Wednesday, May 31, 2006

IQ and infant mortality

Lynn and Vanhanen spotlighted the relationship between IQ and the purchasing power parity of nations. It was a groundbreaking new way of understanding prosperity in the world. But PPP's relationship with IQ (contemporary correlation of .60) is actually weak in comparison to IQ's relationship to a host of other quantifiables (Economic transparency/corruption index: .68, Distance from the equator: .67, Births per woman: -.81, Life expectancy: .85). When economic transparency/corruption is taken into account, the effect of IQ on PPP completely disappears, while controlling for a host of variables (IQ, distance from the equator, births per woman, net migration rate, life expectancy, and economic freedom) only mildly moderates the effect of economic transparency/corruption while rendering all the other variables statistically insignificant except for the migration rate (positive net migration being correlated with higher PPP).

Another surprisingly strong correlation exists between IQ and the infant mortality rate. The two are inversely correlated at a statistically significant .84. Thus 70% of a country's infant mortatlity rate can be 'explained' by its average IQ. By way of comparison, PPP and infant mortality are inversely correlated at a more modest .56. Even doctors per capita and infant mortality are only inversely correlated at .69. Controlling for IQ renders PPP meaningless. Doctors per capita retains statistically significant but loses two-thirds of its correlation magnitude. Controlling for PPP and doctors per capita, meanwhile, only cuts into 21% of IQ's 'effect' on infant mortality. Boosting African IQs through better nutrition will do more for the well-being of the continent than the noble Doctors without Borders organization will ever be able to accomplish (maybe they should focus on distributing vitamins).

Why does IQ matter more than access to physicians or material well-being? There's plenty of food for speculation: Smarter women have more self-control to refrain from activities during pregnancy that may damage the fetus like smoking, eating junkfood, and consuming alcohol, they have fewer kids and have them later in life so they can devote more attention to each child without the distractions of youth, sharper couples are less likely to get divorced and therefore children benefit from having two caretakers instead of one, brighter couples have brighter children that are less likely to accidentally kill themselves, and smarter people are less given to instant gratification that distracts from properly caring for infants.

The future looks precarious. The brainy nations are becoming grayer and reproducing below the replenishment rate of 2.1 children per woman (see the nearby charts--click to enlarge).

Globalization will continue to make migration easier. As newly-arrived, formerly destitute third-worlders enjoy the prosperity of the developed host, they become more fecund (Hispanics in the US average 2.8 babies per woman. That's higher than Mexico's 2.42 per woman, and indeed is more fertile than much of Latin America). By depressing wages and making housing less affordable, they also have the effect of decreasing the fecundity of the host country's natives. As the relative size of the smart fraction dwindles while the duller side grows proportionately (and absolutely, of course), more human resources will have to spent by the brights to take care of the dulls. Crime and poverty will increase, living standards will be pressured, and human progression will be slowed.

Three ways to combat this: 1) Genetic engineering, the azoth that will potentially make all this worrying silly, 2) Technologies and techniques to slow down the aging process, keeping erudite old folks productive longer (SENS research is a worthy cause for charitable contributions), and 3) The creation of incentives for natives of the developed world to have more babies. France, Russia, and Portugal have recently implemented policies in attempt to achieve this. The US should give tax credits to high IQ professionals for donating sperm and eggs. The child tax credit should be regressive, or at least not progressive. Tubal ligations and other forms of sterilization should be used more by prosecutors as part of plea deals for criminals (Project Prevention is another worthy cause to consider).

(Future)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Supreme equality? Who wants it?

This won't be winning many Middle Eastern hearts and minds:
The Jerusalem District Court has ordered the Jerusalem Municipality to pay the city's Gay and Lesbian Center NIS 350,000 [$77,500 US, plus court fees] for "cultural and social activities" held by the organization over the last three years, a court spokeswoman announced Monday.
Tel Aviv is vying with San Francisco for the right to be known as the homosexual capital of the world. So Jerusalem will make a nice satellite. Except it's a holy city for the two largest religions in the world, as well as their mutual father, and all three do not look favorably upon homosexuality, especially the conspicuous public display of it.

The judge deciding against the city wrote:
It must treat this [homosexual] community with equality, out of recognition of the supreme value of equality, and out of respect for the values of tolerance and pluralism, which exist at the heart of democratic society.
What happens when the only way to retain the viability of tolerance and pluralism as core values involves restrictions on who can participate under their auspices? I wonder what they're saying about this in meetings under the Dome of the Rock. These values are not self-sustaining. Unfettered tolerance does not have an answer for rigid intolerance.

"Pluralism" is a euphemistic name for anti-Occidentalism. No belief system, be it empirical, rational, existential, religious, or otherwise, welcomes restrictions on its own influence. The advocates of pluralism are not exceptions--their goals include the suspension of Western moral judgmentalism and the marginalization of the white middle class that sustains it. But Western elites face a reckoning when they are no longer competing exclusively with 'traditional' bourgeoisie in an arena founded upon free expression and the acceptance of compromise or defeat.

The 160 million Muslims living in places bordering Israel do not appreciate such forced 'equality'. In the Middle East only Israeli society will accept, without the coercion of force, a deeply unpopular diktat from the judiciary (three-quarters of Jerusalem residents are opposed to even allowing the parade to take place for which the funding will go). An open Israel would realize in short order that the values the judge speaks so highly of are only as strong as those who support them. They are not existentially eternal. They will be supplanted by value systems (say fundamentalist Sharia law) that take advantage of the tolerance/pluralist auto-immune deficiency, using tolerating acceptance to spread intolerance (which potentially describes any competing belief system).

There are important lessons here. Belief systems are only as influential as the people supporting them. Societal propositions are largely the result of, not the cause of, the environment they flourish in. The US enjoys a high standard of living, free expression, social mobility, a representative republic founded upon democratic values, and isonomy is due to plentiful land and resources, a high IQ majority, its reformational (Protestant) history, a geographic location that enabled it to emerge from WWII as the giant of the earth, etc, not because its leaders declared all men to be created equal (al-Maliki can do that all day long to no avail).

The US (and the rest of the developed world) needs to preserve the propitious conditions that allow for universalistic, liberal values to flourish from within. Exporting these values to places hostile to them, and eager to employ them only as far as they benefit the hegemony of a different value set does not do this. Nor does importing hegemonic alien belief systems. That means no more costly adventures in third-world hellholes and no more value-subtracting immigrants with beliefs and abilities detrimental to American prosperity and social cohesion.

(Ideas)

Monday, May 29, 2006

Bush for a wall?

Catching up with the insights of so many great minds in the blogosphere after a few days on a nine acre lake in the hinterland (without an internet connection for miles), an item on the VDare blog brought to mind a conversation I had with one of the 95 or so Hispanics in Linn County, Kansas. Steve Sailer writes:

Bush Is Losing Hispanics’ Support, Polls Show;Surveys Find the Immigration Debate Is Also Alienating White Conservatives” by Thomas B. Edsall and Zachary A.
Goldfarb, May 21, 2006

The priority given Hispanics in this headline is another example of a consistent pattern of media bias. Hispanics cast only 6.0 percent of the vote in the last election, according to the Census Bureau. White conservatives, whom the Post admits are also alienated, account for roughly four to six times more votes than all Hispanics put together.
Growth in the size of an underperforming ethnic minority is just what the Left ordered. The GOP is committing hara-kiri. From record spending to amnesty, from the Iraq miasma to the Medicare profligacy (and the program's so bemusing/unattractive that the government has to spend money advertising a federal giveaway!), Bush is leading the Republican Party off a cliff. I've realized this for some time, being stultified again and again by the fallacious logic put forward by guys like Ed Gillespie:
The Republican Party cannot become an anti-immigration party. Our majority already rests too heavily on white voters [this guy was the RNC chairman--what kind of CEO tells his customer base that his company is sick of relying on them to keep the enterprise in business? Imagine Lee Scott telling the working class that WalMart is in trouble because it's relying on working class scum to beat Target], given that current demographic voting percentages will not allow us to hold our majority in the future...

Hispanic voting percentages are increasingly decisive in swing states like New Mexico, Nevada, Florida, Colorado and Arkansas. Mishandling the immigration debate today could result in the Republican Party struggling in these states and others in the same way it does now in California.
Is he serious? All the states mentioned used to be Republican strongholds. The deluge from south of the border has turned the red purple, and more immigration is going to give it a blue hue. Prop 187's attempt to lessen the incentives for an illegal Hispanic underclass did not doom the Republican Party in California. The failure to implement and build on it while retaining a white majority in California doomed the GOP. Gillespie needs to be working to halt the influx from the south. The popular support is there. It is self-immolation for the Republicans to turn their backs on white Americans and the middle class in general, as much as Gillespie laments the fact that the Republican Party has to rely on them.

But the Republican leadership's self-mutilation is nothing new. Heck, Steve's been writing about it for years. What got me was the conversation I had when, on a long hike, I came upon a field party. I was talking to a girl of Mexican descent (second generation I would later find out). When I inquired into her future, she responded by saying she wanted to become an immigration lawyer to "Help my friends. Bush wants to build a wall on the border and it's not right." For being a female in her late teens, she was pretty knowledgeable about the political scene. And she was under the impression that Bush wanted to seal the border!

I'm not sure what effect Bush's amnesty endorsements are having on the Hispanic electorate (although the vitriol directed at Bush in Mexico for his 'restrictionist' stance doesn't bode well for el Presidente), but given that the GOP can only afford to lose 1% of the voting white population for every 10% of the Hispanic vote that it picks up, the GOP will need a big gain among Hispanics just to break even. This girl, wrongfully angry at the President for a policy he's opposed to, made me doubly disgusted at Bush. No wonder he's in the dumps.

(Immigration2)

Around, around again in Iraq

With al-Jaafari thrown to the curb, al-Maliki is hoped to be more effective in marshalling federal strength in Iraq. Could this be a turning point? But which way were we facing when we came in to Iraq, and in what direction will be heading when we straigten out again? If we trace our steps...

-----
June 12, 2003 [Rice]: And despite the tragic events of the past few days, it is also a time of great hope. President Bush believes that the region is at a true turning point. He believes that the people of the Middle East have a real chance to build a future of peace and freedom and opportunity.

March 19, 2004 [Bush]: Today, as Iraqis join the free peoples of the world, we mark a turning point for the Middle East, and a crucial advance for human liberty.

June 18, 2004 [Bush]: A turning point will come in less than two weeks. On June the 30th, full sovereignty will be transferred to the interim government. The Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist, an American embassy will open in the capital of a free Iraq.

Jan 29, 2005 [Bush]: Tomorrow the world will witness a turning point in the history of Iraq, a milestone in the advance of freedom, and a crucial advance in the war on terror. The Iraqi people will make their way to polling centers across their nation.

Jan 31, 2005 [McClellan]: The election is a victory for the Iraqi people. It's a significant step forward for freedom and it is a defeat for the terrorists and their ideology. It marks a turning point in Iraq's history and a great advance toward a brighter future for all Iraqis, one that stands in stark contrast to the brutality and oppression of the past.

March 8, 2005 [Bush]: People in the Middle East and commentators around the world are beginning to wonder whether recent elections may mark a turning point as significant as the fall of the Berlin Wall.

June 22, 2005: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has said international support pledged towards rebuilding Iraq marks a "turning point" for the country.

Nov 21, 2005: Senator Biden delivers a speech entitled "Turning the corner in Iraq."

Nov 28, 2005: But, by last week, Murtha had decided to come out of his corner in spectacular fashion. The result was a turning point—and a low point—in the war at home over the war in Iraq.

Dec 5, 2005: Fawaz A. Gerges, an expert on the insurgency movement in Iraq and on the jihad movement in the Muslim world, says the bombings at three Amman hotels last month have produced "a turning point in the Middle East."

Dec 12, 2005: There's still a lot of difficult work to be done in Iraq, but thanks to the courage of the Iraqi people, the year 2005 will be recorded as a turning point in the history of Iraq, the history of the Middle East, and the history of freedom.

Dec 17, 2005: "The last two weeks have been critically important and I believe may be seen as a turning point in the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism," Lieberman told reporters after he and a bipartisan group of senators met with Bush and top administration officials on the war.

Dec 18, 2005 [Cheney]: And we had that election in January -- first free election in Iraq in decades -- and that we will be able to look back from the perspective of time, and see that 2005 was the turning point, was the watershed year, and that establishment of a legitimate government in Iraq, which is what that whole political process is about, means the end of the insurgency, ultimately.

Dec 26, 2006 [Kristol andKagan]: The Iraqi elections really could be a turning point.

April 26, 2006: "The turning point here is that Iraq now has its first permanent government, and that it is a government of national unity, and it gives Iraq a real chance to deal with the real vexing problems that it has faced," [Rice] added.

May 2, 2006: Mr Bush says the new government represents a turning point for the Iraqi people, although he concedes there will still be difficult days ahead.

May 22, 2006: President Bush on Monday hailed the formation of a new Iraqi government as a "turning point" that will allow U.S. forces to take an "increasingly supporting role" against insurgents as Washington and London look for ways to disengage from the war.
-----

Take me back/to just before I was spinning/take me back/to just before I got dizzy...

I try to focus on the big stuff pertinent to the Iraq adventure, not the daily vicissitudes. For one, I'm not shrewd enough nor do I make the time to closely follow the political cycles inside the fractured country. But news of Shia militias undertaking mass executions of suspected Sunnis ("guilty" by way of being Sunni) reveals that Al Sistani's impressive sustained effort urging Shia to turn the other cheek has finally run out of steam. Years of low-level civil war loom ugly in the future of Iraq.

This, to a backdrop of sobering considerations: The population has an IQ around 87, the country's PPP is $3,400 (although this is a substantial jump from a couple of years ago when it was estimated to be $2,100), consanguineous marriage is ubiquitous, Islam and liberal democracy are antipodal (a good read--written in 1993 and attempting to repudiate scholars and academics arguing that fundamentalist Islam was the key to bringing the Muslim world into modernity (!) and tracing the errant predictions of Islam's liberalization over the last 150 years--and the analysis of the Algerian 'surprise' in the early nineties is eerily similar to the Hamas 'surprise' in Palestine last year, leaving one to wonder how Kramer supported the Iraq invasion in '02), and the Sunni minority was accustomed to minority rule for over two decades. I don't see how Iraq can handle the West's conception of freedom.

Let's draw down. Bush can put his hand over his heart and say we've given them a chance at freedom and all the other platitudes that might save America a little face. The allegation, if ultimately true (and the Defense Department hasn't denied it), that Marines carried out a fatal reprisal against some innocents in retaliation for the death of Marine Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, is going to be a PR nightmare worse than Abu Ghraib.

Instead of quixotically trying to reshape the Middle East, we need to remove ourselves from it. Pour the remainder of Iraq's $1 trillion-plus total price tag into alternative energy research (we'll destabilize Venezuela's Chavez while we're at it). Severely restrict immigration from the Middle East. Use Saddam's fall and the death of his sons as a reminder that assistance to international terrorist organizations, or even the perception of sympathy toward them or complicity in their actions, will lead to the rolling of heads and the annihilation of families. If we were off oil and the destabilization of the Middle East meant little to the strategic interests of the US, such threats would have more potency than the current sabre-rattling at Iran.

(Terrorism)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

What the WSJ?

From the WSJ op/ed page on Thursday, May 26:
Thus we must answer two questions: What materials -- weapons -- would terrorists want to bring across our borders, and how would this be accomplished? A thinking enemy will not be deterred by deadbolt locks on America's front doors (our seaports) when our windows and back doors (7,000 miles of virtually unguarded land borders and 95,000 miles of shoreline) remain wide open.
And from another, full-length emotional piece sympathizing not with the Hispanic lumpenproletariat and gangsters streaming across the southern border, but instead with Americans living along it that are terrorized on a daily basis:
Ms. Maharis wanted residents to speak for themselves in describing home break-ins, vandalism, horrible traffic accidents and more. One scene shows flowers at a roadside in nearby Sierra Vista, a memorial to five people killed in an October 2004 wreck. Two smugglers fleeing the cops at 90 miles an hour with 19 illegals in their pickup sailed over a median and rammed cars at a stoplight. Three illegals died. So did 75-year-old James Lee and his newlywed bride, Emilia Guthrie Lee, 71, of Huachuca City. Every time she passes that spot, Ms. Maharis says, her heart breaks for that elderly couple, trying to start their lives together.

"Cries" also shows vehicles torched by an illegal alien arsonist who rampaged through the county in 2005. The man, judged mentally incompetent, was sent to the Arizona State Hospital, where his care costs taxpayers almost $200,000 annually. ...

But at least Mr. Tancredo's staff watched the whole thing. Gerald Kicanas, the bishop of the Tucson Catholic Diocese, showed Ms. Maharis no such courtesy. About 15 minutes into a private screening of the 70-minute film, he summarily stood and left the room, declaring that "Cries" wasn't empathetic to the illegals. Ms. Maharis found herself talking to the open door. "But we are compassionate!" she called, pleading with him to watch the whole film. Bishop Kicanas refused.

"I was shocked he'd dismiss us like that," Ms. Maharis says. "It demonstrated a closed mind. I thought high church officials were supposed to be compassionate toward everyone, but he showed no interest in what's happening in Cochise County to people like us, living in trauma on private property."

Gigot must be on vacation. Two pieces critical of the WSJ board's anti-nationalist open-borders stance and no smearing from the paper's own review section. Too bad it didn't come before the Senate's 1986 amnesty repeat. But Tom Tancredo should take some inspiration!

(Immigration2)

Multiculturalism amok in Michigan

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?

(Culture)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

S2611 final vote approaches

With the Senate capitulation for cloture on S2611 (the CIRA), a final vote is likely tomorrow. The future of the United States hangs in the balance. Are we going to remain a democratically-principled republic built upon plentiful land, high wages, merit, cultural unity, and relative wealth equality, or are we going to go the way of Latin America with enormous wealth disparities, ethnic tensions, communication barriers, overcrowded and polluted cities, depressed wages, perpetually bouncing between populist leftist leaders and big-business repressers, and with more than a sprinkle of destitute south Asia to boot?

Concerned citizens need to contact their senators. Contact information is here. Below is what I've sent to both of mine. If you're unsure of what to write, please feel free to cut+paste what I've written.

------
Dear Senator [name],

Please vote against the CIRA. S2611 threatens to usher in unprecedented change in America's demographic composition. Currently less than 12% of the US population is foreign-born--the putative CIRA would up that to well over 20%. This dwarfs even the immigration explosion of the late 19th century not only in absolute terms (obviously), but proportionally as well. Yet as Senator Sessions has aptly pointed out, nine in ten of the some 66 million to arrive in the next couple of decades will be low-skilled. We are importing vacuous poverty. Why?

Does suppressing the wages of the native working class while augmenting the flow of entitlements from wealthy natives to impoverished foreigners condition the US economy to compete globally with the rapidly rising economies of India and especially China? US residents of Mexican descent have an underwhelming high school graduation rate of 30%. Illegals constitute 5% of our general population while comprising almost 20% of our federal prison population. Virtually all studies done on the economic contributions of the low-skilled conclude that they consume more in government services than they kick back in taxes and that in any case their contribution to the GDP is negligible (the left-leaning Harvard economist George Borjas and open-borders WSJ op/ed board both admit this).

There exists a glaring national security threat in porous borders. Atavistic diseases once believed to be moribund in the US have returned with immigrants from destitute places in South Asia, Latin America, and Africa. There is a statistically significant and strong inverse correlation between a state's and and a city's (.65 and .79, respectively) foreign-born population and said entity's level of housing affordability (keeping in mind that .6 is considered a powerful correlation in the social sciences).

A feudal society is not an ownership society. Instead, it is a stratified society based on salient differences in status, where ever-cheaper labor is pursued at the expense of technological innovation (in this way resembling the Confederacy). To remain on the cutting edge of technology, we must remember the words of Socrates in Plato's Republic: "The true creator is necessity, who is the mother of our invention." Further, relatively newly-arrived Hispanics, especially of the second generation, suffer from some of the highest levels of gang activity and teen pregnancy in the nation. Urban areas in the Southwest are becoming no-go zones due to the gathering presence of ruthless gangs like MS-13.

