“Two movies on a single screen.” That’s how Scott Adams described the American reality right now. We are all watching the same events unfold, but we are seeing those events from two perspectives. Consider the very popular book and play Wicked; that’s a re-telling of “The Wizard Of Oz” from the perspective of a Wicked Witch. If you’ve read the book, then you now have two perspectives on that story — but you likely prefer one of the two, and consider it to be the “real” perspective.
When it comes to the “Dreamers”, the between 1.8 and 3.6 million illegal/undocumented immigrants who were brought here by their parents, the “red” and “blue” movies are, as you’d expect, quite different. Rather than get caught up in the numbers of how many “Dreamers” are in the US military (about 900, considerably less by percentage than native African-Americans) or how many are in prison (about 1,500 — which is also considerably less by percentage than native African-Americans), I just want you to look at the two people above. Try to get a sense of who they are, what their story might be, and which side of the Narrative they serve. Then we can talk about them.
The woman on the left is DREAMer Abigail Hernandez. Last week she posted on a local high school Facebook page that she was going to “shoot all of you bitches”. In many ways, Ms. Hernandez is a catalog of conservative nightmares regarding DACA. She is 21 years old but she is still in high school because she has reduced cognitive capacity. Her parents do not speak English but claim to own seven houses. Ms. Hernandez was in possession of a shotgun; her father says, in Spanish, that it belongs to him. It took police five days to act on Ms. Hernandez’s threat, because Rochester is a sanctuary city.
If you are watching the “red” movie, then you want Ms. Hernandez and everybody like her gone from this country. You don’t see them adding any value, and you do see them endangering American citizens. You have unbridled hatred for the people who let Kate Steinle’s killer go free in order to “send a message” to President Trump. You are pretty sure that a lot of DREAMers are on welfare or in gangs.
Now for the woman on the right. She is part of the Washington Post‘s continuous campaign to support unlimited immigration, and as such she was the subject of a fawning piece in the paper this week. I’m not a Post reader but since I own an Amazon Kindle the article was pushed to my device and I was encouraged to read it every time I booted up the Kindle so I could play (and, often, lose) a game of computer chess. Her name is Rosa Aramburo. She is a medical student who might lose her chances at a residency because she is not in this country legally.
It’s worth noting that CNN ran a similar article, as did the Harvard website, the HuffPo, the Duke University website, and dozens of other media sources. Given that there are only about sixty-five Dreamers enrolled in med school, that’s well over one major media article per med-school Dreamer. This, by the way, is what alt-right people are talking about when they use “Narrative” with a capital “N”. Sixty-five people out of 3.6 million amounts to statistical noise — by the numbers, there should be more DREAMers who have been struck by lightning — but somehow these med-school kids keep on boiling up to the top.
If you’re watching the blue movie, you likely see Ms. Aramburo as a classic example of immigrant moxie and mettle, a young woman who has proven by her own hard work that she deserves to be an American as much as any fat hick with an F-150 whose parents happened to be American citizens. You believe that there are many more like her and she is just the tip of an excellence iceberg floating towards the economy of the future. We cannot afford to lose her and the other people like her!
Over the course of the past day, I tried pretty hard to find a news source that had run both a piece on Ms. Hernandez and a piece on DREAMer medical students. The Venn diagram of those media sources looks like a set of binoculars. The Washington Post appears to be completely unaware of the former; Breitbart is profoundly unconcerned with the latter. This is what’s known as a “filter bubble”. If you’re watching the red movie and consuming red media, you get the mentally handicapped woman with a shotgun. If you watch the blue movie and consume blue media, you get a tsunami of coverage about the 0.000018 percent of DREAMers who are med students.
Is it possible to look past the “movie” and just see reality? I’m not sure. The best I can personally do is tell you some things that are more factual than the appeals to emotion embodied in the two women above. Here’s one of those things: The DREAMers aren’t a hot potato because of their criminality or their medical-school-ness. They are important because they are a block of blue votes. Period. That’s why the Democrats want them — and their criminality is irrelevant. Furthermore, they have the ability to bring several million more blue votes to this country via the process known as “chain migration” in Red press and “family reunification” in the Blue press. They could swing our 50/50 nation permanently Blue, once and for all, amen.
And yet Trump is willing to let them stay if he can have the rest of his border control measures. This infuriates Republicans, who are less concerned about the safety of Americans than they are about Republican majorities. And it infuriates the Democrats, who have grown accustomed to having their complete and total way on every topic in this country with the sole exception of gun control.
There would be a Blue/Red stalemate on this topic were it not for one thing: DREAMers and their families represent cheap labor. So the Republican Party is letting the Democrats sell them the rope with which they will be hanged. Republican donors want cheap labor, which is why you get all these Republican leaders who mouth a party line on relatively irrelevant stuff like late-term abortion and transgender bathrooms then turn around and bust their ass to get as many immigrants into the workforce as possible. The Democrats are looking towards a brown America circa 2075; the Republicans are trying to get next quarter’s profits up so they can cash out their stock options and retire to a gated community.
That, in a nutshell, is why we will continue to have effectively unlimited immigration. It isn’t logical, and it isn’t even moral because it forces the “undocumented” immigrants to go through hell to get here. A truly moral open immigration system would allow anybody in the world to come here in an affordable and safe manner, as opposed to giving priority to Mexicans who are willing to die in a false-floor car trunk. But we can get to that in a moment. The fact of the matter for now is that both Democrat and Republican party leaders want unlimited cheap labor. The only people who disagree are working Americans, who are irrelevant to the conversation.
We could end the discussion right here except for one thing. There are many people, including both Elon Musk and your humble author, who think that most jobs will be automated out of existence in the next twenty years. We are remarkably close to automating things like McDonald’s restaurants from top to bottom — and we are also remarkably close to automating everything from paralegal work to radiation oncology. In fact, the only reason some jobs still exist is because the immigrants are cheaper than the machines. There’s a new push to automate farm work because immigrants are currently in short supply. With two or three iterations of the technology, it will be cheaper than the Mexicans, the same way that automated checkout machines are cheaper than cashiers even with substantial theft.
In a country where robots (meaning capital) have replaced most of the jobs (meaning labor), how do you prevent the people from destroying the machines and setting the world on fire? Elon’s answer, and mine, is a Universal Basic Income scheme. In other words — the robots will do the work, the robots will be taxed, the tax money will be given to people in the form of a universal subsidy, and the people will use their money to buy the products and consume the services created by the robots. As closed ecosystems go, it ain’t great. But it works better than a country with 90% unemployment and a one-percent cabal that owns every single robot. That’s a recipe for blood and thunder.
When you put all of it together, you come up with the unpleasant fact that this country is importing millions of people who will eventually be nothing but recipients of basic income. They will be laborers with no labor to perform. They will exist solely to consume and to vote. Since the United States will probably move to basic income before, say, Ecuador, we are essentially handing out Willy Wonka’s Golden Tickets through the most inhumane, degrading process possible. Can’t we do better than that?
Here’s a little ad-hoc immigration policy that I came up with during a short flight. You can probably do better; feel free to post in the comments. It works like so. We start by closing the border and deporting everybody. I mean everybody, whether they are tatted-up gangsters or Nobel Prize winners. No sanctuary cities, no exceptions. And we let the country settle for five years.
At the end of that five year “pause” we announce a system by which everybody in the world can apply to be an American. No favoritism given to anyone. You sign up online and you get a number. Then we hold a computerized drawing and come up with, let’s say, three million numbers. Each one of the “winners” gets a free ticket to the United States. They are citizens the minute they hit the ground.
We do that every year. Bring in three million, five million, something like that. Put a process in place for chain migration/family reunification/whatever. But the key thing is that it’s 100% random, meaning 100% fair. There’s no under-the-table work. Everybody has a social security number, everybody pays taxes. Everybody shares in the American dream the same way.
When basic income comes, we stop the music and turn off the program.
It’s simple, and it would work. I don’t think most people would accept it. What if — gasp! — we let in a bunch of Germans? Or Russians? Or Canadians? What if immigration didn’t create cheap labor or free votes? What if it was really a way for people to become citizens on the same terms offered to my great-grandparents a hundred and four years ago? What if some of those people brought money, and assets, the way the Chinese inhabitants of Vancouver have? How does a country full of would-be Eloi function when the supply of Morlocks dries up? What will the American movie look like then?