What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.


What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

Still standing athwart.

We’re coming up on two full years of wrestling with the immigration question in a highly public way. The striking fact is this: catastrophe has been averted. We have, admittedly, made precious few positive steps toward improvement; but fewer still have been the advances of that plutocracy which conspires to subjugate the Republic on this issue. A stubborn, noble resistance endures. I find this remarkable.

The weight of elite opinion — business, government, media, intelligentsia, ecclesiastic — is quite overwhelming. In virtually every field of affairs, the elite wants “comprehensive” reform and will not compromise toward an incremental policy of enforcement by attrition. Its failure bespeaks the lasting vitality of American democracy

We hear a lot about that “small but vocal” anti-immigration faction. We might as well talk about the small but vocal anti-Communist faction that drove Liberals to distraction throughout the Cold War, finally culminating in the twin landslides of Reagan victories. Or we might as well talk about the small but vocal Federalist faction in the late 18th century. It is true that that these factions, too, were opposed, bitterly opposed; but this does not vitiate the plain fact that they were broadly popular coalitions of opinion.

The Federalist gives us a fine phrase to describe enduring coalitions of opinion that shape the politics of the Republic: the deliberate sense of the people. The deliberate sense of the American people favored a federal constitution bringing the several States into a national union. The deliberate sense of the people opposed Communism on principle, judged it not merely unworkable but wicked and menacing, and set itself stubbornly against it.

Today the deliberate sense of the American people is against immigration. Its persistence is amply demonstrated, not least in the fact that even a dramatic change in congressional majority could not shake it loose. We opponents of immigration were warned in strident terms, back in late 2006, that parlay was our only option: “Work for the least bad bill you can get,” they told us, “because once the Dems take the Congress, you’ll get steamrolled with something even worse.” Didn’t happen, and not for lack of effort. I suppose the next piece of pedantry will be: “sue for peace, you fools, or the next President (Clinton) will sign a bill that makes these current ones look like child’s play.”

Sorry; not buying that one either. The great virtue of the anti-immigration coalition, like so many achievements of Conservatism in the past, is its transcendence of party. This is why I have long thought that the real dynamic at work is party versus party but plutocracy versus democracy.

The open borders bloc takes Leftist sloganeering and unites it to Capitalist financial muscle — a potent mix to be sure, but rather unpopular. Capitalism may be popular enough, but in this it is heavy-laden by an alliance with an ideology of national dispossession. The Leftist bromides amount to a repudiation of American sovereignty, a concomitant embrace of managerial bureaucracy, and a general drift toward European-style soft despotism. Take that collection of policies to the American people and see what they think of it. To this abortive ideology of dispossession the plutocracy adds the emollients of profit and prosperity, generally formulated in the negative: our economy needs cheap labor.

Without the patina of free enterprise, without the conceit that nationality is an impediment to prosperity, and citizenship to free markets, the whole project would be quite doomed. Left-wing globalization is about as unpopular a system as one can imagine. But right-wing globalization: now there is an idea with some legs. Making bureaucratic despotism, a la the EU, our world empire, fills most sane men with visceral horror; but making American Capitalism our world empire is a more cunning and seductive sophistry. That the anticipated empire may be Capitalist, but it won’t be American, is a difficult proposition for optimistic Americans to credit. A lot of Americans really believe that everyone else is just America-in-embryo.

Thus the open borders bloc unites the elites of both parties against the people themselves. Plutocracy vs. democracy.

Before the 2006 election, I ventured recklessly to offer advice to GOP House candidates on how to hold their seat: defend the House’s “obstructionism” on immigration. Defend without apology that body’s heroic resistance to the overthrow of our national sovereignty. I venture now, in light of this fascinating report, the same advice:

“Fellow citizens, I know almost everyone is lecturing you about the need for what is called ‘comprehensive’ immigration reform. I know you have heard a great deal of fulmination against the ‘obstructionism’ of the House or Senate, as the case may be. Our leading newspapers tell you that we have ‘abandoned’ immigration reform. We have done no such thing. What we have done, in fact, is quite simple: we have blocked a terrible bill. Actually several bills: Bills that are cheered by the agitators who organized great crowds of people to march on our streets, which an edge of militancy, under the flag of a foreign power — the sort of thing that earlier generations of our countrymen would not have failed to call sedition. Bills virtually written by an organization calling itself The Race. Bills that even their authors have made no serious compass of. How many more immigrants these ‘reforms’ will bring to our shores is a matter for conjecture, with the figures rounded to the nearest million. Bills that betray the good men who guard our borders; bills that insult those immigrants respectful enough of our laws to endure our bureaucracy and enter the legal way; bills that subject us all to the tyranny of King Mammon. I tell you truly, fellow citizens, that I have not the least tincture of shame in admitting that I have done everything in my power, every trick of parliamentary guile, every artifice of obstruction, to block this legislation; nor that I will continue to do so, until I have no power left. I stand on this ground — that a plutocracy connives to dispossess our beloved nation — and on this ground I ask for your vote.”

Comments (17)

I'd love for the above speech, or something sufficiently similar thereto, to be taken up by some element of the political class. It's quite inspiring, and I believe that it would possess considerable resonance - particularly if adopted by a national party. Alas.

Sovereignty? Deliberate sense of the people?


For me, it's much simpler - I don't want to pay $10.00 for a head of lettuce.

In keeping with some of the lowlights of American political history, we now, apparently, require a class of exploited helots in order to ensure that stuff is cheap enough to prevent us all from starving to death.

Hey man, just grow your own. I hear lettuce grows wonderfully in seedbeds of old marijuana plants.

"a class of exploited helots"

Who said "exploited?" There are ways to keep things cheap without "exploitation." Exploitation is far, far excacerbated when it is a criminal business.

Let's legalize transient workers status, get them paying taxes, and remove the criminal element from it.

To me, that's a win-win situation.

If you're an immigration lawyer, a businessman employing transient labour, or otherwise a member of the political and economic elite, yes; otherwise, you're merely being taxed to provide social services and medical care for the transient labourers, which is a particularly grotesque and regressive form of wealth redistribution: from the middle-classes to the plutocrats and noncitizens. All, of course, because we're not the sort of nation that will ever go all Charles Dickens on the poor, whomever they happen to be.

The country benefits from the reduced price of goods. If you have data comparing the costs of employing $10/hr Americans to collect the country's produce and clean our hotel toilets with the foregone costs in social services, I would love to see it.

Otherwise, consider the humanity of the criminalization approach - the trailers stuffed with people, the cut fences in Arizona, the dehydrated crossing the desert....

It's the criminals that exploit them, not business.

I'm not much moved by the whole humanitarian worry. If we could deter the behavior, then people _wouldn't_ be going out into the desert. In a sense, our weird soft-heartedness and soft-headedness is luring people into risking their lives. We need to start enforcing our laws. As for the reduced price of goods, I'm sufficiently sympathetic to libertarian ideals that I'd consider the "$10/hr." argument to justify paying Americans less if possible. The work is there. I don't actually believe that Americans or those few _legal_ aliens that come in slowly (in my immigration-ideal world) won't do it. Yes, employers may pay more to begin with if they have only "legals" to deal with. But eventually I actually do trust the hand of the market to work that out. Maybe we should lower minimum wage!

There, that's a comment guaranteed to get me in trouble with everybody.

No, actually, the owners of the businesses employing illegal labourers benefit from their own reduced costs; reduced prices benefit ordinary Americans only insofar as they are considered purely as consumers - admittedly a commonplace reductionism nowadays - but otherwise, to the extent that those reduced prices are driven by immigration, result in employment displacement, which also seems to be racially disparate in its impact, and which exacerbates income inequality, with all that portends for the vitality of a representative government in which wealth is essentially (and legally) equivalent to speech and representation.

It's the criminals that exploit them, not business.

If I am being taxed to provide services that the wages tendered by businesses are insufficient to purchase, where the rationale of the employment of the illegals is precisely to reduce the factor shares to labour (which is all that this is, whether we are talking about the direct employment of illegals and other immigrants, or the attempt to gain leverage in bargaining with native-born employees), then both the labourers and the taxpayers are being exploited by a plutocracy. The two modes of exploitation are not mutually exclusive.

Otherwise, consider the humanity of the criminalization approach - the trailers stuffed with people, the cut fences in Arizona, the dehydrated crossing the desert.

They are neither obligated to undertake that journey, nor under any necessity of doing so; nor are they entitled to do so. They could remain in their own countries, compelling the Mexican government, in particular, to undertake the reforms that would actually improve living standards, reducing the impetus for migration. Though, concededly, American policy has been instrumental in creating the preconditions of the migration flows, first, by sending the produce of (subsidized) American agribusiness south of the border, annihilating Mexican agriculture under NAFTA; second, by first establishing maquilladora arrangements under NAFTA, only to relegate them to decrepitude when the "imperatives" of labour arbitrage "mandated" that production be shifted to China. (Never wonder why Latin American political discourses run to the left of center. Never.)

re: $10/hr and minimum wage

I specifically picked a wage that was well above minimum wage, as I think that is what would be required to pay Americans to follow seasonal work around the country.

Yes, the work is there. I don't think anyone is disputing that. It's the manpower pool. It would have to be largely mobile to follow seasonal demands and willing to work at or around minimum wage.

As for lowering the minimum wage, I'm actually less certain. It should be a "fair, livable wage." Whatever that means, I'm not totally sure.

Royale, I'm sure you are aware that there have been many economic analysts of high caliber to address the economics of immigration and find against mass unregulated immigration. Bojas at Harvard and Rector at Heritage come to mind. Someone out in California discovered solid evidence that cheap, undocumented labor is retarding technological innovation in the agricultural sector.

A picture of redistribution (i.e., a principle of socialism) starts to emerge if you consider the public expenditure outlayed, for various reasons, to noncitizens, and it is a picture of plutocracy. An aristocracy of wealth, resting upon a servile class.

Sure, some people do indeed prosper because of the current system.

That is not the same as saying America does.

And when someone begins a discussion of this by stating flatly that what really matters to him is the price of vegetables, I must say that I feel some, as it were, patriotic annoyance.

"And when someone begins a discussion of this by stating flatly that what really matters to him is the price of vegetables, I must say that I feel some, as it were, patriotic annoyance."

No offense, then apparently you miss out on satire and symbolism.

Given that your discussion began with accusing the other side of relagating America's sovereignty, I must stand up and say, in my own style - uh...no.

Given that I'm addressing several different people's assertions at once, which is hard given that not everyone against me makes the same or even compatatible claims, all I can say is show me the data. If it's more expensive to have transient workers than not, prove it. If you have the data, I'll shut up.

Also - I have never, ever said unregulated immigration was good. However, I have proposed that transient, migrant workers is a feasable, workable, and humane alternative to what we have now and is in tune with America's economic realisty. It's an argument of economic pragtism, something that nationalistic conservatives love to articulate regarding oil and global warming.

I don't want to pay $10.00 for a head of lettuce.

I have seen numbers that labor cost component of veg production is 10% of total.
However at the moment I cannot locate reference, so I will have to do a little math.

California is a major producer of lettice, min wage is $7.50/hr. Most lettice produced by large agri corps.
Small businesses may pay wages lower than min to illegals, but large businesses almost never do. Min wage law, as different from immigration status, is enforced and employer can easily get into trouble for not paying min wage.

Current retail price of lettice in CA is about $1/head.

Let's assume that production cost is 50c/head and ALL production cost is labor cost. It is not true of course but for simplicity sake we will do it.

So illegal labor at $7.50/hr produces lettice for 50c/head.

Removing illegal labor, employers will pay legal labor $X/hr and production cost will be $Y/head.

So we have

(A) $7.5/$0.5 = X/Y

If retail price is $10/head, production cost could be $5-$7.

So we have for X when Y=$5

X = 5 * (7.5/0.5) = $75/hour.

A very good wage indeed for a lettice picker.

Of course in reality employers could be found for much less, say $20/hr.

Using (A) we get:

$20/Y = $7.5/$0.5
Y = $1.33

Retail price of legal labor lettice is $2.70 under very unrealistic assumption that labor is 100% of costs.
The real model should give price below $2, perhaps below $1.5.

Your dream of cheap lettice can be fullfilled with legal labor.


I appreciate the time to do this calculation, but feel I should reiterate - I am not in favor of illegal labour, nor the status quo.

To put it simply - I don't want our migrant workers kicked out, just formalize the process and make them LEGAL.

I appreciate the time to do this calculation

You didn't understand a thing, did you?

If you have data comparing the costs of employing $10/hr Americans to collect the country's produce and clean our hotel toilets with the foregone costs in social services, I would love to see it.

I don't think you would love to see data, I don't think you will see data at all even if it lands on your New York Times while you reading it.

But here it is
1. www.heritage.org/Research/Welfare/sr12.cfm (results of life long research of Robert Rector who is the best expert on poverty demographics)

2. www.cis.org/articles/2004/fiscalexec.html (exec summary but read paper itself)

A small nugget for you to enjoy from Rector's exec summary:

In FY 2004, low-skill households received $32,138 per household in immediate benefits and services (direct benefits, means-tested benefits, education, and population-based services). If public goods and the cost of interest and other financial obligations are added, total benefits rose to $43,084 per low-skill household. In general, low-skill house­holds received about $10,000 more in government benefits than did the average U.S. household, largely because of the higher level of means-tested welfare benefits received by low-skill households.

In contrast, low-skill households pay less in taxes than do other households. On average, low-skill households paid only $9,689 in taxes in FY 2004. Thus, low-skill households received at least three dollars in immediate benefits and services for each dollar in taxes paid. If the costs of public goods and past financial obligations are added, the ratio rises to four to one.

Strikingly, low-skill households in FY 2004 had average earnings of $20,564 per household. Thus, the $32,138 per household in government immediate benefits and services received by these households not only exceeded their taxes paid, but also substantially exceeded their average household earned income.

And you want to legalize all illegal immigrants so that they can suck taxpayer just as much as legal low-skill households?

So generous of you.

So the effective 'wage' for most low-literate, unskilled, low-English proficient, is going to be more than double their actual pay for work. $8 turns out to mean $16 or more, while the median personal income of the majority is only ~24k, or ~12/hr. There's also the effect of public subsidy of seasonalization and casualization of employment, which mass immigration on to net public subsidy makes feasible. This is how hispanic median personal incomes turn out to be only half that of the majority: 12k vs. 24k. The wage differential has to be much, much smaller. Use restriction of immigration to consolidate many part-time, casual and seasonal jobs into fewer, but less-subsidized, year-round full-time ones, and at higher pay. No one loses but the prospective immigrant, and the vicious subsidy-seekers, to whom no loyalty is owed.

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