Comparisons between this fourth wave of immigration and the previous three are spurious. No lucrative safety net existed before the middle of the 20th Century, there was a greater strategic need for unskilled labor, and the US always had control of who was allowed in and who was to be removed (at Ellis Island, no less, were those suspected of becoming "net charges" denied residency).

Further, we are a nation of settlers as much as we are a nation of immigrants. For 150 years prior to the Declaration we remade the New World into the United States of America, much to the chagrin of the Native Americans that predated us. Settlers reshape the society they settle. Immigrants assimilate into it. The throngs of law breakers waving the flags of Latin American countries and shrieking in Spanish during the April and May protests are not immigrants, they are settlers. I do not want to relive the experience of Native Americans, and can only assume that as my representative you must feel the same way. A vote in favor of the final version of S2611 is a vote against sovereignty, the value of US citizenship, and against yourself in the next election cycle via me.

Sincerely,

[signed]
------

We need an immigration policy that admits only those who will benefit the native population through the creation of net wealth in addition to boosting America's quality of living (attributes included high educational attainment, high IQ, English-fluency, good health, criminally averse, etc). The realization of a successful merit immigration system is predicated on an ending of unskilled immigration through the construction of a wall, punitive workplace enforcement, and mandatory jail time for repeat illegals.

(Immigration2)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

WSJ's free-market inanity

The WSJ's op/ed page is so enamored by the quixotic ideal of free flow in all things that it is oblivious to how blatantly unappealing its arguments are to most Americans. Like other dogmatic true believers, the WSJ puts a premium on applying the theoretical to the real world, instead of empirically determining what is best for the real world. Having abandoned attempts at marginalizing opponents (calling the 67% of Americans favoring a reduction in immigration--legal and illegal--a "small but vocal minority"), putting out silly emotional pleas, and stringing together baseless assertions about the importance of unskilled migrants to the nation's economy (admitting that the effect of Mexican immigration to the US is embarrasingly diminutive, representing less than one-tenth of one percent of US GDP), Gigot and company have turned to ideological assaults:
The immigration debate is producing plenty of nonsense, not least from conservatives who claim to believe in market economics. So hostile have these voices become to all things Mexican that they are now even denouncing the money that Mexicans working in America send home.

Mexicans in the U.S. sent an estimated $20 billion back home last year, most of that to their own families. But to hear American critics tell it, these voluntary, private transactions are actually a curse.
They are. Mexico exports its social problems to the US. These migrants depress American wages without adding value to the US economy. In exchange for less affordable living, higher crime, a dumber population, stress on the welfare system, and all the other baggage unskilled immigration brings, our economy has $20 billion siphoned off to a hostile neighbor instead of being invested and spent at home. Why would American "critics" come to any other conclusion?

Open border types love to throw up strawmen. In his immigration speech delivered a week ago, Bush claimed that deporting 12 billion people was unrealistic. No one is calling for that. Indeed, I agree. Experience shows that deporting a million would cause eight or ten times that amount to leave voluntarily. Similarly, the piece portrays these remittances in a relatively favorable light by comparing them to government-granted foreign aid (something the conservatives the WSJ is attacking are highly critical of):
In this month's issue of the Cato Journal, World Bank economist Simeon Djankov and two other authors find that while "remittances have no direct effect on economic growth," they do "have a significant and positive effect on investment, without having any effect on government consumption." The authors found such private forms of aid far more helpful than traditional, government-led foreign aid, which they argued had "discouraging" results. What would anti-remittance American conservatives prefer for Mexico: more World Bank loans?
What a ridiculous false dichotomy. How about neither? That's like arguing that getting melanoma is a good thing because it's less fatal than liver cancer.

Is the board incapable of realizing that Americans are not keen on the idea of buoying the Mexican economy at the expense of our own standard of living? Of course unskilled immigration to the US is good for Mexico. Migrants stand to make $5 an hour in the US. Most workers cannot make that in Mexico. The farther below $5 the migrant's earning power is at home, the more attractive minimum wage to the north becomes. So the lowest value-adding Mexicans come to the US (boosting Mexico's per capita productivity by giving more weight to the higher-earning Mexicans who remain at home) where they are subsidized by the American taxpayer, enabling them to send $20 billion in free money back to Mexico. This nauseating cycle is self-perpetuating, as none other than WSJ's own Joel Millman reported in early May:
For years, economists and politicians have said the solution to surging emigration is prosperity at home. If Mexico and other Latin American nations that send millions of migrants to the U.S. could grow fast enough, the theory goes, their residents wouldn't head north for work. ...

Now the theory looks wrong -- or at least simplistic. Emigration often surges along with economic development. In an expanding economy, would-be migrants gain the skills at home that pay better abroad. They also are better able to save the relatively modest sums -- $200 for a cut-rate airline ticket; $1,000 or so for a reliable border-crossing guide -- that workers looking to enter a better labor market need to take their skills north.
The free flow only ebbs when equilibrium is reached--that is, when Mexico and the US achieve parity. Mexico's PPP is $10,100. The US' is $42,000. Meeting somewhere in the middle is not something we want to do.

Ironically, in its zealous defense of the unregulated free market, the WSJ laments Mexico's failure to reign in the free market!
The country [Mexico] has also done far too little to break up domestic monopolies.
Uh, using the government to break up business entities is not a free market tactic. But this is the same board that contumeliously claims a southern security barrier would never work even as it hails the indisputable success of the Israeli security barrier, so perhaps expecting logical consistency is asking too much.

(Immigration2)

Monday, May 22, 2006

John McCain vs citizens

The "Maverick" sides with foreign criminals against US citizens:

The Senate voted yesterday to allow illegal aliens to collect Social Security benefits based on past illegal employment -- even if the job was obtained through forged or stolen documents. ...

"We all know that millions of undocumented immigrants pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for years and sometimes decades while they work to contribute to our economy," said Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican.

"The Ensign amendment would undermine the work of these people by preventing lawfully present immigrant workers from claiming Social Security benefits that they earned before they were authorized to work in our community," he said. "If this amendment were enacted, the nest egg that these immigrants have worked hard for would be taken from them and their families."

Only 7.65% of wages are withheld for FICA taxes. Low-skilled migrants that fraudulently obtain SS numbers are often not going to file income tax returns. For the average full-time male Mexican resident in the US, the FICA contribution comes to $1,592 a year. Last year the average monthly Social Security check per beneficiary was $927. Profitable enterprises focus on profit, not revenue. If a product is bringing you $1,592 in revenue per unit sold, but the unit COGS is $11,124, you don't have a sustainable operation.

If the migrant does file and he has a couple of kids, the EITC will come to $4,400 (not in the form of a reduction in taxable income, but in the form of an actual tax credit). That means if the migrant's total tax rate is less than 21% (and at $21,000 a year it certainly would be), he will end up paying zilch (while his children cost nearly $20,000 for education alone). Not promising these miscreants (keeping in mind that they've violated immigration law and committed fraud) a future benefit comes nowhere near compensating the net taxpayer for the lifelong cost of low-skilled immigrant residents.

The contribution to the GDP made by these migrants is negligible (well under 1%, virtually all realized in the form of lower labor costs). They are breaking our laws and stealing benefits that should be going to natives. Traitors like John McCain are beyond complicit--they are actively plundering the American citizenry. Notice the Senator's euphemism: "The Ensign amendment would undermine the work of these people by preventing lawfully present immigrant workers from claiming Social Security benefits that they earned before they were authorized to work in our community." Translating: "I want to retroactively make all foreigners legal residents and grant them the same benefits the citizen enjoys, including those accrued prior to the realization of my open borders agenda." McCain wants to end the illegal immigrant problem by granting blanket amnesty.

Hopefully, the proposed amendment to the CIRA is one of several that will ultimately be nothing more than symbolism when a final version is voted on. It may actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise that the Ensign amendment to deny SS benefits to illegals failed because guys like Sessions and Ensign will be less likely to cave in to the final CIRA bill. But it's worth pointing out who voted to kill the amendment (and it's death was a narrow 50-49 in a simple majority vote). Republicans siding with the foreigner-first camp (click to contact):

John McCain (AZ)
Sam Brownback (KS)
Lincoln Chafee (RI)
Mike Dewine (OH)
Lindsey Graham (SC)
Chuck Hagel (NE)
Richard Lugar (IN)
Mel Martinez (FL)
Arlen Specter (PA)
Ted Stevens (AK)
George Voinovich (OH)

These guys are encouraging the Republican party to commit hara-kiri. They want an inegalitarian society with brown serfs, an elite capital-controlling fair skinned aristocracy, and a downwardly mobile native working- and middle-class. If you live in these states, voice your disgust and be sure to vote against them forever in the future.

Citizen-first Democrats:

Robert Byrd (WV)
Kent Conrad (ND)
Mark Dayton (MN)
Ben Nelson (NE)
Bill Nelson (FL)

Praise these guys.

We need a Nationalist third party to form in stark opposition to the globalist Republicrats. The future of our republic hangs in the balance--do we want to become an over-crowded third world miasma marked by high levels of crime and pollution, low social cohesion, a powerful centralized government assuming the task of holding the polyglot together by force, increasing poverty and wealth disparity, lower IQs and educational attainment, and a decreasing per capita purchasing power and standard of living? Do the issues of same-sex marriage, capital gains tax rates, or prayer in schools compare in importance to the national question? Cross party lines. Make yourself a one-issue voter, because this issue is of critical importance.

(Immigration)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Germany finds self by seeing others

The best way to find out who you are is to create a situation in which you're surrounded by people different from you. You're then a microcosm of broader culture, as Germany demonstrates:
Experts fear new conflicts after a study published this week showed most Germans doubt the Western and Islamic worlds can peacefully coexist. Mistrust of the 3 million Muslims living in Germany appears to be growing. ...

The case of a Berlin "honor killing," a quarrel over two Bonn students who wore burkas to school and discussions concerning increasing schoolyard violence among immigrant children have all made headlines in the German press recently.

"In view of the diffuse feeling of being under threat, and the suspected intolerance of Islam, the readiness of Germans to show tolerance to the Muslim faith is sinking," Noelle and Petersen wrote.

A philosophical foundation built on tolerance is inherently self-immolating. Unfettered tolerance does not have an answer for intolerance. If tolerance suggests intolerance should moderate, the former is revealed to be a fraud. There are two ways to fight bad intolerance: Combat the bad intolerance with "good" intolerance, or bar the bad intolerance in the first place. Similarly, a functioning democracy requires that a majority of the population support democratic ideals. If the proportion of the population supporting said democratic ideals falls to minority status, democracy dies. Thus, "free" democracies must either amalgamate their supporting elements to fight undemocratic elements within the society, or keep these elements out in the first place. In both cases, the third option is to allow tolerance/democracy to whither away and be replaced by something different.

Of Germany's 82 million people, only 3 million are Muslim. Germans have the luxury of choosing whether to suppress Muslims in Germany, bar more of them from coming in, or allow Islamic culture to increasingly influence Germany's social composition. Recent news doesn't favor the third option:
The case of a Berlin "honor killing," a quarrel over two Bonn students who wore burkas to school and discussions concerning increasing schoolyard violence among immigrant children have all made headlines in the German press recently.
Stepping outside of Germany, we could also add the Muslim riots in France, the Madrid and London bombings, vicious hostility toward other religions in Denmark, Theo Van Gogh's slaying in the Netherlands, the cartoon chaos, clashes between Muslims and Aussies down under, 9/11, ad infinitum. Without even considering the deleterious economic impact a relatively low IQ, welfare-consuming underclass has on free-market-based systems, there is no reason to have lots of Muslims in the West outside of the fallacious argument that diversity is an inherently good thing. That is, multiculturalism not as a means to some end (stronger economy, healthier or more creative or safer society, etc), but a self-evidently desirable end in itself, justifying the burdensome baggage it brings.

Germans overwhelmingly do not view diversity brought by Muslims in a favorable light:
When asked what they associate with the word "Islam," 91 percent of respondents connected the religion to the discrimination of women, and 61 percent called Islam "undemocratic." Eight percent of Germans associated "peacefulness" with Islam.
Many Teutons are willing to exercise option one or two (of the three mentioned earlier) in defense of Occidentalism:
About 40 percent of Germans queried were willing to limit the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion if constricting the practice of the Muslim religion could lead to fewer violent Muslims choosing to live in Germany. Over half of those who took part, 56 percent, agreed with the statement, "If some Muslim countries forbid building churches, then it should be forbidden to build mosques here."
Western nations hold many values and beliefs in common. It's too bad we are not more unified in dealing with threats to those values and beliefs. US leaders tenaciously believe that a salient presentation of these values will make heathens reject their own beliefs and accept ours. Many European leaders claim to want mutual understanding, a real life application of tolerance suggesting intolerance be more tolerant (and really these two approaches are two sides of the same coin). In the Netherlands they even want desuetude of those most loudly sounding the tocsin:
Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been threatened repeatedly with "execution" by Islamist extremists. She lives in an apartment with bulletproof windows, and is driven to work at the Dutch Parliament by armed guards, who vary the route to outfox would-be hit men.

But an unexpected menace emerged closer to home: her own neighbors. They have fought to evict her, complaining that the presence of a well-known terrorist target in their luxury apartment tower in this Dutch city has upset their family lives and reduced the value of their property.

"Once this lady leaves, the problem is no longer there," says Ger Verhagen, a retired executive who owns a place two floors above the hunted politician.

Verhagen believes that killing the messenger will make the message irrelevant. His attitude deserves the rhetorical comparison to the appeasement of the thirties so often spuriosly hurled at the critics of the Iraq and Iran hawks. He's like the ignorant open border Republican drones that attack analysts like Steve Sailer for pointing out that current immigration trends are disastrous for the future of the GOP. If the naysayers would just shut up, the things they are worried about would go away. Ed Gillespie even thinks these things would be good if we'd just ignore all the evidence showing how bad they are.

Verhagen's ilk should heed a few words of wisdom from Hirsi and Flemming Rose, the Jyllands-Posten editor responsible for the publishing of the Danish Muhammad cartoons:
"They're just sticking their heads in the sand," responds Ms. Hirsi Ali, who dismisses the report as a "political pamphlet to suit the dreams of people who want to believe there is not a problem." ...

"I think it is very dangerous to give in to intimidation, because it sends a signal: If you threaten enough, we will do as you please," says Mr. Rose.

I'm reminded of The Simpsons episode where Bart buys a delapidated factory. He and Milhouse are rocking back and forth on an elevated platform that is covered in signs warning of the platform's instability. When Milhouse shows unease, Bart pulls down the signs, flings them away, and the two gleefully rock back and forth on the unstable platform.

But I'm encouraged by the thought that if Bart was German, he might not have elected to buy the run-down liability in the first place.

(International)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Driving diversity

Does a polyglot society produce bad drivers? People of all cultures have little tolerance for idiocy on the road, however said idiocy might be defined by an individual driver. More diversity means more versions of idiocy clashing with one another. The top five cities with the worst road rage (and the percent of each city's foreign-born population in brackets):
— Miami [60.6%]
— Phoenix [21.1%]
— New York [36%]
— Los Angeles [41.3%]
— Boston [21%]
The five cities with the most pleasant drivers:
— Minneapolis [17.6%]
— Nashville [9%]
— St. Louis [5.7%]
— Seattle [17.2%]
— Atlanta [6.3%]

The AutoVantage survey doesn't provide a metric scoring system, only rankings. And the sample's too small for much statistical analysis. But the five worst cities to drive in average a foreign-born population of 37.2% (and the worst--Miami--is a multiculturalist's Utopia). The five cities with the most tranquil drivers average 11.2%.

More exciting trends to look forward to as our conurbation increasingly comes to resemble the third-world!

(Immigration)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

American Jews stuck in a fiction-absolute?

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).

(Culture)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Want the upperhand? Then you must not care

Look at me/dreaming of you/all I could hope is to have you/have you walking with me/laughing so in love we two/almost drunkenly/I did imbibe of this/fantasy of you and me...
Thus the speakers blare, ravaging the eardrums of a catatonic, heartbroken loser. It's the weekend before finals but all I can manage, between bouts of moping, is catching up on my TAC reading. A zombie at work and psychologically withdrawn during workouts, a dashed appetite, with perpetual lethargic insomnolence.

What's going on inside? It doesn't appear we really know. Searching for "heartache physiology study" and "physiological biological cause explanation broken heart", etc yield little more than blogs pondering how nothing exists on the 'condition'. Consulting the voracious reader futurepundit produced one study out of John Hopkins pointing to cardiomyopathy:

Now, researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered that sudden emotional stress can also result in severe but reversible heart muscle weakness that mimics a
classic heart attack. Patients with this condition, called stress cardiomyopathy [an emotional blow as an idiopathic cause?] but known colloquially as “broken heart” syndrome, are often misdiagnosed with a massive heart attack when, indeed, they have suffered from a days-long surge in adrenalin (epinephrine) and other stress hormones that temporarily “stun” the heart...

the research team found that some people may respond to sudden, overwhelming motional stress by releasing large amounts of catecholamines (notably adrenalin and noradrenalin, also called epinephrine and norepinephrine) into the blood stream, along with their breakdown products and small proteins produced by an excited nervous system. These chemicals can be temporarily toxic to the heart, effectively stunning the muscle and producing symptoms similar to a typical heart attack, including chest pain, fluid in the lungs, shortness of breath and heart failure.

There's a sustained rush as the climactic moment of truth comes and goes. I've never experienced anything like this, though I'm told it's a rite of passage. For what? A Hinayana sect in Sri Lanka? Well, being in peak shape doesn't make you impervious:

“These cases were, initially, difficult to explain because most of the patients were previously healthy and had few risk factors for heart disease.”
So does stoicism win? What else to harden a sensitive self to outrageous fortune? Where's the evolutionary advantage in being a romantic? It's not good for your (physical) heart. If you've a predisposition to put all your eggs in one basket, what happens if watching that basket doesn't keep it from breaking? You get to produce the stuff of your sickness for the world to enjoy while your life spirals out of control in torturous depression? Except I'm producing nothing for the world to enjoy.

The philanderer and the jezebel hold the reigns of power and control procreation. The romantic votary is hopelessly outgunned. The predictibility and devotion of the latter acts as a stabilizer on a macro level, but for an individual on the losing side it's absolute misery. Who wants to carry such an unglorious cross? No wonder so many people do not want to deal with evolution as it relates to humans. It sucks.

Do I believe in love? Yeah, I believe that it's love that keeps beating me down.

(Frivolty)

Friday, May 12, 2006

WSJ continues to moderate

An interesting exhibition of Quixotism versus Reality in yesterday's WSJ:
I had an unusual encounter with an illegal immigrant. He was only 25, from Guatemala, and had been in the U.S. for only three months. He'd been doing landscaping work until he was admitted to Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut, with an excruciating headache. The medical team discovered that he had active tuberculosis, so fulminant that it had even invaded his spinal fluid...

I took the patient to the operating room and spent the rest of my Sunday in the hospital. I wasn't thrilled. I wore a special mask designed to hug the face tighter than most OR masks, but the thought crossed my mind that I was putting myself and the entire OR staff at risk. I made the longest incision I'd ever made in my surgical career, carefully opened 10 segments of spine, and worked away at the inflammatory mass that was plastered to his spinal cord. I called a pathologist in to examine the pieces of specimen I was removing. He heard the full story, refused to contaminate his equipment, and left...

Why should our hospitals have to eat the cost of disease brought in by undocumented workers? I found out that his bill totaled $200,000. This excludes professional fees, meaning everything that would have been billed separately by the many physicians treating him over 10 weeks (including what I'd have charged for surgery). We all worked for him free. How many other diseases are being brought in by how many other undocumented and unexamined workers?
Good question. One in seven Asian immigrants in New York City carries hepatitis B. Illnesses we thought had been vanquished from the developed world are creeping back in. Hepatitis A, measles, rubella, shigellosis, rabies, and brucellosis are all disproportionately high in the US along the US-Mexico border. In addition to importing poverty, we are also importing disease.

Conscientious commentators opposed to open borders usually make security arguments because although these reveal a fascistic streak, they're generally not quite excommunicable in the eyes of the big lie orthodoxy. The opiner, it is assumed, will be placated if we just hire a few more Border Patrol agents. The disease polemic is riskier because the logical conclusion is to either vaccinate all of the third world and then let it in or keep it out all together. So the author's "epiphany" near the end of the editorial isn't surprising:
I thought I'd never see this young man again, but I was wrong. Six months after surgery, he walked into my office. Walked in. No wheelchair, no walker, no cane, not even a limp. Not only that, he told me (through a translator) that he was looking for a new job. I thought about all the American workers I'd operated on, for far less serious problems, who were quick to bring in disability paperwork after surgery, hoping I'd deem them permanently disabled, unfit for any line of work. And at that moment, the resentment I'd felt six months earlier was replaced by something quite different--admiration.
Should have known working class natives would be spit on sooner or later. These obsequious serfs, unable even to give the aristocracy lip, are pretty durable! These are the good souls. Indeed, the open border crowd wants dirt cheap labor at the expense of technological innovation and a society where the distance between the haves and the have-nots is ever expanding. Democratic pols should be licking their chops. Of course, at five dollars an hour under the table, I can't help but wonder how long our Guatemalan pal will have to be slaving in the US before he kicks back the $200,000-plus through sales tax collections from McDonald's.

The WSJ is making progress. The departure of the contumeliously open borders George Melloan and the overwhelming dissatisfaction of the public over immigration has helped. This is encouraging, because the WSJ is the only major newspaper that has a chance of tackling immigration empirically. Recently, the op/ed board ran a piece that mentioned how little Mexican immigrants add to the nation's GDP:
The overall effect of Mexican immigration on the U.S. economy is trivial -- almost certainly less than one-tenth of 1% of GDP. Moreover, to the degree that Mexican immigration makes some industries more internationally competitive, it does so by reducing the wages of the U.S.-born workers in those industries. The reduction is not trivial. Careful research done by Harvard's George Borjas indicates that Mexican immigration has caused a 7% decline in the wages of U.S.-born high school dropouts, and a 1% decline in the wages of workers with only a high school diploma. Score one for the hard-liners on immigration.
This is a substantial shift for a paper that only months ago refused to acknowledge that real restrictionist arguments even existed, smearing their "isolationist" purveyors as a "small but vocal" minority". The shift is welcomed.

(Immigration)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Border Patrol quislings

I wonder how Senate "compromisers" will deflect this:
While Minuteman civilian patrols are keeping an eye out for illegal border crossers, the U.S. Border Patrol is keeping an eye out for Minutemen -- and telling the Mexican government where they are.

According to three documents on the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Web site, the U.S. Border Patrol is to notify the Mexican government as to the location of
Minutemen and other civilian border patrol groups when they participate in apprehending illegal immigrants -- and if and when violence is used against border crossers.
My Spanish is feeble, but even I can pick up the gist of the Foreign Relations site. The Minutemen are vigilantes and the rights of Mexican "connacionales" must be protected. The increminating suggestion that violence is a Minuteman tactic is risible, considering how immaculately the Minutemen have conducted themselves while the accounts of property and livestock damage, littering, trespassing, and other crimes committed by the aliens are a plenty.

US Customs isn't trying to hide what's going on:
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman confirmed the notification process, describing it as a standard procedure meant to reassure the Mexican government that migrants' rights are being observed.
The Mexican government is not a friend. Mexico exports its social problems to the US and gets $17 billion in remittances for doing so. Mexico doesn't want to aid us in the drug war. Mexico doesn't believe in our sovereignty. Why is the US government concerned about reassuring the Mexican government when at home the populous is overwhelmingly unassured (from Parapundit):
Thirteen percent of respondents in a new Zogby Interactive poll approved of Mr. Bush's handling of immigration, and 9 percent approved of his handling of border security. Among conservative and very conservative people, he was below 25 percent.
Treacherous. The Minutemen have been incredibly effective in halting the influx where they've been on post. Administration marionettes in the Border Patrol (these are supervisors--much of the information exposing the government's dereliction has come from anonymous BP agents who fear reprisal for telling the truth) have tried hard to downplay the Minutemen's success. They are lying. If concerned citizens can put a dent in the flow of impoverished lawlessness into the US, obviously our government can almost stop it cold. We need a wall. While it's being built, we need the National Guard to back up the Border Patrol.

(Immigration)

Monday, May 08, 2006

Mexican prosperity to bring more immigrants, not less

Open border advocates like to deflect criticism directed at Latin America from restrictionists by stating that we need to help those to the south by ensuring that these countries are prosperous with lots of economic growth. One wonders how taking millions of "hard workers" from these countries each year is aiding that goal. And one should also wonder whether a wealthier Latin America attenuates or augments the flow of workers into the US:
For years, economists and politicians have said the solution to surging emigration is prosperity at home. If Mexico and other Latin American nations that send millions of migrants to the U.S. could grow fast enough, the theory goes, their residents wouldn't head north for work...

Now the theory looks wrong -- or at least simplistic. Emigration often surges along with economic development. In an expanding economy, would-be migrants gain the skills at home that pay better abroad. They also are better able to save the relatively modest sums -- $200 for a cut-rate airline ticket; $1,000 or so for a reliable border-crossing guide -- that workers looking to enter a better labor market need to take their skills north.

The theory propagated, true to its Marxist form, is missing the crucial element of cultural, in addition to being incomplete (the migration curve is not linear, it's S-shaped). As the US increasingly resembles Latin America, the wage premium required to entice migrants to head north will decline. The pressure to assimilate, having been under siege for forty years, is moribund in the Southwest. Instead, the white middle class, unable to assimilate to the border states' level of Hispanicization, is heading into America's interior. Meanwhile, growth in the sending countries make it easier for aliens to get into the US.

It's easy to comprehend why a small premium is necessary to get low-skilled laborers to come to Los Angeles. If you lived in the rust belt and made $20,000 a year, would you move to Chicago for $100,000 a year, free education, and free healthcare? What if, having arrived, your child would enable you to bring your extended family in as well? If your rust belt wages rose to $25,000 annually, would that dissuade you from Chicago? Likely the only thing to stop you would be physical barriers keeping you out or the fear that after arriving you'd be forcibly repatriated. Your decision might be effected, however, if the destination was Osaka instead of Chicago. Well, four in ten Mexicans--about 41 million people--see the US as Chicago, not Osaka:
Meanwhile, separate PHC surveys conducted in Mexico show that about four of every ten adults in the Mexican population say they would migrate to the United States if they had the means and opportunity and that two of every ten are inclined to live and work here without legal authorization. The willingness to migrate, even illegally, is evident in all sectors of Mexican society including the middle class and the well-educated as well as those who are poor and who only completed low-levels of schooling.
Make the US a Mexico with higher wages and more handouts, and unsurprisingly much of Mexico will want to come to the US. With a PPP of $10,100, Mexico is one of the wealthiest countries in Latin America. So it's likely that the proportion of the populations in other Latin American countries wanting to come to the US is even higher than in Mexico. Thankfully, Mexico's border with Guatemala is less porous than the Mexican-US border, making it more difficult to get from Central America to Mexico than from Mexico into the US!

