So I really don’t want this to turn into an argument about the evils of genocide, slavery, Jim Crow, apartheid, imperialism or what have you.

I just think there is a compelling narrative developing here that has nothing to do with demonizing any particular group. I have little doubt that if the positions of various races/ethnicities were swapped the result would be the same.

All that having been said, it looks to me that people aren’t opposed to spreading the wealth around so much as they are opposed to spreading it to Brown and Black people.

In a somewhat controversial paper Alesiana, Glaeser and  Sacardote suggest that ethnic differences explain generosity of the welfare state around the world. In the US, in particular the greater the percentage of black residents the weaker the less distribution available though welfare.


Kevin Drum points today to the common observation that American’s want to cut spending, but they see the most gains from cutting Foreign Aid.

It also worth noting that Defense is least popular when its viewed as Nation Building. When its Nation Destroying as in the beginning days of the Iraq War its pretty popular. However, when we switch to nation building popularity collapses.  Still not to the level of actually aiding other nations, but still.

One interpretation is that American voters are confused, irrational one might even say. They don’t know what they want.

Another hypothesis, however, might be that they know exactly what they want but are unable or unwilling to articulate it. They want to avoid giving away their hard earned money to people who don’t look like them.

Nor, should we find this surprising. The evolutionary psychologist in me would expect just that. After all, we don’t really, really care about other people. We care about other people’s genes. And, we care about other people’s genes because they likely share some of those genes with us. That is, of course unless they look radically different than us, in which case they probably share few.

Indeed, I would argue, and this probably deserves in own post, that cosmopolitan who want to save the world and give to poor people of all colors want to do so precisely because on an instinctual level they are not really sure what they themselves look like.

Without an abundance of mirrors in the evolutionary environment we probably picked up our cues on what we looked like by examining what our friends and family looked like. Anyone who was different from them was likely different from us.

But, if you grow up in a completely diverse environment then you have no idea what you look like, at least your base instincts don’t. And, so you naively assume that the Third World Kid or Ghetto Youth is just as related to you as everyone else. Hence, your willingness to give.

Now, if someone would be so kind as to supply me with 1000 infants of varying races and $100 Million dollars, I will be happy to test this out.