A Reader Rebukes Jacoby
April 29, 2002, 05:00 AM
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A Reader Says 245(I) Really Is As Bad As Painted

From:  Xavier Rabinowitz

In her April, 2002 Commentary piece, Tamar Jacoby writes:

"It is, for example, as easy today as it ever was to migrate to the U.S. from Puerto Rico, and wages on the island still lag woefully behind wages here. But the net flow from Puerto Rico stopped long ago, probably because life there improved just enough to change the calculus of hope that had been prodding people to make the trip. [VDARE.COM NOTE: This is actually not true. There is still net migration from Puerto Rico. See Wall Street (Journal) Story, August 8th, 2001.]

"Sooner or later, the same thing will happen in Mexico. No one knows when, but surely one hint of things to come is that population growth is slowing in Mexico, just as it slowed earlier here and in Europe."

Alas, Jacoby omits mention of the perverse incentives -courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer-that "improve....the calculus of hope" to native Puerto Ricans: primarily, the Section 936 tax credit.

The Section 936 corporate welfare provision has lured many low-skilled manufacturing jobs (mostly in the pharmaceutical industry, which comprise more than 53% of the island's 2000 merchandise exports) to P.R., helping to stanch the flow of immigrants to the U.S. mainland. The upshot: in 2005 the 936 credit will be phased out.

Though fuzzy on the minutiae, Steve Sailer suggested something akin to a Section 936 credit for Mexico.

Pragmatic as Sailer's suggestions may be, note that in spite of NAFTA & maquiladora fueled job growth during the 1990s, Mexican immigration nevertheless surged.

As if waking up yesterday from a pre-September 11th cryogenic sleep, Jacoby inexplicably blathers:

"The more daring, long-term gamble lies in continuing to admit millions of foreigners who may or may not make it here or find a way to fit in. This is, as Mr. Buchanan rightly states, "a decision we can never undo."

"Still, it is an experiment we have tried before—repeatedly. The result has never come out exactly as predicted, and the process has always been a wrenching one. But as experiments go, it has not only succeeded on its own terms; it has made us the wonder of the world."

Well, credit Jacoby for her apt 'experiment' jargon (ditto for characterizing what Buchanan says as 'rightly'). Not unlike the 1960s housing "projects", the post-1965 immigration "experiment" has abetted many catastrophic and unforeseen consequences as well.

Amazingly, Jacoby fails to grasp that:

(i)     accommodating these newcomers means expanding government power, or what she euphemistically calls 'basic services' like English, civics, and - gasp! - bank/credit counseling (gov't credit counseling? Coming soon: Mike Tyson anger management seminars!!!); or,

(ii)    eliminating 'counterproductive programs' (bilingual ed, ethnic entitlements) becomes more - not less - difficult by the influx of more immigrants.

Finally, before Ms. Jacoby recklessly throws all caution to the wind, might we remind her of a few significant differences between immigration today and pre-1920:

(i)     welfare: it distorts incentives on whether to remain in the country or go home,

(ii)    presence of myriad ethnic lobbies: do we really want to keep feeding the machine?,

(iii)   the activist foreign policy posture of the U.S.: let's keep our enemies away from our cities, civilians and sensitive infrastructure, and

(iv)   the frightening accessibility of destructive technology.

Just wondering Ms. Jacoby: which reality are we really denying?

April 29, 2002