December 24, 2004

British vs. French ex-Empires:

As I discussed below, one of the most popular papers in recent economics was "Law and Finance," which argued that countries whose legal systems derive from the British common law provide more protection of outside shareholders than countries with French-derived law codes. Over time, however, this useful little insight has bloviated into a general explanation for the wealth and poverty of nations, illustrating the tendency of modern economists to not see what is in front of their noses.

A reader writes:

I'm curious to hear how they compare the relative performance of Taiwan and Singapore, both with Chinese populations, the latter with a British legal heritage and the former without such a heritage, but with almost identical GDPs per capita today. There is clearly some benefit to be derived from *not* being ruled by mainland China, but it seems to matter rather less *who* colonized you (at least, between Britain and Japan).

I'm also curious to hear how they compare the relative performance of Malaysia and Thailand. Their economic performance is fairly similar (Malaysia is a bit ahead) but Thailand was never colonized at all. (Thailand, by the way, is about 14% ethnic Chinese, not so wildly different from Malaysia's 24%.)

It's interesting to look at the list below of countries in Africa, their former colonial masters, and GDP per capita (PPP method, from the CIA factbook), ranked by GDP per capita:

Country Colonial Power $GDP per Capita
South Africa Britain 10,700
Botswana Britain 9,000
Namibia Britain (prev German) 7,200
Tunisia France 6,900
Libya Italy 6,400
Algeria France 6,000
Gabon France 5,500
Swaziland Britain 4,900
Egypt Britain 4,000
Morocco France 4,000
Lesotho Britain 3,000
Equatorial Guinea Spain 2,700
Ghana Britain 2,200
Guinea France 2,100
Angola Portugal 1,900
Zimbabwe Britain 1,900
Sudan Britain 1,900
Mauritania France 1,800
Cameroon France (prev German) 1,800
Gambia Britain 1,700
Senegal France 1,600
Togo France 1,500
Uganda Britain 1,400
Cote D'Ivoire France 1,400
Rwanda Belgium 1,300
Djibouti France 1,300
Chad France 1,200
Sao Tome & Principe Portugal 1,200
Mozambique Portugal 1,200
Benin France 1,100
Burkina Faso France 1,100
Central African Repub France 1,100
Kenya Britain 1,000
Liberia USA (sort of) 1,000
Mali France 900
Nigeria Britain 900
Zambia Britain 800
Guinea-Bissau Portugal 800
Madagascar France 800
Niger France 800
Ethiopia Italy (sort of) 700
Eritrea Italy 700
Comoros France 700
Congo, Dem Republic Belgium 700
Congo, Republic France 700
Burundi Belgium 600
Tanzania Britain (prev German) 600
Malawi Britain 600
Sierra Leone Britain 500
Somalia Italy (and Britain) 500

You can find pairings that look like they support the Legal Affairs contention and pairings that look like they refute it. Ghana (fmr British) is doing better now than Togo, Benin or the Ivory Coast (all fmr French). But Nigeria and Sierra Leone (both fmr British) are doing substantially worse than Cameroon and Guinea (both fmr French). And Senegal (fmr French) and the Gambia (fmr British) look pretty much identical. Algeria (fmr French) and Egypt (fmr British) each have Arab populations, lots of sand and some oil. But Algeria is doing better economically in spite of the fact that it's been more politically unstable of late, and the fact that Egypt has the canal and massive American support. The bottom four basket cases on the list, in economic terms - Tanzania, Malawi, Sierra Leone and Somalia - were all at least partly colonized by Britain.

Britain's most successful former colonies in sub-saharan Africa are South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, plus Swaziland and Lesotho, which were never precisely colonies. South Africa dominates the economy of the region, and it is only 75% black African. Namibia is 87% black African and Botswana's stats are not usefully broken out (they count white in the category "other" and I don't know what else is in that category; "other" is 7% of the country). So it's plausible to attribute the outperformance of this entire region to South African exceptionalism, which is surely related to the exceptional racial breakdown of the country. Of the next batch - Ghana, Zimbabwe, Gambia and Uganda - none has a non-African population above 2%. Meanwhile, the most successful French former colonies in sub-Saharan Africa are Gabon, Guinea, Cameroon, Senegal and Togo. Gabon is 1% French, but 11% "other Africans and Europeans" and it has a tiny population, so maybe it's an outlier and we should discount it [It's just an oil spigot country.] The next four countries have non-African populations of well under 2% - smaller, on average, than the four British successes. And their average GDPs are pretty similar:

Country Colonial Power Non-African % Total Populat GDP per Capita (USD)

Ghana Britain <1% 20.8mm 2,200
Guinea France <1% 9.3mm 2,100

Zimbabwe Britain <2% 12.7mm 1,900
Cameroon France <1% 16.1mm 1,800

Gambia Britain 1% 1.6mm 1,700
Senegal France 1% 10.9mm 1,600

Togo France <1% 5.6mm 1,500
Uganda Britain 1% 26.4mm 1,400

Do you see a pattern here? I don't.

Looks to me like the French legal heritage works about as well as the British if you compare otherwise similar countries.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Bluest State Blues:

Among the 50 states, Massachusetts ranked 50th in Bush's share of the vote, 50th in Average Years Married among younger white women, 49th in white fertility, and 50th in lack of housing price inflation. Not surprisingly, the AP reports:

BOSTON - Massachusetts was the only state in the nation to lose residents in 2004, U.S. Census data shows. The state lost an estimated 3,852 people ... in the last year, despite continuing growth in immigration to the Bay State, the Boston Sunday Globe reported.

Paul E. Harrington, an economist at Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies, attributed the fall to a stagnant job market. He said the decline could be an ominous sign for the state. "Population loss is a pretty fundamental number," he said.

Offsetting the trend is a boost in foreign immigrants, Harrington said, who are counted by the Census but often don't show up in job or unemployment data. That suggests that these workers are being paid under the table, which could create "long-term economic growth problem," he said.

The population of the country swelled by almost 3 million, to nearly 294 million, from July 2003 to July 2004, the Census Bureau reported in its annual population estimates last week.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Reggie White, RIP

The New York Times obituary of the great NFL defensive lineman and minister says:

"White created a stir in March 1998 with a speech to the Wisconsin State Assembly. In it, he referred to homosexuality as "one of the biggest sins in the Bible" and used ethnic stereotypes for blacks and whites."

In reality, the Reverend White's much-denounced "ethnic stereotypes" speech was one of the more thoughtful celebrations of racial and ethnic diversity in recent years. Across Difficult Country quotes the most vilified section of White's speech in context:

Why did God create us differently? Why did God make me black and you white? Why did God make the next guy Korean and the next guy Asian and the other guy Hispanic? Why did God create the Indians?

Well, it's interesting to me to know why now. When you look at the black race, black people are very gifted in what we call worship and celebration. A lot of us like to dance, and if you go to black churches, you see people jumping up and down, because they really get into it.

White people were blessed with the gift of structure and organization. You guys do a good job of building businesses and things of that nature and you know how to tap into money pretty much better than a lot of people do around the world.

Hispanics are gifted in family structure. You can see a Hispanic person and they can put 20 or 30 people in one home. They were gifted in the family structure.

When you look at the Asians, the Asian is very gifted in creation, creativity and inventions. If you go to Japan or any Asian country, they can turn a television into a watch. They're very creative. And you look at the Indians, they have been very gifted in the spirituality.

When you put all of that together, guess what it makes. It forms a complete image of God. God made us different because he was trying to create himself. He was trying to form himself, and then we got kind of knuckleheaded and kind of pushed everything aside.

I attempted a more elaborate description of black advantages, the ones that can't be measured by IQ tests, in my 1996 National Review article "Great Black Hopes" and in this long book review of Arthur Jensen's The g Factor called "The Half-Full glass," in which I declared myself a "Reggieist."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Colonialism's Surprisingly Weak Impact:

Colby Cosh writes:

"'Using sophisticated mathematical models, a group of four economists has proven...'--well, the stunningly obvious: that the best thing a country can possibly do for its economy (and probably its general well-being) is to go back in time and get itself subjugated good and hard by the British Empire."

Yet, this doesn't seem that stunningly obvious to me: e.g., Zimbabwe (Where the joke du jour is, "Q. What did we have before candles? A. Electricity"), Burma, Iraq, Nigeria, Sudan, Pakistan ... Maybe these are exceptions that prove the rule, but the rule is starting to look awfully shaky.

In an article in Legal Affairs by Nicholas Thompson about this theory advanced by "Rafael La Porta of Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes of the Yale School of Management, Andrei Shleifer of Harvard's economics department, and Robert Vishny of the University of Chicago's business school" begins:

MALAYSIA AND INDONESIA COULDN'T BE CALLED TWINS, but they might be called siblings. The adjacent Southeast Asian nations possess similar natural resources and their citizens speak similar languages and follow similar strains of Islam. But Malaysia's economy is prospering while Indonesia's is floundering. Malaysia's stock market is far more vibrant than its neighbor's, and its average resident is three times richer...

Another explanation lies in the countries' legal systems, however. Malaysia was a British colony and its legal system is based on the common law: the set of rules, norms, and procedures that has guided the legal system of England and the British Empire for about nine centuries. Indonesia was a Dutch colony and its legal system derives from French civil law, a set of statutes and principles written under Napoleon in the early 19th century and imposed upon the lands he conquered, including the Netherlands.

According to research published by a group of scholars beginning in 1998, countries that come from a French civil law tradition struggle to create effective financial markets, while countries with a British common law tradition succeed far more frequently. While the scholars conducting the research are economists rather than lawyers, their theory has jolted the legal academy, leading to the creation of a new academic specialty called "law and finance" and turning the authors of the theory into the most cited economists in the world over the past decade.

C'mon, the main reason Malaysia is better off than Indonesia is because about a quarter of Malaysia's population are Chinese, who, according to Malaysia's former President Mahathir Mohamad, are smarter and harder working than the indigenous "bumiputras." Mahathir set up a clever system of affirmative action for the majority that keeps them from rioting against the Chinese while not burdening the more productive group so much that they all leave Malaysia. In contrast, as Amy Chua pointed out in World on Fire, Indonesia is only 3% Chinese, and the ruling Suharto family climbed in bed with the Chinese businessmen, so that when the Suhartos were overthrown in 1998, the Chinese were attacked in populist pogroms, many fled to Chinese-run Singapore, and the new "democratic" government nationalized $58 billion worth of Chinese-owned businesses, with the usual disastrous results for the economy.

Just by spinning the globe, it's easy to see that the correlation between the colonizer's legal system and the ex-colony's economic success is relatively faint. It's quite possible that in the esoteric area of financial markets law, the British heritage is more useful than that of the Code Napoleon, but, obviously, that's merely the icing on the cake of prosperity.

Obviously, a far more important factor is ideology. Vietnam did poorly up until about a dozen years ago, not because it was a former French colony but because it had a Communist economy. Ever since it turned to capitalism, it has grown quickly. Similarly, despite its continuity in common law judicial philosophy, India did not thrive after gaining independence from Britain in 1947 because it also inherited the Fabian socialism dominant in Britain at the time. On the verge of economic collapse in 1991, India began liberating its economy and has grown steadily ever since.

Overall, it's striking how little impact colonialism, despite all the intense emotions it engendered, has had on the post-colonial world. Consider Japan's ex-colonies: South Korea and Taiwan are success stories, while North Korea is a disaster. Similarly, a half century of American rule did not leave the Philippines with an economy has dynamic as America's, or even as it neighbors in the region.

Paul Johnson pointed out that colonialism was an intensely visual process, manifesting itself, for example, in painting the map of the world in the red of the British empire, but much of its impact was on the surface.

A less publicized factor that has become even more important since the collapse of communist ideologies 15 years ago rendered the ideological playing field a lot more level appears to be IQ. Something that strongly correlate with level of prosperity is national average IQ. In their 2002 book, "IQ and the Wealth of Nations," veteran academics Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen estimated, from studies published in scientific journals, the average IQs for 81 countries. Despite the large amount of noise in this IQ data, they still found a strikingly high correlation coefficient of 0.73 between average IQ and average GDP per capita.

It's important to point out that all the obvious problems with estimating average national IQ -- such as obtaining nationally representative samples and finding culturally unbiased tests -- work to lower, not increase, the correlation with average per capita income. So, the correlation between income and the "true" average national IQs is likely even higher than 0.73.

And it's not like there's nothing we can do about national IQ -- UNICEF issued a report early this year, "Vitamin & Mineral Deficiency: A Global Progress Report," spelling out two steps that could raise 3rd world national average IQs: put iodine in salt and iron in flour or other staples. That helped eliminate "cretinism" and similar medical problems lowering intelligence in the industrialized world a few generations ago.

Of course, nobody picked up on this report in the press, because that would require talking about IQ.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The American Prospect Can't Stand the Heat and Wants Everybody Else to Get Out of the Kitchen:

After publishing Garance Franke-Ruta's smear of me, The American Prospect is now threatening legal action against anybody who "reproduces" an old article accusing her of racism. You've really got to read this to believe their hypocrisy.

At the time I wrote,

"I must confess that my eyes glazed over while reading about Franke-Ruta's and The American Prospect's alleged high crimes and insensitivities against Latinos. What I saw of it before nodding off seemed no more persuasive than what she wrote about me.

On the other hand, as Across Difficult Country asks, why should the benefit of the doubt be extended to Franke-Ruta if she won't extend it to me? Good question. It's often those who live in the glassiest houses who are most inclined to throw stones to distract from the fragility of their own abodes.

Well, it being the Christmas season, I shall give Franke-Ruta the benefit of the doubt anyway.

The Winds of Change blog is flabbergasted by the whole deal.

Speaking of glass houses,, although Franke-Ruta wrote some obnoxious and absurd things about me (my response is at ), she shouldn't be silenced for her own political incorrectness.

In further defense of Franke-Ruta, let me point out that she is sometimes quite a bit more honest than most liberals about issues like race and crime. For example, in a 2002 review of Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine," she attacked the movie for roughly the same reason I did in my "Baby Gap" article ( ).

She wrote:

"My beef with Moore is this: He has managed to make a movie about gun violence in America -- where 53 percent of the gun murder victims are black -- without interviewing a single black victim of gun violence, or even asking black community leaders, who have spent decades successfully trying to combat the problem, for their insights. Instead, to explore a phenomenon that has devastated inner cities and is a horror primarily in urban areas -- nearly 70 percent of gun murders take place in cities, according to U.S. Deaprtment of Justice statistics -- Moore has made a movie that takes as its focal point the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colo., a type of crime (five or more victims) that represented one-tenth of 1 percent of murders that year and that occurred in a white, prosperous, suburban community...

"Young black men ages 14-24 make up only 1 percent of the U.S. population but around 15 percent of the murder victims. Nor are Moore's suburban white gun owners, no matter how ridiculous their fears, the reason that black Americans were six times more likely to be murdered than whites in 1999, and seven times more likely to commit homicides."

Personally, I think The American Prospect could use more of the kind of honesty Franke-Ruta is showing in the two paragraphs I quoted above.

What she appeared to be doing by attacking me in such a frenetic and irrational manner is the old trick that when the wolves of political correctness are closing in on the sleigh, throw somebody even more politically incorrect to the wolves to distract them. "When they came for Steve Sailer, I led them to him," etcetera etcetera

Obviously, I don't appreciate her ploy, but I certainly don't think it's in American political discourse's best interest for her to be devoured by the politically correct either.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Steroid Rationalizations:

A baseball blog called The Hardball Times writes:

Unlike, I suppose, pretty much everyone, I don't consider steroid abuse to be cheating at baseball. It's cheating at working out, it's probably cheating other players out of playing time in some instances, and it's certainly cheating those players and teams out of money -- but it's not cheating at baseball. The positive effects of steroids are the same as exercise, just dramatically increased. When you take steroids, the ball doesn't jump over the fence on a bunt. Foul balls don't suddenly curve fair, and you can't suddenly hit any ball anywhere at any time. It makes you a better hitter, but you could achieve the same results with actual hard work. The results in the gym are a fraud, the results on the field are not, because the other team will be able to ascertain very quickly your physical attributes, and play you accordingly.

Exactly how can other teams play Barry Bonds accordingly? By buying their outfielders seats in the bleachers?

And how could anyone achieve the same results as Barry "with actual hard work?" After the age of 35, Barry has enjoyed the three greatest offensive seasons in baseball history. By taking steroids, Barry can work out and more often than anybody who isn't taking steroids.

I've noticed that in the blogosphere, unsophisticated libertarianism and hero-worship of manly athletes frequently combine to turn bloggers into saps for steroid-abusers. Look how many bloggers have endorsed the idea that, well, we shouldn't ban steroid use, just limit it to a safe, moderate amount.

