In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Tyler Cowen's New Book | Main | Carryalls »

March 29, 2006

Fast Food and Immigration

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

While 60-80% of Americans routinely tell pollsters that they'd like to see immigration better-controlled and immigration rates cut 'way, 'way back, our elites -- Dem and Repub both -- waltz ahead with their own plans. This year, immigration finally made its way into the headlines and onto the public agenda. It became something that our legislators could no longer avoid facing. Pulling their courage together and drawing on deep feelings of loyalty and service to their constituents ... the Senate Judiciary Committee has, in essence, recommended lifting many restrictions. If the Judiciary Committee's recommendations are followed, that could mean amnesty for as many as 12 million people. And won't that send a heckuva message to a Mexican peasant considering sneaking into this country? Namely: Come on in and help yourself! What a surprise to learn that Mexico is jubilant. Hey, American legislators: Great job of defying your own citizens' preferences while kowtowing to foreigners.

Ah, representative democracy: Ain't it great when neither party represents the preferences of their nation's people? Hey, have I ventured my new theory to you? It's that we are indeed a nation of two political parties. It's just that they aren't Dems and Repubs. Instead, our two parties are our (clueless and self-interested) elites, and Everybody Else. The Dems love the new numbers, by the way: 12 million voters ripe for the picking. The Republicans love the cheap and easy-to-exploit labor. Meanwhile, many of the rest of us watch these nation-altering developments with apprehension and dislike. Jonah Goldberg rehearses the relevant figures:

Our border with Mexico allows for levels of illegal immigration that have no historical precedent. In 1970, there were fewer than 800,000 Mexicans in America ... In 1980, there were 2.2 million. In 1990, the number reached 4.3 million, and by 2000 it had climbed to 7.9 million. In 2005, there were 10.8 million - a spike of 37 percent in half a decade.

By coincidence, I just today read a passage in Eric Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation" where Schlosser writes about fast food, meatpacking, and immigration. Schlosser overdoes his "fast food is at the root of all evil" thesis, but he volunteers a lot of interesting facts nevertheless. A few unappetizing but a propos tidbits:

  • The U.S.'s major meatpackers rely heavily on immigrants -- legal and illegal -- for their workforce.

  • The turnover rate in many meatpacking/meat-processing plants is about 400%. In other words, the average worker stays at his job for a little more than 3 months.

  • According to the INS, one quarter of meatpacking workers in Iowa and Nebraska are illegals.

  • In some American meatpacking plants, 2/3 of the workers speak no English.

  • One major meatpacking company maintains an employment office in Mexico City, runs ads on Mexican radio offering employment in the States, and operates a bus service that shuttles people between small Mexican towns and meatpacking locations in the U.S.

I'm finding it hard to resist typing "Think about these figures the next time you visit McDonald's."

According to Schlosser, when a meatpacking plant is opened in a midwestern or western town, the result is almost always an influx of Hispanics, higher crime and drug rates, increased medical-care costs, and ghettos and gangs where there were none before. Schlosser tells a sad story about the town of Lincoln, Nebraska (CORRECTION: Thanks to Peter for catching my mistake: The town Schlosser discusses isn't Lincoln, Nebraska, but Lexington, Nebraska) which allowed a giant meatpacking plant to open in 1990. Lexington's quality of life quickly tanked. The air started to stink. Crime and drug problems skyrocketed. Within a decade, most of the town's white residents had moved away, and more than half the town's current residents were Hispanic.

BTW, some ground rules for anyone thinking of leaving a comment on this posting. Let's begin by assuming that we all mean well -- god bless Americans and Mexicans both -- and that intelligent and decent people can have legitimate disagreements about what might constitute a sensible immigration policy. So: No personal attacks, and please make some effort to use non-inflammatory language. And be warned: Any comment using the word "racism" or "fascism" will be promptly deleted.

I found Thomas Sowell's recent columns pretty simpatico. Robert Samuelson's op-ed piece was hard-hitting and to-the-point. And did you notice that even that liberal internationalist Paul Krugman has expressed reservations about the current state of American immigration policy? Brad De Long tut-tuts. De Long's remarks as well as Tim Worstall's are both worth an eyeball, by the way. Liberals, it seems, are enthusiastic about redistribution and don't care about national boundaries. I've rarely seen these two facts so straightforwardly stated.



UPDATE: The often-interesting Bryan Caplan loses his wits entirely when it comes to immigration. Robert Speirs and GNXP's Dobeln valiantly try to bring a little sense into the discussion.

UPDATE 2: Randall Parker thinks that the Senate Judiciary Committee's recommendations spell bad news for Republicans. Donald Collins thinks the Dems will suffer even worse.

UPDATE 3: Lexington Green is a fan of high immigration rates, yet even he thinks something drastic needs to be done about our southern border. Lex also points out this scary report from the border by William Lind.

posted by Michael at March 29, 2006


From where I'm sitting in a little ag town (split between wheat and cows) with our backs against the Rockies and our haunches up against Canada, the migrant issue is just a distraction away from the real scandal of the major meat-packing plants who have the politicians by the throat and are blocking basic issues of disease, sanitation, farm support, and so on.

I think you are absolutely right, RINGINGLY right, when you say the real split in this country is not between left and right but between elites and everybody else.

As for Mexican/Central and South American immigrants, they are -- here in Blackfeet country -- familiar. Indians after all. And they bring with them the extremes of any population. For every dubious single male, there is a Catholic family with gentle secure children.

Meat-packers now are throwbacks to the days when they burned out competitors. The big moguls, who fed off the federally owned open range herds, now push feedlots that consume subsidized corn.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on March 29, 2006 12:54 PM

I'm wondering if the turnover rate in meatpacking plants is due to the workers' immigration status or because the job itself most likely sucks hard. Or both. I'm also wondering if in the past, meatpacking plants brought with them the social problems that Lincoln, Nebraska is now facing.

As for immigration in general, I have no answers and just a few ill-informed opinions.

Posted by: the patriarchy on March 29, 2006 1:05 PM

Umm, I would describe myself as liberal, but classically so, not in the American sense of the word. Rather more what you might call libertarian or neo-liberal.

My comments about Krugman’s piece were rather that good little liberals (American sense) should indeed favour redistribution across national borders. As indeed many do on the subject of foreign aid. It is rather part of the mantra that we are all humans in this togehter.

On the subject of the political parties, they being wings of in fact the same group, of course, I agree.

