31 May 2006

A nation of disregarded laws

When someone says something like this, they tell me that what they want is a nation of philosophies, not laws:

“We feel that is unjust, it is wrong, and it does not bespeak what America is supposed to be about….”

Then there’s the fact that it gets real dificult to talk about what America is all about if there’s no America, for all practical purposes, since there isn’t a nation without enforced borders.

Support your local trespasser

This will warm your heart, right after it makes your blood boil.

I couldn't have said it better

When someone feels or thinks about something the same way that you do and says about it just about what you would say, and in the way that you would say it, then you should let them.

"Only" fiction. Right.

As a literary scholar I am often intrigued by the sorts of things people will say about fiction.  If someone starts talking about the “message” of a particular work of fiction, oftentimes their concerns are written off as “making a big deal about fiction, for crying out loud!”

People who say this sort of thing also invariably think rather highly of themselves.  They really think that they’re smart.  They get it; people who make a big deal about fiction don’t get it.  Of course the only problem with this is, well, reality.  Very few readers of Ayn Rand’s fiction (e.g., Anthem, Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, We the Living) deny that her purpose his… more
30 May 2006

Coming soon: The GreatWall of Europe?

I have heard on Paul Harvey news that the number of Spaniards who favor some type of wall to keep out illegal immigrants from Africa has increased.  In case you didn’t know, Europe, especially Spain, has its own illegal immigration problem.

Show me the money!!!

My friend Meg, in response to this post, asks:

“So, when we return the land in the pristine condition in which our ancestors found it...do we get a refund?”

That seems fair to me.  If there is something illegitimate about our taking the land, even for money, and they want the land back, then they should give us back the money, which (again) comes to $554 billion in today’s dollars, adjusting for inflation according to the Consumer Price Index.

Of course, there are no doubt those who would say that no, Mexico would be entitled to all improvements upon that property.  But since those improvements, as we have been told (mostly by multiculturalists), constitute the destruction of a culture, those improvements must be removed.  And, as a consequence, we ought to have our money back, in modern dollars—perhaps at interest even, since we have been without the use of that money for quite some time now.  I suppose someone could assert that keeping the money might be something like punitive damages against the US for “taking” the land.  But one just has to wonder how paying the modern equivalent of half a trillion dollars counts as taking.  I don’t buy it—so to speak.

Moreover, one has also to wonder how people who criticize the US for their imperialism can assert a claim to land which was previously claimed by two empires in turn.  The claims of Mexico to the land in question was inherited from the Spanish, from whom the Mexicans gained their independence.  So, the land claimed by Mexico is land claimed by a European empire.  Interesting, isn’t it?  Well, some Mexican might say, that land was claimed by the Aztecs before the Spaniards came and took it from them, making it part of Mexico, since what we now know as Mexico was ruled by Aztecs and Mayans, among others.  Okay, fine, I say.  But that still remains the claim of an empire.  If the problem is “imperialism,” and “imperialism” is wrong, then why assert claims that can only be justified by an appeal to some previous empire’s prior claim?
26 May 2006

616 pages of "comprehensive"... oh, goody!

I still haven’t finished reading Senate Bill 2611.  It’s 616 pages long!

Normally I steer as clear as possible from conspiracy theory type thinking.  However, when I read certain congressional bills, I suspect that they are written to be as long and as tedious as possible just to make it as difficult as possible for the people to be aware of what our representatives are doing to us.  And when you read legislation you find the difficulty is increased because the bill you read has language like, “…such and such provision of such and such Title of US Code be amended as follows” and blah, blah, blah.  So you have to look up the referenced Title of the USC and read the bill in conjunction with it.  Aaaaargh!  If only I could find a way to make money reading bills.  Hmmmm.  Maybe I should run for congress.  But I digress.  (Incidentally, Title 8 of the U.S. Code, covers Aliens and Nationality.  Thought you’d like to know.  In case you, too, would like to try your hand at reading and understanding S. 2611.  Good luck with that!)

What I’ve read so far is not very encouraging.  So far I’ve read nothing to rebut Rush Limbaugh’s assessment of it as a Liberal Democrat-Moderate Republican attempt to destroy the Goldwater-Reagan conservative coalition in Congress by, among other things, creating yet another dependent class—the poverty-stricken illegal immigrants.  As Limbaugh put it:  “It’s got nothing to do with immigration, folks.”

I cannot at this point disagree.

Obscene profits?

This morning, while sipping my morning coffee, I heard that enquiry into the alleged price gouging by oil companies has revealed that what best explains the whole mess is supply and demand (see this New York Times report).  I know—I just know it—that there are those who are sceptical that supply and demand can have such a gross effect on the price we pay at the pump.

It’s easy to be sceptical; I’ll admit that.  But I learned a lesson in supply and demand—and its effect on price—just a bit over twenty years ago.  It’s a lesson that ultimately resulted in my becoming the rather die hard capitalist that I am today.

I was in Germany… more
25 May 2006

Look, people, it isn't amnest, okay?

Iowa Senator Charles Grassle identifies 10 flaws in the Senate immigration reform bill.  As you read them, which won’t take long I assure you, remember to repeat to yourself as often as necessary,  “It isn’t amnesty.”

Life in the shadows?

As we continue to ponder the advisability and the desirabilty of having guest workers let us keep a few beautiful images in mind. Remember, we don't want the spectre, in our country, of having to force people to live in the shadows of our society. It's just not right.

A cry for help, from the shadows. Posted by Picasa

Help us, Presidente Fox! We are being oppressed by the gringos!Posted by Picasa

Someday we will have to hide no longer. Posted by Picasa

Nanny-nanny, boo-boo, America. You could never do this in our country, suckers!. Posted by Picasa

If they're not criminals...

We continue to hear illegal immigrants and their fans complain that they are not criminals.  We also continue to hear that the immigration reform favored by the President is not amnesty because, among other things, it imposes fines upon the illegal immigrants.

Wait a moment.  If they are not criminals, then why are they to be fined?  And if they are not criminals then why the assurances that illegals are not going to be given amnesty?

And if breaking our immigration laws is not a crime then what is it?  Just a really big no-no?

Fox doesn't like fences

Visiting more of his colonists yesterday, Mexican president Vicente Fox told them that problems are not solved with walls because—among other things, I’m sure—walls only put distance between people.  As if that’s always a bad thing.  There’s another way of looking at it.  What’s that saying?  Something like, “Good fences make for good neighbors.”

Let’s say, for purposes of explication, that you are the owner of a suburban house with no fence around it of any kind.  Let’s also say that several of the kids in the neighborhood like to use your property as a shortcut to the park where they go and do whatever it is that neighborhood kids do these days.  One day you decide that you have had enough.  You’ve asked politely; you’ve flatly demanded.  But no matter how politely you ask, and regardless how vehement your demands that your property rights be respected, these kids insist on using your yard as their own private avenue to the park.  Even talking to the kids’ parents has no effect on the matter.  So you decide to build a chain link fence, nothing really big, just about four feet high, just high enough to keep cyclists out of your yard.  Now, let’s imagine that the children, and their spineless parents of course, object to this aggressive move on your part.  The children say, “We’ll still find a way to use your yard as a short cut.”  The parents say, “You know Joe,” (let’s say they call you Joe because that’s your name) “fences only put distance between people; they don’t solve problems.”

