Saturday, May 31, 2008

Demographic profile of Maxim's hottest 100

++Addition++Is Agnostic's last name is O'Brien? My thoughts are apparently contained within his, though he knows much beyond! He did a similar analysis of Maxim's hottest in '06, of which I was totally unaware.

Interestingly, he found average height to be exactly the same as I did for the '08 list, measured in tenths of an inch (about 1.5 inches taller than the broader US female population). He speculates on several reasons as to why that is the case, including longer legs (where most 'extra' height is distributed), a less corpulent appearance (high heels are an artificial way of going about this), height being tied to greater prevalence of male hormones that boost functionality in the competitive world of the celebrity, and as demonstrative of generally better health (which is what I've always assumed).

Agnostic also looked at race and hair color (and Nordic features more generally) in the '06 crop. Among the top tier he finds Nordic features, including blond hair, to be lacking. In '08, however, blue hair and blond eyes are much overrepresented among Maxim's white women than they are among American white women in general.

He points to Hispanic overrepresentation, but it is a bit misleading if thought about in racial terms. Without knowing the names, Cameron Diaz (blond hair, blue eyes, slightly yellow-tinted skin that would probably lead me to guess some East Asian ancestry before anything Latin American) and Christina Aguilera (also blonde hair, blue eyes) don't look Hispanic. Daniella Alonso (who looks Filipino), Jordana Brewster, and Cinthia Moura don't really, either. They could just as easily (actually straining less credulity to the guy seeing them for the first time) be from Spain, like Penelope Cruz is.

N/A points out that Maxim's list (to the extent that it is indicative) proxies for what American men, with minority influences from non-whites, find attractive, not just the 'tastes' of northwestern European-descended white men.

Peter corrects the non-heterosexual count by adding fallen angel Lindsey Lohan. It might be a dopey publicity stunt though, and probably wasn't known when the list was compiled.

---

Maxim magazine just released its list of the 100 "hottest" females. The list is billed as being global in scope, but as the vast majority of its readers--and the women selected--hail from the Anglosphere (specifically the US, though the magazine is based in Great Britain), it provides a good indicator of what is attractive in the eyes of northwestern European-descended men.

One conceivable disadvantage in trying to gauge the demographic characteristics of sexual attractiveness by using such a list is that the women included are not obscure. Achieving some level of fame is a prerequisite to being considered for inclusion.

But much of that fame is garnered by attractiveness in the first place. And even though, undoubtedly, these are not the absolutely 100 most desirable women extant, there's no reason to think that attractive women thus far passed over systematically differ from those who've been noticed. This is in contrast to gauging attractiveness from a list of porn stars who probably do systematically differ from the broader attractive population**. Girls identified early on for their physical appeal have little incentive to go in this vulgar direction. Only a small handful of those included in the list have been involved in pornography.

Further, the level of recognition is relative--these women are all accomplished in a popular sense, but they are by-and-large not the most familiar females in the public mind. Before doing the analysis, I was only at least vaguely familiar with one-quarter (25 of 100) of those who made the cut*. Admittedly, I'm not a consumer of much popular culture (I've never looked at an actual Maxim in my life), but just scoping out Yahoo news each day means I'm aware of far more than 25 female celebrities.**

The following table presents the data on characteristics that are determinable for everyone included. The percentages look a little goofy given a 100-person list, but Maxim had to do what creators of similar lists so often do by including a single entry that actually comprises five people (the Pussycat Dolls). So I drew upon my shallow knowledge of US history and counted each of these women as one-fifth of a person.


Average age27.6 years
Average height^5' 5.6''
Race^^
White81.15%
Hispanic^^^8.85%
Black6.35%
Asian3.65%
Eye color~
Brown47.6%
Blue27.2%
Green25.2%
Eyes (whites only)
Blue35.1%
Brown33.8%
Green31.0%
Hair color~~
Blond48.4%
Brown39.2%
Black10.4%
Red2.0%
Hair (whites only)
Blonde62.3%
Brown32.5%
Black2.6%
Red2.6%


^Figures for height are estimated conservatively--when I found conflicting numbers, I averaged them when there were multiple estimates on the high end and fewer or just one on the low end, but disregarded lone high figures when the majority of sources reported the woman to be shorter.
^^Mixed-race women are split between the two-plus groups they belong to. So Alicia Keys adds .5% to both the black and white totals. Only ten (plus a couple of the PussyCat Dolls) of the 100 women included are mixed.
^^^ I didn't include Christina Aguilera, Cameron Diaz, Fergie, Sofia Vergara, Paz Vega, or Penelope Cruz in the Hispanic category as they all appear to be (and look) quite European. Others, like Kat Von D and Eva Mendes, who look to be much more Spaniard than Indian, are counted as Hispanic. I'm comfortable that if anything, the 8.85% Hispanic figure is high. Perhaps "Amerindian" might be a better designation, which is more-or-less what comes to the minds of most when they see the term "Hispanic" anyhow.
~ In the case of hazel eyes, which tend to be brown nearer the pupil and become progressively more green as the distance from it increases, I went with what color (brown or green) seemed to dominate in photos of the women.
~~ Current, not necessarily natural, hair color. It's a tough attribute since 'hot' women feel the need to be so capricious with their hair.

White women dominate, specifically women with Nordic features. The average height is about 1.5 inches taller than that of the US female population at large. Among whites, blond hair is significantly overrepresented. Blue eyes are as well, to a slightly lesser extent. A study from '02 of Americans born between 1936 and 1951 found 33.8% had blue eyes, a significant decline from the 57.4% born at the beginning of the 20th Century who had them.

Presumably that proportion has come close to being cut in half yet again for those born in the US today, as more than half of newborns are non-whites. I've not been able to find anything confirming it explicitly, though epidemiologist Mark Grant puts it at about 17%. Sienna Miller (pictured nearby) captures this profile pretty well and probably comes the closest to encompassing all the attributes tending towards our conception of female beauty.

Multiple bios reported some Native American ancestry, but never traced any specific lineage. The list doesn't contain much in the way of raised cheekbones or hooked noses, so I basically disregarded the presumably small contribution made by these women's warrior ancestors.

Orthogonally, why hasn't Clander done a post on how whiterpeople love claiming to be Native American due to a great-great-great grandfather who was half Cherokee? "Protecting the environment is in my blood."

I'm surprised at the small number of Asian women represented. Two-thirds of Maxim's subscribers are college graduates, and the average annual household income of its readership is $65,000. This would, I presume, represent a segment of the white population that is predisposed to finding Asian women attractive. Might this have something to do with Asians (East Asians, anyway, which is where most white attraction for Asians is directed) floundering in the sphere of non-animated/computer-generated entertainment?

With the exception of Gabrielle Union, the black women included do not have prominent West African features. Caramel skin and European features (like Rihanna's green eyes) are a plus. This confirms an analysis conducted by Inductivist Ron Guhname in the supermarket a few months back.

While a light complexion is desirable, red hair is not. Only a couple (three if Lindsey Lohan's auburn hair is counted as red) of flaming Amarants are present.

