2005 August 31 Wednesday
Poverty Rises: Its The Immigration Stupid

The poverty rate in the United States has risen for the 4th year in a row!

WASHINGTON -- Even with a robust economy that was adding jobs last year, the number of Americans who fell into poverty rose to 37 million _ up 1.1 million from 2003 _ according to Census Bureau figures released Tuesday.

It marks the fourth straight increase in the government's annual poverty measure.

I looked in vane for major news stories that might mention the most likely cause of this trend: immigration. But alas, here's the sort of fare to be had:

"I was surprised," said Sheldon Danziger, co-director of the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan. "I thought things would have turned around by now."

"I was not surprised", said ParaPundit commentator Randall Parker, co-director of nothing in particular. "I thought things would continue to get worse as long as masses of low skilled workers were allowed to flood over the US-Mexico border".

In the article some Bush Administration spin-meister tried to pass the result off as a consequence of the last recession. Eventually the Bush Administration will have to shift toward blaming the next recession.

Here's an obvious clue to the cause which goes unobserved in the mainstream press:

Asians were the only ethnic group to show a decline in poverty _ from 11.8 percent in 2003 to 9.8 percent last year. The poverty rate for whites rose from 8.2 percent in 2003 to 8.6 percent last year. There was no noticeable change for blacks and Hispanics.

Lower class whites are getting their incomes kept down by the Hispanic influx. Plus, the number of Hispanics is growing and their poverty rate is much higher than the white poverty rate. So even if the Hispanic poverty rate does not grow the growth of the Hispanics as a percentage of the total populaton increases the percentage of the total population living in poverty. One cause of rising poverty is therefore obvious.

I searched in vain for commentators who could figure out the obvious. But again I came across Sheldon Danziger:

"There is still a generation of no progress against poverty," says Sheldon Danziger, codirector of the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan. "Somehow, we have to confront the fact that ... a rising economy no longer lifts all boats."

ParaPundit commentator Randall Parker said "Somehow we have to confront the fact that the law of supply and demand works in the labor market just as it does in other markets. A swelling low skilled labor force increases the ranks of those living in poverty while also increasing fiscal burdens of governments to pay growing social services costs. Worse yet, the influx of millions of low skilled workers, their poor performance in American school systems, and their competition for jobs and housing is lowering the quality of life for natives." Then ParaPundit realized he hadn't completed the pattern of poking at the original quote and he added "...a rising Hispanic demographic wave ties many boats to the pier while the flood waters rise."

Hispanics, who are the most rapidly increasing portion of total population, have the highest rate of lacking medical insurance.

The uninsured rate in 2004 was 11.3 percent for non-Hispanic whites and 19.7 percent for blacks, both unchanged from 2003. The uninsured rate for Asians declined from 18.8 percent to 16.8 percent.

The uninsured rate for Hispanics, who may be of any race, was 32.7 percent in 2004 — unchanged from 2003.

More Hispanics mean more poverty and a larger welfare state. The medically uninsured Hispanics also drive up the cost of medical insurance for everyone else.

Growth in the size of the welfare state prevented the medical uninsurance rate from rising.

As shown in this slide, employment-based health insurance coverage fell 0.6 percentage points between 2003 and 2004, while Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage increased 0.5 percentage points. Also, the percentage of persons covered by military health care increased by .2 percentage points.

Alfred Tella explains how immigration restriction would reduce the rate of poverty.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, noted last year in congressional testimony there is a good deal of evidence millions of Americans without a high school education directly compete with immigrants, and the idea "that there are jobs Americans won't do is simply false."

It follows, if low-skilled immigration were restricted, more Americans would be offered jobs at better wages. Fringe benefits and working conditions also would improve. There would be less income inequality, and welfare costs and poverty would decline. Employers would seek to offset higher wage costs by investing in and employing new technologies, thereby increasing productivity, profitability and economic growth.

The recovery from recession has been pretty jobless for whites and blacks. Also see my post "Hispanics Have Taken Bulk Of New Jobs In Last 4 Years".

By Randall Parker 2005 August 31 12:46 AM  Immigration Societal Decay
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2005 August 29 Monday
Iraq: Constitution Or Peace Treaty Negotiation?

University of Maryland associate professor of politics Karol Soltan just returned from a trip to Iraq and found that the negotiations for the "constitution" really are negotiatons for a peace treaty between rival factions jostling for power.

"It's not like Philadelphia. They're not 13 relatively homogeneous states at little risk of fighting a civil war. They're trying to prevent an early-stage civil war from exploding. They've spent a lot of time trying to settle borders and generally diminish the potential for violent conflict. In effect, they're working out key provisions of a peace treaty. Constitution-making is much more difficult."

"I entered Iraq from the north and the first thing that struck me was the flag. It was the flag of Kurdistan at the border. There wasn't an Iraqi flag in sight. It felt like Kurdistan not Iraq. The Kurds have had de facto independence for a decade, and that's a real constraint on negotiators."

"In its current form, the proposed constitution looks decentralized enough to diminish the chance of a large-scale civil war in the short run, though in general things don't look good. Some legislative and enforcement provisions that might have helped long-term stability were dropped. Any effort to create a more centralized government will only make things worse."

The Kurds effectively have their own country at this point. My guess is that in the short term the Kurds will settle for de facto independence while refraining from an official declaration of secession. If they can get a cut of the oil money and autonomy they can avoid a confrontation with the United States over an officially declared secession. But the Kurds are biding their time and may yet secede once US forces withdraw.

Even the Shiite region has deep splits. Rival Shiite militias battled for a few days last week.

Trouble in the south began when supporters of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr tried to reopen his office in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, which was closed after the end of fighting there last year.

When Shiites opposed to al-Sadr tried to block the move, fights broke out. Four people were killed, 20 were injured and al-Sadr's office was set afire, police said.

That enraged al-Sadr's followers, who blamed the country's biggest Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq or SCIRI, for the Najaf trouble.

Sadr's supporters recently demonstrated against draft constitution/peace treaty. If Sadr's Mahdi Army reconstitutes and the Sunnis reject the offered oil money sharing peace deal then the civil war will just continue on.

Sadr's enemies want him banished.

NAJAF, Iraq -- More than 1,000 Shiite Muslim demonstrators clashed last night with supporters of influential Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf, leaving at least seven people dead and dozens wounded, according to officials at a local hospital.

Waving banners demanding the "expulsion of the outsiders," the crowd gathered near the Shrine of Ali -- a holy site for Shiites -- to call on the provincial governor to banish Sadr's Mahdi Army. Many residents of Najaf blame Sadr for heavy damage the city sustained during a Mahdi Army uprising against U.S. forces a year ago.

On the bright side some Sunnis in Ramadi defended their Shiite minority against Zarqawi's warriors.

BAGHDAD, Aug. 14 -- Rising up against insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi, Iraqi Sunni Muslims in Ramadi fought with grenade launchers and automatic weapons Saturday to defend their Shiite neighbors against a bid to drive them from the western city, Sunni leaders and Shiite residents said. The fighting came as the U.S. military announced the deaths of six American soldiers.

Dozens of Sunni members of the Dulaimi tribe established cordons around Shiite homes, and Sunni men battled followers of Zarqawi, a Jordanian, for an hour Saturday morning. The clashes killed five of Zarqawi's guerrillas and two tribal fighters, residents and hospital workers said. Zarqawi loyalists pulled out of two contested neighborhoods in pickup trucks stripped of license plates, witnesses said.

Iraq is now effectively broken up into a set of mini-states controlled by rival militia warlords. But if the central government can maintain control of the oil money it can use the power to hand out oil money to buy some allegiances. The crucial role of oil money in buying allegiance of factions to the center means that Ahmad Chalabi's control of the oil fields means Chalabi might be in the position to decide whether Iraq remains a single country.

Update: I have a basic question with regard to the constitution/peace treaty: Do the people who are negotiating the peace treaty represent enough of the warring factions to make a peace treaty that will end most of the fighting? At minimum, will the deal at least bring enough of the right warring factions onto the side of the government so that government money could go toward funding these factions to go suppress the other factions that continue to fight?

In other words: Is a negotiated peace even possible at this stage?

I see one problem with the "oil cash for peace" formula: Iraq's oil production is still lower than it was under Saddam. Does current production supply enough money to hand out to buy loyalty to a peace deal?

Iraqi oil production bounces around as facilities get blown up and repaired. But assume 2 million barrels per day of production (I'm being optimistic though not as optimistic as the Panglossian war camp). Also assume $60 per barrel (and I remember war hawks who claimed the war would lower the price of oil and thereby pay for itself). At that price we are talking $120 million per day or $43 billion per year. Divided over a population of 26 million people that works out to about $1653 per person per year.

Could that amount of money buy peace? Some of the money goes toward subsidizing food prices, electric prices, gasoline prices, and assorted government services including the military. Some goes to assorted corrupt officials whose Swiss bank accounts are no doubt swelling. Does that leave enough money to buy peace? Do the people in power possess the skill and motives to use the money to buy peace? I'm skeptical.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 29 12:33 AM  Mideast Iraq
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2005 August 28 Sunday
Stress Of War Exacts Long Term Health Costs

Soldiers who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have much higher rates of death from a large range of causes.

But now Joseph Boscarino of the New York Academy of Medicine has re-analysed the 1985 data to assess which men were suffering from the condition. That analysis, to be published in Annals of Epidemiology, reveals stark differences in death rates persisting 30 years after the end of the Vietnam conflict. All men with PTSD, whether from combat experience or not, were more likely to die from "external causes" such as accidents, drugs or suicide. But men who developed PTSD as a consequence of combat were also more likely to die of heart disease and, surprisingly, various kinds of cancer.

Boscarino finds lowered cortisol levels in soldiers proportionate to the amount of combat exposure they experienced.

Israeli researchers found the same pattern with veterans of the fighting in Lebanon.

In March this year Yael Benyamini and colleagues at Tel Aviv University in Israel reported that among Israeli veterans of fighting in Lebanon in 1982, those who developed PTSD are now twice as likely to have high blood pressure, ulcers and diabetes, and five times as likely to have heart disease and headaches, as those who did not develop the disorder (Social Science and Medicine, vol 61, p 1267). "PTSD is the key mechanism that leads from the trauma to poorer health," they say.

Because of advances in medical technology a much higher percentage of injured soldiers survive. Therefore the death rates understate the extent of the damage done to soldiers in Iraq.

A modest proposal to any folks reading this who work in policy making positions in the US Defense Department: Do a study on stress levels of soldiers in Iraq to track stress levels on soldiers in the field by minute or by some other high rate of sampling. Use electrodes or give soldiers small devices (PDAs?) where they can record when they feel high levels of stress. Use blood sampling to check how long stress levels remain high after combat operations. Find out exactly which situations cause stress and whether any tactical changes can reduce the percentage of the time that soldiers are in stressful situations.

For example, if soldiers who are about to break down a door feel a lot of stress would they feel less stress in such an operation if they could use a mechanical device to punch a hole through the door and extend a pole with a camera to see what is inside an apartment or house before entering?

Also, do stress levels in soldiers on long operations rise when they lack sleep? Does Provigil (modafinil) prevent some of the stress response to sleep deprivation or does it make the stress response higher?

Also, what base designs would best reduce stress levels of soldiers between combat operations? Would natural scenic vistas or paintings of forests or fields or perhaps ocean views best reduce stress? Does golf course architecture offer lessons for lowering soldier stress while in bases?

An even more effective way to stop the stress would be total withdrawal of US forces. But the American public haven't yet learned enough to make that a possibility.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 28 02:39 PM  Mideast Iraq Costs
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2005 August 27 Saturday
Tom Lasseter Reports On The Dismal Situation In Iraq

Working for the Knight-Ritter newspapers Tom Lasseter continues to write a series of insightful and depressing reports from Iraq. Regular ParaPundit readers will not be shocked to learn that when Lasseter went out on patrols with US advisors and the Iraqi Army he found the Iraqi Army is not ready to fight the insurgency.

Three weeks of patrols and interviews in restive Anbar province suggested that Iraqi security forces will need years of preparation before they're ready to take charge of the complex and violent tribal areas of western Iraq. President Bush has said repeatedly that U.S. troops will withdraw only when Iraqi troops are ready to take over.

Many of the Iraqi troops were in poor condition, unable or unwilling to complete long foot patrols without frequent breaks. They often didn't know what to do in complicated situations, standing back and letting American Marines and soldiers take the lead.

Some of the Panglossian war hawks like to cite figures like how many schools we built. Well, imagine you have the choice of either living in a city with lots of new schools or in a city with a police force. Which would you choose?

Hit, a city of 130,000, has no police force. North of Hit, in Haditha - near the site of attacks that killed 20 Marines this month - the police chief handed over all the patrol cars to the Marines in January.

"He said, "We can't protect these anymore,'" said Maj. Plauche St. Romain, the head intelligence officer for the Marine battalion that oversees Haditha, Haqlaniya and Hit. "He turned in the uniforms and (armor) vests, too."

That police chief was assassinated in April.

Want to know what passes for seasoned troops in the Iraqi Army?

During a recent operation in Haqlaniya, a squad from the Iraqi Intervention Force, one of the more seasoned units in Iraq's army, swept through neighborhoods looking for insurgents. One of the soldiers was so overweight that he had trouble putting on his flak vest.

During a raid on a suspected insurgent hideout, the Iraqis discovered they'd forgotten their bolt cutters. Instead of sending someone back to get them, they tried breaking a lock off an outside gate with the butts of their AK-47s. By the time they were through, they'd made so much noise that everyone in the neighborhood was aware of their presence on what was supposed to be a stealth operation.

When they arrived at their second objective, still without bolt cutters, the men wanted to use grenades to breach the door.

Their supervisor, U.S. Army Capt. Terrence Sommers, stepped in and said they'd risk hurting themselves and would give away their position to insurgents.

The Bush Administration "exit strategy" relies on having a bunch of clowns take over the fighting. The Bush Administration is intellectually and morally bankrupt.

The article also reports on US military advisors who have no interpreters and hence no way to communicate with Iraqi units they supposedly advise. Read the whole article. The mind boggles.

If you want to know how bad things are going in Iraq read all these articles in full.

The US military does commuity outreach based on the false premise that there is a non-enemy community to reach out to.

After a recent meeting with local tribal sheiks in Fallujah, Marine Lt. Col. Jim Haldeman walked to the back of the room and pulled a pack of cigarettes from his pocket.

The gathering was supposed to be an exercise in civic empowerment but quickly degenerated into the Iraqis demanding that they get identification cards designating them as sheiks, which would bar local security forces from arresting them on the streets.

"All of these guys are f------ muj," Haldeman said, using the Arabic term for "holy warriors," mujahedeen, which American troops frequently use to describe the insurgents.

Haldeman figures they all want to slit his throat.

The battle in the Sunni heartland's Anbar province has become a war of attrition and US officers do not expect to win. (same article here)

After repeated major combat offensives in the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, and after losing hundreds of soldiers and Marines in Anbar during the past two years -- including 75 since June 1 -- many U.S. officers and enlisted men assigned to Anbar have stopped talking about winning a military victory in Iraq's Sunni Muslim heartland. Instead, they're trying to hold a handful of population centers and hit smaller towns in a series of quick strikes designed to temporarily disrupt insurgent activities.

"I don't think of this in terms of winning," said Col. Stephen Davis, who commands a task force of about 5,000 Marines in an area of some 24,000 square miles in western Anbar. Instead, he said, his Marines are fighting a war of attrition. "The frustrating part for the [ American] audience, if you will, is they want finality. They want a fight for the town and in the end the guy with the white hat wins."

Neoconservatives will be angered to learn that the US Marines call their enemies "Mujahedeen" rather than the more derisive "terrorists". You can see an example of that above where Lt. Col. Jim Haldeman calls them "muj". The neocons can't very well blame leftist BBC editors for this choice. So how can they explain it? A leftist US officer corps and leftist enlisted grunts?

Instead of referring to the enemy derisively as "terrorists," as they used to, Marines and soldiers now give the insurgents a measure of respect by calling them mujahedeen, an Arabic term meaning "holy warrior" that became popular during the Afghan guerrilla campaign against the Soviet Union.

Lasseter has spent enough time in Iraq the last couple of years to see the decline in the security situation as his editor notes.

Knight Ridder reporter Tom Lasseter made regular trips to Fallujah in the summer and winter of 2003, interviewing tribal sheiks and residents before the town fell to insurgents. He wrote extensively about the brewing unrest in the region and the misunderstandings and conflicts between residents and the U.S. military units stationed there. During that period he was able to walk freely throughout the town with a translator. He was last in Fallujah without military escort in early 2004 when insurgents overran the downtown police station. After men repeatedly pointed AK-47s at his chest and face, and threatened to shoot him, he decided not to return except with U.S. troops. Insurgents took over the town that April. He reported on troops in Ramadi last summer and wrote about the scaling back of patrols there and low morale among troops. He returned to Anbar province in November, when U.S. troops retook Fallujah in the worst urban combat since Vietnam. Lasseter spent three weeks in the province this month embedded with Marine and Army units in Haqlaniya, Haditha, Hit, Ramadi and Fallujah.

With Fallujah back under partial insurgent control and Ramadi in a similar condition the US military is not big enough to assert control in the Sunni Triangle.

"It doesn't do much good to push them out of these areas only to let them go back to areas we've already cleared," said Lt. Col. Tim Mundy, who commands the 3rd Battalion of the 2nd Marine Regiment. Mundy, 40, of Waynesville, N.C., whose battalion is based in Qaim, added: "We're successful at taking some of his equipment and killing some insurgents, but the effectiveness is limited because we can't stay ... we go back to camp and then we get reports that they've come back in."

- In Fallujah, a city that Marines and soldiers retook from insurgents last November in the heaviest urban combat since Vietnam, fighters have begun to return and renew their intimidation campaign.

"As we all know, we have mujahedeen operating in small squads throughout the city," Marine Sgt. Manuel Franquez said before leading a patrol in Fallujah last week, using an Arabic term that means "holy warrior."

One interesting point: The Rand Corporation analysts James Quinliven and James Dobbins argued before the Iraq war that peacekeeping operations need 1 soldier per 50 troops. Therefore the US should have built up a force of a half million soldiers to handle Iraq. It could be argued that the US really only needs to deploy that big of a force in the Sunni Triangle and indeed a disproportionate portion of US troops are deployed there. But the war in the Triangle suggests that even the 50 to 1 ratio understates the size of a force needed. The US is not engaged in "peacekeeping" so much as a counter-insurgency war. The ratio of troops to populace needed might be much higher than the Rand result suggests.

The US military is not going to put down the insurgency. At the same time, Iraqi Shia soldiers have very little motivation to do what the US military lacks the forces to do. The war in Iraq will continue while an increasing portion of the American public gradually learns of the futility of our presence there.

If the Panglossians were correct and the insurgency was on the wane then US casualty would fall. US casualty rates are up near levels seen in some of the worst months since the war began. If the insurgents had shifted their attention way from the Americans and toward the Iraqi government forces then US casualty levels would drop. The levels have not dropped. If the US improvements in tactics and equipment were happening faster than the insurgents improved their methods then the US would again experience a drop in the casualty rate. Again, this has not happened. Iraqi government forces deaths have tripled this year without any decrease in US deaths.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 27 10:20 PM  Mideast Iraq
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2005 August 26 Friday
Charles Murray: The Inequality Taboo

Charles Murray revisits the evidence for group average differences in ability with a highly recommended essay in Commentary. I urge you all to go read it. (same article here)

The Orwellian disinformation about innate group differences is not wholly the media’s fault. Many academics who are familiar with the state of knowledge are afraid to go on the record. Talking publicly can dry up research funding for senior professors and can cost assistant professors their jobs. But while the public’s misconception is understandable, it is also getting in the way of clear thinking about American social policy.

Good social policy can be based on premises that have nothing to do with scientific truth. The premise that is supposed to undergird all of our social policy, the founders’ assertion of an unalienable right to liberty, is not a falsifiable hypothesis. But specific policies based on premises that conflict with scientific truths about human beings tend not to work. Often they do harm.

One such premise is that the distribution of innate abilities and propensities is the same across different groups. The statistical tests for uncovering job discrimination assume that men are not innately different from women, blacks from whites, older people from younger people, homosexuals from heterosexuals, Latinos from Anglos, in ways that can legitimately affect employment decisions. Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 assumes that women are no different from men in their attraction to sports. Affirmative action in all its forms assumes there are no innate differences between any of the groups it seeks to help and everyone else. The assumption of no innate differences among groups suffuses American social policy. That assumption is wrong.

When the outcomes that these policies are supposed to produce fail to occur, with one group falling short, the fault for the discrepancy has been assigned to society. It continues to be assumed that better programs, better regulations, or the right court decisions can make the differences go away. That assumption is also wrong.

Hence this essay. Most of the following discussion describes reasons for believing that some group differences are intractable. I shift from “innate” to “intractable” to acknowledge how complex is the interaction of genes, their expression in behavior, and the environment. “Intractable” means that, whatever the precise partitioning of causation may be (we seldom know), policy interventions can only tweak the difference at the margins.

The inequality taboo harms American society in a number of ways. It is used to justify harmful immigration policies, labor laws that persecute perfectly fair employers, college admissions polices that discriminate against the more talented, medical school admissions policies that let in less talented and hence more dangerous future doctors, and other policies that each inflict a variety of forms of damage on individuals and society as a whole. The inequality taboo undermines law enforcement efforts and leads to unfair accusations of racism against cops. This leads to increased numbers of criminals on the streets and more suffering and death of victims of crime. The people who defend this taboo and attack those who violate the taboo have a lot to answer for.

Ultimately this taboo will fall to advances in DNA sequencing technology. The evidence from twins studies, transracial adoption studies (and also see here), brain scan studies correlated with IQ, and the wider body of research results from psychometric research already make clear what massive DNA comparisons between humans will find once DNA sequencing costs drop by orders of magnitude. I'm looking forward to the death of the taboo and honest discussions in the political mainstream of social problems in America.

Update: In the comments of a debate of the left-leaning TPM Cafe blog Jason Malloy refutes Matthew Yglesias's lame attempt to dismiss the results of psychometric research. If you go up to my link above to trans-racial adoption studies and look at the graph of income of Korean adoptees and native children of parents in the same families you'll see the Socio-Economic Status (SES) of families argument touted on the Left for why some are more successful does not fit with the evidence. Control for genetics and SES effects become so extremely small that even I'm amazed by how little SES matters.

The argument for identical average IQ across races is the biggest and most important bright shining lie of our era. From it flows so many damaging policies. Even in foreign affairs this bright shining lie provides an essential support for the ridiculous argument that the Middle Eastern countries can transform into Jeffersonian democracies. Middle Eastern countries face a large cognitive obstacle on the road to liberal democracy. In foreign policy the denial of the truth is getting thousands of American soldiers killed and maimed, costing the public purse hundreds of billions of dollars, and damaging US security.

Update II: See TangoMan's post "The Adoption Controversy, Part Two" for a detailed treatment of the study on the trans-racial adoption of Korean babies I link to above.

Update III: Also see Jason Malloy's post on trans-racial adoption and the success of Asians. Note that the environmental factors that favor better school performance are found more often in white than Asian homes in the US. So much for cultural stereotypes as explanations of Asian success. It is hard to square the standard Leftist "white male racism is holding back non-whites in America" diatribe with the success of many Asian ethnic groups in the US of A.

Aside: I use the term "Asian" reluctantly. The genetic distance between various "Asian" ethnies is as great as the distance between Europeans and some Asian groups. Asia is a very big place. The lumping together of so many groups under the "Asian brand" hides important genetic and cultural differences.

Update III: Also see Steves Sailer's excellent observations on Murray's article.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 26 12:20 PM  Human Nature
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2005 August 24 Wednesday
Tougher Light Truck Fuel Efficiency Standards Proposed

The Bush Administration wants to raise standards for light truck and SUV fuel efficiency.

Under the proposal, fuel economy for the popular class of vehicles known as light trucks would be based on size and broken into six categories, with smaller vehicles required to get better gas mileage. By 2011, that would mean the smallest SUVs — such as a Toyota Motor Corp. RAV-4 — must get at least 28.4 miles per gallon, while larger models such as a Chevrolet Silverado pickup have a target of 21.3 mpg.

Currently, automakers must maintain an average of 20.7 mpg for such vehicles, which account for about 60% of passenger-vehicle sales.

By imposing fuel efficiency standards on light trucks which are more like the standards on cars this proposal narrow the price gap between cars and trucks when new. That, in turn, might shift preferences back a bit toward cars.

The costs versus amount of fuel saved are interesting.

Mineta estimated that the new rules would save about 10 billion gallons of gasoline over the life of vehicles built from 2008 to 2011. That is equivalent to about 7% of current U.S. annual consumption.

...

The government estimates that the proposal would cost automakers $6.2 billion for 2008 to 2011 models.

Presumably the manufacturers will achieve these goals without lessening the perceived desirability of the vehicles. Some of the costs will come in the form of lighter weight materials. Some might come in the form of fancier electronics to do things like turn off engines and restart engines automatically at stop streets. This wears starters and batteries more rapidly and so adds additional costs in maintenance. But all these costs will probably decline with time as materials and electonics become cheaper.

If the manufacturers can achieve higher fuel efficiency without sacrificing desirability then think about this: $6.2 billion to save 10 billion gallons of gasoline. That works out to an expenditure of $0.62 per gallon of gasoline saved. Granted, the costs are taken up front and the benefits happen over the life of each vehicle. So you have to factor in interest costs on the money. Therefore I'd guess that the real cost is 10, 20, 30 cents higher per gallon saved. But that is still a low price per gallon of gasoline saved.

The curious thing to observe here is that if manufacturers can lower fuel usage at the cost of less than $1 per gallon saved then the market is not optimizing vehicle designs for fuel costs. Gasoline costs almost $3 per gallon. One might expect many existing designs, developed when gaoline cost $1.50 to $2 per gallon, to have marginal costs for increased fuel efficiency on the order of something closer to $1.50 per gallon. But that obviously is not the case. Buyers do not rationally figure in fuel costs when choosing vehicles.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 24 02:55 PM  Economics Energy
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How Much Can State Level Immigration Initiatives Accomplish?

Juan Mann argues state-level immigration reform initiatives are not enough to stop the illegal tide.

In the wake of the hugely-successful Minuteman Project, the California Border Police Initiative currently gathering signatures in the Golden State is shaping up to be yet another shot-heard-round-the-world, 9.9 magnitude earthquake against illegal immigration, the likes of which America has never seen.

But without enacting comprehensive summary removal of illegal aliens and criminal aliens at the federal level, these heroic state efforts will be largely for naught.

The bottom line: any increased boots-on-the-ground immigration enforcement by police officers, immigration agents, the U.S. Border Patrol—or even a citizen Border Protection Corps—also desperately needs companion immigration legislation from Congress to see to it that the aliens arrested for immigration violations are actually deported!

If the California Border Police voter referendum gets onto the ballot and then wins passage then that will put more pressure on our disgusting political class in Washington DC to do more real immigration law enforcement and border enforcement. For that reason alone I think that the passage of the initiative will not be for naught. Also, a state police force deployed near the border would stop illegals from entering and the federal policy makers would find it very hard to refuse that police force the power to deport illegals.

If you are a Californian who wants a stop to illegal immigration consider helping the California Border Police initiative group to round up signatures to get the initiative on the California ballot. Or donate some money to them.

State level initiatives in Calfornia and Arizona (the only two of our 4 border states with Mexico that have popular ballot voter initiative processes) could go far toward cutting back on illegal immigration. Ballot initiatives could fund the development of border barriers along California's and Arizona's borders with Mexico.

Mann is right to argue for the removal of legal obstacles to deportation of illegals. His article lists a set of reforms which Congress should enact. Read the full article for the details.

For immigration law enforcement to work, America needs summary deportation, not perpetual immigration litigation in the federal courts.

Contrary to the repeated lies by the Open Borders crowd illegals could be rounded up very quickly and cheaply. As one of my correspondents pointed out "we could build a wall from Tijuana to Brownsville for the cost of one month in Iraq". The bulk of the illegal influx across the Mexican border could be stopped. The highest cost quote I found for the Israeli West Bank barrier is $4.15 million per mile. At that cost level California, which has a 140 mile border with Mexico, could seal off the border for $581 million. Arizona, which has a 370 mile border with Mexico could build a barrier for $1.535 billion. In fact, state legislative representative Russell Pearce is working to put an Arizona-Mexico border barrier on the Arizona ballot for November 2006.

Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, is drafting a measure to ask voters next year to spend the money to erect a climb-proof fence wherever possible from Yuma to east of Douglas.

California needs a similar initiative. Also, for many other states further from the border which have ballot initiative processes ballot initiatives could be used to instruct state police and other state agencies to support the rounding up of illegals for deportation.

Aside: A concrete barrier would not fall victim to wire cutters. Also, a barrier layer should have depth and lots of sensors. Anyone attempting to cross should trigger alarms that would bring border police to catch them before they made it through all the barrier layers.

Pearce sees better border enforcement and an end to the massive illegals presence as a way to save large amounts of money and improve quality of life.

They sneak across the border hoping for a better life, but immediately needing free health care, free education, and free government support if they can get it and usually do get it. A new federal report shows that only four states verify eligibility before you get Medicaid (AHCCCS), a $4 billion program with more folks enrolled in AHCCCS than K through 12.

But those things aren’t free. We pay for them. Right here in Arizona the average LEGAL family pays at least an extra $2,000 every year to support illegal aliens and another $2000 in taxes to make up for the $400 billion in unpaid taxes by the underground workforce that don't pay taxes and still use services such as education ($8000 annually per child). And those are just the direct expenses. They don’t include the cost of increased crime, city or county enforcement and jail cost, increased car insurance, increased medical/health insurance and other direct, but non-governmental expenses.

Measures to stop the immigration deluge at the state level will make clearer the divide that exists between elite and popular positions on immigration. The elites will find it more difficult to pursue their own interests at the expense of the populace if more states adopt immigration restrictionist policies and follow through with real enforcement.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 24 01:24 PM  Immigration Politics
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Steve Sailer On Hollywood Blacklist And Intellectual Property Fights

Writing for The American Conservative Steve Sailer puts a different spin on the motivations behind the Hollywood blacklist against communists.

A 1919 theatre strike won the playwrights of Dramatists Guild the right to retain copyright in their works. To this day, dramatists own their plays and merely license them to producers. Further, they have the right to approve or reject the cast, director, and any proposed changes in the dialogue. Contractually, a playwright is a rugged individualist, an Ayn Rand hero.

If memory serves, Rand had total (and highly unusual) editorial control of the script for the movie version of The Fountainhead. The communist script writers must have been very envious.

But the Hollywood movie script writers did not enjoy this legal right and their battle against the Hollywood studios over the right to control their own intellectual property led to to the blacklist against communists.

Insanely ironic as it seems now, many screenwriters became Communists because they despised the movie business' need for cooperation. How turning command of the entire economy over to a dictatorship would restore the unfettered joys of individual craftsmanship was a little fuzzy, but, hey, if you couldn't trust Stalin, whom could you trust?

The possibility of studios blacklisting writers first surfaced in the 1930s when the moguls' cartel turned aside the leftist screenwriters' push to align themselves with the Dramatists Guild by threatening to fire union supporters. "It wouldn't be a blacklist because it would all be done over the telephone," Jack Warner explained.

Decades later, after the formal Blacklist era, this labor-management conflict was eventually resolved by a tacit compromise. The blacklisted writers were elevated in the collective memory to the role of martyrs. Their leftism (but not their Stalinism, which was conveniently forgotten) was enshrined as the appropriate ideology of all respectable movie folk.

In return, the producers damn well hung on to their property rights in screenplays.

This is not history as popularly portrayed, now is it? Stalinist writers fighting for copyright control (in other words, intellectual property) of their own works? Oh, and they conducted this fight against the command economies which operated inside each movie studio. How convenient that the US Congress pressured Hollywood on communists. Just the excuse needed to break their attempt to get more intellectual property.

A too little recognized aspect of corporate capitalism is that internally corporations are command economies. They are not based on the Marxist "from each according to his ability and to each according to his need". Rather, they operate more like "from each to the extent we can pressure him to work harder and to each according to whether he can get a higher salary inside another corporate command economy". But even that limited right only works when a corporate command economy won't sue a departing worker for taking a job at a competitor with the claim the worker is taking company secrets with him.

Legal reforms that establish more property rights for individual knowledge workers make industry less a bunch of large command economies. Whether that would be more or less fair or more or less economically efficient is hard to say. I suspect such reforms would tend to increase economic inequality and also boost productivity by providing much more incentive to create.

Steve's article makes a wide assortment of other observations about the movie industry, politics, and American culture. Suggest you read it in full.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 24 11:56 AM  Politics Money
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2005 August 23 Tuesday
Collapsing Saudi Oil Production Could Not Cause $200 Per Barrel Oil

John Tierney of the New York Times has accepted a bet with oil investment banker Matthew Simmons on whether the price of oil could triple in the next 5 years due to collapsing Saudi oil production.

I proposed to him a bet using what Julian considered the best measure of a resource's value: how it compares with the average worker's wage. I offered to bet that the price of oil would not rise faster than the average wage, meaning that future workers would be able to afford oil more easily than they could today.

Mr. Simmons said he favored a simpler wager, based on his expectation that the price of oil, now about $65 per barrel, would more than triple during the next five years. He said he'd bet that the price in 2010, when adjusted for inflation so it's stated in 2005 dollars, would be at least $200 per barrel.

Remembering a tip from Julian, I suggested that we use the average price for the whole year of 2010 instead of the price on any particular date - that way, neither of us would be vulnerable to a sudden short-term swing as the market reacted to some unexpected news. Mr. Simmons agreed, and we sealed the deal by e-mail.

Simmons argues that the real Saudi oil reserves are as much lower than their official claims and has developed this argument into a book: Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy. Even if Simmons is correct and even if production in the rest of world's old fields can't be expanded much to compensate for falling Saudi oil prduction I think Simmons made an obvious error: The demand curve for oil will not support such a high price per barrel.

Given very high oil prices three things will happen in response:

  • Economic activity will decrease and hence oil demand will fall. The world will fall into a severe recession as happened in 1973-1974 and 1979. Decreased economic activity will help bring down demand and prices.
  • Economies will restructure to use less energy per unit of economic activity.
  • Non-oil energy production will rise.

In the short run supply of other energy sources is pretty inelastic. But in the medium to long run oil prices can not rise above the cost of substitutes.

The inflation adjustment in their bet creates another distortion. If oil prices skyrocket then part of the inflation adjustment in the bet will be for the increase in oil prices. A nominal tripling in the price of oil will yield less than a real tripling in the value of the dollars received.

Oil has two big uses: Space heating and transportation. In each case nuclear or coal electricity can substitute for oil. Transportation is more problematic due to the cost and weight of batteries. But check out a site which has a calculator for electric versus oil space heating costs. At the $2.17 per gallon of heating oil in August 2005 in New England and $0.075 per kilowatt-hour (kwh) of electricity in 2003 (sorry, couldn't find a US national 2005 figure but the trend is downward - note the calculator appears to take dollars, not pennies) and assuming a heating pump in the US northeast oil at today's prices already costs 128% of electricity for heating and costs 97% of electricity for hot water heating. Therefore oil is already uncompetitive for space heating assuming that oil prices remain at least as high as currently.

Some electricity still gets generated from oil in a few areas (if memory serves: New York City) where environmental opposition to coal has kept oil burners in operation. But coal accounts for a little over half of all electricity production in the United States followed by nuclear as the second largest electric power source. The United States has a large supply of coal and could also build hundreds of nuclear reactors. Plus, wind power is declining in price. Therefore in a period of sustained rising oil prices electric power would displace oil for space heating.

Even if we add a few cents per kwh for new coal plants to sequester carbon dioxide and require scrubbers to reduce emissions coal electric plant costs put price ceilings on the use of oil for heating. Similarly even if we assume the nuclear power industry is being too optimistic on new nuclear power plant costs new nuclear electric power plants put price ceilings on the use of oil for heating.

Replacing oil with electric in transportation is more problematic. However oil demand for transportation will get more elastic with time. The market can adjust to higher gasoline prices in a number ways. While hybrids are not now cost effective in the United States hybrids would become cost effective at around $5 per gallon of gasoline and in 5 years Toyota predicts technological advances will make hybrids cost effective even at today's prices by 2010. Plus, people can shift to smaller cars, move to places closer to work, and take jobs closer to home. More expensive but lighter materials become cost justifiable in vehicle manufacture as prices rise as well.

In the medium term I expect battery technology advances to make electricity even more substitutable for oil in vehicles. Plus, coal conversion to liquid fuels would provide another way to put a price ceiling on oil for transportation. The Germans did it in World War II. Certainly we could do it today.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 23 11:02 AM  Economics Energy
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2005 August 22 Monday
Undeclared Civil War And Ethnic Cleansing In Iraq

Baghdad has a high murder rate even before including car bombings.

The spreadsheets in Dr. Faad Ameen Bakr's computer shed some light on the casualty rate. Baghdad's chief pathologist pulls down the death toll for Iraq's capital in July: 1,083 murders, a new record.

Under Saddam Hussein, Baghdad was a violent city. But the highest murder rate before the war was 250 in one month. (By comparison, New York City with about 2 million more residents, had 572 murders in 2004, and a peak of 2,245 in 1990).

The month of June, with 870 murders, was the previous record in Baghdad. In a weary monotone, Dr. Bakr explains that 680 of the victims were shot, the rest "strangled, electrocuted, stabbed, killed by blunt trauma or burned to death." The totals don't include residents killed by Baghdad's frequent car-bombings.

But the murder rates of New York City and Baghdad aren't comparable because the motivations and effects are quite different. New York's murders do not change the political control of the city. Though they do cause some ethnic partitioning.

Iraq has become de facto partitioned.

"We are living in an undeclared civil war among Iraq's political groups,'' says Nabil Yunos, the head of political affairs for the Dignity Party, a Sunni party. "It's not just Sunnis that are the problem. It's the Shiites, the Kurds, it's everyone. The violence has gotten worse, and we're entering a very dangerous period."

In Baghdad, "soft cleansing" is taking place in a number of mixed neighborhoods, with targeted assassinations scaring Sunnis out of some, and Shiites out of others. In the south, Shiite militias, not the new army and police, are the major power.

But in the south the militias inflitrate the police to use the police as an instrument of power. One could argue that the political parties that control the militias do the infiltrating. But that implies a hierarchical relationship with the political parties above the militias. My guess is that the political and military bosses are the same people.

Based on compilations from public news sources Iraqi military and police deaths have tripled so far this year from January through July and are over three times US and coalition casualty rates. However, the real totals are probably higher. Plus, private militias have their own additional casualties. US and coalition casualties have not declined during this period.

The Sufis have responded to attacks by forming their own militias.

The early attacks were frightening, but until this spring there had been few Sufi deaths. Then, on June 2, a suicide bomber rammed a minivan packed with explosives into a takia outside the town of Balad, 40 miles north of Baghdad, killing at least 8 people and wounding 12.

The attack took place in the middle of a ritual. The minivan hurtled through the front gate, then exploded when people ran toward it, said a neighboring farmer who gave his name as Abu Zakaria. "I hurried there with my brothers in my car," he said. "It was a mess of bodies. I carried bodies to the car without knowing whether they were dead or alive."

Five days later, at a gathering of mourners in an assembly hall fashioned from reeds in the village of Mazaree, the head of the takia, Sheik Idris Aiyash, lamented the loss of his father and three brothers. "If we keep on like this, we might really face civil war," he said.

Some Sufi groups in Iraq have built up militias and are bracing for more violence.

Many Sufi places of worship have closed due to attacks.

There are no accurate estimates of the number of Sufis in Iraq, though the biggest orders are in Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan. Sheik Faiz said there were dozens of takias in the capital alone and more than 100 across the country before the war. That number may have dropped by as much as a third since the American invasion, he said.

Anthony Shadid and Steve Fainaru of the Washington Post have detailed long article on how Iraq is getting split up and fought over by rival factions. I highly recommend reading this article in full.

While Iraqi representatives wrangle over the drafting of a constitution in Baghdad, forces represented by the militias and the Shiite and Kurdish parties that control them are creating their own institutions of authority, unaccountable to elected governments, the activists and officials said. In Basra in the south, dominated by the Shiites, and Mosul in the north, ruled by the Kurds, as well as cities and villages around them, many residents say they are powerless before the growing sway of the militias, which instill a climate of fear that many see as redolent of the era of former president Saddam Hussein.

If you are still optimistic about Iraq then read that article in full and appreciate the sheer scale of the break-up of Iraq into pieces controlled by rival militias. The problem goes so much deeper than just the Sunni insurgency.

The war in Iraq is more than just a battle between the Sunni insurgency on one side and the US and Iraqi government forces on the other. Many more factions battle for power.

Success in Iraqi elections translates into bigger militias for the winners. Imagine George Washington building up his own private militia because he won an election.

The parties and their armed wings are sometimes operating independently, and other times as part of Iraqi army and police units trained and equipped by the United States and Britain and controlled by the central government. Their growing authority has enabled them to seize territory, confront their perceived enemies and provide patronage to their followers. Their rise has come because of a power vacuum in Baghdad and their own success in the January elections.

Democracy in Iraq is a violent sport very much like Chicago mob politics during Prohibition.

Since the formation of a government this spring, Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, has witnessed dozens of assassinations, claiming members of the former ruling Baath Party, Sunni political leaders and officials of competing Shiite parties. Many have been carried out by uniformed men in police vehicles, according to political leaders and families of the victims, with some of the bullet-riddled bodies dumped at night in a trash-strewn parcel known as The Lot. The province's governor said in an interview that Shiite militias have penetrated the police force; an Iraqi official estimated that as many as 90 percent of officers were loyal to religious parties.

Some Republicans in Congress no longer support George W. Bush's Iraq policy. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska thinks the US presence in Iraq is destabilizing to the Middle East.

"We are locked into a bogged down problem not unsimilar, dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam," Hagel continued. "What I think the White House does not yet understand - and some of my colleagues - the dam has broke on this policy."

He added: "I think our involvement there has destabilized the Middle East. And the longer we stay there, I think the further destabilization will occur."

Of course some neocons want destablization. But instability brings civil war and a form of very illiberal "democracy" where rival militias associated with political parties kill democratically elected opposition politicians and political activists. Free speech and freedom of the press die in hails of bullets and explosions of bombs.

I agree with political analysts who argue that falling US domestic support for the war will lead to at least a partial wthdrawal of US troops in 2006.

Given the political realities in the US, substantial troop withdrawals by next year "are pretty much inevitable," says Ivo Daalder, a senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution. The current force level of 140,000 US troops is just not sustainable for much longer, says Daalder. While numbers might actually go up prior to next year's elections for a permanent Iraqi government, they may then fall to around 70,000 or so.

The US has already lost in Iraq. Former Reagan Administration director of the National Security Agency William Odom proclaimed the US position in Iraq as totally lost back in May 2004. I agreed then. We need to decide which factions should we back as we withdraw. The US will have to form alliances with some of the militias and pretend those militias really defend the government rather than their own interests. Then US troops could withdraw from parts of Iraq controlled by those militias.

Also see my posts "Going Down In Basra Southern Iraq" and "Civil War Building In Iraq?" for more on the militias, ethnic cleansing, and partition of Iraq.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 22 11:12 AM  Mideast Iraq Ethnic Cleansing
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2005 August 21 Sunday
Watching Casualty Rates In Iraq

If you want a reality check on Panglossian claims about how the Iraq war is going the place to go is the page Iraqi Coalition Casualties. The rosy view of strengthening Iraqi military forces and a dwindling insurgency runs up against US casualty rate figures by month. As the time of this writing the coalition death rate per day so far in August 2005 is 3.05. That surpasses every month in the chart except March 2003 (7.67), November 2003 (3.67), and April 2004 (4.67). Well, how to square that with the rosy scenario?

One argument is that the insurgency is shrinking in size while simultaneously becoming more sophisticated. This might be true. But if the Panglossian war hawks are correct then a few other factors ought to be causing a decline in US casualties: A) the increase in the size and capabilities of the Iraqi military, B) the hardening of US bases and vehicles, and C) improvements in intelligence about the insurgents. Why aren't these factors lowering US casualties?

If (as some war hawks claim) the insurgency really has shifted its attention toward softer targets such as Iraqi civilians and Iraqi government soldiers then why haven't US casualty rates plummeted? Could it be that the insurgency has grown more capable and has simultaneously kept US casualty rates up while also raising casualty rates of Iraqi government soldiers and civilians?

Now, perhaps good news awaits right around the corner. In a few months attrition of the insurgents combined with factors that work in our favor ought to cause a gradual decline in US casualties. But then again, the use of shaped charges to up the lethality of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) could spread much more widely in the insurgency and the gains made by use of quite expensive better armored of vehicles could get cancelled out by relatively cheap improvements in IED design. Also, the continued rise of militias who are partitioning Iraq could lead to larger scale civil war and more attacks on US troops. Also, the Iraqi military could continue to fight the way most Arab armies fight: poorly due to reasons familiar to long time ParaPundit readers such as the practice of cousin marriage.

The long standing question in my mind: "Unilaterally Withdraw From Iraq Or First Partition?" But that question has been morphing of late: Will the partitioning of Iraq by the Iraqi militias survive the US withdrawal or will a new ruthless strongman arise to put Iraq back together again?

By Randall Parker 2005 August 21 11:56 AM  Mideast Iraq
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2005 August 19 Friday
Israelis Target Arab Consanguineous Marriages To Lower Infant Mortality

A reduction in rates of infection and selective abortion has greatly reduced infant mortality amont Arabs living in Israel. But Arab marriage practices keep the rate of defective babies and infant mortality higher than among Israeli Jews.>The Israelis now want to convince the Israeli Arabs to not marry their cousins and other close relatives as a way to further reduce Arab Israeli infant mortality.

The district health office has initiated a project in areas with large Arab populations that includes study days for health personnel, initiation of reports against inbreeding in the Arabic-language mass media, and encouragement of Muslim religious leaders to declare in mosques that this practice is likely to produce defective children.

Most of the activity, however, recruits elementary and high-school teachers in the Arab sector who speak to pupils about the dangers of marrying close relatives. "The effect on the reduction of the rates of consanguineous marriages should be observable within years, and the effect on infant mortality within generations," Strulov predicts.

The three-pronged effort would further reduce the gap in infant mortality rates between the Jewish and Arab populations in Israel, he said. In 2002, the annual infant mortality rate was 4.0 per 1,000 live births among Jews and 9.0 among Arabs; in the Northern District, it was 5.4 among Jews and 7.8 among Arabs.

The Arab Israeli infant mortality rate has already fallen by about two thirds since the early 80s.

In the early Eighties, the rate among Arabs was 22.6 per 1,000 live births and half that among Jews.

Aside: Note that the Israelis have been accused of genocide against Palestinians. But they have been trying (and succeeding) in lowering Arab (mostly Muslim) Israeli infant mortality rates. Of course they can not expect gratitude or even recognition for this. Life isn't fair.

The Israeli attempt to lower the rate of cousin marriage in their Arab populations has larger implications beyond effects on infant mortality or rates of congenital defects. First off, intelligence among the Israeli Arabs might be boosted. The Arabs are not exactly top of the pops in the IQ league tables. Higher IQs might reduce religiosity. Also, higher IQs will lead to more education and probably lower birth rates in future generations as smarter people spend more time in school and have fewer children.

If the Israelis are successful in changing Israeli Arab mating customs then that suggests Arab governments could carry out similar programs to change the mating practices of their Arab populations. Such a change in the Arab countries would have a huge political and economic impact. The bigger effect would show up in the form of reduced loyalty toward family and therefore increased loyalty toward larger scale polities, notably in the form of increased national loyalty. This would reduce nepotism and corruption and would therefore make Arab economies more efficient. Though the impact would take decades to reach full effect. Still, the attempt by the Israelis to lower rates of marriage to close relatives among Israeli Arabs bears close watching.

If you want to develop an understanding of how consanguineous marriage affects the politics of the Middle East a good place to start is my post "John Tierney On Cousin Marriage As Reform Obstacle In Iraq". From that post you'll find links back to previous posts and writings by others on this topic.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 19 03:44 PM  MidEast Arabs Versus Israelis
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2005 August 18 Thursday
Bush Administration No Longer Expects Model Democracy In Iraq

A Washington Post article reports that reality is sinking in for the Bush Administration on Iraq. Another dream bites the dust.

The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.

Some of the Bushies realize they need to shed their false beliefs.

"What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."

American soldiers have been fighting for Islam and for an Islamic republic. Does this make US soldiers into Jihadists?

"We set out to establish a democracy, but we're slowly realizing we will have some form of Islamic republic," said another U.S. official familiar with policymaking from the beginning, who like some others interviewed would speak candidly only on the condition of anonymity. "That process is being repeated all over."

The Bush Administration is slow to learn from empirical evidence. They have their dreams. They are very fond of their dreams. Reality sinks in only very slowly. Lots of people are dying to provide them with lessons in the real world. Read the whole article.

This reminds me of Ron Suskind's experience talking with a Bush White House aide.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

Solipsism didn't work out for the Bush Administration. They should join the reality-based community.

Here's what I want to know: when will the Panglossian war hawk parts of the blogosphere realize that they are cheerleading for an Administration that no longer believes the fantasies that the Panglossian posters defend?

While the Bush Administration has been slow to figure out real score in Iraq the appointment of old Central America Cold Warrior John Negroponte as Ambassador to Iraq sent realists into policy making positions in the US government in Iraq. John Burns of the New York Times reports on how when John Negroponte's team took over from Paul Bremer's team they saw Bremer's team as delusional.

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The first signs that America's top officials in Iraq were revising their thinking about what they might accomplish in Iraq came a year ago. As Iraq resumed its sovereignty after the period of U.S. occupation, the new American team that arrived then, headed by Ambassador John D. Negroponte, had a withering term for the optimistic approach of their predecessors, led by L. Paul Bremer.

The new team called the departing Americans "the illusionists," for their conviction that America could create a Jeffersonian democracy on the ruins of Saddam Hussein's medieval brutalism. One U.S. military commander began his first encounter with American reporters by asking, "Well, gentlemen, tell me: Do you think that events here afford us the luxury of hope?"

Reasons why Iraq would not prove fertile ground for establishment of democracy were obvious to some observers before the war. See my October 2002 post "Pessimists on Muslim Democracy" for arguments that preshadowed much of what has since followed. Also see a later post of mine where I listed a number of reasons why attempts to establish democracy won't work in the Middle East and in Iraq in particular.

Burns says American officers trot out all sorts of new measures for how the Iraqi military is becoming more capable.

One example of the new "metrics" has been a rush of figures on the buildup of Iraq's army and police force -- a program known to many reporters who have been embedded on joint operations as one beset by inadequate training, poor leadership, inadequate weaponry and poor morale.

Officers involved in running the program offer impressive-sounding figures -- including the fact that, by mid-June, the Iraqi forces had been given 306 million rounds of ammunition, roughly 12 bullets for each of Iraq's 25 million people. But when one senior U.S. officer involved was asked whether the Americans might end up arming the Iraqis for a civil war, he paused for a moment, then nodded. "Maybe," he said.

The figures put out by the US military and Bush Administration on Iraqi troop readiness are nonsense. Read the Mark Ames essay "Freaky Iraqis" for an overview of just how much the Iraqi military troop readiness figures have bounced all around over the last few years.

Senator Joseph Biden claims only 3,000 Iraqi troops are fully trained.

SEN. BIDEN: Look, I can tell you with absolute certainty that the number of troops that we have trained out of 100 battalions that are in uniform--and battalions make 300 to 800 people in each battalion. These are Iraqi battalions. We have fully trained fewer than 3,000. Fully trained meaning they can take the place of an American troop. We have another probably 20 to 30 battalions out there that, with embedded U.S. military, are able to do a serious, positive job. After that, it falls off the cliff.

If we have 178,000 troops that are already trained, Andrea, why do we need 130,000 American troops which would get you over 300,000 people in Iraq, with the body counts going up, with the insurgency gaining strength? And the president continues to say he is pleased with the training schedule. I don't know any military man or woman in Iraq who's pleased with that schedule.

But numbers trained to various levels are really besides the point. Loyalty and motivation are the biggest problems with Iraqi soldiers. Since some Iraqi soldiers leave the Iraqi Army to join the insurgency perhaps the slow rate of training has an upside: fewer highly trained insurgents.

Biden's pessimism on Iraqi democracy mirrors that of the Bush Administration (and of ParaPundit's own pessimism of much longer standing).

SEN. BIDEN: Well, my definition of success from the very beginning has been not a democracy. It will not happen in my lifetime there will be a liberal democracy. What I am hoping for, along with Republicans members of the Senate, as well Hagel and Lugar and others, has been that there be a secure nation within its borders that's basically a representative government where everybody thinks they've got a piece of the action that is federated in part where there is more autonomy given to the regions than ordinarily would be assumed in a united democracy, and the institutions in place where there is enough ability for that government, whatever is elected, to secure the physical safety of its people and not be a threat to its neighbors. That is as good as it is going to get and pray God that that's what happens. But the idea of a liberal democracy with institutions that function like Western democracies is beyond my comprehension in the near term.

Henry Kissinger worries over a Taliban-style regime coming to power in Iraq.

The war in Iraq is less about geopolitics than about the clash of ideologies, cultures and religious beliefs. Because of the long reach of the Islamist challenge, the outcome in Iraq will have an even deeper significance than that in Vietnam. If a Taliban-type government or a fundamentalist radical state were to emerge in Baghdad or any part of Iraq, shock waves would ripple through the Islamic world. Radical forces in Islamic countries or Islamic minorities in non-Islamic states would be emboldened in their attacks on existing governments. The safety and internal stability of all societies within reach of militant Islam would be imperiled.

If we had never overthrown Saddam in the first place the odds of Iraq getting taken over by radical Islamists would be orders of magnitude lower than the odds are today. Clearly the US invasion of Iraq harmed US national interests. But once US soldiers leave what will happen? Will foreign Sunni Jihadists ally with the Sunni Arabs and fight against the Shias? Or will the native Sunnis lose the desire for fighting?

If the Sunni Arab Iraqis continue to fight after a US departure will they fight to secede? Or will they fight to establish supremacy over the Shias? If the Sunnis fight for supremacy will they win?

Most Americans think the war in Iraq does nothing to increase domestic security.

President Bush is losing his domestic battle for hearts and minds; new polls report that, for the first time, a majority of Americans reject his contention that the war over there is making us safer over here. Indeed, barring major immediate progress in Iraq, 2005 might well be remembered as the year when public opinion went south and never came back -- a mood shift roughly analogous to 1968, when domestic confidence in the Vietnam War began its irreversible slide.

Americans do learn. Though it takes a while. Most Americans think the Iraq invasion was a mistake.

The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, taken Aug. 5-7, found that 54 percent of those surveyed thought the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a mistake.

Lawrence Auster examines the arguments and beliefs that led the Bush circle to make such monumental mistakes in Iraq (and my major quibbles with his argument is his use of "very smart" to refer to the Bush people and "conservative" to refer to the neoconservatives).

Yet there were deeper reasons for the failure to ask fundamental questions. For one thing, if Muslims are so different from us that they can never be expected to construct societies based on liberal individual freedom, then there is no hope for a peaceful world unified around a shared belief in democracy. Irreconcilable differences of values between Muslims and Westerners, expressed in terms of political conflict and ultimately military conflict, must be perpetual, not only internationally, but, even more frighteningly, within the West itself, where millions of Middle Eastern Muslims have settled as immigrants. In the interests of maintaining both international and domestic peace, any thought of irreconcilable cultural and religious differences must be suppressed.

Beneath the fear of irresolvable conflict, there was, and is, a deeper, ideological reason for the suppression of discussion. If liberal individualism is rejected as a matter of principle by one-fifth of the world’s population who follow one of the world’s major religions, then the claim of liberal individualism to be the universal truth would lose its credibility. It would mean that there was something particular about Western culture, perhaps even about the peoples that had founded and created Western culture, that makes liberal individualism possible, which in turn would mean that religious, cultural, and ethnic differences matter politically.

If any good comes from the Iraq Debacle it will be the much wider acceptance of the argument that, yes, cultural and other differences between ethnic and religious groups do matter, that values differ between cultures, that the beliefs necessary to support a liberal democracy are not universally held, and that irreconcilable differences between religions exist. The Clash of Civilizations is real and needs careful handling. American liberals and neoconservatives alike need to abandon their mistaken belief in the universal appeal of liberal democracy.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 18 09:49 PM  Mideast Iraq
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On Muslim Honor Killings In Germany

Muslim women in Germany get killed by their own families if they act too much like Germans.

In the past four months, six Muslim women living in Berlin have been brutally murdered by family members. Their crime? Trying to break free and live Western lifestyles. Within their communities, the killers are revered as heroes for preserving their family dignity. How can such a horrific and shockingly archaic practice be flourishing in the heart of Europe? The deaths have sparked momentary outrage, but will they change the grim reality for Muslim women?

If people think Western ways are so corrupt that they'd kill their daughter for following these ways then why are these people allowed to live in the West?

Hatin's crime, it appears, was the desire to lead a normal life in her family's adopted land. The vivacious 23-year-old beauty, who was raised in Berlin, divorced the Turkish cousin she was forced to marry at age 16. She also discarded her Islamic head scarf, enrolled in a technical school where she was training to become an electrician and began dating German men. For her family, such behavior represented the ultimate shame -- the embrace of "corrupt" Western ways. Days after the crime, police arrested her three brothers, ages 25, 24 and 18. The youngest of the three allegedly bragged to his girlfriend about the Feb. 7 killing. At her funeral, Hakin's Turkish-Kurdish parents draped their only daughter's casket in verses from the Koran and buried her according to Muslim tradition. Absent of course, were the brothers, who were in jail.

German cities have ethnic groups who are living in their own cultures isolated from German society. Communications technology enables cultural cocooning. The melting pot is broken.

The problem is that much of this insular and ultra-religious world is out of public view, often hidden in inner-city apartments where the most influential links to the outside world are satellite dishes that receive Turkish and Arabic television and the local mosque. Tens of thousands of Turkish women live behind these walls of silence, in homes run by husbands many met on their wedding day and ruled by the ever-present verses of the Koran. In these families, loyalty and honor are elevated virtues and women are treated little better than slaves, unseen by society and often unnoticed or ignored by their German neighbors. To get what they want, these women have to run. They have to change their names, their passports, even their hair color and break with the families they often love, but simply can no longer obey.

It is hard to imagine how new laws protecting womens' rights can fix this situation. Most of the women are too afraid to try to break free of their families. Their positions will remain secret from the larger society. Read the whole article. It makes for sober reading.

What is the point of letting in people who isolate themselves and create a society within a society? These Muslims do not come to Germany to join German society. They come to get money while maintaining their own separate and incompatible culture.

A correspondent observes:

Pity Germans don't have the will of the British in India. Sir Charles Napier, conqueror & governor of Sindh (1843-47) and Commander-in-Chief of India (1849-1851) observed:

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."

A few public hangings would sober up these Islamists rather nicely. Might help with assimilation as well.

Stop Islamic immigration and deport all the Muslims who do not have citizenship. Then start killing those who try to enforce their culture by killing and enslaving their daughters. The Germans should kill (preferably by slow painful and very public means) the parents who order their sons to kill their daughters. When the "international community" complains then they should just say they are expressing their local indigenous culture.

Members of Western societies need to decide that they have cultures and values that are worth defending. They need to decide reject the sort of liberalism that amounts to a cultural suicide pact.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 18 12:32 AM  Immigration Culture Clash
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2005 August 17 Wednesday
Arizona Governor Napolitano Declares Border Emergency

The problems with massive illegal immigration can no longer be ignored.

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano declared an emergency Monday in four border counties because of problems related to lax border enforcement and moved to provide local governments in those counties with up to $1.5 million in state funding.

Napolitano's order directly released $200,000 from the state's emergency fund for disasters while her emergency council released an additional $1.3 million, spokeswoman Jeanine L'Ecuyer said.

$1.5 million is chicken feed for a multi-billion dollar problem. I see her move as window dressing, similar to the recent move by New Mexico Democratic Governor Bill Richardson to put up $1.75 million for border security. But these moves are very important politically because they make it harder for politicians in Washington to pretend that the border and immigration problems are minor. Two elected Democratic governors have now gone on record with declarations of emergency stating that border security and illegal immigration are major problems.

The US Ambassador to Mexico is defending the moves by these US governors.

Tony Garza, the US ambassador to Mexico and a friend of President George W. Bush, responded on Tuesday night that violence “from Matamoros to Tijuana” was “destroying the social and economic fabric of our border communities”.

“The longer that violence continues, the tougher it becomes for many Americans to talk about Mexicans as our trusted partners with mutual interests,” he said in a speech in Denver.

One argument put forth by some members of the Open Borders crowd is that we have to keep the border open to keep Mexico stable. Well, Nuevo Laredo Mexico has degenerated into lawlessness because of the open border. This argument for open borders gets it exactly backwards. Closed borders will take the incentives away from organized crime to corrupt Mexican politics for the purpose of supporting illegal narcotics production and smuggling. Also, Mexico's problems are causing lots of crime in the United States and therefore victimizing lots of Americans. We need protection against what Mexico is right now.

Governor Napolitano wants to get reelected next year.

"Both federal governments let us down. There doesn't seem to be any sense of urgency,'' said Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona, a Democrat seeking re-election next year, in a telephone interview Tuesday, a day after declaring a state of emergency in four border counties. Napolitano said "ranchers are at their wits' end'' over smuggled immigrants who damage their property and livestock.

...

In July, Arizona's Napolitano met with about 100 law enforcement supervisors to discuss border smuggling and violence. Last week, she wrote to Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, saying she was ``increasingly disappointed by red tape'' and complaining that her efforts to have 12 state police officers work alongside federal border and immigration agents had been turned down.

One of New Mexico's US Senators supports Richardson's move to declare a state of emergency in New Mexico.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., toured the border Monday and said Richardson was right to declare an emergency and he hoped it would call attention to the needs of the region.

The state Republican Party also commended the governor in a news release issued Monday.

One Arizona state legislator wants the state of Arizona to build a barrier along the part of Arizona's border with Mexico.

Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, is crafting a measure to ask voters next year to spend the money to erect a climb-proof fence wherever possible from Yuma to east of Douglas.

Pearce acknowledged Tuesday he doesn't have a price tag. A similar fence erected by federal officials near San Diego cost about $1.7 million a mile; the Arizona border stretches for 341 miles.

For less than $1 billion all of Arizon'a border with Mexico could be closed to illegal movements of people and a great deal of the drug trafficking could be stopped. For less than $10 billion we could build a barrier across the entire length of the US-Mexico border. We should start building the barrier immediately.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 17 02:20 PM  Immigration Border Control
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Parallel Hawaiian Racial Government Proposed In US Congress

The US Congress, not content to rest on its laurels with all the destructive multiculturalist immigration and domestic policies it has already created, wants to build even bigger problems into our national institutions. Parallel ethnic governments anyone?

Once known primarily for its opposition to tax increases and government intrusion on individual liberties, the five-year-old Grassroot Institute of Hawaii this year suddenly thrust itself to the forefront of opposition to the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, known as the Akaka bill for lead sponsor U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka, D-Hawai'i.

The bill would create a process for federal recognition of Native Hawaiians as a political entity, and Akaka and U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawai'i had been promised the measure would come to the floor of the Senate by this month.

I'm beginning to think that annexation of Hawaii is up there on the list of places the US should not have grabbed. The top such place is Puerto Rico. We should grant them their independence whether they want it or not.

Some Congress critters are speaking up against the creation of a special class of citizens and a parallel government in Hawaii.

The U.S. House of Representatives also have their concerns. In a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader Tom DeLay from Representatives Steve King, Mike Pence, Gil Gutknecht, Dana Rohrabacher, Virgil Goode, Jeff Flake, Ernest Istook, Barbara Cubin, Lynn Westmorland, Jeb Hensarling, Dave Weldon, and others who signed on between July 20 and July 22, 2005, they presented questions about the bill.

Second, these bills raise practical questions that simply have not been addressed. For example, would a race-based government in Hawaii have the power to disrupt our nation's military operations there? Will gambling expand in Hawaii, given this legislation's vague language? Would the new race-based government have new rights to file lawsuits against the federal government under "breach of trust" theories? Will Native American appropriations be depleted when the 400,000 Native Hawaiians across the nation seek to participate in the same programs? How could Hawaii function if people living in the same neighborhood are subject to different laws, regulations, and taxes?

Consider for example, two small businesses in Hawaii competing against one another. One is owned by a Native Hawaiian, and the other is owned by one who is not. The former will be exempt from state taxes, state business regulations, and zoning and environment laws, and the latter will not. These problems and many other questions deserve answers.

Someone planning ahead could marry a native pure blood Hawaiian as a way to have kids who would be exempt from taxation and regulation. "Wealthy businessman seeks pure Hawaiian women to create tax-exempt business dynasty."

Former US Senators Slade Gorton of Washington and Hank Brown of Colorado say a racially exclusive government for native Hawaiians would violate the US Constitution.

The Senate is poised to sanction the creation of a racially exclusive government by and for Native Hawaiians who satisfy a blood test. The new race-based sovereign that would be summoned into being by the so-called Akaka Bill would operate outside the U.S. Constitution and the nation's most cherished civil rights statutes. Indeed, the champions of the proposed legislation boast that the new Native Hawaiian entity could secede from the Union like the Confederacy, but without the necessity of shelling Fort Sumter.

The Akaka Bill classifies citizens by race, defying the express provisions of the 14th Amendment. It also rests on a betrayal of express commitments made by its sponsors a decade ago, and asserts as true many false statements about the history of Hawaii. It should be defeated.

Among a list of 21 House conservatives who signed the letter opposing the Akaka bill are immigration restrictionist Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and libertarian Ron Paul (R-TX). Paul's name on the list is not surprising. But Paul is also taking positions on cultural issues and national identity questions which go against the Open Borders position of many ideological libertarians. John Ray points to a Ron Paul essay "Immigration and the Welfare State" where Paul calls for a halt to illegal immigration and says his constituents want a general reduction in immigration.

More and more of my constituents are asking me when Congress will address the problem of illegal immigration. The public correctly perceives that neither political party has the courage to do what is necessary to prevent further erosion of both our border security and our national identity. As a result, immigration may be the sleeper issue that decides the 2008 presidential election.

The problem of illegal immigration will not be solved easily, but we can start by recognizing that the overwhelming majority of Americans – including immigrants – want immigration reduced, not expanded.

...

Economic considerations aside, we must address the cultural aspects of immigration.

...

We need to allocate far more of our resources, both in terms of money and manpower, to securing our borders and coastlines here at home. This is the most critical task before us, both in terms of immigration problems and the threat of foreign terrorists. Unless and until we secure our borders, illegal immigration and the problems associated with it will only increase.

The sense of common cause and common interests is decaying in America. A serious proposal to create a parallel government in Hawaii based on a blood test is yet another example of how big the problem has become.

In an interview with the German magazine Der Speigel retired Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew explains why he couldn't allow an unfettered Western style democracy to operate in Singapore.

SPIEGEL: During your career, you have kept your distance from Western style democracy. Are you still convinced that an authoritarian system is the future for Asia?

Mr. Lee: Why should I be against democracy? The British came here, never gave me democracy, except when they were about to leave. But I cannot run my system based on their rules. I have to amend it to fit my people's position. In multiracial societies, you don't vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion. Supposing I'd run their system here, Malays would vote for Muslims, Indians would vote for Indians, Chinese would vote for Chinese. I would have a constant clash in my Parliament which cannot be resolved because the Chinese majority would always overrule them. So I found a formula that changes that...

Steve Sailer comments in response that multiple ethnicities with big differences in loyalties are the enemy of democracy.

There's so much romanticized worship of the Ellis Island immigration these days that it's heretical to mention the obvious fact that massive European immigration was a blow to functional democracy at the local level in America. It's hard to run a multiethnic city without venal machine politics. Chicago, for example, remains a one party town all the way into the 21st century. Like Singapore and the Lee family, Chicago has settled upon dynastic family rule as the best solution, with DaLee Rich Mike following DaLee Rich Joe as mayor for 37 of the last 50 years, and who knows how many years to come.

A group of Muslim organizations in Britain have written a public letter protesting the British government's decision to shut down radical Mosques and the Muslims assert that Sharia law is not extreme.

1. The term "extremism", frequently used in the public discourse about religion and terrorism, has no tangible legal meaning or definition and is thus unhelpful and emotive. To equate "extremism" with the aspirations of Muslims for Sharia laws in the Muslim world or the desire to see unification towards a Caliphate in the Muslim lands, as seemed to be misrepresented by the prime minister, is inaccurate and disingenuous. It indicates ignorance of what the Sharia is and what a Caliphate is and will alienate and victimise the Muslim community unnecessarily.

...

3. It is natural for Muslims to feel sympathy with fellow Muslims elsewhere in the world and to desire justice for those of them living under oppression. Many people compare the Israeli reality with South African apartheid and demand a similar solution. To denounce anybody who questions the legitimacy of Israel will be seen as an attempt to silence academic thought and legitimate political expression. If the government hopes to pander to Zionist pressure by condemning and excluding from this country people who are critical of Israeli apartheid, it is in fact supporting apartheid.

A clear majority of British Muslims want to live under Sharia law. The idea of religious freedom for all religions contradicts the idea of individual freedom.

Note that to Muslims a non-Muslim living under Muslim rule is not oppressed by a Muslim living under non-Muslim rule is oppressed. More generally, the more people put their ethnic, racial, or religious group identity ahead of national identity the more divided a polity becomes and the more democracy becomes a spoils system with politicial differences centered around grabs for goodies for each group at the expense of other groups. Systems split by ethnic differences, religious differences, and tribal loyalties become corrupt because civil servants and politicians see control of power in government as means to deliver for their groups. In-breeding groups become the centers of political factions. In the extreme societies sink into civil war.

Many warning signs are flashing across Western Civilization that people in different races, ethnicities, tribes, and religions do not have the same loyalties, values, culture, and sense of common identity. America and other Western nations are in deep demographic trouble. The dilution of white majorities is opening a Pandora's Box of inter-ethnic politicial clashes. It is time to stop all immigration, deport illegal immigrants, and repeal the automatic granting of US citizenship to children born in the US to foreign parents.

Update: ParaPundit question: If people are so different as to deserve separate governments and separate legal systems then shouldn't they be kept in separate countries divided by enforced borders?

By Randall Parker 2005 August 17 01:17 PM  Politics Identity
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2005 August 15 Monday
New Mexico Governor Richardson Declares Border State Of Emergency

Governor Bill Richardson (D-N.M.) has declard a state of emergency in 4 counties on the Mexican border in large part due to the failure of the US federal government to stop the lawlessness.

The executive order, issued after Richardson toured the area around Columbus, makes $750,000 immediately available to Dona Ana, Luna, Grant and Hidalgo counties. He pledged an additional $1 million.

The money will aid state and area law enforcement efforts, fund a field office for the state Office of Homeland Security and help build a fence to protect a Columbus-area livestock yard where a number of cattle have been killed or stolen.

Illegal aliens are a big contributing factor.

"As Governor I have a responsibility to protect our citizens, property, and communities," said Governor Richardson. "Recent developments have convinced me this action is necessary- including violence directed at law enforcement, damage to property and livestock, increased evidence of drug smuggling, and an increase in the number of undocumented immigrants."

The damage to property and livestock is mostly committed by illegals passing through the border areas.

The violence against law enforcement includes AWOL Mexican Zeta Commandos aiming to kill US Border Patrol agents.

Richardson says the US government does not devote enough resources to border security.

"The situation is out of hand," Richardson said Friday night on CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight," noting that one 54-mile stretch is particularly bad.

...

In announcing the state of emergency, Richardson -- a Democrat who served in President Clinton's Cabinet -- criticized the "total inaction and lack of resources from the federal government and Congress" in helping protect his state's residents along the border.

"There's very little response from the Border Patrol," he said on CNN. "They're doing a good job, but they don't have the resources."

The governor of Arizona might follow Richardson's lead.

"I'm taking these serious steps because of the urgency of the situation and, unfortunately, because of the total inaction and lack of resources from the federal government and Congress," Richardson said. "We will continue to work with the federal government in an attempt to get their assistance, but something had to be done immediately."

The Arizona Republic reported Saturday that Gov. Janet Napolitano, D-Ariz., might also declare a state of emergency this week because of border concerns.

George W. Bush has other priorities. He wants Hispanic votes and he wants to cater to business interests that want cheap labor. Lots of US Senators see immigration through the same prism as Bush. These politicians are worse than worthless.

Update: Can Democratic Governor Bill Richardson be trusted to take a hard line against illegal immigration? Of course not. John Fund of the Wall Street Journal (which is "Open Borders" central in the American press) says Richardson only pretends to take a hard line against illegal immigration.

Further evidence of the governor's zigzag policy on immigration came in April when he vetoed a "No Fear" bill, which would have prohibited state and local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal authorities to detect or apprehend people based solely on immigration status. But then he quietly issued an executive order that had much the same effect. Earlier this year, he also signed legislation giving some illegal aliens the right to in-state tuition rates at public universities.

"The governor is all puff and no cigar," says David Pfeffer, a Santa Fe city councilman who abandoned the Democratic Party this past March when he concluded its members "were closer to Michael Moore than to me." He expects the governor "to run for national office while saying one thing while he does something else back home."

Hillary Clinton's tough talk on immigration is similarly unbelievable. See my post "Hillary Clinton Not Serious About Border Security". The way forward for anti-immigration activists is at the state level. Lots of states have ballot initiative processes and direct appeals to voters through ballot initiatives can fix many of our border control and immigration problems. The California Border Police Initiative shows the way. A similar initiative in Arizona and state-level funding for border barriers in the border states could close the border. All other states - either through legislative action or ballot initiatives - could instruct their police to start rounding up illegals for deportation.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 15 03:26 PM  Immigration Border Control
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US Troops In Iraq Have Lots Of Consumer Electronics

In the bigger bases they have broadband internet and satellite TV.

Gadgetry, in particular, proliferates among the 138,000 troops stationed in Iraq: laptop computers, MP3 and DVD players, digital cameras, televisions and video game consoles. On bases in greater Baghdad, many soldiers have cellphones and some have satellite dishes that pull in scores of stations. Personal DVD collections numbering several hundred are not uncommon; the legendary ones top 1,000.

Never in the field of human conflict has so much stuff been acquired by so many soldiers in so little time.

One Louisiana National Guardsman stationed on Camp Liberty converted his trailer into a recording studio, and a New York National Guardsman living nearby has spent some of his free time during the last year producing a record by a singer in New York using an electric keyboard, sequencer, laptop computer, sampler, drum machine and mixer in his room; he and the singer use sound files sent via the Internet to exchange musical ideas and recorded tracks.

The US Postal Service ships from the states to US soldiers in Iraq at US domestic rates. So the soldiers can order stuff off of US web stores and get it shipped cheaply. They have 42 inch plasma TVs and plenty of other gadgets.

Camp Liberty in Baghdad has a bazaar on base for selling a large array of goods to soldiers.

The bazaar is a collection of shops owned by local Iraqis that cater to the eclectic tastes of soldiers, civilian contractors and journalists looking to unload a few greenbacks. In some cases, lots of greenbacks.

Saddam Hussein collectibles include ashtrays, gold-flecked china and paper money with the former dictator’s mustachioed mug on the front. Prices range from 50 cents for old Iraqi dinars — now the Middle East equivalent of Confederate dollars— to $700 for a set of gold-plated Saddam dishes.

Check out pictures of the Camp Liberty bazaar.

Yes, Iraqis work in Camp Liberty and some of those who work there like Saddam Hussein.

Some Iraqis working for Americans at Camp Liberty proudly display pictures of Saddam Hussein in their mobile phones. While they think he was a good leader they also like working with the U.S. as it is sometimes the only source of income for an entire family and many would like the forces to stay for security.

Harvard Law School graduate Nick Brown serves as a US Army Judge Advocate General defense lawyer for US soldiers and operates from Camp Liberty.

Many of the soldiers I defend are based throughout the greater Baghdad region. I often have to schedule rides on Blackhawk helicopters to outlying bases in order to meet with my clients. More frequently, either the soldier or I must convoy through the city in order to simply meet and discuss a case. Being on the city streets, you simply cannot know if the next Humvee hit by a rocket, roadside bomb or hand grenade dropped from a bridge will be yours. Every time I step outside the gates of relatively safe Camp Liberty, I bring along six or seven magazines fully loaded with ammunition. Sometimes it's difficult for me to comprehend that a whole team of soldiers must convoy across the city simply so one soldier can seek my legal advice. Quite often, the soldier driving us is barely 19 and the one protecting us from behind the .50-caliber machine gun isn't any older. All of this is to make sure that criminal justice functions.

Most of Brown's cases are for drug or alcohol violations. Does Brown make dangerous trips across Baghdad with convoys of soldiers so he can meet with a soldier about the soldier getting caught with a whiskey bottle? I mean, is the US military that dumb? Probably.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 15 12:14 AM  Mideast Iraq
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2005 August 14 Sunday
Whites Still Do Manual Labor In Wisconsin

Over at No Speed Bumps Dan reports on how during a vacation trip in Wisconsin he found white people doing all the manual labor jobs that are done by Hispanics in Texas.

Two weeks ago I vacationed near Oshkosh, Wisconsin. One thing strikingly different than living in Texas was that there were few Hispanics. In Texas, Hispanics are found in all walks of life, from doctors to janitors.

With so many impoverished Hispanics illegally moving to Texas over the southern border each year, they have taken over most of the lower-skill jobs because they will work for less than American citizens. Go to any restaurant, hotel, or construction site and all of the basic manual labor tasks are being done by low-income Hispanics.

Anyway, while on vacation, in the hotels we stayed in all of the maid staff and other help were white. The same was true of all of the restaurants we ate in, from the cooks, to the bus boys, to the grounds keepers. I felt like we were in a time machine and in a strange land.

An interesting note about the maid staff at the hotels was the good cheer that they were in. They were constantly chatting among themselves and seemed very content as they went about their work. This reminded me that, yes, there is dignity to manual labor, and yes, white people can still do manual labor.

This runs counter to the fashionable argument today justifying the open border policy with Mexico. The argument goes that America could just not function without all of the low-skill workers coming in to do all of the manual labor. Well, that is ridiculous. It may drive prices up some, if American citizens (whether white, black, or any other race) must do the work – but the work will still get done, one way or another.

One of the big whopper lies told by open borders advocates such as George W. Bush is that there are "jobs that Americans won't do". This is nonsense. One only need travel to those places where the bulk of the population is still white to see that this claim is false propaganda.

As for the argument that a lack of cheap immigrant labor will drive up prices, it rests on three fallacies:

  • That low skilled labor makes up much of total costs. Wrong-o sleigh bell lovers. The bottom quintile of the United States population earns only 3.5% of national income. 20% get 3.5%. If we deported all the illegal aliens and stopped all low skilled and moderate skilled immigration the bottom 20% would see some significant increase in their wages. But that increase would be unlikely raise total prices by even a couple of percent. We don't pay them that much. A 10% or 20% increase in their salaries won't matter much to the rest of the population.
  • That there are no substitutes for cheap labor. Again, wrong-o sleigh bell lovers. Necessity is the mother of invention. In all likelihood, faced with higher labor costs industry would be more eager to develop and buy more capital equipment and to arrange the methods of purveying goods and services to decrease the amount of labor needed. In fact, we have an example available for what the lack of cheap immigrant labor will do to an industry. The Australian wine industry is more automated than the American wine industry due to lack of cheap immigrant labor in Australia. Ben Franklin was right. We'd advance more rapidly without simple minds available to do simple tasks cheaply.
  • That there are no external costs to cheap unskilled immigrant labor. And once again, wrong-o sleigh bell lovers. Low skilled laborers can not afford to pay for their own medical care. They don't pay enough in taxes to pay for the educations of their children. They do not make enough to pay for their retirements in the United States. The list goes on. Oh, and they commit crime at higher rates. So they cost crime victims and also the criminal justice system. A year for an inmate at Rikers Island in New York costs $47,000. Criminals are expensive for the rest of us in many ways.

The Open Borders advocates are deeply dishonest. They know their propaganda is based on fallacies. America's elites are corrupt. They lie. They can not be trusted. America is going down a very wrong path. Our leaders in business and politics are to blame. But so are apathetic members of the public. It is time to wake up and demand a stop to massive immigration. The costs have become far too high and will be with us for decades to come.

Update: Linda Thom reports that whites still do manual labor on Whidbey Island in Washington State.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 14 06:44 PM  Immigration Economics
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2005 August 12 Friday
Oil Headed To $70 Per Barrel?

$66.40 and climbing.

With bullish sentiment unabated and crude prices hitting consecutive highs this week, analysts expect front-month crude contracts to test the $70 a barrel threshold.

Light sweet crude for September delivery gained 60 cents to $66.40 in morning trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Thursday, oil prices settled at $65.80 a barrel, the highest close since Nymex trading began in 1983.

The amazing thing about this is that so far the US economy and world economy have not slipped into a recession.

In inflation-adjusted terms oil prices still fall well short of the 1980 price peak.

Oil prices are 46 percent higher than a year ago, but they would need to surpass $90 a barrel to exceed the inflation-adjusted peak set in 1980.

But oil probably doesn't need to hit $90 per barrel to cause a global recession.

Oil investment banker Matthew Simmons argues that the Saudis have exaggerated the size of their oil reserves and can not increase production. He's fleshed this argument out into a book: Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy. Simmons says officially published reserves numbers for the Middle Eastern countries are obviously bogus.

"The proven reserves, which used to be reported on a detailed, field-by-field basis disappeared, rolled up into just country-by-country. Over the period of the first eight years of the 1980s, all of the Middle East oil producers tripled the amount of proven reserves they said they had. And then, effectively, country-by-country, the [proven reserves] number stayed still. It never changed from 1987-88 to 2005; and nobody ever said, What's going on? How do you basically keep producing 15-20 million barrels a day out of the Middle East and the proven reserves never change?"

Simmons doesn't see how oil production can grow from perhaps 86 to 88 million barrels per day in 2005 to 119 million barrels per day projected for 2025 by the US Energy Information Agency.

"The only way we could ever, ever [produce] 119 million barrels a day is if Saudi Arabia is producing somewhere between 20 and 30 million barrels a day, and my worry is that since Saudi Arabia gets 90 percent of its production from five fields that are very old, each of those five fields could easily, in the next 3 to 5 years, go into a significant production collapse.

Instead of nearly 120 million barrels of oil being consumed daily by 2025, Simmons thinks it's more likely the world will have to make due with half that much, just 60 million barrels a day.

Aside: If Simmons is right then the CO2 emissions increases projected for the 21st century are unrealistic and therefore the assumptions underlying the global warming debate are completely unrealistic.

What matters most about Simmons' argument are the short to medium term economic impacts. If he is right then economic growth will slow until new energy technologies are developed. That slower economic growth translates into less money to fund the retirement of baby boomers. That means (among other things) higher taxes for workers which, in turn, discourages work and causes further economic slowing.

America already faces two very big and growing economic problems. One is the aging of the population and the rise of the ratio of aged non-workers to workers. The aged non-workers get taxpayer subidies for medical care, living expenses, and nursing care. The other big demographic problem comes from the continued huge influx of low skilled immigrant groups whose descendants continue their pattern of poor school performance, low incomes, and higher crime rates. Our worthless elites in Washington DC continue to make these problems worse through the decisions they make. On top of these problems we may also be facing a long period of rising energy prices.

For a small fraction of the cost of the Iraq war debacle we could deport all the illegal aliens and put tough requirements on legal immigrants to ensure that all immigrants are a large net economic benefit to the citizens of the United States. But our corrupt elites oppose policies that are in the best interest of the nation as a whole. Also, for a small fraction of the cost of the Iraqi Debacle we could fund huge amounts of energy research. But again the lousy leaders of America will have none of that. And yet again for a small fraction of the cost of the iraq mess we could make a major effort toward rejuvenation therapies that would extend the working lives (and total lives) of our aging population and greatly improve the national financial balance sheet. But again, the morally and intellectually deficient fools in Washington DC have other wrong priorities.

The United States has real and big problems which have obvious solutions which attract little attention in the national media. Most of the blogosphere is no better. The taboos of the politically correct keep most silent about the massive immigration of low IQ ethnic groups. We can not afford the costs that these taboos are incurring. The demographic changes have gotten too large in scale. The lie that racial differences in cognitive differences are small supports the continuation of extremely harmful national policies. The enforces of this irrational secular faith are enemies of America, not its protectors.

On energy policy debate is wasted on distractions such as the supposed evils of SUVs or the supposed evils of the oil industry. Moral posturing and identification with in-groups just wastes time. We need a more rapid rate of technological advances and useful solutions, not preaching. Measures to raise energy efficiency are great but can only solve a small portion of the total problem. We need technology and lots of it. We need advances in photovoltaics, nuclear power, batteries, and perhaps hydrogen as well.

Then there is the aging population problem. We need a big shift in thinking away from arguing whether more taxes or more market forces with private accounts are the solution to the financial problem. Time to think out of box. The way to solve the problem of old people who are net burdens is to turn them young again so they can work and pay taxes rather than collect benefits. We need huge pushes in stem cell research, gene therapy research, and along other avenues to bring about full rejuvenation and a more youthful and productive workforce.

If you are a blogger reading this I appeal to you: Write about what is important. Write about the real big problems and write about the problems honestly without fear of what the moral police have decided we are allowed to say or think. Our problems have grown too large to afford the irrelevancies, the dishonesty, and the suppression of important truths that characterize the national American political debate.

Update: Greg Cochran has coined a slogan to describe US Middle Eastern policy: " Blood for No Oil !" and he gets it exactly right. The US invasion effectively has done nothing to increase Iraqi oil production. I was watching some think tank presentation on C-SPAN a couple of nights ago about Iraqi oil and one guy was talking about declining oil production in the Kurdish region of Iraq due to the age of the oil fields. He was explaining how many billions of dollars of equipment and work it would take to temporarily turn around the production decline. Apparently a number of Iraqi oil fields are old and production is declining due to gradual depletion. Enhanced recovery techniques can extend the production life some but not alter the fact that these fields are well past their productive peaks.

The guy on C-SPAN also had Iraqi oil reserves split out into categories of control by regional power brokers. His chart showed Ahmad Chalabi (who is now acting oil minister for Iraqi) as controller of the biggest chunk of reserves. But curiously the chart had other smaller chunks (e.g. some Kurdish and Sunni Triangle fields) listed under other controlling influences.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 12 12:51 PM  Economics Energy
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2005 August 10 Wednesday
On The Costs Of Illegal Aliens

An Arizona news report on illegal immigrant medical costs probably underestimates the real medical costs from illegals.

Under a new federal program, $1 billion over four years will be allocated to reimburse hospitals nationwide, plus certain physicians and ambulance providers for emergency services provided to illegal immigrants, according to Walz.

He estimated that Yuma will receive about half of what the hospital pays each year for uncompensated illegal immigrant health care, a projection he based on Arizona's allocated portion of the funds.

The estimated annual cost to hospitals and other providers of emergency health care nationwide for illegal aliens — mandated but not funded by the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) — is $1.45 billion, according to congressionally commissioned research from the MTG Corporation.

The $1 billion over 4 years amounts to $250 million per year. So that is only one sixth of what the hospitals pay for uncompensated care for illegals. But that $1.45 billion per year cost seems awfully low. Note the native born children of illegals get many of their costs paid by local, state, and national governments. Also, some of the illegals manage to fraudulently qualify for Medicaid.

Arizona's Yuma county, in which one third of babies are born to illegal aliens, has a hospital that claims it provides $2 million in care to illegals. But what is the cost of delivering all those babies?

Walz's estimate comes after news that nearly one in three babies born in Yuma County Arizona in 2002 were born to illegal immigrant mothers, according to a recent report by the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank that pushes for anti-immigration policy. The rate is the highest in all of Arizona and among the highest in the country.

With weak verification of citizenship for Medicaid applicants my guess is that a lot of these babies are getting paid for under Medicaid.

Illegals are 43% of all medically uninsured. Many have legal children who are also uninsured. Also, some of those illegals and children who are insured are insured under government subsidized programs. So the money doesn't show up as uncompensated care. in heavily Hispanic Texas 24% of the population is medically uninsured while in heavily white Minnesota only 8% of the population is uninsured.

California spends nearly $8 billion per year educating illegals and children of illegals with $3.2 billion for illegal students and $4.5 for legals born to illegals. Note the proportion. A similar proportion probably holds for the medically uninsured. Also, nationally the educational costs for illegals and their children is over $28 billion. Also, in California native pay over 3 times as much in taxes per person per year as Mexican immigrants.

Florida spends at least $4.3 billion on illegals.

Analysis of the latest Census data indicates Florida’s illegal immigrant population is costing the state’s taxpayers $4.3 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration. Even if the estimated taxes collected from illegal immigrant workers are subtracted, net outlays still amount to more than $3.3 billion per year. The annual fiscal burden amounts to about $575 per Florida household headed by a native-born resident.

Those costs do not include local jail costs, law enforcement activities to catch illegals who commit additional crimes, or the costs to victims of crimes committed by illegals, or security costs expended due to higher risk of crime from higher crime rate immigrant groups. Costs of welfare and education for the children of illegals are not included. Also, higher costs of teaching English to their kids are not included nor are the costs of white flight from neighborhoods that become heavily Hispanic.

Aging Mexican illegals in the United States are seen as a growing economic problem. (same article here and here)

While much of the attention remains on the persistent inflow of illegal workers, a new question is beginning to worry some analysts and policy makers on both sides of the border: What will happen when the 10 million Mexicans living in the United States become too old to work? Will they retire in the United States or will they return to Mexico?

The number of old illegals in the United States growing very rapidly.

In 2003, an estimated 710,000 Mexicans over 60 lived in the United States, 63 percent more than a decade earlier, the National Population Council of Mexico concluded, based on Census Bureau figures.

You can bet that growth rate is going to continue. When they get old and sick they will show up at hospital emergency rooms seeking treatment. The law requires the hospitals to pay. Therefore American citizens will pay.

Cheap labor is subsidized labor. Our immigration policy is increasing the size of the recipient class who are net drains on everyone else. People who can not provide for their own retirement end up getting paid for by taxpayers one way or another. One out of every 12 dolllars spend on medical insurance pays for medical care of the uninsured. So the tax system is just one of the ways we pay for medical care for poor illegals and poor legal immigrants as well.

Keep all the above in mind next time you hear George W. Bush arguing for his harmful Mexican worker permit program.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 10 11:13 PM  Immigration Economics
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In Some European Cities Muslim Numbers Grow While Net Populations Decline

Joel Kotkin argues that unless Western cities take a very aggressive position against potential terrorists that fear will drain their urban centers of populations. Thanks to immigration European cities are following the American pattern of white flight.

Nor is this flight a strictly American phenomenon: Population has been dropping in London, Paris, Hamburg, Milan and Frankfurt. In many of these cities, the only rapidly growing group is immigrants, most of them Muslim, including many who are increasingly recruited by and susceptible to Islamist extremists.

So much for the idea of Muslim immigration as a solution to European demographic problems. Muslim immigration, by causing white flight, contributes to the decline of European cities. The obvious response ought to be to halt the Muslim immigration and deport all the Muslims who are not already citizens. Such a move might save some cities.

Lots of cities in history declined due to violence.

It's too early to tell how businesses or individuals might react if terrorist attacks were to become commonplace. But the historical record isn't promising. Many of the earliest cities of antiquity -- in places as dispersed as Mesopotamia, China, India and Mesoamerica -- shrank and ultimately disappeared after being overrun by more violent but often far less civilized peoples. As is the case today, the greatest damage was often inflicted not by organized states, but by nomadic peoples or even small bands of brigands who either detested urban civilization or had little use for its arts.

A number of older American cities have become shadows of their more glorious pasts. The same fate awaits still other cities as higher crime and lower achieving populations displace the white populations that used to make up their majorities.

A lot of financial services firms are moving away from big concentrated cities in order to reduce the risk of terrorism.

It's easier to measure effects of decisions by financial services firms to shift more of their operations to suburbs and smaller towns, in part because they are less vulnerable to a potential terrorist assault. Jobs that used to be done in Manhattan are migrating to New York's outer suburbs, as well as to places such as Florida. The same has been happening to London. British observers note the steady movement of financial and other high-end service jobs to less vulnerable and less expensive provincial cities, as well as offshore havens in India and other parts of the developing world.

Kotkin notes that the dense and centralized nature of London and New York makes mass transit more feasible for them. But the mass transit then becomes an obvious target of attack due the density of the people on the buses and trains and also due to the dependence of these cities on mass transit.

Kotkin argues that in order to survive cities must abandon multiculturalism for assimilation. But what if a group embraces a religion that makes it incompatible with the larger society? Kotkin also argues for wider scale installation of eletronic surveillance systems and active surveillance of suspected terrorists. He also argues for preventive detention. While that probably won't pass constitutional muster in the United States in Great Britain Parliament has fewer restraints. Though Britain has now placed itself under an EU constitution and it is not clear whether the highest court in the European Union will allow the British government the range of powers that it has exercised in the past.

Demographics matters. America's demographics outlook is grim. Ditto Europe.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 10 08:15 PM  Immigration Culture Clash
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2005 August 08 Monday
Lack Of Immigration Law Enforcement Kills

If illegal alien Ramiro Gallegos had been deported after his first DWI (Driving While under the Influence of alcohol) arrest then Scott Gardner would still be alive.

Calling a single deportation officer for North Carolina "inexcusable," U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick asked federal immigration officials Wednesday to explain why they're "not fulfilling their responsibilities."

Myrick's letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and other officials came four days after the death of constituent Scott Gardner, a Mount Holly man killed Saturday when his car was hit by a truck driven by an illegal immigrant later charged with driving while impaired.

It's the fourth time in three years that Ramiro Gallegos, 25, who lives in the Brunswick County town of Supply, has faced DWI charges.

"It should not take a horrible incident like this to draw attention to this persistent problem plaguing the enforcement of our immigration laws," wrote Myrick, a Charlotte Republican.

See Steve Sailer's post on just how cheaply illegal immigrants could be deported. The same correspondent who he quotes anonymously tells me small numbers of federal agents could deport large numbers of illegal aliens.

What could be done instead? For a start, we could build a wall from Tijuana too Brownsville for the cost of one month in Iraq. We could simply enforce our laws like Israel and Malaysia do. Both Israel and Malaysia have removed massive illegal populations with minor law enforcement efforts. Indeed, the U.S. has done so as well... Three times it turns out. There were large scale deportations in the 20s, 30s, and 50s. The 50s enforcement effort was ordered by President Eisenhower and was named "Operation Wetback" (not very PC). 700 federal agents removed some 80,000 illegals. However, it is clear that large numbers of illegals left on their own faced with real immigration enforcement. Estimates range from 700,000 to as high as 2 million. See [here] for a sane article on the subject

Update: Connecticut Congressman Christopher Shays wants to give power to local police to enforce immigration laws.

“We should crack down on the borders more and allow local police to have the power to make arrests,” said Shays, a Republican who represents the 4th District, which includes Ridgefield and Redding. “Federal law prohibits bank robbery and we allow local law enforcement to make arrests.”

The call from Shays comes several months after Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton unsuccessfully sought help from the state police to crack down on illegal immigrants in the city. Federal law requires local or state police to get six weeks of special training to enforce immigration law.

If police can identify someone as an illegal then why should they go through 6 weeks of expensive training before they can make an arrest?

By Randall Parker 2005 August 08 11:57 AM  Immigration Law Enforcement
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Mexican Criminals Hide In Los Angeles Area

Los Angeles offers a congenial environment for Mexican criminals who want to hide from the Mexican government.

LOS ANGELES – The killers cross the U.S.-Mexico border, assume new identities, get jobs, blend in among Spanish speakers and sometimes enjoy freedom for years.

But these fugitives from the law aren't border-jumpers heading south. As the recent arrest of one of Mexico's most notorious fugitives at a modest home outside Los Angeles showed, some criminals escape justice by heading north.

In the last 10 months, federal immigration officials have helped locate 13 Mexican murder suspects, along with hundreds of other criminals, hiding in plain sight in the Los Angeles area.

The vast Spanish speaking populations of LA provide an environment in which criminals can hide.

"There are large pockets in the L.A. area where you could live forever without having to speak English," said Jorge Field, who oversees the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's fugitive operations teams in Los Angeles. "As long as you're law-abiding in the United States, as long as you don't have any contact with police, you can fly under the radar for a long time because there is such a vast population in this area."

Of course, some of these fugitives violate laws and harm people while they are in the United States. They are criminals after all.

US law enforcement personnel put some effort into finding and deporting criminals back to Mexico. But the effectiveness of that effort is limited by rules in LA area police departments against treating illegal aliens different from citizens. While illegals operate large gangs in the United States and Mexican criiminals hide in the United States among Hispanic populations here lots of Mexicans and others commit crimes in the United States and then flee to Mexico secure in the knowledge that they'll be safe from extradition. Mexico won't deport criminals who face either the death penalty or sentences without eligibility for parole.

Mexican authorities will not return Raul Garcia-Gomez to the United States unless prosecutors agree to spare him from execution and life without parole, the Mexican consul in Denver said Monday.

...

The 20-year-old fugitive is accused of killing Detective Donald Young and wounding his partner, Detective John Bishop, as the two officers worked off-duty at a baptism party in Denver on May 8.

The irony here is that the worse the crime a Mexican commits in the United States the less likely he'll be deported from Mexico once he has fled there to escape prosecution.

The Mexican legal system considers not just capital punishment but even life without parole as cruel and unusual punishment.

On October 2, 2001, the Supreme Court of Mexico ruled in a binding decision that no extradition would be granted unless the requesting state gives assurances that a term of years would be imposed and the suspect would be eligible for parole. In so ruling, the Court held that the purpose of punishment is rehabilitation. Life imprisonment is inconsistent with rehabilitation and, therefore, a sentence of life imprisonment violates their constitution because it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

In May of 2002, in a non-binding decision, a Mexican court ruled that assurances by a prosecutor have “no value because U.S. judges are autonomous, as their own embassy recognizes, so they would apply the punishments established by U.S. Penal Codes”. The Office of International Affairs has advised that they interpret these rulings as requiring that the assurances to be given by a judge. Such “judicial assurances” are a legal impossibility in the United States since a judge cannot rule on a case not before the court, and a judge may not prejudge the evidence.

In at least two recent cases, Mexican authorities have refused to deport or expel a US citizen without sufficient assurances.

The October 2, 2001 Mexican Supreme Court decision and its holdings were reaffirmed by the Mexican Supreme Court in April, 2004.

350 violent felons live free in Mexico out of reach of California law.

In California, officials estimate some 350 violent felons have fled south seeking protection of a Mexican Supreme Court ruling that the death penalty and life in prison without parole represent cruel and unusual punishment.

With Hispanics committing crime at a few times the rate of whites and with Hispanic incarceration rates 3.7 times the white rate the ability of Hispanics to escape justice by fleeing the United States reduces the deterrent value of the US criminal justice system. This leads to more crime and more victims.

Bob Baker, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League to which 9,000 LAPD cops belong, says Mexico entirely refuses to extradite its own citizens.

Having decided that no murderer should ever have to spend their life in prison, Mexico arrogantly refuses to return fugitive killers to the United States. It has consistently refused to extradite murderers if they faced the death penalty. A 2001 Mexican Supreme Court decision in essence halted all extraditions of Mexican citizens, or Americans of Mexican descent. That decision forbade Mexico to extradite anyone if he faced a sentence which carried the possibility of life imprisonment, saying it was "cruel and unusual punishment."

In short, the thoroughly corrupt Mexican judicial system has decided the U.S. cannot prosecute even U.S. citizens if they make it to Mexico. Since Oct. 2, 2001, Mexico has repeatedly refused to return suspects for prosecution. As of last year, the Justice Department had more than 800 open extradition cases for fugitives in Mexico. Those fugitives include cop killers. Armando Garcia, a Mexican national in California illegally, allegedly shot to death Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy David March during a traffic stop in 2002. He is known to be in Mexico.

The halt to extraditions is not absolutely complete. A rare few still get extradited. In June of 2005 Mexico extradited the first Mexican criminal extradited to Los Angeles County California in 4 years.

LOS ANGELES – District Attorney Steve Cooley announced today the return from Mexico of a fugitive suspected of trying to kill two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies last year following a routine traffic stop. It is the first extradition to Los Angeles County from Mexico since the October 2001 Mexican Supreme Court decision limiting extraditions.

The Mexican legal system is not compatible with the US legal system. We need a substantial barrier along the entire border with Mexico along with a much bigger Border Patrol force. Also, police should be authorized and encouraged to enforce immigration law and the US government should develop the capacity to accept and hold for deportation all illegals that local law enforcement officers take into custody.

Update: Also see my post "Heather Mac Donald On The Illegal Alien Crime Wave". Also, see a Steve Sailer post on just how cheaply illegal immigrants could be deported.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 08 10:30 AM  Immigration Crime
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2005 August 04 Thursday
Weak Citizenship Verification For Medicaid Applicants

One of the costs of large scale immigration (both legal and illegal) is the subsidies for medical care and other social services. Employers get cheap labor and the rest of us pick up the bill. In theory applicants for Medicaid are supposed to be American citizens. How well is this requirement enforced? Not well at all in turns out. A report from the Office of Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson of the Department of Health & Human Services has found that most states make little effort to prove citizenship of Medicaid benefits applicants. (PDF format)

Forty-seven States allow self-declaration of U.S. citizenship for Medicaid; nearly all of these require evidence if statements seem questionable. Pursuant to Federal policy, States may accept a signed declaration as proof of U.S. citizenship from applicants seeking Medicaid benefits. Currently, 40 Medicaid directors report that their State allows self-declaration of citizenship. An additional seven report that self-declaration is sometimes allowed. The four remaining directors report that self-declaration is not permitted in their State. These States are Montana, New Hampshire, New York, and Texas.

Forty-four of the forty-seven States that allow or sometimes allow self-declaration have “prudent person policies” which require evidence of citizenship if statements seem questionable to eligibility staff.

I bet in practice welfare office workers rarely ask for evidence of citizenship even when someone can barely speak English. The ethos of such agencies very frequently is to help the poor and down trodden.

Thirty-two of these have written prudent person policies, and the remaining 12 have unwritten, informal policies requiring documentation for questionable statements.

Twenty-seven States do not verify the accuracy of any U.S. citizenship statements as part of their posteligibility quality control activities.

In fiscal year 2003, 27 of the 47 States that allow self-declaration did not conduct quality control activities that included verification of statements of U.S. citizenship. Of the 20 States that did review statements, 9 did so for a nonrepresentative sample of the entire Medicaid population. Consequently, some groups that could pose vulnerability to Medicaid integrity were not included in the review sample.

Some States use types of evidence that are not accepted by CMS or SSA to document citizenship for Medicaid. As reported earlier, seven States sometimes allow and four States do not allow Medicaid applicants to self-declare citizenship. Of these 11 States, 4 use types of evidence to document citizenship that are not accepted by CMS or SSA. Furthermore, 13 of the 20 States that report conducting quality control to verify statements of U.S. citizenship use types of evidence that are not accepted by CMS or SSA, such as school records, family Bibles, voter registration records, and marriage licenses.

Social Security is tougher on eligibility than Medicaid.

Medicaid-related programs are more likely to verify citizenship; their verifications may be a useful resource for Medicaid. SSA states that all applicants must provide documentary evidence of U.S. citizenship in order to receive a Social Security number or qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Forty-two of fifty-one foster care directors report that staff document U.S. citizenship when determining eligibility for Title IV-E foster care maintenance payments. Twenty-seven of fifty-one TANF directors report documenting or sometimes documenting citizenship for purposes of eligibility.

In the majority of instances, we found that these Medicaid-related programs draw on evidence accepted by CMS or SSA to document statements of U.S. citizenship. These citizenship verifications may be a useful resource for Medicaid.

Oregon is the only state to have done an audit looking for non-citizen beneficiaries and they were able to establish that in their sample about 3% of the audited cases were non-citizens and therefore not eligible. Well, imagine what the rate of non-citizen usage must be in states like California which have much higher percentages of illegal aliens living in them.

Only one State reports conducting an audit looking at self-declaration of U.S. citizenship, and it found vulnerabilities

We asked States for any quality control audits or evaluations that looked at self-declaration of citizenship. Only one State director provided an audit on this topic. This audit report found vulnerabilities related to the process of self-declaration of U.S. citizenship.

Specifically, the audit, conducted in January 2002 by the Secretary of the State of Oregon, found that the State provided full Medicaid benefits to 25 beneficiaries (of the sample of 812) who were noneligible noncitizens. The audit report concludes that there are potential risks involved in allowing applicants to self-declare their U.S. citizenship on mail-in applications, which do not allow workers to verify the accuracy of statements of U.S. citizenship.

Well, no kidding. If someone doesn't even have to show up to apply then that person could make up all the fake documents they need and simply assert their citizenship. The claims processing offices are ill-equipped to do much in the way of verification.

My guess is that official estimates of the medical costs which immigrants impose on the US citizenry greatly underestimate the real costs because a big chunk of the money going to non-citizens is labelled as money going to citizens.

Tax money going to pay for medical care for illegals is just one way we pay more for their medical care. First off, illegals are now having about 10% of the babies being born in the United States. Those babies, as US citizens, are eligible for government funded medical care. So we pay that way too.

Illegal immigration is driving up the number of medically uninsured and also one in every twelve dollars spent on medical insurance premiums goes to the cost of paying for the medically uninsured. So illegal immigration and also legal immigration of low wage workers drives up the costs of medical insurance that natives pay. The illegal immigrants can not possibly pay for their own medical insurance because low wage workers can not afford to pay medical insurance premiums.

“The cost of family health insurance is rapidly approaching the gross earnings of a full-time minimum wage worker,” said Drew Altman, President and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation. “If these trends continue, workers and employers will find it increasingly difficult to pay for family health coverage and every year the share of Americans who have employer-sponsored health coverage will fall.”

Low wage jobs are effectively taxpayer subsidized jobs. When people advocate for large scale immigration of people with few talents effectively they are advocating for more taxpayer subsidized work.

Cheap immigrant laborers, by going to emergency rooms for medical care, by having children they can't afford to pay for, by reducing native employment, and also by driving down wages for lower income native workers, is creating a growing segment of society that lives off of government provided subsidized paid for by middle and higher income workers.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 04 09:40 PM  Immigration Economics
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2005 August 03 Wednesday
California San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Subsidies Tallied

Big pieces of California's agricultural industry runs on government subsidies.

OAKLAND, Calif., Aug. 3 — Some of America's richest agribusinesses are double dipping from U.S. taxpayers' pockets at a rate of hundreds of millions of dollars a year, according to an Environmental Working Group (EWG) computer investigation of federal crop and water subsidies to California's Central Valley Project (CVP).

At a time of record federal budget deficits and scarce, expensive water, thousands of Central Valley farms get cheap, taxpayer-subsidized water to grow surplus crops the government subsidizes a second time with price supports. EWG found that in 2002, the latest year for which figures are available for both types of subsidies, the approximately 6,800 farms in the CVP, the largest federally-operated irrigation system in the nation, took in by conservative estimate $538 million in crop and water subsidies combined.

EWG found:

  • More than one in four CVP farms got double subsidies for at least one year between 1995 and 2004. Crop subsidy checks to these farms in that period totaled more than $891 million. These farms received more than $152 million worth of water subsidies in 2002 alone, so their combined subsidy take over ten years could well top $2 billion.
  • Roughly one-third of the subsidized irrigation water the CVP delivered in 2002 went to grow crops eligible for subsidies from the Department of Agriculture. Cotton and rice growers were the biggest subsidy sweepstakes winners by far. These crops received one-fourth of the irrigation water and 92 percent of the crop subsidies in the system.
  • Some California dairy operations are not double dippers but triple dippers. They receive taxpayer-subsidized water to grow corn, for which they receive crop subsidies. They feed the corn to cattle to produce milk, cheese and other products eligible for federal dairy subsidies. These triple dippers received more than $3 million in combined subsidies in 2002.

Long term subsidized water contracts are locking in the subsidies for decades to come.

In 2002, the ten biggest double dippers in California reaped almost $20 million in water and crop subsidies combined. The five biggest — Dresick Farms of Huron, Burford Ranch of Fresno, Hansen Ranches of Corcoran, Sumner Peck Ranches of Madera, and Starrh & Starrh Cotton Growers of Shafter — each received more than $2 million in combined federal subsidies in 2002.

...

The Bureau of Reclamation is in the process of renewing long-term contracts for CVP irrigation districts that promise 43 percent more subsidized water by 2030, even though hundreds of thousands of acres are going out of crop production. Renewing the water contracts at bargain-basement prices, while ignoring the inherent conflict of growing subsidized crops with subsidized water, will lock in double dipping for another 25 to 50 years.

Meanwhile, the federal crop subsidy program grows more bloated each year, with new EWG figures showing $12.5 billion in price supports paid nationwide in 2004. The U.S. is under pressure to comply with a World Trade Organization ruling that U.S. cotton subsidies are illegal and harmful to Third World economies. Earlier this year, President Bush proposed reducing crop subsidies, then backed down after an outcry from the farm lobby.

One wonders how much money these big farmers give to Congressional campaigns. Do Congress reps sell themselves cheaply? Or are they high-priced courtesans?

Also, how many cheap illegal aliens do these farms employ? What is the subsidy cost for their medical care, education for their children, and other costs picked up by taxpayers?

I remember first learning that rice is grown in Calfornia. When one thinks of rice one thinks of historic Southeast Asian rice paddies where torrential rains provide the water needed. Growing rice in the desert in a state short on water can only be done with government intervention to pay for it.

It is good that environmental groups have joined economists and taxpayers in arguing against agricultural subsidies Now, if only environmental groups would return to their embrace of population control which so many of them embraced in the 1970s they could support efforts that will do far more to protect the environment than would be accomplished by cuts in agricultural subsidies. To make that shift the environmental groups would have to come out against immigration. But the liberal fools think posturing as unracist is more important than protecting the environment and quality of life in America.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 03 10:06 AM  Politics Money
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2005 August 01 Monday
Mexican Zeta Commandos Attacking US Border Patrol agents

Jerry Seper reports on the recruitment of Mexican anti-drug commandos by Mexican cocaine traffickers. (same article here)

A renegade band of Mexican military deserters, offering $50,000 bounties for the assassination of U.S. law-enforcement officers, has expanded its base of operations into the United States to protect loads of cocaine and marijuana being brought into America by Mexican smugglers, authorities said.

The deserters, known as the "Zetas," trained in the United States as an elite force of anti-drug commandos, but have since signed on as mercenaries for Mexican narcotics traffickers and have recruited an army of followers, many of whom are believed to be operating in Texas, Arizona, California and Florida.

In lawless Mexico military deserters can operate as outlaws for years. Some of these people deserted as far back as 1991. Yet they are still wandering around free.

In the last year the attack rate on US Border Patrol agents has doubled with shootings quintupling.

Since Oct. 1, the start of the fiscal year, there have been 196 assaults on Border Patrol agents in the Tucson sector, including 24 shootings. During the same period last year, 92 assaults were reported, with five shootings. The sector is the busiest alien- and drug-trafficking corridor in the country.

The US government should deploy the US military to stop the immigrant influx, stop the drug smuggling, and restore order to the US-Mexican border.

The Zetas and other armed groups associated with drug smugglers control Nuevo Laredo across the border from Laredo Texas. Battles between rival groups in Nuevo Laredo have caused the US to close its consulate there.

The United States is closing temporarily its consulate in this lawless Mexican border city after rival drugs gangs clashed with bazookas, hand grenades and heavy machine-gun fire.

"A violent battle involving unusually advanced weaponry took place between armed criminal factions last night in Nuevo Laredo," U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza said on Friday.

Progress is not inevitable. Nuevo Laredo is the Wild West but in the 21st century.

At least 72 people, including 13 police officers, have been killed in the city this year in the battle between powerful gangs from western Sinaloa state and the local Gulf cartel.

If the United States was to build a barrier on the full length of the US border with Mexico and make drug and people smuggling extremely difficult then the drug smugglers would derive far less value from controlling Nuevo Laredo. Therefore less money would flow to the gangs and the place would become relatively more civilized.

By Randall Parker 2005 August 01 11:08 AM  Immigration Law Enforcement
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