'Ending Poverty' One Deportation at a Time

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Robert Samuelson is disappointed with the level of debate among the presidential candidates thus far. "Let's imagine what a candidate inoculated with truth serum might say," he writes. Thus, we get one of those sad columns where the pundit in question tells us what he would say were Americans enlightened enough to nominate him, and then explains that he'll never be nominated because he is just so goshdarn candid. Here's a nice bit of straight talk:

"Finally, let's discuss poverty. Everyone's against it, but hardly anyone admits that most of the increase in the past 15 years reflects immigration—new immigrants or children of recent immigrants. Unless we stop poor people from coming across our Southern border, legally and illegally, we won't reduce poverty."

The last line is nonsensical as stated, but I assume Samuelson meant to say "won't reduce the rate of poverty in the United States." So, to paraphrase our truth-teller: If you let more poor people into the United States, there will be more poor people in the United States. Well, yeah. But why should we care about the aggregate poverty rate as opposed to the well-being of the individuals within the aggregate? The rate tells us nothing about the average well-being of those Americans who were here before the migration takes place, and nothing about how much better off those immigrants are for having migrated. By Samuelson's logic, we should deny poor immigrants entry even if they make natives appreciably better off, because they'll affect a statistic he is oddly preoccupied with.

I tend to assume that people who tout this talking point are just confused, but it's worth considering the implicit worldview of someone who repeatedly states this kind of thing. The goal here has nothing to do with poverty alleviation; we already know that the quickest way to reduce poverty is to open labor markets. Rather, the goal is to reduce the number of people beneath a particular income level within a particular spatial area. To what end, I have no idea. But if that's what we're aiming at, why not just deport the poor?

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  1. Obviously Howley’s ties to the MexicanGovernment, which I write about here, are too difficult for “Reason” posters to look up.

  2. But if that’s what we’re aiming at, why not just deport the poor?

    You’re just soft, Kerry. Jello Biafra called this one years ago.

    The sun beams down on a brand new day
    No more welfare tax to pay
    Unsightly slums gone up in flashing light
    Jobless millions whisked away
    At last we have more room to play
    All systems go to kill the poor tonight

  3. PayAttention ToMe!

    PayAttention ToMe!

    SomeBody, for God’sSake, PayAttention ToMe!

  4. Or we could just kill the poor in their own native lands, which would reduce their own countries’ poverty rates, right?

    Everyone wins.

  5. Deportation is so wasteful. What we need is the good old days of using the poor as cannon fodder and starving, flea-bitten colonists.

  6. drawnasunder, I like the way you think!

  7. Uh, Dr. T, maybe you should check “LoneWacko”‘s links.

  8. As we used to say in college, a whole slew of Harvard students could transfer to MIT and it would lower the average IQ of both schools.

  9. There’s always the King Louis solution . . .

    “They are my people! I am their Sovereign! I love them! PULL!!!”

  10. Overpopulation, congestion, urban sprawl, pollution, environmental damage, crime, diminishing resources, Diseases, lack of affordable housing, depressed wages, underground economic, fraudulent documents, identity theft, tax evasion, soaring crime rate, increased tax burdens, overcrowded schools, uneducated children, overcrowded prisons, inadequate health care, the balkanization of our communities and a large and growing population with loyalty to other Nations. Just read this disturbing revelation of costs, that our government skims from our paycheck to pay an illegal Paul. (www.eagleforum.org/sources) Social Security theft has been attributed to years of emotional pain by innocent victims. The list of stolen ID’s of soldiers abroad, children and vulnerable old people. Even the deceased have not remained untouched.
    Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is expected to try to add an amnesty for illegal-alien agricultural workers to the Iraq supplemental spending bill when that bill is marked up today in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
    In addition, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is using strong-arm tactics against anti-illegal-immigration Democrats in an effort to kill the SAVE Act (H.R. 4088) for the year. North Carolina Democrat Heath Shuler’s SAVE Act is an incredible threat to the unscrupulous businesses of America who insist on illegal labor to hold down their labor costs. Most business owners are not like that, but the outlaw businesses have the ear of Speaker Pelosi.

  11. Unless we stop poor people from coming across our Southern border, legally and illegally, we won’t reduce poverty.”

    Heh.

    American poverty bad. Non-American poverty good.

