Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wow! I Totally Agree With Bob Barr's Stance On Immigration

I decided that it was time to put a Bob Barr for President banner on this website. Both of the major parties are supporters of ever bigger government. Neither party shows any serious effort to reduce government in any way. Look at the out of control growth of government under George Bush. Only the Libertarian Party presents a sincere smaller government option. This election year we have an experienced big government Republican versus an inexperienced huge government Democrat. So the only true choice for liberty and reduced government is the Libertarian candidate, Bob Barr. I have to admit that he has done a 180 on many of his former positions on issues as a Republican congressman. I'd like to believe that he has seen the light and perhaps has the zeal of a convert. What is important to me is that whatever his former positions personally, he now represents the party of smaller government and individual liberty.

However, almost no one ever agrees with all the positions of any party that they support. In the past, the Libertarian Party has supported open immigration (this link is to the 2005 immigration stance of the Libertarian Party so compare it to the 2008 stance). It seems they've dropped "open immigration" for a more politically acceptable and sensible stance that balances the importance of immigration with the need for control. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Bob Barr's position on immigration almost exactly agrees with my own feelings on the subject as stated in my last post, and differs significantly from unfettered open immigration. In a nutshell, we need to discourage illegal immigration and encourage legal immigration, especially the legal immigration of the highly talented and skilled. Policies that discourage assimilation need to be discarded and we should reconsider birthright citizenship. I like it.

We Need Citizens Not Just Workers

I sometimes am of two minds when it comes to issues. I can see valid points on both sides, but I still feel that one side is the "correct" one. I've been that way about immigration for awhile. I support the legal immigration of smart, hardworking, educated, entrepreneurial people who are willing to embrace all things American. Thomas Sowell recently crystallized my thinking on immigration with a single phrase. I was listening to the Econ Talk podcast. Thomas Sowell is known for his laissez-faire economic approach. The interviewer was taking the position that immigration was economically beneficial because people are a resource and immigrants are often hard working people in search of a better life. That's when Sowell responded. I'm paraphrasing here, but what he said essentially was "we need citizens not just workers." That's when the flip switched in my head and I realized he had just succinctly summarized my position in that single phrase.

On the one hand, I acknowledge that hardworking immigrants are essential to the U.S. and many immigrants just want a better life. I believe that the greatest resource in the world is the human mind and imagination. I believe that the United States of America is a nation built by immigrants. We have prospered due to an ability to attract hardworking and brilliant people from other countries who gladly make America their home and embrace American culture. There are many examples ---- Alexander Hamilton (first Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, a Scotsman born in the West Indies); Albert Einstein; Enrico Fermi (a developer of the atom bomb); Wernher von Braun (developer of the V-2 and then of U.S. rockets); Pierre Omidyar (founder of eBay); and Sergey Brin (Google co-founder). I could go on like this for pages.

As other nations become more capitalist, more technologically advanced, and better educated (e.g., China and India), more opportunities are presented for their smart, highly educated citizens to remain at home and not seek opportunity in the U.S. As the world becomes flatter, we need to attract those people to come here more than ever if we want to remain competitive with their home countries. Our immigration laws ought to encourage them to move here permanently. Creating temporary worker positions, only encourages them to move here to learn and then go back to their homeland to compete.

On the other hand, I believe that secure borders are important and porous borders are a problem. I object to people who ignore our laws living here illegally. I believe that the unfettered immigration of low skilled workers willing to work for peanuts suppresses the wages of low skilled Americans and hinders there entry into the workforce and maintaining employment. Unfettered immigration creates a labor surplus that harms American workers, but benefits big business because it can hire workers more cheaply. I don't buy the idea that immigrants do jobs Americans "won't do." At best you can say that illegal immigrants will do jobs that American workers won't do as cheaply. The agricultural sector is often given as an example of an area where Americans won't work. If that is so, why were 80% of the workers in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and mining sector native born in 2004? If we have shortages in some areas (engineering, mathematics, computer science), then I'm all for recruiting immigrants, who want to make a life here in the U.S. as Americans, to move here and work. I worry about the Balkanization of the U.S. in the name of diversity and multi-culturism. It seems to me that being a great nation still requires secure borders, a common language, a common culture, and the embrace of shared ideals (liberty, freedom. tolerance, free speech, democracy, hard work; i.e., the "American way").

My inarticulately expressed concern is that we're no longer expecting immigrants to become good citizens or to even be citizens. They are defended on the basis that being a "good worker" is enough. That is why that single phrase crystallized my thinking on the subject. Being a "good worker" isn't enough. No country needs unassimilated masses of foreigners in its midst meddling in its politics to push their own agendas and policies. When supposedly intelligent people advocate a dual legal system that recognizes a concept as alien to the existing legal system as Sharia law; when those who owe their allegiance to a foreign country are allowed to demonstrate in an attempt to influence U.S. policy while waving the flag of their homeland; when high school students attending public schools at the expense of U.S. taxpayers hoist a foreign flag above an upside down American flag, we have the beginnings of a house divided. "A house divided against itself cannot stand." --- Abraham Lincoln We do need immigrants, but we need good citizens and not just workers.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What's So Bad About The "Mojave Experiment"?

I was reminded recently of Microsoft's "Mojave Experiment" while reading an article about how Microsoft has hired Jerry Seinfeld as a pitchman. I guess if Apple has a couple of minor comedians making you look bad, you go and hire a comedian with real star power to retaliate. I had heard about the Mojave Experiment on the TWiT and/or Windows Weekly podcast, but I had never read about it. When I googled "Mojave Experiment", I found mostly Mojave Experiment haters. Seems people hate on Mojave the way they hate on Vista.

For the so-called Mojave Experiment, Windows asked XP users what they thought of Vista. Predictably, they hated it. They then showed them a "new and improved" OS that was actually Vista. People loved it! What does this tell us? It tells us that these people had never seen Vista because most of them didn't recognize the "new and improved" Mojave OS was Vista. It tells us they "hated" Vista mainly because they'd heard they should hate it from people who supposedly were "in the know." I've noticed that a lot of these public Vista haters who brag of their PC prowess include phrases like "stick with OS X" and "on my Linux install..."

Hhhhmmmm...... Maybe Mac fanboys and Linux geeks aren't the most neutral commenters on any Microsoft products? I've never used a Mac, but I'm sure they're great. Of course, if Microsoft maintained a closed system where they exercise draconian control of the hardware and the software, their products might run just as well as Apples, but then they'd really get bashed for their dictatorial business policies. As Paul Thurrott likes to point out, millions and millions of people boot up a huge variety of hardware running an even more enormous variety of software every day on millions and millions of Windows machines and they run! When you think about it, it is a miracle. I have used Linux and am convinced that while it is interesting that it is way beyond the capabilities and interest level of the average computer user. People aren't going to adopt Linux until they can just hit a button labeled "install" to download new software and don't have to worry about finding the right variety of package. In the meantime, Linux is for professional geeks and hobbyists.

So what do the Mojave Experiment bashers quibble with? One complained that the Mojave Experiment wasn't scientific and he hates bad "science." C'mon! It isn't science! It is marketing! The word "experiment" doesn't make it science. He complains of the "placebo effect"; i.e., if you tell people something is new and improved, then they'll do their best to perceive it as such. So what? These are people who perceived Vista as "terrible" and gave it a 0 out of 10. Microsoft already told them that Vista was "new and improved" and they still gave it a 0 before being exposed to it. The point is that if you don't tell them that the "new and improved" OS is the one they hate, they don't hate it. Another professional journalist "dissected" the Mojave Experiment. He concluded that you were seeing the result of a good sales pitch. It is naive to think the Vista hating isn't in part related to an equally good sales pitch. Seen any funny Apple ads lately?