Immigration, Economics and Politics

As in any election year politicians pander to their support bases and there has been a lot of chatter about immigrants being a great source of problems.

For example, Romney got up on high horse the other day about self deportation and I think this article in Fox Latino did a pretty good job of unhorsing his argument so to speak.

This being said I hold that we cannot allow immigrants to enter the US without limits due to the social costs and because there is a small, but growing segment of that demographic that goes right onto welfare without working.

It’s important to remember that before the 1930s neither Americans nor immigrants had any benefits and therefore mass waves of immigration did not cost the US much money rather helped build the country via low cost labor.

I’m not suggesting that we go backwards in time rather that social benefits exist now and cost money so whatever the approach one has to be able to pay for such benefits.

In this regard it is not the moral or financial responsibility of the US to take care of people just because their home countries will not.  So rather than indicate that the US is racist and insensitive for not wishing to support women that use children to gain citizenship that do not work and have no intention of working – ask the question why the governments in their home countries won’t take care of them.


Take Mexico for example, they badly treat Central American immigrants to their country and their own poor, yet see fit to lambaste us.

In many regards Mexico has exported their social problems and the immoral treatment of their own poor to the US who then often wire money back to Mexico serving to stimulate their economy.

Now on the issue of using children to establish residency one must make a strong distinction between those immigrants that come here to work and then have kids as a natural progression of life versus those that use kids to get into the country and then never work, but use the social benefits.

The former, in my estimation are quite welcome as they embody the American dream and add value; however, the latter should be denied entry as if the practice is to continue then one is encouraging some immigrants globally to game our system.

It’s unclear why the poor are so badly treated in their home countries.  As for Latin America perhaps it’s cultural and a result of how Spain and Portugal colonized the region.

One time in Lima, I was asked why the US  and Canada had done so much better economically than Latin America to which I responded that I didn’t know nor had I ever thought about it.

I was told it was because England always wanted to do commerce back and forth while Spain just took resulting in robust back and forth commerce never taking off.

Perhaps there’s a cultural reason why as well due to a much more heavily embedded class system in LatAm.

Take the richest man in the world, Carlos Slim, versus the second wealthiest man – Bill Gates.

Slim apparently does not give much to charity and said he can best help people by employing them.

Gates on the other hand has not only employed and enriched a great many, but he has also given billions to charity.

So perhaps because there is less of a class system in the US people tend not to look down on those with less as much as in LatAm.

And if the US is good at one thing it’s charity and not just rich people – a great many in the US donate to charity.

This being said I think it’s important to remember that the US has been built on the backs of immigrants something indelibly ingrained into the American psyche and well documented in some classic American novels that most read in high school.

Even though fiction the two novels below do a pretty good job of depicting the struggles faced by immigrants and migrants alike.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck discussed the struggle of Okies during the Great Depression working in the fields in California interestingly enough a torch Cesar Chavez picked up after WWII and a story quite applicable to some immigrants today given the heavily Mexican migrant work force.

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair discussed the plight of Lithuanian immigrants working in unsanitary and unsafe conditions in a meat processing plant in Chicago at the beginning of the 20th century.

Those that are heavily against all forms of immigration are ignoring the toil, determination and courage of their ancestors which without the US would not have been built nor would it be the great nation it is today.

Shall we throw away the motto on the original Seal of the United States of America adopted by Congress in 1782?

E Pluribus Unum – out of many, one

And if you forget or throw away the very thing that enabled the US to be great then what does this portend for our future?

There’s no shortage of immigrant contributions to the US.

The first transcontinental railroad was made possible by Chinese and Irish laborers.

50% of the workforce during the industrial revolution was comprised of immigrants and their children and if you add their grandchildren the number rises to 66%.

And it goes on and on….

Immigration in the US needs a moderate and honest approach and above all one that doesn’t break the bank.

Perhaps we need to re-emulate the forward thinking of our founding fathers and get away from the short-term thinking that has plagued the country as of late whether this has been in business, personal or in step with election cycles.

I’ll close the article with something that all immigrants should read if they haven’t and perhaps many Americans should reread.

What embodies the struggle of immigrants seeking freedom and a fresh start more than the inscription inside the base of The Statue of Liberty?


The New Colossus – Emma Lazarus – 1883


"Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.


Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!"

cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your


Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"


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Immigration, Economics and Politics, 1.0 out of 1 based on 1 rating

25 comments to Immigration, Economics and Politics

  • itaest

    I need to say that I disagree with the statement that US should not "support women that use children to gain citizenship that do not work" in a discussion on immigration reform, because it gives ammunition to the Republican outrage on "anchor babies", which is way overblown as discussed in an article in Politifact.

    With regards to the Latin American govenrments and how they treat their citizens, I think we agree a  bit more, although I would describe it differently. I suggest you consider the arguments I put forth in one of my articles here at Immizen, in which I compare Europe with Latin America and describe the misery and income inequalilty  that the "small government" democracies of Latin America engender because the rich are not asked to pay enough taxes, they live a life of comfort and luxury and control the government and exploit the poor, who have access to few services and are given few opportunities to improve their situation.

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    • BC

      The beautiful thing about the US is that we have freedom of speech and I respect your opinion, but politely disagree.  We need to cut costs where we can and this is all across the board not just in one area.
      I don't care about either party because they both, along with their lobbyists, have made a mess of the United States' economics.
      We have $16 trillion in debt and rising and if we do not get things under control we will default on our debt something that may already be guaranteed.  At this point the country will descend into anarchy and no one will be worrying about benefits rather from where their next meal is coming.
      I have seen some articles on this countering your point, but I don't know the organizations being quoted well so unclear if they are spinning the issue or not.
      I still hold that we need immigration, but not for people that don't want to work. 

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      • itaest

        I agree: I love freedom of speech and if you notice I have more fun discussing issues with you than with some other authors in the blog with whom I agree 100%, since there is nothing to say, haha.

        Therefore, allow me to disagree: the debt issue is overblown as well. All you have to do is cut subsidies to oil, corn, etc, raise taxes for the millionaires and a little bit for everyone else and control spending in a smart way (e.g. learn from Germany how to spend half as much on health care as the USA, yet offer much better service to all citizens) instead of just cutting services. Those immigrants who come here, do it because their countries don't offer those services. And now we want the USA to become another Banana Republic where a few rich people sip their cocktails on their yachts while considering wheter to buy that villa in the Cote D'azur, and the rest of us… we can go to hell, or emigrate to Europe. Nope.


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  • BC

    US federal tax revenue for fiscal year (FY) 2011 (ended 9/30/11) was $2.3 trillion.
    The national debt at the end of FY 2011 was $14.8 trillion and the federal deficit was $1.3 trillion = spending above tax revenues.
    Interest due on the national debt was around $400 billion.
    For FY 2011 to incur no additional deficit spending meant one could have spent $1.9 trillion, but instead we spent $1.7 trillion more than this.
    If you expand the gross public debt number in the link above you will notice that $1.7 trillion of the debt is monetized, a fancy word for printing or creating new money out of thin air.
    Monetizing debt is still occurring and this is what leads to inflation because when you increase money supply (print more money) this devalues the currency.
    Rather than take my word on inflation or anyone else’s are you paying more or less when you buy food and gas?  What’s funny about inflation numbers is that they always like to quote a number ex food and energy – the two things you can’t live without.
    CBO estimates that we will add another $12 trillion in debt during the period 2012-2021 putting national debt at almost $27 trillion, which they estimate to be 97% of GDP. 
    Tax revenues and earnings are certain to increase in this period due to steady inflation.
    The other thing worth mentioning is social security and other programs are mandatory outflows and while one can certainly increase the age of recipients a large chunk of tax revenue is social security payments.
    And social security has a surplus of $2.5 trillion, but alas this is only on paper.  Due to laws in the 1930s when SS was created the receipts must be invested into treasury bonds and while it’s a different type of treasury the money still ends up in government coffers and is spent.
    I digress.
    The point is how can you ever pay down all the debt and the greater the debt the more the value of the dollar will decrease leading to more oil based inflation serving to stunt any economic growth.
    If you like I can write something even more detailed, but the point is that we are broke and two things need to happen.

    Government spending needs to be reduced across the board.


    Efficiency of government spending needs to be increased.

