Trump vs. Biden on Immigration

July 22, 2020

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-immigration-factbox/factbox-trump-and-biden-take-sharply-different-paths-on-immigration-idUSKCN24L122

The above-linked article is a comparison of Biden’s positions on immigration and Trump’s position and record on the same issue.  The article has a pro-Biden bias, casting his positions as having compassion for immigrants, while casting Trump’s positions as being more heartless and cruel.  Putting aside that bias, however, the comparison is relatively accurate.

Before going further, for the benefit of those new to this web site, my purpose is to bring attention to an economic consequence of population growth that has escaped economists because of their refusal to even consider the subject.  Simply put, beyond some optimum population density, further population growth begins to erode per capita consumption and, with it, employment.  While the macro economy continues to grow, it doesn’t grow at the same pace as the population.  The result is a bigger pie, but smaller slices for everyone.  Incrementally worsening poverty is the inescapable result.

With that said, let’s now talk about immigration.  Many claims are made about the supposed benefits of immigration and why it should continue.  It’s often said that immigrants are the engine of our economy, that they account for 25% of all new business start-ups, for example.  Just in the last few days, I heard it said that 19% of all long-haul truck drivers in America are immigrants.  Immigrants are doctors, engineers, scientists, professors, and so on.  At the other end of the scale, immigrants pick our crops, clean our hotel rooms, and do all of the other jobs that Americans seem loathe to do.

Regarding that last point, there’s some element of truth.  Few Americans work those jobs, but is it because they don’t like to work hard, or is it because the pay is too low?  I’d argue that many American workers would eagerly leave minimum wage jobs to do those other jobs if they paid more.  The wages are low because of the unlimited supply of immigrants who see those wages as a huge step up from what they can aspire to in their own countries.

As for those other workers – the entrepreneurs, the professional people, the long-haul truckers and skilled tradesmen, it’s true that a significant percentage are immigrants, but that’s only because a significant percentage of the population is immigrants.  They’re no more likely to fill those roles than native-born Americans.  Immigrants don’t possess any unique skills or powers to boost the economy.  They’re just people, and they want the same thing that all people want – to make a living and provide for their families.

Another claim often made is that America is enriched by the diversity that immigration provides.  Diversity, it is said, is a source of strength for our economy.  America is enriched by people with different backgrounds and different perspectives.

It can’t be argued that it isn’t interesting to learn about different cultures.  But the claim that diversity is a source of economic strength?  Baloney.  That’s a myth, invented and perpetuated by those who stand to benefit from never-ending population growth.  Who are they?  Corporations.  More people equate to more total sales and a bigger bottom line, while all of the negative consequences of population growth be damned.  Don’t believe me?  Go to the CIA World Fact Book web site and bring up a list of countries ranked by GDP per capita.  You’ll find the top of the list dominated by countries practically devoid of diversity.  Ranking high on the list is Ireland, a nation with virtually no diversity but, in terms of trade balance per capita, kicks America’s ass in trade far worse than any other country.  Diversity has nothing to do with economic prowess.

In the final analysis, the ONLY effect of immigration is to grow the population.  Growing the population makes sense only if you believe that we need more people – bigger and more crowded cities, more traffic, more demand on resources, more carbon emitters,  more trash in the landfills, and so on.  Worst of all, if you believe in the premise of this web site – that a growing population will doom the U.S. to worsening poverty by eroding per capita consumption – further population growth is tantamount to slow-motion economic suicide.

Joe Biden is an advocate for more immigration and, thus, more rapid population growth.  That position isn’t surprising and it’s not something unique to Democrats.  Virtually every Republican takes the same stance, though they tend to pay more lip service to opposing illegal immigration.  Both parties are in agreement on immigration.  Why?  Because that’s the stance that their corporate benefactors pay them to take.

Only very recently have some environmentalists begun to awaken to the fact that they’ve been hoodwinked by the faux-environmentalists who would have you believe that the planet can be saved from the vast array of negative consequences of worsening over-population through technological gimmicks like cutting carbon emissions, paving the way for more “sustainable development,” a corporate euphemism for more population growth.  In light of this awakening, policies that promote population growth may soon seem out-of-step with the reality of the challenges that confront this planet.

