It is the Labor Market Stupid

January 5, 2014

Why Democrats will not address the real cause of income inequality.

I am hopeful that the public and our political class are coming to terms with income inequality in America and the harm it is doing to our economy and society.  At the same time, I am disappointed in the response by my party, the Democratic Party, to overreaching economic issues of our time.

While raising the minimum wage would do more good than harm, simply raising the minimum wage would help too few people, too little, and could create inequities of its own.  More importantly, the minimum wage is a placebo, a distraction from the real labor market forces at work that are bringing the ideal of America as a broad base middle class national, to a close.

Our government over the last 30 years has pursued policies by way of trade agreements, cheap foreign labor embedded in the goods imported to the US and an immigration policy of non-enforcement to increase the supply of labor in the United States.  Globalization has been an abject failure for the American middle class.  When President Clinton supported NAFTA he sold out to a corporate establishment and took the Democratic Party’s labor market policy 180 degrees in the wrong direction.

Increasing the supply of labor into the US market has had a predictable, and for some, a desired result.  While corporate profits are at record highs the value of labor in the market has been diminished to the point where a full time job no long provides a place in the middle class.

For a party that holds the moral high ground on so many important issues, it sickens me to see Democrats pandering to foreign nationals who have intentionally broken our immigration law in order to gain an electoral advantage, and to a corporate establishment that is willing to put short term profits above the economic interest of their employees and their own customers.

It is my New Year wish that the Democratic Party will set aside the interest of foreign nationals and big campaign contributors and return to their core values of supporting a strong and prosperous middle-class.

Please like the Facebook Page: Democrats Against Amnesty   https://www.facebook.com/pages/Democrats-Against-Amnesty/152334804799707?ref=br_tf


Findlay and Hancock County Government Squanders Eighty Thousand Dollar

September 10, 2013

Despite their conservative rhetoric and pledges to be good stewards of public money, our local government has completely wasted eighty thousand dollars.  By using public grant money to tear down a Main St. building on behalf of an owner, Taurus Capital Management, who should have been held accountable for the condition of their property, the Hancock County Commissioners have allowed the Findlay City Government an easy out.

Over the course of years, the Mayor, the Findlay Law Director and City Council through incompetence, laziness or lack of intestinal fortitude have failed to hold Taurus Capital management accountable for the condition of their building.  By using the Moving Ohio Grant money for this purpose, the citizens of Hancock County have incurred $80,000 opportunity costs.  As many as eight residential properties, for which there is no owner to hold accountable, could have been cleared up in neighborhoods across Hancock County.

I personally called each County Commissioner, the final authority on the application of this grant, to express my concerns.  I had a face-to-face meeting with Commissioner Robertson who explained to me that the city had the means to hold Taurus Capital Management accountable but because the City Administration had moved forward with an agreement with Taurus Capital Management, that avenue was no longer available.

I will leave it to Commissioner Robertson to fill in the details of why the Commissioners agreed to let this misuse of public money occur.  But if you live in a neighborhood affected by an abandoned property, you deserve a full explanation from each elected official in Hancock and Findlay city government as to why a commercial property owner benefits while you suffer.

Also see Editorial in the Findlay Courier: http://www.thecourier.com/opinion/editoral/2013/Sep/04/ar_ed_090413.asp?d=090413,2013,Sep,04&c=e_0


Sen. Sherrod Brown, Time to Get Right with Middle Class

June 12, 2013

Why Does Sen. Brown Support Amnesty?

After reading Sen. Sherrod Brown’s book Why American Trade Policy Has Failed: Myths of Free Trade I was heartened to read that I am not the only Democrat that feels President Clinton’s support of NAFTA took America 180 degrees in the wrong direction when it comes to our trade policy.

But I am disappointed that Sen. Brown supports amnesty.  Some years ago, I remember a prominent democrat (if you know who it was, please drop me an e-mail) say that “free trade and illegal immigration are two sides of the same coin”.

Our trade relationship with China (and others) is sucking this country dry.  The total lack of immigration enforcement is simply allowing US companies to in-source workers to undercut wages and benefits for jobs that cannot ship overseas.

