This is America

As you may know, Reihan Salam, who I would consider a friend (albeit, one I see in person three years or so!), has a new book out, Melting Pot or Civil War?: A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders.

It won’t be a surprise to know that I generally agree with him on a lot of issues relating to immigration. The first time I met him in person in 2007 we actually talked about the positive externalities of high skill immigration streams. Since then my views haven’t changed much, though my faith in these United States has declined some to be honest.

I will pass along this interview with Reihan today, A Son Of Immigrants Makes The Case For Tighter Immigration Policy. Reihan, as you may know, is the son of Bangladeshi immigrants who arrived in the late 1970s. The woman interviewing him happens to be ethnically Bengali herself (though her family is from India), raised in Oregon around the same time I was (we’re about the same age).

This is America 2018. An American of Bengali ethnic extraction writes a book and happens to be interviewed by happenstance by another Bengali American. Definitely not a world we could have imagined in the 1980s.

34 thoughts on “This is America”

  1. Don’t know if my question makes sense but anyway: Do Scott Attran’s theories also have something to say about reflexive fear of cultural replacement and its association with immigration?

      1. Thanks. When I made the comment it seemed somewhat related to this post, may be because the the marginal revolution post on the book was in my mind.

  2. Razib, could you briefly summarize his arguments?

    Does he favor restricting immigrants who might pose crime or terrorist threats? [Makes a lot of sense to me.]

    Does he favor restricting less skilled immigrants?

    Does he favor restricting skilled immigration? [I favor greater legal skilled immigration.]

  3. I don’t know if this is a relevant question (feel free to strike it if it isn’t.)

    Are Democrats and lefties really as sympathetic to immigrants and opposed to any restriction attempts as it seems by following the media? Or are they using this issue purely as a partisan tool, and in private are more circumspect (or even “right-wing”) when it comes to immigration? What does your personal experience with them suggest?

    1. I can offer an answer. Yes, democrats and lefties in US, Europe and Australia are for unrestricted immigration. All new immigrants are automatically their new voters. The upcoming elections in Europe will bring to power more right wing parties which oppose unrestricted immigration. Such situation is already in Italy, Hungary, Poland, Czechs, Slovakia and strong right wing parties in France, Holland, Sweden, Germany. Democrats and lefties are strongly connected to deep state and G.Soros who is pushing for unrestricted immigration to Europe. Their goal is the globalism and destruction of national states and national identities. Because of this, there is a constant pressure on Trump since day 1 because they don’t want even US to be a national state which takes care about their genuine national interests and strong economy. Because of this they Satanise (and bomb) all countries which take care of own national interests – Russia, China, Venezuela, Iran, N.Korea, Cuba, Syria, Serbia…

        1. Every side loves their “coalition” , its just the “other ” side coalition happens to majority native-ist/ illegal immigrants depending where you stand

  4. Melting pot or civil war?

    I know he has to sell books, and possibly the title came from his editors, but this title seems to be very representative of the present day mores. Making the extremes as argumentation. I will be reluctant to read the book if the argument is that melting pot and civil war are our options.

      1. I woke up this morning and see that Reihan Salam has doubled down on either we all assimilate or it will be civil war on the Oct 15 cover of National Review. I am sorry, Razib, but this is just another attempt by NR conservatives to create a more acceptable Dileep D’Souza, since Dileep has moved on to Vdare/John Birch level of crazy. I understand that that is a business model, but binaries are not practical, outside politics.

        1. i think our social cohesion is under threat. so i don’t think it’s alarmist. though it’s overdramatic.

          republics fall. it doesn’t happen gradually. happens quickly from zero.

          1. My last word. I do not believe American social cohesion is under threat. It will meander for another 50 years with less cohesion. Money is a much bigger motivator than social cohesion.

            You must visit India. We have zero social cohesion. And we are not even thinking of falling. USA can be an India and still do 100 times better.

          2. I have my popcorn ready for next time a Democrat becomes president Republican might just call him an alien and oppose his living on earth

  5. You must visit India. We have zero social cohesion. And we are not even thinking of falling. USA can be an India and still do 100 times better.

    yeah. i don’t think india’s really making your case…. (i mean, i wish it best, but its communal conflicts are really scary from an american viewpoint)

    if the american republic becomes as healthy as the indian republic, we’re fucked. it’s not where you are, it’s where you’ve been.

    1. Funny enough when Nehru died , Bhutto wrote in foreign policy magazine that India will disintegrate now since india is not a nation and it was Nehru who kept this ragtag people united.

      7 years later Bangladesh happened

      1. I did not intend to say USA should follow India. On a scale of 0 to 100 where India is zero and, say, Iceland or Estonia is a 100, USA is probably a 70, and that is ok.

        We dark South Indians look at the US civil war with wonder. Why will the nation battle to protect a minority? Thus words like civil war have a meaning that need not be tarnished.

        For one final time, the issue in the US Is a small protected class of people who are not salaried, not limited by monthly income, through prep school and ivies; and a large population which is not. The battles that are fought out are amongst this class in the judiciary committee. Now I have entry into the class that sets its own salary, I kick myself for not putting my kids through prep school and ivy, at that time I did not have the income or knowledge. All of these battles you see are to protect my world. Not the 98%’s world.

        1. Vijay, the world is becoming increasingly meritocratic. The global middle class increasingly has greater physical health, mental health and intelligence than the middle class, lower middle class and the poor.

          The global tyranny is by the global upper middle class–the global cognitive, healthy elite. This is a major problem. The upper middle class increasingly does not understand the middle class, lower middle class and poor. They have little conception or understanding of what it is like to live life with physical health challenges, mental health challenges and intelligence challenges.

          Hence the nonsensical policies by global governments, NGOs and civil society that harm the global poor and lower middle class. For example 81% of welfare mothers fail their scholarship funded education programs in the US. This is a massive waste of taxpayer money and nonprofit money. Plus it further damages the limited self confidence of welfare mothers, since in many cases they try hard and fail. Lose, lose, lose policies.

          Rather an intelligent policy would be to pay everyone to exercise. Everyone can wear a government funded wearable sensor while exercising to track their exercise and pay them. Such a policy would dramatically improve physical health, mental health outcomes across society. Exercise is one of the only ways known to increase IQ and memory. And to reduce nerve pain.

          Of course recent neuroscience literature is also finding that meditation increases IQ, physical health and mental health. The challenge here is that there might not be a way to track and pay people to meditate; and most people don’t know what meditation is. But neuroscientists are coming to the rescue. Neuroscientists are developing electro stimulation brain therapy and sound therapy to sharply improve IQ and memory. These in my view simulate meditation.

          This is likely to provide the solution to global poverty and improving career and business outcomes for the global lower middle class and middle class.

          Other technological innovations to boost intelligence are:
          —super high bandwidth brain computer interface to create fusion brain/AI intelligence
          —gene therapy (maybe Razib and other geneticists can comment on this)
          —bio-engineering brain and nervous system tissue

  6. Razib, I never knew about any of these conflicts in India until I was taught about them on this blog over the past year. I think most of these conflicts are made up by the global press and Indian press; but have little to no substance behind it.

    Much the way America does not have a Nazi or fascist problem. America has very few Nazis. America also does not have a problem with police shooting unarmed African Americans, whatever the press says.

    One of the largest temples in South India is the Rameshwaram temple (dedicated to Rama/Sita/Lakshman/Hanuman in addition to Shiva . . . the founding saint of the temple is the Naga great snake Patanjali {compiler of the Yoga Darshana}). There is a mosque inside the temple. This is common in India. The largest muslim spiritual sites are frequented by almost as many nonmuslims as muslims. Many of the RSS/Hindutvva cadre foot soldiers are twelver Shiites or Sufis. Many of the RSS/Hinduttva hard core followers frequently pray at Mosques and muslim sites and are among the largest supporters of Sufism, Ajmer, Shirdi, Nizzamuddin Auliya etc.

    For this reason many Indian self described “liberals” and members of Congress don’t like Sufis. Rather they back Islamists against reasonable muslims. Much the way much of the US establishment and civil society backs Islamists against reasonable muslims (for example the Southern Poverty Law Center).

    Most of India’s problems are identical to America’s problems. Most come from the same post modernist intelligentsia.

  7. Razib, I understand where Reihan and you are coming from. You see the US as a special place that produces a lot of public goods for the world, and can act as a check against the illiberal foreign policy of some states.

    My question to you would be: Is it a legitimate political goal for the federal gov of the US to pursue an immigration policy that is meant to maintain a white majority? If race blind immigration leads to a browning America, is it actually constitutionally permissible to take into account the racial fear of replacement white America is displaying? Does reducing immigration because of white discomfort mean the elevating of white concerns above those of other Americans?

    Thank you for the book recommendation.

    1. OW, there is virtually no possibility that the majority off American immigrants will be of European ancestry.

      However the US might:
      —change the number of legal immigrants
      —restrict illegal immigrants
      —change the skill composition of immigrants (perhaps increase the percentage of legal immigrants who are affluent)

      Even if the third change happens, this would favor affluent Asians more than affluent foreigners of European ancestry. Latin America and Africa also have many highly talented skilled immigrants who want to move to the US. They too would likely socio-economically outperform most Americans.

      I favor sharply increasing the number of skilled immigrants of African ancestry. My view is that this will sharply boost average socio-economic outcomes from black Americans; and have a positive impact on black American culture. Plus this way the large majority of the beneficiaries of race based affirmative action and quotas will go to highly qualified tenacious first and second generation black immigrants. My view is that young multi-generational African Americans will over time idolize and follow the example of first and generation immigrants of African ancestry. Nerds and Geeks will start to become cool again for K-12 students. Life would be breathed back into America’s inner cities.

        1. For which nation is this advice directed to?

          If for USA, welfare does not flow to the minorities or immigrants. The total of approximately 700 billion paid by the federal government is booked into four groups:
          Cash assistance: more than 25% of the payment is cash assistance, but it is best viewed as a negative tax; Earned income, and eligible child tax credit are means tested and basically a reverse of income tax; SSI is basically a payment to old aged people and those who cannot support themselves.
          Medicaid and supplementary health: These are primary to citizens who cannot pay completely for health insurance that medicare cannot cover. This covers 40% of federal welfare.
          Food, housing, education and childrcare grants: there are 4 or 5 remaining that cover a third of the remaining, and they are primarily means tested.

          The conservatives already went with the scissors and revamped welfare in late 1990s. The result was that total spending has been level and dropped per capita in 2000s. How much more do you wish to cut welfare. Note that immigrants and first generation welfare spending is very low or nonexistent. Today, the racial sistribution in welfare spending is not substantially skewed, with about 55%, 22%, 20% among white, black and hispanic; or something like this.

          So I do not understand what your problem with welfare is; republicans can try, but once it goes to their districts and a howl emanates from people, then it will be DOA.

          As a nation, we have been through this, and inspite of conservative talking points, we are around 4% of GDP vested in welfare.

          Medicare and SSI is not considered welfare in the US.

          If you are talking about India, our welfare system is virtually nonexistent.

          1. The bulk of US welfare spending is related to health care. The best way to reduce health care spending (whether it is paid for privately or via welfare) is to pay every American to exercise and to track their exercise with wearable sensors (apps on smart devices or stand alone wearable smart devices for poor people who don’t have smart devices).

            Increasing meditation would also help, but operationalizing this is more challenging. However soon we can have universal access to brain electro simulation therapy and brain sound therapy; which partly simulate meditaiton. This would also dramatically lower health care costs.

            Other ways to lower health care costs include:
            —gene therapy
            —bio-engineering and inserting body tissue

            America has the most expensive health care system in the history of the world per capita. It would take scores of pages to spell out all the ways I would try to lower health cares costs.

            I would add one low hanging fruit. Over 40% of US health care spending is on extending life for people on life support. We need an open an honest dialogue about this subject. We need to understand and welcome death.

            We need to think different across the board. We need product and process innovation. Opening the human mind is the problem. Post modernism, traditionalism, inertia, old genetic baggage, inter-generational baggage, culture, our own personal dysfunction and many other obstacles close the human mind to possibilities. Eastern philosophy is about freeing the human mind and human being.

    2. The first thing I’d suggest is remove race and religion from the census a la France..

      Republics should be blind to their racial and religious composition; it would put a halt to gerrymandering..

      1. To which nation is this advice aimed towards?

        US census is does not ask a question on religion; it does ask for race, but the question is voluntary. You can chose an alternate race, but say no race. Gerrymanering is by race (and by voting preference), but can be easily switched to voters party preference. republican states can still stitch together republican constituencies, and so forth. You still have to select a party preference or independent when registering; otherwise in most states you cannot vote in primaries.

        The Indian census obviously does not ask any race question, but constituencies are not gerrymandered by state, and mostly geographical. The same is true for Canada, and I do not believe the UK constituencies are basically adjusted by party in power, but may be wrong.

        1. There was supposed to be electoral reform of constituency boundaries.. Brexit was supposed to kill off Labour forever; there was serious talk about this Pre 2017 June election..

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