Diversity Is Strength. It's Also The Worst Sort Of Welfare State

Intellectuals as politically contrasting as David Goodhart, editor of the fine British centre-left journal Prospect, and Frank Salter, the perceptive rightist political scientist, have argued that immigration undermines the welfare state by sapping solidarity among fellow citizens.

It's not a coincidence that social insurance programs began in homogenous Bismarckian Germany. Nor is it an accident that today they are perhaps most overwhelmingly popular in Finland, the only Western European country with hardly any immigrants.

Goodhart's cover story in the June 2006 issue of Prospect, "Put Out More Flags: A Case for Progressive Nationalism", is a follow-up to his much-discussed 2004 essay "Too Diverse?" He warned the British Labour Party that mass immigration threatens white working class support for the welfare state by importing too many freeloaders. Goodhart was expressing, for different reasons, the same insight that Milton Friedman offered in 1999: "You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state."

Now, Goodhart notes:

"The welfare state was designed in an era of closed borders and a more instinctive sense of national solidarity."

He defends nationalism against the fashionable post-nationalism of the Labourite chattering classes:

"Alongside the hatred it has generated, it is also responsible for many of the most positive aspects of modern societies—the idea of equal citizenship, the readiness to share with and make sacrifices for stranger-citizens."

Many on America's Establishment Right see this corrosion of trust among citizens as a virtue of multiculturalism. Jonah Goldberg even asserted in National Review that "immigrants fight off socialism".

Nonsense, of course. Immigrant-destination cities in America, from 19th Century New York to 21st Century Santa Ana, have hardly been lacking in government largesse flowing from an ethnic spoils system.

But does immigration-fueled diversity decrease or increase government spending?  

The unfortunate truth: diversity appears to lead to the worst of both worlds:

  • less spending on honest programs benefiting those who need it;

  • more on ethically-dubious giveaways to those who don't.

In countries like the United States still blessed with a "market-dominant majority", heightened racial heterogeneity means less support for social insurance programs for the least fortunate citizens combined with more race-based handouts for the best-connected.

As Goodhart noted in 2004, pervasive Nordic-style social insurance schemes have flopped in America because of the lack of solidarity across ethnic lines.

And also, to be frank, because blacks, American Indians, and to a somewhat lesser extent, Hispanics have shown that they get corrupted faster by the "moral hazard" of social insurance than do whites.

Sweden began its welfare state in 1935, and, amazingly, it hasn't completely wrecked the Swedish work ethic yet. Although American free marketeers have been gleefully anticipating the imminent demise of the Swedish economy as far back as I can remember in the 1970s, last week's GDP figures showed that Sweden grew 4.1 percent over the last year.

In contrast, in the mid-1960s when liberal northern states in America imported Swedish ideas about raising welfare for single mothers to generous levels, crime and illegitimacy rates among blacks shot upward almost immediately.

This quickly alienated white voters. The Democratic Presidential candidates' share of the overall vote plummeted from 61 percent in 1964 to 43 percent in 1968.

Here in the U.S., the big increase in diversity from immigration has not yet led to much in the way of increased tax-and-spend redistribution policies on the national level. (Instead, President Bush has pursued an "Après moi le deluge" strategy of cut-tax-and-spend.)

This pattern, though, can be seen in some states. New Mexico, which has always been ethnically diverse, is notorious for its economic fecklessness and dependence on the federal treasury. After six generations as Americans, the Hispanics of New Mexico continue to exhibit traditional Hispanic attitudes toward political economy, suggesting that the miracle cure of "assimilation", which is supposed to solve all our problems with immigrants Real Soon Now … won't.

(A similar culturally-determined corruption is also coming to the once famously honest civil servants of Britain, thanks to immigration. The Guardian has just reported

"A secret high-level Metropolitan police report has concluded that Muslim officers are more likely to become corrupt than white officers because of their cultural and family backgrounds. The document, which has been seen by the Guardian, has caused outrage among ethnic minorities within the force, who have labeled it racist and proof that there is a gulf in understanding between the police force and the wider Muslim community. The document was written as an attempt to investigate why complaints of misconduct and corruption against Asian officers are 10 times higher than against their white colleagues.") [Secret report brands Muslim police corrupt | Fury over internal Met study which says Asians need special training, The Guardian, By Sandra Laville and Hugh Muir,  June 10, 2006]

At the federal level in the U.S., taxes on the rich keep going down. Partly, this is because the Hispanic vote is still much smaller than is widely imagined (only 6.0% in the 2004 election according to the U.S. Census Bureau). And, also, this is because the parties are increasingly in effect turning into the White Party and the Not White Party, with the more racially-unified GOP doing a more effective job of clinging to power than the more ethnically-fractured Democrats.

Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore noted recently:

"In multiracial societies, you don't vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion."

Maybe that's just his excuse for running a one-party state.

But at least Singapore is an honest one-party state, As America has gotten more diverse, though, we've seen a trend back toward an older form of politics reminiscent of the days of Robber Barons and Tammany Hall, when various elites struck deals with each other for their mutual benefit and the public be damned. More diversity seems to lead to more race-based payouts for the upper reaches of society.

For example, diverse Chicago has been a corrupt one-party city for generations. In the Windy City, the standard method for persuading so many immigrant groups to cooperate politically has been to cut the leaders of each bloc into a slice of the graft. (And Chicago is now as much of a hereditary dynasty as Singapore, with the Daleys, father and son, running it for 38 of the last 51 years.)

There's so much romanticized worship of the Ellis Island immigration wave in the American media these days that it's heretical to mention that massive European immigration a century ago was a blow to honest republican rule at the local level. It's hard to run a multiethnic city without venal machine politics.

The Progressive Movement of roughly 1890-1930 was a two-front struggle against the big business bosses on the one hand and the immigrant political bosses on the other. But that latter fact has been shoved down the memory hole in the orgy of Ellis Island nostalgia.

A century ago, Republican governor Hiram Johnson rewrote the California constitution on Progressive principles. This system based on civic virtue worked well as long as California was populated primarily by Midwestern transplants. But as the state has become more diverse, it has become less governable. Indeed, California would probably be better off now with a corrupt Chicago-style ethnic machine than with trying to make do with Johnson's system.

Right across the U.S., as class-based ideologies have declined, they've been replaced with ethnocentric politics where crafty leaders line their pockets by portraying themselves as the paladins of their people.

In the last third of the 20th Century, for example, Jesse Jackson perfected a shakedown scheme in which he threatens to unleash black protestors against rich corporations for purported racial offenses. The deep-pocketed targets then buy Jesse off by giving no-bid contracts to various black entrepreneurs affiliated with him, who then kick donations back to Jesse's civil rights organizations. Although Jesse and his black millionaire friends do very well out of this lucrative perpetual motion machine, the rest of the black population gets nothing tangible … except the vicarious pleasure of watching a few of their own stick it to The Man.

Similarly, from 1969 onward, the U.S. has indulged in ethnic quotas for public and private jobs, university admissions, government contracts, and the like on a vast scale. This has done little for the lower half of the minority populations but much for the upper half.

For example, in the University of Michigan law school case of 2003, the Supreme Court upheld ethnic quotas for admission to postgraduate professional schools. There was strong pressure on the Court from university presidents and corporate CEOs to validate these widespread racial preference programs. In the end, the Bush Administration effectively saved affirmative action through its briefs to the Supreme Court—essentially as part of its Hispanic outreach a.k.a. bribery program.

And yet barely half the blacks and Hispanics in the country graduate from high school. Only a small percentage of them apply to the kind of selective colleges where quotas matter. To the top 10% of blacks and Hispanics, college quotas are a big deal, but for the other 90%, they are irrelevant.

Nevertheless, preserving college quotas, not improving K-12 education for minorities, was the pressing issue for Civil Rights Establishment in America. The leaders' interests trumped their followers'.

As Francis Fukuyama famously pointed out in 1989, the wars of ideology are over and the capitalist welfare state has won. He was wrong, however, to call that "The End of History".

Instead, after the 200-year ideological interlude from 1789 to 1989, history has merely reverted to the old, endless struggle over "Who? Whom?"

Within the loose parameters of the capitalist welfare state, there is endless room for the exploitation by the clever of the clueless—of all races.

And this unedifying process is exacerbated by immigration-driven diversity.

[Steve Sailer [email him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog.]