Category Archives: Immigration

Detroit Failed to Adapt to the Major Threats to Cities During the Twentieth Century

vibrantDuring the 1900s, cities dealt with the issues surrounding institutional racism with various degrees of success. In the midst of these internal issues, external threats to survival would emerge that would threaten American cities’ survival. The Great Depression hit America’s capitalist system hard, causing a drastic reset of economic principles that would remain intact for another half century as economic tools for city growth. Many cities used these tools successfully. Some cities, like Detroit, used them to excess.

The civil rights movement of the 1960s would begin a dramatic shift in the hierarchy of needs requirements of cities that would leave those cities failing to adjust with worsening economic consequences. The entirety of the South suffered as boll weevils destroyed their cash crop and investors shunned Southern industrial enterprises during the second reconstruction era.

After the Viet Nam War, business migration and emigration began draining cities of lower skilled jobs and exposed a rust belt as the most visible sign of maladaptation. Some cities reformulated strategies for economic success better than others during the transition.

The latest threat to city survival has been a series of financial boom/busts that created misguided incentives and that misdirected investments into real estate assets rather than productive capabilities. Some cities survived the lure of building excess housing, office, and retail real estate stock better than others in the transition.

Detroit was one of the cities that did not adapt through the maze of external threats as well as some of America’s other major cities. While Detroit prospered initially as a result of the New Deal, unions created excess gains that did not adapt to the external threat of business migration. Detroit’s highly ingrained institutional racism became more militant in response to the militancy of those it oppressed during the civil rights era. And in a desperate attempt to correct for its inability to heal racial tensions, Detroit fell headlong into the temptations of investing in real estate as a cure for lack of productive industry.

Detroit failed to adapt those attributes of a growing, or indeed thriving city that were necessary to overcome both internal and external threats of the last half of the twentieth century.

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Filed under American Governance, American Innovation, American Politics, City Planning, Immigration, Jobs, Racism, social trajectory, Unions

The Kings of the Auto Industry’s Failure to Plan was a Plan to Fail

fordIn spite of terrible odds, there are those that rise above their circumstances to do great things. The same can be said for Detroit. Out of the slums come leaders of every profession that have excelled by their own merits. That means that even in Detroit’s inner city, there is a path to be found to make it. Just like Lewis and Clark, there are those that can take the right steps to avoid all the hazards of the journey and make it to their destination intact

However, take those same people that are put through that gauntlet and put them through a better upbringing and they most likely would still succeed. And with them, would succeed millions more that do not under the bitter circumstances of the inner city.

So when we saw businesses failing at 5 times the rate of normal business cycle turn downs in this last great recession, we can certainly say that the owners that made the decisions they made were responsible for their business failures, we can also say that 80% of those businesses that did fail would not have in a better environment that they did not have direct control over, same for those that lost their homes and jobs through the collapse. Under the environment, they made the decisions they thought best for their families and turned up way short.

I write to affect the global circumstances so that more can make it. The 68% of kids that sat in those classes expecting to learn the skills necessary to survive that didn’t make it because of all the support structures that failed them need something better than they are getting. The question is can we create a system solution that can turn around present circumstances and that can create better odds for future kids?The rules in Detroit were pervasively written in the institutions that governed the city, institutions run by the big three auto makers.

Every city has its elites, those few that have made it into the rarified air that makes them appear to themselves as gods. These are the ones that shift the economy, that pioneer its path before the masses tread on it.

I can imagine the CEOs of the big three auto manufacturers coming together at the Detroit Club in 1914 talking about the war and how they might prosper from it. Of course they expected that the windfall would be temporary so no provisions would be made for city planning to accept the hundreds of thousands of new workers and their families. No, everyone would sacrifice for the war effort and when the war was over, these wonderful immigrants and southern blacks would be persuaded to go back home.

The city was run by these captains of industry and their selections for who would run the wards. City planning was thus built upon the premise of greatest efficiency of industry as opposed to any livability factor. The city was growing exponentially and perhaps the chaos of growth could energize the police officers being deputized from southern cities for Detroit to handle the influx of blacks and Poles they thought.

As opposed to America’s growth, which climbed at a rate of 1.1% a year, Detroit’s population was growing at 4 times that rate. Certainly car production alone could not sustain such a growth rate as was occurring for military production. Certainly, the substandard housing that was going up at record pace wasn’t meant for the long haul, for no one would expect that after the war boom would come a depression followed by an even bigger war boom, in which Detroit would play a pivotal role.

After two big wars and an extended industrial war boom, Detroit could not have expected to ride on its past. But where was the planning? Was the only planning scarcity, and to let the rats abandon a sinking ship? Was the only planning to put a volatile mix of people into a beaker and to stir in the catalyst of fewer jobs?

