the golden days of American capitalism are over—or so the authors opine. That conclusion may seem surprising, as the U.S. economy appears to be flourishing. But the current GDP growth rate of roughly 3 percent, after deducting a 1 percent demographic increase, is rather modest, the authors maintain, compared with the historic performance of the postwar years, when the economy grew at an annual average of 5 percent. Moreover, unemployment appears low only because a significant portion of the population is no longer looking for work.
Greenspan and Wooldridge reject the conventional wisdom on mature economies growing more slowly. They blame relatively slow growth in the U.S. on the increase in entitlement spending and the expansion of the welfare state—a classic free-market argument.
They are right to reject the conventional wisdom. Slow growth is due to the expansion of government spending (including entitlements) and the regulatory burden. See “The Rahn Curve in Action” for details, including an equation that accurately explains the declining rate of growth since the end of World War II.
Arnold Kling opines about defense economics. Cost-effectiveness analysis was the big thing in the 1960s. Analysts applied non-empirical models of warfare and cost estimates that were often WAGs (wild-ass guesses) to the comparison of competing weapon systems. The results were about as accurate a global climate models, which is to say wildly inaccurate. (See “Modeling Is not Science“.) And the results were worthless unless they comported with the prejudices of the “whiz kids” who worked for Robert Strange McNamara. (See “The McNamara Legacy: A Personal Perspective“.)
Georgi Boorman says “Yes, It Would Be Just to Punish Women for Aborting Their Babies“. But, as she says,
mainstream pro-lifers vigorously resist this argument. At the same time they insist that “the unborn child is a human being, worthy of legal protection,” as Sarah St. Onge wrote in these pages recently, they loudly protest when so-called “fringe” pro-lifers state the obvious: of course women who willfully hire abortionists to kill their children should be prosecuted.
Anna Quindlen addressed the same issue more than eleven years ago, in Newsweek:
Buried among prairie dogs and amateur animation shorts on YouTube is a curious little mini-documentary shot in front of an abortion clinic in Libertyville, Ill. The man behind the camera is asking demonstrators who want abortion criminalized what the penalty should be for a woman who has one nonetheless. You have rarely seen people look more gobsmacked. It’s as though the guy has asked them to solve quadratic equations. Here are a range of responses: “I’ve never really thought about it.” “I don’t have an answer for that.” “I don’t know.” “Just pray for them.”
You have to hand it to the questioner; he struggles manfully. “Usually when things are illegal there’s a penalty attached,” he explains patiently. But he can’t get a single person to be decisive about the crux of a matter they have been approaching with absolute certainty.
… If the Supreme Court decides abortion is not protected by a constitutional guarantee of privacy, the issue will revert to the states. If it goes to the states, some, perhaps many, will ban abortion. If abortion is made a crime, then surely the woman who has one is a criminal. But, boy, do the doctrinaire suddenly turn squirrelly at the prospect of throwing women in jail.
“They never connect the dots,” says Jill June, president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa.
I addressed Quindlen, and queasy pro-lifers, eleven years ago:
The aim of Quindlen’s column is to scorn the idea of jail time as punishment for a woman who procures an illegal abortion. In fact, Quindlen’s “logic” reminds me of the classic definition of chutzpah: “that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.” The chutzpah, in this case, belongs to Quindlen (and others of her ilk) who believe that a woman should not face punishment for an abortion because she has just “lost” a baby.
Balderdash! If a woman illegally aborts her child, why shouldn’t she be punished by a jail term (at least)? She would be punished by jail (or confinement in a psychiatric prison) if she were to kill her new-born infant, her toddler, her ten-year old, and so on. What’s the difference between an abortion and murder? None. (Read this, then follow the links in this post.)
Quindlen (who predictably opposes capital punishment) asks “How much jail time?” in a cynical effort to shore up the anti-life front. It ain’t gonna work, lady.
See also “Abortion Q & A“.
In a new analysis of the latest numbers [by the Center for Immigration Studies], from 2014, 63 percent of non-citizens are using a welfare program, and it grows to 70 percent for those here 10 years or more, confirming another concern that once immigrants tap into welfare, they don’t get off it.
Milton Friedman, thinking like an economist, favored open borders only if the welfare state were abolished. But there’s more to a country than GDP. (See “Genetic Kinship and Society“.) Which leads me to…
Responding to what he cutely calls “economic piety”—the belief that GDP per capita defines a country’s well-being, and the role of society is to ensure the economic “pie” grows sufficiently to allow each individual to consume satisfactorily—Cass offers a competing hypothesis….
[A]s Cass argues, if well-being is measured by considerations in addition to economic ones, a GDP-based measurement of how our society is doing might not only be insufficient now, but also more costly over the long term. The definition of success in our public policy (and cultural) efforts should certainly include some economic measures, but not at the expense of the health of community and family life.
Consider this line, striking in the way it subverts the dominant paradigm: “If, historically, two-parent families could support themselves with only one parent working outside the home, then something is wrong with ‘growth’ that imposes a de facto need for two incomes.”…
People need to feel needed. The hollowness at the heart of American—Western?—society can’t be satiated with shinier toys and tastier brunches. An overemphasis on production could, of course, be as fatal as an overemphasis on consumption, and certainly the realm of the meritocrats gives enough cause to worry on this score. But as a matter of policy—as a means of not just sustaining our fellow citizen in times of want but of helping him feel needed and essential in his family and community life—Cass’s redefinition of “efficiency” to include not just its economic sense but some measure of social stability and human flourishing is welcome. Frankly, it’s past due as a tenet of mainstream conservatism.
Cass goes astray by offering governmental “solutions”; for example:
Cass suggests replacing the current Earned Income Tax Credit (along with some related safety net programs) with a direct wage subsidy, which would be paid to workers by the government to “top off” their current wage. In lieu of a minimum wage, the government would set a “target wage” of, say, $12 an hour. If an employee received $9 an hour from his employer, the government would step up to fill in that $3 an hour gap.
That’s no solution at all, inasmuch as the cost of a subsidy must be borne by someone. The someone, ultimately, is the low-wage worker whose wage is low because he is less productive than he would be. Why is he less productive? Because the high-income person who is taxed for the subsidy has that much less money to invest in business capital that raises productivity.
The real problem is that America — and the West, generally — has turned into a spiritual and cultural wasteland. See, for example, “A Century of Progress?“, “Prosperity Isn’t Everything“, and “James Burnham’s Misplaced Optimism“.
In “Preemptive (Cold) Civil War” (03/18/18) I recommended treating Google et al. as state actors to enforce the free-speech guarantee of the First Amendment against them:
The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. (Article V.)
Amendment I to the Constitution says that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech”.
Major entities in the telecommunications, news, entertainment, and education industries have exerted their power to suppress speech because of its content…. The collective actions of these entities — many of them government- licensed and government-funded — effectively constitute a governmental violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech (See Smith v. Allwright, 321 U.S. 649 (1944) and Marsh v. Alabama, 326 U.S. 501 (1946).)
I recommended presidential action. But someone has moved the issue to the courts. Tucker Higgins has the story:
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that could determine whether users can challenge social media companies on free speech grounds.
The case, Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck, No. 17-702, centers on whether a private operator of a public access television network is considered a state actor, which can be sued for First Amendment violations.
The case could have broader implications for social media and other media outlets. In particular, a broad ruling from the high court could open the country’s largest technology companies up to First Amendment lawsuits.
That could shape the ability of companies like Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet’s Google to control the content on their platforms as lawmakers clamor for more regulation and activists on the left and right spar over issues related to censorship and harassment.
The Supreme Court accepted the case on [October 12]….
the court of Chief Justice John Roberts has shown a distinct preference for speech cases that concern conservative ideology, according to an empirical analysis conducted by researchers affiliated with Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Michigan.
The analysis found that the justices on the court appointed by Republican presidents sided with conservative speech nearly 70 percent of the time.
“More than any other modern Court, the Roberts Court has trained its sights on speech promoting conservative values,” the authors found.
Babette Francis and John Ballantine tell it like it is:
Dr. Paul McHugh, the University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School and the former psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, explains that “‘sex change’ is biologically impossible.” People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa.
In reality, gender dysphoria is more often than not a passing phase in the lives of certain children. The American Psychological Association’s Handbook of Sexuality and Psychology has revealed that, before the widespread promotion of transgender affirmation, 75 to 95 percent of pre-pubertal children who were uncomfortable or distressed with their biological sex eventually outgrew that distress. Dr. McHugh says: “At Johns Hopkins, after pioneering sex-change surgery, we demonstrated that the practice brought no important benefits. As a result, we stopped offering that form of treatment in the 1970s.”…
However, in today’s climate of political correctness, it is more than a health professional’s career is worth to offer a gender-confused patient an alternative to pursuing sex-reassignment. In some states, as Dr. McHugh has noted, “a doctor who would look into the psychological history of a transgendered boy or girl in search of a resolvable conflict could lose his or her license to practice medicine.”
In the space of a few years, these sorts of severe legal prohibitions—usually known as “anti-reparative” and “anti-conversion” laws—have spread to many more jurisdictions, not only across the United States, but also in Canada, Britain, and Australia. Transgender ideology, it appears, brooks no opposition from any quarter….
… Brown University succumbed to political pressure when it cancelled authorization of a news story of a recent study by one of its assistant professors of public health, Lisa Littman, on “rapid-onset gender dysphoria.” Science Daily reported:
Among the noteworthy patterns Littman found in the survey data: twenty-one percent of parents reported their child had one or more friends who become transgender-identified at around the same time; twenty percent reported an increase in their child’s social media use around the same time as experiencing gender dysphoria symptoms; and forty-five percent reported both.
A former dean of Harvard Medical School, Professor Jeffrey S. Flier, MD, defended Dr. Littman’s freedom to publish her research and criticized Brown University for censoring it. He said:
Increasingly, research on politically charged topics is subject to indiscriminate attack on social media, which in turn can pressure school administrators to subvert established norms regarding the protection of free academic inquiry. What’s needed is a campaign to mobilize the academic community to protect our ability to conduct and communicate such research, whether or not the methods and conclusions provoke controversy or even outrage.
The examples described above of the ongoing intimidation—sometimes, actual sackings—of doctors and academics who question transgender dogma represent only a small part of a very sinister assault on the independence of the medical profession from political interference. Dr. Whitehall recently reflected: “In fifty years of medicine, I have not witnessed such reluctance to express an opinion among my colleagues.”
For more about this outrage see “The Transgender Fad and Its Consequences“.
Are Americans really in the midst of Civil War II or a Cold Civil War? It has seemed that way for many years. I have written about it in “A New (Cold) Civil War or Secession?”, “The Culture War“, “Polarization and De-facto Partition“, and “Civil War?“.* Andrew Sullivan, whom I quit following several years ago for reasons that are evident in the following quotation (my irrepressible comments are in boldface and bracketed), has some provocative things to say about the situation:
Certain truths about human beings have never changed. We are tribal creatures in our very DNA; we have an instinctive preference for our own over others, for “in-groups” over “out-groups”; for hunter-gatherers, recognizing strangers as threats was a matter of life and death. We also invent myths and stories to give meaning to our common lives. Among those myths is the nation — stretching from the past into the future, providing meaning to our common lives in a way nothing else can. Strip those narratives away, or transform them too quickly, and humans will become disoriented. Most of us respond to radical changes in our lives, especially changes we haven’t chosen, with more fear than hope. We can numb the pain with legal cannabis or opioids, but it is pain nonetheless.
If we ignore these deeper facts about ourselves, we run the risk of fatal errors. It’s vital to remember that multicultural, multiracial, post-national societies are extremely new for the human species [but they are not “societies”], and keeping them viable and stable is a massive challenge. Globally, social trust is highest in the homogeneous Nordic countries, and in America, Pew has found it higher in rural areas than cities. The political scientist Robert Putnam has found that “people living in ethnically diverse settings appear to ‘hunker down,’ that is, to pull in like a turtle.” Not very encouraging about human nature — but something we can’t wish away, either. In fact, the American elite’s dismissal of these truths, its reduction of all resistance to cultural and demographic change as crude “racism” or “xenophobia,” only deepens the sense of siege many other Americans feel….
… Within the space of 50 years, America has gone from segregation to dizzying multiculturalism; … from homosexuality as a sin [or dangerous aberration] to homophobia as a taboo; from Christianity being the common culture to a secularism no society has ever sustained before ours [but mainly within the confines of the internet-media-academic complex, except where they have successfully enlisted government in the task of destroying social norms]….
And how can you seriously regard our political system and culture as worse than ever before in history? How self-centered do you have to be to dismiss the unprecedented freedom for women, racial minorities, and homosexuals? [How self-centered to you have to be to dismiss the fact that much of that “unprecedented freedom” has been bought at the expense of freedom of speech, freedom of association, property rights, and advancement based on merit — things that are at the very heart of liberty?]….
