Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

In Which Megan McArdle Does Not Notice The Old Business Model Is Broken

Sorry, you're still the villain.

The Republican Party is desperately trying to convince liberals that Trump is an aberration and when he loses everything can go back to normal; that is, the circumstances that created and promoted Trump to the Republican nominee for president of the United States can return. To do this they are blaming liberals for Trump's rise, attempting to undercut Trump's rise, and pretending Trump never rose.

Which brings us to Megan McArdle, the Great Pretender, who pretends to discuss immigration but doesn't mention Trump by name even once.
After the parties’ national conventions, one theme that shines out of both is the complete incoherence of our “national conversation about immigration.” Because it’s not really a conversation.
Because Trump skips the dog whistles and goes straight for the racism, the fake Republican conversation about immigration was sidelined by the true Republican race conversation: other races and ethnicities are bad and are causing all of your, white Christian America's, problems.
Both conventions leaned heavily on immigration issues.
 Since most Republicans seem to have no idea of the actual state of illegal immigration, thinking that deportations are much lower and immigration much higher than they are, it is easy to see through the pretense of debate and hear the loud, clear dog whistle of racism.
The Republicans portrayed immigration as a bad thing, by highlighting the parents of individuals killed by illegal immigrants. The Democrats were equally avid to show the upsides of immigration, including with a beaming 11-year-old child who is here illegally.
The Republicans said that immigrants are destroying the country and economy, raping women and children, and committing a wide variety of horrific crimes, which is only inevitable since they are all criminals after they sneak into the country. They also horrified the country with their racist political rallies in support of Donald Trump, racist, whom McArdle neglected to mention was the person who inflamed anti-immigrant violence.

The media has always operated with the assumption that nobody will call the Republicans racist en mass even when they enact racist policies, but now that the right must get rid of Trump they are all stuck with attacking the only difference between him and them: open racism versus veiled and rationalized racism. The Republican elite might find it difficult to go back to the old days after Trump loses.

Putting aside ideology, the Democrats pick up voters where the right fails. They'd be fools not to, and they need numbers to compensate for the right's money. They also benefit from knowing they are helping other people because doing good makes liberals feel good.
OK, well, that seems normal enough: As with so many issues, one party is for, and one party against.
You think you live in a world in which you gather facts and use them to plan your actions and policies but actually! you live in a world in which everyone is divided up into two opposing sides and those two groups just happen to like certain things because ideas pop into their heads and if one party is for something than of course the other party is against it.
But wait. For what? Against what? 
I doubt that many Republicans would say that they are actually against immigration; they don’t want to close the borders and ensure that not a single foreigner is ever allowed to come live here.  
I wouldn't be so sure.
Nor do I think that most Democrats would say they are “for immigration”; they don’t want to open the borders and let anyone move here. The national conversation is not really “for” vs. “against.”
We already know that.
Both sides want some immigration. We’re arguing about the level.
Bait and switch, we meet again. We are not arguing about the level of immigration. We are arguing about how the Republicans want to pretend the actions and policies of the Republican party are the product of intellectual debate, not racism, and the support for Donald Trump is economic anxiety, not racism. We also want to keep Republicans from lying their way out of the mess they created because of their racism.
Except … no one is actually trying to establish that level.
That's because McArdle, for example, is now moot. Everyone is discussing racism now and the lying shills who pretty up the racism for the upper classes are no longer needed. Maybe they'll return, if not soon then in due time, but right now the racist elephant in the room is sucking up all the oxygen.
Last week, on social media, I posed a question to my friends and followers: What do you think is the maximum percentage of foreign-born residents that U.S. immigration policy should target? In other words, how much would be too much?
Every time she calls herself a journalist, Irony sacrifices a puppy.
A few people gamely answered the question, but the most interesting responses were not from those who gave percentages.1
That footnote reads:
1.The modal answer was somewhere around 15 percent to 25 percent, which is higher than I’d expect from a representative sample of the American public. ↩
McArdle thinks her friends and readers are a representative sample of the American public, which is nuts, but even they are more open to immigration than McArdle supposes. (And as we know, she supposes about others whatever she feels herself.) After burying this information in a footnote, we find most people had no interest in playing Republican Politics: What If? Version.
Far more people rejected the idea of having a maximum at all. They were simply deeply uncomfortable with the idea of setting any limits. (A few others answered with “100 percent,” which raises troubling questions about what would be done with those of us who are currently living in the U.S. and are not foreign born.)
But if we are going to have an immigration policy, then we will have to set some limits. And trust me, we are going to have an immigration policy, because the last time I looked, about 165 million people worldwide -- equal to about 70 percent of the current adult population of the U.S. -- said they wanted to migrate here. That’s more immigrants at one time than the country could realistically absorb.
We already have an immigration policy. McArdle might want to read it, do some research, analyze what she's learned, consult with experts, and form an opinion.

