Comments on the Cenk Uygur and Tucker Carlson “debate”

The exchange between Cenk Uygur and Tucker Carlson was prompted by the Honduran caravan heading towards the United States.
The whole exchange was dominated by Tucker Carlson who made the following observations:

Carlson made a number of claims, which Uygur, by not disagreeing, tacitly agreed with.
There is poverty everywhere in the world.
Is it the role of the US government to deal with global poverty?
No. The primary role of government is to safeguard the interests of its own citizens.
These interests are, at least in theory, supposed to be safeguarded by the elected politicians who make and execute laws.
Now, there are existing laws about immigration and they should be executed.
It is another question whether these immigration laws should be changed.

By Carlson’s reasoning, immigration laws should not be changed. Why? Because of the principle of supply and demand. At one time in America, during the Industrial Revolution, there was a great demand for workers, and the US welcomed immigrants by the thousands. But this demand no longer exists. Industrial jobs have gone to places like China and elsewhere, and because of automation, even less workers are needed. In other words, we have a surplus of workers. The existing illegal immigrants compete for available jobs, and cause wages to drop. Adding more immigrants will only worsen the situation.

Carlson also brought up the issue that too much change is disruptive to societies, citing the work of Robert D. Putnman. Carlson mentioned that in the past we underwent an economic revolution from an agrarian to an industrial society, and now we have another major revolution due to technological changes based on computers, resulting in automation.

Carlson also claimed that multi-culturalism does not work. He noted that a country in order to be a country, must have some unifying principles, among which the most important is language; otherwise, the country will eventually break apart.

Uygur did not respond to any of Carlson’s main claims. He offered what I would call red herrings. For one, he complained about Fox news reporting in such a way as to suggest that the the Honduran caravan was about to sneak in or break through the border. Whereas, in fact, these are people seeking asylum. And then he went to say that Trump is planning to reject the request for asylum. And he reminded the audience of how some Jews were refused asylum during World War II —  the case where one ship was returned, with the result that a quarter of the passengers of that ship died in German concentration camps. His position is that asylum seekers should be listened to, and not rejected out of hand. Fair enough.

As to the main issue of supply and demand, Uygur had no comments. Instead he went off the track to point out that America is a country built on immigration, and that illegal immigrants are not responsible for most of the crimes. In response, Carlson said that he assumed that immigrants are fine people, but that this has nothing to do with the economic problem of supply and demand. Carlson also agreed with Uyger that undocumented immigrants may very well be innocent, but that there are 20 million of them. And he asked who benefits from this? Uygur gave no answer, but the answer is that it is employers.

The only remotely relevant answer to this problem  of supply and demand which Uygur gave, was to claim that there are certain kinds of jobs which Americans are reluctant to do. He cited cases where in the South, illegal immigrants were removed by ICE from chicken plants, resulting in employers complaining that there was no one to replace them. Carlson’s answer to this was that if employers paid more, they would find the workers among citizens.

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