Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The DACA and Dreamer issue is more complicated than people think

DACA and the “Dreamers” are a serious and important problem.

DACA stands for “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” which refers to the young children of persons who deliberately entered the country illegally years ago. Their kids had no choice in the matter, and because they had no choice but to accompany their parents on their illegal entry, they should be treated differently than other illegal aliens. Therefore, many believe that since they now have no memory of living in another country with a different culture and different language, deportation would be cruel and unfair.

The large group called “Dreamers,” however, is not part of the DACA program, but is made up of illegal aliens who also are looked upon with a high degree of sympathy by many. Some believe that both groups should not be deported, but given amnesty, citizenship, or a path to citizenship. Along with that sentiment is the idea that these are all good, innocent people merely wanting a good life, despite their illegal status.

That is a compassionate view, and America is the most compassionate country on Earth.

But we have to approach solving the DACA/Dreamer situation with our eyes wide open; we must neither assume the worst nor the best about these people, but we must learn as much as possible about each one in determining what to do with them.

How many aliens does the “DACA” program include? Kerwin and Warren’s “Potential Beneficiaries” cites the following: Although 800,000 illegal aliens originally received benefits under the DACA program, that number was down to 690,000 by September 5, 2017, when the Trump Administration was ending DACA. Add to that number those who were originally eligible for the DACA program and the “Dreamers,” and the number approaches 4 million.

Are all of these people just wonderful folks who want nothing more than a good life in America? Let’s look at those in the DACA program. They were required to (1) enroll in school, graduate from high school, obtain a GED certificate, or receive an honorable discharge from the military; (2) have no conviction for a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors; and (3) not pose a threat to national security or public safety, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

How did that work out? Well, Steven Camarota on National Review Online reported that despite the majority being adults, only 49 percent of DACA recipients had attained a high school diploma as required.

What about speaking English, the dominant, if not official, language of the U.S., and an important element in earning a high school diploma and functioning in our society?

A test given to determine the level of English fluency showed that of those making up 80 to 90 percent of DACA recipients, 44 percent who said they spoke English “well” or “very well,” actually scored “below basic,” which is at or near functional illiteracy. These results led the USCIS to conclude, “perhaps 24 percent of the DACA-eligible population fall into the functionally illiterate category, and another 46 percent have only ‘basic’ English ability.” So, two out of three have a language problem.

How about criminal activity? Last February DHS reported that 1,500 DACA beneficiaries had their eligibility terminated due to a criminal conviction, gang affiliation, or a criminal conviction related to gang affiliation, and by August the number had risen to 2,139. That is not a high percentage, but how many other lawbreakers haven’t been discovered, and how many lawbreakers are an acceptable number?

This data signals that the screening process was, to understate the situation, inadequate, and according to Jessica M. Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies, apparently, “only a handful of the applicants were ever interviewed, and only rarely was the information on the application ever verified.”

Plainly, quite a large number of DACA aliens haven’t tried very hard to meet the requirements of the program. It is therefore appropriate to wonder if they are really interested in becoming productive citizens of our country.

The Dreamers, who because of their trying to avoid discovery, were not subject to the requirements of DACA, so it is a safe bet that fewer of them speak English fluently, and some of them are most certainly involved in criminal activity.

The DACA and Dreamers situation indicates the abject foolishness of lax border control and monitoring of persons in the country on a visa. Immigration is far too important to be handled as badly as it has been for the last number of years. Had our government followed its own rules, we would most likely have a minor problem instead of this monumental one.

Any DACA beneficiary or illegal alien whose good character and behavior cannot be absolutely verified should not be allowed to remain in the country, and certainly not be put on a path to citizenship.

Immigration is a mechanism to bring in, or allow in, people from other countries that offer positive value to the United States. America has no obligation to accept immigrants at all, but it does have a solemn duty to accept only legal immigrants whose presence will benefit the country and its citizens.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Repairing the damage of regulatory over-reach: so far, so good

Is the fact that overregulation kills economic growth one of the country’s best-kept secrets? Or is it perhaps that the effects of overregulation are not widely understood or discussed. With all that’s been going on – the tax bill, the government shutdown, everything President Donald Trump says, does, wears, tweets or thinks – showing the downside of too many regulations and too much government doesn’t attract nearly as much attentions as it should.

A huge number of Americans don’t understand how over-regulation negatively affects the economy, and quite a few subscribe to the idea that in order to keep greedy businesses in line, more regulation is needed. This condition provides bureaucrats and politicians to hurt the people they exist to serve by putting harmful regulations into effect.

Every regulation businesses have to follow costs them money, increases the cost of products and services to customers, and makes operating a business profitably more difficult. Every dollar spent on non-productive and unnecessary regulatory compliance is a dollar that can’t be used for higher wages, better equipment, expansion and other beneficial things.

Trump pledged to get rid of two existing regulations for every new regulation, which has never been done before. The actual reduction in regulations last year was even better than two for one, and the economy has shown its appreciation through job creation and higher GDP.

Maurice McTigue, Vice President of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, says that in addition to millions of Americans, many of those serving in Congress also don’t understand the economic effects of over-regulation. And he said “the pace of regulatory reform going on today is faster than at any time since the Reagan Administration.”

Research from Mercatus shows that if regulations since 1980 had just been held at that level, the economy would have been 25 percent larger by 2012. But regulations grew to the point that in 2012 the economy was $4 trillion smaller than it would otherwise have been. That works out to the equivalent of 32 million lost U.S. jobs.

If that lost $4 trillion was a country’s economy, it would be the fourth largest economy in the world, McTigue wrote.

One area where reducing regulations has had beneficial effects is in coal country. Last October Fox News reported coal production was down 31.5 percent over the last 10 years, but was up 7.8 percent to that point in 2017.

Politifact noted that Fox had under reported the numbers, using projections rather than actual figures, which show production was actually 12 percent higher than at the same point the year before, and the decline over the last 10 years was closer to 33 percent.

“According to the Energy Information Agency, West Virginia coal production year-to-date is up 20 percent over the same period last year,” West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney wrote last November, and we appear on target to possibly cross the 100 million ton level for the full year.”

“Even so, we remain a long way from the 170 million tons we produced in 2008, before the Obama Administration began its war on coal. And we may never get back to those levels, because most of those 400 coal-fired power generation units Obama shut down with his regulatory assault have been torn down, left to rust or converted to natural gas,” Raney continued.

“The good news is the world never stopped recognizing the value of coal, and 2,200 new coal-fired power plants are scheduled to go online between now and 2040. Many of those plants will look to import their supplies and we plan to be the source of much of that coal.”

“But none of this would be possible without the 2016 election of President Trump,” Raney acknowledged. “He has one-by-one rescinded every anti-coal regulation enacted by the Obama Administration, and he continues to do more. Just recently, his Department of Energy issued a report that said it is vital for the U.S. to preserve its coal fleet for the sake of the stability and reliability of the electric grid.”

In a state as badly damaged by regulatory warfare as any in the nation, West Virginia is dramatic evidence of both the horrors over-regulation causes and the benefits of getting rid of harmful government interference. West Virginia’s unemployment rate has fallen from double digits in late 2016 to 4.4 percent in November.

Think what you will of Donald Trump, but he has been in business for a while, and he has been successful at it. And because of his experience, he knows that a prosperous nation needs successful and thriving businesses to provide needed and wanted goods and services, as well as the jobs that provide people the money they need to purchase those things they need and want, and to live a decent life.

Regulatory reform and improvements to the tax system have already produced positive results in the economy, pushing unemployment to much lower levels than they have been for a while and pushing productivity to respectable levels after many years of unsatisfactory performance.

We should be appropriately pleased with the good things happening in our country today, not overly critical of the person who has allowed them to occur.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Someone needs to save Trump’s critics from destroying themselves

One of the favored attacks on President Donald Trump by his detractors is that he is mentally unstable and emotionally unfit for the office. This perspective has attracted quite a following, and has grown to include fears of doom and catastrophe. And, in order to protect the nation from the eventual horrible fate he will bring about, a few congressional Democrats have taken the unusual step of suggesting the invoking of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove Trump from office.

Surprisingly, some of these detractors are mental health professionals. In a book titled “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” twenty-seven psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health experts – including Yale professor of psychiatry, Dr. Bandy X. Lee – argue that, in Trump’s case, their moral and civic “duty to warn” America supersedes professional neutrality, according to comments about the book on McMillan Publisher’s Website. They then explore Trump’s symptoms and potentially relevant diagnoses to find a complex, if also dangerously mad, man. 

Trying to provide some balance to this bandwagon rolling out-of-control downhill is Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, who appeared on “Fox and Friends,” the Fox News Network’s morning show. Dershowitz, a long-time Democrat, termed the speculation about Trump’s mental state as “very dangerous.” "I have railed against the criminalization of political difference," he said.

"The psychiatrist-ization of political difference is much more dangerous,” he said. “It's what they did in Russia, it's what they did in China, it's what they did in apartheid South Africa. If you don't like a candidate, first lock them (sic) up. If you can't lock him up, commit him to a mental hospital.”

Dershowitz provided some badly needed instruction to the detractors, explaining that the 25th Amendment "is designed for when somebody has a stroke or somebody is unconscious, perhaps what happened when President [Woodrow] Wilson was president. He had a serious stroke. It's not designed for differences about a person's emotional makeup."

He also explained to them that since the vice president is the one to actually invoke the 25th Amendment, Vice President Mike Pence likely would not do so, and if he did and the president disputed the matter, which Trump undoubtedly would, then it would have to be supported in a vote by two-thirds of both houses of Congress.

"It would happen only if any president, I'm not talking about a particular one, had a major psychotic break," said Dershowitz. "Look, we once had a secretary of defense, his name is [James] Forrestal, he jumped out of the window of the Walter Reed Center. He thought the communists were coming after him."

No doubt some of the detractors imagine that Trump has similar visions, however, the product of their imagination about his imagination is well short of actionable evidence.

Regarding the armchair, arms-length diagnosis of mental instability by mental health professionals, the American Psychiatric Association has properly condemned it, and publicly admonished those who indulge in it.

"We at the APA call for an end to psychiatrists providing professional opinions in the media about public figures whom they have not examined, whether it be on cable news appearances, books, or in social media," the APA wrote. "Arm-chair psychiatry or the use of psychiatry as a political tool is the misuse of psychiatry and is unacceptable and unethical."

We should expect professionals to embrace the ethical demands of their profession, but alas, we now see that some mental health professionals have joined the parade of people who have abandoned professional ethics for political reasons.

This is not the first time for the mental health profession. Forty-five years ago, in 1973, the Goldwater Rule came was created. “The Goldwater Rule [Section 7.3 in the Principles of Medical Ethics with Annotations Especially Applicable to Psychiatry] ... makes it unethical for a psychiatrist to render a professional opinion to the media about a public figure unless the psychiatrist has examined the person and has proper authorization to provide the statement,” Dr. Saul Levin, the APA’s CEO and medical director, said in a statement. “APA stands behind this rule.”

And to add to the embarrassment of a public rebuke by the APA, the American Medical Association delivered a second scorching dressing-down. "A proper psychiatric evaluation requires more than a review of television appearances, tweets and public comments," the AMA wrote.

"Psychiatrists are medical doctors; evaluating mental illness is no less thorough than diagnosing diabetes or heart disease. The standards in our profession require review of medical and psychiatric history and records and a complete examination of mental status."

It appears more and more as if the worst thing about Donald Trump is his talent for creating enemies. A large number of people in government agencies and Congress, as well as people outside government, dislike him and/or his behavior, and they possess a low regard for their professional standards and ethics. They are ruled by their emotions, and that failure of character allows them to willingly destroy their professional credibility by going after Trump.

The 64-dollar question that now begs an answer is, exactly who really exhibits mental instability, Trump or many of his critics?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Who is more unstable? Trump, or his critics?

After the election Trump’s most ardent critics set sail for sunny and warm climes, armed and ready to criticize his every move. But they boarded the wrong ship and now are headed where the Titanic rests.

Trump, they say, is crass, stupid, dangerous, mentally unfit, etc., and their reactions to him are exercises in petulance, whining, stomping of feet, boohooing, and even releasing real tears in their fits of hellish pique.

Their feel-good, though unfulfilled, dreams of a quick impeachment demonstrate just how irrational their reactions are. Full-on obstruction and subversion may make their over-reactions abate temporarily, but their antics interfere with important national operations, damaging the very nation that they say they are acting to save.  What sensible people do is sit back, shut up, and do an objective analysis of what has happened in the nation since the man the American people elected took office, overlooking the petty objectionable aspects in favor of the positive reality.

Given the disgraceful performance of the mainstream “news” media, most of the good stuff that has occurred suffers from a lack of air (time) and ink, so many or most Americans have been kept in the dark by the “professionals” whose duty it is to keep them well informed.

And the anti-Trump media looks foolish, trying in vain to explain to their audience something that they themselves are incapable of understanding. Donald Trump doesn’t do things in the way they think is essential, so he must be wrong. The idea that “different is not necessarily wrong or bad” is a concept far beyond their narrow understanding of things.

Despite the disbelief and ill wishes, good things are happening with Trump as president.

For example, the number of federal employees has fallen, by as much as 71,000, according to one report, a good start to restoring government to its proper size and function. Many of these employees left because of their dislike of Trump.

Personnel reductions often have negatives attached to them. Large organizations may suffer discord at first, requiring remaining personnel to do more, which is not always eagerly accepted, even when employees didn’t have enough to do to begin with.

Too few people might lead to over-working existing personnel, and/or falling behind on the mission. Having too many people allows for periods for employees to be non-productive, or worse, to do “work” where and/or when there is no real demand for it. In government this condition frequently results in malicious behavior, such as the government badgering people for political reasons because there were too many employees with too much time on their hands.

This was likely the case when IRS employees had so little real and necessary work to do that they had time for misfeasance, targeting and harassing conservative applicants for non-profit status, while approving liberal applicants easily and quickly.

“Of 624 key political positions requiring Senate confirmation, just 240 were confirmed” as of mid-December, The Washington Post reported. The story added that the process was stalled by a slow recruitment and vetting process, and drawn-out Senate confirmation schedules.

However, on the Laura Ingraham radio program in November, Trump explained the businessman’s sensible perspective: “I tell my people, ‘Where you don’t need to fill slots, don’t fill them.’ ”

Called “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” the reactions to Trump as president fall clearly into the realm of madness. While much of the media ignores the positive developments in Trump’s first year, they also have ignored how all the insane predictions from his irrational critics have not occurred.

Predictions such as that the stock market would crash if Trump won; the opposite of which has occurred. Or, that civilization would end, but it still exists and is no worse off, except for the anti-Trump maniacs. Or this one, one that many wish had come true: that celebrities who threatened to leave the U.S. are still here.

The pot calls the kettle black, as his enemies accuse Trump of being crazy. A long and objective look in a mirror might help them. If not that, then a face-to-face evaluation by a licensed (and competent) mental health practitioner might be the answer.

And, the Real Clear Politics average of polling shows that on Inauguration Day 2017, Obamacare’s approval flipped from negative to positive, and has remained there since. And that is just one such issue where support and opposition have flipped since Trump took office.

“The psychology is easy. I don’t like the guy. If he says two plus two is four, I’m going to make it five. That’s human nature,” said Republican Party strategist and pollster Michael McKenna. “The message and the messenger are inextricably linked.”

So, in the confused mind of McKenna, something is only good enough for his support if he likes the person who proposed it, regardless of what the issue is and its intrinsic value to the country. Does this not support the use of the term “unhinged” as applied to many of Trump’s critics?

Trump’s enemies must have enormous egos to believe that their dislike for him is more important than professional ethics and standards, or thoughtful evaluation of issues. So long as this is the standard for Trump’s opposition, the country is in trouble.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Democrats distort tax bill for political purposes

The struggle among Congressional Republicans to design a tax reform bill was an arduous process, with constant opposition and obstruction from Democrats, and more than a little internal discord, as Republicans objected to some features that were contained in the bill and displeased that other features were missing. Now that it has been completed and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has been signed into law, whether what Congress produced is good or bad depends upon whom you ask, as is always the case in political matters.

It should surprise no one that liberals/Democrats would not support a bill that lowers tax rates on their hated enemies, the rich and the corporate world, even though it lowered taxes on everyone else or nearly everyone else, too.

These days a perfect bill is virtually impossible, since they most always are hundreds of pages long, and are contain numerous elements, some of which can be guaranteed to evoke opposition. Add to that the idea of transforming the maddeningly complex tax system, and the possibility of a smooth and easy passage quickly disappears.

Predictably, Congressional Democrats are busy using their own special talents to distort the bill to generate public opposition among their constituents.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, was shown on YouTube expelling copious amounts of carbon dioxide on the Senate floor: “[T]his bill doesn't provide middle-class tax relief, it ultimately raises taxes on more than 60 percent of working families in this country,” concerning what might happen years in the future.

She also imagines that Republicans “know that this bill won't raise wages for working people.” Apparently, she hadn’t heard that several large businesses have just raised their lowest employee hourly rate to $15, and others have given $1,000 bonuses. Warren doesn’t let the facts get in the way of a good rant.

But she was actually right one thing: there was “no input from a single Democrat,” since her party refused to participate.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, even referred to the bill as the “end of the world” and “Armageddon.” No enemy of hyperbole, she also stated on the House floor that it was “an all-out looting of America” and “the worst bill to ever come to the floor of the House.”

She charged with a straight face that the bill “raises taxes on 86 million middle-class households” and “hands a breathtaking 83 percent of its benefits to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.”

Pelosi recently tweeted: “Shamefully, Republicans were cheering against the children as they rob from their future and ransack the middle class to reward the rich #GOPTaxScam.”

She has suddenly gotten religion about spending, but apparently doesn’t remember that while she was Speaker of the House over $5 trillion was added to the national debt.

And Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, blathered, “Under this bill the working class, middle class and upper middle class get skewered while the rich and wealthy corporations make out like bandits. It is just the opposite of what America needs, and Republicans will rue the day they pass this.”

And this fantasy: “Today, the President gave himself an early Christmas present - an estimated $11 million tax cut. Who paid for it? My middle class constituents in New York,” the vast majority of whom will see their taxes lowered.

What happens when their constituents find out that this trio is lying to them?

Offering his two cents worth, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, let loose with this bit of idiocy: “Nearly 13 million Americans are expected to lose their health insurance under the tax bill due to the loss of the individual mandate,” Sanders yammered.

The tax bill removes the mandate to buy health insurance; it does not take away anyone’s insurance. The only people who will lose coverage under the bill are those who decide not to buy it. That is called “freedom,” a concept Sanders and those on the far Left don’t understand.

Any bill of this size and complexity will contain something that nearly everybody can find fault with. In such circumstances the adage “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” is sound advice for all of us. And we need to remember that there is ample time to identify problem areas in the bill and address them.

With that in mind, here is part of a summary from The Heritage Foundation that explains important aspects of the bill: The U.S. tax code is sorely in need of reform. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is the most sweeping update to the U.S. tax code in more than 30 years. The bill lowers corporate and individual tax rates for the vast majority of Americans, doubles the standard deduction, expands the child tax credit, and repeals the individual health care mandate.

That last sentence identifies measures that are good for the general economy and for most all Americans. Putting more money in the hands of the people will expand economic activity, thereby increasing demand for goods and services, and creating jobs and improving lives.

Congressional Democrats don’t like the tax bill, because the worst thing for their election hopes is a good Republican economy.