May 15, 2006

Well, It Wasn’t a TOTAL Disaster (See Updates 2 and 3: Or Was It?)

Filed under: Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:12 pm

The President’s speech had virtually all of the predicted cliches.

And of course, as predicted, he said nothing about the 308,000 illegals in our federal and state prisons (representing about 20% of the total state and federal prison population of 1.5 million at the end of 2004), or the Mexican government’s active intervention in our legal process when illegals are either caught outright or found working because they successfully fooled their employer with false identification.

He came off as at least interested in securing the borders. Whether he means it, or whether those assigned to carry through with it will do it, is another matter.

I found myself very irritated with three things (bolds are mine):

1. The “Good People” Gambit

We must begin by recognizing the problems with our immigration system. For decades, the United States has not been in complete control of its borders. As a result, many who want to work in our economy have been able to sneak across our border and millions have stayed.

Once here, illegal immigrants live in the shadows of our society. Many use forged documents to get jobs, and that makes it difficult for employers to verify that the workers they hire are legal. Illegal immigration puts pressure on public schools and hospitals, strains state and local budgets, and brings crime to our communities. These are real problems, yet we must remember that the vast majority of illegal immigrants are decent people who work hard, support their families, practice their faith, and lead responsible lives.

Horsecrap. “Decent people” don’t “sneak across our borders,” “use forged documents,” abuse benefits that are meant for citizens, or take up 15% of our prison space. That, Mr. President, is a gigantic con.

2. The Employer ID Card

Therefore, comprehensive immigration reform must include a better system for verifying documents and work eligibility.

There’s one in place already. Employers don’t use it if they think the documents look okay, even if it’s pretty obvious that the person isn’t who they say they are. A simple requirement that employers MUST proactively verify the Social Security number of a job applicant against the existing database of SSNs or against the database of those with work permits makes this supposedly foolproof ID card (yeah, right) unnecessary.

3. The Marine Hero

Laura and I met a wounded Marine named Guadalupe Denogean. Master Gunnery Sergeant Denogean came to the United States from Mexico when he was a boy. He spent his summers picking crops with his family, and then he volunteered for the United States Marine Corps as soon as he was able. During the liberation of Iraq, Master Gunnery Sergeant Denogean was seriously injured. When asked if he had any requests, he made two: a promotion for the corporal who helped rescue him and the chance to become an American citizen.

On one level, this is a very heartwarming story, and I appreciate Mr. Denogean’s service to our country.

At another level, it’s maddening: How in the heck does someone enter the armed services as a non-citizen? If it takes forged documents, how “honorable” is that? And in light of some of the gang-related problems in the military that have occasionally surfaced, how much of it can be traced to non-citizen soldiers (not believing I just typed that term)?

Overall, the speech wasn’t a disaster, but it wasn’t enough. It’s up to the House to stand firm on border security as a precondition for taking any other actions, and to make sure that the vaunted work permit program doesn’t turn into a de facto open borders program.
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UPDATE: Michelle Malkin is much less than impressed.

UPDATE 2: Kim at Wizbang has a good cross-section of the decidedly mixed reax (links are to original posts) — Dan Riehl, Greg Tinti of Political Pit Bull, Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina at the top of Hot Line blog, and Hugh Hewitt.

Very significantly, Hewitt spun on a dime from fairly positive to downright negative after interviewing Clueless Julie “ICE Princess” Myers: “My interview with Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Julie Myers staggered me, undoing in a handful of minutes my confidence in the president’s commitment to border security first. Either the president’s team had not communicated effectively with sub-cabinet appointees about the fence, or the president doesn’t really believe in the fence, because Assistant Secretary Myers is clearly not a proponent of the fence.” Debbie Schlussel, call your office.

UPDATE 3: More from the same Hewitt post, as it is significant that a Bush cheerleader like Hugh is sounding the alarm:

Memo to Tony Snow: The blogosphere/talk radio callers/e-mailers are turning against this speech in a decisive fashion. They simply do not believe the Administration is really committed to border enforcement, and the spokespeople sent out to back up the president’s message aren’t doing that job. Period.

It is all about the fence. The real fence.

UPDATE 4, May 18: Freedom Folks“The president never called for a wall last night.” Given what Myers said, I don’t think so either.

UPDATE 5, May 18: FullosseousFlap is very displeased, and has a treasure trove of links at the bottom of his post.

IBD: Congress Has Left a Ticking Time Bomb

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:47 pm

This is from Investors Business Daily, from an editorial last Thursday:

IBD051106

To be clear, the time bomb goes off sometime in 2008 (just in time for Hillary to blame it on something else), because if investors lose confidence that the current tax structure will stay in place, they will slow down capital spending, which will slow down economic growth.

It’s extremely disappointing that there’s not enough will to make what is clearly working permanent, even when the supposed party of tax cuts and economic growth is in power. It’s doubly disappointing that if the political landscape is different in a couple of years, inaction alone would enable the bomb to go off. If things go right, the bomb squad should be called in ASAP — meaning November 8, 2006.

Don Boudreaux Explains Why Our Existing K-12 Schools Won’t Ever Deliver Desired Results

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:33 pm

In the middle of an article called “Crystal-Ball Truths,” Boudreaux delivers this great analogy:

Government K-12 schools, as now run everywhere in the U.S., will never excel at educating students. The reason is that each school gets its students and its budget without having to compete for them.

Imagine if, say, supermarkets were run the same way we run schools. Everyone in my county would pay taxes to fund the county supermarket system; each one of us would then be assigned one specific county supermarket at which we are allowed to shop.

Of course, once in our assigned store, all the groceries that each of us gets are “free” — meaning, we don’t have to pay for them on the spot. If the products and services supplied by the supermarket are of poor quality, we’re not allowed to switch to other county markets; we must, instead, complain to politicians.

The managers of the supermarkets will agree that their stores offer abysmal service and undesirable products; they will assert that this sad fact is caused by underfunding. We will be warned that only by paying higher taxes will we have any possibility of getting better supermarkets.

So our taxes will rise and funding for supermarkets will increase. But quality will remain poor — and the excuses offered by the government-employed managers of the supermarkets will remain that they need yet more funding.

This is why charter schools, school vouchers, and the like are needed to promote the competition necessary to deliver improvements.

Passage of the Day: Mark Goldblatt

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:30 am

At National Review, Mr. Goldblatt skewers the last leg of the objection to supply-side tax cuts (HT Brain Shavings):

“Yes,” liberals object, “but cutting taxes for rich people means that the income gap between, on the one hand, rich people and, on the other hand, middle-class and poor people, gets wider.”

Well boo-freakin’-hoo.

What difference does that income gap make in the real lives of the middle class or the poor? Are rich people hording baby formula in their custom-designed pantries? Are they pumping life-saving vaccines into their poodles? Are they driving up the price of yachts that middle class and poor people would otherwise be buying? Wealth is not a zero-sum game. If Bill Gates has $100 billion in assets, that doesn’t mean 100 exceptionally poor people must each be a billion dollars in debt.

To be sure, the tax story is more complicated than just income-tax rates. There are capital-gains taxes, inheritance taxes, real-estate taxes, etc. Each responds to rate cuts in a slightly different way. But rates and revenues never — I repeat, never — line up squarely.

Politicians of both parties, Republicans and Democrats, may well be driving the nation into bankruptcy — but they are doing it by spending, not by tax cutting. On the contrary, tax cuts are one of the few things that actually generate revenue which minimally offsets the spending orgy.

Here’s the deal: Enable the rich to get richer by cutting their tax rates, collect more taxes from them in the process of their doing more with their money, and in the process make everyone better off with a stronger economy and higher incomes. Who wouldn’t take that deal? Only someone stuck on class envy and collectivism.

Two Illegal Immigration Topics President Bush Won’t Talk About Tonight

Filed under: Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:45 am

Go here for my review of the President’s speech.
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Illegals in Prison

Sometimes, dry and bureuacratic reports can be revealing. This is one of those times. A PDF report (HTML abstract here) from the Government Accountability Office with the understated title “Information on Certain Illegal Aliens Arrested in the United States” (HT Newsbeat1 via Instapundit) looked at a broad cross-section of illegals in the prison population.

This excerpt from the abstract reads like law enforcement’s worst nightmare, probably because it is (broken into paragraphs by me):

In our population study of 55,322 illegal aliens, we found that they were arrested at least a total of 459,614 times, averaging about 8 arrests per illegal alien. Nearly all had more than 1 arrest. Thirty-eight percent (about 21,000) had between 2 and 5 arrests, 32 percent (about 18,000) had between 6 and 10 arrests, and 26 percent (about 15,000) had 11 or more arrests.

Most of the arrests occurred after 1990. They were arrested for a total of about 700,000 criminal offenses, averaging about 13 offenses per illegal alien. One arrest incident may include multiple offenses, a fact that explains why there are nearly one and half times more offenses than arrests. Almost all of these illegal aliens were arrested for more than 1 offense. Slightly more than half of the 55,322 illegal aliens had between 2 and 10 offenses.

About 45 percent of all offenses were drug or immigration offenses. About 15 percent were property-related offenses such as burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and property damage. About 12 percent were for violent offenses such as murder, robbery, assault, and sex-related crimes. The balance was for such other offenses as traffic violations, including driving under the influence; fraud–including forgery and counterfeiting; weapons violations; and obstruction of justice.

Eighty percent of all arrests occurred in three states–California, Texas, and Arizona. Specifically, about 58 percent of all arrests occurred in California, 14 percent in Texas, and 8 percent in Arizona.

I’m afraid the answer to the perfectly logical question “Why can’t these people be deported?” is that their home country won’t incarcerate them, and they’ll be right back here faster than you can say “free to victimize again.”

This is just one more reason why the House’s insistence on stopping the inflow of illegals with a wall cannot be bargained away. It’s also one more reason why President Bush and the amnesty-lite crowd won’t discuss it — it makes them look like fools for allowing this situation, which admittedly predates the current administration, to further deteriorate for five more years. The September 11 attacks should have ended any doubt about whether controlling the borders is important, yet the president has dithered.

Mexican consular presence in the US

Michelle Malkin’s entry on Friday about how the Mexican consulate in Indianapolis is assisting the 76 illegals associated with Fischer Homes who were arrested in Northern Kentucky last week caused a little alarm bell to go off.

I mean, Indianapolis? How many consulates does Mexico have in the US anyway?

Would you believe at least 48?

That’s right. This link lists 45, plus four in Canada. The list includes 11 locations in Texas, 10 in California, 4 in Arizona, and two in North Carolina(!). But I found three more through directory lookups: Las Vegas, NV; Richmond, VA; and the Indianapolis office just mentioned, which occupies downtown real estate within walking distance of the RCA Dome:

Mexindy

There may of course be others I did not find. Based on my limited reviews of directory results, I believe that very few countries have any more than a half-dozen consulates outside of the Metro Washington, DC area, and most of those tend to be associated with the presence of a major multinational firm based in the home country.

So why does a dirt-poor country (correction: “mostly dirt-poor” — See Comments 9 and 10 below) with a limited multinational business presence need at least 48 consulates in this country, except to facilitate life for their citizens who are here illegally, and to defend the prison population discussed earlier in this post?

The question at Michelle’s post mentioned above stands: “Who’s Running America?” Maybe that question is what we’ll finally get an answer for tonight.
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UPDATE: Japan appears to have eight consulates in the US in addition to Washington. Britain, Korea, and Mainland China, the others I would expect to have a high presence mostly based on trade, have twelve and ten, and six, respectively, including Washington.

UPDATE 2: Hanky time begins — This Cincinnati Enquirer piece on Hispanics in Florence, Kentucky, portrays many as cowering in fear inside their homes. To those here illegally: What part of “illegal” don’t you understand? To those here legally: If you have any fear, your illegal “brethren” are causing it. Update 2A: It’s the lead story in the print edition (“Raids Fill Hispanics with Fear”).

UPDATE 3: Welcome to Michelle Malkin readers!

UPDATE 4: That ever-alert “S.O.B.er” Porkopolis catches the Enquirer in PC-language overdrive. The 76 arrested last week are NOT “allegedly undocumented immigrants” as the article describes them — They are, as ICE has stated, “illegal alien workers.”

For those who do enter the country illegally, earning permanent, legal residency is nearly impossible.

That should be obvious, but I fear that tonight we will learn that the statement is untrue.

UPDATE 5: Unabashedly Unhyphenated has an exhaustive pre-speech predix roundup.

UPDATE 6: I am told that the various Mexican consulates (i.e., the Mexican government) generally pay the legal fees of those arrested as illegal aliens.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ-Life Links (051506)

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:53 am

Free Links:

  • “S.O.B.er” Black Swamp Conservative has an important piece on the “controversy” over media access to the names of concealed-carry permit holders. Second Amendment-despising reporters are using existing law to publish the names of all permit holders, which in essence busts the “concealed” nature of the permit, violates the privacy of holders, and tells criminals by process of elimination where to go to commit their crimes, i.e., somewhere else. This makes everyone less safe. Ohio law must be changed to restrict access to those with narrow, need-to-know reasons.
  • “S.O.B.er” Steve has a great post on how some predictions over the years have panned out. It ought to cause a bit more humility on the part of the predictors and more reluctance on the part of the people to trust in the government to plan our future.
  • This is a good morning for S.O.B. linkovers — Porkopolis has a special bulletin about the president announcing “a comprehensive plan to detect, deter and defend against attacks on our critical infrastructures — our power systems, water supplies, police, fire and medical services, air traffic control, financial services, telephone systems and computer networks…” I am very glad the president made that announcementPresident Clinton, that is, in 1998.
  • Trade Gap Narrows in March (HT from a Weapons of Mass Discussion e-mail) — The really good news here is that it narrowed largely because of an increase in our exports.
  • The two major bankrupt airlines are not getting any healthier in bankruptcy — Delta lost $2.1 billion in its most recent quarter, though it say “only” $356 million after bankruptcy- and reorganization-related items. This is on the heels of NWA’s analogous losses of $1.1 billion and “only” $129 million, respectively.
  • Overplayed story of last weekThe early-May drop in consumer sentiment as reported by the University of Michigan, which was really a self-fulfilling prophecy. The press has virtually ignored the good economic news of the past couple of months in favor of hyping and griping about gas prices. The consumer sentiment plunge shows that if you have enough negative reporting, it gets results.
  • Underplayed story of last week — Small business optimism as reported by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) rebounded (bold is mine): “More owners reported plans to increase employment and capital outlays in April, and expected higher sales and better economic conditions in the months ahead — with the number of owners expecting improvements in the economy eclipsed by those saying ‘it can’t get better than it is now,’ according to the NFIB.”

Positivity: Man Rescued from Car Moments Before It Explodes

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:01 am

It was that dramatic:

May 5, 2005

Some daring rescuers pulled a man to safety just seconds before a car went up in flames early Friday morning on the corner of Home Avenue and Kilmer in Dayton.

The victim had been trapped in the car after the driver crashed into a concrete bridge support. Witnesses said the driver got out, but a man in the passenger seat was trapped. What’s more, the car was on fire.

People from the nearby motorcycle club ran out to help. One of the rescuers, Jesse Brown, said they managed to drag the man away from the vehicle, and seconds later the whole car exploded.

“I’ve never in my life seen a person pinned in a car like that. The hood of the car was down on his head, and he was in the car, like folded in the car. I don’t know. It was unbelievable. It was really unbelievable,” Brown recalled.

Police said the passenger was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The driver was listed in fair condition.