Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Here We Go Again

Whatever the judge decides in the Dover trial it's clear that Intelligent Design won't be going away any time soon. Here's a couple of excerpts from an article on the mischief ID subversives are up to in Kansas:

TOPEKA, Kan., Nov. 8 -- The Kansas Board of Education voted Tuesday that students will be expected to study doubts about modern Darwinian theory, a move that defied the nation's scientific establishment even as it gave voice to religious conservatives and others who question the theory of evolution.

By a 6 to 4 vote that supporters cheered as a victory for free speech and opponents denounced as shabby politics and worse science, the board said high school students should be told that aspects of widely accepted evolutionary theory are controversial. Among other points, the standards allege a "lack of adequate natural explanations for the genetic code."

One of the more peculiar comments in the WaPo's article was this from Francisco Ayala, an evolutionary biologist:

Intelligent design "does not provide any natural explanation that can be tested," said Ayala ....He said the Kansas standards "are an insult to science, an insult to education and an insult to the American Constitution."

Well, of course ID doesn't provide a natural explanation if "natural" is defined as excluding intelligence as a causal factor. Ayala's claim that ID can't be tested is also odd since critics of ID have worked arduously to explain how complex structures like bio-machines could have emerged solely by non-purposive mechanisms. Every time they come up with such an explanation they're attempting to falsify one of the basic claims of ID, the claim that there are no plausible mechanistic pathways for such an evolution.

Moreover, Ayala's hyperventilations about the insults suffered by science, education, and the Constitution are a bit melodramatic. ID is no more an insult to science than is string theory, but it is indeed an offense against the materialistic metaphysics which is presupposed by many scientists. Nor is it an insult to education to expect students to know what some of the shortcomings of Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory are, and it is certainly not an insult to the document which enshrines free speech in this country to extend that cherished principle to challenges to accepted dogmas that are otherwise insulated from criticism by our public schools.

Here's a question: If, as the defenders of the status quo insist, the evidence for their position is overwhelming, and if ID is such a weak competitor, then what on earth are the defenders of Darwinism afraid of? We would think that they would relish the thought of having ID scrutinized in the classroom so that it can be thoroughly and definitively trounced by the massive might of Darwinian orthodoxy. Yet the establishment types act as if letting a little skepticism in the door would signal the collapse of their beloved theory, so like church censors they protect the fragile flower as though it were a sacred belief that no one dare question. It's as if they fear that in the competition for survival their view would be found to be less fit in the new environment than the more vigorous and attractive interloper. There's a certain justice in that.

Why It Doesn't Happen Here

Joel Kotkin puts his finger on why immigrants don't riot in the U.S. and why there is so much disaffection among immigrants in Europe. Kotkin's answer in a nutshell is that socialism and other Left-wing policies, especially heavy government regulation of business, have stifled European economies to the point where there simply aren't any jobs available for those who want work no matter how menial.

Here are some excerpts from Kotkin's essay:

Since the '70s, America has created 57 million new jobs, compared with just four million in Europe (with most of those jobs in government). In France and much of Western Europe, the economic system is weighted toward the already employed (the overwhelming majority native-born whites) and the growing mass of retirees. Those ensconced in state and corporate employment enjoy short weeks, early and well-funded retirement and first dibs on the public purse.

So although the retirement of large numbers of workers should be opening up new job opportunities, unemployment among the young has been rising: In France, joblessness among workers in their 20s exceeds 20%, twice the overall national rate. In immigrant banlieues, where the population is much younger, average unemployment reaches 40%, and higher among the young.

To make matters worse, the elaborate French welfare state--government spending accounts for roughly half of GDP compared with 36% in the U.S.--also forces high tax burdens on younger workers lucky enough to have a job, largely to pay for an escalating number of pensioners and benefit recipients. In this system, the incentives are to take it easy, live well and then retire. The bloat of privileged aging blocks out opportunity for the young.

Luckily, better-educated young Frenchmen and other Continental Europeans can opt out of the system by emigrating to more open economies in Ireland, the U.K. and, particularly, the U.S. This is clearly true in technological fields, where Europe's best brains leave in droves. Some 400,000 European Union science graduates currently reside in the U.S. Barely one in seven, according to a recent poll, intends to return.

Driven by the ambitious young, European immigration to the U.S. jumped by 16% during the '90s. Visa applications dropped after 9/11, but then increased last year by 10%. The total number of Europe-born immigrants increased by roughly 700,000 during the last three years, with a heavy inflow from the former Soviet Union, the former Yugoslavia, and Romania--as well as France. These new immigrants have been particularly drawn to the metropolitan centers of California, Florida and New York.

Particularly telling, immigrant business ownership [in the U.S.] has been surging far faster than among native-born Americans. Ironically, some of the highest rates for ethnic entrepreneurship in the U.S. belong to Muslim immigrants, along with Russians, Indians, Israelis and Koreans.

Perhaps nothing confirms immigrant upward mobility more than the fact that the majority have joined the white middle class in the suburbs--a geography properly associated here mostly with upward mobility.

It is almost inconceivable to see such flowerings of ethnic entrepreneurship in Continental Europe. Economic and regulatory policy plays a central role in stifling enterprise. Heavy-handed central planning tends to make property markets expensive and difficult to penetrate. Add to this an overall regulatory regime that makes it hard for small business to start or expand, and you have a recipe for economic stagnation and social turmoil.

What would help France most now would be to stimulate economic growth and lessen onerous regulation. Most critically, this would also open up entrepreneurial and employment opportunity for those now suffering more of a nightmare of closed options than anything resembling a European dream.

We wonder if anyone is listening over at The Nation and other Lefty precincts where the sorts of nostrums that have led Europe to become an economic dead man walking are incessantly promoted in the name of social justice. The young Muslims who are setting France ablaze are evidently not much impressed with socialist versions of economic justice.

We should point out, too, that as compelling as Kotkin's economic analysis is, there's no doubt another reason we don't see in the U.S. the sort of mass vandalism against property that France is suffering. That reason is that most Americans own a firearm, and any crowd of hooligans strutting down a street threatening to burn residents' automobiles is likely to be abruptly brought to account in a most unhappy fashion by the citizens whose cars are about to be torched. The prospect of a chest full of #6 lead shot is a powerful inducement to find less obnoxious ways to air one's grievances.

Of course, taking away this ability to defend one's property is another one of those nutty Left-wing policies whose utter foolishness is being made evident by events in France.