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The Conversation We Are Not Having

Updated on January 24, 2019
jackclee lm profile image

Before retiring, Jack worked at IBM for over 28 years. His articles have over 120,000 views.


Our country is at a crossroad. We have some choices to make and with each choice there are long term consequences that will affect everyone of us. Yet, we are not having that conversation. We are debating about the government shut down, the wall and the budget. What are the long term effects?

- Jan. 2019


Here are three major decisions.

1. Do we build the wall to try and stop illegal immigrants coming across our southern borders?

2. Do we continue our defict spending and increase our national debt now $22 trillion?

3. The function and proper role of our federal government.

They are inter related and have economic, and social and political consequences. The long term effects of each of these decisions is what we are not discussing. Why?

I believe every American needs to have that discussion and make sure they understand them before supporting one way or the other. Rather then let their emotions rule the day, they need to understand how policies affect them personally and as a nation going forward.

These three questions are broad and encompasses many factors. For example the wall debate extends to the immigration policy, the crime associated with undocumented immigrants, the illegal drug problem and the dreamers or DACA and terrorism and to government welfare.

The budget deficit extends to tax policies, federal reserves monetary policy, the ACA and all sorts of government spending on the military and on welfare.

The proper role of government is a debate that affects everything. From our Constitution to the courts to national defense to social programs...

The Two Americas?

At times, I really feel I am living in two Americas. What do I mean by that?

I have been living here for almost 60 years. I have one life experience that is the epitomy of the “American Dream.” A first generation immigrant, studied hard, worked hard, built a career, and raised a family and now retired and enjoying my sunset years.

The other America is what I hear about 2nd hand. One that is racist, and unfair, and exploiting, and ...

How can I reconcile this dichotomy?

The Two World Views...Conservative vs. Progressive

Conservatives believe in the Constitution, of limited government, of individual freedom and of free enterprise capitalism. They believe in personal responsibilities. The government can provide a safety net for those who cannot help themselves.

Progressives belive in the State and big government programs to level the playing field of outcome. They want everyone to have equal access to healthcare, and housing and higher education... They want to tax the rich to get what they want for everyone else.

Conversation We Need To Have

What will our country be like in 10 years or 20 years? If current conditions stay the same.

Scientist and engineers do this all the time. We look for trends and project forward. That is so we can prepare for future events. They may not be 100% accurate and other factors may come into play but there is a baseline.

Once we understand where we are heading, the next question is do we want to make changes in direction to fix or correct any problems. Or we may choose to stay to course.

That is where we are with the immigration debate.

Economic Consequences of Illegal Immigration

1. A two class society

2. Wages depression at the lower end of the labor force.

3. Lower prices of fruits and vegetables...and services such as homeaid, childcare, lawncare...

4. Increased pressure on our schools, hospitals and social benefit services.

5. Identity theft on a massive scale.

6. Huge underground economy that affects banking and cash and wire-transfer.

Depending what stats you use, we have a growing number of illegal immigrants in our country of 320 million. We don’t have an accurate count because our government has made the conscious decision to “don’t ask don’t tell.“ It is estimated there are 12-30 million undocumented immigrants in our midst. That is about 10% of our population. Of course it is not evenly distributed across all 50 states. In California, the estimate is as high as 40%.

Some have try to make this about race. That we just don’t want brown people here. Not true. It is more about economics than about race. We cannot have unskilled workers here competing with our citizens for jobs and driving wages lower. We also cannot support them and their extended families to fill our schools and hospitals...without paying their fair share.

Economist Miltion Friedman pose this statement for your consideration.

He said - you can have open borders or you can have an entitlement society but you can’t have both.

This is so profound. It puts this discussion in a nutshell.

Some say we are a nation of immigrants...we always take in immigration from all over the world in the past and nothing bad happened. That is true but what Friedman said is also true. We did not have a welfare state then. When the Chinese came over in the 1800s or the Irish after the potatoe famine, our the Italians or the Jews... we did not have social security, or medicare, or medicaid or SNAP or disability payouts, and a dozen other programs at the federal and State level. Did we?

The conversation all citizens need to have is to decide what kind of a nation do we want for us and our children?

1. Do we want a free flow of immigrants to our country? Who will help do the jobs we don’t want to do, Or

2. Do we want to continue on a path to socialism, with universal healthcare, and free college tuition, and guarentee job and income of a living wage.

We need to choose one or the other. There is no middle ground.

In macro economics, it is all about the numbers. The math just won’t work. You can tax 90-100% of the income of the rich above a certain level, say 1 million dollars, and you still won’t have enough money to pay for all the stuff progressives want. That is being realistic and not a dreamer.

As long as each person inderstand what is at stake, I would be OK with whichever way it goes.

Just to be clear about the long term consequences of what we are discussing.

If we choose to do nothing about our borders, illegal immigrations will increase over time and in 10-20 years, we would have a very different country. We would have to mean test all our current entitlement benefits. It would lead to a poorer country in terms of our living standards. We would have to pay a much higher income tax or consumption tax like they have in Europe. This is our future. Make no mistake about it.

What Is True Data?

In my many discussions with colleagues, the issue of what is the real data comes up. It seems we don’t have a good handle on how many undocumented immigrants are here, how many crimes are committed and how much social services they are receiving and whether they vote in elections...

How can we discuss this problem, if we are not in agreement on the data? In a world where the government knows everything about us, it seems they just don’t want to know certain statistics. If they did, some of the debates would certainly go away.

I have a simple suggestion. In the year 2020, we are scheduled to have another census. This is mandated by our Constitution and it is taken every ten years. Suppose we include the following few questions in this census...

1. What is your citizenship status? Citizen, naturalized citizen, green card, foreign visa, undocumented.

2. Have you commited any felony? Such as murder, drug dealing, human traffic...

3. Have you received any government assistance?

4. Have you voted in the last election?

5. Do you speak English at home as your primary language, if not what other language.

Along with this newly added information, the government can hire Amazon or Google to independently verify the truthfulness of these results. We know some people lie on these anonymous questionnaires. There are many ways a tech. Company like amazon or google can cross check against other databases to verify the results.

Afterwards, we should have a pretty accurate snapshot of our country in 2020.

The result data will be self-evident. Either I am right and the immigration is a crisis, or I could be wrong and the data would show that too.

How about this? Any takers?

My guess is the Democrats would be against it. They don’t want to scare people away from taking the census...

This is not even a theory.

They are challenging the Trump administration in court to stop the census from including a question on citizenship.

Case closed.

The Size of Government

Another topic that we are not dicussing is the proper role of our federal government. Over the years, it has been growing steadily. In some years, faster than the general population. Why is that?

Do we need these services? And are these the best way or most efficient to provide them?

Could the private industry do a better job where competition play a bigger role?

Check out the following two graphs.

A Real Data Point...

I am volunteering to help our Alma Mater of CCNY, a non-profit Public University. In one recent meeting, when the subjust of budget deficit came up, the president of the college told us a consultant company hired by the college to improve efficiency, came up with a proposal. Unfortunately, the solution includes consolidating the payroll functions of the school. On paper, it would save money, however, due to union rules regarding employment, the savings would not be realized. The school could not fire any employees. They would need to move those employees to some new roll.

This is an example of how the government functions on a different level than private industry. There is no incentive to improve. If a job is guaranteed, why would someone go the extra mile? or take a chance?


Conservatives are not selfish. They just believe in solutions. In some cases, they believe the private sector can do a better job than a big bureaucracy. Let me give one example.

The public school get a lot of tax dollars. It cost $12,000 to educate one child in NYC public school system. Yet, we see children graduate high school without knowing the basics. They are failing in the work place.

Alternatively, charter schools have been tried in a few locations. They have shown great promise. Yet, the teachers union refuse to even try. Why?

Don’t they want the system to improve? Apparently not. They are focused on benefits for their teachers and union members and paying higher dues. Their priority is out of synch with the American public.

Conservatives want results. They are not just for a smaller government. It goes hand in hand with an increased private involvement. It is a matter of where the money is best spent to get the maximum results.

Conservatives are for lower taxes. But that does not mean we want to keep the money for ourselves. Many conservatives, like myself, donate heavily to private charities. We believe in helping people in need. Just not the give away mentality of our entitlement society.

The National Debt Currently 22 Trillon Dollars

This is the total amount of money we owe, accumulated year after year. Most of the notes are held overseas like China and Japan and Germany...They are our creditors. We and our children and grand chidren will be paying this off.

The question is, when did we go off the rails? Which administration caused the most dramatic shift? Look at the following chart.

The Main Stream Media

The media is what drives public opinion. It is my contention that we are a more divided nation by a dishonest media.

I have a radical suggestion. Why don’t we treat the media like any other consumer item? Just like buying a car or appliance, if we get a lemon, we go and shop somewhere else. It is the same with news. If we found out a source is dishonest, why would we go back and watch or read or listen to them?

For the past year or so, I have decided to not pay attention to news channels in general. I watch Fox Business Channel on a regular basis, mostly to get information relating to the economy and the market...For hard news, I would use the internet and do my own research. My suggestion here is try and get to the source as close as possible. If a headline story is reported by one source about so and so, I rather go to the source and see what was actually said instead of what a 3rd party reported.


I wrote this article to explain where our country is at. Some think there is no crisis and that it is manufactured by the “right“ to scare people. You will have to make that decision for yourselves.

I presented my case.

If the country decide to do nothing and just keep the status quo, I am OK with it. Just don’t come to us 20 years from now and say...”I didn’t know this would happen...”

Because it would be too late to do anything about it. The genie is out of the bottle.

A Simple Poll

Do you suport my idea of adding questions to the 2020 census?

See results

© 2019 Jack Lee


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