Immigration: Then and Now
Oftentimes the immigration pushers trot out the line that America is a ‘nation of immigrants’. The immigration resistance force fights back on that line, but there is merit to just stating the obvious differences between 1900 and today. America around 1900 was a much more middle-tier power, with an economy more in line with the rest of Europe and a far more wide open economy. It also had a far weaker central government. It is not just who a nation adds that matters, but what the nation is like when they get there. Mid-20th-century America was globally like the New York Yankees: additions should have been selective and potential immigrants seen as amplifiers, bringing wealth, smarts or technical abilities. This is different from 19th-century America, an agricultural and resource power. Like every other debate in America, what is unmentionable is what’s most important to mention: who is allowed to immigrate and what the immigrants bring with them.
Check out the per capita GDP of countries heading to the USA then versus now. US GDP was anywhere from even to 50% higher than the GDP of countries that people left to come to the US. The Swedes and Norwegians who came from countries with lower per capita GDPs created thriving, orderly communities in the Upper Midwest. This is not to say that all immigration was perfect, but America’s economic position was relatively lower in 1870 and 1913 than today. America’s economy was far more agrarian, and the frontier was not closed, as FDR put it. With the wealth of minerals, discovery of oil, manufacturing throughout the north and transportation networks to be built, there was a huge demand for labor. There was also no PC culture or welfare system. Immigrants frozen out through the hierarchy in Europe at the time could try America.
Today agricultural jobs make up a pittance of total jobs. The economy has seen wage depreciation, not just due to the glut of workers through unrestricted immigration but through global wage arbitrage. Automation has lowered the demand for manufacturing workers. Where are these “workers” coming from? America is also pulling in immigrants from nations with per capita GDP’s that are a fraction of America’s. Mexico’s is 1/5th, India’s is 1/33rd (yes, 1/33rd), Brazil’s is 1/4th and the other sources of immigration are similarly horrible. Rights, welfare, welfare rights, you name it, they get it. The immigrants are coming from some of the fastest growing economies in the world, but they’re only growing fast because of how much room they have to grow.
In terms of policy, it’s all about benefiting the progressive faction. It isn’t about money or the optimization of the economy or American economic power. It is about politics. The politics of boosting growth to make all of those special progressive welfare systems solvent for as long as possible takes a backseat to pure electoral politics, unless the two turn out to be compatible: ‘we’ need to keep Social Security solvent, but ‘we’ can’t boost birth rates here because that would be impossible, never mind that Russia did it, so let’s bring in more people who will vote for me!
It’s also politics not of today as much as tomorrow. The media molds the entire message by saying America is a nation of immigrants, that being anti-immigration is racist, and that immigrants will meld perfectly into the fabric of America. This is really so that by the time their kids, with birthright citizenship, are old enough to vote, they have a legitimate voice as young Americans, shaping policy and governing the nation. Amazing how the nation of immigrants phrase takes off like a rocket around the passage of the 1965 immigration act and goes parabolic in the ’90s. That language must have made the transformation of California into Alta California much easier to rationalize. At some point, the media gatekeepers will probably float out the idea of annexing Mexico. They’ll have a ready made statesman to lead that unification.
Decades of immigration and conditioning that the US is a nation of immigrants has made the discussion only one of expanding immigration and moving forward. Eisenhower’s Operation Wetback would be impossible today. Even if immigration becomes a yes or no question, it is easier to paint the no side as ‘extreme’ when we can never discuss ‘who’. Discussing ‘who’ and even ‘why’ would reveal too many unpleasant truths about the relative values of day laborers from Central America vs. engineers from Sweden or farmers from South Africa. It might lead to questions of what exactly was the goal starting in 1965 of bringing in poorly performing new players to the Yankees’ clubhouse.
This is also a point in determining who has the strongest power in the polygon: the media. Sure the banks have a good financial blackmail scheme going with them, but the Sulzberger family could sacrifice a bit of wealth to destroy them. The NY Times has constitutional protection that Harvard does not, and the media can quickly turn on academia to rough them up. Not one major outlet shouts about what population replacement or mass immigration has done to communities, and they do not educate the areas of the nation that have not been overrun by Mexican immigration like the border states. Reagan could not consider a new Operation Wetback in the mid ’80s, only amnesty. If the NY Times wanted, they could lead the way in spotlighting immigration’s detrimental effect on the fabric of the nation and the national treasury. Others could mention the environmental degradation. A two-to-four-year campaign, punctuated by “illegal immigrant kills again” stories, would have voters frothing at the mouth for a candidate who wants to end mass immigration and expel recent law breakers. Most importantly, public figures could voice a wide range of policy options to debate for this primed pool of voters. Yet they remain silent.
from Immigration: Then and Now