Here versus There: Public Policy Implications

I was reading an old Harry Turtledove alternate history paperback over the weekend and it got me thinking about the science fictional conceit of parallel universes.

For your consideration:

The cross-universe gate was invented in Research Triangle Park in 2017, although none of the researchers understood what they had until two years later. The problem was that the gate would make connections to other universes, but the connection would collapse with in milliseconds.

In 2019, though, they finally tuned in another world where through some trick of math or physics, the gate was stable. Three weeks later they understood what they'd found: a world where history diverged from our own in the 1820s. A world where the Confederacy broke away after a brief war, slavery was phased out in the 1890s and replaced with an almost as bad feudalism, and the union – stretching from Alberta to Columbia – was restored.

A world where through accidents of assassination, random laws, a few unlucky plagues, and more, technology was several decades behind our own world, and where the standard of living was only half of what we're used to here in Earth Prime.

The government got wind of the project early and tried to monopolize it, but the secret was already out. The equipment to build a gate required neither strange and expensive materials nor huge amounts of power.

Which is to say, in short order, thousands, then tens of thousands of gates were connecting Here and There. And then the immigration started. After all, how are you going to keep them down on the farm when they've seen X-boxes, internet porn, cancer drugs that actually work, and more.

Of course, unparalleled immigration was not with out its dark side. Here has gay marriage, smoking bans, a general societal agreement on a decent welfare state, and more. There has none of these things. After history split in the 1820s a lot of the "blue" changes we experienced here never happened. A man – even a gentleman – over There has no compunctions about telling a black man on the sidewalk to get out of his way, and will address him as "n_____" as he does so. It's unsociable not to offer a guest a cigarette. The idea of welfare spending is insane – why, one might as well ask a woman who she prefers as the next president!

By 2025 there were three million There men over Here.

By 2030 there were thirteen million.

There were some advantages – they'd do the jobs that most of us only watch Mike Rowe do on TV. Shortages of lumberjacks, welders, coal miners, and more were alleviated. In an economy still suffering from the economic collapse of 2008, this was no small thing. The economy picked up.

In Here world, where the government reports that 20 percent of Americans claim to have a disability, there was grumbling. How dare these interlopers do jobs that no decent Here person would do, and accept so little for them?

Other joined in the clamoring, saying that their willingness to work for less was hurting wages.

The There men paid their taxes, though, and they kept the factories running, so the business elite argued forcefully in their defense. Zuckerberg was particularly eloquent.

There was more grumbling. The "n-bomb" was making a return to use and smoking and littering was up. Every other week a professor at Harvard or Yale penned an editorial in a prestigious east-coast newspaper arguing about the coarsening of our national culture.

There were now over twenty million There men.

The Somerville, Massachusetts government reversed itself and declared that the There men could, in fact, be called "illegals".

…but their timing was comedy gold, because it happened the day before the US Supreme Court ruled on the matter. In a divided ruling with no less than one primary opinion, one separate concurrence, and three dissents, the court ruled that since the There men had US citizenship granted under a Constitution identical to ours (aside from some minor differences like the lack of a 19th amendment), they were, in fact, US citizens, and could not only stay here, but could vote.

The internet erupted, and a minor law blog even made the front page of the New York Times when several of the authors got so heated about the topic that they started calling each other "pony-lovers".

That was forgotten in days, though, because people belatedly realized what amnesty meant: November was coming – and with it, elections. …and it turned out that the Republicans had been passing laws: registering people to vote at dive bars near the oil fields, at Ford dealerships, at Pawn shops near the coal mines.

The Republican sweep was unprecedented. President, 61% of the Senate, 64% of the house of Representatives.

Some conspiracy theorists on the left immediately declared that the trans-historical gates had been a plot all along: the Republicans had been behind the whole thing. Was not the fact that they registered There men to vote at the places where they congregated proof of this?

The conspiracy was never proven, but for decades the allegation lived on: The Republicans, unable to convince the people to elect their party, had elected to import a new people.

They'd done it – and they'd won.

Of course, it wasn't a complete victory for the Republican establishment: they themselves were discomfited by the relegalization of mandatory prayer in school, the increase in the violent crime rate (the There men did like to duel), the resurgence of prostitution, the fact that most restaurants now smelled like tobacco smoke for the first time in half a century, and more. On the bright side, though, the Republican elite didn't actually have to interact with those people. Their votes were needed, yes, but they weren't exactly welcome in the same social circles.

But enough science fiction.

Let's return to the real world.

Let's talk about amnesty for illegal immigrants, the motor-voter law, the fact that the US does not require proof of citizenship to vote, and the talk of a "permanent Democratic majority", and allegations that the Democrats have elected to import a new people.

(N.B. my own thoughts on immigration probably aren't remotely like what you think from the above)

Last 5 posts by Clark

Comments

  1. Scott says

    The argument to make them citizens seems a bit weak. Even if we presume that the two universes are divergent, in that – prior to 1820 – there was only one universe, they should still be considered individual and independent universes (and, thus, countries) since then. That they use an (almost) identical Constitution seems irrelevant. If a modern-day country in this universe decided to use our existing Constitution as a model for their government, would we automatically grant them US Citizenship?

  2. OrderoftheQuaff says

    What's the upside to letting them in through the universe gate? None I can see. More likely a few of us would go over There for natural resources appropriation and sex tourism.

  3. says

    A good example of why what matters more is what you allow to be decided by vote — what powers the government has and how it can wield them — than it does WHO can vote. Constrain the government so its power to do so harm is limited, and it's less of a concern who gets to vote. If there's a sufficient supermajority that a Constitutional Amendment that impacts something important can actually pass (remember, even something that attracts irrational passion in a majority, such as banning flag burning, has failed the Amendment process), it's probably a fait accompli by social convention and de-facto, if not de-jure, law anyway. (Do I get points for Latin? Even if I'm not sure I used it correctly?)

    Anyway, as a child of immigrants, I find it hypocritical beyond even my own usual loose standards to say "Not for you!" to anyone who wants to follow my parents (my mother, of course, sneers at "people who just got off the boat", because coming here in 1953 means you're practically in the DAR, right, Mom?). From a philosophical, if not pragmatic, perspective, I have a hard time justifying the idea of national borders at all, or at least of justifying not letting people choose where they wish to live if someone else is willing to sell them the land/rent them the property/etc.

    The "imported a new people" argument is the sort of thing people who claim to support "democracy", but only if they're in the majority, like to claim. On the left, it's usually "bought the election" or "hacked the voting machines" or the like. Either way, it means, "We refuse to admit our views are in the minority in this case. We don't want to say that we don't like democracy, even if we don't, so we'll claim we're REALLY the majority but the system was artificially rigged against us!" (Not to say the system isn't rigged, but both power blocs, or both wings of the same power bloc, play equally dirty games, so it all sort of balances out.) Again, it's much more important to limit the power of government. If you break the horse's legs, it doesn't matter who rides it.

  4. Dan Weber says

    Scott, it's a silly argument, but it's not like there haven't been other silly arguments used.

    Ultimately a sovereign state gets to control its borders, and it gets to decide who becomes a citizen. That's part of being a sovereign, full stop.

    Thanks to the technology in Clark's story, though, the state lost ability to control its physical borders. I don't think they would just let the other universe pour into ours, though. Eventually our universe would do some bargaining with the other, either through Coasian deal-making or through war, to control the area that is the US border in that universe as well as it controls it here.

  5. Rhonda Lea Kirk Fries says

    …I have a hard time justifying the idea of national borders at all, or at least of justifying not letting people choose where they wish to live if someone else is willing to sell them the land/rent them the property/etc.

    This. Full stop.

  6. trevalyan says

    I don't think the crime rate would spike due to dueling- "Glove Slap" aside, it appears as though many in the 18th and 19th centuries took duelling a bit more seriously than that. The New Yorker had a fascinating article about it, though they unaccountably fail to discuss rates of dueling in the South for some reason. I would say, though, I would trade 4000 deaths during the 20 year reign of Henry IV for an end to drive-by shootings and crack cocaine.

    http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2007/03/12/070312crbo_books_krystal?currentPage=all

    And of course, that many people coming over here makes history ripe for a time paradox…

    However, Clark, I think you're something close to a genius. Watching how quickly the left- and the right- would change their opinions based on the population being imported would be quite amusing. I'd talk more about actual illegal immigration, but gosh, I think we'd be well served by applying just about any illegal immigration argument to your scenario before applying it to the real one. At least yours hasn't been talked to death.

  7. Klover says

    Trevalyan – While the actual numbers of drive-by shootings are larger, the percentage of them measured against overall population percentages (I assume) would be a wash.

    Also, comparing drug use and deaths associated to criminal activity is not a fair comparison to deaths from honour duels.

  8. Peter H says

    Ok, let's talk about those things:

    1. Amnesty for illegal immigrants does not equate to citizenship for them. While I think it is good to put a process by which their status can be brought to citizenship, a permanent resident status with no pathway to citizenship would be sufficient for the vast majority of the ills caused by having an invisible underclass unprotected by the rule of law.

    2. Re: Motor-Voter law, what of it? When you're at the DMV you've got to have pretty ironclad proof of identity with you, so they'll know if you're a citizen, at least as well as is possible to know. And citizens have the right to vote. Why not make it easier?

