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Friday, January 12, 2018

What, exactly, is a "shithole?"

Someone once said to me, "Mel Gibson is what would happen if you just took a regular guy off the street, say, a good-looking cop, and made him a movie star."

(The definition of a "regular guy" being: one who thinks more like the masses than the elites, who scoffs at politically correct pieties, and who just blurts out whatever he's thinking.)

You could almost say the same of Donald Trump: it's as if America just decided to take a regular guy and make him President.

Yesterday, Donald Trump evidently asked lawmakers gathered at the White House to discuss immigration policy, "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?"

He then suggested that we should encourage more immigration from places like Norway, whose prime minister he had met with on Wednesday.

This is vintage Trump: blunt-spoken and tactless, but honest. Calling other countries "shitholes" is hardly statesmanlike. (Though, it must be said, it was the Democrats who informed the press Trump used that term -- in what he undoubtedly thought was a private meeting.)

Now, of course, all the usual suspects are spluttering with outrage.

But, does Trump have a point?

Trump made his comment when legislators were discussing extending special protections to immigrants from Haiti, el Salvador, and various African countries.

The Oxford dictionary defines "shithole" as:

An extremely dirty, shabby, or otherwise unpleasant place.

Can an entire country be characterized that way?

Haiti's per capita GDP is $729 as of 2016, compared to the US's $57,466.

Its infant mortality rate is 48.2 deaths per 1000 births, far higher than the US rate of 5.8.

Haiti's literacy rate is 61%, compared to the 86% rate in the US.

In the 22 months following the end of the President Aristide era in 2004, the murder rate in Haiti reached 220 per 100,000 population, though it has since come down to closer to 60. In the US, it hovers roughly around 5.

These statistics certainly seem to add up to a "shabby or otherwise unpleasant place."

Not coincidentally, the average IQ in Haiti is 67, vs. 98 for the US.

And all of Haiti's statistics are remarkably similar to those of the sub-Saharan African countries. 

If you're from a country like Haiti, with its near nonexistent welfare, of course you want to come to the United States. Likewise, you'd want to emigrate from Africa to Europe. 

The principle seems to be, the more of a mess you've made of your own country, the more desperately you want to come here. 

The question is, will it be good for the US to have people from such countries come here? Will a group of immigrants with an average IQ of 67 be more of a boon, or a burden?

Are they more likely to increase our per capita GDP, or to increase our crime rate?

Some feel we shouldn't even be allowed to ask these questions, that they're beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse. But is it really unpatriotic to ask if a policy is in this country's best interest?

Of course not; it's self-destructive not to ask.

And it's hard not to conclude that the only reason certain parties don't want that question asked is because the answer is so obvious. Every immigrant who comes to this country makes this country a tiny bit more like the country he came from. 

Donald Trump's not about to win any prizes for diplomacy. But by the standards of Western leaders, he's quite commonsensical about immigration. 


Anonymous said...

I thought the same of Trump's comment.... Is it true? Yes.

Our immigration policy should be about maximizing the well-being and economic prosperity for the current US citizens.

Many people out there haven't felt the direct effect of globalization / open boarders policies. I experienced it first-hand at a recent job. This small company was purchased by two foreign born owners. Among the negative things they did (and that is a LONG list) - outsource a significant percentage of the manufacturing, blow away most of the long term work force (though firings and also by creating such a negative environment that many of them left); and replace them with foreign born workers - to the extent that ~40% of the staff was foreign born during the last year I worked there. An unwritten rule was to advertise for jobs in minority neighborhoods. Why? part of the reason is that the owners knew the foreign born would knuckle under to the abusive work environment.

All those who have been immune to what's going on out there and have some altruistic feelings about helping those poor people in other countries with a ticket to the US - wake up. If its not a zero sum game - its close enough. The current citizenry suffers.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Agreed, the primary purpose of a government should be to help its own citizens, not to help foreigners at their own citizens' expense. A lot of people seem to lose sight of that.

And a lot of people who come from other countries bring their foreign customs with them, which don't jibe with our culture. The story you tell reminds me of that Indian woman who essentially brought a slave with her from India, and continued to treat her as a slave here. And think of that female Muslim doctor up in Dearborn who performed clitoridectomies on young girls. And a lot of the recent immigrants have retained their loyalty to their home country, and disparage this country freely, while partaking of its bounty. I've never understood people who come here for the opportunities but complain about how horrible it is at every opportunity.

I say, no thanks. Stay in your own country. (And I wasn't even dealing with these points in this post, this one was more just about IQ and competence.)

Anonymous said...

When I learned what Trump said, I laughed. He is blunt, but truthful. Many commenters on another website that I go to for news agreed with Trump, commenters who hailed from various countries. Plenty of people stated that Trump is simply saying what most of us are thinking.

- Susan

John Craig said...

Susan --
There were actually a number of news items that made me laugh this past week (including this one). Floyd Mayweather's response to that reporter's question was another. And reading about Dave Chapelle's characterization of some of the women in the #Metoo movement was another.

