Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bush blathers on border

I want to support President Bush. I really do. I'm nationalistic, capitalistic, and a self-described member of the empirical right. I want to believe that he is serious about stopping illegal immigration. Last Tuesday, Bush gave a speech in Arizona at least paying lip service to stricter border enforcement. It was a mixture of empty platitudes, immigration-is-self-evidently good chatter, and a bit of gold:

"This practice of catch and release has been the government's policy for decades. It is an unwise policy and we're going to end it...

Under current law, the federal government is required to release people caught crossing our border illegally if their home countries do not take them back in a set period of time. That law doesn't work when it comes time to enforcing the border and it needs to be changed.

Those we we're forced to release have included murderers, rapists, child molesters, and other violent criminals. This undermines our border security. It undermines the work these good folks are doing. And the United States Congress needs to pass legislation to end these senseless rules. [No kidding!]

In some places, the most effective way to secure the border is to construct
physical barriers to entry. [Some sharp PR calculation]"

But it's words like these that deflate what hope I may have had:

"As we enforce our immigration laws, comprehensive immigration reform also requires us to improve those laws by creating a new temporary worker program [read amnesty]. This program would create a legal way to match willing foreign workers with willing American employers to fill jobs that Americans will not do. Workers would be able to register for legal status for a fixed period of time, and then be required to go home. This program would help meet the demands of a growing economy, and it would allow honest workers to provide for their families while respecting the law."

This makes me think this abrupt 'push' to secure the borders a full five years into office is little more than an attempt to shore up dwindling support by jumping on a popular issue that most of the political establishment won't touch.

A temporary worker program is essentially amnesty. If a worker stays for six years--more than enough time to plant roots in the US--why would he possibly choose to leave when the time is up? Enforcement would be a nightmare--imagine the US government trying to deport 12 million people. These 'temporary' workers will get married to gain citizenship, find ways to avoid detection after some time (ie, fake social security numbers). Currently, the government does not know who or exactly how many illegals are here now. That is not going to change by calling them 'temporary workers' instead of 'illegal immigrants'. However, it would make them eligible for more social services granted to US residents on the taxpayer's dole.

The US is increasingly a knowledge-based society where technical skill, IQ, and educational attainment are key determinants of success. Increasing the size of our underclass to assist big business in its short-sighted search for lower costs is setting us up for a catastrophic downfall when robotization in nations like Japan become not only more cost-effective than unskilled human labor, but also more reliable, efficient, and with drastically lower negative side effects.

And if I hear "jobs Americans won't do" one more time, I'm going to puke. Apparently the Presdient needs a quick lesson in basic economics: For any desirable good (in this case money) as supply increases, price falls. As supply decreases, price rises. The labor market is no different. If there are ten million tomato-picking jobs, and twenty million potential workers, the ten million willing to work for the least (that would be those coming from corrupt Latin American countries where they made a small fraction of the US minimum wage) are going to get the jobs. Now, boot those ten million out, since they are being subsidized heavily and decreasing the standard of living, and now the businesses have less wage discretion. They can either hire the remaining ten million (lower class natives) or innovate away the need for these menial farm tasks.

A baby step in the right direction, but stultifyingly frustrating nonetheless.


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Border patrol under siege

Yet more reason for a barrier on the US-Mexico border, pronto:

U.S. Border Patrol agents working the Arizona-Mexico border were victims of twice as many attacks this past fiscal year compared with the previous year, officials say...

Nationwide, agents were assaulted 687 times, up from 349 a year earlier.

Officials say the growing number of attacks reflects the increased influence of criminal gangs and the profits they can make smuggling migrants across the border.

The viciousness of these nomadic indigents has led to the requisition of combat-style patrol vehicles:

Now Yuma sector Border Patrol agents can cover these areas even more effectively. They just got more advanced tools to better protect them when they patrol such high risk areas.

"It's armor-plated, even the glass you can see is thick bullet-proof glass," U.S. Border Patrol, Yuma Sector, Agent Michael Gramley, said...

"We also have gun ports in the sides here where agents are able to fire outside the vehicle," Gramley said.

That Americans must so fear for their physical safety from illegal invaders is a sad exposition of our contemporary state of affairs. The net cost of a burgeoning newly-arrived underclass runs into the billions (just shy of $30 billion according to the CIS).

While the economic argument alone mandates action, other factors decry open borders. The number of "other than Mexicans" (OTMs) who cross illegally is staggering, and the threat to our national security beggars the imagination:

Because OTMs, or "Other Than Mexicans" as the Border Patrol classifies them, must be returned to their country of origin, they cannot be simply sent back across the southern border, as most Mexicans are. Under U.S. law, they must be detained (in the U.S.) pending a deportation hearing. The problem is, immigration detention centers are packed, so most OTMs are given a court summons and told to return in three months. A full 85 percent don't.

