Assorted links

by on February 1, 2013 at 12:51 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Were some of those massive early American mounds built in only ninety days?

2. David Brooks on immigration.

3. I loved the movie, but Jed Perl is right about Ai WeiWei as an artist.

4. Thomas Edsall on the hidden prosperity of the poor.

5. The Romanian campaign to attract British immigrants, with more here.

6. Reddit thread on automation and driverless cars.

Ray Lopez February 1, 2013 at 1:11 pm

@#1 – I think their data is wrong, it probably did rain but it’s not showing up. But if not, then to have 10k people build a mound of earth using baskets in a couple of months or less is like Woodstock but with the people doing something useful with their muscles; @#2 – more immigration is good, I agree; @3- I think Ai Weiwei is OK and pretty good as an architect/artist–his ‘pull up a chair’ is amusing and his other stuff is as good if not better than Damien Hurst the shark-in-preservative-fluid guy; @4 – unfortunately Edsall is correct and the GMU professors wrong–poverty is not absolute (indeed, today’s poor live better than King Louis 17th of France) but relative (thus income inequality is key). If, 1000 years from now, the poorest 20% of a population make $1M a year (in today’s money) and life expectancy is 1000 years, they’ll still complain if the rich make more money and live longer; @#5- expected, as Romania and all of Europe has a low birthrate yet they prefer white immigrants over Asians; @#6 – a trivial post IMO, the authors lament the passage of people driving cars and assume there will be fewer cars built due to people borrowing cars. perhaps, but the bright side might be other benefits like safer cars, less pollution from these automated cars, etc. Read and responded to all points. Ball is BACK in your court TC.

Brian Donohue February 1, 2013 at 1:24 pm

“they’ll still complain if the rich make more money and live longer”. This hardly makes them right.

The Edsall piece provides a convenient repository of the arguments, but the two sides don’t engage. The right wants to consider fact-bundle A, and the left fact-bundle B.

The only thing in there that I saw that was both new and interesting was the second Jared Bernstein graph at the end that shows real consumption for the bottom quintile declining 5.2% during the raucous bubble years of 2000- 2007. If true, this seems like an issue. Can anyone confirm or rebut this statistic?

And Edsall portrays himself as an honest broker with no axe to grind, until the closing paragraph:

“Meanwhile, beneath the political battleground, the presence in the United States of 42.6 million people officially living in poverty — no matter that they have access to a trickle of consumer goods — must be recognized as a powder keg.” Based on what he put forth in the article, there is a lot to take issue with in this statement.

MD February 1, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Re: Powder keg.

I agree that there is no evidence that America’s poor are some kind of powder keg. A hundred years ago, clashes between labor and managment resulted in death and destruction of property. Now it mostly results in sniping on blogs. Big difference.

GiT February 1, 2013 at 3:03 pm

The powder keg might be easier to manage when it’s coupled with the highest rate of incarceration and largest prison population in the entire world.

Andrew' February 2, 2013 at 5:12 am

” the second Jared Bernstein graph at the end that shows real consumption for the bottom quintile declining 5.2% during the raucous bubble years of 2000- 2007. If true, this seems like an issue. Can anyone confirm or rebut this statistic?”

Well, did we move the bottom quintile somehow? That and poverty are not static numbers. I would hardly define our poverty = Median/2 as a “trickle of consumer goods” compared to other countries with lower medians and less diversity. Also, did the middle class crowd out the bottom with their home ATM machines? It’s also a little annoying to not only not smooth for the business cycle but to intentionally cherry-pick a known outlier.

David Wright February 1, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I agree that the Edsall piece contains some useful and relevent facts, it was clear he was not an “honest broker” in the very first paragraph. Some idea of the hidden prosperity of the poor does not “underpin the conservative take on … inequality”. It’s possible to be against the left’s preferred inequality policies because you believe inequality is irrelevent, or is best addressed by non-governmental institutions, or is best-addressed by governmental programs aimed at behaviors that impoverish rather than straight-up transfers. And in any case the language of “hidden properity of the poor” is a wild exageration of actual facts pointed out by those on the right, namely that living standards for the poor are in fact increasing (albeit at a slower rate than for the non-poor) and that some of the statistics that the left likes to cite to dramatize the plight of the poor (such as measuring income before transfers or ignoring in-kind benefits) overstate that plight. Edsall attacks a straw man.

BillN February 2, 2013 at 10:57 am

If the facts are “the arguments” used by the sides, I agree. If by facts we mean “economic valid measures”, there is little in the article vaguely useful. Beaudreaux starts out OK looking at % of income, but the core point, though plausible, remains hand waving. These are at best indirect measures of poverty

The EPI, on the other hand mixes apples and oranges. Their “poverty” is really a corrupted measure of income distribution shape rather than poverty. It suffers from two biases, 1) failure to account for differing national income levels, 2) and size of family. That is, it is based on The US is the wealthiest of those nations with the highest average income and likely has the largest family size. The % children in poverty, therefore, reflect the combination of the two biases in the data presentation. The result is not a refutation, nor even a rebuttal, but a sophisticated denial. Surely the left can do better.

Peter Schaeffer February 1, 2013 at 4:47 pm

RL,

The David Brooks piece on immigration was a low. Basically, PC drivel rather than facts. Brooks asserts that even low-skill immigration isn’t a tax burden. Wow is that far off. Everyone knows that poor people are expensive. Why would imported poor people be somehow better? From Borjas

“There’s also been a lot of fake fog thrown into the the question of whether immigrants pay their way in the welfare state. It’s time for some sanity in this matter as well. The welfare state is specifically designed to transfer resources from higher-income to lower-income persons. Immigrants fall disproportionately into the bottom part of the income distribution. It is downright ridiculous to claim that low-skill immigrants somehow end up being net contributors into the public treasury.”

Of course, I could quote all sorts of detailed studies on the subject (from many countries) all of which say the same thing. However, what’s the point? Could Brooks actually write the truth and keep his column?

The other laughable point was about “complementary” immigration. Apparently, Brooks never got the memo about unemployment turning “complementary” immigration into a pure deadweight loss for Americans. I guess he doesn’t know that we have 24 million unemployed and underemployed workers. Of course, the Peri results supporting “complementary” immigration were later repudiated by Grogger, Hanson, and Borjas. That’s probably too technical an argument for Brooks.

Missing the contradictions between mass immigration and mass unemployed makes him a joke.

Unsympathetic February 1, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Tyler,

Seriously, why are you linking to David Brooks? His next useful thought will be his first.

Skip Intro February 2, 2013 at 11:27 am

Tyler appears in the NYT now and must carry water for the club’s elders.

