Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Short Answer? No

Can the Deep State be Cured?: by Karen Kwiatkowski  [note: emphasis mine, and, make sure you read her bio]
So, after getting up late, groggy, and feeling overworked even before I started, I read this article. Just after, I had to feed a dozen cats and dogs, each dog in a separate room out of respect for their territorialism and aggressive desire to consume more than they should (hmm, where have I seen this before), and in the process, forgot where I put my coffee cup. Retracing steps, I finally find it and sit back down to my 19-inch window on the ugly (and perhaps remote) world of the state, and the endless pinpricks of the independent media on its vast overwhelmingly evil existence. I suspect I share this distractibility and daily estrangement from the actions of our government with most Americans.

We are newly bombing Libya and still messing with the Middle East? I thought that the wars the deep state wanted and started were now limited and constrained! What happened to lack of funds, lack of popular support, public transparency that revealed the stupidity and abject failure of these wars?

Deep state. Something systemic, difficult to detect, hard to remove, hidden. It is a spirit as much as nerves and organ. How do your starve it, excise it, or just make it go away? We want to know. I think this explains the popularity of infotainment about haunted houses, ghosts and alien beings among us. They live and we are curious and scared.

The “Obama Doctrine” a continuation of the previous false government doctrines in my lifetime, is less doctrine than the disease, as David Swanson points out. But in the article he critiques, the neoconservative warmongering global planning freak perspective (truly, we must recognize this view as freakish, sociopathic, death-cultish, control-obsessed, narcissist, take your pick or get a combo, it’s all good). Disease, as a way of understanding the deep state action on the body politic, is abnormal. It can and should be cured.

My summary of the long Jeffrey Goldberg piece is basically that Obama has become more fatalistic (did he mean to say fatal?) since he won that Nobel Peace Prize back in 2009. By the way, the “Nobel prize” article contains this gem, sure to get a chuckle:

“Obama’s drone program is regularly criticized for a lack of transparency and accountability, especially considering incomplete intelligence means officials are often unsure about who will die. “[M]ost individuals killed are not on a kill list, and the government does not know their names,” Micah Zenko, a scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations told the New York Times.”

This is about all the fun I can handle in one day. But back to what I was trying to say.

The deep state seems to have grown, strengthened and tightened its grip. Can a lack of real money restrain or starve it? I once thought so, and maybe I still do. But it doesn’t use real money, but rather debt and creative financing to get that next new car, er, war and intervention and domestic spending program. Ultimately it’s not sustainable, and just as unaffordable cars are junked, stripped, repossessed, and crunched up, so will go the way of the physical assets of the warfare–welfare state.

Because inflated salaries, inflated stock prices and inflated ruling-class personalities are month to month, these should evaporate more quickly, over a debris field once known as some of richest counties in the United States. Can I imagine the shabbiest of trailer parks in the dismal swamp, where high rises and government basilicas and abbeys once stood? I’d certainly like to. But I’ll settle for well-kept, privately owned house trailers, filled with people actually producing some small value for society, and minding their own business.

Can a lack of public support reduce the deep state, or impact it? Well, it would seem that this is a non-factor, except for the strange history we have had and are witnessing again today, with the odd successful popular and populist-leaning politician and their related movements. In my lifetime, only popular figures and their movements get assassinated mysteriously, with odd polka dot dresses, MKULTRA suggestions, threats against their family by their competitors (I’m thinking Perot, but one mustn’t be limited to that case), and always with concordant pressures on the sociopolitical seams in the country, i.e riots and police/military activations. The bad dealings toward, and genuine fear of, Bernie Sanders within the Democratic Party’s wing of the deep state is matched or exceeded only by the genuine terror of Trump among the Republican deep state wing. This reaction to something or some person that so many in the country find engaging and appealing — an outsider who speaks to the growing political and economic dissatisfaction of a poorer, more indebted, and more regulated population – is heart-warming, to be sure. It is a sign that whether or not we do, the deep state thinks things might change. Thank you, Bernie and especially Donald, for revealing this much! And the “republicanization” of the Libertarian Party is also a bright indicator blinking out the potential of deep state movement and compromise in the pursuit of “stability.”

Finally, what of those pinpricks of light, the honest assessments of the real death trail and consumption pit that the deep state has delivered? Well, it is growing and broadening. Wikileaks and Snowden are considered assets now to any and all competitors to the US deep state, from within and from abroad – the Pandora’s box, assisted by technology, can’t be closed now. The independent media has matured to the point of criticizing and debating itself/each other, as well as focusing harsh light on the establishment media. Instead of left and right mainstream media, we increasingly recognize state media, and delightedly observe its own struggle to survive in the face of a growing nervousness of the deep state it assists on command.

Maybe we will one day soon be able to debate how deep the deep state really is, or whether it was all just a dressed up, meth’ed up, and eff’ed up a sector of society that deserves a bit of jail time, some counseling, and a new start. Maybe some job training that goes beyond the printing of license plates. But given the destruction and mass murder committed daily in the name of this state, and the environmental disasters it has created around the world for the future generations, perhaps we will be no more merciful to these proprietors of the American empire as they have been to their victims. The ruling class deeply fears our judgment, and in this dynamic lies the cure.

Great Question! (Brexit)

So, once the British Pounds stop rolling into Brussels, who's has to pony up to make up the "shortfall"?  Listen, two things politicians live for: power and money.  One can make the argument that without the second, the first is not possible.  Of course, I'd point out that once enough power is gained, money becomes meaningless to the tyrant, well, then again, he has to pay to keep up his inner circle, ah, but I digress.  Back to the UK and its exit from the EU - here's a worthy read indeed as the eurocrats scramble to look for another teat ... Picking Up the UK Tab:
Back in the late ‘90s, I began saying, “I’ll give the EU twenty years.” At that point, the EU seemed to be going great guns, but I believed that it was an ill-conceived concept that wouldn’t stand the test of time.

There were several reasons for my view. First, I didn’t believe that those countries that were entitlement-focused, such as the Greeks, would ever be as fiscally responsible as, say, the Germans, so the Germans (and other countries where there was a responsible work ethic) would end up subsidizing the Greeks (and to a lesser extent, Spain, Portugal, etc.)

Second, culturally, there was so great a divide between, say, the Austrians and the French, that they could never substantially agree on the union’s laws and directions.

Third, the countries of Europe have been at war with each other countless times over the centuries. They might agree to trade cooperation, but they would never agree to having a former enemy dictate policy to them. And it was baked in the cake that some members would have a louder voice than others, and so, would seek to dominate.

In recent years, we’ve watched the EU stumble repeatedly. Invariably, Brussels has arrogantly assumed that it can dictate to all EU members, and offers few apologies for doing so. The individual countries’ leaders then do their best to explain to their own voters why Brussels should be able to behave like an oligarchy, and the voters understandably have become increasingly angry.

Eventually, the wheels were sure to come off the trolley and, with the UK Brexit vote, we’ve witnessed the first major blow to the survival of the EU.

Whilst the “leave” vote has been acknowledged, we should expect to see politicians placing stones in the road to Brexit, in addition to creating repeated delays. It would also not be surprising to see demands for a recall or even a nullification by the UK Supreme Court.

In the midst of this, we’re already seeing the predictable backpedaling by those politicians and pundits who, up until the vote, were warning that a Brexit would spell unmitigated disaster for Britain. Most of them are now speaking instead of “working on crafting a successful settlement.” (After all, when the sky has failed to fall, they won’t want the public to remember that they ranted like veritable Chicken Littles prior to the vote.)

But, in one sense, the Brexit will unquestionably spell disaster—not for Britain, as was claimed, but for Brussels.

Britain was never fully married to the EU; she was more a “woman on the side,” but in this case, it was the woman that was picking up the tab for the affair. In 2015 alone, the UK paid £13 billion into the EU budget, whilst EU spending on the UK was £4.5 billion. The UK's “net contribution” was therefore about £8.5 billion - a loss of 65% of its investment. Not money well-spent, considering the trade restrictions heaped on the UK by Brussels.

The £8.5 billion loss, of course, went to support the net-receiver members of the EU, such as the ever-unapologetic Greece.

Most of the above will be common knowledge, but here’s a few pertinent questions that no one seems to be asking—at least not publicly:

At what point does the UK cease to pay into the EU?

Well, Brussels and those UK politicians that support the EU oligarchy concept will wish to delay that eventuality as long as they can. Consequently, we shall witness a struggle within British politics as politicians attempt to appear as though they’re honouring the voters’ edict, whilst finding repeated excuses to delay the Brexit. On the surface, it might not seem that they’d receive significant pushback, but, for those Britons who voted “leave” and, indeed for many who voted “remain,” the idea of Brussels demanding continued annual payment, whilst kicking the UK for choosing to leave, will result in the great majority of Britons becoming more than a little cross. (If we’re going to split the sheets, let’s get on with it. Any discussion of alimony should be a non-starter to say the least.)

Who’s going to pick up the tab when that flow of revenue ends?

Well, now, that really is a puzzler. A large part of the reason why the UK had to be such a significant net contributor was that most EU members couldn’t scrape up their “fair share.” Even most of the larger members, such as France, are broke. They can no longer pay their domestic bills, let alone take on more major EU funding.

When all else fails, it typically falls to Germany (the country that was really responsible for the EU’s creation in the first place) to pick up the tab. And it wouldn’t be surprising if Mrs. Merkel were to attempt to sell the idea to the German people that her “Fourth Reich” must come up with the cash, or her dream will fall apart.

Interestingly, Mrs. Merkel enjoyed an increase in popularity after the Brexit vote, after having lost a great deal of support as a result of the refugee crisis. However, once the German people learn that they may be hit with yet another EU bill, her ratings may head south again. She’s up for a fourth term in 2017 and it’s uncertain whether the German people will know by that date how the EU hopes to share out the former UK portion of the EU tab.

Will that impact the continuation of the EU?

The bill will most assuredly go to the remaining net-payer members and, for whoever gets handed the tab, the voters in these countries will most assuredly be asking themselves whether they’re facing diminishing returns. Certainly, Germany, France and the UK are presently taking the greatest shellacking. Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Denmark and Finland are also net contributors. But all the other 19 members are net receivers.

Certainly, the politicians in these countries share in the EU power and will want to stay in, but their voters who, increasingly, are feeling the squeeze of the unacknowledged Greater Depression may assert themselves at the polling stations, demonstrating that they’re not willing to throw good money after bad.

In the end, the conceptual problems with the EU’s existence may be outweighed by the economic ones. But of one thing we can be fairly certain: should the EU bite the dust in the coming years, the demand for its demise will come from the bottom up, not the top down.

Kicking The Can Down the Road ...

... will work until you run out of road.  When a nation's pension liabilities rise to levels like those in Poland, Denmark, France and Germany, you not only run out of road, you run out of the money to make new roads.  The USA is not far behind.  Just think about this for a moment: when pensions rise to levels greater that 300% of GDP, what will that do to an economy? Queue the music "War? What is it good for? Absolutely nothing ...."

You Don't Say! Why Say's Law Is Always True

I know I recently posted another article on Say's law, but I'll be damned if I can find it!  In fact, I believe it was likewise authored by Alasdair MacLeod, whom I find to be one of the best teachers on economics.  Please, take a few minutes and read his latest on Say's Law, and understand why, as Hayek said about Keynes, "he knew almost nothing about economics" and yet Keynesian "economics" is still the favorite tool of governments the world over.

This Is Your Government, Come On, Take a Look

Another update from the Department of WTF! Armed Enforcement: Bureaucracies Get Bigger and More Militant:

