Friday, June 01, 2007

Challenging WSJ op/eds on S1348

Due to the thunderous reaction from the public, the Senate moved the vote on S1348 to later this month. In the meantime, open border supporters have been on an editorial offensive. Yet, they've been unable to get the public to budge an inch, as a recent Rasmussen polling report revealed:

Overall, despite a major push by the President and others over the past week, support for the Senate bill has not increased at all. In polling conducted last night (Tuesday, May 29), 26% of voters favor passage of the bill. That’s unchanged from the 26% support found in polling conducted the previous Monday and Tuesday. Forty-eight percent (48%) of voters remain opposed.
A full week of media paeans have fallen on dead ears and eyes. A recent sampling from the WSJ's open borders opinion page illustrates why the effort has been fruitless:

No wonder it's hard to pass a bill. It's hard because Congress is trying to elevate one American value, respect for the law, by demoting an American value that up to now has been an unambiguous, uncontested ideal--respect for work, for labor. The tension here is especially difficult for conservatives.
No, the tension is not especially difficult for conservatives. A detailed, comprehensive Zogby survey found self-described conservatives to be anything but ambivalent about the need to reduce immigration and about the failure of immigrants to assimilate. The percentage who say the time has come to reduce immigration, the percentage who say there is no need to:

Very Conservative: 86%, 12%
Conservative: 72%, 20%
Moderate: 66%, 26%
Liberal: 61%, 33%
Progressive: 43%, 51%

The "tension" is among the most leftist elements of the US public. The consensus is clear across the rest of the political spectrum. Of course, the assertion that there is tension between current immigration and celebrating the idea of hard work is silly, since those in the US who are foreign-born are less likely to be working than natives are. And Americans who have to rely most on their ability to break a hard sweat at work if they're going to make it are the ones who are most negatively affected by unskilled immigration:

Surprisingly, in this recovery, the opposite pattern has prevailed thus far. The overall rate is down slightly, as is the white rate. But the unemployment rate for African Americans is up by 0.8 percentage points overall, driven by the 1.4 point increase for African American men.
It's basic supply and demand. As the supply of menial, marginal labor increases, the wage it commands decreases. Unskilled immigration creates a disincentive for the least skilled natives--those who have to physically work the hardest to get ahead--to participate in the labor market.

The WSJ's Henninger has more:

No matter how principled conservatives may think themselves on this issue, the fact remains that at crunch time they sent the market to the back of the southbound bus. Sounds much like the extra-market case their opponents make for the Kyoto Treaty. It also sounds like an argument for sending a $2,000 contribution to Hillary Clinton, so the country can be run by people who truly believe in managed economies.
Funny that he would bring up Hillary Clinton and the Kyoto Treaty, since he's in perfect agreement on immigration with the Democratic political class that so adamantly supports Kyoto-type governance, while there is a great deal of crossover between those in opposition to the Kyoto crowd and those opposed to Henninger's open borders position. And the massive wealth transfer from the productive to the impoverished that unfettered underclass immigration greatly accentuates is a perverse demonstration of the market (for handouts) working only too well.

That aside, this paragraph provides a window into the way a quixotic ideologue thinks. His concern is not with the American standard-of-living or quality of life (neither of which he even as much as alludes to), but with insuring laissez-faire policies are as uninhibited as possible. This orientation toward theory instead of reality separates dogmatists from empiricists.

Empiricists also realize that growing the size of an underachieving, undereducated, urbanly-concentrated, ethnic minority benefitting from affirmative action policies and that uses government welfare programs at greater rates than the public at large doesn't bode well for the future of limited government and minimal market regulation. Just as Europe is coming to grips with the fact that their quasi-socialist societies are untenable if largescale immigration from the Muslim world continues, libertarians in the West must realize that to maintain support for a "live and let live" society, most of the people in that society must believe that "live and let live" is the best way to go. There's little reason to believe our pals from the south are those people.

We turn now to an op/ed by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Ken Mehlman, who headed the RNC from 2005 until the end of 2006, presiding over the GOP's 2006 mid-term election disaster. Coming out a day after Rasmussen's revelation that the public isn't buying into the amnesty bill, the duo strikes a conciliatory tone:

Immigration reform is very tough. It's an issue that divides both political parties and, on the right, has led many close personal and ideological friends -- people we respect and whose criticism we take seriously -- to oppose new rules governing how people enter this country and how we handle those who are here illegally. But we hope our friends reconsider.

Haughty condescension hasn't done the trick. So the duo spends fourth-fifths of the piece assuring readers that they are concerned with the concerns of concerned Republicans and portraying the bill as a non-amnesty, set of tough enforcement measures that'll be good for the GOP. That segues into the one of the most absurd myths in recent American political history--that Proposition 187 doomed the Republican Party in California.

Of course, Prop 187's attempt to lessen the incentives for an illegal Hispanic underclass did not doom the Republican Party in California. It's failure to be implemented and built on doomed the GOP. The flight of the Golden State's white middle class (Republican stalwarts) and the influx of Mexican migrants (the ideal Democratic voter) has placed the GOP in permanent minority status there. Decreasing the number of people most likely to vote for you while increasing the number of people likely to vote against you is not a formula for long-term viability. And so California has become a Democratic stronghold.

Now to the WSJ op/ed board, which habitually employs the non sequitur of arguing in favor of continued unfettered Hispanic underclass immigration by pointing to the benefits associated with the most talented, highly-skilled immigrants. To the extent that any rational argument is presented in favor of vanguishing sovereignty, it is unsound:
Immigration policies should acknowledge that the U.S. is not producing enough home-grown computer scientists, mathematicians and engineers to fill our labor
needs. Last year, U.S. universities awarded more than half of their master's degrees and 71% of their Ph.D.s in electrical engineering to foreign nationals.

The admission of highly-skilled migrants is less objectionable than keeping the door wide open for unskilled masses. The biggest challenge is finding away to insure they remain in the US after enjoying the benefits of taxpayer-subsidized universities. With the highest absolute net migration in the world, we should leverage the desirability of coming stateside by requiring deposits that are held by the federal government (in the form of T-bonds) for some number of years before being made available to foreign students again.

But like the argument that young menials will shore up Social Security, the argument that says because natives are choosing more lucrative and less academically rigorous careers in finance and accounting at the expense of science and engineering we need to increase the uptake of skilled foreigners to fill the void is self-perpetuating. Both are Ponzi schemes.

When those menials, who are already net liabilities on the whole, eventually become eligible for Social Security benefits, more migrants will be required. All the while, lessening worker productivity and the increasing burden on other social services will decrease America's standard of living. As US tech companies like Microsoft and Oracle are able to hire more temporary Asian workers for a bargain, even fewer natives will see an incentive to go into tech industries. To "stay competitive", they'll need evermore H1-B visas.


JSBolton said...

It is definitely a non sequitir for the WSJ to pretend that if one believes in markets for one type of trade, one must want them for everything.
If they are implicitly suggesting that we sell security clearances to hostiles, green cards to terrorists, judgeships to mafiosi, and officers' commissions to foreign agents, and want to call that across-the-board, 'principled' consistency, they should at least not expect anyone to be fooled.
The main edditorial/propagandistic
thrust favoring amnesty is still smears.
The above-referenced editorials do not give rational arguments but fiction and non sequitir.
The reference to American ideals by tranzi elements is inconsistent, if they believe in no sovereignty but generic humanity. The Henninger demand for a certain faux-consistency cannot be aimed at anyone but theory-absorbed types, with little capacity of discrimination or willingness to consider applications as real-world happenings.

JSBolton said...

This quote from
is breathtaking for its candor.
It is actually asserted that restriction of immmigration from poor to rich countries, harms the poor of the world, by inducing labor-saving innovation.
Whether the author, Pritchett, would tell, if the poor of the world
could maintain or increase their numbers without the induced labor-saving innovation is another question.

May 31, 2007
Let's Increase Poverty
Arnold Kling

Lant Pritchett writes

[...] because unskilled labor is the primary asset of the poor world, it is hard to even imagine a policy more directly inimical to a poverty reduction agenda or to “pro-poor growth” than one limiting the demand for unskilled labor (and inducing labor-saving innovations).

Audacious Epigone said...


Wow, Kling's commentary is absurd. How does he defend his assertion across the expanse of human history? Have labor-saving inventions made humanity poorer, or fueled the rapid increase in living standards in the places that have (been able to) embrace them? A pedantic luddite. Who would've thought?

JSBolton said...

Kling may or may not subscribe to the Pritchett statements.
The implication seems clear enough, though: we are hurting low-income foreigners by not allowing them to flood in on whatever scale it takes, to turn our productivity levels sharply down enough, to get them employed here en masse.
This implies also a horrific nihilism; one in which we can cavalierly reverse technological progress, that of decades or even centuries, in order to briefly accomodate the reproductive preferences of barbarians in tropical pestholes, and possibly with very lasting destructive effect.
If, instead of brotherhood and equality with hostiles, scholars had loyalty to the continuity of the advancement of civilization, such preferences as Pritchett's would never be expressed, or at least, never approvingly quoted.