Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Robert Samuelson on Importing Poverty

In an op/ed entitled 'Importing Poverty," Robert J. Samuelson highlights the relationship between immigration and poverty:

"The government last week released its annual statistical report on poverty and household income. As usual, we -- meaning the public, the media and politicians -- missed a big part of the story. It is this: The stubborn persistence of poverty, at least as measured by the government, is increasingly a problem associated with immigration. As more poor Hispanics enter the country, poverty goes up. This is not complicated, but it is widely ignored.


Consider: From 1990 to 2006, the number of poor Hispanics increased 3.2 million, from 6 million to 9.2 million. Meanwhile, the number of non-Hispanic whites in poverty fell from 16.6 million (poverty rate: 8.8 percent) in 1990 to 16 million (8.2 percent) in 2006. Among blacks, there was a decline from 9.8 million in 1990 (poverty rate: 31.9 percent) to 9 million (24.3 percent) in 2006. White and black poverty has risen somewhat since 2000 but is down over longer periods.


We need an immigration policy that makes sense. My oft-stated belief is that legal immigration should favor the high-skilled over the low-skilled. They will assimilate quickest and aid the economy the most. As for present illegal immigrants, we should give most of them legal status, both as a matter of practicality and fairness. Many have been here for years and have American children. At the same time, we should clamp down on new illegal immigration through tougher border controls and employer sanctions."

Although I am not sure that Samuelson's immigration reform suggestions necessarily flow from the poverty data, he does provide food for thought.


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"practicality and fairness"

You forgot to include an increase in illiteracy, always a detriment to society. The honest citizens of this country never contracted to permit illegal immigrants to enter our country, so we were never under an obligation to be fair to them, and as to practicality, illegal aliens managed to find there way here, so they'll find their way back through attrition as they are unable to find work. As to their children, the onus is on the head of the head of the family who conceived them or brought them here. Amnesty for these people only encourages others to come and attempt to live their lie through deceit and fraud. Sending everyone back will send a message that we're serious about enforcing our laws. Permitting those who've been here for years only rewards their ingenuity in avoiding deportation, not something we should be doing.

The H-1B visa program has to be re-vamped to stop employers from failing to give preference to U.S. citizens and from firing U.S. citizens just to employ lower cost employees. For every H-1B visa holder hired, an employer should be taxed and the money put in escrow to improve the competetiveness of U.S. The goal should be to minimize H-1B visa holders. The government should review the success of the program and increase the tax should private industry fail to meet certain goals and reduce the tax in the case of extraordinary success.

Our citizens should always receive the greater share of rewards from our nation over that of non-citizens, as we and our forefathers are the ones that shed the blood, and sweat to make this country what it is today. We may be a nation of immigrants, but it is the citizens who are the good stewards who have the responsibility to govern and fight the wars to ensure that we survive in this hostile world.

Posted by: Horace | Sep 5, 2007 8:19:52 AM

I think Samuelson's point is more relevant, at least in terms of closing the book on some issues, to the poverty debate than to the immigration debate.

Simply put, the "other America" to which John Edwards refers is LATIN America - people in America are not slipping into poverty, rather, poor people from Latin America are slipping into the US. This is not only the result of illegal immigration but of trends in legal immigration toward immigration of persons with an ever-decreasing level of skill, education and personal wealth. Forty and fifty years ago we imported skilled tradesmen from Italy and Poland; today we import unskilled and uneducated people from Latin America.

I rather like Latin American culture - it's closer to pre-PC American culture than today's PC culture is. Personally, I think that if we could shut off benefits, provided no path to citizenship, and screened for disease and criminal background, we'd be just fine letting these folks come here for work, if they can find it. And because they buy things, they don't take away jobs on a net basis.

But their vast numbers are what is driving the increase in poor people, as well as the slowness of the increase in the median household income, as well as the ranks of the uninsured, as well as infant mortality.

Net, the number of poor people in America increases at between 20 and 25 percent of the rate at which poor people move to the US - - - that means that people already here are moving UP, NOT DOWN. It disproves everything Edwards has to say about the poor, it disproves everything Krugman has to say about income inequality and mobility, and it disproves everything Hillary Clinton has to say about health insurance.

And that is why nobody wants you to hear it.

Posted by: Patrick Trombly | Nov 14, 2007 7:58:03 AM

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