Blog Articles 121–125

Immigration is the Easy Problem

Over here in the department of punditry, we deal with a lot of hard issues, ones on which the evidence is mixed and the options are all bad. But the immigration issue is a blessed relief. On immigration, the evidence is overwhelming; the best way forward is clear.

The forlorn pundit doesn’t even have to make the humanitarian case that immigration reform would be a great victory for human dignity. The cold economic case by itself is so strong.

The Easy Problem — David Brooks on the urgent, and blindingly obvious, need for immigration reform.

Considering Others' Interests

But the United States ran an open borders regime throughout the 19th century and we weren’t worse off for it. On the contrary, it laid the foundations for American greatness. Shifting back in that direction—with exceptions for dangerous criminals and other select problem types—over time seems perfectly feasible to me and would substantially increase overall human welfare. Now obviously that doesn’t resolve the question of whether or not, morally speaking, it makes sense to simply not care about the interests of foreigners. But Kaus and I agree that foreign-born people are people, so for my part I’d like to take their interests into consideration.

What Would Happen If We Let All The Immigrants In — Yglesias argues, rightly, that discussion of U.S. immigration policy should not disregard the interests of those who don’t happen to be born in the U.S.

Income Inequality in America

I’ve greatly enjoyed (if that word can really be applied here) reading Timothy Noah’s extensive exploration of US income inequality. In this 10-article series, he explores explores a variety of factors that might explain the growing income inequality in the U.S. over the last half-century (called the ‘Great Divergence’), and what the likely contributing factors actually are.

If you aren’t convinced that this is imporant, read the last installment. Then go back and read the whole thing. The 9th part contains a bullet-point summary of the various candidate causes and how much they likely contribute to the issue.

One unfortunate caveat to this series is that it very much has a “take my word for it” flavor when it comes to why we should believe the scholars Noah favors vs. competing analyses of the theories in play. It’s still very much worth reading.

The whole thing is also available as a single PDF.

MA native deported for 10 years

Mr. Dominguez’s illegal detention and deportation are the direct and foreseeable consequence of official policies, patterns, practices, and customs that manifest not only intentional discrimination based on race and ethnicity and a failure to recognize basic principles of due process, but also a reckless disregard for human life and liberty.

Although the U.S. government has long been aware that its failure to implement due process protections in its immigration detention and removal procedures results in unjust detention, unfair hearings and illegal deportations, neither the Department of Justice nor the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement have rectified the shortcomings in their procedures and policies, leaving U.S. citizens like Mr. Dominguez vulnerable to erroneous apprehension, detention and deportation.

Lawsuit filed over a Massachusetts native’s unlawful 10-year deportation

Most important things I've read on Aaron Swartz

The Power of the Prosecutor, in the Huffington Post, is probably the most important thing I’ve read in the aftermath of Aaron Swartz’s suicide. Radley Balko describes carefully and thoroughly the extent of corruption in the way criminal “justice” currently works in America, starting not with the prosecutors themselves but with legislation: we have too many laws to ensnare the unwary or unorthodox citizen. And it goes downhill from there. If you read nothing else on Swartz, read that.

Swartz’s own article “Fix the machine, not the person” from late last year is also very worthwhile. Swartz was a dedicated activist, and understood keenly that anger towards individual people in the system is entirely ineffective when it comes to tearing down systemic injustice.