October 9, 2013

Mr. Porter's Finishing School for Proper IQ Thought

Miss Porter
The NYT's long-time correspondent covering Hispanic-Americans, the Spanish-firstnamed Eduardo Porter (is he related to the Porters of Miss Porter's School for girls in Connecticut?), points out that America's top dogs and fat cats deserve better underlings and minions.
Stubborn Skills Gap in America’s Work Force 
By EDUARDO PORTER 
One of the few things that nearly everyone in Washington agrees on is that American workers are the best. ...

I never thought that. When I was about six or seven, it occurred to me that I was wildly lucky to be born in America.

In general, this notion that Americans have to be better than everybody else in order to deserve the benefits of being American is an insidious one that benefits elites at the expense of average Americans.
Fact is, they are not. 
To believe an exhaustive new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the skill level of the American labor force is not merely slipping in comparison to that of its peers around the world, it has fallen dangerously behind. 
Though we possess average literacy skills, we are far below the top performers. Twenty-two percent of Japanese adults scored in the top two of six rungs on the literacy test. Fewer than 12 percent of Americans did. 
Twenty-nine percent of Americans scored in the lowest two rungs [of numeracy] — 10 percentage points more than the average. By percentage, more than twice as many Finns as Americans scored in the top two.

Among those at the lowest level of literacy in the U.S., 53% are Hispanic and 20.9% are black, or 73.9% NAM. Among those at the lowest level of numeracy, 37.3% are Hispanic and 31.5% are black, or 68.8% NAM.
The O.E.C.D. study lands in the midst of a contentious debate over whether the United States faces a skills shortage. Over the last couple of years, employers have been saying that they can’t find enough skilled workers. Economists and other commentators have pointed out that employers would probably find them if they offered higher wages. 
The report suggests that the sluggish employment growth since the nation emerged from recession probably has little to do with a skills deficit that has been a generation in the making. But it pretty forcefully supports the case that this deficit is an albatross around the economy’s neck. ... 
Yet while other countries seem to have gotten the message, racing ahead to build skills, the American skills set is standing still. 
For instance, the youngest Koreans, age 16 to 24, scored 49 points more, on average, on literacy tests than the oldest cohort of 55- to 65-year-olds. ... in the United States that is not always the case: 30-year-olds in 2012 scored lower, on average, in literacy tests than 30-year-olds in 1994. ...
And yet, the report raises a couple of vexing questions. The highly skilled in the United States earn a much larger wage premium over unskilled workers than in most, if not all, other advanced nations, where regulations, unions and taxes tend to temper inequality. So if the rewards for skills are so high, why is the supply of skilled workers so sluggish? 
“The human capital base in the United States is quite thin,” said Andreas Schleicher, the O.E.C.D, deputy director for education and skills. “The American economy rewards skill very well, but the supply hasn’t responded.” 
... Immigration by less educated workers from Latin America plays some role. But as the O.E.C.D. notes, two-thirds of low-skilled Americans were born in the United States.

In other words, the Hispanics born in the USA aren't doing so hot.
And the United States has a poor track record in improving immigrants’ skills. ...
The other question is equally perplexing: if the supply of skilled workers is so poor, how can the United States remain such an innovative, comparatively agile economy? In other words, even if the American skill set is poor compared with that of its peers, who cares? 
Mr. Schleicher answered that question like this: today, the American labor market is good at attracting talented foreigners, offering them more money than they could make elsewhere.
“Japan has fantastic human capital but uses it quite poorly,” Mr. Schleicher told me. “The United States is the opposite. It has mediocre assets but is good at extracting value from them.”

It might have something to do with Japan having only as much land as California (and probably less usable land), but more than three times as many people.

And still, with every advantage (including oil), California manages to have the highest poverty rate of the 50 states (according to the most sophisticated new measure of poverty).
The question is, which country has the most difficult challenge? Mr. Schleicher says it’s no contest. In Japan, all you have to do is liberalize labor market regulations and allow firms to exploit human capital to its fullest. Here, human capital has to be painstakingly built, one cohort at a time. That work cannot begin soon enough.

You know, when you find yourself in a hole, dig faster. Go Schumer-Rubio!

43 comments:

Bruce Banner 753 said...

Since part of the English vocabulary is of Romance origin through Norman French or Standard French, many cognates show up between Spanish and English: in this case Porter (Spanish: portero, Valencian "porter" or possiby Old Spanish "porter") meaning gatekeeper or carrier.
Another similar instance : Draper.

rightsaidfred said...

In general, this notion that Americans have to be better than everybody else in order to deserve the benefits of being American is an insidious one that benefits elites at the expense of average Americans.

This needs to be repeated often.

Foreigners move to this country and then announce that they've been discriminated against in some fashion, so the natives need to give them money/change the country in some fundamental way. I suppose it is their way of conquering.

Anonymous said...

Anyone familiar with DC area schools will get a chuckle out of this article.

www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/hispanics-outnumber-others-in-montgomery-early-grades/2013/10/08/7e2d4962-2f62-11e3-bbed-a8a60c601153_story.html

notsaying said...

I found the stories about this international "skills" comparison study confusing.

I think of job skills as a blend of what we learned in school during the K-12 years and what we learned by experience on the job -- and, possibly, by further education.

When employers talk about skilled workers, I do not think they are focused on how well their workers can do math problems.

Isn't what they are talking about in this study is fundamental or foundational knowledge, which comes first, not "skills" which are acquired later by using and building on our foundational knowledge?

And aren't they pointing out that people who lack a good grasp of the fundamentals automatically have a much smaller chance of mastering necessary jobs skills?

It is misleading to talk about "American skills set" when what is meant is foundational knowledge that is typically acquired in K-12.

Another thing is that people who lack foundational knowledge are also at a major disadvantage in all areas of their lives, not just the workplace.

"Skills" is too limited a word to capture what is really meant.






Anonymous said...

"And the United States has a poor track record in improving immigrants’ skills. ..."

Since the 60s, US has had a poor track record in enforcing immigration laws.

countenance said...

Quick, somebody send Eduardo Porter a copy of The Bell Curve. It might make his head steam.

Anonymous said...

If she had only walked over the Southern Border she would not have had so much trouble.

Anonymous said...

Just as the University of California is ramping up its hiring of Hispanic administrators to replace retiring whites, it is rushing to automate as many important administrative tasks as possible so detail oblivious, happy chatty Mexicans don't end up crashing campus finances.

Ed said...

You have to try harder. Half Sigma has been covering this, and its clear that even when limited to comparisons of whites vs. whites, American whites don't do so hot compared to northern European whites (though they still do well compared to southern European whites).

Anonymous said...

Maybe average Americans need better leaders. Could that be the case? It's not like the imperial dictates on education and training have no effect on the training of Americans. What's the excuse for poor leadership?

Portlander said...

"... allow firms to exploit human capital to its fullest"

And they call conservatives Fascist...

deconstructingleftism said...

>>And the United States has a poor track record in improving immigrants’ skills. ...<<

The US has a *fantastic* record of improving immigrants' skills. The US has taken vast legions of poor, malnourished peasants and turned them into productive citizens and their children into accountants, engineers and scientists.

Trouble is, these were *European* peasants. At first, the elite- the great-grandparents of Senor Porter- thought it impossible. Applying HBD, they said you couldn't possibly make anything useful out of an Irish, Italian, or Polish peasant.

The champions of HNU, or Human Neurological Uniformity, as Moldbug has coined it, scoffed. All humans were alike. As it turns out, the first half of the 20th century proved them right. HNU prevailed.

So it was then obvious in the second half of the 20th century that the lessons of the first half could be easily applied to African peasants and Native American peasants arriving in US cities from the South and central American respectively. If you doubted this, well you were just like the evil WASPs who didn't like Irish and Italians.

HBD lost credibility originally because it does not apply well to Europeans- they are pretty uniform. HNU thus gained credibility and because later it was a good political tool for the elite, now has the status of religious dogma.

Anonymous said...

