A few simple points about immigration

I feel I am repeating myself, but these remain neglected:

1. The good outcomes for African immigrants to the United States mean we could and should take in more such immigrants, to mutual benefit.

2. In part these gains arise from selection, namely that it is not easy to get from Africa to the United States, at least not generally.  So we should not make it too easy, even though we should take in more migrants.  “Take in more, keep hard” sounds contradictory but it is not.  And if African outcomes decline in quality at the margin, that is a sign that policy is working (more entrants), not that policy is failing.

3. We cannot let everyone in, and so at the margin there will always be cruelties when it comes to those who are denied entry, sent back, and so on.  Right now even Canada may be sending back some Haitians (NYT).  Those cruelties are relevant for assessing an immigration decision, but they are not decisive.  If you cite the cruelties without also outlining a limiting principle for the appropriate margin where immigration ought to stop, you are arguing poorly and most of all fooling yourself.  It is a good recipe for never thinking clearly again about any policy issue.

4. Adopting a cosmopolitan ethic will increase the margin at which immigration should be allowed.  But still we cannot let everyone in, if only because of backlash effects.  And if backlash effects are the binding constraint, the degree of cosmopolitanism in your ethic may not matter much for finding the appropriate rate of immigration.

5. Just to repeat, we really should take in more immigrants.  Not only from Africa, but from many countries that are not major successes on the gdp or education front, India and Iran being two other obvious examples.

6. Will Wilkinson has an excellent NYT piece on making immigration deals with Trump.


immigration is the opium of the elite. poverty is the opium of the masses. mental illness is the plague of our time.

"immigration is the opium of the elite"

More like "pro-immigration rhetoric is the opium of the elite" making a reference to the Lazarus poem is a religious incantation as are testimonials about one's own immigrant distant ancestors. Like any religious dogma the rhetoric is immune to changes in the real world.

The primary "good outcomes for African immigration" are more Democrat voters. Same thing for DACA and amnesty for 11 million illegals.

This isn't about racial harmony or social justice, It is about political power; money; and fundamentally transforming America into a socialist dystopia run by elitist millionaires like Hillary, Obama, Sanders, Warren, Pelosi, et al.

If you don't like it, you are deplorable.

I remember when Cuban immigrants, Vietnamese refugees, etc., were solid Republican votes, and I was fine with that. Did any Democrats oppose Cuban immigration for that reason?

Not that I can remember. I think screening for politics is a new and deplorable idea.

The Constitution does not require any of us to vote one way.

"Did any Democrats oppose Cuban immigration for that reason?"

Yes, they did, and for a long time. Of course, this was because the system was "unfair" to non-Cuban refugees. Politics had NOTHING to do with it.


Five seconds of Googling:


Nope. Obama reversing a Clinton decision is not a Democraric sweep against Republican immigrants.

Now, are you saying you favor dry foot policy for all refugees right now? Or, lol, only "Republican" ones?

Isn't it amazing that Obama made it harder for Cubans to immigrate to America and he wasn't called a racist and he wasn't attacked as some monster.

This is because the Democrats want to win Florida.

Harun, what would you have done as refugee crises expanded around the world, and you had a "dry foot" loophole for one country only?

Said "ok, anybody with a dry foot is fine, Chinese, Syrian, or Cuban?"

Or would you have tried to maintain that of all the countries in the world, Cuba is the one that gets the dry foot privilege?

"The Constitution does not require any of us to vote one way."

According to you, the constitution "requires" us to vote against Sharia law, but sadly no one else realizes that. Securing the social and political capital that makes the U.S. a success should be the number one priority in admitting immigrants.

Lol. Be aware that only bedbugs cry "Sharia law" in a discussion of American immigration policy.

No idea what "bedbugs" are, or who is crying unless it is you.

Saying "Sharia law" in an immigration discussion is like saying "what about comets" in a discussion of air traffic safety. Yes, there might be 1 in a billion chance, but not what we should really be worried about.

First of all, you are trying to derail a critical question of whether the politics or culture of immigrants matters by focusing obsessively on Sharia law. Your point that the constitution will somehow constrain immigrants in a meaningful way is not, in my opinion, remotely correct.

Again, "Sharia law" can be a stand-in for any terrible policy. While "1 in a billion" in the near-term, our focus in all policy, but most especially in immigration policy which is irreversible, should be the long term. If (IF) we had open borders and 1 billion Muslims immigrated to the U.S. then sharia law would become much more likely. Similarly if we admit 1 billion Chinese people, Chinese--style policies become significantly more likely.

The question is, does U.S. policy matter? And if so, why should we not consider the likely impact of the levels/type of immigration that we propose?

What a terrible muddle. Now you are talking about "any terrible policy" and "1 billion Muslims immigrated"


Keep dodging! You're terrified, TERRIFIED to address the issue so you elide and evade any way possible.

The issue is hardly a muddle. It's clear as day and stated as simply as could be, in a single sentence.

Does U.S. policy matter, and if so, why should we not consider the likely impact on policy of the levels/type of immigration that we propose?

It can't get any simpler.

Chicken/egg, friend

Around the time, Catholic, entrepreneurial Hispanics were following their dreams in California, the California GOP sided with xenophobes and bigots to pass Prop 187. The GOP turned 2 generations of Hispanics against them. The talk radio thought animating the GOP since then has not changed: they continue to embrace ever more frightened white ppl and the new Americans, who love “family values,” low taxes, and fewer regulations as they enter the race for capital. Immigrants vote Democratic, because the GOP gives them the back of their hand, sides with scared xenophobes/racists, and implies ppl from 3rd world aren’t worthy of being Americans.

Italians, Poles, folks from Eastern Europe, Catholics, all learned to vote conservative in decades past, as soon as conservatives stopped bashing them as un-American. Stop punching them in the face and they might become the new GOP

That's true. Asians only started moving left when they started to see the right as white-first.


"they started to see"

or maybe the media and academia painted that picture for them.

Think I'm crazy? We know that people think there are more gay people than there really are due to TV shows having gay characters.

"the new Americans, who love “family values,”"



Around the time, Catholic, entrepreneurial Hispanics were following their dreams in California, the California GOP sided with xenophobes and bigots to pass Prop 187. The GOP turned 2 generations of Hispanics against them.

Yeah, you're just making shit up. Californian Hispanics weren't Republican voters before 187, or anything close to it. Clinton beat Bush I almost 3:1 among Hispanics across the country, and if you take out the Cubans (who generally weren't in California), it's higher than that.


As always, the poison is in the dose.

Will Wilkinson oped link is broken... it points to a Twitter.com page.

My recommendation: consider more carefully what you mean by "we".

It is the royal we - maybe we could have a Conversation about it?

I'm not sure what your objection is here. Tyler obviously means the United States.

In the last 50 years we took in too many new immigrants. We need a moratorium perhapps 50 years or so with zero immigration. Then perhaps put the issue to a vote.

All of the happy talk about how successful the immigrants are ipure propaganda by those who want endless immigration. The truth is much worse than we know.

A lot of conjecture without evidence. You need to back up your beliefs more.

Ross Douthat column said punctuated waves are better for assimilation.

I think we could simply reduce immigration for 10-20 years. You'd still have immigration, but just less of it.

>A lot of conjecture without evidence.

You mean.... just like Tyler's entire post.

No substantive response to the evidence Tyler provides, and not even any logical arguments made to support your points. But you are demonstrating Tyler's point about backlash, I suppose.

One question I'd like to see Tyler answer is this: what kind of bad outcomes would make him change his mind? It's quite easy to paint opposition to more immigration as irrational prejudice (because some of it is), but on the flipside, I see a lot of people who seem to believe that there are never any downsides to consider and if someone brings up, say, the rate of criminal offenses among middle eastern and African migrants to Europe, they're dismissed as irrelevant because poverty/civil war/muh GDP. This makes me not want to listen to people like Tyler's pleas, because it makes me suspect there's pretty much no margin along which they'd change their opinion and say "yeah, we probably ought not have much immigration from region x."

You are saying you can't be reasonable now, because someone else might not be reasonable in the future.


Sick burn, brah.

Well you know, it is a slow pitch when anyone says "This makes me not want to listen to people .." because someting they didn't say, and only might say.

What "evidence" does Tyler provide? He just makes blanket statements.

Not sure what you are confused about. It is pretty obvious we have allowed the forces who favor immigration to flood our country over the last 50 years with immigrants we neither needed nor wanted. Many of these immigrants have no desire to assimilate and are here for the welfare and other free stuff.

Here is an idea for our countries leaders. How about putting in the same effort now being expended on immigrants into helping the citizens in the inner cities and the homeless. How about fixing our problems first before we import more problems. How about working for full employment and zero welfare. Our leaders priorities are misplaced and they no longer consider the citizens to be their bosses. We need to change that.

Your first sentence could have been uttered by a "native" Bostonian in 1900 (about the dirty Irishmen). Nobody likes strange people knocking on the door of our special treehouse.

Blah blah blah.

What an intelligent retort! Keep going, you're really on a roll!!!

"outlining a limiting principle for the appropriate margin where immigration ought to stop"

The limiting principle is the same one used for limiting migration across state and municipal boundaries: migration should stop when the marginal employer and the marginal landowner no longer wants to hire an immigrant nor sell nor rent housing to an immigrant. No one, not even Bryan Caplan nor any other "open borders" advocate, has ever advocated "letting everyone in" because no one has ever advocated requiring employers to hire immigrants against their will. The question is whether immigration limits should reflect the distributed and localized knowledge of employers, landowners and everyone else or whether such limits should be set by central planners that lack such knowledge.

I am on board with that in theory, but what gets left out is that immigrants consume government services. If they pay in taxes less than they consume then they are a drag on the rest of us who do pay taxes. That seems to create a type of externality where some cost of immigration are borne outside of the immigrant/employer/landlord relationship.

Of course you could make the same argument for cross state and municipality migration.

What Eddogg said.

Yes, and whilst the immigration advocates are at it, they can show the lifetime fiscal balance for the immigrant is positive (what would that equate to in annual salary? $200K+ ?). Then they can cover additional externalities in housing and education from the supply-side restrictions there. And of course, crime. Is the immigrant still a good deal for the US?

Then the open borders crowd might care to show how immigration depresses the wages on native labour, and price that into their calculations (unless they are just shills for corporations). Then these so-called economists can include the social capital and social trust effects on economic growth. Which are suitably large.

Finally the open borders team can explain the public policy impacts of immigration on a large multi-ethnic state and why it won't lead to increased political conflict, regulation and rent-seeking along ethnic identity lines as it does _everywhere else on the planet_.

If the open borders crew can do these calculations with anything approaching a modicum of reasonableness, then I might be persuaded of how good immigration was. But they simply don't want to talk about it in a quantitative way.

"No one, not even Bryan Caplan nor any other “open borders” advocate, has ever advocated “letting everyone in” because no one has ever advocated requiring employers to hire immigrants against their will."

This is an utterly false statement because neither Bryan Capalan nor any other open borders advocate proposes that an immigrant should have to have a job before we let them in.

That's a great principle. The Chinese military can just walk across the border en masse because they bought a warehouse where they can live and they have jobs back in China. The U.S> has no rights at all to secure their border. As long as someone is capable of surviving in the U.S., they must be allowed in, even if it means the destruction of the country. After all, nations are meaningless, and it doesn't matter if the U.S. is the U.S. or China or Saudi Arabia, and if the people living there are Americans or Chinese or Arabs.

"migration should stop when the marginal employer and the marginal landowner no longer wants to hire an immigrant nor sell nor rent housing to an immigrant. No one, not even Bryan Caplan nor any other “open borders” advocate, has ever advocated “letting everyone in” because no one has ever advocated requiring employers to hire immigrants against their will."

Not sure if you're being disingenuous or are just stupid, but employers are already forced to hire immigrants against their will: it's illegal for an employer or landlord to discriminate on the basis of race or national origin and illegal without "cause" to discriminate on the basis of citizenship.

"The question is whether immigration limits should reflect the distributed and localized knowledge of employers, landowners and everyone else or whether such limits should be set by central planners that lack such knowledge."

It's "central planning" in the same way the minimum wage and laws against child labor are "central planning." You're expanding the scope of the term so far that it becomes meaningless.

For those out there suffering from libertarianism, just know there are resources available to help.

In Europe, most of the recent incomers are unemployed and unemployable, being a significant burden on the taxpayer.

An example: the share of foreign citizens among welfare recipients in Austria skyrocketed from 25 % to 50 % in the last seven years. In Sweden, it is well over 60 % already. That does not count the second or third generation, which often holds local citizenship but still lags in achievements.

At some point, the taxpayers revolt seriously. It is absurd to import people from abroad directly into the welfare system and it is unsustainable as well. Austria just got a mixed right-and-far-right coalition government.

The Bloomberg piece is about the most spurious and disingenuous piece I've read by Cowen.

Is it a Straussian post signaling his agreement with Trump?

Feel free to make actual arguments about what is "spurious and disingenuous".

It was a good piece, backed up by facts. There are alternative views. Rich Lowry has been making the argument for skills-based immigration. Choosing to bypass the sh*thole countries debate, his favorite stat has been the median income of Indian immigrant families (~$100k).

The important point here: the quality of immigrants from some country isn’t just about the average quality of people in the country (in terms of intelligence, education, work ethic, values, whatever). It’s also about the selectiveness of immigration. (Partly that’s policy; partly it’s distance and hassle to immigrate.).

It seems like this should lead to some discussion of the value of selective immigration policies instead of lotteries or family reunification policies. We probably benefit bringing in Haitian or Kenyan doctors, but probably wouldn’t benefit from bringing in large numbers of random Haitians or Kenyans.

You'd be better SELLING the right to emigrate for $500k a go.

President Trump is racist and insensitive and because he believes a man should say out loud whatever he thinks, he's not a smart guy. However, he only messed up in all this "shithole countries" thing because he apparently meant "the people from those countries are shit when he should know that there are "very fine people" in bad countries like stats seem to prove. Plus, smart people do not spit those words at formal meetings.

I'm from Angola, thus I'm African, and I can assure you that many Africans occasionally call their nations "shithole" because it is hell here and only Africans' ability to live through struggle keeps them smiling and dancing. The main reason African countries are so bad is the way they are ruled and not because people are inherently useless. Despotic rule, lack of civil liberties and overall strong institutions are the main reasons African countries are failing and although Trump should avoid potentially incendiary remarks Africans will be better served if opinion makers in the West called out African leaders instead of Trump.

The elephant in the room is Latino, especially Mexican immigration. Clamp down on family reunification for relatives outside the nuclear family and for non-spouse adult immigrants, and switch preferences to the Australian system to dramatically change the quality and makeup of immigrants.

Yes, the "family" definition in the immigration law is quite wide. Around the world it means spouse and dependent children.

'Around the world it means spouse and dependent children.'

Well, post- Brexit vote, the British government seem to be saying that family should not be a criteria for allowing non-UK citizens into the UK. It is all quite difficult to unravel, even if the ECJ is attempting to, at least for EU citizens who also hold British citizenship, and at least until Brexit is finished - 'A European citizen who becomes a British citizen does not lose the right to have a spouse from a non-EU country live with them in the UK, the European court of justice (ECJ) has ruled in a landmark case.

After a five-month deliberation it has decided the Home Office was wrong to refuse a dual British-Spanish citizen the right to have her Algerian husband live with her in Britain.

Immigration barristers say the ruling will have widespread implications for EU citizens applying for British passports and those married or considering marriage to a third-country national.

“This is great news for EU citizens who have moved to another European country because it enables them to benefit from sensible EU rules on being joined by family members,” said the immigration barrister Colin Yeo, an expert on freedom of movement.

“The court has held that the UK has been wrong to refuse to recognise free movement rights for all those EU citizens who have been naturalising as British following the Brexit referendum. After Brexit, though, all those rights will be lost unless an agreement is reached to retain them.”' https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/nov/14/eu-citizens-become-british-non-eu-spouses-live-with-them-court

The UK is clearly far along the road so many commenters here would prefer for the U.S. (a nation whose existence and success is based on immigration). Possibly because Little England is too small to allow anyone else immigrate - maybe their island would sink, or some other equally plausible reason that can be written as a Daily Mail headline.

The UK is another animal. The empire collapsed but any citizen of the ex colonies could move to the UK for a long time.

The bet was that if they accepted people from ex colonies they would be accepted in those countries. It worked in the sense that they still have some international influence. It did not worked for people whose neighborhoods were transformed by immigration.

It is even more complicated than that. The British are in a strange position - the generation that remembers the Empire is unhappy with its break up, including the fact that they now have neighbors from places that never asked the British to conquer them. The younger generation that never experienced the Empire wonder why their (grand)parents have such a problem with the people that the younger generation grew up with as fellow citizens.

Then throw in the reality that many British Brexit voters seem to also want to kick out all the Poles, Czechs, etc., and it really does start to get hard to untangle from an American (or other) perspective. After all, a typical American racist would welcome educated white Europeans from Poland or the Czech Republic (a number of Americans are descended from such East European nationalities), and would never understand why a nation like the UK seems so eager to kick them.out to keep Little England as English as possible.

Of course, in part because the U.S. is a nation of immigrants, a reality that is generally hard to dismiss in American discourse. As America's current president proudly demonstrates, having a Scottish immigrant mother.


No-one in the UK seriously remembers the Empire or regrets it's break-up. Seriously dude, it never comes up. We're over it. I know everyone else doesn't believe it, but the Empire is entirely an obsession of liberal chatterati, in the sense of how eeeeevil it was. For everyone else, it's ancient history with the Tudors.

What you DO hear people say, lots, is "well, it wasn't such a sh*thole when we ran the place". But there is no desire that we should _still_ run the place, just a sense of smugly satisfied superiority.

You're right, but there isn't much of a Latino nuclear family. The illegitimacy rate among Latino immigrants is 49% (followed by black immigrants at 34%, white immigrants at 13%, and Asian immigrants at 11%), and increases to 57% among native Latinos.

That by itself is a good reason to limit Latino immigration. Subsidizing single motherhood is a bad idea for all sorts of reasons.

"Nuclear family" is parents+sons (in contrast with "enlarged family" - parents+sons+grandparents+grandsons+uncles+nephews+counsins+...); I think it is irrelevant to the point if these sons are legitimate or illegitimate (unless we use "nuclear family" as short for "traditional nuclear family")

It's very relevant to the qualities you want in immigrants when considering a merit based system.

"We should take in more ..." is too simplistic, because there are so many rules that make immigration a mess. First, we have labor certification rules for many immigrants. This hurts foreign university graduates who would like to stay, but labor certification rules mean that any employer must certify that they don't take jobs from Americans -- this is a sham, of course. And labor certification is not applied to certain immigrants, like relatives and dependents, or refugees. Why not? I say, abolish labor certification entirely, that will make it easier for skilled immigrants to come in. But unions oppose that, so the Dems do too. Second, there are too many classes of visas. There should only be two: temporary visitors, and those who want to stay permanently. That's all we need. Now, we have Hs and Js and student visas and au pair visas etc etc. It all needs to go. Then set a ceiling on permanent visas, enforce illegal hiring laws against employers, and that's it.

What is Tyler's take on the Machiavellian argument associated with Ann Coulter that it doesn't matter if the immigrants are awesome if they end up voting Democrat?

Clearly, it's something like, it doesn't matter if immigrants bloat the federal government as long as they increase the availability of ethnic food near his house.

What is your take on the non-Machiavellian argument that non-whites will keep voting against Republicans in overwhelming numbers if the Republicans continue to be anti-immigrant (and perceived to be unfriendly to non-whites in general)?

There is little evidence that pro-immigration Republicans can win a majority of non-whites. There are a lot fo reasons for these voting patterns and the empirical evidence doesn't match your desires.

There is also little evidence that multi-racial (I exclude white ethnic mixes, real multi-racial) societies don't end up breaking up their voting by ethnic patterns.

America 1970 to 2000 is actually a good example of expanding democracy, technological progress, and wealth creation. We did that by working, not sitting and complaining about the brown people.

"Anyone who disagrees with me is whining."

I just called out our success. Maybe the whiners are the ones whining.

Aren't you the one whining right now? Pretty sad failure to multitask if you can't work and also have a position on immigration. "Sit down and shut up and stay chained to your desk, scum" is your heartwarming message.

I think you just made that up, you poor sad soul.

"We did that by working, not sitting and [getting active politically]"

This. All free or partly-free multi-ethnic states have tribal rent seeking and a bloated state. Political identity polarises on ethnic lines. It's horrendous.

There are obviously HUGE social capital costs from running a large multi-ethnic state. Huge. But Tyler won't discuss endogenous social capital in monocultures. It's all magic dirt.

Bush I got crushed in the Hispanic vote just after amnesty. Sure did him a ton of good.

If America is nowhere close to the desirable limit on immigration, where is the logical virtue in focusing on what is, for now, a theoretical constraint? Also, for a blog with strong supply side sympathies, it’s surprising that the focus is on the flow of migrants, rather than enhancing the country’s assimilative capacity. Where is the call for structural reform? Or does that bell only get rung in debates over government spending.

My understanding and general is that the US does a pretty good job assimilating immigrants. Far better than most European countries anyway. Why should we focus on that?

Sorry, should say "and general experience..."

'Far better than most European countries anyway.'

Far, far better, it being one of the most striking things that makes America so successful from its founding to the present.

And as can be seen below, the U.S. is so much better at assimilation that dedicated opponents of immigration to the U.S. have to use anti-immigration propaganda from Europe to bolster their case, such as cliff arroyo. Especially as the anti-immigrant Europeans have centuries of practice at stirring hatred against groups considered outsiders, including using lies and violence.

How well are African Americans assimilating? I never hear about them anymore. I guess the melting pot worked, right?

Isn't the statistic in America "the more immigrants you know, the more you like them?"

The fear comes from the economically isolated and immigration isolated communities who see it as a scary story someone told them.

There is no fear, just a rational understanding that if you can only take so many people then, as Tyler says, you should pick the ones who will most benefit the host country.



So we are supposed to take as gospel truth the unsupported statements of a political opponent? I get that Noah Smith wants to smear the GOP but why should we take the opinions of a GOP opponent as a reliable source?

"we really should take in more immigrants. Not only from Africa, but from many countries that are not major successes on the gdp or education front, India and Iran being two other obvious examples"

Just saying 'we' should do something is not a very convincing argument. What does Africa get out of sending it's supposed best and brightest to the US? Remittances yada yada yada.... you don't build an economy on remittances or the Philippines would be richer than South Korea (again).

"Adopting a cosmopolitan ethic"

DEFINE YOUR TERMS! Without a definition 'cosmopolitan ethic' is empty verbiage. In this context of this (and similar) posts it seems to mean 'care more about poor people in other countries than about citizens'. Again.... what's the benefit?

What does Africa get out of sending it’s supposed best and brightest to the US?

What does Africa get out of keeping them? Their systems aren't geared to take advantage of the skills these people possess. Those skills aren't necessarily conducive to building better institutions. Forcing them to stay means their brains will either stultify or turn to some mischief.

care more about poor people in other countries than about citizens

This is incorrect on so many levels. The care expressed for those poor people extends only to giving them permission to enter the US, after which they are on their own. Immigration advocates don't express a wish to take away what citizens have (an automatic right of presence, in-built advantages for the local market, an array of welfare services.) How that translates to caring "more" for the foreign poor than for citizens beats me.

Their systems aren’t geared to take advantage of the skills these people possess.

What systems would those be? And what skills? Simple bullshit.

What career options are open for a rocket scientist in Rwanda? Or Iceland for that matter?

Producing rocket scientists seems like a vast waste of scarce resources for Rwanda, or Iceland. Why do their education systems produce so many people so unsuited to their own countries?

"This is incorrect on so many levels. The care expressed for those poor people extends only to giving them permission to enter the US, after which they are on their own. Immigration advocates don’t express a wish to take away what citizens have (an automatic right of presence, in-built advantages for the local market, an array of welfare services.) How that translates to caring “more” for the foreign poor than for citizens beats me."

I certainly wouldn't say they are "on their own" as I believe they are entitled to an array of public services.

The reality is that if you are letting people in based on how much it would help THEM instead of how much it would help existing U.S. citizens, then you are placing the needs of foreign nationals higher than those of U.S. citizens.

5. Just to repeat, we really should take in more immigrants. Not only from Africa, but from many countries that are not major successes on the gdp or education front, India and Iran being two other obvious examples.

- Prescription for the erosion of culture through demographic shifts. Sean Kelleher is right, assimilation is far more important given the current political climate than flow increases.

"assimilation is far more important"

But then when did assimilation ever give us fashionably obscure ethnic restaurants in strip malls frequented by moderate attractive women? Much less secret menus? What you want an end to secret menus?:


Criticising secret menus is a dog-whistle for wanting gas chambers. :-)

Define "assimilation", and prove that the people from the countries mentioned above aren't measuring up to your definition.

Assimilation is mainly a myth. Behavior is predominantly predicted by genetics- secondarily by random environmental effects. Culture, family, shared environment like schools, peers have zero effect. Assimilation happens basically as fast as admixture- and for both sides.

#1 - It's odd that you keep generalizing about "Africa", and then refer to the allegedly high incomes of e.g. Nigerian immigrants. What about Somalian immigrants, as other commenters here have mentioned? Sudanese immigrants? Their outcomes are not good, by really any measure.

#3 - More importantly, what about the cruelties committed not *to* immigrants but *by* immigrants, namely to people who have lived and worked and paid taxes here for decades? Do their stories also count, or maybe even count double or triple? How many victims of e.g. Somalian violence in Minnesota or Sudanese violence in Nebraska (just to cherry-pick two easy examples) would you say are a reasonable amount of collateral damage? I would personally say the acceptable number of incidents is zero, though others may feel otherwise.

#4 - Maybe you could explain "the degree of cosmopolitanism in your ethic" to the families of the people killed by Emanuel Kidega Samson, the Tennessee church shooter who immigrated here from Sudan. Why was he here? At whose behest? Can those victims' tragedies be dismissed as anecdotal? Are their stories mainly important to you as potential sources of backlash?

Also of note, if you search Google now for e.g. "crime rates of african immigrants in usa", all (as in all) of the negative/critical articles and sites have been removed, leaving only results from e.g. Vox, Slate, Pew Research, BBC, Human Rights Watch, etc. Is that just an example of algorithms behaving neutrally, or is it a deliberate tweak that Google has introduced since Trump's alleged shithole comments? Do you think it is a good and healthy development for results from e.g. Breitbart or even American Renaissance to be removed? Isn’t that what Steven Pinker was talking about in that recent video that upset so many people?

#3 - You bring up a good point but I also think it's hard to make such assessments that inevitably fall on utilitarian grounds. I'd like to see you defend your acceptable number of incidents as "zero."

Consider every ethnic group that ever historically immigrated to the United States. Is there any group that *never* had a member commit a crime against someone who was previously here? If not, and if such a fact were grounds for prohibiting *every* group that ever immigrated, would you even be in America today?

Perhaps a starting point for discussion would be to compare not to zero but to a baseline of native-born crime rates, and then from there discussing the merits or drawbacks of using specific subsets of that...

I am a Somali American and 99% of my fellow Somalis are NOT immigrants but refugees fleeing certain death at home. We are perhaps the least selected for group to ever call the US home. The UN simply assigned you a random number in whatever refugee camp you were in and the airfare was paid by some Lutheran church. Somalis in the US are not the elite of their country, but a randomly selected representative sample.

Somalis should not be compared to highly selected Nigerians or Indians but to the refugees from Ireland after the famine. You know, those responsible for the Draft Riots, gangs, religious strife (Know Nothing) etc....

Lutheran churches pay...amazing.

You are correct that refugees should be considered separately from regular immigrants. Forcing all refugees to pass the same cost/benefit estimate as other immigrants leaves a lot of charitable capacity on the table.

My preferred refugee policy is something along the lines of Canada's "Groups of Five" sponsorship system: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/refugees/help-outside-canada/private-sponsorship-program/groups-five.html . Empirically, this has been more than order of magnitude more efficient than recent US policy: Canada has been taking in more refugees than the US despite having having about a tenth of the base population; and despite doing so much more for its size, Canada is suffering from much less populist backlash.

Go home and fix your own country.

You have to go back.

If we do take in the educated young people of third world countries, we need to acknowledge that all of our rhetoric about helping these countries and caring for the poor in the world is hot air. We are deliberately undermining these countries, ripping off their education systems, and ensuring their poor do not have the chance of improving their lot.

Would you rather take their poor, and thereby help them out?

How about Americans move there and run their institutions for them?

Seriously, what's the objection, if they're just going to move to America to be governed by American institutions any way?

Plenty of places like China have done just fine with that arrangement, and eventually the emigrants start coming home or staying home. The best way to support poor countries is with free trade and quality charity.

Chinese are now the largest immigrant group.

China isn't that nice a place.

The largest immigrant group into the U.S." That would be good news

I think there's some validity to brain-drain concerns, but is it entirely a one-way argument? What of the argument that many of these young people's skills and abilities would be wasted and undeveloped in the poverty and corruption of their homeland if they stayed anyway? If so, that's a lose-lose for both countries. On the other hand, how many immigrants have come to the United States, developed their skills and abilities (maybe even got a taste of American democracy and capitalism with their ethnic restaurant - and many other - businesses), and then returned home to improve their homeland with their new American-acquired business, political, and other skills? The number may be negligible and irrelevant to the discussion, but I bet it's not *zero*. I bet it may even be possibly significant. If so, that's a win-win for both countries.

"Brain drain" is a legitimate concern. But the US already implements one of the best solutions: we educate lots of foreign students and allow plenty of them to return home to help develop their home countries. This is a significant contributor to the rise of the former giga-shitholes of China and India. Nationalists sometimes complain about what a waste it is to send top foreign PhDs back home, but from a global development perspective this can be more of a feature than a bug.

The greater the number of foreign students who are willing to return home after being educated and/or working in the US for a while (note that US immigration law already has a provision for Optional Practical Training), the greater the number of them that the US can help train without political backlash. (Though this will vary a bit based on country of origin: e.g. training more Indians is politically safer than training more Chinese, since India is a natural US ally for the foreseeable future, while China is more of a frenemy.)


Additionally, I'm tired of arguments that push a zero-sum, mercantilist view of "brain drain." It simply isn't accurate in the vast majority of scenarios, and even in those cases that it is, we cannot force someone to stay in Malawi anymore than we can force them to stay in Indiana.

"assimilation is far more important"

An excellent argument against Malawi paying for public education if anyone who can will depart for greener pastures.

correction: "we cannot force someone to stay in Malawi"

an excellent argument against Malawi paying for public education

Right, I'm all for fully privatized education (among other things).

1. Outcomes for African immigrants are irrelevant. What matters is outcomes for the host society. Which have been strongly negative. Not everything is about money. How do you put a price on the Rotherham crimes? What is more immigrants from the West Indies do well in the first generation but they conform to the African American norm in the next generation. It seems that African immigrants do too. So we are only adding to the under class and the racial problems in America. That is not sensible.

2. Taking in more by keeping it hard is contradictory. It is also impossible because the people who run the programs hate mainstream Western society. They want to flood the West with immigrants and the second anyone takes their eyes off them, they will. So they will insist we take more and then make it even easier.

3. I agree with this. Except for the obvious point - none should have been let in in the first place. Clearly they were let in for political ends. The Left wanted to see mainstream politicians go on public record breaking up families, deporting people and providing endless hostile propaganda. Which they are now going to get.

