January 4, 2006

Mark Steyn's telltale mistake

Mark Steyn's telltale mistake: In The New Criterion (and reprinted on the WSJ's OpinionJournal.com site), Steyn has an article on his favorite topic:

"It's the Demography, Stupid"
The real reason the West is in danger of extinction." ...

The design flaw of the secular social-democratic state is that it requires a religious-society birthrate to sustain it. Post-Christian hyperrationalism is, in the objective sense, a lot less rational than Catholicism or Mormonism. Indeed, in its reliance on immigration to ensure its future, the European Union has adopted a 21st-century variation on the strategy of the Shakers, who were forbidden from reproducing and thus could increase their numbers only by conversion.

Much of it is quite good, although Steyn's schadenfreude at the troubles of those awful socialist Europeans is wearying. but Mr. Steyn misleads when he writes:

"In America, demographic trends suggest that the blue states ought to apply for honorary membership of the EU: in the 2004 election, John Kerry won the 16 [states] with the lowest birthrates; George W. Bush took 25 of the 26 states with the highest."

I was the first to publish these statistics (in my article "Baby Gap" in the December 20, 2004 issue of "The American Conservative"), but Mr. Steyn is distorting what I wrote, which was:

Bush carried the 19 states with the highest white fertility (just as he did in 2000), and 25 out of the top 26, with highly unionized Michigan being the one blue exception to the rule... In sharp contrast, Kerry won the 16 states at the bottom of the list, with the Democrats’ anchor states of California (1.65) and New York (1.72) having quite infertile whites.

Notice the difference? It's just one word, "white" (or to be technical, "non-Hispanic white"), but it's a big one.

Those numbers do not refer, as Mr. Steyn implies, to the "total fertility" rate among all women in the state, but just to the non-Hispanic white women. The correlation between white fertility and Bush's share of the vote was an extraordinary r-squared = 74%, but the correlation between overall fertility and Bush's performance was a significantly lower r-squared = 37%.

Among all ethnicities, Kerry won only 11 of the 16 states with the lowest total fertility rates, while Bush won 16 of the 19 most fertile states, and Bush's losses included the big states of California and Illinois.

This distinction has important implications for GOP strategists because immigration, especially of Hispanics, is driving up both the birthrates and the Democrats' share of the vote in many states. For example, in California, the 800 pound gorilla of the Electoral College, which voted Republican in 9 Presidential elections out of 10 from 1952 through 1988, but has gone solidly Democratic in the last four contests, as much of the state's Republican base was replaced in the 1990s by strongly Democratic immigrants.

A number of narrowly Republican states such as New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado are likely to be driven into the blue columns in future elections by immigration, with North Carolina and Georgia at risk farther off in the future. Republicans thrive in states with what I call "affordable family formation," where non-Hispanic white people can afford to get married and have several children because houses with yards are cheap and public schools aren't inundated with poor students, and thus they become more supportive of the GOP's family values platform. It's nuts for President Bush (and Steyn) to support the Californication of more traditionally Red states through mass immigration.

This is characteristic of Steyn's flippant disingenuousness about the threats immigration poses to America. Steyn asks:

Will Japan be an economic powerhouse if it's populated by Koreans and Filipinos? Very possibly. Will Germany if it's populated by Algerians? That's a trickier proposition.

Okay, so will the United States be an economic powerhouse if it's populated by Latin Americans? Exactly how many economic powerhouses have Latin Americans run? That would seem to be another tricky proposition, but it's the kind of question that apparently never occurs to Steyn, who lives in a small town in New Hampshire. I could see America continuing on at a high rate of prosperity for awhile, but losing its economic dynamism as the culture comes to be dominated by a people who have never shown much interest in scientific, technological, or economic progress.

The more fundamental point is that Steyn is badly misreading human nature if he thinks that a people reason like this, "Oh, well, our descendents will be gone, but at least our territory will be inhabited by somebody else's descendents who will make lots of money off living here, and, really, isn't that all the same thing, so nothing to frown about!" Surely, Steyn will have noticed that from 132 AD to 1947 AD, Jews did not think that way about the Holy Land. He might even have noticed that the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution announces that the purpose of the document is to " secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity," not to somebody else's Posterity.

I was thinking of Steyn in particular when I wrote in The American Conservative about the smug American reactions to the French riots:

Many Americans are congratulating themselves for their brilliance in choosing to locate their continent north of a huge supply of unskilled Latin Americans rather than north of a huge supply of unskilled Muslims, like those idiot Europeans did.

Later, Steyn bloviates:

The refined antennae of Western liberals mean that whenever one raises the question of whether there will be any Italians living in the geographical zone marked as Italy a generation or three hence, they cry, "Racism!" To fret about what proportion of the population is "white" is grotesque and inappropriate. But it's not about race, it's about culture. If 100% of your population believes in liberal pluralist democracy, it doesn't matter whether 70% of them are "white" or only 5% are.

Thank God we have those neuronal thoughtwave detectors mounted on the Mexican border making sure that 100% of all the illegal immigrants believe in "liberal pluralist democracy!" Of course, considering the superb track record Latin Americans have at running their own "liberal pluralist democracies," we can sleep well at night knowing that a flood of their least educated citizens into our country can only strengthen America's commitment to our traditional values.

You'll notice that Steyn is 100% against multiculturalism, but 100% for pluralism (at least in theory -- in practice, he lives in rural New Hampshire). Of course, much of the iMuslim mmigration into Europe came in the 1950s through 1973, before the word "multiculturalism" was widely heard. The highest term of praise then was "pluralism," which, in practice, meant immigration. You'll note (but Steyn won't) that the one Western European country that doesn't have a Muslim problem is the one that doesn't like pluralism or immigration: Finland.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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