Steve Sailer February 1, 2013 at 6:01 pm

It’s not just mass immigration’s effect on wages, it’s mass immigration’s effect on living costs, notably housing and schooling. To measure the effect of standard of living, you need, of course, to measure both income and expense.

aaron February 1, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Law of un-intended consequenses strikes: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2196481

We examine emergency room admissions related to these bacteria in the wake of the San Francisco ban. We find that ER visits spiked when the ban went into effect. Relative to other counties, ER admissions increase by at least one fourth, and deaths exhibit a similar increase.

Via instapundit.

aaron February 1, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Paper is about SF ban on plastic, disposable grocery bags.

Michael B Sullivan February 1, 2013 at 1:36 pm

A lot of people seem very certain that what we might call strong driverless cars (ie, cars that genuinely can (and are legally allowed to) drive at least as well as a median human driver) will lead to everyone renting their cars rather than owning them. I’m less certain.

What’s the big argument that people will convert to wanting to take taxis/rental cars everywhere in this circumstance? I presume the reasons are:

1. We expect a sharp decrease in price, as the human labor is removed from the pricing of the taxi.
2. We expect it to be somewhat easier to get a taxi, as presumably you hail them with your smart phone and they come quickly and without prejudice.

But there are other disadvantages of the taxi that driverless taxis will not change:

1. Cars are convenient mobile storage depots, especially for people who haul around a lot of stuff (e.g., people with kids). Taxis won’t be.
2. The cleanliness of a personal car is under your control, a taxi’s cleanliness is not.
3. While the issue of there not being a taxi when and where you need one may be mitigated, it won’t be banished by strong driverless cars. Maintaining a fleet of cars that can handle peak loads will be expensive and will result in a large number of unused cars 95% of the time. This will cut against the cost savings of taxis.

And strong driverless cars will create some new advantages to personal car ownership (or remove disadvantages):

1. You won’t need to worry about parking. Just like a taxi, your personal car can drop you off and then go and put itself somewhere.
2. You won’t need to, you know, drive. You can read a book on the way to work, just like in transit or taxis. And you can go to a bar and drink.
3. Your mobile storage depot can probably incrementally hold more storage without all the driver stuff in it. And you can potentially use it for personal fedexery — send your car home for your spouse to put the forgotten item in, and then ferry it back to you.

I’m really not sure which way this cuts in balance. But I wouldn’t put a ton of money on the notion that the number of cars will go drastically down in a strong driverless car world.

Michael B Sullivan February 1, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Ugh, I apologize for the formatting. Those numbered lists were lists in the editor, not giant paragraphs.

Finch February 2, 2013 at 8:52 am

It’s still a very good comment. The editor is terrible.

This issue was discussed to death hear a few months ago with many of your points being raised.

Rahul February 1, 2013 at 1:53 pm

You’d just have fleets of driver-less buses for some peak loads then?

Michael B Sullivan February 1, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Driverless busses seem like they’re much more like regular busses than driverless taxis are like regular taxis. Presumably the marginal cost of the driver is less and less of a big deal. And busses are already cheap. They none the less are not popular with huge segments of the population. Driverless busses would still be slow, and they’d still put you into potentially unwanted contact with other riders.

I’m pretty convinced that driverless busses aren’t the answer.

Dan Weber February 1, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Buses aren’t sexy. Transportation dorks with their head in the clouds keep on wanting rail, but buses are easier to incrementally adopt and adapt to changing circumstances.

We could get pretty a pretty good bus experience right now with today’s technology: ~8 person buses that spin around a neighborhood and then around a work center (or vice versa), scheduled by computers who can do all the matching on the fly. Give me a nice comfy seat with a power outlet and a Wifi connection and I could start my workday on my commute in.

But buses aren’t sexy.

Urso February 1, 2013 at 2:48 pm

This is a good point and often overlooked. Busses and light trains are basically the exact same thing, except one runs on a track. Yet trains are almost universally considered better, or at least cooler.

I have a friend who takes the train in. They were recently doing work on the tracks for a couple of months, and he temporarily had to ride a bus instead. He said the bus was significantly quicker and more efficient. Still, no one wants to ride it.

Michael B Sullivan February 1, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Hmmm, but if this is relatively easy to do and highly advantageous, why aren’t private companies doing it? I live in the bay area, where numerous employers run private bus services to work, and none of them work on a van model. They’re all giant tour-bus sized things.

Those are relatively popular, but they have a bunch of unique advantages that no generalized transit system (public or private) would share: they have run a two stop circuit, from transit center to a particular employer and nothing else. They mitigate the “contact with the population” problem that normal busses have (you’re only having contact with your coworkers). And they’re at least perceived to be free by their riders.

GiT February 1, 2013 at 3:06 pm
Dan Weber February 1, 2013 at 3:07 pm

The fact that they won’t pick up at every place in-between is a great reason for targeted buses. But it’s hard to work against the emotional appeal of a lot of people (like Urso’s friend) that the bus is a low-status form of transportation, despite it rational advantages: see https://www.google.com/search?q=bus+good+train+bad

dan1111 February 2, 2013 at 5:45 am

If rail service is well-run, trains are on time to the exact minute. Buses are much less reliable, because they are subject to traffic. My dislike of buses comes not so much from riding them as from waiting for them.

Trains are faster for most kinds of journeys, again because they don’t sit in traffic, and because they take very direct routes. Buses are fine for short trips, but try taking a 10-mile trip across a city in a bus. Of course there are exceptions, but all else being equal, this is usually true.

Trains have a much larger carrying capacity. A typical commuter line might have a capacity of a ten car train running every 5 minutes. Replacing that with buses would require perhaps 180 buses an hour. And if the bus journey takes longer, the number of buses is even higher.

The experience of riding a train is much more pleasant. There is more room, and the smoothness of the ride makes a huge difference. I commute on a train daily, and in the morning I can get out my thermos, pour a cup of coffee, and read a book. Or I can sit at a table and work on my laptop. My time is much more useful on the train that it would be on a bus.

And, oh yes, trains are “cooler”. I agree with that, but there are plenty of rational reasons to prefer trains, as well.

maguro February 2, 2013 at 9:39 am

Trains certainly have their advantages, the real question is whether those advantages worth the fantastic cost of the fixed infrastructure required to run them.

Major February 2, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Rail has certain advantages over buses, but at $50+ million per mile, it’s far too expensive to use in place of buses for the vast majority of public transit services. That’s why Los Angeles has around 200 bus routes but only a handful of rail lines. Spending billions of dollars on new urban rail services is a huge waste of money. When self-driving cars become mainstream, demand for almost all transit services will collapse. Cities will tear up all those expensive light rail lines they’ve been foolishly building over the past 40 years, just as they tore up the old streetcar lines that used to run through our cities in the early 20th century.

Peter Schaeffer February 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Major,

“Rail has certain advantages over buses, but at $50+ million per mile, it’s far too expensive to use in place of buses for the vast majority of public transit services.”

$1 billion a mile is closer for the U.S. However, U.S. costs are well above global levels or even Europe/developed Asian levels. Some studies show U.S. costs as 4X comparable countries.

Why isn’t clear. Predictably labor gets blamed even though I can find no evidence to support such allegations.

Bender Bending Rodriguez February 3, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Replying to Peter, hoping it appears in the correct place:

Rather than labor, I’d point to the time and expense of environmental impact studies and the costs involved in buying the right of way. For the latter, it’s not enough just to take the property via eminent domain: There are a number of stakeholders with property not actually being taken that can cheaply agitate to have the route moved elsewhere. To get their buy-in, you have to assuage them with improvements that are outside the normal scope of the project.

Major February 1, 2013 at 3:25 pm

You’d just have fleets of driver-less buses for some peak loads then?

Self-driving cars will greatly increase road capacity, and allow people currently dependent on urban mass transit (buses and trains) to use self-driving taxis instead. In a world of self-driving cars, I doubt there will be any significant demand for mass transit even at peak times on travel routes where roads are currently congested, except perhaps in a few markets where the increase in road capacity is not sufficient to meet demand without congestion. Off-peak demand for mass transit, and peak demand on routes that are not congested, will collapse. This means that whatever mass transit is left, if any, will be even more expensive, since the fixed costs (vehicles and infrastructure) will be spread across many fewer passenger-miles of service.

john personna February 1, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Personal cars will disappear after driving jobs. I agree with joshamania at reddit, and have shared similar views here in the past. More broadly, if robots are better and/or cheaper than humans, the robots must pay for a human welfare system. We’ll be safe until real AI, in 50 or 100 years, makes us the underclass.

ed February 1, 2013 at 2:33 pm

This comment is better than most blog posts.

john personna February 1, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Pretty good, though it did miss cars as personal branding statements. Of course, I speak from California, a couple miles from the McLaren dealership. We might have it worse than others.

Michael B Sullivan February 1, 2013 at 3:00 pm

You’re right that I didn’t talk about cars as branding statements, and that such things do have an effect on the topic at hand. But there are a few reasons why I don’t think that they’re as big a deal as the other factors.

In a strong self-driving car world, especially one in which there might be legal limitations on manual driving, a big class of cars that are desirable based on their image (ie, sports and high-performance cars) seem to me to be less interesting. I think that a lot of the image that comes with owning a sporty car, from a Ferrari on down to, I don’t know, a Mazda Miata, is the sense that the driver is elite in some way: capable of using the power and agility of a sporty car. Regardless of how true that is. If your car is driving itself, you aren’t elite, you’re just a passenger.

I also think that these kind of status/tribe markers have lots of easy substitutions. If you don’t show that you’re wealthy by owning a BMW, you can show you’re wealthy by wearing an Armani suit or whatever.

And finally, if the top 10-20% keep personal cars that are status symbols, but the bottom 80-90% don’t, (or any other lopsided polarization), it doesn’t really get at the fundamental point under discussion, which is whether or not strong self-driving cars cause a massive reduction in the number of cars built/bought, not the precise parameters of the size of the reduction.

john personna February 1, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Ah, but your identification of an 80:20 or 90:10 splits argues that many should seek to position themselves in the perceived elite. Reminds me of a funny conversation I had in my youth. I was shocked to hear the assumption that *most* Ferrari drivers were posers, rather than a minority. Of course Ferraris were cheaper then. Substitute BMWs now, I guess.

Overall I think that really cheap phone-for-an-autocar would erode private ownership, but the social aspect (with definite regional differences) would be one of the things slowing the transition.

Major February 1, 2013 at 2:45 pm

I agree with Michael Sullivan that self-driving cars are not likely to induce a large shift from ownership to renting (taxis), for the following reasons:

Owning and operating a car will likely be cheaper than it is today and real incomes will likely be higher, so private ownership will be affordable to even more people than it is now.

Personal ownership has important practical benefits over taxis — most importantly, guaranteed immediate availability on demand.

People greatly prefer having their own possessions to sharing things with strangers.

People buy cars for emotional and aesthetic reasons (styling, color, accessories, power, etc.) not just for practical transportation purposes.

A big advantage of taxis today is that you don’t have to worry about parking them at your destination. Since self-driving cars will greatly reduce the cost and difficulty of parking, this advantage will be reduced or eliminated.

JWatts February 1, 2013 at 3:45 pm

“I agree with Michael Sullivan that self-driving cars are not likely to induce a large shift from ownership to renting (taxis)”

I think that depends on how you define what a large shift is.

I would rationally expect a lot of families that are 2+ car families to drop down to 1+ car families. In many cases, the reasons you list apply strongly to a car, but most American families have at least 2 cars. And often one of the cars (or pickup trucks) sits in the garage most of the time unused.

The average American family owns 1.9 cars. I could easily see that number dropping to 1.4 cars per family. That’s a drop of 50 million cars.

That seems both likely and significant.

Major February 1, 2013 at 4:15 pm

I think every one of the reasons I list applies strongly to multi-car families as well as single-car families. The first reason (greater affordability of cars), for example, is an incentive for 1-car families to buy an additional car, and a disincentive for 2-car families to drop down to 1 car. If cars become cheap enough, every household member may have his own car. In mass production, and with plausible reductions in the cost of batteries and electronics, a simple single-passenger electric self-driving urban car suitable for local trips for a child (to take him to school and back, to visit friends, activities, etc.) may cost only a few thousand dollars.

JWatts February 1, 2013 at 4:33 pm

“In mass production, and with plausible reductions in the cost of batteries and electronics, a simple single-passenger electric self-driving urban car suitable for local trips for a child (to take him to school and back, to visit friends, activities, etc.) may cost only a few thousand dollars.”

This comment has nothing to do with driver-less cars.

My comments were in reference to the effects of driver-less vehicles, not hypothetical and IMO highly implausible future low cost cars.

Major February 1, 2013 at 5:00 pm

This comment has nothing to do with driver-less cars.

Of course it does. The car has to be self-driving to be useful as a single-passenger urban vehicle for children.

I have no idea why you think this kind of low-cost vehicle is “highly implausible.” Since it would be very small, the materials cost would be very low. It would need only a small electric motor and small battery. The cost of batteries and electronics are predicted to fall dramatically too. And its running costs would be very low. Even today’s electric SmartCar, which is large enough for two adult passengers plus a significant amount of cargo, costs only 4 cents per vehicle-mile in electricity. The kind of urban runabout I’m describing would be even smaller, lighter and cheaper to run than today’s SmartCar.

