How immigration is driving U.S. job growth (Neil Irwin, 3/12/24, Axios)

New analysis from the Brookings Institution puts some hard numbers on the relationship between the rise in immigration and the labor market — finding an influx of workers is allowing the U.S. to sustain higher rates of payroll gains than forecasters thought it could before the pandemic.

“Faster population and labor force growth has meant that employment could grow more quickly than previously believed without adding to inflationary pressures,” economists Wendy Edelberg and Tara Watson write for the Hamilton Project.
By the numbers: Before the pandemic, forecasters estimated sustainable monthly employment growth would be between 60,000 and 130,000 in 2023 — a key reason why last year’s monthly average of 255,000 looked way too hot.

But Edelberg and Watson say that, accounting for higher immigration, the economy could have accommodated job growth between 160,000 and 230,000 in 2023 “without adding to pressure in the labor market that pushed up wages and price inflation.”

MAGA’s adoption of the Left’s economics is not coincidental. They want to tank the economy.


Two Christians Take On Postliberalism: The increasingly hostile political landscape requires a reevaluation of the roles of church and state. (Hunter Baker, March 8, 2024, Modern Age)

As a matter of conviction, Baptists would tend to reject Christian nationalism because of their strong emphasis on a regenerate church community. That means that they envision a church whose members have voluntarily and enthusiastically embraced the Christian faith. It also means Baptists have tended to be great advocates of religious liberty, as they deem forced religion to be an offense to God through its production of hypocrisy. It is no surprise, then, that Miller opposes Christian nationalism.

Wolfe, as a Presbyterian, comes from a denominational background that is connected to the Magisterial Reformation, which was certainly comfortable with national churches. It is probably no accident that the Baptists vigorously reject infant baptism, while both Presbyterians and Catholics embrace it. One cannot fail to notice that in the national churches of the types Magisterial Reformation traditions and the Catholic Church employed, to be born effectively meant to simultaneously enter the church as a Christian and the state as a citizen. This style of Christianity is comprehensive (in that it comprehends almost all citizens within its community) as opposed to the regenerate style that has appeared to work well in modernity. Wolfe would like to return to the comprehensive Christianity of the old national churches and their partner states.


DeSantis faces pushback in Florida as voters tire of war on woke: Conservative lawmakers rejected a host of new culture wars proposals in the legislature (Lori Rozsa, March 9, 2024, Washington Post)

[I]nstead of sailing through the Republican-dominated legislature, the DeSantis-backed bill died a quick legislative death, making it only as far as one subcommittee.

It wasn’t the only culture war proposal from conservative lawmakers to end up in the bill graveyard during the session that ended Friday. One rejected bill would have banned the removal of Confederate monuments. Another would have required transgender people to use their sex assigned at birth on driver’s licenses — something the state Department of Motor Vehicles is already mandating. A third proposed forbidding local and state government officials from using transgender people’s pronouns. […]

But the pushback is growing.

Parents and others have organized and protested schoolbook bans. Abortion rights advocates gathered enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot in Florida in November. A bill that would have established “fetal personhood” stalled before it could reach a full vote.

Judges are also canceling some of DeSantis’s marquee laws, including the “Stop Woke Act.” A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled Monday that the law “exceeds the bounds” of the Constitution’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech and expression.

Even the governor recently admitted the state might have gone too far in trying to remove certain books from school shelves, suggesting laws on book challenges should be “tweaked” to prevent “bad actors” from having too much influence.

SO FRENCH (profanity alert):

Run, Nikki, run! (Dan Hannan, March 7, 2024, Washington Examiner)

Such politicians are not exceptional. For example, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France is Trumpist, as is Matteo Salvini’s League in Italy. They, too, lean left on economics and right on immigration and have a weird thing about their leaders. It is hardly surprising that some Americans should be in that tradition.

The surprising thing, the thing I am still no closer to understanding after eight years, is how the GOP rolled over for someone who so obviously despised it. The most basic Republican principle is a suspicion of concentrated power. Yet the only nonnegotiable requirement to belong to MAGA is to grovel publicly before former President Donald Trump. Again and again, senior Republicans who had previously called Trump dishonest, vain, self-obsessed, cowardly, megalomaniac, or deranged have dropped to their knees before him. […]

It’s so un-American, this fawning, this cultishness, this Führerprinzip. Yet it has taken over a party that used to believe in the dispersal of power, the constraint of executive authority, and the equality of all adult citizens before the law.


If It Were Me, I’d Try Not Helping the Christian Nationalists (Jake Meador, 3/08/24, Mere Orthodoxy)

[T]his has been a persistent problem in the Christian Nationalism discourse virtually since it started. There are really two types of “Christian Nationalist”: When the term is used by basically anyone to the left of The Gospel Coalition, it is being used as a scary sounding word for “non-libertarian socially conservative Christians.” And that’s not a great definition, not least because there’s very little that today’s non-libertarian socially conservative Christians are saying that we haven’t been saying for decades. What’s more, using the label in that way represents utterly normal Christian beliefs you find across church history as being somehow uniquely pernicious and dangerous in some brand new way.

That said, when many people more to the right use the term, they have something specific in mind. Stephen Wolfe’s (no relation to William Wolfe) The Case for Christian Nationalism isn’t arguing for a pro-life, pro-natural marriage Christian liberalism. He is, rather, echoing interwar European right ideas about natural greatness, hierarchy, and political power. […]

So: The Christian Nationalist political project, as defined by Stephen Wolfe, Andrew Isker, and Andrew Torba and their close associates is a) Nazi-adjacent, b) seeks to retrieve such political tradition as the Confederacy and the interwar European right, and c) routinely engages in anti-Semitic and anti-Black racial speech. These are the core ideas and practices that define the movement.


We’ve Been Underestimating Discrimination (Rose Jacobs, February 20, 2024, CBR)

The layered relationship over time between identity and opportunity make up the infrastructure of systemic discrimination, a phenomenon that social scientists have studied since the 1950s and that is increasingly acknowledged across American society, despite resistance from the Right. But in economics, practitioners have traditionally studied only direct discrimination, with projects that have a narrower scope. Take, for example, a study from three Federal Reserve economists—Neil Bhutta, Aurel Hizmo, and Daniel Ringo—that analyzes the extent to which lenders provided differential treatment by race, illegal under US fair-lending laws, in 2018 and 2019. The study establishes a steep decline in racial discrimination in mortgage issuance, as compared with research findings from a study of home loan applications in 1990, which is encouraging. But the researchers in both studies controlled for factors such as applicants’ credit scores and leverage, a standard economic approach but one that drew ridicule from journalist Michael Hobbes, who tweeted, “Yes[,] once you remove the influence of all of the other racist systems, racism doesn’t exist.”

The thinking among economists about how to account for such factors may be changing, however. University of Pennsylvania’s J. Aislinn Bohren, Brown’s Peter Hull, and Chicago Booth’s Alex Imas are among the economists who are proposing new approaches to measuring discrimination that take systemic factors into account. They are looking at the mechanisms by which historical discrimination continues to create unequal outcomes while also acknowledging the limits of economists’ traditional measurement tools and extending the tape measure—rethinking their models so that quantitative data can better illuminate whether the American dream is available to all. The research by Bohren, Hull, and Imas indicates that traditional estimates can undercount discrimination, and not by just a little: they sometimes miss the majority of the total.


Fake clouds, seeding doubt (Evan Solomon, 2/29/24, GZero)

“Those clouds are not real,” the woman standing next me at the car pickup spot said, pointing to the overcast skies above San Diego.

I had just arrived here to speak to a group of business leaders about Eurasia Group’s Top Risk report and the political landscape ahead in a year of polarizing elections.


“It’s usually beautiful and sunny here, but now with the cloud seeding, all we get is this,” she explained, adopting that apologetic tone proud locals use when their home isn’t exhibiting its best for a visitor. She interrupted her weather flow to give me some other tips about local restaurants — “check out Roberto’s taco stand” — and hiking in the area, before returning to the weather.

“Yeah, you know all those floods we had this past month?” she asked rhetorically. “They’re from these clouds the climate folks created with their cloud seeding because they want to block out the sun to cool the Earth down.”

And then she added the kicker: “And it’s poison, you know.”

Of all the risks I had come here to talk about, the poison-fake-clouds-causing-floods risk did not make the agenda. But the theory is so pervasive in California that the LA Times just wrote a long story in order to, well, rain on the conspiracy parade. […]

If someone doesn’t believe the clouds are real, why would they believe the facts about the economy are real?


Patrick Deneen Fails to Understand the Liberal Tradition: Deneen grasps neither liberal theory nor even the supposed basis of his own thought (Sharon Kuruvilla, Sourodipto Roy, Feb 26, 2024, Liberal Currents)

Of course, in order to define a positive conception of the elite and the commons, Deneen must define what he considers to be its negative contemporary manifestations. The elite, under liberalism, appears to be the “laptop class”. This is an amorphous collection of Never-Trumpers, campus liberals, college professors who promote Neo-Marxism (distinguished by Deneen from traditional Marxism, as a result of the new variant’s promotion of such anti-traditional forms of thought like critical race theory or critical theory), Silicon Valley professionals, “woke capital” (he does not clarify who could be included here), and all those prone to supporting liberalization of traditional socio-cultural mores. Opposed to these are the salt-of-the-earth coalition of workers and small business owners (but only those who follow Deneen’s conception of right-communitarianism, one would have to imagine. The rest are elites.) To Deneen’s credit, he doesn’t provide a simplistic Manichean understanding of these groups: he is quite clear that the contemporary commons are given to an uneducated populism which manifests itself in the election of immoral figures such as Donald Trump. Nevertheless, Deneen believes that the degradation of the commons is attributable to the elites in the last resort. In one word, we can characterize contemporary elites as “woke”. They promote an ideology that breeds suspicion, emphasize meritocratic competition that destroys social bonds…

The entirety of MAGA is just white male resentment at having to include “others” in the meritocracy and their–justified–fear that they can’t compete on equal terms.


A personal tale of intellectual humility – and the rewards of being open-minded (Gemma Ware, 2/29/24, The Conversation)

To Daryl Van Tongeren, the pressure to be right all the time is an “unassailably tall order”. He believes that we’re living in a moment where even when people make mistakes, apologize and say they’ve changed their minds, it isn’t good enough.

We demand perfection. Not only perfection now but also perfection in one’s past and perfection in one’s future.

Van Tongeren is a psychology researcher at Hope College in Michigan in the U.S. who conducts research into the concept of intellectual humility. He explains it as something that happens both within us – “our ability to admit and own our cognitive limitations” – and in our relationships with others. “It means being able to present my ideas or interact with someone in a way that’s nondefensive,” he says.

Overall, if somebody is intellectually humble, they are willing to be open-minded enough to revise their beliefs if presented with sufficiently strong evidence.

Because ideologies are utopian they deny humanness.


Stuck in the Middle with Hayek (James E. Hartley, 2/29/24, Law & Liberty)

In 1944, Friedrich Hayek wrote in “Why the Worst Get on Top” in his The Road to Serfdom:

It seems to be almost a law of human nature that it is easier for people to agree on a negative program—on the hatred of an enemy, on the envy of those better off—than on any positive task. The contrast between “we” and “they,” the common fight against those outside the group, seems to be an essential ingredient in any creed which will solidly knit together a group for common action. It is consequently always employed by those who seek, not merely support of a policy, but the unreserved allegiance of huge masses. From their point of view it has the advantage of leaving them greater freedom of action than almost any positive program. […]

The stories Alberta tells are interesting, but the most important part of the book is a conversation Alberta relates with a set of prominent evangelicals who vocally oppose the Trumpian wing of evangelicalism:

We all agreed that these ideological diehards whom [David] French was describing were not a majority of the evangelical movement. There is a difference between the people who prefer the 6 p.m. hour of programming at Fox News to those of its cable rivals, and the people who marinate in right-wing misinformation all day long. That latter group, everyone estimated, was still no more than 15 or 20 percent of most church congregations they knew of. The problem is, as [Russell] Moore pointed out, “That vocal minority will always push around a timid majority. The people who care the most usually get what they want.”

It was at that moment I had an epiphany.

I am an evangelical Christian who works at a secular liberal arts college. I am thus personally acquainted with not only this new wing of evangelicals, but also with the woke academy. While the woke movement is incredibly and aggressively vocal on college campuses, it is a minority of the community. There is a very noticeable difference between the generally liberal members of the faculty and student body and the woke activists who capture all the headlines. A good estimate of the size of the latter group is 20 percent.

Looking at the American landscape, we are watching a pair of dueling religious movements consisting of a vocal minority of people using fear of their opponents as a recruitment tool. As John McWhorter documents in Woke Racism, what is happening on college campuses, the rise of what he calls “the Elect,” is not “like” a religion; it actually is a religion. “An anthropologist would see no difference between Pentecostalism and this new form of antiracism.” There is a clergy, an original sin, attempts at evangelism, an apocalyptic narrative, and ostracism of heretics. The stories in Alberta’s book have obvious parallels with this new religion on the Left. Thinking about the evangelical church, David French noted, “If [pastors in evangelical churches] had a just-as-committed twenty percent to push back on [the politicized 15 to 20 percent] the churches would be just fine. But they don’t.” The same thing is true in the academy.

The Right is the Left.