What Feminist Celebrity Eugenics Teaches Us about Immigration Policy

Part I: Jodie Foster`s Baby

In the wake
of Father`s Day, we`ll consider some of the
fascinating implications surrounding a special
kind of father, one that`s increasingly in
demand in Hollywood: the Sperm Donor Dad.

("What does this
have to do with immigration?"
you might well be
asking. Well, just wait and see. One reason why
immigration is such a tremendous topic is that to think
rigorously about the peopling of America you have to
consider such elemental aspects of life as mating and

Lesbian rock star

Melissa Etheridge
recently revealed the identity of
the sperm donor who is the father of the two children of
her girlfriend Julie
. (Ms. Cypher was previously married to actor
Lou Diamond Philips, but that`s a whole different
story.) The test-tube dad turned out to be Rock and Roll
Hall of Famer
David Crosby
Crosby, Stills, Nash
and sometimes

. Admittedly, Crosby is equally legendary for
substance abuse so severe that he`s still alive only
because of a

liver transplant.
But Melissa would sacrifice a lot
for those guitar god genes. She explained her choice
with typical rock star articulateness: "For one, he`s
musical, which means a lot to me, you know, and I admire
his work."

heroine/single mother/glamour queen Jodie Foster
apparently undertook a more methodical search for the
perfect sperm donor. According to numerous reports in
the British press in 1998, she had proudly announced
that after a long hunt, she had had herself impregnated
with the gametes of a

tall, dark, handsome scientist with an IQ of 160.

While Miss Foster
will neither confirm nor deny these articles, this does
not at all seem out of character. In her movies and
personal life, Miss Foster has often appeared to be
loyally trying to reproduce her unusual upbringing.
According to her ne`er-do-well brother Buddy`s tell-all

Foster Child
, Alicia Foster`s nickname of
is a tribute to "Aunt" Jo, who was
their mother`s pistol-packing live-in lesbian lover.
 Jodie was a

child prodigy
who thrived in this environment,
reading at 18 months, becoming the Coppertone Kid at
three, and later on graduating summa cum laude
from Yale. Thus, her first directorial effort was
Little Man Tate,
in which she played a single
mother raising a seven-year-old genius. Similarly, her
production company received multiple Emmy nominations

Baby Dance,

a Showtime cable movie about

artificial insemination
. Not surprisingly, she named
her firm Egg Pictures.

Now, just because a
wide gamut of the British press runs a story that jibes
so well with her personality doesn`t mean it`s true.
(Other rumors suggest various Hollywood players as the
donor dad.) Interestingly, according to my web search,
the only American outlet to even mention that the London
papers were having a field day over the 160 IQ story was

National Enquirer
. All the other U.S. newspapers
and magazines periodicals just dutifully parroted
Jodie`s "no comment" responses to Who`s Your
Daddy questions about her little Charles Foster.

Nevertheless, this
hardly disproves the Fleet Street stories. Stars
routinely blackmail "respectable" American
publications like Vanity Fair by threatening to
never, ever again pose for a glamorous cover photo if
they dare publish anything image-tarnishing. Since the
Enquirer, in contrast, prefers cover pictures of
deranged-looking celebrities being hauled off to the
Betty Ford Clinic in straitjackets, it is less shackled
by the rules of

"access journalism."

And Jodie is widely
celebrated for her leftist activism. The last story she
would want circulating is one that makes her sound like
Nazi film directrix Leni Riefenstahl brainstorming with
Himmler and Goebbels over the specs for the Master
Race`s next generation. Especially because Jodie
actually is going to produce and star in an upcoming
bio-pic called

The Leni Riefenstahl Project.

Whoever the father
of Jodie Foster`s baby really is, the general truth is
that, despite the strident egalitarianism of so many
feminists, the process of getting artificially
inseminated inevitably turns women who can`t bear to be
impregnated by a man into practicing eugenicists. They
have to ask themselves which sperm donor is genetically
superior. Leafing through fertility clinics` catalogs,
they are forced to agonize over such politically
incorrect questions as, "Does Donor #543`s curly
blonde hair and 6`-3" height mean he gives better seed
than Donor #361, who is only 5`-7" but has an SAT score
of 1450?"

Now, the purpose of
this column is not to mock sanctimonious feminist
hypocrites (although it`s hard to think of anyone more
deserving). The necessity of choosing gamete donors
based on estimated genetic desirability is hardly
restricted to lesbians. Heterosexual couples suffering
the tragedy of infertility often face the same choices.
For an example of what a fertility clinic`s catalog
looks like, check out this sample from a lovely young
egg donor at


The going rate for
an Ivy League coed`s egg has shot up to $5,000 each. (If
any males reading this are suddenly envisioning
themselves making money hand over fist down at their
neighborhood fertility clinic, well, the going rate for
sperm is several orders of magnitude less.) Denmark has
become a major exporter of sperm to meet global demand
for blonde genes.

Nor is this article
just another sermon by a bioethicist about the dangers
of genetic technology. Because even people who are
creating children the old fashioned way are also
informal eugenicists. All heterosexuals look for a
member of the opposite sex who can supply good genes for
their children—trust me on this one: I know, because I
got turned down for a lot of dates. In contrast, Wilt
Chamberlain, the nearly superhuman basketball legend,
claimed (not all that implausibly) that he had had sex
with an average of 1.2 different women per day for forty
years. Charles Darwin devoted much of his great book

The Descent of Man, and
Selection in Relation to Sex
to the
important consequences of mate choice. Geoffrey F.

The Mating Mind
 is a lively updating of Darwin
that argues that much of the expansion of human
capabilities over the last few million years stemmed
from competition to impress the opposite sex. Why did
early men invent music, art, humor, and sports? In
effect, because chicks dig it. By demonstrating skill in
these venues, males try to show females they have
all-around good genes.

 Now, eugenics has
a terrible reputation. Much of its notoriety may be well
deserved, since its most visible manifestations in the
20th Century were governments murdering or sterilizing
people they didn`t like. Voluntary eugenics, however, is
too universal and too fundamental to human life for us
to continue to observe the taboo against discussing it
in print. The study of the competition for genes has
broad implications for public policy, including

One benefit of
thinking frankly about eugenics is that we can see grasp
its practical limitations. Consider the alleged 160 IQ
of little Charles Foster`s daddy. That`s an
extraordinary number: Only 1 out of about 30,000
Americans scores so high. Does this guarantee that, if
the rumor is true, the Foster family will be blessed
with another prodigy? Definitely not. According to

Chris Brand
, author of
g Factor (not

available for sale
—it was

yanked from store shelves
by its publisher, John
Wiley, for political incorrectness shortly after its
1996 release), the expected boost in the kid`s IQ from
using a sperm donor with an IQ of 160 instead of a one
with the average IQ of 100 is only 12 points. And your
mileage may vary … and almost certainly will vary
dramatically. (Another book showing how to do these
calculations is

Daniel Seligman`s
delightful introduction to the
science of IQ,

A Question of Intelligence.

Now, twelve IQ
points (80% of a standard deviation) is nothing to sneer
at. It`s the difference between the 50th percentile and
the 79th percentile on the Bell Curve. Still, I fear
Jodie would find herself a tad disappointed.

Why is the expected
payoff of even such painstaking eugenic efforts as this
so small and so uncertain? Regression to the Mean. We
each carry two sets of genes. You might have gotten
lucky and gotten dominant genes that granted you a huge
amount of some desirable trait. But your recessive genes
are also a random selection from the average of your
ancestors` genes, weighted by their closeness to you on
the family tree. At the moment of your child`s
conception, you and your mates` four sets of genes are
completely reshuffled. Thus, the children of the highly
intelligent tend to have kids who aren`t as bright as
they are. That`s why royal dynasties are founded by
usurpers with exceptional talents, but quickly recede to
nothing-specialness. In merciful contrast, the
exceptionally dim tend to have children who are a little
smarter than they are.

So, who will little
Charles Foster take after the most? His Nietzchean
Superwoman mom? His handpicked dad? Or, just maybe, his
Uncle Buddy?

regression to the mean is helpful in understanding the
effects of the
1965 Immigration Act,
especially the

"family reunification"
policy under which most
immigrants are now admitted to the U.S. I`ll consider
that in detail in my column to be posted tomorrow.

What It All Means for Immigration Policy (and the
proposed H1B visa increase).

II: How to Keep Immigrants from Regressing to the Mean

When feminist icons
like actress Jodie Foster and rock star Melissa
Etheridge search for a sperm donor, they unavoidably
turn themselves into eugenicists looking for men who can
give their children genetic superiority. But that`s just
an ironic instance of a truth that applies even more
universally to heterosexuals: everybody looks for a mate
who can supply their children with good genes.

The market for
desirable genes, however, extends far beyond the mating
game. All sorts of heritable traits—whether for height,
good looks, musical skills, a winning personality, or
intelligence—are in demand in the business world.

For example, the
extremely smart are to America`s high-tech economy what
seven foot tall men are to the National Basketball
Association: highly useful freaks of nature. A November
25, 1996 Fortune article by Randall E. Stross,

"Microsoft`s Big Advantage—Hiring Only the Supersmart,"

featured some surprisingly frank statements by Bill
Gates that sound like The Bell Curve on steroids:

Gates is blunt.
"There is no way of getting around [the fact] that, in
terms of IQ, you`ve got to be very elitist in picking
the people who deserve to write software."

Microsoft could teach its employees in specific skill
areas, but it could not instill intelligence and
creativity—those, Gates said, were "reasonably
The best programmers, in Gates`s view, are
people who are "supersmart." … His self-confessed
"bias" in hiring—"toward intelligence or smartness
over anything else, even, in many cases, experience."

The NBA has
discovered that America, with only 1/22nd of the world`s
population, has no monopoly on seven footers. Thus, it
imports centers like Rik Smits (Holland), Hakeem
Olajuwon (Nigeria), Arvydas Sabonis (Lithuania), Dikembe
Mutombo (Congo), and that charter member of the

Human Biodiversity Hall of Fame
, 7`7" 190 pound
Dinka herdsman

Manute Bol

Similarly, Silicon
Valley is famously peppered with the high-IQ folks from
all over the world, like Andy Grove (Hungary), longtime
CEO of Intel, and Vinod Khosla (India), venture capital
dealmeister extraordinaire. The number of jobs and
wealth created for Americans by the most brilliant
immigrants has been enormous. The best immigrants also
pay far more in taxes than they consume in government

Like the NBA and
seven-footers, America is in the privileged position of
being able to brain-drain the most talented people from
all over the world.

How many immigrants
we should admit is a separate question. But whatever
that number should be, my own view is that we ought to
admit the best immigrants available, with "best"
defined as "most benefiting current American

Possibly the most
impressive of all the new immigrant groups were the
early arrivals from India. Although immigration
enthusiasts like Michael Barone and Ron Unz often
compare immigrants from East Asia to Jewish immigrants
of a century ago, South Asians are even more similar.
Like the Jews, and unlike the East Asians, their verbal
skills tend to be as strong as their technical talents.

So what`s not to
like about our current immigration laws? Plenty. Let`s
look at what`s been happening recently even to the
poster children of the modern immigration era, the


magazine reported:

The median income for
Asian-Indian households is $44,700, versus $31,200 for
all U.S. households, according to the 1990 census. Not
all Asian Indians are affluent, however. Dr. Arun Jain,
professor of marketing at the State University of New
York in Buffalo, divides the market into three distinct
segments. The first, the majority of whom immigrated in
the 1960s, is led by a cohort of highly educated men who
came to this country because of professional
opportunities. Most are doctors, scientists, academics,
and other professionals … The second segment includes
immigrants who came to the U.S. in the 1970s. Like the
first segment, the men are highly educated
professionals. … The third segment is made up of
relatives of earlier immigrants who have been sponsored
by established family members in this country. They are
often less well-educated than members of the first two
segments. This is the group most likely to be running
motels, small grocery stores, gas stations, or other
ventures. …

"The earlier
immigrants came because of their qualifications. They
had no trouble getting green cards or professional

says Dr. Madhulika Khandelwal of the Asian/American
Center at Queens College in Flushing, New York. …
"The more recent immigrants differ … This wave includes
lower-middle-class Indians who tend to work in service
industries, usually with members of their extended
says Khandelwal.

by Marcia Mogelonsky ,August 1995]

Please note that
India has not suddenly run out of extremely smart people
who want to become Americans. Its population just hit
one billion. Certainly, the majority are undernourished,
poorly educated peasants, but India`s middle class is
estimated to be as large as 150,000,000. Many of these
speak fine English and attend schools that still do a
good job of following some of the principles instituted
by Thomas Babington Macaulay in the 19th century.
Southern India, lead by the software center of
Bangalore, has become to computer programmers what the
Dominican Republic is to baseball players: an unexpected
mother lode of talent.

So, why are we
getting fewer professionals and more cabdrivers out of
India these days? The 1965 Immigration Act "family
policy gives priority not to
immigrants who would most benefit the American public as
a whole, but to recent immigrants` siblings, parents,
and adult children. Plus those relatives` spouses and
kids. This is flooding the country with mediocrities
admitted only because they are previous immigrants`

The Wall Street
front page reported on December 1999:

Of the 660,000
foreigners the U.S. accepted as permanent residents in
1998, 476,000 had family ties; just 77,000 others came
in as employees, 40,000 fewer than in 1996 and half the
limit set by law. Of the 77,000, half were spouses and
children. Among working immigrants, more than half were
heavyweight academics, hotshot executives, or
celebrities. In other words, only about 14,000 came in
exclusively because they were skilled or educated.[

Northern View:
In Canada, the Point Of Immigration Is Mostly

Why does the system
have less and less room for talented would-be immigrants
who lack family connections? During the early years
after the 1965 Act, many immigrants were admitted
because they had special skills needed by American
organizations. But as America`s immigrant population
swells, more and more new Americans thus possess the
legal right to bring over their adult relatives and
their spouses. In turn, each newly imported in-law can
gain the power to bring in his or her relatives and
in-laws. And on and on ad infinitum.

Second, our family
reunification-based immigration system tends toward
mediocrity for the same reason celebrity feminists who
pick out tremendously talented sperm donors to father
their children will tend to end up frustrated: genetic
regression to the mean. However, extremely smart or
musical people almost always have relatives who aren`t
as smart or musical on average. And the genes you pass
on to your kids aren`t just the ones you display, but
also a weighted average of all your ancestors` genes.
This means that Melissa Etheridge`s girlfriend`s kids
probably won`t grow up to be rock legends like their
test tube daddy, David Crosby. Who knows? They may end
up tone-deaf like some great uncle in his family tree.

When a Vinod Khosla
helps found a Sun Microsystems, American customers,
workers, and stockholders all benefit. But say this tech
wizard`s sister`s husband`s mother`s sister`s husband
gets into the U.S. through "family reunification."
Due to regression to the mean, the odds are greatly
against him being another wizard. So, say he buys a
Motel Six, fires the old employees, and staffs it with
his extended family. The economic results for current
American citizens are much more mixed than when his
distant in-law started Sun. American customers
presumably get a slightly better product, but at the
expense of the jobs of the laid off American workers.
Maybe the tradeoff is positive for America, maybe it`s
negative. (Wealthier Americans who vacation frequently
will tend to see it as a benefit, poorer Americans who
need jobs as motel maids will see it as a detriment.)
But the opportunity cost is undeniably severe. Because
we are admitting this run-of-the-mill middle-aged motel
keeper, we aren`t admitting some young genius.

You might think
that America`s high-tech "Jedi geeks" would want
to reform the immigration laws so America would get more
high-IQ computer geeks and fewer non-descript nobodies.
After all, these moguls sure wouldn`t hire their
employees the way the government selects immigrants. If
they let their most recent hires start hiring all their
relatives, their oldest employees and stockholders would
rebel. All the Sand Hill Road set would have to do is
cash in a few stock options, fund a few think tanks,
rent a few Congressmen, and, voila, we`d have a
more rational immigration law.

Of course, you
don`t get to be a billionaire without being one sharp
operator. Nor do you make the gigabucks by putting the
general welfare of Americans ahead of your own. Sure,
Silicon Valley bosses desperately want more smart
employees. But, what any employer wants, in his wildest
dreams, are smart serfs.

So, rather than
reforming the immigration system, the zillionaires got
their pet Congressmen to bolt the ingenious H-1B system
on top of the old law. Foreign technology workers
admitted under H-1B are often referred to as
"indentured servants"
because they can`t quit to
work for anybody else. Thus, their masters can pay them
much less than they`d have to pay free American labor.
(To understand how competition from the bondsman drives
down the free man`s wages, see the

1858 campaign speeche
s of A. Lincoln.)

Of course, labeling
this mechanism "indentured servitude" does a
grave injustice to the colonial American practice. True
indentured servants were allowed to remain in America
after their half dozen or so years of servitude. In
contrast, when H-1B workers are just beginning to get
assimilated after six years, they are kicked out of the
country and replaced by new foreigners straight off the
plane. Our high tech moguls don`t want their H-1B
workers starting companies that would compete with them!
So, don`t call these poor bastards "indentured
Call them "high-tech coolies."

What would the
perfect system for evaluating applicants for admission
look like? Well, if you want to emigrate to Canada you
can find out if you qualify online

The Canadians let in
way too many immigrants—even I, an aging pundit, would
qualify. Still, they`ve grasped the basic principle that
we`ve forgotten in America: immigration is not a right
possessed by foreigners, it`s a tool for benefiting the
current citizenry of America. So why not the best?

[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and

movie critic

The American Conservative
His website

features his daily

19, 2000