Posts Tagged Race and ethnicity in the United States Census
Nothing Says Native American Heritage Like White Girls In Headdresses
Maybe it’s totally cool to be an oblivious racist these days. Whatever the case, there have been unusually high rates of “playing Indian” this year.
December 11, 2012
Gwen Stefani in No Doubt’s “Looking Hot” video. Via theinsider.com
There is something insidiously ironic about being American Indian during the fall of the 21st century. It all starts with Columbus Day to mark our “discovery,” then moves right into the “it’s totally not racist to dress up as a hypersexualized Indian” for Halloween parties, and goes out with a bang on Thanksgiving when we celebrate the survival of the Pilgrims and that harmonious, mutually beneficial relationship forged between colonizers and Indigenous peoples everywhere! However romanticized or factually inaccurate, these holidays happen to be the three days when Native peoples actually enter the mass psyche of American culture.
I don’t know about you, but I usually spend the autumn months parading around in my Navajo Hipster panties, feather headdress (on loan from model Karlie Kloss and singer Gwen Stefani), Manifest Destiny T-Shirt and knee-high fringed moccasins made in Taiwan while watching a Redskins game, smoking a pack of American Spirits, and eating genetically modified Butter Ball turkey, because I’m just that traditional.
Perhaps it was that warm Indian summer weather that seemingly made non-natives so eager to sport culturally demeaning faux Indian apparel and legitimize it under the guise of “ignorance” or “appreciation.” Maybe it’s totally cool to be an oblivious racist these days. Whatever the case, there have been unusually high rates of “playing Indian” this year.
A lot of the recent coverage and commentary on cultural appropriation has emphasized the lack of education surrounding Native history and a greater need for sensitivity toward Native culture. While I certainly agree that invisibility continues to shroud Native issues and that there is a tremendous lack of education when it comes to the history of America’s Indigenous peoples, I think that the issue of why these circumstances exist is often overlooked. Why are Americans so clueless when it comes to the history and contemporary reality of Native peoples? What is it about this particular narrative that threatens the collective American psyche?
To be honest, while angered and outraged, I am not shocked about the most recent occurrences of Native cultural appropriation and denigration. Racism, dehumanization, and intellectual-property theft are not new to Native Americans. We have been confronting them in some form or another beginning with the Doctrine of Discovery and the arrival of Columbus in 1492. Imperialism and the genocide of Indigenous people have been justified under the premise of progress and growth and in the process our lands, cultures, and bodies have all been portrayed as inherently violable.
The sexual conquest and deliberate dehumanization of Native women has been used as a colonizing tactic for centuries. Sexual violence perpetrated against Native women was a strategy of domination used in the Indian Wars and as we can see, this type of mentality of domination persists today. Native women, stripped of their humanity, are still objectified as a sexual fetish or exotic other. In fact, these kind of derogatory stereotypes have become a fixture of both American mythology and pop culture. What is different today is that, in the digital age of Instagram and Twitter, you can see a picture of Karlie Kloss donning a feather headdress on your iPhone the moment she starts strutting the runway.
Recent acts of cultural appropriation do not occur in a vacuum and should not be viewed as isolated instances separate from their social and historic contexts. It is far more complex than hipsters in Navajo panties and pop stars in headdresses. These contemporary instances of cultural appropriation and stereotypes are really byproducts of ongoing colonialism, systemic racism, and the deliberately false narratives perpetuated about Native peoples by white society. Cultural commodification and dehumanized stereotypes extended far beyond any single corporation, retail franchise, or celebrity.
Despite what dominant society and mainstream media say, Native culture is a vibrant and living culture. We are not a relic of the past, a theme or a trend; we are not a style or costume; we are not mascots, noble savages or romantic fictional entities. We are human beings and, despite all odds, we have survived. As sovereign Nations, Indigenous peoples have the right to speak for ourselves and not have dominant Euro-American society project and profit from an artificial and socially constructed image of “Indian” identity.
