Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Move the center of gravity by being extreme

One of the platitudes that irritates me the most is the one that goes something like "American politics are increasingly characterized by extremes as the middle has disappeared, yet the best way is always somewhere in the middle." I've heard the politician that grates my nerves the worst (Jack Danforth), use this on three separate occasions over the past month or so.

While such an airy statement is supposed to bring ideologues in from the extremes, rationally it should do the exact opposite. If the correct position is in effect an averaging of the total opinion, those on the extremes should be as radical/reactionary as possible.

Initially, you're far-left and I'm far-right. The moderate view is thus the right one. Responding to Danforth's advice, you shift to a moderate-left stance. I, on the other hand, in inebriated zeal, move even further right. So now the view somewhere between that of the moderate-right and far-right is the best one.

No wonder the GOP was in the minority while this guy was in charge.

(Terse tackiness)

EU outpaces US in emissions growth

The Kyoto Protocols aren't being lived up to by their signatories. I've seen several stories reporting that only two or three of the 166 nations that have ratified their commitments to reduce greenhouse emissions are actually on pace to do so. The US, although a signatory, hasn't ratified the agreement and consequently isn't binded by the Protocols. Portrayed as pigs, it should be pointed out that committing to reducing emissions and actually doing so are two very different things:
"The rising trend is the worrisome part of it," said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Since 2000, as their economies revived, countries in Eastern Europe also increased their emissions, rising by 4.1% according to the agency.

From 2000 to 2004, according to the U.N. data, the U.S., which isn't a party to Kyoto, had a slower increase in emissions (1.3%) than members of the European Union (2.4%). EU members have committed to drop their emissions by 8%, compared with 1990 levels, by 2012.
That the EU is increasing the rate of emissions faster than the US inspite of its members pledge to reduce them illustrates how difficult it is to curtail emissions through restriction. Stateside, we're doing a better job of curtailing emissions growth without hampering economic growth. Oil prices probably have something to do with that, as US consumers switch from SUVs and other gas-guzzlers to more fuel efficient vehicles. Nonetheless, last year, the US economy grew 3.5%, while the European Union limped along at 1.7%. So the EU is growing its emissions faster but its economy slower than the US! No wonder the WSJ-types ridicule the Kyoto Protocols so relentlessly.

Even if anthopogenic warming is occuring, I'm not convinced it'll be bad, especially for those in cooler climates (largely the developed world). It'll boost agricultural yields, increase economic activity (mild winters are good for retail and entertainment), decrease natural gas prices, make more accessible fish and oil in the Arctic (estimated to contain about a quarter of the world's supply), and hopefully make mostly uninhabited freezers like northern Canada, Greenland, and Siberia more inhabitable, so that surrounding high IQ populations can 'settle' them and procreate.

But if it is catastrophic, the environmental movement needs to find a better way to get nations to respond to the threat. This seems to illustrate how mandating emission-reductions stifles economic growth. If you agree to take part, you're going to be shooting yourself in the foot now for some perceived benefit in the future that will be shared by all. Those refusing to reduce emissions putatively still benefit from your reductions without having to sacrifice economic growth. It's a win-win for those not actively trying to reduce emissions, and a rough situation for those who do. It seems to me the way forward has to be through innovation. Make greener technologies that are economically viable (photovoltaics, fuel cells, etc) and the problem fixes itself. Green crusaders need to invest in companies conducting this sort of research. SRI is preferrable to governmental regulation (especially on an international scale).


Saturday, October 28, 2006

White babies quite the commodity

If you know a pregnant white girl contemplating an abortion and she wants your opinion on what she should do, make her aware of the affluence her child will likely enjoy if she gives it up for adoption:
When a couple seeking to adopt a white baby is charged $35,000 and a couple seeking a black baby is charged $4,000, the image that comes to the Rev. Ken Hutcherson's mind is of a practice that was outlawed in America nearly 150 years ago — the buying and selling of human beings.
Hispanic babies cost a middling $10,000. A couple that can afford to shell out what the average American makes in a year to adopt a child is probably going to provide a healthy and stimulating environment for that child. The problem with contemporary birthing trends in the US is that the younger the woman, the healthier the child tends to be (Down's syndrome, miscarriage, and other misfortunes are all correlated with the increasing age of the mother--and in the case of autism, the father as well). A baby birthed to a healthy, drug-free young woman is almost guaranteed to be in great health. Yet the older the woman, the more likely the child is to enjoy financial stability and be free from material concerns, enjoy access to good schools, etc (as women with the foresight to forgo children or who do so due to extended academic careers tend to be smarter and make more money).

If the girl is healthy, sharp, and generally stable in spite of a one-time strumpet-esque screwup, her baby has a chance at the best of both worlds. It'll probably be healthy, sharp, and be living in an affluent household with parents that definitely want it. You'll be advocating something morally more palatable than an abortion while buoying a US fertility rate that sits tenuously on the replenishment cusp.

As an interesting aside, the article linked above has a quote that illustrates the astuteness of Steve Sailer readers who offered a list of conceptual tools for understanding how the world works and the inability of most media types to employ said tools. Responding to criticism that healthy white mothers giving a child up fetch adoption agencies the highest price, we get:
"The thing that is scary to me is that children aren't perfect," she said. "People who are willing to pay high fees for healthy kids don't always get perfect children. If you pay $50,000, it doesn't mean that child is going to be healthy, gorgeous and smart."
Of course, compared to opting to adopt the child of a crack-addicted black mother the likelihood is much greater that you will. But since neither option A or B is perfect, option A and B must be essentially the same. Irrationality, our experts claim that rational moves by prospective adopters are irrational.

Mollified Muslims in France?

Media coverage of the French riots that 'erupted' last November dissipated as the number of vehicles set on fire fell from upwards of 1,400 per night. Prior to this conflagration, dozens of cars were being set ablaze on a nightly basis, and French police faced daily assault from Muslims in-country. So after the spike almost a year ago, the level of chaos fell back to the forty or so burning cars, right? Hardly:
The figures are stark. An average of 112 cars a day have been torched across France so far this year and there have been 15 attacks a day on police and emergency services. Nearly 3,000 police officers have been injured in clashes this year. Officers have been badly injured in four ambushes in the Paris outskirts since September. Some police talk of open war with youths who are bent on more than vandalism.
A little over a year ago, a level of destruction only a third of what occurs today was considered normalcy. Then the deaths of a couple of thugs sparked a powder keg, and anarchy spilled out of France's immigrant enclaves. After the riots burned themselves out (!), we assumed a return to that putative normalcy. But said normalcy is actually much worse, yet little attention is given to it because it's not sensational enough relative to what transpired before.

We're boiling slowly, unaware of slight but continual temperature increases. The most egregious Islamic activities, like the death of Theo Van Gogh, the cartoon madness, the various train and subway bombings, and the French riots work against the Islamization of Europe because they make salient the problems Muslims create. Similarly, the Hispanic immigrant protests in March of this year created a backlash. Better for La Raza to tell the migrants to lay low while the group throws relentless charges of racism at any person advocating immigration reform. It's the subtle changes that are the hardest to counter.

Attacks against French police continue their steady rise:
National police reported 2,458 cases of violence against officers in the first six months of the year, on pace to top the 4,246 cases recorded for all of 2005 and the 3,842 in 2004. Firefighters and rescue workers have also been targeted — and some now receive police escorts in such areas.
Western media sources are good at sensationalizing 'freak' occurences but not so good at putting less sensational happenings into proper perspective. Though last year's riots got the headlines, this year is on pace to be 16% more destructive than last, in spite of the high-profile chaos that transpired last year. But since there hasn't been an abrupt, sensational surge this year, a more violent year is getting less coverage regarding violence than a less violent year did.

