You’re Racist

In my hometown newspaper, I write about Canada’s controversial Temporary Foreign Workers Program. It’s exactly what it sounds like, and it well-positioned to be abused (employers are only supposed to use it if they can’t find Canadian workers, additionally, it puts the Foreign Workers in a vulnerable position).

I’ve written about this stuff before (but I’m not against some self-publicity), but in case you missed it, my take is, essentially, the concept of limiting foreign workers (not too mention immigration and asylum, in general) is essentially xenophobic. Here’s a taste:

Deconstructing the idea that we must make sure “Canadians are first,” we expose the assumption of entitlement. We are assuming that Canadians have an inherent entitlement to job vacancies in Canada. To believe this, we must believe that there is something inherently special about Canadians that grants us privileged treatment.

We are using the geographical placement of birth or the political source of citizenship as proxies for determining the worth of people.

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79 thoughts on “You’re Racist

  1. The problem is that the nation-state as a concept is probably not going away anytime soon. It would be interesting to see what would happen if there was easier immigration among non-developed nations. Basically, a world where Americans could easily move to work in Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc and vice versa.

    I am not completely anti-globalization and do realize that it does increase standards of living in places like Bangladesh. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Bangladesh should need to go through Triangle Fire though.

    The Libertarian/Neo-Liberal ideal is that national politicians should think internationally but they are elected to think of the needs and desires for their constituents at the district/riding and national level. This includes jobs because we are not at the stage where a guaranteed minimum income idea is going to happen anytime soon.

    We would essentially need to completely destroy the idea of a nation-state for your idea to happen.

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    • Nationstates are already destroyed. How often do the multinational corporations pay legal wages in Mexico? Answer: not bloody often (they’re mostly derelict on health care and pension, but they also sometimes pay under minimum wage).

      And that’s MEXICO — in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s got global power on the order of Great Britain (more in commerce, less in finance).

      How the hell do you think it is in Djbouti or Yemen?

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    • I am intrigued by this new libertarian tactic.

      Opposition to something that benefits capital and the Koch Brothers of the worlds=horrible racism. How wonderfully opportunistic. Well you also tell us how universal healthcare is more racist than Jim Crow and Don Sterling comments….

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      • I have seen the error of my ways and withdraw the comment. I mistakenly believed that lifting tens or hundreds of millions of non-Americans out of deep poverty was more important than limiting the growth of the Koch Brothers’ portfolios.

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      • I don’t think that saying persons of color are sometimes harmed by restrictions on trade is necessarily saying that universal health care is “just as racist as” Jim Crow. But keep in mind also that PPACA has been criticized for having an adverse effect on some minority communities:

        http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/10/obamacare-and-the-conscience-of-a-radical/280226/

        Now, Coates is in no way saying Obamacare is “just as bad as Jim Crow,” and from what I understand, he partially retracted what he said in that post and probably supports the law overall. But it’s not a slam dunk to say that ACA doesn’t hurt minorities, end of story.

        And while we’re at it, let’s take a look at Jim Crow. It was a lot of things, and one of those things was a restriction on economic liberty. Jim Crow often required at least some businesses to segregate, for example. Also and more damning of Jim Crow were the “criminal breach of contract” statutes and legal doctrines, which restricted workers’ right to quit, and zealously enforced (often with compulsory labor) laws against the “crime” of vagrancy.

        Again, Jim Crow was other things in addition to restrictions on economic liberty. But it was that, at least sometimes.

        Maybe that’s reading too much into Brandon’s one-liner. But I do think a libertarian can honestly and sincerely say restrictions on freer trade sometimes hurt already marginalized people.

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      • By the way, I said the above because it’s one thing to criticize an apparently flippant comment for its flippancy and opportunisim. It’s another thing to use that apparently flippant comment to smear entire well-meaning arguments that are at least offered sincerely and to generalize about a large group of people (in this case, “libertarians”) without acknowledging many of the differences and nuances among them.

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      • I can’t tell what it is about the article that you object to. Do you think they’re wring about those policies having disparate impact on minorities or is disparate impact only an issue when it can be used to advance your pre-conceived policy preferences? i don’t see any objections when reason makes the same arguments about the war on drugs.

