Category Archives: Economics

Taking in Syrian Immigrants Immoral?

Recently, I was trying to find non-xenophobic arguments against the US taking in Syrian immigrants. I found a potential case in National Review (assuming the numbers truly are reliable). Two writers from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) argue that it costs an estimated $12,874 per year (for the first 5 years) to resettle Middle-Eastern Refugees in the US while it may cost around $1,057 per year to move them to relative — if temporary — safety in neighboring Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon. Again, if this is true, we could assist roughly twelve times the humans by helping resettle Syrians into neighboring countries with the same resource investment.

But, should we be concerned about this study’s impartiality? Maybe. The same authors published a study last year for CIS warning that immigration in general is a problem, partly because Muslims (who, incidentally, make up less than 1% of the US population) pose a significant security threat. These immigrants will, undoubtedly, “board an airliner and blow it up” according to one co-author*.

The person who said that, Steven Camarota, has remarked on another even more serious immigrant threat very concisely in the past: “[E]ach 10 percent increase in the immigrant share of the county’s population reduced the Republican vote by about six percentage points [over the last 30 years]”*.

Of course, we can’t discount this study/argument simply because the writers may be generally biased against immigration. Hopefully, PolitiFact will have a look at their figures.

Agree or not, there are still solid ways to try to help out the thousands of Syrian civilians in need. Both Charity Navigator and Charity Watch highly rate American Refugee Committee International as an effective charity. GiveWell recommends Doctors Without Borders.

Quinoa in Peru, and Bolivia

From Ari LeVaux’s January 25th, 2013 Slate article “It’s OK To Eat Quinoa”:

Most of the world’s quinoa is grown on the altiplano, a vast, cold, windswept, and barren 14,000-foot Andean plateau spanning parts of Peru and Bolivia. Quinoa is one of the few things that grow there, and its high price means more economic opportunities for the farmers in one of the poorest parts of South America.

Continue reading Quinoa in Peru, and Bolivia

Whore’s Glory

I had nine customers today. All nine were really fine. They were perfect gentleman with me. It always depends on the man’s family. If he comes from a good family, he has good manners; if he comes from a bad family, he has bad manners. … But it depends on my behavior too. If I treat him badly, he treats me badly. If a girl behaves badly, she gets a bad reputation quickly. … If I lose a customer, then his friends stop coming too. I treat my customers right so they keep coming back. Otherwise, I would be left with nothing. A customer would come once and then never again.

Discussion Concerning Killing Them Softly

Clifton  I thought Killing Them Softly had more going on than just “it’s every man for himself out there.” I wasn’t that crazy about it, but I do otherwise agree with this person’s take.


Josh  Yeah, it wasn’t too hard to pick up the less-than-subtle undertones with the constant insertion of snippets of political commentary. Surely Dominik didn’t need the hammer to make his point. I was also surprised to read that it was set in New Orleans? I don’t remember picking that up at any point in the story.

Clifton  I actually didn’t think that Dominik made his point too clumsily because I didn’t feel that I fully understood the purpose of the political stuff. Also, outside of Suebsaeng’s review in Mother Jones, I haven’t found another reviewer who has satisfactorily explained the symbolic or allegorical elements.

When it was over, I felt like I had missed something. Assuming allegory myself, I tried to reason through what the different figures might have represented. Was Driver the corporations? If so, who was the government? It makes sense to me now for Mickey to represent a lack of regulation in the markets. His criminal friends just “let it go” when he dumbly fesses up to his caper. This leads to a “meltdown” in the underworld.

That means that Johnny (“Squirrel”), Frankie (the Bostonian), and Russell (the Aussie) maybe represent the chaos that accompanies laissezfaireism.
Continue reading Discussion Concerning Killing Them Softly

Against the Personal Preference Diet

If our going-in belief is, “Meat-eating is morally acceptable as it is a personal decision,” this belief equates acceptable morality with personal preference: “I like to eat beef; therefore, it is acceptable to kill and eat cows.” This easily permits the equivalent expression, “I like to eat Soylent Green; therefore, it is acceptable to kill and eat people.”

However, if we use unnecessary suffering as our benchmark, we can easily defeat both arguments. We first grant that unnecessary suffering is bad. We then grant that the more unnecessary suffering our actions cause, the worse those actions are.

We know that eating animals causes suffering in at least one direct way and one indirect way.

Factory farming is a direct way in which animals suffer. Conditions in many large-scale meat production operations cause animals to suffer cramped quarters, little or no outdoor grazing ability, and inhumane slaughter. Continue reading Against the Personal Preference Diet

Report: Number of Animals Killed In US Increases in 2010: “~10 billion land animals were raised and killed for food in the United States in 2010.”
Farm Animal Rights Movement
Do Chickens Suffer in Wire Cages?: “Dawkins explains that if hens kept all their lives on wire floors are suddenly given access to a floor of wood-shavings or peat, they have ‘an immediate and strong preference for these more natural floors over the wire ones, which is all they have known until then.’ “
United Poultry Concerns
The Human Cost of Animal Suffering: “The sheer volume, scale and rate of killing, the way the animals form a continuous stream rather than individual creatures, makes it clear the animals are seen as raw material.”
Timothy Pachirat

From The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Few people realize this, but cutting down the trees is one of the things that keeps us Malawians poor. Without the trees, the rains turn to floods and wash away the soil and all its minerals. The soil — along with loads of garbage — runs into the Shire River, clogging up the dams with silt and trash and shutting down the turbine. Then the power plant has to stop all operations and dredge the river, which in turn causes power cuts. And because this process is so expensive, the power company has to charge extra for electricity, making it even more difficult to afford. So with no crops to sell because of drought and floods, and with no electricity because of clogged rivers and high prices, many people feed their families by cutting down trees for firewood or selling it for charcoal. It’s like that.

Twenty Fastest Growing Occupations

20. Dog Whisperer

Peter E. Rex, Lane County dog whisperer, fills out a door hanger card on March 16, 2011, after finding no one at home at a residence with an allegedly unwhispered dog during his rounds in Eugene, Ore. This occupation is expected to be the 20th fastest growing percentage-wise by 2018, adding 80,800 new jobs. The mean annual wage in May 2010 was $62,140, and the position requires long-term on-the-job training.

19. Cloud Photographer

Photography instructor Mike Litoris, left, sizes up a picture while students Dong Suk of Stanford, Conn., center, and Scott Hiscock of Portsmouth, N.H., right, make their fall aspen photos on Sept. 24, 2004. This occupation is expected to be the 19th fastest growing by 2018, adding 81,300 new jobs. The mean annual wage in May 2010 was $41,210, and the position requires work experience in a related field. Continue reading Twenty Fastest Growing Occupations

“Abortion and crime: who should you believe?”

First, let’s start by reviewing the basic facts that support the Donohue-Levitt hypothesis that legalized abortion in the 1970s explains a substantial part of the crime decline in the 1990s:

1) Five states legalized abortion three years before Roe v. Wade. Crime started falling three years earlier in these states, with property crime (done by younger people) falling before violent crime.