Reihan Salam’s Melting Pot or Civil War?

 

Executive Editor of National Review Reihan Salam’s new book Melting Pot or Civil War?: A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders may be the most important political book you can read in this or any electoral cycle.

The title itself may be surprising to some, given that Reihan is, after all, the son of first-generation Bengali immigrants. But Reihan’s clear-eyed and first-hand view of the subject matter couldn’t be more timely or trenchant. This is especially true in an era when a cultural rift over the questions of immigration and trade threaten to split the Conservative coalition asunder. The policy prescriptions contained herein offer the opportunity to unite the center-right coalition and secure the nation’s future for a generation.

What then are Reihan’s objections and what are his proposals? In brief, Salam makes note of the statistical reality that not all immigrants are created equal. Much like everybody else in our nation and indeed, on our planet, there is a distribution of talent, aptitude, and drive among immigrants as well, and that we as a nation have both the right and responsibility to select those whom we would invite to come here. He notes that we would be better off selecting those immigrants whose impact upon our society is nearly guaranteed to have a net positive impact, rather than the ad hoc approach we’ve allowed to persist for years.

The negative influences which excessive levels of immigration have upon the political economy range from cultural balkanization to increased reliance upon cheap labor, which has the paradoxical effect of limiting technological innovation in labor-intensive industries. The results of these influences are downward pressure on wages for native populations, the rise of populist movements and parallel increases in resentment from immigrants and their children, who find it hard to assimilate when their economic and political fortunes remain inextricably tied to cultural forces which now freely emanate from beyond the confines of our nation by free and instantaneous communication with their native countries.

Reihan’s proposals in order to remedy this are manyfold. For starters, he proposes a complete modernization and implementation of the E-verify system, which will have the effect of preventing illegal immigrants from getting employment. This will effectively deactivate the employment “magnet” which keeps the conveyor belt of unskilled immigrants from replenishing existing enclaves of new immigrants, and encourage existing illegal immigrants to either go home or to enter the legal immigration system.

Next, he proposes the implementation of a strict, points-based system for accepting immigrants, a la Canada, which means doing away with the cacophony of other forms of legal immigration — primarily so-called “chain migration” via family reunification, which serves no positive economic purpose.

Reihan is also opposed to the notion of birthright citizenship, pointing out that most Anglosphere nations have done away with that notion as a means of disincentivizing birth tourism.

The hardest part of Salam’s proposals is a large legalization (an amnesty) primarily for those who were brought to this nation through no fault of their own as children — this he offers as a tradeoff in order to achieve these other, laudable policy goals in order to attract pro-immigration advocates.

Melting Pot is also a book that is jammed with indispensable facts for immigration reformers, one of which I will boil down here:

NAS (the National Academy of Sciences) found vastly different net present value flows for immigrant groups depending on educational attainment. The average immigrant with less than a high school degree can be expected to cost $115,000 over a seventy-five-year period. That immigrant’s descendants, if they also have less than a high school diploma will cost $70,000. Meanwhile, the net contribution of an immigrant with a bachelor’s degree is $210,000, with descendants making net contributions of $42,000, assuming they also have bachelor’s degrees. (pp 55)

There is no “free lunch” when it comes to immigration — especially when you consider how much more likely it is that a poor and ill-educated immigrant will pass on their cultural memes to their children:

The NAS Study projects that of the children of foreign-born parents with less than a high school education, only 6.2% will graduate from college. Low incomes in one generation risk extending to the next.

This fact is pointed out not out of malice or in order to hold poor Americans up as being especially virtuous by comparison, but to point out that there is no sense in doubling down on policies which are guaranteed to be net financial losers for the nation’s future.

Herein lies the threat inherent to the ominous second half of Salam’s title: Civil War? The reality of the situation we find ourselves in is this: America has a rapidly aging population and a severe imbalance between future promised outlays through entitlement programs and potential revenue sources. Immigration is a legitimate means of both boosting our flagging fertility rate and adding to the net productivity of the nation.

