Friday, March 31, 2006

WSJ becomes embarrasingly irrational, unempirical

I didn't think the WSJ could get any less empirical in their tendentious apology for open borders, but I've been proved wrong. First, they launch into smearing Tom Tancredo (again). Then they launch into empty sentimentalism:
To wit, do Republicans want to continue in the Reagan tradition of American optimism and faith in assimilation that sends a message of inclusiveness to all races? Or will they take another one of their historical detours into a cramped, exclusionary policy that tells millions of new immigrants, and especially Hispanics, that they belong somewhere else?
Reagan shows what the Republican Party should not do. He won a second term after one of the most lopsided elections in history. Then came the 1986 amnesty, and the Republican Party has subsequently struggled mightily to garner 50% of the vote in Presidential elections. Republicans enjoyed a boost from the flourishing of talk radio and the internet that culminated in control of the House and Senate by Newt and company in 1994. For the first time the right had a national outlet. But that hiccup is running its course. Demographic trends bode terribly for the future of the Republican Party. The quixotic ideology the WSJ touts is what led to the mess in 1965 and again in 1986. We do not need three strikes.

Ted Kennedy, who is a leading proponent of the impending Senate disaster, said 41 years ago that such an historically unprecedented demographic shift would not occur with the
INS Act of 1965. He promised that "Our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually." Today, there are 500,000 illegals that pour into the country each year, and that's a low-end estimate. Total annual immigration surpasses Kennedy's mark by several hundred thousand. He also errantly assured skeptics that "the ethnic mix of the country will not be upset." Now the two most populous states in the union--California and Texas--have white minorities.

The putative benefits do not require unskilled Hispanic immigration:
This has been mostly for the better -- in revitalized inner cities, a younger workforce to fuel a dynamic economy, and in general helping America avoid the senescent future of other industrial nations.
As far as these positives exist, they can easily be attained through a merit immigration system that selects for the brightest and most industrious immigrants the world over. The current immigrant workforce will of course have a detrimental effect on our ability to cover benefits promised to the baby boom generation because the foreign-born make less money and consume more in government benefits than natives do. They are, on the whole, net costs. The solution is to bring in net assets. Contemporary immigration patterns only accentuate the coming tsunami of obligations for the baby boomers, as they compete with Hispanic advocacy groups for handouts.

To combat senescence, what we need are incentives for the native wealthy to have more children, which will boost the nation's average IQ, keep the US birthrate
at least at replenishment, and narrow the wealth gap (all of which will benefit the Republican Party). Importing third-worlders that cost more than they are worth does not improve our economic prospects.

The WSJ, which openly
called for an end to American sovereignty prior to 9/11, throws around the typical "nativist" charge, as if to insinuate that it is immoral to want what is best for the citizenry of one's own country instead of what is best for foreigners at the expense of the natives. Yet, in the same paragraph, the WSJ admits that different areas of the country have suffered more from immigration than others:
But there have also been costs, and parts of America have borne more than have others. The border states in particular have experienced more crime and social disruption, as well as the cost to local taxpayers of "free" health care and education for illegal immigrants.
The states with the most immigrants have suffered the most from immigration! Who would have thunk it? Sounds like an airtight argument to import unskilled masses into the rest of the country to me!

As is typical, the WSJ calls those in opposition to its
unpopular position as a "small but vocal" group. Maybe the editors missed that 60% of Americans want a barrier along the US/Mexico border. Maybe they overlooked the plurality of Americans who think the US is not doing enough to secure its borders (82%). Or the 62% of Americans that want the US to "do whatever it takes" to cut the flow of illegals (including militarization).

The WSJ fears that Hispanics
will get fed up with the GOP:
But because the policy is aimed largely at Hispanic immigrants, it will also rightly be seen as a specific ethnic rebuke. Millions of Hispanics -- both illegals and those who have been here for decades -- will get the message that the Republican Party doesn't want them. Those Republicans who shout "no amnesty" and want to make illegally crossing the Rio Grande a felony are well on their way to creating a generation or more of new Democratic voters.
Hispanics make up about 8% of the voting electorate, and go 3-to-2 in favor of Democrats. The 800 pound gorilla of our electoral system--whites--vote Republican 3-to-2 and make up 77% of the electorate. So for every ten percent increase in Hispanic support, the GOP still comes out behind if it costs them a single percent of the white vote. Isn't it clear that the Republican Party should be interested in turning away not Hispanic voters, but white voters?

Obviously the last sentence quoted is inanity. Bringing in an ethnic minority underclass that congregates in urban areas (can you get any more a quintessential definition of a Democratic stalwart?) is not going to help the Republican Party. It is going to create a generation of new Democratic voters. How the WSJ can expect its readers to buy its illogical nonsense that more Democratic voters are good for the Republican Party is beyond me.

