Saturday, June 28, 2008

Modern Marvels: Power Plants

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Friday, June 27, 2008

The surprising secret to being ‘Fabulous’

Author and life coach Eli Davidson says being silly is one step to success

Within 18 months, Eli Davidson lost her business, marriage and health, leaving her with $88,000 of debt. Four years later she started a thriving business and has been coaching others on strategies for success. In her book “Funky to Fabulous,” Davidson says that having fun is key to being productive and changing your life. An excerpt.

Chapter 6
An underused four-letter word:
The hidden power of _ _ _ _
I often start my coaching sessions with three simple questions: What issue is keeping you up at night? How does that affect the rest of your life? What do you really want instead?

Do the first two questions make you feel a bit queasy? Usually an uncomfortable silence fills the room. Fantastic! Taking a few minutes to identify what is gumming up your gears is a powerful act. That’s the part of your life that needs some attention. Even a little progress in that area creates huge change across your life.

Believe it or not, there’s a certain four-letter word that will help you. In fact, the area of your life that is the hardest for you to turn around is probably the one where you use this curious little word the least — and need it the most.

Hmmm ... no, it’s probably not the four-letter word you are thinking of. This word doesn’t get much air time. Folks love bragging about how little of it they have in their life. (See, it’s not that one.) They call it silly. Executives tout going without it like a badge of honor.

The P-word
This poor little misunderstood word and all it implies! If I had mentioned it in the title you probably would have skipped this chapter. You most likely think you are too mature to consider putting a bit more _ _ _ _ in your life. It’s crazy that this little four-cylinder word has gotten such a bad rap because in fact it’s a power tool for creativity and change.

So are you ready to guess? The word is: P-l-a-y.

See, I knew it. As soon as you read the word you think I am just some California crackpot. Nope. Scientists like Paul MacLean are saying that play is a basic building block of learning. That means play is how we push past what we think are our limits. The moment I read about this research I wanted to run down the street and ring everybody’s doorbell. “Hey, did you know that play can help you solve your problems? This little piece of science could make your life easier in a flash!”

This is big, big, big!
Here’s the scoop: There are only three key functions that separate mammals’ behavior from that of reptiles. Three. That’s it. One: the female mammal nurtures her infants for a very long time. Duh. This you knew. Two: mammals cry out when they are separated from the herd (some scientists think this is how speech began). We mammals are pack animals, and being lonely sucks. This too you knew.

Number three is what makes me want to knock on your front door, so don’t miss it — and I know you won’t because you’re reading this chapter. The third is play. Yes. Play.

A turtle pops out of the egg and knows everything it’s going to know. But a kitten needs to train its brain through play. And the more highly evolved the mammal, the more highly evolved is the play. Compared with the smartest dog on the planet, a human being has hundreds more ways to frolic. As the most evolved mammals (I am typing this quietly so my egotistical cat doesn’t notice), we humans have taken play to its highest form — learning.

In your first five years on the planet you mastered your motor skills and accomplished a large portion of your lifetime’s learning. The only way you were able to handle such a steep learning curve was by having fun. Playfulness is pleasurable. It was by fooling around that you discovered how things worked. You clowned with your food. You cavorted with the roll of toilet paper. Falling on your butt was almost as entertaining as tottering forward. Play is the most natural way to learn. It’s your built-in system for expanding past the apparent confines of a problem into something new. Fun is a sassy success booster!

“Play is the nicest thing nature ever did for us,” says Dr. Paul MacLean. Besides helping us solve problems, it helps us get close with one another. How? Goofing around promotes emotional warmth and harmony. In “The Triune Brain in Evolution,” MacLean suggests that play evolved from the need for mom and pop mammals to bond with and educate their young. “A family that plays together stays together” isn’t just a cheeseball quote from the fifties. It’s a documented fact. Horsing around helped your ancestors form cohesive families. It can help you now. What is a simple way you could add some Fun Factor to a close relationship today? Try it and see.

Dr John and Marian Bateman have one of the most joyous relationships I have ever witnessed. Marian is a leading time management consultant. John flies all over the world sharing his revolutionary Gift Work. From their heady job descriptions you might not think of them as high up on the belly laugh graph. Guess again. Just being near them makes you want to break out in a hearty giggle. It is so obvious that they are having a ball. And this is after 21 years of marriage. What’s the key to their glee? Play. They relate to each other like kids. They intentionally frolic in just about every aspect of their relationship.

One weekend I was their house guest and saw it for myself. Marian was having trouble cramming everything into her suitcase, so her husband suggested she make it fun. Thus was born the Spatial Utilization Game. She was tickled at the idea of playing a game to see how effectively she could use every inch of her suitcase. Packing went from chore to creative entertainment. Later I saw them have a playful competition over who washed the dishes and who put together the vitamins for the week. They were having such a good time, I begged to join in.

Do you have a few tedious chores that you could turn into a game? Go for it! And let me know what you come up with. I love sharing the fun.