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      • From the original article (and not LGM’s summary):

        They [Sterling and Cliven] can (and should) go fuck themselves, but if the rest of us actually want to address the sort of racism that is screwing over today’s minorities, we’d do well to bust down barriers to work, end the drug war, and tear apart the school monopoly.

        The Reason article in fact was devoted to promoting those three policies and not once did the authors claim those policies were “just as bad as” Jim Crow. They even state the policies may have been enacted with good intentions. And Mr. Loomis’s takedown at LGM doesn’t even make sense. After quoting the Reason article’s critique of what it calls “barriers to work,” Mr. Loomis says,

        So paying people even a subliving wage is racist. The truly antiracist position is a race to the bottom with no floor. I guess that evens the playing field in one respect–if nobody is paid anything to work, there’s no racial wage disparity. A post-racial society indeed.

        Personally, I’m not sure what I think about their critique of the “school monopoly,” but I’m on board with them on the drug war and am at least sympathetic to the barriers to work argument. Whatever one thinks of the arguments, they are real arguments and can be advanced and believed in sincerely. It’s possible some conservative wag might use those arguments because they’re convenient in any given moment. But it’s also possible for someone to believe them to be true.

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      • I’ve also just re-read the title Mr. Loomis assigned to his blog post: “Verbatim Libertarians: The Minimum Wage is More Racist than Donald Sterling or Cliven Bundy.”

        The Reason article emphatically did not say that the minimum wage is “more racist than” Sterling or Bundy. Even the part Mr. Loomis quoted did not say that. It said only that while Sterling and Bundy are bad and racist, them saying racist things is less harmful than the more systematic policies.

        By the way, I’ve seen a very similar position advanced here at OT regarding Sterling. That criticism says that it’s a shame that the only decisive thing that drew people’s ire was Sterling’s comments and not, for example, his racist slumlording. I agree with that criticism, by the way.

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      • Also, , I wasn’t making an argument about disparate impact. Opponents of globalization oppose globalization because it allows American investors to invest abroad and create jobs for foreigners instead of Americans. They are specifically trying to privilege Americans over non-Americans, not doing so incidentally.

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    • I had hoped people would connect the dots, but to elaborate a bit, free movement of labor and free movement of capital have a similar effect: They united capital in need of labor with labor in need of capital. With free movement of labor, the labor comes to the capital, and with free movement of capital, the capital goes to the labor. But either way they meet, with predictable effects on wages and returns on investment.

      If wanting to privilege Americans over non-Americans by restricting immigration is xenophobic, then so is wanting to privilege Americans over non-Americans by restricting trade and foreign investment.

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      • Note also that, paralleling Saul’s invocation of the Koch Brothers, right-wing populists (Steve Sailer, for one) frequently criticize businesses for profiting from immigration.

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      • There is a difference, though. Promoting the free movement of labor vs. the free movement of capital, that is.

        Yes, they will both have predictable effects on wages and returns on investment.

        However, the two sets of externalities that those free movement movements carry with them are different.

        If you allow capital to move freely, it will move to where expenses are lowest, including labor but lots of other things as well. But of course things like pollution, resource management, etc., are also costs, and there’s some indication in the recent historical record to show that capital will go right to where the least amount of externalized costs are forced back upon production by whatever the local government is.

        If you allow labor to move freely, it will move to where benefits are highest, including wages, but including lots of other things as well, including social stability, welfare benefits, basic resource availability, etc.

        Those are two entirely different kettles of fish.

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  2. I fundamentally disagree with the Reason/Cato/Libertarian position that free-market and unregulated capitalism is an axiomatic good. I don’t think that getting rid of the minimum wage will increase the ability of people to make a living wage, I think it will result in a race to the bottom and less than living wages. I also disagree with the idea that it is mainly teenagers who work minimum wage jobs.

    As for licensing as barriers to entry, I have been over my position before. Reform is necessary but licensing and training also do often validly serve for consumer protection interests and limit the chance of risk. I’m open to the idea of staggered licensing. Hair braiders, probably don’t need a license. Barbers who want to use a straight-edge razor to give nifty old-time shaves should be trained and licensed. People who do things like waxing and chemical peels, should be licensed. Lawyers and doctors, should be trained and licensed but reform can happen here as well.