November has been declared Native American Heritage month, and I think next year would be an opportune time for corporate executives and members of the fashion and music industries to come visit Indian country and actually meet some of the people they are attempting to mimic. There are 565 federally recognized tribes in the United States, each with their own distinct culture, language, and history, and each with multitude of artists who could teach them a lot about beauty and dignity. Gwen, Karlie, Ke$ha and all you other culture vultures, maybe you should leave your synthetic headdresses at home. And by the way, I am sorry if any of you are offended by me calling you out for being offensive.
- Nothing Says Native American Heritage Like White Girls In Headdresses (alternet.org)
- Nothing Says Native American Heritage Month Like White Girls in Headdresses (racialicious.com)
- Victoria’s Secret Apologizes For Using A Native American Headdress in their 2012 Fashion Show (peacebenwilliams.com)
- Victoria’s Secret Apologizes for Karlie Kloss’s Racy Native American Runway Outfit, Pulls It From the Broadcast (fashionista.com)
- Victoria’s Secret says sorry for using Native American headdress in fashion show (vancouversun.com)
- Victoria’s Secret apologizes for use of headdress ()
- Victoria’s Secret apologizes for use of headdress (poll) (kansascity.com)
- Victoria’s Secret apologises for use of headdress (todayonline.com)
- Native American Heritage Month post 2- Hipster Racism and the Indian Princess (sarahekushner.wordpress.com)
- victoria’s secret apologise for native american ‘mockery’ (thesun.co.uk)
Remaking The Republican Party
Mitt Romney’s poor performance among minority voters, single women, and young people has led many top Republicans to call for an overhaul of the party’s image. Here are some options the GOP is considering to extend its appeal:
· Start nominating hipper, more relatable 65-year-old men
· Begin rolling the R’s in “deportation” and “border fence”
· A bunch of abortions and stuff—whatever the gals want
· Change nothing and wait for rest of country to come to its senses
· Project youthful vibe by requiring Republican congressmen to walk around Capitol doing yo-yo tricks
· Change party mascot to a Hispanic elephant
· Start one of those Twitter hashtags
· Eh, fuck it—just disenfranchise as many people as possible
- Infographic: Remaking The Republican Party (theonion.com)
- Remaking the Republican Party (theburningplatform.com)
- Romney Promises Any Pennsylvanian Who Votes For Him Can Have Ann Romney For One Hour | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Entire Nation Now Undecided After 4 Debates | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- The Implosion of the Republican Party is A “Gift” to America (mbcalyn.com)
- Massie urges GOP split to remake ‘party of Lincoln’ (chasvoice.blogspot.com)
- Romney Pitches In To Repair Thousands Of Downed Romney-Ryan Lawn Signs | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Charlie Crist joins the Democrats: What drives a political chameleon? (csmonitor.com)
- On this day in 1865, Slavery was Abolished by the REPUBLICAN PARTY (grandoldpartisan.typepad.com)
- The death of the Republican party? (mhasegawa.com)
Sarah Palin Reports Mysterious White Rolled Up Items On Front Lawn
October 11, 2012
Former Alaska Governor and Fox News Contributor Sarah Palin, rightfully already on edge about recent mysterious white powder sent to her daughter Bristol’s dressing room on the “Dancing With The Stars” set, reported to the FBI that mysterious white rolled up items are now appearing on her front lawn on a daily basis.
“Well, I’m seeing these things and they’re out on my lawn. They’re white, rolled up, things. It’s the craziest thing! It looks like there might even be words on them. The one on Sunday was the biggest and that’s what had me really worried. Then the Monday one was a good amount smaller…and the same with the Tuesday one. You can never be too careful with all of these haters out there, sending their chicken pox vaccines and things to ABC where my daughter works, trying to scare people, ” she told the Associated Press in a Tuesday night interview.
A FBI stake-out early Thursday morning resulted in the brief detention of 12-year-old Billy Pearson, who was later released after it was confirmed that he was simply the delivery boy for The Wasilla Times. The FBI considers the case to be closed.
