Monday, January 04, 2016

immigrating with the bard

The three crones in Macbeth may have had it right:
When the hurly-burly's done,When the battle's lost and won.
That about sums up my relief in being south of the border for this American presidential election.  I suppose I can say that about almost all northern politics.  It is a joy to be away from all of the nonsense.  Or, at least, most of it.

It is very easy to get a distorted view of the subtleties of American politicking here on the Mexican Pacific coast.  I get most of my news from The Economist and National Review -- two publications that share a rational view of life even though their politics are quite different from one another.

I fell into this trap during the debate over Obamacare.  According to those two publications (and The American Spectator), there were a multitude of alternative ways to remedy some of the more egregious failings of the American health care system.  Options were compared and discussed in the type of logical discourse one would expect to find at the finer dining tables in Chelsea.

When I went north for an extended stay in 2010, I was shocked at the reality of the discussion coming from both the White House and Congress -- and the public.  What I thought was a garden party discussion had turned into a skid row bar fight.

And, as the late great Yogi Berra may have said (but probably didn't): "It's like déjà vu all over again."

I just read a very well-reasoned article on immigration -- one of the big issues in this year's campaign.  I do not necessarily agree with the conclusions of the author (Reihan Salam), but his approach to the issue makes a good deal of sense. 

Using statistics and immigration studies, he walks his readers through the positive aspects of immigration and the down-sides of an immigration policy that is slanted in favor of low-skilled workers that will depress wages for the recently-arrived immigrants with the same skill sets.

His answer is an immigration policy based on the model used by Canada and Australia -- opening immigration to potential citizens who have the skill sets that America will need to remain economically competitive in the 21st century.  As I say, I am not completely won over by the conclusion, but I was impressed with the analysis.

What impressed me is that I have not heard a single presidential candidate propose any policy that contains that type of logical analysis.  Instead, we get bumper sticker responses from both political parties.

In my ivory tower in Mexico, I have been a bit shocked at the popularity of Donald Trump among Republicans and Bernie Sanders among Democrats.  I shouldn't be.  Both candidates have dipped into the mother lode of anger and distrust that Americans naturally have of establishment politicians.  That anger has come to a boil over the past 16 years.

As a result, voters are primed to buy Trump's reality television boasts that immigration can be solved by building a wall (with a giant door) between America and Mexico, or the equally questionable Sanders nostrum that a similar wall built around the entire country (metaphorically) will magically solve America's job and manufacturing problem.

I know that this is not the only political campaign where rational people have wept.  It all started with the election of 1800, and nothing has improved much since then.

So, I will live in my cosseted world with my rational publications and studies believing what could be.  And I will leave the reality to others.  I can always hope that whoever is elected will have the sense to govern more rationally than he (or she) has campaigned.  But I know the truth of that, as well.

After all, Shakespeare (in the same play) summed it up far better than the rest of us could:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.

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