The Negative Growth Model

The GDP numbers for the fourth quarter came out today, and we all found out that the economy contracted at 0.1 percent. The negative number isn't surprising to someone like me. Since the hardest hits of 2008, the economy still hasn't recovered. We are still in a recession.

Most economists agree that in order to get out of a recession, an economy needs two full years of +3% growth. Since 2008, the United States has only 3 quarters of +3% growth.

The economy will turn around, but the rise in taxes (with more tax increases likely to occur in the future), the impending healthcare implementation in 2014 and its effect on businesses, the possible cut in military spending (according to the New York Times, this quarter's GDP number was affected by a 22% decrease in military spending), and the expanding spending of the federal government will only delay the turn-around.

Let's Get Real on Immigration

Just today, January 28th, 2013, a group of eight senators announced a plan to reform the immigration system. The senators are John McCain, from Arizona; Jeff Flake, from Arizona; Michael Bennet, from Colorado; Marco Rubio, from Florida; Dick Durbin, from Illinois; Robert Menendez, from New Jersey; Chuck Shumer, from New York; and Lindsey Graham, from South Carolina. This is a bipartisan group, and they will most certainly propose a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

In his statements, McCain was careful to first address the problem of the open border, especially in his home state of Arizona. He make it clear that the first step of immigration reform would be to secure the border. For McCain, and other federal legislators, what exactly does it mean to secure the border? Does it mean fewer arrests by Border Patrol (arrests are already down from 2005)? Does it mean using technology to better police the border? Does it mean we need more Border Patrol agents? Does it mean that we need to build a complete multi-layered fence system?

By glossing over the specifics of what it means to secure the border, McCain is simply pandering to those who know that this immigration proposal is simply amnesty.

In his statement today, McCain said, "We have been too content for too long to allow individuals to mow our lawn, serve our food, clean our homes and even watch our children, while not affording them any of the benefits that make our country so great." 

This emotional appeal from McCain is pathetic, and it's misleading. In my view, the opportunity has always been their for immigrants to participate in the benefits that make our country great; furthermore, the fact that illegal immigrants work and earn money in the United States IS participation in what makes this country great. It is not the job of the federal government to fill out the paperwork, pay the fees, and take the tests that are required for citizenship.

Senator Ted Cruz, from Texas, captured how unfair this immigration proposal would be if enacted when he said, "To allow those who came here illegally to be placed on such a path [to citizenship] is both inconsistent with the rule of law and profoundly unfair to the millions of legal immigrants who waited for years, if not decades, to come to America legally."

To grant amnesty for illegally entering the country or overstaying a visa is unfair, and it encourages future immigrants to do the same.

Most certainly there is a sizable population of illegal immigrants in the United States. I think that most people would be willing to grant them citizenship, albeit with penalties, if they knew that the problem of new illegal immigrants coming in would be dealt with through immediate deportation. This was the hope with the immigration reform of 1986.

But what happened? More illegal immigrants entered the country, and the United States had to deal with an entirely new illegal population. The United States citizens are being set up for the same type of deceptive contrivance that happened in 1986. 

This immigration proposal needs to be opposed. There is nothing wrong with the immigration system in the United States. It could be streamlined, but this is a problem of bureaucracy not policy. The problem with immigration is enforcement. 

For the longest time, we've had a federal government that has not enforced immigration laws at the border or inside the country. This has caused the illegal immigrant population to swell and created the problem we have today. 

Finally, I'll leave you with an ad that McCain ran when he last ran for the senate. Notice how this Republican talks big during election time, but he lacks political courage when it comes to actual governance.

On Political Language

The phrase "fiscal cliff" encapsulates the state of American political language. What is a "fiscal cliff?" How can going over a cliff be anything but a negative experience? By labeling the expiration of the debt ceiling deal that was reached in 2010 as the "fiscal cliff," politicians are able to negatively connotate the situation. Thus, doing nothing would be unacceptable. Again, how can going over a cliff be a good thing?

