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DREAM ACT CREATES NIGHTMARES

A full time college student in Florida recently announced his status as an illegal immigrant at a public rally.  Jose Salcedo, an elite student at Miami Dade College, fearlessly proclaimed his ‘undocumented’ status in what was said to be a rally of support for the proposed, and recently delayed, DREAM Act.  The Dream Act proposes that illegal immigrants brought here when they were babies, toddlers or teens who end up enrolled in college or in the military, be granted citizenship.  Salcedo’s announcement and the DREAM Act are further examples of our contradictory immigration policies and enforcement.  For this student to have so shamelessly confessed to a crime in public and for Congress to consider modifying a standard which is already so ambiguous, only complicates and confuses the immigration issue.  This ambiguity of policy, law, law enforcement, and basic decision making is why it’s difficult to have an informed position on immigration as there is no way of knowing how our current laws would even work because they’re not enforced.

            When Salcedo proclaimed his criminal status it was widely reported as a controversial and intriguing story.  A story that really ‘hits a chord’ with the community by raising awareness and ultimately creating sympathy for these victims and their plight.  A story which raises questions and challenges us to consider where we stand on an issue like this (http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/11/17/1931298/at-dream-act-rally-a-surprise.html).  There were no subsequent stories however, of law enforcement officials taking Salcedo into custody, let alone contacting him.  His unlawful status is somehow different.  There are no other crimes for which we distinguish their status as much as we do illegal immigration.  Once the term ‘illegal immigrant’ is introduced, we should have all the information we need.  Yet so often we particularize each case of illegal immigration. Asking questions about the specifics and scrutinizing deeply as if we had no laws in place whatsoever.  These stories come up all the time. If there’s an illegal immigrant who’s pregnant and seeks an abortion, we actually stop and ask ourselves, “Hmm, should we allow illegals to get abortions?”  How is that question even raised?  Why do we take any action other than charging, trying, convicting and sentencing her for her crime?  The sentence being deportation.  Should we allow them to finish college if they’re already enrolled?  No.  We should deport them.  Should we allow them to seek state or federally funded jobs?  No.  We should deport them.  Should we provide them with medical treatment?  As much medical treatment as they need to fulfill their sentence: deportation.  Should we educate them?  Well, as much education as they need to understand the details of serving their sentence: “Get on boat.  Get off boat.”  Should we allow them to vote in local elections?  Provide religious sanctuary?  Issue driver’s licenses?  No.  No.  No.  Deport.  Deport.  Deport.  Put simply, you say ‘murderer’, I say 25 to life. You say ‘illegal immigrant’, I say deportation.

            I can certainly understand the argument behind the DREAM Act.  The idea that it isn’t some 10 year old’s fault that his parents were such shameless, degenerate criminals in bringing him here illegally.  But that scenario is only a further example of how ambiguous and lax our laws have been for so long.  And to identify someone in that position as a victim who should be exonerated is to basically create a statute of limitations on the crime of illegal immigration based on someone’s age and duration of lawlessness.  So, if you can get away with it for long enough, we’ll let you get away with it forever.

            We all know how this country was founded.  Through conquest and immigration.  That lax foundation of immigration structure, basically a  free-for-all, is what makes us the great American melting pot we are.  As well as it can be understood that this foundation was beneficial to us at the time, it should be equally understood that it isn’t the way things are anymore.  We have since become a country that has immigration problems, population problems, and as much as ever, homeland security problems. The more we indulge ourselves in debate over specific instances of alleged controversy, the more we discredit our current laws and confuse the entire issue. Whatever direction we are going to take, whatever goals we seek, whatever we decide is in the country’s best interest, we should at least take it seriously enough to be able to legislate, adjudicate and execute a clear standard of laws and conviction to those laws. Legislate, adjudicate and execute. Yes. I’m quite certain I’ve read that somewhere…

OVERLEVERAGING TEACHES CAPITALISM

Economic education is almost nonexistent in this country, so people are not taught  the benefits of capitalism.  This lack of education spills into our political debate, and can cause decisions (elections), that people do not often realize will greatly affect their economic opportunities.  The financial crisis of 2008 opened the door for anti-capitalist voices to be heard, and allowed for the election of a President that has socialistic views.  Whether Mr. Obama is a “Socialist” or not, he certainly advocates socialist policies. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baIFocVnJpc&feature=related, and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpAyan1fXCE).  These socialist policies were rejected in two years which is faster than other historical lurches toward socialism in US history.  I believe that people being overleveraged, and seeing what is possible well above their current tax bracket helped put the brakes on this socialist agenda. 

There is no doubt that there has been excessive availability of credit, and people have become overleveraged in recent years.  This availability of credit before the financial crisis was arguably the greatest in the history of the United States.  Many people lived well beyond their means at all levels of the economic scale.  Whether it was buying a flat screen TV, a car, or even a house beyond one’s means, people lived at levels of 10, 20, even 50% beyond their actual income level.  This extra credit sloshing around the country gave people the experience of living at a greater level of affluence than their income justified.  As a result, there are long term debt problems that are currently being worked through by many of these people. 

America has experimented with socialism throughout her history.  The two most recent moves  were spearheaded by FDR & LBJ.  FDR was elected in 1932 pushing through the “New Deal”.  It never revived the economy (WWII did that), but the Democrats held the White House and the House of Representatives until 1946.  LBJ took office in 1963 with a reelection in 1964.  He oversaw “The Great Society” which pushed additional socialist policies onto the country.  Even though Nixon was elected in 1968 & 1972 (no friend to free markets http://www.econreview.com/events/wageprice1971b.htm), Democrats continued to control Congress during those terms.  Many believe that this move toward socialism did not get rejected until the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.  These two recent forays into socialism did not run out of steam for roughly 15 years each.  After riding a wave of “Hope & Change” in the 2008 election, the Democrats had historic losses in 2010 (6 Senate, and 63 House seats).  There must be a reason that the reversal happened so quickly this time around. 

Anyone living beyond their means from the 1990s through 2007 has had quite a rude awakening in recent years.  Many are saddled with debt, have seen their home values drop, and are unemployed.  With the average unemployment check of roughly $300 per week (http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/employment/2010-07-15-unemployment15_CV_N.htm), government assistance cannot look like a great answer.  The solution for these people is to have a booming economy, so they can return to living at their old consumption levels.  Whether it was at their old salary + 20% or something similar, they want to return or exceed that standard of living high water mark.

These people are more likely to want a path that is proven and has worked in the past to revive the economy.  They are less likely to give the benefit of the doubt on something that is not working, and has vague goals like “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cqN4NIEtOY).  With looming debt, and the possibilities that they have personally experienced, two years might have been too long already for them to allow this latest socialist experiment.

STUPID STORIES 12/1/10

Cruise ship loses power and must be dragged back to port:  This story dominated the news for many days.  Nobody died, I’m not even aware of an injury.  This maybe deserved a mention, but instead it was omnipresent.  I did not even see or read about further development of the fact that they were running out of food.  An ironic piece on the fact that one of the top selling points for going on a cruise is the food, would have been welcome.  Next time maybe these people will just go to their neighborhood buffet for 7 days.  There certainly were people inconvenienced, but I can’t figure out why we needed this Stupid Story everywhere.

World Series matchup not big market teams:  Since when did we become executives of the major networks?  Unless you are a News Corp (Fox Sports parent) investor, what do we care if they make any money on the World Series.  Is there a chance that if they don’t make enough money the World Series will not be on next year?  Until there is a risk of that, WHO CARES!  A corollary of this one is when they tell us that unless it goes 6 or 7 games, they won’t make money.  Sorry, not buying the relevance to my life.  This is a yearly Stupid Story that serves no purpose.

Democrats and Republicans neck and neck on fundraising:  This story is reported more than the parties (or individuals) stances on the issues.  This is not to be confused with who contributes to which party or candidate, which is somewhat useful.  The race for total dollars is reported so often, and updated so regularly, that I hesitated listing it here.  Why would such useless information be thrown at us so often?  I have pondered its value….no this is a Stupid Story!

Travel Delays the day before Thanksgiving:  The conversation in news rooms must be something like…”Let’s have someone stand at an airport, and…”.  I can’t figure out why I care that there are delays on flights in the Midwest.  I can’t even see how it helps me if I am flying in the Midwest!  I am either in the middle of it, or about to be, and can’t change my plans.  This may be just a filler, but it is still a Stupid Story.

WARREN BUFFETT’S POISONING TALK ON TAXES

There he goes again!  The recent discussion on whether to keep the Bush tax cuts in place for all taxpayers, has him out doing interviews.  This time he has 2 disingenuous arguments whereas he normally he only has one.  In his interview on ABC’s “This week” he makes the argument that the tax cuts have not worked over the last 10 years (http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/video/warren-buffett-taxes-debt-commission-12204473).  This loyal liberal Democrat is reading right from the Obama/Media playbook on this, and I have refuted this in my other article on this site, (Bush Tax Cuts Caused the Recession?).  The media may be lazy or agenda driven on this one, but Mr. Buffett’s background tells me he knows better.

The other canard he loves to bring up is that he pays only roughly 17% in federal taxes.  He recently said “The question is, Do we get more money from the person that’s gonna serve me lunch today, or do we get it from me? I think we should get it from me.” The person serving him lunch is probably not paying federal taxes, and gets the EITC (earned income tax credit), so he gets his Social Security, and Medicare funded plus a check from the feds.  His usual story of how his secretary pays a higher % in tax than he does, has been around for many years with little or no examination.  Here he is in 2007 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cu5B-2LoC4s).

Warren Buffett only receives about $100,000 per year in salary.  He has accumulated his estimated $47 billion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/) through mostly capital gains and dividends.  I have put together a very simplistic example of how he may pay roughly 17% on his personal return, but the effective rate on this income is much higher.

Let’s say that Mr. Buffett owns 50% of a Company that pays 100% of its profits in dividends.  That company this year makes $2 million in profits.  He would be entitled to $1 million in profits (income).  Before these profits are paid out in dividends, however, they are subject to a 35% corporate tax.  He will then receive $650,000.  Then he files his taxes, and must pay 15% in dividend taxes.  This results in him receiving $552,500 of the original $1 million in business income.  This translates into an effective tax rate of 44.75% on these earnings.  Companies that do not pay a dividend still pay the 35% corporate tax.  The stock price of those companies with earnings goes up, and this translates into gains for the individual where they are double taxed as well.

Ordinary income (his secretary…the guy serving lunch) is counted as an expense to corporations, so there is no corporate tax on this money.  Only dividends and capital gains are taxed at the corporate level and on the individual’s return.  This example does not even take into consideration that in this example the investment dollars that Mr. Buffett used to invest in this company were after tax dollars, which would make his income triple taxed!

We need to have a conversation about how much our government costs, and what are the proper ways to fund it.  We should include in these discussions how to create growth, and what has worked in the past.  What we can’t have is hyperbole in our discourse that is apparently purposeful due to its repetition.  This will only mislead and distract us from solving these real issues.

SOCIAL SECURITY’S UNHOLY ALLIANCE WITH ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

Last month’s story where it was revealed that the CA gubernatorial candidate (Meg Whitman) had employed an illegal immigrant (Nicky Diaz), brought up many questions in the media.  What was Meg Whitman’s knowledge of employee’s immigrant status?  Was this a Jerry Brown, Democratic Party dirty trick?  Would Nicky Diaz be deported?  I have been waiting for a story on the most important question… “What is Social Security doing to aide illegal immigration and why?” 

The public perception of illegal immigrants is one of people being paid on a cash basis, and employers fully aware that they are employing illegal aliens.  The spectacle of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raiding a business to catch these lawbreakers hits newspapers and television broadcasts periodically to help fuel this perception.  This may have been the majority of illegals’ in our workforce at one time, but it is impractical to think this is how 12 million or more illegal immigrants work in this country.  I believe that people would be surprised to know that there is a government agency that has perhaps the greatest resource of information about illegal aliens, and purposefully withholds this information from ICE.  In fact, it prohibits employers from acting on information that can lead to the discovery of illegal immigrants working for them.  This agency is the Social Security Administration. 

The information I am referring to is expressed through what is known as the “no match” letter, which is sent out to over 9 million people per year.  It is a document sent to employees (often through their employer), which informs them that their SS# does not match their name in the SSA database.  Often these “no-match” letters can be explained as a data entry error, or a name change (such as marriage).  However, when the error is not corrected under one of these scenarios, it should be an important indicator that the individual is working in the country illegally.  In the Nicky Diaz situation, a “no match” letter was sent in 2003 with apparently no further action for 6 years. 

Normally I would attribute this to the typical government agency incompetence.  There may be something deeper involved if you walk through how blowing the whistle on these individuals creates a problem for Social Security.  If SSA doesn’t resolve this problem of the mismatched information, who do they attribute the payment to?  I contend that they must not be able to attribute this money to any legitimate beneficiary.  Hmmm… I think we are getting to the reason there is a lack of motivation on Social Security’s part to solve this problem.  How large is the fund at Social Security that will never be paid to any beneficiary?  I will let you ponder that one. 

Regardless of motivation, this issue is easily resolved with a few simple steps for a Congress willing to take illegal immigration seriously. 

1. Update the Social Security Card.  There have been 50 cards issued since its inception, and all are still valid (and easily forgeable).  Security similar to the US passport or any State Drivers License should suffice. 

2. Inform Employers that if their employee “no match” issue is not resolved within 90 days, there will be a $1000 per day fine payable for that employee until the issue is resolved. 

3. Unresolved issues must be forwarded on to ICE for further investigation, since an issue left unresolved is likely to be an illegal immigrant.

4. Make it illegal to sue any employer that terminates for the employee not resolving the “no match” letter.

It seems clear that the government agency that could raise the red flag on this issue has no interest in its resolution.  If we truly wish to solve the problem of illegal immigration, these simple changes would be a great place to start.

ARIZONA STOPS RACISM IN ADMISSIONS

The State of Arizona just recently passed the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative which prohibits discrimination or preferential treatment of individuals based on race in public institutions. This initiative is aimed primarily at public colleges and universities with respect to their admissions policies (http://www.nas.org/polPressReleases.cfm?Doc_Id=1634). While I am encouraged by the fact that Arizona has taken steps similar to other states to ensure equal treatment among college applicants, I find it disturbing that such laws or propositions are even necessary when they are seemingly redundant with what is already mandated in our constitution.

            This issue received attention several years ago at The University of Michigan when a white applicant to the school’s graduate program sued for discrimination because blacks and latinos were given preference in admissions because of their race. This policy of preferential treatment is not in question. Public schools are required to make their process available and their blatant racism is actually documented. They have a point system when determining eligibility for admission and if you’re black or latino, you get more points. As un-American and criminal as this may sound, it is sadly the norm.  University officials will tell  you, right to your face, “When it comes to admissions at our school, we try to maintain a student body comprised of diverse backgrounds.” Well, what do you think ‘of diverse backgrounds’ means? It means based on the color of the applicant’s skin! Even as the issue comes to light, it gains support and validation. When the University of Michigan case went to the State Supreme Court the school’s policy was upheld. Judges said, “Colleges and universities in our state are allowed to be shameless, degenerate racist pigs in their admissions policies as long as their degenerate racism works in favor of the wonderfully righteous and noble black or latino.” Granted, I’m paraphrasing their wording a bit but I find it hard to phrase such a decision otherwise.

            These are the kinds of policies which can turn a decent citizen into a racist. Someone who is perfectly fair, objective and non-discriminatory who is victimized by or even enlightened to a policy like this could then easily adopt that mind set of racial distinction. Thereafter, they may justifiably demand or mandate distinctions in the name of any demographic which they personify. And the cycle of corruption continues.

             Once someone is aware of a policy like this, they could easily view minority professionals differently. What if you had to hire a doctor or a lawyer to help you with something that was important to your livelihood? When considering a perspective black or latino, would it occur to you that perhaps that individual got to where they are through less stringent standards? They wouldn’t be perspective black and latino professionals to you,  in that regard, had they never been distinguished as black and latino college applicants in the first place.

            Please. Aren’t there any minorities out there who are terribly insulted by policies like this? Isn’t it demeaning to know you gained admission to a school based on your skin color rather than your merit or achievements?

            The ideal means of viewing any demographic is to be blind to it. The more we make distinctions in the name of color or age or gender etc., the more we perpetuate that socially corruptive mind set. Again, while it’s nice to see Arizona’s initiative get voted in, I wonder how much destruction is already in place and worry about how much farther we have to go.

BUSH TAX CUTS CAUSED THE RECESSION?

The Democratic Party, including President Obama, seem to think that the Bush administration tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 caused the recession of 2008.  The recent Matt Lauer interview of George W. Bush shows how some in the media have bought into this line of thinking.  Matt Lauer’s question about maintaining the Bush tax rates…”We’ve been living under that system for 7 years now and we’ve seen incredibly slow growth in jobs.” 

It is bad enough that the Democrats are trying to gain political advantage by ignoring facts.  It is, however, unacceptable that people in the media would propagate this falsehood when the facts are easily available. 

The Bush Tax cuts had the same effect on the economy that the Reagan, Kennedy, and Harding/Coolidge tax cuts had.  They created sustained economic growth and jobs.  The facts are as follows…

          Year                              GDP Growth Rate                                Unemployment Rate

          2003                                        2.5%                                                    6.0%

          2004                                        3.9%                                                    5.5%

          2005                                        3.2%                                                    5.1%

          2006                                        2.8%                                                    4.6%

          2007                                        2.0%                                                    4.6%

These statistics are readily available at government websites, and could take as long as 10 minutes to research (http://data.bls.gov/PDQ/servlet/SurveyOutputServlet?data_tool=latest_numbers&series_id=LNS14000000, and http://www.bea.gov/national/).  To admit to these statistics would deny the ability to argue the effectiveness of tax cuts to economic growth, and job creation. 

The economic downturn that we currently find ourselves in, was caused by the housing crisis.  Reasonable people can argue about what caused the housing crisis, and how it could have been prevented.  It is not reasonable to argue that the tax cuts of 2001 & 2003 helped the economy tremendously for 5 years, then apparently caused a crash 6 years later.

FAIR TAX

The “fair tax” is an idea to replace the existing income tax system in favor of a nationwide sales tax.  Advocates tout the efficiency of the system, economic benefits, and abolition of the IRS.  It may very well be a better system if you were starting a society, and don’t have another system in place. 

I believe it is a waste of time advocating something that will never happen.  This is due to the following issues with the practical institution of the “fair tax”…

  1. Conversion:  What happens to all of those people that have built up savings after tax throughout their life?  The money saved by these people has already been taxed when it was earned.  With the institution of the “fair tax”, these people will unfairly pay an additional tax when this savings is spent.  The fair tax advocates love to appeal to retirees by touting that IRA money will not be taxed upon withdrawal.  They neglect to mention that anything saved outside of tax deferred accounts will in effect be double taxed.
  2. IRS replaced with something:  The thought that the government is out of our lives by eliminating the IRS is wishful thinking.  All European countries that have instituted the VAT (value added tax) have created government agencies to decide which products are exempt from this tax.  Supporters who think this will not happen in the US are being naïve.
  3. Repeal of the 16th Amendment:  This is the amendment that allows for the federal government to tax income.  This must happen in order to make sure that the “fair tax” is a replacement for, not an addition to the income tax.  The prospect of this occurring is difficult. 

There needs to be serious debate on taxes, starting with how large a government we want.  Spending time and energy on issues that have very little likelihood of succeeding distracts us from achieving a flatter tax that will spur economic growth.  These points among others make the “fair tax” an unrealistic alternative.

GOVERNMENT UNIONS

Why should we allow government employees to unionize?  The private economy has shown that non-union employees cost less, and are of equal quality.  We should not allow the government to overpay for anything.  President Obama and other Democrats like to point to Walmart in terms of keeping its vendor costs in line due to its massive purchasing power.  They speak about the government purchasing power, and how it can be used to keep the price of drugs down when speaking of the drug benefit in Medicare.  Why shouldn’t Labor be viewed in the same light?  It is simply a large government purchase. 

Unions came to prominence in the first half of the 20th century due in large part to employers mistreating their workers.  Ironically, it has been government through employee protection laws that has taken the role of protecting employees from this mistreatment.  Setting work week standards, discrimination, minimum wage, etc.  This has eliminated much of the need for labor unions.  There has been a corresponding drop in private employee union membership over the last few decades, but this has not made its way into the public sector.

There is no substantive reason for allowing government unions to continue to overprice one of our governments’ largest purchases, labor.  The main purpose for unionization has been largely eliminated by these workers very employer.  With deficits out of control, government unions should be held up as an example of government wasteful spending like the overpriced hammer and toilet seat of the 1980’s, and should not be tolerated by taxpayers.

MISSION STATEMENT

The United States’ free market economic system is the engine that has made us prosperous and kept us a free people.  This website is dedicated to advocating policies that will maintain this system, its freedom and wealth producing principles.

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