Monday, May 15, 2006

Magic Thinking

Finally, Smallhoder is back. And to make up for his long absence, he posts on a subject near and dear to my heart. Who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth?

In his latest post, Smallholder falls prey to something he himself so often decries -- magical thinking. Specifically, he argues that the only people crossing the border into the US illegally are honest, hard working peasants simply out to find work and lead a better life, and that if we simply let them in, they will strengthen the fabric of America and make us a better place. It's a notion with its heart in the right place and its head in the sand.

Smallholder writes:

All the calls to secure our borders are -- how can I put it in my idosyncratically "Squishy" way? -- DUMB.

And instead, what do you suggest, Mark? Allow anyone at all to enter the US and become a citizen, without any sort of prerequisites, without any consideration to who they are, their past, their intentions?

We have a very long border with Mexico.

Wow, that's a shock. Has anyone told the mapmakers?

Life in Mexico, due to the historical legacy of Spanish catholic absolutist colonization that led to undemocratic, kleptocratic traditions, -- how can I put it in my idiosyncratically "Squishy" way? -- SUCKS.

Therefore, lots of people want to cross that very long border.

They want to cross the border because they are willing to work hard to make a better life for their kids. They know that working hard in Mexico will not necessarily provide for their children's future because the lack of legal safeguards protecting the fruits of entrepreneurial capitalism are too weak in the face of government misconduct.

Again, no, really? I wonder why I hadn't thought of that.

People who don't want to work hard and/or don't care about improving the lives of their children don't cross the border into the United States.

Which really must confuse all those DEA agents inderdicting drug shipments, and the government workers handing out government assistance to "undocumenteds", and the police officers in all of those West Coast and border states where illegal aliens account for such high percentages of the crimes being committed, and it would most CERTAINLY be a surprise to my friend Vic.

Unfortunately, people who don't want to work hard and/or don't care about about improving the lives of their children are the only people a wall will stop.

Hardworking people dedicated to improving the lives of their children, in aggregate, can't be stopped by a wall, or by border security, or by the minutemen. You may catch individuals, but can't stop the wave itself.

The wave itself is made up OF individuals. As I've already said, a wall by itself will certainly not do the job. In fact, I don't personally believe an actual physical wall all the way from San Ysidro to the gulf coast is possible, let alone practical. But I do believe that physical barriers in strategic sections of the border can assist in border patrol efforts, if used as part of a comprehensive policy and enforcement strategy.

Smallholder concludes with the following:

I challenge the readers of this blog to consider this little exercise:

A) You live in a disfunctional society without historical processes to internally improve that society.

B) You have children. You love them. You want them to live better lives than their parents.

C) A country to the North has an economic system that rewards hard work.

D) That country has legal protections that secure the right of property.

E) That country builds a wall to keep you out.

Question: How high a wall do they need to build to keep you out?

My answer: No wall would stop Smallholder from trying to build a better life for Emilie and Jack.
A noble sentiment, on the surface. In fact, I can identify, given how far I would go to provide for The Lad. But I have a rhetorical question for Smallholder: If I decided that the best, or at least the quickest and easiest, way to provide for hte lad was to sneak onto his property, steal his livestock, and take food out of the mouths of his children, what would his reaction be?

The fact remains that the United States is a sovereign nation, with a right to establish laws regarding who is and isn't welcome as a guest/immigrant/naturalized citizen. And those who flout those laws to come here, regardless of how noble and heartwarming their motives may (or may not) be, are doing so at the expense of both native born citizens AND those immigrants who play by the rules and enter this country legally, and they and their supporters should be unsurprised when the welcome they receive is less than the warmest.

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