The deal that was reached in 2010 extended the Bush-era tax cuts and created a debt committee charged with cutting spending. This committee failed as contemporary American politicians are simply unable to cut spending. As a result, the deal called for automatic spending cuts (part military and part social programs). The automatic spending cuts were referred to as "sequestering." It's important to understand that the sequestering option was put in place to guarantee cuts in spending.

Now, as the lame-duck Congress pushes through a "fiscal cliff" deal, the sequestering option is nullified. We have no more automatic spending cuts. This then returns us to the term "fiscal cliff." This entire debate (can we even call it a debate, really?) has been framed with the phrase "fiscal cliff." When we refer to this situation in this negative phrase, it takes on a sense of urgency. Not getting a deal done would be a disaster. It would take us off the "cliff."

We need to start using precise and exact language to describe the situations, laws, and dilemmas we face. Language is important, and American politicians too often use language to deflect responsibility or willfully mislead.

As far as the the current debt and budget debate is concerned, my advice is to let the deal expire. The Democrats would get the tax hikes they want, and the Republicans would get spending cuts.

The Immigration Surprise

Color me surprised. In the ruling for Arizona v. United States, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) overturned Arizona's immigration enforcement law often referred to as SB1070. Kennedy wrote the opinion, and his opinion was joined with Roberts, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Ginsburg. The dissenters were Scalia (writing the dissenting opinion), Thomas, and Alito. Kagan recused herself from the proceedings.

The SCOTUS got this one wrong, and here is my quick analysis.

The federal government's defense was based on the supremacy clause in Article VI of the Constitution and the enumerated power in Article I to establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization, and the SCOTUS bought into this defense. They found that SB1070 was an attempt for Arizona to create its own immigration law. In the words of the SCOTUS, SB1070 is preempted by federal law.

In Edwards' opinion he identifies 2 conditions in which state laws are preempted by federal law. He writes, "States are precluded from regulating conduct in a field that Congress, acting within its proper authority, has determined must be regulated by its governance," and "State laws are preempted when they conflict with federal law" (Arizona v. United States). The SCOTUS ruled that SB1070 conflicted with federal law and was thus preempted. This is wrong.

SB1070 does nothing to conflict with federal immigration law. SB1070 was actually written in a way to complement federal immigration laws. Also, SB1070 does not establish any new immigration naturalization rules; the law concerns itself with the enforcement of current federal immigration laws. State laws are deemed preempted when a conflict with a federal law arises. Where does SB1070 conflict with federal law?

In his dissenting opinion, Scalia wrote,
What this case comes down to, then, is whether the Arizona law conflicts with federal immigration law - whether is excludes those whom federal law would admit, or admits those whom federal law would exclude. It does not purport to do so. It applies only to aliens who neither possess a privilege to be present under federal law not have been removed pursuant to the Federal Government’s inherent authority (Arizona v. United States).
This is why SB1070 should have been upheld. In the case of immigration, a state law only conflicts with federal immigration laws when it excludes those who should be included or includes those who should be excluded. Simply put, SB1070 targeted removable aliens that under federal immigration laws should be excluded.

I believe the SCOTUS (especially Roberts) ruled in this manner because they are afraid of the way this precedent could be used in the future. A crafty lawyer could have used this ruling to expand the power of the states. 

Had the case gone in the opposite direction, the federal government would have lost the power to use immigration as a political tool.


"What is a man?"
clear blue eyes
asked with wonder.

Sandy blonde hair,
ruffled and perfect,
played in the wind.

No sense of fear,
no curse of experience,
rabid with energy,
vigor and vitality.

The son winked
and looked to the

Dinky Dinkerson

Reid is right that the public sector has been losing jobs - especially in the past year. The private sector has been gaining jobs during this time, but the numbers are not astronomical - they're moderate to poor. Nonetheless, the private sector funds the public, so it would be logical that the public sector would lose jobs as the private sector's wealth shrinks. Reid is a dink. He's the type of guy to be ignored - too bad he's an elected official.

Etymology of Anomie

Modern English received the word "anomie" from Emile Durkheim, the sociologist, in 1897. The word was a borrowing from the French, anomy. In modern English, "anomie" describes the condition of having lost societal norms and values.

In 1590, "anomie" was used to describe lawlessness. Again, the word was borrowed from French. The root of "anomie" is the Greek word for law - (nomos).

The Greek root can even be traced back to the Proto-Indo-European base word - nem. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, nem means "to divide, distribute, allot." This Prot-Indo-European root can be seen in the modern word "nemesis."

The Anomie Index

Get Outta Here

The Tea Party's War on America, by Joe Nocera

Joe Nocera's recent article about the debt ceiling and budget deal in the New York Times is awfully and incoherently tangled. I'll set the language aside (when did jihad become an acceptable English language term when not talking about actual terrorists in a major newspaper?) The article's premise is that by demanding spending cuts, the Tea Party has attempted to destroy "the full faith and credit" of the United States. How did the Tea Party do this? Nocera tells us that they refused to compromise. The article then mentions the '30s era depression and the wonderful social programs introduced by Roosevelt. Nocera can't possibly be suggesting we need more spending in unemployment and other social programs as part of this deal. Has he not read Amity Shlaes' book, The Forgotten Man that details how the Roosevelt era social programs actually extended the depression?

Nocera then wishes that Obama would exercise the 14th amendment option to raise the debt ceiling himself. He shows his lack of constitutional understanding with this comment. The 14th amendment doesn't allow the president to raise the debt ceiling to honor debts, it forces him to honor the debts that are on the books. In other words, the US defaulting on its debts is unconstitutional. Obama has no choice but to pay the interest on the debt because the 14th amendment tells him that he must. This is why Obama suggesting default was completely absurd. A default would be Obama's choice because there is revenue that comes in every month that would cover the interest payments.

Two things are lost in this entire debt ceiling and budget debate: raising the debt ceiling is compromise and baseline budget cuts. First, the vote to raise the debt ceiling - to allow the government to borrow more money - is the compromise. Second, real budgetary cuts are necessary if the US doesn't want its credit rating to get downgraded. In the current debt ceiling deal, the cuts apply to the increase in federal spending. So instead of spending 2 trillion, let's say, they'll spend 1 trillion (For more information, read A Cut?). The current deal doesn't cut anything, it slows the government's growth.

I like what Sen. Ron Paul suggested: go back to the 2004 budget. This is the solution to long-term government spending, and it would mean real baseline budget cuts.

Compromise is the reason the current debt ceiling deal stinks - the republicans who voted for this budget were too quick to compromise. The August 2nd deadline was artificial.

A Cut?

A Disappointing Deal:

It was a weekend of fast and furious developments in the debt ceiling negotiations, and Cato scholars have analyzed the final deal between Congressional leaders and the White House. What do we need to know? Tax increases remain probable under the deal, says Daniel J. Mitchell. Chris Edwards laments that the deal doesn't actually cut spending, and Michael D. Tanner notes that the fiscal sink-holes of Medicaid and Social Security remain untouched.

Here's hoping the Senate doesn't pass the latest budget deal. There aren't any real cuts. Each year the budget is slated to increase a certain percentage. The budget deal only cuts into that increase. So, what Washington is calling a cut is only a slash in how much money they will spend.

This is incredibly disappointing, and my hope is that the Senate does not pass the bill. Despite the words from the White House and media outlets, the US has plenty of money to honor its obligations for a few months without a debt ceiling increase.

I like what Senator Ron Paul suggests: take the government budget back to 2004 levels. This would be a real and actual reduction in spending. It would also reassure the credit agencies that the US is serious about cutting spending.

Joy of Life

This preacher's re-arranged and autotuned pre-race blessing captures the joie de vie of America. You can criticize it, but it's a joy that comes only with grace.