Saturday, September 30, 2017

Railroad Industrialist James Jerome Hill Was an Inventor Too?

Historians at James J. Hill House Say the Patent I Found Might Be His...

Stuart K. Hayashi

As U.S. patents are public information, for several years now they have been searchable on Google Patents. Some years ago, back when Google Patents had a more user-friendly interface, I decided to take a look at the patents of some famous figures, such as Walt Disney; Steven Spielberg; George Lucas; Jamie Lee Curtis (of Halloween fame); and Herbert Hoover, Jr., son to former U.S. President Herbert C. Hoover. Then I decided to look for the patents of nineteenth-century industrialists. I found those of John "Jack" Jacob Astor IV and Cornelius "Neily" Vanderbilt III, both of whom have long been recognized as inventors, though neither were or are as famous as their respective namesakes, the entrepreneurs who founded their respective family dynasties.

Photo of James Jerome Hill from the Pach Brothers,
courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Then, on a whim, I decided to see if there were any U.S. patents issued to James Jerome Hill, immigrant from Canada and builder of the Great Northern Railway, even though I did not recall any of the history books I had read about him having mentioned that he had any patents to his name (more about this near the bottom). Hill is often remembered for having constructed a transcontinental railroad across the northern United States without any federal subsidies, in contrast to the Northern Pacific Railroad and the connecting Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads that came much earlier. Hill is renowned for his railroad, but not for any inventions.

There are many U.S. patents which list, as their inventor, a "James Hill" that was obviously not this late-nineteenth-century railroader. However, one U.S. patent in particular caught my attention:  U.S. Patent Number 227,434.   The patent, issued in 1880, was for a new type of railroad dumping car.  Such dumping cars transported freight such as coal, and, similar to today's dump trucks, they can be tilted in order to dump the freight into a pile. Such an invention was certainly directly related to the industry for which Hill is most well-known.  And there were other several details concerning this patent that gave me reason to suspect that the listed inventor was the same man known for the Great Northern.

Figures 1, 2, and 3 from U.S. Patent 227,434,
with the inventor's signature on the bottom.
The patent went to a "James J. Hill" of St. Paul, Minnesota. St. Paul is the location of Hill's mansion: James J. Hill House, still existing to this day and managed by the Minnesota Historical Society, which gives tours of the place.  The timeline also matches:  it was just two years prior to the granting of this patent that Hill purchased the bankrupt St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, which would serve as the basis for the line that would eventually come to be known as the Great Northern. Moreover, the witnesses whose names appeared at the end of the patent were those of Reuben B. Galusha and Edward J. Schurmeier. Men named Galusha and Schurmeier have been involved in the history of the Great Northern.

Still, how could I be sure that this railroad dumping car was not the invention of yet another St. Paul resident named James J. Hill?  I am no expert on how common that name was in St. Paul at the time.  I had not remembered, earlier in September, this being a major topic in the biographies of Hill that I had read (again, more about this at the end). When I googled for "james j hill great northern patent dumping car," I couldn't find any websites specifically about the patent, other than Google's page on U.S. Patent 227,434 itself.  (Here are three internet archives of the results for when I googled "james j hill great northern patent dumping car" on September 30, 2017: 1, 2, 3.)

As you can see in the archive from September 30, 2017 (10:56 p.m. Hawaii time, which would be October 1, 2017 in all the other time zones), as well as in the archives from 2004, 2009, 2012, and 2016, the patent has not been mentioned on James Jerome Hill's Wikipedia page prior to the first publication of this blog entry (September 30).

At Corey Baum's recommendation, I asked the historians at James J. Hill House if they could comment on whether they thought it was plausible that the James J. Hill who received U.S. Patent 227,434 was the same James J. Hill responsible for the Great Northern Railway. On September 20, 2017 -- just four days following Hill's birthday -- James J. Hill House replied. With James J. Hill House's explicit permission, I share part of the reply:
While I think it would take a little more investigating on our part to say for certain (we're not immediately familiar with this patent), I think it's pretty safe to assume that the James J. Hill mentioned in the patent is the same James J. Hill who created the Great Northern Railway, and whose house we operate for tours. You're right that the timelines do match up nicely, as 1880 is two years after he and other investors purchased the bankrupt St. Paul and Pacific which he then expanded and renamed to the Great Northern, and we've never heard of another man of that name living in St. Paul contemporaneously with our Jim Hill. Your research is to be commended! Great work, and thanks for reaching out to us!