JWatts February 1, 2013 at 6:44 pm

[i]Of course it does. The car has to be self-driving to be useful as a single-passenger urban vehicle for children.[/i]

The crux of your argument is about really cheap cars. Your conflating the two discussion points. IMO, driver-less cars will reduce personal ownership of cars.

It’s possible that we’ll see much cheaper cars in the future and if so, that would certainly be a factor in increasing personal ownership of cars.

If you combine the two topics together: cheap, driver-less cars then maybe you’ll have more and maybe you’ll have less. However, the topic was about driver-less cars.

Major February 1, 2013 at 7:21 pm

My original point was that self-driving cars are likely to be cheaper than today’s cars, and real incomes are likely to be higher, which is an incentive for higher rates of ownership, not less ownership. The reduction in cost will come partly from self-driving technology itself. Self-driving cars will be much safer than today’s cars, so insurance costs will be lower (Americans currently spend $200 billion a year on auto insurance). Routing will be more efficient, so fuel/energy consumption will be lower. Parking will be cheaper, because self-driving cars will be able to park at higher densities, and will be able to drive to lower-priced parking areas on their own. And so on.

My elaboration of this point about lower costs, in response to your reply to my original comment, was that self-driving cars may become so cheap that every household member can have one, even children. That implies even higher rates of ownership.

dirk February 1, 2013 at 7:32 pm

shit

JWatts February 1, 2013 at 9:52 pm

“My elaboration of this point about lower costs, in response to your reply to my original comment, was that self-driving cars may become so cheap that every household member can have one, even children. That implies even higher rates of ownership.”

Fair enough and a good point.

stephen February 2, 2013 at 5:26 pm

The greater efficiency, and lower effort of commutes may result in greater urban sprawl and the increase demand on cars that brings. New lifestyles and careers that spends vast amounts of time in cars would be opened up to the large part of the public. If the marginal costs of travel (fuel, maintenance, accidents, effort, discomfort) is dropped to near nothing, we can expect to see more of it.

Jeff Morgan February 3, 2013 at 12:43 am

The mobile storage vehicle aspect just means that cars per household will converge to 1 for this use, as opposed to zero. That’s a big enough decline to be a big deal. That one car may or may not be rented on a monthly or yearly basis as well.

Andrew' February 1, 2013 at 2:21 pm

2. David Brooks is largely arguing for the system we have, and assuming the data is accurate.

David Wright February 1, 2013 at 3:44 pm

No, he is arguing for Canada’s system. US: 66% admitted for family unification, 13% for skills. Canada: 22% admitted for family unification, 67% for skills.

JWatts February 1, 2013 at 4:07 pm

“No, he is arguing for Canada’s system.”

That would make sense, but David Brooks is not really making that argument.

From the article:

“Thanks to the labor of low-skill immigrants, the cost of food, homes and child care comes down,”

“It’s also looking more likely that immigrants don’t even lower the wages for vulnerable, low-skill Americans.”

“We should normalize the illegals who are here, create a legal system for low-skill workers and bend the current reform proposals so they look more like the Canadian system, which tailors the immigrant intake to regional labor markets and favors high-skill workers. ”

If he had made the third point the thesis of his article, it would have been a good article.

Also, this part is BS:

“It’s also looking more likely that immigrants don’t even lower the wages for vulnerable, low-skill Americans. In 2007, the last time we had a big immigration debate, economists were divided on this.”

“Since then, as Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute explains, methodological advances suggest that the wages of most low-skill workers are probably not significantly affected.”

The Economic Policy Institute is a left wing group. Their statements hardly mean the consensus has changed.

Peter Schaeffer February 1, 2013 at 5:24 pm

JWatts,

“Since then, as Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute explains, methodological advances suggest that the wages of most low-skill workers are probably not significantly affected.”

Two points. The Peri theory of “complementary” immigration was demolished by the later work of Grogger, Hanson, and Borjas. Let me quote from Mark Thoma (liberal/leftist) over at Economists View – “Borjas, Grogger, and Hanson: Immigrant and Native Complementarity” (http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2008/03/borjas-grogger.html). Quote

“George Borjas, Jeffrey Grogger, and Gordon Hanson have a new paper, and it’s not good news for the Ottaviano and Peri result that immigration can cause native wages to increase due to strong complementarities between native and immigrant labor:”

Read it all over at EV and the original paper.

However, there is a deeper second point. The entire theory of “complementary” immigration is predicated on an assumption of full employment. Without full employment, even “complementary” immigration is a pure deadweight loss.

It turns out that even with full employment, “complementary” immigration has very serious theoretical and practical problems. However, the biggest points don’t require any deep dip into general equilibrium models.

Steve Sailer February 1, 2013 at 6:10 pm

If you don’t believe in Complementarity, just look at all the second generation immigrants that Countrywide Financial hired in 2003-2006 to sell subprime mortgages to first generation immigrants!

Peter Schaeffer February 1, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Steve,

I know you are trying to make a joke. However, your comment has two inferences, one positive, one negative. First, a significant number of second generation immigrants had skills sufficient to sell mortgages. That implies a material degree of literacy in English (and probably Spanish). That’s a good thing for America as a whole. Second, if second generation immigrants have better skills, then they are less complementary.

The folks who use “complementary immigration” to advocate Open Borders never have the decency to admit it, but what “complementary immigration” really amounts to is

“natives profiting from immigrant poverty, inequality, and societal polarization”

Stated in those terms “complementary immigration” sounds ugly, which it really is.

Steve Sailer February 1, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Right, the popularity of Peri’s study of the wonders of California’s social structure in 2007 is testimony to how stupid mainstream discourse on immigration has gotten. Nobody ever asks: Hey, what happened in California _after_ 2007? How’d that work out, anyway? It seems like I read something in the newspapers about California in 2008-2013, but obviously that’s irrelevant compared to the overwhelming credibility of Peri’s 2007 paper.

But I am serious about Countrywide being a prime example of Peri’s complementarity in action. Angelo Mozilo boasted frequently about all the Spanish-speaking mortgage salesmen Countrywide had hired for their trillion dollar minority and low income lending push. How’d that work out anyway? Maybe someday Peri will write a paper about it so we can find out.

Peter Schaeffer February 1, 2013 at 5:27 pm

JWatts,

“Thanks to the labor of low-skill immigrants, the cost of food, homes and child care comes down,”

“It’s also looking more likely that immigrants don’t even lower the wages for vulnerable, low-skill Americans.”

I wonder if Brooks recognizes the contradiction.

Probably not.

