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Published: Sun, 17 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0500

Last Build Date: Sun, 17 Dec 2017 03:23:42 -0500


How Using Eminent Domain to Seize Land for a Border Wall Harms American Property Owners

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 16:51:00 -0500

Building Trump's much-ballyhooed border wall will requiring using eminent domain to forcibly take the land of numerous property owners. If that happens, many of the property owners probably will not get anything like adequate compensation. A just-published study conducted by ProPublica and the Texas Tribune analyzed over 400 condemnations undertaken as a result of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which authorized the construction of a much smaller barrier than Trump's proposed wall. Here is their summary of their findings: An investigation by ProPublica and the Texas Tribune shows that [the Department of] Homeland Security cut unfair real estate deals, secretly waived legal safeguards for property owners, and ultimately abused the government's extraordinary power to take land from private citizens. The major findings: Homeland Security circumvented laws designed to help landowners receive fair compensation. The agency did not conduct formal appraisals of targeted parcels. Instead, it issued low-ball offers based on substandard estimates of property values. Larger, wealthier property owners who could afford lawyers negotiated deals that, on average, tripled the opening bids from Homeland Security. Smaller and poorer landholders took whatever the government offered — or wrung out small increases in settlements. The government conceded publicly that landowners without lawyers might wind up shortchanged, but did little to protect their interests. The Justice Department bungled hundreds of condemnation cases. The agency took property without knowing the identity of the actual owners. It condemned land without researching facts as basic as property lines. Landholders spent tens of thousands of dollars to defend themselves from the government's mistakes. The government had to redo settlements with landowners after it realized it had failed to account for the valuable water rights associated with the properties, an oversight that added months to the compensation process. On occasion, Homeland Security paid people for property they did not actually own. The agency did not attempt to recover the misdirected taxpayer funds, instead paying for land a second time once it determined the correct owners. Nearly a decade later, scores of landowners remain tangled in lawsuits. The government has already taken their land and built the border fence. But it has not resolved claims for its value. The study's findings are consistent with previous research on takings compensation, which I summarized in Chapter 8 of my book on eminent domain, The Grasping Hand. Scholars have repeatedly found that many property owners get less than the "fair market value" compensation required by Supreme Court precedent, and that this is particularly likely for those who are poor, legally unsophisticated, and lacking in political influence. Even those who do get fair market value compensation still often are not fully compensated for all their losses, because many owners attach "subjective value" to their land above and beyond its market price. Consider, for example, a homeowner who has lived in the same neighborhood for a long time, or a small business with established customer "good will" in the area that may be hard to replicate elsewhere. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump claimed that victims of eminent domain have nothing to complain about because "when eminent domain is used on somebody's property, that person gets a fortune." The history of the Secure Fence Act takings - and many other condemnations - proves otherwise. If it were really true that having your property condemned is a great way to make a fortune, the Donald Trumps of the world would be lobbying the government to take their property, instead of lobbying to condemn that of the politically weak in order to build parking lots for their casinos. If Congress allocates money to build Trump's border wall, the abuses that occurred with the Secure Fence Act takings are likely to be repeated on a much larger scale. Sadly, this would be yet another of the many ways in w[...]

Trump's Executive Order on Sanctuary Cities Flunks the Constitutional Test

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 09:35:00 -0500

(image) A federal judge in California recently declared President Donald Trump's executive order denying federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities to be unconstitutional. According to the opinion of U.S. District Judge William Orrick in Santa Clara v. Trump, and the related case of San Francisco v. Trump, the president's order violates multiple constitutional strictures, including the 10th Amendment and the separation of powers.

In a new op-ed for The Orange County Register, I explain why the judge got it right. Trump's executive order clearly violates the Constitution in several ways. Here's a portion of my argument:

The Trump administration may not want to hear it, but sanctuary cities are protected by both the Constitution and Supreme Court precedent. For starters, as the late Justice Antonin Scalia explained in Printz v. United States (1997), "the Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States' officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program."