4. Adopting a cosmopolitan ethic is about the worst thing that can happen right now. There has been a break down in trust between the voters and the elites, especially on immigration - mainly because "cosmopolitans" (that is, people who hate America) have lied and lied and lied to the American people. Immigration reform was sold as a minor change back in the 60s. Teddy Kennedy said that no changes to the ethnic make up of America was planned. Well that was a lie. Every time. What needs to take place is that the elites have to convince ordinary Americans that they do not hate them. Flooding the mid-West with Somalis is not going to help.

5. The West as a whole should take in no immigrants at all. None. There is no economic benefit to immigration whatsoever and the social costs are too high.

'How do you put a price on the Rotherham crimes?'

The bill coming due for having an empire?

"The bill coming due for having an empire?"

Then the elite can pay with their own daughters, at least the German elite has the common decency to let their own daughters be raped/killed by migrants rather than make the working class take all the heat.

Well, to start with a bit of reality - Germany did not have much of an empire.

And to add a bit more reality - the incidents in Köln, Hamburg, and Zürich involved more property theft (stolen purses/bags/cell phones/etc.) than sexual assault, and the attacks in Köln were mainly committed against those fitting a certain profile - such as wearing headscarves.

'Then the elite can pay with their own daughters'

You really have no idea what Köln (or a number of German towns and cities) is like during Fasching, do you? For example, in this region, how attractive young women are picked off the street by masked men, subject to various indignities while bound hand and foot with tape or plastic ties, then left tied to a street sign or street lamp.

I'm actually referring to the Maria Ladenburger case, the German official who was so unaffected by his daughter being raped and murdered by a refugee that he was encouraging people to support more refugees coming to Germany.
I don't see English officials so blase about the loss of their family members.

Interesting, considering that the case occurred about 90 minuts down the A5 from where I live, and has been extensively reported on. Including the fact that her father did not act in the way you are incorrectly reporting. Which is essentially a lie spread by AfD Landtagsabgeordnete (state representative) Holger Arppe - 'Berichte über das ehrenamtliche Engagement des Opfers in einem Verein sowie Falschmeldungen in Medien, dass es sich hierbei um Engagement für Flüchtlinge handelte, lösten eine Welle von Hass und rassistischen Anfeindungen gegenüber dem Verein, dem Täter sowie der Familie des Opfers aus. Der AfD-Landtagsabgeordnete Holger Arppe warf dem Vater basierend auf den Fake News vor, er habe in einer Traueranzeige zu Spenden für Flüchtlinge aufgerufen; dies sei „pathologische Realitätsverweigerung“.' https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kriminalfall_Maria_L.#Berichterstattung

He also quit the AfD after people started paying more attention to him, such as chat logs where he talks about wanting to kill political opponents, something taken seriously in a country with recent experience of a genocidal government that killed its opponents - https://www.stern.de/politik/deutschland/afd-politiker-holger-arppe-tritt-nach-berichten-ueber-gewaltchats-zurueck-7602394.html

Here is the actual reporting concerning what happened - 'In der Traueranzeige zu Marias Tod baten die Familie und Angehörigen "anstelle von Blumen" um Spenden. Neben einem Projekt der katholischen Kirche in Bangladesch war dort auch die Studenteninitiative angegeben. Auf der Homepage von Weitblick e.V. erfährt man, dass der Verein sich auch für Flüchtlingsheime in Freiburg einsetzt, dort "Spielenachmittage, Sommerfeste und Ausflüge für Kinder" und für Erwachsene ein "Kulturprogramm, beispielsweise mit Theaterbesuchen" organisiert.' https://www.stern.de/panorama/stern-crime/freiburg--wie-mit-dem-tod-von-maria-l--stimmung-gegen-fluechtlinge-gemacht-wird-7225162.html

Seems like the family was acting pretty much in the same fashion as those opposed to the death penalty do, even when a family member is killed. Instead of calling for someone's death, they simply continue to follow their moral precepts.

So killing political opponents is OK, and not wanting to kill his daughter's killer is not. Sounds like leftists everywhere.

Wow, the Maria Ladenburger murderer was claiming to be a 16 year old refugee when he was 31. Successfully.

I am pretty sure no one born in 2005 had any role in the Empire. I could be wrong.

But the fact you are going with the Matthew 27:25 approach is why cosmopolitanism is wrong - you cannot trust immigration policy to people who hate the West.

And yet, the legacy of Britain's Empire can be seen throughout the world, and not just in the UK. And not only in 2005, but in 2018 too.

Nothing biblical about the fact that the British Empire, followed by the Commonwealth, is the reason for why certain groups are in found in significant numbers in the UK, compared to France. After all, there aren't too many Algerians in the UK, and there aren't too Jamaicans in France.

'you cannot trust immigration policy to people who hate the West'

Odd to think that the people running the British Empire hated the West. Or that the U.S., a nation proudly built on immigration, hates the West too. (And as for your Kennedy remark - my memory of the original lottery of 50,000 visas a year included a guarantee that 25,000 of the winners each year would be Irish.)

when does Germany get the bill for WW2 clockwork? And the Holocaust?

What's your bill for having a genocidal one?

Maybe being the 82nd Turkish Ili.

I, too, have read Ann Coulter's tweets about immigration.

"The West as a whole should take in no immigrants at all."
Tyler provides supporting evidence of the increasing uselessness of labor.

From the book description: Average Is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation

"Renowned economist and bestselling author Tyler Cowen explains that high earners are taking ever more advantage of machine intelligence and achieving ever-better results. Meanwhile, nearly every business sector relies less and less on manual labor, and that means a steady, secure life somewhere in the middle—average—is over."

The number of jobs is shrinking in technological societies, so why continue massive immigration?

The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time

Ethnic restaurants.

and to make sure Disney can get people for less money.

That Disney case really affected me.

I get why maybe some tech firm needs H1B people. Disney doesn't.

The gains are almost entirely due to selection:


And should we really be robbing developing countries of their best and brightest?


Priorities man! Which is more important, that poor countries have doctors or American elites can preen about how inclusive they're being?

So benevolent! I nominate Cliff Arroyo for Chief of Administering Assistance to Poor Countries.

And don't forget the ethnic fusion restaurants! With secret menus and moderately attractive women!

I think there’s some validity to brain-drain concerns, but what's the counter-argument? How many of a poor and corrupt country's best and brightest have their skills and abilities wasted and undeveloped if they stay? If it's more than zero, aren't those cases a lose-lose for both countries? On the other hand, how many immigrants have come to the United States, developed their skills and abilities (maybe even got a taste of American democracy and capitalism with their ethnic restaurant – and many other – businesses), and then returned home to improve their homeland with their new American-acquired business, political, and other skills? The number may be negligible and irrelevant to the discussion, but I bet it’s not *zero*. If so, aren't those cases a win-win for both countries?

I don't really subscribe to the zero-sum mercantilist model wherein wealthier countries "rob" developing ones, because it has aged poorly in a world where experienced Indo-Americans and attendant positive spillovers turned India into an IT powerhouse.

Even in those cases where the model is valid, I cannot justify interfering with free movement. For it is also true that the Plains, Rust Belt, and Appalachia lose many young professionals to their Coastal friends, and I have not seen anyone propose limiting the movement of their people.

African immigrants routinely practice polygamy. As just one of many examples, I taught a brother-sister pair from the West Congo last year. The brother was a year older, quite low-skilled but still functional. Cheated like crazy, knew next to nothing, but could write his name. He tested out of ELD classes. The sister was dyslexic, illiterate, and if she had an IQ of 80 I'd be shocked. She was never getting out of ELD. She was much nicer, more interesting, and in jest one day I mentioned to one of the other ELD teachers that if I hadn't known better, I'd never have guessed that they weren't related.

The teacher grinned. "Well, they probably have the same dad. But both their moms are here, living under the same roof. I think a third is coming."

"A third sibling?"

"A third wife."

The sister is finally graduating this year. She will be marrying her "boyfriend" shortly afterwards, a guy who is almost certainly over 30 and money is involved. I think he's paying for her, but maybe it's the other way round.

Since then I've run into many more cases, and of course this is well-reported in many cities with many African countries. There's a bestselling awardwinning book about US immigrant polygamy.

But those Nigerians with the three wives, it's ok because the man might have a college degree from back in Nigeria. Or lied about it. (I assume--or at least hope--that the ones educated here stick to one wife.)

We don't need more smart people. Africa needs its smart people, four wives or one. Let them stay there.

"many cities with many African countries"

many cities with many African immigrants".

You say "routinely," and it is obviously concerning. But hard to tell whether this is the more common experience (Ivory Coast immigrant) https://twitter.com/AB_sanogo/status/951966502193979392, or wether this is http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/23/nyregion/23polygamy.html.

I had a summer job in 1981 sharing an office with a personable UCLA grad student from West Africa. He explained that while he only had one wife at present, he intended to add one each decade, up to a limit of four. He wasn't a Muslim, he noted, but he thought the Prophet was reasonable in setting a limit of four.

I asked him if that wasn't unfair to the other men who wouldn't get a wife because he had four.

He said that everybody knows that there are far more women than men in the world.

Sounds like an HBD fantasy. With wealthy and successful men marrying, rapid positive genetic change, amiright?

Polygamy creates "Big Man" economies with lots of surplus young men with no marriage or job prospects. Very destabilizing.

Agreed. The second issue is that these countries then seek to externalize their issues by exporting their hordes of prospect-less young men. It poses a conundrum for a libertarian order, but fortunately one that we can solve through free association and politically disenfranchising the migrants (see Qatar and UAE for a good example of how we can address this matter).

Yes. And women become commodities.

Monogamy is one of those huge economic benefits that Tyler never deigns to consider. Because it's like, culture, or something.

Gay men help ameliorate that problem.

There aren't enough men sexually attracted to other men for homosexuality to ameliorate the problem.

I like this method, mr "realist" and we should all extrapolate from the worst examples we know. Dogs bite. Restaurants give us food poisoning. Packages are stolen.

It is a wonderful outlook and a wonderful way to live.

It's how everybody lives. That's why you pay so much for white neighbors.

I don't pay much at all and all I see are white people for miles.

This many posts in, and nobody noticed the actual Straussian argument?

Hint: what distinguishes immigration to the US is not the green card and H1-B (the talent-selected immigrants) folks, it’s the self-selected (undocumented) immigrants. Immigrants from Africa to the US are almost entirely part of the talent-selected group.

Other countries with immigration rates similar to the US (Canada is the obvious example) talent-select almost all of their immigrants. This isn’t really true in the US, where roughly half of all immigration is undocumented.

'We' is a variable. In California 'we' means send them to LA for street living.
They are not selected, almost all come in mass immigrations aided by NGOs.
Most of our migration, external, is due to wars we generally start.
Most of the migration internal is due to bankrupt local governments, like the Chicago.

Most of our immigrants are from China and Mexico. which wars have happened in them in the past 60 years, let alone been started by us?

Let the ladies in

_Attractive_ ladies, please.

I'll screen them....don't thank me....just a public service.

I agree with the posters here that immigration should be exclusively among the high skilled. The h1b program is in my view beneficial for the most part to US with minimal social costs.

But outside of that I don't favor immigration. Not because the social costs are high. But because I have some moral misgivings against it. The United States is the richest country in the world. And only the best and the brightest can earn the right to move in here. I don't believe the rest deserve it.

The privilege of living in the richest country in the world can be bestowed only selectively to a few. It cannot be indiscriminate.

This is the "US as a country club" model, or "US as a Brahmin caste" model. It assumes that only a small subset of people need or deserve a quality life.

But no country club can stand even for a day without the help.

I am assuming no such thing.

I am just saying - there is no moral case against letting the best people in.

Living in the US is a privilege of sorts. Even a maidservant here makes more in PPP terms than many college educated clerical government officials in a country like India. So the privilege of moving here has to be earned. It can't be handed out indiscriminately.

If you think the US is the richest, you need to travel more.

It is the richest by per-capita income barring a few small countries like Norway, Austria and Monaco. And easily the richest among the "new world" countries.

That's the agricultural worker program, which can be made a seasonal thing.

The privilege of living in the richest country in the world can be bestowed only selectively to a few. It cannot be indiscriminate

Now you are pulling our leg.


Speak for yourself. I, for one, welcome cheap nannies and landscapers.

The Brahmin wants to ban all lower-caste people from immigrating. This is just too funny. Plus most H1-B holders from India, except those who have Ph.Ds from major US research universities are really towards the bottom end of skills and IQ.

So Ocean Vuong just won the T.S. Eliot prize in poetry - the first in his family to have college education. We have Hindu supremacists (racists) on this board bleating about middle of the road skills acquired through rote learning as people we should allow to immigrate. I think Tyler had it correct when he opined once that immigration policy should be geared not towards dentists (middle-brow skills) but to the extreme ends of the talent distribution. And there is no way to do that without building in some randomization along with some basic skill criteria.

Let's think of Immigration as an Auction.

Suppose you have 5 articles to sell, who do you sell it to? The 5 highest bidders. Correct?

Similarly, if US has the appetite to let in say 0.5MM people in a year (making up a number). Those 0.5 MM people MUST be the among the top 0.5MM applicants in terms of highest lifetime economic potential. This criteria will naturally bias the pool towards the highly skilled as well as the young.

Anything other than this model is immoral, in my view.

Some conservatives here might argue that besides economic potential, we must have an additional ethnic criteria where we favor European whites over brown Indians or yellow Chinese. I differ there. Just pick the people with the highest economic potential. Color blind policy.

This isn't quite the case today. The people who are immigrating (even legally) aren't the cream of the applicant pool. Correct me if I am wrong.

What are your thoughts on the "brain drain" that this kind of approach might contribute to in poorer (e.g. most of Africa) or rising (e.g. India) countries that have great need for high-skilled workers and leaders?

I don't like the word "brain drain".

Brains ought to stay in the geography where they can be best exploited. Period. Moreover the immigration volumes are anyway insignificant compared to the number of smart people in say India or China or Africa.

My point is simple. Think in "marginal" terms. You have one additional person to let into the bus. The bus that takes you to the richest country on planet earth. Do you let in a guy whose lifetime earning potential in US (discounted to the present) is say $100K or the guy whose earning potential is $1MM? If you let in the first guy ahead of the second, how do you console the second guy? Is there any moral framework that can justify this choice?

Why is there only one bus?

You were wasting your time pondering this philosophical question while you were supposed to be driving the bus. Now your bus has run over both people and plummeted into a ravine, killing all aboard.

Tyler is not arguing that more of group A should be let in instead of group B. He's arguing to let more people in, period. The bus analogy is misleading since it implies a hard limit where one does not exist.

Whatever the hard limit is to the number of people the U.S. could take in, current immigration debates, even the most radical proposals, come nowhere near it. If the 48 contiguous U.S. states were populated to the same density as England, that would be over 3 billion people.

We can't make the population density of a new world country like US match that of an old world country like UK overnight. That is a process which will take a few centuries. One has to be pragmatic here.

I don't know what is the maximum limit one can have on the number of people to let in, in a given year. But whatever that limit might be, select people to fill up that quota based on merit (which is best measured by economic potential - which in turn is signaled by one's education or one's test scores).

"If the 48 contiguous U.S. states were populated to the same density as England, that would be over 3 billion people."

Leaving out reality. For one, there are over 500,000 square miles of desert in the US. There are 468 acres in England, and that's stretching a point, since it's really a shingle beach.

Now, part of me loves the idea of saying, hey, you can come to the US, you just have to stay in the public housing we built in Death Valley. But that would be really really mean.

Don't mock the great Morecambe Sandy Desert.

I don’t think my brain belongs to my country, and I don’t think yours does either.

We don't really have obligations to either Africa or India. If they wish to retain their bright minds, they really should do a better job not being such crappy areas, and providing high-value amenities valued by educated people.

Either way, "brain drain" doesn't really prevent them from in-sourcing some rudimentary white-collar functions, that will make them wealthier in the long-run. Like, call centers are pretty crappy jobs in the US, but it sure as hell beats subsistence farming. Hopefully if you pick up some tricks on an IT help desk in India, you can help out cottage IT industries in India develop.

Also, while India may have lost some of their brightest minds, they clearly have enough brainpower leftover for a limited space program, a nuclear arsenal, and a decent military.

This is like saying Norway and Germany and Ireland will never develop because we took all their people in the late 19th and early 20th century, IMO. Those nations are all doing just fine.

The bigger concern for "drains," IMO, are the Eastern European states shedding population to places like the UK, because it makes them weaker vis a vis Russia.

"I don’t believe the rest deserve it."

I think any moral misgivings should be the other way round. So the poor people that emigrant Indians leave behind in their home country - who can only look forward to a life of poverty in a system that is in at least some part enabled by the educated and rich Indians that emigrate - do deserve it more. Especially considering they bore the larger share of societal costs of the education and wealth of these emigrants back home.

Besides, those who are highly skilled and educated can find a decent enough job almost anywhere, even at home. So their migration to the 'richest country in the world' is in fact motivated by pure greed for money and not any ethical consideration. The poor on the other hand migrate out of desperation and not greed.

In short: H1B visa holders are pretty low on the ethical ladder.

Read my above reply to Jan.

How do you justify letting in a guy with a lower economic potential ahead of a guy with a higher potential? How do you console the latter?

A true economist's view of a human being. An individual's value is measured by his "economic potential", whatever that might be. It doesn't matter if that individual is entertaining, a good parent, or generally pleasant to be around, it's economic potential that counts. Of course, potential is never guaranteed to be realized but we have to start someplace. After all, there are so many natives without real economic potential that we need to limit their competition.

Hmm maybe not everyone is a communist like yourself? [Fixation on money and material goods at the exculsion of all else is the definitive mark of a Communist. The others are secondary.]

And as hard as it might be to imagine for communists not everyone is obsessed with 'greatest economic potential'. Neither do they worry about consoling millionaires who couldn't make it to a billion, for example.

I was anticipating this criticism. And it is partly valid.

I get that cultural fit among other things can matter, besides economic potential. I am not hostile to "cultural nationalism" in principle. But do read my reply to Steve Sailer below. The reason why cultural nationalism is misplaced in US is because it has strayed too far from whatever its original "culture" was.

Fixation on money and material goods

No, I think it's power. Power can convert to money and material goods, but POWER is primary.
Uncle Joe, to pick a communist at random, had no interest in material goods. Read the section in Parallel Lives: Hitler and Stalin on Stalin's living in a luxurious dacha in eastern Moscow in 1942. He had a shed built in back with a wood supply, a stove and he slept on a cot. The dacha had a dozen beautiful bedrooms with beds.

H1B visa holders are pretty low on the ethical ladder.

So having educated and trained themselves to be hotshot programmers, they should abandon all that and reluctantly devote themselves to building (crappy quality) roads and sewers in their homeland?

You may be more charitable towards H1B seekers if you were aware of how many of them come from very modest backgrounds, and whose families have known want until yesterday. These aren't the scions of rich business families we are talking about here.

Having said all this, there's a gross mismatch between what we are training people for, and what Indian society and the Indian economy need. In the late 90s, IT acquired the connotation of being THE career path for promising youngsters. So everybody and his uncle wanted in on it, to the detriment of not just the quality of Indian programmers, but also creating a severe lack of people trained in other useful skills. Just for that, I'd advocate doing away with the H1B program.

You do realize they can work remotely in India anyways?

3. The Canada/Haitian reference sticks out like a black eye amidst the African arguments. Geography doesn't appear to be the index, it's race.

Isn't it the success of the country?

While I am open to an argument for a wise immigration policy of mutual benefit to US society and immigrants, I’m afraid Cowen has not yet made such an argument persuasively. If I understand correctly, the entirety of the argument in the Bloomberg article is that African immigrants to the US are on average better educated and more law-abiding than the pre-existing population, and that therefore US society would benefit from having more of them. To put the opposite spin on the same facts, the argument would seem to be that the current US population is problematic, and it is therefore desirable to augment it by importing superior foreigners.

In order to justify this, a few issues (at least) need to be addressed. First, one should argue that importing superior foreigners is a more effective way to improve the level of education and lawfulness of US society than education and social reform. Even if one ultimately concludes that education and social reform will not significantly improve problematic aspects of US society, one should then argue that the social benefits of importing superior foreigners outweigh the cost in resentment of the inferior pre-existing population. Second, one should consider studies not only of the outcomes of first generation immigrants, but also of the second and third generation. Indeed first generation immigrants from poor countries are likely to be above average in intelligence and conscientiousness, for the reasons that Cowen discusses in the Bloomberg article, but their children and grand-children are likely to regress to the mean of their forebears.

Having thought about the question more, it seems to me that the first question that must be addressed is whether an absolute increase of the US population is desirable, and if so, why importing foreigners is a better way to do this than to incentivize fertility. Given that Cowen has argued before that increased unemployment due to automization is going to be a more and more important issue, it is not immediately clear that increasing the population is a good idea.

Tyler has spoken about the fact that Nigerian immigrants don't rank too badly in terms of outcomes or in terms of education.

But contrary to the spirit of this blog, he is NOT thinking "marginally". Sure, the Nigerians might be OK. But are they the best people on the planet who you can let in? Are they better than the brightest people from UK, Norway, India, China or Iran, who may be still waiting in the queue?

Right. America is likely to get diminishing marginal returns out of African immigrants.

When I was at UCLA in 1981 I hung out with African students, who tended to be highly selected. For example, my officemate was one of eight of the nine siblings in his West African family who had advanced degrees from Western universities. Two of his siblings were cabinet ministers in his home country and another was an architect who had designed the new parliament building.

But the biggest fact of the 21st Century is that the UN in 2017 forecast that the population of sub-Saharan Africa will grow from 0.5 billion in 1990 to 4.0 billion in 2100. That's a lot of diminishing marginal returns.

That makes no sense. America will simply have a larger African pool from which it can choose whom to admit. The quality of the average African immigrant should keep rising relative to immigrants from demographically stagnant places like Europe or China. Africa will become a larger version of what India is now in terms of the quality of the average immigrant. Your dislike of people with black skin is clouding your ignorant analysis.

"The quality of the average African immigrant should keep rising relative to immigrants from demographically stagnant places like Europe or China." This assumes source-country educational/etc. level is irrelevant. In practice, over the past few decades, China and India have improved their education and related systems more rapidly than most European or African countries, and this has had much more of an impact than fresh Chinese/Indian population growth on the number of Chinese and Indians usefully employed at hypercompetitive American tech companies and research labs.

Yes, most of the education-system improvement so far has been of the "catch-up"/"low-hanging fruit" form; if your previous system involved mobilizing kids across the country to beat up their teachers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Revolution ), it's hard to go anywhere but up. But even this has not yet happened in practically all of Africa. It is not yet clear when this will change on a large scale, and until it does, the number of African immigrants admissible under a merit-based policy may increase but it won't undergo the kind of phase-change we've seen recently for Chinese and Indians.

Thanks for keeping this fact in focus when so many want to somehow not notice it. 4.0 billion is 4000 million, 4,000,000,000. See those zeros people 4 billllllion.

At present, the fundamental question is whether American citizens should enjoy self-rule like, say, Israeli citizens, or whether the United States should be what the late Sen. Eugene McCarthy called "A Colony of the World."

Steve - There is this notion among many American conservatives that this is an Anglo Saxon nation. A country that has its foundation in the Protestant work ethic. In English institutions. In Magna Carta. In the Glorious Revolution. In the writings of the English emigre Thomas Paine. Among other things.

Hence it should retain that core English character.

Being a conservative (albeit Hindu), I don't have problems with that in the abstract. But unfortunately it doesn't hold water. Because the US has strayed too far from that English idyll. The proportion of US population that is English is perhaps under 10%. There are more Catholics than Anglicans or Episcopalians in US. Heck...even the mother country has strayed very far from that idyll. English conservatives from 18th century like Samuel Johnson or Burke would be horrified at socialist monstrosities like NHS in England today.

The conservative religious character of US too has for the most part eroded. What would John Winthrop say if he were to visit Boston today? Close to half of American marriages end in divorce. Close to a third of the new borns are illegitimate. Close to 45% of population receives some welfare handout or the other.

So when conservatives talk about privileging Anglo Saxon culture, it sounds quite hollow! You gotta walk the talk, before preaching cultural nationalism. People who have given up on their traditions altogether, have no business talking about the primacy of "western culture". They don't begin to understand "western culture".

Which is why all arguments against US becoming the "colony of the world" seem rather self-righteous and also hypocritical. The rhetoric of Cultural conservatism sounds pretty bad when it is not backed up by actual conservatism in day to day life.

The only morally defensible stance that the US can take is to let the best people in. Regardless of their cultural background.

"The only morally defensible stance that the US can take is to let the best people in. Regardless of their cultural background."

Why isn't that the only morally defensible stance that India can take?

That's because India defines itself explicitly in cultural terms. As a distinctive cultural zone. More so lately with the rise of Hindu nationalism.

And the rhetoric of cultural nationalism isn't purely political. The people actually live the culture, in their day to day life. Cultural nationalism isn't hollow, like it is in US.

In the US, cultural nationalism sounds fake. It's a bit like Harvey Weinstein campaigning against pre-marital sex.

"In the US, cultural nationalism sounds fake"

When the eagle soars dude, the eagle soars. It only sounds fake because a small elite likes to virtue signal by saying it's fake. If it was really fake then Trump (who tapped into cultural nationalism in ways he probably doesn't udnerstand himself) would not be in the white house.

"The people actually live the culture"

Except all the Indians that are living in other places (or want to) which seems like... a lot of them. if they want to live in Indian culture, then they should live in India.

Don't worry. People who desperately try to preserve their cultural arrogance in America will find out that their kids will end up Americans.

I've seen Chinese, Indians, etc. try to make sure their kids do not turn into Americans, but they will. Our Chinese teacher in high school tells Chinese families this: your kid is not Chinese but American....get used to it.

And if not the 2nd generation, by the 3rd its all over. Maybe they will still like rice and keep some quaint cultural markers.

Americans have quite significant British blood. Survey data on this question is badly flawed as people tend to identify with more differentiated groups like Irish, etc. even if they only have small amounts of actual Irish blood. Moreover, if someone does have, say, Dutch heritage but their family was "Anglicized" here in America, it really makes little difference. Whether that sort of assimilation is possible with all races and in unlimited numbers is another question, one that's already pretty much settled, in my opinion.

If America is a mere "system" (of laws and economic policies and so forth), it should be easy enough to copy. The fact that it isn't and that attempts to bring "democracy" to other countries fail so spectacularly suggests that actual American people have been more than incidental to American success. People want to come here because it's nice. They are fleeing the civilizational incompetence of their own people and want to avail themselves of the inheritance of another nation. I get why that would be appealing to them, but I don't think I am morally obligated to allow it.

shrikanthk, I find your comments, particularly clam, reasoned, and thoughtful.

My one criticism, is that it is unreasonable to hold the moral expectation that the US (and Europe?) not have any cultural preferences whatsoever, but other nations and groups have full moral license to define their identity and exclude others.

America is an idea, and anyone who takes up that idea, regardless of race, color, or creed, becomes part of our self-rule.

Amazing that you are willing to out yourself like this as someone who cannot.

Let's five qualities of the idea.

You don't need "five," genius. We have been working toward a single ideal from the beginning.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

"We have been working toward a single ideal from the beginning."

No, "we" haven't.(I doubt your ancestors were in America before 1790.) America was founded by and for Americans, and one of the first laws passed by its government restricted naturalization to "free white persons of good character." Your vision of America as the world's trash can is a modern one, pushed by a certain group for its benefit and our detriment.

I say "working toward," and I think that is historically accurate. Abolition movements began in the 1730s. Evangelical preachers then "sought to include every person in conversion, regardless of gender, race, and status."


Pretty sad both that you would put “free white persons of good character" into an immigration argument in 2018, and that you would never have bothered to learn more.

"deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"

how much have the governed consented to immigration policy over the last 30 years or so?

All that does is explain the necessary conditions for political legitimacy. It in no way proves that they are the sufficient conditions for deciding immigration policy. Jefferson himself wasn't exactly keen on keeping freed slaves around for all sorts of practical reasons, so the theory of the Declaration does not inherently trump all practical considerations.

If that's what was meant, it would have been listed in the Constitution. It says Congress has the power to set a uniform law of naturalization. So Congress decides.

I was not going "wet foot, dry foot" on you. I mean "take up" American values as part of naturalization and citizenship.

"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" are broad concepts. You can fill them with whatever you want.

Also, how do we apply this ideological test? When immigrants become social democrats or socialists, do we revoke their America-card? Same question re: jus soli Americans.

I am fine with immigrants joining obscure parties, like the Greens or Libertarians. We actually have a lot of diversity, and immigration isn't really what has driven that. They fit into our diversity because we are already diverse.

America is a country.

The Declaration also refers to "one people" who were different from another "people." Recognizing universal rights is not sufficient to make a person an American. The Alien and Sedition Acts reinforced that fact.

Okay, then. We'll start licensing it. We'll let them "take up the idea" and be "Americans" in their own countries.

Is there any coherent meaning to Steve's 'fundamental question'? I don't think so. US citizens vote, despite claims to the contrary no non-trivial cases of non-citizen voting have been noted, so what 'self-rule' issue is he even talking about? Anglo-saxon culture? The US has always been a polyglot culture, even before Europeans came, and the idea of having voting rights by culture is foreign to US ideals and culture.

Our elites don't care about what the citizens want. Sadly, only a total buffoon political outsider like Trump can even imagine a common-sense fix to immigration that is the norm elsewhere in the world including Canada!

You aren't talking about Trump, you are talking about what a better politician, a marketing man, might have tried to sell. Keeping slurs about immigrants buttoned up.

Of course maybe that was tried. End of chain immigration, moving to points.


What slurs about immigrants are you referring to?

And yes, that bill failed miserably. Sadly and bizarrely, it seemingly takes Trump to make any change in this area possible.

While I respect the idea of a guest worker program, it is a very poor fit for America. The indentured servants who comprised a large fraction of the first immigrants to America had their status normalized after a predictable amount of time. The second-class status of slaves was formally abolished in the 1860s, and de facto second-class citizenship ended in 1965. Places like Dubai and Singapore may be able to usefully implement that idea, but it makes a lot more sense for the US to explore the part of the solution space that keeps everyone under its jurisdiction equal under the law. Especially since it has done so much to make other jurisdictions suck less--compare the UK, supposedly the "good" colonial power, practicing "divide and rule" in India and acting as the worst drug cartel in history toward China, to the US giving away tons of IP and continuing to provide (even under Trump!) a stable and large extra market to help Chinese and Indian companies ascend the value chain. (Not saying everything the US has done has been saintly, but it has been in a moral league of its own when it comes to leading powers.)

And that's before we get to the bad faith underlying that series of bills. What's the point of including enforcement provisions in those bills *which duplicated provisions already on the books which were being systematically ignored by the executive*? (Plenty of other countries have no problem enforcing similar laws, and they aren't all free of relevant land borders.) Sure looks like the executive was trying to hold basic enforcement of the law hostage to a massive giveaway to the plutocracy; and in that context, there wasn't even any reason to believe the enforcement provisions would continue to be taken seriously after amnesty for the first 12 million was effectively irreversible.

(In contrast, under Trump, the law actually means something. Both the 'good' and the 'bad' parts of the deal will become reality if a deal is reached, however you define good and bad.)

Here is the correct link to Will Wilkinson's op/ed in the NYT: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/14/opinion/democrats-dreamers-deal-trump.html

Wilkinson and Cowen seem to be in agreement about a more liberal immigration policy. What Wilkinson does in his op/ed is put the political risk on Democrats in Congress, for he advises Democrats to make immigration their signature legislative accomplishment. I say political risk because a more liberal immigration policy won't win any votes for Democrats in red states and may lose some in blue states. And Democrats won't be given any credit for Trump's wall as their concession to Trump for helping pass a more liberal immigration policy. What Wilkinson is suggesting may be good policy, but not good politics for Democrats. Let's see: if Democrats take Wilkinson's advice, Wilkinson gets his more liberal immigration policy, Trump gets his wall, and Democrats will be less likely to take control of Congress in this year's election.

Wilkinson's op/ed looked incredibly weak to me. I have no idea who he thinks it might persuade, and Tyler calling it an excellent piece lowers my opinion of Tyler's judgment.

Actually in previous generations the US-Mexico border was loosely regulated. The equilibrium was not 'everyone comes'. Mostly male workers came for seasonal employment in agriculture and then returned to Mexico to raise their families. This was optimal because prices were cheaper in Mexico so such an arrangement allowed them to be in the upperclass back home instead of being in the lower class in the US. As the border got more tightly enforced, then the illegal immigration started because it was easier to do one illegal crossing than multiple ones.

While I agree with Tyler that there probably is some limiting principle at work where the US can't 'take everyone', it's not a foregone conclusion that the US would take in everyone even with a largely open borders policy. In fact hundreds of years ago huge amounts of immigrants came to the US with almost no restriction but in relative terms it was not 'everyone' even though land and opportunities were super cheap and poverty in European nations was huge.

The argument against open or openish borderes is that the US has an amazingly generous welfare system that would soon be overwhelmed. But...

1. It doesn't. Aside from Medicaid (which just covers medical care), an able bodied person in the US who just has zero might get $100 in food stamps per month. That would leave someone who just wants to leech the system with having to find shelter, utilities, clothing etc. while the food he could buy is likely to be much worse than what he would eat in his home country.

2. Most of our welfare spending is entitlement based. For example, you don't get social security until you've spent years paying into it. Even if it was open to anyone here regardless of status, you get the most out of it by playing the system 'right'....(i.e. working and paying taxes for a good long stretch).

3. You could have open borders and open the Medicare/Medicaid systems. Anyone can buy into them provided they pay premiums equal to their costs. If someone comes to the US but immediately is ill with a serious illness, you could do a 'stabilize and deport' policy where after they are treated they are deported. But otherwise if you're paying your bills and not bothering anyone, the US gov't doesn't bother you.

Would 'everyone come'? Hardly. In the US incomes in cities are much higher than rural areas yet 'everyone' isn't going to the cities even though as US citizens there is no legal barrier to internal migration. In the US blue states often are more generous with welfare programs than red states, yet red states continue to have larger welfare taking populations with no migrations to blue ones for those supposedly more generous welfare checks. Fact is the bigger checks come with bigger costs. For most living in a homeless shelter in NYC is not a better deal if you can get medicaid access to top hospitals and $200 instead of $100 in food stamps than living in a three bedroom house in Tenn. or Miss. I suspect this applies to much of the world as well. Eat like a king in Mexico or try to eat cheap junk food in the US while wearing multiple layers of second hand coats to work in the cold winter versus Mexico's climate....even without a border only some will try to make it big in the US just as with no borders only a few people venture to NYC.

There are natural experiments on this question, Puerto Rico or Suriname and the Netherlands.

Indeed, while many Puerto Ricians have come to the mainland, a simplistic theory of migration would predict that they would keep leaving until wages in the US are driven down AND labor shortages in Puerto Rico drive wages up that they roughly equalize. Yet despite this there's still a 3 times difference between Puerto Rico's average income and the mainland US.

Why is it then that immigration restriction is needed to prevent some type of backlash or economic harm to the US if pure open borders with Puerto Rico is nonetheless unable to iron out a 3x income difference between the two?

Every person in PR could move to the U.S. and that would not "iron out" the income difference. So far only 60% or so have moved, right...

That makes no sense. If PR does have tourism and other industry. If enough people moved out labor shortages would increase wages. Supply demand. Why doesn't everyone leave PR?

Because it is wages and costs. Same reason everyone doesn't move to NYC.

Seems pedantic. 60% of the world population would presumably sufficient to cause severe disruption


Kindly show me where 60% of Puerto Rico suddenly left the island to the US?

There are more Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. mainland than in Puerto Rico. You're right that they didn't leave all at once and the people who stayed continued to have more children as did those who immigrated to the US. But just imagine if there were more Indians in the U.S. than India, more Chinese in the U.S. than in China, etc.

Again where do you see 60% of the population leaving PR when the population line has been going up for generations?

Your 'more Puerto Ricans' on mainland versus island messes up demographics. A woman leaves PR in 1970 and comes to the US and marries someone and has three kids. Now four people answer a survey saying they are PR. But are there really? In a genetic sense her children are only half. In a geographic sense none of them are. In a cultural sense probably somehwere in between.

Well it is down by 10% in the last 10 years. But yes it's hard to calculate exactly, certainly impossible using a population graph. opulation goes up because people are having kids, but not as much as it would have because many people are leaving, compound that over time. But the bottom line is there are 3.5 million people in PR and something like 4.5 million+ in the U.S. That's what happens when there are no barriers to immigration from a much lower-income country.

As I pointed out you are double counting PR outside the island. Consider the counter-factual of a man and woman who leave PR in 1970 and each marries a non-PR and has 3 kids. If they stayed on the island and married each other there would be 5 PRicans. Yet because they married others, there are now 8 people who identify as PRicans (the man and woman and the 6 kids who are technically 1/2 but few measures try to make distinctions like that). The population didn't really explode, though, because if the migration never happened the two in PR would have had 3 kids together and the 2 on the mainland might have married each other and had 3 kids together rather than kids from who are 1/2 PRican.

By your thinking if it was impossible for people to leave PR the population expansion would have been twice as steep as it actually was.... which isn't really plausible to the story you are telling. Your story is that with no barriers to migration, what would happen when you have a poor area that has full access to migrate to a rich area, you'll see a huge surge of people leaving for the high pay. Look at Ireland's population at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_population_analysis.

What you are missing is the full matrix of costs and benefits of migrating:

- Living expenses higher pay but what does it cost to eat and sleep compared with remaining at home?
- Social rank what happens to the upper 50% of the population in the home place if they opt to migrate?
- Networks migrating means you give up your home network and have to forge a new one in the new country. How easy is that?
- Local knowledge How many people make a living because they know the place they live well? If you migrate you lose that.

Keep in mind inside the US people in rural areas are perfectly free to migrate to urban cities, they almost never do. Even though income differentials are high and cities being less red tend to be more generous with social safety nets... yet even then migration often does not happen but you might see young people do it. Not for nothing young people tend to be poor in some of those attributes above so 'starting over' in a new place isn't much different than starting out in the old place.

U.S. spends more on social welfare per capita than just about any other nation

So what? US spends more per capita on Big Macs than any other nation too.

" the US has an amazingly generous welfare system that would soon be overwhelmed. But…

1. It doesn’t."

Where? What welfare are you talking about? I happen to have family members who might be called 'white trash' who have tried the "at the moment I don't have no job, no money, nothing to eat, nowhere to go". What you might get from the 'amazingly generous welfare system' is $60 a month of food stamps. Our welfare system is 'amazingly generous' to middle class people who spent at least a decade (probably two or more) paying into it and to health care providers but no there's not much welfare for someone who just plops 'off the boat' into the streets of the US.

Aren't there a ton of overlapping state-level programs as well? You say SSD is a pay-in but I don't think that's true? There are housing programs, medicaid, etc? You might be right that it's not that generous but I'd have to see the data.

Not really. Yes there's housing programs but waiting lists go on for years. Social Security disability is big but it's only paying you if you've worked. There's SSI which is for people who are fully disabled and never worked but that's going to give you around $700/mo and you can't get on it 'off the boat'.

Trust me, the grifters I know would ferret out all the 'free stuff' there is to get and it's easier to just take jobs pumping gas or making coffee at Dunkin Donuts

Your analysis omits other public services. We are also told that high crime, poor infrastructure, and bad schools are what motivate people to immigrate (and drop anchor babies/send unaccompanied minors) from sh--thole regions south of the U.S. border. And someone who doesn't want to deal with frigid weather can move to states with warmer climates that put out the welcome mat like California.

Show me how many subways, tunnels, bridges, train lines or even just roads NYC built to immigrant communities in the last generation? More often than not immigrants will move into communities where these services have already been built but there is now space available because others have left.

School funding is generally redistributive, especially in states such as CA, AZ, and NM. What abandoned areas are immigrants moving into in states like CA, AZ, & NM where there is more commonly increased congestion and expansion outwards? Their preferred destination is not exactly Detroit.

congestion/expansion are signs of a healthy economy. Trying to label these things as costs either indicates that you are trying to spin a bad anti-immigration case with silliness or your economic values are actually pretty radical and you should first make the argument that most of what everyone else thinks is wrong. For example, by your reasoning Detroit is one of the few successful modern cities because its declining population means fewer traffic jams and more money saved by deciding to let various roads, bridges, blocks revert back to grass than to keep repaving them!

Reading these illuminating comments have caused me to adjust my views on immigration. I have always thought a controlled, skills based immigration criteria a good thing. Just at lower levels so as not to harm opportunities for current citizens. This I still believe, however after reading these comments I believe we should add a required iintelligence/personality test for all US citizens with the lowest ten percent being deported. Of course this would clear out many of the regular commenters on this blog.

But at least you would offer them the chance to self-deport first, right?

After reading these comments, I'm now of the opinion that we should put you traitors who would want to cuck your countrymen into prison labor camps in Alaska. But we can all fantasize, amiright?

I find it strange to measure the value of human beings by their economic output.

Welcome to the worldview of many Americans, and most definitely members of the GMU econ dept.

To be generous, the "economic benefits" argument is made from compassionate people toward people they suspect of being less compassionate.

less compassionate = more rational and less emotional

Tell me about your mother.

It's not measuring their value as human beings, but their economic value in a specific place and culture.

Why? We're talking about immigrants to a sovereign nation. We should be letting in people who make the US a better place, and can pay their own way. A British pauper is intrinsically less desirable as an immigrant than a Chinese PhD. We should let the latter in, not the former. Immigration is there to benefit us, the host nation.

No one is talking about evaluating American citizens in such fashion.

But what if the choice is between a Chinese PhD and a hard working British dropout who wants to own a string of gas stations....or a home flooring /tile business?

Why exactly do we have to limit ourselves to just one and decide between the two?

Depends how many slots you have

Slots? Why have slots? In the USSR there were 'slots' to buy a car, if you wanted a car you waited for your 'slot' to come up.

Isn't that what this whole thread is about? Hasn't Tyler also explained his position on that in the post?

Your question is like asking "Why should Harvard have admission slots? Slots are communist.

Why should your country club have membership slots? Slots are communist."

Etc. etc.

Why should Harvard have slots? When Tesla gets more orders for $70K cars than it can make in a year, Elan Musk looks at building a bigger factory. It's small minded to not ask why should Harvard just hike tuition to $200K rather than double their campus, staff and 'slots'. Country Club 'slots' are marketing gimmicks designed to fool people like you into thinking you're buying into exclusivity.

Isn't exclusivity exactly what you are buying in both cases?

The vast majority of Americans either want reduced or stable immigration levels: your point isn't worth discussing.

BTW, don't assume PhD's always have a 0% unemployment rate.

Then find 10 years later that the Chinese guy is a high-level spy of Beijing, deliberately planted to siphon off some research...

There is a lot of variables in the play, not just educational level.

Why? Employers do it every day.

Not to mention a certain style of socialist, which carried this sort of thinking to its logical end. One that Andreas Moser is apparently more familiar with than most commenters here. Germans know exactly where that style of thinking ends up, if given free rein.

Sorry, are you saying that Jewish people in Germany had low economic output?

You really don't know much about the Nazis, do you?

There was Aktion T4 - 'The killings took place from September 1939 to August 1941, during which 70,273 people were recorded as being killed at various extermination centres located at psychiatric hospitals in Germany and Austria, along with those in occupied Poland.' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_T4

And the broader framework is covered by 'Lebensunwertes Leben' - 'a Nazi designation for the segments of the populace which, according to the Nazi regime of the time, had no right to live. Those individuals were targeted to be euthanized by the state, usually through the compulsion or deception of their caretakers. The term included people with serious medical problems and those considered grossly inferior according to the racial policy of Nazi Germany. This concept formed an important component of the ideology of Nazism and eventually helped lead to the Holocaust.[1] It is similar to but more restrictive than the concept of "Untermensch", subhumans, as not all "subhumans" were considered unworthy of life (Slavs, for instance, were deemed useful for slave labor).' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_unworthy_of_life

"1. The good outcomes for African immigrants to the United States mean we could and should take in more such immigrants, to mutual benefit."

Assuming that it is true that, say, highly-skilled and law-abiding immigrants from Africa are "mutually beneficial" to those immigrants (speculative) and the post hoc populace of the US (highly speculative), I wonder why, in this limited "benefit analysis", one neglects the consequences to the African nations and the less-skilled and less-law-abinding folks that are left behind? Is the best way to help Africa and Africans to drain them of their best human capital? Does this type of policy hurt Africa and Africans more than, say, it would Norway?

I guess, as noted in the sub-title to that Bloomberg article, this really is a matter of "simple economics" and not a more comprehensive and nuanced economic analysis of the benefits and costs to all those who are affected by the policy.

ante hoc populace

This is now a comedy bit on twitter.

Anti-immigrationist: we can't take immigrants, they hurt us

Immigrationist: actually they help us

Anti-immigrationist: suddenly I care about all the Africans left behind!

Lol, of course you do.

No. The point is that someone who is ostensibly for maximizing welfare through "open borders" should not limit his assessment solely on such narrow (national) grounds.

That joke is a joke (that's why we call them jokes and not serious argument). This is the type of thing one expects from a twitter.

I am pretty anti-immigrationist and there is no inner contradiction at all.

If you exploit the human resources of countries like Ethiopia, you undermine the already feeble infrastructure of an underdeveloped country. If the infrastructure falls apart and the country develops into a failed state, a wild migration wave of paupers is a possible outcome.

Is Ireland poorer today because of all the Irish that left for America in the 1800's?

How about looking at this internally? US Cities have higher incomes than US rural areas. Many people leave rural areas for cities but most don't. There are no internal barriers to migration yet NYC or Las Angeles doesn't seem to worry too much about questions like "what if everyone who now lives in coal mining country suddenly buys a bus ticket to here and then applies from the homeless shelter for welfare". On the flip side, though, it doesn't seem like we could magically make coal mining country better off if we had a system of internal visas and told people growing up there they couldn't move out.

Trade theory would seem to imply both are better off as people choose to either move to the city or stay out of the city or move from the city.

They don't think about it because it would be pointless since the constitution forbids it.

But yes, I have no doubt coal mining areas would be nicer if the smartest people were not permitted to leave (not that this would be desirable)

Pointless market barriers usually produce a net loss on both sides.

Geoffrey West's Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies had an interesting observation. He looked at 'business establishments' and population (a business establishment means a single place where people work, a single Starbucks would be an establishment even though it's part of a huge corporation with thousands of employees). He found regardless of size, there's about one establishment per 22 population with about 7.9 workers per establishment.

If we didn't let people leave a declining town? Well for every 22 people the town's population is artificially inflated by there'd be one additional establishment with 7.9 jobs.... Would this increase total 'niceness'? I doubt it. A really smart pharmacist in such a world might mean your cold medicine would get filled really fast in this small town whereas today he mixes chemotherapy drugs in a renown cancer center. How much net increase in 'niceness' is that? Not much IMO.

" He found regardless of size, there’s about one establishment per 22 population with about 7.9 workers per establishment.

If we didn’t let people leave a declining town? Well for every 22 people the town’s population is artificially inflated by there’d be one additional establishment with 7.9 jobs…"

This seems woefully undersupported. Do you really take that at face value? All people and places are fungible?

If we didn't let people leave a town? Beats me, but then the anti-immigration argument here seems to be trying to say maybe if we don't let people leave a place they want to leave things will be better for that place....

I suspect the ratio of 22:1 establishment and 7.9 jobs per establishment would probably hold as it represents some type of balance.

I have the same feeling about free trade arguments.

I feel like not enough persuasion is going on to get China and others to trade more freely.

America has super low import duties.

Chinese firms can sell almost unlimited products, even fakes, to US consumers via Amazon or even sell via Facebook.

So...why the effort to make American trade more free vs. very little effort to convince China to not subsidize trade, etc.?

Are not econ classes full of Chinese students who will head home one day and be placed to argue with the ministers of the Chinese government to liberalize more?

"they simply continue to follow their moral precepts."

no matter how many members of their families it gets killed?

I like the author's tone -- a few "simple points" -- as if he is talking to a really dull witted student. My feeling is taking in the world's best and brightest whether they are from Africa or Asia or whatever. Sure. But in general I think we need more study of the effects of immigration from poor societies with no welfare systems to a rich society with lots of free stuff and and all sorts of preferences based on race and ethnicity.

"But in general I think we need more study of the effects of immigration from poor societies with no welfare systems to a rich society with lots of free stuff and and all sorts of preferences based on race and ethnicity."

Where is such a society? The US does not have 'lots of free stuff', sorry to break it to you and unless you are talking about white people, it doesn't have all sorts of preferences based on race and ethnicity.

"it doesn’t have all sorts of preferences based on race and ethnicity."

University admissions?

Government contracts?

Biglaw employment? Tech employment?

I'll offer you two options. One, your son can claim any race or gender on his college applications he pleases without any criticism or legal problems. Two, 50 bonus points added to your son's SAT score.

Which do you think would provide the bigger advantage

If I were Asian, I'd choose A.

"A 2009 Princeton study showed Asian-Americans had to score 140 points higher on their SATs than whites, 270 points higher than Hispanics and 450 points higher than blacks to have the same chance of admission to leading universities."


I know for a fact it's the former. The AA advantage is worth about 200 SAT points as I recall. Possibly more?

Then why don't Asians say 'white'? If that effect was caused by colleges simply requiring those checking 'Asian' to score 140 more point then simply saying you're 'white' would fix it. But what if it is caused by clustering of, say, college admission strategies? For example, suppose 'tiger moms' all push their kids into classical violin lessons from a young age ignoring sports. There's only going to be so many scholarships a college will want to give for violin masters then the scores of those admitted will average much higher. On the flip side, non-tiger mom parents who let their kids go different routes would have the rest of the field to score points for admission....for example just about all sports scholarships or 'offbeat' scholarships for things like starting your own garage band.

When I was growing up I did know some Asian-Americans whose families pushed heavy on pure academics and pure test scores as their strategy for college while viewing anything that was strictly math/science or 'classical' as a distraction (including even subjects like English, literature, languages, history, etc.). One guy told me outright that fields like law were for 'the third generation' because he thought it required such language fluency it wasn't worth even trying to compete. An irony of this strategy as a *community* Asian-Americans might get a reputation as math/technical geniuses but individual Asian families are handicapping their kids by limiting their strategies to a very narrow focus.

Is there any evidence for what you are suggesting whatsoever? Ivies don't even give sports scholarships. You are saying blacks have 470 point lower SAT scores than Asians on average because they are just that amazing in other ways?

Why don't Asians say white?

1) They are afraid of being caught, and then expelled. (Sure, it won't happen, but they don't know that.)

2) Some may in fact do this. I know several people with children with "white" names who do not plan on checking the Asian box. They could easily do so, but will not.

3) Ethnic pride.

4) Being an Asian does offer minority benefits such as with government contracting. Thus claiming to be white isn't the best deal.

I think a clustering towards college admission strategies is more likely as an explanation. The tiger mom violin lesson story is just a 'toy model' to show how that could happen even assuming the school itself is not awarding any bonus/penalty for what box is checked.

For example, you list 'Asian pride' as a reason why Asians may not check an Asian box on a college application even though the claim is that doing so puts a 140 SAT handicap on them. Kind of strange when you consider many Asians are ok adopting an easy to pronounce Americanization of their name and there is no one on earth who is a citizen of 'Asia'. Asians would include people from China, India, Vietnam, Japan, Indonesia, and numerous other nations.

Asian-Americans tend to oppose changing admissions criteria at public universities in states that have limited affirmative action and emphasize academic merit. Private universities will conveniently modify their admissions criteria if Asian-Americans are more dishonest in playing the admissions game.

Then why don’t Asians say ‘white’?

Normal people wouldn't want to blatantly lie about their ethnicity and have that on their permanent records where they run the risk of getting exposed as a fraud. Mixed race people, I'd expect would choose the most privileged ethnic group.

"The US does not have ‘lots of free stuff’"

So what do we get for spending more on social welfare programs per capita than almost every other country?

Mostly from programs you have to pay into and pay into for a long time.

Take our 'social welfare spending per capita' and back out:
Social Security - gotta pay into it
Social Security Disability - ditto,
Unemployment Insurance

Finally take Medicaid and back out cost inflation (i.e. you go to the ER for a broken leg, get an x-ray and cast and they tell you it 'costs' $10,000 but in reality maybe $500 is what it actually cost because medical billing is 80% fictional).

What you are left with is pretty poor 'free stuff'.

But how do you guarantee that folks even though they pay in are paying in as much as they cost.

The local/state/federal governments spends 20k/year for every man woman and child in the country. If you are not paying around that in taxes at all levels you are likely not covering your cost and someone else is picking up the slack.

And yes I know that not all government spending scales with immigration, but a of it does especially if you start making immigrants eligible for the big social programs. It looks like greencard holders currently are eligible for medicaid after a 5 year wait and eligible for SS/Medicare after enough years of working.

You don't have to guarantee that for two reasons:

1. People generate economic activity beyond the actual taxes they pay so it is not strictly necessary that everyone pay $20K per year in taxes even if they will eventually consume that or more as they get old and sick.

2. One potential pitfall with an open borders policy might be someone bringing in a huge extended family with expensive medical problems. So map out how that might work with a 5 year wait. You're an immigrant so you bring over your diabetic 60 year old mother. So for five years you would have to pay for her yourself? Do you know what diabetics pay OOP w/o insurance in the US for basics like insulin versus the rest of the world? Then she is 60 years old and diabetic, she could very well die before the 5 years is over which means you're going to pay through the nose but never even get one doctors' visit covered by Medicare/caid. So much for that plan.

5 year wait essentially covers the moral hazzard danger of just coming for health coverage. Beyond that there isn't much 'free stuff' or 'welfare' available in the US. If this is the route you're taking it's because you are relatively able bodied and expect to be making decent money by working for years to come. Net positive to the system.

"1. People generate economic activity beyond the actual taxes they pay so it is not strictly necessary that everyone pay $20K per year in taxes even if they will eventually consume that or more as they get old and sick."

Ok sure I buy that, but that just changes the number not the concept. Lets say for ever $1 a person makes they generate another $1 in other economic activity (that seems like a very optimistic number to me). Most Americans pay around 25% of income at all levels in taxation. Just to cover the 20k you would need to make around 40k to pay 20k in taxes 10k direct and 10k indirect through the extra economic activity.

At some level of salary immigrants are almost certainly a losing proposition for the government. What level that is I am not sure. I would guess below poverty level immigrants certainly cost the government more than they pay even accounting for secondary effects. The real question is what is the level.

You are incorrect about needing to pay into Social Security Disability for a long time.

Immigrants from China and Taiwan often bring over their elderly parents, get them declared disabled, and get them their monthly checks.





Again, I urge those who support immigration to be tougher about enforcement - not because you want to reduce immigration, but because you can then keep immigration coming.

There are two Social Security disability programs. The first is Social Security Disability. Like traditional Social Security, you have to pay into it by working and accumulating 'credits'. It pays roughly a normal disability check but there's a sliding scale of how many credits you have to earn, the older you are the more credits because it is set up to be for someone who worked for a good portion of their adult life.

SSI is for people who never worked or didn't work enough. It pays far less and leaves you with fewer options (for example, it is harder to work part time on it without losing your benefits). In the NYT example you cited, the 74 year old woman got $280 a month as disabled. While that is welfare it is likely far less than what she would have gotten from social security as a native born person.

Anyway that was from the 1990's. https://www.tcnf.legal/immigrants-ssi-benefits/ seems to be saying barring some exceptions immigrants need at least 5-7 years before they can try to get SSI AND getting SSI means the gov't can turn around and go after their sponsor's for the money. That would make the 'trick' of bringing over all your elderly relatives rather difficult unless you were very successful and had the pockets to pay for them for years (in which case what would be the point?).

The main thing that I think about when I think about immigration policy is I imagine myself as a young person in a third world country, dreaming of becoming an astronaut, or a doctor, or successful business person, just about to embark on their life. I want that young person to have the right and the opportunity to go wherever they need to go in pursuit of those dreams, whether that is attending an American university, or taking a job at a US company, or even just opening a taco stand. So that margin should be set at a point where anyone willing and able to be productive and pay their own way in a free society, ought to be able to come here.

It sounds like you should just align with open borders then. The US has few real welfare systems outside of those you have to accumulate rights to by paying in for a relatively long period of time. It sounds like if we had a policy that said anyone could come here but couldn't get Medicaid instantly you'd be fine.

"anyone could come here but couldn’t get Medicaid instantly"

Politically impossible

You don't know how Medicaid works. Many red states opted not to expand Medicaid even with the Feds picking up 90% of the costs.

and it's 'politically impossible' to make it so you can't just land here and get automatic Medicaid? That's the reality already!

Yeah, most people consider me pretty much an Open Borders type. Although, I think the term "Open borders" is a bit of a misnomer since few advocates of (mostly) unrestricted immigration argue that there should be no guards at the borders. I think most of us a pretty fine with people being screened for security risk.

But my criteria might be biased towards young and ambitious people who have meaningful life goals over older people who are just coming to make money to send home.

Fair enough, but why should we even bother to care in that case? If someone makes money and sends it home that's the market. Do we fret over 50 year old American men who blow their hard earned money on overseas 'mail order brides'?

What I mean is IF we're going to limit immigration in any way, let's prioritize letting in young ambitious dreamers. Tyler's question presumes there must be some margin at which we stop accepting immigrants. If there MUST be some margin, that's where I would put it.

The problem is 'backlashers', to the degree they bothered to grace us with anything like an economic case or argument, have done so with a story about native born workers and identity politics culture wars. From that POV, the 'young dreamer' is the worst type of immigrant because he will work hard, be successful and have lots of kids. The 'backlash' is petty resentment politics that has to be confronted directly and not placated.

Boonton, if this was primarily about "petty resentment politics", Indian and Chinese immigrants would collectively be at least as large of a political issue as Mexican immigrants. If anything, there's more to resent: who's the CEO of Microsoft now? Of Google? Mexican immigrants are 'stealing' far fewer of the top jobs.

As is, while detractors can be found, they are substantially thinner on the ground than people who really mean it when they say their object to a flood of low-skill immigration, but they don't object to non-white immigration for its own sake. And the divergence between the political trajectories of Canada and Australia (which let in non-whites by the truckload as long as they pass the admissions criteria, yet have avoided serious populist backlash) and many European countries that have refused to set coherent admissions criteria provides plenty of evidence that this sentiment is widely held internationally. (Recent events in New Zealand suggest a possible limit to the Canadian model, but I'm pretty sure the US can sustain a Canadian-style immigration policy for decades before *liberals* would want more restriction.)

"As is, while detractors can be found, they are substantially thinner on the ground than people who really mean it when they say their object to a flood of low-skill immigration, but they don’t object to non-white immigration for its own sake. "

1. Most immigrants are not low skill. Most pundits, though, think low skill means lacking a college degree. Fact is, most immigrants legal or not actually do cultivate skills. In fact it is actually pretty hard to have a career for years or decades and not be skilled. Home remodeling, gardening, even housecleaning are like it not skills. On top of that, many plow a 'low skilled' occupation into something a bit more. For example, housekeeping can spin off into a housekeeping business where the 'low skilled' housekeeper is also doing sales, managing cleaners under her, creating a franchise.

2. What economic reason is there to craft economic policy out of special protection for low skilled whites for the next 50 years? For one thing if we are talking the long run here, what does it say that the alt-right's message to whites is "we'll make it easier for your kids to live out their lives dumb but comfortable"? If we are talking the long run why aren't we talking about opportunities to acquire skills for those young or still flexible enough to do so and help those whose skills have become outdated to transition to retirement (i.e. the 59 yr old coal miner with 35 years under his belt who is not going to suddenly start writing apps for smartphones)?

3. Over the long run it isn't really skilled versus unskilled but easy to automate versus hard to automate. Things that require physical touch are harder to automate. Bathing elderly people is not easy to automate, being a taxi dispatcher sending drivers to pickups is. Uber is killing the latter occupation but the 2nd is unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon. Why do we have to try to micromanage the labor market by creating artificial shortages/surplus (i.e. 'letting in' lots of Phd's but not letting in someone with a strong back and able to tolerate 50 hour days of hard labor)?

BTW, let's remember the last century saw agriculture go from about 40-50% of the labor force down to 3%. Numerous special provisions were put in place to help agricultural jobs yet today it isn't clear at all that did much of anything other than raise the cost of food a bit and make a few people well positioned in agribusiness very rich. Assuming unskilled labor is going to go the way of agriculture over the next 50 years, what reason do we have to think the 'skilled' attempts of people like the current administration and its cronies will produce policies that will be any different when it comes to the actual welfare of native-born unskilled people over the next 50 years?


This is an economics blog. The politically sustainable volume of immigration is limited. This limited supply must be allocated in some manner. Empirically, Canada and Australia's method of allocation is grossly outperforming other Western country immigration policies along just about any dimension you care to measure. (I will assume you are not a white nationalist; on that particular metric, Canada and Australia are doing quite 'badly'.)

You are correct that foreigners who don't meet Canada or Australia's bar can be pretty competent. But that doesn't mean that you don't get even better outcomes by making even better choices, to the extent that you can usefully make distinctions. Note that Silicon Valley is swarming with Canadians today, many of them kids of immigrants to Canada; under your null hypothesis that skill demands change in a way that prevents immigrant selection from having positive long-term consequences, Canada keeps getting ridiculously lucky, with a p-value below 10^{-10} and continuing to fall. When I see that, I consider the possibility that the null hypothesis is wrong.

If you want to live in a place where less selective immigration is politically sustainable, consider moving to a frontier location like Svalbard: at 74 degrees N latitude and up, the cold weather and isolation leaves no need for any significant further restrictions on who can come in, even though Norway is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Or Dubai, which makes it work by treating most of the immigrants as second-class people who will never be granted citizenship. If you want to live in a place where housekeepers who do sales and manage cleaners are valued, well, there are lots of places where that's true, including the US; there's just little point in allocating any of the limited number of immigration slots for that when plenty of other Americans are up for the job, and there are numerous 1-in-1000 and rarer talents from India and elsewhere who are still on the waiting list. If you feel bad about how unfair it is for American small businessmen/women to live a better life for doing almost the same thing as their counterparts in poorer countries, making the poorer countries suck much less is both a far better solution than what you have in mind, and also something that has already been happening at historically unprecedented speed for the last 3-4 decades (heck, Chinese small businessmen/women appear to be happier than their American counterparts these days, even though they're still far poorer on an absolute scale).

The politically sustainable volume of immigration is limited. This limited supply must be allocated in some manner.

This is not an economics argument, but it's meant to try to pass as one. It's a bit like saying the number of free markets we can have is politically limited therefore we have to wisely choose which production we need to remove from the Central Committee and which to leave.

I have a perfectly sensible method of determining what the volume of immigration should be, a free market. You have appeal to political authority with no actual method for that authority to determine how many 'slots' there should be or why. You also do not take into account that community growth and development creates more slots.

"You have appeal to political authority with no actual method for that authority to determine how many ‘slots’ there should be or why. You also do not take into account that community growth and development creates more slots."

I have repeatedly pointed to Canada as my primary model. You can look up sample implementation details on Canadian government websites. Statistics on how Canada is among the world's leaders in the amount of opportunity they provide to foreigners (adjusted for size) are easy to find. And they've achieved this WITHOUT hitting the political backlash barrier. If you do not think the political backlash barrier is relevant, you belong in a place like Dubai; you have no place in a discussion of Western policy.

And yes, I am taking community growth and development into account: "slots per year" is the only sane interpretation of how I was using 'slots' (did Canada admit a whole bunch of immigrants in 1976 and then cut the rate down to near-zero once it was 'full'?), and the class of statistics being maximized is [# of immigrants/year per unit of existing population], not [# of immigrants/year] without existing population in the denominator (otherwise how do you compare Canada with the US?).

To the extent that a 'slot' should not just be seen as "1 immigrant per year per X existing citizens", it's in the direction that strengthens the case for a Canadian-style policy even more. One Somali refugee who does a horrible job of assimilating through little fault of their own erodes political capital that could otherwise be used to permanently admit two foreign graduate students and educate two more to help their home countries.

If you do not acknowledge in your next reply that your objections were incorrect, it is safe to assume you are arguing in bad faith, and should never be taken seriously in any discussion in the future.

The problem is ‘backlashers’, to the degree they bothered to grace us with anything like an economic case or argument, have done so with a story about native born workers and identity politics culture wars. From that POV, the ‘young dreamer’ is the worst type of immigrant because he will work hard, be successful and have lots of kids. The ‘backlash’ is petty resentment politics that has to be confronted directly and not placated.

You presume immigration is strictly an economic issue and disparage arguments of culture or identity. Culture and identity are what humans deeply care about. Immigration is primarily not an economic issue. It has economic components but it is a much broader issue of politics and identity.

Arguably, much of politics is identity politics and different demographic groups vying for power and status.

I would like to continue a polite sincere discussion on this and I suspect this thread isn't the ideal forum.


I agree that culture and identity can be more important than economics here.

My main point is that Canadian policy represents a *hard upper bound* on what is reasonable to try to implement in a major Western country within the next decade or two, if opportunity for foreigners is the main thing you're trying to maximize. The only reason to go beyond that is if harming natives is a primary end goal, and you consider providing less opportunity to foreigners in the long run an acceptable price to pay to achieve the level of harm you're aiming for. If someone forced Apple to hire every single referral made by an employee, recursively, would you think that person had Apple's best interest at heart? That's what Boonton is trying to position as the "free market" policy; it doesn't come close to the optimal economic decision rule for the 2018 US even in the absence of significant political constraints. (See Singapore's guest worker taxes, and prohibition on guest worker births--they're forced to return to their home country in that event--if you're curious about what a cold technocratic solution might actually look like.)

The bottom line is that we can rule out proposals like Boonton's *before* we start the culture and identity discussion. (Unless your utility function is very, very different from mine.)


As a second-generation Taiwanese-American, I can't avoid being biased in favor of a notion of Americanness that prioritizes behavior over race. I would be greatly saddened to be asked to leave on account of the latter. But I am fine with a process of earning the trust of Americans with deeper roots, and if another 1924-style immigration scaleback is ultimately what's best for that process, so be it. I hope that people like me have been respectful enough of the existing culture, and made enough contributions of our own, for much less drastic measures to suffice.

Christopher Chang, I have a few rebuttals.

- If you want to maximize the well-being benefit to foreigners, you want to immigrate the most desperate, needy, impoverished, low skill populations. If you want to maximize benefits to current citizens in addition to offering opportunity to newcomers you want to immigrate wealthy, high skilled people. US/Europe are largely doing the former. Canada is doing the latter.

- The Trump Administration is actively advocating a Canadian style system. You agree, I agree. But it is quite controversial. Many are quite horrified by the idea of merit immigration or immigration policy designed to maximize benefit to existing Americans as well as newcomers.

- You cite Canada is importing large numbers of non-whites... Canadian immigration is largely white and Asian. From Wikipedia on Canada: "Some of the most common non-official first languages include Chinese (mainly Cantonese; 1,072,555 first-language speakers), Punjabi (430,705), Spanish (410,670), German (409,200), and Italian (407,490)" and "In 2006, the largest visible minority groups were South Asian (4.0%), Chinese (3.9%) and Black (2.5%)". We must be extremely careful with making any ethnic generalizations and stereotypes, but Chinese immigration has generally been the completely non-controversial non-white immigration in the US and Europe.

- You and Boonton discuss ethnic resentment. Normal white people don't resent typical successful tech execs of any ethnicity as you suggest. That would be petty resentment as Boonton said and should be confronted, not placated. What white people do resent is identity politics rhetoric designed to paint whites as villains and non-whites as saintly victims. White people do resent #OscarsSoWhite style movements and government programs designed to take from whites and give to other demographics. This includes overt racial preferences in universities, pressure on the tech industry to hire less whites and more non-asian-non-whites, and various programs in housing + education designed to take benefits from whites and give to non-asian-non-whites. This isn't petty resentment, it's completely justified resentment. It should be fully placated and resolved and not confronted. There are a few individual Chinese Americans that participate in this toxic identity politics, like Ellen Pao, but broadly as a group stereotype, Chinese steer clear of this, which is to their credit.

- Boonton is taking the opposite position of the openborders.info crowd such as Bryan Caplan. Boonton says that welfare state benefits are a minor complaint and ethnic resentments are petty. Caplan believes the opposite. Caplan argues that a lot of welfare state resentment is justified, and some ethnic resentments may be completely justified, these justified resentments should increase with immigration, and this will undermine the welfare state and undermine the type of toxic identity politics that whites are justified in resenting.

I totally disagree about brute force absorption of low skill immigrants being better for foreigner well-being than admission of high skill people from poor countries (combined with policies encouraging them to transfer expertise and resources back home). I don’t think it’s even close; we’re talking about a larger than 10x efficiency difference. Western-educated immigrants who returned home have played a large role first in the rise of the smaller Asian Tigers, and now the former giga-shitholes of China and India. (Reverse-mercantilist trade policy also helped a ton, of course.)

When estimating benefit for foreigners, keep in mind that China and India *each* still have more people than the entire continent of Africa, and both still have decades of catch-up growth ahead of them. India still has a much lower per capita GDP than Mexico; but it is way better than it was a few decades ago.

Basic principles of fairness suggest that we continue offering this deal to countries which haven’t made it onto the bandwagon yet, of course.

The descents of African immigrants converge to the averages of native African Americans.


It's not the talented African immigrants I'm worried about. It's their assimilated children and grandchildren.

Why should you worry about this?

Maybe you should go live in the inner city and find out! ;)

Inner city. You've been watching too many 80's/90's robocop movies. The 'inner city' today is just as likely to be a place you can't afford to buy $8 coffee in than some type of Escape from New York fantasy.

Don't know about you, but some people have children and want life to be better for them than it was for themselves.

Mysteriously, this attitude seems to produce better long-term results than "Why should you worry about this?" re: consequences that are actually predictable even though they're 30-50 years out.

Let's say you have a company with 100 salespeople who produce $5K per week in sales. You can let in 10 more salespeople. These salespeople will produce $10K per week in sales but after two years they will revert to the average of $5K. You're better off letting them in even if you assume the long term reversion is unavoidable.

Sure, and if you look at who Canada admits, you'll see they're willing to do this. They'll even admit some people who can be expected to revert to $3-4K all other things being equal, and I'd be okay with the US doing that too. I know how cruel regression to the mean can be, and I'm willing to personally sacrifice a bit to make that suck less for those most affected; and I think a good fraction of the other Americans who understand the math are also willing to voluntarily make that sacrifice.

The problem is that you're also advocating for admission of a massive number of salespeople who'll revert to an average near $500.

I mean what you've shown is that US economic diversity is not a product of genes but of our culture and habits. If you don't like US economic outcomes, you're not going to change it by fiddling with immigration dials.

Culture and habits are largely genetic however

Well if it's genetics then that would mean African immigrants have some type of mysterious positive economic gene. Even if their descendants, over time, revert to the norm that still means you're adding more 'positive econ genes' to the population here.

If it's culture then change culture to promote more positive economic outcomes.

You can't have it both ways.

Might the issue be mean reversion?

Probably, I think Trump's statement was exactly backwards.

Invariably I've found that people from 'shithole' countries are very nice, very hardworking, take honesty and trustworthiness very seriously. If you are in a place without good rule of law, where force is arbitrary and you have no recourse to authority then you are probably going to learn very early that the only thing keeping you from getting knifed in the street is keeping your good name, keeping yourself respected and well-liked by your neighbors and friends. If you are going to leave your country and settle in a radically different culture and environment, like coming to the US from Africa, those are habits that are very good for you to have.

Of course generations later your kids' kids' kids are not going to have any memory of the 'old country' but such is how life works.

Tyler is just wrong about this. Immigration should be rare, selective, and legal.

The current US population is about 327 million. Back in the dark dystopian days of 1980, the population was 230 million. The US population in 2060 is projected to be 420 million.

No case has been made that 327 million is too few. Do we need or want another 100 million? I'd say no. There are considerably downsides to a population that large in the US.

Over 40 million people in the US today were foreign born. That's a very high fraction, and arguably a rate of immigration too high to successfully assimilate. Its not in the US national interest - which is the only criteria the US should consider - to sustain or increase this rate.

What exactly is the downside to a population of 420M versus 327M? Should we institute some type of hard or soft population control measure to return to the 1980 population of 230M? With immigration running only around 1M a year or less that is clearly not driving our population so if that is the variable you think deserves focus then you should be telling us about the non-immigration policies you'd also support to bring it down.

"With immigration running only around 1M a year or less that is clearly not driving our population"

Native fertility is below replacement.

No you don't go from 327M to 420M in 40 years with 1M immigrants per year and a negative native fertility rate.

Facts are stubborn things.

The revealed preference of Americans is to have fewer children and live in single-family homes and go hiking in undeveloped state and national parks. Environmentalism has already been declared a racist cause.

A million people a year is a lot.

So if immigration doubled tomorrow who is forcing you to reproduce? Not me. Your single family home is likely to go up in value and it is very, very unlikely the national parks will be so crowded that your solitary hiking will be thwarted.

I find this analysis, like most analyses of issues of public policy, conceptually incoherent. Tyler writes: "we cannot let everyone in, if only because of backlash effects." But, assuming that "we" includes all Americans, we *can* let everyone in, because we can suppress our tendencies to backlash. We do not *have to* "lash back," we *can* refrain from doing so. Of course, we *will not* do so, but the discussion was supposed to be about what we *can* do, not about what we *will* do.

Like almost all policy discussions, this turns out to be a random mishmash of possibilities with actualities.

Indeed, suppose the issue was min wage or price controls. I'd find it hard to imagine Tyler writing "we can't abolish price controls because of backlash". Instead I could see him pleading the case that price controls produce a subpar result and any problem price controls claims to address could be addressed with less harm by other policies.

"we *can* let everyone in, because we can suppress our tendencies to backlash"

No, actually we can't

We don’t have free will?

Should US citizens have a right to choose immigration levels? If US citizens want to try slowing immigration down for a few years, should they be allowed to do this? Reading between the lines, it seems that Cowen advocates no, that citizens of the US + Europe should not have the right to lower immigration, and supports political tricks to undermine any voter preferences. It would be clarifying for Tyler Cowen to answer this issue openly.

Bryan Caplan and his Open Borders group are very clear: voters should have no rights to lower or limit immigration in any way, and they support aggressive tricks and deceits to advance the rights of migration. Caplan advocates:

1. Large shocks of racial diversity will undermine national solidarity and this is a positive not a negative as it will undermine dysfunctional welfare state systems and pave the way for healthy free market reforms.
2. It's wrong to fight a defensive war and it's wrong to resist being conquered. Drastic immigration is effectively complete conquest + destruction of existing ideas of ethnic/religious/national solidarity, and this is a strong positive not a negative.
3. That democracy as we know it and collective political authority is wrong and should be replaced by anarcho-libertarianism.

I'd request Tyler Cowen to discuss or even acknowledge these radical points of advocacy.

Actually US citizens who advocate a restrictionist immigration policy have a DUTY to make their case.

Let's look at yours:

"1. Large shocks of racial diversity will undermine national solidarity and this is a positive not a negative as it will undermine dysfunctional welfare state systems and pave the way for healthy free market reforms."

Trump supporters have clearly undermined national solidarity. More importantly, though, the implosion of the alt-right element of the Trump administration has demonstrated that while white nationalist types on the right are great at producing tweets, they don't produce votes or policies or any type of arguments that people who haven't already drunken the kool-aide find convincing. This failure is evidence that the US is not suffering from any type of 'race balance' issue that immigration changes would resolve.

" 2. It’s wrong to fight a defensive war and it’s wrong to resist being conquered. Drastic immigration is effectively complete conquest + destruction of existing ideas of ethnic/religious/national solidarity, and this is a strong positive not a negative"

No 'drastic immigration' is not conquest. As pointed out your idea of 'national solidarity' is poorly defined and probably not something you really buy into

" 3. That democracy as we know it and collective political authority is wrong and should be replaced by anarcho-libertarianism."

Caplan may fit into that ideological description but one doesn't have to be an anarcho-libertarian to note that anti-immigrationists, like trade protectionists, have no made anything near a coherent case for such a policy, or for that matter even articulated much of a policy.

This is pure fantasy on your part.

You start by positing a special duty for those who support the universal worldwide opinion that borders should be enforced, with no justification.

Next you take Bryan Caplan's pro-open borders arguments and treat them as if they are positions of those who do not want open borders.

Then you make the bald and false assertion that people who do NOT want open borders (i.e. virtually everyone on the planet) has never made out even a coherent case for the policy.

The only fantasy here is carping about borders not being enforced. First day of Obama's administration and last day. Were there more or fewer guards at border crossings? More or fewer control tools like walls, ditches, electronic monitoring etc? More or fewer interceptions/deportations? Reality check, if you returned our borders to, say, 1950's level of control you would be dismantling rather than increasing.

As I pointed out initially on this thread, this 'control' is counter productive. It was the closing of the border that initially caused a surge in illegal immigration since it was easier for migrants to cross once than to cross every season to make money and then return to their families.

On the flip side the 'border' between Puerto Rico, Alaska, HI, and mainland US is open but hardly uncontrolled. You can book as many airline tickets back and forth as you want but you'll go through the whole TSA routine each way and your documents will be screen and if you're on a watch list you'll have a problem.

Isn't your position that you want open borders?

I'm not really seeing an argument against it. Entitlement programs don't really work unless you've put in work in the US. Simply do what is done now, immigrants are not entitled to most welfare programs and sponsors put themselves financially at hook if they get into an emergency and the gov't has to pay for them. You could then easily do all the control you want at borders as people on watch lists, who have warrants, etc. would still be stopped and screened for at airports and ports.

Anarcho-libertarianism would mean many, many more borders, and the category of "immigrant" would not exist.

ok, since you mentioned, it, I will make my restrictionist arguments. I fear I just wasted time typing them when no one will read them. In my earlier comment, I merely cited some central pieces of Bryan Caplan's guiding philosophy that would horrify almost every major political ideological faction.

First, I agree with much of the open border philosophy. I agree with the main pro argument:

- I believe free markets based on a willing buyer and a willing seller, are generally positive sum, win-win exchanges, and should be maximized, and should be open to as many people as possible. This includes labor markets + housing markets. This is a great way to help the global poor and free market exchanges, generally benefit everyone.

- There are better models than Democracy. I like the private city concept where anyone who agrees to the terms of the city can join as a citizen, but doesn't necessarily get traditional voting rights.

Then there are the downsides, where I think the Open Borders types largely agree with me.

- Purely voluntary free market exchanges with new migrants and incumbent citizens are mostly win-win, positive sum. However, competition over government powers and privileges, including government financed education, is often win-lose, and zero sum, or even negative sum. I suspect the open border economists would agree and I'm guessing that they would counter that this helps incentivize healthy free market reforms, which I agree with. I still see a bad overall deal for incumbent residents.

- Freedom of migration is basically incompatible with, as written on the openborders.info site: "Certain American ideals would die of their own increasing impracticality, e.g., “equality of opportunity,” the social safety net, one person, one vote, or non-discrimination in employment." Some of this is good, there is potential for positive healthy free market reforms, but there is a lot of negatives before that happens.

- Foreigners and the children and future children of foreigners really have to reasonable right to full voting membership in any nation and culture of their choosing. I'd compare this to a retail store. Any stranger has a common sense reasonable right to walk into a retail store and buy good/services by the normal rules without being excluded, but that stranger doesn't have the right to automatically claim proportionate ownership just by waltzing in the door.

- Open borders is totally incompatible with the idea that nations and governments are designed to serve their current citizens, and not those of foreigners. The idea that citizens really can't vote to pause or slow mass immigration is completely contrary to the idea of democracy. I believe the Open Borders crowd would largely agree with this and say that undermining Democracy is a good thing. I half agree with that sentiment.

- I trust regular people to determine what's better for themselves more so what Bryan Caplan or Tyler Cowen or remote academics/technocrats/elites think. Lots of people really don't want mass immigration, and I believe them. I believe freedom of migration often benefits the migrant at the expense of the host population. This is a win-lose, not a win-win. Combine this with the fact that mass immigration is really only being forced on US, Europe, Australia, and Canada, almost all the white majority regions of the Earth and only white majority regions. There is really no pressure on far more extreme xenophobic, discriminatory behavior that regularly occurs in China, Mexico, Africa, India, and Japan. I suspect white people are being had, and I advocate tapping the brakes until there is a more reasonable even handed proposition.

Few selective responses:
– Freedom of migration is basically incompatible with, as written on the openborders.info site: “Certain American ideals would die of their own increasing impracticality, e.g., “equality of opportunity,” the social safety net, one person, one vote, or non-discrimination in employment.” Some of this is good, there is potential for positive healthy free market reforms, but there is a lot of negatives before that happens.

As I pointed out previously, almost all of the US safety net is premised upon paying into the system. If you just land into the US market either from 'mom's basement' or from another country declaring you have no money and want all the welfare you can get, what you're likely to walk away with might be $60/month in food stamps and nothing else. In the meantime food, a place to live, clothing etc. will set you back much more than that.

– Open borders is totally incompatible with the idea that nations and governments are designed to serve their current citizens, and not those of foreigners. The idea that citizens really can’t vote to pause or slow mass immigration is completely contrary to the idea of democracy. I believe the Open Borders crowd would largely agree with this and say that undermining Democracy is a good thing. I half agree with that sentiment.

Two different ideas at play here. One idea runs along the lines of "X is a set of good policies". The other idea is "if we can't get X by voting, we should shift away from Democracy so we can get X". This really has nothing to do with open borders. X could be abolishing the min. wage, raising or lowering taxes, legalizing gay marriage or abortion. This is an argument that goes back to Plato (recall he wanted 'philosopher kings' to rule who presumably would be wise enough to implement policies like X).

– I trust regular people to determine what’s better for themselves more so what Bryan Caplan or Tyler Cowen or remote academics/technocrats/elites think. Lots of people really don’t want mass immigration, and I believe them. I believe freedom of migration often benefits the migrant at the expense of the host population. This is a win-lose, not a win-win. Combine this with the fact that mass immigration is really only being forced on US, Europe, Australia, and Canada, almost all the white majority regions of the Earth and only white majority regions. There is really no pressure on far more extreme xenophobic, discriminatory behavior that regularly occurs in China, Mexico, Africa, India, and Japan. I suspect white people are being had, and I advocate tapping the brakes until there is a more reasonable even handed proposition.

Migration is an issue around the world. China today worries about refugees who sneak in from North Korea. Mexico, I understand has it's own southern border issue. But how did we go from talking about 'the people' to white identity politics? If white means European then most Hispanics are white because Spanish colonization of South America started before English and French of North America. As for most people not wanting immigration, I would point out the utter failure of the current administration to unite around anything like a coherent message on immigration, let alone an actual anti-immigration policy. If there was a clear majority feeling, or even serious minority position, on immigration we would have seen such a policy already just as we saw with the tax bill and to a lesser extent the health care implosion. In other words, the right in the US is less united and coherent on immigration than they are on health policy and one suspects if you subtract from the right positions that are taking on purely political grounds (i.e. "we've pissed off Hispanics so much that more Hispanic citizens means more blue voters so let's just try to maneuver away from that"), you get even less coherency.

As I pointed out previously, almost all of the US safety net is premised upon paying into the system. If you just land into the US market either from ‘mom’s basement’ or from another country declaring you have no money and want all the welfare you can get, what you’re likely to walk away with might be $60/month in food stamps and nothing else. In the meantime food, a place to live, clothing etc. will set you back much more than that.

This just isn't true. I know a single adult man (citizen) without kids who gets $89/month + much larger disability payments + housing subsidies. I know a single woman with three kids who gets about $500/month, fully government paid housing + utilities. I know women who regularly sell ~$200 of food stamps for ~$100 cash, and they know how to do these trades with the SNAP cards. None of that is predicated on them paying into the system. They aren't bad people, they have sad lives, I feel sympathetic for them, but they are still financial burdens who don't really do important work or contribute.

Or consider a high profile anecdote: President Obama's Aunt Zeituni Onyango. According to the Wikipedia summary, she came to the US on a temporary visa and didn't leave. She couldn't walk and needed lots of medical care. She got disability checks for $700 month. After living in a homeless shelter for two years she got a government funded apartment. Wikipedia doesn't mention everything, but I suspect she was getting food stamps on top of that. Wikipedia mentions that she had previously worked in Africa as a computer programmer, but I think given all of the above, it's safe to say that she never worked in the US. To summarize, an illegal immigrant from Africa who really had no right to live in US at all, was getting a quite elaborate set of government financed social services without ever working or paying into the system at all. This is just an anecdote, but it's not a unique scenario.

The popular open border argument here, is not what you're saying, that the US social safety net doesn't allow moochers and takers; It's quite the opposite, it's that the US social safety net does allow moochers and takers and this is bad regardless of whether the people in question are citizens or foreigners. Therefore, the laws should be changed for everyone, to prevent moochers and takers. This is actually a feature, not a bug, in that mass immigration will quite by design undermine support for the welfare state and social safety nets.

Two different ideas at play here. One idea runs along the lines of “X is a set of good policies”. The other idea is “if we can’t get X by voting, we should shift away from Democracy so we can get X”. This really has nothing to do with open borders. X could be abolishing the min. wage, raising or lowering taxes, legalizing gay marriage or abortion. This is an argument that goes back to Plato (recall he wanted ‘philosopher kings’ to rule who presumably would be wise enough to implement policies like X).

Of course, on every issue, many favor a policy different from what democracy produces, and often work around or against democracy. That isn't limited to immigration at all. Two major differences: those other issues you still mention are still focused on the core precept of sovereign government, serving the interests of citizens over foreigners. Secondly, those other issue are mostly easily reversible. If people don't like a minimum wage change or a tax policy change, they can use normal democratic means to reverse it later and go back to the way things were.

Mexico, I understand has it’s own southern border issue. But how did we go from talking about ‘the people’ to white identity politics?

National identity has always been tied to racial/ethnic identity.

This immigration issue would seem more reasonable if there were similar pressures being applied to Mexico, China, India, Japan, Israel, the Arab Gulf Staes, and the nations of Africa, rather that being uniquely focused on US, Europe, and maybe Australia and Canada.

https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/spotlights/spot-non-citizens.htm You're not getting SSI (that's the type of disability for people who haven't paid enough into Social Security) unless you have been in the US a while or possibly if you have an aslyum or refugee status....which might explain Obama's aunt or might not. You kind of have to take what older people say about their finances with a grain of salt.

I know a single adult man (citizen) without kids who gets $89/month + much larger disability payments + housing subsidies. I know a single woman with three kids who gets about $500/month, fully government paid housing + utilities. I know women who regularly sell ~$200 of food stamps for ~$100 cash, and they know how to do these trades with the SNAP cards.

What is his disability? How old is he? How many years did he work, if he did, before being disabled? While in many cases it is too easy to get disability, the 'easy' aspect needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The reason there's a small industry of disability lawyers is not because SSA rubber stamps applications when the disability is 'back pain' or 'fatigue'. (I know as my wife went thru it for cancer combined with RA and while we didn't need a lawyer we did have to establish the diagnosis).

When confronting either 'white trash' that is trying to score disability at age 21 or a hypothetical immigrant, the question you have to ask about moochers/takers is where the incentives really fall? Scoring SSI may be acceptable for an old woman but for a young person it's a lifetime of $700 a month. Part-time work options that don't take away your check are very limited. Keep in mind what things cost in the US, even if you can get subsidized housing.

Two major differences: those other issues you still mention are still focused on the core precept of sovereign government, serving the interests of citizens over foreigners

It's kind of funny because if you go back a few hundred years voting wasn't based on citizenship but on owning property. That made some sense because it actually takes a lot of work for a gov't to keep track of who everyone is, especially with people moving about looking for work and places to settle. A small town could keep track of who owned property in town.

But the principal was and is gov't should be by those governed. Creating a subclass of people under gov't who do not have a say in government is itself undemocratic. To the degree people are part of the community, they cease being foreigners. That has been the way the US did things for centuries and it works well.

Boonton, first I appreciate your willingness to respond with polite, genuine, intelligent responses.

The US has always been a polyglot culture

The word "polyglot" refers to multiple languages. No, the US, has always been quite English-centric, and has expected prior waves of non-English speaking migrants to conform to English. In terms of mixed race/ethnicity, every nation has mixture. Ever ethnic group is ultimately a mix of antecedent ethnicities. Even the homo sapien species is ultimately a mix of anticedent species. Making this point almost seems to be deliberately confusing and derailing the discussion.

The argument against open or openish [borders] is that the US has an amazingly generous welfare system that would soon be overwhelmed. But... 1. It doesn't

A big argument *for* openish borders is that it would overwhelm and undermine generous welfare systems and fuel healthy free market reform. I find that more persuassive argument for openish borders than what you are saying.

To elaborate on one point against openish borders that you didn't respond to: Ethnic or religious voting. In the US, different ethnic and religious groups have different voting preferences and often vote for their group interests. Some ethnic groups vote for ethnic preferences in college admissions and government hiring or political pressure for racial preferences in other industries. Especially, in a winner take all democracy system like we have in the US, this seems to be a win-lose, or even a lose-lose model. I believe the primary open borders advocates at openborders.info, largely agree with me, which is why they wrote that one man one vote would die of its own impracticality.

Lastly, I'd like to ask your opinion on two books:

Confrontation: A debate between Alain Finkielkraut and Alain Badiou, which explores the issue of immigration from a French perspective. I found great arguments on both sides, and was wondering if you found any of Finkielkauts' arguments convincing.

Samuel Huntington: Clash of Civilizations. Have you read even a little of this? If people's tribal identities hold such deep meaning to normal people, it seems they should have a reasonable justification to exclude others from their election pools.

The 'right kind' of hard might be helpful. For example, if you are carrying certain chronic diseases, you will be turned away. If you know calculus, you will be more likely to get a green card, etc. These would encourage people, at the margins, to attend to certain behaviors at a higher rate - even in the country of origin - unless they are weighted too highly and then sorting predominates.

Academics seem to be isolated in their relations. Maybe they should get real jobs and meet people from all over the world.

This might all be correct, but it does not change the fact that countries are immensely different, and not all that difference is indifferent. The fact some people in one country are debating whether to take more or less in people from another country does not hide the fact there might be significant, in fact monumental cultural differences between them. By all means take the best from Nigeria, if that does not in fact hurt them. But please do not deny simple verifiable facts, such as this: there are places in Nigeria there orphan infants are considered witches. There are no such places or people anywhere in the Western world. The link is pretty bad, don't click unaware: https://www.facebook.com/kisha.cruz.77/posts/830911973713641

Well except for Trump supporters who go along with memes that Obama or Hillary or both are the anti-christ. Perhaps we could engineer a swap, our deplorables for Nigeria's deplorables.

Just a few weeks ago Tyler was decrying tax cut legislation because of our $20 trillion debt, but now he endorses amnesty for illegal immigrants who cost us over $50 billion per year. See: https://www.heritage.org/immigration/report/the-fiscal-cost-unlawful-immigrants-and-amnesty-the-us-taxpayer And he still does not have the courage to say how he would change the immigration system to allow in more Nigerians. Utterly vacuous grandstanding by peafowl safely ensconced in tax-exempt nests. By all means Congress should grant amnesty with the appropriate fiscal offsets: eliminate tax-exempt status for think tanks and universities, both public and private.

Cowen, as most leftists, neglects to address the issue of North American culture and how it may be changed by the influx of those from completely foreign cultures. To do so is taboo as it would lead to a discussion of the variable strength and value of other cultures in comparison to our own. His outline reads like the usual emotion-driven, collectivist claptrap that pretends that logic MUST be tied to feelings. Invariably, the feelings rule. I wonder if he simply wants to be able to have Thai for lunch, Middle Eastern for breakfast, and Mexican for dinner whenever he wishes.

Cultures compete in the market too and competition between cultures causes some things to vanish (Yiddish) while other things get launched into global status (pizza).

The anti-immigration culture argument to me seems to suffer from the same issue that protectionism suffers from. It assumes the thing being protected is weak and unsuitable. If that is the case why does it merit protection? If that is not the case then why does it need protection?

France seems to be an example of this in terms of food, language and film. Whatever the merits of cultural protectionism in terms of France, it seems to me we can observe:

1. It probably works better if you target what you're trying to protect. France has lots of rules about French food, but it doesn't try to protect French food by restricting cooking to French people. An Ethiopian could be a master French chef while a French teenager could cook pop-tarts every day in the microwave.

2. France has an argument that they have very refined culture that has a long history and tradition behind it. A lot of US culture is new and rather arbitrary. Is American 'Chinese food' or pizza or Taco Bell so good that we must lock it in by keeping out Thai, Middle Eastern or other influences that might overtake it in popularity?

3. Face it, what you are proposing is essentially nationalizing culture. The US has a culture of rapid and often radical innovation. It seems bizaar to think that is going to be preserved if we socialize it and put it in command of some central committee that will try to manage US cultural evolution by spinning dials on immigration quotas from different countries.

3.1 Implicit in #3 is that the US will be assuming a stance of defense rather than offense. Is that really a fitting result for critics concerned about US culture?

So, with cultural items that operate on free market principles, like food and movies, I completely agree. Let people buy what they want, and let the market sort it out. The French cultural protectionism you reference is absurd.

Where I am less convinced, is when culture isn't competing on free market principles. Consider language. Currently, even Germany expects their immigrants to ultimately shed their otherness and assimilate to speaking the German language. It seems likely that with larger levels of immigration, most countries of Europe won't be able to keep their linguistic identity at all.

Language doesn't compete on free market principles? German was once a major language in the US. Today the Amish still speak a mix of German-English. French is still spoken in parts of Louisiana. If you limited immigration to English speakers, your largest pools of immigrants would be Pakistan, India, China, Africa, and not England and Ireland.

In fact English is more dominant in the US today than it ever was, esp. when you consider the US once had regional dialects so thick that it was actually difficult for people to understand each other.

It assumes the thing being protected is weak and unsuitable. If that is the case why does it merit protection? If that is not the case then why does it need protection?

Then we can repeal Title VII and find out?

3. is a false premise. We don't need to take everyone. Only those immigrants for whom MB > MC. How many more would that be? Not sure, and even less sure that (a) we couldn't absorb them (happily) or (b) that skiing the skilled of the top is most welfare improving for natives.

Lots of turbulent news lately!

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