Thursday, June 03, 2010

Madonna more restrictionist than WSJ op/ed board?

A couple of months ago, OneSTDV compared Madonna's opening of a school for girls in Malawi in a putative attempt to stop African brain drain into the West to immigration restrictionism in the US--the difference in perception not being due to logical differences in outcome, but who is portrayed as the ultimate beneficiary*. To a large extent, such a distinction works well in defining contemporary cultural and political discourse in the US--conservatives celebrate rhetoric focused on benefits provided to "the individual" or more nakedly to tax-paying Americans, while SWPLs have a predilection for that which promises to lift up the struggling NAM or EBT-using single mother.

But Madonna's implicit desire for the reduced immigration to the US of Africa's most promising and Steven Camarota's efforts to show the externalities unfettered immigration from Mexico entails are not two sides of the same coin. Madonna might oppose the EB-5 visa program, but she surely supports massive third-world immigration into the US by those who are said to do the jobs Americans won't do. Camarota, by contrast, may well like EB-5 visas. I suspect, though, he likes Arizona's SB 1070 at least as much.

Madonna is just fine with massive unskilled immigration into the US--her concern is not for the needs of Euro-descended Americans, but for those who could potentially derive benefits from Euro-built America. While the medical student from Zaire could do well enough for himself in the US, by returning to Africa (or attending her school and thus never leaving the continent) he will likely provide more benefit to non-Europeans than he would working in a hospital somewhere in the US.

Camarota favors a reduction in illegal immigration into the US because it is bad for natives. To the extent that he is opposed to skilled legal immigration, it is due to the enervating effect it has on natives whose incentives for investing time and effort in rigorous technical college courses are reduced alongside the wages of those natives who are already working in fields where would-be immigrants potentially provide downward pressure on compensation levels.

There is a third position to contend with as well, espoused by the op/ed board of the WSJ. Immigrants are largely interchangeable economic units and as such should be as free to move from place to place in response to economic forces as goods and services are. To make their position as palpable as possible to a broad audience, high-profile tories of extraordinarily successful immigrants are emphasized. From this, it is insinuated that uneducated Amerindian peasants skittering over tumbleweed in the Arizona desert are equally beneficial for the country's well-being. The op/ed board might butt heads with Madonna on the African medical student, but they are of one mind on massive third-world immigration into the US.

OneSTDV's post does illustrate how the SWPL-left Madonna epitomizes does harbor reservations on at least one form of immigration into the US, and in that sense are slightly less distant from restrictionists like Camarota (and the majority of Americans) than the WSJ op/ed board members are, whose only seeming use for immigration law is the snagging of Muslim terrorists until enough evidence can be marshaled against them to nail them to the wall for their true crimes. Immigration is an issue where the two-dimensional left-right political spectrum creates more obfuscation than it does clarification.

* The pop singer's quixotic goals are undermined by a flawed conception of why emigrants leave Africa:
"Once instilled with pride in their homeland, young women will understand the importance of remaining in Malawi and investing in their own communities."
As Inductivist has shown, pride in one's ethnicity and national origins is inversely related to that ethnicity's or nation's actual, real world accomplishments.


Anonymous said...

As a pedantic note, Zaire has been DR Congo for more than a decade.

Anonymous said...

But, really, Democratic Republic of the Congo sucks as a name for a country given that there is a country that has been called Congo for far longer, and given that the name Zaire is quite available.