    I like the idea that when I go into a restaurant or bar, I know it has been given a proper health inspection and the kitchen is clean and free of cross contamination issues. Is this a barrier to entry? Yes. Does it serve a more valid purpose like preventing regular food poisoning with salmonella and other diseases? Also yes.

    Cavaet Emptor is not a great philosophy for a society to work under.

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    • I fundamentally disagree with the Reason/Cato/Libertarian position that free-market and unregulated capitalism is an axiomatic good.

      I agree. Well regulated, however, is to be commended. It’s a constant process, not a fixed state; markets and capital and our sense of right and wrong and what we know all flux.

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    • sure there non-racist reasons to support licensing but that doesn’t address the issue of disparate impact. if disparate impact is a problem it is problem regardless of ideology you shouldn’t make disparate impact arguments when they advance you policy preferences and dismiss them when they don’t.

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    • I agree with much of what you say in your comment. My major disagreement, however, is with this:

      the Reason/Cato/Libertarian position that free-market and unregulated capitalism is an axiomatic good.

      I don’t read Reason much–I’ve probably read only about 5 articles my entire lifetime–but I don’t get the impression the Reason/Cato/Libertarian position is always that the good “free-market and unregulated capitalism” is axiomatic. “Always” probably does a lot of work, of course, and there really are minarchists and anarcho-capitalists. But I do think many libertarians–e.g., Aitch–agree with some regulation and far from assuming that the good of less regulation is axiomatic have gone to great pains to demonstrate why and how it works.

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      • “I don’t read Reason”

        You should. Especially their work on incandescent light bulbs, net neutrality, and legalized marijuana. You might form a different opinion of just how axiomatic they can be.

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      • Possibly. And it’s possibly also true of Cato, which I rarely read. I don’t think it’s true of libertarians as a group, however.

        I was running some errands over the last hour or so and thinking about Saul’s point on the axiomaticity (is that a word?) of the goodness of free markets. And I do think the standard libertarian ideal is an economy in which the only regulations are to protect third parties against direct harms, such as fraud.* They might say that in practice, we’ll never get there, but it’s a good thing to aim for. The axiomatic good in that case is not the free(r) market, although the free(r) market is an instantiation of that good. Rather, the axiomatic good is individual autonomy and ability to choose one’s own life directions. A libertarian, as I understand libertarians, seek to maximize this autonomy by maximizing choices and challenging the extent to which any coercion that limits those choices claims legitimacy.

        I think that view can be criticized, but it’s a hard thing to critique without adopting one’s own axioms. I can, for example, posit something like the existence of a “public thing” (a res publica, or common weal, if you will), and that “thing” in order to survive implies that its members owe each other certain basic minimum living guarantees, like health care, or freedom from the direst forms of want, and so on. That is my view, but it’s a hard sell to someone who doesn’t already share it. And it also gets fuzzy when it comes to such questions as “what counts as a basic need?” or “how do we delimit the bounds of this public thing? Does it stop at the local government? Or does it stop somewhere higher, at the level of the nation-state, or all humanity, or all sentient beings?”

        My other difficulty is that I find a lot of appeal in what I understand the libertarians’ axioms to be. And although as a practical matter, I tend to side with the liberal version of public thing, I always have the imperative of individual autonomy nagging at me.

        So yeah, there’re some axioms there, but they’re not easy really to disentangle. And maybe Reason in general indulges in all sorts of specious and question-begging arguments. But the article in question, in my view, does not do that.

        *That’s speaking only economically. There’s also the whole civil libertarian aspect.

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      • You should. Especially their work on incandescent light bulbs, net neutrality, and legalized marijuana. You might form a different opinion of just how axiomatic they can be.

        In what sense?

        Reason very rarely has some interesting pieces, but there’s a consistent trend of Nick Gillespie and Peter Suderman consistently mocking the idea of net neutrality. Suderman and Gillespie are almost always chronic glib in their dismissal of everything from net neutrality debates to even the concept of healthy eating and consistently do so in a way where their goal seems to be to just score points for Team Red. (Gillespie to cite a recent example jumped on the whole “White House Pastry Chef quits because he doesn’t want to demonize cream” bandwagon….)

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    • one more thing people on the left have no problem with the argument the requiring Doctors who preform abortion to gain admitting privileges are wrong because they have disparate impact on women.

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      • i’m sorry about that what i meant to write was:

        People on the left have no no problem with the argument that requiring Doctors who preform abortions to gain admitting privileges are wrong because they have disparate impact on women.

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      • You’re still speaking babble to me,

        What do you mean? Who is making what argument about what? Specifics, man. Because what you are saying makes no sense.

        Yes, in a state that requires doctors who perform abortions to have privileges but refuses to give those doctors privileges, it does have a disparate impact on women. They cannot get abortions, a medical procedure they are legally entitled to have if they need it.

        So tell me again, what’s the problem here? Tell me in plain English what you think you’re proving, because I think your just being silly.

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      • a number of states have passed occupational licensing laws that require all doctors who preform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. opponents of these argue that they have disparate impact on women. anyone who makes such any argument believes that occupational licensing can sometimes have a negative impact on groups of people. yet when someone suggest that other occupational licensing laws(such as those on hair braiding) have a disparate impact they turn around and argue that the idea is crazy on it face.

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      • i can’t find a comprehensive list but Texas and Mississippi have been in the news lately, i believe that similar laws are on the books in a number of other states.

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      • They have occupational licenses, they’re doctors. MD’s.

        Admitting privileges has nothing to do with their medical competence, and if something goes horribly wrong for some reasons, another doctor can admit a patient from a clinic. So state’s who think women are sluts and should have to suffer the consequences of an unintended pregnancy — that’s 1 in 5 women, for your information — want to use a form of licensing — hospital admitting privileges — to stop these doctors from performing abortions.

        The courts have already ruled that’s an abuse of women’s right to end a pregnancy.

        So get over it.

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      • Dand, Texas wants to require doctors who perform abortions to have hospital privileges. They don’t want to require doctors with privileges to preform abortions. No state does, to my knowledge.

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      • i’m not defending the laws requiring admitting privileges(although on the surfaces they same more defensible than the regulations that many cities place one food trucks) i’m pointing that people are being hypocritical with their standards for occupational licensing.

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      • I got that,

        That’s fine; I find it odious.

        We can agree, you know, to disagree about things. But I don’t believe the state has any right telling a woman what to do with her uterus. If hospitals don’t want to treat women’s reproductive health, then a trick to ban women from accessing legal health-care services is just idiotic and backward.

        I’ve got no problem at all with any woman deciding that abortion is immoral, and deciding to follow through with an unplanned pregnancy. But I don’t have a problem with her deciding it’s moral, either. Often, it is. I presume she’s capable of making that decision, since she’s a fully-free person, you know?

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      • Regarding privileges, it should be noted that that’s actually quite tricky terrain. Requirements to get privileges can be pretty flexible and can be set at the whims of people with the wrong vested interests.

        This is a bit of a sore point for me because getting obstetrical privileges has been a bit of a thorn in our side. Despite the fact that my wife has delivered somewhere near 1,000 babies.

        Where Clancy did her residency, it was generally expected that they train you to deliver babies and then you take your FP/OB skills elsewhere (or you choose not to deliver babies). When one of the residents graduated and set up shop in town, abrogating the agreement, they couldn’t stop him. But they could raise the requirements to prevent it from happening again. It had little to do with patient safety and a lot to do with turf-protection. (My wife graduated from the residency a year later, and was told that she would need a fellowship.) I can imagine hospitals doing the same for ideological or religious reasons.

        So, setting aside the abortion morality question, it strikes me as problematic to use “local hospital privileges” as a proxy qualification for clinic work. I can’t say for certain that what they did in Texas is unprecedented, but I can only imagine such a thing if what they did in the clinic was likely to carry over into the hospital. With the exception of putting up a roadblock to getting an abortion, I am skeptical that there is sufficient rationale for such a law or requirement. Especially given that it came from the state and not the medical board (as far as I know).