    A host of other things need to happen as well such as perhaps increased tax once the economy has improved.  If you increase taxes too soon then the economy will contract as it results in less consumer disposable income.
    And when consumers have less disposable income then they don’t buy that new TV, go out to dinner less, etc. = industries contract and employ less people.
    One cannot inflate their way out of the problem because as we already are seeing inflation as a result and done the wrong way one can end up with Weimar hyperinflation.
    Do you really want to return to the stagflation of the 70s?
    You indicated…
    All you have to do is cut subsidies to oil, corn, etc, raise taxes for the millionaires and a little bit for everyone else and control spending in a smart way..
    Would you care to put some numbers behind your words demonstrating how this approach addresses the huge national debt and deficit spending?
    As I’ve indicated, I have it with both parties as they are both spending addicts and regurgitating either party’s talking points is not helpful in solving our debt problems.
    A benefit to the continued immigration, assuming that social costs are kept in check and such people are made legal/pay taxes, is that increased US population = more commerce = more tax revenue/more consumer spending.
    So perhaps it is this wave of immigration that plays a big role in solving our debt problems – perhaps you should school your buddy Romney on this.  LOL
    My gut is that the current wave of immigration is going to do big things for the US like all other waves before it have done.
    Perhaps it’s immigration that solves Europe’s problems as well.
    Now I never had thought about how immigration might solve our debt problems before your comment so see the great things ideas that can be hatched when as a nation we engage in civil discourse!
    Now we can’t grow ad infinitum so during this process we need to get government spending under control and like you said try to emulate Germany’s 50% lower cost per capita on health care.
    The counter argument that we be thrown at solving national debt via immigration is that they will increase social costs, but this is a fallacious argument as it assumes immigrants will wish to stay at the bottom rung economically and they won’t.
    Their kids will get educated and earn more – become professionals, start their own businesses, etc. just like all immigrant groups before them have.
    While immigrants have greatly increased educational costs one needs to look at this as a long-term investment that will pay off – govt. spending must be controlled though as with more revenue sneaky politicians will try to spend more to buy more votes.
    No more career politicians – control lobbying and above all smaller, but more efficient government.  Keep in mind with the right legislation the private sector will compete to deliver things like health care to all, but far more efficiently.
    When done under big government it won’t work.

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    • itaest

      I know spending costs are excessive, but you hardly address the issue of taxes and I don't have the numbers or time to Google for them, I am out the door in a few seconds, but I have heard experts on NPR and CNN explain that you can lower the debt by raising those taxes on the rich. Why don't you focus on that instead?

      Why the emphasis on cutting spending?

      When I cite Germany as a country to study and learn from, it is because I lived there for almost 10 years. If you are out of work, you get huge unemplyment checks, you are sick, you get all bills taken care of, vacation? Sure you get a month to 6 weeks paid vacation, social security, of course, and twice as much as what you get in the USA. And how is their economy and debt: if it weren't that the Germans have to pay for Greece and all the other failing countries in Europe, their economy would be the best in the world. So how do they do it without hardly cutting services? That is what we need to learn here in the USA.


      Cutting services without rasing taxes takes the USA closer to some of those countries the immigrants are fleeing from.