I should start at the bottom of WSJ op/eds, because they become progressively more unhinged:
In 1994 in California, [immigration restrictionists] rode Pete Wilson's Proposition 187 to a short-term re-election victory but at the cost of polarizing Hispanic voters and making themselves the minority party in our largest state.
So it was the wildly popular Prop 187, which was shot down by the Judiciary and therefore never had a chance to take effect, that caused the Republican downfall in California! It wasn't the increasing poverty, wealth disparity, and white flight brought on by the growth in size of the Hispanic underclass that did it. That the growth in the Hispanic population of California is directly related to the decline in the Republican Party's popularity there doesn't matter! If we expand the California experiment across the entire country, it will be good for Republicans, you'll see!

Responding to solutions like militarization of the border and the construction of a wall,
the WSJ blathers:
Any bill that merely harasses immigrants and employers, and stacks more cops on
the border, may win cheers in the right-wing blogosphere. However, it will do nothing to address the economic incentives that will continue to exist for poor migrants to come to America to feed their families.
At least they've admitted their position. Americans should sacrifice their own well-being to provide a plane for economic equilibrium with the third-world. In other words, the US should continue to allow in foreign net-liabilities until the standard-of-living decreases to the point of making the US an undesirable destination for migrants. Good plan, even without taking birthrates (that poorer nations have more explosive birthrates and therefore perpetually drive down the global standard of living) into consideration! I guess social problems being imported for $17 billion a year is the best way to "address the economic incentives" of Vicente Fox's open borders position!

The evil Tancredos of the world will be awful ambassadors of the people:
Without doing anything to draw illegals out of the shadows and help them assimilate into the mainstream of American culture and citizenship.
That would be the assimilation we've seen over the last couple of weeks in the streets of Los Angeles and other third world cities across the country, right?

(
Immigration)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Golden race takes to the streets

Welcome to the United States of Mexico:

The cheering, boisterous students ditched classes on a day honoring the late leader of the United Farm Workers Union. Similar school walkouts were held around the state Friday and were followed by a rally at Los Angeles City Hall that drew an estimated 500,000 people - one of the largest demonstrations ever held in the city.

Protesters object to a U.S. House bill that would make it a felony to be in the U.S. illegally, impose new penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants and erect fences along one-third of the U.S.-Mexican border.
Michelle Malkin, as usual, has a great set of photos from the rallies. Illegals waved Mexican flags, burned American flags, held up banners claiming that the indigenous, beautiful brown people owned the land, and shook signs reading "Chicano Power!" The great multicultural experiment at work. California is a harbinger of things to come, and Los Angeles is the epicenter. ERs are being shut down because they are overwhelmed by uninsured illegals. Gangs divided along racial lines roam the streets and riot in the prisons. Wealth disparities continue to grow, a disastrous trend for the health of a democracy. Test scores are among the worst in the country. Whites flee in droves to demographically traditional states like Utah, Wyoming, and Montana.

Half a million people in a single city openly flouting the law of the land, screaming about how we've not given them enough. They want to feed off our prosperity but otherwise want nothing of our culture. Sound familiar? Maybe a clash of civilizations? Fortunately these protests have thus far remained peaceful, and so are not as bad as the Muslim riots in Europe. Still, these migrant's countries of origin are corrupt and economically retarded. I want nothing of them.

The laissez faire attitude toward immigration pushes towards an eventual equilibrium. Who wants that in the US? An average IQ of 90? A life expectancy of 64 years? A literacy rate of 82%? A per capita purchasing power of under $10,000? We do considerably better in all of these categories. Our immigrants should push our stats even higher, not lower them to that point of theoretical equilibrium where illegal immigration will cease because it is no longer attractive for aliens to migrate (that is, the US becomes a third-world nation less desirable than Mexico).

We need a wall. We need to crack down on employers of illegals and begin deportations, at least of those with a record (misdemeanor or felony). This can be done. Half a century ago, we shipped/scared out as many as a million people in a year. If we did it then, we can certainly do it now.

Unskilled immigration has a host of costs. They consume more in services than they pay into those services. They depress wages for natives. They create pollution. They are incarcerated at higher rates than natives. They bring in atavistic diseases we thought dead in the country. There are other costs that are more difficult to quantify but equally important like linguistic barriers. Universities are offering more Spanish majors. So our brightest are learning to speak Spanish instead of becoming engineers or scientists. This is doing nothing for the US' global competitiveness.