They came before dawn, a squad of six armed officers, banging on the door of Maria Elena Hernandez, 62, a Los Angeles grandmother. When she identified herself, one of the officers twisted her arms behind her back and slapped her in handcuffs. Hernandez protested that the officers had the wrong person, but they duly carted her off to jail. The armed squad was not from the Los Angeles Police Department, the DEA or the Department of Homeland Security. As Marisa Gerber notes in the Los Angeles Times, the armed squad was from the California Department of Insurance (CDI) and they did have the wrong person. The CDI had confused Hernandez with an insurance fraud suspect of the same surname, but it took them more than two months to catch the error. By that time she owed $2,000 in bail bonds and $1470 for a medical exam initiated by jail staff. The CDI said they deeply regretted the error, but the Hernandez case might prompt Californians to take a hard look at this state agency.
The CDI claims it is the “largest consumer protection agency in the state,” with more than 1,300 employees and an annual budget of more than $260 million. The 1988 Proposition 103 “expanded CDI’s authority” and made Insurance Commissioner an elected office. The CDI’s fraud divisiondates from 1979 and in 1980 the division’s detectives became sworn peace officers conducting surveillance, undercover operations, and making arrests. The Fraud Division’s funding “is primarily secured from assessments on insurance policies issued in the State,” including every automobile policy. The CDI bills the division as “the premiere insurance fraud investigative agency in the nation with over 200 sworn officers operating in nine regional offices throughout the State of California.”
This “premier” agency sometimes busts the wrong person in an armed pre-dawn raid. The CDI also confirms that bureaucracies tend to get bigger, more expensive, and also more militant. In similar style, the federal U.S. Department of Education deploys an armed enforcement division that conducts pre-dawn raids. The Transportation Safety Authority, initially limited to airports, deploys a Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response program that rousts people at train stations and other transportation hubs. It’s all for the protection of the public of course.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Window Into Your Privacy: Windows 10

Good summary on the data acquisition program known as the Windows 10 OS from the EFF: With Windows 10, Microsoft Blatantly Disregards User Choice and Privacy: A Deep Dive:

Microsoft had an ambitious goal with the launch of Windows 10: a billion devices running the software by the end of 2018. In its quest to reach that goal, the company aggressively pushed Windows 10 on its users and went so far as to offer free upgrades for a whole year. However, the company’s strategy for user adoption has trampled on essential aspects of modern computing: user choice and privacy. We think that’s wrong.

You don’t need to search long to come across stories of people who are horrified and amazed at just how far Microsoft has gone in order to increase Windows 10’s install base. Sure, there is some misinformation and hyperbole, but there are also some real concerns that current and future users of Windows 10 should be aware of. As the company is currently rolling out its “Anniversary Update” to Windows 10, we think it’s an appropriate time to focus on and examine the company’s strategy behind deploying Windows 10.

Disregarding User Choice

The tactics Microsoft employed to get users of earlier versions of Windows to upgrade to Windows 10 went from annoying to downright malicious. Some highlights: Microsoft installed an app in users’ system trays advertising the free upgrade to Windows 10. The app couldn’t be easily hidden or removed, but some enterprising users figured out a way. Then, the company kept changing the app and bundling it into various security patches, creating a cat-and-mouse game to uninstall it.

Eventually, Microsoft started pushing Windows 10 via its Windows Update system. It started off by pre-selecting the download for users and downloading it on their machines. Not satisfied, the company eventually made Windows 10 a recommended update so users receiving critical security updates were now also downloading an entirely new operating system onto their machines without their knowledge. Microsoft even rolled in the Windows 10 ad as part of an Internet Explorer security patchSuffice to say, this is not the standard when it comes to security updates, and isn’t how most users expect them to work. When installing security updates, users expect to patch their existing operating system, and not see an advertisement or find out that they have downloaded an entirely new operating system in the process.

In May 2016, in an action designed in a way we think was highly deceptive, Microsoft actually changed the expected behavior of a dialog window, a user interface element that’s been around and acted the same way since the birth of the modern desktop. Specifically, when prompted with a Windows 10 update, if the user chose to decline it by hitting the ‘X’ in the upper right hand corner, Microsoft interpreted that as consent to download Windows 10.

Time after time, with each update, Microsoft chose to employ questionable tactics to cause users to download a piece of software that many didn’t want. What users actually wanted didn’t seem to matter. In an extreme case, members of a wildlife conservation group in the African jungle felt that the automatic download of Windows 10 on a limited bandwidth connection could have endangered their lives if a forced upgrade had begun during a mission.

Disregarding User Privacy

The trouble with Windows 10 doesn’t end with forcing users to download the operating system. Windows 10 sends an unprecedented amount of usage data back to Microsoft, particularly if users opt in to “personalize” the software using the OS assistant called Cortana. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of data sent back: location data, text input, voice input, touch input, webpages you visit, and telemetry data regarding your general usage of your computer, including which programs you run and for how long.

While we understand that many users find features like Cortana useful, and that such features would be difficult (though not necessarily impossible) to implement in a way that doesn’t send data back to the cloud, the fact remains that many users would much prefer not to use these features in exchange for maintaining their privacy.

And while users can disable some of these settings, it is not a guarantee that your computer will stop talking to Microsoft’s servers. A significant issue is the telemetry data the company receives. While Microsoft insists that it aggregates and anonymizes this data, it hasn’t explained just how it does so. Microsoft also won’t say how long this data is retained, instead providing only general timeframes. Worse yet, unless you’re an enterprise user, no matter what, you have to share at least some of this telemetry data with Microsoft and there’s no way to opt-out of it.

Microsoft has tried to explain this lack of choice by saying that Windows Update won’t function properly on copies of the operating system with telemetry reporting turned to its lowest level. In other words, Microsoft is claiming that giving ordinary users more privacy by letting them turn telemetry reporting down to its lowest level would risk their security since they would no longer get security updates1. (Notably, this is not something many articles about Windows 10 have touched on.)

But this is a false choice that is entirely of Microsoft’s own creation. There’s no good reason why the types of data Microsoft collects at each telemetry level couldn’t be adjusted so that even at the lowest level of telemetry collection, users could still benefit from Windows Update and secure their machines from vulnerabilities, without having to send back things like app usage data or unique IDs like an IMEI number.

And if this wasn’t bad enough, Microsoft’s questionable upgrade tactics of bundling Windows 10 into various levels of security updates have also managed to lower users’ trust in the necessity of security updates. Sadly, this has led some people to forgo security updates entirely, meaning that there are users whose machines are at risk of being attacked.

There’s no doubt that Windows 10 has some great security improvements over previous versions of the operating system. But it’s a shame that Microsoft made users choose between having privacy and security.

The Way Forward

Microsoft should come clean with its user community. The company needs to acknowledge its missteps and offer real, meaningful opt-outs to the users who want them, preferably in a single unified screen. It also needs to be straightforward in separating security updates from operating system upgrades going forward, and not try to bypass user choice and privacy expectations.
Otherwise it will face backlash in the form of individual lawsuits, state attorney general investigations, and government investigations.

We at EFF have heard from many users who have asked us to take action, and we urge Microsoft to listen to these concerns and incorporate this feedback into the next release of its operating system. Otherwise, Microsoft may find that it has inadvertently discovered just how far it can push its users before they abandon a once-trusted company for a better, more privacy-protective solution.
 
 Correction: an earlier version of the blogpost implied that data collection related to Cortana was opt-out, when in fact the service is opt in.
  • 1. Confusingly, Microsoft calls the lowest level of telemetry reporting (which is not available on Home or Professional editions of Windows 10) the “security” level—even though it prevents security patches from being delivered via Windows Update.

Socialism: Yeah, It Works ...

New:   Venezuela's Latest Response to Food Shortages: Ban Lines Outside Bakeries

Forced Labor Camps Are the Fruit of Venezuelan Socialism

Venezuela’s Road to Literal SerfdomHow anyone can still believe that socialism works is beyond me, really.  I suppose the dream of "free stuff" and "freedom from want" will always live within the clueless.

Venezuelan Apocalypse II: More updates on the epic failure of socialism in oil-rich Venezuela.   Many more links after the jump.  

"It's Pure Chaos Now; There Is No Way Back" - Venezuela Hits Rock Bottom As Its Morgues Overflow.  It continues to amaze me that people still think socialism works.  Then again, after reading Thomas Sowell's Intellectuals and Society, I understand why: when either socialism or communism fails, there's always another set of intellectuals who believe the failure came about as a result of poor leadership and that they can, and will, do better when they're in charge.

More from that utopian paradise known as Venezuela: Venezuela Calls for Patriotism as It Plans to Ration Electricity.  'Cause you know, socialism works!  People, just remember, when politicians call for patriotism, hold onto your wallet and for those of military age, hold onto your life.

Of course, things are so great in the socialist paradise of Venezuela that now has five day weekends for public workers!

"All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others!" Rule of Law Collapses in Venezuela As Maduro Continues to Push Socialist Agenda.  Of course he can push it: he's protected from the devastation he's causing.  But that will change .... and soon ...

Well, they're all equal and it is a utopia, so, let's make 'em work .. From Socialist Utopia To Slave-Nation - Venezuela Unveils Shocking "Forced Labor" Law

Monday, August 22, 2016

They Certainly Have

American Unions Have Turned into Roach Motels.  Easy to get into a union and in fact, it's easy to start one, however, try getting out of one ... good luck 'wit 'dat.

I Wish, But ...

Obamacare Is the Welfare State’s Requiem by Jeffrey Tucker.  While I certainly hope this to be the case, Leviathan will not give up so easily.  Also, this is worth a read too: An Insurance Giant Has Rung Obamacare's Death Knell

Thursday, August 18, 2016

This 'Taint Good

As I repeatedly say when it comes to economic indicators: I have but two, and they are the Baltic Dry Index and Caterpillar.  Nothing's wrong with the global economy, no way!  The stock market is so hot, right? Hmmm  Caterpillar Retail Orders Suffer Second Biggest Plunge Since Financial Crisis.  If they ain't building, we ain't growing and by 'we' I mean 'the global economy'.

GHWB ... Hmmm

I love a good conspiracy especially when the dots are connected very well, so imagine my intrigue after reading the Bush Angle to Reagan Shooting Still Unresolved as Hinckley Walks.  Quite the read.  I'm aware of GHWB's linkage to the assassination of JFK, but this one is definitely an eye-opener.

A Clinton-Scandal Primer

A good read from The Atlantic, From Whitewater to Benghazi: A Clinton-Scandal Primer.  Hope the author is in good health, and stays that way.

Why I Have Fewer and Fewer Friends

... 'cause I don't believe what I'm told ....


Just About Covers It


Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Primer on Immigration

Arguments against immigration come across my desk every day but their variety is limited – rarely do I encounter a unique one. Several times a year I give presentations about these arguments and rebut their points. These are the main arguments against immigration and my quick responses to them:

1. “Immigrants will take our jobs and lower our wages, especially hurting the poor.”

This is the most common argument and also the one with the greatest amount of evidence rebutting it. First, the displacement effect is small if it even affects natives at all. Immigrants are typically attracted to growing regions and they increase the supply and demand sides of the economy once they are there, expanding employment opportunities. Second, the debate over immigrant impacts on American wages is confined to the lower single digits – immigrants may increase the relative wages for some Americans by a tiny amount and decrease them by a larger amount for the few Americans who directly compete against them. Immigrants likely compete most directly against other immigrants so the effects on less-skilled native-born Americans might be very small or even positive.

New research by Harvard professor George Borjas on the effect of the Mariel Boatlift – a giant shock to Miami’s labor market that increased the size of its population by 7 percent in 42 days – finds large negative wage effects concentrated on Americans with less than a high school degree. To put the scale of that shock to Miami in context, it would be as if 22.4 million immigrants moved to America in a six-week period – which will not happen. Some doubt Borjas’ finding (here is Borjas’ response to the critics and here is a summary of the debate) but what is not in doubt is that immigration has increased the wages and income of Americans on net. The smallest estimates immigration surplus, as it is called, is equal to about 0.24 percent of GDP – which excludes the gains to immigrants and just focuses on those of native-born Americans.

2. “Immigrants abuse the welfare state.”

Most legal immigrants do not have access to means-tested welfare for their first five years here with few exceptions and unauthorized immigrants don’t have access at all – except for emergency Medicaid.

Immigrants are less likely to use means-tested welfare benefits that similar native-born Americans. When they do use welfare, the dollar value of benefits consumed is smaller. If poor native-born Americans used Medicaid at the same rate and consumed the same value of benefits as poor immigrants, the program would be 42 percent smaller.

Immigrants also make large net contributions to Medicare and Social Security, the largest portions of the welfare state, because of their ages, ineligibility, and their greater likelihood of retiring in other countries. Far from draining the welfare state, immigrants have given the entitlement portions a few more years of operation before bankruptcy. If you’re still worried about immigrant use of the welfare state, as I am, then it is far easier and cheaper to build a higher wall around the welfare state, instead of around the country.

3. “Immigrants are a net fiscal cost.”

Related to the welfare argument is that immigrants consume more in government benefits than they generate in tax revenue. The empirics on this are fairly consistent – immigrants in the United States have a net-zero impact on government budgets (the published version of that working paper is published here).

