Monday, July 3, 2017

How About Those Millennials!

Flying from Seattle to Fort Lauderdale on the Alaska Airlines daily non-stop I got to sit next to a millennial.

And do you know what I have to say? The kids are all right.

This young man is a personal trainer in Vacaville, California. That's mid way between San Francisco and Sacramento on I-80. He'd worked for the man for several years, but now had opened his own gym and was running classes and selling videos of his classes. Indeed he was making money off his gym every which way.

So he knew all about paying business taxes! In California! And he was full of entrepreneurial energy, and thinking up new ideas to monetize his gym and his expertise.

But while we could agree on the fact that there is no such thing as a free lunch or lifetime employment, this young man had all the conventional ideas about global warming and immigration.

And he voted for Bernie Sanders! Bless his heart!

Which shows that, in this school of life, if there is one thing we learn it is that people are all over the map.

We had a good, spirited discussion, occasionally interrupted by the mountain woman across the aisle, who was moving from Yakima, Washington, up towards Chinook Pass.

I think that I gave a good account of myself on everything except immigration.

This guy pointed out that he has all kinds, races and immigrants, in his gym, and hires all kinds in his gym, and if they pay the fees and/or do the work, they all belong in America. Nation of immigrants. Wonderful people.

Oh, and by the way, this young Millennial had a problem with Make America Great Again. What do you mean, Great Again, he said: America is Already Great! What a guy!

So how do you counter with the Trumpian notion that we need to protect existing Americans, keeping jobs in America and dialing down the immigration?

I didn't have a ready-made argument for this -- an argument that might persuade a young businessman full of energy and confidence in his own ability to make the world work.

In l'esprit d'escalier I think my argument would go like this.

The only thing that government does that is worth a darn is to protect its people. We all agree that the first job of protection is to protect people from enemies, foreign and domestic. But nearly everyone thinks that protection must go further than that. It must also provide some sort of economic protection.

Now if you are a libertarian conservative like me you say that this economic protection should be minimal, providing protection from fraudsters and sharks. Other than that, the market and its prices should rule, because anything else is folly that will just demonstrate, probably sooner rather than later, the Law of Unintended Consequences, and make things worse.

But the fact is that nearly all people in America -- and doubtless elsewhere in the world -- think that government should provide much more economic protection than the program of the minimal state. An example is the Voter Survey Project for 2016 that showed near unanimity on the idea of keeping Social Security and Medicare as is. I blogged about it here. Most humans want government to provide substantial economic protection. I'd say that means limiting immigration, to protect domestic wage rates from the law of supply and demand, and limiting the competition from emerging nations like China with modest tariff protection.

Yes, immigrants -- like me -- are the best people in the world. But the protection of the American people, physically and economically, comes first. Now, a wise and worthy ruling class will study their settled science and wisely advise their subjects on the practical and just limits of economic protection, so that's all right. For instance they would advise their subjects against foolishness like advocating lifetime employment, or minimum wages, or defined-benefit pensions, or any of that rubbish.

Then there is the more controversial argument of the alt-right, that immigration equals invasion. This argues that immigrants are not just customers and workers, and they are not just competing for Our Jobs; they bring their culture, and most likely their culture is less friendly to the individualist free economy, separation of church and state, and tolerance for others that characterizes our American culture. Yes, indeed; just ask the native Americans about that.

The more immigrants, the more they are going to change the culture, and the more likely that some immigrant group, or coalition of immigrant groups, will form a head of rebellion against the current dominant culture. Or the current ruling class might mobilize immigrants against their local political opponents, as in cultural elite plus immigrants against the white working class. But that would never happen here.

OK. So now I am ready to deal with the next millennial that's inhaled too much of the ruling class's conventional wisdom.

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