Sunday, April 28, 2019

Crowded and Crazy

Joe Biden recently became the 20th Democrat to officially announce that they are running for President in 2020.

It is the most crowded field to ever vie for a political party's nomination.

Why are so many running?

I think a big reason is that running for President in the media-driven world we live in today is an easy way to build a political brand while at the same time providing the candidates a way to line their own pockets. The visibility they get in running increases their name recognition and opens opportunities for speaking fees, book deals and the like.

Look no further than how Bernie Sanders leveraged a failed Presidential campaign to become a millionaire after losing to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Here is a pictorial of the Democrats that are now in the race shown in the order in which they announced their candidacy.

Don't feel bad if there are names you don't recognize. I am a political junkie and I had to look up the bios of a couple of these candidates myself.

Credit: ReutersGraphics

One interesting factoid is that three of the candidates (Gabbard (38), Buttigieg (37), Swalwell (38)) are literally half the age of Bernie Sanders (77) and Joe Biden (76).

Biden and Sanders lead the current polls of the Democrat party who increasingly seems to love nothing better than to blame old, privileged, white men for every problem the country has. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as we move forward.

Here is the most recent polling data done by Monmouth which shows the polling strength of the announced candidates above as well as other candidates that may yet declare (DeBlasio, Bennet) and others who were rumored to be considering a run but have taken themselves out of the race (Brown, Holder, McAuliffe).

As you can see, the two old white guys right now are preferred by nearly half of the Democrat voters who were polled.

The Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg has had the fastest rising star among candidates over the last few months. Mayor Pete has gone from 0% to 8% in polling over the past three months. He seems to have primarily siphoned support from Harris (-3%), Warren (-2%) and O'Rourke (-3%).

Looking at this you have to ask whether we are really ready to elevate a 37-year gay Mayor from a city of 100,000 population to the highest office in the land?  However, being the "fresh face" has generally been more important than experience and competence with Democrat Presidential primary voters in the past. Look no further than the Obama vs. Hillary race in 2008. Or Democrat candidates like McGovern, Carter, Dukakis and Clinton. It even applied to JFK who bested old hand Hubert Humphrey in 1960.

It is way too early for me to start handicapping this race. There are a lot of televised town hall forums and debates to come to assess the candidates. The candidates are also each going to need to raise a lot of money to be able to stay in the race. The crowded field will make fundraising very important as there are only so many dollars to go around.

Most of these candidates have also never had to undergo the scrutiny of a national race. Who knows what that scrutiny turns up?

At this point I would think Bernie Sanders has the best chance for the nomination. He has been through this before. He starts the race with the biggest fundraising operation. There are also a lot of supporters who believe he was cheated out of the nomination in 2016 by the DNC. However, in the end, will Democrat voters nominate a 78-year old unabashed Socialist (he is not officially a Democrat in the Senate) as their nominee?

I have similar doubts about Biden. He will turn 78 shortly after the 2020 election. He also has the reputation as a gaffe machine. He had to drop out of the 1988 Presidential race because of evidence he plagiarized political speeches as well as in classwork he did in law school. He has also been found to have a penchant for exaggerations, embellishments and distortions about his background.

The sheer number of candidates assures us of a crazy campaign.

It will be even crazier due to the policy proposals that this group of Democrats has already set forth.

These are just a few of the crazy ideas that have been put forth by these candidates.

Support  for The Green New Deal and its trillions of spending and the proposed elimination of all fossil fuels, airplanes and cows

Cancellation of up to $1.6 trillion in student debt

Taxpayer funding of free public college tuition to anyone who wants it

Reparations to descendants of slaves of over $100 billion

Establishment of "Medicare for All" and elimination of all private health insurance

Abortions legalized up to and through the birth of the child

Taking down any border wall between the United States and Mexico and refusing to extradite any illegal immigrants that get into our country

Banning guns by executive order in direct defiance of the 2nd Amendment

Provide the right to vote for all felons currently in prison (including such model citizens as the Boston Marathon bomber).

It will be crazy.

I actually think the best line I have heard from any of the Democrat candidates is from Seth Moulton.
When asked what he thought he brought to the race and what differentiated him from the other candidates, he said,

"I'm not a Socialist. I'm a Democrat."  

I guess we will eventually find out if the Democrat party is really still controlled by Democrats or whether it has been completely taken over by the Socialists.

The Democrats may even make this a crazier year than when 17 Republicans set their sights on the GOP nomination in 2016.

If I need to remind you of why it is not wise to make predictions about possible Presidential nominees right now, consider this Quinnipiac polling data from the last week of April, 2015---exactly 4 years ago.

Source: Quinnipiac University Poll, April 23, 2015

Where is Donald Trump in that poll? Nowhere. He was not even mentioned in the polling question because his candidacy was considered such a long shot. Trump did not formally announce his candidacy until June 16, 2015.

This ought to tell all of us we are long way from knowing where we will be a year from now.

However, you can be assured it will be a crowded and crazy path ahead.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

A Tornado Tally and A Tale

Those that argue that man-made climate change is a scientific reality that requires a massive government response usually also state that our weather is already getting more violent and unpredictable.

In his 2006 film, "An Inconvenient Truth", Al Gore predicted that we had ten years to get things right on earth or face catastrophe. He stated that our weather would get increasingly warmer. As a result, our climate would become more severe with more hurricanes and tornadoes. And that by the summer of 2015 the Arctic sea would be ice-free.

13 years later, none of these predictions have proven true.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is now saying that we have 12 years before the world is going to end because of climate change.

Now that we are at the height of tornado season I thought it might be useful to show a chart that USA Today published recently that shows the number of violent tornados (over 166 mph) in the United States since 1950. 

Interestingly, contrary to what Al Gore and AOC would like you to believe, there was not one violent tornado in the United States in 2018. That has not happened since 1950.

Credit: USA Today

You can also see from the data in the chart that the number of violent tornados have actually decreased compared to the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's.

Since 1950 there have been increasing levels of carbon emissions released into the global atmosphere.

Based on the thesis of the climate alarmists this should have resulted in increasing levels of warming temperatures and violent weather. That is what they claim is the "science". However, look at the graph above and show me what the facts show.

I know something about violent tornados. I survived one exactly 58 years ago today when I was 11 years old.

I wrote about that experience 8 years ago in these pages.

Stay safe and don't believe the hype. The climate change alarmists like to talk about science. However, their "science" really involves nothing more than models and predictions. The past predictions and models have not proven out. They then ignore facts like those above that directly contradict the predictions they claim as "science".

Note that when I wrote the blog post below in 2011 we were experiencing a spike in tornado activity. Climate alarmists jumped on this at the time but the tornado activity quickly settled down.

Could it be that man has nothing to do with the weather?

Am I crazy in believing that it is in God's hands?

I needed to believe that 58 years ago today. 

A Tornado Tale
(Originally published 4/25/11)

50 years ago today I came close to death.  I was in a house that took a direct hit from an EF4 Tornado (winds of 207-260 mph) in Eaton, Ohio.  It was shortly before 4:00pm on a late April afternoon and I was in my bedroom organizing baseball cards with my best friend.  My mother was visiting a neighbor with my younger brother.  I looked out the back window and looming straight ahead about a half mile away was a tornado dancing back and forth right in front of my eyes.  It appeared to be on a direct path to our home.

I remember seeing details that you normally don't pick up in photographs.  I clearly could see lumber, shingles and other debris swirling around near the top of the twister.  We made a quick call to my friend's home to warn them of the approaching tornado and headed for the basement.  We bounded down the stairs. We heard the sound of a car's horn racing down the main road that was parallel to the tornado's path.  We later learned it was the family who operated the farm behind us who had decided to run for it rather than go to their basement.

A few seconds later the tornado hit. It was a deafening roar.  It was as if you were standing right by the railroad tracks and a train was going by at enormous speed. I coveried my ears with my hands because of the roar.  I remember my friend and I shouting at each other at the top of our lungs but you could not hear a word over the sound.  Suddenly it got even louder and it sounded as if the entire house was caving in. I remember looking up at the floor and joists above me and thinking that this was it.  I fully expected to be soon buried alive.  Time did slow down.  I remember thinking I had just turned eleven years old and this was the end of the road for me.  It then became deathly quiet.  The floor had held and my friend and I checked each other to be sure we were all right.

We cautiously started up the basement stairs.  The door would not open but we both put our shoulder to it and pushed hard. We got it about half way open and slithered out the basement door.  Staring at us through the adjoining door to the garage was a steel beam that had been thrown around like a tooth pick. It had penetrated almost a foot through the door into the house.  The windows on the back side of the house that faced the tornado were all broken.  The draperies hung in tatters and were now blowing in the wind.  The windows on the front of the house were intact but were caked with dirt and grass that looked like it had been sprayed on. The dirt was so thick you could not see through the windows at all.  All through the house lay debris. Drywall from the ceiling was laying all over. You could look up and see the sky through the open roof.

I tried to make my way back to my bedroom but I couldn't navigate the debris that littered the hallway.  My friend and I went out the front door and we could see the tornado continuing on its way to more destruction down the road.  The tornado looked much better from the backside.

I did not have shoes on but I began running toward the house where my mother was.  It had been spared but for some minor damage.  It was a debris field of 2x4's, downed electric wires and protruding nails to get to her. I saw some hay straw blown straight in to some siding as if it was a nail. I reached my mother and looked back at our house for the first time.  I almost could not believe the sight.  It looked as if our house had been bombed.  I had a hard time choking back tears as I saw our house.  I kept saying to my mother, "Look at our house".  She just kept repeating, "It is ok.  You are alive". Even after 50 years, you do not forget a day like that.

Photographs and other background on the tornado of April 25, 1961

Photo taken of the tornado by a local photographer at close to the time it destroyed our house.

Photo of what was left of the Turner farmhouse that was directly behind our house.  Witnesses said that when the tornado hit the 2-story frame house it lifted it straight up and the house exploded. The entire remains of the house was deposited in the basement as debris.  Fortunately, the Turner family did not go to the basement for shelter.  Mr. and Mrs. Turner started for the basement but their 20-year son did not feel the house could withstand the tornado.  They jumped in their car and made a run for it.  That decision undoubtedly saved their lives. It was their car horn I heard in the basement right before the tornado struck.

Our house was totally constructed out of stone.  I was in the basement on the left side of the house as you look at this picture.  The people are on top of debris that used to be the garage and a back porch that were on a slab.  It was the sound of the collapse of this part of the house that had me thinking the entire house was coming down on me. You can also see that the entire roof on the side of the basement in was in was destroyed.

The house as it looked shortly after construction in 1957 (4 years before the tornado). I was in the bedroom looking out the window on the far right side of the house when I first saw the tornado approaching.

The house from the right front showing the collapsed garage.  I was in the basement near this corner of the house when the tornado struck.

Through April 24, 2011 according to the National Weather Service, there have been 438 confirmed tornadoes in the United States. Only one has been an EF4 similar to the Eaton tornado of 1961.  We have already seen 306 tornadoes in April, 2011. This is the highest April total ever.  The previous record was 267 in 1974. The average number of April tornadoes is 163.  Keep your eyes on the sky and take shelter immediately if one of these terrible twisters heads your way.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Move On is known for its far-left advocacy of progressive politics.

This is how MoveOn describes itself on its website.

Whether it’s supporting a candidate, passing legislation, or changing our culture, MoveOn members are committed to an inclusive and progressive future. We envision a world marked by equality, sustainability, justice, and love. And we mobilize together to achieve it.

It is probably not surprising that MoveOn also has this graphic prominently displayed on its web home page.

It wants Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump immediately for his abuse of power and violation of public trust.

I guess they don't love President Donald Trump. Would they love Mike Pence any more?

What I find ironic in all of this is that MoveOn was created in 1998 following the release of the report of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr on President Bill Clinton's activities in The White House.

The founders of what became launched a petition drive initially called "Censure and Move On" in which it asked people to demand that "Congress must Immediately Censure President Clinton and Move On to pressing issues facing the country."

Why were MoveOn founders Joan Blades and Wes Boyd motivated to start the petition drive and the organization?

They were concerned about "the partisan warfare in Washington" following revelations of the affair that President Clinton had with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Let's recap all of this. wanted the country to move on after the Starr report because of partisan warfare in Washington and the pressing issues facing the country.

However, now does not want to move on when Donald Trump is President despite the pressing issues facing the country today.

And was founded because of concerns about "partisan warfare" in Washington?

It is impossible to make this stuff up.

The Mueller report found no collusion with Russia by any person in America regarding the 2016 election. Mueller could also not make any credible case for obstruction of justice by President Trump who was then cleared of any charges by the Department of Justice. Consider further that you might also be be a little upset at a 2-year investigation into collusion with Russia when you did nothing of the sort.

My suggestion to is simple---Move On. There are pressing issues facing the country. recognized that at one time.

Why not now?

It must have something to do with "partisan warfare in Washington".  was very concerned about it in 1998. However, they are now responsible for contributing to it in 2019.

Move On!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Student Debt Distress

I spoke to 140 students at the University of Cincinnati on "Making Their Money Count After College" a few weeks ago.

During my talk I asked the students how many of them would graduate with student loan debt. Almost all of them raised their hands.

I told the students they were not alone. They join 45 million other Americans who owe money on student loan debt.

Total student loan debt is now $1.67 trillion.

Let's put that number in context.

That number is now higher than credit card and auto loans, combined, according to

That number is greater than the entire GDP of Russia.

That number is also greater than the combined assets of financial giants Goldman Sachs ($957 billion) and Morgan Stanley ($866 billion).

Consider these numbers and then also consider political candidates telling young people that they are going to provide free college tuition or forgive student loans. If you think of it in practical terms, you cannot do one without the other. How can you forgive current student loans and not make college free going forward? How can you provide free college tuition prospectively but not wipe out student loans retroactively? In any form it would be a fiscal disaster that would spin out of control.

Beyond that, what about those people who scrimped and saved the money for their child's college education? What about those students who worked and saved the money to put themselves through college so they would not have to borrow? Shouldn't they be entitled to reparations if loans are forgiven or free college is given to others prospectively?

Underlying all of this is the fact that no segment of the economy has seen costs grow at a faster pace than tuition and fees for higher education over the last 30 years. College costs have increased at about twice the rate of health care over that period. Overall, college costs have grown at about four times the rate of inflation.

College costs could not go up without a supply of money to pay for it. Just as is the case with health care costs, college costs have become heavily dependent on the flow of federal money into the system.

Ironically, a program that was designed to assist students to afford college seems to be making it more unaffordable with each passing year. That is what occurs over and over when a well-intentioned "liberal" idea meets the real world. A desire to do good by government ends up being the undoing of the very people it was intended to help.

Fiscal watchdog has recently completed a budget analysis of the U.S. Department of Education with a specific focus on the $120 billion in annual subsidies paid for higher education in the form of grants and student loans. Student loans make up 79% ($95 billion) of that annual amount.

One of the findings is how much the Ivy League is receiving in Department of Education funding despite the massive endowments these schools have.

For example, Harvard College got $154.1 million in federal subsidies for student education despite the fact that it has a $34 billion endowment.  Columbia received $263.2 million despite having a $9 billion endowment.

Why is the federal government funding grants and student loans for colleges with such large endowments? Why aren't schools with large endowments required to fund college loans for their own students? Why wouldn't loans to their own students not be considered a good investment for their endowment funds?

I wrote about the size of the Ivy endowments two years ago when in the aggregate they totaled $119 billion for the eight schools. At that time, those funds were sufficient to pay the tuition of every student at these colleges for the next 51 years without any further growth in the endowment!

When you consider that the universities also received the benefit of the charitable contribution tax subsidy as they received the donations that make up that endowment, the case is even stronger that reforms need to be made regarding federal student loans at schools with large endowments.

Subsidies to the Ivy Leagues pale in comparison to what is flowing to other schools, particularly large public university systems with lots of students.

Here is a list of the top 10 colleges by the amount they received in grants, direct payments and student loan monies for the most recent fiscal year.

The City University of New York received over $1.1 billion in federal education subsidies last year?


Notice two of the schools on the list are for-profit colleges (University of Phoenix and Grand Canyon University). Combined, they got about $1.2 billion in federal funds.

What are the graduation rates at these two schools?

Phoenix  17%

Grand Canyon  31%

With graduation rates like that what chances do these students have to pay-off the loans they took to attend these schools? They have the debt but they don't have a degree.

Why should the taxpayers have to bear the cost of future defaults from these loans?

Why aren't these schools required to at least share some the default risk? They gained the dollar benefit upfront. Why should they not bear the financial risk if the loan goes unpaid?

A lot of people argue that more students should be going to junior colleges or community colleges for a couple years to keep college costs lower and to limit student loan debt. That generally sounds like a good idea.

However, look at the student subsidies paid to these schools and the graduation rates.


As bad as all of this is, it actually gets worse when you consider the education money flowing to hair and beauty schools.

The largest school, Empire Beauty School, received $534 million in federal education subsidies between 2014 and 2017.

Empire charges students $14,000 in tuition per year to learn how to cut and style hair, apply makeup and give massages over a one to two year period required for graduation. Most students pay with federal student loans.

What is the average pay of their graduates? The New York Times did a study of regarding the economic outcomes of students from these types of schools. At age 34 the median income of Empire Beauty School graduates was $18,800 per year.

Does that sound like a good investment? Take on $14,000 in student debt to get a job that pays $19,000 per year?

None of this could occur but for the massive amount of federal government money made available to facilitate it.

That money is the root cause of why a college education (and beauty and barber schools) have become unaffordable.

The answer is not to throw even more money at it as liberal politicians so often want to do.

It is time to put more accountability on the educational institutions who reap the benefits by making them put more skin in the game.

That should be the first step to putting an end to the student debt crisis that is causing so much distress to so many.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Journeying Out

What is the safest mode of transportation?

That is a question we often hear and it seems to be asked more when there is a high profile accident like the recent Boeing 737 Max airliner crash in Ethiopia.

We often hear that airline travel is the safest way to travel.

However, a lot depends on how the calculation is done.

Do we consider miles (or kilometers) traveled per fatality?

Do we consider the amount of time that was traveled per fatality?

Or do we consider fatalities per journey?

Most calculations you see measure fatalities per mile traveled.

However, it could be argued that what people are really asking when they pose this question is what are the chances they will embark on a trip and end the journey safely.

Here is a chart that shows the safety of various modes of transportation measured per one billion journeys.

I doubt many are surprised that embarking on a skydiving adventure or getting on a motorcycle are pretty risky.

You probably also knew that getting on a bike was riskier than getting in a car but did you realize it is four times riskier?

Walking is also as risky as getting in a car. After all, those cars are usually in close proximity to where you are walking. However, did you know that getting on a bus is almost 10 times safer than getting in a car?

Based on this measure, air travel is also not nearly as safe as it is normally portrayed. Each time you get on a plane you are actually taking on about three times the risk compared to each time you get in a car.

Air travel involves long distances and few overall passengers so its statistics look much better when calculated on a per mile basis.

Auto travel involves a lot of small trips over short distances with a few passengers each time but spread over trillions of trips.

Bus travel generally involves slightly longer trips than cars but many more passengers on each journey.

To show you how the statistics vary based on the measurement used, here is the same data (excepting skydiving) viewed by journeys, hours and miles.

Credit: Wikipedia

Air travel looks much better when measured by time and it looks fantastic based on miles. There is nothing even close.

Bus and rail look safe no matter how you measure it. Likewise, riding a motorcycle is risky on all counts.

What is the big takeaway from all of us.

I say it a lot in the pages of BeeLine.

"Context is everything when assessing anything."

It applies even when assessing transportation safety.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Bernie's Returns Reveal A Lot

Socialist Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders likes to rail against the rich. However, his tax returns reveal that is just what he is.

Sanders reported over $1 million in adjusted gross income ("AGI") on his 2016 and 2017 tax returns and over $500,000 in 2018.

How does a public servant get that rich? The easiest path today is to run for President and write a book.

I guess that explains why we have nearly 20 Democrats now running for President and that number is likely to climb. There is no better way to gain fame and fortune in this media era we live in than declaring a run for the Presidency. I still find it ironic that the one guy who did not need to do that to get fame and fortune is the one who is criticized the most for using the office for financial gain. Forbes magazine actually reported that Trump has lost wealth as President. Every other person gains wealth. Look no further than Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton for ample evidence of that.

Sanders said last night on a town hall meeting on Fox News Channel that he was not going to apologize for writing a great book (did he really write it or was it a ghostwriter?) that people wanted to read and he made a lot of money on.

Bernie Sanders at Fox News Channel Town Hall, April 15, 2019

I agree. More power to Bernie for cashing in. However, let's be real. Sanders would not have had two people interested in what he had to say if he was not a Senator from Vermont and ran for President. Everything he has "accomplished" was done on the public dole. Everything he might accomplish in the future will be done the same way.

That is why it is easy for Bernie to say that he wants to tax the rich, redistribute the wealth and pay more taxes individually. The economics are simple. Bernie the politician gains power and money that are many multiples of what he might ever pay in taxes individually. That power comes from the money in other people's pockets that he wants to trade for votes.

Sanders earns his reputation as a Socialist honestly. Until he was age 40 he never had a steady job or paycheck. Of course, when he got a steady job it was a government job---Mayor of Burlington, Vermont.

Investor's Business Daily provided some useful background on "Bernie Sanders, The Bum Who Wants Your Money" in an editorial in 2016.

Sanders spent most of his life as an angry radical and agitator who never accomplished much of anything. 

One of his first jobs was registering people for food stamps, and it was all downhill from there.
Sanders took his first bride to live in a maple sugar shack with a dirt floor, and she soon left him. Penniless, he went on unemployment. Then he had a child out of wedlock. Desperate, he tried carpentry but could barely sink a nail. “He was a shi**y carpenter,” a friend told Politico Magazine. “His carpentry was not going to support him, and didn’t.”

Then he tried his hand freelancing for leftist rags, writing about “masturbation and rape” and other crudities for $50 a story. He drove around in a rusted-out, Bondo-covered VW bug with no working windshield wipers. Friends said he was “always poor” and his “electricity was turned off a lot.” 

They described him as a slob who kept a messy apartment — and this is what his friends had to say about him

Of course, reviewing his tax returns reveal how wrong Sanders is when he decries our tax system. They also raise questions as to how he manages his own money.

A popular theme of Sanders is that the rich don't pay enough. We need to make our tax system more progressive so the rich pay "their fair share."

Let's take a look at that argument by looking at Bernie's tax returns.

In 2015, before the book royalties started coming in, Bernie had AGI of around $250,000. His federal and state income tax payments were $43,000---an effective tax rate of 17%.

In 2017, after the book money flowed in, Bernie had AGI of $1,132,00. His federal and state tax income payments were $488,486 ---an effective tax rate of 43%.

To put in more simply, Bernie's income increased a little over 4 times. His income tax bill increased over 10-fold. That is the result when you have a very progressive tax system. How much more progressive does Bernie want it to be?

What is also revealing to me about Bernie's tax returns is, that despite the millions he earned the last few years, there is little evidence of where it went (other than in income taxes) by reviewing his returns.

You would think that when someone comes into that type of windfall you would expect that some part of money would go into interest-bearing bank accounts, money market funds, bonds or stocks. This would be reflected on the returns in increased interest income and dividends.

Bernie reported $96 in interest income and no dividend income in 2015. He reported $381 and $1 in dividend income in 2018. Bernie does not seem very focused on saving for a rainy day. My children had more interest and dividends than this from savings from their summer jobs when they were teenagers.

What did he do with his new found wealth?

He didn't spend it on medical expenses. He reported just $2,250 in medical expenses for 2018. It was about the same in 2016 and 2017.

He didn't give it to charity. He gave 3.4% away in 2015 and the same percentage in 2018.

I have read that Bernie has purchased another house or two with his new found wealth but that is not apparent in looking at his returns. He took a deduction for $11,953 in property taxes in 2015 and $11,604 in 2018. That does not suggest he owned more real estate in 2018 than in 2015.

He may have paid down part of his home mortgage. He paid $21,658 in mortgage interest in 2015 but that amount was down to $11,804 in 2018.

It is a mystery to me how you can earn millions over the course of several years and there is no evidence of where it went by looking at that man's tax returns.

I will give this much to Bernie. He is a socialist through and through. He has not invested anything in the American system of capitalism. He apparently has not even purchased U.S. Treasury securities or U.S. savings bonds. He does not personally support many charitable activities. There is little to suggest that he is invested in anything but himself.

Of course, the Democrats are hell-bent in trying to get a hold of Donald Trump's tax returns. Would they also be revealing? I have no doubt that there would also be interesting information in those returns as well.

However, it surely would not show any evidence of "collusion" with the Russians which is the reason the Democrats claim they need to see the returns. It more likely shows that Trump may not be quite as wealthy as he claims to be. He might have paid less in taxes than you might think because of large (legal) depreciation expenses on his properties. It might also show that Trump is no more generous with his money than Bernie is.

However, those returns also undoubtedly show the expansive and complex real estate empire that Trump built and the thousands of jobs that were created in the process for other Americans.

Say what you will, but Donald Trump has a long history of investing and putting money to work in the United States of America. He is what is called a "maker".

Bernie Sanders, from all appearances, is nothing but a "taker."

Is he going to "take" the Democrats and the country for a ride as well?

Sunday, April 14, 2019

No Gain Without A Lot Of Pain

"Medicare for All" has become a popular theme for many Democrats and that party's Presidential candidates.

Bernie Sanders introduced his proposal last week. Predictably, it is short on details and makes no mention of how it would be paid for.

It is claimed that going to a government-run single payer program will massively reduce administrative expenses and lower health care costs for the American public. In so doing, private insurance companies, and their "obscene profits", will be eliminated from the system.

I have written before how the facts about healthcare costs are often much different than it is portrayed by politicians and understood by most of the public at large.

For example, one fact that is often overlooked is that the average cost per day for a hospital stay is actually higher in a non-profit hospital than in a for-profit hospital. The costs are also higher in a state/local government run hospital than a for-profit one. I wrote about this in 2013 but it is still true today.

This is exactly the opposite of what Democrats would have you believe when they argue that healthcare should be a not-for-profit government function. They argue government or non-profits are able to deliver healthcare better and cheaper as there is no profit motive adding to costs.

Here are the latest average costs per inpatient day for hospitals based on ownership according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. All of the other charts below are also from the KFF with the exception of the out-of-pocket expenditures by country comparison chart which is based on WHO data.

When you consider that hospital costs are the biggest component of national health expenditures, it would seem to be a pretty significant fact that for-profit hospitals are over 20% less costly than non-profits.

Why is this? I explained in my previous post.

A big reason for the higher costs with non-profit hospitals is the lack of accountability. They are not accountable to tax collectors, shareholders, and most particularly, patients (due to our third party payment system where it is rare that the bill is paid by the person receiving the treatment).

How about another fact that most people are not aware of? Many complain about high deductible plans today, which has meant more out-of-pocket spending by patients. However, the reality is that out of pocket costs still make up only 11% of total U.S. health care expenditures in the United States. In 1970, it was 33%.

Americans are also paying less of the total share of national health expenditures in out-of-pocket expenses than other countries.

How much better can it get on this score? Would "Medicare for All" lower these "out of pocket" costs? Our out of pocket costs are already lower than in the "socialist" systems.

Let's also look at the components of U.S. national health care expenditures to determine how big the effect would be if we could reduce administrative costs (including all private insurance profits) from the system.

Here is where the $3.5 trillion in healthcare expenditures went in 2017 that represented about 18% of the entire GDP of the country.

Hospitals account for 33% of all costs. Physicians and clinics are 20%. Drugs are relatively small at 10%.

Total expenditures per capita have increased 30-fold since 1970. Adjusted for inflation, costs have increased 6-fold!

Administrative costs (included in other health costs above) make up just 7.4% of total costs. This includes all private and public plan administrative expenses and all the profits of the private insurance companies. 92.6% of healthcare costs would remain even if you removed all private insurance companies and administrators in the system.

In other words, you could eliminate all the administrative costs that are being paid for by all the private insurance plans, Medicare and Medicaid and you would only save about one year of health care inflation.

Granted, there are internal administrative costs in the costs of each hospital and medical provider but it strains credulity to believe that this alone is going to significantly lower healthcare costs in the United States.

What can be done? There is no easy answer despite what glib politicians might tell you. In fact, as I have written before in my post "Why Is Health Care So Expensive", everything suggests that the problem will get even worse no matter what the policymakers do. Every factor is trending against controlling health care costs.

More and more medical technology becomes available everyday. Americans have rebelled against every attempt to limit choice in selecting doctors, hospitals, etc. Americans are getting older. Americans are not getting any healthier and the United States still has more money to spend on healthcare than any other country. Attempts to control costs are akin to trying to change course heading into a Category 5 hurricane.

How could health care costs take a smaller bite of our economy and household budgets?

There are only three options.

Hospitals, doctors and other providers have to make less money.
Patients need to see their care rationed or limited in some way.
We all need to get a lot healthier.

"Medicare for All" sounds great as a theory. 56% in a recent poll stated they favored the idea. They liked the idea of guaranteed health insurance (71% favor) and eliminating health insurance premiums and reduced out of pocket expenses (67%),

However, support collapses when people hear exactly how the plan would have to work--eliminate private health insurance (37%), require most people to pay taxes (37%), threaten current Medicare (32%) and delays in getting medical tests and treatments (26%).

The bottom line is this.

There will be no gains in controlling healthcare costs without a lot of pain on someone...and most likely, everyone.

Don't let any politician convince you otherwise.

If you want to actually consider a system of healthcare that might work at controlling costs, while serving the American people better, read my previous blog post "Revolutionary Replacement".

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Castles in the Sky

Home ownership in the United States reached its highest level ever in the Fall of 2004 when 69.2% of households were living in an owner-occupied residence.

That number started to dip for the next several years as housing affordability started to become an issue. Home ownership then went on a massive dive beginning in 2008 as the liberal underwriting of mortgages became known and the Great Recession followed.

Homeownership Rate in USA

By the second quarter of 2016 home ownership had fallen to 62.9%. We had not seen a number that low in 50 years.

The last couple years have seen an uptick in home ownership but housing affordability is becoming a bigger and bigger issue in many parts of the country. This is despite the fact that mortgage rates are still near historic lows.

This graph shows average 30-year mortgage rates since 1971.

30-year average Fixed Rate Mortgage in USA

Recent data suggests that average Americans can't afford a home in 70% of the country.

Even with rising wages and falling mortgage rates, Americans can't afford a home in more than 70 percent of the country. Out of 473 U.S. counties analyzed in a report, 335 listed median home prices more than what average wage earners could afford, according to a report from ATTOM Data Solutions. Among them are the counties that include Los Angeles and San Diego in California, as well as Miami-Dade County in Florida and Maricopa County in Arizona.

Nationally it takes about 1/3 of an average person's income to purchase an average home. However, in Brooklyn and Manhattan it takes 115% of income and it takes 103% in San Francisco.

All of this raises a question in my mind as to what happens if mortgage rates rise to the 6%-8% range? This would not be unusual. These rates have been common except for the last 10 years (when they have been lower) and in the 1975-1985 period (when they were higher).

If  houses in many of areas of the country are unaffordable for so many people with 4% mortgage rates, what happens to house prices if rates rise?

Unless incomes rise dramatically it has to result in falling house prices in those areas where affordability is a problem. That is just basic economics.

In what states is housing affordability a problem?

I came across this map recently that shows the salary you need to buy an average price home in each of the 50 states in the USA.

It takes $154,000 in income to buy the average home in Hawaii and $120,000 in California.

On the other hand, West Virginia ($38,320), and my home state of Ohio ($38,400), are the best places in the country to live if you are looking for affordable housing.

As you might expect, most of the states with the worst home affordability are on the coasts.

However, Colorado is near the top and is actually worse than states like New York, Connecticut, Florida, Oregon and Washington for affordability.

Why is that?

My guess is that it is due to the fact that a lot of people are willing to work for lower wages in Colorado for lifestyle reasons. At the same time, the terrain in Colorado limits buildable lots making land costs for housing high.

The same is undoubtedly true in Utah, Idaho and Montana as well.

At the other end of the spectrum, new building lots in Ohio typically can be had by converting a corn field into a subdivision and Ohio's economic foundation centered on manufacturing has traditionally meant relatively strong middle class incomes.

In the end, the laws of supply and demand answer most economic questions.

Demand in many states has outpaced the supply of houses. This has pushed prices higher and made more and more houses unaffordable to the masses.

However, no castle can be built endlessly in the sky. At some point, it comes back to earth. Economics also teaches us that it is those castles that are the highest in the sky that have the greatest potential to fall.

Are we already starting to see signs that housing prices may have risen too much? Over the last year, houses in the lowest price tier has seen accelerating price appreciation. On the other hand, high-priced houses nationally have actually declined in price over the last year.

Credit: AEI Center on Housing Markets and Finance

It is at times like this I am very happy to be living in a debt-free home in Ohio.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Facts and Fiction

We hear a lot about "fake news" these days.

How does it occur?

It usually results from a journalist with an agenda who wants the story to reflect their world view.

That world view often developed in their mind because they heard a narrative repeated over and over again until it is assumed to be a fact.

Despite being a journalist, they don't take the time to research and actually report the facts. They never stop to think that the narrative might be wrong. They end up reporting fiction as if it were fact.

Let's take a look at three such narratives that are common that we often hear in the reporting of the mainstream media. Let's then look at some recent facts.

Trump supporters are deplorable conservative extremists who are outside the mainstream in their political views.

Here is a scatterplot chart by Lee Gutman of the Democracy Fund's Voter Study Group that looked at Trump and Clinton voters on a two dimensional axis that asked their views on an economic liberalism/conservative index (views on social safety net, trade, inequality and active government) and a social/identity liberalism/conservative politics index (views on moral issues plus views on African Americans, immigrants and Muslims).

Voters with political views in the middle on both the economic and social/identity dimensions would put them right in the middle of the scatterplot. A voter in the lower left quadrant would have extreme liberal views. A voter in the upper right quadrant would have extreme conservative views.

Credit: Democracy Fund Voter Study Group

Which voters in 2016 held more extreme overall political views? Trump or Clinton?

There are almost no Trump voters clustered in the upper far right hand quadrant. Contrast that with the Clinton voters in which the mass of voters is all deeply within the lower left quadrant.

Which voters are more extreme in their views?

Trump's position on immigration is racist, xenophobic, extreme and he is alienating Hispanic voters in record numbers that will destroy the future of the Republican party.

How does that "reporting" square with the latest polling data of likely 2020 general election voters by McLaughlin & Associates that finds President Trump's approval rating with Hispanics at 50%! That is higher than his overall approval rating in this poll which was 49%.

I thought it was also interesting that Trump had a higher approval rating with voters in the East than the Midwest in this poll. That also goes against conventional wisdom.

Notice that Trump's approval with African Americans is 16%. In a vacuum, that number is less than impressive. However, when you compare it to the fact that McCain only received 4% of this vote in 2008 and Romney got 6% in 2012, it looks a lot better. That 16% approval is also double the percentage that Trump got from Blacks in 2016.

Less you want to discount the McLaughlin poll, Rasmussen's daily track poll of April 9, 2019 shows that Trump's approval is 53%. On the same date in Barack Obama's first term, Obama was at 46%.

Climate change is causing untold disasters around the world and contributing to widespread human suffering in the process.

It is a great headline but it is not supported by the facts. reports that climate-related deaths have decreased by 96% while the population has increased by 300% over the last 100 years.

I am not suggesting that climate catastrophes have decreased by 96%. We still have cold, heat, drought, floods, hurricanes, tornados as we always have had. The facts also suggest that in many respects the weather is less severe that it has been many times in the past.

Reduced deaths have largely resulted due to human advancements. We have better weather forecasting and warning systems and construction methods have improved. However, the biggest factor has undoubtedly been the development of fossil fuel machines to power heating and cooling systems to allow humans to be highly resilient and secure no matter the ebbs and flows of the climate. That is very much an inconvenient truth in this day and age.

Let's conclude with one other chart that I came across recently that explains a lot. Data scientist Kalev Leetaru used a technique called "sentiment mining" to analyze every article published by The New York Times from 1945 and 2005 and archival broadcasts from 130 countries around the world between 1979 and 2010. He did it to determine how positive or negative the overall news coverage was over these periods.

Here are the results.

Generally, over time, news coverage has gotten more and more negative. However, looked at objectively, the world has gotten better and better over that period on any number of measurements.

Credit: Kalev Leetaru

Steven Pinker, a cognitive scientist at Harvard, summarizes it pretty well within the broader context by comparing news coverage to actual facts in the real world.

During 7 decades in which our lives got longer, richer, safer, healthier, better educated, more peaceful, & more stimulating, news coverage got increasingly negative. 

What I find most ironic in all of this is that due to the internet and the ease at which facts and fiction can be more easily researched and discerned today, we find ourselves where we are.

The unanswered question is why?

I guess that is why cognitive scientists like Pinker exist.

They try to explain the unexplainable. Why do our brains often have so much difficulty ignoring facts that conflict with our emotions and feelings? In particular, why does cognitive denial and dissonance seem to be more evident with journalists than any other group today?

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Energy and the Economy

The premise behind the Green New Deal is that the world is going to end in 12 years due to catastrophic global warming  climate change unless we eliminate all fossil fuels and nuclear as energy sources.

No oil. No natural gas. No coal. No nuclear.

That does not leave much to power your car, our airplanes and your blow dryer. It also raises the question as to how you are going to charge the battery on your electric car or your iPhone.

The energy sources that Green New Deal advocates point to are wind, water, solar and geothermal.

Let's put all of this in perspective with a couple of charts I came across recently.

The first shows the share of various sources of energy consumption since 1860. I thought it was interesting that muscle power still represented one-third of energy consumption as late as 1950.

The reality in the world we live in today is that fossil fuels make up close to 90% of energy consumption. Wind and water are not large enough today to even be discernible in the chart.

The second chart shows the growth of various forms of energy consumption since 1800.

You can again see that the sources of energy that Green New Deal advocates want to literally bet our lives and livelihoods on are infinitesimal today. Considering the time necessary to develop these sources, scale them and create the infrastructure to deploy them, we are decades away from having any realistic hope of utilizing them in a manner sufficient to sustain the world's economy.

Energy makes the world economy go. We need it for anything we want to do. It needs to be available and it needs to be affordable. The economy does not work without energy. The consumer cannot spend on other things in the economy if they are spending excessive amounts on energy. If the consumer doesn't spend, the economy does not grow. If the economy does not grow, more and more people go without jobs.

If you doubt there is a relationship between affordable, available energy and economic growth consider this chart that compares world GDP growth with energy consumption growth. Could there be a better correlation?

Credit:Mike Haseler

This chart was produced by Climate Scientist Mike Haseler who writes a blog named the Scottish Sceptic. Haseler points out that this relationship exists because GDP is the sum total of what humans produce. When muscle power was the prime energy source in the world we could produce very little. Firewood and domesticated animals improved our ability to produce. However, the introduction of energy sources like coal, oil and gas allowed us to greatly leverage our productive capacity. Compare the dramatic increase in GDP beginning around 1950 with the great increase in fossil fuels beginning at the same time in the charts above.

Haseler believes that green economics schemes that are done to "save the planet" will inevitably destroy the economy in the process. The only way to avoid that result is if the cost of the new energy inputs are more affordable than fossil fuels.

Why is that?

Consider there is a product that is produced using 100 units of fossil fuel energy at a cost of $100.

A green initiative mandates that the energy source that produced that 100 units of energy be replaced with one that costs $200.

Nothing additional has been produced but it now costs $100 more. There is now $100 less to be spent on something else in the economy. Overall GDP will decrease as a result.

Haseler also points out that "energy efficiency" schemes do not work because, although we may save energy and money by insulating our houses, that additional money is then spent on other other goods and services that require energy to produce it, transport it and heat the shop we bought it at.

"...when we take it all into account, the increase in energy from that extra spending power matches the energy we thought we had saved. So … just the same amount of energy is used … just in a different place."

I am all for developing newer and better sustainable sources of energy. Count me as someone who would love to see a perpetual motion machine to power everything man needs on the planet.

I have great confidence that given free markets economies and human ingenuity we will find better sources of energy to power our lives. This has been proven time and time again over the course of human history.

However, we have never voluntarily abandoned something that is accessible and affordable for something that is speculative and expensive.

Energy drives the economy.

Ignoring that fact puts everything and everyone at risk on this planet.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Why So Contentious and Divisive?

There is no political issue in the United States that is more contentious and divisive than abortion.

There is no issue that is also so emotionally charged. Who cannot feel empathy for a woman who has to deal with an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy? To say it is life altering is an understatement. However, there is also another human life involved. A life of unknown and unseen potential.

No matter what your views are on the issue of abortion I suggest you go see the movie, "Unplanned". It is not an easy movie to watch for it does capture the emotions on both sides of the issue. You see why women make the choice but you also see the results of that choice from a perspective that most never see or consider. Are we really just talking about a clump of cells?

You can see the division in the country on the issue by looking at the polling data on whether voters consider themselves pro-life or pro-choice. There is clearly no consensus on the issue. Opinions are almost evenly divided and have been that way for years.

Credit: Gallup Survey

A big reason for this is the manner in which abortion rights were granted by the Supreme Court totally bypassing the constitutional process that the Founders designed to resolve an important issue like this.

In that nine justices "found" a "right" to abortion in the U.S. Constitution, nine justices in the future might also find that the right does not exist. The same is true for gay marriage. This is a terrifying possibility to Democrats and the liberal left. Therefore, every Supreme Court appointment has taken on untold importance. The liberal agenda literally hangs in the balance with every Supreme Court vacancy.

Due to the fear that President Trump may get to appoint another justice or two, Democrats in various states are trying to legislate the most liberal abortion laws they can think of. This is founded on the belief that if Roe v. Wade is overturned or modified at the federal level it may become an issue of states' rights. At the top of the list in this category are states like New York and Virginia where Democrats have been eager to effectively allow abortions up to and through the actual birth of the child.

It is beyond me how we have come to this place in the United States. As I pointed out in a blog post in 2017, the United States already is one of only 7 countries out of 198 nations to allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Note that the only countries that have more liberal abortion policies than the United States are North Korea, China and Vietnam. These are hardly the countries you want to keep company with on any human rights issue.

As outrage about the aggressive stance on abortion has been pushed by Democrats in these states I have seen an interesting argument made to defend the move.

"Third trimester abortions make up only 1% of all abortions so it really is not a significant issue."

If these abortions amount to only 1% of all abortions, and it is not a significant issue, why is it so important to Democrats to pursue this legislation?

We also hear a lot from Democrats that it is the conservatives who have the "extreme" views on this issue.

Looking at the laws on abortion across 198 nations, who is on the extreme side of the issue?

You don't have to look worldwide either. Merely look deeper at the polling data of the American public on the abortion issue.

There is almost no public opinion support for abortions in the third trimester (13%) and less than 30% support for it in the second trimester.

However, you rarely see this reported in the mainstream media.

Credit: Gallup Survey, June, 2018

In fact, a recent Marist poll of New York voters found that, even in liberal New York, 75% opposed abortion after 20 weeks. That includes 70% of Democrats, 73% of Independents and 89% of Republicans. Why is it that New York is passing laws to legalize abortion up to birth when public opinion is so dramatically opposed to it?

Finally, consider this final fact and you will not just scratch your head, it may cause you to shake your head in disbelief.

I recently spent two months in Florida in which there are very strict laws protecting the sea turtles that inhabit the area near many of the beaches.

It is not uncommon to see a sign like this one posted near the beach.

How is it that a person can be fined up to $100,000, and imprisoned for up to one year under federal law, and fined at least $600 and be imprisoned for 60 days under state law, for disturbing or destroying a sea turtle egg while we have laws being passed allowing abortions up to and through the birth of a human being?

So much contention and divisiveness.

Such a large disconnect on how we view sea turtle eggs and human beings.

All because we allowed such a fundamental change in how we balanced rights and life to be decided by nine elected jurists.

Our Founders established a system of government that gave ultimate power to the people. The Constitution was written to allow the people to have their say on significant issues of social policy.

There was a time when the Constitution meant something.  It was respected for what it was.  So were the limitations that were carefully crafted into the document by the Framers. Even when there was pretty compelling language in the Constitution to bend it to the "current times" it was ruled out of bounds.

If the American people want a federal government with expansive power they can have it. They can ban prayer in schools or make sharia law the law of the land. They can allow gay marriage. Or ban it in all 50 states. They can ban the use of alcohol or repeal the ban and allow it again (both of which have already been done). They can require everyone to buy health insurance or anything else. However, these types of issues should not be decided by a handful of people. Certainly not by judges who are not supposed to make law.

The same should have been true of abortion.

Looking at public opinion, I have to think that it is highly likely that if the Supreme Court had stayed out of the issue that abortion would likely be legal in almost all states during the first trimester. However, it is unlikely that it would be legal beyond the first trimester except in extremely limited circumstances.

It would not be the contentious and divisive issue it is today.

The United States would not be so far out of the worldwide norm.

We would also not see extreme positions on either side.

We would not be doing more to protect a turtle egg than an unborn human baby.

The Constitution was written in such a way to keep these types of things from occurring.

Our Founders wanted a clear consensus before we made radical changes to the rules that governed us. They didn't want the "highest law" being changed based on passing fancies and the short-term whims of the people.

They also did not want slim majorities trampling on minority rights. Or the views in several states to overwhelm differing views in smaller states. They wanted true consensus before there were changes in the "highest laws" that governed us. The Democrats simply don't want to wait and do the heavy lifting necessary to do that.

If want to know why things are so contentious and divisive, consider all of this.

I also suggest you consider one other thing if you don't appreciate the potential in each human life.

Several years ago I wrote a blog on some famous people who would probably be considered unplanned and unwanted today.  Steve Jobs, LeBron James, Oprah Winfrey and Marilyn Monroe were all on that list.

Also among them was Barack Obama whose white mother was 18 years old, unmarried and a freshman in college when she became pregnant by a black man in 1960. Ask yourself this question. Would that pregnancy continue today?

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Why Don't They Stop In Mexico?

We often hear that the sole reason that our southern border is under siege is that people from Mexico and Central America are merely seeking jobs for themselves and a better life for their families.

The latest news is that "a mother of all caravans" of what could be 20,000 people from Central America is forming to travel to the United States border.

It is over 1,400 miles from the Honduras to the U.S. border at McAllen, Texas. If walking, Google Maps estimates the journey would take 473 hours---60 days of walking at 8 hours per day.

Most of that journey is through Mexico.

Despite President Trump's tough talk on illegal immigration why is it there are actually more people trying to cross our border today than under President Obama?

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said Wednesday during a visit to El Paso that the border had hit its "breaking point" and urged Congress to come up with legislative solutions to the problem.
Border Patrol officials were on pace in March for more than 100,000 apprehensions and encounters with migrants – the highest monthly tally in over a decade, he said. Around 90 percent of those – or 90,000 – crossed the border between legal ports of entry.
The vast majority of those crossing between ports of entry turn themselves into Border Patrol agents, seeking asylum. 
“The surge numbers are just overwhelming the entire system," McAleenan said.

We know that the current unemployment rate is low in the United States (currently 3.7%) and that might be a reason for people from those countries south of our border to come here.

How about another reason?

Could it be that the people in these countries are starting to realize that President Trump is really serious about stopping illegal immigration?

Could it be that they are starting to believe that Trump's wall is really going to be built?

Could it be that they know time is running short if they want to get here illegally?

Do you know what the current employment rate is in Mexico?

What would be your guess?




This has to go down as the most surprising statistic I have come across this year.

The current unemployment rate in Mexico is 3.3%. It is actually lower than the United States!

Mexico Unemployment Rate

This then raises some other questions.

Why is anyone coming to the United States from Mexico  in order to get a job?

Why is anyone from a country south of Mexico traveling through that country to get a job in the United States?

Why make an arduous journey to our southern border for "jobs and opportunity" if the unemployment rate is actually lower in Mexico than the United States?

Beyond the fact that the journey is shorter (or non-existent if you are from Mexico), there are no language barriers to deal with and there are limited cultural differences.

Of course, perhaps it is not just about jobs. Why else would there be thousands of mothers with minor children being apprehended at the border? Could Medicaid, welfare, food stamps and access to an American education paid by American taxpayers have something to do with it?

This is what the Washington Examiner says about the upsurge in illegals at the border.

By now, the nature of the border problem is clear: Families and children, assisted by drug smuggling cartels, have figured out how to exploit loopholes in federal law to gain a foothold in the U.S. They are coming in larger numbers and poorer health, and Homeland Security says it has reached the breaking point.

What are the biggest differences between Mexico and the United States on this issue?

Why are these caravans not stopping and staying in Mexico?

First, Mexico has stricter immigration laws than the United States. The Mexican Constitution also limits the rights of immigrants.

Second, you can't expect welfare to take care of you in Mexico.

This is how Investors' Business Daily described Mexico's policy towards immigration in 2015.

Mexico's legal immigration policies are designed to provide the country with the skill sets that the country needs. There's no talk of letting in those who'll do the work that Mexicans won't do. Mexican immigration law accepts those who have the "necessary funds for their sustenance" while denying entry to those who are not healthy or would "upset the equilibrium of the national demographics."
There will be no fundamental transformation of Mexico under the Mexican constitution. While we invite illegal immigration with jobs, service in the U.S. military, driver's licenses and discounted college tuition denied U.S. citizens from another state, Mexico slams the door.
Article 32 of Mexico's constitution bans non-native-born residents from holding sensitive jobs and joining the country's military in peacetime. Article 33 gives the president of Mexico the right to deport foreigners at will without the deportation hearing that 90% of our illegals fail to show up for. Foreigners are prohibited from participating in Mexican politics "in any way."

Third, there is no major political party in Mexico that is encouraging you to break the laws of its country to come there while also hinting they will give you a short route to citizenship.

Another interesting fact about Mexican immigration.

Immigrants make up less than 1% of Mexico's population. Almost 3/4 of those immigrants are from the United States alone. Immigrants from other Latin American and South American countries are miniscule.

Foreign-born persons living in Mexico, 2017
Credit: Wikipedia

Compare the list of foreign-born immigrants residing in Mexico to the top 10 list for the United States based on country of birth.

Foreign-born persons living in USA, 2015

In particular, compare the numbers from El Salvador and Guatemala which appear on both lists.

Let's put this in further context. In New York City alone there are over 3.3 million people who were born outside the United States. That is about 40% of the entire population of the city. That also means there are almost three times as many immigrants in New York City as in the entire country of Mexico!

We keep being told by the Democrats and the mainstream media there is no emergency on the southern border.

What do these facts tell you?