Americans can either preserve economic growth via massive immigration or cut immigration and become another aging and ailing Japan, says the Washington Post’s (WaPo) op-ed editor, Fred Hiatt.
The WaPo claims:
Those who favor a drastic, absolute drop in the level of immigration, as many Republicans do, would be making a choice about America’s future.
They would be turning us into Japan …
But America is a land of choices, and there are at least 6,749 policy options between America’s high-immigration economy and Japan’s low-immigration society.
The core either/or choice is very different: it is whether America’s immigration policy should be run for the benefit of the establishment — or for the benefit of ordinary Americans, the wage earners, the parents, and children who are the “our Posterity” cited in the preamble of the Constitution:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The Washington Post op-ed explained its either/or declaration by claiming that foreigners help grow Americans’ workforce, economy, and innovation.
Japan is a pioneer and an extreme version of where much of the First World is headed as longevity increases and fertility declines. The likely consequences are slower economic growth, reduced innovation, labor shortages and huge pressure on pensions ..
America still attracts dynamic, hard-working people from around the world, and they and their offspring help keep our population and our economy growing, as recent Pew Research Center and International Monetary Fund papers explain …
Nearly half (48 percent) of immigrants these days have college degrees …
Here’s the bottom line: I think we should remain open to immigrants because it’s part of who we are as a nation, because every generation of newcomers — even, or maybe especially, the ones who come with nothing but moxie and a tolerance for risk — has enriched and improved us …
A vote to choke off immigration is a vote for stagnation and decline.
Spitballing here, maybe instead of turning immigration down to Japan’s low level, Americans could just import fewer and better immigrants? Hiatt admits only 48 percent of adult immigrants have degrees. Why not make that 75, 80, or 90 percent? Americans could also vet those degrees for quality; exclude bachelors degrees and, instead, recruit postgraduates. Maybe they could accept migrants from stable countries with lots of graduates, instead of from unstable countries which need to keep every graduate they have got.
Why not cut the 52 percent of immigrants without college degrees by half or three quarters? What’s the harm? You think Americans won’t build machines to pick crops, fix roofs, or serve coffee when employee wages start rising?
If you’re worried about a worker shortage, maybe the resulting higher wages would allow more people to manufacture cute little future workers. I hear that many people like the manufacturing process and get some satisfaction from the subsequent 18 years of careful calibration.
As for Americans needing immigrants to avoid stagnation and decline, maybe that claim stereotypes Americans as dullards and America as some kind of, er, hole? I’m sure the WaPo has some sort of fatwa against generalizations.
But there’s a crude political purpose to Hiatt’s crude either/or vision: Block Trump’s pro-American populism, now!
Or as he puts it:
Big, complicated questions — which is why Congress shouldn’t try to solve them all between now and Feb. 8, its self-imposed deadline for resolving the issue of the “dreamers.” In the few days that remain, the best it could do would be to, well, resolve the issue of the dreamers … Give them a path to citizenship, as President Trump has proposed. Give Trump the money for his wall … Punt on the big, complicated questions, something Congress certainly knows how to do.
Yes, Congress does punt, and that is why Americans hired Trump to fix the problem.
Let’s just run through a few facts about Hiatt’s mass immigration policy.
Each year, the United States government brings in one million people, just as four million homegrown Americans turn 18 and enter the workforce. That’s a huge inflow, and, of course, it has a huge, far-reaching, little-understood impact on the United States’ economy and society.
Here is one easy way to understand its civic impact: Americans elected Trump because the voters lost faith in the willingness of Hiatt’s establishment to run a fair-minded immigration policy. If you prefer liberal blather, try this: immigration has so envibrantized our diversified society that our president is a New York real estate tycoon.
Here is another impact: each year, workplace competition between Americans and immigrants (including myself) transfers roughly $500 billion in wealth to Hiatt’s establishment via greater corporate profits and higher Wall Street stock values. Don’t take my word for it; find the little paragraph in the National Academy of Sciences report from 2016, which says that the nation’s immigration policy imposes a stealth 5.2 immigration tax on employees’ income. Tip: you won’t find the 5.2 percent note in the summary released to Hiatt’s peers in the media, and you won’t see it mentioned in your paycheck statement.
So much money is shifted around by mass immigration that the media do not have the professional independence to follow the money. Instead, ordinary Americans face barrages of saccharine agitprop and emotional blackmail: “dreamers,” “Nation of Immigrants,” Lady Liberty, ethnic restaurants — so that few voters understand even the numbers or the money. (Again, every year, four million Americans turn 18, and we get one million new immigrants, as well as a resident army of temporary workers.)
Consider the meatpacking industry. When it was called Cannery Row is the early 1900s, muckrakers exposed the terrible conditions, helped grow unions and wages, and then claimed a place for journalists in the new twentieth-century economy. These days, there are no unions and the meatpacking plants are run on low-wage immigrant labor. Media coverage is light, partly because any scandals would show the less glamorous side of vibrant diversity. Meanwhile, far from the Americans’ labor-intensive slaughterhouses, foreign firms develop labor-saving robot “deboners” for foreign customers. The same process exists in the nation’s dairy farms, where government-provided cheap immigrant labor deters farmers from buying the European-designed cow-milking robots, which are built by Americans in Iowa.
The nation’s medical research sector runs on cheap Chinese post-docs, most of whom are going home to build a rival industry. Much of nation’s low-range computer work is performed by underpaid Indians, not by young Americans. Hospitals import doctors from dirt-poor, disease-ridden countries because the government will not train enough Americans. Washington puts the opioid crisis on the back burner, ignores the decline in technical schools, and shrugs its shoulders at the dearth of workplace training programs because business is happy to import replacement workers via LAX, Dulles Airport, or Miami International.
Or consider education, where the “dreamers” aged 15 to 32 have a four-year college graduation rate around 1.7 percent. No, let’s not go there. The data is too ghastly to reveal to the voters, at least until we all agree on a new set of calibrated euphemisms, hopefully, long before the current wave of non-college immigrants get in line for their promised Social Security and Medicare payments.
Cheap labor and centralized investment mean that high-immigration California now fights high-immigration New York and diverse Mississippi for the least-equal states in the nation. That inequality is worsened because low-skill immigrants drive up everyone’s rents as they crowd into apartments located between their downtown shift-jobs and their suburban clients.
I’ll give Hiatt one meaningless point. He is right to say that immigration grows the economy. That is, however, an empty claim. For example, if the United States today declared Bolivia as the 51st state, yes, our economy would be suddenly larger because the 11 million new Bolivian-Americans would be buying food, lodgings, clothes etc., from the newly Americanized companies in La Paz and other ex-Bolivian cities and towns. So what really matters is whether new immigrants elevate Americans’ existing productivity, per-capita income, and culture — but there is much evidence that low-skilled immigration reduces average productivity, per-capita income, and civic culture.
Back to our Posterity. The government does not exist to maximize federal revenues, nor to provide urban elites with a legion of valets, dishwashers, maids, daycare, and gardeners. The state does not exist to depress Americans’ wages or forcefully diversify their society.
But it does exist to ensure balanced immigration. As the Constitution says, “We the People of the United States … establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
Hiatt’s bipartisan establishment favors the cheap labor/high-immigration economy that it has created. So it won’t even try to fix the problem. That is why Congress is paralyzed by progressives’ demand for more mandatory diversity and by business’s demand for imported consumers and workers.
So let the public speak. There is an election in November. Make it about whether the government should use mass immigration to goose economic growth, inequality, and tax revenues, or whether Americans — including legal immigrants — should take pride of place in reviving their own nation for their own posterity.