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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.

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Right-Wing Think Tank's Racist Report Distorts Prospects for Immigrants' Future

May 16, 2013 ·

A study by the Heritage Foundation maintained that Hispanic immigrants are deficient in I.Q. and thus disposed to rely on "government handouts."

Jason Richwine, who just resigned from the Heritage Foundation.In 2007 the Heritage Foundation played a major role in derailing immigration reform. This year it tried to replicate its success by publishing a study claiming that unlawful immigration and amnesty would cost U.S. tax payers approximately $6.3 trillion dollars. However, their ploy to sabotage immigration reform failed in dramatic fashion. Not only were their exaggerated estimates on the cost of amnesty resoundingly refuted by both conservative and liberal groups, but their entire report appeared to hinge on a premise that reeked of racism.

According to the Heritage Foundation’s study, one of the primary reasons immigration reform would cost so much is that a typical undocumented immigrant lacks adequate education. And poorly educated individuals, according to the study, “are net tax consumers: the benefits they receive exceed the taxes they pay.”

This notion of the undocumented being “poorly educated” comes directly from Jason Richwine, one of the coauthors of the study. Richwine got his Ph.D. in public policy from Harvard University, where he wrote a dissertation titled IQ and Immigration Policy. In it he claims that Hispanics have on average lower IQs than their Caucasian counterparts. Moreover, he writes, “[n]o one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.” In other words, Hispanics will probably never be as smart as white people.

Richwine goes on to say that the IQ disparity between the two races explains why Hispanics have never been able to fully assimilate into American culture and why they are more likely to accept government handouts: “When given the choice between a paycheck from a low-paying job and a welfare check, most intelligent people would realize that the welfare check offers them no potential for advancement. Low-IQ people do not internalize that fact nearly as well.”

There you have it: Hispanics are dumb. Dumb people rely more on government handouts. Therefore, Hispanics will use more government handouts than the average citizen and as a result they will drain the government of its resources. Keep them out!

To the Heritage Foundation’s credit, it is a straightforward argument.

Nevertheless, the argument is horribly flawed. This year Hispanic high school graduates enrolled in college at higher rates than whites. There is a substantial income gap between whites and Hispanics, but each successive generation of Hispanics continues to narrow this gap. No to mention the fact that Hispanics have served in almost every U.S. war and have received 44 Medals of Honor, the third most for any ethnic group. Not bad for a people who failed to “assimilate.”

Despite the fact that the Heritage Foundation’s study is faulty at best and racist at worst, it’s still hugely informative. The study offers a genuine glimpse of what many, especially on the right, think about Hispanics. Many Hispanics, including this writer, have generally felt that opposition to immigration reform does not stem from some intellectual argument, but from visceral emotions driven by xenophobia. The study produced by the Heritage Foundation has proven this point to be correct.

Luckily, the Heritage Foundation is in the minority. According to a CNN/ORC international survey, 84% percent of Americans support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants

America is known as the melting pot of the world. Immigrants from across the globe call this place their home. The notion pushed by the Heritage Foundation that Hispanic immigrants need to assimilate is not only paradoxical but also deeply offensive. America is a country that embraces immigrants and all the diversity that comes with them; it doesn’t assimilate them into a homogenous stew. E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one. Most Americans seem to understand this, even if the Heritage Foundation does not.

Javier Rojo is the New Mexico Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.


This Week in OtherWords: May 15, 2013

May 15, 2013 ·

This week in OtherWords, Jill Richardson warns readers gearing up for their summer barbecues about the rise of superbugs. Those antibiotic-resistant bacteria are getting hard to avoid if you buy meat in American supermarkets.

We also have an op-ed by Raul A. Reyes on the Heritage Foundation's ill-fated report that was supposed to pinpoint the high cost of giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. As Reyes explains, this "study" instead exposed the think tank's shoddy research standards and the racist outlook of one of its lead authors.

OtherWords normally releases all our newsroom-ready commentaries on Wednesday mornings, but we make exceptions for work tied to breaking news. Following the resignation of disgraced report co-author Jason Richwine, we ran this op-ed on Saturday instead. We're increasingly tinkering with our timing, so please visit our website more often. When you do, be sure to check out our blog, where we offer bonus commentaries by Jim Hightower. This week, we're featuring our columnist's hilarious salute to Rep. Louie Gohmert and other political "nincompoops."

Here's a clickable summary of all our latest commentaries and a link to our new cartoon. If you haven't already subscribed to our weekly newsletter, please do.

  1. The Swinging Electorate / Marc Morial
    Despite formidable efforts to disenfranchise African Americans in 2012, a larger percentage of black voters than white voters turned out at the polls to assure Obama's victory on Election Day.
  2. License to Kill / David Reingold
    Without environmental regulations, many companies would gladly poison you to earn bigger profits.
  3. No Junior Partner / Jess Hunter-Bowman
    Could someone please tell Secretary Kerry that Latin America is no longer our "backyard"?
  4. Heritage’s Immigration Nightmare / Raul A. Reyes
    If the conservative think tank's intent was to derail immigration reform, that's a losing battle.
  5. Uncle Sam: Please Tax the Titans / Donald Kaul
    Don't ask me what a hedge fund is — if I knew, I'd manage one.
  6. A Primer for Taming Corporate Power / Sam Pizzigati
    For social change, slow and steady may win the race.
  7. Those Uninvited Guests at Your Barbecue / Jill Richardson
    With most samples of several common store-bought meats testing positive for antibiotic-resistant "superbugs," factory farming practices must change.
  8. The Parched Truth About American Jobs / Jim Hightower
    The recent good news about job creation obscures the bad news facing the nation's middle class.
  9. Don’t Fence Me In / William A. Collins
    The prosperous are further isolating themselves physically, as well as economically, from the rest of us.
  10. Superbugs at the Supermarket / Khalil Bendib cartoon

Superbugs at the Supermarket, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

This Week in OtherWords: May 8, 2013

May 8, 2013 ·

This week in OtherWords, Jason Salzman makes the case against the Koch brothers’ potential purchase of the Los Angeles Times and other Tribune Media newspapers while Jim Hightower weighs in on the larger context behind the recent garment worker tragedy in Bangladesh.

Here’s a clickable summary of all our latest commentaries and a link to our new cartoon. If you haven’t already subscribed to our weekly newsletter, please do.

  1. Turning Journalism into a Joke / Jason Salzman
    Obama’s serious comments about the value of journalism stand out as the Koch brothers consider buying the Los Angeles Times.
  2. Ohio’s Poorly Performing School Assessment / Chris Schillig
    Test scores don’t tell the whole story.
  3. Fighting the Foodopoly / Wenonah Hauter
    Only four gigantic companies process 80 percent of the beef we eat.
  4. Middle Eastern Re-Run / Donald Kaul
    Unless you have something better that can replace a brutal regime like Assad’s government in Syria, what can you accomplish with military intervention?
  5. How We Pay for CEO ‘Performance’ / Sam Pizzigati
    A gaping tax loophole pads executive pay and the federal debt.
  6. Hollow Bee Hives May Threaten Our Lives Too / Jill Richardson
    The United States should follow Europe’s example and ban pesticides that may be wiping out these key pollinators.
  7. Fashion Victims / Jim Hightower
    The gravitational pull of corporate greed makes clothing factories prone to disasters like the recent tragedy in Bangladesh.
  8. Our Stake in Guatemala’s Genocide Trial / Emily Schwartz Greco and William A. Collins
    Thirty years after Ríos Montt’s atrocities, U.S. military policy in Latin America remains a human rights disaster.
  9. Made in Bangladesh / Khalil Bendib cartoon

Made in Bangladesh, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

Venezuela's Presidential Elections: The Battle Continues

May 3, 2013 ·

Increasingly violent challenges to the legitimacy of the recent Venezuelan presidential elections have resulted in 7 deaths and 61 injuries since the April 14th election.

The “stolen votes” claimed by narrowly defeated opposition leader Henrique Capriles and his supporters as the reason behind (and excuse for) their encouragement of the deadly protests have no discernible factual basis, yet the United States continues to back Capriles in hopes that he will unseat Maduro and put an end to Chavismo.

Event panelistsOn April 22, 2013, at the Institute for Policy Studies, official election observers Alex Main of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Dan Kovalik of the National Lawyers Guild described their personal encounters with the reliability of the sophisticated Venezuelan election system – and with the persistence of anti-leftist U.S. interference in Latin America. The discussion between Main, Kovalik, and a diverse 30-person audience composed of community members, government officials, policy analysts, and students produced several key insights, all of which are conspicuously absent from the narrative constructed by Capriles-leaning mainstream U.S. news sources:

Venezuela’s election system is excellent.

Last year, Jimmy Carter described the Venezuelan election system as “the best in the world” for its multiple layers of safeguards against error and election-rigging. Venezuelan voters register at polling stations by thumbprint, cast their ballots electronically, and then receive a paper receipt listing the name of the candidate for whom they voted. Before leaving the polling station, voters must leave the paper receipt in a designated box.

54% of polling stations then undergo an auditing process, during which these paper receipts are separated by candidate, counted by hand, re-counted, and then checked against the electronic polling results. This 54% audit has already been completed for the April 14th elections.

Further legitimizing the results produced by the well-honed election process is the remarkably high voter turnout: an impressive 79% of the eligible voting population cast ballots in the 2013 Venezuelan presidential election.

The oppositions’ claims of fraud are blatantly fictitious.

During the IPS presentation, Main described how Capriles supporters have published pictures Audienceof sealed ballot-receipt boxes from past elections being destroyed, claiming they are un-audited boxes from this election.

Main also noted the sudden spurt of destructive attacks on health clinics by the opposition after false but widely circulated rumors suggested ballot-receipt boxes were being horded in the buildings to prevent the completion of a 100% audit.

A report released Saturday by Venezuela's National Electoral Council dismisses all of Capriles' claims as false, and notes that "there is no single record of irregularities in the signed records that were endorsed by all witnesses."

The U.S. call for a re-count builds upon decades of anti-leftist U.S. meddling in Latin American affairs.

Maduro’s victory represents a continuation of Chavez’s leftist administration – and chavismo represents the liberation of Venezuela from U.S. dominance. The United States’ support for Capriles, and its refusal to recognize the reliability of Venezuela’s lauded election system, is a bold-faced display of its willingness to re-establish American influence in the United States’ “backyard”, as Secretary John Kerry recently – and tellingly – referred to Latin America.

The slim margin by which Maduro won the Venezuelan presidency highlights intensifying ideological divisions within the country. But whether Maduro will be able to maintain political continuity as Chavez’s standard-bearer is a question to be decided within Venezuela’s own borders, by its own highly reliable electoral system – and not by U.S. interference.

Listen to the opening presentations.

This Week in OtherWords: May 1, 2013

May 1, 2013 ·

This week in OtherWords, Jo Comerford and Donald Kaul weigh in on the government's reversal of sequester-driven cuts that inconvenienced air travelers as other budget woes hurt children, the elderly, and the unemployed.

Below, you'll find a clickable summary of all our latest commentaries and a link to our new cartoon. Be sure to visit our blog, where we've been running bonus Jim Hightower commentaries. This week, you can catch his views on George W. Bush's shiny new library.

If you haven't already subscribed to our weekly newsletter, please do.

  1. The Internet Racket / Timothy Karr
    Phone and cable providers are reaping obscene profit margins from their dominance of the Internet market.
  2. The Path We Should Follow after Syria Crosses the Red Line / Don Kraus
    Working closely with the United Nations could help Obama avoid the horrendous mistakes Bush and Clinton made.
  3. Banking on the Poor / Andrew Korfhage
    Payday borrowers are trapped in a spiral of revolving loans and compounding penalties.
  4. Useless Baggage / Jo Comerford
    With their big fuss over aviation punctuality, lawmakers make it clear that they're not feeling the pain felt by the majority of Americans.
  5. Flying Over an Act of Monumental Stupidity / Donald Kaul
    The great victims of this sequester will be our children, the unemployed, the poor and the elderly — all groups with feeble lobbies or no lobbies at all.
  6. Austerity Will Leave Us Crying ’96 Tears’ / Sam Pizzigati
    But America's wealthy don't seem to mind.
  7. A Parenting Priority / Jill Richardson
    Even when the kids complain, you're doing right by them when you cook dinner and eat together.
  8. Narco-State Building / Jim Hightower
    After 11 years of U.S. military operations, Afghanistan produces 90 percent of the world's poppies and 75 percent of the planet's heroin.
  9. The War on Sex / William A. Collins
    Despite declines in teen pregnancy and abortion rates, some conservatives aren't ready to celebrate.
  10. Obama and the Red Line  / Khalil Bendib Cartoon

     Obama and the Red Line, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib
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