Trump is unique in being opposed to both legal and illegal immigration alike.  If we can believe him, his motivation is his belief that immigrants hold down wages and take jobs from American workers.  Is there an element of racism?  He denies it.

I wish Trump were a more likable person – more eloquent, more compassionate, less hot-tempered, a better role model.  Would I vote for Biden over Trump if Biden took a hard line on immigration like Trump?  You bet, especially if he also favored restoring a balance of trade through the use of tariffs, as Trump does.  If there were no differences in their positions on these two critical issues, I’d vote for Biden in a heartbeat.  But that’s not the case.

 

 


Obama Raises Jobs Target

December 22, 2008

http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSTRE4BK1F520081221

Earlier this month, when Obama announced his jobs creation program, I asked, “Is that all there is?”  (See “Obama Jobs Plan: Please Tell Us There’s More.)  Well, it seems that the Obama team has already recognized that it’s inadequate, raising the target from 2-1/2 to 3 million jobs.  In addition, he’s created a task force focused on helping the middle class. 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President-elect Barack Obama unveiled a new task force on Sunday charged with helping struggling working families, as an aide said Obama’s economic recovery plan would be expanded to try to save 3 million jobs.

The White House Task Force on Working Families, to be headed by Vice President-elect Joe Biden, would aim to boost education and training and protect incomes and retirement security of middle-class and working families whose plight Obama had made a central issue of his campaign.

I’ll point out again, all of this is woefully inadequate.  The U.S. is short 20 million jobs, not 3 million.  Since America’s labor force grows by 150,000 per month (due to population growth), creating 3 million jobs over two years means that unemployment will grow worse by 600,000 jobs instead of improving. 

Obama’s infrastructure spending will help in the short term, but that can’t be sustained for long.  In the end, the only way to put this economy back on sound footing is to restore its manufacturing base, bringing 6 million high-paying manufacturing jobs back home.  In addition, the administration has got to stop flooding our labor supply with immigrant labor.  Immigration intensifies the over-supply of labor faster than it contributes to consumer demand.

Biden said the economy was in worse shape than he and Obama had thought it was.

“President-elect Obama and I know the economic health of working families has eroded, and we intend to turn that around,” Biden told ABC’s “This Week.”

I have news for the Vice President-Elect.  The economy is in much worse shape than they realize even now.  The “economic health of working families” can only be restored by shifting the balance in the supply vs. demand equation of labor in favor of demand, driving incomes higher.  It cannot be done with more lending and debt.  The only way to stimulate a lasting demand for labor is by bringing home the jobs we’ve exported through misguided trade policy.


The Populationist Case for Obama

September 7, 2008

With the conventions now behind us, the choice between the presidential candidates is clear. For those concerned about the effects of overpopulation, both home-grown and imported through free trade with overpopulated nations, the winner is Obama. I base this on the following analysis of the candidates’ positions:

