Monday, June 05, 2006

Response to readers’ letters
A number of readers objected to my piece “The Promised Land” because it did not mention the foreign aid that Israel gets. Several readers also made reference to Jews and the Jewish state. As one writer put it, "only the Jewish state can afford such policies. It doesn't have to pay for them [because Israel gets foreign aid from the U.S.]." I hope no one really believes that Israel being Jewish is relevant. I hope that what this writer means is that only a state that gets generous foreign aid can afford to engage in Israel's Keynesian immigration policy. And this is simply not true.

The most widely used estimate for the number of illegal immigrants in this country is 12 million. The Bush tax that was enacted in 2001 decreased government revenues in 2004 (the last year for which the Brookings Institute provides the numbers) by $297 billion. If all of this money had instead been distributed to the U.S.'s illegal immigrants, each one of them would have ended up with $24,750 each. Since the loss in taxes is recurring, we could have paid our illegal immigrants this sum every year without noticing any diminution in money available for other government programs.

The concern of some readers with what "Rich Jews" can afford to do is a racist diversion that helps employers and hurts employees. The Jewish state can afford to engage in Keynesian economics. And so can the U.S. -- many times over.

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