In other words, Trump's executive order flunks the 10th Amendment test that Scalia spelled out in Printz. State and local officials have every right to refuse to enforce federal immigration laws….

Trump's executive order [also] flunks the text of the Constitution itself, which, as Judge Orrick points out, "vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President."

Open your copy of the Constitution. You will find that the federal spending power is located in Article I, Section 8, which deals with the limited and enumerated powers of Congress. The limited and enumerated powers of the president are spelled out in Article II.

What this means is that Trump's executive order on sanctuary cities seeks to usurp a core congressional function. That makes it an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers.

Read the whole thing here.

Mexican Radio in Los Angeles Crashes—And Down With It Comes An Anti-Immigrant Fable

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 11:22:00 -0500

"Spanish-Language Broadcasters Take a Fall," read a front-page headline in the December 3 edition of the Los Angeles Business Journal. In just the past year, according to the accompanying article, the audience share of Spanish-language radio stations in the L.A. market fell two points, from 21.6 to 19.4, while their English-language counterparts saw an increase from a 56 to 58 share. It was a "dramatic drop for several outlets that spent years at or near the top," according to the paper. One of the big factors: a "shift in preferences among younger listeners in Spanish-speaking communities for English-speaking media." The story hasn't gotten much traction outside of media circles. But it's a big one in the continued assimilation saga of Mexicans in the United States. And it's one giant chinga tu madre to anti-immigrant types who have spent the last 25 years decrying the Mexican takeover of "American" airwaves in Southern California. One of their main proofs that unassimilable, backwards Mexican culture had taken over the Southland is the continued switchover of crappy pop and adult alternative stations to Latino formats. First they flooded our schools, then they took over welfare. Now their tuba music is all over the dial, and it probably plays hidden messages about how to sacrifice gringos with an obsidian knife! But L.A. radio station owners don't flip formats because of Reconquista, but because it makes business sense. Mexicans, like all people, are consumers. And Mexicans change their tastes as well—you know, like other people. So the industry keeps evolving. This is a story I've had the advantage of growing up in. I remember a January 6, 1993, Los Angeles Times story that reverberated across the country. KLAX-FM 97.9 ("La Equis"—The X) had topped the local Arbitron ratings with a formula used by all stations in the United States for decades: genius marketing, wisecracking on-air personalities, and a hot new genre that set it apart from rivals. Except this time, the language was Español. And the music was Mexican. KLAX's victory was so unexpected that classic rock station KLSX 97.1 "expressed concern" to the Times "that some of their audience may have gotten the call letters mixed up and that those listeners may have been attributed [in the Arbitron ratings] to KLAX." It was a line repeated by Howard Stern, who saw his reign as king of the L.A. airwaves toppled by what he dismissed as "some Mexican station." (KLAX, the Times reported, responded by sending Stern "a funeral wreath with a note reading: 'Thanks for helping us remain No. 1.'") KLAX's win started a good 15 years of Spanish-language domination of the Southern California airwaves, as other stations emerged to take turns at the top. The same began to happen across the United States. Smart programmers took advantage of changing demographics, and Mexican-Americans no longer ashamed of their ethnic background (see: Linda Ronstadt recording a mariachi album in 1987) wanted to listen to genres like banda sinaloense, pasito duranguense, and rock en Español that were previously available in el Norte only live or on pirated CDs. The influence of Spanish-language radio in the United States reached its peak in 2006, when DJs from across the country set aside their rivalries and urged their respective listeners to take to the streets in support of amnesty; the resulting protest marches were the largest in American history until the Women's March earlier this year. I remember this era well. My cousins and I had all grown up with the music of our parents and liked it enough, but we never thought of it as cool. KLAX changed all that. Suddenly, my older cousins went to quinceañeras decked out in tejanas (Stetsons), silk shirts, and cintos piteados (leather belts with arabesque designs). I'll spare you the visuals of me dressed like this as a gawky 13-year-old nerd, but I can say this: All along, we primarily spoke English and listened to hip hop at home. To anti-immigrant zealots, our choice of music and dress be[...]

