 tons of TNT stated above, which is at the high end of the yield of the most potent heavy bomber carried "bunker buster" bombs, which are the most powerful conventional explosive weapons in military use. 

Minor modifications of essentially the same bomb could have a yield as high as 1,000 tons of TNT, which would be 50 times more powerful.

This 50.9 pound nuclear bomb is about the same size as an infantry carried Javelin anti-tank missile or a Viper Strike small guided bomb for a jet fighter or a main battle tank shell. It is about twice the size of a 3 inch naval gun shell. It is about half the size of a Hellfire missile often carried by U.S. helicopter gunships and drones, or a 155mm howitzer shell, or a British Brimstone anti-tank missile.

But, this small nuclear bomb is roughly 800 times more potent than a conventional weapon of the same size, or alternatively, 800 times lighter than a conventional chemical explosive weapon with the same explosive punch. 

The range of historical nuclear weapon yields is summarized here. The most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated was the the Soviet Tsar Bomba with a yield of 50,000,000 tons of TNT. The most powerful nuclear weapon every deployed by the U.S. military (among the so called "H-bombs") had a yield of 25,000,000 tons of TNT (the Mrk-41 B41 nuclear bomb which weighted 4800 kg), and until 1997 there were nuclear bombs with yields of up to 9,000,000 tons of TNT in the U.S. nuclear arsenal (the B53 nuclear bomb used on a Titan II missile). The most powerful nuclear weapon currently in U.S. service (the B83 nuclear bomb) has a yield of 1,200,000 tons of TNT. 

More typical nuclear warheads in U.S. service have yields of 100,000 tons (the M76 used on Trident II missiles in clusters of 8-12 warheads - with the lower number imposed by treaty), 300,000 tons (the M87 used on Peacekeeper missiles in clusters of 10 warheads), and 475,000 tons (the M88 used on Trident II missiles in clusters of 8-12 warheads - with the lower number imposed by treaty).

So, a single modern U.S. nuclear missile's combined warheads have 40 to more than 160 times the yield of the most powerful nuclear bomb used in World War II by the U.S., even without going beyond treaty limits.

Crudely speaking, the yield from eight to twelve warheads in a single nuclear missile is enough to destroy an entire major metropolitan area, as compared to a WWII A-bomb's ability to "destroy a medium-sized city, take a chunk out of a major city's downtown area, or damage about 4 square miles anywhere else."

It isn't clear how much smaller than 51 pounds a viable nuclear weapon could be made if a serious engineering effort were devoted to doing so. 

If yield could be scaled linearly (which is more optimistic than any really realistic assumption), you could obtain the yield of a Hellfire missile or 155mm howitzer shell, with sufficient punch to destroy a main battle tank, with a "nuclear grenade" of just 2-4 ounces, which would be bigger than a .50 caliber machine gun bullet but smaller than a 30mm cannon/grenade launcher round, and about the same as a 20mm-25mm cannon/grenade launcher round.

22 March 2023

The Largest Lakes In The World

It is worth noting that this is a moving target. For example, Lake Chad has been one of the biggest lakes in the world by far at times, but in the current arid period in the Sahara desert, it has shrunk tremendously.

16 March 2023

Labor Markets With A Dominant Employer Experience Brain Drain

If you are a worker, you will tend to be paid better if you work in a place with multiple suitable employers for someone with your skills. If your good at what you do, on average you will be more likely to move from a place with only one major employer who can employ you to someplace where there is competition to gain access to your skills. 

Company towns, in contrast, tend to depress wages, experience brain drain, and find themselves left with the bottom of the barrel workers. This is good for employers who don't need top quality workers (such as some kinds of factory owners), like Tesla's new battery factory town. But this creates a lose-lose situation for many kinds of employers whose productivity hinges on the high quality of their workers, even though high quality workers are more expensive in a town with competition for the best employees.
Over the last thirty years, there has been a rise in several empirical measures of local labor market monopsony power. The monopsonist has a profit incentive to offer lower wages to local workers. Mobile high skill workers can avoid the lower monopsony wages by moving to other more competitive local labor markets featuring a higher skill price vector. We develop a Roy Model of heterogeneous worker sorting across local labor markets that has several empirical implications. Monopsony markets are predicted to experience a “brain drain” over time. Using data over four decades we document this deskilling associated with local monopsony power. This means that observed cross-sectional wage gaps in monopsony markets partially reflects sorting on worker ability. The rise of work from home may act as a substitute for high-skill worker migration from monopsony markets.
Matthew E. Kahn and Joseph Tracy, "A Human Capital Theory of Who Escapes the Grasp of the Local Monopsonist" NBER Working Paper 31014 (March 2023) DOI 10.3386/w31014

15 March 2023

Terrorism In The United States

All 25 terrorist killings the U.S. in 2022 were committed by domestic right-wing terrorists. 

In the ten years from 2013 to 2022, 75% of 444 extremist caused deaths have been due to right wing extremists (335), 20% have been due to domestic Islamic extremists (about 89), 4% have been due to left wing extremists (about 18), and 1% have been due to other forms of extremism (4) (a single incident which was the 2019 Jersey City, New Jersey, shooting spree by Black Hebrew Israelites David Anderson and Francine Graham, which primarily targeted a Jewish kosher market.)

There have been 14 instances of Islamic terrorism in the United States since World War II mostly resulting in deaths (some not listed in ADL report below) and one or two that didn't result in deaths: 

1. the Assassination of Meir Kahane, in New York City, on November 5, 1990;
2. the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 in New York City;
3. 1994 Brooklyn Bridge shooting on March 1, 1994; 
4. the 9-11 attack in 2001 (which immediately killed 2,996 people and led to 9-11 pollution related deaths in addition later on); 
5. the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombing;
6. the October 23, 2014 New York subway hatchet attack;
7. a 'Draw Muhammad' cartoon art exhibit in Garland, Texas on May 3, 2015;
8. a July 16, 2015 attack on two military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee;
11. the September 15-17, 2016 New York and New Jersey bombings
12. a November 28, 2016 Ohio State University car ramming attack and mass stabbing;
13. an October 31, 2017 New York City truck attack; and 
14. the non-deadly August 12, 2022 stabbing of Salman Rushie in New York State.

Every year, individuals with ties to different extreme causes and movements kill people in the United States; the ADL Center on Extremism (COE) tracks these murders. Extremists regularly commit murders in the service of their ideology, in the service of a group or gang they may belong to, or even while engaging in traditional, non-ideological criminal activities.

In 2022, domestic extremists killed at least 25 people in the U.S., in 12 separate incidents. This represents a decrease from the 33 extremist-related murders documented in 2021 and is comparable to the 22 extremist-related murders in 2020. It continues the recent trend of fewer extremist-related killings after a five-year span of 47-78 extremist-related murders per year (2015-2019).

The 2022 murder totals would have been much lower if not for two high-casualty extremist-related shooting sprees. Only 10 of the 25 deaths occurred outside of those sprees—and one of those 10 deaths occurred in a less lethal mass shooting attempt.

The issue of extremist-related mass killings is of growing concern and is the subject of a special section of this report. From the 1970s through the 2000s, domestic extremist-related mass killings were relatively uncommon. However, over the past 12 years, their number has greatly increased. Most of these mass killings were committed by right-wing extremists, but left-wing and domestic Islamist extremists were also responsible for incidents. The Center on Extremism has identified 62 extremist-connected mass killing incidents since 1970, with 46 of them being ideologically motivated. Disturbingly, more than half (26, or 57%) of the ideological mass killings have occurred within the past 12 years. Of particular concern in recent years are shootings inspired by white supremacist “accelerationist” propaganda urging such attacks.

In 2022, 18 of the 25 extremist-related murders appear to have been committed in whole or part for ideological motives, while the remaining seven murders either have no clear motive or were committed for a non-ideological motive.

All the extremist-related murders in 2022 were committed by right-wing extremists of various kinds, who typically commit most such killings each year but only occasionally are responsible for all (the last time this occurred was 2012). Left-wing extremists engage in violence ranging from assaults to fire-bombings and arsons, but since the late 1980s have not often targeted people with deadly violence. The same cannot be said for domestic Islamist extremists, but deadly incidents linked to Islamist extremism have decreased significantly in the U.S. over the past five years.

White supremacists commit the greatest number of domestic extremist-related murders in most years, but in 2022 the percentage was unusually high: 21 of the 25 murders were linked to white supremacists. Again, this is primarily due to mass shootings. Only one of the murders was committed by a right-wing anti-government extremist—the lowest number since 2017. . . . 

