Thomas L. Friedman | We Need a High Wall With a Big Gate on the Southern Border – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Rafal Milach/Magnum Photos

“After reading as much as I can about the latest surge in illegal immigration along our southern border, I’m still not clear how much is seasonal, how much is triggered by President Biden’s announcement that he was halting construction of Donald Trump’s border wall and reviewing Trump’s asylum policies, and how much is just the lure of jobs in a rapidly vaccinating United States.

But this latest flood of illegal immigrants and asylum-seekers — more than 170,000 apprehended in March alone, including thousands of children, mostly fleeing chaos in Central America — only reinforces my view that the right border policy is a high wall with a big gate.

I wish we could take in everyone suffering in the world and give each a shot at the American dream, but we can’t while maintaining our own social cohesion, which is already fraying badly enough. So, making immigration policy today requires a tough-minded balance between hardheartedness and compassion.

If we just emphasize the high wall, and wear cruelty as a badge of honor, as Trump did, we lose out on the huge benefits of immigration. But if all we do is focus, as many on the left do, on the evils of a wall and ignore the principles of a big gate — that would-be immigrants and asylum-seekers need to get in line, ring our doorbell and enter legally, and those who don’t should be quickly evicted — we will also lose out on the huge benefits of immigration.

Why? Because so many Americans will think that the border is open and out of control that they will elect leaders who will choke off all immigration, which is the lifeblood of our country. Have no doubt, a seemingly out-of-control border would be a godsend for the Trump G.O.P. — an emotional club even more evocative than the mantra “Defund the police” with which to beat Democratic candidates in the midterms.

Already, a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll found that 57 percent of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of the border.”   . . .

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Bravo and thank you Thomas Friedman. I strongly second this opinion piece. Joe Biden is doing a great job on many fronts. Since I think climate change is an existential threat, Joe Biden gets my support for taking this giant threat seriously. But I, like most Americans, want to end illegal immigration, and see a regulated immigration system that serves the needs and desires of the country. Biden will be handing the government back to the Republican party of Trump, and the anti-science modern versions of the know nothings and white supremacists set back by Abraham Lincoln. I expect Friedman understands that his high wall, is really a hardened wall, which isn’t always a physical wall at all. There are plenty of technologies and policy choices to harden the border, without the environmental degredation of a physical wall. I would add to his list of ideas, that we amend the 14th amendment to do away with automatic citizenship for even illegals and tourists born here. We need to expand our guest worker program, so that guest workers are not exploited by rapacious employers. We need to clean up this poitical hot potato of illegal immigration, so we can focus on the host of other problems that threaten the United States and the world.

Thomas Friedman | Can You Believe This Is Happening in America? – The New York Times

” . . . What’s going on? Well, in the case of Texas and Mars, the basic answers are simple. Texas is the poster child for what happens when you turn everything into politics — including science, Mother Nature and energy — and try to maximize short-term profits over long-term resilience in an era of extreme weather. The Mars landing is the poster child for letting science guide us and inspire audacious goals and the long-term investments to achieve them.

The Mars mind-set used to be more our norm. The Texas mind-set has replaced it in way too many cases. Going forward, if we want more Mars landings and fewer Texas collapses — what’s happening to people there is truly heartbreaking — we need to take a cold, hard look at what produced each.

The essence of Texas thinking was expressed by Gov. Greg Abbott in the first big interview he gave to explain why the state’s electricity grid failed during a record freeze. He told Fox News’s Sean Hannity: “This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America. … Our wind and our solar got shut down, and they were collectively more than 10 percent of our power grid, and that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis. … It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary.”

The combined dishonesty and boneheadedness of those few sentences was breathtaking. The truth? Texas radically deregulated its energy market in ways that encouraged every producer to generate the most energy at the least cost with the least resilience — and to ignore the long-term trend toward more extreme weather.” . . . .

Thomas Friedman | Cyberspace Plus Trump Almost Killed Our Democracy. Can Europe Save Us? – The New York Times

To clean up the fake news on the internet, we should quickly get rid of Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.
“It stipulated that internet/cyberspace companies, which at the time were mostly crude search engines and aggregator sites . . . could not be held liable for defamatory or false posts by people using their platforms, the way The New York Times or CBS could be. ” Tom Friedman writes that Europe is leading the way.

. . . .  ” Shoshana Zuboff named this business model “surveillance capitalism,” and in a Times Op-Ed a year ago she detailed how these sites morphed from “bulletin boards” to “hyper-velocity global bloodstreams into which anyone may introduce a dangerous virus without a vaccine.”

Alas, our lawmakers were either too gridlocked, too bought off or too tempted to use these platforms themselves to produce serious legislation. And the platforms said, “Don’t blame us — regulate us.” But they all also used their vast lobbying powers to resist that.

The result? “While the Chinese have designed and deployed digital technologies to advance their system of authoritarian rule, the West has remained compromised and ambivalent,” Zuboff wrote last month in this paper. “This failure has left a void where democracy should be, and the dangerous result has been a two-decade drift toward private systems of surveillance and behavioral control outside the constraints of democratic governance.”

opean Union, which is already wary of the huge power of these big U.S. companies, has already forced search engines like Google to grant E.U. citizens the right to delete unfavorable or inaccurate online material about them from searches and is more sensitive to the dangers of fringe parties, will use its clout as the world’s largest trading bloc to show us how to democratically project our values into cyberspace.

A few weeks ago, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, released an open letter that pulled no punches. She noted that she had watched on television “as the angry mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. I found those images deeply unsettling. … This is what happens when messages spread by online platforms and social media become a threat to democracy.”

She noted that in December the E.U. leadership had proposed to the European Parliament a Digital Services Act and a Digital Market Act to make sure that “what is unlawful in the analogue world is in the future also unlawful online … We also want the platforms to provide transparency regarding how their algorithms work. … We also want clear requirements for internet firms to accept responsibility for the way in which they distribute, promote and remove content” and to mitigate the systemic risk they can pose.” . . .

Thomas Friedman | Made in the U.S.A.: Socialism for the Rich. Capitalism for the Rest. – The New York Times

“. . . There has been so much focus in recent years on the downsides of rapid globalization and “neoliberal free-market groupthink” — influencing both Democrats and Republicans — that we’ve ignored another, more powerful consensus that has taken hold on both parties: That we are in a new era of permanently low interest rates, so deficits don’t matter as long as you can service them, and so the role of government in developed countries can keep expanding — which it has with steadily larger bailouts, persistent deficit spending, mounting government debts and increasingly easy money out of Central Banks to finance it all.

This new consensus has a name: “Socialism for the rich and capitalism for the rest,” argues Ruchir Sharma, chief global strategist at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, author of “The Ten Rules of Successful Nations” and one of my favorite contrarian economic thinkers.

“Socialism for the rich and capitalism for the rest” — a variation on a theme popularized in the 1960s — happens, Sharma explained in a phone interview, when government intervention does more to stimulate the financial markets than the real economy. So, America’s richest 10 percent, who own more than 80 percent of U.S. stocks, have seen their wealth more than triple in 30 years, while the bottom 50 percent, relying on their day jobs in real markets to survive, had zero gains. Meanwhile, mediocre productivity in the real economy has limited opportunity, choice and income gains for the poor and middle class alike.” . . .

Opinion | A President With No Shame and a Party With No Guts – Thomas Friedman – NYT

“If your puppy makes a mess on your carpet and you shout “Bad dog,” there is a good chance that that puppy’s ears will droop, his head will bow and he may even whimper. In other words, even a puppy acts ashamed when caught misbehaving. That is not true of Donald Trump. Day in and day out, he proves to us that he has no shame. We’ve never had a president with no shame — and it’s become a huge source of power for him and trouble for us.

And what makes Trump even more powerful and problematic is that this president with no shame is combined with a party with no spine and a major network with no integrity — save for a few real journalists at Fox News like the outstanding Chris Wallace.”

Opinion | Trump to Dictators: Have a Nice Day – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

“Watching President Trump recently accuse Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of stabbing him in the back prompted me to Google a simple question: How many Canadians were killed or wounded since April 2002 fighting alongside Americans in Afghanistan? The answer: 158 were killed and 635 wounded.”

Bravo Tom Friedman! Three Stars! He starts: “Dakar, SENEGAL — You can learn everything you need to know about the main challenges facing Africa today by talking to just two people in Senegal: the rapper and the weatherman. They’ve never met, but I could imagine them doing an amazing duet one day — words and weather predictions — on the future of Africa.”

In Senegal, a rap artist and a weatherman both worry for their nation’s future.
nytimes.com|By Thomas L. Friedman

 

David Lindsay  David Lindsay   Great comments at the NYT, such as: Bruce Rozenblit,   a trusted commenter Kansas City

“Western and central Africa has the highest brith rates in the world. Their birth rates are three and four times greater that those in the US. These nations are under severe environmental and economic stress. Disease takes millions. Political chaos, corruption, war and terror groups run rampant. Talk about a pot boiling over!

Climate change is rapidly spiraling out of control. By some unlucky chance of fate, the world’s people that are the poorest are suffering much more from it than the rich nations that are producing most of the carbon pollution.

Even if CO2 output fell to zero, temperatures will continue to rise, probably for the next 100 years, although slower. Population growth will remain the main driver of their suffering.

Relief cannot occur without slowing the birthrates. That means open and accessible reproductive health services for women. It also means elevating the status of women and empowering them in these impoverished lands. We may not be able to change their repressive cultures, but we can fund and build health centers. That would make a positive difference as their lands either burn up or wash away, and they will.”

Reply 23 Recommended

Out of Africa, Part II A farming village too parched to sustain crops is also losing its men, who leave in search of work to support their families. nytimes.com|By Thomas L. Friedman

Tom Friedman at his best: “Ndiamaguene, SENEGAL — I am visiting Ndiamaguene village in the far northwest of Senegal. If I were giving you directions I’d tell you that it’s the last stop after the last stop — it’s the village after the highway ends, after the paved road ends, after the gravel road ends and after the desert track ends. Turn left at the last baobab tree.

It’s worth the trek, though, if you’re looking for the headwaters of the immigration flood now flowing from Africa to Europe via Libya. It starts here.

A farming village too parched to sustain crops is also losing its men, who leave in search of work to support their families.
nytimes.com|By Thomas L. Friedman
x

Thank you Tom Friedman for your excellent work here. The problems revealed boggle the mind, but let me dare raise some ideas. There is an international disaster brewing caused by a population explosion, exacerbated by climate change, and the population explosion definitely makes the climate change problem worse.

The wealthy countries can either sit out the population growth crisis, or intervene. Over history, the population explosions in places like China, when combined with drought, often led to civil war and massive starvation and cannibalism. Europe had wars and plagues. We could chose these traditional solutions today, but for the first time, the suffering would be broadcast on television, and we would have to watch it or turn it off. Also, we have the knowledge and means to find a more humane solution.

An intervention by the United Nations or its proxy would have to focus on an exchange. The haves would supply food, water and housing in exchange for either family planning or sterilization. Mathias Weitz commented after your piece: “The African population doubled from 1982 to 2009, and quadrupled from 1955 to 2009. The main cause of the desertification in the Sahel is overgrazing by an ever growing population.”  I wish to remind readers that world population just went from 2 to 7 billion in less than a hundred years.

Family planning might include IUD’s for every woman, but like the mosquito nets in Kenya, the baubles might be diverted to other purposes, like necklace decorations. Enforced family planning or sterilization are not pleasant ideas, but following the massive suffering and killing in the evening news, while our own climate keeps changing for the worse, will have its own drawbacks. Seven billion humans and growing, is a force in nature causing the sixth extinction. We are literally destroying thousands of other species by our fecundity, and risking our own future.

 

Voters, You Can Have Everything! There’s no end to the promises of the presidential candidates. nytimes.com|By Thomas L. Friedman

Five Stars for Tom Friedman, who writes about last night’s Republican presidential debate: “And the new House speaker, Paul Ryan, who isn’t even running, has joined in. Ryan described Obama’s decision to kill the Keystone XL pipeline project as “sickening,” adding: “If the president wants to spend the rest of his time in office catering to special interests, that’s his choice to make. But it’s just wrong.

“That is truly Orwellian: At a time when the G.O.P. has become a wholly owned subsidiary of the oil and gas industry, Ryan accuses Obama of catering to special interests; he calls the president’s decision to block a pipeline to transport tar sands oil, one of the dirtiest fuels in the world, “sickening” and labels combating climate change a “special interest.” This guy belongs in the Republican debates.”

…….”And finally, with carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere having just reached heights not seen in millennium, if we want to “manage the unavoidable” effects of climate change and “avoid the unmanageable” ones, it will surely require a price on carbon — soon.”

Orwellian is a great term to describe many of the Republican positions outlined by the candidates running for president. Marco Rubio gave me the creeps, saying such nonsense as, we will take out ISIS, or be taken out by them. Such war mongering and scare mongering is also Orwellian, which means, fascist, or tending towards fascism. With this young tough, world war III is just around the corner. Carly Fiorina was frightening, accusing the extraordinary Hillary Clinton of being a liar. This from the woman who made up horrible scenes in film clips about false and trumped up charges against Planned Parenthood, and that she was a great leader at Hewlett Packard, where she was fired, and in four bad years brought the stock price down 50%.  What ugly Orwellian chutzpah. Climate change and over population were the only true elephants in the room, and these candidates are clowns who profess to believe climate change is a hoax, and not caused by human activity.

John Kasich sounded down right presidential, when he said, let me take you for a tour around the world. He complimented President Obama for his restraint, and explained quickly how dangerous all the quagmires in the world are, and that for such places like the Ukraine, we should help arm them, and let our allies in Europe step up.

There’s no end to the promises of the presidential candidates.
nytimes.com|By Thomas L. Friedman

Stuff Happens to the Environment, Like Climate Change We’re wearing down the planet, and the next president, even a Republican, will be faced with that reality. nytimes.com|By Thomas L. Friedman

Tom Friedman writes: ““The planet has demonstrated an impressive capacity to maintain its balance, using every trick in its bag to stay in the current state,” explains (Johan) Rockstrom. But there are more and more signs that we may have reached a saturation point. Forests show the first signs of absorbing less carbon. The oceans are rapidly acidifying as they absorb more CO2, harming fish and coral. Global average temperatures keep rising.

This is what will greet the next president — a resilient planet that could once absorb our excesses at seemingly no cost to us, suddenly tipping into a saturated planet, sending us “daily invoices” that will get bigger each year. When nature goes against you, watch out.”

We’re wearing down the planet, and the next president, even a Republican, will be faced with that reality.
nytimes.com|By Thomas L. Friedman