When will the free flow stop? Only when equilibrium is reached:
Call it the Development Paradox. The more conditions in "sender" countries improve, the more emigrants those countries will send, at least until living standards in sending and receiving countries achieve rough parity.
That's a long way off, even if we fallaciously ignore differences in IQ. The most conceivable process toward equilibrium is not a progression of the standard of living in poorer countries, but a regression in wealthier ones. Who wants equilibrium? Do we want an average IQ of 90? A life expectancy of 64 years? A literacy rate of 82%? A per capita purchasing power under $10,000? We do better in all these categories. Why regress toward them?

(Immigration)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Senescence soaks the private sector too

FASB has begun the process of instituting an accounting rule change that will bring the true cost of company benefit plans (pensions, post-retirment healthcare plans, etc) from the labyrinthal footnotes to the easily observable balance sheet:

The FASB today issued a proposal that would improve financial reporting by requiring employers to recognize the overfunded or underfunded positions of defined benefit postretirement plans, including pension plans ("plans"), in their balance sheets. The proposal would also require that employers measure plan assets and obligations as of the date of their financial statements. The proposed changes would increase the transparency and completeness of financial statements for shareholders, creditors, employees, retirees, donors, and other users.
Currently, companies report a number in the balance sheet that paints a misleadingly rosy picture of the firm's financial health with regards to its employee post-retirement healtcare and pension obligations. The net funded status of the plans is recorded in the footnotes, but the number reported in the balance sheet is increased by an accounting for "unrecognized actuarial losses and prior service costs". This adjustment is not substantative--it is purely a paper change. These unrecognized losses and service costs stem from large obligation increases (medical care and medicinal cost increases, longer life expectancies, etc) that are very real.

Rather than record these obligation increases as they become known, GAAP rules allow companies to amortize these losses over many years. But the funded status (the number reported in the notes but not on the balance sheet) is computed using the present value of future obligations and then comparing it to the present value of plan assets. That is, it already treats an employee twenty years from retirement as a lesser expense than an employee five years from retirement, even though the former is going to ultimately be more costly. There is no logical reason these companies should be able to defer costs even further out. Because obligations have tremendously outgrown predicted cost trends (most of the post-retirement cost is attributable to health care costs) while assets have remained steady or underperformed (especially earlier this decade), we have an accounting deferral of costs that are quite real in the present.

The balance sheet (from which most of the important financial ratios are calculated) gives an impression tantamount to one declaring that Social Security is a valuable financial asset for the federal government because in 2005 it took in more revenue than it paid in outlays. If you found out your wife had cancer in December and that half your net worth of $500,000 was going to go for treatment next year, would you conduct yourself as if you had $500,000 or $250,000 in savings? If you found out a week later that total treatment costs would actually come to $400,000, would you alter your financial plans again or pretend that you still had $250,000 to play with?

Below are DJIA companies, with the net funded status of each company's post-retirement/pension obligations (in millions), how it is recorded on the balance sheet (in millions), and how much total liabilities will increase by with the FASB proposal, respectively (all '05 except GM, ATT, and Delta, which are from '04):

Honeywell: (1,515), 2,057: 16.98%
GE: (1,700), 11,060: 2.3%
Kellogg's: (764.7), 583.3: 16.26%
3M: (1,990), 2,427: 42.42%
GM*: (65,075), 6,706: 15.55%
ATT*: (1,606), 1,125: 10.59%
Boeing: (9,675), 6,629: 33.27%
IBM: (8,863), 14,933: 32.75%
Delta*: (7,133), (3,183): 14.74%
Alcoa: (5,495), (2,266): 17.03%
Pfizer: (5,283), (619): 8.98%
Coke: (1,172), (461): 5.44%
P&G: (3,433), (1,388) : 4.64%
J&J: (3,746), (682): 14.94%
Disney: (2,452), (371): 7.72%

For some of these companies, the increase now recorded is several times more than the last fiscal's net income (Boeing's change is six times NI, Alcoa's and IBM's are both three times). The forward-looking assumptions used to present value future costs also raise an eyebrow (basically the same for all public-traded companies):
The assumed healthcare cost trend rate is assumed to decrease to 8.50% for 2006, then decline gradually to 5% by 2013 and remain level thereafter.
Healthcare cost year-over-year growth has decreased since 2002, but the baby-boomers who are set to receive all of these benefits haven't yet hit seventy, when healthcare costs really start to skyrocket (p8). When the number of septuagenarians jumps in a decade, will 5% really be accurate (keep in mind that the difference between a long-term trend of 10% and of 5% is the difference between doubling every 7 versus every 14 years)?

The FASB proposal will not physically change anything but what shows up on paper (although this will include an unfavorable change in the debt/equity ratio that banks use to determine interest rates for lessees/debtors). Theoretically, the market should have already priced this stuff in. But big industry and unions are strongly opposed to it. It's no longer an obscure footnote--it's out in the open for the public to dwell on. Most Americans are cognizant of the fact that Social Security and Medicare are in trouble, but how many realize that the programs are underfunded (in present value terms) by an estimated $74 trillion? That is, to meet the obligations as they stand, we need each resident to cough up $246,700 today--the longer we wait, the more that will be required per capita.

What are companies doing to reign this in? The same thing President Bush tried unsuccessfully to do in 2004--replacing defined benefit plans with defined contribution plans. Microsoft and Walmart, for example, do not have material defined benefit plans at all. Newer companies are wisely avoiding this crippling burden altogether. As in politics, it is easier for management (especially of publicly-traded firms that face execrable short-term pressure) to offer things now and figure out how to pay for them later. Defined contribution plans, on the other hand, force companies to come up with the money right away and owe nothing more than what has thus far been contributed.

The developed world is ill-prepared for the effects of an aging population. We know the freight train is coming but we're not doing anything to avoid being hit, even as pessimistic forecasts about costs are revealed to have been overly optimistic. The Social Security reform debate is dead. The profligate prescription drug benefit plan that is so bemusing and ineffective that the government is having to take out paid advertisements just to get people to sign up (only government would take out ads instructing people on how to plunder it) has added another $8 trillion or so to the long-term cost of Medicare. On the bright side, at least it is helping lots of companies like Boeing:
"The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 reduced our APBO [accumulated postretirement benefit obligation] by $439 [million]..."
... and IBM:
"In connection with the Medicared Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, the company is expected to receive a federal subsidy of approximately $400 million to subsidize the prescription drug coverage provided by the US nonpension postretirement benefit plan..."
I'm worried about my ability to raise a family when all of these obligations catch up with us.

(Economy)