Thursday, June 22, 2017

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Atlanta

We just spent a week in Atlanta at the Rotary International Convention.  The event was wonderful with incredibly uplifting motivational stories, a mind-boggling display of service opportunities, and a chance to make new friends.  I could write whole post on Rotary, but will save that for another time.  I'm going to be installed as the President of the local chapter here in Rancho Bernardo on July 1st and I'm sure as I go through the year there will be plenty of opportunities to comment on this wonderful organization.

But beyond the convention itself and the many, many activities and events that we participated in, was the city of Atlanta.  I'd never spent much time there.  I think I've stayed overnight a few times while passing through and, of course, had been in the massive airport a ton of times.  It is one of, if not the, biggest airports in the world.  And I'm sure it's the busiest.  As a Delta hub, it is a crossroads for many, many flights every day.  And all in all my experience is that they are pretty efficient.

Atlanta, and beyond that Georgia, turned out to be a very pleasant surprise.  The city is clean, upbeat, the people are for the most part friendly, and it seems like the infrastructure works well.  The Governor of Georgia and the Mayor of Atlanta both spoke at the convention and they were very impressive.  The Mayor especially had a great message.  They are in the growth mode.  They've recognized that for their people to thrive and the city to provide the services required for this growth, they need to stimulate economic growth.  And they've done that in spades.

The Mayor told us that they are working hard on infrastructure and it showed.  There is a lot of building going on.  He also told us that they are working hard on the homeless problem and are getting a handle on that.  I don't remember the figures, but it was impressive.  And they have reduced the veteran homeless rate to near zero.  Near zero!  Imagine that.

We stayed downtown close to the Convention Center and it is incredibly vibrant.  The Convention Center is massive.  I read somewhere that it is the 2nd or 3rd largest in the country.  Rotary had 42,000 attendees and they handled it with ease.  Next door is the CNN center and it is a big draw.  Around the corner is the Georgia Dome, a great football stadium.  And next door to the Georgia Dome they are building a new state of the art stadium called the Mercedes Benz stadium.  And they are keeping the Georgia Dome!  Across the street from that is Phillips Arena, a new facility for the Atlanta Hawks basketball team.  Down the road is the new stadium for the Atlanta Braves, the newest baseball stadium in the country.

We ventured out to the suburbs for an event and there is growth everywhere.  There are several smaller business hubs that are thriving.  The bedroom community of Alpharetta where we went was just idyllic.  Beautiful countryside, affordable homes, great schools, and plenty of industry.

I'm not sure how they are doing it, but whatever they are doing, it's working.  I suspect it has to do with lower taxes and a favorable business environment.  It probably also has to do with minimal government regulations and minimal government meddling in people's lives.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Thoughts on Climate Change

I recently had a post that reflected on the U.S. leaving the Paris Climate Accords.  You can read it here but I am generally pleased with this outcome.  Since that action we've seen everything from general approval to concern to hysteria.  It's the hysteria that concerns me.  As I've said in previous posts, at some point the hysteria has to abate.  At some point the leftists and Socialists have to decide that they want to try and work to accomplish something, even if means compromise.  At least in my optimism I hope that happens.

A former Priest and good friend writes a weekly blog on a number of subjects.  He is a wise and thoughtful man.  He started life as a New York lawyer and that gives him a bit of a different perspective.  In retirement, he is back to practicing law and specializing in Immigration and God knows there's a lot of work in that area.  Copied below in it's entirety is his latest post on the Paris Accords.  I'm putting this up there because I think it's one the most balanced and pragmatic looks at this subject that I've ever seen.  I don't agree with everything he says, but I think he makes some great points.  If you're not of the religious persuasion, you'll probably not care or read the last section about a Christian response, but that's okay.  I'm a big fan of reasoned and logical thought.  That is what this piece is in spades.

Reflections on the Withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Accord

There was shock around the world at President Trump’s action to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. “World reacts to Trump’s move: ‘He’s declaring war on the planet’ said the Toronto Globe & Mail. Maureen Dowd of The New York Times put it none too subtly when she titled her article, “Trump Stomps Planet Earth.” Labeling President Trump “the existential threat to the planet,” she went on to say, “You know you’re in trouble when beclouded Beijing, where birds go to die, replaces you as the leader on climate change.”

Climate change is an emotional, contentious issue. Passions run high, whether you are an environmental activist in the Pacific Northwest or a coal miner in West Virginia.

There are, in my judgment, four possible responses to climate change. You can deny it, ignore it, manage it or try to prevent it.

To deny climate change defies the scientific evidence that temperatures are indeed rising with profound implications for our planet.

To ignore climate change is irresponsible, especially considering the massive population shifts that will result from droughts, famine, civil unrest and refugees fleeing their homelands.

To manage climate change makes sense if you believe that changing climate is part of the natural evolution of the planet and that human beings only have a limited ability to affect what inevitably will happen.

To prevent climate change by reducing carbon emissions is a worthy goal, even if that means significant changes to our present way of living.

The only two viable responses to climate change are to manage it proactively but also try to prevent or minimize its negative effects on the planet.

Thankfully, no one, not even President Trump, wants a sick planet, polluted air or massive numbers of people suffering from breathing disorders. Nor does anyone deny that earth’s temperatures are getting slightly warmer with rising ocean levels, glacial melts, intensified storms and more frequent droughts, which often affect the most vulnerable and poorest communities. Climate change is happening is – there is little doubt about it.

The Point of Contention

The issue that divides people is not whether the climate is changing, but how much of climate change is man-made due to carbon emissions in the atmosphere and how much is the result of the natural evolution of the planet. Since the beginning of life on earth, there has been climate change. There have been extremely cold periods – the Ice Age, for example – and there have been relatively hot periods such as during the age of the dinosaurs.

So climate change is not new, but since the industrial era human beings have affected the climate by carbon emissions in the atmosphere. As an example, in the first half of 2016 average temperatures were about 1.3 degrees Celsius (2.3 degree Fahrenheit) above the average in 1880, when global record-keeping began. The Paris Accord seeks to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. If countries begin to reduce their present levels of greenhouse emissions by lowering their reliance on fossil fuel, there is every reason to hope that the goal set by the Accord can be achieved.

And yet, those who are sceptical of the Paris Accord wonder if the carbon taxing, higher energy costs and perhaps a lower standard of living are worth the pain to achieve results that are unlikely to have much impact on the climate. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat wrote that those who question the Paris Accord “accept that the earth is warming and that our civilization’s ample CO2 emissions are a major cause. They doubt, however, that climate change represents a crisis unique among the varied challenges we face, or that the global regulatory schemes advanced to deal with it will work as advertised. And they raise an eyebrow at the contrast between the apocalyptic, absolutist rhetoric with which these schemes are regularly defended and their actual details, which seemed mostly designed to enable the globe’s statesmen to greenwash the pursuit of economic and political self-interest.”

The question is whether, “If every country does what the Paris Accord requires them to do, will the planet really be better off – and by how much?” And could the world achieve equally positive results by other means than by requiring sweeping carbon taxes and a full-fledged war on carbon fuels? Instead might it not be more beneficial to focus on innovation and mitigation – innovating existing technologies, developing new technologies and mitigating the effects of climate change to insure quality of life for everyone?

The Paris Accord

One of the fundamental problems with the Paris Accord is that there is no mandatory mechanism to insure the agreement is enforced by each country. Each country determines its own contribution it should make to mitigate global warming. There is no mechanism to force a country to set a specific target by a specific date. Nothing is binding in international law, since there is no obligatory language in the agreement. Nor is there any mechanism to force a country to set a realistic target and achieve it. One might say, as James Hansen, a former NASA scientist categorized it, that the Accord is filled with “promises” but “no firm commitments.”

The only mechanism in the Accord is the requirement that all countries report their progress every five years, with the first evaluation in 2023. What if a country has not met expectations? There is no penalty, just a “name and shame” system. As the agreement provides no consequences if countries fail to meet their commitments, that makes it increasingly difficult for the Accord to meet its laudable goals.

Given the non-mandatory nature of the Paris Accord, we may ask: “Why did President Trump make the decision to withdraw?” I think three reasons led to his decision.

First, politics played a role since Trump promised on the campaign trail to withdraw from the Accord. Trump can now say to his supporters that he fulfilled yet another campaign promise.

Second, Trump did not like that the Accord asks developed countries to commit $100 billion a year to a Green Climate Fund until 2025. This money would go to developing countries for actions on climate change, adaptation and mitigation. It was Trump’s view that the United States was already giving a substantial amount of money in foreign aid to developing countries.  Moreover, the President was concerned that the United States would end up funding a major portion of the $100 billion, a large amount of that money directed to China and India. In the President’s judgment, the money spent abroad could better be spent at home.

President Trump may be right. At this point, the United States has given $1 billion to the Green Climate Fund. No other nation has contributed anything. Given that the vast majority of NATO members do not pay their 2% fair share, is it reasonable to expect the world’s developed nations to pay their fair share into the Green Climate Fund? President Trump was fearful that the United States would end up carrying most of the burden, and in this he may be right.

Third, the Paris Accord has always been about the controlled distribution of economic wealth. The Green Climate Fund was just part of what was designed as a plan to transfer wealth from the developed to the developing countries. The “carbon-trading tax” was to be the fundamental financial instrument to reshape the economies of developed countries – a global tax on all people to control behavior and lifestyles through a market-based trade vehicle under U.N. exclusive control. To President Trump and his advisers, this carbon-trading tax would have disastrous consequences for the United States economy and subvert the national economic interests of the country.

In summary, President Trump could have left the Accord in place and ignored it – that would have been the politically expedient thing to do. However, in the scheme of things, the withdrawal of the United States from the Accord will not matter. The countries of the world, including the United States, will continue to move towards a greener, cleaner environment, but without the excessive regulations and carbon taxing envisioned by the Accord.

Let me share 6 reasons for being optimistic about the planet’s future. I also want to share 3 concerns in the transition to a greener, cleaner world.

Reasons for Optimism

First, despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord, the federal system in the United States guarantees that the nation will continue to promote environmental stewardship.  Most of the major cities in the United States have made the decision to abide by the goals of the Paris Accord. So have a number of states and major corporations in the country. Governor Jerry Brown of California, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York and Governor Jay Inslee of Washington have joined together to form the United States Climate Alliance. Major corporations have announced their intention to continue working for a greener planet, including General Electric, Mars, Disney; Tesla, Apple, and many others. Moreover, the United States is already more than halfway to the 2025 emissions reduction set by the Paris Accord, and even without carbon taxing there is a strong likelihood the nation will meet its goal.

Second, although some corporate executives have resigned from the President’s Council of Business Advisers over the withdrawal from the Paris Accord, most have chosen to remain on the Council as a voice for environmental stewardship. Most members of the President’s Council of Business Advisers have agreed to remain on the Council, not because they agree with the President’s action but as a voice for economic policies that are consistent with a cleaner, greener environment. Among the advisers remaining on the Council include Mary Barra of General Motors, Michael Dell of Dell Technologies, Alex Gursky of Johnson and Johnson, Andrew Liveris of Dow, Brian Krzanich of Intel, Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup, Doug McMillon of Walmart, Ginni Rometty of IBM, Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo, Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, Wendell Weeks of Corning, and Richard Trumka and Thea Lee of the A.F.L. – C.I.O. These advisers will help insure that business development and economic growth are consistent with environmental stewardship.

Third, American cities are moving aggressively

Fourth, innovation and technology development are making green energy affordable and more widely used by private homeowners. Almost all households in America today have LED lighting, and almost all appliances now selling on the market meet strict energy standards. New homes have an energy rating that allows buyers to know the typical amount of energy that will be used in the home. In addition, solar power is becoming more affordable with an increasing number of homeowners having solar panels installed on their roofs.  Innovation, research and development, technology deployment and renewables are making America cleaner and greener.

Fifth, President Trump is a savvy negotiator and it may well be that he is using the withdrawal from the Paris Accord as a pretext to negotiate a new and better deal. The United States withdrawal from the Accord doesn’t officially take place until 2020. That gives President Trump and his team three years to negotiate a better deal. If the Europeans are open to re-negotiating the Accord, there is every reason to believe that a more realistic framework on climate change can be achieved. There are those in the Republican Party that want to see that happen. As conservative scholar Oren Cass of the Manhattan Institute put it in a tweet after the President his announcement, “Hopefully someday, we’ll get a reality-based climate agreement that helps prepare for and adapt to whatever climate change brings.”

Sixth, there is a legal argument to be made that the United States was never a member of the Paris Accord since the agreement never received the “advice and consent” of the Senate. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution grants the president power “with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.” The Obama Administration did not submit the Paris Accord to the Senate as a conventional treaty. The Administration knew that ratification would have failed to achieve a two-thirds majority in the Republican controlled Senate. That led President Obama to craft a non-binding global warming deal without Senate approval. There is, therefore, a serious question whether the United States was ever formally “in” the Paris Accord. It also made it much easier for President Trump to withdraw from the Accord, since no Senate action is required. However, a revised Paris agreement negotiated by President Trump may well get the approval of the Senate, binding the country to a new set of standards.

Some Concerns

Seventh, there is a divide between major corporations and small businesses on the reaction to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord. Many major corporations have been working hard to promote a cleaner, greener planet. They have invested billions of dollars in new technologies that are driving costs down in expanding solar and wind energy. But the green revolution has not been as widely embraced by small businesses, in part because of government regulations and increased costs to do business. Small businesses cheered the President’s action. If the green revolution is to take hold in the country, then small businesses must benefit as much as large corporations.

Eighth, while much of urban America has embraced the green revolution, rural America has expressed anxiety and fear on how “going green” will affect their lives, lifestyles and jobs. In the educated, sophisticated centers of the nation, cities like Boston, New York, Denver, Seattle and San Francisco, the green revolution is already a reality – solar and wind power abound, while carbon emissions from oil and coal have been significantly reduced. However, in Appalachia and other parts of the heartland, oil, coal and fracking for gas are the foundations for local economies. Rural Pennsylvania, for example is fracking and enjoying increased prosperity while rural New York is prevented from fracking by state law and remains poor. In fact, cities like Buffalo and Rochester there is negative job growth – a decline rather than an increase in the job market – even as the national economy is approaching a level of full employment.

When Hilary Clinton said that she couldn’t wait to close the coal mines, she lost every coal mining county in the country. When Donald Trump pledged to helped build a “clean coal” industry, he won those counties. Two different economies, two different worlds, and two different ways of life – this is the divide between red and blue states. The environment is important, but so are people, families, and jobs. We need a green revolution that embraces people and insures jobs for their future.

Ninth, the cost of transitioning to a cleaner, greener planet has exasperated the divide between the rich on the one hand, and the middle class and poor on the other. Reducing carbon emission has a price to it. In many cases, at least in the short term, it may mean higher electric and gas bills. In Europe gas at the pump is between six and ten dollars a gallon. In some parts of Canada gas is close to $5.00 a gallon. Here in the metro Phoenix area, gas ranges between $2.23 and 2.39 a gallon. Most poor and middle class Americans would resist paying European prices for gas. For one thing, distances, especially in the west, are much greater than in Europe. And for another, people need their cars to drive to work, especially if they cannot afford to live where they are employed. Similarly, in southwest states like Arizona, air conditioning is not an option; just as in northeast states like Maine or Minnesota heating fuel is not an option in the winter. Wealthy people, like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos can afford to pay higher electric and gas prices in support of clean energy, but many others cannot. At some point the economic disparity has to be addressed, perhaps by an added tax on the wealthy to subsidize the poor and middle class’ utility costs. I like the proposals of Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor who has suggested these taxes on the wealthy:

Tax the “blue zones.” Impose steep taxes on property in coastal areas that will be flooded by the sea-level increases that global warming brings. Taxes should also discourage people from building near oceans, rivers and lakes.
Ban private jet travel, or at least tax it heavily. The wealthy will have to fly commercial like the rest of us.
Impose a luxury tax on mansions. Any home more than twice the size of the average American home should be taxed at 25% of its value per year.
Tax yachts and luxury cars an additional 25% of purchase price to reduce their carbon footprints and have an annual tax of 10% of their value each year.

I would add one more – an increase in the income tax for multi-millionaires and billionaires to at least 50 percent of income. That is not too much to pay when you have so much to give, especially when the money goes to alleviate the hardship of those with far less.

A Christian Response

The week before the announcement of the United States withdrawal from the Paris Accord, President Trump had met with Pope Francis and said that he would read Laudato Si, the Pope’s encyclical on the environment and climate change. Given the President’s action, either he has yet to read it, or he simply disagrees with it.

And yet, the Pope’s encyclical is worth reading.  Laudato Si – On Care for Our Common Home – is a comprehensive overview of environmental stewardship from a distinctly Christian perspective. It is one of the finest treatments of the stewardship of the earth ever written and it deserves to be read by every Christian, Catholic, Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox.

I don’t agree with everything the Pope writes. The Argentinian Pope clearly does not understand capitalism or how a free market economy works. Still, his knowledge of liberation theology makes him a forceful advocate for the poor who are disproportionately affected by climate change. You cannot care for creation if your heart lacks compassion for your fellow human beings, the Pope insists. The stewardship of the earth and the dignity of every human being are integrally connected.

The most difficult part of the Pope’s encyclical – and I suspect the main reason President Trump rejected it (if he read it) is the condemnation of “extreme consumerism” in which the Pope wants wealthy Western nations, including the United States, to accept “decreased growth…in order to provide recourse for other places to experience healthy growth.” In contrast with the consumerist mindset, Christian spirituality offers a growth marked by “moderation and the capacity to be happy with little.” It is a matter of nothing less than a redefinition of our notion of progress.

This, I think, is a red flag for most Americans – the notion of decreasing GDP, lowering living standards and having to accept that “less is more.” The Pope seems to articulate a mentality of scarcity rather than abundance – as if there is only so much of the pie to be divided rather than expanding the pie to feed more people. To put it another way, the Pope seems more interested in the distribution of wealth than the production of wealth. For Americans, in contrast, an expanded and growing economy, and not a declining and contracting one, is the way to insure a healthy and prosperous planet. Innovation, technology, and free markets in a democratic society result in greater human progress and a higher standard of living for all. In other words, the answer is not socialism or a state-run economy of excessive regulations and bureaucracy but free market democratic capitalism.

If I could give one piece of advice to the Pope, it would be to read these two books: Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom and F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. In my judgment, Friedman and Hayek are two greatest economists of the 20th century and what they have to say rings true today.

Principles and Policy

One of the great Anglican theologians of the 20th century was Archbishop William Temple. In his book Christianity and the Social Order, Temple made the useful distinction between principles and policy. Christians, he said, should be united on the core principles of the Christian ethic. Love of neighbor, human dignity, the equality of all persons, sharing generously with the poor, and caring for the sick, the weak and the vulnerable would be some of the key principles on which all Christians should agree.

However, on matters of policy Christians will disagree. Policy involves the implementation of Christian principles to specific problems.  If, for example, Christians have an obligation to care for the sick, what does that mean in instituting an effective health care system? If Christians believe in the equality of all human beings, how do we put that into practice when one group in society has been systemically discriminated against for generations? You get the idea: principles are general while policies are specific.

As we seek to be good stewards of the earth, we should keep in mind the first and most basic principle in the Bible: Creation is a gift from God.  In Genesis we read, “In the beginning when God created heaven and earth…” God created the world and it was “very good.” Then God created men and women, and put them in a garden. Over the years humans have threatened to turn that garden into a garbage dump – or worse, to destroy it completely. We have not always been good stewards of the planet, and we need to admit it.

That is why Christians need to study Scripture and Church teaching on the meaning of environmental stewardship. Then we need to develop and implement the policies that will make our planet the clean, green place that God created it to be.

In the end what is required is a change of heart. We need nothing less than an “ecological conversion” in which we see the intimate connection between God and all beings, and more readily respond, as Pope Francis put it, “to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Paris Climate Accords

Okay...the dust has settled just a tiny bit from the hysteria that ensued when President Trump announced that the United States will pull out of this international agreement.  So maybe I should make a few comments.  Of course, there has been so much craziness written that most already have their mind made up and see it as either good or bad.  No in between.

First, the Accords were negotiated over a very long period (about 20 years).  It was a very tough negotiation and I imagine that in trying to get to agreement, they had to get to the lowest common denominator.  It's all about reducing carbon emissions and countries will get paid to achieve certain goals.  The U.S. will do most of the paying.  And the hope is to reduce warming some minuscule amount by the end of the century.

To me there are a few things that are apparent.

First, this isn't about climate change.  It's a pretty blatant redistribution of wealth.  This is a rob from the rich and give to the poor scheme.  This agreement will cost the American taxpayer billions of dollars and cause us to lose a ton of jobs.

Second, pulling out will have no impact on our (the U.S.) effort to reduce carbon emissions and work to increase renewable energy sources.  We're already marching down that road.  And those of you who are worried that we're going back to coal forget it.  That's yesterday's news.  Even the coal miners get that.

Third, a big objection is that we won't have a seat at the table in future climate discussions.  Without our money, there may be no table.  This objection is bogus.  We have, are and will lead in taking measures to attack this issue.

Fourth, although I believe that there is some appreciable impact man is having on the environment, it is by no means agreed by all and not even all scientists that study this issue.  When you hear that it's a settled issue, it's not.  There are still plenty of questions about this.  So it seams to me that we should continue to figure out what and how the climate is changing.  Try to get to some consensus instead of trying to ram it down people's throat.

Finally, the hysteria is stupid and misplaced.  I guess if you view yourself as more a citizen of the world than a citizen of the United States, you'd be upset.  But the only reason to be upset is that some of the worst, most despotic and grossest human rights abusers won't be getting paid by us to pretend to reduce carbon emissions.  As for me, not thanks.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Immigration Reform

This is an issue that has confounded the Federal government for decades.  I've written previously that there has to be a way to humanely solve (or at least attack) this problem.  But the Congress just can't seem to figure out what to do.  Politics is an overriding concern when it comes to anything to do with immigration.  Living in SoCal on the border, we are acutely aware of the issues.  There seem to be a lot of 'experts' who have simple solutions but the truth is that solutions are illusive.   But at this point I'd settle for incremental improvement.

So I was heartened to read an article in the Federalist today about a proposed program being pushed by Senator Johnson from Wisconsin and Rep Buck from Colorado.  It's called State Sponsored Visa Pilot Program Act of 2017.  To me it makes a huge amount of sense.  I'm going to post the entire article here so you don't have to go somewhere else.  Read it, digest it, think about it.  The status quo must change.  The country is changing, society is changing, our world is changing.  We've got to solve this problem and this seems to me to be one small step in the right direction.

Why Letting States Sponsor Immigration Visas Should Satisfy Everyone
State governments are in a better position than Washington DC to understand local immigration needs and capacities. Let’s give them a greater role in shaping guest worker flows.
By Brandon Fuller and Sean Rust
MAY 31, 2017
"With President Trump’s executive orders on immigration stalled out in federal court, Washington could use some fresh thinking on immigration reform. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) provided just that recently, unveiling the State Sponsored Visa Pilot Program Act of 2017, legislation that would give states the ability to sponsor temporary work visas.
This is a laudable step that should satisfy all sides of the ideological and political spectrum. State governments are in a better position than Washington DC to understand local immigration needs and capacities. Giving them a greater role in shaping guest worker flows will improve the economic performance of America’s immigration system.
In the face of the prolonged federal impasse on comprehensive immigration reform, blue and red states alike have shown interest in creating state-based visa programs. Legislators introduced bills in Arizona, California, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Utah went so far as to pass its own guest worker laws in 2011, with the understanding that enactment would require a federal waiver.
With no such federal waiver forthcoming, the efforts in Utah and other states have so far fallen short. The Johnson-Buck plan would provide welcome relief to such states, allowing them to apply to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for approval of their visa programs.
How This Would Work
Under the plan, states with DHS-approved programs would select and sponsor foreigners for temporary work visas. Once cleared by DHS, state-based visa holders would be allowed to live and work in the sponsoring state for a period of three years. The visa-holders would be ineligible for federal welfare benefits. Those who comply with the terms of their visas would be eligible for renewal and free to apply for permanent residency during their stay in the United States.
Unlike existing employment-based visas that tie foreign workers to one employer, state-sponsored visa holders would be free to work for employers throughout the sponsoring state. The plan also allows states to enter into interstate compacts to jointly administer their programs, broadening the potential set of employers by allowing visa-holders to live and work in different states.
This program would also correct issues many perceive with today’s employment-based visa system. Unlike with H-1B visas, state-sponsored visa-holders would be free to work for many potential employers. This leaves firms without monopsony power to suppress wages in order to hire these workers on the cheap. Underpaid visa-holders would simply find a higher-paying job at a different firm.
This Would Be Good for the Economy
By enriching local labor markets, state-sponsored visa programs would help revitalize struggling states and localities. This was the logic, for example, behind Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2014 request that the federal government reserve a share of its high-skilled employment green cards for people willing to live and work in the city of Detroit.
Snyder was on to something. In a place like Detroit, with a large number of vacant homes and irreversible infrastructure built for a much larger population, the spillover benefits from new migrants would be quite large. In such areas, an influx of foreign workers would stanch, slow, or potentially reverse decline by revitalizing neighborhoods, stabilizing housing markets, expanding the local tax base, deepening the local pool of human capital, attracting new businesses, and generating job growth.
Although overseen by the federal government, the plan would allow state governments to work with local governments and employers to tailor strategies that meet their economic development needs. For some states, this might mean a focus on recruiting seasonal workers in agriculture. Other states might orient their programs toward higher-skilled workers, as Snyder sought to do in Michigan. Others might focus sponsorship on entrepreneurs or investors. Whatever the specifics, the variety of programs that emerge from various states will serve as laboratories for ideas that can inform better federal immigration policy.
How to Handle People Who Break the Rules
The plan also gives states the option of using visas to create a path to authorization for undocumented foreign workers within their borders, after those migrants pay a penalty. State and local governments bear the majority of the fiscal burden associated with unauthorized foreign workers, but states are also in a good position to weigh those costs against the economic contributions such migrants make.
A natural question is how the state-sponsored programs will prevent visa overstays or unauthorized work outside of the sponsoring state. States that fail to keep absconders or overstayers to less than 3 percent of migrants would see their number of state-sponsored visas cut in half. States that repeatedly fall short of this mark would see their programs suspended entirely. Participating states therefore face strong enforcement incentives that start with selecting those who will comply with the terms of the visa.
If the experience with similar regional immigration programs in Australia and Canada is any guide, such compliance concerns are entirely manageable. Successful regional visa programs in Canada and Australia have aided economic and population growth in struggling regions. The participating regions enjoy high retention rates among sponsored workers, and the programs are popular among participating regions, migrants, and businesses.
State-sponsored visa programs would direct temporary foreign workers to the states that want them without pushing additional migrants on the states that don’t. Many states have already exhibited an interest in administering their own visa programs. The Johnson-Buck plan meets them halfway. Lawmakers across the political spectrum should welcome the opportunity to pilot state-based visa programs that can generate jobs and growth in their home states."
Brandon Fuller is deputy director of the Marron Institute at New York University. Sean Rust is an attorney and partner at Rust Real Estate, LLC in Philadelphia. They co-authored the 2014 Cato Institute policy analysis “State-Based Visas: A Federal Approach to Reforming U.S. Immigration Policy.”

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

US

Got this from a friend and think it's pretty good.  And how a growing number of people feel.  Hat tip to DH.

   "US" by Paul Genova 
 
  (Mr. Paul Genova has been President and Chief Operating Officer of Wireless Telecom Group Inc. since June 30, 2016. 
  

 
I haven't said too much about this election since the start...but this is how I feel....

  I'm noticing that a lot of people aren't graciously accepting the fact that their candidate lost.
In fact you seem to be posting even more hateful things about those who voted for Trump.

  Some are apparently "triggered" because they are posting how "sick" you feel about the results.

  How did this happen you ask? Well here is how it happened!
  
You created "us" when you attacked our freedom of speech.

  You created "us" when you attacked our right to bear arms.

  You created "us" when you attacked our Christian beliefs.

  You created "us" when you constantly referred to us as racists.

  You created "us" when you constantly called us xenophobic.
 
You created "us" when you told us to get on board or get out of the way.
You created "us" when you attacked our flag

  You created "us" when you took God out of our schools.

  You created "us" when you confused women's rights with feminism.

  You created "us" when you began to emasculate men.

  You created "us" when you decided to make our children soft.
You created "us" when you decided to vote for progressive ideals.

  You created "us" when you attacked our way of life.
You created "us" when you decided to let our government get out of control.

  You created "us" the silent majority

  You created "us" when you began murdering innocent law enforcement officers.

  You created "us" when you lied and said we could keep our insurance plans and our doctors.

  You created "us" when you allowed our jobs to continue to leave our country.
You created "us" when you took a knee, or stayed seated or didn't remove your hat during our National Anthem.
You created "us" when you forced us to buy health care and then financially penalized us for not participating.

        And we became fed up and we pushed back and spoke up.
  And we did it with ballots, not bullets.
  With ballots, not riots.
  With ballots, not looting.
  With ballots, not blocking traffic.
  With ballots, not fires, except the one you started inside of "us"

  "YOU" created "US".

  It really is just that simple.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Tolerance

It is becoming axiomatic that we just can't talk to each other any more.  We've all gone to our corners.  Finally though someone in the MSM has recognized and called out the problem.  We'd all do well to listen...


Motivation Monday


Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Flag

My post this week on Monuments was generated after seeing the controversy in New Orleans regarding removing some monuments to Civil War generals.  You can read it here.  I linked it over on FB and it has in turn generated quite a few comments on both sides of the issue.  I'm happy to say most are respectful and thoughtful.  

But I guess inevitably the issue of the Confederate Flag, the stars and bars, has been raised.  Now I'm not one to engage passionately on FB on some controversial issue.  I'd much rather post photos of my wonderful dog or exciting vacations or special events that are sorta fun.  But every once in a while, a subject begs to be addressed.  So I thought I'd publish a few thoughts here and link them there and let the chips fall where they may.  Anyone who wants to follow the link and read this must have interest. Otherwise they will just move on to the next post with photos of puppies.

First, this is the flag we honor.  Full Stop.  The Stars and Stripes were born in the earliest days of the country and symbolize this unique experiment in Democracy we call the United States of America.  


Of course people might honor other flags in separate ways.  Sometimes it's their state flag or city flag.  Or maybe they are a member or veteran of one of the branches of the military and will honor that flag.  But above all, honoring those flags never usurps the honor all Americans should show to the flag of the United States.

In the discussion of monuments, I came down on the side of agreeing with Mayor Landreiu.  Remove the monuments.  But I also think they have a place.  Put them on a battlefield, or a museum, or a historical site, or somewhere that the story can be told.  And where it can be assured that the story is told truthfully and fully.  It doesn't mean that the historical nature of the monument or the aspects of heritage are minimized, but rather that the pain inflicted by such monuments in the public square are just not appropriate or worth the battle to keep them.  Not when they cause such pain to some of our fellow citizens.  To my mind, there are much bigger battles to wage.  But that's just my opinion.

But then we get inevitably to this flag.  The Stars and Bars have generated huge controversy for many years and that is not going away.  After the horrific murder of black parishioners in Charleston, SC a few years ago the controversy came to a fever pitch.  The State of South Carolina removed the flag from state grounds under what I thought was pretty courageous leadership by Governor Nikki Haley.  And life goes on.  On this controversy I'm a bit more definitive.  This is the Confederate Battle Flag and known to symbolize the Confederacy.  To many it is indicative of a heritage.  They say it symbolizes a way of life and a cause that so many fought and died for.  They say it's not about slavery.  Many bristle when it is related to the brutal and shameful oppression of black people.  But in doing a very cursory search on the confederate flag and it's origins I came across this disclaimer on one of the prominent web sites:  
It is necessary to disclaim any connection of these flags to neo-nazis, red-necks, skin-heads and the like. These groups have adopted this flag and desecrated it by their acts. They have no right to use this flag - it is a flag of honor, designed by the confederacy as a banner representing state's rights and still revered by the South. The South denies any relation to these hate groups and denies them the right to use the flags of the confederacy for any purpose. The crimes committed by these groups under the stolen banner of the Confederacy only exacerbate the lies which link the secession to slavery interests when, from a Southerner's view, the cause was state's rights.
There's that claim again, that it's all about state's rights.  It just seems to me that the protest is too strident.  As I said in the previous post, any serious student of the Civil War knows that at it's heart, it was about slavery.  Now don't get me wrong.  We live in a free country.  Anyone who wants to can display this flag.  Anyone who wants to can tell themselves that it's honoring a way of life 150 years ago that just wanted to be left alone to grow their cotton.  Anyone who wants to can even celebrate the independence and rebellion of a rogue section of the country.  But at the same time they should remember two things.  Most of the population is not in your corner.  And the symbolism you're flouting has a sinister meaning and deep down you know it.

Which brings me to what I think is a logical conclusion.  If this flag engenders such heartache why would we want to inflict that on our fellow citizens?  One of the most prominent and concerning issue facing this country today are the strong and vitriolic divisions in our citizenry.  What does flying, glorifying, boasting about, and promoting the stars and bars do to help heal a divided country.  I know many will say it's history and if people can't take reality, too bad.  And I agree it's history.  But let's put history in it's rightful place.  Let's put it in museums, in battlefields, in historic sites.  Let's bring this flag into classrooms and tell the story.  Let's let the historians tell the truthful history.  But for God's sake, it just simply doesn't belong in the public square as an atrocious reminder of the whippings, the deprivations, the squalor, the rending of families, the selling of people.  It's not a reminder, it's an affront.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Memorial Day

Update:  I've reposted this for 4 years and it's pretty timeless.  Wherever you live, whatever your politics, however you view the military...Memorial Day is an opportunity to stop and pay respects to those who have given "the last full measure of devotion".  

This never gets old.  The homecoming.  Been there, done that.  And it is so sweet.  After a long or short deployment with separation from your loved ones, coming home has a special meaning.  Whether you are on a routine training mission across the country, or on a combat mission on a remote and lonely battlefield someplace that was unknown to you until you stepped off the plane , or on a ship at sea on the far side of the world, coming home is something every service member has on his or her mind from the moment they get on the plane or cast off the lines.  And the families at home are no different.  They try to go about their daily lives doing all the routine things that consume their time, but the reality of their loved one being far away for some period of time is always there.  And it doesn't matter what the mission is.  If you are separated by deployment, the danger is always there.  No matter if you're driving a truck on a military reservation somewhere in the U.S., humping a pack through dangerous lands, manning a MASH unit behind the lines, doing a routine job on an American warship, flying a routine mission of humanitarian assistance,  or so many other jobs, the danger is always there.  You could make a misstep and your time could be up in a heartbeat.  That's why homecoming is so sweet.  You're back in the fold with your loved ones. You can be a part of their lives again.  And they can be a part of yours.  It's the way we were meant to live.  Together.


But this weekend we don't celebrate homecoming.  For many, many families they won't ever experience that joyous homecoming.  Too many will weep this weekend.  Too many will yearn for their loved ones who will never return. So what can we, the living, do?  We can honor them.  We can think of them.  We can pause and remember.  Oh, we all know that it is also the first weekend of summer.  There will be barbecues, parties, and fun family times.  It will be a time to relax and get ready for summer.  So have a great time and enjoy whatever endeavor that will come your way.  But for a moment, just for a moment, remember those who have fallen to ensure our freedoms and those left behind mourning their loved ones who gave the "last full measure of devotion".  And it doesn't matter what they were doing when they lost their lives.  What matters is their service.  We live in a secure nation.  An island nation.  We have generally not experienced the horror of attack or the threat of invasion on the scale of other countries around the world.  We've had our Pearl Harbor and our 911.  And those we're horrific.  But think of the war-torn countries around the world.  It's not that so many think it can't happen here....it's that so many don't even think about it.  But there are those that have.  And those that do.  Those who recognize service above self.  Those who are willing to give, to go in harm's way, to risk all.  So take a moment on Monday.  A quiet moment.  Look around you.  Hug your family.  And give thanks.

Friday Funnies

Tough love!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Monuments

There has been some news recently about the city of New Orleans removing some Confederate monuments.  This kind of thing rears it's head periodically and generates some news, depending on the region and the interest.  Here in San Diego we had an elementary school named Robert E. Lee School.  No one seemed to think much about it until the horrific murders of black parishioners in a church in Charleston, S.C.  Amidst all the reaction, removing and changing tributes to the Confederacy seemed to be something that people thought was important and would make a difference.  South Carolina removed the Confederate flag from State Capital grounds and there was reaction both ways.  When the Robert E. Lee Elementary School was renamed Pacific View Leadership Elementary School it made the news but I didn't hear impassioned pleas to keep it.  I'm sure it had to do with where we are and how far removed we are (both geographically and culturally) from the South.  

But the removal of monuments in New Orleans received quite a different reaction.  There were sighs of relief and protests against political correctness run amok.  Mayor Mitch Landreiu gave what I thought was a pretty eloquent speech defending and explaining the removal.  


If you don't want to watch the video, you can get the text here.

I've given this subject some thought and have to admit that I continue to be of two minds about this painful subject.  On the one hand, there was extensive community involvement, discussion, and votes to determine the fate of the monuments.  Given this is their community and has a huge black population, it is probably not surprising that the outcome was removal.
After decades of public debate, of anger, of anxiety, of anticipation, of humiliation and of frustration. After public hearings and approvals from three separate community led commissions. After two robust public hearings and a 6-1 vote by the duly elected New Orleans City Council. After review by 13 different federal and state judges. The full weight of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government has been brought to bear and the monuments in accordance with the law have been removed.
On the other hand, I could see how these monuments could rationally be seen as monuments not to slavery, but to so many other things represented by the South.  Dedication to home, protection of a way of life, rural values vs big city values, industrialized America vs agricultural America, and on and on.  I'm not from the South, but my Dad was a very, very proud Alabamian and projected his loyalty to that state to his dying day, which was only a few years ago.  He loved his country...but he also was a true blue Southerner.  If he had lived in the 1860's, I have little doubt for which side he would have fought.  And it wouldn't have been to protect slavery.  It would have been to protect his home.  There are so, so many things to admire and love about the South.  The people are as genuine as you'll find anywhere.  It is a simple and yet complicated place.  It's history is both beautiful and tortured.  It is varied and dynamic.  And it has risen again, despite the epic beating it took oh so many years ago.  

And then there is the "how far do we go with this" argument.  Do we take down the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Monument because they owned slaves?  Close Mt Vernon and Monticello?  Rename all the streets, schools, buildings, and anything else named after someone who was on the wrong side of history?  I guess that sounds far fetched, but in this age of political correctness, it is most likely on the minds of some.  

But on the other hand...slavery was a scourge, an abomination.  It is easily the most shameful thing that this country has ever participated in.  And it is even worse if you read the first sentence of the Declaration of Independence.  Given the principles that this country was founded on, slavery is something that is uniquely horrific.  I've become quite a student of the Civil War and have heard people say and have read that the war wasn't all about slavery.  That it was about states rights, the industrial North vs the agricultural South, protection of their homes, and many other things as well as slavery.  Well...there is some truth to that, but it's backwards.  At the heart of everything was slavery.  The other issues were important and played a role, but at the heart of everything was slavery.  And to have monuments to those that fought to protect slavery (as well as other reasons) is hard pill to swallow.  At least for me it is.  And I have to ask myself, what would the answer be if we went almost anywhere in America and asked to erect a new monument to any of the Southern Generals today.  I think we know the answer to that.  I also know that we are still dealing with slavery and human trafficking on a wide spread scale.  What does it say about our efforts to attack that problem if we continue to have these statues in the public square?

But then we see things like this little quote that has been moving around the Internet today.  The objection to removing things from history that we find objectionable is valid.  You know the old saying...those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  So if we remove all those monuments, how do we remember, how do we learn?  Aren't they a good teaching tool?  Can't we use them to explain to our children about the Civil War, why it was fought and what the issues were, including the central issue of slavery?  I guess there is some truth to that but then I ask how statues of Generals are going to contribute to the story.  And depending on who's telling it, the facts get altered.  Badly altered.  I would strongly favor (and hope) that those monuments go somewhere where they can be a part of the story.  Because the story needs to be told.  Accurately.  Truthfully.  Painfully.  

As for me...I come down on the side of removal.  Of course, as a guy living in SoCal I don't have a big dog in the fight, other than my opinion as an American.  The truth is that I see this an more of an academic exercise than one that I feel passionately about.  So the passion I feel when thinking of this is the unbeliveable pain and suffering that some of the ancestors of black people who might live among us, share our values, and are just as much citizens of this great land as I am.  And I just don't see the need to inflict the pain of memories of slavery that these monuments surely invoke.  I guess that, although the danger is always there, I don't really buy the slippery slope of removing other historical artifacts.  I understand all the arguments that true Southerners make in defense of the monuments.  But those defenses simply don't overcome what these statues represent to some of our fellow citizens.  Ask yourself, what if you were a black family visiting a location with one of these monuments and you had to explain to your kids what they represent.  If I were a white family standing next to them, I'd be ashamed that our country engaged in that practice to our fellow man.  And I'm not even sure that most people even realize just how bad it was.  The movies and folklore have softened the reality.  Do some studying about slavery.  The reality was horrific.  And it's not something we should be holding up.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Manchester

There is no way that I could articulate the sympathy for the victims and revulsion of the perpetrator any better than one of my favorite bloggers, CDR Salamander, can.  You can read it here.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Motivation Monday


Cool Pic



Technology Comes Through

Drones have lots of uses.  This is a good one!


Selfies

I just wonder if the damn Camel is smiling?


Trump vs The Media

This is a pretty good graphic.  And unfotunately very true.  At one time you had to look carefully to see what was not so obvious media bias.  But now it's all changed.  You might have seen the Harvard study that was published this week about media bias.  The results are shocking to those who want to believe that we are being fed the truth.  But the actuality is that there is shocking media bias against Trump.  I used to try and balance my news from multiple sources but it has come to the point that none of these guys are trustworthy.  None.


Politically Incorrect!

But pretty funny!

Cool Pic



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Trump...Russians...FBI...Media...Arghhhhhhhhh!

There's just so much that it's almost overwhelming.  I won't try and comment.  There is so much out there that you can find the perspective you believe if you try.  I'll just say this.  The reporting and reaction is beyond incompetent and hysterical.  So the WPO reports that anonymous sources say that President Trump divulged highly classified material to Russians during a meeting.  They we have the Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor, and the Deputy National Security Advisor refute and deny that it happened.  Three pretty good and credible sources.  And the media and the Dems act as if they never said a word.  It's truly beyond the pale.  And you've heard about the supposed Comey memo.  Let's see how that plays out but I'm more than confident that it's much ado about nothing.  But we'll see.  One thing is for sure, there are people in government and media who will stop at nothing to destroy President Trump.  If I were him, I'd be very tempted to fire every Obama holdover who has any sort of access.  That would be extreme and harsh and the government would be jolted, but something has to be done.

Dogs Are Cool



Learning Early!



Cool Pic

Cowabunga!

The More Things Change...



Hillary

It just never stops!  How many people in the country would love to see this happen.  I know I do!


Well...Duh!

Sooner or later it was bound to happen!