Partners - Stock market, economic and political commentary by Patricia Chadwick

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Election Day Thoughts (This One Really is Different!)

November 6th, 2018

For the last 35 years, I have voted at the same polling place, an elementary school gymnasium about a mile from my house.

Hearkening my grandmother’s words, which she sternly delivered to me when I was eighteen years old – “If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain” – I came to enjoy engaging in that civic responsibility every two years. On many occasions, I would bring my children to the polling booth, allowing them to feel a part of the process.

Mid-term elections have almost always taken no time at all – walk into the gymnasium and right up to the table, announce my address, show my identification, receive a ballot, fill it out, slip it into the electronic box, receive a sticker that showed the world I had voted, and head out the door and back into my car. The entire round trip was generally completed in less than fifteen minutes.

Presidential elections might have increased the time commitment by another ten minutes, but seldom would the entire process take more than half an hour.

But this morning was different from any election I have ever experienced. The school parking lot was overloaded, and I had to drive around it twice before finding a spot. Entering the gymnasium, I found myself snaking around two corners and down a hallway to reach my place in line. When I eventually reached the check in desk, I noticed instructions that listed all the ways one could produce enough identification to vote – it felt like an invitation, rather than a warning.

I voted, received my sticker and wended my way out of the building and into the crowded parking lot, observing the long line of cars attempting to enter.

I am left with this thought – whatever the many outcomes of today’s election, if the turnout across the country is anything like what it is in my district, then we should feel good that the will of the people has been expressed.


© Copyright 2018 Patricia W. Chadwick

The Good News on Employment Is Also a Challenge (Immigration Could Be the Solution)

June 6th, 2018

June 6, 2018
Patricia Chadwick, pchadwick@ravengate.com
The employment report last Friday was good news indeed; an increase of 223,000 jobs in May was a clear indicator that the U. S. economy is growing at a healthy pace. The unemployment rate now stands at 3.8%, the lowest level since the turn of the 21st century. And while the number of the long-term unemployed remains too high at 476,000, it is at least moving in the right direction. The beneficiary of this good news is the American family because, as incomes rise, so too will discretionary spending, which feeds the virtuous cycle of economic growth. So far, so good.

But running in parallel with the good news on employment is the economic reality that the workforce is being drained of experience and talent as baby boomers reach the age of retirement.

For the last seven years, on average 10,000 Americans each day have become eligible for Social Security and have been required to go on Medicare. This is the equivalent of about 300,000 potential retirees each month, and while not all of them quit working on their retirement age birthday, many have or will. Others will reduce their work hours, in essence providing less labor for growing job opportunities. This phenomenon will continue for another dozen years until the last of the baby boomers reaches the “normal retirement age,” the earliest moment a worker can obtain full Social Security benefits, an age that is slowing rising from 65 years to 67 (for people born in 1960 and later).

Over the last few years, while the economy was coming out of the recession and getting its sea legs, the impact of the withdrawal of members of the workforce was muted, because in essence there were more job seekers than jobs. But that tide has turned, and we now face the prospect of a true labor shortage over the next few years if the economy continues to thrive.

It is likely, as well, that this shortage of workers is also being exacerbated by the departure of many experienced, tax-paying undocumented workers, just at a time when they are most needed. This aspect is most severely felt in the agriculture sector and in some parts of the fishing industry.

Chesapeake Bay fishermen are decrying the lack of workers, idling scores of boats and rupturing a heretofore reliable supply of seafood. Many expect that this summer’s labor shortage will severely reduce their harvest of oysters and crabs. The Washington Post reports that about 40% of Maryland’s crabbing operators lack pickers, dealing them a sharp blow just as the broader economy around them is surging and pushing seafood prices up sharply — with little of that revenue going to them. They attribute the shortfall to new enforcement of regulations meant to restrict immigrants, but which has also dried up the supply of legal workers who traditionally arrive on temporary visas.1

In another example, Kennett Square, a town about 40 miles west of Philadelphia, was highlighted in the New York Times this past Sunday as the once-thriving mushroom capital of the world. For the last thirty plus years, hard-working immigrants, mostly from Mexico, have created a vibrant local economy. Today, however, many of them have gone into hiding, fearful of being deported, and a vital and vibrant part of the American economy is threatened.2

Deporting those who have come to this country and worked hard and, in the process, contributed to the growth of our economy, is economic folly. It will only exacerbate the impending labor shortage, and it represents a classic illustration of shortsighted policy that makes the perfect the enemy of the good.

