marshall.lewis's blog

Illegal Immigration into the US

Illegal immigration was a serious crisis during the 80's and 90's, when well over a million people (almost all Mexican) were illegally crossing the border every year. Since then, though, it's fallen by over 80%, and illegal immigration from Mexico has fallen by roughly 90%. Over the last decade, though, illegal immigration from Central America has risen from basically nothing to roughly half of the total.

Risk tolerance and income

Food for thought: As a person's income rises, their risk tolerance increases. If the money is saved or invested, then as the risk tolerance increases, the average return on investment also increases. As the average return on investment increases, the net present value of that income also goes up. If you take the resulting net present value and tax it at a flat rate, you get something that looks an awful lot like a progressive tax system.

Syria Update: May 2018

SYRIA UPDATE: The Assad regime is now in complete control of Damascus and the surrounding region. This means the strategic map of Syria has been greatly simplified.

The rebels are now down to four pockets of territory: Idlib province in the north, the Turkish occupation zone north of Aleppo, rural Daraa province in the south, and the area around the Tanf border crossing. Idlib and north Aleppo are both under the protection of Turkey, Tanf is under the protection of the US, and Daraa is probably under the protection of the US and/or Israel.

Science is real, even when you don't like it

Science is real, even when you don't like it. I appreciate the thought behind this, but it's absolutely the wrong approach to take. Our energy grid is not set up for distributed solar. In order to dramatically increase the amount of distributed solar, you first need to either build up a large amount of grid-scale energy storage infrastructure, or you need to repurpose nuclear plants so you can use them for frequency regulation.

Advantages of Basic Income Now

We don't have to wait until AI and robots automate our jobs away. There are a lot of advantages to doing even a limited basic income right now. It would provide some extra liquidity to people living paycheck to paycheck, helping them avoid things like overdraft fees that make it difficult to build up savings when your income is low. It would also inject money directly into the foundation of the economy, which is ordinary people living ordinary lives.

Trump's Positions on DACA

An incomplete chronological list of Trump's positions on DACA:

1) Supports DACA in spirit, but has concerns that it isn't enshrined in law.

2) Continues DACA.

3) Kills DACA, but gives Congress six months to find a legislative solution.

4) Undermines his own threat by hinting that he'll fix it himself if Congress doesn't.

5) Privately commits to a clean Dream Act.

6) Publicly promises to sign whatever Congress agrees on without making demands of his own.

7) Demands funding for the wall.

Afrin has fallen to Turkey

Afrin has fallen to Turkey and is being looted and culturally cleansed. Large portions of the Kurdish population have already left.

The question now is if Turkey will attack Manbij. If it does, it could bring the Turkish army into direct conflict with US troops. That, in turn, would lead to either war between the US and Turkey or American withdrawal in the face of Turkish aggression. I'm honestly not sure which one is worse.

This is a "Hitler annexes the Sudetenland" moment. If Turkish expansionism is not checked, it could lead to a wider ethnic war against the Kurds.

A rare agreement with Trump

This is another rare instance where I agree with Trump. There are major gaps between the US and the DPRK on a huge number of issues, but a large part of the bad relations between the two countries comes from constant failure to communicate.

Syria Update February 2018

There are reports that al-Qaeda (namely Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) is getting kicked out of a bunch of locations in Idlib, including Deiret Izza and Kafranbel. It looks like it's a new group (groups? operation room?) that's doing it, but I'm seeing a number of possible names for them. Based on the iconography on one of the press releases, I'd guess they're moderate Islamist, but Zinki (the militant group, not the Secretary of the Interior) also seems to be involved, which would suggest they have more of an edge to them.

I swear this war gets weirder every day.

Turkish tanks in Aleppo

Turkish tanks are going deep into Aleppo to head off a potential regime offensive toward Foua and Kafraya. This is the offensive I expected the government to make after defeating ISIS in the east. There are a bunch of important strategic targets along the way, it would have allowed them to threaten Idlib and Saraqib, diverting rebel forces away from the front lines in Hama, and it would have severely disrupted rebel supply chains to the south.

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