In the last two columns, I recounted the true story of Daniel Ludwig, a Romanian immigrant who came to America essentially penniless in 1955, yet was able to buy a home, build himself a woodworking shop, and establish a thriving cabinetmaking business within six years of his arrival here.
Then, by way of example, we magically transported Dan into the present to see how his immigrant story might fare in today’s America. One immediate difference: Today, the likelihood of Dan ever affording a house was virtually nil. But even supposing he’d been able to buy some property, today’s tangle of zoning, building, aesthetic and environmental regulations would likely have foiled any attempt to set up his own woodworking shop, much less make a success of it. Hence, the classic American immigrant story of 1955 becomes the classic dead-end road of 2011.