Sunday, February 28, 2010

Illegal immigration and unemployment

In the comments from the previous post, blogger Robert Wiblin contested my presumption that unskilled immigration raises the native unemployment rate. We may be talking past one another, as he provided links to studies finding small decreases in unemployment from increased levels of overall immigration. Given the inherent difficulty in tracking illegal immigrants, these studies probably disproportionately attempt to gauge the relationship between legal--rather than total--immigration and unemployment levels. To the extent that the two correlate positively over time, though, it's a chicken-and-egg question: Do immigrants decide for whatever reason to come to an area and subsequently engage in entrepreneurial activities that lead to a net increase in that area's overall employment rate, or does a growing area in need of laborers and professionals attract immigrants to it?

The number of controls and assumptions necessary to tease out the stand-alone effect of immigration--never mind the challenges presented in trying to separate EB-5 immigrants from the MS-13 variety--is daunting, with the outcome contingent upon what controls and assumptions are made.

As my remarks concerned illegal immigrants in the US, who are largely unskilled, it seems reasonable to consider the simple relationship between the percentage of a state's total population comprised of illegal immigrants (see p12) and that state's unemployment rate. Using the latest data available, the two correlate at a moderate .33 (p=.02, two-tailed)--that is, states where illegal immigrants constitute a larger share of the population are states where the current unemployment rate tends to be higher.

Michigan, home to Ford, GM, and what's left of Chrysler, suffers the nation's highest unemployment rate (14.6%), but has few illegal immigrants. Removing it from the analysis boosts the correlation to .41 (p=.00, two-tailed).

This, of course, does not prove causality. But it does make it tougher to accept the assertion that higher levels of illegal immigration lead to lower levels of unemployment, when it is higher levels of unemployment that are associated with higher levels of illegal immigration in the US.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Employment and satisfaction with standard-of-living

In February 19th's Radio Derb podcast, John Derbyshire commented on a recent Gallup poll concerning the percentage of adults in a state expressing satisfaction at their individual standard-of-livings (explicitly, "all the things you can do and buy"):

Here's a new Gallup poll on how satisfied people are with their standard of living. Guess which state came out top? Yep, it's the Flickertail state. ... North Dakota also had the nation's lowest unemployment rate last December, 4.4 percent.
I'm always interested in state-by-state comparisons, as there is an enormous amount of data available at that level for which relationships are waiting to be discovered and causations to be suggested. So I was eager to find the actual poll and get to work. However, the regulars correlate tepidly with the Gallup measure; with IQ at .40, the percentage of the population having attained a bachelor's degree or higher at .11, average credit score at .45, average monetary standard-of-living (imperfectly) measured by both income and average cost-of-living at .12.

Turns out there's a simpler explanation for the results, and the Derb was intuitively all over it. The share of the SoL-satisfied population inversely correlates with a state's December '09 unemployment rate at a vigorous .78 (p = 0). The poll was based on interviews conducted throughout 2009, after the long-term consequences of the recession had become clear (ie, Phoenix and Las Vegas are not going to be booming again anytime soon). The higher the percentage of people out of work, the lower the statewide level of satisfaction with personal standard-of-livings. The range for the unemployment rate by state is 10.2 percentage points (Michigan on the high-end at 14.6%, North Dakota on the low-end at 4.4%); the range for SoL satisfaction is 13.3 percentage points (North Dakota on the high-end at 82.3%, Nevada on the low-end at 69.0%). It's almost as though we're looking at the same thing measured in a different way.


This is entirely sensible--those who have no steady source of income (government transfers excepted) are virtually guaranteed to be unsatisfied with their abilities to buy and do the things they want to buy and do. I just finished a book by Henry Hazlitt and am now reading Murray Rothbard's America's Great Depression. While I've long since become more inclined toward the Austrian school than any of the other major economic schools of thought, the Austrians' position on the presumed irrelevance of employment levels strikes me as lacking a needed subjectivity (the presence of which otherwise separates the Austrians from others)--unemployed people are unhappy people.

Economic self-sufficiency is an important ingredient in the recipe for enjoying a satisfactory existence. There is much to the argument that giving primacy to the goal of protecting employment leads to retarding effects on technological innovation, and I do not mean to suggest that full employment be perceived as society's ultimate objective.

But this does have obvious implications on immigration policy--expanding the supply of unskilled laborers simultaneously increases the native unemployment rate (bad) and decreases the incentives for innovation (also bad) by reducing the long-term cost savings of mechanized alternatives to menial labor.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Crusade calumnies

In Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt, Paul Gottfried excerpts (p62) from a speech given by Bill Clinton a couple of months after 9/11 as an illustration "exemplifying the power of multicultural concepts to influence political celebrities independently of tangible career interest" (that is, multicult worship is not merely a tool for achieving some desired political or social end, but has become an obligation on par with five-a-day prayer). Parts of the speech Gottfried elected not to quote, probably with space limitations in mind, strike me as more demonstrative than the ones he actually used. For example:

Look at you [Georgetown student body]. You are from everywhere. Look at us and you will see how more diverse America has grown in the last thirty-plus years. The terrorists killed people who came to America not to die, but dream, from every continent, from dozens of countries, most every religion on the face of the earth, including in large numbers Islam.
This paean to the putatively inherent value of racial and cultural diversity is ubiquitous in the political, educational, and business spheres of the modern West. The sacredness with which multiculturalism has been imbued is the subject of Gottfried's book. I found it to be too lacking in quantification and too orthogonal for my tastes, but that owes to my lack of enthusiasm for nuance and insinuation, not the professor's capabilities as a writer. Spare me the preamble and get to the point! That's advice I should follow more often than I do. So, on to the meat of this post.

The contemporary conventional description of the Crusades characterizes them as opportunistic, proto-colonialist undertakings, designed to plunder the wealth of a more advanced Arab world.

The colonial charge is risible. Crusading was extremely expensive. The first crusade was primarily funded privately, largely by those leading it. Godfrey of Bouillon, who would become the first ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem (KoJ), sold the entire county of Verdun to the king of France and still had to mortgage Boullion itself to finance his expedition. In God's Battalions, Rodney Stark reports that "a typical crusader needed to raise at least four or five times his annual income before he could set forth". The poor, who comprised much of Peter the Hermit's following, were a constant drain on crusading efforts and were vociferously discouraged from taking part by the papacy itself. Subsequent crusades were financed in large part through taxation, first on the clergy and then on the general public.

Further, there had never been any prospect of the Kingdom of Jerusalem becoming a source of revenue for Europe. Over the course of its nearly two-century existence, the kingdom was perpetually propped up by men, supplies, and massive financial transfers from Europe. If anything, Europe acted as a "colony" of the KoJ. The Templars, who rivaled the major Italian banking houses in their breadth, made money in Europe to spend on sustaining their fortified castles, knights, sergeants, and squires in the holy land. In fact, likely the first ever income tax in the West was levied on those in England and France to finance the third crusade--now that's a genuinely ugly legacy of the crusading period! Returning from King Louis IX's second (and fatal) crusade, King Edward I of England would be the last person to lead a significant crusading effort from Europe. Twenty years later, with largescale support from the continent having dried up, the KoJ was, quite literally, driven into the sea by Muslim forces--the kingdom's last remnant was the Templar's island fortress at Arwad, a couple of miles off the Syrian coast.

That the Islamic world was more advanced than that of Europe at the time is debatable (and beyond the scope of my historical knowledge). Certainly, though, European military technology was superior to that of the Arabs or Turks. Without the crossbow, it is almost impossible to imagine that the KoJ could have ever come into being. With a range of up to 200 yards for which men could become accurate in a matter of hours (whereas traditional longbows took years to master, both in required arm strength and aiming ability), crossbow bolts could pierce full plate armor. At a much closer range, Muslims arrows often became harmlessly stuck in Christian chain mail. The use of saddles and stirrups, combined with horses much larger than those ridden by Arabs and Turks, allowed European cavalry, equipped with lances, to charge with force sufficient to both impale and knock opponents off their horses at the same time. In contrast, sometimes riding without either, and often placing their stirrups further forward to allow a rider to sit while riding, many Muslim riders carried only carried swords and bows.

While the crusaders may have attributed their successes to the will of God, these advantages were crucial in delivering repeated crusader victories against larger, better provisioned Muslim forces fighting on their own soil.

Of course, the crusades were hardly unprovoked. Before Islam was born, Christendom existed throughout North Africa, most of western and southern Europe, and in what is now Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Turkey. A century after Muhammad died, Islam had conquered all of North Africa, most of the Middle East, and much of Spain. It would penetrate Europe all the way into France, reaching a high mark in 732 before the famous battle of Tours, when the Franks, led by Charles Martel, placed unmovable infantry lines in phalanx formation in front of Muslim cavalry. It proved deadly for the aggressors, who are thought to have been killed at rates as high as 10-to-1, despite outnumbering the Franks at something like 2-to-1.

When Urban II called for the first crusade at the Council of Claremont, it was in response to Byzantine emperor Alexius Commenus' plea for aid against the Seljuk Turks, who had made their capital Nicea, only 60 miles to the southeast of Constantinople. This came at a time when Christian pilgrims from both the Latin West and orthodox East were regularly robbed and harrassed by 'saracens', often fatally, on their way to Jerusalem.

The taking of Jerusalem during the first crusade is often used to epitomize the supposed ugliness that transpired for 200 years on account of the crusaders. Said Clinton:

First of all, terror, the killing of noncombatants for economic, political, or religious reasons has a very long history as long as organized combat itself, and yet, it has never succeeded as a military strategy standing on its own, but it has been around a long time. Those of us who come from various European lineages are not blameless. Indeed, in the first Crusade, when the Christian soldiers took Jerusalem, they first burned a synagogue with 300 Jews in it, and proceeded to kill every woman and child who was Muslim on the Temple mound. The contemporaneous descriptions of the event describe soldiers walking on the Temple mound, a holy place to Christians, with blood running up to their knees. I can tell you that that story is still being told to today in the Middle East and we are still paying for it.
The memory of the crusades did not exist in the Muslim world until the turn of the 20th Century, when the first Arab history of it was written. The Europeans were only one relatively minor group among many fighting for a stake in what has since come to be referred to as the Middle East. The 11th and 12th centuries are largely the story of expanding Turkish power in the Arab world and the competition between Damascus, Cairo, and Baghdad to become and remain the cultural center of the Islamic world. Jerusalem wasn't that important, and the other coastal cities even less so, especially since control of the seas was dominated by Byzantium throughout the crusading period.

Indeed, when the first crusade arrived to take Jerusalem, a majority of the city's population was Christian. The Arab governor of the city expelled them when he became aware of the approaching crusader forces. It was a prudent move, as Antioch (which was also majority-Christian at the time) had a year earlier fallen from Fatimid (Muslim) hands in part because after Bohemond of Taranto bribed a sentinel into leaving a gate to the city unlocked and unguarded, crusader forces were joined by Christian residents of the city in battling Muslim forces in the streets.

Jews were represented among the Fatimid ranks defending Jerusalem from crusader forces. Undoubtedly, crusaders storming the city had seen their brothers in arms dispatched by the steel and arrows of Jerusalem's Jews. That the they--or the synagogue they retreated into--would have been accorded special treatment following the city's fall is a rather egregious imposition of contemporary sensibilities onto the medieval past.

Had the city surrendered, it is almost certain that no ensuing massacre would've occured. It was a standard rule of warfare at the time that if a scaling of the walls had to be attempted--inevitably resulting in the deaths of many executing the siege--due to the city holding out against its attackers, a cruel fate awaited those inside if the city was penetrated.

With word of an enormous Fatimid army coming from to Jerusalem's aid from Eygpt, the crusading camp was in a desperate situation. It was running low on food and potable water, and the intensifying summer heat continued to take a brutal toll on the crusaders (who were more heavily armored than the Muslims were). The crusaders had been travelling through hostile territory for more than two years with their ultimate objective finally at hand. Jerusalem's Muslim and Jewish inhabitants were threatening to have them annihilated by a large Eygptian army headed their way by refusing them entry to the city. So when Godfrey's forces took control of a section of the city's walls that allowed crusaders to mount the walls and take to streets, it's little wonder that Jerusalem's inhabitants would be made to pay.

The predictable fate of the city's residents is often juxtaposed to the relatively humane treatment the Jerusalem's Christian population would suffer when Saladin retook the city in 1187. Instead of being massacred, most of them were merely enslaved. But the city's Christian inhabitants, many of them refugees from other KoJ cities already fallen to the Ayyubids, surrendered rather than fight on. As Edward Gibbon, who shared the general disdain for the crusades that characterized the Enlightenment period, wrote in the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

Of some writeres it is a favourite and invidious theme to compare the humanity of Saladin with the massacre of the first crusade. The difference would be merely personal; but we should not forget that the Christians had offered to capitulate, and that the Mahometans of Jerusalem sustained the last extremeties of an assault and storm.
The image of Saladin as a paladin, sustained largely from the overtaking of Jerusalem (and maybe the way the two words rhyme?), is contradicted by the Kurd's* more typical (and again, understandable) brutality. After the battle of Hattin, he personally beheaded several captured members of the KoJ's military orders and happily allowed not only his soldiers but also imams and other Muslim religious practicioners to take part in the decapitations.

If historical objectivity is the aim, instances of the reverse occuring (which are as common, if not more so) should be similarly stressed. In 1153, for example, accompanied by both Hospitallers and Templars, Baldwin III took Ascalon after a surrender agreement allowing inhabitants to leave peaceably with their belongings was reached and carried out. More than a century later, the Mamluk Baibars, besieging a Templar castle in the Galilean uplands, proposed terms of surrender: Stop resisting and be allowed to withdraw without bodily harm to Acre. Upon opening the gates and surrendering the castle, Baibars had the entire Templar force beheaded.

That those of European ancestry should somehow carry on their shoulders a perpetual sense of guilt on account of the crusades typifies the mores of the "secular theocracy" of multiculturalism that Gottfried laments in his book. These are the same mores dictating that the slavery be thought of primarily as the act of white Europeans holding sub-Saharan Africans in bondage, despite slavery having existed throughout most of the world long before Europeans were capturing blacks, and having in fact likely been born in Africa only to be (mostly) extinguished on a global scale by northwestern Europeans. The crusades were military expeditions to reclaim land lost to Muslims over the preceding four centuries. Those undertaking them were believed to be divinely inspired, involved in pious undertakings for the good of Christians everywhere. They should not be anachronistically judged by Geneva convention standards, but viewed in context of those existing at the time.

* Today, Saladin keeps a relatively lower profile in the Arab world than he does in the Occident, presumably on account of his ethnicity.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Intelligence isn't just good for your head, it's good for your heart!

Work by Britain's Medical Research Council (similar to the NIH in the US) provides more support for the assertion that intelligence is good for your health:
Intelligence comes second only to smoking as a predictor of heart disease, scientists said on Wednesday, suggesting public health campaigns may need to be designed for people with lower IQs if they are to work.

Research by Britain's Medical Research Council (MRC) found that lower intelligence quotient (IQ) scores were associated with higher rates of heart disease and death, and were more important indicators than any other risk factors except smoking.

Heart disease is the leading killer of men and women Europe, the United States and
most industrialised countries.
This is further evidence that libertarians like Bryan Kaplan and Megan McArdle are off the mark when they argue that an uber-intelligent society would be an inefficient and unpleasant one. Essentially, they contend that if everyone is a brainiac, near-geniuses would be forced to pick up garbage and work in fast food restaurants, whereas in contemporary Western society, there are people of more modest intelligence to do that sort of work.

The flaws in such an argument are legion. Even in jobs not requiring sophisticated skill sets or abstract reasoning ability, more intelligent people make for more reliable employees. They are less likely to injure themselves or others, or need constant supervision in performing menial tasks. Of course, these over-qualified workers will be more likely to find better and more efficient ways of performing their duties. With fewer smart people (think lawyers, social workers, etc) devoting their careers to tending to the problems created by (mostly low-IQ) criminals, welfare recipients, drug users, the unhealthy, and the like, more brain power will be available for technological innovation and the increasing of process efficiencies--things that lead to real standard of living increases. More blatantly, Lynn and Vanhanen's book IQ and the Wealth of Nations shows an indisputable relationship (r = .82) between intelligence and national wealth. The more intelligent a society is, the wealthier it tends to be.

Further, what people do as compensated employees does not constitute the sum of their contribution to society. Think of Linux or the HBD blogging community. I've enjoyed Japanese rpgs never released stateside thanks to enthusiasts who have programmed emulators to run the games for free on my PC, complete with English language translations. These guys aren't getting paid for this, it's just the type of thing intelligent people like to do. If they mow lawns or sweep parking lots by day and program emulators by night, they're still providing me with a higher quality of life than the contemporary lawn mower or lot sweeper is. And intelligence is positively correlated with a host of other socially desirable behaviors (lower criminality, higher marriage rates, better financial management, etc).

Well, the article excerpted above constitutes another piece of evidence to be marshaled against collectivist libertarians--intelligence is the second most important factor in predicting who will suffer from the leading killer of both men and women in the developed world. In our theoretical uber high-IQ societies, fewer people will suffer from heart disease (in addition to obesity, and probably a host of other maladies as well) than do today.

The piece goes on to emphasize educational strategies that putatively increase IQ, without making mention of more consquential factors like birthing patterns, and, at the national level, immigration trends. But policies aimed at increasing average intgelligence via these later factors deserve at least as much consideration. Progressive child credits (as opposed to the regressive credit currently in place) and the growth of charitable agencies like Project Prevention are potential methods for increasing home-grown intelligence. The EB-5 visa program provides a way to circumvent the political problems inherent in an immigration system explicitly tailored toward accepting aspiring high-IQ immigrants while rejecting those of lower intelligence.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

If you build them...

From the WSJ's What's News section:
Home builder are ramping up speculative construction to attract last-minute buyers who want to tap a soon-to-expire tax credit [the purchase must be signed by April 30 and closed on by June 30].
Houses were being built with reckless abandon a few short years ago, and times were good then. Clearly, we need the relentless construction to resume. Never mind that 2009 was yet another record year for home foreclosure filings:
Almost 3 million homeowners received at least one foreclosure filing during 2009, setting a new record for the number of people falling behind on their mortgage payments.

RealtyTrac, the online marketer of foreclosed homes, reported that one in 45 households -- or 2,824,674 properties nationwide -- were in default last year. That's 21% more than in 2008, and more than double 2007's total.

The dramatic, sustained increase occurred despite efforts, such as President Obama's Home Affordable Modification Program, to reduce foreclosure filings.

This will lead to the adjustments needed in the larger economy to purge malinvestment and direct resources to the most efficient uses possible. Government intervention into the market always has that effect, after all.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Robbing Peter to pay Pablo

Intellectual leaders of the Democratic party fear that if President Obama is unable to salvage a health care bill that increasingly looks like it it's indefinitely stuck in legislative limbo, party members will be unwilling to touch it in the future:

"If Bill Clinton couldn't get it done, and Barack Obama can't do it, no Democrat will ever try again," said economist Len Nichols, health policy director at the New America Foundation.

...

"History is written by the victors, not the vanquished," said Chris Jennings, congressional liaison for then-first lady Hillary Clinton during the 1990s debate. "Failure would serve as the ultimate judgment as to whether this effort was worth doing."

In a recent VDare column, Steve Sailer linked to a handy report from the DHHS on the country's uninsured population.

The pertinent information I want to highlight follows. The index simply shows the ratio of a group's representation among the uninsured population to its representation among the population as a whole. For example, 48% of the country's uninsured are white (as of 2005, when the report was written) and whites comprise 67% of the population at large, so the white value is .72. A value over 1.00 indicates that a group is overrepresented among the uninsured population; a value under 1.00 shows that the group is underrepresnted.

Race
Hispanic2.14
Native American2.00
Black1.25
Asian1.00
White0.72

Residency
Non-citizen3.00
Citizen0.85

The figures in the DHHS report are rounded to the nearest whole percentage point, so the range for the true value for Native Americans is enormous (2% of the uninsured, 1% of the total population--at 2.4% of the uninsured and .6% of the population, it'd be 4.00; at 1.5% and 1.4%, it'd be only 1.07) and should consquently be taken lightly. What is clear is that of the four major ethnic/racial groups in the US, Hispanics are the least likely to be insured under the current system.

Increasing tax rates on "Cadillac plans", forcing insurance providers to cover clients who are going to lose them money (those with pre-existing conditions), and expanding Medicaid benefits to everyone earning under 150% of the federally designated poverty line are real costs. And these costs are to disproportionately be borne by whites for the sake of non-whites, especially Hispanics. More specifically, with the specter of the amnesty apparition that was buried in 2006 hovering on the horizon and the total lack of credibility in all politicians' claims that non-citizens will be precluded from enjoying the health care bill's benefits, this means it is illegal Hispanic immigrants who stand to gain the most, primarily at the expense of white American citizens.

I'm too parochial to really invest myself in the debate. My employer provides me with 'free' full coverage that I never use and never plan on needing to use (like living forever, so far, so good!). Initially, I was intrigued by the idea of reducing Medicare benefits to cover the cost of the reforms, as just about anything that reduces Medicare payments--resources destined to have a negative ROI of close to 100%--is something I'm inclined to support. That's a moot point now, as the politically unacceptable idea died several months ago.

This, however, certainly encourages me to be more firmly critical of any plan to universally expand coverage. Like virtually all government programs not directed at those over the age of 65, it aims to take from whites and give to NAMs.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Colored people and blacks, Hispanics and Latinos, Asians and Orientals

In putting together a follow-up to the previous post tracking the descriptors for blacks through time, I checked the first few pages of return results to see if "colored" would be used as an adjective to describe something other than race. This article on an anniversary for the "colored home" grabbed my attention as a possible false-positive, but it's genuine. The colored house was apparently a sort of refuge for black street rats.

Yet there are surely a handful of returns having nothing to do with race. Although their significance may be minor, to be on the safe side, I elected to track the phrase "colored people", rather than just "colored". For comparative purposes with other descriptors, the unadultered plural of the noun is optimal, but "coloreds" is rarely used at the expense of "colored people", "colored folks", "colored voters", etc. Consequently, the "colored" adjective to identify those of African descent is relatively underrepresented below.

The following graphs show the percentage of all NYT articles written first by decade (through the 1950s) and then by year (from 1960 on), containing the indicated word or phrase.


Unlike "negroes", which is abruptly swapped out for "blacks" in the late sixties, "colored people" peaks ahead of the civil rights' era but subsequently experiences a gentle but steady decrease in use after that. It appears to stabilize in the eighties, but by that time, many, if not most, articles contained "colored people" as part of the NAACP ("National Association of Colored People"). By the beginning of last decade, the phrase had finally all but fell out of use. As it does not have the same perceived connotations of "negroes", once the popular lexicon gave primacy to "blacks", those who had come of age when describing a black man as colored was perfectly acceptable did not feel compelled to adjust their working vocabularly accordingly. Although they're in the twilight of their lives, there are still people who use "colored" instead of "black" or "African-American". My grandmother, for instance, is one of them.

Going in, I had little sense of the historical patterns in nouns used to describe people from south of the border. "Latino" seems to be favored over "Hispanic" by the 'aggrieved' and their sympathizers--the former is usually delivered with the most emphatic Spanish accent possible, in contrast with the rest of the speaker's words. When I hear an NPR correspondent from Mexico City or Los Angeles articulating Latino as if he's speaking Spanish, I presume he's making it known he's one with the Latino people.


"Hispanic" is still the most common descriptor used, though the commonality of usage of the two may converge in the media over the next several years. While the number of articles devoted to blacks appears to be on the decline, the continued increase in the size of the Hispanic population means an increasing amount of coverage will be devoted to their special interests going forward.

I've never heard someone from the most populous continent described as an oriental except in fun. East Asians, especially, tend to be too well-adjusted and successful to take offense at being referred to in such an antiquated way. A silly antic of mine is to introduce an Asian to someone else by earnestly saying (with emphasis on the word "oriental"), "This is my oriental friend, Kunal. He's from somewhere in Asia."


The reason I've not witnessed it used otherwise is because since the time of the Korean War, "Asian" became the noun of choice. It is in 1949 when "Asians" marginally overtakes "Orientals", but just a year later, the former is used twice as frequently. The gap has never come close to closing since then.


The aggregation of all non-whites is not novel. "Minorities" has been part of the media lexicon since the Great Depression. It predictably hit a growth spurt in the late sixties, but then dips again during the Reagan administration, shoots up again at the end of the decade, drops once more in the mid-nineties, hits another high at the turn of the century, and then sinks back to where it was before the Civil Rights movement got into gear. Hopefully someone more learned than me can offer a cogent explanation for the roller coaster.

The final graph shows the sum of all descriptors used for each of the three major minority (heh) groups--blacks, Hispanics, and Asians--as well as "minorities" as a whole. There is a bit of double-counting as a consequence of newspaper writers' attempts at elegant variation ("blacks" and "African-Americans" being used in the same article), but the relative change over time in attention devoted to the three groups is the graph's purpose.


Compared to the ten years preceding it, the first decade of the 21st century appears to have been mild in the amount of media attention devoted to non-whites. Blacks got a boost during the 2008 Presidential election, but in 2009 the trend of gentle decline resumed. This is, of course, just one way of arriving at a rough estimate of media focus over time, and it still may seem regrettably excessive, but it's a reasonable measure. Only attention to Hispanics seems to be holding firm, as media types continue to wait for the Hispanic tidal wave that is sure to be arriving soon.