Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Conservatives in need of an appointment with reality

I've been meaning to blog about this, but as I've indicated, my time has become more and more limited. Illegal immigrants have hardly done themselves a service with the rallies a few weeks ago, particularly with ridiculous claims like the U.S. is their land. However, they have company: conservatives are joining them in going off the deep end. I will criticize conservatives as readily as liberals, and so this is part one of a continuing series.

Mark Levin on his WABC radio show last Wednesday had another of his usual vitriolic nights. He accused illegal immigrants of taking jobs away from Americans, proving that, like Rich Lowry, conservatives need to shut up about economics and stick to pure politics. Levin's stupidest articulation was that illegal immigration labor is "redistribution of wealth." Wait a minute, who's redistributing? Certainly not immigrants, legal or otherwise. If I hire someone who will do a job for $5, instead of another who wants $10, that's not redistribution in the slightest sense. That's merely competition. There's no more "redistribution" than there is from Toyota to General Motors.

If anyone is redistributing, it's Levin and his new socialist bedfellows, namely the labor unions that Levin praised for being pro-American. That's a lot of crap, frankly. Like all other protectionist groups, labor unions don't give a damn about their country, only themselves. "Patriotism" is a nice disguise, though, for their desire to use government to force me to hire them, and at a higher wage than their competitors would offer. And now even a conservative like Levin agrees with them.

As I've said before, the true underlying issue in illegal immigration is freedom, but not the kind that people think. It's not the freedom of other people to come to this country. It's my freedom to hire whomever I want, free from coercion by government and labor unions. How can we call ourselves a free country when I can't hire someone of my own choosing?

Now if Levin was referring to government programs that use tax dollars to provide services to illegal immigrants (like public schools and emergency room care), that's a different matter. I've long since called for the complete abolition of the welfare state, not just for illegal immigrants, but for everyone. That way no one will have to worry about paying for the education of illegal immigrants' children, or their health care via emergency rooms. Likewise, no one will have to worry about paying for his neighbors either.

Levin kept repeating the phrase "the rule of law," but his usage does not fit its true meaning. He used it to mean that the law must be enforced, but "the rule of law" means no such thing. Levin is a lawyer and ought to know better. "The rule of law" means that the law is applied equally to everyone, as opposed to "the rule of men" where laws are applied arbitrarily. That's it. "The rule of law" does not require that a law must be enforced regardless, because cannot a law be a bad one, and hence need to be abolished straightaway? As Don Boudreaux so well put it:
Just because words are written on paper and subjected to hocus-pocus beneath a soaring marble dome does not mean that these words are truly "law," or even that the government officials who wrote and voted for them want them to be taken literally.
Like other conservatives, Levin appeals first to authority, not freedom. Yet he isn't calling for a universal application of the laws on the books. All he wants is that laws he likes are enforced, and laws he dislikes aren't. As a conservative, he'd oppose laws permitting gay marriage or abortion. And what if U.S. immigration law were changed to make it easy for people to enter? Would Levin be so gung-ho about enforcing the laws on the books?

I have believed in border security, by which I mean the regulation of people entering the United States, as a post-9/11 necessity. That is not mutually exclusive, though, with the entry of immigrants who merely want to work. Contrary to Levin's claims, there's simply no correlation between honest immigrants and the problems of terrorism and other crimes that do admittedly come from illegal border crossing. I've said before that if we issued ID cards and allowed people to come in who wanted to work, we can deal with the criminals and terrorists who'll still cross in the desert.

What of conservatives' new claim that 200 million people across the world want to come here? It is true on its face, but not in the way conservatives imply. Hundreds of millions do want to come here, but that doesn't mean they can. Even so, think of how rapidly the American economy would expand. Think of all the low-grade jobs that Americans would no longer have to do. Instead of mopping floors and digging ditches, they can design aircraft, develop software or design high-tech machines. Or are Americans really so uncompetitive that they want to hold on to the low-end jobs, because they aren't any smarter than foreigners?

Monica Crowley had a similar invective this past Saturday afternoon on her own WABC radio show. One description she used was "a class of people who shouldn't even be here in the first place." Who shouldn't even be here? Just who is she, or anyone else, to tell one person that he can be free, but the guy standing next to him cannot? Should not all people have an equal opportunity to immigrate? That would be the rule of law, not some bureaucrat's arbitrary decision that we want more immigrants who are engineers instead of dishwashers. And if we're so worried that an immigrant will consume more in tax dollars than he'll pay in, we wouldn't have to worry about that once we abolished the welfare state.

In the 19th century, many Americans felt the same way about the Irish and Italians as they do today about Mexicans. John Gambling xenophobically ranted on his radio show some months ago, "Go home! You don't belong here!" Citizens, even those whose own families immigrated only a couple of generations before, have always had the unfortunate distrust of foreign cultures "invading" and "taking over." It is a shame that so Americans believe that, because they only deprive themselves of what other cultures have to offer.

For a long time I defended conservatives against accusations of racism and xenophobia, but now I do think some really are racist. They're principally afraid of brown-skinned people who do back-breaking labor all day long for very little pay, scrimp and save every dollar, and live 10 to an apartment so they can support families back home. Conservatives are afraid of such people because they're willing to compete, and because they're so different from typical American culture.

Lately I have wondered just what is this "American culture" that Americans want to preserve. For example, one of my co-workers is originally from Missouri and lived in Oregon for a couple of years. She doesn't fit any cultural patterns that I can think of. What about the differences between various Caucasian ethnicities in San Francisco and New York? NASCAR fans in the south versus Yankees fans in the Bronx?

There is the problem that many immigrants really do refuse to learn English, but the fault lies with government that mollycoddles them. Government publications (like the White House website) in other languages only creates a moral hazard. Some immigrants have taken the oath of citizenship, as a news article once put it, "in their own languages" rather than English. This claptrap does no more than encourage illegal immigrants to forego learning English, thus depriving them of an improving future. Like it or not, English is the unifying language of the United States, and indeed much of the world.

Now there is also the very big problem with immigrant movements that seek to "reconquer" the Southwest. But so long as government does not steal from my paycheck, and as long as the Constitution is still in force throughout United States jurisdictions, it would not matter to me if Los Angeles became 100% Hispanic, no more than it matters to me that Harlem is predominantly black. It does not affect me while my rights to life, liberty and property (including the right not to have government coerce taxes from me) are intact.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Matthew said...

Your post while good has one problem.
How do we go about abolishing the welfare state? With the Republican government (please do not confuse them with Conservatives)? I think not. By electing democrats this election and in '08? Even less likely.
Government has created this problem. But the simple, dare I say obvious, solution to many problems facing America will not be accomplished by the spineless politicians in Washington.
Your post gives a great solution, however true Conservatives and Libertarians alike face the problem that handouts (Big Government) is how politicians buy votes and hold on to their power.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 1:47:00 PM  

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