Adding to the frustration, muddled birthing trends may be creating a positive veneer to mask an ominous reality:
While falling birthrates threaten to undermine economies and social stability across much of an aging Europe, French fertility rates are increasing. France now has the second-highest fertility rate in Europe -- 1.94 children born per woman, exceeded slightly by Ireland's rate of 1.99. The U.S. fertility rate is 2.01 children.
Randall at Parapundit then asks:
What I'd like to know: what is the native French fertility rate and what is the Muslim fertility rate?
Great question. Unfortunately the French government doesn't keep statistical information by race or ethnicity. The comments section is rich with speculation and other commentary that's worth the read nonetheless. Common sense and compassion dictate that if it is the French that are causing the 'youths' to riot, more innocent Muslim children should not be brought into the oppression and poverty faced by the nation's Muslim minority. And if the Muslim enclaves are responsible, the same dictate that French citizenry not be subjected to such aggression. France needs to know where the ferility rates are coming from to gauge whether or not the incentives have been successful.

However, the growth might not be overwhelmingly attributable to Muslims. With nearly 10% of the country now comprised of Muslims, primarily from Algeria and Morocco, an increasing number of births are not to children of European descent. Still, fertility in those countries, at 1.89 and 2.68 births per woman, respectively, doesn't make it obvious that French Muslim fecundity is significantly greater than that of the European French. It'll be interesting to watch how incentives and subsidies offered to Japanese parents turn out (Japan, like Russia, is suffering an absolute population decline and is interested in the French model).

(Clash of civilizations)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

State IQ estimates from McDaniel of Virginia Commonwealth University

What makes being audacious enjoyable can also make it turbulent. Saying or posting something novel runs the risk of overlooking something critical that renders all you've said meaningless and leaves you looking like an idiot (see three-fourths the way down in the comments section). So when a big-league player comes out and mirrors almost exactly what you've come up with, it's quite a relief.

Professor Michael McDaniel of VCU recently had a paper published in Intelligence estimating average IQ by state based on NAEP testing results (easily accessible viewing of the estimates via Dienekes). You may recall that I attempted the same back in July. Well, we were after the same thing. Our results correlate almost perfectly at over .96. Doubtful a distinguished professor gets a confidence boost from the supportive results of some livingroom puke, but the puke sure does!

We did differ in some ways, however. McDaniel set the mean IQ at 100 with a standard deviation of 15 and averaged the mean results from NAEP reading and math scores by state for both the fourth and eighth grades. He also adjusted for the percentage of white children in each state attending non-public schools.

I took the regression equations produced by running the numbers in the data table put together by Richard Lynn in Race Differences in Intelligence where he correlates IQ scores with international math and science test scores (pp 173-175) and then adjusted the nominal test score values (by running an IQ of 98 through the regression equation produced by Lynn's numbers) on the international tests to the NAEP math and science tests in the US, applying an equal weight to eighth grade math and science NAEP scores.

I opted for science scores over reading scores for a few reasons: Lynn used math and science, scholastic science questions are more g-loaded than reading ones are (reading skills are more problematic at younger ages), and reading comprehension questions are more biased against newly-arrived immigrants than either science or math questions are. A minor drawback is that Kansas and Pennsylvania lack NAEP science results so I had to estimate using only the math results for these two states.

Whether math, science, or reading results are used is of mostly academic importance: math and science results correlate at .90, math and reading at .91, and (somewhat surprisingly) science and reading at .95 (all for eighth graders).

McDaniel probably improves on my estimates by taking non-public school attendance into account. He argues that private- and homeschooled children tend to be cognitively above average. Generally that makes sense, although about 7% of private schools in the US are devoted to special education, and with over three-fourths are religiously affiliated, questions of values and morality rather than just academic attributes have to be considered. The NCES estimates that privately-schooled eighth graders score the equivalent of 12.3 points better on NAEP math tests (not in terms of IQ--the max is 500). I'll adjust for the proportion of private school attendees accordingly in the near future to see if it might improve the estimates.

In his VDare column on McDaniel's work, Steve Sailer compares the professor's estimates with those of previous good-faith attempts at ascertaining average state IQs. I correlated mine with the same attempts. With McDaniel's in green and mine in blue, estimates correlate with the 1960 Project Talent at .63 and .60, a mid-eighties study of Vietnam Vets' IQ at .63 and .61, with a combined ACT/SAT estimate at .71 and .71, and with Tickle's averages at .53 and .52. Quite similar, although McDaniel's are a bit more vigorous. I suspect that is due to the non-public schooling adjustment.

McDaniel's work is long overdue, as it dispels the spurious estimates of state IQ that have bubbled up in the past. And his academic courage is admirable. For example, in the discussion following his results, he writes:

IQ at the individual level has strong correlates with race. There are large and intractable mean racial differences in IQ at the person level... Because racial composition of the state is a large magnitude correlate of state IQ, one cannot expect meaningful changes in estimated state IQ as long as the state racial composition is relatively stable.
Plenty of sharp Americans, as well as myself, have long advocated the institution of a merit immigration system to allow the US to glean the global cream of the crop (to increase the national IQ and standard of living, shrink the wealth gap, etc) rather than absorbing millions of destitute third-world liabilities as our current immigration policy does. McDaniel logically takes this same argument to the state level:

States might structure incentives to encourage those with high IQs to remain in the state. Likewise, a state may encourage high IQ individuals to have children. Over time, these policies should raise the average IQ of state residents.
Without apology, he suggests different eugenic techniques, entertaining the 2,500 year old Platonic idea of state-permitted birthing. No less unapologetically, he points out that states might consider becoming "Jewish-friendly" to pull in buckets of Ashkenazi.

Business schools harp relentlessly on the idea of human capital, and yet the full scope of what this means is so rarely bantered about. Instead, education and training proxy loosely for IQ, but at great deadweight loss (a concept B-schools are also familiar with). I wish I could take a few classes with McDaniel--undoubtedly the lectures and conversations would be more fruitful than the typical blather that ignores human biodiversity.

(Human biodiversity2)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

More on black IQ estimates

That the black/white IQ gap may be narrowing is good news so long as it continues to be the result of increased black IQ. At the same time it illustrates the disastrous toll the sixties cultural revolution has taken on the African American community. In spite of better nutrition, access to better education and healthcare, possible cognitive gains, and the near eradication of irrational racism (directed at blacks), the black illegitimacy rate hovers around 70%, up from 9% in 1950, blacks are incarcerated at a rate over eight times that of whites (pre-sixties they were imprisoned at four times the white rate), and white households now have on average over fourteen times the wealth of black households.

Irrational racism hasn't been eradicated completely, of course. Besides the Orwellian logic of discriminating to end discrimination, providing equal opportunity by explicitly creating unequal opportunity, etc, of affirmative action, irrational racism is constantly reinforced by black leaders and black entertainment. One only needs to listen to the local hip-hop station to get a flavor. The local station in my city uses the acronym "LSB" (light-skinned brother) to refer to whites that are approved of, while news segments focus almost exclusively on blacks in the local community (the black community places a much greater emphasis on current events relative to national or international ones than do mainstream sources of news, due in part to the tight geographical proximity that exists in the inner city). A 'legacy of slavery' pervades, putatively implicating all whites for an intractable disdain for blacks, a supposition that is in itself deeply and irrationally racist. This defeatism, constantly reinforced, makes it all the more difficult for an already disadvantaged group to progress socially and economically. So in spite of so many material improvements, in many ways the black community is in worse shape than it was in the early sixties.

