Friday, 11 November 2016

A Lucky Escape?

Keeping Nope Alive: Tens-of-thousands of mostly young American protesters poured onto the streets of the major US cities in the hours following the shock election of Donald Trump as America's 45th President. It remains to be seen whether, in the days and weeks to come, middle-class Millennial hope is any match for white working-class resentment and rage.
 
ALL YEAR, NEW ZEALANDERS have quietly congratulated themselves on not being Americans. Like so many others around the world, we have looked on with mounting disbelief as the [Dis]united States of America plumbed new depths of malevolent ignorance. If it’s been said once, it’s been said 100 million times: “Thank God we’re not like that!”
 
But why aren’t we like the United States? What is it that we, as a people, did – or did not do – that has kept our political system from veering so suddenly, and dangerously, off course.
 
The most obvious and plausible answer is that we, along with many other Western nations, have maintained a reasonably comprehensive welfare state. More specifically, we have preserved a public health system.
 
It is easy to overlook the role a functioning public health service plays in preserving even a modest level of social equality. By far the most common reason for so many middle-aged Americans declaring bankruptcy is the crippling cost of medical treatment and pharmaceuticals. In just a few weeks, serious injury and/or chronic illness can swallow up every last cent of an ordinary family’s life savings. There are tens-of-thousands of American workers whose entire pay check gets spent on ruinously expensive medication.
 
It is one of the great ironies of the 2016 US presidential elections that Donald Trump’s supporters have been so vehement in their opposition to “Obamacare”. Granted, the Affordable Health Care Act has its flaws, but, surely, it is also a small step in the direction of universal, publicly-funded, health care?
 
“Hell, no!”, cry the Trumpites. “Obamacare is the thin edge of the wedge of socialism!” And you’d better believe that this verdict is delivered through bared teeth. As though, for people in their desperate economic circumstances, socialism is a bad thing.
 
We chuckle at the ideological incongruity of poor, white, working-class Americans voting for a man like Donald Trump. “Why can’t they see that they’re voting directly against their own interests?”, we ask. “How can they be so blind?”
 
For an explanation we must turn to American history, and the myths with which it disguises itself. The most enduring of these cultural illusions is that every American has a shot at success. That the path from shoeshine boy to billionaire is real. That it’s open to all. That it’s possible.
 
Persuading Americans that their much-vaunted equality of opportunity is a mirage is extremely difficult. But, convincing them that they are the prisoners of a class system every bit as pernicious as Britain’s is practically impossible.
 
But it’s true. As Nancy Isenberg demonstrates so conclusively in her recent book, White Trash: The 400-year Untold History of Class in America, the enterprises (and that word is used advisedly) which eventually grew into the United States were predicated on the most ruthless exploitation of indentured labourers and servants. Before America was a slave society, it was a society into which the English aristocracy and their entrepreneurial hangers-on decanted the poorest and most powerless of the English people.
 
That these readily disposable servants of the American ruling-class have, for more than 300 years, been regarded as more despicable than dangerous is largely attributable to two key factors. The first is the poor whites’ sullen awareness of their own worthlessness in the eyes of their social superiors. And the second is the consoling knowledge that below them on the American totem-pole there exists an even more wretched and put-upon social strata: Non-Whites.
 
This is the vicious political alchemy which has fuelled every outbreak of white racist populism from the Civil War to the rise of Donald Trump. A crude compound of resentment and rage, it may be directed, with equal success, upwards: against the One Percent and the disdainful middle classes (in whose eyes poor whites are indeed little more than “deplorable” human “trash”) and downwards: against the descendants of slaves, and that floodtide of immigrants whose descendants threaten to strip these “crackers” of what little White privilege remains to them.
 
And, before we congratulate ourselves too fulsomely on our lucky escape from America’s political and cultural degradation, we should, perhaps, recall our own national origins. New Zealand, too, grew out of British “enterprise”. We, too, deceive ourselves with the mythology of egalitarianism and classlessness.
 
There, but for the grace of God – and a still socialist public health system – go we.
 
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 11 November 2016.

34 comments:

Sharp Tack said...

Brexit was an example of class agitation as was Trump's victory.

Skilled political stategists understand that they have to fan the fire of working class resentment to capture large quantities of working class votes.

It is unknown if Trump can do anything substantive about the stagnant state of the Rust Belt but their self-interested class issues resonated with them ie immigration, trade agreements bleeding jobs, climate change restrictions on industry etc etc etc

An understanding of class is everything in a political struggle.

Many political stategists - especially from the Left - seem to think that ethnicity is more important than class. This is a fundamental error.

jh said...

No it's about peoples right to a homeland. Exclusiveness: "inclusiveness" (in context) means of migrants . The reality is that migration is a one way street: to a small number of prime destination countries. In that way we are no different from the U.S.

peter petterson said...

Indeed. Thought provoking.

David Stone said...

Hi Chris

I think Michael Moore got it right , Trump's win was a giant "Fuck You"

Though so different in persona he is to the republican establishment what Bernie Sanders was to the democrats;.And what Jeremy Corbyn is to the labour party in the UK, and Varoufakis was in Greece and may still be in Europe. Perhaps it's a politicising of the Occupy Movement.

Our world is extremely complex and the roadmap for democratic populations to follow ,in order to restore fairness and equity is vague and obscure. But like a blind ,confused , wounded creature it is slowly feeling it's way.

Trump is surly an odd step , but the only one available .

Cheers David J S

Andrew Nichols said...

Dylans song "Only a pawn in their game" sums this up to a tee.

greywarbler said...

Reading this: The first is the poor whites’ sullen awareness of their own worthlessness in the eyes of their social superiors. And the second is the consoling knowledge that below them on the American totem-pole there exists an even more wretched and put-upon social strata: Non-Whites.

It reminds me of a Kurt Vonnegut remembrance. He met a former student, he may have been in his English class, working at a petrol station. After greeting each other, the young man apologised for being in such a lowly job, not a successful career matching his teacher's possible es
expectations. Kurt said that in the USA people were taught to despise themselves for not having achieved employment success and social mobility, not aiming and getting to be President or the like.

And as for the myths of USA founding. I thought they- early settlers were good religious people hounded out of England to achieve freedom particularly of religion and would support religious tolerance. In the early days the Puritans hanged four Quakers for not following rigid religious conventions and beliefs. The Quakers argued also, as the job of making a new life with good standards taxed them more than British taxes did.

Anne Hutchinson, a Puritan, left England with eleven children (three had died) and was a torment to the authorities as she preached that once accepted by God you were in grace and God would forgive you any wrongdoing. Such a thorn in the side, she had to leave the East Coast, went to New York, annoyed the local Indians by building on land sold by unauthorised tribes, and she and her family were killed. Yet her family connections stretch down to many notable figures. Her history in link below. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Hutchinson


The early founders were as usual, interested in acquiring land, money and power and none is unblemished in their achievements, it is just a matter of degree, with some falling to extremes of behaviour.
http://www.fsmitha.com/h3/h27-am7.htm

(Violent feeling grew on both sides - Indian retaliation against English outrages and invasions. An instance being members of Anne Hutchinson's family being scalped and beheaded.) The acceptance of perversion and low respect remained as shown in 1950's paperbacks in one of which a cowboy had a money purse made from an Indian woman's breast, and many on sale heavily laden with imagery and narrative about black sexuality.

Then there were the vicious stories about powerful barons murdering unionists, one such being recounted in the song Joe Hill used at Helen Kelly's memorial service. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote stories relating to ugly aspects of USA culture, such as companies v unions.

Problems seem to come when utopia is preached, and a brave new society is held up as the impossible aim. When the image is besmirched by normal human transgressions, this unacceptable graffiti must be washed off with expediency to maintain the golden myth. It seems to happen in all newly settled countries, always trying to punitively deal with reality rather than face, accept and try to improve the situation or miscreant. So we get the Emperor's New Clothes syndrome.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"No it's about peoples right to a homeland. Exclusiveness: "inclusiveness" (in context) means of migrants ."

FFS – will you STOP simplifying everything down to immigration. It isn't simply about that. Most of Trump's supporters weren't actually affected by immigration. Many of Clinton supporters were prevented from voting by voter suppression acts. Many people voted against Clinton, because they hoped that the racist, misogynistic, Christian of convenience would overturn Roe vs Wade. Once you reduce it to immigration you just show your ignorance. Please stop.

greywarbler said...

Thinking about the stories of perverted attitudes towards blacks and coloured races in the usa I remembered a title. Here is Wikipedia on book Mandingo. published 1957. This was a mainstream novel in the prudish States that wouldn't allow films to show a married couple in bed together.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandingo_%28novel%29

Polly said...

Guerrilla Surgeon, You are wrong, it was mostly about migrants legal or illegal.

Whitey spoke and voted.

You are out of touch with reality and also with what is happening in little old NZ.

You stop.

Sandy said...

Isn't it a shame when democracy delivers a result contrary to the one you wanted.

Charles E said...

GS you are dreaming as usual, like the Dems in he US. You are a perfect example of your tribe: smarmy lefties who have ignored and derided and dismissed the likes of jh. You call them racists but it's about culture mostly. They exist on the right too but differently.
It is very much about immigration, legal but even more, illegal. Winston was on to that like a flash the last two days. Watch him become reinvigorated, bolder and probably more successful.
There are plenty of people in most countries that have had enough of their culture being diluted by immigrants, without their consent. They were never consulted by the liberal elites, particularly of the left, but also the right to some extent. I am guilty of that myself as a Key supporter. We clearly are happy with significant Chinese immigration currently for example, although there is a limit and perhaps we are approaching it. Personally it does not affect me and I have always had a bias in favour of Chinese culture. So that must annoy those who are affected and worry the country is going away from them. But I am fully aware that if we were getting tens of thousands of Muslim Arabs or Pakistanis I would have a different view as I regard their cultures as entirely incompatible with ours. And there is plenty of evidence to support that elsewhere. I know people in Sweden and France who regard their country as having been invaded by Islam and are thinking of leaving. I used to think they exaggerated but now I can't help having some sympathy for them due to the actual numbers involved and the sexist and racist culture that has been imported there (as they see it, yet there is evidence to back that view)
So in the US, you say immigrants have not affected the what you would no doubt call white trash who went for Trump, but that is plainly wrong. There are 11 million Mexicans that prove you wrong as they mostly have low paid jobs (illegal but unenforced by the establishment) which the Trump voters correctly see as suppressing their incomes and using their taxes for medical care. That is not all about race (30% of Latino Americans voted Trump too, as an example), it's about your culture being taken away and your income. Who is to blame? Liberal elites who say they are in love with diversity but actually also often clearly dislike the culture they want to dilute (you hear them say for example that Christchurch is too white. Stunningly insulting, indeed racist even); and other elites who hire the illegals since they are cheap. Good for the economy you know! What economy is that the Trompists say. They are not completely wrong are they.

greywarbler said...

Guerilla Surgeon
jh Can't help it. I was writing about one point to him, nothing to do with immigration in my mind, but that's the line he went off on.

What a fool he is. It's happening, so try and find ways to slow it, turn it to our advantage, let the people who come here be happy, not stressed because they overwhelm us. Myself I draw the line at burkhas, and managing to keep them to a temporary problem would be how I would prefer to manage them. And I'm not too happy at the hoiking and spitting that a neighbour does. But it's not enough to make me rant.

jh said...

In one of the few times you might have heard this point expressed on television airwaves, Marlow said that the No. 1 issue for Breitbart News’ 20 million readers, “has consistently been — since last year — immigration. They are looking for someone who is going to seal the border and prioritize border security as No.1
http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/11/08/electionnightliveresultstrumpclinton/

Brendon Harre said...

It is not about immigration per se. It is about when the establishment ignoring a social groups. Where they do not tell their stories. They do not look after their needs. Where the group suffers all the downsides of economy and none of the up -such that their lives are constantly teetering on precariousness. It was about the Democrats losing their connection to these suffering groups so that no amount of corporate fundraising was going to get out the vote.

The biggest barrier to overcome is the establishment media. They do not tell the stories, they do not give the perspective of the suffering groups. In New Zealand there have been many attempts to breach the 'Planet Key' media bubble. Perhaps the most successful to date was Chloe Swarbrick who came from nowhere to get 3rd in the Mayoral election. Chloe was not blessed with campaign funding, but she is blessed with excellent social media skills and was willing to use that to tell the stories of millennials locked out of the housing market.

I am not so blessed social media wise -but if everyone does what they can, then perhaps we can move forward together. Check out these articles https://medium.com/@brendon_harre/housing-affordability-on-the-ground-8639297432e4#.5pk4d7ptq and https://medium.com/@brendon_harre/housing-affordability-the-question-is-why-not-how-or-what-cefffd2f9924#.ispb8jy2l

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Smarmy leftists? So we're back to name-calling again – this from the Prince of smarm. (The King of smarm is of course Matthew Hooton) In fact, conservatives have to be smarmy to get on. Smarmy to those above them, shitty often to those below them. :)

You make several assumptions Charles as usual, most of which are completely wrong.

Firstly, you assume that whoever supported Trump was white trash. Interestingly, research (of course that which you never bother to do) shows that Trump's supporters had a higher average income than Clinton's. So hardly white trash. And of course, the very fact that you use the words white trash shows your lack of regard for the working class. Remember you used the word, not me.

Secondly, the people who voted for Trump overwhelmingly, were not necessarily in those areas 'full' of immigrants. And were not those who were having their jobs 'taken away' necessarily either. And it's people like you of course that are employing the illegal migrants, so as to make more profit. Something you conveniently ignore, preferring to call them 'elites' as if somehow they're all socialists or something. Not too clever that Charles although you probably think it was.

Thirdly, as I said the BEST estimates show that Trump did not get anywhere near 30% of the Hispanic vote. Closer to 18%. It's a shame you jumped on the first numbers you came across as usual Charles without doing some more in depth research. But that's just you. Even if he did win close to 30%, that's just the typical Republican figure for Hispanics. You have to remember that the Cubans in Florida with their insane hatred of the Cuban regime would contribute a fair whack of this.

Fourthly, more than half the Hispanic population of the US lives in three states, all of which have traditionally had large populations of Hispanics from the start. And then there is Florida of course which is a slightly different case. So the culture is endemic there and not actually taking anyone over. You could probably make a case for white culture diluting Hispanic culture over time in these places.

And lastly, I never said there was no contribution to Trump's victory from the immigration issue. Just that there were others – you will notice I said oversimplifying or some such. Well, you probably didn't because you just went on an insulting rave.

Bushbaptist said...

@ jh;

http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/breitbart.com

"Breitbart.com is a right-wing news site which operates out of the U.S., London, Cairo, and Jerusalem. Well, we say news, it's more like the unwanted love child of Fox News and /pol/ who serves as an America Pravda for Donald Trump and others like him. "Screaming hateful absurdities" might be more appropriate. It was founded by Andrew Breitbart, whose death launched a bunch of idiot conspiracy theories among people who lost the ability to debate coherently a long time ago.
It is inadvisable to use Breitbart as a source, though it does help when discussing how horrifying Stephen "Lenin" Bannon is.[1] It's called Breitbart because the name Bannon would be too telling: Steve is basically David Duke with a little more smarts, a Goldman guy with Seinfeld money who bought the outlet to push his agenda. There is no doubt that he will be successful — in destroying the Republican Party.
Amazing how a previously right-wing rag which was a notch below WorldNetDaily has become a major news outlet for "socially liberal" Reddit. Breitbart is building an army of unemployed twenty-somethings who will be the future of America. So no, they are not going away soon."

