August 31, 2017 Patrick Oliver-Kelley

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America is a confused place today. What has gone wrong is a decline in trust, as defined as the expectation that other people will act in ways that are fair to you. Since Trump’s electioneering and his election, there is precious little of trust about. After his Charlottesville performance, he shows himself to be politically inept, morally barren and temperamentally unfit for his office. The harm will spill over into the rest of his agenda.

Those who say most American can be trusted has declined from 44% in ’76 to 32% in 2016. My fear is that this distrust will contribute to our decline and eventual autocracy. “Trust has been our secret sauce,” says James Dimon of JPMorganChase…reconciling this distrust with the rosy business outlook is tricky. Distrust is toxic because it makes doing business more expensive. Trust in Big Business has fallen from 74% in 1976 to 61% in June of this year. No question that the financial crisis of 2007-8 blew a giant hole in the reputation of business and finance. Another measure is the revenue of legal firms rose by 103% from 1997 to 2012. My fear is that the country’s vast stock of trust built over a very long period of time is being depleted quickly.
The US economy continued its record streak of jobs growth adding 209,000 jobs for the 82nd month in a row to July. Second quarter GDP growth should increase to 2.9% reflecting stronger than expected retail Number. This is the ninth year of economic expansion.

What is critical to understand in light of the current political debate, is that contrary to conventional wisdom, less-skilled immigration does not just knock less-educated Americans out of their jobs. It most often leads to the creation of new jobs- at better wages- for natives, too. Most notable is that it helps many Americans to move up the income ladder. And by stimulating investment and reallocating work, in increases productivity.

There is no clear connection between less immigration and more jobs for Americans. Rather, the prevailing view among economists is that immigration increases economic growth, improving the lives of the immigrants and the lives of the people who are already here. Economists agree that other factors, notably technological improvements, are primarily responsible for the broader deterioration in the fortunes of the American working class. You might consider, for starters, the enormous demand for low-skilled workers, which could well go unmet as the baby boom generation ages out of the labor force, eroding the labor supply. Eight of the 15 occupations expected to experience the fastest growth between 2014 and 2024 — personal care and home health aides, food preparation workers, janitors and the like — require no schooling at all.

But the argument for low-skilled immigration is not just about filling an employment hole. The millions of immigrants of little skill who swept into the work force in the 25 years to the onset of the Great Recession- the men washing dishes in the back of restaurants, the women emptying trash bins of office buildings- have largely improved the lives of Americans.

The politics of immigration are driven, to this day, by the proposition that immigrant laborers take the jobs and depress the wages of Americans competing with them in the work force. It is a mechanical statement of the law of supply and demand: More workers spilling in over the border will inevitably reduce the price of work.

This proposition underpins President Trump’s threat to get rid of the 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in the country by half and create a point system to ensure that only immigrants with high skills are allowed entrance in the future.

But it is largely wrong. It misses many things: that less-skilled immigrants are also consumers of American-made goods and services; that their cheap labor raises economic output and also reduces prices. It misses the fact that their children tend to have substantially more skills. In fact, the children of immigrants contribute more to state fiscal coffers than do other native-born Americans.

We see supervillains bent on our destruction. But really, the threats we face are weak leaders without many options, cultivating fear and chaos as their best, and perhaps last, hope of survival.

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