VOX NEWS: Four Lies (And A Misleading Statement) About DACA From General Gonzo —

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/9/5/16255436/lies-jeff-sessions-daca

VOX reports:

 

“On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions officially announced the Trump administration will rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields nearly 800,000 young, unauthorized immigrants from deportation. Explaining why the Trump administration is ending the program, Sessions made several dubious claims about DACA, including how it has impacted immigration and the American economy. We fact-checked some of those claims.

DACA recipients are mostly “adult illegal aliens”
“The DACA program was implemented in 2012 and essentially provided a legal status for recipients for a renewable two-year term, worker authorization and other benefits, including participation in the Social Security program, to 800,000 mostly adult illegal aliens.”

The majority of DACA recipients are adults now, but the whole reason they were given DACA status in the first place is because they were brought to the United States as children — on average, arriving at the age of 6. The whole point of DACA and the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (also known as the DREAM Act, which has been introduced several times in Congress but never passed) was that it was a way for immigrant children who were brought to the US by their parents to have a pathway to school and work. DACA was offered to those immigrants precisely because they were young and had the potential to pursue education, get jobs, and become productive members of American society.

When the Obama administration first implemented DACA in 2012, it set a specific age range. In order to apply, immigrants had to arrive in the US before 2007. They needed to have been 15 or younger when they arrived and younger than 31 when DACA was created in June 2012. While DREAMers are often referred to as “kids,” most of them are currently in their 20s, and some are as old as 35. Some now have kids of their own, who are American citizens.

DACA contributed to a “surge of minors” streaming across the border
“The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things contributed to a surge of minors at the southern border with humanitarian consequences.”

 

While it’s true there has been a surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the border in recent years, there’s a lot of disagreement on whether it has anything to do with DACA. The program was implemented in 2012, while the border surge started a year earlier, in 2011. One study by San Diego State University researchers in 2015 found the surge had much more to do with increasing violence and worsening economic conditions in Central American countries, which were forcing people to flee.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and San Diego State conducted separate surveys of children crossing the border around this time and found that a very small percentage knew anything about DACA or how it could benefit them. Only one out of 400 refugee children surveyed by the UN had ever heard of it. About 15 children out of the 400 surveyed by San Diego State believed they would be treated differently by US border patrol agents, but they didn’t know the specifics of the DACA program. If children were unable to tell border patrol agents that they would be in danger if they were sent back, they were still vulnerable for deportation.

DACA granted unauthorized immigrants the same benefits as Americans, including Social Security
“… and other benefits, including participation in the Social Security program …”

This statement is true, but it could easily be misinterpreted: No DACA immigrant is yet eligible to draw Social Security benefits.

By saying “other benefits,” Sessions seems to imply that immigrants with DACA protection are getting the same public benefits as ordinary American families. That’s not true. DACA workers are not eligible for Obamacare subsidies, Medicaid, food stamps, or cash assistance. The statement also makes it sound like DACA workers are depleting Social Security funds, when in fact the opposite is happening.

Since the program went into effect in 2012, DACA workers and their employers have contributed billions of dollars to the Social Security system through payroll taxes. That means that ending DACA could cost the federal government $19.9 billion in Social Security revenue over ten years, according to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. Meanwhile, DACA recipients can’t currently collect Social Security benefits. For one, they have to work (legally) at least 10 years to be eligible for them, and DACA has only been around for five years. Second, all DACA recipients are under 36, so they are nowhere near retirement age. For now, then, DACA workers are giving a needed boost to the Social Security system and helping fund the retirements of millions of Americans.

DREAMers took jobs from “hundreds of thousands of Americans”
“It denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.”

This is almost certainly false. The economic evidence is very clear that immigration is a huge boon for Americans as a whole. In part that’s because of complementarity: Immigrants don’t take jobs from Americans; they let Americans take higher-skill jobs (ones requiring English language fluency, for instance) and complement their labor. America’s past experience confirms this. When the US ended a guest worker program that let Mexican laborers work on US farms in the early 1960s, wages for US farm workers didn’t rise at all, nor did more Americans get jobs. Companies simply bought more machines to make up for the lost workers.

Ending DACA will be good for immigrants
Ending DACA “will enable our country to more effectively teach new immigrants about our system of government and to assimilate them.”

This assertion has the virtue of being impossible to officially prove wrong. It’s rooted in the theory that anything the government does to regularize unauthorized immigrants, ever, will send a message to all would-be future immigrants (now and forever) that they don’t need to follow the law — so the only way to protect the rule of law is to send the message that the rule of law is respected.

Sessions and other immigration hardliners use the idea of “sending a message” to link the government’s policy at the border to its policies toward unauthorized immigrants who are currently in the US. It’s a clever move politically: the majority of Americans want DACA recipients to stay in the US, but they also want the border secure. If they think that doing the former puts the latter in jeopardy, they’re less likely to push for it.

But this theory isn’t just wrong in the particulars (see Sessions’s earlier claims about the link between DACA and the Central American border crisis of 2014). It’s a total misunderstanding of who, exactly, is in the US and would need to be “assimilated.”

The 11 million unauthorized immigrants currently in the US are, for the most part, a settled population. The average unauthorized immigrant has been in the US for over 10 years; the average DACA recipient has been in the US for 20 (having come at an average age of 6, and being on average 26 years old now).

Ironically, those immigrants settled in the US in large part because the US/Mexico border became more tightly patrolled over the 1990s and 2000s. And because they aren’t able to leave the country and return safely, they are less likely to have gone back to their home countries than legal immigrants are.

The result is that unauthorized immigrants are actually much more settled and rooted in the US than their legal-immigrant counterparts.

Ending DACA doesn’t necessarily change that. Immigrants haven’t yet “self-deported” in any large numbers. But ending DACA does make it harder for the immigrants who are settled here — and their US-born children — to fully integrate. Sessions is using the assimilation of hypothetical future immigrants to deny “assimilation” to the immigrants who are here now.

ress but never passed) was that it was a way for immigrant children who were brought to the US by their parents to have a pathway to school and work. DACA was offered to those immigrants precisely because they were young and had the potential to pursue education, get jobs, and become productive members of American society.

When the Obama administration first implemented DACA in 2012, it set a specific age range. In order to apply, immigrants had to arrive in the US before 2007. They needed to have been 15 or younger when they arrived and younger than 31 when DACA was created in June 2012. While DREAMers are often referred to as “kids,” most of them are currently in their 20s, and some are as old as 35. Some now have kids of their own, who are American citizens.

DACA contributed to a “surge of minors” streaming across the border
“The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things contributed to a surge of minors at the southern border with humanitarian consequences.”

 

While it’s true there has been a surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the border in recent years, there’s a lot of disagreement on whether it has anything to do with DACA. The program was implemented in 2012, while the border surge started a year earlier, in 2011. One study by San Diego State University researchers in 2015 found the surge had much more to do with increasing violence and worsening economic conditions in Central American countries, which were forcing people to flee.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and San Diego State conducted separate surveys of children crossing the border around this time and found that a very small percentage knew anything about DACA or how it could benefit them. Only one out of 400 refugee children surveyed by the UN had ever heard of it. About 15 children out of the 400 surveyed by San Diego State believed they would be treated differently by US border patrol agents, but they didn’t know the specifics of the DACA program. If children were unable to tell border patrol agents that they would be in danger if they were sent back, they were still vulnerable for deportation.

DACA granted unauthorized immigrants the same benefits as Americans, including Social Security
“… and other benefits, including participation in the Social Security program …”

This statement is true, but it could easily be misinterpreted: No DACA immigrant is yet eligible to draw Social Security benefits.

By saying “other benefits,” Sessions seems to imply that immigrants with DACA protection are getting the same public benefits as ordinary American families. That’s not true. DACA workers are not eligible for Obamacare subsidies, Medicaid, food stamps, or cash assistance. The statement also makes it sound like DACA workers are depleting Social Security funds, when in fact the opposite is happening.

Since the program went into effect in 2012, DACA workers and their employers have contributed billions of dollars to the Social Security system through payroll taxes. That means that ending DACA could cost the federal government $19.9 billion in Social Security revenue over ten years, according to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. Meanwhile, DACA recipients can’t currently collect Social Security benefits. For one, they have to work (legally) at least 10 years to be eligible for them, and DACA has only been around for five years. Second, all DACA recipients are under 36, so they are nowhere near retirement age. For now, then, DACA workers are giving a needed boost to the Social Security system and helping fund the retirements of millions of Americans.

