Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Assimilation

In the comments to the last post reader Loren noted:
I'm still wondering what good these refugees will ever do for America.
I think that is the central question we are facing.

I cannot answer that question because it is essentially unanswerable.  It is impossible to peer into the future but it is possible to make some guesses about the road based on what we see in the rear view mirror.

Revisionist history
We like to think that our fore-bearers were butchers, bakers, candlestick makers and potato farmers.

That is partially true.  But our fore-bearers were also petty criminals, debtors, drunks, failed farmers and religious cranks.

Somehow most of us assimilated.

Assimilation
The difference is that nearly everybody who immigrated in earlier decades wanted to assimilate.  Sure, the Swedes and Slavs, the Pollacks, the Irish and  Italians tended to congregate in their own neighborhoods, often anchored by the church of their choice.

They had their own restaurants, their own way of celebrating births and weddings, of mourning their dead.  But they assimilated the values of Greater America.

There are some other minorities that sort-of assimilated.  Who feels threatened by China-town or checking into a motel run by an East Indian?  Not me.

I think the difference is that the differences were not automatically celebrated.  If an immigrant failed to assimilate certain, key values then they found themselves left behind by the herd.

A few of those key values include being able to speak English clearly enough for a bored clerk to understand you.  A job to earn money.  Staying out of jail so you did not lose your job. The ability to defer gratification so you could save a down payment on a house or vehicle.

There is an air-bubble in the assimilation siphon 
In former times there were vast numbers of jobs that kids could do.  It was the larger economy writ small.  The habits and values kids picked up on those jobs served us well when we graduated to the larger economy.  Those jobs installed an internal compass within us that gave guidance even when the chop and turbulence of the larger economy gave conflicting signals later in life.

Kids mowed grass and raked leaves.  Kids delivered newspapers.  Kids lugged cinder blocks at construction sites and pulled weeds in gardens.  Vast numbers of kids worked on the farm tossing bales of hay and picking fruits and vegetables.

Most of those jobs have been mechanized or taken over by adults.

There also used to be organizations like Junior Achievement that would create "businesses".  Actual products would be designed, manufactured and sold; items like desk lamps and such.  The death knell of JA was when they started doing "paper studies" of businesses and stopped making and selling products.  Product liability was the reason given for the change.

Scouting is another example.  How many kids belong to Boy Scouts?  How many of those Boy Scouts go camping, in tents that they lug into the site, more than once a year?

The progressives with skin in the game
If you take a couple of steps back, you can see that the "progressives with skin in the game" essentially created a 4-H program for adults and their kids.  Real planning.  Real inputs.  Real effort.  Real results.

At least those refugees and their kids have a fighting chance of being productive members of our society.  I am less sure about the refugees that are parachuted into central cities and trained to sign up for entitlements.  And, frankly, I am less sure of the suburban yuppie larvae who have been brainwashed into believing that they create billions of dollars of value and six figure paychecks by the rapid manipulation of a keyboard.

Your mileage may vary.
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4 comments:

  1. Well said, take a look at the Vietnamese and how well 'most' of them have assimilated. They are probably the last group to fully do so.

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