2010 August 30 Monday
Muslim Bounty Hunters For Forced Marriages In UK

A Muslim taxi cab driver in Great Britain does his part to prevent assimilation and maintain the multi-cultural flavor in Bradford. He uses his taxi driver network of information to track down girls who are trying to escape forced marriages.

On the face of it, Zakir was simply a veteran taxi driver and a popular member of the community in Bradford. Few customers would have realised that behind his bubbly exterior he provided another, much more sinister service. For around £5,000, Zakir would track down women and girls who had run away from home to escape a forced marriage. A bounty hunter, Zakir's mission was to bring them back to their families.

While most locals in the tightly knit south Asian community thought Zakir was merely picking up and dropping off passengers each day, his work provided perfect cover to exploit his contacts with fellow drivers and shopkeepers to hunt down runaway teenagers. According to Zakir, some bounty hunters would also befriend officials in housing departments and in the Department for Work and Pensions to get National Insurance numbers – a strategy confirmed by campaigners against forced marriages.

Forced marriages? Well, 15 year old girls can't make their own decisions. Their parents are the only responsible parties who know which cousin makes the best match. If the British want to enjoy the benefits of multiculturalism then they've got accept forced marriage. Only if the British want to defend their own cultural legacy should they try to stop this sort of thing. Since they aren't trying to stop Muslim cousin marriage I can only conclude they want their own culture to get snuffed out. I'm sure Barack Obama would approve.

In Bradford 75% of Pakistanis are married to first cousins. Hey, they aren't all getting divorced or spending their time getting picked up in bars for one night stands. Nope, marrying their cousins. I bet they are making lots of babies too. Wombs determine the future of the world.

Baroness Deech, a family law professor and crossbencher, will call next week for a “vigorous” public campaign to deter the practice, which is prevalent in Muslim and immigrant communities and on the rise. She will reignite a debate started five years ago when Ann Cryer, MP for Keighley, drew attention to the number of disabled babies being born in the town and called for cousin marriage to be stopped.

Baroness Deech is fighting an uphill battle. The British aren't going to wake up tomorrow and try to save their nation from decay.

Fifty-five per cent of British Pakistanis are married to first cousins and in Bradford the figure is 75 per cent. British Pakistanis represent 3 per cent of all births in Britain but one third of children with recessive disorders.

British Members of Parliament who represent Muslims do not want to talk about the problem. Democracy is failing.

Of course it is possible to put many positive spins on the Muslims in Bradford. For example, cousin marriage in Turkey causes many forms of mental retardation in patterns that are useful for scientific researchers looking for genes involved in brain development. So cousin marriage can be used for medical research. Bet you didn't know that.

Plus, you know a lot of Republicans make a big deal of family values right? Well, cousin marriage makes family events warm and cozy. Okay, so some of the people at these events are mentally retarded. But we are supposed to celebrate the differently abled, right? Bradford UK seems like a great site for an International Special Olympics. You read it here first.

Such unions are seen as strong, building as they do on already tight family networks.

"You have an understanding," explains Neila Butt, who married her first cousin, Farooq, nine years ago.

"Family events are really nice because my in-laws and his are related," she says.

"You have the same family history and when you talk about the old times either here or in Pakistan you know who you are talking about. It's just a nicer emotional feel."

British leaders of an earlier era probably would have stomped on this.

Everybody knows everybody else because they are all related in so many ways. What problems could that cause? These are moderate Muslims. Very few of them try to blow up anything.

There are so many ways to see upsides with Muslim immigration into Europe. Look at the culturally enriching Muslim fruit and vegetable vendors in Germany. The demographic future they offer Germany has got to make the Chinese absolutely giddy. With Germany as China's biggest export competitor the high Muslim fertility rate in Germany bodes well for Chinese businesses who currently have to compete against smart aggressive German corporations around the world.

So great news for the Chinese, right? Good for them. Of course, you might be thinking "it is bad news for the Germans". But wait. Think this thru. There are a lot more Chinese than Germans. So a development that helps the Chinese helps a lot more people. To anyone who believes that the greatest good for the greatest number is the highest moral belief (at least some strike poses asserting this) this would seem like good news.

Now, you might find the tone of this post just a tad sarcastic. But we live in an absurd time. The dominant liberal ethos of our era has become detached from reality. It has set modern Western nations on course toward ruination. It is hard to find a way to talk about sanely while standing here on the deck of the Titanic with excellent binoculars.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 30 08:33 PM  Immigration Culture Clash
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2010 August 29 Sunday
Razib On Stupidity In Democracy

Razib gives Mitt Romney about a 30 point IQ edge over Sarah Palin. If she's at 115 then that'd put him at 145. Anyone got a way to quantify their IQs?

Kingmaker: Why Sarah Palin’s Endorsements Really Are That Big A Deal vs. Romney’s Problem in a Nutshell. I estimate that Mitt Romney’s IQ is around two standard deviations above Sarah Palin’s. That’s democracy.

Mitt's too smart to get elected President. I hear "We are DEVO, D-E-V-O".

Here's what's sad: Sarah, by making babies (excepting the Downs one), raised the average IQ in America. Women as smart as her should make more babies. Her kids are smarter than the average IQ in America.

I suspect there's an optimal IQ range for voters. Too low and they haven't a clue about what's happening. Too high and they tend to embrace impractical complex theories that are untethered from real life. Maybe voters with IQs in the range 120-130 would vote in the best leaders. Or maybe 115-125.

Giving the voting franchise to the masses was obviously a mistake. We need to figure out how to cut back on the voting power of the masses. How to do it?

By Randall Parker 2010 August 29 10:30 PM  Democracy Failure
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Fastest Growing Jobs Have Below Average Pay

In the United States the occupations where jobs are growing most rapidly feature below average pay.

While a lack of jobs is arguably the biggest problem facing the labor market, another major concern is the quality of the jobs that are being created. The Figure presents the five fastest growing occupations between 2006 and 2009 and shows that all but one of them pays below the median wage in May 2009 of $15.95 an hour. The two fastest-growing occupations, home health care and food preparation and serving, pay closer to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour than the median wage. A food preparation worker’s typical wage of $8.28 an hour would earn an annual salary of $16,560, based on a typical 2,000-hour work year: That salary is just below the 2009 poverty threshold for a family of three. Warehouse stock clerks, another fast-growing occupation, would earn slightly more than $20,000 per year.

Got few skills? Don't get stuck as a food prep cook (been there, done that, btw), Aim high: Warehouse stock clerk. Yes, you could make $20k per year.

The health care industry is booming by sucking in an increasing fraction of GDP.

In addition, three of the five fastest growing occupations – home health aide, medical assistant and registered nurse -- are in the health care industry. While registered nurses earn a median wage of more than $30 an hour, the disproportionate growth in health care jobs points to a lack of robust job growth across the labor market. The most recent jobs data show that every industry – with the exception of health care, education, and the government – has fewer jobs today than before the recession began, strong evidence that demand is weak across the entire economy.

In part due to immigration the younger and less skilled face a brutal job market with very high unemployment.

  • Younger and less-educated natives often do the same jobs as immigrants. In the second quarter of 2010, in the occupations employing the most young and less-educated U.S.-born adults, one in five workers was an immigrant.

  • In the second quarter of 2010, the unemployment rate for U.S.-born adults who have not completed high school was 20.8 percent. But even in the second quarter of 2007, before the recession, it was 11.1 percent.

  • Using the broader measure of unemployment that includes those who want to work, but have not looked recently, and those forced to work part-time, the rate for those who haven’t completed high school was 29.3 percent in the second quarter of 2010 and 18.7 percent in the same quarter of 2007.

  • The unemployment rate for U.S.-born workers, ages 18 to 29, who have only a high school education was 20 percent in the second quarter of 2010 and 9.6 percent in 2007.

  • The broader measure of unemployment for 18- to 29-year-old U.S.-born workers with only a high school education was 29.2 percent in the second quarter of 2010 and 16.6 percent in 2007.

These young unemployed people aren't gaining work experiences that would make them more valuable in the job market. It is short-sighted to let in millions of low skilled illegal aliens to compete with America's youth for jobs.

With 47% of Hispanics dropping out of high school and Hispanics the fastest growing population segment in America the unemployment rates for young workers look set to stay quite high. The American economy has little use for all the low skilled workers crowding into the US labor market. Yet our elites keep trying to bring in still more unqualified workers to drive down wages even lower.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 29 12:16 AM  Economics Labor
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2010 August 25 Wednesday
Clash Of Civilizations In NYC

Christopher Hitchens both takes issue with the opponents of the Ground Zero Mosque and and warns of the beliefs of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

From the beginning, though, I pointed out that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was no great bargain and that his Cordoba Initiative was full of euphemisms about Islamic jihad and Islamic theocracy.

Well, if even moderate Muslim leaders favor Islamic theocracy then shouldn't we view Islam as incompatible with what America stands for (or at least used to stand for)? Hitchens seems more interested in scoring points than telling us what we really need to do to save our political culture from destruction.

I mentioned his sinister belief that the United States was partially responsible for the assault on the World Trade Center and his refusal to take a position on the racist Hamas dictatorship in Gaza. The more one reads through his statements, the more alarming it gets. For example, here is Rauf's editorial on the upheaval that followed the brutal hijacking of the Iranian elections in 2009. Regarding President Obama, he advised that:

He should say his administration respects many of the guiding principles of the 1979 revolution—to establish a government that expresses the will of the people; a just government, based on the idea of Vilayet-i-faquih, that establishes the rule of law.

Coyly untranslated here (perhaps for "outreach" purposes), Vilayet-i-faquih is the special term promulgated by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to describe the idea that all of Iranian society is under the permanent stewardship (sometimes rendered as guardianship) of the mullahs. Under this dispensation, "the will of the people" is a meaningless expression, because "the people" are the wards and children of the clergy. It is the justification for a clerical supreme leader, whose rule is impervious to elections and who can pick and choose the candidates and, if it comes to that, the results.

The rule of law in this context is the rule of Islamic law. That's religious law, not secular law applied to people of all religions. I am opposed to a foreign religion that has a large body of religious law and a founder that was a military conqueror and political leader. I think anyone who values their freedom should be too.

Liberal commentators defending the Ground Zero Mosque are doing a lot of bonding with each other and reaffirmation of liberal secular faith by attacking the opponents of the Ground Zero Mosque. This issue has helped strengthen their commitment to national suicide. They still have unshaken faith in the universal appeal of liberalism. This delusion spells ruination for the West.

Andrew McCarthy argues that the split between moderate and radical Islamists is about timing and methodology, not eventual outcome.

The single purpose of this jihad is the imposition of sharia. On that score, Gingrich made two points of surpassing importance. First, some Islamists employ mass-murder attacks while others prefer a gradual march through our institutions — our legal, political, academic, and financial systems, as well as our broader culture; the goal of both, though, is the same. The stealth Islamists occasionally feign outrage at the terrorists, but their quarrel is over methodology and pace. Both camps covet the same outcome.

Second, that outcome is the death of freedom. In Islamist ideology, sharia is deemed to be the necessary precondition for Islamicizing a society — for Islam is not merely a religious doctrine, but a comprehensive socio-economic and political system. As the former speaker elaborated, sharia embodies principles and punishments that are abhorrent to Western values. Indeed, its foundational premise is anti-American, holding that we are not free people at liberty to govern ourselves irrespective of any theocratic code, that people are instead beholden to the Islamic state, which is divinely enjoined to impose Allah’s laws.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali warns of the West's universalist pretensions.

The West's universalist pretensions are increasingly bringing it into conflict with the other civilizations, most seriously with Islam and China. Thus the survival of the West depends on Americans, Europeans and other Westerners reaffirming their shared civilization as unique—and uniting to defend it against challenges from non-Western civilizations.

The funny thing is that universalist pretensions of liberals are both used to justify US foreign interventions (to free people to all join the one liberal way) and to enable the demographic invasion on the United States. Invade the world, invite the world, as Steve Sailer puts it. I see the universalist pretensions of liberals as making the West defenseless. Liberals effectively deny that any conflicting and enduring value systems compete with our own values. They think as long as they stick to their principles it'll all come out well in the end.

Update Why Corboba House for the name of the Ground Zero Mosque? Cordoba is the name of the Spanish city where Muslims established the first Islamic Caliphate in the West. Cordoba is a symbol of Muslim conquest. Make no mistake: Muslims would love to conquer the West. Why should we let them in? Keep them out. They are our enemies.

Update II: Islam's useful idiots in the West are trying to pretty up its image. But the facts about Islam's effects upon human development are sad and tragic. See Fjordman's post Islam and the Decline of Greek Culture: A Critical Look at John Freely's Book “Aladdin’s Lamp”. Also see his post “The House of Wisdom” by Jonathan Lyons: A Brief Review by Fjordman and Fjordman: The Legend of the Middle Ages. Also see his Fjordman Essay: A Critical Look at The House of Wisdom by Jonathan Lyons.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 25 11:48 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
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About the "Obama Is A Christian" Myth

Slate has a funny (not that they meant it to be) subtitle for an article by John Dickerson: Why won't any Republicans condemn the "Obama is a Muslim" myth? I say this is funny because it is coming from dedicated myth-makers.

People are willing to believe that Barack is a Muslim because a) he's obviously just pretending to be a Christian and b) a large fraction of the American electorate sense they aren't part of his core range of loyalties. Basically, they feel they aren't in the same club or nation or allegiance as him and that this is a result of his upbringing and choices. They worry (justifiably) about where his real loyalties lay.

To think Obama might be Muslim isn't totally unreasonable given his father came from a Muslim family, his mother wasn't religious, and his stepfather came from a Muslim family as well. Given that his loyalties aren't clearly with the majority and that he dissembles about his loyalties this sort of speculation isn't surprising.

As for that Slate subtitle question, there's a far more compelling question about Barack Obama: Why won't any Democrats condemn the "Obama is a Christian" myth? The "Obama is a Christian" myth gave birth to the "Obama is a Muslim" myth.

The commentators in the mainstream liberal media are fully on board with the "Obama is a Christian" myth. Here's Peter Grier of the Christian Science Monitor proclaiming Barack's Christian faith:

Where are Americans getting their information about Obama’s religion? We ask that because, on this subject, a substantial and growing number of them are wrong. (Obama is Christian. We’ll say that up front, in case some of you are hazy on this point yourselves.)

You've got to be kidding. He's a political pretend Christian who, in order to help his political career, went to a black radical church for years. This church is led by one Rev. Jeremiah Wright (whose hostility to whitey and America was something that Obama took in for many years without complaint). Obama did this to try to establish his bona fides as a real American black and because he knows that in American politics it is harder for unreligious people to get elected. But Obama's obviously either agnostic or atheistic. What I want to know about Obama's religious beliefs: Is he a rational agnostic like myself? Or is he an extremist nutcase atheist who pretends to know that God (or the big universe simulation author) does not exist?

Obama needed to misrepresent himself to reach high office. Various elements of that misrepresentation are costing him politically now as the mythology becomes frayed and tattered. Competing mythologies are promoted by his political opponents. These mythologies provide a form of balance of falsehoods. Most people aren't up to getting their minds around the truth. So our political arena features an on-going battle of mythologies.

Update: OneSTDV, debating some liberal atheists about Obama's political beliefs, points to Obama's own revealed views of religion in one of his books:

I was unable to answer my daughter about heaven; I wondered if I should have told her the truth – that I was not sure what happens when we die; anymore than I was sure of where the soul resides or what existed before the big bang.

Sounds clear enough: agnostic.

OneSTDV says we have plenty of reasons to be skeptical of Obama's claimed Christian belief.

I’m making the argument that given his childhood background, his ostentatious admiration of Islam (what other professed Christian would feel comfortable repeating “Allah is Supreme! There is no God but Allah! in perfect Arabic), his lack of Christian background prior to and now following his admittedly poor attendance at Rev Wright’s church, his name, his bowing to the Saudi king, etc… it’s not UNREASONABLE to be skeptical of his Christianity.

Further, we’re generally justified in considering politician’s claims incredulously because of the precedent of lying.

Now given these facts, one can’t forthrightly conclude Obama is a Muslim. But that’s not my argument.

My argument is that skepticism concerning his faith is a reasonable supposition.

Instead, according to Hemant and the media, only a bucolic, ignorant idiot would extrapolate these facts into skepticism.

The media want us to be left-liberal idiots, not right wing idiots.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 25 10:33 PM  Cultural Wars Western
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2010 August 22 Sunday
Ashtabula County, Ohio Short Of Sheriff's Deputies

So naturally I'm spending my Sunday night making lunches for the week and reading theeconomiccollapseblog.com. So I'm wondering are this blog's 18 signs that America is rotting right in front of our eyes accurate? So I decided to check one of more amazing items. Sure enough, Ashtabula County, Ohio with a population of about 100,000 has just one patrol car available for routine police patrol. This county has the largest land area of any county in Ohio. A few towns in it have separate police departments. But the county is still mostly covered by sheriffs - not covered as the case may be.