DREAMers took jobs from “hundreds of thousands of Americans”
“It denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.”

This is almost certainly false. The economic evidence is very clear that immigration is a huge boon for Americans as a whole. In part that’s because of complementarity: Immigrants don’t take jobs from Americans; they let Americans take higher-skill jobs (ones requiring English language fluency, for instance) and complement their labor. America’s past experience confirms this. When the US ended a guest worker program that let Mexican laborers work on US farms in the early 1960s, wages for US farm workers didn’t rise at all, nor did more Americans get jobs. Companies simply bought more machines to make up for the lost workers.

Ending DACA will be good for immigrants
Ending DACA “will enable our country to more effectively teach new immigrants about our system of government and to assimilate them.”

This assertion has the virtue of being impossible to officially prove wrong. It’s rooted in the theory that anything the government does to regularize unauthorized immigrants, ever, will send a message to all would-be future immigrants (now and forever) that they don’t need to follow the law — so the only way to protect the rule of law is to send the message that the rule of law is respected.

Sessions and other immigration hardliners use the idea of “sending a message” to link the government’s policy at the border to its policies toward unauthorized immigrants who are currently in the US. It’s a clever move politically: the majority of Americans want DACA recipients to stay in the US, but they also want the border secure. If they think that doing the former puts the latter in jeopardy, they’re less likely to push for it.

But this theory isn’t just wrong in the particulars (see Sessions’s earlier claims about the link between DACA and the Central American border crisis of 2014). It’s a total misunderstanding of who, exactly, is in the US and would need to be “assimilated.”

The 11 million unauthorized immigrants currently in the US are, for the most part, a settled population. The average unauthorized immigrant has been in the US for over 10 years; the average DACA recipient has been in the US for 20 (having come at an average age of 6, and being on average 26 years old now).

Ironically, those immigrants settled in the US in large part because the US/Mexico border became more tightly patrolled over the 1990s and 2000s. And because they aren’t able to leave the country and return safely, they are less likely to have gone back to their home countries than legal immigrants are.

The result is that unauthorized immigrants are actually much more settled and rooted in the US than their legal-immigrant counterparts.

Ending DACA doesn’t necessarily change that. Immigrants haven’t yet “self-deported” in any large numbers. But ending DACA does make it harder for the immigrants who are settled here — and their US-born children — to fully integrate. Sessions is using the assimilation of hypothetical future immigrants to deny “assimilation” to the immigrants who are here now.”

***********************************

America’s leading xenophobe racist continues to roll out the false White Nationalist narrative.

PWS

09-05-17

BEHIND THE TRUMP/GOP SCHEME TO SLASH LEGAL IMMIGRATION: The Economics Are Bogus, But The White Nationalist Agenda Is Real!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/03/us/politics/legal-immigration-jobs-economy.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_up_20170804&nl=upshot&nl_art=3&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

“WASHINGTON — When the federal government banned the use of farmworkers from Mexico in 1964, California’s tomato growers did not enlist Americans to harvest the fragile crop. They replaced the lost workers with tomato-picking machines.

The Trump administration on Wednesday embraced a proposal to sharply reduce legal immigration, which it said would preserve jobs and lead to higher wages — the same argument advanced by the Kennedy and Johnson administrations half a century ago.

But economists say the tomato story and a host of related evidence show that there is no clear connection between less immigration and more jobs for Americans. Rather, the prevailing view among economists is that immigration increases economic growth, improving the lives of the immigrants and the lives of the people who are already here.

“The average American worker is more likely to lose than to gain from immigration restrictions,” said Giovanni Peri, an economist at the University of California, Davis.

The Trump administration is proposing sharp reductions in the number of skilled and unskilled workers who are allowed to become permanent residents, halving annual immigration from the current level of roughly one million people a year.

“This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first,” President Trump said.

The proposal revives elements of President George W. Bush’s effort to rewrite federal immigration law in 2007, and it appears no more likely to succeed. It already has drawn sharp opposition from Democrats and from some Senate Republicans.

Economists say that skilled immigrant workers are clearly good for the American economy. The United States could import computers; if it instead imports computer engineers, the money they earn is taxed and spent in the United States. Moreover, some of those engineers invent new products — or even entirely new technologies.

The administration says it still wants high-skilled workers, and it has described the cuts as targeted at low-skilled immigrants. It would still issue roughly 140,000 merit-based green cards each year, while sharply reducing the number of people admitted as family members of current residents.

But about one-third of those family members who received green cards since 2000 had college degrees, Mr. Peri said. “People have an outdated image” of legal immigration, he said. “It’s mostly Asian, Indian, Chinese people who are coming to do mid- and high-level professional jobs.”

George J. Borjas, the Harvard immigration economist whose work is the only evidence that the administration has cited as justifying its proposals, said in an interview on Wednesday that there was no economic justification for reducing skilled immigration.

“That is a political decision,” he said. “That is not an economic decision.”

. . . .

Most studies put the negative impact on low-skilled wages closer to zero, Mr. Peri said.

One key reason is that immigrants often work in jobs that exist only because of the availability of cheap labor. Picking tomatoes is a good example. California farmers in the 1950s and early ’60s relied on Mexican workers even though machines were already available. In 1964, 97 percent of California tomatoes were picked by hand.

The United States let farmers hire Mexican workers on seasonal permits, a program that began as a response to labor shortages during World War II. By the early 1960s, the program was politically untenable. “It is adversely affecting the wages, working conditions, and employment opportunities of our own agricultural workers,” President John F. Kennedy declared in 1962. President Lyndon B. Johnson ended the program in 1964.

By 1966, 90 percent of California tomatoes were being picked by machines.

“The story that ‘when labor supplies go down, wages go up’ is a cartoon,” said Michael A. Clemens, an economist at the Center for Global Development who has studied the end of the Mexican guest-worker program, which was known as the Bracero program.

Similarly, in the present day, some American dairy farmers warn that the nation needs to continue importing farm workers or it will end up importing milk.

Low-skilled immigration can also provide a boost to the rest of the economy.

A 2011 study found that high-skilled women were more likely to work in cities with high levels of immigrants, because families could pay for child care or elder care.

The National Academy of Sciences made an ambitious effort to assess the bottom line in 2016. It concluded that the average immigrant cost state and local governments about $1,600 a year from 2011 to 2013 — but the children and grandchildren of immigrants paid far more in taxes than they consumed in public services.

More broadly, the report concluded that immigration benefited the economy.

A recent analysis by economists at JPMorgan Chase concluded that halting immigration completely would reduce annual economic growth by 0.3 percent.

The Trump administration’s immigration proposal would also change the rules for merit-based immigration. It wants to create a point system that would give higher priority to applicants based on factors including age, job skills and the ability to speak English.

Canada and Australia use similar points-based systems to pick immigrants.

Some economists argue that it would be better to just let the market make decisions, for example, by using a system like the H-1B visa program that allows companies to request permission for workers to come to the United States on a temporary basis.

Also, Mr. Clemens said that points-based systems tended to prioritize education. That might not be advantageous to the economy when in fact employers also need workers with fewer skills. He noted that the Commerce Department has projected that demand for workers without a college education will significantly outstrip the growth of the working-age population.

“It’s a political myth that the principal need is for high-skilled workers,” he said.”

*********************************************

Read the complete article at the link.

“Meat for the Trump Base” means potential disaster for our country (and that base would not be exempt from the the adverse effects of the attitudes and platitudes that they are inflicting on the rest of us).

PWS

08-04-17

H-1B NONIMMIGRANTS: A Needed Visa In Need Of Reform — It’s Essential For Our Economy, But It’s Wrong When US Workers Are Displaced & Degraded — A Plea For Reform By One Who Has Benefitted From The System But Sees The Abuses!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/04/us/understanding-the-h-1b-visa/index.html

Moni Bassu writes in CNN:

“Palmer and other H-1B reformers want accountability.
They say US companies must be required to document their searches to fill positions with American workers. Employers must pay prevailing wages and be prevented from subcontracting or outsourcing H-1B jobs.
Reform advocates are pushing for a system of government enforcement and oversight of the H-1B regulations, not one that is reliant on whistleblowers to expose abuse.
Technology is here to stay. And it is changing at warp speed. The demand for smart talent is not going away. That’s why even the biggest critics of H-1B are the most ardent backers of reform, not elimination.
What I hear them saying is the system ought to work the way it used to, when my father obtained an H-1 visa. He was hired for a job he was uniquely qualified for, and he was compensated with a decent wage.
No one wants to see Americans lose their jobs unfairly, and if my father were still alive, I know he’d be troubled by what I learned about the current H-1B program.
I also know he would be heartened to see that some of the most ardent backers of visa reform are Indian Americans. After all, we are the ones who have most reaped the rewards of H-1B.”
**********************************************
The full article, which gives actual examples of both the benefits and the abuses of the H-1B program is a “must read.” Get it at the link.
Several thoughts. I was very critical, and still am, of House Immigration Subcommittee GOP Members for starting off with controversial, “in your face,” and unneeded enforcement-only bills. See http://wp.me/p8eeJm-Qw
Why not instead start with something bipartisan that would be good for America, like H-1B reform. Chairman Grassley in the Senate has expressed strong interest in reforming the H-1B category to eliminate abuses. And, it appears that most major U.S. employers who use H-1Bs also see the need for reform to preserve and improve the program.
Additionally, things like investment visa “EB-5” reform also appear likely to attract support from both sides of the aisle in both houses.
A second thought, why don’t U.S. companies, particularly those started or run by immigrants, which use H-1Bs start the reforms now. “Reverse” the process. Use highly talented H-1B workers to train U.S. workers, particularly in places where the economic rebound has not yet reached, for whatever reason.
For example, in a recent blog dealt with the situation in the small city of Gillette, WY. http://wp.me/p8eeJm-UY  The folks seemed nice, optimistic, and interested in a brighter future for their community. But, with or without Trump and his environment-busting policies, coal mining as a way of life is on the way out. I can’t imagine that too many of the younger generation are hanging around places like Gillette.
Why not go in and establish some tech centers using H-1Bs as trainers. Sure, working on a computer in an office isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I get that. But, it is something that can be done from anywhere.
And, the costs of doing business, at least initially, are likely to be less in a place like Gillette. Increased economic activity brings with it other needs: buildings, houses, markets, auto dealers, repair shops, HVAC technicians, public servants, schools, teachers, etc. So, there could be something for everyone, even those who don’t want to work at a desk all day.
Maybe, it’s time for those who want immigration reform to stop talking and whining and start doing. Things that demonstrably work and help folks out build their own bases of support. That’s better than trying to convince folks with statistics and pie charts!
PWS
06-05-17

America’s Parallel Universe: Out There In Wyoming, Coal Is Back, Trump Is King, & The Skies Are Not Cloudy All Day (Or, More Accurately, “My Sky Is Blue And My Water Is Clean”) — As For The Rest Of The World Who Might Like To Live Above Water Or Breathe Clean Air? — Just Not On The Radar Screen!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-trump-country-a-new-feeling-optimism/2017/06/01/7a0053da-3403-11e7-b373-418f6849a004_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_optimism-710pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.48ba05840b4e

Robert Samuels reports from Gillette, WYO for the Washington Post:

“In Gillette and surrounding Campbell County, people were beginning to feel the comeback they voted for. Unemployment has dropped by more than a third since March 2016, from 8.9 percent to 5.1 percent. Coal companies are rehiring workers, if only on contract or for temporary jobs. More people are splurging for birthday parties at the Prime Rib and buying a second scoop at the Ice Cream Cafe.

Maybe it was President Trump. Much was surely because of the market, after a colder winter led to increases in coal use and production. But in times when corporate profits are mixed with politics, it was difficult for people here to see the difference.

“I’m back to work,” Gorton said. “It’s real. Did Trump do it all? I don’t think so. But America voted in a man who was for our jobs.”

In a divided nation, optimism had bloomed here in a part of the country united in purpose and in support of the president. Close to 90 percent voted for the same presidential candidate, and 94 percent of the population is the same race. And everyone has some connection to the same industry. They felt optimistic about the tangible effects of the Trump economy, which favors fossil fuels, and the theoretical ones, which favor how they see themselves. Once on the fringes, their jobs had become the centerpiece of Trump’s American mythology.

. . . .

“We once powered the nation,” Gorton said. “But you got the feeling that things are not quite the same and that political forces are encroaching on your livelihood. It’s like they are willing to take away your town.”

Now the fear of what might be taken away was carried by someone else. There was another side of this American story, a tenser and more terrifying one, where immigrant families worried about deportation raids and ­liberals marched with witty ­placards to protest the “war on science.”

Far beyond the borders of this isolated town, many Americans were gripped by the latest evidence of the president’s coziness with the Russians, and wondered why the white working and middle classes hadn’t abandoned their increasingly unpopular president. In that America, the early optimism about Trump was fading. A Quinnipiac poll released last month said that 52 percent of Americans were pessimistic about the country’s direction, 20 percent higher than when Trump was inaugurated. And Friday’s anemic employment report, showing the country gained only 138,000 jobs in May, provided little consolation.

Gorton found it difficult to reconcile those two polarized feelings; it seemed that either you had to believe in the country’s pending prosperity or its impending doom.

“I know there are people who are scared about where the country is headed, but before I was scared,” Gorton said. “Either they’re dreaming, or I’m dreaming.”

*************************************************************

The question is, once Trump and his cronies are done with their policies of hate, disrespect, and divisiveness, will anyone ever be able to put the pieces of America together again?

Seems like folks on both sides of the aisle should have been able to get together and solve the problems of the nice people of Gillette without reigniting an essentially dying industry that, in the long run, is neither economically viable nor environmentally desirable. When the world fries, I doubt that God will exempt Wyoming from the consequences. Those skies could get cloudy some day. And, by that time, the Trump crowd will be long gone.

PWS

06-03-17

WashPost: Administration Warns Employers Not To Use H-1B Program To “Dis” U.S. Workers!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/us-tells-companies-not-to-overlook-qualified-americans/2017/04/04/87fa4e06-1909-11e7-8598-9a99da559f9e_story.html?utm_term=.fe6b3da5783c

Sadie Gurman reports for the AP:

“WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has issued a stern warning to U.S. companies as they begin applying for coveted skilled-worker visas, cautioning that it would investigate and prosecute those who overlook qualified American workers for jobs.

The message came on the opening day of applications for American employers seeking visas known as H-1B, which are used mostly by technology companies to bring in programmers and other specialized workers from other countries.

“U.S. workers should not be placed in a disfavored status, and the department is wholeheartedly committed to investigating and vigorously prosecuting these claims,” Tom Wheeler, acting head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement.

The Obama administration sued companies for violating the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provisions, including businesses that favored foreigners over U.S. workers. But Monday’s warning in a news release at the start of the visa process appeared to be a first-of-its kind signal to employers not to put American workers at a disadvantage.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services also announced that it would step up its reviews of employers that use H-1B visas, saying “too many American workers who are qualified, willing and deserving to work in these fields have been ignored or unfairly disadvantaged.”

The statements were the latest indication that even legal immigration will be scrutinized under the Trump administration.”

***********************************

Interesting that Jeff Sessions and the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division are getting so involved in the H-1B program. Normally, H-1B enforcement would be a matter for the DHS, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Office of Special Counsel for Unfair Immigration-Related Employment Practices at the DOJ. But, I suppose without any voting rights or police abuse cases to investigate, the Civil Rights Division will have some time on its hands for taking on some new immigration enforcement responsibilities.

Another thought.  Rather than battling the Administration over the H-1B program and threatening to move tech operations to Canada and elsewhere if their demands are not met, why don’t U.S. tech companies and Democrats “think outside the box.”

Why not make areas of the “Rust Belt” with willing workers and high unemployment the new “Silicon Valley East?” Use H-1Bs to re-train U.S. workers for permanent jobs in technology. Build new offices or refurbish abandoned plants. Establish training programs with local community colleges and technical colleges. Fund some opioid addiction treatment programs to get capable workers off of drugs and into jobs where they have some future. Support regional airports in “the hinterlands” that Trump is trying to shut down.

Trump seems only vaguely interested in addressing the real problems of unemployed and underemployed workers. If he actually does succeed in so-called “health care reform,” (that is transferring money from the needy to the rich) their situation will become immeasurably worse. Futile grandstanding like relaxing environmental controls for an “ain’t gonna happen” revival of the coal industry, appointing Gov. Chris “The Bridge” Christie to a form a new governmental committee on opioid addiction, or having Jeff Sessions divert the Civil Rights Division into H-1B investigations aren’t serious attempts to address the issues.

But, so far, the Dems and the leaders of the tech industry have been largely MIA on practical solutions to these problems that Trump seems unlikely to address in any realistic manner. So, while the Dems are tilting at the “Gorsuch Windmill,” which I can guarantee you isn’t a concern for most “Dems turned Trump voters” in the Rust Belt, the opportunity for real leadership, genuine concern for U.S. workers, and demonstrated problem solving is going by the boards. Maybe that’s how Donald Trump became President with 46.4% of the vote.

Just proving once again the Trump might not have to act presidential or accomplish much of positive value to be a two-term President. And, as he has already shown, he can do that relatively easily even if he never attains the approval of the majority of Americans.

PWS

04/04/17

 

NYT: Tilting At Windmills — Trump’s Coal Mining Fantasyland — “Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back, To your hometown, To your hometown!”**

**Bruce Springtsteen — My Hometown

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/business/coal-jobs-trump-appalachia.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share&_r=0

Hiroko Tabushi writes in the NY Tmes:

“In Decatur, Ill., far from the coal mines of Appalachia, Caterpillar engineers are working on the future of mining: mammoth haul trucks that drive themselves.

The trucks have no drivers, not even remote operators. Instead, the 850,000-pound vehicles rely on self-driving technology, the latest in an increasingly autonomous line of trucks and drills that are removing some of the human element from digging for coal.

When President Trump moved on Tuesday to dismantle the Obama administration’s climate change efforts, he promised it would bring coal-mining jobs back to America. But the jobs he alluded to — hardy miners in mazelike tunnels with picks and shovels — have steadily become vestiges of the past.

Pressured by cheap and abundant natural gas, coal is in a precipitous decline, now making up just a third of electricity generation in the United States. Renewables are fast becoming competitive with coal on price. Electricity sales are trending downward, and coal exports are falling.

All the while, the coal industry has been replacing workers with machines and explosives. Energy and labor specialists say that no one — including Mr. Trump — can bring them all back.

“People think of coal mining as some 1890s, colorful, populous frontier activity, but it’s much better to think of it as a high-tech industry with far fewer miners and more engineers and coders,” said Mark Muro, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

“The regulatory changes are entirely outweighed by these technological changes, not to mention the price of natural gas or renewables,” Mr. Muro said. “Even if you brought back demand for coal, you wouldn’t bring back the same number of workers.”

. . . .

“In 1980, the industry employed about 242,000 people. By 2015, that figure had plunged 60 percent, to fewer than 100,000, even as coal production edged up 8 percent. Helped by automation, worker productivity more than tripled over the same period, according to data from the federal Energy Information Administration and the Brookings Institution.

And a recent study by the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment predicted that automation was likely to replace 40 to 80 percent of workers at mines.

Automation makes mines more “safe, efficient and productive,” said Corrie Scott, a Caterpillar spokeswoman. “While mines would not need as many drivers, they will need more people who use and understand the latest technology,” she said.

“However way you spin it, gas and renewables are going to continue to replace coal,” said Nicolas Maennling, senior economics and policy researcher at Columbia University and an author of the automation study.

“And in order to stay competitive, coal will have to increase automation,” he said. “What Mr. Trump does will make little difference.”

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Yup,  I understand the President is a leader, not a technocrat. That’s why a good political leader surrounds him or herself with competent staff and also draws on the huge wealth of technical expertise available in the Federal Civil Service.

Surrounding yourself instead with idealogical know-nothings and sycophants like Bannon, Miller, and Priebus is pure political malpractice at the highest level.

(Note that I didn’t include Conway in the group. I think she’s probably the smartest of the bunch. She was the “brains” behind what has to go down as one of the most unexpected electoral triumphs in American political history, regardless of whether or not you like the result. And I wouldn’t accuse her of being a sycophant. But, she is totally loyal to a fault, and therefore keeps throwing herself on her sword over and over for The Leader. I also didn’t include Spicer. He has his bad days, for sure. But, he has the hardest job in Washington, and that includes The Leader himself. I actually doubt anyone could do it better. He won’t last too long. But, after he’s gone, not only Melissa McCarthy is likely to miss him.)

PWS

03/30/17