Melting Pot or Civil War?

A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders

[Amazon Link]

As you can see right there in the subtitle, the author, Reihan Salam, is the son of immigrants, specifically Bangladeshi. And he's obviously a success story. And yet…

It's a relatively short book (under 200 pages) and Reihan's thesis is pretty simple: our current immigration system lets in way too many low-skilled immigrants. Why is this bad?

Well, first, we should note that it's a pretty good deal for those low-skill immigrants. Their lives are measurably improved by coming to America, by accepting employment "doing jobs Americans won't do". And we natives should forthrightly admit that we benefit from their inexpensive labor making goods and services more affordable for us.

Except it's a bad deal in nearly all other ways. While low-skill immigrants improve their lot, they are pretty likely to be stuck at the bottom as far as American economic strata go. Opportunities for economic mobility are close to zero. As are opportunities for social mobility: they are likely to be segregated into low-income low-status communities; their kids are going to attend bad schools. What we've thought of as "assimilation" is increasingly off the table.

[Amazon Link]
So Reihan worries that we're moving toward an ever-more stratified society, with an unhealthy white-person dependence on a funny-talking, funny-looking, low-paid underclass. He says: let's not go there, and I am somewhat persuaded. (At least until I can get my hands on the Caplan/Weinersmith defense of open borders, available for pre-order at right.)

Reihan advocates high-skill immigration. Fine. And thinks Yet Another Amnesty for the current crop of illegals is probably desirable (and inevitable). But it must be coupled with a "this time we mean it" strengthening of border security, e-Verify, and whatever else necessary to stem the low-skill tide.

He has a number of other interesting suggestions. For example, reverse immigration, where (relatively) affluent Americans relocate down south, and start employing people there. Government policies to reform (especially) Central American economies, allowing more of their people to participate in the global economy.

URLs du Jour

2019-04-30

[Amazon Link]

  • At the Federalist Warren Henry excerpts and comments upon Andrew Ferguson's recent Atlantic essay (which laments the demise of the once-funny White House Correspondents’ Dinner): Late-Night TV Writers Know They’re Awful, But Their Solutions Are Worse. Quoting Ferguson:

    The one quality that unites these late-night jokes is that they scarcely ever make me laugh – or you either, I’m guessing… Very often, they are simple statements of fact, with minimal humorous adornment… [N]obody seems to be trying… The two-step formula of a stand-up joke, setup followed by punch line, has been edited down to the first step and left at that.

    Sometimes they use funny voices, though!

    It's not just late-night. Although I have a TiVo Season Pass to Mom, it's been a few years since it's caused even a chuckle.


  • At Reason, Nick Gillespie is (I imagine) tired of the "practical" arguments against Democrat campaign promises for free stuff. So, instead he says what needs to be said about The Immorality of Student Loan Forgiveness and Free College.

    There's nothing wrong with asking people who benefit from something to shoulder all or part of the costs. Our national finances are falling apart largely because we keep insisting that all benefits be universal and that nobody pay their own way when it comes to big-ticket items such as health care, education, and retirement. One result in those areas are markets that don't function as efficiently as they would otherwise. Another is a pervasive belief that we can always pass the costs of our choices onto other people. Our government is trying to be all things to all people It would be better to let it focus on helping people who can't help themselves, and let the rest of us get on our with our own lives.

    ObPersonalNote: Pun Son and Pun Daughter graduated with zero debt. They're grateful. And having University employees for parents helped some. Let me echo the sentiments of a WSJ LTE-writer, Alfonso Q. Estrada:

    Sen. Warren’s proposal to cancel student loans is unfair to the parents who sacrificed to put their children through college, to the graduates who worked and saved before or while going to college, and to those who lived a lifestyle after college to be able to honor their responsibility to pay off their loan. Loan forgiveness isn’t the answer to this governmental woe. We must find another solution for repaying existing loans.

    Yeah, we could have gone to Paris instead of Boothbay Harbor. Bought a a Beemer instead of a Subaru. Always nice to have Elizabeth Warren tell us we were stupid about that.


  • Yet another warning which nobody will heed, this time from Charles Blahous at the WaPo: We’re running out of time. Social Security must be saved now..

    This week, Social Security’s trustees issued a dire warning. In their 2019 annual report, they announced that future costs for the program will be 20 percent higher than projected revenue. As soon as next year, Social Security’s yearly expenses are expected to exceed its income — forcing the program to begin drawing down its trust funds.

    Those funds will be depleted in 2035, but we can’t wait that long for reform. Even if we were to cut off all new beneficiaries at that time — a measure so drastic that lawmakers would never allow it — the program’s financial shortfall would still be too enormous to avoid insolvency.

    Social Security, in other words, has to be saved now.

    Trump has (for a long time) expressed zero interest in bringing Social Security receipts in line with its payouts. I assume the Democrat strategy is to wait until (oh, say) 2034 or so, and then propose something that must be passed to avoid blood in the streets.


  • The American Council on Science and Health asks the musical question: What Are "Modified Milk Ingredients"?.

    If you care for a real exercise in label reading, just take a peek at a standard supermarket ice cream. You would think that the list of ingredients should be pretty short. After all, traditional ice cream is made by mixing together cream, milk, egg yolk and sugar, blending in some vanilla, fruit or chocolate flavoring and freezing the concoction. That’s the stuff that makes or mouths drool and arteries panic. But chances are in addition to this cream or milk, you will see something labeled “modified milk ingredients.” What on earth are these?

    Although if you are in the USA I'm pretty sure you won't see that on the ingredient list at all. As I left as a comment on the article: "modified milk ingredients" seems to be a Canada-only regulatory invention.

    So why should I, or Americans generally, care? I think it kind of illustrates the arbitrariness of food ingredient labels demanded by governmental nannies. Is it somehow vital that Canadians be informed of "modified milk ingredients"? Are dead Americans piling up because we're not being told of "modified milk ingredients"?

    No, and no. Although a lot of time and resources go into making those rules, they're pretty pointless. There's another issue too:

    However, while there is no health concern, there may be a political one. The amount of fluid milk that can be imported into Canada without a tariff is limited, whereas modified milk ingredients fall under different regulations. It is, therefore, cheaper for manufacturers to make dairy products with imported modified ingredients than with Canadian milk.

    Yum.


  • And denizens of higher ed should get some amusement from the University Title Generator. Just click to find the next addition to your little dynasty!

    (I got "Assistant Deputy Executive for Athletic Technology to the Subcommittee for Investor Communications", estimated salary $162,213)