According to the Border Patrol, some 465,000 OTMs have taken advantage of
this "catch and release" policy to settle here in the U.S. "It's an insane policy which encourages OTMs to come into the country illegally, and we shouldn't be shocked that they are coming in record numbers," says T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents more than 9,000 agents.

On top of that we can throw on the qualitative cultural stuff, the costs and tensions of a language barrier, the dismal academic performance of illegals and their progeny, the failure of multiculturalism in general, increased pollution, drug smuggling, disease, ad infinitum.

A barrier, favored by a majority of Americans, is estimated to cost somewhere between $2-$16 billion depending on height, layers, and extras like concertina wire. Not a drop in the bucket, but quickly recouped by stymying future illegal immigration. We need to make the investment fast.


Friday, November 25, 2005


The night before Thanksgiving, I caught the end of Hannity and Colmes. They brought on Bruce Friedrich of PETA and conservative talk show host Mike Gallagher to discuss “Tofurkey” (take a look), a meat-free tofu based turkey look-a-like (sort of). Friedrich was, of course, advocating it as a substitute for turkey while Gallagher challenged.

There’s no transcript available, but the segment consisted of Friedrich describing the brutal process of turkey farm processing, pointed out that as warm-blooded vertebrates they feel pain similar to that of dogs and cats—the slitting of their throats is not a pretty end—followed with flippant, condescending remarks by Gallagher and Hannity’s sit-in directed at Friedrich, while the insipid Colmes sat back and said little.

Now, Friedrich is a radical. He’s assaulted people in debates, streaked publicly in protest, and is a vociferous, unconditional pacifist. Apparently he takes the Peter Singer position that human favoritism among humans is “speciest” and that the ethical thing to do is treat each animal’s life with an equal amount of reverence.

Yet I cannot figure out why people like Gallagher so callously declare to show no concern—even seem to derive pleasure—from causing animals tremendous agony. People have to eat, and the “green” business craze has some ugly unintended consequences. But why mock the idea of people eating healthier and abstaining from something they see as abhorrent? If you want a window into a man’s character, look at how he treats animals.

For full disclosure, I should say that I’m a vegetarian and practitioner of qualified, moderate ahimsa (one of those loons who traps the wolf spider in a paper towel, runs upstairs, and releases the critter in the backyard).

An interesting aside: Ben Franklin, who famously wanted the wild turkey to be the nation’s bird instead of the Bald Eagle, wasn’t facile in his reasoning:
"I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and
when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him…

For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America... He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on."

No kidding! On long bike rides out west of where I live, I have on a few occasions come upon a flock of turkeys milling about in the road. The females tend to amble away, but the males (who are bigger and more vivacious in appearance) usually stay put, looking at me. If I can ride around at a distance, I do after watching them for awhile—once, however, I actually had to yell and flail my arms to get them going. The wild turkeys of Ben’s time must have been more feral than those living just outside the suburbs today, but there’s no reason to discount their potential for pugnacity:
"In April, Will Millington was riding his dirt bike down a narrow trail in Norman, Okla., when he stopped before a flock of wild turkeys. The hens scattered, but two toms flared their feathers and stalked toward him. Then they suddenly leapt in the air, beat Mr. Millington with their wings and tried to
scratch him with the sharp spurs on the backs of their legs.

Mr. Millington frantically revved his bike's motor. Thirty yards down the trail he looked back. "They were running after me," says the 46-year-old property manager. "That was kind of spooky."

As Americans prepare to eat some 46 million domestic turkeys slaughtered for Thanksgiving, their wild cousins are fighting back. The explosion of the wild turkey population to nearly seven million from just 30,000 in the 1930s has put a growing number of humans in the face of angry gobblers.”

You don’t have to train your eyes on an open field for long in the summer before seeing a Red-tailed hawk fleeing pesky starlings a tenth her size. But what little bird has the guts to tackle a turkey?


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

What state is most generous (con't)?

Here's how it comes out with the median:mean ratio taken into account. Just for the heck of it, I color-coded the states to the 2004 Presidential election. There's apparently no meaningful relationship between the propensity to give and voting patterns:

1 Utah
2 New York
3 Maryland
4 California
5 Alabama
6 Wyoming
7 New Jersey
8 Oklahoma
9 Connecticut
10 Georgia
11 South Carolina
12 North Carolina
13 Hawaii
14 Arizona
15 Virginia
16 Idaho
17 Massachusetts
18 Oregon
19 Mississippi
20 Colorado
21 Minnesota
22 Delaware
23 Tennessee
24 Rhode Island
25 Arkansas
26 Nevada
27 Florida
28 Pennsylvania
29 Michigan
30 Montana
31 Kentucky
32 Nebraska
33 Illinois
34 Washington
35 Missouri
36 Kansas
37 Louisiana
38 New Mexico
39 Ohio
40 Iowa
41 Wisconsin
42 Vermont
43 Texas
44 Alaska
45 Indiana
46 New Hampshire
47 South Dakota
48 Maine
49 North Dakota
50 West Virginia

Only a few minor shifts. This is as accurate as I think I'll be able to get it.

What state is the most generous?

The Catalogue for Philanthropy recently released a report on the generosity of the nation's 50 states. The Bible Belt has enjoyed the positive light this puts them in. However, the methodology is crucial to consider--we can find a more accurate indicator of giving with a little work.

There's a lot at play here. The CFP chart refers to computes the "generosity index" by taking a state's ranking in Average AGI (which is gross income after deductions for things like IRA contributions, education, self-employed business expenses, capital and sec 1231 losses but before the itemized deductions that most people think of when they hear "you can deduct that") and subtracting it by the state's ranking in itemized charitable deductions. A married couple must have at least $10,000 in itemized deductions to even be counted in this index (itemized deductions include just about everything else that's not listed above--medical and misc expenses beyond a % of AGI threshold, property and state taxes, mortgage interest, charitable contributions, etc)--if they have less than $10,000, they just take the standard deduction.

Am I confusing you yet? The IRC (internal revenue code that has all the tax rules) is a ridiculously complicated thing of over 3.4 million words. The bottom line is that only 30% of people in the country itemize--generally these people are at least moderately affluent, because to ring up $10,000 just in deductions, you usually have to make quite a bit. We don't know from this how generously the more modest people in the various states give--we're only looking at the upper-middle and upper crust of each state. Anyway, here's the equation:

AAGI rank - Itemized charitable ded. rate = generosity gap

The CFP then takes each state's gap and ranks them against the other states (so, if a state is the fifth wealthiest but only gives the 25th most, it gets a -20 (5-25)--that's bad. If the state is the 25th wealthiest but gives the 5th most, it gets 20 (25-5)--that's good.) From these gaps, the states are ordered accordingly--the highest gap score (which will be a high positive number like 30) is considered the most generous state, and the lowest gap score (a numerically high negative score like -30) is considered the least generous.

The index is problematic in its computation. Take Conneticut, the highest earning state in the country, to illustrate: Using the formula, we see:

AAGI (1, as it is the highest earning) - Conn avg item charitable giving = gap

Without even telling you how Conneticut ranks in charitable giving, do you see a problem here? The best the state can hope to get, if it is the biggest giver in the country, is a gap of zero. Intuitively you may have realized that the total gap of all states combined is going to average zero (some having a positive (generous) score, some with a (cheap) negative). Thus, all Conneticut can hope for is to rank smack in the middle, even if it gives the most. Conversely, Mississippi, the nation's poorest state, can do no worse than ranking smack in the middle (AAGI 50 - Avg giving 50 = gap of 0).

Not suprisingly, Mississippi came in first overall (highest gap score of 45). And Conneticut finished a lousy 44th (-25 gap). So the index is rigged heavily in favor of poorer states--the entire South, the poorest region in the country, is within the top 50%.

A more accurate indicator of giving, (at least for the upper crust of each state that this report included), is to take the total amount of money each state gave in itemized charitable contributions and divide that by the number of people in each state who gave. (Ex: If in state A there was $1,000 total given and ten people who gave, this would come to $100. In state B, there's $500 given but twenty people give, and we get $25.) Graciously, CFP has their excel data available. Running the numbers this way puts Utah way on top, $2,110 (Mormons are apparently magnanimous people). The next closest is New York at $1,440.

But that's still not quite fair, because making $200,000 in New York is not comparable to making $200,000 in Utah. Our Mormon buddy is going to find it easier to dole out the cash, because after the cost of living takes its toll, he has more money leftover than the New Yorker. On the flip side, there are more people who make big big money in New York than in Utah, who even with the high cost of living have a chunk of change to potentially give out.

