Americans have lost our pioneering spirit, have become fat and happy with our failing Status Quo.
What is my evidence?
All of those foreigners coming into our country represent a big failure on our part. We have allowed ourselves to be convinced by our society’s opinion-makers that it is a problem of law-enforcement, a problem of illegal aliens invading our country. But that is an incorrect diagnosis, and has lead to incorrect prescriptions. This is engineering, not social work or politics.
Context allows us to understand the situation and what might be done to correct it, how to keep it from getting worse.
This section is an engineering discussion. This is about how people have been and are and how they behave and what kind of things we can reasonably expect of them. Reality as I know it. It is not ideology, it is not prejudice of any kind my introspection can detect. It is engineering analysis, dealing with reality, the here and the now, in ways that keep us human, allow us to become more human. Those are my prejudices, right up front, I do not want to mislead you at all.*
Context for our current ‘immigrant problem, legal and illegal’.
First, a lot of people coming to our country to make a living aren’t illegal, there are many legal routes into our country and citizenship, and interested foreigners know them very well. My wife and many relatives and friends are among them, one minority of many. Why did they come here? Well, Duh! Combinations of corrupt and violent government, war, crime, and farms and businesses destroyed by trade treaties make it very difficult to make a living there, so here is better. “It will be hard!” you tell them. “Hard? You don’t know what hard is” they reply.
From all around the world, we personally hear versions of the same story. Living in the places we have lived, we have met people from probably 50 different ethnic groups and heard their stories. We don’t go interview them, just meet at parties, the pool, or friends or getting our car repaired, kid’s soccer team, or … many things in our world are managed by immigrants, no problem meeting them. We are interested and hear their stories. OK El Norte was dumb Hollywood at work, but the problems of the people are quite real, except for those rats.
And it is the same story for all of them and through time. It started before the US Revolution, every settlement was people banding together to escape a bad part of the world, to further their futures, to raise large families and prosper. They come from all over the world to live, work and do business in the United States, because they knew that the United States has always (well, sometimes) welcomed (not very, mostly) immigrants and had areas that needed labor, of businesses that grew as the economic and people flows that the immigrants were came through a city or state. Jobs we provided in abundance due to the freedom of our people. Jobs they could do around the edges, day labor, on the docks, but food wasn’t scarce and a person could get by, the nation had resources waiting to be turned to human wealth and many citizens anxious to do the turning.
So immigrants came and took jobs. Usually low-end jobs, wave after wave pushed though the low-end jobs of their economies. In the early days, it was farm labor, clearing land and building buildings was a pretty low-end job, even in the new world. Lots of sweat in the old days. Later groups went through the slums and foundaries and factories, the Irish, the Italians, the Poles and Jews and Hunkies and the many Slavs on the East Coast and Philippino, Islander, Chinese, Japanese and Korean on the West . Our country had them all because they could come here and go to work at a wage good enough to send money back home. So, hard life, they came as laborers and stayed as citizens, often brought wife, children, brothers and sisters in a cascade of immigrants. You can still drive through sections of Chicago and see a couple of waves of immigrants in the names and types of businesses. But most of that is faded, we see more and more different names in our national life every year. Older waves of immigrants, in the days before mass literacy, often had their names modified to fit the new world, and often modified it further later. Later immigrants haven’t been encouraged to do that, so seem unusually different.
Our current culture is an amalgam of all of those cultures. We couldn’t separate them out if we wanted to, and cultures do not stand still any more than any individual one us can. We have no choice about change except “what direction?” This is building to an argument about direction, just to warn you.
I believe all of that is solid history. I believe that we moderns appreciate the diversity in our country that has resulted. Food and cultural biases and religions, we appreciate what we can and ignore the rest, get along pretty OK, most of the time, and increasingly our children marry their children. There is very little prejudice in recent generations between member of European civilizations or religions, that is new and I think it is an improvement.
Solid recent history and demographics, nothing to argue about. And why would there be? Through those generations, citizens were there with many foreigners who were and represented available resources. We used them, they survived, mostly, they did they same to the next generation of cheap resources, and here we are.
Or they used us, and we mostly survived, depending on how the many new businesses affected your business. We are not the first peoples to be under-bid by immigrants.
So how do these people make a living? Do you know how many Chinese Restaurants there are scattered across North America? Or now many Indian motels there are? Each of these represents a Chinese or Indian family moving to 40 miles up the road and running a business, living very frugally and building equity for further investment and retirement. They are doing it all over the world. Indians do it with more kinds of businesses, they own the 7-11, the liquor store, … near the initial low-end motel, then often the mid-level motels and so on in their expanding interests as more family members arrive.
So on the one hand, we have jobs that can be filled by people at labor rates native citizens do not care to match. We can allow those laborers to come into the country legally. When we do, they take over low end jobs and businesses. Serious people who integrate into the community and ultimately enrich it economically and culturally, the precise way all civilizations have been constructed. Clusters of cultural, economic, technical, business currents in individual people and their migrating families.
Oh the other hand, when we do not allow people to apply for work legally, they do so illegally, the same as all over the world. And the risks they are willing to take are proportional to their distress at home. If you are starving and your family is starving, you will attempt to cross the sea in cloth boats or deserts carrying milk bottles of water.
Same with the Mexicans. Just like all the others, they do work at labor rates our citizens are not willing to match, and are forced to do so by the crushing poverty and violence of their home countries, which poverty and violence various policies of the US of A have had a lot to do with fostering, at least. It has been the same in Europe for many 1000s of years, Europe is the story of large tribal migrations, often war-like with massacres.**
Again, this still seems to me to be a solid interpretation of a social and economic chain of causation, not at all out of a main factual line of thought and interpretation, neutrally stated. I am not pointing fingers here at culprits, what is done is done, this is discussion and analysis of the actual state of things, not moralizing nor legalizing. And I am not excusing anyone for anything, just saying that since every kind of people has done those kind of things under those circumstances, you would too, and would be proud that you did it, a good man doing what was required to support his family.
From an engineering perspective, I ask “What did we expect?” We adopted certain values, the world changed as so many predicted it would.
A conservative mind should hate all of that. We don’t have people who are willing to work in the fields, or stand down by Lowe’s to become day labor? Why is that? Whose values are those? Not yours? Would laboring in the fields be acceptable to the children in your life as a stage in theirs? What values are you putting into your children, that they would look down on honest labor? If your kids don’t think that kind of work is acceptable, whose kids should think it is acceptable? What is their incentive? It is OK to send your kid off to the military, but not into the fields to work?
So it is pretty clear that all these new people have been pulled here by a flow of value to be added by their labor. We left those value-spaces open by changing our cultural values, by our welfare system, by the gradual shift of everything that is inevitable, another measure of time.
Again, we created our immigrants, legal and illegal,by valuing the things that produced their livelihoods. We like cheap motels on side streets off major highways. Nearly everyone likes Chinese and Mexican food. We like the plentiful and excellent food in our stores, much of it grown, harvested and handed by immigrant labor. We like the cheap and plentiful meats. This is not new. Before them it was Italian, Polish, Germany, Korean, Japanese, Chinese. Restaurants by brides from America’s military adventures dot our country. When we stop liking things like that, the need for immigrants will decline. So long as we are wealthy enough to afford and continue to like the many human values our immigrants provide to us, our need for foreign labor will increase.
So they come here and work cheap. That will not change, whatever the laws and whatever the rhetoric. The immigrants and local labor markets worked, immigrants are integrated into the US economy all across the country. Immigrants have allowed us to escape our own laws, in many cases. Our system is tuned to this exact state of affairs, and changing it will require changing large flows of money. Those are the kind of money that goes into political campaigns, and loudly create laws to direct your tax money into border patrols just good enough to do no real good. Given desperation, gps-clever coyotes and increment in deaths in the desert caused by new routes, things will continue as they are. The political system has no intention of or capability to send immigrants home using force. You will only waste your time focusing on immigration politics, that issue has been decided.
The immigrants are not going home. Most are already home, our economy has found uses for them, they are part of our economy. There are many businesses that would close if many migrants were sent home. The weaker the economy, the more the risk of cascades of problems and failure. The main argument ‘they are taking our jobs’ fails when ‘they’ are fully integrated into the economy and your jobs depend on each other.
I recommend adjusting. Positive-sum is the optimum strategy, conservatively speaking, and would be the correct choice even we had one to make. This will make us much wealthier and better governed, if we handle it right. We can use all those people to take this country back, because they want what we want, family, freedom and prosperity. So lets get that for them, they are willing to work!
How? Exploit the cheap resource! Everyone is using day laborers for everything. They are the Uber of our era. People are cheap compared to robots, let’s make use of them.
Time to go back to homesteading kind of thinking, turning labor into wealth. Families helping the newcomers, welcoming them into the communities and into the economy by finding jobs for them to do.
What choice do you have? Just like with our children, just like with our families and communities, we have control of the foreigners in our midst to the exact extent that we engage with them. How do we want these new members of our community to think? On what terms do we want them to join our culture?
I suggest that, so long as we all strive to be very honest, we can provide ways of making ourselves useful to each other. We all, each variety of citizen, native and immigrant, legal and not, have uses for each other. Finding and balancing all of the opportunities and costs is a positive sum game, the very best strategy. It is a game that can make us all much wealthier, at the historical risk we will all become better people.
Let me rule out negative-sum solutions***. Those would be all of the solutions that would leave both sides with the incentives to re-unite, which of course any solution proposing to use force would guarantee. I think accumulated wisdom says don’t use force, it has too many side-effects and doesn’t usually solve the problem, in fact normally compounds it. So no force, which really limits what we think we can do, what we actually can do is far less, nobody ever wants to discuss that. You can see why limited imaginations of politicians have not been able to solve the problem?
So I suggest that winning this culture war requires action, that we view our many immigrants in all of their various legal shades as free resources with which we can take back the important parts of our culture. The part that values honesty, hard work, taking risks to pursue a better life, saving for your retirement.
The very best question to proceed is : How can I add value to that cheap resource? Economic value for our joint good and cultural value for the same? We win our cultural battles with the futures we provide people. If we want people to come in the direction of our culture, we must provide them a path to a better future using that culture. Or at least as much of it as we can convince them they need. And it gets mutated and changed and improved and done to a different aesthetic with every generation, but we modern humans have been fairly happy with the positive aspects of our multi-cultural experiences over the centuries. Certainly everyone of us is a deep mixture of races and our modern cultures fail because modern, not that they are so fundamentally different, better or worse.
For every YCombinator in the country helping perfect business plans for technology ventures, there should be a hundred equivalents for thinking about local problems and how to build value using local resources in good supply, eg. immigrants? If they help an older couple take on a farm the couple could not have managed themselves and a wage that maximizes their savings, they all added value to our economy. I bet there are a lot of couples in the world who have the capital to get a 40 acre specialty farm going, but can’t face the amount of labor over the first few years. But we have these cheap laboring resources that could fix that business plan, and rural American could be rejuvenated. If they allow a startup that cannot be shown to be economic without trials to start up with less capital, who can argue with success in our economy on our terms, mostly. If they do housekeeping and put 4 of their kids through medical school, we cannot argue with their success in our economy. If they give even a small value to the heirs of an old motel in the middle of nowhere, America, they have added value to our economy. Those cheap motels are good for me and mine, our economy functions better with a full range of prices. That full range of labor prices is a big part of what our liberals have chopped off, and what ails our economy.
And part of the reason, I remind you, that the economy went away was that we stopped valuing the people who do our nation’s labor and stopped influencing them. We lost some good parts of that culture, then lost the votes to the socialists, followed by the intelligencia, the schools and colleges and professional class. Few of the people in our upper-class are grounded in physical reality. Our leaders are hopeless, ditto the minions.
OK, in history, immigrants are often the catalysts, the tools for a reformation. They are our weapon. Absorb the best of them. Marry them, guide your joint offspring with them rapidly into positions of power without the necessity of being contaminated by our corrupted elites.
It isn’t the migrants, it is the liberals, and we are in a contest with the liberal side of the house. So seize the day, and move migrants into our culture. Our culture is hard work, smart people, big families, warm honest people in caring communities. Hopefully, our joint culture’s resistance to parasitic thoughts will be better than our own, and our intelligentsia won’t infect our offspring with a disdain for hard work and frugal living. You improve your culture’s resistance by turning off your TV.
If your culture is to win, it must begin drawing immigrant communities into it. Making service to a community is what buys political allegiance to people and their ideas. It is what Hamas and Fatah both did, it is what every religion has done when it was expanding, it is what Mormons do and evangelicals try to do. And some ministers will modify their message to appeal to the newcomers, eventually. If you do nothing, the government does all that, and the big-Government message wins by default. The message that has produced our inner cities, which we also need to begin taking back. Same thinking, you must engage other minds to plant your seeds within them. And, social conservatives? You know, some of these people have been through some horrific times. Use the right words on them, you may find them powerfully conservative.
What have you done to help draw them into our superior culture? Have you stopped to help someone by the side of the road, went a bit out of your way to help them along their way? If not, you didn’t change anything except what they think of us native Americans.
Our immigrants will rejuvenate our country also, if we expose ourselves to the risk. There are indeed costs to exploring the optimal futures, just like it cost more for those migrants to transit to the best economies. They thought the risks worth it, as did all of our ancestors, so it seems OK to me. Do hold back and wait for public approval, my grandchildren will also have first-pick in their generation also, make a better deal in the race-sweepstakes.
All the evidence is, mixing genes is good for everybody. Inlaws are a pain whatever their background.
Human as a species and human as a (striving for and sometimes achieving new personal bests in all the dimensions of a civilized man) both advance by combining our best with the newcomers. Mixing genes and cultures is a proven route to success for individuals and civilizations, every tribe and clan and nation resulted from exactly that process, repeatedly.
It is up to you, choose to be ancestors of the next generations of Americans or don’t. Do so with a new strong geneline and culture and you become part of the new cultural flow and part of its guidance into your American values as your new people live up to your standards.
Peace, Freedom, Armed Preparedness, honest friends improving each other’s lives. Become a homesteader on our new cultural and economic frontiers. Help guide America to a greater civilization.
*I like our global civilization and the many goods it has produced, e.g. the best medicine, ever and for ordinary people. Hell of an achievement, hope it isn’t connected to all of our other problems.
**OTOH, British archaeologists are finding that the Saxon invasion was not a physical invasion, few Saxons are found in graves as judged by isotope and other analyses. The ‘Saxon’ part of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ is apparently a cultural and trade invasion, and I bet genetic evidence will be found supporting that : there are no examples of peoples in economic exchanges who did not mingle genetics. Many of the pre-Roman ‘invasions’ were pushed from the east, the evil foreign influence of their time.
So anti-fragile by Taleb.
*** By this time in history, you can’t possibly believe a negative sum game can work, can you? In any case, none will be proposed here. I only play positive-sum games on this site, and hold myself to that high standard in analyses and understandings. This is not idealism. This is optimization of our futures. Our progeny thrive most when we best play positive-sum games of civilization. Not idealism, but an ideal to be striven for in our individual lives.
My experience is that immigrants are fun people, when they can afford it, otherwise real serious about their priorities.
Later, I find this. Like I said, integrated into the economy. In judging links, be aware how easy it is for anyone to find other sources that agree with them.