Legislature Punishes Work
by Ari Armstrong, July 12, 2006
The "Special" Session
As near as I can tell, the main consequence of the aptly named "special" legislative session on immigration will be to increase sales of fake IDs. House Bill 1017 imposes additional requirements on employers to collect identification from employees and authorizes additional state audits, and Bill 1023 requires those on "non-emergency" welfare to show ID, according to a Denver Post report. (I don't suppose that either Bill 1020, to make "illegal" wages non-tax-deducible -- because, you know, employers now scrupulously fill in the "illegal wage" box on their tax forms -- or Bill 1022, to take a vote authorizing a lawsuit against the feds, will amount to much.)
And so perhaps more employers will collect more fake identification papers from Mexicans engaged in the crime of working. Yeah, legislature. (The Post does relate that the language of 1017 was "watered down" before passage to reduce the harm to employers. Yet the Rocky Mountain News editorializes that the measure remains "an invitation for business rivals, activist groups and disgruntled employees to harass law-abiding companies -- particularly those that hire large numbers of Hispanics and other immigrant workers.")
It is interesting, though, that the Democrats actually buckled on a tiny matter of welfare spending. The likely result will be to cut off a few of the poorest recipients to make more room for wealthier ones. But apparently the Democrats can read poll results, too, and after all illegals can't vote. Republicans can't seem to criticize welfare generally, but they can criticize welfare for illegal immigrants who, entirely by coincidence, happen to have brown skin. Because that's really showing some principles.
The same legislature, of course, found plenty of funds for corporate welfare. It's okay to steal money for politically-connected businesses, so long as poor Mexicans are cut off.
There is one concept that, as far as I can tell, neither Democrats nor Republicans have dared even to mutter under their breath in the context of the current debate: the concept of individual rights. Individuals have the right to life and the right to pursue their values in a political system that recognizes the freedom necessary for the rational mind to flourish -- the system of free markets and private property.
People have the right to dispose of their incomes as they see fit. They should not be forced to provide welfare payments to anyone, whether born in Colorado, Texas, or Mexico. People have the right to give, or to refrain from giving, to the charitable causes of their choice.
People have the right to contract for employment on terms they find mutually agreeable (so long as the job does not entail the violation of anyone else's rights). People have the right to invite others onto their property to work.
People have the right to purchase products and services from willing suppliers. Government actions that prevent such market transactions -- and that thereby result in higher prices for consumers -- violate individual rights.
Yet where is the champion in Colorado's legislature to defend individual rights? Wrong state, I guess. Wrong era. If you want populist, big-government interventionism, if you want more bureaucracy, more red tape, and more state harassment of employers, this is your place.
The Market Liberal of Mexico?
Hopefully the victory of Felipe Calderón as Mexico's new president will mark a turning point for that country's economy. He is described as a free-market advocate, though I'm not sure how far that goes. Nor am I sure that he can overcome the interventionism, corruption, political favoritism, and make-work mentality that plagues the nation's productivity. But if Calderón is successful in establishing the right trends, maybe in some future decade the big problem will be U.S. citizens trying to find work in Mexico and escape the high tax burdens of ever-expanding welfare spending.
Amazingly, though, in a July 8 headline above an editorial, The Denver Post described Calderón's socialist opponent as a "liberal." "Liberal" has too noble an etymology to be so humiliated.
Super Illegal Man
Superman? I say deport the joker back to Krypton. As Smallville makes clear, this so-called "super" man immigrated illegally, then his "parents" forged his adoption papers. (We won't even get into the flight rules he broke.) Super man? Super criminal, more like it. And look at all the jobs he's stealing from real American citizens. He's put hundreds if not thousands of emergency workers out of a job. Zero tolerance for illegal aliens -- it's the new American way.
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is a heart-wrenching film by Tommy Lee Jones, written by Guillermo Arriaga. Obviously Estrada dies in the film. But how he dies, and how he is buried, becomes the center of a melancholy, simple, and beautifully told story. I won't reveal any more; go rent it.
It seems that with all the talk of "illegal aliens" some people forget that Mexicans are real people. They have real families, real lives, real values, real rights. Millions of Mexican immigrants, both legal and illegal, are very fine, good, virtuous, hardworking people. Why is it that the Republicans can find no "brotherly love" for those who deserve it? Yes, the "rule of law" is imperative. But there is no virtue in supporting unjust laws. The proper aim of the law is to protect individual rights. Those who hide behind unjust statutes to punish good people obviously have a deeper agenda, and a very ugly one.