Immigrants, War, Trade, and the Lions

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The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and I have been carrying on a spirited discussion in the 'Comments' section of this post by The Yooper and I thought it appropos to elevate the dialogue up here to the front page.

Mostly, I think we've each come to realize our opponent is not so much 'feet of clay' but rather 'baby of tar' and continuing to slog it out in the obscurity of 'Comments' only heightens our sense of futility.

So I'm gonna pull rank and put El Puff-Bo up on the main stage for your enjoyment and edification. (To get the full effect, you really do need to read the original thread):


See, people in the UP think the Packers are their home team, but they're wrong, the Lions are their home team, even though the Lions suck.

My Cuba/Iraq point was that we are at war, supposedly on behalf of people who were oppressed by a corrupt undemocratic government, while at the same time telling Mexicans that it's not our problem if their government is corrupt and undemocratic. It seems a little ironic to be willing to lay down American lives for people half way around the world while complaining about giving our shit jobs to our own neighbors. That was the 'logic' or lack of it, I was trying to get at.

But Pew research just published an interesting survey/report on Hispanics in America, which examined the economic impact of undocumented workers on our economy and on Latin American economies, how many of them pay taxes, which taxes, which social services they use, etc. It shows if you subtract the amount they take from the economy in terms of the social services they use, from the amount they contribute in property and sales taxes, over their lifetime the average undocumented worker contributes $80,000 to state and federal government.

The Pew study also shows that these workers account for $800 billion in economic activity every year. That means that, without them, our gdp would drop by $800 billion dollars, which sounds painful

I hope you don't think the pew research center supports dictators, because I'm having a hard time finding these statistics in the Bible (it's GOTTA be somewhere in Exxodus).

As for free trade, if Mexico put a tariff on our subsidized corn, we'd whine about their protectionist, anti-free-market actions, yet 4437 is basically a bill to protect domestic labor against the forces of the international labor market. NAFTA hasn't worked for Mexico, we ('we' being the Heritage Foundation, et al) insist that what Mexico needs is MORE free trade, while at the same time we're pushing for anti-free trade legislation in the US (in the name of combating terrorism, which is ridiculous because the Canadian border is even less guarded then the Mexican one, and the 911 dudes had passports and papers, anyway)

NACLA, which has been accused by Heritage Foundation of supporting Marxist groups, published this paper which says the same stuff as the Oxfam report.

The Heritage Foundation, which accuses every non-profit organization that doesn't advocate tax cuts for the rich of supporting Marxist groups, published an article which basically says that in the 10 years since NAFTA passed, things have gotten worse for labor in Mexico, although it recognizes NAFTA's role in that downward spiral, and actually argues for more free trade to fix the Mexican economy.

Also, a super sweet book that deals with the market-distorting effects of subsidized agriculture in the US is "The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy," by Pietra Rivoli.

Not that anyone's reading this, but I suppose I've said what I wanted to say.

Go Blue! (next year)


Esteemed Senor Mallow makes some good points, and I'm not going to immerse myself in affirming or refuting them at the moment.

I will say the biggest concern some people on the 'close the borders' side have is not that illegal immigrants are an economic drain, but rather that there is an overtly destructive ideology - anti-Americanism in the most generic sense - seeming to infuse the society of new arrivals. The notion of "illegal and artificial European divisions (borders) on our continent" seems to imply these folks have no intention of assimilating. That leads to a host of problems.

Stay Puft, I appreciate the well-conceived message. Thanks for writing and I will follow up in more detail in the next couple days.

And keep the faith: If the lowly 'Skins could turn it around, any team can. That President/GM of yours, however, an unrepentant Cowboys-hater, may need some re-education. The moron. (Yes, though it may surprise you, for a DC native I tend not to toe the establishment line. That's my wild side.)

UPDATE: Below the fold.

I think we have the full continuation of Puft Daddy's messages here now, (sorry for the confusion, PD!):


I doubt there are 11,000,000 members of Mexica in the US. Of course, radical fringe groups will always try to take advantage of political unrest, but that doesn't mean that their ideology pervades the whole community. Sure, on the
cable news we're shown a video of a guy burning a flag. I've been to rallies with 100,000 happy-go-lucky demonstrators and 50 anarchists shouting anti-everything slogans. Guess who's in the evening news.
I really don't think illegal immigrants are anti-American. in my experience, immigrants are mostly a-political, but feeling threatened with deportation probably changes that somewhat.

re: TouchDown #1:
I don't think the "freedom for the Iraqi people" line was used to sell the war, rather to apologize for it after the security concerns turned out to be bogus.

