Tax Hike Drives Millionaires Away From California

leaving-californiaAccording to new research released by Charles Varner, associate director of the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, California lost an estimated 138 high-income individuals following passage of the Proposition 30 income tax increase championed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and approved by Golden State voters in 2012.

This new research by Varner updates a previous paper released six years ago that looked at domestic migration to and from California following a 2004 income tax hike.

“One reason we wanted to update our previous paper is that this tax change in 2012 is the largest state tax change that we have seen in the U.S. for the last three decades,” Varner said.

Prop. 30 raised the state’s top income tax rate by more than 29%, increasing it three percentage points from 10.3% to 13.3%, which is now the highest state income tax rate in the nation. Prop. 30 also hiked the tax rate on income between $300,000 and $500,000 by two percentage points (a 21.5% rate increase), and raised the rate on income between $500,000 and $1,000,000 by three percentage points (a more than 32% rate hike).

In 2016, California voters extended the Prop. 30 income tax increases, which were originally scheduled to expire in 2019, until 2030. There will be an effort to extend those income tax hikes yet again prior to their expiration in 2030; book it now.

Varner’s new research examined taxpayers who were and were not hit by the Prop. 30 rate hikes. He found that in the two years before the Prop. 30 tax hike was imposed (2011 and 2012), net in-migration for both groups “was positive and roughly constant.” Yet following 2012 and the passage of Prop. 30, net in-migration dropped for households that were facing an effective tax increase of 0.5 percent or more. The reduction was greatest for households facing the highest effective tax hike, according to Varner and his coauthors.

This isn’t surprising for those who are familiar with other attempts to soak the rich with punitive state income tax hikes on high earners. Take what happened in Maryland after Martin O’Malley, the former Democratic presidential candidate and governor, imposed a millionaires tax hike a decade ago. …

Click here to read the full article from Forbes.com

Patrick Gleason is vice president of state affairs at Americans for Tax Reform, and a senior fellow at the Beacon Center of Tennessee. Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PatrickMGleason

Judge temporarily halts deportations of reunified families

ImmigrationA judge on Monday temporarily blocked the federal government from deporting families who have just been reunified, as officials work under court order to match more than 2,500 children with parents they were taken from at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The decision is the latest in a class-action lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union to stop the government from separating families at the border and to reunite those who were split apart. In June, Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the federal government to reunite families, putting a deadline of July 10 for children younger than 5 and July 26 for older children.

Attorneys asked Sabraw to temporarily halt deportations while he decides whether to impose a more permanent seven-day waiting period between reunification and removal for cases in which the parents have been ordered deported.

In a court filing, the ACLU argued that giving families a week together would allow them time to decide what’s best for them, whether the children should stay to push ahead with their own immigration cases or go back to their home countries with their parents. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times

Beware of the ‘Woke’ Tech Oligarchs

Mark ZuckerbergOnce the rich protected themselves by aligning with Republicans who would protect their property from high taxes and their firms from regulation.

Some still do — notably the Koch brothers — but this breed of right-winger is gradually losing out to more progressive tilted plutocrats. In 2016, according to Open Secrets, three of the four largest billionaire political donors — hedge fund manager James Simon and his wife Marilyn, Michael Bloomberg, and currency speculator George Soros — titled progressive. This reflects a broader social trend.

Overall the GOP continues to slightly outpace Democrats among the ultra rich, but most of the big conservative donors such as Charles and David Koch, Sheldon Adelson, Oracle founder Larry Ellison, Rupert Murdoch, and Irvine Chairman Don Bren are well into their seventies or in their eighties. The trend belongs, clearly, to the progressives. Between 1980 to 2016, support for Democrats from the 0.1 percent has tripled, and donors in the nation’s wealthiest ZIP codes overall now give more to Democrats than Republicans.

Take Michael Bloomberg, the former Republican of convenience who last week announced he would invest $80 million into Democratic campaigns this fall before teasing, yet again, a possible presidential run of his own. Bloomberg’s usual causes are not those of traditional social democracy — after all this is the guy who proclaimed what New York really needed was more billionaires, and who beta-tested in New York City the businessman-as-better-political-leader pitch he then watched with dismay Donald Trump take all the way to the White House — but issues less threatening to the plutocracy, such as climate change and gun control.

The buyout of mainstream progressivism has changed its nature. Big donor-driven candidates — who still dominate the party’s leadership ranks, even as small-donor powered insurgents like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez test that arrangement, at least in low-turnout elections — are less concerned with the fate of auto or communication workers than they are with issues of environmental regulation, identity, and culture.

Facebook President Sean Parker, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Salesforce.com Chairman Marc Benioff, Mark Zuckerberg, and the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, are all relatively young men devoted to the progressive cause — at least those parts of it that don’t threaten their bottom lines.

