Thursday, March 02, 2006

Another Divisive Issue

(All emphases by Always On Watch)

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee will try to draft an answer to the House's immigration bill, which passed the House with no guest-worker provision. Chairman Arlen Specter may face controversy with his H-2C visa for hotel and restaurant workers as well as for other occupations not easily filled by U.S. workers.

From a March 2, 2006 Washington Post article entitled "Immigration Bills May Split Republicans: Bipartisan Call for Guest Worker Program at Odds With Push to Secure Borders":
"The Senate will begin work today on legislation to overhaul the nation's immigration laws and plug its porous borders, but a bipartisan push to create a new guest worker program has put Senate Republicans on a collision course with their counterparts in the House.

"The immigration question -- one of the volatile issues in this election year -- has split Republicans as no other issue before Congress. Vociferous opponents of illegal immigration are at odds with business interests and their allies, including President Bush, who are keen on establishing new, legal avenues to bolster the labor force.

"Many Republicans, especially those from the West, have said passage of legislation to enforce border security is vital to their reelection, and do not want this merged with other measures that would open up work options for immigrants.

"On the other side, supporters yesterday talked up efforts to open new opportunities for migrant workers. 'I smell victory in the air,' thundered Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), at a rally of immigrant hotel workers in Union Station....

"'This is going to be very, very difficult,' said Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), who supports a guest worker program and says immigration is one of the top two or three topics roiling the country. 'You've got a lot of emotions on both sides.'

"'The gap is huge,' agreed Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), who has been leading the charge for a bill that deals only with border security. 'I don't think you can square this circle.'...

"But to Tancredo and his allies, who are facing mounting constituent anger over what they see as a border crisis, such threats ring hollow. Business groups, organized labor and religious organizations may have united to back a broad guest worker program, but opponents say the interest groups are no match for the anger of ordinary voters. Even Specter conceded yesterday that the term 'amnesty' has become a political pejorative that will be difficult to escape.

"'This issue has now achieved a level of preeminence in the minds of America that it will be a factor in the election -- it has to be,' Tancredo said. 'The political consequences of failure will be dire.'"
Estimates place the number of illegal immigrants within our borders at 11 million. Multiple factors have gotten us to this point. Is the problem fixable?

50 Comments:

At 3/02/2006 8:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to keep my strawberries cheap; let the Mexicans carry on smartly at 50 cents an hour, hell yeah, just keep them out of our emergency rooms for free medical care.

 
At 3/02/2006 9:30 AM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

I've advocated ANNEXING Mexico. The Mexican / Guatemalan border is smaller and more easily secured. Illegal immigrants aren't illegal if they can stay in Mexico City and still be in the United States. We'd add more stars to our flag, and whatever corruption and malignant government the Mexican people are fleeing from will be toppled.

Maybe I'm a little non-standard in all of this because I have an uncle (by marriage) that is of Mexican origin. I see "illegal immigrants" as refugees.

 
At 3/02/2006 10:16 AM, Blogger American Crusader said...

Fixable? Yes. Do we have the political will to fix it is a better question. I don't understand why this hasn't been one of the Bush administration's priorities. Al Qaeda can walk across the southern border bringing all types of weapons including biological and chemical. Not only Al Qaeda, but this is the number one way illegal drugs are brought into this country bringing with it all the activity surrounding drug usage. Of course securing our border will be meaningless if we can't secure our ports.

 
At 3/02/2006 10:45 AM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

What's the problem? Let's define that first.

I'm not paying attention to Chicken Little's who think "biological and chemical" weapons can be smuggled in. I sat that is pure cheese. if someone would like to describe a specific offensive capability, agent, method of delivery then it can be debated. Otherwise it's just the pure stinky cheese.

Who is profiting from the immigration? Something like this doesn't occur unless someone wants it to occur. Someone's making a buck. Maybe when we can talk about the economics without the scare tactics and the bigotry we can resolve this matter

 
At 3/02/2006 12:51 PM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Unlike Ducky, I have no problem with people coming to America to make money. "Someone's making a buck" - yeah, look at the percentage of Mexico's GDP that is comprised of Mexican workers that jump the border to work in the United States.

Illegal immigration from Mexico could be stopped if our government and the Mexican government were actually interested in stopping it.

I'm probably the only person on the internet that sees a third solution - make Mexico the 51st through 83rd stars on our flag.

 
At 3/02/2006 1:36 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Beamish dear child. I have no particular issue with workers coming in.

