Geopolitical Futures: Merkel Doesn’t Blame the Voter [+1]


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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102 Responses

  1. Avatar Gaelen says:

    The only thing I can think of when reading that first section is this: leave/anti-immigrant voters are much less likely to live around/interact with actual immigrants. On a related note, that essay does not mention the media, or their role in stoking the fears and impending sense of crisis that drive these movements, instead they are treated as an almost divine revelation which must be honored.Report

    • Avatar James K says:


      This is an important thing to figure out before we start thinking about solutions. Is the problem that things are bad, or is the problem that people think things are bad, because these are two different problems with two different solution sets.

      It’s also possible that the answer to that questions varies by country.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Think the French Revolution — it’s not that things are bad, it’s that things are getting worse. Things were certainly worse for the Average Frenchman during Louis The Sun King’s reign (famines).

        It’s when the middle class gets worse that revolutions happen.Report

        • Avatar J_A says:

          But it’s not even that the middle class were worse under Louis XVI that under Louis XIV. Actually, the middle class were doing economically well at the time.

          What they resented was that they were completely shut off the political process, probably more so than under Louis XIV What had been in 1680 a welcomed and novel system of government, based, among other things, on destroying the legitimate (in the sense of legally recognized) role of the nobility in government, so that the King could reach directly to the people, had become one hundred years later completely ossified, with the King out of reach in Versailles.

          By the way, the same situation existed in pre WWI Russia, with Nicholas completely out of reach. In 1905 the middle classses had already forced a Duma. Absent the war, the czarist government would probably not have survived ten more yearsReport

          • Avatar LeeEsq says:

            Around the time of the Financial Crisis, Bloomberg published an article about the French Revolution being caused in part by elite over-production. There were lots of lawyers and other educated people but not enough work for them to do. This was partly because the French government was absolutist.

            The only real way to save the Romanov dynasty is an alternate universe where Alexander II doesn’t get blown to bits by an anarchist. He was going to implement an empire wide deliberative council at the time of his death. His reactionary son, Alexander III, quickly reversed course and insisted on his divine right. Alexander III had the force of character to rule Russia despotically. Nicholas II most definitely did not. If Alexander II lived long enough to introduce a deliberative nationwide parliament than it could have helped eventually evolve Russia into a constitutional monarchy. The world might be a happier place under these circumstances.Report

  2. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Exactly. In particular these quotes (from the each quoted block respectively):

    This is important: the perception is that the new politicians are creating the crisis, not the other way around.

    liberals often fall prey to monadic analysis where the resolve and perception of the opposing forces are not taken into consideration.Report

  3. Avatar Murali says:

    The problem with these analyses is that stupid evil* voters is in this case more or less true. Talk about trolley problems, but the number of innocent lives saved via admitting the refugees far exceeds those killed by terrorists who sneak in with them.

    The second article does a lot to imply that people have a valid objection against immigrants, but you really don’t. There are some things democratic majorities don’t get to decide and people’s basic rights like the right to free movement are one of them**.

    *At least significantly morally mistaken about this issue

    **While property rights can rightly circumscribe the right to free movement, People do not collectively own state land and even if governments own state land, there are more stringent limitations on what governments may do with and in their property than what people may do that it is hard to say that the bundle of rights governments possess over that land amount to ownership. The government may buy and sell state land to private individuals and perhaps decide what use it is put to (within some limits) but except with carceral, military and intelligence agencies, rights to exclude (which seems like a very important component in an account of ownership) are heavily limited.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      Murali: There are some things democratic majorities don’t get to decide and people’s basic rights like the right to free movement are one of them**.

      This is an open borders argument. I’m fine with the open borders argument, but let’s be clear that that’s what this is.

      (my definition of ‘open borders’- traveling between Dallas to Phoenix is no different administratively than traveling from Dublin to Phoenix is no different administratively than traveling from Damascus to Phoenix)Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Yes, yes, you must admit immigrants in vast numbers. Must we also commit genocide?
      Because that’s what’s fucking on the books as an actual plan for “what happens when First World countries are forced to take in refugees”.

      Fuckin’ cheapskates — but it’s your neck of the woods, not mine, and neither of us gets a vote.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      “The problem with these analyses is that stupid evil* voters is in this case more or less true. Talk about trolley problems, but the number of innocent lives saved via admitting the refugees far exceeds those killed by terrorists who sneak in with them.”

      And yet, this has nothing to do with whether or not a society decides to CHOOSE to allow someone in their society. Where were all the demands that starving / dying kids in Iraq be allowed to leave and immigrate because of the Wests No fly Zone?

      “The second article does a lot to imply that people have a valid objection against immigrants, but you really don’t. There are some things democratic majorities don’t get to decide and people’s basic rights like the right to free movement are one of them**.”

