Immigration to the Rescue in a Maine Town Crisis

Here is a most interesting report from South Portland, Maine, of how immigrants with special skills are put to work filling critical voids in the area’s medical system, illustrating just another positive and essential direction for immigration in this country. 

Instructors at the Emergency Training Center at Southern Maine Community College demonstrating spinal immobilization techniques to a class of recent immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers training to be medical technicians.  Tristan Spinski for The New York Times

By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE, March 27, 2017, for The New York Times

[The credentials of] . . . Jolly Ntirumenyerwa, a physician in her home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she worked in emergency medicine,  did not transfer when she moved to the United States in 2012, and she could  not work as a doctor. So, she took jobs as a health aide in an assisted living facility.

Tristan Spinski for The New York Times

Now, thanks to an unusual program that is training immigrants to become emergency medical technicians, she is preparing to make better use of her medical background and, she hopes, work her way up to becoming a physician assistant if not, someday, a doctor.

“I put in a lot of years training to be a physician, and I don’t want to throw them away,” [she said.]

. . . [T]he program . . . is also helping to address some serious problems in Maine.

One is a shortage of E.M.T.s. Another is a shortage of a work force in general, particularly of young people who can help sustain the state economically as its population ages. Maine is the nation’s oldest state, with the highest median age and the highest concentration of baby boomers, and its birthrate is dropping; in 2016, just two of its 16 counties had more births than deaths.

Economists regard Maine’s rapidly aging population as a demographic tsunami that has severe implications for the state’s labor pool, health care system and overall socioeconomic well-being. But the state can grow, they say, with more international immigration.

Thanks mainly to a small influx of immigrants, the state’s population inched up last year by about 2,000 people over 2015 . . . . But the state recorded 1,300 more deaths than births, a downward trend in which Maine and West Virginia lead the nation. Like other graying states in New England, Maine is struggling to keep its young people living and working here.

This is where the E.M.T. program comes in.

. . . David Zahn, chairman of the global languages department at the community college, . . . said he basically put two and two together. Surveys showed that employers, especially municipal and private ambulance services, needed more E.M.T.s; other surveys showed that many immigrants in the Portland area are underemployed and have medical backgrounds.

David Ngandu was a doctor in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Often, he said, medical workers went without the proper equipment or supplies. Tristan Spinski for The New York Times

When the E.M.T. course for immigrants was announced, three times as many people applied as could be accommodated.

The program . . . illustrates what opportunities exist “when we recognize immigrants as part of our solution.”

Many of those opportunities are in health care. As residents live longer, the need for health care workers — and E.M.T.s — is only increasing.

. . . Mr. Russell said he was grateful to have an expanded pool of applicants, especially people who are multilingual (Ms. Ntirumenyerwa, for example, speaks French, Lingala and Swahili, in addition to English) and who can bridge cultural divides. “It’s a huge added benefit,” he said, when employees reflect the customers they are serving.

[T]he immigrants . . . must pass the same tests and meet the same requirements for licensing as American-born participants. But because of their medical backgrounds, he said, the immigrants “are informed, and you can get a lot deeper.”

. . . “Because of their extensive medical backgrounds, we’ll have people on ambulances who have a higher level of skill” than some other newly minted E.M.T.s, Mr. Zahn said.

And, he added, the program might help restore an underemployed immigrant’s sense of dignity.

“They are doctors,” he said. “And they’re cleaning toilets? We’re taking advantage of their skills and getting them back into their own arena.”

What Are the Real Issues in Immigration Today?

An expert in immigration sets forth a sensible set of criteria for determining immigration policy in America, from an editorial in The Wall Street Journal. The original article has been abridged for convenience.

 

By MARK KIRKORIAN, March 24, 2017,  for The Wall Street Journal

. . . Almost all of the arguments for limiting immigration share a common theme: protection. Even those advocating much more liberal immigration policies acknowledge the need to protect Americans from terrorists, foreign criminals and people who pose a threat to public health. Supporters of stricter limits, such as me, seek wider protections: protection for less-skilled workers, protection for the social safety net, and protection for the civic and cultural foundations of American society.

In prior centuries, the vast distances that people had to cross to get to the U. S.—to say nothing of the difficulty of communication and of gathering information about prospects here—proved quite effective at limiting. But now that we can talk to anyone in the world at any time and reach anywhere on the planet in a matter of hours, the oceans no longer pose such a formidable barrier.

Census data show that more than 43 million foreign-born people are now living in the U. S., close to half of them naturalized citizens. Each year, about 1.5 million new immigrants arrive, most of them legally. But the actual demand for immigration to the U. S. is far higher than these levels.

 

Even with our current rules, which give out about a million green cards each year (plus hundreds of thousands of work visas), more than four million people are on immigration waiting lists, according to the State Department. And the universe of potential immigrants to the U. S. is much larger still. A 2009 Gallup poll found that 700 million people would permanently leave their countries if they could, with the U. S. as the top choice for some 165 million of them.

Many of these people wouldn’t actually follow through, of course, but there is every reason to think that the flow of immigrants to the U. S. would expand enormously if current limits, which are already badly enforced, were to be relaxed or abolished. Under much more liberal rules, immigration to the U. S. could easily reach 10 million people a year.

And what would be wrong with that? What interests of American citizens would warrant protection from much higher levels of immigration?

The most obvious is jobs and workers. Importing large numbers of people from abroad would depress the wages of workers already here. In some cases, Americans would lose their jobs or not get jobs they otherwise would have. Over time, the economy would adjust, absorbing the new workers, but not without significant cost to American workers.

An authoritative study of the economic effects of immigration, published last year by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, or NAS, provides important context for thinking about the issue. The NAS study found that immigration boosts economic growth in the long term and modestly improves the country’s demographic profile as the native population ages. Immigration also creates a small net economic benefit—an “immigration surplus”—of roughly $50 billion a year, raising the income of the average native-born American by 0.3%.

That net benefit is derived from lowering the wages of Americans who compete with immigrants by about $500 billion. Businesses, in turn, benefit to the tune of about $550 billion, resulting in the $50 billion immigration surplus. In effect, immigration functions as a program of redistribution, shifting wealth from labor to capital.

As the study shows, the native-born workers facing competition from immigrants are mainly those least sought-after by employers: the less-educated, teenagers, recovering addicts, ex-cons, the disabled, single mothers needing flexible hours. The claim that native-born workers don’t compete with immigrants because the two groups are in different occupations—“jobs Americans won’t do” is the shorthand term—is generally false.

Of the hundreds of categories into which the Census Bureau classifies American jobs, only a half-dozen smaller ones in the data for 2009-11 were majority immigrant, and even in those, nearly half the workers were native-born. Most immigrants were found to be working in sectors where most of their co-workers are native-born. This includes maids, taxi drivers, landscapers, construction laborers and janitors. Janitor cannot logically be a “job Americans won’t do” if nearly three-quarters of janitors in the U.S. are native-born Americans.

Immigration limits are also designed to protect the social safety net. The late free-market economist Milton Friedman argued that you can’t have both relatively open immigration and a generous welfare state. This is because large-scale immigration, whether under current arrangements or more permissive rules, attracts large numbers of less-skilled workers, who will only be able to earn low wages. These low wages mean, in turn, that they would pay little in taxes but are eligible for many means-tested government benefits.

Friedman’s preference was to abolish the welfare state rather than to limit immigration, but in the real world, no such thing is possible. Some form of extensive social provision for the poor is an inherent part of modern society. Tightening is possible, but simply eliminating it is not.

The progression from little education to low wages to high welfare use is not a moral critique of immigrants. Our welfare system is designed to subsidize the working poor with children, and immigrants are the working poor with children. My center’s analysis of data from a 2012 Census Bureau survey focusing on “program participation” (that is, welfare use) showed that 51% of households headed by immigrants use at least one means-tested welfare program. The most widely used are Medicaid and the nutrition programs (food stamps, the WIC nutritional program, school lunches), which immigrants use at nearly double the rate of the native-born.

This safety net would buckle under the weight of much higher levels of immigration. Even our current flow of 1.5 million immigrants a year creates a significant fiscal deficit. The aforementioned NAS study examined these costs—the balance between services used and taxes paid by immigrants and their dependent children—and found immigrants to be a net fiscal drain, with the loss as large as $299 billion a year.

There is no avoiding the reality that admitting large numbers of poor people into the U. S. inevitably creates costs for taxpayers. As with the effect of immigration on the labor market, no specific policy follows from these facts, but they clearly show the impact of decisions about immigration limits.

Finally, limits on immigration also protect the stability of our social arrangements. To be successful and harmonious, any society needs to cultivate a sense of fellow-feeling and solidarity among its members. Most of our fellow citizens are strangers to us, and yet we tax ourselves for their benefit, yield to their political choices at election time and perhaps serve in uniform to protect them. We do this precisely because they are our fellow citizens and have a claim on our loyalty and affections that citizens of other countries do not.

In more homogenous societies, like Japan or Denmark or Swaziland, this fellow-feeling may arise organically from kinship ties and a shared cultural heritage. But in a more heterogeneous society like ours, it must be cultivated if it is to flourish, and we can’t ignore factors that undermine it.

This is not to say that immigrants don’t learn English, get jobs, join the military and drive on the right side of the road. They do all those things. But the deeper and more important process of reorienting one’s emotional and psychological attachments from the old country to the new has not fared well in recent decades in the U. S. and would be overwhelmed, I believe, by any dramatic increase in immigration.

[A] classic study published in 2001 . . . followed thousands of children of immigrants in San Diego and Miami over several years, surveying them when they began high school and then again as they were finishing. Their research covered many issues, including the students’ national self-identification.

At the beginning of high school, the majority identified as American in some form, either simply or in some hyphenated form as, say, a Filipino-American or Cuban-American. After several years of American high school, the primary institution tasked with imparting civic consciousness to young people, barely one-third still identified as American, with most adopting either a foreign national identity (Cuban or Filipino) or a pan-racial identity (Hispanic, Asian). Our educational system continues to do an abysmal job at civic education, not least because of the influence of multiculturalism as a pedagogical principle.

. . .  [T]his decline in connections among individuals and in social trust manifests itself in many areas: falling membership in unions, civic organizations and professional societies, declining church attendance, less participation in politics, even a drop in having friends over for dinner.

This social atomization wasn’t caused by immigration, but it has two important implications for it. First, the institutions that in the past helped to assimilate immigrants into American life are not what they once were. Unions, churches, urban political machines, even broad-based ethnic self-help organizations either no longer exist or are have been significantly enfeebled.

It is not that diversity causes increased hostility between groups, as one might expect. Rather, it causes people to disappear into their shells like turtles. “Inhabitants of diverse communities tend to withdraw from collective life, to distrust their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but to have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television.”

It is no coincidence that Los Angeles . . . “among the most ethnically diverse human habitations in history,” had the lowest level of social trust among all the communities that his team studied.

So if there must be limits on immigration, for these or other reasons, what should those limits be? That depends on what you think needs protecting and how much protection you think it needs.

My own primary concerns are the stagnating prospects of much of our workforce, the dysfunction of our public finances and the fragility of our civic culture. This leads me to advocate much narrower criteria than those we currently use. I would limit immigration to the husbands, wives and young children of U. S. citizens; to skilled workers who rank among the top talents in the world; and to the small number of genuine refugees whose situation is so extraordinary that they cannot be helped where they are.

Others will reach different conclusions, but they must address the same questions: What family relationships should give rise to special immigration rights? How should skills be determined? And given the misery that prevails in so much of the world, what should the limiting principle be for admitting refugees?

Mr. Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D. C.

 

 

The Robots Are Here!

We are posting this article about McDonald’s replacing their human cashiers with machines because of our broad interest in the predicted gradual takeover of jobs at all levels, manual or managerial, by robots. It is inevitable (see Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford, listed in our bibliography). For the writer of this WSJ article to blame it on the minimum wage requirement is disingenuous and should fool no one. Yes, gradually robots will replace human workers at all levels of industry and business because they will be faster, commit fewer errors, and do not require bathroom breaks, sick leave or health insurance. We are very far from having a solution as how to handle all the laid-off employees, be they burger flippers or stock exchange traders, that will result but it is very likely to involve some form of wealth redistribution, much to the dismay of free market advocates.
 

McDonald’s is rolling out a new mobile ordering system today in dozens of restaurants around Spokane, Washington. This follows a similar launch last week in Monterey and Salinas, Calif., according to Reuters. If these experiments succeed, customers could be using the new McDonald’s mobile app this fall at nearly all of the company’s roughly 14,000 U.S. locations. Two billion smartphones worldwide tell us that consumers enjoy using mobile apps, but consumer preference isn’t the only reason McDonald’s is deploying technology to do what people used to do.

In the name of helping workers, union-backed activists groups and our various levels of government have given fast-food joints every reason to replace humans with machines. Back in October of 2014, besieged by demonstrators demanding that McDonald’s pay $15 per hour to unskilled workers and rising minimum wages in various jurisdictions, the company told investors about plans to bring more automation to its restaurants. A Journal editorial at the time wondered how “so many of our media brethren have been persuaded that suddenly it’s the job of America’s burger joints to provide everyone with good pay and benefits.” We predicted “the result of their agitation will be more jobs for machines and fewer for the least skilled workers.”

At a prototype restaurant in Chicago, McDonald’s has lately been refining self-service kiosks so that customers without a smartphone also can order without talking to anybody. It’s happening across the quick-service restaurant industry and fast-food cashiers aren’t the only ones who may need to find another way to make a living. Recently the Journal reported on the vibrant competition to develop self-driving delivery trucks, due in part to the fact that “regulations governing working hours are squeezing profits.”

Economic Growth Lags Far Behind Our Current Stockmarket Boom

Pedestrians pass in front of stores in the Soho neighborhood of New York on Monday. Sales at the nation’s retailers—a key measure of consumer spending—rose just 0.1% in February. PHOTO: VICTOR J. BLUE/BLOOMBERG NEWS

As we suspected, based on what we had read in Piketty about economic growth in advanced Western countries for the future, the GDP, in spite of the present booming stockmarket, fails to grow above 2% or less, as this article culled from the Wall Street Journal  clearly indicates.

By JOSH MITCHELL, March 15, 2017, for the Wall Street Journal

The latest evidence came Wednesday when the government reported that sales at the nation’s retailers—a key measure of consumer spending—rose just 0.1% in February from a month earlier.

Americans cut spending on clothing, sporting goods, electronics and restaurant outings, leading to the smallest gain in retail sales since last summer.

Earlier reports showed a surging trade deficit in January and a recent drop in home sales, as measured by contract signings.

Taken together, the economy appears to be stumbling once again in the first months of the year, despite unusually warm weather that might otherwise boost spending and the absence of major crises overseas, as happened in the past.

Forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers on Wednesday downgraded its projection of economic growth in the current quarter to an annual rate of 1.3%, from 1.4%. Barclays projected 1.4% growth, compared with 1.6% earlier.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s GDPNow model lowered its estimate to 0.9% from 1.2%. Growth has averaged about 2% in the current expansion.

Will the Senate Support Wall Street over the Interests of Low-Income Workers?

We came across this article in this morning’s Los Angeles Times. Another clear example of the heartlessness of Wall Street toward working-class men and women. Weren’t these the “forgotten Americans” the President promised to rescue in the last election ?

old-men-sitting-on-a-bench

By The Times Editorial Board, Thursday, March 9, 2017 for the Los Angeles Times

The U.S. Senate is poised to kill efforts by California and a number of other states to keep more seniors out of poverty — because Wall Street mutual funds want it to. . . .

At issue are two rules issued by the Department of Labor last year that create a clear legal pathway for state and local governments to offer a new type of retirement savings plan. Epitomized by California’s “Secure Choice,” the plans require employers that do not offer a pension, 401(k) or other retirement benefit to enroll their workers automatically in an Individual Retirement Account unless the workers opt out. For those who chose to stay in the plan, a small percentage of their pretax wages would be deposited into an account that would grow tax free (until withdrawn) and follow them whenever they changed jobs. Secure Choice is a great idea, refined through years of work by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and various stakeholders.

Nevertheless, GOP opponents of the rules have pushed resolutions through the House to rescind the rules, and the Senate is expected to vote on the resolutions as soon as Wednesday. . . .

Wall Street mutual fund companies do not like the idea of the government offering a retirement product to consumers they’re making no real effort to serve. But that’s whose retirement security is at stake — 55 million Americans, including an estimated 7.5 million in California, whose employers don’t offer retirement plans. The state estimates that two-thirds of these people work for small businesses that either aren’t capable or not interested in taking the trouble to establish pension or 401(k) plans.

And these folks typically have little or nothing saved for retirement. The Economic Policy Institute estimated last year that half of American families with workers in their prime had $17,000 or less in savings. And too many U.S. seniors — at least 10 % — already are living in poverty. That’s why programs like Secure Choice, which automatically funnel money from workers’ paychecks into IRAs, are so important. According to Utah State Treasurer David D. Damschen, workers not covered by an employer plan are 15 times more likely to save for retirement if they can do so through an automatic payroll deduction than if they have to establish and contribute to an IRA on their own.

But opponents of the rules don’t really object to the department’s reasoning; instead, they’re wrapped up in an ideological straightjacket that rejects any government action to help people whom private companies could serve, even if they have clearly failed to do so. . . .

Damschen, a Republican, sent an impassioned plea last week to his state’s senior senator and fellow Republican, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, in favor of the rule regarding state savings programs, noting that it was promulgated at the states’ request. . . .

His argument appears to have fallen on deaf ears, unfortunately; Hatch has introduced resolutions identical to the ones passed by the House. But the rest of the Senate should listen, and put Wall Street’s interests behind those of less fortunate working men and women.

Rich Man, Poor Man, Take Heed

Two cautionary tales appeared side-by-side in today’s Wall Street Journal, one for the rich one percent, the other for the poor working stiff. First the news for the boss:

The Era of Overconfident CEOs Is Ending

                                                                           

“Strong-headed managers who rarely admit mistakes are struggling in an era of flat organizations, greater transparency” says the headline. This is surely good news. The stereotype of our financial leaders in this and the last century as Gordon Gecko or the Wolf of Wall Street (see photos above and below) and the hedge fund manager who told us he recruited his traders from the football backfield have seemed to us to reveal the problem with American business, not its proud solution. Let us hope that this article heralds a turning away for America from the  previous winner-take-all era.

wolf-of-wall-street-trailer-06172013-014649.jpgWas all this legal? Absolutely not.”

By JOANN S. LUBLIN, March 7, 2017 for the Wall Street Journal

. . . Executives cannot succeed without self-confidence, but too much can be a career killer. Strong-headed senior managers who exaggerate their abilities and struggle to admit mistakes may find themselves on the outs in an era of flat organizations and greater transparency, recruiters and leadership experts say.

“Companies have become so complex that they increasingly prefer executives who are open, inclusive and collaborative rather than overconfident,” said Stuart S. Crandell, senior vice president of Korn Ferry Institute, the research arm of recruiters Korn/Ferry International .

Before recent corporate scandals, “overconfidence would not typically derail a CEO,” he said.

Companies that failed during those scandals, such as Enron and Lehman Brothers, were led by overconfident executives, says Don A. Moore, a professor at University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Mr. Moore has published 26 research papers on overconfidence.

Often hailed as charismatic innovators at first, overly confident bosses tend to pursue destructive acquisitions or get forced out, researchers have found. “They take too many risks,” Mr. Moore says.

Top executives are especially susceptible because they “attribute their success to their own brilliance and neglect the role of circumstance or good fortune,” he continues. . . .

The bravado that helps senior managers in early stretch assignments may not suit a higher-level role.

“Effective leaders use a quieter confidence,’’ observes Duane Petersen, a top manager at Walsh Construction Co.

* * *

Who’s to Blame for the Trucker Shortage?

So much for the 1 percent. What’s new for the working man? This warning is for the truck driver, a job skill that has traditionally served many generations of  men who didn’t go to college as a profession of which they could be proud. No longer.

   

By LAUREN WEBER, March 7, 2017 for the Wall Street Journal

. . . [U]pward of 25% of long-haul truck drivers are independent contractors, also known as owner-operators. They are attracted by promises of being their own bosses, but the arrangement often saddles them with unsustainable debt and high expenses, he adds.

Drivers typically receive training from big trucking companies or schools affiliated with them. Those who become independent contractors sign lease-to-own deals to purchase their vehicles, often with those same companies. But the terms are onerous, and drivers owe so much that they may end up working 70 or 80 hours a week just to pay back what they owe and cover expenses such as fuel and insurance. Drivers are suing some companies that use this model, saying they should be classified as employees rather than contractors.

Even those working as employees have a hard time making ends meet, partly because they are only paid for the miles they drive, not time waiting to load and unload their rigs or sitting in traffic. Mr. Viscelli recounts a 16-hour day spent crawling through traffic in the New York area, only to get stuck at a New Jersey rail yard for the night. That day he drove 215 miles and earned $56.

The result of these conditions? Drivers burn out quickly and quit.

The industry could fix its labor shortage, Mr. Viscelli says, by raising pay enough to compensate for the hardships of the job or improving the terms for independent contractors. In 2015, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers earned a median wage of $40,260, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Mr. Viscelli says that number masks the reality that most drivers work far more than 40 hours a week to get to that income. . . .

Hanging over any discussion of the truck industry’s future is the specter of automation. Driverless vehicles will lead to significant job loss, says Mr. Viscelli, “but it’s further out in the future than most people think,” partly because of the web of local, state and federal regulations that guide trucking.

Why Wall Street Matters

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In today’s Wall Street Journal is a review of a recent  book, Why Wall Street Matters.  The author, William D. Cohan, is a strong proponent of these banking institutions, as we shall see.  The reviewer writes that in Cohan’s view, the main culprit in the financial meltdown was Wall Street’s compensation culture, the multi-million dollar bonuses, what Piketty calls “the rise of the super-managers,” which Dodd-Frank and the Volker Rule do nothing to address and should therefore be abolished. In their place, Cohan has a sensible and surprising recommendation, one that many of us would love to see instituted, if only it were possible.

Below are a series of extracts from the book review that will give you a sense of the author’s argument: 

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BOOKSHELF by Burton G. Makiel, for the Wall Street Journal

. . . The collective institutions that constitute “Wall Street,” he [author William D. Cohan] notes, provide a “monumentally important, utterly irreplaceable” service. Indeed, the ability of companies “to get the capital they need from the people who have it and want to invest it is one of the more amazing contraptions that the world has ever constructed.” Companies such as Apple would not exist without Wall Street. . . .

So what went wrong? Where did useful innovation morph into lunacy that almost brought down the whole system? The sea change began in 1969, Mr. Cohan says, when the first investment bank (Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette) sold equity to the public. Previously investment banks were partnerships whose capital came from the net worth of the individual partners, who would assume only the most modest risk since investment failure might endanger their life savings. But once a firm’s capital could be increased by debt and equity financing—in essence, by other people’s money—the calculus shifted.

Ultimately all the big banks went public, and a risk-reward system that had encouraged prudence was replaced by a culture of swinging for the fences in the hopes of getting a big annual bonus. When Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers went under in 2008, they were allegedly capitalized with more than 30 parts debt to one part equity.

What is the solution? Mr. Cohan concedes that some parts of the Obama -era regulations made sense. Excessive leverage had created perverse incentives: All the gain accrued to equity holders, while the losses were taken mainly by debt holders. Requiring banks to have more equity capital, as the regulations did, helped make the system more stable. . . .

Mr. Cohan argues that much of the regulatory content of the Dodd-Frank law, enacted in 2010, should be dismantled or “junked”—including the so-called Volcker Rule, which blocks commercial banks from engaging in proprietary trading. Dodd-Frank is indeed overreaching and overcomplicated. . . .

He overstates the case, though, when he suggests that bank lending has been severely curtailed and that the “inevitable result” is to doom the economy “to a period of economic stagnation.” In fact, bank credit has grown 23% over the past three years. Nevertheless, borrowing today is needlessly difficult. There is an aversion to even prudent risk-taking, with regulators breathing down lenders’ necks.

Mr. Cohan’s solution is to replace Wall Street’s broken compensation system: the bonus culture that creates incentives to take big bets with other people’s money while avoiding accountability when the bets go bad. He says that we need to “return to a compensation system that more closely resembles that of the partnership culture” of earlier times. Going well beyond calls for a claw-back of bonuses when trouble hits, Mr. Cohan proposes that the leaders of Wall Street firms be required to put their entire net worth on the line. Their co-op apartments, houses in the Hamptons, art collections and bank accounts would all be “fodder for the bank’s creditors” if something goes wrong. . . .

What a splendid idea! How fitting and deserved. Would that it were possible.