This is why city planning ought to be left for those that consider all the people of a community as stakeholders in the city’s future, not just the chosen few who employ strategies to maximize short term goals, without considering it their responsibility to care for the community they have recruited as immigrants and migrants to do their bidding.

Here is a quick history of racially divided Detroit from it nascent auto days until the first big Detroit riot in 1943. It tells of industry drawing in masses of European immigrants, southern blacks and southern poor whites, and poorly preparing the city for them only to have racial prejudice surface and then finally explode in 1943.

Detroit Automobile Company August 5, 1899 – the first plant

Ford assembly line – starts the boom town and immigration

.1914 – Ford announces $5 a day pay – starts African American migration

Tension mounts in slums for housing and at factories for jobs between blacks and Poles

.1920s – rise of Detroit KKK membership to 20,000. KKK emphasizes racial segregation in housing

.1925 – During year, Racist Detroit police kill 40 blacks

Osian Sweets, a black man, kills a man in a mob attacking his new home in a white neighborhood. Goes on trial for murder and is eventually acquitted. In response, Detroit white neighborhoods pass restrictive “whites only” covenants.

Great Depression hits – Autoworkers unions organize

Klan clashes with the unions and the fades into background for awhile

.1940 – Franklin Roosevelt names Detroit as the Arsenal of Democracy, declaring the city to be strategic to winning the war.

.1941 – Executive Order 8802 – Roosevelt forbids work discrimination based on race

Detroit would need workers on a massive scale for the war effort so its demand for workers started the second great migration of African Americans North.

This massive influx of new labor brought Detroit, already in a housing shortage, to a boiling point.

Housing shortages and black shanty towns – Federal government builds 700 units at Sojourner Truth Housing Project to ease shortage amidst white protests

February 28, 1942 move in day ta Sojourner. White mob riots, KKK burns a cross, police tear gas and arrest 220 blacks. For two months, the city does nothing to allow blacks to move in or to protect them. Finally, they are allowed to move in.

Poor urban planning – government earmarks 17 billion for new war factories in Detroit but only 5 million for new housing in a city that was still short 12,000 units.

July 1942 – Life Magazine writes an article called “Detroit is Dynamite” where it tells the world how Detroit, the manufacturing bastion of hope for America, could not build if it continued to be so factious and bickering.
Migrants vs. Nativists
Blacks vs. Southern Whites
Protestants vs. Catholics
Communists vs. Conservatives
KKK vs. Blacks
Poles vs. Blacks for lowest paying jobs

.1943 – Efforts by Fair Employment Protection Committee to enforce fair labor practices result in several race strikes protesting blacks in the workplace. Many blamed the Klan for staging these strikes.

.1943 – Catholic Trade Unionists declare that a subterranean race war is raging in the city and will explode in violence if nothing is done to stop it.

City officials meet with police to plan for race riot

Hot summer of 1943 – people flock to parks.

Early June – a small brawl breaks out between Blacks and Whites in park and spills over to neighborhood before Police break it up.

Mid June – brawl breaks out at amusement park as whites try to chase blacks out of the park

June 20 – Brawls break out in parks, continue to resurface in the night. Groups roam downtown. Whites spread a false rumor that a black man raped and murdered a white woman on a bridge. Blacks spread a false rumor that whites threw a black woman and her baby off that bridge. Then the whites and blacks begin to riot in two separate parts of town.

Police stood aside and watched the white riots go on for 36 hours as white rioters dragged blacks from their cars and beat them. The Black riots centered on damaging white storefronts in black parts of town and in response the police used force on black rioters. 17 of 25 dead blacks from the riot were killed by police. 433 were injured. Police arrested 1,800, mostly black. Stories surfaced of savage police beatings and murders. Martial law was declared and federal troops were brought in to quell the riots.

This was the basis of institutional racism that was pervasive in Detroit as a result of its volatile mixture. Even more violent race riots would erupt again in 1967 demonstrating the lack of the city’s success in dealing with this destructive social issue.

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Filed under American Innovation, American Politics, Class warfare, Immigration, Racism, social trajectory

Racial Collisions in Low Wage Inner Cities Correlate to Fluctuating Murder Rates But Did They Cause the Fluctuations?

HomicideRatesIn a country that has not resolved its racial issues, and in which migration to the cities of immigrants and African Americans to compete for jobs and inadequate housing has risen and fallen, these events have correlated with America’s murder rates that have shifted dramatically over the decades.

The vast majority of murders have been committed by minorities of ages 18-24 in the poorest neighborhoods of larger cities. Homicide rates amongst this group approach 25 per 100,000 population. National homicide rates recently have dropped substantially from their highs of 10.2 to now 4.8 per 100,000.

Prior to the Civil War, beginning in the 1840s, America received a swell of immigrants due to the potato famine in Europe. After the Civil War, America began its Westward Railroad expansion. Railroads incentives to populate the lands around the rails and America’s Homesteading Act created the impetus for a peak in immigration to levels previously unseen at 327,000 per year. 86% came from northern Europe. Homicide rates varied across the country but were relatively small, at 0.3 to 0.8 per 100,000.

After a lull during the Long Depression, immigration increased again to fill the working ranks of the industrial era. In 1881, immigration rose to 525,000. After another lull for the 1893 depression, in the peak industrial era years prior to WW1, immigration swelled again to 891,000 per year. During the rise of the industrial era, 69% of immigrants came from central and southern Europe. After 1900 up until WWI, homicides nationally rose precipitously from 1 to 6 per 100,000. A majority of immigrants during this period were single young men seeking temporary employment.

During WWI, immigration then dropped to 276,000 right at a time when more manufacturing workers were needed for the war effort, creating the major draw for African Americans to venture north in what was called the Great Migration. During the war, the murder rate dropped to 4 per 100,000 as 800,000 African Americans migrated to northern cities to support the war effort, but then spiked to 7 per 100,000 as the troops came home.

In the 1920s, immigration rose to 412,000 a year. During the 1920s another 800 African Americans migrated north and prohibition was enacted. As labor wages dropped due to increased competition for jobs in the inner cities, and crimes associated with prohibition soared, the homicide rate climbed steadily to a national record of 9.7 per 100,000 not to be topped until the 1970s.

Immigration plummeted during the worldwide depression to only 50,000 per year and net migration halted. During the depression, the national murder rate dropped to 6 per 100,000.

As the young people left to fight WWII, the homicide rate in America dropped to 5 per 100,000 but then increased immediately after the war to 6.4 per 100,000.

After WWII, immigration steadily grew from 252,000 in 1947 to 950,000 in 1990. From WW1 through 1960, 46% came from the western hemisphere. After 1960, immigration shifted toward Asian countries. From a near term peak of 6.4 per 100,000, the murder rate dropped to a low of 4.5 in 1955 and climbed back slowly to 5 per 100,000 by 1965. Then it accelerated to 10.2 through the 1970s as many of our cities declined, and drug use increased.

During the recession of 1981, the homicide rate fell to 7.9 but then rose again to a peak of 9.8 per 100,000 by 1991. From the mid 1980s until the present, illegal alien population increased from 2.5 million to over 22 million by some estimates.

From that high, homicide rates have steadily fallen to lows not seen since the 1950s of 4.8 per 100,000. During this period, 816,000 illegal aliens that had committed criminal acts were removed from the United States. In addition, northern cities saw a reverse migration of African Americans of 3 million back to southern states. Also, the prison population swelled from 600,000 to 1.6 million with increased prison terms and a war on drugs.

While migration, immigration, and incarceration seem to correlate with murder rates, they do not explain what the causes are of these shifts. Dramatic shifts from 0.3 to 10.2 and back to 4.8 murders per 100,000 have occurred in the course of a century. Murder rates in our inner cities have been a significant factor of their demise. Understanding what causes murder rates to have risen and fallen could be a significant key in determining a system solution.

The “experts” are in disagreement as to the cause of the downward trend in murders suggesting the following as possible reasons:

1. Dropped lead from gasoline which reduced lead poisoning that causes aggressive behavior
2. Abortion of 50 million from potentially dysfunctional mothers eliminated criminal element
3. More criminals in prison and longer jail sentences for violent offenders
4. Baby boomers are getting older
5. Violent video games release aggression
6. More cops on the beat
7. Targeted stop and frisks
8. Stand your ground laws have frightened would be assailants
9. Increased poverty reduced mobility
10. Shifting drug use patterns from those associated with higher crime rates to prescription drug abuse
11. Increased youth social programs in the cities
12. Increased social safety nets
13. More people out of work and in their homes
14. Waning crack epidemic
15. Increased gun ownership
16. Better life saving techniques in hospitals
17. More investment in inner cities
18. Gun control laws enacted
19. Gun control laws are repealed
20. Fusion centers integrate law efforts
21. The Fed has curbed inflation
22. Cell phones put more witnesses on the scene
23. Gentrification
24. Wealth moved away from criminals
25. 18-24 age group decreased 20% in past two decades

Each “expert” has listed on or more of the reasons above, yet many of the experts contradict each other. Some, for instance, might hang their hat solely on better policing and give their reasoning. Others will state it has nothing to with policing or several other reasons but will suggest their ironclad reasons for the decline. Some provide statistical correlations to prove their point and others provide countering data. Interestingly, as a side note, very few will glaringly suggest anything about gun control laws.

