Sunday, September 24, 2006

Dick Armey and immigration in WSJ

Former House Speaker Dick Armey echoes the WSJ editorial board's intellectual bankruptcy on the question of immigration. Writing about "pocketbook consersatives", he describes them thus:
[They] generally respect the work ethic and economic contributions of new immigrants.
This demographic, which Armey portrays as the new silent majority, is pretty elusive. That is, unless he is referring specifically to the small minority of immigrants who are more productive than the average native, but he in no ways specifies this so the assumption has to be that Armey is talking about immigrants on the whole. The polls I've seen consistently show that Americans across the political spectrum want tougher immigration enforcement and less total immigration. A thorough Zogby poll in May of this year reported these findings:
- On immigration generally, Americans want less, not more, immigration. Only 26 percent said immigrants were assimilating fine and that immigration should continue at current levels, compared to 67 percent who said immigration should be reduced so we can assimilate those already here. ...

- One reason the public does not like legalizations is that they are skeptical of need for illegal-immigrant labor. An overwhelming majority of 74 percent said there are plenty of Americans to fill low-wage jobs if employers pay more and treat workers better; just 15 percent said there are not enough Americans for such jobs.

The more conservative the respondent considered himself, the more likely he was to favor a reduction in immigration. Those self-describing themselves as "very conservative" favored less immigration to current levels at a ratio of over 7-to-1. For "conservative" it's a little over 7-to-2. Even "liberals" favor less immigration by 2-to-1. Only "progressives" slightly favor current levels--51% to 43%. I wonder how these pocketbook conservatives describe themselves ideologically?

They're probably a relatively wealthy subgroup, as is the WSJ's readership. For people with annual incomes of $75,000 or more, less immigration was still favored by a margin of 2-to-1. Despite the WSJ, the financial press is hardly unanimous in its advocation of unfettered immigration--Investor's Business Daily, for example, has been a leading voice in favor of immigration reform.

After creating a vague demographic and describing it in a way that doesn't mesh with reality, Armey launches invectively into the sovereignty crowd:
Even more embarrassing is Tom Tancredo and his hot, hateful rhetoric against immigrants. Such demagoguery feeds the worst instincts of nativists and blocks a serious solution to our nation's border security problems. Reagan, conversely, understood that America is a country of immigrants, and he famously demanded that big government's walls be torn down.
Reagan's 1986 amnesty was just grande, huh Dick? This paragraph is everything it accuses Tom Tancredo, who spends half his time trying to assure people that he's not a 'hater' or a 'racist', of being. The blatant inaccuracies Armey's piece contains, as shown earlier, feed into the worst instincts of the open borders crowd, and his smearing of Tancredo epitomizes hateful demagoguery. Meanwhile, he offers not even a sentence toward solving our border security problems in his 1,040 word piece.

Does Armey not realize that the illegal immigrant deluge costs the government more than it contributes in revenue by over $10 billion a year? Or that the disastrous Senate immigration bill would cost a staggering $200-plus billion over the next ten years, according to the CBO? These immigrants are guarators of a larger government, not a smaller one, with the economic shortfall having to be picked up by the net taxpayer. While 24.5% of immigrant households utilize at least one welfare program, only 16.3% of natives do. And the Hispanic deluge is more fatalistic than natives in accepting as inevitable the corruption and largess of government (not surprising given the governmental situations in the countries they come from). Legalizing these immigrants with amnesty would be even more costly. Then there are all the other externalities like increased pollution, crime, disease, and cultural balkanization to be suffered. Doesn't sound like a great deal for pocketbook conservatives to me.

Armey concludes:
Win or lose, if Republicans hope to maintain the political support of a voting majority in the future, they will need to rediscover their fiscally conservative roots, and govern accordingly.
Increasing the number and proportion of ethnic minorities concentrated in urban areas who are less educated, more impoverished, more criminally prone, and more likely to use government benefit programs than natives doesn't strike me as the best method of governing in a 'fiscally conservative' way. Nor does increasing the size of a segment that so perfectly fits the profile of a Democratic Party voting stalwart sound like the best way for the GOP to retain a voting majority.



mping said...

Forgive me if you have already done so, but can you lay out how you would like to see the immigration laws and border security setup? I am curious as to what you would like to see done and what impact you think it would have.

Also, when you are writing about how the downsides of immigration outweigh the benefits, whose perspective you are looking from? Is it from:
1) Yourself
2) Rich, high IQ America
3) Republican America
4) All America
5) The world as a whole

Just wondering which lens you are looking through when looking at immigration, and why you choose to use that one.

perroazul del norte said...

When the above commenter writes "All America" does he mean:1)North America and South America or 2) the United States Of America ? Whatever the case his tone reveals him as a "borders are just lines on a map" one worldist nutbag-either of the loony leftist or autistic libertarian variety.

crush41 said...


My three pillars:

First, build a wall. It can be done for no more than $10 billion (less than a couple of months squandered in Iraq).

Second, harsh punitions for employers and deportation of their illegal employees (history shows that for every one deported--and this wouldn't be massive round-ups, just citizen-requested law enforcement--seven or eight will leave voluntarily). Offer government stipends for those who turn in employers who are taking advantage of taxpayer-subsidized menial foreign labor.

Third, allow local law enforcement to order deportation if an illegal immigrant is discovered (at federal expense via ICE). If so-called sanctuary cities want to stomach the costs (economic and otherwise) of illegal immigrants, so be it. But support localities that don't want to be inundated with liabilities that cannot afford.

In tandem, institute a merit immigration system that ranks residency applicants on a scorecard comprised of factors like IQ (or education as a more PC proxy), age, occupation, linguistic ability, criminal background, health, wealth, etc.

In absolute numbers, the US has the highest net migration rate in the world--why not take the pick of the litter? Not only will this increase the standard of living and productivity of the US, it will narrow the wealth gap (more professionals competing with one another to push down the price of their services) and relatively fewer less endowed people to perform blue-collar services for them.

#4 best represents my viewpoint. Our native poor suffer the most from unfettered illegal immigration--on a personal level, the wealthiest among us benefit from less middle class competition and obsequious servants with the ability to isolate themselves from the negative social aspects (increased crime, atavistic disease) and the serfs offer no occupational threat to them.

Incidentally, I tend to believe that, in general, what is better for America tends to be better for the Republican Party, in that as wealth, happiness, and sex life satisfaction (!) increase, so does the propensity to vote Republican.

crush41 said...


I hope he refers to the US in particular. That's where I am, anyway! I like Steve Sailer's idea of a citizenist, though I sympathize with Jared Taylor in that I believe that paralyzing racial squabbling can only be avoided in the US if whites remain a solid marjority (as they are the only 'ethnic' group that finds ethnic identification and conspicuous racial self-interest repugnant).

I don't know what Mping's political viewpoints are, nor the filter through which he evaluates the benefits or costs of various occurences, but I certainly respect his questions and his opinions, as well as his fascinating blog.

Fat Knowledge said...


Thanks for taking the time to write up your plan and perspective on this one. Been meaning to respond to what you wrote but it has taken me a while to get around to it.

I think the plan you laid out on immigration makes sense and would work. I wonder though if you hold employers accountable and deported illegal aliens that were found if you would really need the wall at all. And if you build the wall without them, I wonder how much of an impact it will make.

Long term the only way I see this immigration issue being solved is for Mexico's economy to improve so that there isn't the massive difference in wages that can be made in Mexico vs. the US. But, I won't hold my breath for that to happen.

As for your perspective coming from what is best for US citizens, I think that makes sense and is a coherent viewpoint.

For me, I take the globalist perspective (or worldist nutbag perspective if you prefer :)). It just never made sense to me to value someone differently based on where they happened to be born.

I also like to break the world up between people you know (and your extended social network) and people you don't. I think you should give precedence to those that you know. For those that you don't, I think you should try and help those that are the worst off. If some policy change would negatively impact 500 people in Iowa, but help 500 in Bangalore, I would support it as those in Bangalore are worse off. Of course if I personally knew one of those people in Iowa (or in Bangalore for that matter) then I would look at it differently.

And while I can completely understand where you are coming from in going with the USA as the reference point, it seems like you could just as easily use your arguments to build a wall and limit immigration between states. Why should people in Oregon allow those less educated, lower IQ, trouble making Californians into their state? Sure if you live in Oregon you will take the smart Silicon Valley guys, but those that are working the agricultural fields, they need to stay there. Why should Oregonians have to lower their standard of living by allowing Californians to come and live in their state as they want? Why should they have to put up with those Californians and their crazy culture?

And while I would agree that the differences between Mexicans and Americans are much larger than those between Californians and Oregonians, the underlying logic seems the same.

crush41 said...


I support the wall most vociferously because it's the hardest for pols in bed with favorable demographic trends (Dems) and cheap labor (Reps) to undermine even as they claim "support".

We've to draw the line somewhere. I have to make it sort of arbitrary, and admittedly it's hazy at times. Do I feel closer to an ethnically English family in the UK or an African American family in St Louis? The former, but for practical reasons, I'm probably more concerned with the well-being of the latter.

Nutbag? Why I enjoy your comments and site so much, in addition to the perspicacity, is that you appear to me a thoughtful leftist (and that descriptor might be inaccurate) concerned about the outcomes rather than merely the inputs of what you support. It's quite refreshing.

McDaniel, the professor with whom I share almost identical state IQ estimates argues that Oregon should do just what you're bantering about rhetorically. Businesses do it. Individuals do it. A few countries do it. Why not states as well?