ZipDialog Roundup for Thursday, August 3

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

Trump proposes new immigration bill; uses point-based system to favor those with high skills; will cut total legal immigration in half (ABC News)

The bill aims to prioritize workers’ skills over family ties, and amounts to the “most significant reform to our immigration system in half a century,” Trump said. The goal of the bill would be to knock down the number of legal immigrants admitted into the U.S. each year from about 1 million to 500,000 by 2027.

The RAISE bill would cut out the four-tiered family immigration category for green cards, paving way for a new merit-based system that prioritizes high-skilled workers who have a high level of English and “entrepreneurial initiative.” –ABC News

Comment: The two central elements of the bill are inherently separable. Shifting to a merit-based system does not entail raising or lowering the number of people legally admitted. If lower-skilled workers are still needed for some jobs, then an amendment could admit them on a temporary basis–but only if there was some tough measures to ensure they left after that period. Right now, there aren’t.

Bipartisan support? Not a chance. The Democrats are already lining up to say how racist it is. It isn’t.

What’s interesting is that the cutbacks will clear bolster employment opportunities and wages for lower-income Americans–precisely the people Democrats claim they want to help. Unfortunately for Democrats, it cuts into Hispanic immigration, or, to put it differently, into the Identity Politics that is now the true heart of the party. Forced to choose between Identity Politics and Lower-income workers (including many blacks and Hispanics), the Democrats are going with Identity.

Interesting question: will African-American Democrats go along? My bet is that they will, but that they will try to keep a low profile to avoid attention from their voters (who will be harmed). Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders will say, “If blacks and Hispanic members split on this, we’ll lose our leverage.”

Actually, they don’t have any leverage. The real leverage will come from the US Chamber of Commerce, and it will be on Republicans, some of whom will cave.

⇒ Followup: What Did the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) leaders say today? Crickets

I checked the Twitter feeds for these officers of the CBC:

None tweeting anything about the immigration proposal. Most of the other members, even the most voluble, such as Maxine Waters, maintained twitter silence on immigration.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee was the only prominent CBC member I found who weighed in. Her tweet lays out the likely response of African-American Democrats: We hate Trump, so we hate his immigration bill.

 Venice “Invaded by Tourists, Risks Becoming ‘Disneyland on the Sea’” (New York Times)


  • It’s true, but what’s new? Mainly increasing numbers of “day trippers” and stops by large cruise boats.
  • Venice has earned its living from tourists like these for about 400 years. Nothing new here. Nobody’s rowing ships to the Ottoman Empire anymore.
  • The solution is easy: charge day trippers to come during peak months. You see, NYT, it would work sort of like you charging more for the Sunday paper. . .
  • The more difficult problem is rising sea levels, which now flood Venetian streets and squares with depressing regularity.

 Without exactly apologizing for a misleading story, the NYT now says that the DOJ is focusing on discrimination against Asian-Americans by affirmative action programs (New York Times)

The NYT also reports on the Asian-American lawsuit against Harvard. Harvard is not alone; there are similar suits pending against Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, and Penn.

Comment: It is blindingly obvious, at least to me, that these universities discriminate against Asian-Americans. Just look at their percentages (15-25%), compared to about 50% at Berkeley, which is legally prohibited from such discrimination–and would have a hard time doing it politically in California. Granted, California has more Asian-Americans, but the proportions at the Ivies are out of whack.

My guess is that the admissions departments say what they did about Jews 60 years ago: “We just have too many of these students who score 800 in math, 700 in verbal, and play the violin. They just aren’t ‘well-rounded.’ ” No matter that these students’ parents, like Jewish parents of an earlier generation, had modest incomes, encouraged their bright kids to study hard, and then watched as Harvard and Princeton smacked them down for far less-qualified students.

The only argument in Harvard’s favor is one they would never use: we are a private university and, until the government nationalizes us, we can set our own damned admissions standards, even if you think they are unfair.

The government’s response, “Hey, buddy, nice genetic research program you got there. Hate to see all the money taken away from it.” That, of course, is how the government enforces its Title IX rules on athletic programs.

 NAACP issues travel advisory, warning blacks it is dangerous for them to travel to Missouri  (The Root)

State NAACP leaders told the [Kansas City] Star that the decision to issue the advisory was made after recent legislation passed in the state which makes it harder to win discrimination suits, the longtime and continued racial disparities in traffic enforcement, and a number of incidents that exemplify harm coming to both minority residents and minority visitors to the state. –The Root

 White House finally admits those calls to Trump from the Boy Scouts and President of Mexico didn’t actually happen (New York Times)

Comment: If only we had a cliché to describe that thing when somebody says something he knows is not true, and then does it over and over.



  • Christina H
    August 3, 2017

    The comment on immigration restrictions seems to imply that all parties understand that curbing immigration will harm low-income workers, whether or not they admit it. This is simply untrue. Democrats (and some intelligent conservatives) sincerely believe that the current level of legal immigration puts virtually no downward pressure on the wages of low-skilled American workers.

    As a researcher in a social science yourself, I’m sure you’ll acknowledge that the people qualified to comment on immigration policy’s effect on the labor market are labor economists. The majority of economists who’ve studied the issue side with the Democrats on this one, basing their arguments mainly on seminal study by the economist David Card, which can be found here:

    There are well-respected economists who disagree, and who would argue that low-wage American workers are significantly affected by the current level of legal immigration. Among them is the famous George Borjas, of Harvard. So Trump’s policy isn’t ridiculous by any means.

    Still, your contention that Democrats themselves “know” that they’re hurting low-wage workers is incorrect and unfair.

    • Christina H
      August 3, 2017

      My comment as written is confusing–I meant that Prof. Lipson stated that FAILING to curb immigration would harm low-income workers.

      It’s also worth noting that economists mostly agree that focusing on high-skilled immigration is a very good idea, although it’s possible to do that without cutting #s. An influx of skilled workers actually raises the wages of Americans in the industries they flood into, counterintuitively enough. They also have a much easier time assimilating culturally, and they help solve the demographic problems that an aging native born US population poses. An unmixed blessing from a policy standpoint (unless you believe, like Rep. Steve King and the white nationalist wing of the GOP, that “we can’t rebuild Western culture with other people’s babies.”)

  • Mark Zanger
    August 3, 2017

    The term in psychology for lies where you should know you will be caught is primary process lying.

    Worth a google.

    All good Chicagolanders know black-Latin split, but here is another place Trump has rushed past tacticians by using white identity politics to unite both minorities, against Republican efforts to make headway, more consistantly toward Hispanic voters. The problem is to get out of primaries with that, hence the great interest in Governor Sandoval.

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