From here: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Breitbart.com

Surely jh you can get better sources than that! Here's a suggestion try to get your info from official sites not blogs, not even this one (sorry Chris!).

Victor said...

Of course, many (perhaps most) of the people voting for Trump were not particularly economically disadvantaged. A majority of Whites, voted for him, as did 48% of those "earning" in excess of US $250,000 per annum.

Moreover, the economically disadvantaged Rust Belt states tended also to be electoral battlegrounds where, typically, just a few percentage points put Trump over the finishing line ahead of Hillary. Things may well have been different had she spent more time campaigning in them. One of the many mysteries of the last few months is why she didn't.

Meanwhile, the very poorest (mainly but not exclusively Black and Latino) tended to vote for Hillary, as, of course, did a plurality of all those voting.

So, seeing this as simply a revolt of the exploited may be a bit wide of the mark, except to the extent that we all, with varying degrees of good reason, tend to consider ourselves hard put upon.

Race, immigration, sexual politics and a generalised sense of the times being out of joint all impacted on the result, as, to no small extent, did the widespread and only partially justified animus against Hillary, as further fanned by the FBI in the campaign's final week.

Even so, Trump achieved a lower score than either Romney in 2012 or McCain in 2008. How would he have fared against Bernie or against Joe Biden?

A further thought is that only once since 1952 has either party been able to hold onto the White House for more than two terms (i.e. Reagan/Bush). So, despite demographics increasingly favouring the Democrats and despite positive wage growth for those in employment, this was likely to be a Republican year.

This, though, is not just any old Republican victory but a cacophonous, fascistoid triumph of bile, prejudice, bullying, mentally vacant posturing and (incredibly visible)narcissism.

Furthermore, if the voices on talkback radio here in New Zealand are anything to go by, our common civilization has just taken a massive step backwards. Those on the left who think otherwise seem to have fallen victim to the patently obvious fallacy that, just because things are terrible, they can't get worse.

Finally, dear feminist sisters, I have always accepted your claims to equality but have never, hitherto, seen your cause as mine. All that has changed in the last few weeks. At the age of 70, for what it's worth, I get it and I'm with you.

Patricia said...

Personally, I think it is money or the lack thereof rather than immigration itself. I certainly don't agree with open borders. Any immigration has to be controlled. But if people are in debt up to their eyeballs and their jobs have been taken then they blame those who are different. And they vote for those who say they will remedy the situation. Up to now our immigration has been mostly from Europe and because we are similar in our cultures it has mostly been successful. But if you add a very different mix then you can get chaos. All people love their family but the way that is interpreted in each culture is very different. The Saudi people think we treat women very badly as we do them. It just cannot work to allow people of very different cultures into a country and think it will all be sweetness and light. I wonder what the Maori think of letting a large number of immigrants in each year. They haven't done well out of the European coming here. No indigenous people in the world have done well. So perhaps what happened to them might happen to us. Our culture could be destroyed. And it is all for the economics of eternal growth. How about eternal maintenance instead?

Anonymous said...

Patricia

The largest recent group of immigrants to the US consists of people of Roman Catholic heritage, with a tradition of large monogomous families and who speak a Latin-based European language.

They are, in other words, very similar culturally to the "huddled masses" from Europe,who were the grandparents and great-grandparents of a vast percentage of the current US population.

Moreover, they have settled in large measure in areas where many of the place names are of Spanish origins and where established Hispanic populations have been around for longer than the Anglophones.

They are not agents of "chaos" nor are they particularly alien or unassimilable. They are merely a bit darker than the norm and like their food a bit hotter.