    3. Re: proof of citizenship to vote, even in the states with the most stringent voter ID laws, they do not require proof of citizenship to vote. This is because most people would have a hard time coming up with proof of citizenship. About 1/3 of Americans have passports, which is one of the only single documents that proves citizenship. Drivers licenses don't prove citizenship (lawful permanent residents and even lawful temporary residents can get them). Military ID doesn't prove citizenship (again, lawful permanent residents can be in the military). For citizens born in the US, an original birth certificate with raised seal plus photo ID would usually do it, but not always (kids of foreign ambassadors and consuls are not citizens even if born in the US). And also, we can't ask poll workers to be able to identify the 1000s of different birth certificates from every county registrar, especially ones from 50 years ago. Plus all of those documents cost money to get. And it's wrong and unconstitutional to charge people money to vote.

    I don't think that there's an inherent partisan bias among immigrants. Canadian immigrants for example are often enough voters for the Conservative party, for example. There is a revealed partisan bias in as much as naturalized immigrants have tended to vote heavily Democratic in the last 8 or 10 years, but so have every group that's not white Christians.

  9. Ken in NH says

    There is one very important reason for controlling who is considered a citizen with voting privileges and who is considered a resident alien: acculturation. I do not want some one who just come off the boat or crossed a river or stepped over an imaginary line voting in our elections until they have become acquainted with our culture and system of government (and in the process impart their own imprint upon our culture). For example, I do not want a block of Russians coming over here and voting until they have spent some time here and learned more about our society and our history. If after some period, which is currently 5 years, they still hold their views, then so be it (whether those views are vehemently anti-communist or they preferred the days when their family were party members in good standing with a car, a dacha, and fresh bread on the table every day).

    That time period also gives us a chance to separate the wheat from the chaff. We grow enough of our own criminals and layabouts here without needing to import more.

    Then again, we are talking about one of the most inept bureaucracies on the planet who are in charge of making the decision of who is eligible for residency and citizenship. That is not an argument for the abolishment of standards though.

  10. Tarrou says

    I've never agreed with the internationalist libertarian take, that states are by nature illegitimate, and therefore all borders are illegitimate, and no people anywhere have the right to exclude other people from their collective property. Seems against the notion of libertarianism.

    If government is by the consent of the governed, and the nation-state is, as a practicality, the highest form of power on earth, then the collective social contract creates a collective property consisting of the area of land claimed and agreed upon with other states.

    Of course, there are wars over borders, because France without Lorraine is not France, mirite, my fellow 19th century francophiles? But there are these wars precisely because there is no higher court or force to appeal to in situations of disagreement. One can appeal to natural rights, but no natural right conveys the moral necessity to invade another's property without his permission. The nation-state is the property of the people collectively, and if they wish to refuse entry, that is their right.

    Whether or not they should do so, and under what circumstances it might be in their best interest to let (some, a few, or all) people in is the real subject of debate. That sovereign nations have a right to control their own borders on behalf of their population seems a funny place to start the argument. It's abstract beyond practice.

  11. says

    Tarrou:

    I've never agreed with the internationalist libertarian take,

    I used to.

    …but I'm changing my mind on that. That still doesn't make me a Pat Buchanan rightist, and I've still got sympathies to the internationalist libertarian vision, but as long as democracy exists, he he controls the flow of immigrants controls the outcomes of elections.

  12. says

    The Democrats in your story damn well better figure out how to appeal to the There people.

    After, all, the primary concept of democracy governance is being responsive to the people, not determining who is allowed to be the people (assuming the latter is even legitimate, it's still subordinate to the first).

  13. CJK Fossman says

    @Tarrou

    Not that I necessarily disagree, but I don't think your argument is all that strong.

    If government is by the consent of the governed

    That's a pretty thought, but I'm not sure it stands scrutiny. History is so rich with counter examples; cases where government exists by virtue of the might of the gang in power.

    And what of those who don't consent and therefore claim they don't need fishing licenses.

    then the collective social contract creates a collective property consisting of the area of land claimed

    What about nomads?

  14. says

    " I've never agreed with the internationalist libertarian take,"
    I used to. …but I'm changing my mind on that.

    I'm close to being an internationalist libertarian, and I argue frequently for free immigration. But I think it's hard to sustain an argument that "the state" (as a concept, not necessarily individual states) is by nature illegitimate.

    Libertarianism generally assumes a person is sovereign over their own property. But assume that you and I buy property together, or joint two adjacent parcels of property together, and manage it collectively, as our joint fiefdom. There's nothing illegitimate in that from a libertarian perspective.

    Now assume our joint project grows, whether by people with adjacent parcels joining us or by us allowing others to buy in. At some point, whether when there's a few dozen or when there's a few hundred, individuals, there's likely to be dissatisfaction with allowing you and me to continue having sole governing authority, as well as with the idea that everyone needs to participate in all decisionmaking, and we're likely to shift to having offices. At that point we have government, de facto if not dejure.

    I think as a government grows larger in territorial and population scope, the realm of its legitimate authority shrinks (I'm strongly in favor of subsidiarity), but I don't know that it's possible to devise a logical standard by which we can say where along that size scale government becomes inherently illegitimate.

  15. JAwolf says

    The Solution
    Bertolt Brecht
    After the uprising of the 17th June
    The Secretary of the Writer's Union
    Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
    Stating that the people
    Had forfeited the confidence of the government
    And could win it back only
    By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
    In that case for the government
    To dissolve the people
    And elect another?

  16. C. S. P. Schofield says

    In your scenario I foresee a resurgence of the Regency era slang term "Here-and-therian".

  17. Irk says

    Strange that, in the summary you give, the novel has the portals providing an influx of white men who don't like US politics/social mores as our universe has it and would probably be more comfortable and more in power in their home universe, instead of an influx of women and PoC who have more of a reason to flood in and take advantage of new opportunities.

  18. Sam Paris says

    Clark, I know I'm missing your point, but I so want to read this novel. Please write it.

    I suspect the number of women and "serfs" coming over to get instant status upgrades would be pretty large, both diversifying the There people vote and creating some sympathy for at least some of the new immigrants.

    Also, There men who are too fond of the N-word are likely to get quick and perhaps fatal lessons in the etiquette of their new home.

    And I really want to see the effects of the simultaneous population drain and avalanche of disruptive technology on There.

  19. says

    @Irk

    in the summary you give, the novel has the portals providing an influx of white men who don't like US politics/social mores as our universe has it and would probably be more comfortable and more in power in their home universe, instead of an influx of women and PoC who have more of a reason to flood in and take advantage of new opportunities.

    In both scenarios people move here for jobs and standards of living, and yet do not (fully) adopt the median political norms of the area they move to.

  20. SimpleMachine says

    First off, both original populations become richer through trade and immigration: Comparative Advantage.

    @Irk
    Yeah.

    You know we actually went through something called "The Great Migration", where following the abolition of slavery, there was a massive movement of African Americans north. And a smaller movement of northern whites south, the carpet-baggers.

    There was massive opposition to this, in the south talking about going north could get you killed, they needed the labor. And in the north, there was massive violence against black migrants, such as the NY draft riots.

  21. Irk says

    @Clark

    I'm not particularly interested in the discussion of people "adopting the median political norms" because I feel the debate is stale. It sounds as if the book is greatly ignoring a chunk of population that would have been more likely to flood in, though. Perhaps the actual book explains this better. I go to these questions first because historically-based fiction seems to have an unbalanced focus on white men due to recorded history (and current society) having a bias towards them (and erasing PoC and women's contributions), so I'm always on the lookout for material that actually deviates from the norm in that. Sounds like this is same-old, same-old.

    @SimpleMachine

    That was my first thought. "Wait, this already happened without time portals, it's strange that an author didn't pay attention to history while writing fiction based on history."

    Well, actually that's par for the course for a lot of writers. Sigh.

  22. Michael says

    I'm considerably more worried about gerrymandering screwing up politics than the about ~10% change in eligible voters suggested by this writing.

  23. CC says

    Irk, I don't think Clark is summarizing the plot of an actual, existing book; I think he mentions a book in the first sentence as the jumping-off point for what follows, which is original to Clark.

  24. Tarrou says

    @ CJK,

    The argument wasn't that strong, being banged out before I had my coffee, and while I was soaking an ingrown toenail. However, I don't think you've chosen the chinks to target. Dictatorships notwithstanding, most governments exist with a majority support in the area they control. It is difficult (and insanely expensive) to do otherwise. And even most dictatorships got there through some sort of popular support. See the current Egyptian junta/democracy/junta/dictatorship/junta model, or hark back to Roman times. Giaus Julian wasn't the first Dictator of Rome, and he wasn't the first to serve for life. He was just the first to pass it on to his chosen heir. And all of those were elected. So I think "consent of the governed" is a far more common state than you seem to grant, though it is something of a sliding scale.

    As to nomads, there are two possibilities. One is that the collective may claim no land at all, a rare but perfectly reasonable choice, though it leaves them at the mercies of anyone who does claim the land. The other, far more common state is that nomads claim virtually all the land they pass through. In final counter-criticism, there are virtually no nation-states consisting solely of nomads. So a nomadic people can be a part of a nation-state, using its national property without owning personal land. Examples would be the bedouins of the Negev in Egypt, Jordan and Israel, or the Taureg of North Africa.

  25. SimpleMachine says

    The point here is "would democrats be in favor of immigration if it was to their political disadvantage". And then, maybe you can understand republican opposition.

