Sometimes heterodoxy is good

I know David Frum comes in for a lot of criticism from the conservatives. Sometimes I think this is justified, as I have found some of his methods objectionable. That being said, I am struck by the fact that Frum seems be injecting an immigration-skeptic voice into the discussion rather frequently. For example, How Will Great Recession Shape Youth?

Immigration policies that accept huge numbers of less-skilled workers, bad schools that fail to teach the children of those immigrants what they need to know, and very high dropout rates among the children of immigrants — these are the trends that led the Educational Testing Service to issue a warning: the American work force of 2025 will be less literate and less skilled than the American work force of 1995.

And this time there will be many fewer of the steady, if dull, jobs that provided security to the post-Depression generation: the blue-collar job on the assembly line, the clerical data-processing job. Life for people with fewer skills is becoming a lot harder and scarier at a time when there are soon to be a lot more of them

Of course the Republican and conservative segment of the population is strongly anti-immigration, and helped to block George W. Bush’s proposals from several years back. But ultimately it seems to me that it is too primal and inchoate to do anything more than serve as a rearguard action; the economic conservative elite is strongly influenced by the sort of open-borders thinking dominant at The Wall Street Journal. What needs to emerge for genuine immigration reform which adds solidity to the idea of the United States as a nation-state with a common culture is an elaborated alternative vision to the ultra-capitalist utopia of unconstrained action of markets, capital and labor. Basically, an intellectual conservatism which balances neoclassical and institutional perspectives.

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5 Responses to Sometimes heterodoxy is good

  1. Bradlaugh says:

    David is an odd fish, capable of brilliant insights — some of which I poached for Doomed — but capable too of breathtaking cluelessness. As I recall, he was woken suddenly to the immigration issue on a book tour five or six years ago, long after it had become salient among thoughtful conservatives. Well, we all have our blind spots.

    This is a good piece. Even here there’s a wee flash of cluelessness, though:

    … bad schools that fail to teach the children of those immigrants what they need to know

    Ah, those "bad schools"! When shall we ever get them put right?

  2. David Hume says:

    re: timing. rereading some of *dead right* in amazon search inside, i seems his skepticism of mass immigration might predate that, though someone who has read the whole thing can clarify. i do remember at the time though that frum was talking about how scary nationalist conservatives like pat buchanan were, and how they were the biggest threat to the movement.

  3. Art says:

    Of course the Republican and conservative segment of the population is strongly anti-immigration …

    They are strongly anti-illegal immigration. Most conservatives favor legal immigration, particularly skilled immigrants.

  4. Bradlaugh says:

    Mr. Hume:  I have a copy of Dead Right here & have just looked up all 14 index references to immigration. They are actually better informed than I recalled, and not as vituperative as you perceived. The emphasis is mostly political — how Pat Buchanan played the immigration issue, how it helped Pete Wilson, etc. When Frum does venture an opinion, though, he is pretty “sound”:

    The conservative rank and file, like just about everybody else in America, is intensely hostile to further immigration … (p.74)

    This, in a book ©1995. So I may have done David an injustice there.

    I’d still like to see his definition of “bad school.” One in which Vietnamese and Korean kids get low scores?

  5. sg says:

    When I read the Huffington post articles on immigration, the comments section is full of comments blaming republicans for illegal immigration. Anyway its readers don’t seem to support immigration. Whichever party comes out strong against illegal immigration can win plenty of voters from both parties.

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