The National Death Wish

Two senators with a recipe for American stagnation.

Comments: 202

  1. It is not often that I agree with David Brooks, but kudos on this one David. I would simply add three points.

    First, the GOP's desire to seriously restrict immigration would not only be bad for our economy. It would also shut off a key factor that can help ensure the long term fiscal strength of Social Security and Medicare. As our native-born population ages, we need more young people to pay into the system, and immigrants who come here, pay taxes, and create jobs are exactly the younger people we need.

    Second, Houston is one example of the success of immigration, but it is far from the only one. NYC has long been a vibrant, thriving city in large part because of its status as a city filled with immigrants. California's immigrant population has grown substantially over the past 20 years and, with it, crime has gone down and the economy has thrived.

    Finally, Sen. Cotton and Perdue's attempts to limit "legal" immigration gives lie to the claim from Republicans that they aren't xenophobic but, instead, are only opposed to "illegal" immigration. Republican rhetoric against immigrants have always shown that claim to be false. Now Cotton and Perdue have helped confirm it, just as Confederate (sorry, Attorney) General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III's praise for the 1924 anti-immigration law did. Far too many in the GOP are simply irrationally scared of a demographically evolving nation.

  2. I think a lot of people living in non-urban areas simply prefer the quality of life. As Americans -- black, white, ethnic -- gain wealth, they generally prefer to move out of the concrete, box living, into something with trees, lawns, open areas, and more natural beauty. The city is a rat race, where even the "winners" remain in rats' cage. They work and work and work, for what? A weekend of quiet bliss in their country cottages? Fresh, expensive, food from Whole Foods or farmers' markets? A decent cut of fresh fish, or meat? A breath of fresh air, and a place where their children can run and play openly, in forests, fields and on lakes and rivers in the summer?

    You don't have to be rich in the country to access those things. Nor to be able to afford housing, or to build a family. So long as the work is there -- good, honest work doing jobs that need to be done -- people like to be self-supporting, they don't all need to be "rich" or have the most...

    I suspect, when Mr. Brooks retires, he too will live in "white" places, if he doesn't already. The answer is to make the country more accessible to others, who might want to relocate. The answer is not to force everyone to race around like a rat, selling out their brothers and sisters to survive. What kind of life is that?

  3. "For the life of me, I can’t figure out why so many Republicans prefer a dying white America..." Mr. Brooks, you know precisely why "Republicans prefer a dying white America."

    Who are Republicans? Well, they're mostly white; financially solvent; politically conservative (whatever that really means); scratch the surface of the word and all manner of ugly things slither out from underneath, snapping and biting: repression of minority rights (voting; employment; housing; education). They seek to limit the freedom of choice(s) for women. A savage, autocratic control of their bodies rides uppermost in conservative thinking about "family" dynamics: they crucify women on the cross of abortion but bludgeon the child after it's born with evangelical zeal. You know, Mr. Brooks, the sort of laundry that comes out of the wash not quite clean; that conceals itself inside the covers of the Bible, most of which begin with "Thou shall not...", all directed at those far removed from living "white America." It's a grim place for the 99%, most of whom are not threatened by immigrants whose taxes, Mr. Brooks, help to lubricate a working society, like roads, bridges, airports, electrical grids, water, schools. They keep your river flowing. And immigrants don't arrive on our shores with Uzis and assault weapons strapped to their shoulders. Do they?

    No, Mr. Brooks. To "dying white America," immigrants are another group ripe for oppression and exploitation. It's the Republican way. Isn't it?

  4. You might as well wish they were not Republicans. If they were not, they would not be proposing stupid laws and lying about why they are proposing them and what the effect will be from the new law.

    Republicans in Congress lie. The President lies. The White House spokesman lies. The Attorney General lies. The Majority Leader of the Senate lies. Advisors to the President go on news shows and lie. There is no end to this mass contagion of lying by the Republicans.

  5. You left out hypocrisy - they are all hypocrites!

  6. what about the empty suited speaker of the republican house

  7. I don't pretend to be a jobs expert. But I now this. The countries that are most restrictive about immigration are the wealthiest ones. The US accepts a very low number of immigrants, proportionately. The same is true of Western Europe. Clearly, wealthy countries around the world believe that the more immigrants they admit, the more economic harm to he people.

  8. Whenever Senator Cotton takes a position, like repealing Obamacare without replacement, it inevitably harms his state's residents. Why, oh why, is this educated idiot in the Senate?

  9. Labor voted for Reagan, Bush 1(compassionate conservatism) vetoed a modest rise in the minimum wage , Bush 2 created a phony war sending innocents to early graves.

    We never learn.

  10. Oh why oh why do they keep re-electing him? One of the conundrums of our system...

  11. Why is Cotton elected? It is because what he says and does appeals to the voters in that state. You may not agree, and I may not agree, but they do. If Progressives expect to make any further headway in this country, they are going to have to pay more attention to campaign platforms that do more than preach to the choir.

  12. "A dying white America" starts with getting rid of Obamacare. Yesterday Vice President Pence gleefully assured Americans that the ACA nightmare is all but over, a major thrust of this administration's agenda. He didn't offer an alternative for families that would be crippled by the loss of their health insurance.

    Also, immigrants have always been eager to do jobs that Americans have no use for, such as cleaning homes, offices and doing the menial labor that is beneath the dignity of many Americans. Immigrants are willing to take the table scraps of the job market and use them to make better lives for themselves and provide financial help to their families back home. Senators Cotton and Perdue just want to stanch the brown flow of immigration from Central and South America. Mexico is only the geographical conduit for Latino arrivals in the country but the president had no problem about smearing and demeaning an entire country's citizens about whom he knows nothing.

    Further, Republicans have no interest in any culture or society that's built around welcoming immigrants. Law abiding immigrants who are also highly patriotic and hardworking give lie to the president's and the GOP's hard line attitudes towards immigrants. This president and his party can't get his wall built fast enough.

  13. The other point that is lost on the Republicans is that not all immigrants are in or aspire to be in the lumpenproletariat. Look at the people who 45's sudden ban stopped from entering -- many doctors, professors, engineers. Whatever else may be true, they aren't stealing jobs from people with high school educations.

  14. Your last paragraph says it all. It has always been about immigration not just illegal aliens. They were just the entry way to make folks feel good not confronting what they really felt. Just ask an accomplished doctor, professor, professional etc from any developing country who has given their all to America as an immigrant and paid top shelf taxes.

    With their background, they are still seen as second class citizens. It's not all about low wage workers

  15. Was Cesar Chavez a racist? I dare you to answer that question and to research his views on open borders. Also, where will the jobs for the entire third world be once automation engulfs the few remaining companies still in the US. Then, read the following article, please:

  16. David, we're going to make a progressive out of you yet. It just took your party going completely insane to do it. Welcome.

  17. He won't. Republicans like Brooks are party before country. He is a columnist. He can't be voted out so he can go on his merry way occasionally criticizing Republicans, but the moment they might lose to a Democrat he will go right back to peddling the lies and violence demamded by the GOP.

  18. Always count on the south for the worst ideas imaginable. Texas and South Carolina lead the way.

    Still, give credit where it's do. Immigration is a perfect phony issue to distract the rubes as the 1% continue to pick the their pockets.

    Utopia is just around the corner for Cotton and Perdue: no taxes for the rich, while the rest can work without hope, bathroom breaks, or health insurance.

  19. Skipped over the section on Houston, did you? Or does welcoming immigrants from more than 100 countries qualify as another of the South's terrible ideas?

  20. Immigration is phony but Transsexuals, a group that represent less than .5% of the population is an issue of our time.

    I hope the Dems keep this up they may never get back in power.

  21. Tito, declaring this doesn't make it true, but you are really substituting the word "liberal" for something else, aren't you?

  22. "For the life of me, I can’t figure out why so many Republicans prefer a dying white America to a place like, say, Houston."
    David concocts illogical pretzels to justify his fellow CPAC Republican's "go along to get along" with Trump. Starting with a comparison of Red states to Red states, and finding fault in Republican's twisted logic. Perhaps David's mantra should be a take off on an 60's hit: "It's my Republican party and I'll die with it if I want to..." Brooks apparent use of logic and common sense is predicated on the notion that fellow Republicans are capable of logic and common sense, so if today's mild admonition on immigration policy is intended to respond to Trump's "round 'em up and throw 'em out," executive actions, then his piece is in effect intent on serving to normalize Trump--the radical reactionary authoritarian. Perhaps David's end note is the beginning of a new series of essays, ones based on another bit of twisted logic, ""Static mind-set/slow-growth/zero-sum liberals from the 1970's and how Trump reminds me of Jimmy Carter .'

  23. It's sad to think of how many wasted days of opportunity to truly innovate with the greatest voices of innovation and social progress, this administration and senate majority leaders are passing up. Days of solution building are hemmoraging as ignorance and chaos are preferred. Thankfully true social solutions sell themselves and need no spin. Our news outlets need to shine the brightest spotlight on where diversity is enriching our nation. It's not hard to find.

  24. Mr. Brooks is rather selective in his criticism and relates to only one aspect of the proposed bill:

    "The current immigration system .... empowers immigrants to bring in an unlimited number of relatives....In contrast, the RAISE Act would retain visa preferences for the immediate families of citizens and green card holders seeking to come in, while eliminating preferences for extended and adult family members that are currently on the books.

    Right now, if someone gains a visa based on a desired skill, he can not only bring over his wife and children, but his brothers, sisters, cousins, parents, in-laws … the list goes on. Once those extended family members have permanent residence status, they can also bring in other members of THEIR extended family. This phenomenon is known as 'chain migration.' What this means, in practice, is a system where roughly 65 percent of America’s annual immigration is based on family ties, rather than skills and other potential benefits to our economy and country."

    I do not know if the proposed bill is good or bad, but any discussion should relate to all aspects of the bill and not just to one point taken in isolation.

  25. You can't chain migrate on a job visa ... not even on the "high skill" ones like H1B. You can bring your spouse but they can't work, which makes for a sad state at home where one of you is reduced to being half a member of society.

