Thursday, January 30, 2014

Beating the horse dead

From the aforementioned social media foray. One commenter to whom I posed the question, were able to choose, would he opt for his son to be gay or straight, answered thusly:
Your question to me doesn't need an answer since it is out of my control. There are of course less opportunities for homosexuals overall right now but that should continue to evolve by the time my child is older. So hopefully my child will have equal access to becoming successful regardless of their biological makeup. 
... Nurture is required to bring out the best that nature has to offer. Sure, Tiger Woods has supreme innate talent, but he still practices more than anyone else. There are countless athletes that didn't have the raw talent as others do in their field, but they work their butts off even more and are able to be just as successful in many cases. So just because you may be born into poverty and on paper you are likely to fail, given adequate developmental opportunities all people have a right to improve their socioeconomic status, and can become successful. (Or would you rather the American dream not exist?)
My respond to this dodge, which was prompted by the cheap questioning of whether or not I'd love my son if he turns out to be homosexual:
There is a real chance that it will be within your control during your lifetime. Even if it is momentarily hypothetical, it an eye-opening thought experiment. 
Regarding putative reduced opportunities, that's certainly open to argument. Diversity is the value academia, the corporate world, the political establishment, and the entertainment industries all hold up as more noble than any other, and they're all overly eager to promote those who have the right characteristics, to such an extent that people do whatever they can to look like they're members of the supposedly downtrodden group(s). Wendy Davis, Elizabeth Warren, and Barack Obama, just to name a few of the most well known recent examples of people who emphasize their minority traits when they could just as easily emphasize their more mainstream characteristics if those actually paid dividends for them. But it's hardly controversial to say if Obama was (perceived) as a white guy, he wouldn't be President. 
Nature is like an anchor, nurture like the ship's sails. The boat can move a moderate amount on the surface in this direction or that one depending on how well the sails are manned, but one can only sail the boat so far in this direction or the other before it hits its outward range and is restrained by an incorrigible, immovable weight. There are lots of people who practice things relentlessly without amounting to much of anything. And then there's Mozart.
To another approvingly noting that this was the first discussion of homosexual he could remember that didn't involve religion, I wrote:
Don't think the same hardware isn't in play, though. Morality and religion are historically quite difficult to disentangle, and contemporary Western liberal democracies--what Jonathan Haidt cleverly terms "WEIRD" societies--are definitely the exception. Guys like Richard Dawkins who hyperbolically claim that religion is akin to a virus, insinuating that it's evolutionarily harmful, could hardly be farther off the mark. As NYT science reporter Nicholas Wade has argued in The Faith Instinct, and Haidt confirms from a different angle in The Righteous Mind, religion carries with it a strong evolutionary advantage in terms of ensuring moral rectitude and social cohesion among its adherents.

They may lack supernatural elements, but there are lots of sacred precepts that exist in modern America. To figure out what a society holds sacred, consider what people are forbidden to challenge without risk to their careers, reputations, and even their lives (ie, James Watson's comments regarding Western solutions for sub-Saharan Africa, Lawrence Summers tumultuous time as Harvard's president, Jason Richwine's dissertation, John Derbyshire's realtalk version of "the talk", etc etc). Mock Christianity all you want in the most vile ways possible and no one really cares, especially among the Cathedral's inner party members, but suggest that IQ differences are why non-Asian minorities consistently underperform whites and Asians on virtually every sort of cognitive test ever comprised (from ASVAB to Raven's Matrices to Firefighter exams) or that the far higher rates of venereal diseases among gays than among heterosexuals is evidence of how biologically ill-adapted the human body is for engaging in homosexual behavior, and you'd better be prepared for a serious two minutes hate followed by blacklisting.