However, I must point out that if we have a formal legal program they would most likely be eligable for minimum wage and other employment benefits. Employers would have to take on the costs rather than just profits and that is not something that right wing trogs can get behind.

 
At 3/02/2006 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

beamish,

There is a much more elegant solution. Aaron Burr had the right idea. The All Mexico movement was a failure. We took the "better half" in '48. Let some modern day Burr take on the other half and reform it.

-FJ

 
At 3/02/2006 6:48 PM, Anonymous Mustang said...

I think it's great that we are a nation of immigrants. All I expect, however, is for people to come here legally. Otherwise, on their very first day in America, they have become successful law-breakers.

It is not in Mexico's interest to stem the flow of illegal immigration; American officials lack the intestinal fortitute to tackle the problem with realistic solutions. Thus, there is no solution.

As to the costs of legal immigration, I suppose that Mr. Ducky has forgotten that businesses pass all costs along to the consumer. Paying higher costs, especially for escalating health and dental benefits, is exactly what we are all looking forward to.

And BTW, it's a double or triple whammy: increases in the cost of manufacturing, transportation, and retail. But heck, we can all afford higher costs, right?

 
At 3/02/2006 9:08 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Mustang, let me give you some assistance finding a clue.

Of course business passes on costs. Now when they are paying low wages and still passing on imaginary costs you are going to have to move in pretty freaking mysterious ways to get them to hire legal residents.

My office buildings first floor is being completely redone. You better speak Portuguese if you want to talk to the workers. The contractor is making off like a bandit. Why the hell should he care if he's hiring illegals?

Health and dental benefits? If you want to reduce those costs hen you help enact single payer and get the damn insurance companies and their twenty percent out of the game. No green card, no health costs. Contractors love it. You probably play golf with some of them.

Of course the economic growth we've had lately has been a result of two things: productivity(i.e. immigrants depressing wages) and going into hock.

 
At 3/02/2006 9:57 PM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Mustang, let me give you some assistance finding a clue.

Oh please, Ducky. You're a leftist. You don't even know what a clue looks like.

If it were possible to point at any leftist in history and proclaim them more intelligent than a door stop, someone would have by now.

 
At 3/03/2006 12:29 AM, Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

11 million.good Lord.
I agree with AC..its the administrations utmost priority..Lock the Gates!

 
At 3/03/2006 6:35 AM, Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Tancredo is right. Securing the border is the first order of business. Secure it now, unconditionally!

 
At 3/03/2006 8:10 AM, Blogger Pim's Ghost said...

Does anyone else here call Tancredo's office to beg him to run for President? I have become a, um well, regular caller.

As for being a "nation of immigrants", that is all well and good, but most sovereign nations on this planet are nations of immigrants who simply stopped the flow at a certain point or were invaded, resulting in a demographic shift. Why exactly are the US, Australia, Canada, etc. held up as examples of countries that should not be allowed to define themselves culturally and say "enough is enough"?

 
At 3/03/2006 9:02 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

We hear a lot about the benefits of a cheap labor-force. But there are costs to this force, particularly in health-care and in education. Programs in those areas affect every taxpayer's pocket. Furthermore, little is said of the diseases which enter our country as a result of infected illegals. A specific example of such a disease is TB, but there are other diseases as well, including leprosy. Some are nuisance diseases, others are more serious.

Another area of impact and a personal aside here...Have a car accident with an illegal immigrant, and discover the lack of recourse.

No culture or society can survive and uncontrolled influx of immigrants. And down the line, America may well be facing another impact of uncontrolled immigration. From this news article, in its entirety:

Getting the children of Spanish-speaking immigrants to finish high school and go to college is crucial to the economy as much of the nation's workforce edges toward retirement, says a report released Wednesday by a prominent government advisory board.

"Hispanics are coming of age in an aging society," says Marta Tienda, a Princeton University professor who headed a panel that studied the impact of the nation's 41 million Hispanics. "Education is the bottom line." The study was released by the non-profit National Research Council.

By 2030, about 25% of white Americans will be at retirement age or older, compared with 10% of Hispanics. Although a growing number of Hispanics have reached the middle class, the report says they continue to lag economically as a group because of a continued influx of low-skilled immigrants. At the same time, demand is rising for a better-educated U.S. workforce.

"Perhaps the most profound risk facing Hispanics is failure to graduate from high school," the report says. Hispanics have the highest high school dropout rate of any ethnic or racial group in the USA.

The report also cites low enrollment rates in four-year colleges and poor English skills. "These trends bode ill for Hispanics," the report warns. "Failure to close Hispanics' education and language gap risks compromising their ability to both contribute to and share in national prosperity."

Although the report stops short of making specific recommendations, it calls for investment in education and social programs. "We hope it triggers a lot of alarms," Tienda says.

The report comes at a time of intensifying debate over whether undocumented immigrants should be granted certain rights, including temporary work visas, driver's licenses and in-state tuition breaks.

"If you're the L.A. (Los Angeles) Unified School District, how can you try to advance the prospects of your poorly-educated student body when it's constantly expanding with people from abroad?" asks Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a group based in Washington, D.C., that advocates enforcement of immigration laws. "That's why immigration control is extraordinarily important," he says.

Stopping immigration won't reduce the number of Hispanics already here, says Roberto Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center. "Regardless of what happens to immigration flows, there is a huge second generation of Latinos," Suro says.

The challenge, he adds, is getting mostly white voters "to invest in the education of another group."

How Latinos fare academically will shape the nation's future, says Melissa Lazarin, senior education policy analyst at the National Council of La Raza, a civil rights group. "We need to ensure that they're well-educated and they get the tools that they need to contribute."


See the traps there? And what happens when schools more serve the needs of immigrants than the needs of average students, whose parents are a huge part of the tax base for the public schools? My 16-year-old cousin is one of those average kids, and I'm watching him flounder as programs for ESL flourish and as the entire curriculum is dumbed down in response to the influx of immigrants, many illegal--immigrants which cannot handle the course of studies without lots of intervention. This young man is losing his opportunity for a decent education; he's not bright enough for the GT program nor is he special ed. He is, therefore, lost in the shuffle. And he's one of many.

I also do not discount that WMD's can come across the porous borders, particularly those to the south. After all, before 9/11, few imagined that jetliners could be used as weapons. So, just because something hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it can't or won't happen.

Granting to masses of illegals amnesty and benefits which should be reserved only for legals--what message does that send to other immigrants, both legal and illegal?

Pim's Ghost made an excellent point:
most sovereign nations on this planet are nations of immigrants who simply stopped the flow at a certain point or were invaded, resulting in a demographic shift.

The fact that so many immigrants want to come here speaks loudly as to the opportunities America affords. But those opportunities are being diminished!

Duck asked an excellent question:
Who is profiting from the immigration? Making the cost greater than the profits would go far to reduce the problem, IMO. But the day-laborer centers are an end run around the enforcement which I advocate. Remember, the IRS penalties for tax fraud? If enforced as the code allows, businesses hiring illegals could be severely penalized. I also fault the many churches who aid and abet the influx of illegals.

Nevertheless, the masses of illegals already here present a huge problem, and for that, I don't see a quick and easy solution. Our government has let the problem proceed too far! For that reason, I've become an advocate of closed borders. As a foreign-language major, I never thought I'd come to that point.

Please note: I have no problem with legal immigrants!

 
At 3/03/2006 10:31 AM, Blogger Mussolini said...

I've always been a weirdo when it comes to Mexico... in the past I have proposed the exact solution Beamish offered: annexation. Clean them up and integrate them into the US.

However, such wishful thinking is just that. The Mexican drug and power lords would never let it happen.

Personally, I think that we build a wall similar to the iron curtain but let in all of the immigrants that want to come here to work in order to become citizens. Screen every single entrant for criminal record, diseases, and immigration intent (guest worker, citizen, dual national).

So, build a wall but open the choke-point gates and screen everyone.

This country was built on immigrants; let them in.

 
At 3/03/2006 11:10 AM, Blogger Redhead Infidel said...

AoW said: "Estimates place the number of illegal immigrants within our borders at 11 million."

Actually, the government wishes there were only 11 million. There's actually closer to 23-28 million, according to multiple souces, including Vicente Fox himself: Illegal aliens in the U.S.: 27,924,125; since Jan 1, 2006: 614,133 - and ticking...]

Mr. Ducky said: "I'm not paying attention to Chicken Little's who think "biological and chemical" weapons can be smuggled in. I sat that is pure cheese."

Where have you been? Suitcase nukes have already been smuggled in. And 1 in 10 CAUGHT border jumpers is Arab. Besides 4 times the numbers of illegals get into the country as get caught - there's no doubt terrorist operatives are getting through. Al Qaeda has already tested the open borders and succesfully gotten their agents in. Three were caught here in Texas, but...only three.

Instablepundit said: I've advocated ANNEXING Mexico.

Can't. Won't. They hate us. That country is corrupt beyond belief - and they've been socialized for 80 years. I've lived there, and they hate Americans. Besides, many of their cultural values are in opposition to ours. It would be a nightmare.

