March 14, 2009

Why do liberals assume that "be more like Europe" means "more like Northern Europe?"

Obama's supporters say he wants to make the U.S. more like Europe, yet the examples you hear from liberals about why this is a good idea usually come from Northern European governments. Why do we assume that a bigger government in the U.S. would be more like the government of Norway than the government of Italy?

Italy's a wonderful place, but it's not really a showcase for Big Government.

For example, I ran a test in 1980: I sent my parents a postcard from downtown Rome on Tuesday and another postcard from Vatican City, a separate country about a mile away, on Wednesday. The Vatican City postcard arrived home about three weeks before the postcard I had entrusted to the Italian government for handling.

It's not exactly a secret that the Italians are lousy at government. They'll tell you that. In fact, quite a bit of the motivation for the creation of the Euro currency was that the Italians wanted to outsource management of their money supply to the Germans.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Correlation and Causation

From Exurban Nation:
I used to think correlation was causation, then I took a statistics course and now I know better. Did the course help? I can never be sure.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 13, 2009

"Pay no attention to that Lobby behind the curtain!"

As I said before, I wasn't paying attention to the Charles Freeman imbroglio, but, even though it's been over for awhile, every time I look into the Washington Post, its editors are still talking about him as if he had set fire to the Declaration of Independence. Now, WaPo editorial board member Charles Lane (formerly, one of Marty Peretz's many bright young men who served as editor of The New Republic) is trying to force Obama into denouncing public mention of the power of the Israel Lobby.

There's been much talk about Charles Freeman and the angry parting shot he aimed at the "Israel Lobby," which he blames for forcing him to withdraw as President Obama's choice for chairman of the National Intelligence Council.

Amid the hubbub, however, no one seems to have noticed that Freeman's broadside against "unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country" was also a not-very-implicit indictment of the president himself.

To be sure, Freeman protested his "respect" for both Obama and Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence directly responsible for picking Freeman. But if Freeman's attack on the "Israel Lobby" means anything at all, it is that the president and his staff are either too weak to resist the machinations of these foreign agents -- or are in cahoots with them. The same would go for the senators and House members who also opposed Freeman.

Freeman himself wrote that the affair "will be seen by many to raise serious questions about whether the Obama administration will be able to make its own decisions about the Middle East and related issues. I regret that my willingness to serve the new administration has ended by casting doubt on its ability to consider, let alone decide, what policies might best serve the interests of the United States rather than those of a Lobby intent on enforcing the will and interests of a foreign government."

So far, however, President Obama has had exactly nothing to say about this extraordinary claim -- either in his own defense, or in defense of the American citizens whom Freeman has impugned.

Asked on Tuesday whether Obama agreed that Freeman was "unfairly driven out," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said he hadn't talked to the president about it and left the briefing room. When I contacted the White House press office on Friday, a spokesman e-mailed back that they "don't have anything additional to add."

No doubt the president faces a dilemma. I imagine that he finds Freeman's comments repugnant ...

Why would you imagine that? I would imagine that Obama, deep down, sympathizes more with Muslims than Israelis: his emotional ties to various Muslim individuals and his interest in the Black Muslims are a major theme in Dreams from My Father, while his few remarks about Jews are neutral. But he's calculated, sensibly, that the Israel Firsters are vastly more powerful in American politics and media, so he'll try hard to give the Israel Lobby enough that it won't make trouble for him.

... but to say so publicly would raise questions about why the man was appointed in the first place. And Obama has other things on his plate. If I were him, I'd rather deal with Citibank than dive into the nasty Freeman fight.

But the administration's silence is disappointing just the same. The president needs to knock Freeman's insinuations down hard ...

How? By shouting "Pay no attention to that Lobby behind the curtain!"?

This is just a ploy by the Israel Lobby to show off their power, to make Obama dance to their tune, to humiliate the President by forcing him to make a big speech claiming he's not dancing to their tune, that there's not even a tune playing, that only Bad People hear any music. They want him to say like Richard Pryor to his wife, "Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying ears?"

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Are there more lesbian than gay stand-up comics?

I don't watch much TV these days, so I'm not up to date on the latest trends, but it seems like a higher percentage of famous female stand-up comics ("famous" being defined as famous enough for even me to hear about them) are lesbians than famous male stand-up comics are gay.

There have been plenty of witty gays from Oscar Wilde on down, but perhaps modern American stand-up comedy requires a different personality type: more aggressive and depressive, less gay in the old sense of the word.

Maybe if you are a funny gay guy like, say, that star of stage and screen ... oh, wait I don't think he's out of the closet (but it's pretty obvious), so let's change my example to someone who is ... Harvey Fierstein, you are more inclined to go into theater than into stand-up, so you can receive affectionate applause as well as laughs.

Stand-up is a tough life, unless you're a tireless superman like Jay Leno or Bob Hope. You spend years working to get on the Tonight Show, then your reward is that you get to travel alone around the country until people decide you aren't funny anymore. (Or, if you are really lucky, you get to make a sitcom, which is a very nice life, but how often does that lightning strike these days?)

I remember seeing about 1986 at the airport the then-hot comedian Emo. ("My sister just found out that the pastor who married her and her husband was an impostor, so her marriage isn't valid. Yes, it's so sad. Now she'll have to lose all that weight.") He was sitting all alone changing planes for the 100th time in Chicago. He looked as depressed as he made me feel.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Two, Three, Many Detroits ...

Economist Glen Loury writes on Will Wilkinson's Cato Unbound:

I wish to discuss a preeminent moral challenge for our time — that imprisonment on a massive scale has become one of the central aspects of our nation’s social policy toward the poor, powerfully impairing the lives of some of the most marginal of our fellow citizens, especially the poorly educated black and Hispanic men who reside in large numbers in our great urban centers. ...

Here, as in other areas of social policy, the United States is a stark international outlier, sitting at the most rightward end of the political spectrum: We imprison at a far higher rate than the other industrial democracies ...

The demographic profile of the inmate population has also been much discussed. In this, too, the U.S. is an international outlier. African Americans and Hispanics, who taken together are about one fourth of the population, account for about two thirds of state prison inmates.

I think, Glenn, that if you stop and think about it, you'll see that you kinda answered your own question right there. (The other differences are that America has way more guns that Europe so more people wind up dead in altercations and the other parties spend longer in prison. Also, the U.S. is tougher on things like burglary and assault and battery, so we have a lot less of it than, say, Britain when adjusted for race.)
The extent of racial disparity in imprisonment rates exceeds that to be found in any other arena of American social life: at eight to one, the black to white ratio of male incarceration rates dwarfs the two to one ratio of unemployment rates, the three to one non-marital child bearing ratio, the two to one ratio of infant mortality rates and the one to five ratio of net worth.

Actually, there is one other arena where the racial disparity ratio is the same as in imprisonment: in committing crimes.

James Q. Wilson wrote:
Estimating the crime rates of racial groups is, of course, difficult because we only know the arrest rate. If police are more (or less) likely to arrest a criminal of a given race, the arrest rate will overstate (or understate) the true crime rate. To examine this problem, researchers have compared the rate at which criminal victims report (in the National Crime Victimization Survey, or NCVS) the racial identity of whoever robbed or assaulted them with the rate at which the police arrest robbers or assaulters of different races. Regardless of whether the victim is black or white, there are no significant differences between victim reports and police arrests. This suggests that, though racism may exist in policing (as in all other aspects of American life), racism cannot explain the overall black arrest rate. The arrest rate, thus, is a reasonably good proxy for the crime rate.

Black men commit murders at a rate about eight times greater than that for white men. This disparity is not new; it has existed for well over a century. When historian Roger Lane studied murder rates in Philadelphia, he found that since 1839 the black rate has been much higher than the white rate. This gap existed long before the invention of television, the wide distribution of hand guns, or access to dangerous drugs (except for alcohol).

Loury acts ignorant of the fact that America cut its imprisonment per crime rate sharply back in the later 1960s. There were more people in prison in 1960 than in 1970. How'd that work out for us?

How many more Detroits do we want going back to the forest?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 12, 2009

National creativity

It's fun to discuss which groups of people are and aren't creative, but it's worth noting that this often changes over time. For example, here are a couple of graphs I created from the database Charles Murray compiled for his 2003 book Human Accomplishment.

Here, I've plotted the "eminence" of scientists and artists working in the Netherlands between 1400 and 1950. Eminence is defined by attention paid to individuals in a wide selection of standard reference works by leading scholars in each field, on a 0 to 100 scale, with the top figure in each field being set at 100. For example, the highest point on this chart is Rembrandt, who "flourished" (i.e., was 40 years old) in 1646. Across about a dozen art history reference and textbook volumes, Rembrandt has 56.3% as much attention devoted to him as the top ranking figure in "Western Art," who is, unsurprisingly, Michelangelo.

The point of course is not to argue whether Rembrandt was really 46.3% or 66.3% as eminent as Michelangelo.

The point is to have an objective, disinterested tool for answering other questions, such as: Were artists and scientists working in the Netherlands equally eminent over time? (The database is "disinterested" in both the correct and vulgar senses of the word, in that neither the historians who wrote the reference books nor Murray who tabulated them were not particularly interested in this question.)

The answer is clearly: No.

Just like everybody says, the Netherlands enjoyed a Golden Age in the middle of the 17th Century: Rembrandt, Huygens, Vermeer, Hals, Van Ruisdael, Spinoza, van Leeuwenhoek, Swammerdam, and so forth. And there are a bunch of Europeans who moved about who arguably did their best work in the Netherlands, so Murray as classifying them as "Worked In" the Netherlands, such as Descartes (who said he got a lot of work done there because everybody in Holland was too concerned with making money to pester him).

And, yet, the Netherlands went through a Tin Age from about 1750 to 1850.

I don't know why the Netherlands declined in creativity in the late 17th Century. Perhaps it's due to the war of 1672. Wikipedia says:
1672 is known in the Netherlands as the "Disastrous Year" (Rampjaar). England declared war on the Republic, (the Third Anglo-Dutch War), followed by France, Münster and Cologne, which had all signed alliances against the Republic.

The Essential Vermeer website argues:
Eventually the prosperity of Holland became self-defeating: its covetous neighbors were finally moved to use force to acquire some of it for themselves. Toward the end of the age, the English wrested control of the seas from the Dutch Navy and in 1672 French troops overran most of the northern provinces. In a new era of surging nationalism, Holland was too small to maintain its dominant position. The merchants lost their daring; prosperity induced lethargy; godliness became self-righteousness. A long period of stagnation followed far Holland, and its art languished along with it.

Vermeer's career, for instance, was ruined by the war of 1672 and he died three years later in his early 40s. His widow, with 11 children, had to declare bankruptcy, and van Leeuwenhoek became the family's trustee.

Still, it's not clear if purely material explanations suffice.

Whatever the reason for the decline of creativity in the Netherlands, few famous artists and scientists flourished there from 1750-1850. Yet, in 1850-1950 (the end of Murray's survey), the population's individual accomplishments rebounded, with a Silver Age of Van Gogh, Mondrian, and a whole bunch of scientists.

The reason eminence can be reasonably assumed to be correlated with creativity is that both are measures of influence. Historians of the arts and sciences are trying to create narratives of Who Influenced Whom, as I explained at some length in my American Conservative review of Human Accomplishment.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Charles W. Freeman Contretemps

I'm sorry if I haven't been following this closely, but there appears to have been some sort of disagreement between those Washington insiders who are paid to serve Saudi interests and those Washington insiders who would pay to serve Israeli interests.

Apparently, American interests remain of little interest.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 11, 2009

NYT: Cut back on LSAT to benefit NAMs

The NYT claims "Study Offers a New Test of Potential Lawyers:"

The LSAT, as the half-day exam is known, does not claim to predict much beyond a student’s performance in law school. But critics contend that it does not evaluate how good a lawyer someone will be and tests for the wrong things. They also say it keeps many black and Hispanic students — who tend to have lower scores — out of the legal profession.

Marjorie M. Shultz, a law professor who retired last year from Berkeley and is one of the study’s authors, said she began to examine the issue after California voters approved Proposition 209, which banned consideration of race in admissions.

“Proposition 209 and the reduced numbers of minority admits prompted me to think hard about what constitutes merit for purposes of law school admission, and to decide LSAT was much too narrow, as well as having big adverse impact,” Professor Shultz said.

The Law School Admissions Council, which administers the LSAT, helped finance Professor Shultz’s research, which has not appeared in any scholarly journals. ...

Instead of focusing on analytic ability, the new test includes questions about how to respond to hypothetical situations. For example, it might describe a company with a policy requiring immediate firing of any employee who lied on an application, then ask what a test taker would do upon discovering that a top-performing employee had omitted something on an application.

More than 1,100 lawyers took the test and agreed to let the researchers see their original LSAT scores, as well as grades from college and law school.

The study concluded that while LSAT scores, for example, “were not particularly useful” in predicting lawyer effectiveness, the new, alternative test results were — although the new test was no better at predicting how well participants would do in law school. Unlike the LSAT, the new test did not produce a gap in scores among different racial or ethnic groups.

Swell, but there's this little thing called The Bar Exam that law school grads have to pass to become lawyers. For some reason, the NYT forgot to mention bar exams in its article.

There's plenty of evidence that people who get affirmative action breaks on getting into law school with below average LSAT scores are likely to have a harder time passing the bar exam. We're not doing anybody any favors by letting them into law school, run up huge student loan debts, then have them come out of law school and waste years of their lives trying and failing to pass the bar exam. Under the current system that uses the LSAT, 53% of blacks who start law school never pass the bar exam versus 24% of whites. Why do we want to worsen the black failure rate by cutting back on the LSAT?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


As it has been explained to me, the point of "Game" is for smart, nerdy "beta males" to use their brainpower to study and master techniques for persuading attractive girls in bars that they are "alpha males" at work. Of course, the young lady eventually figures out that you are actually a beta male at work and dumps you.

Here's my question: If you are really that good at self-improvement, why not instead study and master techniques for persuading men at work that you are an alpha male? After all, if men see you as a leader of men, then you will become a leader of men, with the concomitant rewards in income, power, and the long-term attention of attractive women.

Moreover, wouldn't it be good for society as a whole if more smart, hard-working guys became leaders, rather than the current set of nimrods?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Obama's war on carbon emissions

Shouldn't Obama call off his war on carbon emissions "for the duration" of the economic downturn? If the economy is roaring back in 18 months, swell, let's all start fighting carbon again then. But if we're in for a decade-long depression, then carbon emissions will be way down by themselves, and the last thing we should be trying to do is make energy, the main driver of economic growth, even more unaffordable.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Derb on Me in Taki's

John Derbyshire has a very kind essay on me up at Taki's Magazine: "Sailer-ism."

By the way, looking at my picture from last fall illustrating Derb's article, I wanted to mention that I've recently shaved off the goatee. The first famous person in Chicago to wear a goatee in 1991 was the White Sox ace pitcher Jack McDowell, whom I knew slightly because he went to my high school. Jack was a grunge rocker during the offseason and hung out with Eddie Vedder and the like so he brought the Seattle look to Chicago. But it took me years to get around to wearing a goatee. I'm not very fashion forward.

Now, de-goateed, staring at myself in the mirror, I feel like I'm missing something. My face is best seen in limited measure and too much is currently on display. So, I'm thinking about growing a mustache.

Clearly, though, mustaches are around the bottom of the popularity curve. Not even relief pitchers wear mustaches anymore -- I looked at pictures of the Dodgers' and Angels' 40-man spring training rosters and nobody has a mustache without accompanying chin ornamentation, not even the bullpen boys. (Facial hair creativity is found most often in masculine workplaces with a hurry-up-and-wait work schedule such as bullpens, firehouses, and army camps. The Civil War was the great progenitor of facial hair fashions, such as the sideburns of General Burnsides. See Ron Maxwell's movie "Gettysburg" to see what men with too much time on their hands can get up to in the facial hair department.) The older stars like Vladimir Guerrero tend to still sport goatees while the rookies tend to have that weird little chin frizz that Tiger Woods displayed awhile ago.

Do firemen still wear mustaches? Lots of the 343 FDNY guys who died on 9/11 had mustaches, but have they kept up the look? Do homosexuals still wear mustaches or have they hopped off that bandwagon finally? The only people that I'm sure still like mustaches are the illegal immigrants I see riding bicycles.

Attorney General Eric Holder has a mustache. It looks distinguished on him, but it's the same one he's had for years, so it's not exactly a fashion harbinger.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Boiler Room"

While reading up on Ameriquest, the top subprime mortgage originator in America before going belly-up in 2007, I was struck by this bit from a 2005 LA Times article by Mike Hudson and E. Scott Reckard:
Many of the ex-employees likened Ameriquest's culture to the rough-and-tumble world of "Boiler Room," a 2000 movie about fast-talking, young stock swindlers who revel in their powers of anything-goes salesmanship.

The comparison is more than happenstance: "That was your homework — to watch 'Boiler Room,' " Taylor said. Managers and employees passed around the film to keep themselves fired up, she and others explained. Kendall, in a sworn declaration in the Redwood City class-action case, said that watching "Boiler Room" was part of his Ameriquest training.

It was all about "the energy, the impact, the driving, the hustling," Taylor said.

So, I rented the 2000 movie. It's well worth seeing, as are so many movies that give you an inside view of some masculine institution.

A movie about the U.S. Marines, for instance, doesn't have to be terribly good to still be entertaining. There's just so much lore the screenwriter can crib. For example, there was a spat over "Jarhead," about a Marine in the First Gulf War, because the author of another memoir about that war pointed out that that a speech a colonel gives welcoming the Marines to the war zone was lifted nearly word for word from his book. Veteran screenwriter William Broyles ("Apollo 13") replied that that, sure, it's the same speech, but it's also the same speech Broyles heard from his colonel when he arrived in Vietnam in 1965. Marines don't let a good speech go to waste.

Similarly, it's fitting that the real life subprime peddlers at Ameriquest all watched "Boiler Room" because the crooked stockbrokers in "Boiler Room" all watch "Glengarry Glen Ross" and "Wall Street." They get together in the evening in one broker's giant empty house and watch "Wall Street" on the big TV and see who can do Michael Douglas's Gordon Gekko lines best.

High pressure salesmen watch movies about high pressure salesmen for pointers. The rest of us need could use a refresher in the games they are playing on us. The chief reminder, of course, is that they persuade men to make dumb outlays of money by challenging their manhood.

"Boiler Room" has lots of great lines, although it's a little clunky overall. This is a very young writer-director's first movie (Ben Younger was 27 when it was released) and it shows.

The casting is a little off. I wonder if somebody told Ben Younger that for his lead, the conflicted college dropout who can't decide whether he wants the money or his soul back, he should get, "You know, what's-his-name, that young guy, the pale one with the really Italian-sounding name," but instead of getting Leonard DiCaprio, he got Giovanni Ribisi instead. (Of course, there are a lot of movies that could have gone from half empty to half full just by DiCaprio in the title role.)

Ribisi's quite good in the selling scenes, but he never sold me on the idea that he should be a Hollywood leading man -- he's too toad-like and his complexion resembles the singer's in My Bloody Valentine.

Ben Affleck has the Alec Baldwin in "Glengarry Glen Ross" role as the sales manager who gives motivational speeches. (Here's the Youtube clip of the "group job interview" -- language NSFW.) Affleck is a guy who has shown some talent as a director and screenwriter, and has had enough work done that he looks like a leading man, but he's not really quite good enough of an actor. He's fine here giving motivational soliloquies, but there's fifty guys who could have done them even better.

Vin Diesel plays the one senior broker who is not a total jerk. I like Diesel, and I think he's a rather good actor when he's not talking (his control of his facial muscles is surprisingly delicate). But Diesel has some kind of speech impediment. I'm not sure exactly what it is -- some times it's a lisp, some times something else. But "Boiler Room" is the wrong movie for him: way too talky. Here's a Youtube clip of him reeling in a client where his charisma is locked in uneasy conflict with his speech impediment. (The really odd thing about Vin Diesel is how much his facial expressions resemble those of Jerry Seinfeld.)

With DiCaprio starring, Martin Scorsese directing, and an extra $100,000 of script doctoring, "Boiler Room" would be one helluva movie. But it's still worth seeing to learn some of the tricks of the selling trade, both for playing offense and defense.

Now, Ameriquest, where "Boiler Room" served as a training manual in salesmanship, was owned by Roland Arnall, whom Bush appointed U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands -- after this series of articles in the LA Times came out. And the Senate approved his nomination.

Something to keep in mind is how Boiler Room operators like Arnall and Angelo Mozilo of Countrywide used political correctness to keep regulators off their backs. Is it any surprise that having made the concept of diversity sacred and above question, it gets exploited by the Boiler Room Boys?

I've quoted before from Mozilo's prestigious 2003 Harvard address in which he promised to lend $600 billion to low income and minority borrowers over seven years. Mozilo's big speech is very similar to Bush's speeches of the same era about how America must create 5.5 million more minority homeowners. Here's a part I didn't get to, in which Mozilo repeatedly invokes the mantra from the Community Reinvestment Act about increasing lending to "low-income and minority borrowers" to argue against anti-predatory lending regulations. It all makes sense if you assume that a big problem in America in the 2000s is racist financial institutions not lending enough money to minorities. I've put in bold the places where he invokes diversity:
The next structural obstacle I would like to address is predatory mania, or to be more exact, the predatory lending legislation that is causing regulatory mania. From my perspective, there is absolutely no question that lending abuses have and are taking place relative to loans to low-income and minority borrowers. These abuses – whether they are loan flipping, the bait and switch, packing of fees, or any other unfair practice – must be addressed so that all Americans who desire to become homeowners will be treated equitably.

There is also no doubt, in my opinion, that we’ve worked together to make progress in this area – exposing many of the worst predators feeding in the sub-prime markets. And at Countrywide, we’re proud to have been the first lender to sign the Declaration of Fair Lending Principles and Practices with HUD in 1994 and the first lender to renew that Declaration in the year 2000. But now we are running the real risk, as the saying goes, of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. During 2001 and 2002, approximately 145 predatory lending bills were introduced by states, cities and various municipalities. ...

I don’t mind the attention, nor do I question the intention. These laws were allegedly enacted to protect borrowers from lenders who abuse the unsophisticated, low-income, elderly and minority communities by charging high interest rates and fees and fraudulently imposing unfair terms. These lenders deserve unwavering scrutiny and, when found guilty, an unforgiving punishment. But while there is a formal definition of what constitutes sub-prime lending, there is currently no formal definition of predatory lending. Thus, the Federal Government, not to mention each state, city, and county, is left to its own interpretation. Lenders are then left with a patchwork of legislation and a pile of regulation that is sometimes contradictory, often confusing, and increasingly, as new evidence is suggesting, counter-productive.

A clear example of this counter-productive phenomenon is the state of Georgia. The anti-predatory lending measure that became law in Georgia last October is so complex, and the consequences of a violation – intended or otherwise – are so severe, that lenders and the secondary market have been forced to stop making or buying so-called highcost loans. As a result, the availability of credit to many families has been curtailed out of the fear of possible lawsuits or other intended or unintended consequences. The immediate result of this unfortunate legislation is that Freddie Mac, a company chartered by the Federal Government, has “seriously” curtailed its mortgage purchase activities in Georgia, and Fannie Mae has promptly followed suit. Their obvious concerns are related to the egregious consequences to lenders and investors who are involved with loans that are traditionally made to low income borrowers, many of whom are minorities. I don’t blame Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae; I blame a system that is spiraling out of control.

North Carolina, the birthplace of predatory lending laws, is another example. It was originally believed by the author of the North Carolina predatory legislation that there was no adverse impact on lending in their state resulting from the passage of the law. But two recent studies – one conducted by Georgetown University’s Credit Research Center, the other by Keith Harvey of Boise State and Peter Nigro of the Treasury Department – show that sub-prime lending in North Carolina is decreasing, not just in the number of loans, but in the number of low-income and minority families applying for those loans. ...

The conclusion we can draw from these examples is that all lenders, and the entire sub-prime lending market for that matter, cannot be brushed with one broad stroke. Sub-prime lending is not the same thing as predatory lending. And there is no way that a reputable, national lender – whether it is Countrywide, Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo, or Chase – can operate under hundreds of laws that bear no similarity to one another apart from the fact that they all contain the word “predatory.” In the end, this patchwork of legislation, or “zoo” as one of the Governors on the Federal Reserve Board described it, will only inhibit lending by major, mainstream lenders, not encourage it. That, in turn, will leave the door open for the true predatory lenders.

And it will ultimately shut the door to homeownership for hard-working, low-income and minority families. If mortgage credit dries up in Georgia, in North Carolina and elsewhere, not only will the reasonable parity in homeownership rates [among the races] become a pipedream, but there will be an inevitable slowdown in other sectors of our industry because of the sequential nature of the homebuying cycle. We cannot allow that to happen. To make sure it doesn’t, we must work together – politicians, lenders, and community groups alike – to encourage preemptive Federal legislation that clearly defines predatory lending by addressing the real, rather than the imagined abuses. We must, in other words, keep our eyes on the prize: helping the American people – all the people – move along the road to homeownership at the lowest possible cost. Plainly put, we should be removing barriers, not creating new ones.

There's a Kabuki theatre aspect to these ritual controversies over predatory lending. Community reinvestment activists complain about predatory lending to low income and minority borrowers until such time as they all agree that low income and minority borrowers will get even more money loaned to them. To the Man from Mars, this "solution" of more lending sounds like the exact opposite of what was being complained about (too much lending).

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 10, 2009

I'm on WABC in NYC

Steve Sailer will be on WABC-NY, at 10:30 Eastern, 7:30 Pacific on Tuesday evening (i.e., now), talking about America’s Half-Blood Prince Barack Obama’s “Story Of Race And Inheritance”. Click here to listen live.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Obama's staffing problems

Four months past the election, Obama’s basic problem with staffing is that he doesn’t know many people — not in the sense of having worked closely with them on a successful project so that he can tell who is effective and who is an empty suit. He’s not exactly Dwight Eisenhower, who came to office with a list in his head of the strengths and weaknesses as managers of hundreds of potential appointees. How many successful projects has Obama been part of other than his own self-advancement? The Chicago Annenberg Challenge? That didn’t do anything for test scores. Getting (some) asbestos out of a public housing project? Woo-hoo!

So, Obama has mostly been appointing four kinds of people: Chicagoans he knows, ex-Clintonites he read about in the newspapers during the 1990s, campaign aides, and random people who sound cool. He doesn’t know anything about economics or business, so his weaknesses at staffing Treasury are particularly glaring.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Everything is different in Canada. Well, not really ...

A reader writes:
I thought you might be interested in the Toronto School Board's parent census. They surveyed parents in Toronto and tied the results of the survey to the child's Grade 3 and Grade 6 standardised test performance. Basically no surprises here. Math performance goes something like this... East Asians, Whites, South Asians, Latin Americans, Blacks. Generalissimo Franco is still dead.

The funniest graph is Table 28 where parents answer whether the amount of homework assigned is just right, too little or too much. Most parents answer Just Right, and the rest are fairly evenly split, but the East Asian parents vote 38% to 2% for Too Little over Too Much. (There's no word on what East Asian children think about how much homework they're getting.)

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 8, 2009

The deep roots of the "Obama Bear Market"

Now that the bloom is starting to come off the rose, I'm back to explore the President's emotional attitudes toward business in my new column.

On the last day of the ill-fated Bush Administration, the Dow Jones average stood at 8,281, down catastrophically from its 2007 peak—yet still almost 25 percent higher than the Dow’s close on Friday, March 6, 2009 of 6,627.

You might think that George W. Bush would be an easy act to follow. After all, he was inept enough to overlook the basic rule of politics that kept the Bush family’s friends in Mexico’s PRI party in power for so many years: Make sure the economic collapse happens right after the election, not right before.

And yet, what is now technically the "Obama Bear Market" shows that Obama may be down to the challenge of being Bush’s successor.

It’s important to understand that Obama was never a Depression Democrat who worries that the capitalist system can’t produce enough wealth. Obama didn’t run for President to help Americans earn more money. By upbringing, he’s more a Sixties person who assumes that businesspeople will continue—in their unseemly way—to produce plenty of riches, which a better sort of person (such as, say, himself) should redistribute in a more equitable and refined fashion.

When Obama began his campaign in early 2007, this worldview made a certain amount of sense. In early 2009, however, it’s obviously out of date. We aren’t as rich as we thought we were before the bubble burst.


My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer