A Brief Thought on Immigration

Thursday, May 20, AD 2010

Conservatives are fairly comfortable with the point that if you ban or severely restrict guns, than only the criminals will be armed.

Let’s then ask ourselves: If we ban or severely restrict immigration (most especially from a right-next-door country with a much poorer economy, such as Mexico) aren’t we assuring that only criminals immigrate?

If it’s cross-border crime which is such a problem, would anti-immigration advocates be willing to support a massively increased legal immigration quota for Mexico (say 250,000 immigrants a year, rather than the current legal quota of ~25,000) in return for permission and cooperation from the Mexican government for US law enforcement and military units to hunt down cross border cartels?

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34 Responses to A Brief Thought on Immigration

  • How many come illegally now? Will people be happy with 250k if many more come illegally? Can we treat those who exceed the limit as having violated the law and deport them? Can we take 250k a year now?

  • That’s asking an awful lot from a country that can’t control any aspect of their government? We have another border, to the north, that we don’t seem to have as many issue’s with illegals crossing? Again, there is a right way to become a citizens and an illegal way to be in our country. “IF” we legalize the all the illegals that are currently here, how do we stop the “next” wave of illegals coming in? Has anybody asked that question?

  • This ties in somewhat to points that Radley Balko (of Reason) has been making about immigration. He recently linked to this:

    http://futurity.org/society-culture/drop-in-violent-crime-tied-to-immigration/

    and his thoughts on the border town of El Paso from last year:

    http://reason.com/archives/2009/07/06/the-el-paso-miracle

    It is interesting (given that I live in a town with many illegal immigrants, in a neighborhood with a lot of immigrants, legal or non) to compare the American experience with the more segregated experience immigrants have in Europe.

    European countries also do not have birthright citizenship as an option for immigrants, so there can be non-citizens who were born and have grown up in a country while still being threatened with deportation. Given the essentially underground economy and violence among non-citizens living around the suburbs of Paris and other areas, I don’t think America should repeat the European model here.

  • It looks like the Pew Center has estimated that roughly 275,000 illegal immigrants per year have been entering the US since 2005, with more like 500,000 per year from 2000 to 2005. (That’s from all countries, not just Mexico.)

    Part of the theory of setting a large legal quota would be to make it less worth while to accept all the risks that sneaking in currently involves. Since poor non-skilled laborers currently stand almost no chance of getting immigration visas, sneaking in looks good. If they had a good chance of being able to do so legally within a year of applying (and if the process for applying was simple) it seems less likely that people would go to such risk and expense in order to go around the system.

  • So of the 250k per year that come illegally, can we deport them?

  • (That’s from all countries, not just Mexico.)

    My old neighborhood in San Francisco had a very large number of illegal Irish immigrants–mostly doing contracting work, house painting, etc. The local pub had a bulletin board up for under-the-table job postings until the police asked them to take it down.

  • DC

    The issue is not just the number, but the means of access. The difficulty for many is the cost — it is prohibitive for those who are in desperate need. I think we could do things for reform which include:

    1) greater access
    2) various reasons by which the costs can be reduced or waived
    3) work with those lands, such as Mexico, to help reform them so people will feel less need to migrate (I would question the proportionality of using soldiers and war-like methodologies for dealing with the problems, but I think other means, such as economic help, and perhaps some policing — though again with very sensitive elements here — might be possible).

  • In the end we are going to have to have a COMP Soultion. But having a sane guest worker program is going to have to be part of it.

    We used to have a nice pattern of circular migration now not so much

  • You’re using a much more reasonable tone here Henry.

  • Who set the current quota and visa system?

    Can we sustain such levels of immigration, especially during a recession?

  • “If it’s cross-border crime which is such a problem, would anti-immigration advocates”

    who is ‘anti-immigration’ ? Did I miss something? I thought the law in Arizona applies to illegal immigrants (only if they get stopped for another violation not related to their citizenship status).

    I didn’t realize legal immigrants can be arrested to…

  • Can we sustain such levels of immigration, especially during a recession?

    I’d think so, especially if it were tied with legal worker visas. Immigrants (legal and non) are responsible for a 10 billion per year boost in the US GDP, according to the report “The New Americans: Economic, Demographic and Fiscal Effects of Immigration.” The problem is being able to tie employment to accurate tax status. According to this:

    http://articles.sfgate.com/2006-05-21/news/17295663_1_illegal-immigration-low-skilled-george-borjas/4

    A recent analysis by investment research firm Standard & Poor’s found that the Social Security Administration receives about $7 billion a year in payroll taxes that can’t be linked to valid names. S&P presumed that most of those funds come from undocumented workers.

    A lot of the problems surrounding large numbers of illegal immigrants come from the inability to collect taxes that support state/city infrastructure. More visas could help that problem.

  • Increased immigration would help pull us out of the recession.

  • First of all,

    Jasper is absolutely right. Darwin, you shouldn’t assume that people are “anti-immigration.”

    To the question:

    “If it’s cross-border crime which is such a problem, would anti-immigration advocates be willing to support a massively increased legal immigration quota for Mexico (say 250,000 immigrants a year, rather than the current legal quota of ~25,000) in return for permission and cooperation from the Mexican government for US law enforcement and military units to hunt down cross border cartels?”

    Put aside your parenthetical, which I don’t think can be agreed to in a com-box discussion, and I’d say that we could settle on some number and we would have a deal.

    My top concern is the cartels, the gangs, and the criminals who destroy life, liberty and property through violence related to drugs, prostitution (a massive sex slavery ring – don’t forget about that), and even the damage that is done to private property with no restitution during the journey north.

    At my blog I make that clear – I believe the cartels and the gangs are enemies of civilization and should be completely destroyed. I don’t mince words.

    My secondary concerns are the costs of illegal immigration, which can overburden relatively less wealthy states such as AZ.

    If the common good is really the aim of the state, then it would be immoral and insane for it to promise unlimited quantities of scarce resources, which is what an open borders situation brings about by default. The state has a right and a duty to the citizens to regulate and manage costs and social burdens.

  • Jasper,

    who is ‘anti-immigration’ ? Did I miss something? I thought the law in Arizona applies to illegal immigrants (only if they get stopped for another violation not related to their citizenship status).

    I didn’t realize legal immigrants can be arrested to…

    I hadn’t meant this post to be in direct reference to the AZ law, but rather in reference to concerns about illegal immigration in general. As to the question of whether anyone is “anti-immigration”, I am not going to search for citations at the moment but I’ve fairly often heard fellow conservatives of a populist leaning say, “We need to just seal the borders until we have things sorted out for people who live here, and then we can look at allowing other people in.” I don’t think it would be inaccurate to call that an “anti-immigration” stance. I don’t think that necessarily has to be a value judgment term — if people are right that immigration is bad for the existing population, then they’d be right to be against it.

    I tend to accept that analysis that immigration is a net benefit to our country (a very slight benefit to us, a large benefit to the immigrants, and an overall benefit to the GDP since those people are not producing wealth here rather than elsewhere), but I do see illegal immigration as a source of disorder. I think, however, it’s a pretty naturally expected source of disorder if our immigration quotas are so ridiculously low for the poor nations just to the south of us. I think that by increasing those quotas to a reasonable level (and making the application process simple and inexpensive), we could probably both control our borders, provide a humanitarian benefit, and get a better overall quality of immigrants.