    You emphatically cannot bring your parents siblings or any other relatives on any kind of work visa. They can always get tourist visas but they can already do that.

    Spouses of green card holders can invite their spouse into their green card application and after a year or two of processing the spouse may start working . Again no chaining allowed.

  26. Thank you OH for debunking the carefully cultivated nonsensical myth that work visas, including H1B's are a source of "chain immigration" of (naturally) brown and yellow people dragging along (of course) countless children and relatives . I really do not know what the more advanced technological industries in this country would do without these men and women .

    One small correction, if I may : you say that "Spouses of green card holders can invite their spouse...." I believe you meant "Green card holders can invite their spouse...etc" .

  27. I am certain that Senators Cotton and Perdue are pandering to the folks who prefer that there be no more `ferriners', and I recognize the economic and cultural perspectives shared here by David Brooks,


    I, personally, do not trust that existing models of economic growth do much more than build trailer parks at one end, gated communities at the other, and more concrete roads and asphalt parking lots for big box stores in between.

    Look, the population in the US rose 50% from 1967 to 2007; 200,000 to 300,000. I care less what what the racial, ethinic and cultural mix has become than what largely free markets do to accommodate this growth.

    Save the EPA, etc..

  28. population of the United States
    1776 2.5 million
    1861 32 million
    1917 103 million
    1950 152 million
    2010 310 million

  29. And almost everyone lives much better than people at the same stage of life did in 1967.

  30. Politicians come of all stripes, some come up through long experience in public administration while others are catapulted into positions of influence through celebrity or popular fancy: wrestlers, singers, dancers, actors, policemen, prosecutors, millionaires. That's democracy and we take the good with the bad.
    The danger comes, as in this case, when these individuals do not do the necessary preparation and analysis before they propose far-reaching legislation.
    The primary example, of course, is Trump. A person with no known preparation in administration, legislation, juridical knowledge, diplomacy is setting about undoing structures that have developed over decades. In these cases, the stability of the
    country is sorely tested and we have to rely on the solidity of our institutions to maintain the balance. So far, the results are uncertain.

  31. "For the life of me I can't imagine why Republicans prefer a dying white America to a place say, like Houston".

    You can't? Are you telling us you are surprised by your party's embrace of "identity politics" as long they're white?

    Mr. Brooks I suggest you change party affiliation. Your columns sound more and more democratic. If George will can do it, why can't you?

    Your point on economic impact of immigration is well taken, but perhaps you need to admit that often times, GOP policy decisions get hijacked by ideology.

    In this case it's Trumpism: economic hysteria over the fear that immigrants, including new ones, are taking American jobs. But Bannon-Trump take it one step further, pushing their "immigration is bad for the economy" as cover for rejection of any newcomer Who doesn't have have a lily white skin.

    There are so many layers to The hijacking of the Republican Party by Trump that it makes my head spin. Watching a news wrap up of CPAC highlights hypocrisy in full bloom, as big words replace small ones to hide the real agenda of Bannon-Trump.

    "For the life of me" I don't know why officials at CPAC threw Richard spencer out of the room--if it was to make us think they don't condone white nationalism, it failed. Bigly.

    Immigrants strengthen America, not weaken it. Without them, America never would become great in the first place. Try telling that to your spineless GOP as they blindly follow Trump over a cliff.

    Welcome to the Democratic Party, David.

  32. "Welcome to the Democratic Party, David" . Not so fast, Christine !

    The Democratic Party in its present state is in no position to regain governing power . Granted that it gathers more popular votes (by a very significant margin) in national elections,but it fails to translate this in Congressional and Senatorial seats, governorships and State Assembly seats .

    To reverse the trend, it will have to appeal beyond its traditional base, which is somewhat depleted in a number of States, and to attract not only independents but also "rational" (read traditional) Republicans . To reach them it sorely needs people like David Brooks who, within the Republican Party, can to speak truth to crazy power and are credible in doing so .

    Am I a hopeless optimist ? Perhaps, but if David were to change his party affiliation, he would lose a great deal of credibility with the very people whom he needs to reach and - fingers crossed - convince .

    All wisdom does not reside in one party . Think of "Democrats" like Joe Manchin .

  33. @pgd, Thailand: You didn't read between the lines and see my sarcasm. David Brooks is poking holes in the very arguments of his peers, those he was only too happy to agree with when "traditional" GOP officials were in power. I felt like tweeking him, as the more he critiques the Trump Administration, the more he sounds like, well--me. Or at best, Joe Manchin!

  34. A better than average column from a classic GOP enabler, until he couldn't resist a sneer against liberals in the final paragraph.

  35. Sorry, you are absolutely wrong on this. I have been in construction and raised in a construction household my entire life. When I was young construction workers were highly valued and earned higher wages than most public employees. The men, woman were still expected to be mothers, had a sense of self worth from having earned enough to live the American Dream, a secure house, education for their children, vacation time, and health care that they could afford, as well as a sense that they would be able to retire comfortably one day. The work has not changed, but the value of the worker has. In my neighborhood there was doctors, Corporate Executives, Postal workers, construction workers, you name it. It was a cohesive society in which what you did mattered, but who you were mattered as well, and the division of wealth was still there, but not sufficient enough to segregate the community. All children went to the same schools and played together in the same streets. The devaluation of the value of labor occurred the same way it was earned. Labor unions cost the sacrifice of many, and was lost by the negligence of many. You want to emulate the German workforce? They are no different from us, but they still have the respect of the German Corporate leaders and professional society. Our laborers do not, and it is our Political, Corporate, and Professional leaders fault that they do not. The well off in our society feed on the less fortunate and feel no shame.

  36. David Putnam's book 'Our Kids' speaks likewise of this societal problem, and it's important.

  37. Ed, I'm sure that much of what you say is true. But I don't see any connection to immigration. The story you are telling is one of increasing power, wealth, and respect flowing to the top one percent. It's driven not by immigration but by union-busting, failure to enforce antitrust laws, repeated tax cuts for the wealthy, and other antiworker policies.

  38. The work has changed. There is more that can be done with machines and automated efficiency, so fewer workers are needed. You are right about society's perception of value of manual labour though, which is why the automation has occurred and displaced the labourer whose job can be automated. In the future, no job will be secure. The entire idea of working for money needs to change.

  39. The irony, of course is that a President and a Party that likes to claim knowing something about business keeps showing time and time again that they don't know even the first thing about economics. Given their ignorance about everything else that shouldn't come as much of a surprise.

    Raising taxes on Mexican imports doesn't mean Mexico is paying for a wall; Cutting taxes don't automatically pay for themselves; a tax cut for the wealthy will not buy people health insurance; top down economics doesn't lift all people; and stemming immigration for a nation built on immigration won't make you safe or get you a job with higher pay.

    America is a nation of immigrants. It is the essence of whatever greatness we can claim. It is at the core of our economic success. It is the essence of our heart and soul as a people. The notion that you can cut off the life blood of what we are without also cutting into who we are and do so based on unmitigated and mindless hate is idiocy of the worst sort.

  40. David, this is your Republican Party at work.

  41. They're a couple of narrow-minded idiots.

  42. Do we really need any more immigration at all?
    The fundamental realities are that technology and automation are causing workers to lose jobs in the long run, but people still need to eat.

    The low-skilled immigrants "taking jobs Americans won't do", I am fine with but, at the same time, these may be the jobs of the future that many Americans will have to do - until those jobs too are replaced by automation.

    As for bringing in highly-skilled immigrants, that won't be happening much either because they come in as temps on H-1B visas or don't even bother leaving their country because they don't need to; they are hired by firms whose work products are intellectual, can be produced anywhere, and live in the cloud. What about the innovation that these immigrants bring? They are still bringing it - via the cloud from their own country and being paid for by American companies for whom they work. So, where does that leave the American skilled worker?

    Basically, American jobs are being outsourced, whether to immigrants, another country, or to automation. These jobs are not being replaced at the rate that they are being lost.

    Furthermore, machines don't pay taxes. Machines don't pay social security. Without workers, who's going to pay these things?

    Until we have a definitive plan going forward for how to take care of people already here (Americans or not), admitting more people into this county only exacerbates the growing employment crisis and its ripples.

  43. Don't close the door on others coming to this great country. Your family wasn't native here (and don't give me that nonsense about neither were the American INdians native since they came here 10,000 years ago). The point is, this country is great because it attracts people who want to WORK for a better life, risk for a better life. To take care of the people who are already here we need a strong and growing economy. that requires workers who will replace retirees and who will help fund social security.

  44. "Until we have a definitive plan going forward for how to take care of people already here . . . "

    It's comical. If only you'd use the same logic on for instance, abortion! There are more abortions than there are immigrants.

    And what makes you think that jobs unemployed people have to do are always low paid no benefits and unsecure against all market forces? What more proof do you need that immigration is proxy for the gop to attack workers while loooking like they're helping the little guy.

    Wake up. As deep throat said: Follow the money.

  45. Guaranteed basic income is coming.

  46. The logic is fine. The problem is that this administration rarely uses any kind of logic, and never in context with any real needs or glaring national risks. The thinking is primitive, insular and on average about 50 years out of date on every subject. It's hard to see any form of coherent management coming out of the haze of cliches, knee jerks and anything but systematic issue handling. Let's face it; the big rebuilds and major projects required to demolish the Rust Belt and the mindset that created it won't come from political hacks.

  47. The answer to your question on why Republicans are doing this is simple. Immigrants tend to vote Democratic. It's another result of putting Party before Country.

  48. We are already seeing the (I hope) unintended consequences of the Party of Trump's xenophobic onslaught against immigrants and immigration. We see it in a potentially devastated tourism industry, in agriculture, hospitality, food services, and, frighteningly, in the hall of our greatest universities. Next will be health and medical services.

    We will survive the Trump/Bannon preservation of white culture at a steep price.

