Wednesday, December 02, 2015

All immigrants are not the same

The simple truth in my heading above seems to escape the ideologically committed libertarian mind of writer Abigail Hall.  Below she writes that America should appreciate ALL immigrants.  And there is an element of truth in that.  America was for a long time very fortunate in how well all its immigrants settled in and made positive contributions to the national life.  

But that run of luck is now at an end.  Many migrants from Muslim lands, Hispanic America and Africa do NOT settle in and become like older Americans. Instead they are to varying extents hostile and parasitic sub-populations.  America's Muslim population in particular are a breeding ground for terrorism. Not all Muslims are terrorists but by providing a support system in America for their foul religion, they encourage the few foolish young men and women among them who do exactly what their holy book commands:  Attack non-Muslims.  So we have had things like the Fort Hood shootings.  America could very easily and advantageously do without its Muslims

We should be thankful for immigrants. That’s the theme of the latest op-ed from Independent Institute Research Fellow Abigail R. Hall, published on Thanksgiving in the Orange County Register. “I’m grateful for those who come here legally and for those who come here illegally,” she writes.

Hall argues that immigrant workers create several benefits. They foster job creation—with each immigrant producing about 1.2 new jobs, according to a recent study by Indiana University. They boost economic growth—such as by increasing the degree of specialization in the labor force. And immigrants reduce poverty—not only their own, but also in their country of origin when they send money to family members back home. “These remittances substantially benefit their poor families, in many cases providing more money and opportunities than foreign aid,” Hall writes.

“So when we gather with family and friends to give thanks for all we have, remember those who have recently arrived in our country,” Hall continues. “Immigrants boost our economy, create jobs and reduce poverty around the world. I’m glad they’re here.”




The remorseless laws of economics are cutting it to pieces.

Until the 19th century, the Chinese practiced a method of torture called lingchi. Better known as “death by a thousand cuts” it involved slicing small pieces of flesh from a victim’s body, one by one, so that death was both protracted and utterly excruciating. This is what the realities of economics are doing to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The authors of health care “reform” believed they could ignore the dismal science. The laws of economics have rewarded this hubris by ruthlessly inflicting fact after agonizing fact on Obamacare. And, like all lingchi victims, it will eventually succumb.

Moreover, this is becoming obvious to all but the most obtuse of the law’s apologists. In fact, it has been conceded by strongholds of Obamacare supporters like the Washington Post, the New York Times, and even the Huffington Post. The latter publication, for example, carried a column late last week titled, “Why Obamacare Will Fail.” And, as surprising as it was to find such an article in this notorious purveyor of White House propaganda, it was even more so to discover that its author, Dan Karr, doesn’t blame some dark Republican plot: “The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will fail for business reasons.”

This reality was dramatically illustrated when UnitedHealth, one of the most important providers of coverage through Obamacare’s “marketplaces,” announced last Thursday that it “has pulled back on its marketing efforts for individual exchange products in 2016” and is mulling whether “it can continue to serve the public exchange markets in 2017.” The company expects a $425 million reduction in earnings for the Fourth Quarter of 2015 due to its participation in Obamacare. In other words, the law’s economic incentives are so perverse that even a behemoth like UnitedHealth can’t overcome them.

The problem is that “reform” distorts the market by burying both insurers and the insured beneath a mountain of mandates. Probably the worst is Obamacare’s benefit mandate. Most health plans must now include 10 “minimum essential” benefits—whether customers want them or not. This mandate has inevitably caused the cost of providing coverage to skyrocket. The only way a company like UnitedHealth can keep premiums under some modicum of control is to offer plans with very high deductibles. Meanwhile, the law’s individual mandate has utterly failed as an incentive for healthy individuals to purchase insurance.

This has led to a “lose-lose” situation for insurers and for patients. In an article titled, “Many Say High Deductibles Make Their Health Law Insurance All but Useless,” the New York Times reports, “In many states, more than half the plans offered for sale through, the federal online marketplace, have a deductible of $3,000 or more.” In 2016, the penalty for failing to buy insurance is $695 or 2.5 percent of one’s household income. This means that for most individuals, particularly the young and healthy, the penalty will be considerably less than the out-of-pocket cost required by most health insurance plans.

Thus, many healthy individuals are declining to buy insurance, which means that insurers are stuck with patients who are sicker, on average, than would be the case if the law did not also impose a mandate requiring them to accept all applicants. When an insurer reaches the point at which the patient portfolio foisted on it by Obamacare forces it to pay out more in claims than it collects in premiums, it will abandon that market. This is an economic fact of life ignored by the authors of the “reform” law and why other insurers will follow UnitedHealth’s example, leaving fewer choices and higher costs for more patients.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the latest Gallup survey shows the number of Americans who disapprove of Obamacare increasing. What is worse, it is even less popular with the uninsured than with any other group: “Individuals who say they have no insurance tilt heavily toward disapproval of the healthcare law.” In fact, only 30 percent of the uninsured approve of the law. And this is unlikely to improve during the current enrollment period. As the Wall Street Journal reports, “Many people signing up for 2016 under the Affordable Care Act face higher premiums, fewer doctors and skimpier coverage.”

The tragic irony associated with “higher premiums” and “fewer doctors” is that this is precisely the opposite of what most Americans wanted from health care reform to begin with. A Gallup survey done in the summer of 2009, as the reform debate was heating up, revealed that control of rapidly increasing health care costs and better access to care were the public’s highest priorities. And it isn’t hard to guess which a majority considered the most crucial: “When asked which of the two is the more important goal, the public says, by 52% to 42%, that controlling costs is more crucial than expanding coverage.”

At that time, conservatives and libertarians said this goal could only be achieved with an unfettered market in which Americans could purchase any sort of coverage they wished from insurance companies that were free to sell a wide range of coverage across state lines. But this kind of freedom was anathema to the Democrats who controlled the White House and both houses of Congress. They believed they were smarter than the market and created a grotesque morass of mandates intensely disliked by insurers, patients, and care providers. And, dumbest of all, they ignored the laws of economics.

But the penalties for ignoring those laws are draconian indeed. If you increase the cost of doing business for insurers, they’ll raise premiums and deductibles. If you make it impossible for them to make a profit selling coverage through exchanges, they’ll pull out. If you make coverage too expensive, people won’t buy it. If that coverage pays doctors less than it costs to treat a patient, doctors won’t treat them. If you pass a law that ignores such realities, it will be subjected to fact after brutal fact until it finally dies.


To understand France's jihadis, look at where they came from


Eurocrats rarely see Molenbeek, the Brussels commune that has become the focus of police investigations following the Paris abominations - except, occasionally, from the windows of their chauffeured limousines. A canal separates Molenbeek from the monstrous EU buildings of the Schuman quarter; but the two districts are divided by much more than a stretch of gray water.

Brussels is home to two types of immigrants. First, there are those (like me) who are in some way connected to the EU or to its ancillary industries: lobbying, journalism, PR. Then there are the large Turkish and North African populations, connected to their ancestral countries by the satellite dishes through which they watch TV from "home." The two worlds rarely meet, except when an EU official gets into a taxi, or perhaps hires a head-scarfed cleaner.

Few Bruxellois are surprised that Molenbeek is the epicenter of the Paris plot. It's not a uniquely poor district, at least not by comparison with the tower-blocked banlieus - the suburbs that ring some French cities. Molenbeek is run-down, jobless and listless rather than seething. Its local council has a reputation for uselessness. The commune has been under the control of the Left for as long as anyone can remember, and councilmen rely lazily on Muslim votes. But it would be idiotic to argue that growing up in a down-at-heel, dull, vaguely corrupt borough somehow puts young men on the path to mass murder.

Alienation is a common enough phenomenon among second-generation immigrants, pulled between their countries of birth and the sunlit lands of their grandparents' stories. Sometimes, the sense of dislocation becomes a clinical condition: Schizophrenia is eight times more common among second-generation Dutch immigrants than in the general population.

Still, a sense of mild dislocation doesn't normally push people into political violence. Something else is happening.

I think it has to do with the way that patriotism has been derided and traduced by Europe's intellectual elites. If you want newcomers to assimilate into your society, you have to give them something into which to assimilate. You have to project a sense of pride, of common purpose, of self-belief.

This is perhaps especially difficult in Belgium. There is no Belgian language, no Belgian culture, precious little Belgian history. The country is divided between French and Dutch-speakers and subsists, as the saying goes, only in its monarchy and its football team.

The last Belgian election was won by a party that favors Flemish self-rule, and French and Dutch-speaking populations are, in consequence, identifying less with the national institutions, more with their own communities. But where does this leave, say, a Moroccan-origin boy from Molenbeek? What is there for him to be join?

Think of the experience that boy will have had in his adolescence. His every interaction with the Belgian state will have taught him to despise it. If he got any history at all in school, it will have been presented to him as a hateful chronicle of racism and exploitation. When he hears politicians on TV, they are unthinkingly blaming every ill in the world on Western meddling. It's hardly an inducement to integrate, is it?

Americans are very good at assimilating newcomers. They go in for loud displays of national pride - flags in the yard and bunting on Independence Day and stirring songs - that strike some Euro-snobs as vulgar, but that make it easy for settlers to want to belong.

In the EU, by contrast, the ruling doctrine is that patriotism is a dangerous force, and that the nation-state is on its last legs. Eurocrats dream of making the 12-star flag a common post-national symbol, just as they have already replaced national passports with an EU version. "Europe - Your Country," says the sign at the Commission building.

In every age and nation, some young men are attracted by the sheer certainty of political violence. Once, they joined the Red Brigades or the Baader-Meinhof Gang. Now, for similar reasons, they are drawn to the latest terrorist group that glamorizes destruction.

Part of our response must be security-based. We need to be prepared to deploy proportionate force, whether at home or overseas.

Ultimately, though, the best way to defeat a bad idea is with a better idea. There is surely no more squalid idea than that propagated by the death-cult calling itself Islamic State. And there is no finer idea than the freedom that defines Western societies. Let's not be shy about saying so.



Police Take More Property from People than Burglars

Most readers of The Beacon are probably familiar with the rise in civil asset forfeiture, which gives police the power to seize property they claim was used in criminal activity, often without accusing the property owner of a crime. They don’t have to. It’s up to property owners to prove they are innocent to get their property back.

Martin Armstrong posts on his blog that in 2014 property taken through civil asset forfeiture exceeded the value of property taken by burglars. This article analyzes that claim in more detail, and it appears that the statistics Armstrong uses actually undercount the losses from civil asset forfeiture. For one thing, he only looks at civil asset forfeitures by the federal government.

It is unsettling to think that the property of Americans is more at risk from being confiscated by police than being stolen by burglars.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


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