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Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 05:30 pm

We are the East germans

 I am taking a break from regular column-writing, but I might from time to time alert readers to columns of the sort I might have written or wished I could write on topics of moment.

I ran across two such columns today. The topic is immigration, the social wisdom thereof. It is a drum I have banged loudly, in "Three strikes and you're in" and other pieces. 

First, David Brooks of the New York Times, who worries that Americans are becoming the East Germans of the 21st Century. He writes

When you wade into the evidence you find that the case for restricting immigration is pathetically weak. ....You don’t have to rely on pointy-headed academics. Get in your car. If you start in rural New England and drive down into Appalachia or across into the Upper Midwest you will be driving through county after county with few immigrants. These rural places are often 95 percent white. These places lack the diversity restrictionists say is straining the social fabric.

Are these counties marked by high social cohesion, economic dynamism, surging wages and healthy family values? No. Quite the opposite. They are often marked by economic stagnation, social isolation, family breakdown and high opioid addiction. Charles Murray wrote a whole book, “Coming Apart,” on the social breakdown among working-class whites, many of whom live in these low immigrant areas.

But these trends are largely within the native population. Immigrants provide the antidote. They start new businesses at twice the rate of nonimmigrants. Roughly 70 percent of immigrants express confidence in the American dream, compared with only 50 percent of the native-born.

Immigrants have much more traditional views on family structure than the native-born and much lower rates of out-of-wedlock births. They commit much less crime than the native-born. Roughly 1.6 percent of immigrant males between 18 and 39 wind up incarcerated compared with 3.3 percent of the native-born.

Who knew? just anyone who's looked at the numbers, but never mind.

Then we have Matt Ygleias over at Vox. He argues against the alarums of the anti-immigrant right, conluding " A larger and more diverse population supports more intensive development of the resources available and a more complex division of labor, leading, over time, to a steadily more sophisticated and prosperous national economy," mainly because immigrants and U.S.-born workers generally do not compete for the same jobs; instead, many immigrants complement the work of U.S. employees and increase their productivity.

Yglesias musters as an ally none other than Abraham Lincoln, who during the Civil War wrote, "immigrants as one of the replenishing streams appointed by providence to repair the ravages of internal war and its waste of national strength and health.”

The details of this issue. Do read them.




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