City Journal Autumn 2014

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Autumn 2014
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Kay S. Hymowitz
Brooklyn’s Chinese Pioneers « Back to Story

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The Fujianese' intense efforts to learn adaptations to the new culture seem to separate them from the complacent, indigenous culture's preference for supplanting effort with entitlement.
The writer seems to paint an overly-rosy picture of adolescent behavior in Sunset Park. Isn't there a culture of gang violence, similar to that in Chinatown, both among rival Chinese-American gangs and Hispanic gangs ?
Andrea Ostrov Letania May 07, 2014 at 10:06 PM
"As of 2010, Asian Americans’ median household income was $66,000, the highest of any demographic group in the nation, according to the Pew Research Center."

Higher than that of Jews?
To those who think that any group who is here illegally somehow takes something away from a group who is here legally, I say b______t! Perhaps members of a group who are here illegally are taking benefits to which they're not entitled. But in the case of the Chinese outlined in this article, at least they're also working (and working "like dogs") to earn some semblance of a living for themselves and their children. What's more, they're making their children understand that education is THE most important thing a child can pursue. It's too bad that so many other Americans (and not just minorities but upper- and upper-middle-class, as well) don't instill this value into their children. And don't be so sure that the only thing educated Chinese-Americans will ever be any good at is working in government or other bureaucratic institutions. Even if these are the jobs they end up with, at least they'll be working--which is more than can be said for so many others in our welfare-state. If one is here illegally, so long as he or she is causing no trouble for anybody, then I don't see the problem. I'd rather have my tax dollars pay the "welfare benefits" of somebody who is also working to support a family than having those same tax dollars used to buy somebody else's flat screen televisions and other luxury items that even I can't afford to purchase. Workfare beats welfare anytime, even if the workfare recipient is here illegally. The only group hurt by this practice is the Democratic party, as it doesn't appeal to workfare recipients. To this I say, good.
Another saying of the Chinese, in a positive spirit, is this one: "if a person is committed to do something, he or she will find one thousand ways to do it. But if he or she is reluctant to do it, they will find one thousand excuses for not wanting to do it."
Hymowitz's report of these migrants' predicament sounds very much like that you would often hear about other Chinese families of the Chinese Diaspora that took place eg. in SE Asia, which began early in the 20th Century. The "rejects" of China (mainly from the lower hierarchy of Chinese society) left the troubled mainland in precarious sardine-packed ships to come to the then barely developed lands of Singapore, Malaysia etc. often taking along with them the barest minimum. Simon Schama describes in one of his books (The American Future, I think)the plight of the immigrants from China who came to the US to work the fledgling railroads and such, putting up with various kinds of abuse and hardships in a foreign land, a situation not dissimilar to those who came to SE Asia to work the tin mines, construction industry etc. After a hard day's work, sipping their Puerh cha and nibbling their tau sar paus (steamed red bean buns)at night in poorly lit homes, they would dream that the next generation would get the education denied them and become doctors, engineers, lawyers and so forth.It is said that the Chinese -- at any rate, those uninfluenced by the egalitarianism of socialist ideals or affirmative-action type policies -- thrive on adversity ie. the more adverse the circumstances, the more that they would rise to the occasion and regard them less as obstacles to moan about, than as challenges. There is an axiom here that goes "give a chinaman a rock, and he will grow a plant from it." I hope that the prep classes you mentioned, now that they have more Asians, will act as a spur to the Hispanics and Afro-Americans students there to achieve academically like the former often do. I remember my wife (who is from a non-sino race)telling me this story. Her very smart sister who,like her,had her education in a racially mixed mission school here in the 60's, would often say to her "we must study hard and beat the Chinese.... why must they always be above all of us,(academically, that is)?"











@Steve - they are low income and that $50k is a debt that they have to pay off.

@Tina - good points. Many of the asian illegals work off the books in asian businesses which are not ones that are likely to hire native born Americans, particularly black and latino. The bigger issue is that these businesses skirt legal requirements like insurance, workers comp, taxes. Studies have shown that 50% of all small businesses, not just immigrant owned, evade taxes to some extent. Frankly, when immigrants from corrupt countries come to the US, it's highly unlikely that they would become instant honest taxpayers. Part of the welfare reform, enacted in 1996, was due to Chinese immigrants who were immediately putting their parents on SSI even though they promised to sponsor them. There are good reasons for asians to be Republicans but their support for big govt negates that.
people who can pay $50,000 to smugglers are NOT poor.
If, by some estimates, 50% of these immigrants are here illegally yet "some" access welfare (all access many forms of publicly-funded resources, actually), then a substantial percentage of their success comes from stealing from other families in New York State and the nation at large. EITC alone would give a family with three children that $5000 cited for test prep. That comes out of our pockets. Meanwhile, honest, legal, taxpaying working class and middle class families are priced out of New York City -- and many other places.

Who is employing these illegal immigrants? Do you really believe their employers are accurately registering their hours and withholdings? We pay for the courts that process their status and hearings, the city workers who are supposed to be enforcing safety and living regulations, the schools and bilingual teachers and food stamps and poverty programs and, especially, all of their medical care -- all of it.

And other poor, legal communities pay by not having access to the jobs illegal immigrants take. And legal, poor workers pay with lowered wages.

This sort of whole-scale theft and fraud merits more than passing mention. And why are we even bothering to pay university professors to study such things if we're not going to do anything about them?
There is a phrase in one of the works of Shakespeare, "nothing comes from nothing". You article shows how, if you work hard, sacrifice and don't expect handouts you can succeed. I grew up in an Italian neighborhood in the Bronx. But fortunately I had Jewish friends who showed me the value of education!
I find it sad that while this country offers somewhat "free" education to every child, some groups ignore, waste or are contemptuous of this "gift". All the power to the groups that take advantage of what this country can offer in education. May they supplant all the politicians that use "handouts" to buy votes!
This is exactly the type of social mobility that the Democrats make it their mission to suppress. "Two Cities" is their goal -- with a wide unbridgeable moat between them.

Since the 1790s, the Democratic message to immigrants has been -- the machine will look out for you, the bureaucracy will feed your kids. You don't have to do anything, just stay where you are and vote for us.

But the Chinese invented bureaucracy, and they know how to make use of our version. They take all the benefits on offer, but don't let them interfere with their own work and advancement. Maybe they'll vote for the machine candidate, but not if it means missing an hour of work. Eventually, in due course, their children will pass exams, collect diplomas, and join the bureaucracy themselves.

And wonder why the following generation wants nothing more than to be hipster drug addicts.
QUOTE: The Chinese family, including husband and wife, is better seen as a working partnership, bound together by mutual necessity and some deep, generationally transmitted sense of loyalty and duty. There are probably very few “soul mates” in Brooklyn’s Chinatown. But lots of the kids of these families are graduating from high school and college.

I think the writer has missed the essential hub of this dynamic. Note that the families are not preparing their children for business, as 19th century immigrants did. They are preparing them for schools and exams, ultimately the Civil Service exam. In China historically that was the only respectable avenue to social mobility. In America since the opening of the Progressive era (Progressive is the American word for Fascist), it is becoming the same way here. No one with any sense goes to school to advance in real business -- they just go out and do business. Young people take exams and collect diplomas to advance in the interlocking bureaucracies of Governments and Corporations. We are becoming more and more like classical China -- and not in a good way. Advancement in bureaucracy is not success by any but statistical measure. All it costs for that title and that pension is one's soul.