The Washington Post Speaks With Fork Tongue
Robert Samuelson is trying to rival Lou Dobbs, only he speaks a little softer. In an editorial this morning, he writes that its really poverty that creates the immigration problem...that the poverty is coming from the outside, we are not creating it.
That our southern neighbors are sending so many poor people they are ruining us.
He brings up the usual- immigrants don't have health insurance (of course, how can they with the jobs they have), they cost us too much money in education and social services (he forgets about all those juicy contracts U.S. companies are getting), the U.S. is getting too many low skilled workers and need needs high skilled workers instead (here are those bad people again who are coming into our country, we need better people). He says that the immigrants are affecting African American wages (a little inflamatory speech please) and has the audacity to say that our media/government (aren't they the same?) are not "truthful" about how much the this immigrating poverty is affecting us.
He must not read his own paper. Three days ago Andrew Cockburn published an article in the Washington Post that told of all the new business associated with what he calls "military-industrial national security system." Here are a few examples:
"In Stafford County, Va., a 50-man company called McQ has started work on a $100,000 contract to develop a "smart rock" for the Department of Homeland Security. McQ, whose motto is "Tough sensors for an insensitive planet," says that its rocks, embedded with acoustic and motions sensors, will be able to detect illegal immigrants and other miscreants sneaking across our borders.
The firm expects its contract for developing the rocks to grow to $1 million by fall -- a sure sign that while immigration "reform" bills may come and go, the threat of illegal immigration will continue to expand. This is a certainty not because of the state of the Mexican economy or because of government laxity here, but because border control is now an integral part of the military-industrial national security system, which has a long history of profiteering from purported dangers to our safety."
Samuelson must not know about globalization and the effects of NAFTA. We (the industrialized nations) are causing much of the poverty with our thirst for capital. Many immigrants who are poor come to the U.S. because they can't make enough money to live on - they can't substain small farming operations, or their wages at the maquiladora are too low to support a family (I mean REALLY low- a student of mine was telling me that his whole family was surviving on 20 Dollars a week in Mexico City).
It is understandable that the W.P. wants to publish the other side of the story, but misinformation and inflammatory speech don't sound appropriate or helpful.
P.S. Samuelson appears to be one of those "concerned citizens" that Juli mentions.
By Robert J. Samuelson
Wednesday, September 5, 2007; Page A21
The government last week released its annual statistical report on poverty and household income. As usual, we -- meaning the public, the media and politicians -- missed a big part of the story. It is this: The stubborn persistence of poverty, at least as measured by the government, is increasingly a problem associated with immigration. As more poor Hispanics enter the country, poverty goes up. This is not complicated, but it is widely ignored.
The standard story is that poverty is stuck; superficially, the statistics support that. The poverty rate measures the share of Americans below the official poverty line, which in 2006 was $20,614 for a four-person household. Last year, the poverty rate was 12.3 percent, down slightly from 12.6 percent in 2005 but higher than the recent low, 11.3 percent in 2000. It was also higher than the 11.8 percent average for the 1970s. So the conventional wisdom seems amply corroborated.
It isn't. Look again at the numbers. In 2006, there were 36.5 million people in poverty. That's the figure that translates into the 12.3 percent poverty rate. In 1990, the population was smaller, and there were 33.6 million people in poverty, a rate of 13.5 percent. The increase from 1990 to 2006 was 2.9 million people (36.5 million minus 33.6 million). Hispanics accounted for all of the gain.
Consider: From 1990 to 2006, the number of poor Hispanics increased 3.2 million, from 6 million to 9.2 million. Meanwhile, the number of non-Hispanic whites in poverty fell from 16.6 million (poverty rate: 8.8 percent) in 1990 to 16 million (8.2 percent) in 2006. Among blacks, there was a decline from 9.8 million in 1990 (poverty rate: 31.9 percent) to 9 million (24.3 percent) in 2006. White and black poverty has risen somewhat since 2000 but is down over longer periods.
Only an act of willful denial can separate immigration and poverty. The increase among Hispanics must be concentrated among immigrants, legal and illegal, as well as their American-born children. Yet, this story goes largely untold. Government officials didn't say much about immigration when briefing on the poverty and income reports. The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal advocacy group for the poor, both held briefings. Immigration was a common no-show.
Why is it important to get this story straight?
One reason is truthfulness. It's usually held that we've made little, if any, progress against poverty. That's simply untrue. Among non-Hispanic whites, the poverty rate may be approaching some irreducible minimum: people whose personal habits, poor skills, family relations or bad luck condemn them to a marginal existence. Among blacks, the poverty rate remains abysmally high, but it has dropped sharply since the 1980s. Moreover, taking into account federal benefits (food stamps, the earned-income tax credit) that aren't counted as cash income would further reduce reported poverty.
We shouldn't think that our massive efforts to mitigate poverty have had no effect. Immigration hides our grudging progress.
A second reason is that immigration affects government policy. By default, our present policy is to import poor people. This imposes strains on local schools, public services and health care. From 2000 to 2006, 41 percent of the increase in people without health insurance occurred among Hispanics. Paradoxically, many Hispanics are advancing quite rapidly. But assimilation -- which should be our goal -- will be frustrated if we keep adding to the pool of poor. Newcomers will compete with earlier arrivals. In my view, though some economists disagree, competition from low-skilled Hispanics also hurts low-skilled blacks.
We need an immigration policy that makes sense. My oft-stated belief is that legal immigration should favor the high-skilled over the low-skilled. They will assimilate quickest and aid the economy the most. As for present illegal immigrants, we should give most of them legal status, both as a matter of practicality and fairness. Many have been here for years and have American children. At the same time, we should clamp down on new illegal immigration through tougher border controls and employer sanctions.
Whatever one's views, any sensible debate requires accurate information. There's the rub. Among many analysts, journalists and politicians, it's politically or psychologically discomforting to discuss these issues candidly. Robert Greenstein, head of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, says his group focuses on short-term trends, where immigration's role isn't so apparent. Conveniently, that avoids antagonizing some of the center's supporters.
Journalists are also leery of making the connection. Fifty-four reporters signed up for the center's briefing last week. With one exception (me), none asked about immigration's effect on poverty or incomes. But the evidence is hiding in plain sight, and the facts won't vanish just because we ignore them.
for complete article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/04/AR2007090401623.html?nav=hcmodule
"The Border Boondogle"
September 2, 2007