Thus, we need to take standard of living into account. That is, if people live in a place like Minnesota, where income is high relative to the cost of living (great standard of living), they should be expected to give more than people in Cali, where income is low relative to the cost of living (austere standard of living). Throwing that into the mix, here's how the state's come out (this isn't perfect and slightly favors states with more income inequality, but in my estimation it's much more accurate than the way the data has been presented by the CFP):

1 Utah
2 New York
3 California
4 Maryland
5 Alabama
6 Connecticut
7 New Jersey
8 Georgia
9 Oklahoma
10 North Carolina
11 South Carolina
12 Wyoming
13 Arizona
14 Virginia
15 Mississippi
16 Hawaii
17 Oregon
18 Massachusetts
19 Idaho
20 Arkansas
21 Florida
22 Tennessee
23 Colorado
24 Nevada
25 Delaware
26 Minnesota
27 Rhode Island
28 Kentucky
29 Illinois
30 Michigan
31 Montana
32 Pennsylvania
33 Louisiana
34 Washington
35 Kansas
36 Nebraska
37 Missouri
38 Texas
39 New Mexico
40 Ohio
41 Iowa
42 Wisconsin
43 Vermont
44 Indiana
45 Alaska
46 New Hampshire
47 South Dakota
48 Maine
49 West Virginia
50 North Dakota

Utah still comes out on top, but just by a hair. Sheesh, 35th--I'm a little embarrassed :)

I'm going to do a little more with this, but at first glance there doesn't seem to be any clear geographical edge, although the bottom states are mostly red. However, blue states tend to have more income inequality than red states--I'm going to adjust for that next and then I'll post the list with the difference between mean and median income taken into account.

It might be brought up was that more people in Mass gave than in places like Mississippi. This is not surprising, because nominally people in the Northeast make more than people in the South, and the federal tax guidelines do not take buying power into account (it's easier to come up with $10,000 of expenses in the NE than in the South b/c it costs more to live there and you're making more). But with the SOL taken into account, the disruption this causes in the data should be attenuated substantially.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

50 Cent movie shooting

Plant a seed of pathology, cultivate it, and watch it sprout. The gansta rapper who goes by the pseudonym "50 Cent" stars in a movie that has provided a forum for violence:
One Pittsburgh-area movie house has said get lost to 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin' after a fatal shooting.

The Loews Cineplex in West Homestead yanked the rapper's controversial semi-autobiographical flick on Thursday, a day after a 30-year-old man was gunned down near a concession stand.

The man, Shelton Flowers, had come to the multiplex just east of Pittsburgh for the opening night of Fiddy's film debut. Police say Flowers got into an argument with others inside the bathroom around 11 p.m. The altercation spilled out into the concession area. Gunshots erupted and Flowers
was struck twice.

He was taken to an area hospital, but doctors were unable to save him.

The guy has had a hell of a rough life, and is only symptomatic of a larger pathology that is the contemporary hip-hop culture. But the black community in the US is in many ways facing dire challenges that are compounding as America changes increasingly into a knowledge-based, skill society.

The hip-hop culture is largely a modern day minstrel show. There are some black moguls, but for the most part the labels are controlled by white executives who traffic in pathologies that suburbia thinks are entertaining but not to be taken seriously, while urban kids absorb and internalize the pernicious influence.

That there are so many black celebrities glorifying the culture makes survival at 'ground zero' that much harder. Better not to have such 'role models' at all. Hispanics, for example, have very few celebrities to look up to compared to blacks--consequently, to some degree, Hispanics are more apt to work hard and live modestly. Blacks on the other hand see behavior that basically relegates them to a lifetime of poverty put on a pedestal and imitate it. It's disgusting. The black community needs less 50-Cent and more James Earl Jones.

In addition to the gansta-glory lifestyle, the 70% out-of-wedlock birthrate among blacks mean that most black children do not have a stable father figure. This makes them more vulnerable to the culture's more pernicious influences, and deprives them of a role model who gets up every morning and goes off to work.

Morally posturing by refusing to admit problems that are blatantly obvious does not do anyone any good. I've been heavily criticized for stating the unremarkable fact that African Americans, on average, score about one standard deviation lower on IQ tests than whites and for railing against the destructive hip hop culture. But if a social stigma arose around out-of-wedlock birth and hip hop, in conjunction with a discarding of the "education is a white thing" attitude among the black community, things could get better. Stymying illegal immigration, which floods the labor market with expendable, unskilled workers willing to put in for minimum wage, or less if under-the-table, would help, too.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Roe v Wade and other thoughts

When Justice Sam Alito's hearings begin in January, no doubt Roe v Wade will be in the spotlight with a zeal. It will be interesting to see if the Supreme Court revisists the case with Alito on board. The following is a few quick thoughts from an online discussion board:

I like the idea of America as a whole but I'm really tired of trying to get along with places like Kansas when it comes to issues like abortion, creationism, stem cell research etc.

Believe me, Kansas would be more than happy to part ways with you on abortion. Of course it can't, as it's bound by judicial fiat. Even though I am pro-choice, I'd like to see Roe v Wade revisited--it has always struck me as constitutionally weak. The majority admitted to agnosticism over when life begins yet arrogated to the Court a ruling based on a violation of several amendments together creating a so-called "right to privacy". In essence, they presumed that life did not begin at least until the end of the first trimester. We know, however, that the genome is present at conception and in nine weeks the major organs are formed. That's reason enough to kick it back to the states. I'm skeptical, though, that the Republican Party would want Roe v Wade overturned--it's too big a social conservative galvanizer.

As for embryonic stem cell research, does it matter what Kansas thinks? It's not outlawed. Just vote for state spending on it in New Hampshire like California did. I'd much rather see the federal government, if anything, create a Manhattan-Project to develop cost-effective alternative fuels. Stem cell research is not as subject to the whims of the market--energy innovation, on the other hand, is tougher for private industry to make a sure buck on. Honda and Ford can spend ten years working on the hydrogen internal combustion engine, but if a company like Syntroleum (recommendation to individual investors) perfects coal-to-oil in five, the hydrogen vehicles become an uncompetitive sunken cost.

Things that I think are a basic part of being an American-freedom of religion, the right to privacy, choice-and apparently they have a different definition of all this.

If the social positions of the midwest are too much for you, I fail to see why you would want a continuation of the very socially conservative Latin American influx. Unfettered multiculturalism begs you to tolerate everything--if you think Kansas is hostile to your beliefs, wait until Euro-descendants are a minority--your liberalism will truly be scoffed at.

And I feel my privacy is being violated when my government--whose ultimate priority is, theoretically, my protection--does not know who is coming into the country!

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

America the mediocre?

More demographic trends to worry about. In addition to the baby boomers' exodus from the workforce into retirement and Western birth rates below the replenishment level, the US is becoming dumber:
America's educational gains are poised to stall because of growing demographic trends. If these trends continue, the share of the U.S. workforce with high school and college degrees may not only fail to keep rising over the next 15 years but could actually decline slightly, warns a report released on Nov. 9 by the National Center for Public Policy & Higher Education, a nonprofit group based in San Jose, Calif. The key reason: As highly educated baby boomers retire, they'll be replaced by mounting numbers of young Hispanics and African Americans, who are far less likely to earn degrees.

This is not rocket science, although we wish more Americans would take that field up. Education correlatives positively with IQ, and IQ is linked to race. Not surprisingly then, education is influenced by race on average. This tells little about an individual of any given ethnicity, but spread over huge populations the affect is clear. There are as many as 1.5 billion people who would potentially like to come to the US--we need a merit immigration system coupled with absolute control of illegal migration that allows us to select applicants based on a set of qualifications that help insure they will succeed in the country while benefitting it at the same time.

Our economy cannot sustain internal losses while high IQ countries come online.
There are nearly as many college students in China as in the U.S. Within a decade, the Conference Board projects, students in such countries will be just as likely as those in the U.S. and Europe to get a high school education. Given their much larger populations, that should enable them to churn out far more college graduates as well. More U.S. white-collar jobs will then be likely to move offshore, warns National Center President Patrick M. Callan. "For the U.S. economy, the implication of these trends is really stark," he says.

America's incredibly high standard of living is a substantial competitive advantage in attracting high brainpower from all over the globe, but real wages are stagnating with high levels of unskilled immigration and the enormous costs that brings to the net taxpayer. Of course, this is not a tocsin for restrictionism. On the contrary, some groups of newly arrived immigrants kick the butts of the natives:
Whites aren't quitting the schools because the schools are failing academically. Quite the contrary: Many white parents say they're leaving because the schools are too academically driven and too narrowly invested in subjects such as math and science at the expense of liberal arts and extracurriculars like sports and other personal interests.

The two schools, put another way that parents rarely articulate so bluntly, are too Asian.

The WSJ feature details the suburbs in the Silicon Valley area and how incredibly competitive the academic world is there, with children of Asian immigrants outperforming white natives. Great! The US needs more graduates in the hard sciences, where East Asians do especially well. As a group, Asians virtually never partake in criminal activity. It appears to me thinly veiled protectionism that argues against increasing the numbers of high merit immigrants to the US. We need more intelligent, erudite immigrants to come here while it is still a desirable destination.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Multiculturalism is a misnomer

It's a longstanding point of frustration for those not somewhere on the left or multicult right to suffer the "intolerant", "ethnocentric", and "xenophobic" pejoratives hurled at them by those "multiculturalism" advocates. Yet, "multiculturalism" is clearly a misnomer. If every institution in every location must "look like America" (and increasingly every institution in every location in every country must "look like the rest of the world"), where is the diversity?

If Kansas is no different than California, British culture no different than French, do we really have diversity? No, not at all. Instead we have the international communist's dream of forced equitableness--one that can only be achieved by the haphazard, sinister balkanizing process that begs a prodigious, global governmental structure to force order, economy, and the whole of life in general. It will not matter where you are or what you're doing--the social and demographic landscape will be identical.

Without solid pockets of homogeneity dotting the globe, we just have a big pile of expendable mush. If Sri Lanka disappears, that's unfortunate but not really meaningful, because Australia is no different. With Thanksgiving approaching, think of the Turkey Day's dinner as a metaphor: You sit down to a feast in front of you. Stuffing, cranberry sauce, salad, cornbread, mashed and sweet potatoes, the turkey, and so forth. So many different things tempting your pallet as you wait in blissful anticipation is what allows the meal to be so enjoyable. Not only eating, but discussing the meal as different items are passed around the table while people talk about their favorites.

But wait. The turkey is different than the cranberry sauce. With regards to protein, the turkey is better for you! And some nefarious folk think it tastes better than the cranberry sauce. This is unjust, awful, intolerant! Everyone must appreciate everything, without exclusion. We must be "inclusionary" (another crucial word in the multicult lexicon), so from this point forward, we will be throwing all the Thanksgiving items into a gigantic blender--from the Turkey to the salad--until it is mixed into a vibrant and indiscriminate goo for all to enjoy. If you're a vegetarian, strictly a carnivore, or just don't care for sweet potatoes, it's time for you to quit being so culinarocentric!

In all seriousness, the absurd desire to make "multicultural" for the sake of multiculturalism has serious consequences. Over 100,000 years of human history in which isolated populations evolved with unique forces acting upon them, with results that we are only beginning to understand. Do you see France burn? Do you hear Mecha shout? Do you notice Mugabe's agricultural theft? Beslan? London? Theo Van Gogh? A state of emergency on the southern border? The Dalai Lama's indigent status? Louis Farrakhan? South Asia and the Chinese? The disputed territories of Samaria and Judea (referred to as the "West Bank")? Iraq's inchoate civil war? The rebels in Sri Lanka? Shall we continue in our search for more "multicultural" successes? Cheap DNA sequencing is on the way--hopefully that will start to open our collective eyes. But don't hold your breathe.

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Friday, November 11, 2005

What of Intelligent Design?

The pastor of my Church wrote to our congregation that Intelligent Design distorts the Lutheran understanding of God--that the creator is not accessible via reason or rationality, but by faith and grace. That is, we cannot know Him by looking around us or through scientific means, but instead must believe through what has been presented us in Scripture. In other words, that the Christian community should abstain from the debate on ID. My response follows:

Dear Pastor,

Interesting piece on Intelligent Design. I was recently talking to my parents and we somehow came to the issue of secular church activities. From what I understand, Lutheranism postulates an almost infinite separation of religion and ethics ("by faith alone")--morality naturally flows from faith, but does not bring it about. Catholicism is at the opposite end of the spectrum, with a crucial link between secular behavior and spiritual faith. Wesleyan denominations and other Protestant groups fall somewhere in between. Consequently, our emphasis is not on earthly concerns.

The criticisms of Protestant evangelism have always flummoxed me, as I've never once heard an ELCA sermon mention the contentious political issues of the day (ie abortion, same-sex marriage, stem cell research, etc). Certainly the groups most antithetical to Protestantism, like the ACLU, scream more vociferously about the aforementioned issues than any well known Christian leader I am aware of, save maybe for fringe elements like Jerry Falwell. So to read your words on it was a (nice) surprise.

I have a few questions, however. Do we then reject the Thomistic arguments for the existence of God? The teleological argument (Thomas' fifth way) seems essentially the same as the contemporary theory of creation by Intelligent Design. What the ID crowd argues is the same thing Thomas argued 750 years ago. It's done a heck of a job standing the test of time. But it's only a theory--I am unclear as to how it purports to know God in a "clearly perceptible" way. The theory gives rise to vague theism--the nature of God himself is not posited (at least not that I'm aware of). ID seems to me a probabilistic rather than definitive argument.

Another powerful argument of a more personal nature is Pascal's wager. It's always made sense to me--the best an atheist can hope for is the worst a genuine believer can. If God does not exist, then both rot in the ground at death. But woe to the non-believer at the time of crossover if He does. I realize that Luther and Melanchton (to a lesser extent) saw it is as a sign of weak faith that one would demand a rational explanation of God, when the supernatural is so likely beyond the reaches of empirical verification. To me, though, it helps supplement the faith I am only tenuously able to hold.

