Third Party & Independents Archives

January 11, 2004

Bush's 'Not An Amnesty' Amnesty

President Bush announced this week a proposal that would grant legal working status to illegal immigrants now in this country. However, he insisted this is not an amnesty program. Sounds like doublespeak to me. Amnesty Definitions:

Noun
1. amnesty - a period during which offenders are exempt from punishment
2. amnesty - a warrant granting release from punishment for an offense
3. amnesty - the formal act of liberating someone
Verb
1. amnesty - grant a pardon to (a group of people)

OK, perhaps the President just misspoke, yet again. But, this President's habit of misspeaking reminds me of Will Rogers, the famous comedian of the 1st half of the 20th century who is still oft quoted today. Will Rogers played a shy bumbling ol' cowboy who would spin a lasso while speaking of things like politics in a Texan drawl kind of accent. Roger's whole persona came across as not educated, non assertive, honest kind of plain folk. What came out of his mouth however, was shrewdly calculated, surgically aimed critique of current events and politics worthy of a Harvard Ph.D.

It took me awhile to accept the fact that "Dubya" was not dim, uneducated, or bumbling. It took me awhile to recognize that he is a very calculating, shrewd, and very bright man capable of being responsible for his actions, his words, and the consequences of them. Therefore, I do not believe he misspoke. I am now convinced he follows the Orwellian political speech described as 'doublespeak'. He is in fact declaring amnesty for illegals, and he knows it will not sit well with the right wing of his party if it is called amnesty, so he denies that it is amnesty, trusting in the dim wittedness of the right wing of his party to accept that on its face, because 'Dubya' is an honest guy, right?

There are many beneficiaries of Dubya's non-amnesty amnesty. First there are the illegals themselves. They will no longer have to fear being arrested, jailed, and or deported provided they break no other American laws. Under Dubya's plan, they will be able to save from their low wages and invest those savings, and when they return to their country of origin, they can take those savings, tax free, with them. Anyone else see a flaw in this line of thinking? I see a few and most have to do with American tax payers subsidizing industries that use green card labor. But, I will get to that shortly.

If these new Green Card holders are able to save, will they? Currently, a great many send their savings back to their families to help increase their family's standard of living in their homeland. The Green Card holder will have to choose between depriving their family for three years of savings he/she is now sending back in order to benefit from the tax free bundle to take home. Also, the tax free bundle of savings can become a form of blackmail. It is very likely a Green Card holder who is saving for the tax free bundle, will lose at the very least, their tax free status if they are accused and found guilty of stealing from the employer, fighting on the job, or just plain refusing to be abused by the foreman or boss. It will only take a few such incidents to take place for the grapevine to spread the news that saving instead of sending home their savings as they are earned is a very, very bad idea.

Then there are the employers in Agri-business, motel chains, janitorial service companies and a host of others who do not want to see a minimum wage increase in this country, do not want to provide benefits to employees, do not want to pay an American standard living wage, do not want to be subject to current laws against employers who hire illegal workers, and who are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to find American employees willing to work so hard for so little. Businesses are going to reap huge rewards from this proposal if it is passed.

But the biggest beneficiary is Dubya himself. He needs the ethnic vote in America if he is to win in 2004. Since attempts to make inroads to the Black vote have largely failed and they are not immigrants by and large, this proposal is designed to cater mainly to the Latino American voters who represent the interests of split families between America and South/Central America and Mexico. This proposal shores up Dubya's votes from the many businesses that depend on the 100's of thousands of illegal workers to keep the costs of operations down, and profitability up. Finally, this proposal shore's up his damaged image as a 'compassionate' conservative, in relieving the stress and fears of so many poor and frightened illegal workers.

Who is likely to lose from this proposal? For every choice there is a cost, often referred to as opportunity cost. In choosing one direction, one loses the opportunities to have gone in other directions. There are 100's of millions of losers if this proposal is enacted by Congress. Those 100's of millions will be American tax payers, and millions of poverty level and lower middle class American workers. How do these losses work?

First, the administration of documenting a huge number of illegals and granting them Green Cards will be one cost. Then setting up an accountability system that will track their employers, their address, their length of stay in the U.S., and processing their eviction/citizen notices at the end of their stay is going to cost millions. Now this proposal, if honest, would ask the employer beneficiaries of the program to pay for the administration of the program, since they will directly benefit from the program. But, there is every indication from Dubya, that all tax payers of America will pick up this tab.

Second, this program does nothing to stem the tide of illegals coming in the country with one notable exception. By filling legitimate low paying jobs with Green Card workers, there will be some deterrent to illegals hoping to land legitimate employment by crossing over the border illegally. However, it does nothing to stem the tide of those crossing over to acquire black market jobs, nor does this bill stop a single terrorist, or other undesirable from entering the country through the sieves we call borders.

The biggest losers however, will be low to moderate wage American workers. Dubya had three choices regarding the kind of jobs that are going unfilled, or to illegal workers, because of low wages and hard or dangerous work. To continue to fill these jobs with immigrant labor was one and he has announced this is his choice. Alternatively, to raise the minimum wage or let supply and demand dictate higher wages to draw American workers into those jobs, were two other choices.

Raising the minimum wage would have benefited millions of American workers and stimulated the economy due to those wage earners increased purchases resulting from the wage increase. However, this choice would have resulted in offending some of his key supporters, corporations and business owners.

If Dubya had chosen to fence our borders and stop illegal immigration, supply and demand forces would have dictated increased wages and/or benefits offered to American workers to fill those jobs left open by closing the border. Of course, the consequence of this is that some of those businesses would have shut down, since the profit margin would have dropped had they been forced to increase wages. Again, an offense to some of Bush's key supporters.

Dubya's plan does nothing to control our borders and thus to reduce the terrorist threat to our nation. His plan does nothing for American workers struggling in low paying jobs and it increases the taxes that will have to paid by those workers to administer his 'not an amnesty' amnesty and to pay for a homeland defense system which does not protect our borders.

Dubya's no amnesty amnesty does however give the illusion of compassion while leashing wage growth for American workers. Dubya's plan does increase profitability for Agri-business, and low wage services companies among others, and thus pays back some of his key supporters for their campaign support. I must admit, anyone capable of mastering doublespeak as well as Dubya has, is no dummy. I must give our President credit there.

Posted by David R. Remer at January 11, 2004 04:58 AM
Comments
Comment #5189

Note to article above for those interested in Orwell’s terminology.

The word Doublespeak does not actually occur in Orwell’s book, “1984”. The term however has come into common useage as Orwellian based on Orwell’s other terms such as doublethink, duckspeak, Newspeak, and Oldspeak. A complete dictionary of Orwell’s terminology exists on the web.

I mention this because terms such as Newspeak, doublethink, unperson and Oldspeak are becoming necessary to discuss the relationship between government and the citizenry in the U.S. and to explain party constituency behavior.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 11, 2004 11:44 AM
Comment #5215

Strangely I think the problem is that Democrats have turned the public use of ‘amnesty’ into a word meaning “Giving up on the idea of measured immigration” such that anything less than a complete open borders policy has to be defined as a non-amnesty.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at January 12, 2004 04:47 PM
Comment #5216

Sebastian, I agree. There are many liberals who believe that a free and open society for its citizenry means also, free and open borders for non-threatening non-citizens.

I think in the end, if we put the money we will have spent in Iraq, into truely effective border control, we would have done far more to defend against terrorism than we are currently.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 12, 2004 05:00 PM
Comment #5223

I agree with the second part of your post, David. But we wouldn’t even need to divert funds from the Iraq war - The government (federal, state, and local) spent around $40 billion on the controversial ‘war on drugs’ in 2003, resulting in the arrest of about 2 million people, not including illegal aliens. So far this year (within the past 13 short days), we’ve jailed an estimated 56,000 people on drug offenses nationwide. Half of that 56,000 are marijuana related arrests.

I say legalize marijuana in the U.S. and cut the cartels and other organized crime rings out of the profits. This way, we could pull the DEA out of Columbia where they spray marijuana farmers’ fields with chemicals, and place them back on our side of the border where they belong. Any organized crime ring south of the border would lose billions of illegal marijuana money, and therefore empower central-american governments with more economy options, like creating legal farming, manufacturing, and exportation jobs in Mexico and Panama.

Furthermore, the Border Patrol is reinforced with DEA, who would then funnel their combined efforts into more nefarious threats, like cocaine, weapons, and terrorist heroin. Also, instead of cutting jobs from the DEA due to non-existant interior state marijuana stings, we simply relocate most of them to the newly funded Border patrol/DEA security force.

I don’t mean to sound like an activist, but legalizing marijuana, even taking the intial steps, makes so much sense in this nation’s current state of financial debt, global war, and border security.

Posted by: Will at January 13, 2004 03:26 AM
Comment #5224

Will, you just found the one issue in which I agree with Libertarians. The ‘war on drugs’ has been a civil war in America, and one that has lasted many times longer and cost our nation far more than The Civil War of the 1800’s.

I would like to see recreational drugs like pot, LSD, peyote, psyillocybin, whose active ingredients have no demonstrable long term ill effects on health, made available through pharmacies, where registration and valid ID are required before sale. Also, in the legislation that decriminalizes the posession and use of these substances, I would like to see a database maintained by the national association of pharmacies that is available as public record. This would permit employers to know at least which if any of their employees are buying these types of mind altering substances. The legislation should afford protections such that employers who dismiss employees do so on the basis that either 1) the employees job constitutes a safety hazard if the employee has demonstrably used such substances within 72 hours of attending work. Jobs like airline pilots, crane operators, medical doctors or any employees or professionals whose service assumes responsibility for the direct health, safety, or welfare of others should lose any decriminalized protections of their jobs or professional certifications if it is demonstrated they violated the 72 hour rule.

Substances which are known to have acute short term or deleterious long term effects on physical health should remain controlled substances and subject to criminal prosecution for illegal possession or use: drugs like amphetamines, steroids, PCP, etc.

The benefits of such legislation would be as you indicate and more. Just relieving the backlog in our judicial system would have tremendous positive effects for our society.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 13, 2004 06:26 AM
Comment #5241

Our borders can’t be controlled the way you are imagining. The border is huge and short of putting fences around it (nearly impossible) or adding 500,000 border patrol agents with hundreds of constantly flying spy planes (pracically impossible) the border just can’t be controlled.

But I’ll agree with you guys on the issue of the War on Drugs. You can’t really control it anyway, see above on borders. Furthermore it is acting an nasty solvent for our civil liberties. Asset forfeiture laws are just the worst example.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at January 13, 2004 12:43 PM
Comment #5254

Sebastian said, “Our borders can’t be controlled the way you are imagining”.

I admit it would not be full-proof since shorelines could not be hoped to be rendered impenetrable. But sensor fencing across our southern border is feasible and very affordable. It is afterall, only about 1200 miles. I have about 1/3 mile of fencing around my property, which I paid for and erected myself. If I can do that, surely, the U.S. government is capable of 1200, eh?

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 13, 2004 06:24 PM
Comment #6313

It’s quite easy to think of all of this in broad, almost inhuman terms—here’s an excellent personal story from SubterraBoston.com of how this temporary worker business is affecting a single American citizen: http://www.subterraboston.com/icit_jan.html.

Posted by: Jason at January 21, 2004 10:18 AM
Comment #6564

Thanks, Jason. That is what is needed. Putting a face and personal history to numbers bantered about by politicians. It is all too easy for politicians to deal with numbers, more difficult but absolutely necessary to deal with men, women and children those numbers represent, with names, families, histories, aspirations and goals of their own.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 23, 2004 10:51 AM