About the possibility of a completely open immigration policy. This might not be possible in the US given the large difference in living standards between Mexico and the US, although I’m not all that sure that they are larger than between, say, Poland and the UK. We now have, across Europe, completely open immigration (well, not quite, but the UK and Ireland do.) from and to any of the European Union 25. It’s led to, in the past two years alone, some 400,000 Poles arriving in the UK. Given relative population sizes that’s about the same as 2 million into the US. Not quite the same I agree, but the effects (so far) have all been positive.

One further point. The urge for mass economic migration simply won’t stop until Mexico and the US are closer together in wealth. Mexico is indeed growing and catching up and ironically, one of the major driving forces are the remittances sent home from legal and illegal immigrants into the US.

But from the tone of your post I’m not sure you’re all that happy to wait 30 or 40 years for the catch up to happen. Would I be right in that?

Posted by: Tim Worstall on March 29, 2006 1:13 PM

Mary -- Couldn't agree more! I'm fiddling with a more comprehensive posting about "Fast Food Nation," so expect lots more about recent developments in the meatpacking industry. My favorite non-relevant fact so far: Every full-grown steer drops 50 lbs of manure a day. A day! That's one impressive manure-producing machine.

Patriarchy -- I know only what I've read in the book. But Schlosser makes some interesting points. 30-40 years ago, jobs in meatpacking plants were located mainly in regional centers like Chicago, and generally paid pretty-good union wages. Tough and dirty jobs anyway, of course. Due to a variety of developments, meatpacking has dispersed to many small towns, the work has been much more routinized, wages have been driven down ... And, yup, the jobs have become even more hideous. Schlosser says that the meatpacking companies (like fast food companies) like having an easy-to-exploit (and often immigrant) workforce. The companies don't train the workers, they even get government money for doing so much hiring, and workers seldom accumulate vacation time, let alone the wherewithal to demand better working conditions.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on March 29, 2006 1:18 PM

Tim -- I hit the Comment button at the same time you did. I'm familiar with your work (and enjoy and appreciate it) and didn't mean to be suggesting that you're a liberal in the US sense. I thought those were good points you were making about the nature of liberalism. But it's interesting, the way that liberals in the classical-lib sense and liberals in the soft-left US sense are pretty much in accord on favoring porous boundaries, isn't it? And isn't that view of nationhood part of what divides elites from many everyday people? Hey, a question for you? If the only real reason for mass-immigration pressure is the diffs in wealth between the Mexico and the US, then how to explain the fact that there were vast diffs in wealth between Mexico and the US years ago too, yet it's only been in the last couple of decades that mass immigration from Mexico (legal and illegal) has become so pressing?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on March 29, 2006 1:28 PM

I'm finding it hard to resist typing "Think about these figures the next time you visit McDonald's."

I'm glad you didn't!

I have no idea what to do about immigration regulation, but I do believe that until we as a nation turn away from mindless, endless consumption, not much is likely to change.

How many of those vigilantes who patrol the U.S.-Mexican borders drive small, fuel-efficient sedans from their energy-efficient homes to do so?

How many Southern Californians who rail against overpopulation, freeloading of social services and overcrowding of emergency rooms take public transportation to local farmers' markets and small, cooperative grocers to do their weekly shopping?

I'm at least as disgusted by a citizenry who seems to have become a mindless, collective maw as I am by the state of our political system.

(Okay, that was cranky, for sure, but not inflammatory, I think.)

Posted by: communicatrix on March 29, 2006 1:29 PM

Lincoln, Nebraska as a poster child (so to speak) for the bad effects of immigration? It's a large and growing city, the state capital and home to the state university, and like most midwestern cities feels even larger than its population would indicate. I was there in 1997 - granted, a while ago, but AFAIK its fortunes haven't deteriorated much - and couldn't believe all the residential and commercial construction in progress. Cornfields turning into McMansion developments, that sort of thing. There were some rundown areas, no worse or more extensive than in any good-sized city, and for that matter I didn't see many Mexicans. And as best I can tell meatpacking was never a dominant industry in Lincoln. Today it actually has quite a bit of pharmaceutical manufacturing, which I highly doubt employs many illegal aliens.

Posted by: Peter on March 29, 2006 1:31 PM

Whoops, did I goof about Lincoln? It was some Nebraska town ... Let me riffle through the book again and correct if necessary.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on March 29, 2006 1:38 PM

While excessive immigration and even bad byproducts of the meat industry are serious issues, the core problem is, as you put it,
"...when neither party represents the preferences of their nation's people... and ...our two parties are our (clueless and self-interested) elites, and Everybody Else..."

What can we do about this? Are we relegated to talking about the issues in blog comments while cynically thinking nothing can be done?

Correcting this flaw at the heart of our democracy would require a huge populist movement -- but any thing resembling a populist movement that I've seen can either be quickly shut down or discredited by the elites, or is, more likely, centered on a premise that I at least cannot support or even find credible in the first place.
Does anyone have plan, or even a notion, as to how to curtail if not reverse this ever-increasing separation between what the people think they want and what those in charge carry out?

Is it in anyway a self-correcting phenomenon?

With some remaining optimism --

Posted by: Paul Worthington on March 29, 2006 2:11 PM

What I find annoying about the libertarian approach to the immigration issue, or at least the one you find commonly argued, is that there seems to be no respect at all for the fact that (classically) liberal, market-based societies are incredibly rare and one would suspect hard to maintain. I am consierably more libertarian that Michael I think, but I'm pretty darn sympathetic to his viewpoint here, because I LIKE the fact that the US has such a dynamic, open system, and importing large numbers if people from societies which DON'T have this history seems troubling.

It's exactly like the situation in the Netherlands. They are so tolerant (and it really is a lovely country) that they allowed in people who don't share these views. And what they found is increases in violence, assasinations, and all manners of social problems. To their credit, they are really starting to rethink this policy.

I guess what this rambling and incoherent post of mine is trying to say is that even if you aren't concerned about cultural issues (I am, but most libertarian economists seem not to be), just purely on economic-based grounds, how long can libertarian politics survive if the values of the underlying population radically change?

Posted by: Chris on March 29, 2006 2:14 PM

Colleen -- I like your brand of crankiness!

Peter -- Thanks for the catch. It turns out to be Lexington, not Lincoln. I've indicated this above.

Paul -- Indeed. Any thoughts or ideas? I'm hoping that the Web will at least enable more people to be aware of how their elites stab them in the back. But will/can that lead to anything?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on March 29, 2006 2:14 PM

I would like to see the Mexican border considered alongside the Canadian border. Suddenly we here are startled to be told that we will need passports to cross into Canada or at least passes of some kind. There will be fees. We're used to just running up there for a show or some shopping. Canadian corporations do business in this state all the time -- often resource extraction. I'd like to see the numbers on Canadian green card holders in the US. We think of Canadians as being "just like us" but in fact, since it is part of the British Commonwealth which have considerable migration reciprocity, many people can enter through that port who are not at all "like us."

