Archive for category: Economics

Friday Quote – Thomas Sowell

08 Feb
February 8, 2019

I cannot understand people who say that minorities should be represented everywhere and yet are upset when there are blacks represented in the conservative movement.

Tax the Texts!

24 Jan
January 24, 2019

California’s Public Utilities Commission is considering taxing text messages. People aren’t doing voice calls as much and the commission is spending a lot more for its subsidy program for telecommunications for low income people.

I’d laugh, but this is something I could see spread across the nation. The states have trillions in unfunded obligations, and they’ll be looking for any way to extract more cash from the populace.

Derek’s Immigration Scheme

17 Jan
January 17, 2019

I’ve been listening to the subtext to the wall debate, and it really comes down to immigration. How many people should we let in and how should we decide to let in? It isn’t easy, because America has a long tradition of being the beacon of hope for people who want to make a new life. We’ve always accepted, if not easily, immigrants, and integrated them into the larger American ideal.

Some of the issues that I’m seeing: 1. A demand for low-skilled, low-cost labor for some segments of the economy. 2. Democrats hoping to import a large enough voter base to replace the blue-collar white demographic that their current identity politics agenda is alienating. 3. Republicans (under Trump) supporting a backlash against what it thinks is an invasion of illegals coming up from the southern border, as well as a strong nativist element. 4. Humanitarian issues in Central and South America as well as the Middle East driven mostly by corrupt regimes exacerbated by American policies (namely the War on Drugs and the War on Terror). 5. The need to keep out individuals who have a demonstrated pattern of causing harm to others (i.e., criminals, terrorists).

In another of my early morning/half-asleep ruminations, I started fleshing out a system. This is the kind of system I would consider implementing if anyone was foolish enough to give me full autocratic power. Because I have a streak of the patriotic, I’m calling these Blue, Red, and White paths.

Citizenship – Blue Path

My general requirements for citizenship would generally be limited to ensuring the individual does not have a demonstrated pattern of causing harm to others (i.e., criminals, terrorists) and is willing to swear the oath. The reason I would make it that simple is because I would limit the number of people allowed in under the citizenship path each year to approximately 5% of the last census. So, for a country of 320 million, that would mean 16 million slots. So, how to decide who comes in? I break it into three groups.

  1. Merit-based immigrants – These would be based on a point system designed to find those immigrants who will have an estimated net benefit to society and the economy as well as having few integration issues. Things that would provide high points would be in-demand job skills, literacy in English (it is the current lingua franca of the country), immediate family that are already citizens, willingness to serve in the military, and prior work visas or temporary residency visas with no issues. These would be approximately fifty-percent of the available slots.
  2. Asylumn Seekers – These are not refugees (which will be addressed later), but those who are coming to America because of dangers in their country of origin and wish to settle here permanently. There should be a demonstrated danger to life. These would be approximately forty-percent of the available slots.
  3. Fee Immigrants – These are people who may not qualify based on points or for asylum, and are willing to pay for citizenship. The cost should be equal to two years’ of the median salary. So, as of 2019, approx. $96,000. The immigrant or a sponsor may pay this fee. This fee would go specifically to funding immigration processing. These would be approximately ten percent of the available slots, or any unused slots from the above two groups at the end of the fiscal year.

Now, here’s the kicker for Blue Path. I would let the states accept additional immigrants under the own rules. These additional immigrants must meet the basic citizenship criteria. The states would be allowed to accept up to three percent of their last census population. So, for Florida, the state would allowed to bring in an additional 600,000 immigrants based on its own criteria. The states would be responsible for processing these immigrants to the federal standard. Failure would result in suspension of that state’s immigration authority until federal courts were satisfied that the state was in compliance.

Temporary Residency – Red Path

This would allow for people to stay in the United States for a determined period. They must have no demonstrated pattern of causing harm to others (i.e., criminals, terrorists). While here, they can work, study, or travel. They can come and go as much as they like within the defined time period. What they cannot do is vote or receive federal benefits. I don’t like the concept of permanent residency or limited scope visas. If you want to come here for a limited time, I don’t care. I would set these to:

  1. Sixty-day visas – These are aimed at travelers and short-term workers. These would not be available for renewal. If a person wants to come twice in the year, they would have to apply for a second sixty-day visa. These would be on a first-come, first-serve basis. These would be limited to twenty percent of last census per year. So, for 2019, approximately 64 million sixty-day visas would be issued.
  2. Two-year visas – These are aimed at longer-term workers, graduate students, and those who want to live in America while applying for citizenship. These can be renewed once for an additional two years and bypass the annual issuance thresholds. These would be issued on point basis with a preference for work or study. These would be limited to twenty percent of last census per year. So, for 2019, approximately 64 million two-year visas would be issued.
  3. Five-year visas – These are aimed at university students, entrepreneurs, workers, and family members of citizens. These can be renewed without limit and bypass the annual issuance thresholds. Yes, I know this means a person can be a permanent “temporary resident” if they are diligent about renewing their visa. These would be limited to 10 percent of last census per year. So, for 2019, approximately 32 million five-year visas would be issued.

So, what happens if someone overstays their visa? Automatic deportation to their country of origin and a ban on applying for a visa for a minimum of one year, or the length of the original visa, whichever is longer. A temporary resident convicted of a violent felony will be deported to their country of origin after serving their sentence with an additional ten years added to their ban on applying for a visa.

Refugees – White Path

Refugees are fleeing a temporary humanitarian emergency in their country of origin and are expected to return to their country after the emergency is passed. Because of the nature of the emergency, it may not be possible to screen for demonstrated pattern of causing harm to others. As such, refugees will be settled into camps. These camps will consist of no more than 10,000 refugees and provide minimum amenities and basic services. All able-bodied persons above the age of 16 will be required to work in the camps. People designated as refugees may not apply for sixty-day visas, but may apply for any other visa or citizenship. Failure to work will result in deportation to country of origin. Conviction of a felony while in the camp will result in deportation to country of origin. Being outside the camp without authorization will result in deportation to country of origin. Refugees may not stay in the camp longer than the duration of the emergency or one year, whichever is longer.

Illegal Aliens

So, what about those here illegally? I would break them up into three classes.

  1. Class 1 Illegal Aliens – These are those who overstayed their visas. I’ve already detailed in the Red Path what would happen to these individuals.
  2. Class 2 Illegal Aliens – These are those who are back in the country after being deported or without ever having a visa. First violation would be deportation with a five-year ban on applying for a visa or citizenship. Second violation would be deportation with a lifetime ban on applying for a visa or citizenship.
  3. Class 3 Illegal Aliens – Intruders – These are individuals who are back in the country who already have two violations under the Class 2 criteria, those without a visa who are convicted of a violent felony, and/or those who have a demonstrated pattern of causing harm to others. This is going to sound contrary to my opposition to capital punishment, but these individuals would be executed. These are people who have shown a pattern of invasion and/or causing harm to the citizenry of this nation. At that point, they’re intruders. We kill intruders.

For the ones currently in the country at the time of implementation, I would give them thirty days to apply for either a visa or citizenship. After that, they will be treated as Class 2 Illegal Aliens.

Broke People and Poor People

27 Dec
December 27, 2018

There’s an article in the local fish wrapper about rent to own pets.

she took home the fuzzy black poodle her daughter picked out at Puppies Tampa. She got the food bowls, the leash. The toys, the treats. But the purebred dog came at a premium cost. One, she said, a pet store employee assured her could be managed through a finance plan for which Rodriguez would certainly be approved.

Essentially, the protagonist of the story entered into a “rent to own” agreement for a $1,500 dog. She didn’t realize this until she was told by her bankruptcy attorney. And now she’s suing because the people didn’t properly explain the dog could be repo’d if she missed a payment.

The theme of the story was “evil companies use predatory loan practices on the most vulnerable for pets.” My takeaway was “don’t do poor people things, like finance a fifteen-hundred dollar dog.”

Dave Ramsey explains the difference between broke and poor. Broke is a condition that you find yourself in usually because of mistakes, but sometimes because of other events. Poor is a mindset. It’s usually tied with a failure to delay gratification combined with financial illiteracy. One of the big characteristics of poor is blaming others for your situation. I can’t get ahead because someone is keeping me down.

My guiding principle for charity is hand up, not handout. I am willing to help a broke person, but not a recalcitrant poor person. It may sound cruel, but I want to make sure my limited charitable resources do the most good.

Single Payer Is Not A Good Thing

12 Dec
December 12, 2018

John Stossel has an article over at Reason on some of the reasons why single-payer healthcare is a bad thing. One of the fun quotes:

…Canada, England, Norway, Cuba, and a few other countries do have genuine single-payer. I’m constantly told that it works well—people get good care and never have to worry about a bill. They spend less on health care and live longer.

[Chris] Pope says that claim is naive.

They do live longer in many of those countries, but it’s not because they get superior health care; it’s because fewer of them are fat; fewer crash cars; and they shoot each other less often. “Take out (obesity), car accidents and gun violence, the difference in life expectancy disappears entirely,” Pope says.

The article doesn’t even touch one of my fundamental critiques – namely, don’t give government control of stuff you don’t want to see denied to people who think like you. Both sides have weaponized different parts of the government for their own ends. Now imagine what they can do with total control over healthcare.

Who’s Your State’s Largest Employer?

26 Nov
November 26, 2018

I saw this article in the Book of Face. It was being shared by a couple of my more progressive friends who were crowing that Wal-Mart was the largest employer for large swaths of the country. This was evidence that the low unemployment rate was all low-paying jobs. Now, I try not to step into folks’ digital living rooms and start a fight. That’s what I have the blog for.

First, it is the height of arrogance to assume that: 1. All Walmart employees are low-paid wage slaves earning at or just above the minimum wage. I don’t doubt that a large section of the employees are lower paid because A) that’s true for all retail, and B) they’re unskilled labor. I don’t pay a cashier the same as I do a carpenter.

  1. Walmart employees are somehow locked into horrible jobs because they are too stupid to find better work or Walmart somehow destroys all other opportunities. I don’t doubt that for some employees, they feel locked into the job because it’s the best they can do for their circumstances. Hell, I felt that way working for McDonald’s. Circumstances change though.

Another thing I noticed on the map was the prevalence of healthcare systems and university systems as large employers. Two industries heavily subsidized by government funding. Hell, Colorado’s largest is an airport, which is another government-run entity. This could be bad when interest rates go back up to historic norms and governments have to make hard choices.

Lastly, the one thing that’s missing from this map is what percentage of the total workforce is represented by the largest employer. Let’s take Florida for example. Florida has approximately twenty million residents. For the sake of the argument, let’s say just half of them are gainfully employed. Even if all of Walmart’s 1.5 million employees were in Florida, that would represent just fifteen percent of workers. Which means that eighty-five percent are doing other work. Some will be low pay, but not all. Probably not even most.

These maps can be interesting, but not the basis for in-depth economic analyses.

Friday Quote – F.A. Hayek

23 Nov
November 23, 2018

The curious task of economics is to to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.

Friday Quote – Jared Howe

26 Oct
October 26, 2018

Anything which requires the labor or property of other people is not a basic human right. That includes education, healthcare, food, internet access, housing, or anything else that involves an investment of capital and labor. To demand free goods and services from people who sacrifice time and capital to produce them is to demand that those people become your slaves. You don’t have the right to enslave people for food or education or healthcare anymore than plantation owners had a right to enslave people to pick cotton.

Do You Understand Insurance?

18 Oct
October 18, 2018

An article in the local fish wrapper decries the fact that insurance companies use ZIP codes as part of determining the premium for auto insurance.

The analysis, released Monday, found that good drivers in lower-income areas are charged $410 more on average than good drivers in higher-income areas — and Tampa is no exception.

According to the analysis, there is an 18 percent difference on average in auto premiums for Tampa drivers depending on the average income of an area.

The issuer of the report, the Consumer Federation Of America, is worried that lower income folks are being penalized for where they live.

Of course, there’s very good reason why those ZIP codes may cause higher premiums – crime. Auto theft and vandalism are more prevalent in those areas than in others. That would put those areas in a higher risk of having to pay out a claim. Higher risks require higher premiums. Does it suck that a good driver has to pay more when (s)he did nothing more than live in a bad area? Yes. It would suck even more if they couldn’t obtain car insurance because some politician listed to the Consumer Federation Of America and forced the insurance companies to charge premiums below the risk.

Friday Quote – Thomas Sowell

05 Oct
October 5, 2018

There are three questions that will destroy most of the arguments on the left: 1. Compared to what? 2. At what cost? 3. What hard evidence do you have?