Friday, June 30, 2006

The Worst We Have to Offer, and the Best

Illegal immigrants should celebrate the Fourth “by going home,” says Jared Taylor, editor of “American Renaissance,” a publication that argues against easing immigration laws.

—Wall Street Journal

David Dunn, 75, and his older brother were raised by their mother, a nurse, in a single-parent home in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. Because Mr. Dunn received crucial help on his educational journey, he felt like he wanted to help others as well…. He read about Brother Brian Carty…of the De La Salle Academy—a middle school kids for lower-income households… Brother Carty referred him to SSP.

Wall Streeter Peter Flanagan founded SSP [Student Sponsor Partners] in 1986 with the idea of providing a high-quality education…to kids who don’t qualify for the scholarships that target academic stars. Mr. Dunn’s latest commitment brings his total SSP pledges to more than $6 million. To date, Mr.Dunn has helped more than 100 kids graduate private high school by paying their tuitions and nearly all—about 96%—have gone on to collage.

—Wall Street Journal

I don’t know Jared Taylor—the “go home” immigrant basher quoted above (from a long and, ultimately, affirming article about immigrants in America, called “Torn on the Fourth of July”).

But I'd guess he's never waited on tables or painted houses or cut lawns or built stone walls for a living—because that is the work of many of the immigrants he’d like to send back to where they presumably belong.

And I’d bet he doesn’t own a restaurant—after all, as Chef Anthony Bourdain says (in his very funny, eye-opening book, “Kitchen Confidential”), a good chef should speak Spanish, because that’s the native language of most kitchens.

And I’d be surprised if Mr. Taylor has relatives who were born south of the border, as was my cousin’s wife.

Precisely what makes my cousin’s wife different than my grandfather’s wife—born in Sweden but not forced to “go home” by Mr. Taylor’s forebears—is hardly clear to me, except that one has brown skin, while my grandmother had white skin. (The hypocrisy of the anti-immigration mob is not a subtle thing.)

Now, as I said, I don’t know Mr. Taylor, who seems to me to be about the worst we have to offer.

But I don’t know David Dunn, either—yet, whereas Mr. Taylor wants to send the rabble home, Mr. Dunn, as described in a brief but powerful story in the same section of today’s Journal as “Torn on the Fourth of July,” has embraced the rabble by offering their underprivileged children a good education.

And Mr. Dunn did this, according to the Journal, with the help of Peter Flanagan.

Unlike Mr. Taylor or Mr. Dunn, I do know Peter Flanagan. Descended from immigrants, as we all in one way or another have been, Peter has given more of himself to the cause of helping inner city school children get a chance to learn—and, therefore, succeed—than any person I know.

Peter happens to be among the best we have to offer—and David Dunn ranks right up there with him. We're lucky their forebears decided to come to America.

And luckier still they were allowed to stay.

Jeff Matthews
I Am Not Making This Up

© 2006 Jeff Matthews

The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews' recommendations. This commentary in no way constitutes a solicitation of business or investment advice. It is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author.


hedged said...

"The hypocrisy of the anti-immigration mob is not a subtle thing."

"Hypocrisy" is not the right word to use here. I have found that most anti-immigration types I would say are quite open in their belief that Mexican culture is inferior to whatever it is they believe to be "native" American naturally an anti-immigration view is internally consistent with the rest of their belief structure.

DaleW said...

Our historic acceptance of immigrants is a cornerstone of this country's comparative advantage. As the world becomes more competitive in areas where geography, natural resources, and past attributes matter less and less, our open-door policy will rise in importance to maintaining a growing standard of living in this country. In addition, immigration is a vital component in maintaining some sort of health in the ratio of workers to retirees, which will also increase in importance.

Bamass said...

I'm saddened to read yet another example of a normally very thoughtful person falling into the current trend of either overlooking or outright scorning the "illegal" part of "illegal immigration".

Apparently what is considered the enlightened view in America in 2006 is that the throngs who passed through Ellis Island over the decades are no better than, have no more right to what this country has to offer, and in absolutely no way should be given any more consideration than those who sneak into this country across the desert in direct violation of our laws.

I miss the America where the law mattered.

RDS said...

1. Believing in borders and an orderly, lawful immigration process does not make a person a racist or xenophobe. Name calling does not add credibility to an argument.

2. Our public schools, prisons, and hospitals in the SW are not being overrun by immigrants from Sweeden, Asia, Europe, or Africa.

3. Let's recognize that all potential immigrants offer varying degrees of impact and value to US society. Different cultures assimulate differently.

4. I'm noticing that people on the high end of the economic sprectra and who are insulated from any requirement of social services tend to take the high road on the immigration debate while others who may need public schools, social security, etc see the 10% of mexico that resides in the US as theives.

5. I wasn't poor enough or smart enough to receive college assistance, but I did mow plenty of grass to pay my tuition. White kids mow grass too.

medford1 said...

ca·nard "canard" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (k-närd)

1. An unfounded or false, deliberately misleading story.

Straw man: A straw man argument is a logical fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. To "set up a straw man" or "set up a straw-man argument" is to create a position that is easy to refute, then attribute that position to the opponent. A straw-man argument can be a successful rhetorical technique (that is, it may succeed in persuading people) but it is in fact misleading, since the argument actually presented by the opponent has not been refuted.

Please, where are we supposed to begin if you support an orderly and legal immigration policy you are racist? While if you feel sorry for the poor brown kid who snuck across the border you are moraly superior? boring, disingenuous.

Your white therefore you won't stoop to washing dishes and mowing lawns. Yawn - you have to do better than that.

Why not tell us why all these employers should be able to exploit the illegals, paying them low wages under the table? Why not tell us why we shouldn't have control of who comes in and out of our country?

When the cheapshots, canards and strawman arguments stop we'll know you guys are ready to talk.

Tadahito Iguchi said...


The implication in your post that Mexican immigrants, many of whom are here in violation of our laws, do jobs that US citizens won't is facile at best. It ignores the economic reality that if hordes of illegal immigrants weren't here to bid down the prices offered for those positions, many US citizens would take the positions. Supply and demand, Jeff.

In addition, I would like to echo the sentiment that suggesting that we enforce our current immigration laws is not necessarily racist, and labelling it as such generally retards intellectual debate regarding a complex issue. Perhaps you are being a little emotional and less than rational about the issue because it hits close to home.



Jeff Matthews said...


Emotion has nothing to do with it...but supply and demand has everything to do with it.

Let's be honest: illegal immigrants meet a demand for cheap labor that most Americans don't want to perform.

So go ahead. Send them all home. Every one of 'em.

Who'll cut the grass at Mariner Sands? Who'll trim the palm trees at Great Heron Island? Who'll wash the wheels at the Splash Car Wash? Who'll cook the eggs-over-easy at the Plaza Diner? Who'll clean the toilets at the Barnes & Noble at 6 a.m.?

If the anti-illegals really believe there are hordes of good old fashioned third-generation Americans waiting for those jobs, then I suggest they send them all home and see what happens.

My bet is the CPI doesn't stop at 5%. My bet it goes to double-digits before we decide that maybe there's a reason for them being here in the first place.

ljr said...

nonsense, it is not about skin color. (There are lots of "white" Mexicans by the way.)

It's about culture and legality.

The US used to be a nation of shared values and culture. That culture was basically European in orientation. And folks with that cultural orientation, or wanting to adopt that orientation, were welcome. As were folks of wealth or education, the presumption being that educated folk would quickly accomodate to our culture.

The illegals are not typically adapting to our culture. They are neither wealthy nor well educated. They typically live in enclaves that repeat the peasant culture they left behind. They often do not bother to learn even rudimentary English.

So, they weaken the fabric of shared culture and values that used to define the US.

(By the way, my wife is Mexican.)

whydibuy said...

Jeff also leaves out, in his slanted piece, that in CA a large majority in state prisons are ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. I guess they also didn't want the low wage jobs. Jeff is apparently not concerned about those LEGAL IMMIGRANTS that waited years and went through the LEGAL channels to become a citizen. What a farce it is to those doing it legally to see that those who escaped the border guards are considered welcome here by Jeff types. As for helping our economy, many are paid under the table avoiding taxes even though they burden the public services such as hospital and police and prisons. And they damage businessmen trying to do it legally. A home improvement relative tells me that roofers here often have several workmen paid under the table and they carry workmens comp on only one person since the rest are offically not employed by him. And if you want to do it legally, you are sh*t out of luck since theres no way you can compete with fully taxed wages and full workmens comp.Jeff reveals himself to be what I call a long distance liberal. He loves ghetto people and ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS and the like for everyone else but when it comes to him, his family and his house, he chooses to live ( allocate his capital ) in a lily white area with no crime (probably gated community), his kids go to a lily white private school, and he wouldn't dare drive to work in an area populated with the kind he spouted about. Yeah, jeff. Move to a LA mex community, buy a house in its midst and send your kids to a school dominated by these minorities and see what happens to 'em. It might change your fairy tale view of the real thing. Long Distance Liberal.

johnlichtenstein said...

Jeff M, you might really be surprised by the number of people from Mexico or whose parents are from Mexico who are border hawks. Even people who came here illegally. It's not the majority oppinion but it's hardly unheard of. Pull up the ladder, I am all right.

Tadahito Iguchi said...


I'm glad you agree with me that one effect of this wave of illegal immigration is to bid down the price of jobs requiring unskilled labor. That's the implication of your bet, and gives the truth to the lie that illegals are taking jobs others don't want. Really, they're bidding down the price of such jobs.

Glad we cleared that up. Now, if you can refrain in the future from the knee-jerk reaction of labelling those in favor of enforcing our immigration laws racists, we'll be getting somewhere.



bubbles said...

I’ll throw in my two cents. First of all I’m pro-immigration, but against illegal immigration. As Bamass pointed out there is a difference.

Jeff is right about being careful what you wish for, because illegal immigrants do fill the need for cheap labor and if all the illegals were rounded up and shipped back to Mexico labor costs would rise dramatically to attract workers to fill these job vacancies and some businesses would simply fail.

I live in the southwest and as RDS points out illegal immigrants are over-running schools, prisons, and hospitals. Before moving to the southwest I ran my family’s farm in Michigan where we had apple orchards. We relied on migrant workers who were probably to be honest mostly here illegally though all their documents were very good. This is probably not a surprise to anyone, but picking apples is not an appealing job; its hard work and its seasonal. What was amazing is how these migrants knew the tricks to keep more money in their pockets, lying about the number of dependents and getting the most out of social services by timing their pregnancies so their child would be born in Michigan, so they would get free health care.

In my humble opinion most everyone has received some sort of benefit from these cheap laborers, but the upper middle to wealthy class as well as businesses that don’t require skilled labor have benefited the most.

I would love to see a study done on the net benefit of illegal immigration comparing the benefits of cheap labor keeping inflation low versus the cost that these illegal immigrants have on our social programs.

This is only a guess, but I believe in the long run the net cost is going to be greater than the benefit we receive from these illegal immigrants.

humaninvestor said...

I think Medford1 said it best. If someone lets themself into your house overnight are you supposed to be accomodating because they decided to make you breakfast or cut your lawn? They are an intruder who has no right to be in your house! How can we possibly be remotely safe in this country when the stream of illegals continues to flow? You can argue that borders or the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country are arbitrary. What makes all of the high and mighty so sure they are all here to work? None of them end up in jail? They are all good law abiding non-citizens? Really? How is the social security system supposed to support them when they aren't paying into the system. Oops, I forgot. They'll all become legal and having enough of a voting block 20 years from now to ensure they'll get social security. Good luck paying for that. This has ALWAYS been about the cheap labor. Funny how the unions haven't figured out that the bottom continues to stay low because we've insourced cheap labor. Jeff, maybe it's time you and your buddies higher LEGAL nannies and landscapers. Oddly enough, if you forego exploiting the illegals and pay a decent wage - legal citizens will show up to do the work. Try it. Pass the idea along to others supporting the underground.

gz said...

..... americans do not want to perform manual labor leaving to mexicans ....

americans who are not rich suffer from illegal immigrations and rich americans lecture them about their bigotry while they enjoy the lawn mowed, nanny and fancy restaurants run with cheap illegal labor

Jeff Matthews lives in a world where the labour market is tight with his cute little stories from friends even though income and employment statistics show the opposite

the average income of "legal" male americans under 35 has DECLINED by -19% in the last 25 years thanks to globalization but also 25 or 30 millions of illegal immigrants that virtually make impossible to "whites" (but also increasingly blacks) who are not educated to make a living

I suggest Jeff leaves once in a while the 90% white area from where he writes with moral superiority and visits Mexifornia, the areas of California where mexicans are the majority and for some reason look now a lot like Mexico in any aspect

I am Italian but lived in L.A. as a student and I do not think I can go back now where I was leaving then and not because I cannot learns Spanish

taylorfedrates said...

Who did the work 30 years ago?
Answer that question and you begin to see the problem- maybe we shouldn't be talking about illegal immigration in terms of social service costs (huge), BUT IN TERMS OF JOBS FOR OUR POOR.

The conundrum is that the illegal immigrants are for the most part hard working people who just want a better life- now the criminal networks that import them into the USA and *sell* them to employers are the problem. Been to Iowa lately and seen who is cutting the pork and beef?

Business is staining itself with a criminal Golden Age mentality versus the workers- exactly what drove the creation of the unions in this country and what will drive them again. Especially when this recession bites and the policital classes begin pandering to the lcd whose wages have been trashed by workers brought here specifically to lower the wages of the uneducated.

I can hardly wait to see how ugly this will all get. Hope none of your children will be competing with the next wave of even cheaper starving workers from the failed socialist paradise of Mexico and points further south.

Unknown said...

We are stupid, arguing about immigration and spending billions for ineffectual law enforcement/border patrol programs when we need and benefit from the immigrant labor force. Let's save that money and act like Americans by making more money. Eliminate the stupid border fence crap and set up employment agencies on the borders. If you need a job and live south of the border, apply with an employment agency. If there's a job and there will be, you are registered by Homeland Insecurity, finger printed, etc and matched with an employer. The hiring company pays a fee to the employment agency and everybody involved pays taxes. The hiring companies are tasked with keeping tabs on their new employees and again everyone involved pays taxes. What's the problem? Everybody is employed, registered and paying taxes and shopping at Wal-Mart. STOP wasting money on silly & lousy border security.