Meeting a master
What luck! I met a master of play the other day, a two-year-old who had volumes to teach about the power of frolicking. We played on the beach as he explored every aspect of sand. He had no preconceived notions about what was good or bad. He had just as much fun throwing sand in his own face as he did flinging it into the ocean. The play guru put the sand up to his ear expecting a symphony. At one point he got so excited, he looked at me with an “Okay, now!” and dove into the sand and swam. He did his best dog paddle. Who cared if it was in the sand? It was a blast! He was covered — sand in his undies, in his hair, all over his face, in his mouth — oh, what fun! To him, sand in his pants wasn’t a problem, it was a new sensation.

What lessons did the enjoyment wizard’s master class in play demonstrate? He delighted in each experience with full-out joy. He took risks. He was continually doing something new. He savored every moment with spellbound curiosity. Each sensation was a delight. He saw everything afresh and with wonder.

What part of play could help you get out of your own way? If you made even one of his masterful insights your own, it could transform your day.

If you really want to amp up your problem-solving abilities, why not go observe the experts? Go down to a playground and watch kids at play. And to really get fabtized, ask a mom if you can join in the play of her two-year-old.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

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For Iraqi Christians, Money Bought Survival

MOSUL, Iraq: As priests do everywhere, Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, the leader of the Chaldean Catholics in this ancient city, gathered alms at Sunday Mass. But for years the money, a crumpled pile of multicolored Iraqi dinars, went into an envelope and then into the hand of a man who had threatened to kill him and his entire congregation.

"What else could he do?" asked Ghazi Rahho, a cousin of the archbishop. "He tried to protect the Christian people."

But American military officials now say that as security began to improve around Iraq last year, Archbishop Rahho, 65, stopped paying the protection money, one sliver of the frightening larger shadow of violence and persecution that has forced hundreds of thousands of Christians from Iraq. That decision, the officials say, may be why he was kidnapped in February.

Two weeks later, his body was found in a shallow grave outside Mosul, the biblical city of Nineveh.

Archbishop Rahho was among the highest-profile Iraqi Christians to die in the war. He was mourned by President George W. Bush and Pope Benedict XVI before his role as a conduit for protection money paid by the Chaldean Christians to insurgents became known outside Iraq.

These payments, American military officials and Iraqi Christians say, peaked from 2005 to 2007 and grew into a source of financing for the insurgency. They thus became a secret, shameful and extraordinary complication in the lives of Iraq's Christians and their leaders — one that Christians are only now talking about more openly, with violence much lower than in the first years of the war.

"People deny it, people say it's too complex, and nobody in the international community does anything about it," said Canon Andrew White, the Anglican vicar of Baghdad. Complicating the issue further, he said, some of the protection money came from funds donated by Christians abroad to help their fellow Christians in Iraq.

Yonadam Kanna, a Christian lawmaker in Iraq's Parliament, said, "All Iraqi Christians paid."

For more than 1,000 years, northern Iraq has been shared by people who for the most part believe and worship differently: Turkmen, Kurds, Yazidis, Sunni and Shiite Arabs, and Assyrian Christians — of whom the Chaldeans are the largest denomination. (The Chaldean Church, an Eastern Rite church, is part of the Roman Catholic Church, but maintains its own customs and liturgy.)

Since the time of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, Muslims in the Middle East permitted that diversity in part through a special tax on Jews and Christians. The tax was called a jizya — and that is the name with which the insurgents chose to cloak extortion, Mafia-style, from Christians.

Officials say the demands could be hundreds of dollars a month per male member of a household. In many cases, Christian families drained their life savings and went into debt to make the payments. Insurgents also raised money by kidnapping priests. The ransoms, often paid by the congregations, typically ran as high as $150,000, several priests and lay Christians said.

In a paradox, this city, long the seat of Iraqi Christianity, also became known as the last urban stronghold of Sunni insurgents. Another, more painful, paradox is that many of Iraq's remaining 700,000 Christians paid to save their lives, knowing full well that the money would be used for bombs and other weapons to kill others.

Archbishop Rahho was a man of God who preached peace in his sermons. How he was contorted into fulfilling the role of providing payments to the insurgents is a complex question. Part of the answer lies in the deteriorating local politics of northern Iraq under the American occupation.

The north, in all its ethnic and religious diversity, was at first calm. But a 2004 Marine assault on Falluja, west of Baghdad, forced leaders of the Sunni insurgent group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia to move north. The region then crumbled into terrifying mayhem. Christians, seen as allied with the American invaders, became targets of retributive attacks. "Leave or die" notes began appearing on their doorsteps. "Anytime the Western countries go to war in the Middle East, it becomes a religious war," said Rosie Malek-Yonan, the author of "The Crimson Field," a historical novel depicting the 1914-18 massacre of Assyrians during World War I under similar circumstances.

Malek-Yonan, who testified on the issue of Christians' safety in Iraq at a congressional hearing in 2006, accused the United States Army of failing to protect the Christians out of concern that special attention to this minority would play into the hands of insurgent propagandists.

Instead, the task of protecting Christian neighborhoods in Mosul and villages on the surrounding Nineveh Plain fell to the Kurdish pesh merga militia and, later, to Kurdish-dominated units of the Iraqi Army.