The average age is higher than what the relentless scholar on girliness as it relates to budding men, Agnostic, renders peak age to be. He puts it between 22-24, and uses data from a 'modeling' agency to arrive at just under 23 years as the zenith. I suspect the age of the beholder factors in to some extent (although the most desirable age for the female will only increase at a small fraction of the rate of a man's age as he gets older). The average Maxim subscriber is 27 (which more likely means something close to 27 years and six months), the average age of the women on the list.

It's not included above, but places of origin are worth remarking on as well. Four-fifths were born in the US, and many of those born outside the US (almost all in the West) now live and work stateside. Of those, a full 20 were born in California, more than twice the number expected based on population distribution alone. Twelve were born in New York, similarly twice what population alone would predict. More attractive women in these states, or is it more the result of lots of media and modeling agencies based in these places? Texas, with eight, was also overrepresented.

Also, although manly men like to cackle about how they find lesbianism 'hot', the list seems devoid of lesbians. Tila Tequila and Nelly Furtado are bisexual, but I'm not aware of any of the other women being so (although it wasn't looked for, so I may be off the mark here).

The data are here, via Swivel.

* I'm familiar with five of the eight black women (and three of the four 'unmixed' blacks). When you spend time in a place where the metro's hip-hop station is constantly being played, it's hard not to hear about black celebrities--the DJs talk about virtually nothing else.

** Some of the women, like Whitney Able, are virtually impossible to find any information on. The only source I found on her reported an age of 38, which strikes me as too old given her physical appearance. (I estimated her age to be 28--she was the only person that an age estimation was necessary for).

*** Specifically, porn stars (I think, although I own no pornographic material and have never seen more than a few seconds at a time--I'm going off of the photos provided via Agnostic's agency which are for mature eyes only) tend to have luscious upper torsos and backsides, but relatively mediocre facial features that tend towards manliness (for lack of a better descriptor, black guys I know would consider them hotter than I would). The genuine celebrities in Maxim's list, by contrast, approximate real beauty in more than just a sexual sense.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Majority of Americans want coastal, wilderness areas opened up for oil drilling

Futurepundit's Randall Parker sees restrictions on domestic oil production effectively serving to lower the US' collective time preference for gasoline. We'll pass on the marshmallow now to guarantee a couple of them down the road--or at least we'll let it roast for awhile until it takes on a golden hue:
The NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) environmentalists have done an excellent job of blocking oil drilling off the US east and west coasts, the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, and other US lands. I thank them for preserving that oil for when we really need it (granted that was not their motivation). Because they tirelessly worked to preserve that oil for the future the shifting political winds caused by high gasoline prices will eventually unlock a substantial chunk of US oil for development. ...

It does not matter whether the bans get lifted this year. If $4 gasoline isn't enough to lift the drilling bans then surely $6, $7, or $8 gasoline will do the trick. I can't imagine that $10 per gallon gasoline will be necessary to make people tell their elected officials that they want the drilling rigs unleashed.
This isn't the first time RP's provided this insight. At the $4 threshold, public opinion appears to have shifted in the direction he's predicted it would. A Gallup poll released yesterday finds that by a 57%-41% margin, Americans favor allowing drilling in US coastal and wildnerness areas currently off-limits. Just a little over a year ago, the numbers were reversed. The public opposed opening up ANWR for drilling by a 57%-39% margin.

According to the Bureau of Land Management, domestically there are upwards of 35 billion barrels of oil under federal lands, the vast majority of which are currently inaccessible due to political opposition. Additionally, there are another 23 billion barrels worth sit in offshore locations currently closed to drilling:
In a report last week, the federal Bureau of Land Management stated that at current U.S. consumption levels there are four years worth of oil and 10 years worth of natural gas under federal lands. However, more than 90% of that energy was under lands either closed to development or open with significant environmental restrictions. The federal Minerals Management Service said an additional three years worth of oil and gas is in offshore areas where drilling isn't allowed.
These estimates may be low-balling the actual amount of oil and natural gas to be harvested off the country's coasts. It has been more than three decades since assessments utilizing seismic technology have been made:
Little data exist about how much oil and gas might be found under the waters now closed for exploration. Federal agencies are prevented from doing rudimentary geological surveys in most areas to pinpoint areas of interest. The last time the industry shot seismic imagery was in the 1970s when this widely used search technology was in its infancy.
Other polling data show that the public is no longer under the assumption that high gas prices are a temporary sufferance that will dissipate when global supply catches up to demand. In February of '03, those who thought a secular rise in prices had begun were in the minority, 36%-62%. Five years later, in early May of this year, the majority clearly thought high prices are here to stay, 78%-19%.

The basic principles of supply and demand aren't working as they 'should' if significantly increasing supply is an option:
Citing U.S. Energy Department data, the paper says that "the amount of petroleum products shipped by the world's top oil exporters fell 2.5% last year, despite a 57% increase in prices, a trend that appears to be holding true this year as well," and that this is partly due to higher demand for oil from within the petroleum-rich Persian Gulf region.

As indicated by such a steep price increase (although the depreciation of the dollar is playing into this as well), global demand continues to increase. But supply isn't keeping up. The big exporters don't appear able (or willing) to bring more oil to market.

It will be interesting to see how a Democratic Whitehouse and Congress react to increasing public pressure for more domestic production. Will a President Obama feel beholden to whiter "eggheads" of an environmental stripe, or working-class blacks (and Hispanics and whites) who, working scheduled shifts at specific locations that must be driven to, are much less able to avoid the economic pain $4-plus prices bring? If he opts for the latter, will the whiterpeople even be able to muster the ignobility required to criticize him? (Tangentially, I suspect an Obama Presidency will be one that sees Executive power potentially taken to a level it hasn't been to since FDR--who in the major media outlets or Beltway will be willing to meaningfully criticize him?)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Blacks nearly 12 times as likely as Asians to have kids placed in foster care

++Addition++Commenter Marc adds:
I had the AFCARS raw dataset from 2004 open on my competer, so I ran an analysis to see if I could answer my own earlier question regarding rates of kinship care among black and white children in foster care. Here's what I found (again, all stats from 2004):

Of the 94,483 black children discharged from foster care, 12,860, or 13%, were discharged to a relative guardian. Of the 182,941 white children discharged from foster care in 2004, 20,453, or 11%, were discharged to a relative guardian.Of the 15,087 black children adopted from foster care, 4077, or 27%, were adopted by a relative. Of the 29,244 white children adopted from foster care, 5861, or 20%, were adopted by a relative.

Of the 279,421 black kids living in foster care for some portion of the year, 69,888 or 25% were living with relatives. Of the 474,734 white children living in foster care for some portion of the year, 101,300, or 21%, were living with relatives.

So black children getting adopted from foster care are somewhat more likely to be adopted by relatives than white kids (27% vs. 20%), black kids exiting foster care are slightly more likely to be discharged to a relative guardian than white kids (13% to 11%), and black kids in foster care are slightly more likely to be living with relatives than white kids (25% vs. 21%). The differences support the hypothesis that blacks are more likely to utilize kinship care networks, but not by a lot, at least in regard to the foster care system.
So basically the tendency of black grandparents and other kin support network members to take in children isn't that overwhelming. I knew it was a relatively more common occurence among blacks than whites, but as you say, not by much. Nowhere near enough to explain the 'abandonment' gap--it's not as though the non-relative abandonment rates are similar between blacks and whites.

