Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Illegal Immigrants Cause 6% of Crime , which Costs$24 Billion

David Wilson pointed out flaws in my earlier post on crime and illegal immigrants. My numbers were way off, but even when cut they support my ultimate conclusion: the cost of crime by illegal aliens wipes out the economic gains from them. And this is true even if it were to be the case, as Mr. Wilson suggests, illegal aliens have a lower propensity to commit crime---adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity, etc. --- than citizens do. (That's because for the question of how much they harm the U.S. , one shouldn't adjust: what matters is how much crime they commit in total, not how much crime they would commit if they were old and female.)

Note that even corrected, my estimates are still just a weblog estimate, not up to the standards for first draft for an academic working paper, though that doesn't mean they aren't the best available (somebody *should* do a serious study of this). What would be really useful would be a survey of a random sample of those imprisoned in state and federal prisons and jails.

My numbers were indeed way off. The big problem was my use of the SCAAP numbers for the number of illegal aliens in jail during the year. I compared that to the number of people in jail measured on one particular day. Since jails are for terms of less than one year, there will be a lot more people in and out during the year than are in jail during any one day.

My latest estimate is that 6.1% of crime is by illegal aliens, and it imposes a cost of 24 billion dollars per year. The reasoning is below. (The percentage is exactly the same as David Wilson's but that is an odd coincidence; he includes jails and gets 6.1% as 131,000/ 2,135,335).

Here are some numbers on inmates of "prisons" (a term of art which means state and federal prisons, places where criminals serve sentences of one year or more, as opposed to jails, which are run by cities and counties for lesser offenders). K means "thousand".

From the Justice Dept. source on prison data: Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2006,, or Appendix Table 6: In prisons: 33K federal, 57K state noncitizens on June 30, 2006. Total: 90K. Table 12: Prisoners in custody: 181K federal, 1290K state. Total: 1471K. Fraction noncitizen: 90/1471= 6.1%.

If there are 10.5 million illegal aliens, then their imprisonment rate is 90/10500 = 0.85%. There are 308 thousand Hispanics in prison p06t07.csv out of a population of 44.3 million (Stat Abs. Table 6), about 0.69%. Thus, illegal aliens aren't much different from hispanics in percentage imprisoned. That is surprising, since I would think the illegals would have fewer women and children to bring down the criminality rate. The overall US imprisonment rate is 1471/297000=.50%. The white (nonblack, nonHispanic) rate is .27% (= (478+49)/198000 ) and the black (nonhispanic) rate is 1.56% (=(534+28)/36000).

The prison data has some problems. It is not just for the 10 million or so illegal aliens, but for all noncitizens, which includes the 12 million or so legal aliens (people with green cards, tourists, etc.) (10.5 million illegal aliens from the Statistical Abstract: The total population was 296,639,000, That's about 3.4% illegals.) (Legal aliens in 2005: 20.7-10.5 million. Table 44 SA Also, (1) some states don't report, (2) some states report jails as well as prisons, and (3) some states report all foreign-born, not just illegal aliens.

Also, from GAO report number GAO-05-337R, ‘Information on Criminal Aliens Incarcerated in Federal and State Prisons and Local Jails’ which was released on May 9, 2005, criminal aliens incarcerated in federal prisons were 49K at year-end 2004, a lot more than the 33K above; and in fiscal year 2002-SCAAP reimbursed states for 77K criminal aliens. The 77K is compatible with the 57K above, since it's 4 years apart and not just year-end (some people even with sentences of over a year will have left by year-end).

Anyway, if illegal aliens are 6.1% of crime (making the further assumption that the percentage in prisons is equal to the percentage of crime generally,including less serious crime), then if crime costs $400 billion per year, crime by illegal aliens costs 24 billion dollars per year. That is about equal to the June 20, 2007 CEA report Immigration’s Economic Impact, which says immigration has a net benefit of $30 billion per year, which includes both legal and illegal immigrants.

