Friday, May 19, 2006

Extraterrestrials for immigration

Economists are the witch doctors of modern societies — no, I mis-speak; witch doctors were often successful at evicting evil spirits, and they were not known for selling out their tribes. Lots of our economists seem like aliens who have no contact with human beings — no, I mis-speak; according to UFO enthusiasts, extraterrestrials go through quite a spot of bother to probe any of us invited into their spacecraft.

Would you have an example of a suspected extraterrestrial economist? I refer you to Lawrence Kudlow, a talking empty head of CNBC fame, who fakes the case — no, I mis-speak; meant to say, makes the case — for borders, open 24 hours, no waiting. Or, as he blithely asks, "Fence or no fence, what's all the fuss about?"
President Bush, in his excellent speech from the Oval Office this week, signaled acceptance of fencing as part of his plan to deal with the hot-button issue of illegal immigration, and the Senate has complied with an 83-16 vote to construct a 370-mile fence along the Mexican border. History has shown that immigrants in search of freedom and prosperity will climb over, tunnel under, or circumvent any fence. But if fencing helps pass a broad-based reform bill, so be it.
History has also shown that burglars looking for property to nick will break and enter houses, although it is rumored that, all else being equal, they have a sentimental fondness for the house with no fence, alarm system, or owner who cares about whether the burglar is inside or outside. Such an owner is most likely to be an economist.

Economics, you see, tells its practitioner that he must throw open the gates.

The anti-immigration crowd also gets it wrong when it points out that the Senate compromise bill would increase the number of immigrant workers in the U.S. by roughly 61 million over the next two decades. This Heritage Foundation analysis has the fear-mongerers predicting a Mexican takeover of the United States . But we need these workers. Due to the demographic shift being caused by the baby boomers, the ratio of working-age persons in the U.S. to retirees aged 65 and over will drop like a stone from the current 4.7:1 ratio to 3.5:1 by 2030, and 2.6:1 by 2040. With the Social Security and Medicare trust funds going bankrupt, how will we manage with so few workers per retiree?
I'm no economist — thank you, God — but may I point out that Kudlow and those of his ilk never mention that almost all these imported worker bees are going to be toiling at the lowest levels of the job market, which is not exactly a prescription for bounteous Social Security and Medicare tax revenues. Nor that they will not arrive alone when they take up the brown man's burden and save the United States from its geriatric apocalypse: we will also be importing their wives, their large families, and assorted relatives, who will disgorge anchor babies, who automatically become American citizens, so that this chain-migration bonanza will carry on even unto the third, fourth, and fifth generation. Nor that for every Hecho en Mexico replacement worker, several of their relatives will be a net drain on the social welfare system, what with the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breed free in taxpayer-supported hospitals.

No, I mis-speak: here I go, getting swallowed up in Larry Kudlow's extraterrestrial point of view. You will note that in his column, there is not one word to suggest that he has the slightest conception of what mass immigration actually looks like and feels like down on the ground, how it affects neighborhoods and your way of life. Kudlow knows nothing about the about gangs your kids will face if you're not in his tax bracket and can't afford to send them to a private school. Nor about graffiti and cars on front lawns and loud parties and congested highways and amigos waving Mexican flags in your face.

How would any of those things swim into his ken? Those are earthling concerns.

To Kudlow, the immigration issue is a purely abstract question of numbers, dollars, and employees.
When he ventures out of his New York luxury digs, he's reading the latest number of The Economist on the way to JFK Airport, oblivious to the immigrant neighborhood blight outside the tinted windows. At his destination, he is whisked to the Ritz-Carlton and the ivy-clad campus where he explains why those "hotheaded conservative populists" who object to pledging allegiance to the United States of Mexico and the corruption for which it stands are so thoughtlessly stopping the Gross National Product from going into hyper-drive.

Had he ever clapped eyes on a parking lot full of illegals standing around, smoking, examining their lottery tickets, and waiting for that pick-up truck that may or may not appear; or had he driven — no, I mis-speak: I mean been driven — through the seedy barrios of east Los Angeles, there is no, er, earthly way he could write, "They would in effect become a much-needed churchgoing blue-collar middle class." The view looks a lot better from the Mother Ship in econocentric orbit.

How could any supposedly serious pundit write, as Kudlow does, "I just don’t see what all the fuss is about"? No, I mis-speak: in this, at least, he tells the truth.

Update May 21: Lawrence Auster has some comments of his own about Larry Kudlow's what's-not-to-like? routine.

1 comment:

Anton Sherwood said...

I'm reminded of the essay – in which the phrase "dismal science" first appeared – denouncing the soulless economists for their failure to appreciate the intangible spiritual benefits of a certain humane institution.