But while we're digging below the rhetoric, why not come to terms with the fact that "The Border Protection, Anti terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005" is really another in a long line of racist immigration laws we've
had:

1780s: whites only policy

1917, 1924: no Chinese/Japanese

1936(?): no naturalization of Filipinos

This is off the top of my head, so don't quote the dates, but you get the picture. A Border Protection act would look very different from 4437, as would an anti-terrorism bill. So it's really about controlling immigrants. Which
immigrants? Scots and Danes? No! It's no secret that it's designed to curb the influx of Mexican/Latin Americans. Maybe you say, "Of course 4437 is focusing on Mexicans, because that's who's coming into the country!" That's
true, just like how it was the inflow of Asians in the teens and 20's led to anti-Chinese/Japanese/Filipino legislation in the past.

So let's tell it like it is, Iraq is about a misguided security concern, and 4437 is really the "we don't really like Mexicans anymore act of 2005"


Mallow-man makes a very good point on the ideological instigators getting the lion's share of publicity. I totally agree. However, ideology can grow massively once it gets out into the public sphere. This was true in the 13th century and it is a lot more true today with the ubiquity of the mass media.

But the Mexicans I run across in daily life ( and there are many) do not seem to exhibit the slightest hint of anti-American, 'reconquista' ideology. They seem like everyone else, trying to get by and playing by the rules.

BUT - so as not to let the camel get his nose under the tent - I don't think the security concerns about Iraq have turned out to be bogus IN THE LEAST. In my view, if we hadn't invaded Iraq in 2003, we should damn sure be doing it again right now. That's a topic for another day, PD, because as you can tell it's already taking me too long to respond here as it is. We can have THAT argument if you want, we can trade those links.

ALSO - the only downside of the Border Protection Act is we don't have a 2,000 mile fence yet. Racist? Yeah, right. Just like every friggin' country in the world is 'racist' by having borders.

Yet I'll acknowledge your good points and good will and give you the floor again:


Sorry, but I forgot to mention option #4: stop artificially lowering the price of US agriculture through subsidies, Mexican agriculture could then compete with US imports but, uh-oh, US agriculture collapses because it's no longer artificially propped up with tax dollars(about $20 billion a year).

As for a comparison of the numbers:
According to "Canada loves NAFTA" half of 2.7 million jobs in the 1st 7 years of NAFTA were manufacturing, that's 1.35 million manufacturing jobs in 7 years, about 200,000 a year. In comparison, about 15 million Mexicans depend on corn, and falling corn prices have led to about 300,000 rural Mexicans crossing the border to find work in the US each year. That's the number who actually leave the country, not the number who lose their jobs. so there it is. Also, do the manufacturing jobs pay as well as the agricultural jobs did? I don't know the answer to that, but it's an important part of the equation. For instance, in Michigan, the total number of jobs is increasing, but we're losing $40,000-$70,000 a year manufacturing jobs and replacing them with minimum wage jobs.

So again, I really don't think this immigration situation is about a bunch of radicalized Mexicans attempting to stage a native-peoples' revolution. It's a matter of economics and survival, and the anti-immigration movement is just a reaction to a globalized economy which won't yield to national borders.


I want to agree with you. From personal experience I also think it is about survival. From stuff I'm hearing about elsewhere, though, it sure seems like there is more to it.

We had a lady from Arizona speak to our group recently and her story about life in border towns was chilling. Things that are happening even in the next town over from me (Herndon, VA) are also pretty scary. Not because of ethnocentrism but because of major social dislocution and perceived damage to the fabric of society.

If it's about economics and survival, I think things will get better in the U.S. because those are two areas our country does pretty good in. There is definitely room for more folks to play a role. (Let 'em get here legally though, if you ask me, because there are already millions in line trying to take the legal route).

If the radicalism gets a toehold, though, that would be bad. I'll probably be here with the Paul Revere crew keeping an eye out for that.

I'm now almost beside myself with enthusiasm to find out what the whole Ann Arbor scene is about, and if I get to make the pilgrimage we'll have to try and share a cold one or two and continue to hash these issues out.

Thanks for the trenchant messages, Great White Puffy Father. You have our gratitude.

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12 Comments

Davis said:

1. We are in Iraq for security reasons. Period. Any other benevolent biproducts (like freedom for the Iraqi people) were emphasized by the Bush administration for the purpose of selling the war to the bleeding-heart pacifists. Soldiers die for their homeland. Very few would die for somebody else's.

2. I know very little about economics, but I'd guess the amount of labor created in Mexico by American businesses (after NAFTA) is close to what they lose in corn. Let me know if I'm totally off on this one, but I'd like to see a comparison of numbers.

Outstanding statement of reality in #1, TD. I will refer back to this. Thank you.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

hey Bud, thanks for the HTML tags

but I don't think 11,000,000 undocumented workers are members of Mexica. My impression is that they're mostly apolitical unless they're being threatened with deportation. Radical fringe groups will always try to capitalize on political unrest, that doesn't mean their ideology pervades the immigrant community. Sure, we see some guy burning a flag on the cable news. I've been to rallies with 100,000 happy-go-lucky demonstrators and 50 anarchists yelling, "capitalism must die!" or whatever. Guess who's on the evening news.

re: TouchDown Davis point #1
I do believe that the "freedom of the iraqi people" line wasn't used to sell the war, rather it was used to justify the war after the security concerns turned up bogus. Nevertheless, the party line is still that we're sacrificing lives for the the iraqi people, which, it seems, makes Republican led anti-immigration measures a little irrational.

but I suppose it's asking too much to think the administration could behave rationally. Still, while we're throwing out the 'bleeding-heart' rhetoric on the Iraq war, why not throw out the anti-terrorism/economic rhetoric on the immigration issue and admit that we just don't care for Mexicans with all their burritos.

it wont be the first time we've implemented racist immigration laws:

1790- whites only immigration policy

1917 & 1924- no citizenship for Chinese/Japanese

1936(?)- act bans naturalization of Filipinos.

The difference is that in the past the US didn't try to hide it's rascal intentions. Nice try, "The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act" why not tell it like it is? A Border Protection act would look very different, as would an anti-terrorism act. So it's really just an Illegal Immigration Control Act. which immigrants need to be controlled? Swedes and Russians? That's right, there's too many Swedes and Russians in this country, drinking all our vodka! No, of course not. The bill is in response to an influx of people from Mexico. It's no secret, right? You might be thinking, "well, of course it's directed at Mexicans, because those are the people who are coming here" Just like the influx of Chinese immigrants in the 19-teens, right?

re: point #2
since you're supplementing your lack of understanding of economics with reckless assumptions, allow me to provide a few details of the situation:

first, economists like to look at two "factors" on the production side. These are labor and capital. for our sake, suffice it to say that the US economy has an abundance of capital, and the Mexican economy has an abundance of labor, and basically NAFTA allows it's members to to disregard national borders for the sake of movements of capital, which is good for the US. But those borders are still enforced in terms of movements of labor, which sucks if you're a Mexican. You might think, "Whatever, nations have a sovereign right to enforce their borders." That's true, but economically what that translates to is, "through NAFTA, we have the right to benefit from our capital abundance while preventing Mexico from benefiting from it's labor abundance."
maybe you say, "OK, hell with NAFTA. We should claim our sovereign right to keep foreign labor from entering our country, and let Mexico tariff our imports it they think it's going to help them."
But if we did that, we'd be admitting that NAFTA, and free trade in general, has failed, and that the only solution is artificially controlled (as opposed to market-controlled) prices for goods and labor through strict immigration legislation and tariffs on imports.

next, this Canada loves NAFTA site says that Mexico gained 2.7 million new jobs in the first 7 years of NAFTA, and that half of those were in the export sector. That's nice, until you take into account Mexico's population growth, which has been steady for years, and increases the population by about 8.7 million people over 7 years (based on the CIA factbook), which means that in the first 7 years of NAFTA, in terms of the employment rate, Mexico gained a grand total of -6 million jobs! yeah!

if the US economy created 2.7 million new jobs in a 7 year period, we'd call it a depression.

so, at the end of the day, we have three options:

1. embrace free trade in all it's glory; open borders for labor and capital

2. play a game of regional hegemony (ie. act like dicks), in which we restrict Mexican labor from coming into the US while forcing Mexico to adhere to NAFTA's anti-tariff policy

3. reject Free Trade and return to a strict nation-state model

ok, I've said enough

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

sorry, but I forgot to mention option #4: stop artificially lowering the price of US agriculture through subsidies, Mexican agriculture could then compete with US imports but, uh-oh, US agriculture collapses because it's no longer artificially propped up with tax dollars(about $20 billion a year).

as for a comparison of the numbers:
according to "Canada loves NAFTA" half of 2.7 million jobs in the 1st 7 years of NAFTA were manufacturing, that's 1.35 million manufacturing jobs in 7 years, about 200,000 a year. In comparison, about 15 million Mexicans depend on corn, and falling corn prices have led to about 300,000 rural Mexicans crossing the border to find work in the US each year. That's the number who actually leave the country, not the number who lose their jobs. so there it is. Also, do the manufacturing jobs pay as well as the agricultural jobs did? I don't know the answer to that, but it's an important part of the equation. For instance, in Michigan, the total number of jobs is increasing, but we're loosing $40,000-$70,000 a year manufacturing jobs and replacing them with minimum wage jobs.

so again, I really don't think this immigration situation is about a bunch of radicalized Mexicans attempting to stage a native-peoples' revolution. It's a matter of economics and survival, and the anti-immigration movement is just a reaction to a globalized economy which wont yield to national borders.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

what's this?

so... I guess my first comment got censored?

Puft Daddy,

No I didn't censor anything, all your comments have showed up, right? I'm not exactly a swami of Movable Type so please let me know if anything is missing.

This is good stuff and shortly I will transfer the above into the post. Thanks!

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

Ok, here's what I said:

re: Mexica
I doubt there are 11,000,000 members of Mexica in the US. Of course, radical fringe groups will always try to take advantage of political unrest, but that doesn't mean that their ideology pervades the whole community. Sure, on the cable news we're shown a video of a guy burning a flag. I've been to rallies with 100,000 happy-go-lucky demonstrators and 50 anarchists shouting anti-everything slogans. Guess who's in the evening news.
I really don't think illegal immigrants are anti-American. in my experience, immigrants are mostly a-political, but feeling threatened with deportation probably changes that somewhat.

re: TouchDown #1:
I don't think the "freedom for the Iraqi people" line was used to sell the war, rather to apologize for it after the security concerns turned out to be bogus.

but while we're digging below the rhetoric, why not come to terms with the fact that "The Border Protection, Anti terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005" is really another in a long line of racist immigration laws we've had:

1780s: whites only policy

1917, 1924: no Chinese/Japanese

1936(?): no naturalization of Filipinos

This is off the top of my head, so don't quote the dates, but you get the picture. A Border Protection act would look very different from 4437, as would an anti-terrorism bill. So it's really about controlling immigrants. Which immigrants? Scots and Danes? No! It's no secret that it's designed to curb the influx of Mexican/Latin Americans. Maybe you say, "Of course 4437 is focusing on Mexicans, because that's who's coming into the country!" That's true, just like how it was the inflow of Asians in the teens and 20's let to anti-Chinese/Japanese/Filipino legislation in the past.

So let's tell it like it is, Iraq is about a misguided security concern, and 4437 is really the "we don't really like Mexicans anymore act of 2005"

re: TD #2
on the production side, economists look at two "factors" capital and labor.
US has a capital-abundant economy, Mexico's is labor abundant. Through NAFTA, members can ignore national borders when it comes to movements of capital, which benefits the US, but borders are still enforced when it comes to movements of labor, which would benefit Mexico.

This Canada Loves NAFTA article says Mexico added 2.7 million jobs to it's economy in the first 7 years of NAFTA. If the US only added 2.7 million jobs in seven years, it'd be a depression. People would, well, they would flee the country.

That isn't even keeping up with the rate of population growth in Mexico. According to the CIA factbook, Mexico's population growth is remained steady at 1.16%. That means almost 9 million more people in the work force over the same 7 year period, which works out to around -900,000 every year. Would YOU stay in Mexico? clearly NAFTA has failed Mexico. Yet we tell Mexico that it needs more free trade! No wonder there was so little support in Latin America for CAFTA.

So I say there are three options:

1: embrace Free trade in all it's glory, freedom of movement of capital and labor across borders

2: play a game of regional hegemony, in which we crack down on inflows of labor while using NAFTA's anti-tariff legislation to continue dumping our agricultural products on Mexico

3: retreat back into the nation-state model, say "hell with NAFTA, we claim our right as a sovereign nation to keep Mexican labor out. Let Mexico put a tariff on our corn if they think it's going to make a difference." not only would that be a defeat for NAFTA, but a blow to the very idea that free trade can solve our problems.

so everything's connected. There's this whole chain of events leading up to the current immigration situation, and simply ignoring the problem by building a big wall along the border would set another chain of events into motion, which could lead to a world of nations turning their backs on free trade, and potentially a collapse of the global economy.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

re: TD #2
on the production side, economists look at two "factors" capital and labor.
US has a capital-abundant economy, Mexico's is labor abundant. Through NAFTA, members can ignore national borders when it comes to movements of capital, which benefits the US, but borders are still enforced when it comes to movements of labor, which would benefit Mexico.

This Canada Loves NAFTA article says Mexico added 2.7 million jobs to it's economy in the first 7 years of NAFTA. If the US only added 2.7 million jobs in seven years, it'd be a depression. People would, well, they would flee the country.

That isn't even keeping up with the rate of population growth in Mexico. According to the CIA factbook, Mexico's population growth is remained steady at 1.16%. That means almost 9 million more people in the work force over the same 7 year period, which works out to around -900,000 every year. Would YOU stay in Mexico? clearly NAFTA has failed Mexico. Yet we tell Mexico that it needs more free trade! No wonder there was so little support in Latin America for CAFTA.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

one more time for economics!

on the production side, economists look at two "factors": capital and labor.
US has a capital-abundant economy, Mexico's is labor abundant. Through NAFTA, members can ignore national borders when it comes to movements of capital, which benefits the US, but borders are still enforced when it comes to movements of labor, which would benefit Mexico.

This Canada Loves NAFTA article says Mexico added 2.7 million jobs to it's economy in the first 7 years of NAFTA. If the US only added 2.7 million jobs in seven years, it'd be a depression. People would, well, they would flee the country. That isn't even keeping up with the rate of population growth in Mexico. (goto CIA factbook and do the math if you'd like)

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

also, regarding the border community issue:
The problem with the bill is that most of it doesn't deal with the border. I attented a talk led by a professor at the U of M law school who works with immigration law who went over the bill and the effects it would have. His take on it was pretty close to the wikipedia article on the bill (to which I have contributed).

It seems like a bunch of politicians heard about the minute men and decided to jump on the bandwagon. But the bill isn't very well tought out. Now it's gotten to the point of, "I'm voting for the bill because my constituents don't like immigrants" or visa versa, kinda like how the PATRIOT ACT wasn't theroughly thought through before it passed due to political pressure. Basically, 4437 would inact a number of draconian measures such as making children born to illegal aliens wards of the state, preventing people from entering the country based on their political views, or classifying foreign students who register for fewer than 12 credits as agrivated felons and deporting them. How are these things going to improve disrupted communities along the border?

There's also a tendency of laws starting off as immigration policy and becomming policy for citizens. Look at the Jose Padilla thing. First Bush claimed the right to disregard Geneva by classifying people captured in Afganistan as illegal enemy combatants, than he claimed the right to do the same thing to US citizens; lock them up and deny them a speedy trial or access to an attorney.

Whoops - ok now I know what happened to Puft Daddy's comments: Movable Type quarantines everything with links - "held for approval". Sorry about that PD! From now on I'll check that "held" section right off the bat.

P.S. Those were excellent comments, Don Pufti, now that I've had a chance to read them in toto. I've already made clear a few points I disagree on, but I must say this is a really good compendium of information you've provided.

Thank you!

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