    And, honestly, it is total bullshit. The way America is supposed to work is that if the people don't like the government, they elect a new one. This is instead the government doesn't like the people, so it imports a new one.

    But, nonetheless I still support immigration, because making a crime out of wanting to get a job, and become an American, is even more bullshit.

    It's a shame that we look at this through the lens of the political process, which is a zero-sum game, compared to the economic process, which isn't. One person having a job doesn't mean someone else doesn't. But, one democrat getting elected means one republican isn't. It's almost like an example of how more politics, and less markets, makes people more bitter and ungenerous. And maybe we should have less politics and government, hrm?

    As a take-away from this is that democrats should expect the republican party to demand something in exchange for amnesty. Because there is a political cost they're suffering. And, frankly, if you're a democrat and in favor of immigration, the question is what is the compromise you'd be willing to give up for this policy. And if the answer is "nothing" or "I shouldn't have to", no you're not, you are not in favor of immigration, and that shitty attitude is why they're won't be amnesty. Which there probably won't be, because that's the attitude there is.

    By the way, it's almost like there's this program currently, that completely doesn't work, is a total disaster, and was rammed down the country's throat without any republican support, that would be the perfect bargaining chip. Now, are you really in favor of immigration?

    But the other take-away here is that democrats should stop saying republicans hate immigrants. No, republicans hate democrats.

  26. central texas says

    I am more interested in what happens over time. Based on Clark's preferred narrative, it seems to me that the new citizens and their (apparently) chosen party would be busy recreating the society and "success" of the immigrant's original. The immigrants being, apparently, unable to comprehend what created the differences that attracted them.

  27. glasnost says

    He controls the flow of immigrants controls the outcomes of elections.

    I would describe this as "unmitigated horseshit". There exists this thing in a democracy called, for lack of a better term, an 'ideological market' for votes, i.e. people vote for the political party they believe, to the best of their knowledge, will provide them with the 'best' possible state of being, whatever their priorities are for that state, be it material wealth, peaceful coexistence, punishment of bad guys, adherence to a way of virtue, what have you.

    In a functional political culture, when new people arrive, you *compete* for them, i.e. attempt to persuade that they should vote for you, and not the other guys.

    But in your dystopian victimhood fantasy, when new people arrive, instead of a neutral playing field wherein anyone might be able to win alliegances, an opportunity for recruitment, they're a conspiracy to steal YOUR control!

    This is a tiny canary in the coal mine of exactly why an actual libertarian society quickly degenerates into, at best, a wildly xenophobic fiefdom with a very deep moat around it – and primitive societies with no functional capacity to regulate anything tended to develop *extremely* all-encompassing systems of virtuous behavior, enforced with wild inconsistency by mobs and high priests. It's based on the fundamental organizing principle of We Were Here First.

  28. glasnost says

    As a take-away from this is that democrats should expect the republican party to demand something in exchange for amnesty.

    Wait, I'm sure I put down that list of offers made by the republican party to accept a deal on immigration reform in exchange for something else! Where did I leave it?

    And, frankly, if you're a democrat and in favor of immigration, the question is what is the compromise you'd be willing to give up for this policy. And if the answer is "nothing" or "I shouldn't have to",

    Oh, i see, so if I'm in favor of something, in order to really be in favor of it, I must be intrinsically willing to hand over all of the other things I want, or else I'm not really in favor of it? Oh, that seems exactly correct! Also, for you to be really in favor of less government regulation in the automotive industry, you must be willing to give something up, like "more government regulation in the energy industry", or "liberals get to ritually spank you in public on a weekly basis". Otherwise, you're not really in favor of it. On which of these five issues are you willing to sell out your political beliefs in order to be *really* in favor of your other political beliefs, hmmm? Because it has to be one of them, otherwise you clearly are against that thing you keep sputtering that you're actually in favor of.

  29. AlphaCentauri says

    Hey, I'd be grabbing my carpetbag and going THERE to take advantage of all the new business opportunities. With 20 million white THERE males having abandoned that world to come HERE, the people left would be happy to have a benign despot to play Sim City with their world. ;)

  30. says

    Strange that, in the summary you give… the portals providing an influx of white men who don't like US politics/social mores as our universe has it and would probably be more comfortable and more in power in their home universe, instead of an influx of women and PoC who have more of a reason to flood in and take advantage of new opportunities.

    Don't forget about all the red staters who like to rail against libruls and/or the modern world who would head over There (taking, of course, their technology with them) at the same time that your influx of PoC come Here.

    Imagine the billboards along the highways of Alabama and Montana. "America… the way it should have been. Join us today!"

  31. says

    As a take-away from this is that democrats should expect the republican party to demand something in exchange for amnesty.

    The Republican Party, as currently constructed, demands concessions from the Democrats for everything, including breathing. "You want us to share an oxygen supply? Just what we'd expect from socialists. More cuts to food stamps please!"

  32. Smurfico says

    Glasnost, it is hard to take any of your comments seriously when you begin with declaring a demonstrable fact 'unmitigated horseshit'. A quick google search reveals an endless number of studies, from whatever political spectrum you'd like, that show a consistent trend of immigrants voting for left of center parties.
    The only goal of a political party is to gain power, large numbers of immigrants assist the democratic party to gain/keep power so they are in favor of as many immigrants as possible. The opposite holds true of the republicans.
    Your notion of a 'marketplace of ideologies' seems willfully naive, as if each election suddenly wiped out any tribal allegiance or historical perception associated with a party. No amount of pandering is likely to overcome those obstacles, regardless of how much the republicans offer to sweeten the pie.
    If the trends in immigration, and their voting pattern, continue the US is headed to a one-party system. While I'm in favor of a benevolent dictatorship, I'm only ok with that if I'm the dictator.

  33. GeoffreyK says

    @SimpleMachine
    In reading your response, I'm reminded of the debates surrounding allowing residents of the District of Columbia to be granted full congressional representation as a perk of their being, you know, US citizens. The only "viable" political scenario I've heard suggests that in order to offset the introduction of previously dis-enfranchised (largely Democratic/liberal) voters, a conservative/Republican state would be granted an extra, offsetting member in the House outside of the normal Census auto-adjustment.

    All of the above? That just saddens me.

  34. CJK Fossman says

    @smurfico

    A quick google search reveals an endless number of studies, from whatever political spectrum you'd like, that show a consistent trend of immigrants voting for left of center parties.

    How about a few links, for those of us whose Google is broken?

  35. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says

    1)A technologically backward Earth with the same or (likely) greater resources.
    2) Means of travel to that Earth is developed by a more advanced Earth with a higher population and a greater hunger for resources.
    3) Annexation, war, and empire would follow within a year, two years tops. The There would be a crater, or (with some luck) find itself in the situation of a 3rd world country that finds out it has huge oil reserves—> boned.
    4) Profit

    Maybe if you had a limit on the portals – like the "no steel or iron" rule from The Long Earth, or "being awake leads to madness and death" rule of The Jaunt? The Southpark future Earth actually works better here it seems.

  36. Smurfico says

    @ CJK Fossman
    Your response is either an indication that you don't care enough about the matter to actually bother to enlighten yourself, or a trap to pounce on whatever links I provide with an "aha! bias!".
    In regards to the first scenario I have neither a spoon nor the inclination to feed you with it. As to the latter, I have no desire to play that game.
    I am genuinely a little puzzled by a lack of awareness of what I believed to be common knowledge, or even common sense. As simple machine asked "would democrats be in favor of immigration if it was to their political disadvantage"? It's one of those 'follow the money' sort of issues and should be transparently obvious at a glance.

  37. Cat G says

    I'm not entirely sure that what Clark portrays is a fully realized vision.

    The Republicans of today are not the Republicans of the Cival War era – if that is the point of divergence, who can say that the There crowd wouldn't fall to Democrats? Or resurrect the Whig Party? Or import their own no doubt different political ideologies? Perhaps voting as a block would enable them to force a viable third party into the equation, selling its favors to one or the other main parties.

    (I can dream about there someday being something better than Coke vs. Pepsi elections with true debate and moderate opinions, can't I? If you say I can't, you're a pony-lover.)

  38. AC says

    @smurfico

    Your notion of a 'marketplace of ideologies' seems willfully naive, as if each election suddenly wiped out any tribal allegiance or historical perception associated with a party.

    Sorry, but that's not naive; that's blatantly obvious, and agreed on by more or less everyone. As the first example that springs to mind, Bush got 44% of the Latino vote in when he won re-election in 2004. Romney got 27% of the Latino vote in 1012. That's roughly a sixth of a major demographic that unexpectedly switched party affiliations across two elections. These weren't all swing voters: in 2005, 33% of Latinos identified as Republican.

    In that particular case, the RNC released their hundred-page "autopsy report" analyzing what had happened. Their conclusion was not that the Democrats had particularly pandered to the Latinos, but rather that the Republicans had themselves alienated those voters. The RNC pinned a lot of the blame on the Republican immigration policy, which was itself a major change from the policies in the Bush years.

    By definition, there's no "tribal allegiance" for incoming immigrants, just as you wouldn't necessarily have strong opinions towards the National or Labour parties upon moving to New Zealand. While you may personally have a "historical perception" associated with one or both of the parties, immigrants don't — and I'd be willing to bet that your perceptions of either the Democrats or the Republicans from a decade ago aren't accurate either.

