It started when the depression began in 2008.
After the first decade, people lost hope it would end soon. The bailouts and government stimuli didn't turn the market around, nor did government's takeover of the financial sector, Michigan-based automobile companies, and fast-food restaurants west of the Mississippi make much difference. (Although the ads with Barack Obama guaranteeing you could "have fries with that" caused a brief resurgence in the stock market.) It all led to the government's fateful decision to monetize the debt.
After a few years, the country began running out of trees for paper. Congress wavered between reducing the speed with which the debt was monetized and allowing previously off-limit trees in federally protected forests to be used for the production of paper money. There were reasonable arguments on both sides, but the monetization crowd won in the end, leading to the great Federal Deforestation Program of 2013-16.
Despite all that, there was growing concern that something more must be done. It was around this time that Bangladesh suggested it might stop buying our debt. The politicians—some pushed by conviction, others by letter-writing campaigns originated by Fox News opinion-leaders—felt that the problem was illegal immigration. Obviously, there were too many people in the country. Illegal aliens either worked or they didn't. If they worked, removing them would free up more jobs for unemployed Americans (unemployment then hovered around 33 percent). If they were not working, removing them would free up governmental services (unemployment insurance, food-stamps, guaranteed mortgage payments, extended GM car warranties, all the usual suspects) for Americans who really deserved them.
Everyone agreed that legal immigration was good for our country. We were a nation of immigrants, after all. Politicians got choked up all along the Potomac shouting the praises of legal immigration—although the choking might have had something to do with the fumes from all the new paper plants needed to keep up with Treasury's demands.
Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, and the other Fox pundits had nothing but hosannas to sing about legal immigration. But, as they endlessly reminded viewers, we are a nation of laws. (So many laws that the Congressional Register stopped publishing them. Besides, the Treasury hoarded all the paper.) A nation of laws must enforce the law. Who could disagree?
In 2017, during the first term of President Michelle Obama, the bright boys in the Office of Management and Budget worked closely with the president's top economic advisors, Paul Krugman and Lou Dobbs, to calculate how many immigrants would have to go in order to free up sufficient government funding to take care of so-called real Americans. The answer turned out to be the last two generations of immigrants.
When presented with the stark numerical evidence—to say nothing of President Obama's eloquence on the subject—Congress overwhelmingly passed the Save the Endangered Americans Act of 2018, which defined Americans as those people whose grandparents were born in the United States. The rest were illegal immigrants; the law allowed no retroactive immunity. "No one should be grandfathered in, so to speak," said our first Madam President. She was certainly sad to see her husband, the former president, deported, since two of his grandparents were born in Kenya. "But we all have to sacrifice to improve America," she declared.
Fox News hailed the move, running hour-long specials on the worsening immigration crisis. Illegals, the pundits ominously declared, now numbered over 200 million. And like the Communists in the 1950s, they had infiltrated every aspect of the government. Bill O'Reilly denounced those who were destroying America from his remote feed in Ireland, since he, too, was forced to leave the United States.
Things ran smoothly after that. In an interview several years after leaving office, Michelle Obama explained that once the definition of an illegal immigrant was clearly defined, it became quite easy to solve America's economic problems. Hyperinflation ended because the few remaining Americans didn't need that many paper bills, especially with the population's new interest in barter. Government seizures of American businesses became less frequent as American businesses themselves became less frequent.
So the depression finally ended. The few remaining Americans—true Americans—became self-sufficient. People of other lands had little reason to want to emigrate here, so illegal immigration dried up. As Americans developed more rustic ways of cooking—usually with a pot on the hearth—all those Geithner dollars finally came in handy.
Ross Levatter is a writer in Arizona. This column first appeared at Reason.com.
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It started when the depression began in 2008.