Edward Hopper’s Paintings Recreated As Photographs – by Zuzanna Stanska

Richard Tuschman is a fine art photographer, whose works has appeared on a number of book covers, ad campaigns and exhibitions. In his project, Hopper Meditations he recreated famous Edward Hopper paintings in an unconventional way.

Tuschman builds dioramas and fills them with dollhouse furniture that he purchases or builds. Then he puts figurines in to match the lighting. Then the models are photographed against a plain backdrop and the two images are made into a digital composite in Photoshop.

Why Hopper? Tuschman says: “I have always loved the way Hopper’s paintings, with an economy of means, are able to address some of the psychological mysteries and complexities of the human condition. I love the humble nature of the works and their sense of quietude. The characters’ emotional states can seem to waver paradoxically between reverie and alienation, or perhaps between longing and resignation.”

Here they are, with their original inspirations:

1. Morning in the City

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2. Summer in the City

Richard Tuschman, Woman and Man on Bed, 2012, from series Hopper Meditations

Edward Hopper, Summer in the City, 1950, private collection

3. Hotel by a Railroad

Richard Tuschman, Woman In The Sun I, Edward Hopper inspired photography

hotel-by-a-railroad-by-edward-hopper

4. Morning Sun

hopper1

Edward Hopper, Morning Sun, 1952, Columbus Museum

5. 11. AM

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Edward Hopper, 11 AM, 1926, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C

Red Moon, Red Earth: the radical science fiction of Kim Stanley Robinson – by Justin Reynolds (New Socialist) 5 Jan 2019

Moon RedImage: Konstantin Youn’s 1921 painting New Planet

 

By day, the waterways between the towers are thick with city traffic. By night, glittering under the lights, they are given over to the river otters, weasels, racoons and harbour seals. Whale pods pass through. At low tide, the waters withdraw, leaving the streets slick with flotsam and every block ringed with green.

Kim Stanley Robinson’s novel New York 2140 foresees a world some 120 years from now in which the great coastal cities have been taken by the sea. Great chunks of Antarctica and Greenland have broken away, causing ocean levels to rise by more than 50 feet. Shanghai, London, The Hague, Miami, Rio, Alexandria, Venice and Mumbai, among many others, have been partially or wholly lost. All of lower Manhattan is under the Atlantic, and much of what remains of the oldest part of the city has become the nebulous ‘intertidal’, a region reaching north from 34th Street to Central Park, dry only at low tide.

The great metropolis has been brutally disfigured. Thousands of lives have been lost, many more disrupted, and cultural treasures washed away forever. As scientists issue ever more urgent warnings about the extent of ice shelf erosion Robinson’s novel reads less like a work of apocalyptic fiction than a straightforward description of the world to come, perhaps the most forensic we have.

And yet, in the end, it is a story of hope. Robinson’s New York has been devastated, but it is still New York. A complex civilisation survives here, and even thrives, after the flood. The submerged city – the ‘SuperVenice’ – has acquired a sublime strangeness, a mesh of crowded, waterways, skywalks, floating villages, platforms and moorings in which vibrant new communities have worked out eclectic new modes of life.

Twenty-second century Lower Manhattan has become ‘a veritable hotbed of theory and practice, like it always used to say it was, but this time for real.’1 The challenge of adapting to life in the intertidal has inspired ‘a proliferation of cooperatives, neighbourhood associations, communes, squats, barter, alternative currencies, gift economies, solar usufruct, fishing village cultures, mondragons, unions, Davy’s locker freemasonries, anarchist blather, and submarine technoculture’.2

An opportunity for disaster capitalism looms as the predatory financial sector uptown tries to forcibly acquire the area to make way for gentrification. But it is too late: the freewheeling new communities have caught the city’s imagination, and they, rather than the ways of the old elites, set the template for New York’s future.

Weatherbeaten utopias

Robinson’s insistence, through a career spanning more than 30 years, that human ingenuity can open up compelling new forms of life in and against the harshest circumstances and environments, makes him one of the most consistently interesting radical writers working today in any genre. He shares a certain robust, weatherbeaten utopianism with his former teacher and colleague, the late Ursula Le Guin, another major science fiction writer who never lost faith in our capacity to use our collective intelligence and technological prowess to transcend limiting orthodoxies and open up new horizons.

In one of the best of the many fine tributes written after her death earlier this year, Jasper Bernes nominated Le Guin’s classic story of a realised utopia, The Dispossessed (1974), as ‘the most convincing portrait of communism in all of literature, a communism that is not only plausible but plausibly improvable’. Life on the desert moon of Anarres is tough: a day-to-day struggle with a pinched, parched planet, functional but flawed democratic and administrative structures, and the everyday arguments, jealousies, frustrations and heartbreaks that go with any human community.

And yet, here, there is universal access to food, shelter and community. There is no wage labour: beyond the few hours of communal service everyone must do to maintain the society’s basic functions, the Anarresti are free to pursue their particular passions, vocations and pastimes. Education, art, sport and other activities undertaken for their own sake flourish. There is gender and racial equality. Childcare is a shared duty and pleasure. In brief: Anarres is an achieved postcapitalist society, a robust federation of egalitarian communes in the tradition of Peter Kropotkin or Murray Bookchin. Le Guin’s humdrum, everyday anarchist confederation is believable precisely because it is imperfect.

In his own reflection on Le Guin, Robinson remembers ‘staying up all night to finish her novel The Dispossessed, and feeling afterward electrified by all the possibilities it opened up concerning how the utopian novel could work. I’ve been mining that vein ever since.’ And the work for which he is best known, the Red Mars trilogy (1992 to 1996), follows Le Guin in following the struggles of settlers on a barren world to establish fresh and more fulfilling ways of life than those they had left behind on their mother planet.

The series remains one of the most exhaustive exercises in worldbuilding in science fiction, drawing – in the course of more than two thousand pages – on geology, engineering, architecture, design, physics, biology, chemistry, philosophy, theology, sociology, economics and political theory to tell the story of the settlement of Mars, from the touchdown of the ‘First Hundred’ settlers, to the development of a dense network of cities and the commencement of the terraforming of the planet.

It is also, as the title intimates, an unashamedly socialist work. Fredric Jameson, another of Robinson’ teachers, gave Red Mars a prominent place in his influential study of Marxist utopian literature, Archaeologies of the Future (2005). But McKenzie Wark’s Molecular Red (2015) offers perhaps the most precise reading of Robinson’s influences, revealing the extent to which the author intended the trilogy to be read as a successor to one of the founding works of Soviet science fiction, Alexander Bogdanov’s Red Star (1908).

Bogdanov, who at the time of the book’s writing vied with Lenin for the intellectual leadership of the Bolsheviks, was less concerned with developing strategies for seizing the state than considering how a post-revolutionary society should organise itself. Bogdanov’s thought significantly influenced Proletkult, the movement to develop a post-revolutionary culture that briefly flourished in the early Soviet Union.

Bogdanov turned to science fiction to give himself the intellectual freedom and imaginative space to think through the challenges a workers’ state would face in consolidating its gains and sustaining itself beyond revolution. Red Star imagines a technologically advanced Martian civilisation where capitalism has long been transcended by a kind of proto cyber-communism, an automated economy in which production is planned by powerful calculating machines. The Martians live in a state of communal luxury, devoting their time to science, education, and the arts.

But it is a utopia shadowed by looming ecological crisis. Their planet, smaller and less fecund than the Earth, was depleted of most of its resources during its capitalist era, forcing the Martians to look to other worlds for survival (their socialist sensibilities preclude a Wellsian invasion of the Earth). For Bogdanov, the transition from capitalism to socialism can only ever be the first step in the endless process of building and sustaining a new society: the struggle against nature continues as it always had and always will.

That elemental struggle between labour and recalcitrant nature also runs through Red Mars. Indeed, one of the first volume’s central characters – a charismatic Russian engineer named after Robinson’s predecessor – is a figure straight out of Proletkult.

Arkady Bogdanov, one of the First Hundred, takes the lead in emboldening his fellow pioneers to organise their new world according to democratic and economic principles that move beyond those entrenched on Earth. Arkady wants forms of organising work that will allow it to transcend its alienation in wage labour. The most advanced forms of collaborative labour humanity has devised, such as a scientific community pursuing research for its own sake, should be the template for the whole of society. For Arkady, the research institute is ‘a little model of prehistoric utopia, carved out of the international money economy by clever primates who want to live well’ allowing focus ‘on the real work, which means everything that is done to stay alive, or make things, or satisfy our curiosity, or play.’3

And as the first Martians come to realise and relish the extent of their agency, new settlements are established that break with capitalist logics. Many, following Arkady’s influence, are based on the ideals that energised pioneering socialist systems back on Earth: Mondragon co-operatives, Yugoslav self-management, Israeli kibbutzim. It soon becomes possible, as Wark puts it, to travel ‘between the underground enclaves – Gramsci, Fourier, Mauss-Hyde, Bogdanov-Visniak, Cole, Bellamy, Proudhon – as if on a caravan across the folds of the critical utopian archive.’4 Others take a more mystical turn. There are Sufi and Buddhist communities, and some that worship the ‘holy greening power’5 that brings life to the planet when the terraforming process begins.

Robinson’s vibrant, riotous new world settles into a federation of city-states regulated by a convention enshrining principles not unlike those of Le Guin’s anarcho-communism: ‘[E]veryone’s work is their own, and the worth of it cannot be taken away … the various modes of production belong to those who created them, and to the common good of the future generations … the world is something we all steward together.’6

The pull of the moon

The shock of the new – an encounter with an alien world that extends our sense of possibility – also drives Robinson’s latest novel Red Moon (2018), set 30 years into a future in which China has taken the lead in a resurgent space race. After the late President Xi Jinping prioritised lunar colonisation as an objective of the ‘China Dream’ programme at the 2022 People’s Congress, China has established a thick complex of bases with access to the precious reserves of lunar ice around the moon’s southern pole. Meanwhile, the US and a handful of other nations have established a tentative foothold in the northern hemisphere.

By 2048, the Chinese and US governments still maintain control over most of the moon’s emerging infrastructure, but here and there new settlements have been planted – tucked into crater rims, under mountain ranges or in ancient lava tunnels deep below the surface – allowing for open-ended technological, economic, political and cultural experimentation.

At this early stage in the colonisation process, these settlements are little more than playthings of the rich, funded by maverick billionaires and accessible only to wealthy futurists. But like so much tech utopianism, the new communities fascinate as well as infuriate. The most intriguing is ‘the free crater’, a domed town that exploits lunar gravity to indulge in cyber-utopianism’s wildest excesses, becoming a kind of celestial Google complex run wild. The crater is aerated and heated, lit by mirrors and floodlights set around the rim. Hundreds of platforms are suspended from the top of the dome, and plinths support houses, pod dwellings, and open floors, all connected by rope ladders, trapezes and catwalks. Inhabitants navigate the space by swinging or leaping from one platform to the next, their passage eased by near zero-gravity and the security of netting below.

The community is organised as ‘a documented anarchy’7, its activities and decisions recorded to a blockchain distributed ledger. One member enthuses that ‘their daily work in the crater was to build its infrastructure and its social system, and to make it beautiful. Life as art, the world as a poem – a poem about flying’.8

And everyone is welcome – provided they have the money. But new things are happening here. One of Red Moon’s most colourful scenes imagines a zero-gravity performance of Philip Glass’s propulsive opera Satyagraha, at which the concert-goers grasp ‘handholds like subway straps at the ends of long lines extending from a central spinner’, and are ‘cast like dandelion seeds’9 as they let go at key points in the score, creating a complex of flying dancers. The lunar environment facilitates an odd, compelling new collaborative art.

As in Red Mars, a humanity’s encounter with a new world fascinates and unsettles the billions watching below. As China, the US, and their maverick elites play with fresh possibilities elsewhere, the political and economic constructs they insist upon back on Earth are destabilised, revealed as the contingent arrangements they always were. China’s vast migrant populations march on Beijing to protest the registration system that gives them no legal status when they travel from their place of birth to look for work. In the US, millions pull their money from an over-leveraged financial sector, which is finally taken into public control as the condition for yet another government bailout.

Engineered ecologies

Red Moon engages with another of Robinson’s fundamental concerns: the use of technology to re-engineer nature for human ends. Though well-known for his love of the natural world – Robinson famously writes outside whatever the weather – and recognised for his environmental activism, he has consistently advocated limited use of geoengineering as one means of mitigating the effects of irreversible climate change. In one interview, Robinson argued that ‘there is a bad tendency among some leftists to conflate science with capitalism. They are not the same. I am against capitalism, I am for science … We need to choose to put science, technology, engineering and medicine to good human and biosphere work, rather than let it be bought to serve profit for the few most wealthy.’

In other words, he favours doing what works. Red Moon makes repeated approving references to China’s pragmatic, eclectic energy policy, with its massive land restoration programmes and selective use of nuclear power. Flying over the hills west of Beijing, one character observes how ‘a town of nuclear plants lofted thick plumes of steam at the sky, marking a cold but humid day. The solar power arrays surrounding the nuclear plants were mostly mirror fields that reflected sunlight to central heating elements, so as the jet flew over them, broad curves of diamond light sparked in his vision at the same speed as their flight … The hills farther on were cloaked with thick dark green forests. Ta Shu could remember when dropping into Beijing had looked like a descent into hell, the hillsides all cut to shreds and eroded to bedrock, the streams brown, the air black … That forest was a living result of human knowledge.’10

And in New York 2140, the leader of a desperate project to save a colony of polar bears by moving them from the disintegrating Arctic to the Antarctic explodes with rage when the effort is sabotaged by fundamentalist conservationists: ‘So now there’s a group claiming to be defending the purity of Antarctica. The last pure place, they call it. The world’s national park, they call it. Well, no. It’s none of those things. It’s the land at the South Pole, a little round continent in an odd position. It’s nice but it’s no more pure or sacred than anywhere else …There were beech forests there once, there were dinosaurs and ferns, there were fucking jungles there. There will be again someday. Meanwhile, if that island can serve as a home to keep the polar bears from going extinct, then that’s what it should be.’11

For Robinson, there is no pristine wilderness. Life survives through relentless adaptation. But the cautious planetary engineering he advocates is closer in spirit to Fabian technocracy than Soviet prometheanism. Indeed, the Red Mars series offers perhaps the most exhaustive account in literature of the process of transforming another world, and the ethical questions it raises.

The fundamental ideological divide running through all three novels pitches the quietist ‘Reds’, for whom the ancient character of another world is sacrosanct, against the radical ‘Greens’, for whom the imperative to open new spaces for life commands its transformation. After intense intellectual – and often physical – conflict, the Greens prevail. But the long, hard business of terraforming a dry, dead planet proves an unfathomable process, beyond what even their most extreme ecological projections had projected.

As Mars stirs from its immemorial slumber, the planet threatens to overcome its awakeners: superstorms rage, mountain ranges collapse, seas overflow their ancient channels and wash gleaming new domed cities away. The chief architect of the terraforming process is humbled: ‘There’s all kinds of invasions going on. Population surges, sudden die-offs. All over. Things in disequilibrium. Upsetting balances we didn’t even know existed. Things we don’t understand.’12

Building new – and lasting – worlds

Like Bogdanov’s Red Star, Robinson’s Red Mars proves the harshest of laboratories. The new world offers a space where bold new ways of life have the space to develop, but they must be carved painstakingly out of the ancient planet’s cold, stubborn rock.

His work is suffused with images of civilisation’s fragility in the face of an irresistible, indifferent nature. New York 2140 depicts a great city positioned precariously at the edge of a monstrous, careless ocean. Sometimes winter ‘comes barreling down from the Arctic and slams into New York and suddenly it looks like Warsaw or Moscow or Novosibirsk, the skyscrapers a portrait in socialist realism, grim and heroic, holding blackly upright against the storm, like pillars between the ground and the scudding low clouds.’13 In summer, there are days ‘when thunderheads solid as marble rise up until even the superscrapers look small, and the black anvil bottoms of these seventy-thousand-foot marvels dump raindrops fat as dinner plates’.14

For Bogdanov and Robinson, transcending capitalist relations is a necessary but wholly insufficient condition for prising open a space in the universe where the human ’species-being’ can find its fulfilment. Nature will always be waiting on the other side of capitalism. The construction of utopia is an engineering project without a completion date.

And yet, for Robinson it is a necessary project. He wrote recently that one way ‘of being anti-anti-utopian is to be utopian. It’s crucial to keep imagining that things could get better, and furthermore to imagine how they might get better … we have to do this work no matter how we feel about it. So by force of will or the sheer default of emergency we make ourselves have utopian thoughts and ideas.’

Robinson’s work stands against science fiction’s tendency to wallow in dystopia, or indulge in the fantasy of escape to other, kinder worlds. One of his most provocative novels, Aurora (2015), challenges a cherished assumption of the sci-fi tradition: that humanity will one day find a home among the stars. Robinson’s interstellar travellers find that perhaps the stars are not our destination – they are simply too far away. Our Earth, and perhaps in not too many years, the wider solar system, is where we must make our home, the expansive but, ultimately, limited environment within which we must fashion better ways of life, or not at all. If we continue to trash our own planet, we face extinction or an attenuated life elsewhere, finding a foothold on one of the solar system’s inhospitable worlds, or some space colony floating endlessly through the void.

Robinson captures the thought in one of Red Moon’s eeriest scenes, as two old men stand on a dead world looking back on Earth’s rise above a curve of lunar hills: ‘So far from home. Vivid blue, the colour of water, the colour of breath. The cosmic yin-yang symbol enveloping that blue line was by contrast so obviously dead. They were looking from death toward life, like ghosts trying to figure out what they should have done when they were in the world.’15

It is hard to figure that out as 2019 begins, a year that is likely to join its four predecessors as one of the hottest on record. We enter it with the starkest warnings we have yet received from the international scientific community about the consequences of failing to take meaningful action against climate change.

And yet it is a year that has also begun with two extraordinary scientific achievements: an encounter with a small icy alien world some 6.5 billion kilometres from Earth, and the first landing of a robotic spacecraft on the far side of the moon.

Indeed, we find ourselves at a very Robinsonian conjuncture, as human ingenuity is demonstrated against a background of grave ecological crisis. For Robinson, the pragmatic utopian, there is always a way forward, always a way to use our knowledge for the collective good. Perhaps, unlike his waterlogged New Yorkers, or interplanetary travellers, we won’t wait until our cities are flooded, or the prospect of conquering new worlds seems easier than trying to fix this one, before we make the effort to employ our hard-won knowledge wisely.


