2007 January 31 Wednesday
Students With Higher Scores Behave Better

Asians who do best in American schools are not prone to bad behavior.

The popular stereotype of Asian Pacific Island (API) teenagers that portrays them as high achievers who are also prone to bad behavior, is false, new research at the University of Chicago shows.

The examination of a major survey of more than 13,000 teenagers showed that a student’s grade point average is a strong predictor of behavior for Asian-American youth as well as for other youth. The study is the first to examine the relationship between behavior and grade point averages across ethnic groups, although there have been other studies that have shown in general that students with good grades also are more likely to stay out of trouble.

Of course GPA correlates with IQ. Higher IQ kids and adults behave better and commit fewer crimes. Partly this is due to the ability of the intellect to suppress impulses. Partly it is due to the ability of the intellect to simulate and understand the effects that one's behavior has on others. But also it comes from a greater ability to project and see how one's actions can harm one's own prospects.

In all ethnic groups studied the smarter kids were better behaved on average than the dumber ones.

Among Hispanics, African-American and white young people as well as API youth, students with high grade point averages report many fewer problems with crime, pregnancy and alcohol abuse, according to the paper “Academic Achievement and Problem Behaviors among Asian Pacific Islander American Adolescents” published in the current issue of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

In some cases, grade point average (GPA) was a particularly strong predictor of behavior for Asian American students. For instance, 22 percent of API girls with a “D” average GPA reported having been pregnant, while five percent of white youth whose GPA was “D” average reported having been pregnant, Choi found. Among API youth with an “A” grade point average, two percent reported having been pregnant while four percent of the white girls with that grade point average reported having been pregnant.

At first glance these results suggest that Asian behavior varies more as a function of level of intelligence. Do dumber Asians behave worse than dumber whites while smarter Asians behave better than smarter whites? Or does this result come from a pooling of results of disparate Asian groups into a single category that hides a lot of differences between, say, Vietnamese, Filipinos, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and so on?

Do Vietnamese especially have a larger standard of deviation in behavior?

The stereotype of API young people which characterizes them as being simultaneously high achieving and prone to delinquent behavior comes from academic studies that look at group behavior rather than individual behavior, Choi said. Asian-American young people are the highest academically achieving ethnic group in the country. At the same time, some API young people exhibit criminal behavior.

“For example, Vietnamese youth earned the highest grades among student samples in a San Diego study published in 1997. At the same time, they were the fourth-largest group on probation, following Hispanic, white, and black youth in California and their probation rates increased 67 percent between 1990 and 1995, according to another study” she said.

Or do these results come from lumping together ethnic Vietnamese with ethnic Chinese who also came from Vietnam to the United States?

See here or here for a table showing how white males do at different levels of IQ. 7% of white males below 90 IQ have been incarcerated for example. Above 125 IQ the percentage ever incarcerated drops below 1%. I'd like to see an equivalent table for a large variety of racial and ethnic groups.

By Randall Parker 2007 January 31 09:12 PM  Ethnic Differences
Entry Permalink | Comments(8)
2007 January 30 Tuesday
Grim Demographics Of Texas And California

The demographic trends in California and Texas are bad. The demographics of Texas are going Third World.

If current trends continue, Texas' work force will be less educated and less skilled. State services, already burdened, may be strained to a point never experienced before. The numbers provided by Murdock support the dire warnings:

Hispanics may represent 53 percent of the population by 2030, compared to 30.3 percent for Anglos and 9.2 percent for blacks.

More than half of Hispanics 25 and older had failed to finish high school in 2000; fewer than 20 percent had completed some college, and only about 10 percent had a college degree.

Hispanics could occupy 38 percent to 52 percent of the Texas work force by 2030.

By 2030, 16 percent to 20 percent of the population will be 65 or older, an increase of about 10 percent over 2000. Most will be Anglos. Of Texans older than 65 in 2000, 72.6 percent were Anglo, 16.7 percent Hispanic.

How will the high skilled, high productivity, wealth generating jobs get done? Answer: Fewer such jobs will get done. It is as simple as that.

Should we face reality and admit that racial differences in intelligence make the long running differences in school performance fated to continue? Texas State Senator Peter Gallego embraces the incredibly foolish liberal myth that education can make dumb people smart.

Sen. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, said education is perhaps the most important issue facing the state.

"This is really a wake-up call," he said. "The conclusion is that by the year 2025, if we keep doing what we're doing now, Texas will have the economy of a Third Word country. I have a son who will be 21 in 2025, and that's just not the kind of Texas I want to turn over to him."

Gallego gets it half right. Yes, the Third World is coming to the First World. But education is an incredibly ineffectual way to deal with the demographic change that Texas is getting hit by. Texas is headed downward. Halting the current wave of low IQ immigrants would reduce the rate of descent. Anything short of that is just another demonstration of the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of our elites.

Also see my posts Texas Has Lowest High School Graduation Rates and Texas Standard School Test Results Are Warning On Immigration.

Steve Sailer takes a look at the teenage students and drop-outs of the 10 million population heavily Hispanic Los Angeles County and sees a grim future: What LA Schools Portend: A New, Unequal, People

If we assume that few of the dropouts would have broken 1000, then, as a rule of thumb, we can divide by two. Thus, only about seven or eight percent of the students who start 9th grade in the LAUSD will break 1000.

For all Los Angeles County public high school freshmen, only about ten percent will exceed 1000 by the time they leave high school.

Keep in mind that the SAT has been recentered and students who would have scored 890 before 1995 would score 1000 today. Also, 1000 is the 46th percentile and the mean among test takers is 1021. So when Steve says that only 10% of all LA County 18 year olds would score 1000 or higher if they took the SAT then he's not setting a high bar - at least not a high bar if we are looking at students as prospective workers in high tech industries which require high levels of skill and intellectual ability.

It's time for our elites to face up to the fact: millions of young people just aren't all that bright by the standards of the upper middle class. Passing laws based on the assumption that we live in Lake Wobegon where all the children are above average just makes life worse for kids on the left half of the bell curve.

The most important point to grasp in all this is that we can't take the success of Western societies for granted. Yes, we really can ruin them. Yes, our elites are terribly bad for the lies they tell and the damage they do with the policies they maintain for immigration and domestic social policy. America is dumbing down. So are some other Western nations.

Don't like who the American people chose for President? They'll make even worse choices in the future. Don't like the scores of students in your local school? More likely than not average scores in future students at those schools will decline. Don't like the simple-minded talk shows on TV or the radio? They'll become even simpler in the future. Don't like inefficient government workers or bank clerks or store clerks? They'll get dumber in the coming years. America will come to resemble more closely most of the rest of the world.

We are getting very close to DNA testing methods so cheap lots of genetic variations for intelligence will be found.

Also see Hispanic And Black High School Graduation Rates Very Low and America Becoming Dumb And Dumber.

By Randall Parker 2007 January 30 10:12 PM  Immigration Dumbing Down
Entry Permalink | Comments(9)
2007 January 28 Sunday
Sabrina Tavernise On Her Years In Iraq

New York Times reporter Sabrina Tavernise, whose reports from Iraq I have very much liked, is leaving after spending about half her time there since the invasion. Tavernise says she's lost touch with many people who have left Iraq or died.

A PAINFUL measure of just how much Iraq has changed in the four years since I started coming here is contained in my cellphone. Many numbers in the address book are for Iraqis who have either fled the country or been killed. One of the first Sunni politicians: gunned down. A Shiite baker: missing. A Sunni family: moved to Syria.

I first came to Iraq in April 2003, at the end of the looting several weeks after the American invasion. In all, I have spent 22 months here, time enough for the place, its people and their ever-evolving tragedy to fix itself firmly in my heart.

The middle class moderates have left and the extremists remain.

The moderates are mostly gone. My phone includes at least a dozen entries for middle-class families who have given up and moved away. They were supposed to build democracy here. Instead they work odd jobs in Syria and Jordan. Even the moderate political leaders have left. I have three numbers for Adnan Pachachi, the distinguished Iraqi statesman; none have Iraqi country codes.

She says a year ago Iraqis would get angry if you asked them which sect they belong to. But now they often introduce themselves with their sect identification. She relates anecdotes of Shias who are consumed with hatred of Sunnis.

She still finds potential for optimism.

For those eager to write off Iraq as lost, one fact bears remembering. A great many Shiites and Kurds, who together make up 80 percent of the population, will tell you that in spite of all the mistakes the Americans have made here, the single act of removing Saddam Hussein was worth it. And the new American plan, despite all the obstacles, may have a chance to work. With an Iraqi colleague, I have been studying a neighborhood in northern Baghdad that has become a dumping ground for bodies. There, after American troops conducted sweeps, the number of corpses dropped by a third in September. The new plan is built around that kind of tactic.

I think this is too little too late. Too many have been killed and the killings have left bitterness, mistrust, and hatred in their wake. The ethnic cleansing has emptied whole neighborhoods. I also think this US troop surge attempt goes up against a backdrop of even pre-war conditions that overwhelm attempts to maintain order. But the Shia Iraqi government officials are not on-board with the US strategy anyway.

But the odds are stacked against the corps of bright young officers charged with making the plan work, particularly because their Iraqi partner — the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki — seems to be on an entirely different page. When American officials were debating whether to send more troops in December, I went to see an Iraqi government official. The prospect of more troops infuriated him. More Americans would simply prolong the war, he said.

“If you don’t allow the minority to lose, you will carry on forever,” he said.

I happen to agree with the Iraqi Shiites who think this way. As long as the Sunnis have any doubt whether the Shia government will last the Sunnis will keep on fighting. Tavernise sees this attitude as a product of their abuse by Saddam. But I think that's a misunderstanding.

The remarks struck me as a powerful insight into the Shiites’ thinking. Abused under Mr. Hussein, they still act like an oppressed class. That means Iraqis are looking into a future of war, at least in the near term. As one young Shiite in Sadr City said to me: “This just has to burn itself out.”

I was just watching a C-SPAN rebroadcast of a speech by historian Niall Ferguson about his recent book War of the World which attempts to explain why the really big killings of humans occurred in the 20th century. He's come up with what he calls his "E" rules: Ethnic disintegration, Economic volatility, and Empire collapse. Think about central and eastern Europe where the Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires collapsed. The collapses left ethnic groups living under the rule of other ethnic groups in many new countries. The Great Depression added to the economic volatility. Massive killings and population shifts ensued and not just by the Nazis.

Well, Ferguson says that the Middle East has 5 times the economic volatility of the United States. Within the Middle East Iraq has been hit far harder by economic problems due to the Iran-Iraq war, the invasion of Kuwait, followed by a crushing military defeat that included massive damage to economic infrastructure. Then the sanctions and declining oil production added to the woes and the Iraqis suffered a big decline in living standards. Now the civil war keeps the economy in bad shape and cycles of revenge between groups that do not trust each other have brought Iraq to a point that makes it extremely difficult to fix. I think the best solution is to help the Shias and Sunnis move away from each other.

The Times also has an excellent 6 minute MP3 of Sabrina Tavernise relating observations about her experiences in Iraq. Worth a listen.

By Randall Parker 2007 January 28 11:05 PM  Mideast Iraq Ethnic Conflict
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Virginia AG Wants To Catch Criminal Illegals

The Attorney General of the state of Virginia wants the Governor of Virginia to give law enforcement personnel the authority to catch illegal alien violent criminals.

RICHMOND, Jan. 17 -- Virginia Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R) called Wednesday for legislation and an executive order to allow state and local police to enforce federal immigration laws in an effort to crack down on violent criminals who are in the country illegally.

Flanked by lawmakers from Manassas, Prince William County and Herndon -- three Northern Virginia communities with large Latino populations and plenty of public pressure to get tougher on undocumented residents -- McDonnell said law enforcement must be given more tools to stop such criminals.

`McDonnell says state and local officers currently lack the legal ability to detain people on immigration charges. He also wants this authority in order to go after illegal immigrants who have committed crimes, been deported, and then returned. He says that 80,000 such people are in the United States currently.

But the Governor, a Democrat, does not want the police to gain that power. He would apparently rather let violent criminals prey on the people of his state.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), however, reiterated that he does not intend to sign an executive order of the sort McDonnell endorsed. He said immigration enforcement is a federal duty, not a state one.

"What we want to do is demand of our federal delegation and legislators that they provide appropriate funding for anti-immigration activity, and not take the pressure off by having the Virginia taxpayers pay the bill," Kaine said.

Kaine is wrong on a few counts. First of all, Virginia taxpayers are going to pay the bill either way. It is just a question of which government agency at what level takes their money and uses it for that purpose. Second, local enforcement is the most cost effective and most practical way to go. Local police are in every town. Federal immigration agents are rare compared to local police. Also, local police run into illegals in the course of their normal work investigating crimes and doing patrols. Why waste those many fortuitous encounters and all the knowledge they gain when questioning people?

Kaine is most fundamentally wrong when he finds excuses to prevent police from catching violent criminals. The primary purpose of government is to protect our rights. He would rather pander to ethnic interests than to protect the rights and safety of citizens. He demonstrates yet another reason why immigration of non-majority ethnic groups and races causes problems for the white majority.

By Randall Parker 2007 January 28 05:22 PM  Immigration Law Enforcement
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
2007 January 26 Friday
Bush Wants Bigger No Child Left Behind Effort

George W. Bush wants to expand the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation which is coing up for renewal this year. NCLB is based upon the biggest and most popular lie of our era: the idea that everyone is capable of learning and performing intellectually difficult tasks. Bush is proposing a number of new policies to scale up the pursuit of NCLB's unachievable goals - just like his Iraq policy.

  • Holding schools accountable for achievement on science tests, beginning in 2008-09 at three grade levels, with all students to be proficient by 2019-20.
  • Expanding on the use of growth models, which look at how much a student grows in a school year, not just the final score, to judge schools.
  • Providing vouchers -- worth an average of $4,000 per student -- to enable students in chronically low-performing schools to transfer to private or other public schools. The money would include both federal Title I money and newly created Promise Scholarships of $2,500 per student.
  • Setting up "Opportunity Scholarships" within set geographical areas to help students attend private schools through a local scholarship program.

The expansion of the NCLB requirements into still more areas won't make the whole undertaking finally start to work. The Bushies have been trying solipsism for 6 years now and it has been a dismal failure. How about a more empirical approach to policy based on what we know about human nature rather than pretty lies?

Bush lives a very active fantasy life.

President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law in 2002. It requires schools to test students in reading and math annually in grades three to eight, and establishes progressively more severe penalties for schools that fail to make adequate progress, including shutting the schools altogether.

Administration officials said there were currently about 1,800 of these schools across the country, where students have failed to meet state targets for reading and math for more than five years. But they said that loopholes in the current law allowed them to avoid serious action indefinitely.

“We all have to answer the question what are we going to do about that,” Ms. Spellings said in a telephone news conference. “This is the president’s answer to, Is the promise of No Child Left Behind real?”

We can bring liberal democracy to Iraq. We can also make all kids above average like in Lake Woebegone.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings seems to think several delusional ideas add up to a sensible idea.

"I see this as a very vigorous package of proposals that are sound and make sense if taken together," said U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. "This is the president's answer to the question, `Is the promise of No Child Left Behind real?' If this proposal is not what Congress had in mind, then we all have to ask them what they have in mind."

Schools should be measured by starting with the IQs of their students and then ask whether each kid is developing to that kid's intellectual potential. Do not deceitfully grade a school as failing when it has kids with an average 90 IQ and the kids are learning about as much we can expect 90 IQ kids to lean. NCLB school grades are based on a lie. Our elites should stop telling so many big lies.

By Randall Parker 2007 January 26 11:03 PM  Education
Entry Permalink | Comments(5)
Higher Salaries Pull Skilled Workers Into California Prisons

A single day reading the Los Angeles Times is enough to see the problems caused by the changing immigrant-driven demographics of California. Due to a court ordered increase in pay psychiatrists are flocking to the California penal system.

ATASCADERO — Court orders mandating drastic pay increases for health personnel in California prisons have led to an exodus of workers from state mental hospitals and left the facilities struggling to provide adequate patient care.

Staff shortages at Atascadero State Hospital, where psychiatrist vacancies stand at 70%, have caused the facility to all but freeze new admissions.

All the state's mental hospitals, which like the prisons are also under federal scrutiny, report staff departures for prison jobs that now pay about 40% more. And they fear that many more staffers will leave.

Your government at work, wreaking havoc.

The pull to the prison system is strong. A psychiatrist at Atascadero can make between $13,000 and $14,000 a month, but those in the prison system can make between $19,000 and $21,000 a month.

Psychiatrists used to peak at $160k per year in California prisons. But with the court order they can peak at $248k per year in 2007 and at mental hospitals they peak at $143,460 per year. The state mental hospital salaries haven't gone up enough to keep psychiatric staff. Vacancies were 17% in 1990, 34% in 2000, and now 70% as of January 1 2007 and rising. My guess is salaries didn't keep up as money was funneled into schools in a futile attempt to pull up very low Hispanic test scores.

High salaries for prison workers, police, prosecutors, investigators, crime lab scientists, and others in the criminal justice system pull smart people away from lines of work that create wealth. Lower IQ people commit crimes at higher rates than high IQ people. As I've argued previously, low IQ immigrants pull smarter people away from more productive work. Court ordered salary increases for prison workers accelerate that process.

California needs to spend billions to expand its prison system.

SACRAMENTO — Three decades of tough-on-crime lawmaking has sent California's prison system into a "tailspin," creating the most pressing crisis facing the state, the government's own watchdog panel declared Thursday.

In a blistering 84-page report, the nonpartisan Little Hoover Commission linked the problems plaguing the correctional system to political cowardice among governors and lawmakers fearful of being labeled soft on crime.

Immigration is driving California's population increase and the low IQ and low skilled immigrants commit crime at higher rates than the whites they are displacing. So the growing demand for prison staff, court workers, prosecuting attorneys, court-appointed defense attorneys, investigators, and other skilled workers is pulling higher IQ workers away from more productive occupations. Plus, the costs are a growing burden on higher productivity and higher income taxpayers.

The state's 33 prisons are packed to twice their intended capacity, with more than 16,000 inmates bunking in hallways, classrooms and other areas not designed as housing. Prison leaders say they will be out of room for new inmates by summer, and concern about riots is extremely high.

A federal judge, meanwhile, has given the state until June to relieve the crowding or face a possible cap on the inmate population, now about 172,000.

Though Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has unveiled an ambitious $10.9-billion prison building and reform plan, its fate in the Legislature is uncertain, and most of the proposed solutions would take years to enact.

We have a choice. Spend more and pull smarter people away from wealth creation. Or spend less and get murdered, raped, robbed, and defrauded more often by criminals. Why not adopt a tough and enforced immigration policy that stops and reverses the influx of low IQ people? Why inflict these burdens on ourselves?

By Randall Parker 2007 January 26 09:18 PM  Immigration Economics
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
2007 January 23 Tuesday
Bush Administration Sends Border Patrolmen To Jail

The Bush Administration's idea of immigration law enforcement:

Forthwith, the details of the case: A Mexican drug smuggler with 743 pounds of marijuana in a van confronted and assaulted a border Patrol agent in February 2005. The agents shot the suspect in the buttocks as he fled across the Rio Grande. The Homeland Security Department ordered an investigation and, after locating the suspect, presented him with an offer of immunity. Yes, immunity. In exchange, all the suspect, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, had to do was testify against the two agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean. The agents, 10- and five-year veterans, respectively, of the Border Patrol, were sentenced in October to a combined 23 years in prison. The drug smuggler was not charged.

Think about the prosecutors and investigators who were used in this prosecution. They could have been, say, tracking down known felon illegals to deport them. Doing that would protect us. Doing this above makes us less safe. But the Bush Administration doesn't want tough border control.

By Randall Parker 2007 January 23 11:32 PM  Immigration Politics
Entry Permalink | Comments(7)
2007 January 21 Sunday
Charles Murray On Education And Intelligence

Charles Murray has written a 3 part series for the Wall Street Journal on education and intelligence differences. In the first article Murray argues that we can't think rationally about education policy and proposals to improve education without considering differences in levels of intelligence.

Education is becoming the preferred method for diagnosing and attacking a wide range problems in American life. The No Child Left Behind Act is one prominent example. Another is the recent volley of articles that blame rising income inequality on the increasing economic premium for advanced education. Crime, drugs, extramarital births, unemployment--you name the problem, and I will show you a stack of claims that education is to blame, or at least implicated.

One word is missing from these discussions: intelligence. Hardly anyone will admit it, but education's role in causing or solving any problem cannot be evaluated without considering the underlying intellectual ability of the people being educated. Today and over the next two days, I will put the case for three simple truths about the mediating role of intelligence that should bear on the way we think about education and the nation's future.

Today's simple truth: Half of all children are below average in intelligence. We do not live in Lake Wobegon.

Murray argues that we can't hope to raise school test scores all that much because kids can't perform beyond their intellectual capacity. But one of the modern American myths is that each individual can achieve anything given sufficient will power and a good enough environment. That myth, which appeals to people on the political Left and Right for different reasons, is behind a many bad policies in education, welfare, workplace laws, and other areas of public policy.

Murray also notes that no researchers have ever tried to figure out what level of IQ is needed to achieve a passing score on the US government's National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests. With that information children who are scoring below their potential could be identified. Give kids an IQ test. Then give them a NAEP test. Kids that are scoring lower on NAEP than their IQ test results suggest they are capable of would be candidates for greater attention to change how and where they are taught.

Murray says there's no Golden Age of education we can return to.

The second problem with the argument that education can be vastly improved is the false assumption that educators already know how to educate everyone and that they just need to try harder--the assumption that prompted No Child Left Behind. We have never known how to educate everyone. The widely held image of a golden age of American education when teachers brooked no nonsense and all the children learned their three Rs is a myth. If we confine the discussion to children in the lower half of the intelligence distribution (education of the gifted is another story), the overall trend of the 20th century was one of slow, hard-won improvement. A detailed review of this evidence, never challenged with data, was also part of "The Bell Curve."

I call No Child Left Behind (NCLB) by a more accurate phrase: No Lie Left Behind. The law is based on false assumptions about human nature that commissars on the Left enforce by attacking and marginalizing anyone who violates their taboos about human nature. NCLB's goals are unachievable and policies formulated to achieve those goals waste resources and do wrong by children.

In his second article of the series Murray argues that too many people go to college since the percentage of those smart enough to master college material is far smaller than the percentage who go to college.

The topic yesterday was education and children in the lower half of the intelligence distribution. Today I turn to the upper half, people with IQs of 100 or higher. Today's simple truth is that far too many of them are going to four-year colleges.

Begin with those barely into the top half, those with average intelligence. To have an IQ of 100 means that a tough high-school course pushes you about as far as your academic talents will take you. If you are average in math ability, you may struggle with algebra and probably fail a calculus course. If you are average in verbal skills, you often misinterpret complex text and make errors in logic.

These are not devastating shortcomings. You are smart enough to engage in any of hundreds of occupations. You can acquire more knowledge if it is presented in a format commensurate with your intellectual skills. But a genuine college education in the arts and sciences begins where your skills leave off.

Those who lack the intellectual horsepower needed to handle college level courses are being ill-served by those who direct them toward college.

Murray thinks only 15% should go to college or at most 25%. Yet far more go and colleges exist with low standards to keep less intelligent students enrolled. In spite of the low standards many drop out anyway. Others get meaningless degrees in easy subjects.

In engineering and most of the natural sciences, the demarcation between high-school material and college-level material is brutally obvious. If you cannot handle the math, you cannot pass the courses. In the humanities and social sciences, the demarcation is fuzzier. It is possible for someone with an IQ of 100 to sit in the lectures of Economics 1, read the textbook, and write answers in an examination book. But students who cannot follow complex arguments accurately are not really learning economics. They are taking away a mishmash of half-understood information and outright misunderstandings that probably leave them under the illusion that they know something they do not. (A depressing research literature documents one's inability to recognize one's own incompetence.) Traditionally and properly understood, a four-year college education teaches advanced analytic skills and information at a level that exceeds the intellectual capacity of most people.

There is no magic point at which a genuine college-level education becomes an option, but anything below an IQ of 110 is problematic. If you want to do well, you should have an IQ of 115 or higher. Put another way, it makes sense for only about 15% of the population, 25% if one stretches it, to get a college education. And yet more than 45% of recent high school graduates enroll in four-year colleges. Adjust that percentage to account for high-school dropouts, and more than 40% of all persons in their late teens are trying to go to a four-year college--enough people to absorb everyone down through an IQ of 104.

Since races with lower average IQs (whites average 100) are among those trying to get into colleges and since many colleges give racial preferences to lower IQ races the result is that many with IQs even below 100 enroll in college. This wastes their time and a lot of money, both theirs and money from taxpayers. Also, the people who spend time trying to teach them would make better contributions to the economy and to society in other lines of work.

Murray argues the lower IQ kids who head to college would be far better served by vocational training to teach specific job skills. But lots of people head to college because a college degree is used by employers as a proxy for higher intelligence.

Government policy contributes to the problem by making college scholarships and loans too easy to get, but its role is ancillary. The demand for college is market-driven, because a college degree does, in fact, open up access to jobs that are closed to people without one. The fault lies in the false premium that our culture has put on a college degree.

For a few occupations, a college degree still certifies a qualification. For example, employers appropriately treat a bachelor's degree in engineering as a requirement for hiring engineers. But a bachelor's degree in a field such as sociology, psychology, economics, history or literature certifies nothing. It is a screening device for employers. The college you got into says a lot about your ability, and that you stuck it out for four years says something about your perseverance. But the degree itself does not qualify the graduate for anything. There are better, faster and more efficient ways for young people to acquire credentials to provide to employers.

We could eliminate the need for college degrees as (only roughly accurate) measures of intelligence if employers were allowed to directly test for IQ.

Murray observes the 2 year junior colleges adapting themselves to their real markets and offering vocational training. He also sees a trend in technology toward electronic delivery of courses coupled with a big decline in the demand for brick-and-mortar colleges and universities. I agree and want to see this trend accelerate.

Advances in technology are making the brick-and-mortar facility increasingly irrelevant. Research resources on the Internet will soon make the college library unnecessary. Lecture courses taught by first-rate professors are already available on CDs and DVDs for many subjects, and online methods to make courses interactive between professors and students are evolving. Advances in computer simulation are expanding the technical skills that can be taught without having to gather students together in a laboratory or shop. These and other developments are all still near the bottom of steep growth curves. The cost of effective training will fall for everyone who is willing to give up the trappings of a campus. As the cost of college continues to rise, the choice to give up those trappings will become easier.

College costs far too much and takes too much time. It is impractical. You have to show up at lectures for a course on 2 or 3 times a week at fixed times. Got something else to do? Too bad. Find the times of all your needed courses so spread out that you have no day to work all day at a job? The colleges are not set and organized for your convenience. Want to watch all the lectures in a couple of days when you have the time? Sorry, they aren't recorded. You've got to spend months to watch a semester's worth of lectures for a course even though all all the lectures for a single course only add up to 15 or 20 hours.

In his final essay of the series, Aztecs vs. Greeks, Murray argues for the resurrection of the classical education based upon Greek thinkers.

In professions screened for IQ by educational requirements--medicine, engineering, law, the sciences and academia--the great majority of people must, by the nature of the selection process, have IQs over 120. Evidence about who enters occupations where the screening is not directly linked to IQ indicates that people with IQs of 120 or higher also occupy large proportions of positions in the upper reaches of corporate America and the senior ranks of government. People in the top 10% of intelligence produce most of the books and newspaper articles we read and the television programs and movies we watch. They are the people in the laboratories and at workstations who invent our new pharmaceuticals, computer chips, software and every other form of advanced technology.

Combine these groups, and the top 10% of the intelligence distribution has a huge influence on whether our economy is vital or stagnant, our culture healthy or sick, our institutions secure or endangered. Of the simple truths about intelligence and its relationship to education, this is the most important and least acknowledged: Our future depends crucially on how we educate the next generation of people gifted with unusually high intelligence.

Our future depends far more on how many people in the next generation have IQs at 120 or higher. Currently immigration policy is decreasing the proportion that are above 120. That draws higher IQ people away from creative design work to serve lower IQ people. Also, smarter people are having fewer kids and having kids later than dumber people.

Murray says little educational spending is targetted at the smart people who can do the most with it.

How assiduously does our federal government work to see that this precious raw material is properly developed? In 2006, the Department of Education spent about $84 billion. The only program to improve the education of the gifted got $9.6 million, one-hundredth of 1% of expenditures. In the 2007 budget, President Bush zeroed it out.

Murray points out that smarter people are better able to compensate for deficiencies in educational systems and in other factors in the environment. True enough. But still, smart people waste a lot of time getting educations that could be gotten faster and with more customization for their wants and needs.

Murray sees a bigger problem in the education of smart people in terms of citizenship training.

The problem with the education of the gifted involves not their professional training, but their training as citizens.

We live in an age when it is unfashionable to talk about the special responsibility of being gifted, because to do so acknowledges inequality of ability, which is elitist, and inequality of responsibilities, which is also elitist. And so children who know they are smarter than the other kids tend, in a most human reaction, to think of themselves as superior to them. Because giftedness is not to be talked about, no one tells high-IQ children explicitly, forcefully and repeatedly that their intellectual talent is a gift. That they are not superior human beings, but lucky ones. That the gift brings with it obligations to be worthy of it. That among those obligations, the most important and most difficult is to aim not just at academic accomplishment, but at wisdom.

I have to disagree with Murray here. In one sense smarter people are superior. They can understand more. They can see patterns and chains of cause and effect that are completely incomprehensible to the majority.

I think the bigger problem with smart people in terms of citizenship obligations is that they are not incentized properly to make better contributions to making the society as a whole function well. One reason for this is that in a democracy there's little incentive for a person to become informed enough to vote wisely. A smart person will gain far more by working at their career.

But another factor that reduces the contributions of smart people is the grant of voting power to the masses. People who simply can't understand issues vote for who will lead us. We get leaders who are not held properly accountable because many people can't recognize which decisions by leaders are mistakes or which statements by leaders are deceptions. This further reduces the return on investment for smart people who study issues and closely scrutinize candidates. Their votes will get cancelled out by votes of dummies for candidates who cater to their demands.

But Murray makes a very reasonable point: We are going to be governed by a cognitive elite. So educate that elite to know how to govern wisely.

The gifted should not be taught to be nonjudgmental; they need to learn how to make accurate judgments. They should not be taught to be equally respectful of Aztecs and Greeks; they should focus on the best that has come before them, which will mean a light dose of Aztecs and a heavy one of Greeks. The primary purpose of their education should not be to let the little darlings express themselves, but to give them the tools and the intellectual discipline for expressing themselves as adults.

In short, I am calling for a revival of the classical definition of a liberal education, serving its classic purpose: to prepare an elite to do its duty. If that sounds too much like Plato's Guardians, consider this distinction. As William F. Buckley rightly instructs us, it is better to be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the faculty of Harvard University. But we have that option only in the choice of our elected officials. In all other respects, the government, economy and culture are run by a cognitive elite that we do not choose. That is the reality, and we are powerless to change it. All we can do is try to educate the elite to be conscious of, and prepared to meet, its obligations. For years, we have not even thought about the nature of that task. It is time we did.

I question whether at this point an education for wise governance should be centered around the Greeks. We are finally developing a biologically informed understanding of human nature. We can understand humanity better by the biological thinkers (e.g. Pierre L. van den Berghe, Frank Miele, William D. Hamilton) and by reading the findings of the neuroscientists than by reading the Greeks. The Greeks still hold some value. But the classical thinkers built their theories on too limited a base of scientific knowledge.

But upon re-reading I think Murray is calling more for an education that achieves the goal of preparing citizens by training them in analytical thinking than a revival of the classical curriculum.

The bigger problem today in academia is that the teaching of the Greeks has been displaced by assorted fads in humanities nonsense rather than scientific knowledge of the human condition. The knowledge now available from empirical fields such as psychometrics (which is taboo), genetics, neurobiology, and genetic anthropology can teach humans more about humanity than the ancient Greek thinkers can. But the blank slaters have turned their backs on anything that stands in the way of their believing in the supremacy of environment.

Update: Murray's argument that we can lift up the lower IQ by giving them vocational training in high paying trades seems bogus to me. First of all, even if more people could be trained in skilled manual labor trades the effect would be to drive down wages in those trades. So what are these wages? He speaks of people earning six figure salaries. I figure if they exist they are rare. Master plumbers with high skills and lots of experience average $22 per hour and most plumbers make less. Some plumbers with 20 or more years experience make $25 per hour. That's where they top out. Eventually their bodies age and it becomes difficult for them to keep doing that sort of work. A similar pattern is seen for electricians. Chicago and other high union cities have higher wages for these occupations. But that just demonstrates that it takes the presence of a union to turn these occupations into higher wage jobs. There's no big unmet need for skilled manual laborers.

Bricklayers peak at $26 per hour at 10 to 19 years of experience. That's hard work and 50 year olds can't do it as fast as 35 year olds. Roofers peak at $20 per hour. These are peaks. At younger ages they make less. Eventually they become too old to work at hard manual labor. Carpenters make less than plumbers and electricians and in unionized Chicago and Boston carpenters earn $25 per hour. In other areas they earn considerably less. Again, where are these six figures craftsmen? They may exist. But only for specialty work that does not exist in large quantities.

The demand for lower IQ manual laborers is going to continue to decline. Robots will do more work. Components will last longer. Maintenance will become more automated and diagnosis of equipment failures done remotely. Greater use of prefabrication in factories will continue to reduce the need for work site skilled labor. Wealth increasingly comes from smarter minds. Relative proportions of lower and higher intelligence minds largely determine how much wealth each country has.

By Randall Parker 2007 January 21 07:43 PM  Education
Entry Permalink | Comments(19)
Bush Wants Tax Deduction On Personally Bought Medical Insurance

George W. Bush wants to give those who buy their own medical insurance the same sort of tax avoidance that employees get on employer provided medical insurance.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 — President Bush intends to use his State of the Union address Tuesday to tackle the rising cost of health care with a one-two punch: tax breaks to help low-income people buy health insurance and tax increases for some workers whose health plans cost significantly more than the national average.

While tax deductibility would be lowered for employees who get medical benefits from their employers it would come into existence for those who pay for their own medical insurance.

The basic concept is that employer-provided health insurance, now treated as a fringe benefit exempt from taxation, would no longer be entirely tax-free. Workers could be taxed if their coverage exceeded limits set by the government. But the government would also offer a new tax deduction for people buying health insurance on their own.

I see political problems with this proposal. On the one hand, I've worked for multi-year stretches paying my own medical insurance using after tax dollars while people in jobs with medical benefits got their medical insurance paid in pre-tax dollars. So the status quo on tax deductibility of medical insurance has always struck me as an unfairness in the labor market that works to the advantage of established companies and against individual entrepreneurs and contract workers.

Yet cutting back on the tax deductibility of existing employee medical benefits is likely to be unpopular among smarter and better paid workers who work in companies that provide better health plans. Also, on average it'll effectively be a tax on relatively higher income workers to pay for benefits for lower income workers. Since higher income workers already pay more in taxes and at higher tax rates they aren't likely to see this as fair.

But the tax deductions under the soon-to-be-proposed plan are so high that most people currently covered by medical insurance through their employer will not pay higher taxes as a result.

President Bush will propose a tax deduction of $7,500 for individuals and $15,000 for families regardless of whether they buy their own health insurance or receive medical coverage at work.

....

Because of this, about 80 percent of people with employer-based plans will actually see their tax liability fall because their insurance policies cost less than the deduction, he said.

But those who have very high monthly premiums (say $1000 per month - and this does occur) are at higher risk due to a pre-existing condition would pay more taxes under this scheme.

Of course the medical expenses of the lower income workers are already being borne by higher income workers . Currently higher income workers pay taxes to fund Medicaid and other programs that pay the medical expenses of less skilled, less intelligent, and lower income workers. Also, hospitals and other medical providers raise rates on services charged to insured patients in order to get the money to pay for those who do not pay their medical bills. If you have medical insurance for a family it probably costs nearly $1000 a year more in order to pay for the medical expenses of poor people.

The medical costs problem is a result of a few trends. One is the aging of the population. More people are old and with assorted illnesses. Another is technological advance. Diseases with no treatment are cheap to treat. But we have many more treatments and so more expenses. A third is growth of the population of lower intelligence and lower skilled workers who aren't worth enough on the labor market to cause employers to offer them medical insurance.

All these problems make each other worse in a serious negative synergy that keeps building in a vicious cycle. As more people lose medical insurance the health care providers shift more of their costs onto those who are still covered and that drives up medical insurance premiums. The higher insurance premiums cause more employers to drop medical insurance as a benefit for their employees. Also, as the population ages and Medicare costs for the old rise the federal government cuts back on payments to hospitals and doctors for services provided. Again, the providers raise prices with the privately insured but in this case they do so to make up for lower payments from treating old folks. So up go private medical insurance premiums even higher.

As well paid workers shrink as a percentage of the total population and low skilled immigrant groups and old folks rise as percentages of the total population the medical costs problem will keep getting bigger and bigger. Part of this worsening problem shows up as growth in the cost of Medicare. Part shows up as higher costs for Medicaid. But rising health insurance premiums also are partially a result of both the aging and dumbing of the US population.

In a way Bush's proposal amounts to moving the chairs around on the deck of the Titanic. We need more radical changes in policy to address the medical costs problem. First off, we can't prevent the aging of the population yet. But we can stop letting in immigrants who aren't going to become high wage earners and deport the illegal aliens who are already here. We need a First World population to support First World levels of medical care and other services.

Second, we might gain advantages of greater market forces in health care if tax advantages that now flow toward paying health insurance premiums instead flowed to a combination of health savings accounts and higher deductible insurance premiums. Higher deductibles would give buyers a bigger incentive to be frugal in their use of health services and drugs. Under current tax law the structure of tax advantaged medical spending accounts only works for highly predictable medical expenses because the money has to get spent by the nd of the year. Unless one is a non-employee with a Health Savings Account there's no way to put away money pre-tax to save for unpredictable illnesses.

Third, the US government should offer prizes for innovations that allow medical cost reductions. For example, how about multi-million dollar prizes for robots that can do various types of surgeries?

Fourth, the US National Institutes of Health or Medicare should fund a lot more clinical trials that compare existing standard treatments against less expensive and less frequently used treatments. Find out where medical practitioners are choosing more expensive treatments because specialists want more revenue.

Fifth, at some point we are going to have to address the practice of providing unlimited medical care for those who have incurable diseases. The huge costs racked up in the final few months of life are paid for by taxpayers. Lots of treatments tried at that stage provide little or no benefit at enormous cost. Those treatments are hard to justify. We are going to reach a point with a swelling populaton of retirees makes the current practice unsustainable.

Sixth, while technology currently drives up costs that will not always be the case. Eventually stem cell therapies, gene therapies, and other rejuvenation therapies will so reduce the incidence of diseases that medical costs will drop. If we push biotechnology ahead faster we will sooner reach the point when medical costs drop.

By Randall Parker 2007 January 21 12:07 AM  Economics Health
Entry Permalink | Comments(4)
2007 January 20 Saturday
Police Work Harder After Salary Arbitration Wins

Police work harder and arrest more people when they win in arbitration rulings about pay.

In a study examining the relationship between pay raises, expectations, and performance, University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business Assistant Professor Alexandre Mas found that police performance declined sharply when officers lost in arbitration over their wages.

Mas studied 383 final offer arbitration cases involving compensation disputes between New Jersey police unions between 1978 and 1996. The cases provided a unique opportunity to test how expectations about pay and actual pay affect productivity. In final offer arbitration, the two sides submit offers to an arbitrator and the arbitrator is allowed to choose only one side's offer in a binding settlement, thus creating a wedge between the pay police received and the amount they demanded. Mas then matched the arbitration data to monthly measures of police performance by jurisdiction.

Mas found that per capita number of arrests were 12 percent higher in the months following arbitration when arbitrators ruled in favor of police officers compared with when they ruled against them. His findings are outlined in an article titled "Pay, Reference Points, and Police Performance" in the latest issue (August 2006) of the Quarterly Journal of Economics.

"Losing arbitration affects productivity, even when the stakes are small," says Mas, a member of the Haas School's Economic Analysis and Policy Group. "For employers in any organization, the results imply that it's really important to manage worker expectations when considering wage policy."

Productivity dropped when the police lost at arbitration. But productivity rose when police won at arbitration.

Mas found that when arbitrators ruled in favor of the union, police forces on average made 5 more arrests per month per 100,000 capita after arbitration than before arbitration. But when unions lost in arbitration, he found police officers averaged 6.8 fewer arrests per month per 100,000 capita after arbitration compared with before arbitration.

Officers did not appear to alter enforcement in murder and rape cases, but did make fewer arrests for assault, robberies, and property crimes if they lost arbitration.

In addition, Mas found that the magnitude of a union's arbitration loss was strongly correlated to how much the arrests declined.

I see a problem in all this: If the police productivity rose after a win for how long did the productivity stay higher? Ditto on the drop. After all, if the productivity stayes high eventually another wage negotation will happen. At that point my guess is the odds seem to be against yet another rise in productivity after yet another arbitration win. Maybe the productivity boost is short-lived until workers become accustomed to their higher salaries. Do disappointed workers stay demoralized longer on the job than happy workers stay more productive?

People respond to incentives. How to structure pay incentives for police to boost their productivity in a sustained way? Simply rewarding a higher arrest rate could backfire in the form of more arrests that aren't justified. Or police could put more time into easy arrests of criminals who commit less important forms of crime. Incentives could be structured to reward lower rates of crimes reported. But police then would become incentized to write up fewer crime reports than they hear about.

By Randall Parker 2007 January 20 09:16 PM  Economics Motivation
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2007 January 17 Wednesday
Hugo Chavez Nationalizing Industries In Venezuela

Fresh from a landslide reelection Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is moving to silence dissenters as he puts much of the Venezuela government under state ownership or control.

In the past week, he has purged his cabinet of ministers deemed insufficiently radical, bringing in a new group of loyalists that includes his brother, Adan. He has begun to merge the more than 20 parties in his governing coalition into a single force under his control. And, under a controversial new law, he is set to take control of nongovernmental organizations that could oppose his government.

"I don't think there is a lot of ambiguity about what Chávez is doing," says Michael Shifter, an analyst at Interamerican Dialogue in Washington, DC. "He wants to hold on to power for as long as possible, and even though he just won a resounding reelection, he doesn't want to take any chances of dissent building."

Independent groups are going to get regulated out of existence. I've been getting emails warning me that Nancy Pelosi is trying to implement a weaker version of this approach with more grass roots organizations required to register with the federal government and to abide by more federal restrictions.

Chávez is also moving to take control of civic groups, some of which have been critical of his government. Under a proposed law now in Congress, NGOs will have to reregister with the government, even if they have been operating legally for years. Foreign funding will have to pass through the government, and NGOs would have to open their files to anyone that requests it. Human rights campaigners say it would effectively end their work.

"If approved, it will [effectively] outlaw all nongovernmental organizations" working in Venezuela, says Liliana Ortega of the Venezuelan human rights group, Cofavic. "There will only be groups approved by the government."

Amnesty International has called on Chávez to revoke the bill, with a spokesperson saying it would "restrict the legitimate work of human rights defenders in Venezuela." But Chávez shows no signs of retreating.

Phone, utilities, and oil are all going under state ownership.

VENEZUELAN President Hugo Chavez's plans to nationalise the nation's largest phone company and utilities, gain greater control over the oil industry and seek authority to make laws by executive order are sending investors racing for the exits.

Chavez wants to rule until 2021 and wants to rule by decree.

Mr Chavez's move to assert state control over the economy mirrors his efforts to cement his political control; with Cuba's President Fidel Castro ailing, the speech amounted to a claim of leadership of the Latin American left. In his speech, he said he would ask the Venezuelan Congress to allow him to rule by decree, a power he enjoyed for a year in 2000-2001. Last month, the 52-year-old President said he would seek to change the constitution to end presidential term limits.

This man was democratically elected and reelected.

If democracy is such a total cure-all for what ails the world then why did Hugo Chavez win a landslide reelection victory in December 2006?

Chávez, who won a second six-year term in a landslide election victory in December, also hinted at moves to increase state control over privately run oil refineries, change the laws governing private business and revoke the constitutional autonomy of the Central Bank of Venezuela.

To all the Panglossian democracy campaigners around the world (and especially in neoconservative and liberal think tanks in Washington DC): Democracy only works if a populace is smart enough, truly believes in political freedom, and is willing to restrain their own desires to take everything from the most productive. Not every populace has the needed qualities to make democracy work. Democracy is failing abysmally in Venezuela, Nigeria, South Africa, and other countries.

By Randall Parker 2007 January 17 10:41 PM  Democracy Failure
Entry Permalink | Comments(3)
NATO Wants More Troops For Afghanistan

Afghanistan is the place that has the real conditions that Iraq would need to justify a US military presence.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 17 — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Wednesday that American and NATO military commanders in Afghanistan, worried about a resurgent Taliban insurgency, had asked for additional troops and that he was sympathetic to the request.

Speaking to reporters after a two-day visit to Afghanistan and before heading here for meetings with Saudi officials, Mr. Gates said commanders had “indicated what they could do with different force levels,” but he would not divulge the size of the increases under consideration. A senior Defense official said late Tuesday that the commanders were seeking fewer than 3,500 more American troops as well as about 1,000 more troops from NATO allies.

Remember how Taliban control of Afghanistan allowed Sunni Al Qaeda members to train and organize terrorist attacks on Western targets? Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. Now if we withdraw our troops and leave the Shia Arabs in control of Iraq the Sunni Wahhabi Arabs will look at the leaders in Baghdad as their enemies. A withdrawal from Iraq would also make it easier to deal with the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.

By Randall Parker 2007 January 17 10:40 PM  MidEast Afghanistan
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
2007 January 13 Saturday
Iraqi Shiites Oppose US Troop Surge

John Burns and Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times report that the Shias in charge of the Iraqi government do not want a US troop surge.

BAGHDAD, Jan. 10 — As President Bush challenges public opinion at home by committing more American troops, he is confronted by a paradox: an Iraqi government that does not really want them.

The Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has not publicly opposed the American troop increase, but aides to Mr. Maliki have been saying for weeks that the government is wary of the proposal. They fear that an increased American troop presence, particularly in Baghdad, will be accompanied by a more assertive American role that will conflict with the Shiite government’s haste to cut back on American authority and run the war the way it wants. American troops, Shiite leaders say, should stay out of Shiite neighborhoods and focus on fighting Sunni insurgents.

“The government believes there is no need for extra troops from the American side,” Haidar al-Abadi, a Parliament member and close associate of Mr. Maliki, said Wednesday. “The existing troops can do the job.”

Burns and Tavernise report this opposition to a bigger US troop role is a widely held view among Shia leaders. The Shias want to defeat the Sunnis so that the Sunnis have no chance of ousting them from power. The Shia masses fear the Sunnis could return to power. The US forces basically are an obstacle in the way of an all-out fight between the Shias and Sunnis to settle which group will rule Iraq.

Since US forces are an obstacle in the way of a Shia victory over the Sunnis a surge in US forces will likely delay the eventual resolution of the Iraq civil war. The Bush Administration spins the Iraq war in all sorts of ways. To avoid getting confused by all this spin keep in mind that Bush has been very wrong about Iraq for years running and even a prolonged failure of US policy in Iraq hasn't moved Bush much closer to a public acceptance of the basic facts about the Iraqis.

If you think the Shias are being unjustifiably paranoid about US troops consider the reactions of the moderate Sunnis.

By contrast, moderate Sunnis, who were deeply alienated by the American occupation at an earlier stage of the war, are now looking to Americans for protection, as Shiite militias have moved into Sunni neighborhoods in a deadly cycle of revenge. On Wednesday, moderate Sunni politicians hailed the idea of more American troops.

The Sunnis know that they'll get ethnically cleansed right out of Baghdad without a restraining US presence. But they ought to use the coming US troop surge as an opportunity to get out during what might turn into a relative lull in attacks against Sunnis. Eventually US troop numbers will go down and the Shias will gain the ability to operate more freely. Plus, US forces are trying hard to boost the size of the Iraqi military. Since that military is primarily Shia and operates under Shia masters that bigger Iraqi military translates into a more powerful force to use against Sunnis. So after the US surge ends the Sunnis will face a larger Shia force.

Michael Gordon, also of the New York Times, says Bush assumes that the Iraqis really want a multisectarian state.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 — With his new plan to secure Iraq, President Bush is in effect betting that Iraqi leaders are committed to building a multisectarian state, and his strategy will stand or fall on that assumption.

The Shias want a multisectarian state where the Sunnis are totally obedient to the Shias. The Sunnis want a multisectarian state where the Shias are totally obedient to the Sunnis. They are battling about which group will submit. The Kurds want out and already have de facto independence with their own border forces to keep out unwanteds.

The plan differs in several respects from the faltering effort to bring stability to Baghdad that began last summer. It calls for a much larger American force. There are to be no havens for renegade militias. And, importantly, Iraqi security forces throughout the city are to be put under the direct control of a new Iraqi commander — and backed by American Army battalions.

The plan is based on making assumptions which the Iraqi Shia leaders have repeatedly demonstrated to be false.

But the new plan depends on the good intentions and competence of a Shiite-dominated Iraqi government that has not demonstrated an abundant supply of either.

“Everybody raises a question about the intentions and capability of this government,” a senior American official said, referring to the Iraqi government. “Is this a government that really is a unity government or is it in fact pursuing, either explicitly or implicitly, a Shia hegemony agenda?”

