What infrastructure did we build for the Americans added between 2010 and 2020?

From our Census Bureau:

  • U.S. population on April 1, 2010: 308,745,538
  • U.S. population on April 1, 2020: 331,449,281

That’s an increase of 22,703,743 people (unclear how many of the new undocumented Americans are included in this count by friendly government agents; see “Yale Study Finds Twice as Many Undocumented Immigrants as Previous Estimates”).

22.7 million is roughly the population of Illinois and Michigan combined. Those two states have 563,237 lane-miles of road (source). Were 563,237 lane-miles added between 2010 and 2020 nationwide? Here’s a chart from the U.S. Department of Transporation:

In case you’re wondering why you’re always stuck in traffic, the above chart shows that lane-miles have barely budged since 1980 while vehicle-miles actually traveled have grown by roughly 50 percent. The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics offers finer-grained data: 8,542,163 lane-miles in 2009 and 8,785,398 lane-miles in 2019 (243,235 new lane-miles over 10 years, but essentially flat since 2014; the growth over 10 years was only 2.8 percent, less than half the 7.4 percent growth in population).

It is more difficult to get statistics on other elements of infrastructure, e.g., square footage of school buildings, capacity in water and sewer systems, capacity of the electricity grid, etc. But my sense is that none of these are being expanded at the same rate as population.

If roads, schools, water/sewer, electric grid, etc. remain constant while the population grows, doesn’t that mean we’re turning the U.S. circa 2030 into India circa 1990?


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Book review: Fordlandia

Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City, by Greg Grandin, is on an always-timely subject: grand plans of rich scientists and technocrats encountering nature and human nature.

The subject of the book is Henry Ford’s attempt to bring the benefits of American management to rubber cultivation in the Brazilian Amazon. The resulting town, Fordlandia, still exists, possibly home to as many as 3,000 people. The endeavor was begun in 1928 based on a foundation of false premises, the worst of which was that rubber prices would rise dramatically. There was a lot of enthusiasm for the idea, though, even beyond Ford’s offices:

“If the machine, the tractor, can open a breach in the great green wall of the Amazon jungle, if Ford plants millions of rubber trees where there used to be nothing but jungle solitude,” wrote a German daily, “then the romantic history of rubber will have a new chapter. A new and titanic fight between nature and modern man is beginning.” One Brazilian writer predicted that Ford would finally fulfill the prophecy of Alexander von Humboldt, the Prussian naturalist who over a century earlier said that the Amazon was destined to become the “world’s granary.”

Time reported that Ford intended to increase its rubber planting every year “until the whole jungle is industrialized,” cheered on by the forest’s inhabitants: “soon boa constrictors will slip down into the jungle centers; monkeys will set up a great chattering. Black Indians armed with heavy blades will slash down their one-time haunts to make way for future windshield wipers, floor mats, balloon tires.” Ford was bringing “white man’s magic” to the wilderness, the Washington Post wrote, intending to cultivate not only “rubber but the rubber gatherers as well.”

(Humboldt was a genius, but we can’t win them all! See Humboldt Biography: Climate Change Alarmism Not New.)

The city that Ford built was 18 hours by boat, both then and now, from urban civilization.

Why cultivate rubber in the Amazon? The European colonial powers took the rubber tree seeds and set up plantations in Asia, far away from the pests that had evolved along with the trees in the Amazon. Africa was another possibility, in terms of climate, but Ford rejected this idea:

Latex, thought Liebold, the American-born son of German Lutheran parents, should be cultivated “where the people themselves have reached a higher state of civilization.” Ford’s secretary decided that this ruled out Liberia, a country “composed entirely of Negroes whose mentality and intellectual possibilities are quite low.” “Rubber should be grown where it originated,” Liebold concluded. And that meant the Amazon.

How was it done before in the Amazon?

Hevea brasiliensis can grow as high as a hundred feet, standing straight with an average girth, at breast height, of about one meter in diameter. It’s an old species, and during its millennia-long history there likewise evolved an army of insects and fungi that feed off its leaves, as well as mammals that eat its seeds. In its native habitats of Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador, it best grows wild, just a few trees per acre, far enough apart to keep bugs and blight at bay; would-be planters soon learned that the cultivation of large numbers of rubber trees in close proximity greatly increased the population of rubber’s predators. The extraction and processing of latex, therefore, was based not on developing large plantations or investing in infrastructure but rather on a cumbersome and often violent system of peonage, in which tappers were compelled to spread out through the jungle and collect sap.

Tappers, known as seringueiros, lived scattered along the river, sometimes with their families but often alone, with their huts located at the head of one or two looped rubber trails that ran a few miles, connecting between a hundred and two hundred trees. In the morning, starting before sunrise, when the latex flowed freest through the thin vessels that run up the tree’s bark, the tapper would make his first round, slashing each Hevea with diagonal cuts and then placing tin cans or cups to catch the falling sap. After lunch, and a nap to escape the worst of the heat, the seringueiro made a second round to collect the latex. Back at his hut, he smoked it on a spit over an earthenware oven fired by dampened palm nuts, which produced a toxic smoke that took its toll on tapper lungs, until it formed a black ball of rubber, weighing between seventy and ninety pounds. He then brought the ball to a trading post, handing it over to a merchant either as rent for the trails or to pay off goods purchased on credit.

Americans in the 1920s didn’t have access to as much #Science as we do so they failed to realize that being isolated in an apartment for a year or more is actually the best possible thing for a human …

The workers went months without seeing other human beings, [Carl D. LaRue, a botanist from U. Michigan] said. “The loneliness is appalling.”

Transitioning these lonely natives to the American system would turn them into good Americans:

With a surety of purpose and incuriosity about the world that seems all too familiar, Ford deliberately rejected expert advice and set out to turn the Amazon into the Midwest of his imagination. “What the people of the interior of Brazil need,” he declared at the outset of the project, “is to have their economic life stabilized by fair returns for their labor paid in cash and their mode of living brought up to modern standards in sanitation and in prevention and cure of disease.”

This was a twist on an idea dating back at least to 1850, when Matthew Fontaine Maury, one of the greatest American scientists of his day, proposed transporting the southern plantation economy to the Amazon:

The question Maury asked was whether the Amazon would “be peopled with an imbecile and an indolent people or by a go ahead race that has the energy and enterprise equal to subdue the forest and to develop and bring forth the vast resources that lie hidden there.”

As it turned out, even back in Michigan, Ford had to go to extraordinary lengths to control worker behavior:

But high wages alone were not enough to ensure either factory-floor efficiency or individual responsibility. A better salary could just lead to quicker dissipation through gambling, drinking, and whoring. There was no shortage of temptations in iniquitous Detroit. There were more brothels in the city than churches, and workers often lived crowded in fetid slums, in flophouses that fronted for gambling halls, bars, and opium dens. So Ford conditioned his Five Dollar Day plan with the obligation that workers live a wholesome life.

And to make sure they did, the carmaker dispatched inspectors from his Sociological Department to probe into the most intimate corners of Ford workers’ lives, including their sex lives. Denounced as a system of paternal surveillance as often as it was lauded as a program of civic reform, by 1919 the Sociological Department employed hundreds of agents who spread out over Dearborn and Detroit asking questions, taking notes, and writing up personnel reports. They wanted to know if workers had insurance and how they spent their money and free time. Did they have a bank account? How much debt did they carry? How many times were they married? Did they send money home to the old country? Sociological men came around not just once but two, three, or four times interviewing family members, friends, and landlords to make sure previous reports of probity were accurate. They of course discouraged drinking, smoking, and gambling and encouraged saving, clean living habits, keeping flies off food, maintaining an orderly house, backyard, and front porch, and sleeping in beds. They also frowned on the taking in of boarders since, “next to liquor, dissension in the home is due to people other than the family being there.”

(Henry Ford never imagined groups of unrelated roommates being locked into their apartments for a year or two by state governors!)

Immigrants received additional training:

And though ecumenical in his hiring practices, Ford still charged his Sociological Department with Americanizing immigrants, conditioning ongoing employment on their attending English and civic classes. These courses were intentionally mixed by race and country so as to “impress upon these men that they are, or should be, Americans, and that former racial, national, and linguistic differences are to be forgotten.” Commencement from the Ford school had the graduating workers, regaled in their native dress, singing their national songs and dancing their folk dances and climbing up a ladder to enter a large papier-mâché “melting pot.” On the stage’s backdrop was painted an immigrant steamship, and as Ford teachers stirred the pot with long ladles the new amalgamated Americans emerged in “derby hats, coats, pants, vests, stiff collars, polka-dot ties,” singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The Fordlandia project was predicated on a sweetheart import/export tax deal with the Brazilian government that was repudiated by later-elected politicians. Even if the core agricultural ideas had panned out, the world market for rubber and the tax environment in Brazil would likely have caused the project to fail. The local labor force also did not respond as Ford had hoped.

Rather than a midwestern city of virtue springing from the Amazon green, local merchants set up thatched bordellos, bars, and gambling houses, turning Fordlandia into a rain forest boomtown.

Similarly, when Oxholm did manage to shut down a few bordellos and bars, the proprietors simply set up shop on an island just off Fordlandia’s banks, building their brothels on stilts because the island was half wetlands and prone to floods. It was ironically dubbed the “Island of Innocence” since, as Eimar Franco put it, “no one on it was innocent.”

He also had to deal with the employees who had contracted venereal diseases, running at a rate of about nine a month, in the camp’s bordellos.

Once the workers got hold of cash wages, assuming that they didn’t spend it all in the bars and bordellos, they didn’t want to stay on the plantation after they’d earned enough to support themselves and/or their families for a year. The labor force ultimately riots and destroys most of the town, until eventually the Brazilian military shows up.

Why could drive folks in the verdant jungle to a mostly peaceful protest?

Metal roofs lined with asbestos, chosen by Ford engineers to repel the sun’s rays, in fact kept heat in. The “workers’ houses were hotter than the gates of hell,” recalled a priest who ministered in Fordlandia, “because some faraway engineer decided that a metal roof was better than something more traditional like thatch.” They were “galvanized iron bake ovens,” said Carl LaRue, commenting on Fordlandia’s foibles years later. “It is incredible that anyone should build a house like that in the tropics.”

As in the U.S. today, once babies showed up the parents looked for someone else to pay for their care:

Hundreds of babies were born each year in Fordlandia, creating a whole new set of problems for its managers. Amazon residents were used to giving birth at home under the care of a midwife. Ford doctors frowned on the practice, yet did not want to tie up hospital beds for obstetrics. So they didn’t push the issue until a woman died in childbirth in late 1931. From then on, medical and sanitation squads added a new responsibility to their ever growing list, as they checked women for pregnancy and made sure no illicit midwifery was taking place.

Once born, children needed care. Dr. McClure had hopes that Dearborn chemists would soon find a “satisfactory substitute for cow’s milk with soy bean milk” that could be used to feed infants and toddlers. But until then, Fordlandia’s hospital distributed Borden’s Klim, a powdered whole milk, to new mothers. The staff quickly learned that utensils had to be provided as

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Why don’t migrants get COVID vaccines at the border?

“Vaccine Refusal Will Come at a Cost—For All of Us” (Atlantic, owned by someone smart enough to marry rich):

People who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine will have higher health-care costs. The rest of us will foot the bill.

Imagine it’s 2026. A man shows up in an emergency room, wheezing. He’s got pneumonia, and it’s hitting him hard. He tells one of the doctors that he had COVID-19 a few years earlier, in late 2021. He had refused to get vaccinated, and ended up contracting the coronavirus months after most people got their shots. Why did he refuse? Something about politics, or pushing back on government control, or a post he saw on Facebook. He doesn’t really remember. His lungs do, though: By the end of the day, he’s on a ventilator.

You’ll pay for that man’s decisions. So will I. We all will—in insurance premiums, if he has a plan with your provider, or in tax dollars, if the emergency room he goes to is in a public hospital. The vaccine refusers could cost us billions. Maybe more, over the next few decades, with all the complications they could develop. And we can’t do anything about it except hope that more people get their shots than those who say they will right now.

… A new study found that 34 percent of COVID-19 survivors are diagnosed with a neurological or psychological condition within six months of recovering from the initial illness. …

As lockdowns are lifted, [former Obama administration official Kathleen] Sebelius hopes that vaccine passports will create social pressure, which might wear down hesitancy if unvaccinated people are barred from sports games, concerts, and other public events.

So much interesting stuff in here! The CDC estimates that roughly half of Americans have had a COVID infection, so if we accept the above statistic, roughly 17 percent of us are the walking wounded, with new neurological and psychological deficits. The Obama official is excited by the idea that everyone should have to carry some kind of proof of vaccination in order to participate in society. Maybe this will be a smartphone app or a RFID wristband (or my own favorite: RFID neck chip, as proven in dogs). Mx. Sebelius would, presumably, react with horror if someone suggested that one form of ID be required in order to vote, but now a much more onerous task will be imposed on those who wish to shop for groceries at Target.

The Atlantic makes the point that Democrats bear “The White Man’s Burden”. They work hard at their elite/government jobs while the non-whites (Republicans) clog up ICUs and hog ventilators that Democrats fund.

Take up the White Man’s burden—
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain.
To seek another’s profit,
And work another’s gain.

With enough federal and state orders and restrictions on the non-vaccinated, presumably the recalcitrant can be coerced eventually. But what about a group of people over whom the Feds have a lot of control, i.e., migrants? They no longer try to sneak across the border, but instead run right into the arms of the nearest government worker. Roughly 96 percent of these folks will be here in the U.S. forever. Many of the “children” saying that they’re under 18 have a biological age that is older than 18 and therefore they would easily fall into the emergency use authorization age range for the vaccines that are currently being used (though not “FDA-approved”) in the U.S.

If these folks are going to live in the U.S. forever and they’re going to be on Medicaid or “charity care” forever and we believe that these vaccines will actually reduce long-term health care costs, why not set up vaccine clinics at the detention and processing facilities for migrants (who are not in a “concentration camp” and who are not “kept in cages”, unlike from 2017 through early 2021)?

This could also be a good opportunity prototype a federal vaccine passport. By definition, the migrants are “undocumented” so they need a document-free way of showing that they’ve had the shot that entitles them to walk free amongst the righteous (vaccinated) natives.

The argument can’t be that vaccines are in short supply. See “Nearly 40% of Marines decline COVID-19 vaccine, prompting some Democrats to urge Biden to set mandate for military” (USA Today) for one place where the Feds could get boxes of vaccine vials.

The argument can’t be that the migrant lifestyle prevents infection. See photo below from “Biden administration spending $60 million per week to shelter unaccompanied minors” (Washington Post article, but Texas Tribune photo). Just as the Swedish MD/PhDs predicted, humans don’t bother with the 6′ distance requirement once you give them a paper mask and tell them that #Science says it works.

The argument can’t be that there aren’t enough migrants to make it worth the trouble of setting up a vaccine tent with refrigerator and technician. The above-linked article says “about 22,000 to 26,000 unaccompanied minors will arrive at the border each month and require federal care” (that’s just the minors; there are also plenty of adults).

What is the argument against immediate vaccination for those migrants who want it? That the children are unaccompanied and therefore the feds are unable to get parents to consent? Teenagers can get abortions without parental consent here in Massachusetts. Why not a vaccine that #Science says will save their lives? (Our legislature couldn’t find time to pass a legal framework for all of the restrictions that have been imposed by 66 (so far) executive orders, but in December 2020 they did manage to pass a new abortion law. See “Groundbreaking Massachusetts Abortion Law Repeals Parental Consent for Older Teens” (Ms. Magazine):

Last week, the Massachusetts legislature passed a groundbreaking new law creating an affirmative right to abortion in the state, expanding abortion access after 24 weeks, and removing a parental consent requirement for 16- and 17-year-olds. … We are saying that women and pregnant people should be trusted to make the personal decisions about their body and if, when and how to become pregnant that we know they’re perfectly capable of making and there should not be barriers, especially barriers that disproportionately impact low-income people and people of color.

“women” and “pregnant people” can be trusted, which means that a “man” can be trusted only if he becomes pregnant? So at least young “women” and “pregnant people” among the migrants should be entrusted to make their own decisions about whether to take a non-approved vaccine.)

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Learn Mayan and other less popular languages as a career path?

“Oakland clinic offers Mayan interpreter for COVID-19 vaccinations” (Mercury News):

A new COVID-19 vaccination clinic in the Fruitvale neighborhood is offering interpreter services for the Latin Mam or Mayan-speaking community.

This month, La Clinica de La Raza began offering the community-targeted vaccination service at 32 locations across the Bay Area, including ASCEND Elementary School on East 12th Street, where Latinos who speak Mam, K’iche ‘and Q’eqchi’ can get translation help from appointment to inoculation on Thursdays.

The article is illustrated with a photo of a guy who has apparently adapted completely to prevailing American cultural norms (he’s wearing a “WEED; Keep it lit” T-shirt).

Now that the U.S. border is effectively open, especially to those who can credibly claim to be under 18, I wonder if this suggests a good career path for young people: medical interpreter for Mayan and similarly unpopular languages. If folks didn’t learn Spanish when they lived in a predominantly Spanish-speaking nation, why expect them to learn English now that they’re Americans? They’ll be entitled to interpreters whenever they’re taking advantage of public housing, Medicaid, food stamps (SNAP/EBT), etc. At least for some of these jobs, certification is required and therefore immigrants themselves may not be able to perform them (also those immigrants may be undocumented and unable to work a W-2 job at a hospital or clinic).

What do folks think? Is learning an obscure language a good career in what is likely to be a growth industry?

(Also, does “Latinos who speak Mam, K’iche ‘and Q’eqchi’” make sense (leaving aside the issue that it should be “Latinx who speak”)? If a person doesn’t speak any language with Latin or Indo-European roots, is he/she/ze/they “Latino” or “Latinx”?

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If 96 percent stay in the US, why not open the borders to young-looking migrants?

Considering migrants who’ve arrived since 2014, of those who have said that they were under 18 years old at the time of border crossing (as these folks are undocumented, there is no way to know their actual age), 96 percent are still in the U.S. according to “Hundreds of minors are crossing the border each day without their parents. Who are they?” (Washington Post):

Central American and Mexican children, tweens and teenagers traveling without parents are crossing the border in soaring numbers, once more creating a logistical and humanitarian emergency for the U.S. government.

If the climbing trend line continues, the Biden administration will take in record numbers of unaccompanied minors this month, an influx made more challenging by the coronavirus pandemic.

To accommodate the growing numbers and meet social distancing guidelines, the administration opened a tent facility in Carrizo Springs, Tex., last month. The Biden administration is planning to open additional tent sites in the coming weeks and is looking at Moffett Field in California, Fort Lee in Virginia and other federal properties where it can set up temporary shelters.

Most unaccompanied minors cross the border into the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. Some try to evade capture after crossing, but most seek out U.S. border agents to begin the process of making a humanitarian claim.

The odds of being deported are low. DHS statistics show that just 4.3 percent of the 290,000 minors who have crossed the border without a parent since 2014 have been returned to their countries. Of the rest, 52 percent had immigration cases pending. An additional 28 percent had been granted humanitarian protection by U.S. courts and 16 percent had been ordered to leave, but lacked a confirmed departure or deportation.

Most of these folks will end up on a lifetime of means-tested “not welfare” government programs, e.g., public housing, Medicaid, SNAP (“food stamps” or “EBT“), and Obamaphone. Why add to the working taxpayers’ burden by funding immigration courts, lawyers, border guards (the “welcoming committee” since the minors do not try to avoid being “captured”), and detention facilities (#TentsNotCages?) if the almost inevitable result is the “minor” staying?

Separately, should we be funding hot drinks from Chocolate Mayordomo for migrants passing through Oaxaca (photo from a 2005 trip)?

Also from 2005, modern-day migrants repopulate, at least during the daytime, a city that had been abandoned for more than 1,000 years (Monte Alban):

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We will solve our affordable housing crisis with vastly expanded immigration

From the New York Times, a tireless cheerleader for more low-skill immigration into the U.S…. “Pandemic’s Toll on Housing: Falling Behind, Doubling Up”:

Even before last year, about 11 million households — one in four U.S. renters — were spending more than half their pretax income on housing, and overcrowding was on the rise. By one estimate, for every 100 very low-income households, only 36 affordable rentals are available.

When your hospitals are 110 percent full, the solution is more immigration. When there are 3X as many people who need affordable housing compared to the supply, the solution is more immigration.

One block back from the sand in Atlantic Beach, Florida:

(in other words, migrants are welcome, but not the big concrete condo and apartment buildings that could actually house an expanded population; note that signs of virtue/justice were extremely rare in Florida (January 2021 trip) compared to here in Maskachusetts; I took this photo because it was an unusual scene)


  • “Hunter Biden and wife Melissa upsize into $25k-a-month canal-front home in Venice, California” (Daily Mail): “Interestingly the homeless people who were living up along the street he now lives on are gone. … His two-year-old daughter with stripper Lunden Roberts, 29, was not present. … The stylish 3,700 square feet home boasts 25-foot acoustic ceilings hanging over contemporary limestone white floors in the living room.” (a fairly spacious house; will Hunter Biden be willing to dedicate a spare bedroom to housing one of the migrant families that his father tells Americans it is their responsibility to shelter?)
  • “Turned Back by Italy, Migrants Face Perilous Winter in Balkans” (NYT, today): “To escape persecution in his homeland, a 27-year-old Pakistani man walked over mountains and through woods on an arduous 18-month journey across Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia until he finally reached the Italian border.” (the remaining 216 million people in Pakistan must suffer continued persecution? Italians don’t want to solve their own hospital and housing overcrowding situation by taking in more migrants?)
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How does Indian-American intersect with BLM?

Message in a discussion group from an (East) Asian immigrant:

My town is half Indian. Everyone is “Love is love”, “BLM”. I want to see their daughter fall in love with a Dalit boy.

Readers: How are your Indian-American friends doing with BLM? What does it mean to folks who recently showed up and missed nearly 400 years of Black-white relations? Are they identifying with the oppressed or the oppressors?

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Should we hire Guatemalans to guard the U.S. Capitol?

My friends on Facebook are delirious with joy that Washington, D.C. is being closed off to ordinary people and that more 26,000 U.S. military troops are guarding the Capitol against potential domestic enemies. I’m not sure why the 3,800 D.C. police officers, 2,300 Capitol police officers. U.S. Secret Service agents, FBI agents, U.S. Park Police, et al. cannot protect the U.S. government from its subjects. But I wonder if it could be done at a lower cost.

“Migrant Caravan, Now in Guatemala, Tests Regional Resolve to Control Migration” (New York Times):

As many as 7,000 migrants from Central America are hoping to reach the United States to escape poverty intensified by hurricanes and the pandemic. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has pledged to ease asylum rules.

Wielding truncheons and firing tear gas, Guatemalan security forces on Sunday stepped up their efforts to stop a caravan of thousands of Central American migrants who have surged in from Honduras in recent days in hopes of reaching the United States.

Shortly after dawn on Sunday, migrants tried to force their way through the phalanx but were beaten back by security forces with truncheons, shields and clouds of tear gas, according to the local news media and a video circulated by the Guatemalan government.

“Fortunately, our security forces managed to contain this pitched battle,” said Guillermo Díaz, director general of the Guatemalan Migration Institute. “We managed to calm everything in a very complicated situation.” He added, “We are talking about national security here.”

Instead of mobilizing costly U.S. military forces, why not pay the Guatemalans to keep us safe from ourselves?

Separately, I had always wondered why we needed to spend nearly $1 trillion per year on a military that served no apparent purpose. The Soviet Union was mostly an enemy in our own minds. Canada and Mexico still haven’t invaded. Our military didn’t do anything to stop up to 29 million undocumented migrants from crossing the border and settling down in recent years. Maybe the real purpose of the U.S. military is simply domestic policing?

Tikal, Guatemala, from 2000 (captured with the Mamiya 7 medium format camera):

And the flower market in Chichicastenango

Before coronapanic, friends regularly traveled to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Antigua, Guatemala for Spanish lessons and relaxation. Why not travel there to find folks with a proven track at controlling a determined crowd without lethal violence?

Update from Facebook:

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The UK’s new immigration system: a PhD in STEM has real value

Now that is it out of the EU, the UK is shutting down low-skill immigration (a boon to the rich; a bane to the working class). If you’ve been feeling like a failure for having a Ph.D. rather than a useful M.D. (see “Women in Science”), the new UK system will cheer you up!

From “The UK’s points-based immigration system: policy statement”:

We are ending free movement and will introduce an Immigration Bill to bring in a firm and fair points-based system that will attract the high-skilled workers we need to contribute to our economy, our communities and our public services. We intend to create a high wage, high-skill, high productivity economy.

We will reduce overall levels of migration and give top priority to those with the highest skills and the greatest talents: scientists, engineers, academics and other highly-skilled workers. Importantly we remain committed to protecting individuals from exploitation by criminal traffickers and unscrupulous employers.

We will replace free movement with the UK’s points-based system to cater for the most highly skilled workers, skilled workers, students and a range of other specialist work routes including routes for global leaders and innovators.

We will not introduce a general low-skilled or temporary work route. We need to shift the focus of our economy away from a reliance on cheap labour from Europe and instead concentrate on investment in technology and automation. Employers will need to adjust.

People will need 70 points to begin an application process. 20 of those can come from having a STEM PhD:

Separately, do the Republicans need some pitches like this one? Republicans say that they would be popular with Americans if not for Donald Trump, but wasn’t Trump the guy who brought out voters in 2016? Now Republicans have failed to win even a single Senate seat in Georgia, a fairly conservative state. Imagine if Republicans could explain in a clear manner what their proposed policies were designed to accomplish and how it would benefit the American working class, small business owners, and everyone else who isn’t securely on a local, state, or federal government gravy train.


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Immigrants versus Black labor circa 1900

“Effects of Immigration on African-American Employment and Incarceration” (NBER, 2007):

For white men, an immigration boost of 10 percent caused their employment rate to fall just 0.7 percentage points; for black men, it fell 2.4 percentage points.

That same immigration rise was also correlated with a rise in incarceration rates. For white men, a 10 percent rise in immigration appeared to cause a 0.1 percentage point increase in the incarceration rate for white men. But for black men, it meant a nearly 1 percentage-point rise.

How was it different in the early 20th century? I’m reading Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America and the chapter on cotton plantations along the Mississippi has some relevant passages:

[Senator LeRoy] Percy declared: “The South must not be dependent for its prosperity upon the negro. There is not enough of him, and what there is is not good enough.”

Immigrants were then pouring into America by the millions, filling northern cities and factories, providing cheap, good, white labor. Percy decided to recruit Italians. In the 1870s, Delta planters had made a concerted effort to bring in Chinese from Hong Kong and from the labor gangs of the intercontinental railroads. The Chinese had left the fields, many opening tiny grocery stores, over fifty in Greenville alone.

in 1904 Percy boasted to the Manufacturer’s Record that Italians were “in every way superior to the negro…. If the immigration of these people is encouraged, they will gradually take the place of the negro without their being any such violent change as to paralyze for a generation the prosperity of the country.”

So far I recommend the book, most of which is about the efforts to understand and control the river.

Some photos taken from a Robinson R22 helicopter that I was ferrying from Los Angeles to Boston in December 2005, four months after Hurricane Katrina came through New Orleans. These include the FEMA trailers.

the Superdome…

the low-lying neighborhoods:

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