    So yes: there is a marketplace of ideas, voters actually listen to at least some of the political dialogue, and parties' platforms actually affect their voting block.

  39. Tarrou says

    @ Clark

    …but I'm changing my mind on that. That still doesn't make me a Pat Buchanan rightist, and I've still got sympathies to the internationalist libertarian vision, but as long as democracy exists, he he controls the flow of immigrants controls the outcomes of elections.

    I view it through the lens of natural human grouping. Call it patriotism, call it tribalism, humans are built, psychologically to exist in groups, and specifically to support that group against another group or groups. I think the nation state is the largest possible group that can maintain cohesion and override lesser loyalties. In times past, it was thought that the ethnic group was the largest possible, but I think our country today pretty well gives the lie to that. To be fair, we may yet succumb to ethnic strife, the experiment is not yet over.

    I first began to study this phenomenon when I read a book on the archaeological history of the jewish people. The historical evidence is better there than for most, and we know that no large group of anyone came out of Egypt, much less wandered about the Negev for forty years. Jews were in the same mix of tribes as everyone else in what we now call Palestine (the Amalekites, Gittites, Jebusites, etc), so much so that their archaeological record is indistinguishable. What changed was the invasion of the Philistines, who took over the Gaza corridor and spread up and down the coast. At the same time this happens, certain hill tribes begin circumcision and cease eating pork (pigs being the dietary staple of the Philistines). They band together, what was diffuse tribes becomes a cohesive nation with a king. What was many ethnic groups becomes one.

    I don't believe that humans are capable of not "othering" other humans. So I believe that we should strengthen the largest possible grouping, the nation-state, and use it to both protect the rights of its citizens and weaken the competing ethnic, racial and tribal loyalties.

  40. Sam Paris says

    @ Cat G 4:26 am:

    The point of divergence is the 1820s; apparently, There's Missouri Compromise failed, and the South broke away decades earlier than Here. There never gets a Republican party as we understand it Here.

    Not sure they ever get Whigs, either, since Andrew Jackson probably never becomes President without his southern base and so never provokes his opponents to form a new party. Whether some other party arises to champion "internal improvements" is an open question.

  41. Mercury says

    There is an argument to be made that the US, to the extent that it thinks it actually has a population deficit, should endeavor to attract the world’s best and brightest and not just A) a random sample taken from the rest of the global population or B) the group of people who have the highest expectation of an immediate uptick in their standard of living upon simply crossing the border (and who have the gumption to make that happen).

    There is also a case to be made that what was wise, sufficient or wildly successful immigration policy 50, 100 or 200 years ago during the country’s various “start-up” and “growth” phases might not be the best policy for whatever phase we’re in now (net immigration was probably flat between 1620-1820 because of or regardless of official policies)

    In any case it is most likely that the government is essentially in business for itself at this point and, going forward, it will do whatever it perceives to be in its own best interests at any given time…and nothing else really matters.

    By the way, I think the future will look more like Neal Stephenson’s novel ‘Diamond Age’ where nation states give way to various city/state “enclaves” designed to protect the interests of specific tribes, ethnicities or cultures. London and New York are essentially trans-national city/states already.

  42. melK says

    I know this is a political fiction instead of a science fiction or an economic fiction, but…

    Two things:
    Social Security
    Taxes

    If There are US citizens, they become subject to both of these.
    Each side will oppose one of these.

    US territories have limited participation in government. I'm thinking that There might have problems with that.

  43. Jacob H says

    @Clark

    but as long as democracy exists, he he controls the flow of immigrants controls the outcomes of elections.

    Here's the problem with that line of reasoning:

    Even if we had no controls on immigration whatsoever, just free and open borders (in other words, no one "controlling the flow of immigrants"), those immigrants would still inure to the benefit of Democrats. Pretty much no matter what, or where they come from, immigrants will be a net gain for Democrats at this point in time.

    This is because immigrants are generally going to be strivers; people who are coming to America for jobs, for opportunity. Someone who is already successful in their home country is lees likely to want to pull up stakes and start fresh in a new country, with new customs, and perhaps even a new language. It's easier to risk it all when you have little to lose.

    And the lower incomed, the less educated, and ethnic minorities are all much more likely to be D voters. IMPORTANT : I am not saying that the Democrats are better to the poor, or that you have to be uneducated to vote D, or anything about the Rs lack of compassion, etc. I am just making a demographic observation that those groups are statistically much more likely to vote Democratic.

    The only way to prevent this (immigrants always benefitting the Ds) would be to give strong immigration preference to the higher income/higher educated, and at the same time, drastically curtailing immigration by the lower income/educated. We already do both of those things, of course, but it still isn't enough – immigrants are still more likely to be Ds. We'd have to go much, much farther – too far to be politically tenable.

    TL;DR It doesn't matter who "controls the flow of immigration" right now in history, immigrants will be likely Ds unless we only let the rich ones in. We could give complete control of immigration to the Republicans, and they still wouldn't be able to use that control to influence the outcome of an election

  44. Jacob H says

    @Clark

    My above comment illustrates why, when imagining a world where immigration favors the Republican party, your only realistic option is time travel/parallel worlds.

  45. Zem says

    A sovereign nation likes to believe that it does control it's borders, decides who is a citizen and who gets to vote. The truth is that they are never fully in control of any of these things. What sets a great nation apart from the average, and even the poor, is how they choose to deal with the part they do not control.

  46. Bruce says

    It seems I was not alone in thinking There might end being annexed very quickly. I immediately thought of the xkcd strip about the past being another country – with greater untapped resources and an inferiot military. ..

  47. Piper says

    @ Clark –

    1. in the past you have mentioned Left wing libertarianism vis a vis Government support of Capital. In not supporting the ability of a labor supply to move across national boundaries as easily as Capital moves across national boundaries, are you not arguing for a form of corporate/capital welfare over the welfare of naturalized citizens – in large part to depress wages for naturalized citizens?
    2. When mentioning Motor-Voter, are you speaking of being able to register to vote when applying for a drivers license, or allowing illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses? 2 Separate things, and I want to speak to the driver's license piece, but I'm not sure what you are talking about here.

  48. says

    So, it's the first third of Charles Stross' The Family Trade, combined with alien space bats, as an allegory for immigration law? Hm.

    If we're assuming There has the same basic philosophical tenets around sovereignty but the nations coalesced differently, then I think the folks upthread have more or less covered it: there'd be an initial burst of uncontrolled tourism and travel as society (and governments and legal systems) figure out how to process the outside context problem of this whole other world being right next door, followed by the development of new conventions and laws to preserve as much of the existing social order as possible. Lots of easily-obtained things are already illegal or heavily controlled; it's not unreasonable to project that into things like heavy sentencing for being caught owning or building an unlicensed gateway.

    If the technology gap is as large as you posit, there might also be yet another round of ugly colonialism, as the side with better guns figures out that there are resources there for the taking and a number of easy propaganda points to justify it with.

    What I have a hard time accepting about your proposed timeline, though, is that injecting labourers into the US economy would improve it. The US economy has a shit-ton of labour workers available to it, both in its (shrinking) middle and (growing) lower class and in the huge but largely invisible pool of illegal immigrants, able and willing to work for nearly any wage if it keeps them from sliding further towards or into poverty. By a number of measures, the US has a massive labour surplus; adding more eligible labourers to that pool without a serious re-think of how we expect the entire labour pool to survive or thrive won't accomplish much beyond increasing the rate of starvation and desperate violence.

    I have a hard time imagining that moving from the poverty of living on the bottom rung of a feudal system to the poverty of competing with existing Here Americans for blue-collar jobs in a labour-hostile market would uniquely encourage new immigrants from There to vote Republican en masse; someone pitching greater government support for new immigrants (using, for example, an expanded welfare, or a state-supported minimum living wage, or any of the hundreds of other "state as channel for community support" ideas that have been tried) might actually do better, if not immediately then within a handful of election cycles. (Better abolish those fast, if Here should become the new There!) Conversely, I can't see the benefit for a There Baron to migrate here, where he has no assets, no contacts, and his primary economic modes (feudal servitude and land ownership) are either illegal or very badly supported by the economy Here; while I can see the There aristocracy being more than happy to support signifigant parts of the Republican or even Tea Party platform, I can't see them moving Here in sufficient bulk to swing whole elections.

    As a thought experiment, "what if enough people immigrated abruptly to significantly change the social consensus" is interesting, but your proposed mechanism is too sketchy and, I suspect, too broken to lead to useful conclusions.

  49. says

    @Piper

    @ Clark –

    1. in the past you have mentioned Left wing libertarianism vis a vis Government support of Capital. In not supporting the ability of a labor supply to move across national boundaries as easily as Capital moves across national boundaries, are you not arguing for a form of corporate/capital welfare over the welfare of naturalized citizens – in large part to depress wages for naturalized citizens?

    I have been a no-borders kind of libertarian for a long time.

    Over the last few years I have been reconsidering this, not because I suck up to Big Capital, but because I have come to believe that the Left is consciously trying to permanently alter the voting blocks in the US so that their left-of-center policies can never ever be defeated.

    If this leads me to argue for restricting immigration (and that's an if, as I have not decided yet), then that does not mean that I argue for corporate welfare.

    2. When mentioning Motor-Voter, are you speaking of being able to register to vote when applying for a drivers license, or allowing illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses?

    The former.