Of course, smart people understand that won’t be enough — particularly if we try to “lose money on the unit price and make it up in volume” — which is precisely the method that open-borders, unfettered-immigration advocates are currently proposing. A combination of sensible entitlement reforms and restrictions upon low-skilled immigration could at least forestall the day of reckoning, but as we here at Ricochet are all painfully aware, Americans are unlikely to do the “right thing” until a crisis presents itself … by which time it could be too late.

If current trends towards cultural balkanization, fiscal profligacy, and increasingly bitter partisanship continue apace, an actual civil war is not a completely unthinkable outcome. Much damage has been done to the fabric of our nation in the past 12 years — our very sense of what it means to be an American has been challenged and it seems as if the things which separate us are deeper than those which unite us. But implementing the proposals which Reihan has so skillfully laid out would at least have the potential to relieve the growing pressure upon the fault lines in our national discourse by returning us to a semblance of that cultural melting pot which has been the hallmark of American society for well over a century.

Melting Pot or Civil War? is also a brief and engaging read, clocking in at a tidy 183 pages of Kindle Text.

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There are 13 comments.

  1. Basil Fawlty Member

    Mark Steyn is laughing.

    • #1
    • October 8, 2018, at 4:14 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. Guruforhire Member

    I don’t think we can actually give the DACA folks amnesty. Not because its necessarily inherantly wrong, but because it is too belligerently demanded by people who have no legitimate right to make demands. You don’t make donations to muggers.

    I think I would have an entirely different perspective if the issue had been approached differently by the people looking for charity and benevolence.

    • #2
    • October 8, 2018, at 4:17 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  3. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor
    Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Post author

    Guruforhire (View Comment):
    I think I would have an entirely different perspective if the issue had been approached differently by the people looking for charity and benevolence.

    I view it as being a cost worth paying to get these other reforms.

    Also, there’s the notion that you can give legal status without granting citizenship rights. That is what the advocates want… Or so we’ve been led to believe.

    • #3
    • October 8, 2018, at 4:30 PM PDT
    • Like
  4. Guruforhire Member

    Shawn Buell (Majestyk) (View Comment):

    Guruforhire (View Comment):
    I think I would have an entirely different perspective if the issue had been approached differently by the people looking for charity and benevolence.

    I view it as being a cost worth paying to get these other reforms.

    Also, there’s the notion that you can give legal status without granting citizenship rights. That is what the advocates want… Or so we’ve been led to believe.

    Maybe, but I am skeptical that we won’t pay more somewhere else from it.

    • #4
    • October 8, 2018, at 4:35 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  5. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Reihan’s proposals are largely in accord with the results of the detailed Harvard Harris poll on this topic done at the beginning of 2018. According to the poll there were large majorities of white, blacks, and Hispanics in favor of the following policies:

    1.  Path to citizenship for the Dreamers.
    2.  Strengthening e-verify.
    3.  Ending visa lottery and chain migration and moving to Canada type system.
    4. Capping legal immigration at somewhere between 500K and 1 million annually (current average is about 1 million).
    • #5
    • October 8, 2018, at 5:16 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  6. dnewlander Member

    Gumby Mark (View Comment):

    Reihan’s proposals are largely in accord with the results of the detailed Harvard Harris poll on this topic done at the beginning of 2018. According to the poll there were large majorities of white, blacks, and Hispanics in favor of the following policies:

    1. Path to citizenship for the Dreamers.
    2. Strengthening e-verify.
    3. Ending visa lottery and chain migration and moving to Canada type system.
    4. Capping legal immigration at somewhere between 500K and 1 million annually (current average is about 1 million).

    Yeah, everybody says that’s what they want, until they vote. Then they vote for the same squishes who got us into this mess. We have to get rid of the squishes who don’t represent us first, because afterwards it’ll be too late. And if we can’t get rid of them, we have to limit the damage they can do, legally.

    If there was ever a President who was ready to actually do it, it’s Trump.

