RUSH: Robert Samuelson in the Washington Post yesterday actually has a number of things that are in excellent response to Mr. Brooks today in the New York Times. “Still Dodging Immigration’s Truths.” I don’t have time in this segment to read the whole thing, but listen to just a couple sentences here. “Hardly anyone is discussing these issues candidly. It is politically inexpedient to do so. We can be a lawful society and a welcoming society simultaneously, to use the president’s phrase, but we cannot be a welcoming society for limitless numbers of Latin America’s poor without seriously compromising our own future — and, indeed, the future of many of the Latinos already here. Yet, that is precisely what the president and many senators (Democratic and Republican) support by endorsing large ‘guest worker’ programs and an expansion of today’s system of legal visas. In practice these proposals would result in substantial increases of low-skilled immigrants.
“How fast can they assimilate? We cannot know, but we can consult history. It is sobering. In 1972 Hispanics were 5 percent of the U.S. population and their median household income was 74 percent of that of non-Hispanic white households. In 2004,” 32 years later, “Hispanics were 14 percent of the population, and their median household income was 70 percent of the level of non-Hispanic whites. These numbers suggest that rapid immigration of low-skilled workers and rapid assimilation are at odds. Some immigrant families make huge advances, but many don’t and newcomers represent a constant drag.” There are a couple more things here, but I’ve always loved Samuelson’s work. He’s written on immigration a number of times and he aims right between the eyes, which is what we’re not getting inside the Beltway from practically anybody.
Just a couple more paragraphs here from Mr. Samuelson on this whole immigration business. He said, “The difficulties are obvious. Competition among illegal immigrants depresses wages. Social services are stretched thin. In 2000, children of immigrants already represented a quarter of all low income students in US schools. That’s according to an Urban Institute study in 2000,” six years ago. “Children of immigrants represented a quarter, 25%, of all low income students. Now, the figure is probably higher today. The study also reports that immigrant children are rapidly spreading beyond the six states where they had traditionally concentrated — California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, New York and New Jersey. Now, this may explain why immigration suddenly becomes such an explosive issue. A reader e-mails,” Samuelson. “He says, ‘There are children in my son’s school who aren’t able to speak a single word of English and it’s causing such frustration amongst the staff and other children, that I’m afraid for my son’s future.’
“There are striking parallels between how we’ve treated immigration and aging. In both cases, the facts are hiding in plain view, but we’ve chosen to ignore them because candor seems insensitive and politically awkward. I mean, who wants to offend the elderly? Who wants to offend Latinos?” Amen. We have guilt. Yes. “The result is to make our choices work by postponing those choices. A sensible society would long ago have begun adapting to longer life expectancies, better health and greater wealth by making careful cuts in Social Security and Medicare. We have done little. Unfortunately, these two problems intersect. Just coincidentally, the Census Bureau projects both the 65-and-over population and the Hispanic population to be about a fifth of the total by 2030. The seasoned citizen population right now is about 12%. The tax increases that will be required to pay for existing federal commitments to the elderly are on the order of 30 to 40%,” and, by the way, this is not new news.
If you go back and look at any president’s budget, any year — go back when we started this program in 1988 — you’ll find that if things don’t change, future tax rates are projected at 78, 75%. We have mentioned this before. “People who don’t think that there will be conflicts between older beneficiaries and younger taxpayers, be they Hispanic or not, are deluding themselves. People who imagine that there won’t be more conflicts between growing numbers of poor Latinos and poor African-Americans for jobs and political power are also deluding themselves.” He doesn’t say this, but what his piece also drives home is that this really isn’t “immigration” that we’re talking about, at least on the illegal side. We’re not worried about assimilation or acculturation. We’re not even focusing on that. It’s strictly a jobs and wages issue for people that are coming and for their supporters.
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