Thursday, April 25, 2013

Controlling the discourse

One of the ways the media controls the discourse is by pitting two ostensibly opposing sides against each other.  Person A, let's call him President Obama, wants to drone strike the daylights out of Pakistan.  Person B, let's call him Mitt Romney, agrees, but he would also like to bomb Iran.  This is the allowable range of respectable opinion when it comes to foreign policy. 

When Ron Paul points out that bombing someone's homeland makes them more likely to hate you, if not take up arms against you, the proper response would be: no doubt.  But in the context of our discourse, the sensible point is not examined.  After all, the Republicans and the Democrats recognize the wisdom of drone strikes, so only an "extremist" would advocate a position so far outside the mainstream.

Once you recognize that this is how things work, it becomes an amusing exercise to look at other media narratives that help undermine common sense.

Take immigration.  The Narrative insists that: "our system is broken."  Exactly what that means, is unclear; for the purposes of the debate, it means that the Government must Do Something.  Some of the Republicans and the Democrats have thus gotten together to try to pitch a bill to enact "Comprehensive Immigration Reform."  This will fix our "broken" system.  And since the plan is "comprehensive", it will ensure that the problem is completely solved, forever and ever, amen. 

The debate is thus framed in determining whether or not the bill is "comprehensive" enough to "fix the problem."  Its authors insist that this is because it will "control the borders" and ensure that "undocumented immigrants"--the implication here being that we are dealing, not with lawbreakers, but some sort of bureaucratic oversight--can come "out from the shadows.

As a brief aside, the reasons for the "bipartisan support" should be clear.  The Republicans love immigrants because they work cheaper than Americans, and hence help boost corporate profits.  The Democrats love immigrants because they vote for the Democratic Party.  One would think that the Republicans might have noticed this, but they don't call it the Stupid Party for nothing.

No one bothers to ask some rather pertinent questions.  So here are a few.

1) What has been the effect of the last fifty years of immigration on the native population, that forgotten band of citizens who live here and pay taxes?

One would think that we might be interested in the experiment of the last five decades, but we are much more interested in looking Forward.

2) What is the effect of immigration on wages and employment levels of the native population?

Hint for economists: what happens to the price of a good, in this case, labor, when its supply increases?  Wages go down, unemployment goes up, and, well, it's not like we're in the middle of a recession or anything, right?

3) What countries tend to produce better immigrants?  Are there certain countries that we should be targeting in our search for immigrants? 

This question is totally verboten.  All races are exactly the same.  And even if some immigrants, say, from Chechnya, cause problems, well, that can be no reason to be a "racist".  Racism is very, very bad!

A helpful analogy here is to think of the U.S. as a prestigious university.  Harvard lets in the best and brightest.  Certainly it pays respect to diversity, at least certain types, but it doesn't let in any riffraff.  Instead of defending the brand, like Harvard has done, Kennedy's 1965 immigration act decided that it would be wise for the United States to adopt the admissions policy of The University of Phoenix Online.

4) Don't we already have a guest workers program?  Does American need another one? 

Regarding the first question, John Derbyshire's counts give him either 12--or 20 such programs.  Surely the next one will "fix the problem."  And the answer to the second, is, no.  We have massive unemployment and stagnant wages.  When wages continuously go up in an industry, and when businesses in that industry can't find any American help, then it makes sense to look elsewhere.  But not until then.

5) Are there any perks to being an American citizen?

Try not to answer this one.  If you're part of the underclass, the elites want to replace you with a wonderful Mexican who will work more cheaply.  If you're one of the members of our shrinking middle class, the elites want to replace you with an equally amazing Indian or Chinese person who will work more cheaply. 

Perhaps if we had a guest worker program for journalists and politicians, they would start to speak for the suckers who actually live and work in this country. 

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