Nonetheless, I'm encouraged by the potential black improvement.

Also, more to repudiate the myth that the US military is the hesistant refuge of the hopeless, especially among blacks. While the military is often derided as an institution that disproportionately risks the lives of young black men (even though blacks suffer casualties at rates lower than their numbers would suggest) with no where else to turn, black children in the Department of Defense Education Activity (the school system for servicepeople overseas) score higher than the black population of any of the fifty states plus DC (enjoying an estimated IQ of 95.8), placing them at the 44th percentile nationally (compared to the historical average at the 16th percentile for African Americans) just an arm's length behind West Virginia's white population.

(Human biodiversity2)

Black IQ estimates by state

Employing the same methodology used to estimate state average IQs, I've been breaking the results down by race. Black estimates by state follow (those not listed had too small an NAEP test-taking contingent to use with any statistical certainty):

1) Washington -- 94.5
2) Delaware -- 93.9
3) Massachusetts -- 93.6
3) Virginia -- 93.6
5) Alaska -- 93.5
6) New Jersey -- 92.9
7) Colorado -- 92.9
8) South Carolina -- 92.5
9) New Mexico -- 92.3
10) Kentucky -- 92.2
11) Texas -- 92.2
12) New York -- 92.1
13) Oregon -- 92.0
14) Arizona -- 91.9
15) North Carolina -- 91.5
16) West Virginia -- 91.5
17) Georgia -- 91.3
18) Iowa -- 91.3
18) Kansas -- 91.3
20) Maryland -- 91.2
21) Ohio -- 91.1
22) Michigan -- 91.1
23) Conneticut -- 90.6
24) Indiana -- 90.4
25) Pennsylvania -- 90.4
26) Missouri -- 90.4
27) Rhode Island -- 90.2
28) Louisiana -- 90.1
29) Minnesota -- 90.0
30) Illinois -- 89.8
30) Oklahoma -- 89.8
32) California -- 89.7
33) Florida -- 89.6
34) Wisconsin -- 89.5
35) Tennessee -- 89.3
36) Nebraska -- 89.0
37) Nevada -- 88.7
38) DC -- 88.6
39) Mississippi -- 88.5
40) Arkansas -- 88.0
41) Alabama -- 87.8

The relatively high scores jump out immediately to those who are familiar with the historical results of IQ testing by race. Adjusted for population, the average IQ estimate for black Americans comes to just under 91. Traditionally, African Americans have consistently scored around 85, and the gap between whites and blacks has held tenaciously at one standard deviation. So these estimates appear rather high. A few possibilities as to why:

- The black/white IQ gap may be narrowing. Flynn and Dickens argue that blacks have gained five or six points on whites over the last three decades, presumably spurred in part by better access to nutrition and healthcare. If accurate, that would put contemporary average African American IQ at 90 or 91, just as my estimates did.

- The rate of interracial marriage and procreation has increased over time. Lynn marshalls lots of evidence showing that racial 'hybrids' tend toward IQs that are an average of the two groups their parents represent. The offspring of one black and one white parent represent almost 3% of American births today, compared to about 2.3% in 1995 and around 1.3% in 1980. This should work to attenuate the gap by slightly lowering average white IQ and raising average black IQ a bit (the latter should rise more than the former falls due to sheer size). But taking a net 1.7% 'blending' and assuming a 15 point gap would only be expected to narrow the gap by a quarter of one point.

Relatedly, states with lighter skinned blacks (those with more white ancestry in the northern states especially) tend to achieve higher test score results, although the results aren't that pronounced. Deep-south South Carolina certainly bucks the trend, probably due to the number of black military families at Fort Jackson, where most army personnel are initially trained.

- I built the formula for the estimates using Lynn's data on international academic and IQ test results, so my equation is linear. Although Lynn believes that adjusting for attenuation yields a correlation between test scores and IQ of 1 (a perfect relationship), I'm inclined to assume that the correlations for IQ and math (.87) and IQ and science (.81), even adjusted for attenuation, are still not perfect. And because my formula is linear, moving further out from the averages if anything underestimates the magnitude of the true deviation. So depending on the true strength of the relationship, the estimates might be inflated by a couple of points (although I think this would only be on the order of a point or two).

- Differing rates of truancy by race may be artificially giving blacks a boost relative to whites. Assuming that children frequently absent from school generally come from more chaotic, less endowed households, it follows that students who are the least likely to show up on test day are among the poorest performers. And the absentee rate for black children (24%), defined as missing an average of three or more days per month, is greater than the rate for white striplings (19%).

- According to Rushton, black adolescents develop faster than white adolescents (who in turn develop faster than Asians). Consequently, young blacks achieve greater parity with their white counterparts than they do as both groups age. Indeed, very early on black children may be more intelligent than whites and Asians due to relatively accelerated physical development. This meshes with Steve Sailer's tentative assertion and the GNXP graph supporting it that the gap may have narrowed among children but doesn't appear to be shrinking among adults. To the extent that differing development levels affect average scores by race, IQ tests based on an average white IQ of 100 given to children will tend to underestimate the eventual cognitive capacity of Asians and overestimate it for blacks.

(Human biodiversity2)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ctrl+c before you save

I've been aware of Blogger's atrocious timeout/relog cycle for several months now, but in a rush yesterday morning I managed to get snared by it anyway. If you enter the dashboard and create or edit posts, after some period of time (two hours?) any attempt to save or publish will send you to a login screen requesting that you re-enter your name and password. Then it will send you back to the dashboard without saving/publishing what you have written! Trying to back out won't help you either--the stuff is simply lost. So before other users attempt to do the same after a particularly long session, ctrl+n to replicate or ctrl+c after highlighting your html text before rolling the dice on whether or not Blogger will send your afflatus into the netherworld.

After spending a couple hours messing around with some numbers for a post I'd been working on, I'd to leave for work and hit 'save' before doing either of the two suggested above. My ramblings were unrecoverable and in a fit of rage I damaged the card table chair that serves as the throne to my home workstation. Screeching in anger also caused voice strain for a day. Don't become a victim of Google's beta-syndrome like I did--copy and replicate the page before going to save or publish.

(Personal use)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Nineteen million Indonesian Muslims support bombings

Islam is a violent religion. You need only read a few lines from the Koran to get a flavor of it. 2:216 of The Cow illustrates well enough:
"Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it... [Keeping in mind that we're in the midst of a violent Ramadan in the Middle East] They ask you about the sacred month. Say: 'To fight in this month is a grave offence; but to debar others from the path of God, to deny Him, and to expel His worshippers from the Holy Mosque, is far more grave in His sight. Idolatry is more grievous than bloodshed."
Hardly the 'turn the other cheek' ethos of the Amish. The Sura The Prophets is a fuller suggestion for reading if you want to get a good feeling of the Koran's content.

Around 19 million Indonesian Muslims (Muslims comprise about 85% of Indonesia's 220 million people) support a violent defense of the faith just as Allah did through Muhammad in the mid-7th Century (the Koran was standardized in the mid-7th Century and remains unchanged to this day):
Around one in 10 Indonesian Muslims support jihad and justify bomb attacks on Indonesia's tourist island of Bali as defending the faith, a survey released on Sunday showed. ...

"Jihad that has been understood partially and practised with violence is justified by around one in 10 Indonesian Muslims," the Indonesian Survey Institute said in a statement.

"They approved the bombings conducted ... in Bali with the excuse of defending Islam," it added, saying the percentage of such support "is very significant".

Jemaah Islamiah, the Islamic organization behind the Bali bombings, has ties to other international Islamic organizations such as Al Qaeda. The founders of Jemaah Islamiah fought alongside bin Laden in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion. The group says it wants to establish a caliphate in Southeast Asia extending through Indonesia to Malaysia, Thailand and as far as the Philippines. Over the last couple of years the group has attacked Western (mostly Australian) tourist spots as well as the US consulate in Bali.

A substantial number of Indonesians support what JI is doing. The proportion is similar to the proportion of left-handed people in the US. Imagine if every southpaw you knew supported terrorist attacks on Chinese businesses operating in the US. The Islamic world and the Euro-descended West are incompatible with one another. This is yet more evidence that the two civilizations need to disconnect.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

WSJ for open borders in China, in general

The WSJ's Melanie Kirkpatrick opines that China should open its 900 miles of border with it's rogue neighbor to solve the North Korean problem by collapsing Kim Jong Il's regime. A Chinese government document reports that 400,000 illegal North Korean immigrants have entered the PRC in the last 23 years and that they just keep coming. This, she argues, evinces the humanitarian crisis that is North Korea.

Like our estimates of illegal immigrants within the US, the Chinese estimate is probably too low. But for purposes of comparison, we can use both. Currently, about 1.5 million illegal immigrants enter the US each year (a little over half voluntarily return home or are detained and sent home), more than two-thirds of whom are from Mexico. Thus, somewhere around one million illegal Mexican aliens enter the US each year, while 400,000 Koreans have illegally crossed into China over the last 2.3 decades.

Mexico has around 8 million migrants stateside, compared to 100,000 or so North Koreans illegally in China. Mexico's population is five times that of the North's, so adjusted for population Mexico has lost 16 times as many people to illegal emigration to the US as North Korea has lost to China. There are, of course, big differences, namely that Mexicans fleeing Mexico are celebrated by the Mexican government, while North Koreans fleeing North Korea risk severe punishment if captured and returned home.

I'm a bit confused. If we make the US-Mexico border airtight, the Mexican government will collapse (a bad thing). But if the China-Korea border is sealed up, Kim Jong Il's regime will live on in perpetuity (another bad thing).

I suppose the logic of it doesn't matter--the crucial point the WSJ wants to make is that open borders are a wonderful thing to be celebrated in all places (except for in the Middle East, where tight borders in Iraq and Israel are advocated).


Tax-deferred variable annuity retirement account a bad idea

Catching the end of a mutual fund radio show this morning, I heard that there are a good number of people out there (reportedly some 70,000 with a single insurance company that escapes my name) with tax-deferred variable annuity retirement accounts.

Don't open one up. If you've a putatively trusted advisor or insurance agent who suggests you do so, boot him. His conduct is a dereliction of fiduciary duty and will earn him greater revenue through the extra cost but do you no good. If you have opened one, taking the 10% penalty now to pull it out is still likely the right move if the sum isn't enormous.

It makes absolutely no sense to open one, unless you've maxed out all your other tax-deferred options (like 401k, IRA, etc), and even then it's sub-optimal, because if life expectancies have been increased drastically by the time you retire (SENS breakthrough, for example), your monthly stipend will be infintesimal. You'll pay extra fees (in the general range of 1%-4%) on top of the mutual fund fees/commissions that the annuity provider will invest you in (or allow you to choose to invest yourself in). Then, at some point past the age of 59.5, you'll be able to begin collecting an annuity until death based on your life essentials at the time of election. So you'll pay extra to eventually enter into an annuity you would just as well enter by cashing out your 401k or other tax-deferred retirement account (without the extra fees) at the same age and sticking it into an annuity at that point.

(Personal use)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Orthogonal musings on birthrates, religion

A man I knew recently passed on. I had the opportunity to speak to him at length less than 48 hours before he died, and the conversation will be etched in my mind for as long as my memory holds out. Although he was in his eighties, his mind was sharp (he died of lung cancer). Despite facing the end through slow suffocation, he showed no anxiety. He was ready to see a daughter who had died in infancy. A pious and secularly erudite man, he 'lectured' to me on multiple occasions on the Beatitudes, especially the Sermon on the Mount.

I bring this up because it illustrates a recurring theme: How beneficial or detrimental to an individual and to society is religious belief? That's a question with so many externalities and exceptions that a straightforward answer is lacking. I'm terrified of death a good sixty years out (or much longer, I hope), yet this friend was indifferent, even eager, just hours prior. I'm not religious. He was. So score one for religion? But that's hardly a trend. It just illustrates the shortcomings of one eschatological monomaniac.

On a national level, religiosity and IQ are, using data from a Pew survey, inversely correlated at .848. Domestically, religious belief and educational attainment are inversely related as well. But in the game of survival, 'fitness' doesn't necessarily entail the characteristics we conventionally deem desirable. The bald eagle is stronger, can fly higher, and has better eyesight than the red-tailed hawk. The peregrine falcon is faster and delivers a more crushing blow than the red-tail, but the red-tail thrives while the others recover from near extinction. Grizzlies are physically superior to black bears in every way, but the latter are everywhere and the former are nearly impossible to find. And the pitiable pious are reproducing, while the astute apostates are not.

The correlation between religiosity and fecundity at the national level (measured in total births per woman) is a statistically significant .714. The meek are inheriting the earth. Irreligious nations are moribund nations. Russians and Japanese are both dying faster than they're reproducing. All of the developed world, save the US (barely) and Israel, is on track not only to lose population 'market share' but to begin hemorraging population in absolute numbers as well.
It takes time for birth patterns to show up in terms of total population. This accentuates the problem, because by the time the problem becomes salient, fifty years of extra fecundity still leaves a smaller population than existed as the society first went over the precipice a half-century before. A simple hypothetical demonstrates.

Say there are 50 men and 50 women that dropped out of the sky as infants (total 100). Each live to 95 and give birth to one child (the women does) at age 30. Thus, after 30 years we have 150 people. Of those 50 newborns, 25 are men and 25 are women who will follow the same pattern. Thirty years later, we have 175 people total: 100 at age sixty, 50 at thirty, and 25 infants (population still growing).

Another 30 years, with the same birth cycles for our third generation (say 13 are women, 12 are men) and we now have 188 people total. But the age distribution is economically disastrous: 100 people are ninety, 50 are sixty, 25 are thirty, and 13 are infants. Supporting the people on top is smothering the younger generations, especially the 25 who are currnetly thirty years old.

The economic burden of supporting the senescent people makes it likely that they will have even fewer children than they did (relative to their parents). It's a vicious circle. This is where the West is today. Thirty years later the proportions are the same, but the population has finally started shrinking (because the largest first generation finally kicked the bucket): 50 people at ninety, 25 at sixty, 13 at thirty, and six infants (94 total people).

