September 3rd, 2010

green leaves


Arapaio is ignoring our laws.
The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday announced it had sued Joe Arpaio, the controversial sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona, for failing to turn over documents in an investigation of whether his aggressive operations against illegal immigrants had violated civil rights.

The litigation came two months after a Justice Department lawsuit halted a tough new Arizona immigration law, which Arpaio strongly supported. The new lawsuit is unrelated to the immigration law and stems from an investigation into the sheriff's immigration enforcement operations.

"The actions of the sheriff's office are unprecedented," said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, in a statement.

Arpaio called the lawsuit "a ruse" and said the federal government is just trying to score a win against the state, which has found itself at the center of the nation's argument over illegal immigration.

For more than three years, Arpaio has attracted praise as well as condemnation for using his deputies to track down illegal immigrants. The most high-profile example is his so-called "sweeps," during which deputies flood immigrant-heavy neighborhoods, stop people for infractions such as driving with a broken taillight and check their immigration status.

I've noticed that if it's argued that illegal immigrants are harmless on the whole and sometimes beneficial amd furthermore that mere decency might require some kindness to them, the last argument for taking their illegality very seriously is "they're breaking our laws". The law is treated as an ultimate value, regardless of its effects on people's lives.

I'm not very sure where law-abidingness fits among the virtues-- it obviously is of some good, and it equally obviously can be trumped by other values.

I am very sure that Americans are not an extremely law-abiding people, and that this talk of "our laws" is a fairly new thing. I'm not sure whether it came in after 9/11 in parallel with "securing our borders", but I know I wasn't hearing it 20 or 30 years ago.

A study of states with varying levels of immigration, over time.
First, there is no evidence that immigrants crowd out U.S.-born workers in either the short or long run. Data on U.S.-born worker employment imply small effects, with estimates never statistically different from zero. The impact on hours per worker is similar. We observe insignificant effects in the short run and a small but significant positive effect in the long run. At the same time, immigration reduces somewhat the skill intensity of workers in the short and long run because immigrants have a slightly lower average education level than U.S.-born workers.

Second, the positive long-run effect on income per U.S.-born worker accrues over some time. In the short run, small insignificant effects are observed. Over the long run, however, a net inflow of immigrants equal to 1% of employment increases income per worker by 0.6% to 0.9%. This implies that total immigration to the United States from 1990 to 2007 was associated with a 6.6% to 9.9% increase in real income per worker. That equals an increase of about $5,100 in the yearly income of the average U.S. worker in constant 2005 dollars. Such a gain equals 20% to 25% of the total real increase in average yearly income per worker registered in the United States between 1990 and 2007.

Addendum:: bruceb tells me that "our laws" rhetoric was in use 20-30 years ago in LA.
green leaves

More consistancy

Having seen yet another person complaining that Americans are fat while people in other countries don't have enough food, I'm wondering why I don't hear the same thing about bodybuilders or endurance athletes.
green leaves

History of Modern Torture, part 2

In a recent post, I was curious about whether Rejali was right in Torture and Democracy that various false beliefs were held about the history of torture.

In fact, no one who replied seemed to hold much in the way of those beliefs, and people generally seemed to believe some subset of what was said in the book.

False beliefs included that Nazis were particularly inventive and influential, or that America was a major source of torture methods, or that there's such a thing as scientific torture.

The true story is that exclusive use of the sort of torture which doesn't leave marks is a relatively modern development (early examples include the Chicago police in the 1920s and the Stalinist show trials), and the evidence strongly suggests that it's the result of monitoring rather than democracy alone. I think it's also the result of a rise in humanitarianism, but this hasn't been covered in the book-- but if people didn't care about governments causing overt damage, monitoring wouldn't matter.

Rejali describes torture as a craft apprenticeship system-- to a very large extent, methods are developed on a basis of plausibility rather than theory, and picked up because they seem reasonable. There's no strong connection between national character and torture methods, but it is possible to track the transmission of methods. I'm reading the chapter about electrical torture-- probably easier to track because it involves relatively recent inventions.
green leaves

Some links

The Netherlands closes 8 prisons because of a prisoner shortage.

The real effects of requiring parental notification for abortion. It includes a bunch of possibilities (like unfindable parents which wouldn't have occurred to me.

Fabulously beautiful playing cards by Vladislav Erko based on Ukrainian folk costumes

History of the home mortgage deduction-- not intended to increase home ownership, an unintended consequence of law written before home loans, is regressive.

Some spectacular tarot cards from a one artist per card project

First link from dcseain and Carol Kennedy.

The rest are from Alas! a Blog