Gunwales Awash

I’ve linked to a few essays by Pat Buchanan recently, and have another for you today. There is much that I disagree with Mr. Buchanan about, both culturally and politically — his paleoconservative isolationism comes to mind, as well as his doctrinaire opposition to evolutionary theory, the scientific bedrock of modern biology (see, for example, this recent item, which gets it so stunningly wrong in so many ways that it really deserves a post of its own in response) — but the man is highly intelligent, knows his history, and is rightly aghast at the accelerating pace of socialism in America, and the cultural and economic perils we face due to excessive immigration and our suicidal infatuation with multiculturalism.

We read:

The D.C.-based Tax Foundation says New Yorkers could face a combined income tax rate of near 60 percent.

In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson called George III a tyrant for having “erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”

What did George III do with his Stamp Act, Townshend Acts or tea tax to compare with what is being done to this generation of Americans by their own government?

While the hardest working and most productive are bled, a third of all wage-earners pay no U.S. income tax, and Obama plans to free almost half of all wage-earners of all income taxes. Yet, tens of millions get Medicaid, rent supplements, free education, food stamps, welfare and an annual check from Uncle Sam called an Earned Income Tax Credit, though they never paid a nickel in income taxes.

Oh, yes. Obama also promises everybody a college education.

Coming to America to feast on this cornucopia of freebies is the world. One million to 2 million immigrants, legal and illegal, arrive every year. They come with fewer skills and less education than Americans, and consume more tax dollars than they contribute by three to one.

Wise Latina women have more babies north of the border than they do in Mexico and twice as many here as American women.

As almost all immigrants are now Third World people of color, they qualify for ethnic preferences in hiring and promotions and admissions to college over the children of Americans.

All of this would have astounded and appalled the Founding Fathers, who after all, created America — as they declared loud and clear in the Constitution — “for ourselves and our posterity.”

Mr. Buchanan concludes:

“The United States is declining as a nation and a world power with mostly sighs and shrugs to mark this seismic event,” writes Les Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, in CFR’s Foreign Affairs magazine. “Astonishingly, some people do not appear to realize that the situation is all that serious.”

Even the establishment is starting to get the message.

Let’s hope so. You can read the essay here.

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20 Comments

  1. Chris G says

    I like this WSJ take on EIC much better. We could increase tax revenues by simply setting the tax rate to zero %!

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124753094923135901.html

    Posted July 21, 2009 at 8:58 am | Permalink
  2. the one eyed man says

    Pat Buchanan is saying a lot of the same things which were said when his ancestors came over from Scotland, Germany, Ireland, and England. They were untrue then and are untrue now. Buchanan is wrong on the facts, wrong on logic, and his heart is in the wrong place.

    1) The notion that income tax rates are higher now (or will be if tax increases contemplated to pay for universal health care come into effect) than in the recent past is incorrect. The highest marginal tax rate is currently 39.5%, which is about half of what it was from the 1930’s to the 1970’s.

    http://www.truthandpolitics.org/top-rates.php

    2) While it is true that “a third of all wage-earners pay no U.S. income tax,” this is because some time ago the minimum threshold was raised for federal income tax because the revenue generated by the lowest wage earners did not justify the cost to collect it. However, if you add all taxes together – FICA, Medicare, sales tax, etc. – the total tax burden on low income families is higher than the historical average.

    3) If Buchanan is so aghast that people receive “Medicaid, rent supplements, free education, food stamps, (and) welfare,” is his suggestion that those without insurance get sick and die, tenants get evicted, all education be in private schools, and the poor and/or unemployed starve?

    4) The notion that “the hardest working and most productive” are all native born Americans is both wrong and offensive. I live in a state with the world’s largest agricultural business, which functions only because of the hundreds of thousands of (mostly illegal) immigrants who harvest the food. My gardener, maid, dentist, doctor, and CEO are all foreign born. The local economy is supported by companies which were started by immigrants. Google and Intel come to mind, but there are lots more. I would challenge Buchanan to compare the work ethic of those who came to America to seek a better life and the whiny, self-indulgent third and fourth generation Americans whose cause he champions.

