Friday, October 20, 2006

The Most American of Us

The US was founded and built on the capacity of the individual and the dangers of centralized power. These basic sentiments run counter to the politicians' popular view of the illegal immigrant, claiming they leach off the American people and drag down the economy.

But a Washington Post article notes that the average Mexican immigrant is more like an entrepreneur, working hard, risking much and doing what it takes to get by (even leaving behind family members when they immigrate). They really do pull themselves up by their bootstraps. These tempest-tost stretch their budgets in virtually every dimension allowing them to purchase cars and homes, a testament not only to the wealth created in a free society but their determination to take full opportunity of its advantages.

When I see the average immigrant working as hard as our heroic pioneers and entrepreneurs while native-borns repeat claims of victimhood and accusations of theft, it is clear that this generation's foreign population are our next great citizens. Risking everything so they have a chance to risk everything once more, they are clearly more American than virtually every soul fortunate to be born here.


Anonymous said...

If these people are such great citizens and entrepreneurs, why don't they stay in their own country and improve things there? I've never heard of any great entrepreneur who's basic plan starts with breaking the law and continuning to break the law.


David said...

Because its easier to start a business in some countries than others. I would agrue the chief reason Mexico is so poor is that its political institutions are so wretched: property rights are poorly enforced, government creates barriers to entry, regulation pursists in virtually every corner... I don't have the numbers for Mexico but in other developing economies it can take years or decades to start a new business because of all the legal steps required.

To insist people should stay in a poverty stricken nation on the grounds that they should improve an inherited system which doesn't want to change is simply inhumane. Not to mention harmful to both economies.

Anonymous said...

David, if the system is so bad, they should change it too. It's not inhumane. The US had it's own economic problems and our forefathers fixed them. Why is it too much to ask they do the same instead of taking the easy way out? Besides, these people obviously have no problems breaking the laws here so why don't they ignore them over there?

David said...

Because revolutions have a collective action problem; enough people have to rise up against the government at the same time to exert change. "Groups" don't act; only individuals do. This is why revolutions are rare and successful ones are even rarer. Shrinking the government through voting is similarly dificult: you can only change when you're on the inside and there are few incentives to change when there.

It's easy to forget that the history of humanity is marked by tyrrany, opression and poverty. Pulling off a free market economy is incredibly hard; many great things have to happen at once. It would be ideal if Mexico would adopt a better government (as that would increase the level of capitalism) but that is that's the ideal; a long term goal but not the only one.

People in developing countries do break the laws in their own country. But doing so is expensive--briberies must be paid, less efficient channels must be used, etc. Yet in Mexico, it's much cheaper to break immigration laws (which is also a signal as to how bad it is in developing countries).

The lesson is not only does immigration improve the American economy, not only is it unreasonable to demand foreigners simply fix their own problems (do I even need to go through the history of people who needed outside help being liberated?) it is also immoral to force people to live in poverty and deny them the opportunity to move out of it simply because they were born on the wrong side of a line.

Anonymous said...

You are correct when it comes to legal immigrants, however when it comes to dealing with illegal immigrants let me give you some real world expirence with these "hard working immigrants that just want to do the jobs Americans won't do".
I live in Chicago's northwest burbs,Illinois has the 5th highest population of illegals in the country( topped only by California,Texas,New York and Georgia )and my area in Illinois has the second highest concentration of illegal population.
I have lived in my current home going on 9 years this coming January and this area was a nice diverse lower middle income neighborhood.
Starting about three years ago we had several homes sold to hispanics, this was not a major cause for concern as we already had several hispanic families living around us, the cause for concern came when the 10 to 12 cars of those helping the new neighbors move in never left because these homes now contain up to 30 Illegals living there in shifts.
We now have at least four of these homes around us.
While the parking problems caused by this were annoying it was only the start, I've had Christmas lights yanked down and smashed, the number of break ins has jumped ( in one case one of the "families" was ejected by the town home association as an undesirable element after multiple arrests of the children of the multiple dwellers for vandlizing communty properties and other crimes).
I purchased a big screen TV that was brought in on the back of my brother in law's pick up and we passed some of our new neighbors hanging out on their driveway, after we got the TV into the house my brother in law left and my wife went to get dinner and I stayed to begin hooking up the new TV.
They saw the pick up and my wife's vehicle leave and thought the house was empty and I stepped out to cool off after stong armming the new set into place just in time to encounter all four of them walking around the corner of my house at which point they all pulled the abrupt 180 and commenced the "just out for a walk we're not up to anything" walk away, you didn't have to be Sherlock Holmes to recognized an attempt to case the joint.
I have had all four of my tires slashed for the "crime" of having a Suport Our Troops bumper sticker and Old Glory flying from it, once again another of our "hard working" illegal neighbors (BTW the neighbor who wittnessed the slashing was one of the previously mentioned hispanic US citizen).
And just to put the cherry on top one of these hardworking illegals decided to try a home invasion, he tried to kick the door in and kept trying despite being informed that the home was occupied, that the police had been called, all had no deterent effect, looking down the business end of a 45 automatic pistol, however persuaded him he might want to try another target, and yes had he taken one more step into my home or made a move with anything that looked like a weapon I would have had no problem handing out several deportation notices of the 45 cal. variety.
In addition to the crime increase there is garbage thrown all over,since these aren't homes but simply a place to crash to most of them they give a flying crap about home values and we now have several of these homes now.
It's all fine and good to opine from far away about how illegals are just hard worker looking for a chance and a few years ago I might very well have agreed with you, but I'm out here where the rubber meets the road in the illegal immigration debate and quite frankly they have managed to use up every last ounce of concern and compassion I may have held for them.
When they demand rights any more these days I'm all for affording them the rights they deserve, the right to be put on the first bus heading south, the right to be marched at gunpoint to the border, the right to swift boot in the rear across said border, and the right to be Mexico's problem.

Jacob said...

For the most part, I think you are right on the money, David. Most of the illegals I've run across are fine, normal people. Some of them are even more terrified of being caught breaking a law than the average American, because if they get caught it's back to Mexico and time to start over.

Of course, it's not all hardworking entrepreneurs, as Jason has pointed out. The flipside is equally true - often, the penalty for breaking a major law (murder, grand theft, arson) is only deportation.

One thing that I think we could all agree on is that there needs to be an overhaul of the system.

Hopefully (in my opinion) it would be in the direction of treating illegals more like citizens - both in terms of benefits and punishments.

David said...

I don't really see a point to the story except to note that your neighborhood has poor police enforcement and there are people that unjustly take advantage of that. I never wrote that all immigrants are hardworking nor did I claim all Americans are lazy. That would be absurd and to insist we should get rid of all illegals because there exists some bad ones is a sloppy argument.

You claim I don't care about the real world because I don't base my arguements around your experiences. What nonsense. I care about the big picture of the real world. You focus on a very small part of it and claim it's the same everywhere. Of course the few you've encountered should be arrested or sent back but it would selfish and small minded to then make the absurd jump that all should be treated as such or even assumed to be treated as such (I still hold to innocent until proven guilty).

If you want to make claims about the ones you know, that's fine. If you want to make policy suggestions, then you should start looking "far away." Your neighborhood is not the world.

Anonymous said...

David, I'm afraid your entire argument is fluff and nonsense. To illustrate through your own failed efforts at coherence:

"I never wrote that all immigrants are hardworking nor did I claim all Americans are lazy. That would be absurd and to insist we should get rid of all illegals because there exists some bad ones is a sloppy argument."

1. Just as sloppy an argument is the one that states the exact OPPOSITE of that sentiment ("We should allow illegal immigrants to stay because some/most of them are nice guys...").

2. And now the second idiotic point you've made - I apologize if you take any offense to my comments and characterizations of you, though I doubt you will when faced with reality: "it would selfish and small minded to then make the absurd jump that all should be treated as such or even assumed to be treated as such (I still hold to innocent until proven guilty)."


To further (and quickly) illustrate: Let's say you have a janitorial job at a set price - $10/year for sake of simplicity. The average American can barely scrape by on $10/year, so they don't have an interest in taking the job. Enter illegal immigrant, poor as dirt, to snap up the job as soon as he can get fake papers. The immigrant works the janitorial job at $10 or LESS, and there's one less job in the economy for an American worker who wants to to fill.

Without illegals in the picture, the demand curve of the employer to fill the position is forced to adjust to the work supply curve - aka offering more $$ per year. The market finds a way to work, factoring in the added costs - which are minute when spread across the economic infrastructure - the market balances things out and properly adjusts most rates.

Allowing illegal immigrants to infiltrate our economy and our work force undermines the ability of the market to work itself out. Having illegal immigrants take "the jobs nobody wanted" is fine - AFTER every American who wants a job has his or her pick at one.

- Eric

PS - I hope nobody pays you to give opinions like the aforementioned...