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Lessons AZ can learn from US history about how to deal with demographic change

teamosil

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Arizona has been undergoing a simply massive demographic change over the past 30 years or so. In late 70s only about 16% of the state was hispanic. Today 30% of the state is hispanic. The hispanic population of the state has increased by about 1.2 million in the last 30 years. The vast majority of whom are here legally. That is a HUGE number of people for a state of just 6.5 million in total.

It is easy to look at how AZ is handling things recently with regards to hispanics (english only laws, racial profiliing, banning cultural studies courses, firing teachers for having hispanic accents, etc) and just denounce AZ as racist. But, I think that is a pretty shallow way to look at it. The truth is that adapting to a massive cultural change IS hard. It's easy to sit in a state that either hasn't dealt with much demographic change in it's history, or in a state that dealt with it a long time ago and has already adapted, and judge, but the reality is that it really is not easy. The truth is that most states that have had to deal with a big demographic change have had at least some phase of that process where they turned to some pretty racist policies before they finally came around to a better way. Change is hard for people. They're used to things being done one way and they feel like demographic change is forcing them to adapt out of their comfort zone. Cultural paranoia sets in and people make all kinds of nasty assumptions about the new cultural group. Communication across cultural and linguistic barriers is tough and leads to a lot of misunderstandings. People scapegoat the new cultural group for problems they're experiencing. And so on.

This isn't a new story, it has happened over and over and over in US history. New York went through convulsions when the Irish and Italian immigrants came. California passed all kinds of laws designed to harrass Asians when they first moved here in large numbers. Chicago tried to segregate blacks into large, self contained, ghettos when the black population there shot up. There are a dozen similar examples.

The good news is that in the long run, it always ends up as a positive thing. Many of the most economically successful places in the country are also amongst the most diverse, but generally, they're places that have been highly diverse for a long time. Making it over that hump from reacting to a recent demographic change to thriving on it is no easy thing.

So, I think we should talk about what lessons have been learned in US history about how to, and how not to, deal with that kind of demographic change. We shouldn't keep repeating our mistakes, we should learn from them. So, I'm interested to hear what people think. Some lessons I think we've learned:

You can't stop it. Most states or cities that have experienced a massive demographic change have initially tried to prevent that change from happening, but it has never worked once in the whole history of the country. The reasons people move to a new place run far deeper than anything that can really be controlled. No amount of laws attempting to persecute a demographic group will outweigh those factors, it will just cause the whole process to involve a lot more suffering for everybody.

Segregation just multiplies the problems. Cities that have tried to keep the members of the new demographic group separate have universally come to regret that decision. Concentrating the problems related to cultural adaptation just causes them to spiral. Chicago is a great example of this. They designed the whole freeway system around the premise that they would separate out large chunks of the city with few or no roads connecting them to the rest so that they would not "spill over" into the white areas. The result was abject ghettos where the people living in them never really stood a chance of getting out of poverty and it caused the cultural conflict to linger for decades.

Embracing diversity reduces conflict. Cities and states that have fixated on assimilation- in the sense of the new group being expected to drop their culture and assume the culture of the group already there- have always just managed to increase the resentment between the cultures. Understanding and appreciation of the other culture, in both directions, is the key to harmony, not oppression of one culture by another. And, frankly, it is just a whole lot more interesting that way. Diversity of all sorts is the spice of life. Learning to appreciate that rather than to fear it is the way to go.

Leverage the advantages of diversity. This is one thing California does incredibly well. California is incredibly diverse, and not just racially diverse, but we have a huge percentage of the population here that grew up in just about every country in the world. Second only to New York in that regard. And it has turned out to be a massive asset for us in the long run. For example, tech companies thrive on being able to pull in the best talent from all around the world. It is really tough for somebody to travel half way around the world to live somewhere for a job if there isn't anything they are familiar with there culturally. California has a huge variety of Mexican, Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, middle eastern, South American, and African communities. We have restaurants from all those communities everywhere in the state, we have bi-lingual schools covering dozens of languages, etc. As a result, we've become the perfect place to locate a tech company. You can recruit from anywhere in the world and the people you're recruiting will be comfortable here. Not to mention, we have some of the best restaurants, art, music, etc, in the world because we're able to draw on such a wide range of cultural backgrounds. Looking for ways like that to benefit from demographic change is a far superior way to deal with the change than trying to fight it. Like they say, when the fool sees a wind coming he builds a wind block. When the wise man sees a wind coming he builds a windmill.
 