The Kurds, however, have their own agenda: expanding the borders of their region. The Kurds claim five disputed districts in Nineveh Province, including two that were historically Christian.

Malek-Yonan and other Assyrian Christians and experts accuse Kurdish commanders of depriving the Christians of security in an effort to tilt the demographics in favor of Kurds. The expected result, she said, was an exodus of hundreds of thousands of Christians from Iraq. At least hundreds have been killed. One priest was quartered and beheaded.

Kurdish officials deny that they failed to protect Christians. "The Kurdish Iraqi forces in Mosul do their job without differentiation between sects, religion or nationality," said Mohammad Ihsan, a minister for extra-regional affairs in the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Still, the Christian population of Iraq has fallen to roughly 700,000 today from a prewar estimate of 1.3 million.

Those who stayed behind faced an agonizing moral choice.

What was called the jizya was collected and paid by Jewish and Christian leaders to the insurgents operating on the west bank of the Tigris River. Archbishop Rahho, according to Kanna, the Christian lawmaker, made the payments on behalf of the Christians living in eastern neighborhoods of Mosul. He would have been an obvious choice: he had spent nearly his entire life in Mosul and was well known.

"He was the link," Kanna said.

The archbishop's cousin, Rahho, characterized the role as less central and emphasized the life-and-death nature of the choice to pay to save the lives of the parishioners. And the archbishop was certainly not the only person paying.

"We all paid," said one Assyrian Orthodox Christian priest here who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from insurgents. "We were afraid."

By several accounts by Christians who paid, the money changed hands quietly, according to a simple mechanism.

A man who introduced himself as Abu Huraitha, and who sometimes said he represented Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, made the menacing phone calls, the Assyrian priest said.

"He said: 'I need money, I need money. If you do not give us money, I will kill you,' " the priest said. The bagman, however, was a fellow Christian, an elderly blue-eyed man who made the rounds of churches for the insurgents, the priest said. "If you do not give to him, they kill you."

He said he paid 10 million Iraqi dinars, or about $8,000, over three years, until last winter, when the United States Army reinforced its garrison in Mosul with the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment. Military operations increased in the city. The American units built neighborhood forts and traffic control points that disrupted the insurgents' movements. The racket started to fall apart.

During the fighting last winter, the Assyrian priest said, word trickled out that the Americans had killed Abu Huraitha. Many church leaders used the death of this contact to halt payments. Among them, perhaps most prominently, was Archbishop Rahho. He gave a speech on television in January denouncing the payments and saying that they should no longer be made.

A month later, on Feb. 29, he was kidnapped by gunmen after praying at the Holy Spirit Cathedral. They shot and killed his driver and two guards and bundled him into the trunk of a car. In the darkness, he managed to reach his cellphone and call his church. He implored them not to pay a ransom that would finance violence, church officials said.

Lieutenant Colonel Eric Price, an adviser to the Iraqi Army units in eastern Mosul, said Archbishop Rahho, a diabetic, probably died from lack of medication before his release could be negotiated.

An Arab man, Ahmed Ali Ahmed, whom the Iraqi authorities identified as a member of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the homegrown group that American intelligence says is led by foreigners, was captured, tried and sentenced to death for the kidnapping, though Kanna, the Christian lawmaker, said that Ahmed was only the man who carried out the kidnapping and that the organizers remained unpunished.

In fact, the church had been approached about ransom payments. The price demanded, but never paid, was $1 million and then $2 million.



The New York Times

3rd Cav, U.S. Army

Amnesty International

Black Holes Have Simple Feeding Habits

This composite image of M81 includes X-rays from the Chandra (blue), optical data from Hubble (green), infrared from Spitzer (pink) and ultraviolet data from GALEX (purple). The inset shows a close-up of the Chandra image where a supermassive black hole about 70 million times more massive than the Sun lurks. A new study using data from Chandra and ground-based telescopes, combined with detailed theoretical models, shows that the giant black hole in M81 feeds just like ones with masses of only about ten times that of the Sun. (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Wisconsin/D.Pooley and CfA/A.Zezas; Optical: NASA/ESA/CfA/A.Zezas; UV: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CfA/J.Huchra et al.; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CfA)

The biggest black holes may feed just like the smallest ones, according to data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ground-based telescopes. This discovery supports the implication of Einstein's relativity theory that black holes of all sizes have similar properties, and will be useful for predicting the properties of a conjectured new class of black holes.

The conclusion comes from a large observing campaign of the spiral galaxy M81, which is about 12 million light years from Earth. In the center of M81 is a black hole that is about 70 million times more massive than the Sun, and generates energy and radiation as it pulls gas in the central region of the galaxy inwards at high speed.

In contrast, so-called stellar mass black holes, which have about 10 times more mass than the Sun, have a different source of food. These smaller black holes acquire new material by pulling gas from an orbiting companion star. Because the bigger and smaller black holes are found in different environments with different sources of material to feed from, a question has remained about whether they feed in the same way.

Using these new observations and a detailed theoretical model, a research team compared the properties of M81's black hole with those of stellar mass black holes. The results show that either big or little, black holes indeed appear to eat similarly to each other, and produce a similar distribution of X-rays, optical and radio light.

One of the implications of Einstein's theory of General Relativity is that black holes are simple objects and only their masses and spins determine their effect on space-time. The latest research indicates that this simplicity manifests itself in spite of complicated environmental effects.

"This confirms that the feeding patterns for black holes of different sizes can be very similar," said Sera Markoff of the Astronomical Institute, University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, who led the study. "We thought this was the case, but up until now we haven't been able to nail it."

The model that Markoff and her colleagues used to study the black holes includes a faint disk of material spinning around the black hole. This structure would mainly produce X-rays and optical light. A region of hot gas around the black hole would be seen largely in ultraviolet and X-ray light. A large contribution to both the radio and X-ray light comes from jets generated by the black hole. Multi-wavelength data is needed to disentangle these overlapping sources of light.

"When we look at the data, it turns out that our model works just as well for the giant black hole in M81 as it does for the smaller guys," said Michael Nowak, a coauthor from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Everything around this huge black hole looks just the same except it's almost 10 million times bigger."

Among actively feeding black holes the one in M81 is one of the dimmest, presumably because it is "underfed". It is, however, one of the brightest as seen from Earth because of its relative proximity, allowing high quality observations to be made.

"It seems like the underfed black holes are the simplest in practice, perhaps because we can see closer to the black hole," said Andrew Young of the University of Bristol in England. "They don't seem to care too much where they get their food from."

This work should be useful for predicting the properties of a third, unconfirmed class called intermediate mass black holes, with masses lying between those of stellar and supermassive black holes. Some possible members of this class have been identified, but the evidence is controversial, so specific predictions for the properties of these black holes should be very helpful.

In addition to Chandra, three radio arrays (the Giant Meterwave Radio Telescope, the Very Large Array and the Very Long Baseline Array), two millimeter telescopes (the Plateau de Bure Interferometer and the Submillimeter Array), and Lick Observatory in the optical were used to monitor M81. These observations were made simultaneously to ensure that brightness variations because of changes in feeding rates did not confuse the results. Chandra is the only X-ray satellite able to isolate the faint X-rays of the black hole from the emission of the rest of the galaxy.

This result confirms less detailed earlier work by Andrea Merloni from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Garching, Germany and colleagues that suggested that the basic properties of larger black holes are similar to the smaller ones. Their study, however, was not based on simultaneous, multi-wavelength observations nor the application of a detailed physical model.

These results will appear in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal.


Adapted from materials provided by Chandra X-ray Center.

Major Progress In Technology Needed For 25 Percent Renewable Energy Use To Be Affordable

Dramatic progress in renewable energy technology is needed if the United States desires to produce 25 percent of its electricity and motor vehicle fuel from renewable sources by 2025 without significantly increasing consumer costs, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

Produced by the RAND Environment, Energy and Economic Development program, the study provides a "snapshot" of the nation's potential energy expenditures if a requirement was imposed that 25 percent of electricity and motor vehicle fuels used in the United States by 2025 would come from renewable resources (a goal activists have described as "25 x '25").

The study finds that biomass resources and wind power have the greatest potential to contribute toward reaching the 25 x '25 goal.

The study replaces a report withdrawn by RAND in 2006 because of errors RAND identified in the computer model and numerical assumptions on which the findings were based. The new report finds that meeting the 25 x '25 goals would be more challenging than outlined in the earlier version of the report. RAND is a nonprofit research organization.

The Energy Future Coalition, a nonprofit environmental organization, asked RAND to assess the economic and other impacts of meeting the 25 x '25 goal. The RAND study considered technological and economic factors that would affect the costs of renewable energy as well as non-renewable fossil fuels.

The report comes as sharply higher prices for oil, concerns about energy security and growing worries about global warming have increased interest in expanding renewable energy in the United States. Substituting renewable energy for fossil fuels would reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the most prevalent greenhouse gas associated with global warming.

Currently, renewable energy provides 9.5 percent of total U.S. electricity supply, mostly hydroelectric power, and 1.6 percent of motor vehicle fuel.

"Expanding the use of renewable fuels will lower the long-term price of crude oil and reduce carbon dioxide emissions that are contributing to global warming," said lead author Michael Toman, director of the RAND Environment, Energy and Economic Development program. "However, to reap these benefits will require a major investment in improving and increasing the use of renewable energy technology."

Wind power, solar power, hydropower, and the burning of agricultural waste are all examples of renewable energy sources that can be used to produce electricity. Biomass resources like stalks from food crops, wood material and grasses also can be turned into ethanol or gasoline that can power motor vehicles.

The study finds, however, that a large, inexpensive and easily converted biomass supply is essential if it is to be used as a renewable resource and still have a limited impact on consumers' wallets. Developing such a supply would require harvesting energy crops at a scale that greatly exceeds current production.

"Without increased biomass availability, expanded renewable energy use could impose economic burdens and result in environmental setbacks due to land conversion," Toman said.

While the 25 x '25 goal would significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions, Toman said a broader package of policy options that includes, but does not rely solely upon, increased use of renewable energy could produce equal benefits with less cost.