- Free Wood Post – Sarah Palin decries Islamic influence on Moose population (mbcalyn.com)
- Mysterious Package Sent To Bristol Palin Being Treated Seriously By Officials (contactmusic.com)
- Sarah Palin Reads The National Enquirer (wtfplanet.com)
- Why is Sarah Palin in Arizona Today? (mbcalyn.com)
- Sarah Palin writing a fitness book (politico.com)
- Very Slim Sarah Palin Says She’s Writing Fitness Book With Family (washington.cbslocal.com)
- Want To Look Gaunt Like Sarah Palin? Now You Can! (contactmusic.com)
- Sarah Palin to Write a Fitness Book (washingtonian.com)
- WTF: Sarah Palin’s Dramatic Weight Loss (collegecandy.com)
- ‘Our Sarah: Made In Alaska’ Sarah Palin Memoir Features Praise From Father And Brother (contactmusic.com)
Obama Camp Vows To Win Neighborhoods Where Romney Staffers Are Too Afraid To Go | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source
Obama Camp Vows To Win Neighborhoods Where Romney Staffers Are Too Afraid To Go
COLUMBUS, OH—Entering the final month before the general election, sources within the Obama campaign announced today their new strategy of focusing on voters in neighborhoods where Romney staffers are too scared to go. “We’ve already pinpointed several low-income, primarily black and Hispanic neighborhoods that the Romney team has avoided at all costs,” said local Obama 2012 volunteer Jacob Fitzsimmons, describing efforts to get the president’s message out in high-crime, inner-city areas that most of Romney’s canvassers won’t even drive through. “Romney staffers that do travel to these areas are typically ineffective because they roll up their windows, lock their car doors, and get nervous when stopping at intersections. Additionally, we believe we can make tremendous strides in neighborhoods where Romney campaign volunteers are willing to go, but never past 6 p.m.” Members of the Romney camp countered this afternoon by saying they planned to redouble their efforts in gated suburban communities that would never allow Obama supporters to enter, let alone knock on doors.
- ‘What About That Whole Birth Certificate Thing?’ Romney Suggests To Staff | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Romney Just Saying He Grew Up Poor In Memphis Now | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Romney Campaign Sends In Champion Of The Poor Paul Ryan For Damage Control | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Obama Camp Vows To Win Neighborhoods Where Romney Staffers Are Too Afraid To Go (theonion.com)
- Romney Privately Wondering How In The Name Of Fuck He’s Going To Appeal To Asian Voters | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Mitt Romney Frantically Running Around Ohio Smiling And Waving | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (theonion.com)
- Clint Eastwood Gives Bizarre Speech | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source | American Voices (mbcalyn.com)
- Romney: ‘We Should Never Apologize For American Values Or Japanese Internment Camps’ | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Romney Apologizes To Nation’s 150 Million ‘Starving, Filthy Beggars’ | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- RNC Builds Levee Out Of Poor People To Protect Convention Site | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
A few days ago ten Immigration Customs and Enforcement agents filed a lawsuit in a Dallas federal court against their superiors, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and ICE director John Morton.
Agents assert that the administration’s 2011 prosecutorial discretion memo which eliminates deportation for all but criminal aliens and President Obama’s June 15th Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order, which grants two-year legal residency to most age 16-30, force them to break existing laws. Both programs provide work authorization; at least 2 million new potential workers will be added to the millions looking unsuccessfully for jobs.
Eric Allie / PoliticalCartoons.com
Laws already on the books require agents to process apprehended illegal immigrants. The 1996 Immigrant Responsibility Act mandates that aliens be detained. No “prosecutorial discretion” can be exercised until the alien appears at adjudication. Only then can an individual case be reviewed and possibly decided in the adjudicatee’s favor. Nevertheless, in violation of federal law, DHS exercises discretion unilaterally.
Boiled down to its bare bones, the agents’ suit claims that it’s illegal to order federal officers to break laws they swore to uphold.
Pundits interpret the administration’s actions as part of an outreach strategy to garner Hispanic votes. And the mainstream media has repeatedly emphasized that Hispanic votes are crucial to President Obama’s re-election.
