Mike Kueber's Blog

March 23, 2014

Sunday Book Review #129 – Changing Texas

Filed under: Culture,Economics,Education,Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 9:32 pm
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Changing Texas is a demographic analysis of Texas projected out to 2050 conducted by a team led by the state’s former demographer, Steve Murdock.  In the introduction, Murdock claims that his objective is to present the demographic facts and not to prescribe intelligent public policy, but the book is subtitled “Implications of Addressing or Ignoring the Texas Challenge.”  From that subtitle, you should not be surprised that Murdock strongly implies what needs to be done.

Although this book is new (2014), Murdock’s opinions are not.  A few years ago, I heard him speak at a state-bar seminar and blogged about him.   Then about a year ago, there was a lengthy newspaper article that prompted me to do another blogpost, this one titled, “Is government responsible for ensuring that the education gap between Asian/Anglos and Blacks/Hispanics is narrowed?”

Murdock’s spiel, this time spread over 234 pages and more than 100 charts, is essentially the same as described in my previous posts – i.e., (a) Hispanics are ascendant and Anglos are a dying breed in Texas (only 21% of the state will be Anglo by 2050), and (b) Hispanics have not and will not accumulate capital (financial or educational).  The obvious result of this demographic trend is that the Texas economy will decline precipitously.

The public-policy correction, which Murdock promised not to make, is for government to somehow motivate/encourage/incentivize Blacks/Hispanics to accumulate capital.  A solution that he didn’t suggest was to motivate/encourage/incentivize Anglos to have more kids.  (Apparently, Anglo females for more than two decades have been having kids at less than the replacement rate of 2.1.)

As I noted in my previous blog, I don’t think this problem requires a race-based solution.  Not all Blacks/Hispanics are capital-poor and not all Anglos/Asians are resource rich.  Government should motivate/encourage/incentivize all resource-poor people, whether Black, White, or Brown, to accumulate capital – both financial and educational.

November 8, 2012

Is government responsible for ensuring that the education gap between Asians/Whites and Blacks/Hispanics is narrowed?

Filed under: Culture,Issues,Law/justice,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 9:01 am
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Remember that old saying, “As GM goes, so goes the nation”?  According to a recent article in the Houston Chronicle, that statement can be revised to say, “As Hispanic education goes, so goes Texas.” 

  • Whether Texas prospers or gets pulled down by poverty hinges on educating the state’s fastest-growing population – Hispanics – demographer Steve Murdock said Tuesday during opening testimony of a school funding lawsuit.  By 2050, Texas will be home for 12 million non-Hispanic whites and 31 million Hispanics, Murdock said. Hispanic children will make up nearly two-thirds of the state’s public school enrollment while the percentage of white children, now about 30 percent, will have dropped to 15.5 percent, said Murdock, Texas’ first official state demographer.  “Their need is our need in the sense that how well minority population groups do in Texas is how well Texas will do,” Murdock said. 

This argument is not something new for Murdock.  I attended a State Bar seminar on immigration policy more than a year, and subsequently posted the following in my blog:

  • In contrast to Julian [Castro], the other members of the panel provided substantive information on the illegal-immigration issue.  Dr. Steven Murdock from Rice University provided a plethora of statistical information suggesting that immigrants were critical to the economic future of Texas and America. 

The unasked question raised by Dr. Murdock’s statements is whether government is responsible for ensuring that the education gap between Asians/Whites and Blacks/Hispanics is narrowed.  And, as reported in a recent article in the New York Times, it is inaccurate to lump all Asians into a single group.  Although Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, and Indians are generally super-achievers in education (comprising over half of the students at UCLA and UC-Berkley), Southeast Asians and Pacific-Islanders can be grouped with African-Americans and Hispanics as “underrepresented minorities”:

  • Many of the Asian groups doing well have parents with college and graduate degrees,” noted Madeline Hsu, director of Asian-American Studies at the Austin campus, speaking especially of Koreans, Japanese, Indians and some Chinese. “This is partly because of regulations that sought to bring in skilled immigrants. What we need now is not to group everyone together into some mythic model minority but to have greater nuance in understanding Asian-American groups. We need greater help for Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders.”

This varying experience of immigrants from different Asian nations suggests to me that the results are due, not to discrimination, but rather to family or cultural factors.  Some families or cultures place a great emphasis on educational achievement while others don’t.  One of my law-school professors, Lino Graglia, was almost lynched when he made that argument back in the 70s when I was in law school and again a few years ago:

  • Blacks and Mexican-Americans are not academically competitive with whites in selective institutions,” he said.  “It is the result primarily of cultural effects. It seems to be the case that, various studies seem to show, that blacks and Mexican-Americans spend much less time in school. They have a culture that seems not to encourage achievement. Failure is not looked upon with disgrace.”  

The fact that we keep statistics about the academic achievement of different races and ethnicities seems to suggest that we should do something about unequal results, but I don’t think we should.  As Supreme Court Justice Roberts said, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” 

This issue reminds me of William Bennett being asked several years ago about whether he believed whites, on average, had higher IQs than blacks.  His response was that the answer was irrelevant – i.e., it would not have an effect on policy analysis or decision. 

I feel the same way about comparing the educational achievement of various races and ethnicities.  The fact that Filipinos or Cambodians achieve less than Koreans or Indians is not relevant to public policy.  Kids need to be pushed toward educational achievement regardless of their race or ethnicity.     

Which brings us back to Murdock’s point about the success of Texas depending on the success of Hispanics.  I think Murdock is providing us with irrelevant information.  Texas needs to work toward increased educational scores from all kids, not just Hispanic kids.  San Antonio’s new Pre-K 4 SA program is a good example of that.  Qualification for the program depends on income, not ethnicity.