Immigration, Rac(ing), and Flexibility

Hopper.JPG

So Trent (and others, based on the underwhelming show of support for the current iteration of the immigration bill) are deeply upset over the porous nature of our borders. Not only does it impact the domestic economy as low-wage workers have the bottom cut out from under their wages, but it presents risks as terrorists potentially make use of the easy access across our borders to come here and make their plans, and it impacts domestic politics and culture as communities change to become “Little [Name Your Foreign City Here]”.

There’s a connection to the motorcycle picture, honest.I have concerns about immigration policy, but they are broader and far less apocalyptic, and I strongly believe that the concerns above are wrong, overblown, and in some cases dangerous.

Let’s go through them.

The biggest impact on wages hasn’t been at the bottom of the food chain, but on the high-wage industrial jobs which have been automated, exported, and deskilled. Border and immigration policy hasn’t materially changed that. The impact on low-skill low-wage service, agriculture, and distribution jobs has doubtless been real – but when we look at the hollowing out of the middle class in the US, we look more closely at the layoffs from Flint than we do at the wage pressures at Hormel or WalMart.

It’s fundamentally dishonest to conflate the real impact of globalization – in which high-wage US workers are now directly competing against lower-wage workers abroad – with the impact of porous borders in driving down US wages.

I refuse to believe that Trent really believes that it would be meaningfully difficult – in any non-Stalinist US regime – for 20 or 30 committed terrorists to get across the US borders. Locking down the borders tightly enough – and requiring a level of internal document control that would crank down illegal immigration to a level where we’d be safe from those 30 committed jihadis means we’re all living Winston Smith’s life. I’ll take a pass, thank you.

Yes, increasing immigration is changing the cultural and political complexion of communities around the country. That can be a good thing – if we embrace and incorporate those communities and make them a part of the US civic religion. We in the US have not had the kinds of closed, insular ethnic communities that we’ve seen in Europe – and the key element of our immigration policy needs to be ensuring that the cost of living in the US is embracing the civic religion enshrined in our politics, and working hard to dissolve the tribal bonds into individual and family connection to our polity.

In general, I do believe that we need to look at macro-level policies like this and embrace a certain level of mess. That’s called ‘flexibility.’

People who actually build things in the real word know that things flex and that we need to design systems to flex – in sometimes unpredictable ways.

The picture above is of a Grand Prix motorcycle (a Suzuki, bring ridden by John Hopkins), and one of the keys in designing fast racing motorcycles is designing in the correct amount of flex. If you don’t have it, the bike is unridable.

In designing policies around immigration and border security, maintaining awareness of flexibility and mess is critical. And no policy that doesn’t acknowledge that those exist isn’t a policy proposal and more than an inflexible motorcycle is a race winner. It’s a paperweight.

36 thoughts on “Immigration, Rac(ing), and Flexibility”

  1. Hear Hear (or Here Here, whichever is the correct spelling for the shout of assent).

    I don’t know who Winston Smith is but I doubt I’d want to live his life. I think A.L. has exposed the weaknesses in the standard arguments against the more moderate proposals to reform immigration.

    I’ll add my 2 cents: the guest worker program as envisioned in the proposed bill is fundamentally unfair. If we allow 400,000 workers in because of a need for them, we really ought to allow them a path to citizenship rather than require them to return home when we are done with them. Fairness aside, it’s silly to have 400,000 new workers come in every other year to be retrained, rehoused, etc. Not to mention the unliklihood that even half of the first crop will actually leave. Let ‘em, let ‘em work, let em stay and, for god’s sake, let ‘em vote. If they can’t vote, they shouldn’t be taxed.

  2. Wow, I agree with mark. I hate guest worker visas, even the H1-Bs. If you’re going to let someone in, let them become citizens. Otherwise, if they feel like staying, they will, and just become illegals. Meanwhile, you’re creating an indentured servant class. What’s the point again?

    Of course, I’d start smacking employers hard and build a wall on the border, not to keep terrorists out, but because I don’t think transmission of the “civic religion” that AL is promoting is possible when huge numbers of your residents are illegals. Also, no “guest worker” or legal-immigraton program can possibly be successful when there’s a cheaper, easier, faster path to work.

    I’d also increase legal immigration a heck of a lot to compensate for the wall.

    On the flip side, there’s no reason not to tax people who can’t vote. Every country on Earth taxes foreign residents on their shores.

  3. Rob, we’re soooo close to agreement here. Hard to believe. I realize, having so often been taxed abroad myself, that most foriegn countries tax non-citizens, but since “no taxation w/o represention” was such a rallying cry at our founding, it just doesn’t feel right when we do it. It wouldn’t be the first time we didn’t do something that virtually every other country in the world does do. My god, if you want to take that approach you’d pretty much HAVE to abolish the death penalty, sign Kyoto, make hand guns illegal, tax gas about $2 a gallon, and distribute condoms to reduce AIDS.

  4. _”I realize, having so often been taxed abroad myself, that most foriegn countries tax non-citizens, but since “no taxation w/o represention” was such a rallying cry at our founding, it just doesn’t feel right when we do it.”_

    Allowing non-citizens to participate in deciding the fate of our nation destroys ideals far older than that. The very concept of sovereignty is stood on its head (and that is definately a goal for many of the transnationals mixed up in this debate). Citizenship is about a lot more than where you happen to be living and working and paying taxes. We are opening ourselves up to some serious unintended consequences by offering the benefits of citizenship without the duties it entails- and taxation is only one of those duties.

    I very much think a path to citizenship is a wise move for these guest workers, and the truth is many of these migrant workers have no desire to be American citizens. A lot of hastle for little payoff. The ones willing to do the legwork, pass the tests, swear the oath- those are the ones we want anyway.

    But, again, voting is the core of our democracy. Mark, as wrong as it feels to tax someone without letting them vote- i feel that much more wrong about allowing someone to vote without swearing to uphold and defend this nation. The simple reality is that millions of foriegners pay taxes here, from simple tourists to business people to migrant workers to permanent residents. Where do you draw the line? Should the German family visiting Disney World be allowed to vote because they are dropping a federal security tax on their airline ticket?

    I am willing to go a long way to welcome people that want nothing but to work hard and build a better life. But some things are holy, and citizenship shouldnt be cheapened by offering its rewards to everyone that can fill out a W2 without taking on the duties and allegiances that defend us.

  5. mark,

    The colonists who were being taxed were British subjects who merely wished to insist on their rights as Englishmen. They weren’t in a foreign country, they were in their own country (at least as a matter of law–insert rant about rape of the peaceful indigeouns population here).

    If foreigners in the US want American police protection, American military protection, independant American courts to promote the rule of law and economic growth, American education for their kids, and an American public defender, then they can pay for it, vote or no vote. Cry me a river and go home if you don’t like it. Or become a citizen; I’m fine with that, too.

  6. Looking at the practical side of immigration, I don’t care if the illegals become citizens; I want them to pay FICA and income tax to support my social security and to pay for roads, hospitals, fire departments, etc. So, my point is, drastically increase our immigration quotas.

  7. Vicky:

    The problem is, they will never pay taxes in any significant form to make up for their use of services.

    Secondly, knowing what we know about how our government works (an oxymoron indeed) what honestly is going to stop businesses from hiring more illegals and continuing to use the cheapest labor possible over the labor of the newly Z-Visa’d pseudo-legals?

    To listen to Congress describe it, they will be able to stop all illegal immigration with the swipe of e pen. When in reality, we all know that illegals will continue to come here and work under the table, companies will continue to find ways to exploit them, and the end result will be yet another failed amnesty program with the promise of “no more amnesties” for the future.

    We all know how those promises tend to work out don’t we.

  8. Flexibility is one thing, plasticity another.

    If something is flexible, it snaps back to what it was.

    Placticity means the item changes non-reversibly. Under pressure, it deforms, and stays deformed; like a twisted bicycle wheel that was straight once but never will be again.

    Armed Liberal: “Yes, increasing immigration is changing the cultural and political complexion of communities around the country. That can be a good thing – if we embrace and incorporate those communities and make them a part of the US civic religion.”

    Is that flexibility or plasticity? Assimilation or salad-tray multiculturalism?

    If you have in mind assimilation, great, I’m all for it. But then one has to (a) select out those it won’t work on, and (b) apply it vigorously and persistently with those it will work on. (For the Europeans, (a) is the key, and for the Americans, who have been luckier in their neighbor, (b) is the key.)

    What do you have in mind to further the goal of assimilation? And I would like hear more than “tolerance for mess” even though tolerance for mess – as long as the mess is moving in the right direction – is indeed part of successful assimilation?

    Or if it’s multiculturalism and plasticity that lie behind your words – please talk about what your ideal ridable bike gains from structures that bend out of shape from the pressure of riding, and stay bent. Permanently bent spokes, permanently bent frames, that buckled under pressure and never recovered – are these things indispensable to a ridable bike?

  9. Locking down the borders tightly enough – and requiring a level of internal document control that would crank down illegal immigration to a level where we’d be safe from those 30 committed jihadis means we’re all living Winston Smith’s life.

    Sangre de Cristo! Now who’s being alarmisty? Surely you have to admit that 30 committed jihadis is one thing, but as many jihadis as they want, any time they want, with US officials deliberately turning a blind eye is something else. Any skilled crew can rob a bank, but that’s no reason to leave the money in the street.

    As for Winston Smith, at the time Orwell wrote 1984, he and his fellow countrymen were living Winston Smith’s life. Anthony Burgess wrote that 1984 was not that different from 1948 Socialist-ruled Britain. While Americans were living it up, Brits were living on severely rationed food years after the war was over, and it was nearly impossible to leave the country unless you had money and connections. Parliament even passed a bill to draft labor, though they never dared to implement it. It was precisely the socialist-fascist centralized authority that Hayek had warned about a few years earlier, albeit tempered by a British lack of ruthlessness.

    That’s exactly the future that some people envision for us, and when the distinction between a citizen and a non-citizen becomes irrelevant, and the difference between law and illegality depends on politics, they’ll be a large step closer to it.

  10. I can’t believe Mark could have such a foolish opinion about something so important. There is no place for flex in a good motorcycle frame. That is what the suspension is for. You can properly damp a swingarm or fork. Frame flex is undamped and will result in uncontrollable oscillations. If you want it to bend put a hinge there with a proper damper. Otherwise you want it as rigid as possible.

  11. In reverse order…

    Josh, you need to catch up. I’d suggest any of the articles by Jerry Burgess (Vale’s crew chief) on the MotoGP or Superbike Planet sites…what you say is absolutely not true. No time for cites, but I may try and add some.

    Glen, there are a bunch of exaggerations in your view of postwar, ration-heavy Britain. But explain if you will the operational advantage of 10,000 jihadis snuck into the US? You have to feed and house them, create a massive layer of management and control – which makes it much more likely that you’ll be found out. The reality is that keeping terrorists out of the US is an exercise in probabilities, and getting them into the US certainly isn’t a hard enough problem – absent Soviet-style border and internal controls – to matter.

    David – do I have assimilation in mind? You betcha. Does it mean they will all go to a Methodist church with TG? No. But as I’ve noted my neighbors are Mexican and Iranian – and as American as I am.

    A.L.

  12. Glen:

    You are perhaps aware that the HBO series “Deadwood” has as a core the study of what happens when there is an effort put forth that there be order, but no law.

    Another kindred situation (and the one the “Deadwood” creator originally pitched to HBO) is the Imperial police force in Rome during the time of Emperor Nero.

    Tick tick tick, it wears off. It (the American experiment)’s had a pretty good run. Have you seen Bill Whittle’s latest piece over at Ejectejecteject.com?

  13. AL –

    Glen, there are a bunch of exaggerations in your view of postwar, ration-heavy Britain.

    If so, the exaggeration is Burgess’s, not mine, but like Hayek and Orwell he lived through that period (which also inspired his own book, A Clockwork Orange). But how is it exaggerated? A British ration card in 1948 entitled you to buy one egg a month. Civilians were not allowed to leave the country until the end of 1947, at which time Brits were astounded to learn that the French had food. Which gives you some idea of how tightly the government had controlled information. Even the BBC called 1945-1955 “the lost decade.”

    There was no good reason for such privation, just as there is no good reason why the beautiful country of Mexico is a cesspool. You might have noticed the immigration radicals who have vowed to bring that “revolution” northwards.

    The reality is that keeping terrorists out of the US is an exercise in probabilities, and getting them into the US certainly isn’t a hard enough problem – absent Soviet-style border and internal controls – to matter.

    I think, firstly, that you vastly underestimate the capability of law enforcement to defend against terrorist threats without being the NKVD, provided they are not overwhelmed. Secondly, you seem to argue that border control is hopeless. Israel couldn’t afford to agree. To them the difference between some terrorists and a lot of terrorists is profound, and the Palestinian terror network has not had any problem managing the thousands of men, women and children that they have deployed to murder Israelis.

  14. I am a software engineer, and pretty smart.

    Any “intelligence worker” that fears competition from cheap foreigners doesn’t really understand economics. The pie is not of fixed size. More intelligent people working in highly productive areas is a good thing.

    The more PhDs China and India produces, the more we _benefit_.

    Either way, no minority is so important as to deserve special status — especially considering that the majority that really enjoyu their cheap services would suffer.

    Even if your job were at risk, my guess is that you wouldn’t stay long in the industry anyway if you don’t think you could cut it. All good engineers I know are an inch away from starting their own companies — because they have good ideas and the will to pull them off. It isn’t like it was decades ago, for lower skilled people: if you get downsized, and you know how to program, you’ve just been freed to start that web company.

    Also, I urge you to look at some stats about how immigration affects wages. The point: not as much as you think
    http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2007/03/borjas_wages_an.html
    http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2007/05/borjas_whats_hi.html

    Finally, most people that look at the “cost” of immigration, don’t take into account the huge benefit to millions and millions of people: the immigrants.

    Is there something bad about 12 million people moving to a place where they can be more productive.

    Finally, if you don’t like the costs of a welfare state, blame the STATE! What a great way to reform: we can’t afford these programs and help these masses of immgrants: cut & reform the programs!

  15. Mark B. (& Rob), Up to a point, I agree. I think we all 3 feel that those who come here and work eventually deserve citizenship and the right to vote. I dind’t mean to suggest that non-citizens vote, or that we automatically make someone a citizen the day they receive their first paycheck with witholdings. I meant to say that if they do work here and are taxed they should be given the right to pursue citizenship under a reasonable process.

    Rob, you wrote: “i feel that much more wrong about allowing someone to vote without swearing to uphold and defend this nation.”

    I’m not sure I agree with that. First of all, I vote every year and have for over 30 years now, but don’t recall ever being asked to swear to anything other than I was who I claimed to be. I never passed any tests nor was I required to have any particular opinion about civics, civic duties or anything at all. I could be an anti-assimilation, communist, atheist pro-redchina lesbian vegitarian and still vote just because my mom happened to give birth to me on US soil.

    My citizenship is not a reward or exchange for anything done or given on my part. Just pure luck.

  16. Mark,

    1) I didn’t write that. 2) In large measure I agree with your “just luck” analysis–and frankly there are an awful lot of hard-working illegals I like a lot better than some of our domestically-produced welfare layabouts who live on in state housing and subsist on state money their whole lives (like Bill Clinton)–except to note that most people form a certain attachment to the land of their birth, so it is more important to extract an oath out of born-abroads than out of native Americans, so to speak.

  17. I think we all agree then. We should be actively encouraging citizenship, and to be quite honest those that want to pursue citizenship are by and large wonderful prospects. They are generally very hard workers, strong families, strong heritage, and really want to be here. We could use that kind of infusion imo. We just have to get this whole lawbreaking thing put to bed.

    As far as the citizenship point, I was the one who mentioned it. Its true when you are born here you dont have to swear any oaths- but we did used to pledge our allegiance every day in school, and one of the requirements for graduating my public HS was state and federal constitution tests, so there were some reasonably strong prods towards basic civic virtue. Not sure where that stands these days, but i suspect its much the same in most places. Moreover every male must register for the draft, which i think is a big deal and should be extended to women as well. I don’t forsee or want a draft, but it is kind of a wakeup call for 18 year olds that you are expected to defend your nation in times of emergency.

  18. “I don’t forsee or want a draft, but it is kind of a wakeup call for 18 year olds that you are expected to defend your nation in times of emergency”.

    This is something I have long debated (in my own mind). National pride is at a relative low, especially among youth. At the same time, recent graduates are dying under a mountain of debts. I really think we could kill two birds with one stone here.

    I think the military is not the right fit for everyone (it certainly is a wrong fit for me), but the idea of some mandatory national service is a good one. Maybe a choice between two years in Americorps, two years in Peacecorps, two years in the military, or hell, even mandatory part-time community service is not such a bad idea. I think these types of programs would force people (especially youth) to get their hands dirty in places where the country really needs help.

    I think having some expectations for local service from immigrants is not such a bad idea either. Even something as simple as joining a PTA is a faborable sign that this person is going to be an active american.

  19. #7 Gabriel,

    Good point. I should have been more thoughtful in my comment instead of just tossing it out there. I believe that illegal immigration should NOT be be encouraged (I don’t really know how you could completely stop it without becoming a police state). However, the illegals currently in the country are not contributing to local, state, or federal taxes other than sales tax and yet they use public services. I believe that one solution for some of our illegal immigration problems is to loosen the restrictions we have on our quotas. I find them to be extremely biased and unfair.

  20. I refuse to believe that Trent really believes that it would be meaningfully difficult – in any non-Stalinist US regime – for 20 or 30 committed terrorists to get across the US borders. Locking down the borders tightly enough – and requiring a level of internal document control that would crank down illegal immigration to a level where we’d be safe from those 30 committed jihadis means we’re all living Winston Smith’s life. I’ll take a pass, thank you.

    I’m not sure the Israelis would agree with you. They found that the after building a fence (which is closer to what the anti-illegal immigration activists has been pushing for rather than your Stalinist strawman) they were better control entry into their nation significantly reduced the chance of a terrorist attack. The other benefits to the United States would be (a) fewer criminals (something like 40% of the inmates in our prison system are illegal aliens), (b) less of a drain on taxpayer-funded services by illegal aliens, and (c) cut down on drug trafficking (although I’m more sympathetic to arguments for relegalization myself).

  21. Thorley, given a choice between a fence by itself and the deep and useful networks of informants and spies they have in Gaza and the West Bank – which do you think the Israelis would choose?

    A.L.

  22. Thorley, given a choice between a fence by itself and the deep and useful networks of informants and spies they have in Gaza and the West Bank – which do you think the Israelis would choose?

    I’m not sure the analogy works because AFAIK no one has suggested that Mexico is the source of terrorism but rather that it is the conduit through which terrorists might enter the United States along with the millions of other illegal aliens (which are responsible for both a significant part of our crime problem and a drain on taxpayer funded services). In which case the fence would serve to close or at least greatly curtail the conduit to prevent their invasion of the United States. As far as creating “deep and useful networks of informants and spies” – by all means we should create them . . . in countries where we think the terrorists are located. I’m not sure such a network in Mexico would be that useful.

  23. “Thorley, given a choice between a fence by itself and the deep and useful networks of informants and spies they have in Gaza and the West Bank – which do you think the Israelis would choose”

    Why choose? The reality is when given the choice they have taken both.

  24. I was mostly just ball busting about the frame flex. But you will have a hard time convincing me I want frame flex. I’m a motocrosser so I’m not aware of what Jerry Burgess has said about it. But I have heard the arguments again and again in MX circles. First it was upside down forks were too rigid. What does everyone use now? Super fat (48mm!) upside down forks. (The original “too rigid” forks were 43mm.) Next it was aluminum perimeter frames, same too rigid arguments and now nearly everything out there uses an aluminum frame.

    It seems like every time new technology has allowed more rigidity without a weight trade off it has been adopted almost immediately. I’m sure when someone makes a carbon fiber monocoque bike people will say too rigid again. Then within 5 years it will be the only thing out there.

  25. Nortius — the liberal fantasy of what Deadwood was, as opposed to the reality, says more about the liberal mindset than the true history of Western boomtowns.

    If you read say, Twain’s account of Virginia City, it’s clear that there was both law and order, though not of the kind we associate with safe and historically rare suburbia. It was also far less dangerous than the gang-controlled Eastern cities like New York. Deadwood and other boomtowns had less per-capita murders than say the Five Points neighborhood. Among other things ethnic gangs simply weren’t present.

    Take the Vigilance Committees in San Francisco. They only happened after the law and order clearly failed, gang chieftans killing men like James King of William (who had many friends, most of them small business owners and Mexican War Vets). People self-organized, raised a militia, raided the National Guard Armory, took over the Jail and hung a few gang leaders. Just to make their point. Sherman pointedly declined to take them on. After a month or so they went home. Their point was well understood though. They’d fought in a war, were still relatively young, were not about to let their hard-won money be stolen by Gang leaders from NYC. And would fight and kill if need be. Using the same social organization that they would for say, benevolent societies.

    Not perhaps angst-ridden Hollywood drama dreamed out by coke-addled screenwriters in their Malibu mansions. But the historical reality.

    The implication here is that various elites are going to mess over the average joe and jane, for the benefit of creating a constant underclass that is “better” i.e. more subservient and cheaper. There won’t (thankfully) be a vigilant committee, but there will be hard political action that will cost a number of the elites. Joe Average knows well and good who is going mess over him and why it’s being done. Who? Whom?

  26. However, the illegals currently in the country are not contributing to local, state, or federal taxes other than sales tax and yet they use public services.

    This is simply untrue. Unless of course you believe that renters don’t pay property tax which is pretty inane.

    Additionally, it’s estimated in one study that illegal workers have paid over 50 billion dollars in Social Security taxes and, though there is a method for them to declare these payments, very few do.

  27. Ivan,

    Interesting points. I partially agree with you about globalization being a globally good thing for those who were really starving a few decades ago.

    I’m a SE at Chrysler nee DCX and my take is that we are in fact, linked to global pressures. I don’t completely agree that the immigration is as positive an economic input at you say. However, the influx has been met with economic growth of some sort, or else the unemployment stats in the US mean nothing.

    The bottom line, however, is that if you mix hot and cold, you get lukewarm. Bringing in millions of low skilled and barely literate people will not increase America’s global competitiveness over the short term. What synergies may develop over the longer term, I can’t say.

    We are in for local decline and I am, in fact, preparing to bet on it. Those in the fortunate classes will have more disposable income, and more and cheaper goods and services available, but many/most will be in a growing lower class that will have less medical care, poorer food, and less social mobility than the Americans of the latter half of the twentieth century.

    Point in Case ;-]

    “We think the historic American approach to things is to run full blast, pay out as high as you can in the short term while times are good, and then when times go bust, you lay people off, you shut plants and you destroy communities,” said Pete Gritton, a Toyota vice president who oversees human resources at the company’s plant. “Toyota does not want to do that.”
    Gritton said adjusting pay scales would ultimately translate into stable employment for American autoworkers. He said Toyota is seeking to maintain cost-effective growth in the United States so it can compete with low-wage countries such as China, Mexico and Brazil.

    “WAPO Link”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/25/AR2007052502458.html?hpid=artslot

    This is from numero uno. Those auto jobs were 30-40/hour before Toyota broke into the Big Three/UAW hegemony. Now they want to take 23-27/hour down to 15 or so to stay competitive. The cost of living in the USA has not dropped that much. Everywhere I look, the unskilled are locked at 8-10/hour and the traditional avenues to the middle class of construction and factory are being dragged down below 20/hour.

    I think this means labor’s place the middle class is in trouble. Can all 400 million of us make new web sites and be entrepreneurs?

    I look at the ‘folks’ and I shake my head. What brave new world are we headed into?

  28. Oh, and another good point in the case.

    “Kevin Drum says we are shrinking too”:http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2007_05/011380.php

    Curious. Have these twenty to thirty years of accelerated undocumented immigration and globalization of manufacture been good for us?

    Kevin Drum is pointing to a joint study from big name think tanks, including the reliably conservative AEI:

    Recent studies suggest that there is less economic mobility in the United States than has long been presumed. The last thirty years
    has seen a considerable drop-off in median household income growth
    compared to earlier generations. And, by some measurements, we
    are actually a less mobile society than many other nations, including
    Canada, France, Germany and most Scandinavian countries. This
    challenges the notion of America as the land of opportunity.

    I mean, cuz, you can say anything, but I have worked and lived in Detroit for thirty years now, and what I’ve seen, I saw. Some things have in fact gotten better due to competition and automation, but the overall drift is going to whack unskilled and semi-skilled labor into the crapper. Even the two year wonders that get the ‘good’ jobs like respiratory therapist, etc. will be struggling to get 12-15/hour.

    If you can be protected professionals like a doctor or lawyers, or do hit the good enterprenuer jackpot, then cool. Otherwise, hope you got mad hoop skilz or sumpthin.

    So my question to Ivan, etal, is: Do the Mexican’s help us in this or not? My guess is not. I am open to some new information, but I’m thinking a read of the history of labor in the first half of the twentieth century is in order. We may be doomed to repeat it.

  29. But explain if you will the operational advantage of 10,000 jihadis snuck into the US? You have to feed and house them, create a massive layer of management and control – which makes it much more likely that you’ll be found out.

    Hmmmm. Gonna disagree with you on several accounts Marc.

    First, welfare and illegal activities such as cigarette smuggling and drugs works quite well in funding jihadi cells.

    Second, who says that the 10,000 would all belong to one centralized organization with middle management and command/control structures? Far more likely that there would be a lot of cells, some loosely coordinated, many unaware of their counterparts, reporting through various channels to points of contact in, say, the Iranian security aparatus or via Islamacist mosques.

    And third, the Clinton years demonstrated unambiguously that once unrestricted immigration is accepted in principle then bureaucratic enforcement of regulations on the books is for all intents and purposes ignored. It matters what we say about immigration — and it matters that we mean it.

    That said, our legal mechanisms for immigration are FUBAR’d and need a serious overhaul plus expansion. But what we don’t need is more poorly educated people with few job skills. What we need is more assimilated citizens from whereever who bring initiative, a deep appreciation for our way of life and a willingness to work hard and embrace education as a path for their children and grandchildren to prosper.

  30. Davebo:

    Additionally, it’s estimated in one study that illegal workers have paid over 50 billion dollars in Social Security taxes and, though there is a method for them to declare these payments, very few do.

    And another study has estimated that illegals will cost the system trillions more than they contribute, especially as they grow older. You think 50 billion dollars over the years is a lot of money? It’s chump change compared to what the government collects in payroll taxes from legal workers.

    If we could run the schools and public services for 50 billion dollars over that period of time, this would be a great deal. Unfortunately, it won’t even pay for garbage disposal, even if we pay exploited persons three bucks an hour to do it.

    Granted, the South American illegal is much to be preferred to the European variety they have in France, who lives off the state dole in a hostile ethnic enclave and refuses to work, unless burning cars and hassling Jews is work. Even with all of our problems we are much better off than Europe, but the Mexican illegal will be a massive net liability to us all the same – without any ill intention on his part – so long as he remains illegal.

    If playing by the rules and paying into the system is not so important, then why should any working class American citizen do it? Why should any workers fork over payroll tax – aren’t they contributing their labor to society? Aren’t they doing jobs that the fat classes are unwilling or unable to do?

    What are you going to do if the little people refuse to pay taxes, except when they feel like it? Are you going to round them all up and put them in jail? Is Michael Chertoff going to execute all of them?

    Seriously, it is up to proponents of “legal illegality” to prove that illegals are not a net liability, or that illegals are providing some indispensable benefit in exchange for the cost. And if that could be done, it should apply to all Americans. All Americans should have the option of working for employers who do not deduct full payroll taxes.

    But of course, it can’t be done, not even with Amazing Paul Krugman Math. All you have at the end of all the calculations are employers who want to exploit cheap labor (and who – beyond their wildest dreams – suddenly have a left-wing cheering section and amen chorus!) and politicians who want to exploit cheap votes. And you have worse people, who are just out to wreck the despised “system” at any cost.

  31. Molon Labe:

    First, welfare and illegal activities such as cigarette smuggling and drugs works quite well in funding jihadi cells.

    Amen. Such as the massive car theft rings based in Canada.

    Organized crime creates very efficient systems of “management and control” – it is vastly more effective than traditional political revolutionary organization.

  32. The security-against terrorism problem is not one of 30 friends of Mr. Atta slipping across the border unnoticed. The problem is one of large numbers of people coming across the border by whatever means and, hypothetically speaking of course, all settling in Dearborn, Michigan.

    The biggest heartache for our soldiers and Marines in Iraq is not only losing a comrade to one of those IED explosions (used to be called mines) in the road, but knowing that such a massive explosion that made any armor moot required a tremendous amount of excavation in said road, and all of the civilians gathered around acting developmentally disabled and mute at least had to have had some inkling of the road construction activity required to place that mine. This is not to say said civilians are stupid, because said terrorists had waved guns in their faces and directed them to act that way, but there is anger among our fighting men and women “why don’t these people take charge of their country and turn in the terrorists?”

    Now if 30 terrorists snuck into the country past our porous borders and engaged in something as obvious as planting 1000 lbs of explosives underneath a road, in this country, people would be falling all over themselves to give some kind of account to the police.

    Why is the Flying Imams incident such a big deal? Because it is playing on our sense of fair play and multiculturalism, or at least sense of hospitality to people of other cultures, to get people to act stupid in this country, which currently is not the mind set here. It was really hard to pull of 9-11, and it was a string of bad luck of some obvious goings on that would have had those goons brought in to help the FBI with their inquiries.

    Uncontrolled and unregulated immigration is potentially dangerous, not because small numbers of Islamist terrorists, Mexican drug lords, Basque separatists sneak across the border. It is dangerous to the extent that we create foreign-other enclave communities where those small numbers of terrorists can be the fish swimming among the sympathetic or perhaps intimidated sea. Immigration reform needs to be evaluated not on whether small numbers of enemy agents can get across the border but on how the large number of immigrants granted amnesty view themselves and on what kind of communities they form. Will they trust the police? Or will their communities become “no go” zones? Will they see themselves as Americans or as strangers living in a strange land?

  33. Want a rational immigration policy with Mexico.

    1. Recognize that there is no southern border and there never has been. Mexicans and Americans have been going back and forth forever. The sealing of the border with Troops, Walls, UAVs, infrared sensors and whatever is simply a waste of time and money which will only impede the flow of labor which the U.S. economy needs.
    2. Recognize that a sealing of the border without a rational guest worker program actually makes the country less safe because it puts money into the hands of criminals who will think of ways to get around the security. There is a much better chance of someone getting into the country through the desert than through the border checkpoints.
    3. Have a simple Guest worker program that allows for workers to come, repeatedly on a seasonal basis and gives the worker some benefits.
    4. Make the price for employers who hire undocumented workers under the new simpler system prohibitive and enforce that.
    5. Make the price of overstaying the temporary visa the loss of all further right of entry into the U.S.
    6. Look at the “problem” as a matter of back and forth Migration, not as a matter of invasion.
    7. The problem is one of demand, more than supply. Mexico is the 9th largest economy in the world. The economy is expanding and will continue to. The demads of the American economy will continue to attract Mexican workers to what has always been a market for their labor.
    8. If you treat this like the the drug problem is treated, no real attempt to curtail the demand, you will get the equivalent of the Mexican Drug Cartels which are created by the demand for Drugs in the U.S.

    For the most part, Mexicans want to cross the border to do work that is required in the U.S. and then return to Mexico.

    I live in Mexico, In the rural areas, Almost every man from 18 to 80 has crossed the border to work in the north. Then they return. If you are worried about Illegal immigrants staying in the States, make it simple for the Migrant force to cross the border and return.

  34. To continue:

    The general approach to the immigration issue itself makes no sense. Temporary low wage workers from Mexico and Central America are not the same as highly skilled workers from all over the world.

    Foreigners are educated here, achieved post graduate degrees and are forced to leave. In the sciences and technology, this is economic suicide.

    I had a high tech company, my client base included Merril Lynch, Time Inc., HP, Citigroup, etc. I was based in New York. 7 of my 28 employees were born in the United States the 21 who weren’t were all legal and I paid them a fortune. All of these people were educated in the U.S., wanted to stay and were looking forward to become citizens. I helped a good number of them get their Visas. Not that I was looking, but the percentage of Americans looking for Highly skilled jobs in tech was minuscule. Most of the clerical work was handled by West Indians, who, BTW are climbing the ladder in the Banking World from the positions the took over the past 20 to 30 years as tellers. They took these positions because they were jobs that no Americans wanted or because the Americans that did were not qualified to take them.

    The large cities in America are becoming prohibitively expensive for a lower middle class to be able to live, yet these are precisely where workers are needed.

    In My experience, the foreigners were much more willing to postpone gratification and take these types of jobs, pursue education and generally strive for advancement than Americans in similar economic circumstances.

    A poor educational system and a sense of entitlement are major factors that hinder Americans in their search for jobs. No one wants to face these realities. Nor does anyone want to look at the economic and security requirements of the country in a rational way.

    The world is a dangerous place, but that shouldn’t make us demonize foreigners or make it next to impossible for them to fulfill the requirements that our country has.

    1. It has been quite a while since the country has been well above the full employment/unemployment figures, so taking jobs away from Americans is a rather weak argument.
    2. Wall building to disrupt a centuries old international labor exchange between Mexico and the U.S. doesn’t either.
    3. Forcing people out into the desert rather than through an orderly process at border crossings only plays into the hands of those people who are unscrupulous enough to help terrorists enter the States
    4. But Sending people home who have received a higher education here, much of which is subsidized at taxpayer expense is the height of folly.

  35. Oh, and another good point in the case.
    Kevin Drum says we are shrinking too

    Evidently neither you nor Drum have actually read the “report” beyond the pretty bar graphs. Whenever something like this comes out and gets parroted by the pundits, it usually pays to go straight to the footnotes:

    15 Income for Figures 4 and 5 is adjusted using the Consumer Price Index Research Series Using Current Methods (CPI-U-RS). Personal income and family income include before-tax earnings, interest and dividends from capital, cash benefits from government programs (such as Social Security, welfare, or unemployment compensation), pension or retirement income, child support and other cash income. It does not include the value of non-cash compensation such as employer-contributions to health insurance and retirement benefits, nor do they include the effect of taxes or non-cash benefits such as food stamps.

    18 As with Figure 5, income includes before tax earnings, interest, rent, government cash assistance, pension, child support, and other cash income. It does not include the value of non-cash compensation such as employer-contributions to health insurance and retirement benefits, the effect of taxes or non-cash benefits. (See note 15.)

    Sound familiar? It should because Drum and others were trying to peddle the same garbage before the last couple of elections about “rising inequality” and “wage stagnation” when people who actually know a thing or two about economics pointed out that you cannot simply compare the take-home pay someone got 30 years ago with what someone is taking home today. Not when today’s workers are getting more and more of their actual compensation in the form of non-cash benefits.

    The “report” is garbage.

  36. #35

    I did in fact read the report. Your point might be valid, but do you have any counter reports to link? And, how much of the increase in non-cash benefits is offset by the increased relative cost of health care?

    I am open to new info, but my gut is still telling me that low-skilled and light-skilled labor is losing ground in todays economy. I don’t see you making a point refuting that – yet.

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