  50. says

    @Bruce

    It seems I was not alone in thinking There might end being annexed very quickly. I immediately thought of the xkcd strip about the past being another country – with greater untapped resources and an inferiot military. ..

    What's your definition of "inferior" ?

    I'm not sure that I'd want to put Xbox America up against Good Old Boy America in a geurilla war.

  51. says

    @Jacob H

    @Clark

    My above comment illustrates why, when imagining a world where immigration favors the Republican party, your only realistic option is time travel/parallel worlds.

    I concur; that's why I posited parallel worlds! :)

  52. says

    @melK

    I know this is a political fiction instead of a science fiction or an economic fiction, but…

    Two things:
    Social Security
    Taxes

    If one posits spherical cows as a part of an exercise about cows radiating waste heat and barn HVAC needs, raising the need to reengineering milking machines to deal with the lack of udders is somewhat tangential.

  53. says

    @Mercury

    There is an argument to be made that the US, to the extent that it thinks it actually has a population deficit, should endeavor to attract the world’s best and brightest and not just A) a random sample taken from the rest of the global population or B) the group of people who have the highest expectation of an immediate uptick in their standard of living upon simply crossing the border (and who have the gumption to make that happen).

    Perhaps.

    If nothing else, I'd love to see the SWPL elites who don't mind putting downward pressure on working class wages via importing gardeners and fry cooks squirm when we started importing people who would work as HR drones and corporate marketing bots in competition with them.

    There is also a case to be made that what was wise, sufficient or wildly successful immigration policy 50, 100 or 200 years ago during the country’s various “start-up” and “growth” phases might not be the best policy for whatever phase we’re in now (net immigration was probably flat between 1620-1820 because of or regardless of official policies)

    This is, I think, an interesting point that I would like to see explored more.

    In any case it is most likely that the government is essentially in business for itself at this point

    Concur.

    By the way, I think the future will look more like Neal Stephenson’s novel ‘Diamond Age’ where nation states give way to various city/state “enclaves” designed to protect the interests of specific tribes, ethnicities or cultures. London and New York are essentially trans-national city/states already.

    Concur.

  54. says

    @Sam Paris

    The point of divergence is the 1820s; apparently, There's Missouri Compromise failed, and the South broke away decades earlier than Here. There never gets a Republican party as we understand it Here.

    Wow – you've thought about the background of my example more than I have!

    You have my blessing to file off the serial numbers, attack a turbo charger, and sell it as your own.

  55. says

    @Irk

    @Clark

    I'm not particularly interested in the discussion of people "adopting the median political norms" because I feel the debate is stale.

    Okkkkay…. you picked an odd thread to step into then.

    I go to these questions first because historically-based fiction seems to have an unbalanced focus on white men due to recorded history (and current society) having a bias towards them

    Asserted with out evidence.

    Perhaps historically-based fiction deals with white men because white men write more books than, say, middle eastern men (true).

    Perhaps historically-based fiction deals with white men because men read and write more history books than, say, women (true).

    Perhaps the 21st century world we live in was disproportionately shaped over the last 500 years by white men, and thus interesting historical fiction – even if it is statistically accurate – is more likely to feature white men than the population distribution would suggest.

    Perhaps the 21st century world has fewer whites as a percentage than the 18th century world (when a fair bit of history took place) did due to medical and economic advances that were invented in Europe and which boosted the European population via freedom from Malthusian constraints two centuries before they boosted other regions.

    etc.

    To assert flat-out that X happened due to Y, with out any exploration of the causal link seems to be putting your conclusion first.

    (and erasing PoC and women's contributions)

    This is the part where I piss you off, but: show me a list of worthwhile scientific advances made by women or people of color.

    Radium. Peanuts.

    Go.

  56. says

    @Cat G

    I'm not entirely sure that what Clark portrays is a fully realized vision.

    I'm entirely sure that it isn't. It's just a plausible sounding hook to hang a few ideas re immigration policy and permanent electoral majorities on.

  57. says

    @Anton Sirius

    As a take-away from this is that democrats should expect the republican party to demand something in exchange for amnesty.

    The Republican Party, as currently constructed, demands concessions from the Democrats for everything

    Clearly the worst political party ever; I think George Bush and Karl Rove invented the concept of concessions and negotiations instead of abject surrender.

  58. says

    @central texas

    I am more interested in what happens over time. Based on Clark's preferred narrative, it seems to me that the new citizens and their (apparently) chosen party would be busy recreating the society and "success" of the immigrant's original. The immigrants being, apparently, unable to comprehend what created the differences that attracted them.

    See also: Oregon and Washington State (California), New Hampshire (Massholes), etc.

    What's the right-wing equivalent of "they paved paradise and built a parking lot" ? Maybe something like "they came to a free economy and regulated it to death"?

  59. bannor says

    "and allegations that the Democrats have elected to import a new people."

    The GOP has elected to import a new people also. Yes they'll become electoral losers nationally, but it will allow the party as a whole to shift left to pander to the newly voting underclass. They won't care if conservatives walk, they'll actually welcome it.

  60. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says

    @Clark

    Two questions:

    Do you believe that motor-voter laws are a bad idea, either in concept or execution?

    Do you think that requiring proof of citizenship to vote is a good idea?

  61. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says

    What's your definition of "inferior" ?

    1) Relatively poor weapons.
    2) Fewer soldiers – of the Good Old Boy variety. There would not have many X-box soldiers at all – see 7.
    3) Less ammo
    4) Soldiers available in worse overall physical health
    5) Relatively poor command, control, logistics, and tactics
    6) More internal civil strife/war to contend with
    7) Soldiers available not as technologically savvy

    I can't come up with a way in which the Here warrior would be inferior to the There warrior. What did you have in mind?

  62. Tarrou says

    @ Mark,

    The reasons you list may well be why the individual soldiers would not be effective against a superior organization. But allow me to assure you, from no lesser authority than Napoleon, and my own personal experience, there is one chief attribute of the good soldier, and it is "constancy in hardship". The life of a soldier is fairly brutal, and those who do well are those who have already learned how to do without things like sleep, comfort, food and any sense of control over one's situation. The best soldiers are those whose lives were hard before they joined. Coal miners, farmboys, trappers from the UP. I daresay the individual quality of soldier from "there" would exceed the Xbox generation quite nicely, though the factors you note might render that qualitative advantage moot.

  63. says

    @Mark – Lord of the Albino Squirrels

    I can't come up with a way in which the Here warrior would be inferior to the There warrior. What did you have in mind?

    Sorry; too busy reading a history of the US Civil War to give this question the attention it deserves.

  64. says

    @Dr. Nobel Dynamite

    @Clark

    Two questions:

    Do you believe that motor-voter laws are a bad idea, either in concept or execution?

    Yes, to both.

    I do not believe in democracy.

    If we must have democracy, we should not have universal suffrage.

    If we must have universal suffrage, we must have poll taxes and tests.

    If we can't even have poll taxes or tests, then we're doomed.

    < looks out window >

    Yep.

    Do you think that requiring proof of citizenship to vote is a good idea?

    Tentatively yes. If only because it puts a floor on the ability to vote: "must be capable of reporting to DMV a week ahead of time to get a plastic ID; must be able to not lose plastic ID for one week." Anyone who can not pass that test is an active menace to the body politic.

  65. glasnost says

    1. in the past you have mentioned Left wing libertarianism vis a vis Government support of Capital. In not supporting the ability of a labor supply to move across national boundaries as easily as Capital moves across national boundaries, are you not arguing for a form of corporate/capital welfare over the welfare of naturalized citizens – in large part to depress wages for naturalized citizens?

    This is confused thinking. The lack of labor mobility does not depress wages. Labor mobility depresses wages. It's not complicated. Labor mobility adds to the supply of labor at a given location. When the supply of labor rises, the value of labor declines and wages fall.

    On the other hand, in theory, the costs of labor rise as the supply of labor declines wherever people are emigrating out of, and that would in theory help build economic growth. Unless the capital in the area responds to rising labor costs and falling consumer demand (people are leaving) by exiting the area as well, thus preventing the rise of labor costs even as labor supply shrinks.

    Thus, in theory, the story, given perfect labor and capital mobility, ends with all the people and active capital on the planet concentrated in the fastest growing places, and labor costs there falling to the minimum possible amount until non-market processes or an end to the newly arriving labor supply causes the wage to stop falling and, in theory, start rising.

    This is all supply and demand 101, or, if you like, perfect classical liberal market process, David Ricardo Blackboard Capitalism.

    The problem is capital mobility and the way in which it allows market processes to lower the cost of labor to the minimum functional amount. The historical solution has been the limited capacity and high costs of capital movement. When those 'natural' costs are subverted by technology, the modern solution is to reimpose them.

  66. glasnost says

    I do not believe in democracy.

    It's always interesting to see people who spend their lives railing against the despotism in their heads look down and decide that they're actually in favor of the right kind of it.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/17/world/asia/in-thailand-rallying-cry-is-against-too-much-democracy.html?hpw&rref=world&_r=0

    I recommend you move to Thailand and join the movement to overthrow their democratic government. Thaksin's party keeps winning elections and giving handouts to impoverished and marginalized rural migrants instead of allowing market processes to do their magical work, as it does so well in neighboring China. It's a terrible offense to the free market and a threat to rich, market-enjoying Thais everywhere.

    Actually, China's a good example of the enlightened alternative to democracy you're looking for.

    The basics of your concept of, "let other people come here to work, but make sure they are denied the chance to participate in making decisions about who gets to keep and use the money and make the rules" fits very well in China, where they have it down to a science. Also, Qatar and the UAE.

    In conclusion, I recommend, rather than this approach, an end to the pathetic self-pity party about how Hispanic people are robots programmed never to vote for you, and instead some sort of effort to make your political party attractive to them.

    If your political party is not attractive to them, maybe it's because you're wrong, and your way of life and philosophy has nothing to offer people who haven't made it up to your privileged position at the top of Maslow's hierarchy. And you don't deserve to be in charge, because the purpose of being in charge is to bring prosperity and success to those you're in charge of.

  67. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says

    @Clark

    If we must have democracy, we should not have universal suffrage.

    If we must have universal suffrage, we must have poll taxes and tests.

    Clark, you're a smart guy, so I know you know that poll taxes and tests have historically been used as a method to discriminate against racial minorities and/or the poor, and there is every reason to believe that they would serve the same function if they were reintroduced.

    The limitation of the franchise to property owning white males was a bug, not a feature of our founding period.

    Anyone who can not pass that test is an active menace to the body politic.

    Well, at least you're honest that the proof of citizenship requirement has nothing to do with voter fraud and is simply intended as an impediment to make voting more difficult for the wrong type of people.

  68. says

    @glasnost

    I do not believe in democracy.

    It's always interesting to see people who spend their lives railing against the despotism in their heads look down and decide that they're actually in favor of the right kind of it.

    It's always interesting to see people try to fit me into their pre-conceived mental models.

    "He doesn't believe in tyrrany of the majority – he must believe in tyrrany of the hereditary elite!"

    No.

    I think that there are vanishingly few problems that we must collectively solve.

    I do not believe that democracy is the right solution to deciding who you sleep with, what you eat, who you employ, what you read, what you write, what sort of health care plan you have, what sort of car you drive, what sort of school system your children attend, etc.

    I reject the "need" for rulers, whether verminously numerous or royally singular.

    Actually, China's a good example of the enlightened alternative to democracy you're looking for.

    I repeat: it's always interesting to see people try to fit me into their pre-conceived mental models.

    What have I ever said that gives you the idea that I want a Party Elite to manage society and government?

  69. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says

    @Clark

    What have I ever said that gives you the idea that I want a Party Elite to manage society and government?

    Well, to be fair, you do have a fair amount of contempt for the wrong sort of people having a say.

    If we must have democracy, we should not have universal suffrage.

    If we must have universal suffrage, we must have poll taxes and tests.

    If we can't even have poll taxes or tests, then we're doomed.

  70. Mercury says

    Clark,

    Goddamnit I came here for an argument, the sign on the door clearly states “complaint” and you’re not being helpful by agreeing with me all over the place. So, I’ll work with what I can here…

    You’re right that welcoming only admitting “the best and brightest” implies (if applied consistently) that every US citizen at every level of society would be in constant competition with everyone else in the world for their job, home and pretty much every other monetizable aspect of their lives. Generally this is more or less how New York City has always operated. In such a system the upside is that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from – if you can deliver the goods, you will succeed. The downside is that sooner or later some other go-getter (or all of them collectively) will squeeze you and/or your family out of town to New Jersey.

    It’s hard to design an optimal, national immigration policy before developing a consensus/definition of an optimal national outcome. In fact the former should be simple plug-n-play once you have the later sorted out. If you want the USA to be more like a community college you apply policy X, if you want it to be more like Harvard (or whatever your standard for pure meritocracy is) you apply policy Y. I think it’s safe to say that whatever (celebrated or lamented) common culture the USA once had is rapidly dwindling which means that no such consensus will be forthcoming which means such policies will largely be determined by the government’s assessment of what is best for the government…today.

    In any case and no matter what angle you approach this debate from, “open borders” today vs. “open borders” pre-hyper mobility/hyper communication/welfare state is simply apples vs. oranges.

    As we slouch toward wherever we’re slouching to it will be interesting to see what happens with the “control groups” of places like France and Japan. The French have always and mostly unapologetically put their own culture and just plain Frenchness high up on the national priority list and even though they have their own immigration and welfare state issues (to put it mildly) they are pretty unique in this regard at this point in history. Japan is still famously xenophobic, has an immigration policy that amounts to “no” and boasts a complex but very homogenous national culture, ethnicity and sense of national cohesion. Sure the government is completely insolvent and they have terribly lopsided demographics but the demographic problem will eventually go away as sure as the sun will set and capital equilibrium will eventually re-assert itself. At that point Japan will most likely still have a compliant (and younger), well educated populace who knows what they’re about. Probably not a bad hand to play.

  71. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says

    @Mercury

    but the demographic problem will eventually go away as sure as the sun will set

    That piques my curiosity. Why do you think it is inevitable that Japan's demographic problem will go away as opposed to, say, continue to worsen until it essentially cripples their economy and leads to a moderate to severe collapse in the social structure?

  72. Kes says

    I'd like to return to the original thought experiment, and the construction and (un)regulation of the Here-to-There gates, if I may.

    Others have pointed out that the scenario is not fully fleshed out, the hyper-focus on white men's immigration to the United States is only one tiny aspect of the implications of Here-to-There travel. There-world presumably never had a United States strong enough to dictate the course of world politics in the 20th century. Sure, There Union probably got embroiled in There's World War I (no reason to believe the course of European imperial history was greatly altered by the bisection of the former British N. American colonies.) There's Confederacy probably also got drawn in, but perhaps on a different side than the allies. Did There's Russian empire fall and create a Soviet Union, or did There's WWI end earlier, preventing such a thing, and thereby preventing the Cold War? Or did There's WWI never end, resulting in a Balkanized There Europe ripping itself apart with a new scuffle every generation? If There's WWI ended early, did There's Wiemar Republic ever come about, did There's Woodrow Wilson ever become president of There's Union and/or propose a League of Nations? Without the set-up for the WWII dominoes, does There ever bother to invent the atomic or nuclear bombs, the basic details of which are well-known to most educated Hereins?

    Or let's talk diseases. Did There ever invent penicillin? There already had smallpox vaccines, but did There manage to conquer polio, measles, mumps, rubella? If not, There's immigrants are walking epidemics-waiting-to-happen, wreaking havoc on Here's herd-immunity much worse than Here's idiot vaccine-denialists ever have, setting Here's public health efforts back by a century.

    Did HIV arise and spread as rapidly in less-technologically advanced There? Sounds like no gay rights movement happened There, so I'll postulate that the high-profile the HIV epidemic gave the movement never happened because HIV didn't or hasn't happened yet over There.

    How well did There do in inventing and improving birth control? Your scenario sounds like There never had a sexual revolution or feminist movement, so There citizens would go wild for the stuff as soon as its existence was known. How would There's governments (ruled by last century's most conservative Whiteys by your description) react to such an influx? I'ma guess Immediate Banination. So a lively Here feminist/opportunist BC smuggling underground springs up within months over There.

    I guess what I'm interested in isn't just how contact with There changes Here on a minor political level. I'm betting Here-immigrants to There would be viciously stamped out wherever they were found as dangerous de-stabilizing elements full of destructive military knowledge and vicious disease carriers. How well would Here's people react to that sort of treatment? Not by worrying about the niceties of There's citizens' voting rights in municipal elections, is my guess.

  73. Mercury says

    @ Dr. Nobel Dynamite

    Because all those old people will eventually die.

    It’s possible that there will be some very disruptive socio-economic crisis before that happens but it will still inevitably happen and then (assuming Japan continues its near-prohibition of immigration) a much younger (and smaller) population will remain which might very well be induced into an American-style baby boom (or go on to prosper regardless).

  74. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says

    @Mercury

    I think we're misunderstanding each other. I understand that the the older generation of Japan will die off, leaving a much smaller population. That's not a solution to the crisis, that's a large part of the demographic crisis. It isn't just that there is a top-heavy population, it's that there might not be enough people left in Japan in a couple generations to maintain the society it has built up.

  75. Daniel Taylor says

    On the immigration issue, both in the alternate world, and in our own, it all comes down to jobs in the end.

    So, who is hiring all of these immigrants, and at what sort of wages?

    Since managers tend to be Republican, it would seem that what we are looking at is not what the surface story would appear to be.

  76. Mercury says

    @ Dr. Nobel Dynamite

    Not necessarily. It’s very likely that Japan’s real GDP will dip significantly (in my scenario) for decades but that could also be accompanied by a higher average standard of living. For starters many younger people won’t have to live with their parents or in tiny apartments as is the case now and they should be taxed less because there will be less welfare-needy old people to support. So, it depends on what you mean by “maintain the society it has built up”.

    Although, deflation is definitely bad news if you’re looking to maintain the government that has been built up but hopefully the Japanese will realize that the purpose of life isn’t to grow the government forever…or even to keep it the same size no matter what.

  77. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says

    @Mercury

    I don't mean to give the impression that I think a moderate to severe collapse of Japanese society is inevitable, I merely meant to question why you believed that Japan's coming out of its demographic crisis relatively intact and unscathed was inevitable.

  78. glasnost says

    @Clark

    I didn't really expect you to opine that China was your preferred alternative. You may consider the rebuttal a not-very subtle constraining of your choices.

    I reject the "need" for rulers, whether verminously numerous or royally singular.

    Empirically, you don't have a third option. Well, I suppose you have a wide variety of third, fourth, and millionth options that lie between the first two choices, but you don't have an option outside of that domain.

    Well, I mean, in theory, you do. You should probably migrate to the effectively ungoverned spaces of central africa and begin your self-governing libertarian, functionally independent agricultural commune. Maybe you can try setting up some gennies and cell towers and doing some remote IT subcontracting to make a living.

    Unfortunately, the costs of trucking in the gasoline from the african coast to run the generators means that you won't be remotely close to cost-competitive with anyone relying on a central government to provide them with cheap electricity. (Note – you're still relying on government to get your electricity – you got the generators from companies that require political stability and a billion rules about multinational commerce to make the generators at a price that you can afford).

    So, by the power vested in me by the Market God, I declare your rejection utterly backed up by the courage of your convictions, hypocritical, and a certain failure in practice.

    You don't reject the need for rulers. You claim that you do while feasting on the hand that fed you the political and economic stability and efficiency required for you to have the standard of living that you expect and demand.

  79. glasnost says

    @self

    rant

    I started trying to edit that comment to tone down the obnoxiousness and the clock expired before I could finish.

    We're all hypocrites. We all want the system to be different while enjoying the fruits of the status quo. But some of us who want, say, a better standard of living for homeless people have a plausible narrative, and real-world examples, of polities where that can be done without tanking society. It's not a coincidence that there aren't currently areas of land where trade relations between individual family-clan production units produce modern conveniences. Even places like Monaco that imitate independence at the city level, a), still have governments that decide on the high level of required collective decision making, and b) survive, at all, only as free-riders on the back of organized states.

    In short, it doesn't work. If it worked, someone would have done it. You hate the system because you have no comprehension of the extent to which it enables your existence and your ability to have become what you are. It's the fundamental prerequisite of your ability to develop the intellectual complexity even required to hate it.

  80. barry says

    @Kes

    Sure, There Union probably got embroiled in There's World War I (no reason to believe the course of European imperial history was greatly altered by the bisection of the former British N. American colonies.)

    But also no reason to think the course of European history wouldn't also divide on its own. eg if the There Ottoman Empire had defeated the Greek uprising early in the 1820's so that France Britain and Russia had not been encouraged to support an independent Greece…

    In the story, the history of the universe forks, not just a local region, which would make any realistic/convincing projection of the other world very difficult.

  81. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says

    @Tarrou –

    The life of a soldier is fairly brutal, and those who do well are those who have already learned how to do without things like sleep, comfort, food and any sense of control over one's situation. The best soldiers are those whose lives were hard before they joined.

    I suppose it's a fair viewpoint. Personally, I'll take training, supply, superior knowledge and weaponry over a hard life in a soldier any day. If not, then I'd have to worry about America having the worst fighters in the world.

    @Clark

    Sorry; too busy reading a history of the US Civil War to give this question the attention it deserves.

    Good idea. The contrast between the Confederacy and There – which is rather stark – should help. Granted, the advantage of fighting a defensive war would go to both, but that says nothing about the relative strength of the fighters.

  82. James Pollock says

    Sure, technological superiority is nice to have going into a war (see, e.g., plains Indians vs. U.S. cavalry), but it isn't the determining factor, else the United States would have lost WWII, on both fronts.

    On the other hand, it seems that if you were willing to adopt a take-no-prisoners, scorched-Earth approach instead of a boots-on-the-ground, shoot Them one at a time approach, the Here-There war would be over in about 5 minutes or so. As a bonus, we get rid of a BUNCH of pesky radioactive waste while we're at it, and all those 1950's-design nukes that were just taking up space.

  83. Rich Rostrom says

    There are now significant parts of Europe where Jews or "shameless women" dare not appear in public, due to the backwards cultural attitudes of some recent immigrants.

    Am I the only one who sees the parallel between US/There->US/Here immigration and recent Moslem immigration to Europe?

    Incidentally, the gating technology doesn't just create an uncontrollable border betweeen Here and There, it also allows anyone to bypass borders between parts of Here, by going There in one place and coming back Here in another.

    Any nation which wants to have secure territory has to secure its entire border in both worlds. (Hello Israel.)

    That also applies to any entity which wants any kind of secure area of any size. A key question is whether a gate can be opened from There to Here, as well as from Here to There.

  84. Christoph says

    Tentatively yes. If only because it puts a floor on the ability to vote: "must be capable of reporting to DMV a week ahead of time to get a plastic ID; must be able to not lose plastic ID for one week." Anyone who can not pass that test is an active menace to the body politic.

    The question is if the small minority of people you describe can acutally impact the democratic process (which has lots of inertia and tends to average things out) enough to be a significant menace. And if that is not the case, what is the point of excluding them from voting?

  85. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says

    @Mercury

    Given that the incidence of voter fraud of the type ID requirements purportedly address is vanishingly small in this country, what function do you think that ID requirements would serve?

    Clark was, to his credit, was honest and admitted that they serve as an impediment to the wrong sort of person voting. What say you?

  86. Kes says

    @Rich

    I thought of the implications of cross-world travel, maneuvering in one world to come out at a reasonable spot in another, but if There reacts as strongly to Hereins as I postulated above, intra-There travel would be an extremely dangerous proposition. Also, I'm still going off a There that lacks modern Here transportation infrastructure. I'm not sure what "several decades behind" would mean exactly… we had Jet travel in the '60s here, but the "half-as-good-as-ours" standard of living would imply that getting around There isn't as simple as hopping on a bus.

    Also, There's governments would probably immediately adopt stringent travel restrictions requiring all sorts of paperwork and stamps, a la Here's Soviet Union, because despite the tech advantages of Here-to-There exchange, There wouldn't take kindly to enormous swaths of their population fleeing and taking valuable capital with them, forever. Like East Germany, no state or civilization can tolerate the youngest, strongest, or best-educated fleeing to parts unknown; their own economy would collapse. And again, obviously a "bad-feudal-system" There would be extremely vulnerable to their abused labor force fleeing far more than their elite young men. There would be desperately trying to force Here to return its citizens, while begging Here to restrict Herein travel to There, somehow. Relations would be an even more complicated combo of North/South relations pre-Civil War and East/West Germany prior to the Berlin Wall, an explosive situation. War would be the almost immediate result.

    So traveling around There in order to bypass Here borders would be a risky prospect at best, and fatal at worst.

  87. DanD says

    One major issue. Most current illegal immigrants are logical ideological allies for the Republican party. They tend heavily towards more religiously/socially conservative. They are moving under the impetus of the free market. They tend to come from countries with even lower government support than the US (at least in terms of standards of living, not percentage of GDP), and as such would be willing to accept less than the US currently has, which would still be more than they are used to.

    Yet, despite that, they are seen, overwhelmingly, as in the Democrats camp. This is, at least in part, because the Republican party has built a narrative where immigration is "people from there coming here and stealing our jobs".

    You could make the argument that this would change if the color of the immigrant's skin changed, but I would argue, first, that that would be a pretty lousy reason to change, and second that if that were true, we wouldn't have seen, historically, the same sort of anti-immigrant bias against the Germans, and the Irish, and the Poles, and every single other wave of immigrants that has come through.

    If you set up your party as "us vs them" you're always going to have a them.

  88. Jacob H says

    @Rich

    There are now significant parts of Europe where Jews or "shameless women" dare not appear in public, due to the backwards cultural attitudes of some recent immigrants.

    Citation extremely needed, and what do you mean by "significant"?

    @DanD

    Most current illegal immigrants are logical ideological allies for the Republican party. They tend heavily towards more religiously/socially conservative….Yet, despite that, they are seen, overwhelmingly, as in the Democrats camp

    They aren't just "seen" that way, they actually vote that way. As far as them tending "heavily" towards the conservative, I don't think that's actually true, although that is the narrative that people like Rubio and Paul like to repeat. The polls indicate that although they do tend to be religious, they are not rank-and-file dogmatists. For example, polls show that the majority of Mexican immigrants support legal abortion and contraception, despite being Catholic.

    I personally think that there is just something fundamentally liberal (not in the political meaning) about pulling up whatever stakes you have and emigrating to a new country; so you're dealing with a big group of self-selected neophiles.

    Of course, this reasoning doesn't apply to refugees, who don't choose to emigrate, and in fact that's exactly what we see in the numbers – Cubans, for example, tend to be much more conservative than other Latino immigrants

  89. Mercury says

    @ Dr. Nobel Dynamite

    Who says that's a 'given' and how would they know?

    Do you really think that in 2013 the number of people who can't positively identify themselves is greater than the number of fraudulent votes that can be successfully cast in a no-ID voting system?

    It's a moot issue at this point anyway since a now permanent majority of the electorate will gladly vote away anything for trinkets and magic beans today.

    And it's double-moot because pretty soon your phone will be your ID and will be mandatory for everything.

  90. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says

    @Mercury

    Who says that's a 'given' and how would they know?

    The fact that there are next to no reports of this type of fraud occuring does seem to be pretty strong evidence that it isn't happening with any significant frequency. I understand that absence of evidence is not always evidence of absence, but in this case there are countless Republicans trying to justify these ID requirements, and they haven't been able to demonstrate any sort of problem.

    And your refernces to mootness don't really answer my question. What purpose do you think these ID requirements serve in our country?

  91. Jacob H says

    Who says that's a 'given' and how would they know?

