Save Immigrants From Envy: Lock Them Out!

Gawker mocks The Atlantic for holding a party in which regular schlubs were segregated from brilliant and stimulating guests like Arianna Huffington. Mickey Kaus sees a public policy lesson:

You can imagine the party planners' thought process: We want to have this exclusive witty cocktail party--but we also want to do something for everyone else. Hey, we'll let them come and watch! That's better than nothing, right? Wrong! Stark, in-your-face snobbish social inegalitarianism makes everyone unhappy--the favored few no less than the masses. At least in this country. At least Atlantic types. ...

Most obvious public policy application of the Atlantic Party Parable: Guest-workers! Many U.S. employers, generally allied with Republicans, want to import unskilled workers and then ship them away after a few years. Atlantic moral: Everyone invited to the party gets to party. For legal guest workers, there should be a path to citizenship...

I'm not sure that the experience of being a guest worker from a developing country is terribly akin to the experience of being at a cocktail party without access to Moby, but no matter. The relevant alternative to the tiered party system, as Kaus recognizes, is a party where non-celebrities are not invited. The only relevant, politically feasible alternative to a guest worker program is to keep the supply of visas for low-skill workers as limited as it currently is.

Kaus seems to feel that the second-tier guests would have been better off not being invited, and guest workers would be better off if not given the chance to immigrate on limited terms. Perhaps he is right. So here is a wacky idea: Let the people involved, rather than bloggers, express their preferences. Did the guests stay at the party even though they had to admire the likes of Mike Bloomberg from afar? Do hundreds of thousands of people prefer being guest workers in Singapore to staying in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and India? It would appear that some people are willing to endure some amount of legal and social inegalitarianism for improvements in absolute wellbeing. Indeed, it would appear that some people are willing to endure social inegalitarianism for access to an open bar. This is not a promising line of argument for people who think being a second-class citizen in the United States is just obviously worse than being a first-class citizen in Chad.

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  • Greg||

    Clearly a lightweight like Howley is unaware of the ties the Atlantic has with the MexicanGovernment. If I were to debate her on national television, she would burst into flames within seconds.

  • ed||

    I got a little bit dizzy reading this one.

  • thoreau||

    I'd pay extra to be denied access to Moby and Michael Bloomberg.

  • ||

    Mickey Kaus has apparently never heard of a VIP room, but then again he gives Douglas Feith a good run as the dumbest fucking guy on the planet.

  • ||

    I know where I would've had to sit. I'm unaware of the significance of Moby.

  • ||

    Most obvious public policy application of the Atlantic Party Parable: Guest-workers!

    Uhhh, no. It doesn't get more apples and oranges than this. Getting the chance to schooze with someone who couldn't care less about you or who you are has absolutely nothing in common with trying to earn a living. Unless your job is professional schmoozer.

  • ||

    The idea that there should only be one way to come to this country - immigration that leads to citizenship - is the biggest stumbling block to meaningful immigration reform.

    My understanding, anecdotal though it is, is that the Mexicans who come here illegally come here to work, with the intention of going back home to their families. Citizenship is just a means for them, a way to be secure here and not worry about the threat of deportation. Otherwise, they could take it or leave it.

    In fact, tough enforcement exacerbates many of the problems we associate with illegal immigration. If Mexican men could easily come and go, they would be a lot less likely to bring their families here. That means fewer babies to deliver, kids to educate, etc.

    I would like to see a program where Mexican (and Canadian) citizens could get bonded and insured, after a background and health check, in their native counties. If they pass, they would get a card to let them come and go freely. Make it cost $2,000 (or so) and include emergency insurance.

  • ||

    I'm sorry, but I'd be very careful before having a guest worker system or tiered citizenship. Its been tried in places like Germany and Dubai and it just leads to resentment on the part of the "guests" and makes it much harder to integrate into society.

  • ||

    Why would anyone expect less than this from the elitist Atlantic?

  • TLB||

    Look, even I have to admit defeat some times, and this is one of those times: Howley has really hit it on the head here.

    In fact, I'm sending this essay to the major ClothingAndShoeware producers so they can repurpose it into an essay supporting child labor. Don't worry: I CC'ed the Chinese government too in case some nosy reporters start raising questions about those reeducation camps. Why, I bet we could even get Larry Craig or Ted Kennedy to read it into the CongressionalRecord in an attempt to disabolish child labor and indentured servitude.

