The Immigration Reform American Workers Deserve

February 23, 2016

Democrats have wholeheartedly taken up the issue of income inequality and stagnant real wages of working class families.  Bernie Sanders has criticized our current trade policy; making it a centerpiece of his campaign. He does not support the purposed TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) trade agreement.

Here in Ohio, Sen. Sherrod Brown has been a longtime opponent of “free trade”.  Former Gov. Ted Strickland, who has a good chance of unsetting Sen. Rob Portland (r) in the upcoming election, is also campaigning against trade deals that put Ohio workers in direct competition with cheap foreign labor and sends Ohio jobs overseas.

What does it matter if we send American jobs overseas for foreign labor to fill or we bring foreign labor into the U.S.?  This is the disconnect of progressive economic labor policy.

In the relatively recent past, prominent liberals agreed that rapidly expanding the labor pool by bringing in millions of immigrants was not in the best interests of working Americans. Labor union leaders and civil rights luminaries, for a century right through President Bill Clinton, supported reducing the number of work permits for foreign laborers. They understood that such a move would spur wage growth and expand job opportunities for Americans.

A 1995 congressional commission, chaired by the charismatic civil rights leader and Democratic Texas congresswoman Barbara Jordan, recommended limiting immigration to 550,000 individuals a year. President Clinton praised the recommendation as a “balanced immigration policy that . . . protect[s] the American work force.”

There is no good reason to continue giving out one million new lifetime work permits every year, supporting guest worker programs and having a permissive attitude towards illegal immigration when over 15 million native and immigrant Americans already here are currently unable to find full-time jobs.

From 1924 to 1965, America sharply scaled back the number of immigrants it accepted. Without competition from a large pool of foreign-born laborers, American workers were better able to unionize and demand improved wages and benefits.

The share of income going to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans dropped from 43 percent in 1924 — the year lower immigration quotas were implemented — to less than 32 percent in 1965 — the year the quotas were replaced with the current immigration system.

The post-1965 influx of workers helped freeze wages. In fact, inflation-adjusted wages have actually declined over the last forty years. The average worker in 1973 earned a higher real wage than the average worker does today.

Economists have concluded that high levels of immigration are partially responsible for wage stagnation. Harvard professor George Borjas, an immigrant himself, has shown that expanding the size of any working cohort — as defined by age or education — by 10 percent through immigration reduces the wages of all native-born folks in that group by 2.5 percent. The effect on native-born men is even greater — a decline in wages of 3.7 percent.

For Americans without a high school degree, the wage losses are even more pronounced — about $1,200 for the years between 1990 and 2010.

Immigrants themselves are not at fault. The overwhelming majority of immigrants are industrious people who work hard. It is just that in America, hard work often is not rewarded.  The strongest work ethic in the world cannot defeat the law of supply and demand. The more workers who need a job, the less employers have to pay to attract employees.

Our leaders have the power to stop this economic race to the bottom and boost wage growth. Scaling back the pace at which our nation admits new laborers from abroad would help disadvantaged immigrants who are already here. It would take job-market realities into account and give native and immigrant American workers the leverage to win back the wages and benefits they’ve lost over decades.

America has been and must continue to be a nation that does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or national origin, but there’s no need to bring in one million permanent immigrants every year, allow guest worker programs, on top of illegal immigration when current residents cannot find good-paying jobs.

If progressive candidates are serious about standing up for American workers, they must consider greatly reducing the number of foreign laborers who have access to the American labor market through trade policy and immigration policy.


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 the 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 is bringing the idea of America as a broad-based 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, the 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 longer 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 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


Lydia Leads, Epic Fail 2, The Campaign Pledge

November 16, 2012

The Courier Editorial Board has already addressed the long list of failures of the Mayor and Findlay City Council in their effort to make permanent the increase in the city income tax.  But the Courier did not mention the Mayor Mihalik’s biggest failure, the campaign pledge during her race for Mayor that the City of Findlay did not need to make the temporary ¼% income tax increase permanent.

The Courier was dead wrong when they wrote “Most people will accept her about-face”.  The Courier can apologize all they want for the Mayor’s flawed judgment.  Politicians need to be held accountable for the promises they make in “the heat of a campaign”.  It seems clear that Mayor Mihalik’s campaign pledge casted a long shadow over the effort to pass the income tax renewal.  The Mayor’s campaign pledge set up unrealistic expectations in the minds of her voters, it diminished her credibility once she did her homework and faced the reality of Findlay’s fiscal problems.

Mayor Mihalik was the only candidate for mayor to promise not to seek a renewal of the income tax.  All of the other candidates looked at the same facts and came to this same conclusion; the tax increase was necessary, not an easy thing to say for anyone running for office.  Was the Mayor’s campaign position based purely on ideology, was it her ego that drove her to believe she could simply outsmart the problem or was she simply unable or unwilling to back off a campaign pledge that give her an advantage in her run for the mayor’s office?

Whatever the reason, Mayor Mihalik’s failed judgment has done real damage to the City of Findlay.  So now Mayor Mihalik needs to put forward a plan to fix it.  Time for Lydia to lead!

See Findlay Courier Editorial “Defeated” here: http://www.thecourier.com/opinion/editoral/2012/Nov/08/ar_ed_110812.asp?d=110812,2012,Nov,08&c=e_0

See Findlay Courier Editorial “About Face” here: http://www.thecourier.com/opinion/editoral/2012/Jul/05/ar_ed_070512.asp?d=070512,2012,Jul,05&c=e_0


Findlay Performance Audit: Be the First to Read it Here

October 23, 2012

Be the first to read the completed City of Findlay 2012 Performance Audit.

City_of_Findlay_12_Performance_Hancock


Open Letter to the Findlay Rotary Club: Political Preference

September 25, 2012

In May of this year, after reading that Rep. Sprague had addressed the Findlay Rotary Club, I contacted the Rotary to see if there would be interest in letting John Kostyo, who was a declared candidate running against Rep. Sprague for a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives, also address their membership.

I received a call from Lynn Child, the program director for the Rotary Club. Ms. Child informed me that it was the policy of the club not to permit political candidates to promote their campaigns and issues.  Guest speakers are to provide educational presentations like pending legislation.  I replied that Mr. Kostyo was more than able to play by their ground rules.  I was then informed that Mr. Kostyo was welcome to address the membership, but the earliest date open for a speaker was in December.

After reading the story in today’s (Sept 25th) Findlay Courier “Latta Unsure if Tax Cuts Will Continue”, I feel the campaign for John Kostyo and the public deserves some clarification of the policies of the Findlay Rotary Club in regard to political speakers.  It would seem to me that any talk by any politician, officeholder or candidate is inherently political.  I would also call into question the timing of Rep. Latta address given that we are in the heart of the campaign season.

Let me be clear, the Findlay Rotary Club is a private club and it is well within their rights to invite any speaker at their discretion.  But if the Findlay Rotary Club wishes to present themselves as a public forum for the benefit of the City of Findlay and if the Findlay Courier is going to cover their meetings as a public forum, then it is my belief that the Findlay Rotary Club needs to provide the public and the press with a clear statement of policy in regard to political guest speakers.  It is my perception that the current policy, as expressed and executed, is being manipulated to give a political preference.

See Story in The Findlay Courier: http://www.thecourier.com/Issues/2012/Sep/25/ar_news_092512_story2.asp?d=092512_story2,2012,Sep,25&c=n


Undue Influence by Findlay Mayor on City’s Audit

September 8, 2012

Findlay Mayor, Lydia Mihalik, explained in an open letter to the residents of Findlay how her administration had an influence on the audit being performed on city operations by the Ohio State Auditor’s office.

The Mayor wrote, in part: “The State Auditor’s Report has not been finalized at this point. When taking office my administration reviewed the information that was being considered for the final report. After this review, we had questions relative to what a “peer” actually was, and then requested that Auditor Yost’s office re-evaluate their assessment.” (See the full text of the letter below.)

The question is, were the changes in the audit procedure reasonable or did the city administration exert undue influence on the audit process, thereby invalidating the independent nature of the audit.  The answer is, without 100% transparency, the public will never know.

What information did the Findlay City Administration review that caused such consternation that they felt the need to seek relief?  The public has the right to see, in detail, all of the information that passed between that audit team and the city administration.  Any documents, email exchanges, the nature and details of any conversations, should be made public immediately.  Also the original findings based on the original methodology of the audit should be made public with the final report.

Mayor Mihalik would have us believe that this kind of give and take between an audit team and the organization being audited is common place.  I find this to be a highly dubious assertion.  Regardless, the only way to maintain the integrity of this audit process is for the administration to provide detailed information, now rather than later, on what they found to be objectionable about the original audit procedure and for the public to have full knowledge of how the administration changed the audit methodology and how those changes influenced the outcome of the audit.

To the extent that the Mayor has influence over that audit, it would be in her and everyone’s best interest if the final report from the State Auditor’s office is released well in advance of the November election.

Complete text of Mayor Mihalik’s open letter:

Findlay Resident,There have been numerous questions and comments placed in several local publications regarding the ¼% income tax renewal and the way that we as a city conduct business. I fully expect that other opinions will be offered over the next 60 days, and my administration will do its best to respond and keep the public accurately informed. While I believe it is correct that little has been done to prepare for this situation, I disagree that we aren’t making strides towards a leaner and more productive government for our taxpayers. Here are the answers to a few questions that have been posed:The State Auditor’s Report has not been finalized at this point. When taking office my administration reviewed the information that was being considered for the final report. After this review, we had questions relative to what a “peer” actually was, and then requested that Auditor Yost’s office  re-evaluate their assessment. We did what any other business owner would do and requested a fair assessment. Not asking for additional work to be done in this audit is unfair to the process and would not yield productive ideas on how to reduce the size of our government. Instead, we feel that this information will be valuable and will be a true representation of our needs. This report is not completed and, therefore, has not been shared with the public or other elected officials.Auditor Staschiak reported at the July 24, 2012, mid-year budget review that the City of Findlay’s employee count has decreased by 3 full time positions since my administration took office 9 months ago. We have instituted more seasonal and part time employees to reduce the amount of wages and overall burden on the general fund. My administration will continue to examine potential staffing efficiencies and what may be available through attrition.I have seen many comments in regards to the Hochstettler building that was purchased for the potential home of the Health Department. As it has been reported, we have had productive conversations with members of the District Advisory Council on a county wide health district. There are still many logistical aspects of the plan that need to be worked out. That being said, it would be a waste of taxpayer dollars to add additional money to update this facility, when we are unsure exactly where the Health Department will be located.It is clear that potential shared services must be evaluated to reduce costs and increase efficiencies in some cases. That is why we have collaborated through conversations with County and Township officials alike. The work with the District Advisory Council on a potential county wide health district is just one opportunity. Additionally, we have evaluated a potential consolidation of the City’s emergency notification system. Officials from both the City and County have met several times to evaluate the needs and resolve any concerns that may be present. Consolidating services is not something that can be completed overnight, and we will continue to look at opportunities in the future. Rest assured, we will continue evaluating potential shared services for all sectors of our local government.

In these challenging economic times, all city departments have been required to cut their respective budgets in light of our current financial situation. It is also apparent that we have not been growing other departments at the expense of others. Our capital needs are a priority but, as I have said many times, we do not have a clear plan for our capital needs. Developing such a plan will allow us to accurately assess these types of projects, which was discussed at length in nearly every meeting we attend. I believe that having an ad hoc committee dedicated to a solution for this problem will be beneficial for our entire community.

It should go without saying that my administration is not able to control every aspect of the past. We can, however, take responsibility for the situation that we are in and work together to fix it. If you have questions about how we operate or where we are headed, please contact my office at 419-424-7137 Monday- Friday 8:00am-5:00pm, or send me an email at mayor@findlayohio.com . I look forward to continuously working with members of our community as we seek to reform our local government to be efficient and effective for our residents.

Sincerely,

 

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Ever The Findlay Courier Wary Of Sprague Amendment

May 25, 2012

Even The Findlay Courier is “wary” of the Constitutional amendment put forward by Ohio State Rep. Robert Cole Sprague.  In an editorial appearing on May 16th, the Courier rejected Rep. Sprague’s support for the “National Debt Relief Amendment” saying in part “Requiring 50 legislatures to enter discussions on the federal budget would only make a bad situation worse”. Rep. Sprague, when The Courier takes sides against a Republican office holder it is time to wake up, smell the coffee and reconsider your support for this ill-advised idea.

Read the whole Courier Editorial here: http://www.thecourier.com/opinion/editoral/2012/May/16/ar_ed_051612.asp?d=051612,2012,May,16&c=e_0


Rep. Spraue’s Constitutional Craziness

May 23, 2012

At last week’s Findlay Rotary club, Rep. Robert Sprague put forward a proposed constitutional amendment that makes one question his fitness to represent the people for the 83rd district.  The National Debt Relief Amendment would give state legislatures the power to set our national debt limit.  How any legislator could believe for a second that this proposed amendment is in any way workable is beyond imagination.  This amendment would tear to shreds large sections of the United States Constitution.

Rep. Sprague also suggested that his constitutional amendment be put forward at a Constitutional Convention which might lead one to question his basic powers of reason.  Given our current level of political discourse, a constitutional convention could easily go off the rails, taking our nation spinning off into areas that are better left to a more reasoned political process.  Even Rep. Sprague seems to acknowledge these problems with his own proposal, yet he made it anyway.

It may make you feel better to know that Mr. Sprague did not dream up this nutty idea all on his own.    The National Debt Relief Amendment is the brainchild of the far right wing group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) funded by the mega rich like the Koch brothers.  ALEC is intent on making the US a tax free paradise for the one percent.  Rep. Sprague’s support for this harebrained idea raises the question: does Rep Sprague have the independent mind that we want from our representative?

Luckily for the voters of Findlay and the 83rd district, we do not need to put up with Rep. Sprague and his screwball ideas.  In this election, we have a real choice.  We can vote for a legislator who will put the needs and concerns of his constituents; the working families of Ohio, before the desires of a far rightwing special interest group bent on serving the one percent.

John Kostyo will work for you, to build an Ohio that works for you.  Robert Cole Sprague voted against firefighters, law enforcement officers and teachers.  Next time he will vote against you.  Don’t let that happen.  Vote John Kostyo this November!


Higher Local Taxes Thanks to Gov. Kasich and Rep. Sprague

March 28, 2012

Higher local taxes are in your future thanks to Governor Kasich and Representative Sprague.  The elimination of the Estate Tax will cost the City of Findlay about .8 million dollars a year in lost revenue.  That is about 3.3 % of the city’s annual budget.  It may not seem like much, but when you add to that the loss of other sources of state funding and the roll back of the quarter percent emergency city income tax, the city of Findlay is facing a $4.9 million shortfall for the year 2013.

Rep. Robert Sprague and The Courier acknowledge that local taxes are bound to go up, but they believe that trading state taxes for local taxes is a good deal for the citizens of Ohio and Findlay.  I fail to see how trading one tax for another makes Ohio more competitive.

For a Governor that has his sights set on a presidential run in 2016, cutting the Estate Tax is all gain and no pain.  Governor Kasich can stick a nice feather in his cap by cutting the Estate Tax, long the whipping boy of the Republican Party.  Then Kasich will let local governments and local tax payers make up the loss of revenue.  Cutting the Ohio Estate Tax will play well with the Republican base at the national level, but where does it leave the Ohio tax payer?

I would ask; are Ohio’s Republican lawmakers using this budget crisis not only to shift the burden from the State to the Local level, but more importantly to shift the total of our state and local revenues to a less progressive and a more regressive tax system?   Elimination of the Estate Tax is the keystone in the Republican plan to shift a greater tax burden from the wealthy to working families.

In an environment where the state government is pinching local government at both ends with decreased funding and increased unfunded mandates to close the state’s budget gap, cutting the Estate Tax and placing a high tax burden on working families, in favor of the wealthy, seems irresponsible and wholly unfair.

Courier Editorial “Unbalanced”: http://www.thecourier.com/opinion/editoral/2012/Mar/23/ar_ed_032312.asp?d=032312,2012,Mar,23&c=e_0

Courier Editorial “Balancing Act”: http://www.thecourier.com/opinion/editoral/2011/Jun/21/ar_ed_062111.asp?d=062111,2011,Jun,21&c=e_0


Rep. Sprague Supports Job Killing Regulation

February 6, 2012

Recently on the WFIN “Good Mornings” show with Chris Oaks, State Representative Robert Sprague-R stated that Ohio would have the world’s best regulation of the oil and natural gas drilling industry.  It would seem that Rep. Sprague did not get the memo from his Republican party that regulations kill jobs.  The GOP is right you know, regulations do kill jobs.

Take the oil and natural gas drilling industry, any regulation to protect the environment, whether to protect the water table or that restricts drilling operations in seismically unstable regions, will kill jobs.  It may make some wells too costly to operate or the added costs could put some marginal drilling companies out of business.  Whole sections of our state could be off limits to drilling because of the risk of seismic activity caused by drilling operations.  In all of these cases, jobs will be killed.

So, why would Rep. Sprague support regulating the oil and gas drilling industry?  Well, slogans like “Job killing regulation” may win votes, but slogans do not make for good public policy.  In the real world, government regulations protect consumers, the environment and regulations protect industry for itself.

The classic example of the government regulation that was at the foundation for a whole new industry is the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).  In 1926, the pioneers of civil aviation came to the federal government asking to be regulated.  They believed that without federal safety standards the public would never perceive flying to be safe enough to support civil aviation as a viable business.  The FAA and business worked together to build public confidence in civil aviation.

This is the lesson that Rep. Robert Sprague is trying to apply to the oil and nature gas drilling industry.  The market cannot regulate itself; the incentives run 180 degrees in the wrong direction.  In the long-term, effective government regulation is essential to a healthy marketplace.  The question for Rep. Sprague is, how can one be an effective legislator when you belong to the party that puts simple minded political slogans before sound public policy?  “GOP slogans kill good government”.


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