Friday, June 18, 2010 goes confusingly anti-immigration, cites racist source

Because femonomics has endorsed the use of previously, and many of our readers and writers are probably users, I felt it was important to bring this to your attention: has recently posted a blatantly anti-immigration infographic on their company blog, citing dubious statistics and one openly racist source.  To recap, Mint is a personal finance site that allows you to track your expenditures and your net worth.  It has absolutely nothing to do with immigration policy, overall fiscal policy, or macroeconomic issues, and has previously been silent on these issues.

Timothy Lee writing for the Atlantic was the first to point out this bizarre turn of events, and helps to debunk some of the statistics cited by Mint, starting with questioning their sources:
The most jarring name on this list is the openly racist 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 ( 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.
Given its sources, it's not surprising that the chart is riddled with implausible statistics. The most obvious whoppers are the claims that "about 43% of all Food Stamps issued in the United States are to illegal aliens," and "about 41% of all unemployment checks issued in the United States are to illegal aliens." Mint doesn't give specific citations, but these claims appear to come from this article at "Charlotte Conservative News," which itself does not cite any sources. Given that the law doesn't allow undocumented immigrants to collect unemployment benefits, this claim doesn't pass the straight face test. As for food stamps, I'm not able to find recent statistics, but a 1995 study found that undocumented immigrants with citizen children received about 2 percent of all food stamp benefits. The population of undocumented immigrants has increased in the last 15 years, but it hasn't increased by a factor of 20.
Another dubious claim is that undocumented immigrants cost Arizona taxpayers $2.7 billion, which would be roughly a quarter of Arizona's $10 billion budget. The post doesn't give a specific citation, so it's hard to fact-check it, but that figure seems implausibly high given that undocumented immigrants constitute less than 10 percent of the population.
The graphic doesn't even pretend to be a balanced look at the immigration debate. It doesn't estimate the amount immigrants pay in taxes. It doesn't discuss the number of businesses started by immigrants or the number of jobs they have created. It doesn't mention the crucial role that immigrants play in our high-tech industries. It doesn't show the ever-escalating costs of enforcing our draconian immigration laws.
Personally, if I can't trust a company to do good research and engage in public policy cautiously, I can't trust it with the logins to all my accounts, which is what a Mint membership usually entails.  Until this is straightened out, Mint users out there might want to consider revoking the company's access to your data.
[via Gawker]
Update: full image below jump, in case Mint takes down the link. 
Update 2: Mint has removed the site and apologized.  Statement from MintLife blog editor Lee Sherman in comments


  1. I think just took the page down! I read it this morning and was in the middle of posting an angry, I'm-an-immigrant-and-you-just-lost-a-customer comment. When I clicked on "Post" the blog entry was gone. The blog's Tweets About Us feature is filled with other upset customers who also removed their accounts.

    So hopefully got the message. Now I'm just hoping for an apology and an explanation.

  2. So as of right now I can still access the infographic via this link, but you're right, when I try to click comments or get to it from the main page, it's not there. I think they know something is wrong, but haven't pulled all the links yet. I certainly hope they'll apologize ASAP. Just in case they try to get rid of the image, I'm uploading a copy here so everyone can see how awful it really is.

  3. 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 of 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

  4. I appreciate that you recognize posting this item was wrong, but I hope you understand just how far it went. The infographic implicitly questioned the human worth of an entire segment of the US population, putting their entire existence in terms of "what does this mean for you," the presumably non-immigrant person reading it. This is not a matter of being "provocative," as no dissenting evidence was offered, nor was a forum for debate explicitly initiated. Instead, you threw one group of people under the bus for what you thought would be the approving response of another group.

    My question, to you, as a potential customer is that if you are not able as a company to properly vet and control the content of your blog, how can we trust you to responsibly manage user names and passwords, which you ask your customers to trust you with?

  5. While I agree the blog post was thoughtless, and the lack of oversight shocking (like seriously, INTU - you don't have a PR guy in charge of this crap preemptively?!?!), it doesn't rise to the level of something that would undermine my trust as a consumer. If you look critically at corporate America and large multi-nationals, it becomes difficult to consume much with trust. Some of the behavior of the meat packing and large scale ag industries, for example, or even energy (we're looking at you BP) is much more disturbing to my consumer self.

    What I think happened with the lack of oversight was this: Mint was only recently acquired by Intuit, before which it was a much smaller startup with what I imagine was not a very corporate culture. Quite frankly, a offensive blog post has amateur written all over it - I follow this industry and the blogs are consistently BORING and non-controversial (see PayPal's blog). I am 99.5% certain nothing like this will ever happen again with Mint, as surely the Intuit PR department has taken over permanently since this morning.


Commenting is now open, but we'd love it if you chose one username so other commenters can get to know you. To do this, select "Name/URL" in the "Comment as" drop down. Put the name you'd like others to see; the URL is optional.

Any profanity, bigotry, or synonyms for "[ ] sucks!" will be deleted. We welcome criticism as long as you're making a point!