Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Public steadfast in opposition to Senate amnesty

The supercilious condescension and moral posturing of political elites who are pushing S1348 are finding the American public to be intractable:
Overall, despite a major push by the President and others over the past week, support for the Senate bill has not increased at all. In polling conducted last night (Tuesday, May 29), 26% of voters favor passage of the bill. That’s unchanged from the 26% support found in polling conducted the previous Monday and Tuesday. Forty-eight percent (48%) of voters remain opposed.
Most Americans correctly believe a repeat of the 1986 amnesty, albeit on a larger scale, will have similar consequences to that bill. Namely, they think it will increase illegal immigration:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 16% of American voters believe illegal immigration will decline if the Senate bill is passed. Seventy-four percent (74%) disagree. That figure includes 41% who believe the Senate bill will actually lead to an increase in illegal immigration.
As is standard in the immigration debate, the more informed one is, the less likely he is to support the open borders amnesty:

Eighty-one percent (81%) of American voters are closely following news stories about the issue, including 37% who are following it Very Closely. Those with the highest interest in the issue oppose the legislation by a 3-to-1 margin (69% to 23%). By a 55% to 15% margin, those following the story Very Closely believe the bill will lead to increased levels of illegal immigration.
In the national poll Rasmussen conducted last week, 72% of those surveyed stated the primary need for tougher enforcement. Overwhelmingly, Americans do not buy the non sequitur that somehow tougher enforcement, greater punitions for employers, and a wall along the border are impossible unless the 12 to 20 million-plus illegal immigrants already in the US are amnestied.

Political partisans on both sides, even if they are opposed to several aspects of the bill, are apparently more likely to subordinate their own concerns for the (perceived in the case of Republicans) political benefit of their parties:

Unaffiliated voters are now more opposed to the bill than either Republicans or Democrats. Among those who don’t identify with either of the major parties, 22% support the Senate bill while 57% are opposed.

It may also be that party members tend to get their information from sources sympathetic to the political party they support, and are less hostile to the bill in light of the spin they're receiving about it.

How refreshing to see polling of this nature done. Instead of composing questions that misrepresent what the legislation will actually do, and then using the results of such a sloppy proxy as if they indicate support for a bill that wasn't asked about, instead of grouping several potentially unpalpable questions into a single, binary question when inquiring about greater restriction while separating questions into small chunks when inquiring about support for 'comprehensive' reform, Rasmussen is simply asking respondents whether or not they support the Senate bill. And the respondents are thunderously saying they do not.

Rasmussen also helps dispel the myth that because most Americans say they'd be willing to support 'comprehensive' reform so long as it guaranteed tougher enforcement and greater future restriction, it is also what most Americans feel is most ideal. While 72% feel tougher enforcement is of paramount importance, only 29% think some sort of legalization is of great importance.

The pragmatic 'comprise' most Americans are willing to go along with is that which stops the unfettered inundation of the US with impoverished, culturally-backward, uneducated, intellectually uncurious, low IQ, diseased Hispanic hordes. They're willing to sacrifice a little to make that a reality. It doesn't mean they want an amnesty. Tamar Jacoby knows that, and it's why she is too pusillanimous to craft questions that actually ask it.

Monday, May 28, 2007

HBD and economists' gullibility

The story is a little old now, but a week ago the edifying Fat Knowledge posted on the results of a study from an Ohio State University Professor purporting to show a surprising lack of relationship between wealth and IQ.

When crunched for time when reading, I don't always get to the primary sources cited, as was the case with this post. But the claim immediately struck me as absurd--to even be remotely possible, retirement vehicles and home equity had to have been exempted. When I returned to the post a few days later, FK had investigated a little deeper and found that the assertions were basically bunk.

The study's author, Jay Zagorsky, controlled for several factors that proxy for IQ, including divorce rates (making personal sacrifices, waiting for the right person to tie the knot with), years of education (duh), inheritance (the heritability of IQ is generally considered to be around .75-.85), and occupation (because intelligence has nothing to do with whether you choose to be a molecular engineer or a roofer?)! That's like stating that there is no difference between the average height of Chinese peasant farmers and NBA players if you control for shoe size, the femur weight, and pant length.

This evening, I scrolled through the comments on Harvard Economics Professor Greg Mankiw's blog from which FK excerpted.

As a disclaimer, I come in unimpressed with the Prof. When John Kerry loaded the straw that ended his '08 Presidential campaign by insinuating that military personnel are dunces, Mankiw sloppily ran a couple of 'opposing' viewpoints without weighing in himself. I threw my two cents in, pointing out that the DoDEA performs well on the NAEP--its Hispanics and blacks are at the top of their class, and its whites rank third when compared to the other 50 states.

I received no response. Maybe vanity is coloring my irritation, but if military personnel are hopeless dolts, why are their children the smartest the US has to offer? Seems like something that should at least be considered.

To the thrust: Not only is Mankiw's facile vetting of the post embarrasing, the vacuousity with which the vast majority of the commenters approach the subject is startling. Most of them take the 'conclusion' (which Mankiw presents without caveat) as veracious and then proceed to spew silly nostrums about what really matters in wealth accumulation.

Why, in addition to immigration, are economists so stupid in dealing with IQ?

There's the tacit acknowledgement that the wealth of guys like Mankiw attained their stations due to prudent decision-making and hard work rather than the natural talents they were born with. Of course, smart decisions and hard work played a role--but they were underwritten by innate abilities. Being content with that tacit acknowledgement is understandable--that self-made diligence is why Beethoven's lifestory is more admirable than Mozart's.

Another partial answer comes from the similarities that the immigration and IQ issues share--they both inescapably deal with the realities of human biodiversity. Economists think in terms of blank-slatist models, in which humans (or any other vector) receive various levels of inputs and correspondingly produce outputs based on the quantity and composition of those inputs. The inputs are virtually always limited to the extraneous external environment--years of education, years of work experience, exposure to pollutants, etc--and thus can be (favorably or unfavorably) altered at any time. Changing the social system (more affordable education, better work-training programs, etc) becomes the only thing of importance.

Parenthetically, while WSJ editorialists advocate a free-flow of people in tandem with arguing for freer markets and social systems, their assumptions blind them to the fact that the free-flow of those people are going to make their jobs arguing for more liberality increasingly difficult. Similarly, European leftists waving in immigrants from the Muslim world are foolishly dooming the quasi-socialist libertine societies they love. While the WSJ-types hold that there is a universally optimal way for people to make it in life, and the leftists hold that there is no optimal way for a person to live, I hold that there is a universal 'best course' but that it varies contingent upon the makeup of the individual. It's a sort of biological reincarnation of Luther's vocational calling.

So what if the average Mexican migrant has an educational attainment equivalent to the 8th grade? We can get him his GED and some years in college and he'll make big bucks. Even if he doesn't, his kids will be able to as well as any other Joe American does. Of course, we know this isn't the case and it's obvious as to why it's not.

Mankiw and other elite economists are happy to accept the Ohio University study findings, as they suggest that other more malleable inputs--the informational kind of which they dispense--are what truly determines success.

Talk about anecdotal evidence that smart students graduate from Harvard because smart students go to Harvard, rather than because Harvard makes students smart!

But this is another illustration of how they are so often wrong. A couple of major international phenomona are going to further undermine the free-market behavioralist position: China's triumph over India in terms of economic strength and international influence, and post-Kim Jung Il North Korea's supercharged ascent up the development ladder--an ascent that will surpass that of anything de Soto's home country of Peru will be able to do.