    5) Immigrants “consume more tax dollars” because they tend to have large families and hence have kids in public schools. The kids grow up and become wage earners. Why is the median household income of Asian and Indian families higher than that of Caucasian families? Because the first generation came “with fewer skills and less education than Americans,” but they worked hard and successive generations made huge contributions. It’s called the American Dream. It’s a pity that Buchanan, with his purported mastery of American history, is unfamiliar with it.

    Posted July 21, 2009 at 12:32 pm | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    Hi Pete; thought you’d weigh in.

    I’ve no time at the moment to respond in full to your Panglossian remarks, Peter (the notion that the millions of penurious, uneducated, and poorly assimilated Third World immigrants currently overwhelming our southern tier of states are all destined to be dentists and CEOs is particularly romantic) — but if you want to see the effect of the lethal combination of open borders and a welfare state, you need look no further than the economy of your home state of California, which, last time I checked, was slipping beneath the waves.

    Posted July 21, 2009 at 12:47 pm | Permalink
  4. the one eyed man says

    There is a distinction between the California economy – which is roughly in line with the national average – and the state government’s fiscal situation, which is going down the tubes. The problems of balancing the state budget have little or nothing to do with the high number of immigrants. Rather, it is due principally to the following causes:

    1. The effects of Proposition 13, which capped taxes on residential real estate – this led to a tax structure which is overly dependent on income and business taxes, which plummet during recessions

    2. The effects of numerous propositions which mandated spending (e.g., several billion dollars for stem cell research) with no revenue to pay for it

    3. A dysfunctional government – worse than New York! – where gerrymandering has led to a polarized and ineffective legislature

    Immigrants are a convenient scapegoat for all sorts of problems, but if this state had no immigrants, it would cease functioning immediately. If someone wants to risk personal safety, distance from homeland, and the insults of yahoos like Pat Buchanan and Tom Tancredo to come here to build a better life for him and his family, then that’s the guy I want. I believe strongly in open borders. If, in fact, America is “declining as a nation and a world power,” this is the best way to reverse it. Immigrants have fueled American growth and power in the past, and can do so long into the future.

    Posted July 21, 2009 at 1:19 pm | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    Pete,

    First of all, Proposition 13 didn’t cap taxes; it capped tax rates, which is a very different thing.

    I am all for admitting qualified legal immigrants — I’m an immigrant myself — but do you honestly believe that it is not both culturally and economically reckless for a society to fling open its borders while offering, at the same time, an ever-more-generous smorgasbord of entitlements to every needy wretch from anywhere on Earth who can manage to smuggle himself in? Just who is supposed to pay for it all?

    Well, we’ve butted heads on this one before. So far at least, it looks as if you will be able to put your theory to the test. I am not at all optimistic.

    Posted July 21, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Permalink
  6. the one eyed man says

    Prop 13 capped tax rates at 1.25% of assessed value, but the assessed value of your property is relatively constant. I pay essentially the same tax I paid when I bought my house eleven years ago.

    I certainly don’t think it’s culturally reckless to admit immigrants – one of the reasons why American culture is so robust is the way foreign cultures have influenced ours – nor do I think it is economically reckless. To be sure, some of the immigrants will be indolent, and others will be Sergey Brin or Andy Grove. Most will be in the middle: hard-working people in manual labor (or Manuel Labor over here), service industries, and low-skilled jobs. Ask a hotel or a hospital if they could function without immigrant labor (both legal and illegal). Overall, I think that successive waves of immigration have been a huge net positive over the years, and will continue to be a net positive for many years to come. It’s a big country. Let them in.

    Posted July 21, 2009 at 5:51 pm | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    No, immigration is a very different cultural and economic phenomenon now than it used to be. In the previous waves of immigration — particularly, for example, in the case of Mr. Buchanan’s forebears — the distance between the host culture and the immigrant’s was far smaller, and assimilation was far easier, not least because in those days the expectation was that one ought to assimilate, and as fast as possible.

    In the current climate of euphoric multiculturalism, however, immigrants are celebrated, it seems, in direct proportion to how dis-similar they are to traditional American culture (which seems to be regarded, in many circles, as the root of all the world’s evil). The great binding force that has always been pre-eminent in gluing together an increasingly heterogenous American polity — namely the English language, and the expectation that everyone here should speak it — is now seen by many as an instrument of oppression.

    There is a natural tendency, throughout history, for cultures to fracture along ethnic, religious, and linguistic fault lines, and the only thing that held America together so well for so long was that there was a majority culture: one that all immigrants were expected to join, and proudly did. But as that changes — as the majority culture fades away, and all we are left with is a chaotic assortment of ethnic groups, each with their own cultural allegiances, “identity politics”, and sense of entitlement — this nation’s cohesion will begin to fail. Mark my words. It is happening already.

    Meanwhile, a bounteous cornucopia of benefits — few or none of which were available to Mr. Buchanan’s ancestors when they arrived — is now laid out, at the taxpayer’s expense, for our new arrivals (and however many offspring they can manage to have), regardless of whether they waited patiently in line or simply crashed the gates. (Under such circumstances, of course, only a fool would bother to wait in line.) We have, effectively, no say whatsoever about who crashes the party, but once they’re in, the drinks are on us.

    It is all, in my opinion, quite unsustainable. We’ll see how it works out.

    Posted July 21, 2009 at 7:25 pm | Permalink
  8. bob koepp says

    Malcolm – Things might well be very different in Gotham, but to the extent multiculturalism is celebrated in my environs, it clearly does not include rejection of “core western values”. In fact, the vast majority of immigrants of my acquaintance came to the US precisely because they want to live in a society where those values are respected and promoted. It’s true that the notion of multiculturalism is often equated with cultural relativism, but that seems to be more a problem with homegrown pseudo-intellectuals than with immigrants (at least those who have not been seduced into joining the pseudo-intellects).

    Posted July 22, 2009 at 10:13 am | Permalink
  9. the one eyed man says

    I don’t think that “immigration is a very different cultural and economic phenomenon now than it used to be.” My grandparents came to America in the wave of Eastern European Jewish migration, and they pretty much lived, worked, and fraternized with other Eastern European Jews. They raised their kids in Jewish neighborhoods, and their children didn’t start the assimilation process until they were forced to, by joining large institutions like college, the Army, and the work force. Even then, they weren’t eager to assimilate: they tried to avoid it, in the fear that their kids would lose their Jewish identity. (They were right. Three out of four of us married goyim. We have a Christmas tree every year.) I don’t see how this pattern – which is identical to countless other families – is any different from what current waves of immigrants are doing. Some of the families which came from the same wave of immigration as my grandparents still haven’t integrated: witness the Hasidim.

    My daughter’s Girl Scout troop is largely foreign born or the children of immigrants. The only problem is figuring out what food the Muslim girls will eat on their camping sleepovers. The company I work for is roughly half foreign born. The only problem is trying to figure out what the Taiwanese engineer is trying to say. We’re right next to Google, which makes the UN look like the Rotary Club. Silicon Valley may be the most ethnically diverse place on Earth, which is one of the reasons for its astounding success.

    There is a large population of Hmong refugees from Laos living in the Central Valley. They came from a medieval agrarian society which is about as different from modern day America as you can get, and they were plopped down in the middle of California. I heard an NPR program on the Central Valley recently which mentioned that there is an unusually high rate of high school valedictorians among the Hmong population. I won’t say that all native American teenagers spend their lives consumed in hip-hop, Facebook, and MTV. I’m sure that there are some who don’t, even if I haven’t met them. However, if I were asked which group would be the engine of growth in the future, I would bet on the Hmong kids.

    Posted July 22, 2009 at 10:22 am | Permalink
  10. Malcolm says

    Bob, Peter,

    This is an interesting conversation. I do want to make clear that I am not against immigration per se; as an immigrant myself that would be more than a little unfair.

    The immigration debate tends to revolve, in large part, around what restrictions on immigration are appropriate (or whether any restrictions are appropriate), and whether — and I think this is really the central issue — the US is at its core a “Proposition Nation”: on whether it is, in its essence, nothing more than a set of ideals and principles. To adherents of this view, all of the factors that have historically bound communities together: ties of blood, soil, language, religion, a shared history, joint participation in a single culture, and so on, are no longer necessary for the cohesion of a national polity. All that matters is a sort of American shahada: an appreciation of, and willingness to be governed by, the abstracta set forth in the United States Constitution.

    If this is what it means to be an American now, it certainly was not always so; as Peter Brimelow reminds us: “…this would have been news to the Founders, and indeed to pretty well all Americans before World War II. They were highly conscious of America’s specific ethnic and cultural heritage, i.e. national identity. And they thought it was very important – the reason, Jay said in The Federalist Papers, why the experiment of federal government could be made to work at all.

    I, for one have mixed feelings about this. I would like very much to think that the Western culture that has grown from its roots in Athens, through the Enlightenment, to its flowering in America, is indeed a universalist proposition, a tree whose fruit can nourish all of mankind — and I have written as much in these pages, where I have argued that I do not, for example, see race as a suitable filter for immigration, and that I think anyone who understands what it means to be an American (in terms other than simply feeding at the public trough), who wants to be one of us, and who is capable of making a genuine contribution here, ought to be welcome.

    But America is not just a set of abstracta: it is an actual nation of actual human beings, founded on a particular patch of soil, with a particular history. It is a living cultural and political organism, and like any organism it must maintain a certain homeostasis to function properly. It obvious from any examination of history or human nature that humans associate and form allegiances based not only upon intellectual principles, but upon relations of family, religion, history, and all the factors I mentioned above. Until recently, immigration in America had been protective of this homeostasis of traditional American society and culture, but since 1965, when immigration restrictions were suddenly and greatly relaxed, we have been engaged in an enormous cultural experiment — seen at the time as dangerously reckless by many — whose outcome is still uncertain. That unfettered immigration of populations from highly dissimilar cultures can have unwelcome consequences is already plainly evident in Europe, where the process is farther along; we will see how it goes here. I am not nearly as optimistic as you are, Peter: your experiences are restricted, I think, to interactions with an educated elite, who are not the problem. The children of Google executives will do just fine; the millions of illiterate mestizos crowding our southern borders, not so much.

    At minimum, I hope we can agree that you simply cannot combine a welfare state with open borders; it is a recipe for economic disaster. And we should at the very least be a little choosy about whom we invite to join us; there is not, after all, some God-given right to live in America — nor an obligation on our part to feed and house the entire world. In particular, we already have an adequate home-grown supply of the criminal and the violent, the indigent and the illiterate; we have no need to import them.

    Posted July 22, 2009 at 12:35 pm | Permalink
  11. Polyphemus,

    I expect Malcolm is getting awfully tired of trying to talk sense to you, so I will take up the white man’s burden and see if I can get through, although based on the evidence of this discussion, your assumptions are so hard-wired that it is unlikely. (Note: I am speaking for myself, not Malcolm.)

    First, and perhaps foremost, you ignore or dislike the idea that a country is more than territorial space or an economy. It is (if successful, and not a Balkans-like horror) a culture with its own history, ethnic makeup, and values. That does not mean its history (etc.) are “better” than that of others, but a shared background, fundamental values and ethnic traits in a large majority of its citizens is the “glue” that holds it together as a functioning society, rather than just competing identity groups.

    Second, you are cherry picking examples of immigrants who have contributed to the U.S. economy (but the United States is more than just an economic unit), while ignoring the far greater percentage who are simply a drain on resources. As for the tired argument that immigrants do jobs that Americans won’t do, the answer is (a) that Americans could be found who would do them — we managed with home-grown manual workers for two centuries — provided they were paid a living wage; and (b) these low-wage immigrants aren’t self-supporting, by and large. They survive here because of welfare programs that supplement their meager pay. The sweatshops get the benefit of cheap labor; the middle class picks up the tab.

    Third, you make a false analogy with past immigration. It is ridiculous to compare immigration from European countries that have backgrounds basically similar to those of the indigenous American stock, at a time when the need was for manual labor, to Third World immigrants from utterly different cultural matrices, at a time when cognitive skills, not strong backs, are in demand (and would be readily available from the indigenous population if we stopped dumbing down our educational system to accommodate your immigrants).

    Fourth, while I imagine you have an attack of the vapors at the very idea of human biodiversity and group differences in general intelligence, your ideology doesn’t trump reality. Read the studies. What facts don’t you agree with?

    Fifth, you obviously don’t believe in the rule of law, a fundamental part of civilized society. As far as you are concerned, immigrant lawbreakers deserve to be rewarded for their transgressions. Just shows their initiative, eh? I guess you must admire Bernie Madoff — massive initiative there.

    Sixth, the population of the United States has grown by 100 million since 1970, and is nearly three times as large as it was when I was born. Almost all the growth in the past 40 years has come from immigration following the worst legislation in American history, the 1965 immigration act, as well as the criminal negligence of U.S. presidents from Reagan on in failing to enforce border control. I guess you love high-rise housing, urban sprawl, traffic jams. How large a U.S. population will satisfy you? Five hundred million? A billion? More? So anyone in the world who doesn’t like it where he is can move here, until the cumulative result is that the U.S. resembles the dysfunctional societies they wanted to escape from.

    Posted July 22, 2009 at 12:36 pm | Permalink
  12. the one eyed man says

    I don’t respond to insulting and condescending posts. Life is too short: pick a fight with someone else.

    I would, however, point out that the provenance of my pseudonym is not Homer, but rather the saying that “in the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”

    Posted July 22, 2009 at 4:38 pm | Permalink
  13. Malcolm says

    Pete’s right, Rick. I certainly welcome your comments — you are a perceptive and intelligent observer, and a fine writer, and I agree with almost all the points you made — but there is no need to be insulting. These political discussions are tricky, prickly things even when everyone’s on their best behavior, and as soon as it gets personal, all hope for any productive exchange usually goes right out the window.

    Pete’s a smart guy too — one of the brightest I know. He just disagrees, that’s all, and there are reasonable arguments to be made on both sides. There’s no reason we can’t discuss this stuff without being decent to one another.

    Okay?

    Posted July 22, 2009 at 10:45 pm | Permalink
  14. the one eyed man says

    Thanks for the kind words. The arguments in the previous post are easily refutable.

    1) If you want “a shared background, fundamental values and ethnic traits,” then live in Japan. America has always been about welcoming people from other backgrounds, values, and ethnicities. (As far as values: as Bob notes above, most immigrants come here because they admire American values and/or are fleeing countries which oppose them.) It’s right there on the Statue of Liberty. We took in the wretched refuse from teeming shores back then, and we can do it now. It’s as American as Velveeta, Mr. Whipple, or apple pie.

    2) The notion that the benefits from successful immigrants are outweighed by the “far greater percentage who are simply a drain on resources” is not only highly arguable, bur probably unknowable. Just because Lou Dobbs says so does not make it true. You could probably quantify the cost of providing social services to recent immigrants. What you cannot quantify is the economic benefit. I recently worked for a company which was started by a guy who came from India with $400 in his pocket. His business currently employs about two hundred people, and when he sold it for $1.2 billion in 2007, he made many people (including me) wealthy. How do you quantify that? At the other end of the spectrum: how do you quantify the economic activity and tax revenue generated by those who work in farms, hospitals, restaurants, hotels, construction, and every other industry staffed in large part by recent immigrants? Or the economic collapse if the immigrants were to suddenly disappear? While the first generation of immigrants starts from a low base, how do you quantify the economic benefit of the generations to follow?

    The myth of the slothful indigent who comes here to have a meal ticket on the gravy train is an appealing idea to those who want to believe in it – and doubtless they exist – but to state that the putative immigrant who is here only for a free lunch is the norm does not square with reality. The notion that they are a “far greater percentage” than those who make an honest living is an argument that people choose to believe, rather than one which is based on data and demonstrable truths.

    3) The idea that somehow European immigrants were cut from the same cloth as the native population, yet immigrants today are completely alien, is false. My grandparents – who came here speaking no English, having no skills, and having a different religion – were as different from the existing population as an immigrant today is from today’s populace. We’re not the land of Ozzie and Harriet or the Cleavers any more, if indeed we ever were. The delta between previous waves of immigration and the existing population is no greater than it is today with current immigrants. Moreover, the same things which were said then are being said now: they look different, they act different, they have a different religion, and once they get here we’re off to Hell in a hand basket. There were anti-immigration riots when the Europeans arrived, and they were subject to persecution and discrimination, for the same reasons that Tom Tancredo and Pat Buchanan have soapboxes today. The species H. L. Mencken refers to as Boobus Americanus existed then and exists now.

    4) I have no problem with ethnic bio-diversity, but if some ethnic groups have greater intelligence than others – a highly arguable premise – it is irrelevant to the question of immigration. The relevant comparison would not be between Americans and foreigners, but between Americans and those foreigners who choose to come here. This is a self-selecting group which tends to be the cream of the crop. Those who have the energy, the fortitude, and the inspiration to leave familiar surroundings in search of a better life are more likely to succeed here than those they left behind. I lived in Asia, and I know what it’s like to be a stranger in a strange land. It ain’t easy. However, the real reason why this argument is a non-starter is that the idea of using eugenics as a criterion for immigration and an instrument of state policy is loathsome.

    5) Those immigrants who came here illegally broke the law. Get over it. Let he who has never driven 80, talked on a cellphone while driving, or fudged a tax return throw the first stone. Crossing an international border illegally is, in my view, on the same plane as those kinds of offenses. Comparing it to Bernie Madoff is a proposition so asinine that no thinking person would dare conceive it.

    6) I have no idea what the optimal population size would be, but it’s a lot higher than it is now. Ever been to Montana? Colorado? Arkansas? Tennessee? There’s lots of space. This is a non-issue.

    Posted July 23, 2009 at 9:53 am | Permalink
  15. Malcolm says

    Peter,

    1) Yes, America is a welcoming place, and better able than most to absorb immigrants from other cultures — but as I mentioned above, in bygone days the new arrivals constituted small admixtures into an overwhelmingly larger majority culture. But so great has been the tide of immigrants since 1965, and so alien the cultures whence they came, that we are entering uncharted territory. It is one thing to have a Western European majority culture with small percentages of exotic alien communites; it is quite another when there is no majority culture at all, and competing identity groups simply engage in a battle royal.

    2) Yes, how do you quantify the economic contribution made by those immigrants on the lowest rungs of skills and education? They work part-time and off the books, in sweatshop conditions, allowing their employers to avoid the taxes and ebenfits they would have to pay on legal employees. It amounts to a kind of corporate welfare, with the taxpayer picking up the tab for the services — in particular health care — that aren’t being paid for through legal channels. You have a difficult case to make if you want to convince us that floods of undocumented aliens are not a net drain on the economy, and so far you are merely speculating.