  1. Kim Stanley Robinson, New York, Orbit, 2017, p.209 
  2. Kim Stanley Robinson, New York, Orbit, 2017, p.209 
  3. Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars, New York: Bantam Books, 1993, p.89 
  4. McKenzie Wark, Molecular Red, Verso, 2015, p.197 
  5. Kim Stanley Robinson, Green Mars, New York: Bantam Books, 1995, p.9 
  6. Kim Stanley Robinson, Green Mars, New York: Bantam Books, 1996, p.134 
  7. Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Moon, Orbit, 2018, p.250 
  8. Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Moon, Orbit, 2018, p.248 
  9. Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Moon, Orbit, 2018, p.254 
  10. Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Moon, Orbit, 2018, p.126 
  11. Kim Stanley Robinson, New York, Orbit, 2017, p.260 
  12. Kim Stanley Robinson, Blue Mars, New York: Bantam Books, 1996, p.400 
  13. Kim Stanley Robinson, New York, Orbit, 2017, p.262 
  14. Kim Stanley Robinson, New York, Orbit, 2017, p.263 
  15. Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Moon, Orbit, 2018, p.353 

US: The Impact of Unrestricted Immigration Through ‘De Facto’ Open Borders – by David Frum (The Atlantic) April 2019

We need to make hard decisions now about what will truly benefit current and future Americans.

 

I. The Wave That’s Still Building

Through much of the 20th century, the United States received comparatively few immigrants. In the 60 years from 1915 until 1975, nearly a human lifetime, the United States admitted fewer immigrants than arrived, legally and illegally, in the single decade of the 1990s.

If you grew up in the 1950s, the 1960s, or even the 1970s, heavy immigration seemed mostly a chapter from the American past, narrated to the nostalgic strains of The Godfather or Fiddler on the Roof. The Ellis Island immigrant-inspection station—through which flowed the ancestors of so many of today’s Americans—closed in 1954. It reopened as a museum in 1990.

Yet rather than fading into history, immigration has only been accelerating. From 1990 to 2015, 44 million people left the global South to find new homes in the global North. They came from Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

They came to the United States above all, but to the nations of Europe too. The United Kingdom has received nearly as many immigrants, relative to its population, as the United States has. Germany and Sweden have received more. Some 45 million foreign-born people now make their home in the United States. About 11 million to 12 million live here illegally.

As with climate change, separating annual fluctuations from long-term trends is important. Illegal immigration into the United States by Mexicans is now declining. Border crossings by Central Americans are steeply rising. Year by year, immigration numbers may shift up or down. But decade by decade, immigration is remaking nations on a world-altering scale.

By 2027, the foreign-born proportion of the U.S. population is projected to equal its previous all-time peak, in 1890: 14.8 percent. Under present policy, that percentage will keep rising to new records thereafter.

This massive new wave of immigration has brought many benefits to the United States. Of the 122 Americans who won a Nobel Prize from 2000 to 2018, 34 were immigrants. Four of the five Americans who won Nobels in 2016 were born outside the country. Of the 41 Fortune 500 companies created since 1985, eight had an immigrant founder. In many ways, the United States is a stronger, richer, and more dynamic country because of international migration. I am an immigrant myself. Born in Canada, I attended college in the United States, became a permanent resident, raised a family here, and was naturalized in 2007.

But large-scale immigration also comes with considerable social and political costs, and those must be accounted for. In November 2018, Hillary Clinton delivered a warning to Europeans that mass immigration was weakening democracy. “I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration, because that is what lit the flame,” Clinton said, referring to the upsurge of far-right populism destabilizing countries such as France and Hungary. “I admire the very generous and compassionate approaches that were taken, particularly by leaders like Angela Merkel, but I think it is fair to say Europe has done its part, and must send a very clear message—‘We are not going to be able to continue to provide refuge and support’—because if we don’t deal with the migration issue, it will continue to roil the body politic.”

Clinton’s assessment of the European political situation is accurate. According to recent poll numbers, 63 percent of French people believe too many immigrants are living in their country. One-third of the British people who voted in 2016 to leave the European Union cited immigration as their primary reason. In Germany, 38 percent rate immigration as the most important issue facing their country. Thanks in great part to their anti-immigration messages, populist parties now govern Italy, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.

And of course, anti-immigration sentiment was crucial to the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States.

Immigration on a very large scale is politically stressful. Yet acknowledging that fact can be hazardous to mainstream politicians. The New York Times story on Clinton’s remarks quoted four scathing reactions from liberal interest groups and academics—and then for icy good measure balanced them with a single approving quote from an Italian politician who had hosted Trump’s former campaign chair, Steve Bannon, in Rome.

It wasn’t always this way, even on the left. As recently as 2015, the senator and presidential aspirant Bernie Sanders defended at least some immigration restrictions in language drawn from the immigration-skeptical tradition of organized labor. “What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy,” Sanders said in an interview with Vox. “Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don’t believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country.” Even the famously cosmopolitan Barack Obama, in his 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope, lamented, “When I see Mexican flags waved at pro-immigration demonstrations, I sometimes feel a flush of patriotic resentment. When I’m forced to use a translator to communicate with the guy fixing my car, I feel a certain frustration.”

But the political rise of Donald Trump has radicalized many of his opponents on immigration. Some mainstream liberal commentators, such as Farhad Manjoo of The New York Times, have called for completely open borders. While not many Democrats have gone that far publicly, some—including most prominently the 2020 presidential hopefuls—have expressed ever greater unease about removing people who cross borders unauthorized. Julián Castro, the secretary of housing and urban development under Obama, has endorsed a pathway to citizenship for all immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. Senator Kamala Harris pledged not to vote to reopen the federal government in January unless the financing bill confirmed protection for Dreamers, young people who grew up in the United States without legal status. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand have called for abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Gillibrand denounced the agency as a “deportation force”—as if it were possible to enforce immigration laws without deportation. While it would be destabilizing and impractical to remove all the people who have been living peaceably in this country for many years, it does not follow that any nonfelon who sets foot in the U.S. has a right to stay here.

In the fall of 2018, an unprecedentedly large caravan of would-be border crossers—peaking at 7,000 people—headed toward the United States from Central America. Trump demagogically seized on the caravan as a voting issue before the November midterm elections—and goaded many of his critics to equally inflammatory responses. “This whole caravan in the last week of the election is a giant lie. This is Trump’s Reichstag fire. It is a lie,” said a guest on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes. But however manipulatively oversold, the caravan existed; it was not a lie. Thousands of people were indeed approaching the U.S. border, many hoping to force their way across by weight of numbers.

Demagogues don’t rise by talking about irrelevant issues. Demagogues rise by talking about issues that matter to people, and that more conventional leaders appear unwilling or unable to address: unemployment in the 1930s, crime in the 1960s, mass immigration now. Voters get to decide what the country’s problems are. Political elites have to devise solutions to those problems. If difficult issues go unaddressed by responsible leaders, they will be exploited by irresponsible ones.

Across the developed world, very high levels of immigration have coincided with widening class divisions, the discrediting of political and economic elites, and the rise of extremist politics. And immigration pressures will only intensify in the decades ahead, for reasons obscured by media coverage of immigrants as poor and desperate. That coverage isn’t entirely wrong. Many immigrants are poor and desperate, especially refugees fleeing war or famine. But immigration is accelerating so rapidly in the 21st century less because of pervading misery than because life on our planet is improving for so many people. It costs money to move—and more and more families can afford the investment to send a relative northward. “Every boat person I’ve met has been ambitious, urban, educated,” says Doug Saunders, a Canadian journalist who has reported extensively on global population movements. “They are very poor by European standards, but often comfortable by African and Middle Eastern ones.”

Since 1990, the number of human beings living in extreme poverty—defined as less than $2 a day—has declined by nearly two-thirds. Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted into a new global striver class, living on $10 to $20 a day or more. That comparative affluence allows the strivers to buy things once impossibly out of reach: air conditioners, smartphones, motorized vehicles. But the thing those strivers want more than anything else—the great golden ticket into a whole new life—is exit from the less successful countries of the global South into the more successful countries of the global North.

One-quarter of young male Egyptians would work abroad if they could, according to the Egyptian government’s own statistical agency. More than half the populations of South Africa and Kenya wish to leave home, according to the Pew Research Center, as do three-quarters of Nigerians and Ghanaians. In all these countries, it is the best-educated who most yearn to leave.

We are talking here about astonishingly large numbers of potential immigrants—large and fast-growing. Egypt will add 50 million people to its population over the next three decades. Bangladesh will reach 200 million people; Pakistan, 300 million. The populations of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, countries that have already sent so many people northward, will rise by 50 percent by 2050, to more than 47 million. Twenty-six African countries will double their population by the time today’s college seniors celebrate their 50th birthday. Altogether, the population of Africa in 2050 will almost equal the entire population of the world in 1950: 2.5 billion people.

Hundreds of millions of people will want to become Americans. Only a relatively small number realistically can. Who should choose which ones do? According to what rules? How will those rules be enforced? The Trump-era debate about a wall misses the point. The planet of tomorrow will be better educated, more mobile, more networked. Huddling behind a concrete barrier will not hold the world at bay when more and more of that world can afford a plane ticket. If Americans want to shape their own national destiny, rather than have it shaped by others, they have decisions to make now.

But at present, the most important immigration decisions are made through an ungainly and ill-considered patchwork of policies. Almost 70 percent of those who settle lawfully in the United States gained entry because they were close relatives of previously admitted immigrants. Many of those previously admitted immigrants were in their turn relatives of someone who had arrived even earlier.

Every year some 50,000 people are legally admitted by lottery. Others buy their way in, by investing a considerable sum. In almost every legal immigration category, the United States executes its policy less by conscious decision than by excruciating delay. The backlog of people whose immigration petitions have been approved for entry but who have not yet been admitted is now nearing 4 million. (Only spouses and children are exempted from annual numerical caps.)

This system just accreted, reaction upon reaction, yesterday’s crisis leading to today’s improvisation, in turn laying the groundwork for tomorrow’s crisis.

Under present immigration policies, the U.S. population will exceed 400 million by 2050. Nobody is seriously planning for such population growth—building the schools and hospitals these people will need, planning for the traffic they will generate. Nobody is thinking very hard about the environmental consequences, either. The average American causes the emission of almost 17 tons of carbon dioxide each year, quadruple the annual emissions of the average Mexican and 45 times the emissions of the average Bangladeshi.

The question before the United States and other advanced countries is not: Immigration, yes or no? In a mobile world, there will inevitably be quite a lot of movement of people. Immigration is not all or nothing. The questions to ask are: How much? What kind?

Too little immigration, and you freeze your country out of the modern world. Too much, or the wrong kind, and you overstress your social-insurance system—and possibly upend your democracy. Choose well, and you build a stronger, richer country for both newcomers and the long-settled. Choose badly, and you aggravate inequality and inflame intergroup hostility. How we choose will shape the future that will in its turn shape us.

II. A Recipe for Social Discord

If you were born in West Africa or Central America to a family not of the ruling elite, you would probably yearn to emigrate. And if your family and friends could stake you the travel costs, you would probably seize the chance. A young person enterprising enough to hazard such a trip would surely contribute in many ways to his or her eventual new home. Almost all of us in North America are descended from somebody who made such a decision, took that risk, and made those contributions.

But what happens when it’s not just one person or 1,000 people or even 1 million people who want to move? What happens when it’s tens or hundreds of millions knocking on the doors of the developed world?

And what happens when those vast numbers of newcomers arrive, not in mass-production economies whose factories and mills need every pair of hands they can hire, but in modern knowledge economies that struggle to achieve full employment and steady wage growth?

Some people look at migration pressures and see a solution. The 325 million Americans of 2017 gave birth to fewer babies than did the 160 million Americans of 1953. Without immigration, the U.S. population would age and then shrink. So would most European populations. Japan is leading the way to the dwindling future: In 2017, 1.34 million Japanese people died; only 946,000 were born.

Precisely because advanced societies have so few children of their own, immigration brings change at startling speed. Relative to the existing native-born population, the migration of 1880–1914 was larger than that of today. (The 75 million Americans of 1900 would receive 8 million immigrants, or almost 11 percent of their number, over the next decade. The 249 million Americans of 1990 would receive 15 million to 16 million immigrants, or 6 percent of their number, over the next decade—the peak of the current wave.) Yet from 1890 onward, the foreign-born share of the U.S. population actually declined, because so many children were born in the United States. Today, a relatively smaller amount of immigration is exerting larger population effects, because Americans are not replacing themselves.

When natives have lots of children of their own, immigrants look like reinforcements. When natives have few children, immigrants look like replacements. No wonder that, according to a 2016 survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic, nearly half of white working-class Americans agree with this statement: “Things have changed so much that I often feel like a stranger in my own country.”

Illustration by Oliver Munday; rendering by Patrick White
A classic 2005 study by the social scientist Karen Stenner predicted the consequences of such feelings. In any given population, according to Stenner, roughly one-third of people will have authoritarian tendencies. This habit of mind is just part of the way human beings are, in much the same way that a certain percentage will be born with depressive tendencies.

Happily, the authoritarian tendency does not necessarily lead to authoritarian politics. In secure and stable circumstances, it goes dormant. But perceived threats to social norms trigger the tendency. Rapid ethnic change figures prominently on the list of such apparent threats. “Authoritarian [personalities] are not especially inclined to perceive normative … threat,” Stenner writes. “They are just especially intolerant once they do.”

The extremism and authoritarianism that have surged within the developed world since 2005 draw strength from many social and economic causes. Immigration is only one of them—but it is typically the spark that ignites the larger conflagration. Immigration has done particular damage to political parties of the moderate left. From the 1970s until the 2010s, social-democratic parties dominated the politics of the European Union member states. As of last spring, among the 28 governments of the EU, only Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and Sweden were led by social democrats. The German Social Democrats have suffered a staggering series of defeats at the national and state levels. In the October 2018 state elections in Bavaria, they lost half their seats, finishing in fifth place behind the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party.

It’s sometimes suggested that the passage of time will salve these anxieties—that elderly Trump voters in America, or elderly Marine Le Pen voters in France, will eventually be replaced by younger voters more amenable to immigration. But young white Americans express nearly as much discomfort with demographic change as their elders do. Almost half of white Millennials say that discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities. Whites under age 30 voted for Donald Trump in 2016 by a four-point majority, according to CNN exit polls. In European countries too, notably France, the parties of the far right are appealing more and more to the young.

Anti-immigrant feeling usually runs strongest in places that receive relatively few immigrants—stronger in eastern Germany than in Hamburg or Frankfurt; stronger in Hull and Stoke-on-Trent than in London; stronger in Laon than in Paris; stronger in rural America than in the multiethnic cities of the knowledge economy. Yet nonmetropolitan places are experiencing immigration in their own way. Mobility between countries appears to have the perverse effect of discouraging mobility within countries—in effect, moating off the most dynamic regions of national economies from their own depressed hinterlands.

Americans in the 2010s are only half as likely to move to a new state as their parents were in the 1980s. What has changed? Economic researchers have refuted some possible explanations—the aging of the population, for example. The most plausible alternative is directly immigration-related: Housing costs in the hottest job markets have grown much faster than the wages offered to displaced workers. Simply put, a laid-off Ohio manufacturing worker contemplating relocating to Colorado to seek a job in the hospitality industry is likely to discover that the move offers no higher pay, but much higher rent. An immigrant from Mexico or the Philippines faces a very different calculus. Her wage gains would be significant. And while her housing options may seem lousy to someone accustomed to an American standard of living, to her they likely represent a bearable sacrifice for all the other opportunities offered by life in the United States—and possibly a material improvement over living conditions back home.

III. The Wrong Debate

“We wanted workers, but we got people instead.” So quipped the Swiss writer Max Frisch about the guest workers who came to northern Europe seeking economic opportunity in the aftermath of World War II. Yet when immigration is the subject, policy makers tend to concede the microphone to the economists—precisely the profession that looks at people and sees workers instead.

From an economic point of view, immigration is good because it encourages specialization and thus efficiency. In a low-immigration world, an American accountant might have to pay $25 or $30 an hour for yard services by American-born landscapers. At that price, she might choose to do the yard work herself. If higher immigration lowers the price of landscaping work to $10 to $12 an hour, she may hire a landscaper and devote her newfound free time to extra accounting work. Instead of leaving the office at 5 p.m. to cook dinner for her family, she can stay until 6 o’clock and order from Postmates as she drives home. Or she can buy more services than she otherwise would. A lower bid from an immigrant-employing contractor might allow her to renovate her kitchen this year rather than postponing it to next year.

But all of this only happens because lower-earning immigrants displace the Americans who used to do the work at higher costs. You may ask, “So what happens to those displaced Americans?” The economist’s answer is that, pressed by immigrant competition, displaced American workers are driven to “upskill.” Perhaps a former landscaper learns some Spanish, and thus can act as the foreman of a crew of immigrants. Perhaps he shifts to sales or design work. Either way, the economic models say, everybody is better off.

You may further ask, “Does this really happen? Don’t at least some displaced American workers end up unemployed or underemployed, unable to find work at anything close to their old wage level? Aren’t both American-born men and American-born women of prime working age less likely to work today than in the 1990s?”

Yes, all of that is true. But when workers quit the workforce, they disappear from the statistical samples on which the economic models are built. Labor-force statistics count only those in the labor force. If an American-born landscaper successfully upskills to foreman, his higher pay is recorded and measured. If an American-born landscaper retires early on a disability benefit, his lower income is not recorded and not measured. From a labor economist’s perspective, he has ceased to exist. Immigration’s economic costs and benefits will be calculated without reference to him.

The battles over the accuracy of the models of immigration’s economic effects are as protracted and vicious as any in the social sciences. We can’t settle them here, and don’t need to. Instead, let’s focus on what economists generally do agree on.

First, adding millions of additional immigrant workers every decade makes the American economy in the aggregate much bigger than it would otherwise be.

Second, immigration contributes very little to making native-born Americans richer than they would otherwise be. In 2007, in the course of arguing the economic case for more immigration, George W. Bush’s White House tried to quantify the net economic benefits of immigration to native-born Americans. The advocates’ own calculation yielded a figure of $37 billion a year. That’s not nothing, but in the context of a then–$13 trillion economy, it’s not much.

Third, the gains from immigration are divided very unequally. Immigrants reap most of them. Wealthy Americans claim much of the rest, in the form of the lower prices they pay for immigrant-produced services. Low-income Americans receive comparatively little benefit, and may well be made worse off, depending on who’s counting and what method they use.

And finally, while the impact of immigration on what the typical American earns is quite small, its impact on government finances is big. Estimates from the National Academy of Sciences suggest that on average, each immigrant costs his or her state and local governments $1,600 more a year in expenditures than he or she contributes in revenues. In especially generous states, the cost is much higher still: $2,050 in California; $3,650 in Wisconsin; $5,100 in Minnesota.

Immigrants are expensive to taxpayers because the foreign-born population of the United States is more likely to be poor and stay poor. Even when immigrants themselves do not qualify for a government benefit—typically because they are in the country illegally—their low income ensures that their children do. About half of immigrant-headed households receive some form of social assistance in any given year.

Assertions that federal tax revenue from immigrants can stabilize the finances of programs such as Medicare and Social Security overlook the truth that immigrants will get old and sick—and that in most cases, the taxes they pay over their working life will not cover the costs of their eventual claims on these programs. No matter how many millions of immigrants we absorb, they can’t help shore up these programs if they’ll need more in benefits than they can ever possibly pay in taxes. If a goal of immigration policy is to strengthen Social Security and Medicare, it would be wise to accept fewer immigrants overall, but more high-earning ones, who will pay more in taxes over their working years than they will collect in benefits in retirement. Under the present policy favoring large numbers of low-wage earners, the United States is accumulating huge future social-insurance liabilities in exchange for relatively meager tax contributions now.

Yet the true bottom line is this: Neither the fiscal costs nor the economic benefits of immigration are large enough to force a decision one way or the other. Accept the most negative estimate of immigration’s dollar costs, and the United States could still afford a lot of immigration. Believe the most positive reckoning of the dollar benefits that mass immigration provides, and they are not so large that the United States would be crazy to refuse them.

For good or ill, immigration’s most important effects are social and cultural, not economic. What are these effects, then? Some are good, some are bad, and some depend on the eye of the beholder.

Immigrants are making America safer.
Generally, immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than native-born Americans do. And although the children of immigrants commit crimes at much higher rates than their parents do, some evidence suggests that cities with higher percentages of immigrants have experienced steeper reductions in crime. President Trump speaks often about the victims of crime committed by undocumented immigrants, but the years of high immigration since 1990 have seen the steepest declines in crime since modern record-keeping began.

Immigrants are making America less self-destructive.
Asians, who comprise the nation’s fastest-growing immigrant group, are half as likely to abuse drugs or alcohol as other population groups are. Only one-fifth of Hispanic households own a firearm, as opposed to one-half of white households.

The severest self-harm, suicide, is very much a problem of the native-born. Suicide rates have surged since 1999. But white people commit suicide at nearly three times the rate of ethnic minorities. The states with the highest percentages of immigrants have suffered least from the suicide surge; the states with the lowest percentages have suffered most.

Immigrants are lowering America’s average skill level.
In 2007, ETS—the company that administers the SAT—warned of a gathering “perfect storm”: “Over the next 25 years or so,” it said, “as better-educated individuals leave the workforce they will be replaced by those who, on average, have lower levels of education and skill.” This warning shows every sign of being fulfilled. About 10 percent of the students in U.S. public schools are now non-native English speakers. Unsurprisingly, these students score consistently lower on national assessment tests than native speakers do. In 2017, nearly half of Hispanic fourth graders had not achieved even partial mastery of grade-level material. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, these children are at significant risk of dropping out of high school.

But here’s something more surprising: Evidence from North Carolina suggests that even a fairly small increase in the non-native-speaking presence in a classroom seriously depresses learning outcomes for all students. The nation has undertaken important educational reforms over the past generation. In many ways, that commitment has yielded heartening results. Yet since about 2007, progress has stalled, and in some cases even reversed. Cuts to state budgets during the Great Recession bear some of the responsibility. But so does immigration policy. The Hechinger Report, from Columbia University’s Teachers College, observes that the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress “was the first time that white students dropped below 50 percent of fourth-grade test takers. Hispanics now account for 26 percent of the fourth-grade population, up from 19 percent 10 years ago. Disproportionately poor, and sometimes not speaking English at home, Hispanics tend to score considerably lower than white students.”

Immigrants are enabling employers to behave badly.
Most jobs are becoming impressively safer, year by year. You may think of mining as a uniquely hazardous industry. Yet in 2006, after a tragic sequence of accidents, Congress enacted the most sweeping mine-safety legislation in a generation. In the decade since, mining fatalities have declined by two-thirds.

Mining, however, is an industry dominated by native-born workers. Industries that rely on the foreign-born are improving much more slowly. Forestry, fishing, and farming are three of the most dangerous industries in the United States. They are 46 percent reliant on immigrant laborers, half of them undocumented. (Documented and undocumented immigrants together make up only 17 percent of the U.S. workforce as a whole.) Building and grounds maintenance is surprisingly dangerous work: 326 people died in 2017. Some 35 percent of grounds workers are immigrants. About 25 percent of construction workers are immigrants, but immigrants supply almost half the workers in the most dangerous areas, notably roofing and drywalling. When so many workers in a job category toil outside the law, the law won’t offer much protection.

America was built on the revolutionary idea, never fully realized, that those who labor might also govern—that every worker should be a voter. The struggle toward this ideal has been slow, arduous, and sometimes violent. The immigration surge has had the effect of setting this ideal back. Half a century after the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the United States has again habituated itself to employing workers who cannot vote and therefore cannot protect their interests or even their lives.

Immigrants are altering the relationship between Americans and their government, and making the country more hierarchical.
Visitors to the United States used to be startled by the casual egalitarianism of American manners. “Have you ever realized to yourself as a fact that the porter who carries your box has not made himself inferior to you by the very act of carrying that box?” Anthony Trollope asked readers back home in Victorian England. If not, brace yourself: “That is the very lesson which the man wishes to teach you.”

That lesson may no longer be getting taught. In 1970, almost every U.S. resident was a U.S. citizen, enjoying all the political and civil rights of citizenship. Today, in immigration-dense states such as California, Texas, New Jersey, and New York, at least 10 percent of residents are not citizens. These people occupy a wide array of subordinated legal statuses. Some are legal permanent residents, lacking only the right to vote. Some are legal temporary residents, allowed to work but requiring permission to change employers. Some hold student visas, allowing them to study here but not to work. Some, such as the Dreamers, and persons displaced by natural disasters in the Caribbean or Central America, may have entered the country illegally but are authorized to remain and work under a temporary status that can continue for years or decades.

America is not yet Dubai or Qatar or ancient Athens, where citizenship is almost an aristocratic status rather than the shared birthright of all residents. But more and more of the people who live among Americans are not on equal legal footing with Americans. They cannot vote. They cannot qualify as jurors. If they commit a crime, they are subject not only to prison but to deportation. And because these noncitizens are keenly aware of those things, they adjust their behavior. They keep a low profile. They do not complain to the authorities if, say, their boss cheats them out of some of their pay, or if they’ve been attacked on the street, or if they are abused by a parent or partner at home.

Heavy immigration has enabled the powerful—and the policy makers who disproportionately heed the powerful—to pay less attention to the disarray in so many segments of the U.S. population. Because the country imports so many workers, employers do not miss the labor of the millions of men consigned to long-term incarceration. Without the immigrant workers less prone to abuse drugs than the native-born, American elites might have noticed the opioid epidemic before it killed more Americans than died in the Vietnam, Korean, and Iraq Wars and the 9/11 attacks combined. The demand for universal health coverage might gain political force if so many of the uninsured were not noncitizens and nonvoters. None of this is immigrants’ fault, obviously. It is more true that America’s tendency to plutocracy explains immigration policies than that immigration policies explain the tendency to plutocracy. Managing immigration better is only one element of restoring equity to American life. But it is an essential element, without which it is hard to imagine how any other element can be achieved.

IV. What’s the Right Level of Immigration?

Immigration offers Americans access to a wider range of human talent. It offers immigrants a chance at a better life. It is grounded in American history and relied upon by the American economy. The birth rate among native-born Americans has generally been below the replacement level since the early 1970s—meaning that some amount of immigration is indispensable to simply keeping the population stable.

The gratuitous brutalities of the Trump administration shock the conscience, and fail even on their own terms. Intended as deterrents, they are not deterring. They are succeeding only in counterradicalizing liberal opinion to stigmatize almost all immigration enforcement against nonfelons as cruel, racist, and unacceptable.

Trump talks about a wall because he thinks about immigration in terms of symbols. Keep out, he wants to say, and what symbolizes that truculent message better than slabs of concrete arrayed like incisors in a line running from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean?

But immigration needs to be thought of as a system, not a symbol. And the system is not working. No intentional policy has led the U.S. to accept more low-wage, low-skill laborers and fewer cancer researchers. Yet that is what the United States is doing. Virtually all the Central American families and unaccompanied minors who crossed the border in the summer of 2014 still remain in the United States. Meanwhile, the number of people coming to study in the United States on F-1 visas has sharply declined since 2015.

This happened because the first group is labeled “asylum seekers,” subject to one set of rules, and the second group is categorized as student-visa applicants, subject to another. The distinction derives from laws and treaties adopted in the aftermath of World War II, when the plight of refugees from Nazism and communism were at the forefront of consciousness. But these categorizations apply poorly to a world in which tens of millions of people are on the move in search of better lives. The young woman from Pakistan who finds refuge from a male-dominated society in an American cancer-research lab is an asylum seeker as well as an economic migrant; the Guatemalan who witnessed an uncle’s murder and so decided to seek safer streets and better wages in the United States is an economic migrant as well as an asylum seeker. The supposedly watertight legal categories blur, leaving a question: Who should be invited to join with the natives of the United States to build, together, a better life for the Americans of today and tomorrow?