Or she can go on Facebook. Six of one, half-dozen of the other.
I think migration is a great moral boon.
Since McArdle thinks circumventing democracy to eliminate the voice of the people would be a moral boon as well, she might want to re-align her moral compass.
But I am not prepared to say that Americans therefore have a moral duty to import Jakarta’s traffic jams, Russia’s business practices, and most of the world’s prevailing norms about political corruption.
Why would we....
Cultures and countries do have some right to propagate themselves in roughly their current form, which is why I am against imperialism and against open borders.
 She supported the invasion of Iraq, for chrissake.
That’s pretty much the prevailing view. So. We are going to have an immigration policy. That means that there will be limits.
We. Already. Have. An. Immigration. Policy.
Some people will come here in violation of those limits. If we don’t deport some of them, then we effectively don’t have limits, and we’re back to the fact that this is unworkable. Many, probably most, of the people we deport will be sympathetic -- nice folks who want nothing more than to make a better life for their family, just like you and me. That will not obviate the need to have limits or the need to enforce them.
The Obama Administration deported over 2,500,000 people. McArdle can only create an argument against the liberal side by ignoring data, refusing to do any research, making up a masturbatory fantasy of soppy liberals who refuse to deport illegal aliens.
The “against” side of our national conversation comes closer to a coherent position.
The "against" side is racism. Which is the point of everything right now in the immigration discussion.
It (vaguely) acknowledges a need for (unspecified) criteria by which would-be immigrants would be admitted to the U.S. But the main tenets of the right’s immigration policy are hardly policy proposals at all. A wall doesn’t tell us how many people we will let in, or which people; it doesn’t even deal with illegal immigration that well, given that something like 40 percent of illegal migrants come here legally and then overstay their visas. Even if we could get on board with a heinous criterion like “no Muslims or people from Muslim countries,” that’s hardly actionable. Are you really going to keep out Christian refugees from the Middle East? (Have fun selling that to evangelicals.) And how are you going to detect those Muslims from countries where some other religion is the majority?
The main tenet of the right's proposals is racism.
Also, let’s get real for a moment: Anyone who dwells on Muslim immigration is trying to change the subject. Most of the people in the world who want to become Americans are not Muslim and do not live in predominantly Muslim nations. So if we’re actually talking about immigration policy, let’s get back on topic.
We're not. We're talking about racism.
How many people should we let in, of what education and skill level? How should we handle marital visas? What tradeoffs are we willing to make between national unity and the humanitarian and practical benefits of migration?2
Second postscript:
2.It’s probably not an accident that the era some Americans recall fondly as a time of strength and unity -- roughly 1940 to 1965 -- was also the era at which our migration levels were the lowest. Diversity may be strength, but it also, inevitably, means friction.
True, Republicans fondly recall the unity and strength of repressing women and minorities and immigrants. But then the Civil Rights Act forced diversity down everyone's throat with its boots and nothing was ever against the same.
Oh, hear those crickets! No one wants to ask those questions, much less provide answers. Instead we fight about trivia like walls along the border. We formulate an impossibly tangled system with about a zillion different kinds of visas and zillions of more arcane rules, all of which are aimed at instituting limits near what the bureaucrats and legislators gropingly sense might be the public’s level of tolerance -- and aimed, too, at avoiding the need to ever actually openly discuss how many migrants America should have at one time, and of what sort. One side slurs immigrants; the other canonizes them. And nothing is ever agreed upon.
Both sides do it, while both sides do nothing.
Exactly what sort of country do we want to be? And what sort of new citizens do we want to recruit? The only path forward is to discuss those questions -- frankly, with numbers.
Discussing McArdle's work is like being trapped in the world's most boring cocktail party. Without a drink.


Ellis Weiner said...

"Exactly what sort of country do we want to be? And what sort of new citizens do we want to recruit?"

Jesus. What is our Mission Statement? Who are we hiring for what posts? Everybody, please stop talking about building a wall and be sensible.

She reminds me of Peggy Noonan: the lofty, correcting tone, condescending to acknowledge the (understandable) foibles of her lessers while gently prodding them into the Republican, plutocratic light.

Andrew Johnston said...

2016 is proving to be the greatest challenge to Broderism ever. It's really remarkable to watch the usual suspects break their own spines trying to justify the philosophy of Both Sides Do It. There seem to be a few common tactics, proceeding in more or less this order as the Sensible Centrist's brain cannibalizes itself:

1.) Selective amnesia
2.) Vagueness and obfuscation
3.) Willful delusion

McArdle is giving us a fine example of number 2. The Democratic position on immigration takes about sixty seconds to find, and as for the Republicans, well...we all know far too much about the Trump position, and it has nothing to do with "levels." McArdle is really struggling to pretend that these positions are vague and general because otherwise she'd have to stake out a position, and that's not gonna happen.

And what's this percentage shit? Percentage of what? All people who file for visas? The current US population? I gather from context that it's the latter, but does McArdle not understand that there are clearly defined absolute visa limits? Much like the Democratic policy positions on immigration, this should be an easy get for someone who brags up her ability to do research. Maybe she got another cold and couldn't work her Google Machine.

Such a waste of time to do this, but when you're begging for work you have a lot of time to get mad at the undeservedly successful.

Andrew Johnston said...

Also, I don't think that immigration policy link was supposed to go to the What If? covers.

Ken Houghton said...

Damn. I was trying to figure out how many of those I owned at one time. (Surprisingly few.)

Katy Williams said...

"some" Americans recall fondly as a time of strength and unity -- roughly 1940 to 1965 -- was also the era at which our migration levels were the lowest.

1940 -1965 very very very high tax rates on the RICH.... no coincidence that Average Americans recall it fondly?

cynic said...

Her ignorance of all things mathematical is on full display here and is truly astounding:
1.The modal answer was somewhere around 15 percent to 25 percent, which is higher than I’d expect from a representative sample of the American public

The mode of a sample is, by definition, a single number: the most frequent occurence. A "modal" answer between anything is utterly meaningless.

She is obviously too lazy to actually figure out the mode which should have been easy - since according to her a few people gamely answered her question

higher than I’d expect from a representative sample of the American public. She either does not know what a representative sample is or is under the happy delusion that her followers are a representative sample. I think the latter is true, although I wouldn't discount the possibility that both may be true.

Then there is this gem:What do you think is the maximum percentage of foreign-born residents that U.S. immigration policy should target?

What the hell does 'foreign born residents' mean? Are they resident here and are foreign born? If so, they have already immigrated. Are they foreign born and residents of the foreign state they were born in? If so, where the hell does she expect they would live?

What does the question even mean? Is she asking what percentage of immigration applicants we should approve? That would be the most stupid way of setting immigration policy - since it would make no allowance for the volume of applications from various places around the world. It would simply favor the most populous and/or least economically stable people - presumably the very result she does not want.Math challenged as she is, if we set a 15% target and the entire adult population of India and Iran apply - what then?

This is one of her more monumentally stupid bloviatings.

Ellis Weiner said...

""some" Americans recall fondly as a time of strength and unity -- roughly 1940 to 1965 -- was also the era at which our migration levels were the lowest. "

It was also the era of war (WW II, Korea), the growth of advertising, the birth of rock and roll, and of the invention of the Hula Hoop. And what brought about the diminution of strength and unity after 1965? Anyone remember? Was it an increased level of immigration? Or, no, wait, I think it was something else--also, ironically, involving war.

Bob Muir said...

" They were simply deeply uncomfortable with the idea of setting any limits. (A few others answered with “100 percent,” which raises troubling questions about what would be done with those of us who are currently living in the U.S. and are not foreign born.)"

I don't even know what this means except that it is the kind of terror racists feel.

Katy Williams said...

"She can talk-the-talk" as my brother said. Arglebargle is, like so many conservative blowhards, a really stupid person's idea of what a smart person talks like... Mr Spock as written by a Fox News writer.

jsk said...

@cynic: I took it that she was asking, "how many foreign-born people are you willing to let in as citizens and permanent residents? Enough to make up X% of the U.S. population?" We currently have about 40 million foreign-born, making up about 13% of the population, according to Brookings, and apparently McArdle's friends would actually be willing to see it go up to 80 million or so.

It reminds me of all the polls where people say we are spending much too much on foreign aid, but when they are asked how much they would like to see spent, they offer a number which is much more than we are actually spending.

Susan of Texas said...

cynic, may I add your comment to the post?