Among the study's other key findings:

  • Renewable energy technology will have to improve at the very significant pace envisioned by some renewable energy supporters in order to enjoy low-cost impacts.
  • Significant increases in the use of wind power are possible, but only with substantial technical advances to facilitate greater use of less-productive locations.
  • More moderate renewable energy targets -- such as 15 or 20 percent -- reduce expenditure impacts more than proportionately, though carbon dioxide reductions also are less significant.
  • The federal government's policy approach to pricing of renewable motor fuels will significantly affect fuel demand and society's total energy expenditures.

"In particular, passing the cost of more-expensive renewable fuels to gas pump prices will result in improved energy efficiency, though it will cost consumers more," Toman said. "Subsidizing more-expensive fuels will save people money at the pump, but only because the expense is shifted to the federal budget."

The study does not address the transition and adjustment costs associated with initiating such a significant shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy technologies.

The report, "Impacts on U.S. Energy Expenditures and Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Increasing Renewable Energy Use," is available at


The Problem with Immigration and the Solution

America’s exceptional status as a “nation of immi­grants” is being challenged by globalization, which is making both migration and terrorism much easier. The biggest challenge for policymakers is distinguish­ing illusory immigration problems from real prob­lems. One thing is quite clear: The favored approach of recent years—a policy of benign neglect—is no longer tenable. Members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives recognize this and deserve credit for striving to craft a comprehensive law during this session of Congress.

In 2005, immigration policy received far more gen­uine attention on Capitol Hill, and Members of Con­gress from both sides of the aisle are now considering what to do about immigration policy. Their various efforts have focused on a wide variety of changes in current policy, including improving border security, strengthening employer verification of employment, establishing a new temporary guest worker program, and offering some level of amnesty to illegal immi­grants currently living in the United States. At present, these proposals are working their way through the leg­islative process.

However, to achieve results, immigration reform must be comprehensive. A lopsided, ideological approach that focuses exclusively on border security while ignoring migrant workers (or vice versa) is bound to fail. If Congress passes another law that glosses over the fundamental contradictions in the status quo, then the status quo will not change. Thinking through the incentives is the key to success.

The Real Problem

Illegal immigration into the United States is mas­sive in scale. More than 10 million undocumented aliens currently reside in the U.S., and that popula­tion is growing by 700,000 per year.[1] On one hand, the presence of so many aliens is a powerful testament to the attractiveness of America. On the other hand, it is a sign of how dangerously open our borders are.

Typical illegal aliens come to America primarily for better jobs and in the process add value to the U.S. economy. However, they also take away value by weakening the legal and national security envi­ronment. When three out of every 100 people in America are undocumented (or, rather, docu­mented with forged and faked papers), there is a profound security problem. Even though they pose no direct security threat, the presence of millions of undocumented migrants distorts the law, distracts resources, and effectively creates a cover for terror­ists and criminals.

In other words, the real problem presented by illegal immigration is security, not the supposed threat to the economy. Indeed, efforts to curtail the economic influx of migrants actually worsen the security dilemma by driving many migrant workers underground, thereby encouraging the culture of illegality. A non-citizen guest worker program is an essential component of securing the border, but only if it is the right program.

It is important to craft a guest worker program intelligently. While there are numerous issues involved in such a program, many of which are beyond the scope of this paper, the evidence indi­cates that worker migration is a net plus economi­cally. With this in mind, there are 14 principles— with an eye toward the economic incentives involved—that should be included as part of a guest worker program.

Immigration Benefits and Costs

An honest assessment acknowledges that illegal immigrants bring real benefits to the supply side of the American economy, which is why the busi­ness community is opposed to a simple crack­down. There are economic costs as well, given America’s generous social insurance institutions. The cost of securing the border would logically exist regardless of the number of immigrants.

The argument that immigrants harm the Ameri­can economy should be dismissed out of hand. The population today includes a far higher percentage (12 percent) of foreign-born Americans than in recent decades, yet the economy is strong, with higher total gross domestic product (GDP), higher GDP per person, higher productivity per worker, and more Americans working than ever before. Immigration may not have caused this economic boom, but it is folly to blame immigrants for hurt­ing the economy at a time when the economy is simply not hurting. As Stephen Moore pointed out in a recent article in The Wall Street Journal:

The increase in the immigration flow has corresponded with steady and substantial reductions in unemployment from 7.3 percent to 5.1 percent over the past two decades. And the unemployment rates have fallen by 6 percentage points for blacks and 3.5 percentage points for Latinos.[2]

Whether low-skilled or high-skilled, immigrants boost national output, enhance specialization, and provide a net economic benefit. The 2005 Economic Report of the President (ERP) devotes an entire chap­ter to immigration and reports that “A comprehen­sive accounting of the benefits and costs of immigration shows the benefits of immigration exceed the costs.” [3] The following are among the ERP’s other related findings:

Immigrant unemployment rates are lower than the national average in the U.S.;

Studies show that a 10 percent share increase of immigrant labor results in roughly a 1 percent reduction in native wages—a very minor effect;

Most immigrant families have a positive net fis­cal impact on the U.S., adding $88,000 more in tax revenues than they consume in services; and

Social Security payroll taxes paid by improperly identified (undocumented) workers have led to a $463 billion funding surplus.

