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April 22, 2006

Food Fight

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Sometimes it's awful when people you admire disagree, sometimes it's fun. I'm enjoying this dust-up between Tyler Cowen and Steve Sailer. Tyler, a let's-have-a-lot-of-immigration semi-libertarian, writes in Slate that he thinks Latino workers should be allowed to turn New Orleans into a giant shantytown. Steve thinks Tyler is being starry-eyed.

On a related note, Edwin Rubenstein looks at the high-school graduation numbers. Did you know that 26.2 percent of all male high school dropouts in the U.S. are Mexican-born? And Steve links to this hilariously wry piece by Fred Reed. Fred, an American living in Mexico, writes in praise of Mexico's strict immigration laws. Great passage:

Why do Americans think they have a right to work in Mexico? As in most countries you need to get a work permit, and here they tend not to be issued if you are going to take work away from a Mexican. Perversely, Mexico does not believe that it exists to employ gringos. Gosh.

That's saying a lot in very few words.



posted by Michael at April 22, 2006


Tyler's a smart guy, but he was WAY off base when he cited the "favelas" of Rio in an approving manner, namely as a source of culture that the new New Orleans might find inspiring. From what I've heard, the favelas are among the most horrendous slums in the world, nothing short of a disgrace to humanity. If indeed they're a cultural source, it would be far better off if they didn't exist and there were no such culture.

Posted by: Peter on April 22, 2006 9:16 PM

All the libertarians I've met are people who want to smoke pot legally and don't want to pay any income taxes. Absolutely the most self-absorbed, unpatriotic, unrealistic, and dogmatic people I've ever come across. More so than even liberals, and that's saying a lot.

Has anyone here noticed the MSM coverup of the growing minority problems? This last week, it was "Dropout Nation" on the cover, with a picture of a white girl. Inside, it was the blacks and latinos, especially males, who were the dropouts. A few weeks back it was "What's the Problem with Boys?", with some 12-year old white boys on the cover. But inside, the story of a disproportionate amount of girls getting college degrees as opposed to boys was increasingly bad the darker the skin tone got. I guess we sweep it under the rug, misrepresent, tell lies, make excuses, slant the stories, etc. so the failure of minorities to both achieve and integrate is covered up. Unless you live in the real world, and not the media one. Then its all too apparent. But I guess if you can convince the soccer moms who watch Oprah and live in lily white suburbs that the problem is not that bad or has some sort of happy, more tax-and-spend ending, then the illusions can continue for a while.

I live in Chicago, and my job takes me all through the city. Not just the mostly white lakeshore and northwest neighborhoods. You have no idea the VAST tracts of minority neighborhoods, black and hispanic, that make up the bulk of the city. Many many square miles of it. Just saying it means nothing. You have to SEE it. I see so many people out during the daytime, driving around or walking around aimlessly, adult men and teenagers not at work or in school, doing nothing. And yet someone is feeding them and paying for their housing. More hispanics than blacks work. But that is the first generation here. Once they come and find out that the low wage jobs are permanent, that they can't really compete with the whites and asians, then they begin to resent it and start dropping out of the system, which means school and work. Joining gangs, selling drugs, committing burglaries and violent crimes. Working the government dole. And blaming racism for it all. Targeting whites.

We are importing another underclass, make no mistake about it. All attempts to rationalize this by comparing them to other european ethnic groups of the past are ridiculous, and the statistics show it. Oh yes, the old polished chestnuts are trotted out, the "I know so-and-so minority and he's the smartest/hardest working/ most moral/ most creative/ most community-active" etc. Problem is, we don't just have so-and-so, we have them ALL. You think so-and-so likes you, and maybe he does. Until there is some sort of competition or scarcity, or some sort of conflict. Then you will see just how quickly so-and-so sides with his racial group. We haven't seen really hard times here with our new liberated minorities. Surely we will. Its so nice to believe the illusions of "Dances With Wolves"-like intergroup bonding. Yet that is not reality.

I know, I know, its racist to say that. But its true. History shows this clearly. But America is the exception, right?

You know, we all want to be good people. And by good, I mean moral. Of course, that is usually never enough for most. Being competitive, we all want to be MORE moral. Its such fun to be morally superior! Unfortunately, to do this means to cling to some sort of ideal model of human behavior, which of course, means it's not real, because if it were, it would not be the ideal! If you simply acknowledge the flawed and fallen nature of people, and craft a policy according to that, you are a bad person. Or a cynic. Its funny that this realistic approach to all nature except human nature has led to such progress in science and is roundly accepted. But in terms of human nature, it must be discarded and repressed at all costs. A great wall of lies must be erected to protect the ideal from the truth.

And the truth is that all peoples are not equal, that they do not get along, that they have different traditions that are many times not compatible, and that they often hate and do harm to those unlike themselves, not out of defense, but out of simple dislike.

