My View On The Immigration Bill

Sometimes the world is better off when malformed product of an unwise mating dies in utero. We probably can go on living as a country for the two years it will take for Dems to have almost total control over the legislative process, then Dems can craft a bill that at least has a coherent point to it. Maybe the crazy insane bill that nativists warn about will wreck the country, if so Dems will pay for it in the next election. In the meantime, given politicial and demographic trends, it would have made good sense for Republicans to settle for whatever compromises they could negotiate while they still had any influence at all.

Wonkery aside, the delicious politics of this bill strike me more than anything else. Like most people who support the Democrats I don’t have much passion one way or the other. Having to speak Spanish to get a decent wet burrito doesn’t bother me, I like cinco de Mayo and it strikes me as vaguely fair that our policy should help families stay together. America survived the Irish invasion, the Italian invasion, the Nordic/Germanic invasion, the slavic invasion, the (involuntary) African invasion and the Chinese invasion so it seems ludicrously insecure to think that one more will kill us. Whichever way they went on the issue the worst heat most Democrats are likely to face will come from David Broder.

But lord, what a tough spot for Republicans. At its heart the GOP has two basic camps* – business conservatives who bankroll the party and the social conservatives/theocons who staff it. In that light one could say the towering achievement of Bush’s term as POTUS was that he defied the centrifugal forces of majority power and held the GOP’s unlikely coalition together as firmly and as long as he did. If so, his towering failure will undoubtedly be his adamant support of this immigration bill.

I have tried for days to think of something that could wedge the social cons apart from the business cons than immigration but I just can’t do it. The Chamber of Commerce loves our current system because one can pay illegals practically nothing and they will thank you for it. In their view any fix to the current system has to keep bringing in large numbers of people with poor language skills (can’t have them reading those OSHA flyers on the wall) and a weak bargaining position, e.g. guest workers. Otherwise Americans had better get ready to start paying more for hotel beds, restaurant meals and packed meats.

The key problem is that the thing that the business cons need more than anything is exactly what the social cons desperately want to end. This issue has no conceivable middle ground because the social cons want less of precisely the same thing that business cons need more of. The historical calm between these two camps lasted and could only last as long as party leaders had the good sense to keep the issue off the front burner altogether. Any move to change the status quo would necessarily set off contrary demands that could easily spiral into open warfare.

Pushing immigration now was a dumb move by Bush, but it was far dumber than I think most people realize. Hilzoy has argued that the immigration is really a convenient outlet for Republicans to vent their deeper disappointment over issues J through Z, and I’m sure that there is plenty of that, but I think that the president’s screwup is more profound than Hilzoy lets on. The president’s party is reeling from Iraq, rudderless and lacking in leadership at any level, facing political losses as bad or worse than 2006, and now his own mulish push on immigration has lit the fuse on a wedge-shaped charge** that could split the party in two.

***

(*) There are two kind of people in the world, those who see two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t.
(**) Alternatively, a Malkin-shaped charge.






88 replies
  1. 1
    Punchy says:

    Sometimes the world is better off when malformed product of an unwise mating dies in utero

    Tim, I bow to thee. I thought my shit was funny sometimes. This may beat everything you’ve ever penned.

    Just make sure you italicize the “in” part, too, Bill Nye.

  2. 2
    orogeny says:

    So, where are the politicians who have some guts…who are willing to say that there is one simple solution to the issue? I don’t expect it from the Repubs, but where are the Democrats on this issue?

    As long as we have “Help Wanted, No Questions Asked” signs hung all along the border, people seeking an opportunity to better themselves will come across the border, no matter what it takes. My brother-in-law is in the construction business here in Alabama and he says that virtually everyone in the business knowingly employs illegals. yet, nothing is done about it. Every once in a while INS stages a raid and makes a big show of deporting a few illegals, but noting is done to the employer.

    If we threw a few business owners in jail for employing illegals, and made as big a production out of that as we do when we deport a few illegals, in a very short time the jobs would dry up and the flood of illegal immigrants would slow down to a trickle.

  3. 3
    canuckistani says:

    I thought the two kinds of people were people who could extrapolate from incomplete data.

    It’s funny to think there were anti-German and Irish immigrant riots in the 19th century; no one could be whiter, and many of their descendants are probably the ones pissing themselves at the notion of Hispanics flooding America.

  4. 4
    The Other Steve says:

    Wow, that hilzoy piece was very insightful, and I think spot on.

    This is about the general feeling that this country is headed in the wrong direction. Nobody seems to have a clear idea what direction it is headed in, but this gave the conservatives an outlet to rail about it.

  5. 5
    Kirk Spencer says:

    Orogeny, that’s one solution. I’ve got another one…

    Make immigration easier. As in something along these lines…

    You want to be an American? Great, who doesn’t? Here’s the deal.

    Come to the border or an embassy and apply. We run a first check – fingerprints and ID – to see if you’re a member of certain organizations, or if you’ve been charged and/or convicted of crimes that are felonies in the United States. If these apply to you, you’re going to have to apply for a waiver and wait a while to see if it’s approved – and there may be more steps. If, however, you’re just a decent human being that wants to be an American, you’re going to be allowed entry in about a month.

    After you’re in, you have a seven year probation. If you get convicted of a felony or some misdemeanors, you’re out. If you fail to pay taxes, you’re out. Starting your second year in-country you’re going to have a special fee – a percentage of your income with a minimum regardless of income – that you’re required to pay, and if you don’t, you’re out. Oh – we’ll also be doing a deeper investigation to ensure you didn’t lie on the “no crimes, no organizations” bar, and if it turns out you did lie you’re out.

    During your probation period you cannot vote and you cannot hold an elected office in any level of government. Other than this and the deportation risks above, you have every right and responsibility a citizen holds.

    At the end of seven years you will have the opportunity to become a citizen. By your ninth year you must have become a citizen or leave the country.

    That’s the gist. Let them in, and let them build and contribute openly.

    Now, the hard part is the temporary work (and school) option. The ones who come here to work but are planning to take their accumulated wealth and experience with them when they leave. I suspect that opening immigration will reduce the numbers who apply for that, but know it won’t eliminate it.

  6. 6
    John Cole says:

    There are two kind of people in the world, those who see two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t.

