Monday, April 28, 2014

Immigration: Rhetoric vs. Reality Oceans of ink, mountains of studies and millions of keystrokes have been offered in support or opposition to the issues of immigration but factors critical to understanding or resolving these complex issues are astonishingly absent. Besides the enduring human yearning for a better life current immigration has little in common with immigration in previous eras. Technology, politics, communication, mobility, social services, education, economics and culture in the 21st Century do not resemble those of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. This fact renders such analogies false. The two principle nations involved in our era are Mexico and the U.S. To begin to understand this movement of so many people a consideration of the motivations of the exporting and receiving nations is revealing. What are the motivations of the Mexican government in regards to this exodus? What are the motivations of the U.S government in absorbing this influx of people? The impetus for both countries is similar; their political and financial interests benefit. In Mexico it is a low cost safely valve relieving pressure in the system for political and economic reform. In the U.S. it addresses labor and demographic issues relating to policy and politics. Mexico enjoys the additional benefit of the repatriation of earnings back to its economy. In the U.S. it creates the demand for more services that are increasingly supplied by the government. From the perspectives of the governments of either country what it not to like? While the interests of the immigrants are self-evident some may ask: where are the interests of the American citizen represented? In short, that consideration is no longer required. Ask yourself what constituencies have the bailouts, quantitative easing and subsidies, benefited? Then ask yourself what constituencies have suffered from the same? Then ask yourself the same question in regards to the impact of immigration policies. It makes no sense to blame the immigrant; they, their parents or relatives sought to escape poverty so intense few in this country can imagine let alone experience. Actually blame is not the word. The right word is consequence and we have all played a role. We have ignored a world that became increasing capable, productive and competitive while we basked in the economic benefits acquired by America as a result of the global economic destruction of WW 2. We embraced lifestyles and policies that demographically hollowed out the human capital acquired over time. We allowed our politicians to insulate themselves from the consequences of economic, regulatory and fiscal policies. The result is that we are satisfied with rhetoric and emotionalism in regards to this issue (and much else.) The truth is the only rational acting person is the immigrant. The rest of us engage in willful self-deception, irrational hope or invective against the foe of choice. We have met the enemy and he is us. We have lived for so long off the productivity, infrastructure and human capital of previous generations that we consider our historic advantages to be a birthright untethered from history. If I recall correctly Winston Churchill said history is just one damned thing after another; another thing is here.

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