Archive for May, 2007

Immigration Boards

May 22, 2007

Hugh Hewitt, among others, has noted the great backlog of illegal aliens to be processed under the proposed McCain-Kennedy legislation. In his latest post, Mr. Hewitt lays out recommended amendments to the bill, ending with a solution for the workload:

If we put the right people in charge of the regularization process and empower them to make decisions on the spot, during the top level analysis of the vast majority of Z visa applications, a sizable portion of the initial workload would vanish.

Mr. Hewitt recommends drafting “the thousands of retired field officers [FSOs?] in this country” to process visa applications. I’ll go one further: how about citizen Immigration Boards, similar to draft boards?

  • Boards of 4-6 members, responsible for a county or part of a county.
  • Appointed by county sheriffs, say, and confirmed by states’ attorneys general.
  • Members must be U.S. citizens in good standing and must take an oath to judge each case impartially and equitably.
  • At least one member of each board must be fluent in a common language of immigrants – say, Spanish.

These Immigration Boards would give applicants one of three grades: Pass, Further Review, and Could Not Examine (the latter including immigrants who speak unusual languages).   Each board would have authority to determine an applicant’s fitness for a visa according to broad guidelines provided by DHS or another agency.  Further Review and Could Not Examine candidates would pass to State, DHS, or another agency.

Normalizing the status of the illegal aliens now in the country will require speedy action, tact, and common sense.  The men and women who lead each community’s businesses, churches, and schools are well equipped for the task.

Entrepreneurship and Age

May 20, 2007

Over at A VC, Fred Wilson is continuing a series about the relationship between entrepreneurship and age. A few weeks ago, he made the passing comment that most of the entreprenuers in his portfolio are under 40, and perhaps there’s something to that. Valleywag chimed in with more anecdotal evidence, and Fred clarified:

So I don’t know if youth is an advantage in the tech/startup world, but it certainly isn’t a disadvantage. And I see our job as being able to work with young entrepreneurs in a way that allows them to be their best while helping them where they need it. … So let’s celebrate youthful enthusiasm and the blind ambition that powers many of these companies. Figure out how to harness it and work with it. The results speak for themselves.

Today, Clay Shirky at Many 2 Many begs to differ.

Fred was right before, and he’s wrong now. Young entrepreneurs have an advantage over older ones (and by older I mean over 30), and contra Fred’s second post, age isn’t in fact a mindset. Young people have an advantage that older people don’t have and can’t fake, and it isn’t about vigor or hunger — it’s a mental advantage. The principal asset a young tech entrepreneur has is that they don’t know a lot of things.

In Mr. Shirky’s account, young entrepreneurs have an edge becuase they don’t know that what they’re attempting is impossible, or at least not conventional wisdom.

I don’t agree, for reasons I’ll get to in a later post. First, what can research tell us? Economists have studied entrepreneurship intently, and someone must have investigated the effects of age.

In a quick scan on Google Scholar, I turned up a half-dozen early results dealing with entrepreneurial selection and age, either as a predictor or control variable.

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A Book I Would Like to Read

May 19, 2007

A thought crystalized while following Gen. David Patraeus’s Senate confirmation and subsequent progress: here the man meets the plan – yet his success depends crucially on his ability, on one hand, to convince any number of more or less hostile onlookers that he will succeed, and on the other hand, to negotiate the political and economic conditions for success from Congress and the Pentagon. In fact, generalship is politics.

I would like to read a history of the political-military interface, with equal attention to political molding of military action and military influence of politics and political outcomes. How do politicians and civilian policymakers impose change on military institutions? How do they set priorities and coordinate efforts in war? How do military leaders shape wartime policies – e.g. with regard to escalation? How do they shape the society in which the military is embedded – including its political and legal institutions? To what degree can “the military” be distinguished from society?

I wouldn’t confine this study to any one time or place, but American history abounds with political-military tension and perhaps deserves its own volume. A partial list of cases off the top of my head:

  • George Washington and the Continental Congress
  • Continental Army militia leaders in early U.S. politics and business – this could be a socioeconomic study in its own right
  • The Federalists (Hamilton), the anti-Federalists (Jefferson), the construction of the U.S. Navy, and the intervention in Tripoli
  • The presidential candidacies of Jackson, McClellan, Grant, and Eisenhower
  • Lincoln and his generals
  • Lee and the Confederate government
  • Teddy Roosevelt and the Great White Fleet
  • The influence of military thinkers and planners on early Cold War policy
  • Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Truman and MacArthur in Korea
  • Milton Friedman and the draft
  • Donald Rumsfeld, the revolution in military affairs, and the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq

So on and so forth. Perhaps Robert Kagan could take up this topic once he completes the sequal to Dangerous Nation?

PREVIOUSLY on Zeal and Activity: Review: Dangerous Nation

Troop Levels and Mothers’ Day

May 14, 2007

Jef Mallett, the literary, intelligent cartoonist of Frazz, today has a very nice, subtle comment on the present [over]commitment of the U.S. military.  The link should be good for 30 days (until ~June 13).

Happy Mothers’ Day.

Up for Air

May 9, 2007

Obviously I’ve been out of the loop for a while.  I’m on extended hiatus dealing with some professional transition issues.  I’ve got a handful of post ideas backlogged, hopefully over the next few weeks I can start moving some of them through.

In the meantime, I stopped by to blow up some spam and make one comment on the whole James Lileks thing: Finally, Mr. Lileks can offer his services at a market rate.

Cheers – see you soon.