---

The table below presents an index of the frequency of having a child placed in foster care by major racial/ethnic catergory in the US. Only domestic forfeitures are included (international adoptions are excluded). It is computed by simply taking the percentage of children of a group entering foster care and dividing it by that group's percentage of the national population. Adjustments for unknown or two-plus race are made in both cases; these categories are excluded from the analysis. A 1.00 score indicates the national average:

RaceAbandonment
Native American2.26
Black2.20
Hispanic1.36
Pacific Islander1.36
n-H White0.72
Asian0.19

For HBD-realists, the relative 'performances' aren't terribly surprising. The likelihood of raising one's own kids isn't the elusive desirable attribute that correlates inversely with IQ. So the search will continue.

The adoption data comes from the US Department of Health and Human Services, which aggregates data submitted by states over a period covering six months. The data are sometimes incomplete or must be revised and consequently the total figures are estimates. All the numbers are from '06.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

No guts, all glory?

The most enjoyable news items are those as likely to appear in The Onion as in The Wall Street Journal:
G8 environment ministers endorsed slashing emissions in half by 2050, but failed to agree on near-term targets.

(The above happens to come from the latter).

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Roads clearer on Memorial Day due to costlier gas or costlier everything?

My second favorite Big Four firm predicts that this Memorial Day weekend will see fewer cars on the road than has been the case in years past:
American highways and byways could be considerably less crowded than usual this holiday weekend, with motorists staying closer to home or off the road altogether in response to soaring fuel prices, a survey released this week said.

About one-third of all Americans plan to travel this Memorial Day weekend, according to a new report from Deloitte & Touche, but nearly a quarter of them have changed plans due to the pinch at the pump and 12% have cancelled road trips altogether.
Gas prices are something that the public is more interested in than the major media outlets appear to be. Pew reports that while 31% of the public monitored stories on gas prices more closely than any other subject last week, only 3% of total media news coverage was devoted to them. So anxiety over more costly fill-ups could be keeping people from heading to the lake this weekend. If it's not putting an unsurmountable financial obstacle in their paths, it may be putting a psychological one in the way instead.

But rising prices in general are probably what's really to 'blame' for the putative pull-back. If the price of gas had increased $.65 a gallon from last year while other economic indicators remained healthy, it would translate into a whopping $15 more to take a 600-mile roundtrip (26 mpg) to the big lake in the middle of the state compared to last year.

Gas prices are particularly salient because purchases are frequent, relatively large, and more-or-less unavoidable. But it's not just the rising price of oil or corn that is making people tighten their belts. It's the weakening of the US dollar, pushing domestic prices up everywhere, that is causing the (necessary, in my view) pain.

Oil companies' profits, or profit margins?

Radio hosts Neal Boortz and Laura Ingraham, presumably among several others, have been defending private oil as it's harangued by Congressional critters Maxine Waters and Dick Durbin. They say it's not profit but profit margins that are relevant to discussions on gouging and unfair pricing.

Well, margins have also been tracking upwards for oil producers (unlike gasoline retailers, who continue to make the same $.02-$.12 per gallon that they made when the stuff cost a third of what it does today). Exxon-Mobil's total profit margin, by year:

'98: 4.8%
'99: 4.3%
'00: 7.6%
'01: 7.2%
'02: 5.6%
'03: 8.7%
'04: 8.5%
'05: 10.1%
'06: 10.8%
'07: 10.0%

If it cost you $1 to pull a turnip last year and this year it cost you $2 to pull one up while not using any more labor or capital to pull it out of the ground this year than you were before, if you were selling it last year for $2 but now you're selling it for $4, you're making twice as much (assuming no inflation) without increasing your workload at all. Patently unfair, no?

So long as demand and supply also stay constant (I'm simplifying, I know), margin is just an abstract idea that doesn't mean anything to anyone.

The argument is made even less forceful when the radio personalities start taking aim at how much income tax receipts for the government have increased over the same period of time as big oil's 'outrageous' profits have--from $6.5 billion the year the Iraq war began to almost $30 billion last year.

True enough, but the tax margin on pre-tax income remained almost unchanged (from 37% to 42%)! Total governmental take doesn't matter, only effective rates of take are worth talking about!

Why not instead point out that Exxon-Mobil hunts down, harvests, and refines the stuff that powers the developed world, and makes $40 billion a year because people think the company creates at least that much value in doing so, while Waters and Durbin don't create anything for anybody?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Per capita contributions to '08 Presidential election by state as of 3/31/08

Among many portents of the bloodletting the Republican party faces this November has been the Democratic party's fundraising advantage in the Presidential campaign. For every dollar donated, more than $.61 has gone to a Democratic candidate. In '04, the Democratic contenders outdid President Bush, garnering $.57 of each dollar donated to the election. He still won. But the total four years ago was just over $600 million, an amount already surpassed before the candidates for the general election have been decided. And in '00, Republican contenders brought in more money than Democratic contenders did.

Where has the money been coming from? The FEC maintains a user-friendly site that tracks donations by state and by candidate. Before presenting per capita donations, allow me to address a bemusing aspect of the FEC numbers.

Donation totals by state appear to exclude money given by PACs, political parties, or the candidates themselves, in addition to gifts over $2,300 given by an individual donor, the maximum amount that can be donated to a candidate for a specific campaign. Anything given beyond that amount is reclassified either as being designated for another campaign or as having come from a different person (a spouse, parent, or friend?).

I think this is the case because the national total from data available at the state level comes to $352 million on the Democratic side, while the total individual contribution is listed as $485 million. The total amount given in donations under $2000 comes to $323 million. So if $29 million came in the form of donations in the $2000-$2300 range, that's what's going on.

I'm not sure why this would be, but it'd actually make for a better gauge of popular involvement in the Presidential campaign by removing the few major donors who would otherwise skew per capita donations upward by significant (and varying) amounts at the state level.

However, that presumes over $100 million given by individuals at levels above $2300, which seems too high. It might have to do with people giving campaign contributions from outside the US, or it might just be that the FEC is a little sloppy and hasn't attributed every donation to the state it came from.

There might be something else going on as well. Initially, I used CNN's Campaign Money Race interactive map (scroll down a little and click on the graphic to the left of the page), but it differed from data provided by the FEC in a seemingly random way (it mostly reports lower amounts than the FEC does, but in several cases it reports higher totals than the FEC does). I contacted the organization to ask if they could clear it up for me but haven't yet received a response.

That said, the per capita donations as of March 31, by state in totality and by party affiliation of the recipients:

StateTotal DemsReps
1) D.C.25.7022.233.48

2) Connecticut

4.052.681.36
3) New York4.013.030.98
4) New Mexico3.853.550.30
5) Massachusetts3.292.261.04
6) Utah2.840.482.36
7) Maryland2.842.230.61
8) California2.561.810.74
9) Virginia2.391.460.93
10) Illinois2.361.850.51
11) New Jersey2.221.450.77
12) New Hampshire2.051.160.89
13) Delaware1.971.590.38
14) Florida1.900.990.91
15) Vermont1.891.530.36
16) Colorado1.861.190.66
17) Nevada1.770.810.96
18) Washington1.661.230.43
19) Texas1.650.790.86
20) Rhode Island1.621.230.39
21) Arizona1.550.551.01
22) Wyoming1.520.670.85
23) Tennessee1.210.320.88
24) Arkansas1.160.620.53
25) Hawaii1.130.860.27
26) Pennsylvania1.120.780.34
27) Maine1.090.830.27
28) Oregon1.090.730.36
29) Idaho1.090.280.81
30) Georgia1.080.580.50
31) Missouri0.960.510.45
32) South Carolina0.950.390.56
33) Oklahoma0.940.530.41
34) Alaska0.930.510.42
35) North Carolina0.930.620.30
36) Minnesota0.880.600.28
37) Montana0.860.520.34
38) Michigan0.810.330.48
39) Iowa0.780.460.32
40) Louisiana0.760.370.39
41) Kansas0.730.290.45
42) Ohio0.720.390.33
43) Wisconsin0.680.400.28
44) South Dakota0.680.230.45
45) Alabama0.670.340.34
46) Kentucky0.620.420.20
47) Nebraska0.600.350.24
48) Mississippi0.550.200.35
49) West Virginia0.530.350.17
50) Indiana0.510.290.22
51) North Dakota0.360.140.22

Here's a visual representation via Many Eyes. Proximity to the coasts leads to more money coughed up. That is likely due in large part to Democratic-leaning states giving more than Republican-leaning states have given. Total per capita contributions correlate with Kerry's share of the '04 vote at a statistically significant .67. Donations to Democrats correlate with Kerry's share at a slightly more robust .70.

However, on the Republican side the relationship is much weaker. Donations to GOP candidates correlate with Bush's share of the '04 vote at only .38. As the Republican field leaned considerably further to the left and towards neoconservatism than does the Republican electorate, excepting Mormon Utah (which gave more to Romney than it gave to all the other candidates from both parties combined), the most generous states for Republicans--DC, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York--are hardly conservative strongholds.

Not surprisingly, people in the nation's capital, where politics is in the water, are far-and-away the most likely in the country to make contributions.

I'm curious as to why Nutmeggers have given so much, especially to Republicans. It isn't the result of a single candidate dominating--McCain, Romney, and Giuliani all raised about $1.5 million from the state.

Fielding a candidate helps. Dodd's from Connecticut (#2). Hillary and Giuliani are from New York (#3). Richardson's from New Mexico (#4). Romney is from, uh, both Massachusetts and Utah (#5 and #6). Hunter from California (#8), Obama from Illinois (#10), Biden from Delaware (#13), Paul from Texas (#19), McCain from Arizona (#21), Thompson from Tennessee (#23), and Huckabee from Arkansas (#24). It didn't do much for Edwards in North Carolina (#35) though, where demographics helped Obama outraise the former Senator in the state he'd represented for six years.

Part of the GOP's underwhelming performance might be blamed on the fact that the party's contest was effectively over in early March. That doesn't offer much comfort though. Even having the nomination squared away, McCain's contribution-seeking is resulting in a paucity of donations. Romney still had him beat two months after endorsing the Arizona Senator. Hillary has outraised him more than $2-to-$1; Obama has him beat nearly $3-to-$1. Further, one-in-four Republican primary participants continue to vote against him.

The per capita party advantage by state:

StateDem $ +(-)
1) D.C.18.75
2) New Mexico3.26
3) New York2.05
4) Maryland1.62
5) Illinois1.34
6) Connecticut1.32
7) Massachusetts1.22
8) Delaware1.22
9) Vermont1.18
10) California1.07
11) Rhode Island0.85
12) Washington0.81
13) New Jersey0.68
14) Hawaii0.59
15) Maine0.56
16) Virginia0.53
17) Colorado0.53
18) Pennsylvania0.44
19) Oregon0.37
20) North Carolina0.32
21) Minnesota0.31
22) New Hampshire0.27
23) Kentucky0.21
24) West Virginia0.18
25) Montana0.17
26) Iowa0.14
27) Oklahoma0.13
28) Wisconsin0.11
29) Nebraska0.11
30) Arkansas0.09
31) Alaska0.09
32) Georgia0.09
33) Florida0.09
34) Indiana0.08
35) Ohio0.06
36) Missouri0.06
37) Alabama0.00
38) Louisiana(0.03)
39) Texas(0.07)
40) North Dakota(0.07)
41) Mississippi(0.15)
42) Michigan(0.15)
43) Nevada(0.15)
44) Kansas(0.16)
45) South Carolina(0.17)
46) Wyoming(0.17)
47) South Dakota(0.22)
48) Arizona(0.46)
49) Idaho(0.53)
50) Tennessee(0.56)
51) Utah(1.88)

The swing states are all giving more money to Democrats. Only Michigan--stripped of its delegates and devoid of Obama or Edwards on the ballot--strays from that trend. Even Obama's racialism, leftism, and putative elitism may not be enough to keep him from becoming the most powerful man in the world.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Ag-Jobs resurrected (again) by Feinstein and attached to war funding bill

++Addition++The full Senate is going to begin 'working' on the bill tomorrow (Tuesday). There is still time to share your thoughts on the amendment with your Senators. Contact them here.

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The Senate Appropriations committee has approved a free-riding Feinstein Ag-Jobs amendment to an upcoming Iraq spending bill. According to NumbersUSA, it will grant legal status to as many as 1.35 million migrants and their families for at least the next five years, when the provisions sunset.

Feinstein asserts that without the amendment, food will rot in the fields and farmwork will move to Mexico. But if you haven't noticed, food prices keep shooting upward. Food shortages have resulted in riots in several poor countries, because it's becoming more expensive to eat. As the USDA reports, it's a good time to be involved in agriculture:

Net farm income is forecast to be $92.3 billion, up 4.1 percent above the $88.7 billion farmers are projected to have earned in 2007 and 51 percent above its 10-year average of $61.1 billion.

Net cash income, at $96.6 billion, is forecast to be $9 billion (10 percent) above 2007, which was the previous record. Net cash income is projected to rise more than net farm income because of the large carryover of crops harvested in the prior year, which will be sold in 2008.

The story in 2008 is the value of crop production ($175.5 billion), which is forecast to exceed the 2007 record by $25.9 billion (a 17-percent increase). Prices of major crops (corn, soybeans, wheat) were trending upward in late 2007 and are expected to maintain or add to those gains in early 2008.
An end to all illegal farm labor would, by the pro-legalization Utah Farm Federation Bureau's own estimates, result in a net loss of $5 billion (as of '06) for US farmers. So the industry would see its profits reduced by less than 10%.

As CATO's Daniel Griswold points out, the industry receives nearly four times the amount of that profit loss each year in the form of government subsidies:
During the past twenty years, farm programs have cost America's non-farm households a cumulative $1.7 trillion. That is how much non-farm households would have in the bank today if they had been allowed to save and invest what they have been forced to surrender to favored farmers through our never-ending farm programs. ...

Farm support programs cost taxpayers nearly $20 billion a year, real money even in Washington. ...

Average household income for family farms is now 10 percent [how fitting!] above the average income for non-farm households.
That the agricultural industry receives double-subsidization while still coming out nearly $100 billion in the black reveal Feinstein's warnings to be tripe. But I'd much rather increase federal subsidies another $10 billion through guaranteed purchase agreements and even direct cash transfers than grant legalization to millions of migrant farmworkers.

The costs of unfettered immigration of Hispanic menials far exceeds an accounting cost of $5-$10 billion for US farm interests. In addition to at least half of illegal immigrant households costing the net taxpayer an average of over $22,000 a year in benefits beyond the tax contributions they make, these costs include depressed academic achievement and lowered average IQ, a decrease in housing affordability, increased infrastructure usage and pollution, atavistic diseases returning to the US after decades of absence, an increasing percentage of the population lacking health insurance, etc.

The Senate could potentially vote on the bill, which has now cleared committee, as early as today. If not today, then sometime early next week. Contact your Senators and let them know how you feel about granting amnesty to illegal farmworkers. Information for doing so is available here. NumbersUSA has some useful talking points that can be used equally well if you decide to call, write, fax, or email. You might also mention disgust at the furtive way Feinstein is going about pushing this on us, attaching it to a war spending bill.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Coming up with monetary SoL by state without dropping $95

I'd like to do a follow-up on Steve Sailer's monetary standard-of-living by state post, but using a more valid cost-of-living measure than he did. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) quarterly puts out a nationwide cost-of-living by state table. That's where Steve's CoL data come from.

MERIC gets its numbers from ACCRA's (now called C2ER) cost-of-living index, which measures CoL by city across six cost categories, which are then used to compute each city's total CoL index score. MERIC comes up with a simple average for each state using all of the cities within that state that participate in the survey. It makes no adjustment for population size. So in California, the cities of Palm Springs and Los Angeles are given equal weight in determining the CoL for the state as a whole.

Conveniently, this method makes Missouri appear more affordable relative to other states than it should. ACCRA uses 100 as its index average, so a city's score is always relative to the other city's participating during the same time period. MERIC boasts that Missouri has the fifth lowest cost-of-living in the country, at 90.3. If Missouri's composite score is adjusted for population size, it rises to 92.2. Only two of the seven participating cities are in the more expensive northwestern section of the state (Kansas City and St. Joseph), even though they represent nearly half of the participating population.

But for most states, the MERIC simple average actually makes them appear more costly than a weighted average would. The MERIC method yields a simple state average of 104.3 and a population-weighted state average of 106.3 for the US as a whole.

Since ACCRA's average is actually 100, the MERIC method is inflating most states' CoL, while deflating Missouri's. Again, Missouri's score of 90.3 using the MERIC method is lower than the 92.2 it receives when population is taken into account, something ACCRA presumably does. But the nationwide average is 104.3 or 106.3 using the MERIC method--higher than the ACCRA average of 100. Sneaky devils!

With access to ACCRA data for all participating cities across the country (MERIC's site shows the numbers for each of Missouri's particpating states), it would be possible to come up with a more accurate state CoL comparison than what MERIC provides. However, in Excel format, it runs at $95 for a single quarter.

Setting myself back like that is psychologically tough to do. I love blogging and wouldn't want (okay, wouldn't be able) to make a penny from it, but incurring accounting costs* in doing so is a hard pill to swallow, even a trivial amount like this. So if anyone happens to have access to the data and would be willing to send it to me, it'd be greatly appreciated. I wouldn't make the ACCRA data public, of course.

* As active bloggers know, work is an infernal enemy always nipping at the ankles. Economic costs certainly do exist.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hillary's avalanche: Momentum not worth mentioning

With the question of how Florida and Michigan delegates will be placed (if at all) effectively Hillary's last stand, the Senator is (finally) hinting at how she's better able to attract white support than Obama is:
"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."
Pointing out that modestly educated, working-class whites are a foundational pillar of support is enough to make most whiterpeople vomit. But from the beginning of March onward, Hillary's domination of the white vote has grown increasingly pronounced.

Two-thirds of the voters in the states that have held Democratic contests from March 4th to today (Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wyoming*, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and North Carolina) have been white. Hillary has garnered 61% (4.4 million) of these voters to Obama's 39% (2.8 million). She failed to get a majority only in the two smallest of those states, Vermont and Wyoming.

She's also headed for an easy win in blue-collar, white West Virginia today.

Granted, it is improper for a white candidate to harp on 'momentum' among white voters! But that Hillary is beating Obama (who represent more than three-fourths of the electorate) by a wider margin among white voters than Bush beat Kerry by (58%-41%) is something she and her surrogates would be crazy not to point out. That they've mostly avoided the racial angle, when it has been absolutely essential to Obama's success, is more startling than her bland truism excerpted above.

* Since Wyoming held caucuses, no exit polling data from the state are available. To estimate, I compared the number of voters in Vermont (the total populations of the two states are similar) who supported Kerry in '04 with the number of voters who supported him in Wyoming, then extrapolated an estimated turnout for Wyoming's Democratic caucus based on the turnout for Vermont's primary (thus overestimating Wyoming's caucus numbers, as caucuses bring out fewer people than primaries do). I assumed Wyoming's racial/ethnic mix in the caucus mirrored the state's demographic profile on the whole. Both of these assumptions inflate the total white support Obama netted in the state relative to Hillary.

Treat the girl like a hill to be taken?

The topic of "what women want" isn't one I spend much time contemplating. I tend to think the (non-post modern feminist) conventional wisdom regarding what is desired in a man more-or-less gets it right: Financial success, self-confidence, good personal hygiene (including dress), intelligence, being one standard deviation above the mean in height, a symetrical and handsome face, somewhat older (in the range of 2-8 years), a toned upper body, the more athletic the better, etc.

But I've put myself on a sort of self-imposed relationship hiatus, to attain financial security and sow my other wild oats, like catching up on my RPG pile and biking the terrain trains once chugged across. So I'm aware I might not know what I'm talking about. At Al Fin, I saw Dennis Mangan mention this post from Roissy, who I've seen commenting in other areas of the blogosphere I frequent but who sticks in my mind because I like her, er, his, name*. It suggests as much to me, that I am indeed uninformed (I toned the vulgarity down):

What is it that separates those select few men from all the rest? The ones who wield illimitable power to inflame the desires of women?

The key to their power is not money or sports cars or beach houses or post graduate degrees or 50 inch plasma TVs or chocolate covered strawberries on a bed of rose petals or any of that. All of that is incidental and is only important to the extent that it improves your state of mind. No, the real source of this power is already within you. It is how you SEE YOURSELF. It is your decision to move through the world without apology, to set aside complaining for decisive action, to let your brass balls do your talking for you.

The quintessential masculine quality women can’t resist is SUPREME UNSHAKEABLE CONFIDENCE. You can be poor, out of shape, stupid, unemployed, addicted to drugs, and meet every one of society’s standards for LOSERNESS but if you radiate those confident vibes that say you are PERFECTLY PLEASED WITH YOURSELF you will get laid ALL THE TIME. And the kinds of girls who get wet for such men aren’t just bar sluts. Smart women, women with high self-esteems and MBAs and, yes, even — ESPECIALLY – HARDCORE FEMINISTS will crave the man who exudes such power and happily take it if it means he will grace her with the pleasure of his company for a little while longer.

My first reaction was to smile at yet another apparent truism contained in the satirical pleasantries of the pre-11th season Simpsons:

Bart: Face it, Lis--men are dogs. The worse we treat you, the more you want us.
Lisa: That's not what dogs do!
I wonder if those men would be even more desirable if they took that confidence one step further, saying, "To hell with whether or not the girl wants it, she's going to get it, and she's going to like it, my balls being as brass as my knuckles!" Would that "inflame" female desires even more? As much as I detested those Evremonde brothers in A Tale of Two Cities, maybe I should've embraced a dark admiration for them instead!

When I dwelled on her post a little longer though, I realized my own personal experience seems to commend it. My high school and college days are tales of getting the friends of the girl I was after. I have a tendency to deify the girls I like, acting the chivalrous and selfless older brother interested only in a platonic relationship. That's not really my natural personality, which is more arrogantly flirtatious in a playfully insulting way. Simply put, the latter has been much more effective in reeling them in. The result was several flings that lasted a couple of weeks or even days, and having been asked out by more girls than I've asked out.

I've known for years that genuflection hasn't been the road to success. My longest relationship, lasting a little over a year, was with a girl I did manage to convince (over several months) with the weak strategy, and she was very candid about it later. She'd thought I was cute and funny enough, but that I was so distant she had no idea I had any interest in her at all and was surprised when I asked to get serious. Of course, looking back she now loved the approach!

Another girl I was disinclined (okay, afraid) to let my feelings be known to crashed her car into another parked car as she was reading the note asking her out that I'd left on her windshield! (If anyone's still reading this, I'm really going to get myself in trouble--a consequence of that sacrosanct devotion is that I'm still in contact with almost every serious girlfriend I've ever had. On the other hand, I can't even get my own mother to read the blog on a regular basis, and virtually every comment I've ever had appears to have come from a male--hardly a unique phenomenon in the blogosphere--so I'm probably safe).

It's not just a matter of making the easier catch, either. My aesthetics are sort of eccentric. I've always been fond of coordinated, athletic girls with tomboyish tendencies--not the 5'8 blonde with long legs in designer jeans but the 5'2 gymnast in sweatpants**.

So Roissy's advice (or revelation), to the extent that it's more-or-less accurate (maybe it's just self-projection), came years too late. In half a decade, when I plan to have a wife in the sights, she won't fit that 'swoonable' profile that Roissy attaches in a general way to most women.

Then again, when I look back at how much time I squandered, even as things were, that I could've used to prep myself for graduate school in one of the sciences or to make myself familiar with the history I'm only now learning, maybe it's not overdue. In any case, the chivalrous distance I maintain is surely more the result of some psychological insecurity than any noble intention on my part, and as such, is not too malleable. Maybe it's what I should do. Won't be what I will do, though.

*This post came out of the assumption that Roissy was female. Naturally, a guy telling other guys what girls want should be, ceteris paribus, treated with more skepticism than should a girl telling guys what girls want.

** That's meant my naive initial image of shy abstention has usually been overly optimistic.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Where do "diversity immigrants" come from?

In an unsettling Parapundit post on Yemen's freeing of those involved in the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, Brent Lane points out that 70 Yemenis have been "registered" and now qualify for permanent residency visas through this year's Diversity Visa Lottery. The DVL is a program that grants legal residency "to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States". Annually, 50,000 visas are granted.

Randall Parker notes the inanity of accepting more Yemenis than Finns into the US:

Seventy Yemenis won US visas through our mind bogglingly foolish diversity lottery. So did 4392 Egyptians. Wonder if any of Mohammed Atta's relatives or friends were among the lucky winners. More Yemenis than Finns came up winners. Can someone explain how this isn't just an incredibly stupid idea for a policy?
I certainly cannot.

The DVL is our most conspicuously idiotic immigration policy, and that's saying a lot. The fewer non-refugee (refugees and asylum seekers do not count 'against' a country in terms of the number of potential diversity visas its citizens are eligible for) immigrants a country has sent to the US over the past five years, the better chance each of its applicants has of winning permanent residency through the DVL. Nearly twice as many applicants are notified they've been "registered" as will actually be granted permanent residency. This is in anticipation that many who are selected will fail to complete their application processes by the end of September, won't receive their snailmail notifications* for a variety of reasons, or will not meet the qualifications for a visa grant.

How stupid an idea for a policy is the DVL? The application process does require a bit more industriousness than following coyotes across the Southern border does. It's not a completely unfettered process.

Applicants must have either graduated from high school or attained an educational equivalent, or have two years of work experience in an occupation that requires as many years of training and/or experience to perform. I wonder how rigorous the educational verification for the more than one thousand people selected from the Sierra Leone really is?

Also, the applications must be submitted electronically, which presumes access to the internet (although agents may act on an applicant's behalf at the applicant's expense, and based on the existence of for-profit services in the US assisting potential applicants, there are surely similar services in operation at the sending end in many countries). The application requirements are fairly detailed ("Photographs of individuals wearing head coverings or hats are only acceptable if related to his/her religious beliefs, and even then, may not obscure any portion of the face of the applicant,"), probably weeding out the least literate who are acting without assistance.

Besides these modest proxies for general competence, however, the lottery is a random process. It is almost the polar opposite of a merit immigration system that selects newcomers based on how they are perceived to benefit the receiving country.

Of the 6.4 million eligible applicants, 96,691 have been registered and now have five months to get everything squared away if they are to become one of the 50,000 who make the 'final cut' (it's not first-come first-served during this time frame--each individual chosen at random receives a number from 1 to 96,691, and the lowest 50,000 who complete all the steps are granted permanent residency in October).

So where do these "diversity immigrants" (really, that's what they're officially called) come from? Here's a visual representation, via Many Eyes, by country of origin. (If anyone is aware of a better application to use for visualizations, please let me know. Many Eyes is quick and easy, but it's too limiting. Most countries send fewer than 1,000 people through the DVL, but the graph doesn't distinguish between those who send a handful and those who send several hundreds).

The percentage breakdown by area of origin for the 96,691 potential residents:

Region
Islamic world37.63%
Africa34.81%
Europe**18.04%
Asia5.81%
Latin America1.91%
Oceania1.77%
North America***0.02%

The Islamic world includes nations where the majority of the population is Muslim. The other continental regions include registered applicants from all non-Islamic majority countries on those respective continents (thus Asia does not include Iran, Afghanistan, etc).

Nigeria, which received the greatest number of registrations, is split equally between the Islamic world and Africa. Half its population is Muslim. If Nigeria is instead counted as part of the Islamic world, the African percentage drops to 30.27% and the Islamic percentage rises to 42.17%. If it is counted as African, the African percentage rises to 39.34% and the Islamic percentage declines to 33.10%.

The European contingent disproportionately comes from Eastern Europe. Only one-fifth of registered applicants from the Old Continent actually hail from Western Europe (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland^, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland). Thus, Western Europeans comprise less than 4% of the total registered applicant pool. As a majority of US citizens trace their ancestries to Western Europe, this makes perfect sense!

Who is the DVL giving us? Presuming these potential immigrants are representative of the countries they come from^^, the weighted average IQ, as estimated at the national level by Lynn and Vanhanen in IQ and Global Inequality, of registered applicants is 79.9^^^, on par with Guatemala and Bhutan. That would put the middling diversity immigrant at about the 36th percentile among blacks, or the 9th percentile among non-Hispanic whites in terms of IQ.

The weighted average Human Development Index (HDI) score~ for the registered applicants' countries of origin is .628, on par with Equatorial Guinea and India. The (apparently unweighted) world average is .743. The US gets a .951. A .999 is the best score attainable. The HDI is comprised of three factors: Life expectancy, education levels, and purchasing power parity.

Even without considering cultural friction and incompatibilities (did we mention that roughly one-in-three of these registered applicants are Muslim?), this is foolish. The Diversity Visa Lottery program should be abolished. Both the House and the Senate voted to strip funding for the DVL in '07, but amendments to the final bill, quietly signed into law by President Bush on December 26th of last year when no one was watching, negated these funding cuts.

Tell your representatives that you don't just want funding cut, you want the entire monstrosity axed. Easily find and contact them here.

The Excel data, including registered applicants by individual country, is available here.

* Curiously, applications must be submitted electronically, but the notices of registration the US government sends out to potential new residents are only distributed via snailmail.

** Israel, from which 150 registered applicants come, is included in the European total. It's not very satisfying, but the other potential classifications--the Islamic world and Asia--are both even less so.

*** The Bahamas exclusively. Neither Canadians nor Mexicans are eligible to participate in the DVL.

^ My judgment call. Only 59 of the nearly 100,000 registered applicants are from Finland, so the classification is negligible one way or the other.

^^ Historically, they tend to be above average, especially those from Europe and Asia, at least in terms of reported educational attainment.

^^^ China's IQ is used for Macau. Serbia's IQ is used for Montenegro. Papua New Guinea's IQ is used for Nauru. Four-fifth's weight is given to Papau New Guinea's IQ and one-fifth's weight is given to China to estimate Palau's IQ. Equal weights are given to Morocco's and Mauritania's IQs to estimate Western Sahara's average IQ.

~ France's HDI is used for French Polynesia, French Guinea, and Martinique. The Netherlands' HDI is used for the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. I calculated the HDI using CIA factbook figures for Afghanistan, Iraq, Kiribati, Liberia, Macau, Monaco, Nauru, North Korea, Palau, Serbia, and Somalia, as UN figures for these countries were either dated or non-existent. Instead of giving a two-thirds weight to literacy and a one-third weight to combined gross enrollment ratio for the "education" portion of the HDI, I simply gave full weight to the literacy rate.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Archiving content in case blog gets vaporized

Since I do not (okay, could not) make any money blogging, I've developed a sense of entitlement to being able to do it for free. After all, that is only "free" in the accounting sense of the word, not the economic one. Not only am I entitled to blogging for free, but also to the guarantee that I'll be able to continue to do it for free, irrespective of the blog's content. Take that 'right' away from me, Google, and expect me to react like Comic Book Guy:
Bart: Hey, I know it wasn't great, but what right do you have to complain?
CBG: As a loyal viewer, I feel they owe me.
Bart: What? They've giving you thousands of hours of entertainment for free. What could they possibly owe you? If anything, you owe them.
CBG: [pauses] Worst episode ever.
Mensarefugee, remarking on Blogger's removal of the blog Why South Africa Sucks for "racist content" (it has since reappeared under a new address), brought up why that might not be the wisest presumption to make:
This was a years old blog with over 3,000 posts - collaboration between at least 5 people, and hundreds of hours of work - just gone.

For others who are concerned about the same thing potentially happening to them, I've been using Facebook as an archive for years. FB imports the contents of my posts into the "notes" application, embedded links and all. I'm hesitant to connect my real name with the blog, as that can wreak serious havoc on one's career, so I've used the notes privacy setting to only allow myself to see the posts as they're fed into my FB account.

There are of course other ways to archive content externally, but I find the FB method especially nice as it is free, the content is transferred verbatim without any transcription issues, and it requires zero work on my part. It all goes automatically. Setting up an account is easy, and it has some other benefits, too.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Top-tier people, ideas, inventions, events, and countries from 1700-present

My younger brother wanted my take on the five most influential and important people, ideas, inventions, events, and countries from the beginning of the 18th Century to the present. I'm notoriously bad at comprising such lists, especially off the top of my head. That's why normative rankings I post here are always (uh, except this time) comprised via a quantitative formula that I am able to explain.

My choices should be enough to cut it in high school honors history, but reader lists would be greatly appreciated. I can never tap that collective erudition enough.

Shooting from the hip in response to a request like his allows me to reflect on why I lean towards some thing and leave another out. Dressing downs for my inclusions and/or omissions are also welcome. I ticked off fifteen people to insulate myself as much as possible from looking foolish by missing somone truly monumental, although in leaving the list devoid of 18th or 19th Century British economists (and every US President including Washington, as Half Sigma points out), I probably did so nonetheless.

People

1) Karl Marx
2) Immanuel Kant
3) Charles Darwin
4) Isaac Newton
5) Alexander Hamilton
6) Josef Stalin
7) Napolean Bonaparte
8) Winston Churchill
9) Albert Einstein
10) Thomas Edison
11) Ben Franklin
12) Francis Galton
13) Adolf Hitler
14) Mao Zedong
15) Ronald Reagan

Ideas

- Natural Selection
- Marxism
- Isonomy (codified equality under the law)
- Secularization of government, politics, culture
- Nationalism

Inventions

- Gasoline-powered internal combustion engine
- Airplanes (or human-on-board flight)
- Microprocessor/PC/internet
- Modern antibiotics
- Steam power

Events

- American Revolution
- Industrial Revolution
- French Revolution
- World War II
- Landing a man on the moon in '69

Countries

- US
- Great Britain
- Russia
- Japan
- France

Friday, May 02, 2008

Demographic profile of the US' top 50 most influential political pundits

++Addition++Steve Sailer weighs in. Bottom-line: The most influential pundits look a lot like the people you see flying in first class. Middle-aged white guys run the country.

---

The Telegraph has released its list of the 50 most influential political pundits in the US. Last winter, the British newspaper released a similarly formatted list of the 100 most influential conservatives and liberals on the US political scene.

That compilation struck me as having a palpable Beltway bias. This time around it feels the same. Michelle Malkin, regular FNC contributor, major league blogger, and author didn't make the cut, but Rachel Maddow, who has a radio show on a network few people listen to, did. Karl Rove was given the top honor, although it strains credulity to think what he says carry more electoral weight than the words of Rush Limbaugh do. Chris Matthews comes in second, bemusing as his program only draws one-fourth the viewership that Bill O'Reilly does. Even The Factor re-run at 11pm eastern draws more than twice the viewership of Matthews' primetime airing. And O'Reilly has a radio show to boot.

This stems from the Telegraph trying to arrive at political parity. I come up with 40% of the pundits falling on the left, 44% on the right, and 16% more-or-less politically neutral (that breakdown may vary a bit--if I had to categorize the 50 dichotomously, I'd probably put all but one member of the neutral contingent on the left).

With most media outlets leaning to the left, that ends up looking silly. If there are more pundits espousing left-leaning commentary, it follows that those pundits will have to divvy up the popularity pie into more pieces than the relatively scarce right-leaning pundits will. And that's on the assumption that the market for political analysis is ideologically split down the middle. Surveys consistently show about twice as many people identify themselves as ideologically conservative compared to the number of people who identify themselves as ideologically liberal, pushing the per pundit popularity balance even further to the right.

But as Steve Sailer has said, the point of these sorts of arguable lists is to, well, generate arguments. Fair enough.

In any case, these lists paint a reasonable demographic picture of the elite opinion makers in the US. The list of the 100 top libs and cons revealed a strong white male dominance on both sides of the political divide.

Many of the people included in those rankings were current or former politicians who are likely to reflect their constituencies, however. Others have military backgrounds or are racial-interests leaders who do not enjoy broad enough appeal to propel themselves into the opinion-giving stratosphere. The elite fifty are even more male and even more white. They're younger too (the top 100 libs and cons averaged around 58 years of age). This isn't a moribund punditry class.

For four people, I had to give my best guess as to their nominal religious affiliation based on birthplace, surname, and commentary. For occupational status, I went with each person's primary medium of communication (Limbaugh as "radio" even though he's written books, Krugman as "print" even though he makes TV appearances, etc).

Average Age52.4 years
Male86%
Female14%
Homosexual6%*
Religion/heritage

Protestant

29%**
Catholic40%***
Jewish27%
Orthodox2%^
Mormon2% ^^
Race/ethnicity
White90%
Black10%
Hispanic0%****
Asian0%
Occupation
Television34%
Radio18%
Internet12%
Print30%
Campaign work4%
Polling2%^^^

* 8% if Matt Drudge is included
** In cases like Bill Maher's, where one parent is Jewish and another is Catholic, 1% of the total is allocated to "Jewish" and the other 1% is allocated to "Catholic"
*** Those who've converted to/from Protestantism to/from Catholicism are counted as belonging to what they have become, not what they were born as (ie, Laura Ingraham)
**** Juan Williams, who was born in Panama, might be considered Hispanic, although as far as I can tell he does not speak Spanish and at least his father, if not also his mother, was black
^ Ariana Huffington; She seems to be some sort of spiritual mystic, but is Greek by heritage
^^ Glenn Beck
^^^ Frank Luntz

No Hispanics or Asians make the cut. The two fastest growing racial/ethnic groups, due in large part to our immigration policies, have not (yet?) entered the ranks of the opinion-dispensing kingmakers.

Uh, I wonder if this provides some insight as to why the elite punditry is so keen on open borders? The newcomers don't compete with them, and they push less desirable elements out into the nation's hinterland for the rednecks to deal with. Even the bright Chinese and Korean arrivals head to MIT instead of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

How much of this utter absence is due to Hispanics' and Asians' high levels of introversion as compared to whites and especially blacks? How much has to do with leading Hispanics focusing their efforts on fighting for special privileges on behalf of other Hispanics? Does the Asian (especially East Asian) tendency towards agreement and collectivism keep them away from the media circuit? Or is it only a matter of time before the talking head class starts to look more like America?

Gays appear to be represented in proportion to their numbers in society at large. Not surprisingly, the Jewish presence far outstrips its representation in the population at large. It is in line with Jewish representation among US nobel prize winners (27%). More remarkably, Catholics are about twice as prominent as would be expected by their national numbers. Is this primarily geographic, as most nationally-syndicated punditry comes out of New York, or something else?

Finally, the internet strikes me as an underappreciated medium of communication, but I suppose I'm biased in this regard!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Most racially motivated crimes don't show up in hate crime statistics

The Inductivist Ron Guhname looks at the '04 NCVS, one of the two primary ways the FBI goes about compiling national crime statistics (the other being the UCR), and finds that the official hate crime statistics do not accurately represent the racial distribution of crimes motivated by hate:
Percent of all racial hate crime offenders

White 21.0
Black 53.3
Other 13.3
Don't know 1.9
Residue 10.5

So, the majority of crimes committed out of racial hatred are perpetrated by blacks, but even this does not show the magnitude of the difference since the U.S. population is only 13% black. Doing the calculations, a black person is 13.3 times more likely than a white to commit this type of crime.
The FBI's most recent report on hate crimes in the US shows blacks to only be 2.2 times more likely to commit a hate crime than whites* are. Since there is more political pressure for prosecutors to designate crimes perpetrated against non-whites (especially blacks) by whites as hate crimes than when the race of the victim and perpetrator are reversed, hate crimes (which might be better dubbed "crimes with hateful motivations") inflate the perception of white nastiness while downplaying the perception of non-white aggressiveness.

Actually surveying victims of criminal activity is a more sound way of approaching the issue. The official 'hate crime' designation obfuscates the actual level and direction of 'hate'-motivated criminality in the US. The way it is reported on demonstrates this to the point of absurdity: The putatively most hateful states report the fewest hate crimes, an increase in hate crimes is seen as an improvement in racial relations or acceptance of alternative lifestyles, and a steep rise in the number of black perpetrators of hate crimes is seen as reason enough for black leaders to decry the rise in total hate crimes as indicative of the increased hate directed at (rather than dispensed by) black America.

The FBI estimates that only 44% of 'hate crimes' are actually reported to law enforcement agencies. There were 7,722 total hate crime incidents reported, of which 51.8% were racially motivated and another 12% motivated by ethnicity or nationality. However, the jurisdictions participating in data collection covered 85.2% of the nation's population. Assuming those motivated by race, sexual orientation, religion, etc are equally likely to go unreported by type and by jurisdictions not reporting, this leads to an estimate of 13,142 for the actual number of racially motivated (I'm including those motivated by ethnicity or nationality in this figure as well) hate crimes annually occuring nationwide. This suggests one racially motivated hate crime is committed for every 22,827 people in the US** each year.

The data Ron uses inquire about the previous six-month period, in which 105 of those interviewed had been a victim of racially motivated crime. To get an annual estimate, double the number to 210. The NCVS interviewed a total of 149,000 individuals. Going this route, we get one racially motivated hate crime committed for every 727 people in the US on an annual basis.

The above suggests that there are 31 times as many people who report to have been a victim of a racially motivated crime than the FBI believes there are crimes taking place that should be designated as racially motivated hate crimes.

There are several informed assumptions in the calculations above that make the specific magnitude of the difference a ballpark estimate. But clearly most victims who believe they've been victimized due to racial hostility are not included in official hate crimes statistics. That the survey method shows blacks to be more than 13 times as likely to commit racially motivated crimes as whites are, while official statistics only show blacks to be a little more than twice as likely to do so suggests that racially motivated crimes targeting whites are much less likely to be included in official hate crimes figures as crimes targeting blacks are.

Hate crime numbers are used to try and bolster the narrative that the US is a dangerous place for non-whites, who are constantly being preyed upon by the white majority (although even these selective numbers, which count most Hispanics as white, still show Native Americans and blacks as more likely to commit hate crimes than whites are). They tell us little about the actual state of racial relations on the street.

* One particularly overt absurdity of hate crimes stat-keeping is that Hispanics are not counted separately as perpetrators but they are counted separately as victims. Thus most Hispanic perpetrators are included in the white perpetrator figures, but are not included in the tally of white victims. This artificially inflates the perceived level of white aggression by boosting the number of white perpetrators relative to the number of white victims.

** I describe it that way instead of saying one out of every 28,000 people are the victims of a racially motivated hate crime, as some crimes involve multiple victims and it is possible that some people are victims of more than one hate crime in the course of a year.