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Posts from February 2020

The Half Century Queue

Listening to: 1A (25-Jan-2020), Get In Line: What It Takes To Legally Immigrate To The United States

… But every day, millions of people contend with the U.S.’ legal immigration system. Many have been living and working in America for years, stuck in residency limbo as they contend with an alphabet soup of visas and green cards and a system congested with red tape and long wait times.

An immigrant [from India] who applies for a green card today can expect to wait in line for 50 years.

— NPR, Get In Line: What It Takes To Legally Immigrate To The United States
1A, 25 January 2020

Shared Article from NPR.org

'Get In Line:' What It Takes To Legally Immigrate To The United …

"Over the past few years, [USCIS] has gotten far more difficult to navigate, it is much more difficult to speak to a human being, to make an appointme…


The half-century queue for permanent legal status is, of course, the direct result of the predictable, runaway overwhelming of an insanely restrictive system of immigration caps and national quotas. In the early 1920s, the U.S. created a madly restrictive system of immigration limits organized around a nativist and racist system of national-origins quotas.[1] This was widely understood to have been a mistake by 1965 — so in order to fix the system, they kept the insanely low caps on the total levels of authorized immigration, but they (thankfully finally) permitted Asiatic nations like India and China finally to claim their shares[2]; then they also (for the first time) imposed the same system of insanely restrictive caps on Mexico and the rest of Latin America.[3] Then, just to make things fair, they reallocated the national quotas so that every country, from Liechenstein to Honduras to the entire Republic of India, gets an equal sliver of the total. The completely predictable result has been that high-emigration countries have been accumulating runaway backlogs of applications. In theory there is a queue; in practice, the queue has become so mind-breakingly long that many 25 year olds seeking legal status now cannot reasonably expect to ever get a shot at naturalization unless they survive years beyond the average human life expectancy.

There is some discussion in the show about proposed ways to fix the system; mostly in the form of debates about how to reallocate the shares of the insanely low limit on total immigration so that countries with more demand for permanent-residency visas can get access to more permanent-residency visas per year. But the problem is not the allocation of shares among different nationalities of immigrants. The problem is that immigration is deliberately kept to a minuscule level that is wildly, completely out of touch with the realities of global migration, the number of people who are looking to come to the U.S. and with the level of demand and number of opportunities for immigrant workers, students and families within the U.S. The solution is not to reallocate the quotas again, according to some other rule, but to get rid of the caps and quotas entirely. There is no good or sensible way to triage something that people can and ought to have by right. There’s no fair method for rationing access to something that shouldn’t even be scarce in the first place.

  1. [1]1921: The national-origins system was debuted in the Emergency Quota Act; 1924: The system was regularized and made even more restrictive under the Immigration Act of 1924. The idea behind the act was, explicitly, to reduce the rate of demographic change in the U.S. and to keep undesirables out of the country, notably Asians and Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe and the Weimar Republic.
  2. [2]Nearly all immigrants from every Asian country had been barred entirely under a pair of racist provisions of the old system — one of them forbidding immigration from China or from anywhere in the Asiatic Barred Zone, and another forbidding immigration by any alien ineligible to citizenship, which under the racial prerequisites embedded in U.S. Naturalization laws amounted to forbidding Asians on racial grounds.
  3. [3]Immigrants from Western Hemisphere countries used to be non-quota immigrants under the old system. Although they were subjected to a number of other costs and restrictions, which allowed for frequent large-scale harassment, round-ups, and deportations during times of anti-immigrant backlash, they were not subject to any hard cap on numbers, in the way that Eastern Hemisphere countries were, until after the 1965 reform.

Reading: The Dating of Plato’s Ion, John D. Moore (1974)

. . . In general those scholars who accept the Ion as genuine agree in placing it among the first of Plato’s writings. But together with its youthful imperfections the Ion shares with more mature works a surprising number of Platonic themes or thought-patterns. . . . Some of these coincidences result no doubt from the fact that Ion is devoted to a recurrent Platonic subject, i.e. poetry, or the interpretation and use of poetry. Even so, Plato’s method of discussion and his choice of topics and devices seem both wide-ranging and sophisticated for a dialogue placed first in the corpus and generally considered[1] a rather poor beginner’s effort at that.

. . . The principal subjective reasons, I suspect, for placing the Ion as early as possible are these: (1) it is thought to be poorly constructed, and hence unworthy of Plato’s mature achievements; (2) its extravagant caricature and farcical argument are not characteristic of Plato’s mature work; (3) it is a small work, and small works tend to precede larger ones; (4) it is a nasty attack on poetry which can best be ignored by attributing it to Plato’s youth. The last assumption is the crucial one, although it involves a view of the dialogue’s purpose which I, with many scholars, do not share; in any case, where on this basis would we place Republic 2 and 10? The remaining assumptions are either doubtful, false, or beg the question . . . .

— John D. Moore, The Dating of Plato’s Ion
Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 15 (June 1974)

Shared Article from radgeek.com

John D. Moore (1974), “The Dating of Plato’s Ion”

THE SMALL DIALOGUE called Ion has provoked more than its share of bewilderment, embarrassment and outrage. ... Ast and Ritter pronounced it spurious, …


  1. [1][By those critics who place it very early in Plato’s writing; not necessarily by Moore. –R.G.]
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