Dave Moriarty said...

a little story for you. in the 80's i lived on 99th street and west end avenue on the upper west side of NYC. Across the street was a small apt building housing entirely haitians . in general they were gypsy cab drivers but otherwise hung out side on the stoop all day and night. anyway as my wife was about to give birth i had a car in the city to take her to flushing hospital where her doctor delivered kids. one might here water breaks and i run down to load stuff in the car. but "someone" had broken into the car ( this was the era of car radio thieves and people had to take the radio out of their car or the windows would be broken and the radio extracted) . anyway, someone had used a screwdriver in the lock and now my key would not open the door. given the door was locked i had t o use a screwdriver and break in to my own car. now i don't carry a screwdriver around with me. so i walked over to my where about ten guys were hanging around . i asked hey any of you guys have a screwdriver ?

they all did ! anyway we go to the hospital and had the baby. He is now 31 and recently got married and lives -you guessed it the upper west side. so i guess the "lesson" is if we need more screwdrivers maybe we know who to bring aboard.

John Craig said...

Dave --
Ha, I like the way you end the story with a surprise moral. Well, guess I was wrong after all....

(Well told story, btw, you cleverly refrain from assigning blame to anyone of breaking into your car.)

GT said...

Would be a good exercise to see how far Trump could have taken it to sound PC.

Shithole = countries or regions with the greatest untapped opportunities for advancement

That sounds sickingly PC. Would the MSM have gotten upset if he used the above PC phrase?

In all honesty I am not pleased that Trump used the term shithole as it does not sound very presidential but I am not sure what term he should have used.

John Craig said...

GT --
If Trump had used some PC phrase in that supposedly private meeting, we'd never have heard about it.

I'm not happy he used the phrase either, if he did (there now appears to be some doubt about it, at least a few are denying it and Durbin supposedly has a history of fibbing). I have to admit, it does sound like him. And you're right, while it's not an inapt adjective, it's not Presidential.

While I support him politically, I wish he'd rein himself in a little. It's getting harder and harder to deny that he's a 'hole himself.

arthur thurman said...

During my time in the military I enjoyed visiting many countries and experiencing different cultures. It made me thankful for what we have here in America. It also reinforced my belief that we have to keep it that way. Importing the 3rd world will not do that.

Anonymous said...

there is this sauce from Africa, called "SHITR SAUCE" that I noticed ten or twelve years ago (I found it online while looking up something about Pere Ubu, you know how in Alfred Jarry's play he scandalized people a couple centuries back by adding an extra "r" to "merde" (French for "shit") to produce "merdre," which English translations sometimes render as "shitr," forgive me for bringing up all this decadent art history with which you, WISE MISTER CRAIG, are no doubt well-familiar, but not everybody shares the dubious benefits of a liberal arts education the way you and I do) was on google images, it was brown and came in a barely-labelled glass jar like Granny's peach jam, and apparently it was sold out of this one weird warehouse/boatdock/storefront in the Bronx, the whole concept was fairly amusing

back then years ago when I found this SHITR SAUCE unfortunately I was too ignorant to do screenshots and/or internet archive preservations of these webpages, I cannot find the SHITR SAUCE anymore...I think it was "good on chicken" ...

or maybe goat, what do you think?

John Craig said...

Arthur --
Yes, in general, importing Third Worlders raises their economic level, and lowers ours.

John Craig said...

I've never heard of that sauce, but you've brought back a distant memory: being forced to read Alfred Jarry at the liberal private school I attended. What a waste of time that was. Along with Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot," and so on. Ugh. I don't think I ever read a single book I was forced to in school which I enjoyed.

Back then a lot of us read books like "Catcher in the Rye" on our own, and enjoyed it for all the truths about human nature it described so well. Ditto for Kurt Vonnegut. But forcing high school students to read absurdist "literature" in order to broaden their horizons? It was all part of what turned this student into a conservative, or, at least, an anti-liberal.

Anonymous said...

South Korea was a shithole country, with a GDP lower than many African nations today adjusted for inflation post ww2/korean war.

Now look at where they are.

I would say:
Maybe when you hear your country is a "shithole", try to do something about it so you can someday prove the world wrong, eh?

IQ plays a role, but Nepal is far far cleaner than India despite having a lower IQ. Nigeria has a lower IQ than the Philippines but is less dirty, cramped, and garbage ridden and is on the road to having more power someday if trends continue.

There is still room for improvement across the world.


John Craig said...

Ga --
I"m not sure comparing a Korea which had just been through WWII and the Korean War to an African country is a fair comparison. (It's a little like comparing North and South Korea, which both have similar average IQ's: there are extraneous circumstances impinging on the results.) But yes, S.K. has made great strides.

I agree, the best solution would be for the "shithole" countries to prove Trump wrong. But I'm not holding my breath on that one.