Give Me Your Poesy
I very much enjoyed Kevin D. Williamson’s essay on Emma Lazarus (“Wretched Refuse, Indeed,” August 28) and the way in which her famous poem, which had several opportunities to disappear, succeeded in newly branding the Statue of Liberty as representing the welcoming of poor and oppressed people.
I concur with all his main points — it’s close to doggerel. But as he notes, it remains affecting to many people. I see two reasons.
One, the poem is likely to conjure a cloud of sentiments that remind the reader of other types of mercy. For example, rescuing an orphan cat, setting up a charity hospital for the indigent, setting up an orphanage, and so on.
Second, the poem doesn’t make sense if one assumes the distant, poor, huddled masses will simply be piling up here on our sidewalks and in our gutters as poor huddled masses again. It only makes sense with the implication that things will be better here. Again, this conjures favorable sentiments. They’re not just yearning to be free, but likely to breathe free, stand up, have work, and so on.
Thanks for your good work.
Los Angeles, Calif.
Wages and Immigration
Perhaps I missed it, but I didn’t see the word “immigration” in “A Wage- Growth Conundrum,” by Robert VerBruggen (July 31).
If the potential labor pool includes not only Americans but also every tech worker in India and every farm worker in Mexico, etc., etc., surely this must put rather a lot of downward pressure on wages?
I’m curious to know why this isn’t addressed in the article.
Robert VerBruggen responds: I do tend to believe that immigrants put downward pressure on the wages of natives who have similar skills. (That’s one reason I support limiting low-skilled immigration; see my piece “A DACA Deal” in the October 2 issue of NR.) But there’s simply no good evidence that immigration is producing the wide-scale wage sclerosis I documented in this piece. In fact, even George J. Borjas, the economist most willing to challenge his profession’s pro-immigration dogma, finds that immigration has actually increased American wages slightly overall, though he argues it has been harmful to high-school dropouts and college grads specifically (because immigrants disproportionately compete with people of these education levels).