My friend Meryle Secrest, a famed biographer and long-time newspaper reporter who was born in Bath, England, has been concerned for many years about the unimpeded invasion of immigrants, particularly those who arrive illegally, but even legal ones, who were allowed in while the UK was part of the European Union.
In “The Crisis of Good Intentions: From Paris to Palo Alto, ‘clean and green’ policies punish the poor,”Bill McGurn writes in a December 10, 2018, The Wall Street Journal column that capitalism has caused some people to get hurt. For example, “Let us stipulate it’s foolish to pretend the market is without its costs. A 57-year-old General Motors worker in Ohio who will be laid off as his company expands production in Mexico may understandably balk at the argument that, in the larger scheme of things, it’s all for the best.”
Then McGurn turns to the turmoil in France with this comment:
Yet the recent protests across France ought to remind us that market decisions aren’t the only ones that can make life difficult for those trying to get by on their paychecks. For in these protests are we not seeing French citizens who have lost faith in the ability of their government to fulfill its most basic tasks, along with a growing resentment of the high price inflicted on ordinary French men and women by the good intentions of their elites?
What are those basic tasks? Rather than talk in the abstract about “capitalism” one has to wonder as Meryle Secrest, long an American citizen, and over 60% of all American citizens have, why did McGurn not mention the open border aspect of being in the European Union which allows any immigrant from any member free access to any nation in the Union?
Next, turning to Brexit, McGurn writes:
Nor are the French the only ones with doubts about the judgment of their elites. Whatever the merits of Brexit, at its core it reflects the British people’s distrust of the proposition that a supranational government in Brussels knows best. Given how their own government has botched things, it’s hard to conceive of any ending for Brexit that doesn’t promise even less British confidence in their leaders.
Secrest and I share McGurn’s views, and in a December email 11 Secrest so eloquently stated:
Dear Bill, As a former Brit & one who likes to go back ‘home’ every year, I am following events with intense interest & reading everything I can find. Even so it seems to me that there are more questions than answers. For instance, when it was clear that people voted to leave for three reasons:
(A) When an unelected and officious band of bureaucrats burrows into the minutest of area in one’s life as, for instance, the size of jam jars in a church bazaar,
(B) Puts its own legal superstructure on one’s own, 1,000 plus year history of hard-won, much admired British justice, and then
(C) Tells a tiny country in which 65 million people live on 65 million acres (one acre per person) that it WILL accept as many newcomers as it, the unelected band of bureaucrats, decrees.
Why is it then that – All the discussion hinges on trade & the Irish border and none on (A) (B) or (C)?
Last time I managed to squirrel out the truth I was not sure that (B) or (C) was even in the agreement…?
And why is the sky falling if the British pound is devalued? As far as I can see the British pound has been overvalued for years and a lower pound can only improve its trading prospects.
You are so sane – I am sure you can explain it all to your readers. I have given up trying.
The vast majority of American citizens have been asking the same immigration reform questions for years only to have both major U.S. parties succumbing to their alleged bases for more cheap labor over the interests of American workers. Instead of crying over building an expensive wall, the passage of a permanent and mandatory use by U.S. employers of the present U.S. government program E-Verify would require immigrant workers to prove they are here legally. How simple is that?
McGurn reports the downsides for citizens when he talks about our past glitches.
The U.S. has its own versions. Until recently Exhibit A was the war America lost – the ‘War on Poverty.’ More than 50 years and trillions of dollars after Lyndon B. Johnson launched it with the best of intentions, all we have to show for it is the devastation of the black family and the dysfunctions of our inner cities.
Today, however, the crisis of good intentions is manifested most dramatically in the green movement, particularly in California. In a recent article for TheOrange County Register, Chapman University’s Joel Kotkin and Marshall Toplansky write that ‘California is creating a feudalized society characterized by the ultra-rich, a diminishing middle class and a large, rising segment of the population that is in or near poverty.’ California now has the highest overall poverty rate in the nation, they write, and suffers from a level of inequality ‘closer to that of Central American banana republics.’
The babble of our present leaders does not give me much hope that they can learn from the past or even from the disasters that they see in Europe.