advice from a fake consultant

out-of-the-box thinking about economics, politics, and more... 

Saturday, June 16, 2007

On Nothing In Particular, Or, A Few Words About Everything

I have been mulling over several thoughts recently, none of which seem to individually offer a complete day’s work, and I ask the reader’s indulgence as I attempt to stitch some of these disconnected concepts into a larger, and hopefully more interesting, quilt.

Let’s start with immigration:

The “immigration debate” seems to be a story of Mexican migration, and the entire focus of the current discussion is how to control the Mexican border.

But that really misses what immigration is all about in this country.

Here’s the numbers: the Pew Hispanic Center tells us that about 1/3 of immigrants come from Asia, another 1/3 from Latin America, and the final 1/3 from the rest of the world.

Of the 1/3 of immigrants from Latin America, about 60% of those are Mexican.

What do these numbers tell us?
Two things:

--A “perfect fence”, if such a thing could be created, would only prevent a subset of illegal immigration.

--If you really want to control illegal immigration, build walls around airports. That’s where the immigrants actually come from.

Speaking of walls…

…how does building a giant fence on the Mexican border keep out “terrorists’?

Ignoring the fact that Timothy McVeigh didn’t need to scale any walls, I will tell you here today that the “Jalisco Wall” will never prevent more than one terrorist from entering the country.

Do you know why?

Because that terrorist will come back and say: “They have a wall at the Mexican border now…” to which the “terror manager” will reply: “Hey, look at this map! Why don’t you just cross the Canadian border? They don’t have a fence...”

And that will be the end of that.

By the way, here’s an immigration hypothetical for you:

If Canadians were predominantly non-white (or even worse, French…), what do you suppose the odds are we’d be talking about securing two borders today, instead of just one? Think about that the next time the conversation comes up.

What about that whole “immigrants and jobs” thing?

I would encourage everyone who has not seen “Roger and Me” (Michael Moore’s story of how GM “dejobbed” Flint, Michigan in the early 1980’s) to see the film, and see what happened to that city. That process, repeated a thousand times over, is why we have so few manufacturing jobs in this country.

Did Mexicans crossing over the border in the dead of night cause that?
My guess is that answer will be no.

When considering the impact of immigration, ask yourself these questions:

--Did textile mills close in the South because of Mexican immigrants?
--Did the shoe industry leave New England because of immigrants?
--Would US Steel and Bethlehem Steel still be names we recognize if it wasn’t for those pesky immigrants?
--Are the immigrants forcing the auto industry into its current troubles?

The jobs lost because of those actions didn’t go to illegal immigrants, they went to other countries.

What’s the lesson?

Even if you could monitor every person on the planet, and you could somehow keep out the “undesirables” with prefect success, it still wouldn’t fix a single one of the problems we discussed above. Money can travel to the cheapest workers these days, and a border fence (or two) isn’t much of a barrier to a multinational corporation.

Next topic:

“Can Obama possibly have the experience needed to be President?”

How often has that question come up?
“How many grains of sand are there on the beach? “ is the Zen answer.

Here’s the response.

An actor, a haberdasher, and a former Air National Guard pilot all had the skills required (in varying degrees…)-why not a sitting Senator?

Next time this issue comes up, try the “Prime Minister’s Questions” test.
It’s simple: ever seen Mr. Blair answer those questions every week in the House of Commons? It’s a bit rough-and-tumble, and the Prime Minister is expected to have some ability to provide reasonable answers-or be shouted down in the process. Now try to picture the current crop of Presidential contenders answering “Prime Minister’s Questions” week after week, with no teleprompter in the room.

This test will quickly shorten the candidate list-but it won’t eliminate Obama.

Moving on:

Have you ever seen anybody who needs a hug more than Tucker Carlson?

I watch him yap-yap-yapping away and it just makes me feel…sad.

Somebody take him on a roller coaster or something-and soon.
The poor man needs it.

One more “vent” and I’ll call it a day:

Since ’06, as a community, we have petitioned our Government for the redress of our Grievances, if you will, on issues that are truly matters of life and death, and the responses have ranged from disappointing to maddening-and beyond.

We are in a difficult position here-even those we consider our friends are moving more slowly than we want. We cannot allow ourselves to be placated, but we have to be pragmatic as well.

I have no solution for this problem, only perspective, and a piece of advice:

When you find yourself on the verge of giving up altogether, take a step back and consider where this debate was 18 months ago-and how far we have already pushed the envelope. We are getting there, far too slowly, but we are getting there.

It is we who control the debate now.
To paraphrase a line from Walt Kelly, “we have met the majority, and it is us”.
There will be efforts to alter the terms of the discussion, and there will be diversions along the way; but we can end this war, and we can change how we deal with heath care, and we can still have a planet that resembles the one we were born on, if we just remember that we’re winning here, not them.

And with that off my chest, perhaps we can fold up the allegorical quilt until the weather turns again, and enjoy a bit of summer.


Ian Appleby said...

You're right about immigration, of course, but it's much easier to blame poor immigrants from "other" places than it is to try and understand how the "wealth-creating" corporations exploit globalised trading arrangements.

As for Blair's performances at Question Time, I'm sure you're aware he has a team of advisors who anticipate each likely question, and write him a ready-made answer. Are you really saying that many US politicians wouldn't even be able to perform well in that situation?

fake consultant said...

couple comments...

...i crosspost these stories, and there is a discussion on the site that addresses the point you make about transfer of dollars, and companies being able to move jobs far more easily than immigrants can move here to take jobs.

as for answering questions, i offer mr. bush as an example of the difficulties we see in our leaders-even in the most simple of situations.

i would present tancredo and the ex-virginia governor running for the rs (whose name escapes me at the moment) as two who have similar problems.