If the neo-reactionaries were entirely right, the collapse of our society would surely have happened long before now [Strawman alert: How does Sullivan know when “society” would have collapsed?]. But somehow, an historically unprecedented mix of races and cultures hasn’t led to civil war in the United States. [Not a shooting war, but a kind of civil war nevertheless.] … America has assimilated so many before, its culture churning into new forms, without crashing into incoherence. [Strawman alert 2: “America”, note being a “society”, doesn’t have a “culture”. But some “cultures” (e.g., welfare-dependency, “hate whitey”, drugs, political correctness) are ascendant, for those with eyes to see.] [“The Reactionary Temptation“, New York, April 30, 2017]
All in all, I would say that Mr. Sullivan protests too much. He protests so much that he confirms my view that America is smack in the middle of a Cold Civil War. (Despite that, and the fatuousness of Mr. Sullivan’s commentary, I am grateful to him for a clear explanation of the political philosophy of Leo Strauss,** the theme of which had heretofore been obscure to me.)
For other, more realistic views of the current state of affairs, see the following (listed in chronological order):
David French, “A Blue State ‘Secession’ Model I Can Get Behind” (National Review, March 19, 2017)
Daniel Greenfield, “The Civil War Is Here” (Frontpage Magazine, March 27, 2017)
Daniel Greenfield, “Winning the Civil War of Two Americas” (Frontpage Magazine, April 4, 2017)
Rick Moran, “War Between U.S. Government and Sanctuary Cities Heating Up” (American Thinker, April 10, 2017)
Angelo M. Codevilla, “The Cold Civil War” (Claremont Review of Books, April 25, 2017)
Paul Kingsworth reviews Michael Harris’s Solitude in “The End of Solitude: In a Hyperconnected World, Are We Losing the Art of Being Alone?” (New Statesman, April 26, 2017):
Harris has an intuition that being alone with ourselves, paying attention to inner silence and being able to experience outer silence, is an essential part of being human….
What happens when that calm separateness is destroyed by the internet of everything, by big-city living, by the relentless compulsion to be with others, in touch, all the time? Plenty of people know the answer already, or would do if they were paying attention to the question. Nearly half of all Americans, Harris tells us, now sleep with their smartphones on their bedside table, and 80 per cent are on their phone within 15 minutes of waking up. Three-quarters of adults use social networking sites regularly. But this is peanuts compared to the galloping development of the so-called Internet of Things. Within the next few years, anything from 30 to 50 billion objects, from cars to shirts to bottles of shampoo, will be connected to the net. The internet will be all around you, whether you want it or not, and you will be caught in its mesh like a fly. It’s not called the web for nothing….
What is the problem here? Why does this bother me, and why does it bother Harris? The answer is that all of these things intrude upon, and threaten to destroy, something ancient and hard to define, which is also the source of much of our creativity and the essence of our humanity. “Solitude,” Harris writes, “is a resource.” He likens it to an ecological niche, within which grow new ideas, an understanding of the self and therefore an understanding of others.
The book is full of examples of the genius that springs from silent and solitary moments. Beethoven, Dostoevsky, Kafka, Einstein, Newton – all developed their ideas and approach by withdrawing from the crowd….
Yet it is not only geniuses who have a problem: ordinary minds like yours and mine are threatened by the hypersocial nature of always-on urbanity….
So, what is to be done about all this? That’s the multibillion-dollar question, but it is one the book cannot answer. Harris spends many pages putting together a case for the importance of solitude and examining the forces that splinter it today….
Under the circumstances – and these are our circumstances – the only honest conclusion to draw is that the problem, which is caused primarily by the technological direction of our society, is going to get worse. There is no credible scenario in which we can continue in the same direction and not see the problem of solitude, or lack of it, continue to deepen….
… Short of a collapse so severe that the electricity goes off permanently, there is no escape from what the tech corporations and their tame hive mind have planned for us. The circle is closed, and the net is being hauled in. May as well play another round of Candy Crush while we wait to be dragged up on to the deck.
Well, the answer doesn’t lie in the kind of defeatism exemplified by Harris (whose book is evidently full of diagnosis and empty of remedy) or Kingsworth. It’s up to each person to decide whether or not to enlarge his scope of solitude or be defeated by the advance of technology and the breakdown of truly human connections.
But it’s not an all-or-nothing choice. Compromise is obviously necessary when it comes to making a living these days. That still leaves a lot of room for the practice of solitude, the practice and benefits of which I have addressed in “Flow“, “In Praise of Solitude“, “There’s Always Solitude“, and “The Glory of the Human Mind“.
Is the transgender fad fading away, or is it just that I’m spending more time in solitude? Anyway, is was reminded of the fad by “Most Children Who Identify As Transgender Are Faking It, Says ‘Gender Clinic’ Psychiatrist” (The College Fix, April 17, 2017). It’s a brief post and the title tells the tale. So I’ll turn to my own post on the subject, “The Transgender Fad and Its Consequences“. Following a preamble and some long quotations from authoritative analysis of transgenderism, I continue with this:
Harm will come not only to those who fall prey to the transgender delusion, but also to those who oppose its inevitable manifestations:
- mandatory sex mingling in bathrooms, locker rooms, and dorm rooms — an invitation to predators and a further weakening of the norms of propriety that help to instill respect toward other persons
- quotas for hiring self-described transgender persons, and for admitting them to universities, and for putting them in the ranks of police and armed forces, etc.
- government-imposed penalties for saying “hateful and discriminatory” things about gender, the purpose of which will be to stifle dissent about the preceding matters
- government-imposed penalties for attempts to exercise freedom of association, which is an unenumerated right under the Constitution that, properly understood, includes the right to refuse business from anyone at any time and for any reason (including but far from limited to refusing to serve drug-addled drag queens whose presence will repel other customers)….
How did America get from the pre-Kinsey view of sex as a private matter, kept that way by long-standing social norms, to the let-it-all-hang-out (literally) mentality being pushed by elites in the media, academy, and government?
I attribute much of it to the capitalist paradox. Capitalism — a misnomer for an economic system that relies mainly on free markets and private-property rights — encourages innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth. One result is that a “capitalist” economy eventually produces enough output to support large numbers of persons who don’t understand that living off the system and regulating it heavily will bring it down….
The social paradox is analogous to the capitalist paradox. Social relations are enriched and made more productive by the toleration of some new behaviors. But to ensure that a new behavior is enriching and productive, it must be tested in the acid of use.* Shortcuts — activism cloaked in academese, punditry, and political posturing — lead to the breakdown of the processes by which behaviors become accepted because they are enriching and productive.
In sum, the capitalist paradox breeds the very people who are responsible for the social paradox: those who are rich enough to be insulated from the vicissitudes of daily life, where living among and conversing with similar folk reinforces a distorted view of the real world.
It is the cossetted beneficiaries of capitalism who lead the way in forcing Americans to accept as “natural” and “of right” behavior that in saner times was rarely engaged in and even more rarely flaunted. That restraint wasn’t just a matter of prudery. It was a matter of two things: respect for others, and the preservation of norms that foster restraint.
How quaint. Avoiding offense to others, and teaching one’s children that normal behavior helps them to gain the acceptance and trust of others. Underlying those understood motivations was a deeper one: Children are susceptible creatures, easily gulled and led astray — led into making mistakes that will haunt them all their lives. There was, in those days, an understanding that “one thing leads to another.”…
… If the Kennedy Court of Social Upheaval continues to hold sway, its next “logical” steps will be to declare the illegality of sexual identifiers and the prima facie qualification of any person for any job regardless of “its” mental and physical fitness for the job….
… [T[he parents of yesteryear didn’t have to worry about the transgender fad, but they did have to worry about drinking, drug-taking, and sex. Not everyone who “experimented” with those things went on to live a life of dissolution, shame, and regret. But many did. And so, too, will the many young children, adolescents, and young adults who succumb to the fad of transgenderism….
When did it all begin to go wrong? See “1963: The Year Zero.”
Thank you for working your way through this very long quotation from my own blog. But it just has to be said again and again: Transgenderism is a fad, a destructive fad, and a fad that is being used by the enemies of liberty to destroy what little of it is left in America.
Kurt Schlichter quite rightly says that “Academia Is Our Enemy So We Should Help It Commit Suicide“:
If Animal House were to be rebooted today, Bluto – who would probably be updated into a differently–abled trans being of heft – might ask, “See if you can guess what am I now?” before expelling a whole mass of pus-like root vegetable on the WASPrivileged villains and announcing, “I’m a university – get it?”
At least popping a zit gets rid of the infection and promotes healing. But today, the higher education racket festers on the rear end of our culture, a painful, useless carbuncle of intellectual fraud, moral bankruptcy, and pernicious liberal fascism that impoverishes the young while it subsidizes a bunch of old pinkos who can’t hack it at Real World U….
If traditional colleges performed some meaningful function that only they could perform, then there might be a rationale for them in the 21st Century. But there’s not. What do four-year colleges do today?
