Bloody shovel

Don't call it a spade

On Immigration

Arnold Kling is a smart fella. He reminds me of those girls who being pretty themselves, always go out to bars bringing a huge fat and ugly friend. They thing they look hot in comparison, and they do. But their friend is so disgusting that no sane man is going to approach anyway.

It seems he realised the problem and he now has a blog of his own. Again there’s something girly about it. He says he started the blog because he “missed being part of the blog conversation”. But most of his posts are short, dense and controversial, but he rarely responds to comments. So much for “conversation”. He’s very good though, probably the best economist blogging out there. But there’s also something quite unpleasant about the guy. He sounds like me when I’m in a bad mood. Cold and dismissive.

Economics can be defined in many ways but let’s say it’s the study of the interaction of humanity and natural resources. That is a very important matter, and that’s why economists today are held as the high priests of the modern world. They study important stuff. Yet so many of them really don’t understand the implications of their discipline. There is a shibboleth to determine whether an economist actually has a smart worldview, or is just another narrow-minded academician. Immigration. Sadly Arnold Kling can’t pronounce his palatals.

See his post on immigration. For all his talk on being charitable towards other people’s worldviews, he sternly dictates opponents of immigration are dead wrong. How so? He doesn’t say. Kling is big in the power of competition, so presumably he understands that immigration is the only way to bring competition to the political world. Countries that don’t perform well will see their citizens leave, so they would have to reform and perform properly to attract people.

Economists are big, real big on this kind of invisible-hand arguments. They forget an important value which is time. Yes countries might want to reform to avoid having a brain drain. But that might take forever. Or it might not happen at all. Or it might entail nasty consequences. The competition principle in the old days worked like this: country A is efficient, country B is not. Country A senses the chance and invades country B, kills the men, rapes the women and enslaves the children. Competition! Performance! Instead of invisible hand you might call it the visible sword. Or battle-axe.

Of course he doesn’t go into HBD, which I can understand given he blogs with his real name. Very smartly he does rephrase the HBD objection to immigration, saying that conservatives consider immigrants as barbaric, which is a reasonable objection. But it seems that the growth of barbarism doesn’t bother Mr. Kling. Perhaps he thinks it’s solvable? Just takes time and education? During the years he has been known as quasi accepting HBD, so it doesn’t seem likely that he thinks barbarism can be completely resolved. Yet he doesn’t think that it is a sufficient argument against immigration. The likely answer is that he likes his bubble as much as his pal Caplan. Who cares if barbarism is 5000km away or 50km away if you just don’t have to deal with it?

But anyway, let’s accept his argument about the competition principle. Immigration gives some needed stimulus to the economy. It puts people to work, for fear of being displaced. Protected industries tend to lag in innovation, so protected countries or individuals might do the same. It’s a fine argument. Competition is important. But does he really understand what he wants us to compete with? I’m not an expert but I think there’s a real lack out there for a good theory of economic  competition.

Economic competition is seldom the domain of individuals competing in a level field. Aristoteles famously said that man is a political animal. What he means it that people are social. Some more than others, I might add. In the realm of the Asperger’s plagued economics profession, competition is about some individuals knowing more than others. In the real world, people form bands, then clans, then tribes, and use them to outperform others economically. Why are Jews so successful? In fact why do Jews exist at all? Most tribes of antiquity perished. But Jews thrived, even abroad. Why? Because they are a clan. Jews specialised in international trade since antiquity. Clans aren’t particularly efficient when all you do is subsistence farming, but trade is all about trust and information. And clans work very well in that. That’s why most trade was monopolised by minority clans until recently. Indeed it’s not that clans went into trade. You might understand it the other way around, traders around the world formed close-knit clans to stave off competition. Overseas Chinese were mostly farmers who didn’t have clans as such; but living abroad they had to become traders, so they just made them up by joining people who happened to have the same surname (even if not related at all). The morale is that organised groups will always outperform non-organised groups.

By allowing foreign cultures to mingle in the same land, you are giving them the incentive to specialise in any given market and make it their own ethnic fief. Jews famously own various industries in the US. The blogosphere is full of disgruntled software engineers complaining how Indian bosses only hire Indian employees. Old Chinese-Americans are acculturated but what about new immigrants? Of course they prefer to do business with their own kind. It goes beyond nepotism. Transaction costs are bad enough in a homogeneous nation, imagine having to deal with people removed thousands of years from your own.

Even if you ignore the problems with low-performing immigrants (and that’s ignoring a lot), high performing immigrants have problems of their own. The logical conclusion of free immigration is quite obvious to those who know any history. The land which has absorbed most immigrants during history has been India. It has been settled and invaded dozens of times mostly from its western borders. What happened when all those different cultures mingled in the same land? Did it produce a healthy competition ecosystem where smart and entrepreneurial individuals thrived? No. It produced castes. Profession cartels where people specialised to the detriment of society as a whole. Clans exist because they work. Individualism is the product of a very particular culture, in a very particular environment. It’s a minority because it is unnatural. Man is a political animal, and it does business in a political way. Keep bringing people all over the world and  you’ll see what happens.

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13 responses to “On Immigration

  1. asdf January 11, 2013 at 06:16

    BTW, the problem for SWPLs is they haven’t been a minority. I’ve known about the tribal nature of people since third grade when I was at my friend house and all of his Jewish friends said they wouldn’t stay if he had a gentile over. That only got reinforced in high school when anyone who walked down the Korean stairwell (50% Korean HS) got their ass beat.

    I’d say the only big difference since then is I used to think minorities had decent raw ability (like Jews and Asians I grew up around), but then I got to know a lot more NAMs are quickly realized that was false.

    Once an SWPL reaches adulthood they are pretty set in their ways. Yglesias got beaten by a bunch of street thugs just for being white and the first thing he does is make a post about how that was white people’s fault for not designing cities the right way.

  2. Foseti January 11, 2013 at 17:51

    I don’t think I like professor Kling’s new plan to make everyone understand each other. It seems destined to fail

    • Handle January 12, 2013 at 05:53

      The problem is people don’t care about getting along, understanding each other, or telling the truth.

    • spandrell January 12, 2013 at 06:43

      Well understanding only takes you so far. Now I understand that Kling doesn’t give a shit about barbarism creeping in his own country. I surely don’t like him more for it. Probably less.

  3. john January 11, 2013 at 19:49

    I think immigration in the West can work based on three sets of preconditions.

    1. The immigrants are small in number so as not to overwhelm the host culture.
    2. The immigrants are assimilable. This is the HBD related thing that no one wanted to talk about in the open.
    3. The host country demands assimilation, none of this multicultural bull.

    The United States have gotten stronger in its first two hundred years based on these principles. Even the Jews in America are slowly dying out due to assimilation. Of course this is very far from the open immigration proposed by Arnold.

    Sometimes economists push a theory/tool too far and come up with some bogus stuff. Before my conversion to HBD, I used to have high regards for Steven Levits and his Freakonomics stuff. It was later that I realized what a bunch of half baked stuff that was.

    To your other point about time, I believe it is more than that, some countries are stuck with a cultural/genetic combination such that it is near impossible to break out of it. It has reached an equilibrium. Since genetics changes very slowly, they can not change the culture which suited that particular set of genetics. The knowledge from the modern society can tweak this combination a bit to optimize it, but there is a limit of how far you can take this. It is the reason different countries are stuck at different economic developments. Much of Africa stuck as shit holes, SE Asia/Latin America stuck as mid income countries.

  4. JM January 15, 2013 at 23:50

    Kling is just expressing virulence. Jewish virulence results primarily from repeated horizontal transmission between nations. Horizontal transmission takes place when, due to migratory options, a lineage does not necessarily have to share the reproductive fate of another lineage sharing its environment. For instance, communicable diseases can usually be transmitted (reproduce) without the host infected by the disease reproducing successfully. Horizontal transmission evolves virulence and is frequently associated with parasites.

    Horizontal transmission of Jews between nations, in the form of repeated migration, goes back very far, to at least Babylonian times. Moreover, since diaspora Jews have become dependent on virulence for survival they promote immigration and naturalization laws that are friendly to horizontal transmission more generally – resulting in virulence evolving in other populations. This makes Jewish virulence analogous to immuno-suppression virulence, such as the type HIV creates in HIV-infected organisms.

    Jewish virulence may have evolved from the following horizontal transmission cycle:

    1. Hyper centralization of net assets (communist, capitalist, monarchy—doesn’t matter)
    2. Social breakdown as middle class (yeomen) are unable to afford subsistence
    3. Grab and convert wealth in easily transported forms (gold historically, diamonds more recently, etc.)
    4. “virulent anti-Semitism” breaks out
    5. Emigrate leaving behind less “savvy” Jews to take the heat
    6. Cry out for help to elites at destination nation while offering concentrated wealth to enter new cycle (see step 1) e.g., http://web.archive.org/web/20060701180908/http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/730443.html

  5. JM January 15, 2013 at 23:56

    Note that in this cycle, the anti-Semitism that breaks out tends to focus on the most accessible members of the Jewish population. Since Jews are a multi-territorial nation, these sporadic outbursts of anti-Semitism cause selective pressures to be successively applied to the Jewish population in each ensuing emigration event:

    – By preferentially attacking the least wealthy segments of the Jewish community, anti-Semitism selects for mercantile skills.
    – By preferentially attacking the less mobile Jews, anti-Semitism selects for hostility toward the territorial boundaries of other nations.
    – By preferentially attacking the most locally-dependent Jews, anti-Semitism selects for stronger Jewish identity.
    – All of the above select for higher intelligence.

