Thursday, January 31, 2019

America Need More Immigrants? America Does Not Need More Immigrants? That Is The Question!

Proponents of immigration, legal and/or illegal, contend that America needs more immigrants from all walks of life.

We need more hi-tech immigrants to lead the world in innovation.  We need more lo-tech immigrants to do the jobs Americans won’t do.  We need more mid-tech immigrants to fill the service sector jobs that are vacant.  America is suffering from a labor shortage.  The number of posted vacancies exceeds the number of job-lookers.

Two factors are necessary to generate economic growth and a rising standard of living.  One is gains in productivity (innovation).  The other is labor.  Immigrants are necessary to provide labor and some are highly innovative.

Hold on!  Wait just a minute!  Scientists are warning that robots will replace 40% of jobs that humans currently perform in the coming years and decades.  (More on that below.)  If so, then perhaps immigrants should be limited to hi-tech.  But even that claim is dubious.  We can steal hi-tech from China or Russia in areas where they lead America.  Increasing the flow of women and underrepresented minorities into STEM will fuel innovation because Diversity and Inclusion, it is claimed, foster greater excellence in research and education.

Immigrants put pressure on housing prices.  They use more resources in America than in their home countries, which increases waste products, carbon emissions and climate change.

Suppose the forecasts are correct, that robots supplant human workers.  If so, millions of Americans will be unable to earn a living, have little or nothing to do with their time, develop mental disorders from feeling useless, and increasingly depend on public welfare and private charity.  A smaller population will pose fewer problems and lower costs because fewer people will be affected.


First, the benefits of robots.  They do not strike.  They do not demand fringe benefits (health insurance, retirement contributions, education subsidies, etc.).  They do not take time off for vacations, weekends and government holidays.  They do not demand wage increases.  They do not need to sleep.  They do not need to eat.  They do not get angry or surly.  Wow!  What’s not to like?

Robots come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors.  They perform an extraordinary array of functions, some indicated in their names, e.g., chatbots (no nagging or whining), sexbots (never too tired), taxbots (no person-to-person audits), and manufacturing bots (no workplace injuries).

A (Google) search of things robots can do now, and will be able to do in the near future, is amazing.  Here is a partial list, with firms already using some of them and professions where they are becoming more common.  Read here, herehere, and here.

Stockroom Worker (Amazon)
Bartender (Royal Caribbean Cruises)
Soldier (by 3030)
Pharmacist (University of California San Francisco)
Farmer (survey tracts, cut, prune, harvest)
Bomb Squad
Journalist (business journalism reporting facts)
Housekeeper (Roomba Vacuum. Scooba Scrub Floors, gutter cleaning)
Paralegal (document review)
Tellers and Clerks
Car Production (Ford, GM, etc.)
Space Exploration
Remote Surgery and Microsurgery
Duct Cleaning
Crime Fighting
Fix Oil Spills
Investigate Hazardous Equipment
Industrial Welding
Move Heavy Boxes
Mimic Handwriting
Domestic Services
            Make Coffee
            Shave Head
            Robot Pets
            Pooper Scooper
            Cook With Microwave
            Lift Patients
            Chaplain Comforting the Dying
            Patiently Assist Alzheimer Patients with Mild Exercise
Autonomous Vehicles (Cars, Buses, Trams, Trucks, Trains, Flying Taxis)
Competition and Contests
Autonomous Life Forms

Impressive!  In addition, there are likely dozens, perhaps hundreds, of startup robotics in the U.S. and elsewhere.  Robotics is now routinely taught from middle school on.

Hi-tech discovery has already surpassed science fiction in several instances.  Star Trek Captain Kirk’s communicator is a toy compared with the smart phone.  Ditto Dick Tracy’s watch with the smart watch.

Going forward, the challenge will not be finding more workers, but finding things for idle workers to do to and enjoy life, especially as medical advances increase longevity.  More immigrants now to ease temporary labor shortages means a bigger problem later as more and more robots take over producing goods and services.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Diversity, Part 5. The Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How

Part 2 set forth the racial/ethnic categories used by the Census Bureau and universities in the Common Data Set.  These categories are the basis for quantifying the degree of Diversity in universities, and every other social, economic, and political organization.  Including non-Whites, or People of Color, in White groups and women in male groups becomes the measure for quantifying Inclusion.  The pure standard is proportional representation, with some acceptable level of deviation in special circumstances or in cases of common sense.

Let’s begin with Blacks or African-Americans (hereafter Blacks).  A purpose of Diversity and Inclusion is to advance Blacks in all walks of life where they may have been denied opportunity due to past and current discrimination, explicit and implicit racism, and other related factors.  Simply removing obstacles is not sufficient to remedy past wrongdoing.  Equal opportunity requires additional measures to compensate for the less satisfactory (less well-prepared) circumstances in which many Blacks live today.

Are some Blacks more deserving than others?  Perhaps we should distinguish between descendants of slaves brought to the United States against their will and Blacks who voluntarily immigrated from independent African countries or from former or current British colonies and territories in the Caribbean in search of education and economic opportunity in the United States.  Should descendants of American slaves have priority in receiving the benefits of Diversity and Inclusion over recent voluntary immigrants and their children?

If Diversity and Inclusion is intended to level the playing field to compensate for past discrimination, then does giving equal standing to children of voluntary African and British Caribbean Black immigrants dilute its purpose and benefits?

Turning to Hispanics/Latinos, deciding who should be first in line to get slots allocated to increase Diversity and Inclusion is also problematic.  As recently as 1940, only 1.5% of the U.S. population was of Hispanic/Latino origin.  It rose to 19% in 2019 and is projected to rise to 25% in 2040, a seventeen-fold increase in a century.

Should the children of early Hispanic/Latino arrivals receive preference for Diversity and Inclusion over more recent arrivals, especially those of illegal migrants?

Nor have we mentioned arrivals from East and South Asia that make up 5.6% of the population in 2019, a twenty-eight fold increase from 0.2% in 1950.  Asians are voluntary immigrants, save for perhaps those few who were deceptively recruited to work on the railways or brought here with false promises of opportunity.

There are no simple criteria for deciding who among and within the People of Color categories should be at the front of the Diversity and Inclusion line.  But the matter deserves more consideration than it has received to date.  No wonder the fallback position has been to use the broad Census and CDS racial/ethnic categories.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Diversity, Part 4. The Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How

Parts 2 and 3 of this series explored problems of definition and measurement in Diversity.  The definition of a Diverse person is somewhat subject to an arbitrary classification of Identity and measurement of Diversity is subject to the choice of geographical or organizational levels of Diverse groups.

This post considers Diversity and Inclusion by examining Exclusion, that is, which groups can be excluded (granted a waiver or are exempt) from Inclusive membership and which cannot be excluded, that is, must contain members from two or more categories of persons.

The top universities are the vanguard of Diversity and Inclusion.  Their lists of student associations indicate legitimate Exclusion and, by omission, illegitimate Exclusion.

Take Washington University in St. Louis, which, like all other leading private and public universities, emphasizes Diversity and Inclusion (Respect, Equity, Social Justice, etc.) as integral to its educational mission.

A search of student organizations lists 83 that fall in the category of Diversity and Inclusion.  Most are classified by race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, religion, geography, or national origin.  Some have self-explanatory names; others I briefly describe.  Most are single category organizations.  Some are multicategory.  Some that I have not included are substantive, e.g., comic books, positive sex, weekly running club, books and basketball, art for non-artistic students, etc.  Presumably members from any racial, ethnic, gender, sexual preference, religion, nationality, etc. can participate.  I present them in alphabetical order.

Ability:  Furthers Inclusion of Disabled.
African Students Association
Ashoksa:  South Asian Student Association
Asian American Association
Association for Women in Math
Association of Black Students
Association of Latin American Students
Bhakti Yoga Club
Black Anthology:  Black Community
Black Pre-Law Association
Caribbean-American Student Association
Elevate:  Connecting and Empowering Professional Women
Hawaii Club
Hillel Leadership Council
Hindu Students’ Association
Hong Kong Students Association
Japan Peer Network
Lambda Q:  LBGTQIA+
Lunar New Year Festival
Mariachi Cuicacalli:  Latino Music Band
Minorities in Business
Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students
Minority Association of Rising Students
Muslim Students Association
National Black MBA Association
National Organization of Minority Architects, Wash U Student Chapter
National Society of Black Engineers
Orchestrating Diversity
OWN IT:  Wash U:  Women’s Leadership Forum
Pride Alliance
Q.U.E.E.N.S.:  Black Women
Safe Zones:  LGBTQIA+
Sisters of Color:  Women of Color in Sororities
Social Justice Center
Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
Society of Women Engineers
Sur Taal Laya:  South Asian Music in A Capella Groups
Taiwanese Students Organization
Teaching Racial Understanding Through Harmony
Thai Student Association
V-Day:  Blank Monologues:  Violence Against Women
Vietnamese Students Association
Wash U Garba:  Gujerati Indian Dancing
Women in Architecture and Design
Women in Computer Science
Women’s Empowerment in Business
Women’s Panhellenic Association
WU Bhangra:  Annual Divali Show
WU Chaahat:  Diverse Indian Dance Styles
WU for Undergraduate Socio-Economic Diversity
WU Questbridge Scholars Network:  Low-Income First-Generation Students
WU Women in STEM

The following words do not appear anywhere among the 83 student organizations:  White, Caucasian, Male, Men.

Washington University has no, more likely permits no or frowns upon, exclusively White Male Student Associations.  This is the operative principle and practice of Diversity and Inclusion. An all-White Male organization could potentially exist, perhaps a small fraternity, but that would be by happenstance, not by design.  Any all-White Male organization that actively sought to exclude minorities would be shut down and banned from campus.

Student organizations in other categories—Cultural, Political Action, Pre-Professional, Religious and Spiritual, Social Justice—partly overlap with those under Diversity and Inclusion.  Those that do not also exclude any White Male clubs.

Take U.S. News & World Report’s Top 20 Private National Universities, Top 15 Liberal Arts Colleges, and Top 15 Public Universities.  You will not find an Exclusively Male, and especially White Male student organization among them.  If you do, it has probably been overlooked by or hidden from campus administrators and will sooner or later be shut or forced off campus.

We now have a precise definition of Diversity and Inclusion.  No all-White entity can exist.  Every group with Whites must include non-Whites.  Any group of non-Whites need not include Whites.

Put another way, Whites cannot self-segregate.  Whites must be Inclusive.  In contrast, minorities must have the right to integrate and also self-segregate as they wish.  Minorities can be both Inclusive and Exclusive.  Whites must be inclusive.  Women can be Exclusive of men, but also not all-White.

Every university explains this system of student organization as necessary to overcome historical discrimination, explicit or implicit bias, or other factors that denied People of Color equal access and opportunity.

The same principle and practice apply equally to university staff, faculty, and administration.

Group size limits the applicability of Diversity and Inclusion.  A duo or trio cannot be comprehensively Inclusive.  Rural firefighters may live in communities that lack a Diverse population.  Common sense can indicate when an all-White group poses no harm to the promotion of Diversity and Inclusion.

Given these constraints, what are the most effective social, economic and political means to advance Diversity and Inclusion that minimizes costs and disruption.

Before turning to that policy question, it is worthwhile to delve deeper into the application of racial/ethnic categories used in the Census and the Common Data Set to determine which persons in what groups deserve maximum consideration for advancement.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Diversity, Part 3. The Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How

At what level of granularity can we say that Diversity has been achieved, or that we are on the cusp of achieving genuine Diversity.

For the moment, let’s stick with the ethnic and racial categories used by the Census Bureau and higher education’s Common Data Set itemized in Part 2.  We can add in gender, sexual preference, age, socio-economic-status, geography, and other categories at a later time.

Let’s also, for the sake of simplification, use proportional representation among the population at large as the standard for complete or perfect Diversity.  For example, if Blacks or African-Americans (hereafter Blacks) constitute 13% of the population, then full Diversity is achieved when 13% of the population in an organization is Black.  Ditto for other ethnic groups and races.

Diversity is very much akin to the older political issue of segregation/integration, when neighborhoods, schools, and employment patterns were predominantly White or Black, and in a few instances Hispanic.  The challenge then was to integrate schools and end segregated neighborhoods.

How was integration, or progress toward residential integration, to be measured?  By block, subdivision, neighborhood, precinct, census tract, and/or SMSA (Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area)?  How about schools?  By elementary, middle-school and high school, or by the School District at large?  How many Black students had to attend each White school to achieve integration? Should Blacks be allowed to retain historically Black high schools and colleges if that was the overwhelming preference of parents, students, and faculties?  These were highly charged issues and the means chosen to resolve them, such as forced busing, magnet and charter schools, among others, remain controversial.

Back to Diversity?  I have been observing efforts to bring Diversity to universities and colleges for 50 years since my appointment at the University of Rochester in 1968, which was right in the midst of the Black Power Movement.  Let’s think about Diversity in higher education as it applies to students, faculty, staff, Trustees, and top administrators.

Let’s start with undergraduates.  Is the appropriate measure of full Diversity the percentage admission and enrollment of each ethnic/racial category in the population at large for “national universities?”  Should it be the state for state universities? The city/county for local colleges?

Ditto for graduate students, although a substantial number in many schools are foreign nationals, who conveniently pay full fare?  Ditto for each school in a university (Humanities & Sciences, Engineering, Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, Business, Law, Education, and Medicine)?  Ditto for faculty in each school and/or each department within each school?  Ditto for support and administrative staff in each department and school.  Ditto for board of trustees and top administrators (president, provost, deans)?

Many deans of Engineering Schools are making Diversity a priority among students and faculty given the historically low percentage of underrepresented minorities (and women) among their students and faculties.  This specialized emphasis suggests that Diversity should extend deeper into the schools of a university rather than be defined in terms of an overall percentage of underrepresented minorities (and women) in the university as a whole.

The matter of measurement, an agreed-upon numerical scale and the appropriate level (s) to which it applies in any organization, is critical to claims about progress towards Diversity.  To date, measurement has received little consideration in discussions about Diversity.

Let’s go a little further.  Proponents of Diversity claim it is the key to excellence in universities (and other organizations).  If you unaware of their arguments, you will find them in the Diversity and Inclusion sections that are prominently featured in the websites of most universities, businesses, non-profit organizations, and public agencies in the United States

A growing number of top officials in universities claim that their schools might not be viable several decades from now if they fail to achieve comprehensive Diversity.  How can universities survive 20-30 years from now, especially in the West and Southwest, with 80-90% White and 70-80% male faculty, when Hispanics will be an absolute majority and women 60% of undergraduate and graduate enrollment.  Whites, for their part, will decline to only 30% of the population in the West and Southwest.  Whites were only 20% and males only 40% in the first-year class of 2018-19 at UCLA.  Diversity implies that student and faculty ethnic/racial (and women) percentages should approximately, or at least more closely, align.

Are there circumstances in which the pursuit of Diversity is wrong?  In professional and collegiate sports, skills dictate the selection of players (e.g., basketball players are mostly Black and hockey players almost entirely White).  Same for the selection of subjects for medical trials of drugs to treat diseases that disproportionately or exclusively afflict different ethnic, racial, nationality, and gender groups.

Is it necessary to be Black to do Black studies and Female to do Feminist studies?  Can an all-Chinese cast perform Porgy and Bess?  Must the Beach Boys include a female member?  Can an A Capella group be solely male?  Are these acceptable exclusions from Diversity? 

There are indeed activities where it makes sense to grant waivers or exemptions from Diversity.  Perhaps experts from many backgrounds and fields should try to develop lists of activities that qualify for waivers or exemptions.  That is, begin by identifying principles and examples of Exclusion to determine what can and should be Diversity and Inclusion.

The next post will address these questions, starting from the bottom up with groups that should be excluded from Diversity to identifying groups that should be included.  Then we have to develop a consensus on measurement to quantify Diversity and Inclusion.  What should be the allowable plus/minus variation from proportional representation in any organization and at all its levels?

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Diversity, Part 2: The Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How

Who are we talking about in the name of Diversity?  How can we  know the extent of Diversity in meeting goals to increase Diversity unless we know who qualifies as Diverse?

Let’s begin with the simplest categories used by the U.S. Bureau of the Census.  The broad categories used in the 2010 Census, expected to be the same in 2020, are as follows:

White (non-Hispanic White)
Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish
Black or African American
American Indian or Alaska Native
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific islands
Some Other Race or Ethnicity (presumably includes mixed of two or more races)

Within each category are subcategories that specify country of origin.  For example, under Whites, specific countries include German, Italian, Irish, Polish, English, French, and a blank space in which to write another country, e.g., Swedish, etc.  The six listed are the most numerous.  Under Asians are Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Asian Indian, Japanese, and a blank space to enter another country.  So, too, for Black or African American, and Hispanic, Latino or Spanish.

Going further, immigration data are broken down into every country from which immigrants arrive.  For example, 23 countries are listed from the Americas, of which 18 are Spanish speaking, thus Hispanic.  So, too, are immigrants from Europe, Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa, Australasia and Oceania.

On the country level of race and ethnicity, there are well over a hundred subcategories.  If tribe and language are included, the number of subcategories increases by hundreds more.  Religion adds in more.

Universities and colleges use broad Census Bureau categories to report Diversity among students, staff, and faculty on a form known as the Common Data Set.  The CDS is a collaborative effort among data providers in the higher education community and publishers as represented by the College Board, Peterson’s, and U.S. News &World Report.  Its purpose is to provide accurate and timely data on 10 categories to students and their families who are applying to specific college(s) or university (ies) to make informed judgments on selectivity, admission requirements, affordability, financial aid, and other aspects of higher education.

Section B2 reports enrollment by Racial/Ethnic Category on enrolled first-year students and all undergraduates.  The categories are:

Nonresident aliens (no specific race/ethnicity of this category is reported)
Black or African American, non-Hispanic
White, non-Hispanic
American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic
Two or more races, non-Hispanic
Race and/or ethnicity unknown

Universities also report the percentage of First-Generation, Low-Income undergraduates they enroll, but do not list their racial/ethnic categories.

Some small colleges enroll as few as 250-300 students in their first-year class, which is less than the number of subcategories.  Even first-year classes of several thousand would find it impossible to accurately represent hundreds of subcategories.

No reasonably useful or practical measure of Diversity on the basis of hundreds of distinct subcategories could possibly be used as a policy guide in achieving a target level of Diversity in any organization or institution.  Practical considerations dictate a manageable number of categories, but any number chosen is arbitrary, however carefully designed to be fair.  It must treat unfavorably some subcategories that are grossly underrepresented for historical reasons.

Efforts are ongoing to increase the number of racial/ethnic categories in the decennial Census.  Some want the Census to count Middle East and North Africa as a separate category.  Or West/Central Middle East.  Or Sub-Saharan Africa.  Presumably universities, along with public and private enterprises, would follow suit.

Let’s complicate the story even further.  Who is Hispanic?  Consider a hypothetical case of two sets of identical twins born and raised in Spain, who marry each other.  One couple immigrates to the United states, the other to Mexico.  The children of the U.S. couple, who speak no Spanish and have never lived in a Central or South American country, are designated White in the Census.  The children of the Mexican couple, who subsequently move to the United States, are designated Hispanic.

Ditto for similar couples born and raised in Portugal.  Their children of the Portuguese couple who moved to Brazil are Latino if born in Brazil and thus eligible for Latino preference, but White and ineligible if born in the U.S. because their parents moved to the U.S. 

There is one broad category that many organizations, especially universities and colleges, agree on:  people of color (POC), or non-Hispanic White (hereafter White).  POC runs the gamut from below-poverty level Blacks and Hispanics to upper-income East and South Asians.  They have little in common apart from not being White.  For universities obsessed with Diversity, increasing POC for all non-White categories allows them to claim that they are no long racist institutions.  Universities that achieve 25% Hispanic/Latino/LatinX enrollment are eligible for extra federal funding.  Every University of California campus below 25% Hispanic is racing to meet the 25% level, largely by reducing White enrollment.

To summarize, there is a large degree of arbitrariness in the racial/ethnic classification of American residents, which means that any descriptive statistics on Diversity are somewhat arbitrary.