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2005 August 31 Wednesday
Poverty Rises: Its The Immigration Stupid

The poverty rate in the United States has risen for the 4th year in a row!

WASHINGTON -- Even with a robust economy that was adding jobs last year, the number of Americans who fell into poverty rose to 37 million _ up 1.1 million from 2003 _ according to Census Bureau figures released Tuesday.

It marks the fourth straight increase in the government's annual poverty measure.

I looked in vane for major news stories that might mention the most likely cause of this trend: immigration. But alas, here's the sort of fare to be had:

"I was surprised," said Sheldon Danziger, co-director of the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan. "I thought things would have turned around by now."

"I was not surprised", said ParaPundit commentator Randall Parker, co-director of nothing in particular. "I thought things would continue to get worse as long as masses of low skilled workers were allowed to flood over the US-Mexico border".

In the article some Bush Administration spin-meister tried to pass the result off as a consequence of the last recession. Eventually the Bush Administration will have to shift toward blaming the next recession.

Here's an obvious clue to the cause which goes unobserved in the mainstream press:

Asians were the only ethnic group to show a decline in poverty _ from 11.8 percent in 2003 to 9.8 percent last year. The poverty rate for whites rose from 8.2 percent in 2003 to 8.6 percent last year. There was no noticeable change for blacks and Hispanics.

Lower class whites are getting their incomes kept down by the Hispanic influx. Plus, the number of Hispanics is growing and their poverty rate is much higher than the white poverty rate. So even if the Hispanic poverty rate does not grow the growth of the Hispanics as a percentage of the total populaton increases the percentage of the total population living in poverty. One cause of rising poverty is therefore obvious.

I searched in vain for commentators who could figure out the obvious. But again I came across Sheldon Danziger:

"There is still a generation of no progress against poverty," says Sheldon Danziger, codirector of the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan. "Somehow, we have to confront the fact that ... a rising economy no longer lifts all boats."

ParaPundit commentator Randall Parker said "Somehow we have to confront the fact that the law of supply and demand works in the labor market just as it does in other markets. A swelling low skilled labor force increases the ranks of those living in poverty while also increasing fiscal burdens of governments to pay growing social services costs. Worse yet, the influx of millions of low skilled workers, their poor performance in American school systems, and their competition for jobs and housing is lowering the quality of life for natives." Then ParaPundit realized he hadn't completed the pattern of poking at the original quote and he added "...a rising Hispanic demographic wave ties many boats to the pier while the flood waters rise."

Hispanics, who are the most rapidly increasing portion of total population, have the highest rate of lacking medical insurance.

The uninsured rate in 2004 was 11.3 percent for non-Hispanic whites and 19.7 percent for blacks, both unchanged from 2003. The uninsured rate for Asians declined from 18.8 percent to 16.8 percent.

The uninsured rate for Hispanics, who may be of any race, was 32.7 percent in 2004 — unchanged from 2003.

More Hispanics mean more poverty and a larger welfare state. The medically uninsured Hispanics also drive up the cost of medical insurance for everyone else.

Growth in the size of the welfare state prevented the medical uninsurance rate from rising.

As shown in this slide, employment-based health insurance coverage fell 0.6 percentage points between 2003 and 2004, while Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage increased 0.5 percentage points. Also, the percentage of persons covered by military health care increased by .2 percentage points.

Alfred Tella explains how immigration restriction would reduce the rate of poverty.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, noted last year in congressional testimony there is a good deal of evidence millions of Americans without a high school education directly compete with immigrants, and the idea "that there are jobs Americans won't do is simply false."

It follows, if low-skilled immigration were restricted, more Americans would be offered jobs at better wages. Fringe benefits and working conditions also would improve. There would be less income inequality, and welfare costs and poverty would decline. Employers would seek to offset higher wage costs by investing in and employing new technologies, thereby increasing productivity, profitability and economic growth.

The recovery from recession has been pretty jobless for whites and blacks. Also see my post "Hispanics Have Taken Bulk Of New Jobs In Last 4 Years".

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 August 31 12:46 AM  Immigration Societal Decay


Comments
John S Bolton said at August 31, 2005 4:40 AM:

The NYT covered this on p.a9(8 31 05), and of course they didn't mention mass immigration of illiterates. They did allow you to read between the lines, though, mentioning the Bronx and 3 counties on the "Texas-Mexico border" for having the 4 highest poverty rates of populous counties. Such trends are "likely to continue unless the job market becomes as tight" as the late 90's say they, regarding particularly the effect of medical insurance coverage. Here's the special stab of betrayal: an AEI "conservative research group" commentator, rather than mention immigration, explains "The gains have gone to the owners of capital and not to workers". Of course this can't mean we have too many workers competing on the low end and are needlessly importing huge numbers additionally,can it; can't there be shifts of this kind by a conspiracy of the rich against the workers, right?

tubino said at August 31, 2005 9:56 AM:

With strong labor laws setting a meaningful floor for wages, you could solve the problem domestically. You might even want strong labor unions to assist in preventing US workers from competing with illegal workers.