The Trump Effect

With his horrendous comments and awful actions, Trump has accelerated wokeism among the wealthy and their minions. This oligarchic drift has been building for years, as wealth has shifted from traditional resource and manufacturing industries to software, media, finance, and entertainment. In sharp contrast to energy firms, home-builders, and farmers, the regulatory state does not threaten the bottom lines of these industries, as long as it refrains from breaking up their virtual monopolies.

Indeed, as researcher Greg Ferenstein suggests, the new oligarchs favor an active state that will subsidize worker housing or even a guaranteed minimum income, and keep their businesses off the hook for providing decent benefits to their ever expanding cadre of gig-economy serfs. He points out that the former head of Uber, Travis Kalanick, was a strong supporter of Obamacare and that many top tech executives — including Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk — favor a government-provided guaranteed annual wage to help, in part, allay fears about what happens to most of the workforce as their industries and jobs are “disrupted.”

Geography plays a role here as well. With the biggest concentrations of wealth now in the most “progressive” regions — the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, Boston, and Seattle — moguls must operate in an environment dominated by fervent anti-Trump social-justice and green advocacy. Many big tech employees — nearly 40 percent in the Bay Area, by some estimates — are noncitizens, with little reason to be concerned about how the wealth in these corners is, or is not, spread across the nation.

So it’s no surprise that woke employees at Microsoft, horrified by the brutalism of Trump’s immigration policies, have decided not to cooperate with ICE. Not to be outdone, Amazon workers compare their company’s cooperation with immigration authorities to IBM’s collaboration with Nazi Germany. Similarly Google workers are refusing to help with drones used to combat terrorists, while Apple is actively working to make it difficult for police to break into phones used in committing crimes, including in the aftermath of the San Bernardino terrorist massacre.

So powerful, and self-referential, are these companies — and their highly compensated workers — that they are increasingly willing to deny even the idea of national interest when that does not suit their political notions. Unlike businesses that worry about competition or mass opinion, these oligarchic companies can demonize half of the country with impunity. At the end of the day, even Trumpians depend on these systems unless they want to look at Chinese alternatives.

The New Controllers

Since Trump’s election, many progressives have pushed the idea that we are on the cusp of a return to traditional authoritarianism, as portrayed in books like George Orwell’s 1984 or Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Yet the real model for future tyranny may be more that of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, which portrays a society run by a biologically conditioned scientific and technological elite.

In Brave New World, the masters are not hoary Stalinoids or angry right-wing fundamentalists, but gentle, reasoned executives. The Controllers preside over a society where social classes are well-defined, and only those at the top — the Alphas — live in comfort. Families have been abolished except on reservations for misfits, and people widely enjoy access to pleasurable pharmaceuticals and unconstrained, commitment-free sex in the city.

Huxley’s future eerily resembles the one favored by the oligarchs, who are now paying women workers to freeze their eggs as they aim to create an elite Alpha class without children or property, to be serviced by the low-wage Deltas, Gammas, and Epsilons of Huxley’s world — bused in from the suburban fringes.

The Controller’s power, first and foremost, depends on implanting information. In Brave New World contrary ideas are dismissed not as breaking the party line but as simply absurd or even pornographic. Today’s woke oligarchs do much the same by controlling both information and culture. Bloomberg is a prime example but he’s a pauper compared to Bezos, the world’s richest man owning one of the nation’s most influential newspapers.

Tech sofa change in recent years also helped Mark Zuckerberg’s college roommate buy The New Republic, and run it into the ground before selling it. More recently Laurene Powell, the left-leaning widow of the late Steve Jobs (net worth $20 billion), scooped up The Atlantic for a nonprofit that will compete with more traditional competitors who still, sadly, have to make money.

Meanwhile, Google is promoting journalism by robots while also planning to invest $300 million in favored outlets. What could go wrong?

The Agenda

In the emerging regime, here’s what’s not important: personal autonomy and privacy. A controlled and woke society starts with access to people’s thoughts, something critical to the advertising-driven businesses of Google and Facebook and, increasingly, also to Apple and Microsoft. It’s important to remember what Google’s former Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt once told CNBC: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

The digital revolution, which had so much promise for democratizing information, appears to be hyper-concentrating media both geographically, on the coasts, and through pipelines controlled overwhelmingly by firms like Facebook, so that a change in policy there can undermine even established media, and Google, which controls over a thirdof all on-line advertising and a remarkable 90 percent of global search. As The Guardian recently put it: “If ExxonMobil attempted to insert itself into every element of our lives like this, there might be a concerted grassroots movement to curb its influence.”

These patterns are reinforced by students shaped by our ideologically homogeneous education system. The censorious instinct now intrinsic to universities, particularly the elite ones, shapes the thoughts of the highly educated workers critical to these companies. Controllers like those at Facebook increasingly seek to “curate” views, largely conservative, they don’t like, according to former employees. Often this censorship is being carried out under guidance developed by largely progressive groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has too often labeled anyone outside its ideological “safe space” as racist bigots. Over 70 percent of Americans, notes a recent Pew study, believe social media platforms “censor political views.”

Ultimately the oligarchs, reacting to their woke workers and constituency, seek a control over basic behavior in ways even the snoop-crazy Chinese would admire. Facebook already admits to having patented technology that would allow them to snoop on their users, although they deny using it. Netflix, the oligarchical company that by some estimates is now worth more than any of the movie studios, recently imposed controls over what people do on sets of movies they finance. That includes rules that ban asking for phone numbers of co-workers or even looking at people for more than five seconds, an innovation even more intrusive than those of Huxley’s Controllers.

Hypocritical Oaths

Stanley Bing’s recently released Immortal Life gives a riveting version of a near-future society shaped by our tech oligarchs. In his not-so-distant future, government has largely been replaced by a cabal of superannuated tech moguls — effectively Global Controllers — who shape societal views, implant devices in human brains, and dominate every aspect of the economy. Democracy hasn’t just been constrained; it’s been excised.

Right now the rising power of the Controllers has been obscured by the Trumpian counterrevolution, a peasant rebellion supported by a less than charming alliance of old economy moguls, angry white males, and more than few xenophobic racists. But over the long term, history is bending toward the woke oligarchy—particularly as the old generation conveniently dies off.

If these well-heeled progressives have a vulnerability, it’s their extreme hypocrisy. In California, the epicenter of the resistance and elite wokefulness, Silicon Valley oligarchs and their shrieky Hollywood counterparts are fervent in their embrace of progressive values. But, as a new report from Chapman University shows, the prevailing oligarch-friendly California economic agenda — hostile to suburbs, fossil-fuel energy, and manufacturing — has proven unequal and particularly damaging to minorities.

Not without reason has the maverick environmentalist Mike Shellenberger called California “the most racist” state in the union. Far from Malibu and swanky haunts of the cultural elites, the bulk of Los Angeles suffers among the highest poverty rates of any metropolitan areas. Cost-adjusted wages for middle-class workers, Latinos, and African Americans in Silicon Valley have actually dropped during the recent economic boom there.

Perhaps there’s no better illustration of hypocrisy than the Disney company. The once conservative bastion-turned-promoter of woke values has been led by Robert Iger, a fantastically well-compensated self-defined “progressive,” who has made much of denouncing President Trump’s immigration policy as “cruel and misguided ” and taking standard progressive positions on guns and the Paris accords. Yet, as Bernie Sanders has pointed out recently, Disney workers are generally poorly paid, many on the verge of poverty. Even middle-class workers have been given the shiv: The company infamously replaced its IT workers with outside contractors shipped in from India.

Against the Oligarchs

This unprecedented agglomeration of wealth and power needs to be opposed both by conservatives and traditional progressives. It won’t be easy. In the presidential run, The Washington Post took hard aim at Bernie Sanders before turning, albeit less successfully, against Trump. More recently Amazon and its minions forced Seattle’s progressives to back down from a plan to make the company pay more taxes. Majority Leader Charles Schumer opposes higher capital-gains rates, warming the cockles of venture capitalists and the new economic royalists, some of whom are his contributors.

Even on green issues, the famously pious oligarchs demonstrate remarkable levels of hypocrisy. These firms have bought enough allowances and built solar or wind facilities to claim “carbon neutrality.” But such offsets, as the new Chapman report reveals, mostly shuffle greenhouse gases around and don’t actually reduce global emissions. Apple keeps its California carbon footprint down by making all its products abroad, mostly in China — which ends up spewing more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than if they built them here.

Ultimately the only way to stop the new Controllers and challenge their hypocrisy will be to meet them head on. Companies like Google need to be broken up, as many on both right and left agree. This position has even been adopted by the generally liberal Boston Globe which warned that, “Never ever in the history of the world has a single company had so much control over what people know and think.”

But it’s not just Google — which spends more on lobbying than any other private company—or Amazon, which has quadrupled its government spending since 2014. This relatively new focus on inside Washington influence-peddling, combined with their oversized influence on critical technologies, our media, and overall economic system makes these firms a threat to the pluralism essential to democracy, unlike any we have seen in the last century. Their vision presages a society where few work and a handful control the nation’s riches. To avoid a rebellion, the “redundant” are supposed to be paid off with some sort of government allowance.

Americans need to oppose this evolution and fight for the flourishing of a grassroots and more dispersed economy now, before the oligarchs brave new world is fully and finally here.

ditor of NewGeography.com and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University

This piece originally appeared on The Daily Beast.

Cross-posted at New Geography.

Taxpayer Victories in an Anti-Taxpayer California Legislature

CA-legislatureRonald Reagan once said, “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” With a record $130 billion budget, we know that California state legislators are adept at all three practices, but none more so than taxes.

Democrats in Sacramento spent 2017 jamming three separate tax and fuel-cost hikes into law. They renewed the cap-and-trade program, continuing a multi-billion-dollar increase in fuel costs that brings in state revenue to fund high-speed rail. They invented a new tax on recorded documents that is supposed to fund affordable housing. And of course the SB 1 gas and car tax increase was said to be needed to fund road repair, even though billions of dollars have been diverted away from maintenance over the last decade. In the midst of an $8 billion surplus, Sacramento was steadily increasing taxes.

But fortunately, 2018 hasn’t been as dreadful for taxpayers as 2017. Here’s a sample of the proposals that, for now, have failed to pass:

Senate Bill 794 would impose a new three percent tax on fireworks at the point of sale. The abuse of illegal fireworks is a matter of statewide concern, and as such, it is totally appropriate to spend existing General Fund revenues on enforcement and safety. Instead, by taxing the sale of fireworks, Sacramento would be hurting all the non-profit organizations that raise a sizable share of their annual revenue from firework stands.

Assembly Bill 2497 would impose an as-yet-undefined tax on guns and ammunition to fund school resource counselors and police officers.

AB 2303 and AB 2560 would create a new tax of up to ten percent on small business vendors who contract out either with private prisons or with the California Department of Corrections.

Senate Bill 623 would establish a precedent-setting tax on residential water use. For now, local water agencies have joined with taxpayer advocates to vigorously fight this levy.

Assembly Bill 2486 would impose a $100 million tax on opioid manufacturers and distributors to fund prevention and treatment programs. Ultimately, this tax will be passed onto consumers, especially to patients who use opioids appropriately to manage pain. As an issue of statewide concern as well as a legitimate public health issue, opioid treatment should also be financed out of the General Fund. …

Click here to read the full article from the Riverside Press-Enterprise

California Democratic Party abandons incumbent Feinstein, endorses opponent

Dianne FeinsteinThe California Democratic Party voted to endorse a progressive state senator over incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein for the U.S. Senate in the party’s executive board meeting in Oakland, California, on Saturday.

Though Feinstein beat state Sen. Kevin de León, 51, by nearly 33 points in the jungle primary last month, progressive grassroots activists have largely taken control of the state party apparatus in recent years and have pushed for a more liberal candidate to take on the Trump administration.

This is the second time they have elected to endorse de León over 85-year-old Feinstein, who has served California in the U.S. Senate since 1992.

According to the balloting results, the decision was made by 333 voting members who make up the California Democratic Party’s executive board. While de León received 65 percent of the vote with 217 votes, Feinstein earned a paltry 22 votes or 7 percent. Rather than endorse either candidate, 94 members elected to vote for no endorsement. …

Click here to read the full article from NBC News

Public-Employee Unions Maintain a Privileged Status

School union protestAs a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, teachers and other public employees in 22 states can no longer be compelled to pay “agency fees”—the money that the union claims it costs to represent them—as a condition of employment. A teacher in newly liberated California can now save $1,100 or $1,200 per year in fees that the union claimed were necessary to cover the cost of representing him in collective bargaining.

Unions are preparing to take a hit. In advance of the decision, which was widely expected, the California Teachers Association projected a loss of 23,000 members. The union also figures to lose revenue from 28,000 non-members who had quit the union but were forced to cough up the agency fees. In order to soften the financial blow, CTA has announced a per-teacher dues hike of $23 a year for the 2018-2019 school year, bringing teachers’ state dues to $700 annually. CTA’s parent, the National Education Association, bracing for a 10 percent loss in membership, is slashing its budget by $50 million and raising its per-teacher share of dues from $189 to $192.

But while teachers and other public employees are off the unions’ hook, the rest of us Californians are still paying. Taxpayers foot the bill for the collection of union dues, which local school districts deduct from a teacher’s monthly paycheck, just like federal and state withholding taxes. The school districts turn the money over to local teachers’ unions, which don’t pay a penny for the transactions. Simply put, the taxpayer is the bagman for the union. Some states are pushing back, however. A proposed bill in Louisiana would allow school boards to charge unions an administrative fee of up to 3 percent of the union dues.

That’s a start, but public unions remain financially formidable. All unions enjoy tax-exempt status with the IRS. The NEA took in $365.8 million in 2015, according to its most recent available tax return—just about all of it coming from taxpayer-supported teachers’ salaries. The CTA’s income was $183.1 million, per its latest return. In total, the NEA and its state affiliates take in about $1.6 billiona year in tax-free money, and that doesn’t include money paid to NEA locals, the American Federation of Teachers and its affiliates, or AFSCME, SEIU, and all the other public-employee unions. The numbers are staggering, and will remain so. The irony is that these unions persistently use their taxpayer-paid, tax-free money to lobby legislators to raise taxes.

To add insult to injury, a new bill in California would make union dues tax-deductible. “Californians, in effect, will collectively subsidize union dues,” reports the Pacific Research Institute. “The bill would cost taxpayers $250 million the first year, $170 million in 2019-20, and $180 million in 2020-21.” The bill has passed muster in the state assembly and is on its way to becoming law. On an ongoing mission to kill off charter schools and voucher programs, the teachers’ unions rail against “privatizers” who seek to profit from public education. But when it comes to a private entity making a killing from public education, the teachers’ unions have the market cornered.

Before, during, and after the Janus proceedings, public unions pumped out a steady stream of clichés, claiming that the court case represented an attempt to “rig the system,” “rig the economy,” and “rig the rules.” But what the Janusdecision really did was to bring a semblance of fairness to a system that the unions have been gaming for years. Now that Janus has freed public employees from union domination, taxpayers in California and elsewhere need emancipation from the same abusive special interest.

LAUSD Questioned Over Positive Reviews for Teachers at Struggling Schools

LAUSD school busA new study raises fresh concerns about the giant Los Angeles Unified School District and whether it shows good faith in its dealings with struggling schools in poor minority communities.

The Los Angeles-based Parent Revolution group, which focuses on improving education and increasing educational opportunities for poor minority students, analyzed 44 LAUSD schools with weak test scores last school year. At these schools, only 20 percent of students met or did better than state math standards and only 28 percent in English.

Yet last school year, 68 percent of teachers in these schools were not subject to official evaluations – either through oversight or via exemptions ordered by their principals. Of teachers who were evaluated, 96 percent were found to meet or do better than district performance standards. Over the past three school years, the figure edged up to 97 percent getting positive evaluations – meaning only about one in every 30 evaluated teachers is found wanting.

“We do see this in other districts, where almost everyone has a satisfactory rating and it’s disconnected from student achievement,” Seth Litt, Parent Revolution’s executive director, told the Los Angeles Times. “It shouldn’t be disconnected.”

The findings parallel those that emerged from the landmark Vergara v. California lawsuit, in which nine students from state public schools represented by civil-rights attorneys hired by the Students Matter group alleged five state teacher job protection laws were so powerful that they had the unconstitutional effect of keeping incompetent teachers on the job and funneling them toward schools in poor communities.

Evidence presented by the plaintiffs in the case showed that only 2.2 teachers on average are fired each year for unsatisfactory performance in a state with 275,000 teachers at its public schools.

The case’s primary focus was on Los Angeles Unified. In a twist that few expected, some of the most powerful testimony against the teacher protection laws came from then-LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy. He testified in early 2014 that even if a teacher were “grossly ineffective,” it could cost the district millions in legal bills to fire the teacher.

Later that year, state Judge Rolf Treu agreed with the plaintiffs that the five teacher protection laws unconstitutionally deprived the students of their right to a good public education. Treu likened the laws’ effects to those of segregation before the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Treu’s decision was overturned on appeal on the grounds that the trial failed to clearly establish a factual nexus between student performance and the job protection laws.

3 state justices wanted to hear teacher tenure case

But education reformers were somewhat heartened by what happened next. Three members of the California Supreme Court wanted to hear an appeal of the appellate ruling, suggesting at the least some interest in Treu’s reasoning, which was mocked as novel and weak by attorneys for teacher unions. While they were voted down by the state high court’s other four justices, they could be a factor in future litigation.

As for Los Angeles Unified, litigation over school practices affecting minorities and high-needs students has been common for decades. In September 2017, for a recent example, the district reached a $151 million settlement in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU over the improper diversion of Local Control Funding Formula dollars that were supposed to be used to help struggling students in poor communities, especially English-language learners.

LAUSD was also the target in 2010 of what a federal government statement called “the first proactive civil rights enforcement action taken by the Department of Education under the Obama administration” – prompted by what then-Education Secretary Arne Duncan called the district’s failure to adequately educate many Latino and African-American students. The case was settled in 2011 after the district agreed to make several substantial changes meant to improve these students’ performance.

But evidence presented in the Vergara case showed no subsequent gains by these student groups.

Los Angeles Unified has 640,000 students, making it by far the largest school district in California. Only the New York City school system, which has about 1 million students, is larger in the U.S.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

America Is Not a Nation of Immigrants

Statue of LibertyAmerica is a nation of immigrants. It’s a commonplace among the political class. Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), emergent leaders in the open-borders vanguard of the Democratic Party, never tire of saying so. Both object to the Trump Administration’s hard line on border control and have buttressed their calls for an “immigration reform” that would in effect re-open the floodgates of migrants from south of the border. The reason, they say, is that immigration is the defining characteristic of the nation.

It isn’t.

The “nation of immigrants” trope is relatively new in American history, appearing not until the late 19th century. Its first appearance in print was most likely The Daily State Journal of Alexandria, Virginia, in 1874. In praising a state bill that encouraged European immigration, the editors wrote: “We are a nation of immigrants and immigrants’ children.” In 1938, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said to the Daughters of the American Revolution: “Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” John F. Kennedy would later use the term as the title of a book, written as part of an Anti-Defamation League series, so it is undoubtedly objective, quality scholarship.

But in 1874, as in 1938, and even in 1958 when JFK’s book was written, America was not a nation of immigrants. The women Roosevelt was addressing were not the daughters of immigrants but rather the descendants of settlers—those Americans who founded the society that immigrants in 1874 came to be a part of.

Curiously, yet another Kennedy understood this and might have a thing or two to say in protest against the “nation of immigrants” myth, even if he didn’t quite mean what he said.

During the U.S. Senate debate of the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, Ted Kennedy, young Joe’s great-uncle, promised: “our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually.” Today, with far more than a million new arrivals per year, it seems Ted’s words did not age well.

The liberal lion also promised that “the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset,” and America would not be flooded “with immigrants from any one country or area.” Yet in 2014, the number of Latinos in California finally overtook the number of whites. This, too, did not age well.

“The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission. It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs,” Kennedy assured his colleagues and fellow citizens. He was disingenuous at best. None of it worked out the way Kennedy promised in 1965.

The Emma Lazarus Myth
All of this is not presented simply to take a jab at young Joe, who is simply parroting the liberal line of the moment, but to highlight certain implicit truths—now disregarded by the progeny—in the assurances of his forebear.

If America has always been a nation of immigrants, why then did Ted Kennedy and others feel the need to reassure Americans that this nation would not be inundated by foreigners? This suggests that America was not, in fact, a nation of immigrants in the 1960s, and politicians aware of this spoke in this way to reassure a public equally aware of it and certainly unwilling to see America become a nation of immigrants.

Similarly, implicit in Ted Kennedy’s rhetoric is some recognition of the fact that mass immigration has the potential to change the country in ways that citizens might not like—such as by driving down wages and hurting native workers. Joe Kennedy, however, has suggested immigration is always a net good. Which Kennedy do we believe? (“Neither” is a perfectly acceptable answer.)

Then there is Kamala Harris. The freshman senator from California took the Independence Day holiday as an opportunity to claim the Declaration of Independence was signed by “immigrants” and performed the obligatory shout out to Emma Lazarus, who many liberal politicians believe wrote our immigration laws. Although Lazarus’ poem was added to the Statue of Liberty nearly two decades after the structure was dedicated, her belated verses became, at least to the Left, of more importance than the statue itself and the nation for which it stands. The idea of immigrants as all helpless “huddled masses” and “wretched refuse,” as Lazarus conceived, plays to the Left’s patronizing narrative of foreigners and citizen-subjects alike. But the problem with this conception of America’s immigrants, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) argued, is it’s a myth—and a bad one, at that.

“The 20 million-odd immigrants who arrived between 1870 and 1910,” said Moynihan, “were not the wretched refuse of anybody’s shores.” Rather, the fiery New York liberal concluded, they were an “extraordinary, enterprising and self-sufficient folk who knew exactly what they were doing and doing it quite on their own, thank you very much.”

Moynihan was right. America’s early immigrants were, with some exceptions (such as the Irish fleeing famine), Jewish tailors, Italian masons, German shopkeepers, skilled craftsmen, and artisans. It was not uncommon for these immigrants to make their fortunes in America and remigrate, either because they had never intended to stay or were induced by hardship. Those who stayed did so because they truly wanted to be American.

Lawbreaking Carries Huge Costs
To say that most of today’s immigrants do not have the qualities Moynihan adumbrated is not racist but rather an objective statement of facts, especially when 51 percent of households headed by an immigrant—legal or illegal—use at least one welfare program per year, compared to 30 percent of native households. Immigrants from Central America and Mexico, the bulk of today’s arrivals, have the highest rate of welfare use. Accordingly, the Left has shifted its politics to dangle a generous welfare-state before immigrants and illegal aliens.

Indeed, in 2017 the combined cost of education, medical, justice, and welfare expenditures attributed to illegal aliens alone amounted to $116 billion—up from $113 billion in 2013. That figure accounts for total taxes paid by illegal aliens. Moreover, it’s worth noting that amnesty for illegals would only exacerbate this problem, because amnesty would make available to them more forms of means-tested welfare benefits, and in turn increase the fiscal drain on American taxpayers.

While exceptional immigrants certainly still do arrive in the United States, progressive policy in the form of a generous welfare state has made it so immigrants no longer need to have the qualities of which Moynihan spoke.

But were America’s Founders immigrants, as Harris claims? Perhaps the simplest answer is found in the evolution of the English language in America. The term “immigrant,” Samuel P. Huntington informs us, did not come into usage in America until the 1780s—to distinguish new arrivals from the founding settlers.

Prior to the American Revolution, the English and the Dutch, according to historian John Higham, “conceived of themselves as founders, settlers, or planters—the formative population of those colonial societies—not as immigrants. Theirs was the polity, the language, the pattern of work and settlement, and many of the mental habits to which the immigrants would have to adjust.” If the Founders were immigrants, as some have mendaciously claimed, it would have been a tremendous surprise to them, because they certainly did not conceive of themselves as such.

By 1790, the population of the United States was 4 million. With the exception of a black minority and Indians, America was 60 percent ethnically English, 80 percent British—with Germans and the Dutch making up the remainder—and 98 percent Protestant. In 1797, John Jay noted specific attributes of American identity. In doing so, Jay did not simply adumbrate what “makes an American,” but made a distinction between settlers and immigrants. These are language (English), manners and customs (Anglo-Protestant), religion (Christianity), principles of government (British).

“We must,” Jay said of newcomers, “see our people more Americanized.”

Drawing from Huntington’s exhaustive demographic research, we find that while European wars kept immigration to a crawl, the overall American population increased by 35 percent between 1790 and 1800, 36 percent between 1800 and 1810, and 82 percent between 1800 and 1820. Huntington attributes the population explosion to high birth rates and fertility rates among the native-born population.

What Immigration Numbers Really Mean
Although it should be clear by now, the Left will never admit their claim of America as an historically multicultural-immigrant society is unsupportable, because that would damage their devil’s bargain with identity politics.

Concerning immigration patterns, from 1820 through 1924, 34 million new arrivals entered the United States, mostly from Europe. Throughout this period, intermittent waves of immigration were punctuated by pauses and lulls. These respites provided immigrants time to Americanize. By contrast, from 1965 through 2000, 24 million new arrivals entered the United States, mostly from Latin America and Asia, and with few if any pauses between waves. In just 35 years, America experienced nearly as much immigration as it did over a century. Nevertheless, from 1820 through 2000, the foreign-born averaged just over 10 percent of the total American population.

To claim that America is a “nation of immigrants” is to stretch a truth—that America historically has experienced intermittent waves of immigration—into a total falsehood, that America is a nation of immigrants. For the truth of the first thing to equal the truth of the other, every nation that experiences immigration may just as well be considered a “nation of immigrants.” Germans have lived along the Rhine since before Christ, yet Germany has also been swarmed by foreigners from the Middle East and North Africa. Is Germany, therefore, a nation of immigrants? A resounding nein is the answer we are hearing from Germans.

The Right Way to Live
Before America was a nation, it had to be settled and founded. As Michael Anton reiterated in response to New York Times columnist Bret Stephens: America is a nation of settlers, not a nation of immigrants. In that, Anton is echoing Samuel Huntington, who showed that America is a society of settlers. Those settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries—more than anyone else after—had the most profound and lasting impact on American culture, institutions, historical development, and identity. American began in the 1600s—not 1874—and what followed in the 1770s and 1780s was rooted in the founded society of those settlers.

“The most important fact to keep in mind when studying political changes in America is that the United States is a product of a settler society,” writes historian J. Rogers Hollingsworth.

Settlers, Anton explains, travel from an existing society into the wilderness to build a society ex nihilo. Settlers travel in groups that either implicitly or explicitly agree to a social compact. Settlers, unlike immigrants, go abroad with the intention of creating a new community away from the mother country. Immigrants, on the other hand, travel from one existing society to another, either as individuals or as families, and are motivated by different reasons; and not always good ones. Immigrants come later to be part of the society already built by settlers, who, as Higham wrote, establish the polity, language, customs, and habits of the society immigrants seek to join and in joining must embrace and adopt.

Justice Louis Brandeis would later echo Jay, declaring that the immigrant is Americanized when he “adopts the clothes, the manners, and the customs generally prevailing here . . . substitutes for his mother tongue the English language,” ensures that “his interests and affections have become deeply rooted here,” and comes “into complete harmony with our ideals and aspirations.” Only when the immigrant has done this will he have “the national consciousness of an American.”

Certainly, the Left (and a great many neoconservatives, for that matter) pays lip service to the principles that constitute what we call the American Creed: liberty, representative government, individualism, and equality. The principles of the Creed are transcendent of race and ethnicity, and it is for this reason that America has the capacity to assimilate foreigners into its society in a way that is unique to the rest of the world. One can become an American in a way that it is impossible to become a German, for example.

But the principles behind the Creed are universal because they are largely abstractions. As such, they do not tell us anything about the society that actually attracts the immigrants, nor do they tell us anything about the people whose culture fostered the Creed. This is generally as far as civic nationalists are willing to go. Either out of political expediency or for fear of being condemned as racists for merely stating that this nation has an historic demographic; upon whose culture the societal scaffolding of our nation was built, and thus laid the foundations of a Creed by which all men can live.

The “crucible in which all the new types are melted into one,” said Teddy Roosevelt, “was shaped from 1776 to 1789, and our nationality was definitely fixed in all its essentials by the men of Washington’s day.” These “essentials” are derived from the historic Anglo-Protestant, Middle American core of the nation, in whose culture we find the British traditions of law, justice, and limits upon government power, the English language, a legacy of European art, literature, philosophy, and music, Protestant moralism, and an ethic of self-control, self-reliance, and self-assertion.

In the Anglo tradition, Americans will find their customs, prayers, precepts, and political ideas; the bicameral legislature, the division of government powers, a legislative committee system, and so on. In the Protestant tradition, Americans find responsiveness of government to the people, their work ethic, individualism, a zeal for religious and cultural restoration, and a deep skepticism of centralized state power.

What the Multiculturalists Can Teach Us
The Creed did not appear spontaneously, it is the product of the culture of this nation’s historic Anglo-Protestant demographic. Millions of immigrants and their children attained prosperity in America because they Americanized and adopted Anglo-Protestant culture. There is no question that this is precisely what historically has been the case, and we can find affirmation in the words of the critics of Americanization.

Will Kymlicka, a multicultural theorist, argued in 1995 that before the 1960s, immigrants “were expected to shed their distinctive heritage and assimilate entirely to existing cultural norms.” This process of Americanization Kymlicka grudgingly labeled the “Anglo-conformity model.” “Anglo-conformity” is on target, and it is precisely this process that has benefitted both the nation and the immigrants who have embraced it. Moreover, there are two implicit truths in Kymlicka’s words: America was never a multicultural society, and Americanization was in full effect until the 1960s.

How effective? Prior to waves of sustained immigration from Latin America after the 1960s, the United States was a land of 200 million people virtually all speaking English.

The Left has fully rejected this older approach to assimilation as “un-American.” It is, to the Left, un-American to ask that foreigners respect our laws and, if they are so fortunate as to be admitted to this great nation, embrace the culture that made it all possible. According to the Left, America’s historic demographic is the only thing wrong with America at all, and if these native-born Americans will not acquiesce their forced obsolescence, then they should simply leave the country to make room for more “good Americans” who are not American at all. America, however, is “not the common property of all mankind,” as Anton has so correctly noted.

There are no patriots among those who have slandered or misconstrued the history, culture, and principles of this nation in an effort to subvert and destroy all that we call America. There are no patriots on the Left. America belongs to no one but Americans. It does not belong to the foreign masses of the world and it does not belong to the Left who, having rejected the American way, cannot count themselves among its patriots.

This article was originally published by the Center for American Greatness, Inc.

Correction: This article was edited slightly on July 12 to reflect that California’s Latino population overtook the white population in 2014; California did not become a majority Latino state. According to U.S. Census figures, the Golden State’s Latino population is 38 percent.

Photo credit: Getty Images

This California mayor is trying to ban neckties from the workplace

Neck tiesCalifornia has long been a place where the government has tried to influence the quality of life by enacting a ban on this or a mandatory adoption of that.

Now a mayor in Southern California says he wants to ban neckties from the workplace, claiming the fashion accessory restricts blood flow to the brain.

R. Rex Parris, mayor of Lancaster, said he conceived the idea after reading a science blog that claimed neckties restrict 7.5 percent of blood to the brain, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“I spend a lot of hours every week on an elliptical or a bike just to increase blood flow to my brain, and it turns out every morning when I put on a tie I’m diminishing it,” Parris said.

The mayor’s proposal comes as the necktie’s presence in corporate America is waning. In 2015 a New York City Human Rights Commission said compelling men to wear ties is akin to demanding that women wear skirts because of their gender. …

Click here to read the full article from Fox News

Is Crony Capitalism Alive and Well in California?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image1661658If there’s one thing that unites Californians, it’s a disdain for crony capitalism.

What is crony capitalism, you ask? We see it all the time. Think local elected officials throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Amazon to try and lure their second global headquarters to their city. PRI’s senior fellow in business and economics Wayne Winegarden has written about lawmakers offering generous electric car subsidies that would only really benefit Tesla.

Hard-working people are annoyed when government picks winners and losers in the economy through tax giveaways, set-asides, contracting preferences, or other favored treatment.

Did you know that it also costs California taxpayers significant sums, as well?

Matthew Mitchell and Tammy Winter at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University have just released an interesting new study called, “The Opportunity Cost of Corporate Welfare.”

They argue that neither evidence nor economy theory suggests that these incentives work. In fact, taxpayers in California are footing the bill for these giveaways to favored companies and industries.

Mitchell and Winter calculated what it would mean if California eliminated all the corporate subsidies in the state tax code.

They found that with the savings, California could:

  • Reduce the corporate income tax by 36 percent,
  • Reduce the state personal income tax by 6.2 percent,
  • Reduce the state sales tax by 5.8 percent, and
  • Reduce the state’s overall tax burden by 1.4 percent.

This echoes what Wayne Winegarden has written in the “Beyond the New Normal” series. There is an opportunity cost to government spending decisions. With the right economic policies in place, we can see sustained economic growth across all sectors of the economy.

Like Winegarden, Mitchell and Winter argue that state policymakers should focus on policies that enhance the economic freedom of all citizens.

With California currently ranking 49th in economic freedom on the Cato Institute’s annual rankings, sadly it’s highly unlikely that a pro-economic freedom agenda will be embraced by the majority party in Sacramento any time soon.

Tim Anaya is communications director for Pacific Research Institute, where this article was originally published.