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June 15, 2006

Immigration Visuals

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

One of the puzzles of the immigration debate is this: Where are the voices of the mainstream environmental groups? It wasn't so long ago that population growth was a major concern of the enviro set. Our current policies are on course to increase our population dramatically -- already, two-thirds of U.S. population growth is due to immigration. And a "reform" that's anything like the recently-passed Senate atrocity will make our population skyrocket. Yet the major environmental groups seem silent on the topic.

Might this have something to do with the fact that many of them share bedspace with the Democrats, who like all those new, Dem-voting immigrants? Or perhaps it's a function of the power of the foundations that provide a lot of the enviros' funding? Brenda Walker reveals how one immigration-lovin', big-pocketed donor co-opted the Sierra Club in 1996. Eco-immortal David Brower resigned from the Sierra Club in 2000 specifically over the issue of population growth. "Overpopulation is perhaps the biggest problem facing us, and immigration is part of the problem. It has to be addressed," he said. FAIR surveyed 20 of the country's major enviro groups and found that only six of them dare to make much of the immigration issue.

Population growth is one of the reasons that the immigration question concerns me as much as it does. It seems clear that we can sustain a larger population than the one we currently have. But is there any reason we should want to do so? We're a rich country; we get to choose. As far as I'm concerned, population density that's twice what it was in 1970 -- and this is what we're likely to have by 2050 -- is a prospect that I find very unappealing.

For one reason, all those new immigrants aren't going to be filling up the wide-open plains of North Dakota and Kansas. No, they'll be moving to where the crowds already are -- namely, to where you and I probably live. Do expressways and schools in your neck of the woods seem crowded now? Is sprawl eating up the cornfields? You ain't seen nothing yet. This morning I noticed an article in the NYTimes about how violent crime in many Northeastern cities is on the upswing. (I couldn't find this report online.) The cause: "the spread of gangs to smaller cities and suburbs." Any bets about whether gang problems are likely to become more or less severe as cities' immigrant populations continue to grow?

For those who (like me) find that a few visuals can enhance their comprehension, here's an informative video clip presented by Roy Beck of NumbersUSA. You'll see simple graphics illustrating how current immigration rates look compared to rates from the period 1925-1965. (Takeaway lesson: There's nothing normal or inevitable about current policies.) And you'll see how the country's population future looks under a variety of scenarios. Good line from Roy Beck (paraphrased): Do we really want the rest of the country to be wrestling with the problems that California is now overwhelmed by?

Here's the NumbersUSA website.



UPDATE: Thanks to Steve Bodio, who points out this eloquent and informative posting by Patrick Burns. Great passage:

Under the Census Bueau's middle-series projection, the population of the U.S. will grow by an additional 120 million people over the course of the next 50 years -- a population nearly four times larger than the foreign-born population enumerated above.

To put this 120-million number in perspective, this is a population greater than the current populations of ALL of the states West of the Mississippi: California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Nevada, Utah, Montana, Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana combined -- with Illinois thrown on top.

posted by Michael at June 15, 2006


Michael: there is a good environmentalist response at "Terrierman's Daily Dose" blog :

Posted by: Steve Bodio on June 15, 2006 5:46 PM

That's funny, calling the period during which we locked the gates due to xenophobia and depression the "golden era" of immigration.

Sure, 1925-1965 was a time when people assimilated without any major problems. Except for, say, locking up all the Japanese in internment camps and turning back shiploads of Jewish refugees to die in Germany. Barely counts.

Me, I'd have called 1900-1924 the "golden era". That's when my own grandparents came here from Poland.

Here's a nice chart that's more honest about the numerical trend, showing why 1925 was picked as a lower cutoff. Though it still should scale as a percentage of the US population...

Posted by: Glen Raphael on June 15, 2006 6:36 PM

Oh boy. Another dope throwing around the "x" word.

Posted by: hugh on June 15, 2006 7:06 PM

Glen's back for more healthy debate!

I think your rhetoric may be running away with you. Immigration averaged 178,000 people a year from 1925-1965, yet you call that "locking the gates." You also attribute the lowering of immigration rates circa 1920 to "xenophobia" and then toss around words like internment camps and Jewish refugees. That's a lot of very charged language.

I don't see much behind it, though. For one thing, I can't see how they have anything to do with whether people today really want or don't want the country's population growing to 400 million and higher. As far as I can tell, you're in favor of high immigration rates because your grandparents came to this country at a time of high immigration rates. I don't find that a compelling argument. I don't find it an argument at all, come to think of it.

Quick reminder: 1) During the 1990s, the nation’s immigrant population grew by 11.3 million — faster than at any other time in our history. Since 2000, those numbers have been growing even faster. 2) Dominated by Mexicans and Latin Americans, the country's immigrant population is growing less and less diverse. 3) We have a welfare and legal system, an ethic of multiculturalism, and a lot of bilingual education that don't exactly encourage assimilation (and none of which were in place when your grandparents came over) and 4) A big majority of Americans are unhappy about all this.

Care to explain why they should resign themselves to this state of affairs instead?

Just to return to the topic of the posting for a sec: Do you welcome an America inhabited by 400 or 500 million people? You might, for all I know. Is there a figure beyond which you'd hate to see the country grow?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on June 15, 2006 7:15 PM

The American economy has always been pushed along through population booms. The only great indigenous boom I can think of has been the Baby Boom. We all know the reason we prospered so much with previous population booms has been because those people were white. Now, the third-world dregs are lining up, and we know they are dregs by all the statistics (just look at Mexifornia for that info). If we let them in, we all know they will make America into a third-world banana republic. The vast majority of them are here to mooch.

The environmentalists are not shouting loudly because, like the rest of the left, they are a bunch of white male-haters. If a white male goes out to the suburbs and buys a house in a new development to raise his white kids with his wife, he is the nexus of all that is evil. But if Paco and his wife buy a place next door, they are noble, in search only of the Great American Dream, and deserving of every penny of welfare and minority worship the white male-haters can muster.

Lefties are sooo sensitive! They have such fragile egos! If you reject them in any way, they say you are a hater, or are phobic. They must save the fragile ego from the disappointment of being rejected by normal, white society by finding fault with you! How pathetic!

The real question for America is, how do we have a growing economy with a stagnant population and increased foreign competition for markets and natural resources? And if we can't, how can we get the juice we got from white immigration by letting in a horde of dumb third-worlders who are mostly here for the welfare? We are caught between a rock and a hard place!

By the way, you can call, e-mail, or fax your rrepresentative if you want. But the immigration issue is not a legislative problem.
the existing laws against the illegals and the criminal employers is simply not being enforced. We have and executive branch problem. A 2000 mile long wall will take 20-30 years to build, and it won't affect those who simply get off planes and disappear into the population, never to be found. The congressional bills are simply a delusion and distraction, meant to create the illusion of something happening while the existing open border policy is kept in place. You need to act at the state and local levels, to get them to pass laws to penalize employers, shut down illegal alien day labor sites, arrest people, etc. The top is the problem, not the solution.

Posted by: Simon on June 15, 2006 8:09 PM

Michael, you have probably noticed by now that you do not get a whole lot "action" when you comment on Immigration. You write such wonderful and insightful things on literature, art, architecture, movies, philosophy and even a little science. And most of you readers are simply to "sophisticated" to say anything negative about Immigration and, more importantly, immigrants.

Have you ever noticed that no one has ever commented on your Steve Sailer postings? Could you imagine that? I mean, only a racist would even acknowledge that he may have some intelligent things to say about immigration and America in general.

Well, for the record, I agree with you and wish you the best of luck. But until you can get a few more unenlightened Beer-Guzzlin', Football-Watchin' rednecks to read and comment on this site, you will probably continue to get little agreement.

Ian Lewis

Posted by: Ian Lewis on June 15, 2006 8:55 PM

I've migrated form "mt" to "wp" and I resent the fact you Blowhards haven't gigged to the fact. :)

Posted by: Alan Kellogg on June 15, 2006 9:05 PM

It's not necessarily true that immigrants are all flocking to larger cities. An increasing percentage are settling in smaller towns and even rural areas, as those are the areas in which many industrial jobs can be found (manufacturing began de-centralizing years ago).
In fact, a good part of the reason why so many people are now up in arms about immigration is that more and more parts of the country are seeing an influx of immigrants.

Posted by: Peter on June 15, 2006 9:24 PM

Immigration levels in the 1990s were extremely low by historical standards. See this chart that adjusts for population size.

I would welcome a US population of 500 million. I don't have any particular upper bound in mind. Certainly we should get rid of bilingual schooling, not least because it seems to have been a miserable failure. I suspect if we cut off new immigrants from all forms of welfare they would develop alternative institutions and be better off than the native population within a generation. Certainly they'd have better and cheaper schools.

My dad's immigrant parents were poor and spoke little english. They started a deli in the Bronx and raised three sons - a businessman, a scientist, and a doctor. I expect the current round of immigrant families to produce many similar success stories.

We need new blood! More people with more ideas and skills and diverse backgrounds. Our current and recent immigration rate is anemic; we are turning away hundreds of thousands of people every year who could help make our country even more successful. These people believe they could be safer, happier or more productive here than in their current country, and who am I to question that belief? Just as I don't speak any Yiddish, I doubt the grandkids of current immigrants will speak much Spanish.

Posted by: Glen Raphael on June 15, 2006 9:53 PM

Illinois is west (and east) of the Mississippi:

Posted by: Eric White on June 15, 2006 9:56 PM


LEGAL immigration levels were low (in your opinion). Your parents and your family are an anomaly. Most families don't have kids with advanced collge degrees. Maybe one percent, at most. Many of the illegal alien Mexicans are illiterate in their own language. Same with the immigrant blacks. You live in a dream world. Not only that, but you have demonstrated absolutely no ability to answer other people's points with facts or acknowledge the truths in their viewpoints. You need new blood, I don't. We need less diversity! Our cities are hotbeds of diversity, perversity, and crime! Send the crooks back to their own countries! I don't care what the illegals believe. I care what American citizens believe! We are a nation of citizens!

Ian Lewis thinks that only rednecks (read: dopes) who drink (gasp!) beer and who are racists oppose illegal aliens. I think what he is talking about are masculine men. I guess men who live in the arts world and drink fru-fru overpriced wines and who sneer (not openly of course, for fear of being beaten to a pulp by those masculine types) at the majority viewpoint, no matter how healthy, masculine, and (yes) NORMAL, think mass law breaking and national anarchy are more attractive. Sheesh, are all these artsy fartsy types just mentally unbalanced, or really educated fools in disguise?

You know what, Glen and Ian. You talk about being so sensitive to minorities, but you're both really lying. You don't really care what minorities think at all! You only care about what YOU think about minorities, and how cheering for them makes YOU look to other fru-fru types! And I can prove it. You see, it doesn't really matter what you thnk of minorities at all. When the minorities become the majorities, it what THEY think of YOU that will matter! And I challenge both of you to find ONE, just ONE of these minority intellectuals, like yourselves, who praises the achievements of white people, appreciates their culture, and generally talks positively about us. This is your first clue to the real prospects of assimilation of the great brown horde. I will await your answer to this challenge. I know that it will not be answered, and that you will again repair to the dream worlds you respectively live in.

I'm sorry guys, but race is a reality. Most people choose to affiliate themselves with those with whom they have the most in common. For people to favor those relationships, based on family, interests, culture, religion, race, and whatnot, is simply natural. Racism, as you define it, as giving prefernce to those most like yourself, is normal and healthy, and practiced all over the world, since human beings first existed. Discrimination, favoritism, whatever. There are many people you would categorize as racist who have never done anything to hurt a minority ever. They just prefer people of their own kind. And they should be free to do that in free county. But you guys don't really want that. You'll get it too, soon enough, as the browns suck your wallets dry and make your neighborhoods practically unlivable. Then it will be time to move to an "old blood" majority white neighborhood. The irony!

By the way, I'll take those redneck beer drinkers over fru-fru liberals any day of the week. They are usuallly good-humored, hard-working, and class guys who actually know how to do things and come through for each other, as opposed to the slick over-educated types. Real Americans.

I guess I'm skirting the edge with this post, but name calling anybody who doesn't agree with your viewpoint as being evil Nazi's is stupid and BORING! Be creative and original. Come up with an argument.

By the way, new blood is being born into our country everyday by the Real Americans. Too bad you don't acknowledge it! I guess saying that Real Americans have no new ideas is just another form of name calling and put-downs. And another evasion of reality.

Posted by: Simon on June 16, 2006 12:07 AM

Gee, Glen, I hope you're in good enough shape to climb the bunk-bed stack when your 500 million immigrants are here. You can send your amigos to slumber with stories of how you thought they were going to build great institutions and operate on your brain.
As for them giving up Spanish, here in California we are being French kissed by the Spanish tongue as the media elites play the "romantic" violins, and it sounds just as bad as your tune.
As a friend of mine said, It is just plain rude to come here and expect your language to be part of the mix. Rude -- what a simple and effective explanation of the language issue. And don't forget what the language change does to those who are not going to learn a new one. It must be nice to dream of a future for Mexicans (let's be honest who is coming) as you ignore the present plight of your fellow citizens. Such behavior must have a name, but I won't throw that rock at you.
I will say this many, especially on the Left, seem to sit there scanning the horizon for the Nazis to come goose stepping in to power. The truth is the next tyranny will probably march under minority rights. Two days ago, on the so-called peoples' farm in L.A. we were treated to a glimpse of the future where private property must bow to the COMMUNITY.
During the minuteman protests down here the immigrant activists used near and actual violent forms of intimidation against the anti-illegals. The media portrays it as "heated words."
The immigrants say I stole their land and I am the invader. They have signs attacking "gringos" that are on (city or state i dont know which) govt. property down here. If i did that, I would be serving 5 years for a hate crime. To me this adds up to a threat and you good folks who read this site better at least know that threat is out there.

Posted by: steve N. on June 16, 2006 3:21 AM

That alleged "golden era" of immigration started in 1925, right? See if you agree with the gist of this account:

A strict quota system limited the immigration of German and Austrian nationals to the United States. The quota set specific limits on the number of people who could emigrate in any given year from any foreign country, and eligibility was based on one’s country of birth.

The quotas, which were set by the immigration laws of 1921 and 1924, were discriminatory and were aimed at reducing emigration from "undesirable" areas of Europe, especially eastern Europe and the Balkans. American policy makers wanted to prevent thousands of penniless Jews from southern and eastern Europe from entering the United States. While antisemitism was certainly a factor in formulating this aim, fear of communism and a general fear of poor people in a time of depression were equally influential.

The reason immigration dropped precipitously (both in raw numbers and even more as a percentage of population) in 1925 is that we passed laws just prior to that partly in order to keep out all those Jewish refugees. I think it's pretty clear in retrospect that this was a bad thing. Penniless or not, the Jews that fled eastern europe to make it here prior to (or during, or after) that crackdown have done very well for themselves. Their kids and grandkids were among our best scientists and academics and financiers of the last century.

That my dad and his brothers come from such stock gives me a personal stake in the matter, but I'm sure you'll agree it's a somewhat representative anecdote -- Jews in America in the 1900s have been a success story. But it sure didn't look that way at the time, did it? They looked like a bad bet. The jews were poor, they had ties to other countries, they didn't speak the language, they were insular, they came from countries with terrible policies and brought with them a lot of bad political ideas.

Just like Mexicans today.