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      • BC

        I did address taxes and said the problem with increasing taxes now is that it results in less disposable income.  When people have less money they spend less and as a result the economy contracts – not good when real full time unemployment is around 16-17%.
        End result is more people get laid off and now they spend very little and pay no income taxe as they have no income.
        The emphasis on cutting spending is because the federal government, as I mentioned above,  spent $1.3 trillion more in FY2011 than they collected in tax revenues.  Now given that we have to pay roughly $400 billion per year in interest on the debt we really spent $1.7 trillion more than we should have.
        Now let's look at prior years' deficit – FY2010 – $1.3 trillion, FY2009 – $1.4 trillion, FY2008 – $458 billion, FY2007 – $160 billion, FY2006 – $248 billion, FY 2005 – $318 billion, FY2004 – $412 billion, etc.
        The United States has a spending problem and one can assign the blame wherever one wants, but one cannot escape that our problem is too much spending something that will result in our defaulting on our debt and when this happens our dollar will be worthless outside of the US = Weimar inflation.
        The very reason that Germany has been so hesistant to bail out Europe and has done so grudgingly is that they still remember the hyperinflation that they faced in the early 1920s.  And my prediction here is that as some point Germany is going to let southern Europe fail as in their eyes to not do so will bring Germany down with the ship.  The Euro zone is going to fail – just a matter of time.
        As for taxing the rich, I think taxes do need to go up once the economy is stabilized and assuming the job growth of the past year continues for another 2-3 years then I think we can implement higher taxes.  The truth though is the majority of the country is middle class and it you want to raise tax revenue in any signficant way then you have to tax this demographic and to do so now hurts spending and hence jobs.
        Plus most of them would rightly say that spending is the problem.  If you tax very wealthy people more now or in the future this really will not hurt spending as they have so much, but this will not result in much tax revenue because there are so few of them.  So fine by me.
        Note a lot of small businesses will get hurt by higher taxes given that owners often file all income as personal even though they employee others – weird thing with the tax code.
        Then take people earning $100k to $1 million – if you tax them a lot now this will badly hurt spending.  Even with well to do people – their spending employs a lot of people – restaurants, landscaping, vacations, etc.  So when you tax them more ironically the people that get hurt are middle to lower class people that earn their living off of their spending.
        The other problem here is if you increase tax revenues will Congress also cut spending or will they say look we have all this additional money so we can spend more or not cut – and I think what happens is the latter.
        As for the so called experts that you are listening to on NPR/CNN – I doubt they have a very solid grasp on economics.  The same applies to Fox, MSNBC, PBS, CNBC.  CNBC commentators by in large are clueless and it's supposed to be a financial network.  During the height of the housing boom CNBC's commentators thought it would never end.
        One of CNBC's guests, Peter Schiff, routinely indicated that the housing bubble would collapse, but CNBC's commentators and guests routinely mocked him, but he was right.  So don't put much faith in so called "financial experts."
        One economist that I think is pretty sharp is Nouriel Roubini.  Any time you see rapid and sustained growth in a market without any fundamental strength – run.
        As for Germany their banks are in a lot of trouble (leveraged 30 to 1 and higher) and they have a lot of European sovereign debt exposure.  In Europe sovereign debt is considered riskless under Basel II banking accord – oops!  At any rate, leveraged 30 to 1 means a bank has lent 30 times more money than it actually has.  So if things go south a bank this highly leveraged can collapse quite quickly.  But agreed Germany is the best in Europe.
        It's too late to discuss cutting services  I'm tired and can address this tomorrow, but I agree we have to reduce the cost of services and keep in mind that it's not the amount of money that you spend on something rather how effectively you spend it.
        Perhaps if you like we can discuss where the US spends money by category.

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        • itaest

          Nope, nope, no. Sure, increasing taxes results in less disposable income. The question is what do people do with the extra money? Stimulate the economy? That is what I hear them say in Fox GOP News. 

          It is incorrect. The facts contradict that statement.

          In the years after the Clinton tax increase, job rates soared.

          Bush lowered taxes and what happened?

          The rich stimulated the yacht, mansions real estate and travel to Paris economy, but most of their money went to lobbying politicians to keep taxes low, instead of hiring more workers. Just look at the Koch brothers and all the money they spent electing Republicans to office. They own several companies, wouldn't it have been better had they spent the billions on hiring American workers?

          And the deficit? Here is a chart that shows the deficit by president. Reagan and Bush Sr. lowered taxes, debt went up. Clinton raised taxes, debt went down. Bush lowered taxes, debt went up. Allow Obama to raise taxes on the rich and you will see the debt problem will be solved.

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          • BC

            Reread the article you posted.  It says that a lot of other things were going on that led to the growth.  We were coming out of a recession at the time and growth occurs when recessions end.  Increasing taxes has nothing to do with it.  Other comment is that unclear how "PolitiFact" is a reputable source.
            The 90s really took off due to the tech bubble, which crashed badly 2000-01.  As I said the right time to raise taxes is when the economy is booming because people can afford it.  They are earning more money, consumer and business confidence is very positive, etc.
            In 1990 the national debt was $3.2 trillion and it is currently $16 trillion.  Unemployment was around 7% in 93 and while the official number is now around 9% the real number is closer to 17% the reason being that the long-term unemployed are not counted.
            No question that the economy did very well under Clinton, but again the main driver was the tech boom and it had nothing to do with raising taxes.  If the federal government shows that they are going to get spending under control via action then this will be positive for the economy and as I said earlier one can increase taxes in 2-3 years as to do so now will kill the recovery.
            Also under Clinton you did not just come out of the worst recession since the Great Depression and you did not have the housing problem that he created in the first place. 
            Once again Obama's timing is off.  He focused on health care when he should have focused on the economy and then dealt with health care after this.  Now he wants to increase taxes when he should be doing this in 2-3 years.  And guess who raising taxes is going to hurt the most – middle/lower classes.  So he's advocating action that will most hurt the very people he is purporting to represent.
            Look at it this way.  Let's say you earn $100k and now have to pay another $4k in taxes – what happens?  You have less money to spend – vacation, new car, TV, going out to dinner, etc.  Even if you only spend $2k of the $4k does it stimulate the economy?  Yes yes yes.
            Debt does go up when you lower taxes if you're spending a lot  – no argument.  Debt went up by Reagan because he started spending a lot to get out of the stagflation of the 70s and the worst economy since the Great Depression until now.  The debt went up under Bush because the wars cost so much, but agreed less tax revenue made it go up more.
            Obama has had the largest deficits of any president though and the highest unemployment since the Great Depression.  Like Reagan he is spending to get out of an awful economy, but he hasn't spent in the right way.  His stimulus was a handout to unions, just like Iraq was a handout to defense contractors.
            And while the stimulus kept people employed – it had no stimulative effect that rebuilding infrastructure would have.
            How is the way the Kochs spend money any different than George Soros?
            All politics aside – raising taxes will not "solve the debt problem."  Yes it needs to happen when the economy is more stable, but spending has to be cut and one does this gradually so as not to tank the economy.
            The US is in a great deal of trouble with the debt.  It's ludicrous to think raising taxes on the rich will magically deal with the problem – default is most likely at this point .
            What is the proposed tax on the rich and what revenue to you expect to be generated from them?  CBO thinks the debt will be $27 trillion in 2021 as mentioned earlier in the thread.

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      • BC

        By the way – yes we do need to raise taxes, but the best time to raise taxes in when the economy is booming and it's very fragile right now.

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      • BC

        This is a good video to watch on all the printing going on to support sovereign debt issuance and why Europe and US have big problems.

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        • itaest

          Who is that "" that made the video? I can not verify that what this guy says is true. I could but it's a homework I don't have the time to do. It needs to be verified by economists that write articles or are interviewed in the NewYork Times, other reputable news organizations, CNN, ABC or CBS news, etc. It could just be his "worldview" and people are free to have their own, I don't need to believe it. Yep.



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          • BC

            This is a presentation to investors of this firm saying – hey this is going on and as a result you need to take it into consideration when investing.  I have a heavy background in the financial markets (bonds) and I can tell you what he says is exactly what's going on.  I didn't post it to fight the point because this is not opinion.
            Fox, CNN, NY Times, etc. won't go into this level of detail and furthermore governments do not want stuff like this broadcast over regular media as they don't wish tto frighten people.
            One probably needs to look at the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Barrons or similar pubs to find this level of detail.   Whether you choose to believe it or not – it's occurring.
            Let me give you an example.  If you want to read about some new surgical procedure Fox or CNN might do a very short piece on it, but to understand the issue in depth you need to read a medical journal and you need to understand medicine.
            I'll see if I can find other people discussing this.

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            • itaest

              I did the follwing excercise: I run the video and listened to it while browsing for current news on the "probablity of recession" in Europe and worldwide. I learned that the video was made Dec 2011. The guy talks a lot about Germany's succesful economy. The guy just talks a lot period.

              I am just more optimistic about the worldwide economy and some recent news support a bit more cautious optimism: there is this article in Investors Business Daily that states:

              After Dire 2011, Emerging Markets Are Rebounding Fast …

              The probability that Europe will blow up in the near term has fallen

              And that probablity was at 50/50 in Dec 2011. And in Italy, Berlusconi is gone. That can only be good. Now he can party until he gets blue, and an adult is now taking care of the Italian economy.

              What is also quite funny is the bipolar reactions of these economist and business pundits. Only 8 days ago several respected news orgs such as Reuters were reporting:

              European equities climbed to levels not seen since the summer on Friday, with charts pointing to more near-term gains as long as economic data and earnings remain supportive

              But today, just 8 days later, the stock market fell a little bit, and the news are a bit more negative, but not enough to scare me:

              Inflation is back on the European Central Bank’s radar, complicating efforts to bolster growth as the sovereign debt crisis pushes the economy toward recession

              I think we should be cautiously optimistic. I sold my stocks recently at all time highs. Don't have many and needed the cash to invest in an apt. But I am expecting the markets to be soft during the Spring and then rebound around August. I turst that Germany will fix Europe. I trust that Obama will fix the USA. And emerging markets are not doing too bad. I'm happy.

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              • BC

                The adult that you mention is now running Italy, Mario Monti, is ex-Goldman Sachs.  Guess what so is Greece's new PM Lucas Papademos.
                There is no Democrat or Republican party in the US rather only people behind the scenes that have created this illusion so that those behind the scenes may freely pick our pockets whilst we bicker among each other about which party is right.
                Goethe put it best…
                None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
                Time for everyone to stop drinking the political Kool-Aid and wake up.

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                • itaest

                  I like those quotes. It's cool you remember them. I'm bad at memorizing.

                  Hm, so these guys are from the crooked Gol-damn Sachs. That's a downer. I had heard good things about him.

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          • BC

            Here's two recent articles from Der Spiegel that backs up what the video was talking about and I think they're very well written.
            They purchased billions of euros worth of sovereign bonds from ailing countries. The banks pay the low interest rate of 1.0 percent on the central bank loans, while Italian and Spanish government bonds produce yields of five percent. The difference is pocketed as profit.
            The ECB has printed 1 trillion euros since December – lent the money to banks at low rates and they turned around and bought sovereign debt.  And the lead architect – head of ECB – Mario Draghi – is ex Goldman Sachs.  What a surprise the vampire squid strikes again!
            The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.
            Now you will note that the articles cite that oil prices jumped 15% on the printing along with other commodities.  This is what printing does – creates inflation and is exactly what the Germans are rightly worried about because if the process continues you end up with hyperinflation.
            Other irony is you are trying to fix a problem created by debt and unsound banking practices with more debt/unsound banking practices – won't end well and Europe and the US are in big trouble in the next few years.
            On a more literary note the line from Henry the Sixth comes to mind….
            The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers. – just add in bankers and you'll have figured out the right course of action.  LOL
            Lest I forget here's an article talking about how the Fed (US central bank) has been printing.
            Printing for a while is OK, but the more you do it the harder it is to ever stop.  And the reason oil is so expensive now – Bush?  Obama? – wrong – bankers and politicians that do their bidding and they own most of the politicians.  The global financial crisis was caused by bankers.

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  • BC

    Also disagree that immigrants come to the US for services other than those than don't want to work.  They come to US for opportunity – earn more money, less disrimination than at home, future for their kids, etc.
    And while education is a service I suppose it's for their kids and an investment that will pay off and keep in mind the parents are working and adding value.
    Those that go right onto welfare should stay in their country of origin.

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    • itaest

      I did not mean to say that the immigrants come here to benefit from the government services, but rather that they come here because their own governments have no services to help them out when the circumstances are bad.

      If they become unemployed, they get very low or no unemployment benefits, they get no help to re(train) for a new career. When someone in the family is sick, they get no help to pay the bills. If their land or home is contaminated with toxic chemicals, or a natural disaster destroys it, they are forced to move without restitution of their property.Thus, being on their own, survival instinct kicks in and they will take radical measures, such as leaving everything behind to find a chance elesehwhere for a better future and salary. 

      Why don't we see unemployed Germans immigrating to the USA en masse?

      Because the German system has a safety net that helps their citizens survive the unemployment phase, pay the bills, pay for health expenses and helps them find new jobs.

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  • BC

    Actually the largest ethnicity in the US is German, even larger than Irish, but this happened a long time ago.
    The reason that Germans don't emigrate to the US is the same reason that Americans don't emigrate to Germany.  One it's too hard  – neither can get legal work.  Two both countries have strong economies historically so there's no need to do so.  I'm not aware of any mass migration of Americans to Germany or any other country for that matter.
    What has happened is US has seen very heavy immigration from LatAm due to strong economy and other places as well.  Germany has seen a ton of Turkish immigration.
    I still hold that immigrants come to the US for work as the primary reason because many immigrants are illegal and cannot get many of the services you mention.  Their kids can get education and they can get treated at hospitals, but not the other stuff you mentioned.
    You seem fixated on services – currently and in the past immigrants have come here for opportunity – not services.  And via education and less discrimination opportunity for their kids + a legal system that works a lot better.

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    • itaest

      You are right, immigrants don't come here for services. That is not what I said. I said they come here because in their countries there are no services, and once they lose their jobs they are on their own. That is when they decide to come here to find work because there is no work back home.

      But if during unemployment in their own countries they were taken care of, and their countries would "stimulate" the economy the way Obama did to create new jobs, retrain them, etc, then they would not need to come here.

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  • LaLucilaKid

    it is all so confusing.  First of all I don't understand the words "we" and "they" anymore so that puts me at a disadvantage.  But I think of the roles people in the US are given to play in broad terms.  It used to be, the population as a whole were called "citizens" even if there were a number of people mixed in who were not yet that.  But then after WW II   it has become a truism to say that American industry stopped making war goods and turned to articles that would soon be called consumer goods.  What devil coined that term?  Slowly it seems to me the term consumer goods lent itself to humans and citizens came to be called consumers.  So our own industrial machine decided to degrade us and many people have commented on why that is.
    So if that is all true then we are ALL ex Americans, with a lot of pre Americans and non Americans thrown in as subsets, and we fight with each other because all of us (I guess except for the 1 %) are travelling in steerage.  
    The term "serf" comes next.

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    • itaest

      Good point! We are all consumers. You are so right: what does it matter – if we are immigrants or not? To the 1% who produce consumer goods what matters is that someone buys them. And only the 1% are better off because of it.

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      • BC

        I think your comment here is highly inaccurate.  Consumer product and other companies employ a great many people who earn their livings off of the work.  Furthermore, people do need goods.
        Billions of people globally benefit from the products and the related income enables them to buy food, housing, etc.  
        Most of these companies are publicly traded and many ordinary people invest in them to increase their net worth for retirement or maybe to buy something like an apartment,  pension funds buy both bonds and stocks to pay for employee retirement, etc.
        I think we should be cautiously optimistic. I sold my stocks recently at all time highs. Don't have many and needed the cash to invest in an apt.
         Or did you "mis-type" and in reality you live off the grid, grow your own food and never use any services that you seem to value so much?
        What I think is unnecessary is rampant commerce and parasitical banking.  Moderation is the key – not good for anyone to go to one extreme or another.

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        • itaest

          I am a consumer. Yes, I buy and sell stocks. But my point is, in a consumer society, the ones that profit most are those who produce and a lot of what they produce is crap. And yes, again I consume, but except for my computer which allows me to read information online and "blog" and certain foods, most of the other goods I consume do not provide the "Joie de vivre" and only empty my bank accts, while the coffers of producers overflow.

          And I am obviously not talking about the little farmer in Alabama who produces tomatoes. And I'm not talking about technology companies like Google and Microsoft which produce useful stuff. I am talking about Oil companies, insurance companies, financial companies, food industry (MacDonalds, processed foods), etc

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  • BC

    Interesting comment and I think I see your point – but perhaps I don't – correct me if I'm wrong.  People certainly consumed/bought plenty of goods before WW2 though so unclear that much has changed other than the nomenclature.  I would hazard one would have to go back to a period before the industrial revolution when consumption was a lot less, but even then people still bought goods  – sundries, dried goods, etc.
    The Consumer Price Index was started around 1918-19 and BLS has data back to 1913.  One might have to go back to the days of the hunter gatherer to see very little if no commerce.
    Certainly the Romans, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Sumerians, etc.  all heavily engaged in commerce and trade.  The Silk Road began with the Han Dynasty around 200 BC.
    So while the term consumer may have been popularized in the 20th century I don't think the concept is a new one.  The origin of the word can be traced as follows…
    1350–1400; Middle English  (< Middle French consumer ) < Latin cons?mere,  equivalent to con- con-  + s?mere  to take up (perhaps < *suzm-  < *subzm-  < *subs- ( e ) m-,  equivalent to subs-,  variant of sub- sub-  + emere  to take, buy)
    One source defines the word quite pejoratively as to "squander" and in this regard perhaps you have a point and given the way we needlessly consume today perhaps the initial definition is spot on.  Maybe feudal lords did not like the rise of the merchant class, which served to break apart centuries of serfdom along with the Renaissance.
    As vulgar as it may seem to you iincreased and mass consumption is part of the reason feudalism broke apart.
    I think the reason that the non 1% fight each other is that they are well manipulated by the so called 1% something that I think is at the heart of politics, which is hardly a new phenomenon.
    At the core of this is human nature and fear – that is in the desire to control others.  However, I do not think we are going to return to serfdom.  The current system is breaking (something that may be quite bumpy) and I think we are at the dawn of a new age where human consciousness will move forward as we begin to let go of more fear.  The rapid increase in fear mongering of the past 30 years or so is indicative of the power elite's desperate flailing much like that of a drowning man sensing the end is near.
    In as much as feudalism/serfdom had its purpose and ran its course so will be the fate of rampant consumerism and parasitical banking.
    Gibran wrote a nice passage on buying and selling.

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