Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I wish this were simple

I belong to a couple of clubs. Like most people, I guess, I don’t much think about how the club is managed until my dues go up or I notice the food/service has declined or I come across people in ‘my’ club who don’t know how to behave. Then, when it’s really too late, I get involved.

I think the same principle operates in our relationship to our government. The folks in Washington get sent there – by us – and then they (for the most part) don’t hear from us again – or we from them – until election time rolls around.

Is it to be wondered at then, when these people go off and do as they please without any real regard for what we want? Should we be surprised when after doing as they please for so long, they resent and resist us when we do speak up and tell them, "No. We want it THIS way"?

The current immigration “discussion” is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. The average Congress-person doesn’t know what “the people” want – he only knows what his “Party” wants. He may be conscientious and try to understand what “we” want, but will likely be frustrated by the name calling and partisanship which attends every issue these days. So what’s a representative/senator to do? Since the only clear, consistent voice in his ear is that of his party, he does what his party wants. What his party wants may or may not be what the people want – and it may or may not be in the best interests of the nation as a whole, but since our representatives figure we’re not paying much attention anyway, why not do what benefits them?

When you hear people talking about immigration, remember that the problem isn’t “immigration” – the problem is “illegal immigration”, a.k.a. the situation on our Southern border. If you are confused by what you hear, you’re not alone. I, for one, can’t understand the attraction of the whole “comprehensive” reform idea. Why can’t we just secure the border first and worry about everything else later? When a 400+ page bill suddenly appears and has to be voted on in just a few days, I can’t help wondering what’s all in there. Anybody else feel like that? The following may help you to understand why some of what is happening…is happening.

The DEMOCRATIC PARTY wants unrestricted immigration and amnesty for those here illegally because the vast majority of them are no-to-low-skilled and will, therefore, have to rely on the government for assistance – which means they’ll be DEMOCRATIC voters.

The DEMOCRATIC PARTY wants unrestricted immigration and amnesty for those here illegally because it is very easy to look compassionate and caring and beat up on the heartless, cruel conservatives who don’t want unrestricted immigration and amnesty for those who came here illegally.

The DEMOCRATIC PARTY wants unrestricted immigration and amnesty for those here illegally because their UNION supporters believe these people will be a rich source of rank & file union members.

The REPUBLICAN PARTY wants unrestricted immigration and amnesty because their BUSINESS supporters know that these “illegals” are much cheaper employees than the average American.

The REPUBLICAN PARTY wants unrestricted immigration and amnesty because they don’t want to look the way the Democrats are portraying them, they don’t want to lose generally conservative people to the Democratic Party. They don’t want to surrender the fastest growing demographic to the other side.

The DEMOCRATIC and REPUBLICAN Parties both know full well that their political posturing and procrastination has made the likelihood of a “painless” fix to our Social Security woes impossible. Tens of millions of new workers in the U.S. just might stave off the demographic implosion that is coming. What about the other costs associated with these people? “Who cares?” say our friends in Washington. One crisis at a time, please.

The DEMOCRATIC and REPUBLICAN Parties have – probably – been told that to shut off the…faucet ( I almost said spigot, whew!) of these low cost workers would destroy several economic sectors here in the U.S. and severely damage several others. It is only too imaginable that a sudden loss of low-cost employees in the farm sector, for example, could result in a 30+% increase in wage costs (if replacements could even be found to do these jobs – remember, we’re currently at 4.6% unemployment – and most economists consider 5% unemployment to be FULL employment). That would result in a spike in prices - and competition being what it is, our farm sector could simply disappear. Now extend that to other sectors like housing and hotel/restaurant/leisure; if a price spike were big enough and wide-spread enough for long enough, it could tip the economy into recession – or worse. Politicians of all stripes know that if we go into recession and people start losing their jobs, they are NOT going to care what they said about immigration a year ago, they are going to want jobs. Additionally, the economic health of our agricultural sector can be viewed as a national security issue. Do we let our farms go under because we can get lettuce from Chile cheaper than we can from Chino, CA? What happens when somebody like an H. Chavez organizes a multi-national embargo against us? Do you think the Department of Defense would let our computer chip industry go under? Not likely, and food seems at least as important as computers.

The DEMOCRATIC and REPUBLICAN Parties may favor amnesty because to round up 12 million illegals would likely require a level of aggressive and intrusive law enforcement (and the funding necessary for it) that Americans would not tolerate.

It’s a tangle of political self-interest and miscellaneous issues which we aren’t supposed to be able to understand or know about. So, we’re left with no answers – and worse, we find that perhaps we shouldn’t have all the answers. After all, it’s only common sense to admit that it’s not wise to air one’s dirty laundry in public. A comprehensive public examination and discussion of ALL the issues involved may well be unwise when unfriendly ears are listening.

All I can say is that you’re NOT crazy. The dissonance you’re experiencing, the difference between what you’re thinking and what the Washington types are talking about originates in the items above – and many others I haven’t considered. The bottom line is that we are not being told the whole story. Right or wrong, for better or worse, they are keeping (many) things back from us.

It’s at times like this that I realize how important a job I have electing the people who make these decisions - and how frightening it is that I don't trust them to act in anyone's interests but their own.


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