This week on JobMakers, Host Denzil Mohammed talks with Jim Stergios, executive director of Pioneer Institute, about why Pioneer collaborated with The Immigrant Learning Center to produce this podcast. They discuss the overrepresentation of immigrants in terms of job creation in America, contrary to the myth that immigrants “take” jobs. For Jim, it is a story that needs to be told because it is at the core of American enterprise, innovation and prosperity; but it is also personal. He describes his own family’s history of starting a business as young immigrants to the U.S. from Greece, and connects it to the common story of America, a nation of immigrant families old and new. And Jim believes the entrepreneurial spirit of yesteryear is the same among today’s immigrants, as you’ll learn in this week’s JobMakers.


Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with NFIB’s Chris Carlozzi and Retailers Association of Massachusetts’ Jon Hurst about the challenges and future prospects for businesses as they adapt to widespread consumer confusion caused by vague and often conflicting public health messaging from our political leadership.


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Went to an In-N-Out Burger drive-thru last night (my turn to prepare dinner). I paid the charge of $15.28 with a $20 bill. The exceedingly helpful young woman asked if I had the 28 cents, since she had no change. I gave her a quarter and a dime, and she said, “I don’t have any […]

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Social Security … Help!


I am coming up on my 66th birthday in January, and because of the clear economic disasters on the horizon, I’m ready to hit it running so I get back at least some of my Social Security “investment.”

When my wife took Social Security several years ago, she found the process too crazy for her brain, and after making her choices, including what Letter Medicare option to choose, she complained after the fact about how she was stuck with things that were not the best for her.

Immigrants innovate. Kendall Square in Cambridge or Silicon Valley wouldn’t be what they are today without the innovation and ingenuity of immigrants. But the dense and convoluted immigration system doesn’t always allow for that retention of skill and talent. This week on JobMakers, Host Denzil Mohammed talks with Jeff Goldman, immigration attorney and Chair of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s Advisory Council on Immigrants and Refugees, about how best to ensure that highly skilled and innovative immigrants can remain in the U.S., start companies, and create jobs for Americans. Jeff co-founded the Massachusetts Global Entrepreneur in Residence program for immigrant university students to continue learning, teaching, and innovating. Jeff sees how much skilled immigrants add to our economic vibrancy and innovative edge, and he’s also keenly aware of the tremendous impact on our daily lives of undocumented immigrant workers and what Massachusetts has done to enable them to thrive.


Customer Surveys are Useless


I know we have the destruction of the Republic and basic liberty to fight against, but I want to divert briefly from such weighty topics with a rant about the uselessness of most customer surveys. I think we have discussed this topic before here on Ricochet. A note provided by a hotel on a recent trip reminded me of the uselessness of so many customer surveys. Maybe some Ricochetti are plugged into organizations in such a way that they can encourage those organizations to rethink how they score customer surveys.

What set me off was we recently drove across the western United States and stayed at several properties associated with one particular lower mid-priced hotel brand (the kind that provides a basic room and serves a basic buffet breakfast, not fancy). One such property supplied guests with a note that said,

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome Sen. Joe Manchin’s warning that another massive spending bill would saddle our nation with a lot more inflation and debt. They also wince as the August jobs numbers come in far below expectations. Is it really all due to the Delta variant or is there more to it? And they refuse to throw any shrimps on the barbie for the Australian government as the country goes crazy with COVID lockdowns and crushing freedom.

Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with Pioneer Institute Visiting Fellow in Life Sciences Dr. William Smith about how the price control features of the emerging $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill might affect the pharmaceutical Industry, both nationwide and here in Massachusetts, and what effect that change will have on drug consumers.


Misinformation and disinformation about immigration in the U.S. is ubiquitous. For Prof. James Witte, director of the Institute for Immigration Research, getting the facts about U.S. immigration out to the public is a challenge. The Institute for Immigration Research is a joint venture between George Mason University and The Immigrant Learning Center of Malden, Massachusetts, the co-producer of this podcast. One of the goals of the Institute’s work is to position the immigration data, research and stories within a framework of inclusiveness, so Americans will understand that they are not disconnected from immigration. Rather, we all, U.S.-born and foreign-born, help fuel this country’s economy, enrich its culture, and make it the powerhouse that it is.  Prof. Witte also helps explain the resistance to immigrants and facts about them, and how we can counter that, in this week’s JobMakers. 

James Witte is a Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and Director of the Institute for Immigration Research (IIR). Witte, who earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1991, has been a professor at Clemson University and Northwestern University. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Carolina Population Center and a lecturer in sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Dr. Witte has written numerous articles that have appeared in journals such as The European Sociological ReviewPopulation and Development Review and Sociological Methods and Research.  He has also published three books, Labor Force Integration and Marital Choice, the Internet and Social Inequality and The Normal Bar.  The Normal Bar, co-authored with Chrisanna Northrup and Pepper Schwartz, was released in 2013 and made the New York Times bestseller list. Dr. Witte came to Mason in the fall of 2009 to take over leadership of CSSR.  Since then CSSR has grown in the amount and range of funded research it conducts. Major projects have included the privately funded Institute for Immigration Research, the National Science Foundation funded Digital Archive Project, and the University Partnership with the University of Karachi funded by the U.S. State Department.

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome the news that President Biden’s anti-gun nominee to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is unlikely yo get confirmed by the U.S. Senate. They also groan as Biden cracks down on emission standards as part of a massive push toward making us buy electric vehicles. And they push back as Rep. Rashida Tlaib wants taxpayers to pay $40 billion to cover the utility bills of low-income Americans because of the pandemic.

This week on JobMakers, Host Denzil Mohammed talks with Sonny Vu, serial entrepreneur and investor, about his work across continents to develop new technologies, processes and products that have, what he calls, “positive, planet-level impact.” This is impact that makes lives and environments safer and better, which Sonny views as the core of his faith. Embracing diversity, change and the unknowns of new knowledge was what Sonny’s parents instilled in him from the beginning. Their journey as refugees to the U.S., leaving under cover of darkness, sailing below deck to a camp in Malaysia, finally to be resettled in Oklahoma City, meant they were survivors, and they embraced the transformational change of life in the U.S., as hard as it was at first. People who have been through unimaginable tragedy and hardship often know how to be creative and inventive to survive, even among totally foreign lands, cultures, and languages. Transformational change is what Sonny is all about today, as you’ll discover in this week’s JobMakers.


This week on JobMakers, Host Denzil Mohammed talks with Shane Smyth, owner of Hugh O’Neill’s Irish Pub in Malden, and co-owner of five more restaurants in Newton and Boston, one of which he launched during the pandemic.  Shane shares why he views immigrant workers as the backbone of the restaurant industry (immigrants account for over 40 percent of our agricultural workforce and one-fifth of our food prep and serving workforce), and the tremendous skills and drive they bring. Shane offers strategies for restaurants to survive crises, something that cannot happen without immigrants, as you’ll find out in this week’s JobMakers.

This week on JobMakers, Host Denzil Mohammed talks with Anita Worden, renewable energy business entrepreneur, about her work to improve representation of women in crucial economic sectors like technology, a place where they can innovate and have real impact.  Anita was born in England of Indian parents, grew up in Algeria, moved to the U.S. as a teenager, and attended MIT. While still a student, she co-founded her first company, Solectria Corporation, in 1989, and then went on to found Solectria Renewables in 2005, both of which were acquired.  Now retired, Anita is working to promote tech as a viable, lucrative and satisfying career choice for women and girls, just as she’s educating Americans about her passions, climate change and shifting the narrative around immigrants in the U.S.


Communist China is a Dictatorship, Don’t Be Surprised When They Act Like It


What’s wrong with this picture?  Since 1949, China has been ruled by the Communist Party.  The most prominent feature of Communism is “State control over the means of production.”  That means that the Government (the State) owns, or controls, the economy.  In the 1960s, after the death of Mao Zedong, his successor Deng Xiaoping relaxed some of that State control, and unleashed what some have called the “Chinese miracle.”  Funny, but when people have some control over their economic decisions, economies tend to grow, and if the contrast between previous state control and lessening of that control is wide enough, economies and wealth can grow very quickly.  That is exactly what happened.  Side-effects, of course, have been horrible pollution of the environment, over-building of housing in some big cities, and wildly-gyrating prices for real estate and other goods.

With the rise of the Internet, the online economy also grew exponentially.  The Communist Chinese government recognized very early that they would have to heavily regulate the Internet, so Chinese citizens wouldn’t ask why others had the freedom they lacked (see: Tienanmen Square).  Hence, they built the “Great Firewall of China,” so their people have been denied Google, Facebook, and other Western social media.  However, their own huge economy spawned dozens of their own Internet Giants, such as Baidu, Tencent, Alibaba, and Beijing ByteDance.  Those companies, and their charismatic leaders, grew extremely quickly and took over large swathes of the Chinese economy.  They made themselves ubiquitous in society, commanding high percentages of users’ daily lives with their easy e-commerce, social media, and electronic payments for everything.

Jim & Greg cheer on the Cubans taking to the streets to demand their freedom, despite the very real threat of punishment from the government. They also shake their heads at a new Wall Street Journal report showing the massive amount of debt Master’s degree students are piling up and then not getting the lucrative jobs they dreamed about. And they get a kick out of Vice President Kamala Harris being reluctant to support voter ID requirements because she believes Americans in rural areas don’t have access to photocopiers.!

This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Ely Kaplansky, President & CEO of Kaplansky Insurance. Ely’s unconventional path included dropping out of high school and essentially taking the place of the insurance business where he got his start, when it was found that they were committing unethical practices. And since 1974, Ely has created hundreds of jobs in Massachusetts and beyond, with 85 employees in 15 offices across the state today, and he has grown his business especially during the pandemic, with 37 acquisitions to date, such that Kaplansky Insurance was named to INC’s 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America list.  Ely’s success is more than just the pride of having made it. His success fulfilled the dreams of his parents when they moved from Israel to America in 1955, with just the clothes on their backs and an aunt to take them in. Their journey began in the concentration camps of Germany, and Ely’s story is all about the opportunity and freedom America offers, as you’ll discover in this week’s JobMakers.


This week on JobMakers, Host Denzil Mohammed talks with Russian-born entrepreneur Semyon Dukach about the high value of immigrants to the U.S. Dukach started a seed stage fund for immigrant tech founders, One Way Ventures, in response to the early restrictive moves of the Trump administration, particularly the Muslim ban. In his 20 years of angel investing, he noticed a trend: immigrant-led companies repeatedly outperformed the rest of his portfolio. Indeed, immigrants make up less than 14 percent of the U.S. population but launched 24 percent of high-tech startups and founded or co-founded 55 percent of America’s billion-dollar startups. In this episode, Dukach shares his thoughts on how to reform America’s immigration policies.


Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with MassLandlords’ Doug Quattrochi about ways landlords faced the challenges of being caught between tenants unable to pay rent during COVID-19 shutdown and having little or no programmatic relief from state and federal agencies.


Climate Disclosures and Their Stealth Mission


A huge fraction of the Biden administration’s regulatory policy is driven by its persistent fear of climate change. Chief among its initiatives are ambitious programs to reduce the United States’ dependence on fossil fuels by pushing for an increase in wind and solar energy reliance.

There are two paths for achieving that goal: direct regulation and disclosure. The former includes the decision made shortly after President Biden’s inauguration to pull the federal permits for the Keystone XL pipeline, which led TC Energy, its Canadian developer, to kill the project some months later. Soon thereafter, the Biden team made its dubious decision to “pause” oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters, only to be blocked judicially for encroaching on Congress’s power to set national policy. Ironically, there was no explanation given of how these actions would help the environment. In my view, Keystone’s removal probably increased climate-change risk by preventing the efficient shipment of fossil fuels, which are still used by over 80 percent of the energy market, notwithstanding the heavily subsidized production of wind and solar energy. Piously claiming to follow “best science” hardly serves as an adequate justification.