May 3: A survey of illegal immigrants who applied for amnesty around 1989 found that of working-age adults, just 57% were male and 12% worked in agriculture. 37% had 9 or more years of schooling, which is below the American average, but above the Mexican average (p. 884 of Illegal Migration from Mexico to the United States Gordon H. Hanson, Journal of Economic Literature, Page 1. The Journal of Economic Literature Vol. 44, No. 4, December 2006)

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ABA Threatens GMU with Loss of Accreditation

Gail Heriot has a shocking WSJ op-ed telling how the American Bar Association forced George Mason Law School to admit unqualified applicants in order to retain its accreditation--- and thus its access to federal funds. Racial discrimination of this kind has been declared illegal by the Supreme Court, so the ABA is acting illegally. Is there a suit to bring?
If you have ever wondered why colleges and universities seem to march in lockstep on controversial issues like affirmative action, here is one reason: Overly politicized accrediting agencies often demand it.... In 2003, the ABA summoned the university's president and law school dean to appear before it personally, threatening to revoke the institution's accreditation. GMU responded by further lowering minority admissions standards. It also increased spending on outreach, appointed an assistant dean to serve as minority coordinator, and established an outside "Minority Recruitment Council." As a result, 17.3% of its entering students were minority members in 2003 and 19% in 2004. Not good enough. "Of the 99 minority students in 2003," the ABA complained, "only 23 were African American; of 111 minority students in 2004, the number of African Americans held at 23." It didn't seem to matter that 63 African Americans had been offered admission, or that many students admitted with lower academic credentials would end up incurring heavy debt but never graduate and pass the bar.

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Monday, April 28, 2008


Biofuel Subsidies

Mark Steyn on Biofuels:
The EU decreed that 5.75 percent of petrol and diesel must come from “biofuels” by 2010, rising to 10 percent by 2020. The U.S. added to its 51 cents-per-gallon ethanol subsidy by mandating a five-fold increase in “biofuels” production by 2022.

The result is that big government accomplished at a stroke what the free market could never have done: They turned the food supply into a subsidiary of the energy industry. When you divert 28 percent of U.S. grain into fuel production, and when you artificially make its value as fuel higher than its value as food, why be surprised that you’ve suddenly got less to eat? Or, to be more precise, it’s not “you” who’s got less to eat but those starving peasants in distant lands you claim to care so much about.

Heigh-ho. In the greater scheme of things, a few dead natives keeled over with distended bellies is a small price to pay for saving the planet, right? Except that turning food into fuel does nothing for the planet in the first place. That tree the U.S. Marines are raising on Iwo Jima was most likely cut down to make way for an ethanol-producing corn field: Researchers at Princeton calculate that to date the “carbon debt” created by the biofuels arboricide will take 167 years to reverse....

In order for you to put biofuel in your Prius and feel good about yourself for no reason, real actual people in faraway places have to starve to death. On April 15, the Independent, the impeccably progressive British newspaper, editorialized: “The production of biofuel is devastating huge swathes of the world’s environment. So why on earth is the Government forcing us to use more of it?”

You want the short answer? Because the government made the mistake of listening to fellows like you. Here’s the self-same Independent in November 2005:

At last, some refreshing signs of intelligent thinking on climate change are coming out of Whitehall. The Environment minister, Elliot Morley, reveals today in an interview with this newspaper that the Government is drawing up plans to impose a ‘biofuel obligation’ on oil companies... This has the potential to be the biggest green innovation in the British petrol market since the introduction of unleaded petrol…

Etc. It’s not the environmental movement’s chickenfeedhawks who’ll have to reap what they demand must be sown, ...

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008


What if Britain Hadn't Fought in 1939?

It's interesting to think about the counterfactual of what would have happened in Europe if Britain had decided not to defend Poland. France would probably have followed Britain's lead, as she did after Munich in 1938. There would have been no need for a Hitler-Stalin Pact, and it wouldn't have mattered anyway. Germany would have conquered Poland easily in 1939. In 1940, Russia would not have dared to absorb the Baltic republics and Bessarabia, and would not have had the part of Poland it conquered in actual history. Germany could have attacked then instead of 1941, and without fiddling around in the Balkans first. The Russian army would have been one year less far away from Stalin's purge of most of its generals in the 30s. Presumably Germany would have done even better than it did in 1941. Britain, France, and the US would not have aided Russia-- it would be hard to defend helping Stalin when they weren't fighting a common war with him. Japan was engaged in tank battles with Russia in real history in 1940, and with the best Russian troops sent to fight Hitler in my alternative history, the Japanese would have attacked vigorously. This Northern strategy would clearly have dominated going South to Indochina, the Philippines, and the Dutch East Indies, so there'd be no reason for America to get involved. If Russia didn't lose in 1940, it would lose in 1941. What next? Hitler might have settled down to organizing the Slavs for a few years, or he might have gone straight to conquering France and the Balkans. He couldn't have beaten the Royal Navy and Air Force in 1940 or 1941, but he could have by, say, 1950. Whether he'd want to is not entirely clear, but I think he'd like the idea of world domination. He might have tolerated an independent Britain if it refrained from electing a Labor government.



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Hilary Clinton Is Winning the Popular Vote

Michael Barone has good posts here and post-Penn about Clinton's popular vote chances. But I think he does it wrong.

Since the popular vote competition is informal, each side will pick its own rules. Mrs. Clinton has said that MIchigan and Florida should count. Florida gives her 288 thousand and Michigan gives her a 90 thousand margin over Uncommitted, though she will point out that it gives her 328 thousand more people than voted for Obama, who wasn't on the ballot. That's 616 thousand from those two states,using Clinton-supporter math.

RealClearPolitics gave Obama a lead of 827 thousand before Pennsylvania. Subtract the 106 thousand that's just attributed to Obama from caucus states but are not actual votes, to get 721 thousand. Subtract Florida and Michigan to get 105 thousand. Now subtract Clinton's 205 thousand margin from Pennsylvania, and she's ahead nationally by 100,000 votes. She doesn't need Porto Rico any more to claim victory.

Which rules to use is debatable. It being debatable is a good argument for judging winners by pre-set rules rather than ex post judgements. Many Democrats prefer ex post judgements, both as a matter of political style (that applies to judicial decisionmaking too) and because they argued for it in the Gore-Florida situation in 2000. Furthermore, in that election they argued for the most expansive rules possible, to count the most people who came to the polls and tried to vote (though as I recall-- I might be wrong-- nobody realized at the time that if the Democrat definition had been adopted, Bush would have won). Here, a primitive one-man one-vote theory would say that Clinton is ahead, because Obama really didn't get any votes in Michigan. To get round that, you'd have to resort to a theory that what should count is who people would have voted for if their candidate had been on the ballot, and that is perilously close to a theory of how people would have voted if Obama had been as much the favorite in January as he is now.

I think these popular-vote calculations shouldn't matter and it would be fine for the superdelegates to ignore them. But then I thought it was fine to follow the pre-set rules in Florida 2000 too. The Democrats think differently, so they have a big problem-- and it is a problem not unrelated to their political philosophy, so we shouldn't feel it's unfair that they have it.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Italian Politics

Michael Barone has a good article on Italian politics since WW2:
The partisan patterns of Italian politics were set in that election and persisted for many decades. My theory has long been that the different regions voted for the parties representing the forces that provided protection from the Nazis in the awful years from 1943 to 1945, when war raged throughout Italy, food was scarce, and safety could not be guaranteed. (For a graphic description of life in those years, see Iris Origo’s beautifully written War in Val d’Orcia.) The southern region, where the U.S. Army protected people from the Nazis and from disorder, voted for the Christian Democrats. In the so-called Red Belt region—which includes Tuscany, Umbria, and Emilia Romagna—the main protection came from Communist guerrillas, and the people there voted Communist for years after. The Lombardy and Piedmont region—with cities such as Milan and Turin—was a mixed bag; the Veneto and the Northeast, threatened by Yugoslav Communists, voted heavily for the Christian Democrats.

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Monday, April 21, 2008


Word Counts in PDF

Translator's Abacus is a free program, downloadable from, that does word counts for pdf and html documents. It is 640K, one file, easy to use, andwell designed.



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Monday, April 14, 2008


Folding Chairs in Museums

The Victoria and Albert Museum has movable folding chairs, a very good idea. The right way to see a museum is to sit in the middle of a room and look around, and only then to go up and examine individual items closely.
Faith on a Folding Chair
The Natural History Museum had another good idea: steps for children to stand on to see into cases.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008


Reproductions in Museums

I like it that the Victoria and Albert Museum and the London Natural History Museum both have lots of items that are reproductions rather than originals. At the VA there is a room of medieval sculpture reproductions.
At the Natural History Museum there are lots of casts of fossils from other collections. I think of the marine animal fossil hall in particular-- the pleiosaurs and mosasaurs.

Banfield in his book The Maculate Muse called for this.



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Gold Label Strong Beer

Whitbread's Gold Label Very Strong Special Beer is a cheap barleywine. It is undrinkable when the can is first opened, but gets much better if it breathes for a bit. Chill it, too. 17 proof-- very strong indeed.



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The Directory for Family Worship

From The Directory for Family Worship (1647), a goo document to read: every family where there is any that can read, the holy scriptures should be read ordinarily to the family; and it is commendable, that thereafter they confer, and by way of conference make some good use of what hath been read and heard. As, for example, if any sin be reproved in the word read, use may be made thereof to make all the family circumspect and watchful against the same; or if any judgment be threatened, or mentioned to have been inflicted, in that portion of scripture which is read, use may be made to make all the family fear lest the same or a worse judgment befall them, unless they beware of the sin that procured it: and, finally, if any duty be required, or comfort held forth in a promise, use may be made to stir up themselves to employ Christ for strength to enable them for doing the commanded duty, and to apply the offered comfort. In all which the master of the family is to have the chief hand; and any member of the family may propone a question or doubt for resolution.



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Friday, April 11, 2008


The Obama Tax Returns

Mr. Obama's tax returns are here. 2000-2004 he and his wife earned about 250,000 dollars per year and gave about 2,500 dollars to charity. In 2005 and 2006 they went up to 1.6M and 1M in income (his book came out and earned a lot), and raised their donations too. When Mr. Obama became senator, the U. of C. created a high-paying administrative job for Mrs. Obama, another reason for the increase in income.

The oddest thing about the returns is the lack of capital income before the big pay increase in 2005. Did their savings all go into tax-exempt vehicles such as life insurance, pension plans, etc.? Or did they not save anything?

In three of the years, even interest from a bank account isn't included. They probably had it, but were sloppy and didn't report it. That isn't a significant violation of tax law either legally or ethically, but it indicates remarkable sloppiness. They must have been filling out their own taxes (a sensible thing to do) rather than hiring someone, but a lawyer-administrator couple ought to notice details, especially when the lawyer is in politics.

2000. Interest 38. Dividends 0.
2001. Interest 0. Dividends 0.
2002. Interest 33. Dividends 0.
2003. Interest 0. Dividends 0.
2004. Interest 0. Dividends 0.
2005. Interest 13,385. Dividends 2,754. From two banks. I think one bank was investing in stocks for him.
2006. Interest 4,590. Dividends 1,188. Capital loss taken 3000 (10,136 total loss, Nuveen floating rate PDF SHS).

The TaxProfblog has a good post, links, and, especially, comments on the tax returns. One commentor suggests that they should have paid AMT, and thus underpaid about $14,000 in one year. That fits with the general naivete of the tax returns. Also, it seems they deducted a $13,000 contribution to the Congressional Black Caucus-- a political contribution! They later amended the return to fix that up. APril 22: He has released his 2007 returns now too. There is a big change: Lots of tax-exempt interest income, $200,000+ in charitable donations, AMT paid too.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008



NARTHEX: A gallery, vestibule, or porch located between the main entrance and the nave of a church.



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Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Telling Children to Behave

From WSJ, Taranto, is story that tell us about Obama, social norms and breakdown in the US, Black-Hispanic relations, freedom of speech, and the difference between America and England in social responsibility.

A Barack Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention was "ticketed for calling her neighbor's African-American children 'monkeys,' " reports the Chicago Sun-Times. (We didn't realize this was against the law, but the Chicago Tribune explains that the charge was disorderly conduct.) Here is what happened, according to the Sun-Times:

[Linda] Ramirez-Sliwinski "came outside and told the children to quit playing in the tree like monkeys. The tree was not on Ramirez-Sliwinski's property," Carpentersville Police Commander Michael Kilbourne said.

Ramirez-Sliwinski admitted she used the word "monkeys," but said she did not intend racism. She said she was only trying to protect them from falling out of the tree.

"Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski said she saw the kids playing in the tree and didn't want them falling out of the tree and getting hurt. She said she calls her own grandchildren 'monkeys,' " Kilbourne said. The mother of one of the children did not see it that way, noting she and Ramirez-Sliwinski have clashed before.

"She felt it was racist because of the fact the children were African-American," Kilbourne said.

Told of the incident Monday by the Sun-Times, Obama's campaign called Ramirez-Sliwinski and persuaded her to step aside as a delegate because the campaign felt her remarks were "divisive and unacceptable."

Finally, someone Barack Obama can disown! Let this be a lesson for other Obama delegates: If someone is bothering you, shout at the top of your lungs, "God damn America!" You know Obama will stand by you then.

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