California is home to both Silicon Valley and Hollywood, two of the world's greatest wealth-producing engines, and much of the state enjoys tremendous affluence. By some estimates, my own town of Palo Alto has the world's highest per capita concentration of billionaires. But California also has pockets of enormous poverty. The U.S. Census recently estimated... Read More
PALO ALTO---Regulators looking at how stock options are accounted for have seen cause for concern. I see opportunity. It's true that when actual expenses don't appear on an operating statement it can make for some rude surprises--as at Enron and elsewhere. But faced with the worrisome risk of our economy falling into a double-dip recession,... Read More
For the first time in living memory, California's entire diverse galaxy of campaign finance reform groups has united behind a single ballot measure campaign. Surprisingly, this reform grand alliance is actually aimed at defeating a campaign finance reform proposal--namely, Proposition 34, a measure placed on the November ballot by Gov. Gray Davis and the Democrats.... Read More
Agustin Gurza accuses me ("Bilingual Ed: The Truth Behind Test Gains," July 22) of using "statistical sleight of hand" in suggesting that the early Stanford 9 test scores indicate the superiority of English immersion over bilingual education. Gurza is misrepresenting the facts. First, I had emphasized that until the mid-August release of all immigrant test... Read More
There are many areas of the world where ordinary citizens suspect that their elections are for sale. But California is one of the few places where these purchases are publicly disclosed. Consider last November's Proposition 9, an initiative sponsored by consumer activists that would have slashed utility rates in the state. The utility companies spent... Read More
If a pending state Senate bill purporting to reform bilingual education becomes law, it could ignite ethnic tensions in California for years to come. The fundamental principle behind the bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Dede Alpert (D-Coronado) and Assemblyman Brooks Firestone (R-Los Olivos), is local control--namely, placing most decisions on language acquisition policy in the hands... Read More
As each new microchip and fiber-optic cable shrinks the circumference of our world, more and more Americans recognize the practical importance of bilingualism. Even today, entrepreneurs or employees fluent in Chinese, Japanese or Spanish have a distinct edge over their English-only peers. But if other languages such as Chinese or Spanish are of growing world... Read More
Timothy McVeigh, alleged perpetrator of the Oklahoma City bombing, is said to have believed that, while he was in the Army, the government implanted a microchip tracking device in his buttocks. Most of us would dismiss this as the ravings of an obvious madman. But to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, McVeigh is just a bit ahead... Read More
The revelation that Gov. Pete Wilson, leading scourge of the undocumented, had himself employed an illegal immigrant housekeeper will certainly deepen our political cynicism. Wilson joins the sorry band of hypocrites Dianne Feinstein and Michael Huffington, both of whom made the crusade against illegal immigration the centerpiece of their senatorial campaigns and were then revealed... Read More
California, the leader in national trends, is approaching another crossroads: We can confront the challenges of our ethnic diversity either through the means symbolized by last November's Proposition 187 or by those of the proposed civil rights ballot initiative. Although it began as a measure eliminating government benefits for illegal immigrants, by the end of... Read More
In 1942, during a period of sharp wartime hysteria, Californians blackened our state's good name by overwhelmingly endorsing the imprisonment of all Japanese Americans, most of them native-born U.S. citizens and nearly all deeply loyal to America. Only one member of Congress, Sen. Robert Taft of Ohio, the leading conservative Republican of his day, opposed... Read More
Sometimes a single phrase can summarize an entire political philosophy. Early in her campaign for governor, Kathleen Brown announced her support for re-imposing California's asset-forfeiture laws, which involve confiscating the property of individuals who have not been convicted of any crime. Her position paper defended such laws as a "badly needed source of revenue .... Read More
About Ron Unz
A theoretical physicist by training, Mr. Unz serves as founder and chairman of UNZ.org, a content-archiving website providing free access to many hundreds of thousands of articles from prominent periodicals of the last hundred and fifty years. From 2007 to 2013, he also served as publisher of The American Conservative, a small opinion magazine, and had previously served as chairman of Wall Street Analytics, Inc., a financial services software company which he founded in New York City in 1987. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard University, Cambridge University, and Stanford University, and is a past first-place winner in the Intel/Westinghouse Science Talent Search. He was born in Los Angeles in 1961.
He has long been deeply interested in public policy issues, and his writings on issues of immigration, race, ethnicity, and social policy have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, The Nation, and numerous other publications.
In 1994, he launched a surprise Republican primary challenge to incumbent Gov. Pete Wilson of California, running on a conservative, pro-immigrant platform against the prevailing political sentiment, and received 34% of the vote. Later that year, he campaigned as a leading opponent of Prop. 187, the anti-immigration initiative, and was a top featured speaker at a 70,000 person pro-immigrant march in Los Angeles, the largest political rally in California history to that date.
In 1997, Mr. Unz began his “English for the Children” initiative campaign to dismantle bilingual education in California. He drafted Prop. 227 and led the campaign to qualify and pass the measure, culminating in a landslide 61% victory in June 1998, effectively eliminating over one-third of America’s bilingual programs. Within less than three years of the new English immersion curriculum, the mean percentile test scores of over a million immigrant students in California rose by an average of 70%. He later organized and led similar initiative campaigns in other states, winning with 63% in the 2000 Arizona vote and a remarkable 68% in the 2002 Massachusetts vote without spending a single dollar on advertising.
After spending most of the 2000s focused on software projects, he has recently become much more active in his public policy writings, most of which had appeared in his own magazine.