Economists don’t live in a world of facts

The Secret to U.S. Growth in the 21st Century: More Asians:

Furthermore, I believe that the cultural benefits of Asian immigration will be just as big as the economic and political benefits. Adding diversity to our melting pot will speed up America’s inevitable and necessary transition from a “nation of all European races” to a “nation of all races.” The sooner that happens — the sooner people realize that America’s multi-racialization is a done deal — the quicker our political debate can shed its current ethnic overtones and go back to being about the issues.

As an empirical matter multiracial/ethnic/religious societies don’t move beyond ethnic overtones in politics, they formalize them as the modus vivendi. This is not a controversial point. That an academic economist could hold such a view says a lot about economics.

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20 Responses to Economists don’t live in a world of facts

  1. Tom Gossard says:

    I’ve been hoping, waiting, longing, expecting just such development leading to a multi-racial multi cultural society. I’m white and I couldn’t be happier arriving at minority status. Such has been my conviction for a very long time, that white people cease to be a privileged majority, it’s gone on long enough. Too long imo. Moreover, the more diverse racially America becomes the more affluent, educated and productive society we’ll become. This is what I mean when paradoxically I say “I *hate* white people.” It’s that we’re so complacent and waste so much time wringing our hands about the inevitable change we need to come to terms with in our thinking and expectations.

  2. Other social scientists never make mistakes about economics? Scientists never make mistakes about stuff outside their discipline?

  3. FredR says:

    “I’m white and I couldn’t be happier arriving at minority status.”

    I’ve met a lot of white people who eagerly anticipate minority status, and my impression is that this is because they’re tired of feeling privileged, and, in a roundabout way, are looking forward to a time when they don’t have to feel racially guilty.

  4. giesen says:

    Tom Gossard,

    Whites are a global minority. “Whites” are between 10-20% of the population and dropping (in 1960 they were 28% of the world’s pop, and are estimated to drop under 10% by 2060). If you don’t like white people or cheer for their demise, why do you choose to live in one of the very few regions on the planet with a concentration of whites?

    And some whites, love other ethnic groups, but aren’t exactly comfortable with seeing their own group ethnic group removed from the species. That is something worth wringing hands over.

  5. Acilius says:

    Maybe Professor Smith is hoping that the future USA will be a gigantic version of Hawaii. I’d agree with you if you said that this was not a particularly likely outcome; usually when ethnic groups intermarry to the point where distinctions among them are politically irrelevant, that’s at least in part because there is some other ethnic group against which both define themselves. So, if in most of the USA no one is much interested in which Northwestern European country an American’s ancestors migrated from, that is at least in part because people in those regions think of ethnicity as primarily a matter of who’s black and who isn’t, secondarily of who’s “ethnic” and who isn’t, and in some regions of who’s Native American and who isn’t. If you can say no to all three of those questions, you’re white.

    The category of “ethnic” shrinks every time whites feel the need for numbers. So the more anti-black the majority in the USA is, the likelier the descendants of Asian immigrants are to be assimilated to white status. Conversely, the less racism (by which I mean hostility to black people) there is in the USA, the likelier “Asian” is to persist as a category, and the likelier the members of that category are to compete with other groups and to come into conflict with other groups.

    I don’t see a solution to this. I think the USA needs a steady flow of high-skilled immigrants, and obviously most of those immigrants are going to come from Asia and from other parts of the world which most Americans now regard as alien. Rapid assimilation of immigrant groups is an efficient means of promoting social peace, but a social order in which hostility to blacks is a prominent feature is neither peaceful nor efficient, and is indeed intolerably unjust. So, like you, I find something childish in Professor Smith’s blithe disregard of these questions.

  6. David Hume says:

    Other social scientists never make mistakes about economics? Scientists never make mistakes about stuff outside their discipline?

    what’s your point? you’ve read me long enough to understand that if you engage in that sort of non-value add off-topic bullshit again i will ban you.

  7. David Hume says:

    people: please understand sarcasm (re: comment #1). though commenters should be less sarcastic, the socially less endowed are likely to be confused and waste their time.

  8. Steve Cardon says:

    Moving to Tallahassee, Florida, from Salt Lake City, Utah was a real eye opener for me. It was pretty easy in Salt Lake to be tolerant towards black people (or your PC term of choice), because you could go for days without interacting with a black person. It was VERY easy to be smug, and point the finger at “racist” people in the South, North, or wherever. The fact of where I live now, is that you run into racial hostility from both sides on pretty much a daily basis. I soon found my high flown color-blindness quickly turning into a visceral “now I understand why they hate blacks” us and them, ready-for-battle posture. A black individual might be very rude, give me an attitude, or even a finger gesture (obligatorily returned of course). I didn’t actually get into fights mind you, but the transmission of negative vibes, and small slights, serves the same function. I was completely unprepared to balance my own Us/Them macho reactions (or my subsequent feelings of shame), because I had not yet had time to acclimate.

    With a little more time having passed now, I have found that many blacks try very hard to overcome their feelings of marginalization, anger, and paranoia. They will engage whites with open friendliness that completely defies a negative response. When this happens, I can’t help but reciprocate, then re-assess my own adrenaline/testosterone fueled, knee jerk reactions yet again. Come the next encounter, I am always more predisposed towards checking my body language, and making the first friendly overture; the first act of courtesy or politeness. Race relations here is about acts of good faith (not religious faith).

    Feel good, pie-in-the-sky false portrayals of reality will not solve anything. The truth, in my opinion, is that it will take generations to work all of the bad blood out.

    Egg-headed academics in their ivory towers (like the above mentioned economist) can speculate all they want to, but if they are not down in the trenches, THEY HAVE NO IDEA what they are talking about!! Polls and surveys are often nearly useless, because people will either lie to impress you, lie to feel better about themselves, or simply tell you how it should be rather than how it is. The “PC Police” liberals have set us back , not moved us forward with their attempts to sweep reality under the carpet. We all know the ideal, but there is a long road, with no short cuts, to get there. It happens one interaction at a time; two steps forward and one step back.

    Regarding David Hume remark #2: I often love to employ sarcasm, facetiousness, and satire in order to make a point. My dry humor has gotten me in trouble more than once. Yet, in my zeal to rip apart a view point to which I am utterly opposed, I will sometimes miss the fact that the other person was also being sarcastic, facetious etc. I call it my “Rosanna Rosannadanna” moment, and it can lead to very embarassing results… “Oh, well that’s different then… never mind”;-)

  9. Peter Williamsburnt says:

    There is no such thing as a “nation of all races”. It is a contradiction in terms much the way a “gay marriage” is an oxymoron, unless of course by “gay” you mean something like “happy”.

  10. TGGP says:

    To play Devil’s Advocate, Canada is said to have a more workable version of multiculturalism. This is due to them selecting relatively high-skilled immigrants, and the fact they have genuine multiculturalism with lots of ethnic groups too small to be politically potent, rather than “biculturalism” where two large blocs become natural political rivals.

  11. Brel says:

    Canada doesn’t have divisive biculturalism? What rock are you living under?

  12. Polichinello says:

    Maybe Professor Smith is hoping that the future USA will be a gigantic version of Hawaii.

    Hawaii’s not exactly a paradise of mutual racial admiration and amity.

  13. Polichinello says:

    Other social scientists never make mistakes about economics? Scientists never make mistakes about stuff outside their discipline?

    Economists are supposed to be the most data-driven of social scientists. They draw conclusions from facts, or at least that’s what’s on their business cards.

    This economist is drawing his conclusions from wishful thinking, and he’s hardly alone in this error.

  14. FredR says:

    “the socially less endowed”

    hurtful language

  15. Steve Cardon says:

    “the socially less endowed”

    hurtful language

    FredR – Your heart is in the right place, but we are big boys and big girls. We all exist on an intellectual continuum where there are people who are more endowed than ourselves. I cannot engage in a forum about theoretical physics without most things sailing right over my head. Were I to make an attempt to comment, another participant might let me know that I was out of my depth(not saying this gentleman is), and offense would not be taken on my part. I have a fairly high tested IQ, but I am less intellectually endowed than Benjamin Netenyahu or Gene Simmons. I can live with it. Having a touch of aspergers, I am less “socially” endowed than O’bama. That is a hard pill to swallow, but I can roll with it… I can still console myself with being smarter than he is.;-)

  16. Acilius says:

    “Hawaii’s not exactly a paradise of mutual racial admiration and amity.” Certainly not paradise, but much less tense than most places in the world.

  17. Polichinello says:

    Certainly not paradise, but much less tense than most places in the world.

    If by “most places”, you mean places like Afghanistan or the Balkans, sure. But any place that has quaint traditions like “Kill Haole Day” and is pushing to grant racial privileges to Hawaiian natives is hardly a utopia of interracial cooperation. If anything, it only reinforces Hume’s point in his OP. Take away the tourist and Navy money, and his point will become even more salient.

  18. Steve Cardon says:

    It reminds me of a converation I had with a very wise Israeli woman some years ago. I had laid out a multi-part, nuanced question about Israelis vs the palestinians and various Arab entities bordering Israel. She said simply “There are too many people… we compete”.

    Earliest man learned to form alliances based on similarities with others, in order to compete with other allied groups. Bonding rituals and narratives naturally developed to reinforce those alliances. These deeply ingrained survival strategies and behaviours won’t leave humans anytime soon.

  19. FredR says:

    Ironically, I was just kidding…

  20. Steve Cardon says:

    Aaaarrrgggghh… damn you FredR!!! …never mind then;-)

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