Saturday, November 22, 2014

Executive's executive order on immigration

A montage from a lot of disparate online discussions on the topic follow, with a little sensationalism to get the ball rolling in some places. Not a lot new here, but I devoted some time to this and if your predilections are similar to mine but you're busy with life at the moment, feel free to cut and paste as needed for use in battle on whatever turf you're fighting on. No need for attribution.


The point isn't to ameliorate the suffering of the world's vast (and growing vaster) impoverished masses. There are over 5 billion people living in countries poorer than Mexico. We're looking at going from de facto amnesty to executively-sanctioned amnesty of mere millions here--much less than one-tenth of one percent of the international underclass. It's like trying to empty the ocean by filling up a plastic quart cup with salt water.

The point isn't to reunite families or whatever other lugubrious tripe is being spouted by special interests, either. Obviously that's an easy fix that involves a one-way trip back to the 'vibrant', 'enriching' countries these scofflaws came from in the first place. Based on how much we hear about the putative family values of our neighbors to the south, it's a real head-scratcher as to why it hasn't already occurred!

The point is to inundate the country with unskilled, uneducated, underachieving, civilly inept, criminally-prone, affirmative-action eligible, resentful welfare cases. In short, the point is to create more Democrats.

- "I don't know about all that, but I sure am happy to take their money everyday and let them beef up my bonus check."

I doubt you'd argue that your line of reasoning is universally applicable. You could, for example, use the same principle to argue in support of slavery (and the parallels between unskilled, third-world immigration into the West and slavery are not insignificant, especially those espoused by nation wreckers like the Koch brothers and the Chamber of Commerce).

- "Overall Democrats are the more educated, skilled and progressive party."

Progressive, like any other political label, is a malleable term. The progressive movement in the West was the driving force behind the eugenics movements of the early 20th century. It has also been behind various socialist movements throughout the world going back to the late 19th century. The kibbutz is a natural outgrowth of this progressivism. Incidentally, it's empirically clear that diversity and sense of community mix about as well as oil and water. See Robert Putnam's work, for example. He's a good Harvard professor and intellectual and consequently sat on his findings for over five years because he was afraid of the conclusions but eventually he made them public and they contained what anyone who knows the emperor has no clothes figured they would. In diverse communities there is very little interracial social mixing and people even tend to withdraw from their own groups more than in more homogeneous settings. Famously, diversity causes people to socially and civically "hunker down".

My point isn't to pass normative judgment on your use of the term. Imprecise labels are still helpful, but caution is advisable when you show reverence for a term with such a storied history.

Regarding the statement about Democrats being the more educated, skilled, and progressive party, that's a tricky and generally incorrect assertion, at least without some major clarification.

From 2008 onward, the GSS shows the mean years of education for self-described Democrats as 13.57 and for self-described Republicans as 13.94 (aged 30+ to allow for school completion to have occurred). The median Republican is definitely wealthier than the median Democrat, as exit polling from 2012 and 2014 both show. That's accentuated further by the fact that exit polling data track income in nominal dollars, but $100k/year in Kansas goes a lot farther than $100k/year in California does, and red states are generally states with lower nominal incomes and correspondingly lower costs-of-living. That's not the only way to measure the nebulous word "skill", but it seems like a reasonable enough one.

Once educational attainment is controlled for, Republicans even more significantly out-earn Democrats. Post-graduates with low incomes are Democratic gold (think doctorate in sociology who does clinical evaluations at a halfway house). Conversely, modestly educated, self-made people with high incomes lean heavily Republican (think guy who went into construction right out of high school and started his own company in his twenties after gaining the requisite experience to do so).

Averages aren't the entire story, of course, and the dynamic that is increasingly coming to define the political landscape of the US is one of an alliance of the top and the bottom (Democratic) against the middle (Republican). It's difficult to get reliable data on the affiliations of the super rich, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that among those earning, say, over $10 million/year, the majority of those who are politically affiliated are Democrats.

Everything discussed above draws on the behaviors and outcomes of the entire population. Progressive SWPLs squirm at the thought, but those Democrat-vs-Republican comparisons that look favorable across the board for Republicans when everyone is taken into account look less impressive when only whites are considered. A table I put together was used in a book entitled Science Left Behind showing the former but not the latter, but it wasn't because I didn't alert the authors to as much. They understand well that when it comes to sizing up the life performances of the "average" Democrat and the "average" Republican, Republicans come out looking better on measures of income, criminality, marriage rates and fidelity, civil engagement, charitable giving, tax cheating, etc. If we're honest with ourselves, this shouldn't come as much of a surprise since 90%+ of blacks and 65%+ of Hispanics vote Democrat.

- "I must have missed the part where Obama granted suffrage to immigrants."

It's the political long game, obviously. Were it politically expedient in the short-term, the executive order would've come prior to the mid-term elections, not after them. Instead, it came immediately following the last election cycle that the current executive has any influence over or suffers any potentially negative consequences from. This strikes me as rather straightforward.

Politically, non-Asian minorities (NAMs) vote heavily Democrat. At first blush, demographic trends appear to overwhelmingly be in the left's favor. I think, overall, that is indeed very much the case, though it's often overstated. This is because, among whites, conservatives outbreed liberals and have been doing so for at least the last two generations (ie since the availability of modern contraception). Political orientation is significantly heritable, on the order of .45-.65. Basically, we have a situation in which whites are becoming more conservative but at the same time becoming an ever smaller proportion of the entire population. Restrict immigration, and conservatives have a chance. Open up the floodgates, and they're definitely toast.

That summation, of course, wasn't meant to be interpreted as the sole justification for the president's action. Things are, as they say, more nuanced than that. But there's huge long-term political upside for the left from anything that makes the country less non-Hispanic white and more black and Hispanic.

- "If you consider yourself HUMAN - you need to back the fuck up from opinions like this one and think about the other HUMANS that you're insisting on dehumanizing. You need to think about these - yes, admittedly, oftentimes poor and uneducated HUMANS who cross into America because they have no options in their native country."

The contradictory messages put out by the open borders crowd are staggeringly brazen. Illegal immigrants have no opportunities in their home countries on the one hand, but they're crucial to the US' high-tech, skill-based economy on the other. We shouldn't callously enforce our sovereign laws because it'll break up immigrant families, but these illegal immigrants are willing to send unaccompanied minors by the tends of thousands across the border through rugged and often dangerous terrain. The US is full of unwelcoming racists and bigots, yet millions upon millions of aspiring immigrants risk imprisonment (and hundreds of millions more would like to do so if they were able to) and even life and limb to come and live in this unwelcoming, racist land of ours. These illegal immigrants are hard-working, entrepreneurial types who create lots of value here in the US, but we need to act with magnanimity in our hearts as we offer charity to the desperately poor, huddled masses that seek refuge in America. The multicultural vibrancy that illegal immigrants bring is a welcome addition to the American cultural mosaic, yet the societies they come from are so dysfunctional that the only humane thing for us to do is allow them unadulterated access into the US.

GSS variables used: PARTYID(0-1)(5-6), AGE(30-89), EDUC, YEAR(2008-2012)

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