Immigration and Attractive Nuisance

I first became aware of the concept of attractive nuisance when I was living in North Carolina.  A toddler had wandered off from home, and drowned in a neighbor’s uncovered pool.  The mother wasn’t sued for neglect – apparently there were reasons for this, like, she thought she’d secured the door well enough (as a mother whose kid would undo three latches, one of them safety and get out, I doubt you can secure a door well enough) and she was asleep due to a medical condition.  Something like that.  BUT the neighbor was sued for keeping an attractive nuisance, because his pool was uncovered and also unfenced.

This was a concept I’d never heard of, but then again, to be honest, in Portugal there was never an unfenced property, so the idea of its being unfenced was odd enough.

Look – we were talking about lack of rule of law yesterday – Portugal even at its best has always had low-rule-of-law.  Part of it I think is a Latin thing, perhaps dating back as far as the Roman Empire, perhaps to the invasions that destroyed it.  I can’t tell you.  What I can tell you is that Portugal would seem as alien (if you really went into the neighborhoods and mingled with the people) to you as the US did to me when I first came here.

What blew my mind was not that you had eight (?) TV channels on all day, or the fact that my future MIL (though I didn’t know it, of course) had a microwave, or any of the things that my host family kept pointing out and expecting me to be amazed by (the fact that their idea of Portugal harked back to my host mother’s grandmother who, btw, came from Azores, which is always behind the times didn’t help.)  No.  Two things amazed me: The sheer amount of forestation and the unfenced lots.

They’re related, in a way.

We took a bus from NYC to Ohio, and we passed miles and miles and miles of green, unmolested trees.  If it were in Portugal, those trees would be cut down so fast, and used for building, burning, etc, by people not the owners of the trees.  In fact, they would require armed guards to patrol them to stop people dumping their trash in the woods in such numbers that they would choke out the undergrowth.

In the same way, my parents live in a relatively well to do suburb.  Even back when there was “almost no crime” and the back door stayed open all day year around (it still does, but now there’s a locked gate in the way, which wasn’t there at the time) there were thick shutters on the windows at night, of the type that roll down and which here are only used by shop-keepers.  And there were low walls and gates.  As theft has become more common (because “strangers” have moved to the village and now outnumber the natives) the walls have climbed.  Now the walls of my mother’s house are eight feet tall and all the gates lock.

But even in the good old days, the mailbox looked.  To leave your mail unlocked was to have it stolen. And anything left in public and not attached to the ground is considered yours for the taking.  No, seriously, they get the covers on the air quality measuring units stolen on a regular basis, even though those are bolted to cement and by the side of busy highways (in case you wonder where the temperature readings come from!) and even though they are too strangely shaped for any natural use.  I asked mom what in heck people did with them, and even she couldn’t figure it out “Perhaps hen houses?  Or in-ground flower beds?”

What I know is that they get stolen on a regular basis.  And grocery shopping carts have to be checked out with a coin which gets given back when you put the cart back in.  Otherwise people would view the cart as “free gift with purchase.”

I’m saying this not to run down my native country, but to explain that the culture is very, very different.  The culture was shaped by a lot of things, including the country being trampled by Napoleonic invasions – something that meant two armies scoured the country clean (even monuments had portions of it stolen) and the common people could only live by grabbing what they could, theirs or not.

But it was also shaped – is shaped – by a legal culture that harks back to Rome, where official jobs are viewed as sinecures and opportunities for squeeze, and all jobs are viewed as something you do as skimpily as possible, because you can’t be fired.  It’s a post, not a job. Such as if you have an accident you’re better off not calling the police, because both of you will then have to pay squeeze, in addition to whatever needs to be paid.  Such as if you interrupt a retail clerk while she’s talking to her boyfriend on the phone and ignoring you, you’re the rude one, not she.  Such as writers turn in work completely unproofed because “THEIR JOB” is to write, someone else can do that demeaning typo hunting stuff.  (This was the hardest for me to adapt to – and yeah, I know I don’t typo-hunt in these posts, but then I don’t get PAID for these posts.)

It’s cultural.  It is the way it is.  You can trust a Portuguese as much as you can trust anyone else once they’re in a rule of law society and you probably can trust them more if they have some reason to think you’re a member of their tribe.  The culture – the software in the head – is very family oriented and very tribe oriented and very, in ultimate instance “compatriot” oriented.  Far more so than in the US.  The Arab proverb would apply, if you view it as the Portuguese NOT attacking others but rather viewing each successive circle as less deserving of respect to their persons and property: Me against my brother; me and my brother against my cousins; me and my cousins against the tribe; me and my tribe against the world.

But put enough Portuguese together, and you play by their rules.  The software in head is not – much as I like to make faces at Spanish – at all very different from Spain or Mexico or most of central and South America.

So, what does all this lead to?  In the past we discussed minimum wage here.  I think mandating minimum wage is about as effective and sane as mandating good weather on Sundays.  Okay, maybe a little better – suppose you could mandate good weather and enforce it for a period of hours.  You couldn’t do that everywhere.  Those clouds would still have to go somewhere.  So the price of sunny Sundays in highly visible areas, like say NYC or Chicago, would be snow storms in the hinterlands in July.  (I don’t know much about meteorology, so it might mean other stuff too.)

Mandating minimum wage is like that.  Dave Freer talked about the very generous minimum wage of Australia with approval.  Kate pointed out that yes, but it’s a trade off.  They trade a good minimum wage for beginning workers against a high unemployment rate and low entrepreneurship.  That’s a given.  I’d argue they also trade in high innovation, since that’s mostly started by wild cat small businesses.

If the people of Australia consider that well and good, that’s fine.  It’s their business.

All that is besides the point when it comes to America.  Australia’s nearest neighbor, whose citizens could get there without much effort is New Zealand, which has similar laws and is about at a similar level and has similar software-in-head.

I.e., Australia can have an open, in ground swimming pool, uncovered, because its nearest neighbor, in human house terms is fifty miles away.  No toddler can escape its mother’s vigilance and just wonder over and drown.  Attractive nuisance or not, it is highly unlikely they’ll be fishing toddlers out of the pool every Summer morning.

This does not apply to the US.  It applies to the US even less than it applies to Europe, and Europe is finding out and fast its nuisance is too attractive as is.

The US has always been a country of immigrants.  But most of our waves of immigration of the past came here to become Americans (present writer included.)  They came determined to leave everything behind and learn to be as American as possible.

As a kid, growing up in a country of emigrants, I noticed early on that the ones from America came back less often (even than the ones in Africa) and were more acculturated.  They were the ones less likely to be building a little house in their native village for when they retired.  They were unlikely to be sending money back, unless they had elderly parents they were supporting.  They came here to be here, not to earn and send back until they could return.

This is for two reasons: coming here involved a lot more effort, both in crossing the ocean and in getting a visa (coming here illegally was near impossible back in the sixties and seventies) that it wasn’t worth it to “scavenge-migrate.”

The ones most likely to scavenge-migrate were the ones who went to France.  This is because France was attainable on foot if absolutely needed, through two borders almost impossible to secure, and because it had GENEROUS welfare benefits which it wasn’t fussy about giving to Portuguese.  For Portuguese peasants living hand to mouth, going to France meant that you could cram ten to an apartment and send back as much money as possible, or if you took your wife, she worked mostly under the table, and you worked mostly under the table, and your kids got free schooling and assistance.  I remember as a little girl seeing people who’d been far below us in the social scale and completely untrained go to France for two or three years and come back with cars and fashionable clothes and…

They never stayed though.  They would take full advantage of French welfare and social benefits, while working far more than would be allowed if they were “legal” and they sent money back.  I suspect that other than the trips to Portugal and how well they dressed to lord it in those times, they lived near squalor.  Their goal was to build a big house and live well in their retirement.

At the time I viewed what they did as fully justified.  See, being far away from their “tribe” they could work hard without loss of face, so those lazy Frenchmen were getting all that work for near nothing.  I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t embrace Portuguese immigrants, or why there was so much resentment.

