Thursday, June 14, 2007

They're Taking Our Jobs We Wouldn't Take Anyway!

It seems like I write so much about immigration on my blog that I should just give up and make it a full-time immigration blog. There are a couple of reasons for it I think. One is that the people who want to see immigrants out of this country are far too loud and they monopolize the conversation. I would like to bring a different perspective to this for people to be able to make up their minds by hearing both sides of the conversation instead of just the obnoxious guy in the corner. The other is because I honestly think that maybe I can make a difference, in the sense that my relatively meager readership might change something that the Wall Street Journal can't. Granted, the second is much less likely, but you never know. A few more thoughts on immigration for you, other than my quick link in the prior post.
First, I was at the Utah State Republican Convention this past Saturday and heard Senator Bob Bennett get hammered by the delegates (or at least the vocal minority) for thinking of supporting any kind of immigration bill that would provide "amnesty" (defined by the Eagle Forum, Minutemen, and so on as anything short of deportation and/or death for illegal immigrants). Never mind that he had some good points: we have to have some level of a guest worker program for this to work, otherwise the Law of Supply and Demand will do something to get things back in equilibrium. This could mean that illegal immigrants cross the border. It could mean that companies pack up and leave the United States. It could mean that robots take over the world a la The Matrix. The point is that something would have to give, and the path of least resistance is an increase in illegal immigration. His second point is that to get rid of all the illegals you'd have to deport 6 Utahs. Imagine packing everyone in Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming, and Montana up and sending them somewhere else (assuming 12 million illegals) or adding New Mexico, Colorado, North Dakota, and South Dakota to that mix (assuming 20 million illegals). That is a herculean feat without even considering that you can't just wall off some states and take care of business - these people are enmeshed within society. It's so close to impossible that only one government in the history of the world has been able to come close to accomplishing. For the sake of avoiding hyperbole I shouldn't mention the country, but it's Nazi Germany. Many governments have killed more, but the mass deportation of citizens is something that is within the logistical capabilities of only the best organized totalitarian states.
I had one delegate who I quite like as a person shout that we should have land mines and machine guns at the border. Honestly, should we turn our border into a DMZ? Is that what we want people to think of the United States when they think of us – “sure, they’re great when they want to be, but look at how they’re killing Mexicans because they just wanted a better life.” There are such things as hard power and soft power, and by making the US-Mexico border look like North-South Korea or Israel-Gaza, it completely obliterates our soft power. This is without even considering the moral perspective of having soldiers cut down migrant workers on the Arizona border. Can you imagine sending someone off to “war” and they get sent down to a pillbox in San Diego to shoot Mexican families? Why do we stop there? If we’re going to militarize the Mexican border in the name of national security, why not do the same to the Canadian border? Let’s recommission our World War II battleships (Missouri, New Jersey, Iowa) and move our frigates and aegis cruisers 50 miles off the US coast and blow any boat that might be a threat out of the water. We could do the same with our airspace, maybe become “Fortress America” and hide in our hidey hole, waiting for someone to attack.
Of course, that’s how it could be if this was actually about national security. Instead we don’t have people calling for these steps (well some do, but it’s such a minority that you never hear about them. Instead this is about people who don’t want the United States to be any different. They don’t want change, and I understand that change can be frightening. At the same time, calling Mexicans minions of Satan and any number of unprintable epithets isn’t the way to resolve those concerns. Of course, there are also those bigoted people who have turned their anger from the Irish, Poles, Chinese, Japanese, African-Americans, Italians, Indians, Native Americans, and so on down the line to Hispanics, the last bastion of acceptable racial hatred. While many immigrants haven’t done the best job in pleading their case by burning the American flag, telling people that it was their land originally anyway, etc, that’s no reason to throw them out. It’s like the scene in Napoleon Dynamite where Pedro uses a Summer Wheatley piñata as part of his campaign. It’s fine in Mexico, but not here. They may not have gathered that that is very disrespectful and hurts their cause. They could also be jerks, but who knows.
The fact is that they are just the latest wave in a long line of immigrants. I would venture to guess that everybody who lives in the US who reads this is the progeny of immigrants. You have no right to say “well, my ancestors are the last acceptable group to come here, tough luck…should have come sooner.” That’s not how it works. If you and yours have benefited from the immigration policies of the US, you should not begrudge someone for doing the same, especially when they’re doing better than your ancestors at things like learning English and having jobs. Some may scoff and say that they’re a drag on the economy, however, as the WSJ mentions:
The Social Security Administration trustees agree with the original Heritage study (Simon's) and conclude in their latest actuarial report that the unfunded liabilities of Social Security "decrease with increasing rates of net immigration . . . Each additional 100,000 net immigrants increase the long-range actuarial balance by about 0.07 percent of taxable payroll." What does that mean for the Treasury? The net present value of the net payroll taxes paid over benefits received from one million immigrants per year is just shy of $2 trillion through 2080. Even low-skilled immigrants are net contributors to the trust fund. Heritage once made this point itself, notably in a 1998 study by economist William Beach, who calculated that Hispanics -- especially young, single males -- pay far more into Social Security than they receive over their lifetimes. Mr. Beach found that, in 1997 dollars, a typical Hispanic couple would receive $347,000 less in lifetime benefits than they pay in, allowing for a normal rate of return on payroll taxes. Maybe Heritage ought to dust off those intellectual archives, unless it's decided to bend to the fashions of the moment. Correcting for this overstatement of retirement and education costs erases most of Mr. Rector's alleged fiscal deficit. What about the other $30 billion or so a year? Well, it turns out that about six of 10 native-born American households also receive more in government services than they pay in taxes. No one would suggest that 60% of native-born Americans are economic drains; why conclude this of low-skilled immigrants?


Cheeth said...

I agree with you. Let them in, and let capitalism reign.

Also, I wanted to make sure you know that the UVSC baseball field will be named after Brent Brown, which is awesomely ghetto. He's now a homeless man's Larry Miller. The greatest thing is he's giving 1,000,000 dollars over like ten years, which doesn't actually seem that amazing to me.

Scott Roche said...

"One is that the people who want to see immigrants out of this country are far too loud and they monopolize the conversation."

This is a problem in far too many important conversations. As one of your loyal readers I can say that I like reading what you have to say. Keep it up!

Sorro said...

Cheeth and Scott,

Also, I didn't know that Parkway Crossing gave up the naming rights. Brent Brown is the ghetto LHM, and I'd love to use and abuse his free tires for life policy, if I actually would consider buying a car from him. Instead of Brent Brown Stadium though, it should be called the Bend Over Backwards Stadium.

Cheeth said...

I actually guffawed aloud at your name idea for the stadium. Well played.