What this country needs at this time of expansion and growth is a thoughtful, bipartisan immigration strategy focused on expanding the labor force. The jobs needed stretch across a broad spectrum of the economy, including the service sector, manufacturing and agricultural/fishing industries. Some positions require only a high school education, while there are also high-skill jobs that need people with graduate degrees.

We have done this in the past, to great success, and I’m not referring to a century ago, but to the policy we invoked in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

In 1975, after that war ended, well over 150,000 Vietnamese refugees came to this country, settling primarily in California and Texas. Family reunification (now pejoratively referred to as “chain migration”) swelled their ranks over the subsequent quarter century. Although some of them experienced discrimination and even horrific violence, these “boat people”, the derogatory term often used to describe them, became assimilated into American life, many creating thriving enterprises. Their children and now grandchildren are counted among the graduates of the most prestigious colleges and universities in this country and among the echelons of middle and upper middle class Americans.

That tale of success can be repeated in the decades ahead if our legislators can open their minds to see the value of an immigration policy that will bring in people from a vast array of countries, walks of life, religions and political inclinations.

The criteria should be simple — immigrants must be willing to embrace the American way of life, accept our form of government, respect our religious freedom, refrain from criminal behavior and learn the English language, a strong unifying force in this country.

Some members of Congress, for political expediency (fearful of being trounced in the upcoming election), are now attempting to resolve the DACA quandary. Let that be just the first step. They and their colleagues on both sides of the aisle should recognize an acute economic reality and do what’s best for the country.

1 “Crab Crisis: Md. Seafood Industry Loses 40 Percent of Workforce in Visa Lottery,” The Washington Post.

2 “The Mexican Revival of Small-Town America,” The New York Times.

© Copyright 2018 Patricia W. Chadwick

How the Mighty are Falling (But Let’s Beware of a Witch Hunt)

December 20th, 2017

The acts of sexual aggression by (for the most part) prominent and powerful men that have come to light over the past few months have generated widespread shock and anger on the part of the public.

The shock is not so much that abuse has gone unreported for many decades; frankly, that is no surprise, as women the world over can attest. Rather, the shock is coming to grips with the troubling realization that among the list of perpetrators are some of the most admired and respected men in this country. There’s a tendency to associate thuggish behavior with ill breeding and a lack of education. What has come to light is an indication of what it means when power corrupts.

The anger is a gut reaction to the awareness that this predatory behavior has been so widespread. #MeToo has erupted in response, allowing millions of women (and some men also) to share their status as victims, without having to divulge the acts of barbarism or describe the shame and pain they have kept bottled up, in some cases for years. I count myself among those many who, as a young adult, was victimized by a powerful older man in the business world, and I hid the fact even from my own family for more than forty years.

This newly galvanized energy will, in itself, do much to end the reign of sexual terror by the unscrupulous, primarily by rebalancing the power relationship between the bully and the victim. Silence is no longer forced upon the abused, and force is no longer the right of the mighty.

Even as this important social tide has turned, let us be mindful that not all accusers are victims, and not all the accused are guilty. There is a long history in this country of mob frenzy treating the accused as guilty with little or no evidence, purely because the story fits the hysteria of the moment.

From the Salem witch trials of the late 17th century, to the McCarthy hearings in the 1950s, to the case of the Amiraults, who ran a day care center in Massachusetts and were swept up in the sex abuse hysteria that rocked the late 1980s (only to be freed from jail after eight years of wrongful confinement when the case fell apart), to the 1987 case of Tawana Brawley, who fabricated a tale of rape by four police officers, whose lives were upended until the case disintegrated on account of its lack of evidence. The widely reported accusations against Cardinal Joseph Bernardin were ultimately dropped by the accuser, who admitted he should never have made them. Similarly, the false allegations of rape against three members of Duke University’s lacrosse team in 2006 brought about the suspension of innocent students and the firing of the coach. And as recently as 2014, Rolling Stone magazine published an entirely spurious article about an unverified rape scene at a fraternity house on the campus of the University of Virginia. Such a litany is worth keeping in mind when each day seems to bring a new array of salacious headlines.

