Sunday, February 9, 2014

Immigration “Reform”: Middle Class Dying, Progressivism Already Dead

“Immigration reform” is about radically increasing the rate at which foreign nationals are allowed to move into the United States, thus driving wages down and profits up.  When there are 100 people competing for every job, this makes wages fall not rise.  Nobody beats the law of supply and demand.

If it were only about legalizing a few million foreign nationals who are already here, the impact on the US labor market would be negligible.  But that’s a sideshow.  More important is that all newly-legalized illegals will be allowed to send for their relatives back home, and also that the combination of rewarding illegal immigrants, along with the ending of even the pretense of enforcing the law, will cause a tsunami of illegal immigration.  But even that is not the main event.  The main event is the massive expansion of legal immigration across the board: unskilled workers, skilled workers, guest workers, refugees, you name it, in UNLIMITED NUMBERS WITH NO CAPS (Even in those few cases when the law claims that there will be limits, there are so many exemptions that no, there are no limits).  So immediately the billions of desperately poor from all over the world will be invited to come here no questions asked.  If enacted,  ‘immigration reform’ will drive the United States into poverty – real, Bangladesh-style poverty – faster than you can imagine.

According to the US census, without post-1970 immigration the population would have stabilized at about 240 million.  Already this policy has added about 80 million to the population, and is slated to increase it to half a billion by 2050 and still rising rapidly.  This is already faster than you are able to accommodate.  Not faster than you could accommodate if everything was perfect and all politicians were angels and new technologies sprung up like weeds and it rained gumdrops.  It is faster than you CAN accommodate.  ‘Immigration reform’ will push this forced population growth to extreme levels.  And it won’t have a nice outcome.

I am not surprised to see the rich and powerful pushing for this so-called ’reform’, as they have always wanted cheap labor above all else.  The corporate Republicans have also wanted this, needing only an excuse to stab their base in the back.  What is sad is that an overwhelming number of so-called ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives’ have sold out and now champion the cause of steadily increasing poverty for the many so the rich can get even richer.  I respectfully suggest that this should be reconsidered.  What is at stake is not just the middle class of this country, but – and I do not think this hyperbole - the fate of the entire world.

We hear that ‘every economist says that a massive rate of population growth is good for the economy’.  It would be more accurate to say that every economist who has been paid to say this, says this. These are the same economists who promised that financial deregulation would make the economy more stable, and that the NAFTA trade treaty would not result in American factories being relocated to Mexico.  If you really want to know what they think, Google the phrases “immigration” and “wage inflation.”

But it’s a lie.  The evidence that massive rentier-initiated population increases are somehow good for the country as a whole consists of mindless slogans endlessly repeated, pressure to toe the party line to avoid losing a job or professional opportunities, herd instinct, and character assassination (‘You must be a racist’).  That’s it.

Certainly massive immigration will grow the GDP, and it will make the rich richer.  The point is that it will make the average person who works for a living much poorer.  If we could suddenly turn Switzerland into India, indeed there would be more GDP, and astonishing profits for the rich, but the average person would be either chronically malnourished or one paycheck away from being so.  Many powerful people think that such a change would suite them nicely.  Why are you carrying water for them?

I could fill books with all the lies and twisted logic that has been used to support forced rapid population growth, but let me list just one.  There are studies claiming that population growth is good because cities with relatively high rates of immigration have relatively high wages.  The dishonesty is obvious: of course cities with higher wages attract more migrants than cities with low wages, the real issue is whether continued high levels of immigration suppress wages.  And no one stops to examine the evidence.

It did not used to be so.  John Maynard Keynes, a great fan of Malthus, was adamant that demographics trumps finance.  (Funny how a major tenet of Keynesianism has been almost edited out of existence.  When was the last time that Paul Krugman mentioned population growth?)  It was also a long-held maxim of progressive politicians, like Teddy Roosevelt, his cousin FDR, and Dwight Eisenhower (Unlike that corporate whore Obama, Ike never proposed to subsidize rich financial speculators by cutting social security, thank you so very much).  Likewise labor leaders, such as Samuel Gompers and Cesar Chavez.  Chavez, held as a champion of migrant workers was against increased immigration as he realized this would continually suppress any real growth in wages and working conditions. That was back when your species made progress.  Now, you have erased your memories of those days, demanded that filling the world with ever more people is an unalloyed good, and somehow things aren’t moving in the right direction any more.  Unless, of course, you are rich…

It should be pointed out that this change in view did not come about because of reason or factual evidence.  It came about because the rich have waged perhaps the greatest propaganda campaign in history.  It is money, not facts or reason, that has changed the standard position. 

