May 26, 2007

Strange Stuff

Strange Stuff: For 40 years, the LA Times has tried to be a deeply respectable newspaper ("Who do you have to decapitate to make the front page around here?) despite the abundance of lurid news in LA. Occasionally, though, it does take notice of some of the weird stuff that goes on in SoCal:

Federal agents went undercover, conducting nighttime surveillance, setting up remote cameras and digging through trash cans, searching for possible criminal activity among Southern California's roller pigeon rings.

Roller pigeons, you ask?

Roller pigeons are bred for a genetic quirk that strikes in mid-flight, causing a brief seizure that sends the birds spiraling uncontrollably toward the ground. Thousands of hobbyists compete to see who can best make their birds roll in unison.

Here's a Youtube video of these genetically defective pigeons in action.

But for a hawk or falcon, a plummeting roller pigeon is fast food. Fed up by raptors spoiling their sport, some of the leading competitors in the roller pigeon field began illegally killing the predators, according to a federal indictment released Thursday.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents arrested seven men from Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, including the president of the sport's national umbrella group, on charges of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a misdemeanor.

The agents blame the clubs that the men belong to for killing 1,000 to 2,000 hawks and falcons in Southern California every year.

"When you take out a predatory bird, you're taking out the upper end of the food chain," said Special Agent Lisa Nichols of the Fish and Wildlife Service. "It blows the balance of everything."

Birmingham Roller Pigeons, as they are officially called, are originally from England but now are raised in backyard coops around the world. In the U.S., "flyers" enter teams of 11 to 20 birds in competition. During 20-minute bouts, the birds are scored for the number, quality and depth of rolls that a "kit" or group of at least five birds performs in unison, according to the National Birmingham Roller Pigeon Club, whose president, Juan Navarro, was among the seven men indicted.

Navarro allegedly told an undercover Fish and Wildlife Service agent that he likes to "pummel" the hawks that he catches with a stick.

"You'll see, it gets the frustration out," Navarro said, according to a Fish and Wildlife agent's affidavit.

Navarro could not be reached for comment. On the Inner City Roller Club website, Navarro wrote that attacks by falcons and hawks have reached "epidemic proportions in the Los Angeles metropolitan area."

"The emotional stress of seeing birds taken daily is just too much for some fanciers," he said.

Well, I threw lemons at the raptor that swooped down and just about got my son's rabbit last year, so I can see how Mr. Navarro feels, but better his mutant pigeons than our rabbit. And killing 1000-2000 hawks per year in Southern California alone? Holy cow. Hawks are at the top of the food chain, so there aren't that many of them.

Skulking around the home of defendant Keith London in South Los Angeles, Newcomer and agent Ho Truong saw a trap on the roof and "what appeared to be a large bird flapping its wings."

Watching from Newcomer's Chevy Tahoe parked across the street, the agents watched as London, president of the Inner City Roller Club, climbed the roof, shot the bird with a pellet gun and threw it into his backyard, according to the affidavit.

Do you get the feeling that these guys would be pit bull fanciers if they didn't have their retarded pigeons? So, perhaps it's all for the best in the great tapestry of life.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

May 25, 2007

Remind Bush not to accept an invitation to go dove hunting with Cheney: Steve Clemons claims that President Bush is now listening more to sane people like Secretary of Defense Robert Gates about not starting a war with Iran, and the insane people in Dick Cheney's office aren't happy about it:

The thinking on Cheney's team is to collude with Israel, nudging Israel at some key moment in the ongoing standoff between Iran's nuclear activities and international frustration over this to mount a small-scale conventional strike against Natanz using cruise missiles (i.e., not ballistic missiles).

This strategy would sidestep controversies over bomber aircraft and overflight rights over other Middle East nations and could be expected to trigger a sufficient Iranian counter-strike against US forces in the Gulf -- which just became significantly larger -- as to compel Bush to forgo the diplomatic track that the administration realists are advocating and engage in another war.

There are many other components of the complex game plan that this Cheney official has been kicking around Washington. The official has offered this commentary to senior staff at AEI and in lunch and dinner gatherings which were to be considered strictly off-the-record, but there can be little doubt that the official actually hopes that hawkish conservatives and neoconservatives share this information and then rally to this point of view. This official is beating the brush and doing what Joshua Muravchik has previously suggested -- which is to help establish the policy and political pathway to bombing Iran.

The zinger of this information is the admission by this Cheney aide that Cheney himself is frustrated with President Bush and believes, much like Richard Perle, that Bush is making a disastrous mistake by aligning himself with the policy course that Condoleezza Rice, Bob Gates, Michael Hayden and McConnell have sculpted.

According to this official, Cheney believes that Bush can not be counted on to make the "right decision" when it comes to dealing with Iran and thus Cheney believes that he must tie the President's hands.

On Tuesday evening, i spoke with a former top national intelligence official in this Bush administration who told me that what I was investigating and planned to report on regarding Cheney and the commentary of his aide was "potentially criminal insubordination" against the President.

The standard reason other Presidents haven't given their Vice Presidents the kind of power that Cheney has is because you can't fire the Vice President when they do things like this.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

May 24, 2007

Finger length and SAT scores

Finger length and SAT scores: From LiveScience:

Finger Length Predicts SAT Performance

A quick look at the lengths of children's index and ring fingers can be used to predict how well students will perform on SATs, new research claims.

Kids with longer ring fingers compared to index fingers are likely to have higher math scores than literacy or verbal scores on the college entrance exam, while children with the reverse finger-length ratio are likely to have higher reading and writing, or verbal, scores versus math scores.

Not me. My ring fingers are longer, but my Verbal SAT score was higher than my Math score.

Scientists have known that different levels of the hormones testosterone and estrogen in the womb account for the different finger lengths, which are a reflection of areas of the brain that are more highly developed than others, said psychologist Mark Brosnan of the University of Bath, who led the study.

Exposure to testosterone in the womb is said to promote development of areas of the brain often associated with spatial and mathematical skills, he said. That hormone makes the ring finger longer. Estrogen exposure does the same for areas of the brain associated with verbal ability and tends to lengthen the index finger relative to the ring finger.

Unfortunately, the article doesn't provide any numbers on how big the effect is, which is what I'd like to see. (So, maybe, my finger lengths aren't totally anomalous -- I do like numbers, but I'm just not all that good with them!)

This provides an opportunity to recall this extraordinary 2000 essay in the UK Guardian by Becky Gardiner:

Slight of hand
New research links finger length to homosexuality. But Becky Gardiner has heard it all before
Friday March 31, 2000 The Guardian

When I was 19 I had the misfortune to be taught by Chris Brand, a psychologist with a belief in genetic determinism bordering on the evangelical. At that point - this was 1982 - his book, The g Factor, which claimed there was genetic proof that black people had lower IQs than white people, was no more than a twinkle in his eye, but his lectures made me so angry that usually I didn't go.

Article continues On this occasion I did. He was banging on about innate differences between black and white, male and female even then, saying that black people had smaller brains that whites, and women's were smaller than men's, and that this explained all manner of social ills (black criminality, female underachievement etc). Despite my fear of speaking in front of large groups, I found myself standing up in the crowded lecture hall and arguing with him.

I can't remember what I said, but I remember Brand's response. He smiled a small, smug smile. He let me talk and talk and talk. Then he interrupted me. "Could I ask you a favour? Could you hold up your hand for a moment?"

I held up my hand, a defendant in the dock. Brand nodded. "Thought so." He turned away for a moment then, theatrically, spun round to face the 300 students in the hall again.

"You will observe that this student," he said, "has an index finger which is considerably shorter than her fourth finger. That this is a male characteristic is well documented." That was it. He took up where he had left off, and it was as if I had never spoken.

Meanwhile, 300 teenagers looked anxiously at their fingers. Most were immediately reassured - the men by their short fingers, the women by their longer ones. But not me. There it was, lying in my lap, the shaming short finger. I was not brave after all, but foolish; by speaking out, I had simply drawn attention to my "maleness". I had inadvertently come out as a freak, a weird man/woman.

That was years ago, and the episode, so humiliating then, has long been little more than a party piece for me. On the many occasions I have told the story, I have only ever found one other woman who has The Finger, and she edits the women's page of this paper [the leftwing Guardian -- i.e., she's another feminist-Steve]; Chris Brand would be delighted.

But I have obviously been mixing in the wrong circles. New research has found that homosexuality is linked to the relative finger length. Professor Marc Breedlove, of the University of California, Berkeley, reports in the current issue of Nature that the ratio between the index and the so-called ring finger is a measure of how much male hormone a mother has exposed her unborn child to. The professor studied the finger lengths of 720 adults attending a street fair in San Francisco. And guess what? Lesbians tend to have short index fingers. Short index fingers equal exposure to male hormones equals masculinity equals lesbian. Simple as that.

But when the finger-staring has died down, what will we have learned? What can a correlation between a woman's unusually short finger and her lesbian sexuality (or any other "masculine" trait she might display - assertiveness, strength, a big salary) really tell us? That homosexuality is genetically determined, so we shouldn't persecute those so afflicted? Well, maybe, but surely it's more likely that homophobes will be delighted that there is now such an easy way to spot their next victim.

And in our personal lives, how can research like this help us? Since my experience in Chris Brand's lecture hall, my finger ratio has been one of the only things about me to remain constant. I have sometimes spoken up for what I believe in, and sometimes not. On occasion, I have tried to sit like a lady while giggling at some man's silly jokes, but more often than not I have been loud and bossy and sat about in bars. Over the years, I have had lesbian relationships [emphasis mine-Steve] and heterosexual ones. Today, I live with the father of my child, as I hope to do for many years to come. Have social pressures driven me to this denial of my "true" self? And what of my good friend Laura, a lesbian with a long index finger - should she ditch her girlfriend and find herself a nice man? In the face of findings such as this, our personalities dissolve. Our struggles against a socially constructed male/female divide, our changing choices, are reduced to more or less comical struggles against our very nature.

Common sense tells me that brain chemistry, hormones and chromosomes have some bearing on who we are and how we behave. And like most mothers, I have been amazed by how fully formed my tiny daughter sometimes seems. But as for the geneticists who weigh our brains and measure our fingers and say they know what we are, well, two fingers to the lot of them.

Two fingers is an obscene gesture in Britain.

This is a good reminder that what really makes people in the media mad about stereotypes is not when they are wrong, but when they are right. Essentially, feminism, multiculturalism, and PCism are wars against knowledge.

Here's Chris Brand's blog. Here's Chris's huge "Psychorealist" website from the 1990s with some extraordinary material. And you can download his suavely philosophical book on IQ, The g Factor, here. (This book is different from from Arthur Jensen's book of the same name and time).

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Sailer-Sarkozy Scheme

A number of readers have sent in this article from Der Spiegel:

New [French] immigration minister, Brice Hortefeux, confirmed on Wednesday that the government is planning to offer incentives to more immigrants to return home voluntarily. "We must increase this measure to help voluntary return. I am very clearly committed to doing that," Hortefeux said in an interview with RFI radio.

Under the scheme, Paris will provide each family with a nest egg of €6,000 ($8,000) for when they go back to their country of origin. A similar scheme, which was introduced in 2005 and 2006, was taken up by around 3,000 families.

Hortefeux, who heads up the new "super-ministery" of immigration, integration, national identity and co-development, said he wants to pursue a "firm but humane" immigration policy.

The new ministry was a central pledge in Nicolas Sarkozy's election campaign, who had warned that France was exasperated by "uncontrolled immigration."

I outlined a similar, although much more lucrative, program in two VDARE articles in 2005: first and second. I suggested that $25,000 per person would have a sizable effect.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

May 23, 2007


It's little understood how immigration drives the spread and potency of racial and ethnic quotas. It's widely assumed, even opponents of affirmative action, that race quotas are just about blacks, even though Hispanics now make up more of the legally "protected groups" than do African-Americans.

Further, it's widely assumed that quotas are imposed solely as a proactive decision by liberals, as in college admissions, and could thus be banned by Supreme Court decision or by referendum. In reality, they are mostly imposed as a reactive decision by fairly conservative organizations to avoid lawsuits.

Your Lying Eyes points to a Newsday article:

Feds sue city, claim biased FDNY exams
U.S. Department of Justice says previous tests discriminated against black and Hispanic applicants

In a 14-page complaint filed in federal court in Brooklyn, attorneys for the Department of Justice alleged that discriminatory hiring practices were rooted in two written tests given to applicants in 1999 and 2002 that, while not purposely or obviously racist, were littered with SAT-like questions that do not test an applicant's ability to fight fires. The suit seeks an injunction and possible damages.

The two "pass/fail" tests resulted in passing rates for black and Hispanic applicants that were lower than those of white applicants in a statistically significant way, the complaint charges.

In the 1999 test, about 90 percent of white applicants had a passing score, but only 61.2 percent of black and 77 percent of Hispanic test-takers passed, according to the complaint.

The rates for the 2002 exam were 97.2 percent for white applicants, 85.6 percent for black applicants and 92.8 percent for Hispanic applicants, court records stated.

According to federal officials, the use of the tests has contributed to the low numbers of black and Hispanic uniformed firefighters when compared with the NYPD.

According to a 1999 city study, there are 11,000 New York City firefighters, of which about 3 percent are black and 4.5 percent Hispanic, compared with 13.4 percent and 17.2 percent, respectively, in the NYPD, the officials said. ...

City Hall fired back with a statement that took issue with the claim by federal officials.

"In fact, the test plan, which resulted in the development of the 1999 and 2002 exams, was developed by active New York City firefighters, including black and Hispanic firefighters, working with experts at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, and was job-related," Assistant Corporation Counsel Georgia Pestana said.

Your Lying Eyes responds:

Provided it requires some cognitive skills, it's basically impossible to design a written exam that won't show these kinds of disparities in test results. By making the test easier and easier, and eliminating questions that test logical or reasoning skills, as was obviously attempted here, you can close the gap somewhat, but the statistically significant differential, which the DOJ points to here, will remain. The DOJ argues that the test is not relevant to the job, which is about all they could argue at this point, since the test has been designed to be so easy that almost every white applicant passes.

Compare these test results to this analysis of the July 2004 Texas Bar Exam (which I chose because it showed up first in a Google search). Among first time test takers, 85% of whites, 69% of Hispanics and 53% of blacks passed. These results are very nearly statistically identical (measured in terms of z-score differentials) to the 1999 NYC firefighters exam. They also are similar to what we find with the SATs, NAEP assessments* - just about any written test requiring cerebral energy. As la Griffe du Lion has pointed out, it's one of the few things you can count on in the social sciences, but count on it you can.

The point I want to make however is the extraordinary chutzpah of the Department of Justice in suing ... the NYFD. Why? Let me sum it up in one number:


How soon we forget.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Where are the Hispanics on American Idol?

Latinos now must make up about 16-18% of the 16 to 28 age range for trying out for American Idol, and yet they have been almost invisible over the six seasons of the show -- especially Mexicans and Central Americans. The top performers on American Idol consistently look like America in 1957: white and black. The annual Latin music night on the show when the finalists have to sing Gloria Estefan songs is usually a dud because the performers have no feel for the genre. Heck, back in 1957, the kids probably would have done better with Latin music than they do today.

This is another example of the big dog-that-didn't-bark story that nobody notices about immigration. That Mexican-Americans aren't terribly ambitious or accomplished makes mass immigration more popular among the elites at present, since the helots aren't challenging them for the honors. But what does it say about the future?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

American Idol and the Rise of the Mulatto Elite

For about ten weeks, my wife has been predicting that the winner of the TV singing contest will be 17-year-old Jordin Sparks, the cheerful daughter of a black retired NFL player and a redhead, because she can sing both black and white. In contrast, 29-year-old Melinda Doolittle, who conducted a master class each week in how to sing like the great black women of the past -- Aretha, Tina, etc. -- finished only third.

We'll find out Wednesday night when the show drags out the announcement of the winner for two hours. (In contrast, the shorter Tuesday night shows when the actual competition singing is done are a lot snappier. The very 1950s thing about this show that's key to its success is that the contestants never ever get to lip-sync, so it combines entertainment with the tension of sports.)

If, as expected, Jordin does win, it will be another data point for my theory of the Rise of the Mulatto Elite -- white people like minority entertainers and politicians, but they don't like them too minority, and minority cultures in the U.S. tend to be somewhat dysfunctional environments for raising children, so the best combination for becoming famous these days is to have a minority dad and a white mom.

Rage Against the Machine, the most important left wing rock band since the Clash, is a classic example with both the guitarist and singer being of mixed race. Prodigious guitarist Tom Morello is the great-nephew of Jomo Kenyatta (!), founder of modern Kenya. His father was a Mau-Mau rebel and then Kenya's first ambassador to the UN. His mom was an Irish-Italian girl from Illinois who traveled the world and married his father in Kenya. She left her husband before the baby was born. Morello was raised in Libertyville, IL, a nice all-white suburb 40 miles north of Chicago, near the Pine Meadow Golf Course, which I used to drive out from the city to play.

Similarly, the band's annoying lead singer, Zack de la Rocha, has a Latino father, who went nuts when he was 13, and so he was raised by his white mother in posh Irvine, CA. Like a certain Presidential candidate's adolescence, this pleasant white upbringing led de la Rocha to identify more strongly with his minority side.

If Blake wins American Idol, however, well never mind ...

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Cloture Closure

My apologies -- I appear to have gotten confused about what Monday's "Cloture" vote on the Kennedy-Bush immigration bill in the Senate did. I assumed it was to prevent a filibuster by 41 Senators, like most cloture votes, but instead it was to allow this monumentally important and complex act to not go through committee hearings like most legislation does. It would require a second cloture vote by at least 60 Senators to shut down a filibuster. Harry Reid than added a second week to the debate, admitting that his original plan to hustle this bill with its vast and murky consequences through in one week was too grotesque even for the Senate.

My thanks to a couple of my commenters and to Larry Auster for clearing this up.

No thanks at all to the Main Stream Media for ignoring this crucial facet of the proceedings so that all my Google News searches on "cloture" early Saturday didn't uncover the facts. Using a cloture vote to avoid committee hearings on this bill was a shameful act by the political elite, but the MSM deeply approves of chainging immigration laws in Red Bull-filled rooms far from the prying eyes of the public. That would be "divisive."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

IDS: Immigration Derangement Syndrome

sure affects a lot of economists. For example, Bryan Caplan greets Harvard economist George Borjas's new blog with this classic:

Borjas: What's His Problem?

Well, Bryan, I guess his problem from your point of view that is that, when it comes to immigration, Dr. Borjas has worked very hard to know what the hell's he's talking about. But who needs painstaking empiricism when Ayn Rand has shown us the true way?

What's striking is the constant reminder of what a large proportion of economists are fervent ideologues who, armed with a selective handful of bumper sticker slogans (e.g., Comparative Advantage! but not
externalities), want to preach morality to the unenlightened far more than they want to try to understand reality.

Economists tend to be complete suckers for the most implausible studies supporting their preconceptions about immigration. Simple reality checks are never performed on agreeable-sounding assertions. For example, one of the most celebrated is Giovanni Peri's recent effort, which Caplan's friend Tyler Cowen approvingly summed up: "... if lots of Mexican carpenters move to California, we don't see the non-Mexican carpenters leaving in droves, due to lower wages."

Great point! Except of course that we have seen droves of native-born blue-collar workers leave California. And we sure don't see many American blue collar workers from the other 49 states moving to California. That's an opportunity cost to Americans -- one of those Econ 101 phrases that gets forgotten when economists start burbling about immigration. As I wrote in last year, using Las Vegas as a more up-to-date example of a booming example, but you could use California in the period studied by Peri:

What [many economists don't] grasp is that illegal immigration is denying Americans the traditional wage premium for undergoing the pain of moving to a boomtown.

Imagine you are an American blue-collar worker in Cleveland, making $10 per hour. You know the local economy is stagnant, so you're thinking about relocating to fast-growing Las Vegas. But your mom would miss you; and you're not a teenager anymore so you don't make new friends as fast as you once did; and you really like the wooded Ohio countryside you grew up around and the fall colors and the deer hunting; and there's this girl that maybe you could get serious about, but her whole family is in Cleveland and she'd never leave.

So, you decide, you'll leave home behind if you can make 50 percent more in Las Vegas, adjusted for cost of living. That seems fair.

But, then you look through the Las Vegas want ads and discover you'd be lucky to make 10 or 20 percent more because the town is full of illegal aliens. They're moving from another country, so it's not much skin off their nose to move to Las Vegas rather than some place slower-growing.

Well, forget that, you say. I'll stay in Cleveland.

Unfortunately, too many economists forget that too. They can’t—or won’t—put themselves in other people's shoes and see how the world really works.

That doesn't seem to hurt them professionally. But it can hurt America.

In the comments on Borjas's blog, businessman Peter Schaeffer writes:

I have looked at the immigration work of Peri for some time now. Recently, Peri has published a new paper, Immigrants’ Complementarieties and Native Wages:Evidence from California ( This paper attempts to show that immigration has raised the real wages of workers in California, even high school dropouts. A few notes:

1. The empirical data (Figure 3, Change in Real Wage of U.S. natives, by Education group 1990-2004) actually shows large declines for high school dropouts. -17.6% in California versus -15.1% nationwide. Peri does not attempt to explain the large decline in wages of low skill workers (as best I can tell) or why wages fell faster in California.

2. As best I can tell, Peri uses a aggregate production function that would make it very difficult for immigration to ever adversely impact the incomes of natives in general, although that might not be true for specific groups. For reasons stated below, this does not appear to be realistic for California and perhaps not the nation.

3. Peri assumes that immigrants are almost entirely complementary to natives, even at the low end (but less so). He is quite aware that this is a contentious point and attempts to defend his methodology and conclusions. I can neither support nor refute his assertions.

4. Peri appears to be aware that his work is deeply contra factual, although this is never explicitly stated. Natives have been net leaving California in vast numbers (millions) for quite some time now. If immigrants were complementary, this should either not be happening or immigrants should be net leaving as well. Obviously this is not true. Peri attempts to refute this critique via a regression of some type. He offers no other explanation as to why natives would be fleeing California.

5. Peri rather explicitly does not even consider the possibility that immigration has impacted prices (mainly but not exclusively housing) in California. Peri deflates California wages using a national CPI, not a state one. This is highly contrafactual in my opinion. California’s population would be much lower (30% of California’s population is foreign born) without immigration and housing correspondingly more affordable. I cannot quantify the impact of immigration on housing costs in California, however it is certainly large. Note that the Census (but not the BLS) shows California housing to be roughly twice as expensive as the national average.

6. If one takes into account housing costs, Calfornia is considerably more expensive than the US as a whole and real wages corresponding lower. Indeed, California emerges as one of the poorer states (43rd) in the nation, if the local cost of living is taken into account. Given the linkage between immigration and prices, it would appear that immigration has markedly reduced real wages in California. Of course, this would account for the native outflux contra Peri.

Thank you
Peter Schaeffer

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

May 22, 2007

Will wonders never cease? A smart letter-to-the-editor in the NYT:

Judging by the cloture vote yesterday, which was similar to last year's final 62-36 Senate vote on S.2611, the liberal strategy is to get past the chance of a conservative filibuster, then use their domination of both houses of Congress to amend the bill to their heart's content and dare President Bush to veto it, depriving himself of his beloved legacy. Liberals like Nancy Pelosi are up in arms over S.1348's measures trying to cut down on chain migration of extended families.

They may well succeed by playing a mindless "family values" card, since American public discourse is so naive on the subject, almost never distinguishing between nuclear family values (American) and extended family values (foreign).

Surprisingly, the NYT, which normally prints the most mindless letters to the editor, ran an incisive one today:

To the Editor:

Family reunification is the single largest source of legal immigration to the United States and should be limited to spouses and minor children only for several reasons.

First, many immigrants bring in aged parents, at first promising to support them, and then later renege on their promises and place their aged parents, who never worked a day in the United States, on Social Security disability and other social services.

Second, by bringing in a sibling or an adult child, the sponsoring immigrant sets off chain migration, beginning with the sponsored immigrant’s immediate family. His spouse can then eventually bring in her parents and siblings, thus lengthening the chain.

Some of these siblings or children may have been brought in to work in small family businesses. Since these family members are dependent upon the good will of their sponsors, it is unlikely that they will complain about hours, wages and working conditions and may accept a room in the sponsor’s house as part of pay, adding to overcrowded housing.

Finally, by family reunification we are allowing people who have been in the United States for a relatively short amount of time and who may hold citizenship in their country of origin as well as the United States to have more say about whom we allow into this country than people whose ancestors fought and died in our wars, survived our tough economic times, built the United States into the world power that it is today, paid taxes for generations, and who owe allegiance to the United States alone. Is this wise?

Deena Flinchum
Blacksburg, Va., May 20, 2007

If you look at immigration policy from the standpoint of who optimizing who my descendents will marry, of improving the potential spouse pool for your children and grandchildren, what you want to see are A) high quality immigrants (smart, hard-working, law-abiding, well-educated) and B) single (not part of endogamous ethnic groups that won't let their scions marry into your family). This implies that we would want most immigrants to be young, single, well-educated, good earners, and not part of chain migrations. But, don't expect to see that logic explained anywhere.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

May 21, 2007

The most fact-free column in the history of journalism?

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank has a long history of mindlessly hating Sen. Jeff Sessions for paying close attention to the contents of immigration bills. In this year's model, Milbank can't think of anything substantive to say against Sessions, so he simply turns the Snark Level to eleven and produces a column that even Maureen Dowd would have been humiliated to have written.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

No future, no future, no future for you

One of the more annoying aspects of watching C-SPAN today was listening to one Senator after another bloviate about his immigrant ancestors. "What about your descendents?" I wanted to ask. "What impact will this bill have on them?"

Of course, that's a stupid question. They'll be all right, Jack. Grandpa was a U.S. Senator. No plebian worries for them.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Borjas on the Kennedy-Bush bill

Of the tens of thousands of economists in America, George Borjas is one of the handful who specialize in doing empirical research on the effects of immigration. His crucially-needed expertise has taken Borjas all the way to an endowed chair at Harvard, yet few other economists have followed his successful career path, preferring to theorize (and moralize) about what immigration ought to be doing based on a handful of bumper-sticker notions. An interesting case of market failure that some economist should investigate ...

Borjas writes to fellow Harvard economist Dani Rodrik:

1. The thing I object to most in the proposal is the amnesty of 12 million illegal immigrants WITHOUT addressing the fundamental border enforcement problem. For a number of reasons (fairness, incentives), it is irresponsible to address the question of what to do with the current 12 million illegals without first resolving the issue so that we do not have to revisit this again in a few years. I have no problem with taking some sort of action that will bring the illegals "out of the shadows" at some point. But it's probably prudent to do nothing about this until we make sure that this is not a problem that will recur yet again.

2. As for the guest worker program, I think that your perspective [in favor of a guest worker program] involves more than a little wishful thinking. Can you really guarantee that the guest workers will in fact be temporary workers? How are you going to get them to go back? Have you thought about how the U.S. judicial system will react to a lawsuit brought about by someone who doesn't want to get into the plane ride home? What's to prevent them from becoming illegal immigrants in the end?

Think of the German experience. As a very wise person once said about that experience: "we wanted workers and we got people instead." Guest workers tend to get sick, tend to get married, procreate, etc., and all of these inevitable life events open up entitlements in the U.S. system that cannot be ignored--some of which are very costly. So your guest worker idea is, to a significant extent, a permanent immigration increase being sold as a temporary inflow.

Now, you and I can debate over whether such an increase is desirable. I don't think so, but I'm willing to be convinced otherwise if you can prove to me that the gains to "us" are sufficiently large (and it is the definition of "us" that we probably disagree most about). But the debate must be conducted in a transparent and honest way: this is not really about temporary workers at all, it's really about permanent immigration.

And, again, because it is people we are importing--not just workers in a widget factory--there are non-economic issues that cannot be ignored (culture, language, security, etc.) unless you are proposing that the guest workers be packed away in some warehouse from the day they arrive until the day they are shipped back home.

3. I'm glad to hear you and I agree on the underlying economics--there are downward pressures on wages. I don't know if Lant would agree--I saw him give a talk in Milan the other day and a big bullet in the PowerPoint was: no evidence of wage effects! It's funny how people (on both sides of the political divide) are willing to put aside the elements of supply and demand when they want to argue for open labor flows.

4. The point system is great. I would love to think that, at last, someone paid attention to something I said! But I doubt it.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Bad guys win cloture vote 69-23

Bad guys win immigration cloture vote 69-23: So, 41 Senators can't block the Kennedy-Bush immigration bill and it can pass with 50 votes (plus Cheney).

Harry Reid wants to extend debate in Senate to a second week, following Memorial Day. But no hearings.

Sen. Kyl says the final version of the draft bill will be finished tonight. Well, that's a relief! We wouldn't want the World's Greatest Deliberative Body™ casting a crucial vote on a monumental bill that will vastly affect the United States of America for the rest of the 21st Century that wasn't even finished being written yet, much less read. Oh, wait ... they just did ... Nevermind.

Watching C-SPAN, it appears that Ted Kennedy is functioning as the MC of the Senate proceedings, a lot like he did with the 1965 immigration bill and the 1990 diversity visa bill, neither of which turned out to function at all like Senator Ted told his fellow Senators they would. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me thrice ... ah, to hell with it ...

A commenter adds:

Fool me thrice, and it's time to purchase lethal finials.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The graffiti plague

After peaking around the time of the South Central Riot of 1992, "tagging" in Southern California fell way off by 2000. But in 2005, the "writers" (as they call themselves) started to get ahead of society's clean-up immune system, and graffiti is showing up everywhere now as Latino gangs get bigger and stronger. A couple of nights ago, some moron calling himself "Dwako" spray-painted his name six feet wide in about ten places on homeowners' walls on my street. (If you had as imbecilic-sounding a name as "Dwako," would you advertise it?)

Looking at Dwako's handiwork, I finally understood the current fad in the more prosperous Mexican neighborhoods of LA for incredibly expensive security fencing around houses. Homeowners are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for elaborate wrought iron fences eight feet high with knife-blade finials on top and the most over-the-top decorative work embedded in the fences (fleur-de-lis, eagles, etc.).

Obviously, the increase in gang violence (which is caused by the huge number of 10-19 year old Latinos who are the product of the ex-illegal alien Baby Boom that followed the 1986 amnesty law) is driving the need for security, but why not just put up cheaper concrete block or wooden fences to keep out intruders, like in my neighborhood? Well, one reason is because, unlike walls with their inviting flat surfaces, vandals can't satisfactorily tag a wrought iron fence because it's mostly air.

By the way, isn't it nice to see lethal finials on fences become popular in America? It shows how Latin American and American cultures are synthesizing into one rich pageant. South of the border, it's been traditional for homeowners to embed broken bottles on the tops of their walls. But, with the greater prosperity found in our country, Latinos can now afford to impale intruders with custom-designed blades.

Fortunately, the new 326-page Kennedy-Bush amnesty bill will solve all the problems associated with Latino gangs. I haven't quite reached the section of the bill that explains how it will do that, but I'm sure it's in there somewhere.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

You hate us, you really hate us

Not everything in the 326 pages of the Kennedy-Bush immigration bill is bad. For example, some of the reforms of legal immigration might be mildly beneficial. By some reports, the number of legal immigrants admitted on a family reunification basis would drop from over 90% under the ridiculous current system to about 60%, with others being admitted on a new Canadian-style point system emphasizing education, work skills, English-proficiency (a system I've advocated for the U.S. since 2001). And visas for the adult siblings of recent immigrants would be cut out. If the point of immigration policy is to benefit current citizens and our posterity (see the Preamble to the Constitution) rather than foreigners who happen to be recent immigrants relatives, these changes makes more sense.

Of course, there are catches: this improved system wouldn't kick in for another eight years, while all the relatives in the pipeline get shoved through, and relatives would still make up the majority of legal immigrants afterwards.

Now, here's the interesting point. You might think that the Bush Administration would have tried to prepare the ground among Republicans before last Thursdays announcement of the Kennedy-Bush bill by letting immigration skeptics know that some actual reforms were coming along with all the sell-outs. Nobody else is very interested in the subject. Reforming legal immigration is a good idea, but nobody except the hard-core immigration skeptics at VDARE, CIS, and a few other places has been talking about it. In the current environment, rationalizing legal immigration seems like a rather bloodless bit of good government wonkery compared to doing something about the national disgrace of rampant illegal immigration. Fixing legal immigration is actually very important -- although the most effective fix would be cutting the number of visas for a lengthy number of years while we assimilate past immigrants -- but it's just not part of the current debate, and, quite reasonably, it won't be as long as illegal immigration is out of control.

Still, you would think that the fact that a few of the ideas of immigration skeptics like me made it into Kennedy-Bush bill (although I'm sure they were put in by Senate Republicans like Sen. Kyl, not the Administration) would have been used by the Bush Administration in an attempt to butter up the immigration skeptic wing to not be so immediately hostile to the bill. That's straight out of Lobbying 101 -- appeal to the ego of potential critics. Tell us we are helping make this a better country through some of our brilliant ideas.

I certainly am not surprised I didn't get a get a phone call from Karl Rove before last Thursday, trying to get me excited about bits of the upcoming package, but, what about, say, Hugh Hewitt or the National Review boys? They've been good soldiers in the Bush Army, except on immigration. So, why didn't they get a call?

The simplest answer seems to be that the Bush Administration is deeply emotional about immigration, trumping even Iraq. They'll deal happily with Ted Kennedy, but if you don't toe the Bush line on the borders, you are a bad, bad person.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

May 20, 2007

Debugging 326 pages of computer programming by 5:30 pm on Monday?

Laws are written in a language a lot like the old computer programming language COBOL: it looks kind of like English, but you can only read it about 1% as fast. Laws are full of if-then-else statements and subroutines that can't be read, only debugged. Of course, real programming languages are far more structured and easier-to-follow than legislative language.

A commenter points out that Hugh Hewitt has been heroically trying to debug the draft Kennedy-Bush immigration bill:

tommy said...

By the way, immigration opponents might want to check out Hugh Hewitt's reading of a purported draft of the bill over at

Reading The Fine Print, Part 1: Does The First Exception Swallow The Triggers Whole?

Reading the Fine Print: Part 2: Title I -- Who's Blowing All That Smoke?

Reading The Fine Print, Part 3: Title II: Send Lawyers, Clerks, Judges, And Background Checks

Reading The Fine Print, Part 4: A Huge New Tax On Business

Reading The Fine Print, Part 5: No Illiterate Nonimmigrants

Reading The Fine Print, Part 6: And The Grand Total Is?

Reading The Fine Print, Part 7: "There's Been A Slight Change In Your Job Description"

Reading The Fine Print, Part 8: Humbug And Common Sense

There is probably more analysis on the way from Hewitt.

Hewitt points out that the bill starts off on Page 1, Paragraph 1 with a daunting cross-reference to exceptions to the celebrated "triggers" on p. 260. I tried to follow the logic of it, but my brain soon overheated.

Nobody is going to be able to make sense out of what this law will actually do without weeks of study and debate. And yet, the current schedule absolutely does not allow responsible review by Senators.

The 326 page Kennedy-Bush immigration plan is scheduled for the crucial cloture Senate vote for 5:30 PM EDT on Monday. (Senator Jeff Sessions [R-AL], who did such fine work against the last bill, is scheduled to speak just before the vote.) If it survives that vote, just 50% of the Senate (plus Dick Cheney) can pass it.

From there it would go to the House, where Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emmanuel have been making noises about wanting 60-70 GOP House members to join the Democrats to provide political cover in passing it. But, what if they decide they don't actually care about that much cover, and that President Bush's backing and signature on the bill is enough cover? The Speaker of the House can typically whip her party's members into line, while individual Senators are more ornery.

Then it would likely go to a Conference Committee of Senators and House members picked by the committee chairs in both houses (both Democrats) to hash out differences between the Senate and House versions. There, I suspect that Senator Kennedy would work his all-night magic again.

And then to President Bush's desk for signature. He has already endorsed it. And then enforcement and certification of the "triggers" would be up to President Bush's minions.

Thus, the Monday cloture vote appears to be the key. But, where is the Main Stream Media editorializing against a rush to judgment on 326 pages of who-knows-what? In reality, the MSM want the issue to be taken care of in a hurry behind closed doors, because otherwise. if public debate were encouraged, it would be "divisive." And in a republic, we aren't supposed to have political divisions over legislation determining the future of the country, now are we? We are supposed to delegate that to famously wise men like Senator Kennedy and President Bush with their long records of outstanding judgment, while we peons can worry about more important matters like Paris Hilton's jail sentence.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

But what about the visual environment?

From the New York Times:

Why Are They Greener Than We Are?

When it comes to designing buildings that are good for the environment, Europe gets it.

What the hell is this? A giant periscope? A robot octopus' tentacle with a big sucker on the tip?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The politics of the Kennedy-Bush immigration plan

In National Review, "Anonymous" (who, in answer to some readers' questions, isn't me) writes Rove’s Gift to the Democrats? The future on a silver platter. And David Frum explains why this will be a debacle for the GOP.

The argument in favor of going along with Bush's obsessions on immigration always used to be, "Well, sure, amnesty makes no political sense to you or me, but Karl Rove is a genius, so we just have to trust him." Well, as was shown in November 2006, Rove is not a genius. And even if he were, working for someone as willful, stubborn, and out-of-touch as George W. Bush would make Archimedes, Newton, and Einstein look like the Three Stooges.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Myth of the Rational Economist

George Mason U. economist Bryan Caplan, author of The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies, asks on EconLog:

I've often heard opponents of Latin American immigration complain that they're lowering our average IQ. ... Question: [If] this is the real concern, why not just advocate additional "compensatory" immigration from high-IQ countries like China and Korea?

This logic could be used equally well in many other situations:

Used Car Salesman: "You should buy this red car."

Prof. Caplan: "But this red car is a piece of junk."

Used Car Salesman: "Well ... that blue car over there is in great shape. Hey, you could buy both the bad red car and the good blue car and that would be kind of like having one average car!"

Prof. Caplan: "Wow, that's terrific thinking ... I'll take both! Where do I sign?"


Prof. Cowen: "Which applicant should we hire for the Assistant Professor job in our Econ department: the really dumb guy or the really smart guy?"

Prof. Caplan: "Tough question, tough question ... I know! Let's hire both!"

Why is it that smart economists' IQs drop 50 points when they try to think about immigration?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer