Sailer on Unz: Immigration, The Minimum Wage, And The Rule Of Law

In his The American Conservative magazine, physicist-turned-entrepreneur Ron Unz has just offered a lengthy critique of what he kindly identifies as the Sailer Strategy: the idea that the GOP can only and could easily win by mobilizing its white base, by championing issues that would actually benefit working class whites, such as an immigration moratorium. (Immigration, the Republicans, and the End of White America, American Conservative, September 21, 2011]. We’ve been writing about this for years on VDARE.com: one post-Obama discussion is here.

Ron also treats respectfully VDARE.com’s central contention: there are mass immigration is causing problems, both politically (especially for the GOP) and economically (for example, worsening income inequality.) And he has succeeded in getting this concept discussed on national television, in Counterpunch [The Republicans, Immigration and the Minimum Wage, By Alexander Cockburn, September 30, 2011]  and in National Review: Ron Unz on Immigration Part I,II,III,IV,V,etc (none of which acknowledged us, of course). Quite an achievement.

Heston As RichelieuWhile I quite enjoy being depicted as the evil brains behind the operation, rather like how Cardinal Richelieu is portrayed in The Three Musketeers, I must say that I was more struck by the second section of Ron's article, in which he offers a fairly novel policy proposal.

But on the Sailer Strategy: my perspective is far less triumphalist than Ron makes it sound. I merely argue that the short-term electoral costs of taking steps to deal with the long-term electoral threats to the GOP posed by decades of mass immigration and Affirmative Action are more bearable than the eventual electoral costs of doing nothing ... or of doing what the Democrats recommend.

The Democrats' intention, as they've made clear in countless public venues, is literally to “elect a new people” who will turn the United States into Chicago writ large: effectively, one-party rule. Maybe the Democrats' plan won't work, but it's hardly a secret that they expect to achieve permanent hegemony through demographic change.

This combination of mass unskilled immigration and Affirmative Action favored by the Democrats—a bizarre system under which foreigners, and their descendants unto the end of time, are legally preferred over American citizens—undeniably poses a severe threat to the long-term viability of the Republican Party.

My point: Republicans are better off dealing with this problem now rather than later. How, exactly, is this problem of hereditary privileges for illegal immigrants going to get better for Republicans by letting another generation go by?

In contrast, the conventional wisdom is largely driven by New York Times and Washington Post reporters calling up self-appointed Hispanic spokesmen who get right back to them with quotes saying, yes, indeed, the coming Hispanic Electorate Tidal Wave wants nothing more than more immigration.

In reality, that's what people in the Hispanic Spokesperson racket want. Actual Hispanic voters are more ambivalent.

Bush strategist Karl Rove operated on the assumption, in effect, that it makes sense for Republicans to agree to massively boosting the number of Hispanic voters in the long run (i.e., post-Rove) in order to achieve a short-term, Rove-benefitting boost in the percentage of Hispanics who vote Republican.

(This also happens to be what Democrats keep advising Republicans to do. Who do you think is better at coming up with a cynical strategy concerning Hispanics: Republicans or Democrats?)

Put like that, the Rove strategy doesn’t sound too sensible. So it usually comes with some claims about how the GOP will permanently boost their share of the Hispanic vote by doing an immigration deal now.

I find these claims implausible—Republicans in Congress voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act at higher rates than Democrats, but blacks' subsequent attitudes have been (sensibly enough): "What have you done for me lately?"

Moreover, Hispanic political elites are 90% Democratic—so where is the impetus for radical electoral change going to come from? Most Hispanic elites have benefited from Affirmative Action, so naturally they gravitate to the party whose constituents are, inevitably, more favorable toward Affirmative Action. That tendency is simply not going to change.

But why have ordinary Hispanics consistently voted Democratic as far back as we have exit polls? Of course, the margins among Hispanics are not as utterly overwhelming as among blacks, but they are certainly what would be labeled "landslides" in a general election. At the peak of the subprime bubble in late 2004, George W. Bush managed to lose among Hispanics by only a Walter Mondale-like 58-40 margin. (The early report that Bush got 44% of the Hispanic vote has long since been discredited, although that doesn’t stop Rove repeating it).

And that's as good as it gets with Hispanics for Republicans i.e. pretty disastrous.

