Bullies with bad haircuts
It is interesting to see the Town of Elkton hopes a waiver of hookup fees will spur a rash of homebuilding in town. To what end?
Zoning decisions still need to be tempered by sensible planning based on careful consideration of the longterm welfare of the community. The construction of more high-density residential communities, where most or all occupants are renters, is not in the best interest of the community. Homeowners are generally better for the economic health of a community than are renters.
The Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances notes that in 2013 the typ- ical homeowner’s net worth was over $195,000, while the net worth of renters was $5,400. Homeowners tend to upgrade or remodel every seven years, which stimulates job growth and economic development. In an article in Forbes magazine, Lawrence Yun speaks to the social benefits of homeownership. He notes research indicates the children of homeowners tend to do better in school and have fewer criminal and drug-related issues. And, homeowners are more inclined to be involved in civic activities, local elections, and volunteer work.
Homeownership also leads to a more stable community. The National Association of Realtors notes that 27 percent of renters move annually, while only 4.7 percent of homeowners do the same. My intent is not to rant against renters, but all indications are that single-family, owner-occupied housing is better for the economic and social welfare of a community. We should develop accordingly.
WASHINGTON — Much has been made of the silly, weird, contrived hairstyles of America’s president and North Korea’s Dear Leader.
The incredible gold helmet that finds no parallel in nature. The side-shaved mop top that astonishes with ugliness.
Unfortunately, the comparisons do not stop there.
Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un were both spoiled rich bullies growing up with unusual appetites for food, expensive toys and women. They both had father complexes. They both crave daily doses of flattery and adulation. And they each think ominous, untempered threats are the way to more power.
So how serious is this new crisis?
North Korea is fast developing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles and likes to rattle sabers even though it’s probably not quite ready to deliver a warhead to U.S. shores. Trump, barely seven months into his presidency and with no major wins since taking office, sees his job approval rating is plummeting. He relishes making bellicose threats. Is war possible? Nuclear war?
Our instincts are to say that’s ridiculous. But history is littered with evidence of stupid, pointless wars started because of miscalculation, hunger for power, fear, and rhetoric that quickly escalated beyond control, ending in death and destruction.
Experts warn that Trump’s threat to unleash “fire and fury and, frankly, power the likes of which this world has never seen before” is counter-productive. They also warn that, yes, we could blunder into a devastating war, killing millions and destroying the idea of America as a peacekeeper and beacon of hope and democracy.
What good are nuclear weapons if they are never used, Trump famously asked with a shrug during his presidential campaign. Did he mean it? Who knows? Years ago on NBC, he said that he would launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against North Korea.
When he took office, he said North Korea would not get a nuclear warhead that could threaten the United States “It won’t happen,” he tweeted with certainty. It’s happening. He’s piqued. He once promised he’d be “honored” to negotiate with Kim Jong Un. But Trump’s self-proclaimed amazing skills in the art of the deal won’t do much good in working with a guy who has regularly cheated on the international stage.
The people Trump calls “my generals” — his chief of staff, the secretary of defense and his national security adviser— did not sign off on Trump’s fiery rhetoric and red line. (Didn’t we have enough ridiculous red-line drawing under former President Obama?) Trump’s generals know there is no good military option in dealing with North Korea. No president, including Richard Nixon, responded to North Korea’s provocations with military strikes.
Kim is a tyrant who thinks he is a supreme being, a man with no concern for the lives of others. He runs a dictatorship and promises to “pre- emptively annihilate” anyone who threatens the regime’s “supreme dignity.” He sees North Korea’s nuclear weapons as the only way to ensure the survival of his family’s dynasty. He has hidden bunkers, 1,000 missiles, 1.2 million soldiers, 10,000 artillery tubes, and biological and chemical weapons 35 miles and three minutes away from Seoul.
The United Nations Security Council’s new sanctions on North Korea, supposed to eliminate $ 1 billion to $ 3 billion in annual trade with other nations, must be enforced, with China being the key. The good news is that China and Russia both voted for tougher sanctions.
Trump should make clear in a prime time TV speech — using teleprompters — that the United States will not start a pre- emptive war. He should assure Japan and South Korea he will consult with them before he does anything and reassure them and the world the United States will always be a protector. It is also to be hoped that Kim knows war would spell the end for his debauched life.
We have lived with a nuclear Russia, far more dangerous to us than North Korea. We have lived with a nuclear China. It requires restraint and compromise. But in more than half a century, there has been no nuclear war. It would be catastrophic to yield to provocation and go to war with a criminal regime that will not last forever.
This is another reminder that elections have consequences and that sometimes what you see is what you get — on the head and inside it.
Ann McFeatters is a columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WASHINGTON — Back in the middle of his campaign for president, Donald Trump outlined an immigration plan that would base more legal entries on merit, but it still came as a surprise to illiberal liberals when he recently said he was going to act on it.
What’s more, they were horrified, because, if we start searching for job skills, educated minds, entrepreneurial energy and that sort of thing that improves life for all, we will not be focused on saving the down and out. Isn’t that racist, nativist and jingoistic?
Well, no, because, the better-skilled may also be fleeing desperate circumstances and should hardly be denied our sympathy because, for instance, they’re better at English. And it’s also worth noting the current system of selection has been a disaster. Although a mix of many ideas, its main feature has been referred to as nepotism writ large: It extends special invitations to those who are relatives of citizens.
While all sorts of marvelous people have arrived under this plan (and the Trump plan will continue to give preferences to spouses and minor children), it has also become a means of importing poverty to the benefit of no one.
That phrase, “importing poverty,” has been used by particularly alert students of the subject who were pointing out some years ago how vast numbers of the new, mostly Hispanic arrivals were virtually the sole cause of increases in American poverty rates. It should be no surprise since we know the vast majority lack the education and skills our ever more complicated society increasingly demands, to the detriment of many natives, too, of course.
No less a poverty expert than Ron Haskins of Brookings Institution has pointed to the problems, and the astute Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute has noted how assimilation has been more and more to the underclass. A devotion to family has given way increasingly to single-parent homes with children as victims less likely to do well in school and move up, as one result.
For a variety of reasons, the flow from Mexico has decreased as the flow from Central America and Asia — a fount of needed skills — has increased. Something like a million Mexican families headed back home during the recession, and some industries that depend on unskilled labor and understandably like it to be cheap detest the Trump plan. Here are some things to understand. First, as a study by George Borjas of Harvard shows, legal and illegal unskilled immigrants drive down the wages of native unskilled workers by something like a whopping half trillion dollars a year. It’s also the case, he says, that immigrants get significant amounts of government assistance while paying very low taxes, meaning taxpayers must come up with about $50 billion annually to make up the difference.
It is still the case, as Borjas notes, that immigrants are a net economic gain, but that is in large part because there are educated, highly skilled immigrants who mightily boost businesses with their know-how. This nation has a deficit of sorely needed skills, as illustrated by the fact of 5.6 million unfilled jobs requiring special competence. Trump has a plan to help fix that through more vocational training, but also through his growth-spurring merit plan.
That plan calls for cutting legal entries of about a million a year to about half a million a year, and that big a drop is debatable because we need all the highly skilled workers we can get and still some unskilled, if tens of thousands fewer. At the same time, however, there are accommodation problems throughout the country, especially at our schools, and lowering the numbers will make it more reasonable on fiscal and other fronts to move toward legalization of the 11 million illegal aliens in the country now.
That’s something Trump said he would consider when the illegal flow was stopped (we’re making headway) and legal immigration was reformed.
Jay Ambrose is an columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may email him at email@example.com.
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