Monday, March 30, 2009

Drug testing for food stamps? How about no drug buying with welfare?

It is not unusual for companies to subject their employees to random drug testing, and most require it ahead of receiving worker's compensation benefits for injuries sustained on the job, so why not subject welfare recipients to the same? The idea is getting a legislative push in multiple states:
Want government assistance? Just say no to drugs.

Lawmakers in at least eight states want recipients of food stamps, unemployment benefits or welfare to submit to random drug testing. ...

"Nobody's being forced into these assistance programs," said Craig Blair, a Republican in the West Virginia Legislature who has created a Web site — notwithmytaxdollars.com — that bears a bobble-headed likeness of himself advocating this position. "If so many jobs require random drug tests these days, why not these benefits?"

Blair is proposing the most comprehensive measure in the country, as it would apply to anyone applying for food stamps, unemployment compensation or the federal programs usually known as "welfare": Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Women, Infants and Children.

Lawmakers in other states are offering similar, but more modest proposals.

On Wednesday, the Kansas House of Representatives approved a measure mandating drug testing for the 14,000 or so people getting cash assistance from the state, which now goes before the state senate. In February, the Oklahoma Senate unanimously passed a measure that would require drug testing as a condition of receiving TANF benefits, and similar bills have been introduced in Missouri and Hawaii. A Florida senator has proposed a bill linking unemployment compensation to drug testing, and a member of Minnesota's House of Representatives has a bill requiring drug tests of people who get public assistance under a state program there.
With 80 million baby boomers hitting reaching retirement age over the next couple of decades, the 70 million Gen Xers following them are going to have a much heavier dependent-to-worker load than their parents did. With more than 40% of births in the US now being to non-Asian minorities (and the consequent rise in the number of children born out of wedlock and into poverty), the nation's per capita human capital is decreasing. The US continues to run a perpetual trade deficit that has probably only been temporarily reduced due to a sharp drop in oil prices, while the federal government plans on spending $4 trillion--nearly $2 trillion above and beyond what it takes in--in 2009 alone. The seeming capriciousness of governmental bailouts has prescient people previously ignored predicting a decade or more of malaise similar to what Japan experienced through the nineties and into the present.

These lawmakers are moving at the right time, under a collapsing sky. The time is ripe for the Republican party to reassert itself as the enforcer of green eye-shade conservatism.

How about this as an idea for a campaign ad that could be replicated by Congressional challengers across the country in the 2010 election cycle? A woman who looks like Roseanne comes into a convenience store yelling at her uncontrolled hellions, before going up to the counter to buy cigarettes, liquor, and lottery tickets with her food stamp card. A narrator along the lines of Robert Stack sternly says, "Ask [sitting Congressman] why he supports giving taxpayer money to the poor for the purchase of cigarettes and booze. Congressman, is this what you intended when you voted for last year's spending bill with its $3 billion increase in temporary welfare benefits, on top of the $20 billion we are already spending?"

It may come as a surprise that food stamp cards can be used for cash purposes. Since 2004, all 50 states and DC have participated in the EBT (electronic benefits transfer) program. Beneficiaries are given what is essentially a debit card that transfers funds from a federal account to retailers. Additionally, it may be used at ATMs. Recipients have two separate balances; one for food, restricted to items that are not supposed to be immediately consumable, and another that may be used on anything, including vices like those depicted in the hypothetical ad.

The amounts received for each balance are contingent upon state laws, and finding out total distributions at the state or federal levels is difficult (it has proven so for me, anyway). But I suspect few people realize welfare benefits can be used to buy Kools and Steel Reserve. Further, I imagine the vast majority of those who become aware of it happening will disapprove of it.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Moats because he's black, Dunakin because he's white, right?

Uh oh. My sixteen year-old brother contrasts two recent events in the news. I wish I'd have been up on current events in high school:
I plan on trying to call Michael Savage on Monday. He has been talking a lot about the Oakland police murders. There has been little reporting on it in other news media. I was on Yahoo, and they had on the front page about a BLACK NFL player who was stopped by a WHITE police officer and prevented from going into the hospital because he ran a red light, and so did not get to see his mother-in-law before she died. There was an apology issued by the head of the Dallas police, praising the NFL player for never once mentioning he was an NFL player! What a guy! And the family of course said they can't help thinking race probably had something to do with it. I guess race is only applicable when it's from a white guy to a black guy, so it doesn't apply to Oakland. This was on the front page of Yahoo, yet I looked back the past week, and they never even mentioned the killing of four police officers by a convicted felon suspected in even more felonies. I wonder if four black officers were killed by a white guy, then would it be newsworthy?

Most people reading about the Oakland incident couldn't help but be curious about the racial angle, either. I deal in the quantitative here, and it is not my intention to dwell on a specific incident, horrible as it is. But it is worth pointing out that although black-on-white aggression is so much more common than white-on-black aggression is--by a factor of about forty--major media are emphasizing the racial component of a very minor instance of the latter while ignoring it in a very serious instance of the former. Part of this is a consequence of predictable things being boring (even police shootouts) and unique occurences being exciting. The bulk, however, is due to NAM untouchability and the default culpability of any white man acting to control the behavior of someone who is non-white--that he is acting in accordance to his authority as an officer apparently isn't germane.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Binge drinking--an activity for the smarties?

Some studies have shown teetotalers to be less intelligent than moderate drinkers are. Data from the GSS agrees with this. Those who sit on the barstools every night, and those who would never place their derrieres there, are less intelligent than those who go out every now and then.

Turning alcohol consumption into a dichotomous question, teetotalers are, on average, of more modest intelligence than drinkers are. Converting Wordsum results based on the white mean to IQ scores with an assumed standard deviation of 15 points yields an average IQ of 92.8 for non-drinkers and 99.6 for drinkers (N = 7,204). Fewer than three in ten respondents never drink. This total abstinence is partly religious in nature, as 77% of the non-drinkers are certain of God's existence, compared to 57% among drinkers. Religiosity and intelligence trend in opposite directions. Without a specific prohibition on it, even those who do not like to drink and rarely do are still going to show up in the "yes" column. If the frequency and quantity of consumption were inquired about, I suspect that moderate drinkers would be more intelligent than heavy drinkers.

But that assumption could be mistaken. In the United Health Foundation's annual report of health rankings by state, one of the factors tracked is the percentage of a population that binge drinks. The UHF uses the standard 5/4 definition of the behavior (five drinks on one occasion for a man, four for a woman) in arriving at its figures. They correlate inversely with estimated average IQ at .48 (p=0). Heavy drinking is more popular in smarter states than it is in duller states*.

The UHF does not provide a nationwide visualization of the percentage of each state's population that engages in binge drinking, so I've created one here.

As smarter states have more binge drinkers than duller states do, it is not surprising that the behavior is more common in irreligious states than it is in religious states. As part of its "state of the states" project, Gallup polled residents and inquired whether or not religion comprised an important part of their daily lives. The percentage of respondents who said it does and the percentage that binge drink inversely correlate at .54 (p=0).

The Southern Baptist Convention, concentrated in the nation's generally unhealthy states, takes a strong stance against the distribution and consumption of alcohol. As the visualization shows, the pious South does well in limiting binge drinking, and Utah stands out conspicuously in the West as a place of moderation. This looks to be a clear example of religiosity having beneficial consequences for the individual and the larger community, specifically for those on the left side of the bell curve.

Alternatively, many northern states--where the winters are longer, the sun shines less, and the population is more heavily northern European--are more prone to heavy bouts of drinking. As northern Europeans have had a shorter history with alcohol, they are presumably at higher risk for falling into alcoholism than other European groups are. Ancestry could conceivably offer a better explanation than religiosity does.

Perhaps I've finally found a pathological behavior that correlates inversely with intelligence. Anecdotally, I know several sharp teenagers who are regular heavy drinkers (and also into various forms of recreational drug use). To a tee, they are all leftists. I get a sense that it is a form of destructive entertainment for those who have high levels of openness to experience but who do not find constructive things to engage this tendency in because there are not external forces--peer, parental, transcendent, or otherwise--pushing them to do so.

GSS variables used: DRINK, WORDSUM, GOD

* It is also more popular in blue states. The correlation between voting for Obama and binge drinking is .47, even though "blue state" and "smart state" are not synonymous. Estimated average IQ and the percentage of a state's electorate who voted for Obama correlate at a weak and statistically insignificant .16 (p=.27)--if DC is included, the correlation becomes slightly inverted but still statistically meaningless.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Number of sex partners for young women over the last twenty years

++Addition++In one of those ruddying moments, Peter asked if the figures was restricted to single women or included those who were married. Uh, the latter, out of my absent-mindedness. Consequently, this post has been altered from how it was originally presented--but not substantially--as it now includes only unmarried women. The patterns and averages are basically the same, with a slight rise in average number of partners per year. Slight, because the increase in the two or more partners contingent was mostly offset by an increase in the percentage of women who remained abstinent for the year prior to their interviews.

---

In the comments of Agnostic's post on various aspects of cultural trends relating to women, Roissy wonders:

How accurate is slutty dress as a proxy for actual sluttiness? While fashion may have gotten more conservative, my observations of the urban chicks in their natural habitat is that their actual behavior has gotten sluttier than ever before.

Is it even possible to collect uncorrupted data on the sexual activity and # of partners of 20-something women in relation to women from past generations?

The best I am able to do is go back to 1988. Since then, the GSS has asked around 160 unmarried women aged 18-30 every year or two how many people they have had sex with over the course of the last twelve months.

After four partners, the GSS answers are by range. I consider the middle of the range to be the true value for these respondents. As fewer than one in fifty women have five or more partners in the period of a year, this assumption on my part is a minor issue. Of the 2,069 respondents over the twenty year period, a total of four reported having more than 20 partners (the 21-100 range) in the scope of a year. Including these women, who very plausibly may be active prostitutes, skews the three years they were surveyed in. Consequently, they are excluded. The following graph shows the mean number of partners by year. Notice the parameters, chosen for ease of contrast (click for greater resolution):


Combined with Agnostic's demonstration that 'slutty' dress has waned over the last couple of years, the GSS data suggest Roissy's observation is quite accurate.

Because the timeframe for each year actually spans nearly 24 months (those asked in early January 2008 essentially giving their sexual history for 2007 while those interviewed in late 2008 giving their 2008 history) coupled with the fact that there aren't data for every year, it's more difficult than it might seem at first blush to track the state of the economy with promiscuity. If anything, it appears that when times are bad, women have more partners, but the numbers for 1998, a few years into the inflating of the dot-com bubble, argue against this. There are probably other fluctuating trends that are simply more determinative than macroeconomic conditions.

Also worth noting is that despite the year to year undulations, we do appear to have experienced (and are still experiencing) an increase in the number of per capita sexual relationships over the last two decades. However, the assumption that ladies are going out each weekend seeking to become another notch in a stranger's belt is way overblown. For 2008, the most promiscuous, only four in ten young women had more than one partner over an entire year. Being involved with (and committed to) one's beau, if sexually active at all, is still the norm for a majority of girls who are not yet up against the wall.

GSS variables used: AGE(18-30), MARITAL(2-5), PARTNERS(0-7), SEX(2)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

IQ estimates by intended college major via SAT scores

++Addition++Lover of Wisdom recalls a table posted by Steve Sailer estimating IQ averages by completed major based on GRE scores. For the 22 fields of study included both as intended majors from the College Board's report and as completed majors in Steve's table, the estimated IQ values correlate with one another at .77 (p=0). So for the most part, the cognitive pecking order by degree stays the same ahead of entering school as it does once a BA has been obtained.

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Assuming the mean IQ of SAT test-takers included in a report by the College Board to be 103*, the estimated average IQ of students by intended college major follow. The estimates exclude writing results, which were added in 2005 and constitute what is generally considered the least objectively reliable part of the test**. The critical reading and mathematics (previously known as the quantitative section) portions are equally weighted:

Intended majorIQ
Interdisciplinary studies114.0
Physical sciences111.2
Mathematics and statistics110.7
English and literature110.1
Foreign language109.8
Philosophy and religious studies109.6
Social sciences109.3
Library science108.7
Engineering108.5
Biological and biomedical sciences107.7
Liberal arts & sciences and humanities107.5
Area, ethnic, cultural, gender studies106.8
Theology and religious vocations106.4
Undecided106.2
History106.0
Natural resources and conservation104.6
Military sciences104.1
Computer and information sciences103.9
Communication and journalism103.5
Architecture103.2
Visual and performing arts103.0
Legal professions102.8
Psychology101.3
Business101.2
Health professions100.8
Engineering technicians99.9
Education99.3
Agriculture99.2
Transportation98.7
Other97.8
Family and consumer sciences97.5
Parks, recreation, leisure and fitness97.5
Public administration and social services96.6
Culinary services96.5
Security and protection95.9
Precision production95.2
Construction trades94.3
Mechanic and repair technician93.3

Nothing too terribly surprising. Education is at the bottom of the degree fields not typically offered at vocational schools. The kids who want to study religion through a lens of mythology are a little smarter than the kids who want to be practitioners of it. All but the smartest kids tend to shy away from degrees requiring high level math courses, and while still in high school the sharpest of the sharp plan on double majoring. Those on the fence are not just unmotivated slackers. There is probably something to be said about putting one's feet into the university waters before deciding where you want to swim.

I went into business because I figured as a senior in high school I was already capable of doing almost everything required of me there. I was currently taking calculus and would be finished with it by the time I entered college. So statistics would be the only thing standing between me and graduation. I was able to muster up enough determination to tackle one uncertain course, but that was my max. And for the sake of my blogging avocation (heh, as well as my career, of course), in hindsight I'm glad I didn't pursue some other even safer major, like history or the humanities.

Those aspiring toward a legal career perform worse on the SAT than those hoping to go into other well-bred fields like science and engineering. Many of those on the lower end of the cognitive scale probably opt for other paths later on or are eventually screened out by the bar exam.

Intelligence and productivity proxy for one another, but the relationship certainly isn't perfect. Contrast the relatively strong performance of those pursuing a degree in ethnic, cultural, or gender studies, which will likely add no value to society if obtained, to the modest intelligence of those going into construction, craftsmanship, or mechnical repair, all degrees which will add real value, and you have demonstrated as much.

Using the same methodology, average IQ estimates by race among those who took the SAT in 2008:

GroupIQ
Asian/Pacific Islander108.1
White106.2
Native American/Alaskan native100.3
Mexican96.4
Other Hispanic96.4
Puerto Rican95.9
Black92.4

Again, pretty predictable.

GSS variables used: EDUC, RACE(1), RACECEN1(1), YEAR(2000-2006), WORDSUM, DEGREE(3)(3-4)

* Using Wordsum scores from GSS data from 2000 to 2006, assuming a standard deviation of 15, the estimated mean IQ for whites with a bachelor's degree or higher (thus including those with MAs and PhDs) is 108.3 (for those who have attained exactly a bachelor's, I find a mean IQ of 105.9). The detailed report by the College Board for 2008 shows whites score a little more than one-fifth of one standard deviation higher than the SAT average for all test-takers. In terms of IQ, that translates to a 3 point advantage for whites relative to the entire SAT pool. If all of these test-takers were future college graduates, it would be reasonable to estimate the cohort's mean IQ at 105.3.

Of course, not all of them will earn a BA. Those who drop out will tend to be on the left half of the score distribution. The GSS shows relative to people with exactly 12 years of schooling (high school graduates), those with between one and three years of post-high school education (essentially those who have taken some college courses but have not graduated with a BA) are on average 37% of the way to the group with four to eight years of post-high school education. So if the average IQ of those who finished their educational careers with a high school diploma approximates the US' national average of 98, a reasonable estimate for the average IQ of SAT test-takers who will not go on to graduate with a BA is 100.7.

Roughly half of the test-takers will not earn a BA. Equally weighting the estimates for those who will attain at least a BA and those who will not yields an IQ score of 103. Consequently, I am working with the assumption that this is the average IQ score that corresponds to the average composite SAT score for those included in the College Board's report.

There are a lot of assumptions here. Further, there is no attempt to distinguish between the college-bound who take the SAT and those who do not, to estimate the BA completion rate by intended major, or to account for who switches majors during their college careers and why (ie, physics was too hard so I switched to education). But it's not worth getting caught up in plausible precision of this average IQ estimate. If it is felt that it should be two points higher (or lower), just add (or subtract) two points for the estimated average of each degree field. To the extent that the table above adds value, it is in the form of relative comparisons.

Tangentially, the GSS has two racial categories. The one that has been used for the life of the survey is broad--"white" is one of three choices, the remaining two being "black" and "other". I suspected estimates of white behavior would be skewed because of this, due to the inclusion of some Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans. The more detailed GSS racial breakdown including 16 categories (introduced for use in the GSS in 2000), however, reveals that virtually everybody who chooses white in the three-category racial classification also chooses non-Hispanic white in the 16-category classification. The Wordsum scores for three-category whites and sixteen-category whites are virtually identical. During this decade, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans are apparently all choosing "other" in the three-category question, and there is little reason to think it was otherwise in the past.

** However, the scores by intended major including and excluding writing correlate virtually perfectly (r-squared=.99, p=0). Whether they are included or not does not change anything, suggesting that whatever reading and math are measuring (g to some extent), writing is tracking as well.

Monday, March 23, 2009

GSS suggests military men more intelligent than military women

In a previous post on the slightly elevated average intelligence of military personnel relative to the civilian population, Dr. Bruce Charlton suggested separately breaking out the GSS data for men and women. Converting Wordsum results with the assumption that the mean score for whites, by gender, is equivalent to an IQ of 100 with a 15 point standard deviation, the average IQ for men and women who are currently working for or have previously worked for either the military or the Department of Defense:

Men -- 103.5
Women -- 93.3

The respondent pool of 40 men and 39 women is small, but the difference in averages is two-thirds of one standard deviation. It's not trivial, although it is at odds with the military's official statistics, so it's necessary not to see these results as at all definitive.

Thinking the gap might be the result of differences in background, I checked the educational attainment of each gender. The average for the military men is 13.21 years and for military women 13.28, so we're not comparing male officers with enlisted women.

I can't muster much in the way of useful speculation as to why the gap exists. If I had to venture a guess, it'd be that girls who want to become soldiers or police officers tend to have testosterone and athleticism levels further above the female average than aspiring male soldiers and police officers do relative to other males, as the number of girls who want to go into these professions is much smaller than the number of boys who do. Consequently, these characteristics better predict a martial career for women than they do for men, who are selected for by other means, of which above average intelligence is one (as military personnel are, on average, more intelligent than non-military personnel are).

When I was in ROTC, all five of my fellow female cadets probably had IQs under 110 and testosterone levels that put them at the 110th percentile among women. The only especially sharp woman I came across during my time with the military was a JAG who had been awarded officership because she had a JD and taught courses for the program (she was also married to a full colonel). She never went through ROTC or OCS, and only went through basic a couple of summers after she started teaching.

Whatever the reason, this suggests that restricting direct combat roles exclusively to men is a good idea, since greater intelligence reduces the likelihood of military personnel suffering injuries.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

O Economic Sagacity

After at least $170 billion in government money to prop up a financial and insurance conglomerate so big that the implosion of the global economic network was assured to follow its downfall, Congress votes to slash performance compensation for AIG employees by 85%.

So when the well-being of the company's shareholders and customers rested on their shoulders, AIG's movers and shakers failed spectacularly. Now, amid employee desertions and a collapse in market confidence, the remaining brains are going to rescue not just the company's immediate stakeholders, but the entire modern world--all on a reverse tithe!

Oh yes, this will work for sure.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Legal illegals

By the stealth of day, they no longer even try to conceal:
At a town hall meeting in southern California yesterday, Obama renewed his support for comprehensive reform, including a possible path to citizenship for law-abiding people who entered the country illegally, along the lines of the bill that stalled in Congress in 2007.

He met with the entire Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

By the way, isn't it funny how lukewarm restrictionists are constantly badgered into saying their concerns about immigration have nothing to do with race or ethnicity, while this amnesty trumpeting is so often done in front of Hispanic interest groups?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Liberals and tax cheating

++Addition++The Inductivist did a similar analysis with similar findings a month ago based on voting patterns in the 1996 Presidential election.

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With the embarrassing number of hopeful Obama appointments running into tax cheating problems (the latest being Ron Kirk), it's natural to wonder if evasion by high profile leftists is illustrative of a real world trend, or just a string of unfortunate anecdotes.

The GSS provides some relief for that wonder. It provides the results for 2,418 people queried on whether or not cheating on taxes is wrong, by political orientation. The first graphic from the GSS shows the distribution of responses. The second graph shows the mean tax compliance score, computed by designating "not wrong" as 1, "a bit wrong" as 2, "wrong" as 3, and "seriously wrong" as 4, and then averaging the responses for each of the seven categories of political orientation (click for higher resolution).









PoliticsCompliance
Strong Lib2.70
Liberal3.05
Weak Lib3.00
Moderate3.07
Weak Con3.14
Conservative3.35
Strong Con3.27

The standard deviation for the dataset is .76, so the difference between self-described conservatives and extreme liberals is nearly one full SD. Amalgamating the responses into three categories yields one-third a SD between liberals and conservatives:

PoliticsCompliance
Liberal3.00
Moderate3.07
Conservative3.25

Liberals do not consider cheating on taxes to be as morally problematic as conservatives do. This presents an obvious moral quandary of its own, as, putatively less surprisingly, liberals are more likely than conservatives are to favor greater amounts of taxation and wealth redistribution.

The purest question the GSS asks with regard to a respondent's philosophical position on taxation is, "If the government had a choice between reducing taxes or spending more on social programs like health care, social security, and unemployment benefits, which do you think it should do?" The GSS provides results for 970 respondents to this question by political orientation:









PoliticsSpend more
Strong Lib86.5%
Liberal81.1%
Weak Lib62.8%
Moderate66.7%
Weak Con49.1%
Conservative41.6%
Strong Con41.4%

There is a full standard deviation difference between extreme liberals and extreme conservatives on this most standard of political issues*. Combining the shades of liberalism and conservatism into a single category, more than half a SD still separates those on the left from those on the right:

PoliticsSpend more
Liberal72.1%
Moderate66.7%
Conservative44.8%

Attitude is not behavior, and I am unaware of any studies on the political persuasions of convicted tax cheats**, but as a self-described empirical paleoconservative, it is difficult not to find parodiable humor mixed with irritation in discovering that those most likely to favor increased taxation and redistributive economics are also the most likely to approve of illegally acting to avoid having to suffer on the contributive side of the equation.

GSS variables used: POLVIEWS, TAXCHEAT, TAXSPEND

* Parenthetically, this shows the presumption that the liberal-conservative spectrum as represented in the GSS is a gauge of positions on social issues rather than economic ones is a stretch at best. Optimally, the GSS will ask a couple of questions on political orientation in the future in place of the one now asked. Cliched though it may be, separately inquiring about both a respondent's social and economic liberalism or conservatism would accomplish this.

Notice, too, that the graph's parameters are set from 40% to 90%--even among self-described conservatives, nearly half of people favor more spending by government over the reduction of tax rates. Too many people have faith in Leviathan.

** However, in Freedonomics, John Lott shows that Republican criminals are as elusive as leprechauns (p184):
[Based on a Public Opinion Strategies survey] I found that felons were 36% more likely than non-felons to have voted for Kerry over Bush and 37% more likely to be registered Democratic [after controlling for socio-cultural factors like race, gender, educational attainment, etc]. ...

While not all felons may be as Democratic as those in Washington State, the survey indicates that the previous estimates understated how frequently felons vote Democratic. Remarkably, it looks as if virtually all felons are Democrats. Felons are not just like everyone else. And the fact that felons are even more likely to vote
Democratic than previously believed surely guarantees that some Democratic operatives will continue their efforts to get them to the polls.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Misleading media labelling of Democrats as conservative, Republicans as moderate?

One of the first political books I read was Ann Coulter's Slander. In making the case that cultural and political media bias is not always overt but is all-pervasive, she points out how "moderate" is used more frequently than "liberal" to describe leftist Republicans, while "conservative" is used more often than "moderate" in describing rightist Democrats.

What she doesn't mention, however, is that Democrats are twice as likely to describe themselves as "conservative" as Republicans are to self-describe as "liberal". Independents, too, are 11% more likely to describe themselves as conservative than they are to self-describe as liberal. That more people affiliated with the nation's left-leaning party consider themselves to be on its right side than members of the right-leaning party say they're on its left gives credence to the assertion that the US is basically a "center-right" country. In querying respondents on their political ideology, the GSS data can easily be converted to a seven point scale, with 1 as the most liberal, 7 as the most conservative, and 4 representing the center. From the turn of the century, the US averages a 4.15.

Consequently, the major media descriptions are not as detached from the political reality 'on the ground' as might be assumed. The following graphs compare how the New York Times labelled members of the two major parties from the beginning of 2000 to the end of 2006 to how people have self-labelled, by way of the GSS, over the same period of time (click on the following graphs for higher resolution).

The NYT is more fond of the adjective "moderate" than "conservative" or "liberal" when it comes to Republicans. Since the newspaper's focus is geographically skewed somewhat toward the Northeast, its reasonable to expect "liberal" to be used for Republicans at least as frequently as Republicans nationwide use it to describe themselves. So Coulter's accusation that the major media tends to label leftist Republicans as moderate has merit. On the other hand, Republicans are more likely to describe themselves as conservative than the NYT is to describe them that way.

Similarly, it is expected that the NYT would describe Democrats as "conservative" no more frequently (and presumably less so) than Democrats describe themselves as such. That the paper slightly overuses the adjective lends additional credence to Coulter's charge. The NYT's heavy use of "liberal" in describing Democrats, however, undercuts the assertion that it strives to make the left look like the center and the right look like the far right.

Constructing a simple scale, with +1 representing "conservative", 0 "moderate", and -1 "liberal", how the NYT describes the political landscape and how the public describes itself, by party affiliation:

RepsScale
NYT+.472
GSS+.495

DemsScale
NYT(.382)
GSS(.208)

Relative to how the public actually describes itself, the NYT portrays Democrats as considerably more liberal and conservatives as slightly more liberal than both groups portray themselves.

It's tough to ascertain how much of this is due to a geographical bias leading to left-leaning areas receiving more coverage, but if anything, the NYT appears not to be providing cover for leftists by portraying them as moderates, but instead goading them on by making note of (and thus in the eyes of many whiterpeople, celebrating) their leftism.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Also, whites support free speech

++Addition++Razib, (obviously angry that Asians only win a consolation prize for loving filthy commi pigs!) goes on a post-modern rant about how whitey has always used and continues to use language as a cudgel to bludgeon non-whites and so predictably does not want any restraining force applied to it.

Of course he's having fun, but what is really humorous is how some of his readers are taking hook, line, and sinker. In their defense, sarcasm and facetiousness are often difficult to detect in text, and Razib is a thoughtful weaver of ideas with the ability to lead even many of the sharpest minds in whatever direction he wants them to go. Fortunately for his more mortal votaries, he is mostly a benevolent genius who rarely leads us astray.

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Razib's recent post entitled "Young, agnostic, moderately liberal & smart support free speech" is self-explanatory. He focuses on four items from the GSS with huge respondent pools. They question whether or not people believe racists, homosexuals, communists, and atheists should be allowed to speak publicly.

He might also add "white" to the title. Since 2000, the GSS has broken racial descriptors into 16 categories, allowing for the five major Census groupings to be assessed on a wide range of things, including support for (or at least tolerance of) free speech.

In addition to the four items Razib looked at, the question of whether or not militarists should be allowed to speak is also included here* (click for higher resolution).

Allow homosexuals to speak?

Allow racists to speak?

Allow atheists to speak?

Allow militarists to speak?

Allow communists to speak?

Support for free speech

Whites are the stoutest defenders of free speech. The ongoing demographic transition the US is experiencing will dampen support for it. The only exception to whites taking the lead is for the question regarding communists. The high Asian number is driven in large part by especially strong support among those of Chinese descent, who hold unrestrictive attitudes toward speech generally. Forty of 43 (93%) favor allowing communists to speak publicly. I'm not sure if this would make Mao proud or not.

Although generally assumed to be perpetually squelched, homosexuals and atheists are accorded respect by solid majorities from every group.

Militarists and communists are accorded less. As the post-indepedence US has no history of military coups, it comes as a bit of surprise to me more than one-third of the population does not think a militarist should be allowed to speak publicly. That fewer than half of Hispanics, given Latin America's sordid history with military regimes, are intolerant of such speech isn't surprising, however. I was in kindergarten when the Berlin Wall came down, so the relatively low level of tolerance for communists is something I only sense in an abstract, historical way. The Cold War is probably one of those things you just had to be there for!

Of course, racists--evil incarnate itself!--are the least tolerable of the five. Still, more than half the country opposes muzzling these belials. Freedom of speech remains a strong tenet of American society.

GSS variables used: SPKRAC, SPKHOMO, SPKCOM, SPKATH, SPKMIL, RACECEN1

* A few technical notes: Alaskan natives are included in the Native American group (N = 55). The Asian group consists of those who are Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese or "other Asian" (N = 191). Those who self-identify as "other race" are included in the Hispanic group, as 97% of those who elect the same in the US Census are Hispanic (N = 369). The white N = 4,579. The black N = 728.

The number of respondents varies a little by question (the totals broken out above are the smallest for each group across the five questions). The smallest total sample is for the question about allowing communists to speak, for which 5,920 answers are recorded.

The graphs are all presented with a y-value minimum of 45 and y-value maximum of 85 to make distinctions among groups clearer and also to show the differences in the total level of support for various 'societal malcontents' (ie, racists are accorded the least tolerance, homosexuals the most).

The "level of support for free speech" graph is simply the average percentage supporting free speech for each group from the previous five questions.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Additional observations on foreclosures

In a recent post, Steve Sailer reacts to a treasure trove of a report on foreclosure statistics out of the University of Virginia. There are a couple of observations that might be of interest in addition to the content of Steve's enlightening (as always) article.

1) The minority recession (and potential depression) is aptly named. But there is also an age element in play. The decadal average home ownership rate, measured by household, from 1994-2003 for the nation as a whole was 66.4%. During 2005-2007, the two year period preceeding the floor falling out, it had grown to 68.6%. The increase in ownership disproportionately came from people in their twenties and early thirties.

Young adults, with relatively low incomes and little affluence 'benefitted' most from lax lending standards, specifically the removal of the down payment "obstacle". The following table shows the rate of increase and the absolute percentage point increase in home ownership by age group from the '93-'04 period to the '05-'07 period:

AgeGrowth ratePoint rise
18-2429.4%5.7
25-2912.3%4.5
30-343.7%2.0
35-442.8%1.9
45-540.1%0.1
55-640.5%0.4
65+1.4%1.1

Perversely, the baby boomers (aged 45-64), whose future quality of life has been most drastically downgraded by the stock market being chopped in half, were responsible for almost none of the mortgage rate increase. Homeownership rates for these 80 million or so Americans have remained essentially unchanged for twenty years.

But hell, they did start this fire, and their generation's Presidents did not try to fight anything but the prudent, time-tested loan application evaluation measures meant to prevent profligate lending in the first place. Instead, they fanned the flames. So I guess it's a sort of sick karmic justice being served.

2) When the slew of alternative documentation (Alt-A) and option adjustable rate mortgages (option ARMs) that will be readjusting over the next few years cause more housing-related hell, red staters are going to continue to feel less hurt than blue staters will. If recession or stagnation lingers on beyond then, the story will stay the same.

This is because the ratios of housing values to median income in blue states are higher than they are in red states. The inverse correlation between median income as a percentage of housing values during 2007 and McCain's share of the '08 vote is a startling .64 (p=0). In states that voted for Obama in '08, the average (with population weighting) median home valuation in 2007 was 4.4 times median household income. In McCain states, the ratio was a more manageable 2.5.

Consider what that looks like in reality. In Blue State, a couple earning $80,000 a year has a $352,000 mortgage. In Red State, the mortgage is only $200,000 for a couple earning the same $80,000. And that is before taking the higher levels of taxation in blue states into account.

That home values are just a fraction of what they were when so many mortgages were taken out is where so much of the trouble comes in. It is in places where home values increased most rapidly that the bubble's bursting has put mortgage holders the farthest underwater.

Here again, blue states are taking a harder fall than red states are, because skyrocketing real estate prices are a tale of blue cities. The correlation between McCain's share of the vote and the increase in valuation of a state's median home from 2000 to 2007 is an inverse .60 (p=0). In blue states, housing valuations increased by an average of 86% over the seven year period, or 9.3% a year. In red states, they increased by 40% during the same time, for an annual average of 4.9%.

What went up has been necessarily coming down, as there was no accompanying increase in real wealth to justify the valuation increases.

3) That provides a nice segue into one final observation. Median housing prices and median incomes should grow at the same rates. If the former grows faster, a bubble is being created. From 2000 to 2007, median income in the US grew at a rate of 2.2% a year. Over the same period, the median value of homes increased nearly three times as rapidly, at an annual rate of 6.4%. That spells trouble down the road.

Hopefully a tight-fisted Republican resurgence, devoid of any emphasis on foreign military adventures, will come out of this. Conservatives should contrast the inanity of double-digit increases in real estate values and the alarming growth in government spending that accompanies it, founded on nothing more than easy money and growth in unskilled immigration, with a sober, disciplined approach to life to be emphasized at every level of society, that is predicated on the expectation that it is each citizen's responsibility (and a prerequisite to becoming a citizen in the first place) to live within his means and to produce more than he consumes.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sebelius nomination good news for immigration restrictionists?

Jack Cashill is not pleased by Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius' nomination to become the next Secretary of Health and Human Services. With the backing of both of the state's Republican Senators, her confirmation is almost certain. Jack suspects the following narrative:

1--Obama approaches Roberts and Brownback and says, "Unless you pledge not to oppose the Sebelius nomination, I will not nominate her."

2--For Roberts, this is a no-brainer. He just got re-elected. He has no particular reputation as a pro-lifer.

3--For Brownback, it is tough. If he goes along his reputation will suffer.

4--If he opposes, Obama does not nominate and leaks the fact that anti-choice ideologue Brownback has undone the nomination of this still unsullied Kansas governor.

5--Sebelius uses Brownback's "betrayal" of a fellow Kansan to mobilize the Dems and the dumb center for her 2010 Senate race.

6--That same force elects a pro-choice Dem governor.

7--For Brownback it is lose-lose-lose.

8--Politics is an unholy business. Give'm a break.
To a strident pro-lifer, the Sebelius nomination must be horrifying. The political support she has given late-term abortion doctor George Tiller, who boasts of having terminated more than 60,000 fetuses over 24 weeks old from 48 states and several countries in his 35 year career, allows Kansas to stay near the top of a list that, as socially conservative and reliably red, it would putatively be expected to land at the bottom of. As of 2005, the Sunflower state's annual per capita abortion rate is the sixth highest in the nation, behind only New York, Florida, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Nevada*.

To an immigration restrictionist who finds educational romanticism incalculably damaging, it is hardly bad news, however. From the time she was elected in 2002, Sebelius has vociferously proclaimed that increasing educational funding is her top priority. The state budget has grown by more than 8% each year since 2005, with two-thirds of total spending going toward education. Consequently, Kansas has enjoyed the dubious honor of sharing the limelight with California, running into a cash flow problem so acute that state employees were unsure of whether or not they'd receive their next paychecks and residents did not know when their income tax refunds would be mailed out.

Meanwhile, with Sebelius out of the picture, Sam Brownback is a shoo-in for the governorship in 2010. That means one of the GOP's firmest open borders supporters will be out of the Senate. (How about Senator Kobach as a successor?)

While he's not as conspicuous a target for restrictionists as John McCain is, Brownback co-sponsored the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill that went down due to spectacular public opposition. Despite polling at 3% during the Republican primaries, he was given a prime speaking role on the last day of the RNC's nominating convention (an event in which the only words on immigration came from Rosario Marin, who celebrated herself as the "first immigrant of America", and McCain himself, who spoke of the "God-given" rights of a "latina daugther of migrant workers"). Americans for Better Immigration puts a "D" on Brownback's lifetime immigration gradecard--the same letter grade it gives McCain, although the Arizona Senator actually scores a point higher than Brownback does!

As governor of a white state in the middle of the country, Brownback will not be able to influence US immigration policy as he has during his 12-year tenure in the Senate.

* California and New Hampshire have not reported statewide abortion statistics in a decade. More recently, Louisiana has also stopped doing so.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Jason Malloy on Hawaiian IQ

++Addition++The Wordsum distributions for Portuguese-Americans and non-Hispanic whites follow respectively. The P-A average is a slightly more than .4 standard deviations below n-H whites, suggesting an average IQ of around 93 or 94. So if those in Hawaii tend toward the lower end of the SES scale, as Jason asserts, 90 seems to fit as an average for P-As in Hawaii.











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Jason Malloy
offers an answer to the question of why Hawaiian white kids do so poorly on NAEP testing compared to whites in other states (short answer--one-sixth of Hawaiian whites are Portuguese by descent). As a bonus, he provides a similar explanation for why Hawaiian Asians (a category including native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders) also fare so poorly. His calculations are below.

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Median IQ for Hawaiian ethnic groups from The Global Bell Curve and a few other sources:

White: 100
(Portuguese): 90

East Asian: 101
(Chinese): 99
(Japanese): 101
(Korean): 102
(Chin-Haw): 91

Filipinos: 89

Hawaiians: 88
(White-Haw): 93

Puerto Ricans: 78

Applying the ethnic demographics of Hawaii to the IQ numbers listed above, we surprisingly get the same numbers as the NAEP IQ estimates virtually down to the same decimal point.

ASIAN IQ/pop
Japanese 101/16.7%
Chinese 99/4.7%
Filipino 89/14.1%
Korean 102/1.9%
Polynesian 88/16%

Weighted IQ = 93.8
NAEP IQ = 93.6

WHITE
Non-Portuguese 100/21.9%
Portuguese 90/4.0%

Weighted IQ = 98.5
NAEP IQ = 98.5

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Man, the guy is good. I need an RSS feed that tracks every comment and contribution he makes across the entire world wide web.

Sexual revolution, secularism, and mass abortion: A psychological bundle

In a discussion in which Mark of Congenial Times drew a sharp moral distinction between not attending church or having sex with someone of the same gender and having an abortion, the Inductivist responded:

In my mind, they are very far apart. Really, one important reason I worry about a decline in religiosity (or the embrace of homosexual behavior) is that it's tied up with more acceptance of abortion. There seems to be a psychological bundle of Sexual Revolution/Secularism/Mass Abortion.
More than just seems to be, there most certainly is.




























As a secular homosexual, Mark is an outlier in his firm pro-life position. The Inductivist is spot on in assuming, as most readers probably do, that secularism, tolerance of abortion, and support for the loosening of sexual mores tend to travel together.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Foreclosure; illegal immigrants more determinative than NAMs, proximity to Canada

A commenter at Mangan's named Chris looked at the correlation between the per capita illegal immigrant population and the foreclosure rate by state and found a correlation of .68. Using his population figures (accessible here) and the foreclosure or preforeclosure rates from a data-rich paper out of the University of Virginia yields a slightly stronger correlation of .72 (p=0). In the same post, Dennis quips:
It sure looks like proximity to Canada really cuts that foreclosure rate. Maybe people know that they'll be really cold if they get kicked out, so they avoid it.
But it actually doesn't reveal much. Using the latitude of each (of the 48 contiguous) state's most populous city and comparing it to the foreclosure rate produces a weak and statistically insignficant relationship. With the exception of Florida (and to a lesser extent, Georgia), the South, so often maligned for filling out the bottom of socially desirable rankings, has suffered relatively little from the mortgage mess. Louisiana has the fourth lowest foreclosure rate in the country. Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama and both Carolinas are all among the 25 lowest foreclosure rate states.

When Alabama and Mississippi do well, it's a pretty sure bet that intelligence isn't a strong determinate of what is being measured. That is the case here. The correlation between estimated average IQ and the foreclosure rate by state is .32 (p=.02). Thus intelligence 'explains' 10% of a state's foreclosure woes. Pretty minor, especially in comparison to a state's per capita illegal immigrant population, which, by contrast, accounts for 52% of the foreclosure rate.

Another Mangan commenter, Mark, suggests race is probably more germane to foreclosure rates than the size of the illegal immigrant population is:
I would be interested to see a chart of foreclosure rate correlated with percentage of population that is black or hispanic. I think it would show that foreclosures, just like levels of crime, poverty, poor school performance, and other social ills all seem to mysteriously correlate with the proportion of the population that is black/latino. Correlation with illegal status is probably just a proxy for correlation with racial status.
Not so in this case. The correlation between the NAM population and the foreclosure rate is .35 (p=.01). The size of the black and Hispanic population only accounts for 12% of a state's mortgage mess.

Like the identity theft problem (but much more consequential), the mortgage meltdown and ensuing economic recession are inextricably linked to our lack of immigration enforcement. Without the millions of illegal immigrants--one-fifth of whom worked in construction--lowering labor costs while simultaneously putting upward pressure on housing prices by increasing demand, the real estate bubble could never have grown so large. To meet the uptick in demand for houses, more homes had to be constructed, which created a need for more construction workers. The need was met by the immigrants who were in large part pushing the increase in demand for more housing starts in the first place. The problem of low paid people buying expensive houses was circumvented by removing safeguards (like the down payment) in place to prevent such financial recklessness from occuring in the first place.

Permitting masses of unskilled, uneducated immigrants to settle in the US was a bad idea during putatively good times. It's an even worse idea now. As Randall Parker pithily puts it:
Somehow we have to confront the fact that the law of supply and demand works in the labor market just as it does in other markets. A swelling low skilled labor force increases the ranks of those living in poverty while also increasing fiscal burdens of governments to pay growing social services costs. Worse yet, the influx of millions of low skilled workers, their poor performance in American school systems, and their competition for jobs and housing is lowering the quality of life for natives.
The connection Richard Nadler tried to draw between immigration and the wealth of states turned out to be based on illusory economic growth. Lending to people who will never be able to cover their loans does not increase total wealth, even if the financial instruments that are spawned by the activity trick the market into temporarily believing that to be the case.

The complete data set is available for download here.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Evidence from the GSS that military personnel are above average in intelligence

The DoD uses four tests (comprising the AFQT) that serve as a proxy for IQ in making recruitment decisions. The lowest quintile doesn't get in at all, and fewer than 4% of those in the armed forces perform at a level that suggests they have an IQ of lower than 93. So it's not surprising that the military population is, on average, more intelligent than the civilian population is.

NAEP testing strongly suggests this, and the GSS provides evidence for it as well. The survey asked 1,195 whites if they were currently working for or ever had worked for the military or the DoD. The average IQ of those who have and those who have not, converted from Wordsum tests with the assumption that the mean white score constitutes an IQ of 100:

StatusIQ
Military101.7
Non-military99.9

The leftist stereotype that dumb, destitute, and desperate people often turn to the military because they have no other options is bunk. The evidence points in the other direction, indicating that military personnel are, if anything, a cut above the civilian population they serve.

* Due to the small sample of non-whites who have served in the military, only whites are considered here.

Why do Hawaiian white kids fare so poorly on NAEP tests?

In response to the post on the relationship between health and intelligence at the state level, Peter wondered why Hawaii's NAEP scores (on which state IQ estimates are based) are so low. Pacific Islanders average in the mid-eighties on IQ tests, so the islands' indigenous populations offer some indication, but 40% of the state's population--over 500,000 people--is non-Islander Asian. More than half are Japanese, Chinese, or Korean. So the poor performance of the state's NAEP Asian population (which groups non-Islander Asians with native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders)--converted into an estimated IQ of 93.6--seems a little flummoxing. However, while half the state's total population falls into NAEP's broad Asian category, 73% of the students actually taking the assessments do. I suspect Filipino, native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander students are over-represented relative to their total numbers in the larger population and that East Asians are conversely underrepresented.

Where I'm really in the dark is on the question of why Hawaiian whites do so poorly. When I put together IQ estimates based on eighth grade math and science scores from 2005, the only state with lower achieving whites was West Virginia. The most recent results again show Hawaiian whites nearly at the bottom, ahead only of Alabama and, again, West Virginia.

With Pacific Command headquarters and the consequent large military presence in the state, the low scores are even more surprising. The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), comprised of the brats of servicepeople stationed overseas, does very impressively. If the DoDEA schools were aggregated and counted as an individual state, they'd have the eighth highest estimated average IQ (100.6) in the country, just behind Minnesota and ahead of Wisconsin. More remarkable than that is that the DoDEA manages to get said results from a demographic pool that is only 58% white, 22% black, and 10% Hispanic, and 9% Asian. If estimates are broken down by race and by state, the DoDEA schools fare astoundingly well. For Hispanics, as its own state the DoDEA would rank first, with an estimated IQ of 100.2. Ditto for blacks, at 95.8. For whites, it'd come in third, at 102.8. For Asians, it'd be a middling 11th of 23, at 101.3--hardly a score to be ashamed of.

Are Hawaii's military personnel of a different stripe than the aggregate stationed overseas? While the military presence in the state is relatively large, it's still small in an absolute sense, representing about 4% of the state's total population, so maybe it's too diminutive to have any meaningful influence.

Also, Hawaii is probably the most expensive place in the US to live and median income in the state is among the nation's highest. But these Marin-lite settings do not translate into Marin-like results. Why is this? Is Hawaii too much of an earthly paradise, with the beach always calling, for people to put emphasis on intellectual pursuits?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Health and intelligence correlated at the state level

++Addition++Dr. Bruce G. Charlton points to a paper by Prokosch, Yeo, and Miller showing that body symmetry measurements correlate with scores on three of four g-loaded tests on a study of 78 men, the strongest relationship (r=.39) being with Ravens Matrices. To my relief, hair recession in the temple regions was not one of the ten symmetry measurements used (my right side goes a little higher up my head than the left side does)!

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There is a strong relationship between health and intelligence in the US. The United Health Foundation releases an annual report ranking the states based on several health-related factors. These contributing factors have face validity, although there is one peculariaty worth pointing out. The UHF's index page provides five easily digestable graphical representations of conspicuous attributes. The rankings for prevelance of smoking, prevelance of obesity, percentage of children in poverty, and the overall amalgamation all proxy for one another, as seen by clicking on each of these tabs at the UHF page. The South and the Appalachian belt are the least healthy places in the US on a host of measures. But when we jump to the uninsured rate, the concentration shifts markedly to the Southwest, due to the millions of illegal Hispanic immigrants who have no coverage.

The correlation between estimated average IQ by state and UHF's health index is .67* (p=0). The inverse relationship between time preference and intelligence means smarter people are more likely to pass on the junk food, avoid risky behaviors like having unprotected sex or engaging in criminal activity, seek out and set up appointments with specialists for health problems that develop, stick to taking prescriptions and adopting proscribed lifestyle changes, etc.

There is presumably some level of heriditability at play, too. Half Sigma has suggested that the genetics underlying greater intelligence may also be associated with other biological effects that lead to better health.

At the national level, the inverse correlation between IQ and life expectancy is .85, strongly suggesting that this pattern holds globally.

Smart places are livable places. They are more affluent and more egalitarian than duller places are, and they suffer less from social pathologies. In the words of Randall Parker:
Anything that could raise average IQ a few points would do more to boost economic growth and lower social pathologies than increased educational spending or the other typical liberal or free market libertarian nostrums.
Putting into place eugenic incentives--ending low-skilled, illegal immigration and instituting a restrictive merit immigration system based on something like the EB-5 visa program, making the child tax credit progressive with income rather than regressive, sterilization for welfare (well, isn't the argument that because taxpayer funds are keeping big banks afloat Congress should have some say in how they're run? Why not apply that same line of reasoning to our human public charges, too?), showering unmarried mothers and barren high income earners alike in shame (President Obama called out high school dropouts for failing their country, so why not irresponsible single mothers and the cads who knock them up as well?)--will improve quality of life in a slew of ways.

* Hawaii is a major outlier (click on the graph for better resolution), with great health but modest brainpower. Pacific Island nations have average life expectancies in the seventies (with the exception of Vanuatu), despite some endemic health problems like obesity. But the rankings are based in part on the average number of poor mental health days (in Hawaii? That's impossible! Exactly.), health insurance coverage, per capita healthcare spending, and air quality, all of which the archipelago excels in. If the state is removed from the analysis, the correlation jumps to .77. Parenthetically, this is not the first time Hawaii has confounded my probing of the relationship between intelligence and other desirable attributes.