    • #6
    • October 8, 2018, at 11:09 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  7. Judge Mental Member

    Shawn Buell (Majestyk) (View Comment):

    Guruforhire (View Comment):
    I think I would have an entirely different perspective if the issue had been approached differently by the people looking for charity and benevolence.

    I view it as being a cost worth paying to get these other reforms.

    Also, there’s the notion that you can give legal status without granting citizenship rights. That is what the advocates want… Or so we’ve been led to believe.

    Sucker play. Five minutes later they’ll demand full citizenship and voting rights. Unless of course, you’re a racist who wants them to be second class citizens.

    • #7
    • October 8, 2018, at 11:37 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. RufusRJones Member

    Government actuarial systems that don’t have forced actuarial stabilizers are national suicide. Show me one that isn’t.

    They invent The Pill in 1960. LBJ creates the Ponzi scheme called Medicare in 1965. Birth rates start dropping in 1970. In 1973, both parties recognize that Medicare is a fiscal disaster; I think ultimately the actuarial’s were off by 100X (The CBO was invented because of this. It never would’ve passed CBO scrutiny.)

    The deficit in state pension plans used to $4 trillion. I just saw the other day that it’s now 5 trillion.

    So now we have to “manage” this.

    I don’t think my grandfather paid one penny of FICA for Medicare but he was on it for about 21 years. Since interest rates zoomed up during that time, my dad had to have inherited way more money then he would have after he passed. Now the left thinks they have to take that wealth back, because we are running out of money. (So many new things they dream up now just amount to asset seizure, instead of taxing income.)

    I don’t remember all the details, but they told a bunch of lies around Social Security Security that turned that into a big mess, to0.

    Plus, we have accumulated so much debt now, that the interest line item is the highest it’s ever been even though interest rates are the lowest they’ve ever been.

    Fun times.

    Government Is How We Steal From Each Other™

    • #8
    • October 9, 2018, at 12:33 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. dnewlander Member

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Government actuarial systems that don’t have forced actuarial stabilizers are national suicide. Show me one that isn’t.

    They invent The Pill in 1960. LBJ creates the Ponzi scheme called Medicare in 1965. Birth rates start dropping in 1970. In 1973, both parties recognize that Medicare is a fiscal disaster; I think ultimately the actuarial’s were off by 100X (The CBO was invented because of this. It never would’ve passed CBO scrutiny.)

    The deficit in state pension plans used to $4 trillion. I just saw the other day that it’s now 5 trillion.

    So now we have to “manage” this.

    I don’t think my grandfather paid one penny of FICA for Medicare but he was on it for about 21 years. Since interest rates zoomed up during that time, my dad had to have inherited way more money then he would have after he passed. Now the left thinks they have to take that wealth back, because we are running out of money. (So many new things they dream up now just amount to asset seizure, instead of taxing income.)

    I don’t remember all the details, but they told a bunch of lies around Social Security Security that turned that into a big mess, to0.

    Plus, we have accumulated so much debt now, that the interest line item is the highest it’s ever been even though interest rates are the lowest they’ve ever been.

    Fun times.

    Government Is How We Steal From Each Other™

    I can’t like this enough.

    • #9
    • October 9, 2018, at 12:39 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. Joseph Eagar Member

    This is why I keep saying the U.S. must eject the Northeastern states. NE WASP culture has been in the minority for nearly all of America’s history. When they win elections, they do so by compromising what are, to them, core principles of their cultural identity, and if they don’t, they lose.

    If faced with Salam’s choice they really might prefer a civil war. Let’s not forget that these are the people who used immigration policies to start a race war over economic resources within the lower class population. They have done things that most countries do not survive having done to them. In my opinion, the only explanation is that the NE elite deeply hates America, even if they would never admit it, and are willing to take huge risks to purge the country of the things and the people they can’t stand.

    • #10
    • October 9, 2018, at 1:45 AM PDT
    • Like
  11. JudithannCampbell Coolidge

    Joseph Eagar (View Comment):

    This is why I keep saying the U.S. must eject the Northeastern states. NE WASP culture has been in the minority for nearly all of America’s history. When they win elections, they do so by compromising what are, to them, core principles of their cultural identity, and if they don’t, they lose.