    My thought process here is basically this: right now our restriction on immigration specifically from Mexico is so high that it encourages violation, kind of like Prohibition did. If we made the regulation itself more reasonable by taking it to a more enforceable level, it would probably to be possible to combat many of the evils that people associate with illegal immigration more effectively.

    Baron Korf,

    Who set the current quota and visa system?

    The current quota system was created by congress via the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. It allocated 170,000 visas to the Eastern Hemisphere, with no more than 20,000 per country, and 120,000 visas to the Western Hemisphere, to be given on a first come first served basis. There are an unlimited number of visas issued each year to spouses of American citizens, and a number of administrative quotas for admitting other types of family members of US citizens. The combination of these quotas end up admitting a total of 700-900k of legal immigrants per year from throughout the world.

    I would tend to think that we can sustain such levels in a recession, but if we can’t, unemployment tends to be worst for non-skilled laborers who don’t speak English well, so if we had “too many” legal immigrants from Mexico, I imagine they would just go back south.

  • In a nation where one-in-six is unemployed or under-employed, you conflate the Bill of Rights’ Second Amendment with the flagrant war being waged on us by undocumented immigrants, to wit: Today, two of the worthies with automatic weapons killed two police officers.

    I welcome all immigrants who have a sponsor; have a place to live; have a job that they didn’t take from an American; live according to our way of life; pay taxes; obey the laws; learn English; and don’t demand that we hand over our collective life savings, i.e., social security funds, medicare/health care, welfare.

    If socialist saints want to do works of charity: do it with your money not my children’s and my grandchildren’s money.

  • Joe,

    Sorry, I took so long writing my previous I hadn’t seen your comment when I posted.

    It sounds like we’re mostly in agreement — I did indeed pick the numbers out of thin air to make a point, not argue the number specifically.

    As for gangs and cartels — I have no problem with going after them hard, aside from the prudential question as to whether certain means might cause more trouble than benefit.

    T Shaw,

    I really don’t think that immigrants are after anyone’s social security — and come to that, if they work legally they’ll be putting money into it just like everyone else, and doing so for a long time since most immigrants are fairly young. I don’t see why we should deny someone benefits at 65 because they didn’t arrive in the country till they were 30, that’s still paying in for 35 years.

    The real threat to such benefits, to those who treasure them, is that so many native born Americans aren’t having many children. And that the bozos who represent us in congress can’t stop their spending and borrowing spree.

    Perhaps we could deport congress? I think everyone could support that.

  • Perhaps we could deport congress?

    Who would take them? “Give me your tiresome, your boors, your befuddled jackasses…”

  • “Perhaps we could deport congress? I think everyone could support that.”

    To the moon!

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/07/20/lets-send-congress-to-the-moon/

  • Conservatives are fairly comfortable with the point that if you ban or severely restrict guns, than only the criminals will be armed.

    Umm, no. The military will be armed, the police will be armed, and private citizens who meet the criteria specified in law will be armed.

    Let’s then ask ourselves: If we ban or severely restrict immigration (most especially from a right-next-door country with a much poorer economy, such as Mexico) aren’t we assuring that only criminals immigrate?

    Are the social benefits from restricting immigration flows worth the costs? If they are, why is the composition of the pool who manage to evade the authorities of concern? It is a given that there are troublesome people in this world; your aim is to minimize the number at large in keeping with achieving other social goals.

    If it’s cross-border crime which is such a problem, would anti-immigration advocates be willing to support a massively increased legal immigration quota for Mexico (say 250,000 immigrants a year, rather than the current legal quota of ~25,000) in return for permission and cooperation from the Mexican government for US law enforcement and military units to hunt down cross border cartels?

    No. You don’t bargain with foreign governments over whom you allow to settle in your country. If they would like technical assistance from the United States Government to improve their domestic law enforcement, they are not in a position to insist on additional favors as a ‘price’ for receiving benefits. Our government can contain the cross-border cartels by fortifying the border and arresting and incarcerating those who make it across and commit crimes.

    I have a suggestion. Anyone anywhere who wishes to settle in the United States can apply at a U.S. Consulate and submit to a written and oral examination in the English language. If they pass the examination, they will be issued a place in a queue and derived from that they will be given a schedule of permissible entry dates depending on how many dependents they acquire in the interim. At such time as their entry date arrives, they are clear to enter the United States as soon as each individual in their family over 14 has passed a written and oral examination in English.

    To the foregoing you might append an actuarial assessment designed to inhibit the entry of certain types (e.g. unmarried childless post-adolescents from Saudi Arabia).

    You need no national quotas and can do without the paraphanalia of economic planning the Canadian government uses.

  • Anyone anywhere who wishes to settle in the United States can apply at a U.S. Consulate and submit to a written and oral examination in the English language. If they pass the examination, they will be issued a place in a queue and derived from that they will be given a schedule of permissible entry dates depending on how many dependents they acquire in the interim. At such time as their entry date arrives, they are clear to enter the United States as soon as each individual in their family over 14 has passed a written and oral examination in English.

    Ha. If this had been the law 150 years ago, only the Scots side of my family would have been allowed in. (Or maybe not… they were fishermen, and possibly illiterate.) The rest learned English after moving here.

  • Has any suggested to our southern border friends that perhaps they need to get their economy in order so that their citizens have employment in their own country. Or perhaps build employmnent opportunities in their rural northern sectors near our borders. And last but not least are any of you aware that illegals entering Mexico face a chagre of a felony ( not a hand slap ) and face prison time. Perhaps we need to respond and make illegal entry a felony with jail time for the illegals and those who hire them or abet them and the fences and wall would come down. .

  • Has any suggested to our southern border friends that perhaps they need to get their economy in order so that their citizens have employment in their own country. Or perhaps build employmnent opportunities in their rural northern sectors near our borders. And last but not least are any of you aware that illegals entering Mexico face a chagre of a felony ( not a hand slap ) and face prison time. Perhaps we need to respond and make illegal entry a felony with jail time for the illegals and those who hire them or abet them and the fences and wall would come down.

  • Since someone linked George Borjas, a non-brief lecture on the economic costs of immigration – legal and illegal:

  • Statistics show that Spain’s fertility rate is below replacement. This means if Spain does not open its doors to immigrants, it will go down in population. Spain needs immigrants. Mexicans need jobs. This makes sense, both historically and linguistically.

  • Agreed.

    The only real deterrents are:

    The Spanish economy is not so great.
    Spain is harder to walk or drive to from Mexico.

    Unfortunately, these seem to rate rather heavily with many people.

  • I hear you. But what if Spain fixes its economy? And what if Argentina can fix its economy, too? Then we’ll have two countries that will be welcoming, both economically and culturally, to Spanish-speaking immigrants.

  • That would definitely be to the benefit of all concerned.

  • What if Spain fixes its economy? What if Mexico fixes its economy? What if money grew on trees? What if we could time travel?

    Back to reality. I’m against government rationing but if we’re going to ration, we’d be better off letting in the skilled and educated first. They don’t have to speak English. I’d let in a great Chinese chef before a British bum. I’d rather have a Spanish-speaking nanny than an English-speaking one. Just secure a job (with a minimum salary requirement if you’d like) and you can come.

  • Guns aren’t quite like folks– you can put away a gun for ages, can’t do that with folks taking jobs under the counter– and I don’t know anyone that’s even close to the gun grabbers on restricting immigration.

    If you put “willing to join America and follow her laws” and “will be able to support themselves and any dependents they bring in a fully legal job” as the immigration version of “not a felon” for guns, sounds fine to me.

    Obviously, this makes illegals on the same level as folks who use illegal guns in a crime, but not my metaphor…..

    Now, I would no more allow a higher quota from Mexico to allow us to enforce our laws than I would support allowing a set number of highly armed gangs in order to be allowed to enforce anti-gun crime laws.

  • Back to reality. I’m against government rationing but if we’re going to ration, we’d be better off letting in the skilled and educated first. They don’t have to speak English. I’d let in a great Chinese chef before a British bum.

    At which point you would render the administration of immigration policy rather rococo and also a department of economic planning on the Canadian model. It is not merely that public agencies lack the information set to predict with any degree of precision the evolution of labor demand. People’s properties and dispositions also change. In addition, when you admit someone, you admit all of their descendants.

    When you admit an immigrant, you admit a settler, who may do any number of things with his life. If you are concerned about the admission of ‘bums’, please recall that their is an assessment done of prospective immigrants which seeks to exclude persons likely to be a ‘public charge’; a simple medical examination might do. Please recall also that the receipt of Social Security retirement benefits requires one have paid payroll taxes for a baseline number of quarters and that the receipt of disability benefits has a like requirement and a secondary requirement that one have spent a threshhold period of time in the workforce over the previous decade. Implementing like requirements for the receipt of any sort of benefit of common provision by immigrants should suffice to limit the immigrant population to a productive population.

    Outside of the Anglosphere, there is going to be some corellation between mastery of English and skills and education, but that is not all that important. Any society takes all kinds. A man from Jamaica who slices corned beef for a living makes his contribution to the common life too.

  • Societies have a ” carrying capacity ” to accept immigration without getting in to serious problems, this carrying capacity is not fixed, as it changes as different circumstances change. I am broadly sympathetic to persons wishing to emigrate to the US from Mexico, even when they would chose to do so illegally. I presume that many of the people who choose to emigrate illegally to the US, do so because they are facing catastrophic financial difficulties in Mexico and were they able to obtain a reasonable income through employment in Mexico, that they would sooner stay in Mexico. If one presumes then that many of the people who are emigrating illegally to the US are economic migrants, it is not unreasonable taking their needs in to account, that for immigration in to the US to be useful to them, they need to have better economic circumstances in the US than in Mexico. There are serious structural problems in the US economy and large inflows of low skilled Mexican workers, regardless of whether it is illegal migration or legal migration, will not solve those problems, it will aggravate those problems. The US needs to build a fence on the US Mexican border and reduce the volume of illegal immigration through that measure. If the fence is effective and I believe it will be, then the numbers of persons to be admitted through the legal immigration process from Mexico could be raised but 250,000 is unrealistically high. A fence will also substantially degrade less sophisticated cross border narcotics smuggling operations.There seems to be a lack of comprehension on the part of the person who wrote the item ” A Brief Thought on Immigration “, that one can be a good person, trying to do good people good and it can all go horribly wrong. There is a real risk that the United States of America could implode or morph in to an Islamic state and engaging in well intended but society stressing immigration policies could encourage such an implosion or morphing in to an Islamic state. It is blatantly obvious that Islamists will attempt to target the Catholic Mexican immigrant community in the US for conversion to highly aggressive interpretations of Islam. If one has immigration from Mexico regardless of whether it is legal or illegal immigration, if the US economy can not give those immigrants possibilities of significant social and economic progress, they are not likely to go home to Mexico but rather stay in the US and become increasingly disenchanted with the USA and Islam in an extreme interpretation will likely seem highly attractive as an ideological / religious model to them.

What If A Law Can't Be Enforced?

Monday, May 3, AD 2010

The discussions here about Arizona’s new attempt at enforcing immigration law have set me thinking about a more general question: What should we do as a body politic in a situation in which a law we have passed seems impossible to enforce?

In a sense, no law is enforced perfectly. Cannibalism is against the law, yet it does still, on rare occasions, happen that someone kills and eats someone else. We don’t generally describe this as the laws against cannibalism “not being enforced”. Rather we describe it as someone breaking the law.

When we talk about a law not being enforced, we generally mean that a lot of people are breaking it, and yet few of them seem to be suffering the consequences. Thus, although murders take place on a daily basis in our country, we generally do not hear complaints that no one is enforcing the laws against murder, since we at least see the police and prosecutors going through the process of trying to arrest and prosecute people for those crimes.

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44 Responses to What If A Law Can't Be Enforced?

  • While staggering amounts of resources are devoted to enforcing both of these

    For the record, the sum of appropriations for Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement is under $20 bn, or 0.12% of domestic product. I read an interview with a lapsed INS agent some years ago wherein he stated that (ca. 1990), that agency had all of seven (7) agents in the five boroughs of New York tracking down those who had overstayed their visas. Can we please build that cement wall on the southern border?

  • Thank you DC. It’s frightening that we agree lately. It must be the issues…

  • To answer the primary question, whether the enactment of a law is prudent turns on a number of factors, but one important one is enforceablilty. If a law is generally ignored because it is impractical to punish violators, then it is probably an imprudent law.

    As a related matter, however, it is important to have a proper understanding of enforcement. In general, enforcement efforts are focused on apprehending violators, not preventing crime. In this sense I think it is very mistaken to suggest that our narcotics laws are not enforced. We may have widespread violations, but we have widespread enforcement as well — just look at our justice and prison systems. If we chose not to enforce these laws, the use of narcotics would be far more widespread — see Holland.

    This is equally true of cannibalism. I’m unaware of any widespread problem, but if instances surface so will criminal prosecutions.

    Illegal immigration is a bit different. Most people agree that it is not impractical to police our borders. Most other first world nations do it without much difficulty. The fact that our government chooses not to is scandalous. Apprehending illegals who are already here is far tougher, however, and general success would require prodigious resources and aggressive tactics that many Americans would find discomforting. Plainly, other options must be explored. But simply accepting widespread flouting of the law with no meaningful enforcement is unhealthy for a society. It breeds disrespect for the rule of law, and the respect for the rule of law is a cornerstone of a prosperous and free society.

  • Most people agree that it is not impractical to police our borders. Most other first world nations do it without much difficulty. The fact that our government chooses not to is scandalous.

    Well, we do have 20,000 border patrol agents — that’s not so much choosing not to as trying and failing. I’m sure that we could put more resources into border enforcement, and I’m sure we could use the ones we have more efficiently, but at the same time, it strikes me as unlikely that we can have such an incredibly large border with Mexico, with so much legal travel and trade going on, and not have a fair amount of illegal immigration if we insist on having a fairly low immigration quota.

