Mint.com, the free personal finance site, put up a weirdly strident anti-immigration post on its Mintlife blog on Wednesday. Turns out, it's not just tacky, it's poorly-sourced—down to a citation for the openly racist anti-immigration site VDare.com.
Timothy Lee, writing on Megan McArdle's blog at the Atlantic website, flagged the bizarre Mintlife post, which is credited to Ross Crooks. Why bizarre? Well, as Lee points out, it's odd that a service site like Mint would take such a stridently anti-immigration stance. But worse, the chart is flat-out wrong—and peculiarly sourced:
The most jarring name on this list is the openly racist vdare.com. The rest of the list is a mix of official government sources, non-profits, and blogs. The sources skew heavily in an anti-immigrant direction, although at least one is a pro-immigrant source (fiscalpolicy.org). While none of the other anti-immigrant sources is as offensive as vdare, few (if any) of them could be considered credible sources for statistics about immigration.
Lee goes on to run down the problems with the infographic's statistics—which are many. You can check out the post here.
Mint was bought by software makers Intuit—the company behind the Quicken finance software—last fall. It seems pretty unlikely that a big company like Intuit is looking to piss off costumers who (having paid attention in economics class) believe that immigration improves, rather than harms, a country's economy. So what happened here? Is Crooks an anti-immigrant true believer who got carried away, or just a guy who didn't know much about the issue and doesn't have a great eye for credible sources? Or is "immigration is bad" official Mint.com policy now? Any way you slice it, Mint doesn't look good.
Update: MintLife Editor Lee Sherman responded to us with an apology:
At MintLife, our mission is to give users and visitors the financial information they need to save and do more with their money. Topics range from personal finance advice, to analysis of macroeconomic trends and the fiscal impacts of news of the day. We publish content from a variety of contributors and sources, and the opinions expressed don't necessarily reflect those ofMint.com or of Intuit.
It's true that the tone is often provocative, seeking to engage readers in dialogue around important topics, but the recent blog post "The Economic Impact of Immigration" went too far, cited polarized sources and did not receive the editorial judgment and oversight it deserved.
We regret it. It is completely unacceptable and won't happen again. Our intention was not to further the agenda of any of the sources from which data was pulled, and the post has been removed.
- Lee Sherman, Editor of MintLife