Monday, March 30, 2015

A Reply

As the comment field is too small to take my full reply, I am going to respond here to the comment CW left on my essay "Computer Games, Immigration and Protectionism". To be fair, I will also reproduce her comment here, to give us equal footing/prominence/whatever.

So, here is the comment to which I am replying:
Pac Man is about my gaming speed. Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde are the leftists who must be avoided at all costs, hee hee hee. 
Well you make a very thoughtful and comprehensive argument, Andrew. I agree that in theory immigration, when properly handled, is a positive thing. I think most conservatives believe this as well, so I do take a bit of an issue with the assertion that the Right is anti-immigrant or that we allow such an impression through our own fumbling of the issue. I know of no viable conservative candidate or spokesman who doesn’t begin every debate or speech on immigration by saying that they support LEGAL immigration, which they unfortunately they must do to combat the false narrative put up by the Left.

When you advocate an “open door” policy, I would hope that this still includes the means for gov’t oversight to control who comes in, just as you reserve the right to decide who enters your own home as any sane person wants to do. If I’m incorrect on your position then we have a big disagreement there. 
The problem with immigration in the U.S. and other countries boils down to one thing: liberalism. You said that the problem isn’t the liberals, it’s the welfare state, but who is responsible for the welfare state? And the destructive force of liberalism on immigration goes much deeper than that. Liberals encourage immigrants to cling to their original cultures rather than assimilate. They insist that we “celebrate diversity,” not the melting pot. They enable disunity by insisting that we conduct business in a variety of languages and by fighting attempts to make English the official language. They applaud immigrants who fly their own flag and disrespect the American flag, or they at least do not condemn it. Liberals are in a battle for control of this nation and their strategy is to present themselves as the alternative to the conservatives. If the conservative advocates a thoughtful approach to immigration that seeks first and foremost to protect the interests of Americans then liberals will pursue exactly the opposite, and you only need to look to what they’ve done for the proof of that. People who are perplexed by Obama and the rewards he makes possible for illegal immigrants who disregard our laws and disrespect our citizens need to understand that he is driven purely by political aspirations for himself and his party. He wants to create another class of democrat voters, and he may succeed yet. The bottom line is there can be no reasoned approach to immigration so long as the Left has a significant influence on the operation of our government. It’s impossible.
And here is my response, such as it is:

I am afraid we are going to disagree, as I do advocate exactly what I said, an open door, the same policy under which my ancestors entered this country, and so did many others. Including the unwelcome Irish, Italians, Jews and others who have proven to be a boon not bane to the nation. Had states thought they could exercise the sort of controls they have today in the late 19th century, I am certain I would never have been born, nor would a large percentage of those now living. (Admittedly, the 19th century did see the beginnings of modern immigration in excluding asians, as they were even more foreign, but others weren't uniformly limited until 1914 and the beginnings of the intrusive all powerful state.) 
But, perhaps I should ask, how would you limit immigration? Who would you exclude? By what means would you judge who can and cannot enter? And who would decide these rules? The majority? So, if the majority decided, say, Poles were unwelcome, too bad for them? Or would it be based on some elite which knows best as the liberals would have?  
Or would you exclude those their home nations declare criminals? That would have excluded most of the Russian immigrants of the 1970s and 1980s from entering the US, not to mention most Cubans, since fleeing Cuba is a crime. 
Sorry, I just believe in the original purpose of the US, as a refuge for men seeking freedom, and that was intended for all men, not just for those who managed to gain the approval of those who were already here. I know the Constitution allows regulation of citizenship, but until the early 20th century (excluding the nasty bit with Asians in the late 19th century), it was rarely exercised to do much more than determine how long one needed reside for citizenship. Only in the 20th century did we begin picking and choosing, by country, by religion, by race, excluding those with unwelcome political philosophies (eg deporting communists and anarchists). 
So, yes, I think we are going to really disagree on this, as I believe in the original conception of this nation, not that of Wilson and his immediate predecessors and successors. I just do not believe there is justification to exclude immigrants based on any rational criteria. 
Of course, at present there is a problem doing so as the welfare state would make this a costly proposition, but I am speaking here of ideals, not immediate solutions. But I do still contend it is the ideal and one toward which I believe we should move, so, even if I would say I am not going to throw open the doors tomorrow, that does not mean I do not want to do so, just that present circumstances make it impossible. 
As far as immigrants clinging to their cultures, more than liberal encouragement, I believe, as historically has been the case, a lot comes from belonging to groups which are not welcomed. Look at immigrants from, say, Nigeria, who are largely ignored by most people, they integrate quite well, despite the liberal agenda, which applies tot hem doubly, being mostly black. On the other hand, Mexicans, especially illegals, tend to form insular communities, at least in part because the more heated immigration debate keeps them somewhat outside the mainstream. It is not the sole reason, nothing is so simple as to have a single cause, but it definitely plays a part. 
Actually, I can argue against the idea that politics can prevent integration much more easily. The late 19th century had an equally heated debate over immigration, with Republicans opposing immigration, especially from southern and eastern Europe, and Democrats basically mining immigrants for votes. The climate was not much different from today, there were even enclaves of unintegrated aliens. Yet, by the early 20th century, most of the groups which had once been seen as completely alien tot he US -- Jews, Italians, Irish, Poles, etc -- had begun to integrate quite well, and in another generation, two at the most, they had become mainstream. Or look at Asians. As late as 1940s they were considered alien enough that the Japanese bore the brunt of internment, with Germans and Italians being (mostly) ignored (or at least treated as alien on a much, much smaller scale), yet today Asians are very firmly integrated into the culture, so much so they face reverse discrimination to a degree greater than whites in academic admissions. 
So it seems, even when politicians, and society as a whole, has an interest in maintaining insular communities, there is still a pretty strong pressure to integrate. And we can see it today. Even with racial jargon at an all time high, there are more blacks entering the middle and upper classes, and, unthinkable a few decades ago, a small but growing number of black Republicans. Similarly, despite strong pressures from politicians to maintain a hispanic identity, there is positive growth in the hispanic middle and upper classes and other signs of strong integration. It is not perfect, no system ever is, but even with heavy immigration, the culture shock is almost always short lived, with the mainstream and new cultures rapidly finding a modus vivendi. 
I know, I am not going to win friends on either side. The left disagrees that integration and assimilation are good, and wants to skew immigration to certain nations, so they love immigration controls too. And the right believes we have to play gate keeper lest the bad guys get in (as if we could tell who they were, and bad by whose assessment?), and also worries about giving elections to the left, though in doing so they make immigrants more strong pro-Democrat anyway, making it a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. (Not that that says anything about the propriety of their cause, just interesting that their fear of pro-Democrat immigrants makes them act in ways creating even more pro-Democrat movements among immigrants. Especially those who make no distinction among illegal and legal and chant about closing all borders, etc, making Republicans look even worse than the Democrats claim them to be.) 
I suppose I have said more than enough, as I doubt we are going to agree on this, but I still stand by my idea. And I still ask, by what measure will you exclude or include aliens? And, when you come up with them, tell me if you would accept the same rules being applied to migration between states. Because if a rule cannot apply to movement from Maryland to Virginia, I have problem applying it to Mexico to Texas travel. (I know, constitutionally they are different, but they are both pairs of sovereign states, so in principle I do not see a reason to distinguish.)
I know, as I say several times, I am in a very small minority believing in no restrictions, but then again, I am in a small minority in believing the government should not be building highways or running schools. It doesn't make my belief any weaker to know I am not in the majority on these things. So, whether or not most agree, I can only say what I believe to be true.


  1. Thanks for the thorough reply, Andrew.

    Our philosophical difference on open immigration is similar to our argument over the regulation of behaviors like recreational drug use and prostitution in the sense that immigration is an issue that people of every nationality in modern history have instinctively sought to manage in one way or another. Once again I would suggest that when a behavior is universal across time and geography that it’s often driven by our self-protective and self-perpetuating instincts, and to suggest that people disregard those instincts is futile and unwise. I would remind you again that you have your own immigration policy with respect to your home. Your standards may be different but you apply controls, nonetheless, for ultimately the same purpose that nation’s seek to satisy.

    You asked how I would limit immigration. Obviously I would bar certain criminals and most definitely I would bar those with known political philosophies that are contrary to the philosophy this nation is based upon. I don’t have the time to put together a comprehensive policy but with the right people in office I would trust them to form a policy. I may not agree with every aspect of it but I see that as preferable to having no restrictions whatsoever. You asked if I would apply the same rules to migration between the states. The answer is: Of course not. The point of having an immigration policy at the federal level is that it serves the common interests of the states. Furthermore, it should go without saying that an immigration policy should be practical to manage, and what might be practical at the federal level may not be practical for the states.

    You also asked, “So if the majority decided, say, Poles were unwelcome, too bad for them? My answer is that immigration policy exists for the benefit, security and comfort of the citizens of the host nation, not for the citizens of Poland or anywhere else. Immigration, like anything else, is subject to the laws of the free market. If we are turning away good, productive people for no reason and they are taken in by other countries that benefit from having them, eventually the folly of this will be corrected IF we have anyone in gov’t with common sense. That brings me back to my original comment that in the end so long as the Left is influential in our gov’t the argument over immigration is akin to the cliché about rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Your post has really helped to open my eyes to that unfortunate reality.

  2. I am afraid I don't have time right now to read the comment, much less reply properly.

    All day I have been mulling over my response and been rather troubled that I adopted a rather hostile tone, at least more so than I intended. I am afraid between work and home and being somewhat ill, the last week or two have been rather rough ones and it has come through in the way I have been writing.

    So I would like to apologize if I gave the wrong impression.

    As to a reply, I actually had a second thought about how best to make my case, but do not have the time right now, as I don't really have time to respond. Perhaps late tonight when things are more quiet I will find time to read and write.

    Thanks for your patience with my delayed reply.

    1. I didn't take anything you said as hostile, Andrew. Take as much time as you want to reply.

    2. Thanks. Sometimes I worry my replies come across as rather abrupt, and I don't want to give that impression. Afraid work is still taking all my time at the moment, but I will try to write this weekend, and reply then as well. (Maybe, if I get lucky, I will find few minutes to finish a post I was working on earlier.)