    I may be missing something, but I can’t think of any other first world nations which share such a long border with a country so much relatively poorer than they are. So it doesn’t seem surprising to me that we’d have a lot more trouble enforcing immigration laws than other countries.

  • Drug laws can be enforced very efficiently and many countries do. Just execute all offenders. We can do the same for illegal immigrants. But most of us don’t care to deport our pool cleaners.

    Recreation drug use, underage drinking, speeding, and overstaying your visa are all, more or less, victimless crimes. The vast majority of offenders don’t cause any trouble. Libertarians wouldn’t punish any of them. At the very least the punishment should be minimal. Besides, illegal immigration is a result of restrictive legal immigration policy. It’s akin to Prohibition.

  • I do see some distinction between enforcement of immigration laws and drinking and speeding laws. The latter is a transient condition and the former is not. (I believe it was Churchill who told a woman “You’re ugly.” She replied, with disgust, “You’re drunk.” To which Churchill replied, “You are correct, madam, but in the morning I’ll be sober and you’ll still be ugly.” But I digress.)

    The focus of virtually all commentary on this subject is on people crossing the southern border of the United States. Some attribute this to racism. There may be some people so motivated, but I don’t think that playing the race card really adds anything to the discussion, one way or the other.

    Clearly, to better enforce the law in this geographic area, would require a lot more personnel, many more patrols, etc., probably barbed wire, mines and machine gun towers. Neither party has been willing to establish that budgetary priority. That leads me to suggest that, in the real world of politics, it isn’t going to happen.

    Further, it is my understanding that an estimated 40% of the people here illegally came here legally, perhaps to visit relatives, attend school or just came as “tourists.” They just never left when their visa expired. Not surprisingly, we don’t attach tracking collars to people who come to visit. So how do we “secure our borders” against that?

    The experience with the southern border and the over staying their welcome people suggests to me that “securing our borders” is an illusion, along the lines of “energy independence,” sloganeering about something that can not happen, as an alternative to a serious policy discussion. I don’t think that most Americans are really prepared to do the things that would be necessary to actually do in order to prevent further illegal immigration. We’re talking large numbers of armed enforcement officers, road blocks, “Are you papers in order?” etc.

    Further, even if we could identify, with zero errors, who is here illegally and who is not, and I don’t think that is really feasible, what could we do with them? I have heard estimates ranging from 8 million to 16 million who are here illegally. Are we prepared to forcibly deport 8 million people, breaking up families in some cases? Never mind the economic effect on the communities who employ many of these people. Never mind the mind boggling logistics of moving that many people to “some other” country. I don’t think this is a morally or even politically realistic alternative.

    So where does that leave us?

  • I think, actually, that it’s far easier to make a case for the decriminalization of drugs than it is to make a case for the decriminalization of illegal immigration. If the empirical results of Portugal’s experiment in this arena are any sign, the social ills related to decriminalization are far less than those tied to the status quo: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=portugal-drug-decriminalization

    Also, I think that the decriminalization of drugs would actually *help* the country do something meaningful about immigration, as it would do a lot to lessen the stranglehold over northern Mexico currently enjoyed by the cartels and would subsequently lessen the crime in Arizona, California, and Texas associate with those cartels.

  • Darwin quit talking commomn sense/ I can make the same point on DWI laws. We know they are being enforced. BUT OH GOODENSS THERE ARE DRUNK Drivers on the road!! So they must not be being enforced

    I really encourage people who say the Federal Govt is trying to do nothing to get on twitter. A few weeks ago everyone was aghast on the left that Obama was deporting people left and right.

    Again this is a lot more complicated than people on either side will realize

  • Patrick

    As too Machine gun towers does that mean you think its proper to machine gun these people down?

  • This is not that difficult.

    The border with Mexico is a shade under 2,000 miles long. Build a cement wall, decorate it with razor wire, add observation towers, and hire ~15,000 guards working in shifts and equipped with firearms and optical equipment to police it. That will force turnstile jumpers to make use of one of the several score lawful crossing points, where the 20,000 agents made reference to above can apprehend them (and small roving ambulence squads can pick up and minister to any who get shot from the observation towers).

    Once you have apprehended them, take them in front of a justice of the peace and thence off to a forty day stint in solitary confinement in a federal jail dedicated to these purposes. During that stay, you can collect identifying information from your subject and put it in a databank. At the end of his forty days in the cooler, deport him. If he returns, its sixty days in jail.

    You hire 15,000 border guards, a few thousand court functionaries, and some thousands more prison staff and make the associated capital investments and you have resolved that component of the problem of illegal immigration. If it be worth it to you.

  • “and small roving ambulence squads can pick up and minister to any who get shot from the observation towers). ”

    I know you are being sarcastic but sdaly too many would be fine with this

  • You hire 15,000 border guards, a few thousand court functionaries, and some thousands more prison staff and make the associated capital investments and you have resolved that component of the problem of illegal immigration. If it be worth it to you.

    An even simpler approach would have no additional costs at all: We could declare the entire country to be a prison and announce that we have now imprisoned all illegal immigrants.

  • Making it a felony for a person to knowingly hire an illegal alien would go a long way to deterring illegal immigration. An illegal who is deported will often try again to come across the border. He or she has nothing to lose. Drying up the sources of work however would make the US a much less tempting place to live. A few high level prosections of a few corporate CEOs and some Hollywood stars would go a long way to getting the message across that the US, this time, is serious about stopping illegal immigration. Just the threat of such prosecution would eliminate most of the jobs that illegal aliens are currently hired to do. No jobs, no illegal aliens.

  • “Making it a felony for a person to knowingly hire an illegal alien would go a long way to deterring illegal immigration. An illegal who is deported will often try again to come across the border. He or she has nothing to lose. Drying up the sources of work however would make the US a much less tempting place to live. A few high level prosections of a few corporate CEOs and some Hollywood stars would go a long way to getting the message across that the US, this time, is serious about stopping illegal immigration. Just the threat of such prosecution would eliminate most of the jobs that illegal aliens are currently hired to do. No jobs, no illegal aliens.”

    Why does everyome think this is all HIGH priced CEOS and big companies. After Katrina there were a lot of ordianry people that got their home repairs and in fact Parishes Levees reparied because of illegals. They were the only work force

    In case people have not noticed we have a huge Crisis on the Coast and from whqat I hearing we having problems filling jobs that are paying around 15 dollars a hour. Guess what illegals will fill it and no one complain since out lievehood is at stake. Should people with oyster leases get felonies because they got to get people to stop the oil from coming in

  • As Milton Friedman once noted, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Every dollar spent on immigration enforcement is one dollar less to be spent on ordinary law enforcement, healthcare, education, etc. The question ought to be not whether the law should be enforced or not (since as Darwin notes enforcement is not a binary question) but at what point spending more on border security costs more than it is worth. Given that even conservative estimates are that immigration is a net benefit to the U.S. economy (of approx. $20 billion a year), I would suggest that we are already spending too much.

  • “After Katrina there were a lot of ordianry people that got their home repairs and in fact Parishes Levees reparied because of illegals. They were the only work force”

    I rather doubt that jh. I suspect they were the cheapest work force. Gaining control of our borders I put at a far higher priority than people having access to a relatively cheap source of labor.

  • An even simpler approach would have no additional costs at all: We could declare the entire country to be a prison and announce that we have now imprisoned all illegal immigrants.

    I do not understand this response. I believe their are 3.3 million persons on the federal payroll. A 1% increase in that number might just secure the southern border. If it is not worth it to you, it is not worth it to you. It is, however, feasible.

    I know you are being sarcastic

    I was not. Cops are armed. Firearms are not ornaments.

  • Given that even conservative estimates are that immigration is a net benefit to the U.S. economy

    Largely reaped by immigrant populations themselves and sensitive to public benefit regimes.

    Pareto optimality is not the only issue here.

  • “I rather doubt that jh. I suspect they were the cheapest work force. Gaining control of our borders I put at a far higher priority than people having access to a relatively cheap source of labor.”

    You may doubt it all you want but I know from everyone talking about it it was the only workable compentence work force people could find. Unless you wanted to wait for year with a hole in your roof.

    Just saying the soultion is comprehensive. No doubt now with out crisis on the gulf wioth the oil spill illegals will be play a crucial part in saving our coast because well too many peopl find working for 15 buckes a hour too low!! The roundups will not hasppen and we shall all tuen a blind eye. Untill they are no longer needed and become “criminals” again/ That is the reality

  • Art,

    You think we should shoot illegal immigrants?

  • If I were to charge a state police roadblock, I think I would do so expecting that by luck or finesse, said trooper would miss when he shot at me or my vehicle. Someone making use of whatever technology is available to scale a cement wall being monitored by armed guards should do so understanding that he is risking a dose of lead, most particularly if he is told to halt. It is police work and deadly force is part of their tool kit.

  • “because well too many peopl find working for 15 buckes a hour too low!!”

    Once again jh it sounds to me as if you are talking about a cheap labor force rather than the only labor force available. I might add that here in Central Illinois plenty of people are working for far less than $15.00 per hour.

  • Art,

    I’m not clear what point you’re trying to make here. Yes, clearly if we wanted to implement full Berlin Wall type measures across a two thousand mile border (I assume we would also have “kill foreigners before they clear the surf” rules along the coastline like Shogunate Japan?) we could, as some financially achievable cost “secure our border”. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s “possible” to enforce the law, though.

    After all, it would be feasible in a financial and practical sense to mandate the installation of a “black box” in every car which would read a regional transponder that broadcast the local speed limit and if you exceeded the limit by so much as one 1mph, cut the engine and radio for the highway patrol to come and cuff you. It would be feasible to install microchips in the neck of every child which would detect any trace of blood alcohol injected before 21 and immediately radio for police to come pick the under age drinker up. Both would be almost as feasible as building a 2000 mile long wall with machine gun nests every couple hundred yards, but that doesn’t mean that they’re “possible” means of achieving full enforcement of the relevant laws.

    Which was my point.

    I mean seriously, you’d not actually advocating that we shoot people trying to sneak across the border, are you? We don’t allow cops to shoot someone who isn’t obviously an immediate physical threat to someone. Cops aren’t allowed to just gun down people who don’t listen to their verbal command to halt.

  • Making it a felony for a person to knowingly hire an illegal alien would go a long way to deterring illegal immigration. An illegal who is deported will often try again to come across the border. He or she has nothing to lose. Drying up the sources of work however would make the US a much less tempting place to live. A few high level prosections of a few corporate CEOs and some Hollywood stars would go a long way to getting the message across that the US, this time, is serious about stopping illegal immigration.

    Overall, I would definitely approve more of penalizing employers. However, I would imagine that if you weren’t prosecuting someone unsympathetic and famous, it would be moderately hard to make it stick. Picture:

    “Did you know this guy was an illegal immigrant?”
    “Absolutely not. I asked him for documentation when I hired him and he showed me papers that looked genuine.”

    Given the prevalence of face documentation, if you nail people regardless of whether they “knew” their employee was illegal, then a lot of employers will decide not to hire anyone who speaks Spanish just to be on the safe side. If you only prosecute people who “knew”, then somehow no one will have known.

    Personally, I would have no problem with a secure national ID card to deal with that problem, and I think it would probably help a lot, but somehow most conservatives happen to also hate the idea of a national ID card.

  • “Personally, I would have no problem with a secure national ID card to deal with that problem, and I think it would probably help a lot, but somehow most conservatives happen to also hate the idea of a national ID card.”

    I would have no problem with a National ID Card, especially since our social security numbers have been de facto serving that purpose since the New Deal.

    “Absolutely not. I asked him for documentation when I hired him and he showed me papers that looked genuine.”

    That is when you play the video of him boasting to friends or stock holders that he has lowered the costs of the business\corporation by hiring illegals. Disgruntled employees, vengeful ex-spouses, etc all make excellent witnesses in this type of prosecution. Tax fraud prosecutions would be an excellent model for how these type of cases could be won. Oh, and then there are the illegal aliens themselves who might be willing to aid in the prosecution if given the proper incentives, including a monetary reward for informing on their boss which should be a part of any legislation. If government wants to crack down on the employers it wouldn’t be that difficult or that expensive.

  • I would have no problem with a National ID Card, especially since our social security numbers have been de facto serving that purpose since the New Deal.

    Yeah, I’ve never understood the hysteria about the idea. Especially given how pathetically easy it is to counterfeit social security cards.

    Oh, and then there are the illegal aliens themselves who might be willing to aid in the prosecution if given the proper incentives, including a monetary reward for informing on their boss which should be a part of any legislation. If government wants to crack down on the employers it wouldn’t be that difficult or that expensive.

    How about the ultimate Machiavellian twist: Green cards for illegals who successfully inform on their bosses who hired them illegally!

  • There are foreign policy implications in militarizing a border. While there are plenty of illegal immigrants created by illegally crossing the border, more typical is the illegal immigrant that crossed the border legally. As for making the hiring of an illegal immigrant a felony, good luck with that. The federal prison population is 211,455 this week. The number of illegal immigrants is estimated at over 10,000,000. Needless to say, a doubling of the prison population would easily be possible, if not an increase of an order of magnitude were serious enforcement were attempted.

  • I’d have no objection to such a reward Darwin!

    MZ, you don’t need to prosecute them all. A few high profile ones and people will decide it isn’t worth the risk to save a few bucks on having the lawn mowed, on the live-in Nanny, or mega-Corp hiring illegal aliens to gain a few points on the bottom line. Additionally to the felony hit, a fine of $50,000 per illegal alien hired could be tacked on. Otherwise solid citizens who are hiring illegals purely because they work cheap would quickly realize it wouldn’t be worth the substantial headache if they were caught.

  • I guess I am uncertain as to why you would regard a fortification which demarcates a national boundary frequently violated as something analogous to to putting a person’s motor vehicle engine or liquor cabinet under state control. People tend to resist encroachments on their domestic sphere. The Mexican border is not running through your pantry. (And I would not concede that the microchip idea is technically feasible).