  49. Mr. Brooks article is troubling on a number of fronts. Accordingto an article in Forbes Magazine: “chain migration” is a contrived term that seeks to put a negative light on a phenomenon that has taken place throughout the history of the country – some family members come to America and succeed, and then sponsor other family members.
    It is also troubling that Mr. Forbes employs a relatively new 'newspeak' tactic, that of calling racist and xenophobic Republican Senators "liberal". In what sense and to whom are these guys liberal? Only to someone who wishes to confuse and obfuscate the issues. These guys are reactionary neocons in the most pure sense of the term. Please Mr. Brooks lets call a spade a spade.

  50. Republicans are still selling dog whistles. They pretend it's economic, saying "those people are going to take your jobs". They claim its a matter of values, "these people don't love freedom like we do.". They even declare that America is a Christian nation.

    It's not about that. It's about dividing us in order to get votes. Republicans rely on angry white voters,people who don't consider themselves bigots, but are willing to tolerate bigotry in support of party unity.

    This is why CPAC expelled Richard Spencer and his NeoNazis, called them leftists when they are obvious Trump far right Trump supporters, then praised Steve Bannon, Trump's point man for getting them into the party.

    It's a lie. They know it's a lie, but it's a lie they can live with. It's a lie that let's them think they're still good people.

  51. This is an apt illustration of the folly of trying to make the world conform to an ideology, rather than working with reality. In this case, pols are pandering to the ideology of an under-informed base by selling them scapegoats for their malaise, which is caused by a variety of factors, none of which are the fault of immigrants.

  52. "I wish they had a little more faith...."
    How lilly livered a statement.
    Buck up and take a stand, Mr. Brooks. Your whole column builds up to this ridiculous denouement.
    Tell the Republican Party to shape up and embrace the real world, not the regressive, oppressive world they're thirsting to force on all the people of our country.

  53. Even more ridiculous is the closing claim that Cotton and Perdue are like liberals. This is a conservative tic--note how when the leaders of CPAC decided to denounce the alt-right this week, they publicly described it as a left-wing movement! It would be nice if conservatives occasionally admitted error rather than insisting that any problem in their movement is a sign of infiltration by liberal thinking.

  54. Outstanding essay Mr. Brooks. One if the best of the really outstanding pieces you have been writing since the election.

  55. The promise of American life, the magnet that attracted immigrants and persuaded the native born to accept them, always centered on confidence in relatively rapid, continuous economic growth. Black migrants pouring north early in the last century, as well as eastern Europeans crossing a vast ocean, both responded to a desperate hope that industrial jobs in America's cities would give them a second chance, an opportunity to remake their lives. Failure ran neck and neck with success, but the latter occurred often enough to maintain the flow of new arrivals into the metropolises of the midwest and northeast.

    This movement of peoples shaped our culture and enabled America to renew itself economically, generation after generation. Republicans have always viewed this messy process skeptically, however, largely because both the internal migrants and the immigrants tended to vote Democratic. A new law in 1965 reopened our gates, although the source of immigration shifted to Latin America and, more recently, to Asia and the Middle East.

    Popular reaction to this influx has once again divided along political lines. The GOP tends to favor a filtering process that favors the highly skilled or the rich, while Democrats have adopted a more generous approach. Senators Cotton and Perdue may claim to represent the interests of the working class, but history and their position on other issues strongly suggest a more narrowly partisan motive.

  56. David turn Blue today going after GOP favorite, Tom Cotton. Why not? Cotton is a very well spoken idiot, Cotton nevertheless uses black dye shampoo for his head and beard like water hoping to look Latin and get deported. He was heard saying I'd rather live in Mexico than face another town hall meeting.

  57. David,
    I never saw you as a humor columnist, but you sure gave me a good chuckle today, impressing us with your blue-collar smarts and understanding of the labor market. I like the schtick, a pointy headed, wealthy columnist "mansplaining" to other men how good they really have it.

    This line killed me:
    "A comprehensive study of non-European Union immigrants into Denmark between 1991 and 2008 found that immigrants did not push down wages, but rather freed natives to do more pleasant work."

    Even better than all that pleasant (presumably service-sector, retail) work? Imagine collecting a monthly disability check for almost $800 or $900 per month and you don't have to do ANY work, pleasant or not. Now why can't America's workers just accept how good they've got it, and understand that elitists across the world have no intention of ever paying them more, because we are all serving he wealthy elite around the world now, who know no borders and are always pursing the "good things" in life, experiencing the best of all worlds.

    American workers should just accept they have been sold out and underbid, and that the elites prefer the quality of lower-paid construction, lesser skills and cheaper materials, with no crippling labor regulations that apply to citizens, but not undocumented workers with no legal rights. Elites can always sue when the building defects are noted, years down the road...

    Americans, working or not, just do not know how good their lives of leisure are!

  58. Bingo!

  59. Did you ever try to live on $800 to $900 a month?

  60. And just where can anyone live on $800 to $900 per month except in government subsidized housing. When that goes away as well as food stamps and Medicaid will watching them die in the streets be the new form of entertainment for "those who have?"

  61. Nativism is as old as the republic and as American as Apple pie.

    While the column makes many good points, it could add that if immigration continued as-is, that the US would be one of the few advanced countries not losing population.

    Moreover, because of the one child policy, China's population will decline and the US can significantly narrow the gap, which would be a game changer in many ways to America's advantage.

  62. As someone raised in the 50s and 60s by Republicans in deep-red East Texas who veered to the left in the 70s, I take offense at your slight: 'static mind-set/slow-growth/zero-sum liberals'. What does that even mean???

  63. I wondered about that, too. I think it means (according to Brooks), when Republicans propose bad ideas, it is because they are thinking like liberals. In a few years, he'll be telling us what a tragedy it is The Trump administration, in a fit of liberal pique, built a wall across Texas.

  64. These two Republican Senators,have been involved in "stagnation" before, except it was "ethical", not economic. Tom Cotton was the author of the insidious letter to the leaders of Iran, signed by 47 Republican Senators, which was a malevolent and mendacious attempt to scuttle the Iran nuclear deal. David Perdue, in sordid remarks to the Faith and Freedom Coalition, read a quote from Psalm 109:8, that was interpreted by many, as calling for the early death of President Barack Obama.

  65. this effect is the same effect that any large scale deportation will have.

    these politicians are no different than so many others who choose against their own best interests. for the life of me I can't understand it. can it just be total stupidity? I don't think so.

  66. Two politicians,a role associated with many different doings,un-doings and not doings,present a principle of faith whose factual underpinnings are,at best,not generalizable.No information is given about who they are as people with names;their sensitivities to, awareness of, perceptions,thinking, feelings, judgments,decision making-implemented or not, levels and qualities of learning from what they do or don’t do;never have and never will. Mr. Brooks introduces a series of facts. Not alt-facts.Just some plain,ordinary, hopefully-generalizable and useable ones.Perhaps,even,made-in- America facts.Made by US. Not by them!And that becomes a great flaw.Facts just are.Until new(er) ones change them.Embellish them.Challenge them.Destroy them. Even empower them.Unless IT is not a fact,but a principle of faith.Which are themselves legitimate for the faithful believers.Not by non-believers.Facts,like the unobserved falling tree in the metaphoric-forest, just exist.Perceived-sensed-experienced,or not.How do I know? I don’t know! I just believe this. But there are ways to factualize, which these politico’s, and many others, a-kin to them,the new President, and the Trumpian legions choose not to acknowledge.Helped by a potent, infectious, atmosphere and environment of toxic,willful blindness, deafness and shamelessness. As one moves from generalizable data,to analyzed knowing, to derived understanding, and its ongoing assessments,and,at times, even to needed insights and usable wisdom.

  67. Brooks erroneously seems to take at face value Cotton's statement from the press conference that the attempt to lower immigration is about labor - it's really just the rationale of the day being used to keep out certain ethnicities.

    Actual experience in places like Houston need not intrude into the fact-free zone of GOP'er policy prescriptions.

  68. "For the life of me, I can’t figure out why so many Republicans prefer a dying white America to a place like, say, Houston."

    C'mon, David. You know why this is so. As the song says, it's all about the base, 'bout the base."

  69. You say that you "can’t figure out why so many Republicans prefer a dying white America to a place like, say, Houston." You obviously know that answer, but don't wanat to admit it. You state it in the next paragraph. It is a city with "a culture that welcomes immigrants." But American history is the history of its rejection of immigrants.

    That is because the definition of a fixed, static American culture is always opposed to change by its very nature. If you love the America that you were born into, you don't want it to change. No new cultural influences, religions, or philosophies of life. No new languages, new musical styles, new, weird-tasting food. Just "America"'s mainstream culture - white, Christian, run by men, predicated on the veneration of work and money. Anybody who welcomes the "new" is an unpatriotic, America-hating Progressive. The best country in the world doesn't need "progress," just a doubling-down on what "Americans" call traditional values. Houston must be cleansed by deportation.

    These beliefs about change and a country's culture and composition are, by definition, Conservative. Cotton and Perdue are the rejection of liberalism.

  70. Did you really just use the word "cleansed"!? I am now VERY AFRAID!

  71. Human beings are what they are, and other people have a right to their own values, tastes, and priorities, whether you like it or not.

  72. I do not understand the statement that "American history is the history of its rejection of immigrants." America. as it is today. developed as a consequence of immigration. Canada has the same history and is richer for that in many ways.

  73. “For the life of me, I can’t figure out why so many Republicans prefer a dying white America to a place like, say, Houston.”

    Oh – I can. Because they're white supremacists who know enough to disguise their white supremacy in economic terms: more jobs, higher wages, and economic growth.

    This is not to say that Republicans always use lame economic "arguments" to rationalize all of their terrible policies. Sometimes they use raw, naked politics – for example, extreme gerrymandering is “justified” by their trying to stay in power. Other times, they accidentally tell the truth, as the chair of the Republican party in Montana, Jeff Essmann, just did when he told Republicans in an email to favor polls over mail ballots because the latter would lead to more votes being cast and therefore more Democrats being elected.

    For Republicans, the white Christians were here first, it is therefore their country, brown immigrants and the progeny of African-born slaves have been a nuisance rather than a blessing, and it’s time finally to return to our roots – white roots, that is. All falsehoods, of course.

    I was about to close with their never admitting all this, but Richard Spencer has been admitting all this for quite some time. And they can throw him out of CPAC all they want. He was there, he was invited, he is popular, and the Republicans - esp. Donald - increasingly need people like him to win elections. So they own these alt-right/alt-fact meanies, both politically and ideologically.

  74. So based upon an N of 1 (Houston), America should open its borders to everyone. Hardly a compelling argument and a poor example of how to make sound economic and social policy. Regarding the construction industry, if the Federal Reserve would start doing its job again by raising short-term interest rates back to the inflation rate plus three percent, there would be no labor shortage of construction workers.

  75. That is simply not true. The construction workers are not there. So many managers tell me this on jobs. Brooks is right that the financial bust really hammered those in construction. By the way, this bust happened under Bush. Construction companies do not want to take out more loans, they want good workers who work for a decent wage, and they are not there.

  76. Says Earl: "If the Federal Reserve would start doing its job again by raising short term interest rates back to the inflation rate plus three percent, there would be no labor shortage of construction workers". That's your solution to labor shortages? Kill an industry? Your "solution" and mindset just proved Brooks' point.

  77. Charles: the managers are LYING, because they WANT to hire illegal aliens at $10 an hour (cash under the table) rather than pay $20-$25 to American workers.

    Yes, it is that simple and it is why so many are angry.

    What are "good workers for a decent wage"? what do YOU do for a living, that is so sacrosanct? Would YOU take a 50% or more wage cut, so an illegal could take YOUR job?

    Didn't think so.

  78. "Cotton and Perdue’s position, which is now the mainstream Republican position, is based on the unconscious supposition that American society is like a lake, with a relatively fixed boundary. If you cut the supply of fish coming from outside, there will be more food for the ones born here."

    This metaphor describing the Republican position has to be interpreted differently. American society is like a lake. I am a fish that was lucky to get in, either because my parents migrated here or because I just seeped through the border. Now I want to make sure that other fish do not come into my lake. It is now MY lake.

  79. Open borders will destroy the lake for everyone. And that goes for real lakes, mountains, streams, meadows etc, as well as metaphorical ones.

  80. To some degree, that HAS to be true. The lake does not have infinite capacity. Many things in life are "first come, first served".

    There are 7 billion people on this planet, and 5 billion of them are poor -- and as we can see from mass migrations recently, a heck of a lot of them want to come to Europe, the US or Canada.

    And it is impossible to take even a fraction of them in. So what's YOUR solution?

  81. "For the life of me, I can’t figure out why so many Republicans prefer a dying white America to a place like, say, Houston."

    Well, David, I can. It's called xenophobia and racism and it's the hallmark of Trumpism, the panacea offered to "make America great again", which is itself partly code for making America white again.

    Trump and many of his followers have decided that it is better to be dead than brown.

    This is today's GOP and what passes for a conservative movement. It's a sad thing to behold and I say that as someone who was no particular supporter of conservatism but who had respect for what was an honest intellectual endeavor to build a better world. I have no respect at all for the project called Trumpism, which summons the darker impulses of the human spirit.

  82. It is normal and natural for human beings to prefer the company of people with whom they share values and common experiences, and with whom they have common interests. It is not normal and natural for human beings to enjoy the company of people they have nothing in common with, who don't like them and may intend to harm them.

  83. Matt, Don't blame Trump. It's his enablers, Republicans, who run the agenda. Once Trump betrays them, he's toast.

    He's playing ball because he can gain the wealth he craves, and couldn't get on his own, by now suckering the American people. Now they're replacing the banks that no longer gave Trump credit.

    It's a perfect relationship, the parasite Trump and his host, the Republicans.

  84. Hmmm.....Tom Cotton doesn't have much credibility on immigration.
    He’s the one who made the bizarre, fact-free assertion that Hezbollah was banding together with locals in Mexico to “cross our borders and attack us here.”
    Claiming Arkansas was going to be attacked, he would be one of the first to spin and misrepresent immigration data. It seems to come easy to him.

    As to the Hezbollah claim, fact checkers determined Cotton distorted information to misuse as evidence that the U.S. border with Mexico is “open” and “defenseless.”
    He seems particularly ruthless:
    **His own state ranks first in poor citizens who need food assistance, but Cotton has referred to them as addicts.
    **He voted against equal pay legislation and the Violence Against Women Act. So, he's cast votes against women's rights. Not cool.
    **He wanted to fill up Guantanamo Bay, stated prisoners should rot in hell.
    So that authoritarian streak....

    **He's the guy who went behind President Obama’s back by underhandedly writing a letter to Iran saying that a nuclear deal wouldn't last because the next president would reverse it.
    **Just 24 hours after his letter became known, Cotton was the guest of honor at an event paid for by the National Defense Industrial Association, a lobbying group for defense contractors. Also known as military profiteers.
    Nope. Credibility is absent.

  85. "I with they had a little more faith in freedom, dynamism and human ingenuity."

    Actually, I'd settle for a little more faith in facts.

    Over the past decade (at least), Republicans have had a consistent record of denying facts in favor of ideology. Not just occasionally, but always. Not just a skewing of facts, but outright denial. Not just misinformation, but deliberate and willful lies.

    This is not a partisan argument about Republicans. This is fact. You can look it up. Any third grader can see it.

  86. This whole immigration issue is a non issue.
    Name one way in which a Mexican bus boy or
    gardener has negatively impacted your life.
    The truth is immigrant labor makes the USA rich.
    It's just a smokescreen while the new fascist party
    guts banking and environmental regulations, health care
    SS, etc.. kind of like swatting a mosquito instead
    of noticing your house is being robbed.
    In the meantime who hires "illegal" immigrants?
    People like trump so they can exploit them.
    The hypocrisy is mind boggling. BTW I haven't seen
    anyone rounding up and deporting the Irish
    and Canadians here illegally. You need to have brown skin.

  87. These leaders revile blue California, a multicultural, multiethnic economic powerhouse which ships its taxes to red states and want to turn our country into Arkansas. No thanks.

  88. California's public schools have plummeted in quality during this period. It's only affordable to the rich along the coasts while the poor struggle to survive in the interior.

    It's quite like Mexico in that regard but since CA politicos are on the right side of valid, virtue signaling politics it's ok to people that ironically profess to be concerned about the poor.

  89. Corporate America has won -- very short term lucrative goals (here lucrative translates from corporate profits to political victories) trump the good of the nation. Nothing new here -- one could go back generations but McConnell's boast on Obama's first inauguration day that the Republicans would insure that Obama would not be re-elected was their only goal. The good of the country was not a factor in that equation. Just as corporations are pushing for the end of environmental controls so they can maximize profits, at the cost of untold numbers of Americans dying, the public good is ignored. Will the electorate wake up?

  90. Houston used to brag about not having zoning. Now that actually do, they have to. Consequentially, they have the chaos that comes from years of no zoning as well as the ugliness, which you impolitely refer to in your column, as well as the regulation. Germany, where I lived, has always had regulation/zoning. It's beautiful, well-ordered, and efficient. But sense Houston fits into the unbridled American capitalist mold, we might as well make all our cities as chaotic and ugly as Houston, which by the way, we are.

  91. There is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence of black citizens who need informal construction work being passed over in favor of undocumented migrants who are malleable and don't expect anything from their employers. Not right for America.
    Neighborhoods should not be taken over by undocumented migrants living ten to an apartment and standing on street corners by the hundreds to be picked up by roving pick up trucks. Not right for America.
    We need comprehensive immigration reform that recognizes our need for migrant workers, the need to assimilate past migrants who have lived in our country and contributed to our prosperity, and the reasonable desire of many people to secure our borders.
    We aren't going to get it from the Republicans. Not even close.
    We don't need a wall. What a waste of money. I don't have it to give.

  92. You actually just repeated what Cotton wants to do but because he's a Republican it's bad. I find a lot of the comments on here to be of similar vein. More about smearing Republicans than the actual important issue at hand.

    Is America a country with values & a culture or a piece of land that any of the 7 billion people on Earth are free to move to?

  93. And wouldn't it be great if those black citizens had a few training programs, maybe even access to trade schools, to help them have a marketable skill rather than having to rely on casual day labor?

  94. We should not even be discussing 'walls', but Shutting The Door in the face of this president and his miserable skeleton crew of 'dismantlers and disrupters'.

  95. Mr. Brooks makes good sense. It's just a shame that he couldn't refrain from taking a cheap shot at liberals. It only served to undermine his arguments.

  96. Pundits need to be very careful from drawing conclusions based on national numbers. This is what led them to incorrectly conclude Clinton would win based on national polling.

    Our country is big, vast with many differing cultures even among whites. The lower birth rates of whites nationally mask a wide divergence among whites in differing regions in the country.

    The state with the highest birth rate is Utah followed by Alaska. The states with lowest birth rates can be found in New England. In short the white population isn't dying. Steve Sailer has written about this on his blog and has pointed out that white women in states that have more affordable housing (better known as red states) have higher fertility rates. Here's the birth rate by state:

  97. Don't those red states also have highest number of single mothers, lowest number of High School graduates?

  98. Utah has the lowest social disorder and welfare usage rates in the country. Many red states do have bad stats but many also host large black populations which have high rates of dropouts, single motherhood >70% & poverty.

    I don't think turning America into wall to wall Houston is the answer to any of these problem. Import the 3rd world, get the 3rd world.

  99. Brooks is quite correct here on several fronts. His description of the labor market is right; there aren't enough workers for most jobs. We see this in Vermont as our workforce has been shrinking slowly for years, save a bump up last year, and our employers are doing everything Brooks describes to draw, create, or train new workers. They are also siting plants outside the state and country to find workers. Those that can't move production, like hospitals, schools, tourism support, and government are in nearly untenable positions. They have work that must be done and not enough workers to do it.
    Tom Cotton doesn't understand economics or America. His solution, as Brooks points out sharply, whirl actually drive us backwards, reducing production and productivity, which in turn will reduce profits and wages.
    The Republican/Trumpian world is inside out. Instead of growth they want recession, instead of wealth they want poverty, instead of health they want weakness, and instead of youth they want old people.

  100. Ever heard of automation?

  101. Automation isn't going to help the hospital-bed-bound use a bedpan, or care for the family members emotionally drained by a hospice vigil Automation isn't going to be able to explain a government program to an utterly confused applicant. Automation can't be a forest ranger, or a farmer, or a carpenter, or a thousand other careers that depend on human interactions and care with other humans and with the physical world.

    These are the jobs for which there aren't enough workers, and automation will never be able to supplant them. More advanced technology will be an adjunct to their work, not a replacement.

  102. The interesting aspect of the purportedly "free market" Republicans' desire to limit labor supply is that it is such an anti-free market approach to an economic condition. It appears that the dislike of people from foreign countries outweighs the Republicans' usual/rational/proper "free market" approach to asset allocation. Of course, Trump is no free market proponent--he is a micromanager even more so than Jimmy Carter and Trump is the closest to the communist ideal of the central government controlling economic output that the US has experienced since FDR.

  103. I worked in the trades for about 15 years. Like any job, some aspects of the work I hated, yet I was proud to call myself a carpenter. The work was skilled, remunerative, satisfying, respectable. I worked in multiple states. I volunteered on building brigades in Central America. I respect and value academic research and scholarship too, but you and the Academy have got this one wrong wrong wrong. The trades have been decimated by illegal immigration; it is scarcely worth arguing about it is so obvious to anyone with experience or even powers of observation. Cheap illegal labor changed the nature of the work and appeal of the profession throughout the 90's and you don't reverse that overnight. You don't see teenagers doing landscaping work anymore either. I used to live in Arkansas. Tom Cotton is a tool of private-equity; his meddling with Iran an embarrassment to his military service; and the racist fools in Arkansas deserve what they get electing him. I can't speak for Cotton's motives. Nevertheless, arguing illegal labor has not transformed traditional occupations to the detriment of Americans who used to perform them does not pass the laugh test.

  104. Why should the ethnicity of workers lower the respect we give to a profession? When I ask my students what they will do after high school, I would say that 90% are looking at four year college and professional careers. Few have any interest in working in the hot sun, building housing when they can design computer programs, or work on advertising slogans in an air conditioned office.

  105. Absolutely correct. But NYT writers and their readers do not depend on blue or even white collar employment to survive, and they don't care about those of us who do.

  106. This issue is already becoming more pronounced in certain sectors in New England where we have an aging population and steady decline in population. Unemployment in NH is below 4% with help wanted signs up everywhere. This is especially an issue in healthcare and will only get worse. The only solution as NH ages is for people moving in to the state to take healthcare jobs, and those people are most likely going to be immigrants.

  107. The scholarly support for the theses seem thinly sourced though the theory has its logic. The problem is another one: do we want American environment and culture the equivalent of a strip mall as the Houston zoning paradigm implies. It does however need to be pointed out these gentlemen are talking about legal immigrants. That means high skilled too who will compete for tech jobs. As a reformed neoclassical economy lover I see real benefits to more controlled competition - protectionism - to protect human values at the expense of growth and progress. I am just not happy where they have led us.

  108. The Federal Reserve reports 5.5 million jobs have gone unfilled every month for the last five years! The fight over efficiency--bullying corporations to expand jobs by a few thousand, often delayed by construction plans--is a piecemeal approach, when efficacy--an organic plan for collaboration and innovation for new markets/products and jobs is the only path to create the millions of jobs the economy needs annually to provide safety and security for working families.

    The irony--and wickedness--of the GOP bill is these same lawmakers oppose a raise in the minimum wage. Yet they believe cutting legal immigrants (many on H1-B1 visas are technically skilled workers) will achieve what they oppose!

    Blaming labor, esp. the poorest of labor, for the country's economic shortcomings is morally bankrupt and bad economics. Wealth, when it becomes excess, creates waste. The barren mountain tops are waste of mining's excess; the Gulf spill the waste of the excesses off-shore drilling; the worker is the "fat" trimmed by corporate greed! So benefits are lost, hours cut, wages stagnate.

    Expanding the economy demands skills that are this administration's weaknesses: careful planning, rigorous analysis, unified messaging, coordinated teams with different strategies pursuing the same goals. (See NC's Research Triangle.)

    Trump pretends Intel's 3K jobs in a to-be-built AZ factory is a win. But Last year, high tech cut headcount by 96,000 jobs—including Intel's cut of 12,000 workers!

  109. But wait, David...they've got more !!

    They've got Paul Ryan's 'I Don't Care' Health Plan loaded with vouchers, tax credits and savings accounts and zero healthcare whereby you can keep the most expensive and extortive system in the world and drop dead while the rest of the world goes to the doctor without a bankruptcy lawyer.

    They've got cuts for Social Security and Medicare so older Americans can drop dead from Grand Old Poverty.

    They've got a new Cabinet department called the Environmental Pollution Agency run by Fossil Fuels Fracking Inc. Puppet Pruitt and a chorus of climate abortionists looking to bring Oklahoma earthquakes to your backyard while raising the Earth's Easy Bake Oven temperature a few degrees; remember, humans should always be slow-roasted - like boiled frogs - to achieve the perfect dead flavoring.

    They've got deregulation of Wall St. because Wall St. never hurt a fly, except for the fatal Great Depressions they repeatedly cause.

    They've got the National Terrorist Association working full-time to ensure that 85 Americans die by gunshot and right-wing gun anarchy each and every day.

    They've got fear, loathing, propaganda, paranoia and prevarication working for them 24 hours a day to confuse Americans into voting for Russian-styled Robber Barons, cranks and Christian Crusaders whose interest in modernity, progress, political dissent, democracy and honest journalism matches that of Vladimir Putin.

    Make Nationally-Assisted-Suicide Great Again: GOP 2017

  110. You always set me straight, Socrates. Here I thought the reason humans should be "slow-roasted -- like boiled frogs" was so we wouldn't feel what's happening to us and try to save ourselves. But as you point out, it's actually beneficial to the final product. Thank you.

  111. Incessant barrage of GOP artillery fire had shock & awed me into the fetal position. Emotional CPR acknowledged & appreciated.

  112. A shortage of workers may drive up wages, but it may not. Employers must choose between a larger more dynamic economy where unemployment is low and workers have more bargaining power and a smaller, less dynamic economy where unemployment is higher and workers have less bargaining power. It is not that employers have decided that raising wages wont work. They have decided that they prefer to preserve their power over against their workers even at the cost of fewer business opportunities.

    From the standpoint the real estate industry, it is not a distortion of the flow of the economic river that people must spend more on housing and less on everything else. It is just a favorable flow of the economic river that represents a real estate sector that is competing successfully against other sectors of the economy. With respect to the flow of the economic river, one man's distortion is another's reward for hard work and clever planning.

  113. The idea is to encourage illegal immigrants, who can be readily exploited.

    That is why Republicans oppose any means to regularity undocumented workers and be punitive to undocumented workers. The further back in the shadows they can be pushed, the more easily exploited they are, and the more they can be used as a hammer on citizen's wages.

    And then politicians can benefit from the xenophobia that results from the pressure on wages.

    A double win.

  114. The administration position on immigration is not a national death wish, as Mr. Douthat opines. It is a Republican death wish, plain and simple. Please do not include the majority of Americans in this narrow, mean-spirited philosophy

  115. Mr. Brooks, you are trying to see the whole picture and to find a rational way to deal with what you see. You want to calmly read specialists about the relevant topics and figure out how the various threads of our society are woven together. Sounds like what Obama was trying to do. But you didn't like him.

    Cotton and Perdue are examples of what you helped create (though they don't resemble you)-- outward nihilists, selfish hoarders. Bannon speaks of “deconstruction of the administrative state.” And that is only part of the aim of these men -- to dismantle the American system as we have known it for over 200 years. Yes, we have a system, built around immigrants, a revolution, a Constitution, and major social adjustments (a euphemism for genocide , slavery, civil war, economic dislocation, and finally a semblance of a a cosmopolitan thriving society), a civil culture of delicate tolerances, bolstered by tremendous wealth and power.

    The convergence of one group trying to control that wealth and power with another group trying to hold on to their crumbs in the face of substantial economic change and geographical shape-changing, as some funny-named neighbors appear down the road, has led to deliberate attempts to grab even bigger slices of the pie by the first group and a destructive anger lashing out to the vulnerable by the other group.

    The niceties of arguing over how much government input vs. free market forces for this or that policy now look oh so quaint.

  116. Good lord. As if their immigration policy is serious rather than a ploy for holding on to the ignorant racist xenophobe vote, which they've spent decades cultivating, so that they can pass their beloved tax cuts for the rich and pay for them by gutting entitlements.

  117. During my lifetime, the population of the US has more than doubled. That is not all for the good. I asked a Chinese colleague once how he compared the US to China, he said "China is very crowded". I saw the results of a survey once that stated 50% of the world would move to the US, if they could. Would that be a good thing? I don't think so. Immigration is the driver for the current increase in the US population. There are limits to growth.

  118. It's prescription of neo-liberal that bounced back. Back in 1990s we ( in India) have been asked to open markets for free labour, capital and transfer of technology. This has enabled Pacific RIM to take cheap capital improve productivity due to low labour costs. Free markets allowed jobs to be shipped overseas and GATT had expedited the process. West should have invested in social safety nets and improve skills to masses to compete rather it laid back. Now it's double whammy with so called conservatives who promote free markets want protection from competition.

  119. I suspect the anti-immigrant stand that Republicans have is based less on jobs than the fear that naturalized immigrants and their children will vote Democrat.

  120. Maybe they prefer a dying, white America because the America votes Republican. Plus, they can run on xenophobia but not on steal from the middle class and poor to give to the rich.

  121. My husband's father and his immigrant wife waded through thirteen years of bureaucracy getting a green card for her sister to come live in the U.S. After ten years here, our aunt is now a U.S. citizen who owns a nice home and two cars. She did it all on her own by working three part-time jobs, menial and without benefits, that nobody else wanted to do.

