Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I Love Immigration

Most companies are not well served to have the same CEO forever. Fresh blood, fresh ideas, and fresh perspectives are vital in a world full of imperfect people. That is one reason I think a flow of people between the different countries of the world is a good thing.

On the flip side, every culture has been concerned about being eliminated or marginalized. Look at the resistance and opposition there has been to the United States around the world. People of other countries don't want us to impose our culture on them. I suspect that most people in the US have similar feelings about outside cultural influences. We are comfortable in our familiar culture and we don't want to be forced to change because of a rapid influx of immigrants.

So we allow and encourage emmigration and immigration to facilitate the flow of ideas and information around the globe, but we do so with numerical limits to prevent any culture from being overwhelmed by fresh blood, thus killing the old blood.

Deciding on the right number of immigrants is not an easy task. I think we need to loosen up the current restrictions a bit and make it easier for people to immigrate the right way.

I also want to come out in opposition to a group called "Americans for Better Immigration." This group seemed to be pushing for some of the same things that I want, but after reviewing their website I concluded that they really want only a very small amount of immigration. To them, less is more. I see their view as unworkable and selfish. This is a wonderful country and I want to welcome in as many people as we can reasonably support. As we lift these immigrants up, we help the whole world with the rising tide.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

It isn't just a cultural matter. It's also about the welfare of the citizens presently here. Excessive immigration - and I regard our current levels as beyond excessive - is severely harmful to the people who live here. You only need to look at the soaring gap between rich and poor, and the soaring cost of housing to understand that.

Excessive immigration ends up creating cultural enclaves in which Americans feel like unwelcome strangers in their own land. They also don't feel safe.

(Question: How can inflation be so low, when housing prices are rising so sharply?)

You also overlook more modern ways of spreading ideas: we have the internet; we have the press; we have television and movies; we have travel. We also have student echange programs and millions of foreigners attending US colleges. Some 30 million foreigners come to the US to visit each and every year. There are more ways to spread ideas and knowledge than immigration. Plus, it should be a two way street. We let millions come here, but where can Americans go?

Anonymous said...

There is another aspect of immigration you don't consider" immigration isn't just an economic arrangement - it is a partnership, like a business or marriage. These people aren't just units of labor. Once they (or their children) become citizens, they are given an equal right in the partnership to determine the direction of it. And unlike a marriage or business partnership, it is basically inseverable: you can't make them leave. There is no way to bind them contractually to pursue common goals.

That's why immigration is about far more than economics, and why it's not nativist to worry about its affects.

Bradley said...

Great comments, anonymous. It sounds like we agree that too much immigration would be bad but we disagree on how much is too much.

I wonder if our higher immigration rates are balanced by our declining birth rates. If so, then immigration isn't really to blame for higher housing costs in any way that is obvious to me. Perhaps you can elaborate on that point?

You also express concern about the permanence of immigrants. I think that is part of the beauty. I like the idea that new ideas will be infused into our country. It keep us from stagnating or drifting. I think that poor immigrants will have a better appreciation for what is great about our country than someone who was raised here and can take our system of government for granted. The immigrants can actually strengthen the forms of government that we hold so dear by reminding us why it is so precious.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder if our higher immigration rates are balanced by our declining birth rates."

Ummm, no. Our population is estimated to climb from 300 million today to nearly 500 million by 2050. So it certainly isn't "balanced." I think immigrants are actually, literally, *replacing Americans*. Their presence drives up the costs to Americans to have children - wages go down, housing prices go up, commute times go up. It becomes more difficult for Americans to afford children - so Americans are having fewer of them.

"If so, then immigration isn't really to blame for higher housing costs in any way that is obvious to me. Perhaps you can elaborate on that point?"

Quite simple: supply and demand. Desirable land becomes more expensive because there's less of it available. And land - not construction labor - is the primary cost of a house, unless you're building out in the boondocks.

"You also express concern about the permanence of immigrants. I think that is part of the beauty. I like the idea that new ideas will be infused into our country."

What new ideas do they bring do you find to be so valuable? What new ideas can they bring as people that they couldn't bring through the press or the internet; or if they were only temporary?

"It keep us from stagnating or drifting. I think that poor immigrants will have a better appreciation for what is great about our country than someone who was raised here and can take our system of government for granted."

Americans can come to appreciate that themselves after visiting or living in other countries. Most returned Mormon missionaries I meet seem very appreciative of our government and blessings as a nation.

"The immigrants can actually strengthen the forms of government that we hold so dear by reminding us why it is so precious."

But what if they don't strengthen it? Do you think the terrorist cells in London or Hamburg or Toronto or Sydney are "strengthening" those nation's governments? They've certainly empowered them to become more prying into our private lives, but I don't think that's what you mean. If immigrants bring in a culture that doesn't embrace democracy - and they retain that culture - then the result will be choas and anarchy, not stability. And you need only look to the growing strength of radical regimes in Latin America (the source of most of our immigrants) to realize and appreciate that possibility.

Anonymous said...

Bradley -

My point about the permanence of immigrants was related to the fact that, if they bring an attitude towards government which is undesirable or doesn't mesh with our own, then there's nothing we can do. They become citizens equal to the rest of us, with the same vote as any other American ("one man, one vote" - the dumbest democratic idea ever thought of). We can't deport them if they're citizens. We're stuck with the changes in our democracy.

Let me give an example: the last great wave of immigration was during the late 1800s & early 1900s. Disproportionately, these people were Catholics and Jews. At the time we had public education - a public education that was heavily Protestant in its outlook. In our schools, students read Protestant bibles, prayed Protestant prayers, sang Christmas carols, etc. The eventual result of Catholic and Jewish immigration was that this was abolished.

Now, I am EMPHATICALLY NOT SAYING that the changes in education were wrong, or that the immigration of Catholics and Jews was wrong. I am just pointing out that immigration is more than just an economic issue - it has political consequences. What if we don't like those consequences? If we don't like them 50 years from now we can't deport the immigrants and their descendants who wrought those changes. So we have to ask ourselves that question *now*. And it is not racist or nativist or isolationist or xenophobic to do so. The assumption that naive idealism will somehow wash away the real-life consequences of a bad action has been definitively refuted.

Anonymous said...

Bradley -

Also, re: housing costs, there is more to the cost of a house than the actual price of the house. Lots of people these days are buying houses in places like Herriman and Daybreak. Prices there may be low, but the commute times for people to get to where they need to be can be extraordinary. A 90 minute round-trip commute takes a lot of time out of your day.