Don’t Freak Out About Falling Fertility Rates

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 13:45:00 -0500

Lyman Stone, an economist at United States Department of Agriculture, is extremely worried about America's fertility rates. In a new Medium post, Stone highlights "the great baby bust of 2017" and warns that "fertility is falling faster than you realize." But he fails to make a convincing case that recent fertility-rate declines are something the U.S. should panic about. Because even if recent trends are irreversible—and that's a big if—the U.S. is uniquely positioned to solve population problems via immigration. Using the most recent data, Stone presents an interesting snapshot of American births in the infancy of the Trump era. In 2015, America's "total fertility rate" (TFR)—the number of children per woman projected by the end of their childbearing years if current age-specific birth rates hold—was 1.84. This dropped slightly to 1.82 last year, and was down to 1.77 for the first six months of 2017. Other countries that have experienced similar drops—Canada and Japan in the 1970s, France in the 1970s and 1980s—have failed to get back to replacement-rate fertility of 2.1, notes Stone. Pro-natal policies can only do so much, and sometimes fail entirely (something Ron Bailey explored here last week). Yet immigration has been able to combat fertility replacement rate problems in France. And Canada "managed to stave off serious population risk" thanks to its liberal immigration policies. So why, if our population plummets, can America not simply import more people? Even if our reputation has suffered some recent blows, there are still no shortage of people from all around the world clamoring to come here. Immigration from pretty much any target group we desire—including women of child-bearing age or families that already have young children—could easily be ramped up should our population require it. In a follow-up post, Stone admits that immigration can solve some fertility-replacement problems, but suggests that because immigration has been down lately, "the U.S. is likely to have underwhelming amounts of immigration in the future." Thus, "this lever just won't get you as much change as it used to" and isn't a viable solution. Stone treats immigration levels as some sort of immutable trend, rather than a direct result of governmental policies. Changing these policies may be politically difficult, but it's preferable to the total cultural and societal preference overhaul Stone recommends. And should our demographics become truly dire, immigration reform is likely to pick up steam. Demographic doom is far from certain. As Bailey pointed out, "fertility is falling because people are making trade-offs between having more children and more education, more career advancement, more disposable income, and more leisure," as well, "so [people] can invest more in helping the children they do have to lead successful lives. Falling fertility is a sign that increased wealth and technological progress have given increasing numbers of people greater freedom to decide if, when, how, and with whom they want to reproduce." This is a good thing for the American economy and promises foreseen and unseen positive effects that could offset the negatives of a depressed fertility rate. In terms of fertility downturns, America has seen much worse. While he worries we will never recover from our fertility recession, Stone presents fertility fluctuation data that is fairly normal in modern times. We all know about the mid-20th Century baby boom that reversed 130 years of near-steadily falling fertility rates. But after rising to 3.27 in 1947, the total fertility rate dropped down to 3.09 in 1950. Then it shot up to 3.77 in 1957—almost on par with 1900-1901 levels—before falling below three in 1965. By 1976, the total fertility rate was down to 1.74, an all-time American low. But then things started to reverse course slowly and choppily throughout the 1980s, climbing back over two in 1990. Then five more years of fertility rate declines and a decade of[...]

