Number of Illegal Immigrants Continues to Decline

Bob Davis of the Wall Street Journal wrote an excellent article (this link doesn’t require a subscription) on the declining numbers of illegal immigrants.  From 2007-2012, Pew Research estimated that the number of illegal immigrants in the US declined 8.2%.  In Arizona, the number dropped by an astounding 40%; clearly showing that illegal immigration can be addressed when desired.

Measuring the overall economic impact of this change on Arizona is difficult because it occurred during the latest economic recession and because the undocumented workers greatly affect the economy for better and for worse.  It is now much more difficult to obtain unskilled workers for farm work and construction, causing these markets to shrink – at least temporarily.  However, American unskilled workers who can find work are seeing raises now that they are not competing with illegal immigrants.  In addition, government spending on health care services and education has also dropped with the outflow of the undocumented workers.  Finally, while farmers have planted smaller crops because of the reduced availability of pickers, the article quotes several farmers who are investing in specialized mechanical harvesters to gather crops.  Once these are working, Arizona’s agricultural economy should equal or exceed its previous level.

This story is important for several reasons.  First, it provides data on what happens when people start enforcing immigration laws.  Keep in mind that this 40% drop took place despite a federal government that largely refused to execute federal immigration laws in Arizona during this period.  If the US government had partnered with Arizona instead of fighting it, the drop would have been much more drastic.  Second, it provides pointers for what to expect for the USA as a whole in the years to come.  In 1970 the fertility rate in the United States was 2.5 kids per woman compared to 6.8 kids per woman in Mexico.  In 2012, it was 1.9 kids per woman in the US compared to 2.3 kids per woman in Mexico.  If trends continue, in another generation Mexico will be trying to convince people to immigrate to Mexico instead of flooding the US with illegal aliens.  Thus, Arizona’s experience may be similar to what the rest of the country will experience in the years to come.

A Pyschographic Analysis of ISIS

In marketing, psychographic (behavioral) analysis is a useful method of learning more about a target segment.  While this is usually done to determine if a target segment should be pursued by an organization, it can be done for other reasons as well.  While I expect he would use non-marketing terminology to describe his work, Graeme Wood has written an informal psychographic analysis describing the behaviors and beliefs of Islamic State (ISIS) supporters.

…the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. “Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. “They mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.” He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance.

The Koran specifies crucifixion as one of the only punishments permitted for enemies of Islam. The tax on Christians finds clear endorsement in the Surah Al-Tawba, the Koran’s ninth chapter, which instructs Muslims to fight Christians and Jews “until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” The Prophet, whom all Muslims consider exemplary, imposed these rules and owned slaves.

Leaders of the Islamic State have taken emulation of Muhammad as strict duty, and have revived traditions that have been dormant for hundreds of years. “What’s striking about them is not just the literalism, but also the seriousness with which they read these texts,” Haykel said. “There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness that Muslims don’t normally have.”

The essay provides many more details.  This picture of the supporters of ISIS should be studied by both those in power and by others seeking to understand the goals and motivations of ISIS.

Wood also had the opportunity to meet with some of the intellectuals behind the Islamic State.

The Islamic State’s ideology exerts powerful sway over a certain subset of the population. Life’s hypocrisies and inconsistencies vanish in its face. Musa Cerantonio and the Salafis I met in London are unstumpable: no question I posed left them stuttering. They lectured me garrulously and, if one accepts their premises, convincingly. To call them un-Islamic appears, to me, to invite them into an argument that they would win. If they had been froth-spewing maniacs, I might be able to predict that their movement would burn out as the psychopaths detonated themselves or became drone-splats, one by one. But these men spoke with an academic precision that put me in mind of a good graduate seminar. I even enjoyed their company, and that frightened me as much as anything else.

If you have a few minutes, I recommend the entire article.

Changes in Economic Environment

In my Marketing Principles class, I teach my students that the economic environment is one of the uncontrollable variables that businesses must monitor and – to the extent they can – manage their reactions to changes in it.  As an example, Friday’s Wall Street Journal had an article on how international airlines were now restricting ticket sales in Venezuela.

The airlines are doing this for several reasons.  First of all, the value of the Venezuelan bolivar is dropping (yet again).  Second, Venezuela has laws restricting how these airlines can move their profits out of the country.  Currently about $3.34 billion (US dollar equivalent) of the airlines profits is sitting in Venezuela – according to the WSJ, they could lose up to 45% of this just in currency devaluation.  Third, there is a large black market for currency exchanges where people pay much more than the government rate in bolivars for obtaining harder currencies such as the dollar.  So visitors to Venezuela were taking advantage of this, converting their home currency to bolivars, then stocking up on airline tickets.

And these are problems associated with doing business in just one country.  Imagine the complexities of doing business with most of the countries in the world.