06 July 2014

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Political maps have changed much since one hundred years ago. Or two hundred, or five hundred.

Some changes have crept in; others have exploded. It can be interesting to look at old maps and think, how will ours look to our descendents?

Imperialism was the trend for much of the modern era. Most peoples were swept up into the folds of empires-- European, Turk, Chinese.

But West European colonialism dissolved in the 1960s, Soviet imperialism in the 1990s. Since then the trend has gone the other way:  States are fracturing ever more.

1960 to 1990: A multiplication of states

The one exception is the quasi-super-state known as the European Union, which has been hoovering up members as fast as it can.

The recent eurozone crisis has led to calls for 'a United States of Europe.'  Only a true federal authority in Brussels, with control over member states' moves, can lead to a happy European future:

European Commission vice-president Viviane Reding has predicted that the eurozone will become a federal state, while urging the UK not to leave the Union. ... “In my personal view, the eurozone should become the United States of Europe."
... Reding noted that euro countries have made an “extraordinary” leap in terms of integration due to the economic crisis. Citing the commission’s new powers to scrutinise national budgets and plans to create a banking union, she said: “a few years ago no one could have imagined member states being prepared to cede this amount of sovereignty.”


The United States itself, a grand experiment in federalism, has seen its central government intrude ever more deeply on states' rights over the last century.  Is this a happy thing?  At the same time, the massive post-1965 immigration experiment has flip-flopped U.S. demography.

These trends have created deep American fault lines.  Europe is in fact trying to emulate the U.S. at the very moment when the latter seems to be fracturing.  In both cases, then, we have a tension between creeping federal authority on one hand, and a desire by regions to throw off that authority on the other.

What does the future hold for these two super-states?

We at Those Who Can See feel it is naively optimistic to imagine in 100 years the maps of our descendents will look the same as ours.  Where are these two chunks of the Europsphere headed?

10 June 2014

Victimization Whack-a-Mole

In the 1982 comedy 'Tootsie,' actor Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) is desperate for work.  A casting director tells him what's wrong:

The reading was fine. You're the wrong height.
I can be taller.
No. We're looking for somebody shorter.
Look. I don't have to be this tall. See, I'm wearing lifts. I can be shorter.
I know, but we're looking for somebody different.
I can be different.
We're looking for somebody else.

Some people, in a word, cannot be satisfied. Trying to please them is like playing whack-a-mole: their dissatisfaction has no remedy. You're sure you've bopped it on the head, but there it pops up again, and then over there, and over there... is there any way to nab it once and for all?

In our blank-slatist world, where all groups are presumed equal, puzzling 'performance gaps' leave some feeling outraged. Rather than shake their fist at Mother Nature (the real source of disparities), they continue to demand action that they are sure will Close the Gap.  When it doesn't, the target changes. Then changes again. And again, and again...  The endless merry-go-round of recriminations and demands is a clue that what they seek cannot be found. Has all logic gone down the mole hole?  Pick up your mallet and follow us...

I. Education

1) 'Black kids must be with white kids'...

School segregation (de jure in the South, de facto in the North) was long seen as a handicap to black student success.  When de-segregation didn't magically bring the races together, a more muscular solution was called for:

28 May 2014

Foreign Policy and the Less Able


We have asked if Sub-Saharan Africa can really be considered 'post-colonial,' and concluded that it cannot. When the More Able butt up against the Less Able, the power dynamic can be so uneven that normal relations are impossible.  Westerners (and, increasingly, Easterners) just can't seem to keep their fingers out of all those little pies, commercial or humanitarian.   But the doctrine of international relations today says that all peoples sit at the same table, negotiating as equals.

If it were proved tomorrow, beyond a shadow of doubt, that Sub-Saharans as a group were far less able than Westerners,... what would be the right policy response?  We at Those Who Can See argue that such a policy framework is not hard to imagine-- as it is largely the one being used now.

World Trade Organization:  Do we all belong at the Grown-ups' table?

1) Trade policy

We don't force children to play by the same rules as adults. In the context of the WTO, if a More Able people were faced with a profoundly Less Able one, what could be considered a 'fair' trade position to take? It may look something like this:

The first Lomé Convention (Lomé I), which came into force in April 1976, was designed to provide a new framework of cooperation between the then European Community (EC) and developing ACP [African, Caribbean, Pacific] countries, in particular former British, Dutch, Belgian and French colonies.
It had two main aspects. It provided for most ACP agricultural and mineral exports to enter the EC free of duty. Preferential access based on a quota system was agreed for products, such as sugar and beef, in competition with EC agriculture. Secondly, the EC committed ECU 3 billion for aid and investment in the ACP countries.

Why are these countries singled out for special treatment?  After all, the list of places colonized by Europe is much longer:

15 May 2014

The New Face of Colonialism

'Take up the White Man's burden--
The savage wars of peace--
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.'

The colonial era, we are told, is over. The imperialists have retreated to their shores and the third world now happily governs itself.

For much of the planet, this is true. India and China, two great colonial occupations of the 19th century, have wrested control of their economy and food security. It is largely sub-Saharan Africa, home to 1/6 of humanity, which remains the red-headed stepchild of international relations.

These rich lands were coveted by industrialists, and its people's uplift coveted by do-gooders. The footprint left by the former? Ports, canals, roads, railways, and a functioning government (their own). By the latter? Churches, missions, schools, hospitals.

What both camps agreed upon, though, was that the colonized were not able to provide these things for themselves.

Upon which they still agree today.

While many believe we live in a 'post-colonial' world, we here at Those Who Can See argue that we do not.  'We're all equal,' sing both the right and the left. But their actions do not match their words.  We believe the colonial project is, on the contrary, roaring along as full-steam as it ever did. What is the evidence?

30 April 2014

Back to Work

This is just to thank our faithful readers for their infinite patience; we shall shortly be back to sharing HBD data with any who may find it of interest.  Stay tuned.

02 January 2014

Research Period

Those Who Can See will regretfully be closing up shop for a period of research.  We hope to be back online as soon as possible.  Happy New Year to those who can see, to those who cannot, and to those whose eyes are just beginning to open.

11 December 2013

Whence Housing Segregation?


There is a widespread feeling that the segregationists of yesteryear (in both North and South) were profoundly different than us: immoral, misguided, perhaps even brainwashed.  We are unable to imagine what could have possibly pushed them to embrace these discriminatory policies.  But it need it not be so: They wrote their reasons down in books.  Let us then look more closely, and see

1) if their beliefs were based on fact or fantasy, and

2) if they are truly as alien to us today as we have been led to believe.

The first place we'll look at is the one closest to us--our neighborhoods.

After Emancipation and especially in the lead-up to WWI, Afro migration to cities (both North and South) exploded.  Those Whites who had fought hard to end slavery sang a different tune when the objects of their affection moved in next door.  A 1919 Chicago study found that:

No single factor has complicated the relations of Negroes and whites in Chicago more than the widespread feeling of white people that the presence of Negroes in a neighborhood is a cause of serious depreciation of property. When a Negro family moves into a block in which all other families are white, the neighbors object. This objection may express itself in studied aloofness, in taunts, warnings, slurs, threats, or even the bombing of their homes.' White neighbors who can do so are likely to move away at the first opportunity.

[...] A leading real estate dealer said that "when a Negro moves into a block the value of the properties on both sides of the street is depreciated all the way from $100,000 to $500,000 [$1,300,000 to $6,500,000 today], depending upon the value of the property in the block"; that it was a fact and that there was no escaping it.   (1)

Highly desirable neighbors should send property values up; undesirable ones bring them down.  Whence this negative reaction to Afros as neighbors?  An irrational fear of dark skin?  Or something else?

I. Neighborhood upkeep