If Congress and the administration wanted to pass FAIR TRADE agreements that insist on phasing in meaningful floors for wages, environmental damage, benefits, etc., in agreements such as NAFTA and CAFTA, you could make progress internationally. Do you think European countries have these problems?

Now who in the world can you vote for that actually endorses positions like these? In the US, such positions are defined as "far-left." But when conservatives are figuring out that we have policy driven by short-term BUSINESS concerns, and not by longterm national (meaning ALL of us) concerns, there's a glimmer of hope.

Randall Parker said at August 31, 2005 10:06 AM:

Tubino,

Yes, some of us who think of ourselves as on the Right get the problem.

Yes, immigration policies are driven by short-term business concerns at the expense of the larger society. Cheap immigrant labor is subsidized labor. The rest of us pay so that some people can get cheap gardeners, cheap construction workers, cheap maids, cheap farm workers, etc.

Unlike some on the Right I'm not a knee-jerk supporter of whatever positions business lobbies take. I see them fleecing the taxpayers, polluting the air with coal burning eletric plants and chlorine plants, and importing a huge lower class to boost their short term profits and I'm enraged.

European countries have the problem of high unemployment. We have the problem of stagnant and even declining wages at the bottom. In inflation-adjusted terms our minimum wage is less than half what it was in 1968. We had full employment then.

Jim said at August 31, 2005 10:27 AM:

entertaining post.... I particularly enjoyed the quotes from the co-director of nothing in particular. How did you track down this expert??

The more I ponder this, the more I think the strategy for achieving less-stupid immigration policies require political alliances with the big losers - labor unions and medical providers (those that get stuck with the bill). Humor with simply understood facts for the general public are useful for countering big media's distorted message.

Randall Parker said at August 31, 2005 10:39 AM:

Jim,

I asked my dog if he'd offer an opinion. He just looked at me. Then it dawned on me: He looks to me for expert advice on how to get rid of fleas, how to get salmon smeared on his dog food, how to get french fries when I'm eating french fries, and all sorts of other things. I'm an expert in his eyes, and a talented expert at that. So emboldened with the knowledge that I'm held in such high esteem I decided I should stop turning down the requests I make to myself for interviews and quotes.

Engineer-Poet said at August 31, 2005 3:46 PM:

Get rid of the dog.  Get a cat.  You will quickly appreciate your true position in the universe.

Invisible Scientist said at August 31, 2005 6:08 PM:

The joblessness of the recovery is mostly due to the international labor arbitrage, which is due to the fact that corporations can conduct their businesses wherever they choose to. Immigration is not the real problem here. The solution is to raise the IQ of the existing population, and to make them work harder in high school and college, to compete with emerging countries.

In fact, it may also be argued that the bulk of the US recovery is thanks to the housing industry, which is in turn fueled by the high population increase in the US, which is in turn due to the high immigration. IF the immigration stops, the rate or consumption will decline nonlinearly, leading to an economic depression.

John S Bolton said at August 31, 2005 7:07 PM:

The housing construction is at a high level because of the availabilty of negative real interest rate mortgages, being handed out almost indiscriminately. The Bank of Japan provides the funding for this, but in a manner which is impracticable for much longer. The stagnation of median income during the last three decades of mass antimerit immigration, is also negative because of its effect on the growth of the class on net public subsidy. Raising median income by reversal of the third world influx, would decrease the aggression on the net taxpayer, which is otherwise set to automatically rise.

Martin Bauer said at September 1, 2005 2:28 AM:

"Invisible Scientist", how do you square your statement here ("The solution is to raise the IQ of the existing population") with what you said on Friday, Aug. 26?: "That the genes determine the IQ and hence all future success is clear. Therefore, in the future, all individuals will do anything possible, both legal and illegal, to have intelligent children, by means of genetics." Did I miss an ironic note anywhere, or are you calling for grand-scale genetic social planning as a tool to adjust national workers productivity to international challenges? I do not claim a nation’s reaching for the stars in fashioning a more viable citizenry leads necessarily to eugenics or euthanasia. But it certainly does renege on our proud pretension at having learned globalization makes the world a global village. In this respect, old Keynes himself was actually ahead of us.

Jay Z said at September 1, 2005 2:57 AM:

One major surprise here is that the white poverty rate grew, but poverty rates for other
races stayed the same or even shrank. I would've guessed that competition with poor immigrants
would've pushed wages down for people of every race. Maybe poor immigrants are starting to make
it over into states with large working class white populations.

Invisible Scientist said at September 1, 2005 4:28 AM:

