Saturday, March 11, 2006

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A new twist on Fight Club

The first rule of watching Fight Club -- try not to think about the plot holes in Fight Club.

Naturally, I violated this rule the first and only time I watched it. The thing that kept running through my head was, "Gee, all of the people who supposedly hold these degrading jobs seem to be Anglos. I'm pretty sure in the real world a large fraction of these jobs would be taken by immigrants."

I raise this because of the front page of the Chicago Tribune this morning:

In a show of strength that surprised even organizers, tens of thousand of immigrants poured into the Loop Friday, bringing their calls for immigration reform to the heart of the city's economic and political power.

What started as a word-of-mouth campaign, then spread through the foreign language media, grabbed the attention of the entire city by midday, as a throng 2 miles long marched from Union Park on the Near West Side to Federal Plaza.

Police estimated the crowd as large as 100,000, making it one of the biggest pro-immigrant rallies in U.S. history, according to national advocates.

Observers said the turnout could galvanize both sides in the immigration debate, launching a grass-roots pro-immigrant movement while provoking a backlash among those who want stricter controls.

The trigger for the rally was a controversial federal bill that would crack down on those who employ or help illegal immigrants. But the broader message--carried mostly by Mexicans, but also by a smattering of Poles, Irish and Chinese--was that immigrants are too integral and large a part of Chicago to be ignored.

This was the part that reinded me of Fight Club:
As they transformed the Loop with their presence, immigrants made a powerful statement elsewhere by their absence.

Without his immigrant employees, a Northwest Side body shop owner gave up and closed for the day. An Italian restaurant in Downers Grove relied on temps to cook and managers to bus tables. High school students walked out en masse....

Whole shifts of workers left their jobs to underscore the importance of immigrant workers. One server from an Italian restaurant came in his work tie and apron, draped with a U.S. flag. Construction workers, still wearing hardhats, came straight from their job sites. Clerks from the El Guero market in Aurora piled into the store's delivery van, riding on produce boxes.

Alex Garcia and about 10 co-workers from a Joliet commercial sign company rode a Metra train to Chicago's Union Station, walked out to Union Park, and then retraced their steps as they marched back to the Loop.

"Most people don't realize how much work we do, but it's part of their daily lives," he said. "We are putting up all the buildings and cooking all the food. Today, they'll understand."

With Congress already set to enhance its ability to block foreign direct investment, I, for one, look forward to a reasoned, rational debate on immigration policy.

posted by Dan on 03.11.06 at 09:33 AM


If you can get a copy of it from somebody, make sure to watch MadTVs "Fight Like a Girl Club".

posted by: J on 03.11.06 at 09:33 AM [permalink]

You should check out today's NYT oped--by Robert Sampson who argues that immigration reduces crime. Not entirely clear why immigrants, controlling for income and the usual stuff, are less inclined to engage in crime, but the stat is interesting.

And, of course, the US has less of a problem with declining birthrates than our European friends due to immigration.

posted by: Steve Saideman on 03.11.06 at 09:33 AM [permalink]

There's quite a bit more to this story than described above.

For instance, what role did the Mexican government play? Some of the supporters were Mexican "hometown clubs". Do any of those have direct links to the Mexican government?

Would anyone care if the Mexican government helped this march take place? Or, don't things like foreign meddling in our internal politics matter anymore?

Another supporter was the International Socialist Organization of UI Chicago.

Another was the powerful illegal immigration-supporting group ICIRR. They were appointed by Blago to an "immigrant's rights" panel.

And, they also appear to have perpetrated a smear against Jim Oberweis, a challenger to Blago.

I question Gutierrez's loyalty to this country, and I also find it distressing that the power structure in Chicago and Illinois is able to flaunt their un-Americanism.

posted by: BannedByRedState on 03.11.06 at 09:33 AM [permalink]

Without his immigrant employees, a Northwest Side body shop owner gave up and closed for the day.

One body shop? If this is the best a notoriously pro-immigration MSM can do?

An Italian restaurant in Downers Grove relied on temps to cook and managers to bus tables.

I.e. there was somebody willing to fill in for these guys. BTW my brother , 6'1'' blond blue anglo used to bus tables at a Mexican restaurant in the 70's. I myself worked construction in the 80's, when a guy with a high school education who was good with his hands could make a decent wage in California. All anglos (back then just a few Mexican roofers and some old school Mexican Americans)

High school students walked out en masse

These are workers? This will affect the economy? --in any way but saving Illinois taxpayers the per diem enrollment costs.

We cook all the food

Back when I was living in San Diego, I sat next to a guy in chef's pants on the bus. I told him I worked as a prep guy during college. He got to talking about how the 'Mexican's are killing us', driving down wages. Anecdote? Yup, just like these vignettes from the story.

