State Fiscal Crisis

Derbyshire: You Can Trust Voters Unless They're Mexicans


Debryshire's first encounter with a true Mexican came while studying the American cricket derivative called "baseball."

Twas the night before Cinco; from barrio to 'burb, Mexifornians were stung by the barbs of The Derb. 

Having followed a trusted friend's advice that I "might enjoy" John Derbyshire's May 4 takedown of a recent Economist special report on California, I'm feeling like I've been rickrolled. 

Da Derb starts out well – as how can anybody not start out well, when opening the old urethra on one of these monocle-raising white papers from the pith-helmeted fancy lads at The Economist? I mentioned the magazine's California blow-out issue recently, but only in the context of an enthusiastic follow-on from the L.A. Times' Tim Rutten, a columnist with a palpitating passion for the powerfully perfumed prose perspicacities you can only get from our former (and future?) colonial overlords. Sample riff on a famous Warren Buffett line from The Economist's Andreas Kluth: "And each ebb during the three decades since Mr Brown's first reign has revealed California less dressed than before. Each flood then briefly restored its modesty. But this latest ebb has shown the state to be stark naked." That's it! That's precisely it! 

So Derbyshire's on solid ground in calling out Kluth for an article that attempts to explain the state's economic coma by airing politicians' regular list of pet peeves: term limits, direct democracy (via ballot initiatives) and of course, Prop 13. There's plenty of debunking to do on all three of these. To name one example: The idea that ballot initiatives have caused the state's $26 billion structural deficit is fanciful. Although it's true Californians have voted themselves nearly $100 billion in bonded debt since the middle of the last decade, little of this debt service has impacted the budget because state fiscal authorities have broad discretion over when and if bonds ever get issued. The result is not democracy at its prettiest: Voters approve a pile of debt; the treasury never gets around to borrowing it; and in the cold light of sobriety, voters forget the whole thing ever happened. But it's not responsible for the state's fiscal crisis. 

But when Derb's at the wheel, you always know what part of town you're going to end up in. Having eliminated all the easy explanations for the state's fiscal crisis (and not, apparently, having much interest in the roles played by government employee compensation, annual budget gimmickry, bureaucratic bloat that has given us more than 500 state agencies, etc.), the Seeing Calvin Coolidge In a Dream author realizes it must be the you-know-whos: 

Doing a scan of that 11,000-word Special Report in search of Abominable Words, I came up with these counts:  "immigration" — 0, "Mexican" — 0, "illegal" — 0, "undocumented" — 0, "border" — 0, "Spanish" — 0, "Latino" — 0, "Hispanic" — 1 ("half of California's pupils are Hispanic, and 40 percent of those hardly speak English"), "welfare" — 2 ("many Californians have lost their homes, jobs, health care and welfare services, [Governor Jerry] Brown implied" and "it seemed as though cities would have to close parks and counties would have to deny their residents medical and welfare services [i.e. after the 1978 Proposition 13 vote]"), …

This struck me as very strange. I knew of course that The Economist is open-borders libertarian; but 11,000 words on California's problems with barely a mention of the Mexifornia Factor? Come on.

You know, I pride myself in being a sultan of sophistry for whom nothing ever means what it says. But, um, there doesn't seem to be any way around acknowledging that Derbyshire just declared "Mexican" to be an abominable word. I'd even be willing to grant him "Latino" and "Hispanic" – ill-defined groupings that have little meaning to anybody other than raza hustlers. And I realize National Review has a lustrous history of special awareness of racial differences. But I have to admit: I miss the Derbyshire who used to blame everything on The Homosexuals

For more information on how the Abominables are ruining California, dig Reason TV's interview with ¡Ask A Mexican! columnist Gustavo Arellano. And note that the birth certificate Gustavo purports to show at 6:35 doesn't look like any long-form birth certificate I've ever seen — more like a piece of carbon paper he uses to make two fake green cards at a time: 

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  1. You’ve completely missed the point!

    1. Whoa! If you don’t get rid of that poison link, I’ll never read again.

    2. Fuck you, asshole.

  2. Isn’t Derbyshire some sort of Limey? Fuck Limeys. At least Mexicans give us tacos.

    1. Mexicans gave us burritos, taco trucks, Salma Hayek, and the Dynamic Pockmark Duo ? Edward James Olmos and Danny Trejo.

      The only thing England ever did for America was stand in straight lines to make shooting them easier.

      1. 🙂

      2. I’m calling this one right now; thread winner!

      3. That… made my day.

      4. England gave you Raymond Chandler. Now keep your trap shut.

        1. The funny thing is that California, and the west side of L.A. in particular, is full of Brits. They like the sunshine, or so I hear.

    2. I believe he is indeed a limey. So he’s an immigrant too. I have to say, the limeys have, throughout American history, caused us a hell of a lot more budget problems than Mexico has.

      1. Even more, he is by his own admission a former illegal immigrant, having deliberately overstayed his visa in the 1970s.

        Of course, he was a white illegal immigrant, so he is entirely different from those he spends so much time railing against.

  3. Did he call The Economist “libertarian”? That’s the strongest sign you’ve been rick-rolled.

  4. …Economist magazine cover.

  5. I’m feeling like I’ve been rickrolled.

    Do people still do that.

    1. Sort of – heller blackrolled me (“Friday”) in another thread.

      1. What? Who doesn’t like Black Sabbath?

  6. I haven’t read anything in the article but I just wanted to say that the title alone validates my belief to never to trust anythin Old Mex says. Ever.

  7. What is “rickrolled”? What does it mean? I like Mexicans.

    1. A person who has never heard of rickrolling is incapable of Googling it to find out what it is?

      I shouldn’t be surprised.

    2. It’s the 52 Pickup of the internet.
      (the card game)

  8. Someone believes non-voting (but often tax-paying) illegal immigrants, which account for 7% of so of the state, are responsible for the outcomes of representative election and direct democracy. Okay.


    There’s no reason to put those guys in jail, you see. It’s not as though they’ve done anything wrong. It’s just a peculiar “habit” the U.S.A. has ? an irrational cultural practice, like Chinese foot-binding or the Ghost Dance of the Sioux.

    I know he’s going for sarcasm, but as regards our drug laws and minimum sentencing for non-violent crimes in general, everything above is true. There’s a reason we have the highest incarceration rate in the world, and it’s not because Americans are more criminal. My favorite statistic is that 3 of every 4 black men in DC will serve some time in prison.

    Honestly, why do people read NRO? Or even worse, visit their web page?

    1. We have a prison population over four times the official per 100k figure China has. Even if their figures are complete bullshit, they are still probably less than the US. The only nations to come close to us in the percentage of people locked up are former Soviet republics.

    2. National Review was against the drug war before it was cool to be against the drug war.

  9. As confused as I am by the article and the term “rickrolled” (?, I want to point out that Mexicans are not ashamed that they are Mexicans and are proud to be called such. It is only other people who think it denigrates one to refer to him or her a Mexican.

  10. You know, I pride myself in being a sultan of sophistry for whom nothing ever means what it says. But, um, there doesn’t seem to be any way around acknowledging that Derbyshire just declared “Mexican” to be an abominable word.

    I read that as words “abominable” to The Economist when discussing California’s economic problems (hence their absence/scarcity in the report).
    I can’t see how you would read it any other way. Derb wants to talk about Mexicans and welfare but The Economist doesn’t.

    1. This.

      I don’t think Derbyshire has any animus toward the concept of a “border,” either.

    2. Given Reason’s predilection for harping on this particular topic, one might suspect English isn’t their first language.

    3. Actually Derb spends the biggest part of his post talking about the influx of Mexican labor and its effect on wages and unemployment. Cavanaugh is silent on this, preferring instead to call Derb a racist. Derb calls them “Abominable Words” because they are the words that none shall speak (and none did, in the Economist piece).
      Tim’s clearly a simpleton of sophistry, not a sultan.

      1. Actually, Derb’s not just “talking about” Mexican labor and unemployment; he’s offering Bucharest-School-of-Economics suggestions on these matters. I avoided bringing up his economic discussion (which is admirably free of up-to-date information on either immigration or unemployment) because I don’t want to humiliate the author of Tasting Warren G. Harding All Night Long (I think that’s the title), which I really liked.

        1. Tim, I would be much more interested in your analysis of why Derbyshire is wrong than I would be in an argument that he is a racist who finds the word “border” abominable.

  11. Is this the same Derbyshire who once suggested that because bomber pilots in World War II didn’t feel guilty about the civilians they killed in Dresden, that we shouldn’t feel guilty about civilian casualties in places like Iraq?…..310749.asp

    I read that bit, and I started thinking of him the way I think of Ann Coulter–someone who really should be ignored.

    1. Derb, like many of the more sane ‘pubs, has had a bit of a Paulesque change of heart regarding America’s role in the world.

      As for his overall thesis on the roll of hispanic immigration on California’s budget woes, I don’t think its an entirely irrelevant point. I live in Southern California, and I appraise property in Southern California. I have seen many a Section 9 housing rent roll filled with latin names; I know that a large number of hispanic families (that do have working parents, in many cases quite long hours too) receive substantial AFDC due to the parent’s lack of legal status and resulting inability to prove work/income causing them to qualify for lavish govt cheese. Quite frankly, Derb is right to some extent on the costs of immigration (while underreporting the bennies thereof); but he misattributes what is a welfare state problem to his notion of territorial sovereignty violated.

