Monday, May 18, 2009

Libertarian angst at American demographic shifts

I was distressed to read this rabid piece from libertarian Arnold Kling "The Emerging Stagnant Majority", where a poor argument is laid out for a permanent shift in increasing government entitlements due to demographic shifts in America from Hispanic and Asian immigration.  It is hysterical and shows a bad case of "Democrats/Obama on the brain".  Here is a representative quote:
I think we will see this trend emerge much more strongly over the next decade, as it becomes clear that the Republican Party is not going to win another national election.
The recent actions of the Republican Party shows them to be friends of Libertarians? This sounds like Moon-Man talk.  That so much hysteria is generated from a fellow, Obama, who is a hair slightly to the left of Clinton, who was himself a hair slightly to the left of Reagan. The dismal fortunes of the Republicans comes from their agenda of making themselves as loathsome as possible to a majority of voters, short of a explicit party plank of poisoning the beloved pets of likely voters.
How am I supposed to distinguish this piece from bald racism? I will just force myself to be charitable, and say it is a sign of personal stress.
Happily, co-blogger on the Econ-Log site, Bryan Caplan, wrote a comprehensive reply to point out the silliness of libertarians worrying about demographic shifts in America from Hispanic and Asian immigration: "The Case Against Libertarian Hispanophobia".  The post is short, readable, comprehensive, and persuasive.
This is my comment, posted:
> Ethnically homogeneous countries like Sweden tend to have large welfare states, because voters are happy to help people "like them." Ethnically diverse countries like the U.S. have smaller welfare states, because voters aren't so happy to help "the other."
Thank you for reminding us of this point. I think this particular argument shows most clearly that there is very little worry that the on-going demographic shift will lead to a Scandinavian welfare state.
Frankly, 1st and 2nd generation immigrants are the first to laugh in the faces of the very worst of mindless left-wing thinkers. 1st and 2nd generation immigrants often have direct exposure to the follies and horrors of communism, left-wing dictators, and violent left-wing militants, which makes them the loudest proponents of the American style of reduced entitlements. They see, clearly, the direct path between promises of mass entitlements and left-wing confiscation and violence.
In my own household, I would suppose I am the most left-wing. My deceased father-in-law was tortured in a communist Vietnamese re-education camp, so if I make a statement that smacks of Marx, I can expect anything up to, and including, a slap across the face from my wife, for which I am grateful, for I can repair my political stance. All the Hispanic immigrants I have encountered (outside of university) are the first to call out Castro and Hugo Chávez as dangerous monsters and laughable clowns, which is much more than the very worst of mindless left-wing thinkers in America, and their intellectual enablers, are willing to do.
Again, thank you, Bryan Caplan, for making the argument that libertarian angst at American demographic shifts is overwrought and silly. All your points are sound, and I would only emphasize the solidly libertarian tendencies of 1st and 2nd generation immigrants with direct exposure to the follies and horrors of communism, left-wing dictators, and violent left-wing militants.
[Added 05/19]
Arnold Kling replied, and pointed to a response to Bryan Caplan's take on his post: "Why I Fear a One-Party State".  The argument for the United States becoming a One Party State is expanded further in two posts: Caplan "One-Party Democracy Is Not Coming: I'll Bet on It!" and Kling "Bet Accepted".
I have to be honest, it is difficult to see consistancy between the starting article "The Emerging Stagnant Majority" and how the cross-posting progressed.  Kling got called out for this statement, which is difficult to defend:
In the NWW world, an open-access order avoids stagnation because of political competition. [...] The demographic picture, in which traditional Republican voting groups are shrinking as a proportion of the electorate, means that the Democrats have to worry less and less about alienating economic elites, as long as they can maintain an identity politics that appeals to non-whites.
Imagine Hispanics comprising 51% of electorate.  Mayor Villaraigosa has a tenuous hold on Los Angeles with such a Hispanic majority, and this can possibly be described as putting the 51% Hispanic majority against "white" economic interests.  Does it follow that this logic can be extended to nationwide control of the United States, by pandering to a national Hispanic 51%?
Even Kling cannot argue this.  In his post "Bet Accepted" Kling lists 7 reasons why the Republicans would continue to fail at the national level.  Only 2 of the 7 relate to demographics of immigrants at all, and "The larger Hispanic population poses a challenge for Republicans" is simply stated at not fleshed out at all.  It is taken as a given, even though Hispanics are not heavily unionized and Hispanics are social conservatives, both of which could be exploited for a Republican in-road.  I tend to agree with Kling that "The larger Hispanic population poses a challenge for Republicans", but notice how the argument has shifted, from causality purely from a growing Hispanic electorate to causality from a Republican inability to deal with 7 distinct national trends.
Pandering to a Hispanic 51% nationwide, just cannot be done in the same way that Mayor Villaraigosa panders to a Hispanic 51% in Los Angeles.  Nationwide, the issues that could possibly contain 51% of Hispanics become too diverse, and quickly also encompass non-Hispanic voters.  Expanding this point: any nationwide 51% that supports larger entitlements cannot be monolithic enough to forbid any possible entre by Republicans, no matter how large a percentage a particular ethnic group may hold.


Arnold said...

You and Bryan both read into my post that I was saying that Hispanics support a welfare state. I was not saying that. I have a follow-up post that you should read.

manuelg said...

I have to stand by my first take. I added a note to the post taking in account the cross-posting between Arnold Kling and Bryan Caplan.