    Well, as for "who," the answer is pretty much everybody, even people pushing for voter ID laws. As for "how do they know," the answer is that they (republicans) keep launching investigations to find this kind of in-person voter fraud (the kind that these laws would prevent), and they always seem to come up empty. The latest effort:

    (I hope these links survive moderation, but if they don't, just Google "Iowa voter fraud investigation" and you should find the very recent story)

    http://www.press-citizen.com/article/20131219/NEWS01/131219011/State-auditor-Use-federal-funds-voter-fraud-investigations-might-not-appropriate?nclick_check=1

    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20131218/OPINION03/312180018/The-Register-editorial-Voter-fraud-findings-didn-t-live-up-to-billing?=&nclick_check=1

  92. James Pollock says

    They aren't just "seen" that way, they actually vote that way.

    Chicken, egg.
    Do immigrants vote Democrat (assuming they do) because they like Democrats, or because the Republicans don't want anything to do with them, and actively drive them away? Do Republicans drive away immigrant voters because they don't like immigrants, or because they won't win those votes anyway?

  93. Sam Paris says

    "Wow – you've thought about the background of my example more than I have!

    You have my blessing to file off the serial numbers, attack a turbo charger, and sell it as your own."

    Thank you, I love your example. I will name it George, and I will hug it, and pet it, and squeeze it.

    Who knows, I might even get a story out of it.

  94. Careless says

    It is completely false that Hispanics are social conservatives. They're to the left of the Democrats on most issues other than abortion. They used to be to the right of the American average on abortion, but they're not even that anymore. They're pure left-wing.

  95. Marzipan says

  96. says

    @Marzipan

    Women:

    http://discovermagazine.com/2002/nov/feat50#.UrZS6fRDv3w

    Ruzena Bajcsy… helped create robots that could sense and respond to their environment.

    "Helped create". Hmmm. And what has her work led to?

    Jacqueline K. Barton… discovered that DNA conducts electric current but not as well—or not at all—when its tight organization is disrupted by damage from certain chemicals or mutations. That finding should allow…

    "Should" allow. OK. Get back to us when it does something in the real world.

    Anna K. Behrensmeyer … spent almost three decades at Amboseli Park in Kenya watching animals disintegrate and fossilize

    Meh. Neither fundamental nor useful to human society.

    Elizabeth Blackburn… Each time a cell divides, its chromosomes shorten slightly. To protect vital genes from being lopped off, chromosomes are capped with telomeres,

    Finally, something both fundamental and useful!

    Sarah Boysen Professor of Psychology… [ chimps have an ] ability to do simple arithmetic.

    Meh.

    Famous Women in Computer Science

    I haven't heard of a single woman here besides Grace Hopper. Ipso facto, none of the rest of them are famous.

    Also: putting a reference to One Laptop Per Child in anything makes it into a parody; it's like adding a tablespoon of feces to a cask of wine.

    Women Nobel Prize Winners

    #1: Radium. Just like I predicted above. Also note: Marie Curie co-won the award along with her husband, the actual scientist.

    #2: another co-winner with her husband the scientist.

    #3: another co-winner with her husband the scientist.

    Sigh.

    #4 is valid, though.

    Note that almost all of the winners won in Physiology / Medicine, which is interesting stuff, but not exactly physics or chemistry.

    Color:

    http://www.infoplease.com/spot/bhmscientists1.html

    #1: published an almanac
    #2: graduated from medical school
    #3: taught chemistry to undergraduates
    #4: performed an open heart surgery (not nothing, but not exactly Einstein / Neils Bohr level stuff)
    #5: PEANUTS.

    etc.

    Anyway, you've thrown six links at me. My position is entirely unchanged. Let the two minutes hate begin.

  97. TRX says

    > the US doesn't require proof of citizenship to vote

    But Arkansas does. And in fact, besides registration requiring documentation traceable to a valid US birth certificate (the certificate itself, military ID, etc.), Arkansas now requires a photo ID as well as your signature, starting 01-01-14.

  98. TRX says

    > I'm reminded of the debates surrounding allowing
    > residents of the District of Columbia to be granted
    > full congressional representation as a perk of their
    > being, you know, US citizens.

    Easy enough. All of the District used to be parts of states. Overlay the old map over DC, and residents in each part of DC vote as citizens of whatever state used to have the land.

    Count them as absentee ballots if you like, or a legal fiction like the French "departments", where parts of France's overseas empire were legally part of the city of Paris.

    I find it hard to believe that representation wasn't considered when the District was created. There are probably volumes of the Congressional Record which detail how the enactors expected representation to work.

  99. James Pollock says

    I find it hard to believe that representation wasn't considered when the District was created.

    I'd guess, without doing any research at all, that the expectation was that District residents would be considered only temporarily residing in the District, and would therefore retain representation through their "home" states. When the Constitution was being drafted, they wanted a federal district that was separate from any state to avoid favoritism, but they thought that the Representatives and other elected officials would be drawn from amongst the Landed, who would obviously still be greatly interested in their states' government (and Senators were appointed by the state Legislatures). They did not foresee a substantial bureaucracy, because the United States of 1789 could not afford one.

  100. James Pollock says

    This is the part where I piss you off, but: show me a list of worthwhile scientific advances made by women or people of color.

    There are chicken and egg problems here. Is the list short because women cannot contribute great advances, or because a scientific establishment dominated by men wouldn't (perhaps still won't) let them contribute?
    The historical record of scientific advances made by women reveals less about the capability of women to make scientific advances, and more about whether A) achievements by women are valued, and B) whether society is/has been tolerant of women who commit the time and effort necessary to make scientific advances.

    In any case, your professed ignorance of Ada, Countess of Lovelace, makes you flatly unqualified to judge a list of contributors to the field of computer science.

  101. Marzipan says

    @Clark, I provided the lists as requested. However, I can't be blamed if a trolling pony led to water refuses to drink ;)

  102. wkwillis says

    I thought the immigration "reform" breakpoint was that the upper income ten percent were split on whether we (Republican) should have more immigrants that can't vote, or we (Democrats) should have more immigrants that can vote.
    The bottom income ninety percent of (Democrats) or (Republicans) want less immigrants to compete with us for jobs, real estate , highway lanes, etc.

  103. James Pollock says

    The bottom income ninety percent of (Democrats) or (Republicans) want less immigrants to compete with us for jobs, real estate , highway lanes, etc.

    Not all of us are We and Them (as abbreviated "R" and "D"). A good many of us are realists, who realize that

    A) a good number of immigrants have already made the trip, and that wishing them away Will Not Work, and providing a budget sufficient to export about 400,000 of them per year will not remove the millions of them already here overnight, (Oddly, many of the loudest anti-immigrant voices are ALSO against raising taxes; they seem to think that there is a magic immigrant-repulsor switch located somewhere in the White House, and if the President would just flip that switch, we could chase all the illegals home with the budget we have) and

    B) immigrants will keep coming, legal or not, so long as the situations in their home countries remains one of hopelessness. Here, there is opportunity; that will continue to draw immigrants whether we wish it to do so or not.

  104. DanD says

    @Clark-

    I'm curious how many men you can name in the field of computer science?

    Or chemistry. Or Physics. There are a few names that get recognition in a field, out of the hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands working in that field. And while it's true that most of those few names are responsible for some fundamental breakthrough, they are responsible for a relatively small percentage of the total advancement in the field. Therefore, unless you're a specialist in the field, it's hardly surprising that you don't recognize the names. That doesn't make them unimportant.

    For instance, do you know who Rosalind Franklin is? She was responsible for one of the fundamental steps in determining the structure of DNA. If you accept Watson's version (and I tend to), not the final determination of the shape, but still a critical step on the way there.

    There are thousands of stories like that, and unless you know the field, you won't know who to credit all of those little bits to.

    And remember that until maybe the early '60s, the only way a woman could get recognition in their field was by publishing through or with their husband. So those "working with their husband" cases you called into question are as likely to be a social constraint as a technical one.

  105. glasnost says

    If nothing else, I'd love to see the SWPL elites who don't mind putting downward pressure on working class wages via importing gardeners and fry cooks squirm when we started importing people who would work as HR drones and corporate marketing bots in competition with them.

    Late to the party, but the idea of you having an iota of concern for working class wages is genuinely funny, and also an example of my second point:

    This is the part where I piss you off, but: show me a list of worthwhile scientific advances made by women or people of color.

    It's amazing how far brain functions, as viewed on a 2D Cartesian graph, can go in maximizing a combination of the X-Axis of Knowledge and the Y-Axis of learned ignorance. It never ceases to amaze me.

    That such an incredible set of walking contradictions could ever be assembled… and built so tall

    Seriously, why the fuck would you, for even for a moment, entertain the idea that you know anything about which human beings have made, or have not made, what contributions to "science"? Do you know what the sum total of written words about that add up to, relative to the "objective truth"? A pile of beans. Do you know what fraction of that total you've read? An infitesimal fraction. Do you know how much cultural and power-curve bias went into the content of those words?

    The scary thing about you is how little you know about what you don't know.

  106. Veritas says

    The premise undermines the entire argument. What is the issue is the government ignoring the law at the behest of special interests while feathering their nests. It corrupts the body politic and the entire concept of government. Got the money to buy a senator, then let's restore slavery via mass immigration and lowered wages. Got the money to buy the presidency, then lets destroy the currency and financial system to enhance our wealth and further reduce the citizens to a stage where they are slaves forever.

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