December 29, 2008
I'll bet you've never heard of Nowruz, also known as the Iranian New Year. It falls around the first day of Spring, predates Islam, and is observed in several central Asian countries with names that end in -stan, some of which we have (too many) of our troops in.
And I'll bet that Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush had never heard of it either. But that hasn't stopped them from sending out their best wishes, first in 1992 (gee, did some Iranian-American group complain, do you think?), then in 2000 by Clinton (what about 1993-99?), and now annually since 2005 by Bush the Younger and Most Brain Damaged by Diversity.
I'm going to merely wish everyone a happy (Christian Era) New Year, and I don't care about the dozens (hundreds?) of other versions anymore. Remember, diversity is no longer our greatest source of strength, but our greatest source of conflict, and absurdity.
Check out the link here. (You'll have to type in the word nowruz in the archive search area). Also take note that for the first time, just this year, President Bush had to not only issue the annual best wishes, but had to elaborate on Nowruz in two recorded interviews the same day!
Speaking of countries that end in -stan, maybe we should rename America, and the Presidency, Absurdistan.
December 19, 2008
Having a historical interest in how immigration to America has come in waves, (and also desiring the end to the current influx) got me to thinking of where to look for written declarations made by Republicans and Democrats on this subject over the years.
One source I found are the party platforms issued every four years at their conventions.
This post will summarize their positions from the period 1900 to 1960. I wanted to see what they said about the great wave that occurred up until 1921, then the sharp reduction that ran from 1924 to 1965, and finally, the reasons for the 1965 increase.
I found a website that has copies of all the party platforms and nearly all Presidential speeches, the site is called The American Presidency Project and its homepage is here.
It's a great site for history buffs, it's quite impressive.
The first thing that surprised me was how little the party platforms had to say about immigration from 1900 to 1920. Despite this being a period of record high immigration, with a peak of 14% of the country being foreign born in 1910 (a percentage we are just about at now), the platforms didn't mention immigration in 1900, 1904, or 1908. The first call for a reduction came with the 1912 Republicans version, which said:
We pledge the Republican party to the enactment of appropriate laws to give relief from the constantly growing evil of induced or undesirable immigration, which is inimical to the progress and welfare of the people of the United States.
The Democrats had nothing to say in 1912. Neither party mentioned immigration in 1916, which may have been due to the fact that World War I had greatly reduced it. In 1920, however, the Republicans had a lot to say about it:
The standard of living and the standard of citizenship of a nation are its most precious possessions, and the preservation and the elevation of those standards is the first duty of our government. The immigration policy of the U. S. should be such as to insure that the number of foreigners in the country at any one time shall not exceed that which can be assimilated with reasonable rapidity, and to favor immigrants whose standards are similar to ours.
The selective tests that are at present applied should be improved by requiring a higher physical standard, a more complete exclusion of mental defectives and of criminals, and a more effective inspection applied as near the source of immigration as possible, as well as at the port of entry. Justice to the foreigner and to ourselves demands provision for the guidance, protection and better economic distribution of our alien population. To facilitate government supervision, all aliens should be required to register annually until they become naturalized.
The existing policy of the United States for the practical exclusion of Asiatic immigrants is sound, and should be maintained.
There is urgent need of improvement in our naturalization law. No alien should become a citizen until he has become genuinely American, and adequate tests for determining the alien's fitness for American citizenship should be provided for by law.
How things have changed since 1920! The above would make a strong argument today for another immigration time-out, if the parties weren't so Politically Correct.
Despite this strong statement, the 1920 Democratic platform had nothing to say about immigration!
The 1924 Immigration Act, which greatly reduced the amount and instituted the national origins quota had already been passed before the party conventions. The Republican platform was an affirmation of the reasons for its passage:
The unprecedented living conditions in Europe following the world war created a condition by which we were threatened with mass immigration that would have seriously disturbed our economic life. The law recently enacted is designed to protect the inhabitants of our country, not only the American citizen, but also the alien already with us who is seeking to secure an economic foothold for himself and family from the competition that would come from unrestricted immigration. The administrative features of the law represent a great constructive advance, and eliminate the hardships suffered by immigrants under emergency statute. We favor the adoption of methods which will exercise a helpful influence among the foreign born population and provide for the education of the alien in our language, customs, ideals and standards of life.
The Democrats, for the first time in the 20th Century, had only this to say about immigration in their 1924 platform:
We pledge ourselves to maintain our established position in favor of the exclusion of Asiatic immigration.
