Show me your papers

Texas used to be different from other southern states.  Yes, they were conservative, but in a sort of pragmatic way.  For instance, just a few years ago Texas was far less anti-immigrant than California.  No longer:

Matt Schaefer, of the Freedom Caucus, amended the bill to allow police officers to question a suspect’s immigration status—a “show me your papers” provision. Law-enforcement authorities in Texas’s major cities had loudly opposed such an idea, saying that it would make immigrants less likely to report crimes. Art Acevedo, Houston’s police chief, said that the number of Hispanics reporting rape in his city was already down forty-three per cent—apparently a result of Trump’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants. Schaefer’s amendment was similar to a 2010 Arizona law that had been partly struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Yesterday I discovered that young non-religious women are trending toward Saudi views of workplace equality.  And today I find out that the Texas Freedom Caucus has decided that America needs to be more like one of those European countries where you are required to show your papers to police officers.  That’s what makes life so interesting.  I would not be at all surprised if a couple decades from now the Dems are the low tax party or the GOP is pro-choice (as they used to be).  Cultural change is unpredictable.

But where is our modern H.L. Mencken?

Fortunately none of this nonsense matters all that much.  Not compared to the 300,000 people who got electricity for the first time yesterday, or the 300,000 more people who got electricity today.

PS.  The entire article is worth reading, as an illustration of how Trumpism is making a sizable share of Republicans go completely bonkers.

PPS  Texas Republicans hate immigrants so much that they are willing to give up their freedoms.  Californians hate Texans so much that they ban state workers from traveling to Texas on taxpayer money.  Why does everyone suddenly have all this hatred for people who are different?  Where does it come from?

PPPS.  What other weird social trends have I missed?



30 Responses to “Show me your papers”

  1. Gravatar of David Pinto David Pinto
    3. July 2017 at 17:48

    Pokemon Go?

  2. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    3. July 2017 at 18:14

    David, Is that a computer game? Something I should know about?

  3. Gravatar of Timothy Timothy
    3. July 2017 at 18:26

    The social trend where people hate people who are different from them, and have been doing so for millennia?

  4. Gravatar of Bob Bob
    3. July 2017 at 18:58

    A large segment of republicans becoming very anti immigrant is a real thing, but I’d not blame it on Trump. I’m an immigrant that came to the US in the 90s. 9/11 started bringing in bonus anti immigrant legislation in red states: That’s when driver licenses started expiring faster for immigrants in temporary visas, and I had to start waiting for the license itself to get mailed to me from the state capital, as local DMVs were seen as open to corruption. This anti immigrant sentiment increased again with the tea party, which always had anti immigrant connotations, and it’s increasing again with Trump, but we’ve been feeling the heat getting warmer for decades. Chances are you’d see this more far more slowly in New England though.

    There’s good news though: This time gives plenty of opportunities to liberals and libertarians that are driven by loving freedom, not hating taxes for rich people, to find common ground. Given the state of the Republican party today, it seems to me that it’s easier for libertarians to try to convince liberals to change their policies that just don’t achieve their stated goals anyway (see, gentrification and cost of building in SF), and for liberals to accept that their goals are only achievable through good growth rates, to avoid the Illinois situation.

    This is an easy match: Most US growth today doesn’t come from the people backing the current republican party, but from companies from San Francisco and Seattle that abhor the current Republican moral story. As tech keeps growing, isn’t it mad to attach your cart to old energy companies and real estate?

  5. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    3. July 2017 at 19:14

    “Why does everyone suddenly have all this hatred for people who are different?  Where does it come from?”

    It is because mainstream philosophy eschews individualism in favor of identity politics.

  6. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    3. July 2017 at 22:37

    I think the rank and file GOP wants tighter job markets, not more dole. In Trump they finally found someone approximate on the issues.

    After all, employees vastly outnumber employers.

    The elites want more cheap labor.

    That is that.

  7. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    3. July 2017 at 23:25

    UK business confidence hits 18-month high despite Brexit uncertainty
    Lloyds Bank’s confidence index rises to 24% in May from 14% in January.

    By Karthick Arvinth
    Updated June 26, 2017 06:21 BST

    UK and EU want ‘quick and substantive progress’ on Brexit Reuters

    Confidence among companies across Britain has improved significantly over the past six months, according to a survey.