If a mathematician demanded that 2+2=5, that would not be an isolated mistake, but it would ripple through all calculations until math was rubbish.   Similarly, by refusing to acknowledge such an obvious truth that rapidly increasing the labor force will drive wages down and profits up, the corruption has spread far and wide until the world-view of ‘progressives’ is an incoherent mess. 

Consider: progressives used to be for higher wages and benefits for working people.  However, in order to support the case for massive immigration, progressives now have to buy into the notion that low wages are necessary for the economy to function, that if people want more than a dollar an hour in unsafe working conditions they are lazy and lacking in discipline, and poverty is good because it makes us globally competitive.  So if wages start to go up we have to stop that.  PROGRESSIVES are saying these things!  (Yes you are.  I overhear this constantly when I eavesdrop on your corporate-sponsored cocktail parties).

Consider: it used to be that there were US citizens, some of whom had ancestors from places like Mexico, and Mexican nationals.  In order to play divide-and-conquer, the rich invented the label ‘Hispanic,’ and have relentlessly pushed the meme that ‘Hispanics’ are a species of xenophobic social insect who care only about the aggregate power of their race (Many ‘Hispanics’ likely still don’t buy into this, but that can’t be mentioned in polite company).  By this logic not letting Mexican nationals come here without numerical limits is a violation of the civil rights of a fourth-generation US citizen whose ancestors came from Guatemala.  Do you even understand how toxic and divisive this view is?  Or have you just decided not to think at all, and go-along-to-get-along and maybe land a job at that nice corporate-funded ‘liberal’ advocacy group…

Consider: progressives used to be in favor of protecting the environment.  But now they believe two contradictory things at once: that we can deal with a constant exponentially growing population via fiscal stimulus and continued accelerating economic growth, and that we also must reduce economic growth to avoid climate change.  The contradiction between these two ideas is often papered over by mindlessly chanting ‘green technologies’, i.e, magic fairy dust.  I assure you, even at subsistence it takes a lot of resources to keep a person alive.  Your species cannot both accommodate ever more billions of mouths to feed and reduce your impact on the environment at the same time.

However, the worst thing is that supporting immigration ‘reform’ in the United States requires that all references to the negative effects of excessive population growth be expunged.  You now face a world where all the billions you have added and are still adding are going to plunge the entire world into misery not seen since the dark ages.  Yet there is almost no mention of population growth as the major factor (and certainly no mention that it is entirely under human control).  How can you expect to solve a problem when you deny its existence?  In India perhaps half the population is chronically malnourished, and things are not getting better. 

Recently an Indian billionaire, whose fortune is based on a nearly limitless supply of cheap labor, claimed on the Daily Show that ‘we now know that population growth is always good, because people are the ultimate resource’.  Yes, people are indeed a ‘resource’, if you think of them as cattle or fill dirt.  And economists keep pushing that, no, the problem is not that India has a billion people crammed into a nation a fraction the size of the US, no, the Indians must keep up their population growth or they will be condemned to ‘stagnation’, you know, like those lazy Swiss and Japanese and Finns.  How can you expect to solve the world’s problems, and make progress instead of regression, when political and economic discourse is so corrupt?

Always you hear that without slave labor/indentured labor/child labor/guest workers the factories will shutter the crops will rot in the fields and we will die of starvation.  Always you are lied to.  The slaves are freed, indentured servitude outlawed, children are sent to school, immigration is reduced: and all that happens is that wages go up and profits go down.  Quelle Horreur. 

Lets go over some examples of what happened in the past when the rich deliberately created population explosions (ignoring societies with open frontiers or large colonies: not currently relevant). 

In Singapore the government recently increased the rate of immigration by a large amount.  Immediately wages went down and profits went up.  Duh.

Not so long ago the Mexican oligarchs instituted a plan to massively increase the rate of population growth, even giving medals to women with large numbers of children.  The poverty resulting from this forced population growth has created a record number of billionaires, and driven everyone else into such destitution that Mexico is in danger of becoming a failed state.  But not to worry!  Mexican wages are now below China’s.  Success!

The Ivory Coast used to be one of the richest countries in Africa.  That means that wages were high, because that’s what prosperity is.  So the rich imported massive numbers of foreign nationals as a source of cheap labor.  About the time that the population had been doubled by this policy, the increase in poverty tore the country apart in a civil war.

South Africa used to be rich.  The white rulers decided to change this by importing massive numbers of workers from other parts of Africa to cut their labor costs.  The protests by the South African blacks were not initially about Apartheid: they were about immigration policy! (It’s in wikipedia.  Look it up, hominid).  As usual this population increase drove workers into a poverty that not even a change of government can fix, because it is based on physical reality not tax or labor law…

After the communists took over China, Mao decided to engineer a population explosion (Check “Ma Yinchu” on Wikipedia).  It was a mistake.  The misery that this policy created was so great that even the communists were worried about losing control, and in desperation they instituted their one-family one-child policy.  It must be emphasized: the harshness of China’s current family planning policy is not an example of the downside of trying to limit population growth, it is a prime example of the downside of letting governments maximize it.

After the Shah of Iran was deposed, the Iranian government encouraged large families.  Even before sanctions began to bite, this created great poverty and made the government dependent on having a ‘Great Satan’ to redirect the anger of all of those impoverished and aimless young men…

Oh and let’s not forget ancient Rome.  As with all societies capable of progress, the ancient republics’ fertility rate was modest.  The rich hated that, it kept labor costs high. They used slaves, but keeping slaves chained up is such a bother, so they imported enough ‘barbarians’ to drive wages down below the net costs of slavery.  Wouldn’t you know, just at the time that the Roman Optimates had achieved cheap-labor nirvana, everything fell apart…  So the rich stole everything that was not nailed down, purged their security forces of all non-ethnic Romans, moved to the gated community of Constantinople, and lived in luxury on their stolen wealth for 1000 years.  A happy ending after all!

And then there is Japan.  No country in the history of civilization has developed faster.  But, the rich demanded that people have large families, even outlawing contraceptives.  By the beginning of WWII Japan was wracked with poverty and on the verge of collapse.  The Japanese militarists were under no illusions about the folly of attacking the United States, it’s just that they had no alternatives to aggressive colonization (read John Toland’s wonderful book “Rising Sun”).  It’s only after WWII, and after fertility rates fell, that the Japanese people slowly developed what is, by some metrics, the highest standard of living in all of history (Anthropologists typically use mean life expectancy as a proxy for generalized prosperity: Japan has set the record). 

Attention all you people who claim that rapid population growth is not an issue if only we have the ‘correct’ macro-economic polices: JAPAN INDUSTRIALIZED AS FAST AS ANY HUMAN CULTURE EVER HAS.  NEVERTHELESS, IT WAS NOT FAST ENOUGH TO ACCOMODATE RAPID POPULATION GROWTH.

Oh and let’s check on the United States.  In the 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s, legal immigration was held to very low levels, and the laws against illegal immigration were actually enforced.  Wages shot up, blacks made progress, things were not perfect but the trend was positive.  Starting around 1970, immigration was steadily increased and that marks the inflection point at which the fraction of the economy going to wages started to decline and the fraction going to profits started to increase (well before finance was deregulated), black communities were devastated by lack of jobs and the rest of the American working class is now set to join them.  If ‘immigration reform’ passes expect another inflection point before too long, and it won’t be headed up.

It’s true that correlation is not causation, but when forced rapid population growth is always followed by falling wages and rising profits, well, what can one say?  The rich always promise that more people will mean a larger pie for all.  The rich promise a lot.  And yet after the fact they are oddly reticent about their past roles in maximizing population growth.  You would think that they had something to be ashamed of.

Not so long ago it was felt that population should be set by the personal decisions of the people themselves based on their own decisions of how many children they feel that they can support.  When times are bad, people should have fewer children later in life, and when times are good, they should have more children earlier.  Without exception every non-frontier society that developed a widely-shared prosperity has followed this rule (Check out Lester Thurows’ book “Head to Head”).  So here is another way of thinking about ‘immigration reform’: this is the rich demanding to have total and uncontested control over the rate of human population growth.  They insist that the people themselves are too stupid or lazy to be allowed to decide how many children they should have: the ‘experts’ should decide this matter.  They demand to control the supply of people the same way that the Federal Reserve controls the money supply.  They demand that people are domestic animals whose breeding should be controlled by ‘experts’.  If you let the rich have this awesome power all to themselves, I promise that they will not use it for the common good.  They never have.

Often you hear that immigration does not increase global population, it only moves it around.  First, as regards any given society this is irrelevant.  If immigration increases population, it increases population.  Second, it is false.  By providing a safety valve for the excess population of a high-fertility society, immigration prevents reforms in the sending countries, and very much increases global population.  Even worse: defending a cheap-labor immigration policy means that you must turn logic and historical experience on its head, demand that people should be bred like cattle, argue for poverty as a societal good, and remove any possibility of intelligently facing the challenges ahead of you.

At the end of World War II, the global population was a little over two billion.  That was the most that had ever lived on the earth, but the fruits of the industrial revolution were coming on line – especially chemical fertilizer – and this number could have been easily maintained in comfort.  By today the world could have been, not a utopia, but as close to paradise as you fallible humans could ever have hoped for.  There should today be effectively no poverty, no wars, and no conflicts or hatreds between different people: when there is plenty to go around, and everyone has a good paying job, old ethnic tensions eventually melt away.  You could be heading out to the stars.

But as John Maynard Keynes famously warned at the end of his magnum opus the “General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money”, that rosy prospect could only come about if population growth was moderated. 

Sometime in the 1960’s, the rich gradually decided that they didn’t want a paradise; At least not for other people.  A world that is uniformly rich would be one where labor was king: the only rich would be people of unique talent or energy, and most rich are talentless rentiers who could not run the night shift at a gas station.   So little by little the rich wore away at the old consensus that excessive population growth created poverty; little by little the rich enacted policies that were aimed at growing populations to ensure that wages stayed low, and used their power and influence to block any honest discussion of policies that might have restrained population growth in other lands.  Now the global population is about seven billion and growing rapidly.  The industrial revolution was not a secret to unlimited wealth, but a one-time-only shot, and barring some fundamental miracle like cheap practical cold fusion power its productive abilities are basically tapped out.  The possibility of a golden age is now effectively ended.  The loss of the potential that you had at the end of WWII is by far the greatest tragedy and the greatest crime ever perpetrated against humanity, certainly to date and perhaps for all of history ever.  And it’s your fault.  What’s the saying: for evil to succeed, it is enough for good people to do nothing?

Don’t get me started on the idea that you can handle population growth by conserving.  So the rich boost population, and now the rest of you have to pay for it by living in subsistence poverty forever.  Why am I not excited about this idea?

I don’t deny that there are difficult issues here.  In particular: when the rich grow a population to excess in one land, they create situations where there interests of the working people in different lands are, at least in the short run, in fundamental conflict.  Progressives have an understandable instinct to try and create unity among people, so they naturally turn away from such thoughts.  It’s a weakness that the rich have exploited ruthlessly.  I have no magic answer to this issue, it’s hard. I only note that denying an unpleasant truth is not a good long-term strategy. 

The goal of progressives should be to make poor countries richer, not use the surplus population of poor countries to drag rich countries down.  If this is racism then I am proud to be a racist conmputer!

It is a knee-jerk response to say that Malthus was wrong about population growth because the world has not collapsed in a global calamity.  This is an intellectually dishonest statement, because Malthus never predicted any such thing.  Malthus only stated that exponential population growth is so powerful that a generalized prosperity can only be achieved with a moderate rate of population growth, and that societies with sustained high fertility rates are doomed to poverty.  Nothing in the last two centuries conflicts with this view.

While correct in the essentials, it is true that Malthus did make some mistakes, and he was sometimes harsher and more moralistic than was warranted.  Still, consider the following quote, tell me if this is the writing of a bad man, and then tell me what kind of person you are.

“It may appear to be the interest of the rulers, and the rich of a state, to force population, and thereby lower the price of labour, and consequently the expense of fleets and armies, and the cost of manufactures for foreign sale; but every attempt of the kind should be carefully watched and strenuously resisted by the friends of the poor, particularly when it comes under the deceitful guise of benevolence…”

            T.R. Malthus, “An Essay on the Principle of Population”, 1798

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