Garrapata State Park

As promised, with a little delay, here are some photos from last month's outing to the hills over the Pacific Ocean in Big Sur.

Here's our hiking group, "the happy trails club" on our first outing of the year. This big log was our point of no return: continue climbing to the peak, or go back through the canyon. Of course we went to the top! And what a view!

The misty Big Sur coastline in silhouette. What a place.

Sunset from the trail.

This last post is for Travis and Joy. Four years ago I helped them move this couch into their apartment by hoisting it onto the top of the moving van to enter through the second floor window. Fast-forward to today. Troy have sold me the couch. I tried to get it through my front door and only succeeded in gashing the dry wall. It would turn out that the only way to get this couch into any dwelling is the second floor patio window!


Some thoughts on immigration

My uncle sent me and 20 other people this video on YouTube. I watched it twice because I was concerned about the bias of what it was telling me. I've spent the past 90 minutes crafting a response to all who were included on the email because I think that one benefit of the Internet is not just the mass and cheap distribution of information, but the democratic discussion of that information. Family is one of the few links that we have left in the age of personalized-to-my-world-view news where we encounter other people who don't share our same views. And therein lies the space for healthy discussion. Here's the response I crafted. What do YOU think?

Dear Uncle Bill and all,

Thank you for starting a dialog on an issue that is eminently important: immigration. I just wanted to comment on a few things that were in (and not in) the video, not for the purpose of arguing, but starting a conversation. I'm interested to hear the perspectives of anyone else included in the email.

The rising graph and inexhaustible gumball supply of "third world immigrants" were very striking, but I noticed a few things. In the graph, the bottom line was "200 million" instead of zero, so when the projected year 2030 population of 392 million soared above the zero sum population of 240 million, it looked like a 500% oversupply instead of the actual 163%. To me, the premise for one gumball as 1,000,000 poor people whose standard of living is raised upon emigrating to the USA doesn't reflect the entire gamut of US immigration policy. Only a small percentage of yearly immigrants are refugees, those who may bring no marketable work skills but whose quality of life would increase from the move. Roy Beck's premise seems to be that all 1 million of US immigrants in 1990 (that was the date where hard statistics ended and projected ones began) were allowed in solely to take them out of poverty.

The main purpose of immigration is to boost the economy, which Roy Beck did not mention at all. He did emphasize the expense-side burden of building schools and other infrastructure. As an English as a second language teacher in California, I see this every day. But I also see how hard immigrants of many income-levels work and can imagine how the steady growth of our economy in the past 18 years (since this video was created) has resulted from it. By how many trillions of dollars has our GDP grown with this influx of human capital?

The 4.5 billion people who make less each day than Mexicans probably included 2 billion people from China and India, two countries that have made huge strides economically since 1990. Now they are global competitors. Just read Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat to see how the world situation has changed since 1990.

As for the ravage that the inundation of immigrants would have on our infrastructure and environment, that is surely something to be concerned about. We could look at how countries with much higher population densities (USA ranks 172 out of 238 countries, I think we might be able to squeeze a few more people inside our borders) deal with it: become more efficient with the resources we already have. This could take the form of smart-growth city planning, higher fuel economy, and high-speed train networks that condense the sprawl of communities built around widening roads & freeways. Yet these capacity-building efforts don't seem to get as much traction with voters as protectionist immigration policies do.

As for his recurring mantra that current immigration policy would "totally destroy our social fabric", I am not so sure about that. Roy Beck's call to reset immigration quotas to 1965 levels refers to the Immigration Reform Act of that year, which changed the face of the USA from receiving mostly white European immigrants, to a more global mix. As a Returned Peace Corps volunteer, I was proud to serve my country with a diverse group of people who represented the children of those immigrants.

I am concerned about the effects of overpopulation on global resources and geopolitical issues. I really benefited from reading Critical Masses by George Moffett on this subject. I certainly don't support illegal immigration. I think that if a country based on rule of law can't enforce the laws that it has, it should change the laws one way or another so it can enforce them.

Well, if you've read this far, I guess you can see that I'm interested in this issue. I look forward to hearing what you and others have to say.


Countries I have visited

Where I've been in the USA