Upstream vs. Downstream – Example Illegals

Upstream vs. Downstream

When we attempt to mitigate “problems” it seems that proposed solutions too often focus on the outcome of the issue in question and not on the cause. In other terms, we focus our efforts downstream rather than upstream.

An example:

Consider the problem of illegal immigration. Regardless of political affiliation the vast majority of our citizens do not support illegals. Most of the proposed solutions focus from the midpoint and downstream. To focus on the causes of the problem it requires us to examine the why people from other country want to enter our country and further why they avoid the process of legal entry? The main draw for illegals is work and pay levels for work vs. their local options. One reason is that gets thrown around is that illegals come to take advantage of benefits through our Medicaid system. While there are very specific conditions where illegals are able to access Medicaid, they are infrequent and amount to less than 1% of the Medicaid budget.

Working a bit upstream, why are there so many jobs available for illegals? Good question. One significant (and legal) method of entry is through the seasonal visa process. Once an alien secures a visa (whether a work or travel visa) it is fairly easy to “get lost” in America. While Big Agriculture is a significant employer of work visa aliens, the construction industry is a significant employer of “lost” workers. Regrettably the primary reasons for this support of illegals is their willingness to perform hard manual labor for relatively low wages, but with a superior work ethic. If there was not income available in the form of jobs most temporary visa holders would not stay on as illegals.

How much will it cost to build a wall and how effective will it be in stopping the demand for low paid workers? How much are we spending to enforce the laws in place to prevent employers from hiring & paying illegals? You do the math.

stay tuned for another example next week



Roundabouts & traffic circles are huge pet peeves with me. In my view a roundabout is typically a one lane intersection transition and a traffic circle will accommodate two lanes or more. I spent nine years living in New Zealand and was amazed at the lack of traffic signals at intersections. I spent 4 years in a city of 60,000 population that only had two traffic signals within the city limits.

What is a roundabout, really? It is the same as an intersection with a yield sign at each corner. How big does the “round” part need to be? In some cases is can be as small as a 6 – 8’ circle. Does the circle need to be raised? Ideally yes, for safety, but in small intersections a painted circle can suffice.

What seems to be the main disadvantage of roundabouts and traffic circles? The primary disadvantage is fear of change.

What are the advantages of roundabouts?

  1. They are significantly more cost effective – Current traffic signals for intersections will cost over $100,000 plus.
  2. They keep traffic flowing, almost no stop and go.
  3. They are statistically safer
  4. They are more fuel efficient

How to get past the fear factor: Initially post yield signs at each corner. The rule is simply to look to the left. If someone is already in the intersection, then they have the right of way.

Go forth and Populate the Earth

Go forth and Populate the Earth
Our instructions from the King James version of the bible are clear:
“And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein”
The King James version of events was translated in 1611 by the church of England. Unfortunately, the instructions are remiss in citing a time frame. I suppose we have assumed that, absent further clarification, those instructions were intended to be for all time.

I do wonder about the phrase “bring forth abundantly in the earth”? One might infer that this would assume that we could stop once “abundance” is reached. Common sense dictates that our resources (even renewable resources) are limited.
Considering available resources one source,, calculates the optimum world population at 1.5 – 2.0 billion! Even the most optimistic estimates are in the 3.5 – 4.0 billion or about ½ of our current total. We achieved the most conservative estimate in 1900, just over 117 years ago. Since that time, we have added 6 Billion more souls! According to the population clock ( the 2050 census will top 10 Billion or three times what the planet is able to sustain. Like our national debt, it seems we are willing to mortgage the future of resource availability for our progeny. Are we really that selfish?
Over population is arguably the single largest problem facing all countries and yet when was the last time any of our elected representatives addressed this issue? It seems we are too busy arguing polarizing issues instead of focusing on the most important issues. Shame on us.