Among those at the lowest level of literacy in the U.S., 53% are Hispanic and 20.9% are black, or 73.9% NAM. Among those at the lowest level of numeracy, 37.3% are Hispanic and 31.5% are black, or 68.8% NAM.


A few wks back, one of your posts mentioned the academic ability of historically black universities. A question was posed: How good are these schools at turning out individuals in STEM related subjects? In other words, how well do these blacks do vs whites and asians in STEM fields? I posited that considering the preponderance of evidence vs black achievement in STEM fields as well as the total LACK of any significant percentage within STEM AND Medicine fields, especially when compared to other minorities (including Jews) one would have to say that overall, the quanitity (as well as qualitiy) levels are very insignificant and that frankly, these historically black colleges aren't all that in academics when compared to other schools that turn out students in STEM and Medicine fields.

Confronted now with actual concrete scientifically based studies that confirm that the overall number of total black population is quite low in the three Rs
(and of course, how can you major in STEM and Medicine fields when you can't even complete basic fourth grade math) one might think that they would retract their asinine assertion that blacks' total percentage in the STEM and Medicine fields is equal and or surpasses other minorities including Jews.

I don't expect an honest let alone accurate apology that my assertion was in fact correct (that black colleges don't have STEM and Medicine numbers in any significance because the total number overall of blacks is not very high in the rudiments of math and that therefore these colleges for the most part are overall inferior learning institutions compared to Ivy Leagues and other historically known "white" colleges). It would be ideal but this isn't the ideal world. Facts are facts.

Fact: No STEM or Medicine until a minorities total percentage starts improving in basic math skills.
AND don't expect blacks math scores to rival or equal that of Jews until they start to improve their overall numbers in standardized test scores.

It's okay. Apology isn't going to come even though it should It's okay. These facts only bolster my original premise so I'm content with knowing that the facts are on my side.

Anonymous said...

I read a book that said North Korean propaganda magazines were kept in most Soviet barbershops, in part because they were subsidized by the N. Korean government and cheap, but mostly because they were good for a laugh. A good parody of the Soviet system. As to the North Koreans, well you really can't parody true totalitarianism.

DPG said...

DC assumes American workers are the best? Obviously Porter needs to get around to a few more Beltway cocktail parties.

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/351198/rubio-aide-there-are-american-workers-who-lack-better-term-cant-cut-it-rich-lowry

Anonymous said...

"In Japan, all you have to do is liberalize labor market regulations and allow firms to exploit human capital to its fullest. Here, human capital has to be painstakingly built, one cohort at a time. That work cannot begin soon enough." - I'm pretty sure that if they "liberalize" their labor markets it will have a detrimental effect on their human capital.

Hunsdon said...

Eduardo said: Though we possess average literacy skills, we are far below the top performers.

Hunsdon said: What do you mean we, hermano?

Paul Mendez said...

The other question is equally perplexing: if the supply of skilled workers is so poor, how can the United States remain such an innovative, comparatively agile economy?

But are we, really?

Seems to me that except for tricky financial instruments and games you can play on your phone, there's not much innovation in the US anymore. And as for flexibility, why do we still have high unemployment 5 years after Lehman bankruptcy, and when's the last time you met a successful young person who grew up poor and was the first in his family to go to college?

pat said...

Lynn's studies and analyses seems to point to the conclusion that there are only four things that determine a nation's wealth. They are:

1. The population IQ
2. The presence of extractable oil
3. The absence of Islam
4. The absence of Communism

The brains of the population is the primary factor. South Korea has no resources, traditions or long term institutions. But it does have the smartest population of any nation on earth. The World Bank predicts it will surpass the US in GNP by 2050. (or is it 2040?)

Oil under your feet is like living on gold streets. No other resource is anywhere near as important. Lots of places have lots of coal. Some nations with coal are rich. Some nations with coal are poor but all nations with 'light sweet crude' have wealth.

Islam is anti-science, anti-technology, and anti-modern. Where Islam is strongest the national economies are the weakest. Economically speaking, Islam does almost everything wrong.

Communism also seems to blight an economy. Consider North Korea. Countries are able to endure moderate socialism but full communism brings full stultification.

Everything else is an epiphenomenon - a peripheral issue.

These four factors are new. When I was an econ undergraduate at universities on both coasts, none of these factors was mentioned. I studied developing economies for two years and no one ever said anything about population IQ. Islam, oil and communism were also not much discussed. There were all sorts of theoretical constructs that were invoked to explain differences in national wealth but not these four.

The community of developmental economists were surprised by the sudden wealth of the Seven Tigers as they were by the Celtic Tiger. They had predicted that Africa would blossom economically. No one of course predicted the fall of the USSR or the rise of China.

Most of the variance in national wealth is explained nowadays by differences in IQ. That trend is likely to be accentuated. Hard line communism is passing away. Unconventional oil sources such as those in the US and Canada are becoming more important and the West may finally smack down Islam.

In the future even more than today, national wealth will be just a simple function of national IQ.


Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

Well, that measure takes being homeless over not getting enough food. If you go by the old measure well Mississippi and Texas and much of the south does bad on food security. For Example in 2010 Houston had an 18 percent food insecurity while La had 16 and San Diego had 14. The new measure you like favors not having a place versus having less food.

Anonymous said...

New poverty measured is flaw, its really a very liberal measure. This is what it measures.
"But this position is wrong, for two reasons. The first is that the official measure is misleading — it measures only cash income, and it does not count benefits from many programs that help the poor. If they were counted, the rate would be closer to 11 percent.

Consider the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, which was first put into nationwide use in the 1960s. The immediate benefits are easy to calculate: a dollar of SNAP subsidies spent on food frees up a dollar for low-income families to spend on rent, utilities or other needs. When SNAP benefits are counted as income, they lift almost four million people above the poverty line."
Well believe it or not California made it harder than even Southern states to get food stamps. Both Wilson and Arnold had finger printing and so forth while it was easy to get general welfare it was harder to get food stamps.
So, its food stamp usage of places like Orange, San Diego and Riverside below the national level that gave Cal the 23 percent poverty rate not just cost of living. Conservatives should not use it since its a very liberal measure that lowers poverty if you use certain welfare programs like food stamps.

Anonymous said...

Because CPM adjusts for cost-of-living factors, it leads to some strange outcomes. By most accounts, Imperial County is ground zero for high poverty. The report argues that Imperial County’s poverty rate of 22.1 percent is lower than San Diego County’s rate of 22.7 percent. That’s shocking, even with a high margin of error.

Likewise, the CPM suggests that Los Angeles County is the state’s poorest, and that San Bernardino County, the not-so-tony area that sprawls from Fontana to Needles, has a far lower poverty rate than glitzy Orange County.

We’ve all seen dubious research over the years touting, say, rates of hunger that put the United States on par with Zimbabwe. By contrast, the research here seems serious, and echoes a new alternate measure used by the Census Bureau. It does raise more questions than it answers.

Obviously, it costs far more to live in San Francisco or La Jolla than Clarksdale or Vicksburg, so it makes some sense to factor in cost of living. The CPM also looks at the amount of government assistance families receive and at expenses such as commuting costs.

Maybe the formula has gotten so complex that it no longer is measuring poverty, but is emphasizing what any reasonable person already knows: It’s painfully expensive for anyone to live in California’s coastal metropolises.

The study also seems to have a political agenda that promotes more social spending. “The CPM illuminates the important role of the social safety net — specifically, CalFresh, CalWORKS, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and other means-tested programs — in moderating poverty,” according to its summary. A Los Angeles Times article argues that the study “could add pressure” for increased aid from the feds.

JayMan said...

Well, I was going to leave a comment over at an article at The Atlantic which talked about this (Americans Are Way Behind in Math, Vocabulary, and Technology) explaining what's really going on, but it seems that they've had enough of my "hateful" facts (to borrow Greg Cochran's term) and they've banned me from commenting. Fun!

Anononymous said...

FTA:
Stubborn Skills Gap in America’s Work Force ... Immigration by less educated workers from Latin America plays some role.

Nothing to disagree with here.

Anonymous said...

In other news...

The more Vibrant parts of the globe are chock-full of frauds pretending to be scientific journals and pretending to do peer review.

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/342/6154/60.full

Anonymous said...

"Though we possess average literacy skills, we are far below the top performers."

What do you mean, "we"?

It seems to me that the US is rapidly reaching the point at which reasonable would-be Citizenists can no longer convince themselves that there is a "we", only an Us and a Them.

There would be something tragic about that paradigm shift, but at least we would be spared this nonsense about how "we" are lagging behind our kith and kin abroad.

Matthew said...

The upside for those who are even moderately literate and numerate is that they will be seen almost as gods and can be used to manage the illiterate and innumerate Turd World masses we've allowed to overrun our country.

The downside is that instead of being surrounded and governed by thoughtful, cultured people (ala, Finland, Germany, France) we will be surrounded and governed by them.

Anonymous said...

"And the United States has a poor track record in improving immigrants’ skills. ... That work cannot begin soon enough."

Mark Kirkorian had an apt and striking analogy a while back. He compared the immigration enthusiasts to geocentric astronomers trying to reconcile their view of the solar system with an ever-increasing body of astronomical knowledge. The most elegant interpretation would be that the sun was at the center, but since they couldn't accept that, they had to come up with all of these elaborate and arbitrary epicycles to explain the heavens.

I often think of that when I read these exhortations to Herculean educational and social reforms in order to make immigration work. For those of us not ideologically committed to mass immigration, a much more elegant solution presents itself:

STOP IMPORTING THIRD-WORLD PEASANTS!

Anonymous said...

Schools do not appear to be adding much value. Nor do employers, which do little to train workers.

According to iSteve, American schools are doing a fine job and are turning out students equal to or better than those students' historic, ethnic homelands do.

Immigration by less educated workers from Latin America plays some role.

Define 'some'.

But as the O.E.C.D. notes, two-thirds of low-skilled Americans were born in the United States. And the United States has a poor track record in improving immigrants’ skills.

So let's bring in more immigrants without skills since we've shown as a nation we are not capable of improving them. What could go wrong?

Socioeconomic status is a barrier. Not only is inequality particularly steep, little is done to redress the opportunity deficit of poorer students. Public investment in the early education of disadvantaged children is meager. Teachers are not paid very well, compared with other countries. And the best teachers tend to end up teaching in affluent schools.

I guess spending close to a half billion on a new school for LA's hispanics, and another billion to give them iPads is a sign that we are not investing in public education. As Don King would say, "only in America".

Anonymous said...

Algernon's law

IQ in healthy people is near impossible to improve.

Anonymous said...

What if Americans encouraged immigration... as long as it was from Korea and Finland?

Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice that Korea did relatively poorly? They didn't perform particularly well on the verbal or mathematical sections.

Interesting that Japan would do so well and Korea would not. Typically both nations are near the top in international academic metrics and test scores.

Anonymous said...

All we have to do is teach them all how to dream big dreams.

Anonymous said...

http://t.co/ZpxENWXmys

Does this mean Obama has no real power? He's all about I, I, I, I, and more I.

I guess people with power are busy doing stuff and have their minds on tasks and problems.

In contrast, people without such duties/power just think in terms of I am hungry, I am cold, I am not well, I am not yabba dabba.

Anonymous said...

What if Americans encouraged immigration... as long as it was from Korea

Ever see who works in nail salons and Asian massage parlors? Very numerate except for the customers/johns.

ben tillman said...

What if Americans encouraged immigration... as long as it was from Korea and Finland?

What if Americans had children... instead of being replaced by immigrants? You got a problem with that?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
What if Americans encouraged immigration... as long as it was from Korea

Ever see who works in nail salons and Asian massage parlors? Very numerate except for the customers/johns.



Yes, but how are they during the happy ending?

Anonymous said...

Come now, those Korean M P broads are masters of the manual skills that we so desperately need! Plus, my bathroom is too small to install a table shower.

Anonymous said...

Mark Kirkorian had an apt and striking analogy a while back. He compared the immigration enthusiasts to geocentric astronomers trying to reconcile their view of the solar system with an ever-increasing body of astronomical knowledge. The most elegant interpretation would be that the sun was at the center, but since they couldn't accept that, they had to come up with all of these elaborate and arbitrary epicycles to explain the heavens.
Well, Krikorian Party is better than the Democrats because its based has rise hell buta now real strong system to hit companies that hire them or no Eisenhower deportation has taken place. In fact there are about half of the republicans that don't like it but many are more of the mind of Ted Cruz if the border is secure he would legalized them and not given them citizenship. Bush got this rolling while Clinton only did some small legalization process. If automation and Robotics were more ahead during the Bush year almost zeo would have come since they would be few jobs. Robots are the only way to defeat both political Parties but that also hurts the lower skill native born. In fact legalization could leave us supporting 8 million illegals on welfare by 2020 or so since robots will replace their farm jobs, home care jobs, maid jobs, even construction from what I read. Maybe, the US foreign aid to Mexico would be to take its people back and they will live off that money. Too bad the Bush fraction and the Cruz fraction of the Tea Party has power in the Republican Party.

Anonymous said...

The brains of the population is the primary factor. South Korea has no resources, traditions or long term institutions. But it does have the smartest population of any nation on earth. The World Bank predicts it will surpass the US in GNP by 2050. (or is it 2040?)
It could be, but South Koreans in the US have done mediocre. The first generation while college educated did small business since they didn't know English. In fact in La and Orange they do better than Hispanics and some Asians but worst than whites. Some are very successful while others still own small business in Korean town but don't live there. The Indians and the Chinese seem to do better, granted there are some poor Chinese and Indians in the US.

Anonymous said...

U.S. Unauthorized Immigration trend. Some make sense Texas grows about 50,000 a year since the unemployment is lower than other states. New York was flat until 2012 which had a jump of 75,000. This might show a new trend toward other than Mexicans. California was flat for some years it seem that many Mexicans were staying to see if the construction industry pick up, it didn't as much and in 2012 there was a 50,000 dropped. The biggest growth is the other states category which was as low as 700,000 in 1990 and over 4 million in 2012. These are the pew Hispanic Research stats. And I think other states were flat until 2012 and grew 50,000. Florida, New Jersey and Illinois mainly flat, I think there was a 50,000 dropped in Illinois bad unemployment stats the past 2 years. In fact Mexican income is higher in Detroit than Los Angeles or Houston, so in other parts of the US like Detroit, Mexicans can do better since their are less of them and blacks tend to have more job problems in places like Detroit and St Louis where Mexicans have their highest income.

i me mine said...

"http://t.co/ZpxENWXmys

Does this mean Obama has no real power? He's all about I, I, I, I, and more I.

I guess people with power are busy doing stuff and have their minds on tasks and problems.

In contrast, people without such duties/power just think in terms of I am hungry, I am cold, I am not well, I am not yabba dabba."

That's a shallow reading of the article. Narcisists for example, use I no more than others. In the last paragraph it is stated that persons who use "I" more are also more likely to be honest, as a third person pronoun is more distancing. The less truthful people are, the less they use "I". People "at ease in the caring fields" also use it. Some naturally talk more from the heart because they can only take responsibility for their own opinions and experiences.

There are situations where it works better. All the article states is that people who use I feel less secure at worst, more humble or diffident, or just find it easier to confine their opinions to themselves and not impose them on others.

In the case of Obama you have a narcisist who also knows he's ain't all that considering the office he holds. His situation is very unusual.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice that Korea did relatively poorly? They didn't perform particularly well on the verbal or mathematical sections.

Interesting that Japan would do so well and Korea would not. Typically both nations are near the top in international academic metrics and test scores.


Yeah, there are some interesting gaps here with other measures. Korea's young cohort is quite strong, if not up to the Finnish or Dutchie standard, but their middle aged cohorts are mediocre compared to the average, while the older cohorts are poorer than the European average.

This measure probably taps average educational effectiveness a lot more than average native cognitive processing, compared to a lot of other measures. Whether or not that makes it more or less effective in terms of real world prediction.