    To what end, I have no idea. But if that’s what we’re aiming at, why not just deport the poor?

    Bwahahahaha! Brilliant Kerry.

  12. blah blah blah ILLIGULS blah blah blah

    Fuck you, I like burritos.

  13. First, I’d like to thank Reason’s commenters for engaging in adhoms and the like and thereby helping me to discredit this site.

    Second, this post is yet more economic illiteracy from Kerry Howley. There are huge costs – including of the non-fiscal variety – from the MassiveImmigration that Reason supports. Yet, Howley is too much of a hack to even acknowledge those costs, assuming she could understand them in the first place.

    She also doesn’t seem to understand that there are billions of poor people around the world, and we can’t “help” all of them by allowing them to come here, especially since that actually hurts their countries and our country and is thus bad and completely ineffective public policy.

    Reason isn’t convincing anyone with such incredibly childlike arguments.

  14. Lonewacko and his one-man crusade to bring down Reason Magazine…

  15. It’s not an ad hominem when someone holds up a mirror to the object of derision, and everyone busts a gut laughing.

    Besides, we’ve already dissected your ideas (that was a quick afternoon) and discarded like them so much rotted offal – what’s left but making fun of you?

  16. There are huge costs – including of the non-fiscal variety – from the MassiveImmigration that Reason supports. Yet, Howley is too much of a hack to even acknowledge those costs, assuming she could understand them in the first place.

    Lonewacko,

    You incessantly make this claim, yet you yourself in your parade of information never acknowledge the benefits of free migration.

    People who support open borders — or quota-free immigration, if you like — take that position because they believe the benefits are greater than the costs. Of course they will accent the benefits when they have the opportunity, just as you accent the costs when you have the opportunity or even when you don’t have the opportunity.

  17. Reason isn’t convincing anyone with such incredibly childlike arguments.

    Heh. Mote, plank, etc.

  18. Hmm, accuse one of ad hominem then launch into an ad hominem attack in the very next paragraph.

    You must be a graduate of the Ari Fleischer School of Debate and Rhetoric…

  19. There are huge costs – including of the non-fiscal variety – from the MassiveImmigration that Reason supports

    And huge benefits, esp. from legal immigration.

  20. I’d like to thank you all for continuing to prove the childlike nature of this site.

    Once again, I’d suggest that you read what I have written here and here for a description of Kerry Howley’s economic illiteracy.

  21. Lonewacko diplays almost all characteristics of Asperger syndrome. Please try to be a little more understanding of his condition, he’s a very special boy.

  22. This is a great example of how reason has it all over other libertarian institutions; instead of dry, formulaic “commentary” about how we Cannot Handle the Immigrants because of the “Welfare/Warfare State”, we get principled thinking, as demonstrated through supeior insight (“Indeed, why NOT just deport the poor if all you care about is the aggregate statistic?”)

    Well done, reason.

    Episiarch, are you trying to rickroll the thread? In LiberWebTopia, that carries a serious punishment, m’ boy.

  23. Libertarian Food Fight,

    I was trying but the overall point ended up being that people are so accustomed to and weary of LoneWacko that they didn’t even look long enough at my joke posts to realize it was me.

    Which is kind of funny, illustrating the irrelevance of the Lonely and Wacky one.

  24. Disappointing coming from Samuelson, who I find to be one of the few sober and non-hysterical economic pundits. I guess I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he did not necessarily mean we must keep out “poor” immigrants, but that we should recognize that immigration tends to skew the poverty rates.

  25. But why should we care about the aggregate poverty rate as opposed to the well-being of the individuals within the aggregate?

    It’s easier to measure aggregates. You can take a survey or a huge unwieldy database (social security records, tax returns, etc.) and get an educated guess about certain particulars.

    How can we quantify “the well-being of the individuals within the aggregate” in any meaningful way? This can be done with (1) longitudinal surveys, which are expensive, difficult, and rare. This can be done with (2) anecdotes, which make for exciting–but potentially misleading and unrepresentative–journalism. This can be done with (3) theory, but theories about people and what they do are difficult to test empirically.

    People like Mr. Samuelson care about aggregates because there isn’t a better, easier way to know what’s happening. That the rate of the poverty could be reduced by making everyone rich (which works if he isn’t talking about poverty lines calculated as a percentage of median/average income) or by making all of the poor disappear is a byproduct of our lack of omniscience.

  26. Lonewacko diplays almost all characteristics of Asperger syndrome. Please try to be a little more understanding of his condition, he’s a very special boy. tease him mercilessly and without reprieve, because it’s funnier.

  27. MikeP writes: You incessantly make this claim, yet you yourself in your parade of information never acknowledge the benefits of free migration.

    Actually, I have acknowledged those benefits, and listed some of the beneficiaries.

  28. Actually, I have acknowledged those benefits, and listed some of the beneficiaries.

    It seems pretty clear you consider these things costs.

    Nevermind the infantile thinking behind the post you link too. But good job trying to get a free ride on Reasons traffic.

  29. Kerry’s idea fails when you realize the extent of global poverty. the only thing her “solution” does is make americans as deperately poor as other parts of the world.

    people like her and wil wilkerson may as well admit that what they want is to come rob you of any wealth you have and distribute it to poorer people in other places, cause it would just make them feel good, i guess.

    plus, remember her last chart she put up about immigration? she had no clue what the chart meant or what the data being used to make the chart were. her analytical acumen is ok for a 9 year old, maybe.

  30. I tend to assume that people who tout this talking point are just confused, but it’s worth considering the implicit worldview of someone who repeatedly states this kind of thing.

    What if someone repeatedly states “this kind of thing” as a way of pointing our that they’re not that concerned if the US poverty rate/inequality rate goes up slightly, because the largest driver of it is a policy that’s making the global poverty rate/inequality rate go down? In other words, what if someone repeated states “this kind of thing” to argue that the US poverty rate is a flawed measure?

    It’s easily possible for the US poverty rate to go up even as everyone in the world is better off, including every American.

  31. the only thing her “solution” does is make americans as deperately poor as other parts of the world.

    Care to cite a mechanism by which this would happen?

    Even the apparently tautological “if you make Americans out of desperately poor people from other parts of the world, then those Americans will be as desperately poor as people from other parts of the world” fails because people are not going to move to a more expensive country only to be as desperately poor as they were in their cheaper home countries.

  32. But if that’s what we’re aiming at, why not just deport the poor?

    Jeebus, Kerry. Be careful what you write. Someone will take it seriously.

  33. Steve Verdon: the “infantile thinking” is coming from inside your blog.

    Perhaps you could ask smarter people to help explain this to you: if we had an open policy, stronger countries would simply fight over which parts of the U.S. they’d control. Mexico already has a great deal of PoliticalPower inside the U.S., and they’d move to consolidate that unless China muscled them out.

    Let me be very frank: “libertarian” “economists” are as great a threat to the U.S. as the ACLU, and the way to minimize the negative impacts of both is to completely discredit them and have an impact on their careers.

  34. “libertarian” “economists” are as great a threat to the U.S. as the ACLU

    Damning with faint worry?

  35. – I speak Spanish.

    – I graduated from college.

    – I hate taking care of my own kids and doing my own yard work.

    But even I am not totally sold on open borders and amnesty.

    If all the ambitious Mexicans move up here, who is going to be left to give Mexico’s elite the Ceaucescu treatment they so richly deserve?

  36. Perhaps you could ask smarter people to help explain this to you: if we had an open policy, stronger countries would simply fight over which parts of the U.S. they’d control. Mexico already has a great deal of PoliticalPower inside the U.S., and they’d move to consolidate that unless China muscled them out.

    Please, these delusional rantings are just simply sad to see. This idea that people would move here would prefer to return to living under their corrupt and/or oppressive government is…well it doesn’t pass the laugh test. People who risk their lives are secretly agents for the government of their country of origin. I thought this kind of nonsense went away when people grew up and realized Communism wasn’t monolithic, the Yellow Menace was stupid, and now you want to replace it with the Brown Menace? Aside from the brown stuff between your ears I see nothing to be worried about save perhaps our bloated welfare state.

    It’s easily possible for the US poverty rate to go up even as everyone in the world is better off, including every American.

    Shhhhhhh….don’t tell them this, it might cause them a headache.

    And whatever you do, do NOT tell them mechanization and automation destroy far more jobs that little brown/yellow people from third world countries.

  37. “if we had an open policy, stronger countries would simply fight over which parts of the U.S. they’d control.”