Mussolini said: "However, such wishful thinking is just that. The Mexican drug and power lords would never let it happen."

Exactly.

 
At 3/03/2006 11:33 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Redhead Infidel,
Thanks for all those links!

 
At 3/03/2006 12:35 PM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

As if President Beamish's Mexican annexation plan would leave drug and power lords around to complain about it....

/shrug

 
At 3/03/2006 12:41 PM, Blogger C-Mom said...

I agree with Pim... Tancredo in '08; and secure the boarder! I say ANYONE caught crossing should be shot on sight, no questions asked!

 
At 3/03/2006 1:49 PM, Blogger Iran Watch said...

ducky said... I'm not paying attention to Chicken Little's who think "biological and chemical" weapons can be smuggled in.

That's the problem, people like you aren't paid attention. Get your head out of your ass, if they can smuggle drugs, why not biological and chemical weapons. Why not small nuclear warheads?

MS-13 and Al Qaeda already have known connections. Don't be naïve.

 
At 3/03/2006 1:54 PM, Blogger American Crusader said...

An al-Qaida operative who was on the FBI's terrorist watch list was recently captured near the Mexican border, housed in a Texas jail and turned over to federal agents, Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, said on Friday.

"A confirmed al-Qaida terrorist, an Iraqi national, was held in the Brewster County jail," Rep. Culberson told ABC Radio host Sean Hannity. "He was captured in Mexico. This was within the last six weeks. He was turned over to the FBI."

Chicken Little? I don't think so.
Close the border.

 
At 3/03/2006 2:41 PM, Blogger American Crusader said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 3/03/2006 3:36 PM, Blogger American Crusader said...

And just for the record ducky, if you aren't paying attention then why did you respond to my post?
If you think illegal immigration is economically beneficial than you really aren't paying attention. Even though they may perform low-wage jobs Americans don't want its the American taxpayer who sends their children to school, provides social services and emergency hospital care and that's just for those who come here for work.

 
At 3/03/2006 4:18 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

I cannot understand why the Bush's administration is nor addressing this issue.
Afraid to lose Spanic vote?
Nort true.
Not in Florida anyway.

 
At 3/03/2006 9:05 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Excerpt from the beginning of this pdf:

The influx of illegal aliens has serious hidden medical
consequences.We judge reality primarily by what we see. But what we do not see can be more dangerous, more expensive, and more deadly than what is seen.

Illegal aliens' stealthy assaults on medicine now must rouse Americans to alert and alarm. Even President Bush describes illegal aliens only as they are seen: strong physical laborers who work hard in undesirable jobs with low wages, who care for their families, and who pursue theAmerican dream.

What is unseen is their free medical care that has degraded and closed some of America's finest emergency medical facilities, and caused hospital bankruptcies: 84 California hospitals are closing their doors. Anchor babies born to illegal aliens instantly qualify as citizens for welfare benefits and have caused enormous rises in Medicaid costs and stipends under Supplemental Security Income and Disability Income.

What is seen is the illegal alien who with strong back may cough, sweat, and bleed, but is assumed healthy even though he and his illegal alien wife and children were never examined for contagious diseases.

By default, we grant health passes to illegal aliens. Yet many illegal aliens harbor fatal diseases that American medicine fought and vanquished long ago, such as drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria, leprosy, plague, polio, dengue, and Chagas disease....


Quite a file to read!

 
At 3/04/2006 12:36 AM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

C'mon AOW.

Yet many illegal aliens harbor fatal diseases that American medicine fought and vanquished long ago, such as drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria, leprosy, plague, polio, dengue, and Chagas disease....

It's politically incorrect to apply what we learned of epidemiology in biology class to the contemporary world. Harp all you want about Europeans bringing the hell of smallpox upon American Indians in the past you heard about in history class. But don't you dare speak evil of the diseased coming to America now.

[sarcasm, obviously]

 
At 3/04/2006 7:34 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Beamish,
...Europeans bringing the hell of smallpox upon American Indians in the past you heard about in history class...

Just this week, my American history class was studying the Westward Movement, 1865-1900. The topic you mentioned was covered in our text.

The text didn't mention the disappearance of the Mandans. Was the cause smallpox?

 
At 3/04/2006 3:02 PM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 3/04/2006 3:06 PM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

AOW, I was thinking about the epidemic of smallpox among Southeastern tribes encountered by Spanish explorers (DeSoto, etc) from Florida up the Mississippi River valley from the late 15th century to the early 17th century.