Polly. said...

Patricia, whilst appreciating the points you are making, you are not living in America.
Americans and a high degree of so-called white Americans supported Donald Trump because he raised and said he would stop open borders to illegal and legal immigration.
Chris Trotter is right about the points he has made re our health system, go to any hospital in Auckland and look at the queues waiting for any service, it is mostly immigrant legal or illegal queuing for free medical service.
We need to close our borders now.
We need to stop kicking our own people.
We need political parties and politicians to join Winston in saying NO, enough is enough.

Ripper said...

I wonder who the bright spark 'strategist' was - who was probably paid a substantial fee for his/her 'advice' - and who told Clinton: 'Don't worry about the Rust Belt, we've got it in the bag'.

Patricia said...

Anonymous

I don't think any group of people is "an agent of chaos" but chaos can occur when very different values are intermixed. There is no trouble even with that if you control immigration. But immigration must be controled in number and where people are to live for it to work.

Victor said...

I seem to have posted the 03.12 item anonymously. This was not my intention. Blame it on late night blogging whilst listening to news of aftershocks.

May I add that, although I don't necessarily believe that genetics bring with them an additional claim to the decent treatment to which all humans should be entitled, the fact remains that most Hispanic Americans also have a dollop of pre-Colombian in their DNA. So who's the immigrant?

Patricia said...

Might I recommend a new post on this very subject on golemxiv.co.uk

Victor said...

Patricia

Despite the impression given by your earlier post, you might not yourself think of immigrants as agents of chaos. But Trump does, or at least purports so to do.

My point, though, was that Hispanic immigrants in the US are merely continuing the process that has given birth to that country's contemporary population and are, actually, very similar people to the grandparents and great-grandparents of mainstream Americans, with remarkably similar values.

Moreover, unlike the ancestors of much of the mainstream, some Hispanics have been there for many centuries and are rather more American than is the proverbial cherry pie.

There may well be valid arguments against importing vast numbers of people of a very different culture to a country. But humanity, good sense and concern for social harmony should all prevent us making such arguments an excuse for violence-enabling fascistic bigotry of the Trump sort.

Moreover, whether or not they are valid in some cases,these arguments do not, as I have explained above, seem to apply to the example at hand.

Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Monica, San Antonio, Tuscon, Tulsa, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Sacramento, San Bernadino, Amarillo!

I rest my case!


Polly

I think the point Chris was making was that we're lucky to have our state-funded health sector and not that the wrong sort of folks were benefiting from it.

And, by the way, when I go to any hospital in Auckland, I'm normally struck by the diverse origins of the people working there.

jh said...

Kiwis threatened with knife in California amidst wave of race-fuelled post-election violence in the US

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy called the abuse "a real wake up call for us to never go remotely down any path that gives people some kind of validation to behave like that".

"We have seen Brexit, and now America: Kiwis must not be so naive to think it could never happen here. The only thing ensuring it could never happen here are everyday New Zealanders."

"We must stand up for each other. If you see someone being abused or attacked, do something – like the man at Countdown Mt Roskill who ignored the man who told him to run over a Muslim woman shopper and instead got out of his car to help her."

"We're heading to an election ourselves next year and I call on every politician to reject racist dog-whistle politics and to act with mana and respect people no matter what their ethnicity happens to be."
http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/86394667/kiwis-threatened-with-knife-in-california-amidst-wave-of-racefuelled-postelection-violence-in-the-us

The high rate of immigration is a national disaster. It is lowering the present and future living standards of New Zealanders by serious adverse economic, social and environmental consequences.

o Excessive, low value immigration is a disaster. It boosts GDP, so is politically attractive, but increases housing demand and prices, is causing serious social problems, puts pressure on Government spending AND, most importantly, reduces the living standards of New Zealanders. Building more houses for more people who don’t add economic value just digs a deeper hole!
http://www.interest.co.nz/opinion/82115/kerry-mcdonald-analyses-many-challenges-country-faces-and-concludes-we-need-effective

According to Paul Spoonley Kerry McDonald's views should not be reported:
defining identity and creating citizens : the media and immigrants in new zealand -


Guerilla Surgeon said...

Well if I can make sense of that incoherent mass of links and quotes? You realise your friend Bannon from Breitbart has been appointed to Trump's transition team, and may well get a responsible job in the administration. Someone who is a misogynist – like Trump – and a notorious anti-Semite and general crazy person. Perhaps now you'll stop posting articles from Breitbart as sources of evidence? Of course not but I have to try.

Victor said...

GS

I think what jh is arguing is that, if the Kiwi had not been in California but had left it to the Californians (whoever they are), he wouldn't have been threatened by a knife.

But I may be misinterpreting him.

greywarbler said...

Just remembered a political commentary that haven't heard much of lately.
The Simpsons on illegal immigrants.
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEux8I2wMY0

Not speak the English?
“Now Marge, just remember, if something goes wrong at the plant, blame the guy who can't speak English. Ah, Tibor, how many times have you saved my butt?”
―Homer Simpson

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/mar/17/simpsons-president-trump-prediction-was-meant-as-warning-to-us
Simpsons writer says President Trump episode was 'warning to US'
Writer of Bart to the Future episode, aired almost exactly 16 years ago, says idea was consistent with vision of US ‘going insane’

jh said...

No what I'm saying is Susan Devoy is talking about an election and we shouldn't be making immigration an issue. She wants to warn people off. Nevertheless it is an issue.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"But I may be misinterpreting him." Not at all difficult to do. JH if that's what you meant why the hell did you just say that. It would have saved a lot of the pixels which died for my reply.

Anonymous said...

Don't we have to make a strong distinction between being anti-immigration and anti-immigrant? Immigrants already in New Zealand are New Zealanders. They are overwhelmingly very nice people. However we do not want to become another overcrowded country like most of the old world and there is a point at which minorities are big enough to start organising ethnically and this is liable to lead to political problems -- as anyone looking at the post-imperial history of Eastern Europe and the middle east can see. If the left wing doesn't start taking up the cause, the right wing will do it. Labour parties have always had to fight against employer interests in importing third world labour. New Zealand would never have been an egalitarian country if immigration had been unrestricted in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Don't we have to make a strong distinction between being anti-immigration and anti-immigrant? "

Yes we do. But I don't see the size of the minorities as a problem. There were huge minorities in the US that organised ethnically, and to some extent still do, but they don't seem to have led to political problems. Just perhaps criminal ones. Certainly some of them were corrupt politically, but so was the majority. (And again I have to say gosh I bet the Maori wished they had you advising them round about 1840. No one ever seems to see the irony in that sort of attitude.) I see a couple of problems with immigration, one is that we are importing migrants instead of training our own people to do the jobs that they are imported for. The second one is we are importing people that are not particularly necessary for the economy, like cooks. Lastly we seem to be importing cheap labour, at least farmers seem to be importing cheap labour, when they should maybe be raising wages to the point where unemployed people want to do the damn job. Or even school leavers might consider it as a career. The main problems arise however when someone goes on and on and on about it incoherently in these columns. :)

Anonymous said...

There is the suggestion that the United States failed to develop as a welfare state like other wealthy countries because of the waves of immigrant minorities through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I think the immigrant flows were cut off by legislation in the 1920s, which is the period when the U.S. did make some steps in that direction. I agree with you about not training New Zealanders, but would add a general lowering of wages and conditions for a lot of the work force, to say nothing of inflating house prices and rents. The Maori plight in 1840 (I would say 1850) shows how quickly the situation can get out of hand, when political power is lost. Many Maori were still hoping to get a town nearby so they could get rich like Ngati Whatua, well into the 1850s. Small numbers of immigrants have brought large benefits to New Zealand -- new industries, connections for trade, special skills.