Martin Bauer wrote:
""Invisible Scientist", how do you square your statement here ("The solution is to raise the IQ of the existing population") with what you said on Friday, Aug. 26?: "That the genes determine the IQ and hence all future success is clear. Therefore, in the future, all individuals will do anything possible, both legal and illegal, to have intelligent children, by means of genetics." Did I miss an ironic note anywhere, or are you calling for grand-scale genetic social planning as a tool to adjust national workers productivity to international challenges? I do not claim a nation’s reaching for the stars in fashioning a more viable citizenry leads necessarily to eugenics or euthanasia. But it certainly does renege on our proud pretension at having learned globalization makes the world a global village. In this respect, old Keynes himself was actually ahead of us."
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I have never kept track of my previous thoughts from August 26, and this worries me because every word I say on the Internet can and will be used against me... It seems that on August 26, I was trying to be ironic, but yesterday I was talking about raising the educational level of the children. But since you mentined the idea of practicing eugenics and other means to actually interfere with nature, this sounds like an interesting philosophy. After all, WHAT if the extremist fundamentalist religious group that is in competition with the United States for the control of the oil reserves, decides to use Eugenics in 10 years, to increase the IQ of their disciples in order to finalize the conquest of the West (beginning with Europe, where more of them are located geographically in comparison to the United States). Then the chances are very high that both the United States and Europe will be forced to "compete" with that fundamentalist group in the same area. For instance, as you probably know, it was Albert Einstein who signed that historic letter sent to President Roosevelt, to warn about the danger that the Nazis might be working on the atom bomb, and that unless the United States starts the Manhattan Project to surpass the Nazi Germany during World War II, the war might be lost. Of course, it turned out that the German physicist Werner Heisenberg had actually lied to the Gestapo during WW II, by telling them that the critical mass to build a uranium bomb was 1 ton of U235, whereas in reality it appears that Heisenberg had already figured out that the critical mass was close to 20 kilos, and the Nazis did not pursue their nuclear bomb project during the war... But in any case, the Manhattan Project in the United States, was started due to the fear that the Nazis might get the bomb before the United States. As a result, it appears that you have given us some thought provoking ideas, even though you might regret it like Einstein who felt very guilty for having encouraged the Mantattan Project after World War II. For instance, if genetic science becomes sufficiently advanced in 10 years, to increase the intellgence of children by means of very simple and medically safe methods, then it is guaranteed that the fundamentalist religious opponents who want to gain control of the oil reserves, will find this method of social warfare quite interesting...

Martin Bauer said at September 1, 2005 6:11 AM:

Sorry, Invisible Scientist, for having suspected you. Maybe, as being neither native nor fluent in English or American, I’ll just have to learn to listen more attentively in the first place, I’ll try. If you study the comments on the Friday blog you’ll find that I spontaneously grabbed the ironic meaning of your words without hesitation. I reoriented my reception to the false upon reading your comment here, because I am informed by the idea – tell me if it’s wrong – that the IQ is a congenital endowment, not amenable to training, thriving or education. So I presumed you were about trying to create some kind of "new (super)man". I beg your pardon.

Only one word yet to the deeper matter brought up in your clarifying reply: I am very well aware that there can be a clash of civilizations or will-to-powers, in which case there is an objective need to sharpen the competitive edge of individuals or societies lest they perish. I only hold that those who in these times (since the fall of the Soviet Union) promote this unending talk (1) of a clash of civilizations, while abandoning any reliable striving on their part for peace and reconciliation, and (2) of competitiveness as being gist and hinge of economic cooperation or even economics in general, have themselves the largest part in actually turning social and international relations to the remorseless.

Bob Badour said at September 1, 2005 7:23 AM:

Martin,

The conceit and prejudice revealed by the opinion that realistic observers of empirical facts have abandoned anything does not reflect well upon you--especially when the facts are so obvious and have such monumental importance as the simple observation that a majority of the humans on this planet value neither freedom nor the western liberal values engendering freedom. In fact, recent history clearly shows that at least a significant minority of the human population not only fails to value western liberalism but actively and violently rejects it.

Bengal tigers do not respect my values and my rights, and I choose not to keep bengal tigers in my home. I consider my choice prudent and the choice that promotes reconciliation and peace between bengal tigers and myself.

In the past, vast distances and high travel costs separated freedom loving westerners from those who hate everything we represent. Blissful ignorance of the evils of freedom and liberty in fact prevented those who hate us from realising it. Satellite T.V. and decreasing travel costs have eroded the protective barriers that once promoted peace and reconciliation.

Replacing those missing barriers with new barriers in the form of immigration restrictions likewise promotes peace and reconciliation. Deportation likewise promotes peace and reconciliation. Or would you prefer to wait for the killing of westerners to reach the point where the west has to kill in order to survive?

Martin Bauer said at September 1, 2005 12:47 PM:

Mr. Badour, provided we are not again subject to misunderstanding, let me say you this:

It is a rather bold remark to call it a simple and obvious fact that the majority of mankind lacks appreciation of freedom, just because observation of facts shows an increasingly fierce resentment of the western political and cultural way to realize freedom. The notion gets even bolder when applied to the majority group of immigrants into the U.S., Latin Americans, as far as I know, who should be credited with their own ties to civilization.

On the other hand, a policy of isolation designed to secure a minimal degree of peace and reconciliation fails on the simple grounds of just being in nobody’s mind to be implemented consistently. NAFTA, for example, tore down the barriers for capital, while upholding those for humans. Yet, there should be no doubt, economic clashes are a mode of existential struggle too. That is not meant to say immigration should be tolerated indiscriminately. I only say this: You must take into account that modern intercultural warfare is thoroughly asymmetric – and therefore needs asymmetric efforts likewise in order to restrain enmities and build up trust.

Bob Badour said at September 1, 2005 6:12 PM:

Martin,

What's so bold about it? Are you suggesting that the chinese value freedom?