    The Lloyds Bank Business in Britain report showed that the confidence index – a gauge of expected sales, orders and profits of some 1,500 firms over the coming six months – rose to 24% in May from 14% in January.

    This is the highest level recorded in the index since the start of 2016 and is in line with the long-term average of 23%.

    However, the share of companies saying they had experienced difficulty in hiring skilled labour over the past six months jumped to a 10-year high of 52%, compared with 31% in January.


    Love that “however.”

  8. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    3. July 2017 at 23:53

    Not sure where Kristoff is getting his numbers on electricity access, but if you use IBRD numbers for the last two years for which data are available, he’s off by an order of magnitude.

  9. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    4. July 2017 at 00:50

    Calling immigration restrictions “anti-immigrant” is analogous to calling universities “anti-student” for denying students admission and using “draconian” rules to enforce their non-student status.

    Nations like Japan and Mexico are orders of magnitude more restrictive in immigration levels than US or Texas. They are also more aggressive about enforcing immigration laws and stopping uninvited people from living there.

    Nations like Canada are far more selective about the immigrants that they take.

    It would be reasonable to call these other countries more restrictive, selective, or “anti-immigrant” than the US or Texas.

  10. Gravatar of dave dave
    4. July 2017 at 03:30

    Texas may be reacting to the changes in immigration policy since the 90’s. Bush was open borders, pro mexico. The obama administration waved everyone in, and halted pragmatic ICE enforcement. Action/policies/elections all have consequences. Unexpectedly!

  11. Gravatar of JMCSF JMCSF
    4. July 2017 at 04:07

    You would think that ideologically, Republicans be very pro immigration. What better way to raise living standards than move from a country that is poor to one that is wealthier and pay more for labor. It’s an instant increase in productivity and wealth for the same work that would. What government program is as effective as immigration? Not any of the US’s welfare, healthcare, or housing programs.

    So I wonder why Republicans are now so opposed to a process that encourages work, has better outcomes, and does not require government assistance? I can think of some theories but am open to any ideas.

  12. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    4. July 2017 at 05:59

    Timothy, Dems and Republicans didn’t hate each other when I was young. The hatred of immigrants has ratcheted upward sharply in the past 10 years.

    Ben, How does Trump plan to produce “tighter labor markets”?

    Dave, You said:

    “The obama administration waved everyone in, and halted pragmatic ICE enforcement.”

    Remind me how many people Obama deported.

    JMCSF, I suspect the reason is they don’t like non-whites.

  13. Gravatar of Dan W. Dan W.
    4. July 2017 at 06:54

    Short story: Enforcing the law results in law breakers assuming a lower social profile.

  14. Gravatar of Patrick Sullivan Patrick Sullivan
    4. July 2017 at 06:56

    ‘JMCSF, I suspect the reason is they don’t like non-whites.’

    And I suspect that is moral vanity. Which is quite surprising coming from a guy who is usually on such an even keel as Scott.

    The people I encounter who are anti-immigrant are anti-illegal-immigrant. Not too surprising to find that amongst the law-abiding citizenry. Especially when the tolerance for obviously illegals is mixed up with the tolerance for other anti-social behavior in a lot of our major cities. Ride a bus in Seattle to experience it, if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

    Which is not ‘hatred’, but cost/benefit analysis (whether or not it’s sound analysis). The only hatred I see is from people of leftish political sympathies towards non-lefties–‘those right wingers!’ who don’t share their political prejudices.

  15. Gravatar of Patrick Sullivan Patrick Sullivan
    4. July 2017 at 07:07

    ‘Dems and Republicans didn’t hate each other when I was young.’

    Weren’t you young in the Sixties (chronologically inexact, that is)?

    One of the funnier episodes of a very well done sitcom, The Wonder Years, is when Winnie Cooper becomes enamored of the McGovern campaign (largely due to the handsome young organizer). She drags boyfriend Kevin along with her to the envelope stuffing, telephone calling events, where he experiences the vitriol for the President.

    At one point, frustrated with what’s happened to his sweet girl-friend, he blurts out, ‘What’s so bad about President Nixon anyhow?’ Which goes over about as you’d expect with the supposed adults.

    Reagan got the same treatment–‘amiable dunce’ being one of the kinder epithets.

  16. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    4. July 2017 at 12:04

    Improper entry is a crime. Illegal immigration is illegal (hence the name). But many politicians and intellectuals (you are one of them) prove time and time again that they are completely unwilling to stop those illegal activities. Completely unwilling in bold.

    How are you supposed to uncover illegality when you aren’t allowed to control? Nearly very European country (and most other countries in the world) got an obligation of identification, so we will never get what the fuss is all about.

    Liberals should stop their pseudo-legal quibblings and their dishonesty once and for all. It’s harming neoliberalism so much. Neoliberalism should never be about covering up illegality. Continue on this path in your arrogance and one Trump after another will follow.

    Politicians who support a simple “show me your papers”-bill are “right-wing zealots” in the eyes of the self-declared intellectuals from the New Yorker, who live in their ivory towers (and in their gated communities). They are the extremists not the people who want a simple “show me your papers”-bill.

  17. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    4. July 2017 at 15:32

    Trump’s trade and immigration policies are perceived as tightening up US labor markets.

    Monetary policy is probably over Trump’s head but he seems to want stimulus.

    Already US businesses are telling the Fed they have labor shortages and talking about the need for more immigrant labor.

    What should US employees deduce from these events?

  18. Gravatar of Dan W. Dan W.
    4. July 2017 at 16:49

    Apparently, the worst possible thing that could happen to America’s economy would be for labor to get a pay raise. Thus the imperative that the supply of labor always increase to minimize the bargaining power of the marginal worker.

  19. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    4. July 2017 at 18:58

    “Timothy, Dems and Republicans didn’t hate each other when I was young.”
    -That’s because you lived in a transition period when the parties had more or less consistent ideologies, but had not yet acquired consistent constituencies. The logical consequences of the New Deal took decades to make themselves manifest. You grew up in a very unique time in American political history, when people could tell what the parties stood for, but who the parties stood for had not yet become blatant.
    “the GOP is pro-choice (as they used to be).”
    When? The first presidential election in which abortion was an issue (1976), both parties were against it, but Ford took the obviously tougher abortion stance than Carter.
    “The hatred of immigrants has ratcheted upward sharply in the past 10 years.”
    -Wrong; it has collapsed, at least, in the U.S. broadly. Maybe not among the GOP, though, for good reason.
    “Where does it come from?”
    The natural sorting of ideology by constituency.

  20. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    4. July 2017 at 19:01

    “JMCSF, I suspect the reason is they don’t like non-whites.”
    -They like non-whites only when they vote their way. Same reason why Clarence Thomas, Ben Carson, Mia Love, and Tim Scott are viewed not as members of their race, but of their party. But everyone knows Blacks vote 95% Democratic, so inviting more of them into this country is a crazy dangerous proposition to the GOP.

  21. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    5. July 2017 at 18:33

    From Reuters:

    “U.S. prepared to use force on North Korea ‘if we must’: U.N. envoy

    By Michelle Nichols

    The United States cautioned on Wednesday it was ready to use force if need be to stop North Korea’s nuclear missile program but said it preferred global diplomatic action against Pyongyang for defying world powers by test launching a ballistic missile that could hit Alaska.

    U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told a meeting of the U.N. Security Council that North Korea’s actions were “quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution” and the United States was prepared to defend itself and its allies.

    “One of our capabilities lies with our considerable military forces. We will use them if we must, but we prefer not to have to go in that direction,” Haley said. She urged China, North Korea’s only major ally, to do more to rein in Pyongyang.”


    Meanwhile, the Korean stock market up 20% YOY, and up 0.33% after missile launch. Property prices busting records in Seoul.


    The S. Koreans have instructed the US they do not want the THAAD system.

    Interesting question; Would the U.S., and perhaps the Korean peninsula, be better off if the U.S retired from the scene? In what way are we improving matters on the peninsula? S Korea has vastly larger resources than the N Koreans.

    Why are the S. Koreans very, very unconcerned about the N Koreans?

    And why is this never mentioned in US media?

  22. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    5. July 2017 at 18:56

    Patrick, I wasn’t talking about illegal immigration.

    Christian, Not sure who your comments are aimed, at, but they don’t describe my views.

    Ben, You said:

    “Trump’s trade and immigration policies are perceived as tightening up US labor markets.”

    By whom? Idiots?

    Harding, Lots of Republicans switched from pro-choice to pro-life during the 1970s and 1980s. They fell in line.