What a stupid idea that is! The whole point of using steroids in baseball is not to use the same amount as your competitors, but to use more. If you all just used the same moderate amount, you'd all be better off using none at all. If they implemented that rule, then to get an advantage, you'd have to take the kind of massive jolts that the late Ken Caminiti started taking in mid-season 1996. (Soon, Caminiti came down with terrible depression when not full of steroids, which led him to self-medicate by smoking crack, which led to his recent death in the gutter at age 41.)

Further, if they allowed any level of steroids, it would make it vastly harder to catch cheaters, since each time they caught anybody it would end up in an endless court suit over whether they actually had the illegal 101 parts per zillion in their blood stream or the legal 100 parts per zillion. Now, all they have to prove is you had a single one of these illegal molecules in your bloodstream ... and it's still hard to win the court fights today.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

A Christmas Song Decline Theory:

I like pop classic Christmas songs, such as "Winter Wonderland" or "Chestnuts Roasting Over an Open Fire" for a lot of reasons, including that Christmas is one of the few time of the year when singing in public is tolerated these days. So, like a lot of people lately, I've been wondering why there haven't been any new hit Christmas songs in many years. One of my reader theorized that this is because many of the Christmas standards that were written in the golden age of secular pop Christmas songs between 1934 and 1958 were written by Jews (e.g., Irving Berlin's "White Christmas)," but modern Jews find it ignominious to write Christmas songs anymore. (The reader, in case you were wondering, is Jewish.) "As a great Jewish songwriter sang, 'It ain't me, babe,'" she wrote to me.

That's an interesting theory, and it would be sad if it were true. It probably also wouldn't be, as they say, good for the Jews, because Jews like Irving Berlin helped transform Christmas from purely a Christian holiday into one that was also a secular American holiday, promising peace on earth for men of good will ... of all backgrounds.

I wanted to test this theory, but since nobody of any background is writing good Christmas songs anymore, it's hard to see if the ethnic balance has changed. (Indeed, it's hard to come up with an objective list of good songs of any kind from recent years -- e.g., the recent Rolling Stone magazine top 500 songs list only included three from the last half decade -- two by Eminem and one by Outkast).

However, we live in an an age that still produces some decent Christmas movies -- 2003's "Elf," for instance, hardly compares to "It's a Wonderful Life" (but then what does?), yet it's still a modest delight. The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles reports:

Both are written and directed by persons of the Jewish faith. “Elf” is directed (Jon Favreau), written by (David Berenbaum) and has stars (James Caan, Edward Asner) who are Jewish — a rare trifecta, particularly for a Christmas film — a feat that parallels the success of the 1954 “White Christmas” (Michael Curtiz, Norm Krasna and Danny Kaye, respectively).

Favreau, by the way, is Italian on his father's side and Jewish on his mother's side, and says he "keeps a Jewish home."

2002's "Santa Clause 2" was a funnier film than you would expect and made a deserved pile of money because it featured G-rated jokes that adults enjoyed. It's director, Michael Lembeck, is Jewish, as would appear to be some of its many writers.

Nor is it just the better sort of Christmas movie that features heavy Jewish involvement: I haven't seen this year's "Christmas with the Kranks" and "Surviving Christmas," so I'll skip over evaluating how good they are, but they both appear to have lots of Jews working on them in key creative roles.

(On the other hand, Robert Zemeckis, director of this year's slow-motion Christmas hit "The Polar Express," is, to the surprise of many, of Polish Catholic background. And the big three behind 2000's "How The Grinch Stole Christmas," Dr. Seuss, Ron Howard, and Jim Carrey, are not Jewish.)

So, it looks like Jews in the film industry are still quite happy to make secular Christmas movies. This analogy therefore, doesn't support my reader's theory about the decline of Christmas songs. We'll just have to keep looking elsewhere.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

What is Rove really up to?

A reader passes on an interesting interpretation of why Bush and Rove want to flood the country with an unlimited number of foreign guest workers at the minimum wage. They know it won't generate votes for Republicans, but that's not the intention. The goal is to destroy the unions, which are major sources of funds and organizers for the Democratic Party, by providing a nearly-infinite supply of strikebreakers.

A historical analogy: Cesar Chavez's United Farm Workers union was able to significantly raise the wages of stoop laborers in the 1960s and 1970s because the Eisenhower Administration deported about a million illegal immigrants back to Mexico. Growers fought back against the UFW by sending buses to Mexico and sneaking strikebreakers over the border, so infuriating Chavez that he volunteered his union staffers to the Border Patrol as auxiliary vigilantes. However, the 1982 economic collapse in Mexico sent millions of illegal immigrants northward, crushing wages. Now, the UFW is a dried husk and Chavez, bizarrely, is celebrated as the patron saint of the reconquista, even though he used to turn in illegal immigrants to the INS.

Yet, the number of workers who are in private sector unions has shrunk down so low that this obsession of Rove's seems outdated. Certainly, private sector unionism hardly saps the strength of the economy to the same extent as it did in, say, Harry Truman's day, when a big part of the President's job was trying to head off or settle massive strikes. Increasingly, unionized workers are government employees, who typically are protected from illegal immigrants by laws requiring government jobholders to be citizens.

The AFL-CIO favors a less radical version of the Karl Rove Amnesty Plan, suggesting that they view the political impact of KRAP very differently than Rove does. The unions see two benefits. First, amnesty increases the number of potential union members by bringing illegals out of the shadows. Second, by threatening to destroy American wage levels, KRAP will increase desperation among workers and make them turn to the unions for protection from guest workers, just as the unions first became hugely powerful during the Depression when the supply of labor was far greater than the demand.

I can't say whether Rove or the AFL-CIO is right about the political impact of KRAP, but that there's disagreement between the two most interested parties shows how much Bush and Rove just like to roll the dice more than they like to figure the odds, as shown by invading Iraq and by how they made it easier for Arab Muslim terrorists to hijack airplanes in the first 8 months of 2001 as part of their pursuit of the (almost nonexistent) Arab Muslim vote.

So far, Rove's claim to be a genius is that Bush got elected by a -0.5% margin and got re-elected by less than 2.5% of the vote -- pretty thin evidence that Rove's the infallible seer of politics. A better interpretation is that Rove is an inveterate gambler who has slipped through by the skin of his teeth so far.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

While we waste our time and treasure in Iraq:

David Barboza reports in the NYT:

DATANG, China - You probably have never heard of this factory town in coastal China, and there is no reason why you should have. But it fills your sock drawer.

Datang produces an astounding nine billion pairs of socks each year - more than one set for every person on the planet. People here fondly call it Socks City, and its annual socks festival attracts 100,000 buyers from around the world.

Southeast from here is Shenzhou, which is the world's necktie capital. To the west is Sweater City and Kid's Clothing City. To the south, in the low-rent district, is Underwear City.

This remarkable specialization, one city for each drawer in your bureau, reflects the economies of scale and intense concentration that have helped turn China into a garment behemoth. On Jan. 1, a new trade regime will end the decades-old system of country-by-country quotas that divide the world's exports among roughly 150 countries. Now, China is banking on its immense size and efficient operators to grab an even larger share of the world's clothing orders.

The garment industry has traditionally been the first rung up on the ladder of industrialization, from England in the 1760s onward. If China monopolizes the garment trade, however, that will foreclose the first step up for the poorest countries in the world. However, we'll be able to buy lots of cheap socks at Wal-Mart (at least until the Chinese tire of propping up the rapidly becoming less almighty dollar), and I guess that's what's really important.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

John Derbyshire on Baseball and Steroids

More of the Derb's Christmas Classics: To the tune of "Let It Snow!":

Let Them Grow!

The steroid abuse is frightful
But the games are so delightful!
Since the ball players thrill us so —
Let them grow! Let them grow! Let them grow!

Now Giambi and Bonds are admitting
There's more than just skill to their hitting,
And baseball is just a freak show —
Let them grow! Let them grow! Let them grow!

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Whatever happened to redheads?

A reader writes:

I'm a redhead and always get discouraged from keeping my natural hair color when I constantly hear "blondes vs. brunettes". It makes me feel invisible and I question if men just aren't attracted to redheaded women. After reading your article though it seems that blondes and redheads are clumped into the same category? I was wondering why that is?

Good question. I just watched Rosanna Arquette's meandering documentary "Searching for Debra Winger," in which aging Hollywood actresses kvetch about how they don't get any good roles after they hit 40 (The title comes from Debra Winger, a big star in her late twenties with "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "Terms of Endearment," who walked away from The Industry just before her 40th birthday.). The movie could have been called "29 Blondes and Whoopi Goldberg."

Yet, redheads were a very big deal in American popular culture (songs, movies, television -- Lucille Ball never made it big until she dyed her hair red) for much of the 20th Century and then something happened, maybe in the 1960s.

Perhaps it had something to do with Americans paying more attention to racial minorities. Just as the differences between Irish vs. Italians seemed less important after the rise of interest in the 1960s in blacks made black vs. white seem ever so more important than Irish vs. Italians, then differences in hair color among whites might have seemed less important. So, blondes simply became a general symbol for the kind of hair colors that whites can have naturally, but other groups can't.

Or maybe it had something to do with the fad in the 1960s and 1970s for women to get tanned. Since blondes can tan and redheads can't (to generalize wildly), blondes were more fashionable in that era than redheads. We've gotten over that fad for tanning, but for some reason, the emphasis on redheads never returned, even though a lot of leading actresses are redheads today (due to Hollywood's strong desire for leading ladies to be fairer skinned than their leading men).

By the way, when Arquette hunts down Debra Winger in what looks like her plush retirement, she's wearing her hair bright red, and it looks great.

Despite the paucity of starring roles for actresses over 40, all the ladies in the documentary seemed to be still living in the lap of luxury. These days, it doesn't seem like many ex-stars are hurting financially. A big reason is that the LA real estate market has been booming for most of the last 29 years, so even if you blow all your ready cash, you still have the house in Beverly Hills that's worth $4 million dollars more than you paid for it. So, you can move to a $2 million dollar house in Santa Monica, then sell that when it goes to $4 million, and so on.

Also, if you are a leading lady, you can marry a rich man. So, I'm not shedding too many tears for the 29 blondes.

Regarding the natural history of redheads, they appear as far away as the Middle East and the Canary Islands, but the farther west you go in Northern Europe, the more common they are. Western Ireland has a remarkable number -- I'd guesstimate 30% are redheads in County Kerry on the Atlantic. In contrast, blondes get more common as you go north in Europe (typically, golden blondes in the west, ash blondes in the east).

My theory is that both redheads and blondes are sexually selected for in women because they are more noticeable, which women generally want to be. Blonde hair reflects the most light and red hair is the most eye-catching of colors.

However, there are downsides to both. Redheads seem to be associated with very low melanin skin, which can cause big problems when the sun is bright. Redheads get more common the farther out in the Atlantic you go because the skies are more overcast, so the chance of a bad sunburn is less. In contrast, blondes tend to tan better, so they are more common more inland where the weather is less misty. On the other hand, while highly reflective hair makes blonde women hard to ignore, it can be work against blonde men who are hunters or warriors by making them visible from a long way off. (You used to be able to spot the formerly ultra-blond golfer Greg Norman from an enormous distance off at tournaments from the sun glinting off his hair.) So, blonde hair isn't very common where the sun is high in the sky because blonde men then tend to lose the element of surprise.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Apparently, William Safire doesn't want us to miss him when he's gone:

That would seem to be the most charitable explanation for his latest column, "Wave of the Future." Not to be outdone, the WSJ op-edsters feature a column by that George Washington of Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi. Meanwhile, for American soldiers in the real Iraq that Safire and Chalabi helped lie us into, horror.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Red-Blue Housing War Stories

Your point about the difference between housing-price trends in Northwest DC and DC's eastern provinces is certainly true. Chevy Chase, DC, is child-friendly in a lot of ways, and there are plenty of kids here among the couples who can afford the prices of both homes and private schools. But the neighborhood is basically a land of $50,000 houses sitting on $500,000 lots. The two-income families huddle together in the $50,000 houses, while their dogs get to play in the $500,000 lots. Plus, the dogs get walked every morning and will see their owners early each evening, since the commute to downtown jobs is so short. I think we must have the happiest dogs in America.

But apart from the natural expense of living downtown in cities, there has been some artificial destruction of livable places in a lot of American cities. Washington has lost something like 40 percent of its total population since the 1950s. It is not, overall, a congested city, with insufficient land for more affordable residences. There are huge tracts to the east that have been partly deserted and rendered uninhabitable for middle-class whites and blacks, by crime, lousy schools and rent controls on new apartments. This is the general tendency of liberal places to render themselves more liberal by making themselves even more dysfunctional.

Maybe another reason parents with kids don't like to live in dense cities is the heavy traffic on all the surrounding streets, which can be very risky for younger children. However, when kids reach their teenage driving years, the city is probably less risky, since you can walk or take the bus most places.

The increased traffic is bad for bikes, so kids these days expect to get driven everywhere, which is another stress of parenting.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

New Blogs

New Blogs: Over on the Links list to the left, I've highlighted in red some blogs I've recently added. Check them out.

Also, The Ambler, Kevin Michael Grace, is back in business. I had nice phone call from him tonight during which he told me many amusing and horrifying stories about the music industry. You know how sometimes you hear a great old song on the radio and you think to yourself: "Isn't it wonderful that the songwriter who composed that song is still getting paid royalties by ASCAP or BMI for bringing that thing of beauty into the world"? Well, don't. The odds are that the royalties aren't going to the songwriter but to some music industry creep who ripped the artist off because he was young and eager. I was please to hear, however, that Elvis Costello, while never a huge star, at least managed to hold on to the cash flow from what he created.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Marriage Gap

Don't get greedy! In my latest VDARE column, I bragged that found that my Average Years Married among white women measure correlated with Bush's share of the vote not just at the extraordinarily high r = 0.91 level (r-squared = 83%) I reported for a linear equation, but at a bizarrely high r = 0.95 (r-squared = 90%) when you take the log of the statistics. A reader writes:

Beware log-log plots; they almost always make correlations look better than they should. You can correlate almost anything log-log. Try taking a shotgun pattern in a target and plotting it log-log. You can sometimes wind up with a nice linear plot.I'd be more comfortable sticking with your puny (!) .91.

I have to admit that I can't think of any reason the log correlation would be more realistic than the linear one. Any thoughts?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

More reports from the trenches of the red-blue housing inflation gap

One point I think I think is really understated, is the degree to which the Children vs. City Lifestyle is really made at a conscious level by people in their late twenties and early thirties. Do I give up the Met and theater or move to a place where my kids will have their own bedrooms?


By the way, as a resident of Massachusetts, I've seen and lived through the housing price hyperinflation. In the past two years, we've seen countless friends leave because of the combination of wanting to raise a family and wanting to live in a nice neighborhood and house. And these are very smart, educated and successful people that are leaving: lawyers, people with Masters degrees, successful corporate managers. The common thread is: young, not yet home owners, starting to have kids and not a lot of capital built up yet. Most are moving back to where they grew up -- not only is housing cheaper, but you get the grandparents to help out. We know people that bought but with an income from two professionals and then had kids. A few of the mothers have indicated that they would like to stay home (a reversal of plans) with the baby, but can't -- they wouldn't be able to then afford the mortgage. The solution is just what you found.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Dave Barry on Red and Blue States

Dave Barry on Red-Blue:

The nation suffered a wound during the recent presidential election as a result of the rift between the red states - defined as "states where 'foreign cuisine' pretty much means Pizza Hut" - and the blue states, defined as "states that believe they are smarter than the red states, despite the fact that it takes the average blue-state resident 15 minutes to order a single cup of coffee."...

And as Americans, we must ask ourselves: Are we really so different? Must we stereotype those who disagree with us? Do we truly believe that all red-state residents are ignorant racist fascist knuckle-dragging NASCAR-obsessed cousin-marrying roadkill-eating tobacco-juice-dribbling gun-fondling religious fanatic rednecks; or that all blue-state residents are godless unpatriotic pierced-nose Volvo-driving France-loving left-wing communist latte-sucking tofu-chomping holistic-wacko neurotic vegan weenie perverts?

Yes. This is called "diversity," and it is why we are such a great nation - a nation that has given the world both nuclear weapons and SpongeBob SquarePants.

And so today I am calling upon both sides in the red-blue rift to reach out. Maybe we could have a cultural-exchange program between red and blue states.

For example, a delegation from Texas could go to California and show the Californians how to do some traditional Texas thing such as castrate a bull using only your teeth, and then the Californians could show the Texans how to rearrange their football stadiums in accordance with the principles of "feng shui" (for openers, both goalposts should be at the west end of the field).

Or maybe New York and Kentucky could have a college-style "mixer," featuring special "crossover" hors d'oeuvres such as bagels topped with squirrel parts.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer