News

Loading...

Friday, May 30, 2008

Understanding on Immigration

I was reading Landsburg's Fair Play today, and he was pretty harsh about people who wanted to restrict immigration. (I'll probably review his book formally so no more commentary on it here...)

Anyway, today it struck me that one self-interested reason I could see current WASPs being afraid of immigrants who look different is that you then lose the camaraderie with the police. I mean let's face it, whitey readers, whether you realize it or not, you really do have a lot more leeway with cops.

We live really close in Nashville to where the seriously loaded/important people live; like Al Gore material. And I got a speeding ticket once and remarked to my wife how incredibly courteous the cop was. She said something like, "Well they're probably being careful since they don't know who they're pulling over."

I imagine if I my skin were darker and I had on a baseball cap, the officer would have been quite sure I wasn't a city building contractor who played golf with the mayor.

So back to the main point, if you suddenly become the ethnic minority in your community, you could be subject to real persecution. I.e. it's not simply, "Eww, I don't want to live next to people who cook that stuff for dinner." (Though I did have a white lady ask me on time when I told her where I lived during grad school, "Ugh, how you can stand the curry smell?")

Naturally, I don't think it's a great argument for restricting other consensual transactions, simply because you're worried that it will down the road indirectly lead to government oppressing you more. None of this has changed my personal views on the best policies in this arena.

But I still think it's a lot more than merely racism. Racism helps it out, for sure, but I think the utilitarian reasoning exists independent of that.

Finally, this is just another reason why the State is bad: It makes groups view each other with fear because that group really could hurt you if it seizes political power. In a free society, you wouldn't fear the police anymore than you worry that construction crews will use their big powerful machines to smash your house down against your will.

The police are scary not because they have guns, but because they have a monopoly.

9 comments:

  1. Bob,

    To your point:

    I mean let's face it, whitey readers, whether you realize it or not, you really do have a lot more leeway with cops.

    Many years back, I used to travel regularly on the New Jersey Turnpike. Breezing along at a very libertarian pace, I was amazed at how often black drivers, driving slower than I was, would get pulled over, while I passed by in, I guess, my invisble metallic blue Firebird.

    Further to your point:

    Anyway, today it struck me that one self-interested reason I could see current WASPs being afraid of immigrants who look different is that you then lose the camaraderie with the police.

    Having spent quite a bit of the last couple of months in NYC, I couldn't help but notice the large number of Africans that are security guards at mid-town Manhattan buldings.

    On two occassions, I defintely got the feeling that I was not part of their club. On two occasions they outright lied to me (Once, about a restroom and once about the time the 40th St entrance to Grand Central Station opens up.
    ), for no apparent reason other than my being whitey. ( And Bob, you may find ths hard to believe, but I am generally recieved as a charming guy, by all.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. ( And Bob, you may find ths hard to believe, but I am generally recieved as a charming guy, by all.)

    You mean, except for the two security guards?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yup, except for the two African security guards.

    In Los Angeles one night a big American black guy came up to me, I hadn't noticed him--I think my mind was on some regression analysis I was running through my mind--and he said, "Why aren't you scared of me." My intial response was along the lines of "Geez, I didn't notice you if I did..." But then I realized and said, "Hey I'm from New York, I've seen lots of you guys" This relaxed him, he told me he was a mugger and it was a dangerous business. I told him how the minimum wage was screwing him. After about 20 minutes, we shook hands, wished each other luck, and went our separate ways.

    I once had a black girl say to me, "You are either the coolest person I have ever met, or you are crazy."

    Another black woman (a married woman, she was out with friends and I barged into their conversation). She ended up buying me a drink, with the comment, "If my husband new I was buying a white guy a drink."

    That's why this African security guard thing puzzles me. I never suspected it before but I think they may really have a problem with whitey.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I once had a black girl say to me, "You are either the coolest person I have ever met, or you are crazy."

    Holy cow, I know which girl you mean! What are the chances?! She was on Oprah about 2 years ago, right? Her mom was crazy and had kept her locked in a closet for the first 17 years of her life. Crazy.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Bob,

    I'm not sure that racism and utilitarian reasoning are necessarily two distinct things. Racism can often be in one's self-interest; think of the business owner who is able to use racial sentiment of voters to support coercive government policies that protect him while hurting his competitors. Is he racist for making the utilitiarian calculation that it is in his self-interest to take advantage of latent racial animosities of others for his own benefit, despite the harm this may cause to others? Yes.

    Taking advantage of white privilege for purely utilitarian reasons is not a defense against the charge of racism; it may be less objectionable than even more irrational forms of racism, but it is still wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Is he racist for making the utilitiarian calculation that it is in his self-interest to take advantage of latent racial animosities of others for his own benefit, despite the harm this may cause to others? Yes.

    That's fine, but then you and I are using terms differently. To me a racist is someone who holds false beliefs of inferiority about other races.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm racist; I prefer discrimination in favor of whites. I'm sexist; I prefer discrimination in favor of males. Basically, I'm me-ist.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh, and camaraderie with the police is like having a pet rattlesnake.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sidney5:59 PM

    "camaraderie with the police is like having a pet rattlesnake"

    should be on a t-shirt.

    ReplyDelete