I was "immigrant labor" in Canada for two years -- a Unitarian minister. They had to swear they could find no one Canadian to do the job. The wages were subsistence level. I had thought I would have access to their universal health care and in theory I did -- but I found access to doctors blocked by gatekeepers who frankly told me that as an American I didn't deserve to be sucking at the... well, you get the idea. The prejudice against Americans was quite palpable even among the people who had hired me and even though much of my family history is from up there.

The rule for insoluble problems is that if the two sides are evenly matched, the context is not broad or deep enough. I think that to solve Mexican immigration, we will have to look at world migration patterns and maybe even the notion of nations and boundaries. What we have here is internal off-shoring, not really that different than the Wal-Mart Chinese economy.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on March 29, 2006 2:53 PM

Schlosser spoke at my alma mater's commencement last spring. About the elites and non-elites thing---he agrees with you:

""I hope all of you will never hesitate to speak out," investigative journalist and author Eric Schlosser told the 516 students who graduated from --- University this afternoon. "And I hope you will always fight for the right of others to speak out, even if you don't like them and even if you don't like their views."

Schlosser, whose Fast Food Nation spent more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list, delivered the keynote speech at --- 166th Annual Commencement, entitled "Freedom." In his view, freedom is under siege -- in business, with more power in fewer hands; and in government, which he says, has broader leeway to investigate and conduct covert surveillance on Americans than ever before. He told the crowd that filled East College lawn that both Democrats and Republicans are responsible for the conditions that exist today.

"But today, the biggest threat to freedom -- not just in the United States, but throughout the world -- is fanaticism. Everywhere fanatics are gaining influence," Schlosser says, noting that we're seeing the rise of a movement which Eric Hoffer wrote of fifty years ago in his book, The True Believer. "It describes the mindset of fanatics: of Nazis and Marxists and religious crusaders who believe that they have unique access to the truth. Who believe that the world must be remade in their image."

He's a Lousy Ivy alum, BTW---interesting guy.

Posted by: annette on March 29, 2006 2:57 PM

I sent a little too fast. But maybe this ought to be a different post anyway.

I think that this idea that the elite of both Repub and Demo are on the same side and even "in cahoots" should be extended to say that the elite of ALL the major nations of this planet are in league for the same goals, or at least in sympathy, but most often connected by the tissues of international (which often means a-national) corporations. Haven't we seen Bush holding hands with oil Arabs -- culture aside, such a graphic image?

At the moment the small custom meat-packing plants have one hole card: testing for Mad Cow. The only force that makes that demand credible is the Japanese government -- not our own, which refuses permission to test every carcass. After all, if the only constraint is the possible infection of the US population, what the heck to the politicians care? They'll be out of office by that time and none of the victims vote anyway.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on March 29, 2006 2:58 PM

In regards to Mr. Samuelson's remark in the linked article:

What's more perplexing is why liberals, staunch opponents of poverty and inequality, support a program that worsens poverty and inequality. Poor immigrant workers hurt the wages of unskilled Americans. The only question is how much. Studies suggest a range "from negligible to an earnings reduction of almost 10 percent," according to the CBO.

This actually gets back to the issue of the politicians vs. their 'constituents'. The reason liberals (read Democrats) like immigration is that they accurately suspect that immigrants are natural Democratic voters. While the impact of the immigrants may not be good for ordinary rank-and-file Democrats, it is very good for Democratic politicians.

I think it would be more accurate to view our government like a virus. Neither one is alive, both are subject to evolutionary pressures, both will do whatever it takes to survive and thrive (host be damned), and both will be here long after we personally are gone.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on March 29, 2006 3:07 PM

BTW---does no one on the Senate Judiciary Committee care about border security anymore? What happened to that? Can't someone (not necessarily Mexican) run across the Mexican border with a dirty bomb strapped on? Or does that have to actually happen before anybody really cares about guest workers? Do we care about guest terrorists? I thought we wanted to document who was in the country better?

Posted by: annette on March 29, 2006 3:20 PM

Perhaps the most salient point here is the notion that in our 'bipolar' political system the two parties are not really the Republicans and Democrats, but rather the Elites and all the Rest of Us. Which side then reaps the benefits from our dysfunctional immigration system? While in some small, personal, way an illegal immigrant may be marginally better off working in one of those meat packing plants, living with a dozen fellow illegals in a nearby slum, and sending money home to his family in Mexico, he is still at the bottom-most rung of a very tall economic ladder. And a native born working stiff perhaps gains as much in lower prices at Wal-Mart or McDonalds as he loses in earnings due to the glut of even more desperate workers from south of the border. It is, however, the Sam Waltons and Ray Krocs among us who truly benefit from the situation.

The immigration debate is being framed primarily between advocates of tighter borders and harsher punishments and those suggesting amnesty programs and allowing larger numbers of "guest workers." This is because either outcome will satisfy the Elites and perpetuate the feuds that exist among various factions of the Rest of Us. Perhaps the real answer lies in far tougher enforcement of labor laws (including those that require an employer know that all of their workers are citizens or documented, legal, immigrants) and raising the minimum wage to a level that would allow someone working a forty-hour week (with occasional overtime) to actually put both a roof over their head AND food on the table. Then we wouldn't have that "we need them to do jobs Americans won't" argument. And if illegal immigrants couldn't find work because their would-be employers would face harsh consequences for hiring them, perhaps they would decide to enter legally or not at all.

As it stands, an Elite can turn a blind eye to the status of the man mowing his lawn or the woman washing his sheets, let alone the field workers, toilet cleaners and all the rest who contribute to his comfortable life. If the INS rounds up half the field workers for deportation today, tomorrow there will be dozens more applying for every replacement worker needed. And, if there is any other negative consequence it will in all likelihood be a fine, one the agri-business corporation owners will chalk up as the cost of doing business; a cost, furthermore that is nothing compared to what they've already saved by employing those who cannot afford to demand anything beyond the pittance that is the going rate for their backbreaking labor.

In short, I'm not against immigration reform. I want to see tighter borders. But the real crackdown should be on the Elites who benefit from the lax enforcement of employment as well as health and safety laws along with the ready availability of cheap, scared, laborers.

