January 13, 2006

"The New World"

Terrence Malick's 4th movie in a career that goes all the way back to the great "Badlands" in 1973 is another snooze in the tradition of his "Thin Red Line." The good news is that the version that's rolling out nationally is 15 minutes shorter than the 150 minute ordeal I sat most of the way through a couple of weeks ago, but cutting 45 minutes of shots of wind blowing through grass and birds flying would have been even better.

"The New World" stars Colin Farrell as Captain John Smith of Jamestown fame with 14-year-old Q'Orianka Kilcher as Pocahontas wearing a trim little outfit perhaps inspired by Betty Rubble. She's cute, although only quasi- American Indian-looking -- her mother's cousin is blonde singer Jewel.

Smith was an interesting guy, but you wouldn't know it from this movie. All Farrell is allowed to do is moon solemnly over the Princess, who in real life was pre-pubescent. And if they had a romance, nobody bothered to mention it until 19th Century Romantics took up the story.

In the third act, Pocahontas marries John Rolfe (played by Christian "Batman" Bale) and moves to England, but I skipped out and snuck into "Casanova," which is even more ahistorical, but at least makes an effort to entertain you.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Why do Supreme Court Justices move left, especially on social issues?

A long, dull article in the Boston Review by a couple of liberal academics suggests that it's because being on the Supreme Court makes you more sensitive to the complexities of the world, more in touch with the little guy, yada yada. But, clearly, elevation to the Supreme Court makes people less in touch with the real world.

Most strikingly, there's the bizarre system of having each Supreme Court Justice assisted only by four 25-year-old clerks, who are selected straight out of exclusive law schools for one year terms. Thus, the rapidly aging Justices, who now typically serve until about age 78, are exposed to a long succession of very articulate and arrogant young people who lack almost all real world experience. It's the Senile assisted by the Puerile.

Most notably, what's lacking around the Supreme Court are parents with children living at home. Most Justices are empty-nesters and almost no clerks these days have children. If you believe that our society should pay most attention to the welfare of the married-with-children demographic, because they have the most influence on future generations, their lack of representation around the offices of the Supreme Court Justices explains a lot.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Darwin as national hero in Britain vs. pariah here

Americans, who see Charles Darwin as, at best, a weapon with which to club their political and religious enemies, might be surprised to learn that the British ten pound banknote features Darwin on the back. I think several things account for Darwin's high place in the affections of the British vs. his low place in the opinions of Americans, where he is repeatedly grouped with those dubious foreigners Marx and Freud instead of with, say, uncontroversial heroes like Einstein and Edison.

- Simple nationalism: Darwin was English and never even visited the U.S., unlike Einstein who lived here as a beloved icon for a couple of decades. Darwin was not knighted, but he was buried in Westminster Abbey, a higher honor.

- Accessibility: Darwin didn't travel much or appear in public, but he carried on an enormous correspondence with ordinary people interested in plants and animals, which makes up a big fraction of the English. His books are full of citations of observations made by regular folks, along the lines of: "Gussie Fink-Nottle, newt-fancier from Lincolnshire, kindly writes to explain that the striped newt ..." A large number of ordinary Britons treasured a letter of grateful acknowledgement of their contribution to his work from the greatest scientist of the 19th Century.

- Intellectual descent: Darwin's place in the lineage of liberal thinkers such as Adam Smith is more clear to the British, whereas conservatives in America often just don't get the connection between Smith's economics, of which they approve, and Darwin's biology, of which they don't.

- Family and friends: Darwin was embedded in a web of family connections that legitimized and added glamour to his name within Britain. His mother and wife were Wedgwoods, which is still a great commercial brand name in expensive china, and the Wedgwood family provided political and social leadership well into the 20th Century. A reader adds:

And into the 21st, in fact. Anthony Wedgwood Benn [a.k.a., Tony Benn, the grand old man of Labour's left wing], who served in the cabinets of two Prime Ministers, was a Member of Parliament until 2001. His son, Hilary, is a member of Tony Blair's cabinet.

Darwin's worshipful younger half-cousin and sometimes collaborator Sir Francis Galton, outlived him by three highly productive decades. Three of Darwin's sons were knighted for service to science, and his grandson Bernard was the leading golf writer in Britain into the 1960s. The Darwins became in-laws of the Keyneses and other distinguished families. Similarly, the son of Darwin's bulldog, TH Huxley, son married into the Arnold family (educator Thomas of Rugby School and poet Matthew of "Dover Beach") and his sons Julian and Aldous were leading intellectual figures through the middle of the 20th Century. But this network stayed mostly within England.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

SunRocket Internet Phone Service

As part of my not terribly cost-effective obsession with adding two or three dollars per day to my Google Ads revenue by somehow tricking Google into displaying ads that my readers might actually find appealing to click on, I have been trying to think of some heavily advertised product to mention that I've bought and can recommend. Unfortunately, the vicious circle is that I don't have much money to spend on new gadgets so I can't make much ad revenue recommending them. And I'm too old and cranky to like stuff that is new and cool anyway.

My wife, however, has pointed out that six months ago she signed us up for the SunRocket Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) service, and that has been a big moneysaver for us. She is so good at finding low cost telephone service providers that she should do telecom research for a Wall Street short seller. Two of the long distance companies we signed up with charged so little that they went Chapter 11 within a couple of years.

With SunRocket, for merely $200 per year you get unlimited long distance and local phone calls. And that $200 doesn't come with all those taxes that get larded onto normal phone bills. It's just a flat $200. Plus, you get most of the little services like caller ID that phone companies charge a few bucks per month for each. And we got to keep our old home phone number.

Sound quality is okay, but not quite as good as landlines. We get our high-speed Internet from the cable TV company (even though we don't have cable TV), Adelphia, which was bought by Time-Warner. It hasn't been all that reliable, which means that when the Internet goes down, so goes your local and long distance telephone service, including 911. But we have cell-phones from another provider, so they provide a back-up.

In summary, switching to SunRocket VOIP saved us enough money to get three more cell phone accounts.

By the way, the more general problem with Google Ads is that it's too driven by whatever I wrote about yesterday. If I write about anti-ch*l*st*r*l drugs, then there are a dozen ads dealing with ch*l*st*r*l. Instead, it should be accumulating data over the long term about the typical iSteve reader (brilliant, good-looking, nice-smelling, kind to animals, etc.) and providing ads of interest to my base audience.

A reader adds:

I know you've written about Microsoft's great faith in, and heavy reliance on, informal oral IQ tests, but I wasn't sure whether you'd heard that this is also -- and maybe more -- true at Google. Sitting in my apartment wondering why Google stock is worth so much, I googled "how google makes money," and came across a transcript from "60 Minutes."

The report didn't really answer my question (I just can't believe Google makes that much from its ads), but it did contain some very interesting information on the company's hiring practices.

"Google uses aptitude tests, which it has even placed in technical magazines, hoping some really big brains would tackle the hardest problems."

So instead of relying solely on elite schools to filter the applicant pool, as law firms and investment banks do, Google wants to find all the tech geeks, wherever they are, who can mentally rotate 23-sided, multi-colored objects.

On the one hand, it's much easier for a tech company than for law firms or banks to rely on sheer IQ. Techies are fairly cloistered from direct human interaction, both inside and outside the office, so they don't need great social skills or an attractive, put-together appearance. And they don't really even need the articulate speech and polished writing required of most white-collar professionals. Being good at computer stuff is simply about raw abstract thinking power.

On the other hand, it can be dangerous to bring in lots of these super-IQ folks, especially the socially challenged ones. They don't have the mortgage, kids, private schools for the kids, and general concern about how the community perceives them that keep the average white-collar professional in check. Techies are almost always very curious people. And the devious ones have the power to cause a ton of damage -- some of the brightest techies are hackers.

(Of course, we should be glad that direct human interaction, language skills, and trust matter a lot in other white-collar jobs -- that is what has kept them from being outsourced as fast as the tech jobs.)

Obviously Google is well aware of all this.

"Score well on the test, and you might get a job interview. And then another and another. One recent hire had 14[!] interviews before getting the job - and that was in the public relations department."

"[Co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page] make every major decision together, and personally approve the hiring of nearly every new employee."

I wonder how long it will be until the pressure builds and the company announces a massive, billion-dollar "Google Diversity Scholars" program. (Google, like most Silicon Valley companies, is doubtless FAR more diverse than the media and most other professions, but of course not in the "right" ways.)

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

The American Conservative online and offline:

January 16, 2006 Issue

Syria In Their Sights
By Robert Dreyfuss
For the neoconservatives, one Middle Eastern war at a time may not be enough.

Declare Victory and Stay
By Scott McConnell
In his ongoing flight from the reality-based community, President Bush unveils yet another plan for victory in Iraq.

Painting the White House Red
By John Laughland
The torch of global revolution has passed from old-school Communists to neoconservative democracy-promoters.

Impolite Society
By Georgie Anne Geyer
Washington has become an uncivil society.

Out of Africa
By Theodore Dalrymple
A British doctor who once practiced in Rhodesia diagnoses Africa’s ills.

The Girl With the Gray Eyes
By Steve Sailer
Rob Marshall’s “Memoirs of a Geisha”

Like Tourists With Guns
By Christopher Preble
Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground
by Robert Kaplan

The Shakespeare of Music
By R.J. Stove
Beethoven: The Universal Composer
by Edmund Morris

MacKinnon’s Textual Harrassment
By Ilana Mercer
Women’s Lives, Men’s Laws
by Catharine A. MacKinnon

Might the Arabs Have a Point?
By Patrick J. Buchanan
Karen Hughes has her work cut out.

Open Door Policy
By Kara Hopkins
Dressing up amnesty

Christmas Chronicling
By Taki
Thomas Fleming fights for the West.

Fourteen Days: The Business of War; The Christians Made Me Do It; Rumsfeld Minds His Language

Deep Background: Torture Didn’t End With Saddam; Europe’s Suicide Bombers; Cheney Holds Back

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Not quite clear on the concept of the Sailer Scheme

During the French riots, I proposed paying legally resident Muslims to leave Europe. Readers have kindly sent me multiple examples showing that many countries already have rudimentary programs in place to do something like that, demonstrating that European democracies have few philosophical objections to the Sailer Scheme. But they are definitely having trouble getting the details right, as tThe Times of London reports:

ASYLUM-SEEKERS and illegal immigrants are to be offered a £3,000 bounty to leave Britain voluntarily as part of the Government’s efforts to increase the number who are returning home. The handouts will be paid to people who agree to leave the country in the next six months and could mean a family of four receiving £8,000 in cash plus a further £4,000 in job training and education.

It is the first time that asylum-seekers and illegal migrants have been offered cash to leave the country and could cost £6.2 million if the predicted 3,000 people take the offer. In addition the Government will pay their travel costs. The move comes after the Home Office admitted that it has failed to meet the Prime Minister’s pledge that by the end of last year the number of asylum-seekers removed would be more than the number arriving each month.

A Home Office spokesman said that those departing would not be given “wads of £20 notes” as they left the country.Cash would be paid in instalments over the next 12 months in a scheme administered by the International Office of Migration, he said.

The spokesman added that most people who left under the scheme tended to be single males. Of the 2,783 who left voluntarily under the scheme in 2004-05, only 244 were under 18.

Last year Sir John Gieve, the outgoing Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, warned MPs that increasing the payment might encourage people to come to Britain. He said: “If the worst thing that is going to happen to you if you come and claim asylum when you are not due asylum in Britain is that someone gives you a few thousand pounds to send you home, that may not look like a very big downside.”

The point of the Sailer Scheme is to buy out legal residents from trouble-making backgrounds, not illegal aliens. If you don't shut down illegal immigration, you're just giving an incentive to more illegals coming in.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Canadian-government-sponsored report calls for legalizing polygamy: Dean Beeby reports on Yahoo News:

Taxpayer-funded study recommends repealing law that bans polygamy in Canada

A new study for the federal Justice Department says Canada should get rid of its law banning polygamy, and change other legislation to help women and children living in such multiple-spouse relationships.

"Criminalization does not address the harms associated with valid foreign polygamous marriages and plural unions, in particular the harms to women," says the report, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act. "The report therefore recommends that this provision be repealed."

The research paper is part of a controversial $150,000 polygamy project, launched a year ago and paid for by the Justice Department and Status of Women Canada.

The paper by three law professors at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., argues that Sec. 293 of the Criminal Code banning polygamy serves no useful purpose and in any case is rarely prosecuted. Instead, Canadian laws should be changed to better accommodate the problems of women in polygamous marriages, providing them clearer spousal support and inheritance rights...

But the project was also intended to provide the Liberal government with ammunition to help defend its same-sex marriage bill last spring. Opponents claimed the bill, now law, was a slippery slope that would open the door to polygamy and even bestiality.

The combination of Canada's commitment to gay marriage, immigration, and multiculturalism means that the logic of legalizing polygamy will be difficult to resist.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Was Ariel Sharon the victim of malpractice?

Health Day News reported:

The blood thinner given to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon after his mini-stroke in December may have backfired.

In Sharon's case, the medication might have contributed to the massive stroke he suffered on Wednesday, in what experts say is a classic illustration of this seeming paradox in stroke treatment.

After Sharon was stricken when a small clot traveled from his heart to his brain on Dec. 18, doctors immediately put him on blood thinners, which may have been a factor in the far more devastating "bleeding" stroke he suffered on Wednesday.

When King Hussein of Jordan died of lymphoma in 1999 after being treated at the Mayo Clinic, I asked my oncologist, who had (knock on wood) cured me of lymphoma in 1997 and was one of the top lymphatic cancer men in the country, about the King's treatment. He shook his head in disgust, then said he wasn't going to publicly comment on something that would give Arabs another reason to be angry at America.

Meanwhile, Diana Moon asks why almost no one has mentioned "Sharon's serious problems with corruption. These are major, state-related issues which, in a normal state, would at least merit a mention." She wonders whether Jack Abramoff had any contact with the Sharon family. I haven't heard of any links, but it would hardly be implausible since Abramoff was a big financial supporter of hardline settlers in the West Bank, funding, for instance, a sniper school to train them in shooting Palestineans.

One close historical analog to Sharon is the Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest, the most brilliant cavalry commander of his generation, a man dogged by allegations of massacres of prisoners, and one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan after the war.

Although I've criticized Sharon, I must say that by the end of his career, his views had moved a long ways in the direction of mine: that Israel should secure its own safety by buying Jewish settlers out of the occupied territories and fencing off Palestinian land. Of course, I'm sure that I will be denounced as an anti-Semite by the Podhoretzes for holding similar views to those of Ariel Sharon, but that's a burden I will have to put up with.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

January 12, 2006

Bad Fad

I started taking the anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor nine years ago. I also went to a low carb Atkin's-style caveman diet at the same time, and between the Lipitor and the low carbs, it improved my bad cholesterol counts terrifically. On the other hand, Lipitor appears to hurt my short-term memory, making me more scatterbrained about daily errands. (The long-term memory I need to write seems fine, although how could I really remember if it had gone bad?) Also, ever since I started Lipitor, if I try to finish a second alcoholic drink, I get muscle aches.

So, I've been on the lookout for a a new "statin" anti-cholesterol drug. Because Lipitor is the world's #1 drug, with over $10 billion in annual sales, I figured lots of competition would be bringing forth lots of new statins. But the only one to reach the market in the last decade has been Crestor.

Gregory Cochran sends along a Wall Street Journal article that explains this slowdown in new drug development was not a fluke:

Drug firms, scientists go back to nature

By PETER LANDERS, The Wall Street Journal Tuesday, January 10, 2006 1:11 AM PST

TOKYO -- It took two years and thousands of moldy broths for Akira Endo to find something that reduces cholesterol. His breakthrough, drawn from a mold like one that grows on oranges, turned out to be the first in a class of medicines that today bring $25 billion a year to pharmaceutical companies.

Dr. Endo's 1973 discovery of the first anticholesterol statin has been relegated to obscurity. Yet the feat spotlights a long-denigrated craft now experiencing a revival: the discovery of drugs from nature's treasure chest.

The fungal byproduct that Dr. Endo originally discovered shares the same basic chemical structure as three of the biggest-selling anticholesterol drugs: Zocor, Pravachol and Mevacor. Millions of people have taken these drugs to lower their heart-attack risk.

"Whenever we have started with the natural molecule, we have been building on three billion years of natural selection," says Sir James Black, who developed the first beta blocker for heart conditions and the antiulcer drug Tagamet at British pharmaceutical companies in the 1960s and 1970s.

For much of the past 15 years, the pharmaceutical industry was "in no mood to be sympathetic to these views," says Sir James, who is 81 and still active in drug discovery. Companies jumped on trendy areas such as synthesizing and testing thousands of artificial chemicals unknown in nature. More recently, they have tried to use the decoding of the human genome to figure out the root causes of diseases and discover cures.

For the most part, those efforts have yet to pan out. Just 20 new drugs were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2005. Several top drug companies are facing flat revenue and declining profits, including Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co., the two companies that have profited most from statins.

Many drug companies scaled down or eliminated divisions focusing on natural products starting in the 1990s. In 2001, Merck closed its natural-products drug discovery department, though it still does some research in the area. In early 2003, Eli Lilly & Co. transferred its library of natural products to a small company in Albany, New York.

But now, in some corners, natural products are returning to fashion.

Cochran comments:

This problem - drug researchers growing bored with natural products - never gets discussed, mainly because it fits into no common ideological category. It's just a bad scientific fad, like Freudianism, but it has really damaged drug development (half the rate of the 1970s with oodles more money).

And this article played a role in a new idea which I had about 20 minutes ago - a very big idea. Bigger than worlds.

Well, I don't know what his new idea is, but when Greg says he's got a Big Idea, watch out ...

By the way, the WSJ article describes all the troubles Dr. Endo had in getting anyone in Japan to pay attention to his discovery of a class of drug that now generates $25 billion annually:

The scientific successes were followed by dissension among Dr. Endo and his colleagues. As he tells it, Sankyo's brass was unenthusiastic about his discovery because there was no precedent for it. They preferred to develop refinements of then-existing cholesterol drugs, he says.

I've often noticed that the truest believers in the stereotype that the Japanese aren't really creative, that they are just good at refining the big breakthroughs of others, are the Japanese themselves. I wonder how creative they'd be if they just developed some confidence in their own creativity.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Yglesias's bit of IQ realism tossed down the Memory Hole at Tapped

Glaivester points out that Matt Yglesias's posting on IQ on TAPPED, the bl*g of The American Prospect, has been disappeared. As Kevin Drum quoted Yglesias, in response to the news that due to the Iraq War-caused recruiting difficulties, the share of new recruits inducted by the military who score at or below the 30th percentile in IQ has gone from 1% to 12%

Matt Yglesias comments:

I tend to doubt, however, that this line of criticism will gain any traction, since making the argument requires you to say that IQ tests (which is all the AFQT really is) are an important measurement and most liberals prefer to shy away from the topic.

But, now it's gone! Apparently, most liberals prefer to shy away from the topic so much they don't even want to be reminded that they prefer to shy away from the topic.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

What they don't teach you at MBA school

A reader writes:

A few years ago, I worked for a "crisis management" security company which sent some of us to Watsonville, California, the "strawberry capital" of the world. Our function was to keep two mutually antagonistic groups of Mexican migrant pickers from killing each other. The groups were from and represented two different areas of Mexico.

After awhile we figured what it was all about. A group of young MBA types had worked out a business plan of taking over the strawberry business, and perhaps the other produce businesses in the area. First they bought the largest strawberry ranch. They willingly called in the UFW to organize their pickers. Why? Because they were going to "give" them all kinds of benefits such as healthcare, retirement, etc.. This would cause all the pickers working for the small mom and pop ranches in the area to succumb to the UFW organizing efforts, and hence drive the small ranches out of business because of the benefit costs. Then the bright young guys would swoop in and buy them all out for a song, and create a semi-monopoly in the strawberry business.

One group of pickers wanted this, and one wanted to keep the old system of a company union which offered no benefits, but fairly steady work. The two groups' originating regionalism played a big part. As fate would have it, for the second year in a row the latter group prevailed in the state supervised elections. When I left the hotshot guys and the UFW were outfoxed by a bunch of poor campesinos.

Having gotten an MBA a long long time ago, this just reminds me of all the things they don't teach you. B-school is great for learning about how to calculate a stock's beta, but not for this kind of thing.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Steve Gilliard, Angry Black Liberal IQ Maven

One of the more original voices on the web is Steve Gilliard who runs The News Blog. He's a black guy, hates Bush and all Republicans, but the interesting thing is that he writes more about Armed Forces Qualifying Test issues than anybody else. The military has been giving IQ tests to would-be recruits since 1917 and has an enormous amount of data on how people of different IQs perform on average in various jobs. Yet, almost nobody in the media even knows this exists. But Gilliard does.

Here's his response to Fred Kaplan's "GI Schmo" article in Slate on the rate of new recruits being accepted in "Category IV" (below the 30th percentile in IQ) rising from 1% to 12%:

"Degrading competence" are nice words. " My Lai" isn't so nice.

The soldiers who murdered the residents of My Lai 4 were drafted under Project 100,000. The Americal (23rd) Division was the last division formed in Vietnam and had last call on soldiers. The better units, like the 1st Cav and the Airborne, had their pick of the better recruits. But the Americal was troubled during it's entire stay in Vietnam. Part of that was due to the low caliber of soldier in the the ranks.

What was Project 100,000?

On 10-1-66, McNamara launched P/100000 in response to Pres Johnson's War on Poverty. Under this program, DoD began accepting men, as volunteers or draftees, who would not qualify for military service under previous aptitude and medical standards. The Office of the SecDefense outlined 3 main purposes for the project: > Greater equity in spreading the opportunities and obligations of military service;

> Recognition of the unique capability of the military training establishment to produce fully satisfactory servicemen among culturally disadvantaged men who had previously been deferred;

> Foresighted military manpower planning. The manpower goal of P/100000 was to accept 40,000 men under relaxed standards during the 1st year and 100,000 per year thereafter. Approximately 91% of these "New Standards Men," as they were called, came in under lowered aptitude/education standards, and 9% entered under lowered physical standards (i.e., with readily remediated physical defects). This testimony "focuses only on the L/A group.

Under P/100000, aptitude standards were relaxed, but not eliminated. Men with AFQT scores in CatV [below 10th percentile] were still not eligible. The P/100000 men were a subset of those accessions who had AFQT scores in CatIV [10th to 30th percentile]. That is, some CatIV men who were high school grads were eligible under previous standards, because aptitude requirements are less stringent for grads than for non-grads. In addition, some CatIV non-grads had high enough scores on other tests used for job assignment, such as the Army Qualification Battery, that they also were eligible under preexisting standards. Therefore, not all CatIV accessions were New Standards Men [NSM].

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

It's a white white white white world at the top

Awhile back I tried to explain to Jared Taylor that his white ethnocentrism wouldn't fly in the U.S. for the paradoxical reason that whites remain so dominant in many of the more desirable industries that no sense of white solidarity could emerge because the top people see themselves as engaged in clawing their way to the top over other whites, and they look upon minorities merely as tokens or as props they can use to engage in a little moral oneupmanship over their white rivals.

Steve Gilliard points us toward an article in the New York Observer by Lizzy Ratner called "Vanilla Ceiling" on the editorial and writing staffs of New York glossy magazines:

Still, the results of the survey revealed a world that looks little like the streets of New York, where nearly 65 percent of the population identified itself as nonwhite in the 2000 census.

Of the 203 staffers and contributors listed on the Vanity Fair masthead, six—or less than 3 percent—are people of color.

At Condé Nast Traveler, the swank travel monthly, 11 of the 85 staffers and contributors listed on the masthead are people of color. Of those 11 staffers, three hold editing positions and two are contributing editors, while six hold lower-masthead positions as researchers and assistant editors.

The New Yorker doesn’t publish a masthead, but based on conversations with sources and available published information, the magazine has a pool of some 130 editors, critics, copy editors, fact checkers, editorial assistants and outside contributors—of whom 11 are people of color.

At Jann Wenner’s Rolling Stone, four members of the magazine’s 73-person editorial staff are people of color. Six members of New York magazine’s 90-person team of editors, writers, contributors and editorial assistants are not white. ... At Forbes, an estimated seven people out of a pool of 116 editors, writers, reporters, editorial assistants, copy editors and bureau correspondents are people of color.

And the non-glossy Nation lists eight people of color among its 99 writers, editors, editorial-board members and Nation Institute fellows.

You can see why immigration has been such a non-issue for most of the media. The concept that immigration could be lowering anybody's wages seems bizarre to them because in their professional worlds, nonwhites of any kind, much less immigrants, are basically a non-factor.

Of course, some media outlets, especially big city newspapers, have strict affirmative action plans. This means that their staffs instantly become hostage to the minority editors and reporters if they even dream about deviating from the line of political correctness.

It's a fascinating two-state system, both of them disastrous for having an honest discussion of immigration. Without a quota, most press organs will be almost all white, so immigration seems irrelevant and unimportant to the staff. Or, the ownership impose a quota which means the staff then can't say much that's critical about immigration because the Hispanics would threaten to quit, which would wreck the managers' performance ratings for meeting the quota.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Skandar Keynes

A reader points out that the child actor Skand Keynes who plays Edmund in "Narnia" is the great-great-great grandson of Charles Darwin. The "Keynes" in his name comes from the same distinguished family as his great-great uncle John Maynard Keynes, although the economist himself was not the reproductive type.

The English Liberal intellectual families sure intermarried a lot. For example, novelist Aldous and biologist Julian Huxley were not only the grandson's of Darwin's bulldog TH Huxley, but the great nephews of poet Matthew Arnold. Their lesser known half-brother Andrew, was a 1963 Nobel Laureate in physiology. (He married a Wedgwood, just like Darwin and Darwin's father did.)

Also, I also just opened up the golf magazine I get for free and it includes an article entitled "Darwin's Gift." In golf magazines, "Darwin" doesn't refer to Charles Darwin, but to his grandson, the minor genius Bernard Darwin, who remains considered the greatest of all writers on golf. (Bernard's prose style bears comparison to P.G. Wodehouse's.) Little Bernard was raised at his grandfather's house in Down and the charming tyke was the delight of Charles' old age.

It's easy to see where Darwin's half-cousin Francis Galton (they were both grandsons of the polymath Erasmus Darwin) got his theory of "hereditary genius."

A reader adds:

I see that composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, no less, is also in the Darwin-Wedgwood-Keynes family tree:

Ralph Vaughan Williams's maternal grandmother, Caroline Sarah Darwin, was Charles Darwin's older sister, and his maternal grandfather, Josiah Wedgwood III, was the older brother of Darwin's wife Emma. [Charles Darwin married his first cousin.]

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Tim Carvell and Steve Martin

When I mentioned that the amusing parody of the literary scandals around James Frey and JT Leroy by Time Carvell reminded me of something, a reader responded:

An essay by Steve Martin, entitled "Preface to My Autobiography", appeared in the November 15th, 1999 issue of The New Yorker. It is definitely in the same spirit as Carvell's admission, including such phrases as "Other fictionalized accounts, related not to fool the reader but to illustrate various aspects of my character, include the single-handed asphalting of a two-mile stretch of Sunset Boulevard, the shunning of the Nobel Prize for my work in gene therapy, and the impregnation of fertile housewives with the tacit approval of their grateful husbands" and "I wish to thank the Greek poet Homer, for without his Iliad I would have been at a loss to put into words certain of my exploits during Desert Storm." Is this, perhaps, what you had in mind?

By the way, although Frey's A Million Little Pieces is Steven D. "Freakonomics" Levitt's new favorite book, it's definitely not John Dolan's favorite. Here's his 2003 review from The eXile:

But then Frey is no expert observer, as he proves in one of the funniest scenes from his nature walks, when he meets a "fat otter": "There is an island among the rot, a large, round Pile with monstrous protrusions like the arms of a Witch. There is chatter beneath the pile and a fat brown otter with a flat, armored tail climbs atop and he stares at me."

Now, can anyone tell me what a "fat otter with a flat, armored tail" actually is? That's right: a beaver! Now, can anyone guess what the "large, round Pile with monstrous protrusions like the arms of a Witch" would be? Yes indeed: a beaver dam! [To be precise, Canadian experts inform me, a beaver lodge.]

Any kindergartner would know that, and anyone with a flicker of life would be delighted to see a beaver and its home. But for Frey, a very stupid and very vain man, the "fat otter" is nothing but another mirror in which to adore his Terrible Fate. He engages the beaver in the most dismal of adolescent rhetorical interrogations:

"Hey, Fat Otter.

He stares at me.

You want what I got?

He stares at me.

I'll give you everything.

Stares at me...."

And so on, for another half-page. You want to slap the sulking spoiled brat. The Fat Otter should've slapped him with its "flat, armored tail" and then chewed his leg off and used it to fortify its "Pile with monstrous protrusions."

Reading Levitt's praise of "A Million Little Pieces," I've finally figured out the secret to Levitt's success as a bestselling author. It's not that he understands the common mind (of the book buying public) as that he has the common mind.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

January 10, 2006

Unbelievable authors

The recent revelations that James Frey's huge bestselling "autobiography" of his drug rehab, A Million Little Pieces, is tremendously exaggerated and that acclaimed writer JT Leroy doesn't, technically, exist inspired Tim Carvell to come clean too:

IT is with great sorrow, and no small amount of embarrassment, that I must confess to some inadvertent errors, omissions and elisions in my best-selling memoir, "A Brief History of Tim." ...

I am not, in fact, black.

Nor am I, to the best of my knowledge, a woman. Anything in my book that suggests otherwise is the result of a typographical error. That this error was compounded by my decision to pose for my author photo and bookstore appearances in drag and blackface is, I will acknowledge, unfortunate.

The portions of my book dealing with Depression-era Ireland are, I have been reliably informed, copied verbatim from Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes." I can only conclude that I accidentally confused my manuscript with my notes for my memoir in which I copied large portions of other writers' works, just to see how they were structured. In hindsight, the fact that I was born 40 years after the Depression should have been a tip-off.

However, Frey does have at least one fellow bestselling author as a defender. See how quickly you can guess who wrote this on his blog:

Hats off to Oprah

I don’t care what ... The Smoking Gun website say ... , I am a huge fan of James Frey’s book anyway.

I saw the book “A Million Little Pieces” by James Frey at a bookstore the other day. I had never heard of it, except that it is the Oprah Book Club pick. I figured I would hate it (Anna Karenina is not my thing, for instance), but quickly glanced at the inside flap to see what it was about. ...That was enticing enough to get me to buy the book. It has radically exceeded my expectations. It provides an amazing window into the ravages of addiction. I half felt like I was a recovering addict reading it. I can’t recommend it highly enough...

It reads like fiction anyway. So unlike Freakonomics, I’m not sure it matters whether it is true or not. Others may disagree.

Steven D. Levitt

Perhaps Levitt can enlist Clifford Irving as his co-chair in a "Truth Schmuth Club to Defend James Frey."

Not surprisingly, Levitt and Dubner's column in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine "Hoodwinked" was an admission that much of their Freakonomics chapter "How Is the Ku Klux Klan Like a Group of Real-Estate Agents?" was phony :

"The greatest discrepancy is that many of the adventures that [Stetson] Kennedy described as autobiographical in fact seem to have been based on the efforts of a different man, a [Ku Klux] Klan informant named John Brown."

It's not terribly important, except as yet more evidence of Levitt's credibility. This whole KKK section of Freakonomics was blatantly irrelevant. It was completely non-quantitative and ancient history. Nor did it have anything to do with the chapter's subject of information asymmetries. Real estate agents have an advantage over buyers and sellers because they access to information other people don't. In contrast, the KKK had an advantage because they use violence, which, despite all their other sins, real estate agents don't.

I would guess that this phony KKK story got shoved in the book because the authors wanted to protect themselves against charges of other sections of the book being anti-black, and maybe Dubner had some unused notes from an abortive article about Stetson Kennedy laying around.

Levitt hasn't gotten around to admitting yet in his NYT column that his most popular theory -- that legalizing abortion lowered crime -- was based on two technical errors he made in his calculations.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Was Margaret Mead's debunker a little too tightly wound?

Derek Freeman's 1983 takedown of Margaret Mead's 1928 bestseller on the malleability of human nature, Coming of Age in Samoa, was a gratifying puncture in the hot air balloon of the dominant Boasian school of anthropology.

But I've long been uneasy about Freeman's contention that, contra Mead, the Samoans were actually paragons of premarital sexual restraint. I don't know anything in particular about Samoans (and, judging by the size of the typical Samoan lad, it's probably not a good idea to risk giving him the impression you are interested in learning whether his sister puts out), but judging by other Pacific Islanders, that seems not wholly plausible.

Now Australian scholar Hiram Caton, no Boasian himself, says his old colleague Freeman wasn't always the most stable of individuals. Unfortunately, he doesn't shed much new light on the Samoan controversy, other than that if you get into a debate over it, you shouldn't completely tie yourself to Freeman's credibility.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Real estate investing tip

Seaside golf courses such as Pebble Beach can be some of the most valuable real estate in the world. The world is still full of spectacular undeveloped seacliffs and seaside linkslands where what's prevented golf course development has been lack of fresh water. Baja California is the most obvious example.

Now, however, the paspalum variety of grass has been developed, which can be watered with seawater straight out of the ocean. It's such a good grass for golf courses that a number of existing seaside courses are converting to it. This opens up an extraordinary amount of seaside to be the next Pebble Beach. (This also implies: don't overpay for existing oceanside resort golf courses, since the supply, especially in Mexico and the Caribbean, is likely to boom in coming decades.)

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Alito Infinito

Is it just me or does it seem like Samuel Alito has been a Supreme Court nominee under consideration by the Senate for most of this millennium? Is this the most boring big story? Or is it "What will Howard Stern be like uncensored?"

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

So, who is this Henry Darger guy and why is he showing up in my Google Ads?

One of the oddities of having Google Ads is that you aren't allowed to click on the ads on your own site, because if you do, in the manner of John Goodman in "The Big Lebowski," "Son, you've just entered a world of pain."

I think the Henry Darger PBS documentary ad keeps showing up because I listed "Junebug" in my favorite movies of 2005, and one of the characters is trying to sign up an "outsider artist" (i.e., mentally ill rural nobody painter) to exhibit at her gallery.

I once visited the Art Brut museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. It sounded pretty cool -- deranged artists! -- but it turned out that people locked up in insane asylums have a whole lot of time on their hands, and their artworks reflect it -- e.g., a model of the Eiffel Tower made out of 50,000 toothpicks. But Mr. Darger could be more interesting.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

It's me and Chas's fault!

Kevin Drum, the popular Washington Monthly bl*gger, writes:

COGNITIVE ABILITIES....Fred Kaplan writes in Slate that the Army has responded to its recruiting woes by dramatically lowering its standards:

The bad news is twofold. First, the number of Category IV recruits is starting to skyrocket. Second, a new study compellingly demonstrates that, in all realms of military activity, intelligence does matter. Smarter soldiers and units perform their tasks better; dumber ones do theirs worse.

"Category IV" is the Army's term for recruits who score in the bottom third of the Armed Forces Qualifying Test. Matt Yglesias comments:

I tend to doubt, however, that this line of criticism will gain any traction, since making the argument requires you to say that IQ tests (which is all the AFQT really is) are an important measurement and most liberals prefer to shy away from the topic.

If that's true, it's too bad for a community that likes to think of itself as reality based. Like it or not, all the PC handwaving in the world won't change the fact that (a) IQ tests are a pretty good measure of the cognitive ability normally referred to as "intelligence" and (b) intelligence is an important trait for a wide variety of modern day tasks. Kaplan reviews the evidence that intelligence matters for military tasks in his Slate piece.

Of course, we all know what the real problem is here: in contemporary discourse intelligence is inextricably bound up with race, which is why it's almost impossible to talk honestly about it. For that we mainly have conservative race demagogues like Charles Murray and Steve Sailer to blame — even though liberals themselves haven't been entirely blameless either when it comes to demagoging IQ.


[Comment Here]

Actually, it's quite easy to talk honestly about IQ. Charles Murray and I do it every time we write about IQ. All that it takes to be honest about IQ is to be willing to put up with demagogic smears from the likes of Kevin Drum.

The way to talk honestly about IQ is to resolve to talk honestly everything, because all truths are interconnected.

A reader sends me $100 and responds that I should thank Kevin Drum:

I'd been meaning to PayPal you some funds for your day-in, day-out kickass blogging but hadn't gotten around to doing it. Then I read where Kevin Drum, WHO OBVIOUSLY HAS EXACTLY THE SAME VIEWS ON RACE AND INTELLIGENCE AS YOU DO, called you a "race demagogue" on his site, and I thought, "OK, that's it, I'm sending Sailer $100". So please take your wife out to dinner with it, and drink a toast to Kevin Drum!

Working in the media as I do, I can't say what you say, even though I believe it. But I can send you money, which feels almost as good! Keep up the good, *important* work.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

January 9, 2006

Slate almost mentions the dread letters "IQ"

Fred Kaplan has another good column on the news I pointed out on Dec. 12th: that new Army recruits scoring below the 30th percentile on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (the IQ test that provided the data for the backbone of The Bell Curve), after a dozen years of being held to no more than 1% skyrocketed to 12% in October. Of course, he leaves out the letters IQ or any mention of The Bell Curve. The headline, "GI Schmo," given by Slate shows the contempt in which liberals hold their 90 million fellow Americans who have IQs below the 30th percentile.

GI Schmo
How low can Army recruiters go?
By Fred Kaplan
Posted Monday, Jan. 9, 2006, at 5:06 PM ET

Three months ago, I wrote that the war in Iraq was wrecking the U.S. Army, and since then the evidence has only mounted, steeply. Faced with repeated failures to meet its recruitment targets, the Army has had to lower its standards dramatically. First it relaxed restrictions against high-school drop-outs. Then it started letting in more applicants who score in the lowest third on the armed forces aptitude test—a group, known as Category IV recruits, who have been kept to exceedingly small numbers, as a matter of firm policy, for the past 20 years. (There is also a Category V—those who score in the lowest 10th percentile. They have always been ineligible for service in the armed forces and, presumably, always will be.)

The bad news is twofold. First, the number of Category IV recruits is starting to skyrocket. Second, a new study compellingly demonstrates that, in all realms of military activity, intelligence does matter. Smarter soldiers and units perform their tasks better; dumber ones do theirs worse.

Until just last year, the Army had no trouble attracting recruits and therefore no need to dip into the dregs. As late as 2004, fully 92 percent of new Army recruits had graduated high school and just 0.6 percent scored Category IV on the military aptitude test.

Then came the spiraling casualties in Iraq, the diminishing popularity of the war itself, and the subsequent crisis in recruitment.

In response to the tightening trends, on Sept. 20, 2005, the Defense Department released DoD Instruction 1145.01, which allows 4 percent of each year's recruits to be Category IV applicants—up from the 2 percent limit that had been in place since the mid-1980s. Even so, in October, the Army had such a hard time filling its slots that the floodgates had to be opened; 12 percent of that month's active-duty recruits were Category IV. November was another disastrous month; Army officials won't even say how many Cat IV applicants they took in, except to acknowledge that the percentage was in "double digits." ...

Some may wonder: So what? Can't someone who scores low on an aptitude test, even very low, go on to become a fine, competent soldier, especially after going through boot camp and training? No question. Some college drop-outs also end up doing very well in business and other professions. But in general, in the military no less than in the civilian world, the norm turns out to be otherwise....

In a RAND Corp. report commissioned by the office of the secretary of defense and published in 2005, military analyst Jennifer Cavanagh reviewed a spate of recent statistical studies on the various factors that determine military performance—experience, training, aptitude, and so forth—and concluded that aptitude is key. A force "made up of personnel with high AFQT [armed forces aptitude test] scores," Cavanagh writes, "contributes to a more effective and accurate team performance."

The evidence is overwhelming. Take tank gunners. You wouldn't think intelligence would have much effect on the ability to shoot straight, but apparently it does. Replacing a gunner who'd scored Category IV on the aptitude test (ranking in the 10-30 percentile) with one who'd scored Category IIIA (50-64 percentile) improved the chances of hitting targets by 34 percent. (For more on the meaning of the test scores, click here.)

In another study cited by the RAND report, 84 three-man teams from the Army's active-duty signal battalions were given the task of making a communications system operational. Teams consisting of Category IIIA personnel had a 67 percent chance of succeeding. Those consisting of Category IIIB (who'd ranked in the 31-49 percentile on the aptitude test) had a 47 percent chance. Those with Category IV personnel had only a 29 percent chance.

The same study of signal battalions took soldiers who had just taken advanced individual training courses and asked them to troubleshoot a faulty piece of communications gear. They passed if they were able to identify at least two technical problems. Smarts trumped training. Among those who had scored Category I on the aptitude test (in the 93-99 percentile), 97 percent passed. Among those who'd scored Category II (in the 65-92 percentile), 78 percent passed. Category IIIA: 60 percent passed. Category IIIB: 43 percent passed. Category IV: a mere 25 percent passed.

The pattern is clear: The higher the score on the aptitude test, the better the performance in the field. This is true for individual soldiers and for units. Moreover, the study showed that adding one high-scoring soldier to a three-man signals team boosted its chance of success by 8 percent (meaning that adding one low-scoring soldier boosts its chance of failure by a similar margin).


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

"Isaac Newton, one of Trinity College's most distinguished alumni"

I'm reading a biography of Sir Francis Galton, who attended Trinity College at Cambridge University. I found amusing the biographer's cautious reference to Sir Isaac Newton as "one of Trinity College's most distinguished alumni." Wouldn't Newton rank as the most distinguished alumni? After all, what other Englishman is as distinguished as Newton (besides Shakespeare, and he didn't go to college). Newton was calculated to be the most eminent figure in the sciences in human history in Charles Murray's Human Accomplishment.

Still, when I looked up on Wikipedia the list of alumni of Trinity, I could see why the writer didn't want to commit himself. Here are some other Trinity alumni: Francis Bacon, Niels Bohr, John Dryden, Thomas Babington Macaulay, James Clerk Maxwell, Vladimir Nabokov, Bertrand Russell, Ernest Rutherford, and William Makepeace Thackeray! And that's leaving out worthies of the caliber of Arthur Balfour, G. H. Hardy, A. A. Milne, Jawaharlal Nehru, John Maynard Smith, Lytton Strachey, and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Boy, would diversity activist Jaebadiah Gardner be sore if he had to attend Trinity instead of merely the U. of Washington in Seattle, where he still feels oppressed by the statues of Dead White European Males on campus.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

January 8, 2006

"American Gunfight"

My new VDARE column reviews American Gunfight: The Plot to Kill Harry Truman—and the Shoot-out that Stopped It by Stephen Hunter and John Bainbridge Jr. I write:

The Bush Administration's Invade-the-World-Invite-the-World strategy of throwing our weight around abroad while not bothering to secure the borders at home threatens to lead to some nasty blowback in the future.

In the past, a similar combination of policies—the subjugation of Puerto Rico in 1898 combined with the opening of our borders to Puerto Rican immigrants in 1917—eventually brought about two of the most spectacular terrorist attacks in American history:

  • The November 1, 1950 assault by two immigrant gunmen hell-bent on assassinating President Harry Truman in the name of Puerto Rican independence. They might well have succeeded if not for one of the great acts of individual heroism of the last century.

  • The March 1, 1954 attack on the House of Representatives in which four Puerto Rican nationalists fired 30 pistol shots from the visitor's gallery, wounding five members of Congress.

Both events have been largely forgotten, but the former is vividly brought back to life in the thrilling new nonfiction book American Gunfight: The Plot to Kill Harry Truman—and the Shoot-out that Stopped It by Stephen Hunter and John Bainbridge Jr.

As a film critic, I'm not quick to hand out compliments to my competitors. But I would be hard-pressed to argue that Stephen Hunter, who in 2003 became the first movie reviewer to win a Pulitzer Prize since Roger Ebert in 1975, isn't the best in the business.

Gunplay is one of the prime elements in American movies. Yet Hunter is unique among critics in knowing an enormous amount about firearms. We've all seen thousands of shoot-outs on screen. But American Gunfight's meticulous recreation of the battle that raged between the terrorists and seven Secret Service guards for 36 to 40 seconds in front of Blair House (Truman's temporary residence while the White House was being renovated) finally lets us understand what really happens when brave men fight to the death.

It's not like in the movies. Hunter and Bainbridge explain:

"Physiologically, the fighters have entered a zone that cannot be duplicated by man. It has to be real for you to get there: you feel nothing, you see only a little bit of what's ahead of you, you hear nothing. "Auditory exclusion" it's called: your hearing closes down. Meanwhile your fingers inflate like sausages and your IQ drops stunningly."

Yet, not one of the nine men who fought that day even flinched.

The authors take care to dispel the comforting myths with which the two worst Puerto Rican terrorist attacks have become encrusted:

"Soon enough the two stories melded in the U.S. folk imagination under the rubric of stereotype: hot-tempered Latin revolutionaries, undisciplined, crazy even, pursuing a dream that made no sense at all, Puerto Rican independence."

Since November 22, 1963, we've become accustomed to assassins who are obvious defectives, little men who want to kill a big man so they too can go down in history. But Hunter and Bainbridge show that the two gunmen of 1950, Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo, were selfless and resourceful revolutionary cadres fighting for a cause much larger than their own egos.


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

The Melinda French Gates School of Rich Husband Hunting

The Dallas Morning News reports:

It's a lesson all teachers know in theory, but few have learned as strongly as Susan Bauer:

"You teach the future," said Ms. Bauer, who has taught for nearly 30 years at Ursuline Academy of Dallas. How a teacher treats a student can have enormous, unforeseen effects.

Nearly 25 years ago, Ms. Bauer encouraged a student at the all-girls Catholic high school who showed talent in math and computer science.

Now that former student, Melinda French Gates, is giving her alma mater $5 million to enhance science, math and technology education -- fields traditionally underrepresented by women but nurtured at Ursuline.

The gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest the school has received in its more than 130-year history and is believed to be the biggest awarded to an all-girls school in the Southwest.

Considering that Mrs. Gates' major career "accomplishment" was managing Microsoft Bob, perhaps the most denigrated product in Microsoft's history, the girls of Ursuline Academy draw a less politically correct lesson from the fact that Mrs. Gates now has billions to hand out than does the Dallas Morning News.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

LA Times exposes the corruption of the late Cesar Chavez's United Farm Workers:

In a four part series by Miriam Pawel, the newspaper notes that the union leadership, mostly Chavez's relatives, has largely lost interest in union organizing and instead runs a profitable business as ethnic activists. Here's Part 1: Farmworkers Reap Little as Union Strays From Its Roots and Part 2: Linked Charities Bank on the Chavez Name.

While useful, the series lacks the conceptual clarity that I brought to this same topic six years ago in my VDARE.com article "La Causa or La Raza?"

We can be confident that the propaganda fed California students will portray him the Cesar Chavez the Chicano verbalist elite prefers: as the patron saint of the reconquista of Alta California by La Raza.

The truth about Chavez is much more interesting. A third-generation American citizen from Yuma, Arizona, he was first and foremost a labor leader, as crafty and sometimes ruthless as any effective union boss must be. Today, Mexican-American educators and politicians have one simple priority: more immigration. Every warm body with a brown skin increases their clout. But, then and now, union leaders have the opposite need. The UFW's essential problem was the same as all other unions', straight out of Econ 101. Chavez needed to limit the supply of labor in order to drive up wages.

From this grew the fundamental conflict of his life. Was he an American class warrior or a Mexican mestizo racial activist? What came first: La Causa or La Raza? This irresolvable dual identity culminated in the terrible irony of his tragic last dozen years.

Chavez's success at bringing better wages to stoop laborers in the early Seventies stemmed from the long-term decline in the pool of available migrant farm workers. According to agricultural economist Philip L. Martin of UC Davis, migrant farm workers in the U.S. numbered 2,000,000 in the Twenties. But the U.S. government started to crack down on Mexican illegal immigrants, most notably during 1954's "Operation Wetback," when a million were loaded onto railroad cars and shipped home. By Chavez's heyday in the early Seventies, there were only 200,000 migrant farm workers left. Which made his triumphs feasible.

In his prime, Chavez fought constantly against illegal immigration. He frequently complained that the Immigration & Naturalization Service wasn't tough enough. When Chavez would lead a strike, the grower would send trucks across the Mexican border, load them up with scabs, and race back to the Central Valley in the dead of night. Chavez even offered his UFW staffers to the INS to serve as volunteer border guards to keep Mexicans from sneaking into California. As Ruben Navarrette Jr. reported in the Arizona Republic: (8/31/97)

"Cesar Chavez, a labor leader intent on protecting union membership, was as effective a surrogate for the INS as ever existed. Indeed, Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union he headed routinely reported, to the INS, for deportation, suspected illegal immigrants who served as strikebreakers or refused to unionize."

Successful unionization typically leads to management investing in mechanization, which in the long run drives down the number of workers. In fact, United Mine Worker boss John L. Lewis would explicitly proclaim that he wanted to drive miners' wages up so high that his union would be much smaller in the next generation. If his members were paid enough today, they could afford to educate their kids to do something less miserable with their lives by the time the bosses had figured out how to do without them.

During the Seventies, a similarly benign outcome appeared to be inevitable for American stoop laborers. The inflated wages paid Chavez' members would impel mechanization, which would eventually turn this literally backbreaking job into merely a painful memory.

It didn't happen. In fact, stoop labor wages stagnated in nominal terms from 1981 onward. In other words, over the last dozen years of Chavez's life (he died in 1993) real wages for migrants fell. As workers stopped paying dues to an organization that couldn’t deliver, the UFW withered to a fraction of its former size.

Why? No doubt California's 6,000,000 public school students will be told that it was all the fault of the evil Republican governors who reigned from 1983-1998, those divisive anti-immigration racists like Pete Wilson. Chavez's memory has been used so many times by Chicano intellectuals and politicians to insist on the moral necessity and practical inevitability of la reconquista that few remember who really sank the UFW: Mexican immigrants, hundreds of thousands of them.

The lure of higher wages; the Mexican economic catastrophes of 1976, 1982, and 1994; the fraudulent 1986 immigration "reform;" and a loss of will among white elites to defend the nation's borders has lead to a huge increase in the number of migrant farm workers in America. Since somewhere between 30% and 60% are illegals, the exact number can only be guesstimated. Dr. Martin pegs it at between 800,000 and 900,000, a rise of at least fourfold since Chavez's glory days.

The rotten pay and working condition suffered by today's migrants is all just a matter of supply and demand.


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Okay, Google Ads, enough with the T*x*s L*ngh*rns crud!

I was just joking below. My readers don't need 15 out of 15 ads for U. of T*x*s memorabilia. If your stock is really worth $600 per share, Google, you ought to know when I'm only kidding. Now a Tom Brady New England Patriots football jersey ...

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer