Bullies with bad hair­cuts

Cecil Whig - - OPINION -

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 am­cfeat­ters@na­tion­al­press.com.

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 speak­to­jay@aol.com.

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