    Of course, abolishing those practices is one of those nasty side-effects of asking the people on the receiving end of corporatist policies what they think, but what they want can be ignored.

    For more on Howley, compare this:

    reason.com/blog/show/121987.html

    with this:

    house.gov/paul/tst/tst2006/tst103006.htm

  • ||

    "I'm sorry, but I'd be very careful before having a guest worker system or tiered citizenship."

    Perhaps I am missing a snark or sarcasm, but isn't this the point of the post?

  • ||

    My God, I'm agreeing with TheLoneWhacker.

  • ||

    TLB: How wise of you to admit defeat. You should note that your rambling explanation of defeat neither supports your concession nor negates it sufficiently to be seen as irony, sarcasm or humor.

    Cesar: I'm not sure how TLB addresses the idea that, "It would appear that some people are willing to endure some amount of legal and social inegalitarianism for improvements in absolute wellbeing."

  • Lurker247||

    Do the Reason writers have a daily pool for the person who's able to make the most strained connection between a non-story and a political issue of significance to libertarians?

  • ||

    I think that pool goes to Mickey Klaus, no?

  • ||

    Man, even Mukasey, hell even Torquemada, would object to the torture of the metaphors presented in this post and the kausfiles link.

  • Episiarch||

    Do the Reason writers have a daily pool for the person who's able to make the most strained connection between a non-story and a political issue of significance to libertarians?

    Yes.

  • ||

    Kaus is just bitter he's not considered A-list enough to hang with Moby. Oh no, people aren't completely equal? What does Kaus want, Soviet style equality?

    Oh and to his point that segregation based on money is less noxious than celebrity, doesn't he realize that having celebrities at an event has monetary value. They many not pay for being there, but being able to say "fill in the blank" celebrity was there bring lots of free press. Look at the NYC Marathon and Katie Holmes. I'm sure he's being intentionally obtuse* because no LA based writer (that grew up in Beverly Hills, no less) wouldn't know that star power = money.

    * Actually, he frequently defends Ann Coulter, so I'm probably wrong on this.

  • R C Dean||

    it just leads to resentment on the part of the "guests" and makes it much harder to integrate into society.

    Isn't the whole point of guest workers that they are not citizens and will not become citizens? If so, why do they need to integrate into society?

  • ||

    This is not a promising line of argument for people who think being a second-class citizen in the United States is just obviously worse than being a first-class citizen in Chad.

    Are there any such people?

    I've heard a lot people denounce the guest worker policy on the grounds of opposition to inequality. I haven't heard any of them them propose an end to immigration in its stead.

  • ||

    Remember when Larry King used to have a weekly column in USA Today which was a bunch of random words and semi-celebrities' names separted by a bushel basket full of ellipses?

    Mickey Kaus sure remembers those columns, by God!

  • ||

    Isn't the whole point of guest workers that they are not citizens and will not become citizens? If so, why do they need to integrate into society?

    That makes sense for the transient segment of illegal immigrants. However, for people who wish to immigrate here and and start a new life in our society, the point is quite different, and trying to squeeze them into guest-worker status, like the Germans did, is likely to lead to exactly the problem Kaus describes.

  • ed||

    Larry King used to have a weekly column in USA Today which was a bunch of random words and semi-celebrities' names separted by a bushel basket full of ellipses

    Oddly, that describes his television work as well.

  • ||

    Thoreau wins the thread.

    This is not a promising line of argument for people who think being a second-class citizen in the United States is just obviously worse than being a first-class citizen in Chad.

    Woof. Good post, I guess, but reading it felt like watching food move through the small intestine.

  • ||

    Who is this guy Chad anyway?

  • ||

    Who is this guy Chad anyway?

    Hier?

  • Mike Laursen||

    Mickey Kaus has apparently never heard of a VIP room

    Well, there you go! The Marketing Department solution to the immigration problem! We let anybody who can fill out a form become a U.S. Citizen and add them to our mailing list. But they have to qualify for the CitizenPlus™ Rewards Club to actually live here. :-\

  • Mike Laursen||

    That couldn't have been written by LoneWhacko. He spelled ChineseGovernment incorrectly.

  • ||

    I would like to see a program where Mexican (and Canadian) citizens could get bonded and insured, after a background and health check, in their native counties. If they pass, they would get a card to let them come and go freely. Make it cost $2,000 (or so) and include emergency insurance.

    And I'd like to see a program that made you endure the same or get booted out of the US as well. After all, what difference is there between you and them other than a purely arbitrary place of birth which you had absolutely nothing to do with?

    Here's an idea - treat them like they are an equal human being to yourself. Want a criminal background check - fine. If you or I have a criminal background in the US it is likely on our record so that is equal treatment. But all that other crap is nonsense. Let us all come and go freely.

  • ||

    Look, even I have to admit defeat some times

    Well, now isn't that big of you.

    But look, I understand that if you had to admit your defeat every time it would get quite tedious and tiring, so you are right to limit your admissions to but a small percentage of your defeats.

  • ||

    Do the Reason writers have a daily pool for the person who's able to make the most strained connection between a non-story and a political issue of significance to libertarians?

    Lurker (and Episiarch), since you didn't apparently bother to read the post, it was Mickey Kaus who made the connection, and Kerry Howley who essentially pointed out how it was a rather strained connection when she responded to Mickey's claim by saying:

    I'm not sure that the experience of being a guest worker from a developing country is terribly akin to the experience of being at a cocktail party without access to Moby, but no matter.



    But hey, don't let the facts get in the way of taking your shot. What fun would that be?

  • Immigration Realist||

    Are you INSANE brian? You want the United States to become MEXICO? Mexico is a poor, crime, disease and poverty ridden THIRD WOLRD HELL HOLE and theres a REASON why it is-it has lots of "DIVERSITY!" HISPANICS are more likely to be CRIMINALS. You can't be that BLIND brian, haven't u ever read THE BELL CURVE, or IQ AND THE WEALTH OF NATIONS?

    If everyone on this forum thinks diversity is so GREAT, why don't you all marry mexicans so we can make ourselves a minority OVERNIGHT?

  • R C Dean||

    After all, what difference is there between you and them other than a purely arbitrary place of birth which you had absolutely nothing to do with?

    So, anyone should be able to hop a plane to the US, vote in our elections, and apply for Social Security?

  • ||

    You know, the best thing about a post (such as that of "Immigration Fabulist") that has lots of words in all caps is that I can save time by dismissing its content without even having to read it. I feel pretty confident that anyone with anything reasonable or thoughtful to say on a subject never uses all caps for more than one (if any) word in a comment. If you have to resort essentially to yelling to get your point across, chances are you don't have one.

  • ||

    So, anyone should be able to hop a plane to the US, vote in our elections, and apply for Social Security?

    Well, if they come here with the intent to reside in the US as their permanent home, which I presume is a standard that would also apply to you and I, then yes. Perhaps you'd require some evidence of that intention, like working or buying / renting a permanent residence. I'd probably be ok with some (not egregiously long) minimum residency requirement as evidence as well, but other than that, sure.

  • ||

    "So, anyone should be able to hop a plane to the US, vote in our elections, and apply for Social Security?"

    While this may imply a valid counterpoint, it is not an answer to the question.

  • ||

    Here's an idea - treat them like they are an equal human being to yourself. Want a criminal background check - fine. If you or I have a criminal background in the US it is likely on our record so that is equal treatment. But all that other crap is nonsense. Let us all come and go freely.

    Brian,

    Ideally, I would like to see anyone who wants to come to the US free to do so, and let business, employers, and landlords act as gatekeepers. I don't see that happening any time soon, and I don't want it to happen as long as I'm forced to pay for other's healthcare and education, etc.

    Lot's of folks "endure" getting bonded and get background checks for their jobs. It would be a big step up from paying a coyote to smuggle you across the border in the back of a semi. It might also make a more open border palatable to the closed border types.

    So until our blessed anarchy comes, what restrictions do you see on who can and cannot come here? You said "let us all come and go freely", then caved on criminal background checks. What can we do now to let the folks that want to come here and work do so?

  • TLB||

    This news report just crossed the wires. Oddly enough, it not only mentions Reason, it involves this thread.

  • Mike Laursen||

    If everyone on this forum thinks diversity is so GREAT, why don't you all marry mexicans so we can make ourselves a minority OVERNIGHT?

    Dude, are you not aware of the existence of Selma Hayek, and all of the babes on Telemundo and Univision? You may want to reconsider your position on intermarriage.

  • ||

    I get nervous when we start messing around with who is and is not a citizen. My biggest issue with Ron Paul is that he wants to amend the constitution so that being born here does not automatically make you a citizen. I don't want to wake up some day and face deportation because I don't obey happily enough.