Supreme Court Allows Trump's Travel Ban to Go Into Full Effect

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 12:25:00 -0500

On Monday, the Supreme Court allowed the latest version of President Donald Trump's "travel ban" to go into full effect while two legal challenges to it work their way through the courts. The latest version of the ban, issued in September, bars most travel from eight separate countries: Iran, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Libya, Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela. It was originally supposed to take effect on October 18, but a federal judge blocked it on October 17. The Supreme Court's decision marks the first time the ban—the first iteration of which was issued in January—will be allowed to be fully implemented. "We are pleased to have defended this order and heartened that a clear majority [of the] Supreme Court has allowed the President's lawful proclamation protecting our country's national security to go into full effect," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in written statement after the decision. Two justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, expressed reservations about the decision. Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants' Rights Project, calls the ruling "unfortunate." "President Trump's anti-Muslim prejudice is no secret—he has repeatedly confirmed it, including just last week on Twitter," Jadwat said in a statement. "We continue to stand for freedom, equality, and for those who are unfairly being separated from their loved ones." Jadwat's group is leading one of the lawsuits against the travel ban, arguing that the policy amounts to unconstitutional religious discrimination. A similar suit was filed by the State of Hawaii. The Trump administration has had to continually defend its travel restrictions since it first issued the infamous "Muslim ban" on January 27. That version of the order prohibited travel from seven Muslim-majority nations, even for those with valid U.S. visas. It also put a freeze on the U.S. refugee program, and it banned Syrian refugees indefinitely. The new policy's rollout was disastrous. Both travelers and immigration officials were confused by the new rules, and mass protests broke out at airports nationwide. A federal judge issued an emergency injunction against the ban one day after Trump signed it. In March, Trump tried again, issuing a slightly scaled back order that exempted visa holders. The new ban also took Iraq off the list of prohibited countries, and it reduced the hold on Syrian refugee resettlement to 120 days. Multiple states sued over this version as well, and a federal judge temporarily halted its implementation on March 16, setting off a months-long legal battle. In June the Supreme Court allowed a limited version of Trump's travel ban to go into effect, while upholding lower court restrictions on some of its provisions. Finally, on September 24, Trump scrapped the March version of his travel ban as well, issuing a yet more scaled-back version of the policy. And that brings us to where we are now. The Supreme Court's decision yesterday did not rule on the merits of either lawsuit, both of which will proceed apace. Hawaii will make its case before a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel Wednesday. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals will consider the American Civil Liberties Union's case this Friday. Even if this version is ultimately ruled legally sound, that doesn't mean it's good policy. As Reason's Shikha Dalmia wrote in September, the ban is "cheap, cruel, and senseless." The purported reason for it, after all, is to keep Americans safe from terrorism. But as Dalmia explained, Americans' risk of dying in a terrorist attack perpetrated by a foreigner on U.S. soil is one in 3.6 million per year (and this includes the deaths that took place during the 9/11 attacks, whose massive casualty count is something of an outlier). The chance of being struck by a refugee is even lower. But the real kicker is that migrants from the banned countries have killed precisely zero Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and 2015[...]

American Professor Charged With Crime for Giving Speech to Danish Parliament

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 13:20:00 -0500

(image) Given the ugly turn U.S. immigration policies have taken recently, it's almost refreshing to be reminded that other governments can be bad on the issue as well. Take Denmark, whose immigration authorities are charging an American professor, Brooke Harrington, with a crime for giving academic lectures.

Inside Higher Education reports that Harrington, a professor of economic sociology at Copenhagen Business School, was charged with taking on illegal side jobs for giving speeches before Danish parliamentarians, tax officials, and law students at the University of Copenhagen.

This, officials say, violates her work permit, which only allows her to work at Copenhagen Business School.

"If I'd known what I was getting into, I really would have had second thoughts about coming here. Anyone in higher education considering moving here should be aware they'll have to confront this," Harrington told Inside Higher Education.

The charges came the same day the Danish Society for Education and Business gave Harrington an award for disseminating her research.

Harrington has had a long academic career studying international finance and tax havens, with teaching stints at Brown and Princeton. Her work has taken her to over 18 different countries, and she's been tenured at Copenhagen Business School since 2010.

If convicted of these charges, all this could be put at risk. Under Danish immigration law, those convicted of working illegally in the country are barred from seeking permanent residency for a period of 15 years. A criminal conviction would also make it difficult for her to continue traveling and working abroad.

