Friday, July 31, 2015

Response to Forced Clarity

(See: Just Above Sunset: Forced Clarity)

Before he left his Comedy Central show, Stephen Colbert's schtick was to lampoon conservative Republicans, but from the "inside", by pretending to be one of them, and one who is just clueless enough to actually say what he thinks -- unlike his fellow right-wingers, most of whom are just smart enough to keep their real thoughts to themselves. But for the time being, Colbert's inside-job skewering of Republicans isn't so missed, now that the void is being filled by Donald Trump.

Yet, while Colbert's act occasionally helped illuminate some issue -- remember his walking us through the legal process of creating a Super Pac by actually doing it on his show? -- I don't see Trump's immigration blithering as being all that helpful, the difference probably being due to the fact that Colbert never did anything without scripting it all out first. Trump is more like doing improv. 

And so, has Trump now really "forced this issue right out in the open", as Ed Kilgore suggests? I don't see it.

In American politics, just because a question obviously needs to be addressed doesn't mean it's going to happen, even if brought up in a nationally televised presidential debate with all the world watching. And to paraphrase H.L. Mencken, nobody ever lost money betting that everyone in Washington will do absolutely nothing on immigration.

But putting aside the actual cost of deporting 11.5-million undocumented residents, one of the other questions that will probably go ignored if Republicans ever get around to having this conversation is what this would do to our economy:
Many undocumented immigrants pay taxes ... Most importantly, undocumented immigrants contribute to the economy. Labor economists agree that there are net gains to having a larger labor supply. ... In 2012, researchers at the Cato Institute estimated that a mass deportations policy would reduce economic growth by around $250 billion per year.
So assuming an economy of $17.8-trillion, a $250-billion movement should represent about 1.4%, which means that, had we deported all these people last year, our most recent annualized growth rate of 2.3% (2nd quarter this year) would actually be only 0.9% -- that is, growth of under 1%.

And many of the deported will leave behind jobs which will not be filled by American citizens, at least at those same low wages, if at all. This means not only are we paying billions to deport guest workers we need here, they'll be taking their spending money with them and spending it elsewhere, and it will now cost us more money to stay in a hotel room or buy a head of lettuce, assuming the farmers can even find someone to pick it at all.

But will Republicans care? Not really. Nobody will blame them for this stuff, since most people won't see any "cause-and-effect" in play here. After all, most of their constituency just doesn't believe in all that sciency stuff anyway.