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Sunday, May 25, 2008

"Flat-Out Anti-Immigrant Fearmongering"

Joe Klein is unhappy with CNN:

Lou Demagogue, by Joe Klein: ...I've got to wonder why [CNN] allows Lou Dobbs to continue spewing false, inflammatory nonsense under the guise of objective journalism. Here is his latest confrontation with Paul Waldman of Media Matters about the fictional NAFTA superhighway. Indeed, the Washington Post's Fact Checker gave the NAFTA Superhighway myth four Pinocchios. Now, I know that Dobbs brings in some serious ratings. And he is certainly entitled to his own opinion. But he is not entitled to his own facts--especially not on a network that makes a real effort to separate truth from falsehood and represent all sides of the political debate. Shouldn't someone be editing this swill? Doesn't CNN have a responsibility to tell its viewers that, in this case, one of their presenters is engaged in flat-out anti-immigrant fearmongering? Perhaps the network could employ a simple superimposed title--THIS IS NOT TRUE...or LOU HAS JUMPED THE SHARK ON THIS ONE--whenever Dobbs pretends that there is such a thing as the NAFTA Superhighway. This sort of thing diminishes the credibility and hard work of the other journalists on the network. (And no, I do not count the execrable Glenn Beck as a journalist.)

I don't mean to include every individual in a sweeping statement, but Joe Klein's baseline opinion of CNN appears to be higher than mine. I agree, though, that Lou Dobbs is a downward drag from whatever starting point is assumed.

Markets find a way to work no matter how hard governments work to stop them (see drugs), and with the difference in opportunity as large as it is between the US and Mexico, illegal immigration will continue to be a problem. Sure, we can get tough and reduce the flow of illegal workers, crack down on employers, put illegal workers in jail, but for those who are still engaged in the activity it will become more brutal, more violent, and those who make it here to work will be subjected to much worse working conditions than they already are as people work as hard as they can to conceal their activity. The bigger the penalties if they are caught, the more they will be willing to do to prevent discovery and it will be the workers trying to escape poverty who will bear the brunt of the effort to keep things underground. I'm not saying we shouldn't enforce immigration law, but we need to recognize the consequences of intensified enforcement, and do our best to make the punishment fit the crime of trying to escape from difficult conditions at home.

The only long-term solution is for opportunity to increase in Mexico, for Mexico to develop economically. That's the only thing that, ultimately, will substantially reduce the flow of illegal workers without draconian measures. That means, in part, accepting that some companies will need to move to Mexico, it means building highways between the US and Mexico, etc. The politics of such a policy aren't easy, but we have to do more to help Mexico develop economically if we want to solve this problem - it's in the long-run interest of both countries that we do so. Thus, this needs to be on our political agenda - what will we do to help Mexico to develop? How can we help them to help themselves? Instead of spending money building fences, why not spend it helping to create opportunity for Mexicans in Mexico? Instead of working so hard to keep people out, why not focus more of our efforts on giving them an economic incentive to stay home? We'll all be better off if we do that.

    Posted by on Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 12:24 PM in Economics, Press | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (60)

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