It Takes an Incompetent Government to Flood India

India has had a number of famines that were caused by its government, and now its citizens can thank the government for a disastrous flood so far has killed 400, left 200 more people missing, and left more than 15 million people homeless.

West Bengal, where the worst of the flooding occurred, was hit by heavy rains, but government officials compounded the problem because of a lack of coordination between officials who were responsible for monitoring water levels and those responsible for managing dams in West Bengal. As a result, the dam operators thought water levels were far lower than they were and released way too much water, resulting in the worst floods in the area in 30 years.

To add insult to injury, according to opposition parties the government is also bungling relief and rescue efforts. There have been riots in relief camps as people are waiting several days for food, water and shelter. Opposition parties claim the West Bengal government mismanaged funds. For example, one of the delays was caused by the fact that the government never used funds it was allocated to buy a sufficient number of speedboats for transportation during flooding which is common in the area.

Source:

Authorities helped cause India floods. The BBC, September 25, 2000.

Immigration Bill A Threat to Freedom

       Last week the
House of Representatives passed an immigration bill destined to restrict
illegal immigration into the United States that represents the first step
in placing all sorts of restrictions on legal immigration at a cost that
American freedom (not to mention the economy) cannot afford.

       Pushed on by
a coalition that cuts across party lines, anti-immigration fever is infecting
politicians of all stripes. Republican presidential hopeful Pat Buchanan
has been the cheerleader for the latest round of anti-immigrant sentiments.
Although Buchanan’s nomination bid failed, he succeeded in pushing the
immigration debate much closer to his position.

       Democrats and
Republicans together, however, bear the blame of this new anti-immigration
mood as decades of spineless jellyfish leadership from both parties created
an opening for Buchanan to exploit. Rather than argue the obvious, that
immigration is one of the most important reasons the United States achieved
its world-leading economic position, both Democrats and Republicans engaged
in scape-goating of immigrants whenever it served their short-term political
interests.

       Like the Luddites,
who in the early 19th century attempted to preserve their economic position
by destroying the machines that helped create an unprecedented level of
material comfort, so the two major parties willingly sacrificed economic
gain at the altar of prejudice and know-nothing reaction to changes in
the economy.

       There is hardly
an industry in the United States today that would be as vibrant and dominant
without immigration. Many of the scientists who pushed Intel to its dominance
in computer chips came to this nation from Eastern European countries
where their ideas and innovations were not wanted. Although many politicians
complain when foreign citizens come to the United States to get degrees
in the hard sciences, our nation is strengthened by this and it should
be encouraged.

       In their opposition
to immigration, politicians maintain immigrants “steal” jobs
from American citizens. Some like Buchanan fear this so much they want
to build a fence around the United States. We know from history this simply
doesn’t work and, if it did, would ultimately harm the Americans whose
jobs it is supposed to protect.

       It makes no more
sense to prevent Mexican residents from crossing the border into the United
States to seek work than it would to build an enormous fence between Indiana
and Michigan to keep job seekers from crossing the state border. Will
Indiana residents move to Michigan to “steal” jobs from Detroit
autoworkers? Maybe. Does everyone in the United States benefit from being
able to move freely across state borders in search of employment? Absolutely.

       Free borders help
promote the sort of economy that continues to innovate, increase worker
productivity and improve the material position of all workers. Free interstate
commerce and workers movement has proven itself a success within the United
States, and it can bring about similar results if free movement between
the United States and Mexico were allowed.

       Politicians cite
the increasing welfare tabs picked up by states such as California as
a reason to discourage this movement of people. This is not a problem
with immigration, however, but with the ridiculous welfare programs created
by states such as California. The solution is not for the United States
to spend federal dollars to protect California’s out-of-control welfare
system from immigrants, but for California to stop engaging in the huge
income transfers that are the real source of its problems.

       In its irrational
reaction against immigration, the U.S. House of Representatives is willing
to go to extreme lengths to restrict illegal immigration. Part of a recently
passed bill created a three-year pilot project in which employers in five
states would voluntarily use a computerized system to verify that new
employees are indeed U.S. citizens. Many in Congress would eventually
like to see this system permanent. This is nothing more than an attempt
to create a nation citizen registry.

       If the system
is successful, it won’t be long before everyone in the United States is
required to carry a national ID card, which in fact an immigration task
force recommended a couple years ago.

       If the United
States really wants to do this sort of thing, it could accomplish it much
more cheaply by simply forcibly tattooing Social Security numbers and
other information on the arms of potential workers. Another 20th century
opponent of the right of people to move freely and seek employment demonstrated
just how effective this technique could be.

       At a time when
both parties complain about big government, the House bill authorizes
spending for 5,000 new border agents, along with 800 support staff (only
a government program would require one support person for every 6 new
border agents).

       There is the
hint of a salvageable idea in the immigration bill, though. The bill authorizes
spending $12 million to reinforce the fences around the U.S.-Mexican border,
including triple-fencing 14 miles of the border near San Diego. Now if
House members really want to have a positive impact, it should direct
that the $12 million be used to fence off Washington, DC, from the rest
of the nation. Put a few guards up and refuse to let any politician come
or go until they take an oath to start taking the U.S. Constitution and
Bill of Rights seriously.

       Now that might
be some serious immigration reforms.

Thank You, India

This week India hit the 1 billion population mark (actually, statisticians do not really know the population of countries such as India accurately enough to give such precise dates, but lets not nitpick). While India’s population hit the 1 billion mark, the hits to Overpopulation.Com went through the roof as well. Quite a few news sites link back to Overpopulation.Com on a regular basis any time a news story relating to population comes along.

Companies Steel Themselves Against Competition

For the past several months
U.S. steel companies, their unions and Democrats on Capitol Hill have
been whining that steel manufacturers from Brazil, Japan, Russia and other
countries are “dumping” steel in the United States. These critics
charge that companies from these nations are unfairly selling steel at
a price that is simply too low for American firms to compete. As a letter
from 13 U.S. governors to President Bill Clinton summed up the case, “Our
businesses cannot compete with unfairly priced, dumped and subsidized
products from desperate foreign markets. Each day of lost market share
equals real job losses and serious financial consequences for a vital
American industry.”

Although the Clinton administration
initially resisted calls to take action against the “dumping”
of steel, the Commerce Department ruled in late March that Belgium, Canada,
Italy, South Africa, South Korea and Taiwan all illegally dumped stainless
steel into the U.S. market. Stainless steel from those nations could face
tariffs as high as 60 percent if the U.S. International Trade Commission
decides the “dumping” hurt domestic steel makers. Although stainless
steel makes up only a small percentage of the steel market, this decision
makes it all the more likely that the Commerce Department will rule that
Japan, Russia and Brazil illegally dumped hot-rolled carbon steel into
U.S. markets.

As with most “anti-dumping”
appeals, however, the real problem is not with the foreign producers but
with the domestic steel industry; special protectionist measures now will
only reinforce and exacerbate those problems.

As a September 1998 article
in The Economist noted, long-running protectionist legislation
on behalf of the steel industry has encouraged firms to avoid taking measures
to reduce their costs or improve their operating procedures. Whereas in
other countries consolidation of firms has followed relatively flat steel
prices, The Economist notes “in the hour or so it takes to
get from Gary, Indiana, to Chicago you will pass nearly half a dozen full-scale
integrated steel plants, each with its own supplier networks, inventory,
production schedules, marketing and sales force.” ThatÂ’s an extremely
expensive method of business for a rather undifferentiated commodity such
as steel.

In fact it is so inefficient
that the traditional steel industry faces serous domestic challenges from
small-scale competitors once derisively referred to by the big steel companies
as “mini-mills.” Unlike the traditional steel companies, which
use ion ore and huge blast furnaces, the mini-mills use scrap metal and
electric-arc furnaces. Dismissed only a few years ago as insignificant
players, mini-mill companies such as Nucor now produce almost 40 percent
of U.S. steel and Nucor recently passed U.S. Steel as the number one domestic
producer of steel.

The more traditional steel
companies have tried to run their own mini-mills with little success.
An Alabama plant, Trico, financed by a group of traditional steel producers,
lost nearly $40 million last year. The large steel companies with their
bureaucratic, old style production methods have been unable to replicate
the set of management processes and coordination necessary to make mini-mills
succeed.

The large steel companies
are using the current surge in steel imports, caused in part by the huge
boom in the U.S. economy, to seek quotas to protect them from their own
inefficient production methods. House Republicans and Democrats joined
together in late March to approve the Steel Recovery Act which would limit
the amount of steel imported into the U.S. to the average of level of
steel imports from July 1995 to July 1997.

This bill would be a disaster.
According to the Precision Metalforming Association, limiting steel imports
to this average would have left American industry 4 million tons of steel
short of what it needed. The result would be a dramatic rise in the price
of steel in the U.S., which would result in increased cost to consumers
— a special tax on consumers to benefit the steel giants. In addition
without an opportunity to sell its steel in the world’s largest market,
foreign nations won’t have access to the dollars they need to help recover
from the ongoing Asian economic crisis. Setting up protectionist barriers
in America now would be like throwing gasoline on a raging fire.

The regimen of protectionist
barriers on foreign goods such as Japanese cars already harms American
consumers (almost $1,000 per car in the case of the automobile quota);
the last thing Congress should be doing in the midst of AmericaÂ’s economic
boom is imposing even more burdens on business and consumers.