Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Immigration, Polarization, and Social Welfare

At The Daily Beast, Lloyd Green writes:
[T]he reality is that the skirmishes of the last four-plus years are less about race per se, and more about diversity tinged by the brush-strokes of need, and the political demands of the polychromatic poor. As Jonathan Chait acknowledged, “In a few weeks, the United States government, like those of France, or Australia, or Israel, will begin to regard health insurance as something to be handed out to one and all, however poor, lazy, or otherwise undeserving each recipient may be.”

Through this lens, the fights over Obamacare, or even immigration and guns are not simply about the transfer of wealth, government mandates, amnesty, or the text of the Second Amendment. Rather, it is a culture war, a battle over the social fabric itself, in an America which grows ever less monochromatic and where diversity broadly correlates to poverty.

As economist Paul Collier observes in his latest book, Exodus: How Migration is Changing Our World, immigration, welfare, and diversity pose a collective challenge to the political eco-system, or as Paul Krugman phrased it, “open immigration can’t exist with a strong social safety net; if you’re going to assure healthcare and a decent income to everyone, you can’t make that offer global.”

Like it or not, there is a tension between mass immigration on the one hand, and the welfare state on the other, and it’s not going away.