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Culture War Roundup for the week of January 8, 2024

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Texas Border Flareup... Again

Border Patrol’s normal access to the border through entry points in the federal border barrier is likewise blocked by the Texas National Guard installing its own gates and placing armed personnel in those locations to control entry. See id. at 4a. And the Texas National Guard has likewise blocked Border Patrol from using an access road through the pre- existing state border barrier by stationing a military Humvee there.

Texas has seized a public park in Eagle Pass to take control of a 2.5 mile stretch of the border( This is a bigger deal than it seems; the only boat launch and main surveillance point for miles is located there, effectively preventing border patrol from operating over a relatively wider frontage.


The State of Texas has long been adding concertina wire to the border to prevent crossings, and has been accusing the federal government of cutting it to allow migrants to cross. Recently Texas won an injunction in court blocking the federal government from doing this, and the federal government has of course appealed, but the injunction includes an exception for if cutting the wire is necessary to assist migrants experiencing a medical emergency.

So Texas seized the main surveillance point and boat launch(in this sector) for the border patrol to prevent them seeing migrants experiencing a medical emergency. For the record, I don't trust the federal government with this "medical emergency" exception either, but this is flatly illegal in, well, pretty much every way you approach it.

Of course the border patrol union is siding with Abbott, which would make it awkward for fedgov if they cared. Although Abbott's justification has nothing to do with the border patrol union's:

Texas has the legal authority to control ingress and egress into any geographic location in the state of Texas, and that authority is being asserted with regard to that park in Eagle Pass

And anecdotally his fundraising emails are talking a lot more about state sovereignty than normal. It led to a twitter breakdown by Gina Hinojosa(head of the Texas democrats) accusing him of being a secessionist, and the admittedly low chance of Gina Hinojosa of all people meming Texas independence into the political mainstream through the power of negative partisanship is kind of hilarious.

But back to the topic at hand; it's unclear what Abbott's actual game is; he's an accomplished constitutional lawyer(literally; that's how he became governor) and knows he's going to lose at court. He's also never been the reckless type and so it's unlikely he did this without thinking it through. Angling for a Trump cabinet seat, maybe? It also surprises me that he did this now; primaries are coming up in March, and Abbott endorsed a relatively wide array of candidates to try to shift the house in a more partisan republican direction; taking a political risk like this one is unlike him.

The behavior of the federal government here is bizarre.

In the US, how many people are open-borders advocates? 5% 10%? And yet, the people who pull the strings in the federal government seem to be okay with defacto open borders. Let's be honest. Most of the people who are processed, shipped to another state, and given a court date years in the future will be here for good.

There appear to be two paths to US citizenship. A legal route, which is nearly impossible for most people, and an illegal route which gets easier and easier.

Recently a school in Brooklyn was shut down (for one day) to house illegal migrants. Source, with bonus inaccurate fact check:

New York and other cities are howling about migrants being bussed into their communities, but so far seem reluctant to change their sanctuary city policies. Why? Just to stick it to Trump? To me it seems only fair that migrants be housed in the communities that explicitly claim to want them.

This has to be the number issue for every Republican candidate in 2024. It seems that the European migrant problems have made it to America. The situation seems to be getting out of control.

Why? Just to stick it to Trump?

They want to replace and degrade whites and white men in particular. There's an elite consensus that this is the way to go.

Economically - diversity quotas, govt contracts favouring non-white companies, hostile workplace environment lawsuits and affirmative action. We see various leaked information showing how white men were disfavoured in RAF hiring, how the USAF plans to make its staff more representative of America, how 20% of HR workers admit they've done it, IIRC.

Socially - see for a huge list of examples in advertising. I can't think of any modern ads that sneer at blacks, with the exception of that Chinese ad where a young woman put her black suitor in the washing machine until he turned Chinese. There's also historical revision to prioritize the black-slavery/civil rights narrative in US history. I know enough about historiography to know that you can present and choose different facts to produce hugely different narratives, even before you start lying outright. There's also the whole concept of white privilege.

Physically - see mass immigration, both legal and illegal is the most obvious case. I suppose one could also argue that progressive taxation takes from whites and Asians, gives to blacks and browns, artificially lowering the fertility of productive groups and raising that of less productive groups.

Categorically - see the developing practice of capitalizing 'Black' and 'Brown' while decapitalizing 'white'. Delta Airlines sent a memo specifying this just the other day. The old rule was that ethnicities, regions and states like Caucasian, European or French were capitalized while colours weren't. The new rule clearly singles out whites as not being a real group with a shared identity. See also Ignatiev's theoretical work on undermining whiteness as an identity.

Alternately, observe how traditionally white countries like England are being recategorized as 'nations of immigrants', how the BBC works hard to find and fabricate diversity in history. A Doctor Who episode set in the Victorian era showed 1/3 of London being black/brown with the Doctor remarking that 'history was a whitewash'.

It's easily within the US's capabilities to prevent illegal immigration. This isn't the Russian or Chinese army on the other side of the world (which the US plans to defeat). It's unarmed, disorganized, poorly funded people right next to the US, in a hemisphere the US dominates, hoping to enter and work a job without being imprisoned or deported. Illegal immigration is a political choice for any rich, strong power.

It's hard to deny that a lot of this is true. I've noticed that a large number of ads seem to fall into the "white man is disrespected by woman/minority" category. The Hanes ads where Charlie Sheen tried to be friends with Michael Jordan but was rejected seem to be patient zero. Although obviously the sitcom trope of "husband is stupid oaf / wife is smart" goes back to at least the Simpsons if not further.

I honestly don't understand how these commercials could possibly sell product, so I assume they are just pushing the agendas of the ad execs.

I honestly don't understand how these commercials could possibly sell product, so I assume they are just pushing the agendas of the ad execs.


It's easily within the US's capabilities to prevent illegal immigration. This isn't the Russian or Chinese army on the other side of the world (which the US plans to defeat). It's unarmed, disorganized, poorly funded people right next to the US, in a hemisphere the US dominates, hoping to enter and work a job without being imprisoned or deported. Illegal immigration is a political choice for any rich, strong power.

While the US becoming minority-White might be an added bonus for plenty of establishment democrats with a lot of sway over US immigration policy, the federal government doesn't have the state capacity to deport 10 million people and it won't for the foreseeable future. Nor does it have the state capacity to consistently enforce labor laws for natives, who are better tracked. There's also no good replacement for illegal labor in the US economy; absent migrants working below market wages in jobs no-one else not on probation is willing to take food prices would skyrocket and absent illegals working 12 hour days construction would get even slower and more difficult. This is politically untenable so no one wants to do it.

Now the US can do a lot to slow the tide(like cracking down on sanctuary cities), but it's not just that we can't deport 11 million people, it's that we don't really know how to run a society without them. They do a lot of important jobs Americans refuse to and that's a travesty, but no one knows how to fix it.

They do a lot of important jobs Americans refuse to (construction, food)

Back in the 1950s and 1960s the US could construct things quickly and simply, Eisenhower built the national highway system even as he expelled a million illegal immigrants. If food prices rise, they could try subsidizing or mechanizing labour-intensive work. There are non-trivial expenses in health/education spending on illegal immigrants, that money could be redirected to subsidies. Illegal immigrants undercut domestic workers, it would logically raise employment and wages amongst the working class.

Nobody had this helpless attitude for the other major problems the US faced. When the Arabs launched an oil embargo and plunged the developed world into a recession, the US didn't give up on supporting Israel. They rationed petrol, they launched fuel-efficiency programs, they looked into nuclear energy and renewables.

The US state apparatus is way larger today and has all kinds of fancy AI/surveillance tools, it's well within their abilities to launch Operation Wetback 2.0.

Back in the 50s and 60s Americans were young and thin and quite a bit less rich.

They certainly don't seem to feel rich today, what with the common complaints about rent and healthcare and being unable to support a family on a single income anymore.

Perhaps single income only felt rich before because men were effectively earning their wife's share in the market and their wife felt rich as long as her husband was, resulting in some kind of positive-sum richness feeling?

Most Americans can, in fact, support a family on a single income. Yes, a 50’s size family.

They don’t do it because of lifestyle constraints- every adult has a car and everyone in the house has a room and multiple sets of nice clothes and we eat at restaurants a lot and at home we don’t have beanie weenies is not how the fifties single earner families lived.

You can confiscate the wealth of illegal aliens to fund sending them back. You can implement work ID laws that incentivize migrants to take a ticket back to the US. You can trawl social media etc to find the communities comprised of mostly illegal migrants. You can fine businesses who use illegal labor.

Food prices would only increase as a proportion of income for the already wealthy; the lower class will now find significantly more demand for their labor and can pick and choose which businesses to work for to maximize their quality of life. (We saw this happen with the peasants after the black plague in Europe; fewer peasants = more demand for their labor = a natural wealth redistribution from the wealthy to the poor). They would make more money than the price of food increases. The eradication of remittance payments means more funds in US economy. Would be enormously beneficial for the lower and middle class and really only hurt the very wealthy white collar workers who are far removed from the economic competition of lower/middle class.

You can confiscate the wealth of illegal aliens to fund sending them back.

That would be astoundingly cruel and inhumane.

Who's going to pick fruit and work in slaughterhouses, hmm? I suppose you can use prison labor, but it's not like there's a bottomless well of that either and it's not well-distributed or trustworthy enough.

The poor can go back to eating rice and beans, I guess. But there isn't a scenario where meat and fruits and vegetables prices rise lower than the wages of the american poor and working class. That's assuming the wages of nativeborn workers go up very much at all; illegals mostly work in different industries(eg fruit picking) than the native poor.

If the US government could control immigration, they could let in people who would credibly fill the roles that most need filling, if the polity wills it. And not let in, say, pregnant women who want citizenship with publicly funded healthcare and schooling for their baby, unless the polity actually wants that.

But, yes, the first part is still very difficult under current circumstances.

The pregnant women are more sympathetic than the workers, so the people who would be let in are reversed from how you've described it.

Possibly so, there’s nothing to say even a more functional democracy than ours currently is needs to optimize entirely for economics.

Who does that in Japan? Who does it in Iceland (well they don’t have fruit, but slaughter houses apply)? Millions would be happy to do these jobs once the pay rises, just like you have dudes doing underwater welding. And the pay will rise in the absence of a pseudo slave labor class.

there isn't a scenario where meat and fruits and vegetables prices rise lower than the wages of the american poor and working class [rises]

Sure there is. All of the increase in payment to “food companies” due to the rise in food prices is going to the lower class employee base (who need the money more), yet this increase in payment is paid for by everyone (lower-to-highest classes), meaning you necessarily see a transfer of wealth from upper to lower class; and on top of this, the increased cost of food for the wealthy makes prices more salient, leading to more cost-saving consumer practices which winds up enforcing more competition among food-related businesses.

It's not slave labor when someone voluntarily sells their time at a rate you don't like. It's not even pseudo slave labor.

not even pseudo slave labor

It’s not slave labor, and it’s also not “not genuine” slave labor? That’s what pseudo means. The simplified point is that, just like slave labor is great for the wealthy employers but bad for the non-slave wage competitor, so is it bad when you import a class of people who are practically economic serfs within a given industry: no hope of ever obtaining a better position because of the language barrier / citizenship barrier / possibly no degree at all even in Mexico/Honduras/etc.

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Who does that in Japan?

Fruit and meat are very expensive in Japan per google. Citrus(the largest crop there that needs to be picked by hand) production per this source( is declining in part due to a labor shortage. Japan is a major importer of every category of foodstuff IIRC because the terrain's not suitable for mass agriculture, so I suppose agriculture works differently there. Oh, and Japan has southeast Asian guest workers harvesting crops(

Who does it in Iceland (well they don’t have fruit, but slaughter houses apply)?

This reddit thread( claims that there aren't enough slaughterhouses but I would take that with a grain of salt.

According to the Iceland review(I don't read Icelandic so this is probably the best source I can find easily-, foreigners.

It seriously looks like the native lower-classes of wealthy countries cannot be convinced to do these kinds of jobs absent compulsion(slaughterhouses in the US are well known for using parolees who will be imprisoned if they don't work), and there will be a shortage if foreign labor isn't available. I would rather have Hondurans do it than Indonesians, personally.

I'm not excluding that some automation improvements can reduce labor but I think all of the low hanging fruit has probably already been picked, considering getting labor is so difficult.

It does not appear that foreign workers are big source of Japan’s agricultural workforce:

In the past 10 years, the percentage of foreign farm workers as a share of the total agricultural population has increased fourfold from 0.5 percent to two percent

Just half a percent of the agricultural population in 2010.

Only 25k “guest workers” out of 1.5 million total agricultural workers, so 1.5%. This number is increasing though, coincidentally as the Japanese feel poorer and poorer…

It seriously looks like the native lower-classes of wealthy countries cannot be convinced to do these kinds of jobs

We can convince them to spend 12 years in brutal school/residency to stab utensils in human flesh for 16 hour periods at a time, for nothing but money and respect. I promise you we can convince them to pick fruit — forestry workers have some of the highest life satisfaction and doctors perhaps the lowest.

I also looked and it seems that American born employees account for a little over 60% of slaughterhouse workers

In Iceland a lot of the butchers come from Sweden:,further%20away%2C%20even%20New%20Zealand.

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I lived in Japan from '07 to '11 and haven't been back since, so this may be out of date, but the idea that fruit and veggies are very expensive matches my memories, but is a little incomplete. Sushi and ramen are incredibly cheap in Japan, and I would extrapolate that most of the food-service labor force is somehow attached to those two parts of the industry--sushi because Japan just plain has the best fish, ramen because that's usually served with beer or on a chuhai run.