We cook all the food (part the second)

In California there is a very very good burger chain called In'N'Out. It is privately owned (by an evangelical Christian family). It is interesting to compare their workforce with, say, McD's -- in many places you can do this quite literally by walking a half a block. In-N-Outs workforce 'Looks like America' (to coin a phrase). In San Diego there are always a lot of early twenties females with mid-west twangs working the grill and the till, I suspect the wives of Sailors stationed there. In Thousand Oaks (north of LA) it is mostly American, english speaking teens and early twenties, all ethnic backgrounds. In central california, you see a lot of anglos working there. The point, of course, is that the workers are there. In N Out pays a decent wage, from what I understand about --- wait, its on the web, $9.00 an hour starting! Is the food insanely expensive? Well, last time was there I think a double burger meal was $5.25 . In other word, you can put out a very quality product, using American workers, for about as much as the places using illegals. The really great thing is that this place is packed day and night!

But Drezner's remarks are interesting. He probably doesn't know anybody personally that does these sort of jobs, hasn't really spent much time around the native born working class, and so can possibly believe that the native born would do them. This was one of the main points of the Bell Curve by the way, that the American cognitive elite was becoming segregated from the rest of the society.

Drezner's there. Able to get lunch? Get to work? Any emergency bodywork that you couldn't get done?

But let's start with some rationality, so cold, hard numbers

The Pew Hispanic Trust put out a report dated 7 March 2006. In it they estimate that there are at least 11.5 illegal immigrants or as they say 'unathorized migrants' in the US.

They also estimate there are 7.2 million 'unathorized workers'

I.e. there is a population of 4.3 million or 37% that are not 'workers' at all. They are just a drag on US society. Even if you take out the 1.8 illegal alien children (not those born here, but those illegally here) you get 2.5 million people here illegally that are not working. Almost 22%. Now that is a low rate of non-participation compared to the general population (about 50% I reckon), but these people are supposed to be here to work, right. Plus many retire back in Mexico.

But at least 2.5 million of these adults *are not working*.

Now, I could go on and on and on about the negative externalities of immigration, but I won't. The info is out there.

Sorry for the long post, but I really hate to see the lack of thoughtfulnes in simply reproducing the reported speech of obviously self-interested people in a newpaper article, especially when MSM coverage of this issue is no absolutely biased, and which our gracious hosted made more biased by not including the quotes from the immigration-reduction side.

posted by: Mitchell Young on 03.11.06 at 09:33 AM [permalink]

Interesting, the reporter talks about American flags, and there are plenty. Somehow the Mexican flags were left out of the report. Michell Malkin has some photos -- of course her sample might be as unbiased as the quotes in the article.

Looking at a lot of the photos, though, you don't see too many construction guys in hardhats. Looks more like the crowd at your local community college.

posted by: Mitchell Young on 03.11.06 at 09:33 AM [permalink]

Just one more...

You know, of course, that in Mexico all these people would be deported for interference in the countries internal affairs (which immigration policy most definitely is). A couple years back, some Americans participated in a pro-Zapatista march, and were instantly deported back to the us.

Okay...I'm done.

posted by: Mitchell Young on 03.11.06 at 09:33 AM [permalink]

"Gee, all of the people who supposedly hold these degrading jobs seem to be Anglos. I'm pretty sure in the real world a large fraction of these jobs would be taken by immigrants."

All of the people in fight club who hold degrading jobs are not "Anglos". Maybe you should try watching more closely. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by this coming from a guy who thought Catherine Keener and Maria Bello should have won Oscars.

posted by: izzard on 03.11.06 at 09:33 AM [permalink]

You know, it's just a matter of supply and demand. Mexican laborers are lowering the wages for American laborers. Why should we thank them for that? I'd like to see a flood of foreign managers to lower executive salary.

posted by: Sara on 03.11.06 at 09:33 AM [permalink]

Quoting from the article: "Without his immigrant employees, a Northwest Side body shop owner gave up and closed for the day."

That's an attempt to corrupt you. Sure, they're here illegally, working illegally, using illegal documentation, and all the rest. But, they keep business humming! The MSM and politicians are willing to support corruption, but that doesn't mean their constituents should.

Regarding the non-working family members of illegal aliens, they do serve a purpose: welfare anchors and voting.

An Asian-American former member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission *admitted* that one of the reasons for family reunification was to increase the size of the voting bloc and gain political power. And, since most of the elderly non-working family members who come here will never learn English, they're easily controlled by the ethnic media.

"I'd like to see a flood of foreign managers to lower executive salary."

Bush's guest worker scheme - as revealed by his assistant - was to include nurses, schoolteachers, just about everybody. In other words, it was designed to drag down wages for even previously higher-wage workers.

While millions of people have been fooled, Bush doesn't represent even as much as 1% of America.

posted by: TLB on 03.11.06 at 09:33 AM [permalink]

We need to eliminate tenure and insource thousands of Indian and Chinese professors, they are generally excellent, work hard, and we could cut the outrageous cost of college.

posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 03.11.06 at 09:33 AM [permalink]

I find it sooo ironic when the Mexican elites brow beat the US over immigrant rights. Mexico is truly a great oligarchy that really abuses central american immigrants. "Illegals in the US are held briefly with out charge...shame on the gringos." In Mexico at any given time 30% of ALL inmates are being held with out charge.

posted by: centrist on 03.11.06 at 09:33 AM [permalink]

Just like to correctg ...the story says the highschool students who walked out waited until attendence was taken. In other words, the Illinois tax payers are going to have to pay for a day they were off wandering the streets. Classic, just classic.

posted by: Mitchell Young on 03.11.06 at 09:33 AM [permalink]

Good luck having a "rational" immigration debate Dan. If the Senate does anything like the House of Reps passed in December this debate is going to be ugly. Right now the Senate is suppossed to bring a bill to the floor on March 27 but it would basically give the 12 million illegals or unauthorized immigrants second class citizenship and tie them to their employer for the rest of their lives (if they are out of work for 45 days they would have to go home). The conservatives are dissapointing me on this debate. So much for compassionate conservatism. As the baby boomers retire it's hard to believe we're not going to need more workers...

posted by: KK on 03.11.06 at 09:33 AM [permalink]

As the baby boomers retire it's hard to believe we're not going to need more workers.

Japan has a much worse 'problem' with demographics, and yet they let in virtually no one. How, they substitute capital for labor. That is why Japan is light years ahead in consumer robot technology.

And KK, a good percentage of the 12 million would self-deport if jobs here dried up because of employer sanctions. In fact, this has been a pattern in the past, like after 9/11 when people got serious about immigration enforcement for all of a week. (Actually, the illegals thought the US would get series, some many 'preemptively' went back to Mexico , etc.)

posted by: Mitchell Young on 03.11.06 at 09:33 AM [permalink]

If I understand correctly the rants of Mitchell Young above, he is mostly arguing that an excess of low-wage workers is artificially lowering wages. There may be a grain of truth to that - but isn't it generally accepted that when one person is added to the workforce (whether immigrant, illegal, or newly graduated), production and consumption increase proportionally? In other words, while that new person may take a job, he creates others through his consumption.

Illegals must live somewhere. They must use some means of transportation. They must eat. I assume they do something for entertainment. So is it not true that they create jobs? And if we assume that the unfettered invisible hand is hard at work, isn't it reasonable to assume they create jobs roughly in proportion to the jobs they take?

So, what's the problem? The only issue seems to be their illegality, and the set of problems that causes. If that's the case then the solution is simple: Increase the quotas for legal immigration, and provide a process whereby current illegals can change their status. Voila!

posted by: LaurenceB on 03.11.06 at 09:33 AM [permalink]


This sounds logical, and to some extent is correct, that immigrants create extra demand, and thus provide some extra jobs. It is, in fact, an excellent example of the 'Club for Growth' type reasoning one finds in libertarian pro-immigration circles. You could, of course, plop the entire population of Bangladesh here and create more demand locally, but would that be a good idea?

By the same token, they lower wages, and so take away demand that would have come from the native-born workers making higher wages. So in that sense immigration is mostly a wash. At least that is my reading of empirical studies.

The economics has been studied and studied (the expert is Jorge Borjas). A result from a few years back is that immigration produces very very modest 1-10 billion addition to natives in US per year (that is all immigratin) . That is , out of a 4 trillion dollar economy. I.e about .01 percent to .1 percent of the total economy, natives gain something like a quart percent increase in income from immigration. This is from a National Academy of Sciences report in the late 1990s. Looked at another way, a household is gaining, on average $80 per year per native family.

Of course, those benefits mostly accrue to those who use illegals extensively, who tend to be higher income. In other words it generates real income inequality, as anyone who has been to California lately can see. (My favorite is example of this is that we are generating third world type housing patterns, with the upper middle class and higher enclosed in 'gate guarded communities' while the working and poor crowd 2-3 families in a single family unit.)

These calculations totally ignore externalities that are very real. From crowded schools, clogged freeways, to the total demographic transformation of neighborhoods, to -- as S Huntinton has pointed out--a loss of national identity. These costs are not accounted for because it very difficult to do so. But they are real.

That is why there is strong opposition to illegal immigration on the public's part, and even strong sentiment for reducing legal immigration. Despite very biased news coverage, no major political leadership of the issue, Americans know that mass immigration is changing their country for very little benefit to themselves. This is typically labeled 'xenophobia' by the MSM, but it is perfectly rational.

posted by: Mitchell Young on 03.11.06 at 09:33 AM [permalink]

Wow, I'm gonna have to start proofreading comments...

posted by: Mitchell Young on 03.11.06 at 09:33 AM [permalink]

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