Well, they cater to weenies who feel “unsafe” that Mike Pence is speaking to their graduates. Seventy-some years ago, young people that age were feeling unsafe because the Wehrmacht was trying to kill them on Omaha Beach….
And in their quest to ensure their students’ perpetual unemployment, colleges are now teaching that punctuality is a social construct. Somewhere, a Starbucks manager is going to hear from Kaden the Barista that, “I like, totally couldn’t get here for my shift on time because, like intersectionality of my experience as a person of Scandinavianism and stuff. I feel unsafe because of your racist vikingaphobia and tardiness-shaming.”
Academia is pricing itself out of reach even as the antics of its inhabitants annoy and provoke those of us whose taxes already pick up a big chunk of the bill even without the “free college” okie-doke….
The quarter million dollar academic vacation model is economically unsustainable and poisonous to our culture. The world of Animal House was a lot more fun when it didn’t mean preemptive bankruptcy for its graduates and the fostering of a tyrannical training ground for future libfascists. It’s time to get all Bluto on the obsolete boil that is academia; time to give it a squeeze. [Townhall, April 13, 2017]
Cue my post, “Subsidizing the Enemies of Liberty“:
If there is a professional class that is almost solidly aligned against liberty it is the teachers and administrators who control the ideas that are pumped into the minds of students from kindergarten through graduate school. How are they aligned against liberty? Most of them are leftists, which means that they are statists who are dedicated to the suppression of liberty in favor of current left-wing orthodoxies. These almost always include the coddling of criminals, unrequited love for America’s enemies, redistribution of income and jobs toward less-productive (and non-productive) persons, restrictions on speech, and the destruction of civil society’s bulwarks: religion, marriage, and family.
In any event, spending on education in the United States amounted to $1.1 trillion in 2010, about 8 percent of GDP. Most of that $1.1 trillion — $900 billion, in fact — was spent on public elementary and secondary schools and public colleges and universities. In other words, your tax dollars support the leftists who teach your children and grandchildren to bow at the altar of the state, to placate the enemies of liberty at home and abroad, and to tear down the traditions that have bound people in mutual trust and respect….
And what do tax-paying Americans get for their money? A strong left-wing bias, which is inculcated at universities and spreads throughout public schools (and a lot of private schools). This has been going on, in earnest, since the end of World War II. And, yet, the populace is roughly divided between hard-headed conservatives and squishy-minded “liberals.” The persistence of the divide speaks well for the dominance of nature over nurture. But it does not change the fact that American taxpayers have been subsidizing the enemies of liberty who dominate the so-called education system in this country.
The third entry in “Not-So-Random Thoughts (XVIII)” is about illegal immigration. It opens with this:
Ten years ago, I posted “An Immigration Roundup”, a collection of 13 posts dated March 29 through September 22, 2006. The bottom line: to encourage and allow rampant illegal immigration borders on social and economic suicide. I remain a hardliner because of the higher crime rate among Hispanics (“Immigration and Crime“), and because of Steven Camarota’s “So What Is the Fiscal and Economic Impact of Immigration?“ [National Review, September 22, 2016].
I suggest that you go to Camarota’s article, which I quote at length, to see the evidence that he has compiled. For more facts — as opposed to leftish magical thinking about immigration — see also “Welfare: Who’s on It, Who’s Not” (Truth Is Justice, April 16, 2017), which draws on
a report called “Welfare Use by Immigrant and Native Households.” The report’s principle finding is that fully 51 percent of immigrant households receive some form of welfare, compared to an already worrisomely high 30 percent of American native households. The study is based on the most accurate data available, the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). It also reports stark racial differences in the use of welfare programs.
I’ll throw in some excerpts:
Needless to say, the percentage of immigrants using some form of welfare varies enormously according to the part of the world from which they come. Rates are highest for households from Central America and Mexico (73 percent), the Caribbean (51 percent), and Africa (48 percent). Those from East Asia (32 percent), Europe (26 percent), and South Asia (17 percent) have the lowest rates….
A majority of native black and Hispanic households are on some form of means-tested welfare, compared to just 23 percent of native white households….
A striking 82 percent of black households with children receive welfare–double the white rate. Hispanic families are not far behind blacks….
Among natives, blacks receive cash handouts at more than three times the white rate; Hispanics at more than twice the white rate. Rates for black and Hispanic immigrants are relatively lower due to often-ignored restrictions on immigrant use of these programs….