Back in the temporal world, I do not see why ID cannot be mentioned alongside evolution. I am a strong believer in Darwin's theory--looking at humanity from the perspective of evolution provides answers to so much of what many ID advocates believe about society: The maternal instinct, the culture of life, the inclination toward cultural homogeneity, the discomfort with homosexuality, and so on. And those who fervently push evolution without knowing the first thing about it (The full title of Darwin's famous work is The Origin of Species: By Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life--the last part mysteriously seems to get left out all the time!) do so largely because of their opposition to Christian values specifically and occidental culture in general. If they were more familiar with the theory, or other Darwinian works like Descent of Man, I do not believe they would so adamantly fight against ID. The ID crowd, if they were more familiar, would on the other hand welcome evolution as a part of God's larger intelligent design.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

One-two-three punch for France

The rioting in France has three miasmic elements: A low IQ population visibly distinct from the market-controlling group, a quasi-socialist state that stifles entrepreneurial activity and job creation, and Islam. Independently, each of these elements are troublesome enough. Combined, they give rise to mayhem.

Perhaps a fourth ingredient to top of it all off is the risible response by the government. By the end of the first night, the order on rioters should have been shoot to kill. Unfortunately, Sarkosky initially backed off his hardline. He appears to have regained his composure out of desparation as the riots approach a fortnight in duration:

The interior minister called for the deportation of foreigners convicted in the wave of unrest that has spread throughout France.

How many of the thugs are foreigners? The government may be in denial, much like Britain was following the London bombings and the Dutch were after the Van Gogh murder. Soon the Second City will wakeup to realize that it has a self-created homegrown problem.

No Western country has been as favorably inclined to the Muslim world as France, opposing the US at every turn, yet her cities are burning. Appeasement isn't going to stop the Muslim hordes. The developed world gains nothing by bringing in swarms of the third-world underclass, especially those from the Middle East. It takes a wall and a stick.

The folks in the US get it, where a majority of the citizenry wants an end to illegal immigration for economic, cultural, and security reasons. What about Europe? The right in France may gain some traction from the melee:

Anti-immigrant sentiment is particularly high in France, which is struggling against unemployment of 9.8 per cent.
"Marked on the Left by Dominique de Villepin, Sarkozy must capitalise on the Right and even on the Right of the Right," Liberation newspaper commented.
No one should gloat over the situation, but hopefully the tocsin has finally been heard. The clock is ticking on Europe's ability to save its civilization as low native birth rates and Islamic immigration show a very different Europe by mid-century.

US politicians should get a clue as well. Unskilled Hispanics do not pose a threat near the magnitude of Middle Easterners in Europe--They share many values with natives (religion, family-orientation, etc) and do not have idle hands. But the cultural and economic fault lines still exist. We need the wall and the implementation of a merit-based immigration system.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

More multicultural success

Paris burns for the twelfth straight day. The rioters are African Muslims who have, surprise surprise, fallen to the bottom of French society. Neither Islam nor Africa exactly correlate with success. No one should gloat over this predictable tragedy, but hopefully it will help awaken the West to the fact importing swarms of the low IQ, third-world underclass is an act of self-immolation. Predictably, the elites blame France for not assimilating and discriminating in favor of the hoodlums:
"It's the French mentality. They still haven't understood that even children with foreign origins have their place in society," says Boubaker. "They still think we're cleaners, and that's not good."

Nicolas Sarkozy has talked of the need to provide young people with job opportunities. The interior minister is also an advocate of positive discrimination for ethnic minorities, and of voting rights for foreigners.

I guess when a population causes trouble, you respond by giving more stuff to that population and bringing in more of its kin. After two weeks, the military still has not been called in to put down the insurrection. Unbelievable.

The French love to condescendingly mock the US for its racial 'inequities' while refusing to keep demographic statistics of their own. But France is now 10% Muslim--if Turkey finds its way into the EU that proportion will accrete rapidly--and the country's racial problem is not going away anytime soon. Sure, a less socialistic economic framework would move Islamic African slums from unemployment levels as high as 60% in some places to something that would give them a little more stake in the country. But until genetic or germ engineering allows for an artificial boost in intelligence (Arab countries average in the mid-80s, and most of Africa orbits around 70--France enjoys a 98), the vast disparity--and the resentment that accompanies it--will remain.

This comes on the heels of other recent high-profile, glowing multicultural triumphs: Black gangs and rioters in New Orleans, Bush's warm welcome in Argentina, South Africa's embracing of Zimbabwe's forced confiscation of white-owned farms, Pakistani Muslims attacking Indian relief workers in Kashmir, quasi-civil warring in Iraq, escalating terrorist activity directed at Israel as a reward for surrendering the Strip, ad infinitum. Samuel Huntington is such a fool--damn that prescient devil.

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60% of Americans want a barrier

I spend so much time reading the newswires and listening to NPR that the new Rasmussen poll nearly knocked me out of my socks. Of course, it shouldn't have. Most Americans are pragmatic people who want a better life for their friends and family. They don't waste time morally posturing themselves to appear as the enlightened by way of wishing for the country to be devastated by 'multiculturalism'. And they understand that cheap labor is subsidized labor, picked up by the net taxpayer. They are sick of open borders and derelict calls for amnesty. A full 60% of them support the construction of a barrier along the southern border to keep illegals out. Only 26% oppose such fortification.

