Saturday, August 18, 2018

Immigration: Free vs Subsidized

What morality—and what electoral strategy—prioritizes the right of a 
Honduran to cross the border over the right of an American not to be 
forced to feed, house, and clothe her family?
Bruce Majors

President Trump’s campaign proposal for “The Wall” is front and center again, as he considers a government shutdown if it is not funded. He also took to Twitter to challenge Charles and David Koch, who announce they will fund some Democrats (not Libertarians?) challenging President Trump on policies like immigration and tariffs.
“Progressives” have been calling for unrestricted immigration, for abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and for granting voting rights to illegal immigrants. “Open borders” advocates decry opponents as racist. Advocates of open borders—whose derangement in the face of Trump lead them to declare they will “fight dirty”—desire to import voters who will displace American voters who have recently taken more than 1,000 offices away from the Democrats.
Others are more rational and less anti-American: the libertarian, and usually Koch-funded, advocates of open borders. You can find libertarians who accuse you of bigotry when you repeat Milton Friedman’s observation you can’t have both free immigration and a welfare state, since the impoverished would move to the wealthiest countries they could and consume everything produced there. You can find libertarians who will assert, oddly, that Americans deserve to be forced to pay for relocation and services for immigrants, because the U.S. foreign policy establishment made their home countries violent and inhospitable.
Major libertarian advocates of open borders—George Mason University’s Bryan Caplan, the Cato Institute’s Alex Nowrasteh, and Reason Foundation’s Shikha Sood Dalmia—tend to “go high” when making their case. They would like to have the immigration policy they say the United States had in 1776.
“Progressive” open borders advocates often quote the poem of socialist Emma Lazarus that was added to the Statue of Liberty: America accepts the tired , the poor, and the huddled masses. Libertarians look to the actual statue, and view freedom of movement as part of individual freedom, not a social service benefit for refugees.
Libertarians of course make the argument about the gains of (international) trade. Just as allowing U.S. companies to import cheap Canadian lumber without tariffs allows U.S. consumers to have cheaper furniture and housing, and may even create more U.S. jobs in producing furniture, paper products, etc. than are lost in lumber yards, allowing the U.S. economy to “import” labor allows at least some Americans to have cheaper landscaping, gardening, chicken processing, cleaning, and construction, and might create more jobs in businesses that use this labor than the low-wage American jobs lost.
Dalmia in a 2012 survey reported that economists’ estimates of the increase in U.S. gross domestic product produced by immigrant labor was between $6 billion and $22 billion. Dalmia quotes Caplan on how immigrant labor overall increases or has no effect on American wages, although it does specifically lower the wages of less-skilled and less-educated American workers.
This illustrates the granularity of the effects immigration has in the economy. Dalmia claims immigrants tend to move to states that do not have extensive welfare programs, minimizing immigrants’ effects on the taxpayer. One could rephrase this: Why should working and middle-class people in rural counties, the people who gave their Electoral College votes to Trump, not Hillary Clinton (or Gary Johnson), be happy to vote for people supporting unrestricted immigration, when these Americans have worked to own a middle-class home, a home now subjected to property taxes to pay for the daycare of illegal immigrant children (and the children of illegal immigrants) that is necessary for those immigrants to take jobs in the local chicken processing plant?
On social media, libertarians tend to argue that immigrants, even illegals, pay taxes too, through their rent to their property-tax-paying landlords. The average annual per child expenditure of an American public school is $12,000, and as high as $29,000 in Washington, D.C. and other jurisdictions. The idea that many immigrants, living crowded into low tax assessment properties, pay anything like $12,000 annually in property taxes per child they commit to the local school is prima facie ridiculous.
Rank and file libertarians often go further into absurdity, arguing that many Americans never pay enough taxes to cover the cost of the public schooling of their children. Dalmia says middle-class people probably don’t pay enough to cover the cost of three children, so if one opposes unrestricted immigration one must also deport underperforming Americans.
Slightly over one-fourth of the children in the United States are now either immigrants or the children of immigrants. Since the total expenditures on public schooling in the U.S. is almost $700 billionper year, this cost is far greater than the GDP gains cited by Dalmia, and greater than the $50 billion she cites for “The Wall.” It’s also greater than the annual $104 billion for food stamps, the $46 billion for Section 8 housing programs, or the $30 billion for Aid to Families with Dependent Children for all residents, citizen or non-citizen.
Immigrants also use other social services, but public education for all children residing in the United States is mandatory. In nineteenth-century America, supposedly with the open borders policies libertarians favor, immigrant children were not legally excluded from the labor market or mandated a public education.
The Cato Institute regularly publishes on the welfare costs of immigrants, but in this area its studies seem deeply flawed, claiming that immigrants use fewer social services than do native-born Americans, a claim made by excluding public education from the accounting. One Cato analyst, Daniel Griswold, makes a hand-waving argument that educating immigrant children is acceptable, since it pays for itself in their future productivity. Yet Caplan himself has devoted an entire book to debunking the idea that U.S. public education uniquely adds much, if any, to labor productivity, and libertarian work on education is replete with studies showing how ineffective U.S. public schools are.
The government centrally planning investment in (human) capital is not very libertarian, but Griswold assumes that the billions spent educating immigrants would not increase productivity as much or more if instead used to provide Americans with smaller class sizes, or with capital investments in more advanced tools at their future jobs, etc.
A better policy would do what libertarians are supposed to believe in: protecting Americans from being subjected to force and fraud, to robbery and expropriation. Anyone in the United States who is a net tax consumer activates the apparatus that has a gun aimed at and a jail cell (lien, fines, interest, and penalties) waiting for every American who is a net taxpayer.
The fact that we have a population in which roughly half of Americans are net tax consumers does not in any way justify imposing even more exploitation of net taxpayers by importing impoverished people. It makes it more necessary to protect taxpayers from more people exploiting them.
In practice, this has some similarities with “merit based” proposals, but without the government deciding which professions, educational credentials, etc. are desirable. Instead one would simply not be given a green card or a path to citizenship unless one’s wealth or income insured that he would be paying at least as much in taxes as any social service expenditures he and his children trigger.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Libertarian candidate will challenge Bowser in D.C. mayor’s race

Local activist Martin Moulton criticizes mayor over school lottery scandal and transportation safety initiatives

speaker icon 

Martin Moulton – Photo courtesy of Martin Moulton.
Even as potential Democratic primary challengers to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser shy away from the spotlight, an openly gay Libertarian Party candidate is determined to ensure that this year’s election isn’t a coronation.
Martin Moulton, a longtime community activist in the Shaw neighborhood who has run in past cycles for D.C. shadow representative and for D.C.’s non-voting delegate position in Congress against Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, had previously collected signatures for petitions to run in either for mayor or for Chairman of the D.C. Council against incumbent Phil Mendelson. He said he had been talking to voters and Libertarian party members about which race would be better for him to enter prior to Thursday, when he decided to pull the trigger on a race against Bowser.
Moulton says he believes both Bowser and Mendelson, who drives the Council’s legislative agenda, have failed to address pressing issues and problems that have developed under their watch.
He has particularly been critical of recent scandals revolving around whether District employees and other well-connected Washingtonians, including former Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson — who was later forced to resign — were able to skirt the lottery for placement at D.C. public schools and get their children enrolled in some of the District’s higher-performing and more reputable schools, many of which have long waiting lists.
“I talk to people from all over the city, from Ward 8 to Ward 1 to Ward 3, and the biggest issue right now, and the press has been all over this, is the school scandals,” says Moulton. “We believe as Libertarians that these scandals have been created by too much micro-managing from government in the choices of how parents want to educate their children. And when I talk to parents, they are furious. They deal with the frustration of not being able to get their kid into a good school, and being forced to put their kid to a crappy school.”
Moulton says allowing free market forces to shape D.C.’s school system through school choice would help combat the District’s education problems by allowing parents to take control of their children’s education and hold bad schools and ineffective administrators accountable.
Moulton has also criticized Bowser’s “Vision Zero” initiative aimed at increasing transportation safety and reducing car accidents, claiming that traffic deaths have increased, not decreased, since the District began carrying out the program. 
“There are a lot of Libertarian solutions that haven’t been highlighted by the media, and people just don’t know about them, whether it’s the drug war, whether it’s education, policing, mass incarceration, over-regulation of small retail businesses,” Moulton says of the other problems that the District faces. “We think the solutions rely on trusting the public, trusting families, trusting parents, and trusting small businesses to do what’s in their best interests. Let’s take out the regulations that hamper them from doing that.”
A spokesman for Bowser’s re-election campaign was not immediately available for comment.
Moulton says the Libertarian Party is also in favor of legalizing, not decriminalizing, prostitution in the District.
“Let’s take this off the streets and send it indoors, where we can send the Department of Health to monitor health issues, we can send in DCRA, and DOES, and tell people who might be struggling and have resorted to sex work temporarily about other opportunities that are available to them.”
As for LGBTQ issues, Moulton knows that many members of the community can be skeptical of what Libertarians offer, but says the party has long advocated for greater individual freedom. 
“The Libertarian Party, at its founding in 1972, was for equality for all people, including LGBTQ people, to keep the government out of our bedrooms, and our personal decisions, and to only get involved if someone is being hurt or harmed by other people,” he says. “So I hope that the media would give Libertarians a fair shake, in that we’ve been doing the right thing, while it took the Democrats until Obama’s second term to come on board to giving LGBTQ people equal access to everything we should have.”

Regulation and Unintended Consequences: Progressives Wage War on a Company that Helps Immigrants

This company provides a valuable service to people in need.
Bruce Majors
Bruce Majors (writing in The Freeman
Congresswoman Norma Torres, Latina Democrat from California, may be doing more than any Republican has to support Trump's campaign proposal to deport illegal immigrants.
With unemployment claims down, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta predicting 4% GDP growth (never achieved in any quarter under Obama), and illegal immigration on the decline, President Trump may actually shift his plans to stop illegal immigration to the back burner, but Congresswoman Torres is picking up the slack.
Nexus Is Serving the Underserved
Bail bondsmen had no interest in taking a risk on them

Torres recently asked the federal government to investigate a small but rapidly growing Virginia based company, Nexus, that facilitates bail bonding for people charged with crimes, including people being detained because of their status as illegal immigrants or people who have overstayed their Visas.
Before Nexus, detained illegal immigrants had more difficulty posting bail than did American citizens. Bail bondsmen had no interest in taking a risk on them, since they often have no collateral and if deported back to their home countries would be beyond the reach of debt collection.
Like payday lenders, check cashing and money wiring companies, and gig economy employers that serve people with few skills or assets – including illegal immigrants – Nexus is a for-profit company that just smells wrong to paint-by-numbers progressives.
Nexus, or more specifically its division that provides legal and other services to illegal immigrants, Libre by Nexus, charges its clients over $400 a month.
What they get for this is assistance in figuring out how to post their initial bail. Libre then promises the court that it will monitor them by way of a GPS ankle bracelet, and make sure they find housing and employment. Libre has an interest in doing this since only if they are gainfully employed can they pay for the bundle of services including the ankle bracelet monitoring.
There is an obvious solution, other companies could enter this market and charge them less.

Congresswoman Torres thinks Nexus charges too much. There is of course an obvious solution to that – other companies could enter this market, helping illegal immigrants navigate our current immigration system, charge them less, and scoop up Nexus's clients.
In just a few years, Nexus has rapidly grown into a company with thousands of clients, making millions of dollars. Which is probably why self-described "liberal" journalists at Mother JonesBuzzFeed, and the Washington Post have attacked it.
What Ubertarians Don't Know
Many of the new enterprises that have stepped in to provide services in the wake of failed government systems – ridesharing, charter schools, app based transportation – have slowly won over millennial liberals who have increasingly moved into cities in the past two decades. So far, because of their own self-interest, millennials are supporting the steady march of deregulation and choice in schools and taxis.
D.C. lawyers and lobbyists for left leaning causes often decry free market capitalism – except when it comes to their kid's charter school or their freedom to use Lyft. Washington City Paper has dubbed these people Ubertarians
But until their lofts are dusty, their linens unwashed, and their Whole Foods produce is (even more) prohibitively costly, they may not care about what happens to illegal aliens. And the illegals don't vote. Or donate to Congressional campaigns.
Government sector unions don't make money when an illegal immigrant is released from jail or prison.

Torres, like most Democrats in Congress, has among her major donors trade unions, whose carpenters, electricians, and plumbers don't like competition from illegal immigrant labor, and government sector unions, who don't make money when an illegal immigrant is released from jail or prison.
Detaining an undocumented immigrant in prison costs taxpayers $120 a day, sometimes they are held for several years until they are deported; if a county jail picks up someone with a deportation order it can get up to $180 a day from federal coffers.
Washington Post reporter has twice written one-sided pieces on Nexus, and is reportedly calling Nexus clients, trying to get info for a third article. Presumably this is motivated by his own off-the-shelf "liberalism" (and hopes of getting a journalism award) and not a Jeff Bezos scheme to enter the market and monitor illegal immigrants with drones while putting them to work in Amazon shipment centers as indentured servants.
Everything about the Nexus story violates someone's preconceptions and prejudices. Nexus founder Michael Donovan – a gay Unitarian pastor who in the past worked with prison populations, after himself serving time for 6 felonies (the result, he says, of kiting two checks to cover a group of friends' hotel bills for a night, when he was in college) – reports that Libre gets over 60% of its clients out on bail when they go with them to their initial deportation hearings.
The other 30-40%? According to Donovan he can't help them because, at their deportation hearing, it turns out they have an arrest warrant for some other crime, including DUIs. However, during last year's election, American voters were constantly told that illegal immigrants were less likely to have committed a crime (other than being in the country illegally) than your average American.
Harassing Nexus Doesn't Help Anyone
Torres, like so many people in Congress (Schumer, Van Holland, ad nauseam) has no work experience outside government, no knowledge of what it takes to start or grow a business. She was a government phone dispatcher before working her way up through local and state elective offices.
So it's not surprising – though it does show a lack of imagination – that the Congresswoman thinks that having the government harass Nexus, thereby discouraging competitors from entering the market, would make things better.
Currently illegal immigrants depend on immigration lawyers. A group of lawyers can practice law anywhere (including D.C., California, New York, Texas, Virginia) by passing the bar in any state, because all immigration law is federal law. Nexus’s founder claims that lawyers with criminal records and ethics violations are drawn to immigration law, since easy-bar states will allow them to have a law license, but they can then practice immigration law anywhere. 
Traditional immigration lawyers have been known to take tens of thousands of dollars from detained immigrants, then fail to represent them.

According to Donovan, traditional immigration lawyers have been known to take tens of thousands of dollars up front from the detained immigrants who can come up with the money, then fail to represent them and allow them to be deported back to their home countries, with little practical recourse
Donovan's business model, he emphasizes, only makes money for Nexus if the immigrant stays in the country, gainfully employed, and without any criminal activity. (The Department of Homeland Security does maintain a web page for people to report fraud committed by immigration attorneys or people falsely claiming to be immigration attorneys.)
One might imagine a fellow entrepreneur like President Trump would be sympathetic to Mike Donavan, Libre by Nexus, and the illegal immigrants, under attack from the media and Democrats in Congress. But on this issue, probably not, given that enforcing immigration law was President Trump's signature campaign issue with his base. But perhaps someone else in the Trump family and administration might take up they cause? Ivanka? Jarrod?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

How Federal Spending Fuels The Campus Speech Police

Bias response teams function as speech police on many campuses. And 
they’re the next campus office to sprout under the firehose of federal 
college subsidies.

Bruce Majors, in The Federalist
Donald Trump famously tweeted a question of whether campuses that don’t protect free speech should lose federal funding, after aggressive protesters prevented flamboyant conservative speaker (and Trump promoter) Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking at the University of California at Berkeley earlier this year.
Earlier this month, off-campus rioters used a peaceful protest by UC-Berkeley students to set fire to university property. The next day, a group of students and faculty at New York University protested another conservative speaker, Gavin McInnes. Last week the student government at Santa Clara University banned a local chapter of Turning Point USA, a group that advocates “fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government,” reportedly claiming that such beliefs and discussions were in themselves racist and made liberal students uncomfortable.
While everyone is blaming everything from bureaucracy to culture, few are laying blame on what may be the core culprit: generous federal funding for universities. Critics say the explosive growth of federal higher education funding has fueled tuition hikes and expensive property developments like palatial conference centers and spa-quality gymnasiums, but it may also threaten free speech on campus.
Almost three million of the 13 million undergraduate students in the United States could be hearing their fellow students talk about “Bert” this year. But they won’t be talking about Bert of Bert and Ernie, or any other Bert they’ve met. They’ll be talking about “BRTS,” Bias Report Teams, a new collegiate institution now found on about 232 campuses that serve those 3 million students.
new report on free speech on American campuses tabulates and surveys the rise of Bias Response Teams. While colleges and their surrounding communities have long had mechanisms for addressing hate crimes, BRTs address the subtle slights and micro-aggressions—whether intentional or unintentional—that some people say makes them feel unsafe. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education report also found that 42 percent of BRTs include law enforcement personnel, what FIRE called “literal speech police.”

What the ‘Literal Speech Police’ Do

The BRT at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York deemed the message “Make America Great Again” written on the whiteboards of two female faculty members of color as a “racial attack.” Pro-Trump messages written in chalk at the Emory University in Atlanta and the University of Michigan also prompted school-wide investigations.
BRT officials at the University of Oregon spoke with staff members of the campus newspaper in response to an anonymous complaint alleging it lacked coverage of transgender people. A BRT warned Mike Jensen, an adjunct professor at the University of Northern Colorado, “not to revisit transgender issues in his classroom” after a student complained about his question “If somebody has never been a woman, how can they know they feel like a woman?”
“Inviting students to report a broad range of speech to campus authorities casts a chilling pall over free speech rights,” Adam Steinbaugh, a FIRE senior program officer, said in a statement. “Bias response teams solicit reports of a wide range of constitutionally protected speech, including speech about politics and social issues. These sometimes anonymous bias reports can result in interventions by conflict-wary administrators who then provide ‘education,’ often in the form of a verbal reprimand, or even explicit punishment.”
Martin Berger, a vice provost at the University of California–Santa Cruz, says BRTs are necessary. “For many years, bias reports, if they were dealt with at all, were handled haphazardly. Campuses in recent years have sought to build multi-disciplinary teams capable of handling any incident that arises.” Berger says there were hundreds of reports last year at UC Santa Cruz, though he doesn’t know exactly how many.

Federal Funds Fuel the Speech Police

BRTs are mainly staffed by deans, administrators, and campus staff borrowed from diversity, student life, LGBT, and discrimination offices, says Steinbaugh. Just as these bureaucracies once did not have their own separately funded staff and offices, separately funded BRTs may be the next bureaucracy to sprout under the rain of federal funding. Even the University of Chicago, whose provost famously issued a statement against restrictive campus speech codes in 2016, has a Bias Report Team.
I interviewed Carleton College professor Jeffrey Snyder, because he’d written for The New Republic last year on the chilling effect of BRTs on free speech. In a lengthy and cordial conversation Wednesday morning, I asked about the irony of the University of Chicago promulgating the “Chicago Statement” while having a BRT. He agreed, but said it was part of a more general problem where administration and faculty are often at cross purposes.
This observation raises the question of whether government funding doesn’t tend to expand the administrative bureaucracy and its power relative to that of faculty, and shift the mission of schools away from teaching. When Snyder surveyed existing BRTs one year ago, he found only 100. This year the FIRE report finds over twice as many. Steinbaugh says that although the number of BRTs is growing, he doubts it doubled in one year, and suspects Snyder used a different survey method (Steinbaugh surveyed 500).
Curiously, a day and a half later Snyder sent me an email saying I could not quote him if I were writing an article for Breitbart, where I have written in the past. That’s why here I’m paraphrasing him. I reiterated I was writing a short newsy piece on the FIRE report for my own employer, the American Media Institute Newswire, then a longer article for something like The Hill or The Federalist
I then sent him a rough draft of this article so he could see his quotes in context. I told him if for any reason I wrote about this topic for Breitbart I’d leave his quotes out. Several hours later, despite having gone on the record initially, Snyder decided he did not want to be quoted, period. Apparently it’s dangerous to be an academic quoted in non-Left venues.

Why Does Anyone Think Thought Police Are Worthwhile?

Trying to find proponents of Bias Report Teams who will discuss them can be difficult. Two days spent emailing and calling Dr. Archie Ervin, president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, finally resulted in his secretary reporting that he said he was getting ready for a trip and could not talk.
Reaching those in charge of bias reports at the University of Chicago was similarly difficult. The phone number used to make a Bias Report asks the caller to choose from a menu, including being connected to the police or to the “Dean on Call.” The latter option leads to a beeping voicemail box with no greeting or other message. One University of Chicago dean’s office referred me to an employee, Lynda Daher, in a student affairs office with an LGBT portfolio who is still listed on the university website, but when called turns out to have left the university’s employ the year previously.
Punishing ‘hazing’ means punishing actions, not protected speech or beliefs. It is not a tool of re-education to eliminate wrong thoughts.
Dozens of email queries to campus BRT offices around the country and to a variety of civil rights groups—the NAACP, Human Rights Campaign, American Association of University Women, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force—produced only one response, from the earlier quoted Berger. Berger says FIRE is wrong to be concerned that police officers are on many BRTs: “They seem concerned that 42 percent of bias teams contain members of law enforcement. They apparently take this as a sign that police are used to suppress free speech… Campuses in recent years have sought to build multi-disciplinary teams capable of handling any incident that arises.”
But lumping “any incident” reported as “bias” seems to be exactly the problem: having a belief, stating a belief, and other forms of protected speech, are lumped together with violence, threats, and intimidation. Much of what many people would now view as “bias” that should be punished on campus was in previous decades simply considered “hazing.” A few university BRTs, including George Washington University and the University of Virginia, do actually also refer to the older concept of “hazing.”
But punishing “hazing” means punishing actions, not protected speech or beliefs. It is not a tool of re-education to eliminate wrong thoughts. Under the BRT regime, the fact that someone reported a student or faculty member for having or stating an opinion that made the reporter uncomfortable might be filed as a harassment claim in that person’s permanent record, for all future employers or graduate schools to see.

BRTs Have It Out for Everyone

Steinbaugh (and Snyder) point out that although reports on campus censorship largely show discrimination against conservative and libertarian groups, students on both sides of political issues use them. That includes white students who claim they are offended by Black Lives Matter-style protests or lecturers claiming policing in America targets blacks, by conservative students claiming they are offended by progressive groups calling Donald Trump a racist, and even by progressive and minority students squabbling among themselves.
According to FIRE, only half of the BRTs surveyed said they believed there is a tension between free speech and combatting bias.
In a 2015 incident FIRE founder Greg Lukianoff discussed in a coauthored article for The Atlantic, a group of Asian students at Brandeis University placed an installation on campus attempting to raise awareness about smaller, unintended slights referred to as “micro-aggressions”—things like being asked “Where did your family come from?” or “What was your first language?”—only to have it shut down by other students claiming that the installation itself was a microaggression.
According to FIRE, only half of the BRTs surveyed said they believed there is a tension between free speech and combatting bias. Almost half involved law enforcement officials in their bias reports. Steinbaugh said he thinks the growth of BRTs results more from campus administrative bureaucrats importing harassment reporting and counseling practices from HR departments than from ideas about taking power from or censoring privileged groups and empowering minorities derived from academics like Herbert Marcuse or Eve Kosofsky Sedgewick. That would mean this problem also stems from the growth in regulations at all levels of government and the American propensity for frequent litigation.
If President Trump and the GOP decide to reign in federal spending on post-secondary education, especially outside of the sciences, highlighting the institutionalization of censorship on campus may give them plenty of talking points and anecdotes that will resonate with the voters who elected them.

DC: Free the Food!

New IJ Report on Positive Impact of Cottage Food Businesses: IJ released a new report on the benefits of allowing home-bakers...