Culture-Realist Lawrence Harrison Blasts Another One Out Of The Park

VDARE`s Brenda Walker has frequently cited the work of Prof. Lawrence Harrison (Tufts University) on the relationship between culture and prosperity. See the chart here for an especially useful example.

Harrison repaired to the ivory tower after a career in the foreign-aid trenches in Mesoamerica. The Publishers Weekly blurb about Harrison`s 1993 book Who Prospers: How Cultural Values Shape Economic And Political Success starts out:

Why do some nations and ethnic groups prosper while others stagnate? Harrison, a former director of the U.S. Agency for International Development in Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, finds the answer in a culture`s values. In his diagnosis, Brazil`s hard-working, family-oriented European and Japanese immigrants spurred that nation`s dynamic growth, whereas Mexico`s economic disaster and failure to build solid democratic institutions are due to its “Hispanic value system” promoting passivity, mistrust of outsiders and an overemphasis on family.

Presumably spurred by what he saw during his years in Latin America, Harrison also has an enduring concern with mass immigration from points south. Colleague and admirer of the late Samuel Huntington, Harrison has proselytized for Huntington`s concept that preserving a livable American future depends upon our retention of “Anglo-Protestant values.” (At a conference I attended a few years ago, Harrison categorized himself as “an Anglo-Protestant Jew”!)

Although “Anglo-Protestant values” doesn`t explicitly appear in it, such concerns clearly undergird What will America stand for in 2050? The US should think long and hard about the high number of Latino immigrants, an op-ed Harrison has today, 5/28/2009, at the (now online-only) Christian Science Monitor.

Harrison minces no words:

Heavy immigration from Latin America threatens our cohesiveness as a nation.

The political realities of the rapidly growing Latino population are such that Mr. Obama may be the last president who can avert the permanent, vast underclass implied by the current Census Bureau projection for 2050.

Importantly for the forces of immigration sanity, Harrison mentions that he comes from the Democratic side, having been an early supporter of Wonderboy and, now, being an enthusiast about Sotomayor`s nomination to the Supreme Court. This is important because, in this op-ed, Harrison is saying these stern and sensible things in a fairly prominent forum as a Democrat.

He also writes,

The healthcare cost of the illegal workforce is especially burdensome, and is subsidized by taxpayers. To claim Medicaid, you must be legal, but as the Health and Human Services inspector general found, 47 states allow self-declaration of status for Medicaid. Many hospitals and clinics are going broke because of the constant stream of uninsured, many of whom are the estimated 12 million to 15 million illegal immigrants. This translates into reduced services, particularly for lower-income citizens.

“Self-declaration of status for Medicaid”! No wonder the American middle class would happily throttle most of our political class and the “helping professions” bureaucrats whom they hire to–very compassionately–disburse the taxes we pay.

Further,

[T]he same traditional values that lie behind Latin America`s difficulties in achieving democratic stability, social justice, and prosperity are being substantially perpetuated among Hispanic-Americans.

[snip]

Latin America`s cultural problem is apparent in the persistent Latino high school dropout rate – 40 percent in California, according to a recent study – and the high incidence of teenage pregnancy, single mothers, and crime. The perpetuation of Latino culture is facilitated by the Spanish language`s growing challenge to English as our national language. It makes it easier for Latinos to avoid the melting pot and for education to remain a low priority, as it is in Latin America …

Language is the conduit of culture. Consider: There is no word in Spanish for “compromise” (compromiso means “commitment”) nor for “accountability,” a problem that is compounded by a verb structure that converts “I dropped (broke, forgot) something” into “it got dropped” (“broken,” “forgotten”).

Harrison says, straightforwardly, that our decisions about legal immigration must take into account “past performance of immigrant groups with respect to acculturation.” And he closes with a few policy recommendations, the second of which [italicized below by me] is a new one and a good one:

We must declare our national language to be English and discourage the proliferation of Spanish-language media. We should limit citizenship by birth to the offspring of citizens. And we should provide immigrants with easy-to-access educational services that facilitate acculturation, including English language, citizenship, and American values.

Of course, this concedes that immigration will continue. But why should it?