Sentences to ponder

by on November 21, 2012 at 1:35 pm in Political Science | Permalink

Stunningly, the postponement of marriage and parenting — the factors that shrink the birth rate — is the very best predictor of a person’s politics in the United States, over even income and education levels, a Belgian demographer named Ron Lesthaeghe has discovered. Larger family size in America correlates to early marriage and childbirth, lower women’s employment, and opposition to gay rights — all social factors that lead voters to see red.

That is Lauren Sandler.  Here is more, hat tip to Steve Sailer (and David Brooks).  And as Robin Hanson would say, “politics isn’t about policy.”

Vernunft November 21, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Stunningly?

Only if you live in a bubble.

Matt W November 21, 2012 at 2:07 pm

And if you read to the end of the article:

“‘We’re on the verge of a dramatic shift. It will be a different conversation ten years from now,’ Lake told me, estimating that the predictive power of fertility will last until 2020, but not much longer.”

Also, Steve Sailer?

Beans November 21, 2012 at 2:36 pm

He’s selectively articulate.

MC November 21, 2012 at 2:56 pm

“Also, Steve Sailer?”

Yeah, I mean, who needs to respond to arguments when you can just point out that the person making them is doubleplusungood?

Millian November 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm

I don’t think it was arguing against the point. I think it was a query as to why one would read a theorist of racial supremacy to get the news.

MC November 21, 2012 at 4:00 pm

I think calling Steve Sailer a racial supremacist is unfair. He doesn’t preach that one race is superior, but merely that there is such a thing as “Human Biodiversity.” Meaning that races are different, not better or worse.

Alex' November 21, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Steve Sailer is most definitely a white supremacist. It’s hilarious reading his musing on basketball as he tries to reconcile his beliefs and the fact that black people are better at it.

That said, he often makes insightful and thought provoking arguments.

Petar November 21, 2012 at 8:47 pm

I do not see why anyone should care which group of people is better at basketball. It is a made-up game in which ten people try to put a ball through a ring three meters’ high. Yes, definitely more important than doing arithmetic. Or being able to function well in a technological society.

GiT November 22, 2012 at 1:31 am

Now there’s a white supremacist.

Zephyrus November 21, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I’m as liberal and hyper-PC as they come, and I think Steve Sailer is pretty much dead wrong about everything. But discourse in our country would be much improved if we talked about race the same way that he does.

His actual failing is that he strikes the same note, time after time after time.

dirk November 21, 2012 at 4:59 pm

His failing is that he makes economic arguments which actual economists don’t seem interested in addressing. If he is way off the mark, it isn’t entirely his fault since nobody seems interested in peer-reviewing his work.

For instance, I think Sailer’s most interesting argument is this: Hispanic immigration has dramatically pushed up the cost of living for middle-class whites. His theory: white families want to live in good school districts, and “good” correlates highly with “white” here. So many white families in the US live in suburbs where THE HOUSES ARE TOO BIG AND TOO EXPENSIVE. (capitalization mine.) But buying an overly expensive house is the cost of admission to a good school district, because it keeps the very poor (minorities) out.

I find the hypothesis interesting because I want to know the answer to this question: If median income has stagnated over the past 40 years but housing costs per square foot have doubled over that period, why has the median house size also doubled? Intuition would suggest that median house size should have stagnated along with stagnating incomes, particularly if the price per square foot has increased substantially.

An alternate hypothesis to Sailer’s is the old keeping up with the Jones theory. More middle class families are trying to live beyond their means more now than in the past because as inequality has increased, middle class people are trying too hard to compete with the conspicuous consumption of the rich. (Maybe husbands can only keep their wives now if they agree to buy huge houses. (Bower Bird theory)).

Another hypothesis is that values have changed for some other reason. Just as people who choose to live in New York or San Francisco are willing to pay a higher percentage of their income on housing than the rest of the country, maybe people in the suburbs of red-state America have also decided that they are willing to spend more of their income on housing than their parents did.

But Sailer’s hypothesis is compelling and I wish the economics blogosphere would address it.

mulp November 21, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Dirk

I’m a boomer (1947) who grew up when everyone believed debt was bad and my cohort believed you paid off the mortgage as fast as you could like your parents and grandparents.

I was shocked in the 90s by all my younger coworkers talking about their refis and the boat or now SUV or sports car they bought. I was shocked by the call after call I got trying to get me to refi, and when I said “I’m down to $20K, so I don’t see the point” they would tell me I could refi and get $100K in cash and buy a new car,remodel, and go globe trotting, easy.

And when I think of the hoops we had to jump through to get a credit card and our first mortgage when we put 20% down plus had the cash for closing, and had the dual income to pay a mortgage twice as large (payment was less than 20% of income), the idea of 3% down and barely enough income to get the payment down to 45% of income…

I don’t know how many times I was told that I should buy a million dollar house with 10% or even 5% down to get rich because a million dollar liability was the best investment ever. (I should live in a one bedroom apartment with garage, plus a storage unit with 3000 square feet.)

Steve Sailer November 21, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Dirk asks:

“I find the hypothesis [that immigration has made middle class basics, such as a house in a "good" school district more expensive] interesting because I want to know the answer to this question: If median income has stagnated over the past 40 years but housing costs per square foot have doubled over that period, why has the median house size also doubled?

Here’s my review of Senator-Elect Elizabeth Warren’s 2003 book “The Two Income Trap:”

http://www.vdare.com/articles/bad-schools-immigration-and-the-great-middle-class-massacre

And, here’s my 2008 short story “Unreal Estate” from The American Conservative about what it was like to be an exurbanite during the Housing Bubble:

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2010/03/unreal-estate.html

dirk November 21, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Steve,

Imagine if public schools were arranged as follows: One school in a district is designated “the top school”. It has tough entrance exams and interviews just as top private schools do. Then there are 2nd tier schools and 3rd tier schools, which are easier to get into. Each school, which receives the same budget, has a board elected by the parents of the students which hires and fires the principal and teachers. The board evaluates the teachers and principal however it wants. It can pay each individual teacher whatever it wants, budget permitting. The schools can also raise money from private donations.

This system would solve the problem of sorting good students with other good students while decoupling the issue from housing location, which, of course, is key. It would be far superior to a voucher system because it would be entrance-test based. The issue of Hispanic immigration hurting middle class families would disappear, at least according to your calculus.

I realize that such a system wouldn’t be politically possible these days, but since political correctness isn’t exactly your bag, why not push for such a system simply because it would be the best one to have?

Moreover, your anti-immigration stance can’t reverse anything. Stopping all Hispanic immigration tomorrow isn’t going to make anyone’s living expenses go down from here. But reforming the public school system as I suggest could.

Peter Schaeffer November 22, 2012 at 12:37 am

dirk,

From Megan McArdle

“I first encountered Elizabeth Warren in the early part of the decade, when I read her book, The Two Income Trap. The thesis is innovative and, I think, at least partly correct: that in many ways, two income families have made households less financially stable, not more so. Among higher income families, much of the extra income has simply been poured into a bidding war with other higher income families for homes in good school districts. Among lower income families, much of the extra income has gone to replacing home production with market production: convenience meals, work clothes, second cars, child care, and so forth.”

Steve Sailer November 22, 2012 at 1:25 am

Dear Dirk:

There are a number of ways to organize public schools better, and there are a lot of smart, motivated parents out there trying. So, I have hopes.

One interesting strategy is practiced by the Chinese in Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley: pick out a small school district, move in, take over, and then transform the schools to meet the needs of their children. For example, Arcadia was a nice but nothing special suburb east of Pasadena when my cousins were growing up there, but over the last generation, a lot of rich Chinese have moved in and now dominate school policy. Arcadia high school now has several dozen National Merit Scholars per year.

This has advantages for parents over the multilevel meritocratic school system you suggest, such as your kids all go to the same school, even your dumber kids, and the drive isn’t long. But different methods will appeal to different people.

dirk November 22, 2012 at 2:22 am

Steve,

I don’t believe “the drive would be long” argument has any weight. The public school system would overtake the private school system if middle class parents could send their children to good schools without paying private school tuition. I live in Houston, where all the white families inside the loop send their kids to private schools. The private school system is basically the system I describe. It works, but only for those who can afford it. The rest move to the suburbs and pay the school district luxury tax on their homes.

There are enough private schools inside the loop in Houston that usually the drive isn’t too long. The same would hold for public schools if whites opted into the system.

Also, you are the expert at observing that if one child is smart usually the other children are, so don’t play dumb here. Anyway, the system wouldn’t have to be a pure meritocracy. There could be prejudice in favor of siblings, for instance. My point is that every school should have it’s own board and they should be able to choose whatever admission standards they want.

Your Chinese community scheme doesn’t seem to attack the real estate bidding war problem at all, except that there are only so many Chinese, at least in California.

Let’s keep focused on the subject at hand. The subject is: Why high home prices? My scheme addresses the real estate bidding war problem. Better public schools are a mere side effect.

Your focus on immigration seems to be a function if the fact you have given up on real public school system reform. Why not cut to the heart of the matter?

What I envision is public primary and secondary schools being a lot more like public colleges. Public schools could get hefty donations from alumni, for instance. People in the community could give a crap about their local high schools with the same passion they give a crap about their college alma maters. Again, this would just be a side effect of saving money on the school district luxury tax.

Steve Sailer November 22, 2012 at 4:20 am

Dirk:

I think your idea for organizing the Houston public schools is pretty good, but keep in mind that New York City already has a system rather like that, with Stuyvesant at the top and seven more exam high schools below that, and the Obama Administration is currently suing NYC over not enough Hispanics or blacks passing the test to get into the exam schools:

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2012/11/asians-get-their-reward-from-obama.html

Floccina November 22, 2012 at 2:31 pm

It has been tested and bad students do bad in good schools and good students do well in bad schools. So that problem is not so hard to solve. Better supervision to keep the kids from fighting and intimidating one another in and out of school.

Urso November 21, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Note that the quoted language in your post is from a Democratic strategist, not from the author of the paper. I would take it with a grain of salt.

albatross November 21, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Dirk:

I’m not Steve, but one problem with that scheme is that it means that my kids get a nice school if they’re smart and work hard. Which is great, but of course, I want my kids to have a good school even if they’ve regressed closer to the mean than I would like, and are lazy to boot. And so does everyone else.

Now, “good” partly is about academics, partly about safety, and partly about fit–I don’t want my kids getting beaten up or shunned any more than I want them bored in their school’s version of bonehead math.

dirk November 21, 2012 at 11:15 pm

The median school would fare much better under such a scheme, because how much the parents care is a key ingredient here. Even the worst school would likely perform better than now. The metric here is: would public schools in bad districts be better than they are now? Yes, they would.

I do wish an economist like TC would critique the idea, though.

dirk November 21, 2012 at 11:52 pm

Also, my scheme has nothing to do with whether the kids work hard or not. Kids spend way too much time doing homework these days. They just have to pass the entrance exam bar.

Don’t underrate the median student, either. The biggest problem with public schools are bad apples who ruin it for everyone. The bad apples have trouble passing a pretty low bar. I’m sure your kids would be able to get into a decent school, lazy or not, under my evil scheme. I mean, scheme.

Rich Berger November 21, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Politics isn’t about policy? As recently demonstrated, it is about fear and loathing. And low-information voters.

dead serious November 21, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I feel you. You mean poor red staters voting against their economic interests, yes?

Rich Berger November 21, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Hats off to the Obama campaign. They took H.L. Mencken’s observation that “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” and applied it to presidential politics.

GiT November 21, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Yes, Romney really was counting on the intelligence of the American public…

Dan W. November 21, 2012 at 3:34 pm

“There is something poignant about this, given the political bleakness of the day, but it’s an indulgence the American left cannot afford.” – Ellen Willis

dirk November 21, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Politics seemed to be about policy in the 19th century. What has changed? Or are all the historians wrong?

Daniel Dostal November 21, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Not so much that the historians are wrong, just that they frame it as history, which seems more about policy. For instance, cracking the surface of metal backed currencies makes it clear to me that it had nothing to do with sound monetary policy.

DocMerlin November 21, 2012 at 9:51 pm

bingo.

Jerry O November 21, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Steve Sailer? Really? What’s next LaRouche? John Birch? Stormfront?

go November 21, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Hey, there’s lots of reasons to dislike Sailer. For me, it’s mainly for not having the courage to ever say what he actually thinks should be done in response to all of his “innocent observations” or “hate-truths” or whatever it is that the HBD-o-sphere is calling their tenets these days.

But in this case, Sailer really did point out the correlation between marriage and mating behaviour and voting patterns before everyone else. This should be acknowledged.

MC November 21, 2012 at 2:57 pm

“For me, it’s mainly for not having the courage to ever say what he actually thinks should be done in response to all of his “innocent observations” or “hate-truths” or whatever it is that the HBD-o-sphere is calling their tenets these days.”

???????

You obviously don’t read him enough to realize that he often suggests such policies. Principal among them, shutting off immigration.

go November 21, 2012 at 3:10 pm

MC: Right, fair enough. I didn’t give him credit for making some prescriptions.

I guess it’s just, correct me if I’m wrong, but the whole HBD thesis is that things like affirmative action, minority housing loans, third-world immigration to the United States, aid to Africa, etc. are not only failing today, but they can never succeed because of genetic IQ and time-preference differences in racial groups (the whole “human biodiversity” thing). So these policies should be ended forthwith.

But you can ask the obvious next question, which is, okay then what happens to the third world countries? What happens to the black underclass in the United States? And are we okay with that?

This is where you get nothing but a yawning silence from the Sailerites. Or they say something like “first, let’s accept that the genetic differences between racial groups are real. THEN we can talk about what that means”.

Ranjit Suresh November 21, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Your reply implies that we can rule out widespread modification of human populations whether through biotechnology or eugenics. As long as you’re willing to countenance guiding human evolution, there certainly are ways of addressing the problems characteristic of groups with low average cognitive function other than casting them to the outer darkness.

Dr. Heckle and Mr. Jive November 21, 2012 at 3:27 pm

“So these policies should be ended forthwith.”

They should also be ended because they are grossly unfair to the designated non-recipients of these putative field leveling programs.

“But you can ask the obvious next question, which is, okay then what happens to the third world countries?”

They keep on keepin’ on.

“What happens to the black underclass in the United States?”

What happens. or what *should* happen? They are two different questions. To the latter, I say, the psycholoigcal need you have to fill due to your refined pathological altruism is not my moral crisis. To the former, I say, fewer blacks get jobs or positions or academic opportunities for which they are ill-suited and likely to perform at less than competently. But perhaps, with this new knowledge of innate, inherited human limitations, public policy would dramatically shift in favor of closing the borders to millions of low-skilled migrants who compete with blacks for jobs.

“And are we okay with that?”

Okay’s got nothin’ to do with it.

“This is where you get nothing but a yawning silence from the Sailerites.”

Bullshit. You obviously don’t see what you don’t want to see.

“Or they say something like “first, let’s accept that the genetic differences between racial groups are real. THEN we can talk about what that means”.”

What good is pushing concrete policy proposals on a ruling class that is so steeped in a froth of lies they wouldn’t be able to grasp the least bit of relevance of those proposals? Or, rather, they wouldn’t be able to grasp the relevance without pointing and sputtering and crying RACISSS all the way home to their gated communities and gated minds.

sfer November 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm
Cliff November 21, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Actually, he wants to recognize and then address the IQ problem head on, taking all possible measures to increase IQ.

Steve Sailer November 21, 2012 at 5:35 pm

The notion that I’ve been engaged in a “yawning silence” over the last two decades is a curious one indeed. For example, here is my five-part series in 2000 on “How to Help the Left Half of the Bell Curve:”

http://www.isteve.com/How_to_Help_the_Left_Half_of_the_Bell_Curve.htm

go November 21, 2012 at 6:07 pm

To be fair, Steve, only the last part of your “five-part series” actually suggests what should be done. And even fully implemented, you’re still going to be left with a black underclass. It would just be one that would be told it will always be an underclass, and that it should not try to be anything but. (I mean, these words wouldn’t be used, but that would be the message.)

I for one am not okay with that. And this is where you are silent – what do you expect would be the outcome of your suggested steps? In other words, how bad would things still be? I know that some of your followers just want to bring back segregation (essentially) so that white people don’t need to worry about that. Like the commenter “Dr. Heckle and Mr. Jive” here, who says about the third world that “They [can] keep on keepin’ on.”, as in, the first world should just not care what happens to them.

I guess that your response is probably something like “But all of these bad outcomes are inevitable, because of racial differences in IQ and time preference. It’s just that today, we’re all too scared to admit it, so we don’t take any steps to make the best of a bad situation. I want us to admit the truth, and do what we can to lessen the impacts.”

To which I would say, 1) The obvious objection is that a message can become reality. Telling someone that they are unlikely to be a great success due to the genetic deck being stacked against them, can very well make them try less hard from the beginning.

And 2) Do we not belong to one humanity? Maybe this is a fundamental philosophical difference between you and me. We’re working with different axioms. Are we supposed to feel loyalty to our own race more than others?

Steve Sailer November 21, 2012 at 6:27 pm

GO writes:

“To be fair, Steve, only the last part of your “five-part series” actually suggests what should be done. And even fully implemented, you’re still going to be left with a black underclass.”

The black underclass are my fellow American citizens. I have frequently articulated a philosophy of citizenism that says that American policies should be biased in favor of American citizens, most definitely including black underclass citizens:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/americans-first/

The best thing for the black underclass would be a tight labor market that would boost wages, making a life of work more attractive than a life of welfare or crime. The most obvious step toward having a tight labor market with high wages at the low end is through immigration restriction.

nix November 21, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Wasn’t the tight labor market that occured after the Black Death what ended Feudalism? Why isn’t that example ever employed as a case for a tighter labor market?

Peter Schaeffer November 22, 2012 at 12:48 am

go,

I won’t pretend to speak for anyone other than myself. However, your question

“But you can ask the obvious next question, which is, okay then what happens to the third world countries? What happens to the black underclass in the United States? And are we okay with that?”

has plenty of answers. Third-world countries can take responsibility for their own affairs (they insist on self-government). Some will thrive. Some will not. Most will muddle through exporting services (tourism, guest workers, etc.), low-tech goods, and raw materials to other richer nations. Mexico and Egypt come to mind as examples. In any case, it’s not our problem.

As for America’s own poor people, immigration restriction is obviously the first step. America has a vast surplus of unskilled labor. We are producing more at a prodigious rate. Imports are absurd. Beyond that vocational training comes to mind. Well paid blue-collar jobs beat food stamps any day. Eliminating the trade deficit would create millions of decent jobs for people who don’t have Ph.D.s.

What should be clear is the libertarian economics are a dead end. Combining Open Borders, “free” trade, and handouts (with ever higher taxes to pay for them) is a formula for national decline. If you doubt this, check out the sorry record of the United States over the last 20 years.

Peter Schaeffer November 22, 2012 at 1:37 am

nix

“Wasn’t the tight labor market that occured after the Black Death what ended Feudalism? Why isn’t that example ever employed as a case for a tighter labor market?”

Actually people use the Black Death as example of higher wages via fewer workers all the time. Type “black death real wages” into Google and you will see what I mean.

However, typing “goldin immigration wages” into Google will turn up papers more relevant to our era.

Dr. Heckle and Mr. Jive November 21, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Someone else was on top of this, too.

go November 21, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Yeah, there does seem to be massive intellectual overlap between the HBD-o-sphere and the Game-o-sphere.

I find it interesting that you see a lot of the same users commenting on Heartiste and Sailer’s blogs. It could be because many of the ideas are similar, or that they like blogs that “kill pretty lies” or “tell uncomfortable truths” or whatever. Or it could just be that a certain breed of anti-social, over-Internetted white male is attracted to both of these because they tell him “Your failures are not your own fault – they’re the fault of the system unfairly favoring blacks and women.” And do so in a sort of let’s-get-pissed-off way and provide a community to talk to.

Millian November 21, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Contrarian, white male theories of supremacy over people who aren’t white males. So it’s no surprise that libertarians get entangled in these reading lists, too.

celestus November 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Ayn Rand too on the “your failures are not your own fault”, right? It’s been a while, but isn’t Howard Roark poor because he’s actually so talented that the masses don’t appreciate his work?

Of course the left doesn’t exactly believe that it’s a woman’s fault that she’s a single mother or a member of a minority group’s fault that he/she’s a drug addict either…

dirk November 21, 2012 at 5:22 pm

“I find it interesting that you see a lot of the same users commenting on Heartiste and Sailer’s blogs.”

A lot of those same people comment here, too.

MC November 21, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Tyler Cowen is intellectually secure enough to not have to preen by condemning all the right people.

Millian November 21, 2012 at 3:50 pm

This is only a courageous, praiseworthy point if racial supremacism is not in fact worthy of condemnation.

Brian Donohue November 21, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Sailer’s argument in this instance can be easily understood without donning the mantle of white supremacy.

Arguments stand or fall on their merits- Tyler understands this.

The Anti-Gnostic November 21, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Every racial/sub-racial group I’ve encountered regard themselves as bringing something unique and valuable to the human table and therefore worthy of genetic and cultural preservation. I guess you just sit in your house and stew every time you hear about all those Irish celebrating St. Patrick’s day, Scots at the Highland Games, Jews at their mitzvahs, Greek Orthodox parish festivals, Han celebrating the Chinese New Year, etc.

The Left doesn’t really understand human diversity. In fact, they loathe it.

Petar November 21, 2012 at 8:24 pm

What about stop trying to frame your opponents using a moral framework that they do not care about ( and that is obviously false as we live in a morally nihilistic universe).
Accidentally, commenters in Stormfront are probably more enlightened on how people should guide their conduct if they believe in evolution and care for their posterity than commenters here.

derek November 21, 2012 at 2:40 pm

So modern leftism is an mutation that will die off in a couple of generations. Isn’t that what happened to the Soviet union with low birth rates and very high rates of abortion?

Why is it that the bible thumping ill educated grasp the essence of Darwinism better than the enlightened class?

celestus November 21, 2012 at 2:53 pm

“So modern leftism is an mutation that will die off in a couple of generations.” Partly true. Seems like Hispanics have high birth rates and while not “leftist” certainly support many liberal policies.

Also, correct me if I’m wrong but don’t libertarians postpone marriage and parenting at least as long as liberals do? Surely that doesn’t mean modern libertarianism will die off.

GiT November 21, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Er, the last half of the article suggests that the predictive power of fertility is breaking down. Correlation, not causation, I’m sure you know the drill.

MC November 21, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Only because Hispanics vote democratic and are increasing in numbers. Among whites, the correlation of conservatism and fecundity is going nowhere.

Steve Sailer November 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm

There remain a strong correlation between the white total fertility rate and the % voting Republican in each state, although the correlation is even higher for “years married” between percent of younger white women (18-44) married and a state voting Republican.

As the nonwhite % of the vote increases, these spectacular correlations (as high as r = 0.9) seen in 2000-2004, will decrease, but they remain central to understanding voting behavior.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/value-voters/

mulp November 21, 2012 at 6:07 pm

It isn’t so much Democrats naturally reflect Hispanic values, but that Republicans see “brown” and think “illegal”

I don’t carry immigration papers because I was born here like tens of millions of brown people, but because I’m white, no Arizona sheriff will ask for my immigration papers even though I talk funny, coming from the Northeast. But a Puerto Rican from the same region will likely be asked. Even though fully US citizens, they carried the free PR ID that reflects their dual status as proof of US citizenship. That ID was easily forged and became the standard ID for brown people, until a new ID was forced by Federal agencies on the PR government which is issuing new one to every PR citizen.

Within PR, they vote Republican, but when living in a State, they tend to vote Democrat because they believe Republicans see them as illegals.

MC November 21, 2012 at 6:39 pm

“It isn’t so much Democrats naturally reflect Hispanic values, but that Republicans see “brown” and think ‘illegal’”

Or that foreigners from poorer countries see the U.S. welfare state and think “$$$$$$$”

maguro November 21, 2012 at 6:46 pm

There’s a ton of polling data out there that says you’re wrong. Hispanics vote Dem because they like liberal policies, not because the meanie Republicans hurt their feewings. That’s why it’s stupid for Reps to support amnesty – Hispanics will still like liberal policies, the only difference is that there’ll be a lot more of them voting.

Bender Bending Rodriguez November 21, 2012 at 9:36 pm

The “immigration papers” your hypothetical Arizona sheriff is asking for is your driver’s license: That’s it. Long before SB1070, precedent was established that the police can ask you for identification and detain you until it’s provided regardless of what originally attracted their attention.

If you really want to be persuasive, instead of invoking a Godwinesque “papers please” argument, provide stats on the increase in DWB stops or the number of wrongful detainment lawsuits filed against the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

Cliff November 21, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Bender,

That’s definitely not true. Like most criminal law, it is a state matter that varies substantially. In many states, there is no right to detain for lack of a driver’s license.

Peter Schaeffer November 22, 2012 at 1:01 am

mulp,

Puerto Ricans have been voting Democratic (80+%) for decades. It has nothing to do with immigration (a relatively new issue). Remember the ancient joke about Jews?

“Jews live like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans”

The quip may date from the June 1973 issue of Commentary magazine. See http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/jews_earn_like_episcopalians_and_vote_like_puerto_ricans/.

RmDeep November 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Brooks:

Why is this happening? The report offers many explanations. People are less religious.

Uh, you could put it that way. Or, as I would put it, more people are realizing that there is no eternal punishment or reward awaiting them for how the behave on Earth. These few decades are all any of us have, and perhaps it’s better to take advantage of them (while still being a good person, of course) than to follow some arbitrary set of rules about when and with whom you can have sex, in order to reap some reward (or avoid punishment) in the afterlife. Sorry, people that want to impose religious rules on everyone else, we don’t need you anymore.

My view is that the age of possibility is based on a misconception. People are not better off when they are given maximum personal freedom to do what they want. They’re better off when they are enshrouded in commitments that transcend personal choice — commitments to family, God, craft and country.

This is terrifying. How about you stay the hell out of my life, David Brooks, and I’ll stay out of yours. Life was really unpleasant for a lot of people under the old system.

I read this as a comment on some religious blog about same-sex marriage and it’s appropriate for David Brooks (and all the other social conservatives that want to keep controlling behavior).

You’re going to lose. People around the world are going to continue to reject your religious strictures on what is acceptable behaviour. And the best part is, you’re not even going to have the satisfaction of seeing the world go down in flames because of it, and getting to say “I told you so”. Because we’re going to be just fine, and people are going to be happy and successful without your bullshit. Your worldview is (literally) dying, and it’s becoming clear that we never needed it in the first place. Bye!

mrmandias November 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm

The best evidence is that childlessness leads to a decline in religious belief, not the other way around.

Engineer November 21, 2012 at 5:15 pm

People who have drifted away from religion tend to move back toward it after they have children.

Brian November 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm

The above David Brooks quotes have been cherry picked, and are not part of the context he was writing in. I think almost anyone who has read or followed David Brooks would tell you that he is very socially liberal. He supports gay marriage. In addition, though, i think he would insist on it. If two people love each other, they should get married and support one another. The point of his above comment from a recent column is that commitments to people – whomever that might be – are an important part of human beings actually being happy and fulfilled. Of course, he is pretty libertarian, and would support one’s freedom to not want or have to be in commitments, but this isn’t what is going to bring happiness.

mike November 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm

“These few decades are all any of us have, and perhaps it’s better to take advantage of them (while still being a good person, of course)”

Of course, when you add the unspecified qualification of ‘being a good person’, you’re basically engaging in the exact same behavior prescription as those you condemn. So this is basically an empty statement, except to the extent that it (conveniently) gives the authority to prescribe behavior to the current elite rather than to inherited wisdom.

“How about you stay the hell out of my life, David Brooks, and I’ll stay out of yours”

You favor a massive reduction in all types of laws and taxation, then?

“we’re going to be just fine, and people are going to be happy and successful without your bullshit”

This is obviously an assumption or at best a ridiculously overconfident prediction, and it is being proven false by a mounting body of evidence.

Reliance on self-refuting arguments is generally a sign of a poor thinker.

Engineer November 21, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Brooks didn’t say that he wants to make you do anything. He said he thinks that people are better off when they have familial and communal commitments.

But you say “this is terrifying”. Try reading the paragraph again.

Steve Sailer November 21, 2012 at 5:19 pm

To show where David Brooks is coming from in his recent column that upset Ms. Sandler, here is Brooks’ 2004 NYT column about my analysis of the “Baby Gap” in 2004 voting in The American Conservative:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/07/opinion/07brooks.html

Petar November 21, 2012 at 8:29 pm

“You’re going to lose. People around the world are going to continue to reject your religious strictures on what is acceptable behaviour. And the best part is, you’re not even going to have the satisfaction of seeing the world go down in flames because of it, and getting to say “I told you so”. Because we’re going to be just fine, and people are going to be happy and successful without your bullshit. Your worldview is (literally) dying, and it’s becoming clear that we never needed it in the first place. Bye!”

Now, of course, this person obviously has not read “The Poverty of Historicism” by Popper and thinks progressivism is something like modern Manisfest Destiny. Unfortunately for him, findings about the reality of gene differences, the way peope are tribal in their social conduct, the massive rise of identity politics (yes, even above the ridiculous level today) with the shift away from work of larger and larger populations and (and I really cannot emphasize this enough) genetically modified viruses that are activated by you having a certain combination of genes are likely to prove him dead wrong. And, yes, there is nothing certain in the previous sentance as in any prognosis about the future.

The Anti-Gnostic November 21, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Society intervenes in personal choices all the time. We don’t stay the hell out of the lives of pedophiles or people who torture animals, for example. Welfare recipients, students, soldiers, addicts, parolees, etc. have batteries of public employees scrutinizing their lives.

High-g commenters on an economics blog have very little understanding of the mental processes of people with sub-100 IQs or impulses that deviate from longstanding norms. Large swathes of the population simply cannot function without bright line rules and penalties for misbehavior, and left unchecked, their personal choices will wreck the larger society.. For example, our 40-year experiment in allowing all manner of sexual practices means we now have to deal with super-strains of STD’s and AIDS.

I’m not arguing for church ladies determining what movies we can watch, but I don’t see how a civil order can be maintained if everybody gets to do whatever they want.

One interesting contrast that nobody but Charles Murray and a few others seem to comment on is that the personal lives of the elite are often downright Puritanical, even as they espouse tolerance for all sorts of alternative lifestyles. And for libertine elites, elites, wealth can smooth out a lot of bad choices. When you live in a trailer park or Section 8 ghetto, the same choices don’t turn out so well.

Ricardo November 22, 2012 at 4:15 am

“One interesting contrast that nobody but Charles Murray and a few others seem to comment on is that the personal lives of the elite are often downright Puritanical”

This conclusion rests on a very selective definition of “Puritanical.” Upper-class and elite Americans don’t abuse hard drugs, don’t have children out of wedlock and may lose their virginity after age 18 but these are still people who drink, have a fair amount of unmarried sex in their 20s and may even use marijuana occasionally in their college years. By age 35, maybe these same people start to look more like Puritans but if you look at the person’s whole life cycle, I don’t think Murray’s claim holds up. The difference between upper-class and lower-class Americans is that those in the upper classes choose their vices more carefully in their younger years to avoid ruining their lives — they use condoms and birth control, stay away from crystal meth or crack, and generally have fun within legal limits.

Brian Donohue November 22, 2012 at 9:27 am

I ain’t religious at all, and I find you and your vision far more terrifying than anything I’ve heard from David Brooks.

The war you imagine to be waging with Brooks is long over. The depressing aftermath of the implementation of your new world vision is already becoming apparent.

Happy Thanksgiving!

AC November 22, 2012 at 9:42 am

Well, you’ve certainly perfect the art of “argument by flat assertion.”

John Thacker November 21, 2012 at 3:26 pm

A second level (or is it first?) variable that becomes correlated as well– the average price of housing (especially in terms of income), and then as a third (or second or first?) level variable, restrictions on housing supply and planning.

Most people still claim that they want to start a family, but in some places it’s less affordable to do so. The places where it’s less affordable to do so, people end up having more leftist policies on a variety of fronts.

Teasing out the causation here is quite tricky.

DocMerlin November 21, 2012 at 3:36 pm

So, if a state wants to “win,” electorally, come census time, it needs to reduce governmental barriers to building and home construction?

mulp November 21, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Become more welfare friendly to attract women on welfare who had her first of 5 kids at 16 and then her children have kids starting at 15 who also get welfare.

DocMerlin November 21, 2012 at 9:55 pm

The welfare friendly states are shedding population.

Chuck Ross November 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Same pattern from southern Europe up to northern Europe. Relatively high religiosity to relatively low. High fecundity/large families up to low fecundity/small or nonexistent families.

The northerners have figured out ways other than religion to free themselves from those social hindrances.

Ranjit Suresh November 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm

The problem is, by and large, if you isolate native white Europeans you’re comparing just below replacement to far below replacement fertility levels. Sorry – neither northern nor southern Europe has the demographic characteristics of a rising civilization.

Beans November 21, 2012 at 6:21 pm

You bring up biotechnology as a means of increasing IQs, but overlook life extension when it may serve to delay or indefinitely postpone the population crisis you seem to observe.

Should you be advocating for the carte blanche use of these technologies rather than promoting their selective employment with all the cultural and social hurdles implied.

Saturos November 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Nate Silver not looking so valuable all of a sudden…

This is music to Krugman’s ears, of course.

Saturos November 21, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Hawaii seems an exceptionally fertile Blue state, though.

Steve Sailer November 21, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Professor Ron Lesthaeghe has graciously conceded that my analyses of the remarkable correlations between voting by state and fertility, but especially fertility among whites and rates of being married among younger whites preceded his by a year or more:

http://www.vdare.com/articles/the-return-of-patriarchy

Steve Sailer November 21, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Here’s a very brief 2005 summary of my theory of why Republicans do better in states the more affordable family formation is:

http://www.vdare.com/posts/affordable-family-formation-the-neglected-key-to-gops-future

dirk November 21, 2012 at 6:04 pm

It still doesn’t explain what actual Republican policies are better for affordable family formation. It sounds more like identity politics where conservatives magically think that conservative politicians are going to somehow be good for families just because they say they are going to be.

For instance, Texas. Texas is good for family formation because of geography, not Republican policy. When Ann Richards ran the state it was just as family friendly as it is now.

Steve Sailer November 21, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Dirk points out:

“It still doesn’t explain what actual Republican policies are better for affordable family formation.”

Quite true. The GOP Brain Trust has paid little attention to what actually influences voting. For example, all autumn we heard over and over about the vast Gender Gap in voting, but almost never heard about the much larger Marriage Gap. I’ve got lots of graphs of the 2012 results here:

http://www.vdare.com/articles/the-gop-s-other-problem-marriage-gap-huge-in-2012-but-marriage-declining

The Marriage Gap is even significantly larger than the Homeownership Gap. You may recall that Rove and Bush tried to convert minorities and poorer whites to voting Republican by signaling to the mortgage industry at the 2002 White House Conference on Increasing Minority Homeownership that federal regulators would wink at lower credit standards (such as zero downpayment mortgages) in the name of boosting minority homeownership. The goal was to turn minorities, especially Hispanics into homeowners and thus into Republicans. This wasn’t a completely unreasonable plan, but it turned out disastrously.

The resulting Housing Bubble probably did help Bush get a few extra points of the Hispanic vote in 2004, but had unfortunate consequences for Republicans, the country, and the global economy in 2008.

dirk November 21, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Other than immigration, of course. I acknowledged your theory on that above. But not everyone buys into that theory. I know plenty of Republicans in Texas who are pro-immigration because they believe it makes the cost of living CHEAPER here, since Mexicans build all the new houses and work in the restaurants. You can’t assume that Republicans are actually anti-immigration when their actions seem to prove otherwise.

Steve Sailer November 21, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Lots of white Republicans benefit from illegal immigration in lots of ways. The higher up the social and economic scale you are, the more you notice how you personally benefit (cheap servants, more consumers for your company’s products, cheaper strawberry pickers for your landholdings) and the less you have to worry about (e.g., lawyers, journalists, and of course politicians are more shielded from immigrant competition than roofers, but lawyers, journalists, and politicians are a lot more influential in American life.) Similarly, if your family always sends its scions to St. Grottlesex Prep, the fact that the public schools are bogging down with the children of illegal immigrants is of little personal concern.

But, how is immigration working out for the Republican Party in the long run?

For the Bush Dynasty, it’s working out quite well: the half-Mexican George P. Bush (Jeb’s son) is right now plotting his first run for office in Texas.

For other Republicans, however …

Rahul November 23, 2012 at 6:19 am

Are you against all immigration or some sorts of immigration and certain kinds of immigrants? What about the rich Chinese parents of Arcadia you described in another comment?

Floccina November 21, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Stunningly, the postponement of marriage and parenting — the factors that shrink the birth rate — is the very best predictor of a person’s politics in the United States

Not better than race. Not even close.

GiT November 21, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Race doesn’t predict white voters in the least outside of the South.

Steve Sailer November 21, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Race is a huge deal.

But, the relevant question for the GOP is mostly how to get more of the white vote, so it’s crucial to understand what influences it.

Turkey Vulture November 21, 2012 at 5:36 pm

What does early marriage but the postponement of child-bearing correlate with?

My parents married at 22/19, and had their first child at 31/28.

My wife and I married at 21, and a first child is most likely around 29 or 30.

TELL ME WHAT THIS MEANS I AM.

The Anti-Gnostic November 21, 2012 at 7:23 pm

A DEVIATION FROM THE MEAN!

Turkey Vulture November 21, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Like an extra-special snowflake?

mulp November 21, 2012 at 5:44 pm

So, the heritage of welfare moms that Reagan attacked for having kids just to get more welfare, and that conservatives have attacked ever since, are naturally Republican voters???

The Anti-Gnostic November 21, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Polyandrous mothers using the State to subsidize their lifestyle choices is not conservative. In fact, it’s probably the single most socially destructive policy ever effected, but that’s another topic. Welfare state policies reward r-selection and penalize K-selection. Non-elite Republican voters cling to the hope that the Grand Old Pansies are actually interested in encouraging K-selection among the non-elite classes. What I concluded over 20 years ago is that the GOP is not. And the Democrats are sure as hell not.

Roland Martinez November 21, 2012 at 6:17 pm

This makes the political polarization of the dating market look rational.

Jack November 21, 2012 at 7:30 pm

*Fail* This is just simple reverse causality, endogeneity for the geeks out there. Your background and worldview determine both your politics and your life decisions, including when to have kids and how many (and the implied human capital decision).

Dog bites man story. I don’t get why Prof. Cowen reports this.

DocMerlin November 21, 2012 at 9:59 pm

” Your background and worldview determine both your politics and your life decisions, including when to have kids and how many (and the implied human capital decision).”

THIS. Worldview isn’t everything. Its the only thing.

Steve Sailer November 22, 2012 at 1:06 am

Your view of the world will tend to look different from, say, San Francisco or from the Dallas suburbs. A major predictor of how a state votes in Presidential elections is whether its metropolises’s suburban expansion is hemmed in by deep water (California, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, etc.) or are inland (Texas, Arizona, Georgia, etc.) and thus can expand almost 360 degrees. Places where suburbs can’t expand into ocean or Great Lakes tend to have higher housing prices and lower rates of marriage and legitimate fertility among whites, and thus vote Democratic more.

http://www.isteve.com/2005_Dirt_Gap.htm

Ricardo November 21, 2012 at 10:07 pm

The comments section here used to have a reputation as one of the best on the internet several years ago. Now it gets bogged down in a Two Minutes Hate whenever Cowen so much as mentions the name of a polarizing figure like Krugman or Sailer. Some people need to grow up and learn to step outside the ideological bubble every once in a while. If Sailer is wrong on this — and I’m pretty sure the evidence backs him up on this point — someone ought to be able to bring contrary facts to the table and hold off on the personal attacks.

DocMerlin November 21, 2012 at 10:13 pm

@Steve:
If you haven’t already, check out the class of pharmaceuticals known as racetams. They have been shown to cause long term improvements in IQ.

albatross November 21, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Jack:

That sounds plausible, but do you have any evidence? It seems equally plausible to me that, say, a childless couple living in an apartment in the city just face a very different set of issues than a married couple with kids living in a suburb, and vote accordingly. Is there some evidence somewhere that untangles this?

Steve Sailer November 22, 2012 at 1:13 am

I’ve put a fair amount of effort into trying to figure out the arrow of causality, but I don’t see anything decisive, probably because location influences worldview and worldview influences location roughly equally.

It would be fun to do an identical-twin-separated-at-graduation study: two twins get out of college and one gets a job offer in Dallas and the other in San Francisco. Two decades later, which one is more likely to be married, have children, own a house with a yard, and vote Republican?

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2009/04/red-state-blue-state-rich-state-poor.html

Engineer November 22, 2012 at 8:58 am

The population density of these cities affects the urban culture, which again affects lifestyle choices.

In your example, the twin who went to SF (or let;s say Manhattan) would live in a “vibrant” urban culture, enjoy restaurants, music, theater etc. and likely not see any need to settle down with a particular woman as there are so many available.

Dallas – for various reasons including being more spread out – would not offer the same range of choices. A 28 yr old is likely to see family life as more appealing in that kind of context.

Steve Sailer November 22, 2012 at 4:49 pm

And, traditional white picket fence family life is more affordable in the Dallas area than in the SF area.

Jacob Aaron Geller November 22, 2012 at 4:00 am

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