    When our aunt arrived in the U.S., she found out for herself that our streets are not paved with gold. She had to work as hard here as she did in the developing country she came from -- but this time not merely to subsist. She was able to obtain the American dream. She and people like her help make America great. We need more people like her, not fewer.

    Oh, and she knows the Constitution better than our so-called president.

  122. Most immigrants know more about our history and constitution than most native born Americans. I know, I'm married to an immigrant (59 years and counting). He knows more about our country than most of our friends and relatives. Why? He's curious and he reads all the time.

  123. The last line is the key. I'd be willing to wager most American citizens could not pass the test for citizenship, and forget about the civil service exam.

  124. If no one wants to do a job--it just means the pay is not enough.

  125. Brooks is right on the money... literally. The elderly will comprise 20% of the US population by 2025, greatly straining the nation's capacity to fund social safety nets such as social security but also to maintain strong economic leadership. Other countries such as Japan, Greece, and Italy are already straining under the growing imbalance of aged populations. Leveraging immigration to our economic advantage makes sense... denying it is a fool's errand.

  126. Guess we can use Sarahs death panels then!

  127. Yes, and it gives Republicans another reason to eliminate Social Security and Medicare, so all those millions begging on the streets and dying in the gutters will finally make them feel good about themselves.

  128. Social Secutity funding would be just fine if Republicans would stop demonizing the paying of taxes. Just a small increase in the Social Security tax would make it solvent.

    But no. They're too wedded to dismantling government to make the obvious fix to social security.

    I agree with your point about economic leadership, though. Immigration has always contributed to America's exceptional productivity; we just need to place more value on and better compensate people for working at jobs that many now see as "menial." Workers at these jobs, no matter their country of origin, make our country run.

  129. What I always find bizarre from law and order Republicans when they rail about illegal immigrants taking American jobs is the fact they absolve the employers of these people from any responsibilities. Instead of spending money on walls and immigrant round ups lets put some employers in jail for 20 years. Oh can't do that, these people are the real base of the Republican Party. Oh that's right Trump employed illegal immigrants to demolish the building where Trump tower now stands, never mind.

  130. I grew up in a blue-collar town where all the men worked at one of the mills & factories in the area, including Bethlehem Steel. Almost all were union workers. They made good money after the great wave of CIO organizing in the 1930s -- and they went on strike multiple times to increase their hourly wage, gain or improve health & pension benefits and demand new health & safety rules. Those jobs were HARD and they killed a lot of people. They poisoned the air and water in our community. This was not a Utopia, by any means. And the number of jobs began to decline way back in the late 70s, long before anyone had heard of NAFTA and immigration was relatively limited. Some of the older men who came out of that world believe that younger men today "don't want to work" -- at least not as hard as they had to work back in the day, when they might work double-shifts (16 straight hours) in fire and filth, inhaling asbestos with every breath, in order to bring home a bigger paycheck. But you know who probably would take sign on for those hard, dirty jobs if they miraculously re-appeared? Immigrants. Not native-born Americans who look with distaste on that kind of back-breaking labor today.

  131. Hear, hear!

  132. So you are a farmer and you have a crop in the field that needs to be harvested. People are coming that want to harvest that crop. So you propose putting that farmer in prison if he hires people who are here without the proper documentation?
    Now he has a problem. If he hires undocumented workers he goes to prison; however, if he only hires people who are here legally then he does not have enough workers and his crop rots in the field and he loses his farm.
    Does putting employers in prison really solve the problem or simply exchange one problem for a different one?

  133. Well David, that the economy is a complex and dynamic system has long been recognized. That you question using simplistic immigration policy as an economic tool is reasonable. The larger question is what can government do to enable economic opportunity ? Deregulate? Eliminate rights for laborers to organize? Support minimum wage standards? Or how about a nationalized health care? Or cuts taxes on the wealthy? Infrastructure? Repeal Dodd-Frank? You chose some low hanging fruit that is pretty safe now since immigrant labor is supported by many of the so-called moderate GOP so they can both get high value tech workers and low cost labor and increase earnngs. If you support immigrant labor then about migrant worker permits and a minimum wage? Easy to critique, hard to solve.

  134. Why do Republicans prefer a "dying white America"?

    Because most have never ventured out of their whites only enclaves.

    If they did, they would see that they have nothing to fear. Those brown and black folks are also very hard working.

  135. Labor is complex. Americans resent the visible and real loss of jobs to immigrants - The Disney fiasco, in which US programmers were told to train their replacements who were brought in on abused H1-B visas is an example.

    The man who replaced my roof is struggling because he is losing work to other roofers who are using day labor and undercutting his prices, leaving his long term steady employees, and his family business, at risk.

    When abuse is visible and obvious, so is resentment.

    The reality of the impact of immigration and labor is a lot more complex. It both eliminates work and creates it - landscapers who get more contracts for stone work and patios support the building suppliers and the workers who manufacture patio block. Workers, legal and illegal, rent housing, buy groceries, buy clothes for their kids.

    We are going to find out how it affects each community because our workers are going to start going underground. But most likely we will blame the result on regulations, or Obama, a perennial if illogical favorite.

  136. "I wish they had a little more faith in freedom, dynamism and human ingenuity." Unlikely, as their points of view are learned from the stagnant pond in which they are doing their swimming, the conservative movement.

    Simple, naive logic drives too much of what congress thinks - crime, regulation, education, the budget, taxes, and as you pointed out, immigration. But the simple arguments are after all simplistic and necessarily incapable of capturing the subtle realities necessary for good decision-making.

    By substituting trite (think Ayn Rand) philosophies for ground truth just because "you" think that it makes sense and seems logical, will in the long run funnel any river into an abyss. The GOP is guiding us all into some pretty treacherous white water - hope you have your life preserver on.

  137. Simple supply and demand economics escapes the writer, a closet socialist or free enterprise dolt he is perhaps The labor shortage represents the gap between wages offered and wages desired. Quantity supplied is short of quantity demanded. The gap will close when the employer pays what the market demands, raises compensation. There is nothing baffling here. The issue is low pay offers, nothing else. We all know about how poorly paid corporate executives are and the chronic shortage in that sector, right? Immigrants are not the issue in the capitalist system. Those on top keeping it an unreasonable share for themselves is interfering with free market forces perhaps?

  138. Why not mention U.S. total fertility rate around 1.85, well below replacement level of 2.1 births per female. Our population will shrink considerably without immigration.

  139. If you are unemployed or underpaid, you don't care about some obscure study- especially if you are among the low information crowd that brought Trump his victory. You can see people all around you, taking your kinds of work and doing it with great energy.

    Every wave of immigrants has helped this country grow richer, but those at the bottom have always despised the "intruders". For Republicans, this hate has been woven into their entire racist political quilt.

    David, it is time to come to terms with the fact that this is no longer your parents Republican party. When the south was forced to dismantle their apartheid state with the passage of the Civil Rights Act they rapidly took over the GOP. The recent election has sealed the deal- the South has risen again.

    Stop ignoring the elephant in the room- call it out, and maybe this nation can finally purge the poisonous residue of slavery and the Civil War that insidiously dominates our politics. All of us, and especially the South are its victims. Confession and forgiveness are in order to make our country whole.

  140. This ought to appeal to our GOP friends:

    We need all those new fica payers

  141. Immigrants bring vitality and fresh ideas to our aging system. They are here to fulfill dreams and pursue opportunities. We benefit enormously from their hard work and determination. These are gifts we can not afford to lose.

  142. Its been apparently mis-attributed to Isaac Newton but once again it needs to be said, "We build too many walls and not enough bridges"

  143. Yup, but here's the thing: you've made a very basic analysis of the GOP position on immigration showing clearly why it's bad policy.
    This has been obvious for a long time, so why does your party hold on to, and push for, things that obviously make no sense?
    I'm no fan of the democrats, but the GOP policies have been wrong on just about everything for decades now and yet: no change in position.
    Tax cuts and deregulation led to the near total collapse of not just our economic system, but the world's.
    The GOP answer: more tax cuts and deregulation!
    On immigration, if draconian GOP policies are enacted:
    -Will the unemployed white workers of western PA or MI take the jobs picking strawberries etc. in CA for min wage minus expenses? NO
    -Will the middle class Trump voters in GA or AZ find working class whites to be nannies for their kids and mow their lawns? NO
    -Will small business owners (like contractors) all of a sudden start to hire the white working class at triple the cost (to say nothing of payroll taxes, insurance, etc.) NO
    All the policies the Trump voters advocate will be hurting themselves the most. No thought was given to this reality.

    No thought at the level of GOP lawmakers about the real world.

    Now, finally, some thought from you Mr. Brooks.

    It is welcome.

    But why did it take this disastrous election for you to see some common sense? And will you now rethink other terrible policies you've advocated for years?

    I hope so.

  144. Just a little FYI addition to your comments- a white young woman who works as a nanny in Decatur( Atlanta) will make a minimum of $20.00 an hour. I agree that your child care provider should make a living wage and without immigrants Americans can expect to pay a lot more for service providers of all types.

  145. Why bother with reality and facts ......again
    The GOP : more stupid politicians who regard thinking through problems beyond their jobs description

  146. Here's a couple of conclusions I'm drawing from this:
    => Construction companies are bidding low for projects assuming that cheap labor will be available despite the realities you describe about the workforce Why aren't they adjusting their bids so they can increase wages? Presumably these construction companies pay their CEOs and chief engineers top dollar to attract and retain them. Why not do the same for their workers?
    => Could the increase in volunteers at the Rodeo in Houston be a result of the fact that wages are so low in the region that the only way people can attend this event is by offering to volunteer?
    => Could the "healthiest philanthropic sector" in Houston be the result of overcompensating CEOs? Maybe if wages for workers were higher in Houston there wouldn't be the need for as much philanthropy.
    => And last but clearly not least: how long can we sustain a fast-growth economy that funnels $$$ to the top .1% while paying as liitle s possible to the 99.9%? Maybe we should have a slow growth economy that pays a living wage to everyone willing to put in a day's work.

  147. Thank you, Mr. Brooks, for your rational promotion for inclusion and tolerance for immigrants, instead of the nativist economic grievance of populism, promoted by Senators Cotton and Purdue. My wife, an immigrant from Colombia, has lived the American dream of opportunity through hard work, competitiveness and perseverance. Isn't that the essence of capitalism, that Republicans now reject?

  148. As usual with David Brooks, one reads the first three quarters of the essay thinking that he has laid out the facts in such a way that the conclusion is foregone, only to find him going off the rails at end. The problem? Liberals!! they're acting like liberals!

  149. In North Carolina there is a handyman whose slogan, on the side of his van, is "we show up."
    Friends have run through five contractors on their home, unable to find anyone who would do what they say.
    It took three weeks to get a roof replaced. No one would show up. When they did, they took a deposit and didn't return until it suited them, not their clients. I moved away from the American south, after selling my own business due to the abysmal labor pool, and returned to the northeast.
    By contrast, our new neighbor, in the bustling "tri-state area", contracted a roofer. They came when then said they would. A team of laborers, all of them latino, swarmed the house at 7 in the morning, tearing off shingles, replacing plywood. By two in the afternoon, the job was done and a worker was sweeping the lawn and driveway with a magnet to pick up any stray nails. They did an impeccable job.
    There's a vast difference between the work ethic of those under high economic stress, in the more expensive areas of the country, and places like rural North Carolina where they brag about things moving at a slower pace. I never saw anyone in North Carolina actually hustle. Not laborers...unless they were immigrants.
    Immigrants hustle. There is no sense of entitlement. There is the job that must get done and a family to feed. Ain't that America, you and me. It's really something to see, baby.

  150. Had this same experience! Thanks for sharing it.

  151. Well it's obvious Mr. Brooks, that you have to, if you already haven't, leave the Republican party, for three reasons.
    A. You have compassion.
    B. You are living in the real world.
    C. You believe in facts.

  152. I think it's a mistake to think there's any kind of coherent or well-thought-out economic philosophy behind what Republicans advocate. Basically, the entire Republican economic platform can be reduced (and understood) by one simple attitude:

    "I don't want anybody else putting their grubby hands on my stuff."

    It's a doctrine of selfishness, which sees (as Romney put it) the world divided into makers and takers, with the makers mostly people like the vast majority of Republicans (i.e., White, Christian, with conservative values) and the takers everyone else.

    Let's not mislead ourselves into thinking this is anything new with Trump. Trump has made the crassness of the doctrine of selfishness impossible to disguise, but it's been at the heart of Republicanism for a long time.

  153. Hurray for Houston!

  154. From where I sit, the goal of the Trump plan is to create jobs by eliminating the competition for those jobs. If the immigrants are expelled, the Americans displaced by market conditions will have jobs. Think about it: your good paying, well benefited jobs are gone. You accept government assistance with benefits. Now the Republican plan is: create a job market and eliminate or reduce government assistance and benefits and force people to take low paying jobs with no or unaffordable benefits. And if you think the market intends on helping small boats rise, you haven't been paying attention. The workforce will NOT be allowed to be a drag on profit. And having to take a much lower standard of living with no disposable income and lousy benefits and having to work 80 hours a week to try and make ends meet will do exactly what for morale? And remember this: while all this is going on, you are not saving for retirement. And they want to cut social security, too. Now, don't you feel better? Help is on the way.

  155. If only Lincoln had let the south go. Slavery would have died a natural death, and we would be free of reactionary senators named (perfectly) Cotton and Perdue.

    Imagine how the north would thrive today without the drag of foul bigotry wafting up from the south.

  156. Unfortunately to get people flowing to the jobs they want requires government programs for education, training, apprenticeships, and placement and that means government spending an anathema to the Republican party and much of the American public. Cutting off immigration doesn't cost anything and sounds like a solution to people who don’t understand economics and don’t read studies.

    The real problem we face, our true death wish, stems from a belief that government is the problem, a false premise that Republicans have been selling since Reagan. There is always the possibility of bad governance (see Trump) but government isn’t bad. Government is how people in democratic societies pool resources, advance the common good and ensure fairness and justice, all things that usually hurt the rich masters of Republican politicians.

    Until the American people firmly and decisively reject Republican values and see government once again as a force for good there will be no progress and no reform. I don’t see this happening anytime soon. So, sorry David, but any talk of innovative ways to improve the country is just that, talk.

  157. I think republicans are hellbent on one party rule. They want all legislatures, governorships, the presidency and the courts. They will do whatever it takes, to wir, tolerating Trump-Bannon. They know that immigrants tilt democratoic. Thus is just one more tactic in a multi pronged strategy to do away with all opposition.

  158. Here's a question Mr. Brooks never explores: have those builders TRIED to raise wages to attract more workers?

    River or lake....a lot of employers in need of trained, skilled workers have completely forgotten basic labor economics.

  159. Trade unions are the answer.

  160. Just had to through in the jab at liberals at the end. Thing is who were these zero sum game liberals and to which policy are you referring? The only zero sum game I know is resources and the environment. While not absolute, it is important to realize oil is zero sum. The more you burn the less you have. Fracking has extended its life, and a few billion barrels of reserves of tar sands, but that has increased the cost of recovery, and more important their use requires much more pollution just to recover. And even if that cost falls, the burning of them will most likely destroy the planet. So if that's what you are talking about then yep zero sum. But clean energy could always change that to growth and still environmentally safe. Republicans have always been only oil and gas, and have restricted us to a zero sum game

  161. Why wasn't this the last paragraph:

    Cotton and Perdue are static mind-set/slow-growth/zero-sum legislators. They’ll dry up the river. I wish they had a little more faith in freedom, dynamism and human ingenuity.

    What was the point of taking a shot at liberals, even if you had to go back to the 1970s to do it?

  162. Whenever somebody argues that immigrants take job away I have one simple response:

    "People who live/work here also consume here."

    Thus they contribute to GDP both in creation of goods and services and the consumption."

    End of story! Argument dismissed! False!

  163. They like "their" white America because at the heart of it, they are racists.
    “If you think they're going to give you your country back ..." Steve Bannon (yesterday).
    See that word! "your" This "new order" -- they think they (whites) own the country. Everyone else is just not as human as they are.
    I just saw "I Am Not Your Negro" and if you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor because racism is the basis of many of our problems right now.

  164. This is the biggest bunch of baloney I have ever heard. Many of those men who have been fighting for African-American rights in the voting booth for years, (they voted for Obama), but now, they are facing their own woe, and where are you? Boy, that's gratitude!

  165. Please tell me who the "your" is in Bannon's statement "your country back." Who is he saying the country belongs to?

  166. And your use of the word gratitude suggests that I (and, honestly, you have no idea what gender or race I am) have been granted a favor by someone else. Who is that someone else? white men?

  167. First, Houston is no paradise; it has a very high crime rate, for example. And many of us boring "white bread" US citizens don't want neighbors who belong to gangs, breed pit bulls or butcher goats, chickens and pigs in their back yard. Also, Brooks is wrong about immigration and employment. Enlarging the labor pool DOES destroy workers' leverage, driving down wages and working conditions. Even Cesar Chavez was against open borders, because he understood the law of supply and demand. Furthermore, Brooks fails to acknowledge either the effect of open borders on the few remaining natural areas in the US or the problems of immigration and offshoring. What is the point of bringing millions of workers into the US when entire industries have already been offshored, and automation will very soon eliminate even more jobs?

  168. Behold: the Face of Dying, White America. It is as ugly and ravaged as we knew it would be. Such disdain, distaste, lack of empathy and understanding and naked, pathetic fear is exactly why much of middle America is becoming stagnant and failing. And we have what passes today for the GOP to thank for stoking the fires of ignorance and ugliness.

  169. Immigration, political/economic trends in the U.S. and Europe as well?

    It would appear that the Western world, to counter and control everything from environmental problems to immigration to threats from powers such as Russia and China, is headed toward something of the emotionally subdued and strongly administrative mentality of powers such as Germany and Japan post WW2.

    Both right and left wings across the Western world agree violence is a deep problem--both try to control violence whether that means authoritarianism/religion or left wing administrative state. We can probably expect a stalemate between the two in increased bureaucracy, regimentation, control, surveillance of people. Emotion played down, increased control of art and spoken not to mention written word, bureaucracy, officialdom, administration played up.

    Increased control of people, playing down of the particular whether that means religion, ethnic group or race or national culture or "threatening individuality" (everything from criminality to difficult to control genius). Simply construct houses, make lines, squares and circles, move people according to diagrams, place people into position here and there.

    "Pleasant life" which favors the bureaucrat, middle of the road writer, easy taste in music, light psychology, not too brutal and certainly controlled sporting life, a world in which no doubt women will flourish...That which is tempestuous and/or projects gets cut down to size. Switzerland the ideal?

  170. For the life of all of us, David Brooks, we can't comprehend why Republicans prefer a dying white America to a growing and healthy America. SOCRATES - commenter from Verona, New Jersey - has said it better than all the other commenters this morning - we can read and re-read his brilliant comment at "9 minutes ago". Thank you for your column, "The National Death Wish", David, but Socrates has hit ithe nail on the head, hit the homer out of the ball park with his "Grand Old Poverty" and " make nationally-assisted suicide great again:GOP 2017."

  171. "... immigration bill that would cut the number of legal immigrants to this country each year in half ..."

    Except for native Americans who migrated here over ten thousand years ago, everyone here is an immigrant or recent descendant of one.
    The vast majority of immigrants arrive here with a drive and work ethic to succeed. This drive is generally dissipated after a few generations. The great grandchildren take how good they have life here for granted, they lose sight of what it is their great grandparents saw in America.
    So here is my alternative plan: Deport all Americans who don't have at least one grandparent who is not off the boat. These people have lost their way, and have taken for granted how good they have it here. For example, a large proportion of groper-don's supporters fall into this category, and they are wrecking America for everybody. For everyone we deport, we can open up a slot for an immigrant who will come here and make this place better than it was before they arrived.

