David Frum on Immigration Reform : A Comment by Almost Marx

‘Vast global changes—changes that have touched every developed country to a greater or lesser degree—have squeezed the incomes of those in the middle and have lengthened the odds that those born poor will escape poverty. In response, hard-pressed Americans now favor a thicker social insurance net. It’s not because they have fallen short of the rugged independence of their parents and grandparents. It’s because they face a harsher economic climate than their parents and grandparents did.’

Mr. Frum begins his long turgid moralizing on the Immigration Question with a caution on the use of robots, of ever advancing technology, as an indicator of the decline of employment opportunities for Americans, and those declining opportunities, exacerbated by unwise immigration reform, as reasons not pass an Immigration Bill. The quoted paragraph is just a small example of his failure to mention the very real collapse of the once ascendent practice of the Free Market: it’s rhetorical function is as self-exculpatory chatter, in defense of his anti-immigration argument. ‘The harsher economic climate’ equals a Capital failed in it’s ‘reformed instantiation’ after the Financial Reform of 1999, to provide the rosy predictions of it’s rationalizes, Mr. Frum being at the head of the parade!

But let us just consider the declining American birthrate and it’s relation to an increase in immigration. Mr. Frum has not read fellow Conservative Ross Douthat, on this very subject, although that birthrate decline might just be an argumentative inconvenience in the furtherance of Mr. Frum’s argument. Consider his status as propagandist with an ideological point to make rather than as a truth seeker. Mr. Douthat’s essay of December 1, 2012 essay titled ‘More Babies, Please’ marks a Conservative’s concern:

If, that is, our dynamism persists. But that’s no longer a sure thing. American fertility plunged with the stock market in 2008, and it hasn’t recovered. Last week, the Pew Research Center reported that U.S. birthrates hit the lowest rate ever recorded in 2011, with just 63 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age. (The rate was 71 per 1,000 in 1990.) For the first time in recent memory, Americans are having fewer babies than the French or British.

The plunge might be temporary. American fertility plummeted during the Great Depression, and more recent downturns have produced modest dips as well. This time, the birthrate has fallen fastest among foreign-born Americans, and particularly among Hispanics, who saw huge amounts of wealth evaporate with the housing bust. Many people may simply be postponing childbearing until better times return, and a few years of swift growth could produce a miniature baby boom.

Mr. Frum’s characterization of ‘vast global changes’ is really about the failure of Capital to even acknowledge it’s civic responsibility, whose status as ‘persons’ has been affirmed by the Citizens United decision: and citizens have very real civic obligations. Another component of Mr. Frum’s maladroit atttack on ‘Immigration Reform’, is that it is an invitation to the great unwashed from Mexico, strategically unmentioned except for this glancing reference to: “How to appeal to Hispanic voters.” Mr. Frum’s maintenance of his bourgeois political respectability is always a paramount concern. The Conservative Party Line is awash in Decline Hysteria, and as Mr. Frum argues it ‘Immigration Reform’ is the path to a more precipitous economic decline. While leaving the vexing question of the utter failure of Capital to fulfill it’s real civic responsibilities as a question not worth consideration.

A quote from the Pew report:

The overall U.S. birth rate, which is the annual number of births per 1,000 women in the prime childbearing ages of 15 to 44, declined 8% from 2007 to 2010. The birth rate for U.S.-born women decreased 6% during these years, but the birth rate for foreign-born women plunged 14%—more than it had declined over the entire 1990-2007 period.1 The birth rate for Mexican immigrant women fell even more, by 23%.

inal 2011 data are not available, but according to preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the overall birth rate in 2011 was 63.2 per 1,000 women of childbearing age. That rate is the lowest since at least 1920, the earliest year for which there are reliable numbers.2 The overall U.S. birth rate peaked most recently in the Baby Boom years, reaching 122.7 in 1957, nearly double today’s rate. The birth rate sagged through the mid-1970s but stabilized at 65-70 births per 1,000 women for most years after that before falling again after 2007, the beginning of the Great Recession.

The very women who remain the unmentioned potential threat to American continuing prosperity in this age of  ‘harsher economic climate’ by Mr. Frum, Mexican immigrant women’s birthrate fell by 23%.  A question occurs: If America’s birthrate is in decline, immigration seems the most natural remedy to fill that gap. But, again, Mr. Frum leaves out what is rhetorically inconvenient to his argument. The road to citizenship for immigrants is the American Story! And Capital should do it’s civic duty and supply jobs and careers that all citizens can build a life upon, to put it in it’s simplistic terms.

Almost Marx

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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