Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Pity the Millennials!

Millennials were already hurting from the 2008 economic crash, which brought the U.S. economy to a standstill, and by the 2010 Obamacare law, which incentivised the creation of part-time jobs over full-time jobs. Now it appears Millennials will bear the economic consequences of dysfunctional immigration policies, too.

Young Adults: Then and Now,” a recent Census Bureau report on how today’s 18 to 34-year-olds compare with their 1980 peers, is a discouraging set of statistics for Millennials today.
Despite rising educational achievement (Bachelor's degrees +6.6%), young people have lost ground economically and in terms of independence, as AEI economist Mark Perry’s summary chart (right) reveals. Compared with their 1980 cohorts, more Millennials are living under their parents' wings (+7.4%), slightly fewer live on their own (-0.4%), and substantially fewer are creating their own families (i.e., marrying -24.4%). Economically, fewer are employed (-4.3%), more live below the poverty line (+5.6%), and their median income is down (-$1,962/year).

The bigger news in the Census Bureau report, however, is in the stunning growth in the percentages of young adults who are foreign-born (6.3% in 1980 vs. 15.4% today), speak a language other than English at home (10.9% in 1980 vs. 24.6% today), and minority (21.6% in 1980 vs. 42.8% today).

The growth in "minority" percentages seems to be entirely due to the Hispanic population. The Census Bureau defines "minority" as all people classified as "Hispanic" and "all people who are races other than White."  Based on Census Bureau data (charted below), non-Hispanic "racial minorities" actually declined from 31.6 million in 1980 to 29.1 million in 2013, while "Hispanic minorities" grew substantially, from 14.6 million in 1980 to 53.9 million in 2013. (Census Bureau data doesn't tell us what percentage of the Hispanic minority is here legally vs. illegally. Perhaps it should.)
In 1986, Congress passed a law giving amnesty to those who had entered the nation illegally before 1982, and the beneficiaries of that law were mostly Hispanic. The law ushered in preferential go-to-the-head-of-the-line treatment to foreign relatives to legally migrate to the U.S. to join those who had received amnesty.

Prospective illegals read the immigration rule changes for what they were – a huge reward for lawless behavior – and the flow of illegals into the country continued unabated. Now President Obama is attempting another mass amnesty of illegals by executive order, although a federal court has blocked his attempt for the moment. [See update below.]

A new report by the business analysis firm IHS, headlined Hispanics Will Account for More than 40 Percent of the Increase in U.S. Employment in the Next Five Years, offers these predictions:
  • Hispanic employment growth will average 2.6 percent per year over the next 20 years. 
  • The Hispanic share of total U.S. employment will rise from 16% in 2014 to 23% in 2034. 
  • By 2020, labor force growth is expected to slow to the point that the annual change in the labor force is roughly equal to the amount of net migration. 
  • The number of foreign born Hispanics will grow from 22 million in 2014 to over 29 million in 2034. 
Now we learn from a Congressional Research Service memo obtained by Breitbart that illegal immigrants allowed to get Social Security Numbers as a result of Obama's executive amnesty actions could be eligible to file back tax returns and obtain up to four years of federal welfare benefits amounting to thousands of dollars: for a family with three children, the four-year federal welfare back payment would amount to $35,521.

Pity the Millennials, who were already facing stiff economic headwinds from poor public policy choices of the current and past administrations. If Obama's executive amnesty isn't stopped, they will be paying back their student loans, struggling to get their own careers going, AND paying for very generous new welfare payments to thousands of new amnestied illegals.

UPDATE:  For more on what's at stake in this court case, see Immigration and the End of the Rule of Law, in which Jonathan Tobin writes, "The stakes in this argument don't merely revolve around the status of illegals. If liberal federal judges and the president are determined to trash the rule of law in this manner, we are on the verge of a full-blown constitutional crisis."

Understanding the Threat of ISIS

Graeme Wood's lengthy article in the March Atlantic magazine, What ISIS Really Wants, is an insightful primer for Westerners that helps explain what the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is, how it differs from al-Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups, and why the West and its leaders must understand its theology if it hopes to stop ISIS's bloodthirsty rampage. It leaves the reader with the sense that ISIS is intent on a 'holy war' with the world whether the world wants one or not.