      1. The Victor Davis Hanson piece he links to makes it a bit more clear.

      2. Suffice it to say that my problem with fat people on welfare has nothing to do with their immigration status.

        Honestly, when I get mugged? Finding out that the mugger was an American citizen doesn’t make me feel any better about it.

        So why would I get more upset to find that the people helping themselves to my paycheck are from out of town?

        It isn’t who’s doin’ the stealing–it’s the stealing that’s the problem. I don’t want to privatize the school system because it’s full of Latinos; I want to privatize the school system because the public school system sucks.

        The problem with California isn’t the people who live here–and it isn’t their nationality or culture either. The problem with California is its government, and how anybody could talk about the people who live there like they’re the problem and ignore that 800 lbs. gorilla in the room?

        Makes me think they’re barkin’ up the wrong palm tree.

        1. It’s hard enough to get libertarian ideas across without havin’ to carry that racial payload.

          It’s hard enough to talk about slashing spending in California–without being labeled a racist. Even harder when morons like Derbyshire weigh in with a bunch of immigration bullshit that doesn’t speak directly to the issue anyway.

          Hey, if we privatized the public school system, and the healthcare system, and got rid of welfare and slashed my taxes by 90%? I wouldn’t care who they let across the border so long as they weren’t terrorists or had a communicable disease…

          So why bother talking about immigration? There’s nothing about my fellow American citizens filling up our public schools and making me pay for it–that makes me any less angry about having to paying for their sorry all-American asses.

          Immigration? Isn’t even the issue. Medi-Cal is the issue. Public schools are the issue. And talking about immigration in relation to those things? Makes it harder to get rid of Medi-Cal. Makes it harder to get rid of public schools.

          Not easier.

          1. I’m not defending his diagnosis if the problem from either a philosophical our tactical basis, just saying that I understand what he’s saying and there is some relevance toit, even if I agree that his grievance should be with the system, not the people that maximize their take from it

            1. Well, his position should be attacked from a strategic perspective.

              I don’t think it’s out of bounds to suggest that attaching the immigration issue to our budget problems in California–is partially to blame for our budget problems in California.

              The Republicans in California still can’t scrape the stink of Prop 187 off of ’em after all these years! And if Derbyshire thinks a fresh coat of stink is the solution to that?

              Then he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. If fiscal conservatives in California aren’t talking about immigration, Derbyshire? Then maybe there’s a good reason for that!

              The only Republican of consequence that’s been elected since the Republicans committed political suicide with Prop 187 was himself an immigrant.

              Derbyshire should think about that, and everybody who wants to blame Mexican immigrants for how much money our damn politicians spend should think about that too.

              1. $500 billion in unfunded state employee pension benefits–is that the fault of Mexican immigrants?

                Derbyshire doesn’t have a clue.

            2. If Derbyshire stayed up all night tryin’ to think up new and better ways to torpedo fiscal conservatives in California?

              He couldn’t think up anything better than to get them talking about the immigration issue.

        2. The problem with California isn’t the people who live here

          Yes it is.

      3. “Derb, like many of the more sane ‘pubs, has had a bit of a Paulesque change of heart regarding America’s role in the world.”

        Did this change of heart take place circa 2009?

        1. Actually far earlier. I believe he was on record in at least 2007 supporting ron paul

          1. Wasn’t Derb taking a lot of heat for putting forth his paleo-conservative views on non-intervention in Iraq? I think he was more outspoken than Buckley and Will, and sadly, a little more overtly racialist.

  12. These links to Gustavo Arellano are getting tiresome. Here’s Arellono’s answer to “Are Asians Scholastically Superior to Mexicans?”…..-pregnant/

    That’s the second question on the link.

    The National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Island Research in Education published a 2010 report that found Cambodians, Hmongs, Laotians and most Pacific Islander groups had the same abysmal college-graduation rates as Latinos, rates that lagged far behind other Asian American groups.

    It’s East Asians (Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans) that have a measured IQ of between 105 and 107, not Southeast Asians, who are in the 88 region. I think that’s kind of interesting. So does Derb, who has an IQ of 135, a full twenty points higher than mine. Bounded by some lower limit, this is interesting no matter how smart you are.

    1. Wait, I thought Hmongs were Cambodians. Is that not right? Would watching Grand Torino straighten me out? Now I don’t know which one to look down on and which one to consider a model minority.

      1. ?

      2. Most Hmongs, both in the US and abroad, are not. IIRC, most of them are in China, and many of those who immigrated to the US came as Vietnam War refugees from SE Asia.

        1. I thought the Hmong were Laotian.

        2. If Wikipedia is to be trusted:

          The Hmong… are an Asian ethnic group from the mountainous regions of China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand.

          1. Yeah, kinda what I thought. We had a decent Hmong population where I grew up, and I thought most of them were from South Vietnam, although if Wiki is to be trusted they fought against the North but a good number were actually from Laos.

            And apparently they’re the fourth-largest minority in China.

  13. Yes, but did his column contain a self-negating chiasmus or touch of amphiboly?

  14. I pay attention to it sometimes.

  15. Mexifornia is not an epithet coined by Mr. Derbyshire.
    Mexfornia is the title of a book by Victor Davis Hanson.
    Its use in that book is descriptive, not pejorative.
    In the excerpt, Mr. Derbyshire finds it surprising that an 11,000 word discussion of California’s fiscal troubles does not even mention the massive immigration, both legal and illegal, from Mexico in the 20th century.

    How this entails declaring “Mexican” to be an abominable word I don’t understand.

    1. I don’t think Cav read the Hanson piece.
      Derb’s isn’t entirely clear unless you have-that’s why he links to it.

      1. Have read Hansen’s book.

        Is there something I’m missing? I used “Mexifornians” because it (sorta) scanned in the C.C. Moore parody.

        If the idea is that I’ll read Hansen and realize that Yes! Mexicans really are destroying this great Saxon-named state of California, sorry: Ain’t gonna happen.

        1. I only read the linked article but it wasn’t Mexicans destroying California, it was the government. Just think if all those damn H1b Indians in Silicon Valley and elsewhere got legal residence and brought in all their over-educated wealthy relations. Then California just ignored all the businesses they atarted and didn’t enforce teh regulations. Quite a different scenario would ensue and it would have nothing to do with “race”.

  16. It’s just not as fun commenting in stories like this without Lonewacko around.

    1. Agreed. I confess to feeling a probably unrealistic level of nostalgia about trolls of the past like El Juaquo Solo and joe (though I still say joe was a fully fledged interesting member of this community, not a troll!).

      Now I’m thinking: You know, sometimes when I did follow Lonewacko’s links I’d end up thinking, “Wow, these really are incredible examples of Mexican depravity!” These trolls today, they don’t know how we used to shake things up!

      1. Ditto on joe.

        I learned a lot from joe.

        And regardless of whether he’d admit it, I think he was starting to lean in our direction in some ways. You can’t spend as much time talking to libertarians as he did and not start thinking about issues in libertarian terms.

        We’re insidious like that!

        1. On the upside, I have a lot more free time now that I’m not trying to keep up with joe’s comments. Did the dude ever do any actual work at his job?

  17. It’s unfortunate that men like Derbyshire are so rare, and that ridiculous dishonest shallow preening parrots like Cavanaugh are so very, very common.

    1. Do you have anything to add other than name calling?

      ’cause if that’s all you got, then we score one point for open borders!

  18. Mexico is a democracy. So when analyzing Derb’s claim, we can see that he is wrong by considering all the high-quality Presidents and politicians that Mexico has elected. For example, . . .

    Well, I can’t think of any, but I’m sure the Mexicans that come to the US will start voting for Ron Paul any day now.

    1. You might have a shade of an argument if and when Americans who live in the US start voting for Ron Paul.

  19. Tim, I haven’t read the underlying article, but from your quote, it sounds like Derbyshire is using “Abominable words” to mean that the Economist is avoiding the words as if they were abominable, not that Derbyshire himself considers them abominable.

    The guy is an immigrant, and IIRC is married to an immigrant. Do you really think that he considers the words “immigration” and “border” abominable? He’s a conservative and a mathematician — borders are his thing.

    1. I thought Cavanaugh was focusing on the word “Mexican”.

      In fact, I’m sure of it!

      “But, um, there doesn’t seem to be any way around acknowledging that Derbyshire just declared “Mexican” to be an abominable word.”

      1. Ken, unless there’s something else that Tim hasn’t quoted, Derbyshire refers to a search for nine different “Abominable Words”, including “immigration,” “Mexican” and “borders.”

        Given that the list includes things that Derbyshire obviously doesn’t find personally abominable, I think it’s a more reasonable interpretation to say that he was suggesting that the Economist finds them abominable, and therefore doesn’t include them in articles.

  20. > And note that the birth certificate
    > Gustavo purports to show at 6:35
    > doesn’t look like any long-form
    > birth certificate I’ve ever seen ?
    > more like a piece of carbon paper
    > he uses to make two fake green
    > cards at a time:

    California used to issue birth certificates like that back in the old days. Mine looks like that.

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