I have met two chinese men who arguably left china to pursue freedom. Or arguably, they left china to escape religious persecution. The remainder of the chinese immigrants I have dealt with considered the western preoccupation with freedom rather quaint and naive. They came here for economic reasons having absolutely nothing to do with our values or our love of freedom. Talk to people and you will see.

Are you suggesting the peoples of Africa value freedom? Somalia? Rwanda? Sudan? Chad? I mean we are talking about the continent where the slave trade flourishes to this very day.

Are you suggesting that Islam values freedom? It explicitly values submission not freedom.

India has a middle and upper class indoctrinated in western liberalism, and a huge lower class who couldn't care less about it.

Are you suggesting the Pakistani value freedom?

From where do you intend to draw a simple majority of humanity who value freedom? Where are all these freedom loving people?

How many "1 man 1 vote 1 time" democracies do we have to have before we get it? Most of the people in the world do not have freedom simply because they don't want it. They are not willing to die to get it. They are not willing to inconvenience themselves to keep it.

I have no problem with a rational immigration policy that allows immigrants who either value western liberalism or who are willing to learn to value it. Why the hell do so many western countries have an almost open door policy for immigrants who hate us, hate our values and wish to end freedom in favour of religious edict?

I find denial of the obvious stupid and ultimately evil--regardless how well-meaning the intent.

As one who travelled freely across the border under a NAFTA work permit, I have to wonder where you get your ridiculous ideas. And I have to wonder why you think I would want to build trust with bengal tigers? What's the point in that? Live and let live I say. Let the tigers be tigers--someplace where they can do me no harm.

Martin Bauer said at September 3, 2005 10:39 AM:

Bob,

believe me, I'm with you that trueness to facts is an absolute precondition for doing or intending good. It's just that I don't think the facts can be understood by reducing them to the manifest. You'll never learn temper and character of a man by scientifically measuring the twinkles of his face, esp. when his countenance corresponds with your own behavior.
Let me tell you, I even agree with those Chinese in considering the liberal idea of freedom being the most basic and highest value quaint and naive. Yet I do very much value freedom as pivotal challenge of the public life of mankind, and there too I reckon to be not too far away from the yearnings of Asian people. Let me explain.

Everybody loves by nature his own freedom to do that what he conceives to be good or fulfilling, and he loves doing this not necessarily with pleasure, but certainly with a moderate degree of "spiritual ease", i.e. recognition by his environment, which is exactly what I would call freedom. Thus, every race, people, culture or religion loves its own freedom, and it tends to despise and distrust that of any other "cluster" of culture. Yet every religion or philosophy of meaning has some idea that the strife ensuing is neither good nor just. Even Islam shares in here, though, in this single case, I agree with you, that Islam's appreciation of a justice which makes for intercultural and individual freedom is crippled by its rigorous concept of holiness, allowing liberty only in the shape of some range of diversity within the confines of an uncompromising prevalence of its holy.

Yet Islam retains a value which post-Christian occident has lost. It questions most rigorously if freedom can be conceived without defining its "finality": freedom to do what is right, or freedom to live as one fancies. This question is thoroughgoing because biblical Christianity teaches us, that men do not do evil because the will evil (in general) but because they fail to use God’s grace to consider themselves capable of or already driven by evil, while yet being valuable as person. To put this in social terms, it is nowise obvious or probable that by favouring freedom a social bias is set up that effects a strain on individuals to interact in a "good", i.e. harmonious way. Significantly, the classical values of the occident are a triad, after all, wherein equality and social demands have a vital part to play too (see my reply to Rick Darby in the Friday, Aug. 26 blog).
Western society has this peculiarity that it finds the equilibrium between freedom and justice by juxtaposing individual freedom to some form of individual equality before a (vastly rationally conceived) law. Other cultures tend to blend them, thus remodeling justice or equity to a concept of honour, while freedom or self-realization is sought in some power of serenity or morale of salvation. In short, non-occidental cultures, including Islam, do not lack a concept of human freedom but they lack, just as you observe, easy compatibility with our conception of separating individual from collective (political, cultural and economic) rights that pertain to society in such a way that the individual is conceived to be partaker of them.

Now, Bob, in some way we are consistently talking at cross-purposes. You focus on immigration, while my topic (from the time, I responded to "Invisible Scientist") is intercultural relationship in general. Maybe there is even misunderstanding still involved. Let me be explicit. As I spoke of the "unending clash-of-civilizations-talk", I honestly did not think of Randall Parker, "Invisible Scientist" or any other contributor here. I thought of those who set up the ideological background of this debate, i.e. in the first line Samuel Huntington and Zbigniew Brzezinski, people used to seeing the world as a chessboard. They are knowledgeable without a doubt, but, as we all know, there is a way to be hip to almost anything and be blinkered nevertheless.

