Questioning Immigration is Not Racism

Yves here. One of the things that is routinely airbrushed out of official discourse on the immigration in the US is that our immigration policy to a significant degree is designed to lower labor costs. It should not be surprising that at a time when average wages are stagnant, most middle and lower income Americans are debt-burdened, face short job tenures and are living paycheck to paycheck that anxiety about immigration is at a high level.

Having said that, it is also true that 15 years of relentless political and media focus on terrorism has increased xenophobia. As one of my contacts put it, “What do you expect when you train people to think that the woman behind the checkout counter who wears a headscarf has an AK-47 at home?” And that isn’t much of an exaggeration. Earlier this evening, I happened to be on the treadmill when a CNN documentary, “Why Do They Hate Us?” was running. Let’s start with the “When did you stop beating your wife?” nature of the question. The fact that the US has created failed states all over the Middle East didn’t get a mention. The show was all about what the Administration likes to call “radical jihad.”

It started with a long opening sequence of violent scenes from Middle-East-related terrorism, starting with 9/11. The next section featured Muslim “reformers” arguing against the Muslim “moderate” position that Islam is not a violent religion. It then cited sections of the Quran (of the “kill the infidel” sort) and compared them with equally bloodthirsty passages from the Bible, and claimed that Christianity does not operate from that (these days) and then proceeded to discuss the culture of jihadists, and said many were formerly unemployed, drug addicts, not well educated, and didn’t understand the religion qua religion, they’d just latched onto these organizations. That was as far as I got.

The problem I had was that this video was heavy on scary images, like a guy with knife next to person about to be beheaded, when they were only tangentially related to the narrative at that point.

Finally, a bit of background to this piece. When I was in Oz (2002-2004), the population was just over 20 million. The combination of tight immigration policies (it was tough for me to get a visa) and low birth rates meant the population was static. That had seemed to work well. Australia was prosperous and had enjoyed a long run of growth. But the business community was pushing hard for a much higher level of immigration, to generate a higher growth rate, even though Australia has resource constraints, the biggest being water. The “higher growth” faction won.

By David Llewellyn-Smith, founding publisher and former editor-in-chief of The Diplomat magazine, now the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics website. Originally posted at MacroBusiness

At Domainfax, Peter Hartcher writes a shocker today:

The political consensus in favour of immigration has collapsed in most of the developed world.

Hostility to immigrants is now the great motive force animating politics in Europe and the US.

It’s on stark display now in the countries to which Australia has typically looked for leadership and for example, American and Britain. This is a troubling omen for Australia.

We do not have the problems of the US and Britain. But Australia commonly imports words, ideas and political trends from these countries. And often we absorb them uncritically. It would be a dire mistake for Australia to import the anger, fear and hatred that’s now running amok among our civilisational cousins.

…As Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane, says: “We do need to state the case for immigration and cultural diversity, as there’ll always be political elements seeking to exploit fears and anxieties.

“But a well-ordered immigration program is good for Australia,” he tells me. “It supports our economy, and it reinvigorates our society. We have every reason to be proud of our multiculturalism. Our experience has been very different from Europe, and we must not draw the wrong lessons from what is happening there.” Or the US.

Australia is a multicultural society and an immigrant nation. These are not choices. Our only choice is whether we make a success of it.

Let’s get a few things straight first. I have spent my entire adult life campaigning for both successful multi-culturalism, of which I am very proud, and Australian integration with Asia. Indeed I worked with Peter Hartcher on The Diplomat for nigh on a decade, which explicitly held these goals. But Peter’s comment today is not the solution, it is the problem.

A “well-ordered immigration program” needs to be socially, economically and politically sustainable otherwise it will generate the kind of resentment on display in the northern hemisphere. The first pre-condition for each is to ensure buy-in by the polity and that requires both debate and “choices”. Wowserishness that shuts down both will only generate powerlessness, anger and a backlash.

So, first of all. Do not represent immigration as manifest destiny. It is a choice. One we should argue for and select.

Having established that support we then need to discuss what kind of immigration we want.

My own view is that I’d rather see the complete opposite of today wherein refugees are demonised and economic migrants are ushered in via a variety of questionable front doors where legality is in constant question. The moral imperative of assisting the persecuted plus the long benefits that they bring stand in far better stead with the Australia I grew up in than the lowly game of selling our souls to the rich of China, recently encapsulated by Warwick McKibbin:

Obsessed by weak commodity prices and volatility in global financial markets to the point of not thinking about the future?

Don’t be, advises top economist and former Reserve Bank of Australia board member Warwick McKibbin.

Australia is better placed than most countries to benefit from long-term global trends – such as population ageing, fiscal adjustments and the shift in economic clout from Europe to Asia, Professor McKibbin says.

…”If you have got something like a fixed asset in a country and you are globalising the entire world then location becomes a valuable asset.”

“Real estate on Sydney harbour for example is also from a national point of view attractive. But for foreign investors it’s also very attractive because there’s billions of dollars of wealth being generated in China.

“The middle class is expanding, and they’re going to want to buy things, environmental goods – they’re going to want to buy stuff which we actually have in abundance. But much of it is fixed assets so you can’t change the supply of it, and so therefore it’s value is likely to go up a lot.”

But it will also drive up the real exchange rate, hurting the competitiveness of trade-exposed industries such as tourism – currently enjoying good growth with a lower Aussie dollar – and manufacturing. A stronger dollar means Australian goods and services are more expensive for foreigners while competing foreign goods and services are cheaper for Australians.

And the Prime Minister:

From July 1, students aged six and above would be able to apply for student visas regardless of their country of citizenship – and their guardians can also apply for Guardian visas (subclass 580)…

These visa-rule changes, which were announced during Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to China in April, also mean non-residents can buy several new properties or one existing property…

Dave Platter, from the leading Chinese international-property portal said there has been a nearly 20 per cent jump in inquiries for properties in Australia since Mr Turnbull’s announcement…

Estate agents Vera and Geoffrey Wong have hosted an open home in Sydney’s Eastwood.

Most of their clients are either Chinese or South Korean investors, and Mr Wong says when they were choosing a property, there is no doubt their children’s education is considered most important.

He said buyers are planning purchases that cater for their children’s entire education.

“Schooling … that is – I can’t emphasise it enough – is one of the main factors,” he said.

“Our clients, I would say over 70 per cent, (are looking,) at schooling and the university afterwards.”

A well-ordered immigration program does not need underhanded entry points nor should it be crowding out the existing population from essential services. Yet that is where we are at in the major eastern capitals:
ScreenHunter_13326 Jun. 03 07.22

Property prices, junior age school congestion, falling university standards and a long list of other straining infrastructure is crowding out the living standards of the existing population.

That brings us to our third condition of a well-ordered immigration program. It needs to meet the needs and improve the lot of existing Australians and that will need to inform the size of the inflows. Australia is still running what is essentially a “Big Australia” agenda in the east yet there is no obvious reason why it should, no skill shortages, no lack of diversity, no economic dividend, no strategic imperative. Indeed, it is all the opposite with high underemployment, vibrant inner-cities, a grotesque lack of infrastructure investment and an approaching tipping point where economic integration with Asia will overwhelm traditional Western alliances.

It is not socially, economically or politically sustainable to erode the standards of living in the existing Australian population in this way. There may be an argument for it. That is, that not doing it will lead to an even larger fall in living standards but that argument must be made convincingly and I’m not sure it can be.

If it is not then eventually you will create the very anti-immigration pulse that you are seeking to avoid.

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    1. Disturbed Voter

      Correct … there are no White people, we are all colored folks. Everyone is disturbed at some level, by the sight of people who are significantly different from them … physically or culturally. We become more human though, not by giving into our nature, but by transcending it.

    1. Exurban

      Yes, it’s about cheap labor, but it’s also about growth in the markets for existing businesses. It’s about selling more home appliances and toilet paper, about filling apartments with renters, and about pumping up the value of real estate. So both the labor power and consumer power of immigrants are why business interests want more of them, and why they buy the politicians necessary to let more of them in. The arguments about multiculturalism and enrichment and vibrancy are irrelevant.

      1. backwardsevolution

        Exurban – “The arguments about multiculturalism and enrichment and vibrancy are irrelevant.” These arguments are the ones that get put forward (diversity is so enriching), but the real truth is what you said in your first four lines. It’s also clear in the body of the article:

        “But the business community was pushing hard for a much higher level of immigration, to generate a higher growth rate, even though Australia has resource constraints, the biggest being water. The ‘higher growth’ faction won.”

  1. Ishmael

    The number one type of person who comes in on an h-1-b are accountants, usually sponsored by the large accounting firms. Now why do they do this? Is there a large shortage of accountants in the US? Nope the whole purpose is to suppress wages, but usually you get what you pay for. A while back working with a client the whole audit team was h-1-b and the audit went totally off of the rails. The firm was told if you bring any of those people back then they would go looking for new auditors.

    As I mentioned yesterday there was a recent case in Silicon Valley of a company owned by an Israeli had some East Asian Indian workers which he was paying $1.50 an hour (I do not know if they were here legally or illegally). Then you walk down Montana in Brentwood and first you will be amazed how few English speakers there are on the street, but stick your head into a nail saloon and all of the workers are Asian. Now manicurist use to make a pretty good living but not any more with what these saloons packed with Asians charge. I do not know if they are here legally or illegally or even if they are treated like slaves.

