Sam Smith – There is major concern over the effects of immigration on our economy. It is also badly misplaced.
The foreign born population in the US – as a percentage of the total – is about what it was from 1860 to 1910: 13%. It has ranged from a low of 5% in 1970 to 15% between 1880 and 1900. The only time it has fallen below 10% in the past century was between 1940 and 1980. As for undocumented foregin born, the figure is less than five percent.
The truly bad effect on the American economy and on the First America Republic has not been the undocumented immigration of the poor but the undocumented emigration of the country’s elite, a record number of whom today have moved to a virtual global community without laws, without taxes, and without a nation and communities to which they feel loyalty and responsibility. While they still live in America, their jobs, employees, profits and souls all reside elsewhere.
We have never had an economic elite so fiscally separated from, and in many ways disloyal to, our land. Even the robber barons at least reinvested their money in Americans jobs and industry. The defection of our elite has been a major factor in the collapse of the First American Republic.
Some time ago I suggested testing out the role of immigrants with these questions:
1. Has a Mexican ever fired or laid you off?
2. Hasthe plant for which your worked until it was sent overseas been bought by Mexicans or is it still owned by the same people you used to work for?
3. Has a Mexican ever cut your pension or health benefits? Outsourced your job to India?
4. Do you think Mexicans or the pharmaceutical corporations are more responsible for high drug costs?
8. How much of the corruption in Washington has been instigated by the Mexicans?
9. Did the Mexicans’ make us invade Iraq?
The new reality I described it this way in Shadows of Hope, a book on Bill Clinton, in 1993:
The real Clinton foreign policy is simply this: there are no foreign countries any more, there are only undeveloped markets. The slogan has become “Make quarterly earnings growth, not war!” Trade has replaced ideology as the engine of foreign affairs.
At one level this should be celebrated, since it is far less deadly. On the other hand, this development also means that politics, nationhood and the idea of place itself is being replaced by a huge, amorphous international corporate culture that rules not by force but by market share. This culture, in the words of French writer and advisor to Francois Mitterand Jacques Attali, seeks an “ideologically homogenous market where life will be organized around common consumer desires.” It is a world that will become increasingly indifferent to local variation.
And when Attali speaks of American influence he says: “We have to build a word which would be ‘New York-Hollywoodization,’ because we are not Americanized in the sense that we are not going to be closer to St. Louis, Mo., or someplace else. These countries are far from us and we are far from them. They are less in advance, less influencing than New York and Hollywood.”
Here is a world in which Babar loses out to Mickey Mouse in France and where a sophisticated Frenchman speaks of St. Louis — but not Hollywood or Manhattan — as a foreign country. It is the world of what Marshall Blonsky calls “international man.”
International man — and he is mainly just that — is unlocalized. He wears a somewhat Italian suit, perhaps a vaguely British regimental tie, a faintly French shirt and shoes — says international man Furio Columbo, president of Fiat USA — “with an element of remembering New England boats and walking on the beach.” As Blonsky puts it, “You self-consciously splice genres, attitudes, styles.”
International man thrives in Washington. At the moment you call, though, he may well be in Tokyo, Bonn or London sharing with colleagues who are nominally Japanese, German or British a common heritage in the land of the perpetually mobile.
It is this unnamed country of international law, trade and finance, with its anthem to “global competition in the first half of the 21st century,” that is increasingly providing the substance and the style to our politics. It is their dual citizenship in America and in the Great Global Glob that characterizes the most powerful among us, now more than ever including even our own political leaders. International man dreams of things like NAFTA and GATT and then gets them passed. And he knows that he, as a corporate executive or licensed professional, will pass quickly through Mexican customs in his somewhat Italian suit and shoes with a hint of a New England beach because the agreement he helped to draft and pass has declared him entitled to such consideration. The union worker, the tourist from St. Louis, are, under the new world order, from far countries and so it will take awhile longer.
This then is the Clinton foreign policy: it is the policy of International Man, a policy that brings Mexico City ever nearer and starts to makes St. Louis a stranger in its own land. . .
How could any republic survive when its own elite deserts it the way ours has?