Read about the hell Galileo was given by the Establishment of his day for picking up Copernicus' torch and proving that our solar system is heliocentric rather than geocentric. Epicycles then, institutional racism today.
From a girl responding to the predictable mix of consternation and censure I received for putatively addressing such a sensitive issue in such a callous, clinical manner:
I feel the perspective from [those upset with assertions] is falling flat here because it's an emotional one. It's very hard to argue logic with emotion, but here goes. You have never had the terrible burden of watching disapproval and disgust enter the eyes of a loved one upon revealing who you really are. Whom you've come to find out, you can't help but be. As if you've pulled the wool over their eyes or it's somehow a cruel joke on them. You haven't grown up being told you are wrong, sick, unnatural, albeit inadvertently, by most of society and more importantly, loved ones. You haven't lost friends or family members in your life because of a simple variable of human chemistry. You haven't felt the terror or shame of hoping certain people won't find out because you know they will never see, accept, or love you in quite the same way. Keep in mind also that this is different than race or sex, it's not something that outwardly presents itself. In many cases you are left dealing with the fallout of a supposed betrayal. The majority of the time this is being processed and dealt with at tender ages and while the frontal lobe is still developing.

The desire by most leftist ( if you could get them to simply articulate their angst) is not to say sexuality cannot be changed while others can: Rather, to lift all oppressive forces, to grant understanding and allowance for one's desire to live their full potential without fear or judgement, and to create a world where this is the normal. It's hard because on one hand there is the ideal that all must be allowed their own rainbow of opinions, but when those opinions rear their ugly intolerant heads, the knee jerk reaction is to say "shut up a$$hole, I'm trying to create a better world over here."
And my rejoinder, employing a thought experiment I'm pretty confident Jonathan Haidt would approve of:
Well put, especially regarding the lifting of all oppressive forces (I know I'm beating a dead horse here, but I highly, highly recommend Haidt's Righteous Mind; parenthetically, Haidt is a moderate liberal, in case you're worried I'm trying to push personally amenable propaganda here).

The argument is, at essence, a moral one, not an airtight logical one. Take your same thought experiment, but instead of someone dealing with coming out of the closet as a homosexual, imagine it's a pederast or someone who is into bestiality struggling with his urges. Principally, there isn't much difference, other than the fact that homosexuality now enjoys around 45% moral approval among the American public while support for the other deviant lifestyles enjoys less than a tenth of that. Moral parameters can change quickly, though, as shifting societal feelings about same-sex marriage illustrate.

Presuming you're among the vast majority who find sex between an adult and an adolescent or a man and his pet to be morally wrong, how would you feel seeing it pushed on all media fronts with the insinuation that if you have a problem with it, there's something wrong with you? Well, now you have an idea of how traditionalist Americans feel about homosexuality and its persistent and conspicuous celebration in popular culture.

As an interesting aside, in ancient Greece and Rome, homosexuality between two grown men was considered scandalous and frowned upon, while sex between a man and a boy was considered acceptable and even encouraged among many affluent Hellenes. The emperor Hadrian (of Hardrian's Wall fame) deified his boy lover after the young man died. Tellingly, rumors swirled that Hadrian had lost interest in the boy after he entered puberty and had been looking for an opportunity to be rid of him so he could pursue riper pre-pubescents. And Hadrian was no Caligula--he is considered one of ancient Rome's better rulers.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Born this way if gay, otherwise we all find our own way!

++Addition++Jayman adds yet another layer of ironic inanity in the comments:
Irony comes in because (obligate homosexual men, who what most are concerned with) were not "born that way" at all, since male homosexuality almost certainly is the result of a childhood infection. 
Worse still, homophobia (or homoaversion, as it should properly called, according to Greg Cochran) is itself heritable, at least 54% so. Yes, homophobes were much more "born that way" than homosexuals themselves! 
It doesn't get much more ironic than that. 
But the "born that way" meme does speak towards the prevailing attitude towards genetics. Nothing undesirable can be much heritable, for if it is so, it is seen as (not exactly accurately) being immutable. Hence, this is why sexual orientation can be inborn, but IQ, sex, or racial differences cannot.
---

 Intellectual consistency isn't exactly one of the first phrases that comes to mind when characterizing the contemporary progressive left, but isn't there just a little bit of uncomfortable cognitive dissonance felt among votaries of the Cathedral that the born-this-way message (with regards to homosexuality) is the biggest story coming out of three hours of pop culture autofellatio that is the Grammy's? So many other characteristics that have similarly innate and unchangeable (or at least inelastic) biological roots--like IQ, athletic ability, physical attractiveness, personality traits--are treated as though they are amenable to change through education and intervention.