      Actually they do. It’s THEIR country, not the people wanting to get in’s country. It’s been like that for thousands of years.Report

  4. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    As if immigration is a new issue, without precedent or exemplars of actions and consequences.

    What if, indeed, the Irish fail to adapt and assimilate? What if the Germans and Italians bring their new foods and cultures and overwhelm our beloved Spotted Dick? What will we do on that dark day when the Supreme Court is comprised entirely of Catholics and Jews??Report

    • Avatar Dand says:

      As if immigration is a new issue, without precedent or exemplars of actions and consequences.

      You’re right it’s not. Compare this graph of the percent foreign born:

      To this one of income inequality:

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        Thats cool.
        Now do another set, of rates of labor union membership with wealth inequality. And marginal tax rates for a kicker.Report

        • Avatar Dand says:

          Way to change the subject; no one is claiming that immigration is the only factor. Let’s see if you can give a better response than calling me a NAZI like a coward again.Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

            I mean, I think it’s a good thing that conservatives now agree income inequality is now a problem that they can blame Mexicans for it. Just like they’re beginning to care about the Drug War now that white kids ODing and getting arrested for possession.Report

            • Avatar Dand says:

              It’s amazing how people make knee-jerk judgments of me; I’m not a conservative I’m a populist.Report

            • Avatar Dand says:

              Do you think Samuel Gompers was a conservative.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                I have no problem saying union leaders up until the last 20 or 30 years were pretty stupid in endorsing racist policies to try to protect the members they already had instead of supporting immigration to get more members who has a result of their status, needed the solidarity of a union far more than a suburban auto worker.

                Maybe if they had done that, they wouldn’t have been so easily destroyed in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90s to a shrug from many non-white liberals who saw unions as the racist assholes who stopped their Dad from getting a job at the factory.

                And I say that as somebody who supports the repeal of Taft Hartley.Report

              • Avatar Dand says:

                Wait you’re upset that unions advocated for the best interest of their members? That exactly what unions are supposed to do. If restricting immigration benefits members of a union then the union should support immigration restrictions any union boss who doesn’t do so should be hung for violating their fiduciary obligation. High social status liberals like you and don’t give a shit about actual working people you just expect us to be good little foot soldiers in your battle against the economic elites who you think have unjustly usurped your place at the top of the social order. You don’t want level the social hierarchy you just want to be on the top. I’m sick of people like you claiming you represent the best interests of the working class when in reality you view us as pawns. And then you have the nerve to wonder why unions have declined, they’ve declined because the union bosses care more about accumulating power for themselves than they do about the best interests of their members.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Jesse gives a shit about workers. It’s me who doesn’t. I’m the one who supports child labor (not in America) [to be fair: they volunteered. Apparently sitting in American Detention Centers is reallllllly boring. They’d rather work.]Report

      • Avatar Gaelen says:

        I’m indisposed, but look up the studies on the effect on native born wages of the marial boat lift. If I remember correctly, it only had a small effect on non-high school degree having Americans.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          This, basically. Borjas showed a larger than usual effect, but his findings are not unique in and out of Miami. Large amounts of unskilled immigration can have a small but statistically significant effect on a segment of the labor market’s wages, but doesn’t always (depends on things like baseline economic growth).

          I don’t think the real effects are behind the resistance to immigration, though imagines effects are. Security and safety, real and especially imagined, can also play a role. But mostly it’s about culture.Report

          • Avatar Dand says:

            If that were the case would then we should expect more hostility towards immigrants from more dissimilar cultures, but that’s not what happens at all. Mexico is culturally more similar to the United States than either India or China are yet there is more hostility towards Mexican immigrants than Chinese or Indian immigrants. In the UK there is more hostility to Polish immigrants than Indian immigrants. People also complain about that are directly competing with them economically non-college graduates complain about illegal immigrants while people who work in IT complain about H1-Bs.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              I agree about IT and H1B and that itself is an interesting topic of discussion. But that does hang out there as a reason I believe economic perception (and maybe reality) is a motivator.

              Indians tend to get less adverse a response because the mental image of an Indian immigrant is someone who speaks English, has Middle class values, and so on. Ever there you get some resistance. If we didn’t have filters, though, we’d probably see more of an adverse response (if people I know who work in shipping lanes are any indication). And lastly, there are just fewer of them. Far less likely to have an acculturating effect, and therefore less culturally threatening to people (outside of IT).Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq says:

                I think there is little back lash against Indian and Chinese immigrants because they code closer to whites in the current American racial system while Hispanics code as people of color to immigration opponents.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      I’d have to know more about German history to know what the precedent is for an influx of this size in this short a period of time. (And how well or poorly it went.)Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        I used Germans because that was apparently what Benjamin Franklin was freaked out about.