The analyses remind me of the 2011 film starring Jonah Hill called Moneyball about how a young economics graduate, suddenly turned scout, applied statistical analysis to the sport of baseball and changed the game. He proved that a systems approach was better than all the scouting experts in the game who had their own subjective views and approaches.

Nonetheless, even though violent crime rates have dramatically reduced, they are still significantly higher than the base rates existing prior to the 20th century. And violent crime rates in inner cities are much higher than national averages, even if they too are also dropping precipitously. Since crime is a prime reason for flight and blight, understanding why it is so much higher in the inner city and understanding what push and pull strategies have been effective thus far might lead us to advance other strategies that could be successful if applied in conjunction. Yet, what might appear logical in isolation might have no basis in application.

For instance, the average street dope dealer makes less than minimum wage in the business and yet subjects himself to great dangers. Providing realistic hope over generations for real employment in productive jobs making $12 per hour might seem a logical solution in isolation. Yet, studies have suggested that merely adding jobs that pay more than drug pushing will not significantly alter a drug pushers behavior or crime even if they take the job. They simply alter their retail hours to supplement legitimate work.

The solution has to be systemwide to be effective. It might entail not only a rebalance of work opportunities, but of education, law enforcement, the drug war, social programs, financial access, city planning, and other equally valid components to reverse the trends of our cities.

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America’s Manifest Destiny is Universal Freedom

Why do we Americans place so much faith in our leaders? We want them to represent the best that humankind can offer our future. Yet we know they suffer from the human condition and will ultimately fall short of our hopes. This is our dilemma. We absolutely must continue to hope for the future while admonishing our roots and accepting our present.

Collectively, our government is comprised of such flawed individuals as ourselves. In this fallen state, one might wonder how we could progress at all. Yet, the human spirit endeavors from one generation to the next to reach beyond our frailties, despite ourselves, toward a better world.

America has struggled through this dichotomy of living in imperfection while messily travelling to a higher plane since our beginning. We are progressing, yet are condemned to repeat our past transgressions and to retrace lost ground. Lest we forget, however, in the midst of this current crisis of transgression, it is the greater momentum toward our desired outcome, and not our shortcomings or our lost ground that results from them, that defines America and our people. Through this frustratingly slow pace of advancement, we can find hope by pausing to celebrate the progress we have made while accepting the dichotomies of who we are as Americans.

• We are a nation carved out of the wilderness by deeply religious immigrants seeking a higher plane with God. This wilderness that became the United States just so happened to contain indigenous people who opposed our founders’ vision of the future.

• America was born of freedom-seeking European settlers who risked their lives taming this wilderness just to taste the freedoms it promised. Yet these same settlers decimated the indigenous population whom they deemed as standing in the path of progress.

• We stridently defended our newfound freedoms, extending the principles of the Magna Carta to our new colonies. Yet from our earliest beginnings, we enslaved Africans and consumed their energies in conquering this land. It would eventually take a bloody civil war to right America’s path toward universal freedom.

• Our paradigm of world order was founded on centuries of English law that had brought enlightened justice to the Western world. Yet, we adopted England’s concept of property rights and monetary principles, and declared them superior to the collective property and shared wealth concepts already observed by the indigenous people of this new land. Our laws defined our “reality of righteousness” and our European legal and financial tools justified the taking of America. (One way we measure modern progress is by how wrong we judge our earlier actions to have been).

• We captured the greatest spirit of adventure in exploring America and in setting out to tame it from sea to sea. Yet, that overwhelming spirit, when taken to extreme, became the skewed rationale for “Manifest Destiny” to take land by decree, enslave other races, transfer others to reservations, and colonize still others in our quest. Ours was a history of kings that decreed power from God to place rights on parchments to take from others, and to bestow the resulting entitlements on our own immigrants.

• Our newly formed federal government of 1791 embraced mercantilism, supporting the international trade of goods, creating a new class of ship builders, merchants, professionals and traders that would propel America into the next two centuries. Yet their decision also aligned America with the English trade of African slaves feeding American cotton production to English sweat shops, producing cotton garments for Indian opium to provide Chinese underground merchants in exchange for tea. Our quest to secure American independence through growing prosperity doomed us to the worldwide interdependent travesty of trading in human injustice.

• America embraced the Constitution as a uniquely powerful document and created an experiment in democracy that would provide a beacon of hope the world over. The Constitution provided the foundation for the resulting union of states to grow in prosperity and health. Yet as the living conditions from freedom improved the well being of most, they did not for all. While the average age at death of our founding fathers was 67, the average age at death of slaves was 25, requiring an ever increasing quota of new arrivals to fill the emerging disputed reality of how America would grow and prosper through the 19th century.

• The founding spirit of America’s pioneers made ours the land of opportunity for both wealthy elite and millions of arriving immigrants. Captains of industry created vast industrial enterprises, transforming America from a nation of fiercely independent rural farmers to one of interdependent mass factories competing in the world market. America’s farmers traded their plows for the promise of better living standards from industrialization. Yet they instead gained the reality of deplorable working conditions and endured the horrors of the World War I that emanated from the world’s industries chasing market share and colonies around the globe.

• America of the 1920s promised great fortunes that were indeed made by many. But most Americans did not share in business and bankers’ newfound wealth, and were unable to purchase the goods of the businesses that employed them to keep America growing. We thus suffered the Great Depression and shared the world’s painful retracement of humanity’s advancement.

Since the Depression and resulting World War II, America endeavored to put ourselves on a hardened path toward pursuing a brighter world future. Yet our own bifurcated vision of how to achieve a better world caused America to suffer her greatest dichotomy of actions yet. Rather than a unified march toward a singular goal, we instead endeavored to attack poverty and suffering while simultaneously creating a military that would forever more end all appeasements toward a third world war.

Our nation’s desire to meet two grand goals could not be sustained by even our concentration of the world’s wealth and power. While our government indebted America to the pursuit of these two visions, America’s elite escaped the cost of our misadventure by investing their wealth in the East’s vision of a new world order and by creating a housing induced bubble to finance their wealth transfer.

We now find ourselves having repeated the transgressions of our past and having suffered our greatest greed motivated bubble ever. Knowing that the dichotomous roots of America have always required the admonition of our past and the acceptance of our present while frustratingly moving forward, we must now once again learn from our transgressions and accept who we are. We will retrace our steps, work together within the confines of our imperfections, and messily advance toward the higher plane we seek for our country and the world, for that is by definition our America.

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For America to Thrive, Congress Must Become Migrant Workers in a Pickle Factory

In late summer of 1973, the cucumber fields outside the Smucker’s pickle factory in Medina, Ohio were ripe for picking. I was barely a teenager, not old enough to qualify for minimum wage of $1.65, yet my middle school teacher, who had packed pickles every summer to make ends meet, got me a job on the “no questions asked” pickle packing line. She drove by to pick me up each afternoon while the pickles “were running” in her old Duster automobile to drive the hour to the factory. We only made $1.10 but the work was steady.

Each evening, we arrived at the Smucker’s parking lot to start work at 6 PM for a 12 hour shift that was broken up by two ten minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch. As I got out of the car that first night of pickle season, I saw several hundred migrant workers napping in the shady grass alongside the lot. Their soiled clothing covered their skin that had reddened in the Medina fields earlier that day as they picked cucumbers that would fill the pickle jars that night. They would now work their second shift on the factory floor with us.

My first night, I experienced how the world works. I walked through the long, dingily lit factory that steamed of vinegary pickle juice to take my place beside my teacher and the migrant workers of all ages, perhaps 50 workers on each side of a large conveyor belt. As we turned and looked to the front of the belt, a platform loomed over top, mounting a vat of new pickles above the conveyor. Behind the vat was a large clock on the high wall that I would stare at perhaps a thousand times that night as the minutes achingly ticked by. At the top of the factory wall, tiny horizontal windows allowed the sun rays to fall as we started our shift.

The factory manager mounted the conveyor platform to greet us and to instruct us that first pickle packing shift. The vat would drop the pickles onto the conveyor. Pickle jars would travel with the conveyor on the outside edges. Our job was to pick up these long dill pickles with one hand, place them in the opening of the jars as they travelled by, and pop them into the spaces between other pickles in the jars with the palm of our other hand. We were to repeat this motion several thousand times, stuffing each jar as full as possible, until the factory whistle would signal the end of our shift at 6 am the next morning.

That first night dragged on in slow motion. The acid from the pickle juice shredded the cuticles of my fingers and the hard concrete floor took its toll on my back. My palm ached from the repeated pounding of pickles into jars as they sailed past me. I found myself staring at the big clock on the wall only to be shocked when only five excruciating minutes had gone by. When my first break finally came, the floor supervisor led us off the factory floor to the break room, an amber tinge with four walls and a concrete floor where we could drop our sandwich bags and rest for only a brief moment before heading back to the line. Lunch came too late that night and ended too soon to relieve my stiffened body of its aches.

After having been tortured by the pickle packing pounding for 12 hours, I was relieved to see the sun peaking out over the windows lining the tops of the factory walls. As the shift whistle blew, the factory manager appeared once again on the platform above us at the head of the conveyor belt. He was like an Aztec god as the sun rays from the window pierced around his large silhouetted figure while the steam from the empty pickle vat misted the air behind him.