JEFFERSON -- In the ongoing financial crisis in Ashtabula County, the Sheriff's Department has been cut from 112 to 49 deputies. With deputies assigned to transport prisoners, serve warrants and other duties, only one patrol car is assigned to patrol the entire county of 720 square miles.

Come Peak Oil, what's life going to be like? You can look at the most hard-up places now to see your future.

The county can't afford to keep most of its criminals in jail.

The Ashtabula County Jail has confined as many as 140 prisoners. It now houses only 30 because of reductions in the staff of corrections officers.

All told, 700 accused criminals are on a waiting list to serve time in the jail.

The sheriff says he's able to keep murderers locked up at least.

A local judge has advised the good people of Ashtabula County to arm themselves.

Asked what residents should do for protection, Common Pleas Judge Alfred Mackey replied, " Arm themselves," and added, "We're going to have to look after each other."

It gets even better: Armed citizen posses.

"It's pretty intense times here in Ashtabula County," said John Kusar.

Kusar was part of a small group who located Lee Nash, 56, hiding in a camper on Kusar's farm. "I got outta my truck, I loaded my gun, I took my safety off, I walked up to the door and flung the door open with the barrel of my gun and he was laying in there, sleeping with a sawed-off shotgun next to him."

A lot of guys would jump at the chance to join a real posse. Many would pay for the experience. The sheriff ought to consider the idea of tourist posses. Could be a revenue source. Let visiting tourists pay slap on the hand cuffs. Or let them pay to drive criminals to jail and court in a real police patrol car. Sound like fun?

The sheriff's department does not have time to investigate burglaries.

And while the sheriff will still investigate homicides, he has little resources to investigate crimes such as burglaries.

Some victims "are going to have to call the insurance companies and deal with it," Johnson said.

Sounds like a market for well-trained guard dogs. German shepherds or Rotties or Doberman Pinschers? How about a relatively rarer Belgian breed? Then mic your house to record the sound of bones breaking as the dog bites hard on an intruder.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 22 10:10 PM  Civilizations Order Maintenance
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China-US War Avoidable?

Can the next really big potential war be avoided?

Four years before World War I, British author and politician Norman Angell published "The Great Illusion," arguing that military conquests had become obsolete between modern economies. Many policy makers use the same logic today to predict that China and the United States can avoid war. Like their forebears, they may be wrong.

That's the implicit argument of University of Chicago political scientist John Mearsheimer, who delivered the annual Michael Hintze Lecture at Sydney University this week. Politics, rather than economics, will decisively shape the future of Asia just as it did Europe in the previous century, he believes. China's ascent is likely to spark an intense security competition with the U.S., leading to the strong possibility of war between the world's two biggest economies.

One fear is that future generations of Chinese leaders will become far less cautious. Not mentioned in the article: The American people were foolish enough to elect George W. Bush followed by Barack Obama. One can only guess who they'll choose next.

Once Chinese power rivals and even surpasses that of the US we are going to need strategic calculators of Richard Nixon's level of ability. But my guess is that future Presidents will be chosen due to their ethnic loyalties as the country becomes more balkanized. Presidential candidate quality will probably decline.

So where to decamp to if you can foresee an inevitable war? Trying to get out of harm's way at the last minute will be difficult to do for all but the most wealthy. Better to move in advance. But to where? Canada's physically too close to the US. Australia might break from US alliance and become neutral. After all, immigration trends there will create a big Chinese-leaning faction and China will continue to buy large amounts of Australian natural resources. Maybe Eastern Europe will be the place to be. Or perhaps the most heavily German/Italian part of Brazil. That's where the hot models come from.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 22 08:18 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
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Venezuela: Socialism Still Does Not Work

Socialism still has not become a viable way to organize an economy. But Hugo Chavez didn't get the memo. A Reuters reporter visited a commune funded by the Venezuelan government (funded of course by oil exports to capitalistic countries) and found that commune members lack revolutionary socialist fervor.

Neither ideological nor productive fervor were much visible at the Cacique Tiuna Commune, which boasts a plastics plant, a vegetable garden, a "socialist" carpentry shop and a plant nursery.

During a visit last week, the plastics plant was idled, the irrigated garden was awaiting "refinancing" to start and at the carpentry shop only a handful of laborers worked under the stern gaze of a mural depicting the historic Indian chief Tiuna after which the commune is named.

"The Comandante (Chavez) wants this to be a showcase community," said Yamilet Ramirez, the Commune's spokesperson. "The idea is that it should be self-supporting."

But the Cacique Tiuna commune seemed some way off its intended goal as a self-sustaining, self-governing community.

Click thru and read the whole thing if you want to make sure I didn't miss any revolutionary fervor of the working class. Or click thru and read it if you enjoy cautionary tales or are wondering just how messed up Venezuela is going to become (pretty messed up I would guess).

The people living in the commune are happy that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had funded the construction of their housing. But one of the residents admitted they felt apathy. Ole buddy Hugo wants his communes to become self-sustaining. Good luck with that Hugo. For your sake hope the price of oil skyrockets so that you can continue to play with oil-funded communism.

If Hugo can't get his oil production up then his party isn't going to last. The Venezuelans would be lucky if the oil ran out sooner and the socialists got the boot. But my guess is the socialists will get to remain in power long enough to do a lot more damage. The Spanish upper and middle class will seethe. The Amerinds will just keep accepting the hand-outs funded by oil money.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 22 06:30 PM  Socialism, Capitalism
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Tony Robbins Economic Warning

Tony trains each rich and powerful people that my guess is he's fairly well connected at this point. So worth listening to. Tony sees a big market dip on the horizon.

Tony makes the accurate point that has the Baby Boomers move thru their lives at different stages their earning, spending, and investment patterns change. Edward Yardeni famously called the 1990s bull market based on the stage of life of the Baby Boomers. Tony is right about that. The Boomers are downshifting on housing and other forms of spending heading into retirement. That big shift is coming on top of the end of the housing bubble (and the housing bubble was partly caused by Baby Boomer stages of life in the first place). So housing demand looks set to stay low. Great news for buyers btw. Lower prices are good for buyers.

Tony brings an upbeat attitude to the possibility of another economic dip.

We face a long term financial crisis. Check out this Bloomberg News opinion piece by Laurence Kotlikoff who explains just how financially f**ked Americans are.

Based on the CBO’s data, I calculate a fiscal gap of $202 trillion, which is more than 15 times the official debt. This gargantuan discrepancy between our “official” debt and our actual net indebtedness isn’t surprising. It reflects what economists call the labeling problem. Congress has been very careful over the years to label most of its liabilities “unofficial” to keep them off the books and far in the future.

Cuts in old age retirement programs will cause people to spend less and save more. This will depress demand further. Kotlikoff expects benefit cuts.

Mr. Kotlikoff’s calculations looked at how a couple’s spending and saving patterns might have to change if the government raised the full retirement age to 70 (we assumed it was imposed right away, though such a change would probably be phased in over many years). That would essentially translate to a 19 percent cut in monthly benefits, according to Mr. Kotlikoff. He performed the calculations using his company’s retirement planning software, ESPlanner, which shows what people need to save to ensure a consistent standard of living over the course of their lives.

Can other parts of the world basically decouple from the US while the US economically stagnates for several years? What are the global implications for the American economy's problems?

Update Steven Abrahams, an analyst at Deutsche Bank AG, says real estate prices in the US will fall another 5% in 2011 and a third to a half of all mortgages will be underwater. That's an amazing claim. How vulnerable are the big banks to a more defaults?

By Randall Parker 2010 August 22 08:42 AM  Economics Demographic
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2010 August 21 Saturday
Questionable Value Of A Ricardian Advantage

In the comments section of a post by Menzie Chinn about the June 2010 trade deficit (bigger btw) C Thomson summoned the ghost of David Ricardo, presumably to indicate that all is well and the market will make everything to work out to our mutual advantage. W.C. Varones offers a pithy reply.

C Thomson,

I don't deny that we have a Ricardian advantage in producing debt, derivatives, and accounting fraud.
What I question is the value of that advantage.

Blessed be Ricardo. Can I hear an Amen from the free trader chorus? But that the US has been running a substantial trade deficit for many years and continues to run a large trade deficit is a bad thing. If this trade deficit is the result of the workings of the market then the market has some serious flaws.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 21 09:20 AM  Economics Trade
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2010 August 20 Friday
Theory On Why Beauty Scores Are Inflated

Recently I asked: Why Are HotOrNot.com Ratings So Inflated? I found none of the answers satisfactory. I have a new theory.

While reading the comments of Roissy's post "What Should She Do" I was thinking about the range of scores assigned to the girl who was the subject of the post. Roissy's readers scored her from 4 to 8. That's quite a spread. The 8 score is ridiculous. So what makes guys score her that high? Beauty standards are remarkably objective. Relative beauty is less debated than absolute score numbers. That's key.

My theory: Guys do not want to think they have to settle. So they inflate the scores of the women they think they might have a shot with so that they can feel good about being attractive to them. They want to find a 6 to be an 8 so they can fancy the "8". They are not consciously aware they are doing this.

Women must do the same thing as I'm told that attractiveness rating sites also show inflated scores for men.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 20 08:40 PM  Human Nature Mating
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2010 August 19 Thursday
Christian Must Accept Homosexuality Or Get Kicked Out

Is this multi-cultural intolerance?

An Augusta State University counseling student has filed a lawsuit against her school claiming it violated her First Amendment rights when it told her to change her traditionalist Christian views on homosexuality or get out.

The Alliance Defense Fund filed suit Wednesday on behalf of Jennifer Keeton, 24, seeking to stop the school from expelling her from her master’s degree program.

She sees homosexuality as morally wrong. The academics at Augusta State are morally certain that she's morally wrong. So these employees of the state of Georgia are trying to deny her an education in her chosen field due to her professed beliefs. Why don't they celebrate her diversity? It is a pluralistic multi-cultural society. Christians who see homosexuality as evil are just part of the vast pageantry of life. I find this curious, though not entirely unexpected. Academics are so unlike the average American that they seek to make us more like them and if they can't they cast us out. Their multi-culturalist ideology is just a pose.

Princeton U Anscombe Society (broadly I think women who want to keep their virginity for marriage among other things) member Marlow Gazzoli argues it is not a counselor's job to support whatever decisions a person wants to make about their life.

It seems to me that the faculty have a totally distorted view of what a counselor is. A counselor should not merely confirm his patient's choices and lifestyle out of some misguided respect for diversity. Rather, he is supposed to better the life of his patient, not just encourage him to do whatever he wants.

Well first off, if schools stopped training counselors and all jobs of counselors were defunded the commonwealth would be enhanced. But shouldn't it be up to the organizations that hire counselors to decide if a given counselor will deliver the sorts of messages they want delivered?

Update: I am troubled by the report above because I see it fitting into a larger pattern where universities enforce moral and ideological beliefs. Consider how doctrinally correct you have to be to get a masters degree in education or run the risk of getting tossed out of a graduate level program in education. Education departments embrace the Blank Slate view of human nature and enforce it as doctrine. They are not alone among academic departments in their embrace of this faith. Do we really want faith-based academic departments deciding who gets a degree based on whether they embrace a competing religion? Note that these education believers have powerful faith in their beliefs that is embraced by the political mainstream. We need protections against such faith.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 19 07:25 AM  Cultural Wars Sexual
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2010 August 18 Wednesday
Why Are HotOrNot.com Ratings So Inflated?

Audacious Epigone asks a question that already puzzles me.

Tangentially, to gauge one's level of attractiveness, he suggests using the site HotOrNot.com. I created a profile there a few days ago and began rating people. I was immediately struck by how inflated the scores are. After giving someone a rating, you are shown that person's average score from all ratings she's received up to that point. After rendering judgment on 100 or so ladies, I was without exception always harsher than the stated average, but the mean score I dispensed was probably 6.0-6.5, which is presumably a bit overly generous (it's a scale of 1-10, after all).

I got to that site a few months ago and had the same reaction: Why are fuglies getting rated highly? You'll be hard pressed to find even 5 ratings, let alone 4, 3, 2, or 1. Yet the site has women (didn't check the men) that are fat and/or ugly. Plain women who deserve a 5 or 6 rating get scores of over 8.

Do people visiting the site want the posters of pictures to feel good about themselves? Or do the raters have low standards for what constitutes beauty?

Update California Kid points to the Australian site amihotornot.com.au as offering more realistic scores. So I tried it out. The scores there still seem kind of high. But the scores seem closer to realistic. Still, scores below 5 are rare and that seems unjustified. Go ahead and compare. Does that site seem more realistic?

By Randall Parker 2010 August 18 10:51 PM  Human Nature Mating
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New York City Fails To Close Racial Test Gap

Previous claims of great progress were totally bogus. Remember that the next time you hear claims of some school system or single school doing what's never been done.

When results from the 2010 tests, which state officials said presented a more accurate portrayal of students’ abilities, were released last month, they came as a blow to the legacy of the mayor and the chancellor, as passing rates dropped by more than 25 percentage points on most tests. But the most painful part might well have been the evaporation of one of their signature accomplishments: the closing of the racial achievement gap.

Among the students in the city’s third through eighth grades, 40 percent of black students and 46 percent of Hispanic students met state standards in math, compared with 75 percent of white students and 82 percent of Asian students. In English, 33 percent of black students and 34 percent of Hispanic students are now proficient, compared with 64 percent among whites and Asians.

I've been expecting a big drive to fire teachers since the number of untried alternatives is getting pretty short. So it no surprise that some academic education researchers advocate firing 80% of new teachers after 2 years. (really). This speaks to the desperateness of liberals trying to hang on to their mythology. How else to stop the slide down of whole states? One might wonder just what goes on in schools with really low performing students. Or one might turn away and dream new dreams.

Once large scaling firing of teachers doesn't do the trick what's going to be the next imagined silver bullet? I'm thinking boarding schools. Totally take over the waking hours of kids. Total immersion. That won't work either of course. But it is something politicos in the education racket haven't tried and they need new hopes to trumpet.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 18 10:36 PM  Education
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US Call Centers Cheaper Than India?

From the Financial Times: Genpact CEO Pramod Bhasin says American wages have dropped so far and Indian wages have risen so far that US call centers can compete.

Call centre workers are becoming as cheap to hire in the US as they are in India, according to the head of the country’s largest business process outsourcing company.

The Open Borders advocates will find something to crow about here. We've got so many really low paid Hispanics that Hispanics in America can compete with poor people in India. Is that progress or what?

High unemployment levels have driven down wages for some low-skilled outsourcing services in some parts of the US, particularly among the Hispanic population.

I can remember when rising US wages were a seen as good thing and were a common occurrence. I realize Americans in their 20s (who are still living with mom and dad and going nowhere fast) will find this hard to believe. But really, wages went up every year even for low skilled factory workers. America used to be the land of opportunity even for the lower middle class. Honestly, I'm not making this up. Oh, and college was really cheap. Stop laughing. I am not making this up.

Wages are booming in India. That used to happen in America. I realize this makes me sound really old but I'm old enough to remember when that happened here. How else do you think wages for factory workers could decline from where they used to be?

At the same time, wages in India’s outsourcing sector have risen by 10 per cent this year and senior outsourcing managers based in the country command salaries above global averages.

So the good news here: The Open Borders crowd has managed to so transform America's labor force that it can compete with call center workers in India. This story tempts me to think optimistic thoughts about America's future. I know, I write a lot of posts predicting decay. But amid that decay we can still find ways to compete. I bet we could lower our wages far enough to compete in textiles. Think of that. America once more a textile center.

We just need the time it just takes for the death of generations who knew and were accustomed t higher living standards. The historical amnesia of the younger generations will allow them to placidly go to work at jobs that pay below the current minimum wage. We can hold the current minimum wage, import another hundred million low-skilled immigrants, and then run an expansionary monetary policy to cause a good bout of inflation. After that inflationary bout in inflation-adjusted terms our workers will be prepared to bring back lots of lost jobs.

I bet you are as excited by this as I am. But wait, it gets better. You might feel sad that even in New York City the educational system is turning out the kinds of workers who can only do low-paid jobs. But if those workers can compete with low wage workers in other countries then that keeps American residents in some international competitions. We are starting to look a lot more competitive to Vietnam, Pakistan, and other lower wage countries. I think we have a long time to go before we'll be able to go head-to-head with Bangladesh or Burma. But Rome wasn't collapsed in a day.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 18 08:16 PM  Civilizations Decay
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2010 August 17 Tuesday
Women Dumping Husbands

An article looks at women who grow tired of their husbands.

A lot of midlife women in my acquaintance are leaving what appear to be perfectly good and loving husbands. Or thinking about it. Or cheating on them. Or wanting to. Or staying married and faithful but buying their own houses, which they either live in or keep as a bolt hole. [...]

In a 2004 AARP survey of divorced people 40 and older, 66 percent of wives said they had requested the divorce, and 26 percent had surprised their husbands, often after planning for years. Women were especially likely to have no regrets, and 43 percent did not want to remarry. In another national study that year, ex-wives were three times more likely to say that they wanted the divorce, rather than their husbands wanting it. Fewer than 40 percent of marriages of more than 15 years were rated as successful by respondents.

That's 40% of the marriages that even last 15 years. Your odds of being happy in the long term from getting married seem slim.

Read the full article to find out how a growing number of women see marriage. If you are a single male who hopes marriage is in your future it would pay you to read the full thing and think hard about your desire. Divorce settlements and alimony will drastically lower your living standard.

Some accuse Roissy of being a nihilist and therefore they argue he has nothing constructive to offer and that he's part of the problem. But these women who are divorcing their husbands aren't doing it because more men are using pick-up artist techniques. PUA's like Roissy are more like a symptom or a result of changes in female attitudes and behavior. As always, Roissy offers real insights.

A multitude of factors likely contributes to the urge to spousally purge of the modern American wife. The Chateau has discussed the Four Sirens of the Sexual Apocalypse before as triggers or exacerbating conditions for the rising divorce, single momhood, and infidelity rates that will herald the denouement of the Grand American Epoch, and now we can throw in a couple more factors –

The death of shame and the glorification of status.

We now exalt that which we used to shame into invisibility. Pathetic single moms are paraded as exemplars of tough-as-nails fortitude and moral virtue. Infidelity is de rigueur, an exciting life transition that self-actualized women find empowering. And of course, taking your husband for all he’s worth in divorce, regardless of marital fault, is practically its own sacrament — the Sacrament of Separation Theft.

Divorcing women are aping their peers. Don't be the last girl in your social circle to dump your boring husband.

And then there is the compelling allure of status jockeying. When women are surrounded by lots of other women cheating on, divorcing, or leaving their dutiful husbands, they feel an odd predilection to ape the group dynamic. Women are herd animals, and will do what they see is trendy in the group. A bunch of well-heeled upper middle class ladies on the block had affairs, including Susie with the best landscaping in the neighborhood? Clearly the heretofore faithful wife thinks she is missing out on something. The stampede of the herd fills her with anxiety, morphing into unhappiness. She plots and connives; her heart bursts with excitement at the taboo! The outsized role of status seeking in shaping women’s choices may help explain why Western populations — excluding the peasant immigrant hordes rapidly displacing us — are demographically imploding: when half the properly educated and economically independent women you know have zero kids, you impart higher status on that childlessness, and then you will seek to mimic the behavior of your admired peers.

Just as men can use game to manipulate women into bed Roissy says married men can use game to manipulate women into happiness in marriage. Widespread use of game techniques might be the only thing that can save the West from collapse.

Roissy argues the guys getting dumped are beta herbs. Do not act or dress like one of them.

What else is breaking up marriages? When women make more than their husbands they are both more likely to cheat. She probably doesn't respect him and he feels emasculated. They can't help reacting to their biological nature as females and males. But if guys with high status only make babies with lower status females then higher status females won't reproduce and that'll be dysgenic. The West sure seems destined to decline.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 17 11:14 PM  Cultural Wars Marriage
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2010 August 16 Monday
Krugman On China Mercantilistic Trade Policy

Paul Krugman thinks we need to do more than just lecture the Chinese on trade.

I agree with everything this NYT editorial has to say about the economics of widening international imbalances. Where I disagree is on the issue of negotiating strategy. My colleagues believe that we should lecture the Chinese on what a bad thing they’re doing, but not actually threaten sanctions, lest we start a trade war. My belief is that this gets us nowhere.

I disagree with Paul Krugman about many things. But on trade policy toward China I agree. Passiveness in the face of mercantilist trade policy is foolish. But China does much more including large scale intellectual property theft and large scale computer attacks to steal source code and data. Enough already.

Aside: American corporations need to cooperate with each other to systematically collect data on attempted penetrations. They need to allow penetrations to reach into specially designed lab environments in order to find viruses and malware that has gone undetected. New methods of attack should be discovered much more quickly.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 16 11:48 PM  China
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2010 August 14 Saturday
Roissy: America Then And Now

Roissy takes a look at how America is doing with a look at Americans then and now thru pictures. His "now" pictures are pathetic. Lots of obesity, ugly clothing, bad attitudes. I hear a song from the 1980s "We are Devo, D-E-V-O".

At the tail end of a post a post about Asian women and inter-racial attraction Audacious Epigone notes that in the CraigsList for Kansas City Women Seeking Men category (and I added an image requirement for that filter) attractive women are extremely rare. Go take a look.

From KC: Here's a 220 lb woman who wants a tall skinny boyfriend. Has she considered bariatric surgery? How can you spot a good mom? If she can't get a babysitter for her 2 kids should she invite over strange men for the weekend to "party" with her young kids there? This is America in 2010.

I got curious and repeated this by looking at a few hundred pictures for several cities across the United States. Audacious gets it right. What was most shocking: obviously very overweight and even obese women who claimed they were big but not obese. There's a whole lot of denial going on. For starters, check out Seattle, Las Vegas, Portland, Boise, Spokane, and Denver. Use a browser with fast tab support and you can very quickly take a look at the sorts of women trying to find a boyfriend on CraigsList.

Given that many of these women seeking men claim they want cute and muscular guys you might think they'd exert serious effort to at least control what they have control over: their weight, clothing, hairstyle. But no. They seem oblivious to how they will be seen.

Another observation: At about age 26 the women start saying they are tired of games and tired of lies. They've played with lots of alpha players and know they always get dumped in the end. Some still want a guy they consider alpha who will just commit. Others more clearly are ready to settle for less to get commitment. More of them have kids and want guys not to mind (good luck with that when you are unattractive, aging, fat, and with little education or skills). Also, some of the more honest ones reveal their promiscuous past either explicitly or via code phrases like "my party days are over" or by making noises about finally growing up and looking for an LTR (long term relationship).

What I want to know: Are ugliness and obesity getting selected for or against? Are ugly and fat people having fewer or more kids than pretty people?

By Randall Parker 2010 August 14 12:28 PM  Civilizations Decay
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2010 August 13 Friday
Obama: Islam Has Always Been Part Of America

Mangan points to a most amazing speech by the space alien who we on this planet call Barack Obama.

But Ramadan is also a time of intense devotion and reflection – a time when Muslims fast during the day and pray during the night; when Muslims provide support to others to advance opportunity and prosperity for people everywhere. For all of us must remember that the world we want to build – and the changes that we want to make – must begin in our own hearts, and our own communities.

Muslims advancing opportunity and prosperity for people everywhere? How, pray tell, are they doing that? Very secretly? Has Obama received a classified national security briefing on this?

People on the Left make fun paranoids on the Right who think Obama wasn't born in America. But here's the thing: Obama does not talk like someone born and raised in America.

These rituals remind us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings. Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity and racial equality. And here in the United States, Ramadan is a reminder that Islam has always been part of America and that American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country. And today, I want to extend my best wishes to the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world – and your families and friends – as you welcome the beginning of Ramadan.

What to say? Words fail me. Islam has always been part of America? Did Barack fall thru from a parallel universe? Is he like the Manchurian Candidate except he's the Mecca Candidate? The emperor has no clothes. The President of the United States is not fit to rule. He's loonier than Bush Jr, and that's a high bar to reach. Muslims have not always been part of America.

Do people on the Left uncritically accept when Obama says something so obviously crazy? Do they just nod their heads and say "oh, I didn't know it but it sounds nice so it must be true"? Are they thinking that Barack is speaking some larger cosmic truth because we are all, like, totally connected and that therefore Islam has always been part of us whether we knew of it or not?

Well, why don't we just bring up the first real American experience with Islam? That would be in the early years of the Republic when the Barbary Pirates were capturing American ships and turning Americans into slaves. At the time the US Marines were looking to fit "from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli" into their anthem. So they went over to the Barbary Coast and had a serious altercation with Muslim pirates. First the United States tried to negotiate.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, then serving as American ambassadors to France and Britain, respectively, met in 1786 in London with the Tripolitan Ambassador to Britain, Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja. These future American presidents were attempting to negotiate a peace treaty which would spare the United States the ravages of jihad piracy—murder, enslavement (with ransoming for redemption), and expropriation of valuable commercial assets—emanating from the Barbary states (modern Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, known collectively in Arabic as the Maghrib). During their discussions, they questioned Ambassador Adja as to the source of the unprovoked animus directed at the nascent United States republic. Jefferson and Adams, in their subsequent report to the Continental Congress, recorded the Tripolitan Ambassador’s justification:

… that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.

One naturally wonders whether Barack Obama finds verses from the Koran to be congenial to his thinking.

Sura 8 declares “Believers! Wage war against such of the infidels as are your neighbors, and let them find you rigorous; and know that God is with those who fear him.”

Sura 8 further tells Muslims “No prophet hath been able to take captives until he had made a great slaughter in the earth…Eat therefore of the spoils you have taken what is lawful and good.”

Sura 8 also makes it clear that Muslims are to be in a state of war with the rest of the world until they succeed in forcing all the nations to accept Islam:  “Fight then against them till strife be at an end, and the religion be all of it God’s.”

In Sura 3 the Prophet warns of dire consequences for any Muslim who makes friends with an infidel: “Let not believers take infidels for their friends rather than believers; whoso shall do this hath nothing to hope from God.”  Suras 4 and 5 repeat this warning.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 13 10:08 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
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Obama Tries To Buy GOP Support With Border Agents

Barack Obama wants you to think that 1,000 more Border Patrol agents should make you favor another immigration amnesty.

President Obama signed a $600 million border protection bill Friday. Does that mean comprehensive immigration legislation has a better chance of passing?

Where's the logic in this position? A 5% increase in the number of agents is not going to work as long as Obama refuses to build a border barrier large enough to make illegal passage really difficult. The border is too large to be secured by manpower alone unless the Border Patrol goes thru a couple of more doublings in size.

20,000 agents over 2000 miles is 10 agents per mile. But since there are administrators, vacation time, days off, sick time, holidays, training days, and time spent doing paperwork the real effective strength isn't even 1 per mile 24 hours per day. That's why we need a big multi-layer barrier that takes a long time to cross which triggers alarms providing border patrol time to get to an illegal crossing attempt.

That’s the position the White House is pushing. The border legislation, which would pay for 1,000 new Border Patrol agents, and add other law enforcement personnel to investigate immigration violations, was enacted with substantial bipartisan support. Administration officials hope this will translate into hands-across-the-aisle cooperation on the larger issue of immigration reform.

By "the larger issue of immigration reform" the Obama Administration means amnesty for all the illegal aliens. Such an amnesty would of course encourage more people to enter the United States illegally to get in line for the next immigration amnesty.

Fouad Ajami spots the contradiction in Obama's position.

The nation may be ill at ease with an immigration reform bill that would provide some 12 million illegal immigrants a path toward citizenship, but the administration would still insist on the primacy of its own judgment. It would take Arizona to court, even though the public let it be known that it understood Arizona's immigration law as an expression of that state's frustration with the federal government's abdication of its responsibility over border security.

It was clear as daylight that there was a built-in contradiction between opening the citizenship rolls to a vast flood of new petitioners and a political economy of redistribution favored by the Obama administration. The choice was stark: You could either "spread the wealth around" or open the gates for legalizing millions of immigrants of lower skills. You could not do both.

Milton Friedman said open borders immigration and a welfare state are incompatible. Yet Barack Obama, who sees the welfare state as a tool to redistribute wealth between the races, supports immigration amnesty. He's hurting blacks by taking this position. Does he fail to understand this?

Q: Dr. Friedman should the U.S.A. open its borders to all immigrants? What is your opinion on that?

A: Unfortunately no. You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state.

Q: Do you oppose a unilateral reduction of tariffs and if not how can you oppose open immigration until the welfare state is eliminated?

A: I am in favor of the unilateral reduction of tariffs, but the movement of goods is a substitute for the movement of people. As long as you have a welfare state, I do not believe you can have a unilateral open immigration. I would like to see a world in which you could have open immigration, but stop kidding yourselves. On the other hand, the welfare state does not prevent unilateral free trade. I believe that they are in different categories.

Also see Milton Friedman Opposes Mission To Spread Democracy. He was wise.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 13 07:06 PM  Immigration Elites Versus Masses
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2010 August 12 Thursday
Polytheists And Islam

Jihad Watch points to an excerpt from the Koran that shows what Mohammed said should be done to polytheist non-believers who refuse to submit to Muslim rule and pay a special tax:

When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them. . . . If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them. (Sahih Muslim, book 019, Number 4294)

This is an example of why I see Islam as incompatible with Western values. There's no relationship with Muslims as between equals. They want to make us subservient. Their religion tells them the natural relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims is that between the ruler and the ruled.

Ground Zero mosque imam Feisal Abdul Rauf had this to say about the 9/11 attacks:

Rauf’s image may be moderate enough to have satisfied the Bush administration, but it is also true that he offered tough analysis following the 9/11 terrorist attacks that is now being used by some to question his allegiances. Just days after the attacks, Rauf said in a television interview that US policies in Muslim countries were “an accessory to the crime” and provided succor to radical Islam.

“In the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA,” he said.

One could argue, as Rauf does, that US involvement in the MIddle East angered Muslims enough to cause them to attack. But the US has intervened all over the world without similar consequences from other religions and cultures. What is different? Muslims are taught by their base text that they are warriors who should resist domination and instead dominate others. The United States is the biggest obstacle in the way of bin Laden's desire to spread Muslim rule. Bin Laden sees the proper relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims as Mohammed did. It is only natural that he should treat us as enemies.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 12 06:23 AM  Civilizations Clash Of
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2010 August 08 Sunday
Another Woman Busted For Sex With Teen Guys

Christine Shreeve Hubbs is being persecuted for a feminist ideal.

LIVERMORE -- A Livermore woman faces 67 criminal charges for allegedly having sex with two teen boys.

Police arrested Christine Shreeve Hubbs, 42, on Thursday evening on a warrant. She is being held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin in lieu of $4.3 million bail.

Teenage boys do not suffer psychological harm from having sex with older women.

I repeat: Teenage boys do not suffer psychological harm from having sex with older women. The hot for teacher trend isn't doing any harm.

What is this about? It is another manifestation of the drive to pretend that men and women are the same in all ways. Boys do not experience sex the same way girls do. But our thought police do not want us to see real existing differences where we should only see same, same, same, and still more same. So this woman who was doing no harm by given horny teenagers sex is now sitting in jail with $4.3 million bail on her head. Nuts.

Having a larger lifetime hook-up count boosts male sense of well-being. These prosecutors are undermining the male search for happiness by treating males like females.

This all reminds me of a Tracey Ullman skit.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 08 07:00 PM  Cultural Wars Sexual
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Law Firms Outsourcing To India

The pressure on American and British salaries due to globalization is spreading. Law is joining the long list of occupations getting outsourced to India.

India’s legal outsourcing industry has grown in recent years from an experimental endeavor to a small but mainstream part of the global business of law. Cash-conscious Wall Street banks, mining giants, insurance firms and industrial conglomerates are hiring lawyers in India for document review, due diligence, contract management and more.

Now, to win new clients and take on more sophisticated work, legal outsourcing firms in India are actively recruiting experienced lawyers from the West. And American and British lawyers — who might once have turned up their noses at the idea of moving to India, or harbored an outright hostility to outsourcing legal work in principle — are re-evaluating the sector.

Since the worked that is outsourced was previously done by junior lawyers in law firms this trend is going to cut the flow of supply of people to become partners and senior lawyers who give advice to clients. This reminds me of trend in software development in the United States where older developers now manage Indians. Where is the next generation of US lawyers or software developers going to come from once the older workers retire?

Information technology outsourcing is of course extensive. Lots of legal work does not have to be done anywhere near clients either. The speedy internet makes information flow fast and cheap.

Even the medical profession isn't entirely immune to this trend. Already some radiological images get read in India, especially late at night. Imagine that you could buy a home microfluidic medical testing device (likely by 2020) that could do most common blood and urine tests and even measure breath gases. Then throw in some additional devices that can scan your skin, eyes, tongue at very high res across a wide range of frequencies. The data could be uploaded to a server as often as you test yourself and if anything triggered an alert on server software a doctor in India could look at the results and do a preliminary diagnosis.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 08 06:18 PM  Economics Labor
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2010 August 07 Saturday
China Business Expanding In Iran

China is partying with Iran like there's no way Israel will attack.

China’s vice premier, Li Keqiang, told Iran’s visiting oil minister Friday that trade between the two countries is achieving “fruitful results.”

Fruitful indeed. China’s investors and traders are now filling a vacuum in Iran as businesses from many other nations, especially in Europe, pull out to comply with the latest call from the UN Security Council for nations to impose sanctions on Iran. (China voted for the resolution but is largely ignoring it.)

So get this: China goes along with the US and the EU in putting sanctions on Iran. Then China uses the opening that those sanctions create in order to win more business in Iran. The Western countries basically have pulled back from doing business with Iran in order to let China take over markets that Western countries previously dominated. Welcome to the 21st century.

Western policy makers can find other countries to sanction and thereby help Chian capture still more markets.

This puts the Israelis in a difficult position with the dimming of their hopes of pressuring Iran to stop nuclear weapons development. Will the Israelis launch a massive air strike in Iran? Do the Israelis even have the means to launch a strike on a scale sufficient to substantially delay Iranian nuclear weapons development?

Would the Israelis focus most of their attack on Iran's oil fields in order to make the Iranians unable to afford a nuclear weapons development?

Meanwhile, the Chinese are working on weapons that would make US aircraft carriers unusable anywhere near China.

U.S. naval planners are scrambling to deal with what analysts say is a game-changing weapon being developed by China — an unprecedented carrier-killing missile called the Dong Feng 21D that could be launched from land with enough accuracy to penetrate the defenses of even the most advanced moving aircraft carrier at a distance of more than 1,500 kilometers (900 miles).

Analysts say final testing of the missile could come as soon as the end of this year, though questions remain about how fast China will be able to perfect its accuracy to the level needed to threaten a moving carrier at sea.

The US government needs to come up with a foreign policy that doesn't require the US to possess unchallenged military dominance. The US military is in relative decline and continued Chinese economic growth will eventually make the Chinese more powerful.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 07 08:26 PM  China
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Drug Cartels More Powerful In Mexico

Brenda Walker points to an LA Times story about comments made by Mexican President Felipe Calderon where Calderon describes the growing challenge of the Mexican drug lords to the Mexican government.

“Their business is no longer just the traffic of drugs. Their business is to dominate everyone else,” Calderon said. “This criminal behavior is what has changed and become a defiance to the state, an attempt to replace the state” by exacting war taxes and taking up arms more powerful than those used by outgunned government forces.

Mexico City has a lot of kidnapping and extortion going on. The crime is about more than just drugs.

Another LA Times story reports on the scale of the cartels.

Reporting from Mexico City — Nearly four years after President Felipe Calderon launched a military-led crackdown against drug traffickers, the cartels are smuggling more narcotics into the United States, amassing bigger fortunes and extending their dominion at home with such savagery that swaths of Mexico are now in effect without authority.

The groups also are expanding their ambitions far beyond the drug trade, transforming themselves into broad criminal empires deeply involved in migrant smuggling, extortion, kidnapping and trafficking in contraband such as pirated DVDs.

Read the second article in full. A US government has issued travel warnings for a growing list of Mexican states. The fight with the drug cartels is not seen as a threat to the stability of the state.

What the US could best do for the benefit of both the United States and Mexico: Build a huge border barrier and heavily man the border with agents to stop the drug and people smuggling. The US government should do far more extensive searching at the legal crossing points while simultaneously putting a stop to all illegal crossings. Then track down and deport all Mexican criminals in the United States as a prelude to deporting all illegal aliens in the United States.

The drug cartels would have far less power if they couldn't use Mexico's physical proximity to the United States to smuggle large amounts of drugs into the United States.

On the bright side, Brazil and Honduras are much worse. That's why the worst places exist: To make bad places look good by comparison.

From 2007 to 2009, the murder rate jumped from 10 to 14 per 100,000 people. That's still low compared with countries such as Brazil, with a murder rate of 22, or Honduras, with 60.9.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 07 04:28 PM  Mexico
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2010 August 03 Tuesday
Domestic Smart Phone OS For China

Remember when US businesses heavily lobbied Congress to pass Most Favored Nation trade status for China? Supposedly this was going to open up China for American business. But the Chinese are very mercantilist. The Chinese government wants a domestic Chinese smart phone operating system.

Having long memories, China's Ministry of Information Industry officials recall their selection of GSM, the 2G European digital standard, under the brilliant former MII Minister Wu Ji-chuan, as the Chinese mobile standard in the mid-1990s. The GSM selection ushered into China foreign network equipment and mobile phone vendors (Ericsson and Nokia, by holding important GSM patents, occupied an advantageous position for GSM network and handset development, which left Chinese firms in catch-up mode). MII grudgingly worked with foreign suppliers, which made possible the enormous increase of Chinese mobile subscribers, and also concluded that a domestic mobile industry was strategically important for the Chinese state and economy. So this nationalist outlook led to MII adopting a Chinese 3G standard — TD-SCDMA — which became a long saga for network deployment.

Crucially, all current mobile smart phone platforms – Android, Symbian, iOS 4, Windows Phone 7, WebOS, BlackBerry, and others – pose a problem to Chinese authorities: like the 1990s GSM and CDMA network standards, all are foreign-made. Foreign firms, according to MII, take revenues from Chinese enterprises (like carriers’ networks) and consumers, as well as having the potential to embed socially “harmful” software apps into handsets, including mobile search for politically sensitive topics. Ultimately, a China-domestic smart phone operating system (with Chinese-made apps) plus a domestic mobile search engine will be the best strategic 3G smart phone combination for MII. Hence, MII will certainly lobby China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom (the three Chinese mobile carriers) to push handset suppliers like Lenovo and Huawei (plus other OEMs for new tablets, auto apps, TV set-top boxes) to adopt new Chinese mobile platforms.

Microsoft, Google, and other big lights of American software have dim future prospects in China. The Chinese government will see to that.

China has a big enough internal market that it can pursue the same trade policy the United States followed in the 19th century: protect domestic industries from foreign competition so that domestic markets are serviced by companies that have their loyalties firmly for the nation and so that the elites that profit from economic growth will be domestic elites. This policy worked well for the United States, btw.

Contrast this with the free trade globalism of our own elites which admits to no doubts in Ricardo's fairly simple model of comparative advantage (or am I being unfair to Ricardo?). Which will do better in the long run?

By Randall Parker 2010 August 03 08:53 PM  China
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Low Consumer Debt In China

One of the things China has going for it: little consumer debt.

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— The Chinese government has made several reforms to its economic policies in recent years. Despite these reforms, a new study shows that Chinese households are not utilizing their credit market to its fullest extent. Rui Yao, a researcher in the department of Personal Financial Planning in the College of Human Environmental Sciences at the University of Missouri, says a recent survey of urban Chinese households shows that the Chinese credit market remains underdeveloped.

“On average, Chinese urban households own very little debt, which indicates that they are not utilizing debt to level their life-cycle consumption,” Yao said. “While it is good that Chinese households aren’t overspending, refraining from taking advantage of the credit market is slowing the Chinese economy.”

It is my impression that local governments in China are far more deeply in debt and the banks have lent too much to dodgy businesses. Have the local governments sold their debt to state banks or consumer savers? If a bubble bursts in China it will be with business loans or governments hitting funding problems. The Chinese government will have to bail out its banks or risk a massive run on the banks.

While we hear a lot about a big real estate price bubble in China the prices there have not been driven up by excess mortgage issuance.

Yao studied the data collected by researchers at Tsinghua University in Beijing, during a 2008 survey of urban Chinese households. The survey showed that only 11 percent of Chinese urban households held any kind of debt, compared to nearly 80 percent of U.S. households. The survey also revealed that while more than 85 percent of Chinese households owned residential properties, less than 10 percent hold a mortgage on their property. This is compared to the U.S., where more than 70 percent of households have a current mortgage on their homes

The study reports a 50% savings rate among Chinese consumers. Are they saving up to buy houses? Or saving for retirement?

Speaking as someone who has a high savings rate, I'm either saving for retirement or rejuvenation therapies. Imagine hundreds of millions of aging Chinese trying to withdraw their money from government banks in order to buy rejuvenation therapies. I expect China to become the biggest market for rejuvenation therapies.

Update: Note in the comments the comments by Zoolbia about intra-family lending in China to fund property speculation. If this is true then I'm still puzzled. Family size in China is small. How many relatives are behind each housing purchase? How distant are the relatives from the buyers?

By Randall Parker 2010 August 03 08:10 PM  China
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2010 August 01 Sunday
Sarah Palin: Barack Obama Does Not Have Big Balls

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is more masculine than Barack Obama. Barack just isn't sufficiently masculine to take on the illegal immigration problem.

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin said Sunday that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has "the cojones" that President Obama "does not have" to take on illegal immigration.

Say what you will about Sarah Palin's IQ. She's got great political instincts knowing how to hit Obama where he's weak. The guy just does not come across as all that masculine. Surely I'm not the only person to notice this. There's something nerdish about Obama. It makes him vulnerable to attack from a woman calling him weak.

Palin thinks Obama should crack the whip against sanctuary cities.

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Palin (R) blasted Obama for suing to block Arizona's controversial new law and attacked him in particular for not addressing "sanctuary cities" -- where local law enforcement is prohibited from asking people about their immigration status. Arizona's law bans sanctuary cities.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 01 07:52 PM  Immigration Politics
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Most Americans Prefer State Immigration Enforcement

Most Americans do not see the US federal government as up to the task of immigration law enforcement on their own. So then most Americans have an accurate assessment of the situation.

4* Which is the better approach to dealing with illegal immigration—allowing individual states to act on their own to enforce immigration laws or relying upon the federal government to enforce immigration laws?

  • 53% Allowing individual states to act on their own to enforce immigration laws
  • 41% Relying on the federal government to enforce immigration laws
  • 6% Not sure

As Heather Mac Donald points out, the Obama Administration and a sympathetic federal judge demonstrate by their opposition to Arizona's law on immigration enforcement that the people are right to put greater trust in the states.

Judge Bolton’s ruling regarding S.B. 1070’s provision on the possession of immigration documents verges on bad faith. S.B. 1070 adopts virtually verbatim a federal law requiring lawful aliens to carry their immigration papers with them; the Arizona version merely lessens the federal penalties regarding the amount of the fine and possible jail time for violation of the federal document requirement. As the judge notes, federal registration power is exclusive; Congress’s registration scheme may not be altered by the states. But nothing in S.B. 1070 changes the rules for registration; the Arizona law merely confirms those rules in state law. Judge Bolton alleges that the Arizona provision “alters the penalties” in the federal law, without disclosing that the Arizona law lowers them. She concludes without the slightest trace of argument that the Arizona document provision “stands as an obstacle to the uniform federal registration scheme and is therefore impermissible.”

The only factually plausible objection to S.B. 1070’s document requirement and to the provision authorizing inquiries into an alien’s status is that Arizona may penalize someone for being in the country illegally whom the federal government intends to ignore. It is the effect of the law on illegal aliens, not on legal ones, that has most upset the Obama administration and illegal-alien advocates (the Bush administration would probably have reacted similarly). A large reason why S.B. 1070’s impact on illegal aliens was so carefully kept offstage in the federal government’s brief and the judge’s ruling is that Congress has repeatedly expressed its intention that local governments cooperate with the federal government in the “apprehension, detention or removal or [illegal] aliens,” as a 1996 federal law declares. The very immigration-information clearinghouse that Judge Bolton worries would be overtaxed by S.B. 1070 was created to effectuate Congress’s mandate that the federal and local governments share information regarding illegal aliens. As the Senate declared in 1996 when banning sanctuary laws (a ban whose disregard in Arizona led to S.B. 1070): “illegal aliens do not have a right to remain in the U.S. undetected and apprehended.” If in fact that information clearinghouse becomes burdened with “too many” inquiries from Arizona, it’s for the executive branch to seek greater funding. Congress never said: We want information sharing, but only up to a point. Moreover, many of Arizona’s own law-enforcement officers are capable of using the federal immigration database without needing to go through federal channels.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 01 03:55 PM  Immigration Elites Versus Masses
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Euro Muslims Going Off To Jihad

The New York Times reports on Muslims living in European countries who hear the calling to fight for their religion.

FRANKFURT — Before Abi left her parents’ house in northern Germany last year, she asked her father, “Daddy, what can I bring you from my journey?” He looked up from his book and answered, “Some perfumed oil.” “Will do,” she said, hugging him goodbye.

Abi and her husband decided to take a walk on the wild side and join up with the Mujahideen. Apparently many other European Muslims are doing the same.

He is still waiting, more than a year later, for her to return.

Abi, now 23, and her husband never made the trip they said they had planned to Saudi Arabia to visit Mecca and Medina. Instead they became part of a growing number of young Muslims from Germany and other European countries who travel to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, eventually ending up in the camps of groups affiliated with Al Qaeda or the Taliban.

Is this a problem? Islam's values are not compatible with Western values. Look at it on the bright side: Some Muslims are leaving Germany for good. European countries should encourage this sort of thing. Then make sure more do not arrive to take their place.

The article says that Muslims who return to Germany remain associated with "more militant Muslims". But Muslims see themselves as embracing a religion of peace. In their view if everyone submits to Islam then there'll be peace. So then are the Jihadists militants? Or are the Germans who refuse to submit to Islam the real militants? After all, if they would just submit then there'd be no reason for holy war. Seems like it is a value judgment to decide which is the right viewpoint. Did the New York Times reporter fail to respect the diverse values of Muslim holy warriors by calling them militants?

Mind you, I think the values of the Germans are superior to those of the Muslims. But then I do not pretend to embrace multi-culturalism or diversity clap-trap.

The French believe a nation is bound together by commonly held values.

Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie told deputies that wearing a face-covering veil "amounted to being cut off from society and rejecting the very spirit of the French republic that is founded on a desire to live together."

"At a time where our societies are becoming more global and complex, the French people are pondering the future of their nation. Our responsibility is to show vigilance and reaffirm our commonly-shared values," she said.

I had been wondering whatever happened to Osama Bin Laden's right hand man Ayman al-Zawahri? Seems like he has become a one-hit wonder. But he's trying to get back into the game by coming to the defense of veil-wearing Muslim women in France.

In the 47-minute recording, Ayman al-Zawahri said the drive by France and other European nations to ban the veil amounted to discrimination against Muslim women.

"Every single woman who defends her veil is a holy warrior ... in the face of the secular Western crusade," he said.

My take: If Muslims in France want to wear the veil then the French government should pay for airplane tickets to allow those Muslims to move to a country where veil-wearing is accepted and even celebrated. Why should Muslims have to live oppressed among heathens when they can move to a country which is majority Muslim? Then the French should ban all Muslim immigration in order to protect Muslims from teh French veil ban. It is only fair.

Jihadists in America have been foiled so far. But for how long?

The Times Square plot marked the second time in less than six months that a local group whom it was believed lacked the capability to operate outside its traditional battleground had struck. On Christmas Day, a young Nigerian student acting at the behest of another close al-Qaeda ally, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), nearly succeeded in bringing down a Northwest Airlines flight in the skies over America. As a senior Obama administration official responsible for counterterrorism explained shortly afterward, “AQAP was looked upon as a lethal organization, but one focused [only] on the Arabian Peninsula. We thought they would attack our embassy in Yemen or Saudi Arabia” —and not in the United States. The Obama administration has now twice been caught either underestimating or dismissing the possibility that local terrorist groups may harbor grander international aspirations—that is, to attack in the United States itself as well as against overseas American targets. It was of course the Bush administration’s similar dismissal of al-Qaeda’s ability to strike at the United States in this country that led to the September 11, 2001, attacks.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 01 12:50 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
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Muslim Feminist Supports Burqa Ban

Yes, I am aware that "Muslim Feminist" is a contradiction in terms. Ryan Brown of Salon interviews an Egyptian-born Muslim woman who supports a burqa ban in France. Note you can't be sure she really is still a Muslim because if she's not she'd be afraid to say so.

Ahead of parliament's vote on Tuesday, we went to Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian-born journalist who calls herself "a liberal, a Muslim and a feminist," to better understand the argument for a ban.

Why do you support a ban on the burqa in France?

I support banning the burqa because I believe it equates piety with the disappearance of women. The closer you are to God, the less I see of you -- and I find that idea extremely dangerous. It comes from an ideology that basically wants to hide women away. What really strikes me is that a lot of people say that they support a woman's right to choose to wear a burqa because it's her natural right. But I often tell them that what they're doing is supporting an ideology that does not believe in a woman's right to do anything. We're talking about women who cannot travel alone, cannot drive, cannot even go into a hospital without a man with them. And yet there is basically one right that we are fighting for these women to have, and that is the right to cover their faces. To tell you the truth, I'm really outraged that people get into these huge fights and say that as a feminist you must support a women's right to do this, because it's basically the only kind of "right" that this ideology wants to give women. Otherwise they get nothing.

Eltahawy is upset that it is the Right rather than the Left that is pushing hardest to ban the burqa. She distrusts the Right's motives and think they do not really care about the rights of women.

I look at Islam in countries where Muslims are a majority and it is clear that Islam does not accept religious freedom. In some Muslim countries (e.g. Saudi Arabia) houses of worship for other religions isn't allowed at all. In other Muslim countries (e.g. Egypt) considerable regulatory obstacles to the construction of churches and other discrimination against Christians make their second class position clear. Muslims want equality for themselves in countries where they are a minority but superior position for themselves where they are a majority. So their arguments for religious freedom are mendacious. Islam is not compatible with Western values. We should not pretend it is.

By Randall Parker 2010 August 01 11:27 AM  Civilizations Clash Of
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