    Citizenship only needs to be defined to know who gets to vote, and who gets the spoils. Like Brian, I think that residency might be a good measure for voting. This should only come after government stops giving away my stuff.

  • ||

    then caved on criminal background checks.

    I didn't cave on anything - I said that US citizens are subject to the same treatment right now because our records are already here, so it is essentially equivalent treatment.

    As for what "we" can do, well anything that "we" can do now to people already here. Nobody has any "right" to tell others who they can and cannot associate with. As for who is eligible for current benefits, as I mentioned above, anyone with the intent to live here as his permanent home. I'd be willing to "cave" if you will on something that helps provide evidence of that intent, as stated above in reply to R C Dean.

    I don't want it to happen as long as I'm forced to pay for other's healthcare and education, etc.

    So you're answer for too much government is... more government - great... No thanks, I'd rather take any chance to get less government. Besides, I don't buy any of the nonsense about how we couldn't afford, given our benefits, to allow everyone to come here who wants to. This is nonsense as the vast majority who come here work, and work hard. They would be paying taxes (too much in my mind) just like the rest of us, so if you can tolerate being forced to pay for your American born neighbor's health-care what's the difference? If you can't, that's great, but it has nothing to do with the arbitrary distinction you want to draw based on where someone happened to be born.

  • ||

    Brian, so you're happy with the way things are right now? Mexicans can continue to sneak in, often under very dangerous conditions, be poorly treated with no legal recourse and be subject to deportation any time they are unlucky enough to cross the wrong person? Your solution is to do nothing? Or perhaps you will hire them all your self!

    Saying "less government" is not a solution.

    US citizens are not subject to criminal checks to live here; why would you so limit others? By what right? Why do you want to empower government that way? I thought you wanted less government.

    I don't want to support anyone with my tax dollars, native or not. Immigration into the US sucks, in large part because citizenship is seen as the only legal end to coming here. I would like for people to be free to come here for other reasons.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Trey, el perfecto es enemigo de lo bueno.

  • ||

    Howley,

    That was nearly unreadable. I am not sure I know what you said, not that it matters.

  • ||

    so if you can tolerate being forced to pay for your American born neighbor's health-care what's the difference?



    Brian, follow along, it is jsut simple arithmetic.

    Let A = the cost of your neighbor's health-care. Assume that A is greater than zero.

    Let B = the cost of illegal immigrant's health-care. Assume that B is greather than zero, and that the marginal cost of B is equal to A's marginal cost.

    Total cost after open borders = A + B

    If your cost burden today is A, then the difference is B. Yes, your cost will go up by B dollars.

    Next stupid question, please?

  • ||

    If you can't, that's great, but it has nothing to do with the arbitrary distinction you want to draw based on where someone happened to be born.



    I guess this pick-on-Brian day.

    Why not just pick up the tab for healthcare for everybody outside the borders of the US. I mean, why should we arbitrarily require that they live on the US side of the arbitrary border?

    What the heck, why should we arbitrarily limit it to healthcare? For God's sake, won't somebody think of the hungry children?

  • ||

    I have a better suggestion--several, in fact:

    1) Get rid of the Atlantic;
    2) Get rid of Mickey Kaus;
    3) Get rid of Arianna Huffington;
    4) Get rid of the guest worker program and replace it with greatly expanded opportunities for legal immigration.

  • ||

    wayne,

    Your cost is going to A+B anyway, regardless of the law, because the government isn't going to be able to stop immigration any more than it was able to stop the sale of alcohol.

  • ||

    wayne,

    Those of us in the really stupid simplification club salute you. Just because Brian Courts mentioned immigrants paying taxes and becoming a part of the insurance pool doesn't mean we have to put it in our absurdly simplified arithmetic. Once we start putting both sides of the equation in our analysis, we may arrive at a truth that is at odds with our preconceived notions. Then we wouldn't have a really stupid simplification club, would we?

  • ||

    "Your cost is going to A+B anyway, regardless of the law, because the government isn't going to be able to stop immigration any more than it was able to stop the sale of alcohol."

    Joe, you are correct. I don't like it, but you are correct.

  • ||

    The cost could be A+B-C where C is a reduction in expense by spreading the risk out over a greater pool, but then again C could also be greater government waste (waste rising as programs grow in size).

  • ||

    Legal immigrants, who can operate more freely in the job market and society in general, are going to earn more money and pay higher taxes than their paperwork-deprived brethren, which would also tend to even out that equation a bit.

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