Things I've Tagged ‘Government’

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#Government, #Immigration, #Infographics, #Politics

So What About Illegal Immigration?

Since I have no readership to speak of, I suspect this is unlikely to spark the backlash it does elsewhere; and frankly it seems to be a wholly uncontroversial topic unless you’re a liberal and hyper sensitive to arguments against your political positions. With these caveats, written to ease my own mind, I have to ask, why shouldn’t we be looking at those that are breaking the law, and enforce those laws? And by breaking the law, I mean immigrating to the United States illegally–in a manner that is not set forth as a legal pathway to entering this country. Using the same, if not more lenient, set of laws you would see in any other country to boot.

So, what about it? What makes enforcement so controversial? Why is it such a travesty to ask an individual, whom you have first detained because of another unrelated infraction, to produce proof of their status to reside in or visit this nation?

Population of Arizona by Race. ‘Infographic’ by Mike Mattner, data from the U.S. Census Bureau accessed May13, 2010.

The idea that such a proposal is racist is ridiculous to begin with. Let’s use a little reason to determine this assertion. First, in Arizona the immigrant population, by the very nature of geography, is going to be made up almost entirely of Mexicans. It also stands to reason that those entering Arizona illegally would also be from Mexico. And so, law enforcement is likely to single this group out when detaining an individual that has all ready committed some infraction to determine their residency status. And why shouldn’t they? It has nothing to do with race, rather it has to do with deductive reasoning in this case.

What’s the racial break down anyway? As expected the dominant race in Arizona is White at about 58% of the population, followed by Hispanic at about 30%, American Indian at about 5% (which is unsurprising considering the native history of the region), then Black at 4% and Asian at 2%.

So, with such a large Hispanic population that happens to emigrate legally or otherwise from the United States southern neighbor of Mexico, it only seems natural that law enforcement would want to target this group–when individuals have all ready been detained based on having committed an infraction of some kind–as they are the most likely to be here illegally. American Indian, Black, and Asian residents happen to make up a much smaller proportion of the population and are therefore less likely to be a substantial problem in terms of residency. White individuals make up a large portion of the population, but immigration from Europe has not been as robust as immigration from Central and South America, and will likely not recover any time soon, meaning they are less likely to reside in the United States illegally.

Put another way, if you know for a fact that residents from Fakistan are constantly entering the domain of Nationistan illegally, why wouldn’t the government of Nationistan check those of Fakistanni origin when conducting some other lawful search?

On the flip side, none of the points I made about the other racial groups in any way mean those groups are excluded from the law. On the contrary, this is meant to cover everyone, to ensure folks are here legally. This isn’t kristallnacht by any means. The law does not allow for the round up and deportation of any specific groups, or any individuals at all. In fact, it is meant to cover a case where an individual has been detained, and the law enforcement officer in question suspects that the individual is here illegally. In this situation, and this situation only, can the officer demand to see proof of residency, and that can be as simple as showing a state issued ID card.

Maybe someone can explain to me why this is such an issue because I’m grasping in the dark here.

#Government, #Politics, #Progressivism

Giving Progressive Thought a Voice: Role of Government

I can’t claim an extensive understanding of progressive thought, but I am willing to give it a hearing; I’m mostly willing to do so in order to exemplify the ideals I’m always preaching about; namely that ideas need to be heard and debated, not cut down without analysis. So how do I determine what to address or discuss? I will have to use media sources, first, because I am not as intimately involved as I should be in reading and researching progressive thought; second, I won’t use this particular post to critque the ideology in question, merely to spell it out and gain an understanding. I’ll leave the commentary to the comment area (a bit of a confusing phrase?) if any will take place.

First, what role should government play in our lives? What I get from liberal friends and from a basic reading of the news is that many of these individuals are, in general, a passionate group and often place the well-being of others at the forefront of their philosophy; this is why they do what they do, for the less well-off. What can be done to ensure that these folks are taken care of, and how best to accomplish this goal?

In general, it is best to support a government that is vast and far reaching in order to help the most people; plus reform doesn’t move fast enough in society and provides a less reliable motivator; for social justice it is best to force change through legislative action; barring that, perhaps judicial activism. This philosophy “holds that the function of the liberal state is to supply individuals with the opportunity to provide for themselves by useful work. The right to work and the right to a living wage are considered as real as the right to person and property, while unemployment and low wages are considered to be a reproach to the justice of society.” 1 So in a sense, the right to work becomes a natural right, which is granted by government, a right which is to be protected at all costs, while inequality indicates how certain segments of society are served poorly by current institutions.

The focus is generally on the good of the community as a whole rather than what is good for individual actors, so that everyone can live an equally good life. “It conceives the rights of the individual as harmonious with those of the community, and defines the first in terms of a common good and the second in terms of the well-being of individuals. Social liberal policies include government intervention in the economy to provide full employment and social welfare, and protection of human rights.” 1

A small critique of this thought process. While I said I would not offer criticisms, it best to provide a little balance. The state has been described “as the entity that maintains a monopoly over the legitimate use of force in a given territory.” 2 Meaning, the state is the only entity that can manipulate actors in any meaningful, legitimate way. In order to accomplish progressive goals by attempting to provide work and reasonable wages means that the state must force it’s citizenry to comply with any edicts regarding work and wages in order to ensure compliance. 2 I would like to assume that the citizenry wouldn’t normally accept this kind of pressure to conform without a rational reason, though.

In my opinion, what makes progressivism so dangerous is the nobility of its causes. When taken in the abstract, for instance, there are few who would disparage the importance of progressive priorities such as health care and education. The difference between progressives and conservatives, however, is that progressives consider these issues to be matters of “social justice,” thereby necessitating government provision. Politically, we often see progressive policies gain more traction because it is easier to create massive deficit-financed entitlement programs than to ask people to make spending sacrifices in their own lives. This makes intuitive sense since whatever money the government borrows needs to be paid back by future generations. Therefore, we can almost think of the government as a hidden financing mechanism for American households. Yet, while progressive policies might seem attractive—since they allow Americans to collectively finance social programs via low interest government debt—they ultimately require people to pay a much higher cost: their own freedom. That is, every time we expand the government’s mandate, we effectively socialize private rights, especially those pertaining to property. 2

In short, this is why so many people align themselves with progressive/liberal policies. Because it is noble, and just to do so on it’s face. Thus, one could come to the conclusion that the converse was true of classical liberal thought; that it is merely heartless and self serving–well self serving perhaps is sort of accurate.

What are your thoughts on progressive ideology? What role should government play in society? Why do you subscribe to/not subscribe to progressive ideology? Could you see the opposing sides view in a positive light and would you be willing to try to understand it in order to better understand your own views?

I want to leave you with a thought from F.A. Hayek, brought to my attention by Mr. Hollander: “If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion.” 2

  1. Social Liberalism. Wikipedia. Accessed at 2/15/2010. Don’t lambaste me on my source for this. It’s a brief overview of the philosophy and enough for my purposes here.
  2. Hollander, Jonathan. The Progressive Road to Serfdom. Columbia Spectator. Accessed at 2/15/2010.

#Government, #Liberty, #Politics, #Republicanism

We hear praise of a power-wielding, arm-twisting President who ‘gets his program through Congress’ by knowing the use of power…[some] of the current worship of powerful executives may come from those who admire strength and accomplishment of any sort.

Others hail the display of Presidential strength simply because they approve of the result reached by the use of power. This is nothing less than the totalitarian philosophy that the end justifies the means. If ever there was a philosophy of government totally at war with that of the Founding Fathers, it is this one.

Barry Goldwater

#Gas, #Government, #Oil Prices, #Taxation

Gas Tax Holiday

It sounds so warm and inviting, doesn’t it? Say it out loud: Gas. Tax. Holiday. Do you get the same tingling feeling that I do? It goes right to your toes. I keep thinking about this proposed vacation of sorts as a trip to the Caribbean–a trip that might or might not cost you $30 less over the course of three months than it normally would.

That does sound like a really fantastic deal doesn’t it? Not so, say economists, and rightly so I’d guess. Justin Wolfers over at the Freakonomics Blog posed a challenge to economists. He wanted to find an economist who thought that this gas tax holiday made any sense. So far, none have taken up the challenge. I wonder why?

Now, I’m no economist but I understand a couple of different things about this proposal. Let’s run through it real quick. Hillary and McCain back the deal which would be a suspension of the Federal tax on gasoline (roughly $.184); in addition to that, Hillary proposes a tax on the windfall profits (a weird way to say their exorbitant profits) of oil companies to make up for that suspended tax. This is primarily an effort to reduce costs to the consumer, which in my tank would amount to about $3.12 every fill-up and perhaps $12.50 every month–not too impressive in my eyes considering the well over $300 my wife and I spend every month on fuel.

At any rate, the suspension of the Federal tax is all well and good, but taxing the oil companies, in addition to what they already pay, is not. That extra cost will be passed on to the consumer, thereby negating the benefit of the suspended tax. Also, if I remember my intro to macro economics course, two of the primary factors driving the equilibrium price of a product are the current supply of that product and the demand for it.

If politicians truly wanted to make a difference and reduce gasoline prices they would allow domestic oil companies to drill in viable regions in our own country and off the coast in an effort to increase supply. With an increase in domestic supply, we are likely to be less susceptible to foreign pressures in the market (and reduce our dependence on foreign oil).

Granted, it will take a while for new drilling to have an affect on supply, but it would seem that anything we can do to increase domestic oil supplies would be a good thing. In addition to drilling domestically, oil companies must invest in new technologies for them to remain viable beyond oil–this isn’t about creating a happy environment, it’s about sound business principles.

However, right now someone is getting very rich–some impressive inflation, food being used for fuel, and speculators are making it happen. Incomes are not keeping up with the pace of inflation.

I don’t know all there is to know about our economy, but I do know that this gas tax holiday will not have the effect politicians are promising. At this point, the money saved is a slap to the face.

I guess $30 saved is $30 earned–dirty panderers.

Update: 5/7/08 12:34pm — After reading a bit, it seems inflation is really only affecting the volatile food and fuel markets much more aggressively than others, which accounts for the general inflation rate being so low; but I suspect most people are not seeing their wages rise accordingly. (Source: Seeing Inflation Only in the Prices That Go Up)