Grappling with the social sciences does not necessitate a suspension of 'layman' heuristics like many of the hard sciences (quantum physics) do. Because it's closer to the 'human experience' than say, a hard science like astrophysics, you should leverage what 100,000 years of evolution has primed you to be. It's generally referred to as 'common sense'.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Immigration and tuberculosis

The immigration debate is generally argued with three attributes in mind: Economics (giving businesses access to low-cost labor vs inhibiting innovation, greater wealth transfers, and taxpayer subsidization), morality (helping the destitute foreigner vs opposition to making life even more precarious for the native poor), and social culture (diversity vs cohesion).

The resurgence of various diseases that had been all-but eradicated in the US is a dynamic that is often overlooked. But in a world where a couple of people biting the bullet due to bad spinach is enough to top the news cycle for several days, it shouldn't be.

Chagas, a parasite that feeds on vital internal organs of the host, isn't something Hispanic peasants coming into the US are adopting, as I opined about a few months ago:
More disturbing than what it does or who it affects is how it is contracted--through oral-fecal transmission. It is most common in third-world countries where pigs are allowed to roam and have access to human fecal material. In the great circle of life, the pigs eat the night soil, and then the people eat the pigs. Then they come to the US and work in the restaurant industry, bringing their unique hygienic practices--consisting of irregular washing of hands or clothes--and spreading the tapeworm to the consuming public. The world's leading economy, on the cutting edge of technology, is taking in folks who let the swine they eat feast on human feces.
Other diseases, like gonorrhea, syphilis, vicious bed bugs, and hepatitis, are being brought back into the US as well. The existence of these atavistic diseases stateside isn't inevitable. Indeed, it's easily preventable: Stop illegal immigration by building a multi-layered wall, deporting those who reveal themselves to be illegal (during routine traffic violations, Census-taking, or applying for work), enforcing stiff punitions against employers who hire illegal workers, and by mandating that local law enforcement report to ICE the status of anyone whose residency status is in question. At the same time, institute a merit immigration point system (theoretically similar to what S1348 contains) based on occupation, age, English language fluency, education, means, IQ, criminal history, and physical health. Award legal status to the top scorers. Screen out any potential migrant who carries one of the ailments mentioned above.

Tuberculosis is another traveller from the past who has decided to extend its range back into the US:
Tuberculosis cases in King County this year have doubled compared with the same period last year, and health officials say foreign-born residents with the disease are having a significant impact.

Another example of cultural enrichment for sure.

Immunization administered during childhood protects most natives from the disease, and consequentially while the number of infected migrants is rising, the prevelance among natives remains steady at fewer than 3 in 100,000. Among the foreign-born, it is nearly nine times more common. And because adults cannot be immunized, they must undergo a costly, lengthy medley of antibiotic treatments, many of which can include tragic side effects, including hospitalization and even death. This burden is being felt by Government Health administrators:

Because the disease is well-monitored, authorities don't think there is an imminent threat of increased spread to other parts of the community. But they say they're swamped with work as they try to manage the disease.

"We need more help," said Dr. Masa Narita, director of TB control for Public Health - Seattle & King County.

From taxpayers or the Border Patrol? Charitably treating, via the public dole, those afflicted with maladies that are less manageable in underdeveloped countries has an obvious humanitarian argument that can be employed in support of doing it (in riposte, of course, one can point to the American taxpayer's generous funding of UNICEF or the donations of private citizens to Doctors Without Borders). But that it is occuring, and that it is sucking up limited resources, are facts that should be part of the public discourse in the immigration debate.

We can easily protect ourselves from these maladies. That most of our political leaders and cultural elites are opposed to doing so--or even entertaining the possibility of doing so--illustrates a malevolent hositility toward the average native.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Angry Video Game (Nintendo) Nerd

For readers roughly between the ages of 19-30 for whom the eight-bit holds a significant place in their hearts, I link to the pseudononymous Angry Video Game Nerd. If you weren't raised on the NES, however, you won't get much from watching him.

He tackles several awful games and gets them right across the board--including his praise for DuckTales, which, despite sounding as though it'd be a monstrosity, was actually a blast--but he knocks the -quels out of the park. The high expectations created by the first in a series coupled with the slimmer budgets and shoddier construction of those that follow (which are generally pushed out as a way of milking a moribund cash cow) tees the Nerd up beautifully.
The Double Dragon III and Castlevania II reviews are my personal favorites, if you want a quick flavor of this wacky guy's creations. The wit and wackiness aside, I could've written the narrations for these two myself (minus the four-letter vulgarity that could be done without). The two-part series on the monumental disappoinment that is TMNT III (the movie) is entertaining as well.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

French government to pay legal immigrants to go home

Sarkozy's Administration is serious about retaining French demographic and cultural identity. His minister of immigration, Brice Hortefeux, has confirmed government plans to pay legal immigrants to return to their countries of origin:
Under the scheme, Paris will provide each family with a nest egg of €6,000 ($8,000) for when they go back to their country of origin.
Depositing the stipend at a bank in the migrant's home country is prudent. In addition to helping insure those who're paid to leave actually do head back home, it will also increase support for the initiative in the governments of those countries relative to simply giving the stipend to the migrant and telling him to be on his way. From the Morrocan government's perspective, France is saying: "This guy left your country a few years ago. Now he's coming back. Congratulations, your economy just received an $8,000 injection for free."

Critics will argue that $8,000 comes nowhere near making up for the entitlements to be accrued by a migrant who elects to remain in France. Stateside, low-skilled workers create an annual net taxpayer liability of over $22,000 per capita. While ascertaining demographic attributes in France is even more difficult than in the US, since the French government doesn't inquire about the race or ethnicity of its residents, in 2002 a private thinktank found that half of the foreign-born in France do menial jobs compared to the one-quarter of natives who do, are twice as likely to be unemployed as their native cohorts, and are three times as likely as natives to make only the minimum wage. The French entitlement structure is even more generous to the impoverished than the one in the US is. So it's safe to assume that for most of the migrants the new initiative will apply to, recouping the $8,000 given up will only take a matter of months.

Undoubtedly, $8,000 is a bargain from a French economic perspective. But that's exactly why Sarkozy is right to give it a shot. And a couple of factors are working in his favor.

The difference between real purchasing power and the official exchange rate for money moving from a developed nation like France to virtually anywhere in northern Africa or the Near East is going to differ substantially, to the benefit of those returning home to enjoy their deposit. In Azerbaijan, for example, that $8,000 will buy about as much stuff as $35,000 will buy in France. And with a per capita income of $7,300, the stipend will be akin to a 13-month severance pay back home.

Also, those most likely to take the offer will also be the migrants France wants most to be rid of. Whether it be because the migrant is desperately in need of money, isn't intelligent enough to realize that getting couple marshmallows down the road is better than snatching a single marshmallow now, or is so alienated by French cultural values that he can't bear to stay, his departure is especially propitious for France.

Notice that the proposed stipend is for legal immigrants. For those who've entered the country illegally, the Sarkozy government is unequivocally opposed to any sort of amnesty:
Hortefeux is also talking tough when it comes to dealing with illegal immigration, insisting that there are no plans for a mass legalization of the estimated 200,000 to 400,000 illegals in France.
Contrast that to the disaster our derelict elites are trying in secret to force upon us. Sarkozy has frequently been portrayed as being amiable toward the US, claiming his nation can learn a few things from us. I'd say we can learn a few things from France as well. Perhaps other Congressional representatives will pick up on what most of the GOP Presidential contenders already have--flooding the US with low-skilled, unhealthy, uneducated, impoverished, culturally-backward third-worlders for the short-term benefit of big business and long-term gain of big government entitlements is not something the public wants any part of, and that if you force it upon us, there will be hell to pay.

Hortefeux echoes a common complaint heard from immigration reformists in the US:
The new minister voiced concern that the majority of legal immigration into France was that of existing immigrants bringing in relatives, while only a small proportion were granted visas due to their professional skills.

"To be integrated, you need language skills and a professional activity," he told RFI, and said he is considering introducing a language test to prospective immigrants.
This is so blatantly obvious. A nation should 'recruit' people for the same reason any other entity does--to benefit the entity. Whether it be a sports team, a business, or an elite university, these entities want people who'll increase their success, their profitability, and their prestige. The desirable standard of living that the nations of the Occident can boast should be leveraged as a competitive advantage to take in the most prosperous, assimilated immigrants possible.

For the French plan to be effective, of course, a severe restricting of family-based naturalization will have to be enforced, and tougher measures will have to be taken to remove illegal immigrants already in the country as well as to keep more illegal immigrants from coming in. Fortunately, that stance is gaining momentum across the EU.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tide turning against S1348 disaster

To those who called, faxed, and emailed your Congressional representatives: Good work!

The disastrous S1348 has been pushed back out to sea. It won't be voted on until next month (instead of next week), and it's already being assaulted by amendments in the Senate, the chamber generally more supportive of unfettered open borders:
The Senate voted Wednesday to slash the number of foreign workers who could come to the U.S. on temporary visas as part of a broad bipartisan immigration bill.

A new guest worker program would be capped at 200,000 a year under the proposal, which passed 74-24 over strong opposition by the Bush administration.
The original bill would've actually allowed for 600,000 "guest workers", contingent upon the economy's "need" for them.

The longer it takes for a vote, the greater the chance the bill won't even make it to the House. Keep letting your representatives you want to know more about this proposal, that you're opposed to amnesty, and that you want restricted, merit-based immigration policies that benefit natives.

++Addition++The public is strongly opposed to the Senate bill:
Initial public reaction to the immigration proposal being debated in the Senate is decidedly negative.

A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey conducted Monday and Tuesday night shows that just 26% of American voters favor passage of the legislation. Forty-eight percent (48%) are opposed while 26% are not sure.
Greater numbers of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents oppose the bill than support it.

Americans are concerned about border enforcement. They do not buy the non sequitur that immigration restriction is somehow impossible without first dealing with the illegal population already in the US:
The enforcement side of the debate is clearly where the public passion lies on the issue. Seventy-two percent (72%) of voters say it is Very Important for “the government to improve its enforcement of the borders and reduce illegal immigration.” That view is held by 89% of Republicans, 65% of Democrats, and 63%
of unaffiliated voters.
While Bush wants a massive demographic reshaping of the US as part of his Presidential legacy, the public, which is consistently more supportive of an enforcement-only bill, sours on him even more every time "comprehensive" reform is in the news:
These survey results are consistent with other recent polling data showing that most Americans favor an enforcement-only reform bill. Support drops when a “path to citizenship” is added to the mix. President Bush’s Job Approval ratings dip every time comprehensive immigration reform tops the news.
Stay vigilant. Many of our leaders want to replace you with more docile, obsequious warm bodies who will enable them to increase their political power while undercutting the power of an independent middle class. But they don't want you to know what they're trying to do. And when the spotlight is shined on them, they feign to represent you once more.

Pew on Muslims in US

The invaluable Pew Research Center just released the most extensive survey of American Muslims conducted to date. The work is made even more insightful in light of the surveys Pew has conducted on and concerning other Muslim populations in the West. Predictably, the headlines of media sources that've picked up on it focus on the near economic parity of American Muslims with the rest of the country. But digging a little deeper reveals several points of interest.

As is the troubling case with Hispanic immigrants in the US, subsequent generations of Muslims are assimilating toward the norms of the native underclass. While only 45% of the foreign-born are dissatisfied with the state of the US, a full 77% of the native-born are. While the foreign-born generally believe Muslims should attempt adopt American customs and cultural norms (47% to 21%), slightly more of the native-born Muslim population wants the Islamic community to remain distinct from the mainstream (38% to 37%) than wants it to assimilate.

The reason for the trend, similar to one that occurs among Hispanic immigrants, is that the absolute gains in terms of access to better schools, healthcare, infrastructure, and wages realized in coming to the US are enough to offset the 'short-changing' of Islamic culture and the perceived inequities between American Muslims and non-Muslims for first-generation migrants. Subsequent generations who've not experienced the relative hardships of home are less gracious and more demanding.

More happily, US Muslims are more industrious and less hostile to the Occident than European Muslims are. The reasons are at least twofold: For one, closer proximity to the places of origin means Europe tends to get more of the Islamic norm, whereas the greater hassle of crossing an ocean to come to the US and the lack of numerous large Islamic communities in America selects for a more secularized, successful migrant in the US. Secondly, the relative lack of parallel societies in the US as compared to Europe necessitates more assimilation to the host society.

Of course, as the number of Muslims in the US continues to grow, American Muslims will increasingly come to resemble European Muslims. Already, the newer crop of Muslims in the US are farther removed from the American mainstream than those who've come before.

Among those between the ages of 18-29, 42% reported that they believed people had been more suspicious of them due to their Islamic identity, compared to only 29% of those 30 years or older. Conversely, 48% of young Muslims said people have been more supportive of them because of who they are, compared to 28% of those 30 years or older who felt the same way.

In other words, younger Muslims in America are more aware of and sensitive to their Islamic identities than older Muslims are. Increasing numbers of Muslims, technological advances that allow geographically disparate groups to retain ever-stronger relationships with one another, the inevitable continuing conflict between the Occident and the burgeoning Islamic world, and the continued encouragement of parallelism given by leftist elites and academia are only going to bring greater ethnic and cultural solidarity at odds with the values of the host communities.

The average American Muslim's perspective on the War on Terror further delegitimizes the quixotic neocon notion that the appeal of universal liberalism trumps all ethnic and cultural ties, even in the eyes of groups that voluntarily left those same ethnic and cultural ties in search of something better. While 45% of the general public feels going into Iraq was the right decision (this number is a little dated since it is partially comprised of data from 2004), 12% of Muslims in the US feel the same. Regarding the effort in Afghanistan, 61% of the general public is supportive compared to only 25% of Muslims in the US. And by the widest margin of all, 67% of the general public believes the War on Terror is a sincere effort to make the world a safer place, while only 26% of Islamic residents of the US do.

Astoundingly, most do not believe Arab men were behind 9/11--apparently only 40% of Muslims in America buy into the narrative of the nineteen hijackers!

In every way, young Muslims are more fervently Islamic than their secularized elders. And the US Muslim population is disproportionately young (30% between the ages of 18-29 compared to 21% of the general public) and male (54% to 48% of the general public). Fifteen percent of Muslims between the ages 18-29 believe suicide bombings are often justified. Even as youthfulness and secularization are strongly correlated in the US, the trend runs in the opposite direction among Muslims. This isn't assimilation, and it suggests a future Islamic-American community more distinct from the rest of the US than it is today.

While more Muslims may obstensibly say they favor an adoption of American society (43% to 26%), those of all stripes in the US (irrespective of age or where they were born) are more likely to consider themselves Muslims first and Americans either second or not at all than they are to primarily consider themselves Americans, by a margin of 47% to 28%. This is especially pronounced among Muslims between the ages of 18-29, with a margin of 60% to 25%.

Relatedly, 61% of multiple-person households with at least one Muslim are entirely Muslim--only 23% are mixed, with at least one non-Muslim member living under the same roof. Given that they make up about .4% of the US population, this is voluntary segregation. We're witnessing the foundations for the creation of a parallel society of settlers, not immigrants.

A more globalized, interconnected world highlights a difficult Libertarian quandry--how to react to the free flow of people and ideas when those people and ideas are overwhelmingly in opposition to the Libertarian motto, "Live and let live"?

Like other third-world immigrants in the West, Muslim Americans favor a larger, more intrustive state structure that redistributes wealth to the poor and actively controls citizens' behavior (70% of Muslims in America favor a larger government, only 21% want it reduced in size; 59% want the government to be more involved in enforcing standards of morality on the citizenry, while 29% think the government should back off). Overwhelmingly, they favor Democrats (63% to the 11% who lean Republican).

Functioning libertarian (or socialist, for that matter) societies require a high IQ, individualistic, homogenuous population. The Libertarian open borders position works against such a society. Honest Libertarians must ask themselves whether they'd like to submit to a vigorous national sovereignty or throw out everything else they believe in, because the free flow of third-worlders into the US will work against virtually every political position they hold.

Finally, most conversions to Islam among formerly non-Muslim natives are made by young black men. This addition to the ummah is sure to make Islam more amiable in the eyes of the general public!

In recapitulation, the US' Muslim community is more functional and assimilated than the European Muslim community is. But as the American Muslim population expands in size and influence, the experiences of the US and Euorpe with regards to Muslims living in their midst will continue to converge.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Don't sit on the sidelines

... while America's future hangs in the balance. Call, fax, email. Find your representatives contact information here and here, or simply google "Senator John Doe" and find the contact link at his homepage.

Even with the cloture vote to force a hasty end to debate on S1348, there's been a groundswelling of popular opposition to the legislation. House representatives, being more geographically localized, are more beholden to the pulse of the people. They're also the folks who can stop this trainwreck dead in its tracks. Pressure them to do so!

I've called several Congressman this evening. Jeff Sessions DC mailbox was full! Apparently I'm not the only one going out-of-state to try and prod the heroic Senator into taking a stand similar to the one he took a year ago.

You might also leave a message for GOP Presidential hopefuls Brownback (voted to stifle debate) and McCain (intentionally avoided the vote) letting them know how you feel about their dereliction. McCain's DC and Phoenix voicemails were also stuffed. I had to go through the Tempe office just to leave a message!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Wall Street Journal op/ed board on S1348

The WSJ's op/ed on S1348:
On the plus side, the bill addresses the 12 million undocumented aliens living in the U.S. by providing a way for most to obtain legal status with minimal disruption to their lives or employers. ...

Restrictionists are calling this "amnesty," but they were going to slap that label on anything this side of mass deportation.

One of the most frustrating aspects of the immigration debate is how often restrictionists often approach the issue entirely (at least publicly) from a legalistic standpoint. Disregard for the law is irritating, but there are several other externalities that dwarf it as a consequence of our lax immigration policies.

Still, if what's bolded above isn't the definition of amnesty, I'm not sure what is. Yes, they should not be here! Yes, their employers should not be employing them! But not only must we refuse to punish them for it, we must do whatever is necessary to allow them to continue unabated!

Simultaneous 'Gestapo'-style raids by SWAT teams with guns blazing, targeting tens of millions of aliens and unfettered, open-bordered amnesty are not the only options available. The op/ed board notes that a minority of Americans favor the former, a point that is persistently trumpeted by the open borders crowd. But a smaller minority favors the latter, suggesting that if the question is posed in such a binary fashion, deportation will win out.

That's pedantic speculation, though. History suggests that for every illegal deported, seven or eight will leave voluntarily. Further, a few high-profile raids have led to a 30% year-over-year decrease in the number of apprehensions along the border--a reduction somewhere in the area of 75,000 fewer illegals stopped annually. No need to take to the field in full-force--a few crisp half-volleys in warm-up will do the trick.

Unbelievably, the board has the audacity to run another piece on the same print page entitled "Bernanke's False Dichotomy"! Staggering.

Another major part of the legislation is more problematic: This would shift immigration away from family ties and toward a merit-based model that favors better-educated immigrants with higher skills. The stated justification for this change is that the U.S. currently admits too few skilled workers due to unchecked "chain migration," which facilitates the entry of unschooled and unskilled kin.
I've long-argued for a merit-immigration system. The bill would put proportionally more emphasis on merit than family sponsorship, but chain migration visas would still outnumber merit visas by 170,000 annually, and the total number of visas issued each year would increase.
A blatant lie follows:
That's hard to credit, however, considering data that show the typical legal immigrant already has a higher skill level than the typical American.
According to the US Census' detailed report on America's foreign-born population, natives are more educated than their alien cohorts (p5). The percentages of attainment for each group follow:
Less than 9th grade
Foreign-born: 21.5%
Natives: 4.1%

9th to 12th grade (no diploma)
Foreign-born: 11.3%
Natives: 8.4%

High school graduate or some college
Foreign-born: 40.0%
Natives: 60.3%

Bachelor's degree or more:
Foreign-born: 27.3%
Native: 27.2%

The percentages of natives and the foreign-born, respectively, earning more than $50,000 a year: 44.0% and 38.6%.

Those numbers are buoyed enormously by European and Asian immigrants. The foreign-born from Latin America do not come, by any measure, anywhere near the success of natives. Latin American migrants are nearly three times as likely as natives to make less than $25,000 a year. Similarly, natives are three times as likely as Latin American migrants to make $50,000 or more per year. Keep in mind, that native figure is being weighed down substantially by the poor performance of American blacks.

The only way this disingenious assertion might be defended as veracious is if the op/ed board was referring specifically to those with post-graduate level educational attainment. Of course, among natives and the foreign-born alike, PhDs are not "typical". However, a rigorous and strictly-enforced merit immigration system could change that!

Gigot and company would never dream of running Dow Jones like it wants We The People to run the country. Give every applicant a job, even if he is sure to cost more in pay and benefits than he'll bring in through his production or if he is a raging Marxist who wants a maximum income of a few hundred thousand a year and the nationalization of every industry under the sun--hah! The boys won't even let their critics have a voice, unapologetically slandering Tom Tancredo and Lou Dobbs in the worst ways without granting either man a forum to respond.

Still, the op/ed board doesn't like the idea of running the world's largest economic unit like the businesses it champions run their own economic units.

Reading thus far had my Irish blood boiling. This paragraph relieved the tension, replacing it with astonishment:
Foreign workers make the U.S. more productive because they complement us at both the high and low ends of the skills spectrum. Remove the low-end leg of the stool, and you make the economy less productive and natives worse off. Why? Because we'll be using our human capital less efficiently. Natives may end up doing jobs they're overqualified to do, or those jobs will disappear altogether and diminish our quality of life.
Where to begin? Point by point: Low-skilled workers are less productive than high-skilled workers. They create less value. That's why they are paid less. To argue that more unskilled laborers will make the economy more productive than more high-skilled workers will is another blatantly incorrect assertion.

If unskilled immigrants make natives better off, then why are natives fleeing in droves from the same cities that are being flooded by immigrants? The op/ed board should ask Michael Barone for an answer.

The ultimate goal insinuated--to maximize per capita potential--is one few people consider paramount, economists especially. The goal should be to maximize productivity per capita.

The difference is crucial and obvious. Is it better to have a nation of menial laborers doing jobs that push their abilities to the max if those jobs consist of sweeping floors and digging holes, or is it better to have a nation of high-IQ individuals engaged in professional occupations, many of whom are building and programming machines and robots to do those same menial tasks, if some of the relatively less-endowed professionals are (reliably) sweeping floors and digging holes?

While the innovation is taking place, another rhetorical: Is it better to have an engineer with an IQ of 120 and a lawn care worker with an IQ of 80, or an engineer with an IQ of 140 and a lawn care worker with an IQ of 120? What an inane argument. Even tasks of minimal cognitive challenge are more efficiently and effectively completed by people of greater intelligence--in The Bell Curve, Murray and Herrnstein use the example of a busboy, but an infinite number of other unskilled tasks work the same way.

Is over-qualification a bad thing? So college kids shouldn't be working, I suppose. Nevermind that being overqualified is exactly the thing to spur people into doing something more productive, like starting a business or developing a more efficient production method. If a current taskload is absorbing every ounce of intellectual firepower that a person has, further innovation stagnates. That a putatively free-market mouthpiece would assume that total skill-level is a zero-sum game, in which there are a limited number of high-end positions and a set number of mindless jobs to be filled, brings to mind a question Steve Sailer habitually asks: "Why is it that smart economists' IQs drop 50 points when they try to think about immigration?"

None of the preceding repudiations even deal with 'non-economic' externalities like pollution, disease, cultural balkanization, and crime, where the real downside of unskilled third-world immigration comes into play.

The air-tight arguments keep coming:
Immigrants comprise 14% of U.S. workers, though everyone knows they're overrepresented in such lower-skill occupations as farming (47%), construction (27%), food preparation (24%) and custodial work (36%). Less well-known is that these are the same businesses that the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts will experience high demand for future jobs. Any "merit-based" system that is too rigid runs the risk of putting immigration policy out of sync with the needs of an expanding U.S. economy.
Because the BLS takes demographic trends into account! These are all warm-body industries--the more people, the greater the demand for them becomes. If the US decided, free-of-charge, to house the entire world's prison population within its borders, the very same domestic industries would grow by leaps-and-bounds.

A healthy nation is one in which high-value adding industries are growing faster than low-skilled inudstries are. Japan, with more than half the world's working robots, is mechanizing its way out of a need for menial labor. A Google search for "growing industries in Japan" brings up information on semiconductors, tech-sector manufacturing, cutting-edge entertainment, and medical devices.

The op/ed board also complains about the complexity of the bill, while the Chamber of Commerce is pleased with the Senate, astutely realizing that this complexity (those awarded "Y" visas would have to return to their countries of origin for a year in between stints in the US) is a guarantee that even these paltry restrictions will not be enforced.

If you haven't read the WSJ op/ed piece, do so now. While you're reading, remain cognizant of the fact that this is the best the open borders crowd can do. This is as convincing as they get. You're surveying the words of the top pontificators at the nation's second most circulated, and arguably the world's most influential, newspaper.

Yet the fluff is riddled with inaccuracies, employs little other than disparaging adjectives to smear the opponents whose arguments it won't touch, and fails to mention increased entitlement usage, greater criminality (a straight news feature on another page reports that the Department of Homeland Security estimates that 15%-20% of immigrants would be ineligible for "Z"--amnesty--visas due to their criminal records), lower IQ and educational attainment, greater income disparity, more poverty, more disease, less affordable living, increased gang activity, or any of the other negative externalities that characterize the US' current immigration situation.

This is a disaster we have to stop. The bill is heading to the Senate floor next week. Fire messages off to and call your Senators and House Representative, letting them know that a vote for this 'compromise' (changing laws that weren't enforced in the first place is a compromise?) is simultaneously a vote against them in all of their future re-election campaigns.

Friday, May 18, 2007

West Nile taking toll on several US birds

A pogrom is being executed against some of the most pleasant members of the US' ornithological community:

Several common species of North American birds have suffered drastic population declines since the arrival of the West Nile virus eight years ago, a new study has found.

Of the 20 species included in the study, American crows were the hardest hit, declining about 45 percent overall from 1998 to 2005. Populations of American robins, chickadees, eastern bluebirds, blue jays, tufted titmice and house wrens also dropped.
Crows are amazing birds, with complex social interactions and a keen intelligence that tops the avian world. Robins live almost exclusively on the insects that make going outdoors on a muggy summer evening a little less heavenly. Blue jays are mean pursuers of formidable bugs like wasps and bees. Wrens fly with an awing dexterity. The hit taken by the other songbirds listed means the sounds flowing in through the open window on a crisp spring morning are becoming a little less sweet.

The culprits are mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus, one of several diseases that has recently begun calling the US "home" (it was introduced domestically in the late nineties after hitching a ride on a travelling creature from Uganda) thanks to the free-flow of people and stuff into the country that our elites love so much.

With apologies to Peter Singer, I am a speciest. I want a counter-strike against mosquitoes. Time to lift the misguided ban on DDT. Bald Eagles have made a comeback. The possibility of a few frail eggs is a price worth paying to help sustain several members of the stuff raptors love to eat.

I don't expect any help from the environmentalist movement, which is too morally bankrupt to advocate a reduction in the inflow of people into the US and who are also irrationally opposed to other things beneficial to the quality of life for humans and the natural environment alike, such as nuclear power.

But I do have faith in the reslience of our avian pals, with the help of natural selection. Such a severe reduction in these birds' numbers makes it almost inevitable that resistance to West Nile virus is being selected for. There is already evidence that wrens and bluejays have turned the corner. I expect the others to follow suit. It's just a matter of how long it will take.

No more lost posts

I whine more than I should about Blogger, especially with regards to the sporadic disappearance of material I've been working on. After a little moaning, I recall Bart's exchange with Comic Book Guy over the quality of Itchy & Scratchy cartoons, and I become ashamed enough of myself to bite my tongue:
Bart: Hey, I know it wasn't great, but what right do you have to complain?

CBG: As a loyal viewer, I feel they owe me.

Bart: What? They've given you thousands of hours of entertainment for free. What could they possibly owe you? If anything, you owe them.

CBG: [pauses] Worst episode ever.

Blogger keeps getting better, and enjoying the fruits hasn't cost me a dime (in accounting cost, anyway!). Now, Google's free service has added an autosave function that records posts every minute. Even an ingrate like myself can deal with losing one minute of writing! Hurrah!

America's Best and Brightest

An article in USA Today celebrating the political fusion that helped construct the potentially disastrous S1348 gives a depressing description of two very prominent American politicians:
The two also have much in common personally. Both are sons of political families in which, for a time, each seemed the least likely to succeed.

Both were mediocre students at Ivy League universities: Bush jokes frequently about his academic performance at Yale; Kennedy was expelled from Harvard, though later readmitted. Both struggled with personal demons: Bush gave up alcohol at 40; Kennedy was involved in an automobile accident at 37 that resulted in the drowning of a female passenger.

Both are lightning rods. Former senator Alan Simpson, a Wyoming Republican who knows both, said they handle the withering and personal criticism in similar fashion: "They're both sensitive people. They both bruise easily and heal quick."
The Bush and Kennedy duo serve as a microcosm of the contemporary state of the US.

They've been given access to 'great' academic institutions, but constrained by modest intelligence, have failed in the halls of University, living now off the greatness their forefathers achieved. Rolling comfortably in the affluence that their ancestors toiled for isn't sufficient--they must also ensure that the prosperity enjoyed by others is transfered to other idle souls like their own. Never meaningfully censured for the sins of their pasts, they continue to perpetuate evils on a grander scale.

In the person of these two titular titans lies the frivolty of shallow egos, easily taking umbrage and just as easily forgetting why it was taken in the first place.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Senate to sell US future down the river

Our Senators do not represent the collective will of the US citizenry. This is amnesty:
The Senate deal would:

• Grant the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants legal status with an indefinitely renewable "Z" visa, and allow many to eventually apply for citizenship. They would have to pay $5,000 in fines to get the visa, and those seeking legal permanent residence would have to return to their home country to apply.
Assuming the bill retains most of its attributes after being kicked around in the House (remind new members of the Congressional class what they said about immigration during the '06 campaigns), expect 1986 all over again, albeit on a grander scale. Migrants will rush in from Central and South America, eager to be part of the 12 (20?) million (formerly) illegal immigrant cohort eligible for the perpetual visa.

Of course, there's no reason to believe that the uptick in ICE enforcement raids will continue once the Bush Administration gets the legislation that it wants. And there will be no way to verify when an immigrant arrived into the US.

A few may fork over $5,000 to facilitate being able to bring over friends and family more easily in the future. Most will see that whatever chance there was of sustainable, serious restriction has dissipated and that the doors are wide open. Some of the employers of those who were previously illegal will help their workers with a single $5,000 transfer to the government. It's chump change, as most of these menials create a net liability in the area of $22,000 annually. And as this newly-legalized underclass becomes eligible for a greater number of welfare benefits, its employers will be able to drop wages even lower, with the net taxpayer covering the difference.

The desire of our elites for open borders doesn't even make sense economically. It's certainly not good for healthcare, reducing crime rates, creating a trusting society, technological innovation, the US' average IQ, America's educational attainment, reducing pollution, obliterating atavistic diseases, or housing affordability.

This is a disaster we have to stop. The bill is heading to the Senate floor next week. Fire messages off to and call your Senators and House Representative, letting them know that a vote for this 'compromise' (changing laws that weren't enforced in the first place is a compromise?) is simultaneously a vote against them in their next re-election campaign.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

He's back!

I almost threw in my two-cents when a delightful Finn from the North deracinated his insightful website to placate the academic Thought Police. That a talent like that would simply vanish shamefully into the night like that struck me as unnatural. Surely he'd pop back up somewhere, probably using a pseudonym with a cautious eye on how personal his posts were.

Well, the king has returned, courageously brandishing the his real name just as before, with a single-paragraph-per-post theme.

Long-live free thought!

Doing the (atrocious) driving Americans won't do

To filch from the writers at VDare, we might say "Diversity is strength! It's also... Road Rage".

Autovantage has released another survey this year on the civility (or lack thereof) of the 25 largest cities in the US. It looked at the frequency of behaviors such as honking the horn at a perceived bad driver, cursing at other motorists, threateningly waving fists or making other obscene gestures, calling the police to report poor driving, and even slamming into other vehicles. Page 23 of the pdf lists cities by what Prince Market Research, which did the research, dubs their "Net courtesy score". Several media outlets have listed the cities by simple rank as well. From the nicest to the nastiest, each city's respective courtesy score, and the percentage of each city's population this is foreign-born:

RankCityCourtesy% foreign-born
4.St. Louis+225.6
9.San Diego+725.7
16.San Francisco-236.8
22.Los Angeles-3040.9
24.New York-3235.9


Notice a pattern? It doesn't require an inordinate amount of perspicacity to do so--awful driving and the percentage of non-native drivers correlate at a statistically significant .69. That relationship, considered rigorous by most any social science metric, is even more remarkable given a 'sample' size of only 25, which suggests that a more geographically expansive survey would reveal an even tighter correlation, and that a city's foreign-born population is pulled from the 2000 Census. The coastal cities that fared poorly are becoming more exotic, while less vibrant places like St. Louis and Pittsburgh are locations where sanity is still generally a prerequisite to driving an automobile.

The open-borders crowd often claims most migrants are in the US humbly doing everything in their power to live out the American Dream, not least of which is an attempt to act as model citizens grateful just for the opportunity to set foot in this great nation.

Of course, the rate at which they receive government entitlements suggests otherwise, and those expectations of entitlement are apparently taken to the road with vigor!

The next time a dinged up old Escort with a muffler scraping the street and a Mexican flag sticker on the bumper merges only feet in front of you from an on-ramp at the break-neck speed of 30 miles per hour, or the irritating hum of a rice-burning Civic weaves in and out of an area of congested traffic, perpetuating the the congestion, thank the Congressional critters that are so eager to enrich us by replacing you with them.

Zimbabwe to head UN commission on sustainable development?!

[My original post of the material below apparently was lost for reasons unknown to me]

I know that taking potshots at the UN for hypocrisy, impotency, inefficiency, and corruption is like shooting fish in a barrel, but this is beyond the pale.

Zimbabwe has been nominated to head the Commission on Sustainable Development, which, created in 1992, is supposed to take the lead in facilitating reliable information exchange, environmental protection, and viable economic development, among other things.

Mugabe's regime has physically abused international media members and killed political dissidents. What was once Africa's breadbasket now sees its more successful residents dealing in the mouse-meat trade. Annual inflation is running at well over 1,000%. To clean up the filthy slums that developed around major Zimbabwean cities, Mugabe had them razed to the ground with bulldozers. He's confiscated most of the country's white-run farms, wrecking the only sector of Zimbabwean society that adds net value.

African nations overwhelmingly support the Zimbabwean bid (the commission rotates by continent, with the members of the sending continent essentially choosing what country will fill the spot). South African President Mbeki has hinted, with decreasing subtlety, that he would like to emulate Mugabe's land redistribution disaster.

The end of colonial rule on the Dark Continent has not benefitted the average African. Empowering African countries through wealth transfers has done little other than prop up corrupt regimes. The best things the developed world can do for the destitute, low IQ nations of Africa are to try to distribute nutritional supplements and birth control devices as efficiently and ubiquitously as possible. Cash in the form of foreign aid is only going to continue to perpetuate existing problems.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Conservatives, others should consider things from an evolutionary perspective

Steve Sailer’s two-part essay on the political implications of Darwinian thought, written eight years ago, remain must-reads. They are here and here.

With the proliferation of the blogosphere, the work of heavyweights like Philippe Rushton and Ricahrd Lynn, and the mainstreaming of evolutionary explanations for variances in human populations by reporters like the NYT's Nicholas Wade, the wider social culture has become more fertile for the explosion in our understanding of humanity.

While researchers in Iceland enjoy the unique genetic profile of the world's 300,000 Icelanders and an international consortium of scientists mine the wealth of information that is the fruit of the ongoing HapMap Project, genetic sequencing rushes towards working-class affordability, and the transmission of human genetic material enhances the vision of mice, the right side of the political spectrum is engaged in an internal debate about how to respond to the rapid scientific developments:

Evolution has long generated bitter fights between the left and the right about whether God or science better explains the origins of life. But now a dispute has cropped up within conservative circles, not over science, but over political ideology: Does Darwinian theory undermine conservative notions of religion and morality or does it actually support conservative philosophy?

To frame the debate in such partisan terms might be useful for political analysis, but to one seeking an objective understanding of how the world works, and consequently how to approach the world in a way that maximizes well-being, it's frustrating. It's insinuated that the question is not "Is it accurate?", but is instead "Can it benefit conservatism?" Of course, the excerpt is from the New York Times. And self-appointed kingpin of the Darwin-supports-conservatism movement, John Derbyshire, prides himself on seeking truth irrespective of the effect on the conservativism.

To the extent that various political philosophies claim the betterment of humanity to be their raison d'etre, it might broadly be argued to support any mix of philosophical tenets. Certainly supporters of free-markets make a natural philosophy-type argument in support of free competition. Indeed, business courses on Strategic Management see firms constantly under competitive pressures with those failing to evolve effectively disappearing.

Of greater interest is what an evolutionary perspective explains or at least provides plausible insight into.

Among other things, an evolutionary perspective helps illuminate:

- Why adolescents during and following puberty, under the weight of constant anxiety, expend so much energy trying to fit in. The step from elementary school to junior high places more responsibility in the hands of the student just as his biological processes are telling him it's time to leave the parents. Uncertain of what exactly to do, the inclination is to stick together until realizing, in high school or college, that it is not necessary and even harmful to do so. Many predatory mammalian siblings of the same litter do the animal equivalent of this.

- Why religiosity and age are positively correlated (running a rough regression on the age ranges presented and strong belief reveals a nearly perfect relationship, with an r-value of more than .99), and, relatedly, why women tend to be more religious than men. During the years of greatest fertility, a teleological purpose is obvious enough--make babies. As that passes, the question "What will become of me when I'm gone?" becomes more prominent. It's accentuated for women in that, while men are less likely to father children into their fifties and beyond, women simply cannot do it at that point (in-vitro and other technological developments aside).

- Why most people abhor abortion. The thing is set to become a baby. If it's in the woman's belly, the procreative goal has almost been realized. Less obviously, it also helps make sense of why people are increasingly tolerant of abortion as the person having the abortion becomes increasingly more distant from them. Women in New York? Okay. The Kansas legislature is voting on it? I suppose they should be able to choose, but with restrictions. My friend Cari? I don't think it's a good idea. Brittney, you're pregnant? Of course we're keeping it!

- Opposition to same-sex marriage and discomfort with homosexuality in general. Even if it is irrational to believe that making it more difficult for people of the same sex to be romantically intimate with one another is going to decrease the prevalence of homosexuality (and it's not necessarily irrational with regards to women), it's hard to come up with anything more detrimental to the passing on of genes than being unattracted to the opposite sex.

- Why "Birds of a feather stick together" is a more veracious adage than "Opposites attract" is. When humans, for most of their 100,000 'anatomically modern' years, operated in small hunter-gatherer kin units topping out at 150 people, clan members were genetically similar, not only in appearance but also in temperament, proclivities, thought processes, and so on. That generalizations of entire nationalities are roughly accurate today (Irish irascibility, Norwegians' inability to put down the down once they've picked it up, Japanese politeness) suggests that much smaller, less diverse populations would've been even better candidates for stereotypes. That affinity for those of the same feather, even in the developed West, is retained in the personal relationships people freely seek out with those like themselves. Online dating services cash in big on it, but I haven't come across any sites claiming to find you love in the special someone out there who is the least like you as can possibly exist.

- Why men spend countless hundreds of hours withering away on MMOs. These parallel universes allow men to embrace a visceral competitiveness that has been selected for (in men) over hundreds of thousands of years but which has fewer outlets of expression in contemporary society. We may not be able to execute a dawn raid on a rival clan for the good of our children, but--well, actually, we can pretty much do exactly that in the virtual world.

- Why women obsess over physical appearance. While sexual selection is something Darwin focused on more heavily in Descent of Man than in the Origin of Species, the two are closely related. With regard to female attractiveness, there is much overlap--a woman with sinuous curves, smooth skin, a full head of hair, and the ability to move is not only sexy, she's also probably pretty healthy. If a woman can prop herself up enough to snag a better man than she'd be otherwise able to get, she'll increase that chances that her offspring will be strong, smart, and well-provided for. Women painting their nails so their kids will have good genes; men virtually slaughtering one another for the right to transmit those genes!

- The difficulty in suppressing the 'fight or flight' response that makes people hostile and edgy at the worst times to be so, like when the boss unexpectedly shows up for a performance review. Detecting a threat before it became fatal had obvious survival benefits, but for the lives the vast majority of people in the developed world live, it can become a major liability.

- The prevalence of obesity, especially in the developed world. Eat while you can to store up in case you can't eat again for awhile. Of course, most of us can eat whenever we want, and our daily workload is nowhere near as physically taxing as that of our ancestors. Even Europe, with lower living standards and less reliance on an automobile to get around, isn't immune.

- The difficulty of sleeping during the day and staying awake throughout the night. The circadian rhythm is a protective vestige. Wandering around at night would've exposed our ancestors to many dangers, hampering their ability to work as a group and making them easy targets for big predators, many of which are active at night (lions, leopards, hyenas, etc). Conversely, sleeping during the day meant wasting productive time and artificially giving up the crucial sense of sight when it could be most effectively employed.

- Seemingly intractable differences in populations with regard to physiology, athletic abilities, cognitive capacities, susceptibility to various diseases, criminality, etc. The vast majority of human history has seen disparate populations living in isolation from one another, with unique, local evolutionary pressures working on them.

- The persistent failure of quixotic policy goals that ignore the underlying reality of human biodiversity, from No Child Left Behind to the disastrous attempt to install a liberal democracy in the heart of the Middle East. People are different, and by extension so are groups of people. There is no ecumenical set of propsitions that will be equally effective throughout the world.

That's not an exhaustive list of even what I'm able to perceive. And my untrained mind is going to miss more evolutionary insights than it is going to catch. Refusing to look at things from an evolutionary perspective is to willingly put blinders on. When you're leading a political movement, it's to ask others to follow a blind leader.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Scrabble point, letter distributions and actual English usage

A few days ago I got sucked into a game of Scrabble with my mother and grandmother. The matriarchs are both prolific players, but being so audacious, I expected to win anyway. Instead, my mother and I tied, even after exhausting the rules for tiebreaking.

I place blame on the old American Heritage Dictionary we were using. Clearly written by troglodytes, it fails to recognize "dreg" as a word, recognizing the noun exlusively as being the plural "dregs" (are there nouns that have no singular form, only a plural form?). And I blame drawing two Ls late in the game. I whined that for only being worth one point a piece, they are difficult to use.

It turns out that L is in fact the least frequently used one point letter in the English language according to Wikipedia's entry on the subject (apparently comprised by Central College's mathematics professor Tom Linton).

How well do the Scrabble letter and point distributions represent the actual written use of the English language? For being created seventy years ago by an unemployed architect who determined the distributions by combing through various written sources like the New York Times, the game does quite well.

Point scores correlate inversely with the letter frequency distribution (LFD) at a statistically significant .71. That's fairly rigorous, especially given the number of tiles worth a single point (70 of 98, or 71%), with the most frequently used single-pointer, E, appearing more than three times as often as the least common, L.

The game's tile distribution is even more impressive, correlating with LFD at .91. Throwing points into the mix for a multivariate analysis shores it up a smidgeon to .92.

Still, 15% of the relationship is otherwise 'explained'. Consequently, some letters are mathematically more favorable even after both frequency and point value are taken into consideration. An index created by building a regression formula from the data indicated previously, comparing predicted LFD with actual LFD, dividing the former by the latter, and multiplying by 100 for aesthetic facilitation follows. The higher an index score, the better the letter is, after controlling for its scoring value and tile frequency. From the best to the worst:

1) H - 282
2) Q - 162
3) T - 144
4) S - 140
5) Z - 126
6) C - 117
7) E - 110
8) W - 109
9) N - 107
10) F - 103
11) M - 102
12) D - 98
13) R - 95
14) O - 93
15) A - 92
16) Y - 91
17) L - 89
18) P - 81
19) I - 78
20) K - 71
21) B - 63
22) U - 61
23) G - 58
24) V - 45
25) J - 33
26) X - 32

Keep in mind that although the scores vary greatly, they are relative to one another (with a SD of 49 index points)--Butts did a tremendous job mirroring actual LFD in the game he created.

To further evidence his impresiveness, consider that the LFD says nothing about how various letters appear in the English language, only their respective frequencies. Some letters are more difficult to use than their absolute real world frequency suggests.

H, to Butts' credit, probably offers the best illustration. Using the above methodology, it is the most propitious letter to draw. But while nearly one-third of the English alphabet is used more often than H, the letter is included in the two most frequently occuring digraphs (TH, HE), as well as the first and third more frequently used trigraphs (THE, THA). H needs a little more help from his friends than, say, M does.

Butts astutely restricted the frequency of S. Due to plurality, it's the game's most reliably independently playable letter. Adding an S to the end of another word sets you up to perpendicularly drop a word beginning with S or use the S at the end of a newly-created word coming from the left or from above.

As mentioned previously, the index scores are based on letter frequencies in written English, not in various letters' utility in a game of Scrabble. X appears to be the most burdensome letter to draw, but an open A allows for the use of the X and an easy nine points. V appears to be the most unfavorable letter to draw in most cases.

With a combined index score of 87 (excluding Y), Butts' overloaded the game with vowels. But especially late in the game, vowels often remedy the frustration entailed in trying to play even two- or three-letter words--words in which at least one-half and one-third of the letters required are vowels.

Keeping the points for each letter the same, a mathematically 'optimal' tile distribution (with a parenthetical variance from the original game) follows:

A: 8 (-1)
B: 2 (0)
C: 3 (+1)
D: 4 (0)
E: 12 (0)
F: 2 (0)
G: 2 (-1)
H: 5 (+3)
I: 7 (-2)
J: 0 (-1)

K: 1 (0)
L: 4 (0)
M: 3 (+1)
N: 7 (+1)

O: 7 (-1)
P: 2 (0)
Q: 0 (-1)
R: 6 (0)
S: 6 (+2)
T: 9 (+3)
U: 3 (-1)
V: 1 (-1)
W: 2 (0)
X: 0 (-1)
Y: 2 (0)
Z: 0 (-1)

Dropping the rare letters will increase playability, but reduce the tileset's total point value. Whether or not the ease of constructing longer words of more frequent intersection will overcome the point deficiency is difficult to discern.

The family has a couple of gamesets. I'll have to insist my mix be used every other time to see if an appreciable total score per game develops!

Scrabblers are likely speculating that Super Scrabble, introduced three years ago, does even better. Increasing n, in this case by doubling the number playable tiles, certainly allows for that. But rather than simply doubling the frequency of each letter and augmenting the board size, Mattel appears to have calibrated letter frequencies to more accurately reflect actual written usage (although the points for each letter remain unchanged). The game's tile distribution correlates with LFD at .96 (including points strengthens the correlation marginally at the third decimal place).

The index scores by letter for Super Scrabble, as well as the rest of the data used, are available here.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Fort Dix plot reveals folly of immigration trends in West

The foiled Rambo attack plot on New Jersey's Fort Dix epitomizes the inanity of our immigration situation in several ways. At least three of the six plotters likely crossed illegally into the US via the Southern border:
Because the three men entered the United States without inspection, there is no legal record of their entry. A federal law enforcement source said the three entered the United States near Brownsville, Texas, in 1984.
A legacy of the 1986 amnesty that our Executive and most of our Senators want to repeat, albeit on a grander scale.

These bottom-feeders were, well, economic bottom-feeders:
One drove a cab, three were roofers. Another worked at a 7-Eleven and a sixth at a supermarket.
All six of these guys are drags on the economy. They're almost certainly consuming more in public services and benefits than they are contributing in the form of taxes paid (the three roofers may not have been paying anything at all in income taxes). They are depressing wages for marginal value-adding work, lowering the prospects for less-endowed natives. And the professional services they require (medical care, legal assistance, etc) are diverting human capital that might otherwise be spent increasing business efficiency or creating value through innovative products or services.

These thugs weren't connected to an international terrorist network:
Authorities said there was no direct evidence connecting the men to any international terror organizations such as Al Qaeda. But several of them said they were ready to kill and die "in the name of Allah," prosecutors said in court papers.
Cutting into funding through tougher money laundering regulations or infilitrating communications between members of global Islamic groups like Hezbollah or Al Qaeda is only a partial solution to combatting terrorism. Without an active effort to separate from those most likely to perpetuate Islamically-inspired attacks, they're bound to come up short.

Four of the plotters were ethnic Albanians. One was from Turkey, another from Jordan. Those places of origin are the only ingredients needed for attacks to be dreamed up. We can break up Al Qaeda, but we'll continue to have to deal with things like this unless we stop letting migrants from the Islamic world into the West. With the highest absolute net migration in the world, the US does not need to pull anyone from the Middle East, the Balkans, North Africa, or Central Asia. Europe doesn't need anymore people from these places, either. US support for Turkey's admission into the EU and for an independent state of Kosovo are acts of treason against Occidental civilization.

One of the plotters was a pizza deliverer, who had scouted out the base during the frequently deliveries he made there. A co-worker, stunned by the accusations, illustrates the need for proactive immigration measures:
Mario Tummillo lives near Tatar's father in Cookstown and said he worked with Tatar at the pizza parlor. Tummillo, 20, described Tatar as a religious man who "wasn't violent at all."
Or he didn't exhibit a violent veneer. But if he is a religious Muslim, his affinity for violence can hardly come as a surprise.

The abolition of derelict 'sanctuary city' policies might have foiled this plot earlier. Two of the six, who are brothers, had a combined 19 traffic citations issued to them. But INS/ICE was never notified by local law enforcement, who are prohibited from notifying Homeland Security about non-felonious illegal aliens.

Think the porous US-Mexico border and Islamic aggression are unrelated? The CIA disagrees:
The implications of such lawlessness could be dire, U.S. and Paraguayan officials said. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Hezbollah militiamen would raise no suspicions because they have Latin American passports, speak Spanish and look like Hispanic tourists.

The CIA singles out the Mexican border as an especially inviting target for Hezbollah operatives. “Many alien smuggling networks that facilitate the movement of non-Mexicans have established links to Muslim communities in Mexico,” its Counter Terrorism Center said in a 2004 threat paper.

“Non-Mexicans often are more difficult to intercept because they typically pay high-end smugglers a large sum of money to efficiently assist them across the border, rather than haphazardly traverse it on their own.”
We need a multi-layered barrier running the length of the 1,951 mile border. Tough punitions must be levied on employers who exploit subsidized labor on the tab of the net taxpayer. Those who reveal themselves to be in the US illegally should be deported. For every one involuntarily removed, another seven or eight will leave through attrition. Mass deportations aren't even necessary.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Michael Barone on US population shifts

Michael Barone has an insightful piece in the WSJ dealing with what he terms an American realignment. It's definitely worth a read if you have the time. Much of what he deals with is common material for those who read the blogroll listed off to the side under "Insight". A few excerpts:
Start with the Coastal Megalopolises: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago (on the coast of Lake Michigan), Miami, Washington and Boston.
Here is a pattern you don't find in other big cities: Americans moving out and immigrants moving in, in very large numbers, with low overall population growth. Los Angeles, defined by the Census Bureau as Los Angeles and Orange Counties, had a domestic outflow of 6% of 2000 population in six years--balanced by an immigrant inflow of 6%. The numbers are the same for these eight metro areas as a whole. ...

The result is that these Coastal Megalopolises are increasingly a two-tiered society, with large affluent populations happily contemplating (at least until recently) their rapidly rising housing values, and a large, mostly immigrant working class working at low wages and struggling to move up the economic ladder. The economic divide in New York and Los Angeles is starting to look like the economic divide in Mexico City and São Paulo.
I've dabbled in the same sea. In US cities with more than 500,000 residents, housing affordability and the proportion of foreign-born residents inversely correlate at a very strong .80. What I called the emergence of feudal societies, Barone more relevantly describes as "two-tiered".

"Two-tiered", as in John Edwards' "Two Americas". Another theme running throughout Barone's piece (and that Steve Sailer has written articles about) is how the inequities that Democratic politicians habitually claim to be worried about serve them quite well. Although economic disparity is the most conspicuous, it extends to other areas like educational attainment (looking only at the percentage of a state's population that has at least a high school diploma or equivalent but not a bachelor's degree or beyond correlates with Bush's share of the 2004 vote at a statistically significant .69) and population density. The cramped, expensive, bipolar big cities--where inequalities of all kinds are so prominently displayed--are Democratic strongholds:
Democratic politicians like to decry what they describe as a widening economic gap in the nation. But the part of the nation where it is widening most visibly is their home turf, the place where they win their biggest margins (these metro areas voted 61% for John Kerry) and where, in exquisitely decorated Park Avenue apartments and Beverly Hills mansions with immigrant servants passing the hors d'oeuvres, they raise most of their money.
As disgusted as I am with the GOP, especially its leadership at the national level, my vote tends to be between the Republican and the Reform or Libertarian Party candidates. What is politically beneficial to the Democratic Party has a deleterious effect on the quality of life for the nation as a whole. Bemusingly, that which is terribly destructive to the Republican Party and the country apparently comprises the bulk of the Bush Administration's playbook.

Barone uses 2006 Census estimates and compares them with the findings of the 2000 Census. The 2010 numbers will be even more informative.