Saturday, January 28, 2006

Landslide victory for Hamas

Democracy is not a panacea. In many parts of the world, it is better described as a poison:
The surprisingly strong victory of militant group Hamas in Palestinian legislative elections leaves the Palestinian Authority in the hands of a radical Islamist leadership deemed terrorists by Israel, the U.S. and Europe, further complicating the already tortuous Middle East peace process.
The exit polls that predicted Fatah would retain its majority were way off. Hamas now controls 76 of the 132 seats (58%). Fatah was cut down to only 43, although Abbas, a Fatah member, will remain the leader of the Palestinian Authority. Abbas has been outmuscled, unable to deliver on his promise to have Hamas disarm. That task has just been made exponentially more difficult.

Peace between these two disparate cultures has always struck me as a pipe dream. That view certainly meshes with Hamas' view of its Jewish neighbor with whom it will have to 'negotiate':
Other than confirming their refusal to acknowledge Israel's right to exist, they have yet to indicate the approach their government will take in foreign policy.
What's the chance that they'll be willing to agree to a dual-state compromise when one side refuses to grant the other one the right to exist? My guess is somewhere between zero and negative infinity. Newsmax shrewdly points out some highlights to Hamas' oath:
The Hamas "Martyr's Oath":

"Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious...The Movement is but one squadron that should be supported by more and more squadrons from this vast Arab and Islamic world, until the enemy is vanquished and Allah's victory is realized...

"The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: 'The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews. When the Jew will hide behind stones and trees, the stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him...'

"There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.

"The day The Palestinian Liberation Organization adopts Islam as its way of life, we will become its soldiers, and fuel for its fire that will burn the enemies...

"The Zionist invasion is a vicious invasion... It relies greatly in its infiltration and espionage operations on the secret organizations it gave rise to, such as the Freemasons, The Rotary and Lions clubs, and other sabotage groups.

"We should not forget to remind every Muslim that when the Jews conquered the Holy City in 1967, they stood on the threshold of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and proclaimed that 'Mohammed is dead, and his descendants are all women.'

"Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Muslim people. 'May the cowards never sleep.'"
We are better served by keeping democracy out of the hands of many countries. There are prerequisites for the political system to function in a way that's beneficial to human progression and security: A largely homogeneic culture and ethnicity, a PPP of at least $3,000 and preferrably over $6,000 (the West Bank and Gaza Strip combined have a depressing $1,100), at least a moderate average IQ (the correlation between democratic government and IQ has been found to be .54), and perhaps most importantly but most difficult to quantify, a culture that encourages debate, compromise, acceptance of defeat, dispute resolution through non-violent means, and nationalism rather than nepotism (none of which characterize Islamic society). The Palestinians fail dismally in all of these categories. Looking at the situation through this prism, it's not surprising that an illiberal terrorist organization has come to power in the Palestinian territory.

Thankfully the doctrine of spreading liberty, the azoth to all the world's woes, has not so inebriated the neocons that they celebrate this latest democratic triumph:
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said of the victory: "Hamas has a clear responsibility to understand that with democracy goes a rejection of violence."...

The Bush administration has sketched out how Hamas must change to be seen as legitimate: renounce terror, accept Israel's right to exist, endorse an eventual two-state solution, and lay down its arms.
The neocons are contradicting their belief that liberalism naturally follows the democratic process. Theoretically, the election results should be celebrated because the process worked (the election has been certified as fair by all international observers). But quixotic as the Bush administration may be, they retain enough pragmatism to realize that this successful process is antithetical to a successful outcome. Will it start to sink in that democracy in other areas of the Islamic world threaten the global economy and international security?

The Muslim Brotherhood controls around a fifth of the seats in Egypt. Prior to the US push for democracy, Mubarak's unpopular secular and pro-American government squelched the popular Islamic group. Now, as political freedoms increase in Egypt, the fiercely anti-Western Brotherhood is surging:
The Muslim Brotherhood was largely banned from Egyptian public life after taking
credit for a string of terrorist attacks inside Egypt. It was only allowed back after diplomatic pressure from the U.S., which sends Egypt billions of dollars in foreign aid each year.

The elections there last year were widely seen as corrupt and unfair -- Egyptian security forces arrested opposition candidates and beat their supporters -- but candidates linked to the Muslim Brotherhood nevertheless won a fifth of the seats in parliament.

Many outside observers say the party would almost certainly have won an outright majority in a truly free election.
Similarly Hezbollah is the leading opposition force in Lebanon. And in Iraq, the Shia majority, which has largely refused to compromise with their former antagonists, the minority Sunnis, is theocratic and likely to form amiable ties with hardliners in Iran.

Hamas might moderate once in power, assuming the EU and US wisely wield the economic stick over the Palestinian territory. The Palestinians are almost completely reliant on foreign aid (GDP is only $1.8 billion, while the territory receives an estimated $2 billion a year in aid) that if cut could lead to a backlash against the new Hamas government and force them to yield to Western demands. But that will only foment popular resentment against the new government (much like it did with Fatah) and lead to another extremist group taking power. It's a vicious circle.

If there is a silver lining here, it is that Israel may be prodded into hastening the construction of its enormously successful security fence, pulling out of undefendable settlements in the West Bank, and closing itself off to the Palestinian Authority with the excuse that it cannot possibly deal with a government that does not even recognize its right to exist:
Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday convened his top security officials to discuss the results. Late in the day, his office issued a statement saying: "The State of Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian administration if its members include an armed terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. In any case, Israel will continue to fight terrorism with a heavy hand, everywhere."
Oh, and it might be a seminal moment in America's realization that pro-US, pro-market dictatorships that repress radical elements in ways the West won't stomach are better than popularly elected, anti-Western terrorist organizations. Instead of pouring money down the sewer hole that is the Middle East, we should throw that money into alternative energy resource (and domestic fossil fuel production like drilling in ANWR) and drastically restrict immigration from the Middle East and illegal immigration in general with the construction of fortifications on the borders.

(International)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Semester begins

The last semester of my senior year has begun in tandem with a forty hour work week. Consequently, I won't be bloviating for a few months. But the blog's not dead--just in hibernation!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

'Really bad people' try to smuggle in across the Southern border

That the US borders remain open reveals the government's dereliction of duty when it comes to protecting American citizenry:
Court documents in a Brownsville, Texas drug-smuggling case cite a wiretapped telephone conversation by one of the smugglers who said that "Osama's people" are ready to be transported across the Mexican border into the U.S...

"During a Jan. 5, 2005, telephone conversation, [the smuggling suspect] described the men as 'Iraqis,' ages 25 to 33, who were willing to pay $8,000 for transportation past Border Patrol checkpoints in South Texas and into the U.S. interior.

"[The suspect] mentioned that eight of the men were coming to Progreso, northwest of Brownsville. He said they were 'dangerous' and 'really bad people.' They carried guns and made the smuggler that was helping them 'afraid.'"

Wiretaps managed to detect this coyote's concerns about his cargo. But it is unclear as to whether or not the illegals were identified or apprehended. Even if they were in this specific incident, that the smuggler used the word 'Osama' in a phone conversation is an anomaly. How many of these so-called OTMs are coming across undetected? Unbelievably, it is really anyone's guess. Even more shocking is the insouciance of ICE's dealing with them:
Detention and Removal Operations does not have enough detention beds to accommodate every OTM that is apprehended.

As a result of this, the majority of OTMs apprehended by the USBP are released into the interior of the United States with notices to appear before an immigration judge.

Most of these released OTMs fail to show up for their hearings and are not ultimately removed.
Hard to believe. I fear the morning we wake up to a news alert showing the aftermath of simultaneous terrorist attacks on a number of major US cities.

Meanwhile, more evidence that Mexico is a hostile parasite rather than a solid ally surfaces:
The Mexican military has little regard for the border as troops have entered the United States 216 times over nine years, according to a Department of Homeland Security document and a map of incursions.
Notice these invasions are not being made merely by mercenaries hired to aid in smuggling--this is the actual Mexican military breaching the border and engaging our BP agents:
One border agent speaking on condition of anonymity told the Bulletin: "We've had armed showdowns with the Mexican army. ... These aren't just ex-military guys. These are Mexican army officials assisting drug smugglers.''
The Mexican government benefits enormously from contraband (drugs, people, weapons, and otherwise) that's smuggled in. Mexico gets rid of its social problems by exporting them to us and gets compensated handomsely for doing so (remittances alone were $17 billion in 2004). Vicente Fox audaciously calls HR 4437 'shameful'--as if the House's protecting of the security and economic interests of Americans is somehow immoral.

Even the Minutemen didn't realize it was this bad:
"That number [of 216] is 20 times larger than even the Minuteman project organizers are aware of,'' said Jim Gilchrist, co-founder of the Minuteman Project, a civilian group concerned with border security. "But I'm not surprised at that number. There are significant drug and human cargo cartels involving Mexican military threatening Americans at the border. But our Congress has turned a blind eye to it because what the American people don't know won't bother them – that's how our representatives think.''
Notice the outcry when the Minutemen peacefully assembled along the US-Mexico border to call attention to lax border enforcement compared to the muted media response to hostile (keep in mind, they've fired on BP agents) incursions by armed forces from another country onto US territory. But Americans are starting to pay attention. They overwhelmingly support the construction of a physical barrier to halt the flow of illegals.

We need a wall. In the meantime, we need the National Guard to backup the Border Patrol and respond to any hostile fire by lighting the desert up.

(Immigration)

More on WalMart

This was written in response to a complaint about Walmart's use of TIFs and skimping on healthcare:

The gifting of land and tax incentives is ubiquitous. You would be hardpressed to find major operations of any corporation that have not been brought to a specific location by the auspices of the local government.

For example, Kansas City TIF (tax increment financing--having the city shoulder some of the company's cost to be recovered down the road in tax revenue generated by the business) expenditures were estimated to be around $40 million in 2004.

But remember that the lauded mom and pop shops pay little in federal income taxes. Tax on the first $50,000 of profits is only 15% and 25% up to $75,000. Walmart, on the other hand, is paying 39% on a fraction of its income and 35% on most of it.

Many mom and pops are not incorporated and are run as sole proprieterships or partnerships with income flowing through to the owners. In Kansas, up to $15,000 brings a rate of only 3.5%--it doubles to 6.45% over $30,000. Clearly big corporations like WalMart have to pay an effective rate of close to that 6.45%, while mom and pops might come out around four or five percent.

That being said, the accusation has the wrong target. The cities that offer bonds or grant land to WalMart are more culpable than the company is. But the city does it because WalMart, even after the municipality's upfront costs, brings an order of magnitude more in revenue and economic activity than the inefficient mom and pop's.

In regards to welfare, 27% of WalMart's employees are either on Medicaid or have SCHIP (for their children) compared to 23% for retailers nationwide. A moderate gap, but not a prodigious one. And again, WalMart deserves blame for taking advantage of corporate welfare policies as much as you or I do for accepting interest-free student loans when we're not struggling to make end's meet.

Meanwhile, Maryland is pointing both barrels at the Arkansas giant, a possible portent of things to come:
Speaking at the National Press Club, [AFL-CIO President] Sweeney said the organization is launching similar health care campaigns in more than 30 states. Maryland's law — approved by the General Assembly over Republican Gov. Robert
Ehrlich's veto objection — is the first in the nation to require large employers, those with at least 10,000 workers, to spend at least 8 percent of their payroll on worker health care. Wal-Mart is the only company in Maryland now affected by the law.
This is antithetical to the idea of HSAs or hiring healthier people (and by extension encouraging people to take better care of themselves for occupational reasons, among others).

I think it inevitable that companies will continue to move against skyrocketing healthcare costs by terminating employees who engage in deleterious behaviors like smoking and throwing rigorous activites into job descriptions to give a leg up to fit applicants. Data mining and even DNA sequencing will provide companies with a wealth of information about prospective and current employees, making it easier for them to pick assets and avoid liabilities. Legislation, driven by union groups, will attempt to resist these trends, of course.

An aside: Labor leaders used to stand against unskilled immigration. Now they've become so tied to the Democratic Party that they can't, or won't. In the story linked to above, the head the country's largest union federation could be excoriating unfettered underclass immigration:
"What are we going to do about the destruction of good jobs in our country, the jobs that for the past half-century helped us create the largest middle class, the most dynamic economy and the strongest democracy in the history of the world?" Sweeney said in announcing the union campaign.

The U.S. poverty rate was up in 2004, Sweeney said, the first time on record that household incomes failed to increase for five years in a row.

America has decided to compete in the global marketplace by degrading work and workers through privatization and de-unionization, rather than competing through innovation and ingenuity, said Sweeney, head of the nation's largest association of labor unions.
But he's targeting WalMart instead. Bringing in people that make less than middle class natives is going to, quite obviously, reduce the size of the middle class. Foreign-born households bring in $6,000 less than native ones, and the wealth gap is greater than that, since foreign-born households tend to be larger. And the corollary to that is the fact that the poverty rate has climbed to 12.7%. Finally, the indefatigable search for ever-cheaper labor inhibits innovations that would be borne out of having to deal with higher labor costs.

It takes only a rudimentary understanding of basic economics to realize that a larger labor supply depresses wages and reduces labor's bargaining power. Instituting a merit immigration system to bring in endowed populations concentrated in high value industries would do more for native workers than any amount of wage and perquisite lobbying ever will.

(US)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Culture

Intolerant leftists attack Minuteman founder (October 7, 2006)

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.


Diversity is more better (August 23, 2006)

While the US may represent the educational doldroms of the developed world, at least our textbooks are the most ethnically and culturally progressive:

To facilitate state approval and school-district purchasing of their texts, publishers set numerical targets for showing minorities and the disabled. In recent years, the quest to meet these targets has ratcheted to a higher level as technological improvements enable publishers to customize books for individual states, and as photos and illustrations take up more textbook space.

Although publishers describe these numbers as guidelines, many people familiar with educational publishing say they are strict quotas that must be adhered to. Moreover, in filling these quotas, publishers screen out a wide range of images they deem stereotypical, from Asian math students to barefoot African children.
So progressive, in fact, that we leave reality in the dust. Let the scamps in India and China waste their time studying the real world with all its inegalitarian nonsense. We'll convey to our children a world that transcends such ugliness. Nevermind the fact that Asian American students average the highest score of any racial group on the NAEP math tests, a few points higher even than their white neighbors, who are too busy keeping down the brown and black man to subjugate the Oriental effectively. Nevermind that the African poverty rate, at 44%, is significantly higher than that of any other continent in the world. The most important thing we can impute to our children is a vision of the world as it should be, irrespective of reality.

Urban giants largely set the standards for the rest of the country, as they have the greatest bulk buying power. Textbook publishers set quotas to insure sales to these school districts:
Under McGraw-Hill Co. guidelines for elementary and high school texts, 40% of people depicted should be white, 30% Hispanic, 20% African-American, 7% Asian and 3% Native American, says Thomas Stanton, a spokesman for the publisher. Of the total, 5% should be disabled, and 5% over the age of 55. Elementary texts from the Harcourt Education unit of Reed Elsevier PLC should show about 50% whites, 22% African-Americans, 20% Hispanics, 5% Asians and 5% Native Americans.
So McGraw represents blacks at 155% of reality, Hispanics at 243%, Native Americans at 341%, and Asians at about 150%. All this made possible by the shafting of non-Hispanic whites, who are shown at a rate of 59% of reality. Although no official religious quotas exist, textbook companies strive to represent all faiths as equally as possible. That is, numerical parity, not proportional representation mirroring reality. Your kids' textbooks are showing them as many Buddhists (about one-third of one percent of Americans) as Christians (about 85% of Americans). Still, it is clear that Mahayana believers are being maliciously underserved. You can bet McGraw will be hearing from me.

Of course, the same argument can be made for McGraw that is made for the megabanks, megaretailers, and politicians that increasingly cater to Hispanics--they are anticipating the future demographic composition of America. Nationally, the average citizen suffers from increased crime and disease, lower educational attainment, greater wealth disparities, more tax revenue diverted to providing goods and services to the destitute, higher poverty rates, cultural balkinzation, and so on, but for the individual entities the benefit is in tapping into this market. McGraw's textbooks are provided for school kids, where whites represent less than 60% of the population. For children under five, they represent about half. McGraw is positioning itself for the future.

So much for assimilation:
"It's a real benefit for minority children to be able to see their own ethnicity in a position of responsibility or in a historical perspective," says Cheryl McConaughey, assistant superintendent for Lamont school district in California, which is 92% Hispanic. "I remember the delight with which my seventh-grade students encountered pictures of Roberto Clemente and César Chávez in their textbooks." Ms. McConaughey says percentage targets for minority images "are
needed to assure diversity. If we don't quantify them, they get lost."
I suspect her memories are bunk, as my recollection of my junior high days is fresh enough to inform me that seventh graders rarely experience delight from pictures in textbooks. Poor Hispanic students (96% of Lamont students are at or below the poverty line) are even less likely to become elated by classroom material. But I do remember my excitement when I learned that Nathaneal Greene and Henry Knox were both autodidacts and that this played a major part in forming their strong friendship. Problem is, I learned that this week while reading on my own. Nevermind the daring Knox displayed that allowed for the colonists to take the Dorchester Heights. In thirteen years of k-12 public education I never studied a single US military battle. How sick is it that I know more about Harriet Tubman and Dred Scott than John Adams or John Jay?

Graphics that might actually pull students away from their IPods for a moment are deemed too 'offensive' to print:
In its 2005 adoption of history and social science texts, for instance, California required compact disc publisher Decision Development Corp. to revise or delete "stereotypical and demeaning" caricatures in magazines submitted as supplementary material. One drawing it found offensive illustrated the 18th
century European rivalry for the Indian subcontinent by depicting an Indian in a loincloth and turban tugged in opposite directions by arms wearing the English and French flags.
I'm reminded of my favorite Simpsons episode where Principal Skinners orders Groundskeeper Willie to remove all colored chalk from the classrooms in response to two separate independent thoughts by students on the same day that gave the teachers great alarm. The words of Soren Kierkegaard also come to mind: "People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use."

Note the consequences multiculturalism wreaks on those who exercise free thought. Theo Van Gogh was murdered for it. Denmark was boycotted and European embassies in the Middle East were burned for it. Professor Andrew Fraser was suspended for it. George Allen's presidential aspirations have been seriously damaged because of it. Paul Brelien, editor of the courageous Brussels Journal, was forced to remove an op/ed because the piece called for the legalization of self-defense items after a Belgian teenager was murdered by two central Asians. Lawrence Summers was excoriated and eventually fled from Harvard because of it. Perspicacious geniuses must produce anonymously in fear of it. Arthur Brooks gets global recognition for an idea that was filched from Steve Sailer (Brooks called it the "Fertility Gap", Steve called it the "Baby Gap") because of it. Brooks made the WSJ op/ed pages because he left immigration and race out of the equation, even though by doing so he diluted the explanatory power of fertility and inanely predicted that California will swing to the right in the coming years. The list goes on and on.

McGraw, in the business of making money, not of deciphering reality, has taken measures to prevent itself from falling into the bottomless pit that is free thought:
To forestall such trouble, McGraw-Hill's 2004 guidelines for artwork and photos say Asians should not be portrayed "with glasses, bowl-shaped haircuts, or as intellectuals"; African-Americans should be shown "in positions of power, not just in service industries"; elderly people should be "active members of society," not "infirm"; and disabled people should be shown as independent rather than receiving help.
Orwellian. Because Asians are smart, they must not be portrayed as intelligent. Because blacks have little power in the corporate world, they must be portrayed as having lots of it. I'll add a few more: Because interracial crime in the US overwhelmingly involves a black perpetrator and a white victim, whites must be portrayed as perpetrators and blacks as victims. Because Hispanic immigrants are overrepresented in certain service industries like landscaping and meat packing, they mustn't be portrayed as landscapers or meat packers. Because African Americans dominate the sports world, they must be portrayed as unathletic dweebs.

Further, it is not who people are that matters, but who they appear to be in the eyes of others:
Marjorie Cotera, studio manager for Texas photographer Robert Daemmrich, who
takes photos for textbooks, says "facial features" of some Asians resemble Native Indian [with epicanthic eyefolds and other similar features from a shared lineage] tribes from Mexico. "There are some times where you can flip-flop." On the other hand, Ms. Cotera says, blond and blue-eyed Hispanics "might not work" toward that group's quota because their background would not be apparent to readers.
What messages does this send to American children? Why do we subject our future to this garbage?

Historian David McCullough describes an obscure eighteenth century British rebel thus: "Seeing things as they were, and not as he would wish them to be, was one of [Washington's] greatest strengths."

Who was this George Washington? Didn't he work for Bessie Coleman?


Multicult success in Britain (July 27, 2006)

Brits get to experience the joys of expanding their cultural horizons:

Ali is one of an estimated 3 million women and girls who suffer female genital mutilation (FGM) each year.

The practice, also known as female circumcision, involves removing part or all of a girl's clitoris or labia. It is often carried out by an older woman with no medical training, using anything from scissors to tin can lids and pieces of glass. ...

The centuries-old practice, prevalent mostly in Africa, is now also being brought by immigrants to Western countries, like Britain.

"FGM is a huge problem in the UK," said Ensharah Ahmed, community development officer at the UK-based Foundation for Women's Health, Research and Development
(Forward).

Forward estimates there are around 279,500 women living in Britain who have undergone FGM, with another 22,000 girls under 16 in danger of joining them.
The Occident is more favorably disposed to women's rights than the rest of the world. Women's advocacy groups should devote energy to preserving Western cultural norms. The easiest way to do so is to restrict immigration from places where cultural values are antithetical to those in the West. Include questions pertaining to cultural beliefs as part of an immigration application based on other merit-based attributes like years of schooling, IQ, means, occupation, age, health, etc.

The very stance such women's groups hold on the putatively natural rights of women are culturally conditioned:
Muslim women do not think they are conditioned to accept second-class status or view themselves as oppressed, according to a survey released Tuesday by The Gallup Organization. ...

When asked what they resented most about their own societies, a majority of Muslim women polled said that a lack of unity among Muslim nations, violent extremism, and political and economic corruption were their main concerns. The hijab, or head scarf, and burqa, the garment covering face and body, seen by some Westerners as tools of oppression, were never mentioned in the women's answers to the open-ended questions, the poll analysts said.
Multiculturalism is essentially the forfeiting of one's own values (and the value judgments that necessarily accompany them) and allowing other cultural values fill the vacuum. For it to be attractive, one's own cultural values must be perceived as lacking or inferior. What, then, is it about Western culture that is detestable enough to justify accepting the deviancy of foreign cultural values? That mutilating the genitals of seven year-old girls is unacceptable?

Cultural progressives need to realize that multiculturalism undermines their ultimate goals. Hispanics and Muslims are not going to tip the balances in favor of same-sex marriage or abortion-on-demand.


Team Mexico! (July 07, 2006)

What World Cup match drew the greatest number of tv viewers in the US thus far (prior to the quarter-finals)? A game involving England's conservative boy-toy David Beckham, who would later be brought to tears? The trials of the putatively invincible Brazilians? A game the US team was part of?

Nope. Try Argentina against Mexico. Since none of the networks want much to do with soccer (yet), the Catholic Church should team up with MLS. On the political side, the new bedfellows can push for open borders. On the operational side, they can yank the elucidating Dave O'Brien and replace him with a taciturn Scot who will let the game drone on with minimal commentary, close-ups, or cut shots.

Or maybe the play-by-play will need to speak fluent Spanish. Just like traditional Mass, people outside soccer's core won't know what's going on!


The World what? (June 23, 2006)

As a strident nationalist, I'm happy with the US' dismal performance in the World Cup. No annoying celebratory images being circulated all over the media, no mawkish SI articles, no enthusiastic predictions of soccer's ascent in the states, none of that. Happily give Ghana the glory--they want it and we do not.

Why don't we want it? Soccer is simply too drab for 21st Century America.

The game doesn't lend itself to copious stat keeping. Games played? Goals? Assists? What else is there to keep track of? When goals are all you have to go on, and the top scorer in MLS puts in a whopping 17 goals for the entire season, the idea of a Fantasy Soccer League seems pretty lame. Player comparisons are grossly qualitative, so the market for analysis is much less dynamic and sophisticated than for MLB or the NFL.

SportsCenter highlights include the two goals Ghana scores and the single goal the US put in. That's about it. The other eighty-nine minutes and thirty seconds are soporific. Leave the tube for half an hour and most of the time you've missed absolutely nothing. The ball's still rolling around somewhere near midfield, and the score's still knotted at goose eggs.

Climatic momentum shifts are only perceivable when goals are scored. There are no big turnovers or fourth down conversions. Possession switches constantly, but unlike basketball, nothing ever comes of it. And the endless stretches of Kent Brockman moaning "Halfback passes to the center. Back to the wing. Back to the center. Center holds it. Holds it (rolls eyes). Holds it ..." are, on average, interrupted by goals less than three times per game.

If you're a checkered-ball booster, however, be patient. The winds are blowing in your direction. The 2006 World Cup will help prolong soccer's diminutive status in the US, although immigration trends continue to steadily bolster its prescence here:
The US focuses on advertising globally since the World Cup typically evokes little excitement domestically, according to ICOM. Only one market segment in the United States veers drastically from that trend—the Hispanic community.

Six Latin American teams have spots in the tournament this year (Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Paraguay, Costa Rica, and Mexico), as does Spain. The World Cup brings out an intense following and huge fan base among 42 million Hispanics in the United States. Ironically, four out of the six Spanish-speaking World Cup countries have fewer people than that.
I'll have to start including the dilution of good sport in my litany of complaints against our immigration inanity.


Multiculturalism amok in Michigan (May 26, 2006)

The move within the Michigan Department of Education to divorce the synonymity of the terms "American" and "US citizen" has apparently been snuffed out by Michigan's Superintendent of Public Instruction:
The Michigan Department of Education is not taking the word "America" or "American" out of the classrooms of Michigan ("Keep 'America' in Michigan schools," May 24, by Michael Warren). No such edict has gone out, or will go out, to school teachers across Michigan.

We are not seeking to do away with the terms "America" or "American" from classroom instruction. It's not going to happen. I consider myself an American. We live in the United States of America. We are citizens of the United States of America. But the vernacular is that we're Americans.
A decade ago, the words "America" and "American" were removed from the MEAP (Michigan's state assessment testing similar to the NAEP on the national level). They were expunged due to ethnocentric undertones and the exclusionary effect they had on Latin American and Canadian students. All are North Americans, yada yada. This is the standard politically correct nonsense that has become endemic in America's (!) governmental public school system. It's an annoying aspect of current demographic trends, although it is not in the class of the most cogent arguments against the largescale importation of Hispanic and South Asian underclasses.

What is interesting, though, is how the propositionalists polemicize against the removal of terms central to the history of the United States ("The unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America...") by appealing to seemingly universalistic Creedal values that in actuality are threatened by their own universal application:
After all, America isn't just a name, it's a philosophy. It represents a set of ideas -- such as freedom, free enterprise and checks and balances on government -- that have been instrumental in improving the lives of hundreds of millions of people. That's why it's called the American dream and the American way of life.

We've had a terrible time trying to install these ideas across the world, especially in the Middle East. And for the last forty years with an immigration system in place that pulls from outside Europe, we're slowly coming to realize how these ideas do not even have ecumenical appeal--or feasibility--within our own porous borders. Freedom entails not only the freedom of action, but also the freedom from the aggression of others (be it physical, cultural, psychological, economic, or whatever).

A multicultural society is, true to it's very definition, marked by disparity: Economic, cultural, intellectual, social, and on. Virtually all groups (with "guilty" whites as a glaring exception), be they defined by race or ethnicity, geographical location, political ideology, economics, culture, or social status, have a desire to propogate their beliefs and mold society in a way presumed to be most ideal. More groups mean less cohesion. As groups struggle against one another, they inherently become more partisan. An "us against them" mentality develops, and progress beneficial to society at large is hindered. An optimal society is a naturally egalitarian one--inegalitarianism or worse, forced egalitarianism, are unstable and tenuous.

Moving beyond the theoretical, the actual composition of the new groups makes the situation even worse. The demographic shift isn't being fueled by the entry of Ashkenazism and East Asians. Hispanics are, as a group, less successful than whites by almost every measure--they make less, use more welfare, are more likely to commit crimes and end up in jail, have lower IQs and educational attainment, higher unemployment, lower levels of wealth accumulation, etc. Of course they are going to be resentful. Short of perpetual wealth redistribution, genetic engineering, or the instituting of a merit immigration system coupled with deportation, this is always going to be the case.

But one measure where they are winning, and winning big, is in the arena of numerical growth (eleven times faster than whites). La Raza and Mecha are getting stronger. They are going to push for things harmful to the (shrinking) white majority (as well as to Asians). They are going to vie with blacks for the right to permanent handouts, and both will push for more affirmative action. They'll favor more wealth redistribution, not less. They'll support bigger government to make it happen. They'll see free enterprise as the tool of the exploitative gringo and back authoritarian pols trying to kill it (all these things are happening in South America right now).

Why do our leaders insist upon assaulting these uniquely American ideas through the destruction of a European middle class majority that has allowed these same ideas to thrive?


Jews stuck in a fiction-absolute? (May 16, 2006)

The immigration reform movement, having undergone rigorous intellectual development, still lacks an eloquent, alacritous, high-profile public mouthpiece. The leading voices in the House and Senate, Tancredo and Sessions, both come across kindly but are not articulate or telegenic enough to steal the debate and imprint themselves in the American psyche (JD Hayworth comes closest). Even with sustained public opposition to more immigration (legal and illegal), a sovereignty champion impervious to being pigeon-holed as a "nativist" from a "small but vocal" extremist group isn't forthcoming.

Being business-school educated, I have to predict that one is going to emerge soon, perhaps in the '06 election cycle if the House continues to stand firm. The market demands it. The person need not be a pol, but his profile will have to expand beyond that of an activist, and certainly it would be beneficial in the realm of public opinion if the leader had strong personal claim to understanding immigration.

Where are the Jews? The quintessential immigrant group, notoriously well-spoken, and... frustratingly open-bordered. From this Gentile's perspective, the Jewish proclivity for open borders is an illustration of Tom Wolfe's fiction-absolute in action (hear him interviewed here):
The human beast's belief in his own fiction-absolute accounts for one of the most puzzling and in many cases irrational phenomena of our time. I first noticed it when I read a book by Samuel Lubell called The Future of American Politics. Lubell was a political scientist and sociologist who had been as surprised as everybody else by the outcome of the 1948 presidential election. That was the election in which the Democratic incumbent, Harry Truman, was a president whose approval rating had fallen as low as 23 percent. Every survey, every poll, every pundit's prediction foresaw him buried by the Republican nominee, Thomas E. Dewey.

Instead, Truman triumphed in one of the most startling upsets in American political history. Lubell was determined to find out why, and so he set out across the country. When he reached a small Midwestern town that had been founded before the turn of the 19th century by Germans, he was puzzled to learn that the town had gone solidly for Dewey despite the fact that by every rational turn of logic, every economic motivation, Truman would have been a more logical choice.

By and by Lubell discovered that the town was still predominantly German. Nobody had ever gotten over the fact that in 1917, a Democrat, President Woodrow Wilson, had declared war on Germany. That had set off a wave of anti-German feeling, anti-German prejudice, and, in the eyes of the people of this town, besmirched their honor as people of German descent. And now, two World Wars later, their minds were fixed on the year 1917, because like all other human beasts, they tended to champion in an irrational way their own set of values, their own fiction absolute.

Historically, immigration restriction and nationalism have been bad for Jews. From Chrysostom's homilies to Augustine's wandering example to Luther's corrupting hostiles to the world's resisting of refugees in WWII to the hostility the state of Israeli--Jewish nationalization and sovereignty--breeds, such ideas haven't been particularly propitious.

But today a nationalistic, sovereign US is good for American Jews. According to the ADL, 44% of first generation Hispanics hold "hardcore anti-Semitic beliefs", compared to just 12% of whites. The growth of Islam among the black underclass will continue as unskilled immigration continues to harm black's prospects. As immigration keeps squeezing the middle class and augmenting the wealth gap, affluent Jews (along with their natural allies--indistinguishable wealthy whites) will become increasingly salient targets for robin hood policies. White Protestants are a bulwark of American support for Israel. Proportionally shrinking them will correspondingly shift US public opinion against Israel.

Yet Jewish media types are overwhelmingly in favor of self-immolation by immigration (John Podhoretz, Tamar Jacoby, Al Franken, Bill Kristol, just to name a few). And those on the restrictionist side hide the fact that they are Jewish. Talkshow host Michael Savage, for example, is perhaps the most wide-reaching paleoconservative voice today (coining the phrase "Borders, Language, Culture"), but who knew he was Jewish? He plays himself off as a theist with Christian tendencies.

The danger for nationalistic American Jews lies in Jewish success. Struggling groups are expected and encouraged to coalesce into ethnic/racial blocs that compensate for individual disadvantages. Powerful groups are not--when they do, they become irrational racists, suggested even to be ethnic cleansers (see Spielberg's portrayal of the tough Israeli hitman in Munich as a South African (apartheid!), blonde-hair blue-eyed (Arayan!) Jew). Calling Al Sharpton a racist is to attack a black leader and thereby commit an act of racism. To attack David Duke, however, is to attack racism.

The way for Jews to circumvent this seemingly inexorable charge of racism is to adopt an ostensibly non-racial/ethnic nationalism. The citizenism tent has room for Americans across the cultural and economic spectrum who are hurt by unskilled immigration (the depression of wages, economic and educational disparity, communication barriers, increased crime, unaffordable housing, strain on the welfare system, pollution, ad infinitum effects almost everyone in one way or another).


The Crucible in Durham (April 11, 2006)

Forget Arthur Miller's Crucible book controversy--we have the real thing:

Results of DNA tests released Monday do not link members of Duke University's lacrosse team to an exotic dancer who reported she was sexually assaulted by three players at an alcohol-fueled party last month.
Supposedly she was gang-raped, choked, and sodomized. Yet no semen, saliva, or even hair remained on the courtesan. The accuser's story has been inconsistent, her past checkered:

Meanwhile, a second dancer's statements cast further doubts on the woman's claims...

In 2002, she was working at a topless club in Durham, when she stole a cab driver's car keys while giving him a lap dance, according to a police report. When the driver went to the bathroom, she drove off in the cab and led police on a lengthy car chase. In the process, she smashed into a patrol car and attempted to drive through a fence, but was eventually arrested after her car got a flat tire. She tested at 0.19, more than twice the alcohol limit.

My prediction: Our Betty got inebriated and played catatonic out of fear of consequences that might arise. The DA, who is up for reelection against two more qualified candidates. That is, Nafing, who is a white man, is running against a harpy of a woman and a black man. Durham is 44% black. The opportunity to burn a gang of white yuppies at the stake on behalf of a black single-mother was a godsend. Tom Wolfe wins again.

The fatal flaw was that it all happened too quickly. The severity of the charge would have been sufficient for the Nafing to get reelected in May. But the credulous media made the story page one in its indefatigable search to prove white male oppression.

Unlike Miller's tale, this one is true.


Ruth Bader Ginsburg (March 18 2006)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Paradise Lost? (January 20 2006)

Hopefully John Milton is too engrossed in the paradise he speculated about four and a half centuries ago to take notice of this:
Paradise Now won the Best Foreign Language Flm category in today's 63rd Annual Golden Globe Awards. The film was directed by Palestinian Hany Abu-Assad from a screenplay he cowrote with Bero Beyer, the film's Dutch producer, both of whom ascended to the podium to collect the award. Paradise Now chronicles the 48 hours before two best friends in Nablus are sent on a suicide mission to Israel. The New York Times said it “accomplishes the tricky feat of humanising the suicide bombers depicted in the film”. The paper dubbed the film "a taut, ingeniously calculated thriller".
The cries that Western military incursions into the Middle East and Central Asia have created more terrorists than they've killed are relentless. And they may be true. It's tough to gauge. A new Manhattan Project to create viable alternative energy sources with the goal of weaning ourselves of foreign oil would be a better investment than the trillion or so that will ultimately be poured into Iraq. Petroleum comrpises 90% of Saudi Arabia's exports--obselesce oil and we send the Islamic world back into the seventh century where it no longer has the means to blow up our buildings and citizenry. Energy is inextricably related to national security, because so much of oil revenue ends up in the hands of terror groups.

But the humanization of Palestinian suicide bombers is easier to reach a conclusion on. It's certainly creating more terrorists than it's destroying.

Seventy percent of Americans believe that Hollywood is out of touch with the American mainstream and does not share its values, while a diminutive 13% believe Tinsel Town does. I do not watch movies at the theater or otherwise, so firsthand opinion isn't something I can provide. But awarding films that sypathize with murderers from one of the most vile and failed populations on the planet--the Palestinians--in tandem with excessive adulation over films reducing the rough-riding, frontier-taming eidolons of the West to insecure effetes nauseatingly light in the loafers, topped of by tales of transvestites (I wonder what the jihadists think about these themes!) makes it clear why so much of the American public reviles the US film industry.

Paradise Lost?

Hopefully John Milton is too engrossed in the paradise he speculated about four and a half centuries ago to take notice of this:
Paradise Now won the Best Foreign Language Flm category in today's 63rd Annual Golden Globe Awards. The film was directed by Palestinian Hany Abu-Assad from a screenplay he cowrote with Bero Beyer, the film's Dutch producer, both of whom ascended to the podium to collect the award. Paradise Now chronicles the 48 hours before two best friends in Nablus are sent on a suicide mission to Israel. The New York Times said it “accomplishes the tricky feat of humanising the suicide bombers depicted in the film”. The paper dubbed the film "a taut, ingeniously calculated thriller".
The cries that Western military incursions into the Middle East and Central Asia have created more terrorists than they've killed are relentless. And they may be true. It's tough to gauge. A new Manhattan Project to create viable alternative energy sources with the goal of weaning ourselves of foreign oil would be a better investment than the trillion or so that will ultimately be poured into Iraq. Petroleum comrpises 90% of Saudi Arabia's exports--obselesce oil and we send the Islamic world back into the seventh century where it no longer has the means to blow up our buildings and citizenry. Energy is inextricably related to national security, because so much of oil revenue ends up in the hands of terror groups.

But the humanization of Palestinian suicide bombers is easier to reach a conclusion on. It's certainly creating more terrorists than it's destroying.

Seventy percent of Americans believe that Hollywood is out of touch with the American mainstream and does not share its values, while a diminutive 13% believe Tinsel Town does. I do not watch movies at the theater or otherwise, so firsthand opinion isn't something I can provide. But awarding films that sypathize with murderers from one of the most vile and failed populations on the planet--the Palestinians--in tandem with excessive adulation over films reducing the rough-riding, frontier-taming eidolons of the West to insecure effetes nauseatingly light in the loafers, topped of by tales of transvestites (I wonder what the jihadists think about these themes!) makes it clear why so much of the American public reviles the US film industry.

(Culture)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Those giving less want you to give more

Do stingy people compensate for their tightfistedness by didactically demanding others give more? Apparently those who give more on their own are the people who want the government to take less:

Consider two groups in the population: One that believes the government should improve living standards for the poor, and the other which believes that people should take care of themselves, without government help. Those protesting the president's current budget [cuts] would label the first group as "compassionate" and the second group as "uncompassionate." But how do they compare in their private giving behaviors? According to the General Social Survey in 2002, the proponents of government spending are six percentage points less likely to give money to charity each year than the opponents, and a third less likely to give money away each month.
The op/ed's author, Arthur Brooks, anticipates the protestation that money alone is not an accurate barometer of generosity. Indeed that is a legitimate point--the US was criticized for being parsimonious following the Asian Tsunami, yet the US took the lead early on in coordinating the relief effort (along with help from Japan and Australia). The logistics involved and the use of the US military was a gracious act of magnanimity that cost the US tremendously but was not counted towards the total tally (even without this expense being factored in the US still came out on top, almost doubling the aid of the next closest donor, Australia).

Brooks then uses blood donation as a rough control for non-cash generosity:
So let's look at a less problematic type of charity: blood donations. We have blood in more or less equal abundance, you can't give it to your church, and a pint of blood is not even tax deductible. These gifts exemplify unselfish compassion -- they benefit anonymous recipients, including the poorest in society and victims of disasters. So who exhibits greater compassion by donating more blood?

Once again, it is those opposed to government aid. These supposedly uncompassionate folks are 25% of the population, but donate more than 30% of the blood each year. Meanwhile, supporters of government spending to the poor are 28% of the population, but donate just 20% of the blood. If the whole population gave blood like opponents of social spending do, the blood supply would increase by more than a quarter. But if everyone in the population gave like government aid advocates, the supply would drop by about 30%.
Brooks' presentation of the numbers actually leaves one with a better impression of the 'compassionate' types than is deserved. Breaking the numbers down comparitively, the 'uncompassionate' folks give about 70% more than the putatively bleeding heart types.

These findings are not surprising. It would be interesting to see the rates of generosity correlated with religiosity. My guess is that a positive correlation exists. There is a woman at a facility where I do grunt work that is a dull and unwed mother of several who lives in the urban core and makes no more than $10 an hour. She tithes nonetheless. I find this extraordinarily admirable and virtually impossible without the 'dogmatic' command that Christians do so.

Those who despise religion (and Christianity in particular) for being dogmatic, paternalistic, absolutist, and so forth are generally not interested in the pragmatic benefits it bestows. They see it as an ideological roadblock standing in the way of socially liberal policies like same-sex marriage, drug legalization, and abortion-on-demand (I do believe religion gets in the way of potentially beneficial progressive causes like euthanasia as well as some views on the empirical right like serious immigration reform). Note the disdain in the non-sports entertainment world for Christianity. Yet the most selfless and indefatigable celebrity who does so much more than pay empty lip service to helping the poor and taxing the rich while enjoying a plush mansion in Bel Air--Bono--points to his faith as a reason for his noble (if quixotic) efforts. Religion can have a tremendously positive influence on people, especially the less endowed who have a more difficult time thinking critically and therefore need 'paternalistic' guidance.

Blacks and Hispanics in the Congregationalist, Baptist South, for example, are among the least criminally prone in the country (see map graphic) compared to blacks and Hispanics, respectively, in other parts of the US. These groups struggle more than whites and Asians and are, on average, less cognitively endowed. Consequently, they are going to be more likely to uncritically internalize what's presented to them. Not surprisingly, going to service with mama in Biloxi on Sunday morning does a kid more good than staying out all night in Brooklyn living the 50-Cent lifestyle.

Tragically, this encouraging information about our disadvantaged minorities is muted by the egalitarian myth. Instead of comparing blacks in Georgia to blacks in Delaware and whites in Georgia to whites in Delaware, the states are always compared in their demographic entirety. Thus, the South always looks bad because it has more blacks than any other area of the country. Even though blacks in the South are better behaved than blacks in other regions of America, their sheer numbers overwhelm this and pull the state down (keep in mind that blacks commit between seven and nine times--depending on the type of crime in question--as much crime as whites do). On a global scale this same kind of flawed comparison leads to condemnation of religiosity in the US as compared to other developed nations that are less spiritual, when the obvious cause is not due to ideological differences but instead to ethnic ones. I get so frustrated by people's obsession over what you believe at the expense of the equally pertinent, if not more so, question of who you are.

It would also be interesting to see how people compare based on party affiliation. Recent data was spun to show that red states are more generous, but after adjusting for a methodology that skewed generosity in favor of impoverished states, I could not detect any meaningful relationship between rates of charity and political preference. Presumably Republicans give more due to the simple fact that they make more. And certainly they are more likely to be in Brooks' 'uncompassionate' category than Dems are. Still, it's hardly definitive.

If nothing else, be weary of those who lecture you on how taxes should be higher to fund more social programs. It's a free country--if you want to invest your discretionary income in that way, more power to you. But maybe you should hop out of that Mercedes and into the free market loving business owner's Corolla (yeah, he could definitely afford twenty of your Mercedes but he chooses not to). That way you'll have more money leftover to give (ask him if you don't believe me)!

(Politics and Religion)

Monday, January 16, 2006

John Stossel supports school choice

ABC correspondent and co-anchor of 20/20 John Stossel made waves with his special report entitled Stupid in America last Friday:

The Belgians did better because their schools are better. At age ten, American students take an international test and score well above the international average. But by age fifteen, when students from forty countries are tested, the Americans place twenty-fifth. The longer kids stay in American schools, the worse they do in international competition. They do worse than kids from countries that spend much less money on education.
The public school system is a disaster. Private schools in the US spend between $4,000 and $6,000 annually per student with better results than public schools that spent over $7,500 in 2000. A liberal think tank shows 19% of public education expenditures go to special needs children--if we chop that from the public school total (a magnanimous thing to do for the public schools, since extras for gifted children are included in this amount and because it inaccurately assumes that private schools have no special needs children of their own), we're just over $6,100. Taking $5,000 as a an overall average for private schools (the public school data goes from K-12 without distinguishing), public school still consumes over 20% more resources.

Much of the explanation for this disparity has an omerta on it. Because public school is "free", private schools are more greatly comprised of the children of the affluent than are public schools. IQ is both heriditary and correlated to income with statistical significance. Thus, smarter people tend to make more money, have smarter kids, and send them to private schools. In this way, the private schools have a leg up. Further, wealthy homes tend to provide an environment more conducive to social and cognitive development than do broken homes. The first reason is borne out of innate differences, something that is banned from the public debate to the public school advocate's loss.

Still, there is no question that public schools suffer from tremendous inefficiencies, as Stossel points out:

This should come as no surprise once you remember that public education in the USA is a government monopoly. Don't like your public school? Tough. The school is terrible? Tough. Your taxes fund that school regardless of whether it's good or bad. That's why government monopolies routinely fail their customers. Union-dominated monopolies are even worse.
Monopolies can only work if there are huge economies of scale and benign price controls determined by an accountable body. Utilities, for example, make sense as quasi-public companies because serving an entire metro area cuts costs that are then passed on to the consuming public. If there were twenty utility companies, each time you wanted to switch providers you would need to install a new gas line. Each company would have to charge a premium for gas to cover fixed costs that are only spread over 10% of the city rather than all of it.

But the current educational system does not benefit much from economies of scale. Schools are geographically disparate, each teacher has a different teaching style and methodology, and students have varying abilities and needs. To make further use of the utility example, assume that each customer has a preference on how long the gas sits in the pipeline before being sent to him: some want it to be held for a day, others for an hour, still more for a week, and so on. Having only one utility provider in this scenario is inefficient because specialization becomes difficult (leading to a "diversification discount" in business lingo). It makes more sense to have utility companies that specialize in providing gas held for a certain amount of time. Utility X will hold all of its gas for a day before sending it out to its customers, all of whom desire that holding duration.

Public education is set up as that one utility provider when the consuming public has an incredible diverse set of needs. But providers like Utility X, that would better serve the public, are at a tremendous disadvantage because the big provider is heavily subsidized by the government. If the government instead decided to issue vouchers to the public in lieu of funding the favored utility, those like Utility X would flourish and consumers would be much better served.

Competition would lead to rigorous college preparatory curricula for the brightest kids. They would not be held back by less endowed children who become frustrated and gain nothing from such material. Conversely, kids who would benefit more from vocational, practical learning would be able to receive it. Instead of putting someone destined to be a plumber into a calculus class that he'll fail, why not let him go to a trade school and learn the ins and outs of plumbing? Urchins with disciplinary problems would be able to be dealt with harshly or expelled from the school altogether, greatly facilitating the learning of the rest of the students. Especially gifted and ambitious children would be able to attend institutions with longer hours and over the summer. If a student's circadian rhythm is not conducive to rising at seven in the morning, he could attend schools that began later in the day. The potential benefits are endless.

Some of the affluent understandably worry that vouchers would allow inner-city trash to be shuttled into their children's schools. But standardized testing would screen out most of these kids, leaving only the sharpest to actually have the opportunity to use these 'elite' institutions. And tuitions could always be raised above the voucher amount if need be.

As it stands, the public is hardly being served. This scenario is virtually unthinkable in the private sector:
In New York City, it's "just about impossible" to fire a bad teacher, says schools chancellor Joel Klein. The new union contract offers slight relief, but it's still about 200 pages of bureaucracy. "We tolerate mediocrity," said Klein, because "people get paid the same, whether they're outstanding, average, or way below average." One teacher sent sexually oriented emails to "Cutie 101," his sixteen year old student. Klein couldn't fire him for years, "He hasn't taught, but we have had to pay him, because that's what's required under the contract."

In a private school, the teacher would have been terminated immediately--the school's reputation would suffer irreparably if he wasn't. The NEA vociferously opposes school choice because it would inject their plush occupation with market forces that would mandate better performance and harder work. The mantra that teachers do not make enough is ridiculous. First, an education degree is among the easiest to obtain in college and being an effective teacher does not require astronomical intelligence. The average teacher makes $45,000 annually for 200 days of work. At eight hours a day (Stossel reports that in the New York public school system the average workday is only six hours and forty minutes), that's more than $28 per hour (more than $56,000 a year if they worked a standard 2,000 hour year) in addition to plush benefits.

Secondly, the reason good teachers do not receive greater compensation is that there's no school choice in the first place. As Klein alluded to above, there would be a premium for effective teachers with vouchers, as schools would scramble to find the best staff so as to bring in students. Bloated administrative costs hamper teacher salaries further. In the public arena, only 52.2% of education personnel are actually teachers--in the private realm, it's over 80%. A more accurate statement of the current situation: Good teachers do not get paid enough, and bad teachers get paid too much. That is the nature of anti-merit unions and the foundation upon which communist economic theory rests upon. Perhaps the lumpenproletariat need to be shown what is going on in greener pastures:
In the Netherlands, nearly 76 percent of school-age children attend private schools with state money going to the chosen school. Sweden and Denmark also have liberal school choice policies with school funding following children whose parents choose private schools. In all three countries, student performance is higher than in the United States, where 15-year-olds scored twenty-first on mathematics literacy and twelfth in science, according to international performance audits.
Support for school choice is there. Some 64% of Americans favor school choice, and it is only moderately skewed by political affiliation (68% of Republican and 54% of Democrats favor). The Florida Supreme Court recently struck down a voucher program that had been functioning for six years, demonstrates how harmful the egalitarian myth is:
Five of the seven presiding justices ruled that school vouchers violate the "uniformity" clause of Florida's Constitution. Far from being an arcane and forgotten technicality, this clause was amended and reapproved by voters just eight years ago: It mandates, among other things, "a uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education."
Every child in America attends school. It can't get any more diverse than that (well, immigration will accentuate this diversity further). Striving for uniformity is backwards. No Child Left Behind mandates that states bring their student body up to some state-set (see a conflict of interest here?) threshold. Meanwhile, students that are already able to meet NCLB requirements are inevitably going to suffer unchallenging classtime devoted to bringing the less endowed students up to snuff. The aspiration to insure that struggling students are literate and can perform basic arithmetic functions is a noble one that some schools would be devoted to with school choice, while the sharper kids to whom such work is a mundane waste of time would attend other schools that can best capitalize on their various aptitudes and interests. But if sharper students are forced to wait around while their peers with less intellectual ability are taught remedially, there's a big loss.

It's refreshing to see a network news figure take on a tough issue like this with the largest union in the country (2.7 million members) so adamantly opposed.

(Education)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Farrakhan as man of the year

Trent Lott was thrown to the wolves for suggesting, at a birthday party for the late Strom Thurmond, that the US would have been better served if the centenarian had been elected President in 1948:

"I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we
voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."
Because the archaic Thurmond was a segregationalist (how else would he have possibly been elected in Mississippi at the time?), Lott was branded a racist, bigot, and all the other nasty epithets that get thrown at anyone who dare have anything to do with any person who might have at some time in the past said something straying outside the strict belief system of orthodox Cultural Marxists.

Republicans had worried that if Lott didn't step down as Majority Leader, the party would lose ground in trying to appeal to minorities. Bush nabbed 9% and 11% of the black vote in the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections, respectively, in heeding their concerns. Perhaps Republicans should focus on the 800-pound gorrilla of American democracy--whites--who make up over three-quarters of the voting electorate instead of pandering to various minority ethnic groups of whom not a single one votes Republican. Maybe they should focus on keeping the nation's ancestry largely European (as it slides steadily towards minority status--p75) and by instituting a merit immigration system that leads to future Americans of all ethnic and racial backgrounds being successful and therefore more likely to vote Republican.

Instead they seem content to play a moral superiority game that they cannot possibly win in the end. The boost the Republican Party has enjoyed from the efflorescence of talk radio, the internet, and cable (that is, Fox) news challenging the monolithic leftwing view in the media is being overwhelmed by demographic changes that favor Democrats.

Lott's comments were innocuous even if they were politically foolish. He did not voice support for segragational policies nor make note of Thurmond's previous support for them--he merely paid a rather generic compliment to a Mississippi legislator (Lott, of course, is a Senator from Mississippi) at the senescent guy's birthday party, and he was crucified for doing so.

Contrast that to this:
BET.com users have selected Minister Louis Farrakhan as the 2005 Person of the Year."

An overwhelming percentage of our users agreed that Minister Farrakhan made the most positive impact on the Black community over the past year and chose him as the person most worthy to receive the honor of BET.com's 2005 Person of the Year," said Retha Hill, BET.com's vice president for Content.

Farrakhan was certainly an interesting choice. The leader of the Nation of Islam--which professes that an evil scientist created white devils (with Jews being the earliest white progenitors) from impure blacks--he's had a vision of Colin Powell plotting the destruction of the black race, accused the government of blowing up the New Orleans levees to drown blacks, called Hitler a great man, and Judaism a dirty religion.

He is an overtly black nationalist. I do not blame him for trying to look out for the well being of his extended family nor am I surprised that he has anything but acrimony for white America when he, like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, knows that the easiest way to overcome innate disparities is to lobby for wealth transfers, at least in the short-term. Bill Cosby's push for self-reliance as a means of buoying black America is only championed in bigoted circles, of course.

Farrakhan's popularity in the black community should be a tocsin for America--multiculturalism breeds tension between groups and fans the flames of racial hatred. Coupled with democracy, multiculturalism turns the political arena into a special interest spoils system, with demagogues capitalizing on real and perceived differences by promising their particular group special things. Every occurence has a racial component in multicultural areas. Compare the racially-charged LA riots or the Katrina aftermath in New Orleans to the coal miners who recently perished in West Vriginia. In the first two, one large ethnic group lambasted another for prejudice, racism, etc. In the mining tragedy, this element wasn't present because it simply couldn't be--West Virginia is overwhelmingly white.

As Latin America continues to emigrate into the the US, groups that openly fight to secure benefits for Hispanics like La Raza and MechA will continue to gain clout. Affirmative action policies will pinch less endowed whites and Asians harder and harder. Whites will become increasingly aware of their racial identity and organizations like American Renaissance will grow in popularity. Cultural and language barriers will become more pronounced, as the moribund social policy of assimilation bites the dust (what does one assimilate to if there are ten distinctly different cultures to choose from, all of which are encouraged by various members of the polyglot?). Native Americans are the most distinctly separate group, technically constituting entirely different nations. With so many special privileges, Indian tribes are ripe for corruption--see Jack Abramoff. Do we want more of these special privileges for other groups?

America is rushing fullsteam into unchartered waters. Multiculturalism has an awful record (think confiscation of white farms in southern Africa and South America, Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka, Buddhist struggles in southwest China, the Balkans, riots in Australia and France, Islamic terrorism and ethnic enclaves scattered throughout the West, the Sudan, Jim Crow in the South, virulent anti-Judaism in the Middle East, ad infinitum) while the most homogenuous countries suffer little internal strife and enjoy prosperity (Scandanavia and Japan being the most salient examples). Often, when pinned down, multicult open borders enthusiasts will cite the US as the greatest example of a demographic mosaic, yet in the next sentence they will be condemning racial inequality in America and giving props to Kanye West. If the US is sui generis when it comes to successful multiculturalism, I'm definitely not convinced.

It's blatantly intuitive that people tend to gravitate toward those like themselves. Think of your friends--if you are a college graduate (or working your way to that), how many of your friends are doing the same? If you built relationships randomly, we would expect that of your twelve closest friends, two of them are college educated, seven finished high school and then went to work, and three are high school dropouts. Does that reflect reality? Probably not. Chances are most if not all of your friends are collegiates. How about the significant others in your life? How have the relationships where you shared common interests, pursuits, lifestyles, and enjoyed similar traits fared compared to the ones where you've been polar opposites on everything from politics to entertainment to lifestyle habits? The stellar success of EHarmony.com is a testament to the former--are there businesses devoted to matching you up with those the most unlike yourself as possible?

Why would polities be any different? Opposites don't attract on the individual level, and they don't attract on the national level either. Immigrants now account for over 60% of the US' population growth--they will determine the future composition of America. We should insure that they are conducive to the needs--culture, economic, occupational, cognitive, linguistic--of the native population by instituting a merit immigration system that scores potential new arrivals based on factors like English language fluency, occupational training, health, age, criminal record, educational attainment, IQ, and so forth. There are as many as 1.5 billion people who would like to come to the US--we can certainly afford to pick and choose those who will benefit the Union the most. Whether we can afford not to be picky and instead let family reunification, anchor babies, and desperation choose for us is what I'm not so sure about.

(US)