As I look forward to Memorial Day and honoring what
so many people fought and died for, I am watching the U.S. Senate debate
the new immigration bill, noting which senators think their constituents
are dumb enough to buy it as genuine reform.
Our Ted Kennedy doesn't have to think at all; he is confident of
re-election no matter what he does to his constituents or the country as
a whole, and is just playing with everyone else. Arizona's John McCain
seems to think he can win the Republican primary just by denying that
amnesty is amnesty.
Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, knows his constituents aren't buying
it, isn't sure they'll re-elect him, but has decided the best defense is
a somewhat whiny offense. Don't just call it amnesty, he cries in
obvious frustration: if you don't like it, sit down with a Democrat and
tell him what, if not this bill, you want to do!
OK, Sen. Graham: Like your constituents who are calling you, outraged
over your support of this farce of a bill, I want to secure the borders.
Most everyone I know has been saying "secure the borders" to both
Democratic and Republican senators and congressmen for over a year. Do
that first, then we can talk about what to do about the 12 million to 20
million illegals who settled here after the last amnesty in 1986.
In the meantime, deport any illegal any American policeman stumbles over
in the process of enforcing any law. This helps to secure the borders
because as the deported aliens land in their home country, they are the
message that there's no point in going to the United States without
being invited. As other illegals try to avoid catching the attention of
police, they help secure the borders because they will tell relatives
back home that in the U.S., illegals are always looking over their
shoulders, and suggest that they stay where they are and get in line for
the time when the U.S. government gets its act together.
My favorite speaker so far has been Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska. He suggested
a simple and logical three-part process. First, secure the borders. When
that is done -- and not before -- pass genuine immigration policy,
determining who we need here, and help them get here. When that is done,
address the illegals who are already here.
I propose that what we do with the latter would depend on how many
law-abiding prospective immigrants are in line. If it's not enough for
the jobs our businesses need to fill, we might keep some of the illegals
as long as they appear at an immigration center to fill out forms that
show they fit our nation's requirements and it can be determined that
they are not criminals or on welfare. If they pass this inspection, they
and their immediate family can stay. If they don't, they must leave. If
they don't show up, they are deported as soon as they come to some
This applies to illegals from any country of course, but I often think
about Mexico, with which I fell in love many years ago.
I hear some
Mexican activists arguing that part of the United States should be
returned to them, which puzzles me. If Texas, New Mexico, Arizona,
California, Utah, Nevada and southern Colorado had stayed part of Mexico
in the 19th century, they too would now be part of a country that
decided to be statist and corrupt instead of the capitalist success
story that the United States became; and their impoverished citizens
would still be crossing the (farther north) border to get to a land of
an earlier column, I noted that the Catholic Church had to take some
responsibility for Third World poverty because of its opposition to
birth control. But its long-standing hostility to capitalism, reiterated
last week by Pope Benedict, has done more damage.
Poor people who aren't Catholic will also have many children so that
some survive to care for them in their old age. With the welfare state,
they will be taken care of by the government.
But with capitalism, people can rise out of poverty and afford pensions.
But instead of supporting this freedom to prosper, the Church insists
that everyone share more; too bad so many of the countries in which it
has influence have so little to share.
Re-reading the papal encyclical "Rerum Novarum," it seems to me that the
Church -- like many politicians and probably most people who were
educated by either the Church or the union-dominated public schools --
never really understood the principles of capitalism, focusing instead
on its excesses.
From my old Webster's: "Capitalism n. that economic system based on the
private ownership of the means of production and distribution and their
operation for profit, under more or less competitive conditions".
Good enough for starters. But necessarily assumed is the freedom to make
decisions, and mistakes, to risk, to win or to fail, and to try again
without government interference -- aside from the necessary function of
protecting private property and the occasional arrest of a cheating
Absent capitalism, the government runs, controls, or over-regulates the
economy based on political decisions that have nothing to do with the
marketplace and which generally prevent people from prospering.
Tomorrow: What brings people north of the border?
The Salem News
Saturday, May 25, 2007
is spreading from Mexico north
-- Second of two parts --
I first learned about capitalism and communism when I
was an exchange student in Mexico.
I lived with a Mexican family that had a college-age cousin who fancied
himself a communist. I remember a party at which I was asked by him and
his friends about the American system.
A recent Catholic high school graduate, I knew only that communism was
bad because it was godless. I hated my ignorance, and when I got home I
started looking for an understanding of the American Way, eventually
finding Milton Friedman, Ludwig von Mises and Ayn Rand.
The latter, in "Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal," writes that capitalism,
in its ideal, never fully realized state, is more than just economics,
it's "a social system based on the recognition of individual rights,
including property rights, in which all property is privately owned ...
all human relationships are voluntary..." and "the common good" does not
mean the good of the majority takes precedence over the rights of the
Mexico never chose capitalism in either its ideal or its imperfect
forms, going instead for statism, including government owned or operated
enterprises, and European-style trade unionism. What a shame this is!
Jacob Hornburger of the Future of Freedom Foundation, who grew up in
Laredo, Texas, observing the huge economic divide between Mexico and the
U.S., writes, "The secret to rising standards of living and the creation
of a wealthy society lies in ever-increasing amounts of capital
accumulation, which can only come from private saving, which in turn
makes people more productive. And the less people are taxed, the more
they are able to save.
"Thus, the solution to the creation of a wealthy society is a
counterintuitive one: Prohibit your government from 'helping the people'
with welfare, education, health care, and regulation, and abolish the
taxation that funds such programs."
I think it's clear that Mexico doesn't have more welfare benefits than
we do: but after years of relative economic freedom, we have the
resources to pay for more social spending -- at least for now. So with
or without a job, many Mexicans are better off here than there.
Imagine if the United States had annexed the entire country in 1848,
created eight or 10 more states that would have prospered under our
constitution and economic system. American Mexicans would not be coming
north except as interstate tourists; and many of us would be moving
there now instead of to Nevada and Arizona. Wonderful climate, natural
resources, and more fellow Americans as friendly as those in the warmer
climates tend to be.
The United States, despite bad examples like Mexico
and France, has adopted too much of the entitlement
mentality. Some immigrants come here to escape economic stagnation back
home and are a welcome addition to our work force; others bring old
attitudes with them and should be sent back to the misery they left.
A good immigration reform bill will help our country choose the former
kind of new Americans, whom we desperately need. But politicians like
Kennedy, statists themselves, want more immigrants who will want the big
government, union-dominated kind of government they left, without
recognizing the reason they couldn't thrive where they were.
It's anyone's guess why President Bush and some Republicans support the
Kennedy bill, though I suspect it falls into the category of "do
something, anything, to look as if we are doing something instead of
sitting around like bumps on a log while the country is invaded by
One thing we could do is look at Mexico's own immigration policies.
According to J. Michael Waller of the Institute of World Politics in
Washington, D.C., the Mexican Constitution "bans immigrants from public
policy discourse. Immigrants and foreigners are denied certain basic
property rights. Immigrants are denied equal employment rights and ...
naturalized citizens will never be treated as real Mexican citizens, are
not to be trusted in public service, may never become members of the
Whoah, file that under "goes too far"!
How about this? "Private citizens may make citizens arrests of
lawbreakers (i.e., illegal immigrants) and hand them to the authorities.
Immigrants may be expelled from Mexico for any reason and without due
Clearly, a good reason to encourage legal Mexican immigration: some of
them are smarter than we are -- probably because without our
extraordinary Founding Fathers, they didn't get our 18th-century
economic and social system in the beginning, and have learned some
lessons the hard way.
Our founding fathers learned many hard lessons from European mistakes,
but we Americans have forgotten them, are not being taught them in our
schools, and are about to lose what we have to economic ignorance, a
growing entitlement mentality, and a totally irrational immigration
policy that the new bill won't change.
Wake up, America! The sponsors of this bill really do think you are dumb
enough to think it's real reform, and you have to prove them wrong.