Saturday, May 29, 2010

Militarily fit-to-serve by state (round 2)

Last weekend, I created a "fit-to-serve" index by state. As I was constructing it, it felt like too much emphasis was being put on the percentage of each state's population on parole, on probation, in jail, or in prison. So I went back and reworked the numbers in to create a more straightforward, less arbitrary way of measuring eligibility by state--I simply added the totals of the three inhibiting factors together and then subtracted that sum from 100 to get the percentage of each state's young adult population that is deemed potentially fit-to-serve in the military*:

StateEligible %
1. Vermont59.8
2. Minnesota59.2
3. Wisconsin57.4
4. Iowa57.1
5. North Dakota55.4
6. Connecticut53.0
7. Montana52.7
8. Utah52.4
9. New Hampshire51.9
10. South Dakota51.5
11. New Jersey50.1
12. Pennsylvania49.4
13. Maine48.8
14. Missouri48.2
15. Oregon48.0
16. Wyoming47.4
17. Maryland47.3
18. Massachusetts46.8
19. Nebraska46.7
20. Colorado46.6
21. Idaho46.4
22. Kansas46.1
23. Oklahoma45.6
24. Rhode Island44.2
25. Hawaii42.9
26. Michigan42.3
27. Ohio42.0
28. Virginia41.8
29. Washington41.7
30. Illinois41.4
31. West Virginia40.5
32. Indiana40.2
33. California37.2
34. Kentucky36.1
35. Arizona36.0
36. Texas35.5
37. Delaware35.2
38. New York34.1
39. Tennessee33.5
40. Arkansas32.6
41. North Carolina32.4
42. Alaska32.2
43. Florida28.8
44. Alabama27.9
45. New Mexico23.1
46. South Carolina22.4
47. Louisiana21.2
48. Georgia19.3
49. Mississippi17.4
50. Nevada15.9
51. District of Columbia15.2

What immediately jumps out is how white (and geographically concentrated in the upper Midwest and Northeast) the states with high eligibility are compared to those with more modestly sized eligible populations. The correlation between the percentage of a state's population that is white and the percentage of the young adult population deemed eligible for military service is .67 (p = 0).

So much for the idea of granting citizenship to immigrants upon some set duration of military service--unless they are among the sliver of newcomers hailing from Europe, they won't be able to get in! Because far less than 1% of the adult population is actually serving in the military at any given time, to assert that the perpetual decrease in the proportion of the country's population that is white will make it difficult for the military to find potentially eligible recruits actually isn't justified (though being able to find willingly eligible recruits is a separate issue).

The report's public authors, a cadre of retired military officers, do not mention the demographic angle (nor should they, as it is of course irrelevant!). They do emphasize the putative benefit of early education in reducing criminality and increasing the likelihood of on-time graduation throughout, though--in fact, the report is subtitled "Early Education across America is Needed to Ensure National Security"!

Then, without any apparent sense of self-defeat, the report's appendix includes a table showing the percentages of each state's 4-year-old populations enrolled in pre-kindergarten schooling. This measure inversely correlates with latent graduation rates at a statistically insignificant .09 (p = .53) and probation or incarceration rates at a similarly statistically insignificant .06 (p = .69). That is, early education is not associated with desirable social outcomes like on-time high school graduation and steering clear of the law at the state level, despite the praise heaped upon early education and its supposed long-term benefits.

In the comment thread of the previous post, Silly Girl, perspicaciously detecting the lack of any relationship just by eye-balling the table, remarked:
Ugh, page after page of that report trumpeting the benefits of pre k education, then on page 7 the charts of pre k ed. and graduation rates showing no relationship to graduating based on going to free public pre k. Do they think people can't read and think? Okay, dumb question. Do they think no one, even the more educated folks who likely would read it, would question it?
Kurt9 didn't see anything intentionally furtive going on:
People in bureaucracies don't think, period. Its not that they thought they could slip this report past readers without them reading it critically. Its that they did not even think about this at all.
Whatever the explanation, it is, in the literal sense of the word, ridiculous.

Parenthetically, reassuring me that this method is superior to the index I previously created, the correlation between estimated average IQ and the percentage of the young adult population deemed eligible for military service is .78 (p=0) (IQ correlated with my "fit-to-serve" index at .54); as always, desirable social outcomes and intelligence go hand-in-hand.

