Archive for the 'Hispanics (Minority Issues)' Category

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Quote Of The Day

“One thing we do know is that it was a good year to be a Republican Hispanic candidate,” said Arturo Vargas, head of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “Hispanic Republican candidates rode the Republican title wave. It was coast to coast. The only place they didn’t seem to win was the Pacific Ocean,” he said, referring to California, where Democrats held strong and Republican Abel Maldonado lost his bid for lieutenant governor. — Associated Press

Quote Of The Day

“Despite criticisms from Republican politicians about the White House’s overly lenient immigration policies, this administration is actually deporting more immigrants than the Bush administration.” — Catherine Rampell, writing in the New York Times economix section

Two Arguments In Favor Of Immigration

With the Arizona (anti-)immigration laws coming into affect soon, I have seen a lot of arguments in favor of immigration by those opposed to the Arizona laws. Most of them are either weak on economics, or miss the point completely. As a strong supporter of immigration, I thought I’d give two of my favorite arguments in favor of immigration.

My favorite argument in favor of immigration is that immigration is a huge boom to the immigrants themselves. It is, without a doubt, the strongest poverty alleviation tool in the history of man. Nothing else, no social program, no foreign aid, no economic reform, nothing, can so positively improve the lives of people like the freedom of an immigrant to move from an underdeveloped country to a developed country. The only way immigration is even debatable on humanitarian grounds is for one to assign almost zero importance to the welfare of the immigrants themselves. The argument is made stronger when you consider that immigrants also have a (small) net positive affect on the developed country. But even if you disagree, and believe that immigrants are a net loss to the receiving country, that loss would still have to be weighed against the overwhelming positive gain it gives immigrants themselves, almost always of which consist of the poorest members of the world. An impossible hurdle to overcome.

My second favorite argument in support of immigration, and this one specifically appeals to my libertarian and conservative friends, is that immigration is mutually exclusive from social programs. You have to pick: either an economy with abundant immigrants and low levels of social programs, or an economy with abundant social programs and low levels of immigrants. You can’t have both. Counter intuitive you say?

Not really:

Although poor immigrants are likely to support a bigger welfare state than natives do, the presence of poor immigrants makes natives turn against the welfare state. Why would this be? As a rule, people are happy to vote to “take care of their own”; that’s what the welfare state is all about. So when the poor are culturally very similar to the rich, as they are in places like Denmark and Sweden, support for the welfare state tends to be uniformly strong.

As the poor become more culturally distant from the rich, however, support for the welfare state becomes weaker and less uniform. There is good evidence, for example, that support for the welfare state is weaker in the U.S. than in Europe because our poor are disproportionately black. Since white Americans don’t identify with black Americans to the same degree that rich Danes identify with poor Danes, most Americans are comfortable having a relatively small welfare state.

Thus, even though black Americans are unusually supportive of the welfare state, it is entirely possible that the presence of black Americans has on net made our welfare state smaller by eroding white support for it.

Immigration is likely to have an even stronger counter-balancing effect on natives’ policy preferences because, as far as most Americans are concerned, immigrants from Latin American are much more of an “out-group” than American blacks. Faced with the choice to either cut social services or give “a bunch of foreigners” equal access, natives will lean in the direction of cuts. In fact, I can’t think of anything more likely to make natives turn against the welfare state than forcing them to choose between (a) helping no one, and (b) helping everyone regardless of national origin.

This is not something peculiar to one blogger, this is widely recognized on the left and the right. From Paul Krugman and Matthew Yglesias on the left, to Bryan Caplan, Jeffrey Miron and David Friedman (also here) on the right.

Taking the side of immigration over safety nets doesn’t just make sense economically, it also makes sense on humanitarian grounds. As Bryan Caplan explained:  “…unlike the welfare state, immigration has and continues to help absolutely poor people, not relatively poor Americans who are already at the 90th percentile of the world income distribution. There’s no reason for libertarians to make apologies to social democrats: Libertarian defenders of immigration are the real humanitarians in the world, and the laissez-faire era of open borders without the welfare state was America’s real humanitarian era.”

The Face Of The Teachers Union

Many of my friends still innocently assume that the teachers union is really out to help the students, they have no real self interest in their own personal gain over those of students. Articles like this should remove them of such naive beliefs.

The Context Behind The Arizona Law

As explained by Rodolfo de la Garza, professor of political science at Columbia University:

In recent years, Texas has been all but closed off, and so is California. It’s created a funnel, so you’ve got an increased flow of illegal immigrants into Arizona. Phoenix, and Tucson to a lesser degree, have become the unwanted recipients of a lot of narco traffic and a tremendous increase in the amount of violence. Arizona also has a changing demography, so that you have a lot of Midwesterners flooding in—retirees, snowbirds, displaced unemployed people who have no history with the region. And you’ve got a division in the state between southern Arizona, a heavily Hispanic area, and the rest of the state, including Mesa, Tempe, Phoenix and Flagstaff, which historically had few Mexicans. And there’s an ethnic dimension to the crisis that’s powerful, real and historic. Combine those several factors and you create the conditions for conflict. You understand why Anglo Arizonans resent current conditions without in any way supporting their actions.

Full interview can be found here.

Quote Of The Day

“In testimony before Congressmen Eliot Engel and Connie Mack at the House Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, Enriquez sounded the alarm. Citing the return of the old dictator’s behavior of the 1980s, Enriquez described how Ortega is manipulating the courts, the constitution, and the National Assembly to maintain his control of the country and a growing share of its economy. Hugo Chavez’s favorite ally in Central America is steadily enriching himself and his cronies at the expense of his fellow Nicaraguans. Meanwhile, Ortega’s ties to Venezuela’s Chavez, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and his historic ties to the Castros and a now-resurgent Moscow should give pause to U.S. policy makers. This was the message Enriquez took to numerous policy makers, not only in the Congress, but also at the White House, the State Department, and in interviews with Voice of America and AP, among others.”– Gardner Peckham, blogging at the AEI Blog

Milton Friedman On The Responsibility To The Poor

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Just as true in 1978 as it is today.

Quote Of The Day

“The fact of the matter is that this country moved from segregation required by law to segregation forbidden by law without trying freedom of association for a millisecond. So I don’t presume to know how much or how quickly segregation would have broken down without the law. There are strong incentives for employers, unhindered by law, to hire the best person for the job, regardless of race, and it would have been nice to see how well and quickly freedom of association would have worked.” — David Henderson, professor of economics

Three Must Watch Education Movies – Upcoming

The first is Waiting For Superman. The second is The Lottery. The third is The Cartel. All about education. All a must watch.

Quote Of The Day

“Whatever you may think about the 1964 Civil Rights Act as a whole, it indisputably narrows property rights by allowing politicians to dictate the policies of private businesses. Not only is it perfectly reasonable to find that at least a little disturbing, it’s perfectly unreasonable not to find it a little disturbing—even if your ultimate judgment is that it’s a necessary means to a desirable end. Even avid supporters of the Patriot Act ought to acknowledge that it raises legitimate concerns about privacy, even avid supporters of capital punishment ought to acknowledge that it raises legitimate concerns about false convictions, and even avid supporters of the Civil Rights Act ought to acknowledge that it raises legitimate concerns about property rights.” — Steve Landsburg, Professor of economics at the University of Rochester and author of The Big Questions

Why Democrats Fear Vouchers

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A quick look will show you why: vouchers pits two traditionally Democratic constituents against each other, minorities and teachers union.  In case you were wondering, I am on the side of the minorities.

In this case, the voucher bill passed and the school choice effort marches on.

Unions Kill Voucher Bill In Chicago

The Chicago Tribune gives the details:

The legislation got through the Senate in March after being championed by Sen. James Meeks, D-Chicago, and suburban Republicans. But by Wednesday, teachers unions had regrouped and its supporters found themselves pleading with opponents to overcome a furious lobbying effort to stop the bill.

“Think back to why you ran for office,” said sponsoring Rep. Kevin Joyce, D-Chicago. “Was it for a pension? I doubt it. Was it to protect the leadership of a union? I doubt that. Actually in all cases, I believe each and every one of us here got involved to try and make a difference in the lives of our fellow man.”

Joyce could muster only 48 of the 60 votes needed to pass a bill that would have allowed students to get vouchers worth about $3,700 to switch to private or parochial schools beginning in fall 2011.

Joyce said the bill would have passed if it had not faced the union opposition. The bill got support from 26 Republicans and 22 Democrats, fewer votes than Joyce had expected from his fellow Democrats.

Fighting back tears during the lengthy debate, Rep. Suzanne Bassi, R-Palatine, called on fellow lawmakers to “search your souls” to support the measure because “we have failed these kids in the inner-city schools.”

“I’m pleading with you,” said Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago, who represents an area with four public schools where students would have been eligible for vouchers. “I’m begging you. Help me help kids in my district.”

Jay P. Greene has more here.

Quote Of The Day

“But that’s why we shouldn’t have laws that enshrine any sort of profiling.  If the immigration problems in Arizona are really so serious that they merit deep intrusions upon the liberty of citizens who happen to resemble illegal immigrants, than they are serious enough to intrude on the liberty of everyone.  Don’t make the cops check the status of anyone who they “reasonably suspect” is illegal; make them check the status of everyone, no matter how blond-haired, blue-eyes, and fluent in standard American english they may be.  If you forget your license at home, the police detain you, just like they detain anyone of mexican descent, while someone fetches it.  If you can’t produce a birth certificate, passport, or similar, then you wait in the pokey until they can verify your legal status.  No police discretion.  No profiling. ” — Megan McArdle, on the Arizona immigration law

Quote Of The Day

“While we are all familiar with the role played by the United States and the European colonial powers like Britain, France, Holland, Portugal and Spain, there is very little discussion of the role Africans themselves played…How did slaves make it to these coastal forts? The historians John Thornton and Linda Heywood of Boston University estimate that 90 percent of those shipped to the New World were enslaved by Africans and then sold to European traders. The sad truth is that without complex business partnerships between African elites and European traders and commercial agents, the slave trade to the New World would have been impossible, at least on the scale it occurred.” — Henry Louis Gates Jr, writing in the New York Times

Remembering Jaime Escalante And What His Experience Tells Us

Jaime Escalante, the brilliant public school teacher immortalized in the 1988 film, “Stand and Deliver,” died last week at the age of 79. Cato’s Andrew Coulson writes in the WSJ about what his experience tells us:

In any other field, his methods would have been widely copied. Instead, Escalante’s success was resented. And while the teachers union contract limited class sizes to 35, Escalante could not bring himself to turn students away, packing 50 or more into a room and still helping them to excel. This weakened the union’s bargaining position, so it complained.

By 1990, Escalante was stripped of his chairmanship of the math department he’d painstakingly built up over a decade. Exasperated, he left in 1991, eventually returning to his native Bolivia. Garfield’s math program went into a decline from which it has never recovered. The best tribute America can offer Jaime Escalante is to understand why our education system destroyed rather than amplified his success—and then fix it.

A succinct diagnosis of the problem was offered by President Clinton in 1993 at the launch of philanthropist Walter Annenberg’s $500 million education reform challenge. “People in this room who have devoted their lives to education,” he said, “are constantly plagued by the fact that nearly every problem has been solved by somebody somewhere, and yet we can’t seem to replicate it everywhere else.” Our greatest challenge is to create “a system to somehow take what is working and make it work everywhere.”

The most naïve approach has been to create a critical mass of exemplary “model” schools, imagining that the system would spontaneously reconstitute itself around their example. This was the implicit assumption underlying the Annenberg Challenge and, with donor matching, more than $1 billion was spent on it. As a mechanism for widely disseminating excellence, it failed utterly.

President Obama wants a government program for identifying and disseminating what works. In his blueprint for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act released in March, he proposed the creation of “‘communities of practice’ to share best practices and replicate successful strategies.”

He’s not the first to advocate this approach. The secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education pursued the same idea—in 1837. Horace Mann, father of American public schooling, thought that a centrally planned state education apparatus would reliably identify and bring to scale the best methods and materials in use throughout the system. Despite a century-and-a-half of expansion and centralization, this approach, too, has failed. Without systematic incentives rewarding officials for wise decisions and penalizing them for bad ones, public schooling became a ferris wheel of faddism rather than a propagator of excellence.

The full post can be found here. Link via Jay P. Greene here.

Universal Kindergarten

Before we embark on universal preschool, we should look at the results from universal kindergarten. According to Elizabeth U. Cascio, assistant professor of economics at Dartmouth College, the gains were far short of expectations:

My results indicate that state funding of universal kindergarten had no discernible impact on many of the long-term outcomes desired by policymakers, including grade retention, public assistance receipt, employment, and earnings. White children were 2.5 percent less likely to be high school dropouts and 22 percent less likely to be incarcerated or otherwise institutionalized as adults following state funding initiatives, but no other effects could be discerned. Also, I find no positive effects for African Americans, despite comparable increases in their enrollment in public kindergartens after implementation of the initiatives. These findings suggest that even large investments in universal early-childhood education programs do not necessarily yield clear benefits, especially for more disadvantaged students.

The full post can be found here.

What studies like this ignore is that it isn’t rigorous data politicians base their decisions on: its the next election. And programs like universal kindergarten and today’s universal preschool efforts, while they do little to actually improve education, do improve the wallets of a very powerful lobbyists group – the teachers union. And when it comes to policy, that is what matters most.