  172. Immigrants have become the enemy of the country, Mr. Brooks, especially if they have the wrong skin color

    A man in Kansas city supposedly yelled, "get out of my country," and shot two young men from India, one of whom later died.

    The survivor's father was unsure whether he'd ask his two sons living in the US to "leave the country," The Times reported.

    These assaults on immigrants have become more common after the ascendancy of Trump. If these assaults continue, immigrants may not be so eager to come to the US and Senators Cotton and Purdue may not have to introduce their bill.

  173. Let's face it. This is all part of the MAGA Trump/ GOP agenda to keep America white at any cost. It is doomed to failure over the long term. It's not surprising how many educated conservatives want to make America more stupid by creating low level jobs that no one but immigrants are willing to take in an effort to move up the economic ladder. I'm waiting for the GOP to roll out the Reagan workfare program again. In other words if you want social welfare support get a job cleaning toilets or banging nails and in doing so Trump can claim millions of jobs he created.

  174. With observations like, " Immigrants freed natives to do more pleasant work," you are arguing for an underclass. I find that a bit offensive.

  175. Then you ate foolish and unrealistic. It has been ever thus, and, as the newcomers work and prosper, they send their children to college and the next generation becomes white collar. Then, newcomers to this country take the less-desirable jobs.

    Your offense points to an attitude that views a less desirable job as less important, respectable or somehow embarassing. Every job has a dignity about it, every job is important. Without meat packers, custodians, people who wash dishes, pick fruit, tar roads, lay roofing in the middle of August, collect tolls in a booth, this country would grind immediately to a halt. There is absolutely zero wrong, shameful or underclass with "less desirable" jobs or the people who do them. Those jobs provide for families.

  176. I don't have much faith in anybody these days and "incredibly dynamic" can become "incredibly chaotic" in a matter of seconds, and as the old saying goes, "especially when the coffee and tobacco are gone!" The last place I want to be is where 145 languages are screaming, "fire"!

    As far as blue collar wages go, any man willing to work for peanuts, is a drag on wages - blue-collar and white-collar, but until 535 members in Congress stand up for the people they are supposed to represent, or the rich man grows a conscience, wages will remain "dying" in your "dying white America." I wonder where all the money is coming from in Houston? Nothing is ever as it seems, Mr. Brooks.

  177. We in the building trades movement have known the points of this article for years and now Some are pulling their heads out of the sand s of ignoring the reality , good but late

  178. This is what happens when you elect politicians who last year were, say, an eye doctor, the idle rich, a failed businessman, an ex-soldier or a poultry farmer and suddenly are thrust into a position of power.

    They read a conspiracy theory tract on economics or the 3rd rate novel of a lovelorn hack (Ayn Rand) and now they're macroeconomic experts, in charge of ruining the economy of an entire country.

  179. I think that Rep.Cottons brain is made of cotton, I wonder who he thinks will go after the field jobs? I betcha he will put those welfare types out plucking oranges!

  180. I had to go back and check the by line.

    If it wasn't signed David Brooks, I'd swear Paul Krugman wrote this column.

    David Brooks writes a critically reasoned column? I feel the Earth move under my feet.

  181. It's the wage
    It's the salary
    They are too low

  182. Republicans are looking for someone to blame for their inability to write meaningful policy. They spent eight years debunking the ACA and still cannot improve or replace it. Americans expected free healthcare - this is s country that spends hundreds of dollars a month for cable TV, gas for huge trucks, and assault weapons - but not health insurance. Not all immigrants are poor - they are educated and work in our hospitals, tech industry, science and engineering. Republicans say they hate big government - but they legislate against free enterprise and invade our personal lives. Trump and his merry band of bubble dwellers are stifling our country - hate, divisiveness, and social equality. Ambitious people drive our economy, rural America has been rusting for decades - immigrants are building business while natives gather in bars, diners, and the shooting range.

  183. Immigrants largely do either highly skilled jobs there aren't enough Americans to do, or low skilled jobs most Americans aren't willing to do. Others start businesses which either create jobs for other Americans or at least keep their own families employed. Just go to a hospital and look at the surgeons then look at the orderlies pushing the wheelchairs and imagine them gone. On your way home stop at a gas station or mini mart to get gas or some milk from a newly arrived family working their hearts out to succeed. If Cotton has his way, blue collar jobs will not become plentiful, but we will have gaping holes in essential sectors of our economy.

  184. I think you left out the highly skilled jobs that immigrants are willing to work for a lot less money. Ask US Citizens and LEGAL immigrants who work in construction, automotive repair, and IT to name a few. Their livelihood is being impacted by illegals and people being hired under MISUSE of the H1B visa program.

  185. Houston is my hometown and I'd like to offer a different perspective on the attitudes toward immigration. The diversity is great to those of us who value it. However, the fact that there are so many nationalities represented is not based on blue-collar wages. The oil/petrochemical industry means there are companies from all over the globe with offices there. The Texas Medical Center brings in medical and research talent from all over as well. The business-friendly culture and cost of living mean more big-name companies set up shop there.

    For all that, it takes blue-collar jobs to make the Ship Channel run and construction go up, and plenty of those jobs are filled by immigrants. You're glossing over a LOT of resentment from the typical GOP demographic about their presence. You chose a poor example of immigrant tolerance in the Rodeo committees, as those are (hard-working) social opportunities to make the event run, and have nothing to do with welcoming newcomers. The city overall welcomes immigrants but I can assure you plenty of the citizens themselves do not. And that brings us back to why "so many Republicans prefer a dying white America to a place like, say, Houston." The Republicans are those resentful citizens who don't value diversity, not the corporations or the research hospitals.

  186. You may or may not be correct. My question is: are those blue collar workers trained? I agree that good jobs are disappearing. But there are lots of blue collar jobs that are going unfilled. What is causing some of this gap? I know that many coal miners want to go back to work? Is there enough work? Are they willing to relocate and be re-trained? Just asking the questions, I don't have the answers.

  187. David,

    There's another factor that gives people the ability to flow from job to job, it's called affordable (or even universal) healthcare. Wait, the Democrats introduced this a while back didn't they? Oh, sorry, I forgot, this is not a nightmare it's real. DJT is, ostensibly, our so-called president; that means that all NYT articles are fake as is anything that contradicts the dictator-in-chief.
    I'm thinking of moving somewhere where there's a more effective government that cares more about its people, Somalia comes to mind. Maybe I could start a second career as a pirate?

  188. Another another fine column by Mr. Brooks, the crown jewel of the Times opinion section.
    I say this even though I disagree with about 90% of what he says.

  189. Brilliant. Just when there is some momentum for curbing illegal immigration they want to curb legal immigration. How does that make sense? Just for the left, who should keep their name calling accurate, those who want to curb illegal immigration are normal citizens who like their country to have borders, and those who want to curb legal immigration are the xenophobes.

  190. Unfortunately, the normal Trump supporter isn't making such distinctions. They mostly are xenophobes, who see the world divided into authentic Americans like themselves and everyone else. Immigrants (especially those with non European backgrounds), legal or not, are all grouped together as threats to the American identity.

  191. The white supremacist republicans -- the only "immigration" they want is the return of slavery.

  192. The solution to the problem of low wages and people fleeing blue collar labor is obvious: stronger unions.

    Don't expect the republicans, even our friendly neighborhood republican, Mr. Brooks, to admit to this fact, though.

  193. I agree, but make sure the top isn't crooked --- that is where unions ran into trouble.

  194. Politicians have to figure out how to solve 2 major problems with a coordinated plan. Everyone knows that Social Security is progressively running low on funds and the forthcoming crisis is being kicked down the road.

    Concurrently, the reality is that there are millions of low-skilled jobs that won't be filled unless there are hard-working migrants who will do them for a minimal salary. So start a huge guest worker program and levy a special tax on these people such that they pay into Social Security for the privilege of working here and make it so they can't get any of the benefits of the program no matter the circumstance.

    And while we're at it, convince American students to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) because there are currently millions of high-paying, high-tech jobs that either go begging or are filled by high-skilled foreigners.

  195. "So start a huge guest worker program and levy a special tax on these people such that they pay into Social Security for the privilege of working here and make it so they can't get any of the benefits of the program no matter the circumstance."
    You have described the H1B visa in a nutshell. Though, the sponsoring company can always apply for a green card which is subject to national quotas and hence longer wait times for people from countries like India.

  196. If workers are making a minimum wage in the U S I doubt that they will be able to pay a special fee into Social Security. These people should not be treated as " slaves" or share croppers. We have already done this as a country and it was shameful.
    As all immigrants, they should be allowed to be free to flourish. But I do agree we should give green cards to all foreign STEM graduates- we are losing a lot of talent.

  197. There are Americans who have been displaced from their jobs by employers using loopholes or simply improperly using the little audited skilled worker visas: H1b, L1 and B1.
    Stop saying Americans are not studying STEM or able to work in STEM fields because that is not true.

  198. Why bother to actually do some research and base policy on that, when you can do what makes you feel good, gets you votes, and then justify it by making stuff up? --much easier.

  199. Not surprisingly since it's Brooks's signature, he misses the point completely. Cotton, Purdue, Bannon, the GOP generally don't care about employment, labor, wages or any of that heady economic mumbo jumbo. They wanna wash the scum from the streets and purify the U.S. of A. to make it as White and Christian as possible. It really couldn't be more transparent. Why does Brooks dignify their views with an intellectual theory?

  200. The wonderful yet hidden part of this piece is that Mr. Brooks has conceded that market forces do not work. The analogy of the river versus the lake is just another way of saying that increased wages have not increased labor supply. Markets do not work when left on their own. Brooks is admitting that the cornerstone of conservative economic thought is nonsense.

  201. An example of a booming town of about 30,000 people with great diversity is Garden City in southwestern KS. NPR did a story on the town early in the week. I know the town well since I go there several times a year. Immigration since the 1970's has made the town boom. New immigration regulations may dry up the labor force for meat packing plants, which provide a heavy base for town, and regional, finances. Those meat packing jobs are not going to be filled by the native born population. The jobs are difficult and already have high turnover. But, people coming to the area from war-torn places see the jobs as a way out.