These persons have sought a new enemy for America to step into the shoes of the Soviet Union, and they have found it in Islam, and finally the public has shared in. You may trace all that in the relevant literature. Of course, you may argue the clash would have come anyhow, but I just believe otherwise. The main argument for the inevitability of a clash is the militant character of islam combined with demography. Yet, why is it nowadays to utterly despised to remember that high rates of population growth are due to social stagnation – and that there are no obvious reasons why this should not hold true in the islamic world as well? The allegiance U.S. has established all over the region with the national élites (Musharraf, Saudi royals, Mubarak, Gaddhafi), does very little to better social conditions or promote democracy, which must put up with some degree of islamic populism.
The clash-of-civilizations-rhetoric demands you to keep watch, but watch for what, with which outlook beyond the crisis, with which gage at least to measure progress? Beware of entering terrorists? Okay, but it's no means to overcome crisis. Fight against mass immigration? Well, you try it here, but it seems to be no top priority on the neocons' agenda. For what else? Democracy can't be it either, as we now learn – and you and I have suspected from the outset. Please tell me: What degree of fuzziness and inconsistency in the official definition of a cultural task the U.S. has to face, how much lack of precision in defining the enemy America shall wage war on does it take to allow for the suspicion, that the clash-of-civilizations-rhetoric is meant for nothing else but for its own perpetuation? To keep up a permanent state of alert, that yet brings ahead nothing, that even weakens people by exposing them to perennial stress.

I know, I will not gain much laurels in your eyes, but I want to ask you: Isn't it too easy to say, despotic conditions prove despotic dispositions? Why should the Germans e.g. have suddenly become democracy-minded after generations of republican poets and philosophers have failed to bring it about, why South-Africa or Japan (I know, they are semi-democratic, but America has known prolonged one-party-quasi-monopolies of power too); why is Turkey very well democratic, even while being not very liberal? There is a lot more weal and woe of history involved in determining a nation's polity than your argument allows for. Even in USA, "constitutional dictatorship", has been repeatedly deplored, and the Patriot-Act isn't exactly boding well for America’s contemporary ability to sustain vitally democratic procedures in case of national threat. So how can you uphold your thesis that democracy requires only collective will, and not also peace and social stability, when even with America there are conspicuous correlations between the levels of actual democracy and collective threat.

So, let me conclude, if you don't like a bengal tiger in your home, very well, I don't either unless needs be. I prefer my tiger that purrs, instead. Yet, things are different, when you do already live together in one village. Then, you are very much required to sustain trust if "live and let live" is to be anything more than a nice saying. And in modern world we live in this "global village", a fact which none of those who promote the cultural war outlook intends to turn back. Ask the Zapatistas, indigenous people of the Southern Mexican state of Chiapas, who rebel against neo-liberal policies because they do see drawbacks in NAFTA; ask the desperately hopeful adherents of the "Bolivarian Revolution" in Venezuela, which U.S. and European officials misrepresent as being undemocratic; the Iraqis who live without clean water but amidst a new media environment that reaches western levels of the licentious and undignified; the Indonesians, whose economy was wrecked in the late 90s by the overbearing and ignorant policy IMF had prescribed for them; the victims at Darfour, who are ground down in the foul truce between western powers and China concerning their strategic struggle to lay hold of dwindling oil reserves; the host of developing countries who agonize under the combined pressure of debt and high oil prizes, that are due to our decades-long denial of the obvious fact that fossil and nuclear energies offer no auspicious basis for a humane development of mankind as a whole; ask all those people if they agree that the powerplay of world-leading nations can be deemed conducive to "let them live". All these "grievances" are no conscious malevolance of this or that nation or of its people, some of them have very different parties sharing in guilt. My proposition is but that we finally take into account the complex nature of asymmetric life contest when it comes to the task of preserving peaceful respect in diversity and (not unduly intermingled) co-existence of cultures.

Kind regards,

Bob Badour said at September 3, 2005 2:29 PM:

Martin,

Refusing to ignore the patently obvious is not the same as reducing facts to the manifest. Nevertheless, the facts I mentioned above are manifest. A majority of the world's population simply has no interest in freedom or western liberalism.

Mostly what you write above sounds like gibberish. First, I observe freedom is not a possession of a culture, a race, a creed or a people. Individuals are free or individuals are not free. One cannot enslave a culture; although, one can enslave all of the indivuals who comprise the culture. Likewise, one cannot free a culture; although, one can free individuals who want freedom.


"recognition by his environment, which is exactly what I would call freedom."

Freedom is self evident and requires no external recognition. Either one is free, or one is not free. It makes no difference whether the tyrant proclaims his subjects free when they remain subject to his will.

I realise that english is perhaps not your mother tongue, but I respectfully suggest if you must redefine the english word "freedom" to mean something other than freedom, you fail to value it yourself.

You misunderstand my point regarding Islam. Islam rejects freedom entirely. The religion specifically commands everyone to submit and to relinquish one's own will for the prescriptions of the religion's fractured and somewhat irrational texts. Religious texts that pretend to pre-ordain all matters large and small from the manner in which the dead shall disperse their wealth to the persons one may choose as friends. And the base texts command those who have submitted to make others submit. The religion specifically prohibits freedom. If you doubt me, you may read the base texts for yourself.

As an atheist, I really don't care what the christian religious texts, doctrine or dogma say regarding freedom provided the texts allow freedom. I only insist that Christians respect my rights and allow me the freedom to practice my religion as I see fit. In fact, Christians in many parts of the world no more value freedom than did Mohammed. Luckily, here in the west, a sufficient number of Christians as well as Jews, animists, atheists, buddhists etc. do value freedom and western liberalism sufficiently to respect my rights.