The family-reunification bias of present U.S. immigration policy effectively delegates that decision to immigrant diasporas in the United States. On average, a settled immigrant will sponsor 3.5 relatives to follow him or her into the United States.

Family ties also help explain the dynamics of unauthorized immigration. Central American asylum seekers say they are fleeing crime in their home countries. Yet asylum-seeking has surged even as crime in Central America has subsided. El Salvador’s homicide rate has dropped by half since 2015; Honduras’s has plunged by 75 percent since 2013. As these asylum seekers have settled in the United States, they have beckoned their families to follow. U.S. adjudicators have rejected the vast majority of Central American asylum applications. But that has not diminished the flow from Central America. The process is slow, and a rejected application can be appealed. As the proceedings grind on, asylum seekers can vanish into diaspora communities where they can find housing, work, and welcome.

The asylum seekers are advancing their interests and those of their families as best they can. Americans have the same responsibility to do what is best for Americans. A smaller immigration intake would dramatically slow the growth in the foreign-born share of the population, better shielding democratic political systems from extremist authoritarian reactions. Cutting the legal annual intake in half—back to the 540,000 a year that prevailed before the Immigration Act of 1990—would still keep the U.S. population growing strongly even if native birth rates never recover from their present deeply depressed levels.

And shifting that intake sharply away from family reunification (by, for example, ending preferences for adult siblings) would enable the U.S. to emphasize acceptance of highly skilled, high-earning immigrants—more doctors from Nigeria, say, or software engineers from India. Fewer, but higher-earning, immigrants would contribute more to Medicare and Social Security, while requiring less assistance from state social-welfare programs for themselves and their children.

Even at lower immigration levels, America will continue to move rapidly toward greater ethnic diversity. Under today’s policies, the U.S. will become majority-minority in about 2044. Even cutting immigration by nearly half would postpone that historical juncture by only one to five years, according to computations by The Washington Post. The higher birth rates of the immigrants already living in this country have determined what the American future will look like demographically. The challenge for today’s Americans is to allow that new demography to develop in an environment of social equality and cultural cohesion.

Immigration cannot be reduced overnight. The 4-million-person backlog of approved admissions will have to be cleared. But as authorities process fewer legal immigrants, they will be able to concentrate resources more effectively to combat unlawful immigration.

The phrase border security seriously distorts our understanding of illegal immigration. By some tallies, more than half of the most recent immigrants in the country illegally arrived legally—typically as a student or tourist—then overstayed their visa. They obeyed the law when they entered. They broke it by failing to leave. They get away with this because the U.S. concentrates its immigration enforcement on the frontier—while slighting the workplace. President Trump seethes against illegal border crossings. Yet at least five of his golf resorts employed undocumented laborers for the first two years of his presidency. At one of his resorts, fully half the winter-season employees worked illegally.

The Trump Organization will almost certainly face no consequences for its lawbreaking. Scofflaw employers rarely do. To its credit, the Trump administration has stepped up workplace enforcement somewhat since 2017. But while immigration investigations and audits are increasing, they remain rare.

The massive deportation of people who have lived in the country for a long time would serve no one well. But employers of unauthorized labor should face and fear fines sufficient to deter lawbreaking. If employers stop hiring undocumented workers, those workers will not be induced to cross the border in the first place.

Even more urgently, employers who take advantage of immigration status—to cheat workers of their pay, or harass or abuse them sexually, or force them to work in unsafe conditions—should be prime targets for criminal prosecution. As states raise their minimum wages, the temptation to hire people of precarious immigration status will intensify. It is the workplace that most needs additional enforcement resources.

Americans also need to rethink asylum policy. If unemployment, poverty, or disorder in your home country qualifies you for asylum, then hundreds of millions of people qualify—even though virtually none of them has been targeted by the kind of state-sponsored persecution that asylum laws were originally written to redress.

The U.S. immigration system offers an even less practical response to the problems of displaced persons and refugees. In a mass population exodus like that from the Syrian civil war, plucking only a lucky handful to jet to a new land is a mostly empty palliative, since that leaves virtually every other victim of the war no better off. The immigration-skeptical Center for Immigration Studies estimates that it costs 12 times more to resettle a refugee in the United States than to house, feed, and provide work for that refugee in his or her safest neighboring country.

“How to help those displaced by conflict?” and “How should we select our future fellow Americans?” need to be seen as different questions requiring different sets of answers.

With immigration pressures bound to increase, it becomes more imperative than ever to restore the high value of national citizenship, not to denigrate or disparage others but because for many of your fellow citizens—perhaps less affluent, educated, and successful than you—the claim “I am a U.S. citizen” is the only claim they have to any resources or protection. Without immigration restrictions, there are no national borders. Without national borders, there are no nation-states. Without nation-states, there are no electorates. Without electorates, there is no democracy. If liberals insist that only fascists will enforce borders, then voters will hire fascists to do the job liberals refuse to do.

Yes, borders are arbitrary. And, yes, more people are arguing that we should care as much about people in faraway lands as we do about our fellow Americans. But the practical effect of making this argument is to enable the powerful to care as little for their fellow Americans as they do for people in faraway lands.

A quarter of the 45 million foreign-born people currently living in the U.S. arrived here illegally. As of 2016, two-thirds of them had resided in the United States for 10 years or more. They cannot reasonably be expected to leave. Those who arrived as children know no other home. In a decade or two, millions of people without legal status will reach the age of 65. What happens to them? Under present law, they will receive no Social Security from the United States; they will not qualify for Medicare. Will we allow them to sink into illness and destitution in their old age? Many of the Democratic candidates for president want to expand Medicare to citizens under age 65. Will millions of people in the United States be left without care? Health care for all is not consistent with an immigration policy that does not police the boundaries of that “all.” If undocumented immigrants are to be included in the American “us” (as sooner or later many will have to be), then the country has to be assured that large-scale illegal immigration will never again be tacitly tolerated as it was over the past generation.

It will not be easy to make a success of the low-skill and often illegal immigration to the United States over the past three decades, to extend equal opportunity to all, to assimilate into a common nationality those who arrived speaking Mixtec or Bengali or Fula. It was hard enough to do this in the 19th century, when home was a three-week sea voyage away. Today, when immigrants can remain easily connected to their place of origin—and when the native majority has lost confidence in a unitary American identity—the task of assimilation is even harder.

Where once the nation’s cultural leaders condemned “hyphenated Americanism,” today the hyphen has become a tool of cultural power. Those white Americans who might not have a hyphen obviously at hand now scramble to invent one. They have become “hardworking Americans” or “everyday Americans” or “real Americans”—separating themselves from a shared destiny with other Americans.

No American more eloquently deplored hyphenation than Theodore Roosevelt. Read his words in full, and you see that Roosevelt’s insistence on a singular national identity was founded not on any sense of hereditary supremacy, but on his passionately patriotic egalitarianism.

The children and children’s children of all of us have to live here in this land together. Our children’s children will intermarry, one with another, your children’s children, friends, and mine. They will be the citizens of one country.

One country. How many Americans feel that way about their country now? Yet that is how it must be, how it can be.

More than any other area of government, U.S. immigration policy is driven by nostalgia—by ancestral memories of a world long gone. Give me your tired, your poor …

This is no way to think about the problems of today. These are new times, calling for new thinking. The wealth of 21st-century America is not found in farms and mines, but in the skill and productivity of its people. It has never been more important to invest in those people. When somebody seeks to join the American national community, that person is asking the United States to honor a multigenerational commitment to him or her and to each of his or her descendants.

Americans are entitled to consider carefully whom they will number among themselves. They would be irresponsible not to consider this carefully—because all of these expensive commitments must be built on a deep agreement that all who live inside the borders of the United States count as “ourselves.” The years of slow immigration, 1915 to 1975, were also years in which the United States became a more cohesive nation: the years of the civil-rights revolution, the building of a mass middle class, the construction of a national social-insurance system, the projection of U.S. power in two world wars. As immigration has accelerated, the country seems to have splintered apart.

Many Americans feel that the country is falling short of its promises of equal opportunity and equal respect. Levels of immigration that are too high only enhance the difficulty of living up to those promises. Reducing immigration, and selecting immigrants more carefully, will enable the country to more quickly and successfully absorb the people who come here, and to ensure equality of opportunity to both the newly arrived and the long-settled—to restore to Americans the feeling of belonging to one united nation, responsible for the care and flourishing of all its people.

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All The Islamic State Has Left Is Money. Lots of It. – by David Kenner (The Atlantic) 24 March 2019

Construction workers remove debris from destroyed shops in Mosul in November 2017.
Construction workers remove debris from destroyed shops in Mosul in November 2017.

BEIRUT—If you’re looking to transfer money here, there’s a chance you will be directed to Abu Shawkat. He works out of a small office in a working-class suburb of the Lebanese capital, but won’t give you its exact location. Instead, he’ll direct you to a nearby alleyway, and whether he shows up depends on whether he likes the look of you.

Abu Shawkat—not his real name—is part of the hawala system, which is often used to transfer cash between places where the banking system has broken down or is too expensive for some to access. If he agrees to do business, you’ll set a password and he will take your cash, then provide you with the contact information of a hawala broker in the city where your money is headed. Anyone who offers that specific password to that particular broker will get the funds. Thus, cash can travel across borders without any inquiry into who is sending or receiving it, or its purpose.

But Abu Shawkat runs the hawala equivalent of a mom-and-pop store: One of the giants of the industry, which analysts believe owns a network of money-services businesses and has moved millions of dollars a week, is the Islamic State.

Even as U.S.-backed forces wrest back the Islamic State’s last strip of territory in Syria, the United States and its allies are nowhere close to bringing down the terrorist organization’s economic empire. The group remains a financial powerhouse: It still has access to hundreds of millions of dollars, according to experts’ estimates, and can rely on a battle-tested playbook to keep money flowing into its coffers. That continued wealth has real risks, threatening to help it retain the allegiance of a committed core of loyalists and wreak havoc through terrorist attacks for years to come.

The Islamic State’s financial strength offers a window into the broader challenge facing the United States and other governments. In its effort to squeeze the group financially, Washington has been forced to rely on a fundamentally different strategy than it employed in its military campaign: The main weapons at its disposal are not air strikes and artillery barrages, but subtler tools, such as sanctioning Islamic State–linked businesses, denying them access to the international financial system, and quietly cooperating with governments across the globe. Successes will be less visible, the campaign against the group will likely take years, and there is no guarantee of victory.

The end of the Islamic State’s days of holding and governing territory represents a double-edged sword for officials looking to starve it of resources. On the one hand, its dramatic losses have made it far more difficult for the group to rely on two major sources of revenue: the exploitation of oil fields in Iraq and Syria, and the taxation of citizens living under its rule. These methods played a key role in allowing the Islamic State to raise roughly $1 million a day, a senior Iraqi security official, who declined to be identified discussing intelligence issues, told me, transforming the group into the world’s richest terrorist organization.

On the other hand, the Islamic State’s loss of territory has freed it from the costs associated with trying to build its self-declared “caliphate,” allowing it to focus exclusively on terrorist activity. A U.S. Treasury Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the group is operating increasingly like its insurgent predecessor, al-Qaeda in Iraq, and no longer requires the same resources it did when it governed territory. Oil still brings in revenue too: While the Islamic State no longer controls individual fields, the Treasury official added that a key source of the group’s income is the extortion of oil-supply lines across the region.

The Islamic State is also still sitting on the massive windfall that it built up during the height of its power. “What we know is that they accumulated large amounts of cash and other assets,” said Howard Shatz, a senior economist at the Rand Corporation and co-author of several studies on the Islamic State’s finances. “We don’t know where it all went.”

Some of those funds appear to have been invested in legitimate commercial enterprises. In October, a series of raids on Islamic State–linked businesses in the Iraqi city of Erbil uncovered a paper trail that suggested the group had invested in everything from real estate to automobile dealerships. These businesses are often run by middlemen who partner with the group not out of ideological sympathy but for profit, and then funnel revenue to the Islamic State when called upon.

The senior Iraqi security official told me that the bulk of the Islamic State’s assets had been transferred to Turkey, though the Treasury Department has sanctioned its money-services businesses in Syria and Iraq, which have connections as far away as the Caribbean. Some of these funds are reportedly held in cash by individuals in Turkey, while a portion has also been invested in gold. There is precedent for Ankara turning a blind eye toward the terrorist organization’s activity on its soil: The group used to make millions of dollars by selling smuggled oil to Turkish buyers. The October raid in Erbil also targeted the financial network built up by Fawaz Muhammad Jubayr al-Rawi, an Islamic State leader who the Treasury Department claims owned and operated Syria-based money-services businesses that exchanged money with Turkey. The Turkish government has consistently denied providing safe harbor to either Islamic State individuals or the group’s assets.

The war-ravaged states of Syria and Iraq also provide the Islamic State with ample opportunities to revive the tactics that financed its predecessor organization. From 2008 to 2012, when al-Qaeda in Iraq was driven underground, it operated much like a mafia: It skimmed construction contracts, particularly in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul; stole goods and resold them; and kidnapped members of wealthy families for ransom. Despite its straitened circumstances, the group was recording monthly revenues of nearly $1 million just in Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital, in late 2008 and early 2009.

Today it has even more factors working in its favor. The destruction of areas of northern Iraq once controlled by the Islamic State has necessitated a massive reconstruction effort. At a conference last year, countries pledged $30 billion to rebuild the area, a figure that is still well below what the Iraqi government said it needs. Perversely, such a massive injection of funds provides the Islamic State with even more opportunity to benefit from corruption. Declassified documents show that senior Iraqi, Kurdish, and Turkish politicians had dealings with al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2009; oversight of how funds are spent is likely even worse now, given the magnitude of the task. Second, the Islamic State kept meticulous records about the approximately 7 million to 8 million people living under its rule during the height of its power. If it retained control of those records, it could use them to extort Iraqis and Syrians.

“If you lived in ISIS territory, they know where you live, they know much money you make, and they know what your business is,” Shatz told me. “They can go to a businessman and say, ‘You must be very proud of your son. It would be a pity to see something happen to him.’”

Like any smart multinational conglomerate, the Islamic State has diversified its streams of revenue. Even if the United States and its allies manage to cut off, for example, the group’s kidnap-for-ransom business, it can turn to those commercial enterprises and extortion rackets.

The situation is far from hopeless. The United States has already made a dent in the Islamic State’s finances by targeting its oil network, and the group may find that its meticulous records can be used against it: Once captured, those records could provide a detailed overview of its personnel and sources of revenue. But there are no silver bullets.

Abu Shawkat’s market advantage is that he can send money to places where formal institutions have crumbled. The Islamic State’s business model relies on similar factors, only on a much grander scale. It aims to exploit state breakdown as a way to fund its main product: political violence. That violence then weakens the state further, creating more financial opportunities for the terrorist organization.

The military victory against the Islamic State is cause for celebration, but it also allows the group to fall back on an economic strategy that has served it well for years. Don’t expect it to go out of business anytime soon.

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US: Federal Gov’t Identification Requirements For Air Travel 2020 – Real ID Causing Real Confusion – More Documents and Vetting Required – by Chistina Ianzito (AARP) 28 Feb 2019

Kansas Real ID

In just 19 months air travelers will need the driver’s license/ID card known as a Real ID if they want to board domestic flights, but as states roll out the new cards there has been both confusion and anxiety.

Oct. 1, 2020, is the day the Real ID law will finally be enforced. Conceived as part of 2005 legislation in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it requires people to show security-enhanced IDs to pass through airport security checkpoints or to enter certain federal facilities, such as military bases. (You will also be able to use passports or certain other federal documents as an alternative to a Real ID.)

Sometimes called the Star Card, because most states are marking their Real ID cards with a gold or black star in the top right corner, it also must include an encoded “machine readable zone,” like a passport’s, with a person’s scannable information. Many state driver’s licenses already have this feature. The key thing that makes the card “special,” is that the federal government requires you to provide certain identifying documentation to obtain one from your state.

The rollout has caused confusion for various reasons, so here are a few basics that are helpful to understand:

• To get a Real ID, you need to present documents to your motor vehicle department proving your age and identity, Social Security number and address. That generally means bringing a birth certificate or passport, a Social Security card or tax form such as a W-2, and two proofs of address. If you’ve changed your name through marriage, you’ll need a marriage certificate.

• Although the Real ID is also a driver’s license, the old-style driver’s license is still lawful for driving and still available as an option in many states. (Some, such as Arizona and Kentucky, are trying to make this clear by calling the Real ID a “Voluntary Traveler ID.”)  

The Department of Homeland Security has called on travel agents to begin asking their customers whether they’re Real ID compliant, and is stepping up its public education campaign.

• To fly, however, a “regular” driver’s license won’t be sufficient to get through security and onto a plane. The Real ID technically is not mandatory because you can instead use a passport or an ID from the federal government’s Trusted Traveler Program, such as a Global Entry card. 

• For international travel, you’ll still need a passport.

That all may sound simple enough, but in much of the country, nearly 15 years after its conception, Real ID remains a work in progress — and difficult for some residents trying to get a new card.

Twelve states have yet to issue them, but are working on it (Tennessee, for instance, plans to have them ready in July). Other states, and Washington, D.C., have been issuing Real ID cards for several years now with little fanfare; and still others recently began issuing them, but the process has been fraught with confusion. You can check your state’s status on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s site, which has a color-coded clickable map

Privacy Concerns

Many states have delayed getting the cards in circulation because some residents and legislators worried that Real ID was a way for the government to collect personal information for a national database. State lawmakers in Idaho, Oklahoma, Kentucky and elsewhere even passed laws banning their motor vehicle departments from implementing the new federal requirements and now are playing catch up to meet the upcoming deadline (which was meant to be Jan. 22, 2018, but delayed with all the foot-dragging).

Because Oregon didn’t agree to comply with the Real ID requirements until 2017, for instance, the state won’t be ready to issue the optional new cards until July 2020.

In Kentucky, privacy concerns were initially an issue, says Naitore Djigbenou, director of public affairs for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. But, she adds, “We’ve communicated to people that this is a state-maintained card. There’s no national database or anything.” Kentucky, which will still offer old-style driver’s licenses, will start issuing optional Real IDs in certain counties at the end of March, Djigbenou says, then will expand statewide in phases over the following few months.

The DHS website stresses, “Real ID is a national set of standards, not a national identification card,” and each jurisdiction “maintains its own records, and controls who gets access to those records and under what circumstances.”

Paperwork Problems 

For some people, getting the proper paperwork is a problem because their birth or marriage certificate isn’t actually from the state and therefore not sufficient. In Maryland residents who are 65 or older are allowed to submit other documents in place of a birth certificate, including military discharge paperwork, says Christine Nizer, administrator of Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration: “We wanted to provide alternatives to make the process as easy as possible.” The state has an online document guide to help residents figure out what’s needed.

Getting the Word Out

Many people remain unaware of, or are simply confused by, the new rules, and the clock is ticking. Idaho made the card available a year ago, but officials reported a few weeks ago that only 5 percent of licensed drivers, or 70,000 people, had applied for one so far.

The Department of Homeland Security has called on travel agents to begin asking their customers whether they’re Real ID compliant, and is stepping up its public education campaign.

“There is still some time,”  says Alexis Campbell, spokesperson for Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation, “but it’s good to be proactive.”

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US Public School Teachers crowdfund for classroom supplies – Some districts are banning the practice – By Gaby Del Valle (Vox) 29 March 2019

DonorsChoose and other crowdfunding sites are coming under scrutiny.

Some school districts have begun prohibiting teachers from using crowdfunding sites to purchase school supplies.

As public school budgets get tighter and teacher pay stagnates, a growing number of teachers are turning to crowdfunding sites to pay for everything from classroom supplies to field trips. More than 80 percent of schools across the country have at least one teacher that has used DonorsChoose, a popular crowdfunding site designed for teachers, according to the nonprofit’s own statistics.

The estimated average annual salary for K-12 teachers was just over $58,000 during the 2016-17 school year, according to data from the National Education Association. Ninety-four percent of teachers have used their own money to buy school supplies, according to a survey by the National Center for Education Statistics released last May. Thirty-six percent of the teachers polled spent between $251 and $500 each year, and educators in low-income schools reported spending more. It’s no surprise that teachers are turning to crowdfunding sites to fill the gap.

But some districts have reportedly begun prohibiting teachers from using crowdfunding sites for classroom expenses — which, in many cases, could force teachers to go back to spending their own money on necessary supplies.

Nashville’s crowdfunding ban

Nashville’s public school system recently made headlines for banning crowdfunding sites like DonorsChoose. But as Education Week noted, the district’s ban on crowdfunding services isn’t new: The Metro Nashville board of education’s fundraising policy, which was last updated in January 2018, bans individual staff members from using online fundraising platforms. Schools are allowed to use crowdfunding sites for school-wide fundraisers, but the district has to approve the projects.

The school board has several objections to teachers’ use of crowdfunding sites, the Education Week report shows. “The state Comptroller has indicated that such sites are problematic for school districts because of lack of adequate controls,” K. Dawn Rutledge, the district’s communication officer, told Education Week via email. In other words, administrators appear to be concerned that teachers can order products that don’t meet district standards — and that teachers can claim to be raising money for classroom supplies but instead keep it for themselves.

But DonorsChoose says its platform is designed to assuage all of these concerns — unlike other crowdfunding websites. “When a teacher comes on our site, they must be [accredited] with a school,” Chris Pearsall, the vice president of brand and communications at Donors Choose told me. Teachers write an essay explaining what supplies they need, “and then they actually go shopping on our site to select the products they want for their classroom.” Before the project is posted to the public, it gets vetted by a screener.

“When the project is funded, we purchase the materials the teachers requested and ship them directly to the classroom,” Pearsall added. “There’s no transfer of cash to those teachers, and we notify the school that those products are on their way.” Once the donated items arrive, teachers have to send in photos of the students using them, and the students are asked to write letters thanking their donors for funding the project.

For cash-strapped teachers, crowdfunding sites are an unfortunate necessity

Erin Hart-Parke, a high school English teacher in Pinellas County, Florida, told me the way DonorsChoose is set up should put administrators at ease. “It’s not like [the items are] going to the teacher’s house or [the money] is ever in the teacher’s bank account,” she said. “Originally when [my district] found out about DonorsChoose, a lot of administrators were saying, ‘Don’t use that, because we don’t know where the money is coming from.’ Now you can use DonorsChoose, but you have to get the project approved by the administration first and fill out some paperwork with the bookkeeper.”

Hart-Parke said she’s used DonorsChoose to buy a document camera and several sets of books for her classes, including Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. “[Skloot] had been going on DonorsChoose and seeing if anybody was asking for her book. She donated to the project and posted the link on Twitter and Facebook and got a bunch of people to fulfill the rest of the project,” Hart-Parke said. “When I went to go teach the book, I could tell the kids, ‘The author helped get you this book,’ and it helped them be interested in it and feel like somebody cared about whether they read a book, other than me.”

Kara Saunders, a math teacher in the Bronx, New York, has used DonorsChoose to buy a number of items for her class. Her most recent fundraiser was for a set of movement stools, which cost just over $320.

“My classroom has about 30 chairs and desks that all look and feel the same,” she wrote on the description page for her project. “Every day one hundred different students walk in to my classroom with one hundred different learning styles. If they do not look and learn the same way, why should I expect them to sit the same way?” The stools, she said, would provide extra accommodations for students who need help staying focused throughout the class period.

“I use DonorsChoose for things that are extra — things that I wouldn’t get funding for through the school, or things that are kind of expensive,” she told me. “I work in a Title 1 school in [one of] the poorest congressional districts in the United States, so we have funding, but a lot of times it’s just for the basics.”

Crowdfunding platforms are a stopgap solution to a systemic problem

For teachers like Hart-Parke and Saunders, DonorsChoose is a way of giving students access to the materials they need — or, in some cases, to supplementary materials that enrich their learning experiences — without having to pay for those things out of pocket or asking parents to do so. In other words, it’s a way of bridging the gap between those schools where parents and teachers can afford to buy anything that isn’t covered by the school’s budget and those where that’s not an option.

Despite these rosy stories, the fact that DonorsChoose exists at all points to a larger problem: A lack of adequate funding for public schools and, as a result, a system in which teachers and parents are forced to pay for classroom supplies themselves. As Nadra Nittle previously wrote for The Goods, teachers’ dependence on crowdfunding sites like DonorsChoose shows that education — and students — continue to be shortchanged.

According to Pearsall, the reports that districts are banning DonorsChoose aren’t fully accurate. “There are a handful of school districts seeking to ban crowdfunding, but the truth is that some of them carve out exceptions for DonorsChoose,” he said.

For now, DonorsChoose appears to be a stopgap solution to a systemic problem. “I think DonorsChoose is great for filling in the gaps,” Hart-Parke said. “I wish we had the funding, and I wish I could go to the bookkeeper and say, ‘Hey, I need a document camera, can you go buy me one?’ But we don’t live in that kind of era.”

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The share of Americans not having sex has reached a record high – By Christopher Ingraham (BezoWaPo) 28 March 2019

The share of U.S. adults reporting no sex in the past year reached an all-time high in 2018, underscoring a three-decade trend line marked by an aging population and higher numbers of unattached people.

 

But among the 23 percent of adults — or nearly 1 in 4 — who spent the year in a celibate state, a much larger than expected number of them were twentysomething men, according to the latest data from the General Social Survey.

 

Experts who study Americans’ bedroom habits say there are a number of factors driving the Great American Sex Drought. Age is one of them: The 60 and older demographic climbed from 18 percent of the population in 1996 to 26 percent in 2018, according to the survey. The share reporting no sex has consistently hovered around 50 percent, and because that age group is growing relative to everyone else, it has the net effect of reducing the overall population’s likelihood of having sex.

(The Washington Post) More than ever, Americans aren’t having sex.

But changes at the other end of the age spectrum may be playing an even bigger role. The portion of Americans 18 to 29 reporting no sex in the past year more than doubled between 2008 and 2018, to 23 percent.

 

Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University and author of iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood, said in an interview that growing sexlessness among America’s twentysomethings is primarily attributable to partnering up later in life.

 

“There are more people in their twenties who don’t have a live-in partner,” she said. “So under those circumstances I think less sex is going to happen.”

 

Americans in their 30s, 40s and beyond, meanwhile, are much more likely to be married than those in their 20s. These age groups are now considerably more likely to have sex in a given year than their younger peers.

(The Washington Post) The lack of sex is driven mainly by the young.

The data also show a significant gender divide among twentysomethings.

For most of the past three decades, twentysomething men and women reported similar rates of sexlessness. But that’s changed in recent years. Since 2008, the share of men younger than 30 reporting no sex has nearly tripled, to 28 percent. That’s a much steeper increase than the 8 percentage point increase reported among their female peers.

There are several potential explanations for this, Twenge said. Labor force participation among young men has fallen, particularly in the aftermath of the last recession. Researchers also see a “connection between labor force participation and stable relationships,” she said.

The survey showed, for in

stance, that 54 percent of unemployed Americans didn’t have a steady romantic partner, compared with only 32 percent among the employed.

(The Washington Post) Young men are driving the decline in sex.

Young men also are more likely to be living with their parents than young women: In 2014, for instance, 35 percent of men age 18 to 34 were living in their parents’ home, compared with 29 percent of women in that age group. At the risk of stating the obvious, “when you’re living at home it’s probably harder to bring sexual partners into your bedroom,” Twenge said.

 

One final factor that may be affecting Americans’ sexual habits at all ages is technology. “There are a lot more things to do at 10 o’clock at night now than there were 20 years ago,” Twenge said. “Streaming video, social media, console games, everything else.”

Underscoring this point, the share of people who are having relations once a week or more is on a downward trajectory: from 51 percent in 1996 to 39 percent today.

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