Why? I think it only marginally involves immigration and even (to a greater extent) Affirmative Action. The fundamental problem for Republicans: Hispanics tend to be poorer than whites. Thus, it's perfectly rational for more Latinos to vote for the tax and spend party than for the GOP.

Children In Poverty 1976-2010Documenting this, a new Pew Hispanic Center report last week was grimly entitled Childhood Poverty Among Hispanics Sets Record, Leads Nation. [PDF] According to 2010 Census data, 35 percent of Hispanic children are poor. That's not quite as bad as the 39 percent among blacks, but it's far worse than the 12 percent among whites.

Among the children of immigrant Latinos, 40 percent are poor. Among the children of American-born Latinos, only 28 percent are poor—but even that's more than twice as bad as among whites and four-fifths as bad as among blacks.

Thus, for example, in 2002 with Karl Rove in charge of Republican messaging, GOP House candidates won 38 percent of the Hispanic vote (according to the long-lost 2002 exit poll data I tabulated). In 2010, with Russell Pearce of Arizona SB1070 fame the most forceful Republican voice on immigration, the GOP's share of the Hispanic vote plummeted all the way to ... well, it didn't fall at all. It was still 38 percent.

What can possibly explain this?

Well, illegal immigrants can't vote. And Latinos who can vote, it turns out, don't show the black-like levels of ethnic solidarity that the Main Stream Media expects of them.

The difference between 2002 and 2010, however, was that Hispanics made up 5.3 percent of voters in 2002 and, according to last week's newly released Census Bureau data, 6.9 percent in 2010.

That's not a tidal wave of new Latino voters; it's more like a tide. And this rising tide of Hispanic votes isn't going to lift all boats. But it will, all else being equal, tend slowly to drown Republicans.

Still, it's also crucial to remember that this future of Hispanic electoral dominance hasn't gone through the formality of taking place yet.

Clearly, it would have been electorally easier for Republicans to take the hard decisions about immigration and affirmative action in 2003 than in 2013. But, on Rove's watch, they signally failed. Yet, it will still be easier to do what needs to be done in 2013 than in 2023.

So if not now—when?

Now for Ron Unz’s minimum wage proposal.

Ron argues that immigration restrictionism will never fly politically ... but it's still a good idea for America! He writes

"Passing legislation to curtail immigration seems a political non-starter with both parties, and enforcing such legislation even if passed is equally unlikely. Yet as an almost inevitable consequence of the current system, the bulk of the American population—including the vast majority of immigrants and their children—falls deeper and deeper into economic misery ..."

So, rather than restrict immigration to raise wages, he proposes to raise wages to restrict immigration.

Ron's big suggestion is a "very substantial rise in the national minimum wage, perhaps to $10 or more likely $12 per hour." Unz contends that a higher minimum would cause the least valuable and least assimilated to self-deport:

"Those most recently arrived, especially illegal ones with weak language or job skills, would probably lose their jobs, especially since many of these individuals are already forced to work (illegally) for sub-minimum wages. However, workers who have been here for some years and acquired reasonably good language and job skills and who had demonstrated their reliability over time would probably be kept on, even if their employer needed to boost their pay by a dollar or two an hour."

Presumably, Democrats could be tricked into supporting this plot to encourage self-deportation because of the minimum wage's historic ties to FDR.

But Ron might be underestimating how strongly devoted to diversity uber alles modern liberals are.

And raising the minimum wage is going to be difficult in the current state of the business cycle.

Still, I rather like the idea, both for its symbolic value and as one component in a "defense in depth" strategy against low-skilled immigration. Ron presents a higher minimum wage as an alternative to traditional immigration restriction, but it's actually more of a complement. The more arrows we have in our policy quiver the better. We're going to need them.

As a statement of national intent, raising the minimum wage to lower the profit from unskilled immigrants would send a message countering the Davos class propaganda that the MSM has so faithfully transmitted for the last few decades: "Low wages are good for The Economy."

Superstitiously reifying "The Economy" as something that must be appeased by sacrificing American citizens' welfare is now taken as the height of intellectual sophistication ("I got an A- in Econ 101!"). Actually it’s the depths of naiveté. The simple reality is that poor-paying employers, such as, say, lemon growers, profit by passing on the costs imposed by their immigrant workers to schools, emergency rooms, jails, and so forth: in other words, to you and me.

In the past, Americans took pride in their heritage of making tremendous leaps forward in productivity—the steam ship, the telegraph, the telephone, the moving assembly line, the computer. These allowed us to prosper without teeming throngs of drudge laborers. Automating farm labor with the reaper and the tractor was particularly emphasized in the history books.

Heston As Cheap LaborThus, when Edward R. Murrow's Harvest of Shame documentary [YouTube] about the abuses of the Bracero guest worker program was broadcast in 1960, it was widely assumed that stoop labor should follow the same path of mechanization. In 1964, when the last braceros were removed from the fields, lemon pickers in Ventura County in Southern California were still using medieval technology, such as heavy wooden ladders. Growers then responded to their new need to employ expensive Mexican-American citizens by equipping workers with aluminum ladders and nylon bags. Productivity grew 147 percent in 13 years.

But in recent decades, the cult of diversity has rewritten this history to assign credit for America's wealth, not to our relative lack of population, but to the "huddled masses." This interpretation is assumed to be progressive and egalitarian. Yet, funny thing, the assumed policy implication (bring in some more huddled masses, pronto!) always turns out to benefit big employers.

Today, you only rarely hear anything bad about the stoop labor business. After all, it's a steady source of diversity. And diversity is our strength!

For example, consider how the story of union boss Cesar Chavez has been completely revamped—from anti-illegal immigration union boss to the patron saint of illegal immigrants—in such a way that just happens to favor the financial interests of the growers financial interests of the growers whom Chavez spent his prime years scheming against. It's one of the more ironic stories in American history. But nobody gets the joke.

Defense in depth has been successfully used by Finland to resist illegal immigration despite having an 816-mile border with Russia. Besides a fortified frontier, Finland has a wide range of internal identity checks. Moreover, every employer has to pay union wages, so there is reduced economic incentive to import less-skilled foreigners. If you have to pay everybody as if they are Finns, you might as well hire Finns.

Boosting the minimum wage is a not uncommon form of low-profile resistance to low-skill immigration. And it's not just effete Europeans. Affable, manly Australians do it, too. Ron cites booming Australia, where the minimum wage is currently $15.51 per hour in Australian dollars, or about $15 American. Yet, Australia's unemployment rate in August was 5.1 percent.

Australia is a big, sunny, empty, resource-rich place: California with duller scenery. It would attract many tens of millions of poor Third Worlders if the Aussies ever stopped coming up with excuses for keeping some of them out. Sure, the Australians could strip-mine their continent faster and sell all their minerals to the Chinese cheaper if they opened the floodgates to millions of coolies. But, what's the hurry? What's in it for the average Aussie?

In the U.S., the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, but some states set their own higher minimums. Tellingly, the state of Washington leads the country at $8.75 (going up to $9.04 in January). The second highest minimum is in Oregon, at $8.50.

What do these two whiteopian, but not hugely wealthy, states share? Most famously, a strong urge to resist Californication: the influx of millions of outsiders.

Sure, if the minimum wage were $1.25 per hour lower, Portland might have a few more jobs ("Portland: where young hipsters go to retire"). Yet Oregonians seem to understand that favorable long run demographics are more important than negative short run economics.

Portland's combination of a relatively high minimum wage with intense environmental restrictions on development attracts educated young white people and repels illegal immigrants.

The people of Portland seem pretty happy with that situation. 

Of course, there are several problems with raising the minimum wage substantially, even if the implementation were delayed until the next economic boom cycle (whenever that might be).

Recall the old joke in which the starving economist on the desert island trumps the physicist and chemist in their debate over how to open a can of beans: "Assume we have a can-opener."

Ron's suggestion implies: "Assume we have the rule of law." Of course, we don't anymore—at least not in labor markets corrupted by decades of illegal immigration. The honest Finns can pass legislation about employment with some confidence that the law will be obeyed. But we have depleted that ancestral patrimony. So a new law would mostly just put out of work law-abiding American citizens.

Now, a higher minimum wage could be adjusted with, say, a lower rate for American citizens or for American teenagers.

Unfortunately, the most useful exemption—a lower minimum wage for African-Americans to encourage employers to take a chance on hiring that least employed and most imprisoned group of American citizens—would be absolutely unthinkable today.

That's racist!

But I'll be back next week with a list of other policy proposals that Karl Rove would never, ever think of.