    Fight? I thought the pope would do one of those demarcation line thingys again?

  38. Steve Verdon continues to embarrass himself by failing to understand my point and by failing to understand everything involved in this issue.

    If we had an open policy, countries like China would obtain power through any means necessary. That doesn’t mean that everyone who comes here would be an agent, but many of those who are made community leaders would be. That would be the “soft” version. The “hard” version would be China just sending people here to colonize parts of the U.S. There’s nothing in our soil that would instantly convert them to U.S. values and, since their protector would be China and not the U.S. they’d simply do what China forces them to do, as China forces people to do things now.

    The current situation is a small version of the above, where Mexico has obtained PoliticalPower inside the U.S. and use it to push their agenda.

    Surely, if Steve Verdon knows anything about this issue he should be able to provide a couple examples of Mexican leaders threatening to use the power they have and similar.

    Over to you, Steve. Let’s see what you know about this subject. Can you name two examples?

  39. Hey locosoltero-

    ‘If we had an open policy’

    We *had* an open policy for the entire 19th century.

    Power was far more symetrically distributed in the world back then.

    And nobody took over.

    “Can you name two examples?”

    This makes no fuckin sense. Nobody here but you says that there are foreign powers exerting undue influence on the US.

  40. Also, g? l? f?ng ku?ng*,

    “The “hard” version would be China just sending people here to colonize parts of the U.S.”

    You seem to think there will be some replay of Euro colonialism over Native americans, Africans, Chinese, etc.

    But the difference is, the europeans had greater technology and political organization, as well as (in the case of north america) numbers. That is why age of empires actions were an unstoppable force.

    *babelfish via pinyin converter, who knows what this actually is

  41. By Samuelson’s logic, we should deny poor immigrants entry even if they make natives appreciably better off, because they’ll affect a statistic he is oddly preoccupied with.

    The same faulty logic leads town councils to make restrictive building codes. Unfortunately, Samuelson’s logic is mainstream on most town councils.

  42. Kolohe: your incoherent ramblings are entertaining, but foreign powers have actually indicated attempts to exert undue influence on our internal policies. You don’t know about it, I’m going to guess that Steve Verdon doesn’t know about it, but I do. And, what you fail to recognize is that Americans have both become fat ‘n’ happy, and they’ve also been cowed by the left; both of those make foreign powers obtaining power inside the U.S. much easier.

    So, I’d really like Steve Verdon to jump back in here and show us what he knows. I mean, if he opines about these issues, then he should be intimately familiar with everything involved, right? C’mon, Steve, show us what you know.

  43. Churchill’s mother was from a New York family. He still managed to be a loyal Brit. The December 1857 issue of the “Atlantic” had article in French, English, and German, yet it is still very pro-American. Let’s just triple the quotas and call it a day.

  44. Americans build brigdes to other countries by naturalizing new citizens, sending remittance, and trading with citizens of other countries. Let’s preserve those sources of American greatness.

  45. foreign powers have actually indicated attempts to exert undue influence on our internal policies.

    Provide a link, proof or some kind of evidence or FUCK OFF, you little fucking prick.

  46. But if that’s what we’re aiming at, why not just deport the poor?

    If you are referring to poor American citizens, the answer is “because it is illegal and besides, the definition of deport is ‘to send a person back to his home country’.

    If you are referring to poor people who are illegaly in the US, then the answer is, “good idea, let’s get on with deportations”.

  47. While I think Orange Line Special is a prick, the fact that when many immigrants become naturalized they tend to move the political orientation towards more government is a genuine problem. However, I think this is better solved by a commonsense approach to voting privileges that discards the fanatical devotion to “democracy” that pervades all parts of the political spectrum in this country.

  48. Three! That’s how many peels of laughter I got out of the comment from “economist”. Thanks.

    In any case, it’s now been 17 hours, and I’m going to assume that Steve Verdon has admitted he knows little about this subject and was just reflexively disagreeing for one reason or other. If he drops by, several people should ping me to this thread by clicking my name’s link several times over several days to let me know.

  49. or just laugh at you and then fucking ignore you, as usual.

    Either way.

  50. Bravo Howley. This may well be the first post involving illegal immigration that did not end with you calling someone a bigot, or implying such. Let’s see if you can start a trend.

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