Also encouraging is the revelation that more Americans oppose granting automatic citizenship (49%) to those born in the US than favor it (41%) (so-called anchor babies). The US is one of the few countries in the world with such an insane benefit granted to the children of criminals who are here illegally.

Duncan Hunter's stock just rose. The California Congressman is set to introduce a bill that captures the sentiment of most of America:
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon) on Thursday called for constructing a high-tech fence along the nation's border from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico as part of a sweeping crackdown on illegal immigration.

The proposal would also increase penalties on employers who hire undocumented workers, step up deportation of illegal immigrants already living in the U.S. and deny citizenship to U.S.-born children of illegal entrants, among a host of enforcement measures.

The bill, to be introduced soon, is a wish list for immigration control advocates in the pending congressional debate over President Bush's plan to create a guest worker program.

Unfortunately, Bush cares more about propping up uber-corrupt Mexico than protecting US citizens and increasing America's standard of living:
The Bush administration already has taken a stand against building a fence along the 2,000-mile-long border with Mexico. "Let me be clear: We will not build a giant wall across our border," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said this week in a speech in Houston.

No wonder he's a lame duck. Thankfully he only has three more years of paralysis before we get a shot at some new blood. My early support is with Tom Tancredo--if he coupled with the more voluble and intellectually alacritous Newt Gingrich, America's will might actually become a reality.

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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Patriot Bonds?

In an online discussion, someone said to me:

"And having China and Japan owning large amounts of America debt is unsettling," which made me decide that I should get my pet idea officially out so as to take credit for the one bit of perspicacity I might possess while I have the chance. I responded:

Yes, with the vitriolic anti-Americanism in the upper echelons of the PRC's government, especially the military. And the draconian one-child policy (which has recently been relaxed) means China has a glut of young men with no one to marry--the perfect candidates to invade Taiwan, Mongolia, maybe Siberia.

But we can always pull the debt back into US hands with a little yankee ingenuity. I'd create something called "Patriot Bonds" that the US government would sell exclusively to US citizens. With the money raised from this, the treasuries held by Asian banks could be bought back. If these Asian banks tried to buy the Patriot Bonds up from American holders, that's fine too. Just perpetually issue more, enriching US citizens in the process, until the Asian banks grow weary of taking a loss. I'm not sure how that would play out in the financial world, as it's an original idea I haven't heard from anyone else. But conceptually it seems like it would work if things got out of control.

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Tax reform proposals good for Republicans

Since politics will decide how much of the reform proposal gets through, its makes sense to look at the political implications. Seems to me that the first proposal (see page 5 for a summation of the new proposals), the only one that has a real shot of attracting actionable attention, would do much to help grow the Republican voter ranks.

First, it would end the subsidization of states with high state taxes by the states with low state taxes (requesting a synonym for the word 'state'!) Thus, states with a higher cost of living would likely have to decrease their state tax rates. Less money paid in taxes means more money to do things like start (or grow) a family. And a bigger family means mom and dad want politicians who espouse traditional values (easy to screech at the Boy Scouts for banning gay scout masters when you're childless, but when your son is heading off into the woods with one your perception changes).

Second, mortgages over $412,000 losing the deduction mean homes in cities on the coasts (Democratic bastions) are going to have a new economic disincentive--time to move to the cheaper inner flat lands and in the process start voting Republican.

No more pesky AMT. This helps sustain the middle class. Coupled with the fact that the plan is least friendly to the super rich, we have a recipe for more net income equality. And income parity (along with educational and cultural parity) means more Republican votes.

Small business owners are a Republican stalwart. The Simplified Income Tax Plan (first proposal) lowers the top rate small businesses can be taxed at to 33% and would allow most small businesses to use simple cash-basis accounting (deduct it from the books when you pay it and add it to the books when you receive it, instead of all that pesky stuff like deferrals and accruals).

In addition, a $1500 credit per child is patently more beneficial than the current $3200 exemption deduction. Having little urchins running around the house correlates with voting Republican.
And a further reduction in the marriage penalty encourages marriage. The majority of married individuals vote Republican while singles go for the Democrats.

Does anyone see a silver lining in this proposal for the Democrats? I don't. Chuck Shumer, who in my estimation is currently the sharpest limelight Democrat, certainly wasted no time in lambasting the proposal.

Hopefully some simplification will occur. The social incentives or disincentives are a point of argument, but cutting down on the estimated $190 billion spent each year to comply with federal tax laws is a deadloss we will all be better off without having (except maybe tax accounting firms like H&R Block).

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