Apr 232010
 
This Land Belongs to Those Who Work It
Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

What part of “illegal immigration” do liberals have difficulty understanding? The legislation now waiting for Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer’s signature is an attempt by the State of Arizona to address a real issue. Is the proposed law the best way to address the problem? I’ll take a stand and say, “No.” But in the vacuum of any federal action, something has to happen.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) estimated the number of illegal immigrants in Arizona in 1992 to be around 57,000. By 2006, that number had swelled to 500,000, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The fact is that, today, regardless of the source of the numbers, you have to recognize that somewhere near 10 percent of the population of Arizona is there illegally. Do you think the federal government would remain idle if this were the case in all fifty states?

It’s far too easy for people outside of the states directly impacted by illegal immigration to cast the issue solely in the light of civil rights. But in Arizona, California, Texas and other states, the impact is real and growing at an alarming rate. Since illegal immigrants are here . . . well . . . “illegally,” it’s difficult to get accurate numbers, but even conservative estimates place the current number of illegal aliens at 12 million nationwide and agree that they’re numbers are growing between 500,000 and 1 million every year.

Regardless of what people want to think, these numbers place both a social and economic toll on the states where the problem is concentrated. Contrary to liberal assertions, residents of Arizona are not in favor of the new legislation by a 70 percent majority because they’re all racial bigots. They support action because they’re experiencing a rise in crime while also going through difficult economic times, and both issues are exacerbated by the real effects of illegal immigration.

The fact is that the federal government is not enforcing control of our border with Mexico, and that lack of enforcement presents a range of very real issues. Never mind the national security concerns, which in the light of global terrorism are not trivial, you’re still left with the effects of crime and a huge burden on state economies. There is a cost for illegal immigration. It directly impacts the safety of American citizens and impedes our ability to provide the education and healthcare they need.

In case you haven’t noticed, states across the Country are having serious budget issues. Cuts are being made just to make ends meet, and one area that’s suffering greatly is education. Since the 1982 Plyler v. Doe Supreme Court decision, states have been legally saddled with the expense to educate illegal alien students. Again, accurate cost estimates are difficult to determine, but according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), “The total K-12 school expenditure for illegal immigrants costs the states nearly $12 billion annually, and when the children born here to illegal aliens are added, the costs more than double to $28.6 billion.” And this is really just the tip of the iceberg. When dual-language costs and free lunch programs are taken into account, the price tag gets larger still. Add the potential costs of liberal proposals to provide in-state tuitions and you’re starting to see the picture.

Of course, education isn’t the only affected area. Healthcare is another concern. In accordance with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, hospitals are required to provide medical treatment to whoever enters their doors, regardless of immigration status. This is obviously a sound humanitarian policy, but since illegal aliens are rarely covered by any sort of health insurance, this becomes the de facto standard for their medical care. Not only does this dynamic clog hospital waiting rooms and inhibit their ability to provide real emergency care, but it also adds significantly to healthcare costs by utilizing expensive hospital services for routine care. A 2004 study conducted by FAIR estimated the uncompensated cost for Arizona to be $400 million, and with the illegal population continuing to grow, so are the costs.

The rest of America can ignore these economic issues if they choose. They can also ignore the increases in crime, in violent crime like murder. They can ignore the fact that an American city, Phoenix, Arizona, is now second in the world, behind Mexico City, in its number of kidnappings. Yes, Americans can continue to ignore illegal immigration, but they do so at their own future cost.

Illegal immigration is not a racial issue. The issue is that a crime is being perpetrated upon the citizens of America, and the federal government is allowing it to happen. This situation negatively impacts the lives of Americans every day. As you consider the issue, ask yourself how you would like for your home to become threatened by increases in crime. Ponder the economic consequences, which in addition to those mentioned above include, the cost of incarceration, which the FAIR study estimated to be $80 million in 2004, the effects on the depression of wages, and negative impact on resources and the environment. Do this, and you will hopefully begin to appreciate the full context of the issue and its impact on law abiding American citizens.

The Arizona legislation is being unfairly characterized as racially motivated and hate-based, and the liberals carrying that message should be ashamed of themselves. Just as the Republican hyperbole over healthcare reform was stretched to the incendiary extreme, so are the worst case scenarios now being spewed by liberals. If liberals want to be part of the solution for illegal immigration, then they’ll be well served to address ALL of the issues and not simply be the immigration “Party of No.”

Admittedly, there is potential for abuse in the Arizona law, but that’s really no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water. The Arizona legislation needs clarification of the methods for its implementation. The law does prohibit racial profiling, which will be difficult, but at some point trust needs to be placed in law enforcement. The fact is that unauthorized immigration is already illegal; the Arizona law simply enables State and local authorities to enforce laws that the federal government has neglected.

If you’re truly concerned with civil liberty, then let your voice be heard and demand that the federal government finally move beyond lip service and address illegal immigration. America needs a comprehensive solution for these issues. That solution will likely include some sort of “guest worker” program and allow for some amount of planned LEGAL immigration of those here illegally. Whatever the solution looks like in the end, America needs secure borders and enforcement of immigration laws. Said enforcement will obviously require people to show proof of their legal status. That proof could be as simple as a card, but let’s be honest — there’s no way to actually enforce the laws without such a requirement.

Don’t kid yourself, this is without doubt a civil rights issue, but the rights in question are those of all law abiding American citizens. Our government is based on a system of laws, without which we would have anarchy. Immigration and border control are an integral part of that system, and those who decide to break the law should be held accountable.

We as Americans agree to abide by the law. Is there any possible justification for not requiring that foreign nationals do so as well?


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Apr 202010
 

Do you trust the federal government? If you’re anything like me, your answer is,  “It depends.” According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, such a response would put you in the minority, or at least amongst the most positive of Americans. With only 22 percent of those surveyed saying they can trust the federal government “always or most of the time,” distrust in government appears to have become as American as apple pie.

Though I doubt it, you may be surprised by these results. Personally, as I read the headlines, my only surprise is that the poll results are actually headlines. With the national unemployment rate around 10 percent, a huge federal debt looming over our collective heads, continuing effects of the big-bank bailout swirling about, and a party-line split that’s stalled any meaningful debate in Congress, is there any wonder? Nobody needed a poll to tell them that our government is broken, and taxpayers are fed up with it.

According to Pew, 56 percent of us are frustrated with the federal government. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m certainly in that group. Interestingly, this number is at roughly the same level it was in 1997, but something else has changed quite significantly — the number of Americans who are “angry.” Of course, the complete disregard for the American people evidenced by Congress is part of the problem; with both parties working diligently to repay their debts to their big-money contributors, some anger is bound to ensue . . . but an increase from 8 percent in 2001 to the current 21 percent?

Something is at work beyond a normal souring of public opinion, even that which occurs in a recession. Along with the drastic increase in anger, the Pew Poll revealed a whopping 47 percent of Americans who believe the federal government to be a threat to their personal rights and freedom. The poll also shows increasing support for smaller government, a negative opinion of the national news media, and a desire for reduced regulation. If these tenets sound at all familiar to you, there’s good reason: this is Tea Party 101, and it’s rapidly becoming the central theme of Republicans in general.

Only in politics, can you preach that the organization you represent is completely ineffective and then leverage that sentiment to promote doing nothing about it. It’s crazy, but it’s exactly what the Republicans have been doing ever since President Obama took office. Their message is not only that the federal government is absurdly inefficient and completely incapable of productive activity, but that it also threatens the very principles of our founding. Using whatever heated rhetoric they deem needed, the Republicans are beating hard on the anti-government drum, and their efforts are reflected in the polling.

Asked for their preference between bigger government with more services, and smaller government with fewer services, the percentage of Americans who want smaller government has been increasing steadily since the 2008 election. During this period, demand for smaller government climbed from 42 to 50 percent. Can it be that this is just coincidence? Couple this trend with the 14 percent drop, from 54 percent in support of government control of the economy in March 2009 to just 40 percent this April, and it sure becomes difficult to separate these changes in opinion from the relentless barrage of anti-government rhetoric spewing from the Republican leadership.

These are the same Republicans who were at the front of the line calling for bailouts when the banks crashed, yet as soon as the conversation turned to providing services for average Americans, their banter changed. Overnight, they went from support of big-government to a mind-numbing campaign to ridicule anything the Democrats propose. The facts suggest that Republicans in Congress are in favor of big government, but only when it serves the wealthy. Somehow, they position themselves as the patriotic party, yet their patriotism is little more than a veneer over their undying devotion to big business. The truly amazing aspect of this duplicity is that loyal, hard-working Americans actually buy into the lie against their own best interest.

Of course, as pointed out by Dave Johnson on his “Seeing the Forest” blog, the Republican agenda is ardently supported through a “well-funded anti-government” effort. If Fox News didn’t create the Tea Party, they certainly funded its media promotion. Together, in spite of the fact that too little government is what caused our current recession, this “patriotic” duo has successfully waged a campaign of fear to convince voters that they’ll benefit from less government.

As the Pew Poll indicates, the Fox, Tea Party, Republican triad has been successful thus far. They’ve managed to distort the truth, instill fear of government, and somehow sell the notion that by doing nothing, they’re actually helping the average American. Don’t you believe it. The federal government was established to “promote the general Welfare.” It was designed to protect the citizenry from both foreign enemies and the unbridled power of the rich. The federal government belongs to YOU and me. It exists to serve The People, but it’s presently broken, and it won’t get repaired by doing nothing. So, the next time some politician tells you how inefficient it is, don’t let him off the hook — demand that he tell you how he’s going to fix it.

The entire Pew Research Center poll is available here.


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Apr 162010
 
In an article appearing on Huffington Post, Mike Green asserts that amidst the panic and turmoil involving the banking collapse and subsequent bailout, one industry was thriving — lobbying. He then offers more transparent disclosure as a corrective action:

“I think it’s a good idea to make my representatives keep an accurate detailed list of all lobbyists who contact them.”
Mike Green, Huffington Post

Detail from Corrupt Legislation. Mural by Elih...
Image via Wikipedia

Disclosure of lobby contacts might effect some marginal improvement in government accountability to voters, but it’s not a solution. Far from it. It’s a bit like diagnosing the patient (American government) with a chronic, incurable condition, rendering the only legitimate prescription to be pain management. We don’t have to accept that diagnosis.

What we need to do is address the core issue, which is corruption of the system: business exists to make money, but government exists to secure the rights of the governed. Business serves its shareholders, and indirectly its customers. Government is supposed to serve The People. When business spends millions of dollars to buy influence in Washington, it’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to do. It’s playing by the rules, as currently defined, to maximize  profits for its investors. In contrast, when government creates rules that favor business over “the general Welfare,” it is not serving its purpose. When it does so in exchange for money or favors, it has become corrupted.

The fact of the matter is that the voice of The People has been silenced in Washington. Congress no longer serves The People but rather the money making interests of the business lobbies. Lobby control of government is the natural outcome of a system that allows private money to drive the election process. Remove private money from elections and you will restore power to The People.

American government is in desperate need of a “lobbyectomy.” The patient is operable, and the prognosis is complete restoration of the voice of The People. The problem is that the surgery is elective, and consent for the operation depends on Congress.


Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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