Now I sort of do.  It was the strain put on public services.  It was the fact that these people working under the table depressed unskilled wages.  It was also unstoppable.  Two things eventually stopped it: France became less attractive, as there were fewer jobs (and welfare alone is not enough to raise a family and send money back) and Portugal’s lifestyle became closer to France’s.

This is more what we’re facing with Mexico, but amped up to eleven, because we also give “Hispanics” special consideration in social services, in getting their kids in school, in deference of treatment.

These people come from a highly stratified society and mostly the ones who come here are treated like dirt in their homeland.  Imagine coming here and finding they’re special and we feel vaguely guilty for their “oppression” – which is a piece of Marxist nonsense.  Mexico’s “poverty” is largely self inflicted.

Are they despicable people?  No more than Portuguese are, no more than Americans are.  Some of them are probably despicable.  And most of them are just decent people, seeking to survive.  BUT their software in the head IS different.  And not all cultures are fully functional for a modern rule-of-law society.

Compound that with the fact that our social workers and the teachers of their kids tell them we owe them and that we stole their land from them.  Tell them they’re a separate race and can never integrate.  The stage is set for very ugly stuff indeed.

Then add in the tribal thing and the fact they will feel very little loyalty to those not of their nationality/group.

Do most of them work very hard?  Actually according to studies about fifty percent of them do.  But even the ones who work very hard are still using free schooling and emergency room visits.  Why?  Because they’re socking away the money so they can go back “home” and build the big house and impress friends and neighbors with how well they did.  They want to go back home and have their kids marry well.

What they don’t want to do is become Americans, except where it means receiving social security in their old age, when they go “back home.”

All of this is understandable and human.

Then add in our attractive nuisance.  We have enough unemployed, untrained people that we should have people willing to work.  Americans are no more lazy than anyone else.  Arguably we’re more industrious.  But the minimum wage means many kids never get their start.  They’re not worth that.  It’s too much to pay them that.

And meanwhile, there’s this tide pouring over a huge and unsecured border that will do the work for a fourth of the price and allow low-margin businesses (chicken boning plants; farms) to survive.

We’re an attractive nuisance.  I don’t know how much a toddler likes a pool, but I know that a man desperate to support his family will move heaven and Earth to do it the best way he can.  And somehow coming here illegally and working really hard is hard to reconcile with “crime” even for us, much less for them. Through their eyes, Americans are lazy layabouts who don’t want to work.  They grew up in low respect for laws.  They don’t GET why Americans wouldn’t work under the table and take advantage of social services to round out the money, as they do.  Their concept of honesty doesn’t include honesty-to-people-in-power because where they come from people in power treat those below like dirt.

There are other effects of the tide pouring over the border.  Socialists of various stripes like to scream that wages have been stagnant for blah blah years.  (This goes hand in hand with “innovation and tech is making people unemployable.”  Poppycock.  Laws are making people unemployable.)  It is true STATISTICALLY.  Not true in any other way.  Dan and I have struggled on our own, with no advantages, not even family help for thirty years, and our income hasn’t been stagnant.

Where income has been stagnant is what I’d call the “semi-skilled middle class” – mostly retail clerks, but also the vast number of women who would on very little training become typists or factory workers.

This is the result of two things: most factories can’t survive by paying current benefit requirements (and it’s about to get worse.)  It’s not the salary so much, it’s the other stuff and the immense amount of paperwork that is impossible to keep up with.  Faced with the choice of going under or hiring illegals under the table, they hire illegals and pay them a fraction of the full cost of an employee and let the collective “we” pay for their other needs.  Even retail to an extent is starting to hire with not too many questions asked.  That means the legal people still working retail are squeezed from below by people who are being paid a fraction of what they get (what they must get by law) and from above by our truly horrible education which has forced employers to demand at least community college diplomas before they hire you.  It’s the only way they can tell you know how to read.

This leaves nowhere to go for people with high school diplomas, who have been making the same amount since the eighties or so…  And they too end up at the mercy of our welfare system to survive, which in turn drives the call for higher minimum wage, which in turn destroys more of these jobs.

We’re keeping an attractive nuisance.  We create a vast number of jobs that Americans CAN’T fill and stay on the right side of the law.  And we share a large unsecured border with a people who come from a low-respect-for-law environment.

Amnesty won’t solve anything.  It won’t make these people consider themselves American.  They never wanted to be American.  They haven’t left their past behind as other immigrants have to do.  They just walked a few hundred miles.  (Or more likely drove.) It won’t make them a more open community – their culture will remain us vs. them.  They will take it, but they will continue working under the table and avail themselves of our social services and our social security payments.   In their code that’s not even slightly wrong.  Their history has taught you take as much as you can while you can because those above you will take from you as soon as they can.

Securing the border will do something, but not to the extent that we’re willing to do.  The only thing that would stop the tide would be shooting to kill or a massive electrified fence.  NO ONE is going to do that.  All you’d need would be a few pictures, and our resolve would crumble.

So… what stopped the Portuguese tide into France?  Two things.  France became less able to give lavish benefits; and there were fewer jobs available because more French (or more Portuguese who’d naturalized) were willing to work under the table.  And Portugal became a little better.  (Or more like France.)  The only people now streaming into France come from the real sh*tholes, for whom even French “scarcity” is better.  And Portugal has more generous social services, which are getting scammed by Russians and other Eastern Europeans.

There are indications that as our economy spins into the Khaki Mexicans are going back home.  I know my local supermarket (a tiny one) used to carry about half the magazines in Spanish five years ago.  Now you can’t find a single Spanish title.  And there are indications the flooding-back tide is helping Mexico too.

But our choices, other than continuing to spin into the hole, until no Mexicans or people from points further  South want to come here (except perhaps to cross to Canada) are stark: we can get rid of minimum wage, tighten the benefits spigot, and let the economy settle itself.  Or we can become the sort of regime that shoots people trying to come over.

There is no other choice.  And I don’t see either of those happening in the near future, unless of course we collapse.  Which is the inevitable result if we don’t do either of those.

To call people explaining the facts “racist” is to ignore that most of the people who are hurt by this unchecked tide are our own racial minorities.  It is also to ignore that economics is race-blind.

It is a dismal science and the results are always the same, no matter how much you scream that they’re insensitive.

 

 

192 responses to “Immigration and Attractive Nuisance

  1. This should be mandatory reading for every Congresscritter in DC. Alas, they’d probably say TL:DR, or just call you a racist who wants everyone to be oppressed and starving because….racist!

    😦

  2. Rob Crawford

    “We create a vast number of jobs that Americans CAN’T fill and stay on the right side of the law.”

    How did you get in my head?!

    I have to repeat a line that I’ve been using a LOT the last couple of days. The UK Labour Party’s internal memos revealed that their immigration policy was intended to make the country “less British”. I have no doubt that a similar motivation underlies US immigration policy. And that the part of “less British” and “less American” that is attractive to government types is:

    “official jobs are viewed as sinecures and opportunities for squeeze”

  3. When there is a fence and guard towers along our borders they will face IN to stop you from leaving.

    • Only if they don’t manage to quench capitalism everywhere.

    • Yes. That’s a given.

    • Rob Crawford

      Haven’t they already imposed some limits on transferring money out of the country? I also seem to recall reading about State not issuing passports for people who still owe money on their student loans — but can’t remember if that was just a suggestion or if it made it to law.

      • For the well-off and well-connected those limits are remarkably porous. Put “Penny Pritzker, Mitt Romney” in your search engine of preference.

        From the Washington Times:

        On financial disclosure forms, Ms. Pritzker revealed that she received $53.6 million in income in 2012 from a trust in the Bahamas. The income is described as being paid for “consulting services.”
        http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/may/22/pritzkers-offshore-holdings-cloud-commerce-bid/#ixzz2U9YXQKHb

        That’s only slightly over a million a week in consultation fees, just under $26K an hour if she works a forty hour week. Nice work if you can get it, eh?

        By the same token, inheritance taxes mostly affect the moderately wealthy and the nouveau riche — old money has long since been sheltered in trusts and sheltered from taxes and squandering scions. All very well and professionally managed, too. Stable as the sun’s rise.

      • Ori Pomerantz

        No. IIRC, you can transfer any amount you want – you just need to report amounts over 10k$. You’re also allowed to have foreign bank accounts, trusts, and corporations – you just need to report any income so it can be taxed.

  4. Someday when you are in a reminiscent mood, would you write a post on how bribery/squeeze is done? I have led a very sheltered American life, and when I heard my Chinese grad-student friends talk blithely about “back-door” payments to get things done I realized I literally have no idea how to bribe someone. I’m guessing saying in a loud cheerful tone “Hey, how much would it cost for you to do [illegal thing]?” is considered bad form. (Hopefully this will never be knowledge I need *personally*, but it might be useful for a book someday.)

    • I have never done it personally, but as a teen observing adults during a few visits to Soviet Union in the 70’s, the couple of times I noticed something was going on, it seemed to include lots of doubletalk and hints. Musing about the problem, and how nice it would be if things moved faster, and he will perhaps say that maybe something could be done – no idea how the exact payments got agreed on. Yep, I’d like to get a better idea of the protocols too. 🙂

    • An odd magazine called The Exile ran a story on how bribery occurs in Russia. I culled some examples at my gaming blog, because gamers have a very poor idea of how bribery works as well. Arg, no preview. Let’s hope this works. Bribing Public Officials.

    • When my parents got off the boat in the early 1950s, they headed to Chicago because jobs supposedly were plentiful there. Soon after arriving, my father took a driver’s test. Ethnic acquaintances had briefed him how the system worked.

      After the standard maneuvers, the examiner instructed him to park, and became silent.

      Dad: You have a very hard job, riding with people who don’t know how to drive.

      Examiner: One does what one can. It’s a living.

      Dad: Might I give you something to express my appreciation of your public service?

      Examiner: Why, that would be most generous of you.

      My father handed over the standard amount.

      Examiner: I see that you are a responsible citizen, fully qualified to be entrusted with the operation of a motor vehicle.

    • IIRC, one thing to recall is to be careful not to go over the local bribery rates (for example,at one point at an airport in Baja it was $100 per week to ensure the safety of your airplane, more if it were of the kind then popular with the smugglers). To pay more invited questions as to what you were worried about, and also suggested that you were ignorant and should be squeezed harder.

      • Rob Crawford

        Thing is, there’s NEVER a schedule posted. So how do you know?

        • In this case, you asked other pilots and airplane owners that you knew went down there. If it was your first visit, and you had not found out the rates in advance, you made a discrete inquiry with the airport manager or the man who met your plane if there were any new tips or fees that he could tell you about. It was probably about as open as anything like that ever is.

        • Instructional video explaining classic American techniques:

          It also explains how a man nobody ever heard of could achieve high office.

          In a scene not available, McGinty, in response to a contractor’s question “how much” changes the subject, pointing to a picture of a baseball game and observing that baseball is a wonderful sport, plenty of fresh air and wholesome exercise, then asks the contractor to guess how many attended the game depicted …

    • If you’re stopped in Portugal, you always fold the equivalent of a 50 dollar note in your license.

      • Dorothy Grant

        And in Venezuela, if they hand your internal passport back with the bill still inside it, it is time to turn around immediately and go home without asking any questions. Usually, a coup.

      • In Panama we had to keep a 20 dollar bill next to the wallet for the same reason.

      • In Mexico, near Puerto Vallarta, I was on a motorbike tour when we got pulled over for speeding, on a 4 lane divided road with a deserted straight section where the speed limit reduced to 30 MPH without warning. Cop waiting for us. Oh well.

        Our experienced team leader, who had tried to signal us to slow down, had a jolly chat with the cop. The leader knew the cop well, and negotiated a bribe for all 5 of us, then negotiated a further bribe to let us ride without our helmets for the rest of the day. Mexico has a helmet law strictly enforced, but only against foreigners. Part of the deal was that the cop got on the radio and spread the word that we were untouchable for the rest of the day. Los cinco motociclistas Canadienses or something.

        Best $20 I ever spent. Drove as fast as we wanted, ignored traffic signs and all without helmets on a glorious clear day.

  5. Stephen J.

    This has always been the paradox of state charity: how to distinguish the needy from the greedy in a way that is both fair and consistent.

    Unfortunately no matter where you draw the line, there will always be those who think with a perfectly clear conscience that it doesn’t help the needy enough, and others who think with the same perfectly clear conscience that it is too easily exploited by the greedy, so any attempt to move the line in either will always be met by outrage and indignation.

    • And who are unwilling to pony up the money themselves to help the needy.

      • Stephen J.

        To be perfectly fair, there’s a difference between being willing to pony up for the needy, and being willing to put in the time and effort of personally working with the needy to determine what they need.

        Most people who support state charity support at least in *principle* the idea that there should be some legally enforced criteria of eligibility for that charity; they just don’t want to have to do the work of judging and enforcing that criteria themselves, for both noble motives and venal — they don’t want to risk hurting the needy by making a mistake so they err in favour of generosity, but they also really just don’t want to be bothered with the hands-on depressing grind of the work and would rather fob it off to a public agency.

        • I learned this lesson early as my youth group collected money, then gave it to a family that everyone older than us in the village KNEW would spend it on drink.

  6. Thought-provoking, thank you. Hopefully it means you’re feeling better.

    1. I have regarded illegal immigrants as invaders, but identifying them as scavengers is a perceptive distinction. However, there are predators/invaders among the scavengers, and they will keep coming even if the scavengers stop.

    Afaic a country that refuses to secure its borders does not deserve to survive, and won’t. Sooner or later its luck, like the dodo’s, will run out.

    2. Refugees are a category that deserves special scrutiny because they don’t want to be here. In fact they may hate our guts and come here only to save their skins. Contrary to what too many people believe, being oppressed is not a certificate of virtue.

    It took my refugee parents a long time to reconcile to America. After decades of complaining, my late father got around to reading some founding documents. “Now I understand. They wanted to make it hard for the government to do things.”

    But refugees who merely complain are not a fundamental problem.

    • Afaic a country that refuses to secure its borders does not deserve to survive, and won’t. Sooner or later its luck, like the dodo’s, will run out.

      Or like Sweden’s. According to the link, 15% of the population are immigrants. Eventually, toward the end, the article gets around to mentioning the rioters’ religion.

      The previous article I read about Sweden was a NYTimes piece cooing over Swedish men on paternity leave, pushing their babies around in strollers and chatting with each other.

  7. Ori Pomerantz

    To decrease the motivation to work under the table, allow free immigration – as long as the immigrant can prove, by their income tax returns, they are earning a certain income. Some people will cheat and say they earned more than they actually did (and pay more taxes), but it should lessen the problem.

    • Problem: they don’t want immigration, and becoming legal would just mean that they’re bound by the same system that makes working under the table financially viable.

      It would just mean the already harmed cultural fabric would have even more pressure put on it, those legal immigrants would be able to bring over family members to take advantage of the welfare system, and further illegal immigrants would work under the new table created by “declare higher income, pay more taxes, you’re legal” setup.

    • Prove to who and when? The bulk of illegal immigrants prefer living in the shadows.

      • Ori Pomerantz

        Do they prefer living in the shadows, or is that an adaptation to being here illegally? After the Reagan Amnesty, did those who receive it stay in the shadows?

        • A lot of them. Part of the shadows are not a legal issue. They’re “me and my cousins”…

        • Its a long ugly story but I spent a year practicing immigration law. My experience, in all its anecdotal glory, was that they prefer living underground.

        • As a teenager I spent a fair amount of time working with Mexicans (most illegal, but some legal) depending on the employer there was two ways they worked.

          1. For cash, either hourly or piecework, paid in cash, no paper trail, no taxes taken out. Every dime they were paid went directly in their pocket.

          2. If employer was unwilling to pay cash they would give a false social security number (even the legal immigrants) this way the employer could write off their wages. The workers would claim many dependents so less money was taken out of their check. Since they weren’t filing taxes anyways, they were unconcerned about owing money at the end of the year, the less they could have taken out of their check, the more went into their pocket. Since the social security number (and many times the name also) was false, there was no one for the IRS to come back on to try and collect the money owed. This method usually meant changing jobs every year or so, just to be on the safe side. If the employer was a little shady (or just unobservant, many times in the case of seasonal work) they didn’t bother with changing jobs, just changing name and social security number.

          It didn’t matter if they were ‘legal’ or illegal, the same methods were used by both, because they meant more money in their pocket. They see absolutely nothing wrong with this, they view the rest of us as stupid, because we aren’t smart enough to avoid paying taxes.

        • Different bargain.

          And yes, many still work under the table– AKA, in “the shadow economy.”

  8. When I was an undergrad, a classmate of mine earned her tuition money during the summers working as a payroll clerk/secretary/picker for one of the commercial peach orchards in Georgia. They had a large pipeline of illegal immigrants who worked as pickers and sorters. When the Feds began paying a lot more attention to the legality of workers, the manager called in the field bosses and told them that if he got fined for having illegals, they would be fired. My classmate said that pretty soon, every single worker either had a green card or was already a citizen. Yes, Americans will pick their own peaches, even in flood water up to their chests if necessary.

  9. For bonus points, schools make it so that those who follow the rules get screwed– which works with the “those following employment laws get screwed” culture to very bad effect.

  10. The upside of global warming? Illegal Americans sneaking across the boarder to pick oranges in Canada.

    • And what is the upside of fairies and unicorns?

      • Birthday girl

        More rainbows!!! 🙂

      • Jeff Gauch

        Obama. Oh, wait, you wanted the upside. Sorry, my mistake.

      • The upside? You do realize that there are two? The fairies give you christening gifts that test your moral fiber, and the unicorns purify water.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          Wait – Fairies? Christening gifts? Doesn’t that make them catch on fire? 😉

        • Water as pure as unicorn… never mind.

          • Should we find there are unicorns the probable process is plain as the nose on your face. Some idiot will decide that ground unicorn horn is a cure for female impotence (male frigidity, whatever) and people will start harvesting the horns. Other people will protest this as cruel, unkind and not nice. These people will protest, disrupt birthday parties and engage in other activities that make five-year old girls of all ages to cry.

            This will cause all politicians desirous of looking wise and empathetic to write, support and enact legislation unicorns a protected species. Anybody who points to history and economics in support of a policy supporting controlled unicorn breeding and horn harvesting will be accused of being mean, hateful, speciesist, uniphobic, and wanting to make five-year old girls of all ages cry.

            Unicorns will become extinct in a very short time after their discovery.

    • I’m gonna steal that one too.

  11. No easy answers here. And sometimes I get so tired and disgusted at the abuse handed out to clear thinkers I’m tempted to go Galt or postal, which ever seems most needed at the time.

    I’ve lost jobs because the liberals running the organization would NOT believe me when I said the minority worker was dumping their work on me. And I’ve seen people b*tching about illegals, who could even bother to mow their own lawn.

    No easy answers.

    • scott2harrison

      I hear you. I did not know it at the time, but my alternatives were Galt, postal, or suicide. I drifted into Galt and when the depression cleared up, figured out how I had got here. I anticipate staying in Galt until I die.

      • Suicide has never tempted me; murder, all to often. I have no desire to see if I can make someone feel guilty for their treatment of me & mine. I have, however, thought of novel methods of wasting someone with it looking either accidental or suicidal.
        I guess that’s why I like fiction; so much more scope for the imagination!

        • But that same imagination has helped me come up with methods to stage a successful secession, assassinate a president or vice president undetectably, and destroy a carrier task force seeking to intimidate the seceding state.
          Oh! and smuggle a fortune of uncut diamonds past border patrol ….
          So why am I still unpublished (in fiction) and impoverished?!?

      • There are better alternatives than Galt. There is resistance tool making. It doesn’t even have to be anything “controversial”. I’m creating a project to data mine government (they provide heaps of data that could be mined but currently isn’t). All I need is a lot more man hours devoted to the project.

        http://www.citizenintelligence.org

    • There are easy answers. Eliminate minimum wage and almost all social programs except in dire need, and then only to citizens or anyone who has legally paid taxes for ten years. They’re easy, they’re also impossible until we hit the wall.

      • William O. B'Livion

        Define “Dire need” in such a way that an IRS official can’t use it as a wedge against someone doesn’t like.

      • Dire need. You know, in Atlas Shrugged, there was a time when they froze railway bonds, and then allowed them to be unfrozen in case of “essential need.” There sprang up a whole class of men working as “defreezers” — all of them with connections, of course — and many men sold their bonds for a third of their worth to men who could magically prove their own needs were essential. . . .

        Probably more related to the way people sold their frozen bank accounts for a fraction of their value during the Great Depression than to this. Still, it reminded me.

      • snelson134

        There are easy answers. Eliminate minimum wage, voting, and almost all social programs except in dire need, and then only to citizens or anyone who has legally paid taxes for ten years. They’re easy, they’re also impossible until we hit the wall.

        FTFY. And yet another reason a civil war is absolutely necessary if not ideal.

        • You’re not going to get the franchise eliminated. It’ll just be watered down and continue to diminish in significance as people vote their identity groups rather than their ideals. You *might* be able to get it expanded ala _The Curious Republic of Gondour_, but even that’s unlikely, and I wouldn’t trust the people deciding on the criteria for additional franchises not to screw it up.

          • snelson134

            I am not proposing eliminating the franchise, merely limiting it to those who are a net positive under the only reasonably objective terms I can find. I can guarantee you my proposal fits far better with what the Framers had in mind than the warm-body democracy that is sending us down the crapper.

            • Ah, well, good luck with that. I wouldn’t mind a property and/or public service restriction for the franchise, but I don’t see that flying either. Maybe when we have interstellar colonies someone will revive the idea. Or after the next Dark Age. In the meantime, the “disparate impact” people would have the heads of anyone who seriously proposed such a thing:-(

  12. It has been over 20 years since I lived in a latin country, but my memories jive with how you describe them here. You did NOT leave anything outside if you wanted keep it. On the other hand, if the taker discovered that you wanted it back, you got it back.
    Beyond that, economic sabotage was a fact of life. I lived in a rural village, where most people were related. If anyone got ahead, he would find his efforts destroyed by jealous neighbors. I never did understand that, but I am American.

    • Rob Crawford

      Sadly, that happens in parts of the US, too.

    • In Portugal if you want it back, you’d best know who took it and have leverage through family.

    • I was “young and foolish” when I was in Panama, but not so foolish that I did stupid things. We had a house-boy that was actually from a fairly good family, but he couldn’t get into the engineering school in Panama. He didn’t have any “squeeze” with the right people. He worked as a houseboy, saved his money, and went to Georgia Tech. The last I heard, he was working as a mechanical engineer for one of the big international companies. One of the most important things my time down there taught me was that if people in the US think there’s discrimination here, they don’t have a clue. Visit any Latin American country for a few months, get to know the people, and SEE it. If you’re fairly fair-skinned, have the right name, and aren’t too arrogant, you have no problems. If you’re not, your life will be miserable, period. Discrimination against “natives” is especially strong. If you happen to start out on the bottom, YOU will be kept there. Your children, if you work hard enough, may be allowed to succeed, but not you.

      • 1. Whenever I saw a story about preChavez Venezuela, it was something like your houseboy’s dilemma or worse. While the country has my sympathy, its ruling class brought Hugo upon themselves.

        2. One of the most important things my time down there taught me was that if people in the US think there’s discrimination here, they don’t have a clue.

        The direction of things here is worrisome. The kind of discrimination you describe brings to mind the Left’s enthusiasm for racial and gender quotas.

        3. If you happen to start out on the bottom, YOU will be kept there. Your children, if you work hard enough, may be allowed to succeed, but not you.

        “It takes three generations to make a gentleman,” but at some point ambitious people would rather take their chances on overthrowing the system than on climbing the ladder.

  13. I would suggest a system where those wanting to come here from points south would first go to a temp agency office in their home country. Then both their and our feds do a background check to make sure your aren’t a felon or carrying cooties. This way when you arrive you have a legit job waiting for you, you are paid, work, and pay taxes according to our laws, and we know who and were you are. You wouldn’t have to fence the boarder but you would have to police businesses and impose REAL fines for those who break the rules.

    This way we can find out what jobs American won’t do and what jobs Americans won’t do for 3rd world wages while still giving desperate, hard working Mexicans a shot. Just make folks play by the same rules.

    • We have something very like that; it’s the guest worker program.

    • How do you intend to enforce it Tovarish? Manned sentinel towers with orders to kill? Electrified fence? With what money? Whose army?
      You don’t understand. That’s the same as saying “we forbid all guns” and expect felons to obey.
      Look, in — wages ARE going to level off. Have to, with computers allowing you to live anywhere and work anywhere. There is no such thing as third world wages. There’s wages that people will take and our social services supplement. Why not do that for American citizens, and then just demand proof of citizenship to be hired? Same deal. No encouragement of foreign scavengers. Though the appropriate word for someone who goes to a country makes as much money as possible and goes home is actually “Colonial occupier.”

      • Jeff Gauch

        Random inspections of work sites checking worker’s immigration status. The business is fined a couple of million dollars per illegal immigrant on their payroll. Roll the fines into hiring more inspectors. You’ll eventually reach equilibrium. Probably not at zero, but low enough to live with.

        Business only hire illegal immigrants because it makes economic sense. The benefit of paying lower wages is higher than the fine multiplied by the probability of getting caught.

        • But you’re going to lose A LOT of businesses. I know some farms would fold without er… informal business arrangements. When the government makes it impossible to make a living…

          • Jeff Gauch

            Maybe that will provide the impetus needed to eliminate things like the minimum wage laws.

            One of the problems with America is that we’re so goram innovative we keep coming up with workarounds for the vile prog’s stupid ideas, thus letting the vile progs and the LIV’s think they’re on to something.

            • Getting rid of the regulatory burden would help in hiring citizens. And an improved system for seasonal workers, who could leave their families at home, and come and go legally might help limit the number on social programs.

              • Well, yes. Which is why we’ll never see that. If stupidity were an energy resource the Democrat party would make OPEC look like beggars.

                Or were you operating under the misunderstanding that politicians try to solve problems?

                • Of course you are. What they’re actually looking for is graft and corruption…

                  • The politicians who are looking for graft and corruption are virtually harmless. It’s the ones who want to Change The World™ (and can never see how graft and corruption will inevitably result from their hamfisted attempts at rewriting human nature) that you need to shoot on sight.

                    • Rob Crawford

                      “The politicians who are looking for graft and corruption are virtually harmless. It’s the ones who want to Change The World™ that you need to shoot on sight.”

                      You realize the US is currently governed by those looking to Change The World(tm) to make it easier to commit graft and corruption, right?

                    • exactly. “Change the world” is a cover.

                    • No, I believe you’re sadly mistaken about that. The U.S. is currently governed by those looking to change it into a bureaucratic dictatorship in which the peons will never again dare do anything but what they are expressly told. Graft and corruption are merely weapons that they use to muscle out the competition. I have never seen any evidence that your Glorious Leader and Maximum Messiah (pbuh) is in it for the squeeze.

                      Aristotle said, and it remains true today, that men do not become dictators in order to keep warm.

                  • Jeff Gauch

                    Well, to be fair, they’re just looking to maximize their wealth and power, like the rest of us. It’s just that graft and corruption are extremely…efficient ways to do that.

              • Eliminate minimum wage laws and use a EITC type credit to subsidize wages up to the minimum wage, thus taking the burden of satisfying legislator idealism off the employer. The benefit would be paid according to properly reported Social Security numbers, of course.

                There would be problems, undoubtedly, but they might be less than the distortions imposed by the current regime.

              • Fixing the laws here so that employers could legally have a bunkhouse would help a lot– or enforcing housing laws on illegal flophouses.

                • Yes, as would allowing employers who provide room and board to pay less in wages. (as in lower than minimum wage)

                • Orwell recounted a story of his work in the hop fields and how inspectors kept people from jobs by requiring adequate accommodations. . . he was still a socialist, after.

            • Minimum wage laws have advocates. Both the business’s competitors and the people who feed their egos about doing “good” by supporting them.

              • Jeff Gauch

                Communism has advocates. Doesn’t mean it isn’t a stupid idea. When companies are forced to go out of business because they can no longer work around the minimum wage laws that might start convincing people that minimum wages are in fact a dumb idea.

      • William O. B'Livion

        Have to, with computers allowing you to live anywhere and work anywhere.

        It may be that computers allow it, but managers do not.

  14. Aldi has those coin/cart releases. Though I think it’s more to save money by not hiring a cart-guy than to deter theft.

    • Robin Munn

      Yeah, I’m pretty sure a shopping cart costs more than 25 cents. So it’s basically telling customers “We’ll pay you 25 cents to return your cart to the central area yourself.”

      In France where I grew up, they had a similar coin-return cart system, where the coin used to be 10 francs (about $1.50 at the time), then 2 euros once the EU currency got started. Either way, I think it was still less than the value of the shopping cart.

      • The question is whether it’s worth more than that to the would-be thief. To be sure, there are those who would not consider that, but then there are those who find it more valuable and yet want their quarter back. (Many crooks are very stupid.)

        • It’s not a matter of crooks. Again you’re running smack against culture. This is the default. If you leave something outside, with no penalty for taking it, the AVERAGE PERSON feels they “Should” take it whether or not they have a use for it. After all a use might come up later, or they could barter it. If there were no penalty for taking the carts people would feel they would be chumps not to take it. Even if the only use they could think of for it was to cover it in plastic and use it as a wheel barrow. Since they have to leave a deposit, it’s obvious the owner doesn’t want it taken, and therefore it shouldn’t be assumed to be “free with purchase”. It’s just a form of fence. BTW on the wrangling side, people do the same appallingly rude and stupid stuff they do here, just leaving it in a parking spot. They don’t steal them, because there’s a deposit, so that means it’s not free. But they view 1 euro as a good fee for not walking all the way back. My kids are in the habit — here — of grabbing those and taking them back. They were ecstatic there to find that taking them back got them enough money to buy a drink or a candy bar.

          • Gives entrepreneurial kids an opportunity to provide a societal good (having shopping carts not strewn around a parking lot) at a lower cost (not having to pay a person MW+Bennies+EmpTxs) while encouraging initiative.

            Many parts of America used to achieve a similar purpose by charging a bottle deposit (presumably built into product price) — a fee often not worth the effort to the bottle emptier but an encouragement for kids whose free time offered little in the way of money-earning opportunity to collect and return for deposit bottles which would otherwise be at best unsightly and at worst pose serious danger.

            • Portugal used to have the same. I made my first money collecting bottles and bottle caps — when I was four or so.

            • Dorothy Grant

              Even the ones that don’t have a bottle deposit still have companies that’ll pay for sorted glass and metals – as a kid, I often had a magnet, a stick, and a shopping bag handy, and with a couple hours free time on a Saturday I could clean out the pullout high school kids used for binge drinking. Mom subsidized me as far as driving to the scrap metal center, but the rest I usually did on my own for pocket money.