While allegations by numerous individuals against one person can confer logical credence on the plaintiffs, lone wolf accusations cannot be allowed the same degree of respect. Too many bounty seekers, too many disgruntled employees or individuals with venal agendas abetted by eager lawyers can inflict their own form of bullying and abuse. Inaccurate and false headlines can wreak irreparable havoc with the reputations of the innocent, and it is the obligation of each of us – as it is of the press,  to be cautious in casting judgment based on hearsay.

Let’s hope that the era of sexual terror foisted upon so many for so long is on its way out. Let’s make sure, too, that the purge of the perpetrators doesn’t also destroy innocent lives.


© Copyright 2017 Patricia W. Chadwick

A Letter to Republicans in Congress (From a Fellow Republican)

May 2nd, 2017

Dear Republican Members of the U.S. House and Senate:

In the matter of the Health Care Act that President Trump is attempting to amend (or should I say upend), I appeal to your sense of what is just, fair and honorable, by urging that you refuse to vote for any bill that allows pre-existing conditions to stand in the way of a person’s ability to obtain health care for the same premium as a more fortunate person who hasn’t had to deal with the suffering and anxiety that one faces with such illness.

This matter may not resonate with you, as Federal Government employees are provided (by the taxpayers) a level of health care that far exceeds what you yourselves have termed a “Cadillac plan.” You, your families and your employees never have to worry about pre-existing conditions. Your health care plan is the envy of all Americans.

But under the ACA plan now in existence, you developed the term “Cadillac plan,” which you applied to comprehensive health care plans provided by corporate America to its employees. You chose to apply a hefty 40% excise tax on those plans, the logic being that such a tax would help to fund insurance for those who were uninsured.

But you forgot to take economics into consideration by neglecting to realize that corporations would respond (and did) in a rational way, by cutting benefits to their employees and guaranteeing that their plans no longer could be deemed “Cadillac” in nature. The winners in that decision were the employers, who cut back the range of options to their employees and thus saved money; not to mention the insurance companies, whose obligations were now reduced. The only losers were the employees who had to pay higher premiums and receive fewer benefits. And the Federal Government was also a loser because, even after imposing this ill-conceived change, it failed to collect the revenue stream that was its sole justification.

Despite the decapitation of “Cadillac” plans in the corporate world, employees of most sizable companies in this country still retain the benefit of health insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions. The reasons are varied — some companies are truly good stewards of their employees and are motivated by what is the honorable way to treat their workers; other companies realize that they cannot retain top talent without such a crucial benefit, and so they add it reluctantly.

Whatever the reasoning behind providing a comprehensive corporate health care plan, the outcome is favorable because good coverage largely relieves the debilitating anxiety that reduces productivity.

Who, then, will be harmed by the current administration’s attempt to pass the all-important “pre-existing” conditions decision to the states?

Not the Federal Government employees and their families; not likely the significant part of the workforce that is employed by large corporations. No — they are safe.

It is a far larger population, including the millions of self-employed and the owners of small businesses with a few employees, collectively termed “the individual market,” that will be devastated by this change. Many of these hard-working people exist barely above the poverty level. Recall that for decades we have been describing these stalwart citizens as the engines of growth, risk takers, originators and sustainers of myriad small enterprises that add disproportionately to our national GDP.

If the Federal Government allows the states to define and determine eligibility, many of these workers could be refused medical treatment if they were once attacked by the zika virus, or if a member of their family has ever had cancer, or Lyme disease or maybe even a Caesarean birth. For sure, it will eliminate those who are HIV+ or have hepatitis C, an increasingly common and deadly silent disease that affects 3% of the 76 million baby boomers in this country, and is curable only in those instances where the sufferer can afford the huge expense of the required medication. Stated bluntly, without insurance that covers pre-existing conditions, millions of American workers are at risk of losing their lives, many through no fault of their own.

Just yesterday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) designated May 19 as National Hepatitis Testing Day, as it announced that more than 60% of liver cancer cases are related to Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C. That’s because the disease can be harbored within the patient long before it is diagnosed, in some cases as long as 15 years.

There is much to fix in the ACA (Obamacare) but handing over to the states the right to determine whether pre-existing conditions will be allowed to the citizens in their jurisdiction is de facto a death sentence on many thousands of people currently protected under the ACA.

On behalf of the millions of people who have as much right to a healthy life as those of us who are more advantaged, I implore you to hold intact the current pre-existing condition benefit in the ACA. To do otherwise would be a moral outrage, a wanton disregard of the value of human life. Thank you for taking this issue to heart.

© Copyright 2015 Patricia W. Chadwick

Ravengate Partners LLC Patricia Chadwick, President
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Moderate Republicans (How did we end up in this vale of tears?)

May 12th, 2016

It’s been a bleak election season for moderate Republicans — I know because I’m one of them, and I’ve been commiserating for months with like-minded centrists.

I used to think that we (moderate Republicans) comprised the base of our party. All the wackiness of the presidential primaries and caucuses was mere grandstanding, designed to placate the small Evangelical and Tea Party factions of the party’s base in early primary states such as Iowa and South Carolina. But once the silly season was over, I felt we could count on nominating a solid citizen as our candidate for President. This confidence was not based on naiveté but on a stellar record; we did it in 1979 with Ronald Reagan, a brilliant visionary and an adept pragmatist who knew how to work both sides of the aisle, and most recently, with Mitt Romney, a less-than-natural campaigner but an honorable man with vast talent who had been a successful governor of the most Democratic state in the Union.

But this year has turned out to be downright depressing, as we witness a modern day “Luddite” spout vitriol and diatribes against anyone who doesn’t pay him the respect he craves but can’t earn.

Moderate Republicans are so mainstream that some people mistake us for moderate Democrats. I like that because what we have in common is our moderation. We are more alike than either of us is relative to the far reaches of our respective parties. I tend to think that together we represent a significant majority of voters in the American electorate —in effect, the vast silent majority.

Moderate Republicans believe that government is necessary but should not be overwhelming — and never intrusive. We believe the government needs to stay out of the bedroom and out of the doctor’s office.

Moderate Republicans realize that government is not the solution to all problems; we know that it’s the private sector that generates profits, and profits are what’s needed for both economic growth and individual wealth creation. So, limited government is essential, and regulation should aim to support, not stymie, free-market behavior.

Moderate Republicans respect science and are committed to the responsible stewardship of our planet. Our leaders were the instigators of public discourse about air and water quality, which was the genesis of the Environmental Protection Agency, and they played a key role in the mitigation of acid rain from the Midwest to the Northeast. But they also acknowledge that onerous and excessive regulation that does not take into account legitimate cost benefit analysis is deleterious for the well-being of the country.

Moderate Republicans believe that a minimum wage that keeps a head of household below the poverty level is a hindrance to economic growth, and that it’s also morally deficient.

Moderate Republicans support immigration reform, abhorring the notion of deporting millions of workers, the vast majority of whom pay income and Social Security taxes, contribute to our economic growth and, in many cases, bear the pain of separation from their loved ones thousands of miles away in order to support them. They also believe that our borders need to be more open to the many around the world who want to benefit from the opportunities this country offers to those who are willing to work hard to improve their chance of a better life.

Moderate Republicans make an effort to educate themselves on social issues that have a bearing on the lives of those who might be victims of discrimination, prejudice and retaliation. They respect diversity and support a social order that allows human beings to lead their lives without fear. (And, yes, moderate Republicans believe that gender police should stay out of the bathroom!)

Moderate Republicans find abhorrent the notion of our nation defaulting on its debt  because a government that would not honor its financial obligations is the moral equivalent of a government run amok. That’s what happens in failing states in the third world, not in the most powerful nation on the planet.

Moderate Republicans believe that the Second Amendment was written during a time when our newly formed country had to be defended by a ready citizen militia, and that the right to bear arms should not stand in the way of government regulation to ensure the safety of the population at large.

Moderate Republicans believe that their president should show leadership by actively embracing members of the opposite party, building respect and having the courage and integrity to compromise when it’s in the best interest of the country.

These are but a few of the many ways moderate Republicans think about the issues facing our country today. Sadly, we have no candidate who represents our values. We are left holding our noses (as an Italian friend of mine said she would do when voting for Berlusconi) on election day and voting for whomever we think is the lesser of two bad choices.

And, dear Democratic friends, I’m already anticipating your invitations to join your party. But I can’t — I am a true and tried moderate Republican and proud of it.

© Copyright 2016 Patricia W. Chadwick

Tipping (One Way to Share the Wealth)

March 21st, 2016

March 21, 2016
Patricia Chadwick, pchadwick@ravengate.com
At two separate recent hotel stays, one in Washington, DC, the other in Atlanta, I noticed a small envelope in my room on which was a printed suggestion that the hotel guest leave a gratuity for the housekeeper.

“Tipping the maid,” as I remember the custom from the 1970s, seemed to die out more than a generation ago, and I was struck by the return of that custom. I readily complied and look for more such envelopes at future hotel stays.

Which gets to the point of this blog. The practice of tipping often seems to be treated as an annoying obligation, instead of an opportunity to say a gracious “Thank you.”

That attitude allows people to tip meagerly if they were not fully satisfied with the service —for example, if the traffic was snarled, and the taxi ride took ten minutes longer than hoped, or if the hamburger at the packed airport restaurant was medium, instead of medium rare. But in neither case was the recipient of the tip (or lack thereof) responsible for the disappointing service.

I like to think of gratuities as a means of augmenting the income of some of the lowest hourly wage earners in our economy — waiters and cab drivers, bellhops and redcaps, manicurists and hotel housekeepers, garage attendants and delivery people — from pizza to furniture.

And let’s not kid ourselves — we all deem the services provided by these professionals to be of critical value in our lives. Imagine coming back to your hotel room, exhausted at the end of a day jammed with meetings, to find damp towels still on the bathroom floor. Think of your frustration at getting to the airport towing luggage and toddlers and not being able to do curbside check in. Try to fathom the horror of having to do your own manicure before an important client meeting or job interview or even a date.

It’s easy to argue that if everyone were paid a decent minimum wage, there wouldn’t be the need to tip. That’s the way it seems to work in other modern societies, you may say. But that argument won’t solve the problem that exists in our economy today.

Fortunately, in many cases, technology makes the art of tipping a breeze. Credit card use in nearly all taxicabs allows one, with the touch of a finger, to add a 30% tip to the fare. If the cost of the ride is $12.50 (for example), a 30% gratuity is just $3.75. The difference between that and the meager $1.25 of a 10% tip is real cash of $2.50 in the pocket of the driver, a nice increment to his or her hourly wage and hardly a burden to the rider. And the appreciative “Thank you” from the driver as you exit the cab will put a smile on your face.

Once upon a time, it sufficed to keep lots of one-dollar bills in your wallet for the ability to tip on the spur of the moment. But today, I like to think that “FIVE is the new ONE.” A dollar tip says to the service provider, “I have to do this even though I don’t want to,” while a five-dollar bill says, “Thank you so much; I appreciate your service.”

A one-dollar tip keeps the service provider at the poverty level, while if we all make the effort to be generous with our gratuities, we can be part of having a real and beneficial impact on a large segment of the hardworking people in this country.

Trickle-down economics may be scoffed at by many, but there is no better case of true trickle-down benefits than by generously saying “Thank you” with a gratuity that matters.

By the way, the word gratuity derives from the Latin word “gratias,” which means simply “Thanks.”

Let there be thanks that someone is doing a job I don’t want to do; let there be thanks that I can share my blessing of well-being with someone who can benefit from it; let there be thanks that I can help to improve the quality of life of someone I don’t know but do appreciate.


© Copyright 2015 Patricia W. Chadwick

Bernie Sanders (Earnest, But Oh So Wrong!)

February 9th, 2016

As a self-proclaimed Socialist, Bernie Sanders likes to sound radical, exciting his audience with rhetoric about “need[ing] a political revolution.”However, he has yet to espouse the economic creed of Socialism, which calls for the government to own and control the means of production. I can only assume that he doesn’t support such a radical departure from our economic system, a system that, over its four-hundred-year history, has generated prosperity like few other large countries in the world.

Simply put, Bernie Sanders is not a Socialist; rather he is a progressive Democrat, not unlike a number of others who have toyed with the idea of running for President —namely, Dennis Kucinich and Howard Dean (another Vermonter). He is earnest and honest; he believes what he preaches with all his heart, and while that is rare in a politician and may be admirable in itself, it doesn’t legitimize his political theories.

What Bernie Sanders espouses is a social welfare system, in which the government first defines the well-being of its citizens and then takes on the responsibility of ensuring that well-being. His litany of those guarantees has popular appeal and certainly tugs on the heartstrings of many Americans, both Democrats and Republicans. I admit that they are lofty (but impracticable) ideals.

What retiree wouldn’t be happier with a higher monthly Social Security check?

Who can find fault with “free” tuition for all college students, relieving them and their parents of the burden of education loans?

Why can’t we have a single-payer health care system that would give everyone the same options and coverage?

Why shouldn’t the minimum wage be high enough to allow earners an income above the poverty level?

The problem is that Bernie Sanders doesn’t have a realistic plan for funding these objectives. All he has done so far is rail against the billionaires (who buy elections, in his words) and Wall Street (whom he has yet to define), seeming to imply that if the government could simply confiscate the wealth achieved by some, it could make life better for all.

It’s not surprising that his followers are predominantly the young, who have yet to achieve their professional dreams and their earning potential. The throngs of students supporting Bernie Sanders bring to mind the late 1960s, when I was living in Harvard Square as a young twenty something myself. During those years, there were seemingly daily demonstrations that often turned into tear gas confrontations between students and police. The frenzy of emotion expanded beyond the students’ opposition to the war in Vietnam, as they railed against their professors, their parents and any authority figure.

Some of those young rabble rousers of yesteryear are today’s millionaires and, possibly, even billionaires. Through dint of maturity and hard work, they achieved success, paying their taxes along the way. To imply that they are an advantaged class misconstrues how success is achieved in this country.

I would venture to guess that the vast majority of billionaires (or even 1%ers) in this country started their careers with little or no money to their name. They have achieved what we think of as “the American dream” through their own talents. They are hardly relegated to the ranks of “Wall Streeters”; rather they are dominated by a host of entrepreneurs — the founders of technology companies like Apple, Facebook and Google; astoundingly gifted athletes; or superstars in the entertainment industry. We all enjoy a better quality of life because of their achievements.

Bernie Sanders’ theory of redistribution of wealth is dangerous for U.S. economic growth and risks putting a dagger into the entrepreneurial ethic that drives success in this country. What the country needs is more growth and this can best be achieved by providing incentives to small companies and startup entrepreneurs to invest and expand.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than half of the jobs in the private sector are in small companies. Even more importantly, those small companies account for nearly two thirds of the new jobs created.

Small companies face many obstacles in their endeavors to achieve growth and generate wealth for their owners, not the least of which is onerous government regulation, something which has become increasingly burdensome in recent years. Bernie Sanders would do well to come up with a plan to support the “little guy” (his primary constituent in his endeavor to become the Democrats’ presidential nominee). I’d like to see him talk about incentives (tax and otherwise)that would provide small companies with the opportunity to take greater risks, hire new employees, flourish and, once again, be the engine for strong growth in the U.S. economy.




© Copyright 2015 Patricia W. Chadwick

Brooklyn (The Movie)

January 23rd, 2016

January 23, 2015
Patricia Chadwick, pchadwick@ravengate.com


Sometimes a movie is so poignant, meaningful and beautifully rendered that one feels compelled to share the experience. Brooklyn shines as a glorious example of the best in the art.

Starring the extraordinarily talented Irish actress, twenty-one-year-old Saoirse Ronan (who won plaudits for her subtle brilliance in Wes Anderson’s comedy, The Grand Budapest Hotel, in 2014), the movie tells the story of an ingénue, who emigrates from Ireland to Brooklyn, New York, in 1952.

It would be cruel to spill the story in this missive; rather I encourage you to find a way to see the film before the Academy Awards on February 28. Saoirse Ronan has been nominated for a Best Actress Award, and even though at twenty-one she undoubtedly has decades of opportunity ahead of her, I so hope she gets it. The movie has also been nominated in the Best Picture category.

Suffice it to say that this PG-13 movie, based on a novel by Colm Tóibín, will make you smile, laugh and cry; so bring someone you love with whom to share the experience.

Brooklyn seems particularly prescient in this political silly season, which has featured new levels of pseudo drama and mean spirited opportunism on the issue of immigration.

Part of the beauty of the story in Brooklyn is its fresh revelations about an old story, the emotion-wracking experience of an immigrant — the fortitude to leave one’s family, the anguish of missing those left behind, the resourcefulness required to find a place in one’s new world, and bit by bit, the investment of one’s future in a new life in a new society. And it lays bare the raw hostility that so many immigrants have experienced as newcomers and would-be Americans.

I trust it isn’t a spoiler to add that after vicariously experiencing through this well scripted “fictional report” the grinding angst of an immigrant’s early encounters in the heart of New York City, I left the cinema with a spring in my step, admiring and proud of what immigrants have brought to the robust and ever evolving culture we call American.

Perhaps, after seeing the film, you will even buy the book, as I did.  It’s a beautiful read.


© Copyright 2015 Patricia W. Chadwick

An American Asset – The Immigrants Who Come to Our Shores

January 1st, 2016

December 31, 2015
One of the most gratifying experiences that comes with living in the United States is encountering newcomers to this country — immigrants whose energy, spirit and entrepreneurial drive have overcome the seemingly endless obstacles put before them as they try to build a new life here. Their stories of arrival and survival can evoke tears but are often heartwarming.Perhaps it’s a quintessentially American trait to feel an emotional bond with foreigners who move here, because each of us natural-born Americans has at most a four-hundred-year history in this country, and most have far less than that.I love the stories. My dental hygienist came from Russia with a master’s degree in electrical engineering, but wasn’t allowed to practice here. (Really? A Russian electrical engineer is inferior to an American one?) But that didn’t stop her — she went back to school to learn a new profession.The man who refurbished my kitchen hails from Ireland. For the first few years, he did small jobs; now he is building McMansions, has a wife and three American boys and is on his way to U.S. citizenship. He’ll probably build his own McMansion soon.The Polish aesthetician, whom I met the day after she arrived in this country, could hardly make herself understood in English. Today, she owns her own skincare salon and her own house. She is now an American citizen, as are her husband and her two children.

The Indian friend of mine arrived in New York harbor with a college degree and $125 in his pocket thirty years ago. Today he is a wealthy man, overseeing a firm that invests in biotechnology startups. He told me that every time he sees the Statue of Liberty, he has to wipe away tears.

The stories are legion, but what triggered this blog was a small encounter yesterday.

I returned a lamp to a furniture store because it had fallen apart. There were six sales people sitting together as I entered. When I explained my problem, they quickly advised me that they weren’t responsible for handling any product without a warranty or that had been purchased more than a year ago.

Then one man quietly approached me and taking the lamp in his hands examined it. “The screw is too short; let me see what I can do,” he said in a gentle voice with a hint of a foreign accent. In short order, he found a longer screw and spent the next half hour working on the lamp until it was repaired. (Mind you, he, too was a salesman, not a repairman.) As I thanked him, I couldn’t resist asking where he was from. “I’m Persian,” he said, with a note of pride.

Driving home, I pondered the contrast between the xenophobic, nationalistic rhetoric of Donald Trump and our everyday reality, the substantial benefit to each of us Americans from the influx of immigrants.

The litany of immigrant luminaries in this country is awe-inspiring. They have come to our shores from scores of countries, pursuing a vast array of professions and subscribing to diverse political and religious beliefs. Contrasting them is interesting: Rupert Murdoch and George Soros; Ayn Rand and Emma Goldman; Madelaine Albright and Henry Kissinger.

And in contrast to Trump’s diatribes against generalized “immigrants” and the crimes he declares they commit, the data show clearly that the crime rate among immigrants is markedly lower than among the rest of the population. That’s not surprising; why would they relocate to these shores to improve their lot in life and then set out to destroy it by breaking the law?

The many refugees from the chaos of war in Syria and Iraq are not a threat to us in this country. The vetting system refugees are required to endure is arduous and long. We have much more to fear from those who might arrive on student and tourist visas. This is a process that has little vetting and is the route by which nearly all the 9/11 hijackers arrived. There’s where more effective control is needed.

American exceptionalism is a term that has been debased in recent years by certain loud conservative zealots. American exceptionalism is indeed at the core of our country’s founding ideology; it is based on freedom of religion, speech and ideas, combined with the ability and determination to seek opportunity and to pursue one’s dream under the umbrella of a system of government established on the principle that all are created equal and endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights that include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That’s what immigrants are seeking when they come to America. Let’s open our doors to them and prove that the American dream that attracted our ancestors still lives in our land today.

Happy New Year!



© Copyright 2015 Patricia W. Chadwick

Ravengate Partners LLC Patricia Chadwick, President
31 Hillcrest Park Road Ronnie Snow, Assistant
Old Greenwich, CT  06870
203-698-0676 www.ravengate.com

Keeping Things in Perspective – Campaign Spending vs. Saving Lives

November 17th, 2015

A week in Zimbabwe spent working at several clinics that serve HIV/AIDS patients was enlightening and thought provoking.Admittedly, it was distressing to see how rampant, even now, HIV is in some of the poorest parts of Africa; it’s not an exaggeration to say that in some Zimbabwean villages a large majority of the people are HIV-positive.On the other hand, advances made in the treatment of the disease are truly astounding. A once-a-day pill, taken faithfully, can restore patients to a full and meaningful life. Pregnant women who are HIV-positive are giving birth daily to HIV-negative infants. HIV is no longer a death sentence.Arriving at an outreach clinic 65 miles from Victoria Falls, we (volunteers and medical professionals) were greeted by a throng of nearly three hundred residents, some of whom had walked as far as five miles from their own villages in unforgiving heat. Most were HIV-positive, yet nearly all of them looked healthy and well-nourished, despite the fact that they live from hand to mouth as subsistence farmers in an area that has been plagued with drought.

Patients, ranging in age from three to seventy-five, came to the clinic with their medical records book, and they stood patiently in line to have blood drawn and tested. There was no shoving or pushing; infants and children tagged along with their parents. The fact that most of the children did not need to be tested was a tribute to their mothers for taking their daily dosage of life-saving medication during their pregnancy. It was also evidence of the significant progress among the population in understanding the importance of adhering to the daily therapy prescribed to contain the wracking harm of HIV infection.

At the end of a work schedule that began at seven o’clock in the morning and concluded just before midnight, fatigue and deep satisfaction meant that sleep came fast.

After a few days, it dawned on me that I had been blissfully oblivious to the shenanigans roiling the political silly season back home in the U.S. I didn’t know and I didn’t care about which presidential candidate had inched ahead by a nano-percent in the polls.

I reveled in not feeling hostage to the tedious drone of pundits, from left and right,  whose chief raison d’être seems to be analyzing the latest slip of the tongue by an  addled candidate as a pivotal event worth exhaustive and exhausting chatter.

In the balance of life’s realities, what was consequential came into sharp relief. The HIV initiatives in Zimbabwe are vital to the survival of many members of the human family and being part of that worthy project, though only for a week, brought a sense of balance that even the most compelling punditry cannot provide.

The eye opening truth was the realization that nearly all the funds required to provide medications to the patients at the clinics in Zimbabwe are coming from private donations, while back home more than $1 billion is being raised in the pursuit of a single job, the presidency of the United States. What an irony that the costly pursuit of that office, viewed from the perspective of an HIV clinic, seems suddenly so inconsequential.

Think of the societal good that might be wrought if only a small portion of that money were spent to better the lives of the poorest and most needy around the world.


© Copyright 2015 Patricia W. Chadwick

Ravengate Partners LLC Patricia Chadwick, President
31 Hillcrest Park Road Ronnie Snow, Assistant
Old Greenwich, CT 06870
203-698-0676 www.ravengate.com