We need a merit immigration system that skims the cream of the crop from across the globe and brings net benefits rather than net liabilities into the country. The US has one of the higher net migration rates in the world (by absolute number it is the very highest). Lots of people want to come here (Steve Sailer estimates as many as 1.5 billion). We do not need to be taking in swarms of underclass Latinos. Why not pick the brightest and most industrious in the world. Immigrants should benefit the host country, not the other way around.

(Immigration)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Testing causes learning

Randall Parker over at FuturePundit points to a study out of St. Louis' Washington University about the benefits of testing for learning retention:
"Students who self-test frequently while studying on their own may be able to learn more, in much less time, than they might by simply studying the material over and over again," he adds. "Incorporating more frequent classroom testing into a course may improve students' learning and promote retention of material long after a course has ended..."

In an experiment in which students either took quizzes or were permitted to study material repeatedly, students in the study-only group professed an exaggerated confidence, sure that they knew the material well, even though important details already had begun slip-sliding away. The group that took tests on the material, rather than repeatedly reading it, actually did better on a delayed test of their knowledge.

The group that spent all its time studying the material initially had slightly better recall of it. But tested just two days later, the group that had only looked at the material three times and then been tested fared much better than the group that had seen the material fourteen times (61% to 40%) but hadn't yet been tested on it.

The results are not surprising. Kaplan and other test-prep companies succeed by basically getting a hold of old tests and having participants take several of them. Kaplan offers a full refund if test scores do not improve. If this works for standardized tests that are pretty g-loaded, it should work even better for material that lends itself more to being learned.

I find studying to offer a higher return when I use notecards and draw terms randomly or when I replace numbers and tweak wordings from accounting textbook questions than when I just pore over my notes. But the first method requires more mental exertion than the second, so I have to be driven to do it.

How many students are self-driven? Certainly not all of them. The study shows that if they are prodded by instructors who employ tests/quizzes more frequently then they will perform better and retain more information over the long-term. So an emphasis on ambigious projects instead of on traditional lecture/demonstration, sample problems, and testing is probably detrimental. In other words, instructors need to force students to internalize the information by giving them pop quizzes and thorough tests. Sure, that's harder for the students than the "creativity"-driven classrooms that encourage students to "explore different answers" through out-of-class, vague assignments, but it's also better for them.

Unfortunately, the KU business school is becoming increasingly obsessed with the former. Only one of my three courses in the school is strictly testing-based. The other two determine grades primarily by group projects that are very open-ended. Not surprisingly, when I was looking over material during spring break this week, the beginning of semester stuff in the first course came right back to me. In one of the other two, I remembered virtually nothing.

(Education)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Clinton's conversion and ransom insurance

So much for Hillary Clinton moving to the right of the Republican Party on immigration reform:
Surrounded by a multicultural coalition of New York immigration advocates, Clinton blasted the House bill as "mean-spirited" and said it flew in the face of Republicans' stated support for faith and values. "It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scriptures," Clinton said, "because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself."
I expect the Senator to turn for biblical guidance on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage today and tomorrow, respectively. She'll also presumably be calling out Bill to repent for his extra-marital affairs in the Oval Office. But Hispanic advocacy groups agree with her:
About 30,000 protesters on Thursday marched into downtown Milwaukee as part
of a demonstration titled "A Day Without Latinos" in which Latinos were encouraged to take time from their jobs to march, according to Voces de la Frontera, which organized the event. A police spokesman said the crowd was between 10,000 and 15,000...

The Milwaukee march was one of several recent protests organized across the nation by groups opposed to immigration bills considered by Congress.

Clinton's obvious pandering aside, the Messiah might not have agreed with her. Jesus was not a booster of balkanization. "If a country divides itself into groups which fight each other, that country will fall apart. If a family divides itself into groups which fight each other, that family will fall apart," Mark 3:24-25, recorded as Jesus' spoken words (this is where we get the phrase "A house divided cannot stand"). Using a religious figure to bolster a political position strikes me as a direct violation of the Third Commandment, so I try to steer clear of it, especially given that I'm not a religious person. In any case, the Bible presents ample material to be used to further virtually any position so it's disgraceful to see Clinton trying to invoke it in this way. Meanwhile, the protests:
Other protests are planned in Atlanta, where an alliance of Hispanic organizations is encouraging Latino residents to participate in a commercial boycott and work stoppage Friday to demonstrate how Latinos help bolster the Georgia economy.
I wonder if the Latinos marching in protest of US sovereignty will, on the same day they stop working, also stop committing crimes at over three times the white rate or if they'll stop taking in more government benefits than they pay for.