What happens WHEN, not if, the welfare state collapses? What happens when Affirmative Action ends as more and more jobs are outsourced or simply disappear? If you think you have seen racial tension now, you just wait. And it won't be just between whites and blacks, or whites and latinos. It will be with blacks and latinos, and aians, and arabs too. This "multicultural policy" is absolutely insane. It will end badly.

Of course, to the liberal, this will never happen. Living as they do in an ideal world, they cannot contemplate change. The ideal world never changes. But the real one does. We are rapidly losing our manufacturing base, running up gigantic personal, business, and governmental debts, being invaded largely by a group of third-world idiots, and aging rapidly. Nothing ever stays the same. Our pre-eminenent status will change too.

But best to put that off for another day. Time to watch a movie or go to the mall. Time to move to the white rural areas. Time to put the head back into the sand, and hope that everything turns out "okay". Time to deny reality, and live in a fantasy where all ethnics are sitcom comedians and multiculturalism just means more restaurants and music CD's.

Problem is, time's running out.

Posted by: Doubting Thomas on April 23, 2006 12:56 AM

Peter – I agree that Tyler’s comments about the favelas were odd and distasteful. Some of his other posts have been insightful, so it was strange to read something so out of touch with reality, and something which so clearly fails to see real human beings behind whatever economic issues he is trying to describe.

For example, I found his recent piece about the rebuilding of New Orleans area universities to be very stimulating. I wish that more colleges would re-think their mission. Many universities are becoming both over-priced and irrelevant, but still sell themselves as the gateway to an upper middle class life. But the “solution” that some propose – a division of schools into “elite” institutions and trade schools seems too narrow, and does not take into account the malleability of the current economy. I had no idea, for example, that Xavier University “produces more African-American pharmacists and med students than any other American university,” and applaud that school’s decision to concentrate on life sciences and pharmacology.

Michael – I enjoyed Fred Reed’s take on immigration, although it merely reiterates news stories about Mexican immigration policies which have long been available but largely ignored until recently. And his stance about Mexico’s right to make its own laws glides over the fact that this attitude doesn’t just protect the nation’s sovereignty, but serves to entrench a corrosively myopic oligarchy that retards economic growth.

There has recently (about time) been articles about Mexican attitudes toward immigration, including a very recent piece from AP on yahoo news. Some key quotes:

“America may want to stop illegal immigration, but most Mexicans accept it as a fact of life they can't imagine changing.

Mexico's economy, society and political system are built around the assumption that migration and amnesties for undocumented migrants will continue — and that the $20 billion they send home every year will keep coming, and almost certainly grow….

On the ground, the lure of America is evident. Abelardo Gonzalez, an elementary school director in the southern state of Oaxaca, said of his students: ‘From the time they are little kids, they have this idea of going north.’

So many people have left the farming town of Atotonilco in central Tlaxcala state, 480 miles from the U.S. border, that a sort of U.S. job placement network has grown up. Migrants send word home of a vacancy for a gardener in Los Angeles, a carpenter in Houston or a dishwasher in Raleigh, N.C….

Few in Mexico question the prevailing feeling that Mexicans have an inalienable right to go north, documented or not.”

Another recent story pointed out that while President Bush keeps hammering his inane message about the need for a guest worker program because Mexican immigrants do work that Americans won’t do, orchard owners in Washington state have been importing Thai workers because Mexican immigrants prefer high wage jobs in the construction industry to the lower wages paid to agricultural workers (and displace citizend and legal immigrants who would love to work construction). And while liberals push the delusion that immigrants just want to become Americans, the AP story indicates the degree to which illegal immigrants have created their own de facto North American free trade zone, and move north for jobs while maintaining their connection and citizenship with their home country.

Posted by: Alec on April 24, 2006 6:25 PM

"All the libertarians I've met are people who want to smoke pot legally and don't want to pay any income taxes. Absolutely the most self-absorbed, unpatriotic, unrealistic, and dogmatic people I've ever come across."

Hi, I'm Jeremy.

Now your universal quantifier no longer holds up.

I do call myself a "moderate libertarian", if that makes any difference in your analysis. I do favor the decriminalization of recreational drugs, and possibly a tax system that's a bit more "flat". But my libertarianism isn't dogmatic; quite the contrary, it's based in the skeptical and humble position that most large-scale social problems are not best addressed by providing huge resources to some central task force, and in a belief that human animals are especially prone to gullibility when it comes to a "threat" requiring "decisive action".

Posted by: J. Goard on April 24, 2006 6:31 PM


Tell me, what will happen when illegal drugs are legalized? You say it will reduce crime, right? I say that it will lead to the largest increase in violent crime this country has ever seen. All the people who sell the stuff now to willing buyers will then have to resort to robbery and violent assaults to get money. They sure as hell won't start at the bottom taking orders at Wendys. I believe the government made certain drugs illegal because snake oil salesmen were conning rubes back in the day into consuming their homemade concoctions, getting them addicted to morphine and cocaine, and quite anumber died form this sort of flim-flammery. So now we have a system in place where new drugs are thoroughly tested before use in humans, and this has worked out mostly for everyone's advantage. But of course, the libertarians/pot smokers want to throw that all away so they don't have to worry about getting snagged when they buy their bags of pot. Big thinkers these guys are. I mean, if you allow people to take absolutely anything for recreational use, how can you prevent them from taking anything for medicinal use? Whose gonna develop any high-falutin' drugs with the trial lawyers loitering in the pharmacies nowadays, huh? Perhaps that Ayn Rand was F-ing wrong!

By the way, libertarians are always talking about how the government fails at everything. Just for chuckles, tell us what they have done right for a change. Also, convince me that free trade really is free, and like a machine, and not subject to the same human manipulations and failures as any other system.
Also if you like cheap labor, why don't you move to China or Mexico? Ahhhhhhh, you want cheap labor for everything you buy, but not when you get your own paycheck! Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!

So ridiculous and so predictable!

Posted by: Doubting Thomas on April 25, 2006 12:12 AM

Okay, to your rhetorical question: here are a bunch of things our government has probably done pretty well on, in the broader scheme of human history:

*criminal law and law enforcement, for the authentic major crimes
*road and utility infrastructure
*enforcing workplace safety standards and consumer health standards for food
*the high-level university systems
*support for medical research, of the sort that has broad long-term benefits
*counteracting natural bigotries with a certain measure of reasonable anti-discrimination laws

Does that make me not a libertarian anymore? How about this: Ayn Rand was not just fucking wrong, she was a megalomaniac who couldn't fit two ideas together logically to save her life, and who successfully clouded this fact with an extraordinary talent for pushing emotional buttons.

As for drugs, no, I don't just want to smoke my pot and to hell with everyone else. As I said, I believe I'm more of a realist. I believe, for example, that adolescents have a natural attraction to mind-altering substances, and that many are turning to the extremely hazardous "huffing" of household products, which use cannot be effectively restricted by any sane means. I believe that if young people were not so terrified of being caught with vodka or marijuana or cocaine, the much more dangerous highs from Dust-Off and spraypaint would drop drastically. I believe that prison time for people who have not committed a violent offense (nor an aggressive offense against property, like burglary) causes more net cost to society than recreational drug use. I further believe that blatantly false drug-war rhetoric about the effects of marijuana, cocaine, and opiates (and the nature of most of their users) reinforces lack of respect for authority when it matters (as with huffing, or drunk driving, or seatbelts).

I also believe that the strenuous FDA approval process for drugs has killed far more people than it has saved. I can't imagine any sensible person doubting this, in fact. It doesn't make be a rabid ideologue to think that bureaucracies often fold their hands with excellent pot-odds.

So, you have these points about flim-flammery with respect to cocaine or opium. Wasn't the major snake-oil trick ingredient alcohol? Seems like the government does a good enough job allowing people to guzzle gin for pleasure, and not to cure arthritis or whatever. As for drug dealers turning to other crime... do you REALLY want to make this argument? Should we proliferate black markets for the purpose of soaking up criminally inclined people? If so, why not criminalize any random thing that a lot of people want?

Posted by: J. Goard on April 25, 2006 4:09 AM

I don't want to go on and on about this, but the FDA process has given us many anti-biotics and vaccines which have unquestionably saved hundreds of millions of lives, not just here, but around the globe. I'm not buying that one.

The purpose of prison is to punish people, not to reform them or save money. I don't care if they are non-violent or not. Most of the people arrested for drug crimes are petty dealers associated with street gangs. Cops go after these guys first because they also commit so many other crimes, especially burglary, rape, murder, and what not. Most felons don't really make the distinction between violent and non-violent crime. They do what they want to when they want to to whomever they want to, as long as they think they can get away with it. The threat of having a felony on your record or taking one up the rear should prevent most sane people from landing themselves in prison. To those too stupid, we offer this therapy. I would, however, use the death penalty a lot more, especially for recidivists, even those who just commit property crime. Figure it out, or you're gone buddy. And a much streamlined appeals process. That ought to save some money!

I didn't create the black market, nor do I advocate one. All the losers who can't think of anything better to do with their time than get wasted have created it. The statement about drug dealers turning to other crime is just a statement of fact. I don't relish saying it. Its just true. Libertarians overlook that one though, because it doesn't make their argument. Oh well, life isn't perfect.

By the way, I have no problem with the hypocrisy of allowing alcohol usage as opposed to other drugs. I think that people who can't deal with a little bit of inconsistency in life have a mental problem. I don't expect, nor require the world to be perfectly consistent. Alcohol legal/other stuff illegal. Fine with me. As you say, so many want a mind-altering experience. Here's the legal menu. Take your pick. This would also include household chemicals. You can't really help people with a death wish. But you don't have to cater to them either.

Posted by: Doubting Thomas on April 25, 2006 8:11 PM

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