You accuse me of focusing on immigration, and I beg to differ. I focus on the widespread conceit and prejudice you reflected when you wrote: "talk ... of a clash of civilizations, while abandoning any reliable striving on their part for peace and reconciliation". Those who bury their head in the sand and deny the clash abandon any hope of--let alone striving for--peace and reconciliation. Without a clash, what need we reconcile? If we already have peace, why strive?

I find perverse and counter-productive the conceit that recognition of a clash abandons striving for peace and reconciliation.

From that starting point, I expanded to include immigration, deportation and the eventuality of violence if we fail to act. My interest extends even beyond those issues to the issue of any social policy potentially affected by the widespread conceit as well as similar conceits.

I cannot help it if you latched solely on immigration.

I have never read Huntington or Brzezinski so I have no idea what comprises their ideology. That a clash among civilizations exists is nevertheless a factual observation that needs to influence our thoughts on a variety of topics and policy matters regarding not only how we interact with Islam, but with China and with the Third World as well.

I presume the abovemention ideologues included some specific policy recommendations in their polemics. And I assume you disagree with those recommendations.

Now that we clearly agree a manifestly evident clash exists, perhaps you could specify which specific recommendations you disagree with and which policies you would favour to reconcile the clashes?

Are you saying that Islamism did not exist as an enemy before Huntington pointed it out? Didn't the attacks on the Marines in Lebanon happen more than a decade before Huntington published his book? Didn't that attack come several years after the islamist revolution in Iran? I could have sworn Reagan was in power when the Marines came under fire and I distinctly remember the hostages were freed before Reagan took office. Do I misremember?

In fact, I could have sworn Arafat was killing Americans back in the 60's. And didn't a Palestinian militia invade Germany back in 1972? I could have sworn there was a little scuffle that year surrounding the Olympics in Munich.

I am not sure what literature you find relevant. In any case, aren't the actual historical events more important than what was written about them?

And I don't know why you focus on Islam. Certainly, China and North Korea present immediate threats as well. And doesn't the Clash of Civilizations also inform us regarding unfolding events in formerly allied secular governments? I am thinking of South Korea and Turkey, in particular, but I assume similar trajectories exist for other states whose relationships with the west were shaped by the cold war conflict between the USSR and the USA.


"you may argue the clash would have come anyhow, but I just believe otherwise."

Ah, perhaps here is the explanation. I did not realise you were arguing from a position of faith. I assumed you were trying to reason.


"degree of fuzziness and inconsistency"

I respectfully suggest that similar conceits and prejudices to those expressed by yourself create the fuzziness and inconsistency. Political correctness prevents rational discussion of who the enemy is. In the "war on terror", the enemy is islamism -- a virulent fascist political ideology born out of islam's base texts. Of course, the "war on terror" is not the only civilizational clash we face.


"Isn't it too easy to say, despotic conditions prove despotic dispositions?"

Since I have never said anything so simplistic and absurd, I see no point to your question.


"Why should the Germans e.g. have suddenly become democracy-minded after generations of republican poets and philosophers have failed to bring it about"

Why indeed? I worked for a german company, and in my experience, few germans even today value freedom--or even comprehend it for that matter. I think the best illustration of this was a german boss, who I very much consider a friend first and a boss second, and who once expressed to several American employees regarding an arbitrary and heavy handed company regulation: "There must be a rule and that is the rule we have."

Needless to say, the Americans thought he was nuts. Those of us who value freedom anticipate an absence of rules except for those we absolutely need to have.


"Why is Turkey very well democratic"

I respectfully suggest that Turkey has only recently experienced real democracy. The military forcibly prevented the people of Turkey from electing the Islamist government that have preferred all along. Only recently have the people of Turkey been allowed to elect a government along those lines, and if allowed to continue without military intervention, I predict the complete end of elections in Turkey before long.


"your thesis that democracy requires only collective will"

Since when have I ever expressed such an absurd thesis?


"Yet, things are different, when you do already live together in one village."

I don't. And most Americans don't. I agree it sucks for europe. Sadly, europeans bought into this crap that everyone equally values freedom and western liberalism and that all cultures are created equal. Consequently, they stupidly invited the tiger to stay on the downstairs couch. Hence, my reference to deportation.


"Zapatistas ... who rebel against neo-liberal policies because they do see drawbacks in NAFTA"

I don't know much about the Zapatistas. What I have been able to find suggests it is a paradigm of the typical collectivist violence that the majority eventually perpetrates in places with a market dominant minority. The movement appears to be led by an irrational nut-job, and I note that it explicitly rejects liberalism. In fact, the movement uses the term liberalism derisively to describe the things they project their ineffectiveness onto to blame for their plight.

Ditto the "Bolivarian Revolution".


"Indonesians, whose economy was wrecked in the late 90s by the overbearing and ignorant policy IMF"

Yeah, it's all the IMF's fault. It had nothing to do with a series of dictators plundering the country for personal gain and promoting internal strife to distract the populace from their plunder. Nope, that had nothing to do with a single problem in Indonesia. Nada, zip, zilch. It was all the IMF's fault.


Speaking of market dominant minorities, that's what is going to result in Germany and France and other countries in Europe if the muslims remain and continue to out-reproduce the europeans. It's also what's going to happen in the US unless America secures its borders and reverts to a policy of assimilation.

Martin Bauer said at September 4, 2005 3:37 PM:

1. I meant to say, freedom is a basic drive, known to everybody, and valued by everybody in the essence: Freedom is the possibility to do what one thinks good while enjoying the "spiritual ease" which I define as having a conscience prevailing over every conceivable impact of social disapproval. You wrongly took my subordinate clause "which is exactly what I would call freedom" to refer only to the afterthought concerning the "spiritual ease".
Perhaps we might agree that freedom is, most generally speaking, the absence of constraint. But it cannot be the absence of restraint, because in that case I hope to get even your assent that a so-conceived freedom is a caricature. So from a detached perspective (now you may accuse me of teaching predestination, which, in a restricted sense, the bible indeed does) you may observe that freedom must be a disposition to have your mind and insight moulded at the same rate as your life procedes to bring about decisions through your will.

Of course, "absence of constraint" has a tangible political meaning too. In this sense, the people of a culture are as free as their polity allows them be, a condition which is profoundly, but not solely influenced by the general appreciation the people of that culture have for self-determination.
If you were not taught by your tradition that self-determination and self-realization are good, you would not call your efforts at self-realization a valuing of freedom. You would stick to the objectives of self-determination, (i.e. emancipation from constraints, shaking off the bad influences of – particular – dependency). You would not claim to value freedom because the concept of "freedom" would not hold out the promise that anyone but you equate it with the reality of mutually respecting each person's striving for fulfillment, i.e. personal freedom. You would accept the falling apart of concept and reality, since you would not have been told this identity (postulated by liberalism) from your culture, and could not hope to teach it to them by your example, – which, as facts be, in pluralistic America, you very well can and do at the "spiritual ease" of seeing yourself fighting for the cause of liberalism.

But in any case, the idea of freedom is not by nature correlated with the experience of freedom, for you yourself note that freedom is a cause that needs the readiness to fight for. So freedom is not always ready for enjoying. There are times of profiting from it and there are times of working for it. Yet how are you to determine what you are up to right now? Or who has to take what part of the burden in defending freedom? This obviously wants another, more collectively defined value to be blended with the intrinsically individual value of freedom. Such additional values are in our culture the "equality before the law" and the mutual assistance ("fraternity") as citizens united in the pursuit of happiness.
Hence I say, the manifest of freedom cannot be reasonably separated from justice or morals.

2. I grant you an aggrevation of my judgment on Islam. Islam is basically a counterfeit of Christianity and Judaism. It tends to cripple its adherents' appreciation of freedom as much as it does to their conception of justice. All the more need therefore for Westerners and western state policy to try to loosen the grip of islamic teachings on muslim people by avoiding the stupidity of openly braving their religion! No natural law has ordained that millions of orientals should perpetually hang on the lips of hotspurs – or their religion's base texts.

3. "You focus on immigration" was not meant as an accusation, but as a neutral observation, and observe I will do that you repeatedly returned to the immigration issue when assessing the mindset of other cultures. But I will notice on your word and can see from your reply that you have a wider interest.

4. I am not conscious of having denied the reality of a clash of civilizations, or a rivalry with bad losses and a threatening outlook. What I deplore is that efforts at reconciliation are considered quaint and naive whenever western life-style is prematurely identified with the very substance of freedom, thus confounding intent and effect. I will not try to discuss any specific ideas of Mr. Huntington or Mr. Brzezinski, of whom my reception too is only indirect, unless we can first settle the more basic disagreement on whether efforts at reconciliation have to play a vital part in managing an intercultural conflict once it has become manifest.

5. I accept what you say about Turkey. I feel free to admit I haven't investigated the case of that country. I mentioned Turkey in order to demonstrate that democracy can go without liberal values, thereby showing that the "degree" of democracy in a polity does not correspond with the collective (meant as aggregately individual) will. You didn't really maintain this correlation, that's right. I jumped to this wrong conclusion by applying the same logic you have explicitly defended at the beginning of your last reply (in sentence 2) to a paragraph from you first comment:

"How many "1 man 1 vote 1 time" democracies do we have to have before we get it? Most of the people in the world do not have freedom simply because they don't want it. They are not willing to die to get it. They are not willing to inconvenience themselves to keep it."

If you have a pretty much manifest fact ('Bob sees democracy and freedom both on a poor footing all around the world and relates lack of freedom to the disposition of not valuing it') than you need not bother to inquire if the reality behind your perception (his philosophy about what produces democracy and freedom) is deeper than the most obvious solution ("Despotic conditions prove despotic dispositions.") All the while, I was wrong and I own my error. The case of Turkey does not prove anything about how freedom-loving Turks may be.

But I will offer you an alternative: Even contemporary Iran isn't at all barren of popular desire to get democracy and freedom as well, though the pressure from Washington has made them suffer a severe setback.

6. Your note on the "Bolivarian Revolution" is either a piece of rumour-mongering, or a sign of cynical understanding of democracy that does in the holy name of liberalism see the true freedom of mean people in their subjugation to the graces of a wealthy minority. Here you have the living example of a people fighting for freedom, and you will not even see it!

7. You say you don't live in a global village. That's near the epitome of what I consider a denial of an obvious fact. Denial even of the import of the very thoughts you were about expounding one moment before saying so. You were scanning the most diverse nations, explaining why their people were not freedom-loving and therefore potentially inimical to America or liberal Westerners. You deduced that therefore alert is the order of prudence. Yet you will not admit you are living in conditions of cultural proximity, i.e. co-existence, with other regions of the earth?

8. You did yourself observe that the reason why Islam is 14 centuries old yet only in these decades should become an all-out enemy to the Occident, the reason why the potential clash of civilizations must most probably become or remain virulent is the technical proximity globalization has brought about. But now the solution to all this shall be to intercept their bad influence on us while upholding ours on them!?

"In the past, vast distances and high travel costs separated freedom loving westerners from those who hate everything we represent. Blissful ignorance of the evils of freedom and liberty in fact prevented those who hate us from realising it."

There we have it: Because they can't stand looking at close quarters into the bright shine of western civilization without being overcome by their innate and unredeemable hatred of all that is freedom, we have only to beware of their scheming while ourselves continuing to indoctrinate their juveniles, exploit the resources of their countries, corrupt or manipulate their governments, prescribe self-serving cures of austerity policy for the poors of the world, ruin the environment, destroy or help destroying biodiversity and on and on and on. And call all this the peak of civilization, alias liberalism, which is purportedly the sole guarantor of freedom?

Please, don't think that what I'll now say is in order to brave you. I say it to testify to a value that once was considered basic for Christian as well as secular culture throughout the Western World, the "golden rule" of mutuality: Doing to others what one would not like to suffer from them, is neither freedom-loving nor stupid, it is downright immoral and base! Beware what you fancy: America is strong, but God is nobody's fool. I hope some readers will understand.

Bob Badour said at September 4, 2005 7:31 PM:

Martin,

1. You are talking nonsense. Constraint and restraint are english synonyms meaning a lack or loss of freedom.

I don't know why you are so stuck on collectivism. I have no fraternity. You are not my brother, and neither is Randall. I choose to associate with you and Randall here on this blog. In so doing, I exercise my individual right to associate freely. You or Randall could end the association at any time by exercising your rights of free association.

Tribalism or any other form of collectivism has no respect or tolerance for freedom.

This "third thing" you keep alluding to and have difficulty naming seems nothing other than civic duty to me. Civic duty does not require solidarity, socialism or any other form of collectivism. It requires only informed self-interest.

I disagree that freedom is a basic drive. For most of the world, control is a basic drive, which is a different thing entirely. Most of the world'd people value power and control over others to meet their own basic needs. Western liberalism values freedom from control.

2. I am not sure the problem of Islam's base texts are so easily dealt with.

3. Thank you.

4. Even open warfare is an effort to reconcile and a striving for peace. After all, every enduring peace was preceded by a decisive victory.

5. I see no real evidence of a desire for freedom in Iran. I see some dissatisfaction with the mullahs and the revolution.

6. You proved my point regarding the eventual outcome of a market dominant racial minority.

7. I believe I did not express myself well enough. I do not live with a tiger in my home. Metaphorically, Europeans do. I scanned the most populous countries to demonstrate my point that a majority of humanity place no value on freedom. I could have started with tiny nations in central america, but then it would have taken me all day to reach a majority.

8. Huh? You sure have an active imagination if you think I said any of that and I suspect you suffer hallucinations if you see any plausible path of implication from what I said to the conclusions you seem to have put in my mouth.

Martin Bauer said at September 6, 2005 2:09 AM:

Bob,

thank you for praising my mental capacity. I'll stick to the "active imagination", for though it needs some inner raving in order to think clear I have never deemed plausible you were likely to say by your mouth all you imply.

I surmise you, like most Americans, know exactly the slight difference between con- and restraint. It's only, you fear recognizing it would spell constraint for the truly free.

Your anecdote about the German boss, however, is indeed a nice epitome of how half of our German soul ticks, sorrily. You can trace this notion ("There must be a rule") back at least to Martin Luther, who otherwise was so masterful in presenting a biblically profound, joyful but restrained Christianity. The other half of our spirit tries desperately to be even more American than Americans themselves. The former do not heed, the latter do not know the difference between the "straints". But both halves of Germanity surely value freedom, albeit they do not do very well in eliminating constraint.

Do you guess why? – Because they talk too much of how freedom means fighting for it !!!

Bob Badour said at September 6, 2005 10:54 AM:

"say by your mouth all you imply"

As I said, one would have to hallucinate to imagine any plausible path of implication from what I said to the conclusions you put in my mouth. I say what I mean. And I mean what I say. Non-sequitur leaps of faith are not needed to understand anything I write.

"exactly the slight difference between con- and restraint"

There is no difference. Open a dictionary. They are synonyms. I respectfully suggest if you need to redefine the words of my language to make a point, the point is not valid.


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