    Incidentally, Jewish “chutzpah” would instinctively generate anti-Semitism and serve to impose the prior evolutionary advantages. The mechanisms by which instinctive generation of host-population anti-Semitism arose within the Jewish gene pool may include the fact that:

    – Naked “chutzpah” infuriates members of the host population thereby reducing their intelligence and making them emote. This renders them more exploitable even as it elicits antisemitism.
    – Defection against a host population is immediately beneficial — acquiring resources at the expense of the host nation — and tends to elicit antisemitism as a natural by-product.

  6. JM January 16, 2013 at 00:06

    So there is a vicious cycle, just as there is with any pathogen: expulsion, contamination, incubation, pathology, expulsion….

    The problem is how did it originate?

    It may have originated during the formation of the first “world-wide” empire — the Persian empire, probably under Darius — where Jews were provided a multi-national niche among the 111 way stations of the empire’s “Royal Road” trade routes. This may be the ultimate origin of their virulence because it made them identify with the trade route over the nations within which they were stationed.

    Once this happened, the rest was inevitable: Mobility and multi-nationality provided escape routes for any Jews who abused their positions of trust and authority and created enormous evolutionary pressure on them to break down barriers between nations — both to increase demand for their trade-route bottlenecks and to provide them with easy avenues of escape from the consequences of their virulence. This is known to pathologists as “horizontal transmission”.

    There might be some remnant of this early culture — possibly pre-Judaic — left at the extremities of the Royal Road. It may be likely that the Parsis sprung from the same source. There have been genetic analyses suggesting that the Parsis do have some surprising genetic relatedness to certain Jews. How the Parsis and Jews were sent in apparently different cultural directions is an interesting question. It may be due to the lower level of immunity among Europeans, relative to the Indus river culture, that allowed Jewish penetration there to evolve greater virulence. A similar argument can be applied to explain the lower virulence of the Lemba Jews in Africa and to some extent the Sephardim themselves who remained in the Middle East.

  7. JM January 16, 2013 at 00:56

    Why are Jews so successful? In fact why do Jews exist at all? Most tribes of antiquity perished. But Jews thrived, even abroad. Why? Because they are a clan. Jews specialised in international trade since antiquity.

    Yes, but note that the Jewish diaspora did vary in its success depending on its environment. It was very successful in European environments and able to attain and control certain key niches, while it was less successful in the Middle East and unable to hold the same niches. Greg Cochran notes in his book “The 10,000 Year Explosion” that in parts of the Middle East, Jews were relegated to lower niche activities like cleaning toilets and were completely excluded from the powerful and remunerative niches they were able to hold in European societies.

    A population that has co-evolved with a variety of religious forms may disperse into a population that has not so co-evolved and reduce the fitness of the indigenous population if religions promoting universal altruism are the only religions promoted among the indigenous population (religions promoting reciprocal, or even kin, altruism remaining within the dispersing population). This appears to have happened when the technical infrastructure of the Roman Empire compensated for the naturally harsh conditions at the frontiers of that Empire creating an environment within which the universal altruism of Christianity was promoted among Europeans by Paul and the other early Christian Proselytes who were Jews. Jewish religious belief, however, retained its tribal character, expressing both reciprocal and kin altruism. The result was an extended period of Jewish success in diaspora among Europeans in competition with holders of indigenous niches involving religious beliefs and inter-tribal trade. And this successful displacement of indigenous religions and trade niches has arguably continued to this day (including recent innovations in religion such as Marxist economics, Rosenbaumian (i.e. Ayn Rand) philosophy aka “Objectivism”, Boasian anthropology/sociology, Freudian psychology, etc.). In the Middle East, by contrast, the indigenous population may have had greater immunity against takeover of key niches.

  8. asdf January 16, 2013 at 05:53

    Jewish disaspora got its biggest start after the Jewish revolts of the Roman Empire. The loss of life was truly massive and it ended in the complete shattering of the nation of Judea and the Jews themselves. Before then Jews certainly didn’t seem like the most successful race ever.

    If you don’t buy into Jesus as son of God you at least need to recognize him as taking on the monumental task of fundamentally changing Jewish theology. His message was that resisting the Romans was wrong and he tried to take Judaism from state religion to private/community religion. Tried to teach people how to practice their faith even without the tools of the state. Those that didn’t listen got Jerusalem sacked, the temple burned down, and most of the chosen people killed.

  9. Greying Wanderer February 14, 2013 at 00:30

    “Protected industries tend to lag in innovation”

    but not as much as those with unlimited access to ever cheaper labour.

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