Archive for Bitter Rantings

What do you do when none of them inspire you?

To be honest, Fred Thompson was the only candidate even mildly inspiring among the Republicans. He’s long gone, and all the right has are McCain and Romney. Both have their strengths, but both have fundamental flaws. On the left you have Obama and Clinton. The media seems to think it’s going to be McCain vs. Clinton. Looking at the slate, only one phrase comes to mind.

“Oh shit!”

Yeah, one of these will be the next President.

Comments

A Democrat speaks out on Bush

And I think he’s right.

A Stand-up President
By Orson Scott Card

One of my favorite parts:

The insane Left loves to call Bush a liar, though they have no evidence of any lies — they have to redefine “lie” in order to make any kind of case.

I voted for Bush twice and I’m proud of it. I think he’s made mistakes, but I think that history is going to be very, very good to him.

Comments

Is critical thinking a lost art?

I’ve been wondering that a while now. Everyone seems too eager to get their opinions from outside sources now. They get them from entities that hand them out with surface level justifications and express them in fits of self-satisfaction as if to say “hey, see how smart I am?”. No, you’re not smart, you’re a parrot.

I really don’t want people to think this is a political place, because its not. No one out there is going to be convinced of anything because I posted on it here, and I wouldn’t necessarily want them to anyway. I also have no desire to be one of the aforementioned entities. Finally, politics isn’t friendly, and I like to think I am.

BTW, I’m fairly conservative in a very classical sense and I’m a big proponent of decentralized and smaller government. Usually that puts me on the Republican side of the aisle, but I’m unaffiliated with any party. I tell you this so you can consider the source of this screed and go ahead and tune me out right away. ;)

Long ago I’m certain I remember civilized people being able to engage in political discussion without getting angry, but that doesn’t seem to be in vogue now. There’s a political atmosphere of righteous indignation that’s just poison to that sort of thing. A big part of it is probably caused by the amount of information out there and how many different things there are to debate, but I really have no clue why. I just know that come 2008 there will be more people voting against someone than for someone, and that just kind of sucks.

But on to critical thought. I think about the whole immigration debate and wonder why the hell anyone is surprised at who’s saying what. Conservatives are ripping Bush a new one over it, Congress is enjoying it’s lowest approval ratings in history, the border is wide open, and there’s no resolution in sight. I get sucked in to discussions on it with people on message boards and just marvel at the stupidity there. I’m sure others marvel at my own, but I’m at least thinking about it all before I post. But I honestly don’t have much of a dog in the hunt, although I would like to know more about it all.

So I want to apply a little critical thinking to the debate and maybe learn something from the more left-leaning people that frequent this blog (yes, all three of you. Ok, both of you…). Let’s start with the basic conservative idea. These people have broken our laws and should not be rewarded for that with citizenship. Well, it’s hard to argue with that but we have umpteen million of them over here and need to figure out what we do with them. Also, business tends to like cheap labor, and the illegal immigrants who make it over here have a tendency to work their asses off, pay their bills on time, and go to Church on Sunday. All of those are traits that the right tends to admire in people.

What about the liberal message? These people work hard at jobs that Americans won’t do, and we can’t send them back because they may be persecuted or we might break up their families, etc… Maybe the reason Americans won’t do the jobs is because the cheap labor illegal immigrants provide artificially drives the wages down, and you’re seeing the demand curve in action. And maybe they should have considered the impact on their families before breaking the law. Finally, aren’t Liberals the champions of the lower classes? Here’s a group that’s dominating the unskilled labor market at the expense of the lower classes here. It’s not like they’re coming over here and displacing management…

So that’s a capsule of both sides. There’s one more thing, border security. Conservatives want this, and Liberals inexplicably don’t. Why is that? Ask a conservative about border patrols and building a wall and you get a big “HELL YEAH” answer. Ask a liberal and you get risk of confrontation and such. It makes me wonder if they lock their doors at night… Ok, stop there and tell me what I’ve missed. If rank-and-file liberals want a wall and border security, tell me because I’m interested in that sort of thing.

So there you go, the two sides in a nutshell. Why is it a problem? Well, to me it really isn’t because it doesn’t much affect my daily routine, nor my ability to make money and enjoy life. Hey, I’m just being honest.

However, there’s a principle that’s being violated here and that bothers me. I’m a law-and-order type of guy after all, and these people are breaking the law. Why are they? It’s really simple. The rewards outweigh the risks and the benefits are far greater than the costs. Hell, if I was in their general situation you would find me working here illegally too. I’m serious. There’s also a problem with the value of my citizenship being diminished with each incident of successful illegal immigration. Yes, it’s slight enough to be non-existent. Still, it’s there and that’s a problem. Finally, there are some very real economic problems with unchecked illegal immigration. Simply put, in a nation where college graduates tend to contribute more to society than they get back and high-school dropouts tend to receive more than they put in, why on earth should we be happy with mass immigration of the latter? I love immigrants, they make us collectively great, but I want more of the type that raise my property values please. :)

So, to me the solution to this whole situation seems obvious. We need lots of immigration obviously, and obviously our system can absorb many many more people. Let’s try to get them here legally though, where we can maybe filter out some of the losers and make it easier for winners to come make us all collectively better. I personally think that there are three things that need doing which taken together would result in a drastic reduction in illegal immigration. None of them cost too much either.

First, I would make legal immigration easier. That’s simple. If it was as easy as getting a driver’s license in North Carolina is then most of these people would already be citizens. So obviously it’s harder than it needs to be. I don’t think it should be THAT easy, we want people to value it once they get it and you tend to value things you’ve worked for more than those which were given. I also think that a crucial part of citizenship is the message of what it means to be a citizen. In that spirit, we should make sure that they know how our system works and appreciate why it works. But make it easier than it is today, and let business get involved to sponsor people. That will increase the incentive people have to use the system.

Second, tighten border security. That should be done anyway, I really don’t get what the problem with that is. This is the costliest part of the whole plan. I would build a wall and patrol it, and make sure that people who try to cross the border know that they’re very likely to get caught. If you get caught, maybe we say no citizenship for you for a whole decade or something. Make it a real risk to try to cross the border, and make it difficult to do at the same time. That will decrease the incentive people have to try to enter illegally.

Third, penalize the hell out of people who get caught hiring illegals. You already need a Social Security number to get a job, how hard can it be in the age of computers to make sure that they’re valid and only being used in one or two places? Let businesses know that they’re going to get hit hard if they don’t comply. You can send warnings if you think there’s a problem, and you can give second chances. But, increase the risk and decrease the incentive to go after just the cheapest possible labor. That will reduce the demand for illegals, which will decrease the incentive for them to come here illegally. Another key thing to do here is make the penalties controllable by State or Municipality. Let the Governors drive what’s most effective, they know what works for their individual states. For instance, in California this law would cripple agriculture. Maybe they get more second chances and the law drags their feet a while to lessen the shock. That doesn’t mean Michigan should follow suit. You get the idea.

Do those three and the problem will likely sort itself out naturally. Notice I never even brought up punishing anyone who’s already here, nor did I suggest we just make them citizens. Instead I’ve tried to change the dynamics of the system from one that encourages illegal immigration to one that discourages it. It’s going to be harder on those who are here illegally, because most of them are going to have to do more than they’re doing today to maintain employment. I’m sure there are plenty of other problems that would need to be sorted out. But the goal should be to make it HARD to be an illegal immigrant here.

So why doesn’t Congress work on this? Well why should they? I referenced incentives in the three points I made to get you thinking about them. What is the primary incentive for any congressman? Whatever gives you the most votes, that’s what. How do you get votes? Well, it depends on whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, doesn’t it?

In general the Democrats try to get votes by demographic chunks while the Republicans go after the individual. That means that while a Republican has to work harder to earn a voter, the voter is generally loyal to the candidate/party and easier to keep. Democrats can get huge amounts of votes with less work just by satisfying the demand of block leaders. I know Howard Dean is trying to change this and wish him luck, but that’s still the current model.

So consider the Hispanics, who make up an overly large part of the illegal immigration population. In some areas they vote as a block, in others as individuals. If you can make them a voting block like black people, AND persuade them to vote for your side, then you get a fairly reliable majority for the next couple of decades. Make sense?

So you’re a Democrat. Your goal is to make Hispanics a block and simultaneously show them that you care about their interests. What better way than to just give illegal immigrants the gift of citizenship? No need in worrying about the interests of those you purport to represent–those groups already vote in a block of one kind or another and you have that leadership locked up. So as far as illegal immigrants are concerned, your incentive is to grant them amnesty and citizenship, as long as you get credit for it.

Maybe you’re a Republican? You want the people here to be legal and to vote as individuals, but how do you do that? I can’t think of a way really. The best thing you can do is to prevent them from becoming citizens if you can, and then go to your constituents and say that you’ve fought for their rights and for law and order. That may help you get some new voters and keep your current ones, but it’s not a solution. (Conservatives get mad when the law is broken. In this case, they’re willing to cut off their nose to spite their face.) You have to be careful too, because if you magically get rid of all illegal immigrants then business suffers and you’re going to be blamed for that. So in the end your incentive is to maintain the status quo.

What about Bush? He’s a real wild card because there’s no obvious incentive for him to do anything. He has no election to win, and his legacy will be determined more by the war on terror (not just Iraq) and the economy than immigration (does anyone really remember Reagan for his amnesty bill? newp…). If anything, he might want to prevent the Democrats from making a block but realizes he can’t prevent that on this issue, so he proposes amnesty to make sure that they don’t get credit for it. In other words, maybe he wants to prevent a chunk of his legacy from being a Democrat majority for the next thirty years. That’s speculation of course, he might just want them to be citizens or he likes the idea of a North American Union. Maybe he’s just doing what he thinks is the right thing at a gut level. Maybe it’s Karl Rove’s mind control rays, or Dick Cheney pulling strings. Who knows? He has no clear incentives to do anything.

Regardless, you might notice that no one in a position to do anything of substance really has an incentive to solve the problem. It’s much easier to yell at the other side, isn’t it? I guess as far as this issue is concerned, despair is the best option. ;)

Anyway, my taxes are reasonable (if a little high) right now. I have a great job with lots of security and my kids will probably go to private school. I live in a good neighborhood that’s likely to appreciate in value, and I speak Spanish. I know it’s a problem, but I doubt anything will be done with it before 2009 at the earliest. And in the end, it doesn’t affect me that much.

Here endeth the bitter rant. I hope you still like me. :)

Comments (4)

Throw the book at him!

I hope Michael Vick goes to jail for this.  Dogfighting is just disgusting, and it takes an evil person to be interested in it.  I can understand butchering a dog for food, even though I wouldn’t want to eat it.  I can see putting down dogs for a variety of reasons, so long as it’s humane.  Using them for sport though, in a manner where they get severely injured and often are killed without mercy, well that’s just sick.

Mr. Vick, may you die penniless and without friends.

Comments (1)