In the the days that followed, I looked further into this. It turns out that this invention might have been mentioned in a known biography after all, though as no more than an afterthought of the author. Albro Martin's James J. Hill and the Opening of the Northwest (New York:  Oxford University Press, 1976), says on page 217, "...he had gratified his ego by taking out a patent on an idea he had for converting flat cars into dump cars for spreading gravel."  Anyone who has read this book can be forgiven for forgetting that sentence -- the author, sadly, treats this bit of information as a rather trivial detail.

We cannot yet affirm it with absolute confidence but, as James J. Hill House says, the chances are quite good that the two James J. Hills are the same man.  It appears that not only was James Jerome Hill the mastermind behind one of the USA's most efficient railroad operations, but -- similar to George Westinghouse -- he patented a device of his own design that was highly pertinent to the railroad industry. Besides being a great entrepreneur, it is possible that the James Jerome Hill of history was an inventor as well. Though this dumping car did not impact the railroad industry with anything close to the same magnitude as Westinghouse's air brake did, U.S. Patent 227,434 belonging to the builder of the Great Northern would serve as yet another example of the mind of the Great Northern's builder always being at work, actively employing both imagination and logic in the search for new methods of improving productivity.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Our Immigration Laws Are Corrupt, and DREAMers' Parents Were Right to Break Them

Stuart K. Hayashi

Screen shot from the motion picture "Born in East L.A.,"
prod. Peter Macgregor-Scott, dir. Cheech Marin (Universal Pictures, 1987).

The news over the past few weeks has been President Donald J. Trump’s decision to reverse Barack Obama’s implementation, controversially over executive order, of the program known as DACA — Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals.  This refers to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States with their guardians while under the age of sixteen.  Even many people who have supported clamping down on adults who came to the USA without a visa — and President Obama has been harsh on such people — concede that such childhood arrivals into the USA are innocent; it is not as if one could reasonably expect them to defy their parents’ decision to bring the families here.  There are at least 800,000 such childhood arrivals, including the members of the team of then-high-school-students who beat MIT in a national competition to construct a submersible robot.

These childhood arrivals are DREAMers — so named after proposed pieces of legislation called DREAM Acts, an acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, pieces initially opposed at the state level and soon to be introduced at the federal level.

The White House announced it would discontinue the Obama-instituted DACA program but has made it a point to add that it supports the idea of Congress introducing a federal DREAM Act to protect the Dreamers from deportation.  This recommendation, the White House adds, indicates that President Trump is actually not hostile toward the Dreamers; he merely objected to Obama arrogating so much power to himself through executive order, which is unconstitutional.  Allegedly, for the same program to be instituted by legislation is the proper and constitutional procedure for serving the same ends as DACA, ends to which Trump does not object per se.

There is substantial reason to doubt, however, the claim that the White House's alleged support for a federal DREAM Act indicates the administration is sympathetic toward immigrants after all.  Many anti-immigration activists who have aligned themselves with Trump, such as Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, announce they will encourage Congressional Republicans to support a federal DREAM Act provided that they can pressure Congressional Democrats to vote for the RAISE Act — a piece of legislation aiming to cut legal immigration by reducing significantly the number of the skilled work visas that can be issued.

That is, Krikorian would have it that the Dreamers be treated as hostages, being left unharmed on the condition that aspiring legal immigrants be harmed through being denied H-1B visas they would otherwise receive.  What Krikorian proposes — in places such as National Review Online — is an extortionate measure whereby Democrats must “choose” which set of immigrants are to be sacrificed at the point of the federal government’s guns. On account anti-immigration Trump allies such as Krikorian prioritizing passage of the RAISE Act above their calls to deport the Dreamers, there are rational grounds to suspect that the main priority of the anti-immigration movement was not to curb “illegal immigration,” as they frequently claimed, but to reduce legal immigration all along.

On Twitter, many enemies of immigration and supporters of Trump — far less shrewd and sophisticated than Krikorian — sound as if they do not even want that sort of Congressional compromise.  Nay, they sound perfectly happy with armed federal agents forcibly deporting the Dreamers.   Upon learning that among Apple’s personnel are Dreamers now under threat of deportation, Stefan Molyneux gloats, “Upcoming job openings at Apple.”

More representative of the Dreamers’ enemies, though, is Samantha Janney, better known as PolitiBunny, who tweets, “DACA is like a parent stealing a bike, giving it to their child[,] and then pretending they should keep the bike because they’ve ridden it.”

PolitiBunny’s conflation of peaceful migration with theft is vacuous.  I don’t have children, but let’s imagine that I do.  Suppose I stole your bicycle and handed it to my child, who then rode it around.  That theft was an initiation of the use of force — my arms employed physical force to abscond with the bike and deprive you, the rightful owner, of control over it. Hence, I employed force to create an immediate and direct victim, you.  Now suppose instead that I invite a Mexican family to lodge on a parcel of land that I own.  I invite a Mexican couple and their son.  They stay on my land, minding their own business.  And they do this without obtaining a visa first.  That is contrary to federal law, but there is no victim upon whom the use of force has been initiated.

In her denunciation of Dreamers, PolitiBunny cites the value of the law, and yet the very justification for law itself seems to escape her.  That has to be addressed.

I wish I could say that the alleged defenders of the Dreamers had a significantly better understanding than PolitiBunny.  Sadly, the Dreamers’ “defenders” on Twitter have usually said something along the lines of, Yes, the Dreamers’ parents were wrong to disobey federal immigration law, but the Dreamers, having been innocent children when their parents brought them to the USA, should not be punished for their parents misdeeds.

I will not endorse that viewpoint.  People who make that argument do so on the false premise that the Dreamers’ parents’ flouting of immigration law was something corrupt.  No.  The federal immigration laws that the Dreamers’ parents broke were what were truly corrupt, and, in trying to benefit their children in the flouting of such corrupt statutes, it is the Dreamers’ parents who rightfully claim the moral high ground.

That is what I shall argue of the remainder of this essay, which is a revision of an older post, “Symbolater Syndrome, Part 3 of 4.”

Ask Yourself What Is the Proper Justification for Law in the First Place
Exactly because we need law and order, we should ask ourselves why we need them. They are not ends in themselves; they are intended to serve a greater value and, therefore, the enforcement of any law must be justified by the standard of whether it actually succeeds in serving that greater value. Insofar as the U.S. republic continues to be about freedom and the other ideals of the Declaration of Independence, the law is to serve the greater value that is the safeguarding of individual rights —   meaning that the law protects peaceful people from the initiation of the use of force and that it does not itself initiate the use of force upon peaceful people. After all, the Declaration of Independence does not say that the right not to be aggressed upon belongs to citizens alone; it says the right not to be aggressed upon belongs to “all men,” meaning all peaceful people.

Therefore, although suspected criminals are to be judged before courts of law, the law itself is still not the ultimate standard by which the respective moral statuses of people’s actions are to be judged. We must ask whether the ordinance or statute in question deserves to be kept on the books. As such, the law itself must be judged by the ultimate standard of whether it succeeds in protecting peaceful people against the initiation of the use of force and refrains from initiating the use of force itself. Nonviolent people do not exist for the purpose of obeying America law; American law exists to protect any and all nonviolent people within its jurisdiction. Accordingly, when statutes are not properly crafted — and when their errors go uncorrected — the statutes themselves become corrupt. “[...L]aw and order,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., observed in his Letter From a Birmingham Jail, “exist for the purpose of establishing justice[,] and...when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.” This is what has happened to federal U.S. immigration law.

Those Who Say “They Should Just Come Legally” Should Learn What It Takes for a Mexican or South American to Do So
Starting in the 1920s, federal immigration law was openly racist, imposing strict “caps” on the number of immigrants who could come in from Eastern Europe and from countries with majority nonwhite populations, while being less strict toward immigration from Northern and Western Europe. A reform in federal immigration law in 1965 genuinely corrected many of these injustices but, on account of some poor planning on the part of the reformers, the reform instituted a new injustice. I cannot fault the reformers much for the poor planning, as it would be difficult for me to anticipate all such negative consequences. Where I do find moral fault is that, in the subsequent decades, this problem has been pointed out many times and many people — mostly on the political Right — refuse to acknowledge the need to rectify this inequity, instead rationalizing the continuation and perpetuation of the injustice.

The issue is this: although the 1965 federal reform on immigration abolished what were the formal quotas on national origin based on race, they still require that to immigrate lawfully to the USA for a long-term period, you need a license from the U.S. federal government. That license is a piece of paper called a visa. There are three basic categories for visas: student visas, family reunification visas, and work visas. Student visas are for foreign nationals attending university in the United States — the sort of visa most familiar to my former classmates at Hawaii Pacific University, most of whom were from Northern and Western Europe. (Interestingly enough, it turns out that at least one Hawaii Pacific University alumnus who has resided in the USA for much of his life is among the Dreamers.) You can receive a family reunification visa if you already have family members in the United States. In some respects, the family reunification visas were part of a compromise with the anti-immigration, pro-racism lobby. Since whites still were the majority in the USA in 1965, they figured that most family reunification visas would still go to white people, or that at least nonwhites who did not have family members already in the USA would be at a disadvantage (and that is indeed the case).

The third type is a work visa. The most famous sort is the H-1B visa, which is for immigrants who can provide skilled labor. The H-1B visa is most famously associated with Silicon Valley information technology workers, but it goes to members of all sorts of skilled professions, such as doctors and university professors. H-1B visas seldom ever go to persons lacking a university degree; an exception is made for fashion models; a fashion model lacking in a university degree can still obtain an H-1B visa.

There are categories of visas for unskilled laborers; these are respectively H-2A visas and H-2B visas. These visas are for much shorter-term stays in the USA than are H-1B visas; an H-2B visa lets you stay in the USA for two years before renewal. Conspicuously, they are even less accessible to unskilled people in poor countries than are H-1B visas to skilled visa applicants.

A relatively new form of visa, introduced under the Obama administration, is the entrepreneurship visa. This is for established business owners wishing to immigrate to the USA to set up new business operations here. As you can imagine, this is not a visa applicable to most unskilled people in developing countries who do not have university degrees.

The problem with current federal immigration law is this: the 1965 reform placed a new “cap” on the number of visas that could be issued to particular countries annually. No more than 7 percent of all visas issued in a year can go to applicants from any one country of origin. This rule failed to anticipate that because Mexico is a poor country that is directly adjacent to the United States, it would make sense that a disproportionately large percentage of the people wishing to come to the United States would be from Mexico. Annually, 30 percent of all visa applications arrive from Mexico. You can see how this mismatch would bring forth a dilemma.

People from Bangladesh desire very much to come to the USA too, but they know that in any attempt to travel to the USA they would face geographic obstacles that a Mexican would not. The biggest obstacles for Mexicans in coming to the USA are not geographic but legal barriers imposed by the U.S. federal government.

The backlog for yet-to-be-approved visa applications is a nightmare. If the U.S. federal government received no new applications, it would still take over 19 years for it to clear its entire backlog of visa applications waiting to undergo full processing. On average, it takes a Mexican more than five years, from the start of the process to its end, to receive a family reunification visa. If you are in Mexico and are the spouse or minor child of a permanent U.S. resident (U.S. citizen or green card holder), you can expect to wait no fewer than six years. If, as a Mexican, you are the sibling of a U.S. citizen or green card holder, it is sixteen years.

This is from Stuart Anderson, “Family Immigration: The Long Wait to Immigrate,” National Foundation for American Policy Brief, (Arlington, VA: National Foundation for American Policy, May 2010), 1.

And if you are a thirty-year-old Mexican with a high school diploma and you have a sister who is already a U.S. citizen, the average length of time you must wait to become a noncitizen U.S. permanent resident — one of those green card holders — yourself is . . . 131 years.

This is from Philippe Le Grain, “Let Them In,” Forbes, June 10, 2010.

For a flow chart on what it takes to immigrate to the USA legally, see the one from Reason magazine over here.

How Laws Restricting Immigration Threaten Immigrants With Violence and Death
Most poor countries are poor exactly because their governments are kleptocracies. This means that the government usually refrains from protecting its citizens’ rights to life, liberty, and private property but, more often than not, violates them, and can actually violate them on the whim of the governments’ officials. People cannot count on building up productive businesses without all their wealth soon being confiscated, and that is why poverty is rampant. Only those who are well-connected with the government can operate any business securely at all. Under this system, with most people unable to count on the government for protection, many of them turn to gangs instead. For this reason, rates of starvation and murder are disproportionately high in comparison to what goes on in the First World. When someone in a kleptocracy that is south of the USA tries to migrate to the USA, it’s not a matter of someone greedily wishing to come to the USA to go on welfare; it’s a matter of someone trying to avoid dying from starvation and murder.

As Steven Sacco informs us,

One study found that between January 2014 and September 2015 eighty-three deportees who were sent back to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador were murdered after their return. They were people fleeing the killers who eventually took their lives. People like José Marvin Martínez, who fled violence in Honduras and made it to the U.S. when he was 16, but was deported and four months after his forcible return was shot to death. Or Juan Francisco Diaz, also deported back to Honduras, where he too was murdered a few months later. Or Giovanni Miranda, who, after spending most of his life in the U.S., was deported to El Salvador to be murdered in front of his wife and son in June 2015. Or Edgar Chocoy, 16, who ran away from a gang to the U.S. only to be murdered by that same gang seventeen days after he was deported back to Guatemala in 2004. Or an unnamed teenager who was shot to death hours after being deported back to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Moises, 19, was murdered after he was deported to El Salvador. And there are too many more names we’ll never know. 
What’s more, the number of deportees delivered directly to their killers does not include those who survive attempted murder or other violence because of their deportation — a number no one knows. Isais Sosa, who was 19 when the Los Angeles Times covered his story in 2014, survived being shot by a gang days after his deportation. The 19 year old daughter of Dora Lina Meza fled to the U.S. from the same gang that, after she was deported back home, raped her at gun point. After Juan Ines Alanis was deported he was kidnapped and held for ransom while his fingers were smashed with a hammer.

Many apologists for these coercive deportations claim to admire the well-known immigrant and political refugee Ayn Rand.  Note that if Ayn Rand had been deported back to the Soviet Union — and the legality of her immigration status was “iffy”  — she likely would have suffered the same fate as the aforementioned deportees.

Remember that national borders are enforced at gunpoint. From 2010 to 2016 — under the Obama administration that is falsely accused of being too lax toward undocumented immigrants — the Border Patrol shot dead Sergio Hernandez Guereca and thirty-two other aspiring immigrants. In 2014, the Obama administration fired James Tomsheck,its chief of internal affairs at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), claiming that it was because Tomsheck failed to investigate those deaths. Tomsheck informed NPR that the opposite was the case: that he was fired as punishment for his having investigated the first twenty-eight slayings in that duration and discovering that at least seven of them were under suspicious circumstances. On May 23, 2018, a 19-year-old Guatemalan named Claudia Patricia Gómez González was shot dead in Rio Bravo, Texas, by a border agent because she was in a crowd of undocumented border-crossers defending themselves against the agent with blunt objects (here and here).

Likewise, when someone is being deported, he is being supervised by federal agents who have guns at the ready. They point guns at the immigrant to coerce her to return to a place where there is a high murder rate. As far as I am concerned, those who condoned the repatriation of the aforementioned people to their nations of origin at gunpoint are, morally, accessories to what happened to the deportees upon return to their countries of origin.

When most people in a country are poor, very few of them can afford university educations. Therefore, except for the fashion models, H-1B visas are seldom an option for them. And the work visas for the unskilled are even less accessible. This means that if you are poor and unskilled, with no university education and no relatives in the USA, you don’t have many options available to you if you wish to migrate to the USA legally. And it’s not realistic for anyone to expect you to wait over five years for any sort of application to be approved; the threats of starvation and murder are immediate concerns. This is why so many poor people come to the USA without any visas. It is not an accident that {SPOILER ALERT} a virtuous character in We the Living tries to cross a national border illegally.

Well-Deserved Sympathy for the  “Third-World Migrants”
The deportations are anti-life for other reasons. As I wrote of it months after the incident, on September 12, 2015 — as the Syrian refugee crisis was beginning to make headlines — when I was reading Rebecca Stott’s book Darwin’s Ghosts, about thinkers who had laid the intellectual groundwork for the theory of natural selection. Near the beginning, Professor Stott points out that because so many Athenians feared Aristotle as some sleeper agent for their military enemies, Aristotle had to flee Athens as a “political refugee.” This struck me because, although I had previously read of Aristotle leaving Athens for this reason, it didn’t dawn on me that the term “political refugee” applied to Aristotle, and yet, upon reflection, it fit. Not thinking that it necessarily had any implications for the Syrian refugee controversy, I tweeted out that there was a point in Aristotle’s life when he was a political refugee.

Evidently finding the idea interesting himself, Prof. Glenn Harlan Reynolds, “The Instapundit,” retweeted me, himself adding, in words that can easily and understandably be interpreted as sarcastic, “Any Aristotles in this crowd?”

 I was then barraged by a number of belligerent tweets from generally right-wing people who presumed that my tweet was some thinly-veiled defense of the Syrian refugees. The belligerent tweets were along the lines of, But Aristotle was a civilized man; Syrians are unreconstructed savages, and there is not one scientist among the Syrian refugees, is there? As one anti-immigrationist put it to Professor Reynolds, “find one illegal like Aristotle.”

It had not occurred to me that my tweet could be misconstrued as me sticking up for them, but, after reading the bigoted derision of them that was directed toward me, it ironically became easier for me to sympathize with the Syrian refugees. Incidentally, there are scholars among the Syrian refugees. Rolling Stone magazine chronicles the travails of one of them, a former agricultural engineering major trying to finish his education. One Syrian refugee who did complete his education is Nedal Said, now a microbiologist at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research. Frankly, though, if there were zero scholars among them, the Syrian refugees would still be deserving of our sympathy. If a group of people are to be kept out of the USA on the basis that the USA is presently at war against their country, that is one matter. Even in that case, though, it would not be just to attempt to write off everyone from that country and of that ethnicity, with a broad brush, as inhuman. After all, there was a moment in history when the wartime enemies of the United States looked a lot like me.

Nedal Said’s story reminds me of another. Decades ago, an impoverished boy in Mexico named Alfredo illegally climbed over a fence to get into the USA. Consistent with the stereotypes, he started out as a migrant farm worker. He saved his money and sent himself to medical school. This was Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, and he is presently one of the world’s foremost brain surgeons. Prolific in the number of operations he has performed, he has saved the lives of native-born Americans. These are native-born Americans who might have died had it not been for Alfredo illegally entering our country years ago. Coercive deportations of nonviolent immigrants may not only result in the deaths of more immigrants, but also of more native-born Americans. Incidentally, Dr. Quinones-Hinojosa was the answer I gave to the anti-immigrationist who challenged me to “find one illegal like Aristotle.”

Many people who come to the USA without visas have committed no felony other than the ones directly concerning their having come to the USA without a visa.  For instance, Andres Magana Ortiz — who owned and ran successful coffee farms in Hawaii — is under threat of deportation when, aside from having arrived in the USA without a visa, his only brushes with the law involve two charges of having driven under the influence. Similar to this is the case of Joel Colindres, who faces deportation when his only instances of lawbreaking were (1) migrating from Guatemala to the USA without a visa and (2) missing a court date. And even before Donald Trump made his decision on DACA, the Savaria brothers — both Dreamers — were repatriated to El Salvadaor. Contrary to hysterical right-wing scare stories, you are statistically likelier to be killed by a native-born American than you are by an undocumented immigrant to the USA. Therefore, a legal system committed to freedom and justice — one that serves its original purpose of protecting the peaceful from the violent — would refrain from sending armed men to detain and deport peaceful persons whose acts of lawbreaking all pertained to the mere act of coming to the USA peacefully without a visa.

“The Law,” As This Rationalization for Rights Violation, Must Be Repealed
Yet I frequently come across anti-immigrationists on the political Right — Rush Limbaugh is one of them (I take him to task for it here and here) — who insist that simply coming to the USA without a visa is an act of evil that warrants condemnation and violent retribution on the part of the U.S. federal government. Apologists for that viewpoint shout, “Do you think people should be able to break the law with impunity? The Law is The Law and we gotsta follow The Law!” I remind such people that deportations are backed by armed force. Remember my reply to PolitiBunny at the start of this essay. When they transport Mexican immigrants back to Mexico, federal agents have their guns in case the immigrants to flee their custody and return to my private plot. Again, the anti-immigrationists merely chant that The Law is The Law and we gotsta follow The Law!

People who preach that someone coming to the USA long-term without a visa is sufficient grounds for sending armed men to detain and deport him are practicing their own symbolic ritual. They shout about the need to respect and enforce the law because this ritual of chanting about it has symbolic significance for them. They say that it is their way of reminding everyone of the importance of the law — that if people can flagrantly disregard the statutes, then all order and society breaks down. But that assertion is disingenuous; those who keep chanting about the need to crack down on illegal aliens are not primarily reminding other people about anything. Rather, these people partake in this symbolic ritual — the ritual of reciting their platitudes about the sacredness of federal law — to convince themselves that they passionately care about the law and everything the law represents.

And yet they don’t. The law is not the end but the means to a greater end that the law is to serve. That greater end is the principle that no peaceful person is to be subjected to the initiation of the use of force by any party, least of all by the federal government. In proclaiming their love for American law, many people are asking that American law violate the moral principle that American law was initially established to uphold. Those who demand a government crackdown on undocumented immigrants qua their lack of documentation, are those calling for violence against peaceful human beings for the proclaimed purpose of defending an institution whose only justification was to prevent violence against peaceful human beings. If you do not value the greater end that U.S. law was first established to serve, then you do not understand what U.S. law is about.  And by disrespecting the one valid purpose in establishing law, such people disrespect the very concept of law itself.

Having Been Deprived of the Go-To Rationalization of “The Law,” Many Fall Back on These Other Rationalizations... 
Of course, anti-immigrationism has its arsenal of rationalizations for this. Stefan Molyneux rationalizes that people from Africa and South America are just programmed to go on welfare, and, by collecting welfare, such immigrants are the ones initiating the use of force against native-born whites. This is just another instance of Molyneux’s ignorance and presumptuousness (a more polite way of referring to Molyneux’s prejudice).

When you say “welfare” in the United States, the first program that normally comes to mind is federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF, formerly Aid to Families with Dependent Children) and, since 1996, an immigrant needs to be a U.S. resident for five years before so much as applying for this.

Moreover, the biggest entitlement programs in the USA is, by far, are Medicare and Social Security. At $800 billion per year, they are the only programs that rival the U.S. military in annual cost. Because undocumented immigrants use fake Social Security numbers, the farms and other businesses employing undocumented immigrants take money out of their pay and put it into the Social Security system. Indeed, a report from 2013 finds “more than half of undocumented immigrants have federal and state income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes automatically deducted from their paychecks.” (If you object to how an impoverished immigrant fleeing the high murder rate of his country of origin is using a fake Social Security number to obtain employment, remove the legal barriers that drove him to this desperate resort in the first place.) And this is Social Security that the undocumented immigrants will not collect — the recipients of the undocumented immigrants’ money are retired native-born Americans and retired naturalized citizens, the native-borns greatly outnumbering the naturalized. It is therefore, on a net balance, the undocumented immigrants who are paying taxes to support welfare that goes to native-born Americans. (As for both legal and illegal immigrants, they make a net contribution of 85 billion U.S. dollars to government coffers each year.)

Among the recipients of taxpayer money, native-born citizens outnumber immigrants by far; it is therefore disingenuous to single out undocumented immigrants as being the major contributor to the rising costs of the welfare state. If collecting taxpayer money is an initiation of the use of force, then repelling it would mean cutting taxpayer funding for all private parties. To target immigrants, on the pretext that they are primarily what drive up government spending, is to prioritize one’s hostility toward immigrants over any lightening of the tax burden.

Nor is there a long-term threat of mass migrations causing overcrowding throughout the country; people underestimate the quantity of land available in the United States. If there were eight billion people on Earth and they all relocated to Texas, Texas’s population density (27,923 people per square mile) would be less than the present population density of the city of Paris, France (55,673 people per square mile). At present, no more than twelve percent of the land in England is developed for urban use and no more than nine percent of the land of the United Kingdom is.

To demand that an immigrant having arrived in the USA without a visa is sufficient grounds to send armed agents after her, out of a purported respect for American law and order, is therefore a symbolic ritual paid to American law and order that, in practice, desecrates the greater value that American law and order were designed to safeguard. It is a symbolic gesture that pretends to pay heed to American law and order as it sullies the basis of that American law and order. To do this, one must love the symbol of a particular value more than one loves the concrete existence of that very same value.

By supporting governmental initiations of the use of force against undocumented, nonviolent immigrants, these right-wingers have relinquished any rightful claim to the concept and value of “American law and the very basis of American law.” Yet, as they do this, they try to claim custody over the concept and value of “American law and the very basis of American law.” As Rush Limbaugh has done this in various tirades against undocumented immigrants, Rush himself is not innocent of the very charge he lays at the feet of left-wingers, of putting symbolism over substance.

When I point out that undocumented immigrants are fleeing starvation and murder and couldn’t wait over six years to “do it legally,” the anti-immigrationist sneer that what I have said is but a rationalization for lawbreaking. It is actually those who cite “The Law” — as if it is God — who are delivering a rationalization. Law deserves respect only insofar as it protects the peaceful, and these anti-immigrationists cite the prestige of The Law to justify sending armed men to manhandle peaceful people. It is the anti-immigrationists’ thumping of “The Law” that is the rationalization for unethical behavior.

Yes, the Dreamers are innocent and do not deserve to be deported at the point of the government’s guns.  But we must go further and acknowledge that the Dreamers’ parents did nothing wrong when they violated the corrupt statutes that have been obstructing such peaceful people from peaceably making a better life for their children. Not only were the  Dreamers’ parents not wrong, but they deserve to be commended. Had I been in the their situation, I would hope I would have the courage to do what the Dreamers’ parents did — peaceably take my children to greater freedom and safety, corrupt federal statutes to the contrary be damned.

On January 15, 2018, I added the quotation from Martin Luther King, Jr.; I added the point that more than half of undocumented immigrants have money withheld from their pay checks as taxes paying for Medicare and Social Security; and I added the point that both legal and illegal immigrants make a net contribution of $85 billion to U.S. government coffers annually. On February 21, 2018, I added the paragraph about the Border Patrol killing 33 immigrants from 2010 to 2016.  On May 25, 2018, I added the sentence about the 19-year-old would-be migrant woman being shot dead in Rio Bravo, Texas, by a border agent. On June 6, 2018, I added that her name was Claudia Patricia Gómez González. Consistent with the news reports on May 25, I misidentified her age as 20; on June 6 I changed that to 19. On November 15, 2018, I embedded my tweet about Aristotle being an immigrant and political refugee. That was the first time I ever embedded a tweet into any other page. On April 11, 2019, I deleted my criticism of the use of the singular “they”.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Immigrants Don't Depress Wages

Supply and Demand Explain This

Stuart K. Hayashi

I keep hearing the cliché, from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and alt-righters alike, that if a large number of new people enter the workforce -- often immigrants or people still in foreign countries but are hired by U.S. firms -- they will try to out-compete one another for jobs, either dragging down wages or causing massive unemployment. This cliché comes from T. Robert Malthus, Karl Marx, and a socialist named Ferdinand Lassalle (Lassalle coined night watchman state as a pejorative). I point out Jean-Baptiste Say -- the most pro-capitalism of all of the classical economists -- refuted this misconception with Say's Law of Markets. When I do this, anti-immigrationists call me a leftist. But someone who cites this Marxist cliché about "dragging down wages" has no business accusing anyone of leftism.

This is my 17-minute video explaining that.

This is my infographic about it: