Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Is Tom Potter Nuts?

He is the mayor of Portland, OR., and he has said this:

"I am angered by this morning's arrest by federal officers of approximately 150 Portland residents who were working at a local produce company. I certainly understand why federal officials executed criminal warrants against three individuals who stole and sold Social Security numbers. But to go after local workers who are here to support their families while filling the demands of local businesses for their labor is bad policy." (Source, through Drudge.)

So, if I understand him properly, if a band of robbers attacks a bank and there are three ringleaders who are US citizens while the collaborators are illegals, the police should catch and punish only the top three and let the illegals go.

What is becoming of our politicians' common sense?

illegals signpost
[Thanks to for the photo.]

On a parallel front, I understand the economic argument for the guest worker program, but I am against it in its present form for the following reasons:

1. Granting illegals a path to citizenship, no matter how arduous, is rewarding lawbreakers and affording an economic incentive for others to sneak into the country.

2. Just because legislation establishes a large fine to become legal does not change the fact that the present legislation is a form of amnesty. The word means "a pardon, esp. for political offenses against a government." Even if the pardon has a price tag, it is still a pardon--worse, it becomes a kind of post-delictum (don't bother looking up the word, I invented it) licensing fee that will not discourage future illegals one little bit. They'll just save up for it along with the coyote fee.

3. Foreign cheap labor seems to be an international phenomenon, but that doesn't mean it is healthy. It has its pros and cons. Pro: It lowers the cost of labor and the price of the products that this labor produces (and that we all buy). Con: It puts downward pressure on wages and therefore on the standard of living of the next-higher-up wage earners, and so on at least part way up the ladder. At the very least, if we have a guest worker program, foreign workers should be required to leave the country, period. If they want to immigrate at some point, they should get in line behind other legal immigrants for the path to citizenship. Having said that, I see no reason why legal immigration cannot open its doors to unskilled workers, on one essential condition: that all applicants go through a rigorous testing procedure that will eliminate all those who do not understand and endorse the US Constitution--e.g. those applicants who would repress women, such as, say, hard-line muslims; or who do not believe in the separation of church and state (hmm, orthodox muslims again.) Without such a careful screening process, the US will find itself in the same bind as Great Britain, France and Germany, who must now fight their own constituents in order to preserve their long-standing equivalent of the Bill of Rights. And the danger in a democratic society is that politicians tend by nature to want to please a majority of voters no matter what they believe--or conversely, the only representative who will be elected is one who represents that majority no matter what they believe.

4. Foreigners who come to this country are more valuable in their country of origin as a source of pressure on their own government to reform. The fact that Mexico, for example, can send its young, adventurous, risk-taking, able-bodied workers and their immediate families to the US must take a huge thorn out of the side of all those in government who prefer their little privileged comforts in the corrupt status quo. We would all benefit from these reforms.

So I'm against present immigration legislation as it stands. And if the authorities are feeling the pressure to get on the stick and crack down on illegal hiring, more power to them. In fact, this is the true answer to the problem. It must be done slowly so as not to create a labor vacuum and destroy millions of businesses both large and small; but nevertheless, it should be done. I can guarantee you that as soon as increasing numbers of business owners hear about raids at businesses down the street, illegals will pour out of this country like rats out of an abandoned warehouse as the wrecking ball shows up. Remember, while the complacent-government cat's away, the mice will play.

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