The macroeconomic argument in favor of immi­gration is especially compelling for highly educated individuals with backgrounds in science, engineer­ing, and information technology. The increasing worry about outsourcing jobs to other nations is just one more reason to attract more jobs to Amer­ica by insourcing labor. If workers are allowed to work inside the U.S., they immediately add to the economy and pay taxes, which does not happen when a job is outsourced. Therefore, capping the number of H-1B visas limits America’s power as a brain “magnet” attracting highly skilled workers, thereby weakening U.S. firms’ competitiveness.

Congress increased the number of H-1B visas by 20,000 in November 2004 after the annual cap was exhausted on the first day of fiscal year (FY) 2005.[4] On August 12, 2005, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service announced that it had already received enough H-1B applications for FY 2006 (which began October 1, 2005) and would not be accepting any more applications for the general selection lottery.[5] These and other num­bers show that more workers from abroad, not fewer, are needed.

Still, critics of this type of insourcing worry that jobs are being taken away from native-born Amer­icans in favor of low-wage foreigners. Recent data suggest that these fears are overblown. While the nation’s unemployment rate generally has remained just above 5 percent over the past year, unemployment in information technology now stands at a four-year low of 3.7 percent.[6]

While the presence of low-skill migrant workers can be construed as a challenge to low-skill native workers, the economic effects are the same as the effects of free trade—a net positive and a leading cause of economic growth. A National Bureau of Economic Research study by David Card found that “Overall, evidence that immigrants have harmed the opportunities of less educated natives is scant.[7] ”The consensus of the vast majority of economists is that the broad economic gains from openness to trade and immigration far outweigh the isolated cases of economic loss. In the long run, as has been docu­mented in recent years, the gains are even higher.[8]

A simple example is instructive in terms of both trade and immigration. An imaginary small town has 10 citizens: some farmers, some ranchers, a fisherman, a tailor, a barber, a cook, and a mer­chant. A new family headed by a young farmer moves to town. His presence is resented by the other farmers, but he also consumes from the other business in town—getting haircuts, eating beef and fish, having his shirts sewn and pressed, and buying supplies at the store, not to mention paying taxes. He undoubtedly boosts the supply side of the economy, but he also boosts the demand side. If he were run out of town for “steal­ing jobs,” his demand for everyone’s work would leave with him.

The real problem with undocumented immi­grant workers is that flouting the law has become the norm, which makes the job of terrorists and drug traffickers infinitely easier. The economic costs of terrorism can be very high and very real, quite apart from the otherwise positive economic impact of immigration. In order to separate the good from the bad, there is no substitute for a nationwide system that identifies all foreign per­sons present within the U.S. It is not sufficient to identify visitors upon entry and exit; rather, all for­eign visitors must be quickly documented.

Economic Principles for an Effective Guest Worker Program

To this end, 14 economic principles should be borne in mind in crafting an effective guest worker program:

All guest workers in the U.S. should be iden­tified biometrically. Technologically, a nation­wide system of biometric identification (fingerprints, retina scans, etc.) for visitors has already been developed for the US–VISIT pro­gram. A sister “WORKER–VISIT” program is essential for enforcement efforts and would help American companies to authenticate guest workers efficiently. There is at present no effec­tive system of internal enforcement, but the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has in place a “basic pilot employment verification program"[9] that demonstrates the potential effectiveness of using such technology with guest workers to discourage undocumented work arrangements. Employers who want to hire guest workers should be required to verify electronically that the particular worker has registered with WORKER–VISIT and is eligible to work in the United States.

Existing migrant workers should have incen­tives to register with the guest worker pro­gram. A guest worker program that is less attractive to migrant workers than the status quo will fail. Therefore, the new law for guest work­ers should include both positive incentives for compliance and negative incentives (punish­ments) for non-compliance. For example, a pro­gram that caps the tenure of guest workers at six years can be expected to experience massive noncompliance at the six-year point because a hard cap on tenure is essentially an incentive to skirt the law. If the goal is to limit the number of undocumented foreign workers, then renewable short-term work permits have a greater likeli­hood of success than a single permit with an inflexible expiration date.

U.S. companies need incentives to make the program work. Immigration reform will be successful if—and probably only if—American companies support its passage and enforce­ment. A new law must therefore avoid both onerous red tape (e.g., requiring an exhaustive search of native workers before a job can be offered to migrants) and any provision that would make it easier to hire guest workers than it is to hire natives (e.g., waiving payroll taxes on guest workers that must be paid on native worker payrolls). Perhaps the most important incentive is a negative one: The new law should include funding for a system of internal enforcement to police and prosecute compa­nies that break the law.

