Late Hits

Mickey Kaus Columnist
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Buzzfeed very kindly invited me to participate in their panel discussion (cosponsored with, yes, the Charles Koch Institute) last week.** You can watch the result here. A couple of follow-up points:

1)–Cato for Higher Welfare Spending: Cato’s Alex Nowrasteh (around 24 minutes in)  pooh-poohs the effect of low-skilled immigration on wages at the bottom by saying

“if we’re really really worried about people …Americans who are adults who have less than a high school degree having their wages driven down there are much cheaper and easier ways to help those invididual than distorting international labor markets with socialistic regulations that stop the flow of labor.”*** [E.A.]

Hmm. We know what those cheap and easy ways are, measures like the Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps, cash benefits and Obamacare–what the right traditionally denounces as welfare, in other words.

To give low-skilled Americans enough to live on,  in other words, Nowrasteh and his allies would rather have low global-market wages + welfare or “transfer payments.’ I’d rather have higher market wages within an enforceable border and no need for welfare or transfers. That’s the debate in a nutshell. I note that it’s very easy for policy planners to ignore the dignity that is lost when a $15/hour job is replaced by an $8 hour job and $7 in transfer payments. …

2) –Insulting the entire “Latino Community”: Amnesty advocates typically invoke the difficulties faced by hard-working illegal immigrants living “in the shadows.” They talk about how Republicans lose Latino voters by threatening to “deport their grandmothers.” But that’s not the argument that La Raza’s Clarissa Martinez makes (around 34 minutes in). She argues the “75 %  [of the Latino community] who are United States citizens are being treated like second class citizens” because of the immigration controversy. [E.A.] Reaction: a) Really? Second-class citizens? Seems a little strong. I’m not a Latino trying to get a job in Arizona, but I look around me in Southern California and see little except respect for Latino workers and celebrations of Latino culture. I don’t see Hispanic Americans who aren’t in the shadows nevertheless acting as if they think they are second-class citizens. ****  And now the entire political system is bending itself into a pretzel to find a way to appease allegedly  aggrieved Latino voters.  b) If generalized ethnic umbrage pays off–and if any attempt to enforce the border stigmatizes not only border-jumpers but all their co-ethnics–do we think it will stop with this amnesty?  c) Black leaders have often argued that their whole “community” is tarred by the behavior of a minority of criminals. But their solution hasn’t typically been to legalize the stigmatized illegal behavior. Obviously Martinez does not think coming into the country without authorization is such a big deal (a suspicion confirmed, throughout the discussion, by her consistent scorn for enforcement measures directed at workers whose only sin is that they are undocumented). …

3) I mistakenly said that Senator McCain, even though he had been “Captain Amnesty,” had received only “40%” of the Latino vote. In fact, he didn’t even do that well–he got 31%, not much better than Mitt Romney’s 27%.


**– This was the result of a surprisingly fruitful half-day of obsessive trolling.

***–i.e. having a border.

****- President Obama cultivated this wound in his recent commencement address:

“See, as Morehouse Men, many of you know what it’s like to be an outsider; to be marginalized; to feel the sting of discrimination. That’s an experience that so many other Americans share. Hispanic Americans know that feeling when someone asks where they come from or tells them to go back.”

Do we think the Morehouse Men thought the African American and Hispanic American experiences are comparable?

Mickey Kaus