JWatts February 1, 2013 at 6:53 pm

“I wonder if Brooks recognizes the contradiction. ”

LOL, not if he was being honest. But I have a hard time believing he’s really that obtuse. His articles read like someone trying to come to a conclusion despite a realization that the facts don’t support the conclusion they are reaching. I won’t even hazard a guess to his motivations.

Peter Schaeffer February 2, 2013 at 12:04 am

JW,

Brooks has an NYT column. Heather MacDonald does not. Heather MacDonald is considerably more qualified, has more to say, and is a better writer. She wouldn’t last a month.

Andrew' February 2, 2013 at 4:16 am

“It’s also looking more likely that immigrants don’t even lower the wages for vulnerable, low-skill Americans.”
Then what is doing it? I mean, I’d like to assume that Brooks’ references are correct and honest. I trust Brooks is sincere, but I don’t trust any papers anymore prima facie. I even believe that at the current margin it is a net benefit. However, our skills and education screen and difficulty getting in is the current margin. I even believe that a flow of good folks will increase world productivity, their productivity, and maybe even US median productivity. However, the fact is that noone knows what mass formalization of illegals on the low-skills end and mass influx on the high skills end will do and if it will extrapolate from the current margin.

Andrew' February 2, 2013 at 4:22 am

Of course, I’ve also learned that this is politics. You can’t just give the other side what it wants for free.

Peter Schaeffer February 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Andrew,

“I’d like to assume that Brooks’ references are correct and honest. I trust Brooks is sincere”

I rather doubt that Brooks is reading academic papers on immigration. He is just picking up what he sees elsewhere. Presumably he has read the fluff based on Peri and Ottaviano, but not the original work. P/O are not writing fluff, even though I don’t agree with them.

However, the people reading P/O don’t typically understand the limitations of P/O’s work and republish the “happy talk” stuff because that’s what they believe anyway. A few notes.

1. The P/O model assumes full employment and no displacement of natives by immigrants. That’s laughably untrue now (and was clearly untrue even before the Great Recession). However, the “happy talk” folks don’t realize that (how many people understand CGE models and Cobb/Douglas production functions?) and don’t get that the P/O “results” are not related to the real world.

2. The P/O results assumed that immigrants were complementary (isolated in the labor market). Later work by Grogger, Hanson, and Borjas showed that this was not true (from P/O’s data no less). Of course, this refutation never made it into the pro-Open Borders press. Notably, Mark Thoma did mention it on his blog (in spite of seriously disliking the result).

3. The P/O results were theoretical. The actual empirical data in the P/O paper showed very large wage declines for unskilled workers. Of course, the positive theoretical result showed up in the “happy talk” press, not the grim facts on the ground.

Basically, the P/O fluff amounts to an exercise in confirmation bias and Brooks is just taking confirmation bias one step further. For the record I am not a PhD economist. However, I do know what a GCE model is (and the assumptions) along with a Cobb-Douglas production function (but not all of the differential equations derived from Cobb-Douglas).

To put this in perspective, the following is from Wikipedia.

“Economic model”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_model

“James Stanford outlines this issue for the specific Computable General Equilibrium (“CGE”) models that were introduced as evidence into the public policy debate, by advocates for NAFTA: [6]

“..CGE models are circular: if trade theory holds that free trade is mutually beneficial, then a quantitative simulation model based on that theoretical structure will automatically show that free trade is mutually beneficial…if the economy actually behaves in the manner supposed by the modeler, and the model itself sheds no light on this question, then a properly calibrated model may provide a rough empirical estimate of the effects of a policy change. But the validity of the model hangs entirely on the prior, nontested specification of its structural relationships … [Hence, the apparent consensus of pro-NAFTA modelers] reflects more a consensus of prior theoretical views than a consensus of quantitative evidence.”

Commenting on Stanford’s analysis, one computer scientist wrote,

“When simulating the impact of a trade agreement on labor, it seems absurd to assume a priori that capital is immobile, that full employment will prevail, that unit labor costs are identical in the U.S. and Mexico, that American consumers will prefer products made in America (even if they are more expensive), and that trade flows between the U.S. and Mexico will exactly balance. Yet a recent examination of ten prominent CGE models showed that nine of them include at least one of those unrealistic assumptions, and two of the CGE models included all the above assumptions.

This situation bears a disturbing resemblance to computer-assisted intellectual dishonesty. Human beings have always been masters of self-deception, and hiding the essential basis of one’s deception by embedding it in a computer program surely helps reduce what might otherwise become an intolerable burden of cognitive dissonance.””

It shouldn’t come as any surprise, but the P/O models were also circular.

Anon. February 1, 2013 at 2:54 pm

#4: How do the people who think there’s a negative relationship between inequality and growth account for Hong Kong and Singapore?

At what point do we tell them to fuck off and start worrying about absolute levels of income instead?

Working class Singaporeans are rich enough to be upper-middle class in Sweden. That is the cost of redistribution, and the arguments for it are so bad they would be hilarious if only there weren’t so many people who think they sound good.

You ARE sacrificing pie size by cutting it up in more equal pieces.

TommyVee February 1, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Hong Kong and SIngapore are both city-states that actually function as parts of larger nations. Hong Kong is just the trading outpost of the PRC, so any look at inequality has look at the extreme levels of poverty in China proper that allow for the extreme levels of wealth in Hong Kong.
And similarly, Singapore is dependent on Malaysia for pretty much everything from drinking water to waste disposal to energy, etc. And most especially labor, many thousands of low-paid Malaysians come across the causeway into Singapore each day. So the system that includes the wealthy Singaporeans that you laud also includes many low income Malaysians.
So in both cases, statistics for wealth and inequality for residents only completely ignore vast parts of the economic system required for functionality, resulting in incorrect conclusions.
Just as in the US and other industrialized nations, extreme inequality in Singapore/Malaysia and HongKong/PRC results in many people too poor to maximize their productivity with adequate education and health care.
There is no way that having 47 million uninsured citizens does not reduce our productivity as a nation (how many untreated cases of dyslexia, bad eyesight, hearing, ADD, etc. reduce children’s educational capabilities relative to every other industrialized nation with universal health coverage?).
Rather than telling people to “fuck off”, maybe you should make more of an effort to understand the whole problem of growing inequality and social stratification. Already the fake “opportunity society” in the US has much less inter-generational income mobility than the social welfare states of Europe. At some point, when social stratification has produced the functional equivalent of feudalism (children of the poor always poor, children of the rich always rich) then the underclass rejects the social contract and turns to crime (of course, nothing to lose much to gain). Which is why income inequality and violent crime correlate so well (http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DEC/Resources/Crime%26Inequality.pdf).

Andrew' February 2, 2013 at 4:35 am

“There is no way that having 47 million uninsured citizens does not reduce our productivity as a nation (how many untreated cases of dyslexia, bad eyesight, hearing, ADD, etc. reduce children’s educational capabilities relative to every other industrialized nation with universal health coverage?).”

Well, here is where you kind of jump the shark, along with the crime thing. There certainly is a way. One way is that early education may not have any effect whatsoever. Another is that these things you list get pretty well addressed. Another is that insurance coverage might create over-diagnosis, e.g. ADD. Another is that you don’t need insurance to deal with getting eyeglasses. I’m sure one can produce some tautology figures from the WHO saying our healthcare is sub-par because half of their grading score is based on universal coverage. But do you have actual evidence?

As for crime, why does the link you gave mis-label their y-axes? Anyway, I’d like to see the correlation just for OECD countries. Eyeballing it, the positive correlation seems to be much weaker or non-existent. I’d also like for someone to finally adjust the US for race and immigrant origin. The greatest correlative power factor appears to be the regions (with OECD having higher Gini and lower crime than Eastern Europe for example). So, it is possible that crime and Gini are correlates with something else.

Finally, the paper mentions: “Third, the GDP growth rate has a significantly negative effect on the
homicide rate. According to our estimates, the impact of a permanent 1
percentage point increase in the GDP growth rate is associated with a 4.3
percent fall in the homicide rate in the short run and a 23 percent decline
in the long run.”

So, any redistribution that hinders GDP is going to be counter-productive to some extent. So, let’s get back to bonified public goods provision and honest-to-goodness general welfare projects.

Steve J February 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm

“You ARE sacrificing pie size by cutting it up in more equal pieces”

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any data confirming this but I think you are correct. It seems like a pretty simple question – are you trying to maximize average income or median income? By maximizing average income you only have to worry about the size of the pie and not at all about how it is cut up. If you try to maximize median income then you also want your pie to grow but you have the added constraint of worrying about the pieces. My personal preference is trying to maximize the median but I believe trying to maximize the average is a reasonable viewpoint as well. I just wish people would at least understand which of those viewpoints they advocate and the associated advantages/disadvantages of each.

Spencer February 1, 2013 at 4:05 pm

As a 71 year old I worry that in another decade or so I will lose my ability to drive and this will force me to give up my private home and move into some group home.

A driver-less car will be a great development for the baby-boomers who will be having to turn in their drivers licenses in another 20 years. This is a large and relative well off population segment that will generate strong demand for driver-less cars.

For 50 years a key forecasting rule has been to never bet against what the baby-boomers want.

Peter Schaeffer February 1, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Spencer,

Good point on the demand for driver-less cars. Not so sure that they will ever be feasible / practical.

JWatts February 1, 2013 at 6:57 pm

“Not so sure that they will ever be feasible / practical.”

I’d consider driver-less cars a near shoe-in at this point.

Technically they are feasible, we have demonstration vehicles on the roads with hundreds of thousands of miles and there are no major cost issues. The only critical barriers at this point are probably legal issues.

Hazel Meade February 1, 2013 at 4:27 pm

My impression after seeing the Hirshorn Exchibit of Ai Weiwei’s work was that Westerners love this guy because he’s so Chinese. His work is all about millions of small identical objects, which reminds them of Chinese people. Which makes them feel like they’re smart and insightful, instead of vaguely racist.

David Jinkins February 1, 2013 at 5:03 pm

My post on that reddit thread yesterday got downvoted and ignored, but I still think it was witty:

http://www.reddit.com/r/Automate/comments/17k5sh/automated_cars_could_kill_off_jobs_driving_by/c878l0v

It only makes sense if you read the original post first.

JWatts February 1, 2013 at 6:59 pm

+10, For better than average satire.

Paul February 1, 2013 at 5:07 pm

4. Edsall mentions in passing that Paul Krugman was scathing in his view of Hassett’s “qualifications.” I’m surprised that Edsall actually thinks this is a point for his (Edsall’s) side.

Bender Bending Rodriguez February 3, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Edsall and Krugman should (re)acquaint themselves with the logical fallacy that rhymes with “ad hominem”.

TR W February 1, 2013 at 6:31 pm

David Brooks’ “solution” is to replace Americans. It’s not like Americans haven’t figured out that’s what business and political elites want from real-life experience whether it’s from flushing out Americans from jobs by replacing them with foreigners or the hostile actions by immigrants which force Americans to leave their homes for new places to live. If these immigrants are on par or better than Americans than why are their countries so far behind America and not attractive to keep them there?

Claudia February 1, 2013 at 8:33 pm

2. I just wish Brooks had gone with a different title and tone. I do agree with him that the balance of economic research suggests that immigration is a net positive for economic outcomes, cut many different ways. And I am not swayed by one paper, each has flaws, or one group of authors, they all have quirks…but it’s the whole bunch weighed together that makes a case. And yet, I am not sure how much it matters that the economics of immigration are ‘settled.’ The economics of Social Security reform have been settled for a long time and nothing changes. Also it concerns me that the general public disagrees with economists on immigration. I suspect that’s telling us that the sociology, politics, and maybe even psychology of immigration are less settled. We shall see.

Also wanted to put a shout out for a twitter discussion on the topic that Miles Kimball and some other bloggers are organizing on Monday. Open to all: https://mobile.twitter.com/mileskimball/status/297497196985724928

Brian Donohue February 1, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Does the general public agree with economists on free trade?

Seems to me, the issue is similar to immigration. It’s a visceral, up-close perspective compared to a big picture perspective. (I shudder to think of the reaction such a statement might bring down on my head.)

Social Security is different, I think. I’m unaccountably optimistic this will get sorted.

Peter Schaeffer February 2, 2013 at 1:46 am

BD,

Overall, economic research shows trifling gains from immigration that are almost certainly more than offset by tax losses. See the National Academy of Sciences study from the 90s on this subject.

However, all of the studies showing small gains assume full employment. Without full employment, immigration is essentially a pure negative.

Of course, the topic at hand is Amnesty for illegals. Low-skill immigrants are always a losing proposition in a welfare state.

BC February 3, 2013 at 1:11 am

“Seems to me, [free trade] is similar to immigration.”

That is a key insight. Immigration, the free trade of labor services, offers the same benefits as the free trade of goods. Politically, both free trade and immigration issues are portrayed as conflicts between domestic and foreign interests: domestic aerospace industry vs. foreign aerospace industry, domestic workers vs. foreign workers, etc. In fact, the conflicts are purely domestic: domestic aerospace industry vs. general consumer population, workers in particular occupations or industries vs. everyone else, etc.

Ratifying free trade agreements was never easy. In the case of immigration, particularly non-European immigration, the anti-free trade, pro-union Left is joined by the xenophobic Right, just enough to tip the balance in favor of protectionism.

Immigration restrictions implicitly substitute the judgement of INS bureaucrats for business owners and heads of households by limiting the pool from which employers can hire employees and from which families can hire domestic workers. Immigration opponents have not explained satisfactorily, and for the most part haven’t even attempted to explain, why they believe that INS bureaucrats are better than small business owners at deciding who those business owners should hire when those business owners, rather than the bureaucrats, depend on making sound hiring decisions for their own livelihood. Similarly, immigration opponents have also failed to explain why the government is better than mothers and fathers in deciding who to hire as domestic workers to bring into their own home, near their own children. Again, a purely domestic conflict: INS bureaucrats vs. domestic business owners and families.

Peter Schaeffer February 3, 2013 at 2:27 am

BC,

“Immigration, the free trade of labor services, offers the same benefits as the free trade of goods.”

Not exactly. The gains from immigration have been studied to death. They are trivial at best. I can provide references from all over the world on this point.

However, once you include tax costs, immigration becomes a very different issue. Low skill immigrants are a large burden on any welfare state, certainly including the United States. Once again, the literature on this point is voluminous.

“Immigration opponents have not explained satisfactorily, and for the most part haven’t even attempted to explain, why they believe that INS bureaucrats are better than small business owners at deciding who those business owners should hire when those business owners, rather than the bureaucrats, depend on making sound hiring decisions for their own livelihood.”

Low-skill immigrants impose vast costs on society. WIC, food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, Medicare, jails, prisons, failing schools, ESL, unemployment, poverty, language issues, racial quotas, Section 8 housing, etc., etc.

When you hire an illegal, you are stealing from your fellow citizens. You don’t have the right to steal from anyone. You may wish to steal, you may be able to justify theft in your own mind. The answer is still no.

By the way, the INS went out of business in 2003. You might try to actually learn something about an issue before you post.

JWatts February 1, 2013 at 9:56 pm

” I do agree with him that the balance of economic research suggests that immigration is a net positive for economic outcomes”

But how much of the research indicates that low skilled immigrants including their families that have full access to all entitlements are a net positive?

Peter Schaeffer February 2, 2013 at 1:29 am

JW,

“But how much of the research indicates that low skilled immigrants including their families that have full access to all entitlements are a net positive?”

This has been studied many times around the world. Of course, imported poor people are drain. From Borjas

“There’s also been a lot of fake fog thrown into the the question of whether immigrants pay their way in the welfare state. It’s time for some sanity in this matter as well. The welfare state is specifically designed to transfer resources from higher-income to lower-income persons. Immigrants fall disproportionately into the bottom part of the income distribution. It is downright ridiculous to claim that low-skill immigrants somehow end up being net contributors into the public treasury.”

Profitable for corporate exploiters though, particularly the agricultural sector.

A few more references.

http://www.econbrowser.com/archives/2010/10/guest_contribut_9.html
“The ageing, crisis-prone, welfare state is bad news for welfare migration”

“Edmonston and Smith (1997) look comprehensibly at all layers of government (federal, state, and local), all programs (benefits), and all types of taxes. For each cohort, defined by age of arrival to the U.S., the benefits (cash or in kind) received by migrants over their own lifetimes and the lifetimes of their first-generation descendents were projected. These benefits include Medicare, Medicaid, Supplementary Security Income (SSI), Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), food stamps, Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI), etc. Similarly, taxes paid directly by migrants and the incidence on migrants of other taxes (such as corporate taxes) were also projected for the lifetimes of the migrants and their first-generation descendents. Accordingly, the net fiscal burden was projected and discounted to the present. In this way, the net fiscal burden for each age cohort of migrants was calculated in present value terms. Within each age cohort, these calculations were disaggregated according to three educational levels: Less than high school education, high school education, and more than high school education. Indeed the findings suggest that migrants with less than high school education are typically a net fiscal burden that can reach as high as approximately US$100,000 in present value, when the migrants’ age on arrival is between 20-30 years.”

From “Immigration and the Dutch Economy”
http://www.cpb.nl/node/10221

“For all entry ages, however, immigrants turn out to be a burden to the public budget if their social and economic characteristics correspond to those of the present average non-Western resident. Accordingly, budget balances are affected negatively.”

From “Immigration to the Welfare State. Is it a Burden or a Contribution? The Case of Sweden”
http://www.amid.dk/pub/papers/AMID_48-2006_Jan_Ekberg.pdf

“Nowadays, there is a negative income effect for natives, i.e. immigrants contribute less to the tax system compared to what they receive from the public sector. At present, the yearly negative income effect is nearly 2 percent of the gross national product (see Ekberg 1999), i.e. approximately SEK 30-40 billions.”

The same study showed negative fiscal impacts in several other countries as well.

BC February 3, 2013 at 1:35 am

“Profitable for corporate exploiters though, particularly the agricultural sector.”

Agricultural “corporate exploiters” is just a dysphemism for “Americans that eat food”.

Peter Schaeffer February 3, 2013 at 2:32 am

BC,

You are presuming two things, neither of which are true. First, that the labor savings from illegals in agriculture are passed on to consumers. In real life, they are largely capitalized in higher land prices with only very small benefits to consumers. Second, that the consumer savings aren’t more than offset by the welfare costs. In real life the welfare costs dwarf the tiny consumer savings.

Simple historical anecdote. In the 1960s, Braceros were used to grown tomatoes in California. Eventually the Bracero program was abolished (with justification). The growers claimed that no tomatoes would ever be grown in California again.

Instead, machines were used to replace the Braceros. Costs plunged and production soared to levels that were never possible with foreign labor. See Philip Martin’s extensive work on the subject.

It helps to learn something before you post.

Anon. February 2, 2013 at 6:14 am

It’s not just them though. Their kids eventually grow up and climb the socioeconomic ladder. Even if it does cost money now, does it cost money over the next 100 years? I highly doubt it.

maguro February 2, 2013 at 9:44 am

Mexican-Americans haven’t been doing much socioeconomic ladder climbing, not even the ones whose families have been in the US for a long time.

Peter Schaeffer February 2, 2013 at 9:45 am

A,

“It’s not just them though. Their kids eventually grow up and climb the socioeconomic ladder. Even if it does cost money now, does it cost money over the next 100 years? I highly doubt it.”

Two problems with your point. First, they don’t. In both Europe and the United States subsequent generations fail to reach median income status. Indeed, in some cases they decline badly over time. From “Second generation Immigrants in Europe are de-assimilating”
http://super-economy.blogspot.com/2010/10/second-generation-immigrants-in-europe.html

“An important policy question about immigration is to what extent the children of immigrants assimilate. Not only does this tell us a lot about the forces at play, but because of the numbers second generation immigrant outcomes help determine our future.

I just read an important new paper about immigration and assimilation in Europe, that (if the information in it is correct) contains surprising results. The paper includes data on employment rate of first and second generation non-European immigrants in the 3 major European countries of France, Germany and U.K (the 4th largest European country – Italy – has few non-European immigrants).

Looking carefully at the data in some of the tables, we can see that non-European immigrants in Europe are de-assimilating, with the second generation doing worse than the parents.”

“Another, more troubling possibility is that the second generation are assimilating into a completely new culture. This is not the standard, successful western-European culture, but a new kind of mixed ghetto culture that emphasizes grievances, hostility to the host society, weak norms and a lack of a work ethic.”

and

“Berlin Gets Bad News From PISA”
http://akarlin.com/2012/05/22/berlin-gets-bad-news-from-pisa/

“Also note from the graph that there is typically a very high degree of overlap between 1st and 2nd generation immigrant children. The 2nd generation children DO typically perform better, presumably because 1st generation immigrants may frequently have language difficulties and problems with adjusting to a new culture. But the degree of convergence of 2nd generation children to the native mean is modest, despite their transferal to typically far more advanced educational environments. Convergence is almost inconsequential in most European countries like Germany, France, Benelux, Norway, and actually negative in the US (i.e. American 2nd generation immigrant children do worse than the 1st generation).”

and

“The Congealing Pot – Today’s immigrants are different from waves past ”
http://www.nationalreview.com/nrd/article/?q=YjQ4N2EyMTQ4NzZjZmNlOWQwN2RiNTZjMWZiZDY4YzQ=

“They’re not just like the Irish — or the Italians or the Poles, for that matter. The large influx of Hispanic immigrants after 1965 represents a unique assimilation challenge for the United States. Many optimistic observers have assumed — incorrectly, it turns out — that Hispanic immigrants will follow the same economic trajectory European immigrants did in the early part of the last century. Many of those Europeans came to America with no money and few skills, but their status steadily improved. Their children outperformed them, and their children’s children were often indistinguishable from the “founding stock.” The speed of economic assimilation varied somewhat by ethnic group, but three generations were typically enough to turn “ethnics” into plain old Americans.

This would be the preferred outcome for the tens of millions of Hispanic Americans, who are significantly poorer and less educated on average than native whites. When immigration skeptics question the wisdom of importing so many unskilled people into our nation at one time, the most common response cites the remarkable progress of Europeans a century ago. “People used to say the Irish or the Poles would always be poor, but look at them today!” For Hispanics, we are led to believe, the same thing will happen.

But that claim isn’t true. Though about three-quarters of Hispanics living in the U.S. today are either immigrants or the children of immigrants, a significant number have roots here going back many generations. We have several ways to measure their intergenerational progress, and the results leave little room for optimism about their prospects for assimilation.”

The second point is strictly economic. Even if future generations reached average / median income status (and they don’t), you would still have the losses from their parents / grandparents / etc. Indeed, in the United States the situation is worse because the average taxpayer isn’t covering his bills (the Federal deficit is vast). That’s irrelevant because sooner or later taxes will have to be raised to cover spending.

The correct perspective is too assume that the average taxpayer is in balance and presume that after n generations the descendants of immigrants reach “average” income status. At that point they would not be a burden. However, you still have the early losses that can never be offset because “average” taxpayers are only in balance, not net taxpayers.

happyjuggler0 February 1, 2013 at 9:57 pm

#4) I can’t tell if I am being trolled or if Edsall is truly clueless enough to think that a chart of “relative poverty” is damning to the argument of “absolute poverty is what matters”.

Gary S February 1, 2013 at 9:59 pm

I wonder if David Brooks is in any way aware of the systematic problems created by temporary work visas (like de facto indentured servitude). More generally speaking, it seems like ‘libertarian’ these days just means pro-big business (Luigi Zingales’s ‘Capitalism After the Crisis’ comes to mind).

The whole ‘one fourth of tech startups are founded by foreigners’ and its variants could be phrased another way – 3 in 4 tech startup founders are American. These biased and unfair visa programs send a strong signal to Americans – avoid this profession (STEM) at all costs!

Peter Schaeffer February 2, 2013 at 1:53 am

GS,

The “study” classified a firm as “founded by immigrants” if anyone of the founders was an immigrant, not just the “main” founder. Overall, immigrants were underrepresented as founders compared to the local labor force.

Not exactly how the study has been reported though.

Merijn Knibbe February 2, 2013 at 2:40 am

This article defines and estimates poverty as a function of money as well as time avialable for household production. It is, in a sense, about a woman in the thirties of the twentieth century with ten children and a husband who was in and out of jobs. How did she do it? Well, according to my father, the laundry was already drying, when he came out of bed for breakfast (from the chamber where he slept with his five brothers). And no, no washing machines in those days. Read the whole thing: http://peemconference2013.worldeconomicsassociation.org/?paper=why-time-deficits-matter-implications-for-the-measurement-of-poverty-2

dirk February 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm

With ultra-cheap self-driving rental cars plus drone technology shouldn’t we finally get our flying cars?

Major February 2, 2013 at 1:20 pm

With ultra-cheap self-driving rental cars plus drone technology shouldn’t we finally get our flying cars?

No. Flying cars face a number of basic engineering problems that would prevent large-scale deployment, like extreme noise.

Gerard Mason February 2, 2013 at 10:43 pm

My worry about self-driving cars is, what is going to happen once the terrorists start to think about them? Either by hacking the dispatch system, hacking the local cab, or a man in the middle attack persuading the car that my mobile phone is its controller.

Cars will quietly roll up outside churches, schools, nightclubs … and explode. Or drive right into crowds of people. Or crash into buildings because someone has deleted them from the map.

The problem of getting the security right will be immense.

Jeff Morgan February 3, 2013 at 1:08 am

I usually hear the same points over and over, but this car bomb issue is novel to me. Very good point. However, I’m willing to live with it.

It seems we will depend on current enforcement efforts with respect to bomb making. I’m okay with that.

To stop bomb delivery by self-driving cars, you could require non-exclusive use (taxi) cars to get a face on camera before doors open. I’d imagine some kind of explosive chemical detection in every self-driving taxi car would be impractical.

One quibble: driving into crowds of people or buildings would require hacking the sense programming, as self-driving cars don’t rely on maps (or user input) to avoid collisions.

Careless February 7, 2013 at 9:33 am

It’s already really easy to park next to most of these places and just walk away. We seem to have a shortage of terrorists able or willing to construct the bombs and put them in place here.

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