  1. On the issue of reducing the birth rate to stabilize our population, neither candidate has a position. However, McCain has unwittingly come down on the wrong side of this issue by advocating a doubling of the tax deduction for dependent children. It’s a feature of the tax reduction part of his economic plan, but the effect would surely be to provide an incentive to boost the birth rate. This seems like a very odd approach to reducing taxes. Why not simply reduce the base rate, so that everyone at that income level benefits? Is it possible that a pro-population growth economist had a hand in crafting this policy? It seems quite possible. This policy is exactly the opposite of what I have recommended in Five Short Blasts, and is clearly a step backwards for those fighting overpopulation. Advantage: Obama
  2. See my previous post regarding the size of the candidates’ families. If something precipitates a catapulting of the overpopulation issue to national attention (as if it shouldn’t be a key focus already), which candidate is more likely to be receptive to the concept, and which will be a more credible leader on the issue – the candidate with seven children, or the one with two? Advantage: Obama
  3. Both candidates are on the wrong side of the immigration issue. Both favor what amounts to amnesty and guest worker programs, but supposedly only after the border has been secured. The Democrats have an especially bad record when it comes to favoring immigration to the detriment of American citizens. So Obama makes me nervous on this, but so too does McCain. Advantage: Neither
  4. This leaves the subject of trade. If you haven’t read Five Short Blasts, it may be difficult for you to understand the connection to overpopulation. I strongly encourage you to read it. Otherwise, you’ll just have to believe me when I say that our trade deficit is a direct result of attempting to trade freely with overpopulated nations. On this issue there is a very sharp contrast between the candidates. McCain has been very open and adamant about his belief in free trade and his plans to “open more markets,” as have other Republicans who have spoken on his behalf. Obama, on the other hand, blames our trade deficit for the loss of manufacturing jobs and has even vowed to scrap and renegotiate NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement). Advantage: Obama
  5. On the subject of breaking our dependence on foreign oil, both candidates recognize the need. McCain more strongly advocates drilling offshore and in ANWR (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) as a stop-gap measure while renewable energy is developed. Obama has expressed a willingness to consider more drilling, but not in ANWR. Neither candidate has acknowledge the necessity to even stabilize our population, much less reduce it, as a critical element of achieving energy independence. Advantage: Neither
  6. Both candidates acknowledge the problem of global warming and have promised action. But, for whatever reason, McCain has chosen a running mate who does not share this same belief. Given McCain’s age, it’s not a stretch to think that Palin may have to take over at some point. It would be an environmental disaster to have another administration that doesn’t “get it” on global warming. Biden, on the other hand, if he had to take over from Obama, shares his concern with global warming. Advantage: Obama

In summary, from a policy perspective, Obama has unwittingly made himself the clear choice of those concerned with overpopulation and its effects, both home-grown and imported.

     

McCain’s Choice of Sarah Palin

August 30, 2008

http://mudflats.wordpress.com/2008/08/29/what-is-mccain-thinking-one-alaskans-perspective/

I’d like to weigh in with some preliminary thoughts about McCain’s VP pick, governor Sarah Palin of Alaska.  But, first of all, I’ve included a link above to a blog written by an Alaskan that contains some good information about Mrs. Palin.  The blogger seems to be biased toward the Democrats but it’s still interesting to hear his/her perspective.  It details an ongoing “scandal” that she’s embroiled in.  When I read the details of the “scandal” I had to laugh.  It pales in comparison to what’s happening here in southeast Michigan.  If that’s the worst someone can come up with on Palin, don’t bother me with it.

With that said, here’s how I see it.  I evaluate McCain’s choice on three issues:

  1. If she had to take over from McCain, what would her position be on population management, especially immigration?  It’s impossible to know at this point.  I doubt that the subject comes up much in Alaska politics.  But, being the governor of the least densely populated state in the nation, she’s probably clueless about the challenges presented by overpopulation and legal and illegal immigration.  A good indication is the fact that she doesn’t believe in global warming, a huge strike against her.  Even McCain has accepted that we need to act on this issue.  Why would he pick someone so out-of-touch on one of the most critical issues of our time, one that is exacerbated every day by further rampant population growth? 
  2. If she had to take over from McCain, what would be her position on trade and the trade deficit?  Again, it seems impossible to know.  I imagine that, for an Alaskan, the subject of the economy boils down to three things:  oil, oil and oil.  In that regard, I give her high marks for raising taxes on the oil companies to generate revenue for her state and to balance her budget, much to their chagrin.  Score one for fiscal responsibility and toughness.  But her husband is an oil company employee.  That will raise serious conflict of interest questions in any energy policy matters.  Also, I don’t like the fact that she favors drilling in ANWR.  I’ve come out in support of offshore drilling, but drilling in ANWR is where I draw the line.  The environmental risks are too great.  But, back to the original question, there’s no evidence yet to suggest what her attitudes are toward our trade deficit. 
  3. In general, is she ready to take over the presidency?  Some are saying that, even though she’s only been a governor for two years, she already has more “executive” experience that either Obama or Biden.  While technically true, I suppose, it’s ludicrous to suggest that such experience would prove more valuable than experience gained in the Senate.  Looking back at recent previous presidents, most had gubernatorial experiences.  Some were highly successful:  Reagan and Clinton (though I think Clinton was simply in the right place at the right time, at the dawn of the explosion in PC, internet and cell phone technology).  Some were abysmal failures:  Carter and George W. Bush.  So what makes a successful president vs. a failure?  I think it comes down primarily to intelligence, judgment, leadership and core values. 

