I`m filing my post-election analysis from right here in
the heart of "racist"
U.S. Representative John Murtha made the "racist" accusation. President-elect Barack Obama told a group of well-heeled liberal San Francisco donors how we cling to God and guns. (Listen to his speech here.)
To those allegations, we in
Murtha and Obama are cheap shot artists. They can spout off whatever they please about us.
Our true character surfaced Tuesday night. Pennsylvanians can take it; we`re thick-skinned.
Even though Obama holds us in low regard, we
voted for him in such overwhelming numbers that merely sixty
seconds after the polls closed, he was declared the winner of
our 21 pivotal electoral votes. (Or at least the
urban areas did.
As for Murtha, a poster boy for term limits, all was forgiven. He too was comfortably re-elected.
What Congressional candidate in this day and age calls his constituents the most explosive word in the American vocabulary—"racist"—but is so quickly absolved?
But I went to school here. I have family and lots of friends who have lived here for years. Murtha and Obama offended everyone with their remarks.
We`re not racist, bitter or "anti-immigrant".
But we are pro-American—and there`s a world of difference.
One reason western Pennsylvania sticks to its traditional party allegiances: there is relatively little immigration. (Note: the data cited throughout the rest of my column is taken from Pittsburgh Today. org and refers to the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, that is, Pittsburgh and its surrounding area.)
Only 0.9 percent of Pittsburgh`s population is foreign-born and has arrived within the last decade. Compare that to Los Angeles where, as of 2005, nearly 35 percent of residents were born outside of the U.S.
In California, as well as the rest of the country, Mexicans represent the largest foreign-born group. They arrive in a completely uncontrolled fashion, accounting for 44 percent of the state`s non-U.S.-born.
Mexican migrants who in previous decades might have identified California as their destination now also head toward Nevada, Colorado, Georgia and North Carolina.
But few come to Pennsylvania. The state ranks fifteenth on the list of fifty with only 4.4 percent foreign-born. (See Center for Immigration Studies, Immigrants at Mid-Decade, by Steven Camarota.)
Specifically, they aren`t coming to Pittsburgh. As of 2000, the Hispanic population was only 0.7 percent, the lowest of any major US city.
By national and benchmark norms, Pittsburgh`s Hispanic population and its overall rate of in-migration is infinitesimal.
I repeat, however, that this does not make us "anti-immigrant."
What it does prove, however, is the theory to which I have long subscribed: immigration begets immigration.
Analyzing Pittsburgh`s immigration data going back for decades, it looks essentially the same as it is shown in Census 2000—that is, immigrants represent less than 1 percent of the total population.
But people are confused as to why Pittsburgh has so little immigration.
Here are the reasons they incorrectly point to:
In fact, the job market is relatively strong. In the year from September 2007 to September 2008, Pittsburgh jobs increased in four of five key sectors: non-farm, private, service and education and health care.
As with jobs, Pittsburgh wages are strong compared to the national average. Pittsburgh had a 5 percent increase in annual wages between 2005 and 2006 and outpaced the U.S. average. Between 2006 and 2007, annual wages in Pittsburgh rose another 3.8 percent. The numbers for average weekly wages, which are tabulated separately, continued positive in the first quarter of 2008. (To download the complete wage dataset, click here.)
Wrong again. Pittsburgh`s cost of living index was lower than both the national and benchmark regional averages in both 2007 and the first two quarters of 2008.
Naturally, it is easier to get from Mexico to California or Arizona. But while Pittsburgh is approximately 2,100 miles from the border, New Brunswick, New Jersey that has a 13 percent Hispanic population and a Mexican consulate, is three hundred miles further.
Since Pittsburgh has few immigrants, Americans hold our jobs, most schools don`t offer English as a Second Language, sanctuary city status is not under consideration, we don`t "press 1", we have no bilingual signs in our supermarkets and no one knows what chain migration is.
In summary, since Pittsburgh has virtually no immigrants and therefore no services that cater to them, we`re protected against having much more immigration in the near future.
Now, to be sure, evil lurks.
Some local academics argue for more immigration, claiming that Pittsburgh could never have been the steel center it was without the workers who came here from across the globe to keep the factories running.
Nevertheless, little grassroots support exists for more immigration.
Since my Pittsburgh arrival, I`ve assumed a new role: prophet.
To my friends and neighbors, I say: "Enjoy the Americana around you. Protect it."
Then I add a cautionary note: "Things can change faster than you could ever imagine."
After all, I grew up California—then
totally unspoiled .