Mock the "right wing conservatives" who think homosexuality is a personal decision, but Teach for America to make low IQ kids from the urban core into college material and undergo 10,000 hours of practice to become the next Tiger Woods and change cultural constructions of what constitutes beauty to make sows like the woman who sang with Macklemore start being perceived by red-blooded men as being as attractive as the cheerleader next door and foster an ownership society by giving free houses to people with poor credit to make them more conscientious!

To make the inane spectacle richer still, the thing being celebrated by those who superciliously parade their belief in evolution as evidence of their scientific credentials is a Darwinian death sentence. What's worse than syphilis, anemia, obesity, dementia, or any of so many countless other diseases, maladies, and conditions when it comes to evolutionary fitness? Homosexuality, of course.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fight the good fight

With access to an outlet like this blog, I generally try to keep unsolicited opinions and assertions about 'controversial' topics to a minimum in other venues; at work, on social media sites, on the field, at casual social gatherings, etc. This stuff can consume a person if he's not careful. The cynical, unhappy, misanthropic curmudgeon stereotype exists because, presumably, it to some extent reflects reality.

Sometimes, though (and with increasing frequency--I am getting older after all!) I can't help myself. On facebook I recently passed along Heartiste's characteristically acerbic post on Wendy Davis and the decadence and decay of the Western world she so aptly illustrates. In so doing, I garnered censure from, among others, my own sweet mother, who wrote:
Do you really respect a writer who lowers himself to using that kind of vulgar name-calling to try and make his point? Sounds like a mad junior high kid without much of a vocabulary.
That junior high kids the country over would die to have a tenth of his experience in the field and that his vocabulary is quite expansive aside, this is hardly an uncommon reaction among the (proportionately shrinking) good, polite, instinctively traditionalist middle-American silent majority to the tact Heartiste takes. Yet on no point of substance does she disagree with him.

With that bit of context, my response to her:
Cultural Marxism's march through the institutions has been going on more-or-less unabated for half a century now, to the extent that nearly all of the major institutions of civil life in the West--major media, big business, the political classes, academia, popular culture, mainline religious denominations, etc (conveniently described in short-hand as the Establishment or the Cathedral)--are primarily run by people with self-described progressive views. These views are at odds with the time-tested, traditional social mores of most of the country's long-settled populations. Even with control of all these megaphones, the sort of irreverent vulgarity displayed by Heartiste is still far more characteristic of the Cathedral's votaries than it is of the traditional and mostly polite mainstream traditionalists who they so viscerally despise.

How has that civil approach worked out for us over the last several decades? I'd say not very well. Sometimes it is necessary to fight fire with fire--or, in the case of someone with an adroit command of the written word like that displayed by Heartiste, fire with greek fire. As ribald as his delivery may be, the collateral damage done by a societal acceptance--and, as Davis illustrates, even glorification--of single parenthood is orders of magnitude more destructive to the social fiber (not to mention financial viability) of the country than a colorful rearguard attempt to stigmatize such damaging behavior is.

Those who state the obvious and/or things that would have hardly been controversial--let alone considered beyond the pale--just a generation ago are now at serious risk of having their careers ruined and their lives destroyed. The situation is bad. The middle class is hollowing out at a staggering rate and the incorrigible--if grimly predictable--effects of demographic changes across so much of the Western world are only accentuating that.

Speaking figuratively, I don't think there is anyway we win the cultural war at this point, but I'm confident that our chances are more dismal still if we continue to fight it asymmetrically, absorbing all sorts of insulting hyperbole and slanderous ad hominem attacks while quixotically--if nobly--refusing to repay in kind. They have the more favorable terrain and nearly all of the big guns and yet they're far more willing to employ terrorist tactics than we, the desperately besieged, are.
Extending that martial metaphor a little further, it's a mentality--one of a spy behind enemy lines!--I've increasingly come to adopt. Fight the Cathedral and its forces wherever you are able to and in whatever capacity you're able to do so.

They are increasingly aware of the Dark Enlightenment. A person hardly takes note of an ant, even if the creature has hostile intent, because it's innocuous and thus can be safely ignored. A snake or a scorpion, however, spells trouble and, accordingly, gets harshly dealt with.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Rates of atheism/agnosticism by ethnicity

Staffan wrote:
It would be interesting to look at the ethnic origin of White atheists. I'm betting they are of Northwestern European ancestry, with perhaps the Irish being an exception.
The following table shows the percentages, by ethnicity, of atheists or agnostics among GSS respondents from 2000 onward among groups with at least 50 respondents (and most samples are far larger than that):

EthnicityA/A%
1. Chinese24.3
2. Russian13.2
3. French12.8
4. Other Asian12.1
5. Scottish11.3
6. English/Welsh10.0
7. Polish9.8
8. Norwegian9.7
9. Swedish9.6
10. Italian9.4
11. German9.1
11. Puerto Rican9.1
12. Dutch8.9
13. Danish8.2
14. Czech7.1
15. Irish6.7
16. Canadian6.2
17. Filipino6.1
18. Native American5.8
18. Portuguese5.8
19. Non-Spanish West Indies5.7
20. Spanish (Iberian)5.6
21. Indian (dot)4.4
22. African3.5
23. Mexican3.0
23. "American"3.0

Perspicacious prediction regarding the Irish.

A few remarks: "Other Asian" does not include those of Japanese descent, a group for which the sample size was insufficient to be broken out with any reliability. In the American context, "Russian" also means heavily Jewish. The fathers of the Scottish Enlightenment need not spin in their graves. Echoes of Thomas Sowell's black rednecks. Should we prepare for a fifth NAM-led great awakening?

Fifteen of the 26 included ethnicities have contemporary data available from the WVS*. The percentages of respondents queried between 2005-2008 who said that God is "not at all important" in their lives:

CountryAAprxy%
1. China39.5
2. Sweden33.3
3. German31.2
4. Holland31.0
5. Norway27.9
6. France26.1
7. Great Britain19.7
8. Russia13.4
9. Canada10.3
10. India8.7
11. Italy2.0
12. Poland1.3
13. Trinidad and Tobago1.0
14. Mexico0.9
15. Ghana0.1

* Trinidad and Tobago serves as a proxy for non-Spanish West Indies ancestry and Ghana as a proxy for African ancestry.

The correlation between atheism and agnosticism among those in the US and their co-ethnics in their mother countries is an impressive 0.66 (p = .008). Excluding Russia, which is a bit of an aberration due to the heavy Jewish skew in the US, the relationship strengthens a bit more to 0.68 (p = .007). To some extent, we are indeed our father(land)'s children.

Sharp guys like Jayman and Greg Cochran have argued that ethnic self-identification among Americans should be taken with a grain of salt. Disputing a Cochran assertion instinctively feels like an act of folly, but the residual relation shown above suggests that self-reported ethnicity has utility. Census findings don't give the appearance of randomness. Of course there has been a lot of intermixing, but it seems plausible that in most cases the ethnicity that people self-identify as belonging to is the ethnicity they are most heavily descended from.

If self-described ethnicity isn't accurately derived from biology, then it is presumably a product of perceived cultural affinities. Yet among most whites in the US today, any awareness--let alone active sense--of ancestral heritage is virtually non-existent. Very few average joes think of themselves as fifth-generation German or tenth-generation English. Americans of Irish descent are a partial exception, what with St. Patty's Day and the t-shirts that accompany it, but in mid-March there are a lot of people who fancy themselves Irish for a day even though they lack any historical connection to the emerald isle. They answer "Italian" because at some point they were told by one parent that his parents' parents came over from there and from the other that her parents' parents' parents did, too.

WVS variables used (fifth wave): V192(1)

GSS variables used: YEAR(2000-2012), ETHNIC, GOD(1-2)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Liberty is equality

Liberty or equality? The inner party demands an end to your subversive questioning. Liberty is equality! Diversity is strength! This is all you need to know:


Actually, Steve Sailer improves upon this with an aphorism rivaling his "invade the world, invite the world, in hoc to the world" quip in its elegant profundity: "Liberty, equality, diversity: Pick one."

I suspect both liberty and equality are of negligible concern to the pols running KC's civil rights division. Freedom of association isn't one of the civil rights the department is concerned about, of course.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Half a minute of your time

I vaguely recall seeing this commercial a Super Bowl or two ago, but outside of the NFL I don't watch TV so I'm not sure if it's been hanging around for awhile or if it has recently been resurrected, but it serves a useful illustrative purpose that I won't skip over again. A sign of the cultural times, this one is:



Two SWPLy ice women set upon by a well-kept and attractive black man while indulging in vapid consumerism. Subsequent appearance by a senescent, rustic white geezer who fancies himself as funny but is really just pitifully risible. Black man paired with blonde white woman; goofy white guy paired with Asian woman. Everything you need to know about what's hot and what's not in contemporary America in 30 seconds.

Parenthetically, they could have inverted away from more common interracial patterning a la Disney to prevent a diversity twofer--the Asian woman--being indirectly mocked by way of association with the white guy. But what then? Either an Asian man gets the brunt or a white woman does. This isn't only unacceptable because of the conspicuous absence of a white male as a target. It's also rather unnecessary because Asian women are just on the second level of the grievance pyramid, sharing it with their co-ethnic menfolk and with white women, arguably precluded from enjoying perimeter rooms with window views, which are reserved for the Asian guys and the white women due to the substantial share of Asian ladies getting white men and their role as the too-competitive-with-our-own-SWPL-striplings-for-comfort Tiger Moms.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

(Do not) Blame Canada, blame Canada!

What do the countries we like the most have in common with us? From Pew:


It's not just that they are our allies (a nebulous term, anyway). The Saudis are allies, aren't they? It's not geographic proximity. We like Canada but we don't like Mexico. It's not latitude, either. Again, we like Canada but we don't like Russia.

Language and culture, primarily. Anglophone countries come out on top.

The great white north, with scoring for aspiring immigrants and minimal international meddling (they sent a general to Rwanda a couple of decades ago, didn't they?) even manages to beat out the place that spawned us.

Great Britain meddles some, but at least they tend to be on our side. Israel excepted, the rest of the countries we like mostly keep to themselves (and like the Kingdom of Jerusalem nine centuries ago, its attempts to rope Europeans into bailing it out are entirely understandable if we put ourselves in Baldwin's Netanyahu's shoes).

The ones that challenge us--and I use "us" and "we" in this context for convenience, not out of a feeling of personal solidarity with our federal government and its priorities--are the ones we don't much care for: Russia with its hetero-fascism; China with its currency manipulations, cheap consumable dumps, and pushing of the military envelope; Mexico with its exportation of its unemployable social problems north of the border in return for tens of billions of dollars every year; Saudi Arabia for its inhabitants' tendencies to so often knock things down and blow things up.

Mexico is especially remarkable since our national media pays it so little mind (not for lack of demand). When it does come up, it is generally apologized for. The other bottom feeders, in contrast, are countries elites on both the left and the mainstream right aren't too keen on. No amount of sweet talking is enough to make people ignore what they're own lying eyes tell them about Mexico's contemporary contributions to the US. Additionally, Mexicans comprise a larger share of the foreign-born residing in the US (and thus participating in Pew's survey) than residents from any of the other countries considered do, yet even with this putative home team boost, Mexico still gives a poor showing. US' natives really aren't enamored of the place.

Parenthetically, from its inception in the early seventies through 1994, the GSS asked respondents how warmly they felt towards England, Brazil, Japan, Israel, China, and Russia. The higher the nation's score (which I've inverted, 0-9, for ease of comprehension from the survey's results), the warmer the feelings of the American public are:

CountryWarmth
England6.79
Brazil5.41
Japan5.33
Israel5.21
China4.43
Russia3.49

Every day things change but basically they stay the same.

GSS variables used: ENGLAND, BRAZIL, JAPAN, ISRAEL, CHINA, RUSSIA

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

This is what a beta looks like

The post's title really isn't supposed to be ironic or snarky, it's genuine. The GSS previously presented a question that quintessentially distinguishes alphas from betas in the Game paradigm. Heartiste hasn't commented on it previously so far as I am aware, but I doubt he'd disagree. It asks respondents whether or not they'd rather suffer so that their loved one wouldn't have to. The GSS item breaks down 70% beta/30% alpha in terms of responses, roughly in line with real-world Game estimates among the male population. It was the impetus for a post a couple of years ago entitled "profile of an alpha".

Anyway, when it comes to my son, I'm beta all the way. After having a baby, everyone inevitably asks about it the first time they see you after the birth. After several polite but empty iterations about it being "great" or "awesome", I made a conscious effort to try to actually start providing a thoughtful response to the inquiries of friends and acquaintances who asked about it.

The most genuine one I'm able to offer is that as soon as I laid eyes on him I was overwhelmed with a sense of devotion stronger than anything I've ever felt for anyone or anything else in my life. If I met the devil in the wilderness, his efforts at tempting me with any combination of wine, women, and power in exchange for my little man would fall on deaf ears. There's no conceivable personal gain I'd exchange if it meant harm would come to him. Not all men have nurturing instincts, but most do--something that can easily be forgotten amidst talk of maternal instinct, mother-child bonding, etc. Humans are zoologically rather unusual in terms of the high amount of paternal investment in offspring we exhibit. Some men (and some races?) more than others.

Fortunately, so far it hasn't required anything near that level of foregone pleasure and enjoyment:


Sunday, January 05, 2014

Pat Buchanan would get it

Randall Parker on the benefits of a higher minimum wage and his support for Ron Unz' California initiative:
The public health benefit: Since fast foods are harmful higher prices will discourage people from eating them. 
Smaller welfare state: People who make more money will qualify for fewer social welfare programs. We net taxpayers will save money. The Gray Lady's article actually mentioned this benefit. 
The immigration benefit: The average skill level of immigrants will go up when the supply of low skilled jobs suitable for low skilled immigrants gets radically curtailed by high prices. 
The innovation benefit: High prices for labor are a great incentive for innovation. Look at what manufacturing unions did to boost investments in equipment that raises productivity. 
Cheaper restaurants in the long run: The automation of food preparation will ultimately lead to cheaper restaurants (so, yes, the public health benefit will be transitory).
When I was in college, I used to unctuously argue that red state governments should ditch the trickle down argument and instead capitulate, admitting they are unable--and their constituents unwilling--to give the poor and downtrodden the legs up they need. Instead, they should use the meager funds they were squandering on such attempts to transport their impoverished populations to blue states where they could be more adequately coddled. It's how someone with a distinctly middle class background morally postures while simultaneously trying to demonstrate independent thought, which I naively thought at the time was something the college atmosphere was actually designed to foster. It made for decent undergraduate discussions at a state university, anyway!

Randall's support for the minimum wage is a variant on that thinking, and unlike urging red states to gift wrap their huddled masses and ship them to the coasts, his idea is practicable. Randall mentions some other western states that allow for ballot initiatives like California does. In addition to the golden state, he mentions Arizona, Oregon, and, worst of all, Colorado. If he had his way, lots more terminally poor immigrants would find low cost-of-living Kansas a reasonable destination. Zip it, Randy!

Contemporary political alignments in the US are such that there isn't one party that backs a bunch of policies that all have the real-world consequences of increasing (or decreasing) the total levels of human capital in the locales that adopt them, or at least not clearly so (ie, the left's support for environmental and other zoning restrictions on commercial and residential construction on one hand and its support for affirmative action hiring practices on the other, etc).

High minimum wages discourage illegal immigration because they negate the the major advantage illegals offer. If slavery still existed as an institution in the US, a mandated minimum wage would, principally, similarly damage it. What it didn't wipe out, it would at least push it underground. Indeed, an almost certain consequence of Ron Unz' initiative, if passed, will be an expansion in the size of the cash (or, more aptly referred to, underground) economy. It's an example of a putatively leftist cause that has the effect of increasing human capital.

Welfare benefits, on the other hand, encourage illegal immigration. This is still one of the biggest issues the left pushes (and the mainstream right opposes) and it has an effect on human capital opposite of what hiking the minimum wage has.

The traditional right needs to get behind artificially pushing up the wage floor while maintaining opposition to increases in social spending. A state that adopted this seemingly 'contradictory' set of policy initiatives, especially one with a large illegal immigrant population (Arizona being the most plausible trailblazer, as it has a heroic recent history when it comes to combating foreign settlement within its borders) could really see an exodus in illegal immigrants from said state as a consequence.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Not everything in life is muddled and befuddled

Ben Southwood left the following comment worth remarking upon in the thread on a previous post concerning feminism's War on Biology:
Mainly interesting and reasonably plausible, but the bit about female entry into the labour market and wages is almost certainly untrue, something I'd bet practically any economist could agree on. When a woman enters the labour force she adds to demand as well as supply. When this sort of argument comes from someone with other reasons they don't like women working, then it sounds very much like motivated reasoning.
Perhaps, though it seems nearly every economist professes to believe that immigration exerts no meaningful downward pressure on wages, too, and I'm unconvinced on that front as well!

In fact, I think there is a lot of overlap in the two fallacies. Adding wage earners will increase total consumer spending, but that's not what anyone outside of GMU cares about. The important issue is whether or not it raises per capita spending power. Annexing Mexico tomorrow would increase the United States' GDP by 8% in one fell swoop, but we'd be a poorer country as a consequence.

If the new wage earners earn more than the existing wage earners, then it is possible (though not necessarily the case) that income per wage earner will increase overall, but if the new wage earners earn less than the existing wage earners--as is overwhelming the case in the US with both women and immigrants--per capita wages are going to stagnate or even decline despite improvements in productivity. Additionally, a growing labor pool and the subsequent increase in competition among wage earners that larger labor pool brings with it, allows those who own the means of production to reap more benefit from productivity gains than those who work for them as employees do. That's been the story for decades now.

Women continue to earn less than men not because of irrational discrimination in the workplace--if that was the case, you or I could get rich tomorrow by starting a firm in an industry where such irrational discrimination is commonplace, overwhelmingly hire the qualified, underpaid women in the field who are getting snubbed, and watch the profits flow in... Okay, that's hyperbolic and oversimplified, and there is of course some level of irrationality in virtually all human affairs, but this sort of irrational discrimination is isolated and marginal in the contemporary scheme of things.

Instead, it is because they are less interested in and less devoted to their careers than men are for obvious biological and cultural reasons--reasons that the vast majority of people instinctively understand. Additionally, they aren't as adept men in industries that pay exceptionally well--primarily those requiring lots of high level math, like engineering and physics.

Parenthetically, immigrants in the US earn less than natives because they tend to be less educated, less intelligent, and less entrepreneurial than indigenous Americans are, and the gap doesn't close even after multiple generations of their descendants have been in the country.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

The 41 nations more migrant than this 'nation of immigrants'

Since the phrase "nation of immigrants" was first used in reference to the United States 80 years ago, it's regularly been invoked by politicians, chambers of commerce, journalists, charities, and ethnic activist groups as the most vitally important aspect of our collective national character.

Here is a list of countries who put us to shame by outdoing America and its Dreamers by boasting higher shares of immigrants in their contemporary populations than we do: Andorra, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Monaco, Kuwait, Macau, Palestine, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bahrain, Jordan, Nauru, Israel, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Brunei, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Switzerland, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Latvia, Canada, Gabon, Lebanon, Kazakhstan, the Cook Islands, New Zealand, Gambia, Estonia, Belize, Palau, Austria, the Ukraine, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Norway, the Ivory Coast, and Moldova.

I wonder if Bryan Caplan is more troubled by how far down we are on this list or how far down we are in the PISA rankings, because going up in one means going down in the other. As the economist well knows, life is about trade offs, after all.