It is noted, Presidente Fox, that you are not here telling your people to get their law-breaking fourth points of contact back home and to respect national borders.  (We have read some of your country’s laws, so we know that’s what you would want our president to do if circumstances were reversed.)

Are there no fences in Mexico, Presidente Fox?
24 May 2006

"American" no more--and no less

So, the Michigan Board of Education is eliminating the term “American” from textbooks.  The attitude expressed by Board members and others is understandable when compared with the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s praise (in his “Ode to Walt Whitman”) of Whitman as the one who taught him (i.e., Neruda) “to be an American.”  Clearly, Neruda thought that there was something about being an American in which both he and Whitman could, and did, share.  I happen to think so also.  And I happen to think that at least one of the things we might share is a love and thirst for liberty.

Yes, all the inhabitants of this continent are Americans.  But Neruda wasn’t an American in the sense that American is used in referring to citizens of the U.S.  Neruda was Chilean, not American.  American is simply short-hand for citizen of The United States of America.  That’s all it is, nothing more.  (If it meant more than that, then I would agree that our calling ourselves Americans is obscene.  But I have never met an American who thought that we, and only we, counted as Americans in the continental sense.)  Even if we just use terms like North American or South American, these terms will tell us nothing about national citizenship.  Someone from Brazil may visit the U.S. and tell me he’s an American.  That’s great, but it doesn’t tell me which country he’s from, if that’s what I want to know.  He’s a Brazilian.  And if I tell him that I’m a North American that doesn’t inform him that I am not a Canadian.

Only a simpleton would think that our use of the term American to identify our national citizenship means that we think that we and no one else are the entire continent.  Of course the real purpose may be simply to use language to alter the way students conceive of their citizenship.  (Think about it a moment:  What would be the implications for national citizenship of saying, “We’re all Americans, after all”?)

Besides, the name of our country is, again, The United States of America.  What shall we call ourselves for short?  United Statesians?

Like many other things done by educators these days, this will probably make many people feel good about something.  They will at least feel good about themselves for being such inclusive people.  But it will do nothing to facilitate communication.

Note:  If you think my comment about the use of language to control or alter thought is unbelievable, then you may be interested in reading George Orwell’s 1946 speech, “Politics and the English Language,” as well as this Wikipedia article on Newspeak.

H/T The “Evil” Glenn Reynolds.

Zorro vists Aztlan

President Bush, among others, has repeatedly told us that illegals are here to work and that they want to be Americans.  That is why, apparently, they should be given some sort of path to citizenship and social security benefits, despite having crossed our borders in contravention of our laws.

Well, when Mexican president, Vicente Fox was speaking to the Mexican colonists here in the U.S. yesterday, he told them that they were an important part of Mexico’s economy (which is why I have taken to calling them colonists).  He told the colonists that Mexico loves them and misses them.  Isn’t that sweet?  All in all, it doesn’t sound to me as if Presidents Fox and Bush have the same opinion about what the Mexicans are doing here.  Our president seems to view them as future citizens, here for our economic benefit, doing those jobs that we supposedly won’t do.  The Mexican president seems to think they are here for Mexico’s economic benefit,  which brings me to my other reason for referring to the Mexicans as colonists.  Colonies have always existed for the benefit of the mother country, not the individual colonists, or even the colonists in the aggregate.

It is also interesting—for me—to note that President Fox kicked off a four day visit to the U.S. by addressing the colonists in Salt Lake City, Utah, who greeted their president with cheers of “Viva Mexico!”  This area is one of several places believed to be site of ancient Aztlan (on that subject, see this article).  I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.
23 May 2006

If we build it...

Go watch this video at the Freedom Folks blog. Even if it is, as someone suggested, a fake, the story it tells (to put it as Dan Rather might) is true.

At least one problem with any proposed solution

To the illegal immigration problem, that is.  That problem is multiculturalism.  Assimilation is a function of many things, one of which is education.  Much of the education that immigrants receive is done by public schools, the vast majority of which seem to be staffed by committed multiculturalists.  For purposes of simplicity, let’s define multiculturalism as the conviction that no one culture is superior to any other.  This doctrine seems so rampant as to warrant the assertion that (with some exceptions, of course) we haven’t done a very good job of assimilating native-born citizens.  With those same unassimilated citizens teaching in the schools upon which we shall be relying to assimilate all these non-amnesty-receiving illegal immigrants, one wonders just how satisfied we be with any “comprehensive” immigration reform which would not include banning the teaching of multiculturalism.

I haven’t mentioned the courts, of course.  When one takes into consideration what they can do with imminent domain law, one doesn’t really want to wait to see what they do with immigration legislation, especially in the hands of a Supreme Court the majority of whose members seem friendly to the notion of applying foreign law in the adjudication of domestic cases.

If you're going to say something, by all means do so

As a philologist, I enjoy words; and I enjoy studying the way that they are used or, in some cases mis-used.  I also enjoy studying logic, since words are often used (both properly and improperly) in argumentation.  With that apology in place, you’ll understand the following complaint.

Addressing the National Restaurant Association yesterday, the President said that we are making incremental progress in Iraq.  Now, much as I respect the President (though, admittedly, very much at odds with him on the issue of illegal immigration), he really didn’t say much.  Think about it: incremental progress.  Consider the definitions:

1.  Progress: with reference to Iraq, the meaning which best fits is probably “improving.”  So things in Iraq are improving incrementally.

2.  Incremental: The best definition is to be found, no doubt, in the verbal (as opposed to the nominative) idea, which is “To increase by steps.”

So, according to the President, we are making progress (i.e., “improving”) in Iraq incrementally (i.e., “in steps”).  Now consider my question:  Just what sort of progress is not incremental?

Why am I picking on the President?  This habit of speaking a lot of words to say, in effect, nothing much is precisely one of the reasons we tend not to trust politicians, isn’t it?

“But, Philologous,” you say, “can’t you see that all the President was saying is that we’re making progress in Iraq, but not with all the alacrity we might like to see.”

Yes.  And that—or something like it—is exactly what he should have said, because that would be something.  One of the things upon which I agree with Rush Limbaugh is that words mean things.  (And I’m sure that I believed that before he did.  But I don’t have a radio talk show.)  If one is trying to say something and mean something, then one must find the words which mean what one wants to mean when he is speaking.  Otherwise, one runs the risk of sounding like just another gas-filled politician.
22 May 2006

Presidential non sequitur

Just heard, during a news break, a clip of the President expressing concern over the “tone” of the illegal immigration debate and repeating, yet again, that we are a nation of immigrants.  Much as I respect the President, I grow weary of his—and others’—reminding us that we are a nation of immigrants.  For the life of me I don’t know anyone who is arguing against immigration qua immigration.  I just don’t know who the President thinks he is giving this reminder.

We are a nation of immigrants; we get that, Mr. President.  But we should be a nation of legal immigrants.  But even if not, Sir, nothing you propose follows logically from your mere assertion that we are a nation of immigrants.  Are you saying, “We are a nation of immigrants; therefore we should see that illegal immigrants receive their (illegally obtained) Social Security benefits”?  If so, then, Sir, please know that we see a non sequitur.  About the only immediate inference from the assertion that we are a nation of immigrants is that we are a nation of people—all of us, even “native” Americans—who come from other continents.

I wish someone would tell the President to stop reminding us that we are a nation of immigrants.  Those of us who are smarter than cultural elites think we are understand both that and the fact that our being a nation of immigrants has, logically, nothing to do with the justifiability of any of the proposals on the table.

Stop the Republicans before it's too late!

National People’s Radio reports that the FBI claims to have video of William Jefferson accepting $110K from a FBI informant.  This is what it has come to: not even those saintly Democrats are immune to the influence of the evil Republicans’ culture of corruption.  We have to get those Republicans out of Washington before they infect the whole Democrat party.  It’s a battle of Good vs Evil.

I have to stop now: I’m making myself sick.

Something else Dems aren't saying

Much of the reason behind turning a blind eye to illegal immigration has had to do with the necessity of filling certain jobs, especially jobs which—supposedly—Americans won’t do.  Clearly, this is favorable to business, corporate America, Bush’s and Cheney’s “rich Republican business friends.”  In addition to hearing no mention of “the children” (except, as noted, the children of illegal immigrants), we have not heard anything from Democrats about the benefits of illegal immigration which accrue to the President’s rich Republican business friends.  Are there no illegal immigrants working for Big Oil, or Big Pharmaceutical, or Big Farm, or Big Telecom, or Big Development?

More pro (illegal) immigration (non) logic

John McCain over the weekend, attempting to justify his non-amnesty amnesty (whereby, recall, illegal immigrants get to keep their fraudulently obtained social security benefits*):  They had the taxes taken out of their paychecks.

Now that’s rich.  We are supposed to pity them because they had the taxes taken out of their paychecks.  Next he’ll be telling us that we should pity the Menendez brothers because, after all, they are orphans.  (Never mind that they orphaned themselves by murdering their parents.)

Senator McCain, illegal immigrants would not be in the predicament which you have here outlined but for their own choice to put themselves in this predicament.  They have made their beds; now them lay in their beds.
*  The Freedom Folks have posted on the laws broken by illegal immigrants, and the penalties for breaking those laws.  Well, the penalties paid by U.S. citizens, anyway.

What Democrats aren't saying

As we all know, Democrats are more concerned about our children than we parents are.  All that that they want to do us is for the sake of our children.  It is interesting to note that there doesn’t  seem to be that same concern for our children when it comes to the issue of illegal immigration.

I’m willing to be corrected, of course.  But I haven’t heard the children talked about, except—oddly enough—for the children of illegal immigrants.  Those children I have heard much about.  Haven’t you as well?

Things that make you go, “Hmmm.”

The Strawman, again

Last week sometime, Lindsey Graham asserted that at least one problem with the idea of deportation of illegal immigrants is, among other things, that we want to criminalize the parents and grandparents of servicemen of hispanic origin.  According to Graham, “Thank you for your service,” we would be saying.  “We’ve criminalized your parents and are deporting them to their county of origin.”  Aside from the tacit assertion that, for Senator Graham, apparently, any serviceman of hispanic origin is here because his parents or grandparents are here illegally, a further problem with Graham’s logic is what happens if that logic is extended to other matters.  For example: What if the parents or grandparents of a serviceman of any origin were arrested for drug-trafficking?  Using Graham’s logic we should refuse to prosecute them for fear of failing to express proper gratitude for our servicemen?  Can you hear how awful it would sound:  “Thank you for your service, but we are sending your parents to prison for drug trafficking.”  How awful!  How ungrateful!

For one thing, illegals are criminals of some type, aren’t they?  Think about that for a moment.  They have broken one or more of our laws.  First, they crossed the border illegally; or, if they crossed legally, they have remained for far longer than they had permission to do.  Second, if they are working, then they are committing social security fraud and identity theft.  Most other people who do these things are criminals, why shouldn’t illegal aliens be also be considered as such?

For another thing, even those of us who see non-deportation as a form of surrender (i.e., we have been, and are being, invaded, and we can do nothing but like it) are not in favor of deporting those who serve our country—or their immediate family members.  But, of course, the line must be drawn somewhere.
19 May 2006

¿Somos amigos?

I had wanted to post something on this news story myself.  But Jake Jacobsen pretty much sums it up for me.

I will add this, though.  According to (Mexico’s) presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar, “Most countries want to bring their people together and tear down physical, commercial and cultural barriers.  “Anyone who proposes separating them is out of line. Walls are a sign of distrust, and that will never be the basis of a good friendship between two countries.”

He must be looking at a different map of the world than the one I’m looking at.  It doesn’t look to me like “most countries” want what he says they want.  Moreover, as a politician, Aguilar, no doubt knows that what most countries want, they want for their own self interests.  If it were to “most countries’” advantage to bring their peoples together and tear down physical, commercial and cultural barriers, then they would do so.  Here, the interests are a bit out of balance.  It is certainly to Mexico’s advantage for us to maintain the status quo.  Mexico can just keep trucking along, doing relatively nothing to create a strong middle class, upon which a strong economy depends, thus “permitting” us the privilege propping up their nonexistent economy, and trying to make us feel guilty, or “out of line” if we object.

Aguilar also says that “separating [countries] them is out of line. Walls are a sign of distrust, and that will never be the basis of a good friendship between two countries.”  Apparently, the moves of one nation (i.e., Mexico) to undermine the sovereignty of another is the basis of “a good friendship between two countries.”

Really, though, why should we distrust Mexico?  It’s not as if for years their history textbooks have been teaching their people that the U.S. stole the American southwest from them.  And it’s probably only the slightest coincidence that the people who have been told we stole that territory and moved the border, now traipse across that border as if we don’t have a right to enforce it.  And defy us even to try to enforce it.  I’ve said it before: friends don’t ignore each other’s borders.

¿Piensa que nosotros somos desconfiados, Señor Aguilar?  Pues, por nuesta punta de vista tenemos razón, hermano.

It's a red-letter day

The day should not go by without my mentioning that today, my wife and I celebrate 16 years of wearing full marital jackets.  That probably sounds like a strange way to put it.  But my marriage—for you Star Trek fans—is something like the union of a half-Vulvan-half-Klingon (that would be me) to a full-blooded human female.  The battle rages ever so sweetly on.  Kai!  Tai-kleon!  (Well of course I know some Klingonaase.  I have this thing about languages.  And no, I am not one of those losers who go round speaking it to people.)

