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The Amnesty Issue Isn’t IQ, it’s the Free Ride

Posted By Daniel Greenfield On May 11, 2013 @ 10:57 am In The Point | 11 Comments

The Heritage study on the cost of amnesty (6.3 trillion) has gotten predictably tangled in accusations of racism.  And we are now somehow debating IQ.

The issue isn’t that immigrants from south of the border are dumber because they have lower IQ’s. The college diploma world that liberals think we are heading toward is an even bigger disaster and more unsustainable than illegal immigration.

What the Heritage study found was that illegal immigrant amnesty would be a dead loss because of entitlements use. The issue is the free ride of the welfare state.

The social safety net, like the take-a-penny jar, is an honor system. There are all sorts of regulations and policing mechanisms, but the welfare state and the country are too big to police. Those who want to defraud, do. The rapid growth in the disability rolls tell the tale.

There are different motives not to cheat. Personal integrity. A sense of honor. But the largest one is a sense of investment in the country. Patriotism. The belief that we are all in the same boat and that we occasionally even sacrifice for one another.

Large scale entitlements use by a population is a cultural statement of a sense of detachment from the country and its people. You are more likely to take pennies, instead of putting them back, if you don’t identify with the people who put the pennies in.

Some of this is the effect of multiculturalism, but like the welfare state, it is a reality that conservative and libertarian amnesty advocates have to address.

Some of it is aspiration. It’s possible to work very hard from day to day, without believing that you will get ahead. And that mentality makes it easy to drop out of the economy when an opportunity presents itself. And if you don’t believe that you truly have a future in the country, then that becomes a reasonable path to take.

Postmoderns may attempt to level all humans to a single chart based on a single characteristic, but real life is more complex than that. There is no dynamic scoring that can predict the impact of the future, all we have to judge by, as Patrick Henry said, is the lamp of experience. And that means that the Heritage Center’s approach of using existing facts to draw conclusions is far more valid than any wishful dynamic scoring.

Mexicans have a complex history and past of their own. And unlike most immigrants, they have a historical claim on American territory and a history of conflict with the United States. That history may seem ancient to most Americans, but the animosity and the sense of loss is real. Many Mexicans feel that they have lost something of their potential and their future when they were defeated and that sense lingers on in a way that most Americans cannot understand.

Those are all elements that need to be dealt with.

We can only maintain a social safety net for a population that feels responsible for each other. A population that sees itself living in a foreign country and does not identify with the national majority is going to pump and dump the social safety net. And that is something you can see in inner cities every day.

The failure to talk about it will not change the failure of any policy that fails to take it into account.


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