Your Lying Eyes

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12 June 2006

Immigration Bad for Honest Analysis

Noted economist Tyler Cowen has surrendered to abject disingenuousness in his desperation to promote Mexican immigration. In an op-ed in the Washington Post today, Cowen insists that Latino immigrants are too assimilating - or, as he obliquely puts it in the opening paragraph, "we see a higher level of Latino assimilation than is often presumed." That's a taste of what's to come.

Learning English? Not a problem, he insists, because "national magazines such as Hispanic Business (circulation 265,000) and Latina (circulation 2 million) are published in English." Wow - two magazines. What about the full-time Spanish-language stations on TV? He's confident that "in a generation most Latino-interest publications will probably be in English." The problem is that assimilation should mean there would be few "Latino-interest" publications in any language - but we're supposed to be relieved if "most" are not in Spanish.

What about family values? "Census data show that 62 percent of immigrants over age 15 are married, compared to 52 percent of natives." Note the use of the term "immigrants" here - this particular sleight of hand - interleaving stats on all immigrants with assertions about Latinos is used throughout the article. He then points out that "Latino immigrants are more likely to live in multigenerational households rathe than just visiting grandparents a couple of times a year." Yeah - that's actually bad news, Tyler. Greater assimilation would mean less multigenerational households. His allusions to visits to Grandmother's House is cute - but the multigenerational household is more likely due to teen and other unmarried mothers living home than sweet little gray-haired grannies knitting in the parlor.

Few immigration restrictionists argue that Latinos are lazy, but the myth of the hard-working immigrant is a bit overblown. This might explain why the best factoid a prominent economist could put his hands on to advance this myth is that "data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that Hispanic men are more likely than white men to be in the labor force." What does that mean? Including retirees? Since immigrants pretty much have to be working, wouldn't that bump up the Hispanic work-force totals? At any rate, that's a pretty slim bit of data to support really the only reason most Americans tolerate immigration at all - because they're supposed to be hard workers.

Are native born Latinos closing the gap? Here's why Mr. Cowen thinks so: "Immigrant Latino men make about half of what native whites do; their grandsons earn about 78 percent of the salaries of their native white friends." In other words, second-generation Hispanic-Americans are only making 78% of white American salaries. That's pretty poor - there should be no gap at all by the second generation in this day and age, particularly given that Hispanics receive preferential treatment in college admissions, hiring, and set-asides.

It's really a pathetic effort. Even ignoring the deception, his arguments are really weak - almost half-hearted. On his own blog, he has been torn to shreds by knowledgeable commenters when he has made similar arguments. Undoubtedly not used to receiving such merciless drubbings as a professor and pundit, his blog has announced a more restrictive policy on comments. I read his blog regularly and enjoy most of what he writes - interesting thoughts and some solid economic reasoning - but his slavish devotion to free-trade and immigration leads to some bizarre lapses in logic. I'd recommend that you not rely on economists to understand the effects of immigration - instead use the best analytical tool available - your own lying eyes.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also liked how he blames an overall trend of "income inequality" for the wage gap, not immigration. But what's causing the income inequality in the first place? Could it be, in addition to globalization and a host of other factors, that millions of unskilled people are streaming across the borders, driving down wages for a whole host of jobs?

Saying the immigrant wage gap is caused by income inequality (which is at the very least driven in part by immigration) is just dancing around the problem.

There can be no doubt that income inequality would be a lot better if lower skilled people had fewer people competing for those jobs.

June 12, 2006 10:31 PM  
Blogger Steve Sailer said...

One thing my wife complains about is that the Spanish language TV channels in LA don't run English subtitles on movies. I found "Repo Man" in Spanish recently, and would have gladly sat through the whole thing if it had been subtitled into English, but it's not. Univision and the others don't want to make it easier for their audience to learn English.

In contrast, the Korean channel often subtitles movies in English.

June 12, 2006 10:45 PM  
Anonymous nameless said...

Keep up the good work on the illegal immigration issue, Ziel!

I am not too surprised to see that sort of tripe in the Washington Post. They are so knee-jerkedly libertarian on all issues related to globalism, its sickening (and pretty galling, considering that the Washington D.C. - area economy, so heavily based on government and contracting activity, is largely immune to the effects of foreign competition, i.e. Federal agencies and contractors can only hire U.S. citizens and are not subject to outsourcing).

Its getting to the point that I can't stand to look at a newspaper these days. You can't even turn to the comics page without being subjected to Open Borders immigration nonsense now. Beatle Bailey used the tired "immigrants do jobs Americans won't" line in the strip yesterday.

Is nothing sacred?

June 13, 2006 4:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is depressing on some point; but hey if beetle bailey is part of their army, their eventual defeat is assured. There is one thing to be sure of the pro immigrant stance will fail. The chaos and decadence illegal immigration adds to an already volatile mixture will assuredly end in an uncontrollable mess. The party will be over for everyone, which will mark the true triumph of diversity.
And while i dont relish the fact, but if in the present situation enough folks can't see the danger to themselves, their country and their culture, a good kick in the balls might be just what the doctor ordered.

Just the collision of social service demands that will occur in 7 to 15 years warrants a national discussion, or maybe even one to three comic strips addressing the subject.
steve N.

June 13, 2006 6:02 AM  
Blogger ziel said...

Well there arguments are so obviously bad - like Steve says today about the WSJ - it's getting too easy. But will the House be able to hold out long enough and not cave too soon?

June 13, 2006 8:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

KFI radio in L.A. is covering the attempt by Mexicans and Darryl Hannah to save the People's Farm. The problem is the farm is on some guy's property, and he wants to develop it.
Rather than assimilate to U.S. property rights, the Mexicans are playing the classic third world power grab game of just trying to steal the man's property rights. After all, they have been growing crap on the plot. Crap that serves (all together now) the COMMUNITY. My baloney has a first name it's C-O-M-M-U-N-I-T-Y.
I heard that the Mayor and a few others, who for the time being have to pretend they belive in property rights, have offered to buy the plot. But the owner having been thouroughly insulted by all of the COMMUNITY is not to keen on dealing with the COMMUNITY.
By the way perhaps Mr.Sailer or somebody could do a breakdown on life in L.A. The fiscal health, the educational health, ect... L.A. is obviously the Immigrant Model Community -- it would be nice to share exactly what that is gonna mean when the COMMUNITY comes to your town. I'd also like to know how many minutes L.A. would survive without federal dollars?
Steve N.

June 14, 2006 2:47 AM  
Anonymous perroazul del norte said...

RE the "peoples farm": "squatter's rights" are recognized throughout Latin America.
I live in Costa Rica and if you own rural property and aren't living there to protect it (constantly) you'd better hire a reliable local person to keep potential squatters away. Once they take up residence(even for a short period) you'll probably never be able to get them removed.

June 16, 2006 12:49 PM  
Anonymous Harlem said...

Tough to tell for sure but, based on his reading this blog, I'm guessing that Del Norte does not approve of this squatter's approach to property ownership.

I heard a report on this on some network (likely not Fox News) where the question was posed as to whether the property owner was undertaking this move because he needed the money or just because he didn't like hispanics.

The formulation of the question is absurd on its face. He owns the property! His motivation for wanting to use it for his benefit is not an issue for debate.

I wonder how many hispanics are planting/tending communal gardens on Darryl Hannah's property?

As an aside, KFI is an interesting So Cal radio station. Ken & John are great, if sometimes a bit too energetic about all things American.

June 16, 2006 7:20 PM  
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