Friday, July 10, 2009


There is a new article out in the NYT on the research of Russell Fazio, work which I mentioned late last year under the same heading as that which I have used above. Fazio studies college students who are unlucky enough to be assigned a roommate of a different race -- in the bright-eyed but now hoary hope that living with a black will make you like blacks more. The theory (generally called the "contact hypothesis") goes back to the 1940s and I summarize most of the early research on it here. As I think most readers would expect, the facts give little support to the theory. The theory is based on the view that blacks are just the same as whites, only browner -- and if you believe that you will believe anything.

Needless to say, Fazio finds what many others before him have found -- that most whites thrown together with blacks very rapidly want out. Those who do stick it out, however, seem to have more positive attitudes towards blacks at the end of the experience. In the usual logically-deprived reasoning that seems to pervade the sciences that I know something about (psychology, sociology, medicine and climate science) Fazio just assumes he knows what is the cause of that improvement. One of the first things you learn in Statistics 101 (I used to teach introductory statistics at university level) is that "correlation does not prove causation" -- but an awful lot of scientists seem not to have done a statistics course. Fazio somehow seems to think the improved attitudes observed in some students confirms his "contact hypothesis". But what does it really prove? It COULD prove that it is only when blacks "act white" that whites can live with them and that those whites who live with such blacks are relieved to find that such blacks do exist. Much more likely, however, is that the whites who stick it out are more politically correct and know what to say when Fazio questions them. Students are very good at giving their professors the answers that their professors want. That's how most of them get their degrees.

So if anyone thinks that Fazio has found anything useful towards improving race relations, all I can say is I admire your optimism but not your reasoning power. I was amused, however, by the finding that living with Asians tended to make you dislike Asians. Given Asian superiority in all sorts of academically relevant ways, I don't find that surprising at all! And it does in fact reinforce the most usual finding from "contact hypothesis" research: That getting to know other races makes you like them LESS.

I was amused also by this sentence from one of the other researchers quoted: “Just having diversity in classrooms doesn’t do anything to increase interracial friendships”. That does rather undermine the whole rationale of having "diversity" on campus, it seems to me!


The Internet's Effect on Intellectual Conservatives

Below is an excerpt from a new blog that should be fairly congenial to most readers of this blog. The blog is called OneStDv, a reference that students of IQ will understand immediately. A caution, however: Have a look at the brief glossary at the top of his side column before you read at any length in his blog. He uses some abbreviations that are customary only in his own field of discourse

In my experience, there are generally two groups of conservatives: the traditional and the intellectual. The traditional sect is typified by Bible belt, blue-collar whites who support social conservative values, religion, and a strong sense of American pride. The intellectual sort is typified by individuals like Bill Buckley, Barry Goldwater, and George Will. He's a libertarian in the social sphere, though he does support many traditional aspects of culture because, simply, they work. He champions limited government, merit-based economy, and a fortified national defense. (I classify myself as this.)

The former group came to public prominence due to Jerry Fallwell's Moral Majority coup in the early 1980's. This ascendancy did not represent a cultural shift amongst this political bloc. Rather, it reflected the already present social values entrenched in these geographic regions. Voicing politically incorrect opinions concerning black crime rate, feminism, welfare, and nationalistic pride is considered mundane amongst these voters. Yet, when one resides in suburbia, the domain of middle and upper class whites, these opinions are considered at best, improper, and at worst, abhorrent.

As a result, suburbia produces a large portion of ideological drones, individuals who assume liberal politics is the default position of the enlightened and sophisticated. Not only are they exposed to little dissent from the PC agenda, but any contrary opinions are rarely voiced due to social ostracism. Until recently, the conservative suburbanite or elite academic had no forum in which to vent his conservative opposition. He was surrounded by conforming, high intelligence liberals, espousing almost identical positions on the controversial issues.

But recently, this conservative has found a proper outlet for his frustration and his unwillingness to accept the polite doctrine. His potential intellectual and political peers no longer reside in just his geographic vicinity. The Internet, alongside endless amounts of porn and frivolous viral content, serves as a meeting place for the token, intellectual conservative unable to find common ground with his liberal acquaintances or overtly religious peers. Conservative websites and forums, especially those in my "Related Blogs" section, attract a large scope of visitors, many of whom are the product of middle-class, educated parents.



Minimum-wage folly

by Jeff Jacoby

AS IF THE RECESSION hasn't been rough enough on those near the bottom of the economic food chain, fresh bad news is on the way. Beginning July 24, the federal government will be making it more difficult for employers to hire low- and unskilled American workers. Thanks to an ill-advised law enacted with bipartisan support in 2007, the cost of providing an entry-level job to individuals with few skills or minimal experience will be going up by more than 10 percent. Those who cannot find a job paying at least $7.25 an hour will not be permitted to work.

Welcome to the latest chapter of America's minimum-wage folly.

This will mark the third time in recent years that Washington has forced up the cost of employing low-skilled workers. Last July the minimum hourly wage was increased from $5.85 to $6.55; the July before that, from $5.15 to $5.85. By the end of this month, in other words, the lowest rung on the employment ladder will be nearly 41 percent higher than it was just two years ago. Needless to say, that will put it beyond the reach of many marginal workers, leaving them without work.

Those who press for a higher minimum wage often claim that making entry-level jobs more expensive won't reduce the number of entry-level jobs. Were the government to compel a 41 percent increase in the price of gasoline or movie tickets or steel, every rational observer would expect a drop in the demand for gasoline, movie tickets, or steel. Yet when it comes to the minimum wage, politicians and journalists somehow persuade themselves that making workers more expensive won't reduce the demand for workers. Senator Edward Kennedy, for example, blithely asserts: "History clearly shows that raising the minimum wage has not had any negative impact on jobs." Activist Holly Sklar, campaigning for a $10 minimum wage, likewise insists that "raising the minimum wage does not increase unemployment in good times or bad."

But that's exactly what it does. Artificial price floors -- mandatory minimum prices set higher than what the market will bear -- generate surpluses. Minimum-wage laws are no exception. The price floor imposed by the government on the supply of low-skilled labor results in a labor surplus, which is just another way of saying higher unemployment. How much higher? Economists Joseph Sabia of American University and Richard Burkhauser of Cornell estimate that the minimum-wage hikes of the past two years will wipe out more than 390,000 jobs. According to David Neumark of the University of California at Irvine, an expert on labor force economics, the minimum-wage jump scheduled for this month "will lead to the loss of an additional 300,000 jobs among teens and young adults."

It is bad enough that Congress and the president would deliberately price so many workers out of the market. What is worse is that they claim to be helping the poor when they do so. As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama backed a minimum-wage of $9.50 an hour because, his website explained, he "believes that people who work full time should not live in poverty." But if helping the poor is the goal, making it harder for them to get that crucial first job -- the one that may not pay much at first, but that gives new workers their first foothold in the job market -- is not the way to achieve it.

Politicians cannot cure poverty by raising the cost of entry-level employment any more than they can do so by waving a magic wand. After all, if aiding the needy were as easy as setting a compulsory minimum wage, why not set it at $20 an hour -- or better yet, $120 an hour -- and really help them out?

The laws of supply and demand are not optional. They weren't enacted by Congress and Congress cannot override them. Of course a higher minimum wage may benefit some low-skilled workers. But there are innumerable others whom it harms: Those who lose their jobs or can't get hired in the first place because the higher rate is more than their labor is worth. Those whose employers compensate for the wage increase by cutting employees' hours. Those whose jobs are outsourced to a market with lower labor costs.

Minimum-wage laws don't make low- and unskilled Americans more productive, more experienced, or more desirable. They merely make them more expensive -- and more likely, as a consequence, to be unemployed.



BrookesNews Update

Is the Fed predicting economic stagnation for the US? : Unemployment is still rising, business investment is plunging, manufacturing is still contracting, construction is still shed labour as are services. Obama's economic policy is in a shambles. His solution to every economic problem is always more taxes and more government control. But what is really happening to the US economy?
Obama's economic failure lessons from the Great Depression: Obama's failure to tackle the recession is becoming more and more apparent with each passing day. His childish mantra of blaming Bush for every lousy economic statistic that emerges no longer washes with the great majority of Americans. Nevertheless, it is necessary to confront the economics myths of the Great Depression that are being used to justify has massive expansion of government
Why Obama's massive energy bill will wreck the US economy : The costs of the Obama scheme are massive and cumulative. If fully implemented they would wreck the economy and savage living standards. His policy is not a 'jobs bill' but an attack on jobs
Global warming crisis yet another flagrant con: The Waxman=Markey bill is based on outrageous lies and will be an economic disaster. If the congressional, administration and activist conspirators behind this deceit were in the private sector — peddling bogus drugs, rather than bogus science — they'd be jailed for fraud
Honduras and congressional Banana Democrats: There was a coup in Hondura, but it wasn't committed by the US or the Honduran court. It was committed by the leftwing Zelaya. He brazenly defied the law, and Hondurans overwhelmingly supported his removal (a pro-Zelaya rally Monday drew a mere 200 acolytes). Yet Obama stood with Chavez and Castro, calling Zelaya's lawful removal 'a coup'
When they are paying my salary, then I'll worry: Our society has gone, just a few short years ago from being inundated with daily stories of Michael Jackson's 'sleepovers' in his bed with very young friends to all of Hollywood speaking about the great loss that the nation is suffering because of this 'great' man?
The Obama teleprompter lies about Obamacare : These are scary times and if you're over the age of 55, be very scared. If you're chronically ill with diabetes or high blood pressure or multiple sclerosis, etc., your future won't be very bright under Obamacare where federal government and bureaucratic pencil-pushers will decide how long we should live? If we are not entirely convinced of this possibility, do we really want to find out the answer the hard way?
Demands are only growing bigger for a shrinking base of taxpayers: "Washington's champion spenders — from Obama on down — appear to suffer from a delusional psychosis about money. They believe that federal spending is a healing balm. It has magical powers. If applied often enough in large enough quantities, it will cure everything. They also seem to think the money belongs to them and not the taxpayers from whom it was extracted
I'm With Sarah Palin! : America's strength has always come from 'we the people', not 'we the politicians.' It is time for all Americans to remember that and quit relying on government and/or politicians for solutions. Just as Sarah Palin has


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


1 comment:

Robert said...

It ought to be really entertaining to watch what happens with employment under the minimum wage law when deflation gets going in earnest and becomes blatantly apparent. That $7.25/hour will become many times that in real terms. By the time deflation is done, that may be roughly what a highly-paid lawyer or other professional is paid, if not more than what top professionals are paid. A law that started out with the explicitly stated purpose "to keep blacks from taking the jobs of whites" if not repealed or seriously adjusted down during deflation will put just about everybody out of work.