Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Get a Cash Bonus for Breaking the Law

It appears we’re finally on our way to Social Security reform. Only it’s not the kind of reform I was hoping for. It seems that the Senate’s immigration bill (as of last Thursday) now includes a provision for “illegal aliens to collect Social Security benefits based on past illegal employment.” (Washington Times article, also John O'Sullivan gives a blow-by-blow of the Senate bill here -- and it's not pretty.)

Hmmm. We’ve got a social program that is on its way to bankruptcy, and the way to fix it is to award benefits to another 12 million people that have illegally paid only small amounts into the system? I guess you have to spend lots of time inside the D.C. beltway to understand this type of logic.

(Although, this article and this article claim that we need tens of millions of immigrants (presumably legal) over the next couple of decades to keep Social Security and Medicare solvent, keep our economy thriving, and strengthen our nation’s social fabric.)

Columnist Mark Steyn isn’t happy about this either. (Chicago Sun Times article) He seems exasperated with the offer of amnesty while politicians (including the President) jump all over themselves to proclaim that it’s not amnesty. But, given the Social Security kicker, Steyn in the end admits that they’re right.
“Technically, an "amnesty" only involves pardoning a person for a crime rather than, as this moderate compromise legislation does, pardoning him for a crime and also giving him a cash bonus for committing it. In fact, having skimmed my Webster's, I can't seem to find a word that does cover what the Senate is proposing, it having never previously occurred to any other society in the course of human history.”
Steyn pins part of the illegal immigrant problem on overregulation of U.S. business that has created an environment where employing illegals has become profitable for some business segments. As a result, he says, “In essence, a chunk of the American economy has seceded from the Union.”

Steyn is quite opposed to any kind of guest worker program. He notes problems with these kinds of programs around the globe, including the whirlwind that Europe is currently reaping by “sow[ing] the seeds of massive social upheaval for the most short-sighted of reasons.”
“[A] "worker class" drawn overwhelmingly from a neighboring jurisdiction with another language and ancient claims on your territory and whose people now send so much money back home in the form of "remittances" that it's Mexico's largest source of foreign income (bigger than oil or tourism) is not "immigration" at all, but a vast experiment in societal transformation. Indeed, given the international track record of bilingual societies and neighboring jurisdictions with territorial claims, it's not much of an experiment so much as a safe bet on political instability.”
On the other hand, our current Fed chief, Ben Bernanke gave a speech a couple of years ago touting remittances by our (legal or otherwise) guest workers as one of the most effective forms of foreign aid. But William F. Buckley, Jr. takes issue with these remittances here, noting that they prevent “... better housing, better education, and moves to places where work opportunities are greater.” Buckley also warns of these immigrants becoming the next cause celeb for promoters of affirmative action.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal editors are disgusted with conservative nativist restrictionists. They note here that conservative saint Ronald Reagan was very pro-immigration, and that he enthusiastically signed a bill in 1986 granting amnesty to millions of illegals then in the country. The editors say, “…we feel confident in asserting that Mr. Bush and those who support more open immigration are far closer to Reagan's views than today's restrictionists are.”

I have stated before (here) that we need an effective immigration system that turns immigrants into Americans in their hearts. I’m not anti-immigration. I’m for reasonable immigration policy. I’m just not sure that giving Social Security handouts to illegals is the way to achieve this.

1 comment:

That One Guy said...

It's been interesting to watch this unfold in the last 30-40 days... Note that it is the majority of the Republicans who are most unhappy, and most vocal, about Bush's immigration plans. Most of today's republican party takes a rather extreme position here, like the House proposal to impose Felony charges for those immigrants who don't voluntarily self-deport, then report for VISA's at the border. (Like THAT'LL happen)

It is the Democrats who are more happy with the President's proposal as it is.

That is interesting to me.

The Senate must now come up with something that is "passable" because the House's bill won't make it.