 
At 3/04/2006 5:18 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Beamish,
Yes, I'm familiar with what happened to those tribes. Such epidemics happened in Central and South America too, I think.

 
At 3/04/2006 5:49 PM, Blogger jakejacobsen said...

American crusader,

Though I mostly agree with you I want to point out one important thing. I grew up doing a job Americans allegedly won't do. I grew up working in restaurants and ended up becoming a chef. I live in Chicago and until the mid eighties illegal immigration wasn't a huge deal. I never worked with an illegal until the mid eighties.

So this argument about jobs Americans won't do doesn't wash with me. With the exception of agriculture which has had a tradition of low wage (slave) labor every other industry that has overwhelming numbers of illegals has been turned into a job Americans won't do.

Or, to quote JD hayworth "a wage Americans won't take."

 
At 3/05/2006 7:36 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Jake,
With the exception of agriculture which has had a tradition of low wage (slave) labor every other industry that has overwhelming numbers of illegals has been turned into a job Americans won't do.

Good point!

It's a circle. The illegals keep the wages down, and the low wages keep the illegals working.

 
At 3/06/2006 11:36 AM, Blogger Mussolini said...

To use Ducky's leftist thinking, if farmers had to raise wages to employ Americans because we finally "got a handle" on the illegals, then they wouldn't pass along the costs...

Lefties always assume huge margins - not the 5% most companies work with.

No, the farmers would simply just do with less profits. So our food would cost the same. Surely, even Ducky is trapped by his own leftist arguments here. Employ more Americans with no cost at all. Win-win. 10 million illegals? Isn't that about the number of unemployed Americans?

We could pay American field workers $75 per hour because the farmers would "take it out of the profits." Note: no wage increase to a leftist ever has a "cost" - there's always evil, greedy profits to absorb them.

This is something even Ducky could get behind.

 
At 3/06/2006 3:40 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Largely incorrect, mussolini. I understand the Law of One Price. Basically everyone has the same technology and access to capital. As a result virtually the ONLY competitive cost is labor.

With the global glut in labor it means that a lot of people are going to endure sweat shop conditions.

Nasty cycle while the average American sits on his fat McDonald's fed ass and thinks he's actually produced.

It's a difficult problem for sure and something has to give. As I told Farmer John, I get tesy with right wingers because they fear this change and piss their diapers begging the nanny state to protect them.

That's the true nanny state.

 
At 3/06/2006 4:23 PM, Blogger Mussolini said...

Not a nation in the world can yet approach the productivity factor of Americans.

While products may be made cheaper as a raw economic cost in places where labor is practically legal enslavement, the quality of such products are invariably poor.

I could go on and on about the Chinese products we have purchased in the past three years that have proven to be worse than the caricatured "made in Japan" of the 1970s. I refuse to buy any more Chinese crap.

Consequently, I don't shop at Walmart.

This quick-buck method has cheapened all our lives by cheapening quality of the goods we buy. An informed and astute buyer will generally veer towards Occidental producers out of concern for quality. This is not a racist statement, but rather an acknowledgement of qualitative productivity. The exception to this are certain (not all) Japanese products.

Education and the effects of individual liberty seem to have more impact on productivity than the crack of the whip over penny-wage labor.

It's up to each individual buyer to support quality over price. Unfortunately, many are like you say, Ducky: McDonald's-fed lazy fat-asses who don't seem to care that half-price Chinese fingernail clippers rip your nails and are prone to bending rather than cutting like solid American brands of yesteryear.

Chasing the fleeting purchase power of the almighty buck combined with debt in the Western world is a troubling thing.

 
At 3/06/2006 6:51 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Mussolini,
Chasing the fleeting purchase power of the almighty buck combined with debt in the Western world is a troubling thing.

This past weekend, the WaPo had a feature article on the lack of savings accounts of the individual American. Many here in the D.C. area are counting on their home's equity to keep them afloat. But big trouble is brewing--the annual assessments are in, and some homes are up 40%; these homeowners are going to have a bad time paying the tax hike.

What follows is the entire article:

Our Financial Failings

Meet the typical American family.
It has about $3,800 in the bank. No one has a retirement account, and the neighbors who do only have about $35,000 in theirs. Mutual funds? Stocks? Bonds? Nope. The house is worth $160,000, but the family owes $95,000 on it to the bank. The breadwinners make more than $43,000 a year but can't manage to pay off a $2,200 credit card balance.

That is the portrait of the median American household as painted by the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances. The survey, which does not distinguish between sizes of families, nevertheless offers the most detailed look available of the balance sheet of U.S. households.