The truth is that in a close election all minority demographic voting blocs are important—senior citizens, veterans, Asians, non-Hispanic Blacks and Hispanics. By a large margin, the most important bloc is non-Hispanic whites. According to a Center for Immigration Studies analysis of Census Bureau and Current Population Survey data taken from previous election years, non-Hispanic whites will total 73 percent of voters. By comparison, Hispanics will comprise about 9 percent. Since many Hispanics live in California, New York and Illinois, states Obama can’t possibly lose, or New Mexico which has a meager five electoral votes, the administration’s game plan is curious. What does Obama gain?
Prosecutorial discretion and DACA are Obama’s big gamble. Obama could get Hispanic votes but, because of his new policies, also lose larger voting blocs which in turn would cost him the election.
Factor recent unemployment statistics into the muddled equation and Obama’s questionable strategy turns incomprehensible. DACA allegedly helps young Hispanics by giving them work permits. But converting previously ineligible workers (because of their immigration status) into legal job seekers is a devastating blow to unemployed Hispanic-Americans.
Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics broad measure of unemployment, which includes discouraged workers who have given up the search, during the second quarter of 2012, 19 percent of Hispanic citizens (one in five) were jobless. For Hispanics under 30 with only a high school education—those most likely to compete with illegal immigrants for lower paying, entry level restaurant and hospitality jobs—their U-6 unemployment rate is above 30 percent. Furthermore, the Associated Press reported last year that about 1.5 million (53.6 percent) of American bachelor’s degree holders under the age of 25 are jobless or underemployed.
I’ve consistently argued that the essential votes in this year’s election are disenchanted and anxious middle-class Republicans and Democrats, moderates and independents.
Consider this. The non-partisan Sentier Research parsed the latest Census income data. Sentier found that the Obama administration’s policies have caused middle-class households significant financial harm.
In January 2009, when President Obama entered the Oval Office and shortly before he signed his $800 billion-plus stimulus spending bill, median household income was $54,983. By June 2012, it had tumbled to $50,964, adjusted for inflation. Real income lost: $4,019 or about one month’s wages per year.
Given 2012′s hard economic reality and the agents’ lawsuit which will keep the White House’s prosecutorial discretion programs front and center, President Obama’s craven blue print to secure the Hispanic vote could backfire. Ethnic identity politics is a loser.
- Kobach and ICE Agents Sue DHS Over DACA and Morton Memo (lawprofessors.typepad.com)
- Republicans Face Tough Job Winning Hispanic Votes (voanews.com)
- Cable Highlights – Dems Target Women, Hispanics at Convention (hulu.com)
- Number of Hispanics Pursuing Ph.D.s Rises 161% from 2000 to 2010 (hispanicallyspeakingnews.com)
- DNC’s Hispanic Caucus Defend Obama On Immigration, Blame GOP (txwclp.org)
- Oppenheimer: How Mitt Romney can reach Hispanic voters (newsday.com)
- Study expects Hispanic vote to be a factor in 2012 election (virginiabusiness.com)
- Rising Latino star delivers keynote (cnn.com)
- DNC’s Hispanic Caucus Defend Obama On Immigration, Blame GOP (reason.com)
- 5 marketing secrets about U.S. Hispanics (thecontentlab.icrossing.com)
Romney Privately Wondering How In The Name Of Fuck He’s Going To Appeal To Asian Voters | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source
Romney Privately Wondering How In The Name Of Fuck He’s Going To Appeal To Asian Voters
MOLINE, IL—Mitt Romney privately wondered this week just how in the name of living fuck he’s supposed to appeal to Asian voters, sources close to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee confirmed. “I have to get 40% of these people? I don’t even know how to court one Asian, let alone five million Asians,” muttered the former Massachusetts Governor, adding that he couldn’t think of an Asian on the entire fucking planet that would look at him and think, “I want to vote for that guy.” “This is going to be a goddamn disaster. I have a hard enough time appealing to white women, let alone Asians. Asian, for Christ’s sake.” Recent reports indicate that Romney has decided to start walking around in a silk robe he found in his closet and see if that does anything for him.
- Paul Ryan Cuts $120 Million In Wasteful Spending From Romney Campaign | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Paul Ryan Wondering If He Should Have Told Romney About This Guy He’s Dating | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Romney Stares Uncomprehendingly At $1 Bill | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- POLL: Majority of Republicans Guess They Have to Support Fucking Romney : The New Yorker (mbcalyn.com)
- Parties vie for Asian-American vote (politico.com)
- Romney: What America Needs is Jobs – not Hope and Change (chainsoff.wordpress.com)
- Watch: Jeb Bush on Hispanic, Asian American Voters (abcnews.go.com)
- Paul Ryan Cuts $120 Million In Wasteful Spending From Romney Campaign | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (bell-book-candle.com)
- New N.C. poll gives Romney small lead in presidential race (charlotteobserver.com)
- Romney convention speech gets lowest positive rating since Gallup started tracking in 1996 (dailykos.com)
Romney on the Latino Vote: “Latinos Can Vote?”
Mitt Romney’s hardline stance on immigration has left supporters concerned that he is in danger of losing the highly coveted Latino vote in the upcoming presidential election. When questioned on the issue, however, Romney appeared unconcerned by the potential ramifications of alienating Latino voters.
“I’m sorry, what are you asking?” Romney responded to a reporter at a recent fundraiser in Sioux City, IA. “The Latino vote? What is that?”
The reporter attempted to clarify her question and was interrupted by the presumed GOP presidential nominee.
“Latinos can’t vote, can they?” Romney asked. “I mean, don’t you have to be a US Citizen to vote? I strongly believe that illegals should not be given voting rights,” he said firmly.
“I also stick by whatever it is I may have just said,” Romney added.
When pressed on the issue during an interview later that week with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Romney did begin to backpedal slightly.
“Latinos can vote? Really?” he asked incredulously. “I’m surprised by this. I mean, I’m just saying, my lawn guys wouldn’t even take a check,” he said, referring to an investigation by the Boston Globe in 2006 which found that Romney had employed a lawn care company that regularly hired illegal immigrants.
The candidate then paused, listening intently as an aide whispered in his ear. The aide’s comments were not picked up by Romney’s lapel microphone, but Romney himself could be heard murmuring, “So there are legal Latinos? In America? Ok…ok…Fine.”
“This interview is over,” he told Wolf Blitzer, then turned to the camera.
“Vota por Romney!” he said with a wide smile. “Me encanta los latinos.”
- Rush Limbaugh On Wolf Blitzer’s NAACP Commentary: ‘He’s Auditioning For Fox’ (mediaite.com)
- NCLR 2012 Convention Latino Activists Give Obama Huge Lead Over Romney (huffingtonpost.com)
- Wolf Blitzer Blasts President Obama for Being NAACP ‘No-Show’: ‘Romney Did the Right Thing. . . . The President Did Not.’ (nationalreview.com)
- Geraldo Rivera: Mitt Romney ‘Wouldn’t Even Let [Latinos] In His Apartment’ (mediaite.com)
- Rep. Wasserman Schultz defends Obama on economy; confident about black, Latino vote (foxnews.com)
- Romney’s immigration record haunts him (thehill.com)
- Arizona Immigration Activists Mobilize Latino Vote (npr.org)
- Latino growth not fully felt at voting booth (mercurynews.com)
- REVIEWS: Wolf Blitzer Blasts President Obama for Being NAACP ‘No-Show’: ‘Romney Did the Right… (pjmedia.com)
- NCLR 2012: Joe Biden Paints Bleak Picture Of Romney Presidency For Latinos (theobamacrat.com)
White Family Moves To Town
GLENCOE, IL—Shock, outrage and fear were just some of the emotions that failed to sweep through this affluent Chicago suburb Monday, when word got out among residents that a white family had moved to town over the weekend.
The Hansons, who recently moved to the white suburb of Glencoe, IL.
Challenging none of the close-knit community’s long-held beliefs and traditions, maxillofacial surgeon Bill Hanson, his wife Marge, and children Kevin and Sue are the first Caucasians to relocate to Glencoe in more than two days.
“I’ll admit, I was concerned at first,” said longtime Glencoe resident and neighborhood-watch president Linda Brubaker, 50. “I thought, how will having a white family move here affect property values? Then I realized it wouldn’t at all.”
“After all,” Brubaker added, “once I looked beneath the surface, I realized that this new family of white people isn’t really so different from my own white family. Come to think of it, they’re pretty much the same on the surface, as well.”
Brubaker wasn’t the only local to have concerns. Many openly questioned the Hansons’ ability to fit in. But their trepidation vanished upon seeing that the Hansons were much like, if not exactly like, themselves, regardless of—indeed, because of—the color of their skin.
“You know what they say about white people,” insurance agent Jack Lundegard said. “They drive sensible cars, they bake things, they’re always noodling about doing yardwork—all those stereotypes. But then I took a look at the man in the mirror, and I realized, ‘Hey, I’m not so unlike that myself.’”
Area investment banker Harold Boyce agreed: “I’ve got nothing against whites. Some of my best friends are white,” Boyce said. “Actually, I guess they all are.”
Although Bill and Marge Hanson privately harbored doubts about the move, they quickly discovered that the nearly identical sociocultural background they shared with the people of Glencoe proved not to be a handicap, but an asset, allowing them to offer something familiar to their unfamiliar new neighbors.
“I did have some fears about the kids’ ability to blend in and make friends with the other kids at their new school,” Marge said. “But luckily, their classmates were very open-minded about meeting new people of the same race. In no time at all, their peers accepted them as white kids just like themselves.”
Though 10-year-old Kevin came from a different white neighborhood than his new classmates, he was soon invited to join the Glencoe junior soccer league. The experience has turned out to be enriching for all involved, giving Kevin and his fellow white children the opportunity to work together as a team, regardless of their lack of differences.
Thirteen-year-old Sue had a harder time adjusting. The day she arrived in Glencoe, she cried for hours, saying she missed her white friends back in Bloomfield Hills, MI. But within a few days, she began to adjust.
“I think it’s helped Sue to be around other white kids,” said Dana Berner, leader of Sue’s new Girl Scout troop. “Moving is never easy, but it’s lots easier when the new people are just like you.”
The children’s teachers say they are already fitting in at school and doing just as well, socially and academically, as their new white peers. “I think having strong white role models in their surroundings has helped foster a sense of belonging,” said Glencoe Middle School guidance counselor Tom Luchs. “I can identify with them, coming from a white background myself.”
Perhaps the situation was best summarized by the Hansons’ new next-door neighbor, Peggy Schukal, who has become fast friends with the Hansons despite their racial similarities.
“When I heard who would be moving next door, I thought to myself, ‘Hanson? Isn’t that a Swedish name?’ It sounded sort of Scandinavian to me,” Schukal said. “But now I know that there’s no reason to judge people by such arbitrary categories. To me, the Hansons, and for that matter everyone living here in Glencoe, are more than just German-Americans, Anglo-Americans, Italian-Americans, or even Swedish-Americans. What’s important is to see past all that and realize that, deep down, we’re all just white Americans.”
Schukal admitted that she was initially rattled by the notion that her 11-year-old daughter Sandra could one day end up dating the Hansons’ son. But upon realizing that Kevin is a well-behaved, college-bound young man from a well-to-do family, her fears vanished.
“We here in Glencoe are very open about including all different types in our community,” said Fred Schukal, a dentist and Bill Hanson’s new golf partner. “To be honest, it really doesn’t matter to us what part of Europe you’re originally from. As the Hansons’ experience here shows, there’s room in Glencoe for every shade of Caucasian in God’s white rainbow.”
Community leaders are pleased that the Hansons’ arrival has been trouble-free.
“I’m both pleased and relieved to say that having this new white family in town, at least so far, hasn’t caused a single problem,” Glencoe police chief Wayne Girardeau said. “Glencoe can be proudly held up as a model to other suburban communities across America that would like to integrate more whites, but are afraid it wouldn’t work out.”
- Moving To New City To Solve All Of Area Man’s Problems | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Area Man Lives Vicariously Through Son’s Bully | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Coverage of the Denny Hanson story (postbulletin.typepad.com)
- The Racism of Pauline Hanson and Today Tonight (benpeek.livejournal.com)
- Monster fire terrorizes a Colorado city (cnn.com)
- U.S. Facing Helium Shortage | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source | American Voices (mbcalyn.com)
- Supreme Court Upholds Bill Of Rights In 5-4 Decision | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Year Of Law School Now Mandatory For Nation’s 25-Year-Olds | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Hanson made a lasting impact (postbulletin.typepad.com)
- Hero Woman Changes In Front Of Open Window | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
America needs much bigger, bolder immigration reform—for low-skilled workers, not just supergeniuses—to boost the economy.
Latino farmhands harvest strawberries in Carlsbad, Calif.
Last week, the Obama administration reignited the immigration debate with a modest effort to accomplish some of the goals of the DREAM legislation that’s languished in Congress for over a year. But while the administration’s decision to suspend deportations of certain young illegal immigrants is a huge deal for the people directly impacted, his order affects a very small number of people. It is more a political gesture than a game-changing economic policy, which is too bad, because broader immigration reform—aimed explicitly at allowing more people to come here voluntarily and work, rather than at “securing the border”—remains one of the best things we can do to bolster economic growth in both the short and long terms.
Among those who recognize this, it’s become fashionable to focus on the narrow case for immigration of high-skilled workers. Adam Ozimek and Noah Smith recently wrote a wonkypiece on this theme for the , and Tim Fernholz delivered a more whimsical take for Reuters. But while the case for high-skilled immigrants is strong, and the desire to take the focus off the culturally freighted topic of migration from Latin America politically understandable, an excessive focus on the idea of importing supergeniuses and talented engineers tends to obscure the fact that essentially any able-bodied, hard-working migrant is good for the American economy.
It’s not just the doctors and the Google co-founders. Those who mop floors and cook tacos also serve.
That’s because different “factors of production”—including unskilled labor—are largely complementary. This can be most clearly seen in agriculture. Some land in America is farmed, most is not. Much of the land is only profitable to cultivate at a wage level that few American workers find appealing. When we cut off the flow of migrant farm workers, that doesn’t magically create high-paying jobs for Americans; it leads in the short term to crops rotting in the fields and in the long term to less land being cultivated.
The land and the unskilled labor, in other words, are complements. More unskilled labor would mean more cultivated land. That would mean more agricultural output and more jobs for people who manufacture farm equipment, build food-processing facilities, or provide accounting or legal services to agricultural firms.
America has historically benefitted from the immigration of the occasional genius scientist, but our history is completely impossible to imagine without the droves of ordinary folks who came here to till the land. Attempting to hoard those natural resources for a small group of native-born citizens would have made the country poorer, not richer, by making it impossible to actually use them effectively.
The same dynamic applies outside of farming. For people to reach their full potential, they often need plenty of other people around. An increase in the supply of busboys and dishwashers, for example, creates more opportunities for aspiring chefs and sommeliers as well as for the manufacture and installation of kitchen equipment. Things that don’t even count as skills in a community with no immigrants—the ability to speak English fluently, for example—become at least a little valuable when migrants arrive, creating positions for bartenders and hostesses who need skills immigrants lack.
Meanwhile, in an economy where most people are employed providing services to other people, the availability of extra workers makes it easier for people to specialize and work productively.
Immigration skeptics often act as if there’s some fixed pool of jobs that we compete for. But it’s obvious that in a world without immigrant housecleaners, we wouldn’t have an equal number of much-higher-paid native-born maids. What we’d have is less housecleaning being done on a market basis and more being done as unpaid work at home. For many middle-class families that would be pure waste. Time spent cleaning the toilet that could be spent on higher-value labor, on leisure, or on quality time with friends and family.
Talking about the broad social benefits of low-paid domestic labor makes people uncomfortable, but it’s crucial to recognize that by far the largest benefits of immigration accrue to the immigrants themselves, who earn vastly higher wages by relocating. These benefits are far larger than any foreign aid program, but they’re not just charity. In an interconnected world, when foreign-born people increase their earnings, they increase their demand for American-made products. If Haiti’s population experienced a five-fold increase in incomes, we’d sell more cars and airplanes to Haitians and more Haitian tourists would visit our shores. When Haitians experience a five-fold increase in income by physically relocating to the United States, the exact same dynamic takes hold, except with an even wider range of services that native-born Americans can now sell to the newly enriched migrants.
Much the same applies to the large number of otherwise law-abiding migrants who already came here without permission. Granting temporary work permits to a young sub-set of this population is a good start. But kicking out the many people who are ineligible for Obama’s program either because they were over the age of 17 when they came or because they’re over the age of 30 now does the overall economy no good. By contrast, creating a path to legal status and legitimate work bolsters immigrants’ earning power and contributes more in terms of tax dollars, production, and consumption. Meanwhile border-control and immigration-enforcement resources could be better spent on targeting actual criminals rather than job-seekers. The politics are fraught, but bigger, bolder immigration reform aimed at leveraging America’s continued desirability as a destination ought to be a major part of our strategy for economic growth.
- Immigration Edict – Not As ‘Advertised’ (Much Worse) (righttruth.typepad.com)
- Barack Obama promises Latino leaders he will push for immigration reform (guardian.co.uk)
- After Quashing DREAM Act, Boehner Knocks Obama For Quashing DREAM Act (tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com)
- Obama swipes Romney for threat to veto immigration DREAM Act (thehill.com)
- Obama Takes Message To Latino Leaders (huffingtonpost.com)
- Obama defends directive as he challenges Congress (mysanantonio.com)
- Marco Rubio’s DREAM Act plan might be dead this year (miamiherald.com)
- Romney offers his own plan for immigration (mysanantonio.com)
- Obama slams Romney on immigration (salon.com)
- FACT CHECK: Republicans Continue To Do Nothing On Immigration Reform (thinkprogress.org)
Romney’s Immigration Dance Is Risky, Too
By Matt Taylor
June 21, 2012
While it appears to be firing up Hispanic voters and making Democrats more comfortable with the president’s re-election campaign strategy, Barack Obama’s Friday immigration gambit is generally regarded as risky. It could help Mitt Romney lock down the restive Republican base, and GOP strategists tell me it might help them pick off blue collar Democrats in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.
But Mitt Romney’s refusal to stake out a clear position on the DREAM Act, an effort to keep the conservatives in his party outraged by illegal immigration happy, is itself a risky bet: that he’ll do so well among white voters that it won’t matter how badly Obama wallops him among Hispanics.
“The Romney campaign is making a bet that they can survive doing so poorly among that demographic group,” said John Weaver, the Republican strategist behind John McCain’s 2000 campaign and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s abortive effort this time around. “They’ve bet the ranch that Romney can win just based on a recovery that’s limping along.”
If the economy improves before election day, letting Obama outflank them on immigration—and dominate even more than he would have otherwise among Hispanic voters—could come back to bite Republicans. Weaver, ever the party apostate, says that if the GOP wakes up to defeat on Nov. 7, it might bring about the soul searching he and other moderates have been clamoring for for some time now.
“You can’t ignore the fastest growing market in the country,” Weaver said. “That’s the bet they’ve made, and given the position they took in 2008 and the primary process this time, I can understand it. But it is high risk for the party.”
- Obama And Romney Face Off On Immigration (huffingtonpost.com)
- Romney Criticizes Obama for Lack of Immigration Leadership – Businessweek (businessweek.com)
- The Caucus: Romney Outlines Approach to Immigration in Speech to Latino Officials (thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Romney, possible VP picks meet in Utah – msnbc.com (video.msnbc.msn.com)
- Romney: I’ll tackle immigration in ‘civil’ manner (kansascity.com)
- Romney slams Obama at Hispanic conference in Orlando – MiamiHerald.com (miamiherald.com)
- Romney Campaign Cuts Short Conference Call With Reporters When Immigration Questions Come Up (alan.com)
- Immigration Suddenly Roiling Presidential Contest (huffingtonpost.com)
- Mitt Romney Doesn’t Appear to Know What Mitt Romney’s Stance on Immigration Should Be (slog.thestranger.com)
- Mitt Romney plans to talk economy, immigration before Latino group Thursday (boston.com)