            • William O. B'Livion

              The son of a friend of my fathers used to make his allowance by crushing the beer cans his dad and dad’s buddies emptied. Not the deposit, the *scrap aluminum* prices.

              That’s a lot of beer.

              • When I was at Flat State U, several men made informal contracts with the, ahem, major landlords in the Student Quarter. The owners let them come onto the property and the guys collected the empty beer cans and bottles on Sat, Sun, and Mon mornings. Several of them made very nice sums from the scrap.

          • What does culture have to do with it except to explain that they may be in a more or less vincible ignorance?

            • Culture establishes default programs (aka: reflexes) that the system uses in lieu of thinking. Jack Vance examined this in his The Languages of Pao, where the soldier caste equated “stranger” with “threat” while for the mercantile class “stranger” = “opportunity.”

              Individual personality determines what you do — run, duck or mop — when the excrement hits the vertical impeller, but culture determines which way you run and what you mop with.

            • I believe what Sarah is saying is that the culture teaches that taking something left out in public is not stealing, therefore those that take things left in public are not thieves (aka crooks). You will probably agree with me that when you stop at a rest area and some local nonprofit is offering free coffee and cookies, that taking a cup of coffee and a cookie, without leaving a donation is not stealing; same principle in most Latin cultures.

    • Yup. Up here in Canada, the going rate is a loonie (that’s our $1 coin, for anyone who isn’t familiar with the term). Anybody who wants to steal shopping carts will not be deterred by having to put a dollar in the slot. After all, it’s not like the dollar goes anywhere. If need be, you can whack the mechanism with a crowbar until you get your dollar back.

      • It’s that rate in Portugal too — it’s one Euro — but you’re missing the psychological part of it. If it were “free” they’d feel forced to take it and then find a use for it. Because evidently it was MEANT to be taken. By having a price, even nominal, it’s the same as putting a fence around it.

        • If the Portuguese were really as keen on taking anything that isn’t nailed down as you make them out, it would take an actual physical fence. The price wouldn’t stop them.

          I think you’ve oversold your case a little here.

          • No. It’s more that you have to put a fence either physical or metaphorical around things to claim ownership. Otherwise it’s “Insufficiently defended” for them to take your ownership seriously.

  15. FlyingMike

    (I’m cringing at typing the word “class” so much in what follows, but I can’t come up with a better descriptive terminology for the political structure south of the border – I don’t know how else to describe things down there without using Marxist memes.)

    If the sustained indirect economic exploitation by the Mexican governing class via their strategy of non-assimilative emigration (and the massive resulting payments-sent-home) of their underclass is ever seen by those in power north of the border as a problem, one solution would be the Gaul option – Just ship a handy Gaius Julius down to conquer the place, installing an imperial governance layer on top of the local political structures. Then the local government could be directed to impose the guest worker structure Chad suggests, probably run by Manpower as a government subsidized monopoly service in the resulting newly added territories (so sorry, newly conquered lands can’t become states right away – we have to guide them along for a couple generations. For proper terminology, see the US governments reasons for not proceeding with Philippine independence immediately after the Spanish American War).

    The left always shouts about “American Imperialism”, but they really haven’t seen anything close to what that would actually look like.

    • Tom Kratman, who is an expert in such matters, is extremely unenthusiastic about conquering Mexico. It might not be doable given current US culture.

      • FlyingMike

        Oh, I agree with the Colonel – I’m similarly grossly unenthusiastic about any such adventure. Multiple cultural and societal pendulums would have to have swung back as hard as they’ve gone the other direction, and all at the same time, to make it even conceivable.

        I also have no doubt the American experiment would not survive such an occurrence, just as the Roman Republic didn’t long survive Gaius Julius’ conquest of Gaul except in pantomime form. The Colonel himself wrote such a gross swing to explicit American imperialism as the backstory in Caliphate, with the exception that he had things getting better after the death of the fellow who ended up on top in the Imperial overthrow.

        I’m just pointing out that the results of the current policies could very well vary wildly from what the progs who are implementing them expect.

        • COULD? Oh, master of the understatement, sir! Things always turn different from what vile progs expect because their contact with reality: economic, social or psychological is less than thread thin. They’re blinded by the precepts of their a-historical religion.
          The question is not “will it hit the Khaki?” the question is how large will the splatter be?

          • Amen sister, though I’d venture to say that the thread whereof you speak snapped in twain many a year ago if in fact it ever was connected.
            The vast bulk of the lib/progs know with absolute certainty “THE TRUTH” and no amount of reality short of severe personal discomfort if then will shake their convictions in the slightest.
            It is an education just to suffer through the occasional visit to the network news shows or the HuffPo or such on line just as a reminder how totally divorced from any rational thought these folks can be.
            For that matter, look at idjits like the Rhode Island representative who insisted that the folks in Oklahoma deserved the tornado damage because the state was full of AGW deniers. I came very close to putting a fist through the picture tube over that one.

        • All you have to do to stop what’s going on in Mexico is to destroy the 40 Families that control virtually every aspect of Mexican life. The best way to do that is to confiscate their wealth. Of course, it’s probably illegal, but just about anything else is, also. Securing the borders is difficult, but not impossible. Unfortunately it won’t be done until there’s either a drug cartel mass murder, or a significant muslim-committed atrocity involving people that snuck across our southern border. The probability of both of those grows with each passing day.

          • Rob Crawford

            “Unfortunately it won’t be done until there’s either a drug cartel mass murder, or a significant muslim-committed atrocity involving people that snuck across our southern border.”

            What a pity we’ve forgotten the lesson Pancho Villa taught us.

          • Ori Pomerantz

            The problem is that if you just get rid of those 40 families, without changing the culture, they’ll be replaced by another 40. Until Mexicans decide that corruption is bad, they’ll continue to do it – and some will be better at it than others.

    • “…one solution would be the Gaul option – Just ship a handy Gaius Julius down to conquer the place, installing an imperial governance layer on top of the local political structures.

      Sorry, I’m busy. And evidently can only work in the night. Or very very cloudy days.

    • Paging Tom Kratman, paging Col. Kratman — your vehicle is ready!

      Question is: how do we ensure that, having turned Mexico around, the honorable Col. won’t turn around and invade the USA to reinstate the Constitution?

      • With all that tequila down there? He’d never come back.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Since he doesn’t want the job of conquering Mexico, how are you going to make him take the job?

        • FlyingMike

          I don’t see Col. Kratman as the type for this kind of job – more someone like Wesley Clark, I think.

          And yes, I’d expect such a General to roll his tracks right back north across the Rio Grande, albeit not with the aim to reinstate constitutional governance and the rule of law, though that might be what he says he’s doing.

          • FlyingMike

            To clarify: I’d expect a General more someone like Wesley Clark in personality, excepting that they were also militarily competent.

            I wouldn’t let Wesley go. It wouldn’t do to lose to the Mexican Army.

        • Ori Pomerantz

          Have Mexican terrorists kill his wife and children. But the second order, unanticipated effects might be, well, impactful.

      • Are you kidding? What do you mean he WON’T?

      • Wouldn’t a revolution to reinstitute the Constitution be a GOOD thing?

    • G-d knows his MIGHT be on the table if we get in real trouble, but do we WANT the place?
      Class is appropriate when talking about Mexico. It is NOT a classless society, on the contrary. And yep, their government encourages all of this. The Portuguese government did too back then. Think about it — you get the discontented young out AND they send back money.

    • Then we’d have to deal with their criminal class, which is ugly.

      • …and already here, since here is where the money is.

        • In the last few years, police have been finding young boys in marijuana fields– their job is to watch the fields, live in tents, and someone comes by every couple of weeks to see if they need food or are dead. I am having trouble finding that particular report (a young boy of about ten or eleven was in Federal lands and was found)– another report is families coming to the US to lend respectability to crack houses (they run them). etc. etc.

      • Sorry – I be confused. Is it that their criminal class is dirty, dealing with them is dirty, or both?

        Perhaps we need to contract it out? I know where we can get dirty deeds done dirt cheap.

        • Look at Fast & Furious and the dead on the other side of the border. Then look at the dead on that side that aren’t connected to that — if you can stomach it.

  16. William O. B'Livion

    Australia can have an open, in ground swimming pool, uncovered, because its nearest neighbor, in human house terms is fifty miles away. No toddler can escape its mother’s vigilance and just wonder over and drown. Attractive nuisance or not, it is highly unlikely they’ll be fishing toddlers out of the pool every Summer morning.

    Working with the analogy, Australia has a lot of “toddlers” coming in from Asia, sucking up the low end jobs and getting the “benefits”. Australia is not quite as broke as we are, but they have a *lot* more natural resources that are being yanked out of the ground and sold to China and whomever else as fast as they can. They also have a large aboriginal population that, well, ‘has issues’.

    • FlyingMike

      … And the Kiwis have a problem with all their youngsters packing up and leaving New Zealand (for Oz, mostly, but elsewhere as well) as there are not enough jobs as extras on the Peter Jackson movies to really prop up the economy.

      • William O. B'Livion

        There is (or was as of September) plenty of work in Christchurch tearing down and rebuilding.

  17. I’ve argued for a while now that part of the reason immigrant relations in Texas are so much better than they are in CA is because TX does everything by sales tax or property tax, and doesn’t do big welfare services, while CA runs off of income tax, and have lavish benefits.

    It means in TX there’s no system you must be registered in to be a part of; if you are here, regardless of where your “official” home is, you’re here and under the same laws.

    If you’re in CA, and you’re not a registered citizen, everyone else is paying for your upkeep, and you’re subject to prosecution at the whim of the powers-that-be. It creates a poisonous atmosphere of resentment and contempt on all sides.

    • California’s reliance on income taxes exacerbates receipt volatility, especially as two of its major industries — Hollywood and Silicon Valley — are especially susceptible to boom-bust cycling.

      The income tax also encourages high income earners to find innovative methods of directing payment, such as forming an independent production company which pays its principal a small salary and invests in property to enable the head of the company to maintain the life style necessary to present himself properly to the market for his talents.

      Such a production company would reasonably invest in real estate, contract for wardrobe for the principal, manage secondary aspects of the actor’s presentation , including but not limited to a trainer, an acting coach, hair stylist, wardrobe adviser, driver, personal chef and dog walker — all paid at market rates (often billed as incidental expenses to the film or television company contracting for the principal’s services) and all recognized as operating expenses for the production company. Monies earned by the company are available for investment on behalf of the company in real assets and financial instruments, shielding profits against such time as the company is sold or dissolved and net worth paid to the principals as capital gains. All travel by the principal and corporate officers (e.g., to Cannes or Sundance film festivals) is an operating expense of the company and is charged against corporate income. Any jewelry worn by the principle or associates thereof is probably also owned by the company and provided to ensure the principal always presents an appropriate public appearance, reflecting well on the company and promoting its assets.

      N.B., while I am an accountant, I do not practice in the field of entertainment production and the above description is merely educated guesswork based on incidental reading. Hollywood has had decades to develop some of the most … idiosyncratic accounting practices in the world and ny analysis probably severely understates the degree of income shielding that goes on.

  18. <>

    Ah, someone else who *gets* it.

    When I was a kid, my parents brought us over to the US for vacation. I was astounded, no, SHOCKED, at the unfenced lots. In Pakistan, all lots are walled in. We’re talking serious 8-10-foot-high brick walls (great for bouncing tennis balls against!) with two locked gates–one for cars to drive through and one for people traffic. Unfenced American lots looked highly dangerous. *Anyone* could just walk over your yard. And how could people *tell* where their lawns ended and their neighbors’ began? What a mad idea.

    (The other thing that shocked me was the lack of streetlights along the highways. I remember my parents trying to explain how many miles of interstate there were in the US and what a huge power drain it would be to light them up. In my defense, I grew up in a huge city.)

    I agree, Sarah, that many of the immigrants coming to the US today are here for economic benefits, not to be American. I’ve seen it in my relatives who’ve come over as well. They tend to stick to their own kind. Their emotional attachment is to their native land. Their position on any issue is based on the interests of their sub-group, not what’s good for America as a whole.

    I married outside my ethnic group, and also rather drastically severed ties with my home country. There’s no going back for me. I have to think about what’s good for all of America, because my future and my children’s future is, for good or ill, here.

    • Ooops, those brackets should’ve had “unfenced lots” in them. (The words, not actual tracts of land, before anyone even thinks of making a joke. And there’s no play on words intended on the word “tracts” either… oh never mind).

    • On your last paragraph — same thing here.

    • There’s no going back for me. I have to think about what’s good for all of America, because my future and my children’s future is, for good or ill, here.

      Thank you.

      That means there’s a good chance your kids will pick up on this, and my kids will have some more folks on their side. (Plus, I like having a base level of in-living-memory immigrants– third generation bias there, though, grandma was what your kids will be, and I think it’s important that folks remember there is a different way of thinking.)

  19. You explained very well what I have been groping towards for some time. Thank you.

    I must, however, point out that there is a solution you didn’t consider that is no more unlikely than the ones you did. We could invade Mexico, displace the Mexican Ruling Class, and run the place ourselves. There would be a lot of details to work out, of course, but everything I have read about Mexican politics leads me to believe that we could send in a cadre of the nitwits currently running matters in places like Detroit and end up with both where they came from and where they were sent better governed.

    I don’t recommend this. I think that the solution runs along the lines of letting in everybody we don’t consider an active threat, while limiting a lot of secondary “Rights” like minimum wage to citizens. Not that that is going to happen either.

    What I see happening in my lifetime is a shift to a genuinely Imperial America; probably after some camel-pesterers set off a really big bomb (say, a fuel-air explosion) in an American city. The country will really and seriously lose its collective temper, and by the time the dust clears we will hold the middle east, and possibly Mexico as well.

    We won’t be as good Imperialists as the British were, and it will change us in ways I don’t think anyone here will like. I take some small comfort from the thought that as a 50+ WASP male, most of the changes that would personally affect me will happen after I die. And I will watch with some glee as the usual anti-war ninnies get slung into jail so hard they bounce and find that their ACLU lawyers are in the next cell. PLAYING countercultural revolutionary is always so much safer and more comfortable than actually having to deal with real fascism.

    • Great Minds, etc. – Pitfalls abound, but your Detroit observation is nicely put – See discussion further up re: the Gaul Option.

  20. Having been to Canada several times, grown up steeped in Lithuanian “background” (americanized) and known a few people from the germanic/polish/british part of Europe, I never, ever felt so “foreign” as when I visited relatives in Miami (side note – WTF with all the people who seem to think that “culture” is just a patina and not core programming? Especially when dealing with little colored quaint natives who’re “just like us but ignorant”/etc…).

    It wasn’t the pervasive Spanish (I’m conversant enough that signage-level stuff rolls past me unremarked and isn’t even mentally translated. It just “is”)

    I grew up around DC while it was “murder capital” as well. Yeah, there’s shady parts of town. That said, the nicer parts of miami had solid fences around most everything, the “things not nailed down” aspect was much higher. It’s the first place I saw a B&N where they actively discouraged you from just hanging out around the store. Lowes/Best Buy/etc. funneled you in a much more prison/cattle call kind of way, and many major retailers (not just Costco/Sams like SC) check your receipts against your bags on the way out. Even nicer neighborhoods tend toward gates built around front doors so you can step out to get your paper without leaving a locked space. Special barriers for reinforcing front doors. And so forth.

    • (side note – WTF with all the people who seem to think that “culture” is just a patina and not core programming? Especially when dealing with little colored quaint natives who’re “just like us but ignorant”/etc…)

      I had an epiphany while listening to “It’s a Small World After All” for the fifth time or so– I actually rather like the song, but….

      Folks take the wrong lesson from it.

      The point of the song was to tell those who ALREADY KNEW that folks were very different, in a wide range of sometimes fatal ways, that we did have something in common.
      It’s no shock to someone who knew a guy who knew a guy who had survived Japanese prison camps, or liberated a Nazi prison camp, that other people can be Really Bad News.

      But these folks ignore the BIG FREAKING HUGE PANTING ZOMBIE RAT IN THE CORNER THAT IS DROOLING ON SOMEONE that shows that the differences are important, and act like the human similarities are the only thing– so they end up projecting Christian values on the entire world, because they don’t even recognize that things like “all humans are real people” is a Christian value.

      • Christian Values are an oppressive tool of the Patriarchy.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          *facepalm* *headdesk*

        • We oppress people for their own good and the good of all those about them.

          • I was raised Christian, but have strong agnostic tendencies. But I am also the son of two History teachers. It is my observation that, whether you like Christian Values or not, societies based on Protestant Christianity are observably preferable to those based on pretty much any other set of values. Islamic societies treat women like chattel and are arguing whether homosexuals should be burned alive or thrown off of the minarets of local mosques. Hindus live with a caste system that starts at disgusting and gets worse from there. Buddhism sounds swell, but has historically been the basis of societies that treat common people like farm animals. Catholicism is a religion that runs tho lords and peasants. And Atheism, over the course of the 20th Century, racked up a record of murder and despair that makes the Spanish Inquisition look like a troop of excessively well behaved Boy Scouts. Protestant Christian societies were the first to support anti-slavery movements composed of somebody other than slaves, the first societies to even pay lip service to the rights of minorities, and the societies that have lead the fight for the rights of women.

            Naturally the Liberal Intellectual Radical Progressives hate Christian Values; they know full well that if any actual comparisons ever get made, their moral superiority is going to lose value like the Stock Market in October of 1929.

            • So… how did all the European democratic free cities develop under Catholicism? Why is the basic monastic model dependent upon elected abbots and abbesses that serve a limited term?

              If you seek the reason we had serfs and lords, you want to look to the economic history of the late Roman Empire in the West (ie, the latifundia system, and taxation to the point of enslavement) as well as the fun with barbarian invasions all the time (both those who stuck around, like Goths and Franks, and those who tried, like the various Muslim groups) and bad climate, crop failure, and dire plague during certain points of late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. Every time the economy got better and there was a chance of not getting killed by invaders or your neighbors, democracies and republics, and crafts and trade, made big comebacks. Every time the invaders or the nobles or the king got crazy, or the weather started killing people, democracies and republics suffered.

              And just in case you were wondering, divine right of kings was mostly a Protestant thing. Which is why Henry VIII went big with it and made himself head of his own church and master of his own marriages.

              For extra credit, feel free to study medieval Italian city-states, which at times went through every possible iteration of a political system within about a year, including as many variations on democracies and republics as nobody else could imagine. Siena is particularly good for that one. They seem to have had a lot of fun with their experimentation and feuding, at least until some regime would get in that wanted to kill everybody else.

              • Actually, it’s funny how many of the tiny American Protestant religious groups back in the day were functionally religious orders in the way they were run, except for usually including both sexes. The Shakers, of course, were the best example, because they went whole hog all the way to having monastic-style houses and Benedictine-like community farms and manufactories. But Zoar and Gnadenhutten and even places like Oneida Farm (brr) were much more like religious order communities than like towns founded by religious denominations. Possibly it was the wilderness influence, since of course most monastic orders also had the idea of going out to some wilderness place and making it a little paradise for God’s glory.

      • Rob Crawford

        “these folks ignore the BIG FREAKING HUGE PANTING ZOMBIE RAT IN THE CORNER THAT IS DROOLING ON SOMEONE”

        I, for one, have never forgiven Disney for removing “Alien Encounters”.

    • Yep. As for the idea of little brown people having culture as sort of “cute clothes and nice food” it’s promoted in our schools. They teach the kids about “other cultures” but what they’re actually teaching is tourist stuff. “They wear these cute clothes” (most of them actually don’t anymore, but that’s besides the point) and this is their food. This allows them to then say that all cultures are equally functional which is — self evidently — nonsense if you know something about real cultures.

      • Yes, but Multiculturalism is absolutely necessary for the Liberal Intellectual Radical Progressives to maintain their Radical Chic idiocies. If people got into the habit of actually comparing cultures, a lot of the LIRPs’ obsessions with violent nutballs would begin to stink. The status quo would get VERY seasick.

      • That is why the social engineers inoculate everybody with with the impotent concept of culture, to ensure they never catch the real thing.

        They’ve been doing the same thing with religion for generations, lest people take it seriously. Unhappily, the anti-virals for Faith seem insufficient to fully protect.

        Economic anti-virals seem more effective at preventing the spread of Free Market Capitalism, although they appear to vitiate over time, requiring frequent booster shots. Regular contact with Reality seems to speed the degradation of the anti-virus.

        • I think part of this is that God doesn’t “intervene” as obviously as the market does. We can pretend that our laws repeal the law of the free market, but much like gravity, the market will be free. It’s just a matter of how much damage it causes proving it.

          • People are pretty good at ignoring God’s intervention, or claiming its actually a good thing, or blaming it on something else…same with the free market….way too many people are still keynesians despite the facts.

  21. > I first became aware of the concept of attractive nuisance when I was living in North Carolina.

    Speaking for guys, we usually learn about the concept around the age of 16 or so. 😉

    • well… given that I was dressing in a way considered okay in Portugal — frilly revealing clothes, mostly — and wearing high heels… I might have BEEN an attractive nuisance.

      • Heh. A lady I know was banned from wearing a certain dress while visiting [redacted] airport because she nearly caused over a million dollars in damage. She’s, well, she’s a redhead who “would make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window.” One late afternoon she walked out onto the tarmac to remind her S.O. (who was showing some kids an airplane) that they would be late for a dinner party. Her snug white dress and high heels so distracted two of the guys moving airplanes that they almost towed a corporate jet into another expensive airplane. The airport manager asked her please not to wear that dress on the ramp again.

      • Back at our previous residence there was (reportedly) a stripper lived down the block from us that (reportedly) used to sunbathe nude (mebbe topless — I have only hearsay to go on) who, judging by the traffic, constituted an attractive nuisance (the young police officers who cruised by several times an hour apparently thought her so.)

        I suspect strippers are more interesting taking off clothes in dim light than lying nude in sunlight, but (I cannot stress this sufficiently) I have no direct knowledge, I merely infer from having seen people in bars and people in pools.

        • FlyingMike

          I suspect strippers are more interesting taking off clothes in dim light than lying nude in sunlight

          At least in the so-called lingerie clubs where the entertainers ended up still just barely legally covered that constitute the scope of my experience, and noting this is an overlarge number of years back in my obviously-misspent premarried life, and besides I only went to keep recently divorced friends company, one can learn a lot from chatting with the dancers, wait staff and bouncers (once you pass the creep tests).

          Specific to RES’ point, the dancers spend pretty much all day before reporting to work in the late afternoon either working out or tanning, as the major fraction of their earnings are from tips, which are directly proportionate to their appearance. The young ladies who danced knew that their earning years in this market were very limited, so they engaged in very complex net-present-value calculations regarding how much of their significant tip cashflow they should spend on any number of enhancement surgeries, in light of the calculated increase in tips that would result from each enhancement and thus the payback rate on each.

          I’ve not seen many more financially conscientious businesspeople in the my career in industry, and I’ve seen a lot worse in the C-suites of companies I’ve worked for.

  22. So I came to the US from England, a banker, just after the ’87 crash : some one had to show them how not to screw up.

    It was a mistake, my other choice was Zurich.

    It would have been far the better selection, the US propagandizes every, very well.

    • It wasn’t a mistake. If you think that you don’t know us very well. As far as countries go the US is the bottle covey in a bar fight (pace Pratchett.) You can count us down, but don’t count us out.