Saturday, February 20, 2010

Crime and Hispanics

Over the last 8 years or so there has been a major debate in this country over immigration, especially illegal immigration. It's a significant issue with 12 million illegal immigrants in the USA, companies complaining about the inability to higher enough skilled workers, and intense public policy discussions on what to do. Politicians, like Tom Tancredo, have made a living on this issue. For whatever reason Latinos have become the face of the immigrant issue.

A subtext to the whole debate is that illegal immigrants bring crime wherever they go. In an issue as emotional intense as immigration this view is not unsurprising and has a long history in America (e.g., Irish, Italians, etc...). Combining the idea of higher crime rates with increased immigration was an easy move for anti-immigration. But is it true? Fortunately this article from the American Conservative tackles the issue straight on. Some conclusions:
Nearly all of the most heavily Latino cities have low or even extremely low crime rates, and virtually none have rates much above the national average. Eighty percent Latino El Paso has the lowest homicide and robbery rates of any major city in the continental United States. This is not what we would expect to find if Hispanics had crime rates far higher than whites. Individual cities may certainly have anomalously low crime rates for a variety of reasons, but the overall trend of crime rates compared to ethnicity seems unmistakable.
...if we restrict our analysis to major cities of half a million people or more and compare the average crime rates for the five most heavily Hispanic cities—Albuquerque, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Antonio, and El Paso—to the those of the five whitest—Oklahoma City, Columbus, Indianapolis, Seattle, and Portland. This time, the more Hispanic cities are the ones with the lower crime rates—10 percent below the white cities in homicide and 15 percent lower in violent crime. A particularly remarkable result is that gigantic Los Angeles—50 percent Hispanic and frequently perceived as a dangerous urban hellhole—has violent crime rates close to those of Portland, Oregon, the whitest major city in the nation at 74 percent.
Some food for thought. HT: Marginal Revolution

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, the season of repentance and contrition. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Great Recession And Education

Your momma told you to stay in school. And she was right. As this graph illustrates from, if you have a college degree you are much more likely to be better off than not. How much, well with a college degree your cohort unemployment rate is roughly 4%, but with only a high school degree your cohort is facing an unemployment rate of 10%.

One implication of this stratification (as highlighted by M. Yglesias) is that those making the decision on how to deal with the economic crisis (Congress, Staffers, federal and state governments) work and live their lives in a cohort that isn't hurt too bad by the downturn. Sure, they see it, but they don't feel it. I don't know how you rectify this problem, but it is something to consider.

The Great Recession

As most folks know, we are in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. By most statistical measures, Americans are poorer than they were 11 years ago. This is not good news. A must read on the subject is in The Atlantic's latest issue: How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America. The author, Mr. Peck, lays out the effects of long-term unemployment on (mostly male) college graduates, mid-career, and late-career employment. Needless to say it is devastating, especially coupled with rising health care costs, the lost of industries (not just temporary unemployment), and the transformation of the American workplace from industrial to service. One quote, which is actually a quote from William Julius Wilson:
The consequences of high neighborhood joblessness, are more devastating than those of high neighborhood poverty. A neighborhood in which people are poor but employed is different from a neighborhood in which many people are poor and jobless. Many of today’s problems in the inner-city ghetto neighborhoods—crime, family dissolution, welfare, low levels of social organization, and so on—are fundamentally a consequence of the disappearance of work.
Read the article.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

More Awesome Maps

I love maps. My wife thinks it's funny that I'll eat my morning cereal while scanning an atlas. But what does she know, it's major cool. Anyway, we got some more awesome maps. This one:
Ring Roads of the World

Bars vs. Grocery Stores (red means more bars than grocery stores)
Courtesy of
Way to Go Wisconsin! You always come through when it matters.

Your Link of Day

Facebook and the relationship between cities and states.

For the record, I'm part of the Nomadic West.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Poem of the Day

Psalm for the January Thaw
by Lucy Shaw

Blessed be God for thaw, for the clear drops
that fall, one by one, like clocks ticking, from
the icicles along the eaves. For shift and shrinkage,
including the soggy gray mess on the deck
like an abandoned mattress that has
lost its inner spring. For the gurgle
of gutters, for snow melting underfoot when I
step off the porch. For slush. For the glisten
on the sidewalk that only wets the foot sole
and doesn't send me slithering. Everything
is alert to this melting, the slow flow of it,
the declaration of intent, the liquidation.

Glory be to God for changes. For bulbs
breaking the darkness with their green beaks.
For moles and moths and velvet green moss
waiting to fill the driveway cracks. For the way
the sun pierces the window minutes earlier each day.
For earthquakes and tectonic plates; earth's bump
and grind; and new mountains pushing up
like teeth in a one-year-old. For melodrama
lightning on the sky stage, and the burst of applause
that follows. Praise him for day and night, and light
switches by the door. For seasons, for cycles
and bicycles, for whales and waterspouts,
for watersheds and waterfalls and waking
and the letter W, for the waxing and waning
of weather so that we never get complacent. For all
the world, and for the way it twirls on its axis
like an exotic dancer. For the north pole and the
south pole and the equator and everything between.
HT: Daniel Taylor

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Link of the Day

From the GREATEST cartoon ever: the Calvin and Hobbes Snow Art Gallery.

9/11 Pictures

From the nytimes: the only aerial pictures of twin towers while burning and collapsing. Check it out.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Strange Maps

One of my favorite check-in from time to time blogs is Strange Maps. The maps it shows are both incredibly creative and give the viewer a new perspective. For example:
How English Tories View the World

(Note that the farthest place from a McDonalds is in South Dakota. Also note that I live in South Dakota.)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Best Action Scene Ever!

If you don't believe me, go to the two minute mark.

HT: The American Scene

Friday, February 5, 2010

Federal Employees, Pay, and Labor Mobility

Two nights ago at the YMCA I caught a Mr. Cafferty on CNN bewailing the pay of Federal employees and calling for a hiring freeze. "It's bloated," he says.

Of course, he's right, it is bloated. And of course, he's wrong, a hiring freeze is idiotic. With a bureaucracy as big as ours, you can't have blanket policies, such as a hiring freeze. Some areas need more staffing and others need much less. However, he does highlight a key problem with the Federal Bureaucracy--the lack of labor mobility.

Every once and awhile various politicians or think tanks come out arguing that federal employees are overpaid. Immediately Democrats and labor unions rush out their chosen studies to counter any such claims, and insist that, in fact, federal employees are underpaid. People yell, and then it's forgotten. However, all that yelling misses the central point, namely that federal employees are not so much overpaid, but that they can’t be fired. Furthermore, the General Schedule encourages promotion and hire pay coupled with time. Thus you have high percentage of folks making $100K but doing absolutely no work because they were overpromoted and can’t fulfill their role.

To fix the bloated federal bureaucracy we need to give managers the ability to easily fire people. However, that ain't going to happen because there are far far too many rules. Unless the employee is criminal, it is nearly impossible to get rid of him. Why? Here's one answer.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Some of My Best Friends...

...are huge fans of the television show Lost. Me...meh. This is for fans and the indifferent alike.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

NASA = Ouch

Well, the fan has been blowing for awhile and the proverbial sh*t has hit. President Obama revealed the plan/budget for NASA and it did not include any attempt to go to the moon. More importantly the plan canceled the Constellation Program, the Space Shuttle replacement. Instead NASA will now work with private companies to send astronauts to space. This is a radical shift for NASA and has huge implications for what NASA can do and will do. Overall, I think I'm for it. NASA didn't know what it was doing with the Constellation Program. It had over promised, and when it didn't deliver, it got bit in the butt.