    The whole h-1-b program at all levels consists of lies and more lies but corporate America wants it so that it can bludgeon American workers over the head. Okay call me a racist but if you want wages to rise you do not need to have unions. You need to get rid of all of these people suppressing wages.

    1. johnnygl

      We do some work with big 4 accounting firms and they have set up quite a presence in bangalore, india. I got chatting with one of the guys there. They have to work odd hours to accommodate eastern usa time zone business hours and they have company buses that bring them in.

      Other than pounding white collar wages, what other reason is there to set up shop there???

    2. Paul P

      You need to get rid of all these people suppressing wages.

      The US loves immigrants: it creates so many of them. NAFTA bankrupted the Mexican farmer
      and stimulated an influx of undocumented workers. Carrier left Indianapolis for Mexico and Nabisco left Chicago for Mexico. Both the Carrier and Nabisco factories were unionized.

      The enemy is not workers, but a system that exploits them. Multinational corporations and the
      governments they own make a better enemy to blame for low wages and bad jobs.

      1. Banana Breakfast

        NAFTA also helped push those displaced Mexican farmers into another economic niche, apart from the migrant or illegal worker and factory grunt: recreational drug production. Combined with the bizarre role of drug production and smuggling in the CIA black budget, the result is at least 50,000 dead in Mexico and the creation of a narco state so corrupt as to make our own rulers blush. Meanwhile the state of Iowa now produces more maize annually than the entire nation of Mexico.

        We do have to be careful not to blame Mexican workers and immigrants – that’s the trap Sanders is talking about when he says Trump is channeling real and legitimate anger into ugly, illegitimate forms. Nevertheless while those workers are no more to blame for their desperation induced participation in a dirty industry than, say, coal miners in the Appalachians or soldiers in the US military, they are being used as a cudgel to depress US wages and ultimately their own, since without protectionism and social democracy Mexico will never develop its own consumer driven economy.

      2. Disturbed Voter

        There is a war against Labor, unionized or not. It won’t stop until all consumerism is reduced to SNAP cards. Different sectors of the GDP are in competition. Finance conquers all other sectors, because moving bits around on a computer is the most efficient labor possible. Ultimately your Main Street economy has to die, given the forces at work, which are bigger than big bad capitalists.

        Without monetization, there is no way to define efficiency. Once you monetize everything, the drive to efficiency takes on its own momentum. Ultimately, making machines is efficient, but making people, who take 20 years to mature is not. Humanity has obsoleted itself. Consumerism came about as propaganda against Communism. Now that Communism has lost, there is no reason to keep up the charade of Moscow On The Hudson.

  2. craazyboy

    I read an economist once that made a refreshing anti-macro comment – “if it’s not per capita GDP growth, I don’t think it counts.”

    He made that comment before income equality/wealth inequality went thru the roof, so we’d need to update our thinking appropriately – first, over filling the petrie dish and then skimming off all the good stuff is no way to be a “sovereign nation”.

  3. Seventh Degree

    Questioning immigration is racism, when immigration is only discussed when referring to people of color. The use of the word “racism” in your heading signifies this is about race,
    which excludes discussion of whites.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That is one hell of a straw man. Have you bothered reading the US and UK press? Many, indeed most, articles on people who oppose immigration depict them as economically ignorant and/or racist. Go look at the row this weekend over the billboard showing EU migrants, who are from the Middle East:

      So in the UK, UKIP has turned the debate into being about the immigration of non-whites (I am hearing the same thing from people I know) even though the biggest immigrant group from the EU has been Poles. So the people who are concerned about economic insecurity are being conflated with those who are against taking in more refugees.

  4. kj1313

    Well said and many of the problems associated would be diminished if we still had a strong union base in this country. That being said I despise the demonization of Mexicans/Central America immigrants, Syrian refugees etc which are blowback to inept American Policies.

    1. tony

      You destroy a country with war or ‘free trade’. Then some manage to escape their destroyed countries. And a few of those or their kids will commit some act of terror as a protest against what has been done to their people. Which is then used to dehumanise the entire group and justify more aggression.

    2. Stephanie

      A question I asked on the links page was how to do organizing across language and cultural barriers. Where I work there are at least seven languages spoken in the shop floor each shift and no one (except supervisors) interacts across all the different language groups. Everyone else seems to stick close to others of the same ethnicity. For instance, in one department the third shift may be mostly/entirely Ukrainian and the first shift Laotian so there is no peer-to-peer communication about the events of third shift to those taking over. It all happens through supervisors. In another, larger department there is at least one team lead on shift who is multi-lingual but this means that none of the Vietnamese operators really needs to attempt to speak to any of the Somali operators, as all communication happens through the team leads. It seems to me like a full-proof way to ensure that employees barely interact, let alone organize.

      Many years ago (pre 9/11) I was at a shop where an entire shift walked out in protest over some firings that happened after an INS audit, but that shift was made up almost entirely of Spanish speakers. I haven’t seen or heard of anything similar in this town since then.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Wow, this demonstrates a practice I’d only heard discussed in the abstract: ethnically fragmenting factory workers so they would not form a union. Thanks for confirming that this happens, and in a serious way.

        1. Disturbed Voter

          Soft human trafficking. Same things we are supposed to look out for in overseas contracting. But colonizing isn’t just for Brown or foreign people anymore … the drive to maximize profit requires universal and maximum exploitation. All employers become pimps, all workers become diseased whores. My sympathy lies with the exploited, but if I abstain from the products of inhumanity to man, then the economy collapses.

  5. aj

    NAFTA. It really is that simple. As for lower wages, I’m all for them if the cost of my utilities decrease. Lower wages are great if the cost of fuel decreases as well. Lower wages are wonderful if sales and income taxes decrease. If my trips to the grocery store cost less, then lower wages work for me. But that’s not going to happen because immigration increases the pressure and costs on aging infrastructure and inept government agencies. There’s no way that the sort of immigration and lower wages we are experiencing help my family. This will end in complete disaster and ruin, because the men of this nation are too busy watching sports and playing video games to stand up against it. Disaster and ruin within a quarter of a century. There’s no reset coming. What’s coming is greed and corruption. Best case scenario, we will be Mexico in twenty-five years.

  6. home for wayward trout

    This is a little bit off topic but I really want to share this data point.

    Last weekend I was hosting 2 engineers from China with whom I work closely. They met my daughter who is home from college when we arrived at the airport. The next morning at breakfast they were quizzing me on the cost of her college tuition and it reinforced the shocking stories they had heard about the cost of US college education. At the end of this conversation one of them casually mentioned that the Chinese government has a program to help Chinese families get US citizenship for their children so they won’t have to pay international tuition rates when they go to college in the US.

    Neither of these engineers has children born in the US but it is common for executives to reward high value international employees by bringing them to the US for several months when their wife is expecting a child. They hand out US citizenship as just another type of bonus. From my observation foreign born US executives are especially loose about handing out US citizenship.

    So many engineers in the US are now immigrants that “anchor babies” are a common discussion topic and I get to listen in because English is the language they have in common. Most of them believe that encouraging this is US government policy.

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      Anecdotally, large percentages of kids in private (middle and high) schools in Puget Sound region are South Korean, ‘Asian’ (India, Japan, China). Why? I’m told that kids with a diploma from a US high school are assumed to have a leg up getting in to a university in either their own country, or in US.

      I have no quibble with valuing education, as I share that value myself.
      But it is a bit tiring to hear about all the properties in my area being bid up to prices those of us who Iive here can barely afford — those highly bid properties are paid for in cash so that some Asian/Chinese family can get access to:
      (1) US public schools in good suburban neighborhoods, and/or
      (2) good private schools.
      (I am not acquainted with the private school budgets; if all those kids suddenly left, I’m sure that it would impact their budgets and donations.)

      I have also heard, from friends who’ve traveled extensively in China, that because China has had to build up from a largely agrarian economy, and then had the trauma of the Cultural Revolution, the nation has had so much upheaval and so much urbanization that they have not (yet) been able to develop a strong, wide system of universities that could accept the sheer, overwhelming numbers of qualified applicants. (They have some good schools, but they don’t have the capacity. The upshot is that any enterprising family gets their kid to Oz, US, or Canada. And given the sheer numbers, that’s turning out to be a LOT of students coming in to my region.)

      While I have tremendous respect for what China has achieved against very high odds, I’m told by people that I trust that it will be another generation or more before China can build up the infrastructure of college and tech schools that they really need. (It has taken since the late 1800s in my own state; it takes generations of people to build up a system of colleges.)
      So, I’m told the Big Dream of many students is to come to Canada, Oz, or US for university.

      I’d argue that the US wins in many ways by having people come for education, so I was frankly amused when I was looking through some K-Pop (Korean pop) YouTubes one afternoon and I kept seeing web ads for a local community college. Later, I was chatting at the health club with one of my delightful acquaintance: she and her husband immigrated from Taiwan in early 80s, leaving their families behind in pursuit of home ownership and college degrees in US. She happens to work at the local community college (and she’s fluent in at least 3 languages, as near as I can tell — both reading and writing). She said that they have quite a few students from S Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and now China. But here’s the deal: in Washington State, if you have a degree from a community college it gets you points in seeking admission to a 4-year university. And once you are in university, you multiply: as we probably all are aware, the tales of students coming to American universities and making ‘anchor babies’ goes back decades.

      I told her that whoever does the marketing for that community college should get a bonus for being smart enough to reach those kids via K-Pop YouTube videos. That’s a very creative way to reach these potential students (another use of YouTube that I had not foreseen…)

      I think that part of what is driving the frustrations that I see (some of which I share) are the sheer, vast numbers of people arriving so rapidly, the pressures on infrastructure (traffic is a nightmare and they ALL want to drive cars because they’re in America and we have beleaguered transit!!!).

      Where I really see trouble brewing, and have already made (cheap) bets is that the next American social upheaval and rebellion will be triggered by the fact that large numbers of foreigners are able to outbid and outbuy people who have grown up in this area, whose families have paid taxes, built parks and trails, and created the very amenities that their grandchildren now can’t afford because they are up against ‘offshored money’ and competing against that is not possible for anyone without either a trust fund, or a very, very lucrative income.

      Welcome to the market economy, where **nothing matters** except how much money you have to swing around like a Big Swinging D!ck. Winners, and as The Donald might call the hard working families of my region, “L-o-s-e-r-s!”.

      So the ‘losers’ are the very people (my neighbors, friends, cousins), who have been paying taxes for decades to support a university system their own kids can’t get accepted into, because they are competing against so many ‘non-US’ students. (Never mind that the university is just dee-lighted to have non-US students paying full fare).

      So first, the kids of the very ‘losers’, whose families have paid taxes into the state system for decades with the belief their kids could one day go to college, now find that the competition for a spot in state colleges is unbelievably brutal. And in addition, the kids have to deal with lower wages because they are:
      (1) in the gig economy with no W-2 protections for their labor
      (2) up against H1B employees, and then
      (3) these same hard-working Millenials can’t afford housing because it is all being bought up by ‘Canadians’ (i.e., tax haven money from China, Hong Kong, flowing through Vancouver, BC because they’ve already distorted housing prices so much in that city that the money has flowed south into Puget Sound, Portland, and other parts of the west coast.)

      FWIW, I was in Bellevue, WA in the past week in a lovely building in a lovely neighborhood. Of about 24 units, at least 12 are being rented out to 30-somethings who work in tech and can afford the high rents. The owners are Chinese and the units are ‘investments’ (read: sanctuary if they need to get to safety.) I don’t know that all buildings have a 50% offshore-ownership rate, but 20 years ago that whole building would have been owner occupied by local residents.

      Sorry about long, chatty comment but this topic has become extremely resonant in my neighborhood.

      I emphatically agree with Yves and with the previous commenter: this whole immigration issue, for many of us, is not actually about race. It’s about overwhelmed infrastructure, globalization, and problems in ‘free markets’ that apparently we are not supposed to discuss, because if we point to actual problems and say they need to be addressed, the DNC shuts us down as ‘racists’ and the GOP has simplistic, stupid ideas that will only make things worse because they can’t get their heads around the fact that the problem is **not** with race, it’s with unfettered markets, rampant globalization, and screwed over taxpayers.

      1. johnnygl

        Yes, very similar story in boston suburbs, too. Lots of chinese capital coming here. Lot of indians who seems to be on h1b visas.

        This problem reaches pretty far up the income ladder, too. I don’t think trump understands the issue very well, but he’s hitting closer to the mark than any other politican. Few are even aware of this problem. I think this is why you see his base expanding quite easily up the income scale into the broader republican base.

        1. readerOfTeaLeaves

          You make some very interesting observations about Trump — and the people who make these rules (which is basically giving fealty to the Zuckerbergs and other holders of intellectual property).

          Given the fact that apparently the Great Minds in Congress have not yet hired a lot of H1B employees to answer their phones, email, and other daily tasks, they’re basically clueless about the impact that H1B has had in American business.

          As an aside, I’ll simply note that the H1B employees that I know are stellar people, and they work hard and do some great things. But…. that still doesn’t address the issues of how importing a whole lot of highly educated people impacts our salaries. This is the dark side of neoliberalism, and it has zilch to do with racism and everything to do with exalting capital over labor.

          If ‘money made money’ so easily, you could stack Benjamins on a desk and, with the miracle of compound interest, do well over the course of a year. Unfortunately, you need labor (brains, creativity, work ethic, humor, persistence) to actually ‘innovate’ and make money.

          But when your neoliberal economic idiocy has made ‘labor’ as easily interchangeable as your light bulbs, and just one more ‘cost’ on your spreadsheet, then the complex social, environmental, cultural, and educational H1B issues are not visible to you. I agree with you that Trump has no clue about the complexity or non-racist ramifications of the whole immigration debate. Clinton, however, is not only clueless — she’s scoldy-cat, as if anyone who objects to the current lunacy is ‘a racist’. Anyone who objects to the current lunacy is, arguably, someone who cares about social coherence, stable communities, and good business practices. Neither Trump nor Clinton have a f*cking clue.

          Layer on to this mess the demographics of many regions in the world, and this problem is probably going to accelerate: creating good business structures and decent jobs appears to be one of the primary issues globally – whether it is in China, or Greece, or France, we are seeing people start to raise holy hell at what unfettered, unmanaged globalization has actually cost them.

          I expect more chaos ahead.
          I have yet to see any public leader that really grasps this issue. I’m planning to write in Sanders, but even he doesn’t really seem to understand that this is NOT a racial issue.

          1. craazyboy

            H1Bs don’t reduce wages. They make them go to zero, one at a time. There’s a difference – and next thing you know we have the “gig” economy. Just in time hiring for a specific project with just the perfect skill set that requires no company sponsored training. Then goodby when the project ends.

            1. Disturbed Voter

              This is the natural evolution of all labor … to day labor. This happened in ancient Israel when the Jewish tribes were forced off tribal land, by the Greco-Roman latifundia (the predecessors of Stalinist collectivized agriculture). Fact is, the inhuman is more efficient and more profitable than the human … in policy and in machinery. This allows us to feed a larger population, while making that larger population ultimately unsustainable. This happens locally and globally, over such a long time period, that people don’t notice … except with Future Shock we are starting to notice.

          2. Pepe Aguglia

            Clinton, however, is not only clueless

            Hil is not in the least bit clueless. She’s very much clued in…

            …to the interests of the plutocracy, by whom she has not coincidentally been bought and paid for

          3. backwardsevolution

            readerOfTeaLeaves – “Trump has no clue.” Oh, I think he does. He’s been talking to people everywhere. Where is your proof that he has “no clue”? This IS what he’s talking about, citizens being displaced by illegals, H1Bs, all costs rising because of this extra demand. He has got a clue.

            “Clinton, however, is not only clueless – she’s scoldy-cat, as if anyone who objects to the current lunacy is a ‘racist’.” She is not clueless. None of these politicians are. This is where almost everyone on these boards lose me. They know exactly what is happening. That is why they shut you down with “RACIST”. It completely closes down all argument.

            I liked your post, but, please, get real about the political class. They KNOW what’s going on, but, as was said earlier, this is all about big money, and big money won. Politicians just “play” dumb.

            As to your remark about “Canadians,” very well put. I read (I’ll try to find the link, as I have it somewhere) that behind China, the nation second in line for buying up Australian housing were Canadians. Canadians, I thought? What? Now, these are not long-term citizens of Canada buying up Australian real estate. These are, as you said, people with new Canadian citizenship (from China, Hong Kong, etc.) doing the buying.

            They have not only bought out Vancouver and Toronto, but now Puget Sound, San Francisco, cities in Australia and New Zealand and all with, as Ilargi likes to say, with monopoly money.

              1. backwardsevolutionm

                Lambert – here is the link, and within the article it states: “Top countries for investment in Australian real estate (in AUD billions).” The countries are (1) China, (2) Canada, (3) United States, (4) Singapore, (5) U.K. The U.K. again most likely would be the newly-landed Chinese in London who turn around and park their money all over the world; same with the U.S.

                There might be a few long-term Canadians going to Australia to buy property, but they would be a handful. This is Chinese money, and it’s really, really hurting a lot of people by pushing up prices to the moon. Most discouraging for the young. And they’re not just parking their money so it’s safe, but they are buying up multiple units and speculating for capital appreciation.


        2. EmilianoZ

          Trump is a real estate developer. I’m sure he loves all the Chinese money pouring into US market. If anything he’ll make it easier for them to buy here. Buy a Trump condo, he’ll throw in a visa for free.

      2. John

        Every foreigner I’ve known for a period of time
        seems to eventually reveal how
        they cheat the system here. They lie to get any
        “free” stuff they can get. They always shrug
        and say that’s the system.

        I don’t know any Americans who are doing
        what these foreigners do. Honest to god.
        It’s unbelievable how they are ripping us off.

