Thursday, May 9, 2013

And another thing....

Why is it that people jump on Richwine when he says we should take intelligence into account and make it relatively harder for Latinos to get in the country but it's perfectly fine for people to say we should take intelligence into account and make it relatively easier for college graduates and programmers to get in the country?

Why do people jump on Richwine remorselessly and yet I actually get otherwise serious people telling me that if they can't have open borders they'd rather have the smart immigrants and nobody bats an eye????


  1. Quick reaction/response. Perhaps there's an implicit, foundational moral principle that distinguishes between appropriately rewarding persons on the one hand and inappropriately penalizing persons on the other. In the former case, the unselected are simply that, not selected. In the latter case, there is an element of unfairness, injustice, etc.

    In the case at hand, perhaps it has to do with what one is focusing on--lack of intelligence--which seems to be an inappropriate feature upon which to make explicit moral/political distinctions. If the reverse stance is taken--rewarding intelligence--perhaps the intuition is that this is a proper basis upon which to provide extra benefits/incentives (as opposed to extra harms for unintelligence).

    Now, one may object and argue that it really doesnt matter: after all, the consequences are in practice the same. What does it matter how it is described? Why should it make any difference if we call it "rewarding the intelligent" or "penalizing the unintelligent"? It works out the same either way. But I'm not so sure this objection should carry the day. It seems superficial and seems to lack depth. I think the point of view moral agents take, what they are focusing on and what they determine is important in a situation, makes a moral difference. But I leave it open...

    Perhaps this is mere illusion, cognitive bias, etc. Or maybe it's not, maybe it's getting at an important yet fine distinction. Just some thoughts.

  2. The real issue is racism. Not actual racism, but the modern definition of racism. The dictionary definition of racism is

    "The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as...

    Prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief."

    Clearly, Jason Richwine doesn't believe any such thing. He believes that low-skill immigrants have average skill levels lower than Americans (measured by IQ among other things). That's simply a statement of fact. He knows that their is a range of talents in any group and while some low-skill immigrants (and their children) thrive, on average they do not.

    However, the real issue is the "modern" definition of racism.

    "The expression of any opinion, no matter well based in facts, that reflect unfavorably on any racial or ethnic group"

    In other words, racism is daring to say or write anything that is not purely PC.

    Jason Richwine has offended the gods of PC and should be punished.

    1. re: "Clearly, Jason Richwine doesn't believe any such thing."

      Do you know this for sure? I'm not so sure one way or another. I saw one claim where he's referring to Latinos rather than immigrants, for example.

      The preoccupation with IQ itself makes me suspicious.

      I do agree some claims about migrant selection get easily conflated with other less savory claims - which was why I wrote the previous post.

    2. DK,

      As stated above, I don't know Jason Richwine personally and don't speak for him. However, a few points should be obvious. He has a PhD from Harvard. He knows what a statistical distribution is. His academic background is similar to yours. His thesis advisers were not notoriously conservative (one is a self-proclaimed socialist).

      Obviously he knows that there is a range of skills in any group. I can't comment on any specific comments without seeing them first. However, there is a wealth of data on all of these issues. For example, take a look at "Mexican Assimilation in the United States
      Edward P. Lazear". Abstract

      "By almost any measure, immigrants from Mexico have performed worse and become assimilated more slowly than immigrants from other countries. Still, Mexico is a huge country, with many high ability people who could fare very well in the United States. Why have Mexicans done so badly? The answer is primarily immigration policy. The US lets in far more immigrants from Mexico than from any other country. As a result, there are large Mexican enclaves in the US. Theory and evidence suggests that those who live in highly concentrated communities do not assimilate as quickly, have lower wages, and poorer educational attainment. The fact that Mexicans live in highly concentrated communities explains some, but not all of the difference between their performance and that of other immigrants. The rest may be a result of immigration policy, through which the bulk of Mexicans enter the US on the basis of family ties, rather than job skills."

    3. OK I haven't anywhere denied assimilation problems, have I? I don't think I have because I'm well aware of them!

  3. I sure don't speak for Jason Richwine. However, I have some knowledge of his work.

    He opposes low-skill immigration, not Latino immigration. Big difference.

    Other authors, such as Samuel Huntington have explicitly raised concerns about Latino immigration per se. See "The Hispanic Challenge" in Foreign Affairs. The summary is

    "The persistent inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages. Unlike past immigrant groups, Mexicans and other Latinos have not assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture, forming instead their own political and linguistic enclaves -- from Los Angeles to Miami -- and rejecting the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream. The United States ignores this challenge at its peril."

    Samuel Huntington was a self-described "Kerry Democrat"


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