Contrary to President Obama's puzzling assertion that ISIS is 'not Islamic', "the reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic," writes Wood. "The religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam" ... a distinctly medieval teaching of Islam with a "carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bring[ing] about the apocalypse."
  • To achieve its objectives, ISIS must control territory and establish a caliphate, which is simultaneously a political government and a vehicle for salvation. This has already happened.  ISIS "seized Mosul, Iraq, last June, and already rules an area larger than the United Kingdom," writes Wood. "Where it holds power, the state collects taxes, regulates prices, operates courts, and administers services ranging from health care and education to telecommunications." (See map.) ISIS's "social-welfare program is, at least in some aspects," adds Wood, "progressive to a degree that would please an MSNBC pundit."
  • ISIS's bloodbath — unrestrained executions, crucifixions, and beheadings — is a feature, not a bug. It seeks to purify the world by (a) killing vast numbers of non-believers and (b) purging the world of Muslim apostates, including Muslim heads of state who have put secular law about Sharia law by "running for office or enforcing laws not made by God." ISIS's medieval theology demands that it continue to "expand the caliphate" and "terrorize its enemies—a holy order to scare the shit out of them with beheadings and crucifixions and enslavement of women and children, because doing so hastens victory and avoids prolonged conflict." 
  • ISIS is following a clearly defined Islamic 'Prophetic methodology'. The capture of the Syrian city of Dabiq was an important step in that methodology. "Now that it has taken Dabiq, the Islamic State awaits the arrival of an enemy army there, whose defeat will initiate the countdown to the apocalpyse. ... The Prophetic narration that foretells the Dabiq battle refers to the enemy as Rome. Who 'Rome' is, now that the pope has no army, remains a matter of debate. ... Islamic State sources suggest that Rome might mean any infidel army..."  After its victory at Dabiq, the prophesy goes, the caliphate will expand to cover the entire Earth, ushering in the end of time and the ultimate victory of Islam's God.

The holy war ISIS currently pursues is as much against apostate Muslims as Westerners. ISIS's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi "has said as much directly: in November he told his Saudi agents to "deal with the rafida [Shia] first ... then al-Sulul [Suni supporters of the Saudi monarchy] ... before the crusaders and their bases."

The good news for the West is that ISIS is currently at odds with al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban and other Muslim groups. ISIS demands of Muslims the total observance of, and submission to, the original medieval teaching of the Koran. In ISIS's eyes, other Islamic groups have committed apostasy by adopting aspects of the modern world (e.g., the Muslim Brotherhood's participation in elections in Egypt), by seeking worldly goals (e.g., al-Qaeda's goal to expel non-Muslims from the Arabian peninsula, to abolish the state of Israel, to attack the United States), or by "innovations" to the Koran (e.g., the "roughly 200 million Shia [Muslims] are marked for death" because they have adopted "innovations" on the Koran's teaching). Yet ISIS's threat to the world could grow very rapidly if other Muslim groups and sects begin aligning with ISIS.

"The ideological purity of the Islamic State has one compensating virtue," argues Wood; "it allows us to predict some of the group's actions."

Wood discusses the potential value of a full-scale military ground war to defeat ISIS at Dabiq.  "Al-Qaeda is ineradicable because it can survive, cockroach-like, by going underground. The Islamic State cannot," writes Wood. "If it loses its grip on its territory in Syria and Iraq, it will cease to be a caliphate."  If the caliphate goes away, so does ISIS's emotional appeal and claim to doctrinal and intellectual superiority within the Muslim religion.

"And yet the risks of escalation are enormous," writes Wood. "The biggest proponent of an American invasion is the Islamic State itself. ... An invasion would be a huge propaganda victory for jihadists worldwide. ... Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it, through air strikes and proxy warfare, appears the best of bad military options."

However this unfolds, the world is in for a long bloody ride.
That the Islamic State holds the imminent fulfillment of prophecy as a matter of dogma at least tells us the mettle of our opponent. It is ready to cheer its own near-obliteration, and to remain confident, even when surrounded, that it will receive divine succor if it stays true to the prophetic model. Ideological tools may convince some potential converts that the group's message is false, and military tools can limit its horrors. But for an organization as impervious to persuasion as the Islamic State, few measures short of these will matter, and the war may be a long one, even if it doesn't last until the end of time.
What ISIS Really Wants, filled with insight from Wood's personal interviews of Muslim scholars and imams, is worth reading in its entirely.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Study: Millions of Illegals Not Permitted to Work Got Work Permits

About 70 percent of the 5.5 million work permits issued since 2009, the year President Obama took office, were given to illegals who aren't allowed by law to have them or whose qualifications to have them are not documented, according to a new report this month by the Center for Immigration Studies.

Data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reveal 3.86 million work permits issued were potentially or blatantly in violation of U.S. law:
  • 1,200,000 work permits were issued to aliens not allowed to work in the U.S. (e.g., tourists, foreign students);
  • 960,000 work permits were issued to aliens who crossed the border illegally; and
  • 1,700,000 work permits were issued to aliens whose status was unknown, not disclosed or not revealed by USCIS.
Cautioning that Congress has both an opportunity and obligation to remedy this issue, the study concludes:
These statistics indicate that the executive branch is operating a huge parallel immigrant work authorization system outside the bounds of the laws and limits written by Congress.  It inevitably reduces job opportunities for Americans. In addition, allowing work permits to be issued to illegal aliens and temporary visitors damages the integrity of the legal immigration system and encourages illegal immigration.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Illegal Immigrants Overwhelm California DMV Offices

Californians are waiting months to get an appointment with the Division of Motor Vehicles for driver's licenses and vehicle registrations. Under a new California law, illegal immigrants are now permitted to legally obtain both, and the huge surge in their numbers to do so has overwhelmed DMV offices, according to a CBS-2 Los Angeles news report.

One Californian, told he couldn't get an appointment at the Hollywood DMV before June, stood in line at the DMV office for two days in an effort to renew his driver's license before his current one expired.
[W]e found plenty of other DMV customers who had similar problems.

One driver received a letter from the DMV on Jan. 6 that advised he had to renew in person at a DMV office but had until March 8 — two months — before his current license expired. The driver went online to make an appointment, but discovered there were no appointments available within 50 miles of his home before March 8.

In fact, we found eight DMV offices, including Hollywood, Riverside, Costa Mesa, and Ventura that had nothing available before March 11, after his license would have expired.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Kudos to Millennials

Millennials have gotten their share of bad press, so it's good to see them receive a bit of praise in an article by the sage of American politics, Michael Barone. Citing statistics to buttress his case, Barone writes that "the most crime-prone age and gender cohort — 15-to-25-year-old males — are committing far fewer crimes than that cohort did in 1990."
  • In the past two decades, the murder rate fell 49%, forcible rape fell 33%, robbery rate fell 48%, and aggravated assault fell 39%.
  • Sexual assaults against 12-to-17-year-olds fell by more than half.
  • Violent victimization of teenagers at school declined 60%.
  • Binge-drinking in high school is lower than at any time since 1976, and sexual intercourse among 9th graders has declined.
  • A recent Justice Department report showed the rape rate on college campuses was 0.6%.
  • While unmarried parenthood has risen, teen births have been in sharp decline. The latest statistics tell us that birth rates are, unusually, up among married women and down among unmarried women.
 Barone theorizes why this trend might be happening:
I think what we are seeing is a mass changing of minds, something like the movement in Victorian England toward what historian Gertrude Himmelfarb described as “the morality that dignifies and civilizes human beings.”

My theory is that young people do what is expected of them, in two senses of the word “expected.” One is statistical expectation. Americans in 1990 expected young people, especially from disadvantaged backgrounds, to commit lots of crimes. They had been doing so, after all, for 25 years. But Rudy Giuliani and others adapting his methods reduced crime dramatically, and statistical expectations rapidly changed.

The other sense of the word “expected” is moral expectation. A parent tells a boy he is expected not to shoplift, bully, rob, rape or kill. She tells a girl she is expected not to sleep around or get pregnant. The parents of the last 25 years grew up in years of high crime, high divorce and high unmarried births. Evidently they wanted — expected — something better from their own children.

Illusory "Middle Class Economics"

White the president claims his "Middle Class Economics" is working, economist Stephen Moore lists "a dirty bunch of hidden indicators pointing to an American economy that may be in a lot worse shape than Washington is telling us," especially for the middle class families.
  • It's been 10 years since Americans in the middle class got a pay raise that kept pace with inflation.
  • Food, energy, tuition and health care prices have been running two to three times the official inflation rate.
  • Income inequality worsened in each of Obama's first four years in office, breaking all-time highs in both 2011 and 2012.
  • Small business creation hasn't been this low since 2001.
  • The national debt has grown by $7.3 trillion. Total debt was $11 trillion when Obama took office; today it's $18 trillion, and additional $120,000 of debt for each U.S. worker.
  • The percentage of Americans under 25 who are in the workforce is at its lowest level since the early 1970s.
  • Entitlement spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare is expected to nearly double in 2024 compared to 2013.
Read full article, Obama's Illusory Economic Recovery: Official Statistics Ignore the Real Hardships Families Face, by Stephen Moore

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Same-Sex Marriage Alters Job-Based Benefits

"Until recently, same-sex couples could not legally marry," reports Julie Appleby of Kaiser Health News. "Now, some are finding they must wed if they want to keep their partner's job-based health insurance and other benefits."
With same-sex marriage now legal in 35 states and the District of Columbia, some employers that formerly covered domestic partners say they will require marriage licenses for workers who want those perks.

“We’re bringing our benefits in line, making them consistent with what we do for everyone else,” said Ray McConville, a spokesman for Verizon, which notified non-union employees in July that domestic partners in states where same-sex marriage is legal must wed if they want to qualify for such benefits.

Employers making the changes say that since couples now have the legal right to marry, they no longer need to provide an alternative. Such rule changes could also apply to opposite-sex partners covered under domestic partner arrangements.

“The biggest question is: Will companies get rid of benefit programs for unmarried partners?” said Todd Solomon, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery in Chicago.
It is a reminder that "when marriage laws change, so do tax laws." Some same-sex advocates aren't happy with those changes.
It is legal for employers to set eligibility requirements for the benefits they offer workers and their families — although some states, such as California, bar employers from excluding same-sex partners from benefits. But some benefit consultants and advocacy groups say there are legal, financial and other reasons why couples may not want to marry.

Requiring marriage licenses is “a little bossy” and feels like “it’s not a voluntary choice at that point,” said Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel at Lambda Legal, an organization advocating for gay, lesbian and transgender people.
More at Once, Same-Sex Couples Couldn't Wed; Now, Some Employers Say They Must, PBS