    My example of hypothetical dealings with New York State troopers holds here. It is not difficult to avoid being shot by cops. Do not hire heavy equipment to charge border fortifications and stop your vehicle when they tell you.

    I assume coppers in Corpus Christi will take people who wash ashore into custody and kill them only in self-defense.

    Some people refuse to submit to the authority of the police and some portion of these put life an property in danger in the process. I think the municipal police in New York City shoot about two dozen people a year, on average. Would you prefer they were unarmed?

    Conceivably you could have cost estimates of such a construction project which might cause me to reconsider. There’s an awful lot of concrete in the Interstate Highways, though. The one nearest me runs from Boston to Seattle, I think.

  • There are foreign policy implications in militarizing a border.

    Blah blah. Implicate away.

  • MZ, you don’t need to prosecute them all. A few high profile ones and people will decide it isn’t worth the risk

    This has been the path to some of the more egregious abuses of discretion in prosecuting our drug laws. I’m wary of creating a penalty for deterrence effects. 1) Our best evidence suggests severity isn’t a deterrence. 2) I think gross penalties tend to encourage corruption, the current state of plea bargaining being a prime example.

  • Most laws work purely on deterrence. Traffic laws and tax laws are prime examples. As to plea baragaining, whenever you have criminal statutes you are going to have plea bargaining. Without it, the legal system would come grinding to a halt within a month.

  • 1. Make employers of illegals likely to be caught;
    2. Make the fines and prison time for employers of illegals significant;
    3. Make the fines and prison time for financial services organizations doing business with illegals significant;
    4. Enlist all public services delivery organs (excluding emergency medical) in detecting those here illegally, and make them ineligible for those services (again, excluding emergency medical);
    5. Make it easy for employers, financial services firms, and public service delivery organs to determine who is here illegally and who isn’t;
    6. Ensure that those detected, are repatriated, or at least terrifically inconvenienced.
    7. Double or treble the legal immigration opportunities, with anyone apprehended here illegally made ineligible even to visit as a tourist for ten years after their conviction, and put them at the “end of the line” thereafter. (I.e., reward those who go the legal route.)
    8. End birthright citizenship for children whose parents are not both citizens.

    This is the kind of thing a civilized society is morally obligated to do, and it is tender-hearted without failing to be tough-minded. The tough-minded part is the most important, of course, because it makes the tender-hearted part possible. But those who pursue only tender-hearted policies, without the prerequisite tough-mindedness, get neither.

    Anyhow, do all that, and you needn’t militarize the border, except as sufficient to capture, and when needed, destroy, drug runners. (I hear that Predators with Hellfire missiles do an admirable job at the latter, when there aren’t crowds of migrant laborers obfuscating the target.)

  • I guess I am uncertain as to why you would regard a fortification which demarcates a national boundary frequently violated as something analogous to to putting a person’s motor vehicle engine or liquor cabinet under state control. People tend to resist encroachments on their domestic sphere. The Mexican border is not running through your pantry.

    My point was more that having our southern border marked by a large cement wall topped with razor wire with machine gun emplacements every few hundred yard where border guards are under orders to shoot anyone who approaches the wall is something most people would consider to be authoritarian and un-American. I mean, we’re not talking about a country we’re at war with, we’re talking about peaceful trading partner that we have 250 million legal border crossings a year with. Seriously? You think the American people want people getting machine-gunned on a daily basis for approaching a wall? I keep hoping I’m playing the stupid straight man to a brilliant flight of sarcasm here.

    And even imagining this wall. (A little rough math suggests you’d need 8,800 machine gun emplacements if you put them every 400 yards, which with three shifts and two men per emplacement means you’d need about 53,000 guards.) What are you going to do about the thousands of people who could simply approach a legal border crossing point during daylight and respond to, “What is your business in the US,” with, “Para visitar a mi hermano.”

    Some people refuse to submit to the authority of the police and some portion of these put life an property in danger in the process. I think the municipal police in New York City shoot about two dozen people a year, on average. Would you prefer they were unarmed?

    No, I don’t think police should be unarmed, but surely you realize that police have very specific rules of engagement concerning when they can use their guns? They’re allowed to shoot when they think that someone is an immediate physical threat to the officer or to a bystander, not just because someone isn’t listening to order to stop. This is why there’s such a big stink and an officer accidentally shoots an unarmed minority guy.

    Shooting someone simply for putting a ladder against a wall and trying to climb over would be a massive departure from the way the US behaves anywhere other than a war zone.

    Seriously, you know this, don’t you? You’re normally one of the most widely informed commenters we have around here.

  • It did occur to me that police have specific rules of engagement, but thanks for the lesson.

    I am not responsible, Darwin, for where your imagination leads you. I did say that sentinels at the border should be armed and that encounters between law enforcement and its objects lead to lethal violence on occasion. It should not surprise you if this occurs at the Mexican border. The initial subject of these discussions concerned the activities of organized crime, whose members are not adverse to the use of lethal force and do attempt to cross the border on occasion. The business about machine guns and quotidienne killings is in your head. Nothing to do with anything I ever alluded to.

    The purpose of fortifying the border is to channel the traffic to the legally-designated crossings where persons, vehicles, and merchandise can be subject to proper inspection. Your reference to the number of legal crossings is puzzling; fortifying the border does not in and of itself limit the number of legal-crossings, though it may exacerbate queuing problems. I am sorry the aesthetics of a concrete wall offends you. I do not care for the look of strip malls. I suppose the ugliness of them is not so ‘un-American’, however.

    Look, we are either serious about this or we are not. If immigration law is to serve public policy, immigration law has to be enforced. If it is not, circumstance, or someone other than you and your legislators, are establishing the pathways and destination meant to be set by immigration law. Enforcement means capital investment and manpower to see to it that people crossing the border have their paperwork in order. Enforcement means uniformed armed men telling you to do what you might prefer not to. There are occasions in this world when that turns ugly. And there is nothing terribly shocking about that.

    We are not at war with Mexico. That does not mean Mexican citizens should be permitted to settle in this country without a proper visa. If you are not willing to fortify and defend the border, that is your preferred policy by default. If the Mexican government fancies it is a casus belli that their citizens are compelled to follow the regulations which apply to everyone else, tough.

  • What are you going to do about the thousands of people who could simply approach a legal border crossing point during daylight and respond to, “What is your business in the US,” with, “Para visitar a mi hermano.”

    If their paperwork is in order, wave them through. If it is not, hand them the proper forms and tell them to return with their paperwork in order.

  • The business about machine guns and quotidienne killings is in your head. Nothing to do with anything I ever alluded to.

    You’re right, it was another commenter who specifically mentioned “machine guns”, though that doesn’t strike me as a reach from what you said here:

    The border with Mexico is a shade under 2,000 miles long. Build a cement wall, decorate it with razor wire, add observation towers, and hire ~15,000 guards working in shifts and equipped with firearms and optical equipment to police it. … (and small roving ambulence squads can pick up and minister to any who get shot from the observation towers).

    The purpose of fortifying the border is to channel the traffic to the legally-designated crossings where persons, vehicles, and merchandise can be subject to proper inspection. Your reference to the number of legal crossings is puzzling; fortifying the border does not in and of itself limit the number of legal-crossings, though it may exacerbate queuing problems. I am sorry the aesthetics of a concrete wall offends you.

