Tag Archives: Immigration

Imaginary Numbers for Imaginary Growth

I’m sorry but it’s time to type out, yet once more, how we calculate the annual growth rate for the real GDP, and no, there’s no imaginary quarterly or annualized growth rate for the real GDP.  Now that we’ve reviewed, the financial inanity of the current administration is highlighted by policies which are in direct variance with the stated goal of increased economic growth of 3%.

There are two numbers we absolutely need in order to have economic growth: Labor force increases; and, Labor Productivity increases.  The labor force is obvious, how many people of working age are in the workforce. Productivity pertains to how much can be produced by those workers.  For more information see this article from the St. Louis FED.  Suffice it to say that if the labor force growth is 0.5% and the productivity growth rate is o.5% then the economic growth rate will be 1%.

There are a couple of bits of Reality we need to introduce at this point in time: (1) The baby boom is over. (2) We are poised to severely limit our immigration.

As of 2015, the number of baby boomers ranges from 74.9 million to 82.3 million, depending on whether the generation begins with the birth year 1943 or 1946.” [CNN] No matter which year one assumes for the beginning, it was over by 1964-65.  Growth in the labor force has not, and may rationally not, increase at levels seen when the Boomers hit the job market. And, now they are exiting.  Those born in 1965 are now 52, with about 13 years left before retirement; those born during or before 1952 are presumably retired already. So, what is happening now?

“The US fertility rate has been in a steady decline since the post-World War II baby boom. Back at its height in 1957, the fertility rate was 122.9 births per 1,000 women. The latest quarterly CDC data also indicate the larger pattern of women having babies later in life. As birth rates increased among women in their 30s and 40s, the rate among teenagers and women in their 20s dropped.” [CNN]
The current rate is 59.8. There are factors associated with lower birth rates; for example, in developed nations urbanization is a factor — children aren’t a major need for their work in agricultural pursuits.  Another factor is the cost of raising the children, it’s more expensive to raise children in a developed country where those children don’t enter the labor force until they are in their late teens or twenties.  Further, the urbanization trend continues apace in the US. [Census] [Slate] More urbanization, more education, and we can’t reasonable expect a repetition of the Boom in the foreseeable future.
So, if we aren’t increasing our labor force via the old birth-rate route, then the other way is immigration, and this warning from the Los Angeles Times:

“Trump in his first weeks in office has launched the most dramatic effort in decades to reduce the country’s foreign-born population and set in motion what could become a generational shift in the ethnic makeup of the U.S. Trump and top aides have become increasingly public about their underlying pursuit, pointing to Europe as an example of what they believe is a dangerous path that Western nations have taken. Trump believes European governments have foolishly allowed Muslims with extreme views to settle in their countries, sowing seeds for unrest and recruitment by terrorist groups.”

This seems a polite way to say that the Trump administration would like very much to limit immigration to white Western Europeans. If we don’t allow immigration from Mexico and Central American nations, and we severely limit immigration from predominantly Muslim nations, then what’s left?

And, in terms of increasing the labor force, here’s where the policy and the reality clash. If we want an increase in the birth rate in order to increase our labor force, then the women having those babies are more likely to be foreign born immigrants to the US. [Pew]  We don’t get to have it both ways — limiting immigration both limits the number of people available for immediate employment, and the number of little people who will grow up to be a portion of our labor force. Once more with feeling, if we limit immigration we necessarily limit our economic growth.

One of the amazing things about conservative/trumpism ideology is the notion that elements diametrically opposed to one another may somehow be massaged by empty rhetoric into actuality.  Somehow, we are supposed to believe that we can have 3% economic growth while limiting our immigration unrealistically, and while continuing the urbanization of the country. Only in the fever swamp of right wing ethnocentric white supremacist thinking is this going to “happen.” And, the happen part is in quotation marks because this is Neverland.

So, no — we don’t get the deficit reduced by cutting taxes on corporations, millionaires, and billionaires. No, we don’t get a balanced budget by cutting non-defense discretionary spending, and NO we don’t get 3% economic growth by unrealistically impeding immigration.  2 + 2 does not equal 7.

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Reasons to Write and Call: Horrible House Bills and other Monday

The House Republicans keep coming up with yet more reasons to put their phone numbers on speed dial, a brief list:

HR 370 — A bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, sponsored by Rep. Bill Flores (TX17) bill sent to committee January 9, 2017. Flores’ district includes Waco and College Station.

HR 354 — A bill to defund Planned Parenthood, sponsored by Rep. Diane Black (TN6), a district covering north central Tennessee.

HR 147 — A bill to criminalize abortion, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks, (AZ8), northern suburbs of Maricopa County.