It seems odd that poor immigrants don’t create a larger deficit but there are many factors pushing explaining that. The first is that higher immigrant fertility and the long run productivity of those people born in the United States generates a lot of tax revenue. The second is that immigrants grow the economy considerably (this is different from the immigration surplus discussed above) and increase tax revenue. The third is that many immigrants come when they are young but not young enough to consume public schools, thus they work and pay taxes before consuming hundreds of thousands of dollars in public schools costs and welfare benefits – meaning they give an immediate fiscal boost. There are many other reasons as well.

Although the tax incidence from immigrants is what matters for the fiscal consequences, between 50 percent and 75 percent of illegal immigrants comply with federal tax law. States that rely on consumption or property taxes tend to garner a surplus from taxes paid by unlawful immigrants while those that rely on income taxes do not.

4. “Immigrants increase economic inequality.”

In a post-Piketty world, the argument that immigration is increasing economic inequality within nations is getting some attention. While most forms of economic inequality are increasing among people within nations, global inequality is likely falling due and at a historic low point due to rapid economic growth in much of the world over the last generation.

The evidence on how immigration affects economic inequality in the United States is mixed – some research finds relatively small effects and others find substantial ones. The variance in findings can be explained by research methods – there is a big difference in outcomes between a study that measures how immigration affects economic inequality only among natives and another study that includes immigrants and their earnings. Both methods seem reasonable but the effects on inequality are small compared to other factors.

Frankly, I don’t see the problem if an immigrant quadruples his income by coming to the United States, barely affects the wages of native-born Americans here, and increases economic inequality as a result. The standard of living is much more important than the earnings distribution and everybody in this situation either wins or is unaffected.

5. “Today’s immigrants don’t assimilate like previous immigrant groups did.”


There is a large amount of research that indicates immigrants are assimilating as well as or better than previous immigrant groups – even Mexicans. The first piece of research is the National Academy of Science’s (NAS) September 2015 book titled The Integration of Immigrants into American Society. It’s a thorough and brilliant summation of the relevant academic literature on immigrant assimilation. Bottom line: Assimilation is never perfect and always takes time, but it’s going very well.

The second book is a July 2015 book entitled Indicators of Immigrant Integration 2015 that analyses immigrant and second generation integration on 27 measurable indicators across the OECD and EU countries. This report finds more problems with immigrant assimilation in Europe, especially for those from outside of the European Union, but the findings for the United States are quite positive.

The third work by University of Washington economist Jacob Vigdor compares modern immigrant civic and cultural assimilation to that of immigrants from the early 20th century (an earlier draft of his book chapter is here, the published version is available in this collection). If you think early 20th century immigrants and their descendants eventually assimilated successfully, Vigdor’s conclusion is reassuring:


“While there are reasons to think of contemporary migration from Spanish-speaking nations as distinct from earlier waves of immigration, evidence does not support the notion that this wave of migration poses a true threat to the institutions that withstood those earlier waves. Basic indicators of assimilation, from naturalization to English ability, are if anything stronger now than they were a century ago.”

For the nostalgic among us who believe that immigrants assimilated so much more smoothly in the past, the plethora of ethnic and anti-Catholic riots, the nativist Know-Nothing movement, and immigrant groups that refused to assimilate are a useful tonic. Immigrant assimilation is always messy and it looks bad from the middle of that process where we are right now, but the trends are positive and pointing in the right direction.

6. “Immigrants are especially crime prone.”

This myth has been around for over a century. It wasn’t true in 1896, 1909, 1931, 1994, and more recently. Immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated for violent and property crimes and cities with more immigrants and their descendants are more peaceful. Some immigrants do commit violent and property crimes but, on the whole, they are less likely to do so.

7. “Immigrants pose a unique risk today because of terrorism.”

Terrorism is not a modern strategy. There were a large number of bombings and terrorist attacks in the early 20th century, most of them committed by immigrants, socialists, and their fellow travelers.

Today, the deaths from terrorism committed by immigrants are greater than they were a century ago but the risk is still low compared to the benefits of immigration. For instance, the chance of an American being killed in a terrorist attack committed on U.S. soil by a refugee was one in 3.6 billion from 1975 to 2015. For all foreign-born terrorists on U.S. soil, the chance of being murdered in a terrorist attack is one in 3.6 million during the same period of time. Almost 99 percent of those murders occurred on 9/11 and were committed by foreigners on tourist visas and one student visa, not immigrants. Cato has a paper coming out in September that explores this in greater detail. Every death from terrorism is a tragedy but immigrants pose a relatively small threat relative to the big benefits of them being here (remember the immigration surplus above).

8. “It’s easy to immigrate to America and we’re the most open country in the world.”

It is very difficult to immigrate to the United States. Ellis Island closed down a long time ago. In most cases, there isn’t a line and when there is, it can take decades or centuries. This chart shows the confusing and difficult path to a green card. Does that look easy to you?

America allows greater numbers of immigrants than any other country. However, the annual flow of immigrants as a percent of our population is below most other OECD countries because the United States is so large. The percentage of our population that is foreign-born is about 13 percent – below historical highs in the United States and less than half of what it is in modern New Zealand and Australia. America is great at assimilating immigrants but other countries are much more open.

9. “Amnesty or failure to enforce our immigration laws will destroy the Rule of Law in the United States.”

For a law to be consistent with Rule of Law principle, it must be applied equally, have roughly ex ante predictable outcomes based on the circumstances, and be consistent with our Anglo-Saxon traditions of personal autonomy and liberty. Our current immigration laws violate all of those. They are applied differently based on people’s country of birth via arbitrary quotas and other regulations, the outcomes are certainly not predictable, and they are hardly consistent with America’s traditional immigration policy and our conceptions of liberty.

For the Rule of Law to be present, good laws are required, not just strict adherence to government enforcement of impossible to follow rules. An amnesty is an admission that our past laws have failed, they need reform, and the net cost of enforcing them in the meantime exceeds the benefits. That’s why there have been numerous amnesties throughout American history.

Enforcing laws that are inherently capricious and that are contrary to our traditions is inconsistent with a stable Rule of Law that is a necessary, although not sufficient, precondition for economic growth. Enforcing bad laws poorly is better than enforcing bad laws uniformly despite the uncertainty. In immigration, poor enforcement of our destructive laws is preferable to strict enforcement but liberalization is the best choice of all. Admitting our laws failed, granting an amnesty for law-breakers, and reforming the laws does not doom the Rule of Law in the United States – it strengthens it.

10. “National sovereignty.”

By not exercising control over borders through actively blocking immigrants, the users of this argument warn, the United States government will surrender a vital component of its national sovereignty. Rarely do users of this argument explain to whom the U.S. government would actually surrender sovereignty in this situation. Even in the most extremely open immigration policy imaginable, total open borders, national sovereignty is not diminished assuming that our government’s institutions chose such a policy (I am not supporting totally open borders here, I am just using it as a foil to show that even in this extreme situation this argument fails). How can that be?

The standard Weberian definition of a government is an institution that has a monopoly (or near monopoly) on the legitimate use of violence within a certain geographical area. The way it achieves this monopoly is by keeping out other competing sovereigns that want to be that monopoly. Our government maintains its sovereignty is by excluding the militaries of other nations and by stopping insurgents.

However, U.S. immigration laws are not primarily designed or intended to keep out foreign armies, spies, or insurgents. The main effect of our immigration laws is to keep out willing foreign workers from selling their labor to voluntary American purchasers. Such economic controls do not aid in the maintenance of national sovereignty and relaxing or removing them would not infringe upon the government’s national sovereignty any more than a policy of unilateral free trade would. If the United States would return to its 1790-1875 immigration policy, foreign militaries crossing U.S. borders would be countered by the U.S. military. Allowing the free flow of non-violent and healthy foreign nationals does nothing to diminish the U.S. government’s legitimate monopoly on the use of force in the Weberian world.

There is also a historical argument that free immigration and U.S. national sovereignty are not in conflict. From 1790-1875 the federal government placed almost no restrictions on immigration. At the time, states imposed restrictions on the immigration of free blacks and likely indigents through outright bars, taxes, passenger regulations, and bonds. Many of those restrictions weren’t enforced by state governments and were lifted in the 1840s after Supreme Court decisions. However, that open immigration policy did not stop the United States from fighting two wars against foreign powers – the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War – and the Civil War. The U.S. government’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force during that time was certainly challenged from within and without but the U.S. government maintained its national sovereignty even with near open borders.

The U.S. government was also clearly sovereign during that period of history. Those who claim the U.S. government would lose its national sovereignty under a regime of free immigration have yet to reconcile that with America’s past of doing just that. To argue that open borders would destroy American sovereignty is to argue that the United States was not a sovereign country when George Washington, Andrew Jackson, or Abraham Lincoln were Presidents. We do not have to choose between free immigration and U.S. national sovereignty.

Furthermore, national sovereign control over immigrations means that the government can do whatever it wants with that power – including relinquishing it entirely. It would be odd to argue that sovereign states have complete control over their border except they can’t open them too much. Of course, they can – that is the essence of sovereignty. After all, I’m arguing that the United States government should change its laws to allow for more legal immigration, not that the U.S. government should cede all of its power to a foreign sovereign.

11. “Immigrants won’t vote for the Republican Party – look at what happened to California.”

This is an argument used by some Republicans to oppose liberalized immigration. They point to my home state of California as an example of what happens when there are too many immigrants and their descendants: Democratic control. The evidence is clear that Hispanic and immigrant voters in California in the early to mid-1990s did turn the state blue but that was a reaction to the state GOP declaring political war on them. Those who claim that changing demographics due to immigration is solely responsible for the shift in California’s politics have to explain the severe drop-off in support for the GOP at exactly the same time that the party was using anti-immigration propositions and arguments to win the 1994 election. They would further have to why Texas Hispanics are so much more Republican than those in California. Nativism has never been the path toward national party success and frequently contributes to their downfall. In other words, whether immigrants vote for Republicans is mostly up to how Republicans treat them.

Republicans should look toward the inclusive and relatively pro-immigration policies and positions adopted by their fellow party members in Texas and their subsequent electoral success there rather than trying to replicate the foolish nativist politics pursued by the California Republican Party. My comment here assumes that locking people out of the United States because they might disproportionality vote for one of the two major parties is a legitimate use of government power – I do not believe that it is.

12. “Immigrants bring with them their bad cultures, ideas, or other factors that will undermine and destroy our economic and political institutions. The resultant weakening in economic growth means that immigrants will destroy more wealth than they will create.”

This is the most intelligent anti-immigration argument and the one most likely to be correct, although the evidence currently doesn’t support it being true. Economics Michael Clemens lays out a wonderful model of how immigrants could theoretically weaken the growth potential of any receiving countries. In his model, he assumes that immigrants transmit these anti-growth factors to the United States. However, as the immigrants assimilate into American ideas and notions, these anti-growth factors weaken over time. Congestion could counteract that assimilation process when there are too many immigrants with too many bad ideas, thus overwhelming assimilative forces. Clemens is rightly skeptical that this is occurring but his paper lays out the theoretical point where immigration restrictions would be efficient – where they balance the benefits of economic expansion from immigration with the costs of institutional degradation.

Empirical evidence doesn’t point to this effect either. In a recent academic paper, my coauthors and I compared economic freedom scores with immigrant populations across 100 countries over 21 years. Some countries were majority immigrant while some had virtually none. We found that the larger a country’s immigrant population was in 1990, the more economic freedom increased in the same country by 2011. The immigrant’s country of origin, and whether they came from a poor nation or a rich one, didn’t affect the outcome. These results held for the United States federal government but not for state governments. States with greater immigrant populations in 1990 had less economic freedom in 2011 than those with fewer immigrants, but the difference was small. The national increase in economic freedom more than outweighed the small decrease in economic freedom in states with more immigrants. Large immigrant populations also don’t increase the size of welfare programs or other public programs across American states and there is a lot of evidence that more immigrants in European countries actually decreases support for big government.

Although this anti-immigration argument could be true, it seems unlikely to be so for several reasons. First, it is very hard to upend established political and economic institutions through immigration. Immigrants change to fit into the existing order rather than vice versa. Institutions are ontologically collective – my American conceptions of private property rights wouldn’t accompany me in any meaningful way if I went to Cuba and vice versa. It would take a rapid inundation of immigrants and replacement of natives to change institutions in most places.

The second possibility is immigrant self-selection: Those who decide to come here mostly admire American institutions or have policy opinions that are very similar to those of native-born Americans. As a result, adding more immigrants who already broadly share the opinions of most Americans would not affect policy. This appears to be the case in the United States.

The third explanation is that foreigners and Americans have very similar policy opinions. This hypothesis is related to those above, but it indicates an area where Americans may be unexceptional compared to the rest of the world. According to this theory, Americans are not more supportive of free markets than most other peoples, we’re just lucky that we inherited excellent institutions from our ancestors.

The fourth reason is that more open immigration makes native voters oppose welfare or expanded government because they believe immigrants will disproportionately consume the benefits (regardless of the fact that poor immigrants actually under—consume welfare compared to poor Americans). In essence, voters hold back the expansion of those programs based on the belief that immigrants may take advantage of them. As Paul Krugman aptly observed, “Absent those [immigration] restrictions, there would have been many claims, justified or not, about people flocking to America to take advantage of [New Deal] welfare programs.”

As the late labor historian (and immigration restrictionist) Vernon M. Briggs Jr. wrote, “This era [of immigration restrictions] witnessed the enactment of the most progressive worker and family legislation the nation has ever adopted.” None of those programs would have been politically possible to create amidst mass immigration. Government grows the fastest when immigration is the most restricted, and it slows dramatically when the borders are more open.

Even Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels thought that the prospects for working class revolution in the United States were diminished due to the varied immigrant origins of the workers who were divided by a high degree of ethnic, sectarian, and racial diversity. That immigrant-led diversity may be why the United States never had a popular workers, labor, or socialist party.

The most plausible argument against liberalizing immigration is that immigrants will worsen our economic and political institutions, thus slowing economic growth and killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. Fortunately, the academic and policy literature does not support this argument and there is some evidence that immigration could actually improve our institutions. Even the best argument against immigration is still unconvincing.

13. “The brain drain of smart immigrants to the United State impoverished other countries.”

The results of the empirical evidence on this point are conclusive: The flow of skilled workers from low-productivity countries to high-productivity nations increases the incomes of people in the destination country, enriches the immigrant, and helps (or at least doesn’t hurt) those left behind. Furthermore, remittances that immigrants send home are often large enough to offset any loss in home country productivity by emigration. In the long run, the potential to immigrate and the higher returns from education increase the incentive for workers in the Developing World to acquire skills that they otherwise might not – increasing the quantity of human capital. Instead of being called a brain drain, this phenomenon should be accurately called a skill flow.

Economic development should be about increasing the incomes of people not the amount of economic activity in specific geographical regions. Immigration and emigration do just that.

14. “Immigrants will increase crowding, harm the environment, and [insert misanthropic statement here].”

The late economist Julian Simon spent much of his career showing that people are an economic and environmental blessing, not a curse. Despite his work, numerous anti-immigration organizations today were funded and founded to oppose immigration because it would increase the number of high-income Americans who would then harm the environment more. Yes, seriously – just read about John Tanton who is the Johnny Appleseed of modern American nativism.

Concern about crowding is focused on publicly provided goods or services – like schools, roads, and heavily zoned urban areas. Private businesses don’t complain about crowding, they expand to meet demand which increases their profits. If crowding was really an issue then privatizing government functions so they have an incentive to rapidly meet demand is a cheap and easy option. Even if the government doesn’t do that, and I don’t suspect they will in the near future, the problems of crowding are manageable because more immigrants also mean a larger tax base. Reforming or removing local land use laws that prevent development would also go a long way to alleviating any concerns over crowding.

Although we should think of these issues on the margin, would you rather be stuck with the problems of crowding like they have in Houston or the problem of not enough crowding like in Detroit?

15. “Some races and ethnic groups are genetically inferior. They need to be prevented from coming here, breeding, and decreasing America’s good ethnic stock.”

These arguments were more popular a century ago when notions of eugenics and racism were widely believed, based on extraordinarily bad research, and were some of the main arguments for passage of the Immigration Act of 1924. They have resurfaced in the comment sections of some blogs and on twitter, frequently directed at yours truly, but these types of arguments still aren’t publicly aired very often and are quite silly. I don’t spend time engaging with them but I had to mention that they are still out there.

There are other arguments that people use in opposition to immigration. Many of those arguments revolve around issues of “fairness” – a word with a fuzzy meaning that differs dramatically between people and cultures. Arguments about fairness often depend on feelings and, usually, a misunderstanding of the facts that is quickly corrected by reference to my 8th point above.

The Stench of Raw Propaganda

Damn, I love the title of Paul Craig Roberts' post so much that I used it myself!  The Stench of Raw Propaganda: [the forgotten history of the origins of ISIS - emphasis is mine]

I just heard the rawest kind of propaganda from former presstitute David Satter, who hangs out at the right-wing Hudson Institute and pretends to be an expert on Russia and Putin. On August 10 Satter told NPR’s audience that Washington’s hope to bring peace to Syria would fail unless Washington understood that the Russian government had no humanitarian feelings and did not care about the loss of human life. What Washington needs to do, said Satter, was to make sure that Putin and his henchmen understood that they would be held accountable as war criminals.

I should be hardened by now, but it never fails to astonish me that agents for the elite are willing to tell the most blatant and transparant lies. Perhaps this is because they know that the media and their fellow bought-and-paid-for “experts” will not challenge them on their statements. In fact, this is the way explanations are controlled and history rewritten.

Perhaps everyone has already forgotten that when Washington’s plan to invade Syria was blocked by the UK Parliament and Russian diplomacy, Washington sent the forces used against Gaddafi in Libya to overthrow Assad in Syria where they emerged as ISIS and commit extraordinary atrocities.

As ISIS was serving Washington’s purpose, Washington took no action against them. After a couple of years of death and destruction suffered by Syrians, the Russian government lost its patience and backed the Syrian Army with air power. Soon ISIS was defeated and on the run.

Washington was caught in a bind. In Iraq Washington was fighting ISIS, because ISIS was overthrowing Washington’s puppet in Iraq. However, in Syria Washington was supporting ISIS, often characterizing ISIS as “moderates” fighting to bring democracy to Syria. Now that ISIS is on the verge of total defeat in Syria, Washington’s whores among the “experts” want Russia punished for blocking Washington’s overthrow of Syria.

In the 21st century the numerous war crimes are all accounted for by the US and Israel. These crimes were enabled by the EU which provided cover for the official lies, such as Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and Iranian nukes, that were used by Washington for its unprovoked aggressions that have destroyed in whole or part seven countries.

Real experts have integrity, and these experts want the Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama regimes tried for their war crimes. I think David Satter should be in the dock with them.

What Happens To Olympic Sites After The Games ....

... isn't pretty.  Enjoy Rio's Olympic Venues Now.  In A Few Years, They Will Be In Ruins.  Nick Gillespie is right on point in this one!

Quote of the Day

"The main difference between capitalism and socialism is this: Capitalism works." - Professor Mark J. Perry, Why Socialism Always Fails

Just About Covers It (How Progressives Love Only Power)

From An excellent post from Professor Mark J. Perry, Some Ride-Sharing Links: (be sure to open and read the entire post)


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Nutrition 101

Great starting point for a new repository on nutrition.  Be sure to check out Health 101: Health, Exercise and Medicine and Mindfulness too]

All new updates are marked as NEW (be sure to scroll):


Let's start off by debunking the myths that are killing us:






 

Always A Must Read:  Are some diets “mass murder”? Note: YES, especially those that promote low-fat consumption!  See other "Always A Must Read" below, on the same subject.


Always A Must Read:  The Last Anti-Fat Crusaders  And WHO are the last of these crusaders? The government.  Crony-capitalism KILLS.





CALORIES
All You Need To Know About Calories:








 Concerning Study: High-Fructose Corn Syrup More Toxic than Sugar, Reduces Lifespan
[Note: This is just nasty shit, so keep away from it. Know this too: one of the primary reasons for the increased use of HFCS is our nation's sugar lobby which receives subsidies from the USG in order to keep production low, resulting in the US paying some of the world's highest prices for sugar.  Translation: Your government is killing you.]


Is Sugar Really Just as Addictive as Cocaine? 
[Note:  Though the piece doesn't mention HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), it should be considered the same as sugar, if not worse.  Nice infographic]

John Yudkin: The Man Who Tried to Warn us About Sugar 
[1.5hr video in the article is worth the time.  Sugar is a killer, plain and simple; followed by wheat] 


Common ingredient is worse than salt for blood pressure

5 Things That Happen if You Quit Sugar for Life

 What If You Could Prevent Alzheimer’s?   [yes ... sugar and HFCS] 

How to Lose Weight by Identifying Hidden Sugars in Your Diet  Disclosure: I firmly believe that the ONLY way to lose weight it to eliminate sugar.





FASTING


Fasting A Couple Days A Week Could Help You Lose Weight





 KETOSIS

  The Fat Burning Brain: What Are the Cognitive Effects of Ketosis?

The ketogenic diet: high fat, high hopes

Is Constant Ketosis Necessary – Or Even Desirable?

The Keto Diet: Health Benefits Beyond Weight Loss



A Little Bit of Everything Else


82% Fat Diet! It's Not the Fat That's Killing Us, It's the Carbs!!!

24 Diagrams To Help You Eat Healthier

Not Eating this Green Superfood? You’re Crazy [Note: it's avocados!]


Foods and Other Lifestyle Factors That Will Shorten Your Lifespan

5 of the Hottest Healing Foods of 2014 [Note: for #3, the best is 86% cacao]


Eat chocolate to boost your memory and avocado for high cholesterol

8 True Benefits of Drinking Coffee You Didn’t Know About

15 Reasons You Should Be Drinking Lemon Water Every Morning


Top 9 Anti-aging Antioxidants  Disclosure: I take Resveratrol and Alpha-lipoic acid daily. 

This Mineral Found to Reduce ‘All Cause Mortality’ Dramatically


6 Awesome Health Benefits of Coffee  and 10 Superfoods You Can Add to Your Coffee

Eating These 3 ‘Fatty’ Foods Can Make You Thinner

8 Impressive Health Benefits of Turmeric

My Top 5 Superfoods

Our Secret Weapon: The Green Drink

Study: Eating High-Fat Dairy Lowers Type 2 Diabetes Risk

12 Signs You Need to Eat More Protein

What’s the Deal with Fiber? 

Breakfast—Not the Most Important Meal After All... 

Butter Is Back—Processed Foods Are Identified as Real Culprits in Heart Disease

10 Reasons Green Tea Is The Healthiest Drink In The World

Top 10 Destructive Nutrition Lies Ever Told

Not All Carbs Are Bad: How You Can Tell the Difference

4 Foods That Have Surprising Medicinal Benefits

Study Shows That Coconut Oil Can Help Reduce Belly Fat

10 Shocking Facts About Processed Food

Four Great Fat Rich Foods To Start Adding To Your Diet

High-Carb Diet May Increase Your Risk of Dementia

The Health Benefits of Coconut Flour • A Gluten-Free Flour Substitute


5 Lies About Healthy Food That Are Making You Fat  [your body needs fat; plenty of it! Same with cholesterol.  Please, read the following books: Wheat Belly; Grain Brain]

7 Foods For Teeth That Your Dentist Wants You To Eat More Often  [not so sure about #6, as any sweetener will trip insulin production to some degree. I'm still researching this!]

10 Surprising Benefits of Walnuts You May Not Know About


18 food replacement hacks worth giving a shot

7 Unexpected Ingredients You Might Eating For Lunch Today

15 Best Anti-Aging Foods You Need To Start Eating Now [Note: I'd say '14' ... be careful about #3: stay away from wheat! And, I'm not on board with the 'anti-aging' - they're just good foods]

All Salt is Not Equal

10 Amazing Benefits of Oolong Tea You Didn’t Know

Supplement Alert: Antioxidants May Protect Cancer Cells Instead Of Protecting Us From Them  [note: key word here is "may" ... more studies need to be conducted, and, the raw data and methodology for THIS study needs to be peer reviewed as well]

The Benefits of Coconut Oil

6 Things You Need To Know About Protein

How To Win An Argument With A Nutritionist

The Top Foods That Lead To Inflammation–Avoid These At All Costs

7 Super Foods That Will Make You Live Longer

8 Foods that Speed Up Ageing While Promoting Sickness:
4. Artificial sweeteners are worse than sucrose. Ignore the aspartame and diet soda trap, too. You should actually avoid all sodas, including diet soda. Aspartame is a neuron excitoxin that can excite brain cells to death, putting you in the fast lane to dementia or even brain cancer.