Among all households, native blacks and Hispanics receive food handouts at three times the white rate; for Hispanic immigrants, the figure is four times the white rate. Among households with children, nearly all immigrant Hispanics–86 percent–get food aid. Native blacks and Hispanics aren’t far behind, with rates of 75 and 72 percent, respectively.
The takeaway: Tax-paying citizens already heavily subsidize native-born blacks and Hispanics. Adding welfare-dependent immigrants — especially from south of the border — adds injury to injury.
As long as the welfare state exists, immigration should be tightly controlled so that the United States admits only those persons (with their families) who have verifiable offers of employment from employers in the United States. Further, an immigrant’s income should be high enough to ensure that (a) he is unlikely to become dependent on any welfare program (federal, State, or local) and (b) he is likely to pay at least as much in taxes as he is likely to absorb in the way of schooling for his children, Social Security and Medicare benefits, etc.
(See also: Bob le Flambeur, “Against Open Borders“, Rightly Considered, February 8, 2017.)
* Sharp-eyed readers will notice that with this post I am adopting a “new” way of using quotation marks. The American convention is to enclose commas and periods within quotation marks, even where the commas and periods are not part of the quoted text or other material that belongs inside quotation marks (e.g., the title of a post). The American convention creates some ambiguity and awkwardness that is avoided by the British convention, which is to enclose inside quotation marks only that punctuation which is part of the quoted text or other material.
** This is from the article by Sullivan cited in the first section of this post:
[Leo] Strauss’s idiosyncratic genius defies easy characterization, but you could argue, as Mark Lilla did in his recent book The Shipwrecked Mind, that he was a reactionary in one specific sense: A Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, Strauss viewed modernity as collapsing into nihilism and relativism and barbarism all around him. His response was to go back to the distant past — to the works of Plato, Aristotle, and Maimonides, among others — to see where the West went wrong, and how we could avoid the horrific crimes of the 20th century in the future.
One answer was America, where Strauss eventually found his home at the University of Chicago. Some of his disciples — in particular, the late professor Harry Jaffa — saw the American Declaration of Independence, with its assertion of the self-evident truth of the equality of human beings, as a civilizational high point in human self-understanding and political achievement. They believed it revived the ancient Greek and Roman conception of natural law. Yes, they saw the paradox of a testament to human freedom having been built on its opposite — slavery — but once the post–Civil War constitutional amendments were ratified, they believed that the American constitutional order was effectively set forever, and that the limited government that existed in the late-19th and early-20th centuries required no fundamental change.
If you’re old enough to fight, you’re old enough to vote.
An 18-year-old is strong and full of energy — just what a foot-soldier should be. An 18-year old is impetuous and usually has little in the way of income, property, or investments to protect — just what a voter should not be. (Voting should be restricted to persons aged 30 or older who have income, property, and investments to protect.)
It’s okay to (insert crime or egregious behavior here) because others have done the same thing.
This is an attempt to absolve a person or group favored by the speaker or writer. By the same logic, the favored person or group could be absolved of murder. This kind of “logic” is often used to excuse the behavior of politicians (e.g., Hillary Clinton) and to justify reverse discrimination (e.g., “Whites got away with X, so it’s okay for blacks to do X.”)
Abortion should be allowed until X weeks, when a fetus becomes viable.
If the certainty of survival determines whether a human being should live or die, the human race should be exterminated because everyone is doomed to die eventually.
The death penalty doesn’t deter murder and should therefore be abolished.
It is because of such sentiments that the death penalty is no longer a common or certain punishment for murder, and therefore less of a deterrent than it used to be. Moreover, the death penalty is properly justified as a punishment. Its deterrent effect is secondary.
The death penalty is barbaric and should be abolished.
Murder is barbaric, and murderers should be executed so that they can’t murder again. And if potential murderers get the message, so much the better.
It is far more costly to enforce the death penalty than it is to keep a murderer in prison.
That’s because the cringing opponents of the death penalty have made it costly to enforce.
“Migrants” (the PC term for illegal immigrants) are human beings, and should be allowed to enter our country freely.
It’s true that illegal immigrants are human beings. The real question is whether immigration law should be changed by Congress (and not by executive fiat). By the “logic” of those who favor unlimited immigration, murderers (who are human beings, after all) should be allowed to murder with impunity.
Borders are arbitrary and shouldn’t restrict the movement of people who want to better themselves.
That’s okay if you know whether everyone who’s crossing a border is doing so to better himself — and not at the government-enforced expense of others. And if borders are arbitrary, why should you call the police if someone trespasses on your property and steals from you?
The “rich” should pay their fair share of taxes.
A person who says this is ignorant of the fact that the “rich” (i.e., those who earn high incomes) pay an overwhelming share of taxes. And he probably doesn’t consider himself to be among the “rich,” who are “those people” who earn more than he does.
I’m “rich,” and my taxes aren’t high enough.
The government accepts voluntary contributions. What you probably mean is that the government should raise taxes on the “rich,” presumably to give more money to the “poor.” Which suggests that you’re not rich because you’re smart. If you were smart, you’d know that government keeps a big chunk of taxes to pay above-market salaries to government workers and contractors. The poor would be better off if you and like-minded “rich” persons just sent your emissaries among the “poor” and handed out money. Or perhaps you don’t understand that the money which you spend and invest creates jobs that help to lift up the “poor” and end their dependency. Self-reliance is to be nurtured by job creation, not discouraged by handouts. But, as I said, you’re probably among the dumb “rich” — if not among the guilt-ridden (for no reason) or emotionally addled (i.e., functionally dumb) “rich.”
I like politician X because he’s becoming more popular.
That’ the implicit reasoning behind the bandwagon effect. For example, some people go from “undecided” between X and Y to “favor X over Y,” and it shows up in the polls. This leads the wishy-washy — bereft of principle and wanting to be on the right side of a trend — to join the movement toward X. And because of that more of the wishy-washy join the movement. And so on. The wishy-washy don’t necessarily prefer X and Y for an ascertainable reason, they just like to be on the winning side.
Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
Sorry, but as much as I favor an almost-unlimited right to bear arms,* I can’t swallow that one whole. Unless you’re a witch or wizard, you can’t kill a person by pointing a finger at him. Guns do (often) kill people when people with guns point them (or not) and pull the trigger. And I daresay that most of the killings are intentional. Further, it’s likely that there would be fewer murders (though probably more crimes, overall) if there were fewer guns around. It’s psychologically and physically easier to kill someone with a gun than with a knife, a baseball bat, a garrotte, or bare hands. But even if guns were outlawed, I — like millions of other Americans who own unregistered weapons — wouldn’t give up my gun. Technically, that would make outlaws of me and the other millions, thus validating the motto “If guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns.” But we would hold onto our guns to protect ourselves from the real outlaws — those who use guns to harm, rob, and coerce others.
* I draw the line at persons who have been convicted of felonies against persons and property, loonies, idiots, and minors. I don’t draw the line at type of weapon — anything goes.
People who oppose preferences for blacks (e.g., unmerited job offers and university admissions for the sake of “diversity”) are racist; people who oppose homosexual “marriage” and preferences for homosexuals are homophobic; and people who disagree with politically correct positions, such as preferences for blacks and homosexuals, are hateful.
All such statements are cheap rhetorical tricks, played by people who don’t want to confront the real issues; for example:
- the harm done to non-blacks and homosexuals (and members of those groups, as well) by preferential treatment
- the harm done to traditional marriage by the state’s encouragement of nontraditional marriage
- the predictable harm to property rights, freedom of association, freedom of speech, and the rights of non-preferred groups that follows inevitably from preferential treatment for any preferred group
- the harm done to civilizing social norms by the disparagement of traditional norms, such as heterosexual marriage and advancement based on merit.
But blacks, homosexuals, etc., are victims.
So, it’s all right to victimize whites, Asians, heterosexuals, etc., but not blacks, homosexuals, etc. (For the tone-deaf, that’s a rhetorical statement, not a claim.)
Libertarian purists (e.g., Donald Boudreaux and Bryan Caplan) like to criticize the critics of illegal immigration. In the minds of libertarian purists, national borders are merely statist concoctions. It is anathema to them that the United States exists primarily for the purpose of protecting its citizens and their liberty rights. (Well, it did exist for that purpose originally and for a long time, and it still does to some extent.) Libertarian purists seem to believe that, somehow, defense would be unnecessary and rights would be enforced even if the United States did not exist as a coherent, delimited entity. Good luck with that!
In any event, libertarian purists like to criticize those critics of illegal immigration who claim that (1) the lure of welfare benefits draws illegal immigrants and (2) illegal immigrants add to the burden on tax-paying Americans. My research into those issues may be out of date, so I might decide to update my old findings (contrary to an earlier suggestion that I would drop the subject). For the time being, I am content to note the following:
More to come, perhaps.