* This method assumes no overlap among the three inhibiting factors, even though there likely is a significant amount of it--I suspect failing to graduate from high school on time, being overweight, and scuffling with the law all correlate positively with one another. But I see little reason to suspect the amount of overlap varies significantly by state--that they are likely correlated (the report from which the data come does not attempt to tease out what the true percentage of each state's population deemed eligible for service actually is) means the table above inflates the percentages of state populations deemed ineligible for military service, but in a systematic way that doesn't materially effect some states more than others.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Not too skinny, not too fat, but just right

Last winter, Half Sigma pointed to an online FAQ where it was revealed that commercial turkeys have, through selective breeding, developed breasts too large to allow for natural breeding to occur. Consequently, they must be artificially inseminated. He wondered if there was something applicable to humans in this:
People have also been, allegedly, getting fatter. I think we need to look into whether there’s a genetic explanation. Are fat people having more children than thin people? It’s well established that married people weigh more than single people, and traditionally married people have children and single people don’t. Maybe people are getting fatter for the same reason that turkeys have gotten too fat to mate. It’s all in the breeding.
In 2004, GSS interviewers were asked to assess respondents' weight and place each into one of four categories. The following table shows the mean number of children by weight class. To exclude those whose reproductive life is still ahead of them, only respondents who were at least 40 years old at the time of the interview were included:

Really Heavy2.11

This provides a pretty crude measure of heftiness, but it doesn't support the assertion that humans are getting fatter because the corpulent have more kids than healthy folks do. Those who are noticeably slender, a designation that applies to less than 7% of the population (probably indicating skinniness to the point of apparent emaciation), aren't popping out a lot of kids, either.

I find the table above to be encouraging!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Military fit-to-serve index by state

A report released a few months ago assessing the percentage of those aged 17-24 able to serve in the US military found three quarters unable to do so. That a majority of young Americans are deemed unfit to serve stems from three major causes: Poor health (including obesity), failure to graduate from high school, and the carrying of some sort of criminal record.

Data are reported for each of these inhibiting factors at the state level. Some people are unfit on more than one dimension, so it's not possible to calculate what percentage of each state's young adult population is able or unable to serve (given the percentages for each category, even if there was no overlap, statewide figures do not add up to 75% or more), and the report does not list statewide totals. So I have created a fit-to-serve index* based on these three major inhibiting factors. Higher values indicate a greater portion of the population being eligible for military service:

1. New Hampshire
2. Maine
3. North Dakota
4. Utah
5. Iowa
6. West Virginia
7. Vermont
8. Kansas
9. Montana
10. Wisconsin
11. South Dakota
12. Nebraska
13. Oklahoma
14. Virginia
15. Connecticut
16. Minnesota
17. New York
18. New Jersey
19. Wyoming
20. Missouri
21. Oregon
22. Illinois
23. Pennsylvania
24. Colorado
25. Hawaii
26. Maryland
27. California
28. Tennessee
29. Massachusetts
30. Washington
31. Kentucky
32. Rhode Island
33. Michigan
34. North Carolina
35. Arizona
36. Alaska
37. Ohio
38. Idaho
39. Indiana
40. Nevada
41. Arkansas
42. Delaware
43. Alabama
44. Florida
45. South Carolina
46. Texas
47. New Mexico
48. Mississippi
49. Louisiana
50. District of Columbia
51. Georgia

Fairly predictable, with a couple of exceptions. As is the case with so many other measures of desirable attributes, IQ correlates with the fit-to-serve index at .54 (p=0)

Massachusetts and Minnesota are both relatively far down the list compared to how these states measure on most desirable state rankings due to having the 5th and 7th highest, respectively, percentages of adults on parole, probation, in jail, or in prison among the states. Massachusetts' crime rates are surprisingly high for being an affluent, mostly white northeastern state that consistently tops the NAEP charts. I am not sure why Minnesota finds so many people on the wrong side of the law--the state's reported non drug-related crime statistics are stellar. Are there cities in Minnesota that are drug trafficking hubs for contraband coming in from Canada? Or am I missing something else?

Another interesting bit turned up in looking at per capita service rates by state. While red state populations are essentially no more (or less) able to serve than blue staters are--the correlation between ability to serve and voting for McCain in 2008 is a meaningless .06 (p=.69)--they are considerably more willing to do so. The correlation between the percentage of a state's population that signs up for military service and support for McCain in 2008 is .49 (p=0). Republicans are said to reserve greater hostility for the government than Democrats do, but in the case of the military, the parties have swapped spots.

* 118 + X (where X is 1 in every X adults in a state are on parole, probation, in jail, or in prison) - % of those aged 10-17 who are obese - % of those who fail to graduate from high school on time

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The day the editorially-reviewed scientific journal died

... a week ago today.

Medical Hypotheses' editor, Bruce G. Charlton, is truly an intellectual polymath whose impact on my own thinking can hardly be overstated. Dennis Mangan raised the banner and has fought valiantly in the trenches of the blogosphere for several months now in BGC's defence, while a host of scientists wrote the management of Medical Hypotheses' parent publisher asking, suggesting, and demanding that the alternative publication be allowed to continue as it had since its inception 35 years ago.

It was not enough. Peter Duesberg is apparently untouchable in the science media mainstream. Bruce had the audacity to allow the accomplished Duesberg publish in Medical Hypotheses, a decision that ultimately proved fatal to his job as editor as well as the integrity of the journal itself.

There is little I am able to do on his behalf, of course, but I will certainly point readers to the future location of his work if he chooses to reestablish an online presence beyond his hedweb site. Further, with the loss of his editorship position, finances could potentially be an issue. If they are and Bruce solicits donations, I pledge to match those made on a designated day dollar for dollar.

Sing dirges in the dark.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pew on Hispa-, er, Latino youths in the US

Last December, the Pew Hispanic Center released a report entitled "Between Two Worlds: How Young Latinos* Come of Age in America". For those with an interest in the future socio-cultural environment of the US, there is plenty to think about. Following are a few words on some of those things.

Steve Sailer has observed that subsequent generations of Hispanics are indeed assimilating to US norms of behavior. But they are black norms, not white ones. In a similar vein, they come into the US with socially conservative positions on high-visibility issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. Those who have been in country longer, however, are more liberal. Only 25% of young Hispanics feel abortion should be legal, compared to 38% and 58% of second- and third-generation Hispanics. When it comes to same-sex marriage, 39% of the same first-generation Hispanics support it, while 48% and 52% of second- and third-generation Hispanics do.

Relatedly, new arrivals place relatively more responsibility on the shoulders of Hispanics for their underwhelming levels of educational achievement. While 51% of first-generation Hispanics identify the tendency for Hispanic students not to work as hard as other students as a "major reason" for their struggles, only 22% and 11% of second- and third-generation Hispanics do.

First-generation Hispanics are also less perceptive of the relentless bigotry of their new host country than Hispanics who were born here are. Among first-generation Hispanics, 32% assert that they, a family member, or someone they know well has been discriminated against because of race or ethnicity. For those of second and third generations, 40% and 42% say the same. Funny that, in addition to wearing swarthy skin and having a last name like Lopez, being unable to speak English, eating out of a lunch pale under the shade of a tree in a convenience store lot, wearing pointy-toed boots, and listening to the same music one hears while waiting in line for a Six Flags' roller coaster actually makes one less of a target for racial discriminators than only having brown skin and a surname that ends in the letter z does!

To complement a recent post on future demography at the state level, the following table shows composite racial^ percentages of the US population by age cohort:


(Pacific Islanders are included in the "Asian" category)

Drawing from this table, it looks as though four decades down the road, Hispanic representation among those living in the US will double at the expense of whites. Blacks will tread water, and the Asian share should stay pretty flat as well. Census projections, however, predict a doubling of Asian representation over the same time period. The Census also suggests that the Hispanic share is a little understated, and should be about one-quarter of the total population. These further increases again come at the expense of whites, who are predicted to constitute half of the US population by mid-century. The differences in the preceding table and the Census numbers, of course, are due to immigration--there are lots of people coming here from China and India, but the Asian total fertility rate in the US is right at 2.0, slightly below replenishment.

* Humorously, more than twice as many Hispanics prefer that descriptor over "Latino" (35% to 14%), while half (51%) don't express a preference one way or the other. Even though it is not favored by Hispanics and is less sensible than the term "Hispanic" (Hispanics speak Spanish, not Latin), media types--including Pew, apparently!--are apt to use "Latino". I presume this is because it is more difficult for native English speakers to correctly pronounce "Latino" than "Hispanic"--doing the lipsy thing with the "t" signals a level of cultural sophistication that is to be admired and emulated!

^ Unless otherwise noted, "non-Hispanic" should be assumed to precede each racial category except for "Hispanic".

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

State IQ estimates (2009)

With the 2009 NAEP scores out, it seems as good a time as any to update the IQ estimates by state that are based on the federally administered tests. Previously, I used math and science scores from 2005 to construct the estimates. However, science testing was not conducted in 2009, so I've substituted reading for science this time around.

The scores for both tests are on a 500 point scale, with a designed standard deviation of 50. In the proceeding table, these are are converted to IQ estimates with a mean of 97.5, corresponding to the national average NAEP scores of 281.67 for math and 262.29 for reading, and a standard deviation of 15. The math and reading scores are given equal weighting.

I'm operating under the presumption that the average IQ in the US is 98. The reason the IQ estimates are based on a national mean of 97.5 is to take into account private schools, whose students on average score 15 points higher on the math test and 19 points higher on the reading test, corresponding to an estimated 5.1 IQ advantage over their public school counterparts. Representing a little more than one-tenth of the school age population, this yields a national average of 98. The estimates assume that the private school advantage relative to public schools is equal across states. That is, the public school score, plus 5.1 multiplied by the percentage of a state's students enrolled in private schools, gives the state's overall estimated average IQ.

Again in the spirit of the 2004 IQ hoax, states are colored in accordance to how their populations voted in the 2008 Presidential election. Light red (blue) indicates the margin of victory for McCain (Obama) was less than 10%; dark red (blue) indicates it was 10% or more:

2.New Jersey101.4
5.New Hampshire100.9
8.North Dakota100.5
10.South Dakota100.3
27.New York98.7
33.North Carolina97.8
36.Rhode Island97.3
37.South Carolina97.0
46.West Virginia94.9
49.New Mexico94.8
51.District of Columbia91.2

* "Department of Defense Education Activity", comprised of the children of service members serving outside of the US. Despite a demographic pool (58.1% white, 22.0% black, 9.9% Hispanic, 9.0% Asian/Pacific Islander, 1.0% Native American) that suggests the DoDEA should be found near the bottom of the rankings, if measured as though an independent state, DoDEA schools place 11th, between Maryland and Wisconsin. Military men aren't morons.

An aunt of mine who lives in Alabama has joked that the state's motto is "thank God for Mississippi". The demographic transition the nation is undergoing, however, has already made her remark a bit antiquated. I suspect in a few years' time, both Alabama and Mississippi will be able to thank him for the Southwest.

Although I have substituted reading scores for science scores in converting NAEP scores into IQ estimates four years down the road, the 2005 and 2009 state level results still correlate with one another at a very vigorous .91 (p=0). There is a great deal of consistency in the average state scores among different cohorts of test takers, suggesting that deriving IQ estimates from NAEP testing is sound.

As has historically been the case, the further north one goes, the smarter the population becomes. During the 2008 election cycle, Half Sigma frequently decried the perceived abandonment of the GOP by the cognitive upper crust of the voting population. Indeed, the best-performing red states are only tenuously so. Middling Kansas tops the list of solidly Republican states. I suspect, however, given the staggering growth in government spending that is coming down the pike over the next four years, that 2010 will reveal a reversal in that trend to be occuring.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Another historic milestone has been reached!

In today's NPR morning news cycle, Elena Kagan's nomination was described as heralding the first instance in US' history of three women simultaneously sitting on the bench of the Supreme Court.


It. Will. Never. End.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Some thoughts on Arizona Senate Bill 1070

Because I can always use some help when I put on my polemical hat, the following is excerpted from a facebook discussion that started with a status update by yours truly. Any suggestions to make my points more clear and forceful are appreciated. Most of the entries in the comment thread are 'witty' one-liners, quotes from MLK, etc. The only real argumentation comes from a girl in law school who is a SWPL if I've ever known one, so that's all I'll reproduce here.

I tend to shy away from this sort of thing since several hundred people I know at least fairly well--many of whom I work with or interact with almost daily--will potentially come across it, with a host of possible consequences I'd be better off not having to deal with. Honestly though, ever since I started blogging almost five years ago, I've become increasingly less concerned about reactions to and social consequences of what is empirically defensible and thoughtfully delivered. It's been a slow but steady process. Thus here we are:


AE (status): Article 4, Section 4: "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against invasion..."

Three cheers for Arizonans trying to compensate for the federal government's gross dereliction of duty (one of the few things it is constitutionally mandated to do!).

AE (comments): Israel constructed a security fence that would, at similar cost along the nearly 2,000 mile-long US-Mexico border, set us back $8 billion. That's a week fielding Iraq and Afghanistan. What's our bigger problem--drug smugglers, gang members, and anchor-baby mamas turning the Southwest into an extension of Central America, or subsistence goatherds in the Hindu Kush?

SWPL: Do you care to elaborate on how this is not a violation of the Fourth Amendment or how by the legal standard of a reasonable person such profiling is in any way legal or appropriate? Moreover, are you legitimately citing a Middle Eastern example as model? Because that would certainly seem to be in direct conflict with a number of democratic principles. And, to advocate the use of an area notorious for a lack of peace as a blueprint is quite ludicrous.

Moreover, what proof do you have that indicates a causal relationship between the problems you indicated and the immigrant population? I don't believe 'gross dereliction of duty' can be argued without evidence.

Finally, lest we not forget that much of the world does not geographically differentiate between North and South America, let alone Central. Our problem with the evil 'other' has existed for centuries. His face has been African, Irish, Jewish, German... Yet, we are blind to our own historical ignorance as we make that face Latin.

AE: If there is reasonable suspicion that a person is engaged in illegal activity--in this case, being in the US without the right to be--there are no "unreasonable searches and seizures" taking place. As always, if a law enforcement officer abuses his authority, he can be held liable for it.

Yes, I am citing Israel--far and away the most democratic country in the Middle East--as an example of the effectiveness of a physical barrier in allowing itself to control who comes in and out of it. It has done exactly what it was designed to do, as it would in the US as well. Of course, there is no federal desire for control of the border, as the risible 'virtual fence' that is perpetually behind schedule and has now been put on hold indefinitely demonstrates. Big government needs voters, big labor needs menials, big religion needs believers, big media needs lugubrious sob stories--the Establishment is united in wanting to replace the population.

Directly from the Census Population Survery, 53% of immigrant households with children used at least one welfare program in the calendar year, compared to 36% of native households with children. The MS-13 gang, which the FBI says is more problematic than the Bloods or the Crips, is almost entirely comprised of men of Central American descent. Aliens constitute 30% of all federal prisoners [I've heard this statistic thrown around, though after digging into it a little more, I'm unsure as to whether or not it's accurate], the majority behind bars because of drug smuggling or drug distribution. And then there are the highly publicizied, individual occurences, like the killing of Robert Krentz (and his dog) and the slayings of the Bologna father and sons by Edwin Ramos (an MS-13 member). If US national sovereignty had been asserted, these specific crimes simply do not occur.

Aren't you just the perfect quixotic leftist, lamenting how those of European descent have xenophobia in the very marrow of their bones? The US, along with the other Anglophone countries of Canada, Britain, and Australia, have the most liberal immigration policies in the world, and are by any objective measure the most xenophilic places on earth. Check out what Mexico does to those who come in from its southern border, or how many foreign-born people Japan grants residency to. Shall we see how South Africans have been treating their brothers from Mozambique and Zimbabwe?

And are you really grouping those disparate ethnicities into a single category? Because they certainly, certainly, certainly have not found identical levels of success and prosperity in the US. Not even close. An immigrant isn't just one of the six billion people who were born outside of the US--the specifics matter, which is why the US needs to have control over who gets to come and who gets to stay, just as is the case with every other sovereign country in the world.

SWPL: AE, 30% of the legal population of Arizona is Hispanic. So, you're saying not one of those legal citizens will be required to provide documentation? Because, if so, that would constitute unreasonable search and seizure on the basis of not even their race, but their Hispanic face. You, as the ever-so-privileged white male, will not be required to carry the same documentation because, while no more an American, you have the genetic fortune of being Caucasian. That's discrimination.

To argue that anyone wrongfully detained or victimized by an enforcement officer on a power trip could seek legal retribution does not restore that human being's lost dignity, let alone any other personal or financial losses. Moreover it requires one have adequate means, including time, to bring such a complaint or case. It clogs our legal system. And, the fear such discriminatory law propagates would likely discourage any complaints or suits, anyway.

The anti-solicitation of workers provision has already been held as unconstitutional under the First Amendment, in Virginia and California [Town of Herndon v. Thomas, MI-2007-644 (Va. Cir. Ct. Aug. 29, 2007) and Comite de Jornaleros de Redondo Beach v. City of Redondo Beach, 475 F. Supp. 2d 952, 962 (C.D. Cal. 2006)].

The Israeli wall you cite is denounced by the United Nations, the Red Cross, and nearly every Human Rights organization as a gross violation of international human rights laws, not to mention it's a violation of the Geneva Convention. This is the example of what we need to do? Citing the immigration policies of Mexico, Japan, and South Africa as a measuring stick is equally preposterous.

Immigrants are poorer than the average American citizen. How is your welfare statistic, then, unreasonable? The poverty level of immigrants as compared to their non-immigrant counterparts would suggest their access of social programs is more legitimate. These are legal immigrants, which technically any of us not Native American are at some point in our genealogy. If your problem is with legal American citizens using available government programs, your problem is with the program. Don't twist that issue into immigration.

Actually, I believe it is 33% of U.S. prison inmates are Latino. Scary, until you consider that 58% are white. Yet, we don't seem to be living in fear of white people or lobbying to kick Caucasians out of the country. So, let's not argue we'd be crime free without a population so clearly not the majority of offenders.

I am very far from "lamenting how those of European descent have xenophobia in the very marrow of their bones." I am of European descent and lack this in my marrow. I don't think it's genetic. That would be inescapable. Far worse, I think it is ignorance. I'm lamenting your xenophobia and those who share it and would follow it in stripping others of their rights and bastardizing the beliefs on which this nation was founded: freedom in all capacities and an opportunity to pursue both life and happiness.

I group those people I did for the purpose of demonstrating how the historic Caucasian fear is the one constant in the ever-changing face of the opressed. But, you knew that, which is why you chose to divert the argument.

For the record, I don't disagree with immigration policies, "who gets to come and who gets to stay" as you said. I disagree with the discriminatory nature of this specific bill, which is not only unreasonable but Constitutionaly unsound on multiple levels. The Constitution, of course, being that import document that has defined our policies and laws for more than two centuries.

Also for the record, if some crazy lawmakers or citizens were passing laws or advocating for your deportation in a fashion that was a violation of your rights, I'd fight for you too. That's just the kind of quixotic leftist I am.

AE: I suggest you read SB 1070 before you presume to understand it. Most of the 16 pages deals with punitions for employers who knowingly employ illegal workers. Good faith, which is as simple as the use of the E-Verify program, is exonerative.

As for the charge that people stopped by law enforcement officers will have to provide valid identification, of course they will, just as is currently the case for anyone stopped for a routine traffic violation. The immigration provision applies only in cases where someone has been stopped for another legal infraction--no one is authorized to stop someone simply because he thinks the person he's stopping is illegally in country. The NYT op/ed board blatantly lied when it wrote that the law "requires police officers to stop and question anyone who looks like an illegal immigrant". To the contrary, only when someone is stopped for a suspected crime or misdemeanor unrelated to immigration law are officers permitted to verify legal residency status. A violation of this subjects law enforcement to wrongful action liability, which can very easily restore a person's "personal or financial losses". Google "wrongful arrest compensation" and you'll get 100,000 returns.

Indeed, the law essentially just parrots federal immigration law, which is where the beef is among serious legal thinkers. Federal law requires the federal government to enforce immigration statuates it refuses to enforce. Do states have the right to respond to this dereliction and take action into their own hands or not? That discussion takes us into preemption, nullification, and the perceived importance of the 9th and 10th amendments, which I suspect you find about as relevant as the 3rd, while I find them at least as relevant as the 1st.

Anti-soliciation is going to get another go via Oyster Bay, NY. I hope one of these cases makes its way to the SCOTUS.

Hah, of course the Israeli security barrier is denounced by the UN. But the UN and the ICJ logic is tortured. In a nutshell, Israel is perceived to have invalidated its right of necessity because, in its perpetual conflict with the Palestinians, it has contributed to that defensive necessity. In other words, even the UN cannot deny that a barrier for national defense is legitimate, but if the need for national defense is in part the defending country's fault, then that national defense is deemed illegal! "You may defend yourself from your enemies, unless you have done something to make them your enemies, in which case you must defer to international law (and an international body that is hostile to your existential question) in settling your dispute"--absurd! Because a large chunk of the UN deems Israel's very existence to be illegal, there is no way it will accept Israel's right to self-defense, ever. That doesn't change the fact that the barrier has been a tremendous success in protecting Israeli citizens. So I don't find that argument convincing.

Are you familiar with the acronym "SWPL" (pronounced "swip-uhl")? That you would deem comparisons with Mexico, South Africa, or Japan prepestorous suggests that for purposes of moral posturing, only the actions of other European-descended countries matter. Our spat, which has little to do with the illegal migrants you've rarely seen, is a microcosm of the same.

The CPS surveys both legal and illegal immigrants. It asks only about national origin, not the legality of residency status. Milton Friedman famously claimed that open borders and a welfare state are incompatible. But immigration and a welfare state are not--stop illegal immigration, severely limit H-2A and similar visas, and increase EB-5 visas. Under such an immigration 'overhaul', the welfare state could potentially be expanded, if that is what is seen as desirable.

That said, under current immigration patterns, the usage rate for illegal immigrants is almost certainly higher than that of legal immigrants, as is most thoroughly understood by way of Robert Rector's report entitled "The Fiscal Cost of Low-Skill Households to the American Taxpayer".

While I am generally not supportive of involuntary wealth transfers, I see them as picayune in comparison to issues concerning demography. Sweden is a nice place to live, and, like the rest of Scandanavia, has one of the most generous suite of per-capita welfare benefits in the world.

Fifty-six percent of those incarcerated in the US are white, but not non-Hispanic white. Only 35% of those behind bars are non-Hispanic white (while constituting 66% of the US population). The FBI, for political reasons, plays some absurd games in how it publicizes its racial statistics. For example, while non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics are broken out separately in reports of victimizations rates for hate crimes, they are grouped together as perpetrators of those same crimes. So Hispanics are only able to be the victims of hate crimes--whenever they are the perps, they are reported to be "white"! Parenthetically, despite this, blacks are still 2.2 times more likely to be convicted of hate crimes than whites (plus Hispanics) are.

Feel free to lament my perceived xenophobia (which is societal, not personal, as I've come into contact with more foreign-born folks than most Americans will in their entire lives and yet have never feared any of them, or anyone else for that matter, as fear is an emotion I can scarcely recall ever experiencing). I, in turn, will lament your xenophilia. And our lives will go on.

The rhetoric about bastardizing the foundations of the US is risible. In each of the last 18 years, the US has granted legal residency to more immigrants than the rest of the world combined. Those of European descent, and specifically Anglophone whites, are the most ecumenical, least tribalistic people on the planet. To take something with high visibility, for example, the "institution of slavery" was started by Africans in Africa millenia ago and only finally had its death knell sounded by the British in the early 19th century (excepting pockets in Asia and Africa where it continues to exist and is actually growing today). I will gladly go tit-for-tat with you all day long over the "ever-changing face of the oppressed"; who they've been, who has helped them, and who their oppressors have been. I promise you'll lose the battle, but it's one I'm happy to have, just for sport.

If this country is not, more than anything else, one that is based on the primacy of law, I don't know what other place in the world is. That we collectively refuse (though the public will is certainly there) to do anything in response to the fact that there are somewhere between 10-20 million people residing in the US in open defiance of our laws is a national disgrace and makes a mockery of our constitutional self-conception.

I'm glad you're willing to fight for my rights. Personally, I'm fine at the moment, so if you'd be so kind, let support for Ward Connerly's state initiatives proxy for the support you want to give to me. Much appreciated!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Demographics by state a generation down the road

Our children are our future, right? So we'd best have an idea of who they are. The 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores are out, and the companion site is laden with worthwhile data.

In the US, 12% of school age children are enrolled in private schools, so NAEP does not capture them. It's difficult to find a demographic breakdown of private school students at the national level, but using 2005-2006 data from the National Center for Educational Statistics, I calculate it to be 75.5% white, 9.5% black, 9.2% Hispanic, and 5.8% some other race (unless otherwise noted, "non-Hispanic" should be assumed to describe each category other than Hispanic). At the national level, public schools are 55.8% white, 17.0% black, 21.1% Hispanic, 4.8% Asian, and 1.2% Native American (2007 data). Thus just looking at public education stats slightly shrinks the size of the white slice of the Millenials pie, while correspondingly increasing the non-white share.

The following table presages the demographics of the future by showing racial percentages of the public school student body (8th grade) at the state level, ordered by the most important indicator of social failure (no, bigot, not low test scores, by the percentage of the student body that is white!):

West Virginia93.
New Hampshire92.
North Dakota86.
South Dakota83.
Rhode Island69.98.918.33.10.7
North Carolina56.829.
New Jersey54.917.419.48.10.2
South Carolina53.739.
New York51.619.521.07.40.5
New Mexico29.62.655.61.410.9
District of Columbia5.483.

("Asian" includes Pacific Islanders; "NatAm" = Native American)

Clearly Vermont, like neighboring New Hampshire, will continue to be one of the worst places in the country to live for decades to come, while California and Nevada will continue to get better and better!

Excluding DC and Hawaii, New Mexico is the only state in the US where whites currently do not consitute a majority. In a generation, several other states concentrated in the Southwest and South will follow suit.

According to Bill Clinton, this will be "good for America". I'm skeptical. But that's not the purpose of the post--relaying the data is.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Charter cities: Institute Occidental rules, realize Occidental results?

In a recent EconTalk podcast, host Russ Roberts had Stanford's Paul Romer on to talk about the latter's ideas about what he calls "charter cities". Romer explains that Haitians are miserable because they live under terrible rules. He suggests letting them seek out 'charter cities'--something akin to Singapore with a suzerainty and guarantor of laws that doesn't interfere with internal affairs--and in the process allowing the rest of the world to learn from experimentation in the field. It's the "laboratory of the states idea" on steroids.

The glaring problem in the eyes of HBD realists, of course, is that it is more than just 'rules' that make Haiti Haiti--Haitians themselves play a big role. Relative performance of immigrant groups in the US is similar to the performance of the home countries those immigrants come from. Moving pockets of the underclass into middle class suburbia does not turn the hood rats into burghers--turns out you can take the underclass out of the hood, but you can't take the hood out of the underclass. Likewise, it's easy to get Mexicans out of Mexico, but taking Mexico out of Mexicans is not so simple.

Because it operates under the presumption that human populations are completely interchangeable, the hour long discussion is almost worthless intellectually. But the content isn't all forgettable flotsam. Worse that that, much of it is civilizationally masochistic (28:33):

I think it would be great if we let poor people come to the United States. As [Romer] say[s], their incomes usually jump manyfold. They're very productive. They make our lives better.
Yes, clearly importing poverty on a massive scale is the best way to increase the quality of life in the US! The only reason places like Zimbabwe and Somalia are such hellholes is because they have governments that are too heavy-handed and too feeble, respectively, for a Western standard of living to be realized. Since we have a poor track record when it comes to changing the governmental structures of other countries, a better way of fighting poverty is to take the world's impoverished and put them within the borders of the developed world. What could possibly go wrong?

Roberts goes on to agree with Romer that just allowing a few hundred thousand poor migrants into the US each year is merely a drop in the bucket, that there are one billion people who would benefit from coming here. Those we are unable to take in should be transported to these charter cities (presumably on the developed world's dime, although that's not fleshed out in the podcast). Because they become much wealthier upon taking up residency in the US, largescale immigration of impoverished third-worlders not only carries with it a putative economic benefit (because everyone knows that it is countries where labor costs are lowest are the same countries where standard of livings are the highest!), it also brings a humanitarian one.

The same logic can be applied to wealth redistribution at the individual level. If a bunch of indigents are free to take up residence on Bill Gates' Lake Washington property and use the facilities for their own well-being, it will markedly increase their quality of life. It won't even break Bill's bank. But it will bring down the value of his property, cause him to devote more of his energy to addressing the issues that arise as a result of having indigents living under his roof, decrease the trust existing within the household (Bill's not doing the same thing with his spare time as the indigents are), and disincentivize the behaviors that allowed him to acquire the property in the first place.

I suspect that in response Romer would point out that such indigents being allowed to take up residency on Bill's property is a violation of his personal property rights. But are property rights at the individual level principally different from the rights of a national sovereign to the territory that comprises it? If the majority of the Gates' household was in favor of allowing the indigents to move in, the political argument would be different. When it comes to illegal immigration in the US, however, it is clear that the majority of the Gates' are opposed to hosting the indigents. Forced against their will to accept their new housemates, the Gates' will be prone to move to sections of the house where the indigents don't frequent, such as the northeast quadrant of the property.

The American Southwest is approaching the Deep South in terms of poor scholastic performance, public indebtedness, unemployment, and criminal activity. White flight has been an element of California's existence for over a decade now, due in part to unskilled immigration from Mexico and Central America, most of it unregulated or based on family reunification rather than any measure of merit. The negative externalities listed previously (in addition to accentuated economic and social inequality) associated with largescale unskilled immigration is why laws like the one recently signed in Arizona are created--residents of the states on the front lines realize the transformation from first-world United States into third-world Mexico is not a desirable one.

That Northeastern professors existing in the most unrealistic setting imaginable--the university setting--see no meaningful difference between Ellis Island Jewish immigrants from Russia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries--before the modern welfare state came into being, when a couple percent of aspiring immigrants were actually turned away in fear they'd become public charges, and when the need for physical labor was rapidly rising--and the immigration patterns today is unsurprising.

While I generally enjoy EconTalk podcasts, Roberts regularly makes empirical assertions that are simply incorrect (although to be fair, he usually prefaces them with something along the lines of "I think, although I'm not familiar with the latest data..."). The one theoretical problem he sees with unfettered immigration--although his comments show he really only thinks it's a political, not a legitimate, problem--into the US is the potential for abuse of the welfare system. After asserting that immigrants in the US improve the lives of natives, he insinuates that welfare use among immigrants is not an actual problem (28:42):

As long as they didn't live off our welfare system, which is a big handicap--I don't think they want to live off our welfare system, but the fact that they could, means people aren't going to let them in. We don't have that luxury [the realization that current immigration patterns are beneficial for natives] right now, politically, I don't think.
A graph comparing usage rates of various welfare programs in the US from the Center for Immigration's impressive 2007 report profiling the US' foreign-born population demonstrates, however, that while it may not be the case in Fairfax, on the whole immigrants make considerably better use of welfare programs in the US than natives do: