December 2, 2011

Work hard, study hard, riot hard

Here's an amusing article by Amanda Ripley in Time:
On a wet Wednesday evening in Seoul, six government employees gather at the office to prepare for a late-night patrol. The mission is as simple as it is counterintuitive: to find children who are studying after 10 p.m. And stop them. 
In South Korea, it has come to this. To reduce the country's addiction to private, after-hours tutoring academies (called hagwons), the authorities have begun enforcing a curfew — even paying citizens bounties to turn in violators. ... 
But cramming is deeply embedded in Asia, where top grades — and often nothing else — have long been prized as essential for professional success. Before toothbrushes or printing presses, there were civil service exams that could make or break you. Chinese families have been hiring test-prep tutors since the 7th century. Modern-day South Korea has taken this competition to new extremes. In 2010, 74% of all students engaged in some kind of private after-school instruction, sometimes called shadow education, at an average cost of $2,600 per student for the year. There are more private instructors in South Korea than there are schoolteachers, and the most popular of them make millions of dollars a year from online and in-person classes. When Singapore's Education Minister was asked last year about his nation's reliance on private tutoring, he found one reason for hope: "We're not as bad as the Koreans."

In other news, South Koreans are the world's best organized rioters.

December 1, 2011

Do college quotas hurt NAMs?

George Will has a column on some new research supporting the mismatch theory that racial quotas in education hurt their beneficiaries by putting them into overly elite schools:
A second brief, submitted by three members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Gail Heriot, Peter Kirsanow and Todd Gaziano), argues that racial preferences in law school admissions mean fewer black lawyers than there would be without preferences that bring law students into elite academic settings where their credentials put them in the bottom of their classes. A similar dynamic is reducing the number of minority scientists and engineers than there would be under race-neutral admissions policies. 
There are fewer minorities entering high-prestige careers than there would be if preferences were not placing many talented minority students in inappropriate, and discouraging, academic situations: “Many would be honor students elsewhere. But they are subtly being made to feel as if they are less talented than they really are.” This is particularly so regarding science and engineering, which are, as Heriot, Kirsanow and Gaziano say, “ruthlessly cumulative”: Students who struggle in entry-level classes will find their difficulties cascading as the academic ascent becomes steeper. Hence the high attrition rates. 

I used to think this was true, but I now have doubts. You know whose perspective I'd like to get on this issue?: A widowed black lady named Marian Robinson. See, she repeatedly saw her daughter go to elite schools on racial quotas -- Whitney Young HS, Princeton, Harvard Law, and then off to a Big Law firm -- But her daughter was in over her head at most of these places, felt like her peers were looking down upon her, struggled with spelling and with passing the bar exam, and quickly gave up practicing law for lower brow jobs in the fixer industry in Chicago. So, the question I'd ask Mrs. Robinson is how did  affirmative action work out for your daughter?

But I probably won't be able to go over to her house and knock on the door and ask Mrs. Robinson, because she and her daughter, two granddaughters, and her son-in-law, live in the White House. So, I'm just going to guess that, despite some rough patches, overall it worked out pretty doggone good for Michelle Robinson Obama.

Say I'm a black high school student with a 700 SAT math score and my options are:

1) Without affirmative action, go to Purdue and become an engineer.

2) With affirmative action, go to Penn, major in economics or finance, maybe get an MBA, and go into corporate management

Why would I choose what's behind door #1? My dad was an engineer. A friend of his designed the fastest airplane of all time. But, he was never that kind of genius, so he spent 40 years worrying about whether or not the wings were going to snap off the planes designed by the geniuses.

There are a lot of worse jobs than engineer, but there are better jobs, too.

To compare this topic to my next blog post below, I'd say that getting into a college a little over your head is likely to be a lot less disastrous than getting into a financial transaction a little over your head. Not for profit colleges, especially the elite ones, are pretty coddling places, at least outside of sci-eng departments. If you don't graduate, that will look bad on their USNWRs, so they will help you find a Plan B.

In contrast, you don't want to get into a for-profit educational institution to study something above your brainpower. You'll just wind up with a lot of inescapable debt and nothing to show for it.  

Why understanding ethnic differences in IQ matters: Part CMXII

Nicholas D. Kristof writes in the NYT:
One memory particularly troubles Theckston. He says that some account executives earned a commission seven times higher from subprime loans, rather than prime mortgages. So they looked for less savvy borrowers — those with less education, without previous mortgage experience, or without fluent English — and nudged them toward subprime loans. 
These less savvy borrowers were disproportionately blacks and Latinos, he said, and they ended up paying a higher rate so that they were more likely to lose their homes. Senior executives seemed aware of this racial mismatch, he recalled, and frantically tried to cover it up. 
Theckston, who has a shelf full of awards that he won from Chase, such as “sales manager of the year,” showed me his 2006 performance review. It indicates that 60 percent of his evaluation depended on him increasing high-risk loans.

Way back in 2000, I wrote a 5-part series for VDARE on How to Help the Left Half of the Bell Curve. In it, I protested: "America's growing IQ stratification, and the resulting class war that the clever are waging upon the clueless, is one of the great unmentionables."

The subsequent subprime disaster exemplified this. The conventional wisdom on increasing minority homeownership, as promoted by Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Henry Cisneros, and Angelo Mozilo, was that mortgage lenders who followed traditional credit standards were stupid racists who were overlooking lots of blacks and Hispanics who were smart enough to make enough money to pay off their mortgages even if they put down a tiny or nonexistent down payment and didn't quite have all their documents. (Hey, they're undocumented! Don't be prejudiced against the undocumented for not having documents proving that that they make six figures picking strawberries.)

What happened instead, of course, was that sharp pencil guys, in the name of fighting racist redlining, pushed people who weren't good with numbers and weren't good at coolly assessing the long term implications of financial decisions, people who were disproportionately blacks and Hispanics, into complicated loans that just raped them, and ended up raping the country.

This is much like the long-running debate in the middle of the last decade between Malcolm Gladwell v. Judge Richard Posner and myself. Gladwell, the herald of multi-culti capitalism, defended the ethics of car salesmen against the scoffing of Posner and myself. I think the definitive word belongs to an outstanding 2001 article in Edmunds by Chandler Phillips called Confessions of a Car Salesman, in which Edmunds car magazine hired a journalist to work at two L.A. area new car dealerships:
"My manager had, at one point, described the different races and nationalities and what they were like as customers. It would be too inflammatory to repeat what he said here. But the gist of it was that the people of such-and-such nationality were "lie downs" (people who buy without negotiating), while the people of another race were "roaches" (they had bad credit), and people from that country were "mooches" (they tried to buy the car for invoice price).  
"I'll repeat what Michael, my ASM, told me about Caucasians. He said white people never come into the dealership. 'They're all on the Internet trying to find out what our invoice price is. We never even get a shot at them. I hate it. I mean, would they go (to a mall) and say, "What's your invoice price on that beautiful suit?" No. So why are they doing it here?'"

Awhile ago, I went into a certain dealership on Van Nuys Blvd. that sells a prominent brand of Japanese cars to mostly Latino customers. 

That place struck me as an abode of evil, from the ridiculously lavish atrium lobby with huge trees indoors, to the high pressure sales tactics, which are designed to trigger Mexican males' insecurities about their machismo. Aren't they man enough to buy this absurdly overloaded car at a monthly payment that, if you do the numbers (but nobody does), turns out to include a 21% interest rate? What kind of maricon are you who can't show the salesman you can afford what he's offering? I brought my son along and, rather than walk out, we sat through an hour of unbelievably hostile sales tactics as a lesson to him. 

And that explains a lot about the motivations behind the businesses in the immigration lobby: more uneducated, innumerate, insecure Mexicans are more fresh meat for their salesmen. They can't rip off educated white people who subscribe to Consumer Reporters and use the Zag system reserved for CR subscribers, so they want to bring in millions of new people they can outsmart and cheat.

November 30, 2011

Andrew Sullivan fights the good fight

Andrew Sullivan, who published a symposium on The Bell Curve when he edited The New Republic in 1994, has bravely returned to the fray of defending Herrnstein and Murray, exciting many lowbrow denunciations from the likes of Gawker.

Yet, clearly, stunning new developments in the real world over the last 17 years have proven Herrnstein and Murray wrong. For example, there are all those countless black Silicon Valley start-up founders who have made so much money in high-tech. And, we constantly read articles in the newspaper these days about how the Test Score Gap has vanished in one school district after another, which is why the No Child Left Behind act is right on schedule to make everybody proficient within 2.5 years. 

Today, everything is completely different than when I started following social science statistics in 1972 (see here for my first letter to the editor back in 1973 when I was 14, which was on sociologist Christopher Jencks' book Inequality, a re-analysis of the data in the 1966 Coleman Report).

In 1972, it looked like the rank order of average intelligence was Oriental, Caucasian, Chicano, and black. But, in 2011, of course, we now see from endless studies and real world examples that the actual rank ordering appears to be Asian, non-Hispanic white, Latino, and African-American. So, everything has changed!

November 29, 2011

Why Clinton's book is worse than Bush's: Bill wrote it himself

At the VDARE blog, I write:
Central to contemporary Democrats' self-image is their conviction that they are more intelligent and refined than Republicans. Thus, millions of Democrats fell hard after their 2000 and 2004 Presidential defeats for an absurd hoax claiming that Blue States like Connecticut have average IQs as much as 26 points higher than Red States like Utah. 
This may help explain why Bill Clinton is insistent that he personally “wrote and rewrote” his lumpish new book, Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy. Since, as the subtitle implies, Democrats are smart, a super-successful Democrat like Bill Clinton must be a natural prose stylist in little need of a competent ghostwriter. In reality, however, Clinton’s verbiage is embarrassingly amateurish, especially when compared to George W. Bush's 2010 bestseller Decision Points. 
Clinton seems to believe that being able to extrude long sentences demonstrates intelligence. Thus, on p. 6 of Back to Work, I tripped over a sentence of 85 words. Forewarned, I began to track Clinton's XXXL-size sentences. By page 20, I had found additional leviathans of 91, 105, 110, 98, 118, and a full 200 words. On pp. 23-24, Clinton discharged a blue whale of a sentence lasting 346 words, after which I gave up looking.

Read the whole thing there.

November 28, 2011

Democrats abandon white working class

From the NYT, a lengthy explication of the high-low versus middle coalition:
The Future of the Obama Coalition 
For decades, Democrats have suffered continuous and increasingly severe losses among white voters. But preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class. 
All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment — professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists — and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic.

The obvious question is whether Republicans will, in response, do anything to motivate working class whites to go to the polls other than to promise to cut taxes on billionaires?

We know what one successful campaign that mobilizes the less intellectual white voters to get off the couch and vote looks like: George H.W. Bush in 1988: Willie Horton, the Pledge of Allegiance, and other small but evocative issues that succeeded in defining, crudely but not inaccurately, Dukakis. We also know the fear and loathing this successful effort to engage mass interest in the election inspired in media elites, who have demonized that strategy ever since. We also know what an impotent Republican strategy respectful of media taboos looks likes: John McCain in 2008.

Perhaps someday, we might even see a substantive campaign to offer positive policy solutions to benefit the broad middle of the American public.

Bill Clinton's "Back to Work"

My new VDARE column is a review of the ex-President's new book Back to Work. 

November 27, 2011

Shocking News

From the NYT comes one of those Local News articles about The Gap that are always breathlessly reported as if local disparities reflect some unique problem:
In New York, Mexicans Lag in Education 
In the past two decades, the Mexican population in New York City has grown more than fivefold, with immigrants settling across the five boroughs. Many adults have demonstrated remarkable success at finding work, filling restaurant kitchens and construction sites, and opening hundreds of businesses. 
But their children, in one crucial respect, have fared far differently. 
About 41 percent of all Mexicans between ages 16 and 19 in the city have dropped out of school, according to census data. 
No other major immigrant group has a dropout rate higher than 20 percent, and the overall rate for the city is less than 9 percent, the statistics show.

I find "9 percent" implausibly low, but, whatever.
This crisis endures at the college level.

How exactly is it a "crisis" if it "endures?" There's very little evidence that Mexican-Americans en masse consider their children's or grand-children's or great-grandchildren's relative lack of education to be a crisis. 

Much of the punditry on immigration coming out of the dominant NY-DC Axis of Obliviousness assumes that immigration from Mexico is a brand new phenomenon, so the future is wide open. Anything could happen! To New York journalists, the most plausible model would be Mexicans as not the new Jews, but at least as the new Italians. After all, their names sometimes end in vowels, so they must be pretty similar. Thus, we should be seeing tons of Mexican-American Scalias, Mondavis, Gianninis, Scorseses, Giamattis, Coppolas, and Paglias any day now.

From a Southwestern U.S. perspective, however, as amply documented by social science research, none of this looks like a crisis, a crossroads where something has to change. Instead, a relative lack of education among Mexican-Americans just looks like Situation Normal for at least four or five generations at a stretch.