No Immigration Amnesty Without a Minimum Wage Hike

No Immigration Amnesty Without a Minimum Wage Hike
Salon, May 18, 2013

Congress is currently considering bipartisan legislation providing an amnesty for America’s 11 million illegal immigrants, probably combined with extra visas for skilled workers and an agricultural guestworker program. But principled liberals and conservatives should both demand that any immigration reform proposal also include a sharp rise in the federal minimum wage.

The reason is simple. Any increase in the supply or job mobility of willing workers will tend to benefit Capital at the expense of Labor, stifling any growth in working-class wages, especially given our high unemployment rates. The last 40 years have seen a huge increase in immigration, and it is hardly coincidental that median American wages have been stagnant or declining throughout most of this same period. A large boost in the minimum wage, perhaps to $12 an hour or more, would be the best means of reversing our current economic race to the bottom. Continue reading

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American Pravda: Barrels of Gunpowder and Sparks

As I often tell people, there seems a totally unpredictable, even random aspect to major American media coverage.  Whether a scandal explodes into the public eye or escapes without notice seems difficult to foretell.

Consider the recent example of Dr. Jason Richwine, late of the Heritage Foundation, whose ideological travails became one of Washington’s major scandals-of-the-month over the past week.  Googling his exact name now yields half a million web results, and I’d guess that 99% of these are of extremely recent vintage.

As some media commentators have suggested, Richwine himself may be wondering Why Me and Why Now?  After all, the racial writings and opinions that provoked so much media fury had never been secretive or disguised; they were always hiding in plain sight.

His Harvard doctoral dissertation asserting the strong connection between race and IQ and suggesting that American immigration policy should be changed to reflect this relationship has been freely available on the Internet for years, as have been video clips of his public pronouncements on the same subject. His articles and columns arguing that Hispanics have unusually high crime rates—mostly written in rebuttal to my own contrary findings—have always been a mouse-click away, and anyone checking would have noticed that these writings had appeared in Alternative Right, a racial nationalist webzine whose ideological orientation has now suddenly been classified as poisonous by the Washington commentariat. Continue reading

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Race/IQ: The Jason Richwine Affair

TAC-RaceIQAmid loud cries of “Witch! Witch! Burn the Witch!” an enraged throng of ideological activists and media pundits late last week besieged the fortress-like DC headquarters of the conservative Heritage Foundation, demanding the person of one Jason Richwine, Ph.D., employed there as a senior policy analyst. The High Lords of Heritage, deeply concerned about any possible threat to their million-dollar salaries, quickly submitted, though they waited until late Friday, the dead-zone period of national news coverage, before announcing that young Dr. Richwine had been expelled into the Outer Darkness.

Only a week earlier, Richwine had reached a pinnacle of his career, listed as co-author of a widely trumpeted Heritage research study demonstrating that Congressional passage of proposed immigration reform legislation would cost American taxpayers some six trillion dollars…or perhaps the figure was six quadrillion dollars.

But then some enterprising journalist discovered the dreadful evidence of Richwine’s horrific heresy, namely that his 2009 doctoral dissertation at the Harvard Kennedy School had focused on the very low IQs of those racial groups providing most of our current immigrants, with his conclusion being that such inflows must be halted lest American society be dumbified into disaster. Taken together Race and IQ constitute an exceptionally volatile mix in modern American society, and ignited by a six trillion dollar spark, the resulting explosion blew Richwine out of his comfortable DC employment. Continue reading

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Race/IQ Revisited

TAC-RaceIQFor a combination of demographic and ideological reasons few topics in American public life are more explosive than those involving race.

Racial factors obviously underlie a wide range of major public policy issues yet are almost always ignored by nearly all participants. However, every now and then a careless statement or uncovered document will suddenly bring these subterranean flows to the surface, producing a volcanic eruption of white-hot controversy. Thus American politicians and policy analysts, knowingly or not, spend most of their careers walking through mine fields and occasionally blowing themselves up.

Consider the newly released Heritage Foundation report sharply criticizing the fiscal impact of the proposed immigration reform legislation currently being considered by Congress.  For a couple of days the focus had been on the green eyeshades issue of whether the multi-trillion-dollar claims had improperly failed to include dynamic scoring in their underlying econometric model.  But then the debate suddenly took an explosively controversial turn when the media discovered that co-author Jason Richwine possessed a long paper-trail of highly heretical racial views, especially with regards to IQ matters.

Racial differences constitute the intellectual pornography of our American elites, and The New York Times, The Washington Post, and a host of web journalists are now eagerly covering this prurient debate, which seems likely to overshadow any analysis of the original 92-page report itself. Most mainstream conservative pundits have been sharply critical of Richwine, but a few associated with the VDare webzine, such as Steve Sailer and John Derbyshire, have risen to his strong defense. Continue reading

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American Pravda: Reality Television

The early reaction to my “American Pravda” article has been quite encouraging, with the piece attracting more traffic during its first week than nearly any of my others and with several websites discussing, excerpting, or even republishing it. Furthermore, the average time spent on the page by readers steadily rose to nearly a full hour as the days went by, seeming to indicate that visitors were carefully absorbing and digesting my material rather than merely flitting away after a casual glance or two. Tens of thousands of individuals have now apparently read part or all of my arguments, though whether they will have any lasting impact is difficult to say.

After all, we live in the Age of Television, when the images we see on the small screen—or its cinematic big brother—define our known world with far greater force than does the printed word or sometimes even the direct evidence of our own senses. Television may not be reality, but for all too many Americans, Reality is often Television.

Consider one of the most copiously sourced of the unreported scandals that I described, namely the long Vietnam POW cover-up so exhaustively documented by Pulitzer Prize-winner Sydney Schanberg. The evidence is overwhelming, the supporters include individuals of the highest credibility, and the governmental denials have largely been perfunctory. But since the story has not been widely featured on popular cable news chat shows, the events remain almost entirely “unreal” to the vast majority of today’s American journalists and the public they purport to inform. Continue reading

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Our American Pravda

Now read “Our American Pravda” at The Unz Review

In mid-March, the Wall Street Journal carried a long discussion of the origins of the Bretton Woods system, the international financial framework that governed the Western world for decades after World War II. A photo showed the two individuals who negotiated that agreement. Britain was represented by John Maynard Keynes, a towering economic figure of that era. America’s representative was Harry Dexter White, assistant secretary of the Treasury and long a central architect of American economic policy, given that his nominal superior, Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr., was a gentleman farmer with no background in finance. White was also a Communist agent.

Such a situation was hardly unique in American government during the 1930s and 1940s. For example, when a dying Franklin Roosevelt negotiated the outlines of postwar Europe with Joseph Stalin at the 1945 Yalta summit, one of his important advisors was Alger Hiss, a State Department official whose primary loyalty was to the Soviet side. Over the last 20 years, John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and other scholars have conclusively established that many dozens or even hundreds of Soviet agents once honeycombed the key policy staffs and nuclear research facilities of our federal government, constituting a total presence perhaps approaching the scale suggested by Sen. Joseph McCarthy, whose often unsubstantiated charges tended to damage the credibility of his position.

The Cold War ended over two decades ago and Communism has been relegated to merely an unpleasant chapter in the history books, so today these facts are hardly much disputed. For example, liberal Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein matter-of-factly referred to White as a “Soviet spy” in the title of his column on our postwar financial system. But during the actual period when America’s government was heavily influenced by Communist agents, such accusations were widely denounced as “Red-baiting” or ridiculed as right-wing conspiracy paranoia by many of our most influential journalists and publications. In 1982 liberal icon Susan Sontag ruefully acknowledged that for decades the subscribers to the lowbrow Readers Digest had received a more realistic view of the world than those who drew their knowledge from the elite liberal publications favored by her fellow intellectuals. I myself came of age near the end of the Cold War and always vaguely assumed that such lurid tales of espionage were wildly exaggerated. I was wrong.

The notion of the American government being infiltrated and substantially controlled by agents of a foreign power has been the stuff of endless Hollywood movies and television shows, but for various reasons such popular channels have never been employed to bring the true-life historical example to wide attention. I doubt if even one American in a hundred today is familiar with the name “Harry Dexter White” or dozens of similar agents.

The realization that the world is often quite different from what is presented in our leading newspapers and magazines is not an easy conclusion for most educated Americans to accept, or at least that was true in my own case. For decades, I have closely read the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and one or two other major newspapers every morning, supplemented by a wide variety of weekly or monthly opinion magazines. Their biases in certain areas had always been apparent to me. But I felt confident that by comparing and contrasting the claims of these different publications and applying some common sense, I could obtain a reasonably accurate version of reality. I was mistaken.

Aside from the evidence of our own senses, almost everything we know about the past or the news of today comes from bits of ink on paper or colored pixels on a screen, and fortunately over the last decade or two the growth of the Internet has vastly widened the range of information available to us in that latter category. Even if the overwhelming majority of the unorthodox claims provided by such non-traditional web-based sources is incorrect, at least there now exists the possibility of extracting vital nuggets of truth from vast mountains of falsehood. Certainly the events of the past dozen years have forced me to completely recalibrate my own reality-detection apparatus. Continue reading

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Gay Germ Censorship

The notion of a Gay Germ—homosexuality transmitted as some sort of infection—probably horrifies many mainstream intellectuals unfamiliar with the details of modern evolutionary biology.  Therefore, it is perhaps unsurprising that my recent column discussing that subject quickly provoked a striking example of Internet censorship.  But the circumstances were different than people might naively expect.

Most of the responses to my analysis were quite reasonable and respectful.  Anthropologist Peter Frost published a column questioning some of my arguments, which generated an extended comment thread.  George Mason University’s Genetic Literacy Project also provided a brief summary and link.

However, a target of my critique had been Dr. Gregory Cochran, a leading Gay Germ advocate, who had recently ridiculed the intelligence of my old professor E.O. Wilson for remarks supporting the contrary Gay Gene hypothesis.  I merely pointed out that to the extent powerful selective pressures would have weeded out any hypothetical Gay Gene, exactly those same selective pressures would have tended to remove susceptibility to a Gay Germ as well, so that to a considerable extent the two theories suffered from similar theoretical weaknesses and were not so obviously distinct.

Now Cochran is a notoriously arrogant and irascible researcher, and he reacted to my views by launching a blistering attack on his own blogsite, sharply questioning my intellect and knowledge.  Moreover, when I showed up to explicate my analysis as a commenter, he quickly banned me, possibly because I was defending my position a bit too well, and perhaps thereby “confusing” his coterie of worshipful fanboys.  My impression is that publishing a lengthy blog attack against someone and then banning the victim when he politely attempts to provide his own side of the argument is considered “bad form” on the Internet, but there are obviously individuals for whom these usual rules do not apply. Continue reading

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With all eyes and all headlines fixed so intently upon Boston’s two Caucasian Bombers, hardly anyone has been paying attention to revelations of a far more devastating disaster that unfolded close nearby, but which were generally buried on the inside pages of our major newspapers.

I refer, of course, to the Harvard Spreadsheet Glitch, the discovery of a calculation error in the early 2010 research of celebrity-economists Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart. The Rogoff-Reinhart findings had been cited by officials and international agencies throughout the world as proof of the devastating economic impact of accumulated national debt.  As a result, most governments focused their Great Recession response on the need to minimize deficit spending and cut budgets rather than try to reduce unemployment via Keynesian pump-priming, which according to the study led to disaster.  But Rogoff-Reinhardt had made an error in their calculation, so Oops! Continue reading

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“Gay Gene” vs. “Gay Germ”

The twists of intellectual fashion in our society are often quite peculiar, especially when “touchy” topics are involved.

Consider, for example, the analysis of human behavior.  Whatever most people may privately believe or say, the vocal academics and activists who control the commanding ideological heights of our media tend to claim that people act as they do largely because of social conditioning, and they often denounce or vilify those accused of the thoughtcrime of “genetic determinism.”  Note the example of (former) Harvard President Larry Summers.

But all rules have exceptions, and for some unknown reason those same activists and media organs have decided that homosexuality is genetically based, denouncing anyone who suggests otherwise.  Thus, genes officially determine gayness and nothing else, which hardly seems the most logical possibility in the world.  But pointing out such inconsistencies can get you into hot water, so few people do.

Given the remarkable dishonesty of our media elites across such a wide range of topics, there is a natural tendency to assume that the truth is probably the opposite of whatever they say about anything.  This undermines the credibility of the Gay Gene hypothesis, as does its proponents’ practice of treating scientific disagreement as religious heresy.

But frankly, the other side of the debate sometimes seems little better in its behavior.  I think one of the most highly vilified rivals to Gay Gene theory is “Gay Germ theory,” the suggestion that some sort of virus or microorganism is responsible for the behavior in question.  And just a few days ago, I noticed that evolutionary theorist Gregory Cochran, one of the leading Gay Germ proponents, had viciously insulted the intelligence of my old professor E.O. Wilson for his remarks supporting the Gay Gene side. Continue reading

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The Sidewalk Marriage Crusade

Given the unprecedented peace and prosperity currently enjoyed by nearly all Americans, it’s hardly surprising that a symbolic issue such as Gay Marriage has now moved to the forefront of the public debate, not least among the contributors to my own magazine.

Personally, it’s not the sort of issue that keeps me in a state of great ideological agitation, but since everyone else seems to be sharing his opinion, I might as well do the same, if only by pointing to the column I’d written on the subject back in the late 1990s.  I can’t say that any of my views have much changed, unlike those of a vast number of American politicians and pundits.

For me, the more important aspect of this current controversy is the insight it provides into the nature of America’s “conservative movement” and the so-called Christian Right. Some of the top leaders of the conservative anti-Gay Marriage organizations of the 2000s have now switched sides and fully endorsed the very practice they had long denounced as a social monstrosity, which is certainly a bit odd from a theological or philosophical perspective.  Have the world’s “eternal verities” suddenly been reversed in just six or seven years, or might the cause of their U-turns instead be found in the opinions of their DC cocktail-party friends or the views of the plutocrats who sign their paychecks? Continue reading

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Unz on Meritocracy: The College Admissions Season

MeritocracyThe season of college admissions is now upon us, weeks of envelopes fat and thin.

With so many teenagers now discovering their future life-prospects as dealt out by our academic gatekeepers, discussions of the selection process are appearing in our media, and some of these include reference to my own Meritocracy article of almost five months ago, focusing on the same topic.

For example, the Sunday New York Times carried an interesting discussion by columnist Ross Douthat on the Ivies and their role in producing our national elites, which included linked references to my main Meritocracy article as well as my short piece for the NYT Forum on Asian discrimination.

Given that the reach of the electronic media so greatly exceeds the number of people who ever bother reading anything, I was even more pleased to see that Fareed Zakaria’s Sunday CNN television show ran a segment on college admissions, heavily drawing upon the findings of my article; his Time magazine column covered the same topic.  One minor point of confusion was his suggestion that I had ignored the substantial number of Asian students whose fear of racial discrimination causes them to conceal their personal background and are therefore lumped into the “Race Unknown” category.  In fact, I had discussed this and similar possibilities in detail, and provided all the related data.

Assuming that the racial and ethnic distribution of Ivy League admissions this year is roughly in line with the recent past, I would hope that activists and the media finally begin exerting serious pressure on our elite schools to provide their admissions rates broken down by race.  All the campuses of the University of California system freely post such data on the Internet, and I cannot think of any non-sinister reason for the Ivy League to make such strenuous efforts to keep such numbers secret.  My strong suspicion is that release of those ethnic percentages and their historical trajectory would produce such an uproar that the front pages of every major newspaper in America might devote many weeks to the reverberations and recriminations, with senior university administrators replacing certain Catholic archbishops as the leading villains in a decades-long cover-up of truly massive proportions.

Perhaps any aspiring Woodwards and Bernsteins with friends working in Ivy League admissions offices should give some thought to just how nice a Pulitzer Prize or two might look upon their mantle. Continue reading

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The Bitter Legacy of Mickey Mouse

Developments of enormous consequence sometimes follow the most mundane of motives.

During the mid-1990s, the giant Disney Corporation became concerned that its 1928 copyright on Mickey Mouse was close to expiration.  Deploying heavy lobbying efforts, it persuaded Congress to pass and President Bill Clinton to sign what was officially entitled the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, but more informally known as the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act.”  The result was to extend Mickey’s copyright for another twenty years, and perhaps indefinitely if future corporate lobbying efforts bore similar fruit.

Now I have no particular burning desire to watch Mickey Mouse cartoons without paying for them, and I suspect that those around the world who feel otherwise simply ignore such legal restrictions, just as they watch pirated blockbuster movies only weeks after they are released into the theaters.  So if the Disney executives had merely wanted to protect their rights to old Walt’s lucrative rodent, I wouldn’t have cared in the least.  But since paying Congresspersons to enact such narrowly tailored legislation might have appeared unseemly, they decided to extend all other existing copyrights as well, including the vast number of written works possessing no financial but much intellectual value. Continue reading

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Unz on China: Debating the “Clark-Unz Model”

As an individual who often regrets his decades-old defection from the academic community, I was remarkably pleased to see anthropologist Peter Frost very generously discuss my recent China article under the rubric “the Clark-Unz Model.”  The senior researcher identified is obviously economist Gregory Clark, whose influential 2007 book A Farewell to Alms had suggested a very similar evolutionary analysis for the forces shaping the British people over most of the last thousand years.

The nearly 100 total comments on that column and Frost’s previous one have most sharply focused on what certainly seems to me to be by far the weakest aspect of my theory, namely that it would predict a substantial performance gap between Chinese and Japanese, given that the traditional rural society of the latter was totally different in nature (although Frost himself argues that there may have been more similarities than I acknowledge).  Obviously, if those two major East Asian peoples are very similar in their abilities, my analysis is probably wrong.

Certainly the conventional wisdom has always placed Chinese and Japanese in the same ability category, and if someone had raised that issue with me a year ago, I would have been very skeptical of any large difference.  But while I was performing the research for my Meritocracy article I encountered some striking data.

California contains almost one-third of America’s total Asian population, and its Chinese outnumber its Japanese by about 3.5 to 1.  But among the high-ability NMS semifinalist students in recent years, there have roughly 750 Chinese names each year as opposed to a mere 15 or so Japanese ones.  Obviously, much of this difference may be explained by factors of cultural assimilation, differences in the age-distribution curves, and the impact of selective recent Chinese immigration.  However, a 50-to-1 difference in the number of top academic students is large enough to catch one’s eye and make one wonder whether there might possibly also exist the sort of intrinsic factors produced by many centuries of disparate selective pressure.  I’d also noticed that although a truly remarkable fraction of all the winners of America’s various national academic competitions had been Chinese, the number of Japanese names was so small that I never even bothered to separately record them. Continue reading

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Unz on China: Chinese Eugenics?

In modern American society, few terms carry the negative and socially disreputable ring of “eugenics,” first coined by Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton and later widely advocated by Margaret Sanger, America’s founding mother of birth control and abortion.  Denouncing one’s opponents as eugenicists has become a mainstay of political rhetoric across both the Left and Right, while also being an excellent means of attracting attention.

This combination of visibility and negativity left me with mixed feelings when I noticed “Chinese Eugenics” as the lead headline for the earliest discussion of my recent article suggesting that China and the Chinese may have been shaped by a thousand years or more of Social Darwinist forces.  Another slight problem was that the headline was totally incorrect.

After all, “eugenics” refers to a conscious, deliberate effort to select future generations according to some particular human ideal, while my own Chinese hypothesis could not be more dissimilar.  I had merely suggested that the extremely difficult conditions of life in traditional rural China ensured that only the hardest-working, most diligent, and most able Chinese peasants managed to survive and multiply in each generation, thereby gradually moving the Chinese people in that general direction during a thousand years of intense economic pressure.  After all, the accepted explanation for the long necks of giraffes is that in each generation only the tallest individuals gained access to available leaves, while their shorter-necked brethren often went hungry; no eugenics involved.

Indeed, after reading my article a rightwing individual with strong eugenicist leanings dropped me an anguished note, saying that my hypothesis seemed quite persuasive but also very depressing, suggesting as it did that today’s Chinese became smart and successful because their ancestors had spent most of the previous thousand years starving to death.  After all, when free market principles are taken to their “Social Darwinist” extreme, the logical result is a society in which economic achievement counts for virtually everything, and insufficiently successful families face starvation.  Add in China’s Malthusian population pressure and the relentless downward mobility produced by a strongly pro-natalist socio-cultural tradition, and the consequences seem obvious.  Intentional “eugenics” in any sense of the word had nothing to do with it.

Continue reading

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A Minimum Wage Hike as Amnesty-Killer?

My Friday Aspen Institute panel in DC on raising the minimum wage went well, though the discussion underscored the somewhat insular thinking of many of the policy elites who dominate life in our capital city.

As an example, although the audience and participants skewed heavily toward the “economic left,” several individuals mentioned how surprised they were to encounter the suggestion that our federal minimum wage be raised to $12.00 per hour—my proposal—or even higher, a notion that seemed almost unimaginable within their own policy circles. Meanwhile, former Democratic Congressman and Cabinet Secretary Dan Glickman described the politics of raising the minimum wage as being extremely difficult, given the intensity of opposition he had always encountered among many small businessmen.

These two issues are not unconnected. As I pointed out in response to Glickman’s question, a small rise in the minimum wage—such as the $9.00 figure proposed by President Obama—has limited political viability since it generates little of the enthusiasm necessarily to overcome the determined opposition of its ideological or practical opponents. Only a narrow sliver of American workers would directly benefit, their net dollar gains would be relatively small, and they represent an economic stratum that overwhelmingly votes Democratic, whenever it bothers to vote at all.  How would such a measure ever stand a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House?

But consider the very different politics of a $12.00 figure.  Over 40% of all American wage-workers would benefit, including 40% of the white Southerners who constitute the Republican base, and the mean gains for both those groups would be over $5,000 per year. Such an enormous sum of money would capture the imagination of its potential recipients, and also that of their immediate family members.  Conservative ideologues such as Rush Limbaugh would surely denounce the proposal, but many of his ditto-heads are struggling with credit-card and mortgage loans, and for an extra $5,000 per year they’d surely turn a deaf ear to his arguments or even decide to turn their radio dial.  The intensity of support for such a minimum wage hike would become every bit as great as the intensity of the regular opposition cited by Glickman.  Offering people serious money may get their serious attention. Continue reading

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Unz on Meritocracy: Dangerous Cancer Statistics

MeritocracyAbout the only detailed public criticism of my Meritocracy article by an academic has come from Prof. Janet Mertz, a Wisconsin cancer researcher.  Since her analysis draws so heavily upon her own 2008 academic paper on top performing math students, I decided that paper warranted a close examination.

The primary focus of her article was a worldwide gender analysis of top performing math students aimed at refuting the controversial speculations of former Harvard President Larry Summers, who had suggested that men might be better at math than women, at least at the very high end of math ability.  She and her co-authors therefore examined the previous twenty years of the International Math Olympiad, determining the exact number of male and female participants from all the leading countries.  They provided their findings in Table 6 (p. 1252), which I am summarizing below in terms of the male percentages for the aggregate years 1988-2008: Continue reading

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How Social Darwinism Made Modern China

How Social Darwinism Made Modern China
The American Conservative, March/April 2013

ViewAsPDF2During the three decades following Deng Xiaoping’s 1978 reforms, China achieved the fastest sustained rate of economic growth in human history, with the resulting 40-fold rise in the size of China’s economy leaving it poised to surpass America’s as the largest in the world. A billion ordinary Han Chinese have lifted themselves economically from oxen and bicycles to the verge of automobiles within a single generation.

China’s academic performance has been just as stunning. The 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests placed gigantic Shanghai—a megalopolis of 15 million—at the absolute top of world student achievement.1 PISA results from the rest of the country have been nearly as impressive, with the average scores of hundreds of millions of provincial Chinese—mostly from rural families with annual incomes below $2,000—matching or exceeding those of Europe’s most advanced and successful countries, such as Germany, France, and Switzerland, and ranking well above America’s results.2

ChinaGDP_2eThese successes follow closely on the heels of a previous generation of similar economic and technological gains for several much smaller Chinese-ancestry countries in that same part of the world, such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, and the great academic and socioeconomic success of small Chinese-descended minority populations in predominantly white nations, including America, Canada, and Australia. The children of the Yellow Emperor seem destined to play an enormous role in Mankind’s future.

Although these developments might have shocked Westerners of the mid-20th Century—when China was best known for its terrible poverty and Maoist revolutionary fanaticism—they would have seemed far less unexpected to our leading thinkers of 100 years ago, many of whom prophesied that the Middle Kingdom would eventually regain its ranking among the foremost nations of the world. This was certainly the expectation of A.E. Ross, one of America’s greatest early sociologists, whose book The Changing Chinese looked past the destitution, misery, and corruption of the China of his day to a future modernized China perhaps on a technological par with America and the leading European nations. Ross’s views were widely echoed by public intellectuals such as Lothrop Stoddard, who foresaw China’s probable awakening from centuries of inward-looking slumber as a looming challenge to the worldwide hegemony long enjoyed by the various European-descended nations. Continue reading

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Unz on Meritocracy: Almost as Wrong as Larry Summers

MeritocracySeveral years ago, Harvard President Larry Summers spoke at an academic conference on diversity issues, and casually speculated that one of the possible reasons there were relatively few female mathematics professors might be that men were just a bit better at math than women.  Although his remarks were private and informal, the massive national scandal that erupted rapidly transformed President Summers into former President Summers, and coincidentally persuaded Harvard to name its first woman president as his permanent successor.

Now I am hardly someone willing to defend Summers from a whole host of very serious and legitimate charges.  He seems to have played a major role in transmuting Harvard from a renowned university to an aggressive hedge fund, policies that subsequently brought my beloved alma mater to the very brink of bankruptcy during the 2008 financial crisis.  Under his presidency, Harvard paid out $26 million dollars to help settle international insider-trading charges against Andrei Shleifer, one of his closest personal friends, who avoided prison as a consequence.  And after such stellar financial and ethical achievements, he was naturally appointed as one of President Obama’s top economic advisors, a position from which he strongly supported the massive bailout of Wall Street and the rest of our elite financial services sector, while ignoring Main Street suffering.  Perhaps coincidentally, wealthy hedge funds had paid him many millions of dollars for providing a few hours a week of part-time consulting advice during the twelve months prior to his appointment.

Still, even a broken or crooked clock is right twice each day, and Larry Summers is not the only person in the world who suspects that men might be a bit better at math than women. However, the notion that such vile and disgusting thoughts may be concealed in a few human skulls tends to agitate many ideologues, whose motives often seem to include a powerful emotional component.  For example, MIT Professor Nancy Hopkins told reporters that she became physically ill at hearing Summers’ controversial remarks, and fled the auditorium, fearing she would black out or vomit if she remained.  Many of the other details of Summers’ defenestration may be found in the numerous columns by bloggers such as Steve Sailer. Continue reading

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Resurrecting Our Intellectual Past

As many may know, I have spent most of the last decade or more producing a content-archiving website that provides convenient, readable access to over 500,000 print articles from the 19th and 20th centuries, together with hundreds of thousands of books.

Most of these articles are drawn from what were once America’s leading journals of intellectual thought and influence, but which eventually vanished so completely that their very names have long been forgotten.  Studying our history of the last century or two without giving full consideration to these periodicals would be similar to analyzing the domestic politics of the Vietnam War while ignoring CBS, NBC, ABC, and The New York Times.

Resurrecting long dead publications is nearly as difficult as resurrecting people, and merely putting those millions of scanned pages on the Internet does not necessarily mean that anyone will notice or read them.  Therefore, as a means of promoting awareness of this valuable intellectual resource, I announced last year a historical research competition, offering prizes to the best original project produced from this material, with the requirement that Wikipedia accept the work for publication. Continue reading

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Unz on Meritocracy: Gelman’s Sixth Column

MeritocracyFor reasons best known to himself, Columbia University statistics professor Andrew Gelman has now seen fit to publish his sixth(!)  lengthy blogsite column discussing or sharply critiquing my analysis of Ivy League university admissions.  Just like most of his previous ones, he seeks to rebut my particular claim that there is a highly suspicious degree of Jewish over-representation in elite college enrollment.

Unfortunately, this latest 3,100 word piece contains new little substance beneath the paired photos of President Obama and House Speaker Boehner.  He continues to avoid the overwhelming bulk of the quantitative evidence I had provided in my 30,000 word Meritocracy analysis, instead producing a mass of obfuscatory verbiage mostly disputing the accuracy of a couple of my scattered sentences here and there, while characterizing my motivation as that of an ideological “political activist” following a pattern of “stubbornness” rather than “scholarly discourse.”  I’m no expert in psychoanalysis, but I believe Gelman’s reaction might be a classic example of what I think Freud called “psychological projection.”

As I had previously mentioned, after our initial blogsite debate became heated I sent Gelman a detailed private note outlining my own quantitative framework and suggesting that he do the same, thereby allowing us to determine exactly where we agreed and disagreed and narrowing down the scope of our dispute.  His response was that he hadn’t really investigated the issue himself and therefore didn’t have any contrasting estimates of his own.  But he asked for permission to publish our private exchange on his blogsite, which I readily granted.

I suggest that neutral observers read this Unz/Gelman exchange for themselves, and decide whether his response is as vacuous as it seems to me, even with the substantial P.S. he afterwards appended.  I believe it also provides a good indication of which of us is playing the role of the dispassionate researcher.  Indeed, Gelman’s complete refusal to engage with my data alarmed one of his agitated and anonymous commenters, who accused Gelman of pursuing an “escape route,” adding “Now that you’ve gotten into the fight don’t run away.”  Perhaps this sort of angry accusation from his erstwhile supporters helps to explain Gelman’s added P.S., plus his two subsequent columns on the subject.

Under normal circumstances it would be perfectly reasonable for Gelman to claim that he is just too busy or uninterested in the topic to produce his own quantitative estimates to compare against my own.  But given that he’s now written well over 10,000 words about my article across six separate postings, that claim begins to grow rather doubtful. Continue reading

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Undoing the Minimization of Wages in America

The front page of this morning’s New York Times carried a story highlighting the growing discontent of working-class Americans whose “wages have floundered” over the last few years despite the “record levels” of corporate profits.

Although this discontent may seem somewhat mysterious to many American politicians, who spend their time closely cosseted with affluent lobbyists or attending lavish fund-raisers organized by the wealthy, it hardly shocks me.  Most ordinary people don’t like being poor or getting steadily poorer as the years and decades go by.

As it happens, I will be in DC next week, addressing this very topic at an Aspen Institute panel focused on raising the minimum wage.  According to most news accounts, leading members of Congress were somewhat surprised when President Obama decided to include mention of the topic in his State of the Union address a couple of weeks ago, proposing an increase to $9.00 per hour.  After all, he’d originally been elected on a promise to raise the level to $9.50, and had then spent the next four years focused on the far more urgent need to bail out our Wall Street firms and restore the business confidence of the wealthiest and most parasitical elements of our suffering society.  But I suppose that low and late is better than nothing and never. Continue reading

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Unz on Meritocracy: Admitting My Mistakes

MeritocracyIn publishing a 30,000 word article covering such a broad range of complex and controversial topics, I was certain that my work would necessarily contain at least a few factual errors or omissions.  The hundreds of individuals examining my material over the last three months have located several, and being from an academic background, I am happy to recognize these:

  • On p. 20, I carelessly described America’s yearly Math Olympiad teams as having 5 members, and a sharp-eyed former Olympian noted this was incorrect.  Indeed, over the last 40-odd years, the teams have ranged from 6 to 8 members.  My actual calculations used the correct figures and remain unchanged.
  • A central core of my analysis relied upon state NMS semifinalist lists, of which I managed to locate 43 on the Internet.  The legion of commentators who reviewed my findings subsequently managed to locate a 44th, a Massachusetts list that was published in the Boston Globe during 2008.  I have analyzed this additional list and appended the results as an addendum to my Appendix E.  Incorporating this additional data produces no significant change in any of my national estimates.
  • On p. 22, I described the five most selective UC Campuses as being Berkeley, UCLA, San Diego, Davis and Irvine, and analyzed their aggregate ethnic distribution.  Commenters have persuasively argued that the Santa Barbara campus is at least as selective as Davis and Irvine, so it should have been included in my analysis.  Doing so produces no significant change in my overall results.
  • Near the beginning of my article I had noted that although complaints about official corruption of every sort are a leading topic on the Chinese Internet and also in Western media coverage, I had never once heard such a claim about admissions to elite Chinese universities.  This led me to conclude that the process was entirely meritocratic, and a couple of individuals with good knowledge of China confirmed this.  However, during one of my recent Yale Law events, a student from China stated that he and his friends were firmly convinced that any of China’s 350 Central Committee members could easily obtain an admissions slot for his friends or relatives, so my claim was incorrect.  This conflicting evidence may be reconciled if the number of such corrupt admissions each year is so tiny—perhaps a few hundred out of over eight million—that it is completely invisible to the general public.  I should note that the New York Times just ran another major story on colleges in China, emphasizing every possible unfair aspect of the system, but nonetheless indicating that admissions were entirely meritocratic and objective.


I fully acknowledge all these unavoidable errors in my work.  But the recent, widely-distributed criticism presented in the main post and lengthy comment-thread of Prof. Andrew Gelman, a prominent Ivy League statistics professor, falls into an entirely different category. Continue reading

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Unz on Meritocracy: Response to Prof. Gelman on Jewish Elite Overrepresentation

MeritocracyOne noticeable disappointment in the ongoing discussion of my Meritocracy article has been the relative lack of critical commentary.  Both my previous Hispanic Crime and Race/IQ series had unleashed vast outpouring of harsh attacks, thereby assisting me in sharpening and refining my analysis.  But I think that so far the overwhelming majority of the many published responses to my recent research have either been favorable or at least neutral and descriptive.  Fortunately, this somewhat lopsided state of affairs has now begun to change.

Early yesterday morning, Prof. Andrew Gelman, a statistics expert, published a sharp 3,500 word critique of my Jewish results, apparently based almost entirely on the critical analysis provided him by Prof. Jane Mertz and Nurit Baytch.  As it happens, their material has been floating around the Internet for at least the last couple of weeks, and one or two people had previously forwarded it to me; I also discovered that Mertz had left a couple of hostile comments on the TAC website. Since I found their work confused and specious and they never made any effort to publish it anywhere—even if only on a personal blogsite—I never bothered to directly refute it.  But now that Prof. Gelman has published major portions of it backed by his own imprimatur, I will undertake to do so.

I had actually already addressed some of these issues less than two weeks ago in a previous 1900 word column defending my techniques of Jewish surname analysis, but since neither Mertz, Baytch, nor Gelman seems to have bothered reading the piece, I must apologize for being forced to partly repeat myself. Continue reading

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The Minimum Wage, Immigration, and Affirmative Action

Earlier this week Washington Post Columnist Matt Miller published an excellent piece making the case for a large increase in the federal minimum wage, including arguments drawn from a wide range of prominent business and political figures, as well as mention of  my own recent New America article on that issue.

Given the importance of the topic, it is hardly unexpected that the column attracted some 600 comments.  But far more surprising was the overwhelmingly negative response of those readers.  Given that the Post is a centrist-liberal newspaper and Miller a centrist-liberal columnist, one suspects that the vast majority of the commenters were similarly of the centrist-liberal orientation.  But I suspect that most of their hostile remarks would have been indistinguishable from what would have greeted a similar suggestion posted on National Review or FoxNews or the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity; and therein lies a tale. Continue reading

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Racial Quotas, Harvard, and the Legacy of Bakke

Racial Quotas, Harvard, and the Legacy of Bakke
National Review Online, February 5, 2013

MeritocracyFor almost 35 years, college-admissions decisions in America have been governed by the continuing legacy of University of California v. Bakke, in which a fragmented U.S. Supreme Court struck down the use of racial quotas but affirmed the legitimacy of considering race as one factor among several. The justices are now revisiting these crucial national issues in the pending Fisher v. University of Texas decision.

According to many observers, a crucial factor in the original 1978 ruling may have been the amicus brief filed by Harvard University. America’s oldest and most prestigious academic institution emphasized that its “holistic” admissions process allowed for the creation of a racially diversified student body while avoiding any “quota system.” In fact, Justice Lewis Powell’s majority opinion cited Harvard’s approach as exemplary, suggesting it demonstrated that well-intentioned and determined university administrators could achieve ethnic diversity without using quotas. Continue reading

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