Where's Team America when you need them?

I happen to be watching The Insider, which is, apparently, an organ of the John Kerry for President campaign. It's one long blowjob. We've got Brad Pitt's “passionate stump speech” at the University of Missouri; fawning Edwards interview in Iowa; heroic clips from Going Upriver; Christopher Reeves hot wife; inside a Kerry campaign bus with Chris Heinz. Words from Bush supporters? Yup. Laura Bush saying that John Edwards is “pretty cute!” Check out the Edwards family photo album on the homepage. Sinclair ain't got nothin' on this!

  • John Thacker

    I found the article sadly incomplete, because it failed to explore at all one entirely reasonable explanation for fertility declines, one supported by data: social insurance reduces further economic incentives to have children. Instead of relying on one’s children to support one in one’s dotage, it becomes up to everyone’s children to do so. This does create a free-rider problem.

    Of course, I can understand appreciation of the sort of positive liberty created by freeing oneself from dependence on one’s children and one’s family in general (though at the same time that removes a certain incentive for parents to treat children well, I suppose), but it’s not entirely unsurprising that governments would attempt to boost fertility in response.

    Furthermore, as a counter argument, if “it is not only possible to win the argument, but that we are in fact winning it,” and you expect immigrants to acclimatize, then that contradicts Howley’s position; immigration becomes much less of a solution to the problem of social insurance, as both cultural assimilation and the economic impetus of the social insurance itself will encourage the immigrants to have lower fertility rates as well. Your robust faith therefore seems to argue that immigration is *not* a solution to the problem (while certainly not arguing for xenophobic responses.)

  • John, If I remember a conversation I once had with my colleague Jagadeesh Gokhale, who knows about as much about pension systems as anyone anywhere, there is a fertility effect from social insurance in a number of places like the U.S., but this is not especially big compared to the effect of people simply getting wealthier. Individual wealth and social insurance are both substitutes to intra-family transfers, but Soc Sec checks are small part of retirement income compared to savings and investments.

    More importantly, there is no general pattern across countries. Some places with no social insurance to speak of are declining sharply in fertility, and some places with lavish social insurance, such as France and Sweden, have relatively high birthrates. So social insurance isn’t very helpful as a general explanation. I’m sure Kerry considered it, then left it out, because it isn’t very illuminating.

  • anon

    Let’s say some cultures are good (liberal market cultures, traditionalist ones, take your pick) and some others are bad. And let’s say that in a fair fight, a good culture will beat out a bad one. Still, if certain assumptions hold — if (a) the good culture constitutes a minority of the world’s total population, (b) people acclimatize to new cultures slowly, and (c) local minorities tend to move towards the majority faster than vice versa, regardless of cultural quality — then wouldn’t mixing up the world’s whole population at once mean that good culture will be swamped by bad? In other words, wouldn’t the islands of good culture be something to be safeguarded, with entry occurring only as quickly as the process of assimilation would allow? (One could get even stronger results if it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the bunch.)

  • Your weakest premise is that conflict between cultures is an “argument.”

  • Thomas

    http://www.cato.org/event.php?eventid=2082

    The Social Security debate is focused on mundane financial issues: transition costs, benefit adequacy, the value of the Social Security Trust Fund, and so on. The program’s long-term impact on individual economic choices is much more important but generally neglected. Completely unheard in the debate, however, is the program’s potential to affect fundamental choices about family formation. A new study by Michele Boldrin and colleagues examines the link between government-provided old-age pensions and the continual dramatic reduction in fertility throughout the developed world during the twentieth century. Its compelling evidence suggests an issue that deserves serious attention as policymakers consider the future of Social Security.
    _______
    Boldrin’s paper is available at http://www.micheleboldrin.com/Papers/fert&socsec.pdf

  • I think the bad premise is that there is actually a conflict, as opposed to the perception of a conflict. The self-appointed guardians of a culture need to invent the sense of a conflict in order to press uncooperative individuals, who want something outside the approved culture, back into line.

  • Thomas

    A couple additional comments:

    –Social Security isn’t a small part of retirement income in the US. According to the SSA, it is the major source of income (providing 50% or more of total income) for 66% of the beneficiaries.

    –I think Howley ignores the evidence on the effects of social insurance programs not, as you suggest, because it is inconclusive (she cites a “plethora of explanatory narratives” but finds “none totally satisfying”–why not one more?), but because it might complicate the narrative she offers, in which pro-natal efforts and social democratic welfare state are opposed by the anti-natal libertarians (like you).

    –Howley doesn’t seem to have any interest in figuring out what counts as an incentive to have children. Is public schooling an incentive?

    –Howley mentions in passing that in the US “ending the welfare state” is part of the pro-natal agenda. One sentence later she tells us that “Practically speaking, on the policy level, demographic panic is only useful for one purpose: the promotion of social welfare programs many social conservatives would oppose.” Did she not bother to read her own article? Are there no other editors at Reason? (This is why I make the accusation I make above–there is a narrative that these sorts of pieces must fit, and this one fits.)

    –Is the psychological explanation you offer meant to explain the focus on demography in Singapore, France, Sweden, the US, Russia, Australia, Poland, Quebec, and Israel (to mention places noted in the article)? Why not think that, you know, actual demography is the concern? The demographic trends in these places are a more likely link than a universal and acultural psychological reaction, aren’t they?

    –It seems to me that in the US most people focused on demography (people like Steyn, for example) are focused on it precisely as an issue of preserving the essential core of liberal modernity. That’s why folks like Steyn spend so much time arguing about the threat that (they say) Islam and the increasing number of Muslims poses to gays in Europe. You can find the arguments unpersuasive, but there’s no need to misrepresent them.

  • Middle class culture seems to have failed in Memphis. It failed for four generations of Mexican-Americans. Perhaps in some sense it is like numerous extinct species and does not “deserve” to persist and efforts to sustain it are doomed to failure. But I will not cheer its demise.

    Let’s grant for the sake of argument that I and the demography-is-destiny crowd are bad people, while you cultural optimists are good people. Can you provide some evidence to believe that liberal culture will thrive and Phillip Longman’s Return of Patriarchy (or something similarly dismal) will not?

  • Snorri Godhi

    Before the cartoon jihad, I would have been in agreement with this essay; not only in agreement, but in strong agreement. Since then, I have changed my mind about a few things. First, “liberal market culture” might be winning in the USA, but European cultures are not winning: immigrants to western Europe do not want to assimilate — but I cannot blame them, since I escaped from western Europe myself. Second, the intelligentsia does not give a damn about dependency ratios, material welfare, etc: for them, immigration is only useful because it enables them to brand their political opponents as racists; that is the main, if not the *only* reason to oppose immigration.

    On one thing I have not changed my mind: the success of the kind of culture that I want to see around me, is not guaranteed. The kind of culture that I want to see is not very different from that of Victorian Britain, when allowances are made for technological progress; but there is no culture in western Europe that repels me more than modern English culture.

  • Kerry Howley

    Howley mentions in passing that in the US “ending the welfare state” is part of the pro-natal agenda. One sentence later she tells us that “Practically speaking, on the policy level, demographic panic is only useful for one purpose: the promotion of social welfare programs many social conservatives would oppose.”

    As is noted repeatedly in the article, pro-natalist social conservatives and social democrats tend to worry about declining birthrates for entirely different reasons. Those seeking to expand the welfare state tend to be much more successful in the realization of their policy goals, though their policy goals may not be shared by social conservatives also concerned about fertility decline. Nowhere in the piece do I say that “ending the welfare” state is part of one, unified “pro-natal agenda.” Pro-natalists who have political power generally want just the opposite.

    I think Howley ignores the evidence on the effects of social insurance programs not, as you suggest, because it is inconclusive (she cites a “plethora of explanatory narratives” but finds “none totally satisfying”–why not one more?), but because it might complicate the narrative she offers, in which pro-natal efforts and social democratic welfare state are opposed by the anti-natal libertarians (like you).

    Surely both Will and I would be favorably disposed to an argument that faulted social security for endangering other transfer programs (by discouraging the production of the people needed to fund said programs. ) But this is a story about global fertility rates, and many of the countries where fertility is falling fastest have no social security to speak of. Social insurance surely plays some small part in the demographic transition from high to low fertility in middle income countries, but the overall effect is too inconsequential to mention in a piece of this length.

  • Thomas

    Your response basically says that pro-natal conservatives don’t have any political influence in the US, which may be true.

    On the second bit, I’d think that libertarians might fault social security not just for endangering other transfer programs, but I confess that my Reason subscription has lapsed. I continue to think that an article that found room for “lad magazines” as an explanation might have found room for social welfare programs.

  • Thomas, You’re right that SS plays a fairly large role in many people’s retirement income. But I think I’m now remembering Gokhale’s broader point, which I think was that social insurance is to a large extent a substitute for self-insurance. If you reduce social insurance, the savings rate will just go up, and you’ll end up in basically the same place in terms of demand for intra-family transfers. So the effect on family formation is small. Anyway, I should look that up.

  • Kerry Howley

    I should have added in the above comment that this divide is U.S.-specific. In Europe you’ve obviously got nationalist traditionalists who support generous payments to mothers.

  • Aha! We just had a fire alarm and I talked to Jagadeesh outside. He seemed to me to say (I don’t want to commit him to my interpretation of it) the important thing is assurance of future consumption. Any credible mechanism that assures people of consumption in old age should reduce demand for kids, other things equal.. Social insurance can do that. But forced savings (aka, privatization) should have much the same effect. Many developing countries have no real social insurance, but are declining in fertility fast. In those cases part of the explanation may be improvement in savings and investment mechanisms. Anyway, the key is confidence in providing for the future. If either social insurance or sound financial institutions helps to produce that, it should affect fertility.

  • John Thacker

    Will and Kerry,

    Megan linked to this NBER paper on the subject. It agrees, as do I, that increased access to capital markets does play a role in the reduction of fertility, about half– but it also finds that the structure of social insurance accounts for the other half across a broad cross-section of countries, both rich and poor. There are some other effects in poor countries too, notability reduced child mortality meaning that you don’t need extra children as “insurance” to insure that as many will survive to support you.

    “More importantly, there is no general pattern across countries. Some places with no social insurance to speak of are declining sharply in fertility, and some places with lavish social insurance, such as France and Sweden, have relatively high birthrates.”

    You have merely pointed to exceptions that prove the rule (in the true sense of the phrase.) The countries with lavish social insurance but relatively high birthrates provide large incentives (financial and otherwise, such as benefits) to boost the fertility rate and make up for part of the effect of social insurance programs. The effect from the social insurance programs is still there, but there are counterbalancing effects by the government specifically to address the free-rider problem.

    Agree that forced savings under a privatized system would have a similar effect, though.

  • John Thacker

    “I should have added in the above comment that this divide is U.S.-specific. In Europe you’ve obviously got nationalist traditionalists who support generous payments to mothers.”

    The child tax credit does exist in the US, no, and has been expanded recently, yes? People to whom it appeals in the US obviously do exist, though not to the same degree in number or political power as in Europe, perhaps.

  • Chris in Baltimore

    I optimistically clicked on a link to come here, but unfortunately I find a typical shallow libertarian gloss. A fertility conservative (to coin a phrase) is concerned about two things you don’t seem to understand: 1) Cultural and civilizational struggles don’t typically play out as “arguments”. The Israeili Jews didn’t win an argument with the Arabs in Palestine, the white man didn’t win an argument with the red man in America, the barbarians didn’t win an argument with the Romans in Europe, etc. Many such struggles are won largely by demographic force. 2) Culture is more than superficial traits. If you think the only thing that distinguishes an Asian from a European from an African is “rites, cuisine, [and] skin color” you are quite mistaken. There are biological aspects to culture; exactly how deep these go is not clear, but the very possibility of their existence cautions us to proceed carefully with demographic changes.

  • Chris in Baltimore

    The other objection that I have to this post, which doesn’t reflect a failure to understand on your part but rather perhaps a difference in values, is that putting our culture up for “argument” isn’t something I particularly want to do- surely the best outcome from my point of view is not guaranteed if it is so put up. It is entirely possible that freedom of speech will “lose the argument” against supression of “offensive” speech. It is entirely possible that freedom of religion will “lose the argument” against Islamic theocracy. It is entirely possible that female emancipation will “lose the argument” against patriarchy. But I don’t want those things to happen! And one way to help prevent those things from happening is to preserve a place in the world where those things I value can flourish, and one way to do that is to not import into that place large numbers of people who are already culturally predisposed against those values.

  • So let us save liberalism by being illiberal, yes? Splendid.

    But apart from that hypocrisy, what evidence is there that “importing” people from illiberal cultures makes us illiberal and not the the other way around?

  • Chris in Baltimore

    mghertner wrote:
    “So let us save liberalism by being illiberal, yes? Splendid.”

    Neither immigration controls nor inducements to childbearing are “illiberal” under any definition that would have made sense to our founders (or to me).

    “what evidence is there that “importing” people from illiberal cultures makes us illiberal and not the the other way around?”

    Not sure what “the other way around” would be, but for examples of immigration leading to illiberal practices, simply look around (or read Mark Steyn’s book). Why is there female circumcision in Britain, or polygamy in Canada and the US?

  • Putnam elaborates on his celebrated work on social capital—defined most simply as social networks upon which people depend. He analyzes material from a large, nationwide study of ethnic diversity carried out in the United States in 2000. Putnam finds that trust in others is high and social capital correspondingly well-developed in homogeneous communities, such as largely white suburbs. Both are low in more diverse neighborhoods, such as ethnically mixed inner-city areas.

    Such a correlation is probably to be expected. After all, we feel most at home with people who are like ourselves. However, Putnam also finds something he didn’t anticipate: In more diverse communities, Americans distrust not only people who aren’t like them but also people who are. Diversity seems to encourage social isolation, not enrichment. In diverse neighborhoods, all citizens display lower levels of confidence in local government and media; are less likely to be involved in local voluntary groups; are less likely to vote; and have lower levels of expressed happiness.

    Source.

    Do you have evidence to support the likelihood of “the other way around”? Evidence, that is, not dependent on a 4-decade moratorium on immigration between 1924 and 1965?

    • Even taking Putnam as a given for the sake of argument, I’m not sure those findings necessarily speak to the issue of liberalism vs. illiberalism, at least as Chris is defining it, as a foreign culture threatening the very existence of American culture. Trust in others, social capital, confidence in local government and media, involvement in local voluntary groups, voting rates, and levels of expressed happiness may or may not have some connection to liberalism, but they are not identical with it, at least not identical to what Chris and I are using it to mean.

      Suppose that we found Putnam’s same results when it came to the issue of racial integration in the U.S. The entry of middle-class black families into white neighborhoods may have encouraged social isolation, distrust, lower levels of confidence in local government and media, less involvement in local voluntary groups, lower voting rates, and lower levels of expressed happiness. Would any of that be a reason to maintain laws supporting continued segregation?

  • And “our founders” were pretty cool with slavery. They are not the greatest authorities on what constitutes liberalism. Nor are you, apparently.

    The other way around means the liberal host culture making immigrants from illiberal cultures more liberal.

    Are the rates of female circumcision in Britain withinthe relevant immigrant groups higher or lower than the rates of female circumcision in the countries the immigrants came from? Are the rates of female circumcision in Britain outside the relevant immigration groups higher or lower after the immigration has taken place? In other words, are “they” rubbing off on “us” or are “we” rubbing off on “them”?

    You seem to be making the classic anti-immigrant mistake of confusing places with people; that is, thinking that improving the statistics regarding arbitrary places is more important the improving the actual lives of the people that live in those places (a blunder made by Robert Samuelson in a recent column). Yes, immigration of people from illiberal cultures into liberal ones often entails the importation of illiberal practices, thereby increase the rate of illiberalism in the host country (and also increasing the poverty rate). But that doesn’t mean that immigration is increasing the rate of illiberalism or poverty overall, if we include both the sending and the receiving country. The immigrants themselves tend to become more liberal (i.e. practice female circumcision less) and their illiberalism does not make the liberal host country less liberal. That is, unless illiberal anti-immigrant restrictionists such as yourself have their way,

  • Keith

    Two comments of Mr. Wilkinson’s strike me as absurd:

    “those obsessed with fertility are people who think the culture they desire cannot possibly win the argument against competing cultures.”

    Is there another way to win the argument? Am I supposed to believe that modern day Germans are going to sit at a round-table with the Turks invading their land and “win an argument”? This type of world never has existed so it is completely disingenuous to criticize people for not doing something they can’t do.

    “So if you’ve got a conservative, zoological view of cultural preservation which fixes on the importance of high-fidelity copying of inessential aspects of a culture’s history (costumes, holidays, rites, cuisine, skin colors etc.), you’re going to have a hard time of it.”

    What is a culture except these “inessential aspects?” You’ve gutted the essence of culture and then concluded, tautologically, that those who disagree with your definition are going to have a hard time seeing culture go down the drown.

  • Huntington

    I’d argue that the vast majority of polygamy in Canada and the U.S. (and it’s still a vanishing small percentage of living arrangements overall) is homegrown, not a result of any immigration other than the original English religious radicals who settled this continent.

  • Chris in Baltimore

    mghertenr wrote:
    “And “our founders” were pretty cool with slavery. They are not the greatest authorities on what constitutes liberalism.”
    “Even taking Putnam as a given for the sake of argument, I’m not sure those findings necessarily speak to the issue of liberalism vs. illiberalism”

    Actually I would say that Putnam’s findings are relevant to the discussion, as social trust is a fundamental requirement to a functioning society and civic involvement is necessary for democracy. And if that’s not “liberalism” to you, and the Enlightenment liberalism of the founders doesn’t pass your test, then I think you may be using an idiosycratic definition.

    “But that doesn’t mean that immigration is increasing the rate of illiberalism or poverty overall, if we include both the sending and the receiving country.”

    First off, what the restrictionist (and most Americans) are concerned about is not so much the global level of liberalism as about the level of liberalism in this country. Making us less liberal by importing illiberals is not what we’re after, even if we increase the global level of liberalism by partially liberlizing the immigrants. Although it’s not clear that we’d even do that- witness the highly radicalized CHILDREN of Muslim immigrants in parts of Europe.
    Second, culture pretty clearly does rub off on the hosts as well. Often this is harmless (music and such), but rules and laws that are made to accomodate illiberals (eg, women-only hours at gyms, speech codes, allowances for polygamy) are on the books for everyone.
    Third, just follow your own logic: If we import X people who, in their home countries, are 95% illiberal, but in the become only 75% illiberal, then we decrease the world population of illiberals, but if X is >600 million, we become a majority illiberal country! And that’s assuming (unwarrantedly) that as the percentage of illiberal immigrants in the US grows they would continue to be liberalized at the same rate.

    • Chris,

      Actually I would say that Putnam’s findings are relevant to the discussion, as social trust is a fundamental requirement to a functioning society and civic involvement is necessary for democracy.

      Sure, social trust at some level is a fundamental requirement to a functioning society, but that doesn’t mean that decreases from a given level of social trust spell societal doom. Further, as mixed ethnic groups stay mixed for long enough periods of time, the distinctions between the groups gradually wither away, so I see no reason to fear a long term decline in social trust as a result of pluralism. Again, to repeat what I wrote earlier,

      Suppose that we found Putnam’s same results when it came to the issue of racial integration in the U.S. The entry of middle-class black families into white neighborhoods may have encouraged social isolation, distrust, lower levels of confidence in local government and media, less involvement in local voluntary groups, lower voting rates, and lower levels of expressed happiness. Would any of that be a reason to maintain laws supporting continued segregation?

      First off, what the restrictionist (and most Americans) are concerned about is not so much the global level of liberalism as about the level of liberalism in this country. Making us less liberal by importing illiberals is not what we’re after, even if we increase the global level of liberalism by partially liberlizing the immigrants.

      But that is just insane, a strange fetishistic attachment to meaningless statistical metrics. Who cares if illiberalism in what we arbitrarily call U.S. national territory increases if this just means that U.S. born citizens remain just as liberal as before and immigrants from illiberal cultures are now included in our statistical metrics, some of who became more liberal in the process? That is a pareto improvement in the level of liberalism of actual people measured, and a meaningless decrease in the level of liberalism in an arbitrarily defined place. If the restrictionists and most Americans think places are important and not people, they are simply confused.

      Often this is harmless (music and such), but rules and laws that are made to accomodate illiberals (eg, women-only hours at gyms, speech codes, allowances for polygamy) are on the books for everyone.

      None of these things are necessarily illiberal. The Jewish community center my parents belong to offers women-only hours at the swimming pool so that Orthodox Jewish women can exercise in the modesty they desire. I don’t see this as illiberal; it is a function of pluralism and expands peoples’ opportunity sets without clearly making anyone worse off. Owners of private property, such as private universities, should be free to establish speech codes; to say otherwise is to deny property owners the freedom to control their property as they deem appropriate; i.e. it would be illiberal for the government to ban speech codes on private property. So too with polygamy. There is nothing necessarily illiberal with the institution of plural marriage itself; there is something illiberal with bans upon it.

      but if X is >600 million, we become a majority illiberal country!

      Yes, this is conceivably possible, but not likely. No one sane fears that this is going to happen.

  • Homer

    It’s really strange to see a ‘libertarian’ relying so heavily on a leftist, second-rate academic like Yuval Davis. Especially when that academic resorts to the most popular debating trick of the post-WWII era, the argumentum ad Hitlerum.

    It’s also dissappointing to see a supposedly intelligent, up to date person such as the owner of this blog take about ‘skin color’ as trivial. Of course , race or population group or whatever you call it is not primarily about ‘skin color’. Anthropologists can tell racial identity from bones, for heaven’s sake, and the more we find out about genetics the more we realise that (a) frequency of alleles on genes cluster just about like old style ‘racists’ would have guessed (2) genetics influence everything from cognitive ability to political attitudes.

    I don’t mind people like Howley advocating race/ethnic suicide. I don’t even mind their self-righteous condescension . I just wish I could separate myself into a polity with those who, like me, want my racial group to continue for a while.

  • Yikes. I feel so inadequate to comment amongst so many well-read people! I think Chris from Baltimore has a point when he wrote:
    one way to help … is to preserve a place in the world where those things I value can flourish, and one way to do that is to not import into that place large numbers of people who are already culturally predisposed against those values.
    More than 20 years ago, I attended a lecture at UCLA given by Rabbi Meir Kahane, who at the time advocated that American Jews move to Israel and start having lots of babies. It was his fear that Arabs living in Israel would breed themselves into the majority and, through constitutionally mandated democracy, undo the Jewish state by demographics alone. Now that we can see that the two-state solution between Israel and Palestinian Arabs is going to be a loser, some are advocating living together under one country. This is exactly what Kahane feared most, which is why he also advocated physically forcing Arabs out if they didn’t leave voluntarily.

    I live in Los Angeles today, and enjoy how our various cultures have intersected and merged in superficial ways. However, there is deep, deep resistance to a more profound integration, and I think it stems from our basic need to cling to a sense of who we have always been. We stay with our own. It is comfortable and reassuring after trying to negotiate with a confusing and often destabilizing world where we are all treated equally to head back to our neighborhoods and be among people who more close resemble us than are different.

    • This is exactly what Kahane feared most, which is why he also advocated physically forcing Arabs out if they didn’t leave voluntarily.

      Which is exactly why, as I’ve written elsewhere, if implementation of Kahane’s strategy is necessary for Judaism and Israel’s survival, then the Jewish People and Israel have no right to exist, and it is a good thing if they fade away into the dustbin of history. Placing the continued existence of ethnic/national groups above all other values is, pace Godwin, precisely the logic of You Know Who. And I say that as both a Jew and the son of an Israeli mother.

  • plugger

    Here we go again. Kick the rock of ‘culture’ over and a thousand racist cockroaches scuttle about.

    For a century, nativists made arguments like ‘There are biological aspects to culture; exactly how deep these go is not clear, but the very possibility of their existence cautions us to proceed carefully with demographic changes.’ Only they made them about Irish, Italians, Greeks, and East Asians.

    If you want to see cultural integration in action visit the singles bars of down town San Jose or San Francisco any night of the week. The next generation of Americans will have all kinds of colors and genes, but they’ll still pay their bar bill, they’ll still enjoy pizza and abhor exercise, and they’ll be arguing about social policy in the context of a republican constitution.

    Cultures influence one another in complex ways. Sometimes a demographic majority crushes a minority; the experience of native americans, for example. But sometimes it works the other way. So much modern American culture — fashion, language, music — derives from minority immigrant cultures — from Africa and Central America. In the historic past European colonialism resulted in European languages and legal systems — from Britain, France, Spain and, Portugal — being absorbed by vast populations.

    I really suggest that anyone who believes they belong to ‘a race’ or talks about ‘my race’ get the cheek swab and have their genetic makeup assessed. If they have the courage, that is. Many of us who have done this are surprised to discover how enormously diverse our origins are.

    • Eventually, in these sorts of discussions, the real motives of right-wing nationalists, immigration restrictionists, and pro-natalists shine through. They are not interested in preserving any coherent notion of Western liberalism. They are interested in promoting racism, xenophobia, and segregation.

  • Chris in Baltimore

    plugger: It is sometimes claimed that people who make obviously false claims about the nonexistence of races or racial differences are doing so because they care not about truth but about social status. The fact that these denialists so often accompany their claims by attempts to personally denigrate their interlocutors, as you have, only supports this thesis.

    “For a century, nativists made arguments like ‘There are biological aspects to culture; exactly how deep these go is not clear, but the very possibility of their existence cautions us to proceed carefully with demographic changes.’ Only they made them about Irish, Italians, Greeks, and East Asians. ”

    We either had limited immigration from those groups to begin with or we virtually shut down immigration after a period of time to allow those groups to assimiliate, which is what many restrictionists are advocating now. And if you doubt that the massive influxes of Italians changed New York or of Mexicans changed Los Angeles, or of blacks changed Detroit, then you don’t know American history.

    “I really suggest that anyone who believes they belong to ‘a race’ or talks about ‘my race’ get the cheek swab and have their genetic makeup assessed. If they have the courage, that is. Many of us who have done this are surprised to discover how enormously diverse our origins are.”

    Actually, the one person I know who’s had this done came back as basically exactly what I would have expected- Northwest European. Others surely have more diverse ancestery, but genetic cluster analysis readily groups most people into the races that we are all familiar with.

    • plugger

      “But I’ll engage.”

      You accept the charge! Then let’s proceed to trial.

      “We either had limited immigration from those groups to begin with or we virtually shut down immigration after a period of time to allow those groups to assimiliate[sic] …”

      woah! Let’s suspend the trial on the charge of ‘racism’ for a moment, and instead turn my attention to a charge of “ignorance”.

      At it’s peak (1900-1911) the US was expanding it’s population, each year, by a whole 1% due to immigration. Between 1850 and 1920, the rate never fell below 0.5%. That’s a rate of growth. Cumulative. That’s not ‘limited immigration’. That means that, over a 25 year period, more than 20% of the population was foreign born! in some parts of the country – New York, Boston — the percentage was much, much higher. The United States experienced a wave of immigration on an enormous scale between about 1850 and 1930, from nations with no democratic or even ‘northern european’ connection what-so-ever.

      ‘of Mexicans changed Los Angeles, or of blacks changed Detroit’

      How exactly have these places changed? Other than there now being more dark skins on the street? New York and Boston changed in the same way. Lots of dark, swarthy skins. Strange food, Lots of ‘Know Nothings’, ‘Sons of the American West”, and so on.

      Pittsburgh, and West Virginia. Also ‘changed’. Only in those places — being largely white — we are reminded of the decline of American manufacturing. Or don’t you know your recent US History?

      Well – I take it back. You don’t know if you’re a racist. I know you talk like one, act like one, and think like one.

  • homer

    Here we go again. Kick the rock of ‘culture’ over and a thousand racist cockroaches scuttle about.

    Not very nice, plugger, not nice at all.

    But I’ll engage. It is true that their is a lot of interracial/interethnic hooking up going on in the entirely atypical cities of San Francisco and San Jose (the ‘Ho as it is know to those who escape it). But even there the reality of race sets in. Check the number of white male -asian female v. white female – asian male couples . Likewise check black-male /white female v. black female -white male. Then look at marriage stats — hooking up ain’t quite getting marriage, which is not to say their aren’t a lot of interracial marriages in Cali, just that they are less common than one would expect. Final point, I wouldn’t, mind all this if the geneflow wasn’t all one way. There is about zero immigration into China, India, Mexico (except for those who are much like mexicans phenotypically) and sub-Saharan Africa. What is happening is not some great mix of everyone everywhere, it is the continual entry of non-whites from relatively less successful societies (except in terms of reproduction) into those created by whites — not only the US but the UK, Australia, Northern Europe.

    Sorry, but I don’t think ethno/racial suicide is a requirement for morality. Maybe the US needs a two state solution — one for you virtuous cosmopolitans and one for us ‘roaches’ who want to be who we are. Give us Oregon and NoCal, you can have the Bay Area, the ‘Ho and points south.

    Oh, and yeah, Zimbabwe is just a shining example of the absorption of English common law, ditto Jamaica, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Sierra Leone …

  • Renato Drumond

    Chris in Baltimore, no doubt that immigrants change the receptor country. Which is, by the way, the point that Will’s doing

    But I think it’s important to understand the immigration phenomenon: why this people are leaving their countries? The majority of them don’t make that decision by pretending to alter the receptor culture, it is a unintended consequence of their move. The primary concern is the search of a better life.

    We observe a great disparity of wages between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ countries. It’s basically this(and, of course, the fall of transportation costs).that motivates immigration from one country to another. Until the wages for the same job are equalized, there will be this movements.

  • We observe a great disparity of wages between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ countries. It’s basically this(and, of course, the fall of transportation costs).that motivates immigration from one country to another. Until the wages for the same job are equalized, there will be this movements.

    Yes, of course. That is why it is necessary for a people and a duty of their government to restrict this movement into their lands by force, through whatever physical or legal or punitive barriers prove necessary.

    When wages ‘equalize’ between the U.S. and Mexico, there will still be well over 5 billion people in the world determined to equalize them further. There is no end. This is fine if wage parity across the globe is your primary goal. But for those of us with other goals – such as the continuation (at least thru our grandchildrens’ lives) of the United States as a bastion of freedom and rule of law in an otherwise corrupt and lawless world, this is a most unsatisfactory outcome.

    • This:

      That is why it is necessary for a people and a duty of their government to restrict this movement into their lands by force, through whatever physical or legal or punitive barriers prove necessary.

      Followed by this:

      But for those of us with other goals – such as the continuation (at least thru our grandchildrens’ lives) of the United States as a bastion of freedom and rule of law in an otherwise corrupt and lawless world.

      Freedom through unfreedom. The disconnect is delicious. What kind of bastion of freedom is a country that punishes people for wanting to take part in that very same freedom? Not a country worth preserving.

  • plugger

    An’ lemme come back at you with a quote from Uncle Kracker –

    ‘If Heaven ain’t alot like Detroit
    I don’t wanna go
    If Heaven ain’t alot like Detroit
    I just a soon stay home
    If they ain’t got no Eight Mile
    Like they do up in the D
    Just send me to Hell or Salt Lake City
    It would be about the same to me’

    ‘Blacks’ did nothing to Detroit that the redemptive power of hip-hop can’t fix.

  • Chris in Baltimore

    mghertner wrote:

    “Who cares if illiberalism in what we arbitrarily call U.S. national territory increases if this just means that U.S. born citizens remain just as liberal as before and immigrants from illiberal cultures are now included in our statistical metrics, some of who became more liberal in the process? ”

    Beautiful. Well, as a patriotic citizen of “what we arbitrarily call U.S. national territory”, I want my children and grandchildren to grow up in an America that still reflects the liberties and ideals it was founded on, and not an America where, thanks to massive immigration, the laws and dominant mores (and economic conditions) reflect those of present-day Mexico, or China, or Pakistan, so *I* care. And, frankly, most Americans do too.

    And, because you keep asking: “The entry of middle-class black families into white neighborhoods may have encouraged social isolation, distrust, lower levels of confidence in local government and media, less involvement in local voluntary groups, lower voting rates, and lower levels of expressed happiness. Would any of that be a reason to maintain laws supporting continued segregation?”

    Pretty clearly many of those things have happened, but I still don’t support legal segregation because of one distinction between blacks and immigrants that seems to have eluded you: blacks are Americans. To most people, although perhaps not to libertarians, that means something. We owe certain things to our citizens that we do not owe to the world at large.

    • Well, as a patriotic citizen of “what we arbitrarily call U.S. national territory”, I want my children and grandchildren to grow up in an America that still reflects the liberties and ideals it was founded on, and not an America where, thanks to massive immigration, the laws and dominant mores (and economic conditions) reflect those of present-day Mexico, or China, or Pakistan, /i>

      But this just takes us back to the question of evidence, and the fact that there is no evidence that an influx of immigrants from Mexico, China, or Pakistan has made the laws and dominant mores (and economic conditions) of America reflect those of present-day Mexico, or China, or Pakistan. So your claim is just false, absent any evidence.

      • Chris in Baltimore

        For examples of how demography has historically and is currently changing laws and mores, please reread my previous posts. As for economic conditions, research suggests that immigration has hurt US workers at the low end, and may be contributing to rising wage inequality. And the fact that Hispanics immigrants have low levels of education, and continue to have below-average levels of educational attainment even after being in the US for several generations suggests that as we proceed on our way to becoming a 1/3 Hispanic nation over the next couple of decades, we will lose our global competitiveness.

    • We owe certain things to our citizens that we do not owe to the world at large.

      Why? Where does this special moral obligation to people born within the same arbitrarily defined political borders come from? And why doesn’t this same moral obligation not extend to people born outside those arbitrarily defined borders? How is this not just bigotry based on nationality, as opposed to bigotry based on race?

      • Chris in Baltimore

        I wish all immigration advocates were as honest as you. If they would just be open about the post-nationalist premises of their beliefs they would lose the public debate for certain.

  • Chris in Baltimore

    plugger wrote: “Between 1850 and 1920, the rate never fell below 0.5%. That’s a rate of growth. Cumulative. That’s not ‘limited immigration’.”

    And do you know what happened after that? We shut off immigration almost completely for 40 years.

    “‘of Mexicans changed Los Angeles, or of blacks changed Detroit’
    How exactly have these places changed? ”

    Wow. Just…wow.

  • plugger

    “And do you know what happened after that? We shut off immigration almost completely for 40 years.”

    Not according to the stats I’ve seen! According to Census data, the foreign born population of the United States only fell below 5% once, in 1970, and then it was 4.7%. Between 1930 and 1950 there was a pause, but I’d point out that for 5 of those years the country was rather preoccupied, and even then immigration was still a feature of national policy, and immigration on a (relatively) massive scale. Besides – that’s 20 years out of more than 150 now.

    “‘of Mexicans changed Los Angeles, or of blacks changed Detroit’
    How exactly have these places changed? ”

    Wow. Just…wow.

    No. Please. Do tell. Be specific.

    You mean the riots? Never heard of the Irish anti-draft riots of the 1860s? Or the Bonus Army march on Washington of 1832? Riots are bad, mmmkay. But they’re a result of grievance. Not a consequence of race?

    Economics? LA is doing fine. Detroit’s in a mess, but so are a host of other rust belt cities.

    In LA — which I know better than Detroit — I see a vibrant and diverse city with all the troubles that attend megapolises all over the world.

    • Chris in Baltimore

      Read about Johnson-Reed here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_Act_of_1924

      I’d be happy with a somewhat less race-centric version of that now. Our current percentage of foreign born among the population is comparable to the historic highs reached early in the last century, and I think a similar legislative response would be wise. In fact we are in even more peril now, as such a large proportion of our foreign-born population is distinct from the mainstream in language, culture, and ethnicity, making assimilation more difficult. And, frankly, I think we were a lot better off last century getting Italians, Poles, and Jews than we are now getting Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans. Judging by the history of those European nationalities, they seem to have more, um… “social capital”.

      And let’s just say LA and Detroit didn’t used to be “vibrant and diverse [cities] with all the troubles that attend megapolises all over the world”.

      (Also, megapolises like Tokyo? Hong Kong? Berlin?)

      • plugger

        “I think we were a lot better off last century getting Italians, Poles, and Jews than we are now getting Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans. Judging by the history of those European nationalities, they seem to have more, um… “social capital”.

        Woah.

        And why not? Do you believe they’re biologically inferior, perhaps? At least the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans already speak a language spoken in about 1/3 of Californian homes and about 10% of US homes overall, unlike your Italians, Poles and Jews who spoke a hodge-podge of unknown tongues, and were usually poorer and less well educated than modern immigrants. Hell! Millions of ’em (according to Henry Cabot Lodge) were illiterate!

        You’re looking, today, at the great wave early twentieth century immigrants after 3 generations. While Cahal, Giuseppe, Alesky and Aaron were herding their wives and pinch-faced brood off the boats at Ellis Island, the good Anglo-German-Danish stock already in residence were lamenting the pathetic quality of this latest boat load and begging their leaders for limits.

        After all, this latest lot simply couldn’t possibly bring .. ahem …the same ‘social capital’ as THEIR grandparents

  • plugger

    Sheesh – “Bonus Army march on Washington of 1932”.

  • As for economic conditions, research suggests that immigration has hurt US workers at the low end, and may be contributing to rising wage inequality. And the fact that Hispanics immigrants have low levels of education, and continue to have below-average levels of educational attainment even after being in the US for several generations suggests that as we proceed on our way to becoming a 1/3 Hispanic nation over the next couple of decades, we will lose our global competitiveness.

    Again, as I pointed out before, the problem with using inequality as a sign of bad things in the immigration debate is that inequality is often a meaningless artifact of measurement choices, not a sign that any particular person is being made worse off. You seem to not understand this point, because you keep repeating the same error.

    I wish all immigration advocates were as honest as you. If they would just be open about the post-nationalist premises of their beliefs they would lose the public debate for certain.

    Of course, my goal here is not to “win a debate with the public”, i.e. make politically popular pronouncements. I am not interested in appeals to the majority. I am interested in what is right.

    • Chris in Baltimore

      “Again, as I pointed out before, the problem with using inequality as a sign of bad things in the immigration debate is that inequality is often a meaningless artifact of measurement choices, not a sign that any particular person is being made worse off.”

      Did you even read the section you quoted ouside of the words “wage inequality”? And yeah, after a point wage inequality does get bad, as it leads to resentments and lack of social cohesion. You get an elite group that is sufficiently removed from the masses that they don’t understand their concerns or care about them. For instance, present-day Mexico, with reasonable per-capita wealth, but gross inequalities which send many poor people up here.

      “I am interested in what is right.”

      Good for you. Most people think nations are “right”. I’m one of them, but don’t really feel like going off on that tangent. Suffice it to say that very few people want to give their votes/money/time/lives to leaders who don’t believe in protecting the welfare of their subjects’ children.

  • Chris in Baltimore

    plegger: “You’re looking, today, at the great wave early twentieth century immigrants after 3 generations.”

    Mexicans have been in the US for 3+ generations. They don’t show the same patterns of achievement as the Italians, Jews, etc. See, eg: http://www.cis.org/articles/2001/mexico/generations.html. I should remind you again that those former ethic groups had, essentially, the door shut behind them by the 1924 law, so they were forced to assimilate, unlike the Hispanics, whose environs in the US are constantly replenished with new blood from the south. I’d like to do them the same favor we did for the others.

  • RandomObservation

    “The inestimable Kerry Howley’s outstanding Reason cover piece on fertility panics is now online. Like the typical Howley production, this is a super-readable combo of fascinating facts and trenchant analysis. Kerry’s great on why talk about “desired fertility” is silly, but I think she’s most insightful on the cultural aspects of fertility policy:”

    Sure it is a great piece but shouldn’t you add a little disclaimer 🙂
    http://www.willwilkinson.net/flybottle/about/
    http://kerryhowley.com/bio/

  • Ace_of_Sevens

    Didn’t Los Angeles start as a Mexican city (thus the name)? The white people are the immigrants who got it all changed and brought their crazy movie industry and stuff.

  • K. Larson

    I find the confidence in the competitiveness of modern, liberal values heart-warming. Unfortunately, the longer I live in a distinctly foreign, illiberal culture (Mainland China) the more I lose confidence in this basic assumption.

    Typically, I’m suspicious of argumentation via personal annecdote; but I’ve seen far too many Chinese youth (including exchange students studying for long periods in the West) roundly reject modern, liberal principles in favor of traditional, authoritarian, ethnocentric beliefs. I think it’s a cornerstone of modern liberalism that the fruits of post-Enlightenment thinking are so mind-blowingly obvious that no one could fail to be persuaded. It is a source of terrible existential discomfort to find out otherwise. I do, however, think that if you believe that liberalism can take all comers in all venues, then you don’t get out enough.

    Despite all of this, as the US-citizen spouse of a non-citizen, I’m tremendously pro-immigration. While I don’t believe that freedom will necessarily out-compete tyranny, I do believe in the fundamental virtue of the immigrant. Immigration is, in a way we can barely understand, a drastic psychological trial that self-selects exclusively for those who are willing to entertain the possibility that one way-of-life might be superior to their own. Tellingly, all of people I’ve met who have rejected modern liberalism are still here (in China).