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      • I think I get it now; I did not properly register you bright and shining *not.* You think liberals are hypocrites because they support licensing laws, but don’t support this license law, which hey, btw, limits women’s access to legal medical services in a state where there’s already a shortage.

        But Liberals don’t have this check list, license good, require in all situations, like you seem to think; that’s like this weird conservative assumption that’s simply not based in reality. The notion that liberals always want licenses as a measure of consistency in not even a liberal consideration for this particular situation that merits consideration; what you’re suggesting would be like checking your oil to see how much gas you’ve got in your tank.

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      • no exactly i’m saying liberals are hypocrites because they oppose the admitting privileges requirement while in other cases mocking the very idea that licensing requirements both serve no useful purpose and have a disparate impact on minority groups.

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      • every liberal I know — and I’ve known two that have presidential nominees — would look at each individual case and not make a judgement on on licenses.

        Like I said, check the right freakin’ gauge.

        If conservatives would get over this ‘all liberals want regulation,’ and actually talked about specific regulations, I’m pretty sure there are quite a few liberals would be happy to get rid of because they’re just rent seeking. Others, they’d view as necessary to protect the public good.

        But we can’t actually talk about the details, can we? We’ve got to be the liberals conservatives want us to be and stand on our mountain “all licensing possible must be achieved.”

        Sorry. I’ll be the liberal you want, and you can go on wasting your time babbling nonsense about the liberal you think I am.

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      • I think licensing requirements are usually a bad idea, and that without a clear risk to public health or safety (doctors, civil engineers, etc.), they should pretty much be eliminated.

        Maybe simple, inexpensive tests for certain sorts of thing. But hair braiding? Seriously? That is nothing but shitty rent seeking.

        In other words, oh look! a straw man!

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    • As far as minimum wages and health inspections, if I disagree at all, my disagreements are quibbles:

      Raising minimum wages: the good comes with bad, and neither is easy to measure or predict. The good: the lowest paid people in the non-black-market workforce get paid more; their being paid more interjects more money in the economy, which could create more jobs for others, again at the elevated wages. The bad: some people lose their jobs or find it necessary to work in the black or grey labor markets; prices go up (though not necessarily at the same rate as wages). (By the way, I agree that it’s a mistake to say “all minimum wage earners are teenagers.” It’s possible a majority are, but maybe not. I do think, though, that not all teenagers are the suburban middle class kids working for car money. Many of them are from much less affluent families and have to contribute to the household.)

      Health inspections: I think health inspections are a good thing and they could be made even better. Still, you wouldn’t want to rely on the existence of a health department in choosing your restaurants. Even A-rated restaurants can have environments that would make some people gag. And a heckuva lot of restaurants squeak by with less than A ratings. (Not to mention the problems with bribes or ways to game the system.) That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have those regulations, just that it’s still caveat emptor to a larger degree than some ought to be comfortable with.

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  3. FWIW, as a disenfranchised resident alien myself, I think there’s a decent, non-racist argument to be made for citizenship as a condition for certain privileges. The argument involves needing people who live in a place to invest in their responsibilities *as* citizens, and the bargaining involved – if there’s no incentive to become a citizen there’s no incentive to take on the responsibilities of one.

    But that’s predicated on making the barriers to citizenship non-xenophobic. Which they very rarely are.

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    • Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would allow non-citzen but legal residents the right to serve on juries because he thought that jury duty was a privilege of citizenship. Whether actual citizens consider it a privilege is up for debate.

      When I was in Japan, I had a student who spent sometime in England as an expat. He said he was allowed to vote in municipal but not national elections. I can go for something like that.

      I can find it on this wiki though

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_of_foreigners_to_vote

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  4. “You’re Racist”
    Let us, at least, correct the record to show that people in England complaining about “Polish Plumbers” are in fact “bigots” (according to Gordon Brown,) but can not readily be called racists.

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  5. The folks a nation state have a perfect justification to keep out anyone they might want to. They are already there and vote. They are free to designate who may come live in their community, what skills, education or wealth the newcommers have. There’s nothing wrong with that and it’s not racist. It’s “democracy”. Until and unless the planet comes under the rule of a global democracy, that’s the way it should be.

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    • There’s nothing wrong with that and it’s not racist. It’s “democracy”.

      Democracy and racism are not mutually exclusive. And when the Demos isn’t generally opposed to immigration, but only to the immigration of certain groups, it very well can be racist.

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      • @J@m3z Aitch

        It’s racist if the policy is “no immigration to this country by blacks/jews/etc.”. It’s not racist if the policy is “no immigration to this country by folks from africa” or “no immigration from China, unless you are rich.”

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      • Damon,
        When the old Korean gentleman spits on any Japanese person he meets, that’s racism, despite the fact that they’re ostensibly of the same race.

        Also, when America sends jewish refugees to the German Death Camps, that’s fucking racism. Even if they don’t fucking have the money to immigrate.

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      • @J@m3z Aitch

        I really find it surprising that no one seems to “get it”. So I’ll try again.

        If Canda decides that the countrys immigration policy is to recruit ONLY Taiwaneese individuals and bar everyone else, it’s not racist to the black Nigerian guy who wants to get to Canada but can’t.

        If Canada wants to attract anyone with a certain net worth, who will invest in Canada (black, white, jew, etc.), and exclude everyone else, it’s not racist to those excluded. The country is exercizing it’s perogative to determine who they will allow in.

        It IS racist to for Canada to allow white south africans into the country but exclude black africans if the exclusion is because of skin color.

        Clear now?


        None of your examples deal with the immigration policy of gov’ts and therefore aren’t relative to the point I’m making.

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      • No, Damon, it’s not clear. I think the logic is badly flawed.

        Given that Africa is vastly, overwhelmingly non-white, banning all Africans may be a way of ensuring non-whites don’t enter, while hiding the racist intent under a scrim of equal treatment. This is where disparate impact enters the picture.

        And it’s quite common for people who are generally racist to identify select members of the despised race as acceptable. “I don’t like those racials, but Joe’s ok.” Monetary wealth could be one way to do that. “We don’t like Chinese, but if they’ve got enough money, I guess they’re all right.”

        Your examples could potentially demonstrate a non-racist policy, but they are far from excluding the possibility of racism.

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      • Hanley

        Well I find “disparate impact” to be mostly BS so…If the underlying policy isn’t racist, the outcome isn’t.

        If the policy excludes specific groups for racists reasons such as “africans are dumb savages that will spread crime”, it’s a racist policy. If it excludes people for legitimate reasons, it ain’t. To use africa again, africa is filled with poorly educated, unskilled people. It’s perfectly reasonable and not racist to have a policy that requires immigrants to some level of education, just as it’s not racist to require that immigrants are free of malaria or yellow fever, both of which can be found in africa.

        It’s also not racist to say “anyone can come here if you have a graduate degree and a net worth of 500k USD”. I tend to prefer the second example.

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      • Well I find “disparate impact” to be mostly BS so…If the underlying policy isn’t racist, the outcome isn’t.

        Well, there’s our disagreement. While disparate impact can be overused, in its essence I don’t find it BS at all.

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    • If you’re judging people as either Canadian (yay!) or not-Canadian (not-yay), then you’re pretty much falling into the trap of xenophobia.

      My argument wasn’t actually about racism; it was about xenophobia (which should be clear in the op-ed). I used the “You’re Racist” title to be short, catchy and inflammatory (and, I hope it’s clear, that the OP–rather than the op-ed–was written with a bit of tongue-in-cheek-ness.

      That being said, I don’t object to people using “racism” when they’re talking about xenophobia. The two tend to track.

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  6. If you look back to anyones ancestry 12 generations you will most likely be seeing nearly 40,000 people standing shoulder to shoulder for 2.35 miles. Racism appears to be more a construct of agendas.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bY4qQ7zZFI

    I highly respect the Canadian people and would hope they could parse how immigration affects them locally without contending with “clever” agendas.

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    • You’re off an order of magnitude: 2^12 is about 4000. 2.3 miles is right, if you’re giving each person 3 feet.

      Of course, if they’re European royalty, there would be many fewer.

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