The Solution to Illegal Immigration They Won’t Tell You About

August 28, 2015

One of the hot button issues during this early primary season is illegal immigration. That’s too bad, because illegal immigration is one of the less important issues we face as a country today (compared to say, income inequality, the “war” on terror, crumbling infrastructure, etc.).

This is not to say that illegal immigration doesn’t cause economic and social stress, it’s just that the problem is being exaggerated to create fear and to create a diversion (or a scapegoat) from the real cause of economic and social stress: economic injustice.

The current proposal is to close the border with Mexico, and the best idea the brain trust of Conservative Republicans have come up with is … a wall, kind of like the Berlin Wall, except it is meant to keep people out. This is an ineffective and expensive concept.

A wall might feel reassuring, but virtually no one who is knowledgeable believes it would work. However, building a wall would cost a fraction of the manpower and other resources it would take to seal the border. They all want to “secure the border,” but none of them will tell you how they will get the hundreds of billions of dollars needed. What would work? A solution you will never hear about.

To solve any problem, you have to address the cause. If you want to stop illegal immigration, then look at what causes it. Most immigrants coming to America are looking for work. Most illegal immigrants find work because there are American employers willing to pay them low wages with no benefits and save payroll taxes.

This takes jobs from Americans, lowers wages for other Americans, and costs the taxpayers a fortune in the form of social services such as schools, medical care, etc. This suggests a simple solution: hold American employers accountable for attracting and hiring illegal immigrants. Escalating heavy fines for hiring undocumented immigrants would do more to stop illegal immigration than any wall. How many people would risk their lives crossing the border if they knew they would not find any work?

Why not devote ICE personnel to finding illegal employers and fine the employers heavily? Employers would not only lose manpower, but be fined $20,000 for every illegal worker they have hired on the first offense, $25,000 for every illegal worker on the second offense, and $50,000 and criminal charges for a third offense. The problem is that this solution is opposed by the Chamber of Commerce for obvious reasons: it would cost profiteers profit.

Exploiting immigrants is a multi-billion dollar profit generator and the people who profit from that exploitation are the ones who give the money that determines who will be nominated as judges, congressmen and presidents. That’s why you will never hear any discussion of a real solution to immigration from either GOP or Democrats. They answer to the donor class, not the working class.

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Hidden Costs of War

August 28, 2015

At the end of the Clinton Presidency we had a budget surplus and the economy was humming. Then neocons took control of the government and gave away our surplus to a few of the richest Americans in exchange for the false promise of jobs that never appeared. Then they put us back into debt when they borrowed money to pay for an unnecessary war. We all understand some of what happened afterwards.

The budget deficit caused by the war and subsequent destabilization of the entire region, and then the near economic collapse caused by Wall Street deregulation, ballooned the deficit to epic proportions and put millions of Americans out of work. GOP foreign and economic policies were a disaster that we are only now digging out from — and maybe that’s a good thing to remember the next election.However, the real cost of GOP incompetence in Iraq is human, and hidden.That’s the real tragedy.

After WWII the human costs of the war were understood because they were widely shared. Not so in the modern era of war. You may know that between 1999 and now, 5,273 Americans were killed in combat. Did you know that over 128,500 combat veterans have died in the same period from suicide?

Those are the costs of war just as much as destroyed equipment or spent munitions. Every veteran who has been killed or disabled, or has succumbed to PTSD and depression is a casualty. Their families also suffer economically during multiple deployments, and emotionally as well. The deaths of so many Americans from combat and combat-related problems are shared by relatively few Americans and are not covered by a news media obsessed with e-mails and anchor babies.

It’s not just veterans and their families who are affected by war. Another aspect of the human costs of that war has been the systematic looting of social safety net programs, resulting in suffering and thousands of untold tragedies, mostly among the poorest Americans and children. Poverty, hunger, homelessness … economic and political instability … all either directly or indirectly caused by our misadventure in Iraq, although rarely identified as such.

The human tragedies caused by war extend to the next generations.Just as our children will be paying for the Iraq war, some of those children will be paying a heavier emotional price … This is a reality we might keep in mind as the same group of chicken-hawks are now pushing for a war against Iran.


Foster vs. Humphries: More Supreme Mischief?

August 24, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court has taken the case of Foster vs. Humphries, and it is one of the most important civil cases they have to decide in a long time. In 1987, a black man named Timothy Foster was convicted in Georgia of killing a white woman by an all-white jury in a jurisdiction where 40% of residents were African-American.

All four of the African-American potential jurors were excused by the prosecutors. Later investigation of the prosecutor’s notes proved that he had marked every African-American in the entire pool with a green highlighter before the selection, and showed other evidence that his intention from the start was to sit an all-white jury.  It doesn’t mean that Mr. Foster was wrongly convicted, but it does suggest that he did not get a fair trial.

In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Batson vs. Kentucky, that the systematic exclusion of minority jurors violated the rights of minority suspects to a fair trial by denying them a representative jury of their peers. Prosecutors around the country then began to use a loophole to justify excluding minority jurors by citing any reason, however absurd, as long as it did not mention the word “race.” It leaves the decision ultimately to the judge, who may or may not care about anything.

In my experience, even in civil trials, lawyers representing insurance companies systematically exclude minority jurors because they believe that minorities are more sensitive to victims. I once had a defense attorney who used every peremptory strike on African-Americans. When challenged about his obvious tactic, he told the judge that his use of the last peremptory strike had nothing to do with race … he “didn’t like the way one juror was looking at him.” He felt the way another African-American juror was sitting suggested bias as some of the reason for striking the jurors. The judge allowed the strikes.

Batson vs. Kentucky, as toothless as it is, provided a chance for minority suspects to get a representative jury and a fair trial. Some observers of the SCOTUS believe that the radicals on the bench will use the case not to expand the guarantees of a fair trial by a jury of peers, but rather use the case to further restrict the right of lawyers to conduct voir dire. In other words, the fear is that the SCOTUS will eliminate any ability of the attorneys to question potential jurors about biases and leave the entire jury selection process to a judge, sometimes a biased judge, with no recourse. If that happens, then your expectations of a fair trial will be reduced to a slim hope.


Political Theater as a Distraction

August 24, 2015

When the infamous “Citizens United” case was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, many people felt that it spelled doom to democracy in the U.S. They were right. Much of the angst was focused on the absurd notion that corporations had the same rights as individual Americans (they have no conscience, no beliefs, no feelings, no desires).

This was a legal fiction not imbedded in the Constitution (who thinks that “We the People…” meant corporations, businesses too?), but created by pro-corporation Supreme Court Justices. This gave corporations all of the rights as citizens, but none of the accountability (when was the last time a corporation was put in jail for committing a crime?). Others focused on the notion of money as speech, another absurd notion. Money buys speech, and it also suppresses speech as well. I think this was the far more insidious aspect of that decision, and we are witnessing the malignant effects in the current primary season.

The Trump candidacy on the surface is a distraction, but it may unintentionally serve notice to how fixed the system has become. Of course it is a distraction from real policy discussions. Anyone who saw the Fox Cable “debate” know they didn’t see a debate between candidates on policy issues, but rather a series of “gotcha” questions. It was like watching someone with lighter fluid spraying coals here and there hoping that the fire catches on eventually. Once Rand Paul flamed out, why not incite Ted Cruz? The media love Citizens United because the costs of advertising is way up as different campaigns compete for the premium and limited air time. For the media it’s like a six month long Super Bowl as far as advertising dollars.

The race to the rhetorical bottom distracts us from the ultimate issue — that whoever is nominated to run for president it will be the choice of a dozen or so billionaires, guaranteeing their positions will be protected. Look at the policy positions of every GOP candidate and Hillary Clinton as far as economic restructuring. There is no daylight between their positions. Only the rhetoric camouflaging the similarities.

These few men are being called the “Donor Class,” and they now control this country. No one can be nominated without the approval of the Donor Class. Maybe someone like Trump can make a run without them, but ultimately, he will need their approval and money to run in the general election. The Donor Class will never allow someone like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren become close to the White House, and even if they did, the Donor Class would use their money to elect legislatures to obstruct any attempt to address economic injustice.

Do you think I am being too cynical? I would like to hear a rebuttal. Someone please give me some evidence or reason to hope otherwise…