May 31, 2007
May 30, 2007
Iowans for Fred Thompson has been out in front in the Draft Fred movement and they have a good synopsis of Thompson's experience in "Why Fred Thompson"
A friend of mine recently returned to Alaska after a five year trek through the Lower 48. He sent me this excellent picture taken during a weekend with his family in Seldovia. Like me, Steve thought moving outside would be a good idea but Alaska has a way getting into the soul and pulling you back.
Poet Robert Service wrote in "Spell of the Yukon":
There's a land where the mountains are nameless, And the rivers all run God knows where; There are lives that are erring and aimless, And deaths that just hang by a hair; There are hardships that nobody reckons; There are valleys unpeopled and still; There's a land -- oh, it beckons and beckons, And I want to go back -- and I will.
May 29, 2007
Fortunately for me Iowa has newly elected Governor Chet "Ethanol" Culver at the helm, who ran on a platform of oil independence for the state (Not exactly sure how he is going to do that unless some wildcatter brings in a well in Bel Plain), but Chet has joined 21 other Governors in the 34th annual "Price gouging investigation." to show that they are serious about protecting the weak and downtrodden. They have fired off a natty little letter to congress demanding that somebody, anybody, get to the bottom of this craziness. Go Chet!
The pump finally tripped off at seventy two bucks, and I fired up that thirsty, rumbling 318 and quickly regained my senses. Hoping that Chet, congress, or anyone can interfere in the market and artificially control the price at the pump without far reaching repercussions is just craziness.
- So you reply....
- But the industry is a monopoly and that's not fair! Buck up little camper life's not fair, but the oil bidness is technically a oligopoly. Unless there is collusion between the limited number of sellers, which has to date not been proven, the sellers are only selling at what the market is willing to pay. When enough quit paying they'll lower their prices. The invisible hand of capitalism at work, ain't it cool.
- But Senator Clinton says she is going to take the profits and make us oil independent! Wake up damn it!!! The big hairy hand of Socialism always looks like the easy way out but just ask the folks in Venezuela how that's working for them.
- But Dick and his buddies are making obscene profits! Hmmm your right, but isn't that what corporations are expected to do? Buy yourself some stock in BP and realize that getting that stuff from the underworld to the tank is not a cheap proposition. One gulf oil platform costs in the neighborhood of $250,000,000.
- But I just don't get it! Of course you don't my friend, so for a quick primer on oil and its prices link here. Got to run I left the Power Ram idling in the driveway.
May 28, 2007
May 26, 2007
Today's deluge of business books exhaustively addresses problems with leadership, corporate strategy, sales, budgeting, incentives, innovation, execution, and on and on. But scant attention is devoted to a problem that plagues every workplace: Assholes. In a landmark Harvard Business Review essay, Stanford Professor Robert Sutton showed how assholes weren't just an office nuisance, but a serious and costly threat to corporate success and employee health. In his new book, Sutton reveals the huge TCA (Total Cost of Assholes) in today's corporations. He shows how to spot an asshole (hint: they are addicted to rude interruptions and subtle putdowns, and enjoy using "sarcastic jokes" and "teasing" as "insult delivery systems"), and provides a "self-test" to determine whether you deserve to be branded as a "certified asshole." And he offers tips that you can use to keep your "inner jerk" from rearing its ugly head. Sutton then uses in-depth research and analysis to show how managers can eliminate mean-spirited and unproductive behavior (while positively channeling some of the virtues of assholes) to generate an asshole free--and newly productive--workplace....
May 22, 2007
Now at the 100th anniversary of his birth for many Wayne still exemplifies the rugged individualist persona of America. Writer Joan Didion writes in ‘‘John Wayne: A Love Song,’’ ‘‘when John Wayne rode through my childhood, and perhaps through yours, he determined forever the shape of certain of our dreams.’’
"If everything isn't black and white, I say, 'Why the hell not?" he said and I am certain that many of the things in life that I see as black and white were influenced by that tough straight shooter known and admired the world over as the Duke.
Iowa Destinations : Winterset. On the occasion of his 100th Birhday the town of Winterset is hosting a 3 day celebration and is set to begin construction of the "John Wayne Museum." Link Here.
On Cable: TCM is showing several days of the Duke's movies. Some Personal Favorites: "The Quiet Man" with Maureen O'hara, "Big Jake" again with O'hara and his sons Patrick and Ethan.
Wayne Quote: "We must always look to the future. Tomorrow--the time that gives a man just one more chance--is one of the many things that I feel are wonderful in life. So's a good horse under you. Or the only campfire for miles around. Or a quiet night and a nice soft hunk of ground to sleep on. A mother meeting her first-born. The sound of a kid calling you dad for the first time. There's a lot of things great about life. But I think tomorrow is the most important thing. Comes in to us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday."
O'hara, Maureen. Statement before the U.S Congress in support of John Wayne to receive the Congressional Gold Medal. Link Here.
Senator Chuck Grassley R-IA had already listed the "Top 15 Flaws" of the bill on his website.
Tom Harkin on the other hand does not even list immigration on his issues page. Friday I emailed my esteemed senator and voiced my concerns with the bill. Today I received what I assume is the standard response which I will pass along for your reading enjoyment. You can contract Senator Harkin here and let him know that for many Iowans immigration is an issue.
Thank you for contacting me. I am always glad to hear from you. I appreciate your views on the need to reform our immigration laws. As you may know, after many months of negotiations, a bipartisan group of senators recently agreed on a comprehensive immigration reform package. Unfortunately, I was not a member of this working group, so while the general outline of the deal has been announced, I have only just received a copy of the bill language. At this time, I am still working my way through the text of the bill.While I have not decided whether or not I will support this piece of legislation,
I feel that we must work to fix our broken immigration system. I will be evaluating the new compromise bill based on the factors that I feel are most important to a comprehensive solution: the need to beef up security along our borders; the need to step up enforcement against those who hire illegal workers; and finally, the need to create a practical solution to allow undocumented workers presently in this country to come forward, undergo a background investigation, pay a fine as restitution for having been in the U.S. illegally, learn English, and maintain a clean criminal and work record.Please be assured that I will remember your concerns when the full Senate proceeds to consideration of this legislation. Again, thanks for sharing your views with me. Please don't hesitate to let me know how you feel on any issue that concerns you.
United States Senator
May 21, 2007
For the first 50 years of our nation's existence immigration was relatively small. By 1880 the last great wave of immigration most comparable to the current situation was underway and 584,000 new immigrants were entering American for the promise of freedom and jobs in the industrial age. By 1887, with the influx of immigrants at record heights, American citizens were questioning the effects immigration was having on wages and the social fabric of the country, and they were asking for change. Like today, politicians, influenced by big business to maintain cheep labor and protect what was becoming an important bloc of voters, kept the doors open. Finally with overwhelming support of the public, the 1924 Immigration Act returned the number of immigrants to the levels of the late 1870’s. The effect was a tightening of the labor market, elimination of sweatshops, rising numbers of middle class workers, and the ability of blacks to enter the new industrial workforce (Beck 37). The numbers of immigrants entering the country after 1924 averaged 170,000 per year. That was all to change in 1965.
President John Kennedy in his 1958 book "A Nation of Immigrant" wrote that a system that was weighted heavily toward Europeans was unfair to Asian populations wishing to migrate to American. In the aftermath of Kennedy’s assassination and with the country in the midst of the civil rights movement, Congress, with Kennedy’s book as a blue print, enacted the 1965 Immigration Act, with promises that immigration numbers would remain stable and that the racial makeup of the country would not change. Senator for life Edward "Teddy"Kennedy stated:
"Out of deference to the critics, I want to comment on … what the bill will not do. First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same … Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset … Contrary to the charges in some quarters, S.500 will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area, or the most populated and economically deprived nations of Africa and Asia. In the final analysis, the ethnic pattern of immigration under the proposed measure is not expected to change as sharply as the critics seem to think. Thirdly, the bill will not permit the entry of subversive persons, criminals, illiterates, or those with contagious disease or serious mental illness. As I noted a moment ago, no immigrant visa will be issued to a person who is likely to become a public charge … the charges I have mentioned are highly emotional, irrational, and with little foundation in fact. They are out of line with the obligations of responsible
citizenship. They breed hate of our heritage."(Senate Part 1, Book 1, pp.
But change it did. A system that was based on quotas was now based on the reunification of families. With the implementation of chain immigration the numbers grew exponentially. In 1966 323,000 arrived, 454,000 in 1968, and the numbers have continued to rise. Kennedy’s promise of maintaining the ethnic mix also turned out to be incorrect. A recent Rand Organization report states:
Another trend reshaping the U.S. demographic landscape is the growing diversity of an already ethnically diverse nation. Recent Census Bureau projections show a population in which people of Hispanic origin will shortly outnumber African Americans. Non-Hispanic white (Anglo) persons will themselves eventually become a "minority," shrinking too less than half of all Americans (probably before 2060) (Rand).
Riding this wave of legal immigration is a flood of illegal immigrants. The US Census Bureau estimates there were 7 million illegal aliens in the country in 2000. Others put that number as high as 11 million. Varied estimates put the annual influx at 350,000 to 1 million per year (NumbersUSA). There are those willing to discount these reports and embrace unlimited immigration and invoke the notion that we are after all a nation of immigrants. The term melting pot is the romanticized cliché from the beginning of the last century. But it doesn’t get anyone nearer to a consensus to what to do about the 11 million people that have broken the law to come to the United States. Perhaps the answer lies in the argument used most often, that illegal immigrants are just coming here to do the work that Americans refuse to do.
For some segments of the economy shortages of workers is a reality. Legal immigrants are increasingly filling jobs needing highly educated and skilled workers. On the other end of the spectrum is the low skilled, low paying jobs. The most well known of these jobs have traditionally been filled by migrant workers, an important part of the labor force in the agricultural sector for decades.
Today a shortage of farm workers exists as the itinerant farm workers increasingly move into jobs once reserved for middle class. Not only service sector jobs in the food and lodging industries but also jobs such as construction and meat processing. The effect of employers illegally hiring these workers are depressed wages and the loss of jobs in sectors that for decades were the mainstay of middle class America.
An Iowa example of these phenomena can be found in the story of Iowa Beef Processors. For years a job at the Storm Lake, Iowa packing plant was a prize. High pay, good benefits and safe working conditions were the norm. All that was to change in the 1980’s when changes in the industry forced the closing of the Storm Lake plant. The plant was to reopen under new management but immigrants replaced the local meat-cutters at half the pay. The ripple effect of the change was felt throughout the entire community as the money dried up and the locals moved away to find jobs in other areas (Beck).
As author Roy Beck explains, "The importation of hundreds of thousands of foreign workers each year is unnecessary. It ruins good occupations, it rewards callous business management, it penalizes businesses with a strong sense of corporate citizenship, and it creates sweeping changes for the communities that never requests and seldom approves them" (Beck).
Analogous to the situation affecting the country in the 1920’s, we find a labor market overwhelmed by workers willing to work for low pay with little regard for the safety. A return to the era of sweatshops, with the lowering of middle class incomes, and increased competition for jobs in the workforce that have traditionally been held by minorities.
The second argument for immigration is that the immigrant adds to the economic prosperity of the country. A study by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that immigration delivered a significant positive gain to the economy. It found that the typical immigrant and their children, depending on education level, would pay between $80,000 and $198,000 more in taxes than they collect in government services in their lifetime (Griswald). But the illegal immigrant population is not typical in education level or earning potential.
Economic studies in California, the state with the largest illegal immigrant population, indicate a staggering burden on the residents of that state. It is estimated the state spends $7.7 billion a year to school illegal alien children that now make up approximately 15 percent of the students. The states spends $1.4 billion to provide health care to illegal aliens and another $1.4 billion to the prison system to incarcerate illegal alien criminals Closer to home it is estimated that the state of Iowa now has an illegal population of 24,000. Data on the impact to education and healthcare are not available, but in 1999 Iowa asked the federal government to reimburse the state $2.4 million for the costs incurred in the incarceration of illegal immigrants in the states penal institutions (FAIR). In a report to Congress, Steven A. Camararta from the Center for Immigration Studies stated:
"Households headed by illegal aliens imposed more than $26.3 billion in costs on the federal government in 2002 and paid only $16 billion in taxes, creating a net fiscal deficit of $10.4 billion, or $2,700 per illegal household. With nearly two-thirds of illegal aliens lacking a high school degree, the primary reason they create a fiscal deficit is their low education levels and resulting low incomes and tax payments, not their legal status or heavy use of most social services (Fitzgerald).
The current immigration bill working its way through congress is seen by some as a way to integrate illegal workers into the mainstream while others only see another amnesty. Camarata’s report warns, "that granting legal status to illegal immigrants would dramatically increase their cost, causing the net fiscal deficit to rise to nearly $29 billion because, as Camaratta argues, unskilled immigrants would have access to more government services while continuing to make modest tax payments" (Fitzgerald).
All these facts and figures are all interesting, and they are important for Americans to know in forming their opinions about immigration, but they are merely the overt effects of an immigration policy that is in disarray and it is doubtful that the new legislation would be an improvment. The problem most people have with the immigration debate, like the issues of abortion or gun control, is how to responsibly frame the argument in such a way as to avoid getting drowned in statistics and mired in rhetoric. Unfortunately, to frame the argument for stopping illegal immigration in any way other than statistics, no matter the intent, runs the risk of being labeled racist.
Tom Krannawitter of the Claremont Institute suggests a starting point in a reasoned, civil discussion of immigration needs to be based on the basic principles on which our country was founded:
The United States is a sovereign nation…Our government rests on our social compact, and its only purpose is to protect the rights of those who have given their consent to the compact. Intrinsic to the idea of sovereignty is the distinction between those who are and those who are not part of the social compact. We may invite others from around the world to join our compact, and in fact America has a long and noble tradition of welcoming millions from around the globe who have come in search of civil and religious liberty and economic prosperity. But whether we admit one person or one million persons is a question to be answered entirely at our discretion. The distinction between those we welcome and those we want to keep out—say, terrorists whose purpose are to kill Americans—requires first and foremost that the American government secure our borders. Without secured borders, the American people cannot decide who will partake in the social compact they formed among themselves for their mutual protection (Krannawitter).
This new immigration bill is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Nothing more than another amnesty, rewarding those that have broken the law while playing lip service to the demands of the citizenry. Ronald Reagan once said: "The simple truth is we have lost control of our borders, and any country that does that can not survive." (Presidential News Conference, June 14, 1984) Washington must realize that the nation is demanding that the flow of illegals be stopped. Then after that is done we can all take a collective deep breath and decide the best way to integrate or remove eleven million people from our shores.
- Beck, Roy. The Case Against Immigration: The moral, economic, social and environmental reasons for reducing U.S. immigration levels back to traditional levels.
New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1996.
- Buchanan, Patrick. The Death of the West: How dying populations and immigrant invasions imperil our country and civilization. New York: St. Martins, 2002.
- Daugherty, Jon E. Illegals: The imminent threat posed by our unsecured US- Mexican border. Nashville:WND Books, 2004
- FAIR. "The Effect of Illegal Immigration to Californians" Federation for American Immigration Reform. November 2004. 12 December 2005. http://www.fairus.org/site/DocServer/ca_costs.pdf?docID=141.
- Fitzgerald, Mary. "Illegal Immigrants’ Cost to Government Studied." Washington Post. 6 August 2004.
12 December 2005. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A33783-2004Aug25.html
- Fonte, John D. "Does America Have an Assimilation Problem? Yes it’s not 1900 Anymore." The American Enterprise Online. 12 December 2005 http://www.americanenterprise.org/issues/articleid.12113/article_detail.asp
- Griswald, Danial. "Immigrations Have Enriched American Culture and Enhanced Our Influence in the World" Taking Sides. Ed. George McKenna and Stanley Feingold. Dubuque: McGraw-Hill 2005. 356-359
- Hsia-Chang, Maria. "Multiculturalism, Immigration, and Aztlan." Population Action Conference. Breckenridge, Co. 6 August 1999.
- Numbers USA. Illegal Immigration. NumbersUSA.com. 12 December 2005 http://numbersusa.org/interests/illegalimm.html
Krannawitter, Tom. " What is an American." The Claremont Institute. 21 December 2004. 12 December 2005 http://www.claremont.org/writings/041221krannawitter.html.
- Morrison, Peter. "Demographic Trends Foreshadow Major Economic and Social Challenges." Rand Corporation. February 1999. 12 December 2005.
- Simon, William E., "On Becoming American: Reasserting citizenship into the immigration debate." The Heritage Foundation. 21 July 2005. 12 December 2005 http://www.heritage.org/Research/PoliticalPhilosophy/hl890.cfm
- U. S Census Bureau, Summary File 3 (SF 3) Detailed Tables.12 December 2005 http://factfinder.census.gov/home/saff/main.html?_lang=en
- Wall, Allan. "Immigration Safety Valve Does Mexico Little Good." Albuquerque Journal 23 August 2004. 12 December 2005. http://www.abqjournal.com/opinion/guest_columns/211969opinion08-23-04.htm
- Zogby, John. "American Views of Mexico and Mexican Views of the US". Zogby International. 6 June 2005. 12 December 2005. http://www.immigrationcontrol.com/AIC+Zogby_Mexican_Opinion_Poll.doc.
May 19, 2007
May 03, 2007
The second run of reds began to trickle into the Kenai River and I reserved a "172" to fly down after work to flip flies for a few hours. It’s a short walk from the airport to the river and I found an opening in the line of anglers below the Seward Highway bridge. I waded in next to an old gentleman clad in shinny new waders and fishing a bargain store salmon combo. He explained that he had been at it for a couple days but while everyone around him was catching fish he wasn’t having much luck.
Catching a red on a Russian River fly is more art than science. The fish don’t eat after they enter the river to spawn, so the technique is to flip a fly twenty-foot upstream and with just enough lead to get it to the bottom where the fish are. The current should carry it along at a sufficient rate so that when it hits the fish in the nose they will react and grab it. The sinker bumping the bottom sends a tappity tap tap up the monofilament, through the rod and into your hand. Getting the feel for when the fish picks up the lure is what separates success from failure.
After an adjustment to his gear and a little coaching, my guest from Minnesota was hooking fish with regularity and boyish enthusiasm. His wife, screaming like a high school cheerleader, rooted him on from the bank while I netted his fish. Fish on!
Late that night under the light of the midnight sun I flew back to Anchorage with three fresh fish and a newly minted fish story. Unfortunately I realized when I got home that I had left my favorite old knife stuck in the riverbank.
It’s been 4 years since the Exxon Valdez and the offspring of the generation that returned that year that the commercial fisheries were shut down by oil have hit the rivers in mass. Fish and Game has announced that the daily limit on reds will be raised to ten. It’s time to make a meat run to fill the freezer for the winter.
Getting into the campground at Soldotna was a slow moving conga. I was stuck behind a behemoth whose bumper sticker proudly proclaimed that they were spending the kid’s inheritance, and the map of North American on the back had all the states colored in except for Alaska and the Yukon Territories. I wonder what they’ll do now. Progress had ground to a stop as this driver was evidently having some words with the gate attendant. When he finally moves on the attendant tells me that the guy was driving a hundred thousand dollar motor home but wanted to argue about a senior citizens discount for the camping space. Go figure!
After setting up camp I made my way down to the river and low and behold my friend from Minnesota was standing in the same spot that I left him in a week before. "Having too much fun to leave!" he exclaims. His wife, bless her heart, runs back to their camp to retrieve my knife. Karma on the Kenai I believe!
The river is a zoo. With the increased limit, combat fishing is the order of the day. The guy that was fishing a couple people down from me returned after taking his limit back to his camper. I mentioned that the daily limit is ten and he barks back, "You Alaskans think you own the whole damn place, blah, blah, blah." He moves down river a ways but keeps on fishing. I see him in the campground later that evening with two smokers and a pressure cooker, canning his catch that will probably end up in some Lower 48 flea market this winter.
I felt something hit my ankle. First one fish, then another, then another drifting by belly up. Upstream some Japanese were laughing and indicating that they accidentally lost the fish off their stringer, but I can see that they are letting loose the smaller ones so they can keep fishing. I waded upstream to give them hell but they "no speak English". They must have understood "Fish and Game" though because it didn’t take them long to scurry up the bank. I guess we can be tad selfish!
Steve and JJ arrived from Texas today. After years of hearing my stories and seeing stacks of fish pictures they have finally come up to visit. Steve wants to try and catch a barn door halibut so I made reservations for a fishing charter in the little port village of Homer.
By 6AM the dozen or so blurry-eyed crew that had signed up for this adventure were queued up on the dock waiting their turn to board. Once under way we motored out of the harbor onto the mirror calm waters of the bay and turned south along the beautiful glacier capped mountains of the Kenai Peninsula. Sea otters played and floated effortlessly by on their backs to the joy of the crew. One awestruck gal from Nebraska wondered aloud "What elevation are we at here?" and then, red-faced, realized the answer as the rest of us chuckle. Cameras come alive as a churning ball of orcas, impossible to count, breach and blow and dive with a tail slap as they gorge on a school of some unseen bounty. Try as he might Disney could never conceive an attraction such as this one. As we neared the end of the peninsula where the mountains begin to stair-step into the sea and the waters of the bay joins the north pacific, the wind and waves began to grow and as the boat came alive the atmosphere on board began to change.
The group of Germans that I had seen the night before whooping up a storm in the Salty Dog are the first to head to the rail. I have always wondered what it is about this affliction, which once started seems to spread like the Black Death through a crew of flat-landers. In no time we had a boatload of what Alaskans affectionately refer to as pukers. Today even the ones that put their faith in pills, patches, or prayers fell ill. One unfortunate symptom of the malady is that once you have it, it does not get better. You begin to hope for a quick and painless death. I have seen brave men reduced to begging, blubbering, babies offering to pay for everyone’s trip if only the skipper would return them to shore.
We eventually anchored over a chicken hole on the lee of Ugashak Island and commenced to fish. Even here, out of the worst of the wind, with the boat tethered to the seafloor, she swung and pitched and danced like a hooked Kenai King fighting to set itself free. One by one green gilled fishermen headed for the cabin, emerging occasionally to chum the churning green waters. It was not a pretty sight. With the help of the deckhands, several of us hauled in fish for those that had taken ill so that the trip was not a total loss for the rest of our companions.
The ride back in was no better as the boat plowed through the growing seas with waves now breaking completely over the top and onto the aft deck. Wide-eyed passengers held on white knuckled as the boat climbed and crested and raced down the backside of the twenty-foot waves. Even I began to wonder how far the old tub could list before turning turtle. As we re-entered the shelter of Kachamack Bay the worsening weather made even these protected waters a bone-jarring chop until we reached the mouth of the harbor.
Slowly our vessel pulled alongside the spot from which we departed hours before and the shaken and battered crew emerged from the cabin. Wobbly sea legs clambered to the security of the dock. Color slowly returned to tired faces, and a nervous laughter could be heard as people began to relive what they had just experienced. But then I heard several commenting that they wanted to see if they could find a charter for the next day, in spite of the fact that they were sure just hours before that they were knocking on heavens door. "E" ticket travelers indeed!