Then there are HR 861 to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency and HR 610 to voucherize public education. Add HR 899 to eliminate the Department of Education, and HR 785 to enact a “right to work” act at the national level.


Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA22) chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence is now officially the water-carrier for the Trumpster administration telling the press that his committee will investigate the unsubstantiated tweet rant concerning the Obama Administration authorizing a tap (that’s tap with one p) on Trump Tower.  This appears to be a somewhat desperate attempt to validate a right wing conspiracy theory seeking to legitimize the twitterer in chief, and play “You Did It Too.”  The problem with this ‘investigation’ is that (1) there was no There There; and, (2) if there was a tap (with one p) there must have been a reason presented to a FISA court, and that might not be something Agent Orange wants out in public view?  This is yet another reason for an independent commission.


Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) wanted us to know that as of February 15, 2017 his faith in the president is not lessened by reports of administration connections with Russia. This would presumably include the purchase of Russian steel to construct the Keystone Pipeline?  The president’s comments about ‘Buy American’ are now not supposed to be pertinent to purchases contracted before he told the public (twice) that American steel would be used… Then there’s the explanation from the White House that “the steel is there it would be hard to go back (on the contracts).” This would be fine if it weren’t that there are pictures of the first shipment of Russian steel being unloaded at the Paulsboro, New Jersey dock on March 3, 2017.


Meanwhile the empowered white supremacists are using the moments since November 2016 to increase their recruiting on college campuses according to the ADL.

“White supremacists have consciously made the decision to focus their recruitment efforts on students and have in some cases openly boasted of efforts to establish a physical presence on campus,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “While there have been recruitment efforts in the past, never have we seen anti-Semites and white supremacists so focused on outreach to students on campus.”

And the attacks on Sikh Americans continue.


Recommended reading:

“ICE isn’t just detaining ‘bad hombres’ they’re scooping up everyone in their path,” Vox March 3, 2017.

“White House wants it both ways on travel ban,” Politico March 6, 2017.

 

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Monday Morning and The Press

There are several things of note this morning, probably the least important of which is the Blunder at the Oscars, although that’s one of the more entertaining.  Added to this is the current administration’s rather bombastic squabble with the press, however, this too is of more interest to the media itself than an actual matter of national interest.  In fact, some of the best political reporting is that which is done outside the confines of news conference spin sessions.   For example, in 1902-03 Ida Tarbell didn’t need to attend press conferences to expose the machinations of John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil. Nor did Upton Sinclair need a gaggle to write about the meatpacking industry in 1906.  In 1953 reporter Murrey Marder followed the serpentine trail of Senator Joe McCarthy and helped expose the duplicity of the Senator’s charges against the Army. Surely, the administration wasn’t applauding David Halberstam’s coverage of the war in Vietnam. Woodward and Bernstein weren’t following White House press gaggle threads to uncover the Watergate story, nor was Dana Priest relying on press releases about black sites in eastern European countries, or when she revealed conditions at Walter Reed Hospital.

In short, some of the very best reporting has resulted from investigations outside the walls of various and sundry executive offices.  There are stories still unfolding which may have an extraordinary effect on American politics and governance, and the information essential to their explication won’t come from anyone’s gaggle, no matter who is invited.

Suggestions?

#1. The Trump Russian connections.  As the Boston Globe opined:

“The issues raised by Trump’s Russia connection are some of the most serious that this country has ever confronted. We could have a president who is vulnerable to blackmail from Moscow and even worse, one who has committed treasonous offenses. As long as these questions go unanswered there will be a permanent black cloud over the White House — and the country.”

We could have a president subject to blackmail? We could have a president whose financial ties to Russian interests impact his decision making? We could have an administration so entangled with Russian financial and political entities that we have allowed an infringement on our own sovereignty?  Investigative journalism is necessary if we are to avoid that “permanent black cloud.”

#2. The rise of white nationalism/supremacism and the nature of Antisemitic acts and the assaults on Muslims and their mosques. If anything tears at the fabric of American civic life it’s the demonization of ethnic and religious minorities, and the tacit support for the demeaning and desecration of religious institutions.  No, the conservative white Christian establishment is not under “attack.” However, synagogues, mosques, and cemeteries  definitely and physically are.  Does the current administration bear some responsibility for emboldening the hateful people who commit these acts?  What steps must the federal government take to discredit and diminish the organizations which seek to perpetrate them?  We know a great deal about the membership, publications, and activities of these organizations, however we’re missing more essential writing on the impact these groups have in terms of radicalizing white nationalists. What motivated the current administration to shift law enforcement focus away from domestic terrorists and pay almost exclusive attention to foreign sources?  We may think we know the answers, but more reporting would be extremely useful.

#3. The impact of anti-immigrant fervor on American economic growth.  As noted in a previous post, the anti-immigrant plus anti-Muslim posture of the current administration could have significant effects on the tourism, agriculture, housing, and food service sectors. It’s going to take some research and analysis from business reporters to fully understand the impact of this posture on our economy.

#4. The assault on the institutions of democracy by those who promote vote suppression and gerrymandering.  Again, we have had more than enough examples of the blatant attempts to restrict the Right To Vote. The story is NOT about vote fraud, it’s about the fraudulent attempts to prevent people from voting.  The story is about a nationwide attempt, to deliberately freeze out qualified voters, eliminate them from the rolls, and prevent them from voting in convenient polling places, by a national political party and its myrmidons.

I need to immediately acknowledge that my list may not be everyone else’s list, and that I’ve left out topics like women’s reproductive health issues, health care access. and climate change, but there’s always room for MORE investigative journalism and more topics of national and international interest. Indeed, investigative journalists could turn the “tennis ball machine” back on the White House, and give the Oval Office a daily dose of its own distraction.  After all, a good offense is often a good defense.  Every session in which the administration has to justify its ties to Putin, has to explain the rise of white supremacists, has to speak to the economic impact of anti-immigrant policies, has to find ways to excuse vote suppression, is a session in which it has less opportunity to promote the Trickle Down Hoax and its embrace of Wall Street.  For that matter, why not add in more reporting about the administration’s efforts to promote Wall Street interests at the expense of Main Street?

Politics is, indeed, a contact sport and the sooner this administration finds out the truth of that old saw the better.

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Filed under Economy, financial regulation, Immigration, Islam, Nativism, Politics, racism, Republicans, Vote Suppression

Profound Cruelty and Indiscriminate Enforcement

If the President meant what he said, “The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise,” the president wrote. “Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!” that is one thing, and few would be opposed to the practices. It’s the “and others” portion that is causing problems.

How does one explain entrapping a 50 year old undocumented house painter in an ICE raid?  Hardly one of those ‘bad hombres’ of Republican terrors.  Or, “one hardworking father, heading to work at 5:30 in the morning was approached by two plainclothes officers asking for his ID and they showed him a few pictures of people they were looking for. Once he gave him his ID, they identified themselves as ICE, he was detained and arrested.” [BBB]

And now this, the administration would deport the father of a young woman who gave her life in the service of this country; she gave her life in Kuwait as a member of the National Guard in 2007. Not that Gold Star Families have gotten much respect from the President lately.  But wait, there’s more:

“This week, this administration rescinded the Parole in Place program, harming thousands of military families across the country. This is another example of the careless excess of the administration’s immigration policy.” [NYT]

Yes, family members of our military personnel, who are not documented, can be rounded up and deported.  Those people to whom the Republicans are always saying “Thank you for your service…” now face the prospect that members of their own families can be caught up in an ICE raid and deported. This doesn’t sound like a morale builder, and if memory serves Republicans have been particularly interested in preserving morale.

All the while the President pugnaciously tells us this enforcement is for our own good – to keep us safe – from the people who are specifically tasked with keeping us safe?

All this for the benefit of the crowds who chanted Build The Wall, all this for the benefit of looking like his administration has a rational plan for dealing with complex immigration issues. 

Time was when executive orders and departmental guidelines were strictly reviewed to present guidance as free from complications and litigation as possible, but with this administration the pattern appears to be shoot first and try to answer all the questions later.

And there will be questions, and there will be litigation, and there will be pain created by profound cruelty and indiscriminate enforcement.

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Unpleasant Questions about Unpleasant Subjects

The Senate investigators of Trumpster ties to the Putin regime have called for the retention of all relevant documents and communications. However, the body count of Russians associated with the dossier, and diplomacy with the US, seems to be escalating, beginning with the January death of Oleg Erovinkin. Perhaps we should be investigating before too many more Russian officials bite the dust?

How about a bit more emphasis on fighting anti-Semitism? It’s also hitting too close to home:

“A student says to another, “We need to send you to the oven so you can be with your people,” a man engraves a swastika onto a marble column in front of a synagogue and trespassing teenagers yell anti-Semitic epithets at children at a Hebrew academy.

Those are some of the many anti-Semitic incidents recently reported in the Las Vegas Valley, part of an uptick in cases logged across the country in the past year, said Jolie Brislin, Nevada regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. The rhetoric and threats have intensified in the past months, she added.”

