Although President Bush has criticized the group as vigilantes, Schwarzenegger said, "They've done a terrific job. And they have cut down the crossing of illegal immigrants by a huge percentage.''
Schwarzenegger, appearing on the conservative Los Angeles KFI radio's "John and Ken'' talk show, was asked his views of the Minutemen, who are using armed volunteers along the border in Arizona. The governor endorsed the effort, saying, "It just shows that it works.''
"Our federal government is not doing their job," Schwarzenegger said. "It's a shame that the private citizen has to go in there and start patrolling our borders."
Schwarzenegger, speaking to the afternoon drive-time "The John & Ken Show" on KFI-AM, also called on KRCA-TV to take down its new billboards.
The billboards, which Schwarzenegger called "extremely divisive," identify the station's market as "Los Angeles, Mexico." About 75 are going up around Southern California.
"I think the big mistake is that it promotes illegal aliens to come in here. And it's the last thing that we need," the governor said. "They should take it down immediately."
Arnie didn't move to California from Austria to become a Mexican.
Go check out a picture of one of the billboards. I think the billboards are great because a lot of people will see those billboards and realize that we need to slam on the brakes on immigration and deport the illegals. The pro Open Borders crowd needs public apathy to win. These billboards will tend to make people less apathetic and more angry.
U.S. Rep. Bob Filner, a Democrat who represents the district where the wall is located, is against the Border Patrol's plans. California's Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has expressed misgivings. But Hunter, Ed Royce and Randy Cunningham, three Republican congressmen from neighboring San Diego districts, are pushing legislation that would allow the Border Patrol to override the Coastal Commission's objections. It's part of a package of border security measures known as "Real ID," because it also contains provisions that would require states to produce counterfeit-proof driver's licenses.
President Bush says he'll sign the bill, even though it has become a rallying point for people opposed to his guest-worker plan.
"I didn't particularly want to come to Washington and talk about the border," said Hedgecock, who for 10 years has participated in the anti-immigration radio blitz dubbed "Hold Their Feet to the Fire." "But the fact is that the listeners were absolutely adamant that we do this."
The radio hosts, from California, Texas, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Arkansas, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Ohio and Washington state, aired their shows live from a Holiday Inn meeting room just steps from the U.S. Capitol.
Not only did the sheer number of hosts, 17, and their fans, 400, illustrate how immigration concerns have spread beyond border cities, it also underscored how radio hosts have evolved from opinionated entertainers to political activists whose familiar voices can galvanize growing numbers of people to their causes.
Populist anger over immigration will continue to build. I expect to see larger scale volunteer efforts to patrol the border, more radio talk show hosts shifting toward a restrictionist position, and quite possibly Tom Tancredo elected President in 2008. Tancredo will have the most motivated base of supporters of any possible Republican candidate in 2008. 2009 could be the year when immigration policy undergoes the biggest change since the 1920s.
The Kaiser Family Foundation's latest survey on public attitudes about health care finds health care worries outrank many other financial worries.
Since April 2003, we have asked several questions to compare Americans' health care worries to their worries about other possible problems. We have consistently found that more Americans are personally worried about their health care costs than about losing their job, paying their rent or mortgage, losing money in the stock market, or being the victim of a terrorist attack.
Among health care worries, the public is most concerned about having to pay more for their health care or insurance, with almost half (49%) saying they are very worried. Somewhat fewer say they are very worried about not being able to afford health care services (42%), not being able to afford prescription drugs (35%), and declining quality of care (32%). Among those who currently have health insurance coverage, nearly four in ten (38%) report being very worried that their health plan will be more concerned about money than about what is best for them, and more than one-third (35%) say they are very worried about losing their health insurance coverage.
People in different demographic groups report different levels of worry about their own ability to access and pay for health care. For instance, non-whites, those with lower incomes, and those without health insurance coverage are more likely than their counterparts to report worrying about health care issues. In addition, more women than men are worried about their health care, perhaps due in part to the fact that women are often the primary health care decision-makers in the home, and they have more contact with the health care system than do men.
Nearly half (49%) of adults say they are very worried about having to pay more for their health care or health insurance, somewhat more than the share who say they are very worried about their income not keeping up with rising prices (46%). Around four in ten adults say they are very worried about not being able to afford health care services (42%) and that their health plan cares more about saving money than about what is best for them (38% of those with health insurance). More than one-third of adults say they are very worried about not being able to afford prescription drugs (35%) and about losing their insurance coverage (35% of insured). Just over three in ten adults say they are very worried about the quality of their health care getting worse (32%).
Health care worries rank ahead of other non-health concerns, including not being able to pay their rent or mortgage (29%), losing a job (23% of those who are employed), losing money in the stock market (20%), and being a victim of a terrorist attack (19%).
With health care costs rising faster than inflation and companies cutting back and even dropping health care benefits these worries seem pretty rational to me.
My favorite proposal for the medical insurance problem: Tax-advantaged health savings accounts If you lose a job you lose your health care coverage and suddenly have to pay for health insurance at the very time you do not have a source of income. People need to be able to save money pre-tax while working at jobs with medical benefits so that they can continue to buy medical insurance between jobs. Also, the self-employed should be able to buy health care with pre-tax dollars just as those who work for companies can with employer-supplied medical benefits.
Also, medical insurance should be decoupled from any one job. COBRA coverage lasts for 18 months if you can afford it after you leave a job (and if your employer didn't go bankrupt or cancel medical coverage before laying you off). But even if you can afford to pay for COBRA coverage, should you develop a chronic condition while working at job you may find yourself uninsurable once COBRA coverage expires.
Health savings accounts would also reduce the number of parties involved in health care transactions. Employers would not be involved in choosing insurance and more medical care would be purchased directly rather than by an insurance company paying. This would make medical providers much more solicitous toward the wishes of patients.
Such accounts ought to require any insurance purchased from such accounts to have high deductibles and money from the accounts should be used to buy medical care up to the level of the deductibles. This would inject stronger market forces into medical care as more people directly spent their own dollars for medical care. This would tend to increase efficiency, decrease costs, and make service more customer-centric.
Police Chief Garrett Chamberlain of New Ipswich New Hampshire has arrested Mexican illegal alien Jorge Mora Ramirez under the unique legal interpretation that Ramirez's mere presence in New Ipswich amounts to criminal trespass.
Jorge Mora Ramirez, 21, who is living in Waltham, Mass., but is from Mexico, admitted to police that he was in the country on forged documents, Chamberlain said. Therefore, the chief said, Ramirez knew he wasn’t “licensed” to enter or remain in New Ipswich and so was guilty of criminal trespass.
“This is a state law we’ve had for a long time, but I’m the first to use it this way, so far as I know,” Chamberlain said Monday. “Basically, what it is, (federal immigration authorities) expressed no interest in taking custody of (Ramirez), so we’ve elected to address it by ourselves. . . . I knew of the law and figured we’d try this and see what happens.”
Chamberlain has now asked the State Attorney's office of New Hampshire for an opinion on the legality of this arrest. Whether a court would uphold this as a valid arrest in New Hampshire remains to be seen.
Suppose this basis for an arrest does not pan out. Isn't use of fraudulent IDs a felony of some sort?
When Ramirez was asked for his license, according to police, he produced a Mexican driver’s license and a photo ID from Massachusetts with an incorrect Social Security number and no state seal.
Ramirez allegedly admitted that he was here illegally, said he was working for a construction company in Jaffrey and that all of his U.S. IDs were fake.
Ramirez was arrested for operating without a valid license and taken to the New Ipswich police station.
Do any readers know whether use of fake IDs amounts to a felony in at least some circumstances? Could it be interpreted as simple fraud perhaps?
If local police and local prosecutors had a legal basis for charging illegal aliens with crimes an increasing number of jurisdictions would do so. Chamberlain is far from the only local police chief who has been looking for ways to get illegals out of their jurisdiction.
Note that Chamberlain and other local police find themselves in the situation of looking for legal ways to get rid of illegals because the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency won't come and pick up ilegals that local police pick up. The claim is made by the "Open Borders" crowd that immigration law enforcement is impossible because all the illegals can not be found. yet lots of illegals are found every day by local police and other law enforcement officers and the US government refuses to accept transfer of custody for most of them. If the US government would simply deport all the illegals that local law enforcement came across the number of illegals in the United States could be decreased by millions.
Could states pass laws aganst the use of fake IDs by illegal aliens in order to give local police the power to arrest illegals and have them prosecuted? The ability to tag illegals with felony convictions would make it easier to get the illegals deported. News of the existence of such a state law might scare many illegal aliens out of a state where police use it.
Update: The editors of the Christian Science Monitor argue that local police are best equipped to track down and capture all the illegal aliens.
As it is, the federal government deploys only some 2,000 immigration agents to nab that tide of humanity - after they've managed to slip past the Border Patrol.
Yet ask any of the 650,000 state and local police in the US if they could easily find illegal immigrants in their jurisdiction, and the answer would probably be "no problem."
If the federal government would agree to take and deport all illegal aliens captured by local and state authorities we could have 90+% of the illegals out of the United States in 5 years.
Many advocates of high immigration argue that it fundamentally changes the nation’s age structure, and is very helpful in solving the problem of an aging society. Demographic data, however, show that immigration has only a very small impact on the problem. While immigrants do tend to arrive relatively young, and have higher fertility than natives, immigrants age just like everyone else, and the differences with natives are not large enough to fundamentally alter the nation’s age structure. The debate over immigration should focus on other areas where it actually has a significant effect.
Among this Backgrounder’s findings:
- In 2000 the average age of an immigrant was 39, which is actually about four years older than the average age of a native-born American.
- Even focusing on only recent immigration reveals little impact on aging. Excluding all 22 million immigrants who arrived after 1980 from the 2000 Census increases the average age in the United States by only about four months.
- In 2000 66.2 percent of the population was of working-age (15 to 64). Excluding post-1980 immigrants it is 64.6 percent.
- Looking at the full impact of post-1980 immigrants reveals that if they and all their U.S.-born children are not counted, the working-age share would have been 65.9 percent in 2000, almost exactly the same as the 66.20 percent when they are all included.
- Immigration also does not explain the relatively high U.S. fertility rate. In 2000 the U.S. fertility rate was 2.1 children per woman, compared to 1.4 for Europe, but if all immigrants are excluded the rate would still have been 2.0.
- Looking to the future, Census Bureau projections indicate that if net immigration averaged 100,000 to 200,000 annually, the working age share would be 58.7 percent in 2060, while with net immigration of roughly 900,000 to one million, it would be 59.5 percent.
- Census projections are buttressed by Social Security Administration (SAA) estimates showing that, over the next 75 years, net annual legal immigration of 800,000 a year versus 350,000 would create a benefit equal to only 0.77 percent of the program’s projected expenditures.
- It is not clear that even this tiny benefit exists, because SSA assumes legal immigrants will have earnings and resulting tax payments as high as natives from the moment they arrive, which is contrary to a large body of research.
Next time someone tells you we need more immigration to pay for an aging society point them at this study. That claim is a myth that deserves to die.
Given the unrealistic Social Security Administration assumptions immigration may well be a net detriment to the financial position of the Social Security Trust Fund.
Keep in mind that illegal immigrants are, on average, less educated, less skilled less well paid, and large net drains on the public purse. Amnesties for illegals shift them into the category of those eligible for Social Security and Medicare. Financially we'd be much better off if we deported the illegals and also imposed much higher standards on legal immigrants. People who come in to take lower paying jobs should simply not be allowed in. Only the more productive and highly paid immigrants are going to pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits.
The European Union mandarins in Brussels argue that immigration in Europe is essential to deal with Europe's aging population. But have the EU mandarins done the sorts of calculations for Europe that Steve Camarota did for the United States? I'm guessing the answer is "no". After all, here we are in the year 2005 and only now has someone done the sort of analysis that Steve Camarota has done for aging populations and immigration in the United States. Europe has less of a developed network of think tanks for analysing policy issues. So their elites are probably just guessing when they advocate for large scale immigration. Or they want the immigrants for other reasons and are putting forth false arguments that sound plausible on first hearing.
BAGHDAD, April 23 -- Violence is escalating sharply in Iraq after a period of relative calm that followed the January elections. Bombings, ambushes and kidnappings targeting Iraqis and foreigners, both troops and civilians, have surged this month while the new Iraqi government is caught up in power struggles over cabinet positions.
Many attacks have gone unchallenged by Iraqi forces in large areas of the country dominated by insurgents, according to the U.S. military, Iraqi officials and civilians and visits by Washington Post correspondents. More than 100 Iraqis and foreigners have died in the last week.
Is this the end of the neocon Middle Eastern version of Prague Spring?
The U.S. official said this week that overall attacks had increased since the end of March. Roadside bombings and attacks on military targets are up by as much as 40 percent in parts of the country over the same period, according to estimates from private security outfits.
So glad I'm not there.
Civil war anyone?
Tensions over the killings in the area focused on the town of Madain, where rumors that Sunnis are kidnapping and killing Shiite townspeople were rife. Some Shiite national leaders have warned of sectarian war. In Shiite strongholds, there were threats of retaliatory violence against innocent Sunnis.
Will Shia bands start kidnapping and killing Sunnis? If they did would that be a positive or negative development from the standpoint of US national interests?
Thanks to Greg Cochran for the tip on that previous article.
Some think political paralysis at the top of the Iraqi government is contributing to the uptick in violence. A new Cabinet has not yet been formed after the January elections.
Iraq has experienced a surge in militant attacks that have caused heavy casualties in recent weeks, ending a relative lull after the country's historic Jan. 30 elections. Iraqi leaders are struggling to form a Cabinet that will include members of the Sunni minority, believed to be the driving force in the insurgency.
An optimistic interpretation is that the attacks are designed to strengthen the bargaining position of the Sunni politicians trying to win positions the government. Why optimistic? Because it would suggest some sort of political deal could be made with the Sunnis to placate them and get them to stop bombing. But I'm not optimistic about Iraq. Still, if you want to feel optimistic that is one way you could think about it.
The attacks came after a short lull in violence in Baghdad and underscored the security challenges facing newly-elected leaders. They are still deliberating over a government more than two months after the election.
Hey, why rush? American soldiers will keep dying and getting maimed to keep their government in power at least until they strike a political deal and likely for years to come.
We are now well into the real world test for the "the elected Iraqi government and rebuilt Iraqi military will take over the suppression of the insurgency phase" theory on how we will put down the insurgency and leave. If a definite trend of declining violence does not become evident in the next few months the Bush Administration is going to have to come up with yet another new theory on when things will start looking up in Iraq. The "when we capture Saddam" theory and the "when we capture Saddam's sons" theory are both long discredited. So is the "when we capture a bunch of Saddam's top people" theory. Ditto for the "when we appoint an Iraqi provisional government" theory and about a half dozen other such theories that have faded too far in my memory to easily recall.
Update: Okay, the "Iraqi military forces taking over the fighting" subtheory of the bigger "let the Iraqi government and military put down the insurgency" theory is taking a big hit. Derek Copold alerts me to a report that Iraqi Army desertions are surging.
On the Syrian border, US troops in the Sunni city of Husaybah report mass desertions. An Iraqi unit that had once grown to 400 troops now numbers a few dozen who are "holed up" inside a local phosphate plant.
Major John Reed, of the 2nd Marine Regiment, said: "They will claim that they are ready to come back and fight but there are no more than 30 of them on duty on any given day and they are completely ineffective."
In Mosul, which has been a hotspot since insurgents fleeing Fallujah effectively overran it last year, residents have complained to newspapers that police now rarely patrol and only appear in response to attacks.
The US military isn't big enough to hold Mosul and Fallujah at the same time.
This is bad news for US soldiers and their families and US taxpayers.
Update II: Greg points me to more articles: Retired US Army General John Keane believes the insurgency can replace their losses.
'One of the insurgency's strengths is its capacity to regenerate," said retired Army General John Keane, who returned recently from a fact-finding mission in Iraq. ''We have killed thousands of them and detained even more, but they are still able to regenerate. They are still coming at us."
Keane took issue with those military officials who have suggested that the insurgency was waning because the number of attacks across the country had declined to about 50 a day, compared with more than 200 per day last year, according to Pentagon figures.
''It's always dangerous to look at [the numbers of] enemy attacks," said Keane, a Vietnam veteran and member of the Defense Policy Board, which advises Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. ''They can be very misleading, as much as the body counts in Vietnam. . . . It can lead to wrong conclusions."
Despite claims that the insurgency in Iraq has declined, an internal Army analysis finds that attacks haven't necessarily lessened in recent months, but rather appear to have shifted away from U.S. troops to more vulnerable Iraqis.
The report also concludes that Iraqi insurgents seem to be staging increasingly sophisticated attacks on both Iraqi and U.S. forces.
The Christian Science Monitor links to more articles on the insurgency.
Indeed, at the beginning of the Nineties, I could hardly have been more enthusiastic in my support for multiculturalism. As an Islington Labour councillor, I chaired the borough’s equal opportunities committee. I marched for Kurdish refugees and did voluntary work teaching English to Asians. As an aide to Harriet Harman, I spent much of my time trying to resolve the immigration and housing problems of her African-Caribbean constituents in Peckham. But even in the middle of all this activism I began to have my doubts that multiracial immigration was of universal, undiluted benefit. Peckham was a place of fear, where any sense of community had vanished and violent crime was rife.
Think about that. He had to witness absolutely appalling social decay before beginning to doubt his beliefs. Humans form political beliefs that are every bit as intense and irrational as their religious beliefs. Faith in secular platitudes like "diversity" can be every bit as deeply held as faith in supernatural matters and the afterlife.
And ethnic minorities are far more likely to be welfare claimants than their white counterparts: 28 per cent of all ethnic minority groups and 34 per cent of blacks receive income-related benefits, compared with 18 per cent of whites. When it comes to housing benefit or income support, blacks are twice as likely as whites to be claimants. But the problems go far beyond economics. Britain was once renowned as a place of gentleness, where even the policemen were unarmed, but we now have urban violence on a scale that would have been unthinkable for the postwar generation of Britons. Some of this is no doubt the result of a degenerate culture, and a reluctance by the police and courts to enforce the law, but some is clearly the long-term result of immigration. According to the British Crime Survey, 31 per cent of all street robberies in Britain are committed by criminals of African-Caribbean origin, while at least 60 per cent of all muggings in London are perpetrated by blacks. Only last week it was reported that shootings in Brent have gone up by 22 per cent in the last 12 months — this in a borough that was recently paraded as a success story in driving down gun crime. Black and ethnic minority groups account for 24 per cent of the male and 31 per cent of the female prison population, despite the fact that white defendants are more likely to be found guilty in court.
Why let high crime groups into a highly civilized country? Once upon a time in Britain the idea of saying "It's being-hit-on-the-head lessons in here" was considered to be a "stupid concept". But now the equivalent has been embodied in government policy and the whole nation experiences the result.
The welfare state also helped to make the decay possible. But I don't think many members of the Labour Party want to own up to how they contributed to societal decay by supporting the growth of the welfate state.
The Liberal Democratic Party trying to appeal to Muslims while the new Respect Party, a coalition of socialists and Muslims, is trying even harder to appeal to Muslims.
As the recent vote-rigging scandal at Birmingham City Council shows, Third-World practices in intimidation and corruption have now become a part of British democracy. Just as worryingly, the politics of race has poisoned some of our urban constituencies. It is telling that the Liberal Democrats won recent by-elections in Leicester and Brent because of their anti-war, pro-Islamic stance but lost in the mainly white North-East seat of Hartlepool.
British political parties might end up reorganizing along ethnic and religious lines. The UK Independence Party and British National Party will compete with with the Conservatives for the white middle class and even the white working class vote. Labour and the Liberal Democrats will try to maintain their appeal to some white working class voters as well as leftists and intellectuals while competing with Respect and other parties for black and Muslim voters. But my guess is that in areas with heavy Muslim concentrations avowedly Muslim parties will win more elections.
While not much talked about America's main two political parties are already partially aligned along racial lines. The Republicans consistently win the majority of white voters. The Democrats consistently win large majorities of black and Hispanic voters. The Republican Party might not stay as one of the main two US parties though because it seems intent on promoting policies such as open borders and racial preferences that are harmful to the interests of white voters. The US might eventually see the emergence of a US equivalent of the UK Independence Party that strongly promotes immigration restriction.
Sanctuary laws, present in such cities as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Austin, Houston, and San Francisco, generally forbid local police officers from inquiring into a suspect’s immigration status or reporting it to federal authorities. Such laws place a higher priority on protecting illegal aliens from deportation than on protecting legal immigrants and citizens from assault, rape, arson, and other crimes.
Let’s say a Los Angeles police officer sees a member of Mara Salvatrucha hanging out at Hollywood and Vine. The gang member has previously been deported for aggravated assault; his mere presence back in the country following deportation is a federal felony. Under the prevailing understanding of Los Angeles’s sanctuary law (special order 40), if that officer merely inquires into the gangbanger’s immigration status, the officer will face departmental punishment.
To get the felon off the street, the cop has to wait until he has probable cause to arrest the gangbanger for a non-immigration crime, such as murder or robbery. It is by no means certain that that officer will successfully build a non-immigrant case against the gangster, however, since witnesses to gang crime often fear deadly retaliation if they cooperate with the police. Meanwhile, the gangbanger is free to prey on law-abiding members of his community, many of them immigrants themselves.
This is an extraordinarily inefficient way to reduce crime. If an officer has grounds for arresting a criminal now, it is perverse to ask him to wait until some later date when maybe, if he is lucky, he will have an additional ground for arrest
The refusal to allow police to arrest illegal alien gangbangers just for being here illegally amounts to a death sentence for those they go on to kill and severe emotional agony for who they go on to rape or maim.
If all the illegals were deported our problem with Hispanic gangs would greatly decrease.
--A confidential California Department of Justice study reported in 1995 that 60 percent of the 20,000-strong 18th Street Gang in southern California is illegal; police officers say the proportion is actually much greater. The bloody gang collaborates with the Mexican Mafia, the dominant force in California prisons, on complex drug-distribution schemes, extortion, and drive-by assassinations. It commits an assault or robbery every day in L.A. County. The gang has grown dramatically over the last two decades by recruiting recently arrived youngsters, most of them illegal, from Central America and Mexico.
--Immigration and Customs Enforcement conservatively puts the number of illegals in Mara Salvatrucha as a “majority;” police officers, by contrast, assert that the gang is overwhelmingly illegal.
--Law enforcement officials estimate that 20% of gang members in San Diego County are illegal, according to the Union-Tribune.
-- The L.A. County Sheriff reported in 2000 that 23% of inmates in county jails were deportable, according to the New York Times.
--The leadership of the Columbia Lil’ Cycos gang, which uses murder and racketeering to control the drug market around Los Angeles’s MacArthur Park, was about 60 percent illegal in 2002. Francisco Martinez, a Mexican Mafia member and an illegal alien, controlled the gang from prison, while serving time for felonious reentry following deportation.
-- In Los Angeles, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide in the first half of 2004 (which totaled 1,200 to 1,500) targeted illegal aliens. Up to two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) were for illegal aliens.
The stories of some of these criminal illegals are horrible.
Five months ago, Carlos Barrera, an illegal Mexican in Hollywood, Ca., mugged three people, burglarized two apartments, and tried to rape a five-year-old girl. Barrera had been deported four years ago after serving time for robbery, drugs, and burglary. Since his reentry following deportation, he had been stopped twice for traffic violations. But thanks to special order 40, the police had never mentioned him to the immigration authorities, reports the New York Times.
In September, 2003, the Miami police arrested a Honduran visa violator for seven vicious rapes. The previous year, Miami cops had had the suspect in custody for lewd and lascivious molestation. Pursuant to Miami’s sanctuary law, however, the police had never checked his immigration status. Had they done so, they would have discovered his deportable status, and could have forestalled the rapes.
This is all more evidence that the US government's lax border and immigration enforcement amounts to our collectively saying "It's being-hit-on-the-head lessons in here". How long will it take for the cries of "Stop hitting me!!" to get loud enough to bring about a change?
Over on the Immigration Blog Heather reports that black left-liberal Congressional Represenative Maxine Waters demands real border control.
Enter Maxine Waters. Waters has poisoned racial politics in Los Angeles for years; she essentially declared the Los Angeles riots a strike against racial injustice. Never saw a cop she doesn’t think is a racist. Yet here she was at the hearing declaring herself absolutely fed up with the race war between Hispanics and blacks that is raging on the streets of downtown L.A. “Why isn’t anyone talking about the Mexican Mafia (a gang of illegal Mexicans that controls the California prison system)?” she thundered. ‘I don’t care if you’re pink or purple or white or black or brown, I want you out if you’re committing crimes.’ There is no excuse not to control the border, she said. ‘I’m a liberal with a capital ‘L’,’ she said, ‘but I’m sick of it.’
Waters' timing was impeccable. A day after she spoke, 100 black and Hispanic students at Jefferson High School in South L.A. attacked each other in a race- and gang-driven brawl; three days later, the same thing happened, this time, students also hurled bottles at the police. Principal Norm Morrow told the Los Angeles Times:"We just have a lot of issues with race," said Morrow. "It's coming out of the community, into the school." Cops in riot gear now patrol the school.
Robert S. Leiken, Director of the Immigration and National Security Program at the Nixon Center, has written an excellent article for the Center for Immigration Studies entitled Europe's Mujahideen: Where Mass Immigration Meets Global Terrorism.
Television commentators regularly fret about terrorists crossing our southern border concealed in a torrent of illegal immigrants. National media attention is riveted on the Middle East. But the nightmare of Department of Homeland Security officials with whom I talk is not the Mexican border or the Middle East. They lose sleep over Muslim immigrants from enlightened Western Europe.
At the Nixon Center we have investigated 373 suspected or convicted terrorists who resided in or crossed national borders in Western Europe and North America since 1993.1 Despite extensive search our matrix did not include any mujahiddeen with ties to al Qaeda entering from Mexico, In contrast, we found 26 subjects who used Canada as a host country. Moreover, while the U.S. asylum system has been relatively secure, Canada and European are regularly abused by terrorist asylum claimants. Ahmed Ressam, the Algerian who tried to bomb the Los Angeles airport, availed himself of the Canadian asylum system.
The US has such close economic and diplomatic ties to Europe and Canada that a visa requirement for people from those countries would have serious downsides for the US.
European Muslims who can enter the United States without a visa constitute perhaps the biggest threat for future terrorist acts against the United States.
Meanwhile, in Western Europe, the two trends of mass immigration and global terrorism intersect visibly and dangerously. For more than a decade the region has formed a haven for Middle Eastern "dissidents," often a.k.a. mujahideen, and for graduate students like Mohammed Atta. But these visitors or first generation immigrants are by no means the only source of concern. The murder of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh by a Dutch Muslim of Moroccan descent served notice for a new generation of mujahideen born and bred in Europe and the object of focused al Qaeda post-9-11 and post-Iraq recruitment. Because these children of guestworkers are European born, they are citizens entitled to passports. And they are also entitled to enter the United States without so much as an interview by a U.S. official. That is because European countries enjoy a reciprocal agreement with the United States called the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
The new mujahideen are European born and bred and products of a little noticed convergence of migratory networks and terrorist cells. In addition, European Muslim recruits can form the al Qaeda cells most apt to plot a course in the United States. The second-generation terrorists speak European languages, handle computers, surf the internet, exchange e-mail, and are familiar with post-industrial infrastructures and customs. Unlikely to be watchlisted, the new mujahideen not only navigate a modern society but can enter the United States freely. But terminating the VWP would exact a heavy bureaucratic, financial and diplomatic price and would be a major blow to U.S.-European relations and constitute a strategic misstep. This paper proposes to mending, not ending, the VWP.
Leiken points out that advances in communications and transportation technology have simultaneously reduced the cost of migration and reduced the cost of staying in touch with and retaining elements of the cultures that the migrants came from. A flip through cable channels in any part of the United States that has a large Hispanic population demonstrates the truth of this contention. Spanish language channels have been added to many cable services (Santa Barbara has about 6) and the growth of satellite TV services with hundreds of channels will make foreign language programming even easier to provide. By contrast, in the 1960s the only TV watching choices in much of the United States were 3 major English language networks, an English language public TV channel, and maybe a few Engliish language UHF channels. Also, international phone calls were too expensive casual use by all but very high income people whereas they become steadily cheaper today. The internet enables access to newspapers from home countries and correspondence with people who share common beliefs, culture, and experiences. Therefore life in the United States in the 1960s more thoroughly pulled a person into a shared American culture than life in the United States does today.
For Western Europe the ability of migrants to retain their cultures and maintain a separate identity and a different set of loyalties has especially problematic implications.
Western Europe hosts an extremely challenging second and third Muslim immigrant generation who are citizens. To speak more bluntly, Western Europe, in a fit of absent mindedness, during which it became common for Western intellectuals to speculate on the obsolescence of the nation-state, has acquired not a colonial empire this time but an internal colony whose numbers are roughly equivalent to a Saudi Arabia in the heart of Europe.
A portion of this population offers a challenge to social cohesion (what some European scholars call "societal security") and a small fraction presents an international security threat.26 That last is because migratory networks and terrorist cells increasingly overlap, as illustrated by the Madrid bombings and by the Van Gogh incident.
In the 21st century, extremism and terrorism emanating from the same population has converted discontent into electoral rebellion and crisis, as in the foulard (headscarf) controversy in France, the asylum crisis in Great Britain, and the reaction to Van Gogh’s hideous assassination. Pro-immigration lobbies and scholars often treat the connection of Islamist terrorism and international immigration with condescension or invective. But this defensive stance will not withstand what Solzhenitsyn called "the pitiless crowbar of events."27
This is a very long article and informative article. I urge you to click through and read the whole thing.
Update: Here is more from the article. The Spanish economy is a powerful lure for Moroccans.
The Madrid bombings were carried out by Moroccan immigrants, legally resident in Spain, many mentored by a Syrian-born Spaniard alleged to be bin Laden’s operational commander in Europe. Spain has a migratory culture similar to our southwest, with Morocco a mere nine miles off-shore. The contrast between Morocco (per capita GNP $4,000) and Spain ($22,000) is the most dramatic between any two borders in the world, greater than the Mexico ($9,000) - United States ($37,800) gap and greater than that between the PRC ($5,000) and Hong Kong ($14,400). When we consider that Morocco has a population of more than 32 million, 1/3 of which is under 14, a literacy rate barely topping 50 percent (compared to Spain’s 98 percent literacy rate) and a infant mortality rate 10 times as high as Spain’s, that 99 percent of Spaniards have health insurance and only 20 percent of Moroccans, we can understand why the Spanish government has budgeted a three year plan to fortify its southern border with radar, sensors, cameras, helicopters, and an identification system.68 This correspondence between Morocco-Spain migratory networks and terrorist cells is reproduced in France vis a vis Algeria. A similar correspondence exists regarding Pakistan and Britain and Morocco and the Netherlands.
The Europeans need to entirely stop the Muslim immigrant influx and deport all illegals.
The bright side in all this for the United States is that Muslim terrorists in Europe are more likely to attack European than American targets because European targets are still easier to reach and require less skill and less resources to hit. As the Europeans get hit they will respond with more aggressive measures against Muslim immigration and against terrorist cells in their own countries. Their reaction to the terrorist threat from Muslims living among them will benefit America.
Tim Weiner of the New York Times reports that military health care costs are skyrocketing.
The cost of the main military health care plan, Tricare, has doubled since 2001 and will soon reach $50 billion a year, more than a tenth of the Pentagon's budget. At least 75 percent of the benefits will go to veterans and retirees.
Over the next decade, a new plan for military retirees, Tricare for Life, will cost at least $100 billion, according to confidential budget documents, rivaling the costs of the biggest weapons systems the Pentagon is building.
That is for almost 9 million active duty and retired personnel and their dependents. So it works out to about $5500 per person and rapidly rising. Parenthetically, article illustrates why "cheap" illegal alien labor is not cheap. The taxpayers end up paying for their health care when they show up in hospital emergency wards and when they have children born here their kids are eligible for Medicaid and other government medical benefits programs that middle class and higher income taxpayers pay for.
Tricare for Life is a supplement to Medicare and, according to an accompanying graph, will cost about $13 billion per year by 2015. That is more than double the $6 billion it cost in 2004. So how much will it cost in 2025 or 2035? The article doesn't say but the answer seems obvious: many billions more.
Bush and Congress are on a binge to pile on more unfunded liabilities for the future decades.
The government's unpaid-for promises grew by more than $13 trillion last year, a sum larger than the nation's 2004 economic output, and they now surpass $43 trillion, said David A. Walker, comptroller general of the United States. Last year "was arguably the worst year in our fiscal history," said Mr. Walker, who runs the Government Accountability Office, the budget watchdog of Congress. "It seems clear that the nation's current fiscal path is unsustainable."
The US military is going to become a hollow force in future decades as its budget goes increasingly for health care.
The cost of military health care is now bigger than the Army's budget for buying new weapons, the Navy's budget for new ships and submarines, or the Air Force's budget for new planes.
The lack of money spent on acquisitions feeds the health care cost problem because old equipment requires a larger staff to do maintenance and newer equipment is more automated and requires fewer people to operate. For example, newer ships have smaller crews because of advances in ship design that automate more tasks.
The US military should be making a much larger push to replace high maintenance equipment and to develop tools and designs that automate work. By reducing human labor needs the extent of the rise in future costs of medical care for military workers could be reduced.
Also, the rising cost of health care for the military illustrates once again the value of developing technologies that automate the delivery of health care. Plus, measures to accelerate the rate of advance of biomedical science and technology could reap savings by producing treatments that prevent diseases and treat diseases more cheaply. But unfortunately there is no big push in Washington to look at health care costs as a problem to solve with acceleration of the advance of science and technology.
The budget of the rest of the US government will go increasingly to pay for old age health care and health care for poor folks (a large and growing percentage of which will be illegal aliens and their legal citizen children).
Here are the uninsured rates for various immigrant groups (Table 1):
- 33 percent of all foreign-born are uninsured, versus 12 percent of U.S. natives
- 43 percent of non-citizen immigrants are uninsured
- 48 percent of Hispanic immigrants
- 21 percent of non-Hispanic immigrants
- 61 percent of immigrants earning less than $7/hr.
The rapid escalation of ER usage by uninsured immigrants has brought financial disaster to many hospitals. Southwestern border hospitals lost hundreds of millions before the recent federal bailout. In LA County the cost of caring for illegals has diverted money from other services, forcing clinics, trauma centers—and emergency rooms—to close.
We can not afford to pay for an aging population, a strong national defense, and tens of millions of poor illegal aliens and their offspring.
On March 2, the notoriously liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Mohammed v. Gonzales [PDF] that women from countries which allow female circumcision are eligible for asylum in the United States.
It is foolish take our standards for what is right and wrong and basically state that for any country that violates our standards its population should be able to emigrate to the United States. There are 20 times more people outside of the United States than inside it. Transportation costs are steadily falling. The more people who are made eligible to come the more who will come. It is as simple as that. We can't be the refuge for billions of people. The current illegal alien population in the United States (which might be as high as 20 million) is already far too large without adding in millions of asylum seekers.
According to Amnesty International, more than 100 million women have been subjected to female genital mutilation. Within the same societies, there are millions more who have not yet endured the practice.
All of them are now eligible for asylum.
If much of the world has governments and customs that are so terrible and if we should feel morally obliged to help the denizens of these places who are opposed to these laws and customs then there are other options for how to respond. Britain and some European countries have been exploring ways to safeguard refugees by allowing them to move to other Third World countries where they can escape whatever persecution they claim to be fleeing. Some countries can be induced to accept these refugees in exchange for aid.
Another possibility is a limited reintroduction of colonialism. Western countries could take over some forsaken country (there are plenty to choose from - how about Zimbabwe?) and impose colonial rule. Recruit fans of colonialism to administer the place (I would even argue for drafting Max Boot and a few other neoconservatives into service as colonial rulers). Then let refugees from other countries move there and live under the rule of people who will impose Western customs and law.
I don't think such a proposal has a snowball's chance in hell. But by the logic of the asylum supporters there are hundreds of millions stuck living in backwardness and ignorance who need some help. I'd rather they find some way to act out their desire to help those people that does not involve them inflicting the Third World's people onto the populations of the First World.
The number of calls to a national immigration and customs hotline -- including tips turning in illegal immigrants -- has skyrocketed in the past six months, according to officials of the Department of Homeland Security.
Assistant Secretary Michael J. Garcia lauded the record growth of the hotline operated by his agency.
``Alert citizens, using the . . . tip line, are making significant contributions to homeland security,'' Garcia said in a statement Tuesday.
But the growing popularity of the government hotline, (866) 347-2423, has immigrants and their advocates worried about racial stereotyping and targeting of immigrant communities.
They have little to worry about while George W. Bush is in office. My guess is that most calls reporting illegal aliens are ignored unless the illegals are from the Middle East and therefore potential terrorists.
However, the hotline demonstrates that if only the government would be willing to deport illegals the American people would find the illegals. So large scale deportation of illegals is possible if only enough pressure can be built up on the federal government to act.
Note that identity theft is one of the problems people report. Identity theft is a large and growing problem. People who get their identity stolen go through ordeals that cost them hundreds of hours to handle.
On a given day, the hotline will receive tips about human smuggling, drug smuggling, identity theft, a corporation hiring undocumented immigrants and immigrants who have been deported and have returned to the United States, said spokesman Michael W. Gilhooly.
At the Law Enforcement Support Center in Williston, Vt., 260 employees take reports from citizens across the United States on a variety of crimes. The center operates every day, around the clock.
Even though the government ignores reports the calls are going to make a difference politically. It is inevitable that some Congress reps are going to ask for statistical summaries of the numbers of calls received, the type of each call, and the percentage of calls of each type for which actions were taken or not taken. This call hotline could become a means to pressure the government to start deporting illegals in earnest.
My advice to people who want to turn in illegal aliens: Call the hotline and report the information. But also then write your Congressman and both your US Senators and report the same information to them noting that you have provided this information to the hotline. The Congress needs to hear from large numbers of Americans who say that they want immigration laws enforced. If illegal aliens you report are still living in your community a few months later then call the hotline again and write to your Congresscritters telling them nothing has been done about your report. Make sure you tell them you are angry about it.
Volunteer border patrol Minuteman Project spokesman Grey Deacon says that American Civil Liberties Union members who are watching the Minutemen are actively helping the illegal aliens crossing from Mexico to avoid detection by the Minutemen.
Grey Deacon told Joseph Farah's nationally syndicated "WorldNetDaily RadioActive" audience yesterday that ACLU monitors sent to the border to watch Minuteman activity and report civil-liberties abuses to authorities have begun flashing lights, sounding horns and warning off illegals and their "coyote" human smugglers from entering territory patrolled by the volunteers.
"They are actively engaging in criminal activity," said Deacon.
Deacon said the ACLU activists are resorting to new tactics because of the success the Minuteman Project is having in assisting the Border Patrol in spotting illegal aliens and in generating publicity about the insecure U.S.-Mexico border.
If the ACLU members are doing this then they are breaking the law by aiding and abetting the violation of immigration laws. This is not surprising. The ACLU consistently takes a position against the enforcement of immigration laws. See my post "ACLU Wants To Delegitimize Immigration Law Enforcement" for another example of their attempts to subvert immigration law enforcement.
I view the ACLU as an enemy of liberty, not its defender.
While Senator Larry Craig (R Idaho) is trying to get the AgJobs illegal immigrant amnesty attached to the Iraq spending appropriations bill Senator Dianne Feinstein (D California) is opposing Craig on AgJobs.
When word spread that such additions might be in the wind, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, authored a non-binding resolution that no such measures be added. It passed 61-38. But almost immediately after that resolution passed, the immigration provisions began to be offered. More of the same is expected today.
Feinstein was particularly upset at the notion that AgJobs could be considered now.
"This is going to be a huge magnet" for illegal immigrants, Feinstein warned her colleagues during an impassioned floor speech. "Mark my words."
Opposition to the proposal is not limited to the GOP. One of Craig's harshest critics on the Senate floor was Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California, who said the program offered "nirvana" to Mexican workers who might be contemplating crossing the border illegally to seek work in the United States.
If they can make it across the border and work 100 hours on a farm, Feinstein said, they could hope to qualify for permanent residency for themselves and their immediate families.
"This is a bill of enormous dimensions," she said. "This could be the largest immigration program in history. It could bring millions of people into this country — workers, their children, their spouses."
Dingbat Senator Barbara Boxer (also D California), never one to flinch from embracing bad ideas, opposed Feinstein on the AgJobs amendment.
"This will open up a long and complicated debate on the floor of the Senate," Feinstein said of the diverse immigration provisions under consideration. "We should not do that." Feinstein's Democratic colleague, California Sen. Barbara Boxer, opposed her on the effort to keep immigration measures off of the Iraq bill. Even though the resolution passed, moreover, senators quickly proceeded to parade their own immigration priorities into public.
Senator Barbara Mikulski (D Maryland) offered a separate amendment to increase the number of H2B visas so that crab seafood processors and tourist businesses in Maryland could get cheap immigrant labor.
Mikulski in February introduced a bill to do the same thing, the Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2005. Businesses pleaded for the relief after the H2B cap was reached on Jan. 3, leaving many industries, particularly those that needed workers in the late spring and summer, short the number of workers they need.
Industries cannot put in requests for H2B workers until 120 days before the start of their season, which puts summer businesses like seafood processors at a disadvantage.
"H2Bs are a problem," said Chris Foster, deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. "When they reach the cap, they shut down. . . . That's a significant impact predominantly on the Eastern Shore."
Foster said with the "very, very seasonal economy" on the Eastern Shore, the unemployment rate can range from 4 percent to 10 percent during the year, but during the summer months it's at zero, and there is a worker shortage.
But if immigrants are not allowed to do the work businesses could respond by raising offered salaries as a way to attract Americans who could move to the area to work in the summer time. The use of migrant labor is done because it is cheaper. Should keeping down the price of labor be the main goal or even a major goal of immigration policy? No! What is wrong with American workers earning higher salaries? And whatever happened to the Democratic Party as supposed defenders of the working men and women of this country? Mikulski clearly represents the interests of business owners at the expense of the larger working and taxpaying public.
Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution points to a story in the NY Times about how the growing burden of paying for the old is being partially offset by the declining burden of paying for children.
The overall burden on the employed will grow, but not to unprecedented levels. The ratio of people of working age to those either under 20 or over 65 will decrease to 1.2 in 2050 from about 1.5 today. But this is still an easier load than in 1965, when the country was awash with children, and the ratio of the working-age population to each dependent was only 1.1.
True, the young are cheaper to maintain than the old. In 1990, economists at Harvard and M.I.T., including David M. Cutler and Lawrence H. Summers of Harvard, estimated that people over 64 consume 76 percent more than children.
Still, Mr. Burtless estimated that in 2050 a worker will have to sacrifice 49.6 percent of his or her wages - through taxes or other means - to maintain society's dependents. That is nearly 6 percentage points more than in 2000, but it is merely 0.8 percentage points more than 1965. And the percentage could well be smaller if people work later in life to pay for more of their keep.
My guess is that the cost of paying for each child is growing for a few reasons. First off, the tax burden for each child has risen in part due to the futile pursuit of improvements in educational outcomes by throwing more money at children who are simply not bright enough to meet expectations. Also, the rise in illegitimacy (see the first graph here) means fewer men are paying for their children and hence more funding for child raising (especially medical costs through Medicaid) is coming via the tax man.
The rising tax burden for child care will have the same effect as the rising tax burden for elder care: People will work less at paying jobs in order to spend more time doing work for themselves. High marginal tax rates to pay for old folks means the harder you work the less you get out of each additional dollar earned. How depressing. I see this as having an opposite effect on motivation than having a newly born baby. In the case of the costs of the new born baby suddenly Dad (at least in intact families) feels the urge to work harder. Got to keep that job. Got to get that raise. The costs for the pediatrician and dentist stretch into the future and more money is needed.
Mom and Dad working for the baby have an incentive to work much harder because with enough hard work so those baby costs can be paid for. The more successful workers can earn enough income that after paying the fixed costs there can still be money left over to pay for enjoyable things. The fact that child costs are more typically fixed costs and not a percentage of income motivates parents to earn more than the fixed costs of child care. This is an incentive for greater economic activity, not less.
Another important difference between paying for child care and for elder care is that a much larger fraction of child-rearing costs are borne by those who have the children. People are more willing to spend on that which is in some sense theirs than on that which is for strangers. Granted, a lot of people are not thrilled to spend time with their kids. But most of those same people are motivated to go to work to earn money for their children. Whereas taxes exacted on them to pay for old folks are not earmarked specificially for their parents. So the incentive to work harder to pay for the elderly is just not there the way it is to pay for one's own children. For someone whose parents have already died no taxes they pay will go to their parents. Similarly, if one's parents are still working one knows that one's taxes for old folks are going to pay for other people, few if any of whom are closely related to you.
Rising illegitimacy, rising uninsurance of children, and the rising number of children of poor illegal immigrants who pay little in taxes are all increasing the fraction of child care that is paid for via taxes. Therefore on average children are not as much a motivation to work as was previously the case pre-welfare state. This partially offsets the declining costs of smaller families and makes the financial outlook for the future bleaker still.
Thanks to Dan Vanzile for pointing me to Tyler's post.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay suggested such a review of judges last week in response to the Terri Schiavo case, words that Democrats interpret as a threat to impeach judges.
Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, says judges who violate the law have been impeached and that the Constitution gives Congress the task of judicial oversight.
"Should we look at situations where judges have decided to go off on their own tangent and disobey the statutes of the United States of America? I think that's a legitimate area for oversight," Mr. Santorum told ABC's "This Week."
In American judges have come too much to resemble legislators appointed for life. They need to be made more accountable. They live for longer times now and decline further into senility before retiring. Also, liberal law schools have been teaching constitutional theories that justify too large a role for court decision making at the expense of the branches of government run by elected officials.
I say all this even though sometimes I actually agree with the decisions courts make. The problem is that regardless of whether you favor a particular policy change the courts should not have such large roles in setting policies. It might seem quicker to get a policy changed by court decision. But it is ultimately corrupting and undermines the democratic process.
Take Roe vs. Wade for example. I agree with those who see this decision as judicial overreaching. While I am morally ambivalent about abortion and couldn't tell you where life ought to be considered to begin or end (and actually have some really complex thoughts on the subject that trouble me) I see that decision as harmful to the democratic process. Some states had already legalized abortion before that decision. Absent that Supreme Court decision other states would have followed suit. It would have taken years of tiresome participation of activists in campaigns, letters to the editor, speeches, rallies, and so on. But the outcome of legalization in some states would have been far more legitimate precisely because coalitions would have been built and the populaces of many states would have been persuaded to support the legalization. Also, some states would have kept abortion illegal and that would have left their majorities more satisfied with the legitimacy of the democratic process.
Changes in policies that come about as a result of democratic mechanisms enjoy greater acceptance even among people who oppose them. If you fight the good fight and lose you have to accept that the voting majority disagreed with you and your challenge is to argue with that majority and make your case. But when judges just wave their gavel and change a policy you face a much larger challenge in trying to persuade people to your point of view. Judges can make a reversal of their chosen policy require a constitutional amendment. This effectively means a super-majority has to favor a change. So the game is loaded on the side that the judges decide to support.
The suppression of more moderate parties by Musharraf's military dictatorship combined with the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are combining to create conditions favoring the growth of the religious parties in Pakistan.
In a surprise to many here, the incident took place not in the conservative tribal areas, but in the country's Punjab heartland. In reaction, protesters picketed Parliament Monday, calling on the government to "save the society from Talibanization."
Through strikes, protests, and the passage of strict local ordinances, Pakistan's religious parties have grown more brazen in their challenge to the secularization central to President Musharraf's rule. Political analysts are concerned that the sidelining of mainstream parties under may be aiding the radicals in the run-up to local elections in July.
When moderate opposition is suppressed the inevitable result is the growth of more extremist opposition.
The growing power of religious parties in Pakistan is also partly another cost of the US invasion of Iraq. The US overthrow of the Taliban was relatively easier to justify to Muslims than the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
In 5 years time will the average Middle Eastern government be more or less Islamic? Will the Muslim countries with elected governments be more or less Islamic than those with dictatorships? Your guesses?
In case you are unaware the white working class in Britain has deterioriated into crime, illegitimacy, poor school performance, and other indicators of social pathology a lot further than the American white working class. Whereas once upon a time (about a century ago) the British lower classes were amazingly law-abiding and crime was extremely rare in Britain now the British suffer from a crime wave that in almost all categories besides murder is worse than the United States. This brings up the very important question of why? Steve Sailer lists a number of reasons for the worse performance of lower class whites in Britain including cultural factors.
Culture. The ongoing collapse of Britain's white males into neo-Hogarthian laddishness points out the importance of country music in persuading white working class American males to stay on the straight and narrow. A remarkable fraction of country lyrics are devoted to making guys with fairly crummy jobs, like truckdrivers, feel proud that they work hard to bring home the bacon to their wife and kids. Likewise, many country love songs are about being married, which helps make that crucial institution seem cool to young country fans.
Or compare favorite spectator sports. Stock car racing is wholly lacking in soccer's affiliated subculture of hooliganism (see Bill Buford's memoir of running with English soccer fans, aptly titled Among the Thugs). NASCAR markets itself with vast success as wholesome entertainment for the entire family.
The U.S. Republican Party, for all its sins, at least pays lip service to social conservatism. Many white working class families ask for self-sacrificingly little from their elected leaders. But they do want them to provide good role models for their children. And, in contrast to Clinton's embarrassing philandering, Bush's apparently faultless marriage accounts for more than a little of his otherwise inexplicable popularity.
In Britain, however, the Conservative Party has been riddled by sex scandals.
Culture matters. Art forms can have deleterious or beneficial effects on societies. Black rap music encourages destructive behavior. White country music encourages hard work, marriage, and honesty. But do not expect to hear that from left-liberals. They will shout "racism" and other pathetic nonsense.
Of course part of the cultural difference is due to a difference in prevalence of Christian reliigous belief. Steve covers that too.
Note that to the extent that Hollywood culture permeates American culture the working class will become more pathological in their behavior. Sex and drugs and rock and roll are not a formula for safe streets, monogamous marriages, and hard work.
Speed. Remember the tale of how to boil a frog? Just keep raising the temperature imperceptibly so the frog never notices it's being boiled alive. (Don't try this at home, kids.) Something similar happened in England, where society fell apart so slowly that elite opinion had time to get used to each new outrage.
In contrast, the U.S. murder rate doubled in just ten years—from 1964 to 1974. African-Americans served not as the frog in the pot but as the canary in the coalmine.
The welfare state took decades after its introduction in 1945 to corrupt the English. But the American liberal innovations of the 1960s, such as generous welfare for single mothers and shorter prison sentences, had such an immediately catastrophic on black morals that within a decade and a half, "liberal" had permanently become a term of abuse in American politics.
I also suspect that elite opinion simply has less weight in America than in Britain. But Steve addresses that at least partially when he points out that in America the direct election of many more lower level officials and the greater power in the hands of state and local officlals effectively allows the masses to vote in politicians who will crack down on crime and cut down the welfare state. Therefore the elites in America have a more difficult time preventing the masses from getting their way. Though the corruption of the American judiciary where the judges act more like legislatures and change policies has certainly created a method whereby the elites can defeat the will of the masses in America.
Steve covers a lot of other reasons why the white working class in Britain has morally deteriorated so much more than the white working class in America. Read the whole essay.
Joyce Lee Malcolm, historian and scholar of British and American history of crime, argues that part of the increase in crime rates in Britain is due to restrictions on handgun ownership.
When guns were freely available, England had an astonishingly low level of violent crime. A government study for the years 1890-1892, for example, found only three handgun homicides, an average of one a year, in a population of 30 million. In 1904 there were only four armed robberies in London, then the largest city in the world. One century and many gun laws later, the British Broadcasting Corp. reports that England's firearms restrictions and 1997 ban on handguns ''have had little impact in the criminal underworld.'' Guns are virtually outlawed, and, as the old slogan predicted, only outlaws have guns. And what is worse, they are increasingly ready to use them.
Five centuries of growing civility in England ended in 1954. Violent crime there has been climbing ever since, and armed crime - with banned handguns the weapon of choice - is described as rocketing. Between April and November 2001, the number of people robbed at gunpoint in London rose by 53 percent. Last summer, in the course of a few days, gun-toting men burst into an English court and freed two defendants; a shooting outside a London nightclub left five women and three men wounded; and two men were machine-gunned to death in a residential neighborhood of North London.
Gun crime is just part of an increasingly lawless environment. Your chances of being mugged in London are now six times greater than in New York. England's rates of robbery and burglary are far higher than America's, and 53 percent of burglaries in England occur while occupants are at home, compared with 13 percent in the United States, where burglars admit to fearing armed homeowners more than the police.
Any reader who is old enough can remember the stereotypes of the British as incredibly civilized people compared to Americans and most other countries. Well, not any more. But if you want to visit a place with extremely low crime rates Japan and Singapore are still available for that purpose. Just don't go to London expecting you'll be safe.
When guns were available in England they were seldom used in crime. A government study for 1890-1892 found an average of one handgun homicide a year in a population of 30 million. But murder rates for both countries are now changing. In 1981 the American rate was 8.7 times the English rate, in 1995 it was 5.7 times the English rate, and by last year it was 3.5 times. With American rates described as "in startling free-fall" and British rates as of October 2002 the highest for 100 years the two are on a path to converge.
While Malcolm's work revolves around crime and gun control she is interesting for another reason because she brings out a lot of statistics about the history of crime in England. Also, she has found that Official British government crime statistics greatly understate the extent of crime and victimization surveys offer a far gloomier picture.
Robert Samuelson worries that tax increases for the aging population may cause wage stagnation or worse.
The great danger of an aging society is that the rising costs of government retirement programs -- mainly Social Security and Medicare -- increase taxes or budget deficits so much that they reduce economic growth. This could trigger an economic and political death spiral. Our commitments to pay retirement benefits grow while our capacity to meet them shrinks. Workers and retirees battle over a relatively fixed economic pie. The debate we're not having is how to avoid this dismal future. President Bush's vague Social Security proposal, including "personal accounts," sidesteps the critical issues. His noisiest critics are equally silent.
Here are the basic numbers, as calculated by Elizabeth Bell, a research assistant to Steuerle. In 2005 Social Security and Medicare are expected to cost $822 billion (that's net of premiums paid by recipients); by 2030 the costs are projected to increase to $4.640 trillion. That's an increase of $3.818 trillion. Over the same period, annual wages and salaries are projected to rise from $5.856 trillion to $17.702 trillion -- an increase of $11.846 trillion. Despite the big numbers, the arithmetic is straightforward: The increases in Social Security and Medicare represent 32 percent of the increases in wages and salaries.
Note that these numbers are based on assumptions about economic growth rates, labor market participation rates, productivity growth rates, and rates of growth of costs of medical care for old folks. Any of the assumptions might be excessively optimistic or pessimistic. My fear is that future tax increases will make the assumptions excessively optimistic.
I know a wealthy venture capitalist who likes to argue that higher taxes would be ruinous to economic growth. This is the argument that Stephen Moore and the Club for Growth use in lobbying and fund raising for Republican primary challengers against any Congresscritters who vote for tax increases. I keep asking these people a basic question: If the argument that high taxes will choke off economic growth is right then won't the tax increases which will be enacted to pay for old age benefits for an aging society lead to economic stagnation?
Why would higher taxes reduce economic growth? Taxes decrease the incentive to engage in work for pay. For example (and this is a hypothetical just to illustrate a point), imagine you needed to get your house painted, a house painter would cost you $10 per hour, in your regular job you made $20 per hour, that your employer offers you overtime hours, and that you were just as productive at painting as the $10 per hour painter. Either you or the painter could paint your house in 100 hours. If you hire the painter then you would pay the painter $1000 to paint your house.
Does it make sense to hire the painter? On the surface it does. In a system where there are no taxes you could work 50 hours in your day job to make the money to pay the painter to work 100 hours. You save yourself 50 hours of time. If your tax rate was 25% you would still be better off paying the painter. You would have to work 66.7 hours to earn $1000 in after-tax income to pay the painter. But you would still save yourself 33.3 hours. So working to earn money to pay someone else would still make sense. But raise the tax rate to 60%. Suddenly even though your time is valued by the job market as twice as valuable as the time of the painter you'd have to work 125 hours in your day job to earn enough money to pay the painter to work 100 hours to save you 100 hours painting your house. With a high enough tax rate it becomes more sensible for you to work less in your day job and to paint your house yourself.
Here's the problem: If you paint your house yourself and work less then you earn less and therefore you pay less in taxes. At the same time the painter does not earn money painting your house and so the painter does not pay taxes on that $1000 he no longer earns. If people react to a tax rate increase by working less the net effect can be a decrease in total revenues collected. This may explain why even the most advanced European nations have much lower per capita GDPs than America.
Worse yet, keep in mind that the reason you as the hypothetical $20 per hour worker would be worth twice as much per hour as the $10 per hour painter is typically (and there are exceptions) because you are more productive and generate more wealth in the form of goods and services per hour worked. But if tax rates cause you to shift from your paid job to a task that commands less per hour the productivity of the economy as a whole declines. Instead of your doing a job for which you are more productive you do a job for which you are less productive.
This shifting of labor out of the paid workforce as a result of high taxes is my nightmare scenario for the future of the American economy. We might get into a vicious cycle where politicians keep raising taxes to pay for medical care and other expenses for old folks while American workers chooses to do less paid work. They might do less paid work and instead go camping or to fix their own car, paint their own house, cook their food from scratch with raw ingredients, or grow their own food. Or they might just go to the beach or go hiking in the mountains rather than work harder to earn the money to pay for a trip abroad or a bigger house.
For more on this see Tyler Cowen's post "Why don't the French work more?" and Alex Tabarrok's post "The Microeconomics of Social Security Privatization".
Update: In a research paper about Social Security privatization Martin Feldstein says tax increases decrease the size of the tax base. (PDF format)
The elasticity of taxable labor income with respect to the net-of-tax share, i.e., to one minus the marginal tax rate on labor income, is much greater than the traditional elasticity of labor supply as measured by labor force participation and average hours worked. Estimating this elasticity is now a subject of very active research among public finance economists. Although a wide range of estimates has been produced, some studies are more reliable than others. I believe that a conservative estimate is that the compensated elasticity of taxable income with respect to the net of tax rate is one-half.
Using this elasticity and the 2004 size of the taxable payroll implies that a rise in the effective marginal tax rate from 37.7 percent to 44.2 percent increases the annual deadweight loss by $96 billion or nearly one percent of GDP.11 Since the 6.5 percent increase in the marginal tax rate applies only to taxable labor income (about 40 percent of GDP), the deadweight loss is equal to about one third of the incremental tax revenue. Even this understates the relative size of the deadweight loss because it ignores the reduction in the tax base and therefore in the tax revenue that results from the higher marginal tax . When that reduction in taxable income is taken into account, the incremental deadweight loss is nearly 50 percent of the incremental revenue.12 The true cost per additional dollar of payroll tax revenue is there $1.50.
Note that this is just the deadweight loss or excess burden – i.e. the pure waste – associated with the incremental tax. It does not include the deadweight loss of the existing tax or the direct burden of the taxes themselves. And it does not include the deadweight loss caused by the program distortions.
At the end of the next to last paragraph I think he meant to say "is therefore $1.50.".
My guess is his estimate for the economic loss from taxes underestimates the cost because it is a static snapshot. The rate of growth will slow and therefore the amount of the loss will become steadily larger in the out years.
A rise in the retirement age is one way to reduce the extent of future tax increases. If people work longer they will pay in for a longer period of time and receive benefits for a shorter period of time. Feldstein argues for private accounts as a partial replacement for Social Security so that people view the money they put into the accounts as savings rather than as taxes. The thinking is that people will be more willing to work to build up savings than to pay taxes and therefore under a private accounts system labor market participation rates will be higher and the economy will grow more rapidly.
Americans, that is, residents of the United States, work much more than do Europeans. Using labor market statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), I find that Americans on a per person aged 15–64 basis work in the market sector 50 percent more than do the French. This was not always the case. In the early 1970s, Americans allocated less time to the market than did the French. The comparisons between Americans and Germans or Italians are the same. Why are there such large differences in labor supply across these countries? Why did the relative labor supplies change so much over time? In this article, I determine the importance of tax rates in accounting for these differences in labor supply for the major advanced industrial countries and find that tax rates alone account for most of them.
This finding has important implications for policy, in particular, for financing public retirement programs, such as U.S. Social Security. On the pessimistic side, one implication is that increasing tax rates will not solve the problem of these underfunded plans, because increasing tax rates will not increase revenue. On the optimistic side, the system can be reformed in a way that makes the young better off while honoring promises to the old. This can be accomplished by modifying the tax system so that when an individual works more and produces
Using per capita GDP measured in purchasing power parity terms France and Germany have 73% of the per capita income of the United States. The reason the gap is not larger is probably because the Europeans also have disincentives in their labor markets for hiring people who are less productive. So some of the labor that is not being used in Europe would be less productive if it was used. However, even among those who do work the Europeans work far fewer hours per year.
Because of the effect that higher taxes have on labor market participation rates the option to raise tax rates to fund retirement may not exist. But that doesn't mean that politicians won't try raising taxes to get the money. This is my fear: Politicians will raise tax rates, lower living standards, slow the economic growth rate (or even reverse it), while not solving the problem of unfunded liabilities in retirement programs. In fact, if economic growth is sufficiently slowed then the tax increases may even make the problem worse.
Thanks to crush41 for finding the Prescott paper.
For several years now, Sen. Larry Craig has teamed up with Sen. Ted Kennedy to relentlessly push the AgJobs bill (the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits, and Security Act, currently S. 359), which would grant amnesty to most illegal alien farmworkers, and their families (plus admit many, many more through a harmful “temporary” worker program). Estimates are that as many as three million illegals could take advantage of this amnesty.
Sen. Craig has said he intends to offer his amnesty as an amendment when the military spending bill is considered next week on the Senate floor. His hope is that if his amnesty is added to the Senate version of the bill it will be too difficult for pro-borders Republicans in the House to kill it when the two bodies meet to reconcile the different versions of the bill.
AgJobs lets illegals who work in agriculture to get amnesty. Of course you can bet that just about every illegal in the country would come forth claiming to have worked under the table in some tomato field for a few weeks (which is all that is required to get the amnesty - at least in the 2004 version of the bill).
Western Growers Association President Tom Nassif spoke with Peter Jennings last week on ABC World News Tonight to voice his support for the "AgJOBS bill," which would give legal status to some U.S. farmworkers.
Congress may be becoming more sensitive to and worried about anti-immigration sentiment. I noticed in articles about the AgJobs bill that the number of co-sponsors in the Senate are a lot lower than they were last year. Frank Gaffney thinks that many previous cosponsors of AgJobs will still be willing to vote for it this year.
Interestingly, Messrs. Craig and Kennedy have significantly fewer co-sponsors (43) on their legislation this year than in the last session of Congress (62). At this writing, it is unclear if many of those senators who no longer want to be publicly associated with this amnesty bill will nonetheless vote for it.
In fact, AgJobs had 63 Senate cosponsors in 2004 and 115 House cosponsors. Note that while in the Senate almost two thirds of the 100 members were cosponsors. But with 435 members in the House of Representatives the AgJobs consponsors in the House last year were slightly more than a third of the total membership.
Republican Party activists who want more restrictive immigration laws and real enforcement of immigration laws need to start requiring Congressional candidates to pass a litmus test on immigration.
Marc Fisher, who served as the Washington Post Berlin bureau chief from 1989 to 1993 says Pope John Paul II's role in bringing down communism is being greatly exaggerated and the Eastern Europeans really wanted higher living standards and more freedom to travel and live as they chose.
So I always asked: Why are you doing this? And the answers came in a torrent, as if decades of silence had been unplugged. Especially in East Germany, where almost everyone could watch West German TV (though they had to keep the volume way down because it was strictly verboten to watch, and if the neighbor heard, there could be trouble), people talked about their jealousy for the material goods that Westerners enjoyed—the clothes, the shoes, the cars, the food. They talked about their dreams of traveling outside the Soviet Bloc and about the hopes—mainly for a particular career or area of study—they'd had when they were young. And they talked about the freedom to say what they wanted or to teach their children about realities other than what the socialist state had ordained.
Even when I sat in churches for hours on end, talking to ministers, priests, and the generally nonreligious people who came there because of the more open atmosphere, the talk was of political freedom and consumer goods, not of faith.
Fisher's argument strikes me as correct. The Pope had some influence in Poland. But most of the people in late communist era Eastern Europe were not Christians of any sort, let alone Catholics. Russia and the Ukraine were formerly Orthodox but few believers remained. What caused communism's collapse? The material differences between the communist East and relatively more capitalistic West became too large and glaring. The communist economies were stagnating and even in decline. The greater exposure to Westerners that came as a result of Nixon and Kissinger's negotiations with Moscow heightened the awareness of Eastern Europeans and Russians that they were falling hopelessly behind.
In the Soviet Union it was the KGB itself that helped initiate reforms that eventually spun out of control. Why? The KGB had many people who had spent time in the West and they knew how far behind they were falling. Reagan's Star Wars initiative, while widely criticised in the United States as unachievable, worried the Soviet leaders who feared US technological advantages might be usable to develop weapons that would neutralize much of Russia's nuclear arsenal. Capitalism's triumph over communism motivated the reformers to try to find ways to keep up. The communist reformers set in motion changes that they failed to control. Widespread desires for a better life and a loss of faith in communism led to the collapse of the USSR and the freeing of Eastern Europe. Gorbachev's inept leadership undermined efforts to control the reforms. The Pope played a relatively small role by comparsion.
This vast desert border just west of Douglas, Ariz., is the busiest illegal crossing point in the nation. Enriquez said more than 400 people a day walk these harsh trails. But news of the Minutemen's arrival, combined with media hype in Mexico, has cut the traffic to a few dozen a day.
Some smugglers have refused to take clients to the border area until the activists leave. Others are directing them elsewhere, as far east as El Paso, Texas. An air of fear and indignation hangs over this side of the border, where misinformation is rife.
AGUA PRIETA, Mexico Apr 6, 2005 — The number of Mexican migrants trying to sneak into the United States through the Arizona border has dropped by half since hundreds of American civilians began guarding the area earlier this week, say Mexican officials assigned to protect their citizens.
''The project is already a huge success because all the world is watching," said Mike McGarry, a Minuteman Project spokesman.
The Minutemen Project web site has photos from their patrols at the border in Arizona.
About 500 volunteers have registered and have been in the field, said McGarry, who added that he expects 1,000 people to participate at some point during the monthlong project. Organizers said 200 volunteers took up positions Monday, the vast majority during the day. Some ''minutemen" set up lawn chairs and applied sunscreen as they watched the border.
On the Mexican side of the border, agents in orange jumpsuits from the government migrant aid agency were driving around warning people where the volunteers were stationed. Many of the migrants were likely going to other sections of the border, said Bertha de la Rosa, director of Grupo Beta in the border town of Aguaprieta.
The Minuteman Project is the brainchild of Chris Simcox, the editor of Tombstone Tumbleweed, the newspaper in the town best known for the Gunfight at the OK Corral.
"Our aim is to send a message to Mr Bush and Congress that they have not listened to the demands of citizens," he said as he deployed teams every few hundred yards along five miles of border. "We are modelling what homeland security should look like. There should be National Guardsmen every 2,000 yards from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico. You can't find a greater threat to the US than right here."
A spokesman for the Border Patrol objects to the Minutemen because the Minutemen disrupt regular bureaucratic procedures and also because some illegals are so dangerous that the Border Patrol doesn't want to accidentally run into US civilians in what the Border Patrol considers a danger zone.
But Border Patrol agents weren't happy with the hoards of volunteers who they said posed a dangerous situation for both the agents and themselves. In the Naco area of the Tucson sector last year, 118 border agents were assaulted, said Jose Maheda, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
"These minutemen are causing a disruption in our normal operating procedures,' Maheda said over the growing chants of the crowd. "Now we have to worry about running into civilians in the dark night out there in the desert, armed civilians without training. We do not encourage this type of participation.'
Of course there are lots of American citizens living near the border getting assaulted and robbed by these dangerous illegal border crossers. What of them?
: "I am against vigilantes in the United States of America. I am for enforcing law in a rational way. That's why we have a Border Patrol, and they ought to be in charge of enforcing the border." Bush, as HUMAN EVENTS readers know, budgeted only $37 million for 210 new Border Patrol agents, even though he signed a law in December that authorized doubling the Border Patrol from about 10,000 agents to 20,000 by adding 2,000 new agents per year for five years. The Minuteman Project, meanwhile, was none too pleased by the President's remarks. Its leaders called the group a large-scale "neighborhood watch" project that would work with police to report illegal aliens.
News flash to Bush: Citizens have a legal right to enforce the laws of the United States. But as Michelle Malkin pointed out in response Bush does not intend to enforce immigration law.
"Since when did actually enforcing the laws of the land become a radical idea?" asked Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., a leading supporter of tougher immigration measures. "If you don't know who is coming across your borders and for what purpose, then you cannot call yourself a nation."
Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., fresh from victory in three online presidential straw polls over formidable candidates, told Joseph Farah's radio audience today he would run for president in 2008 if no other Republican candidate takes the border issue seriously.
"I'll tell you what," he said, "if no one else does it, I will do it."
I'll vote for Tom. If another Open Borders yahoo gets the Republican nomination then I hope I'll be able to vote for staunch illegal immigration opponent Hillary Clinton.
Update: Michelle Malkin found Hillary's anti-immigration rhetoric worth taking seriously even though previously Michelle found much to fault Hillary for on immigration. The late Sam Francis was more skeptical about Hillary's more recent immigration position. Hillary has a bad report card on immigration voting. Well, I'm a Tom Tancredo for President supporter.
From the start of the Bush Administration in January 2001 through March 2005:
- Total household employment rose 2,730,000, or 2.0 percent
- Hispanic employment rose by 2,312,000, or by 14.3 percent
- Non-Hispanic employment rose by 416,000, or by 0.3 percent
Hispanic immigrants are displacing American workers and driving down wages. The unemployment rate does not tell the whole story for a couple of reasons. First, the number of people in the labor force is probably larger than the government assumes because the government is undercounting illegals. Also, in order to be counted as unemployed you have to be classified as in the labor force. A lot of workers have become discouraged and their labor market participation has declined. The non-Hispanic part of the US working age population probably grew by a lot more than 0.3 percent over the last 4 years.
America does not need a bigger lower class. The Bush Administration seems intent on turning the United States into Latin America with a small middle class and larger upper and especially lower classes. I wonder if Bush even understands what he is doing. My guess is he has deluded himself.
Former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm says illegal immigrant labor costs are subsidized for employers by the taxpayers. Lamm goes on to list other ways that taxpayers subsidize illegal immigrant labor including medical care.
Transparency International, in their new Global Corruption Report 2005, argues that reconstruction in Iraq faces serious corruption problems.
“Funds being poured into rebuilding countries such as Iraq must be safeguarded against corruption,” Eigen said today. “Transparency must also be the watchword as donors pledge massive sums for reconstruction in the countries affected by the Asian tsunami,” he added. The Global Corruption Report 2005, with a foreword by Francis Fukuyama, includes a special focus on construction and post-conflict reconstruction, and highlights the urgent need for governments to ensure transparency in public spending and for multinational companies to stop bribing at home and abroad.
“The unfolding scandal surrounding the UN sponsored oil-for-food programme in Iraq highlights the urgent need for strict conflict-of-interest rules and transparent and open bidding processes,” said Eigen. As Reinoud Leenders and Justin Alexander write in the GCR 2005, much of the anticipated expenditure on building and procurement in Iraq has not yet been spent. “If urgent steps are not taken,” they write, Iraq “will become the biggest corruption scandal in history”.
"I can see all sorts of levels of corruption in Iraq," says report contributor Reinoud Leenders, "starting from petty officials asking for bribes to process a passport, way up to contractors delivering shoddy work and the kind of high-level corruption involving ministers and high officials handing out contracts to their friends and clients."
The recent elections may help, he adds, but already he notes a tendency for political bargaining indicative of "dividing up the cake of state resources."
Of course! Whoever controls Iraq's government controls the second largest oil reserves in the world. These officials will become less constrained in their mad grabs for money once the US presence winds down. Whichever faction comes out on top gets the spoils.
Willis and other critics worry that with just $4.1 billion of the $18.7 billion spent so far, the U.S. legal stance will open the door to much more fraud in the future.
...Grassley adds that if the government decides the False Claims Act doesn't apply to Iraq, "any recovery for fraud, waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars ... would be prohibited."
The biggest problem with insufficient oversight in the handling of the US aid money is that the graft and corruption in its spending helps to reinforce the culture of corruption.
Baghdad, Iraq -- "Haramia," or "thieves," is the new name given to local contractors who receive money to fix up schools, then allegedly do such a poor job that they can put most of the money in their pockets, those on a Sadr City advisory committee say.
Ministry of Education officials acknowledge problems but say they're doing everything they can to combat them.
In one case, contractors actually stole light fixtures from the school instead of painting, replacing doors, or doing anything else called for in fix-up plans, said a school teacher who declined to be named. At another school, a man who would identify himself only as Mohammed said contractors threatened him and the principal with death if they did not sign a paper saying shoddy work had been done adequately.
When Saddam and his Baath Party were overthrown in 2003, it quickly became apparent that there were not enough trained (and experienced) Shia Arab and Kurdish bureaucrats to run the whole country. So Sunni Arab officials were brought back in. And then the thieving began. Billions of dollars went missing. There were Shia Arab and Kurdish thieves as well, but they were not as experienced, or as ruthless, as the Sunni Arab officials. Case in point is the use of Sunni Arab gangs as hit men, to eliminate honest officials who are trying to crack down on corruption.
Another problem is family relationships. Family ties are important in Iraq, and the families tend to be large and expansive. A Sunni Arab police commander might easily have a cousin working for a terrorist group, and another who’s a banker in Europe or Egypt. The police commander can use these connections to get a corruption investigator murdered, and to get stolen money out of the country and laundered in a foreign bank. There are at least a few thousand Sunni Arabs involved in corruption in a big way (many more in smaller ways), and several billion dollars, at least, that have been stolen so far. Do the math. How do you think people are paying for all those new luxury cars and mansions? The crooks are smart. They spread the money around in the family. That buys protection, and places to hide when the going gets very rough.
StrategyPage does not think Iraq is by any means assured to turn out well.
A happy ending is not assured. If enough Iraqis do not step up for honest government, the country will end up with another Saddam.
But most Iraqis say they can live with gas lines and power outages if they can be assured of safety.
"Yes, some new things are available now, mobile phones, satellite TV, new cars. But the thing that we lost is more valuable," says Basim Majid, the manager of an electronics store. "We are in the middle of chaos and there is no way back. I hope they use force to spread security."
Bassam Henna, who is unemployed, is discouraged. "Frankly, the time of Saddam was better in general," he says. "Not Saddam himself, with all his faults and all his mistakes, but in general, that time was better than now. If we are missing him, imagine what the situation is like."
A feeling of triumphalism has swept over the ranks of some Iraq war advocates in the wake of reduced insurgent attacks in Iraq and the protests in Beirut to remove Syrian troops from Lebanon. My own conservative sentiment remains that humans are not so easily improved and recall that most American attempts to bring democracy and rule of law to foreign lands have beeen failures. The reasons for the absence of democracy in so many Middle Eastern countries are very deeply rooted. Consanguineous cousin marriage is just one of them. There are still other causes for democracy to fail to take root.
Craig A. McNeil, an officer in the US Army reserve who spent time in Iraq, has an interesting essay on life in the Army which includes the absurdity of regulations for people who are warriors.
When we were coming home from Iraq, before we boarded the most beautiful airplane I have ever been on in my life, we received a briefing from an Air Force sergeant. "Federal regulations prohibit you from carrying certain dangerous items onto the aircraft. You may not transport knives or other cutting instruments, firearms, or explosives. Of course, this does not include your assault rifles, pistols, or bayonets." I stood and watched while a kid who was carrying an M-249 squad automatic weapon (a light machine gun) and a 9mm pistol put his pocketknife in a box. Let's think about this for a minute. If one of us were to hijack that plane, how would that have gone?
"Take this plane to America right now and no one gets hurt!"
"But we're already going to America."
"All right, then."
Has America grown too large and too regulated? Has it become too formalized? Think about that Air Force sergeant. He and his superiors who order him to read ridiculous regulations to a bunch of guys carrying their guns back from a war wouldn't think to just decide that reading the regulations should be skipped in some circumstances. I see this as a problem. The mentality of respect for rules can go too far and that is unhealthy for a society.
More troubling is that so many rules and regulations exist in the first place. Worse still, there will be more rules next year and more each year after that into the foreseeable future.
Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute says price controls in other countries are decreasing the incentives for new drug development and hurting us all. In the latest extension of harmful socialist interventions in drug markets Germany is eliminating the ability of drug companies to charge more for most patented drugs.
Health care is expensive, but inadequate treatment is even more expensive. This is a lesson the German government has yet to learn. For years much of the world has been a free rider on U.S. medical R&D. Most industrialized states rely on a mix of price and volume controls to limit pharmaceutical spending. These governments expect American drug makers to keep supplying their products, almost irrespective of price.
As a result, U.S. citizens are bearing a steadily increasing medical burden: Since 1999 America has accounted for 71% of the sales of new chemical entities, up from 62%. Japan and Germany, the next two largest pharmaceutical markets, account for just 4% each.
Washington is under increasing pressure to end this sweet deal for other nations. In fact, the U.S. has started to raise the issue in trade negotiations.
The real solution, however, is for other nations to pay a fair price for what they use. After all, countries that impose drug-price controls are degrading the health of their citizens while raising other treatment expenses.
Germany's newly tightened therapeutical reference-pricing program is an unfortunate example. Under reference pricing, drugs are grouped by pharmacological equivalence. Generics and patented products are listed together and reference prices are set based on the difference between the cheapest and most expensive drugs.
I see the drug price control issue as a matter of life and death. If more countries allowed market pricing for drugs more and better drugs would be brought to market and we'd all benefit from better treatments, better health, and longer life expectancies.
Where a disease can be effectively treated or avoided by use of a drug it almost always saves money over other treatment options. Surgery and other methods of treatment are typically much more expensive and often orders of magnitude more expensive.
According Dr. James Cleeman, coordinator of the National Cholesterol Educational Program in the U.S., statins are cost effective even at $100 a month because heart disease costs "hundreds of billions of dollars." Treatment for high cholesterol demonstrates how Germany fails to balance lower cost with better treatment. Some 1.8 million Germans take Pfizer's Lipitor, sold there as Sortis. Numerous studies have demonstrated that Sortis lowers cholesterol and thereby reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes, even among high-risk populations suffering from diabetes and hypertension.
However, Sortis is being bundled with generic statins, which would impose a price cut of 38% this year and a cumulative reduction of 63% next year. The other medicines work, but studies indicate that Sortis works better -- reduces cholesterol more with fewer side-effects. Yet GemBa refused to delay implementation of the reference pricing for statins. Average Germans are the big losers.
The Germans are preventing better drugs from having a higher price than lousier drugs. They are also preventing drugs under patent from earning back their development costs and thereby decreasing the incentive to develop new patented drugs. Short term cheap drug prices come at the expense of reducing the number of new drugs that will be available in the future. I can understand the selfish motives of those who are old enough to know they won't benefit from new drugs 20 or 30 years hence. But anyone who is young enough to expect to need new treatments 20, 30, 40, or 50 years from now has a vested interest in deregulating drug prices in Europe, Canada, and other price-regulated markets.
The Bush Administration ought to make drug price controls and intellectual property rights violations of pharmaceutical companies a far higher priority in foreign relations. Far more lives would be saved by better protection of pharmaceutical intellectual property than from the vast bulk of the issues which are the focus of current US diplomacy.
As Tyler Cowen points out the US market's funding of the bulk of current drug development is "a massive form of implicit foreign aid". Other industrial countries should stop freeloading off of the American drug consumer and adopt market pricing. The result will be better health for all of us as much larger numbers of drugs and more effective drugs are developed.