Today’s installment of the Trump side show is the sturm-und-drang around his alleged description of Haiti and some African nations as “shitholes,” in regard to a proposal to offer special protections for immigrants from those countries. Trump allegedly opined he’d rather have people from places like Norway.

He’s got it exactly backwards.

Who’d you rather have as a new neighbor? Would you prefer someone from a country steeped in a high-taxation, welfare- and nanny-state mentality, who’d come here and complain about how America doesn’t offer all the “good things” his nation does? Or someone who is escaping a shithole, who sees that a path to a better life is in a place where there’s opportunity to work, to be entrepreneurial, to actually be able to reap the fruits of his labor?

The latter is the mentality of countless millions of immigrants who came to America in the first half of the 20th century, and it is what we should want. Yes, yes, I know the standard rebuttal about sponging off the welfare state, but if that’s your concern , then you should attack the welfare state, not immigrants from “shitholes.”

Yes, Trump shoved his ham hock into his mouth again. Even on the small chance that this quote is fabricated (the White House is denying the specific language), it’s just another example of our President’s impolitic ways (to put it generously). And, yes, the outcome is the standard leftist pearl-clutching vapors and the standard Trumpist what-abouts, fake-news denigrations, and other forms of spin. And, yes, once again, the mania over what he said overshadows the policy matter itself. And on this, the nativists and the liberal contrarians whose ideas are merely the negative image of the nativists’ both continue to get it wrong.

Want your social security when you retire? Guess what, the country needs more people of working age for that to come true. Want your economy to continue to grow? Guess what – the ascent of immigrants up the economic ladder is fundamental to that desire. This is a nation of immigrants, immigrants who came here seeking better lives than the ones available in their home lands. And, there has forever been a desire, a desire often most fervently expressed by the last people in, to shut the door. It was a mistake then, it’s a mistake now.

Certainly, some prudence is warranted. As I’ve written before, even I, an open-borders libertarian, believe that a nation is not a nation if it does not control who comes goes and goes. And, as I’ve quoted before,

I would let anybody in who will make the country better, and no one who will make it worse. — Charles Koch

That doesn’t mean restricting immigration to the rich, or the highly-skilled, or the well-educated. Even an unskilled worker, and by “worker” I mean someone who wants to work, contributes to the economy. Wealth is created even by manual laborers. Yes, by all means, lets pay attention to whom we admit, but lets not simply argue that immigrants from poor or crime-ridden countries are de facto criminals or leeches. That’s simply not true.

In the restaurant I ran for 20 years, I had the opportunity to employ countless immigrants (it was a function of the neighborhood’s demographic). This included many Central Americans, many Eastern Europeans, and more than a few Middle-Easterners. Many were educated, but many were not. Some of the hardest workers I encountered were people from poor countries, who had little in the way of learning, but who had a strong desire to improve their lives. And, in doing so, in working, they not only benefited themselves, but added value to our nation’s economy.

In this case, Trump’s error is not merely in his coarse language, but in his view on immigration itself.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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