September 18, 2009

If you want to understand ACORN ...

read Tom Wolfe's 1970 classic Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers.

The big innovation in racial shakedown rackets since then, however, has been getting into the business of being pre-emptively co-opted by corporations.

Say that you are Vice President of Predatory Securitizing at an Orange County lender and you've come up with a great idea: you want to give subprime liar loans with exploding teaser interest rates to illegal immigrants, then bundle them up ("secretizing") and sell these mortgage-backed securities to naive foreigners.

But, you don't want regulators getting sniffy about your new strategy and accusing you of Predatory Lending. So, you find a leftwing community organizing group to conduct pseudo-negotiations with. They start out denouncing you for predatory lending but end up signing a deal with you that says that in the name of fighting the financial industry's despicable and tragic history of racist redlining, you pledge to lend billions to Hispanic undocumented workers. (In return, you cut the lefties in for a little piece of the action, but you don't have to give them much because they have so many competitors -- the National Community Redevelopment Alliance lists 600 member organizations.) Then you wave that agreement in front of the noses of any regulators who start asking questions: "Look, capitalists and leftists have come together to fight racism and nativism! What, are you, some kind of nativist racist?"

My vague impression is that perhaps the most professionally cynical leftist group in this racket is The Greenlining Institute, which repeatedly publicly endorsed the ethics of Roland Arnall's Ameriquest subprime boiler room operation in return for donations. ACORN, in contrast, is more anarchic and unprofessional, as the recent tapes show. But, parts of ACORN has played this game too, as Michelle Malkin points out using the example of the 2005 arrangement between Citigroup and ACORN to give loans to illegal immigrants.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Illegal Aliens, Health Care and Amnesty: Medical costs are just a fraction of the issue

This happens every single day right now: an illegal immigrant roofer falls off a roof and is hurt. He doesn't have health insurance. Is he denied health care?

Of course not. America is a civilized country and we won't let suffering people within our borders go untreated. So, an ambulance rushes him to a hospital emergency room and he spends as many nights in the hospital as it takes to treat him. He pays nothing because he has no money. The roofing contractor doesn't pay either (his motto: privatize profits, socialize costs). The illegal alien's cost is simply added to the bills paid by people with insurance.

No, the big issues about illegal aliens, health care, and amnesty revolve around the indirect effects on the birthrate that nobody is supposed to think about in modern America.

If the roofer eventually goes home to Latin America because there is no construction work anymore in America without fathering any children in the U.S., then the costs he imposes on us are finite. If, however, he fathers a number of anchor babies within the U.S., then the costs become long term and difficult to fully foresee.

Clearly, one reason for Obama's repeated announcements that he's going to push through "comprehensive immigration reform" Real Soon Now is to dissuade unemployed illegal immigrants from going home: Sure, it's cheaper to be unemployed back home in Mexico than in LA, but you'll miss out on the amnesty if you leave now.

Add to that Obama's message to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute on Wednesday that the 12-million (or whatever) illegal aliens he intends to amnesty in 2010 would benefit from his subsidized health insurance, and you have another inducement for them to stay here, or to rush on in, even though there aren't jobs, so they'll be on the amnesty list next year.

A massive question that nobody thinks about other than Democratic political strategists is whether the synergy of Obama health and amnesty plan attracts maternal-minded women from Mexico. Maternal-minded women tend to be more cautious than men about crossing the border illegally and living without health insurance for their children. Plenty of them do sneak in anyway and have babies (according to the Public Policy Institute of California, the 2005 total fertility rate for foreign-born Latinas in California was 3.7 babies per lifetime, versus 1.6 for American-born whites and 1.4 for American-born Asians, and about 2.4 in Mexico itself -- the U.S. is attracting Mexican women who can't afford to have as many children as they want in their own country).

But think about what's coming if we have another amnesty and we have subsidized health insurance.

We know that the 1986 illegal alien amnesty, even without health insurance, brought in a flood of women from south of the border, who then had an extraordinary number of children in California over the next eight or so years. Demographer Hans P. Johnson of the Public Policy Institute of California wrote:

“Between 1987 and 1991, total fertility rates for foreign-born Hispanics [in California] increased from 3.2 to 4.4 [expected babies per woman over her lifetime]. ...

“Why did total fertility rates increase so dramatically for Hispanic immigrants? First, the composition of the Hispanic immigrant population in California changed as a result of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. In California alone, 1.6 million unauthorized immigrants applied for amnesty (legal immigrant status) under this act. The vast majority were young men, and many were agricultural workers who settled permanently in the United States. Previous research indicates that many of those granted amnesty were joined later by spouses and relatives in the United States... As a result, many young adult Hispanic women came to California during the late 1980s. We also know that unauthorized immigrants tend to have less education than other immigrants and that they are more likely to come from rural areas. Both characteristics are associated with high levels of fertility. As a result, changes in the composition of the Hispanic immigration population probably increased fertility rates.

This post 1986 amnesty-induced Latino Baby Boom is one of the sizable events in recent American social history and a major contributor to California's current dire financial straits, yet it simply is off the media map as if it never happened. I've been whooping about it for seven years, but I don't recall anybody else ever mentioning it. The national Baby Boom of 1946-1964 is rehashed endlessly, but this more recent and more relevant Baby Boom is utterly unknown.

When it comes to health insurance by itself, I don't have a strong opinion. The current system of employer-provided insurance, which is a byproduct of a loophole in WWII wage controls, is ridiculous. If this was Finland, with negligible immigration and a broadly skilled and healthy population, I'd probably be fine with the government-dominated health insurance system they have there. But, we're not Finland. As Milton Friedman said at the 1999 World Libertarian Conference: "You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state."

Many have commented on the craziness of trying to hold a debate over health insurance, when there are multiple plans floating around, each 800 pages long. Worse, though, we're not supposed to publicly debate (or even think about) the most important impact of these bills: the long-term impact on the population.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Obama takes his talking points from iSteve

From the Washington Times:

President Obama said this week that his health care plan won't cover illegal immigrants, but argued that's all the more reason to legalize them and ensure they eventually do get coverage.

He also staked out a position that anyone in the country legally should be covered - a major break with the 1996 welfare reform bill, which limited most federal public assistance programs only to citizens and longtime immigrants.

"Even though I do not believe we can extend coverage to those who are here illegally, I also don't simply believe we can simply ignore the fact that our immigration system is broken," Mr. Obama said Wednesday evening in a speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. "That's why I strongly support making sure folks who are here legally have access to affordable, quality health insurance under this plan, just like everybody else.

Mr. Obama added, "If anything, this debate underscores the necessity of passing comprehensive immigration reform and resolving the issue of 12 million undocumented people living and working in this country once and for all."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Recruiting better politicians

Has either party ever done any serious research into how to recruit better candidates?

For example, has any Republican ever seriously researched the question of what level of salary for officeholders is best for attracting better Republican candidates and officeholders?

Most discussions of pay for politicians in America seem to be moralistic/idealistic rather than pragmatically partisan. I can't recall anybody saying we should pay state assemblymen more/less because that would help my party beat the other party. But, that is an interesting question.

By way of analogy, about a century ago in Britain, the question of whether the government should start paying a salary to Members of Parliament was a major partisan issue. The fledgling Labour Party desperately needed to have the law changed to have salaries paid to MPs because it did not attract many rich supporters who could live off their "private incomes." Eventually, the Labour Party got the law changed and was able to recruit talented candidates to be professional politicians, dooming the Liberal Party. In other words, this is serious stuff.

In the U.S. today, the income gaps between Republicans and Democrats in a particular locale aren't as large as between the the three British parties a century ago.

Still, Republicans, I suspect, would be better off if governments offered either very low or very high pay to entry level offices, such as state legislators. Too often pay gets stuck in-between where it's very attractive to the typical potential Democratic politician (e.g., the chairperson of the Diversity Sensitivity Nook at a community college or the press spokesperson for a Save-the-Sea Otters organization, and would be making five figures) but not attractive to a potential high-quality Republican politician (who would typically be running a successful business unit and making six figures -- or is married to somebody making high six figures and doesn't need the salary).

For example, a quality GOP candidate might be, say, a CPA who has built a decent-sized accounting business and now employs other CPAs to crunch the numbers for him while he largely functions as a rainmaker through his multitudinous business and charitable contacts in the community -- somebody good with both numbers and people. (Maybe that's not a good candidate -- that's what research is supposed to figure out).

For the Diversity Sensitivity Nookmeister and other potential Democratic candidates, a state assemblyperson's salary might be a major step up in life, while for the successful Republican CPA, it would require a crushing sacrifice of his family's well-being to take the pay cut.

So, the GOP, being the business party, ends up with a lot of candidates who weren't very successful in business, and probably won't be very successful in running for office or in office either.

Perhaps instead of moderate pay for both lower and upper house members in the state legislature, the GOP would thrive best with low pay for assemblymen and high pay for state senators.

I don't know. I'm just speculating. But that's what research should find out.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 17, 2009

The Half-Full glass

Scandinavians have been keeping careful records on themselves for many generations, which has been a boon to social scientists. Here's a new paper on IQ and Family Background that uses IQ data from the IQ test given to Swedish conscripts. Sample sizes are ample (over 20,000 father-son pairs, and hundreds of thousands of brother pairs):
We use a large representative sample of Swedish men to examine both intergenerational [father-son] and sibling [brother] correlations in IQ. Since siblings share both parental factors and neighbourhood influences, the sibling correlation is a broader measure of the importance of family background than the intergenerational correlation. We use IQ data from the Swedish military enlistment tests. The correlation in IQ between fathers (born 1951-1956) and sons (born 1966-1980) is estimated to 0.347. The corresponding estimate for brothers (born 1951-1968) is 0.473, suggesting that family background explains approximately 50% of a person’s IQ. Estimating sibling correlations in IQ we thus find that family background has a substantially larger impact on IQ than has been indicated by previous studies examining only intergenerational correlations in IQ. ...

What is it then that brothers share and is important for their IQ but is uncorrelated with their father’s IQ? An obvious candidate is the mother’s IQ.

Although spouses’ IQ are most likely positively correlated and thus partly capture the same background factors, the combination of father’s and mother’s IQ is likely to raise the explanatory power in an intergenerational equation. Indeed, in a summary of previous estimates based on small and non-representative samples, Bowles & Gintis (2002) report the highest correlation from a study that applies the average of the two parents’ IQ. We doubt though that simply adding mother’s IQ would bring the explanatory power close to what the sibling similarity suggests. For example, attempts to account for the sibling similarity in long-run earnings by means of the education of both parents do not appear to capture much of the sibling similarity (Björklund et al. 2008). We hypothesize that very detailed information about parental aspirations, attitudes and parenting practices is needed to account for the large gap between what sibling studies and intergenerational studies suggest about the role of family background factors.

Of course, peer groups are also likely to play an environmental role as well as parents. Brothers are part of the peer group because they tend to interact a lot with each other, especially if they are close in age. Brothers born within 5 years of each other have IQs that correlate at about the 0.50 level, versus about 0.44 for brothers born more than five years apart. The researchers call that difference "marginal," and assert "permanent family and community characteristics are more likely determinants," but they seem pretty interesting to me since they are one factor we can tell (lacking maternal IQ scores) that isn't genetic.

Keep in mind that the higher correlation among brothers closer in age is not just measuring the influence of brothers on each other but of broader environments. Two brothers who are only two years apart are more likely to have, say, both been taken care of by the same grandmother, played with the same cousin, gone to the same school, watched the same TV shows, were supported by similar levels of parental income, and so forth than two brothers who are eight years apart.

Brothers born on the same day (i.e., twins) correlate at 0.65, with that made up of a mixture of identical and fraternal twins.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

College rankings

The neoliberal Washington Monthly magazine has gotten into the business of ranking colleges, but they do it based on their assessment of each university's "contribution to the public good in three broad categories: Social Mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), Research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs), and Service (encouraging students to give something back to their country)."

Interestingly, in their 2009 rankings of 258 national universities, the top three contributors to the public good are all prevented by law from practicing affirmative action: UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, and UCLA. (Of course, the UC administrations break the law, but Prop. 209 does keep them from doing it as flagrantly as they would wish.)

As a UCLA grad (MBA, 1982), I guess this should make my heart go pitter-patter with alma maternal pride, but, I dunno, I'm not sure I'm persuaded. Now, some of the high rankings of the UC universities stem from the Research measures being partly biased in favor of sheer size of school. For example, Berkeley, a huge place, is lauded for being first in the country in number of science and engineering Ph.D.'s awarded annually, while, say, Cal Tech is downgraded for being only 38th in this absolute measure.

But, what interests me is the credit the magazine gives for having a high graduation rate relative to average SAT scores and percent of students getting Pell Grants for being low income. For example, UCLA ranks 7th "best" in the country at graduation rates because a simple multiple regression model of its SAT/Pell percentages predicts that only 76% would graduate but 90% actually do.

I gather the idea is that UCLA is to be commended for inspiring its students with a love of learning or something, but, certainly, one simple way to boost your graduation rate is to make graduating easier. Consider a counter-example Cal Tech: A few years ago, I was walking across the Cal Tech campus and I stopped to listen to a speech given by a sophomore coed to a group of high school students and their parents considering Cal Tech. The young lady who had been chosen by Cal Tech to talk to potential students started talking about how big an adjustment freshmen year is, and how hard it is, and all the all-nighters you have to pull, and how brusque the professors are, and how emotionally wrenching it all is ... and then she broke into tears over her memories.

According to the Washington Monthly's (presumably linear) model, 104% of Cal Tech students should graduate, but only 89% do, so Cal Tech ranks 248th out of 258 in contributing to the public good by graduating people from college.

If I had a kid who could get into Cal Tech, I'd probably want him to go to Harvey Mudd instead. But, is Cal Tech detracting from the common good by being hard? Beats me.

By the way, Cal Tech is the only university out of the bottom 20 in graduation rates to be private. Colleges largely funded by dads writing checks tend to be more accommodating than at least some colleges funded largely by the taxpayers. The elite model these days is to have very high admissions standards and pretty low graduation standards. Is that better for the country? I don't know, and I doubt if the Washington Monthly knows either.

So, why are the graduation rates at the University of California schools so high? UCLA didn't use to be easy -- six of my high school friends went off to UCLA, rushed the same fraternity, drank a lot of beer, and flunked out together by the end of their freshmen year. Has it gotten easier? I don't know.

The affirmative action ban probably helps.

One obvious reason is that their student bodies are so heavily Asian, whose parents push them hard to graduate.

I'm also wondering whether the UC schools are jiggering the statistics without the Washington Monthly folks catching on. The UC schools have a little-publicized backdoor in that they accept a huge number of transfer students (UCLA takes in about 3,500 per year), typically from California's junior colleges. Are they counting transfer students who only spend half their college career on the UC campus?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Barney Frank's New Bill to Expand the Community Reinvestment Act

Nothing succeeds like failure.

Here's a press release from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition:
Expansion of Community Reinvestment Act Would Promote Economic Security and Financial Inclusion for

For ... whom? Can't you guys at least finish your titles? I'm imagine in your "Who? Whom?" equation, I'll end up a Whom, but I don't think the end of your sentence was going to be "for Steve Sailer's Family."

So, what's in Barney's Bill, H.R. 1479, the "Community Reinvestment Modernization Act of 2009"?

- Extension of the CRA from mortgages to small business loans.
- Inclusion of credit unions (my vague impression is that credit unions screwed up less than most financial institutions, so Barney has to rectify that!)
- Switch from unofficial to official inclusion of independent mortgage firms (e.g., Countrywide).

Will we ever learn? How can we learn if we aren't allowed to talk about What Just Happened to the economy?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

CRA: Does anybody really want to know?

26 months into the mortgage meltdown, we still lack basic data about the borrowers who failed to pay back their loans. Thanks to the efforts of Gale Cincotta, we have a huge amount of data in the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act database on the ethnicity of who gets mortgages, but no system for tracking who pays them back.

From the testimony of Edward Pinto, chief credit officer of Fannie Mae 1987-89, to the House Financial Services Committee on September 16, 2009:
While at Fannie, I had the pleasure to work extensively with the late Gale Cincotta. Some of you may be aware that Ms. Cincotta was the founder and head of National People’s Action (NPA) and is known as the “Mother of the Community Reinvestment Act”. Ms. Cincotta had experienced first hand the lending debacles created by the misguided efforts of Washington bureaucrats. ...

Cincotta was Alinskyite activist in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago (the one that my wife's family was driven out of in 1970 by FHA lending). Cincotta's tragic tale was featured in Alyssa Katz's book Our Lot, which I reviewed for recently.

Cincotta found over the course of her long career in leftwing activism that it was a lot easier to pressure lenders to lend more than it was to get them to lend more responsibly. There is simply no conceptual vocabulary in contemporary America to discuss the idea that NAMs should be lent less money. As Wallace Shawn liked to say in The Princess Bride, "It's inconceivable." Moreover, nobody can get their cut out of a loan that isn't made.
I also need to tell you that I have spent the last 14 months searching for the facts on what caused the real estate bubble and subsequent mortgage and financial meltdown. I have reviewed over 40,000 pages of documents. The process relative to estimating CRA lending volumes and loan performance was particularly difficult and opaque.

I give you this background because if Gale were here today, she would tell you that the federal bureaucrats have done it again, but this time on a much more massive scale. Because of CRA and Fannie and Freddie’s (the GSEs”) affordable housing goals, “American Nightmare of Foreclosure” has spread to virtually every congressional district of these United States.

Here are the facts that I believe Gale would want me to report to you:

• Understanding CRA lending performance is of vital importance because it is now clear that CRA-related single family mortgages totaled trillions of dollars over the period of 1993-2007;
• Over time CRA origination volume became a growing and ultimately significant portion of conventional conforming origination volume, growing from an estimated 7% of originations in 1993 to 19% in 2007;
• As H.R. 1479 points out, announced CRA commitment volume totaled over $6 trillion since CRA’s inception in 1977. Starting in 1992, volume exploded. Over the 17 year period 1992-2008, there were a total of $6 trillion in announced CRA commitments. This is an astounding 680 times the cumulative volume of $9 billion for such commitments over the entire first 15 years of CRA’s existence;
• Ninety-four percent of this $6 trillion in commitments were made by banks and thrifts that were or ended up being owned by just four banks: Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, and Bank of America;

Of course, analogous commitments were made by non-bank mortgage companies (such as Countrywide's $1 trillion pledge in January 2005) that had had been told by the Clinton Administration that if it didn't behave like it was under the CRA, it would be put under the CRA.
The questions you should be asking are:

Why don’t bankers know and disclose how their different products are performing?

Why is it that the Federal Reserve, the OCC, the OTS and other regulators appear to have no idea how CRA loans are actually performing over the last few years? Data from ten years ago cannot be the basis for making decisions on multi-trillion dollar programs.

Why is it that Comptroller Dugan just three weeks ago delivered remarks at the Interagency Community Affairs Conference where he asserted that CRA is not toxic lending, yet he failed to cite any broad-based quantitative evidence?

Why is it after requiring banks to demonstrate that they make extensive use of “innovative and/or flexible lending practices” in order to receive a rating of outstanding, not one regulator had the common sense to track the performance of these admittedly innovative and flexible loans?

Platitudes are not sufficient. I have presented a prima facia case that CRA is toxic lending which leads to unsustainable loans which leads to an unacceptable level of foreclosures.

Gale Cincotta’s views on FHA 11 years ago are now equally applicable to CRA and AH lending:

“We have been fighting abuse, fraud, and neglect of the FHA program that has destroyed too many neighborhoods and too many families' dreams of homeownership for more than 25 years.”

Section D of H.R. 1479 calls upon the Federal Reserve to create a loan performance database.

I respectively submit that before you take any action on H.R. 1479, you demand that the appropriate regulators request detailed CRA performance data from Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These six institutions should be able to provide performance information for an estimated 70% or more of outstanding CRA loans.

These programs have subprimed America.

The pain and hardship they have spawned is immeasurable. What is measurable is exactly how the trillions of dollars in past CRA and AH loans are performing.

Once you have that information, it is imperative that you learn from it so that you may implement Gale Cincotta’s vision whereby participants in the mortgage lending system have skin in the game. It was this lack of adequate equity and capital by borrowers, lenders, and investors that has put our entire economy at risk.

Only then will America get the sustainable affordable housing programs she deserves.

No, not that! Not what we deserve ... Please, give us something much better than we deserve.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 16, 2009

"Who? Whom?" v. "Whose side are you on?"

Ziel at Your Lying Eyes:
Now Jimmy Carter is joining the "Joe Wilson's Outburst Was About Race" chorus. While using the "race card" to stifle criticism of the president is a concern, perhaps there's a silver lining? Perhaps there is a growing realization that, when it comes to pretty much everything, it's all about race?

Obama himself is all about race - he's nothing without his race - he'd be just another boring guy of above-average intelligence whom no one's ever heard of. Crime is all about race. Education is all about race. Government spending and taxation are all about race. The securitized-mortgage calamity was all about race. Income inequality is all about race. Is health care all about race? It's largely an issue of who pays for it vs. who benefits from it, and so like all such conundrums it too boils down to race. ... And, obviously, there's immigration.

Non-Asian minorities have lower average achievement levels economically (lower median income), in education (test scores, graduation rates). They have higher rates of street crime, of poor health effects (obesity, hypertension) and illegitimacy. These differences are statistically significant and, more important, noticeable to pretty much everyone on each side, particularly to people like Obama who are much higher achievers than average. The question is how do you respond to these differences - resentfully or practically? Immigration greatly exacerbates these divides because it results in very large increases in the numbers of one underachieving group (Mexican-Americans). And when it comes to contentious issues like universal health care, it's a problem that places like Canada - or Vermont - don't have to wrestle with. So, yes, Joe Wilson's outburst ultimately finds its genesis in race - but so does pretty much every other controversy that pops up in this racially divided nation.

Obviously, race -- a question of who is related to whom -- is hardly the only way that humans divide themselves, but it's among the most pervasively salient to politics, especially as the racial balance in the electorate becomes less one-sided.

Therefore, we'd be better off with a political culture that openly asks "Whose side are you on?" versus the alternatives -- the Chicago style of "Who sent you?" and the current dominant culture of covert "Who? Whom?" quasi-thinking.

For example, Sen. Barack Obama spent most of 2007 running for President, but he found time out from campaigning to donate $26,270 to Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.'s church. Yet, none of the hundreds of journalists assigned to Sen. Obama ever seemed to find time to ask him "Whose side are you on?"

P.S. We keep hearing about all the "crazies" coming out of the woodwork of the Republican Party, yet the President of the United States gave $53,770 to Rev. Wright's church after he'd been elected to U.S. Senate.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

A question

I have a question. If Obama promises both:

A) to block illegal aliens from benefiting from his 2009 health plan, and

B) to legalize illegal aliens in his 2010 immigration plan that he announced last month in Mexico ...

Then who, exactly, is being disingenuous?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

My Taki column on country music

My Wednesday column on Taki's Magazine is up. It's a reflection on the permanent features of country music that you notice from an HBD-aware perspective:

Having listened to country music on and (mostly) off since Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” four decades ago, I checked in on Billboard’s Top 30 Country chart to see if anything was new.

A possible advantage about not knowing much about what I’m talking about when it comes to music is a certain knack for seeing the forest through the trees.

From that 30,000-foot perspective, the answer to what’s new in country turned out to be (as with most genres of popular music in the last couple of decades): not much.

Indeed, what seems odd for an old fogey like me is how much a country radio station these days sounds like a mainstream FM rock station in the 1970s. ...

When we lived in Chicago, my wife used to take guitar classes from the alternative country singer-songwriter Robbie Fulks, who would fulminate amusingly to his students at the Old Town School of Folk Music about the indignities he’d had to put up with as a songwriter in Nashville. As Fulks phrased it in a song about Nashville with a title that’s NSFW:

Hey, this ain’t country-western!
It’s just soft-rock feminist crap!

Read it at Taki's and comment about it below.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 14, 2009

J.T. Marlin

The top story in today's Washington Post:
Immigration Overhaul Supporters Ratchet Up Rhetoric
By Spencer S. Hsu

In a sharp change of rhetoric by liberal supporters of an immigration overhaul, advocates Monday called a main opposition group a "hate group" based on its founder's ties to white supremacists and interest in racist ideas, such as eugenics. ...

In an ad published in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call and a teleconference with reporters planned later, America's Voice, an umbrella group of immigrant advocate organizations, is accusing the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a prime lobby for reduced immigration, of leading xenophobic efforts to lower the number of Hispanic people in the United States.

"The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is designated a HATE GROUP by the Southern Poverty Law Center," the ad reads, citing a December 2007 listing by an independent group based in Montgomery, Ala., that monitors racist groups. "Extremist groups, like FAIR, shouldn't write immigration policy," the ad concludes.

Ah, yes, the good old SPLC, which was Martin Luther King Jr.'s organization. No, wait ... that was the SCLC, the Southern Christian Leadership Council. The SPLC wasn't founded until three years after MLK's death. It's like in the movie "Boiler Room" where the penny stock peddlers work for a firm named "J.T. Marlin" to get the easily confused to confuse it with J.P. Morgan.

This reminds me of an email that a blogger forwarded to me from someone saying he was Morris Dees, founder of the SPLC. Morris asked the blogger to spy for him on a book he had blogged about. Morris emailed:
Could you elaborate just a little on how X indicates he's open to the idea of there being racial differences in IQ. doesn't allow me to search inside Y, but this passage I found in X's previous book, Z, seems to indicate X favors a strictly environmental explanation.

C'mon, Morris, you've got more money than God. If you are considering launching a hate campaign against Professor X for being open to the idea of there being racial differences in IQ so you can get more donations from senile rich liberals who can't tell the SPLC from the SCLC, then buy the damn book yourself, expense it, and have one of your staffers read it for you.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"The Recession's Racial Divide"

From the New York Times, a new entry in the sweepstakes to put a politically correct spin on the emerging facts about the mortgage meltdown
The Recession's Racial Divide

... Despite the sense of white grievance, though, blacks are the ones who are taking the brunt of the recession, with disproportionately high levels of foreclosures and unemployment. And they weren’t doing so well to begin with.

In fact, you could say that for African-Americans the recession is over. It occurred from 2000 to 2007, as black employment decreased by 2.4 percent and incomes declined by 2.9 percent. During those seven years, one-third of black children lived in poverty, and black unemployment — even among college graduates — consistently ran at about twice the level of white unemployment.

So, maybe importing so many millions of foreigners from 2000 to 2007 to "do the jobs [African] Americans weren't willing to do" wasn't such a hot idea after all? Well, don't ask Ms. Ehrenreich about immigration. She evidently has no opinion on the subject, since it doesn't come up in her long spiel.

...Plenty of formerly middle- or working-class whites have followed similar paths to ruin: the layoff or reduced hours, the credit traps and ever-rising debts, the lost home. But one thing distinguishes hard-pressed African-Americans as a group: Thanks to a legacy of a discrimination in both hiring and lending, they’re less likely than whites to be cushioned against the blows by wealthy relatives or well-stocked savings accounts. In 2008, on the cusp of the recession, the typical African-American family had only a dime for every dollar of wealth possessed by the typical white family.

In other words, blacks weren't as good credit-risks on average, even when incomes were the same. So, why, then, four decades of government effort to change the culture of lending in order to get more mortgage dollars into the hands of minorities? Maybe the old culture had a more accurate view of the creditworthiness of blacks than the new government-nurtured culture?

Racial asymmetry was stamped on this recession from the beginning. Wall Street’s reckless infatuation with subprime mortgages led to the global financial crash of 2007, which depleted home values and 401(k)’s across the racial spectrum.

So, maybe Wall Street shouldn't have looked favorably on lending more to minorities? Is that what you are saying?

People of all races got sucked into subprime and adjustable-rate mortgages, but even high-income blacks were almost twice as likely to end up with subprime home-purchase loans as low-income whites — even when they qualified for prime mortgages, even when they offered down payments.

I call this the "thread-the-needle" part of the new conventional wisdom. It's like Ptolemy's complex system of epicycles intended to "save the appearances" of the theory that all planetary orbits were perfect circles. Our era's Ptolemaic theory is that minorities can only be victims of discrimination, not beneficiaries of discrimination, so the only logical solution is that all those blacks who defaulted on their subprime loans were victims of discrimination: see, they should have gotten prime loans!

As Ehrenreich just mentioned, blacks tend to have an order of magnitude less net worth and fewer relatives to help them make payments during a crunch, so why would anybody think that blacks with low incomes would be just as good credit risks as whites with low incomes? As Laderman and Reid of the San Francisco Fed's study of California mortgages showed, even adjusted for income and FICO score, black borrowers went into foreclosure at 3.3X the rate of white borrowers. And the Boston Fed's study of subprime mortgages in Massachusetts showed that black subprime borrowers have consistently had about 2.3X higher default rates even long before the crash.

In reality, people who defaulted on subprime mortgages shouldn't have gotten a mortgage.

Economists are studying this argument that higher interest rates caused delinquency differences among the races and are finding it very dubious. For example, in "Liar's Loan?" Jiang, Aiko Nelson, and Vytlacil report on 700,000 mortgages from one lender:
Our data suggest that loan pricing is an unlikely explanation for the higher delinquency rates observed among black and Hispanic borrowers. Black borrowers exhibit higher delinquency rates relative to white borrowers, even for bank-originated loans for which we find no evidence of unfavorable pricing. The average (median) unpaid balance on loans among black borrowers is $185,000 ($150,000). Thus, the estimated black-white difference in interest rate among roker-originated loans--10-16 basis points-- amounts to an additional monthly payment of $15-$25 (or $13-$20) using the mean (or median) balance. It is unlikely that such a difference could be pivotal in loan delinquency. Moreover, Hispanic borrowers exhibit the highest delinquency rates in our sample among all demographic groups, although there is no evidence that they face unfavorable interest rates in comparison to other groups

Ehrenreich continues:

According to a 2008 report by United for a Fair Economy, a research and advocacy group, from 1998 to 2006 (before the subprime crisis), blacks lost $71 billion to $93 billion in home-value wealth from subprime loans. The researchers called this family net-worth catastrophe the “greatest loss of wealth in recent history for people of color.” And the worst was yet to come.

Funny how our politicians and journalists and bankers didn't learn anything from this earlier, smaller-scale debacle with subprime loans to blacks, nor from the FHA debacle of the late 1960s and early 1970s. It's almost as if political correctness makes you stupid.

In a new documentary film about the subprime crisis, “American Casino,” solid black citizens — a high school social studies teacher, a psychotherapist, a minister — relate how they lost their homes when their monthly mortgage payments exploded. Watching the parts of the film set in Baltimore is a little like watching the TV series “The Wire,” except that the bad guys don’t live in the projects; they hover over computer screens on Wall Street.

While they were being egged on by regulators, politicians, and the press for breaking down racist barriers to homeownership.

It’s not easy to get people to talk about their subprime experiences. There’s the humiliation of having been “played” by distant, mysterious forces. “I don’t feel very good about myself,” says the teacher in “American Casino.” “I kind of feel like a failure.”

Well, when you default on a loan, you are at fault. But, if you are black you can always blame it on "distant, mysterious forces," so your crucial self-esteem won't take a hit.

Even people who know better tend to blame themselves — like Melonie Griffith, a 40-year-old African-American who works with the Boston group City Life/La Vida Urbana helping other people avoid foreclosure and eviction. She criticizes herself for having been “naïve” enough to trust the mortgage lender who, in 2004, told her not to worry about the high monthly payments she was signing on for because the mortgage would be refinanced in “a couple of months.” The lender then disappeared, leaving Ms. Griffith in foreclosure, with “nowhere for my kids and me to go.” Only when she went public with her story did she find that she wasn’t the only one. “There is a consistent pattern here,” she told us.


But, pattern recognition is racist, so Americans aren't very good at it these days.

Mortgage lenders like Countrywide and Wells Fargo sought out minority homebuyers for the heartbreakingly simple reason that, for decades, blacks had been denied mortgages on racial grounds, and were thus a ready-made market for the gonzo mortgage products of the mid-’00s. Banks replaced the old racist practice of redlining with “reverse redlining” — intensive marketing aimed at black neighborhoods in the name of extending home ownership to the historically excluded. Countrywide, which prided itself on being a dream factory for previously disadvantaged homebuyers, rolled out commercials showing canny black women talking their husbands into signing mortgages.

Damned if you don't and damned if you do.

... Joel Osteen, the white megachurch pastor who draws 40,000 worshippers each Sunday, about two-thirds of them black and Latino, likes to relate how he himself succumbed to God’s urgings — conveyed by his wife — to upgrade to a larger house. According to Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California at Riverside, pastors like Mr. Osteen reassured people about subprime mortgages by getting them to believe that “God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and bless me with my first house.” If African-Americans made any collective mistake in the mid-’00s, it was to embrace white culture too enthusiastically, and substitute the individual wish-fulfillment promoted by Norman Vincent Peale for the collective-action message of Martin Luther King.

No comment.

So despite the right-wing perception of black power grabs, this recession is on track to leave blacks even more economically disadvantaged than they were. Does a black president who is inclined toward bipartisanship dare address this destruction of the black middle class? Probably not.

Does anybody dare address the question of how we got into this mess?

In summary, the government and the media worked for 40 years to change the business culture to demonize anyone holding perceptions that minorities tend to be worse credit risks. They succeeded on a vast scale. The debauching of credit standards for everybody, and the creation of a false sense of confidence, which has been promoted by all right-thinking people in the name of minority homeownership, led to a mortgage meltdown which set off a huge recession.

And we still aren't supposed to talk about it.

Intelligence and Conscientiousness

Over recent decades, psychologists have converged on a model of personality sometimes called the Big Five Factors Plus IQ. As Geoffrey Miller points out in Spent, this is not some revelation that a charismatic genius like Freud has brought down from the mountaintop. Instead, it's an emergent consensus of a whole bunch of researchers.

Conscientiousness is becoming popular as the Big Five factor that's most like IQ in that it's broadly applicable. Just as all else being equal, in hiring for almost any job you'd rather have somebody with more rather than less IQ, you'd like to have somebody with more rather than less conscientiousness.

Bruce G. Charlton has an interesting essay on IQ and Conscientiousness that begins:
The psychological attributes of intelligence and personality are usually seen as being quite distinct in nature: higher intelligence being regarded a ‘gift’ (bestowed mostly by heredity); while personality or ‘character’ is morally evaluated by others, on the assumption that it is mostly a consequence of choice? So a teacher is more likely to praise a child for their highly Conscientious personality (high ‘C’) – an ability to take the long view, work hard with self-discipline and persevere in the face of difficulty – than for possessing high IQ. Even in science, where high intelligence is greatly valued, it is seen as being more virtuous to be a reliable and steady worker. Yet it is probable that both IQ and personality traits (such as high-C) are about-equally inherited ‘gifts’ (heritability of both likely to be in excess of 0.5). Rankings of both IQ and C are generally stable throughout life (although absolute levels of both will typically increase throughout the lifespan, with IQ peaking in late-teens and C probably peaking in middle age). Furthermore, high IQ is not just an ability to be used only as required; higher IQ also carries various behavioural predispositions – as reflected in the positive correlation with the personality trait of Openness to Experience; and characteristically ‘left-wing’ or ‘enlightened’ socio-political values among high IQ individuals. However, IQ is ‘effortless’ while high-C emerges mainly in tough situations where exceptional effort is required. So we probably tend to regard personality in moral terms because this fits with a social system that provides incentives for virtuous behaviour (including Conscientiousness).

Yet, it would seem like Conscientiousness is historically alterable -- e.g., the Victorian English seem a lot more conscientiousness than their Regency grandparents, while today's English seem like bigger screw-offs than their grandparents.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 13, 2009

People Who Died

Here's a headline in the NYT that's representative of a trend I've been noticing in the obituaries for about 5 years now:
Jim Carroll, Poet and Punk Rocker, Is Dead at 60
The ex-rock figures who show up in the obituaries tend to die around age 60.

Sure, that's not the way to figure out life expectancy since you're only seeing people who died. For example, a lot of the original wild men of the 1950s aren't dead yet (Chuck Berry is 82 and Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis are in their mid-70s.) And Les Paul, who sort of invented the electric guitar, died recently at 94.

Still, 60 or thereabouts is what I keep seeing in ex-rock star obituaries.

In general, rock stars tend to be high energy people. For example, a thoroughly hashed-up and beered-up Joe Strummer of The Clash ran marathons in 1981, 1982, and 1983, claiming a best time of 3:20, which is pretty funny considering the shambolic state of The Clash from late 1979 onward.

Kurt Cobain is close to the exception that proves the rule by being a rock star who probably would have been sickly even without all the drugs. Neil Young suffered from epilepsy when he was in his 20s, but it has disappeared, and his iron constitution has reasserted itself (his mother was a terrific athlete and his father was Canada's top hockey writer). For Bruce Springsteen, who appears to be a generally all around above average individual, I'd set the over-under line at, say, age 87.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Another college football metaphor

After yesterday's USC-Ohio State game, I got to thinking about college football as metaphor again.

From 1947 through 2001, the Rose Bowl football game matched up the Big Ten champion (often Ohio State) versus the Pac Eight/Ten champ (usually USC). Typically, the Big Ten representative would come to Pasadena with the higher ranking at the end of the regular season (frequently #1) due to its fearsome ground game. The Big Ten won 12 of the 13 Rose Bowls from 1947 through 1959. The 1960s were evenly split, then the West Coast teams won 9 out of 10 in the 1970s and 8 out of 10 ten in the 1980s. The big difference was that, on the whole, the West Coast team could pass, the offense of the future, as well as run.

The Cold War was kind of like that. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Soviets, with their 5.3 million person military and 53,000 tanks (both figures as of 1985 according to Gen. Odom's history of the collapse of the Red Army), resembled Woody Hayes' Ohio State: with a seemingly crushing ground game, but one-dimensional, geared to win the Last War. The Americans, with their air and sea power to complement their ground game were like U.S.C. In retrospect, it's not surprising who won, but it wasn't so obvious at the time.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Boone Pickens not getting much for his $265,000,000

University of Houston (unranked, Conference USA): 45
Oklahoma State (#5, Big 12): 35

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer