Christopher Caldwell At The Claremont Review Of Books: ‘The Hidden Costs Of Immigration’

The idea that immigration comes with costs and benefits is a pretty basic one.

The briefest sketch: On the top-end of the labor-market, let’s say a host country receives a talented, well-skilled couple willing to contribute to the economy, pay taxes, raise children and give them a good life.  The immigrant family raises their own overall standard of living, benefiting from relative political stability and economic opportunity, finding a way to both enjoy new freedoms and share in many new obligations (as mundane as mowing the lawn every weekend).  The economy grows, and barring some occasional tension, misunderstandings and mutual ignorance, both host country and immigrant family’s fates have been bettered.  A new, shared destiny is forged.

Hey, what’s not to like?

Let’s say, though, this particular immigrant family, because of the global labor market and host country incentives, eventually finds themselves doing pretty well.  They start to bring over more family members to the host country.  These family members often choose to segregate into certain parts of the host cities and keep speaking their own language and eating their own food as often as they can.  A few don’t care too much for the new place, though it’s safer than home.

Overall, despite the gains, social trust in the host city diminishes a bit. Intermarrying, it turns out, is frowned-upon in this particular family’s culture while the family’s religious beliefs (which they’re free to practice and whose practice keeps them in good stead in the home country) might eventually put them in serious crisis and conflict with many traditions and duties of the host country.

This is a rather reasonable-enough scenario I mean to present without too much in the way of value-judgment.  People are people, after all, and while some you want to have close, contributing much, others are better far, far away.  How do you know who’s who?

It seems the melting-pot model requires enough people already in the pot not hating the the pot on principle.

On that note, Christopher Caldwell highlights one of the prevailing turns of mind found throughout our academies and chattering classes these days (the ones often drafting laws and shaping public opinion around immigration):  Many promote a brand of secular humanism too easily passing the costs of immigration onto others (some of your security could well be traded for lofty goals and political promises at first…later on left unguarded by diminished choices, political expedience and mush-mouthed nonsense).

Such folks may also be cowed by the radical practitioners of the ideologies-which-function-much-as-religions these days, especially within our universities; those who claim ANY discussion of negative immigration outcomes is a violation of the sacred ‘-Isms’.

Caldwell:

‘Among academic economists, George Borjas, a professor at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, has a reputation as a debunker of pro-immigration myths and narratives. This is not out of any a priori hostility to immigration. Having left Cuba as a child in 1962 after the Castro government confiscated his family’s clothing factory, he is himself a beneficiary of American openness.

But four decades in academic life have convinced Borjas that most of those who claim to study immigration—in academia, journalism, and politics—are better thought of as advocates for it.’

Let’s find some balance and keep making good things better.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

On this site, see: From The NY Times: Review Of Christopher Caldwell’s Book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West”

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