    3) See 1), and my previous comments. Also, your grandparents were Jewish — a group that has always made its way, everywhere on Earth, as minority immigrants, and which has particularly admirable cultural traits of respect for education, secular law, civility, responsibility, and industriousness. Not all cultures are created equal.

    4) Frankly, I’d be fine with an intelligence test as a criterion for entry. Intelligence is highly heritable, and we already have plenty of home-grown imbeciles. I see no need to send out for more.

    5) You completely, and I have to assume willfully, miss the point here. You may dismiss illegal border crossings as a trivial pecadillo, but the crossing itself is not the issue. If illegal immigrants were to dart across the border and then run back laughing, nobody would care. The problem is that they stick around.

    6) You’re kidding, right? The bulk of immigrants end up, not neatly distributed every hundred square yards across the Bonneville Salt Flats, but in our most congested areas, where they add additional and unsubsidized strain to an already failing infrastructure. Do we really need more people in America? Why? Have you ridden the subway lately, or gone to the emergency room? I’m not saying we should end all immigration, but can’t we slow down a bit, and be at least a little bit selective?

    Posted July 23, 2009 at 10:05 pm | Permalink
  16. Malcolm,

    I’m sorry, but there aren’t “reasonable” arguments on both sides. One-Eyed — Peter? — refuses to acknowledge reality because it doesn’t fit with his ideological disposition. His claims are reasonable only if you accept his premises that cultural, traditional, and ethnic continuity are irrelevant, that the United States is a “proposition nation,” nothing but an idea; that the only test of a policy is its economic consequences (and I disagree with him as to what those consequences are); that he can generalize from his grandfather about a contemporary phenomenon that is vastly larger and different in many significant ways; that you needn’t use your eyes and common sense, but deflect every statement you don’t like by demanding statistical proof. His premises are, to put it mildly, an aberration.

    As for being insulting, obviously I feel strongly about this issue and perhaps some of my language was out of line.

    Speaking of insults, however, I have to say I am insulted by Peter’s frequent implication that we poor white-bread, nativist Americans who created one of the greatest societies of all time are in desperate need of rescuing by Third World peasants, gang bangers, honor killers, and the impoverished peoples of all the world’s dysfunctional societies. Peter has invited me to go live in Japan; I likewise invite him to move to Tijuana, where he can enjoy first-hand the drug wars we are so eagerly importing into the United States, and he need not be distressed by “Ozzie and Harriets” and “Cleavers.”

    Posted July 24, 2009 at 9:03 am | Permalink
  17. bob koepp says

    Excuse me for interrupting, but Mr Darby, please get a grip. Your claim that there aren’t reasonable arguments on both sides is hardly evidence that you are reasonable.

    You can criticize the content of Peter’s remarks all you want, and I’ll try to make sense of your criticisms. But your easy, amateurish diagnoses of why Peter makes the statements he does reveal nothing so much as your ignorance and arrogance. You attribute to him a refusal (not simply a failure…) to acknowledge reality, and somehow divine that this is due to a lack of fit with his ideological disposition. How could you possibly be in a position to make assertions about such things? Again, get a grip.

    Posted July 24, 2009 at 10:05 am | Permalink
  18. Malcolm says

    Rick, while I’m clearly in broad agreement with you about the political issues here, the point (as Bob reminds us) is that the premises you enumerate as obvious are just those points about which reasonable people can and do disagree. I’ve known the “one eyed man” for a long time, and while we choose our political axioms rather differently, he is an eminently reasonable chap.

    It is difficult when discussions cannot proceed from shared postulates (a problem that afflicts philosophical, religious, and political debates more often than not, it seems); it always feels as if the other party simply refuses to accept reality. Unfortunately, it usually seems that way to both parties, and when there is no agreement about premises, it is difficult for the normally productive process of reasoned dispute to gain any traction. Frustration mounts, interlocutors become more polarized, and what ought to be an attempt to work out real-world answers to the hard questions that affect us all simply devolves into a shouting match.

    I can vouch for the fact that everyone here is thoughtful, intelligent, and well-intentioned. Perhaps we can all take a breath, and dig a little deeper into the premises we can’t seem to agree on. Otherwise further discussion is quite hopeless, I think.

    Posted July 24, 2009 at 11:12 am | Permalink
  19. the one eyed man says

    After a long and stressful day, I always enjoy the refuge provided in the blogosphere, where the calm and mellifluous voices I find there examine the issues of the day in a dispassionate and thoughtful way.

    Time pressures at work permit only a brief response to Malcolm’s post. I’ll leave the last word(s) to anyone who wants them.

    1) I’m disinclined to take the time to do the research necessary to prove the point, but my guess is that the percent of Americans who were foreign born was as high – if not higher – during the great waves of immigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries as it is today.

    2) The counter-arguments are a) the lowest rung of immigrants will, of course, yield the lowest economic benefit, but the relevant metric would be all recent immigrants; b) I would question the assumption that illegal immigrants are big users of public services, as they want to stay under the radar screen; c) many illegal immigrants pay into the Social Security system and never collect benefits because they use fake Social Security numbers ; and d) without immigrants, labor shortages would create inflationary pressures.

    3) I would say that lots of other cultures – notably the Indian, Chinese, and other Asian cultures – possess these attributes in spades. What you neglect to include is the unique ability of Jewish cultures to avoid paying retail. (As Peter O’Toole said in My Favorite Year, Jews know two things: suffering and where to find great Chinese food.)

    4) My guess is we get the smart ones anyway – immigration is a self-selecting process. Still, the idea of administering an IQ test to prospective immigrants makes my skin crawl.

    5) We have to agree to disagree here. I just don’t think that being an illegal immigrant is that big a deal. If you drive fast, drunk, or reckless (i.e., texting while driving), you’re likely to kill someone. Cheating on taxes violates the system of trust which the tax system is based on. They strike me as being more harmful than a guy coming from Mexico to pick lettuce. Others may differ.

    6) I would question whether “the bulk of immigrants end up … in our most congested areas.” I wouldn’t assume that the dispersion of immigrants skews towards urban areas. There are large Mexican, Vietnamese, and Laotian communities in the Central Valley of California; a big Vietnamese community in rural Louisiana (they’re shrimpers); various Asian enclaves in Minnesota; etc. I’m sure that some time on Google would settle the issue. Regrettably, I just don’t have the time right now.

    Posted July 24, 2009 at 11:58 am | Permalink
  20. Malcolm says

    Pete,

    1) The percentage of foreign-born was fairly high during the 19th century, then became quite low during the 20th. Since the Immigration Reform Act of 1965 it is now on a pace to reach record levels. The cultural distance between modern immigrants and the host culture, however, is far greater now then it was in the old days when most immigrants were Europeans. The important question, of course, is assimilation; certainly the modern cult of “diversity”, which manifests itself in such destructive and Balkanizing forms as, for example, lobbying for bilingual education, doesn’t help either.

    2) Oh, that’s just great: illegal immigrants are using stolen Social Security numbers, so no problem.

    3) Agreed. There are some cultures that will tend to contribute more than others here. As I said, not all cultures are equal.

    4) Obviously intelligence should not be the only criterion for admission — I see no profit in welcoming brainy jihadists, for example — but I don’t see why we shouldn’t generally prefer intelligent applicants to stupid ones, or, forthat matter, why we need stupid immigrants at all.

    5) You seem to be construing my disapproval of aliens sneaking into the country illegally as somehow indicating that I don’t care if people drive around drunk. That’s just silly.

    6) Right, no illegal aliens in LA or NYC. As I said, I think a visit to your local ER might be instructive.

    Finally, in response to an objection you made earlier: Buchanan’s comment about tax rates approaching 60% for some people is absolutely right when you add state and local taxes to the federal burden.

    Posted July 29, 2009 at 6:12 pm | Permalink