Plans for a Europe-wide clampdown on immigration that could see asylum-seekers forced to apply for refugee status in advance and more effective deportation measures, are to be at the heart of France’s European Union presidency.
Nicolas Sarkozy, French president, is proposing a co-ordinated crackdown on illegal immigration in government documents, seen by the Financial Times, which have been drawn up in preparation for France’s EU presidency, which starts in July.
But the idea that Europe needs immigrants for demographic reasons is deeply mistaken.
The document – a so-called “pact on immigration” – also calls for swift implementation of biometric visas and compulsory language lessons for all new arrivals. It acknowledges that the EU needs migrants for demographic and economic reasons but it adds: “Europe does not have the means to welcome with dignity all those who see an Eldorado in it.”
Europe is a densely populated place. What is wrong with letting its population decrease as a result of lower fertility? It will become a more livable place.
WASHINGTON -- With restaurants and resorts facing summer staff shortages, the Bush administration will announce federal regulations today to streamline the way foreign workers enter the country for seasonal jobs.
The Department of Labor is rewriting rules to help employers find and hire workers for temporary jobs as landscapers, waitresses and crab pickers more quickly and efficiently than current guidelines allow.
In one major change affecting industries such as construction and shipyards, the definition of "temporary" will be drastically expanded -- from the current 10 months to three years.
Will President Obama be even worse on immigration? Half Sigma says the Democrats are far worse on immigration.
I do NOT agree with the guy who says Republicans are equally blameful for high immigration. Go read Daily Kos and see how insanely pro-immigration they are. There's no Republican blog that's like that. I agree that there are Republican politicians who don't give a damn about what Republican voters think if they are receiving campaign contributions from pro-immigration businesses, but that's only so long as they are not losing votes because of it. It has primarily been the forces on the left, like the Daily Kos people, who have convinced the public to be pro-immigration and vote against their own interests.
If there is going be a serious reduction of immigration, it's NOT going to come from Democrats. That I guarantee.
McCain is so bad on immigration that who wins this Presidential election basically doesn't matter for immigration as near as I can tell.
Writing for Condé Nast Portfolio.com Denis Johnson has a great piece on Kurdistan as a peaceful boomtown. Kurdistan stands apart from Iraq and is better off for it.
Bloody insurgency and sectarian strife tear at the country of Iraq, but Iraqi Kurdistan—three northern “governorates’’ under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government, with its own language, flag, and national anthem, its own Parliament and its own army—prospers relatively free of violence. The Kurdistan region is open for business. With the buzz of dealmaking and the ringing cell phones and the smell of oil literally in the air, you get a sense, sitting in the Atrium, of being caught up in this planet’s biggest game, of touching the skirts of power and intrigue and life-changing wealth. (Read more about what lies beyond the Iraqi oil boom.)
The Kurdistan region is Paul Wolfowitz’s wet dream: maybe not a beacon of democracy, but certainly a red-hot ember—peaceful, orderly, secular, democratic, wildly capitalist, and sentimentally pro-American—afloat on an ocean of oil.
I think Kurdistan provides an ignored lesson: Ethnic and religious homogeneity brings peace. This runs counter to the prevailing multicultural mythology which our liberal elites would have us believe.
If you can get permission to cruise around and get thru the checkpoints in Iraq then you can see a very rapidly growing, peaceful, and happy country.
On off days we get around Erbil meeting friendly folks and shooting them, and Susan asks about the “situation on the ground” and “future prospects” and shoots the whole city, while I take notes and wonder what happened to the war.
“It’s safe here, you can go anywhere”—by which they mean wherever you find yourself in this region the size of Maryland, you’ll be safe. But whether you can actually get through the checkpoints without papers from the Ministry of Security, that’s quite another matter. With its zealous and largely successful antiterrorist measures and its capitalist fever and as-yet-incomplete system of laws, the country serves up a blend of Orwellian, penitentiary-style security and Wild West laissez-faire: no speed limits, no driver’s insurance, no D.U.I. traps—there’s very little drinking and apparently zero drug abuse—loose regulations for firearms, and homesteaders’ rights to rural land; also—at least while the parliament wrestles with the question of government revenue—no taxes. Of any kind. But to board a plane leaving Erbil, passengers must pass two vehicle checkpoints, four electronic screenings and pat-downs, and a final bag-and-body search planeside.
If we let the Kurds split off and form their own country there will be one country in the Middle East whose populace unabashedly love America.
And the Kurds love Americans. Love, love. Investors swarm in from all over the globe, and foreigners are common in Erbil, but if you mention tentatively and apologetically that you’re American, a shopkeeper or café owner is likely to take you aside and grip your arm and address you with the passionate sincerity of a drunken uncle: “I speak not just for me but all of Kurdish people. Please bring your United States Army here forever. You are welcome, welcome. No, I will not accept your money today, please take these goods as my gift to America.”
If we force the Kurds to bow to the Baghdad government their love of America will evaporate. After all the massive screw-up of US policy in Iraq could we at least get this one thing right? Probably not. But we really ought to let the Kurds stay independent of the Arabs in Iraq.
Robert Kaplan has a new article in The Atlantic called The Coming Anarchy about "How scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and disease are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet". I would say these factors are ripping the social fabric in some parts of the world but not others. The extent to which these factors hit America depends on whether we let the rest of the world migrate into our nation or not.
The Minister's eyes were like egg yolks, an aftereffect of some of the many illnesses, malaria especially, endemic in his country. There was also an irrefutable sadness in his eyes. He spoke in a slow and creaking voice, the voice of hope about to expire. Flame trees, coconut palms, and a ballpoint-blue Atlantic composed the background. None of it seemed beautiful, though. "In forty-five years I have never seen things so bad. We did not manage ourselves well after the British departed. But what we have now is something worse—the revenge of the poor, of the social failures, of the people least able to bring up children in a modern society." Then he referred to the recent coup in the West African country Sierra Leone. "The boys who took power in Sierra Leone come from houses like this." The Minister jabbed his finger at a corrugated metal shack teeming with children. "In three months these boys confiscated all the official Mercedes, Volvos, and BMWs and willfully wrecked them on the road." The Minister mentioned one of the coup's leaders, Solomon Anthony Joseph Musa, who shot the people who had paid for his schooling, "in order to erase the humiliation and mitigate the power his middle-class sponsors held over him."
Tyranny is nothing new in Sierra Leone or in the rest of West Africa. But it is now part and parcel of an increasing lawlessness that is far more significant than any coup, rebel incursion, or episodic experiment in democracy. Crime was what my friend—a top-ranking African official whose life would be threatened were I to identify him more precisely—really wanted to talk about. Crime is what makes West Africa a natural point of departure for my report on what the political character of our planet is likely to be in the twenty-first century.
Africa certainly is a basket case. Parts are becoming a slightly more affluent basket case due to high commodity prices. Other parts are becoming more of a basket case again because of high commodity prices (the exporters versus the importers).
Don't go to West Africa. Okay?
The cities of West Africa at night are some of the unsafest places in the world. Streets are unlit; the police often lack gasoline for their vehicles; armed burglars, carjackers, and muggers proliferate. "The government in Sierra Leone has no writ after dark," says a foreign resident, shrugging. When I was in the capital, Freetown, last September, eight men armed with AK-47s broke into the house of an American man. They tied him up and stole everything of value. Forget Miami: direct flights between the United States and the Murtala Muhammed Airport, in neighboring Nigeria's largest city, Lagos, have been suspended by order of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation because of ineffective security at the terminal and its environs. A State Department report cited the airport for "extortion by law-enforcement and immigration officials." This is one of the few times that the U.S. government has embargoed a foreign airport for reasons that are linked purely to crime.
This reminds me of a Canadian cellular equipment installer I once met in an airport. He told me he flew around the world for a Canadian cellular equipment company installing cellular phone networks. The worst place he'd never been was Nigeria. His team would install cell phone towers, line up relay microwave equipment, and then go back to the hotel for the night. The next day they'd find the equipment had been misaligned, probably by their own workers trying to make the jobs last longer. He never saw so much corruption. But the worst for him came in the Lagos airport. A guy walked up to him and hit his arm with a tire iron, breaking a bone in his arm. The guy was trying to steal his carry-on luggage. This Canadian shifted his luggage into his other arm and took off running. His assailant pursued him. No security officials rushed to his aid. So he ran out the door onto the tarmac. The assailant went onto the tarmac too. So the Canadian looked for an airplane that looked like his and shouted to grounds workers about a London flight and he got directed toward his plane. His assailant didn't stop chasing him until he got onto the on ramp of his airplane. He had to fly to London with an untreated broken arm.
I'm still reading this pretty long article. It serves as a useful reminder that not all the world is developing and some parts of the world are getting worse. Some of those latter parts have fertility rates of 5, 6, 7, 8 babies per woman. We should care about this and want to reduce those fertility rates. But you'll scarcely hear about this in the intellectually bankrupt mainstream media.
Update: Oops, this article is from 2000.
Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies reports immigrant does not dramatically change the number of workers relative to the number of retirees. Therefore immigration does not help with the Social Security funding problem.
In the 2000 census the average immigrant was older (39) than the average native born (35).
Legal immigrants are almost twice as likely to receive the earned income tax credit (for lower income people) which basically refunds Social Security payments. Immigrants earn lower wages. Of course we could improve that financial picture by stopping immigration altogether.
If we do not change our immigration policies then immigration will increase the US population by 100 million people by 2060 over what it would otherwise be. Camarota says that is like adding 13 New York Cities. Why do this? It will drive up housing costs, food costs, land costs, crime, and other things we'd be better off to have less of.
Great women, all different, but great in terms of size, of impact on the world and of struggles overcome. Struggle was not something they read about in a book. They did not use guilt to win election -- it comes up zero if you Google "Thatcher" and "You're just picking on me because I'm a woman." Instead they used the appeals men used: stronger leadership, better ideas, a superior philosophy.
You know where I'm going, for you know where she went. Hillary Clinton complained again this week that sexism has been a major dynamic in her unsuccessful bid for political dominance. She is quoted by the Washington Post's Lois Romano decrying the "sexist" treatment she received during the campaign, and the "incredible vitriol that has been engendered" by those who are "nothing but misogynists." The New York Times reported she told sympathetic bloggers in a conference call that she is saddened by the "mean-spiritedness and terrible insults" that have been thrown "at you, for supporting me, and at women in general."
Where to begin? One wants to be sympathetic to Mrs. Clinton at this point, if for no other reason than to show one's range. But her last weeks have been, and her next weeks will likely be, one long exercise in summoning further denunciations. It is something new in politics, the How Else Can I Offend You Tour. And I suppose it is aimed not at voters -- you don't persuade anyone by complaining in this way, you only reinforce what your supporters already think -- but at history, at the way history will tell the story of the reasons for her loss.
So, to address the charge that sexism did her in:
It is insulting, because it asserts that those who supported someone else this year were driven by low prejudice and mindless bias.
It is manipulative, because it asserts that if you want to be understood, both within the community and in the larger brotherhood of man, to be wholly without bias and prejudice, you must support Mrs. Clinton.
This is a very difficult primary period for Democrats who eat up identity politics. They are torn between being not sexist and not racist. It is not surprising that Obama is winning given this split. Racism is a far more powerful charge than sexism. Plus, Obama has got the overwhelming support of blacks who are clear that they should support their own above all else.
Still, Hillary has done very well among white voters. Does anyone have a good source of the demographic breakdown of all votes in Democratic primaries in this election season? My impression is that Obama does well in states that have very few blacks and large numbers of blacks but not in states in between. The higher the black portion of the population in a state the more the whites vote for Hillary. But has Hillary won a majority of the white vote overall?
