Wattenberg Wipes Floor With Krikorian—Fallaciously

Sophistry thy name is Wattenberg.

, that is. A long time senior fellow at the
American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which gains its
succor from corporate and conservative donors,
Wattenberg specializes in using anecdotal
to subvert arguments backed with
credible data.

I say this based on his performance at
the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) press
briefing on the release of its latest Backgrounder
study, "100
Million More: Projecting the Impact of Immigration
On the US Population, 2007 to 2060
, today,
August 30, at the National Press Club here in DC.

Wattenberg [send him
mail] was a member of the panel
discussion which included

Mark Krikorian,
CIS Executive Director,

Steve Camarota
, CIS Director of Research, and

Roy Beck,
Executive Director of

Wattenberg slyly

diverted the focus of the meeting
with his
often-absurd anecdotes and comparisons, which
undoubtedly was his objective.

In introducing the panel, Krikorian
noted that, while the US government had

no stated official population policy,
actions in permitting a massive number of
immigrants, both


to enter the country since

, constituted

an implicit population policy.
As Backgrounder
author Steve Camarota explained, using updated US
Census Bureau projections, this will likely add 100
million more people by 2060. Significantly, that
number assumes more legal alien arrivals than
illegal—a fact which is currently being overlooked
by far too many of our government officials, who
have gotten the message

only about illegals

Roy Beck then questioned strongly

adding that number of people
would improve the
quality of American life. Beck noted that polls
taken over decades constantly showed that most
Americans wanted immigration reduced.

Enter master sophist Wattenberg, whose
most recent book is Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future.

In a low-voiced, avuncular manner,
Wattenberg started with an anecdote, saying
"Plural anecdotes are data."
This should have
brought hoots of derision from his press corps
audience. But it didn`t. Then, he introduced his

, Iris, who sat directly behind me in
the audience. She, Wattenberg reported, had come to
America illegally years before. Her present status
was unexplained. But then no one asked.

Iris is the mother of three children,
presumably born here, making them American citizens
(some of us think of them as

"Anchor Babies"
because they can bring in

alien relatives
). Iris`

husband has left her
and she is coping as a
single mother. One child, a fifteen year old boy, is
now a

sophomore in high school
and a linebacker on the
football team. He is patriotic and will be

well educated
and will make a great contribution
to America—according to his mother`s employer, that

Give me a break, Mr. W. How about those

illegal aliens

those young American college students

in Newark?

remains the default-mode
gambit of the open border advocates. But, doubtless,
Iris` story will make AEI`s contributors beam with

Next, Wattenberg noted that in 1790 the
US population was 4 million and now is over 300
million, a "75 times growth", and we became
the greatest country in the history of the world, he
said. So why should we worry if the increase from
now to 2060 of only 56%?

"What`s the problem",
he went on to opine, since we have so

much open space
and too many of us live on the
two coasts. Plenty of

open spaces
, he chanted.

Would he solve things by putting

more people

South Dakota?
Apparently. You can go there, Mr.
W. Their winters are smashing! The little matter of

arable land

water resources
was not noted.

Then of course he played the race card,
saying that

every wave
brought groans from

, about the new comers.


, etc. were all hated initially but made
huge contributions. He added that the "Hate Du
is now Mexicans, who in their

in the

US military
have garnered more Medals of Honor
(did he mean in the current

Iraq War?
) than any other ethnic group.

This is a


Anytime one of the other panelists
offered comments after their opening statements,
Wattenberg constantly popped in with "Let me
For example, at one point, contesting

de facto government
of massive immigration and non
enforcement of immigration law, Wattenberg cleverly
managed to position CIS`s Krikorian as being against

Social Security
, which could fail in the next
generation, even though Camarota`s study clearly
demonstrates that importing this unneeded next 100
million will very minimally add to the number in the
US work force. This opening gave Wattenberg license
to go on about how popular

Social Security
was with everyone, etc.,
implying that it was somehow related to the topic
under discussion and that Krikorian was somehow on
the lunatic fringe.

Jousting with a sophist can be very

if the facts push the sophist into a corner
N`est pas?

Wattenberg`s hobby horse issue,
addressed in his book, Fewer, is fertility
rates, which have declined in many countries—not
just in

rich, western countries,
but also in some

poor, less-developed countries
. That the planet
currently adds over 70 million a year in net new
persons, over 95% of them in

“developing nations”
, and that total world
population will certainly reach 9 billion by 2100
apparently fazes him not a whit. Global warming and
the other problems must not be on his radar scope.

just wants more people.
Above all, he considers
more immigration into the US an

unmitigated joy

Wattenberg attacked

Pat Buchanan`s
argument that the US is being

overrun by  aliens
with another anecdote–his
form of data-gathering–by citing a couple at a
Waldorf Astoria cocktail party of "hundreds of
in the hotel ballroom who, upon seeing
an "immigrant couple from Mexico" enter, say,
"See, we`re being swamped." Again, the racist
card—and a determination, which must please his
corporate donors, to ignore not only the illegal
alien invasion, but also the larger threat of
present levels of legal immigration.

Camarota pointed out that an intruding
couple at a cocktail party hardly described the

repeated arrival
of millions of aliens both
legally and illegally. But Wattenberg`s barrage of
irrelevant comparisons continued throughout the

This CIS report asks Americans to weigh
in on this question: Do we want an additional 100
million people here in the next 50 years?

Are they needed and who benefits from
their arrival are not questions the report answers.
Clearly, Wattenberg`s allies—the US Chamber of
Commerce, the

US Conference of Catholic Bishops
and the
various ethnic lobbies—have agendas: cheaper labor
and more members for their groups. Most American
citizens can plainly see with their own eyes the
effect of growth since WW II. It doubled our
population size to 306 million and could raise it to
1 billion by 2100. Crowding is bad enough. But we
ignore the vital topics of cultural and political
assimilation at our peril.

Of course, neither Wattenberg nor I will
be around to see that 2060 date. But I close with my
own anecdote. At 77, I remain fully employed and I
notice that many of my age group are similarly
occupied. I have many friends doing useful work well
into their 90s. (For that matter, Wattenberg is 74.)

Backgrounder author Camarota`s study
assumes a labor force of ages between 15 and 64. He
points out that one way to fix Social Security would
be to raise the retirement age. I suspect that as
automation progresses even further, old folks like
me will be even more capable of doing work that
companies will want to pay for. To add

cheap, young, uneducated workers
to our work
force at

poverty level wages
, as Wattenberg wants,
claiming that

they do work Americans won`t”
, simply is
not smart.

Further, if pay is adequate, young
will be available. And those early
entry-level jobs make a huge impression on their
values and life outlook—if my case (another
anecdote!) is any measure.

David Francis noted in his May 21, 2007
Christian Science Monitor article,

Fuse on the `population bomb` has been relit

"Two years ago, the
United Nations projected that the number of people
on this planet would reach 8.9 billion by 2050. In
March, the UN Population Division revised that
projection to 9.2 billion. If UN demographers are
right, in 43 years the world`s population will
increase by 2.5 billion, up from 6.7 billion today.
That growth is equivalent to how many people lived
on Earth in 1950. The difference in the two UN
projections, separated by only two years, is equal
to today`s population of the United States"

Hardly a "birth dearth, "Mr.

[Wattenberg`s "Wattenblog" is
–and comments are open.]

Donald A. Collins [email
him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own.