The Heritage Institute report estimates that under amnesty the average legalized illegal household will take in $43,900 in benefits while paying a little over a third of that in taxes. Those numbers are grim from the standpoint of a tottering economy being asked to take on an even bigger pile of debt and they reveal an even grimmer view of the future.
Set aside the political debates, the tensions over multiculturalism, entitlements and the great political divide, and those numbers reek of a country whose only future is poverty.
Subsidized poverty, even if we had the ability to continue subsidizing it forever, is still poverty. A Food Stamp Nation made up of slums full of bodegas and check cashing places does not offer any kind of future. Its only growth industries are in expensive government jobs or cheap service jobs leading to an economy of two tiers; one for workers and another for political workers.
"A report came out recently which showed what most Mexicans had long suspected - there is almost no social mobility in the country whatsoever. If you are born into poverty the chances are very high that you will die poor too," a BBC report from Mexico concludes.
Now substitute America for Mexico. Imagine a society sharply divided between the working class and the government class where political connections mean more than any single other factor.
The report begins with the daughter of the Federal Attorney General for Consumer Protection shutting down a restaurant because they wouldn't give her a seat and ends with two wealthy women abusing a police officer by calling him "asalariado" or "wage earner".
Asalariado is becoming an insult in the United States. And the irony is that amnesty for illegal aliens may complete the process through which the people who came here looking to find opportunities that didn't exist in Mexico will turn America into Mexico.
America hardly had any class issues because both the rich and the poor worked. A Carnegie or a Rockefeller might be able to buy and sell a thousand ordinary men, but still started out at the bottom of the ladder and never stopped working. To have proper class issues, you need a permanent leisure class to create that gap between those who work and those who do nothing.
In a dynamic economy, a leisure class is largely unsustainable. Inheriting a pile of money and then doing nothing is not likely to end well. But a dynamic economy depends on social mobility. An oligarchy regulates the economy into an impoverished predictability in which there is hardly any social mobility and a permanent leisure class. Its permanence depends not on the economy, but on its control.
Or to put it another way, suppose you have X millions of dollars to invest. Do you look for undervalued companies with a future or companies with political connections? In a dynamic economy, you invest based on merit. In an oligarchy, you invest based on political connections because the idea or the model are mostly worthless. The economy is divided up into spheres of influence carved out by interests and guilds.
In the age of Obama, a smart strategy is to invest in politically connected companies with bad business models and then get out before they go down. Nothing of worth or value will be created. Instead the wealth will circulate within the oligarchy and pay out profits with money harvested from the Asalariados, the suckers still trying to claw their way up instead of phlegmatically accepting their plight and cashing their government checks.
Eventually either the checks will get smaller or the price of milk will get higher. The Asalariados may look like suckers in the short term, but they're still getting ahead in the long term. The grasshopper may shop for groceries without checking prices while the ant grits his teeth at the cash register, but when the economic freeze comes, it's the ant who has the skills to survive.
But the oligarchy is designed to keep the ant from climbing too high. The last time the ants climbed too high, feudalism collapsed and gave way to the free enterprise economy, and most of the thinkers of Europe spent centuries trying to figure out how to put everything back into a neatly controllable natural order with lots of farms and lots of cheerful people working on them without complaint.
Communism was just feudalism in the name of the people. And once the revolution happened, the farmers got the worst of it. The Soviet Union confined them to collective farms after starving them. Communist China is throwing them off the land by the millions. American liberalism has become an urban feudalism without the labor. Its vision is millions of people sneering at the Asalariados from the bottom of the ladder while celebrating their freedom from labor and dependence on government.
The end of social mobility has been made to seem appealing. It's been dressed up in subsidies and entitlements, into gateways out of the barrio or the ghetto by becoming a sports star or a pop star, but those are all ways of disguising poverty.
The unemployment numbers can be massaged, welfare can be disguised as disability, the erosion of real jobs can be hidden in government jobs and debt can be turned into investments, but no matter how you dress up poverty, the rags still peek out from underneath.
While liberal politicians give speeches about the possibilities of the future, they know that the future is out of reach for everyone but their own circle. The future seems bright to them, but dim to everyone else. The big corporations are becoming oversized and interdependent, merging and coalescing into each other and into the government. Every industry is coming to resemble the old defense contractor model with government officials and CEOs trading jobs and making lucrative arrangements. Yesterday it was cars, energy and finance. Now it's medicine. And tomorrow some other sector of the economy will be consolidated and rebuilt into an arm of the government.
The mass migration of people, the influx of low skilled workers, exist to make money for some and votes for others, but there is no longer any place for them to go except to the welfare office and the quota machine that funnels a percentage of them into colleges and then government jobs and then back to their old neighborhoods to spread the word on behalf of whatever cause the people who set the quotas want them to.
Whether or not amnesty comes, the United States of America is becoming too much like Mexico; a society of limited possibilities and diminished social mobility. A road to nowhere.
Joseph Chamie, the former director of the United Nations Population Division, recently wrote an article proposing that the United States open its borders to become the world's largest country. All it would have to do is step up immigration from 1.2 million a year to 10 million a year. And then by the end of the century, the country would have 1.6 billion people.
As insane as the Chamie proposal might be, its insanity is just that of extrapolating the existing madness on a grander scale. It's the sort of madness that asks, why settle for drilling a hole in the boat when you can smash the entire hull? Increasing immigration tenfold is crazy, but so is our current policy. Aiming for 1.6 billion is nuts, but so is aiming for 1 billion. It's a difference in scale, not in content. The problem is the content and the context.
America's industrial infrastructure has been dismantled and a welfare state has taken its place. The country is not importing workers, it's importing voters. And the dismantlers are doing the importing. Territorially the United States may be able to absorb 1.6 billion people, though it will cease to be anything resembling its old self long before 2100, even without the insane UN plan, but it can't do so because the economic ability to absorb immigrants is being destroyed by the politics of immigration.
The 1.6 billion strong America of 2100 will look a lot like the places those immigrants came from. It will have the same oligarchies, the same uncontrollably corrupt politics and religious wars, and the same pervasive sense of hopelessness for the vast majority of the population. It will be a failed state.
Imagine an America in which the middle class has receded to a thumbnail but those at the top behave the same way that they do now. Imagine the massive economic burden on a country of wage slaves, the asalariados who are squeezed to pay for all the latest whims and gimmicks, for the thefts and spendthrift academics.
Imagine an Obama with no restraint on his power and no middle class to drain or credit rating to borrow against and you have a true nation of wage slaves in which democracy is largely useless because the political and economic institutions have been consolidated and the population is too powerless to do more than fight with each other for a piece of the government's subsidies.
Immigration is not the trigger for this; it is the accelerant. Even if the Rubio-Schumer strategy for destroying the country fails, the road still leads nowhere. Combining open borders and a closed economy is a disaster. But a closed economy and porous borders are still a disaster. The end of a closed economy is indistinguishable from feudalism and a preview of coming attractions is available in states with high immigrant populations.
Government control of the economy has made votes more powerful than labor. And when voting is more powerful than working, then a new leisure class that looks down on wage slaves is born.