Kevin at The Smallest Minority
points us to this story
about determined minority high-school students competing against the
best-and-the-brightest from MIT in a robotics competition -- and
winning. It's an excellent reminder that the results you get
from our school system are hugely dependent on what you bring to the table in terms of brains, and more importantly, enthusiasm.
Schools do not fail because their students are undermedicated or
genetically incapable of learning. They fail because the students
don't want to learn, or can't be bothered to work hard at
learning. All other obstacles can be overcome by determined
students regardless of supposed cultural, financial, or genetic
barriers. (Hiring incompetent teachers
doesn't help, and is in fact one of the few things we can probably fix, but it's not the core problem).
So with that said... most, if not all, of the students described in
that article were illegal immigrants, or the children of illegal
immigrants. One, in particular, wanted to join the military as a
career option -- but could not, because his family was in the US
illegally. It seems cruel to deny these students the same
education benefits granted to ordinary citizens when they are clearly
capable, deserving individuals who would probably make good use of the
opportunity America not only offers, but represents
, to the poor and oppressed across the world.
They do not say, "I want to work hard and have a fair chance to
succeed." Even though that is what they mean, they say it
differently in the rest of the world. They say it like this: "I
want to go to America."
And yet America is becoming increasingly insular. Our
society is often divided along racial and ethnic lines, in large parts
due to efforts by the Democratic party. We are facing tough
economic choices regarding education, social security, health care, and
other entitlement programs. And we are facing a terrorist threat
that cannot be ignored.
Our citizens do not want to work at the low-skill, low-pay jobs taken
by illegal immigrants. Nor do they want to pay more for goods and
services. Those low-pay, low-skill jobs are given to illegal
immigrants because no one else wants them, and they are kept off the
tax books because it keeps costs -- and thus consumer prices --
down. Many of those jobs would become economically
insupportable if they were taxed and regulated the way that
on-the-books jobs are treated.
We deny many benefits of American society to illegal immigrants.
It's not quite second-class citizenship status; call it second-class
residency. Yet this flies in the face of our history, because
America has thrived by providing a haven for those who want to work
hard, take risks, and seek in return not government benefits... but
America is not the land of the free college education. America is the land of opportunity
And we have some hard choices to make if we want to keep that
title. We cannot allow the flow of illegal immigrants to
continue. What was an acceptable security risk before 9/11 is now
unsupportable. We need to know who is entering our country, and
we need to stop terrorists and criminals at the borders. Once
inside our country they can disappear into the population, and locating
them after that requires intrusive measures that threaten our cherished
tradition of liberty. Better to stop them at the border.
And yet we cannot simply stop them all. It's hard to measure the
effect it would have on our economy, but it's easy to understand the
effect it would have on our principles. If America is to remain
the land of opportunity, we need to continue to offer opportunity to
the world. More practically, it's politically impossible to
muster the required resources to close our southern border.
People will sneak through no matter what we do.
If we can't stop them, we need to know who they are. That's what
Bush is driving at with his various not-quite-an-amnesty immigration
programs. It's not something his Republican base is terribly
happy with. I have a certain amount of sympathy for those
views. The problem of illegal
immigration affects people in the southern border states personally and
viscerally. The same routes that smuggle people also smuggle
drugs, and the people running those routes are criminals willing to
threaten violence to protect their interests. How long before
those same routes begin to smuggle terrorists?
But those problems are associated with illegal
immigration. Make the immigration legal
and the honest folks who just want a piece of the American dream will
participate. The illegal smuggling routes will become the domain
of criminals only -- and there will be no political cost to cracking
down on those.
Once you've done that, though, there's still a problem. Do you
provide all the benefits of citizenship to these now-legal
immigrants? Or do you maintain a second-class status? If
you prefer to offer them the same benefits, how do you fund those
benefits? Remember, if you tax those jobs at the same rate as
other jobs, many of those jobs will go away entirely -- and you are
left with legal immigrants on welfare rather than illegal immigrants
struggling to make the American dream come true.
The solution is to recognize reality. Our politicians have
created a government wherein the costs of compliance (in the form of
taxation, regulation, and so on) are high enough to exclude the vast
majority of unskilled laborer jobs. Quite simply, we can't afford
to provide welfare, social security, health benefits, and free
education to low-income workers, because the cost of providing those services is greater than the revenue that can be derived from taxing the workers
Hard choices indeed.
The people who created those programs have a ready answer. "Raise taxes on the rich!"
they cry. "Redistribute the wealth!"
Well, the graveyard of history is filled with the corpses of communist
and socialist nations that tried exactly that and found out that it
doesn't work. More importantly, in America the market has spoken,
and the market has decreed that it is better to import undocumented
workers in violation of the government's tax laws than to pay the
Do you doubt me?
Some people made a stink
last year because the Libertarian candidate for President was a tax
protester. But Badnarik is just one man. The real tax
protestors are companies like Wal-Mart
who refuse to pay taxes on their employees in favor of employing
illegal immigrants. We're not talking wild-eyed libertarian
lunatics picketing the Internal Revenue Service here. We're
talking rational corporate actors making decisions to break the law.
The current tax regime is unsupportable, and the trends all suggest
that it will continue to get worse. We can't afford the
pseudo-socialist state that 60 years of Democratic dominance has given
us. They mortgaged our future
to pay for it, stealing the money
we contributed from a mythical trust fund, and now the bill is starting
to come due. We see it in jobs that go to illegals because they
can be kept off the books, and we see it in the looming social security crisis
The solution is to tighten our belts, abandon failed programs funded by fraudulent pyramid schemes
and return to a government of limited size and limited means.
Once we remove the excessive taxation, regulation, and red tape from
the economy, the jobs presently held by illegal immigrants can become legal
jobs held by legal
immigrants. Those jobs will still face a tax burden, but a
dramatically reduced one. The people working on those jobs will
not have to live outside the law. They won't get a free ride to
college, but they don't anyway; they will
get the opportunity to work their way through college, which they are
presently denied, even if they want to. Most important of all,
they won't be terrorists.
True, ordinary Americans will have to give up some of the benefits they receive. But that is both fair and inevitable
as the behavior of companies like Wal-Mart demonstrates. And it
will put pressure on the educational system to return to a sane pricing
structure, rather than demanding that our students mortgage their own future
to support professorial frauds like Ward Chuchill
Rather than taxing only the rich to support programs for the poor in an
unsupportable cycle, taxes will be low, fair, and applied to everyone
equally; prices for education will be low, student choice will force
schools to compete for students (resulting in better quality education
for everyone), and the American Dream will remain an opportunity available
to anyone willing to work hard for a fair wage.
UPDATE: This posting was included in the Carnival of the Capitalists