    Perhaps you know of something of which I’m unaware, but the only countries I know of which have fortified borders are those which are officially at war (ex: North and South Korea) and borders between authoritarian regimes and free countries (built by the rulers of the former to keep their citizens in.) Somehow all other civilized nations do have immigrations laws yet don’t have fortifications.

    Though to be fair — the US/Mexico border is the economically starkest in the world that I’m aware of, so I suppose one could argue this is from lack of need.

    If their paperwork is in order, wave them through. If it is not, hand them the proper forms and tell them to return with their paperwork in order.

    There is not a visa required to make a day trip to the US from Mexico. You just show ID and walk right through.

  • I just don’t get it. I have lived in Texas since 1974 and illegal immigration has been around the entire time, if not from time immemorial. Why is it suddenly now such a huge deal? What has so significantly changed? Is it 9/11? If that’s the excuse, then the Canadian border (which is much larger) is an even bigger threat b/c of their much larger Muslim population and more hospitable crossing opportunities (ie, no desert). But no one seems to worry about that for some reason.

  • There are other political frontiers which are also stark economic frontiers (Israel v. any of its neighbors, Saudi Arabia v. Yemen, Albania v. Greece). What is more atypical is the presence of extant social networks in which Mexican migrants can insert themselves and that the United States has a loose associative understanding of nationhood that is more friendly to migrants. Immigration is more a sociological phenomenon than an economic one.

    As for your last point – inneresting. Makes one wonder what is the value-added of surreptitious border crossings and coyotes.

  • The day thing, if I understand correctly, applies to border towns. At least that is how it is for Texas points I have encountered. So, for example, you can just waltz across back and forth in Brownsville, but when you try to get further in (closer to Corpus Christi) there are check points that require additional documentation. Thus, the coyotes are for getting you further in, I imagine.

  • then the Canadian border (which is much larger) is an even bigger threat b/c of their much larger Muslim population and more hospitable crossing opportunities (ie, no desert). But no one seems to worry about that for some reason.

    I am not sure I would characterize the crossing opportunities presented by the Rocky Mountains and the St. Lawrence Seaway as all that hospitable.

    That aside, if the population of Mexico and Central America were about a quarter what it is today, were the per capita income therein about 3x what it is today, were three quarters of the population therein conversant in English, and were the homicide rate a third what it is in the U.S., people might be less anxious about cross border traffic.

  • This discussion has gotten silly. I did laugh about declaring the whole country a prison, so we can say that we’ve apprehended all the illegals. What’s next? Pouring boiling oil on those who try to use a ladder to cross the fortified border?

    “A secure national ID card.” Ain’t no such thing. If you can make an ID card, so can I. All it takes is money to buy or make the equipment. There was an article in the Wall Street Journal last week about counterfeiting. It seems that the North Koreans make $100 bills that look as good as what we can print.

    None of the discussion about a fortified southern or northern border addresses the question of how to deal with people who are here illegally who came here legally in the first place, with a visa and a “welcome to the United States” from immigration.

  • National ID card? What happened to subsidiarity? States are clearly able to and currently do have ID cards.

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Cocaine, Cardinal Ocampo, and the Drug Wars

Tuesday, October 28, AD 2008
Drug Lord Eduardo Arellano Felix in Mexican Police Custody

Drug Lord Eduardo Arellano Felix in Mexican Police Custody

The drug problem in the United States, specifically cocaine, is very severe.  The U.S. is the number one user of this drug in the entire world.  Hollywood continues to glamorize the drug and the American public has an insatiable desire for it.  Greed and gluttony play prominent roles in creating this epidemic.  Many Americans seeking shortcuts to attaining the American dream sell drugs that feeds this gluttonous appetite for cocaine.  Unfortunately there are serious side effects that aren’t as widely publicized.

 

What are often overlooked are the victims of this drug trade.  Not necessarily those that are addicted to the drug simply because they chose to do so, but the innocent victims that are caught up in the drug trade.  Especially those that stand up to drug traffickers like that of the Archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico, Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo.

 

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20 Responses to Cocaine, Cardinal Ocampo, and the Drug Wars

  • I’m glad that at least some of the Cardinal’s assassins have been brought to justice. I would note, however, that the quickest and easiest way to reduce drug-related violence (both domestically and internationally) would be through drug legalization.

  • Legalizing drugs would only make the problem worse.

    I understand where you’re coming from, but the analogy of ‘legalizing murder’ comes to mind. It’s widespread, why prosecute it, why don’t we legitimize it and be done with it. It just doesn’t make sense.

    Reminds me of the (in)famous Chewbaca defense from South Park. It just doesn’t make sense.

  • The purpose of legalizing drugs is that it would lead to significantly fewer murders. Legalizing murder obviously wouldn’t have that effect, so the two cases aren’t parallel.

    During alcohol prohibition, the sale of alcohol was controlled by gangsters and violence was rampant. Now that alcohol is legal, by contrast, you don’t see representatives of Coors and Miller gunning each other down in the streets.

    It’s the same story with drugs. Back when drugs were legal (as they were through most of U.S. history), you didn’t have the system of drug cartels and inner city gangs that we have today. It was only after drug prohibition (and particularly after the start of the “war on drugs” in the late 1960s) that you started to see these things develop. Unsurprisingly the murder rate has shot way up since then.

  • Black Adder IV,

    Although I see the logic in legalizing drugs, I just don’t feel right about it. I need to think it through more to offer a better defense in not legitimizing drug use.

    I certainly see the comparisons during prohibition.

    What I’d like to see is the repelling of the income tax. It wasn’t instituted here in the United States until 1913. Now that would solve many problems.

  • … this is the same argumentation that we see today with abortion.

    Just go along with Roe vs. Wade and work on other social issues. That will reduce abortions.

    Ya right.

    That was the argument with prohibition. Did that lead to fewer alcoholics? How many road death related to alcohol do we see today. How about broken families due to alcohol?

    With drugs you’ll see the same thing.

    I’ve even read a few articles about legalizing prostitution.

    The ends never justifies the means..

    St Thomas More once said that ‘Compromise, Prudence and patience’ were virtues to live by. However, he knew that compromise could lead to laziness, and cowardness.

    “There comes a time to stand up and fight” Compromise can be the casket of integrity.

    WCC +<

  • Alcohol ? Cocaine

  • Well, I think the actual question would be: Is the use of illegal drugs inherently evil enough to merit banning them and dealing with the resulting illegal trade.

    You can’t get much more inherently evil than abortion, as there we’re talking about the snuffing out of an innocent life within what should be the protecting confines of his mother’s womb.

    The use of illegal drugs is, at worse, either a form of gluttony or a form of destruction of our bodies, which are deserving of respect as temples of the Holy Spirit.

    As with alcohol, some illegal drugs can result in functional impairment, and as with alcohol, extreme doses can resultin in injury or death. (I’d say that most “hard drugs” are worse than alcohol in this respect.)

    But I’m not sure that the degree of inherent evil involved in the taking of drugs is such that one morally _must_ outlaw them, and as such I think Blackadder’s point has some merit.

    On the other hand, the law often serves as a moral teacher. So it seems reasonable to assume that drug use would go up a bit if it was legalized.

    I’m not sure that I support legalizaing drugs, but I definitely don’t think that supporting their legalization would be akin to supporting legal abortion.

  • People do make the same sort of argument with regard to legal abortion, but I find the argument unpersuasive for the same reason that the “let’s legalize murder” argument is unpersuasive.

    Ending prohibition probably did lead to more drunk driving deaths and the like. Still, all things considered most people the disadvantages that come from legal alcohol to be less than the disadvantages that stem from prohibition. As St. Thomas said, sometimes the attempt to eliminate a particular vice only causes men to break out into even greater evils, when this is the case, one should let that evil be, rather than causing greater destruction by trying to stamp it out.

  • BA4,

    You’ve made some good arguments.

    What West Coast Catholic and Darwin said.

  • I think I’d add that it would also weigh against the banning of drugs that most of the time a drug user will only harm himself, whereas murder/abortion the primary harm is to someone else.

    The state has more business intervening when one person hurts another than when one person hurts himself.

  • I would also like to add the destruction of drug use does to a society and the family. Drug use is just not personal. Just ask anyone who had a “druggie” in the family.

    Just some points to consider.

  • -Now that alcohol is legal, by contrast, you don’t see representatives of Coors and Miller gunning each other down in the streets.-

    Well, my eldest brother and I fought over a Sam Adams, but the liberal press, as usual, totally overlooked that story!

    My own two cents is essentially that of WCC. I don’t think legalization is the way to go. I believe, when opium first became popular in the West, it was essentially legal, and caused huge problems. And do we really want to legalize crystal meth? Because, once it’s legal, every kid will be making it in his basement and getting hurt. Now, if you say, “No, certain things would be illegal, etc”, then we are not really talking about drug legalization. We are just talking about drawing the line in a different place and saying, “Now, this is the line you can’t cross!” It is just going to encourage further and future “innovations” in drug law.

    At the same time, I think a lot of the problem with pot is a result of being “illegalized”. I’m not a fan (tried it four or five times in college and didn’t understand what was so great. A girlfriend told me my problem was that I was always naturally high and therefore could not benefit from drugs), but it seems that it was made illegal (and therefore popular!) due to hemp’s competition with the lumber industry.

    My own problem with the legalize hemp/pot people, is they are always represented by freaks! It’s like marriage in the priesthood. I’ll be happy one way or the other, but the people for married priests who speak in public are always complete heretics, and not just for a married priesthood. I always feel the same with the legalize pot crowd…eh, you’re just a bunch of potheads! Get my grandma on your side, then we’ll talk!

    Really, the whole legalize drugs movement (BA IV excepted, of course) seems rife with suspicious characters. When your greatest press release is Woody Harrelson flying around in helicopters throwing hemp seeds at people, it’s gonna be hard to get me or Joe the Plumber on your side!

  • Not aware of this horror against an august bishop. Lovely that some measure of justice has been accomplished.

  • Thank you all for articulating for me the reasons why we shouldn’t legalize drugs.

  • I don’t think legalization is the way to go. I believe, when opium first became popular in the West, it was essentially legal, and caused huge problems.

    My understanding is that opium was around in the West for a long time without any major problems developing (the Lady Bertram character in Mansfield Park, for example, is apparently supposed to be an opium addict. She is portrayed as being a somewhat comic figure (similar to depictions of “stoner” characters now) but the novel is noticeably free of drive-bys. In fact, during the 19th century most opium addicts were women who had been prescribed the stuff by doctors for relief of “female problems.” It was only when you started having lots of immigration from China in the late 1800s that people became alarmed and opium was prohibited.

    And do we really want to legalize crystal meth? Because, once it’s legal, every kid will be making it in his basement and getting hurt.

    Why you think this would happen is unclear. Alcohol is legal, yet we don’t see too many people building stills in their basements. Incidentally, a number of the most dangerous drugs out there today plausibly wouldn’t exist were it not for drug prohibition (crack falls into this category, and I think crystal meth does as well, though I’m not sure). Because it’s illegal, dealers have an incentive to create drugs that are incredibly potent, so that it’s easier to create and move (similarly, if alcohol was illegal you would expect more consumption of hard liquor vs. beer and wine than you see now). I predict that if drugs are not legalized, in the next 30 years we will see the creation or new found popularity of at least one new “super-drug” that is incredibly dangerous.

    My own problem with the legalize hemp/pot people, is they are always represented by freaks!

    Yeah, this is a problem with a lot of drug legalization people generally. I myself have never smoked marijuana, let alone done any harder drugs.

  • The irony is that part of my job used to be helping to put drug dealers in prison (well, there are many ironies, but that’s one of them). Not that I feel bad about doing that; these weren’t nice guys we were locking up. I just think legalizing drugs would be the best (and probably the only) way to put them out of business.

  • -Why you think this would happen is unclear.-

    The stuff is so cheap to make, no one would pay for an “industiral version” (like they might for some sweet, well-cut coke, right?). I don’t think these new drugs would fall into the category of “if it were legalized, it would be manufactured safely”. I do see your point, and would have agreed with you some time ago, but I don’t think the plan works with meth on the street now, and I bet it wouldn’t stop crack, either. I think we would just create a lot of “pharmaceutical industries” (I can just see the advertising -Ask your doctor about Horse – side effects may include euphoria, seeing bugs and diarrhea) and a lot of cheaper “street” versions would still exist, still be illegal, etc.)

  • “Ending prohibition probably did lead to more drunk driving deaths and the like. Still, all things considered most people the disadvantages that come from legal alcohol to be less than the disadvantages that stem from prohibition. As St. Thomas said, sometimes the attempt to eliminate a particular vice only causes men to break out into even greater evils, when this is the case, one should let that evil be, rather than causing greater destruction by trying to stamp it out.”

    If you see the problem as a pragmatic one, then legalizing drugs isn’t the way to go. Drunk driving deaths were cut down by lowering the level of alcohol needed to qualify as drunk (or, if you prefer, “impaired”) while driving. Enforcement was eased by fact that a breathalyzer could be used to test the driver’s alcohol level.

    Similarly, any tolerance employers had for workers who drank during their lunches vanished. It wasn’t just because of union protection, but also because of inevitable lawsuits when some drunk screwed up on the line and hurt himself.

    There is no breathalyzer for drugs. And the legal system being what it is, it seems highly unlikely that on-the-spot blood or urine tests would be permissable. Even if they were, there would be a problem. For example, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol ) is stored in fat cells and can stay in the body for days or weeks, so pot-smoking drivers would test positive even though they weren’t high.

    Most likely, we’d be left with the other options: determining if drugs were involved after an accident, either in hospital or in the toxology report by the coroner.

  • The stuff is so cheap to make, no one would pay for an “industiral version”

    Few products are worth manufacturing for oneself. I see no reason to expect meth to be different, particularly given the safety concerns that making it yourself involves.

  • -I see no reason to expect meth to be different, particularly given the safety concerns that making it yourself involves.-

    Good point.