Does marching lead to "rights"?
The masses of protesters have been wisely instructed to leave their Mexican flags at home. But they have switched (although in smaller quantities) to signs with messages that should be as disturbing to American voters.
In particular, two messages strike me as unacceptable:
1) "We demand equal rights." Non-citizens are in no position to demand anything, particularly when it comes to taxpayer- or insurance payer-subsidized services (or outright payment) like welfare, food stamps, or medical care. These are the "rights" that the protestors are demanding. While we must not permit illegal aliens to drain our wallets, to a degree we have the American government to blame for the aliens' view that we are a country of "rights" to free stuff.
From FDR's massive increase in the welfare state to LBJ's Great Society to George W. Bush's Medicare drug benefit, we have for three generations taught people that there is at least some right to things which can only be had by confiscating the gains from other citizens' hard work. It's not quite Karl Marx, but it's certainly putting our toe in the same water.
I mentioned in yesterday's blog posting that there was an international study about free markets. Here is the link to the study summary:
20 Nation Poll Finds Strong Global Consensus: Support for Free Market System, But Also More Regulation of Large Companies
3/26/06, Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) of the University of Maryland
What's interesting is not so much that 71% of Americans polled think that "the free enterprise system and free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world" but that a quarter of Americans disagreed despite the obvious evidence they see daily. Clearly there are people in any capitalist society who are not "winners", but that number is far less than 24%. And data regularly show that even people who are not well-off financially believe that America offers them that opportunity and thus support capitalism and free markets. This means that much of the 24% comes from people who, like the French, simply do not understand the implications of policy choices other than freedom. Likely, they learned what they know about macro-economics from listening to union leaders, Democratic politicians, and TV anchors who talk about the "weak economy" during one of our best economic periods ever.
In other words, Americans have to some degree given foreigners a reason to think that this is indeed a land of free stuff. To fight back, we must not only aggressivly deny such "rights" to illegals but we must do a better job educating our own country that things provided by the government or covered by insurance are not free and are not rights.
2) The other unacceptable message, and probably more stupid for the protestors to be suggesting because of it's less subtle nature than "equal rights" is "Today we march. Tomorrow we vote." My gut reaction is that these people have serious cojones to suggest such a thing. We regularly deny voting rights to Americans who commit crimes, and we generally view voting as an important duty (not withstanding low election participation rates). The idea that non-citizens (and especially illegals) can or should have the right to vote is instinctively (and correctly) offensive, and one that would likely have the same sort of effect on the average American as waving the Mexican flag. Certainly it angers me in the same way.
Beyond the "stick in your eye" nature of this message, it's important to realize what "Tomorrow we vote" really means. It is not simply "we will be a factor in electing politicians". It is "we will elect people who will pass laws that redistribute your money to us." Make no mistake about it: This is the reason that Democratic Party politicians are so pro-legalization. They are the party of redistribution and stand to gain from illegals either getting the right to vote (they won't) or getting more politically involved, i.e. donating money to political candidates who campaign on a "soak the rich" platform...the single biggest threat to the American Dream.
I am, as always, very pro-immigrant. But coming here with the intention of maintaining loyalty to another country while refusing to learn the language and representing a vastly disproportionate share of our prison population is not what it means to be an immigrant...someone who wants to become truly part of the American fabric.
Until they prove otherwise, the protesters in general and the Mexicans in particular should be considered nothing more than migrant labor. Human beings, yes...not to be physically abused or treated like slaves. But Americans, no. My guess is that many of them don't consider themselves more than migrant labor either, and that until these protest organizers put ideas into their heads, they were not even here to try to become legal.
We should allow them to choose what legal path they want to be on: Migrant worker or immigrant, with the immigrant path longer, more expensive, and more difficult...and only to be used by people who have a real commitment to becoming Americans first and Mexican, Indonesian, Nigerian, Martian, or whatever, second. Otherwise, becoming a legal migrant worker should be fairly easy to do, but should not entitle someone to ANY taxpayer benefits. In the meantime, and this will sound harsh, hospitals must be allowed to turn away illegals if taking so many non-paying customers (particularly for non-serious problems) is bankrupting them.
Yes, the protesters have put away their Mexican flags. But going from a message of "we are not loyal to the country we reside in" to a message of demanding "rights" (to money) and political influence in that country is hardly an improvement. Indeed, the message is even worse in the way that an undercover foreign agent can do more damage before being discovered than a uniformed enemy soldier. The protestors' new message is not an improvement over the old; it is just less obvious than the red, white, and green waving in the air.
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