Riff Raff: Observations, ketchup storage, more better writing, and immigrants

by Michael Tilley (mtilley@talkbusiness.net) 629 views 

Recently learned there are just two categories of Americans. You have those who refrigerate ketchup and those who don’t. Depending on who you ask, one group represents all that’s wrong with the country. At least no one is dumb enough to put ketchup on a good steak. When’s that medical marijuana become available?

It’s been a busy week for important phone calls. The president of the internet called and said Talk Business & Politics had billions and billions of hits in July, 30 times more than the New York Times and 5 times more than the most popular porn site.

The Pulitzer folks called. Said my writing was so very, very more better than all the others that I could legally grab people by the crotch.

The national Girl Scout leader called and said my cookie order was fantastic; the perfect mix of Samoas, Thin Mints and the things with peanut butter. The very, very best cookies, believe me. They said my order was the most bigly order ever. (By the way, spellcheck tried to change bigly to bigot.)

Jesus called. Said the answer is neither the egg or the fowl. Said something about Darwin. Or maybe not. Hard to understand. He spoke in Arabic. Doesn’t speak English, and has no useful skills other than basic carpentry and, according to stories passed down by popes and tyrants and monarchs and misogynists, moonlighting jobs of wine making and foot washing. Trump and Tom wouldn’t approve.

• Let’s stay with the theme of unbelievable. In Fort Smith, a couple of fellows on an advisory panel suggested dialing back the pace of development at Chaffee Crossing in order for the city to not spend so much on infrastructure. In case you didn’t know, it’s not good for folks to boost land values, create jobs and open new opportunities for commerce. One might make an argument about urban sprawl, but calling for a slower pace of growth is like not dieting for fear of having to buy new clothes. The good news is this panel has no authority. The bad news is the panel was appointed by the Fort Smith Board of Directors. Here’s an idea. Folks appointed to Fort Smith commissions must achieve a 70% score on an Economics 101 test.

• Let’s stay with the theme of unbelievable. Arkansas’ junior U.S. Senator and America’s insecure U.S. President want Congress to approve an immigration plan that does two major things. It reduces by at least 50% the number of immigrants annually allowed to enter the country. It would also narrow the criteria to block entry to those who don’t speak English and those with low work skills.

The legislation, Trump and Cotton know, appeals to a political base motivated by the myths of xenophobia. They want us to believe immigration is out of hand and bad for America. They take jobs away from Americans. They come to America only for government handouts. They are all rapists and murderers and crooks, remember? The good news is that this legislation is not likely to make it to the President’s desk – which would allow the President’s resorts to keep hiring low-skilled immigrants.

• Let’s move to a theme of changing beliefs. No matter where you put your ketchup, it seems the xenophobic base could find itself on the wrong side of history. A new Pew Research Center survey shows that 68% say America’s openness to foreigners “is a defining characteristic of the nation.”

“Although majorities across age groups believe that openness to foreigners is essential to who we are as a nation, this view is more prevalent among younger people. About eight-in-ten (81%) adults younger than 30 say this, compared with about six-in-ten (61%) of those ages 50 and older,” Pew noted in the report.

• For the sake of the economy, let’s hope the 81% win the day. Census data shows that the total foreign-born population in 2015 was 13.4% of the U.S. population, below the historic high of 14.8% in 1890. A 2015 Inc. magazine story by Adam Bluestein provides a few benefit examples of how the benefits of immigration far outweigh even the perceived negatives.

Immigrant businesses are 60% more likely to export. The U.S. economy needs more exports to fuel economic growth. Immigrant-owned businesses pay an estimated $126 billion in wages per year, employing 1 in 10 Americans who work for private companies. From 1996 to 2011, the business startup rate of immigrants increased by more than 50% while the startup rate among those born in America declined by 10%. Immigrants are more than twice as likely to start a business as native-born citizens. Immigrant founders started 52% of all new Silicon Valley companies between 1995 and 2005. The data clearly points out that immigrants without advanced education are far more entrepreneurial than Americans who have college degrees.

Instead of reforming immigration policy to take advantage of the economic benefits, Bluestein said “the public debate frequently devolves into shouting matches over whether people should be deported and how quickly.”

Bluestein added: “In 2010, immigrant-owned businesses generated more than $775 billion in sales. If immigrant America were a stock, you’d be an idiot not to buy it.”

Arkansas’ junior U.S. Senator and America’s insecure U.S. President aren’t buying it.