Almost all the killings in 2022 (93%) were committed with firearms. This has been a consistent fact of extremist violence for years. Although many people may think of extremists as employing weapons such as bombs and explosives . . . in each of the past five years over 80% of the victims of deadly extremist violence were killed with firearms[.] . . .
From 2011 through 2022, a period of 12 years, there were 26 ideological domestic extremist-related mass killing incidents (18 actual mass killings and 8 lethal attempted mass killings). These attacks resulted in 186 deaths—and many others wounded or injured (the latter often as they attempted to flee the scene of a mass killing).

Overwhelmingly, these recent mass killing events were also mass shooting events. Firearms were the primary weapon of choice in 23 of the 26 incidents; the only exceptions were the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013 and the vehicular attacks conducted in 2017 by white supremacist James Fields, Jr., in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Islamist extremist Sayfullo Saipov in New York City. Of the 186 deaths, 174 of them (including one of the people killed by the Boston Marathon bombers) were by firearms. Firearms are by far the weapon of choice for domestic terrorists in the U.S. seeking to kill.
During the past 12 years, right-wing extremists, domestic Islamist extremists and left-wing extremists have all conducted or attempted mass killing incidents. Right-wing extremists, of different stripes, have launched the most attacks, totaling 16 of the 26 incidents (61.5%) and 89 of the 186 deaths (47.8%). The majority of the attacks by right-wing extremists (10 out of 16) were committed by white supremacists, typically targeting minorities. They killed 71 people. Anti-government extremists, anti-abortion extremists, toxic masculinity extremists and other right-wing extremists also engaged in mass killing incidents.
Domestic Islamist extremists engaged in six mass killing incidents (23%), resulting in 81 deaths (43.5%), including the single most lethal incident, the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, in 2016, which killed 49 people. Left-wing extremists—all Black nationalist extremists—launched three attacks (11.5%) that killed 12 people (6%). Finally, categorized as “other extremism” in these tabulations, is the 2019 Jersey City, New Jersey, shooting spree by Black Hebrew Israelites David Anderson and Francine Graham, which primarily targeted a Jewish kosher market. They killed four people.
A significant number of extremist killings have been of police officers:

From here.

Denver 2023 Municipal Election Endorsements

Ballots in Denver's 2023 municipal elections will hit mailboxes in a few days.

Each Denver voter has nine votes to cast in five candidate contests (one or two of which are uncontested depending upon your city council district) and three local ballot issues in this spring's Denver Municipal election. 

All of the races are non-partisan, so there is no party preference cue. The winners serve four year terms. Many of the races have no incumbent due to term limits.

The race for city council at large will be concluded in the first round with the candidate receiving the most votes winning. 

In the races for Mayor, Auditor, Clerk & Recorder, and in City Council District races, a candidate who fails to receive a majority of the votes cast (which could theoretically happen even in uncontested races if there are two strong write in candidates), the race goes to a runoff election of the top two candidates in the first round.

There are 58 candidates in all running for city offices in Denver this year including candidates in uncontested races. There are 17 candidates for mayor, 2 for auditor, and 9 for city council at large, but the race for clerk and recorder is uncontested. There are 11 city council district races, 8 of which are contested and 3 of which are uncontested. There are 26 city council candidates running for the 8 contested city council district seats (including 5 candidates in my city council district number 7). 

There are so many candidates in addition to the three ballot issues that I don't have time to spell out in detail the pros and cons of each candidate in a timely manner. So, instead, here are my Denver Municipal election endorsements with brief comments on why I like my choices:

Mayor: Leslie Herod

Herod is a seasoned politician who has represented Denver well in the state legislature, who is familiar with Denver, and is one of only three Mayor candidates to consistently vote in almost all recent elections. Her positions on the issues (e.g. housing and homelessness) are solid. 

Denver Mayor (a position whose incumbent serves more people than the entire state of Wyoming or the District of Columbia) is not a job for a novice.

Auditor: Erik J. Clarke

Clarke is running against incumbent Timothy M. O'Brien. While O'Brien has done an adequate enough job, he has not been sufficiently pro-active to address looming problems that came to pass in management of Denver's supervisory role in DIA, in its waste management system, and in identifying corruption issues in the police department and in the Hancock administration that were ultimately flagged by Hancock's political opponents instead. Clarke would provide a fresh, more pro-active individual, in this trouble shooting role with no strong political ties to established interests.

Clerk & Recorder (unopposed): Paul D. Lopez

Lopez has done an better than adequate job and there is no reason to run a write in campaign against him.

City Council At Large (vote for two): Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez and Penfield Tate

Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez appears to be just right on all of the issues. Penfield Tate (whose mayoral ambitions I have previously supported) is a level headed elder statesman of Denver local politics with the patience and depth of knowledge demonstrated by his long service on the Denver Water Board to handle the often highly technical or history laden issues that Denver city government faces.

City Council District 7: Adam Estroff

Estroff's YIMBY political philosophy is what Denver's land use and affordable housing problems need right now.

Ballot Issue 2M (Housekeeping charter amendment re zoning case procedure to move to ordinance): Yes.

This is a vanilla house keeping measure that fixes charter provisions that are broken in light of new developments, that also removes minutia that doesn't belong in the city charter from that document so it is more easily kept up to date without voter input going forward.

Ballot Issue 2N (Standing to protest zoning limited to property owners ans other housekeeping changes regarding the city council's role in the zoning process): Yes

This clarifying measure will prevent future litigation over ambiguities in the city charter in the manner that they are likely to be resolved anyway.

Ballot Issue 2O (Disregard Park Hill Golf Course conservation easement, contrary to voter action in previous municipal election, to allow for a planned mix use development of part of the former golf course): No. 

All other things being equal, I would favor a mixed use development of the former Park Hill golf course. But this land is subject to a conservation easement that the city thinks it can and should ignore because it has an arguable technical drafting glitch. Two ballot issues addressing the Park Hill conservation easement (proposing essentially opposite resolutions of the issues) were put to voters in the last municipal election and voters soundly supported honoring the conservation easement for the former golf course and against mixed use development for the property. In this context, I can't support ballot issue 2O.

09 March 2023

Air Force Finally Makes Progress In Its Long Standing Effort To Retire The A-10

The A-10 Warthog

The A-10 Warthog is a U.S. Air Force fixed wing ground attack fighter optimized for close air support of ground troops which entered service in 1977. The Air Force has been trying to rid itself of this model of fighter aircraft which is more than 45 years old, although key components have been upgraded over the years, for a long time. 

But Congress has until very recently strong resisted this effort, even though the A-10 is admittedly an old design, and even though fighter aircraft admittedly age much more quickly than bomber aircraft. 

Congress has resisted this effort because the Air Force has largely neglected its obligation to its sister service, the U.S. Army, to come up with a successor aircraft to provide the close air support for ground troops that the A-10 has provided.

For example"Shortly after the [1991] Gulf War, the Air Force abandoned the idea of replacing the A-10 with a close air support version of the F-16."

The Air Force has responded to this criticism with the claim that the F-35A has filled the close air support mission requirements that the A-10 filled, but this claim is dubious at best. 

Dropping guided bombs from very high altitudes is not really "close air support" even though it may suffice to destroy enemy tanks, fixed bases, and other heavy military systems. The F-35A dropping guided bombs from high altitude isn't a very workable tool against dismounted infantry, for example. Ground troops in battles where friendly and enemy forces are close to each other want the assurance that close air support firepower is utilized by someone who can visually confirm their targets. An F-35A has too high a stall speed and burns through its fuel too quickly to operate on a sustained basis above a small battlefield where slow moving ground troops are engaged. The F-35A, because its stealth, its supersonic speeds, and its multiple functions make it so expensive (more than $110 million per plane to buy and $7.1 million per year per plane to operate), is ill suited to efficiently fighting wars of attrition. And, the F-35A, because its stealth feature makes it fragile and requires special maintenance equipment at its air fields, isn't very well suited to working out of rugged field airstrips on a sustained basis. Also, a fighter operating at altitudes so high that it is invulnerable to surface to air missiles also can't serve the A-10's role of deterring enemy ground troops from engaging at all by providing a visible "show the flag" type imminent threat to enemy ground troops who choose to engage despite the availability of highly lethal close air support. 

The AT-802U Sky Warden

The Air Force also touts the small fleet of AT-802U Sky Warden (a.k.a. the OA-1K) propeller-driven armed reconnaissance planes (which are a modification of a crop dusting aircraft design that debuted in 1990) in the hand of Special Forces operators that ordered up to 75 of them 2022 at a price of $40 million per plane, although the initial buy is of just six of them to replace an existing light spy plane.
The planes are intended to perform armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions at low cost in permissive environments from austere locations, and will allow SOCOM to remove the aging U-28A Draco from combat service. The Sky Warden can deploy guided weapons including the APKWS rocket, GBU-12 laser-guided bomb, and Hellfire and Griffin missiles; it has a six-hour loiter time at a 200 nmi (230 mi; 370 km) radius.

But these light attack aircraft, while better than nothing and suitable for counterinsurgency missions in which the insurgents are particularly ill armed, are far less capable than the A-10. They are not genuine close air support aircraft.

The A-29B Super Tucano

The Air Force ordered the Sky Wardens after having done its best to squelch, reducing funding for, and divest itself of the Brazilian A-29B Super Tucano attack aircraft equipped to drop smart bombs that it launched a competition to procure. Originally, the U.S. Air Force had planned to buy of 100 light attack aircraft for U.S. military after a fly off between competing designs in 2012. The U.S. military never end up buying any of its own, and instead ultimately, the Air Froce it bought 20 of them for a light attack mission for the Air Force of Afghanistan in 2013 for $21 million per plane Some of these planes were used by their pilots to flee the country in the fall of Kabul in August of 2021, at least one crashed, and some them were seized by the new Taliban regime in 2021. Operationally, in this and other conflicts with other operators, it has been used mostly in an anti-personnel strike role.

The AH-64 Apache

In response to the Air Force's neglect of the close air support mission, the Army has developed organic helicopter gunships like the AH-64 Apache, which entered service in 1986, to carry out the role that the fixed wing A-10 filled, even though helicopters have a shorter operational range than fixed wing aircraft (476 km for the Apache v. 1287 km for for the Warthog v. 1850 km for a Reaper drone), have a lower cruising speed (265 km/hr for the Apache v. 560 km/hr for the Warthog v. 280-310 km/hr for a Reaper drone), are less fuel efficient, require more maintenance which is particular pressing for military systems that operate on the front lines of ground warfare battles, and are less robust in the face of enemy fire. 

For example, during the 1991 Gulf War:
[A] total of 277 AH-64s took part, destroying 278 tanks, numerous armored personnel carriers and other Iraqi vehicles, for a total of over 500 kills. One AH-64 was lost in the war, crashing after a close range rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) hit, the crew survived While effective in combat, the AH-64 presented serious logistical difficulties. Findings reported in 1990 stated "maintenance units could not keep up with the Apache's unexpectedly high work load."
The AH-64 played roles in the Balkans during separate conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s. 
During Task Force Hawk, 24 Apaches were deployed to a land base in Albania in 1999 for combat in Kosovo. These required 26,000 tons of equipment to be transported over 550 C-17 flights, at a cost of US$480 million. During these deployments, the AH-64 encountered problems, such as deficiencies in training, night vision equipment, fuel tanks, and survivability.
According to a Boeing official quoted in an October 10, 2022 news report about a proposed final upgraded version of the AH-64 to an AH-64F version:
The Apache is going to be the US Army’s principal attack helicopter for the next 25 to 30 years. There’s nothing right now that is on the books that’s going to replace the Apache[.]

The U.S. Army, however, "is still fielding the most recent AH-64E Apache Version 6, which it said in a Jan. 2022 news release is “the final planned modernization of the aircraft, replacing the AH-64D Apache attack helicopters.”" 

In December of 2022, "After years of testing and deliberation, the US Army has made the US$1.3-billion decision to select the Bell V-280 Valor tilt-rotor craft to replace the Army's 2,000 UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters and 1,200 AH-64 Apache assault helicopters. The new development contract for the Army's Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program is part of the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) program that was initiated in 2013 to design, build, and flight test prototype candidates to replace the Army's current inventory of utility and long-range assault rotorcraft." The Army plans to have the V-280 enter service in the year 2030.

The MQ-9 Reaper

The Air Force has also suggested using unmanned armed drones such as the MQ-9 Reaper which entered service in 2007 to take up some of the A-10's close air support role. Despite having armaments powerful enough to destroy tanks, this armed drone has been used predominantly in an anti-personnel and assassination mode over the course of its operational history.

The Air Force's claim that it doesn't want to have new fixed wing close air support aircraft because it is vulnerable to surface to air missiles falls flat, despite the fact that it has suffered some losses to anti-aircraft fire. 

Even more vulnerable Army helicopter gunships are now routinely used in the same role. And conflicts in which there is uncontested airspace, have been the norm rather than the exception for most of the global conflicts since World War II. It served in the 1991 Gulf War, in Bosnia in 1994-1995, in Kosovo in 1999, in Afghanistan starting in 2002 after the initial invasion, in Iraq starting in 2003, and in Libya in 2011, and in northern Iraq and in Syria against ISIS in 2014-2015.

The A-10s track record has also shown that it has consistently outperformed rivals for the same mission, like helicopter gunships and main battle tanks in its original mission of destroying enemy armored forces, well into very recent military conflicts, although it did suffer significant losses from anti-aircraft fire in the 1991 Gulf War.  For example, A-10s destroyed 987 tanks and thousands of other military vehicles in the Gulf War.

The Air Force leadership's conclusion that ground warfare in which the U.S. and its allies have air superiority are irrelevant relative to need to defend Taiwan from a PRC invasion flies in the face of several decades of recent military history and is short sighted. 

Whether the kind of wars where a fixed wing close air support aircraft would be useful are the kinds of wars that the Air Force would like to fight or not, U.S. political leaders have repeatedly chosen to engage in these kinds of conflicts and there is no good reason to believe that they will stop doing so in the foreseeable future. The A-10 itself is a product of the Air Force learning that lesson once during the Vietnam War. But, the Air Force is now intent on forgetting those lessons once again in favor of the whims of the "fighter mafia" that drives its procurement decisions.

Also, the U.S. military has a bigger budget and more modern fixed wing aircraft than any other country on Earth. No country in the world has less of a need to have one size fits all multi-purpose warplanes. It has a fleet large enough to allow it to benefit from manufacturing economies of scale even if it is making multiple kinds of warplanes.

It is cheaper to build a warplane that does not have to serve multiple disparate missions, and instead is optimized for just one or two missions, without sacrificing competence in those missions. 

The U.S. military can afford to have separate aircraft for air superiority missions, long and short range bombing in wars with near peers, close air support, counterinsurgency bombing, ship based fighter aircraft, and homeland security missions. Some of those missions call for aircraft close in cost to the F-22 and F-35, but many of those missions could be performed as well or better at a fraction of the aircraft procurement and operational costs with more specialized aircraft that lack expensive capabilities that aren't needed for their specialized missions. 

Aircraft with fewer missions that are less demanding can also be designed and fielded more quickly, with less risk of technological glitches along the way, allowing a greater percentage of U.S. aircraft to be more modern than they are when they are bottlenecked around a technologically ambitious ultimate weapon that requires defense contracts to achieve capabilities never before achieved in multiple domains before the new aircraft can be fielded.

In short, while the A-10 is almost half a century old and due to be replaced, the Air Force continues to shirk its duty to the Army to develop a modern successor to the A-10 in the specialized close air support role, but has declined to do so for reasons that don't hold water upon close inspection.
The Air Force wants to speed up the retirement of its remaining A-10 Warthogs to fund new weapons it says are better suited to counter China.

Service leaders have long sought to eliminate the almost half-century old plane, which has been repeatedly saved by lawmakers who argue that no other aircraft can protect ground troops so well. But after two decades of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. no longer has a large number of ground forces deployed. The Air Force expects the battles of the future to be won by newer technology — including hypersonic missiles and stealth warplanes.

“I would say over the next five, six years we will actually probably be out of our A-10 inventory,” Gen. CQ Brown, the Air Force chief of staff, said Tuesday at an Air Force Association conference in Aurora, Colorado. The Biden administration is poised to send its 2024 budget proposal to Congress in the coming days. Earlier in the day, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said the service wants to speed up new aircraft buys in 2024 and continue to retire older aircraft as it aims to “increase midterm capability and capacity.” After years of rejections, Congress approved the Air Force’s request to retire 21 A-10s this year. “We're gonna continue down that path,” Brown said, until the remaining 250 or so A-10s are gone.

He said combatant commanders—the generals and admirals who oversee U.S. military operations in different regions of the world—are not asking for A-10s. He noted that the A-10 is a single-mission aircraft and because fighters and bombers, equipped with satellite-and-laser-guided bombs, have been proven in close air support. While Brown said the A-10 is a “great airplane in an uncontested environment,” Air Force leaders say the twin-jet is too vulnerable to surface-to-air missiles.

“We cannot predict the future of what kind of environment we're gonna fight in, but [we] fully expect to be much more contested. The amount of close air support we will do will probably be less than what we've done in the past, particularly in the Middle East because [in] that environment, we didn’t have an air threat, or a surface to air threat,” Brown said. “From that perspective, we’ve got to lean towards where the threat is.”

The A-10 was originally designed to destroy Soviet tank columns with its signature nose-mounted 30-millimeter cannon. Over the past year, Ukraine has reportedly asked U.S. leaders for 100 A-10s to help in its fight against Russia.

U.S. Special Operations Command is buying a fleet of propeller-driven attack planes to support troops on the ground.
From here.