Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My home is protected by neither Lasers nor Alligators

I was surprised at the magnitude of the resistance to the idea of building a fence on the U.S. border with Mexico. It might be that I skew liberal in my writing and therefore the readers and comments skew left as well. Offhand I’d say that about two thirds of commentators viscerally hate the fence, and a third think it should have automated machine guns and an alligator infested moat.

The predominant anti-fence sentiments are that it would be disrespectful to Mexicans, and that it is unfair to put a fence across the south border and not the north.

After much thought, I have come to the conclusion these comments are just plain stupid. I believe that they are classic examples of knee-jerk herd-minded liberalism that is poisonous to honest intellectual discussion. I imagine a similar flavor to the student communist movements of the mid 20th century in the developed nations.

We need a fence in the south because there is already a fence in the north. It is called Canada. It is a sparsely populated winter wasteland, inhabited by people that are culturally identical and nearly as wealthy as Americans. There is no superior barrier to illegal immigration than lawfulness and economic equality.

But the massive gradient in wealth, education, and healthcare across the Mexican border absolutely ensures that, absent a hard barrier, large scale and uncontrollable illegal migration will occur continuously. Hundreds of millions of people from Central and South America would prefer to be in the U.S., and it is not in the best interests of Americans to accept this flow of new residents at its naturally occurring rate. The only way to slow it is to create a physical barrier, and to help improve the economies of our neighbors to the south. Improvement to a level sufficient to stem the tides will take many decades. We are left with the current need for a fence.

A nation has the right to determine the sources and pace of immigration. There is absolutely nothing xenophobic about this – it is simply anarchistic to suggest a country should not have the right to make and enforce these decisions.

Likewise, it is intellectually dishonest to compare the southern border to the northern. There is a reason that banks install better security than I have in my house. They have more at risk and a higher probability of incursion.


Lovez said...

Lots of people have different opinions on this issue and yours is well noted. It is definitely tricky when there are bipartisan parties that have conflicting views on how to solve the immigration issue. It is also thought-provoking because it is not a problem to our North but such a big dilemma to our South. Good post old chap!

Anonymous said...

I don't think we really need to worry about what is fair. Life can't always be fair. However, a fence across our entire southern border doesn't seem like a very practical idea, either. I don't think there is an easy solution to the illegal immigration problem.

Anonymous said...

The answer to illegal immigration is pretty simple: start enforcing the law. What a concept, huh? Verify eligibility for employment in a meaningful and reliable way. Severely punish employers who hire illegals. Stop giving illegals driver's licenses and passing 'sanctuary' laws making it more difficult for law enforcement at all levels to deal with the problem. Stop educating their children. By doing these things you will get a great many who are already here to leave, and many more who might otherwise have come will decide not to.

There is no humanitarian emergency at work here; for example, data shows the vast majority of Mexicans who come to the US illegally had jobs in Mexico before they came. I am not hearing about mass starvation in Mexico and Central America.

Americans need to stop being intimidated by name-calling -- 'racist', 'xenophobe' -- and insist that the law be enforced.

Simple as that.

It would be a good start.

Then we would not need a fence, which I do not want to see, in any case.


CharonHatesHerons said...

Although I don't disagree that a fence could be useful, I am concerned that it represents something America has long stood against - a wall in the way of self-advancement. I think most Mexicans that come here want to find a better life for themselves and their families and that they are prepared to work very hard for that goal. That being said, illegal immigration must be stopped to allow new immigration laws to expedite as well as limit useful integration of foreigners into the United States. If research has shown that a physical barrier is the only effective method, then I would be in favor of its construction.

Greg said...

Do you think someone will see the fence and say, damn, a fence, then turn around and go home? It only takes a couple of minutes to either climb, cut through, or dig under a fence based on the specifications of the one they are currently planning to build.

It's a waste of U.S. tax-payer money. I've mentioned some of my solutions already so won't repeat them. The solution will be in reducing incentives for non-documented workers to come to the U.S.

I'm all for people south of the southern border to come here as long as they do it legally. And I'm all for adding simplified work permits as part of NAFTA so workers throughout North America can work anywhere. That is part of free trade after all.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for people south of the southern border to come here as long as they do it legally.

If so you are either irrational, ignorant of the facts, or neither, and instead just a politically correct lunatic: 'Hispanics', 'Latinos', or whatever you want to call them, are disproportionately criminal and disproportionate academic underperformers, the latter whether they speak English or not. These are demographic facts. Many people do not seem to want to face the obvious: that Mexico is what it is -- a corrupt and backward country that an inordinate number of its people flee even if it means entering the US illegally -- because it is full of Mexicans. For America, this means, more than anything, that we are importing poverty. Whenever you see or hear 'barrio', think sprawling, suburban Hispanic slum. Increasingly parts of America are absolutely disappearing under this human tsunami, and being replaced by something much uglier.

The idea that somehow all of that is good for America's future, that we can continue to compete economically on a global scale with nations like China and Japan as the country fills up with Hispanic peasants who have trouble graduating from high school, is really absurd.


Anonymous said...

I think most Mexicans that come here want to find a better life for themselves and their families and that they are prepared to work very hard for that goal.

Mexicans are free to 'build a better life' for themselves and their families right there in Mexico anytime they want. Nothing is stopping them. They could do this in the same way that the Chinese are now busy powering up their economy to 'build better lives' for their people. What is wrong with that suggestion? Do you really think there is something geographic about 'the American Dream'?

I hate to intrude with facts, but it can be easily shown that Hispanics do relatively poorly at taking advantage of the opportunities supposedly available to them here in the US. Instead they commit more crime than natives, and relatively few of them go to and graduate from college. In fact, in the most heavily Hispanic districts in California, only about 50% of them manage to graduate from high school. In consequence they are largely forming a new, ethnic underclass. And in that nothing has changed for them compared to where they come from. But this means a lot is changing for the worse here in America, and this will only continue unless steps are taken to stem the human flow.


Greg said...

To anonymous who starts, "If so you are either irrational, ignorant of the facts, or neither, and instead just a politically correct lunatic..."

I'm the least politically correct person you will come across. I've studied logic for the majority of my life. And if I'm ignorant, then you must be stupid, and I believe I can show this to be true.

First you quote me stating that I support legal immigration. Generally legal immigrants do not fall into what you describe. They become part of our education system or must show that they contribute to society. Most become Americans, so if they are a problem, it is a problem with our own country.

I agree that Mexico is still corrupt and you forgot to mention the problems they are currently facing with the many drug wars spread out through their country. But that corruption was due to almost a century of exclusive government control by a right wing party. Mexico has overthrown their stranglehold on their government and things are slowly changing, but that will still take time.

As far as Latinos being "disproportionately criminal," I can see how stupid people can come to that conclusion because our country has such a large population of them. So of course they are in the news a lot. And when stupid people look at predominately Latino neighborhoods and say "look, all the criminals are Latino." it's hard to tell those people that the problem isn't that they are Latino, it's that you are stupid. Stupid people have a hard enough time dealing with life because they are stupid, so I don't often like to point out its because they are stupid.

If we look at Harlem you might be surprised and outraged that most of the criminals there are not Latino, but black. If we look at any trailer park in America, you might gasp in horror to find out that—could it be?—most of the criminals are white!

I understand how those lefties distort facts (sorry stupid people, I must talk about facts). According to that leftist group, The U.S. Department of Justice, "Among the four categories of race reflected in UCR arrest data, 69.8 percent of all persons arrested were white, 59.0 percent of persons arrested for violent crime were white, and 68.8 percent of persons arrested for property crime were white" (see: http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/arrests/index.html).

On the bright side, you can always turn your racist remarks back on the Irish, they're considered white (but they have great beer and funny comedians so you may want to think twice).

Since you are stupid, you're probably still stuck on the first sentence, but I'll continue because I'm having fun calling an anonymous person without the courage to stand behind his/her words stupid. But to be fair, I'd still call you stupid if you had a name.

As for Latinos being "disproportionate academic underperformers" I'll put it in a perspective that even stupid people can appreciate. In those same neighborhoods where Latinos are always the people "mostest" getting arrested, I will predict they are also, those Latinos, the "mostest" in their school classes. Let me translate for the “edumicated”: Latino neighborhoods will have high populations of Latino criminals, but also have high populations of the best students in those neighborhoods. This kind of data shows us that this kind of data is meaningless.

Given equal educational opportunities, statistically race is not a factor in academic excellence nor underperformance. The greatest factor of academic performance is economic standing. So the better solution to boosting the academic standing of the U.S. or North America at large is to give better access to jobs. This is why I support NAFTA as long as it includes allowing all North American workers to work anywhere in North America. Otherwise NAFTA is a corporate trade agreement and not a free trade agreement and the government has no business in those matters (they should regulate market economies, not facilitate them—another discussion for my own blog).

Your "demographic facts" are not facts. The per capita income of California would drop with any type of population increase. And I would predict that it would still drop without a population increase as it is doing in other states which are predominately non-Latino.

The real issue behind this started with Nixon and spiked with Bill Clinton. Our government has made it possible to eliminate manufacturing jobs. Clinton atually was open about this in his first campaign and told American workers that manufacturing jobs are going and there's nothing we can do about it, but that we must invest in education so America can be a center of high paying jobs. To Clinton's credit, he made huge advances in student lending, thereby giving more non-privileged people access to higher education. But he also introduced NAFTA, which completed the stripping of American manufacturing jobs.

This creates a huge hole in our workforce. Manufacturing workers are forced to either get more education to shift to professional services (e.g., finance, health, technology) or work in the service industry (e.g., carpet cleaners, grocery stores, restaurants). Our unemployment statistics are low in the U.S. because they don't count people who give up looking for jobs, or the larger proportion that gets a job paying much less money than they previously made in manufacturing. This latter group is the real reason that per capita income is down, not only in California, but across the entire country.

NAFTA created the immigration problem. Before NAFTA, illegals were still coming in droves, but the dynamic was different and it didn't get national attention. Now corporations have moved south of the border and are trying to keep their low paid workers in the country. So they complain about them leaving, but say they are complaining about illegal immigration to the U.S. On our side of the border, illegals generally didn't compete for manufacturing jobs. That was traditionally the domain of unionized American labor. Illegals took the service jobs. Now that manufacturing is going and gone in many places, it is the U.S. ex-manufacturing worker that is competing with the illegals for the service jobs now. So tensions are higher here. Because the corporate lobbies are crying about illegals, it's easy for these workers to blame them for their plight.

Even with all it's problems, NAFTA is still good for the world as a whole. But from an economics standpoint, this good is at the cost of our U.S. GDP. Free trade maximizes GDP, but only at the scope of ALL the trade partners. When you create a trade relationship where the partners' GDP's are unequal, there will be a tendency for these GDP's to move toward each other. So Mexico will be a great place to invest in the next few decades because they will experience fantastic growth. But what corporations don't realize is that their consumer base in the U.S. will be shrinking, and they should be concerned about that. The predictable results will be a surge of low quality products and a loss in profitability of high ticket items like electronics.

Stripping manufacturing also creates a defense issue for the U.S. The reason we were able to rally during World Wars I and II was exactly because we had a strong local manufacturing base of production. We were able to shift that to military production. So we could be in some serious military trouble if we ever have that need again. I fully support open trade, but it can't only be open to corporations, it must also be open to the people. Any trade agreement must include provisions for individual people to be allowed to work in any country or buy products and services from any country that takes part in a free trade agreement. The issue of poor products or services is a real concern, but that is a job of our government to hold the same standards to all corporations and make those corporations financially and criminally responsible for not complying to those standards. As I said, market economy governments must regulate, not facilitate, meaning no welfare, no subsidies.

It's good to compete with Latino workers. Any form of competition is good in a market economy. You can't say capitalism is good here but not there. A free market allows competition at all levels.

The problem of education is not a Latino problem, it's an American problem. I'm against giving illegals, regardless of race, a free ride in any aspect of our society (e.g. free health care). But for anyone that wants to take part in our society, anyone that wants to contribute, we need that kind of competition.

I've known a lot of stupid Mexicans in my life, but it had nothing to do with them being Mexican. I'm sure you're not Mexican, so that proves my point. Stupid comes in all colors.

Greg said...

To anonymous that starts, "Mexicans are free to 'build a better life' for themselves"

You seem like the same person with the same initials, but I won't make any assumptions.

I do agree with you about Mexicans building a better life in their country. Mexico needs her people for what's coming. The next few decades will be about Asia, but this century will be about Latin America at large. There will be tremendous growth and it may be likely that immigration will reverse course and Americans will shift south.

There are two logics at work here, two politics. One is the perspective of the world. Mexico will be better off with her people there and more people coming in. Canada is currently experiencing problems of not having enough people and encourages people to move there. The other perspective is that of the individuals. For them the most logical course is the one that currently offers the best possibility of growth. In the immediate future that is the U.S.

Mexico has more potential than the U.S. currently. The problem is when will this be actualized? It could start in the next 10 years, or it might take another 50, leaving at least a couple of generations in the lurch.

A lot of the illegals that you find coming here are families, which makes sense. Families are more conservative so will not take the risk of staying in Mexico. Others are individuals trying to make some money to support a family that remains behind in Mexico.

A Mexican dream is very possible, and will probably become a very popular phrase, but right now it takes a lot of guts to take that chance.

If we could build a force field around the U.S. that was guaranteed to keep people out, and allow us to properly regulate people who want legal entry, then I'd say, yeah, that's a good idea. But that's currently science fiction. A fence wouldn't keep out a squirrel. So it's a waste of money.

Therefore, I'd spend more money on something like education instead. I agree that we should enforce laws on the books and penalize companies that hire illegals, but also work on changing NAFTA, to give these illegals other options than turning to crime.

What often gets overlooked is that a larger population, legal or not, creates a larger consumer base. Anyone who takes basic economics will understand that this contributes to a larger GDP. Population growth is one of the many ways to promote job growth. This isn't very intuitive, but is very logical.

Anonymous said...

Hey Greg, you can call me "stupid" all you want, but from your overly long post (a little defensive, aren't you?) it is apparent that you do not understand the concept of disproportionality. And that's rather "ignorant" in my book. So I'll say it again just so you get it: Hispanics are disproportionately criminal, and disproportionately unsuccessful academically. Now, go look up the definition of the word/concept of disproportionality. And while you're at it, look up the definition of the words "ignorant" and "stupid".

Question: When half of California is Hispanic, do you really think that half of that part of UC-Berkeley's freshman class that is from California will be Hispanic?

When you wrote:

I'm all for people south of the southern border to come here as long as they do it legally.

I took it to mean, as most people would, that it would be OK with you if everyone who is now coming here illegally were to get an immigrant visa so that the 'coming here' part would be legal. Meaning otherwise there would be no practical difference compared to today, e.g. in the self-selection aspect.


Greg said...

anonymous, you took me wrong. I wanted to be clear that I fully support Mexicans and other Latinos coming to the U.S. as long as they do it legally. I support any immigration that is done legally.

I get what you said about disproportionate measures, meaning as regard to a percentage of their population.

And I understand that ignorant and stupid are two different words. Ignorance lacks facts while stupidity implies not being able to work with the facts.

My response is arguing the latter as it applies to you because your analysis is completely wrong. You are defining Latinos based on race and implying that they are an inferior race. The disproportion you describe is not a factor of race, as I stated it is a factor of economics.

The claim that it is race related is the same argument used to claim that blacks are an inferior race and to justify slavery. The same word "disproportionate" is used as in blacks are disproportionately criminal. Again crime is a factor of economics rather than race.

Any two sets of data can be compared and it would be accurate to say there is a correlation between set A and set B. This tells us absolutely nothing because it works on completely non-related data. At most a correlation can help you form a hypothesis for further testing.

So you come up with a correlation that shows a relationship between being Latino and doing poor academically. The next step would be to eliminate as many extraneous variables a possible, like eliminate economic conditions by comparing people of different races with the same economic conditions. The results here you will find is little to no difference academically.

UC-Berkeley doesn't select students based on a reflection of their local population demographics, a local community college would probably tend toward this statistically.

Your only valid implication is that a flood of people in the lower socio-economic demographic is taxing our socio-economic makeup. Liberals tend to ignore this, while conservatives tend to overplay this. Now we can make some valid statements regarding education here.

By a flood of immigrants continuing to enter the U.S., our school systems cannot transition fast enough to properly accommodate them. That is a real problem.

But there is a very interesting statistic that is overlooked. Going back to my statement that population growth is one method to increase job growth (or the GDP in general), we should expect to see increased growth in states where there is a large influx of illegals.

And that is true. California has an economy that competes with other countries not states. We can also point to growth in Texas, Colorado, Illinois, and other states.

Education is a factor of economic status, but this changes as the illegal, regardless of country of origin, assimilates into our society by getting a job. Crime is mainly a factor of population density.

While putting up fences in parts of California may have lessened crime, this does not point to immigrants as being the problem. The only statement that can be made is that the border is a problem. My first suspicion would be the drug wars and trafficking that is occurring just south of that border. This trafficking is spilling into the U.S. So the problem is not with refugees escaping Mexico, the problem is with the Mexicans and Americans that go back and forth across the border on a constant basis.

Building a fence or wall will do little to nothing for illegal immigration. Like I stated it only takes a couple of minutes for someone to cut through, dig under, or climb over. So it's a waste of money. But I still think illegal immigration should be controlled.

Removing the birth right clause in the U.S. Constitution would help a little. Changing this to maybe those people who are born in the U.S. and who have at least one parent that is a U.S. citizen will be granted U.S. citizen status.

Also I agree with you in regard to enforcing laws that penalize companies that hire illegals. This creates a large potential for abuse of both the illegals and our economy. But then this creates a problem of a potential increase of crime.

Illegals are here in large numbers and will continue to come regardless if you send them back or build a wall. We must provide a way for them to contribute rather than take away from our society. To do otherwise is stupidity. So that brings me back to introducing work permits as part of a trade agreement or as a separate statute.

These permits would allow illegals to work in the U.S. and collect paychecks. They should be somewhat easy to obtain. One method might be to allow companies to issue these, which would give the companies some responsibility for these people as is currently done with certain work visas. Once these illegals have permits they will be much easier to track, so it will be easier to collect real data and respond to shifts in demographics.

Those with these work permits would not receive benefits like social security or maybe disability but should still be protected by U.S. safety standards and regulations. Insurance would be at their cost and they would not be eligible for government assistance.

This would encourage people to work, and give them a pathway to proper citizenship, or the ability to learn some valuable skills or get an education that they can in turn take back to their country to live that Mexican dream or Ecuadorian dream or whatever.

The problem with thinking like yours is that it tends to over-generalize and create solutions that do not solve any real social issues we have in this country. It ignores reality and keeps attention at a large scope where nothing can really be done. If change is to be effective, then we must look at the details and start there.

If you look at old newspapers, you will see that the "problem" with illegals at a national level is a fairly recent thing. The turning point was the period when NAFTA was accepted. It is politicians motivated by corporate lobbies that are stirring up people.

Prior to NAFTA, the discussion was about improving our schools, getting better jobs, getting better health care, and lowering crime. Now politicians have turned this into blaming Latinos for this.

The problem really isn't immigration. It isn't border security. We've had these "problems" as long as we have been a country. The real problems are those that I mention that effect us all: health, education, crime, etc.

And my writing is "overly long" because I'm intelligent enough to know that real solutions are not found in over generalization. And I'm never defensive against stupid people; I just hope I can reduce the infection.

Rib said...

Not that I think anyone would make this mistake, but if anyone who knows me thinks that the coincidence of initials with "anonymous" means Old Things' sister is the one writing those posts, rest assured that I am not a split-personality (one bleeding-heart liberal, one uber-conservative-xenophobic-racist). There must be more than one eh in this blog... Just felt the need to clarify that.

John said...

The most frustrating aspect about the whole "immigration" issue is that the politicians conveniently leave off the word "illegal" when talking about it. If you are an immigrant who is here legally, I'm all for you; however, if you failed to follow our laws I expect you to be punished. I'm sure that if I were to sneak into Mexico and get caught, I'd be deported would I not? Enforce the laws, punish those that hire illegals and the flow will decrease dramatically.

If you find this post RATIONAL, then come visit me at http://rationalvoting.blogspot.com/

Liosis said...

Ahh, so happy I know that I'm not the only one who thinks the 'building a fence in one place and not the other' or suchlike is just plain silly.

I don't like the idea of the fence, but only because it makes my plans to alley with mexico and take over the world more challenging.

Actually I don't like the wastefulness of it, that is a lot of money going somewhere it isn't desperately needed. There are always starving people somewhere, why build a wall when you can feed them?

But I would really like to say that I do not live in a "sparsely populated winter wasteland", I couldn't tell if you were joking or not, but just in case. The Yukon may be somewhat wasteland-ish, but a good part of us isn't, or isn't more then below the border at least.