Posted on January 31,
The Wall Street Journal has just published an important, disheartening story, U.S. Push to Oust Venezuela’s Maduro Marks First Shot in Plan to Reshape Latin America. The Trump Administration has apparently decided to embark on a large-scale interventionist campaign to reverse
One would think the fact that our “remake the world in our image” plans worked out so well in the Middle East might curb US adventurism. And it isn’t just that we made a mess of Iraq, failed to break Iran, and failed to install new regimes in Afghanistan and Syria. The New American Century types are deep in denial that this geopolitical tussle not only cost the US greatly in terms of treasure, but it also wound up considerably enhancing Russia’s standing.
Consider another bad outcome from US war-making in the Middle East: the rise of the radical right in Europe. American nation-breaking had produced a flood of refugees trying to enter Europe. In a misguided show of humanitarianism, European countries welcomed the over one million migrants that arrived in 2015, with the upsurge due mainly to the civil war in Syria. Angela Merkel in particular backed the idea of taking in the refugees, in part because German has a lower-than-replacement birth rate, and Syrian has a high level of public education. However, the EU members had patchy and generally poor programs for helping the migrants assimilate and find jobs. The result was what one hard core left wing political scientist who has spent a considerable amount of time in Germany calls “Merkelization”: a rise of nativist right wing parties like AfD in response to large-scale, poorly-managed migrant inflows.
Consider how this tendency might play into US nation-breaking near our borer. Many readers have pointed out that the “caravans” from Central America are heavily populated with people from countries like Honduras that our tender ministrations have made much worse. My colleague was warning of Merkelization of the US even before the US launched its coup attempt, that it is one thing to have an immigration process that is generous towards asylum-seekers, and quite another to have open borders when political and economic conditions in countries to the South are unlikely to get better.
Bernie Sanders was browbeaten into holding his tongue after pointing out early in his Presidential campaign that “open borders” is a Koch Brothers position, and that the top 10% professional class that has become the base of the Democratic party are now heavy employers of servants, in the form of nannies and yard men. When I was a kid, even the few times we lived in middle/upper middle class suburbs full of senior corporate managers and professionals, no one had servants. Men worked full time and wives did the housework; the most you’d see would be a housekeeper in once a week to give the wife some relief.
As Peter Beinart pointed out in The Atlantic in 2017:
In 2005, a left-leaning blogger wrote, “Illegal immigration wreaks havoc economically, socially, and culturally; makes a mockery of the rule of law; and is disgraceful just on basic fairness grounds alone.” In 2006, a liberal columnist wrote that “immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers who compete with immigrants” and that “the fiscal burden of low-wage immigrants is also pretty clear.” His conclusion: “We’ll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants.” That same year, a Democratic senator wrote, “When I see Mexican flags waved at proimmigration demonstrations, I sometimes feel a flush of patriotic resentment. When I’m forced to use a translator to communicate with the guy fixing my car, I feel a certain frustration.”
The blogger was Glenn Greenwald. The columnist was Paul Krugman. The senator was Barack Obama.
Prominent liberals didn’t oppose immigration a decade ago. Most acknowledged its benefits to America’s economy and culture. They supported a path to citizenship for the undocumented. Still, they routinely asserted that low-skilled immigrants depressed the wages of low-skilled American workers and strained America’s welfare state. And they were far more likely than liberals today are to acknowledge that, as Krugman put it, “immigration is an intensely painful topic … because it places basic principles in conflict.”…
A larger explanation [for the change] is political. Between 2008 and 2016, Democrats became more and more confident that the country’s growing Latino population gave the party an electoral edge….
Alongside pressure from pro-immigrant activists came pressure from corporate America, especially the Democrat-aligned tech industry, which uses the H-1B visa program to import workers….
According to a comprehensive new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, “Groups comparable to … immigrants in terms of their skill may experience a wage reduction as a result of immigration-induced increases in labor supply.” But academics sometimes de-emphasize this wage reduction because, like liberal journalists and politicians, they face pressures to support immigration.
Many of the immigration scholars regularly cited in the press have worked for, or received funding from, pro-immigration businesses and associations.
I suggest you read the Beinart piece in full; it makes clear that immigration is a thorny, complex problem, which is not something you’d infer from either party now.
Click on the link for the rest.