Don Peck`s Atlantic Unemployment Cover Story: Where`s The I-Word?

The Democrats`

of the Massachusetts Senate seat

long held
by Teddy Kennedy has driven Washington, which
had spent most of the last couple of years worrying about

subsidizing Wall Street

socializing health care
, into finally starting to think
about jobs.

It`s about time. The March issue of
The Atlantic
features Don Peck`s long, well-researched, and deeply
depressing cover story

How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America
. Peck

have] suffered
roughly three-quarters of the 8 million job losses since the
beginning of 2008 … In November, 19.4 percent of all men in
their prime working years, 25 to 54, did not have jobs, the
highest figure since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began
tracking the statistic in 1948.”

implications, as Peck explains, are baleful:

this era of high joblessness is probably just beginning.
Before it ends, it will likely … leave an indelible imprint
on many

blue-collar men.
It could cripple marriage as an
institution in many communities. It may already be plunging
many inner cities into a despair

not seen for decades

the gravity of the unemployment problem, there has been
almost zero discussion in the Main Stream Media of the role
of immigration policy in how we got here—and how changes in
immigration policy could
get us out of this jam.

After Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
(D-NV) responded to Scott Brown`s election by announcing he
was fast-tracking a bipartisan jobs bill, eight Republican
Senators released a

joint letter
to Reid with their suggestions. Sen. Jeff
Sessions, who did so much to save America from the
Bush-Kennedy-McCain amnesty bills of 2006 and

, and his seven colleagues recommended a half-dozen
commonsense steps for reducing unemployment among American
citizens by
effectively enforcing laws against illegal immigration.

Keep in mind, these Republicans` letter
didn`t even mention anything about

legal immigration
as imposing a

temporary moratorium
until the employment problem clears

Of course, none of the Patriotic Eight`s
illegal immigration reforms made Reid`s bill, which turned
out to be the usual Official

Consensus of spending increases and tax cuts.
(As of Sunday morning, that bill`s progress had stalled due


almost none of the press coverage about unemployment
mentions immigration.

For example,
has been tracking on for
years the closest the federal government will come to
measuring the impact of immigration on jobs: the

ratio of Hispanic to non-Hispanic jobholders.
Tuesday, Ed

that Hispanic employment is up 22.4 percent
since January 2001, while non-Hispanic employment is down
2.5 percent.

often have you ever heard that figure echoed in the
Establishment press?

Or consider how immigration is the missing
element in Peck`s article in
The Atlantic on
the impact of unemployment. Peck, the deputy managing editor
of The Atlantic,
clearly did an admirable amount of work on the topic. For
example, many of the points Peck makes about how long term
male joblessness will exacerbate dysfunctional family trends
that were well under way during the

Housing Bubble
are outstanding, if I say so myself.

In fact, I more or less have said so
myself many times in articles on

affordable family formation

According to Peck, high unemployment means marriage rates
will decline further:

“Studies have shown
that even small changes in income have significant effects
on marriage rates among the poor and the lower-middle class.
`It`s simply not respectable to get married if you don`t
have a job …`”

But although I`ve been remarking on this
, I certainly wasn`t the first to notice it.

Franklin was.

Affordable family formation—the observation that America has
been a relatively happy place because marriage and children
were made affordable by our historical legacy of abundant,
and thus cheap, land plus scarce, and thus well-paid,
workers—is the oldest social science theory in American
history. America`s most valuable thinker, Benjamin Franklin,
devised it in 1751 in his essay

Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind
When families can be easily
supported, more persons marry, and earlier in life."

Unfortunately, it`s also perhaps the least known
breakthrough in our intellectual history. Franklin`s great
insight about the fundamental cause of American
prosperity—our big, empty continent—has been shoved down the
memory hole, in part because Ben stated clearly its logical
corollary: limiting immigration would increase the happiness
of Americans.

While marriage today remains restricted to
those who can afford it, fertility, as I`ve also
, does not. Peck notes:

“Childbearing is the opposite story. The stigma against
out-of-wedlock children has by now largely dissolved in
working-class communities …
a public-policy professor at Duke
University, recently found that among adults with no college
degree, changes in income have no bearing at all on rates of

ongoing disconnection of marriage and baby carriage is very
bad news. Peck says:

the time the average out-of-wedlock child has reached the
age of 5, his or her mother will have had two or three
significant relationships with

men other than the father,
and the child will typically
have at least one half sibling. This kind of churning is
terrible for children …”

Bradford Wilcox, head of the U. of Virginia`s National
Marriage Project, asserts:

“We could be headed
in a direction where, among elites, marriage and family are
conventional, but for substantial portions of society, life
is more matriarchal.”


is a euphemism for the

kind of familial disorder
that plagues

black America,

, and Sub-Saharan


Kathryn Edin
, a

Harvard professor of public policy
, worries:

“These white
working-class communities—once strong, vibrant, proud
communities, often organized around big industries—they`re
just in terrible straits. … I hang around these
neighborhoods in South Philadelphia, and I think, `This is
beginning to look like the
inner-city neighborhoods
we`ve been studying for the
past 20 years.`”


white working class areas in the U.S. go part way toward the
social decay of black slums?

Judging from Britain`s experience, the
danger is real. The severe unemployment seen in Britain in
the 1970s and 1980s appears to have helped midwife the
emergence of a white
chav culture of

binge drinking,

that flourished through the English boom of the
last decade. The recent media tizzy in the U.S. over the hit
MTV reality show Jersey Shore, which
showcased the

proudly moronic
Staten Island equivalents of chavs,
suggests that our culture could be ripe for a similar


young men can`t transition into formal-sector jobs, they sell
and drink and do drugs. And it wreaks havoc on
family life. They think, `Hey, if I`m 23 and I don`t have a
baby, there`s something wrong with me.` They`re following
the pattern of their fathers in terms of the timing of
childbearing, but they don`t have the jobs to support it. So
their families are falling apart—and often spectacularly.”


“We are living
through a slow-motion social catastrophe, one that could
stain our culture and weaken our nation for many, many years
to come. We have a civic—and indeed a moral—responsibility
to do everything in our power to stop it now, before it gets
even worse.”


So, in
light of how severe the situation is, can we now, finally,
talk about immigration?

Apparently not.

A quarter of a millennium after Franklin explained the
economic impact of immigration, Peck is intellectually
shackled by the code of silence prevailing around the topic
today. He only mentions immigration twice in his ten
thousand-word article.

  • First, he cites sociologist

    William Julius Wilson`s
    research on the disastrous
    ramifications of black men exiting the work force. (In
    1960, 90 percent of black men were employed versus only

    76 percent
    in prosperous 2000.)

Peck paraphrases Wilson on how new competition for jobs
worsened black behavior:

downwardly mobile black men often resented the new work they
could find, and displayed less flexibility on the job than,
for instance, first-generation immigrant workers. As a
result, employers began to prefer hiring women and
immigrants, and a vicious cycle of resentment,
discrimination, and joblessness set in.”

Presumably, Prof. Wilson can afford to mention the I-word
because he`s 74-years-old,

at Harvard, and black.

  • Secondly, toward the end, Peck himself cites Harvard
    economic historian

    Benjamin Friedman
    worrying that “When material
    progress falters … anti-immigrant sentiment typically
    increases …”

other words, Peck (and Friedman) appear to think that the
of Americans having jobs is that then we can

American public debate is so stultified by this immigration
omerta that a
couple of allusions to immigration over 10,000 words might
be considered progress toward a new era of intellectual

Peck himself claims we`re facing a “New Jobless Era”.
How long does it have to go on for before our political
class can bring itself to consider some new (or at least

) ideas?

The Atlantic

[Steve Sailer (email
him) is

movie critic

The American Conservative

His website

features his daily blog. His new book,