The Financial Value of DACA

This graph* shows the net value to society of a person as they age. Initially, a child costs money for food, health and education. During the working years, they generate more value than they consume. In retirement, living and health costs reduce their value, but at death, there is, on average a small net value, and accumulated over many lives and millennia, these net values have accumulated to create the social assets we all share: roads, museums, libraries, scientific knowledge and technical skills.

The potential value of a person is greatest at the end of their education, and that is precisely what we are rejecting when we deport DREAMers. The benefits will all accrue to the other countries.

* The graph is an average across the population, and the exact shape will be different, e.g. there will be a steep drop at end of life. Nevertheless, the graph as drawn illustrates the point.

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Political Financing: A Modest Proposal

Here’s how to reduce the influence of money in elections: no politician should be allowed to accept contributions from outside their district.

This applies at all levels: city, county, state and nation. The Federal Election Campaign Act bans foreign contributions, and we need a Keep Elections Free Of Outside Money Act.

Senators would only be allowed to raise money from within their state, and Representatives from within their district. The same would apply to City and County officials.

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What Are They Thinking?

March for Science in Santa Barbara

I often check Fox News online to get the conservative slant on news. Poor as it might be, the comments are ten times worse. Here are some from their March for Science reporting.

  • These people are a joke. The problem with ignorance is that ignorant people are too ignorant to know they are ignorant. Such idiocy.
  • Getting rid of the US Dept. of Energy would pretty much make this climate change claptrap go away.
  • God creates the climate… What’s the question here?
  • It’s about time the American taxpayer stopped funding many of these pseudo science projects. Most of them are just welfare to liberal universities.

These are just from a single page of comments, and are typical of the level of attack. How is it be possible to reach a compromise with right-wing voters? This question worries me every day.

Reconciling the Various Reasons for Trump

After the election, I concluded that Trump won with three appeals:

  • Bring back jobs
  • Drain the swamp
  • Build the wall

and that I approved of the first two. (It’s now clear that all three are unlikely to happen.)

Many people have offered reasons why Trump won, and they fall into three areas:

  • Election problems
  • Economic hardship
  • Racism

I won’t go into the electoral issues (Comey, gerrymandering, fake news, Clinton, Russia) here. There are stats that make a good case for both jobs and racism being the cause. Can we reconcile the two?

I have an article (not out yet) arguing that fear of others is the defining characteristic of conservatives. Edsall says that only cities with a population greater than 1 million showed economic growth, so maybe low population density causes both xenophobia and weak economic opportunities.

EDIT 4/17/17: a Political Science professor just analyzed the recently released 2016 American National Election Study and found racial bias was more significant than authoritarianism or income inequality.

Finally, the statistical tool of regression can tease apart which had more influence on the 2016 vote: authoritarianism or symbolic racism, after controlling for education, race, ideology, and age. Moving from the 50th to the 75th percentile in the authoritarian scale made someone about 3 percent more likely to vote for Trump. The same jump on the SRS scale made someone 20 percent more likely to vote for Trump. Source

EDIT 5/19/17: PRRI analyzed what factors motivated white working-class voters to support Donald Trump

  1. Identification with the Republican Party: 11 times more likely to support Trump
  2. Fears about cultural displacement: 3.5 times more likely
  3. Support for deporting immigrants living in the country illegally: 3.3 times more likely
  4. Economic fatalism: almost twice as likely
  5. Economic hardship: 1.7 times more likely to support Clinton
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States Rights

Have you seen how strongly Republicans are supporting States rights with regard to sanctuary cities?

I posted elsewhere a few weeks ago that people should be consistent on their position about States rights, but I’ve moderated my position. Think of the power hierarchy as:

UN > Country > State > County > City > Borough > Family > Person.

It doesn’t matter which level you choose to have the controlling say; if it takes an unethical position, it has no moral justification for it. In other words, we must judge policies not by who issues them, but by whether they are ethical. (I don’t need to get into how that is judged here!)

5 Reasons to Enjoy the Trump Regime

The blows are relentless. Our news feeds deliver multiple shocks each day. The barrage slows time down — surely it can’t be only 24 days since the inauguration?

And yet there is joy to be found in all this.

1. The Explosion of Satire

Late-night comedy has accepted the challenge. Not only does it make us laugh, its caustic humor strips away the lies and dissimulations and shows us the attempts to distort reality.

2. Knowing that Trump watches TV

Watching SNL has the added pleasure of knowing that Trump is watching, too. Before the election, he lived in a bubble of private jets and adoring crowds. Now, late at night, alone in his bathrobe, abandoned by his wife, every skit is a denial of the love he needs to feed his narcissism.

3. The Awakening of the Left

Nothing like this has happened in nearly half a century. People are marching for the first time in their lives. Congressman are besieged at Town Halls. Phone systems are flooded. This is not a knee-jerk paroxysm of disappointment at the election results; it is an immune response to the invasion of the body politic.

4. Finding Community

This huge reaction to Trump is making people feel connected to each other, not just for the political crisis of the moment, but by the human desire for fairness for all, whether refugees, LGBTQ, minimum wage workers, immigrants or the sick.

5. Living in a Movie

We’ve all seen and been swept up in countless dramas, whether spy thriller, alien invasion or bank heist. Now we’re in one. It’s real, it’s 3-dimensional, it has plot twists and turns, it has a cast of thousands. You’re one of them. Pick your role — helpless victim, crowd extra, martyr or revolutionary leader. Enjoy it! The opportunity may never come again. Act so you will be proud to tell your grand-children when they ask “What did you do in the Trump Regime?”

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A Frenzied Legislative Crackdown on Civil Rights

LA Womens’ March

I’m seeing a flurry of bills that limit protest:

These are all State measures, but I suspect that Republicans are worried about the recent protests and will propose similar legislation, cloaked of course in Newspeak as The National Peace and Harmony Act. (Speaking of Newspeak, “1984”, the #1 Amazon best-seller, is currently out of stock and Penguin is rushing to print more.)

But authorities don’t even need to act legally; they can suppress protest by any means necessary, as happened to Occupy Wall Street encampments around the country. A law school report concluded that “there now is a systematic effort by authorities to suppress protests, even when these are lawful and pose no threat to the public.” Even though such suppression was subsequently found illegal:

eventual justice counts for nothing years later when the goal is to disband the protests.

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The Press Versus Trump

The NYTimes just published a fascinating article, not for its content, but for its tone. Starting with the headline “With False Claims, Trump Attacks Media on Turnout and Intelligence Rift“, the message is that the Trump administration lies, and those lies are being unequivocally called out. I have been a subscriber for 30 years and have never seen such a clear denunciation. It starts with the opening paragraph:

President Trump used his first full day in office on Saturday to unleash a remarkably bitter attack on the news media, falsely accusing journalists of both inventing a rift between him and intelligence agencies and deliberately understating the size of his inauguration crowd.

and continues:

“Mr. Trump ignored his own repeated public statements criticizing the intelligence community, a group he compared to Nazis just over a week ago.”
“It was a striking display of invective and grievance”
“On Saturday, he said journalists were responsible for any suggestion that he was not fully supportive of intelligence agencies’ work…. Mr. Trump said nothing during the visit about how he had mocked the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies”
“[His press secretary] incorrectly claimed that ridership on Washington’s subway system was higher than on Inauguration Day in 2013.”

Along with this, CNN declined to air the press conference live, deciding to see what was said and then play relevant parts as deemed necessary. It looks like the start of an all-out war between Trump and the press.

A Supreme Court Strategy for Democrats

Democratic Senators should refuse to approve any Supreme Court nominee until Merrick Garland is renominated. This would be a principled stand that

  • allows Republicans to make amends for their recalcitrance,
  • offers a centrist appointment to a divided country, and
  • is less radical than Republican calls to leave the seat vacant for 4 years.

A divided country deserves centrist appointments.

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Tackling the Problem of Fake News

Stopping fake newsSlate is launching an attempt to mark fake news. They will “rely on crowdsourcing and human moderation by Slate staffers and contributors.” There will probably be sabotage attempts by bad actors, and the results will be criticized for liberal bias just the way Snopes was attacked, but it’s still heartening to see organisations rising to the challenge.

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