Archive for August, 2009|Monthly archive page

a questionable way to start the day

I know this is so far beyond the pale that it’s not even worth it, but I couldn’t help myself.


My boss was sent an article called “The Omnivore’s Delusion: Against the Agri-intellectuals,” basically rebutting “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” It had some interesting points (about using commercial fertalizer and the issue of nitrogen), so to do a little “context clue” fact-checking (I’m not up on my journalistic political leanings) I clicked around on the website. And I found this article:


A Smart Solution to the Diversity Dilemma*


Oh yeah. I’ll be able to tell the tune of this website from this article, definitely. (Actually, just from the title, I already do.)  Highlight:


“My goal here is a more modest one, which is to explore how we can use immigration policy to make future diversity, whatever level we choose, more manageable. I am going to assume that some amount of immigrant diversity is valuable or inevitable, or both. Given that assumption, our goal should be to carefully select diverse immigrants who do the least harm to social capital. If immigrants could possess certain characteristics that tend to increase social capital, then the impact of ethnic diversity could be at least partially mitigated.”


Basically, the premise is as follows: “This really smart, left-leaning Harvard researcher found that social capital is less in areas of more diversity, so the only conclusion is that ‘diverse’ people themselves are the problem. We can solve it by only importing the smart ones!” How do we know they’re really smart? If they pass the Middle Class Values test:


“One of the behavioral measures the authors examined was something they called the middle-class values (MCV) test. People pass the MCV test if they do all of the following—graduate from high school, avoid jail, stay married to a first spouse, maintain employment, and wait until marriage to have children. There are no formal laws against illegitimacy, divorce, or idleness, but there is a stigma against these behaviors among middle-class people. People who pass the MCV test are obeying social norms whose strength depends not on law enforcement but on social capital. They are following an implicit social contract. In Herrnstein and Murray’s words, middle-class values reflect ‘ways of behaving that produce social cohesion and order.'”


I don’t know where to start with that paragraph, so I just won’t. The final flourish:


“The smarter our immigrants are, the more likely they are to trust and cooperate, and the less likely they are to subtract from our existing stock of social capital. Selecting immigrants for intelligence (or a proxy indicator like education) could lessen the negative impact of ethnic diversity on American society.


Skill selection is a desirable way of addressing the problem of ethnic diversity because it is already a policy option on the table. More intelligent (or educated) immigrants would be more productive workers, and they would also have a much less objectionable social impact on the United States due to their enhanced ability to cooperate. Putnam’s concerns about deteriorating social capital form another argument for immigrant skill selection.”


Ta da!  Who loves conservative think tanks?! Who does?!


*This title is so close to “A Modest Proposal” that I almost took it for satire.  I was waiting to read a paragraph that outlined how we could weed out the bad element with IQ tests, murder them and turn them into fertilizer to make the hippie environmentalists happy.