This official even has to ask? Really? There's still some room for doubt? Note the use of the term "unity". Let me translate that: Equality of people regardless of which sect or tribe they belong to. But the Iraqis do not do equality. The Arabs as a whole do not do equality. There are superiors and inferiors, rulers and ruled, those who dominate and those who submit. But Bush rejects this reality. It isn't in his basically very liberal model of the world. Yes, Bush is a very hawkish liberal who accepts most of the assumptions underlying liberal conventional wisdom.

Some liberal assumptions about a universal shared human nature are wrong and so Bush is wrong. But he's willing to push those assumptions to their logical conclusion. So for anyone who wants to learn from empirical evidence the results of Bush's Iraqi policies underscore the errors and damage that come from the very flawed liberal model of humanity

I am reminded of what an unnamed senior adviser to George W. Bush told reporter Ron Suskind about people who try to form their opinions based on empirical evidence.

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

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.''

Who besides guys like me are part of the reality-based community? Many of the other elected officials in Washington, it would seem. A group of Democratic and Republican members of Congress were called in to discuss Iraq sometime before the October 2002 vote authorizing Bush to move forward. A Republican senator recently told Time Magazine that the president walked in and said: ''Look, I want your vote. I'm not going to debate it with you.'' When one of the senators began to ask a question, Bush snapped, ''Look, I'm not going to debate it with you.''

Bush has created the reality of a civil war in Iraq that he did not want and did not foresee. Yet he continues to act as if he can shape the outcome in Iraq. Never mind that he keeps failing. His faith in his own vision is very strong.

US Senator Norm Coleman thinks the US shouldn't send in more troops because the Iraqis want to kill each other.

Expressing doubt about whether Iraqis “are done killing each other,” Senator Norm Coleman, Republican of Minnesota, said, “Why put more American lives on the line now in the hope that this time they’ll make the difficult choice?”

That's not just a hope. It is a deluded fantasy. As long as we keep trying to attain the unattainable in Iraq our policies will fail. We will keep losing soldiers and more will come back with permanent injuries such as brain damage, crippling spinal cord injuries, losses of limbs, and other permanent maiming. Plus, we are blowing hundreds of billions of dollars.

John Burns and Sabrina Tavernise also report that in response to Bush's troop surge proposal the Iraqi leaders emphasised that they are in charge of the war, not US troops.

BAGHDAD, Jan. 11 — Iraq’s Shiite-led government offered only a grudging endorsement on Thursday of President Bush’s proposal to deploy more than 20,000 additional troops in an effort to curb sectarian violence and regain control of Baghdad. The tepid response immediately raised questions about whether the government would make a good-faith effort to prosecute the new war plan.

The Iraqi leader, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, failed to appear at a news conference and avoided any public comment. He left the government’s response to an official spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, who gave what amounted to a backhanded approval of the troop increase and emphasized that Iraqis, not Americans, would set the future course in the war.

The Iraqi Shiites want to fight the war their way (ethnic cleansing) and not for US goals. Unless Bush wants to overthrow the Iraqi government (would he try such a thing?) he ought to give up and start a US troop withdrawal.

Update Sunday Jan 14, 2007: I watched Tim Russert interview Bush's National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley on Meet The Press this morning. Hadley kept referring to Iraq's "unity government". Why? Because it was democratically elected by the people of Iraq. The act of being chosen by the ballot box has supposedly made the Iraqi government a unity government that wants to represent all Iraqis. He defended a US troop surge based on ridiculous claim.

A US attempt to change Iraq was always an an act of faith. The emprical evidence against the prospects for success was already quite large. With each passing month the empirical evidence against this faith-based initiative has steadily grown stronger. To support US policy requires a greater act of faith than beliefe in the supernatural. In the latter case we aren't in a position to conduct experiments and collect evidence to answer the question one way or another. But in the case of Iraq we do have evidence, plenty of evidence. The Iraqis have values and loyalties and views of families, politics, and religions that are simply incompatible with liberal democratic Western nation-states.

We know that over half of Iraqi marriages are to cousins and second cousins. For that to be the case they must have very strong tribal and clan loyalties. We know they believe a religion that has fundamental tenets that are incompatible with religious freedom and secular government. We also know their average IQ leaves them lacking the intellectual capacity to fulfill the responsibilities of citizens in a free democratic society. In the face of what we know about the Iraqis US policy in Iraq is doomed to fail.

Update II: Check out this Washington Post article where reporter Sudarsan Raghavan goes along with a US Army unit to try to find weapons in Baghdad. US Army soldiers in Baghdad think the Iraqi Army is inept, corrupt, and useless and aren't going to get better.

Moments before he stepped into his squad's Stryker -- a large, bathtub-shaped vehicle encased in a cage -- Caldwell echoed a sentiment shared by many in his squad: "They're kicking a dead horse here. The Iraqi army can't stand up on their own."

The Iraqi Army feeds useless intelligence to the US military which causes US troops to go on pointless search missions looking for weapons.

The Stryker rolled through the mud of Camp Liberty and made its way to Hurriyah, a mostly Shiite area nestled west of the Tigris River. Apache Company's mission: to search a few houses for weapons caches based on intelligence reports. Caldwell and his soldiers worried about the intelligence they had been given. It had come from an Iraqi army -- or "IA," in U.S. soldier lingo -- officer a week ago. They wondered whether they were being set up for an ambush.

"It's a joke," said Pfc. Drew Merrell, 22, of Jefferson City, Mo., shaking his head and flashing a smile as the Stryker rolled through Baghdad.

"They feed us what they want," said Spec. Josh Lake, 26, of Ventura, Calif., referring to the intelligence. "I guarantee that everyone in the city knows where we're going. Because the IA told them. The only thing they don't know is how big a force we're coming with."

The Iraqis aren't going to magically start performing better just because the US sends another 20,000 troops. The militias will probably avoid US soldiers until the US troop surge is over. The Iraqi government will try to keep US soldiers busy doing things that keep them away from Shiite militias. The Mahdi Army will continue purging Sunnis and once the US troop surge is over they'll up their rate of purging.

The general feeling among us is we're not really doing anything here," Caldwell said. "We clear one neighborhood, then another one fires up. It's an ongoing battle. It never ends."

"We're constantly being told that it's not our fight. It is their fight," said Sgt. Jose Reynoso, 24, of Yuma, Ariz., speaking of the Iraqi army. "But that's not the case. Whenever we go and ask them for guys, they almost always say no, and we have to do the job ourselves."

"You do have corruption problems among the ranks," said Sgt. Justin Hill, 24, of Abilene Tex., the squad leader. "I don't know what they can do about that. They have militias inside them. They are pretty much everywhere."

Hopefully the failure of the US troop surge will convince more American people that Bush is clueless on Iraq and we can write off this really bad investment.

By Randall Parker 2007 January 13 11:43 PM  Mideast Iraq Exit Debate
Entry Permalink | Comments(11)
2007 January 09 Tuesday
Criminal Illegal Aliens Repeat Offenders

The US government fails to deport many illegal alien criminals and they commit many crimes after they should have been deported.

Illegal immigrants are being released from prison only to be arrested on new charges despite government efforts to deport them and keep them out of the country.

The findings are part of an audit by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine that suggest authorities are still struggling to deport illegal immigrants who commit crimes, even though most state and local authorities are notifying immigration authorities of the imminent release of prisoners.

Fine's office analyzed the cases of 100 immigrants who had served time in prison and found 73 of them were re-arrested for committing a crime after being released.

On average, each immigrant was re-arrested six times, ranging from traffic violations to assault.

The article cites Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute claiming that the US government lacks space for keeping illegal alien criminals detained while processing them for deportation. This is an example of how the $3 billion per week US burn rate in Iraq could be put to better use doing things that would increase our security.

George W. Bush and many in Congress want to grant a massive amnesty to illegal aliens. That'll drive up crime rates and raise social spending costs as well as increasing housing costs. Why do this to ourselves?

By Randall Parker 2007 January 09 09:46 PM  Immigration Crime
Entry Permalink | Comments(7)
2007 January 08 Monday
Immigration Brings Poverty To Arkansas

California is not the only state being demographically reshaped for the worse by immigration.

SPRINGDALE -- The face of Springdale has been changing for years and that includes Springdale High School where nearly half the students are minority and poor, Superintendent Jim Rollins said Tuesday.

The poverty rate, as measured by the number of students who qualify for free and reduced price meals, has risen from 29 percent in 2003 to the current 45 percent.

During the same four years, the ethnicity of the school has changed from 67 percent Caucasian and 33 percent minority to 53 percent Caucasian and 47 percent minority.

Low skilled immigrants are poorer than more skilled. natives. But keep in mind that low skilled immigration raises the poverty rate of those natives who work in industries which lower wages in response to cheap immigrant labor. Both black and white workers in plants and on construction sites in Arkansas get paid less due to illegal immigration. Conversely, removal of illegal aliens drives up wages of native blue collar workers.

Just who are these poor people? Foreigners. Likely Hispanics.

Just over one-third of the district's 15,000-plus students are English language learners. Rollins said the district received about $1 million in state aid for English language programs, but the district spent $3.5 million on those program last year.

Amazingly the article does not make any mention of who the "minorities" are. Note that whites became the minority but in liberal-speak whites are never a "minority".

One of the comments on the article points us in the direction of what is causing this change: The desire for cheap labor to process chicken in factories is a cause of the decline of northwest Arkansas.

"Tyson needs to cough up the doe to support local schools. Springdale and Rogers are turning into a crime infested slums thanks to corrupt companies like Tyson and they should be made to pay. Just wait, within 20 years NWA will become like LA, one gigantic cess pool of human misery and a complete extintion of the middle class. "

Another reader points to Hispanics as the cause of school decline.

These numbers say otherwise: Check out http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/homeland.php?id=551525 45% of all non-Mexicans have a post HS degree · 5.4% of first generation Mexicans have a post HS degree · 9.3% of second generation Mexicans have such degrees · 8.5% of third generation Mexicans have such degrees · 9.6% of fourth generation Mexicans have such degrees So even in the fourth generation - after at least fifty to sixty years of "assimilation," it appears that the descendents of Mexican immigrants display scant interest in higher education. This is a stunning finding.

America is a wealthy first world nation. It can not remain that way if the average IQ continues to decline due to immigration and higher rates of reproduction by lower IQ folks. Most of elite debate about America's future is at beast irrelevant and at worse destructive because the elites enforce a taboo against facts about human nature that offend their secular religion.

By Randall Parker 2007 January 08 06:26 PM  Immigration Societal Decay
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
2007 January 07 Sunday
Will Bush And Congress Cut Old Age Entitlements Growth?

Stuart Butler of the Heritage Foundation says growth in old age retirement programs will grow the size of the US government.

The real problem is the tsunami of retirement spending about to engulf us as the Baby Boomers begin to retire over the next few years. The cost of Medicare and Social Security will surge from about 7 percent of GDP today to almost 10 percent by 2020 and to 14 percent of the entire economy by 2050, when today’s college students retire.

That is why the President’s call for confronting these unsustainable entitlements is so important. He and Congress must begin to take action now, before the problem gets worse.

Bush wasted his political capital on entitlements reform by trying to turn Social Security into a private retirement accounts program. I do not expect the Democrats in Congress to go along Bush efforts to slow the rate of growth of old age retirement entitlements.

Will the coming increase in taxes produce a taxpayer revolt that'll provide the political support needed to raise retirement ages and to make Medicare at least partially needs-based?

The President thus must also be clear that raising taxes to reduce the deficit is unacceptable. One reason for drawing this line in the sand is that insufficient tax revenue is not the problem—spending is. The new Congress is itching to spend money on new programs that its Members committed themselves to during the election. Accepting tax increases will merely finance that new spending.

Another reason is that the Bush Administration’s tax cuts only slightly slowed a long-term rise in federal taxes as a percent of the economy. Today the federal government takes about 18 percent of GDP in taxes, roughly the average for the last 50 years. Yet under current law, thanks to tax hikes enacted before Bush came into office, taxes are slated to rise to a record high of over 20 percent within a decade and to over 22 percent within 20 years. So Americans are scheduled for massive tax increases if Congress does nothing. Thanks in part to the Alternative Minimum Tax, and in part to tax bracket creep, even extending the Bush tax cuts shaves only one percentage point off this tax increase.

I predict the federal government's take on the US economy will rise because retiring baby boomers will support tax hikes to pay for their living standards and medical care. Instead we ought to gradually rase the retirement age. If we are going to live longer then we are going to have to work longer as well.

What I'd like to know: Will the growing ranks of retirees manage to get higher taxes enacted on those still working in order to pay for continued old age entitlements hand-outs at plusher levels? Or will working taxpayers get too angry at rising taxes and push back hard enough to cancel out the power of the lobby of those who near and already retired?

What I fear: Rising taxes that choke off economic growth and by doing so cut collected tax revenue, making the old age retirement financing crisis even worse. Will that happen?

By Randall Parker 2007 January 07 09:06 PM  Economics Demographic
Entry Permalink | Comments(4)
2007 January 05 Friday
Bush Signed Secret Agreement With Mexico On Social Security

Elitist George W. Bush does not think we have a right to know when he makes deals that are bad for our interests. Bush wants to make America's retirement funding crisis bigger with benefits for Mexicans who make little, pay little in taxes, and cost in welfare and medical benefits and higher crime.

An agreement the Bush administration reached with Mexico on Social Security benefits would allow illegal aliens granted amnesty in the future to claim credit for the time they worked illegally.

The deal was reached in 2004 but never released publicly because it hasn't been submitted to Congress. The TREA Senior Citizens League, a Social Security advocacy group, recently obtained the document through a Freedom of Information Act, and said it confirms the group's worst fears.

The document is a jumble of definitions and legal language, but a spokesman for the group said what's important is what's not in the text: It does nothing to prevent undocumented aliens who later get legal status from receiving benefits for the time they worked illegally. And that comes as the Social Security system's finances are about to be put under greater strain by the retirement of baby boomers.

Bush is like the Manchurian Candidate. He wastes American lives and money in a pointless war that actually harms US national security. He promotes immigration policies that will bankrupt the country with a continuing huge wave of low IQ immigrants who contribute little to the high tech industries that are the best part of the US economy and who are net liabilities. Bush acts as if we do not already have a big enough problem with an aging population and huge unfunded old age pension and health care liabilities. He wants to make the problem even worse. I think he'd prefer a future America with an Idiocracy populace which would be too stupid to ask all those challenging questions that vex him. Bush wants us to continue down a path that will produce a low trust society. Well, he's already succeeded. I do not trust George W. Bush. He's a disaster.

By Randall Parker 2007 January 05 10:58 PM  Immigration Economics
Entry Permalink | Comments(15)
2007 January 04 Thursday
Open Courseware Movement Grows

MIT is putting the course materials for all their courses online and other universities are following suit.

By the end of this year, the contents of all 1,800 courses taught at one of the world's most prestigious universities will be available online to anyone in the world, anywhere in the world. Learners won't have to register for the classes, and everyone is accepted.

The cost? It's all free of charge.

The OpenCourseWare movement, begun at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2002 and now spread to some 120 other universities worldwide, aims to disperse knowledge far beyond the ivy-clad walls of elite campuses to anyone who has an Internet connection and a desire to learn.

Lectures, diagrams, graphs, and other course material will all be widely and cheaply available - mostly for free.

You too can go through courses from MIT.

The MIT site (ocw.mit.edu), along with companion sites that translate the material into other languages, now average about 1.4 million visits per month from learners "in every single country on the planet," Ms. Margulies says. Those include Iraq, Darfur, "even Antarctica," she says. "We hear from [the online students] all the time with inspirational stories about how they are using these materials to change their lives. They're really, really motivated."

What is lagging? Videos of the lectures.

So far MIT has published 1,550 of its courses for OCW and plans to get the rest online by the end of this year. The materials for each course vary. Full videos of lectures, one of the most popular features, are available for only 26 courses, about 1,000 hours of video in all. "We'd like to do more video because it's really quite popular and our users love it," Marguiles says. "But it's quite expensive." The program relies on "generous support" from foundations, individuals, and MIT itself for funding, she says.

We still need two more essential elements: First, automated online tests. Students need a way to check their level of knowledge. Once they are confident they know to pass tests then they need to be able to go to a school and get tested in person so that they can get credits toward degrees.

How will smart kids use the ability to watch lectures and take tests online and earn credit? They start earning college credits sooner and get through college faster. Rather than impress people with a Harvard or MIT degree they'll impress with college degrees earned at age 19 and younger. They'll also save a hundred thousand dollars a piece and start making big money sooner. Why work for minimum wage while in college at age 20 when you can start earning several times that at 19 by graduating sooner?

The OpenCourseWare Consortium site serves as a good starting point if you want to look for online course material.

By Randall Parker 2007 January 04 10:53 PM  Education Online
Entry Permalink | Comments(4)
Iraq: What To Do Once Troop Surge Fails?

Once Bush tries his next set of futile and foolish policies in Iraq we'll be down another hundred billion dollars with another thousand Americans dead with tens of thousands permanently injured. At that point what should we do next? I suggest we stop throwing good money after bad and write off Iraq like a really bad investment. But for those who still want us to try to accomplish something before we withdraw the debate will likely move on to the question of partition. What to do once US troop surge doesn't stop the Iraq civil war?

WASHINGTON – As President Bush readies a new strategy for Iraq, some experts in Washington are looking beyond the question of US troop levels to what might happen if worst-case scenarios come true. Call it Plan B: How the United States might handle Iraq's partition.

It may still be possible to hold Iraq together, many of these critics believe. A surge in American military strength might help. But the hour is late - and a lack of contingency planning on the part of US officials may be one reason the situation has become so dire.

What is the main reason the Bush Administration is still in fantasy land in their public pronouncements and plans for Iraq? How about a lack of willingness to admit the sheer scale of the wrongness of their model of human nature? Bush's obstinate refusal to admit error about human nature underlies the Iraq debacle. Bush's government has admitted serious problems in Iraq. But they have not admitted that they formulated their Iraq policy based on very wrong myths about human nature. Bush would rather be wrong than admit to being wrong.

Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution says we should look at Bosnia both as a model of how bad the deaths can get and how we can partition to stop the killing.

The US might need actively to aid Iraqis in relocating to parts of the country where they feel safer, says Mr. O'Hanlon. This sort of resettlement assistance wouldn't be unprecedented, he notes. The US did it in Bosnia.

Such a policy would perhaps preempt the violent Balkans-style ethnic cleansing that is already occurring in Iraq, O'Hanlon says. Sectarian strife is displacing 100,000 Iraqis a month.

"One-third to one-quarter of the ethnic cleansing that might occur [in Iraq] has occurred," says O'Hanlon.

Michael O'Hanlon and Edward Joseph have an essay in The American Interest arguing for the need for a back-up plan should the US troop surge fail (and it will). The essay is entitled Toolbox: A Bosnia Option For Iraq and they argue we should assist Shias and Sunnis to move away from each other.

The war in Bosnia ended only after as many as 200,000 civilians died and half the country’s population had either been expelled or fled from their homes, leaving the country a patchwork of ethnically homogeneous pieces. NATO airpower, a reinforced UN contingent and the military successes of Muslim and Croat armies were critical elements leading to the 1995 Dayton Accords. But Dayton could not have been negotiated had not ethnic relocations already occurred, creating definable and mostly defensible territories.

...

Facilitating voluntary relocations is difficult to time correctly. If done too soon, government-assisted relocations could codify an ethnic segregation process that most Iraqis do not inherently desire. It could even encourage some militias to accelerate violence against minorities within their neighborhoods in the belief that it would be relatively easy to drive people from their homes if they knew that new jobs and houses awaited elsewhere. If done too late, however, much of the killing that we hope to prevent would have already occurred (as in Bosnia). This is why the Bosnia Option needs to be discussed now, even if it might not be implemented for several more months as we try to salvage success from the current strategy.

The key--and the most challenging part of an ethnic relocation policy--is to get the parties to informally accept it. With an informal understanding among belligerents, ethnic relocation can be less traumatic and destabilizing. For example, the vast majority of Croatia’s Serbs were expelled during two military operations (in May and August 1995) that had at least tacit acquiescence from Belgrade. Without minimizing the trauma to the Serbs (indeed, the Croatian commander will be tried in the Hague for alleged war crimes), the fact is that they suffered nothing like the calamities of Muslims forcibly uprooted from Serb-held parts of Bosnia. Likewise, thousands of Serbs left western Bosnia after the war, without violence, as part of land swaps agreed between Croats and Serbs at Dayton.

My guess is that hundreds of thousands Iraqis want to move right now and would if moving was made easy with prefabricated housing to live in once they have moved.

As the Sunnis and Shias become more separated what I want to know is just how much killing will continue due to the Shia tribes fighting each other? How much of the death toll today is due to clan warfare? How much of the killings are due to criminal gangs fighting?

By Randall Parker 2007 January 04 09:16 PM  MidEast Iraq Partition
Entry Permalink | Comments(3)
North Korea Spends Big On Kim Family Deification

Robert Marquand has the story in The Christian Science Monitor. North Koreans are taught to believe that Kim Jong Il is a god.

In fact, in a time of famine and poverty, government spending on Kim-family deification - now nearly 40 percent of the visible budget - is the only category in the North's budget to increase, according to a new white paper by the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy in Seoul. It is rising even as defense, welfare, and bureaucracy spending have decreased. The increase pays for ideology schools, some 30,000 Kim monuments, gymnastic festivals, films and books, billboards and murals, 40,000 "research institutes," historical sites, rock carvings, circus theaters, training programs, and other worship events.

In 1990, ideology was 19 percent of North Korea's budget; by 2004 it doubled to at least 38.5 percent of state spending, according to the white paper. This extra financing may come from recent budget offsets caused by the shutting down of older state funding categories, says Alexander Mansourov of the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu.

It has long been axiomatic that the main danger to the Kim regime is internal unrest. That is, Koreans will discover the freedoms, glitter, and diversity of the modern outside world, and stop believing the story of idolatry they are awash in. "It isn't quite realized [in the West] how much a threat the penetration of ideas means. They [Kim's regime] see it as a social problem that could bring down the state," says Brian Myers, a North Korean expert at Dongseo University in Busan, South Korea.

The whole article is very interesting. The regime is constantly updating their methods and messages for propagandizing their population. As Marquand makes clear, their propaganda efforts make Stalinist era propaganda in Russia look tame by comparison.

One way we could destabilize the North Korean regime is to pay for smuggling radios, pre-paid cellular phones, CDs, DVDs, and other electronic information tools into North Korea. Make it easier for the North Koreans to find out about the outside world. Beam more radio broadcasts at North Korea. Spend big to help corrupt the border guards and make North Korea's border with China even more permeable. The regime needs isolation in order to survive. Well, de-isolate it.

The regime is unlikely to abandon nuclear weapons in talks because it has used its nuclear weapons program as a big propaganda tool to convince their populace of the power and glory of the regime and of the superiority and strength of their society.

Mass simultaneous Kim and Korea worship events such as flag wavings are pitched to build racial and ethnic solidarity.

Perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of the Korean cult project is its recent veering toward race and ethnic solidarity, say Kim watchers. His main appeal to his people today, a push that rarely gets attention outside the North, is to the racial superiority of a people whose isolation and stubborn xenophobia supposedly makes their bloodlines purer. Mr. Myers notes that festivals of 100,000 flag wavers is not a Stalinist exercise, but a celebration of "ethnic homogeneity." Since the 1990s Kim has more fervently claimed lineage to the first ancient rulers of Korea, a move intended to place him in a position of historical, if not divine, destiny as leader of the peninsula.

We ought to try to use electronic gadgets as a cheap way to overthrow the North Korean regime. North Korea has 23 million people. How much would it cost to get pre-paid cellphones with thousands of minutes into the hands of millions of them? How much would it cost to smuggle in millions of radios and MP3 players preloaded with lectures about life in other countries and the ability of MP3 players to swap lectures?

We are spending about $3 billion a week in Iraq (plus much larger longer term costs from deaths, maiming, post traumatic stress disorder, and the like) which does not do anything to improve US security. For a week's cost of the Iraq debacle we could probably give a few million North Koreans contact with the rest of the world and information about how much their government lies to them.

By Randall Parker 2007 January 04 08:52 PM  Korea
Entry Permalink | Comments(3)
2007 January 02 Tuesday
Surfing Safer Than Soccer And Basketball

Soccer (called football in most countries outside the United States and Canada) has a reputation as a relatively safe sport as compared to American football. Soccer moms who drive Volvos would rather their kids play soccer than more risky sports. Bet those soccer moms see surfing as a dangerous sport as well. But don't be too quick to trust your intuitions ladies. Soccer players rack up injuries faster than surfers.

Providence, RI -- While public perception may frame surfing as a dangerous sport, new research begs to differ. In the first study of its kind, researchers have computed the rate of injury among competitive surfers and found they are less prone to harm than collegiate soccer or basketball players. Led by researchers at Rhode Island Hospital and Brown Medical School, the findings of the study are published in the January 2007 issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

"We found that competitive surfing has a relatively low risk of injury – 6.6 significant injuries per 1,000 hours of surfing - compared to other sports for which comparable data is available," says lead author Andrew Nathanson, MD, an emergency medicine physician with Rhode Island Hospital's Injury Prevention Center. "However, the risk of injury more than doubled when surfing in large waves or over an area with a hard bottom."

The sport of surfing has rapidly grown in popularity since the 1960's, but little is known about surfing injuries – especially the relative frequency, mechanisms and risk factors. Nathanson and his research team collected injury data from 32 surfing contests worldwide, both professional and amateur. Documentation of every acute surfing injury sustained during competition was recorded, as well as wave size, mechanism of injury and treatment. "Significant" injuries were qualified as those that prevented the surfer from surfing for one or more days, resulted in a hospital visit, or required on-site suturing.

But how do the fatality rates compare? You can drown or break your neck surfing. On the other hand, you could hit your head pretty hard in sports played on the ground.

Big waves double the danger.

"It would come as little surprise to most surfers that the injury rate more than doubles when surfing in larger surf (overhead) compared to smaller waves, as the energy of waves increases as it grows in height. In addition, a sea floor with a sandy bottom is much more forgiving upon impact than one covered with reefs or rocks," says Nathanson.

I'm guessing their "larger" is an average for a range. Giant waves are probably much more dangerous.

By Randall Parker 2007 January 02 09:30 PM  Off Beat And Odd
Entry Permalink | Comments(5)
2007 January 01 Monday
Bush Advisers Surprised On Iraqi In 2006

The Bush Administration's "clear and hold" strategy for Iraq in 2006 failed abysmally. Bush's advisors, incredibly slow learners that the are, were surprised by this turn of events.

The original plan, championed by Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top commander in Baghdad, and backed by Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, called for turning over responsibility for security to the Iraqis, shrinking the number of American bases and beginning the gradual withdrawal of American troops. But the plan collided with Iraq’s ferocious unraveling, which took most of Mr. Bush’s war council by surprise.

Most were surprised? Does that mean that not all of them were surprised? Who among Bush's advisors was not surprised when sectarian strife kept growing in Iraq? Does a single one of them run a half-way accurate model of human nature and how Iraqis differ from Americans?

In interviews in Washington and Baghdad, senior officials said the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department had also failed to take seriously warnings, including some from its own ambassador in Baghdad, that sectarian violence could rip the country apart and turn Mr. Bush’s promise to “clear, hold and build” Iraqi neighborhoods and towns into an empty slogan.

This left the president and his advisers constantly lagging a step or two behind events on the ground.

“We could not clear and hold,” Stephen J. Hadley, the president’s national security adviser, acknowledged in a recent interview, in a frank admission of how American strategy had crumbled. “Iraqi forces were not able to hold neighborhoods, and the effort to build did not show up. The sectarian violence continued to mount, so we did not make the progress on security we had hoped. We did not bring the moderate Sunnis off the fence, as we had hoped. The Shia lost patience, and began to see the militias as their protectors.”

So Zalmay Khalilzad probably saw the worst coming. Who else did? We should listen to those who predict accurately future turns of events.

Bush is going to send General Casey home early and he's replaced Donald Rumsfeld. Bush's next plan is to send in more troops in a so-called surge. Robert Novak reports that support for the troop surge is very weak in Congress even among Republicans.

President Bush and McCain, the front-runner for the party's 2008 presidential nomination, will have trouble finding support from more than 12 of the 49 Republican senators when pressing for a surge of 30,000 troops. "It's Alice in Wonderland," Sen. Chuck Hagel, second-ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, told me in describing the proposal. "I'm absolutely opposed to sending any more troops to Iraq. It is folly."

Hagel is right. But will Congress step in and stop Bush's surge?

Some think the surge will make things worse, not better.

How big and how long should a surge be? The 7,000 or 8,000 troops that were first mentioned now have grown to at least 30,000. Congressional advocates talk privately about an infusion of manpower ending about halfway through this year. But retired general Jack Keane, who has become a leading advocate of additional troops, wrote in The Post last week: "Increasing troop levels in Baghdad for three to six months would virtually ensure defeat."

I say Iraq is going to get worse either way. So we can blame it on the surge or we can blame it on not doing the surge. It would be cheaper to blame the lack of a surge.

The civil war in Iraq is going to continue at least until the Sunnis are pushed out of all areas along the border between Shia and Sunni regions where substantial numbers of Sunnis and Shias live. We could help the Sunnis move out of harm's way or we could help train the Shias so they can more efficiently assert their authority over the Sunnis (i.e. so the Shias can terrorise and kill Sunnis until the Sunnis submit - Islam is all about submission between non-equals). Or we could leave and save huge amounts of money and thousands of American lives and prevent the maimings of tens of thousands of more Americans.

By Randall Parker 2007 January 01 09:54 PM  Mideast Iraq Exit Debate
Entry Permalink | Comments(18)
Advertise here. Contact randall dot parker at ymail dot com
 
Web parapundit.com
Site Traffic Info