Sunday, February 5, 2017

Let My People Go!

"California is in many ways out of control." Donald Trump, Feb. 5th 
 (Bill O’Reilly Interview on Fox)

Another long blog, but perhaps the most important one I have ever written. For a nation of immigrants, we have turned into one of the least immigrant-friendly nations on earth. Until now, we have combed the earth for the best and brightest on earth, and those who have come to the United States from other lands have been among the most productive anywhere. So let’s look at the underlying statistics generated by objective or even conservative sources.
 “Immigrants are now a sizable segment of the U.S. workforce. In 2014, the nation’s 146 million workers included 24 million immigrants, accounting for 16.6% of total employment. Immigrants occupied an even more significant presence within the self-employed workforce last year [2014]. Some 2.8 million, or 19%, of the nation’s 14.6 million self-employed workers were immigrants. Thus, immigrants are also responsible for a good share of the jobs created by self-employed workers, hiring workers at virtually the same rate as the U.S. born.
“Overall, 11% of immigrant workers were self-employed in 2014, compared with 10% of U.S.-born workers. The incorporation rates are also similar. Some 4% of each group of workers had incorporated businesses. But there were proportionally more unincorporated self-employed immigrants than U.S.-born workers, 8% compared with 6%... [What’s more] when considered by racial and ethnic groups, the evidence shows that immigrants are engaged in running businesses far more than U.S.-born workers.” Pew Research Report (10/22/2015)
“One of the principal ways in which immigrants create jobs is through the businesses they establish. Immigrants to our country join native-born Americans in being risk takers. According to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, in 2014 immigrants continued to be ‘almost twice as likely as the native-born to become entrepreneurs.’ Using census data, the Partnership for a New American Economy estimates that immigrant-owned businesses ‘generate more than $775 billion in revenue, $125 billion in payroll, and $100 billion in income, employing one out of every 10 workers along the way.’ Moreover, immigrants made up 28.5 percent of all new entrepreneurs in 2014—up from 13.3 percent in 1996.” Immigration Myth and Facts, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, April 14, 2016.
But what is particularly fascinating is the difference in immigrant patterns from the West Coast when compared with the rest of the United States (the U.S. has a current population of 321 million). While there are pockets of “special immigration exceptions” (such as Cubans in South Florida), the general difference is that the east and central portions of this nation established their immigration patterns well before WWII, many in the 19th century or before. Italians, Irish, Scandinavians, East Europeans/Russians, etc. fled to the United States in droves. They did hard manual labor, worked on farms, mines, shipbuilding, construction, smelters and brutal assembly lines. They basically built the heavy industry when that was how you built nations… then.
These immigrants may have mostly practiced differing forms of Christianity – mostly Catholicism and various Protestant sects – but except for those descended from slaves, they were almost all white. The industries they built, generation after generation, were products of a fading “industrial revolution.” Pride of working with their hands, hard labor, was reflected in skyscrapers, coal mines and giant car manufacturing plants. But the world was changing, even as this productive belt of hard working Americans believed that they had a solid and permanent place in our economy, technology and global competition rocked their world in a bad way. They slowly became the Rust Belt and felt betrayed by a country they believe they built.
Our West Coast immigrants are recent… increasingly coming from countries where European white populations were largely absent. Sure you have a few stellar immigrants from “the old country” – like Google cofounder, Moscow-born Sergey Brin – but increasingly the top minds being lured to American companies, many having attended prestigious American universities, are/were people of color. The coveted high-skilled H-1B visas were going to people from India, China, Korea and other non-European venues. I might mention that Steve Jobs’ father was Abdulfattah Jandali, a Syrian (you know, the folks who cannot come here now). No Syrian immigrées, no Apple.
Unskilled and menial labor was covered by economic refugees from Latin America, overwhelmingly from Mexico, with second, third and further generations of Hispanics rising into California’s professions and our most senior corporate and governmental leadership positions. California has become in significant part a Hispanic land. I love that. My wife is half ethnic Mexican, born in Glendale, CA.
What we seem to be witnessing, as America splinters into irreconcilable factions, is a battle between pre- and post-WWII immigrants, mostly a battle between immigrants of the late 20th/early 21st century and those of the 19th century. Most of the newbies settled in what are now the cities and towns of the information age, where productivity is high and our future is decided, and not those built as mainstays during the industrial revolution, a bygone era. “Go West” was the cry, and they came. Cultural diversity is a hallmark of the modern world; insularity is product of a past that will never return.
I love the cultural and ethnic array of our brothers and sisters in Hawaii, and that it was a federal judge – not a “so-called judge,” Donald, appointed by a Republican president – in Washington State, responding to a filing by Washington’s Attorney General with full backing from his Governor, who shot down Trump’s rather clear anti-Muslim foray (excluding countries where he has done business) under guise of protecting us from countries from which not a single U.S. terrorist incident was born. The 9th Circuit also refused to reinstate the ban pending a full appeal.
The West Coast is seriously a long, unified cultural continuum of extreme commonality and technology… the leaders of the age of information and automation. Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, eBay, etc., etc.  Cal Tech, Stanford, University of Washington, Berkeley, UCLA, etc., etc.  Global fashion and culture are heavily determined by us coasties. We are the present and the future, very far removed from the values and problems of the Rust and Bible Belts, whom we have subsidized for years (see the federal tax discussion below).
Our food production carries “delicious” to every corner of the land. We have our own oil and natural gas, with access to more from our super-friendly nations north and south. We’ve led the fight to improve and sustain our environment and to keep our financial institutions honest and from harming us from excessive greed. We cherish tourism and the global trade that motivates our business sector and uses our airports and harbors to capacity. It’s how we earn our living. We aren’t built on international threats and bullying; we don’t want gun laws from a bygone era when we were mostly farmers living far apart. If those aren’t your values, “great”… but please don’t impose them on us. Those are the basics in California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii, reflecting our deepest respect for our fellow mankind and our planet… God’s gift to us, however you define your faith.
And we get a pretty raw tax deal from the rest of the country too. California (population 39 million), for example, only gets back 78 cents for every dollar we pay in federal taxes. Washington State (population 7.1 million) gets back 88 cents, Oregon (population 4 million) 98 cents. Our tax dollars wind up supporting other states. Okay, Hawaii takes about 12% more from the feds than it pays in taxes, but that is still a pretty small number given its population (1.4 million). According to The Atlantic (5/5/14), Mississippi “gets back about $3 in federal spending for every dollar they send to the federal treasury in taxes. Alabama and Louisiana are close behind… South Carolina: The Palmetto State receives $7.87 back from Washington for every $1 its citizens pay in federal tax.” Bible Belt welfare. California alone would be the sixth largest economy on earth if we were a separate nation. Add Washington, Oregon and Hawaii and…
Until you understand that any attack on recent immigrants is an intolerable attack on the essence of California, you can never understand why there are lots and lots of Californians (perhaps a majority) who see Donald Trump as having declared war on us. Our neighbors, families, friends, co-workers and local businesses are a mix of all sorts of religions, cultures and races. We don’t tolerate these differences, we thrive with them.
We eat well, invent and create like no other part of the country and ride the cutting edge of the future because of that diversity. It is who we are. Allow unbridled industrial effluents to pollute our air and water, release financial institutions from requirements of transparency and honesty, build a wall to tear our world into shreds, break-up families, threaten and clearly discriminate against religious, gender or ethnic groups and you declare your undying hatred of who we are, the whole damned West Coast (including Hawaii), especially California.
To see this clearly, you have to understand how California’s “recent immigrants” differ from the “immigrants of the last two centuries” of most of the rest of the United States; we need to look at hard demographics. The United States as a whole is 64% non-Hispanic white, 12.6% black and 16.3% Hispanic, with that latter statistic very heavily-weighted by California. Our religious make-up is reflected in the above map from Wikipedia, and that yellow-gold Evangelical/Baptist bloc is anything but subtle. While California has its fair share of Evangelicals – we actually do believe in freedom but not the tyranny of religion – we are a much broader mix (more on this below).
Here are California’s statistics: White (non-Hispanic) 42.3%, Hispanic 37.6% (Largest groups are Mexican, Salvadoran, & Guatemalan), Asian 14.9% (largest groups are ethnic Filipino, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Korean & Japanese), and African American 7.2%. We are 32% Protestant, 28% Roman Catholic (heavily Hispanic), 27% not religious (much higher in Washington and Oregon), 2% each practice Judaism or Hinduism, and 1% each are Muslim or Mormon. But in sheer numbers, California contains even more of America’s diversity.
According to Wikipedia using US Census data: “California has the most Roman Catholics in the United States, ahead of New York State, as well as large Protestant, non-religious, Jewish, and Muslim populations. It also has the largest Mormon population outside of Utah. The state also has a large American Jewish community, the largest in the western U.S., mainly concentrated in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Oakland,Sacramento and Palm Springs. It also has large Muslim communities in west Los Angeles, San Diego, Beverly Hills, Orange County, Santa Clara County, and the Modesto area.”
So let me put this to those who think that Donald Trump’s vision of America needs to be shared by all of us. The West Coast will never share those values or that perception. And if it is essential for Trumpists to live in a country where that vision is the national image, then let those parts of America who strongly disagree leave Trumpists to their alternative fact mythology. Out here on the Left Coast, we do not need to be made “great again.” We like who we are right now.
Need to change our values and who we are? By force if necessary? Then let us coasties leave the dis-United States of America. Let us form our own new nation that really will be based on those American constitutional values we do hold dear. There may be others – from New England down to Virginia or Northern Illinois and parts of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, maybe New Mexico and Colorado – who may want to join us or create their own new countries. You Trumpists can teach creationism, deny science, control women’s bodies, pollute your rivers, streams and aquifers, practice legal racial or religious discrimination, but we want no part of that. Before we start shooting at each other, however, please “rest of America,” let my people go! Peacefully. And no, Donald, we really don’t want to be controlled into your vision of America.
I’m Peter Dekom, and either we need to get back to the promises inherent in our constitution or it is time for the rest of America to let there be a separation of blue from red without violence.

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