That was it, nothing pro or con about the 1924 Act, and what they did say back then would have them apologising for their racism today, if anyone were to bring this to their attention.
In 1928, both parties made statements about immigration:
The Republican Party believes that in the interest of both native and foreign-born wage-earners, it is necessary to restrict immigration. Unrestricted immigration would result in widespread unemployment and in the breakdown of the American standard of living. Where, however, the law works undue hardships by depriving the immigrant of the comfort and society of those bound by close family ties, such modification should be adopted as will afford relief.
Laws which limit immigration must be preserved in full force and effect, but the provisions contained in these laws that separate husbands from wives and parents from infant children are inhuman and not essential to the purpose or the efficacy of such laws.
In 1932, during the worst part of the Great Depression, the Republicans said:
The restriction of immigration is a Republican policy. Our party formulated and enacted into law the quota system, which for the first time has made possible an adequate control of foreign immigration. We favor the continuance and strict enforcement of our present laws upon this subject.
The Democrats said nothing about it, and neither party platform mentioned immigration in 1936. In 1940, only the Republicans had this to say:
We favor the strict enforcement of all laws controlling the entry of aliens. The activities of undesirable aliens should be investigated and those who seek to change by force and violence the American form of government should be deported.
Neither party platform mentions immigration in 1944 or 1948.
In 1952, however, a significant change occurred. The Democrats platform, after being nearly silent about immigration all century, had this to say:
Subversive elements must be screened out and prevented from entering our land, but the gates must be left open for practical numbers of desirable persons from abroad whose immigration to this country provides an invigorating infusion into the stream of American life, as well as a significant contribution to the solution of the world refugee and overpopulation problems.
We pledge continuing revision of our immigration and naturalization laws to do away with any unjust and unfair practices against national groups which have contributed some of our best citizens. We will eliminate distinctions between native-born and naturalized citizens. We want no "second-class" citizens in free America.
Here, for the first time, we see dissatisfaction with the 1924 national origins quota.
The Republicans didn't mention immigration in 1952.
In 1956, the Democrats basically repeated what they said in their 1952 platform, under the heading "Progressive Immigration Policies":
The Democratic Party favors prompt revision of the immigration and nationality laws to eliminate unfair provisions under which admissions to this country depend upon quotas based upon the accident of national origin. Proper safeguards against subversive elements should be provided. Our immigration procedures must reflect the principles of our Bill of Rights...
We also favor more liberal admission of relatives to eliminate the unnecessary tragedies of broken families. We favor elimination of unnecessary distinctions between native-born and naturalized citizens.
The Republicans, having been silent on immigration since 1940, had this to say in 1956:
The Republican Party supports an immigration policy which is in keeping with the traditions of America in providing a haven for oppressed peoples, and which is based on equality of treatment, freedom from implications of discrimination between racial, nationality and religious groups, and flexible enough to conform to changing needs and conditions.
We believe that such a policy serves our self-interest, reflects our responsibility for world leadership and develops maximum cooperation with other nations in resolving problems in this area.
Here, they also are having second thoughts regarding the 1924 Act, although rather vaguely compared to the Democrats.
In 1960, John F. Kennedy is nominated as the Democratic Presidential candidate, and it was he who really started to push strongly for the end of the 1924 Act. The party platform reflected this by putting immigration near the top of their 1960 platform:
We shall adjust our immigration, nationality and refugee policies to eliminate discrimination and to enable members of scattered families abroad to be united with relatives already in our midst.
The national-origins quota system of limiting immigration contradicts the rounding principles of this nation. It is inconsistent with our belief in the rights of man. This system was instituted after World War I as a policy of deliberate discrimination by a Republican Administration and Congress...
We must remove the distinctions between native-born and naturalized citizens to assure full protection of our laws to all. There is no place in the United States for "second-class citizenship."
The protections provided by due process, right of appeal, and statutes of limitation, can be extended to non-citizens without hampering the security of our nation.
We commend the Democratic Congress for the initial steps that have recently been taken toward liberalizing changes in immigration law. However, this should not be a piecemeal project and we are confident that a Democratic President in cooperation with Democratic Congresses will again implant a humanitarian and liberal spirit in our nation's immigration and citizenship policies.
The 1960 Republican platform mentions immigration, but unlike the Democrats it was placed at the very bottom of the page, indicating to me that the changes Kennedy & the Democrats wanted weren't all that objectionable:
Immigration has historically been a great factor in the growth of the United States, not only in numbers but in the enrichment of ideas that immigrants have brought with them...
Immigration has been reduced to the point where it does not provide the stimulus to growth that it should, nor are we fulfilling our obligation as a haven for the oppressed. Republican conscience and Republican policy require that:
The annual number of immigrants we accept be at least doubled.
Obsolete immigration laws be amended by abandoning the outdated 1920 census data as a base and substituting the 1960 census.
The guidelines of our immigration policy be based upon judgment of the individual merit of each applicant for admission and citizenship.
While not openly advocating for the end of the 1924 national origins quota, they are heading in that direction with the call to use the 1960 census as a guide. More alarming from a restrictionist standpoint is the call to double the number of immigrants. Even the Democrats didn't even call for this in 1960!
After reading the two parties 1960 platforms, it is clear that the 1924 restrictions were on life-support, and it's not surprising that they were eventually repealed with the passage of the 1965 Immigration Act.
December 14, 2008
Ted Kennedy wasn't the only politician who got it wrong about what the 1965 Immigration Act would or wouldn't do to America. The bill was strongly supported and signed into law on October 3, 1965 by LBJ at the Statue of Liberty (Maybe it should be re-named the Statue of Immigration?). Here is an abridged version of his speech that day with some of my comments in bold:
This bill that we will sign today is not a revolutionary bill. It does not affect the lives of millions. It will not reshape the structure of our daily lives, or really add importantly to either our wealth or our power. Wrong - it's one of the most revolutionary bill ever!
Yet it is still one of the most important acts of this Congress and of this administration. For it does repair a very deep and painful flaw in the fabric of American justice. It corrects a cruel and enduring wrong in the conduct of the American Nation. What's so cruel about controlling immigration?
The fairness of this standard is so self-evident that we may well wonder that it has not always been applied. Yet the fact is that for over four decades the immigration policy of the United States has been twisted and has been distorted by the harsh injustice of the national origins quota system. Which you promptly replaced with with another injustice - all but totally ending white, European immigration.
Under that system the ability of new immigrants to come to America depended upon the country of their birth. Only three countries were allowed to supply 70 percent of all the immigrants. Now only three countries still supply the same percentage, just three from the Third World.
Men were denied entrance because they came from southern or eastern Europe or from one of the developing continents. This system violated the basic principle of American democracy--the principle that values and rewards each man on the basis of his merit as a man. If this were true the Sept 11th attacks never would have happened.
It has been un-American in the highest sense, because it has been untrue to the faith that brought thousands to these shores even before we were a country. We can now believe that it will never again shadow the gate to the American Nation with the twin barriers of prejudice and privilege. So you made immigration to America a civil right, not a privilege as it should be.
Our beautiful America was built by a nation of strangers. From a hundred different places or more they have poured forth into an empty land, joining and blending in one mighty and irresistible tide. The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources--because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples. Who no longer are interested in "joining and blending", but instead keeping their cultures intact and expanding them.
The days of unlimited immigration are past. Dead wrong, with illegal immigration included, it's virtually unlimited now.
…and so it has been through all the great and testing moments of American history. Our history this year we see in Vietnam. Men there are dying… Neither the enemy who killed them nor the people whose independence they have fought to save ever asked them where they or their parents came from. They were all Americans. By eliminating that same question as a test for immigration the Congress proves ourselves worthy of those men and worthy of our own traditions as a Nation. Those traditions are dying, now everyone is either a hyphenated-American, or would rather be known as a foreign national who just happens to live in America.
If that wasn't enough, LBJ also made a speech on July 1, 1968, marking the day the 1965 Act actually went into effect:
It was nearly 3 years ago, on one of the proudest days of my Presidency, that I stood at the foot of the Statute of Liberty and signed into the law of this land the Immigration Act of 1965.
Today that act takes full force. The lamp of liberty has never shone brighter. The golden door to immigration has never stood wider. The lamp of liberty is about as dim as it ever has been, and the golden door has been ripped off of its hinges.
Every American can be proud today because we have finally eliminated the cruel and unjust national origins system from the immigration policy of the United States. We have righted a long-standing wrong. Cruel and unjust because it favored white Western Europeans.
So today, any man, anywhere in the world, can hope to begin a new life of freedom and a new life of greater opportunity in the United States. No longer will his color or his religion or his nationality be a barrier to him. The only preferences will be for those who already have relatives here… No longer will only three nations supply 70 percent of America's immigrants. No longer will the people of one nation be less welcome here than the people of another nation. So now we are in danger of losing our white majority, of having Islam become a major threat to Christianity, chain immigration from the third world, dominated by Mexico, and becoming a hundred little nations within one overcrowded country.
This landmark act will work to enrich the heart of America--the people themselves. All who, over the years, have dreamed and labored for its achievement can take great satisfaction today.
Together we have helped to preserve the American dream--and more than that--we have opened its promise equally to all men everywhere. No, you are destroying the American dream, by overwhelming us with Third World poverty and tribalism.
President Lyndon Johnson left office a broken man, thanks to the tragedy of the Vietnam War. His name has been cursed by many tens of thousands of older Americans who lost loved ones in that war. Now, he can also be cursed as the President who signed the bill that gave birth to Multicultural America, and the birth of an era that I call The Great Transformation, the transformation of America into a potential Third World nation, an era that is now past its midpoint with the election of Obama as President.
December 11, 2008
In 1965, during the Senate floor debate over the Immigration Act, Ted Kennedy stated that:
"First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually...Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset."
These statements have turned out to be totally false, and it should have become apparent to Kennedy that this was the case way back in the mid to late 1970's. It would have been honorable of him to have come to the Senate floor and stated something like: "We goofed big time on this bill, terribly sorry, and here's a new bill to cut back on our immigration levels, and I urge its passage."
Of course, that never happened. I've often wondered if Kennedy had ever been interviewed about it, and if he would have admitted he was either lying in 1965, or if not, if he might have felt any guilt about how wrong he was. It turns out that NPR did interview him about it in 2006, just as he began to push for another immigration bill that ultimately failed. After a couple of softball historical questions, Jennifer Ludden asks the following, with Kennedy's reply:
Q: What's striking about the debate in 1965 is how so many people did not expect a huge increase in immigration, or a change in the demographics of the nation. You told Congress that immigration levels would remain "substantially the same," and that "the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset." Why weren't these changes foreseen?
KENNEDY: There were enormous changes as a result of illegal immigration. A lot of the antagonism, frustration and anger is better focused at the illegality and the illegals that came here in very significant numbers. [People] are certainly frustrated by the illegality and the explosion of illegals who come here that have impact in terms of the economy, depressing wages, and taking jobs. But on the other hand, they have this incredible admiration and respect for their neighbor, the person at the corner store who is working 18 to 20 hours a day, trying to provide for their family, and whose child is serving in the armed forces of the country. They admire those [immigrants] they see in church, churchgoers who are trying to bring their kids up. So there's a very significant ambivalence in people's minds.
Q: But the level of even legal immigration has increased dramatically since 1965, even though many supporters of the legislation then said it would not.
KENNEDY: Everybody obviously wants to come, because this is the land of opportunity, but we've seen a rather dramatic shift as well in terms of the birthrate here. That was not really foreseen. You're having now the leveling off of the birthrate here among a number of families. You certainly saw that in terms of Europe and Western Europe, where there is an actual decline. I don't think we foresaw that so much at the time, 40 years ago. But that is a fact, and that sends all kinds of messages.
To be energized we need new workers, younger workers, who are going to be a part of the whole economy. We don't have them here in the United States. There are greater outreach efforts being made in terms of trying to keep people in the labor market longer. We need to have the skills of all of these people. The fact is, this country, with each new wave of immigrants, has been energized and advanced, quite frankly, in terms of its economic, social, cultural and political life. And I think that's something that will continue into the future. I don't think we ought to fear it, we ought to welcome it.
Q: Some have suggested it was a mistake to make family reunification the main purpose of our immigration law. They say perhaps we should have a system more like Canada's, which lets people in based largely on their skills. How do you respond to these criticisms?
KENNEDY: I think our tradition of the Statue of Liberty is to be willing to accept the unwashed as well as the highly skilled. There are a lot of people who haven't had opportunities in other places as a result of dictatorships and totalitarian regimes and discrimination. Are we going to say we refuse to let any of those individuals come in because we've got someone who has happened to have a more advantaged situation? I'm not sure that's what this country is all about.
And that was the end of the interview, at least that's all there is on the NPR website. It seems so brief, almost as if Kennedy was getting uncomfortable with the questioning and cut the interview short. And this was an interview from NPR, a friendly liberal network!
Given the chance to be honest, Kennedy instead gives us a typical wishy-washy politicians answer, first blaming the unexpected increase on illegal immigration, which had nothing to do with the 1965 act, which was about giving an equal chance for anybody to immigrate to America legally. He then tries to justify the increase by talking about a completely new subject, America's birthrate, as if the unexpected modest drop in the birthrate of the native born could somehow justify a massive increase in immigration.
The truth of the matter is that the 1965 Act had a provision for unlimited "non-quota" increases for family members in addition to the "quota" or primary part of the Bill. This lead to what has become known as chain immigration, and the overall skyrocketing legal numbers. This provision must have been ignored or overlooked in 1965, but Kennedy and his supporters should have known of its potential. Some people in Washington DID know about it, the same interviewer also reports:
In 1965, the political elite on Capitol Hill may not have predicted a mass increase in immigration. But Marian Smith, the historian for Customs and Immigration Services, showed me a small agency booklet from 1966 that certainly did. It explains how each provision in the new law would lead to a rapid increase in applications and a big jump in workload -- more and more so as word trickled out to those newly eligible to come.
I'd love to see a copy of that booklet from 1966, issued fully two years before the 1965 Act actually went into effect in 1968. It's a shame there wasn't more opposition to the bill back then, for we now know that the 1965 Immigration Act, originally supposed to be a minor addition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, has become one of the most profound and infamous of any legislation ever to come out of Washington.
December 6, 2008
December 3, 2008
If your total debt level is at the point where your required monthly minimum is $200 or more, and you have two or more credit cards, consider doing the following in lieu of missing a payment and defaulting:
Pay your monthly minimum balance due with a balance transfer from one of your other cards! Then when the minimum comes due on the other card(s), transfer the balance back! Net cost to you...Zero!
You will need to have some credit limit left on each card in order to do this, in other words you can't be totally "maxed out" on the cards, but if you have a limit of a few hundred dollars left on each one, it can be done. Plus, most cards allow balance transfers as low as $100 or $200 per transaction. You may get charged a small balance transfer fee, likely 3%, but on such a small transfer amount it's no big deal.
I have been doing this about every other month or so for the last two years, and I have yet to have a balance transfer request denied! It's a great way to increase your cash savings which is a good idea in deflationary times, especially if we head into a Depression, when Cash will be King.
In theory you could do this for a lifetime and never have to pay your credit card balance back at all, but don't take this thought seriously unless things get so bad that it really looks like the death of the USA is imminent. (Of course at that point you would owe it to yourself and your family to do whatever it takes to prevent you and them from being dragged down with it.)
Just some financial advice from your friendly neighborhood blogger, free of charge!
December 2, 2008
I have been watching the ongoing economic slowdown of the past few months with the belief that it was going to be a recession, likely a deep one similar to the last one America experienced in 1981-82. Now for the first time I'm growing increasingly fearful of a 1930's style depression, after reading the following article:
Credit card industry may cut up to two trillion dollars in lines over the next 18 months.
What has been happening so far is a period of deflation, which is the reduction of the supply of money and credit in the economy. This has been happening despite all of the governments bailouts, which the banks have been hoarding, instead of lending, as they all have growing bad debt (loan defaults).
The problem is our economy is consumption driven, at over 2/3rds of our total GDP, or gross domestic product. If the major credit card issuing banks are that afraid to lend, this destruction of two trillion in credit lines (basically unsecured loans), would mean a massive, forced decline in consumer credit spending by almost half! It means millions will have their credit cards cancelled by their banks at renewal time, or credit lines sharply reduced at any time.
Keep in mind that the credit card is America's second largest source of consumer liquidity, next only to your salary. It will be nearly impossible to spend ourselves out of a recession. Also keep in mind more and more people use their credit cards for health related emergencies not covered by insurance, or for basic necessities if they find themselves out of work, and we all know unemployment is rising and will likely continue to do so.
Home sales, automobile purchases, and big-ticket retail sales are almost exclusively done through the availability of credit. Cash is only used for the smaller necessities, like groceries, clothes, and gas. Save your economy by putting your neck deeper in the debt noose? You won't be able to even if you wanted to!
The only short term solution to this problem would be the government issuing another massive economic stimulus spending plan, sending us all another $500 check courtesy of Uncle Sam. But this will keep on growing the debt, which as stated in previous posts is unsustainable, and in the end will lead to an even greater crisis.