The Post asked a half-dozen financial planners to review the Fed data about what different groups of Americans own and what they owe. We asked them what advice they would give someone confronting the financial situation faced by the average American, using median numbers, or the midpoint at which half of the population is above and half is below each indicator.

They don't like what they see.

"This is awfully sobering," said Peter Speros, managing director of Sullivan, Bruyette, Speros & Blayney Inc., a wealth-management firm in McLean. "These numbers are just so much worse than I would have thought. It's a real eye-opener."

Specifically, Speros and the other planners said, if the average family walked into their offices, they would sit them down and give them some tough talk. Time to pare back expenses, the financial advisers would say, in order to build a cash reserve big enough to get everyone through a layoff or other unforeseen adversity. And the family would get an earful about saving more aggressively for retirement, so members could have some hope of retiring at a reasonable age and maintaining the standard of living they and their family are accustomed to. Only 49.7 percent of American families even had a retirement account in 2004.

Those at the median are not the only Americans who need help. The planners had advice for the typical family headed by someone who is young, middle-aged, retired, and for the affluent and poor. The bad news: Each of these groups need to do some things differently. The good news: Their financial problems are not hopeless.

 
At 3/06/2006 10:30 PM, Blogger Mussolini said...

I got out of debt in the early 90s.

I don't buy anything now unless I have the cash. The credit card (Discover for cash back bonus) gets paid off every month.

Some debt-guru once said that Americans with debt are living in the past. Gratification now with the result that they're paying for it, with interest, far into the future. Today, the average American is paying interest on crap they bought two or more years ago and may not still possess.

Our salvation does not depend on it, but is consumer debt (not considering mortgage) acceptable stewardship of what God has loaned us?

Our customs and traditions have soured with the "me me me" generation of the 60s that Ducky idolizes. Americans were better off saving for what they wanted, rather than borrowing indefinitely for instant gratification.

There's something to be said for self-denial.

If that doesn't paint me as an arch, ultra-radical far right conservative (and whatever other stupid, liberal hate "labels" one might throw around), then I haven't said it loud enough...

 
At 3/07/2006 7:10 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Mussolini,
Today, the average American is paying interest on crap they bought two or more years ago and may not still possess.

Running in the red and on borrowed time, IMO.

I was reared by Depressions-Era parents who taught me the dangers of debt and, like you, am not in debt--I've never had even a mortgage payment. Our financial lifestyle is quite unique in today's economy. But the blessings have been numerous, among them their allowing me to pursue my career of choice, teaching in private education (now homeschoolers). Plus, I can sleep at night without having to worry about how the bills will get paid.

Were my parents rich? Absolutely not. But my father was somewhat unique in that my paternal grandparents had a farm, which was parceled off; my father took his few acres and, with the help of a friend, built the house himself. Before my mother married my father, she joined with her brother, sister-in-law, and mother to buy the house in which I now live; the house was paid off very quickly. I now live in my mother's first house after care-giving my grandmother for some 9 years. That 9 years of caring for my grandmother enabled my husband and me to save over half of our incomes. So we don't live in a McMansion. Well, at least I don't have gadzillion windows to wash. I do wish, however, that we had central A/C and more than one bathroom. We don't get to take fancy vacations nor do we have fancy wardrobes.

But most people don't have the blessings I enjoy, and I feel sorry for those young people trying to get started today. As far as I can tell, the spirit of sacrifice-now-for-advantages-later is pretty well dead in today's society.

There's something to be said for self-denial.

True. My husband and I have never owned a new car, we don't much care about goodies such as new clothes and the latest gadgets, we still manage to save a few dollars every week, and we pay off the credit cards every month (Free AOL with the principal credit card we use). Allowing credit-card interest to roll is deadly to a family's finances.

Our biggest concerns are the skyrocketing real-estate tax and the constant climb in health-care premiums. I don't know how much more belt-tightening we can do.

I've also noticed this: many of the me-me generation aren't happy. Funny how that works.

 
At 3/07/2006 9:14 AM, Blogger Mussolini said...

"I've also noticed this: many of the me-me generation aren't happy. Funny how that works."

Oh, AOW, how very, very true!

I come from a richer background by inheritance. I think my aunt and uncle count is telling: 16 on my mother's side and three on my father's. I was not, however, given anything in my younger years - I had to earn it all. The biggest step up I received was acting as a youngster. I did a few commercials as a tyke and the money was invested into real estate as the boom was starting.

Lost it all, though. Was a hermit in Montana on the money when I was 20. Sold it all and bought a boat to go to Alaska. First wife and I hit a gale in Johnstone Straight, British Columbia. Sunk the boat.

Only by breaking a cardinal maritime rule did I survive. I should have been dead of hypothermia. God had later plans for me, obviously.

I faced the typical debt in the early 90s. Even more so since I had started a failed business on credit card. I took a mortgage on my condo, paid it all off and never went back into debt again.

When interest eats all of your available income and you're busy floating debt between 3 or 4 cards, you know it's over.

Perhaps this individualism is why I have a soft spot for immigrants - even illegals. Many Americans lack the basic drive that brings the illegal. Such energy is vital to this country.

 
At 3/07/2006 10:39 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Mussolini,
Perhaps this individualism is why I have a soft spot for immigrants - even illegals. Many Americans lack the basic drive that brings the illegal. Such energy is vital to this country.

I agree, but illegal immigration has significant negative impact on hard-working Americans. Not all Americans are sitting around and living off the fat of the land. And, of course, there are the cultural and security risks to take into account.

Lots of causes for the Lack of basic drive to which you referred. How to get that back? Or is it too late to get it back?

 
At 3/07/2006 3:59 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Mussolini and AOW, I'm afraid you offer no wait out of our Faustian bargain with the world. We go into debt buying their stuff and they cover the deficit by buying our bonds.

Now I'm not a big defender of the boomers but it was Preznit Raygun (every neocon's favorite sock puppet) who first hatched this "deficit's don't matter" scheme. So you must really take responsibility for some of what has been wrought.

AOW, please, no cliches. Stop the "hard working Americans" stuff. Just how does immigration hurt Americans? In the balance I don't believe it hurts those with a share of Kapital but makes them rather wealthier...working class, well when did you Reaganites get religion and care about them?

 
At 3/07/2006 7:14 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Duck,
...our Faustian bargain with the world. We go into debt buying their stuff and they cover the deficit by buying our bonds.

Agreed. "Faustian" is the exactly correct term. And neither political party is innocent in that regard.

I rather doubt that Americans today would do what is required to reverse the process we're undergoing. Of course, YOU are doing something, right? Besides, covering yourself, that is.

when did you Reaganites get religion and care about them [the working class]?

I happen to be a member of that working class--on the low end, at that. Other that Social Security, my husband and I have no retirement. We don't work for the government. So we are making our own retirement. I'm hoping that it's good enough. We'll see, I guess.

As to caring about those less fortunate than I, you have no way of knowing what I do in that regard. I won't give details about how I extend charity--unseemly to do so. But I will say that my extension is significant and that my husband and I have taken in several of the homeless into our own house, from time to time--on several occasions for months on end. Such has always been our practice, as it was for my parents and grandparents. Sure, some of those we've taken in might be labeled "undesirables" (alcoholics, drug addicts, physically disabled/disfigured, etc.) and all social outcasts; but they go where we go, and if others don't like it, too bad! Most whom we've taken in have been Americans, but a few have been immigrants--legal ones, however.

I prefer the up-close-and-personal touch with my charity, which extends beyond our family, BTW, though family members are also a part of our plan to help others. It's a drain on our budget and has significantly lowered our own standard of living. Doesn't matter.

Just how does immigration hurt Americans?

We've been over that before, and I don't have time right now to repeat myself. You can read the above comments if your memory needs refreshing.

it was Preznit Raygun (every neocon's favorite sock puppet) who first hatched this "deficit's don't matter" scheme

I read the book you recommended to me some time ago. And recently I finished Dutch. So, yes, Reaganomics was deeply flawed. Today--it seems to me--that the vast majority is living Reaganomics on the individual level. Crash and burn will eventually come.

 
At 3/08/2006 9:19 AM, Blogger Mussolini said...

Reagan and Reaganomics was a concept that worked.

Unfortunately, congress spends the money. I find it insulting that Ducky uses the switch and bait cliche that Reagan spent us into debt.

The largest expansion of our economy in modern times followed the release of capital from abusive taxes. Capital gains relief should be the easiest no-brainer of any thinking economist. Even the leftist GOD Kennedy understood this and unleashed capital through cuts in the cap gains rate.

What happened during the implementation of Reaganomics was the tossing of all restraint from congress to spend anything and everything they could dream. Reagan produced a balanced budget every single one of his years. Remember Tip O'Neil screeching like a pissed-off chimpanzee that the president's budget (every year) was "dead on arrival"?

Reagan wasn't responsible for spending the money. Stop the tin-foil hat lunacy and derangement over this simple fact.

