Some fun with numbers

Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Since Alfred E. Einstone just announced that he has developed two key technologies which will solve the United States' illegal immigration problem without fuss or bother in a mere 72 hours (what, you didn't see the announcement - don't you get Yahoo headlines?), I thought it might be fun to play with some numbers.

But first it is only fair to mention the incredible inventions Dr. Einstone just announced.

The first is an incredible new fence building technology. Dr. Einstone's fence invention can build an impervious fence along the entire US border with Mexico in 72 hours using material sucked up from the ground on site - sand, trash, cactus, weeds, whatever. It cannot be climbed, cut through, or dug under. And it costs only $1M/mile. Congress expects to approve the funds by tonight, and the fence can be in place, complete, not later than midnight on Sunday.

The second invention is even more miraculous. Dr. Einstone invented an 100% infallible illegal immigrant detector and transporter. From a central location such as Hays, KS Dr. Einstone's machine can detect and transport (up to 12,000 miles!) as many as four million illegal immigrants per 24 hours at a cost of a mere $100 per illegal immigrant. The most obvious destination for transport is Mexico City. Congress expects to approve the funds by tonight and Dr. Einstone guaranteed that he could have as many as 12 million illegal immigrants detected and transported to Mexico City, complete and unharmed, by not later than midnight on Sunday.

Oh Happy Days! For a piddling $13.4B (1.4 for the fence, 12 for the detection and transport), the US can be free of this crushing problem forever. Gone and back where they belong. Alfred E. Einstone '08!

OK, back to fun with numbers. Using this USA Today article and grokking around for a few state populations, here's what we're looking at for our fresh start on Monday morning:

- 6.5% of the people in California gone. 36.8M people, 2.4M illegals
- 4.6% of the people in North Carolina gone. 8.45M people, 0.39M illegals

- 29 percent of agricultural workers and 29 percent of roofers

You want your cotton picked, your fruit basketted, or Katrina ravaged roof repaired, oh well, it'll have to wait.

There are some other numbers I have no idea how to have fun with. Like, what happens to the CA rental housing market when 2.4 million people disappear? It'll put a dent in the affordable housing problem, that's fersure.

I figure we'll have the abandoned cars towed away as soon as we find some tow truck drivers. I hope not too many folks actually needed those appliances they figured were being delivered next week. No doubt unemployed CA school teachers will make fine Gulf Coast roofers and Simi grape pickers. And heck, what with all the suddenly available rental properties going for a song it's not big deal if a few tens of thousands of folks have to wait another few months or so for their new homes to get framed out.


Fresh Air said...

Damn hard to get a burrito at the 24-hour taqueria on North Clark Street in Chicago, too.

Knucklehead said...

You don't need no steenking burrito!

The shop will lie fallow for a couple years, help drive commercial rents down, it's all good. You're gonna love it. Go to Wendy's, have a chicken sammich. Oh, well, not if you're in Nawlins. Apparently they could only find Mexicans despite the increased pay, benefits, and bonuses.

You don't need no steenking chicken sammich either.

terrye said...

It seems there is a lot more heat than light surrounding this issue. There is fear mongering, there is posturing, there is preening, there is hysteria, there is election year campaining....but there are not enough realistic solutions. I thank Dr. Einstone for coming up with an answer to our problem. Our microwave society can not stand long term solutions.

Just the other day I looked in on polipundit and the natives were restless. One guy said he wished we had a real conservative in the White House like Reagan, who would fix this. Well, I am not trashing Ronald Reagan here, but if I remember correctly back in the 80's he signed an immigration reform act that actually did include blanket amnesty. How soon they forget.

When I quit smoking I began to spend more time on the computer, to distract myself...that meant more time on my ass. Next thing you know I had gained over 20 pounds. I was shocked, disgusted, amazed and outraged. How could this have happened? Where did my big ass come from? Not from my eating habits, surely.

People are reacting to this issue much the same way. It took years to get where we are, it might take years to bring about real reform, and we let it happen.

But until Scotty finds a way to beam those folks over the border and then put up a force shield to keep them there...I am afraid we have to depend on a more sedate and far less exciting course of action.

Rick Ballard said...

I finally found the actual statute regarding illegal entry. It's a Class B misdemeanor (based upon the six month maximum sentence, so the maximum fine would be $5,000.

I also took a look at the immigration legislation now before our most august Congressional Clown Corps. The amount of bafflegab used in the bill suggests a high degree of artistry being employed in the tatting surrounding the loopholes being enacted.

It does take a real buffoon to do a buffoon's job - good to see we're not lacking for them in the Senate.

terrye said...


I wonder if they will just put all the plans together and try to come up with a consensus.

Back when my people came here, you just got off the boat, and voila! you were ok fine. No real rules or anything, not by today's standards.

Skookumchuk said...


Back when my people came here, you just got off the boat, and voila! you were ok fine.

It is interesting for me to compare the experiences of my Scots-Irish paternal side of the family, which split with half going to Canada and half to the US, with my maternal Hispanic side, who also came to the US. Everybody who ended up here (all from about 1900 to about 1960) is thoroughly American and homogenized on both sides.

On the other hand, the folks on my Dad's side living in a tiny farming community on the Canadian Prairie have Irish accents that make them sound right off the boat.

Rick Ballard said...

I doubt they will come to a consensus but they will definitely come to a compromise - another series of loopholes with ten thousand words nicely arranged around each one. Everyone will point to one or two sentences purporting to "deal with the problem" and nothing at all will change.

America goes through nativist surges every now and again and sometimes immigration slows for a bit. Skook's comment on the other thread is on the mark - until the schools give up the mosaic and return to the melting pot most Americans aren't going to be happy at all about immigration - legal or not.

Skookumchuk said...

The nice thing about being a Scots-Irish Hispanic is that you are sort of expected to be in a perpetual stew. And it's OK.

Seneca the Younger said...

Skook, I'd worry about the corned beef burritos, though.

Skookumchuk said...


A corned beef burrito, if done right, might have promise. Having grown up in LA when it was a true melting pot instead of a PC-driven Balkans On The Pacific (from which I escaped after college), I remember a little shack on, I think, La Brea: Home of the Teriyaki Taco. They were delicious.

terrye said...

Hell I am such a mutt. I have ancestors who walked the Trail of Tears, were in the Revolutionary War, the war of 1812, the Civil War, the 89er Runs in Oklahoma and of course WW2 and Viet Nam and Korea. The ones who were not already here were from England, Ireland and Germany.

But you know how it is if you go back far enough you are related to everyone it seems.

I think they might do a better job of closing the borders, and if they can make money off these people they might make them pay fines. I would not be surprised to see some kind of ID to track them too.

Malkin has found a pic with an upside down American flag and of course she is whipping up the base into a frenzy.I have seen far worse on the IU campus from natives.

Maybe it is just me, maybe I spend too much time doing this kind of thing, but she is really starting to get on my nerves.

I would hate to see the Democrats win the White House with this war on... but I really think that some people on the right are making that more likely not less with all this incessant bitching and moaning and pissing around about every freaking thing.

end of rant. maybe.

flenser said...

Why, suh, it is an outrage to even consider outlawing slavery! Who will then pick our tobacco and cotton? Our entire economy will be destroyed!!

The fact that many of our fellow Americans are hooked on their supply of cheap, obediant, docile labor like a junkie on smack does not make it it a good idea.

As with slavery, the bill can be paid now, or paid down the road with steep interest.

The problem is not going to magically become more tractable when the illegal's make up twenty percent of the population.

terrye said...

I still do not know what it is that some people want...are we supposed to shoot all these Mexicans? Lay land mines at the border? I hear a lot of screaming but as a general rule the ones making the most noise do not bother to join the debate in any meaningful way. They just insult people and bitch a lot.

And they assume that anyone who does not mindlessly go along with the current screach fest is for open borders and illegal immigration. I know I am not, but I don't expect Scotty to beam these folks over to Mexico city and put up a force shield to keep them there either.

How about a rational solution that takes into account what is and is not possible? What about the kids who were born here? What do we do with them? What about the jobs, who will do them? Just rational answers to rational questions.

Too much to ask I guess.

CF said...

Almost all my household cleaning,gardening,maintenance and repair work in now done by immigrants but they are legal and run their own businesses. (Well, my arborist,the irrigation guy and and pool guy are native born)

In part, it is because vocational training is verbotin. We spend tens of thousands of dollars per child pretending they are college material only to have them drop out, flunk out, or graduate with no skills and not a good enough foundation to attend college.(My pool guy , a wonderful man,helps train young Black kids in his neighborhood to do the work. No one else bothers.)

terrye said...


If people want work, they should learn to be plumbers. The world will always need plumbers.

Knucklehead said...


In my neck of the woods we're begging for tradesmen. Plumbers, electricians, generalist fixers of things. If you have a small job you either have to pay through the nose, and wait a good while, or learn enough of the craft to do an amatuerish job of it for yourself.

The folks demanding a "SOLUTION, MY SOLUTION, AND NOW!" aren't interested in hearing about what it would take to accomplish even a portion of what they want. They don't want to think about what it would require to round up even a million people, let alone ten millions, and process and deport them. They just don't want to hear it.

Same with the ports people, the stop terrorism people, the free medical care for all people...


Regarding those legal immigrants doing the various labor sorts of small businesses... do you have any way to know that they don't hire illegals to do the actual work?

The summary of the legislation that Rick pointed to above (or in another thread - I've lost track) is interesting reading. There's a clause in there about making it a crime to so much as REFER a person for some job without verifying their status. This nonsense is talking about criminalizing people who so much as refer people who've committed a class B misdemeanor.

What a bunch of bufoons - maroons, the whole lot of them.

Knucklehead said...


Re: the mutt stuff. I come from a similar line although I have no known aboriginal blood. My line, however, on the paternal side, has deep and die hard libertarian roots - fight for anything that is yours and for nothing that isn't. My paternal ancestors would have each fought a brigade of regulars to resist fighting in "somebody else's war". My dad had a nasty and long lived split with my grandad over joining up to fight in WWII. My dad insisted there were things in this world, other than our own little 160 acres, that needed to be fought for.

If you want to imagine my paternal grandfather, imagine Jimmie Stewart's character in Shenandoah. Update him to a human lifetime later in time, rough all the edges, put the bible in his hands rather than his departed wife's hands, and place him much deeper down south, and you got my granddaddy. There wasn't a thing in this world he was afraid of except this world.

Rick Ballard said...


If you want to have fun with some numbers, try the INS Yearbook. We are currently tossing out illegals at the rate of 1.2M annually versus 1.45 through the '90's. The INS best guess on the number of illegals in 2000 was 7M of which about 5.5M had arrived in the '90's and not been caught. If the the entrant and catch ratio remained the same from '01 through '05 then the current illegal population is under 10M rather than over 12M.

thibaud said...

The % of Calif public schoolchildren who test at or above Proficiency would double overnight. Here are the scary numbers, courtesy of the State of California's "STAR" website that breaks out its test result data according to ethnicity (click on Group" and select "Ethnicity," then click on "Sub-group" and select "Hispanic or Latino").

A summary:
% of schoolchildren children testing Below Proficiency
in "English-language Arts"
Hispanic/Latino 78% (grade 2), 83% (grade 11)
Chinese 29% (grade 2), 42% (grade 11)
White 47% (grade 2), 54% (grade 11)

Below Proficiency in Mathematics:
Hispanic/Latino: 61% (grade 2), 82% (grade 7)
Chinese: 15% (grade 2), 21% (grade 7)
White: 33% (grade 2), 53% (grade 7)

Total # of schoolchildren tested in Calif schools (grades 2-11): 4.8 million, of which 2.2 million are "Hispanic or Latino"

Q: Why is this nation deliberately importing a semi-literate proletariat? Is it really worth destroying what's left of the public schools in order to ensure native-born teenagers need not cut our lawns or do housework?

thibaud said...

Re. the Calif test scores, a few observations:

1) the "Proficiency" % doesn't increase for any ethnic group as kids grow older, but one would expect latino kids to buck this trend *if* English-language skills were the barrier, not the culture of the home or their parents' attitudes toward education. That scores continue to be dismal for hte latinos all the way from grade 2 through grade 11 suggests that the problem is far more fundamental than bilingualism.

2) latinos' % of the school population overall rises steadily from grade 11 to grade 2. The trend would indicate that if latinos now constitute ~45% of schoolkids in Calif, they will easily be north of 50% in a few years and close to 60% within a decade or so.

3) given #2, and barring any change in the educational background or attitude toward education of the latino parents who come to California, the Calif public schools are likely caught in a death spiral in which already-low performance will go even lower as the schools become essentially a dumping ground for campesinos' kids.

Is anyone paying attention to this? With all the blather about hte importance of the schools to a 21c economy, why are we filling those schools with the children of people who are stuck in 19c, unskilled laborer mode?

MeaninglessHotAir said...


What jumps out at me from your figures is that in every racial/ethnic group the performance declines markedly with age.

By grade 11, 42% of the Chinese kids are failing to be proficient?!. A school system anywhere in the world that causes 42% of the Chinese kids to fail is by definition a disaster.

terrye said...


Maybe that is why bush wanted the NCLB act to be used in high schools too. Considering the size of the schools out there it is not so surprising. Lots of gangs, lots of kids, lots of violence, who has time for education?

Knucklehead said...

So much to respond to... where to start.

Regarding educational proficiency, it is very difficult to know what is actually being measured, or what the measurements are telling us - at least in a societal sense.

Teaching in the American version of the "areas of difficulty" is not something many folks view as an attractive career choice. Take a look at programs such as Teach for America. This sort of thing (but not this particular organization) has been going on for quite a long time. The plain, painful fact of the matter is that we don't exactly have the most capable teaching resources where the proficiency testing shows the lowest scores.

Another factor at work is that for people to board the educational bandwagon they must see education as valuable. One of our "national myths" is that placing high value on formal education is an "tradition" or somesuch in the US.

Clearly we have a long history of public education but that's not identical to widespread acceptance of educational accomplishment, or at least longevity attending schools. As short a time ago (in social terms) as my parent's generation the nation struggled to achieve 50% HS graduation rates. It is certainly possible that a 10th grade education back then was more rigorous and preparatory than a 12th grade education is today, but that doesn't change the fact that based upon need and/or overall sense of the value of higher education, people didn't generally go to school into their adulthood.

This "cultural value" placed upon higher education is barely into its second generation here in the US. And in sections of the US it is still barely scratching into that second generation. In the world of my father's childhood graduating from HS was more unusual than not. None of his parent's siblings had done so, none of his siblings did so, and even a fair portion of his neices and nephews did not. Large swaths of Americans who were well beyond any consideration as "immigrants" placed little pragmatic value upon education beyond basic reading, writing, and 'rithmetic.

To expect a rapid, single generation, recognition of the value of educational proficiency from people arrived from Mexico, where conditions are clearly bad enough to drive a remarkable portion of the population to head head to Gringoland, seems a bit, ummmm... optimistic.

Myown anecdotal observation suggests there is no reason to believe Mexicans are not educable. My two most recent forays to procure materials and information to do some home improvement projects were both attended by what I am nearly positive were Mexican immigrants. I imagine they were the legalized sorts but I have no way to know that.

In both cases the information transfer was more than I'd hoped for and well organized and presented. They knew what they were talking about and they were more than adequate in presentation. All I had to do was listen through slight Mexican accents. I've seen numerous other examples of this including, but not limited to, the children next door who speak English as well as any other children I encounter and skip off to school in the mornings somewhat more energetically than seems typical. While I've neglected to request that their parents produce documentation to provie it, I'm reasonably certain they are legalized immigrants.

Suffice to say that the pursuit of education beyond the basics requires "buyin" from the public and that buyin is a relatively recent phenomenon even here in the US and is not at all as universally accepted here as we'd like to believe. There seems to even be some suggestion that we might be witnessing a small trend toward rejection of higher education as inherently valuable among adolescent males in the US.

Flens, comeon, drop the slavery and evil, savage capitalist exploitation stuff. In the days of slaves picking our tabacco and cotton I doubt there was a single example of an African willingly climbing aboard a slaver with the idea of getting a job he couldn't get at home. When the British decided to start using their navy to try to end the slave transports, which would in your analogy be vaguely equivalent to our attempts to try and stop the traffic coming across the borders, no Africans were climbing aboard the slaver and handing the captain the fee for trying to evade the blockade and get them to the cotton, tobacco, or cane fields.

When the slaves "went" to work they weren't paid, they had no options whatsoever regarding where or for whom they worked, they didn't send money home to support the family they left behind, and they had no hope of either returning or elevating their status.

This isn't Andrew Carnegie stuffing his steel mills and coal mines with immigrants and breaking the back of any unionization effort. The "early adopters" of cheap Mexican laborers may well have been exploiting the situation for their own greedy competitive and economic advantages but over the years this has largely transformed into a simple matter of small, minisculely capitalized businesses reacting to the realities of the world around them.

There are probably some who Simon Legree at heart but for the most part they are perfectly ordinary people trying to make a living. The engine of US economic growth, almost certainly to the full degree that it exceeds European levels of growth, is precisely those people. We'd all be well advised to think long and hard before we decide to start villifying and punishing large numbers of them for "creating" the illegal immigration mess. They didn't create the mess (any more than the immigrants themselves "created" it) - a couple centuries of crappy Mexican governments created it and the US government failed to stop it from infecting us.

Demanding the baby be thrown out with the bath water is hardly a sensible way to proceed.

thibaud said...

Knuck - wise and sensible words, but how many generations will it take? I had always been a reliable champion of all immigration, not least because the immigrants tend to be the most courageous, enterprising, in short the best, of their homeland, and also because, well, it's always produced great benefits.

But one thing has caused me a great deal of anxiety: I'n now a parent who's looking at relocating for work back to Silicon Valley, and I simply cannot place my children in schools where more than half of the kids are nowhere near proficiency and not going to close the gap anytime soon. I will not sacrifice my kids' one and only shot at a good education for the sake of my political beliefs on this issue.

My only solution is to try to make as much money as I can and hope that I can afford the Harker School ($25k per yr) in several years. Second-best is one of the San Jose charter schools.

What would you do?


Rick Ballard said...


Go back to the Star site select Santa Cruz County and Scotts Valley Unified - 80% white with good scores.

Here is the census data.

I don't know if you're familiar with the town but it's a pretty nice place. Half an hour from San Jose/Santa Clara (depending upon traffic) and a little less from the beach at Santa Cruz.