Of course there is going to be a short-term disruption if the unskilled do not show up for work when they are expected to, but that is not a legitimate argument for their putative necessity. If in 1860 plantation slaves stopped working, the Southern economy would have been jolted in the short-run, but in the long-run abolition fueled technological innovations that made slave labor uneconomical in addition to being morally abhorrent. Yet our third-worlders are essentially wage slaves. The work they do merely requires warm bodies and is easily fungible with natives. Sure, employers might have to pay higher wages, but why shouldn't they? Why should you and I, as taxpayers, subsidize the labor of big business? I am not interested in Tyson's bottom line. If the company cannot turn a profit without taxpayer assistance, it's not a value-adding firm. I'm interested in America's standard of living, educational system, economic viability, and long-term competitiveness.

It's not just agriculture and cleaning services that are enjoying open borders:
Don’t waste your time looking it up on the Internet. It is advertised here exclusively by word of mouth. And even though it is not cheap, it is now selling like hot cakes.

Kidnap insurance traditionally associated with the lawless coca groves of Colombia or the tribal wetlands of Nigeria is now conquering south Texas.

Faced with a wave of crime, major U.S. insurance companies are quietly selling abduction coverage here to address the needs of businessmen on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.
While Mexico exports its social problems to us and imports $17 billion in cash in return, we become more like our southern neighbor each day. The federal government warns us not to travel to several northern Mexico provinces because of the anarchy and drug wars that are ongoing there. Mexican mobsters have made armed excursions onto US territory, and now if you live in Laredo it has become prudent for you to buy ransom insurance in case you are kidnapped.

We need a wall. While it is being built, we need the National Guard to back up the Border Patrol and light up any vehicle or person who dares take a pot shot at our nation's sentries. We do not need low-value adding, uneducated net-costs in this country. We need a merit immigration system that brings in immigrants that are going to benefit natives, not immigrants who will be benefited by natives at the native's expense.

The House recently passed HR4437. The Senate is now dealing with it. Email your Senators (they will have a link to 'contact' and then 'email' on their Congressional websites) and let them know your position on immigration. Feel free to copy anything you find here in the letter.

(Immigration)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Charles Murray offers entitlement fix

Charles Murray wields Ockham's Razor like Zorro wields his sword. He has reshaped America's views on welfare, affirmative action, and the critical importance of intelligence in society. His ideas have contributed enormously, yet they are at their most simple level commonsensical and able to be stated quite pithily.

Welfare fails not because it does not provide materially for those in want, but because it is intrinsically at odds with what it means to live a fulfilling and meaningful life. Contrasting the existence of America's "poor" with that of materially destitute but much richer denizens of other countries illustrates this profoundly.

Affirmative action fails not because it does not have a lasting effect on perceived racial inequity, but because it engenders racial hostility by putting duller minorities with sharper whites (and Asians), all the while doing nothing to help the less endowed portion of minority communities.

Wealth and knowledge inequality stem not so much from differences in external environment as they do from differences in IQ. The irony is that as the global playing field becomes increasingly flat, the disparity between the brightest and dullest is going to expand, not narrow.

And so Murray's insight into how to tackle the entitlement deluge that's going to crash on shore when the baby boomers start retiring in droves is characteristically concise: scrap all the bureaucracy and give the money directly to the people:
The place to start is a blindingly obvious economic reality that no one seems to notice: This country is awash in money. America is so wealthy that enabling everyone to have a decent standard of living is easy. We cannot do it by fiddling with the entitlement and welfare systems -- they constitute a Gordian Knot that cannot be untied. But we can cut the knot. We can scrap the structure of the welfare state.

Instead of sending taxes to Washington, straining them through bureaucracies and converting what remains into a muddle of services, subsidies, in-kind support and cash hedged with restrictions and exceptions, just collect the taxes, divide them up, and send the money back in cash grants to all American adults. Make the grant large enough so that the poor won't be poor, everyone will have enough for a comfortable retirement, and everyone will be able to afford health care. We're rich enough to do it.
Equitable wealth transfer. Ideally, it strikes a compromise between robin hood economics and laissez faire capitalism. Americans will pay income taxes, the wealthy pulling almost all of the weight, but it will be distributed in even amounts to all the citizenry. So you're not disproportionately giving to an indigent's crack habit at the expense of a hard-working janitor struggling to raise a couple of kids.

Murray proposes $7,000 a year in direct transfer, plus $3,000 a year for medical insurance and $2,000 a year for retirement (invested in index funds, which will obliterate the "return" on Social Security over a person's lifetime). This puts everyone at a base above the poverty line. Assuming these benefits begin accruing at the age of eighteen, about three-fourths of the US population would receive them. That comes to $2.7 trillion annually. The 2006 federal budget is only $2.6 trillion, and $700 billion (.7 trillion) of that is for defense spending and interest on the national debt. That's a prodigious shortfall. Murray is aware of this, but points out that in the future it will represent a smaller number than the budget as it is currently drawn up:

The projected costs of the Plan cross the projected costs of the current system in 2011. By 2020, the Plan would cost about half a trillion dollars less per year than conservative projections of the cost of the current system. By 2028, that difference would be a trillion dollars per year.

Unfortunately, that argument didn't sell Bush's privatized social security accounts. Two trillion up front for greater savings in the future is going to meet resistance when the federal deficit grows by $10,000 every second and we drop $700 dollars a year per American just to pay interest on the debt.

Some other concerns I have:

-This places a financial disincentive on having children. If a single man gets the same distribution as a father of four, the latter is going to realize less real benefit. However, this could be a net positive. By essentially taking away welfare programs that reward penury folks for having children, it could close the wealth gap and boost the nation's average IQ. But anything that might lower the national birth rate needs to be critically examined.

-Who is entitled? Only American citizens? What about resident aliens? And illegals? The latter would have to be explicitly denied or it would be a disaster. Legislation would have to bar mendacious laws or judgments granting in-state tuition to illegals.

-Will this have a deleterious effect on job-seeking among the working poor? A couple bringing in $20,000 in cash and benefits plus $4,000 a year for retirement may give up job searching altogether, solidifying a permanent underclass rather than chipping away at it.

-What are our guarantees that new social programs do not sprout after this is introduced? Nothing would be worse than having direct wealth transfer payments as merely an augmentation to the current welfare state. Addicts, idiots, and squanderers are still going to find their way into indigency. Once the government gives it, it becomes almost impossible to get them to take it away.

He raises some of these concerns vaguely and indicates that he lays out answers to them in his new book, which I will definitely digest in the near future.

Even if it strikes you as idyllic or unworkable, give credit to Murray for bringing the idea up. The second half of his piece goes into how direct payments will inherently foster personal responsibility because everyone will have benefits directly in their control. No one will have an excuse for why they cannot even afford a meal and a change of clothes. It will aid the government in keeping the peace. They will know where your bank account is that the money is transferred to, so if you don't play by society's rules, it'll cost you fifteen grand on top of traditional forms of punishment. He also argues it will create a sense of community: Friends, family, and partners can pool their resources for joint ventures, giving those with otherwise bleak prospects a chance at economic empowerment.

(US)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Last month the Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gave a series of speechs in South Africa. Like many dissenters, she used America's position as the global market-dominant minority to lash out ideologically against those at home. Reading the text of her speech is an interesting case study of the thinking of one of the world's most powerful people. What struck me most was how I could have as easily been reading the words of a collegiate radical campus group leader:
Unlike South Africa's Constitution, a model fundamental instrument of government for a nation starting afresh, the U.S. Constitution is nearly 220 years old and contains no express provision opposing discrimination on the basis of gender.
Ginsburg ruled with the court (5-4) in Roper v. Simmons, citing international laws regarding capital punishment to as part of the justification for deeming the execution of minors illegal. She is not opposed to searching for a legal reason to impose a moral mandate. For a moralist or a philosopher, it's a noble pursuit. But the Supreme Court is to be based on the US Constitution, not a universal morality set that is discerned by enlightened jurists. Ironically though, she is not universal in her application of international law to domestic issues. Ginsburg is the most ardent defender of Roe v. Wade on the court. Yet, along with China, the US has the most liberal policy towards abortion in the world:
When other countries authorized abortions, they did not authorize a right to one. Their laws were designed to give varying degrees of respect to unborn life. (Only in China is there a law as permissive as that conferred by Roe v. Wade.) When Prof. Mary Ann Glendon surveyed abortion laws here and abroad in the late 1980s, she found that in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the U.K. there existed pre-abortion waiting periods, mandatory counseling, time limits of when during a pregnancy an abortion could occur, and a requirement that several physicians agree on the need for an abortion.
So when the recent South Dakota legislation makes its way to the US Supreme Court, can we expect Ginsburg to turn to international law on behalf of the Dakotians? It goads me when leftists claim to see everything in gradations. Those zealously committed to ideologies on the left are every bit as absolutist in their beliefs as those on the ideological (religious) right are. Ginsburg does not want to turn to international law when it does not align itself with her own morality.

Reminiscing over her crusades as counsel to the ACLU, Ginsburg let her feminism brightly shine through:
In one sense, our mission in the 1970s was easy: the targets were well defined. There was nothing subtle about the way things were. Statute books in the States and Nation were riddled with what we then called sex-based differentials.
Those would presumably be things like gender-segregated prisons, which she has advocated in the past. I suspect the recidivism rate for males would jump if she had her way, although females might become more law-abiding. Happily, boys with purty teeth would be in good shape!

Ginsburg, like other practitioners of the egalitarian orthodoxy, is completely oblivious to (or, more likely, simply ignores) human biodiversity. Men and women are very different in more ways than we can count, and it's grounded in our evolutionary history. Men have wider intelligence distributions, are most spatially-oriented than women, and have more gray brain matter. Women's IQ distributions are narrower, they are more verbally-oriented, and have more white brain matter. Men are more competitive and autocratic (that's why men's sports are so much more entertaining to watch and why men are responsible for virtually all of the world's wars). Women have lower muscle mass and higher levels of body fat. And on and on.

Ginsburg's not alone. A majority of the court has its head buried in the sand. In a 5-4 decision last year, they ruled racially segregated prisons unconstitutional. Writing for the majority, the now-retired Justice O'Connor wrote that "society as a whole" suffers when prisoners are seperated by race. Are these justices so pedantic that they are unaware of the fact that in race is everything in prison? But enligthened jurists like Ginsburg know better than the warden and the prison guards when it comes to running a prison!

Does Ginsburg really want to ignore this? Does she want to close the door on women in the military? Obviously if female PT requirements were the same as male requirements, it would happen. If she is worried about gender inequality, I suspect she will stand up for Matt Dubay if his case makes it all the way to the US Supreme Court. Reproductive rights in this country overwhelmingly favor women. If a woman has an unwanted pregnancy, the father has no legal right to keep her from aborting his child. Conversely, if the man wants to abort the fetus but the woman wants to have it, he is powerless to stop her. And then he will have to pay child support for eighteen years to help the kid (and the mother) out financially. I'll be expecting a tenacious stand by Ginsburg on this in the future!

A good look into her didacticism:
Our mission was to educate, along with the public, decisionmakers in the Nation's legislatures and courts. We tried to convey to them that something was wrong with their perception of the world. As Justice Brennan wrote in a 1973 Supreme Court plurality opinion, Frontiero v. Richardson, decided a year and a half after the Court had begun to listen: "Traditionally, [differential treatment on the basis of sex] was rationalized by an attitude of 'romantic paternalism' which, in practical effect put women, not on a pedestal, but in a cage."

And she still thinks she's educating us today, by destroying any semblance of our understanding of human biodiversity. "The maternal instinct is oppressive! Respecting women who have children as fulfilling their duty is oppressive! Yes, we love evolution in as far as it bashes those pesky Christian fundamentalists, but believe that it actually applies to humans?! That's nuts!" Well, she can revel in the legacy of her sixties counterrevolution--a peaking of the high school graduation rate, a bottoming out of the poverty rate, skyrocketing divorce and illegitimacy rates, and a plummetting birth rate that now leaves every Occidental nation as well as Russia and Japan below replenishment. But at least we got Sex and the City out of it all.

(Culture)

Monday, March 13, 2006

WSJ's pathetic plea for open borders

The WSJ's defense of open borders is so fallacious that its editorial board cannot even finish a single op/ed without fabrication. They've had two op/eds in the same edition that have been contradictory, like when the board ridiculed the idea of a wall on the US-Mexico border and then in the next editorial went on to praise the effectiveness of the Israeli-Palestinian security barrier, but this is a new nadir:
The immigration debate is finally picking up some Beltway steam, which is long overdue. The problem is that it's moving in a direction that could do real damage to the economy, not to mention to the Republican Party.
No kidding! Across the political spectrum there is widespread support for shutting down illegal immigration from the southern border. Sixty percent of Americans support the construction of a physical barrier and 68% support using the US military to back up the Border Patrol. Serf labor subsidized by the net taxpayer for the benefit of inefficient and uncompetitive American big business is definitely straining the economy, as the poverty rate and national debt continue to grow in tandem. The Republican Senate and the Republican White House are both moving in the wrong direction indeed.

Oh, but the Journal was actually talking about the House, where tough HR4437 has been kicked over to the Senate. Apparently the WSJ, which does not seem to understand basic economics when they spew the tired and fallacious bromide that illegals are "doing jobs Americans won't do," believes that an increased number of Hispanics, who vote three-to-two in favor of Democrats, are going to somehow help the Republican Party. The inanity continues:
Any sensible immigration reform would focus not just on keeping illegals out of the country, but also on why they're coming and how to get the estimated 11 million illegals already here out of the shadows. Yet last year the House whooped through a bill that expands enforcement and nothing else.
That is a non sequitur. If a border reform measure focuses on halting the flow of illegals, why is its merit contingent upon what is done about illegals already here?
'There are starlings in the attic!'
'Where are they coming in from?'
'The hole in the wall above the window!'
'Quick, patch up the hole!'
'No! Not until we figure out what to do with the starlings that are already inside.'
'But more starlings keep coming in!'
Dealing with the illegals already here is certainly a need, but that it hasn't yet been dealt with is not an argument not to deal with curtailing the flow of more illegals. If the boat has sprung a leak, the first thing you do is plug the leak. Bailing the water while more continues to flow in is futile.

But since we're on the subject, why not take a page out of the book of a revered Republican, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and ship illegals out by train back to their home countries (a la Operation Weback)? "Oh, but the economy would collapse! A full quarter of farm workers are illegal," goes the standard open-borders line. Yet the agricultural industry is subsidized to the tune of $12.5 billion a year. And then these illegals make $20,000 under the table and pay much less in taxes than they consume in government services. They can send their kids to school (close to $10,000 per, another $3,000 or so for ESL), use our roads, infrastructure, and hospitals, pollute, land in jail, consume fire fighter or policy services, depress wages for natives, ad infinitum. So this industry is subsidized twice. Sorry about the increased crime, atavistic disease, and balkanization of your homeland. But at least Tyson and the country of Mexico are getting a good deal!

Says the Journal, in talking about limits on stays for guest workers:
That kind of forced turnover could mean huge labor disruptions for U.S. businesses, and the likely result would be more illegal aliens, as some workers exit the program and enter the black market rather than returning home.
No, with adequate border enforcement and stiff fines for employers of illegals the result would not be more aliens. It would be innovation. Increases in technological efficiencies will lead to a reductions in the need for low value-adding migrants who are net costs to society and do nothing to make the US more competitive globally.

Painful equivocation comes next:
Under current law, foreign workers in high-tech fields can extend their stay if an employer sponsors them for a green card. Why should the same rules that apply to Intel's engineers not also apply to Marriott's chambermaids and California's farm hands?
Because Intel's engineers add more value, have higher IQs, are better educated, and do much more for the competitiveness of the American economy than do warm bodies that do jobs that any American can and would do if the price of such work rose. It's much easier for the Marriott to find a chamber maid among natives than it is for Intel to find an engineer. Maybe the hotel will have to raise its wages a bit, but so what? Why should you and I pick up the tab of the chambermaid for the benefit of the Marriott's bottom line? If the Intel engineer is a net liability, then the same logic would apply, but he's likely not.

The board then goes on to voice support for the disastrous McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill followed by an outright lie:
None of this will appease the small but vocal "no amnesty" crowd, but restrictionists put forth no solutions other than greater militarization of the border and harassment of employers, which we know from experience won't work alone. If the real goal of immigration reform is to have people "obey the rules," let's make sure the rules are sensible.
'Small but vocal'? A large majority of Americans support the construction of a barrier and of militarization of the Mexican border (just as Mexico militarizes its southern border to keep out migrants from much poorer central American countries). And, not surprisingly, the US public is opposed to amnesty 55%-34%, and even Hispanic oppose it 51%-49%. A vociferous 'minority' indeed. And what experience shows us that barriers do not work? The Israeli border fence? The Berlin wall kept people in, not out, so that's a fatally flawed comparison. Eisenhower's operation moved a million people out in a year. Duncan Hunter's wall has been such a resounding success that he's helping lead the charge to expand it. So where is this experiential evidence showing that HR4437 won't work? It is the unpopular status quo that has so obviously failed.

(Immigration)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Nukes, India, and fruit

President Bush is about to return home from an eventful trip to India where he championed an agreement to lift the moratorium on nuclear shipments from the US to the world's second most populous country. In return, India will allow international inspectors into 14 of 22 nuclear facilities, none of which serve a military purpose. Congress will still have to approve the measure, which means that it is far from certain. Indeed, some at home are opposed to rewarding India for not being a member to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by giving it more nuclear capabilities while at the same time trying to restrict it from going to places like North Korea or Iran:

Opponents of the deal believe the Bush administration has effectively torn up the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by granting India a special exemption and rights to purchase US nuclear technologies.
Bush is being pragmatic. India has had nuclear weapons for over thirty years now and never signed the agreement because of the fact that China, Britain, Russia, the US, and France already had large arsenals prior to the treaty of 1970. It is implausible to think they are going to somehow be persuaded to give up their weapons today, especially with nuclear Pakistan next door. It is better to have some international presence in the country and open up markets for big US companies like GE than shun Singh for largely ideological reasons.

Nuclear power is the most cost effective form of renewable fuel currently in existence and it is clean. Currently, India is the world's sixth largest consumer of oil, and with an economic growth rate topping 7% that consumption is only going to increase. Backing the drive toward nuclear power (ten reactors are on the way) will weaken the influence of nearby neighbors on India, like Iran.

Nuclear weapon abstinence shouldn't be our goal. Pretending that a democratic, Hindu nation with a British colonial past that is opening up economically to the developed world is somehow comparable to North Korea or Saudi Arabia is silly moral posturing. The country has refused to give nuclear technology to Libya and Iran.

India is strategically located. Armed and on relatively good terms with the US, it can serve as a counterbalance to China and an insurance policy against Pakistan should Musharraf be overthrown.

I am not convinced that India will be able to parallel China's ascent onto the world stage. Despite high-tech pockets, India is destitutely poor (44% of India's population lives on less than $1 a day, compared to 19% in China). Over a third of its population is illiterate (40% in India compared to only 9% in China), and India's average IQ is estimated to be around 81 compared to China's score of 100, while India's PPP is $3,400 to China's $6,200. Of the Indian families I know (a grande sample of three!), two are Brahmin and one is Kshatriya (all three fathers are engineers). These upper castes are probably quite distinct (and enjoy high average IQs) from the meaner ones due to so little mixing of castes in marriage and offspring. India also has a wide spectrum of ethnic groups who are linguistically and culturally disparate. China, by contrast, is 92% Han.

But India is progressively instituting liberal economic reforms, increasing spending on education, and making other infrastructure investments. If Japan similarly serves as a counterweight to China, any threat of Chinese expansionism might be contained. We should strive for this sort of balance rather than any military or economic action directed specifically against China. Allowing Taiwan and Japan to acquire nuclear weapons could insure stability in East Asia and the South Pacific.

Finally, having a friend so close to Pakistan can only be beneficial. Although there is a ruckus over Iran's nuclear activities, Pakistan already has nuclear weapons (and has shared nuclear technology all over the place). Musharraf is about the best friend we can expect from that area of the world, but his regime is hated by Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups (and unpopular in the Muslim world in general). He's been targeted by assassins and his regime could be toppled. In that unhappy scenario, a Taliban-like government with nuclear capabilities would come into power in Pakistan.

Oh, and we get mango.

(International)

Dubious Dubai arguments

I don't pretend to have enough information to come to an empirically impeccable position on "Port Gate". The inner-workings of the port transit, how embedded the FBI and CIA are in terms of maritime intelligence, or how well-vetted are Dubai Ports World employees and contractors are all variables it's hard to get a straight answer to. But some criticism of those questioning the prudence of the deal (I am in this camp because it seems an unnecessary risk) strikes me as quite spurious.

"P&O is a British company. We've been outsourcing terminal operations for years, so why the fuss now?"

Foreign ownership is not the problem. Occidental countries of the same civilization as we who are more threatened by Islamic terrorism than we are (read Western Europe) are a far cry from Arab Middle Eastern states controlled by emirs who must make concessions to extremists to avoid being toppled by them. Further, P&O is a publicly-traded private sector company while DPW is a government-controlled entity. Thus P&O is held accountable by millions of shareholders and subject to more transparency in compliance with oversight regulations.

"Yes, two 9/11 hijackers were from the UAE, but Britain has terrorists. So does the US, for that matter!"

Disingenuous equivocation. Comprehension of statistical discrimination is crucial here. Pit bulls and border collies have both killed people. But having a border collie is obviously not as dangerous as having a pit bull. Jim is a long-time alcoholic who is plastered every night. Jeff, who is usually a lover of sobriety, got wasted three months ago. Both men are not equally addicted to alcohol. This is of the same nature as the dubious charge that because there are Christian extremists who blow up abortion clinics (once every half decade or so with virtually no support from the community they come from) and Wahabbi extremists who burn down embassies, blow up subways and buses, burn cars, murder filmmakers in the street, etc on a regular basis, Christianity and Islam are equally violent in nature.

"Chinese companies are involved in port operations on the Pacific coast."

The PRC has much to lose in the event of terrorist activity via a Chinese company. It would be economically and politically disastrous for a nation that does so much business with the US to have anything of the sort occur. The same can probably be said of the UAE emirs, but unlike the Emirates, China does not have a homegrown movement bent on the destruction of the degenerate, capitalistic West (if anything, they want to be more like us and are being held back by their government--the opposite of the situation in the Middle East). And those are joint operations with US companies (which may end up occuring in the DPW case).

(Terrorism)