For you non-Star Trek fans, well, I have little to say to pataqi.  Actually, I should reserve use of that epithet to politicians of a certain (yellow) stripe,  gagnyi tokhi straavi.*

If the rest of my life goes by as quickly as the last 16 years, I’ll be dead soon, and on my way to Stovokor, to the real Kahless.  Kaplah!!!

Okay.  No more Klingonaase.  I promise.

Happy anniversary, “Philologea.”
* “Damned willing slaves.”  To called a willing slave is a huge insult to Klingons.

A little R&R

In the midst of all the present chaos, confusion, trouble and tumult take a few moments to relax, take a deep breath and ponder deep thoughts with me.

You know how some people name their children after seasons of the year?  What if we named them after seasons of the day?  A friend of mine, whose last name is Wood, once told me he plans to name his first-born son Morning.  (I don’t know what he meanst by that, but it sounded funny so I laughted.

Speaking of wood:  If your last name were Smallwood, wouldn’t you hate for your first name to be Peter?  Or Richard?  (Hey, with a last name like Lector, you can imagine what sort of things my classmates did to my last name as a child.  The wounds still run deep.  Hold me.)

If the past tense of beach is beached, wouldn’t you think that the past tense of teach should be teached?  If the past tense of lie is lied, how come the past tense of buy isn’t buyed?  Makes perfect sense to me.

Okay.  Back into the breach (the past tense of which, by the way, is breached, and not braught, that is, of course, when breach is used as a verb, not a noun—because nouns don’t have past tenses).

Unlike the rest of us...

…those here illegally can be rewarded for identity theft and social security fraud.  The Washington Times has the story about social security for illegal immigrants here.  You’ll love it, just love it—especially certain comments by Senators McCain and Leahy.

Okay. If this isn't amnesty...

Yes, I heard correctly.  From the transcript at Radio Blogger of Hugh Hewitt’s interview of Mark Steyn (and with reference to this previous post):

Hugh Hewitt:  Today, [the Senate] voted to extend full social security benefits for contributions made while working illegally in the United States.

Now, in fairness, this is a move by legislators, not the President.  But since the President hasn’t made it a habit to veto much (and that’s putting it gently) I think that we can expect this provision to remain intact.

But always remember: This isn’t amnesty.  It isn’t amnesty.  It isn’t amnesty.  Just keep telling yourself that.  As many times as you need to do.

Illegal immigrants engage in identity theft and social security fraud.  And the senate wants to make sure that, no matter what else happens, they get what they illegally have coming to them.  But remember:   It isn’t amnesty.

All the half-truths fit to broadcast

Reporting the not-exactly-the-news, is just in some journalists’ blood, I guess.  As I mentioned in my previous post, the House passed an amendment making English the official language of the union.  Just this morning, as I was driving in to work, listening to Denver’s KOA-AM radion, April Zesbaugh referred to it as the latest in the “English-only” debate.  Now, I listen to KOA-AM almost daily—when I listen to Denver radio.  I know that April isn’t stupid; she knows very well that no one in favor of our union having an official language is at the same time in favor of having a requirement that only English be spoken.  What it does require is that people who participate in our political process do so in English.  Frankly, I don’t see the big deal: my family have been doing that for several generations.  Even today, I take a sick pleasure in saying, “Speak to me in English, please,” when those DNC and RNC pollsters call my house.

Now, it’s true that other nations have more than one official language.  The Swiss Confederation (a.k.a. Switzerland) has four: French, German, Italian and Romansh.  No doubt we have those here in the U.S. who think we should do likewise.  These are the sort of people who seem always to preface certain comments with, “Well, in Europe they….”  Yes.  Well, it’s like I’ve told my sister-in-law a couple of times:  If you want to live like a European there’s a simple way you can fulfill that desire without bothering the rest of us.

Now, I wonder why April, who certainly knows better, wants to call this an “English-only” debate.  I’ll hazard a guess: to motivate the uninformed but well-intentioned to oppose official English, by calling it English only.  (Really: who would seriously argue that no one be allowed to speak or write any language but English even in private conversation?  A few, perhaps.  But that isn’t what the rest of us are talking about.)  I would imagine that, having worked for NPR, April is quite accustomed to mischaracterizing and caricaturing Rightist positions.

When are these people going to learn?  We’re onto them; it isn’t going to work for much longer.

You know, it occurs to me that what we’re seeing here on the part of mainstream media is their Operation Nordwind.

English only.  Give me a break.
18 May 2006

And speaking of (non) amnesty...

As Glenn Reynolds puts it:

THE AMNESTY PROTESTS CONTINUE TO BEAR FRUIT: The Inhofe Amendment, which makes English the national language of the United States, has just passed the Senate by a sizable margin.

No, really, it's not amnesty

A speaker at a conference held a few weeks ago by a certain research institute I am afiliated with called me and my ilk to task for not being truthful about the President’s plan.  I and my ilk call it either “stealth amnesty” or “amnesty light.”  The speaker outlined the President’s plan and, focusing on the fines and the fact that the plan only puts illegals on a path to citizenship rather than granting them citizenship by fiat, insisted that this is not amnesty.  Now, of course, I and my ilk, insist that it is not full amnesty, but in the end the still get to stay.  They don’t have to go back to Mexico and wait there, like people from other countries have to do.  We can argue about that, I suppose.  But I just heard on Hugh Hewitt's show (he was talking to Mark Steyn) that there are those in Congress who want these illegals to receive, when their day comes, all of the social security which they “earned” while they were illegal.  So first, they are going to be fined or made to pay back taxes, or whatever.  Then, when they retire, they will get social security as if they had been here legally the entire time of their stay.  Now, unless I have just misunderstood, that is even better than amnesty.  I’ll have to double check (it’ll probably by up at Radio Blogger later) and make sure I heard right.  But then, seriously, it wouldn’t surprise me.

What John McCain pretends not to know

John McCain says that anyone who believes that a fence is the only way to deal with our illegal immigration problem doesn’t know anything about the human heart.

Now, this is precisely one of my biggest complaints about Democrats (even when they call themselves Republicans): they engage in so much logically fallacious reasoning.  In this case it’s the old Straw Man.  No one I know is calling for a fence along the border as the only means of border enforcement.  It is one of several necessary means of border enforcement.

If John McCain thinks that his opponents believe that a fence is the only means of border enforcement, then he doesn’t know his opponent’s position.

Any white guy will do

I heard on Sean Hannity’s show yesterday that a male student at a university which shall remain nameless (here) said that he wanted to see the members of the Duke University lacrosse team get tried whether a rape took place or not because this would make up for past injustices.  What this young man actually demonstrates is that, desite his talk of past injustices, he really doesn’t care about justice at all.  If a white guy injures anyone, this kid is saying, then the demands of justice can be satisfied by punishing any white guy at all, rather then the white guy that actually did the injury.  I used to say something like that your’d have to go to law school to get that stupid. I was really selling our universities short.
17 May 2006

Decadent? Well, tu quoque

Here, read this.  It’s fairly brief.  I found this quote worthy of comment:

"This plan to send soldiers is one more sign of the decadence of the American empire."

Those words were spoken by a Dominican monk named Carlos Amado Luarca, who works in a migrant shelter in Ciudad Juarez.

1.  Isn’t it a sign of decadence, Fra. Carlos, when people cannot exercise self-control?  Someone, somewhere in central and south America is having more babies then he can afford; so much so that there are, apparently, more people than there are jobs.  How has this come about?  It has come about because people who clearly, given economic realities in central and south America, who cannot afford to have families, are having them anyway.  Isn’t being that sexually out of control also a sign of decadence?  And if you want to say that we Americans are also sexually out of control but we just kill our babies rather than having them I will just say two things:  (1) you are already convinced of our decadence by the fact that we want to put troops on our borders; (2) having babies in countries which cannot support them cannot be very much superior to our not having them.  So, Fra. Carlos, we are decadent.  Fine.  But so are you, just differently so.  (For the record: I do just happen to believe that my country’s easy sexuality and abortion-on-demand is a sign of our decadence.  But I deny that it is illegitimate for a nation to demand respect for its borders.  Certainly it is not a sign of decadence that it do so.)

2.  Now, Fra. Carlos let’s talk about the Mexican Constitution—yet again.  You think it a sign of our decadence that we are sending troops to protect our border.  You must be unaware of this provision of Mexico’s constitution:

Foreigners are those who do not possess the qualifications set forth in Article 30. They are entitled to the guarantees granted by Chapter I, Title I, of the present Constitution; but the Federal Executive shall have the exclusive power to compel any foreigner whose remaining he may deem inexpedient to abandon the national territory immediately and without the necessity of previous legal action.  (Constitution of the United Mexican States, Title I, Chapter 3, article 33, bold, italics and underlining mine.)

Do not waste your breath, Fra. Carlos, trying to tell me that Vicente Fox would not do the same thing to illegal immigrants from the US, persuant to this provision of his constitution, if the present situation were reversed.  Yes, this provision refers specifically to removing people, not keeping them out.  But if the Mexican government determined that any North American’s being in Mexico was “inexpedient” then, logically, the next move would be to keep Americans from coming into the country in the first place.  And if the Mexican president had to enforce that determination by military means he would certainly do so.

3.  I happen to think it a sign of decadence when people enter a nation illegally and then demand from that nation’s government rights which their own governments would not grant to others in the same circumstances.

Good? Maybe, but...

Josue Sierra calls this article by Dick Morris “good.”  In part, I agree.  But I did have a problem with two elements in Morris’s article, so I left a comment here.
16 May 2006

More on S.2611

Mike Rosen, KOA-AM Denver today interviewed Robert Rector, author of the Heritage Foundation study I mentioned  previously.  Rector told Rosen that S.2611 is “a stealth open border law” and its proponents are trying to ram it through.  He also said that this legislation, if passed as is, will permit  100,000,000 legal immigrants over the next 20 years.  As I read through Rector’s analysis—and portionsof the Senate Bill itself—I continue to just be shocked.  The purpose of this legislation must be to increase the size of the welfare state and, thereby, the entitlement class.  Idon’t really know that, of course.  But I’m at a loss to see the purpose of this sort of legislation.

Now, keep in mind that S.2611 doesn’t contain language to effect that it will do what Rector says it will do.  Rector’s figures are the results of mathematics which are based on what I think are reasonable assumptions.  I also think that his estimates are CONSERVATIVE.  

Fro the sake of full disclosure:  Did I mention that I haven’t finished reading Rector’s analysis or the bill itself?

UN help is on the way!!!


Attention people of the Darfur region of Sudan!  Your serpentine salvation is at hand!  There shall be peace in your time!  Oh, happy day!  The UN has passed a peacekeeping resolution, written under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which means it can be enforced with punitive measures and possibly even military force.  You know what that means, don’t you?

Nothing much really.  We all know how, uh, resolute, the UN is about enforcing its resolutions.  Anyone remember UN Res. 1441?

Yes, I’m sure those Sudanese evil-doers are quaking in their little UN-fearing booties.

"Underwhelmed" would be an understatement

If you were encouraged by anything you heard during the President’s speech last night, then you should read this transcript of Hugh Hewitt’s interview with Julie Meyers.

HH: If fencing is the best way to stop them at the border, why don't we have a plan laid out for that?
JM: Well, you know, I don't think we think that fencing is the best way to stop them on the border. I think the President's called for...if you build a fence, they build a tunnel. We just saw that today. There was another tunnel destroyed, another, excuse me, another tunnel found over in the San Diego area. So you can't...given the kind of the layout of our land, I believe it's the President's view, it's the border patrol's view, that a fence alone is not enough. We need a layered approach that includes surveillance, personnel, technology. We are working with the military to make sure we have the best technology. And some places, a fence may be very effective, but some places, it's simply not.

To be fair, the President did not say that a fence alone is enough to secure the border. But if, as Ms. Meyers claims, we build a fence then they build a tunnel, there would be little point to building a fence. Like Hewitt, I too am “underwhelmed.”

Hewitt’s interview with Mark Steyn was also enlightening and, thus, also not encouraging; and that is putting it midly.

I've been through U.S. immigration as a participant. And what everybody tells you is that Congress and the President can announce things as often as they want, and Congress can pass laws on it as much as they want. They can pass particular programs. A couple of years back, they determined there was a need for a particular type of business category, and Congress passed a law for it. And it just sat on the desk of the relative immigration agency. The reality of U.S. immigration is that basically, you've got a lot of different...every single border guard and border post is operating a free-lance immigration policy. The border post at Pittsburgh-New Hampshire is unmanned two-thirds of the day. The border post on the Manitoba-Minnesota border is on the honor system. It's open 24 hours a day. You pull up there and there's a video phone and there's a sign saying please check in on the video phone. And 60% of the time, the video phone doesn't work. So you have to ask yourself are these people, the ones who regardless of what the President and Congress says, seriously going to enforce anything he requires anyway?

During the course of his speech, the President asserted that we are a nation of laws. Steyn’s testimony about the two border posts he mentioned, seems to indicate otherwise.

Nation of laws. Right.

One of the most (and there were many) disappointing moments in last night’s speech was, “Some in this country argue that the solution is to deport every illegal immigrant and that any proposal short of this amounts to amnesty. I disagree. It is neither wise nor realistic to round up millions of people, many with deep roots in the United States, and send them across the border.” In other words: “No matter what we do, we can really do nothing meaningful, or effective, about this invasion. We need to accept it: they are here and we are powerless to do anything about it. We just need to deal with it.”

No matter what else he said last night, President Bush told the world that we are unable, perhaps even unwilling, to protect and to defend our borders. [UPDATE: And, as Reuters reports, illegals have gotten that message loud and clear. Said Roger Nahun about the "militarization" of the border: "It is not going to stop [us], because the United States is where the money is." Nahun spoke as he prepared to enter the river himself!!!

In the past, I have rejected the notion that the President is in anyone’s pocket, even the pockets of Big Oil. But his refusal to take a strong position on illegal immigration (which, let’s face it, is just a comforting euphemism for invasion) makes me wonder. Really: Who does have him?

Now, in all fairness, the President is not the Dictator; he’s an executive. He may only recommend legislation. One could argue that he has recommended the strongest legislation he thinks he is going to get from this Congress. Still: He could have started much stronger and negotiated down; or at least started strong and then signed whatever came out of Congress. After all, what has the President vetoed?

Like Red Sky Brothers, I’ll be doing my own point by point commentary on the President’s Speech
15 May 2006

Heritage Foundation: "Not encouraging" would be high praise

During my lunch break today, I’m planning to read a Heritage Foundation analysis of the Senate immigration reform bill ( i.e., the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (  CIRA, S.2611).  I’ve already read parts of it.  Just on the basis of the first two paragraphs, I am getting even angrier about matters immigration than I have been thus far.  And I’ve been pretty angry for some time.  And my immediate family members will tell you that, unless super-stressed, I rarely get emotional about anything.

I just do not understand what is so difficult to grasp about the concept that national borders ought to be respected, that a nation has the right (and, to its citizens, the obligation) to enforce national borders, that nations (no less than property-owning individuals) have the right to decide who gets to come in, why, and how long they can stay before being asked to leave.  The President insists on calling the United States and Mexico “friends.”  Well, my friends respect my property rights; you could very well say they respect my borders.  If I had a friend who was a friend to me in the way that Mexico is a “friend” to the United States, I’d cut him loose.

If enacted, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (CIRA, S.2611) would be the most dramatic change in immigration law in 80 years, allowing an estimated 103 million persons to legally immigrate to the U.S. over the next 20 years—fully one-third of the current population of the United States.
Much attention has been given to the fact that the bill grants amnesty to some 10 million illegal immigrants. Little or no attention has been given to the fact that the bill would quintuple the rate of legal immigration into the United States, raising, over time, the inflow of legal immigrants from around one million per year to over five million per year. The impact of this increase in legal immigration dwarfs the magnitude of the amnesty provisions.

This analysis is a must read.
12 May 2006

All we are saying...

…is, “Give slavery another chance!”

I was perusing Freedom Folks blog early this morning, something I still am not doing often enough. I read this post on why politicians are so keen on extending amnesty to illegal immigrants. It is an insightful post on the question, well worth the read—and short. Here’s a relevant sample:

Another example were the years following the civil war. Blacks begn [sic] moving North and getting good jobs, their former masters were furious. If they couldn't have their slaves they would settle for keeping the black folks in what amounted to slavery. Local Democrats refused to allow black folks to be educated and preferred to keep them near and cheap for decades.

Of course, if amnesty is extended, its proponents (and the illegal immigrants themselves) will fall victim to the law of unintended consequences. When these illegal immigrants are no longer illegal they will not have to settle for the garbage level wages they are presently working for. Obviously, the “slave holding class” as FF call them, will need another shipment of slaves, who will work for the garbage wages that the present crop of illegals is working for. And, of course, this new problem for the “slave holding class” will be, in many respects, a bigger problem for the rest of us—but perhaps more especially people like John and Pat King who aren’t safe on their own property!
11 May 2006

Oh (Big) Brother!

"Are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved in al Qaeda?"  So asks Senator Patrick Leahy.  This because, thanks to yet another leak (thank you loyal Americans in the “intelligence” community), we now know that spy agencies have been secretly collecting records of millions of ordinary Americans' phone calls in order to build a database of all calls within the country.  In other words, these spy agencies are looking for patterns in an effort to identify possible terrorist operatives in the US by comparing called numbers with the known numbers of known terrorists.  It is not unreasonable to me to ask who in the US is calling the known numbers of known terrorists and which known terrorists are calling numbers in the US.  One cannot apparently expect someone as obviously


as Patrick Leahy is to know what information has been provided or what is being done with it.  This is a man who was kicked off the intelligence committee for…uh…leaking.

Like those who keep talking about immigration, instead of illegal immigration, alarmists speak of wire-tapping and domestic serveillance.  No one is trying to find out who you are calling.  We are comparing numbers here:  known terrorists phone numbers and US phone numbers.  There is a big difference.  You are not being watched by the police if, in the course of following a mobster around, they end up at your house because the mobster went there.  And you are not being spied on if, while on stake-out at the lair of a known mobster, the police observe you show up and go into the lair like you’re an old friend.

My Problem with Andrew Sullivan's Problem

This is another passage by passage response to some article somewhere.  This time its  Andrew Sullivan, “My Problem with Christianism: A believer spells out the difference between faith and a political agenda,” Time Magazine, Sunday, 7 May 2006 [cited 10 May 2006].

Are you a Christian who doesn't feel represented by the religious right? I know the feeling. When the discourse about faith is dominated by political fundamentalists and social conservatives, many others begin to feel as if their religion has been taken away from them.

Well, anyone familiar with the writings of the early Church Fathers knows that the relation between Christians and “political fundamentalism” and “social conservativism” has a long tradition.  For example, after the Christians “took over” the Roman Empire, homosexuality, though still widely practiced, was illegal.  Sullivan seems to think that Christians having an interest in the laws they live under and the government that runs their lives is something new and unusual.  It isn’t.  I’m not saying it is inarguably legitimate.  The relation of Christ to culture has been a subject of discussion since the earliest days of the Church; and there are at least five views on the subject:  Christ against culture, Christ of culture, Christ above culture, Christ and culture in paradox, and Christ transforming culture (see, e.g., H. Richard Neibuhr, Christ and Culture).  And  Sullivan’s  is  only one view.

The number of Christians misrepresented by the Christian right is many. There are evangelical Protestants who believe strongly that Christianity should not get too close to the corrupting allure of government power.

So what?  There used to be many Christians who thought that sex was something little more than a necessary evil.  That doesn’t mean they were correct.  And if government power is so corrupting that Christianity should not get too close (a ridiculous way of putting it), then why should anyone get too close?  And what is “too close”?  Probably, just closer than Andrew Sullivan thinks his opponents should be.

There are lay Catholics who, while personally devout, are socially liberal on issues like contraception, gay rights, women's equality and a multi-faith society. There are very orthodox believers who nonetheless respect the freedom and conscience of others as part of their core understanding of what being a Christian is.

Well “socially  liberal” can mean many things.  I am a devout Christian; and I also consider myself socially liberal.  I don’t believe in any contraception except self-control, but I hold that as an article of faith, binding only upon those who hold to the same faith; to me that’s logic.  With respect to gay rights, I agree that gays have rights.  However, because I believe that it is a prerogative of a state to define what marriage is, to decide that homosexual  unions are not heterosexual  unions and therefore that they are not to be called the same thing, I also believe that this position can be given the force of law.  The Christian, as a citizen has input on this matter, just like the non-Christian.  I believe that what women do should be a determination of their faith system, not government; I just am not familiar with a move on the part of any Christian to legislate “a woman’s place.”  (I also do not hold that “equal” means “identical,” which is what the left seem to hold.)  I am also comfortable with a multi-faith society.  I find positively offensive Sullivan’s intimation that we wish by political means to put down all other faiths but our own.  (There are numerous indications in Scripture that when Jesus Christ returns to this good earth there will be—HORRORS!!!—unbelievers.  It stands to reason, then, that Christians will always live in the presence of people of other faiths.  And here’s a little secret, Sullivan: Most, if not all, Christians, even us “right-wingers,” know this.)  One implication of Sullivan’s assertion that, “There are very orthodox believers who nonetheless respect the freedom and conscience of others as part of their core understanding of what being a Christian is” is that everyone, not just Christians, should stay the heck out of politics, or risk being thought of as someone who does not respect the freedom and conscience of others


Women's Clothing: a deep thought

I was in my closet this morning, gathering up the clothes I would be wearing to work.  For a moment, I stood in there looking over some outfits that my wife bought yesterday.  As I did so it occurred to me:  Isn’t “Sag Harbor” rather an unfortunate name for a line of women’s clothing?
09 May 2006

Of course it's not your fault: this is America

According to a California judge, as reported by Nanette Asimov, ("Judge Says California Exit Exam is Unfair," San Francisco Chronicle, Tuesday, 9 May 2006 [cited 9 May 2006]), being poor, among things, is a sufficient enough excuse for failing a high school exit exam that the exam itself can be declared unconstitutional because it violates the “equal protection clause” of the Constitution by virtue of being “unfair.” Unfair.  I have come to hate that word.  Allow me to critique the ruling, as reported by Asimov.

A judge in Oakland struck down California's controversial high school exit exam Monday, issuing a tentative ruling suggesting the test is unfair to some students who are shortchanged by substandard schools.

If finalized, the unexpected ruling would block the state from carrying out its plan to deny diplomas for the first time to tens of thousands of seniors who have been unable to pass the exit exam.

Judge Robert Freedman of Alameda County Superior Court said he based his ruling on the concept of "equal protection" and is expected to make a final ruling at a 2 p.m. hearing today.

“Equal protection?”  Is he kidding us?  The phrase has been used so much that it is almost devoid of meaning.  At base it means a law that applies to me also applies to you.  If I have to meet certain requirements in order to vote so must you.  If I have not been to law school and passed a bar exam and neither have you, then if I am not permitted to practice law you are not either.  Let’s apply this equal protection garbage another way.  I know a guy who would like to have gone to law school, but could not afford it.  Other, and lesser minds, merely because they could afford it, have gone to law school and are for that reason alone allowed to practice law.  Notice how the laws respecting the practice of law are” unfair.”  I mean, come on, the only reason he failed the bar exam was that he was too poor to afford to go to  law school.  It’s unfair to penalize someone—to deprive him of the opportunity to engage in work that he might enjoy—just because he is poor.  (The full import of this seemingly ridiculous point will be clear below, when we see how the issue of poverty is raised..)

Read more
05 May 2006

Hispanics opposed to illegal Mexican immigration?

You bet. Read this story. Apparently there is a group called Latino Americans for Immigration Reform. The head of that organization, Lupe Moreno, is a Mexican, and so is her sister, the vice president. (Actually, they are Americans. But we get the point.)

Here’s what LAIR have to say of themselves:

Latino Americans for Immigration Reform believe in the rule of law. As descendants of immigrants that came to this country in search of a better life, we recognize that immigrants are of great value to this nation. However, as a sovereign nation, we need to assure that the well-being and social needs of our citizens are met first. Adherence to laws, not circumvention of laws, needs to be enforced.

Darn straight.

LAIR have organized a protest at the President’s Crawford, Texas ranch. They are not some of his biggest fans, at least on the issue of illegal immigration.

It may go without saying, but LAIR are fans of The Minuteman Project.

Kudos to KNUS Denver

From my LP/OP somewhere in the State of Colorado I listen to radio stations from around the country (e.g., Los Angeles, Ca., Austin and San Antonio, Tx., New York, NY.) and around the World (Rio de Janeiro is a lot of fun).  (I have always loved radio.  When I was a boy, I used to stay up late, late at night with my old Satchel-Carlson—I mean “vaccum tube” old—and…. Anyway.)

The day after the Day Without Traffic Congestion (sorry, Day Without an Immigrant) as I listened to various news reports from various stations, each reported the protests of 1 May as protests in support of immigration.

But the newscasters of KNUS-AM radio of Denver, Colorado just about went out of their way to report those protests as protests in support of illegal immigration.  They went so far as to put a great deal of stress on the word illegal.  It was very heart-warming.
04 May 2006

Okay. I've got nothing on Walter Mitty, but if I did...

My alter-ego. The mask is an improvement, I assure you. Posted by Picasa

This guy here is the real deal.

Same guy, closer up.

Hatchet, Axe and Saw--revisited

Hearing more minimum wage increase talk this morning on my way in to work, reminded of a post I wrote last year.  Since my argument against it is roughly the same now as it was then, I am posting that one again, with a few revisions.

Sen. Kennedy and others want to increase the minimum wage again. Senate Amendment "To amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide for an increase in the Federal minimum wage", S.AMDT.44,  amends "A bill to amend title 11 of the United States Code, and for other purposes," S.256; see also Jared Bernstein, others, "The Next Step; the minimum wage proposals and the old opposition," Economic Policy Institute, 8 March 2000. One thing that bothers me about this is that these people do not have to live, or more especially work, with the consequences of raising the minimum wage. Of course that, logically, is not much of an argument against a wage hike. So let me offer two brief arguments against it.

1. The first thing that will happen is that people who actually work for minimum wage will work less; this means that, while their wage will increase, their actual income will decrease. Now, how can this be? Get your calculator handy: we have some math to do.

In another life, I was a restaurant manager. As such, I had three highly controllable costs: food, paper products, and labor. Forgetting the first two as irrelevant to our present purpose, in order to be profitable with respect to my labor costs, that cost could not exceed 16 percent of my adjusted gross sales. So, if I was planning my week, and I projected my sales as $32,000, then my labor cost was going to have to be not more than $5,120. To calculate the number of hours I need to schedule in order to reach this goal, I divide this figure (i.e., $5120.00) by my average hourly wage. (I arrive at this average by totalling the hourly amounts each of my employees are paid and dividing this total by the number of employees.) Let's say that this average wage is $5.90. Dividing $5120.00 by $5.90 I see that I can schedule no more than 867.80 hours. If I actually do $32,000.00 in sales, then I shall make my labor budget.

Let us say, now, that an increase in the minimum wage increases my average hourly wage to just $6.15. Using the same sales and labor budget figures, the number of hours I can schedule comes to 832.52. This means that I shall have to decrease the number of hours that I schedule by 35.27 hours. 35.27 hours!!! That's near 40 hours; that's almost one experienced, full-time employee's job! Now, am I going to let a full-time, experienced employee go? Not on your life. So where I am going to cut this 35.27 hours? From those minimum wage workers, of course. You know the ones: they just got a raise from the federal government. Their hours just got cut.

The only other way I can make my labor budget is to increase my sales, which I can do only by either increasing the number of people who choose to eat in my establishment (something I was never very good at, honestly) or by raising my prices just enough to cover the average wage increase I just experienced thanks to Congress. Of course, I'll have to raise my prices eventually; so will all of my competitors, who are having the same problem. It's just a matter of which of us will raise his prices first. Since none of us want to go first, all of us are going to cut hours from our minimum wage workers until one of us just has to start increasing prices. This problem will affect anyone who has minimum wage employees; and as employers increase prices to offset the cost of the hike, the benefit will disappear. And when it does, there will be more demands to increase the minimum wage yet again...and again...and again; and so on. And when the wage is increased yet again employers will be faced with the problem the solution to which "caused" the need for the increase in the first place.

So, the only way that Congress can make the minimum wage increase of any lasting value will be to forbid employers from cutting the number of hours worked. Not only that, but it occurs to me that Congress will also have to add a price freeze to the wage hike.

2. Another problem with artificial increases in the minimum wage is inflation. Now, I am no economist, so I am more than willing, with respect to the following, to be corrected, but only by an economist. (I will accept a BA or better, in Economics, as qualifying one as an economist.)

In 1983 I bought a pickup truck for around $10,000. If I had bought that same, or a comparable auto, in 2000, then, utilizing Gross Domestic Product deflator method it would have cost me $15,375. Here's a funny thing: when I bought a new car in 2000 it cost right around $15,500! So the amount I was charged for my auto in 2000 was keeping up with inflation.

Now let's look at the artificially (and arbitrarily) set (as opposed to market set) minimum wage. When I first started working, in 1982, the minimum wage was $3.35 per hour. It is now $5.15. Adjusting for inflation, using GDP deflator, that $3.35 would be the equivalent of $5.84 today. Clearly, this seems to bolster the argument for increasing the minimum wage. What it actually does is demonstrate the problem with setting the wage by law: the law itself is not keeping up with inflation. To keep pace with inflation would require new minimum wage legislation every year or so. As I've said, I'm no economist, but I think it’s easy to understand how automobile prices have managed to keep up with inflation, and how minimum wages won't if we let market forces set the wage.  Unlike the minimun wage, automobile prices keep up with inflation because those prices are determined by the market; and the market is keeping up with inflation.

Right now, the wage set by Congress is not keeping pace with inflation. So right now, that wage works well for employers. But we are being mentally lazy if we truly believe that a minimum wage can be effectively prescribed by law. When the minimun wage does go up, as it inevitably must, that new wage will not keep up with inflation.  It will be frozen in place while inflation increases.

This, I think, explains much of the problem with executive salaries. The minimum wage is meant to be a wage paid to unskilled laborers. The unskilled have nothing to negotiate over. Executives are not unskilled. When companies are competing for executives whose skills they need, those applicants are able to negotiate better packages than the relatively unskilled. And, unlike hourly wage employees, whose wages are a function of the minimum wage, executive salaries, like auto prices, are likely keeping pace with inflation. As with auto prices, I find it easy to understand how executive salaries—without legislative interference—are able to keep up with inflation, but hourly wages can't. Hourly wages for skilled laborers are likely kept lower than they might otherwise be because they are all a function of the minimum wage; executive salaries, because they are relatively unrelated to the minimum wage, are free to grow with inflation because these salaries are determined by the executive market.  Clearly the market does a better job of determining salaries than Congress does of determining the minimun wage.

There is another problem with the minimum wage. The last minimum wage increase (to $5.15) was in 1996, if memory serves. To keep up with inflation it should be about $5.95. But it isn't $5.95; it's still $5.15.  Executives salaries are not now what they were in 1996.  Now, let's say that Congress raises the minimum wage tomorrow to the $7.00 that John Kerry and others have wanted.   E.g., Paul Farhi, "Kerry Backs $7-an-Hour Minimum Wage," Washington Post, 19 June 2004.  That $7.00 will be ahead of inflation, which means that employers will be paying way the heck more by far than even inflation requires. It raises the question: If, after the minimum wage increase to $7.00, employers will already be paying too much for their unskilled labor, why should they increase wages for their skilled labor?

Minimum wage talk is a part of the whole politics of envy. It constitutes little more than a transfer of wealth. There is little difference between my putting a gun to you and telling you to give $5.15 to your neighbor and putting a gun to you to force you to give me $5.15 which I then give to your neighbor. In both cases, I have succeeded in robbing you of $5.15.

The whole politics of envy always makes me think of a song by one of my favorite rock groups of all time:  Rush.  (Hey, Greg Bahnsen liked the Beatles.) Here are the lyrics to that song:

The Trees

There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas

The trouble with the maples
(and they’re quite convinced they’re right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light
But the oaks can’t help their feelings
If they like the way they’re made
And they wonder why the maples
Can’t be happy in their shade?

There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream `oppression!`
And the oaks just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
’the oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light’
Now there’s no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet,
And saw ... .

Rush, "The Trees" (lyrics by Neil Peart), Hemispheres, (Mercury/Polygram 1978).

To my mind, "equality" sought--or enforced--by means of "hatchet, axe and saw" is fascism.

I still feel that way.  And who knows: With wages determined by a freely operating market, instead of Congressional interference, perhaps, with all other costs—no longer artificially kept high—being "equal," employers may be motivated not to undercut these articially high wages by employing illegal aliens.  (I’m not betting on it, of course.)

Whatever.  Just don’t overlook two things:

1.  The Congress interferes with hourly wages by setting a minimum wage; and hourly wage employees are unhappy and, apparently, underpaid.
2.  The Congress does not interfere with executive salaries—YET!!!—and executives are (relatively) happy and, apparently, overpaid.

Employees whose wages are set by the market are happy.  Employees whose wages are set by Congress are unhappy.  The market compensates well and Congress doesn’t.  It’s the sort of thing that makes you go, “Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.”  Isn’t it?

(Note:  My mention of Greg Bahnsen should not be taken as evidence of my being a Christian Reconstructionist—not there’s anything wrong with that, of course.)

About Me

James Frank Solís
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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