Hillary has tried to have it both ways: to batten on her husband's nostalgic popularity while simultaneously claiming to be a victim of sexism.
Well, which is it? Are men convenient sugar daddies or condescending oppressors?
As her presidential hopes have begun to evaporate, Hillary has upped the ante in the crusading feminist department. Her surrogates are beating the grievance drums, trying to scare every angry female out of the bush.
From that rag-tag crew, she will build her army. Let the red flags fly! Hillary is positioning herself as the Crucified One, betrayed, mocked, flogged, and shunted aside for the cause of Ultimate Womanhood. But doesn't this saccharine melodrama undermine the central goals of feminism?
Maybe men are condescending oppressor sugar daddies?
Will President Obama complain much? His stump speeches are all very uplifting and cheery. But once in power and fighting daily battles can he sustain the positive tone he's primarily used so far?
"Comprehensive immigration reform" is Washington DC code-speak for immigration amnesty. Well, speaking in Silicon Valley John McCain renewed his support for immigration amnesty.
UNION CITY - Republican presidential candidate John McCain joined Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in calling today for comprehensive immigration reform, including guest worker visas to bring employees to California's Silicon Valley and the state's vast agricultural fields.
The two men brought up the issue at McCain's prompting during a global competitiveness roundtable featuring California technology executives and entrepreneurs.
Is Obama as thoroughly as bad as McCain on immigration?
McCain wants to recruit the best and the brightest into farm fields.
McCain said they should be allowed to seek legal status in a "humane and comprehensive fashion" through a program "they can count on and trust."
Responding to a question about so-called H1-B visas for Silicon Valley workers, McCain said: "We have to attract the best and brightest minds. It isn't just H1-B visas. In our agricultural sector, they can't find workers as well. We need a temporary agriculture (worker) program."
He's arguing that we can't afford to pay decent wages to farm field workers. He's arguing that we can't automate much of the work. No, we need to bring in large numbers of foreign peasants to live in poverty and do lots of manual work.
McCain repeated his line about illegal immigrants being "God's children" — one he's been using since he openly backed comprehensive reform, and one that aims to mollify his base. (The board likes it too.) So far, it's unclear whether he chimed in when Schwarzenegger voiced his support for driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.
It's also notable that he went further than his Silicon Valley interlocutors asked him to go — they were focusing on a relatively small segment of the immigrant population (temporary skilled workers) that's easier, politically, to support. But McCain extended his answer to include agricultural workers and even said "comprehensive" — seen as a synonym for amnesty in some parts.
Yes, "comprehensive" means amnesty.
A friend of mine has a saying that comes to mind "There's no stopping the invincibly ignorant". Diana West tries to take on the latest foolish natterings of the most powerful person in the world.
Don't know why I bother. The man is leaving office in eight months; his presidency noticeably marked by the uneven tread of the lame duck. But so long as George W. Bush is commander in chief, there remains something mesmerizing about the way he seems to experience his momentous tenure virtually unscratched, even ungrazed, by his many brushes (collisions) with history.
I'm not suggesting callousness on his part regarding American casualties in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; or regarding American civilian casualties due to Islamic terrorism. I think he feels such losses very deeply. In fact, I think he feels everything very deeply. Whether the subject is his feelings about Mexican illegal aliens, the war in Iraq or on-off Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, I think Bush's presidency, at its base, has been an emotional presidency, more gut-driven and temporal than attuned to anything like that sweep of history you hear about.
I point this out on reading the president's remarks in Israel to mark the 60th anniversary of the nation's statehood.
"I suspect," Bush said, "if you looked back 60 years ago and tried to guess where Israel would be at that time, it would be hard to be able to project such a prosperous, hopeful land. No question people would have said, well, we'd be surrounded by hostile forces -- but I doubt people would have been able to see the modern Israel, which is one reason I bring such optimism to the Middle East, because what happened here is possible everywhere."
How to even respond to this? Yes, Israel proved that the rock formations (or, if you prefer, Bedu dogs or carpets) in the Middle East didn't prevent democracy from developing there. But Israel doesn't have a lot of oil underneath it. What we need is for the Israelis to invade the oil provinces of Saudi Arabia, drive out most of the Saudi Arabians (if only Menachem Begin were still around to help), and then establish a democracy there too. Then we could find out whether oil reserves do not prevent formation of a democracy either.
It is really hard to know how to react to such blatant foolishness spoken by the most powerful guy on the planet. Maybe Dubya wants us to come up with ways to translate his vision into reality. After all, he's a big picture man. Well, okay, I think I have an idea: Raise Ashkenazi Jewish fertility rate so that the number of smart Ashkenazi Jews becomes so large that they can colonize the entire Middle East. They will bring their optimistic support for democracy into every country they conquer. Already today Israeli Arabs live in a democracy with a free press because they live under the rule of Israeli Jews. Mind you, those Israeli Arabs deeply resent being ruled by Jews. But they have democracy in spite of those resentments. Of course, it is a democracy that doesn't respect their wishes and they are pretty powerless in the Israeli political process. But to big picture man Bush that democracy is all that matters.
Diana West says Bush wants to believe that Israel has created an easily replicable democracy franchise.
To President Bush, though, the un-Islamic conditions culminating in an anti-Islamic event -- 60 years of infidel liberty -- constitute a pre-fab democracy franchise that might just as easily have opened up in Riyadh or Baghdad as in Tel Aviv. I think he sees it this way because, emotionally, he wants to see it this way.
This nonsense from a sitting President of the United States is one of the consequences of the big American taboo on realistic discussion about human genetic differences in cognitive function. That taboo has gradually stretched out to quash rational discussion of genetic, cultural, and religious differences between the peoples of the world. So we are left with a US President mouthing delusions about how democracy in Israel represents a model for the rest of the world.
An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal reports on economics researchers at Princeton University who believe market bubbles are caused by conditions that allow the optimists to get the upper hand in driving up asset prices.
Mr. Hong, who came to Princeton two years later, and now is 37, argues that big innovations lead to big differences of opinion between bullish and bearish investors. But the deck is stacked in favor of the optimists.
One who believes a stock is too high can short it, borrowing shares and selling them in hopes of replacing them when they're cheaper. But this can be costly, both in the fees and in the risk of huge losses if the stock keeps rising. Many big investors rarely short stocks. When differences between bullish investors and bearish ones are extreme, many of the bears simply move to the sidelines. Then, with only optimists playing, prices go higher and higher.
Look at Warren Buffett. He's an investment genius. But he rarely tries to make money on falling markets. Bubbles seem like a sign of inefficiency in markets due to flaws in human cognitive processing.
Now Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke recruited many of these researchers while he was at Princeton. So Bernanke obviously understands we are dealing with the popping of yet another bubble.
The debt taken on to drive up prices of assets means that when the downturn comes previously optimistic investors are forced to sell by their needs to raise money to service debt obligations. That makes the downward path steeper than the upturn that preceded it.
At some point in a bubble, optimists' enthusiasm runs its course. Prices turn down. There's an expectation that at this point, investors who were skeptical may see prices as more reasonable and start buying. If they don't, that's a signal that prices had gotten way too high -- and then they tumble.
The insights of bearish investors "are more likely to be flushed out through the trading process when the market is falling, as opposed to when it's rising," Mr. Hong and Harvard's Jeremy Stein write. They say this explains why prices fall more rapidly than they go up. Over 60 years, nine of the 10 biggest one-day percentage moves in the S&P 500 were down.
When a lot of borrowed money is involved -- as it often is in a bubble -- once prices peak, the speed of their fall is intensified as investors sell urgently to pay down debt. That pattern offers a strong argument, in Mr. Hong's view, for government to restrain bubbles and the borrowing that fuels them.
Bubbles can turn a profit for those who do not believe the Panglossian rhetoric of bubble boosters. During the 1990s dot com tech bubble some hedge funds skillfully played both the run-up and the collapse of tech stock prices.
Looking through security filings, Mr. Brunnermeier and Stanford's Stefan Nagel found that hedge funds on the whole "skillfully anticipated price peaks" in individual tech stocks, cutting back before prices collapsed and shifting into other tech stocks that were still rising. Hedge funds' overall exposure to tech stocks peaked in September 1999, six months before the stocks peaked. They rode the bubble higher and got out close to the right time.
Unfortunately the high commodity prices of today do not show signs of being part of a commodities bubble. So we aren't going to get back to cheaper commodity prices just by hitting the limits of a bubble.
Today, there's disagreement over commodity prices: to what extent do they reflect fundamentals like Chinese demand, and to what extent investment mania? Trading points toward a bubble: Daily volume on crude-oil contracts is running 50% above last year. Yet the initial findings of work Mr. Hong has done with Motohiro Yogo of the Wharton School -- comparing cash prices and futures prices -- suggest that "prices for commodities are expensive," but not a bubble, Mr. Hong says.
Richard Kahlenberg observes that it would be politically savvy of Barack Obama to embrace a shift toward class-based affirmative action and that the logic of several things his said over the years seems to point in this direction. I tend to think so as well, and have been hopeful that this might happen at some point, but then I read this Noam Scheiber article focused on another topic and saw this graf:The run-up to South Carolina was rife with talk that post-racial Obama was morphing into a decidedly pre-post-racial candidate. To reverse the slide, blogger Mickey Kaus suggested he give a speech embracing class- rather than race-based affirmative action, something Obama had flirted with in the past. Kaus had a point: The atmospherics would have been irresistible to ambivalent whites. I pushed a milder form of the idea on my own blog. Not long after, I got a response from an Obama adviser: Never gonna happen. Urging Sister Souljah politicking on him was the surest way to provoke a scowl.
Why in the world is "Never gonna happen" surprising?
"Never gonna happen" was obvious from Obama's 1995 autobiography. It's his story of "race and inheritance."
He's devoted what part of his career that he has spared from self-promotion to using political power to take from whites and give to blacks: becoming a black organizer, running a black voter registration drive, joining an anti-discrimination law firm, and running in mostly black districts on black concerns.
American white people are going to elect a black man to govern them who thinks his own race deserves the fruits of their labor.
Let's also be clear that anybody who thinks a class-based system of affirmative action will lead to anything like the current level of representation of blacks in elite institutions is living in a dreamland. The bottom ten percent of white students in socio-economic status score as high or higher on the SAT than the top 10 percent of blacks in socioeconomic status.
The huge little secret of affirmative action is that the African-Americans who benefit from it tend to come the upper levels of American society. Dumping a race-based system for a class-based system would benefit whites overwhelmingly.
Heck, as Lani Guinier and Henry Louis Gates have been complaining for years, a majority of blacks at Harvard are only pseudo-African Americans, of recent white or immigrant background -- like Obama. Or Guinier, for that matter (she's half Jamaican-half Jewish and looks like Gilda Radner), but she's honest about it). The descendants of American slaves are mostly out of luck at getting into Harvard already. Under a class-based system, affirmative action beneficiaries like Michelle Obama would be totally swamped by smarter, harder working white and Asian kids from the same lower-middle class background as her.
Obama's wife has been in the affirmative action racket for years, running various well-paid "diversity" programs at the U. of Chicago medical center. So, Sen. Obama knows exactly how little affirmative action does for poor blacks; he knows how it's a payoff for affluent blacks like, say, the Obamas.
The idea that Obama would divert this gravytrain is ridiculous. The only reason he ever feints in the direction of non-racial quotas is because he knows how ridiculous affirmative action for the rich sounds to the naive public.
When Barack Obama was elected to the US Senate this greatly increased Michelle's worth in the racial preferences shakedown market. Her salary shortly went from $122k to $317k. In spite of this (or because of this) Michelle Obama has resentment toward white folks.
We are going to have an interesting next 4 years.
Mention the words “vote buying” and modern-day political villains Jack Abramoff and Tony Rezko probably come to mind, or perhaps special interest groups that donate to a politician’s campaign and expect support when relevant bills come to vote. It may shock American sensibilities to learn that, in an economic sense, our votes are bought with every election in the form of campaign promises that are paid later at a cost to the voter in the form of taxes. While the Tammany Hall era of beer and sandwiches campaigns has passed, campaign promises are a central strategy in securing voters in the center of the electorate. In a daring new article for the Journal of Political Economy, “Vote Buying: General Elections,” economists Eddie Dekel (Tel Aviv and Northwestern), Matthew O. Jackson (Stanford), and Asher Wolinsky (Northwestern) explore a theoretical voting system where, in addition to the already accepted campaign promises, votes can be bought and sold, free of stigma. Election strategy is often compared to strategic games, and Dekel and his co-authors provide the model for calculating the economics of the various forms of vote buying. In doing so, they shed light on the economics of our approaching general election.
Building on work showing a correlation between the decline of direct vote buying and the rise of government spending on social programs, Dekel and his co-authors look at the mechanics of different vote buying strategies and calculate the economic costs of both systems by imagining a scenario where both systems are allowed without moral weight given to either side. In this model, the politician may either guarantee a vote through an up-front payment or make a campaign promise of a later pay-off, with no guarantee of a later vote. The authors find that direct vote buying tends to involve only a small outlay of money and a small group of people. On the other hand, “when parties compete only through campaign promises, the total payments received by voters tend to be substantially higher than under up-front vote buying.” The authors also found that “when parties compete only through campaign promises, the voters whose preferences matter are a specific subset …near the median voter,” whereas a simple bought vote requires no commitment after the election and does not consider voter preference at any point.
Worse yet, we have to hear politicians posture and represent their vote buying as righting great moral wrongs. Have any of you heard Barack Obama's stump speech where he talks about education as the passport for opportunity?
When I say solutions, I mean giving children of all backgrounds access to world-class education. Education must remain the passport to opportunity. We'll start with universal pre-kindergarten. We'll go all the way to affordable college. And I will end the unfunded mandate known as No Child Left Behind.
While No Child Left Behind is an unfunded mandate you might think he'd be for it as a way to raise up blacks to a higher level of academic and economic achievement. So then does Obama not really believe that black scholastic achievement can equal white scholastic achievement?
When I say that I want to make sure that every child gets the best education this country has to offer from the day they are born until the day they graduate from college, investing in early childhood education to close the achievement gap, paying our teachers more and giving them more support, and giving a $4,000 tuition credit to every student every year in exchange for national service so that we invest in them and they invest in America, we need to let the American people know that it is not just rhetoric.
The so-called "national service" will reduce the productivity of anyone roped into it. Better these young folks get into the private sector and start learning how to do productive wealth-generating work.
Tuition credits: So far more money thrown at college has just raised tuition. Higher demand translates into higher prices. The very labor intensive and low productivity industry called higher education will waste as much resources as governments and private individuals will throw at it. The real solution to higher education costs is to automate. Make video feeds of pre-recorded college lectures cheaply available (and they can be cheap since a single lecture can be watched by tens and hundreds of thousands of people). Deliver tests via automated web forms.
Policies designed to cut costs (rather than to subsidize buying of educational services) do not lend themselves well to vote buying. Hence you won't hear Barack Obama on the stump arguing for policies that will end up laying off lots of college professors (who vote for him).
On the southern border of the United States lies country we are expected to respect. But Mexico is a monumentally messed up place.
NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico -- The job offer was tempting.
It was printed on a 16-foot-wide banner and strung above one of the busiest roads here, calling out to any "soldier or ex-soldier."
"We're offering you a good salary, food and medical care for your families," it said in block letters.
But there was a catch: The employer was Los Zetas, a notorious Gulf cartel hit squad formed by elite Mexican army deserters. The group even included a phone number for job seekers that linked to a voice mailbox.
Our elites resist creating a formidable border barrier to stop illegal entries from this country.
The article reports that Mexico's military has suffered over 100,000 desertions in the last 8 years. Some of those deserters who signed up with the cartels were trained at Fort Benning Georgia.
WASHINGTON — As many as 200 U.S.-trained Mexican security personnel have defected to drug cartels to carry out killings on both sides of the border and as far north as Dallas, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, told Congress on Wednesday.
The renegade members of Mexico's elite counter-narcotics teams trained at Fort Benning, Ga., have switched sides, contributing to a wave of violence that has claimed some 6,000 victims over the past 30 months, including prominent law enforcement leaders, the Houston-area Republican told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Your tax dollars help to raise the level of professionalism in the private drug armies. When those forces cross over into the United States on protection details or other operations they operate more efficiently and competently because the US Army trained them.
MEXICO CITY — With the U.S. Congress debating whether to send hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for Mexico's crackdown on drug cartels, American officials said Wednesday that three Mexican police chiefs have sought asylum north of the border in fear for their lives.
Jayson Ahern, the deputy commissioner for Customs and Border Enforcement, told the Associated Press that the officials had sought asylum "in the past few months."
Citing privacy issues, Ahern did not identify the police. A senior Homeland Security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the asylum requests to the Houston Chronicle but provided no details. "They're basically abandoned by their police officers or police departments in many cases," Ahern said in Washington.
The police chief in Puerto Palomas, a town bordering Columbus, N.M., west of El Paso, requested asylum in March when his entire force quit after receiving death threats from drug traffickers, reports show. Seven men were killed gangland-style in Palomas early Sunday in attacks attributed to local smugglers.
Mexico is so dangerous for police that Mexican police chiefs (at least those not owned by organized crime organizations) can make a very credible claim when they seek asylum to escape death. The BBC notes how unusual it is that government officials seek asylum to get away from non-government actors.
Seeking political asylum is, of course, usually associated with individuals fleeing persecution from governments and their forces of law and order, but in Mexico it seems it is the forces of law and order that are being persecuted.
In recent weeks, at least six senior police chiefs have been murdered.
The most prominent murder was that of Mr Millan, the acting head of Mexico's Federal Police Force (PFP).
You can drive from the United States over a border into a country with massive government corruption, private armies, and where top law enforcement officials are getting assassinated and police chiefs are crossing over to ask for asylum after their staffs abandon their posts. Congress resists protecting us from all of this.
Senator McCain obviously doesn't want you to see the Iraq war as a reason to vote against him. But he's not absolutely sure that the US can end the fight in Iraq in 5 years. By contrast, I'm certain 5 more years of fighting in Iraq is a waste.
McCain, in a speech delivered in Columbus, Ohio, set forth a sweeping, extraordinarily positive vision of what he said the world would look like in 2013, when he says he will have been in the White House for four years - so positive that Democrats immediately derided it as clearly unrealistic.
"By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure," McCain said. "The Iraq war has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy" and "violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced."
The United States, McCain added, "maintains a military presence there, but a much smaller one, and it does not play a direct combat role." During his primary battle, McCain frequently accused his rival Mitt Romney of setting a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq, a charge the former Massachusetts governor denied.
McCain later insisted to reporters that his speech should not be interpreted as setting a date for withdrawal, and that he was simply projecting victory.
McCain is a loser unless some big surprise changes the balance of forces so heavily favoring Obama at this point. The economy by itself is enough to elect a Democrat as President in the 2008 election. The unpopular war in Iraq is just icing on the cake. Obama's biggest liability is his past writings on the overwhelming central importance of his black identity. But I think he's safe from that because McCain and the press aren't going to challenge him on it. You can read more realistic views of Obama if you want to. But he's headed for the Presidency of the United States of America.
I hope there are some upsides from Obama's election. Will he get us out of Iraq within 4 years? I hope so.
Cedar Rapids, Ia. – The number of illegal immigrants detained Monday in Postville has risen to 390 in what federal officials now describe as the largest single-site raid of its kind nationwide.
The detainees include 314 men and 76 women, according to figures released this morning by federal authorities. Fifty-six detainees – mostly women with young children – have been released under the supervision of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
My own reaction is that since millions of illegal aliens are within US borders and easy to identify the size of this raid is much too small.
How did a few Ukranians and Israelis get jobs in this plant?
The detainees included 290 who claimed to be Guatemalans, 93 Mexicans, three Israelis and four Ukrainians.
Use of labor that is outside the legal system is a temptation for abusive behavior.
Dummermuth declined to comment about possible charges against managers at Agriprocessors, Inc., citing the ongoing investigation. A federal affidavit released Monday detailed several eyewitness accounts of employee abuse, including one floor manager who allegedly struck a worker with a meat hook.
Will President Obama cut back on immigration law enforcement? Anyone have a good basis for answering that question?
Bill Clinton is no longer revered as the "first black president." Tavis Smiley's rapid-fire commentaries on a popular radio show have been silenced. And the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., self-described defender of the black church, has been derided by many on the Web as an old man who needs to "step off."
They all landed in the black community's doghouse after being viewed as endangering Sen. Barack Obama's chances of being elected president. And the community's desire to protect the first African American ever to be in this position may only grow with his win in North Carolina and his close loss in Indiana this week.
Once Obama is in the White House race relations in America will get really interesting. Will blacks stay as protective toward Obama as they are now? Or will they shift their focus toward criticism of Obama when Obama fails to substantially raise up their status and living standards? How is this going to play out? Does anyone have a guess?
More generally, will the Obama presidency increase or decrease inter-racial animosity? Will the debate over racial preferences intensify? Will Obama manage to increase racial preferences enforcement actions in the courts?
Writing for the Wall Street Journal George Anders argues rising student loan default rates suggest America is in an "education bubble".
Has the U.S. created an "education bubble" fueled by easy money and overborrowing by families desperate to pay rising tuition costs?
Expect a hastily sputtered "no way" from economists, university officials and student-lending specialists. They attach a high monetary value to academic degrees, no matter how fast tuition rises. As proof, they cite the big and growing income gap between college graduates and people with just a high-school degree.
The problem with the income gap measurement: Other qualities of college attendees are responsible for much of it:
People who have the smarts, discipline, and motivation for success are going to do better regardless of whether they go to college. Granted, some college attendees learn some useful skills in college. But a lot of people earn their livings doing things unrelated to almost everything they learned in college.
This bursting financial bubble is a positive development which will cause less demand for education and hence limit tuition increases. Higher educational institutions waste huge amounts of resources. Some market discipline will force them to cut costs. Student loan providers are getting hit by rising defaults and even bankruptcies.
First Marblehead Corp. shares fell sharply Friday after the student-loan services provider reported a quarterly loss, as the market for bundles of loans stayed frozen.
The Boston company's stock dropped 25 cents, or 7 percent, to $3.47 in afternoon trading. In the past year, it has ranged from $3.12 to $42.50.
Bank of America decided to stop doing business with First Marblehead after private loan insurer The Education Resources Institute (TERI) filed for bankruptcy. First Marblehead now has lots of risks that it can't push off on an insurer. JPMorgan Chase looks likely to follow Bank of America and cut off First Marblehead dealings as well. First Marblehead just reported a $229.6 million loss.
Students in the United States have lost access to more than $6.7 billion a year in education loans since private lenders fled the market, spurring schools including Pennsylvania State University and Northeastern University to turn to the Education Department's Direct Loan Program.
Hardest hit by the nation's economic woes is the single cheapest education loan, the 5 percent Perkins loan. Colleges surveyed by U.S. News said they are cutting the number and size of Perkins loans they offer students by anywhere from 10 to 50 percent.
And dozens of lenders who offered comparatively good deals on the 6.8 percent student Stafford loans and 8.5 percent parent plus loans last year have stopped making loans entirely. Surprisingly, at least a dozen lenders have also stopped making private loans, too, even though they can charge market rates that cover their costs. "I cannot get anybody to finance any alternative loans," says René Drouin of the New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation.
We need to move toward more automated ways to deliver educational services. Lectures should be pre-recorded. Tests should be delivered via automated web interfaces. Labor productivity in education is abysmally low and that needs to change. Tying up lots of smart people as college professors wastes a dwindling pool of smart people who would be better used in industry.
Whatever you think about Scientology, you have to wonder about the Church's treatment by the German state.
In December, Germany's interior ministers said they considered the religion to be "not compatible with the constitution." Yesterday, an AP story reported that the German Scientologists have dropped a legal battle to keep the country's intelligence services from monitoring its activities. What is Germany so afraid of?
German officials have categorized Scientology as a business, not a religion, and tax accordingly. Scientology has responded by complaining about "religious discrimination."
The German government has a much easier time opposing Scientology that Islam because Germany has orders of magnitude more Muslims than Scientologists inside its borders and the Scientologists do not control governments of trading partners. But if the German government wanted to look out for the interests of the German people it would focus much more on reducing the Muslim presence and put less effort into the much smaller threat from Scientology.
SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia, May 4 -- Bolivia's wealthiest region voted Sunday to distance itself from the central government, directly defying President Evo Morales with a measure that aims to give local authorities more power over resources.
Morales had urged his supporters to ignore the referendum, but turnout was unofficially reported at 61 percent. Multiple exit polls suggested Sunday about 85 percent of Santa Cruz voters voted in favor of the proposal, but final results were not expected before Monday.
The measure directs Santa Cruz authorities -- mainly business leaders who detest Morales's socialist initiatives -- to take more control of locally produced tax revenue, police forces and property ownership administration.
The Santa Cruz voters would be better off if Bolivia split into two pieces.
On the second page of the article the Washington Post reporter mentions the racial split that is at the heart of this political conflict.
Like Morales, many of those protesters were born in the country's western highlands and claim Aymara or Quechua Indian ancestry. Many autonomy leaders, however, are of European descent.
The more economically productive Euroes do not want to get shafted by the Amerinds. Bummer for the Euro Bolivians. Being members of a more successful group can set you up for persecution unless you are the overwhelming majority.
But 62% of Bolivia's population are Amerinds and the whites are best understood as a market dominant minority as explained in Amy Chua's World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability.
Surely a model for America's Latin American demographic future, walls and gated communities bring peace and prosperity to Iraq.
Baghdad - There is big excitement on al-Marifah Street. City workers are installing a new transformer to bring power to a part of the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Saidiyah that hasn't been on the city's electrical grid for more than a year.
"A year ago, dead bodies lay on this street for days; no one dared to pick them up. But now we are getting lights and shops have opened back up," says Mahdi Jabbar Falah, a 40-year resident who has just moved himself and his family of nine back to their house. They fled last year after Mr. Jabbar received a bullet in an envelope, a sure sign he was on someone's hit list.
"Last year, this was a ghost town," he says, "but now I feel we are alive again."
If you are young do not choose a low paying occupation. Don't spend years trying to earn a Ph.D. to then work as a post doc and then an assistant professor. You need to think in terms of the walled gated community once America's lower classes swell up and come to define the national culture. The walls make for a much better lifestyle as the Iraqis can surely attest. Learn lessons from this war.
Saidiyah is one of the many neighborhoods and towns in and around Baghdad that residents abandoned during the worst of the sectarian violence. Officials there estimate that more than half the area's 60,000 people moved out. Now, many are moving back and the trucks overflowing with household goods coming through al-Marifah Street attest to that.
But there has been a price to pay: Saidiyah is now surrounded by a 12-foot-tall concrete wall, a barrier that the US military completed four months ago. Long lines of cars await inspection by the Iraqi Army at the town's one public entrance, while pedestrians submit to a pat-down.
One guy in the article claims the walls do not bother him since he can't see them from his house. Well there, I hadn't thought of it that way. If you can see in advance where the walls will go up around your community the good real estate play is to buy at a location that won't be in eyesight of the walls. You heard it here first.
Even those with medical insurance are feeling pinched by rising medical costs (unless you just don't get sick).
Since the recession of 2001, the employee’s average cost of an annual health care premium for family coverage has nearly doubled — to $3,300, up from $1,800 — while incomes have come nowhere close to keeping up. Factor in other out-of-pocket medical costs, and the portion of the average American household’s income that goes toward health care has risen about 12 percent, according to the consulting and accounting firm Deloitte, and is now approaching one-fifth of the average household’s spending.
In a recent survey by Deloitte’s health research center, only 7 percent of people said they felt financially prepared for their future health care needs.
My own take on it is that you have to get rich in order to be able to handle a severe future health problem. The more you can save up the better.
An interesting graph of consumer spending on food, housing, medical care, and clothing from 1929 till today shows that medical care now surpasses each of those other 3 categories in percentage of consumer income spent on it. Clothing and shoes have declined from over 10% to 3.6%. Food has declined from 30% in the 1950s to 13.1%. Housing is now at 14.4%. But medical care has risen from a few percent to 16.6%, surpassing the other 3 categories.
Part of this change is due to more treatments becoming available. The article relays the anecdote of a guy spending $400 per month on drugs for congestive heart failure. Well, those drugs didn't exist 40-50-60 years ago. You just got various maladies, suffered without treatment, and died.
Another change: declining costs for food and clothing freed up money to spend on other things even as incomes rose. People spend more on medical care because they have the money to spend.
The desire on the part of everyone to get the best health care possible is probably the strongest force pushing for a bigger welfare state today. Demographic trends in the US seem likely to intensify that push as a growing lower class of lower IQ people can't earn enough to pay for the time of much higher IQ medical services providers. Taxes end up as the tool by which the lower IQ folks get the buying power to get time from higher IQ people.
One of the reasons I expect US economic growth to slow stems from a growing use of taxes to shift more higher IQ people into service provider jobs for lower IQ people. People who provide services are not available to do research, product design, factory design, product development, and other work that creates new sources of wealth. This is probably one of the reasons why Smart Fraction Theory (and its refinement) seems to work.
We need to automate the provision of medical services so that higher IQ people spend less time delivering services and more time developing new products and services.
Update: The amount American consumers spend on energy is now about half what they spend on food. Consumers are going to have to trade off. Eat meat or drive a big car and go on long trips?
In the past three months, average consumer spending on energy came to $663 billion, or 6.5 percent of total consumer spending, according to Moody's Economy.com. A year ago, it represented 5.8 percent and in 2002, it was 4.1 percent of their spending. "If gasoline breaks through $4 a gallon by Memorial Day, that would mean spending on gasoline would have risen by $100 billion since the beginning of the year, or roughly the size of the tax rebate checks going out," says Mr. Zandi. "The rebate checks are going to pay for filling up our tank."
How will people weigh medical spending versus gasoline? Gasoline seems easier to cut back on. Get a smaller car. Take fewer optional driving trips
With the price shock of 2007-08, spending on energy as a share of wage income has shot up above 6%, topping the 1974-75 and 1990-91 shocks to be the worst since the 1980-81 runup. Comparing the additional cost of energy to income growth (especially sluggish in recent years), the current shock is far worse than any of the three prior ones, Mr. Carson says.
With US attention focused on insurgencies in Iraq Yemen has let go all the people involved in the attack on the USS Cole.
ADEN, Yemen -- Almost eight years after al-Qaeda nearly sank the USS Cole with an explosives-stuffed motorboat, killing 17 sailors, all the defendants convicted in the attack have escaped from prison or been freed by Yemeni officials.
Jamal al-Badawi, a Yemeni who helped organize the plot to bomb the Cole as it refueled in this Yemeni port on Oct. 12, 2000, has broken out of prison twice. He was recaptured both times, but then secretly released by the government last fall. Yemeni authorities jailed him again after receiving complaints from Washington. But U.S. officials have so little faith that he's still in his cell that they have demanded the right to perform random inspections.
I bet the US government issues visas to Yemenis who want to visit or go to school in the US and that we even get some Yemeni immigrants.
Part of the blame probably belongs on the Bush Administration for not maintaining pressure on our enemy the government of Yemen.
"During the first part of the Bush administration, no one was willing to take ownership of this," said Roger W. Cressey, a former counterterrorism official in the Clinton and Bush administrations who helped oversee the White House's response to the Cole attack. "It didn't happen on their watch. It was the forgotten attack."
The Bush Administration couldn't even maintain enough forces to hunt down Al Qaeda stragglers in Afghanistan. Iraq beckoned after all.
We should keep Muslims out of the West. We should also very aggressively go after terrorist groups that attack us.
Update: In the comments Brent Lane points to a US government web page which shows 70 Yemenis won US visas through our mind bogglingly foolish diversity lottery. So did 4392 Egyptians. Wonder if any of Mohammed Atta's relatives or friends were among the lucky winners. More Yemenis than Finns came up winners. Can someone explain how this isn't just an incredibly stupid idea for a policy?
Christians and secularists are minorities in French prisons. Imagine their fate should they become minorities in France as a whole.
This prison is majority Muslim -- as is virtually every house of incarceration in France. About 60 to 70 percent of all inmates in the country's prison system are Muslim, according to Muslim leaders, sociologists and researchers, though Muslims make up only about 12 percent of the country's population.
On a continent where immigrants and the children of immigrants are disproportionately represented in almost every prison system, the French figures are the most marked, according to researchers, criminologists and Muslim leaders.
Sociologists predictably blame whitey for racism. I blame whitey too, but for a different reason: the French were foolish enough to let in all those Muslims in the first place.
Muslims commit disproportionate amounts of crime throughout Europe.
In Britain, 11 percent of prisoners are Muslim in contrast to about 3 percent of all inhabitants, according to the Justice Ministry. Research by the Open Society Institute, an advocacy organization, shows that in the Netherlands 20 percent of adult prisoners and 26 percent of all juvenile offenders are Muslim; the country is about 5.5 percent Muslim. In Belgium, Muslims from Morocco and Turkey make up at least 16 percent of the prison population, compared with 2 percent of the general populace, the research found.
Here is how Washington Post writer Molly Moore came across this story. This might be news to the Washington Post. The French government tries to hide it and provides no official figures. But see my July 2005 post Muslims Said To Make Up 70% Of Prisoners In France and my December 2004 post Most Prisoners In France Are Muslim.
Muslims see themselves as believing a religion that gives them the right and duty to rule the world. At the same time, the Muslims find themselves living in societies where non-Muslims are far more successful. So they have resentment and jealousy. The achievement gap can't be closed. The IQ differences between European and Muslim countries and the accumulated body of IQ research on genetic contributions to IQ make these differences in achievement likely to last for generations until genetic engineering can boost IQ of lower IQ populations.
But there is a solution: Send the Muslims back to societies where they can feel more equal. This will make France much safer for the French and for the rest of us when we visit France. Shouldn't the French government's top priority be the safety and well-being of the French people? Isn't the French government failing to carry out its responsibilities toward the French people?
Update: A reader argues in email that boosting the IQs of Muslims might not make them less Muslim and more liberal. Smart people of an opposing point of view would pose a bigger threat than dumb ones who disagree with you.
I think it fair to say we do not know what offspring genetic engineering is going to do to change political leanings. More than IQ is involved in determining genetic predispositions to believe various viewpoints. As I've argued elsewhere, some religiously devout people could even choose genetic variations for their offspring that make them more likely to unquestioningly accept the beliefs they are taught. Also, other genetic variations might make a person more likely to hold strong moral beliefs or to be more easily morally outraged.
The safe and prudent thing to do when faced with immigrants who are hostile to your way of life is to keep them out. Do not engage in triumphalist wishful thinking about the power of your culture to transform them to your political, moral, or religious persuasion.