Archive for November, 2007

Too Many Laws For Our Own Good…

November 26, 2007

…and too little enforcement of our few good laws.

This is going to be a long windy one, but it was inspired by “Illegal Immigration” debate, so we’ll pretend that is what it is about. 

To start with, I love the fact that I can pack my family into our car, drive across ten states, and start a new life elsewhere without much hassle.  Sure, I have to pay off my income tax in my old state, and start paying in my new one (and probably pay in both for awhile), and I won’t have full residency for ‘awhile’ but for the most part I have the ‘freedom’ to do this, and it’s something about the U.S.A. which is a good thing, and we should be proud of it.

So, if it’s a good thing inside the country, maybe it would be a good thing internationally as well.

So, one factor in the ‘correct solution’ to Immigration Issues, is to clean up our immigration laws so that nice people have a chance to make honest, legal, and fair decisions for themselves, without stepping on the toes of other nice people.  Note: this probably does not mean completely open Immigration per se, though I would hope it could evolve to that sometime in the future when, say, all of north and south america were happy friendly places with stable economies and legitimate democratic governments.  Which is sadly not the case today, not even here.

But does this ‘excuse’ entering illegally?  I don’t think so.  I don’t even know what our immigration laws *are*, let alone whether or not they are fair, racist, or even sensible.  But breaking them is just not the right way to start your stay in the country.  And it can’t be good to live as an outsider, fearing your neighbors will turn you in, staying subject to possible blackmail, being forced to work only for unscrupulous employers who are willing to (criminally) take advantage of you, merely because you are.. a criminal (in this one context, you surely are, no matter how sweet you are in all other ways).

The argument that “immigrants do the jobs which citizens don’t want to do” is also specious.  It may be true, but the way to solve THAT is to allow the USA to have a shortage of dishwashers (insert low-paying job available at criminal establishment here) and to realize that no current citizens are willing to do it, and then change immigration laws to allow dishwasher candidates to enter the country legally, establish residence, pay taxes, have access to healthcare, etc. 

The thought that there are MILLLLLLLLIONs of illegal aliens today, of whom MILLLLLLIONS have actually stolen social security information, clogged emergency clinics because they have no access to preventive health care, and created a hidden subculture which allows children born in the USA to not even have the opportunity to learn english (and, I’m sorry, cultural diversity is great, but I think a ‘nation’ works best when you also assimilate to its existing culture, which can then be augmented by your own, but you shouldn’t just hide in an enclave which forms some sort of illegal embassy, shielding you from integration/assimilation with your neighbors.) It is to your distinct advantage to learn the local language, and kinda mean-spirited to try to change the local language. I would like to think that if I immigrated somewhere (admittedly unlikely since apparently with all its faults, the USA is still the immigration destination of choice) that I would try to learn the local language, not insist that my native language be officially supported, but certainly be grateful when it was.

To wander a little more, consider the situation we see played out around the world where porous borders (or politically re-assigned borders) lead to a large community (say, kurds) who feel an affinity to their peers across the border, to a degree that ultimately warfare might break out between the two hosting countries.  I claim without proof that this happens a lot.

The USA history with Mexico is, I suspect, about as honorable as the USA history with native americans, and recent reading of the book “Brothers” has opened my eyes a bit more to fairly recent antics of the CIA which are not consistent with my idealized self image of my country.  So I don’t mean to imply there is a solid basis for either side having a strong moral underpinning.

I just think that the country I am a citizen of should be taking proper actions to help its neighbors achieve local economic stability and democratic rule of law, rather than just accepting an infinite number of undocumented workers and winking at each other.

Which brings me to democratic rule of law.  Democracy is broken because of the 51/49 reality. Our own elections show that we have managed to perfectly gerrymander our precincts such that we never have a definitive agreement in any election, and that roughly half of the voters do not have their needs met.  That’s not democracy in my book.

My naive concept of democracy is that a law should not be accepted unless it achieves the support of some signficant population of voters.. say.. 75%, 80%, 90%

I think the ‘good laws’ would get passed (no killing of people, please) and the stupid laws would not.  Perhaps we also need global anti-votes to prevent local votes for pork.  That is to say, if state X wants to vote for federal funding of a $10 billion bridge to nowhere, that residents of state X get 1 vote each, but residents of the other 49 states can lodge an ‘antivote’ of, I dunno,  0.05 or something. (If they want to use local funding, that’s a different deal)

And, of course, I would love to end representative government as a rule, if the internet somehow made it feasible to have direct participation.  Of course the masses (myself included) will continue to vote for their deluded self-interests, formed by local propaganda, so that’s a fundamental democratic problem which needs to be addressed as well… Something that forces people to, in some small way, act on behalf of the interests of all, in addition to their own selfish interests.

But perhaps that could be by ‘dynamically delegated proxy’ where I could assign my voting rights to anyone I wanted (well, anyone who offered to play the role of delegate) (and I could rescind my delegation during some time window, say, every 90 days, or whatever time period made sense to get a little stability in the system).  Anyway, so then I would declare myself (on my web page) as a potential proxy, and post my views (and later my voting record) and you could rummage through the available proxies and say “this one seems a lot like me, I will try them for awhile”

But failing that, when the time comes to elect a senator (for example), I would rather have a rule like “if none of the challengers can get 70% of the vote, then the existing guy gets to stay, unless he got a 70% anti-vote”  (ballots would be strange-looking, but rather than just voting for one guy, I would basically tick off “I want any of these three, in this order of preference, but none of the following”).  I suspect there is some math there which people could understand and which would do a better job of handling cases like “the democratic vote was split by Nader, so the republican won even though he had a minority vote count”  (or vice versa, of course).

Plus I am not particularly impressed with political parties, which like unions and organized religions, seem to exist primarily to consolidate power and boost their demographics at the direct peril of their competitors.

But I accept that the common citizen (myself included) is easily duped and persuaded to accept the quick fix with the biggest personal payoff.  So any political system needs to have ‘checks and balances’ to force some thought for the common good.  And it is completely conceivable that portions of the American Democracy actually work in that regard, even they it is not 100% effective today.  I am not a revolutionary… I am an evolutionary 🙂

Which brings up another digression into: why do we allow organized crime to write our prohibition laws anyway?  Have we learned nothing from the past? Are we corrupt, or just frightened? (I know I am frightened to even say ‘organized crime’ on the web).  Or are we just ‘pragmatic’?

Yeah, wandering text.. Anyway, we all want what WE want, and we want it NOW, and we think it should be legal because we WANT it.  We want guiltless abortions, and mp3 downloads. We want to not feel like criminals just because we invaded another country without permission.  We feel the privations we suffer in domain A justify our less than honorable activities in domain B.  Proponents point to a selfless criminal who is caught only because they stopped to help someone in need.  Antagonists claim that the one criminal who carried in tuberculosis justifies branding all others as disease-ridden.  I claim these are different domains, and actions within domains need to be evaluated within the context of that domain.

But the current immigation laws, like the current prohibition laws, do not address the root causes of social problems, and do enable vast criminal empires which result in much worse social chaos than the original issue they were meant to resolve.  In the case of prohibition, I cynically (and without proof) suspect that organized crime managed to manipulate the government as needed to ensure a highly profitable product, which then needs to be defended by some serious firepower and human suffering.  I’m not quite so sure who is behind immigration law snafus (businesses seeking low paid labor which can be easily taken advantage of?)

And I know this sounds stupid, but get the laws changed, don’t break them.  And don’t get them changed simply *by* breaking them and wearing down the resistance.  And don’t cave in with partial legalizations, like issuing drivers licenses to illegal aliens — how on earth does that make any sense at all?  Evaluate what you wish YOUR country were like, and establish a set of laws which truly make it that way. 

And that includes making sure your country isn’t a jerk overseas.