the pitch

The CEO of the Youngstown Business Incubator in Youngstown, Ohio, Cossler wants one distinctly non-gritty thing for his city: software companies. “We don’t want to take any other company,” he says, because software firms are cheap to start up, their location is irrelevant, and they either succeed or fail quickly.

Sexy, it ain’t. But the approach is simple and efficient: YBI uses LinkedIn to find young people who grew up in Youngstown but then moved away and now work in the computing field. “Then we make this pitch to them,” says Cossler. “We pitch them the fantastic software industry growing here in Youngstown, and the prospect of moving back to where their parents and grandparents are, and oh, by the way, have you seen our real estate prices?” So far they’re communicating with 1,800 of what he calls the “Youngstown diaspora,” and 187 of those — who now work everywhere from Austin to Tokyo to Tel Aviv — have asked to meet with him.

via Rust Belt chic: Declining Midwest cities make a comeback -

fisher on eugenics

It seems, and it is, a colossal task to change average human nature one iota. Yet in the light of modern eugenics we could make a new human race in a hundred years if only people in positions of power and influence would wake up to the paramount importance of what eugenics means. And this could be done quietly and simply without violence to existing ideas of what is right and proper. It could be done by segregation of the sexes for defectives, feeble-minded, idiots, epileptics, insane, etc. By this kind of isolation, we can save the blood stream of our race from a tremendous amount of needless contamination. And it is being done. The growing tendency to put defectives in institutions, though originally with no such object, will have the effect of reducing the transmission of defects, especially when it is recognized that the sexes must be separated and that the inmates should be kept at the institution through the reproductive period of life.

Sterilization is also a means which may be advantageously applied in extreme cases. Sensible marriage laws if backed by an enlightened public opinion can add much.

via Eugenics.

It looks like this book was the source of the much-quoted story about the descendants of Jonathan Edwards:

Few people have any idea, unless they have looked into the pedigrees of some of these people, what awful contamination can be saved the race by a wise application of eugenics. There is a family called "the Jukes," all descended from a thriftless fisherman, born in 1720. About twelve hundred of these descendants have been traced in 75 years. Of these, 310 were professional paupers who spent an aggregate of 2,300 years in poorhouses, 50 were prostitutes, 7 murderers, 60 habitual thieves and 130 common criminals. Dugdale, who compiled these facts, estimated that the "Juke" family cost the Government over $1,000 for each member of the family. Similarly the "Tribe of Ishmael," numbering 1,692 individuals in six generations, has produced 121 known prostitutes and has bred hundreds of petty thieves, vagrants and murderers. [5] Compare the descendants of that family with the descendants of Jonathan Edwards, who was born in the same period (1 703) and who has had about the same number of descendants (1,394 traced up to 1900). Out of those descendants, something like half have been public men or men of great distinction and good influence in the world; 295 were college graduates, about 100 were clergymen or missionaries, over 100 were lawyers, 80 held public office, 75 were officers in the army or navy, 60 were eminent writers, 30 were judges, 13 were college presidents.

Locating this story in Fisher's context horrifies me. I'd like to know if Fisher was quoting someone else, or if the Edwards narrative was put together (researched?) to suit Fisher's conclusions.

eugenics & economics

The Immigration Act of 1924—with quotas based on the 1890 census—became law that May. Congress had been “hoodwinked” by the eugenicists, Representative Emanuel Celler complained, with the result that total immigration was cut in half, and immigration from targeted countries like Italy by as much as 90 percent. The law would later become a factor in preventing Jewish refugees from escaping Nazi persecution. In Germany, an imprisoned political extremist viewed these developments with satisfaction. Writing Mein Kampf in his cell, Adolf Hitler complained that naturalization in Germany was not all that different from “being admitted to membership of an automobile club,” and that “the child of any Jew, Pole, African, or Asian may automatically become a German citizen.” Now, though, “by excluding certain races” from the right to become American citizens, the United States had held up a shining example to the world. It was the sort of reform, Hitler wrote, “on which we wish to ground the People’s State.”

via Yale Alumni Magazine: God & White Men at Yale (May/June 2012).

We know better now, of course. And yet eugenic ideas still linger just beneath the skin, in what seem to be more innocent forms. We tend to think, for instance, that if we went to Yale, or better yet, went to Yale and married another Yalie, our children will be smart enough to go to Yale, too. The concept of regression toward the mean—invented, ironically, by Francis Galton, the original eugenicist—says, basically: don’t count on it. But outsiders still sometimes share our eugenic delusions. Would-be parents routinely place ads in college newspapers and online offering to pay top dollar to gamete donors who are slender, attractive, of the desired ethnic group, with killer SAT scores—and an Ivy League education.

Irving Fisher and the other Yale eugenicists would no doubt rejoice that the university’s germ plasm is still so highly valued—at up to ten times the price for other colleges. But if they looked more carefully at the evidence, they would discover that these highly desirable donors are now often the grandsons and granddaughters of the very immigrants they once worked so hard to eliminate.