Saturday, December 15, 2018

A Wall of Disgrace

By Don Boudreaux
Trump’s obsession with building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border – an obsession shared, I’m sure, by Trump’s base – is impossible for me to encounter with any emotion other than disgust. The very idea is disgraceful. Here we have a political “leader” and his followers who seem truly to believe that among the gravest threats to American prosperity, values, and culture are poor Spanish-speaking people who wish to come here to mow our lawns and to clean our motel rooms.
I don’t care if this ugly hostility to non-Americans is called bigotry or prejudice. Call it blueberries and sweet cream. Call it what you will. Whatever it is called, it strikes me as reflecting nothing more than the ages-old tribalistic fear of others – a fear that has so often, throughout history, been exploited by “leaders” to agitate and rouse the masses, always to unfortunate outcomes.
I will say plainly: anyone who thinks that among the proper responses to America’s problems – whatever these problems might be – is the building of a border wall is thoughtless, misinformed, and easily duped. He or she is driven by primitive emotions and not by reason or civility. He or she takes the easiest and most animalistic route of all to reach conclusions about society and the economy – namely, that most of “our” problems are caused by “them” and, therefore, “we” will be rid of most of “our” problems only if and when “we” separate “us” from “them,” those unfamiliar and sinister outsiders.
If you’re worried about genuine criminals immigrating to America, you should learn the facts rather than swallow the assertions of demagogues. And if, after learning the facts, some fears of immigrants continue to haunt you, recognize at least two realities:
First, the fears that immigration skeptics have today about immigrants are the same fears that the immigration-skeptics’ grandparents and great-grandparents had yesterday about immigrants – about the likes of the Irish, the Germans, the Italians, and the Polish. (See Jason Riley’s excellent 2008 book, Let Them In.)
Second, a screening system far more civilized and less ham-fisted than a brutal wall is available to address this concern. Specifically, we could get rid of immigration quotas and return to the Ellis Island-era regime of immigration.
Alas, the Trumpian hostility to immigration reflects no rational fear of genuine crimes being committed by immigrants as much as it reflects atavistic fear of foreigners.
The above originally appeared at Cafe Hayek.


  1. Nah, I think it's the "Let's keep the welfare for our own citizens" type of thinking that most people have. People like the idea of Joe America having his money taken and giving it to Jim America (even though they don't even have the ability to think that deep), but they do not like giving Joe's hard earned moola to just anybody....I think they realize it's a Ponzi scheme that must be limited in scope to work.

    1. Most sane people want government welfare to end - for everyone. But, that's not going to happen anytime soon. You can't have a government welfare system and open borders. It's a recipe for disaster.

    2. Thats spot on therevolutionwas and the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about< (obviously including Don,) is the middle class march to poverty facilitated by the Oligarchy that is being actively stoked by the rich to keep the attention of the Idiocracy off their culpability.

      Its bad enough that we have to compete for less with more people unsccuessfully seeking a path to middle class status that will not occur.

      The fact that this nebulous fear has been used before, it is nonetheless a powerful motivator

  2. And Boudreaux officially jumps on the "every one who disagrees with me is a bigot" train.

    I am not in favor of building the wall, for starters because it won't be very effective. That said, from a guy who is capable of rational thought, calling everyone who may disagree a bigot is pretty disgraceful. I have Hispanic friends who are more ant-illegal immigration than most people, yet this white academic has the nerve to call them prejudiced and bigoted. He is capable of arguing against the wall with reason, but apparently the leftist tactic of calling everyone who disagrees a racist is his fall-back. Also, the "facts" he points to basically just says that nobody really knows what the numbers are. Regardless, people can have differing opinions than you without being your fantasy of what you think they are. Whether you're for or against illegal immigration, the really disgraceful people are the ones who resort to name-calling.

  3. Again, misdiagnosing the problem, which will only hurt the anti-wall side. The above is not nuanced thinking, and sounds just like the Left. He also thinks, like the Left, he can read minds. Heck, now I'm for the wall. Screw it

  4. The wall is another more government solution to a government created problem.

    "the fears that immigration skeptics have today about immigrants are the same fears that the immigration-skeptics. grandparents and great-grandparents had yesterday about immigrants . about the likes of the Irish, the Germans, the Italians, and the Polish."

    You mean people who arrived before there was a welfare state and socialized government services were very scarce if they existed at all. A time where government employees also worked rather cheap. A time where people were expected to learn the english language to get by instead of having those already in the USA cater to their native language and culture.

    Today we have continuous flow of low productivity people who then consume all sorts of government services (and welfare where they can get it) that costs in excess of the taxes they pay out that productivity is simply not sustainable. And yes it is mostly a subsidy to their employers ultimately. Regardless of how it's looked at something has to give sooner or later.

    Also keep in mind that every socialized government service is vastly
    overpriced and comes with many high paying government jobs and expensive
    pension programs. These jobs increase in number as the programs get
    bigger. Schools, roads, social services, and much more long before even
    a dime of welfare is added to the tally.

    This is just math. If it continues the tax donkeys in the USA will simply collapse from the work load or runaway. A real solution is needed or collapse will force one. If we want to take in all comers then government needs to get a lot smaller and it has to get smaller first in an orderly way or it will become smaller in a very disorderly way as people fight over the socialized resources as they dwindle relative to the population or just simply dwindle in absolute value.