March 9, 2007

Mexico's $49 billion man

The most obvious problem facing Mexico is that its the rich won't pay their fair share of taxes, so there isn't enough money for schooling, law enforcement, agricultural productivity development, and the like. Life is pretty crummy for the tens of millions of poor people, but it's sweet indeed for Mexico's remarkably rich rich people. From the LA Times:

$49 billion is Slim's pickings in Mexico
By Marla Dickerson
MEXICO CITY — On Thursday, Forbes magazine estimated [Carlos Slim Helu's] net worth at $49 billion.

That represented a stunning $19-billion increase from 2006, the biggest one-year jump in a decade for anyone on the magazine's annual list of the world's richest people.

In other words, Senor Slim personally made about as much money last year in Mexico after taxes (such as they are), $19 XXXXXXtra Large, as all the Mexicans in the U.S. sent home to relatives in Mexico.

Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates' $56 billion helped him retain the top spot. Investor Warren Buffett was again runner-up with $52 billion. …

Although his third-place ranking didn't change from 2006, he increased his wealth by 63%. That's a growth rate of $2.2 million an hour.

When Mexicans talk on the phone or use the Internet, they're almost certainly doing it through a company controlled by Slim, who in 1990 bought control of the old state-owned telephone company Telefonos de Mexico, or Telmex, and turned it into a cash machine. …

The portly Slim has more than tripled his fortune since Forbes published its 2004 list, thanks to a string of acquisitions and the ballooning value of his telecom holdings. His current net worth is equivalent to nearly 6% of his nation's gross domestic product, a feat unmatched even by America's robber barons at the height of their influence. …

That's the equivalent of $780 billion in America, fourteen times the size of Bill Gates' fortune.

To some Mexicans, the son of a Lebanese immigrant shopkeeper represents the triumph of hustle over heredity in a nation where a few dozen families have held sway for generations. …

But critics say his purchase of Telmex was a sweetheart deal that merely replaced a public monopoly with a private one. Studies have shown that Mexicans pay some of the highest telecom rates in the world, which is undermining the nation's competitiveness. …

And it's not just telecom that's locked up tight. Of the 10 Mexican billionaires listed on the latest Forbes list, seven made their fortunes in industries where there is little competition in Mexico.

Mexico's problems are severe, yet they are hardly as incomprehensibly insoluble as Iraq's, where we throw $1 or $2 billion per week down the toilet just making things worse. But the idea of America exerting any pressure on Mexico to push it in the direction of meaningful reforms, such as having its billionaires cheat on their taxes a little less, is simply not part of normal public discourse in America.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Interracial Marriage & Hawaii

Back in the mid-1950s, interracial marriage rates were running at about 30% in Hawaii, so teens in Hawaii today are often the grandchildren of those interracial pioneers. It has not made Hawaii as laid-back about race as you'd expect, however.

Of course, racial violence in Hawaii isn't very lethal. The traditional "Kill Haole Day" on the last day of school was not taken literally -- whites were only beaten up, not killed.

Racial tensions are simmering in Hawaii's melting pot
By Martin Kasindorf, USA TODAY

HONOLULU — A violent road-rage altercation between Native Hawaiians and a white couple near Pearl Harbor two weeks ago is provoking questions about whether Hawaii's harmonious "aloha" spirit is real or just a greeting for tourists. The Feb. 19 attack, in which a Hawaiian father and son were arrested and charged with beating a soldier and his wife unconscious, was unusual here for its brutality. It sparked a public debate over race relations that is filling blogs and newspaper websites with impassioned comments along stark ethnic lines.

These divisive exchanges come as the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress are being asked to tackle another inflammatory racial issue in a state where no race is a majority: special benefits for Native Hawaiians, ranging from preference at an elite private school to free houses on government land. One side says the long-established perks compensate Hawaiians for past wrongs and preserve their valuable culture for the islands. The other side says the benefits discriminate against other racial groups.

Something I hadn't realized was:

"To compensate for the U.S. role in the royal overthrow, Congress in 1920 authorized free houses for 99 years to people who can prove they have at least 50% Hawaiian blood. The state manages the program on 200,000 acres of government land; 8,000 families occupy houses, with 20,000 on a waiting list."

So, I can't see the validity of suing to overthrow these racial privileges before their 99 year life expires in 2019 -- a deal's a deal. But, the approach of 2019 is probably stirring much of the ethnic turmoil in Hawaii. That, and of course, the hopes of Native Hawaiians to get an Indian-style casino. Gambling isn't allowed in Hawaii, but the hopes of luring in gambling-crazed Chinese zillionaire tourists means a Native Hawaiian-owned casino in Honolulu could be one of the most lucrative in the world.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 8, 2007

A question for my Finnish readers

It's widely claimed that it's impossible to cut down on immigration across the American-Mexico border, since it is so long (1950 miles) and the GDP per capita ratio is so large (4.2x).

Yet, the Finnish-Russian land border is almost half as long and the income ratio is about 3x. And Finland, according to the CIA Factbook, is only 0.4% Russian.

What's going on? Is there actually a huge Russian illegal immigrant population in Finland that's not counted? Or, do the Finns contrive to keep Russians out? If so, how?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 7, 2007

Sorry about the lack of posts

I've been working on a long analysis of Barack Obama's first autobiography (or, perhaps, autobiographical novel), Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, for The American Conservative. I hear that my article was already being denounced around Washington before it was even finished!

Even though the book has been on the bestseller lists for over a year, almost nobody seems to actually finished it. It's extraordinarily revealing, showing a personality very different from the "race transcender" in whom such messianic hopes are invested.

Does Obama's talent as a memoirist / novelist mean he'd be a good President? Who knows? But it would be refreshing to have a President who is at least good at something.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 5, 2007

Celebrating Latino culture through expensively insulating one's child from real local Latinos

In the Wall Street Journal:

The Million-Dollar Kid
Government figures put the total cost of raising a child at $279,000, but some increasingly common expenses can send the number soaring over $1 million.

"Irene Smith, an attorney and property manager in San Jose, Calif., has … decided the most important thing for [7-year-old] Amelia's future success is fluency in Spanish. To that end, Ms. Smith transferred Amelia from public school to a $13,500-a-year private academy where Spanish is taught daily. She also signed her up for a $900 weekly class with Berlitz, hired a private tutor, and has taken Amelia out of school for up to two months at a time to travel to Costa Rica and Mexico to perfect her foreign-language skills."

Considering that the San Jose Unified School District is 51% Latino, I would suspect there are cheaper ways… I guess that Ms. Smith wants little Amelia to learn Spanish so she can make enough money when she grows up to be able to afford to insulate her daughter from all the Latinos in San Jose, and so on and on until the family eventually dies out from the expense of insulating their children.

"Rebecca Young, a musician in Seattle, recently enrolled her 6-year-old daughter, Eva, in a $150, five-hour course on Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Though Ms. Young had her doubts about the Early Masters program, by the end of the weeklong class, Eva could discuss Ms. Kahlo's painting style, place her in the context of art history and do a decent job copying her work.

"On the last day of class, Eva asked to wear a Mexican-style dress and used Ms. Young's makeup to draw a thick, single eyebrow across her forehead, one of Ms. Kahlo's signature features. She even asked for lipstick to smear on her dress to look like blood -- a prominent detail in Kahlo self-portraits."

Perhaps, little Eva learned to copy one of Frida's last paintings, "Stalin and I," which the loyal Stalinist painted despite having slept with Trotsky shortly before Stalin murdered him. Or how about "Little Deer," in which Frida painted her face on a stag that has been pierced, like a four-legged St. Sebastian, by nine arrows, which represent her husband Diego Rivera's nine most intolerable infidelities, such as sleeping with Frida's sister?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Amazing Grace"

Here's an excerpt from my upcoming review in The American Conservative raising some quibbles about this fine biopic about William Wilberforce, who persuaded Parliament to ban the slave trade 200 years ago:

Unfortunately, complex historical stories like this are better suited to the leisurely pace of the television mini-series because a two-hour film has to leave out much. For instance, "Amazing Grace" fails to mention that Wilberforce was a Tory or that his religious enthusiasm was quite unfashionable during the deistic Enlightenment.

Moreover, banning the slave trade in 1807 made the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in the 1830s relatively painless. The West Indian sugar planters had routinely worked their slaves to death and thus needed fresh slaves from Africa to prosper. In contrast, slaves multiplied on the less harsh tobacco and cotton plantations of America, so our slave owners still thrived after Congress outlawed the trade in 1808.

Contemporary audiences so lack historical knowledge that veteran director Michael Apted ("Coal Miner's Daughter") and writer Steven Knight decided that there's no point in even trying to make clear who is whom in the film. For the first hour, for example, no effort is made to explain who Wilberforce's best friend "Billie" is, or why in the world Billie thinks (correctly) that he can become Prime Minister at age 24. He's just some guy named Billie who is Prime Minister for two decades. Explaining that Billie's father, William Pitt the Elder, had been the dynamic Prime Minister during the Seven Years War would only annoy the public, so why bother?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer banned by Kmart

A reader writes:

At the Kmart closest to me, they have put in computers with free Internet access for customers. I checked to see if any sites are blocked by their SiteCoach filter and ... iSteve is. (Fortunately, VDARE is not.) You can write them and explain why you shouldn't be banned. They are a filter used in schools and here is their (lame) policy:

"The main goal of SiteCoach is to filter pornographic content and content glorifying violence, as well as right-wing and other so-called forbidden content that 'hits below the belt'."

So we must protect children from the two plagues of our time: porn and right-wing thinking.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Important human genetics papers

Dienekes points out some interesting abstracts from papers to be presented at the upcoming meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Here's a selection from his selection:

Understanding human races: the retreat of neutralism.
Henry Harpending

Discussion and debate about human races has been dominated for decades by neutral theory and statistics. Since this literature never posed a real question, it has never produced an answer. Lewontin's 1972 paper with its claim that a value of 1/8 of a statistic like Fst is “small” and that this means that human race differences are insignificant is a staple of our textbooks.

Recently geneticists have had a closer look and pointed out that Fst of 1/8 describes differences among sets of half sibs and few claim that half sibs are insignificantly related. Anthony Edwards has shown that the significance of differences is in the correlation structure of a large number of traits, again denying the Lewontin assertion that human differences are small. Alan Templeton in 1998 claimed that human races were less differentiated that races of some other large mammals, but he compared human nuclear DNA statistics with statistics from mtDNA in the other species. An appropriate comparison shows that human are more, not less, differentiated than other large mammal species.

Since neutral differences are a passive record of demographic history they are not very significant for issues of functional biology. Newly available data sources allow us to study the natural selection of race differences instead of their drift. It appears that there is a lot of ongoing evolution in our species and the loci under strong selection on different continents only partially overlap. Human race differences may be increasing rapidly.

I wrote about Harpending's change of mind about Lewontin's celebrated statistic in in 2004.

Acceleration of adaptive evolution in modern humans.
J. Hawks and G. Cochran

Humans vastly increased in numbers during the past 40,000 years. Recent surveys of human genomic variation have suggested a large surplus of recent positive selection, indicated by excess linkage disequilibrium and skewed SNP frequency spectra. We applied estimates of prehistoric and historic population sizes to estimate the importance of population growth in explaining the number of recent adaptive mutations. Our estimates are consistent with genomic evidence in suggesting that the rate of generation of positively selected genes has increased as much as a hundredfold during the past 40,000 years.

Do skeletal features reflect this genomic evidence of selection? Under positive selection, rapid appearance of new variants during the terminal Pleistocene and early Holocene would cause maximal phenotypic change during the last 2000-4000 years. We compared original and published series of Holocene cranial data from Europe, Jordan, Nubia, South Africa, and China, in addition to Late Pleistocene samples from Europe and West Asia, to test the hypothesis that the genomic acceleration in positive selection correlates with phenotypic evolution during this time period. A constellation of features in the face and cranial vault, notably including endocranial volume, changed globally during this time period and documents common patterns of selection in different regions. Holocene changes were similar in pattern and chronologically faster than those at the archaic-modern transition, which themselves were rapid compared to earlier hominid evolution. In genomic and craniometric terms, the origin of modern humans was a minor event compared to more recent evolutionary changes.

For example, here's the forensic reconstruction of the 14,000-year-old skull of a woman from Sicily (via Dienekes). What modern race would she be? She's obviously human, but doesn't look particularly like any large group around today. You run into this a lot with older skulls.

Admixture in Mexico City: implications for admixture mapping.
E. Cameron et al.

"The average proportions of Native American, European and West African admixture were estimated as 65%, 30% and 5% respectively."

"In a logistic model with higher educational status as dependent variable, the odds ratio for higher educational status associated with an increase from 0 to 1 in European admixture proportions was 9.4 (95% credible interval 3.8 – 22.6). This association of socioeconomic status with individual admixture proportion shows that genetic stratification in this population is paralleled, and possibly maintained, by socioeconomic stratification."

I'm not sure how to interpret this "odds ratio" but this certainly points in the direction I've been arguing since 2000.

Patterns of admixture in Mexican Americans assessed from 101,150 SNPs.
M.G. Hayes et al.

"No significant differences were observed between the 10 subsets, allowing us to average the admixture estimates across the subsets: 68% European, 27% Asian (as a proxy for Native American), and 6% African."

So, this is the reverse of the Mexico City data above. Are the populations different, or is admixture analysis still unreliable? The people at the illegal immigrant rally in Van Nuys, CA last spring were a lot shorter and more Indian-looking than the Mexican-Americans I grew up with, so perhaps the Mex-Am population is changing, with new immigrants being drawn from a more Indian background. Well, the African percentages in both are in line with earlier estimates of 3% to 8% that I cited in my 2002 article "Where Did Mexico's Blacks Go?"

Intracontinental Distribution of Haplotype Variation: Implications for Human Demographic History.
M.C. Campbell et al.

"These results suggest that diverse African populations were more subdivided with lower levels of gene flow during human history."

I suspect poor transportation and the lack of large states in Africa helped keep gene flow low between regions within sub-Saharan Africa relative to, say, Europe.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 4, 2007

Another successful Indian tribe membership drive: 2,800 driven out

Bob Hope used to joke about how the hyper-exclusive Cypress Point Golf Club on the Monterey Peninsula ("the Sistine Chapel of Golf") had just completed a successful membership drive, driving 40 members out.

Cherokee Nation Ousts Slaves' Descendants
Members Vote To Revoke Tribal Citizenship Of Freed Slaves' Descendants

(AP) OKLAHOMA CITY Cherokee Nation members have voted to revoke the tribal citizenship of an estimated 2,800 descendants of the people the Cherokee Indians once owned as slaves.

Ever since Congress allowed Indian nations to each own one casino back in the late 1980s, many tribes have been expelling marginal members to increase the slice of the pie for the remainder.

That's because the main benefit of belonging to a tribe -- the rake-off from a single casino -- is finite. In contrast, black and Hispanic organizations have backed broad, inclusive definitions of who is black or Hispanic because the rake-off from being black or Hispanic -- affirmative action quotas -- are indefinite in magnitude. The larger the percentage of the population, the larger the quota, and the larger the number of voters who are beneficiaries. (Of course, in this zero sum game, the greater the black and Hispanic rake-off, the more pain is inflicted upon whites, but the more white political opposition the more minority ethnic activist groups seem necessary to their constituents, so, for their leaders, what's not to like?)

Back in the 1820s, the farming Cherokees of Georgia were the most advanced tribe, enthusiastically adopting the white man's ways, such as literacy and slavery. They had their own newspaper and owned black slaves. While the hunting tribes were not much of a demographic threat to whites, the Cherokees looked like they could achieve rapid population growth. And if their hybrid ways spread to other tribes, whites would face serious competition for land. Not surprisingly, Andy Jackson ethnically cleansed the Cherokees from Georgia to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears.

It's common for African-Americans to claim to be part American Indian, although DNA admixture tests have seldom verified those beliefs. (However, admixture tests are still crude enough that the possibility exists that they may be getting this wrong.)

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer