Californians support migration…

…. as long as it isn’t into their own towns.

“California, Mired in a Housing Crisis, Rejects an Effort to Ease It” (NYT):

Mr. Wiener’s measure, Senate Bill 50, would have overridden local zoning rules to allow high-density housing near transit lines, high-performing school districts and other amenity-laden areas. Supporters portrayed it as a big but necessary step toward reducing the state’s housing deficit — and helping to curb carbon emissions from long-distance driving — by fostering development in dense urban corridors.

Well, you can guess what happened next!

Separately, how do America’s vulnerable fare when parked amidst millions of rich people who say that their #1 priority is helping the vulnerable?

Housing costs are the primary reason that California’s poverty rate, 18.2 percent, is the highest of any state when adjusted for its cost of living, despite a thriving economy that has led to strong income growth and record-low unemployment.

With no new infrastructure and not too much new housing, what will American cities look like in 30 years?

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Housing shortfall roughly equal to U.S. population growth.

“The conundrum affordable housing poses for the nation” (Washington Post, January 2, 2020):

A severe shortage of homes for working-class and low-income families is pushing up house prices and rents across the country, putting homeownership increasingly out of reach for many Americans and making rents so high that it is all but impossible for renters to save. With the presidential election fast-approaching, the candidates should explain what they plan to do about it.

I.e., only government can save us!

Half of families who rent and nearly one-fourth of home owners pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income toward their housing costs, a level widely considered unsustainable.

After purchasing essentials, including food, clothing and utilities, the families have little left to cover the cost of health care, bridge the gap during a change in jobs or bear an unforeseen bill of any amount. And forget about saving for retirement or a child’s education.

Fueling the rapid rise in rent and house prices is a severe lack of housing supply.

What’s the shortfall ?

Nationwide, the percent of houses that are vacant has fallen to a more than 35-year low, translating into a shortfall of an estimated 1.6 million new houses.

This gap is increasing by about 300,000 units each year, as builders are putting up close to 1.4 million new dwellings yearly, including single-family houses, apartments and manufactured housing. But the yearly demand for new housing, largely from new households and dwellings needed to replace those lost in natural disasters and to old age, is consistently near 1.7 million units.

Trump is to blame, it seems…

The Trump administration’s immigration policies aren’t helping, as builders can’t find the immigrant workers they need, 

But Pew says that it is immigrants and children of immigrants that are responsible for all US population growth:

Foreign-born Americans and their descendants have been the main driver of U.S. population growth, as well as of national racial and ethnic change, since passage of the 1965 law that rewrote national immigration policy. They also will be the central force in U.S. population growth and change over the next 50 years.

Regardless of the source of the growth, what is the size? The Google says our population grows at 0.7 percent per year, so that’s roughly 2.3 million additional Americans annually (more than triple the population of Boston proper!). If we have some big families, 7 people per household, the 300,000-unit shortfall in housing is roughly equal to the population growth.

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Harvard art museum exhibit on migration closing soon

Folks near Boston: an exhibit on migration at Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum is closing on January 5.

Don’t touch the cardboard beer boxes:

Sign admonishes visitors not to touch the used tampons:

But maybe it is okay to touch the bricks:

Photos contrast the border with Mexico with the border with Canada (over which most of our Hollywood stars are fleeing?):

Europeans welcome migrants into their welfare states and rip up their streets while the Chinese build superhighways and 24,000 miles of high-speed rail:

From the permanent collection, an idea for repurposing your analog multimeter:

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CEO of global real estate empire tells others to host migrants

“In Christmas Day Message, Pope Francis Shines Light On Migrant Suffering” (NPR):

In his annual Christmas Day address, Pope Francis offered a message of hope and a call for kindness to migrants around the world.

“May the Son of God, come down to earth from heaven, protect and sustain all those who, due to these and other injustices, are forced to emigrate in the hope of a secure life,” the pontiff said from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

“It is injustice that makes them cross deserts and seas that become cemeteries,” he said. “It is injustice that turns them away from places where they might have hope for a dignified life, but instead find themselves before walls of indifference.”

Pope Francis runs an enterprise that owns roughly 177 million acres of land around the world (source). Is he offering to host migrants either in Vatican City or on other church-owned land?

Separately, why the emphasis on helping those who are young, healthy, and fit enough to migrate? If the goal is helping the unfortunate, shouldn’t priority be given to those who are too old, sick, or out of shape to trek across continents? Wouldn’t the true humanitarian send an Airbus A380 out to scoop up those whom migration would help the most?

Finally… Happy Kwanzaa!

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Re-education camp for immigration wrongthinkers

“Man accused of bias crime, saying ‘go back to your country’ must write essay on immigrants” (KATU):

A man accused of spitting on an immigrant and telling them to go back to their country now has to write an essay about the hardships of immigration, the Multnoamh County District Attorney’s office said.

In a unique sentencing, Denson received 90 days in jail with credit for the time he’s served and has until March to hand in a 500-word essay.

If the court accepts his essay, the bias crime charge will be dropped. If the court does not approve of his essay, or if he fails to turn one in, Denson may face more jail time.

“This is a unique resolution to a very serious incident,” said Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Nicole Hermann who prosecuted this case. “Mr. Denson needs to understand the impact his actions had on the victim and our immigrant communities. This is an opportunity for him to reconcile his behavior through compassion, learning and understanding.

I would love to know if the judge can articulate a standard for evaluating whether the essay expresses the appropriate amount of contrition for wrongthinking!

(Separately, note the use of “them” as a pronoun for a Ukrainian described as a singular “man” in the article.)

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If immigrants determine the outcome of U.S. elections, why pay for a military?

Front page of on November 10:

“An influx of immigrants has flipped a state….”

From the article:

Not long ago, this rolling green stretch of Northern Virginia was farmland. Most people who could vote had grown up here. And when they did, they usually chose Republicans.

The fields of Loudoun County are disappearing. In their place is row upon row of cookie-cutter townhouses, clipped lawns and cul-de-sacs — a suburban landscape for as far as the eye can see. Unlike three decades ago, the residents are often from other places, like India and Korea. And when they vote, it is often for Democrats.

In 1990, the census tracts that make up Mr. Katkuri’s Senate district were home to about 35,000 people — 91 percent of them white. Today, its population of 225,000 is just 64 percent white.

“If my parents came back today, they wouldn’t recognize the place. The changes came like a tidal wave.”

In the 13th Senate district, where Mr. Katkuri lives, one in five residents are immigrants.

Around the advent of the modern immigration system, in 1965, foreign-born people made up only about five percent of the American population. Now they are nearly 14 percent, almost as high as the last peak in the early 20th century. The concentrations used to be in larger gateway cities, but immigrants have spread out considerably since then.

The main purpose of funding a military is to prevent people from other countries from exercising political control, right? If the NYT is correct and people from other countries (“immigrants”) are exercising political control in the U.S. already, what is the point of working all of those extra hours each year to fund our $700 billion military?


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Should we expect less pollution with a larger population?

“Air quality in the US is getting worse and could be killing thousands, study finds” (CNN).

The implication of the article is that, given sufficiently aggressive government regulation, we should expect improved air quality every year.

But if we combine a growing population (chart) with a trend toward greater urbanization (data), wouldn’t our starting assumption about air quality be that the typical American would be breathing filthier air every year? If we hit any kind of technological plateau, a larger denser population should experience dirtier air, no?

We are gradually adopting some cleaner technology, but we are also gradually growing in number of people and density. Why is CNN shocked that one growth curve can’t beat the other consistently?

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Fast-food economics in Massachusetts: Higher minimum wage leads to a shorter work week, not fewer people on welfare

One reason for a $15/hour minimum wage cited by advocates is that current minimum wage workers are generally on welfare (public housing and Medicaid if not also food stamps, etc.) and therefore, the theory goes, the employer is being subsidized by taxpayers.

(How a $15/hour job would lift a household above the welfare thresholds is unclear; in our corner of Massachusetts, a family of four is entitled to housing and/or health insurance subsidies up to $130,000/year. At $15/hour, that’s 167 hours/week, 52 weeks/year.)

I recently talked to the owner of 12 fast-food outlets here in Massachusetts. He is a Democrat and enthusiastically supports the party’s proposals for increasing the number of migrants to the U.S. “Immigrants work harder than Americans,” he said, “who have been on welfare for multiple generations and don’t have a culture of work.” He also appreciates immigrants as customers.

There is one part of the Democrat platform that he does not agree with: the $15/hour minimum wage. “Every time wages go up,” he said, “my employees ask to work fewer hours so that they don’t lose MassHealth [Medicaid].” On his side, he does not want anyone working more than 30 hours per week, the threshold that would trigger a requirement for him to provide health insurance under Obamacare. Out of 160 workers total, he provides health insurance to only 10. “My premiums are sky-high,” he noted, “because we have so few people on the policy.”

(This may show the irrelevance of Econ 101 principles in a half-planned economy like the U.S. Econ 101 says that the higher wage would induce workers to supply more labor hours, not fewer. But Econ 101 never met MassHealth and other means-tested programs!)


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Immigrant who drove up prices for housing now runs for office on a rent control platform

Kshama Sawant is running for re-election to the Seattle City Council. One of her campaign posters from August:

From her site:

Seattle needs rent control, citywide and without corporate loopholes, to stop skyrocketing rents. We need to build tens of thousands of units of social housing, paid for by taxing Amazon and big business, to provide a public alternative to the broken private development system. … Meanwhile, skyrocketing housing costs and weak tenant rights laws have combined to lead to an epidemic of evictions. … As a member of Socialist Alternative, I wear the badge of socialist with honor, and I’m excited to see candidates identifying as socialists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez winning elections across the country.

What has driven up the cost of housing in Seattle? Maybe it was Sawant herself! Wikipedia says that she migrated to Seattle from India via a marriage to a programmer at Microsoft. “New milestone in King County: Immigrant population tops 500,000” (Seattle Times): “Since the start of the decade [2010], King County has had the third biggest increase in foreign-born residents among all U.S. counties. … That means that nearly one in four inhabitants of the county (24 percent) were born outside the United States, significantly higher than the national average of 14 percent.”

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Why do we put tourists through immigration interviews when our borders are open to asylum-seekers?

On a typical cruise, passengers hand over their passports at the beginning of the trip and the ship’s staff handles any and all immigration bureaucracy. The countries being visited rely on the cruise line to authenticate people and to take at least most of the visitors away.

When we arrived in Canada this standard practice was observed. The Canadians presumably had an opportunity to inspect a list of people on board, but they didn’t invest time and money to talk to each tourist and/or crew member.

It was a different story coming into U.S. waters. A group of immigration officials were flown up from Anchorage to Barrow, one of the most remote towns on our planet. They proceeded by tender boat to join us on board. The ship set up an assembly line so that La Migra could talk to each passenger at least briefly, scan and offer to stamp passports, and then go back to Anchorage by tender boat, taxi, and airplane. It was a huge waste of time and money for everyone involved.

This “screen everyone” practice might have made sense 30 years ago. But with families stepping over the southern border of the U.S. and saying “I am entitled to asylum because I live in a place that is almost as violent as Baltimore or New Orleans,” what is the point? Anyone willing to spin a yarn of violence and suffering can get set up for three generations of public housing, free health care via Medicaid, food stamps, and free smartphone. So the point of the passport check cannot be to make sure that people will go home. Anyone from our cruise could have asked for asylum just the same as someone who migrated up from Central America.

Since 9/11, a good catch-all explanation for apparently wasteful government spending is “because terrorism”. I don’t think that is the reason for screening every passenger on a cruise visiting a U.S. port, though. German senior citizens do not fit the profile of a typical terrorist. The agents who see people face to face do not seem more likely to spot a terrorist than a person with a computer looking at all of the passport data provided by the cruise line.

Readers: Now that there are so many ways to stay in the U.S. forever (and at taxpayer expense for multiple decades), is this screening process obsolete? If complete face-to-face screening is a such a good idea, why don’t the Canadians do it?

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