    If faced with Salam’s choice they really might prefer a civil war. Let’s not forget that these are the people who used immigration policies to start a race war over economic resources within the lower class population. They have done things that most countries do not survive having done to them. In my opinion, the only explanation is that the NE elite deeply hates America, even if they would never admit it, and are willing to take huge risks to purge the country of the things and the people they can’t stand.

    @josepheager. Sigh. I live in the Northeast. Elite WASPS make up a tiny percentage of the population, and while they are usually wealthy, there are not enough of them to control anything-not nearly enough of them. If you want to blame someone for the Northeast, the people to blame are Catholics and Jews, mostly Catholics. I am Catholic; having lived in Massachusetts most of my life, I assure you, elite WASPS didn’t give us Ted Kennedy. You can thank the Irish for that. I am Irish, and will be the first to acknowledge that Irish Catholics in Massachusetts have much to answer for; the least I can do is make sure that elite WASPS are not blamed for our sins.

    But really, why do you always make everything about ethnicity? The men who founded this country were elite WASPS. You know that, right? :)

    • #11
    • October 9, 2018, at 2:46 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  12. I Walton Member

    Sounds like the same things many of us have been saying for years. It’s all good except amnesty. Just add some points to them and let them compete but without having to return to their parents country of origin. We don’t need this fight. If we cave on this Democrats will shift their guns to something else. Hold it out. Any one among them who has been on welfare or is a felon is out. Most will compete well with non resident visa applicants. They will already speak English, will have a job and school history. Just get the basics right and it will take care of the kids as well. If they don’t have these things they’re Obama dreamers and can home as well. 

    Agree, an enforced “e verify” is essential to fix anything and is the key to everything. It stops welfare and illegal work and forces illegal aliens into the line.

    This isn’t rocket science. Like so much, just speak the truth without fear then fix the things liberals have broken over the years.

    • #12
    • October 9, 2018, at 3:56 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. Joseph Eagar Member

    JudithannCampbell (View Comment):

    Joseph Eagar (View Comment):

    This is why I keep saying the U.S. must eject the Northeastern states. NE WASP culture has been in the minority for nearly all of America’s history. When they win elections, they do so by compromising what are, to them, core principles of their cultural identity, and if they don’t, they lose.

    If faced with Salam’s choice they really might prefer a civil war. Let’s not forget that these are the people who used immigration policies to start a race war over economic resources within the lower class population. They have done things that most countries do not survive having done to them. In my opinion, the only explanation is that the NE elite deeply hates America, even if they would never admit it, and are willing to take huge risks to purge the country of the things and the people they can’t stand.

    @josepheager. Sigh. I live in the Northeast. Elite WASPS make up a tiny percentage of the population, and while they are usually wealthy, there are not enough of them to control anything-not nearly enough of them. If you want to blame someone for the Northeast, the people to blame are Catholics and Jews, mostly Catholics. I am Catholic; having lived in Massachusetts most of my life, I assure you, elite WASPS didn’t give us Ted Kennedy. You can thank the Irish for that. I am Irish, and will be the first to acknowledge that Irish Catholics in Massachusetts have much to answer for; the least I can do is make sure that elite WASPS are not blamed for our sins.

    We definitely need a term for “elite white people from the Northeast.” The Continental Europeans just lump all of us into “Anglo-Saxon,” which I guess is why I went with WASP. A somewhat liberal but socially stratified culture, whose defining feature is lying–both to others and, most especially, to themselves–and who value the self as either the first or the second most important value (depending on how religious they are they still might place God at #1). That’s what I’ve seen of that culture.

    But really, why do you always make everything about ethnicity? The men who founded this country were elite WASPS. You know that, right? :)

    The Founders were also much better educated, as Alex de Toqueville’s reports of elite culture in Democracy in America show.

     

    • #13
    • October 9, 2018, at 11:05 AM PDT
    • Like