Further compounding the deficit and debt was the Savings and Loan debacle that Carter and his democrat cronies signed into existence. Cleaning up the SandL (RTC, remember?) mess was thrown onto Reagan.

Such cliche partisan vomit I thought was beyond Ducky.

At least be truthful if you don't like Reagan. Just say: "he lowered taxes and I hate him." But stop the lies.

 
At 3/08/2006 10:22 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Mussolini,
Reagan wasn't responsible for spending the money.

True enough. Actually, the budget should originate in the House of Representatives. They can get voted out of office every two years.

the Savings and Loan debacle that Carter and his democrat cronies signed into existence

Now that you mention it, I remember the mess with the S&L's. I wasn't following politics very carefully during the RR administration--young and busy at the time.

Reagan produced a balanced budget every single one of his years.

Really? I'd better get out a history book and check that out. I think I'll first check The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, a great reference tool.

 
At 3/08/2006 10:31 PM, Blogger Mussolini said...

"Really? I'd better get out a history book and check that out."

Yes, he did. However, not a single proposed balanced budget of his was ever approved by the house. All of the budgets were "compromises."

The congressional democrats were so infuriated with the drive to rebuild the military that they only agreed under the provision that government spending on waste and pork increase at an even higher rate than military increases.

Reagan had no line item veto, and thus no choice but to go along.

 
At 3/09/2006 12:24 AM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Feh. Y'all just don't know how to run up a credit card, flip the debt over to another credit card to pay it off, and reverse the process the following month.

Why pay for your Big Macs when the Chinese want to ultimately pay for them?

 
At 3/09/2006 7:05 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Mussolini,
A little excerpt from the book I mentioned in a previous comment:

"Critics called it [the period of the Reagan administration] the 'decade of greed.' That's hardly a surprise; as Joe Sobran once said, 'Today, wanting someone else's money is called "need," wanting to keep your own money is called "greed," and "compassion" is when politicians arrange the transfer.'

"...[C]haritable giving--which, after all, represents pretty much the opposite of greed--increased substantially during the 1980s, and at a much faster rate than it had been increasing in previous decades...[T]he increase that occurred in expenditures on a great many goods and services that might be thought of as extravagant, including jewelry and watches, alcoholic beverages, restaurant meals, and persona services (such as health clubs, beauty salons, and the like)."

The book points out the tax cuts you mentioned but also states the following:

"On net, nowever, taxes actually increased throughout the 1980s, with later tax increases more than offsetting the reductions of 1981. Increases in Social Security taxes in the early 1980s were among the largest tax increases in U.S. history, and parts of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 effectively increased taxes by closing loopholes and eliminating certain tax credits."

The book also makes this point:

"[O]overall, spending on programs that included children and families increases by 18 percent between 1981 and 1989. Medicare funding was dramatically increased as well."

Here is another interesting portion:

"Republicans also have a vested interest in preserving this illusion [about budget cuts], since the idea that they really are poised to abolish various government programs plays well during fund-raising campaigns. The Democrats always sound as if they are losing; Republicans always speak as if they are winning."

The book states this toward the end, in the final chapter entitled "Clinton":

"Through the Medicare and Social Security programs, the federal government has made promises of benefits that over the next several decades will prove to be underfunded to the tune of tens of trillions. The level of taxation necessary to fund them would grind the economy to a complete standstill."

The book from which I'm quoting is dated 2004 and recommends as additional reading What Went Right in the 1980s by Richard B. McKenzie.

 
At 3/09/2006 9:19 AM, Blogger Mussolini said...

I've read that book. It was brief but pretty damn accurate.

About the "budget cuts"... Reagan didn't campaign on cutting the budget. He didn't campaign on reducing the size of government, and I agree that many conservatives believe they must uphold this illusion.

But I remember Reagan's campaign to "cut" and the keeping of his promise. Reagan campaigned on a promise to cut red tape in government. He eliminated 10s of 1000s of laws and regulations that were strnagling business.

He kept his promise on cutting. It just wasn't the size of government, but the effect of its reach.

 
At 3/10/2006 3:12 AM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Democrats and Republicans aren't even on the same page on what the size of government is.

Democrats view the size of government in terms of how many people it employs. Hence, Clintonian military personnel cuts are "reducing the size of government."

(Let's save the leftist idea that government is an armored division for another discussion)

Republicans view the size of government in terms of how much it mucks with people's lives.

 
At 3/10/2006 1:11 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Beamish,
Those definitions of Democrats and Republicans are pithy and accurate.

 

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