Posted by: Chris White on March 29, 2006 4:49 PM

MB Asks:
If the only real reason for mass-immigration pressure is the diffs in wealth between the Mexico and the US, then how to explain the fact that there were vast diffs in wealth between Mexico and the US years ago too, yet it's only been in the last couple of decades that mass immigration from Mexico (legal and illegal) has become so pressing?

Blacks did these jobs before 1975. Before that it was Poles, Irish, Italian, you get the idea. Also, prior to about 25 years ago, the southern border was relatively sparsely populated on both sides, so the logistics of illegal crossing was much more complicated. Even now people die in the desert, back then it was much harder. The Texas border, at least, was almost like a Greater Mexico in its demographics and economics, anyway. Now there are a bazillion people living right on the border, working in the NAFTA economy.

Don't forget the 'yerr kind ain't welcome 'round here' factor, either - most of these small towns with the chicken farms and meatpacking plants were somewhat...touchy...about immigrants of a new type moving in. That said, there was a not-insubstantial number of Mexican immigrants in western Nebraska in 1920. Most of their neighbors were Russian and German immigrants. (Census records I looked at for genealogical research.)

The same complaint we hear about (Catholic) Mexicans we also heard about (Catholic) Irish and (Catholic) Italians. The loudest, today, coming from the children of said Italians and Irish. There is nothing new, there. Immigrants made up the lion's share of rioters in 1863 against the idea of fighting for Black's freedom, partly out of fear that they would come take their jobs. The Know-nothings were typically of that vein, too.

We have such a huge illegal problem today, because our immigration rules are more restrictive. After family reconciliation is done, there aren't enough slots left for the potential migrant to even hope for a legal green card when pursued through proper channels - its like winning the lottery. All we did in 1900 was have them sign in when they arrived, and quarantine them if they arrived sick. Of course, back then there we didn't have a New Deal or a Great Society, and so we didn't have this worry about the so-called social costs (actually governmental costs) of immigrants.

Posted by: rvman on March 29, 2006 5:16 PM

Michael – I agree with others that the immigration issue goes beyond simple notions of liberal vs conservative. For example, from where I sit, both liberals and libertarians deny the validity of national borders, are driven by rigidly narrow and unrealistic ideological principles and are either woefully ignorant of the economic consequences of their views, or simply assume that in some mystical, undefined “long run,” everything will be all right. Today, for example, I listened to conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager interview someone from the Heritage Foundation who was pushing Bush Administration talking points on a guest worker program, and even the hospitable Prager showed a little frustration at his guest’s refusal to consider the practical implications of his proposals (for example, the delusion that guest workers would voluntarily return to their home countries when their work terms expired).

The worst so-called progressives are almost giddy over the idea that millions of Latinos might “retake” the southwest for Mexico (in the last gubernatorial campaign, the Green Party candidate all but declared that “indigenous peoples” need not respect the national boundaries of the US and Canada).

The worst liberals and conservatives are odd stalking horses for the nation’s elites. The worst liberals apparently believe that millions of immigrants will help usher in a socialist utopia, with a mandatory “living wage,” and universal health care, especially since they are adamant that all immigrants be given the same access to social services as citizens. On the other side, some conservatives bleat about “free markets,” but are strangely authoritarian and pro-business, and look forward to their own utopia in which there are NO government provided social services. In championing these views, both groups see no problem with decimating the middle class, which cannot compete against low-wage labor and also cannot sustain high tax rates which force them to compete for services with non-citizens. Talk about taxation without representation when state and local officials in California and elsewhere openly declare their loyalties to immigrants and "the poor and oppressed" over any concern for the general welfare of all citizens.

However, it should be noted that there are a lot of people with no particular ideological axe to grind who tend to be pro-immigration, especially with respect to poorer workers, because they see welcoming immigrants as a core American value. And there are people who moan and groan about illegal immigrants, but who are only to happy to employ them when it is to their advantage.

What a muddle.

Posted by: Alec on March 29, 2006 5:17 PM

In the Democratic Party it's especially the DLC (neoliberal) centrists who support open borders. Labor liberals oppose them.

Places where the transition to illegal or other immigrant labor took place in meatpacking included Austin MN and Sioux Falls SD. The transition included union-busting, speedups, weakened safety standards, reduced benefits, and reduced pay. Meatpacking may be the most dangerous industry in the US by now.

As with various other things, what's at stake is lower prices for consumers and higher profits for owners.

In Austin there was a bitter strike which set brother against brother and almost destroyed the town. Basically it had been decided that there wouldn't be any more "family wage" jobs in meatpacking, which is mostly unskilled labor.

For a lot of this stuff, the villain is free-market ideology and anti-labor practices. Immigration is a factor, but without the other two it would not have the same effect. A lot of the anti-immigration people enthusiastically supported the anti-labor policies which immigration made possible, and which made immigration possible.

Posted by: John Emerson on March 29, 2006 9:06 PM

Why don't people locate the meatpacking plants just south of the border and ship the meat in?

Most of the jobs I see illegals do, especially in fast food restaurants, used to be done by teenagers. This is also true of low skill contruction and agricultural work. Where I'm from (the midwest), teenagers did a lot of seasonal work, such as weeding beans, detassling corn, etc. Teenagers unloaded trucks at grocery and commercial stores. The teenage unemployment rate is soaring. It used to be you could find these jobs, develop good job skills, make a little spending money or save for college, or use these jobs as a bridge to better ones if high school were your last stop. This seems to be changing rapidly. Is it any wonder employeres report young workers have poorer work ethics? Most kids don't learn how to work hard in school, they learn it from being employed in tough, low-wage jobs.

The same was true of hotel and restaurant staff, cleaning jobs, etc. What's the unemployment rate for black males with no high school diploma these days? I've heard it at anywhere from 30 to 60%. What are all those former inmates supposed to do when they get out of jail? Why can't they work in a kitchen? Back to the streets, dealing drugs, committing petty theft, or hooking up with a female who has some sort of income, welfare or otherwise. Idle young men. A recipe for trouble.

I don't really care if illegals have nice smiles and nice kids. They are breaking so many laws, driving wages down, and not paying taxes, or if they are, collecting a lot more in welfare than they contribute. They break the immigration laws, the break our tax laws, they break our labor laws, they commit identity theft on a massive scale, they are flooding our school systesms with kids who aren't prepared for school (know english), they recieve health care and don't pay for it, driving the cost up for everybody else, driving hospitals out of business, etc. This is insanity!