So what does McCain’s choice say about him in this regard?  First of all, Palin was chosen for political reasons first, giving lower priority to what would be the best interest of the nation if something were to happen to McCain.  I don’t see her as ready to take the reins of the presidency and the free world.  This choice was obviously made in a play for disaffected Hillary voters and to shore up McCain’s shaky standing with the right wing of the party, especially pro-lifers and guns rights advocates.  But if McCain really wanted to attract the female vote, especially disaffected Hillary voters, why not choose another woman who’s more qualified, like Kay Bailey Hutchinson, the senator from Texas?  I think this play will backfire, insulting Hillary supporters with the thinking that they’ll vote for anything wearing a skirt (or a pantsuit).  If it’s pro-lifers and gun rights advocates he’s after, there are plenty of choices much more qualified to lead the nation.  And what will happen when Palin is stood up next to Biden in a debate? 

This just seems like a really weird pick and calls into question McCain’s judgment, one of the key character traits that should be factored into our choice for president.  I am reminded of Ross Perot’s choice of admiral what’s-his-name (the name escapes me) as his running mate.  It completely destroyed whatever credibility Perot had.  The admiral’s performance in the VP debate was one of the most embarrassing moments in modern political history.  Perhaps Palin will prove me wrong.  Perhaps she has the makings of an incredible leader.  But that’s not a risk I’d be willing to take.


Presidential Campaign

August 28, 2008

 A lot has happened in the presidential campaign this week and I’d like to take a moment to comment.

First of all, I was pleasantly surprised by Obama’s selection of Biden as his running mate.  Biden would have been my pick, too.  I just like the guy.  Some criticize him for some of his gaffs, but I find his openness and honesty to be refreshing.  He’s extremely knowledgeable and tough.  He’s much closer to the average working stiff than to corporate executives.  Some criticize him for being involved in the revamp of bankruptcy laws to the benefit of credit card companies.  Frankly, I think that law was a good thing.  Anything that imposes more discipline and responsibility on the handling of debt is a good thing.  Ben Bernanke could use some lessons in that.  In my opinion, Obama has passed his first real test of judgment – the selection of a VP – with flying colors.  I knew all along that he would never pick Hillary – primarily because of her husband.  If he had, Bill would have been constantly upstaging him.  Following every Obama decision, reporters would have run to Bill and asked if that’s what he’d have done.  Sure, they’ll still do that, but without being linked to the White House, no one will care what he thinks.  By the way, Biden hit one out of the park with that speech last night.  And, if I was the Republican VP candidate, I wouldn’t look forward to debating Biden.  He’s really a pro in the point-counterpoint formats.  I look for a really incredible speech by Obama tonight. 

And I must say that I’m impressed with the McCain campaign’s tenacity in going after Obama with their ads.  He clearly has a well-run campaign and is ceding nothing to Obama.  But I think his economic message is out-of-step with the times and I think that he’ll wilt in the debates.  One thing I’ve noticed is that McCain is constantly reading from notes during his stump speeches while Obama never does, seemingly speaking from the heart instead.  To me, this displays a better grasp of the issues and an intellectual lightness of the feet that will serve him well in the debates. 

Hey, regardless of who wins, we’ll clearly have a much better president that we’ve had for the past eight years.  At least we’ll have someone who can construct complete sentences and deliver a speech without an arrogant smirk on his face.