Now we are in free-fall. Thirty years later at the same births per woman, and we have only 47 people (25 at ninety, 13 at sixty, 6 at thirty, and 3 infants). If we do finally get our act (er, bodies) together, it takes generations for the momentum to actually shift. Let's say instead of plummeting, that last generation actually became thrice as fertile and had three kids per woman: 25 at ninety, 13 at sixty, 6 at thirty, and 9 infants (total 53). The next generation similarly has three children per woman: 13 at ninety, 6 at sixty, 9 at thirty, and 13 infants (total 41). Three generations into three-children women: 6 at ninety, 9 at sixty, 13 at thirty, and 20 infants (total 48). Four generations of birthing well above the replenishment rate, and we still have fewer people than we did at the height of the single-child generation.

At the height of Western dominance just before WWI, people of European ancestry comprised one-fourth of the world's population. At the dawn of the sexual revolution in the early sixties, they comprised one-sixth of it. Today, they make up one-tenth and that proportion continues to fall.

The religious also tend to be more nationalistic (anabaptists and Jehovah's Witnesses excluded), and the decline of Western religiosity has paralleled the decline in Western nationalism. A Pew survey of white evangelicals, mainstream Protestants, Catholics, and secularists found support for immigration restriction proceeded in the same order, with evangelicals least supportive of current immigration patterns and secularists the most supportive of them.

To the extent that religion has a causal effect on procreation and nationalism, it's difficult to see how to increase it without importing a low IQ third-world population. We need to find a way to glean the benefits associated with religiosity (fecundity and support for sovereignty) without assuming the baggage (lower economic productivity and lower IQs).

Could it be as simple as making the intelligent more pious? While the idea is abhorrent to the sharp, critical brains out there, I'm not aware of any evidence showing that religiosity has a detrimental effect on IQ, although that seems to be suggested when people point out strong inverse relationship between religiosity and IQ. Ownership of a seeing-eye dog is strongly related to the inability to drive a car. But obviously the dog doesn't render one unable to drive, nor does the inability of the owner to operate a vehicle say anything about the value of the dog.

I suspect religion is only a part of a larger cultural shift in which there is little pressure on people to get married and have children, and virtually no stigmatization if they refuse to. While Catholicism still condemns the pill, it's available nonetheless. An increasingly competitive globalized economy makes childrearing costly by diverting energy from business pursuits. A few places like France, Portugal and Russia have introduced economic incentives to entice their populations to have more children, but historically the results have been marginal because even with stipends to soften the blow of husbandry, children are still an economic liability. It's simply becoming less rational on the individual level to have children. But what is good for the individual can be disastrous for society (stealing/cheating, for example). The irrationality of religion probably negates the natural movement towards voluntary childlessness that seems to inevitably result from a world progressively open to 'selfish' pursuits, so many of which are more intriguing and less costly than raising kids.

Demographics become destiny. The US is staying afloat in the battle for replenishment by comprising its ethnic composition, trading skills and smarts for babies. The rest of the Occident is dying. Introducing market forces into the academic world should help. So would policies focused on making affordable family formation as conducive as possible, such as an end to wage-suppressing peasant labor and the instituting of a merit immigration system to raise the average native's standard of living.

(Politics and Religion)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Cheap labor inhibits innovation

"Necessity, who is the mother of our invention," said Plato through Socrates two-and-a-half millenia ago. The father of Western philosophy is still relevant today (via Steve):
Plagued by rising costs for labor and worker shortages, the packinghouse bought the $28,500 harvester this year.

The irony: Bean harvesters have been in use for about 30 years elsewhere in the United States. Simple geography — the proximity to a huge, low-cost labor force in Mexico — virtually had kept them out of California fields until now.

Severe spot-labor shortages, crackdowns on illegal immigration and planned increases in the minimum wage have opened California's doors to existing machinery, fostered research and development to meet niche agricultural needs and taken talk of orchard robots out of the realm of science fiction. ...

This year's raisin harvest is nearly 70% complete, and for the first time in years, labor needs did not become an issue, said Glen Goto, who heads the Raisin Bargaining Association. He cited two reasons: At least 40% of the crop is mechanically harvested, and grape yields may be down as much as 30%. ...

Countries where low-cost labor is in short supply have been in the machine-farming vanguard. Australians and Italians, for example, pioneered using machines to prune grapevines, said Maxwell Norton, a University of California farm adviser for Merced County.

Japan only has a few hundred thousand immigrants in all of the country. It also has over half of the world's robots.

What's the future of the American economy? Is it in perpetually chasing ever-cheaper serf labor to the point that our workforce becomes as third-world as our export profile? Or is it in good old Yankee ingenuity, where our quality of life is among the highest in the world because we put machines to work on the menial tasks so that we can spend more time developing better ways to do things and focus on turning reverie into reality?


Monday, October 09, 2006

Congressional committee to recommend partition

James Baker, co-chair of the commission, actually euphemizes "partition" by advocating a "division". Whatever. Importantly, Congress is finally coming to see the wisdom in Senator Biden and Leslie Gelb's argument (and one that Randall Parker has advocated since 2003) for the creation of three essentially independent states interconnected only by a weak national government charged with foreign relations and the equitable distribution of oil revenues:
The Baker commission has grown increasingly interested in the idea of splitting the Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish regions of Iraq as the only alternative to what Baker calls “cutting and running” or “staying the course”.
This option seems optimal to me for a couple of reasons. It will reduce the 'internecine' killings taking place between Sunni and Shia militia groups and official recognize the unofficial partitioning that is already taking place as Shia and Sunni leave cities where they are in the minority. More broadly, it will illustrate to leaders of other Islamic states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Syria how the introduction of democratic reforms threatens to break up their states into autonomous pieces. So they'll be less inclined to do so, meaning the Arab street, which is more dangerous to us both economically and in terms of security, will continue to be squelched by 'ironfists' with return addresses.

The biggest problem will be ensuring that the Sunnis in central Iraq get some cut of Iraq's oil revenue. But that's going to be a hurdle no matter what.

Our two most powerful leaders are finally considering options other than "staying the course":
Bush and Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, have resisted the break-up of Iraq on the grounds that it could lead to more violence, but are thought to be reconsidering. “They have finally noticed that the country is being partitioned by civil war and ethnic cleansing is already a daily event,” said Leslie Gelb, former president of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Better really really late than never, I suppose.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

North Korea conducts nuclear test

North Korea apparently conducted a nuclear test, although what was actually tested remains unclear as of this moment:
The specter of an Asian atomic arms race loomed over the region Monday after communist North Korea shocked the world by announcing it conducted its first-ever nuclear test in a brazen move that fueled global jitters.
Russian intelligence revealed that Pyongyang was prepared to demonstrate the nuclear capability it first announced that it possessed less than four years ago. But the Russians thought it would be months before North Korea would act upon the threat. The Chinese warned it would be sooner. China has the best window into the Hermit Kingdom.

No nation appears to be thrilled about North Korea's reticence. Japan, which led the charge at Turtle Bay against North Korea, has promised sanctions in response to nuclear testing. Former Prime Minister Nakasone's (from '83-87) think tank encourages Japan to go nuclear in response to the growing threat of aggression in the region. The country with the infamously pacifist constitution has the fourth largest military budget in the world. The Japanese historically detest Koreans and the feeling is more than mutual. Tokyo has a host of incentives in military growth and in the acquisition of nuclear weapons. But the argument that kept Japan from going nuclear when it seriously considered doing so in 1995 is the same that threatens to keep it from picking up the ball today:
Tokyo weighed atomic weapons back in 1995 to counter the threat of a nuclear-armed North Korea. But the government ultimately rejected the idea because it might deprive Japan of U.S. military protection and alarm neighboring countries.
That is the same argument the conservatives in South Korea make. I'm with the liberals (the nationalists) in both countries. I don't see how the US benefits from having 30,000 pieces of cannon fodder stationed near the DMZ while the ROK, with a population twice the size, military spending over four times as great, and an economy 24 times the size of its starving, dwarfed northern neighbor, claims that it is threatened by an attack from Pyongyang that it cannot handle without American security guarantees.

China is also irked by North Korea's recklessness:
As international tensions over North Korea have soared, China has deployed extra combat units of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to man the border from the
Yalu River in the south to the Tumen River near Russia - evidently fearing the risk of chaos and collapse.
The PRC faces a refugee crisis if Kim Jong Il does anything to get himself obliterated, like say attack Seoul with nuclear weapons (especially if the South had the ability to respond unilaterally in-kind). Further, China, which wants increased influence in its own backyard, clearly doesn't benefit from Northern provocations that prod South Korea, Japan, and possibly even Taiwan to go nuclear and further increase military spending. Russia, the North's other pal in the region, is in a similar predicament.

The UN Security Council, which of course includes both China and Russia, unanimously agreed that Pyongyang had to drop its plans for the nuclear test. Three days later, Pyongyang gave the impotent international body the middle finger. The vaunted international community will do nothing in response to testing of nuclear weapons--weapons similar to the ones dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII and capable of killing an estimated 200,000 people. The US has little vital interest in doing so and risks embarrasing overextension if military conflict breaks out.

The solution seems to be for the very capable nations of Japan and South Korea to provide for their own defense and act as a counterbalance to the North Korea immediately and to China in the future. South Korea can legitimately site the North's abrogation of the 1991 treaty in which both Koreas pledged not to go nuclear. Kim Jong Il's perverted playboy lifestyle is in jeapordy if either Seoul or Tokyo decide to go nuclear. Suddenly the North would face assured destruction if it launced a nuclear attack while being utterly incapable of matching either nation conventionally (the only things North Korea will has are air power and nukes).

I see no reason for the US to carry the water of Japan and South Korea when the two can do so on their own, and in the process become powerful players with geopolitical goals similar to those of the US. Why not speed up the drawdown and instead of having 5,000 more troops out of the South in a couple of years, have everyone out, while encouraging our friends in the region to arm themselves?


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Militant leftists attack Minuteman founder

Fascism is an epithet flung around far too irresponsibly and inaccurately. But if not fascists, far-left socialists continue to employ fascistic tactics on a regular basis. Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist and co-author of the Swift Boat Veterans book Jerome Corsi were run off stage by militant Hispanics and other leftists during a speaking engagement at Colombia University.

This simply doesn't happen on the right in contemporary America. Gilchrist and Corsi were invited to speak at an engagement of voluntary attendance, put on by the university's Young Republicans. The closest those somewhere on the right come to advocating the silencing of those with whom they disagree is in the attempted removal of instructors pushing an overtly political agenda in the classroom without student alternative. The lack of probity is disturbing. Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Bill Kristol, and even Arnold Schwarzenneger have all been targets of similar viciousness in the political arena over the past year. A slightly more sophisticated silencing takes place in the realm of human biodiversity, a la Lawrence Summers.

Randall Parker pulls an indellible quote from one of the hoodlums:
"We were aware that there was going to be a sign and we were going to occupy the stage," said a protestor who was on stage and asked to remain anonymous. "I don't feel like we need to apologize or anything. It was fundamentally a part of free speech. ... The Minutemen are not a legitimate part of the debate on immigration."
That sort of Orwellian-speak is worthy of the same recognition given to a statement made earlier by Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesperson:
"Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence."

The protestor's 'logic' is empty. Free speech is allowed, so long as it is appropriate speech. The appropriateness is to be determined by the protestor. So it's open season on anyone he disagrees with; a solipsist's dream and a free society's nightmare.

As the US becomes increasingly heterogenuous, we can expect more ruckus antipodal to intelligent debate. As groups like La Raza grow in prominence, calls for demands to be met will be made with increasing pretension. People will be moved to choose sides based on demographics rather than merit. Restricted though it may be, free speech still flourishes with the most vitality in the US. As the middle class white majority slides into minority status, our republic will become a spoils system, with pols indiscreetly targeting the specific ethnic group they represent at the expense of the balkanized whole. In the words of Lee Kwan Yew:
In multiracial societies, you don't vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion.

We see the sprinkles ahead of the storm at Colombia and in the streets of Los Angeles. If enough pressure is applied, the storm might yet be averted. Don't let the Senate off the hook for watering down the 700-mile fence bill.


In brief

- A commenter asked: But would the US take Boers? with the presumption that eventually South African whites will suffer the same fate that whites in Zimbabwe are suffering today. Zimbabwe is less than 1% white, and considerably poorer than South Africa, which is almost 10% white (4 million people). That's a much larger population to plunder, and, in contrast to Zimbabwe, most whites (as well as the larger South African population) aren't employed in agriculture. But South Africa is toying around with the idea of emulating Mugabe's 'redistribution' plans. We'll agree to take in 60,000 Bhutanese refugees living in Nepal before getting a Nepalese "okay", so we might as well commit even further in advance on behalf of the Boers!

- If the private jet that collided with and brought down a Brazilian 737 had a defunct or turned-off transponder, why didn't air traffic control command the 737 to gain altitude as quickly as possible? The 737 was flying at 37,000 feet, the private jet thought to be at 36,000 (but apparently reaching 37,000 feet at the time the two crossed paths). If someone's in danger of crashing into me and not responding to warning singals, let me know so I can get as far away from him as possible.

- Whew, are wedding ceremonies long and dull. At least Idiocratization will mean a reduction in such formalistic faggishness. It'll be straight to kissing and gorging, all that hedonistic stuff of simpletons... Ah crap, there'll be a lot more divorces, which means there'll be a lot more weddings. Then again, lots of people will be too shortsighted to realize I skipped out on the wedding entirely. But there'll be a lot more people around to invite me in the first place. Of course, I won't be friends with any of them. Damn, but my moronic wife will be. I guess a wash is the best I can hope for. I'll keep keeping my eye out for a silver lining somewhere, though.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Whites brace for final blow in Zimbabwe

Things have gone downhill for white farmers in Zimbabwe since they lost the protection of the Lancaster Agreement in 1989. This loss began an affirmative action program of land redistribution in which white farmers had their land turned over to the state. The state then proceded to dole it out to well-connected black friends of the Mugabe regime.

With a staggering unemployment rate of 80%, a quarter of the population infected with HIV, a plummeting economy (GDP shrunk 7% last year), ubiquitous poverty (PPP of $2,300), and international disdain, it appeared that desperation might force Mugabe to stop pillaging the only productive residents he had left. As white farmers fled to a welcoming Mozambique, they hastily turned brush into an agricultural bounty. Zimbabwe tried to get them back as well as letting those who remained stick around.

But such overtures lasted only a few months. By June, the Zimbabwean government began forced 'purchases' of white-owned farmland at about a tenth of fair market value. Given a true inflation rate of over 1,000% (although officially it is said to be 267%), that 10% is cut down again by the same magnitude a year later. People who own real estate and the means of production suffer relatively little from rampant inflation, because as prices for labor and material increase so does the nominal value of the property and the price of the goods or services produced. The worst time to sell real assets is during an inflationary period, because the cash received quickly loses value. So Mugabe really ravaged the whites.

Imagine the government 'buying' your $200,000 house from you for $20,000. A year later, that $20,000 is really worth $2,000. Just like that you go from middle class to destitutely poor.

It's hard to see why any white farmers remain. Understandably a farmer does not want to leave the place he's lived for his entire life. He knows the terrain, the climate, his neighbors. Fleeing doesn't just require abandoning home, it also presents big economic hurdles, as Zimbabwe's economy as computed by its official exchange rate is only 11% of what it is if computed using purchasing power parity. Moving to the developed world essentially cuts his wealth down to a tenth of what it had been before he even starts 'rebuilding' elsewhere.

But southern Africa has become much worse since the end of its colonial days. Zimbabwe is poorer today than it was in 1980 when it gained independence following eight years of bloody civil war. Despite previously having been the breadbasket of Africa with the land and conditions that make an agronomist drool, and contemporarily having two-thirds of its workers employed in agriculture, the country is now a net importer of food. Whites, who make up less than 1% of Zimbabwe's population, have been the last refuge of productivity in the country, but they've now had to pay the price that market-dominant minorities so often do when political control falls into the hands of the majority.

Zimbabwe is about to deal the final blow to the whites it has plundered for decades:
A new law about to pass parliament will, in effect, give the regime power in the next 90 days to dispossess the last few hundred white farmers who still cling to their land.
A couple of white families are trying to appeal the eviction notices they've already received. If they lose, the door is open for Mugabe to take everything:
A constitutional amendment passed last year declared every acre of land that has ever been listed for seizure — about 6,000 white-owned farms in total — the property of the state. That move prevented the owners from having any recourse
to the courts.
The families hope to show that the amendment does not override their right to due process. A white investor wonders why what has already been taken by the rapacious government isn't enough:
After the hearing, Daniel Nel, 44, who was a government-approved South African investor, asked: "I am a white African, so why must I go?" He said: "We are operating on about 20 per cent of the land we used to have, but we still produce
many thousands of tonnes of crops, and do so with government loans. So why do they want us to go?"
Because the white population has about a 35 point average IQ advantage over the rest of Zimbabwe's population. That's a gap wider than the one between Ashkenazi Jews and African Americans stateside. Unfortunately, Zimbabwe's wider population simply cannot compete economically with the white elite. So taking from them is the natural 'solution'. Putatively done for the benefit of the unprivileged black population, the result is a contraction of the economy by a full 40% since just the turn of the century.

There is an ecumenical lesson here about how crucial it is for the numerical majority to also remain the economic majority. When those controlling the economy become a minority, the majority will be moved to take from them. This sobering fact should inform the developed world's immigration policies.

Although the White Man's Burden has become a phrase of derision, we can help Zimbabweans and people all across the sub-Saharan. We can encourage economic transparency and discourage corruption through incentivizing good behavior via international loans and aid, and more importantly, NGOs and foreign governmental agencies should, to the extent that they want to help, devote themselves to distributing nutritional supplements, especially iodine, to as many children as possible. Raising the continent's average IQ ten points will do more for it than any number of wealth transfers, vaccinations, and scholarships for natives to study internationally.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Terse tackiness

Move the center of gravity by being extreme (November 1, 2006)

One of the platitudes that irritates me the most is the one that goes something like "American politics are increasingly characterized by extremes as the middle has disappeared, yet the best way is always somewhere in the middle." I've heard the politician that grates my nerves the worst (Jack Danforth), use this on three separate occasions over the past month or so.

While such an airy statement is supposed to bring ideologues in from the extremes, rationally it should do the exact opposite. If the correct position is in effect an averaging of the total opinion, those on the extremes should be as radical/reactionary as possible.

Initially, you're far-left and I'm far-right. The moderate view is thus the right one. Responding to Danforth's advice, you shift to a moderate-left stance. I, on the other hand, in inebriated zeal, move even further right. So now the view somewhere between that of the moderate-right and far-right is the best one.

No wonder the GOP was in the minority while this guy was in charge.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Support Applebees and Dunkin' Donuts

An immigrant advocacy group in Chicago is calling for a nationwide boycott of Applebees restaurants and Dunkin' Donuts stores for the unthinkable crime of verifying the legality of those they employ:
A local group fighting for immigrant rights is calling for a boycott of two nationally known companies. Dunkin Donuts and Applebee's are accused of discriminating against immigrant workers whose names don't match their social security numbers.
It is imperative that we institute a nationwide database that matches SS numbers with names. The Department of Labor or the EEOC should be charged with ensuring that employers use the database and for levying heavy fines on employers who fraudulently hire illegal workers at the expense of legal ones.

Discrimination wasn't always such a dirty word. Back in the day when people could make value judgments, a man known for his discriminating taste was a man of keen insight. Acceptance has taken the place of perspicacious discrimination. Irrespective of ability or qualification, or even legality, the Good company will ask nothing of those it employs, especially if they are 'disadvantaged' (ie other than heterosexual white male).

Law enforcement is apparently synonymous with racism:
Some immigration rights groups at Federal Plaza say it is no mistake there has been an increase in effort to curtail immigration reform. They have planned a day of fasting in protest of the 'no match' letters, raids, and deportations.

"It looks to me like its racism," said Emma Lozano, Pueblo Sin Fronteras.
Diversity in a philosophically egalitarian system virtually guarantees endless charges of racism, bias, bigotry, and all the other ad hominem that is used to stifle any defense of merit. People are different. By extension, so are various groups of people. With 'disparate impact' codified legislatively (already having been made standard by judicial fiat in the late eighties) in the Civil Rights bill of the 1991, the effects of human diversity must consistently be remedied through the downward adjustment of standards (as race norming was also outlawed in the same bill) to the point that all people, no matter how lowly, meet the minimum requirements. IQ tests cannot be used because blacks and Hispanics fair worse on them than whites and Asians do. Criminal background checks are suspect because they disproportionately bar blacks from employment. Commissions must be set to find ways to ensure that women are equally represented in the upper echelons of math and science despite the paucity of women with IQs high enough to compete with the top men in these fields. Next up, legal residency status cannot be used as a method of employment screening as it discriminates against illegal residents!

The companies have no right to abide by the law:
Groups accuse several companies of the practice using 'no match' letters to immigrant workers who don't have valid social security numbers. They want the public to boycott businesses, including Applebee's and Dunkin Donuts. Neither company could be reached for comment.
What audacity. I will make a concerted effort to go to Applebees whenever I eat out from now on. When I have to pick up donuts in the morning, it'll be from Dunkin' Donuts.

Contact Applebees and Dunkin' Donuts and let them know that you appreciate what they've been doing. Corporations are influenced by the implications on profitability of the actions they take, not on principle. Before they cave and reach settlements and offer apologies to get the hustlers off their backs, let them know that their verifications of legal status are appreciated and that you will be patronizing them more often in thanks for it. Make it profitable for them to abide by the law and do what is in the US' best interest.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Transnistria wants Russia to annex it; lesson for home?

Ethnicity matters. Just ask Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin. Transnistria (often referred to by it's Moldovan acronym 'PMR') declared independence in 1990 but it hasn't been recognized as an independent nation internationally, and Moldova still claims it. The long, narrow strip of land whose shape is reminiscient of Chile's is wedged between Moldova to the west and the Ukraine to the east, and is ethnically split between Moldovans, Russians, and Ukranians, with a total population slightly more than half a million. Although it doesn't actually border Russia, a referendum earlier this month shows that Transnistria's government and its people want to move back under the auspices of the old Bear:
"Transnistria's integration into Russia will proceed in several phases, and it may take 5 to 7 years," said the breakaway Moldovan region's foreign minister, Valery Litskai, to Russia's Interfax news agency earlier this month. "Russian society is now ready to expand beyond the ... borders it has been forced into," he added. "The expansion process has begun."
The fairness of the vote is in question, as the result so overwhelmingly favored independence with the eventual aim of reunification with Russia:
An exit poll released by a Trans-Dniester political party at mid-day said that 96 percent of voters were supporting eventual union with Russia. It gave no margin of error for the polling, which was conducted in face-to-face interviews. Voters came early to cast their ballots as loudspeakers throughout the center of the main city, Tiraspol, blared Soviet-era music and reminders to vote.
Western agencies refused to monitor the referendum (needlessly antagonizing irrendentist elements in the old Soviet world), but it seems plausible that reunification would be desired. Moldova and Transnistria clashed in the early nineties, claiming 1,500 lives, and it was the Mother Country that stepped in to end the fighting (and retains a small troop contingent in the region). Russia's per capita wealth, buoyed in the last several years due to skyrocketing oil and natural gas prices, would open Transnistria up to better services and give it a little more economic clout. Moldova's PPP, at $1,800, makes it poorer than much of northern Africa. Russia, by contrast, enjoys a monetary standard of living six times as great, at $11,100. And a fifth 0f Transnistria's population are already Russian citizens.

The eastern half of the Ukraine is another candidate for eventual reunification with Russia, and Belarus underwent quasi-reunification in 1997. The Weekly Standard excerpt above argues that the referendum is a nefarious thing. Maybe from the perspective of 'benevolent hegemony' advocates, but I fail to see how the US is in any way threatened. Russia is a dying nation, that along with Japan is seeing its population decrease in absolute terms (with a total fertility rate of only 1.28--2.1 is generally considered to be the replenishment threshold). Over 80% of its export economy is based on extracting and bringing natural resources to market. The Islamic incursion into Russia's southwest gives it a stake in the same terror war we are putatively fighting. Russia and the US should, if anything, be natural allies. Russia's nuclear stockpile makes it a strong check against potential Chinese expansionism, and the growth of Chinese settlers in Siberia will probably strain relations between the two countries in the future.

There is a lesson for us here, applicable to the American Southwest. The Aztlan movement, with a goal of reuniting the border states with Mexico, could conceivably see a similar referendum taken up in California in the future. Mexican politicians openly call for Mexicans residing in the US to vote in the interests of the country of Mexico. One-fifth of all people born in Mexico live in the US today, mostly in the Southwest. New Mexico has (likely) recently become the first state with a larger Hispanic population than non-Hispanic white population. The stunningly prodigious immigrant protests earlier this year, where half a million goldens waved Mexican flags in opposition to the enforcement bill out of the House, reveal not an immigration wave, but a settlement wave.

It's difficult to talk about these things without inevitably being called all sorts of nasty names, but we accept the omerta on free speech at our own peril. Texas, after being progressively settled by Americans from the east, declared its independence from Mexico in 1836 and beat back Santa Anna to retain it. Immediately, Sam Houston petitioned for annexation by the US. A decade later, under President Polk, the Lone Star Republic finally had its wish granted and became the Lone Star State. Now we see the process in reversal and are mercifully enacting legislation to stop it.

Ethnic divisions threaten to pull Hawaii away from the Union, the Kurds in Turkey's southeast away from Istanbul, Chechnya away from Russia, Quebec from Canada, Iraq completely apart, and on and on. Ethnicity matters. People get along better with those are like themselves. How many dating services have you stumbled upon that employ the slogan "opposites attract"? It's all about compatibility. The relationship between individuals is a microcosm of the relationship within and between nations.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Immigration and diseases such as tuberculosis

The closest I've ever been to tuberculosis was when the disease took out one of my family members in the old Oregon Trail computer game. But as the US sheds its 'parochial' WASP culture, it is being enriched by the abundance offered up by other cultures:

State health officials say tuberculosis is under control in Arizona despite growing national concern over imported drug-resistant strains of a disease that hasn't flourished in the United States since the mid-1900s. ...

"It's just an airplane ride away," said Dr. Karen Lewis, tuberculosis-control officer for the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Do we even have that much cushion? More like it's a border-hop away:

Arizona reported 281 active tuberculosis infections. A total of 172 infected people were foreign-born, 68 percent from Mexico, where the tuberculosis incidence rate is 10 times higher than in Arizona.
In absolute terms the number of infections are quite small. Although tuberculosis is contagious, most people can cohabitat with a person who is infected and not contract the disease themselves.

But it's certainly worth noting that a disease we eradicated a century ago is now proving itself atavistic as over a million new arrivals inundate the US, coming primarily from a country where the rate of tuberculosis is ten times as high as it is stateside. And the media went into a hissy-fit over a single spinach fatality. About one in 300 E Coli sufferers die from the virulent infection. In contrast, without chemotherapy, a person who contracts tuberculosis has a 50/50 shot. Even with celerity of treatment, one-in-five die. I'm not sure what percentage of the population regularly consumes spinach (ascertain it here) or what percentage comes into daily contact with foreign-born Hispanics, but it appears that being around immigrants is worse for your health than eating raw spinach was during the height of the E coli scare.

The article linked to previously reads:

The majority of drug-resistant infections are brought to the U.S. by legal visitors, many of them unaware that they carry the deadliest strains.
I'd like to know how the doctor reached that conclusion. She's speaking in absolute terms (there are some 50 million visitors to the US each year, so this wouldn't be surprising), presumably, but I bet the rate of TB is higher among illegal vistors than legal ones. The former are obviously much harder to track, while the latter are more likely to have the means to insulate themselves from the disease and also treat it when it is contracted.

Relative to other regions of the world, TB isn't much of a problem in Europe, but in the Western Hemisphere, only one country, Canada, has a lower TB prevelancy than the US does. Haiti's rate is a full 90 times greater than the US' (and virtually all African and SE Asian countries are at least an order of magnitude worse than the US in terms of TB prevelancy). In Peru, it's over 60 times greater.

TB is as diverse as America:

Nationwide, there has been a spike in milder but lethal "multidrug-resistant" tuberculosis, which responds to more treatments but can cost up to $250,000 and
take several years to cure.
So mild it will kill you, but not before ringing you dry! Who's going to come up with the money to treat the 'undocumented' who carry the disease? This strain is more nefarious than the original, in my opinion. In any case, tuberculosis is clearly a consequence of foreigners arriving in the US, legal and illegal. It is an almost purely external threat:
In 2005, the most important risk factor associated with tuberculosis in Arizona and nationwide was birth outside the U.S., according to the state's Tuberculosis Surveillance Report, released last week.
Don't be afraid to bring up health in discussions you have with others over the topic of immigration. It's not just tuberculosis--other putatively historical diseases of the Oregon Trail era are making a comeback in North America: Syphilis, gonorrhea, and hepatitis (mostly from Asia) are all coming home to roost.

Our government is supposed to protect us from this kind of stuff. A merit immigration system would fancifully include health screenings (and part of the total score that determines whether or not an applicant can be a US resident would be derived from these screenings) as a way of shoring up our government's dereliction of duty.