    There are 10 types of people in this world. Those who understand binary, those who do not.

  7. 7
    craigie says:

    that could split the party in two.

    Here’s hoping.

  8. 8
    orogeny says:

    Kirk,

    For me that’s not a solution. At some point America needs to realize that population control is necessary…not because we’re going to all starve because there’s not enough food, but because our quality of life is rapidly declining as a result of overpopulation. Before you start yelling “racist”, let me say that his has nothing to do with “brown people” or “America losing its WASP identity”. In addition to curtailing illegal immigration, I’m in favor of limiting legal immigration across the board along with encouraging smaller families for existing American citizens.

    While there were certainly cultural problems – racism, sexism, etc. – America was at its best as far as quality of life back in the 50s when the population was around 150 million. Now, at 250+ million, quality of life is getting worse every day.

    So, IMHO, just opening the borders to unlimited immigration would be a mistake.

  9. 9
    orogeny says:

    Kirk,
    I should have said “Before someone starts yelling ‘racist’…I didn’t intend to imply that you would do that.

  10. 10
    orogeny says:

    Kirk,
    I should have said “Before someone starts yelling ‘racist'”…I didn’t intend to imply that you would do that.

  11. 11
    Kirk Spencer says:

    Orogeny – how, exactly, does the quality of life degrade if we increase the population with contributing citizens?

  12. 12

    orogeny Says:

    Kirk,

    For me that’s not a solution. At some point America needs to realize that population control is necessary…not because we’re going to all starve because there’s not enough food, but because our quality of life is rapidly declining as a result of overpopulation. Before you start yelling “racist”, let me say that his has nothing to do with “brown people” or “America losing its WASP identity”. In addition to curtailing illegal immigration, I’m in favor of limiting legal immigration across the board along with encouraging smaller families for existing American citizens.

    While there were certainly cultural problems – racism, sexism, etc. – America was at its best as far as quality of life back in the 50s when the population was around 150 million. Now, at 250+ million, quality of life is getting worse every day.

    So, IMHO, just opening the borders to unlimited immigration would be a mistake.

    June 29th, 2007 at 10:20 am

    Wtf? Where do you live? I live in Chicago, which has one of the largest immigrant populations in the nation and, if anything, the city is getting BETTER and MORE LIVEABLE everyday.

    I love it when bigots tell us that they’re not really bigots, they just hate people who are “different”. (or whatever bullshit they want us to buy)

  13. 13
    orogeny says:

    Increasing population at this point means: longer lines, increasing impersonalization in everything from our interactions with businesses to educating our children, increased crime, increased use and depletion of our natural resources, overcrowding at everything from national parks to the local museum, increased pollution, and so on, ad infinitum.

    There are those who look at population strictly as an economic issue…the Ben Wattenburg types. They say that population has to increase so that the economy can continue to grow. I disagree strongly with this.

  14. 14
    BFR says:

    America was at its best as far as quality of life back in the 50s when the population was around 150 million. Now, at 250+ million, quality of life is getting worse every day.

    I personally, would likely have been dead or blind by now had I been born 50 years earlier but am a living, productive member of society now thanks to medical advances. I also enjoy such things as HD TVs, cars that don’t repeatedly break down and can afford to take vacations that my granparents never would have dreamed of.

    I don’t think you’re racist by saying that – I just got a visual of Abe Simpson ranting away at how the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

  15. 15
    orogeny says:

    Fuck you, Rusty.

    You don’t know anything at all about me, but you’re willing to call me a bigot.

    My position on immigration has absolutely nothing to do with people who are “different.” I have had the same position on population, family size and immigration for the last 20 years or so. It was formed while living in Central Florida and seeing the effects of the influx of mostly white people into that area when Disney opened. The quality of life in that area sucks now compared to what it was back in the 60s.

  16. 16
    orogeny says:

    BFR:

    I was speaking only about population size. Are you really stupid enough to think that if America’s population had remained in the are of 150 million or so, all technological advancement would have been frozen? We’d still have HD-TVs, the medial advances would have still taken place, you’d still be able to buy a new I-Phone. We’d just be using 30% or so less of our natural resources among other things.

  17. 17
    stickler says:

    Canuckistani:

    …it’s funny to think there were anti-German and Irish immigrant riots in the 19th century; no one could be whiter, and many of their descendants are probably the ones pissing themselves at the notion of Hispanics flooding America.

    It’s funnier than that. Most of the German and Irish migrants who arrived in the 1840s faced some serious discrimination. But in many cases it was those very same immigrants (or their children) who were loudly calling for immigration control when the Slavs, Jews, and Italians showed up in the 1880s and 90s. American hypocrisy has been around for a long time, and it’s had a bunch of different accents.

    Maybe that’s how we can tell if you’ve assimilated as a group or not: do you have loudmouths in your group calling for keeping out the (insert ethnic slur here)?

  18. 18
    Punchy says:

    Orogeny – how, exactly, does the quality of life degrade if we increase the population with contributing citizens?

    The oh-so-necessary caveat is “contributing”. Because if they’re not, then more of them is disasterous, especially to the cost of my car insurance and the supply of taco shells.

  19. 19
    BFR says:

    Are you really stupid enough to think that if America’s population had remained in the are of 150 million or so, all technological advancement would have been frozen? We’d still have HD-TVs, the medial advances would have still taken place, you’d still be able to buy a new I-Phone. We’d just be using 30% or so less of our natural resources among other things.

    Huh? Either life was better in the 50s or it’s better now. Which is it? There wasn’t any hypotheticals in your original statement, you clamied that the quality of life was better in the 1950s.

  20. 20

    This post is based on a logical fallacy, that today’s immigration is like that of the past. In fact, it’s quite different, as discussed at the link.

    Bonus question for the poster: list 10 NGOs that have direct or indirect links to the MexicanGovernment.

  21. 21
    orogeny says:

    BFR,

    Quality of life issues that relate to population were better when the population at 1950s levels. It’s not an all or nothing thing. There were aspects of life at that time that have improved via technology, but none of those improvements are in any way the result of increasing population.

    I don’t want to trade my 65″ HDTV for a sustainable use of our natural resources, I want the best of both worlds. I want to have my TV AND I want to stop the depletion of the fish stocks in the oceans. I want modern medicine but I want to be able to call directory assistance without speaking to someone working in a call center 3 states away.

  22. 22
    BFR says:

    I don’t want to trade my 65” HDTV for a sustainable use of our natural resources, I want the best of both worlds. I want to have my TV AND I want to stop the depletion of the fish stocks in the oceans. I want modern medicine but I want to be able to call directory assistance without speaking to someone working in a call center 3 states away.

    I want a new Maserati myself but much like your wants, this has nothing to do with reality. The 50s, as you pointed out were a fairly repressive era in the US, mitigated in your view by a low population. In the current era, we have astounding technological innovation to improve QOL mitigated (again, your belief) by an excessive population. There is no mythical 3rd period where we have the good from both eras without the bad. It’s a silly hypothetical.

  23. 23
    Tsulagi says:

    Sometimes the world is better off when malformed product of an unwise mating dies in utero.

    I’d go with that. But with this bill Republicans were screaming for its abortion; they wanted it dragged out of the Senate chamber womb and killed. Abortionists! Jesus must be weeping.

    I agree with just about all in your post, but this…

    Pushing immigration now was a dumb move by Bush.

    That’s true given Mr. 28%er’s popularity before this bill. But it was required by the guys who write the big checks. Payback. Did you see the list of corporations and organizations lobbying for this bill? There’s a reason why a company like Marriott put up a $1 million for Tard’s second inaugural ball. And the largesse of other companies during this admin. It’s not because they think he looks cute in a flightsuit. Cost/benefit. Way more than any other admin, this one has given a great ROI for donors.

    In this bill they wanted the guest worker provisions. Screw border security, uniting families, or anything else. IIRC, Bush even mentioned in his first SOTU after being reelected he wanted a guest worker program. At that time, not even a peep from the Malkinettes.

    Will say from purely a political POV, Reid played this one pretty well.

  24. 24
    orogeny says:

    BFR,

    Are you being deliberately obtuse?

    I never said that there was a “mythical 3rd period”. I really doubt that we’ll ever be able to reduce our population to anywhere close to 150 million. My point is that uncontrolled population growth results in a decreased quality of life. Do you really think that there should be no upper limit on our population? Do you honestly believe that America with 500 million people would be a better place to live than America with 200 million people?

    Just as you can work hard and perhaps eventually get that Maserati, I believe that it is possible for America work toward getting it’s population under control. If you’re content to live in a world where the oceans stocks of fish are disappearing, where songbirds are in decline, where Yosemite Park is subject to traffic jams that would be more appropriate to a major metropolis, good for you, because thats where we are and it’s just gonna keep getting better for you.

  25. 25
    Eural says:

    American hypocrisy has been around for a long time, and it’s had a bunch of different accents.

    Great analysis by Tim and the quote above has to be the best summary of US history in one sentence I’ve ever read – thanks stickler!

  26. 26
    AnonE.Mouse says:

    No shit the world is better off by the occasional fetal demise,especially when the malformed product grows up to be president.

  27. 27
    Zifnab says:

    Increasing population at this point means: longer lines, increasing impersonalization in everything from our interactions with businesses to educating our children, increased crime, increased use and depletion of our natural resources, overcrowding at everything from national parks to the local museum, increased pollution, and so on, ad infinitum.

    So you’re not really complaining about immigration at all. You’re complaining about population density – i.e. City Life. You also completely neglect the economics of scale. In a town with 50 people, it’s economically disadvantageous to run a school. In a town with 500 people, it’s economically disadvantageous to run a movie theater. In a town of 5000 people, its economically disadvantageous to run a bus system. In a city of 50k, you can’t afford a baseball stadium. With half a million, you still can’t afford a subway. By the time you’re the size of NYC, however, all those luxuries are cheap and affordable. Why? High populations.

    More people with incomes – and immigrants aren’t coming over here to hang out, they’re coming for work – means more business, more economic growth, and the opportunity for broader and better public services.

    So, in short orogeny, you’re totally wrong.

  28. 28
    orogeny says:

    Zifnab,

    You’re right about the immigration issue, my only problem with uncontrolled immigration is its contribution to what I consider to be overpopulation.

    So, in your opinion, there is no point where overpopulation begins to reduce quality of life? As long as there is “more business, more economic growth, and the opportunity for better and broader public services” nothing else matters?

    When the population was 150 million (and I use this number not because I think the 50′ were some sort of utopia, but it’s just a figure that I think represents an optimal population for the United States), there was no shortage of schools, movie theaters, ballparks, and even subways. They just weren’t as crowded.

  29. 29
    BFR says:

    If you’re content to live in a world where the oceans stocks of fish are disappearing, where songbirds are in decline, where Yosemite Park is subject to traffic jams that would be more appropriate to a major metropolis, good for you, because thats where we are and it’s just gonna keep getting better for you.

    As pointed out though, immigration & population control are two distinct issues, unless you only look at it from the point of view of one country. If you care more about population control than immigration, you should be a big immigration proponent as immigrants to the US will arguably have fewer children than they would have had they remained in their native countries. There’s no question that people in industrialized countries have lower birth rates than in less devleoped countries, so the argument isn’t over 250 v. 500 million Americans in the but over 7 billion v. 8 or 10 billion humans in the future.

  30. 30
    jg says:

    It’s funny to think there were anti-German and Irish immigrant riots in the 19th century; no one could be whiter, and many of their descendants are probably the ones pissing themselves at the notion of Hispanics flooding America.

    It wasn’t that long ago that the letters I.N.N.A. were stamped to the bottom of every job posting in Boston.

    Irish Need Not Apply.

  31. 31
    jg says:

    Do you honestly believe that America with 500 million people would be a better place to live than America with 200 million people?

    How many of those Americans are Iraqi-Americans? Are you counting the future conquests of Iran and Syria in your population numbers? If there are 500 million Americans living on our mainland that would be a problem but if they’re mostly overseas in our other territories whats the problem?

  32. 32
    orogeny says:

    BFR,

    I’m sorry, but that’s ridiculous. I think you’re beginning to grasp for straws.

    You’re saying that we should increase our population so that the folks we let in will breed less? There’s no possible way that we and let in enough people to in any way effect the overall population of the world. The only thing we can do is try to be an example to the rest of the world while supporting organizations that provide birth control and education to those third world countries in order to convince them to control their populations as well. Many of the worst offenders, China, India, etc have already begun to work toward stabilizing their populations, the first step in the right direction. Stabilizing, then reducing, world population is the goal, but we have to start at home.

    And starting at home includes limiting the influx of immigrants, whether they’re from Mexico or Sweden.

  33. 33
    Kirk Spencer says:

    Orogeny,

    The lines will get longer? Yep, short-term. And then, as the businesses that the lines feed are able to hire people (out of those newly available), the lines will get shorter again.

    Actually, reading your posts I see the problem. And sad to say you’re going to believe the quality of life has declined almost everywhere because to you, people are the problem. Individually they may be fine, but nothing makes up for “shoulder room”. That’s fine, but most people think having a good hospital and schools with lots of options supplementing the basics makes up for more people nearby.

  34. 34
    orogeny says:

    Sorry…”grasp at straws.”

  35. 35
    orogeny says:

    Kirk,

    You addressed “longer lines”, but what about the rest of my list: “increasing impersonalization in everything from our interactions with businesses to educating our children, increased crime, increased use and depletion of our natural resources, overcrowding at everything from national parks to the local museum, increased pollution, and so on, ad infinitum.”

    And no matter what you say, the lines – whether they’re at the DMV or Disney World – never get shorter.

  36. 36
    Zifnab says:

    So, in your opinion, there is no point where overpopulation begins to reduce quality of life? As long as there is “more business, more economic growth, and the opportunity for better and broader public services” nothing else matters?

    Wyoming. Population 515,000.
    Montana. Population 944,632.
    North Dakota. Population 635,867.

    We have plenty of space.

    That said, yes, there is most-likely a “critical mass” of population density when the standard of living no longer improves. But I haven’t seen us approaching that threshold in any except our largest cities. Houston still has large underdeveloped sections as well as areas that have been abandoned and could be exponentially improved. Cities like Atlanta and Topeka and Gary, Indiana still have a great deal of growth potential.

    And we’ve yet to even scratch the surface of development in West Texas or Nebraska or upstate New York. But India has a quarter of our land area and three times the population, and they haven’t collapsed. On the contrary, the country is in the midst of an industrial revolution fueled by the gradual education of its enormous workforce.

    I think we’ve got a long way to go before America can put out the sign that says we’re “All Full”.

  37. 37
    BFR says:

    Stabilizing, then reducing, world population is the goal, but we have to start at home.

    I simply pointed out that your real beef seems to be not with immigration but with population control, and then pointed out that a natural outcome of that conclusion would be to favor MORE immigration since that will likely result in some small decline in global population.

    Case in point:
    Mexico: 23.15 births/1,000 population
    United States:14.2 births/1,000 population

    So if you actually care about things like declining fish stocks and forests, then you should naturally favor more Mexicans moving to industrialized countries (eg the US) where their assimilation will lower the global birthrate. If not, then you’re a hypocrite.

    If you want to look at China (I’m assuming you mean the 1 child policy) then you have to take the bad with the good. The effects of the 1 child policy are starting to be felt in negative ways – selective abortions are leading to a shortage of women – it’s unclear how this will impack Chinese culture but it’s hard to see how this can be good. Also, the declining birthrates are putting China at risk of developing the same economic problems of the west, where there are fewer and fewer workers to support an increasing class of retirees.

  38. 38
    orogeny says:

    Do you really believe that they only reason we have good hospitals and schools with more options is because we have more people?

  39. 39
    orogeny says:

    Sorry, hit “Submit” too soon.

    Just look at Birmingham, AL, where I live. Birmingham, the most densely populated city in the area has the worst school system while Mountain Brook, and relatively sparsely populated city nearby has the best.

  40. 40
    BFR says:

    And no matter what you say, the lines – whether they’re at the DMV or Disney World – never get shorter.

    The reasons that the lines are getting longer there is because they’re popular venues – more people have the financial wherewhithal to visit Disney World & own cars, thus more people enjoy those services. The connection between long lines and overpopulation is pretty flimsy and the connection between said lines & immigration is even flimsier.

  41. 41
    aliceandbob says:

    Orogeny, keeping immigrants out of the US does absolutely nothing to slow down the consumption of natural resources — the songbirds and the seafood don’t recognize international borders and will be depleted just as rapidly whether Mexicans stay on their side of the border or not. Nor does halting immigration to the US change the fact that the US has the highest birth rates of any developed nation. Take away all immigration and you haven’t even halved our annual population growth.

    Since you’re not a bigot, I’m not sure how you’ve convinced yourself that closing the borders will improve your quality of life, but you’re not talking about population control. You’re talking about isolationism. The two are not interchangeable.

  42. 42
    BFR says:

    Just look at Birmingham, AL, where I live. Birmingham, the most densely populated city in the area has the worst school system while Mountain Brook, and relatively sparsely populated city nearby has the best.

    Correlation not causation. You think money might have something to do with it too?

    Mountain Brook:
    “The median income for a household in the city was $100,483, and the median income for a family was $156,647. Males had a median income of $100,000 versus $39,770 for females. The per capita income for the city was $59,085. 0% of the population is below the poverty line. The home ownership rate (owner-occupied housing units to total units) is 87.2%.”

    Birmingham:
    “The median income for a household in the city was $26,735, and the median income for a family was $31,851. Males had a median income of $28,184 versus $23,641 for females. The city’s per capita income is $15,663. About 20.9% of families and 24.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 35.4% of those under age 18 and 18.5% of those age 65 or over.”

  43. 43
    Zifnab says:

    Do you really believe that they only reason we have good hospitals and schools with more options is because we have more people?

    I believe that supply and demand are correlated. And I can tell you that two of the biggest, most advanced hospital districts in the world just happen to be located in two of America’s biggest cities – Houston and Chicago.

    Likewise, I know that local high schools have been trying to condense student populations around here for some time. Turning the dozen or so 1000+ student schools into four or five mega-high schools with student populations in the 3000s. Why? Economics of scale.

  44. 44
    orogeny says:

    aliceandbob,

    As I have said before, controlling immigration is only one small aspect of reducing overpopulation. I understand that world overpopulation is the final issue and must be addressed, but we’ve got to start somewhere. If 1 million people a year enter the US(legally and illegally), that’s 1 million more people here who have children and increase the population.

    The US is the world’s biggest per-capita consumer. Reducing the number of people here has significantly greater effect on reducing overall consumption of natural resources than would a similar reduction in the number of poor peasants in some third-world country.

  45. 45
    Punchy says:

    I don’t want to trade my 65” HDTV for a sustainable use of our natural resources, I want the best of both worlds. I want to have my TV AND I want to stop the depletion of the fish stocks in the oceans. I want modern medicine but I want to be able to call directory assistance without speaking to someone working in a call center 3 states away.

    Those Dirty Mexicans just fucking buy all the god damn TVs….damn you, Univision!

  46. 46
    orogeny says:

    BFR,

    You’re exactly right! Population density has nothing at all to do with things like quality schools. In fact, there is a negative correlation because those with money who are looking for improved quality of life move out of those densely populated areas, leaving only those who don’t have the resources to escape.

    Thanks for making my point.

  47. 47
    aliceandbob says:

    Reducing the number of people here has significantly greater effect on reducing overall consumption of natural resources

    You’re not thinking this through logically. By limiting immigration you’re reducing our population by increasing the population elsewhere. You’re not removing any people, you’re just putting them somewhere else. They’re still going to eat, drink, breathe and take up space. You haven’t affected natural resource consumption at all; you’ve just moved it somewhere that you don’t have to look at it.

    Population control requires fewer people. Your solution just moves them around.

  48. 48
    Punchy says:

    Cities like Atlanta and Topeka and Gary, Indiana still have a great deal of growth potential.

    You owe me a new keyboard, damn you. Just covered mine in Coke….

  49. 49
    orogeny says:

    aliceandbob,

    What part of “only one small aspect of reducing overpopulation” didn’t I make clear?

    There are two issues here, 1)world overpopulation leading to overuse of natural resources and 2)US overpopulation leading to a decline in the general quality of life.

    Addressing issue #1 will eventually require reduction of population in other countries than the US. Issue #2 (for a US resident) only requires reduction of population in the US. However, addressing issue #2 has an impact on #1 because any reduction of US population has a significant effect on overall use of natural resources since Americans are such resource hogs. Immigrants to the US, whether they are from Mexico or Ireland, quickly learn to be US-style consumers.

  50. 50
    grumpy realist says:

    orogeny–suggest you go visit places like Tokyo and Hong Kong first before yelling about too many people.

    I *like* Tokyo. I like the fact that no matter what I want, I’m going to find a store devoted to it. I like the fact that we have tons and tons of restaurants, bars, parks, temples, glass-walled banks, and little yakitori places stashed under the train tracks. I love the fact it is so relentlessly urban–I can still jump on a train and within 1 hour be hiking mountain trails on Mt. Takao.

    Tokyo-Yokohama has over 20 million people stashed into something smaller than the size of Rhode Island. Think about it.

    What we really need to do is get rid of our silly car culture and thinking about other ways of getting around when we’re living in cities. I’m in Chicago and there are a heck of a lot of areas that are decidedly pedestrian unfriendly.

  51. 51
    aliceandbob says:

    Oregeny,

    You seem to be under the impression that repeating yourself over and over again is the same as actually addressing the concerns raised by the people you disagree with. I can only conclude that you’re either a politician or a product of the Birmingham school district yourself.

  52. 52
    orogeny says:

    Grumpy,

    In a USA with a population of 150 million, there would still be large cities for those who want to live in that kind of environment. Do you think New York in the 50’s was a little village?

    The problem is that folks like you wont be happy till all of us have to live that way.

  53. 53
    orogeny says:

    Sorry, aliceandbob, I bow to your obviously superior intellect.

    Explain to me what I did not address in replying to your comment and I’ll be glad to do so.

  54. 54
    BFR says:

    those with money who are looking for improved quality of life move out of those densely populated areas

    Again, you’re misunderstanding correlation and causation. If you were correct, then we’d expect large cities to see a decrease in population during boom times, right? Look at the population of some high-density/tech-friendly centers where the economy boomed in the 90s:

    Seattle:
    1990 516,259
    2000 563,374

    Boston:
    1990 574,283
    2000 589,141

    New York:
    1990 7,322,564
    2000 8,008,278

    I’m sure I could find more but you get the point. During good economic times, the populations of these urban areas increased. Debatable whether or not they were coming because they liked city amenities (some probably hate overcrowding) but they came anyways.

  55. 55
    The Other Steve says:

    I for one am encouraging more Indian immigration. The Indian food around this town is not so good compared to London.

    I find that people adapt. I used to live out in the far suburbs, but recently moved in closer to work. Now I drive substantially less. I’m looking for ways of getting rid of using the car. I just find it big and bulky. So I walk a lot.

    I just got a motorcycle permit, and am going to take the test next week in hopes of buying a scooter so I can commute to work.(have to have license for anything over 50cc sigh…)

    Frankly, I’d love it if we had a train system so I didn’t have to drive at all. I swear half the land mass we have in the city is covered with asphalt. Think about how much green open spaces we could have if we reduced the number of cars.

  56. 56
    The Other Steve says:

    In a USA with a population of 150 million, there would still be large cities for those who want to live in that kind of environment. Do you think New York in the 50’s was a little village?

    The problem is that folks like you wont be happy till all of us have to live that way.

    Huh? America has plenty of places where you can live where you can be far away from everything. Look into moving to Montana. I think the Unabomber shack is for rent.

    What I don’t like is when our govt policies allow you only to live in a spawl like condition. Because people are afraid to support the development of trains, for fear that it’ll eat into funding for a new six lane highway to bumbfuck nowhere. Some of us don’t want to commute two hours a day. We want to spend our time not working, oh I don’t know… actually having fun.

  57. 57
    The Other Steve says:

    I’m in Chicago and there are a heck of a lot of areas that are decidedly pedestrian unfriendly.

    1950s style construction. Everybody is going to drive cars, so we don’t need sidewalks.

    I was walking over to the DMV yesterday to pick up the manual for motorcycle permit. I noticed that the door to the building was on the backside by the parking lot, not on the front near the sidewalk.

    Why? Because that’s how we live today… for a while they used to put doors on both sides, but then nobody ever used the front door so they decided to stop wasting their time.

  58. 58
    orogeny says:

    Ya’ll have convinced me. There are only two choices. Either we live in a city like new York or Tokyo, or we live in a one room shack in Montana. You either love the crowds or you’re the Unibomber.

    The US will be a much nicer place to live when the population reaches a billion or so, ’cause we’ll have lots of movie theaters and wonderful hospitals. Our kids will be much better off in consolidated schools where there are 10,000 kids and the teachers don’t even know their names.

    I can’t wait!

    Gotta go now…it’s been real.

  59. 59
    Zifnab says:

    *rolls eyes*
    Yeah, uh… cool. Later.

  60. 60
    Punchy says:

    I just got a motorcycle permit

    I’m guessing that you were forced to trade in your marriage cert for this permit, right?

  61. 61
    Andrew says:

    I want to have The Wire: Season Two‘s babies.

  62. 62
    Kirk Spencer says:

    Nice sarcasm, Orogeny. Now let me pick on the school issue alone as an example of what I mean.

    Every high school – even one with as few as 50 students – is going to manage state requirements. That means basic english/literature, math (basic, algebra, algebra II, geometry and trig), an overview and at least one specific ‘basic’ science (ie, one ‘general’ and one of chemistry or biology or physics – most will manage at least two), and a short handful of electives which will include one or two foreign languages – Spanish and either German or French. But a larger high school will have enough students willing to take it to justify classes in, well, Japanese or Chinese or Arabic. And Calculus. And Geography and Astronomy. And so on and so forth. Do they NEED those classes? No. But if they don’t have them then the kids who are able to take them are forced to go at the pace of those slower.

    BTW – your projecting. “The problem is that folks like you wont be happy till all of us have to live that way.” er, no. We’re happy letting you live in the out-of-the way areas. But we want to have a bunch of choices – our quality of life is not solely based on an inverse relationship to population density. You, however, want us to maintain your quality of life standard. You want us all to live your way. You said so – we have to reduce our population in both the US and the world. Tough.

  63. 63
    Andrew says:

    While there were certainly cultural problems – racism, sexism, etc. – America was at its best as far as quality of life back in the 50s when the population was around 150 million. Now, at 250+ million, quality of life is getting worse every day.

    I’m just going to go ahead and call Orogeny racist.

    Anyone who pines for the good old days of the 1950’s probably isn’t down with OPP.

  64. 64
    The Other Steve says:

    I’m guessing that you were forced to trade in your marriage cert for this permit, right?

    Naw. My girlfriend(wannabe fiance) says I’m already too careful.

    I’m thinking about buying a motor scooter. Specifically a Kymco People 250. It’s a 250cc engine, manages maybe 70mph tops, but get’s around 70-80 mpg. I’m just looking for something to commute to work in the summer.

    Even though I’ll probably never get up above 50 mph with the thing, you’ll likely see me riding with a full helmet, and kevlar jacket and pants.

    Before I go out buying a touring bike, I’ll get a Mazda Miata. If I want to go long distance with the wind in my hair, I’ll take the roadster.

  65. 65
    Punchy says:

    I want to have The Wire: Season Two’s babies

    The Wire sucks.

    As for this:

    I’m just going to go ahead and call Orogeny racist.

    Anyone who pines for the good old days of the 1950’s probably isn’t down with OPP.

    You disingenuous jackass. That’s NOT what s/he’s trying to imply. Just cuz someone pines for the relative un-suburbia and its requisite sprawl doesn’t mean they want lynching and two sets of drinking fountains. Damn….

  66. 66
    The Other Steve says:

    Ya’ll have convinced me. There are only two choices. Either we live in a city like new York or Tokyo, or we live in a one room shack in Montana. You either love the crowds or you’re the Unibomber.

    You have choices. If you want a high paying job, you live near the city. If you want space, you find the countryside.

    I actually have a phobia against crowds. I don’t like them and I react negatively. I just have to get out.

    But I still live in a metro area, and I don’t have problems. I find ways to avoid crowds. Like buying groceries at 10pm at night… going to Target at 9pm… just before the stores close or right when they open, etc.

    But it’s not immigration that’s made our cities crowded… it’s the fact that there are no jobs in rural areas.

  67. 67
    orogeny says:

    Jeez, I leave for an hour to go to the gym and by the time I get back I’m a racist pig who is trying to do away with all the big cities and force everyone to live on a 6 acre pig farm. Just so you’ll know, I’m in favor of across the board amnesty for all existing illegal immigrants, provided that we also pass laws that really crack down on employers who hire illegals who come in after that amnesty.

    Andrew,

    I’m just gonna go ahead and call you an asshole. Anyone who can’t debate an issue without bringing the “R” word obviously fits that description.

    Kirk,

    As I said in an earlier post (excuse me aliceandbob for repeating myself)I really don’t believe that we could ever get back to that number. I’d be happy if we could just hold the population where it is now. New York has what, 9 million or so people now? Isn’t that enough for you? Is it somehow forcing you to change your lifestyle if I don’t want the rest of the country turned into New York? By the way, I love New York…vacation there at least once a year. It’s like Disney World, lots of fun to visit, I’m glad it exists, but I don’t want the whole country remade into their image. I just wouldn’t want to live there.

    Punchy…thanks.

    TOS,

    I live in a relatively rural area and there are plenty of jobs. I work for a college, my wife works for ATT. All of my friends are employed as well. Admittedly, we probably don’t make as much as someone in NYC does, but the cost of living is so much lower that it all balances out.

  68. 68
    Andrew says:

    I’m just gonna go ahead and call you an asshole. Anyone who can’t debate an issue without bringing the “R” word obviously fits that description.

    You’re way late to that party.

    Also, I think we can just blame god because he intelligently designed us 14 billion years ago to bump like rabbits.

  69. 69

    […] TimF on the Demise of the Immigration Bill By Doug TimF has a thoughtful post on what the immigration bill has meant and will mean to the GOP. Relatively speaking, to the Democrats, it was a matter of some indifference. Certainly Democrats had opinions, but not the white hot passionate ones that seemed to erupt in Republican circles. […]

  70. 70

    […] TimF on the Demise of the Immigration Bill By Doug TimF has a thoughtful post on what the immigration bill has meant and will mean to the GOP. Relatively speaking, to the Democrats, it was a matter of some indifference. Certainly Democrats had opinions, but not the white hot passionate ones that seemed to erupt in Republican circles. […]

  71. 71
    jg says:

    Because people are afraid to support the development of trains, for fear that it’ll eat into funding for a new six lane highway to bumbfuck nowhere.

    People move to remote locations to get away from the type of people who can’t afford to move to remote locations. That is why they prefer highways to transit systems. In Boston the saying was ‘once the T reaches your suburb your suburb goes dark’. I’m paraphrasing but you get the picture.

  72. 72
    les says:

    Orogeny, since:

    You agree we’re not going back to ’50’s population levels;
    You seem to think we can stop population increase today, without indicating how that might happen (unless there’s a “no more furriners at all” appeal in there somewhere);
    You seem to have the elbow room you crave (although the fact that the information operator doesn’t just yell the answer through the neighboring window seems a concern);

    what is it you’re actually going on about?

  73. 73
    Zifnab says:

    what is it you’re actually going on about?

    Dey took’r jobs!
    Everybody back in the pile!

  74. 74
    Kirk Spencer says:

    Orogeny,

    I really get tired of exaggeration and absurdity masquerading as legitimate position. Let me demonstrate.

    The population density of Birmingham, Alabama – your state, according to you – is approximately 1,525 per square mile (rounding from the most recent Encyclopedia Britannica’s information). Alabama has 52,419 square miles of which 96.8% is land — that’s 50,741 square miles. To make the entire state of Alabama as densely populated as Birmingham, we’d have to increase the population from 4,447,100 (US census 2000 numbers) to 774,206,178. For reference, the US Census “population clock” as of my posting time gives a total US population of 302,215,247. Restated, to get the population density of Birmingham – not NYC, just Birmingham – into the state of Alabama you have to have 2 and a half times the US population.

    But that’s a bit absurd. Let’s be more “realistic”.

    Birmingham, AL, has a land area of just under 150 square miles. The population density of New York City is 26,720 people per square mile. Thus to have Birmingham be as dense as NYC would require it to have a population of 4,008,000 people. In other words, if the entire population of Alabama moved WITHIN the borders of Birmingham, then and only then would it be as dense as NYC.

    Get real.

  75. 75
    Tulkinghorn says:

    orogeny Says:

    Damn, man! some people just want to build a wall between us and Mexico. How to you propose to engineer an orogeny?

  76. 76
    grumpy realist says:

    Yeah, I also have my hackles go up when people start moaning about how Wonderful It Was back in the 1950s….

    First of all, don’t confuse Norman Rockwell pictures and Leave it to Beaver and other TV shows with reality. The 1950s were fine, provided you weren’t black, lower class, Hispanic, gay, or female. Yeah, that’s some fine culture you have there.

    What everyone forgets is all those kids who were brought up in that wonderful 1950s lifestyle were the hippies rebelling in the 1960s.

    It’s some goddamn bastion of cultural ideal if it can’t even manage to hold on for one generation.

    Feh.

  77. 77
    Redhand says:

    Tim F., this was the best post you have ever written.

  78. 78
    TAX ANALYST says:

    Well, late to the party again…but I’m glad SOMEBODY final pointed this out:

    “grumpy realist Says:

    Yeah, I also have my hackles go up when people start moaning about how Wonderful It Was back in the 1950s….

    First of all, don’t confuse Norman Rockwell pictures and Leave it to Beaver and other TV shows with reality. The 1950s were fine, provided you weren’t black, lower class, Hispanic, gay, or female. Yeah, that’s some fine culture you have there.

    What everyone forgets is all those kids who were brought up in that wonderful 1950s lifestyle were the hippies rebelling in the 1960s.

    It’s some goddamn bastion of cultural ideal if it can’t even manage to hold on for one generation.

    Feh.”

    Grumpy Realist, you have nailed the situation exactly…Thank you…

    O-man,

    I don’t think you are necessarily a racist…I don’t know one way or the other…or really care…but you ARE locked into this fantasy about how bad life is because there are too many people here in the good-old USA. I happen to be rather edgy about crowds myself…don’t like ’em much…like one of the earlier posters I try to shop late at night (not possible in the 50’s, by the way), and with the exception of a couple Concerts a year I make it a point to avoid really crowded places. The only immigrant that has pissed me off in the past 10 years or so was a guy who wanted to install a doorbell to my apartment…I HATE doorbells…the sound makes me jump…if someone is coming over I will hear it if they knock…and if I didn’t invite them, well, they don’t need a doorbell, because they ain’t getting in either way. Anyway, I only yelled at him because he started hammering an apartment number on the wall outside my apartment after I told him “No doorbell”…I really don’t need an apartment number, either, and I really was not in the mood for the hammering since I was doing a little recording into an open mic at the time.

    Yeah, and while several have pointed out many of the modern conveniences we have now and did not have then no one even mentioned that BUSINESS HOURS…when you could go out and buy things and do things…were MUCH SHORTER than they are today…many retail businesses were only open until maybe 6:00pm and closed altogether on Sunday…perhaps Saturday as well. And it was, indeed, a period of political repression…or didn’t anybody teach you about the Red-baiting and Joe McCarthy, et al? I’d take a wild guess and say that a fair percentage of the posts here on any given day would have brought a friendly visit from J.Edgar Hoover’s FBI and perhaps a little black-listing from much of the job market. You could sit in your sparsely populated ideal city and jerk off all day long, which, by the way, is kinda what you’re doing in this comment thread…dreaming of a past that didn’t quite exist the way you picture it.

    But if it makes you feel better to believe this stuff, well, far be it from me to interrupt. Personally, I prefer to make whatever adjustments are necessary to be reasonably content in the world as it appears to be. I’ve found it can be done. From past experience I’ve found that when my perceptions run head-long into “Reality” that reality always wins, so I stopped butting heads with it…not that difficult and I’m much happier for it.

    Hey, while you’re back there in the 50’s would you say “Hi” to Elvis for me? He was The King back then, ya’ know…

  79. 79
    MNPundit says:

    When you say: “America survived the Irish invasion, the Italian invasion, the Nordic/Germanic invasion, the slavic invasion, the (involuntary) African invasion and the Chinese invasion so it seems ludicrously insecure to think that one more will kill us.”

    Allow me to provide the standard answer:
    Over an Ocean, Over an Ocean, Over an Ocean, Over an Ocean, Over an Ocean, Over a REALLY BIG Ocean–ON OUR FUCKING BORDER!!!!!11!!1!ONE!

    People panic because this invasion can reach America with just feet whereas previous ones were limited to ships.

  80. 80
    MNPundit says:

    Let me add I find this response stupid but there it is.

  81. 81

    Let’s put something in perspective, the big winners in unlimited immigration are the plutocrats and the big losers are blue collar. Construction now pays less than $0.60/$1.00 it did in 1984 pre-Reagan “amnesty.” It was the gateway out of poverty, now it is poverty. I don’t care if the people are white, brown, or purple; flooding the job market with uneducated people with low expectations depresses wages. If that’s how you want it to be, serfs and overlords, say so. I’d rather it wasn’t the guys who work for me…

    Think about it, the largest ticket item most people will ever buy, their home, is being built by serfs… If that’s a Democratic agenda, I’m seriously confused – I thought the Republicans wanted ultra rich and ultra poor.

    Verifiable SS#s are not that difficult, tied to age and place will damn near do the job & it need not be identity intrusive a simple Y/N on inquiry would make “accidental” illegal employment unlikely and a Davis-Bacon Act fine/hour worked would discourage cheats, along with the penalties for fraudulent papers. Nobody in their right mind can blame people for taking the chance to have a better life than “mexico – et al” offer, but there also is no reason to think legal workers should subsidize those governments and the cheats who get rich off it. BTW when the hiring playing field is even, those paying a living wage don’t go out of business.

    Well, fuck ’em, if they didn’t bother to get a job with the biggest health risk being a paper cut – they’ve no right to bitch. 30-36% of construction workers have no right to their jobs, I wonder why the pay sucks so bad. As the bottom falls out the real middle class will start to take a hit, they’re slipping a little now; just make sure to keep calling those who give a damn what’s happening at the lower end of the scale – racists.

    My concern is not entirely selfless, as wages go in the toilet my end as employer/labor goes with it. I get at least a little pissed watching people get all soft hearted about illegal immigrants while they give a rat’s ass about their fellow citizens. You don’t get to have a feel good solution, somebody gets screwed, you just get to pick who.

  82. 82
    jake says:

    Dey took’r jobs!
    Everybody back in the pile!

    I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who keeps thinking of this episode.

    But I have to agree with those people who long for the days of yore when there weren’t quite so many people around.

    This place started going to the shit since the invasion of boat people that began around the 1600’s. Unable to speak the language, disrespectful of property, incredibly violent, heavy drinkers, they carried virulent diseases and they bred like bunnies!

    But I’m not unreasonable; If each head of household would return to his/her country of origin and pay $5,000 for a visa, they can stay.

  83. 83
    ThymeZone says:

    Birmingham, AL, has a land area of just under 150 square miles. The population density of New York City is 26,720 people per square mile. Thus to have Birmingham be as dense as NYC would require it to have a population of 4,008,000 people. In other words, if the entire population of Alabama moved WITHIN the borders of Birmingham, then and only then would it be as dense as NYC.

    Excellent fact bomb. There’s nothing some people hate more than facts, especially when it comes to immigration.

  84. 84
    grumpy realist says:

    As said, don’t ever go to Tokyo and watch the crowds in Shibuya….it will flip you out.

    My problem is that ever since I’ve lived in Tokyo, every other urban location has felt like it was totally deserted. I keep wondering what plague hit the place.

    I’ll start listening to snit-fits about Them Eeevil Illegal Furrners once we fix our totally dysfunctional INS and start cracking down seriously on people who HIRE illegals. Until then, all of the screaming on the part of the politicans seems to me nothing more than Kabuki theatre to placate the base.

  85. 85

    […] The sad spectacle of the GOP’s ‘08 nomination race underlines major problems that the party will wrestle with for a long time. Following six years of criminal mismanagement the explosive immigration debate finally broke the fragile truce between business conservatives and social cons. Since then the rift has festered to the point that Dems trump the GOP on every economic indicator and the business vote stands ready to stampede left en masse. […]

  86. 86

    […] Me in June: […]

  87. 87

    […] I have written on the same topic here and here. Regarding issues like immigration or the Huckabee campaign, you really see diametrically opposed camps that won’t settle anymore for sweeping their differences under the rug. […]

  88. 88

    […] enough of the party to start demanding, and getting, more than insincere lip service is actually fairly new. What was this great thing that they demanded and got? Terri Schiavo. […]

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] enough of the party to start demanding, and getting, more than insincere lip service is actually fairly new. What was this great thing that they demanded and got? Terri Schiavo. […]

  2. […] I have written on the same topic here and here. Regarding issues like immigration or the Huckabee campaign, you really see diametrically opposed camps that won’t settle anymore for sweeping their differences under the rug. […]

  3. […] Me in June: […]

  4. […] The sad spectacle of the GOP’s ‘08 nomination race underlines major problems that the party will wrestle with for a long time. Following six years of criminal mismanagement the explosive immigration debate finally broke the fragile truce between business conservatives and social cons. Since then the rift has festered to the point that Dems trump the GOP on every economic indicator and the business vote stands ready to stampede left en masse. […]

  5. […] TimF on the Demise of the Immigration Bill By Doug TimF has a thoughtful post on what the immigration bill has meant and will mean to the GOP. Relatively speaking, to the Democrats, it was a matter of some indifference. Certainly Democrats had opinions, but not the white hot passionate ones that seemed to erupt in Republican circles. […]

  6. […] TimF on the Demise of the Immigration Bill By Doug TimF has a thoughtful post on what the immigration bill has meant and will mean to the GOP. Relatively speaking, to the Democrats, it was a matter of some indifference. Certainly Democrats had opinions, but not the white hot passionate ones that seemed to erupt in Republican circles. […]

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