"For someone who does international research...this would literally be the end of my career," Harrington told Inside Higher Ed.

Harrington is not the only person caught up in Denmark's crackdown on foreign educators working off-site. Police have contacted three other Copenhagen Business School employees for working outside the university, according to the Danish newspaper Politiken, although it is not clear whether charges were filed in these cases. The newspaper also notes that University of Copenhagen, Technical University of Denmark, and Aalborg University employees have all sanctioned for similar violations.

The charges have sparked controversy within the Danish academic community. The Rector of Copenhagen Business School, Per Holten-Andersen, issued a statement calling it "the worst form of bureaucracy. We stand 100 percent behind our employees who are experiencing problems and offer advice and support."

If convicted, Harrington will be expected to pay a 13,500 kroner ($2,100) fine.

The whole incident is a reminder that even in our connected, globalized world, there are a huge array of barriers to people living and working where they wish.

Why Trump Deserves to Lose in Federal Court on Sanctuary Cities

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 16:45:00 -0500

(image) A federal judge has declared President Donald Trump's executive order denying federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities to be unconstitutional. The judge got it right.

In his opinion this week in County of Santa Clara v. Trump, and the related case of City and County of San Francisco v. Trump, Judge William Orrick of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California found the president's order to be in violation of the 10th Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, and the constitutional separation of powers.

"The Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President, so the Executive Order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds," Judge Orrick wrote. "Further, the Tenth Amendment requires that conditions on federal funds be unambiguous and timely made; that they bear some relation to the funds at issue; and that they not be unduly coercive. Federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the President disapproves."

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Sanctuary cities are protected by both the Constitution and Supreme Court precedent. For starters, as the late Justice Antonin Scalia explained in Printz v. United States (1997), "the Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States' officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program." Put simply, Trump's executive order flunks the 10th Amendment test that Scalia spelled out in Printz.

Trump's executive order also flunks the test set forth by the Supreme Court in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (2012), which held that the federal government may not threaten to withhold existing funding from a state in an attempt to coerce that state into doing the feds' bidding. Such an effort would be an unconstitutional act of "economic dragooning."

Finally, Trump's executive order flunks the text of the Constitution itself, which, as Judge Orrick points out, "vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President." The limited and enumerated powers of the executive branch are spelled out in Article II; the federal spending power is located in Article I.

Related: Will Liberals Learn to Love the 10th Amendment?

How Trump's (and Obama's) Immigration Crackdowns Screw Over "Real" Americans: Podcast

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 14:00:00 -0500

As a candidate, President Donald Trump ran on a platform that called for the deportation of 11 million immigrants. In this, he was merely supercharging policies that had been put in place by his predecessors Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, all of whom targeted illegals among us in various ways and to varying degrees.

In a powerful, richly reported piece in the latest issue of Reason, Shikha Dalmia traveled to Arizona to investigate how Trump's war on illegal immigration is causing all sorts of collateral damage in the lives of American citizens and businessmen. There is, she argues, no way to surgically remove millions of people—most of whom are law-abiding and productive members of society—without causing incredible pain to those of us who have every legal right to go about our lives without interference from immigration and border agents.

The war on immigration has taken a great toll on unauthorized aliens, its targets. But it is also badly affecting Americans themselves, its intended beneficiaries. Those who think they can escape the crossfire because they are authorized, naturalized, or native-born, with American ancestors going back generations, are simply fooling themselves.

In the newest Reason Podcast, Nick Gillespie talks with Dalmia about the unexamined toll of immigration crackdowns on legal residents. From illegal imprisonment to politically motivated audits to invasive internal checkpoints, we all suffer when immigration policies and realities are way out of whack.

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Thomas Massie on Tax Reform, Shikha Dalmia on Deporting Americans

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 08:37:00 -0500

Today, the House of Representatives is expected to pass its long-awaited, short-gestated version of tax reform. Among the many questions associated with the bill is whether it will indeed add $1.7 trillion of new red ink to the national debt over the next decade (as per Congressional Budget Office guesstimates), or whether "dynamic scoring" and supply-side magic will whittle that figure down to insignificance; whether your average family of four will indeed save $1,182 on their next tax bill or whether the elimination of the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction will hammer tens of millions; and perhaps above all whether the Senate will pay even one bit of attention to the House's exertions (and conversely, whether the House will demand a conference committee if the Senate ever passes its version, or simply fold like it did when the upper chamber passed a 10-year budget resolution with a $1.5 trillion deficit hole). All of which can mean only one thing: Time to get #SassyWithMassie! Today in the first hour of my 9-12 a.m. ET stint guest-hosting Stand UP! with Pete Dominick on SiriusXM Insight (channel 121), I will have on Kentucky's libertarian Republican congressman, Thomas Massie, to see whether and why he still stands by his recent comments to CNN that "I am going to vote for this. This is a new experience for me to be excited about a bill." Later in the program I'll also have on National Review staffer Kevin Williamson, who initially characterized the GOP plan as "An Anti-Growth Tax Cut." Also on the program: * Reason's own Shikha Dalmia, to talk about her marvelous new magazine piece, "How Immigration Crackdowns Screw Up Americans' Lives: The war on immigration has taken a great toll on unauthorized aliens, its targets. But it is also badly affecting Americans themselves, its intended beneficiaries." * Daniel Miller, founder of the Psychedelic Society of Brooklyn, to talk about the 79th birthday of acid, and why dosing (or micro-dosing) may well be good for you. * Bethany Mandel of The Federalist, to talk about her New York Times op-ed from yesterday, "Roy Moore Reminds Me of My Rabbi." As ever, please call in any old time, at 1-877-974-7487.[...]

Brickbat: From the Farmhouse to the Outhouse

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 04:00:00 -0500

(image) Officials at Troy University, a state school in Alabama, have punished members of the FarmHouse fraternity for a skit in which frat members playing Donald Trump and Border Patrol agents chased a Mexican immigrant over a wall. Members of the fraternity were ordered to complete "education and training on the importance of unity, respect and diversity on campus" and perform "acts of service."

The Right's Retrograde Quest for a Homogeneous America

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 14:00:00 -0500

"Diversity is overrated." That argument against immigration—once confined to the alt-right gutter—has climbed its way into respectable right-wing circles in the Trump era. The idea is apparently that people have a natural desire to be around their own, so there is nothing wrong with limiting "mass" immigration, especially from non-European countries that are too dissimilar from America. And who does the right invoke when making its case? Not the Nazi philosopher Carl Schmitt, who famously argued that maintaining healthy polities requires treating cultural strangers like enemies. No, they are increasingly dusting off the work of liberal Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, whose research purports to show the pitfalls of diversity. The trouble is that Putnam oversold his own research—and conservatives are overselling Putnam. Putnam, whose 1990 landmark Bowling Alone bemoaning the growing atomization of Americans became a household name, published a paper 10 years ago showing that ethnically diverse communities in America suffered a loss of what he called "social capital" or solidarity. He studied 30,000 Americans across 41 communities — ranging from declining inner cities like Detroit, rural areas like South Dakota, and bustling metropolises like San Francisco. He found that regardless of income level or crime rate, the more diverse the community, the less it trusted not just other ethnic groups but also, remarkably, its own. People don't riot in the streets, he found, they vacate them, retreating, turtle like, into their homes to watch TV rather than participate in community activities or neighborhood projects. To some extent, this makes sense. It is incontrovertible that people are more comfortable with those who share their way of life and cultural outlook. One doesn't have to harbor animus toward other groups to prefer one's own. Yet it becomes harder to cut through the multi-ethnic thicket in super diverse communities and find one's cultural kin, leaving us isolated — unable to reach out to our own and unable to connect with others. But just because one can find a plausible explanation for the finding doesn't mean it's the whole truth—or even the main truth. It is not easy to reduce complex cultural phenomena to measurable metrics. And even though Putnam's study is among the more thorough of its kind, his way of measuring trust— basically by asking people to rate on a three-point scale whether they would "say that most people can be trusted"—is arguably quite crude. Furthermore, George Mason University's Bryan Caplan notes, Putnam conveniently forgot to highlight that part of his research that showed that many other factors, particularly homeownership, correlate far more strongly with social trust than homogeneity. So why did Putnam bury them and highlight a less important factor instead? Essentially because it's more in line with his thesis in Bowling Alone. It's a classic case of "confirmation bias." Furthermore, as Putnam forthrightly acknowledges — but his right-wing appropriators ignore—the loss of trust due to increasing diversity is a short-term phenomenon. Over the long run, people reconstitute new identities and bonds based on other shared characteristics. Yesterday's "them" become tomorrow's "us." For example, Putnam notes, in the 1920s, Americans were acutely conscious of divisions among European sub-groups—the Irish, Italians, Germans, Eastern Europeans—and in the 1950s of various Protestant denominations—Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists. None of these distinctions matter anymore. Right-wing diversity critics argue that race is different. Unlike religion and nationality, it is an immutable fact of life and given the inherently tribal nature of humans, ignoring it to build a racially eclectic society means i[...]

The Right's Problematic Quest for an Immigrant-Free, Homogeneous America: New at Reason

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 14:00:00 -0500

The West lost its hankering for homogeneous societies after Nazi philosopher Carl Schmitt had his way in Germany. But now this desire that used(image) to be confined to the alt-right gutter is increasingly surfacing in respectable conservative circles. They consider diversity not America's strength but its weakness and insist that homogeneous societies are much more attuned to natural human desires. To advance their arguments, they rely on the work of Harvard University's Robert Putnam of the Bowling Alone fame.

Putnam's research purportedly shows that diverse societies have less "social trust" than homogeneous ones because their bonds tend to be looser. But Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia points out that Putnam is overselling his work and conservatives are overselling Putnam.

After Neighbor Gets Deported, Local Police Chief Rethinks Support for Immigration Crackdown

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 13:19:00 -0500

A Washington State police chief who voted for Donald Trump because he wanted a president who would secure the border is now "in shock" after seeing federal immigration cops deport an illegal immigrant who had lived nearby for more than a decade. Flint Wright, police chief in Long Beach, Washington, tells The Seattle Times he was rattled by the arrest and deportation of Mario Rodriguez, who had lived in the community for 12 years. "He was real pro–law enforcement," Wright said of Rodriguez. "Shoot, anybody would like to have him as a neighbor." Rodriguez had overstayed his visa and was swept up in the Trump administration's toughened immigration enforcement, which has seen Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) make 3,100 arrests this year across Oregon, Washington, and Alaska (the three states overseen by ICE's Seattle office). There's a difference—a quite significant one, as Wright has learned—between the Trumpian rhetoric that presents illegal immigrants as a source of economic woes and criminality, and the reality of watching someone you know deported when he hasn't hurt anyone. "They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people," Trump famously said of illegal immigrants flowing into the country from Mexico. Turns out the feds have trouble telling the difference. Even American citizens get caught up in the crackdown. Reason's Shikha Dalmia has detailed the plight of Lorenzo Palma, an American citizen who lacked an American birth certificate because he was born in Mexico. Palma lived in the United States for nearly his entire life, but after serving time for assault he was whisked away to an immigration detention center and narrowly avoided being deported. "Indeed, if President Donald Trump keeps on his aggressive anti-immigration path, he will fundamentally shift the balance of power between the government and its citizens," Dalmia writes. "He may not be able to overcome the economic forces that bring unauthorized aliens to America's shores. But he will erode the economic and civil liberties of ordinary Americans, leaving few immune from the long tentacles of the immigration enforcement regime." Zahrija Purovic, a 50-year-old woman with no criminal history, lived and paid taxes in the United States for 30 years. She was deported to Montenegro last week, reports. She has no ties to her native country, which she left when she was just 19 years old. She will be banned from reentering the United States for 10 years. Good people? Bad hombres? Immigration police don't worry about such distinctions. And the consequences are felt well beyond the immediate families and friends of those deported. Back in Pacific County, Washington, the ICE raids and deportations are having a ripple effect on the seafood industry that represents the main economic activity in towns like Long Beach, according to The Seattle Times. "We don't have Nike. We don't have Boeing. This is what we do down here," said Steve Gray, a seafood-cannery owner. "Take the main workforce will lose whole industries."[...]

Is Silicon Valley Building the Infrastructure for a Police State?

Fri, 10 Nov 2017 13:12:00 -0500

Silicon Valley firms are building surveillance and profiling tools to help government agents make sense of the massive amount of information available on social media and in publicly accessible data sets. Are they using cutting-edge technologies to keep Americans safe, or laying the groundwork for a police state? The Palo-Alto based Palantir is one of the biggest so-called threat intelligence firms, and it's primary backer is Peter Thiel, the PayPal founder, Facebook board member, and Trump supporter. Also an outspoken libertarian, Thiel told Fortune magazine he hopes Palantir's technology will help protect the civil liberties of Americans because, given the massive amounts of Americans' data the government takes in, "if we could help [agents] make sense of data, they could end indiscriminate surveillance." Thiel believes Palantir's technology will prove crucial in stopping future terrorist attacks. Some insiders credit Palantir for enabling the government to find Osama bin Laden's hideout in 2011. Edward Hasbrouck of the nonprofit Identity Project says this technology enables the government to violate civil liberties without necessary checks on its power. He compares it to the Berlin Wall. "By building checkpoints—by building the control mechanisms," Hasbrouck says, "we're already putting into place the infrastructure for those who will abuse them in the future." Paul Scharre, a policy analyst who studies artificial intelligence and defense at the Center for a New American Security, says the public shouldn't fear artificial intelligence tools just because they're new and unfamiliar. "There's no technology that's just inherently good or inherently bad," says Scharre. "It's about how we're using it, and to what ends." Watch the video above to learn more about artificial intelligence, its application in government, and what precautions we might take to preserve our civil liberties going forward. Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Camera by Alexis Garcia, Justin Monticello, and Mark McDaniel. "White Atlantis" by Sergey Cheremisinov is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. "Glow in Space" by Sergey Cheremisinov is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. "The Signals" by Sergey Cheremisinov is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. "Clouds" by Sergey Cheremisinov is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. "Comatose" by Kai Engel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes.[...]

The Right's Incredibly Shallow Argument Against Immigration and Diversity

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 17:25:00 -0500

One Trump era argument against immigration that has climbed from the alt-right gutter to respectable conservative circles is that homogeneous societies are(image) much more "natural" than multi-ethnic diverse ones because people have a natural desire to be with their own. Interestingly, the academic whose work the right invokes to make its case isn't some Nazi nut job but Harvard University's Robert Putnam of the Bowling Alone fame.

Putnam's research purportedly shows that diverse societies have less "social trust" than homogeneous ones because their bonds tend to be looser. But I note in my column at The Week that Putnam has oversold his research and conservatives are overselling Putnam. The fact of the matter is that any the loss of trust due to increasing diversity is a short-term phenomenon. "Over the long run, people reconstitute new identities and bonds based on other shared characteristics. Yesterday's "them" become tomorrow's "us." For example, Putnam notes, in the 1920s, Americans were acutely conscious of divisions among European sub-groups — the Irish, Italians, Germans, Eastern Europeans — and in the 1950s of various Protestant denominations — Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists. None of these distinctions matter anymore."

That's not the only problem with the right's slams against diversity.

Go here to read about the others.