  23. Gravatar of Dan W. Dan W.
    6. July 2017 at 02:51


    How do you distinguish a legal immigrant from an illegal immigrant, if you don’t check papers?

  24. Gravatar of Les Cargill Les Cargill
    6. July 2017 at 04:17

    The Texas/California rift has been a thing since Enron, if not before.

  25. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    6. July 2017 at 05:51

    Scott Sumner:

    Re “idiots”.

    You recently cited a Dallas Morning News article that suggested construction workers in Collin County, Texas, make $98,000 a year.

    Construction companies in the article bemoan the lack of foreign labor, including “unauthorized immigrants”—apparently a PC-term in Texas builder circles for illegal immigrant labor.

    Now, is a construction worker in Collin County an “idiot” for concluding that illegal labor and immigration depresses wages?

    Seems like a sensible deduction to me.

    In any event, in the real world, it appears construction wages in Collin County are quite tame.,-LLC/jobs/Construction-Helper-Laborer-66e395e914871422?q=construction

    The above job ad offers $12 to $15 an hour for a construction laborer in Collin County.

    Here is a funny one:,-Texas?from=serpsalaryblock

    Based on a sample of 2,246 jobs, construction workers in Texas make an average $12.57 an hour, which says is actually 10% below the national average.

    Yet the Fed, as if on cue, is now bleating “labor shortages” in the U.S.

    In fact, in the Fed’s latest policy June 13-14 policy meeting, the minutes read in part, “Several participants expressed concern that a substantial and sustained unemployment undershooting might make the economy more likely to experience financial instability ….”

    Where does this squeamish hysteria about low unemployment and the mere possibility of wage growth come from?

    Now Fed policy-makers suggest robust labor markets will cause “financial instability”!

    Egads! This reminds me of the old “QE will cause unforeseeable financial catastrophes” fear-mongering.

    The practice of orthodox macroeconomics seems in need of serious re-thinking.

    Also, the Fed says it is data driven, except when it comes to wages, which are dead, so it is relying on (often fake) anecdotes to tighten up.

    Good grief!

  26. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    6. July 2017 at 14:20

    No problem, I’m used to you not understanding what I’m trying to say. Like others said: Maybe you want to explain what your big problem with “checking paper” laws is? How are you supposed to uncover illegality when you aren’t allowed to control? How do you distinguish a legal citizen from an illegal immigrant, if you don’t check papers? Don’t be so hypocritical and intellectually dishonest.

  27. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    8. July 2017 at 07:16

    Ben, Explain to me how Trump’s trade policies tighten up the labor market.

    Everyone, If you don’t see the problem with given police the right to ask you for your papers, then there’s no way I can help you.

  28. Gravatar of Dan W. Dan W.
    8. July 2017 at 08:59


    Is it is a problem when police ask for a license? Is it wrong when they ask for proof of insurance? Or registration of the car?

    There is a problem in asking for “papers” as Americans don’t regularly carry them! However I, as an American, have to show “papers” for my kid to attend the public school and I have to show “papers” for my kid to play in the community baseball league.

    Yet in your mind it is a tragedy if law enforcement was to ask for “papers”, all the while the school administration can demand them and you apparently are ok with that.

    What would you think of a system that quickly, rapidly and efficiently identified those in the US illegally and adjudicated their case? If you oppose that then what are you going to offer that will actually make it ILLEGAL for uninvited guests to the country to reside in the country? And if nothing actually identifies such people as illegal than will you be honest to recognize you do not believe a nation can control its border.

  29. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    8. July 2017 at 14:12

    Everyone, If you don’t see the problem with given police the right to ask you for your papers, then there’s no way I can help you.

    That’s the non-argument of a child who is unable to explain its position, most likely because it got no argument at all in the first place.

  30. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    9. July 2017 at 10:40

    @DanW, Sumner is trolling us. Obviously, asking for your “papers” has some dramatic association. The more normal id checks that regular US residents experience involves id cards like a driver’s license or having an id chip in your phone, or on many cars.

    New toll roads don’t have a cash option and require either a car id tag or use license plate scanners to do pay my mail. I like this, personally, to eliminate the idea of manned toll booths. All basic use of roads absolutely legally requires id for all residents. Your car must have plates, and you are legally required to carry a driver’s license.

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