WaPo`s Samuelson Sags, But So What?
April 05, 2006, 01:42 PM
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I received about five million emailed copies of Robert J. Samuelson's March 8 column in the Washington Post calling for a border fence. This morning (April 5), Samuelson has a softer column, The Immigration Impasse: A Way Out, dismissing the current House bill as "mean-spirited and delusional" and combining his advocacy of a fence with...re-emphasized advocacy of an amnesty for illegals currently here.

This doesn't dismay me. When you follow a complex issue like the economics of immigration, as I have for some fourteen years, you get a sense of whether another writer knows the underlying technical literature. Samuelson does; Tamar Jacoby does not. That's why I sent him a copy of Alien Nation when it came out in 1995.

But Samuelson didn't acknowledge my generosity, and writes about immigration so rarely that each column is greeted as a revelation by the more naive immigration reformers, probably for the same reason: the immense political and peer group pressure that is brought to bear on any immigration critic in the MSM. One symptom of this is irritability with your putative but unfashionable allies, such as the House Republicans. Another is clumsy compromising, such Samuelson's amnesty aberration, which obviously contradicts completely his concern for lower-income Americans and would just inspire more illegal immigration, like all previous amnesties.

Steve Sailer has blogged some incisive comments this morning on similar triangulating behavior from another Big Foot economics columnist who seems to have seen the light on immigration, the New York Times' Paul Krugman. (As usual with Steve when I'm not editing him, it's buried under several tons of other interesting ideas - scroll to example 4).

Samuelson, of course, deserves vastly more credit than Krugman. He has been not just correct, but (fairly) courageous.

Stiil, the moral: put not your faith in MSM princes. Leadership in the immigration crisis has to come from outside the Establishment.