He lifted two large pickle jars, one in each hand, outstretched above his head. Raising his voice above the clamor of the factory that was just beginning to ratchet down, he cautioned us on our first day. “See these jars,” he shouted. “We cannot sell them. You can see that they are only half full with pickles floating inside the top. When you return at 6 PM, I expect you to pack twice as many pickles in each jar. And the conveyor belt was only travelling at 20 percent speed today. By the end of the week, you will be filling jars at full speed.”

I slumped off the factory floor that day too tired to be overwhelmed by the task that lay before me the rest of pickle packing season. Yet as I dragged myself to the Duster, I saw the migrant workers once again lying down in the shady grass to prepare for their shifts in the cucumber fields.

A few things come to mind as I recall the pickle factory 38 years later. First, American business has been executed on the backs of undocumented workers for many decades. Perhaps we should determine and document our desire for their role in our economy so that we may discontinue the farce of our “undocumented don’t ask don’t tell” policy. Undocumented workers have labored years for the benefit of America’s prosperity under the knowing eyes of millions of American business owners, politicians, coworkers, and neighbors. If they have a role in our future, then our laws should legalize whatever role that they will continue to play.

Second, our two tens and thirty minute lunch factory respite was not the leisure to which America has grown accustomed. To find any comfort in such a work environment took a discipline that will need to once again be summoned if we are to turn around America. Our growing desperation can be reversed and our belief and will to thrive can be challenged. Yet to do so, our nation’s political and business leadership must now lead.

Third, interestingly, while punishing our bodies over conveyor belts travelling at only 20 percent speed, our team of pickle packers only filled jars half full, not enough to sell into the world’s economy. We had to quickly step up to the competition. By the end of the week, we had gained the skill to grab a pickle, position it with one hand, and efficiently pop it between the folds of other pickles in continuous motion, avoiding bumping into our comrades on the line. This determination to gain world class pickle packing skills helped us all survive the pickle packing season. America must get on with retooling and retraining to take back world class jobs.

After seasons of discontent, Congress is again trudging the factory floor on its first day of pickle packing. Americans know that Congress must adapt a conveyor of ideas to a quickening speed of deliberation and that it must adopt a spirit of cooperation that allows competing ideas to pack so tightly into legislative pickle jars that when they are raised to the sunlight of tomorrow’s competition, they bulge the sides of the glass with America’s future prosperity.

The 2008 and 2010 elections lined the legislative conveyor with Democrats and Tea Partiers that that must now work tirelessly while the pickle vats are flowing. The season to turn around America is too short for the bludgeoning that we have seen thus far in debt ceiling debates. America understands that Congress is still learning how to pick up pickles and pop them into the jars of deliberation. Yet, as we see Greece’s legislature unable to meet the austerity tasks before them, we are also anxiously judging our Congress’s ability to turn up America’s legislative conveyor speed.

The debt ceiling factory boss already lifted jars above his head and said “Go back. Deliberate with speed or the automatic legislative conveyor will overtake you to slash the budget.”

Congress established a super committee to bypass the acidic pickle packing process and to avoid America’s judgment. Yet we know that all of Congress must eventually feel the hard cold factory floor and burn their cuticles in vinegary details. If America is to thrive, both aisles must quicken the legislative process in the tinge of an amber factory floor to grind out win-win, cooperative ideas for America’s turn-around.

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America’s Future Building Block #3 – Sensible Immigration Policy Can Overcome Prejudice and Right Perverse Economics

Scholars are uncertain whether the Americas may have begun their human ascent through Polynesians, Chinese, or even indigenous peoples, but history does record how the Americas’ indigenous civilizations met their utter devastation from imported disease, European conquest for Gold in Central America, and depopulation by settlers in North America. Upwards of 90 percent of the indigenous people thus died from European immigration. Europe’s inhumane entrance of introduction to the Americas would set the stage for 300 more years of race based immigration in America.

During the 16th century, Europe’s powerful elite promised the lure of gold to tempt common men into voyages of conquest and immigration, including to the Americas. For most early immigrants however, North America’s gold was the water, soil, lumber, plants, animals and religious tolerance that promised of a better life. Yet, some believed in the degraded idea of slavery and forced slaves into their equation of this “better life”. As early as 1619, the initial population of 4,000 European settlers in North America had acquired 20 slaves.

This tiny seed of 4,000 Europeans would also weed out the 15 million indigenous American indigenous people estimated to live in North America in 1619. European diseases including smallpox decimated the indigenous population. The native’s culture mutated to include the white man’s death and violent reprisals as the colonists ultimately reduced the indigenous population from 15 million to 750,000 by 1776, at the founding of America.

In 1776, the colonies were dominated by British, Northern Europeans and African slaves. In the intervening years after 1619, Southern states had accelerated forced immigration of slaves whose population in the South now exceeded 38 percent. By 1776, the sons and daughters of America’s Declaration of Independence had grown to 2.5 million. .

After Congress voted for the Constitution in 1787 prohibiting the import of slaves after 1807, Congress then passed its first immigration legislation, the Naturalization Act of 1790. While it didn’t restrict numbers of immigrants, it did limit citizenship to white, free people, disregarding the original indigenous people and the large minority of slaves in America. During the next 50 years, America’s Caucasian growth was enforced as immigration grew from 6,500 per year to about 60,000 per year mostly from England, Germany, and Ireland.

During the decade of the 1840s, immigration from Europe leaped forward as 1.7 million came to America when Ireland lost one million souls to the potato famine. America welcomed her ancestry with open arms. Yet, at the same time, China experienced an order of magnitude greater tragedy and when her immigrants came to America in much fewer numbers than Europeans, they sparked a severe immigration reaction.

After China capitulated to England’s Opium War in 1842, England poured cheap goods into China creating a massive trade imbalance, a loss of China’s silver, and a collapse of her economy (foreshadowing?). As a result, China’s agricultural economy also collapsed and China lost a million of its population to starvation every year afterward for 40 years. Over that 40 year period, 370,000 Chinese settled in America mainly in the West, as 7 million more Europeans immigrated to America.

The discovery of gold in California in 1849 and America’s building of the Continental Railroad gave Chinese immigrants escaping the conditions of their country an opportunity for low skilled jobs in California at very low pay. Their acceptance of these low wages increased wage pressures on European immigrants, which exacerbated prejudice toward Chinese first in California and then across America. Congress reacted by passing the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, the first of several acts that would ban Chinese citizenship through WWII.

After 1900, Southern and Eastern Europeans, including significant numbers of Italians and Jews, began immigrating in increasing numbers. Believing these immigrants to be “sickly and incapable of supporting the American economy”, the U.S. Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1924 to slow their inflow by setting racial quotas in percentages equal to U.S. race populations that existed in 1890 prior to the large influx of Southern and Eastern Europeans. Many say that the basis of the 1924 American immigration law was Eugenics, a bigoted system of racial supremacy. Nonetheless, this race based policy stayed in place influencing immigration with few changes through 1965.

In 1965, Congress passed the 1965 Immigration Act, establishing what it believed to be a fairer immigration policy based on skill and family reunification. Its effects were intended to be largely symbolic, showing the world that America could be the multicultural land of opportunity that it claimed. The act’s effects were anything but symbolic, creating a significant reversal of racial immigration quotas and supporting mass immigration from Asia and Central America.

Yet, immigration in 1965 had to endure the same mistrust of racial differences that existed elsewhere in America. Its unintended growth consequences exacerbated racial prejudices as Asian and Hispanic immigration unexpectedly grew exponentially. Family reunification immigrations were set outside limiting quotas, boosting immigration to three times previous levels, creating a cycle of immigration and sponsorship. Initial immigrants attained citizenship status and then sponsored relatives who in turn sponsored more relatives.

In parallel with America’s Cultural Revolution which enabled the 1965 Immigration Act, multinational corporations began to transfer jobs out of America. As outflow of American jobs accelerated in the 1980’s, America’s immigration problems were exacerbated. Manufacturing unemployment increased, the middle class diminished, and domestic employers faced severe competitive pressures from overseas due mostly in part to wage differentials. To compete, many American businesses responded by turning a blind eye to the illegal status of the low cost immigrants they hired from Central America.

With the promise of better pay, workers from Central America and their families poured illegally across America’s borders, as many as 5,000 a night, 700,000 a year, while Middle America looked on in disbelief. Why did this nation of laws, disregard its laws with such blatancy? The traditional bedfellows of politics could not come together on this issue and form a direction so our political system stalled. Illegal aliens were supported by big business and defended by humanitarians and democratic politicians. Yet, they were opposed by unions, social conservatives, and social service providers and Republicans.

As a result, while our border patrols are conscientiously attempting to defend America’s borders, the attempt is in vain. Every night, the ritual continues. Border patrol agents pick up 1,500 of the 5,000 illegal border crossers that enter America and send them back to the border towns of Mexico. Every night, 3,500 illegal aliens enter America through the Hispanic Underground Railroad to start their new clandestine-public life in America. Every morning, aliens that were captured the previous night vow to try again the next night. The next evening, America’s cynical border patrol agents start the game of cat and mouse knowing they will see the same border crossers again. All the while, America intermittently continues the debate about what to do with our immigration policy.

America’s immigration policy is in a state of flux due to competing interests, some pragmatic, some profit driven, some protectionist, others conflicted by racial equality or prejudice, and the lot are complicated by political motivations of both the Republican and Democrat parties. Current issues include:

•Conflict with American ideals
oTrue political refugees continue to be refused
o EurAmericans feel threatened by Latin Americans
o Illegals are drawn to U.S. by industry without basic human rights
o Large influx of Spanish speaking immigrants sparked a multilingual debate

•Disregard for America’s laws
o 3% of people in America are undocumented aliens
o 700,000 illegal aliens a year are crossing the southwestern border
o Terrorism and drug cartels exacerbate the open border issue
o Strict border control is not enforced
o Border towns argue for safer border, deaths to residents becoming common

•Costs of immigration
o Sustainable immigration hasn’t been identified, analyzed or supported
o Influx of low wage earners has been a net cost to public services, schools,and hospitals – Some hospitals have been bankrupted by alien costs
o Foreign criminals find asylum through illegal entry and work in America
o The underground system generates generational poverty and crime
o Humanitarians argue for open borders as deaths during crossing are common

•Perverse economics
o Domestic corporations support illegal aliens and pay low wages.
o Low wage immigrants cost more in services than they pay first generation
o Unions fear loss of wages from low cost labor
o Immigration has caused a downward pressure on job wages
o Republicans are concerned about the large increase of democrat voters

These American problems are truly not insurmountable if we can agree on universal goals and then craft an immigration policy to deal with them sensibly. For instance, my set of goals includes 1) eliminating perverse economic incentives, 2) pursuing policies that strengthen America and 3) supporting American ideals through immigration policy

1) Eliminating perverse economic incentives

Illegal immigration exists in large part because it is the black market supplier of low cost labor in America. Black markets exist when governments attempt to artificially influence supply and demand. In this case, government has attempted to set a floor on the compensation paid to the least valuable worker.

As globalism increases, it forces three perverse outcomes. First, the black market incentive for illegal aliens increases and the flood gates open on the borders. Second, for those businesses that follow the law and do not hire illegal low cost workers, they are incentivized to move their businesses offshore. Third, all workers who are forced to accept the minimum wage floor are passed over for employment in favor of illegal immigrants who will work for less pay.

Minimum wages are a horrible way to provide American citizens a consumer floor and are one of our perverse economic incentives that should be eliminated
• Minimum wages should be eliminated.
• Let American businesses set wages to world wage rates and jobs will return
• Insist that all able Americans take jobs or receive no benefits
• Ensure that Americans have jobs before illegals, no matter the wage rates set, and illegals will return to their country when they are displaced in the workforce.
• Supplement lower wages through general social policy and all citizens will be maintained at minimum consumer levels.
• Tax corporations at prevailing international rates as the market will bear and they will not be incentivized to leave America.
• Let foreign workers enter from Central America with work visas to take unfilled jobs at prevailing global rates if they are so inclined.
• Charge foreign workers for social services so they are not a negative financial drain on those services and then let them use those services.

2) Pursuing immigration policies that strengthen America

Immigration should add to America’s well being. Immigrants should enter America with the expectation of giving to the collective community. America should welcome all immigrants that can add to her productive output or that can add to her capacity to help her citizens. Important to this ideal is that Immigrants embrace America.
• Assimilate immigrants quickly with common values and language
• Recruit immigrants that will bring assets and jobs to America
• Give preference to higher skilled and self sustaining workers
• Set sustainable immigration levels for lower skill levels that meet job growth trends
• Put the family sponsor chain inside the sustainable immigration levels.

3) Supporting American ideals through immigration policy

The ideals that America espouses should align with our immigration policies. America has proclaimed to the world to bring us her huddled masses, those that have been persecuted, from all races and creeds, and from all who wish for freedom and democracy. We have long ago banished slavery and indentured servitude. Our policies should reflect these values:
• Supporting refugees fleeing persecution
• Supporting balance of all nationalities wishing to enter
• Protecting basic human rights of all U.S. residents and visa permitted foreign workers
• Strict protection of borders to protect all citizens from illegal entries
• Strict enforcement of all laws to protect citizens from criminal immigrants
• Disallowing corporations to create virtual indentured servitude of sponsored immigrants

America can find common ground by eliminating perverse economic incentives and strengthening our will to win in the worldwide economic competition. America can progress in tolerance of our differences into a true multicultural melting pot if we mitigate those issues that divide us. America can grow toward the ideals we espouse to the world if we eliminate those issues that are at war with our shared goals. It is time to take American immigration to a new strategic level. It is time for America’s immigration to work for the benefit of all Americans.

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Filed under American Governance, American Politics, Immigration, Multinational Corporations