Posted by: Glen Raphael on June 16, 2006 3:21 AM

I don't have any particularly interesting opinions about this issue, except that population increases also have implications on our cultural landscape. More multilingualism. More books and movies and songs. More market segmentation. More centralization of power (both in the private sector and public sector). Greater probability of radical splinter groups within a relatively stable country. More self-absorbed than cosmopolitan.

I have a hard enough time keeping up with the production of books, movies and songs. Just imagine a 25-50% increase in the number of US blogs. I can't.

One effect on cultural types is people will be more content to stay informed about regional arts within the US (California lit vs. Texas lit or East Coast lit). Right now, even though we admit that different cities have different artistic styles, I have no problem reading/appreciating a work produced in NY, Oregon, Kansas, Georgia. That could change.

I once noticed that as cosmopolitan as I claimed to be, the blogs I read were almost uniformly American. I even made an effort to find English language blogs from Australia/Britian/Canada/other countries. It bothers me less now because the net lets me stay informed about what people in my state (or even city) are doing. In Houston, for example, the city newspaper has been amassing a blogging empire of Houstonians who are writing about their own niche (without pay). Maybe my experience is atypical, but in the last year, I have read significantly less from national media and more from regional media (even though much of the regional media is focused on much of the same issues, albeit with a whole different perspective).

Posted by: Robert Nagle on June 16, 2006 6:07 AM

I'm with you on this one, Michael. Enough is enough. The USA is an historical nation-state made up of a flesh and blood PEOPLE who came here 400 years ago from Europe, mainly the British isles. It is the creation of those people, and if we lose that identity, there are NO guarantees that our constitution will have any meaning to future generations. We like immigrants, but we want them in fewer numbers and we want them to assimilate. Without assimilation there will be chaos and dissent. And how can a Balkanized USA be of help to the rest of the world? We area nation just like Japan, Ecuador, Denmark or Zambia. Would any of those nations allow themselves to be overwhelmed by immigration? I think not.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on June 16, 2006 8:25 AM

As a class, Jews in America are number one in education level achieved and in average income. My compliments. Where are the Mexicans in this equation? Wait, that’s not nice to say. Where is the best subset of Latin Americans in the scale? Of course you have to exclude Cubans since they blow the curve. Don’t we want the best and brightest in this country?

Also, a friend of mine was looking into emigrating to Australia or New Zealand. These countries, and others, have a list of preferred occupations and skill-sets that they will allow in their country. Other countries have similar standards. What if we went to this standard, nation of origin be damned? Then I think we would have enough landscapers and busboys. We need professional people, not laborers, we can grow those locally.

Posted by: Matt on June 16, 2006 9:39 AM

Glen -- Well, no one can say you haven't thought your stance through, or that you aren't consistent! Thanks for being forthright about your p-o-v. I do think the grandparents thing falls apart. My own ancestors came over at a time of very light immigration. Our lineages have done pretty well. But what does that prove? Or have to say about much of anything? I think we tend to differ mainly over the role of govt in all this. To my mind, it's one of the first and most important duties of government to run an effective and responsible borders-and-population policy whose first allegiance is to the people who already inhabit the country. But maybe that makes me a big ol' square.

Hey, can we set aside the larger issue for a sec? I've got two questions:

* Did anyone watch the video? I thought Roy Beck's visuals were pretty striking.

* I keep trying (vainly, so far) to introduce the question of "what do we (I, you, etc) want?" It's a question that, to my mind, is forever getting overlooked in the general debate. Yet it seems to me to be key: Shouldn't we be able to have a preference where our future population is concerned? And shouldn't our pols take respectful note of this? But first we have to express our preferences. So I've gone first: I like the US at a population of around 200 million, and I'm sorry it seems likely to head much higher. Anyone care to volunteer what population level they want the country to be at?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on June 16, 2006 10:08 AM

Lobbing "facts" back and forth only masks what this debate is about: personal preference. This country will thrive either way, it's how it thrives and what it looks like that is debatable.

Posted by: the patriarch on June 16, 2006 10:38 AM

"Anyone care to volunteer what population level they want the country to be at?"

100 million would suit me fine.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on June 16, 2006 10:48 AM

Lol, Glen compares jews, who had quotas imposed on them early on to keep them *out* of college, with hispanics who get affirmative action today.

Here is Thomas Sowell on Jews:
["The left likes to portray a group as sort of a creature of surrounding society. But that's not true. For example, back during the immigrant era, you had neighborhoods on the Lower East Side [of Manhattan] where Jews and Italians arrived at virtually identical times. Lived in the same neighborhoods. Kids sat side by side in the same schools. But totally different outcomes. Now, if you look back at the history of the Jews and the history of the Italians you can see why that would be. In the early 19th century, Russian officials report that even the poorest Jews find some way to get some books in their home, even though they're living in a society where over 90% of the people are illiterate.

"Conversely, in southern Italy, which is where most Italian-Americans originated, when they put in compulsory school-attendance laws, there were riots. There were schoolhouses burning down. So now you take these two kids and sit them side by side in a school. If you believe that environment means the immediate surroundings, they're in the same environment. But if you believe environment includes this cultural pattern that goes back centuries before they were born, then no, they're not in the same environment. They don't come into that school building with the same mindset. And they don't get the same results."]

Glen, why aren't Italians half of nobel prize winners like jews? You seem to claim that every group turns out socioeconomically the same in america in the long term. That is false in the past and false now (See African Americans). Can you fathom the possiblility that hispanics will turn out more like African Americans than Jews? Please acknowledge the risk the US is taking in possibly creating a new permanent underclass.

Posted by: PJGoober on June 16, 2006 11:57 AM

Excerpt from a Thomas Sowell interview:
"The left likes to portray a group as sort of a creature of surrounding society. But that's not true. For example, back during the immigrant era, you had neighborhoods on the Lower East Side [of Manhattan] where Jews and Italians arrived at virtually identical times. Lived in the same neighborhoods. Kids sat side by side in the same schools. But totally different outcomes. Now, if you look back at the history of the Jews and the history of the Italians you can see why that would be. In the early 19th century, Russian officials report that even the poorest Jews find some way to get some books in their home, even though they're living in a society where over 90% of the people are illiterate.

"Conversely, in southern Italy, which is where most Italian-Americans originated, when they put in compulsory school-attendance laws, there were riots. There were schoolhouses burning down. So now you take these two kids and sit them side by side in a school. If you believe that environment means the immediate surroundings, they're in the same environment. But if you believe environment includes this cultural pattern that goes back centuries before they were born, then no, they're not in the same environment. They don't come into that school building with the same mindset. And they don't get the same results."

Posted by: PJGoober on June 16, 2006 12:00 PM

I live in Texas. I experience the "illegal" problem on an "in-your-face" basis every day.

Do I blame "these people" for wanting to come to America - hell no! Do I want them overrunning my city, burdening the local public schools and medical facilities, and keeping my neighborhood and house heavily smoked with the smell of roasting cabrito every weekend of every month? Hell no! (Don't get me wrong - I love barbecue, but not 24/2 on the weekend.)

The Texas-Mexico connection goes back a long way, our histories entertwined in blood. To allow the Lone Star State to be assimilated back into Mexico is a slap in the face to those Texas men who fought with their lives to gain independence. We can be good neighbors with Mexico without shouldering the responsibility of playing the all benevolent benefactor, whose arms and pocketbooks and resources are forever stretched wide in welcome.

My precious Big Lonesome area of Texas is becoming overpopulated by outsiders, non-natives not only from Mexico, but from California, New York, New Mexico,and more. So, to be REALLY frank and admit total selfishness, I consider all non-Texans to be illegal immigrants in my home state. Yes, my great great grandparents came to Texas via Louisiana and France, but for over a hundred years, my family tree has rooted only in Texas.

Overpopulation can only lead to certain misery and a complete destruction of a way of life that nurtures individualism and freedom. It is cathartic to admit aloud I don't want to share my toys with playmates who don't give a tinker's damn whether they break them or not.

BTW, I consider myself a casual liberal-minded environmentalist, and I am married to a white male who lives in the suburbs. For the record, I adore him.

Posted by: Cowtown Pattie on June 16, 2006 12:41 PM

I'm a big, fat, commie-pinko, progressive liberal who's been living in SoCal for 14 years, so I've seen the population explosion up close and personal. It's horrendous; there's no other word. I'm looking at moving to the rural Midwest just because of the traffic. And no, I'm not kidding. So I haltingly vote for 300 million to give us some time to get squared away with a better plan.

Plan?!? Plan, you say!?!

Yeah. B/c like I said, I'm a big, fat liberal. I'm equally cheesed off by the notion that we as a nation feel entitled to drive our ever-larger cars to our ever-larger houses in farther and farther-flung suburbs where we consume ever-larger quantities of x, y and z. That's a horrible dream for a country to have. I think the people who sacrificed and struggled to establish this country in the first 100 or so years of its existence would be horrified to see what those of us in the last 100 or so have wrought, wonderful techological advancements notwithstanding.

So "yes" to slowed/reduced immigration levels, but attached to this message of larger, global sustainability and human rights. The way we're living isn't sustainable for the 1970s base population, either; the suburbs were a lousy idea from the get-go.

Oh, and Michael, that's a pretty good video. But they need Duarte Design to step in. I mean, what's up with the horse-and-buggy charts? Haven't they heard of electronic presentation graphics?

Posted by: communicatrix on June 16, 2006 12:54 PM

Hey, Patriarch, you say this country will thrive either way. We are headed for a massive collapse of the entitlement system in a few years. It will be social security vs. food stamps ect... Don't forget if these immigrants are legalized they can bring their parents -- in some cases those parents can bring their parents. And guess who gets the medical bill for bringing in 70 year old people who are eligible and required to receive the best health care a hospital can provide. That could easily be a million dollars on one immigrant family. And don't forget we will be paying over 10 grand a year to educate the kids -- well to babysit them, anyway. Look at the stats on their education.
Non-hispanic whites currently have a crime rate 2.5 times that of whites. The gang life seems to be mighty attractive to many of their kids.
We are borrowing from one billion to three billion a day (much of that from china). This nation will thrive either way?
I mean -- I know we all have to fear these arguments because of the racial element which is the duct tape over the mouth of free thinking Americans. I suppose if the trillions we borrow are all just some sort of paper magic that never comes due, we will thrive. I just know it doesnt work that way in the real world.
I did not make this stuff up. I would love to know how I am wrong on this? But, I see us driving toward the cliff, and you telling me the car will fly just doesn't cut it.

Posted by: steve N. on June 16, 2006 12:58 PM

Communicatrix: the suburb-exburb sprawl is caused by families escaping cities and immediate suburbs. What are they escaping? or is it that they love long commutes and killer mortgages?

Cowtown Pattie: if you reall adored him, you'd have used the word whtie "man", not "male". ;-) (sorry, a big pet peeve of mine)

Posted by: hugh on June 16, 2006 1:33 PM

"Glen, why aren't Italians half of nobel prize winners like jews? You seem to claim that every group turns out socioeconomically the same in america in the long term. That is false in the past and false now (See African Americans). Can you fathom the possiblility that hispanics will turn out more like African Americans than Jews? Please acknowledge the risk the US is taking in possibly creating a new permanent underclass."

The Jews have done extrodinarily well for a variety of reasons, but just because Italians don't make up half of Nobel Prize winners does not mean they have not been successful in the US. Every group that has immigrated to the US has thrived, as a whole, in the end, and the country has been better for it. African Americans did not immigrate. (I'm not saying that excuses the various problems withing that commununity, but I think it should be mentioned.)

Posted by: the patriarch on June 16, 2006 1:45 PM

"Communicatrix: the suburb-exburb sprawl is caused by families escaping cities and immediate suburbs. What are they escaping? or is it that they love long commutes and killer mortgages?"

Mortgages are cheaper in the suburbs than in the city, that is why people are moving. It's why I moved. I'd love to still be living in the Bay Area, but I couldn't afford a house, so Sacramento it is.

Posted by: the patriarch on June 16, 2006 1:49 PM

Oh, no fears, he is all man - I was just using the terms provided by the commentor who chose to broadpaint his perceptions.

Posted by: Cowtown Pattie on June 16, 2006 1:54 PM

hugh - Who loves driving? Other than people who do it around a track at high speeds for a living?

I'm saying it's time to rethink the suburbs thing entirely. Yes, even the old, pretty ones. They suck, too. Evanston, Oak Park, Westchester, Pasadena: suck, suck, suck, suck.

t.p. - I'm with you on the high price of living in the city. But there's a high price to having one's own little plot of land, period. It's just not of as much immediate concern, so we all blow it off.

I know I sound like a recent convert to Kunstler; I am. But these are things I've always suspected. I'm just grateful to have someone funnier and more articulate put a name to them.

Posted by: communicatrix on June 16, 2006 3:36 PM

"Many of the illegal alien Mexicans are illiterate in their own language. Same with the immigrant blacks. You live in a dream world. Not only that, but you have demonstrated absolutely no ability to answer other people's points with facts or acknowledge the truths in their viewpoints. You need new blood, I don't."

Care to guess who'll be changing your adult diapers in the nursing home some day?

Posted by: Peter on June 16, 2006 4:12 PM

My main point is that there's nothing new in our current fears about immigration. In the early 1900s we had essentially unrestricted immigration from the western hemisphere but we tried to limit immigration from those who most wanted to come here for economic and political reasons - Jews, Chinese, and Irish. The arguments against letting those groups in then were very similar to the arguments used against the mexicans today. And these arguments were wrong then. All those groups assimilated. Can we learn nothing from that? Sure, it's conceivable that "this time it's different", but whenever that argument was made in the past it was wrong so I'm disinclined to believe it now.

The "we're overpopulated!" argument could have been made back then too. Regarding the Roy Beck line, I live in California and I don't feel at all "overwhelmed". Some parts of southern California may feel "overwhelmed" but I'm not convinced the problem is worse now than it's ever been. In many ways it's probably better. San Francisco is if anything less "overwhelmed" than before.

I thought the Roy Beck video lacked a sense of history. Roy's claim that in the "golden age" people didn't resent immigration was nonsense and his other claims about why population growth is bad lacked context. His main argument has the form "if this problem is bad now, imagine how much worse it will be in the future!" I didn't find that compelling, because scale makes many problems easier to solve. Build enough new schools and you should get better at it; it ought to get easier rather than harder to meet new demand over time. Increase the population density and new public transit options become viable. Right now commuter rail is just barely viable in Northern California because we don't have enough people densely enough packed to constitute a reliable market. Bring in more people and the per-person cost of many infrastructure projects decreases. Local commuter trains can be cheaper and run more often and even the high-speed LA-to-SF line starts to make economic sense.

I found his bit with the gumballs annoying because the total number of starving people in the world is decreasing. Not just percentage-wise, but in absolute numbers. Given that trend, it actually is conceivable we could make a difference that way - by letting poor refugees immigrate here - if we so desired. The past experience of the Jews, the Chinese, the Irish, and, yes, the Italians suggest we'd be better for it.

Other than that, it struck me that his view that population increase is bad is primarily an aesthetic judgement. Some people find "Sprawl" and tall buildings or big cities unattractive, others don't. There are at least as many benefits to population growth as costs. With growth, an area can support more and better hospitals, schools, symphonies, restaurants, entertainment options. Even the quality of wilderness-visiting experiences could be improved by additional investment.

Simon: My mom's family has been here since the Mayflower and I don't have a PhD, so I'm not sure I qualify as a "minority intellectual". But Thomas Sowell seems to fit your bill - he has plenty of good things to say about the majority culture and institutions.

Posted by: Glen Raphael on June 16, 2006 4:48 PM

To quote Mark Twain:

We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again - and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.

We must not be slaves to the immigration experiences of the Ellis Island era, or of the closed-door era either.

For instance, yes, refugees turned away in the 1930s were later murdered. But that does not mean we must now accept every immigrant claiming refugee status. Some of the most vicious Islamist agitators in Europe are 'asylum seekers'. (In any case, accepting refugees is a poor substitute for removing the regimes that create them.)

And we really need to get over "Ellis Island" nostalgia.

When A says "Let's secure the border against Mexican illegals," B should not be able to silence him by invoking the SS ST LOUIS or "I Remember Mama".

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on June 16, 2006 5:24 PM

Communicatrix: I think I'm with you. I understand the Kunstler/suburbia stuff; a close friend of mine is a landscape architect, and we've gone through all the discussions, literature, I read "A Pattern Language", etc.

My point is that most Americans simply have no choice but run to the suburbs once they have children. For starters, it's the schools. White enclaves and schools with non-predatory environments are a very rich man's luxury in this country. Everyone else finds the next best thing by going to the ever-receding suburbs and deals with the commute.

Posted by: hugh on June 16, 2006 5:58 PM


Thomas Sowell is marginal, overwhelmingly rejected by fellow blacks, and looked at as an Uncle Tom, as are other conservative blacks (5% of blacks maybe?). I also said advanced degree, not doctorate. I'm really unconcerned about when your Mom's family came here. We are talking about now, not then. Whatever. Make sure you avoid the substance of the points I made with misdirection to unimportant details. That approach I can rely on. Keep looking for any mainstream minorities who praise whites and white european culture. I'm still waiting.

People's fears about immigration may not have changed, but then again we are talking about reality, not perception. The big difference between then and now is that the govt. actually screened prospective immigrants and controlled the border. Today, that is not the case. The immigrants then followed the law. The illegal aliens of today don't. The quality of the aliens we are getting is overwhelmingly low. Not so with the white immigrants of the past. And last, but surely not least, we did not have a gigantic welfare state at the turn of the century for new immigrants and their families to suck off of from cradle to grave. Now we do. Welcome back to reality!

Also, since I am very familiar with public transportation issues, I find your analysis there pretty funny. Actually, as the scale of problems in transportation has grown, they have become more difficult to solve. The automobile is by far the most flexible and efficient form of transporation there is, which is why so many people use it. You must understand that public transportation is heavily subsidized. The two dollar subway ride you pay for actually costs at leats twice that, and sometimes more. Most people could easily run many errands on a single gallon of gas and save time doing so. Public transit would take all day. I know. I've lived in big cities without a car and with one. The simple fact is that any transportation system is like a body--there is a physical limit to how much it will carry. If, for instance, you were able to add enough lanes to highways so that traffic moved freely, the developers would simply increase the density of the housing and retail, and you would lose the new capacity rather quickly. THE SAME IS TRUE OF MASS TRANSIT! But, there again, that is the real world, not the ideal one. Sigh!

What we really need in this country is a drop in real estate prices so that people can start their own families earlier and have more of their own kids. And the only way to get it is to shut the border down. We can make our own population increase too, you know. At least most of those would be Real Americans.

Posted by: Simon on June 16, 2006 8:31 PM

By the way, if you think we have open borders now and are losing our sovereignty fast, just wait until this thing gets built:

This is no joke.

Posted by: Simon on June 16, 2006 9:36 PM

While I agree with most that we don't want a huge surge in uneducated n'er do wells who want only to live on welfare:

1 - I do not believe that describes any significnat portion of would-be immigrants

2 - we should not frame the imigration discusion in terms of scarcity.

We are not crowded. This country is huge, and most of it is empty. I just flew from Chicago to SF, and as I always I was surprised at just how little of this country is inhabited -- and, more importantly, how so much of it is pleasantly habitable -- unlike so many other areas. When you learn of the hell-holes so many other people exist in -- not just the poverty, corruption or politics, but the deserts with biting flies, carnivores, parasites etc -- how can anyone think we need to keep this lovely continent empty while others suffer?

Yes, we may need to forcibly move new-coming immigrants from LA and NYC to new habitats in these empty areas; yes, we must be sure we do not coddle newcomers and develop a permanent underclass of welfare recipients; yes, we should do away with the idea of multiculturalism and bilingualism and stress assimilation…

…But we don’t need to wall off this big, spacious land we have been blessed with [I say with all serious despite my atheism].

Michael -- you ask how many people we would want here? I can’t say how many could comfortably "fit" here. I think LA and the SF bay area, the two metropolises with which I am familiar, are too crowded. But go ten minutes out of the dense bay area and it is practically empty. Where I live in the mountain near Yosemite is beautiful, a climate so mild that you could live comfortably without shelter or even clothing -- and it is also almost completely empty. I don’t want a lot of new neighbors, but I could accommodate four other house on just my property alone and still keep my current standard of living and privacy, where I can’t see another house unless I stand out on my deck and look a mile way.

I am not saying we don’t have problems with immigration.
But we have room.

[And I am also reminded of all the doom-sayers in the 70s, proved so wrong because they did not take into account even the most basic technological advances that we now take for granted -- advances that improved efficiency and ease of living so much that we in effect tripled our oil supply, for example.]


Posted by: Paul Worthington on June 16, 2006 9:45 PM

Is Worthington joking?
First off, they take welfare benefits. That is known as a fact. It may be technically hidden because if their child is born here, you could say the welfare is going to U.S. citizens.
During welfare reform when benefits were going to be limited to citizens, we were told that the "people who only come here to work" would be starving in the streets if we cut benefits to legal residents (noncitizens).
What exactly do you think prevents these folks from collecting benefits. Loyalty to the American system along with respect for laws by the ILLEGALS? I stood in line at the grocery store as a woman bought chicken and more grub for a big barbecue with a food stamp card. Waiting for her were four able bodied Mexicans, young guys in their 20s, not a bit embarassed that they were taking something that no able bodied man should ever take. It is charity. Then, they walked out and got in an SUV with custom rims. What an absolutely pathetic country this is if you expect a man to see this and have no reaction. Again, think of it -- today, I am the bad guy for hating them at that moment.
Do you hear the immigrants' spokesmen telling them they need to get their piece of the pie? They are not saying "Opportunity"; they are saying "their piece." Look up a few speeches by California legislators that are never covered by the main press. It is more threats of "here we come and we are gonna get ours." There is zero "thanks for the opportunity for a better life."
But, hey, I guess we shouldn't worry; Paul has room for maybe "four" houses on his property. Of course, he'd like to limit it to four. Again, is this a joke?
Read aboout the Orange County woman whose neighborhood has been turned into an illegal alien flop house (20 to 30 guys to a house). That could mean a 120 close neighbors for you, Paul, clogging the sewage pipes on a regular basis, stressing services and in this woman's case making her a prisoner in her own home.
But don't listen to me. Paul says technology is going to save the day from my complaints, the atheist believes in a Savior.
And besides, people have complained about things before and not all those things turned out to be problems. Come on. Get a match. You have a straw man that is in desperate need of burning.

Posted by: steve N. on June 16, 2006 10:39 PM

>> ...we don't want a huge surge in uneducated n'er do wells who want only to live on welfare ... I do not believe that describes any significnat portion of would-be immigrants

Even if many first generation immigrants work hard, their sons won't. They're more likely to be gangbangers.

Unlike with the Ellis Island immigration of Europeans, many primitive and illiterate, there is a pattern of reverse-assimilation when it comes to non-whites. Be it here or in Europe, succeeding generations of immigrants' children become more alienated, race-concious, etc.

Some immigration enthusiasts think that open borders will turn America into some cosmopolitan, high-tech, vibrant New York or Tokyo. In reality, we need to worry about looking like Lagos and Ciudad Mexico.

Posted by: hugh on June 17, 2006 5:34 AM


To help forward the discussion it might be useful to ask/answer these two questions:

1. What are those immigration policies of other countries? Where do we fit in the spectrum? Do most countries have "open borders?" If I want to move to, say Bolivia, can I simply fly there and claim residency and citizenship?

2. Should the USA (for whatever reasons) have immigration policies different that other countries? Is there any (moral, practical etc etc) reason for us to be different? (If indeed we are different.)

I bet the answer to # 1 is readily available on the web and could provide some very useful perspective for us.

Posted by: David Sucher on June 17, 2006 1:08 PM

Btw, the reason I suggest comparison is because so much of the conversation which I have heard gets very moralistic very in 'Anyone who is against open boarders is a racist.' etc etc and I am curious about how other nation states handle the issue of immigration.
My guess --and I could very well be wrong -- is that most countries have policies as restrictive (or more so) than ours. Does that make such a policy "right?" Maybe not but it sure would be nice not to have people frame the question as if concern for immigration policy is unusual, xenophobic and solely an issue raised by GW Bush to take the masses' attention from Iraq.

Posted by: David Sucher on June 17, 2006 8:58 PM

I can't agree with the pejorative view of recent immigrants. At the turn of the20th century, Italian immigrants were looked upon as nothing but strong backs and weak minds. Look at their children now! Doctors, lawyers, governors, professors!

Other immigrants can do the same.

Also--if we don't have more children and old people, we will be like Europe, where the average age is 60 or something. Who will pay social security? Who will WORK?

This said, I'm not in favor if illegal immigration. It floouts the law--a bad thing for all of us.

Posted by: Miriam on June 18, 2006 10:13 AM


The quality of the new illegal aliens is quite low. Do a little research. Mexicans aren't Italians.

Also, I think Europe will start seeing a new influx of white immigrants from Canada and America if the ridiculous Immigration bill in the Congress gets approved. Mostly in the eastern and central european countries, I'd think, as some are quite vibrant economically and they hate socialism, having suffered under it for 50-70years.

Posted by: Simon on June 18, 2006 12:48 PM

Let us get one thing straight, folks; the illegals are not going to pay more in than they take out. I don't mean to be rude, but this is such a life and death situation for the present state of this country that people should do some homework.
Look at L.A. This is your crystal ball.

Posted by: steve N. on June 18, 2006 2:15 PM

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