I am left to hope, without much hope, that the Democratic Party will get right with the American middle class working family and face up to the real issue face our country and save the American economy.


Mayor Mihalik: Show Us The Numbers

April 19, 2013

City of Findlay Says Findlay Fire Department EMS Service Not Cost Effective

The events in Boston and West, Texas remind us that emergency services are critical to the safety and security of our City.  While the City of Findlay can count on support from outside of our community, when that call comes in and the clock starts ticking, the protection of lives and property will depend on the resource that the City of Findlay provides.

We must look for efficiencies to provide the best service at the lowest possible cost.  One idea that has been talked about is a plan that would allow the Findlay Fire Department to take over EMS services.  It would seem that some duplication of effort could be eliminated and efficiencies gained if the FFD would provide EMS services to our community.

I called two of our city council member to see if any thought was being given to this idea.  It was suggested that I call the Service/Safety Director Paul Schmelzer.  In my conversation with Mr. Schmelzer I asked if there had been any analysis on the idea of allowing the FFD to handle EMS calls.  I was informed by Mr. Schmelzer that despite the fact that a private company is able to provide EMS services and despite the fact that the Ohio Performance Audit has shown that Findlay is outside the norm by outsourcing EMS, it would cost Findlay in the neighborhood of one million dollars per year above what could be collected from insurance billing to provide EMS services.

When I pressed Mr. Schmelzer on the details, I was not convinced that thorough analysis had been performed.  Mr. Schmelzer assured me that he could stand by his number.  When I ask Mr. Schmelzer to make his analysis public, I did not get a clear answer to that request.  A call to Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik was not returned.

With an election just around the corner, I would again ask the administration to make public their reasoning and numbers in regard to their decision not to transition EMS service to the Findlay Fire Department.  I feel that Findlay could benefit from open debate of this important issue.


Is Senator Jeff Session The Only Politician Looking Out for Working Families?

April 18, 2013

Senator Jeff Sessions R-Ala. released the following statement on the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform proposal:

The bill produced by the Gang of Eight is nearly 1,000 pages long and will impact every aspect of our society and every single American worker and taxpayer. It will take months—not days or weeks as the Majority proposes—to review this legislation.

Already, we know that the bill’s sponsors have abandoned their core promise to the American people that enforcement would come first. This bill is legalization first, not enforcement first. The day the bill passes there will be effective amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, with only the same promises we have heard before of enforcement to occur at some later date. That amnesty will then become official in a matter of months—once DHS merely submits a plan for border security in the future. That’s not a trigger—that’s the honor system. DHS develops the metrics and DHS decides when those metrics are met. Why should we trust DHS to follow through—after amnesty is granted—when this administration has aggressively defied those laws already in place?

In recent years interior enforcement has been significantly undermined. And yet our interior enforcement needs are almost totally neglected in the Gang’s proposal. Alarmingly, the bill leaves intact the single greatest obstacle to immigration reform: the Administration’s abuse of prosecutorial discretion to prevent the enforcement of federal law. It will also provide safe harbor to those who have committed a variety of offenses—ranging from identity theft, to multiple immigration violations, and even those with criminal records.

This bill opens up citizenship to recent arrivals and, remarkably, millions who overstayed their visas. If adopted, this bill would send the following message to the world: if you get a U.S. visa and it expires, never leave—just stay put and evade detection. It even opens up citizenship to those who have been deported from the country.

Economic concerns abound as well. Once illegal immigrants are granted green cards, they will become eligible for generous welfare and entitlement programs. Because of how these benefits are structured, low-wage illegal immigrants who are legalized will ultimately receive trillions more in benefits than they contribute to these programs. Obamacare alone, over the long term, will see its unfunded liability grow by $2 trillion. The unfunded obligation for Medicare and Social Security, together, would likely increase by $2.5 trillion.

Most importantly, this proposal would economically devastate low-income American citizens and current legal immigrants. It will pull down their wages and reduce their job prospects. Including those legalized, this bill would result in at least 30 million new foreign workers over a 10-year period—more than the entire population of the state of Texas. This at a time when 90 million Americans are outside the labor force and a record number of our citizens are on welfare.

As with 2007, this entire process has been marred from the beginning by allowing special interests to place their priorities above the national interest. Instead of spending months courting the support of big business and labor bosses in Washington, the Gang’s first meeting should have been with the immigration enforcement officers who know the flaws in our system better than anyone. And before proposing a dramatic increase in the number of low-skill foreign workers, they should have met with experts about how this would hurt struggling Americans.

Has Congress forgotten who it represents? Congress’ duty is to the American people. I believe it is going to be clearly established that this plan will be detrimental to working Americans—and will not pass. What Congress needs to understand is that our obligation is to law-abiding Americans who have seen their wages erode over the last decade. We can’t further weaken their financial position in order to provide more benefits to those here unlawfully.

I understand the hard work that went into this bill. But as we explore its many flaws and loopholes in the coming days, I am confident the American public will firmly reject it—and will demand reform that puts the national interest first.


Illegal Immigrant: Defending the Term

April 8, 2013

In the wake of the Associated Press decision to drop the use of “illegal Immigrant” from their Stylebook, I have reviewed my use of the language in this blog.  Here is my conclusion.

The term “illegal immigrant” may not be the perfect solution, as reasonable shorthand to refer to a foreign national present in the United States in violation of immigration laws, but it is far better than the alternative that is being provided: “undocumented immigrant”.

Jonathan Rosa, an assistant professor of Linguistic Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, believes that “immigrant” defines someone who is a legal permanent resident.

A group of 24 scholars, led by Rosa, put out a statement last week arguing that “illegal immigrant” should not be the preferred phrasing because it’s imprecise and frames the debate in narrow terms. “It is baffling to think that [The New York Times] would suggest ‘illegal immigrant’ is accurate and neutral,” Rosa said in an interview with ABC/Univision. “The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act defines immigrants as people who have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence, so “legal immigrant” is a redundant concept and ‘illegal immigrant’ is oxymoronic,” he noted. 1

By this reasoning, the term “undocumented immigrant” would imply that a person is legally present in the United States but for a missing piece of documentation.  This shorthand does not convey the full nature of a foreign national present in the United States in violation of immigration laws.

I would prefer the term “illegal alien”.  From a legal stand point, it is more correct and it would end the confusion regarding the word “immigrant”.  Unfortunately, we have dropped the word “space” for the term “space alien” so in common usages “alien” refers to a creature from outer space.  I would concede that this renders that term dehumanized, not because it is technically incorrect, but because of our cultural vocabulary deficiency.  I have discontinued the use of the term “illegal alien”.

Key here though is not the word “immigrant” but the word “illegal”.  The movement pushing the term “undocumented “ to describe a person, or to discuss the body of persons in the United States in violation of US immigration law, is not about replacing an imperfect term, it is all about scrubbing the word “illegal” from the discussion.

So, why not “illegal immigrant”?  Some feel that the term “illegal immigrant” is offensive.   Advocates for “undocumented” say that groups have the right to self-identity.  I would agree that racial, ethnic groups have that right to self-identity and have the right to change that identifier as they see fit.  But illegal immigrants are not a racial or ethnic group.  An illegal immigrants’ only common element is their illegal presence in the United States.  I can understand that someone in the United States, in violation of immigration law or someone who cared about a person who is in violation of US immigration law, would be uncomfortable with the word “illegal”.  But can you maintain your journalistic integrity while backing away from a clear and powerful language because some are not uncomfortable with the clear meaning that it conveys?  Undocumented is less powerful, it is less offensive and it is also less clear.

The other objection to the term “illegal immigrant” suggests that a person cannot be “illegal” and we should only use “illegal” to describe an illegal action.  One common example given is that you would not call a jaywalker an “illegal walker”.

“If we talk about a child who skips school, we don’t say he’s an illegal student,” Santa Ana said in reference to truancy laws. “We call a person who crosses the street illegally a jaywalker, not an illegal walker.” Linguists George Lakoff and Sam Ferguson suggest in their 2006 paper “The Framing of Immigration”2

This reasoning fails to recognize the continuous nature of one’s immigration status or citizenship.  A jaywalker is only a jaywalker while they are crossing the street improperly.  An illegal immigrant is in a constant state of violation of US immigration law.

The New York Times style guide maintains that “undocumented” is a “euphemism”.  I agree with the assessment.  I hope that The New York Times will stand by that clear statement of journalistic principle.

Immigration activist Jose Antonio Vargas’ campaign to replace “illegal” with “undocumented”, which is largely responsible for the reassessment and change to the AP Stylebook, is not about clarity but about shifting the conversation away from the fact that millions of foreign nationals are present in the United States in violation of immigration laws.  Jose Antonio Vargas is making a moral argument that anyone should be able to become a United States Citizen.  He believes that the millions of illegal immigrants are not in fact illegal but have simply not yet received the legal recognition and legal documents to which they are morally entitled.

While discussing as a group of foreign nationals present in the United States in violation of immigration laws, I will continue to use the short hand term “illegal immigrants” I feel it conveys, in the most direct way, the nature of their immigration status.

Individuals who are subject to immigration law enforcement action will be referred to as “alleged illegal immigrants”.

The subset of illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children will be referred to, when the context of the story merits a deeper understanding of their immigration reality, as “Dreamers” or “children who were brought to the United States in violation of immigration law”.

This brings me full circle back to Jose Antonio Vargas.  Mr. Vargas would like us to call him an undocumented immigrant; someone who lacks a document to legitimize his legal status.   I cannot do that.  It just does not express the reality of his immigration status.  If Mr. Vargas is offended by my use of language, I can only say that I am offended by millions of foreign nationals who have knowingly, and with intent, disregarded the immigration laws of the United States of America.

1) http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/linguists-york-times-illegal-neutral-accurate/story?id=17366512#.UVzChVeRcxD

2) http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/linguists-york-times-illegal-neutral-accurate/story?id=17366512&page=2#.UV2SV1eRcxA


Jose Antonio Vargas: The Moral Argument for Unlimited Immigration

March 29, 2013

Jose Antonio Vargas is a journalist and immigration activist who has taken on the cause of the “Dreamers”, children brought to America, in violation of our immigration law, at a young age , who were able to avoid enforcement long enough to become integrated into American society and have a sense that America is their country.  Mr. Vargas, himself, came to the United States at age 12 and remained in the United States without legal status.

I am sympathetic to the dreamers; I would like to see provisions in the immigration law to provide legal status to these children caught in a nether world of their parent’s illegal actions and a federal government that is unwilling to enforce our immigration laws.

But, when you take a deep look at Mr. Vargas’ movement and philosophy we find that he is not talking about the one time fix for the immigration system that has been allowed to devolve out of control.  Mr. Vargas is extolling a notion that for any parent who can manage to get his/her child inside the United States and if that child can avoid enforcement for an unspecified length of time, this child is entitled to legal status.

While Mr. Vargas’ “Define American” web site is long on emotional appeals it is short on a real discussion of immigration policies, particularly how we enforce our immigration laws,  Mr. Vargas’ concept of a “21st Century Underground Railroad” is a call to American citizen’s to facilitate the presence of young illegal immigrants in the United States until they can claim citizenship by moral fiat.

Indeed, mine is a story about the heart and compassion of the 21st Century Underground Railroad: American citizens helping new American immigrants as we strive for full citizen rights. My teachers, school administrators, mentors and friends were all part of my “Railroad.” They are the chief reason I’m able to tell you my story.

Mr. Vargas seems willing to take advantage of our sense of fair play and compassion for young people to manipulate our immigration policy, giving power and control of our immigration policy to those willing to break our immigration laws.

I also take issue with his assertion that there is a parallel moral equivalency between an underground railroad for slaves and illegal immigrants.  Not being enslaved is a fundamental human right, there is no basic right of immigration.

As Mr. Vargas seeks to define who is an American, I hear him saying that anyone can simply declare oneself an American.  Mr. Vargas seems to be putting forward a moral imperative that sweeps all other consideration aside, that anyone who wants to be an American is entitled to be American.  Mr. Vargas, and many others, are making a moral argument for unlimited immigration.


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