mike2810

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Interesting post. Yet you don't address the point that some of the change is because of illegals in the state. I would give your post more credit, but much of AZ issue is driven from the illegal issue. AZ choices not to ignore it like CA and its sanctuary cities.
Also not all states wish to be like California. So how is the 19Billion debt doing for you?
 

jujuman13

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How strange, teamosil does not seem to want to provide an answer. Oh well, such is life.
 

teamosil

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Interesting post. Yet you don't address the point that some of the change is because of illegals in the state. I would give your post more credit, but much of AZ issue is driven from the illegal issue.
Well, illegal immigration is only part of the issue though. Lots of the AZ laws have addressed things unrelated to illegal immigration, like the ban on cultural studies, english only laws and firing teachers with accents. From what I've seen, most folks from AZ seem to believe that the state is literally awash with illegal immigrants. Statements that like 30% of the state is illegal immigrants and whatnot. Well, it's actually just 4% of the population of the state. That makes me think people are blurring together hispanics and illegal immigrants in their mind and making assumptions that whenever they see a hispanic person on the strett, it's probably an illegal immigrant.

In these sorts of situations there is always some legal premise to justify the reaction. For example, out here in San Francisco when there was a huge spike in the Asian population around 100 years ago, there was a huge hype about the dangers of opium dens. People believed that there was a massive plague of opium dens in San Francisco, stories about white women being lured into opium dens then gang raped by the opium adicts were spread like wildfire to the point where most people here thought it was common knowledge that Asians were engaged in a huge wave of rapes, but really there was only one case where that happened. The anti-asian sentiment made it easy to pass all kinds of brutal laws which were ostensibly designed to fight opium. For example, they passed a law saying that more than one person lying down in a room that wasn't a married couple was a crime. The theory was that they would use that to bust up the wildly exagerated wave of opium dens, but in reality the cops just used it to raid buildings asians lived in during the middle of the night and arrest them all because they didn't have enough money to have individual rooms.

There is always something like that. In the south it was the belief that black women couldn't help but rape white women, in chicago it was drugs, in new york it was citizenship and tax evasion claims, etc. I'm not saying the actual crimes shouldn't be dealt with, but they often get dramatically overhyped and the response ends up hurting far more people than those who are actually committing the crime. Arpaio's history demonstrates that pretty clearly I think.

AZ choices not to ignore it like CA and its sanctuary cities. Also not all states wish to be like California. So how is the 19Billion debt doing for you?
Hey, you have a sanctuary city too. Phoenix opted to be a sanctuary city.

But, I believe CA handles illegal immigration pretty well. AZ has 4% illegal immigrants and appears to be really struggling with the issue. We have 6% and it doesn't really cause us any problems. You wouldn't notice that there were a lot of illegal immigrants at all really. I'm not saying AZ needs to do everything like CA does, but IMO AZ would be wise to look at what has worked and what hasn't worked in CA with an open mind.

As for our debt, that doesn't have much anything to do with illegal immigration. Overall, illegal immigration is actually good for our economy. One of the only sectors that continued to perform really well through the recession was our huge fruit industry. That whole industry just couldn't exist without ultra low cost migrant labor. The profit margin is too narrow and it is too labor intensive.

The reason we have so much debt is twofold. First, we have an ultra volatile economy. We invested heavily in high tech business, biotech, pharma, entertainment, etc. When the economy as a whole is good, those sectors do awesome. When the economy as a whole is bad, they do terrible. So, recessions hit us harder, but so do booms. Remember that during the dot com boom we had, by far, the biggest budget surplus any state ever has. The same thing will happen during the next boom, so I'm not that worried.

But, the second reason for the budget crunch I am worried about. We have ballot propositions that are impossible for the legislature to overrule. That sounds really cool, but it's actually a really bad idea. Voters don't really research them much before they go to vote and some pretty lame ideas end up getting permenantly locked into law. Something like 80% of our budget is completely locked in and the legislature can't do anything about it, so we can't scale back spending during a recession really. For example, if somebody makes a proposition dictating that the state spend $1 million a year on a rail system, voters just think "hey, rail systems are cool, I vote yes", but then if somebody makes a proposition dictating that the state spend $1 billion a year, pretty much the same number of people vote for it... Voters just don't really appreciate the difference between a million and a billion...

But, anyways, I'm not trying to rag on AZ here. I'm looking for an open discussion of what AZ can learn from the experiences other areas have had dealing with major demographic changes. Is there anything that you've seen or read about happening elsewhere in the US in a situation like this that either worked or didn't work that you think AZ could copy or avoid?
 
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jamesrage

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Arizona has been undergoing a simply massive demographic change over the past 30 years or so.  [URL="http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/census/az.htm"]In late 70s only about 16% of the state was hispanic[/URL].  [URL="http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/04000.html"]Today 30% of the state is hispanic[/URL].  The hispanic population of the state has increased by about 1.2 million in the last 30 years.  The vast majority of whom are here legally.  That is a HUGE number of people for a state of just 6.5 million in total.

It is easy to look at how AZ is handling things recently with regards to hispanics (english only laws, racial profiliing, banning cultural studies courses, firing teachers for having hispanic accents, etc) and just denounce AZ as racist.  But, I think that is a pretty shallow way to look at it.  The truth is that adapting to a massive cultural change IS hard.  It's easy to sit in a state that either hasn't dealt with much demographic change in it's history, or in a state that dealt with it a long time ago and has already adapted, and judge, but the reality is that it really is not easy.  The truth is that most states that have had to deal with a big demographic change have had at least some phase of that process where they turned to some pretty racist policies before they finally came around to a better way.  Change is hard for people.  They're used to things being done one way and they feel like demographic change is forcing them to adapt out of their comfort zone.  Cultural paranoia sets in and people make all kinds of nasty assumptions about the new cultural group.  Communication across cultural and linguistic barriers is tough and leads to a lot of misunderstandings.  People scapegoat the new cultural group for problems they're experiencing.  And so on.

This isn't a new story, it has happened over and over and over in US history.  New York went through convulsions when the Irish and Italian immigrants came.  California passed all kinds of laws designed to harrass Asians when they first moved here in large numbers.  Chicago tried to segregate blacks into large, self contained, ghettos when the black population there shot up.  There are a dozen similar examples.

The good news is that in the long run, it always ends up as a positive thing.  Many of the most economically successful places in the country are also amongst the most diverse, but generally, they're places that have been highly diverse for a long time.  Making it over that hump from reacting to a recent demographic change to thriving on it is no easy thing.

So, I think we should talk about what lessons have been learned in US history about how to, and how not to, deal with that kind of demographic change.  We shouldn't keep repeating our mistakes, we should learn from them.  So, I'm interested to hear what people think.  Some lessons I think we've learned:

[B]You can't stop it.[/B]  Most states or cities that have experienced a massive demographic change have initially tried to prevent that change from happening, but it has never worked once in the whole history of the country.  The reasons people move to a new place run far deeper than anything that can really be controlled.  No amount of laws attempting to persecute a demographic group will outweigh those factors, it will just cause the whole process to involve a lot more suffering for everybody.

[B]Segregation just multiplies the problems.[/B]  Cities that have tried to keep the members of the new demographic group separate have universally come to regret that decision.  Concentrating the problems related to cultural adaptation just causes them to spiral.  Chicago is a great example of this.  They designed the whole freeway system around the premise that they would separate out large chunks of the city with few or no roads connecting them to the rest so that they would not "spill over" into the white areas.  The result was abject ghettos where the people living in them never really stood a chance of getting out of poverty and it caused the cultural conflict to linger for decades.

[B]Embracing diversity reduces conflict.[/B]  Cities and states that have fixated on assimilation- in the sense of the new group being expected to drop their culture and assume the culture of the group already there- have always just managed to increase the resentment between the cultures.  Understanding and appreciation of the other culture, in both directions, is the key to harmony, not oppression of one culture by another.  And, frankly, it is just a whole lot more interesting that way.  Diversity of all sorts is the spice of life.  Learning to appreciate that rather than to fear it is the way to go.

[B]Leverage the advantages of diversity.[/B]  This is one thing California does incredibly well.  California is incredibly diverse, and not just racially diverse, but we have a huge percentage of the population here that grew up in just about every country in the world.  Second only to New York in that regard.  And it has turned out to be a massive asset for us in the long run.  For example, tech companies thrive on being able to pull in the best talent from all around the world.  It is really tough for somebody to travel half way around the world to live somewhere for a job if there isn't anything they are familiar with there culturally.  California has a huge variety of Mexican, Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, middle eastern, South American, and African communities.  We have restaurants from all those communities everywhere in the state, we have bi-lingual schools covering dozens of languages, etc.  As a result, we've become the perfect place to locate a tech company.  You can recruit from anywhere in the world and the people you're recruiting will be comfortable here.  Not to mention, we have some of the best restaurants, art, music, etc, in the world because we're able to draw on such a wide range of cultural backgrounds.  Looking for ways like that to benefit from demographic change is a far superior way to deal with the change than trying to fight it.  Like they say, when the fool sees a wind coming he builds a wind block.  When the wise man sees a wind coming he builds a windmill.
So to be diverse we have to embrace illegal immigration,racist history classes and allow teachers whose accents are so thick students can't understand a thing they say?

You are aware that not ever person of Hispanic decent or any other race or ethnicity support illegal immigration and probably feel offended anytime pro-illegal degenerates lump them in with illegals or suggest that they think illegals should be allowed to skip ahead in the line. History classes shouldn't promote racism or race hatred and a student's need for education outweighs someone with a thick accent's desire to be a teacher. So please quit trying to paint Arizona and other states who deal with their problems as racist xenophobes. If anything California can learn from Arizona,Oklahoma and other states who know how to deal with illegal immigration and other problems.
 

mike2810

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Yes Phoenix tries to be a refuge city. Maricopa country LE pretty much makes it a mute point. Cities in AZ can't pass laws that is in conflict with State laws. MCSO enforces state laws within Phoenix.

Hb2881
Format Document

A. A school district or charter school in this state shall not include in its program of instruction any courses or classes that:
1. Promote the overthrow of the United States government.
2. Promote resentment toward a race or class of people.
3. Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.
4. Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.

So Tea, what is wrong with this? How is this racist?

I for one support english as our standard.
School districts in Arizona are under orders from the state's Department of Education to remove from classrooms teachers who speak English with a very heavy accent or whose speech is ungrammatical. Again, what is wrong with this concept?

Tea, you continue to ignore the fact that illegals broke federal law. You ignore the fact that in AZ alone more than 1000 cross the border illegally on a daily basis. The illegals are trashing our public and private lands.

IMO, many of the illegals have no desire to assimulate into American culture. This is changing American and not for the better. Some do and that is what gets shown on the news. If all illegals would embrace our standards there would be less tension.

Embracing diversity is not the issue. The issue is the illegals. If the illegal influx was reduce/eliminated, I would bet the need for some of the laws AZ is passing would be reduced also. Legal immigrants are welcome in Arizona. It is troublesome when people use diversity, PC as the main point of the case. If you don't agree with them, you must be a racist.

Bottom line, get a handle on illegal entry, reform and manage legal immigration to meet the needs of the US. Open borders and the influx of illegals only adds to the frustration and tension. People who immigrate need to accept our constitution, laws, and language.
 

teamosil

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So to be diverse we have to embrace illegal immigration
No.

racist history classes
Yes.

and allow teachers whose accents are so thick students can't understand a thing they say?
Yes.

;)

You are aware that not ever person of Hispanic decent or any other race or ethnicity support illegal immigration and probably feel offended anytime pro-illegal degenerates lump them in with illegals or suggest that they think illegals should be allowed to skip ahead in the line. History classes shouldn't promote racism or race hatred and a student's need for education outweighs someone with a thick accent's desire to be a teacher. So please quit trying to paint Arizona and other states who deal with their problems as racist xenophobes. If anything California can learn from Arizona,Oklahoma and other states who know how to deal with illegal immigration and other problems.
Well, the notion that cultural studies courses teach racism or hate is really not true. That is a very reactionary assumption that got a lot of spin in the media, but it isn't really true. Likewise, the teachers with hispanic accents. It's not really like people can't understand them. In fact, AZ did a big push like 10 years ago to hire teachers from Latin America to try to improve their ability to teach in both English and Spanish. That is pretty much universally recognized as being the best way to teach students English by the way- both languages rather than just English. If you teach somebody only in a language they don't understand before they're ready for it, they pretty much just start skipping school because they have no idea what it going on. Now they created a law to fire the very teachers they recruited for that purpose... Being open to cultural diversity does indeed mean learning to understand people with accents and not being afraid of cultural education.

As for the illegals, actually only 8% of hispanics in AZ support 1070, but the reason they oppose it is exactly what you describe- that they're being lumped in with illegal immigrants. That's what racial profiling is- lumping the innocent together with the guilty on the basis of race. And, unfortunately, tht is what Arpaio is up to.
 

teamosil

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Yes Phoenix tries to be a refuge city. Maricopa country LE pretty much makes it a mute point. Cities in AZ can't pass laws that is in conflict with State laws. MCSO enforces state laws within Phoenix.

Hb2881
Format Document

A. A school district or charter school in this state shall not include in its program of instruction any courses or classes that:
1. Promote the overthrow of the United States government.
2. Promote resentment toward a race or class of people.
3. Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.
4. Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.

So Tea, what is wrong with this? How is this racist?

I for one support english as our standard.
School districts in Arizona are under orders from the state's Department of Education to remove from classrooms teachers who speak English with a very heavy accent or whose speech is ungrammatical. Again, what is wrong with this concept?

Tea, you continue to ignore the fact that illegals broke federal law. You ignore the fact that in AZ alone more than 1000 cross the border illegally on a daily basis. The illegals are trashing our public and private lands.

IMO, many of the illegals have no desire to assimulate into American culture. This is changing American and not for the better. Some do and that is what gets shown on the news. If all illegals would embrace our standards there would be less tension.

Embracing diversity is not the issue. The issue is the illegals. If the illegal influx was reduce/eliminated, I would bet the need for some of the laws AZ is passing would be reduced also. Legal immigrants are welcome in Arizona. It is troublesome when people use diversity, PC as the main point of the case. If you don't agree with them, you must be a racist.

Bottom line, get a handle on illegal entry, reform and manage legal immigration to meet the needs of the US. Open borders and the influx of illegals only adds to the frustration and tension. People who immigrate need to accept our constitution, laws, and language.
I think I addressed those points in my reply above to jamesrage, but I have to run to catch a flight, so I haven't read it all the way. I'll look better this evening. But, question for you in the interim- are there any lessons that you think AZ could draw from the experiences of other areas in dealing with major demographic changes?
 

Chappy

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Arizona has been undergoing a simply massive demographic change over the past 30 years or so. …
I agree with you that Arizona is experiencing significant demographic changes that have contributed mightily to the latest legislative measures which taken together attempt to swing the cultural balance in one direction over another.

When I moved to Arizona in 1981, my home state of New York wouldn't have been the single largest contributor of population to the state if more Californians hadn't moved back home. Finding anything authentic Arizonan was hard then.

My sense is that Arizona is a state with an odd mixture of American Indians (e.g., Tohono O'Odham), a (very) few “old” families, Anglo and Hispanic and a whole, whole lot of recent arrivals. At this point a good many are the children of recent arrivals.

I believe that odd mixture exacerbates the conditions you identify, specifically because there's no indigenous culture to preserve anymore; it's all been transplanted from someplace else, mostly from the Mid-West. There is at present in Arizona a tug-of-war for identity.

But, the spark of the most recent legislative bonfire has been the collapse of the Arizona economy which depended substantially on providing for the next wave of arrivals. The legislature has to be seen as acting the interests of the people, but, starved of all resources, they are reduced to counter-productive, feel-good laws like carrying firearms in bars and rounding up the illegals. It's a kind of bout of legal insanity in the face of an impossible situation.

This too will pass. And Arizona will return to building its bright future based on a unique, rich shared cultural identity.
 

J.J.

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As for our debt, that doesn't have much anything to do with illegal immigration. Overall, illegal immigration is actually good for our economy. One of the only sectors that continued to perform really well through the recession was our huge fruit industry. That whole industry just couldn't exist without ultra low cost migrant labor. The profit margin is too narrow and it is too labor intensive.
One of the unpleasant realities that everyone seems to dance around is that most immigrants in the United States have not been imported for any clear economic reason. The majority are either family-reunification immigrants, refugees, or illegals. This is the crux of the problem. If America's immigration policy consisted of merely taking healthy, working-aged men from Mexico and sticking them directly in the apple orchard then there'd be much less of a problem, but that's not what actually happens. We just let all sorts of random people in in a very helter-skelter way, then hope the free market somehow takes care of everything. But of course it doesn't, and a lot of immigrants don't actually get up to much, and those folks can cause enough economic problems to completely offset any benefits brought in by the "good," working immigrants.

California obviously has a very generous welfare regime, and many unproductive immigrants take advantage of it. That's not to generalize and say they exclusively abuse the system, but their abuses are more uniquely destructive, since they wouldn't be occurring otherwise. If a state can't sustain its entitlement programs with its existing population, then it really makes little sense to import more people to make that population even bigger, especially if many of these new citizens will proceed to be net takers, rather than givers, within the tax system.
 
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