The lie of “immigration reform”

The lie is the assumption that, once current illegals get their legalization, pro-immigrant activists in both parties will continue to support the second half of the bargain, the increased security.

The chaos in Texas shows they won’t. Faced with a clear hole in the border – with a wave of tens of thousands of undocumented Central Americans crossing into the U.S. in order to get in line for hearings years from now, which they likely won’t attend while they continue to live here – pro-reform activists have scrambled, not to show their border security bona fides, but to generate arguments and outbursts designed to let the new wave stay. — Lie at Heart of “Immigration Reform” Exposed

Many reformers do not really want to stop illegal immigration. They want illegal immigrants, because their business plans rely on illegal immigrants. Legal residents would not do the work unless their employers paid what they would have to pay legal residents to do the same work.

And let me add, if your business plan is predicated on hiring illegals, that’s not good business; that’s organized crime, whether you’re a fruit grower, a restaurant owner, or a non-profit.


“…he very often laid the foundations of his fortune in a very curious and poetical way, the nature of which I have never fully understood. It consisted in his walking about the street without a hat and going up to another man and saying, “Suppose I have two hundred whales out of the North Sea.” To which the other man replied, “And let us imagine that I am in possession of two thousand elephants’ tusks.” They then exchange, and the first man goes up to a third man and says, “Supposing me to have lately come into the possession of two thousand elephants’ tusks, would you, etc.?” If you play this game well, you become very rich; if you play it badly you have to kill yourself or try your luck at the Bar.” — Eugenics and Other Evils, by G. K. Chesterton


A business plan that requires illegal immigrants is simply organized crime.

“More than 50 million working age Americans are either officially unemployed or not working, but George W. Bush’s former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez says amnesty and significant increase in legal immigration are needed because businesses can’t find suitable employees.” — Despite 50 Million Americans Out Of Work…

These business plans should be non-viable. Fortunately for these legitimate businessmen, we have the leadership of two political parties and several important non-profit corporations working hard to get them cheap labor. That’s just one example of our meritocracy’s approach to governance that’s helped make America what it is today.

It’s not the economy, stupid

Someone says “The thing about an increasingly childless economy is that it has major implications for consumption.”

No, that childlessness has economic implications is not the thing. That our economy, society, and culture in their present state discourage people from having children, that is the thing. Moreover, the habit of mind that casts a shortage of children as “an increasingly childless economy” is part of the reason so few people are having so few children.

Labor force participation

The labor force participation rate is way down. Fewer people of working age are working or looking for work than were in 1979. This has to be taken into account when looking at the unemployment rate. If as many people as were working in 2008 were looking for work now, the unemployment rate would be far higher. Some have retired; some have gone on disability; some are getting paid under the table; some are raising their children.

But what exactly is the labor force participation rate supposed to be, 60%, or 90%, and why? I remember the seventies. Moving from an economy in which industrial jobs supported middle class families, to an economy in which whatever men and women are left in the middle class work one or two ill-paid service jobs and rely on the earned income credit or other government assistance? That has been a lousy deal for everyone but the HR managers. It’s not clear to me that fewer, better-paid jobs is a bad idea, especially if those jobs encourage middle class families to form and thrive. Maybe we should ask the feminists and social scientists what they recommend, and then do the opposite.

The poor

There should not be any in America, and yet there are. It’s almost as if poverty is built into the human condition.

“According to a Cato Institute study published last year, the combined expenditures for federal and state governments directed to means-tested public assistance – ‘welfare’ – is approximately $1 trillion (yes, with a ‘T’) a year.

“There are approximately 48 million people in the U.S. with incomes at the poverty level or below.

“The application of advanced mathematics – long division, and I did it in my head thank you very much – tells us that’s about $21,000 per person per year. Obviously, that’s $84,000 for a family of four.

“That’s got a problem, though. According to the 2013 Federal Poverty Guidelines, the poverty level for a family of four is $23,950. The total of $84,000 is roughly 380 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

“Obviously, there’s no poverty left in America.

“Unless, of course, that money isn’t actually being spent on the poor people at all. I wonder where it goes?” — The End of Poverty in America, by Charlie Martin

The money isn’t be being spent on the poor, but it is being spent to prevent poverty; some people’s poverty, anyway. The bureaucrats who administer the anti-poverty programs are themselves the objects. Their jobs coordinating one of the hundreds of jobs programs is itself a jobs program. That’s not sarcasm or hyperbole. Really, there isn’t any other place for them, and they won’t be allowed to live in the condition they would end up in if not for that government job.

They have no marketable skill, and at 45 they can’t now learn anything that will earn them a middle class living. If that seems unkind or offensive, express it this way: the private economy has no place for them. Firing them en mass won’t unleash a bounty of entrepreneurship, as the former grant administration compliance auditor pushes his own weenie cart, selling dogs to the former diversity coordination outreach specialist who now builds houses. Though maybe tearing down empty houses would be a better business model today.

No responsible member of the establishment can say this. It’s intrinsic to the program that the truth can’t be told about it. It’s not even really a “program” as such, it’s just the way things have (d)evolved over that last fifty years as every politician, well meaning activist, and individual has rationally pursued his self-interest. But people do come to see the result, including those people employed at what is really busy-work.

Transferring yet more money from whatever is left of the private sector to public sector bureaucrats, ostensibly for the poor, won’t help the poor, and will harm everyone. There really is no political solution to this, but if Democrats and Republicans will sit down together with all the stake-holders and craft a plan to address the problems facing us today, I’m sure they’ll make the government a bit bigger.

UPDATE 8 December 2013: The Pergelator has some related thoughts, on Automatic Welfare. As I was writing I thought about how science fiction in the 50s looked at the consequences of productivity and what would happen when a couple of guys and a robotic factory did about everything that really needed to be done. I wonder if wars in the future will be fought not over resources, but consumers.


This time it will work

“Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says he plans to extend price controls to all consumer goods, if he is given powers to govern by decree.”

Yes, no doubt that will work. Soon there will be plenty for all in Venezuela. I mean, it never has worked before in human history, but this time for sure.

“His announcement followed the seizure on Saturday of shops accused of selling electronic goods at inflated prices.”

I guess he just loves the poor. That must be why his policies are set to impoverish people.

In totally unrelated news, the US is now the world’s top oil producer.

The Seller of Images

“You have to ask yourself why people would sell Bitcoin generators? Why don’t they just use the generators themselves to find more Bitcoins? Because it consistently costs more than a dollar to mine a dollar’s worth of Bitcoins, that’s why and the comparison to gold falls apart.” — I have my doubts about Bitcoin

That’s probably true, but here’s Aesop’s fable, The Seller of Images:

A certain man made a wooden image of Mercury and offered it for sale. When no one appeared willing to buy it, in order to attract purchasers, he cried out that he had the statue to sell of a benefactor who bestowed wealth and helped to heap up riches. One of the bystanders said to him, “My good fellow, why do you sell him, being such a one as you describe, when you may yourself enjoy the good things he has to give?” “Why,” he replied, “I am in need of immediate help, and he is wont to give his good gifts very slowly.”

My view on Bitcoin is that if it does what its supporters say, every government on the planet will crush it. Which reminds me of another story:

The man and the economist

An engineer and an economist were out walking and came to a narrow part of the road. The economist stepped forward, and the engineer walked on behind him. Suddenly the engineer spied a a twenty dollar bill on the ground, and immediately bent down and took it. “Didn’t you see that twenty?” he asked his companion. “Oh I saw it,” said the economist. “But I reasoned that if it were really there someone would already have picked it up.”

The moral is, it’s better to understand economics than to know economics.

UPDATE 3 October 2012: added a missing word.

They love the poor

The corporations supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants have laid off tens of thousands of workers over the last few years. The corporations’ behavior is at least rational. They want to pay less for workers. You could say they misunderstand the preferential option for the poor: they’d prefer to have more poor people. But then Catholic Social Doctrine probably isn’t a required course for a degree in business administration. Those people are training to be HR bosses, not clergymen.