While the President may be appalled at these incidents, and has recently spoken about the problem, this doesn’t negate the fact that some of his core supporters feel that his elevation excuses their anti-social, biased, and belligerent behavior.  They’ve taken his “tell it like it is” and “no more political correctness” approach to mean they have license to spew hate and act out their white nationalist-supremacist feelings.  Perhaps we should be investigating the rise of domestic hate groups? Oh, wait, the Justice Department will now be focusing on radical Islamicist foreign inspired terrorists…

And the Mexicans will pay for it…only in this instance it’s the administration policy to deport undocumented non-Mexican immigrants and asylum seekers to Mexico. [The Hill] “Elements still need to be worked out in detail…” and how, pray tell, are we supposed to work out these details when the administration is busy demonizing Mexicans and their government?

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Filed under Mexico, Nevada news, Politics, racism, Republicans

O Mexico

Mexico is one of the top US trade partners. Its president has just cancelled a trip to Washington.  This has implications.  Remember that major US corporations have primary, secondary, and tertiary economic interests in that nation.  While the anti-immigrant rhetoric may warm the hearts of Republican party voters, policies which diminish those trade relations have serious consequences for our own economy.

Re-negotiating NAFTA will be a complicated process, scrapping it would allow the Mexican government to restrict primary activities (mining, agriculture), impose restraints on secondary elements such as trucking and transportation, and inhibit retail operations like those of Walmart. This is not to argue that there are elements of the trade agreement which couldn’t do with some reform – labor rights, environmental protections, etc. – but that blanket proclamations and nativist  rhetoric are dangerous insertions into the debate.

And, yes, it’s not going to be a wall, it’ll be a fence; and the Mexican government isn’t going to pay for it, US taxpayers will be footing the bill, no matter how Republicans try to manipulate the arithmetic.

There is another, more amorphous, concept to contemplate regarding the current administration’s posture on our relationship with our southern neighbors.

There appears to be a very uncomfortable level of commentary regarding Mexicans. Mexicans are taking American jobs? Mexicans are flooding over our borders? Mexicans are criminals? All of these statements are demonstrably false, but that may not matter.

It’s refreshing to note that there is an increased interest in the work of Hannah Arendt, especially “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” in which she describes the process by which a nation devolves into the abyss.  The process requires suspension of belief in facts and the adoption of prophecy.  If the economy becomes weakened it will be because Mexicans are taking away American jobs. If the institutions of American democracy are crumbling it must be because Mexicans are voting illegally in American elections. If crime rates are up (which they are not) it must be because of criminal behavior by Mexican immigrants.

The process also requires conflation. There are eerie reminders of Leonardo Conti’s notion that a “half Jew must be treated like a full Jew.” Are second and third generation Mexican-American citizens to be classified as less than full citizens?  Why is the current administration seeking daily lists of crimes alleged to have been perpetrated by immigrants?  Does this register with our consciences as being just a bit too similar to the inquiries of the Nazi’s Institute for Study of the Jewish Question?”

What are the consequences of associating Mexican, and all other Central American immigrants, with corruption and crime? What might be a consequence of identification of all Hispanic individuals as immigrants rather than as second or later generation citizens?

Does this mindset make it easier to adopt patently racist voting rights restrictions in the name of “election integrity?” Does this make easing regulations concerning workplace and job discrimination more acceptable in the name of “America First,” a slogan associated with the pro-nazis of the 1940s? Does this atmosphere create an environment where being tough on crime means being rough on members of our Hispanic population?

The president of Mexico is right to cancel his trip.  The current administration is not speaking to how things are (there was no significant voting fraud) (more manufacturing jobs have been lost to robots than other people) but to paint a picture of an authoritarian government staunchly defending our “integrity and values” until we don’t have any left.

Should the administration continue this route the wall, as some pundits are saying, may well serve to keep Americans in, rather than to keep Mexicans out.

Now, go to your favorite book store and get some Orwell and Arendt.

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My List

Monday morning the need for accountability becomes paramount.  There are some issues which require continuous investigation and reporting, my list:

  • The efforts of the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election. Investigations have been launched, some ongoing since last summer.  Efforts to curtail or stall these investigations could easily be characterized as evidence substantiating the charges.
  • The efforts of Tom Price as a cabinet member to implement the elements of his Empowering Patients First Act, which would send the health insurance system back to the days of junk insurance and perhaps worse should the corporations be allowed to bypass state consumer protection systems.
  • The unholy alliance of Pruitt, Perry, et.al. to deconstruct environmental protection in favor of protecting the interests of exploiters and polluters.
  • The efforts to suppress voting and civil rights.
  • The privatization of public education, and coordinated efforts to use public funds to support religious efforts.
  • The tendency to demonize members of minority/ethnic communities.

That should keep journalists busy for a while?

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