Guest worker status should not be a path to citizenship and should not include rights to U.S. social benefits. If the incentive to work in the U.S. is artificially enhanced with a promise of potential citizenship, foreign migrants will be oversupplied. Citizenship carries with it tremen­dous benefits (e.g., social spending and entitle­ment programs) that should be provided only to American citizens. For example, unemployment insurance benefits should never go to foreign visitors. Providing benefits such as unemploy­ment insurance, welfare, Head Start, and other payments to visiting workers will significantly distort the incentives to migrate to the U.S. The legal status equivalent of guest workers is that of tourists—people who reside in America tempo­rarily and are bound by U.S. law but do not have any claim on citizenship or its benefits.

Efficient legal entry for guest workers is a necessary condition for compliance. Existing illegal migrants should be required to leave the U.S. and then allowed a system of entry through border checkpoints with strict condi­tions for identification, documentation, and compliance with U.S. law. If the guest worker program instead involves prolonged waits for reentry or a lottery for work visas, existing migrant workers will have little incentive to comply with the law. Moreover, such reforms will be perceived as attempts to shrink the sup­ply of migrant labor and will be resisted. How­ever, a program of efficient legal entry for migrants who comply with biometric identifi­cation will not deter compliance and will encourage migrants to utilize the formal chan­nels of entry rather than jumping the border.

Efficient legal entry should be contingent upon a brief waiting period to allow law enforcement agencies the time needed to screen incoming workers. A waiting period of at least a few days will give law enforcement agencies time to screen incoming visitors’ biometrics against criminal and terrorist databases.

Provisions for efficient legal entry will not be amnesty, nor will they “open the flood­gates.” Such a system will actually encourage many migrants to exit, knowing that they will be able to return under reasonable regulations. This is in stark contrast to the status quo, in which the difficulty and uncertainty of reenter­ing the U.S. effectively discourage aliens from leaving. Documented migrant workers would enter a new status: not citizen, not illegal, but rather temporary workers.

As for opening the floodgates, the reality is that they are already open. More to the point, labor markets operate effectively to balance supply and demand, and those markets are currently in balance. Creating a new category of legal migrants would not change that equilibrium, provide unfair benefits to undocumented aliens over others, or be tied to citizenship, but it would enhance security.

Government agencies should not microman­age migrant labor. Any federal attempt to license migrants by occupation—micromanag­ing the market for migrant labor—would be a dangerous precedent and would likely fail. Socialized planning of any market is inferior to the free market, and its implementation is dan­gerous on many levels. First, allowing govern­ment management of the migrant labor market would be terrible precedent for later intrusion into all U.S. labor markets. Second, it would be open to abuse, vulnerable to corruption, and inefficient even if run by angels.

For example, in the case of a worker certified as an avocado picker who has carpentry skills that his employer would like to utilize and promote, why should the worker and his employer have to petition a Labor Department bureaucrat just to revise the worker’s skill certification? Equally implausible is a program that requires migrants and businesses to know one another prior to entry and file the relevant paperwork. Labor markets do not work this way. Such schemes would quickly prove ineffective and lead right back the status quo. Real labor markets work informally, and the power of the market should be utilized to make the guest worker program function efficiently.

The guest worker program should not be used as an excuse to create another large fed­eral bureaucracy. The inherent risk of authoriz­ing a new guest worker program is that it will establish a new, unwieldy federal bureaucracy that outgrows its budget and mandate. Critics contend that the federal government is ill-equipped to handle the substantial influx of peo­ple who would enter the U.S. through a guest worker program. They further cite the long backlogs that plague other immigration pro­grams, most notably the green card program.

One way to alleviate this problem is to involve the private sector in the guest worker visa pro­cess, much as gun retailers are integrated into the criminal background checks of gun buyers. Many parts of the guest worker visa process could be facilitated by contracting out certain parts of the process, including paperwork pro­cessing, interviewing of visa candidates (if nec­essary), coordinating with the DHS and federal law enforcement agencies on background checks, facilitating placement with prospective employers, and facilitating the exit upon expira­tion of the visa. As long as the private contractor has no conflict of interest in the visa selection or placement process, such a system should be bet­ter than another federal bureaucracy.

Bonds should be used to promote compli­ance after entry. There are many smart ways that bonds could be used to manage the immi­grant pool. In one system, guest workers would pay upon entry for a bond that is redeemable upon exit. An individual who wanted to recoup the money would comply with the overall guest worker system and other U.S. laws, effectively acting as part of a self-enforcing network that discourages non-bonded, undocumented migrants. An alterna­tive arrangement would have U.S. companies paying for the bonds as a right to hire some number of workers. If Congress felt compelled to cap the number of guest workers, the bonds could be treated like property rights and bid on to establish the market value of a guest worker. In both cases, the dollar value of the bond would be repaid after the migrant exited the U.S. but would be forfeit if the migrant went into the black market economy.

Guest workers should be required to find a sponsoring employer within one month (or some other reasonable period of time). The employer would verify via WORKER–VISIT that the particular worker is eligible to be employed in the United States. If the migrant cannot locate an employer within the time frame, the law should require that he or she leave the country. A sponsorship system is an efficient alternative to government management of the supply of and demand for migrant labor. It would be self-checking because employers could be required to submit payroll records reg­ularly for automated review, which would iden­tify the guest workers at each location. If employment with a sponsor ended, the worker would be allowed a similar reasonable period of time to find a new employer. Existing undocu­mented workers should find it relatively easy to get sponsorship with current employers, so the act of leaving the country and reentering would neither discourage their compliance nor come at the expense of legal migrants.

Day laborers should be required to find long-term sponsoring employers. The pres­ence of tens of thousands of day laborers in the U.S.[10] may seem to pose a challenge to immi­gration reform, but the day labor market should not be given an exemption. A functioning WORKER–VISIT program would likely moti­vate the creation of intermediary firms that employ day laborers and connect them with customers in a more formal market that devel­ops along the lines of subcontracting firms that are already active in gardening, house-cleaning, janitorial services, accounting, and night secu­rity. Intermediary firms could offer day laborers in teams of variable sizes, allowing the hiring firms to avoid the hassles of sponsoring and documentation paperwork. Skeptics might pro­test that most subcontracted jobs are routine (even regularly scheduled), whereas day labor is by nature last-minute and unpredictable. How­ever, that is not really true in the aggregate, especially when compared with other last-minute industries like plumbing/flood control or emergency towing. Competitive firms can meet demand with very little slack as long as free-market incentives are in place.

Migrants and employers who do not comply with the new law should be punished. Migrants who decline to register and are subse­quently apprehended inside the U.S. should be punished with more than deportation. Deporta­tion is not a disincentive. The Cornyn–Kyl bill (S. 1438) contains a good proposal along these lines: a 10-year ban on guest worker participation for migrants who do not comply with the new pro­gram.[11]. Congress should also consider a lifetime prohibition on violators’ applying for and receiv­ing U.S. citizenship. The law should introduce steep penalties as well, including prison time and seizure of assets of undocumented workers and their employers. There is no justification for working outside the system, especially a system that allows free entry. The law would establish a date certain after which all migrants in the U.S. must be registered or face these penalties. The lifetime ban on the opportunity to acquire U.S. citizenship would be a strong incentive for undocumented immigrants to enter the process of documentation. Likewise, firm, consistent, enforced penalties against employers would create the proper incentives for compliance.

All migrants should respect American law and traditions. The requirement to obey all laws is not optional for new citizens and should not be optional for visitors. While we encourage and insist on the primacy of American values for those who join our workforce, we should also remember the full spectrum of values ourselves. The Statue of Liberty reminds us that we are all equal, regardless of ethnicity, origin, or even state of wretchedness, and that America will continue to be a land of opportunity.


The century of globalization will see America either descend into timid isolation or affirm its openness. Throughout history, great nations have declined because they built up walls of insularity, but America has been the exception for over a cen­tury. It would be a tragedy if America were to turn toward a false sense of security just when China is ascending with openness, Western Europe is declining into isolation, and the real solution is so obvious from our own American heritage.


[1]Congressional Budget Office, “The Role of Immigrants in the U.S. Labor Market” November 2005, Jeffrey S. Passel, “Unauthorized Migrants: Numbers and Characteristics” Task Force on Immigration and America’s Future, Pew Hispanic Center, June 14, 2005.

[2]Stephen Moore, “More Immigrants, More Jobs,” The Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2005, p. A13.

[3]Council of Economic Advisers, Economic Report of the President (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2005), pp. 93–116.

[4]These additional visas are available only to individuals who have master’s degrees or higher from a U.S. university.

[5]Press release, “USCIS Reaches H-1B Visa Cap,” U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, August 12, 2005, (December 27, 2005).

[6]Eric Chabrow, “IT Employment on Upswing,” Information Week, April 4, 2005, (December 27, 2005).

[7]David Card, “Is the New Immigration Really So Bad?” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 11547, August 2005.

[8]See IDG News Service, “Study: Offshore Outsourcing Helps U.S. Economy,” March 30, 2004, (December 27, 2005).

[9]Associated Press, “Firms Test Web Immigration Check,” (November 3, 2005). See also U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immi­gration Service, “SAVE Program: Employment Verification Pilot Programs, (December 27, 2005).

[10]Abel Valenzuela, Jr., “Working on the Margins: Immigrant Day Labor Characteristics and Prospects for Employment,” Uni­versity of California at San Diego, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies Working Paper No. 22, May 2000.

[11]The Cornyn–Kyl bill is a good start, but it also has a number of flaws that could be fixed. See James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., Jan­ice L. Kephart, and Alane Kochems, “The Cornyn–Kyl Immigration Reform Act: Flawed But Fixable,” Heritage Foundation Executive Memorandum No. 982, September 23, 2005.

Walt's 360 Summer Fruit Smoothie Recipe

Whip up this delicious and nutritious smoothie in no time!

Things You’ll Need:

  • vanilla soy milk
  • orange juice
  • banana
  • berries or fruit of your choice
  • blender
Get out your blender and pour in 1 cup of vanilla soy milk and 1 cup of orange juice

Add 1 banana plus whatever kind of fruit you would like or that is in season. You could add 1/2-1 cup strawberries, mixed berries, watermelon, peaches, pineapple, blueberries or any combination you like

Cover with lid and blend until all smooth

Pour into a glass and enjoy! Refrigerate leftovers and enjoy some more later