        That the Number of purely white People in the World is proportionably very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new Comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth. I could wish their Numbers were increased.

        Notice how the Swedes and French are the “swarthy” complexioned folk. Apparently they got lighter over the years, like Michael Jackson or something.Report

      • Avatar InMD says:

        The best comparison to this situation is the Gastarbeiters, mostly Turkish, who were brought in during the decades immediately after World War 2 to assist in reconstruction efforts. I wouldn’t say it went disastrously but it also hasn’t been great either. Because of the way Germany used to determine citizenship (my understanding is the system has changed some in recent years) they ended up with a couple generations of ethnically non-German people who were born and raised in Germany but weren’t citizens. You can imagine how challenging this made assimilation.

        Of course this was a choice of the German people and their leadership. It sounds xenophobic to an American ear but it was and remains common in Germany to say that they are not an immigrant country. Unless the consensus about what it means to be German has changed dramatically I would be very hesitant to have pursued Merkel’s initial policy regarding the refugrees. They’re running the risk of exacerbating the social and political problems they’ve already got with poorly integrated communities.Report

        • Avatar J_A says:

          The Gastarbeiters is exactly the wrong way to go. The second generation were German, but were not allowed to be “German”.

          Schizophrenia is never a good way to goReport

          • Avatar InMD says:

            It’s a terrible way to do things but its also a great illustration of why good intentions with regard to human suffering isn’t enough when it comes to responding to the refugee crisis. There are a whole host of cultural and legal requirements that need to be in place to make mass resettlement work. On balance the US has done a better job than most countries when it comes to assimilating large waves of immigrants. I think there’s a lot of ahistorical and America-centric thinking on this issue. Just because it has tended to work out for us doesn’t mean that’s the natural state of affairs everywhere.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          The United States, United Kingdom, France nearly always defined their national identity as being based in law rather than blood. Now many Americans, British, and French people would disagree but the government position was that the above national identities had to do more with legal paper work and political allegiance than blood and culture. This means that even if you aren’t born American or French you can become one.

          Other countries like Germany and Japan have had a more blood based definition of national identity. To be German or Japanese means to come from a particular lineage and share in a particular culture more than legal paper work and political allegiance.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      Chip Daniels: As if immigration is a new issue, without precedent or exemplars of actions and consequences.

      Kinda severe consequences for the Algonquian, Cherokee, Seminole, etc.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I think Murali and others are on the right track.

    Refugees usually want to return home. They just don’t want to live in a dangerous hellhole where their well-being is in danger. When immigrants have a hard time assimilating into the culture of a new country, it usually says more about the culture itself than the immigrants. The United States is pretty good at assimilating people into our culture. The second generation is pretty much always as American as American can be. Maybe the Hasidic Jews are an exception but no one views them as a threat.

    There is nothing new under the sun with cries of anti-immigrant hysteria and how they are not going to change from their old culture or their culture is incompatible with the new culture. It was said of German Jews who assimilated and then said it about Eastern-European Jews who came later. It was said of the Irish. It was said of the Italians, the Greeks, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Koreans, etc. And it has never been true. Time to come to grips.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      What if they choose Brexit and the National Front and the AfD instead?Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        Or start driving pickup trucks with Confederate flags?
        And joining groups that advocate secession? And advocating that the government follow God’s law instead of secular law?

        Scary, that.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        The point of liberalism is to push for change and more tolerance. Liberalism that doesn’t do that is not liberalism.

        Americans seem to be dumping Trump because of his reactionary views.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          The pieces aren’t about America (for the most part). There may be lessons to be learned for the US, but not immediate ones. We have a longer and more successful history with immigration, so we have more slack.

          Pushing for change and more tolerance is a fine goal. I’m not suggesting they shouldn’t. What I am saying is that blowback is a part of the equation. Merkel may has put Schengen in jeopardy, given rise to AfD, and has had to backtrack on her own commitments. At least in part due to an indifference to popular opinion of her citizenry. You can also look at Sweden, France, Britain. Eastern Europe.

          I’m not making the case that all or some of the refugees should have been turned back. I have my issues with the linked articles. I greatly admire what Merkel did. She was also playing with fire. There is a reason she has had to apologize and reverse course. As I say to North below, in a democracy a public opinion problem is a real problem that doesn’t necessarily go away before you’re right.Report

    • Avatar Dand says:

      Why do immigration proponents refuse to talk about the economic arguments against immigration and instead attack strawmen about assimilation?Report

      • Avatar J_A says:

        Most immigration proponents are happy to talk about the economic impact of immigration.

        Most research on the subject indicates that immigration is a boon for the receiving country.

        Why don’t immigration opponents want to talk about the economic impact of immigration?Report

        • Avatar Dand says:

          High skilled immigration yes not low skill immigration. Look at what’s happened to wages in the meatpacking and roofing industries in the past 50 years.Report

          • Avatar j r says:

            So your hope for the future of the American economy and the fortunes of the middle class lie in jobs in meat processing and roofing?Report

            • Avatar Dand says:

              I want to increase the economic well being of Americans without a college education. You can look down your nose at them all you want.Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                You can look down your nose at them all you want.

                Nice try. Especially after that bit about not wanting to talk about the economic arguments.

                Tell me you economic vision for the United States and how it entails protecting and preserving low-paying, low-skilled labor. And then tell me how once you’ve built that wall to keep all the immigrants out, you’re going to stop automation, which eliminates many more jobs than immigration or globalization ever will.

                This is the fundamental problem with economic populism. It dooms us to the very things that it pretends to be fighting.Report

              • Avatar Dand says:

                Tell me you economic vision for the United States and how it entails protecting and preserving low-paying, low-skilled labor.

                my vision is to increase the price labor by restricting the supply; in the post war years public policy actively restrained the supply of labor through policies like immigration restriction and high marginal tax rates the discouraged people from working long hours as a result the standard of living for the lower 60% or so increased like it didn’t do before or since. Between 1965 and 1980 those policies were repealed and and incomes for the bottom 60% have plummeted while the top 30% are doing gangbusters.

                And then tell me how once you’ve built that wall to keep all the immigrants out,

                To the extent I favor a border wall it’s as a make work project not a means of immigration control, I want to reduce immigration through employer based enforcement.

                you’re going to stop automation, which eliminates many more jobs than immigration or globalization ever will.

                I really don’t understand why the possibility of automation eliminating low skilled employment is an argument in favor of low skilled immigration. If the prophecies of doom about automation are true the last thing we want to do is increase the number of soon to be unemployable people.

                I don’t think automation is going to have anywhere near the effect that you say it will Matthew Yglesias is not about to get a robot nanny for his kid, and I don’t think automation is going to have anywhere effect that some fear, productivity growth has been lower post 1970 than it was before. And I think Robert J. Gordon is correct that our problems are stagnating growth not runaway automation.Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                my vision is to increase the price labor by restricting the supply;

                That’s not the way economies work. This is classic lump of labor fallacy.

                Again, you say that you want to talk about the economics, but all you’re putting out is economic fallacies, repeated references to the one Borjas paper (and ignoring all the other literature with findings to the contrary), and this unfounded claim that immigration restrictions were the cause of rising middle class wages through the middle of the 20th century.

                You are not being very serious in this discussion.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:

                “my vision is to increase the price labor by restricting the supply; in the post war years public policy actively restrained the supply of labor through policies like immigration restriction and high marginal tax rates the discouraged people from working long hours as a result the standard of living for the lower 60% or so increased like it didn’t do before or since.”

                And institutional racism. You forgot that policy. That was a very successful policy in restricting the supply of labor

                The standard of living of non-white part of the lower 60% didn’t go anywhere like the white portion’s did.Report

              • Avatar Dand says:

                And institutional racism. You forgot that policy. That was a very successful policy in restricting the supply of labor

                The standard of living of non-white part of the lower 60% didn’t go anywhere like the white portion’s did.

                Racism didn’t restrict the supply of labor; blacks were still in the labor pool. Saying that there was racism in the post war years is nothing more than a red herring.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:

                They were part of the labor pool indeed, but they were restricted to only a portion of the work pool.

                Pre 1960s blacks did most of the menial work, but a much smaller percentage of the highly paid skilled blue collar work. Hence they could not reap equally into the boon of well paid factory jobs.

                Institutional racism reduced the supply of labor to the good jobs by making them whites only. And the effect on white workers income was probably bigger than the effect restricting low level immigration from Latin America had. There was still plenty of white immigration from post WWII Europe in the 1940s and 1950s, competing with white workers, but it doesn’t seem to have had a negative effect. Where is Borjas on that?Report

          • Avatar J_A says:

            The Federal Bank of San Francisco begs to disagree


            “The effects of immigration on the total output and income of the U.S. economy can be studied by comparing output per worker and employment in states that have had large immigrant inflows with data from states that have few new foreign-born workers. Statistical analysis of state-level data shows that immigrants expand the economy’s productive capacity by stimulating investment and promoting specialization. This produces efficiency gains and boosts income per worker. At the same time, evidence is scant that immigrants diminish the employment opportunities of U.S.-born workers.”Report

            • Avatar Dand says:

              That doesn’t seperate low and high skilled immigration, the logic is basically Sergey Brin contributes a great deal to the economy therefor immigrant roofers don’t reduce the incomes of American born roofers. I’m not proposing no immigration I’m proposing eliminating low skilled immigration while increasing high skilled immigration.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:

                Very good, lets run a study and see if that is true. We in the Reality Based Community like our studies.

                By the way, the 1990 Miami study, which focused on the sudden immigration of Marielitos (also quoted by Frum) also did not find any negative effect of the sudden arrival of several thousands of low income immigrant workers.

                So is not as if there’s never been a study about the I pact of low level immigrants only. You say the study conclusions are wrong. Very good, lets run another one. It in the meantime, one study trumps (saw what I did here?) gut feelingReport

              • Avatar Dand says:

                Very good, lets run a study and see if that is true. We in the Reality Based Community like our studies.

                Could you stop with this condescending reality based community crap? I don’t tolerate being patronized or spoken down to. Don’t treat me like an inferior.

                By the way, the 1990 Miami study, which focused on the sudden immigration of Marielitos (also quoted by Frum) also did not find any negative effect of the sudden arrival of several thousands of low income immigrant workers.

                So is not as if there’s never been a study about the I pact of low level immigrants only. You say the study conclusions are wrong. Very good, lets run another one. It in the meantime, one study trumps (saw what I did here?) gut feeling

                It’s impossible to run control studies on the subject of immigration. Borjas’s looked at the same data and produced different results. And there is another data set you keep ignoring, what happened to wages of American workers between 1923 and 1975 when immigration levels were in contrast what happened before and since.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:

                I will stop with the Reality Based crap. But -in case you don’t remember- I didn’t start that meme. A colleague of David Frum did. He described the difference between those that studied reality, and those like Frum, the speaker himself, and their bosses, who created new realities.

                And now we have here David Frum rejecting peer reviewed analysis because he disagrees with the conclusion. So, instead of engaging on the studies themselves (too hard, too wonky), we get David Frum’s unsupported explanation of why the studies are wrong and he is right. And, voilá, a new reality is created, just as his colleague explained.Report

              • Avatar Dand says:

                Frum cited a peer reviewed study.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:

                Frum cited Borjas peer reviewed study

                Yasenov peer reviewed study refuted Borjas

                To his credit, Frum mentioned the Yasenov study too

                Frum asked Borjas about Yasenov. Borjas said Yasenov was wrong. Frum was happy that Yasenov was wrong and his preferred conclusion was right. But there’s no peer reviewed study rejecting Yasenov. Where we stand, Yasenov’s 2015 paper is the latest we haveReport

              • Avatar Dand says:

                That’s not the way studies work, the last one doesn’t trump all prior ones, the fact that different studies came to different conclusions means the results are inconclusive.Report

              • Avatar Dand says:

                And for what it’s worth Yasenov response has not yet passed peer review.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                There’s this study here.

                I see all of the benefits of unskilled immigration. I see very little of the costs of unskilled immigration.

                I also benefit when scabs cross picket lines.Report

            • Avatar Dand says:

              Lets look at who serves on the Board of Directors

              Betsy Lawer Vice Chair
              First National Bank Alaska
              Anchorage, Alaska

              Megan F. Clubb President and Chief Executive Officer
              Baker Boyer National Bank
              Walla Walla, Washington

              Peter S. Ho Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer
              Bank of Hawaii and Bank of Hawaii Corporation
              Honolulu, Hawaii

              Nicole C. Taylor
              President and Chief Executive Officer
              East Bay Community Foundation
              Oakland, California

              Richard A. Galanti
              Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
              Costco Wholesale Corporation
              Issaquah, Washington

              Steven E. Bochner Partner
              Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich, & Rosati, P.C.
              Palo Alto, California

              Patricia E. Yarrington

              Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
              Chevron Corporation
              San Ramon, California

              Roy A. Vallee
              Retired Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
              Avnet, Inc.
              Phoenix, Arizona

              Alexander R. Mehran President and Chief Executive Officer
              City Scene Management Company
              San Diego, California

              By my count that’s three bankers and five corporate executives one the nine member board; it’s no wonder they produce cheep labor propaganda.Would you trust a study on smoking paid for by the tobacco industry?Report

              • Avatar J_A says:

                Now you are the one trying to bring ad hominem arguments.

                But ad hominem doesn’t work like that. Actually being a banker or a high corporate executive is a good background to understand economic matters.Report

              • Avatar Dand says:

                If a study on the effects of smoking were funded by the tobacco industry would it be an ad hominem to point that out? These people economically benefit from cheep labor, and it is important to consider that fact when review research that they’ve funded.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:

                It’s obvious you don’t have a good opinion of the Federal Reserve. Apparently, if the Federal Reserve endorses something, it must be bad.Report

          • Avatar J_A says:

            David Frum? Really? An article from David Frum?

            Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

            By the way, he quotes the FBSF study I linked above. He’s not convinced. Nor is he convinced about a Miami study with similar conclusions but different methodology. Of course he hasn’t run his own studies. Running studies is for people in the Reality-Based community. Let’s never forget that Frum was part of the Reality-Creating elite. He creates his own Reality, and then we mere lowly chums followers get to study this newly created Frum (TM) Reality, while he goes and creates something new, albeit not yuuuuugeReport

            • Avatar Dand says:

              Nice of you to ignore the George Borjas study and instead respond with an ad hominem.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:

                From the Frum article, on Borjas

                “In short order, a rebuttal to Borjas’ criticism of Card was published by Giovanni Peri and a University of California graduate student, Vasil Yasenov.

                Their answer in their winter 2015 paper was scorching:

                quote:[We point out that the very different conclusions in a recent reappraisal by George Borjas (2015) stem from the use of a small sub-sample of high school dropouts in the already very small March-CPS sample. That sample is subject to substantial measurement error and no other sample provides the same findings. Being imprecise about the timing of the data and the choice and validation of the control sample further contribute to the impression of an effect from the boatlift in Borjas.] end quote


                All of this leaves Borjas’ result looking very fishy. He would have had to have searched hard to find the one small group of workers who seemed to suffer from the Mariel influx. Borjas could well have been subject to heavy confirmation bias—he might have been so fundamentally certain that immigration was bad for native workers that he searched and searched until he found one group that seemed to confirm his pre-existing beliefs. In science terms, that is called data mining; it’s a big no-no.”

                Then Frum starts claiming that the Yasenov paper is methodologically wrong and Borjas is vindicated (and Frum knows this because he asked Borjas and Borjas told him)

                Anything else I’m missing about Borjas?Report

              • Avatar Dand says:

                Borjas study means that the results are inconclusive. Here’s another piece by Borjas


                Simply look at how employers have reacted. A decade ago, Crider Inc., a chicken processing plant in Georgia, was raided by immigration agents, and 75 percent of its workforce vanished over a single weekend. Shortly after, Crider placed an ad in the local newspaper announcing job openings at higher wages.

                What’s your response to what happened at Crider?Report

              • Avatar J_A says:

                Can we stop arguing statistics and peer reviewed papers on one side, and anecdotes and magazine opinion articles on the other?Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        My great grandparents were immigrants. They were Southern and Eastern European Jews who never learned to speak English. My maternal grandfather needed to act as a translator for his parents and sent them money as soon as he started working.

        It feels hypocritical of me to deny others the same just because my family immigrated a while ago.Report

        • Avatar Dand says:

          You’d be hypocritical either way because your Parents and Grandparents benefited from immigration restriction between 1923 and 1965. Your skills are also such that you almost certainly benefit from low skilled immigration since it makes services that you consume cheaper.Report

    • Avatar notme says:

      Refugees usually want to return home.

      According to whom? If this is true then way are many refugees trying to go to the EU countries with the most generous welfare benefits? Why not stay in the first safe country you come because it is probably closer to your old home?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        It’s one thing for a turk to want to stay in greece. If the culture’s crazy different, there’s no reason to “stay close”Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      “Maybe the Hasidic Jews are an exception but no one views them as a threat.”
      Because most of the grifters moved back to Israel, where they are viewed as a threat and have spawned massive protests.Report

  6. Avatar North says:

    Seems a bit overwrought personally. What if they don’t assimilate? What if they don’t respect their host countries cultures? As in what, act unlike migrants ever have in the past couple hundred years in the developed world? Seems unlikely. Frankly I think it ascribes a remarkable strength of ideals and adherence to ideology that I doubt the Muslim immigrants posses. I live in Minneapolis which has a very large Somali immigrant community and their kids are already jettisoning a ton of the cultural indicators so my skepticism is high.
    Which isn’t to say that there aren’t hard choices to make. They’re probably going to have to (and already have) greatly increase scrutiny and restrictions on migrants from non-war zones. Some aspects of the European regulatory state are creating some bad incentives that’re creating employment problems that fall hardest on the immigrants. There’s still a state/private economy balance question that remains nagging.
    Ironically, though, all those young immigrants are a simple answer to the fertility complaints that the usual suspects bring up.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      I have a lot more faith in our ability to assimilate immigrants than I do Germany’s. Or most of Europe.

      And aside from everything else, in a democracy a public opinionion problem is a problem.

      I have some rather mixed feelings on both it’ll the articles. I don’t agree with where they are coming from, but I do think they are pointing to some Europe is only now recognizing as the non-transient problem that it is.Report

      • Avatar InMD says:

        And that’s the rub. The United States has done a pretty good job of assimilating immigrants. Not every culture/society is like ours and even other Western countries with a lot of similarities don’t have the same experience with it that we do. I also think Lee makes some important points below about technology and how assimilation may be easier to avoid or delay.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          Food is a very important part of culture and alcohol drinking and pork products are a big part of European food cultures. Many European societies are increasingly post-religious and sexually liberal. It should be no surprise that tee-totaling, pork abstaining, religious, and generally sexually conservative Muslims. I think one reason why the United States is doing better with assimilating Muslims is because we are over all more religious than many European countries and aren’t that alcohol and pork obsessed despite advertising. We also tend towards greater sexual conservatism.Report

          • Avatar InMD says:

            That helps along with the fact that regardless of their status their children are born citizens. We have plenty of cultural hypocracies about who is and isn’t a real American but I think there’s still enough cultural push towards tolerance and economic opportunity that immigrants don’t end up alienated in the same way they can be in Europe.

            There might also be an important distinction to be made between immigrants and refugees. I wonder if a person who comes to a new country with the intent of being assimilated isn’t a bit different than a person who ends up in a new country primarily because they are fleeing some catastrophe in their homeland. I undestand that these things can and often do overlap (I think of the Irish fleeing famine) but it may make refugees less likely to abandon certain cultural traits or beliefs that are inconsistent with liberal democracy.Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq says:

              I don’t think so. During the 19th century and early 20th century nearly all immigrant groups except the Irish and the Jews intended to work for a few years in the United States to build up capital and return home for the most part. This did not always happen but the intent was there for the most part. Its why Irish and Jewish immigrants tended to come over with women and children in tow while other groups were dominated by single and young men.

              Refugees want safety and are very glad to have a place of safety that will take them in. I’d say that they might be more willing to assimilate than more economic based immigrants.Report

              • Avatar InMD says:

                Doesn’t that contradict where you were going with your previous statement a bit though? I mean, Americans eat pork sausage and drink beer too. We also have a political system contrary to what a strict interpretation of Islam would seem to demand. Other religions seem to have largely made their peace with secular government in a way that I’m not sure many forms of Islam have.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Judaism only barely has reached peace, and only outside of Israel, which is a functional theocracy in many ways (not the least of which is that Reform Rabbis are not considered rabbis there).Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If we can turn devout Muslims into coastal elite types who are Islamic in the same way that, to use AJ Jacobs’ phrase, Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant, then we don’t have a problem at all.

                We just need to get them here and immerse them in our pop culture.

                If they’d loosen up and adopt a couple of heavy-drinking holiday festivals, they’d be more readily accepted.Report

              • Avatar InMD says:

                I don’t think we can turn them into anything. It’s more a matter of what they decide to become combined with us not doing things that are counter-productive to that end.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq says:

                During the 19th and early 20th centuries, many people in the United States and Europe believed that the Roman Catholic Church would never make peace with small-l liberalism and secular, representative democracy. The Popes were adamant about the Catholic Church remaining part of politics in Catholic majority countries. They encouraged Catholics to feel that they were under siege and part of Fortress Catholicism against a secularizing world. Even as a late as 1960, many Protestant Americans feared that Kennedy would be to differential to Catholicism in making decisions. This was within living memory.

                Islam is in a similar situation these days as the Catholic Church was during the 19th century and most of the 20th century. There are some differences in that Islam is less organized. Catholicism dropped the Fortress Catholicism attitude mainly because Pope John XXIII decided to call quits on it while earlier liberal Popes edged away from it by allowing Catholic participation in the political process through Catholic unions and political parties. Islam will not have such a figure. Conservative Islam also has some very wealthy nations with a lot of money to support it and some to a lot of theocratic justification for it’s stance depending on who you ask.Report

              • Avatar InMD says:

                I think there might be some similarities but I don’t think it’s a particularly apt comparison. Yes there are certain aspects of modern politics that the Catholic Church tried to insulate it’s adherents against in the not too distant past and there were even some wars where it was an aspect of the conflict (Ireland, Spanish civil war). Still it isn’t clear to me that Catholics were coming straight from sectarian battlefields to culturally Protestant countries whose governments and cultures they believed were illegitimate for religious reasons, regardless of what the official position of the Church was.

                You can find some nasty rhetoric from the past but I also don’t think that the economic and cultural gulf was as large.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq says:

                I agree that it isn’t an exact comparison and that the Catholics and that Islam does seem to possess an immunity to liberalism that other religions do not.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq says:

                I think another problem is that there isn’t a need for Liberal Islam in the 21st century, the way there was for Liberal Judaism in the 19th century. Muslims who want to drop the entire strict observance think can just go straight into secularism and atheism. This works for individual Muslims wanting to acculturate but not for mass acculturation. During the 19th and early 20th century, Western society was largely religious enough that Jews who wanted to acculturate couldn’t abandon religion entirely. They either had to become Christian or develop and practice a form of Judaism that permitted modernity. These days this isn’t important.

                Acculturation was also part of the deal with Jewish emancipation. Jews would be given full civil rights but we had to abandon some of our more distinctive and separating customs. These sorts of deals are considered not really appropriate any more.Report

  7. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    First I’m going to say I agree with Will that in a democracy, doing the right thing does not automatically make a politician immune from public opinion and electoral consequences if the public disagrees. American and European history is filled with political parties suffering in the electoral wilderness because they did the right thing or at least stuck to their guns in the absence of overwhelming public opinion. You have the Democratic Party suffering in Presidential elections between 1968 and 1992 because of civil rights and you have the Labour Party in the United Kingdom staying true to their political principles and losing every general election between 1979 and 1997.

    The issue of whether current immigrants are going to assimilate is a tricky one. History says that immigrants will eventually assimilate into their new countries culture but history is not always the best guide. There are several big differences between the early 20th century and the early 21st century that suggest that there might be less assimilation. Communication and transportation are a lot easier now than they were in the past. During the early 20th century, immigrants could fund newspapers and theater in their own language. Going back and forth between the home country and the United States did happen but it was a more difficult task than simply getting on an airplane. These days traveling back and forth is easier and that can act as a way to decrease acculturation.

    The increases in technology also might act to decrease acculturation for two reasons. One is that it allows for a more fragmented cultural landscape. Until the late 20th century, there really was a mass culture because access to media was limited. There were only so many television channels and radio stations. Nearly everybody had to watch the same things and listen to the same music more or less because of this unless you were in a sub-culture like Christian fundamentalists or Bohemia and just eschewed mass culture. This meant that there was a mass culture for immigrants to acculturate into. Cable, video, and the Internet fragmented culture incredibly and there isn’t much of a mass culture for immigrants to join in the West. Better communication also allows immigrants to watch entertainment from home.

    There are also ideological differences between the early 20th and early 21st centuries. Even the people most in support of immigration during the early 20th century believed that the immigrants must Americanize themselves and generally give up their language, customs, clothes, and customs accept for something brought out on special occasions. These days, there are more forces that are working against this. There are immigrant advocates that also act against assimilation. For Muslim immigrants, many of the more conservative Muslim countries are actively funding and promoting very strict versions of Islam in order to prevent assimilation. The Catholic Church used to do something similar and had a Fortress Catholicism system for Catholics that ended up in Protestant majority countries but they had less wealth and means to really enforce it.Report

  8. Avatar notme says:

    Liberals keep saying folks will assimilate. Then why is this town talking about putting in street signs in Spanish?

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      For the same reason there were newpapers in Polish. Such things take time, and sometimes don’t happen until the next generation.Report

      • Avatar notme says:

        I’m not talking about a newspaper company, no, I’m talking about the gov’t puting up street signs in a foreign language. My ancestors didn’t have liberals around to help coddle them so they didn’t have to assimilate. Why bother assimilating if you don’t have to learn the language?Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          You’d rather we waste police officer time directing people to their own houses, ala japan?
          Seriously, this is what you’re wetting your pants over?

          You’re not upset about bilingual education, or about banks talking in spanish, or anything like that?Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:


          There were no liberals around when your ancestors arrived?

          I’m not sure if you understand how people work. Or how assimilation works. Or how language acquisition works. Putting up signs in foreign languages helps with assimilation. It does not hinder it. The signs offer more points of contact between their native language and English, therefore facilitating greater and faster understanding of English.

          Just because past groups were able to assimilate without such tools does not mean all current and future groups should be denied them. These groups will assimilate likely assimilate faster and more fully because of the signs.

          But they offend your delicate sensibilities so clearly they must go.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            His immigrant ancestors, like mine, lived in ethnic enclaves (or with already assimilated families). The original ones learned little English, their kids were fluent in both languages, and their grandkids knew English and a handful of foreign words Grandma kept using.

            The kids born here did all the translating for their parents (and oftentimes between their parents and their grandkids).

            Of course, I’m most familiar with German immigration, which I darn well know followed exactly that pattern. Like everyone else.

            In the end, you get a few towns with funky names, some interesting food, and a bunch of Americans who think that potato salad is an American food invention, because it’s served with BBQ and that clearly was invented by an American. 🙂Report

  9. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Taking satisfaction in the idea that Everything Has Always Worked Itself Out Before is pretty much the thing the article in cautioning against.Report

  10. Avatar Jaybird says:

    The people who have their trust reduced by immigration don’t deserve to be collaborated with.Report