Thursday, August 6, 2009

America needs Immigrants to remain great

I've been reading a lot of editorials and articles lately on historical patterns. Right now, we are living in a similar, albeit smaller scale, time as around the Great Depression. Mark Twain said "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme." And we are rhyming with a few other periods in time centered on a recession or depression.

From Reset: How This Crisis Can Restore Our Values and Renew America, by Kurt Andersen, talking about another "rhyming" moment:

We've just finished living through a long Gilded Age, in which rich Americans got richer, and more and more people began consuming conspicuously. The original Gilded Age began a century earlier, in the 1870s, during a laissez-faire boom that lasted — déjà vu! — from the end of one Wall Street and banking meltdown (the Panic of 1873) to the beginning of another (the Panic of 1893).

The idea of historical cycles can be reassuring: what comes down must go up. However, great nations can shrivel and empires do come to an end. And America in 2009 also looks as if it could rhyme, uncomfortably, with Great Britain circa 1909. A hundred years ago, the British were coming off a proud century as the most important nation on earth. But during the 30 years between the beginning of World War I and the end of World War II, the United States emerged as the unequivocal world leader, and Britain became an admirable also-ran.


I found this quite interesting. In a few other exerpts, Andersen talks about other historical rhymes, and what the consequences were. After the Great Depression, the US emerged as the world leader. He talks about what we can do to avoid losing that spot to China, and becoming the Great Britain of the 21st century.

Andersen predicts that, if we can get through this the right way and emerge unscathed as the Great Nation we have been, we will see another great economic, technological, and societal boom as we did after each previous recession. We had similar crashes in the '60s and '70s, where "we found ourselves in a slough of despond, with an oil crisis, a terrible recession, declining productivity, a kind of Weimarish embrace of cultural decadence" we then got from that era Federal Express, Microsoft, Apple, and others. Yes, we will lose certain industries, but we will gain others.

What else did other crashes have before we went to Superpower status? We had a wave of immigrants.

The waves of exotic foreigners who poured in during the 1800s and early 1900s were unsettling to Americans at the time — culturally, economically, and politically. But our forebears got over it, fortunately, since the newcomers were instrumental in forging the American Century.

No other nation on earth assimilates immigrants as successfully as the United States. There are those who argue that we can no longer afford to open our doors so wide, but in fact precisely the opposite is true. Beyond giving sentimental, self-flattering lip service to our history as "a nation of immigrants," the sooner we can agree on a coherent and correctly self-serving national immigration policy — that is, to encourage and enable as many as possible of the world's smartest and most ambitious and open-minded people to become Americans — the better our chances of forestalling national decline...

Just as we are now dependent on cheap credit and cheap manufactured goods from China, we really can't afford to say no to cheap laborers from Mexico and Central America, and we need to admit that truth and make the system for absorbing them rational. At the upper end of the scale, it's crazily self-defeating for us to set arbitrary and entirely politicized limits on the visas we grant to skilled foreign workers, such as software engineers and nurses. Wouldn't it make more sense to establish a politically independent federal apparatus, like the Federal Reserve System, that would adjust immigration quotas according to the actual and projected ebbs and flows of our economy?

Basically, we need immigrants. Sometimes we need more, sometimes we need less. We need some way of regulating that, and a better system for getting them legally. We need tax-paying immigrants who will not only provide cheap labor, such as what provided that backbone of the industrial revolution, but also the other end of the spectrum; we need immigrants who will bring fresh ideas and ways of thinking to our complacent system. People like Einstein and other immigrants who brought changes to the United States. Immigrants who will give birth to the future Reagans, Clintons, Obamas, Martin Luther Kings, Rosa Parks, Lincolns, MacArthurs, etc.

We need to get over our xenophobic aversion to immigration in order to survive.

Read exerpts from Reset here:
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1914738,00.html?loomia_si=t0:a16:g2:r3:c0.0741689:b26986058&xid=Loomia

21 comments:

bluepitbull said...

I don't think anyone will disagree with you about needing immigrants. Of the legal type who aren't going to live below the poverty line and suck up already overburdened social services.

I think three or four generations in, we need new blood in our country to keep things moving forward.

Jennifer said...

I agree with both you and bluepitbull. Immigrants are an integral part of who we are and who we will be. The key word in all this is legal!

Sandy said...

Good post James.

Ciao Baby said...

Don't give up Mr. Hopey Changy still has 3 1/2 more years to become worst than Carter.

James' Muse said...

Ciao baby: What does that have to do with this post?

Btw: Carter doesn't even make the top ten worst presidents. He's in the middle by all standards.

bluepitbull said...

What???? He is easily higher on the list of bad presidents than that.

He gave away American property and resided over a fuel crisis. Not to mention his no foreign policy. Why else would he be running around the world now?

James' Muse said...

I just wikipedia'd him...I guess he is placed anywhere from #19-34...he had some sucesses, and some failures. Nothing too large I guess. In terms of foreign policy, he DID negotiate peace between Egypt and Israel, so that's one plus in a bunch of negatives.

I think it's more that he wasn't terrible than that he was great. There have been far worse presidents:

Herbert Hoover: exacerbated the depression.

Richard Nixon, who resigned to avoid criminal charges.

John Tyler, defender of slavery.

Andrew Johnson: the first to be impeached, opposed to the 14th amendment.

Those guys are on worst president lists...

TRUTH 101 said...

Sorry to be off topic also James. But I always thought if Reagan had defeated Ford in the 1976 primaries and got elected president, he would have been a one termer also. That was just a bad time to become president. Things were bad and only getting worse. Jesus Himself could not have fared any better than Carter had He been president at that time.

Thank you for indulging my off topicness.

James' Muse said...

True that, man.

I think Carter also gets criticized for the hostage situation he presided over.

bluepitbull said...

He gets criticized for more than that. And how did that Middle East peace process work out anyway?

Wikipedia, theres a good source.

Anyway, I know you guys like to spit on Republicans, so go for it. I'm really getting tired of the partisan hacks on the left anyway.

James' Muse said...

Blue, I don't think we were spitting on anyone here...plus there are plenty of partisan hacks on the right as well.

bluepitbull said...

Really? Only partisan hacks I see are the enitre democratic party. I cannot hang here if your going to continue your slam on the republican party. They are no longer in charge and I'd like to see a little criticism of the left from you and some others.

There isn't blame to go around. The adminitration in charge of the white house now has to bear the burden and I don't think they are capable given how often they blame the previous administration.

My Files said...

What part of ILLEGAL don't you understand?

James' Muse said...

Blue, I haven't talked about Republicans in awhile here...since my "Palin" post...but that was criticizing her, not the Republican party, and that I thought it was suicide to pick her in '12.

I'm not a Democrat, so I don't feel the need to criticize them...I'm a Republican, and I try and do constructive criticism, i.e. what we need to do to become great again...but I have criticized Obama in a few different posts on stuff I don't agree with...

James' Muse said...

My Files: You obviously didn't read my post. This talks about immigrants in general, and it isn't a discussion of legal/illegal.

Im Here To Say It said...

I have been a conservative republican most of my life. I am still a conservative but I'm not sure that I'm a republican anymore. I didn't leave the republican party, they left me.

The democratic majority in power right now is doing great harm to this country. Harm that I am not convinced can be reversed. However, the republican party did not do all that great of a job when they were in power either.
The problem is not republican or democrat. The problem is that we have a government that no longer cares what in the best interest of a nation. Their sole consideration is staying in office and consolidating their own power by whatever means possible.

I believe that what "we the people" need to strive for is to completely replace the people we have in Washington D.C. (by peaceful means if possible). I would encourage every American to vote for ANYONE besides the incumbent in the next congressional election. If your a democrat and you want to vote for a democrat, then by all means please do so. Just not the one currently there. Same thing with the republicans.

Imagine what might be possible if we could send 435 new congressman to Washington next year and get rid of the guys that have spent most of their lives inside the beltway.

If we can not do this, then we will be forced to take "alternative" action sometime down the road.

Sergeant York the Anti Obama Czar said...

My Files said...
What part of ILLEGAL don't you understand?

He was referring to the "ILLEGAL Immigrants" Why did you call him out like you did?

Why is it that people would rather call those with different views and opinions than your own stupid than misinformed my friend. Are you that scared of the opposition that you conform to calling people stupid. I was always taught it takes one to know on. I'm banking that you are one of the stupid ones...

James' Muse said...

Sergeant York: The reason I called him out was because of his insulting insulting tone, and his obvious trolling. He didn't read my post, just saw IMMIGRANT, and started insulting me and saying that I don't understand the "illegal" part, when I was talking about immigration in general.

And then you come here, assume that I don't like opposing viewpoints. I never called him stupid. I rarely do that. I think my last post is the first time I've called anyone dumb on my blog.

Sergeant York the Anti Obama Czar said...

James' Muse said...

Sergeant York: The reason I called him out was because of his insulting insulting tone



Whatever you think is fine.

But may I ask how you can tell what a persons tone is in a blog's comment?
PS, read his blog as I did and then decide if he has a "TONE"

And if you feel that I'm "Trolling" then I'll just fade into the night and not bother you again.

Bye.

Sergeant York the Anti Obama Czar said...

James' Muse said...
"And then you come here,"


You won't have to worry about that anymore...Girlfriend.

James' Muse said...

There is such a thing as "written tone." His was "what part of ... don't you understand?!"

That's insulting.

Just like you calling me "girlfriend."

If all you can do is come by and throw insults, then I'm not too sad that you are leaving. If you want to have a conversation, that is fine and I'd love to have you. I talk to lots of people with opposing viewpoints all the time.