Friday, May 28, 2010

Arizona = Baghdad with Better Tacos

The amount of illegal immigrants in our country is a problem. That I do not disagree with. I'm always wary of supporting the government's ability to monitor citizens, but illegal immigrants work in an essentially black economy, which is a bad thing. They do not pay taxes, but they are able to use various government services (although these would probably be free to them anyway through welfare).

However, the solution to the economic issue is precluded by animosity and xenophobia that underlies most of the economic arguments that people make. Immigration reform was never successful in Congress because it turns out many people (mostly conservative white guys) don't actually want the Mexicans to be here at all. If illegals were offered permanent and temporary worker programs, and perhaps a path to citizenship, there would be no reason to be illegal.

The common arguments seem to be that illegals "don't pay taxes", although the person making that claim often doesn't actually want illegals to pay taxes. The argument then becomes that illegals are "stealing our jobs" or coming here to commit crimes or, my personal favorite, coming here to "take advantage of our generous welfare state".

Except our welfare state is not really that generous, especially for the very poor. And it turns out that illegal immigrants don't cause crime to increase, either. It actually turns out that El Paso, presumably one of the most illegal-filled cities in the country, is also one of the safest in the country. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and her supporters seems to think that Arizona is some sort of war zone, but violent crime has actually been decreasing steadily there for years. Apparently the mere presence of Mexicans can turn a whole region into a chaos resembling Baghdad.

So the only arguments that you're really left with is pointless traditionalism, such as making people speak English, or the argument that they should have to pay taxes because they and their families go to our schools, our hospitals, etc.

And this is true. They should be legalized as either temporary or permanent workers, and then they can pay taxes and move out of the black economy, but this is never going to happen with laws like Arizona's. That law entrenches the black economy by making people even less likely to attempt to gain legal status after being here illegally.

There is absolutely no fucking logic to the immigration debate in our country and it's about time that people stop humoring what is fairly evidently racism. Why else would the Governor of Arizona refer to "illegal immigrant terrorist attacks" when her state is undergoing a steady decline in violent crime?

There is no excuse, and the media needs to call out this bullshit.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Different Types of Freedom

This post from Bruce Bartlett (who is no liberal himself. He worked for Reagan, Bush, and even Ron Paul back in the day) perhaps makes my point about institutions a little more clearly. At the end of his post, he says that Paul believes "that freedom consists of one thing and one thing only - freedom from governmental constraint".

This is why Paul would use the term "institutional racism" to describe governmental discrimination, when in fact "institutional racism" encompasses a lot more than just the government.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Here's an argument showing that Rand Paul is completely wrong even in legal terms!

More Thoughts on Rand Paul

To paraphrase Atrios, government regulates and provides for the existence of private business in all kinds of ways, so why choose the Civil Rights Act to rail against?

This kind of thing sure doesn't help anyone believe that your motives are pure.

Easy For You to Say

Adam Serwer at the American Prospect has a typically insightful post on the Rand Paul debate. I think a key paragraph is this one:

Paul would never face the actual "hard part" of his vision of freedom, because it would never interfere with his own life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness. Rand Paul would not have been turned away from a lunch counter, be refused a home, a job, or denied a loan, or told to sit in the black car of a train because of his skin color, or because of the skin color of his spouse. Paul thinks there is something "hard" about defending the kind of discrimination he would have never, ever faced. Paul's free market fundamentalism is being expressed after decades of social transformation that the Civil Rights Act helped create, and so the hell of segregation is but a mere abstraction, difficult to remember and easy to dismiss as belonging only to its time. It's much easier now to say that "the market would handle it." But it didn't, and it wouldn't.

Exactly. Also, as Serwer notes, Rand Paul kept referring to "institutional racism" in his interview with Rachel Maddow, and I think he's misunderstanding or misstating what "institution" means. As Wikipedia says, it is the "structures and mechanisms of social order" that govern a collectivity. By no means does this only describe government. Whatever channels the dominant individuals in a society communicate through are institutions as well, be it the Elks Lodge or the KKK or the guys who sit at Woolworth's lunch counter.

The point of this distinction is that Rand Paul's exclusion of businesses from the definition of "institutions" allows him to imply that they do not need to governed by things like the Civil Rights Act because they do not have the control over people's lives that the government does. But in the real world, these non-governmental institutions have an enormous amount of power in the daily lives of individuals, and they are quite resistant to change. Presumably free market fairies will fix everything in the long run, but the thing is, that never happened with institutionalized racism.

Meanwhile, Bill O'Reilly unintentionally illustrates pretty well why we need ENDA to pass.