Just ask yourself what happens if citizenship is granted to these people. Okay, then they will all pay taxes, be citizens, stop stealing identities, etc., right? But wait a minute, if businesses are addicted to cheap labor, guess what? They hire a NEW crop of 20 million illegals. And the game continues! Then all the new citizens will be scrounging around, looking for jobs that are now being taken by the new illegals! But they can vote now, so what do you think will happen (especially in our very skin-tone conscious America)? They will become a new welfare-dependent underclass. Keep in mind that 50% of these illegals don't even finish high school. Dropout rates are much higher for hispanics, even 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation ones, and we didn't have an open borders policy for many of those, so they weren't exactly the ones who couldn't find a job in Mexico.

The only effective answer is to start arresting their employers and prosecuting them. I think deportation is fine. If you were to go after the employers, most of the illegals would go back to Mexico (and elsewhere) out of necessity anyway. How is it cruel to send people back to a place where they have family and friends, know the language and culture, and feel at home? Mexico isn't some sort of despotic country. The government is extremely corrupt, but people there are also very free. If they are such good citizens, then it shouldn't be so hard to change their own country. If they are the best of Mexico, why should they be allowed to emigrate and hollow the talent out of Mexico? How is that moral? If they can build America, then they can build Mexico. Send them home.

I know 15 million people is a lot, but they came here in dribs and drabs, and sending them home would be the same. If each state, on average, were to send just 100 home per day, each day of the year, that's 1.5 million a year. It would take 10 years max. Actually it would take far less time, because if that actually happened, most would head home before they were made to. Nobody likes being arrested. Problem solved.

I guess wages and prices would go up, but so what? They do anyway. Maybe you should talk to your politicains about that too! Most people who are middle class can afford a bit more. And the people with low-paying jobs would probably make more pay, yet pay a bit more, and thus break even.

We don't need to run a society based on pity. Half the world's population lives on less than 3 dollars a day. Do we let all of them in? Who gets cut off? Why can't that be done now? If all the rest of the world is so competent, let them solve their own problems. And if they live under a dictatorship, maybe you should support some sort of international military effort to kill and depose those dictators.

I vote for shutting the border down and sending them home.

Posted by: BTM on March 29, 2006 9:15 PM

If you're under the age of 50 or so, whenever you look at immigrants you should tell yourself, "These are the people who will be funding my retirement" :)

Posted by: Peter on March 29, 2006 9:31 PM

Just one more quick thought. I read some here who think the elites are pulling the strings unchecked. Yet that has always been so. They will always pull the strings unchecked unless you check them. And we here in America have the means to do it! If you think this thing is done deal, you are sadly mistaken. There are many MILLIONs who will fight it. The politicians will listen. Just you watch! The illegals can't vote. You can.

You see, for all the blather about corruption, lying, insider deals, etc., 99% of the time, politicians do their deeds with nary a protest from those who will be paying for their vices. The most vociferous and persistent voices they hear are from those who WANT something from them. Those on the dole. The race hustlers. The corporate chiefs. The list goes on and on. But the wee little american, who just wants to be left alone, tries his darnedest to run away from it all. And year after year, they take just a little bit more of his money, and a little bit more of his freedom, and give it away to squeaky wheels. Because he is silent.

When the wee little americans roar though, things change quickly. Just look at the Dubai Port's deal thingy. This illegal immigration issue is much bigger than that!

I plan on burning up the phone and email lines, and cramming letters into postal boxes. My senator is one of the quislings (Dick "Turban" Durbin of Illinois). The other one is a Durbin Junior. But my rep is more malleable. I will let him know that if he votes for the bill, I will be writing some three zero checks to his upcoming opponent. And I'm not kidding about that!

I am also of the opinion that the "elites" are desperate. I think that they know the issue is so contentious that the states WILL do something to stop it if they don't. Ignoring the border won't work anymore. So, they hope to run the states over by making the illegals into citizens, offering them amnesty, killing the states' enforcement movement (also, by the way, undermining some RICO violation lawsuits brought by CITIZENS against big illegal alien employers, like Tyson Foods). If the "elites" lose this one, the tide will have turned on this illegal alien issue. The next step will be some sort of deportation showdown. People are THAT mad in the border states!

Yep, this is the big one! If the "elites" can overrun the people this time, and demoralize them, then they'll let the whole world come in for cheap labor. And they also won't think twice about shipping jobs out willy-nilly neither! The little americans better roar on this one. I just hope those here have the "cajones" to do it!

Posted by: BTM on March 29, 2006 9:54 PM

About 1/2 of my social group are 1st or 2nd gen immigrants from asia, e. europe, and s. america. To a one, they are livid about the amnesty proposal.

I'm all for high rates of legal immigration, but we should be picking from the right side of the socioeconomic bell curve. If we required degrees in medicine, business, engineering, or hard science we'd still have more takers than we could accomodate.

Let's stick it to the CEO's and doctors; let's let our janitors, fruit pickers, and nurses aides earn a livable wage.

We've got more than enough who didn't finish high school already. Let the bulge get through the python before we think of adding to it.

Posted by: KevinM on March 29, 2006 10:48 PM

Tim Worstall,

The most important difference between the Poles and the Mexicans is about 16 IQ points on average (based on Richard Lynn's 106 IQ average for Poland).

Mexico's per capita GDP gap with the United States will not close for the same reason that half of all Hispanics drop out of high school in the United States and Hispanic 12th graders who are still in school test at the same level on NAEP as white 8th graders.

As long as liberals, libertarians, and socialists deny obvious and thoroughly measured group average differences in intellectual ability while they simultaneously marginalize and silence dissenters (e.g. Frank Ellis in the latest round) the debate on immigration will remain deeply dishonest and unproductive.

Posted by: Randall Parker on March 29, 2006 10:49 PM

I think rvman made the points I’d want to in response to Michael’s question about why all this Mexican immigration now.
Randall, You might find it frutiful to search my blog for my reactions to the Frank Ellis story (too many entries to link and I wouldn’t want to abuse Michael’s hospitality in that manner anyway).
I defended some of his views and rejected others. My own feeling is that group IQs don’t actually matter very much because variation within a group is so much larger than variation between the groups. Given that IQ in any population varies from what, 60 to 160? the difference between 100 (by definition, the average of the human race) and 106 for Poles really isn’t a very interesting fact. Certainly it tells us nothing about how we should treat an individual Pole or an individual of any other group.
I’m also dubious about IQ itself as a method of measurement: mostly because I myself score extremely lowly on such tests :-) (I simply don’t get the visualisation parts of them. Don’t get visualisation of pretty much anything actually, so the pattern recognition parts simply leave me bemused.)
Frank Ellis in his original article pointed to very low (75 or so) IQs for sub-Saharan Africa. Not for those from there, but for those actually there. As we know that malnutrition stunts both physical and mental growth, and thatthere is significant malnutrition there, that rather, to me, talks to the poverty of the area not the race or genetics of the inhabitants.

On the same subject it might be worth pointing to the way in which the Central European immigrants through Ellis Island (many of whom were, as you know, Jews) were on arrival considered to be vastly less intelligent than those already within America. It is their grandchildren, of course, who now outscore many other American groups.

BTW, I don’t doubt that the American immigration/visa system is screwed. A decade ago I bought a small business in California and ended up not actually being able to go and run it as there was no visa that would enable me to do so. There’s a report in today’s Guardian that the Halle Orchestra has cancelled a planned tour of the US given the cost of visas.

Posted by: Tim Worstall on March 30, 2006 3:43 AM

Rvman, Tim -- I think you may be overlooking the role that the 1965 Hart-Cellar immigration bill played in all this. (As well as the way that various '60s and post-'60s attitudes have affected people's expectations.) Mexican immigration rates trend upward very sharply after it. "Family reunification," anyone? As far as I can tell, the mess we're now in can be understood as an analogue of the mess that affirmative action has become -- a well-intended, egalitarian, civil-rightsy reform/program that has evolved into a monster.

Here's a CIS look at the consequences of the 1965 act that you may find interesting.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on March 30, 2006 10:48 AM

Michael – Thanks for the very interesting CIS article on immigration. However, it suggests that what is sorely needed (but obviously very difficult to do) is an analysis of illegal – not legal – immigration since 1965. From my Southern California perspective, it appears that there has been a tremendous surge in illegal immigration since 1985, and it is hard to see this as related to the 1965 law. Also, the CIS analysis is entirely ignorant of social and economic factors in Asia and Latin America which may have created a huge incentive for people to leave to try to enter the US.

By the way, one thing that is clear is that any system of immigration restriction is irrelevant if you cannot process applicants quickly and effectively deal with those who have been refused or who seek to bypass the system. So it is possible that the immigration laws themselves added to the problem since it led to a backlog of applicants, and because there was no effective enforcement arm, over time immigrants could freely ignore restrictions.

Lastly, I continue to be amazed at the degree to which people refuse to hold the Bush Administration responsible for not dealing with immigration problems. Since the first day of his administration, Bush and Mexican President Fox have hammered home an open-border message, along with the Big Lie that Mexican and other immigrants do jobs that Americans will not do. The Wall Street Journal, conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundations, and conservative talk show hosts like Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved and others have consistently and continually pushed variations of an open border or guest worker program. And any proposals to curb immigration, however weak, must conform to the Eleventh Commandment: “Thou Shalt Not Ever Punish Any Business Which Hires Illegal Aliens.” The Republicans control the Congress and the White House, and some key states where immigration is a significant issue. Yet nothing has been done and no realistic or honest proposal has ever come from the present administration or even from supposed mavericks like John McCain. By the way, I don’t expect anything from the Democrats on this issue, nor do I see immigration giving them any kind of electoral advantage. But the plain fact is that Democrats and liberals are largely irrelevant since they are not the majority, nor do they have any significant clout. Meanwhile, Bush is in Mexico with the leaders of Mexico and Canada, telling foreign reporters "don't underestimate" his ability to wring from Congress a guest-worker program that would address some of Mexico's concerns. Too bad that he is not more concerned about Americans and their concerns.

Posted by: Alec on March 30, 2006 12:14 PM


Like you, I live in Southern California, but I can't follow you in certain of your remarks.

(1) The fact that mass immigration only became visible after c. 1985 doesn't suggest that the 'infrastructure' of social networks and experience in moving from Mexico to the U.S. weren't built up in the preceding 20 years. This sort of thing doesn't just crop up overnight. I think tracing the beginnings of this to the shift toward family reunification and in preferred nations-of-origin in the 1960s is legitimate.

(2)I think the point of this post, and most contemporary criticism of open-borders thinking, absolutely targets Bush and his administration.

(3) Your statement that Democrats won't get anything politically out of immigration is pretty amazing. First, it ignores the fact that as long as Democrats controlled the U.S. Congress no money for increased border control was ever found; the increases in border control funding occurred only after the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994. Second, the Democratic-controlled Congress passed the amnesty bill in 1988, giving illegals a great deal of their currently significantly political leverage in the U.S. Third, the passage of the Republican Gov. Wilson-backed Prop. 187 in California denying state benefits to illegal immigrants resulted in the enfranchised illegals and other previously non-political Hispanics to go out and vote Democratic, resulting in both houses of the state legislature being controlled by the Democratic Party. (The fear of a repetition of this at the national level, given the relatively equal power of the two parties among native voters is the main force driving both parties to pander on illegal immigration.) Finally, after a Democratically appointed Federal judge issued injunctions staying most of Prop 187, she refused to issue a final opinion, thus delaying any possible appeal. Eventually the state of California, under re-elected Gov. Wilson, sued to force her to disgorge the opinion, immediately launching an appeal, but late in Wilson's term of office. When Grey Davis, a Democrat, was elected governor, he immediately dropped the appeal, in the process betraying his own campaign promise to acknowledge the will of California voters on immigation. So you'll pardon me when I assert that for the Democrats, immigration (illegal or otherwise) is absolutely a major linchpin of their hopes to return to majority status.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on March 30, 2006 2:45 PM

Friedrich - A few quick points

1). Americans love to see themselves as the center of the universe, and love to believe that all things good and bad are reactions to their decisions. And currently, some conservatives love to stew in the delusion that all bad things arise from past bad liberal policies. I agree that immigration law changes are part of the background, but I stand by my assertion that unless events in Mexico and other nations are studied, what you have is a likely, but insufficient hypothesis. A quick example: San Gabriel is now a majority Chinese American city, with a substantial illegal immigrant population. But its rapid demographic change cannot be understood unless you understand how Chinese immigration to the US and Canada accelerated dramatically after the transfer of Hong Kong to mainland China (which also explains why Mandarin is supplanting Cantonese as the second language of Chinese Americans).

2) . What the Democrats did in 1988 and 1994 is interesting, but beside the point. Every proposal offered by Bush since his first inauguration has been related to a rigidly pro-business guest worker program. Bush has never even given a speech that was pro-American worker over illegal immigrants. To say that Republicans increased border enforcement funding is a dodge. As a Southern Californian, you should be aware of the serious charges, some coming from Border Agents, that the Administration deliberately and overtly curbed some of their enforcement activities. And it is noteworthy that Bush has appointed a political hack with no significant law enforcement experience to head the enforcement arm of the Immigration agencies.

3). I said that Democrats would not gain anything from courting illegal immigrants. I didn’t say that they wouldn’t try. Again, as a Southern Californian, you should see that illegal immigrants are demanding the right to enter and work in the US, but they are not eager to renounce their Mexican or other Latin nation citizenship. They are not consistently demanding a fast-track to American citizenship. And Latino voter registration and actual voting remains extremely low. In addition, although many Democratic politicians are Latino, it is becoming increasingly clear that large numbers of them are explicitly aligning themselves with their fellow Latinos without regard to their legal status. Non-Latino Democrats go along, and are unwilling to acknowledge that Latino nationalism is becoming stronger than any allegiance to either political party. It’s a bit like the Casino Indians who are now telling Sacramento to kiss their behinds now that they have secured their gaming compacts. Republicans and Democrats both think that Latinos will docilely follow them. I think that anyone who believes this will be in for an unpleasant surprise. I am not suggesting any simplistic “reconquista” conspiracy, but it is clear that large numbers of Latinos have a sense of a separate destiny that is not tied to either American conservative or American liberal fantasies, and are developing the economic clout to bring it about.

Posted by: Alec on March 30, 2006 3:49 PM

Alec -- Thanks for taking a look at the CIS paper. They've got some interesting resources there. I think you raise a lot of points that well deserve looking into too. As for me, these days I'm mostly happy that the whole immigration question has finally gotten out in the open, and has evolved past the point where you're automatically assumed to be a racist-Nazi if you express an iota of concern about it. Beyond that, my own prefs are no doubt somewhat more restrictionist than yours. (I can't see why the country should be turned topsy-turvy in this way. Who wants it to be? We're currently projected to have 100 million Hispanics by 2050. Who favors this?) But mainly I'm pleased and relieved that the topic's out in the open, and that at least a few people are willing to discuss it in civil terms.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on March 30, 2006 4:18 PM


Another poster earlier in the thread brought up some issues that you have yet to address. While the poor, beleaguered "wee Americans" complain about immigrants taking their jobs and refusing to assimilate to American culture (which, at press time, consists of American Idol, Britney Spears, and something called "scrapbooking"), they do not at the same time seem to be willing to give up their God-given right to cheap fast food, produce, gardening, restaurant service and child care. So, are you taking public transportation down to a farmer's market or a small, cooperative grocery to do your shopping? If so, good for you. But if not, then perhaps instead of howling about the neo-coolies who are ruining America for you, you should regard this as a sort of "teachable moment"--the lesson being that just as there ain't no such thing as a free lunch, there ain't no such thing as cheap strawberries.

Posted by: IMBG on March 30, 2006 6:34 PM

IMBG -- Not sure what your point is, honestly, given that I haven't complained about "neo-coolies ruining America." But you're certainly right about being willing to pay a bit more for strawberries. I'd happily do so.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on March 30, 2006 7:43 PM

IMBG--You must be mistaking american television entertainment with american culture. I can assure you, the two are extremely different. I would take the time to demonstrate this to you, but if you have made it through 12 to 16 years of formal schooling and think that television is american culture, and not just entertainment, and mostly crappy entertainment at that, your parents should ask for their money back. There's really no excuse for making such a statement. I can't believe anyone here would take it seriously.

In many cases, american consumers do not benefit from cheap labor. That's a sneaky lie too. I don't see new house prices falling, even though many are built by illegals. What about all the Nike shoes, Levi's jeans, and on and on? McDonalds hamburgers are the same price in the rural places I've gone to staffed entirely by citizens where they pay the minimum wage, and at the big city McD's where the staff barely knows english. Don't try to fool us by having us believe the savings are always passed on to us regular american citizens. But the welfare costs are!

A true free lunch for the average american would be where we get something for nothing. Please indicate how this operates in the illegal immigration. What do we get that we don't pay for once at the market, and again when we pay taxes? Lower priced tomatoes, for example? So lets say Jose illegal makes $2 an hour rather than $7 an hour. And lets say that you, the consumer, pockets the whole $5 (which is ridiculous, or what incentive would an employer have for breaking the law?). You pay for the illegal's health care, schooling, lost tax revenue in social security, income, medicare, and unemployment taxes, state and local taxes. If the govt. doesn't have the money, it borrows it, and you pay for both principal and interest. And you also have the pleasure of living in a society with higher crime rates, both street and white collar crime, and increased corruption. You are really paying more than the extra $5. Its just that the pea has moved to another shell. Those hustlers are tricky! Please spare us the tale of the noble Mexican. People who break so many laws are not noble, but crooks. I'll stand in judgement if I want. Its my country. I make it work. I pay the taxes. Send the crooks home.

Tim--if IQ doesn't matter, and its such crap, then why do you disprove your thesis in your own commentary? IQ tests would be crap if the jews you spoke of did very well academically and otherwise, yet scored consistently POORLY on the tests. If the IQ tests indicate that smart people do indeed have high scores, and thus high IQ, then it has marvelously done its job. Of detecting who is smart and who is not. Blacks have been in America for many generations now, and their IQ scores as a group are still rather low. It seems they haven't moved up and on too much, at least without quotas. All longitudinal studies I have seen on the Mexican horde shows consistently lower scores and dropout rates, even 3 or 4 generations after immigration. The average IQ for the world is 90. the average for whites and north asians usually runs from the high 90's to 105 or so. European jews about 110-115. African blacks 70, Latinos 85-90, Indian indians, 80, and southern asians 80-90. Arabs come in at around 80. There is a pretty high correlation between average national IQ and income. There are some notable exceptions, such as resource rich countries (think OPEC), and countries with segregated ethnic minorities (South Africa, for example). But the correlation is HIGH.

The real question for the IQ doesn't matter crowd is to explain how isolated human populations can evolve different physical features, sometimes markedly so, yet somehow they would not also vary in terms of intellectual evolution. Forget about humans for a bit. Just show me some examples of different types in a species that developed in along different lines, yet somehow managed to be perfectly equivalent. For instance, horses and zebras. Heck, people even know that some dog species are more intelligent than others! Take your misleading idea that because people of a type vary more than people do between types, these IQ points are irrelevant. What kind of overlap do you think the ashkenazi jewish population of 115 IQ average has with your average african, averaging a 70 IQ? Very very little.

I would never advocate treating less intelligent people more poorly. But I will tell you what will happen, and what has happened, not just here, but everywhere around the world, where different racial types with significant IQ differences are together in the same society. The smarter ones will be more successful, occupy the top positions, and become roundly despised by the less successful group. Never will the differences in outcome be related to differences in ability. Since success will seem to break down along racial lines, the cause of it all will be most surely--hang on to your hats!--RACISM! And the less intelligent group will demand a wealth transfer and/or outright attack the more successful group violently. This is true ALL OVER THE WORLD, THROUGHOUT HISTORY! Heck, this even happens with a population composed of only one racial group. Its the Cain and Abel and Tower of Babel stories writ large.

I guarantee you that we are importing a serious racial conflict. The subgroup (Latinos) is now too large for that not to happen. This is truly mass insanity, at least for the average american. The only people who could be happy about this are the new welfare recipients and those who hate their own group, for whatever reason. Or those crooks making tons of money hiring illegal crooks.

Posted by: BTM on March 31, 2006 12:21 AM

Tim Worstall,

The IQ average for the human race is 90, not 100.

Yes, group average IQ differences matter a great deal. The empirical evidence is overwhelming and I strongly urge you to study it.

From psychometrician Linda Gottfredson's paper Social consequences of group differences in cognitive ability (PDF).

Evidence on the causal power of IQ/g. IQ cannot be a good conduit for transmitting purely social (non-genetic) privileges across generations, because IQ cannot transfer family privileges that leave no lasting imprint on it. But does IQ/g level really cause differences in mastery of important tasks in daily life? The following set of facts answers “yes.”

First, much civilian and military research has detailed how brighter individuals are more
educable and trainable, often learning 2-5 times faster than their less able peers when exposed to
the same instruction. They cost less to train per unit of skill or knowledge acquired. They can
also learn difficult material that less able individuals cannot, even when the latter are given more time and assistance. This is a major reason why the military and some large civilian employers in the United States test all applicants for mental ability. Intelligence has little value unless conscientiously applied, to be sure, but motivation cannot substitute for mental competence. Coming from a higher status family is of no value because trainees must do their own learning.

Second, IQ predicts later job performance but family background does not. Supervisors are often swayed by factors other than actual performance when they rate workers, but the correlations between IQ and performance on a job increase when performance is assessed in a more objective manner. This is the opposite of what social privilege theory predicts. Studies by industrial psychologists, particularly John Hunter and Frank Schmidt, show that higher g workers perform better partly because they have learned more about their jobs but also because workers must continue to learn and reason once on the job. No training program can ever prepare workers for all contingencies, especially in a changing world. Workers must continue to learn on their own, apply old knowledge to new situations, plan, spot problems, and use their judgment. Higher levels of g enhance job performance because they provide greater capacity for continued self instruction and independent problem solving once on the job. Researchers have not found anything—not family wealth, long experience, or a favorable personality—that can substitute for this capacity in getting the work done.

Third, other evidence confirms that higher-level jobs really do require workers to perform more mentally demanding tasks. It comes from job analysis studies, which catalog the various tasks that specific jobs require workers to perform to get the job done in a competent manner. These studies, which are used to design training and compensation systems, consistently show that the major distinction among jobs lies in the overall complexity of the duties they require workers to carry out. Recall that complexity of information processing is the very same ingredient that draws forth g in IQ tests.

Read her full paper and you can also read all her published papers from her web site.

Also, see La Griffe Du Lion's Smart Fraction Theory of IQ and the Wealth of Nations and his follow-up Smart Fraction Theory II: Why Asians Lag.

Also, read about Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen's book IQ and the Wealth Of Nations.

It is a myth that research ever found Central European immigrants to be dumb. This myth was promoted by skilled Marxist propagandist Stephen Jay Gould in his Mismeasure of Man.

Gould's most inflammatory allegation consists of blaming IQ testers for magnifying the toll of those lost in the Holocaust (p. 263). Here he has followed the lead of Leon Kamin's (1974) The Science and Politics of IQ. The Kamin-Gould thesis is that early IQ testers claimed their research proved that Jews as a group scored low on their tests and that this finding was then conveniently used to support passage of the restrictive Immigration Act of 1924 which then denied entry to hapless Jewish refugees in the 1930s. Gould goes so far as to claim (1996, pp. 195-198; 255-258) that Henry H. Goddard (in 1917) and Carl C. Brigham (in 1923) labeled four-fifths of Jewish immigrants as "feeble-minded ... morons".

The facts are very different. Goddard wanted to find out if the Binet test was as effective at identifying 'high-grade defectives' (the term then used for those with mental ages between eight and twelve) among immigrants as it was among native-born Americans. By 1913, Goddard had translated the Binet test into English and arranged, over a two-and-a-half-month period, for it to be given to a subset of Jewish, Hungarian, Italian, and Russian immigrants "preselected as being neither 'obviously feeble-minded' nor 'obviously normal'" (Goddard, 1917, p. 244, emphasis added). Among this "unrepresentative" group (178 subjects in all), the tests successfully categorized 83% of the Jews, 80% of the Hungarians, 79% of the Italians, and 87% of the Russians. Goddard (1917) explicitly did not assert that 80% of Russians, Jews, or any immigrant group in general were feeble minded nor that the figures were representative of all immigrants from those nations. Nor did he claim that the feeblemindedness he was measuring was due to heredity. The vast majority of the many immigrants going through Ellis Island were never given mental tests. Nor was a random sample of any national group of immigrants ever tested. The only study by Goddard involving the testing of immigrants begins with the following sentence: "This is not a study of immigrants in general but of six small highly selected groups... "(1917, p. 243).

My post is too long already and so I'll avoid responding to all your points.

Posted by: Randall Parker on April 1, 2006 10:42 AM

I worked for Iowa Beef / Armand Hammer in the 1980s. Many of the workers at that packing plant were specifically recruited from East Asia. They made up about 1/3 of the work force. About 1/3 were hispanic. And 1/3 were working class white. These were definitely jobs American people would do -- at least at the wages paid in the 1980s. I've heard that wages today are down sharply in the industry.

The work week was 52 hrs. -- six days a week -- which meant 12 hrs. of overtime a week. I didn't see that much turn over. But again, wages and the work force have changed significantly since the 80s.

Posted by: PrestoPundit on April 3, 2006 1:59 AM

Let's make Mexico the 51st state. We get the oil and the beaches and the tequila and they get the non-forged ID cards. When 11 million of anything passes from Sphere A to Spere B, say,raindrops, grains of sand, illegal immigrants, well, hell, that's a lot of not caring by a lot of powerful folks (and non-powerful folks as well).

Posted by: das on April 6, 2006 3:33 AM

I'm with you brother, let's make Mexico the 51st state.

Posted by: christian on April 18, 2006 2:37 AM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?