        1. kj1313

          That’s pure BS. I know plenty of true blue Americans who cheat the system. Also it’s mostly Americans elites pushing corrosive Neoliberal and Neoconservative policies to enrich themselves and enslave the peasants. And that is far more evil than those who are just trying to stay afloat.

          1. Disturbed Voter

            But this is a class differential. There are few American waitrons who cheat the system, but many businessmen and managers who do. So of course the elites promote this, it is good for their bottom line, and greed is good.

            It may be true, since most professional immigrants are Middle Class … that they cheat regularly … just like Middle Class people do everywhere. That is why we may see a distorted picture. I am not so sure the old man on the collective farm back in China is so cynical.

          2. John

            Hey, I’m just relaying my life experiences like others are here.
            You might not like it but it’s what I’ve experienced.

  7. William C

    I do not claim to have any answers, but have for a good few years now been thinking along the lines that, with world population continuing to grow and with some parts of the world possibly becoming less inhabitable as a result of climate change, we may be on the threshold of an era of mass migrations. I can understand fully why the developed world may find this frightening but am alarmed at where that may be taking us. Just now we had reports of Turkish border guards killing children. Is that where the developed world is heading? Shooting children dead to prevent them coming into our countries? What would that do to us as societies? And the rest of the world?

    Have we sowed the wind and are now about to reap the whirlwind?

    You can tell I am in a cheery mood.

    1. Vatch

      People all over the world must stop having so many babies. The world is finite, and we don’t adequately support our existing population of 7.4 billion people. When poor people have too many children, they perpetuate poverty, because they can’t afford to care for their 3, 4, 5, or more children. When rich or middle class people have too many children, they worsen environmental problems, because for each child, they consume and pollute more.

      This is perhaps the most important reason why I am disgusted by organized religion. Many (not all) religious organizations encourage large families, which is one of our era’s greatest moral outrages.

      1. Ruben

        Perhaps it would be easier to incentivize the population to procreate at at certain period of the year only, like nature has mandated in so many other animals. For instance the spring season could be baby season. Couples would make love for babies in summer, would make love for fun the rest of the year. That would guarantee 25% reduction in the birth rate, ceteris paribus. People would belong to clearly identified cohorts, birthdays parties would be massive.

        1. Quantum Future

          Ruben – Please stop the Maltbusian bullshit. Part of immigration policy is to replace a declining birth rate in the West. This topic could have a few topics but the main reasons are costs of family but the solution of individuals is birth control. Even lower costs may not discourage use of birth control. And I am a proponent.

          Have kids when you are ready to give your personal life up for it. That is the way I think it should be. Malthusians nowadays are strange. On one hand some think lower population is better while many think more are better. To me, the more humans born the better as customers, but there are always ways for individuals and countries to get more with less, that just takes more time and well, we are an impatient species with being mortal and all…

          Science now is a very few short decades from ending death as we know it and even existing as energy. No more need for nut gathering. Our problem is a distribution one. And since someone mentioned Charlie Rose even Lloyd Blankfien stated to Charlie this is the problem. He danced around when asked for an answer but for God’s sake at least he admitted what the problem was.

          1. Vatch

            The birth rate in many western countries is stable, yet the population continues to grow as a result of demographic inertia. It takes two or three generations for a population to stabilize after an apparently stable birth rate has been achieved.

            The problem is not merely one of distribution. The vast majority of people on this planet are very poor by U.S. or Western European standards, and it is completely impossible to sustain a population of more than 7 billion people if everyone has risen from poverty.

            If I have to choose between a densely populated world in which most people are destitute, or a world with a much smaller population in which everyone has decent standard of living, it’s a no-brainer. I’ll go for the smaller population.

            1. Vatch

              Argghh! I meant to say demographic momentum, not demographic inertia. I used the wrong physics metaphor. Sorry about that.

          2. Jagger

            Science now is a very few short decades from ending death as we know it and even existing as energy

            Ummmm…..I wouldn’t recommend betting the house on it.

            1. craazyboy

              But..but.. I read that book. Charles Stross – sci-fi writer. We live in microchips!!!!

          3. cnchal

            . . . Science now is a very few short decades from ending death as we know it . . .

            Highly likely that the technology to do that will be bought by those whose financial interests are hurt by that, and then shelved, just like 300 mpg carburetors were, four or five decades ago by the oil industry.

      2. AJ

        But, here’s what no one wants to talk about. It’s not people all over the world as you say. It’s people in specific parts of the world. And when it gets too difficult for them to exist in their part of the world, then they migrate to other parts of the world.
        I read some really interesting stuff a few years back about the mistakes that were made in the third world. Science/medicine gave them health care and extended their lives and increased their birth rate, but they did not have the social structure in place to cope with the population growth.
        In essence we gave them life on a grand scale, and now they’re giving us social demise on a grand scale.

        1. B1whois

          In essence we gave them life on a grand scale, and now they’re giving us social demise on a grand scale.

          By living like us. And who would not want to live like rich Americans? Perhaps we should focus on changing incentives rather than demonizing those who accept our poorly-thpught-out measures of success.

      3. I Have Strange Dreams

        Poverty causes high birth rates, not the other way round. “Organised” religion does not have quite the effect you think it has. Education and higher living standards lead to reduced birth rates.

      4. backwardsevolutionm

        Vatch – really enjoy your posts. Thank you. I agree with you. Religion and over-population appear to go hand-in-hand. I remember reading about a fellow who went to South America to try to help the people out. He said he might (a big “might”) have been able to help if the Church had stepped aside, but, no, he ended up coming home after a few years and realized that until these people find a new religion (hopefully not full-blown kill-everything-in-sight capitalism), they were doomed. There really is no helping people who will not help themselves.

    2. jrs

      Yea pretty much. I mean using immigration to lower labor costs is just that, a very cynical move of the corrupt status quo, but it’s mostly just the capitalist status quo we have long known. But AS IF all the refugees flooding Europe is just entirely about lowing labor costs. No, that’s mostly war though with a climate component. And climate refugees will be a real thing, much of the U.S. as well may become uninhabitable from what I see.

      Oh sinnerman, where you gonna run to?
      Sinnerman, where you gonna run to?
      Where you gonna run to?
      All along dem day

      So I run to the river, it was boilin’
      I run to the sea, it was boilin’
      I run to the sea, it was boilin’
      Along dem day

      Those best able to protect themselves from climate chaos will probably be those who contributed the most to the problem (a direct function of wealth within and across countries).

      1. craazyboy

        We haven’t even considered the possibility yet that 40 million Cal-ee-for-ni-ans will need to migrate eastward. Actually, I have considered it. When I work out my brilliant migration plan from AZ (having already moved from CA to make room for Chinese and Indian environmental refugees) I’ll let everyone know here. But I haven’t got it worked out yet.

        1. different clue

          Probably the best parts of America to find oneself living in when 30 or so million Californians try to flee back EOTS (East Of The Sierra) would be those parts of America which are so unfashionable and so bereft of the kind of high class/ high fun entertainment culture featured in San Frisco and Ell Ayyy and stuff like that there . . . . that no Coastal Californian could bear to live there. Of course that would only work if one could guarantee one’s OWN survival in such places.

          I’m thinking of places like Dismal Seepage, Minnebraska . . . or Broken Brick, Tennesota. Or other such places that one might have in mind.

    3. Ishmael

      William — you are playing the sympathy card. Those Turk guards realize it might mean what they are doing could allow their families and children will have a future. On the other hand you could let them through and they continue having their large families while at the same time more come to the border wanting in because the last made it until your country is no better than where they came from.

      When Napoleon was in Egypt it had a population of 2 million, in 1960 it was 20 million and now it is 82 million. Wonder why there is poverty now.

      A long time ago I was told that I was not a very sympathetic person. My response was “Do you know what color sympathy is? Red and I have seen it all over the floor!” Well really I am very sympathetic, I just know when you allow your emotions become the overall driver of your decision process it ends poorly!

      1. William C

        No. I am not playing any cards. made it very clear I do not have any answers.

        But I do have lots of questions.

      2. William C

        No. I am not playing any cards. I made it very clear I do not have any answers.

        But I do have lots of questions.

      3. cnchal

        . . . Those Turk guards realize it might mean what they are doing could allow their families and children will have a future. . .

        I am calling bullshit right here. It is demented to ascribe the killing of children by Turkish border guards as some type of ‘self prosperity logic’.

        1. jrs

          Other than being a REALLY weird argument for not procreating (because it makes you into a willing murderer according to some …) … yea not sure what that horrifying comment was all about. And no I don’t think you need to be a racist to question immigration. But to defend murdering children I don’t know what you have to be but it’s not anything good.

          Turkish guards do that … well aren’t Turkish policies pretty brutal anyway even when not regarding immigrants, and I don’t mean ages ago, but in their treatment of the Kurds today and so on. But they probably don’t act entirely alone. They are the gateway to Europe there.

  8. Thomas Williams

    We in the construction industry have been pointing this out for 40 years. Glad the rest of the US is waking up.

    1. casino implosion

      Yes we have, haven’t we.

      Odd how “the rest of the US”, ie the class of people who make opinion, seems to be waking up right in sync with the H1B visa issue and the threat of immigration and outsourcing to professionals, keyboard jockeys, and people who have always seen themselves as above the fray when it came to immigration, because of their “skills” and “education”. For decades we’ve been hearing “go back to school” from these people, and now they’re starting to see the light, a day late and a dollar short. Well, We. Told. You. So.—cold comfort but it’s something.

      1. Ishmael

        Casino — sorry I have been awake for a long time. I was talking about legal immigration. Illegal immigration destroys jobs for everyone from construction workers (I worked my way through college working on plumbing and AC until I got my journeyman’s license), cooks, gardners and etc. My wife who was is very liberal when she first heard my solution close to 40 years ago was appalled.

      2. craazyboy

        I went to college when I was 18 in the 70s, and I was amazed to see the pictures of the graduating Master’s Degree class. Almost all Indian and Chinese! I pinched myself and found I wasn’t dreaming either.

        Then in the last half of the 90s, we were inundated with Indian programmers. Russian programmers too. I worked at one small consulting place were there was about a 3:1 ratio between Russians and Indians vs Americans. I recall one time standing near a map of the US with 3 Russians. One said, “You have a lot of land in this country!” Having grown up under the Cold War, I did get sort of a Weird Feeling, but decided on giving a quick US Geography lesson anyway. I said, “the big brown western third of the map signifies desert. As in no water. This big long ridge going up and down here we call the Rocky Mountains. The states along the top of the map are like Siberia. The big green part in the middle is like Ukraine. We grow our food there. Then we get to this eastern part here, and that’s like the Province of Los Angeles, except the weather is crappy. Down here is the South. That’s the slummy part.

        Russians are known for their cynical sense of humor and I did get a couple chuckles.

        Then, looking at the data, at the end of the dot com crash and y2k work load, which had caused Congress to up the limit on H1Bs to half a million multiyear H1Bs per year, we entered a recession, but Congress did not reduce the annual limit on H1Bs until 2004 – after the recession ended! For comparison, today’s limit on H1Bs is 100K/year.

        So I think some us have been noticing a long while. It just takes 2 or 3 decades for the news to get noticed by the powers that be.

      3. cocomaan

        And even the academics with terminal degrees are seeing wages stagnate.

        Ph.D.s still earn a significant premium over others in the labor market and their overall rate of unemployment remains low, though a growing number are taking jobs that don’t use their education. At the same time, their median incomes have been falling. Computer scientists earned $121,300 in 2013, down from $129,839 in 2008; engineers saw a drop to $120,000 from $125,511 and social scientists fell to $85,000 from $90,887.

      4. jrs

        And when half the U.S. has to migrate because of climate problems, will people then wake up to the fact that they too have become immigrants and immigration isn’t so black and white? A decade of two from now: I Told You So. It’s coming.

        1. craazyboy

          I’m hoping US citizens moving within the borders of the US will still be just called “moving” and not immigration, or worse yet, illegal immigration. But I’m keeping my birth certificate in a safe place in case I need papers to get admitted to my birth state next to the Great Lakes. Keeping my fingers crossed they don’t melt down a nuke power plant into the Great Lakes. That would be a bummer.

      5. different clue

        Wouldn’t it be neat to see all the economics professors fired from all the Universities and Colleges in America and all the economics students watching video-lectures given by $1.00/hour economics professors in Bangladesh and Pakistan and so forth?

  9. ambrit

    When I was growing up in Miami, something similar to the Australian experience was going on. Wealthy Central and South Americans were flocking to South Florida to obtain ‘bolt hole’ dwellings. Just in case, you understand. They also bought their children in for the ‘better’ educations available. So, certain areas of South Florida became “Playgrounds of the Rich,” to be trite. Prices rose in response to the southern money flooding in. Locals became less able to meet the higher prices and downsized or out migrated. My Mom sold out and moved north to Miramar. Neither my sisters or I could imagine moving back there. We couldn’t afford the prices. Hence, South Florida has become an actual Banana Republic. A small clique of wealthy families served by a seething mass of plebs. And what a seething mass! For you data geeks, City Data on Dade County, Florida. (65% Hispanic):

    1. different clue

      Hopefully all those bolt holes for the rich will go “underwater” ( har dee har har) as the globally warming ocean rises.

  10. fajensen

    If it is not then eventually you will create the very anti-immigration pulse that you are seeking to avoid.
    Are we sure about this “seeking to avoid”? I am not so sure. I could get the suspicion that immigrants are there as the lightening rod and bullet sponge for the elite. The elites loot, cheat and run everything into the ground over several decades, then when anger peaks it is redirected to the dedicated target: The Muslims will get the same treatment as the Jews did.

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      You seem to be looking at this racially.
      I’m not.

      I see this whole immigration mess as elites with their heads up their asses, preening around with the knowledge of their good intentions and their sanctimonious dismissal of the very real problems (interconnected) of globalization, climate change, market economies where nothing matters except money (so social values are ignored), and math-based stupidity called neoliberalism.

      That’s not racism.
      That’s shitty economics.

      Shitty economics is fixable.

      1. marym

        Agree. Who knows what level of immigration the workforce would be able absorb if we were doing the work that needs to be done.

      2. jgordon

        That was a great comment! But what exactly is “good economics”? I’d argue that most of the ideas people have about raising wages, getting things moving again, and restarting growth are just as (in a different way) misguided as neoliberalism.

        In all the world today Cuba is the only example of a nation that has a sustainable economy–and that means that in the future all economies will be moving to resemble Cuba’s either by conscious choice (with a much better outcome), or by being dragged into it kicking and screaming the whole way. It looks everyone has made the collective decision to go down path number two at the moment, and both neoliberalism and MMT Keynesian stimulus are just different roads to that outcome.

        1. readerOfTeaLeaves

          Well. Apart from NC, which is Stop #1 everyday for me (and throughout many days), I’d recommend for new ideas, and give ‘The Gardens of Democracy’ (Hanaeur and Liu) a read — it’s very quick. Also, The Origins of Wealth, by Beinhocker, which is a great read.

          And actually, weirdly kind of ties in with Cuba.
          Friends who traveled there recently were telling me that b/c of petrochemical shortages, Cuba has some of the best organic food they’ve ever eaten (simple beans and rice dishes). Also, evidently the southern side has some of the last rich coral reefs, b/c they didn’t have petrochemicals leaching off their soils and into the rivers and ocean — completely different from the ‘dead zones’ in the Gulf of Mexico where the Mississippi carries pesticide wastes into the Gulf.

          So perhaps a ‘Cuban economy’, or some kind of ‘Cubano-mixed’ economy would have some health benefits?

          BTW: They also said everyone has a college degree (and no way to use it), and there is one doctor for every 120 homes. We might be smarter and healthier with a little more ‘Cuban’ mix in our economy. Just saying ;-)

          1. ambrit

            Those dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico are generally credited to runoffs of fertilizers from middle America into the Mississippi River, and then down to the sea. The fertilizers fuel explosive growth of algae that rob the waters of dissolved oxygen, asphyxiating sea fauna.
            This years ‘dead zone’ is expected to be about 5900 square miles in extent; the size of the state of Connecticut.

      3. fajensen

        I think you are right that many “elites” are probably incompetent, naive and have poor advisers, the main problem being that their wealth and influence amplifying their mistakes to stupendous levels. I call them the “Airport Lounge Segment” – we meet all these ethnic and culturally diverse people at conferences and in the business class lounges; we get along fine, but, this is all because we are all really the same tribe: A tribe of those who can afford thousands of EUR to be in this place. Many are thus generalizing from a preselected sample.

        On the street, in the ghetto, under pressure, with “competition / Markets”, interactions are very different.

        I also think that I am right in claiming that for many of our “elites”, the deliberate use of racism and ethnic / cultural divisions are just one of many tools to employ to control people and create results for whoever they represent.

        The technologies behind The East India Company lives on, they were brought home when the colonies were abandoned, refined to be used “Here”, because they work.

  11. PlutoniumKun

    Immigration is the ideal wedge issue for the right to undermine the left. The basic decency and internationalism of the left means it has little choice but to be pro-immigrant (at least for those immigrants who have arrived), while the right can use racist dogwhistles while simultaneously helping out capital by using immigration to push down wages among the lower paid (they are duty usually careful of course to make sure that professionals are not hit so much). Its very difficult to articulate a fair, non-racist policy which still seeks to restrict immigration in order to preserve the stability of communities – few have managed it. It doesn’t help that any attempt to discuss the issue is often shouted down by the identity politics branch of the left wing.

    Immigration is in reality a very difficult topic, both in terms of economics, ethics, and politics. We can’t even decide how to make a proper distinction between economic migrants, expats and refugees. But it is essential if the left is not to leave the issue to the right, which can handily hop from allowing mass immigration to push down wages, to stoking racist fears this immigration causes. As climate change and the likely hood of future wars will vastly increase immigration pressures, its vital that the left addresses the issue head on. This can only be done by discussing it openly and not shutting down discussion by cries of ‘racist!’ or whatever.

    1. oho

      Immigration is also the ideal issue for the Left to self-sabotage its goals: a progressing, just society.

      the elephant in the room: the US has a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, pan-regional permanent underclass. Makes zero sense to admit unskilled labor (and much of the skilled labor) with such an underutilized work force.

      Pre-1900, you wanted growth? It was easy. Admit warm bodies, send many of them out West to cut down old growth forests, mine coal and turn prairies into farmland. Can’t do that anymore.

      1. Disturbed Voter

        This is why the status quo is never stable in the long run. Old style exploitation has to be replaced by new style exploitation, until civilization itself hits the wall.

    2. ekstase

      This makes sense. The “permanent underclass” in the U.S. is now large enough to supply all its disposable worker “needs,” which allows room for scapegoating and excluding huge swaths of “foreigners.” We have a shrinking world with shrinking resources and the fair and just solution would be to look at it that way. But most people won’t do that. If you take too much of the world’s resources, or presume that you have a right to live in a decent part of the world but others just don’t, history can have a way of re-dividing the pie for you. A sense of fairness about how to share resources may even be the smartest strategy for our own survival.

      1. Aumua


        We are all Earthlings. We’re all Earthlings here, on Earth. The problems of some us, are the problems of all of us. That is the vision from which many of my opinions spring. We talk about uneven distribution of wealth. The U.S. is the wealthiest nation on Earth, so yes. We need to be willing to give it up. National borders are arbitrary, imaginary lines. It is time for them to become less important, not more important. Compassion is needed now, more than ever, not selfishness, not greed. There is no more time to fuck around.

        The global elite are operating beyond national borders, racial lines, and cultural divides. To defeat them and cast off the oppression that is on us WE, the Earthlings, have to do it together. Their m.o. is to keep that from happening by dividing us back into our categories. There are very real differences, among humans. We can celebrate our differences, if we keep in mind that how we are ALIKE is more important than how we are different.

  12. diptherio

    On the question of “why do they hate us?” I suggest watching the documentary Restrepo.

    As it turns out, sending a bunch of heavily-armed 19 year olds into a country where they tell the locals that they’ve to “fight the foreigners”…right after calling in an airstrike on their village…is not a good way to win “hearts and minds.” The insanity of our military policy, and the psychological devastation that policy inflicts on our soldiers, not to mention the people whose lives have been devastated by them, is apparent, and difficult just to watch a movie about. I can’t even imagine having to be personally involved…

  13. cnchal

    “Real estate on Sydney harbour for example is also from a national point of view attractive. But for foreign investors it’s also very attractive because there’s billions of dollars of wealth being generated in China.

    Actually, it’s billions of dollars stolen by the Chinese elite and off balance sheet is trillions of dollars in environmental destruction the Chinese elite are escaping from.

    1. oh

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the billions came from bribes paid by foreign companies to those officials in China.

      1. cnchal

        I would be. The money comes from a Chinese Central Bank print job or from the stolen savings of Chinese peasants.

        The guy in charge of bullet train development in China swindled one or two billion + dollars, just for himself.

        Sure, billions of dollars of wealth are being created in China, just look at Apple and Wal Mart’s cash hoard.

  14. Take the Fork

    Yet another sign that the spell is breaking… Yet another magic word is losing its power…

    I have never understood how a North American could claim to be an environmentalist and support open borders, amnesty, or any of the immigration policies presented by Democrats, Republicans (Before Trump), Libertarians or Greens. The Greens are perhaps most incoherent on the issue.

    I think it is very simple to articulate a clear policy on immigration: we can chose as a country to decrease immigration quotas to whatever level as we see fit, or to end immigration altogether. And we can chose to deport none, some, or all of the people who entered this country without permission. There is nothing racist about this. “Fair” is what we decide it is. If we have rewrite or repeal the 14th Amendment, so be it. If we have to change the wording on the statue of liberty, our threatened and endangered species and ecosystems may thank us for it.

    1. Ishmael

      I have never understood how a North American could claim to be an environmentalist and support open borders, amnesty, or any of the immigration policies

      Take the Fork — Exactly. That is the main reason I refer to them as Libertards. Maybe offensive but only someone totally retarded can believe both of these arguments.

    2. Aumua

      Ok, please explain how open borders adds to the ongoing global environmental destruction by Humanity? I don’t see it, honestly, but maybe I’m just a retard.. I’m willing to entertain the idea.

  15. casino implosion

    I notice today that the grad-student socialist rag “Jacobin” has published a piece along the same lines, surely a first for them. Maybe even academic lefties and underemployed teaching assistants are finding the hysterical liberal victim-blaming a bit shrill now. But who will carry the guilt for the sins of America, if not the benighted, bigoted and tasteless White Working Class?

    1. Take the Fork

      First we need to jettison this guilt-notion. “Sins of the Father” is counterproductive monotheistic horse-hockey. Then we can start with a few propositions.

      No American alive today bears any responsibility for the enslavement of Africans.

      No American bears any responsibility for Nazi atrocities (for that matter, no European under the age of 70 bears any either).

      Some Americans may still live who were apologists for Marxist regimes and who could in some sense be might be held responsible for those crimes. But in the spirit of reconciliation we ought to forgive them once the acknowledge their wrongdoing. We can start with Noam Chomsky.

      Ditto for those who supported thuggish anti-Marxist violence and oppression in Latin America. Jeane “Nobody’s Baby” Kirkpatrick is dead, so maybe we can begin with Henry Kissinger. Unless we decide to extradite him to Chile…

      But who will carry the guilt for the sins of America… ? Hmm… Maybe we can start with the people who have so demonized the White Working Class? Paybacks are hell.

      1. jrs

        What about the Iraq war? (and all the other wars in the middle east). Why focus on ancient history, the horrible truth is recent enough. Truthfully I mostly blame the ruling class.

    2. Michael

      Sorry, dude, I know too many of the White Working Class. They are the classic example of vile, abusive people who are (true) getting hosed. I have desire to end their systematic oppression, but they don’t stand in solidarity with one another for very good reasons.

  16. Elliot

    How are the numbers the US accepts arrived at? Per population replacing, per industry allowed, or a combination? It sounds like the US is basically using immigration as political football or class warfare (bring in cheap bluecollar/pink collar labor, bring in cheap tech workers… keep out professional workers (lawyers/doctors/??). Is there a brief ‘cliff notes version’ somewhere that shows how our immigration is alloted?

    ….And if we could outsource Congress to a call center in Venezuela, could we perhaps replace our reps with non-Pharma dependent, non Military Supplier dependent, people?

    1. Ishmael

      The US population has grown since I was a kid at around 200 million to the current level of 320 million. I would also point out that at the same time the amount of natural resources including water in this country has been on a steady decline? Does this make sense! I say No. Personally, I would say stop all immigration until we get a better handle on where we are at and where we are going. Enforce our immigration laws and repeal the anchor baby situation retroactively may 10 years back. If you put large fines on hiring illegals on business most illegals will leave on their own.

      1. Barmitt O'Bamney

        The US population has grown since I was a kid at around 200 million to the current level of 320 million.

        And I would add that it has grown in largest part due to immigration. At around 225 – 250 million, the native born population of the US had leveled off its birth rate to match its death rate. That was headline news back in the day. The difference between then and now has been children of immigrants and fresh waves of 1st generation, legal and otherwise. What the native born population’s birth death replacement rate would have done absent the foreign influx can’t be known for certain. The economic pros and cons of this population increase can be debated. But the environmental cost has been an indisputable disaster.

  17. TG

    Kudos! So refreshing to hear a progressive not knee-jerk that opposition to a cheap-labor immigration policy is ‘scape-goating immigrants’.

    Of course, this is part of a larger picture, which is the third-world population explosion, that has been deliberately created – either by encouraging large families (think Syria’s policy of banning birth control, and Turkish prime minister Erdogan’s demand that all woman have a minimum of three children each, etc.etc.), or by simply banning any reference to the downside of too-rapid population growth.

    Cheap labor uber alles.

  18. optimader

    1.) it would be interesting to see the head count and education/skill level (which goes directly to the motivations) of the immigrant populations by geography.
    East Indians are a very different set of circumstances than Chinese, Central Americans, Mexicans and MEasterners and East and West Europeans.

    2.) RE: the ME, with regard to the CNN program, a good editor would only need about 15 min of air time to establish why (some of them) hate us and the flipside why some want to immigrate here. Otherwise, no doubt the program goes into the weeds w/ wrong assumptions and wrong conclusions.

    My perspective at this point in time is to completely disengage from the ME, remove our American (western footprint), other than possible some mutually agreed trade and tourism. Let ME petroleum production/ price find other partners and reach it’s new equilibrium world market price.
    Remove all the US military projection which is a huge financial and resource burden that is hidden overhead paid by US taxpayers.
    These are some of the oldest cultures/societies in civilization, For the most part, very culturally different, than what is considered acceptable in the US societal “melting pot” . Why not let them self organize autonomously and do their own thing?

    I think an argument can be made for – pick a sunset date, say 10 years? from now for a substantial moratorium on ME immigration, while we try and provide mutually agreed on resources as is possible/practical to restore infrastructure elements of their countries that we have destroyed … and maybe that relationship is not even possible due to the well being so poisoned.

    3.) The birthright citizenship thing is arcane and ridiculous. The US hardly needs to build up a population anymore.
    Canada, you can make an argument, I suppose, (but it seems that they all want to live in Vancouver anyway?)

  19. Gaylord

    Imperialism is the culprit. People wouldn’t have risked everything to emigrate if they had had a decent life with opportunities where they grew up, and if the system in place there hadn’t allowed the US-backed corporations to exploit their people. We come back to root causes: the love of money and the destruction of so much that it wreaks. The only answer is redistribution of wealth, but we know that won’t happen. Instead we will see further worsening of inequality, instability, migration, environmental degradation, and mass death… an ignominious end to the severely flawed human species that refuses to evolve.

    1. Ishmael

      OH give me a break with your socialist freaking ideas. Redistribution! Failure!

      Now should we confiscate ill begotten gains from those is the financial service industry and govt (think Clintons, Federal Reserve, Treasury Department) who have gamed the system. Damn straight but taking money who have worked hard all their lives is the thinking of losers! Go live in Venezuela if you want to see how that worked out!

      1. Vatch

        Correct initial distribution is needed, and redistribution is only necessary because oligarchs all over the world have stolen so much from so many.

        But massive levels of immigration won’t solve anything. It will just provide cheaper labor for giant corporations, rich individuals, and rich families in the destination countries. Wages for most will drop. Massive immigration is not a solution to maldistribution, because it takes wealth from lower and middle income people, and it shifts that wealth to the very rich.

        1. Aumua

          Tell me, if the very rich are just moving their factories to the other country anyway, then how is immigration even a factor of maldistribution? Think on a global level, not just a national one. That’s what the globalists are doing.

          1. Vatch

            Immigration probably isn’t a big factor in the demise of U.S. factory jobs, because so much manufacturing has been moved to other countries, as you point out. But there are other types of jobs that are significantly affected when the job market is flooded by workers who accept lower wages. A large number of service industry jobs fall into this category, as well as many computer and STEM jobs.

            1. Zach Braff

              1. I work in “computer jobs”, and the problem here is also outsourcing, not immigration. I work with several people on visas, and it’s a special type of hell to have to deal w/ that bureaucracy. For one thing, their jobs have to be re-advertised constantly, because if any qualified American applies, they lose their job. (If enough Americans could do their jobs, they wouldn’t be allowed to have those positions in the first place.) Some of them have lived here for many years, their children grew up and go to school here, and yet their existence is so precarious. It’s terrifying to imagine.

              2. What “service industry jobs” are you even talking about

              3. “accept lower wages” — that’s some faux-economics bullshit. I grew up in the rust belt, where no one has immigrated since before WWII (except Southerners, West Virginians & other “rednecks”), and the factory workers there were still pushed to accept more work for lower pay, lower pay, lower pay, until the jobs left anyhow. Americans on the whole are “accepting lower wages” since 1970 or so — because when the owner class says you have to or don’t eat, you do. You could close all borders to people and trade, unless you get a real union (not like the UAW) or a worker-controlled company, you still won’t be able to set your own wages or work.

              4. Fuck jobs. Jobs suck — we don’t need more jobs, we just need effective access to food, health care, education and personal fulfillment outside of our paychecks

              A lot of you in this thread are trying to be all “I’m not being racist, but but but” — You’re blaming people who have literally no power to change anything for ruining America. You say it’s “the elites” who “scheme” to get immigrants into this country to rip us off, just so they can stay rich, but you’re just griping that Americans (white middle class ones) were better paid in the 60s — You’re not even trying to envision a different setup where “the elites” have less power. You’re just imagining one where, secure behind our ICE & DHS -guarded fortress walls, there’s a little more money to go around.

              If you want a way forward, it’s through forming solidarity with other exploited peoples (yes, both here and globally) and FORCING things to get better.

              If that sounds like socialism to you, I don’t care, fuck off — You must be an old baby boomer who believed everything they told you when you were little about the Red Monster hiding under your bed

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                High rates of un and underemployment create labor slack. That gives employers bargaining leverage. They would not be able to require workers to accept lower wages unless they were confident they could find replacements.

                Your comment about the Rust Belt is nonsense. I lived in Ohio and Michigan in the 1960a and 1970. Both states were growing and doing well. And we were “immigrants,” my father having moved from Oregon. The auto industry (and hence autp suppliers too) didn’t start hurting in a serious way until the early 1980. And if you look at the data, when they lost massively to the Japanese was right after Volkcer raised interest rates to the sky. The dollar went from being weak to being very strong. The Japanese made huge inroads on the back of the cheap yen in 30 months that they never gave up. It was so obvious a problem that free marketer Ronald Reagan’s administration negotiated the Plaza Accord in 1985 to drive the yen up.

                1. Zach Braff

                  I do understand the argument. Of course a tight labor market in a particular industry will drive the price of that labor up, up to a point — maybe I’m being overly-skeptical of the inverse. IANA economist, but it doesn’t strike me as true, the idea that more immigration leads to a worse economy. And if immigration depresses wages, can’t we use collective bargaining and minimum wage increases to mitigate the damage? Presumably immigration isn’t decreasing profit or prices, so there isn’t less money to go around, just an opportunity to give less of it back to workers.

                  When I threw out 1970, I had in mind (A) the graphs of flat-lining real wage increases across the US and (B) my family’s experiences with steel mills closing, starting in the 70s. I’m assuming that may have been from Nixon opening trade with China, but I don’t know. (In my area, tho auto plants declined, they were still the best jobs available all through the 90s, it was other industries, mostly steel, leaving that wrecked us.)

                  Also I was thinking of (C.) this great chapter about auto plants in Lordstown, OH and the struggle between workers and their managers, both from the union and company, when they were pushed from putting out 60 cars in an hour to almost 120 (because GM’s profit margins had declined from 10% to 7%) — — really interesting read into the sociology/politics/contemporary history at play, and how the unions were useless for most workers

      2. I Have Strange Dreams

        Shouting “Socialist!” as an epitaph marks you out as a political and economic naïf; the overuse of exclamation marks is also telling. Being overexcited and given to emotional outbursts is not conducive to rational analysis.
        The reason Venezuela is in economic straits has to do with it having a fixed exchange rate and plummeting commodities prices. Over reliance on oil to the detriment of the rest of the economy goes back to right wing regimes. The elites of Venezuela have had very little of their wealth distributed to the poor. I suggest you develop skills in research, logic and reasoning before you blow your top again.

        1. myron

          Bro, how you gonna dredge up that umlaut i for naif and then use the word “epitaph”?

  20. Chris Geary

    Being an immigrant myself it is a bit disconcerting to read the comments here. But y’all are only underscoring the fact that under a neoliberal financialized capitalist system which has been in crisis for some time, immigrants are fair game for blame.

    Most of the immigrants I know are “economic migrants” who moved here to survive and help their families back home survive. Anchor babies, rich expats & parking money in housing may be common particularly in the coastal cities but I doubt if they’re anything other than a minority of cases. Most immigrants don’t come here to have babies and then jetset b/n home & here.

    H1-Bs are certainly abused by companies particularly outsourcing(usually Indian) but they happen to be the only way for students to remain legal in the country. and I can tell you it is already very difficult to secure a work visa even after graduating with an advanced degree. Im all for reform to H1B but I never see that aspect discussed.

    We haven’t even got to the fact that it is Europe – not the US that has to bear the consequences of the wilful destruction of Middle East societies & the “Washington consensus” policies that destroyed the social infrastructure of many African countries.

    I think also imagining that absent of immigration tight labor markets would be present is ignoring the various tools available to prevent “wage inflation”. Im almost certain “tighter monetary policy” would have been the case for example.

    Ultimately one has to fight to dismantle the capitalist economic system- particularly it’s current manifestation if you actually want stable functioning societies not just here but globally(reducing or eliminating socio-economic pressures to move). The enemy is capital, particularly globalised financial capital that is now highly concentrated and distorting life everywhere.

    Side note: I always get amused when people talk to me about immigrants not realizing I am one myself. Im less amused when I think about the history of this country – we’re almost all immigrants/descendants

    1. Take the Fork

      H1-B’s are certainly abused. But illegals are abused far more often and far more terribly. They should be humanely escorted home and their employers fined and imprisoned.

      We here do bear a large share of the blame for the Syrian refuge debacle. To atone for Bush’s catastrophic Iraq invasion and the consequent Syrian tragedy, I propose that the US immediately shift all aid money from Egypt and Israel to individual European nations so that they may better secure their borders and resettle migrants in their country of origin. If their country is a war zone, they can be re-settled in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, perhaps South Africa.

      Don’t try to confuse the issue. Immigrants are immigrants. Descendants are descendants. And as I see it, until the proletarian utopia has arrived, it is citizens who should decide who can come, who can stay and who can go. Not corporations. Not un-elected officials. Not international organizations. Not our welcome guests. And certainly not trespassers.

      Every day more citizens here are waking up and choosing not to make the mistake that this continent’s aboriginals did.

      1. Aumua

        Yeah. Comparing our current situation in America to that of the Native Americans before the whites came is.. audacious. I’ll give you that.

    2. Beniamino

      If you go back far enough, virtually everybody on the planet is a descendant of migrants, many times over. Nothing particularly unique about the U.S. in that respect.

      With respect to Europe allegedly bearing the brunt of U.S. foreign policy in the form of increased immigration, most European countries have been actively complicit in U.S. foreign policy for several decades. (Interesting that Khomeini and Polanski could obtain French citizenship but that Snowden’s application was rejected out of hand – under a “Socialist” administration, no less). Not to mention that many European countries have their own fairly recent histories of aggressive colonialism – mainly the U.K. and France, but “there are others” as Alan Partridge would say. Britain and France might be able to absorb more Syrians if hadn’t hadn’t already admitted so many people from formerly occupied and depredated territories (e.g., Pakistanis and Algerians).

    3. Ishmael

      Even though I am not going to diminish the blame of Bush the Idiot for Iraq (Afghanistan was already a basket case) and Hitlary for Syria (even though Syria had been spreading terrorism over the ME for 30 years) and Libya, a big chunk of the ME problems comes down to the out of controlled birth rate. As I sighted else where Egypt was at 2 million at the time of Napoleon, 20 million in 1960 and 82 million now.

      At the same time France went from a population of 26 million to its current population of 64 million.

      The number one problem in the ME is out of control breeding.

    4. Vatch

      A lot of the people whom you suspect of criticizing immigrants are really criticizing the process of large scale immigration. Most of the immigrants don’t personally deserve blame; it’s the employers and their stooges in the government who are causing the problems.

  21. Gunter

    I like how the comments section has turned into a moan about immigrants rather than a discussion, as good as the article above, about how immigration can be used to enhance everyone’s life in that country.

    By the way, agree with Chris Geary above,especially about how difficult it is already to get a job as a foreign student after an advanced degree. It seems like no one here is really winning apart from the corporations.

    1. bdy

      Yep. Pretty strong consensus for “circle the wagons and wait for the die-off.” A deeply cynical position for citizens of the Last Great Empire – ya know the one that officially put mass extinction on the table at Hiroshima, before promptly gorging on 1/4 of the world’s resources via klepto-extraction.

      (“‘Tweren’t me I voted for Perot . . .

      . . . “‘Tweren’t me I drive a Leaf.”)

      Not racist, anyway, if that somehow lifts demerits.

      Me I say cooperate and fight like hell for dignity and decency to every last human being. But what’s that in the face of “there’s us folks who were already here yesterday, and those that won’t get here ’til tomorrow, and no amount of libtard fantasy gon’ change that”?

      1. home for wayward trout

        I guess you have me pegged because I do drive a Leaf.

        I’ve been some kind of progressive my whole life but not one the DNC would approve of. Much of my life I’ve been an environmentalist in small Western towns so I’m used to being ridiculed and I’m used to being right in the long run (and never getting credit for it).

        Now I’m getting used to being called a racist because I think we need to seriously restrict immigration for numerous reasons.

        I think there is a much better argument to call guilt mongers of Western Civilization racists. I’ve seen too much of the indigenous exploitation and deprivation that goes on in the rest of the world to apologize for anything my ancestors did in the last 100 years.

      2. Aumua


        It may be true that “questioning immigration is not racism.” But those with eyes can see that it’s quite difficult to question immigration without opening the door for racism to walk right in, sit down on the couch, put its feet up on the table, and start spreading its propaganda, starting with the “I’m a reasonable guy” arguments, and then proceeding from there. The same old pattern as always. Evidence this very discussion.

  22. Jeff N

    this is why the phrase “immigration reform” doesn’t just mean helping poor Mexican families,
    it means more tech visas for Indian workers.

  23. timotheus

    CNN could also have produced a piece with the same title (Why Do They Hate US?) showcasing a few evangelical preachers who celebrated the Orlando massacre. But of course then they would have to “balance” it with lots of interviews with reasonable sounding Christian fundamentalists explaining why we should respect the beliefs of people who quote the Bible about smiting and stoning homos before the 49 victims are in the ground.

    1. BradK

      When it comes to clickbait, Islamic terrorism tops ho-hum homophobia any day. And CNN is the master of clickbait.

  24. Ottawan

    Part of the North American perspective on immigration is fed by easy internal migration. Canadians are always moving to money or the job, for ex. What’s funny is that those who live in “low opportunity” areas of Canada are told they’re lazy unless they move and find jobs in booming areas, and then scorn is heaped on those from outside Canada doing what they’re asking the rurals to do. This contradiction popped up big time when we had a spate of reports of abuses of an international temporary worker program.

    I get the article, though. Sensible. But you gotta wonder whether the capacities of govs are sufficient to enable a “sustainable” immigration program. Ours (Canada’s) plainly does not have that capacity and its difficult to imagine a way to make that happen. Immigration is weird thing that builds its own momentum – Family reunion policies spring to mind. Hard to put a ceiling on things that are so tied up with basic civility or generosity.

    Besides, how do you gauge criteria of “sustainability” anyway? Besides the obvious attempts to feed unsustainable business ventures like those of our spate of worker program fraudsters, it isn’t obvious at all.

  25. Pavel

    Just a data point here, as I’m of mixed minds about all this — apart from believing there is widespread H1B visa abuse in multiple industries.

    My father ran a postdoc program in a very high level university for many years. At its peak in the 2000s and early 2010s here is a rough listing of the country of origin of his junior colleagues over a 10 or so year span:

    –South Korea

    Among the 20 or so postdocs I encountered in his department over this period (on a casual basis only I confess) I remember only one “native born American”.

    Again, this is a very high-level and world famous institution (which shall go nameless). The foreign countries sponsored the postdocs, who made appallingly low stipend wages (perhaps $40K at best per year) but then they returned to their country of origin with a “technology transfer”.

    I’m not blaming anyone here, except to say that the postdoc salaries seem very low indeed, and this is in a very important and strategic area of research. Strange times.

  26. John

    There shouldn’t be one foreigner
    in this country taking a job
    from an American.

    This, and this more than anything
    is why Trump has a chance
    at the White House.

    Because he says he will get them out.
    Even if he only means illegals
    rather that all work visa foreigners.

    And even if he will never do it.

    He SAYS he will.

    And that is enough to people
    who have no jobs or are terrified
    of losing their job.

  27. cassandra

    I do think that this analysis is complete as regards immigration from Mexico and South America. I’d place Islamic immigration in a separate category, but I do agree with the gist your statement:
    “What do you expect when you train people to think that the woman behind the checkout counter who wears a headscarf has an AK-47 at home?” And that isn’t much of an exaggeration.
    I strongly agree, that some, if not most, of what’s loosely characterized as islamophobia does contain a strong component of xenophobia. But the fact hat some opinions on this matter may be ill-founded, doesn’t prove that all are.

    When I encounter political ideas, I often try to pursue them far enough down the rabbit hole to understand why advocates hold their beliefs. Often (e.g., snake people) you find amusing and unfounded folklore, so you emerge and shake off the dust. Other times (e.g. neoliberal austerity economic theories), you find the ideas really are not well founded, but do support powerful interests, suggesting that the ideology is propagandistic. Yet again, when you query on what grounds Paul Krugman would disagree with Steve Keene, you find the emperor has no clothes.

    But sometimes, you go down the hole and find something very unexpected; in the case of islam, a viewpoint that I initially thought was essentially prejudicial, turned out to be well-founded.

    Short story: I’ve listened to and read several people who are castigated elsewhere: Bill Warner, Robert Spencer, Steven Coughlin, and Philip Haney. But after hearing their discussions, and especially after seeing them debate opponents, I’ve come to respect their conclusion that Islam constitutes a unique political threat to western countries. I urge you to examine their arguments and make your own judgment.

    This position departs so far from what is found in common discourse that no concise apoIogetics are possible. I do realize how controversial this is, and I’m willing to shake off the cobwebs if I’ve deceived myself. But given that European satirists of Islam have been murdered, and newspapers and universities fear to reproduce the offending examples, I feel that this issue deserves informed consideration. And, that it is an issue distinct from simple immigration.


  28. John

    The typical liberal response to immigration is “don’t be racist.” and charge that people who want to see immigration more tightly controlled are racist. This, however, does not form the basis of a sensible policy. If the only thing we have to say on the matter is “don’t be racist,” than why not have completely open borders?

    1. Zach Braff

      I’m not sure anyone is in this thread still, but I’d like to see that addressed: Why not have completely open borders?

      (Let’s assume that all employers are required to comply with minimum wage and other labor laws, taxes are collected mostly-fairly from all actors thru sales & payroll & residential taxes, and a legal residence is required for government services)

      Maybe if we start there, we can figure out what we want/don’t want immigration for.

    1. backwardsevolutionm

      “… it is one thing to reluctantly cave to political pressure from the industry and universities…” There you have it. Big money won. They just keep pumping out new graduates, and we all know what happens with supply and demand when that occurs. But the elite don’t care when their own pockets are being greased. Ross Perot was right when he said that they will reduce U.S. wages to $6.00/hr. and bring the rest of the world up to $6.00/hr.

      “But in the meantime you’ve wrecked the country.”

      As if offshoring jobs wasn’t enough, now they’re bringing in foreign workers and training them? What next? You just can’t make this sh*t up.

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