Friday, May 14, 2010

Arizona, States’ Rights and Immigration

I had an interesting conversation the other day about the recent immigration law passed in Arizona. I was asked what I thought about the situation. I had to admit that this issue was a tough one to form an opinion about. I have my opinion on immigration in general, but I don’t live in Arizona and it’s difficult to judge actions that have been taken in such a far off place. I have not experienced personally the specific situation occurring down there and do not feel qualified to pass judgment on a law that so many seem favor. Still, I do have an opinion on the issue of immigration in general and believe that there are many considerations that have been ignored in the process and panic that appears to be happening.

To put it simply, I believe that free people ought to be able to cross free borders of free lands freely. The fact that this is not happening shows that we are not free people. In all the hubbub it is forgotten that in order to enforce laws that restrict the movement of people, a police state must be set up. In order to determine the legal status of people on the streets, the police are going to have to be given the power to ask the famous phrase that was likely so often heard in Hitler’s Germany, “Papers please.” They will have to be given the power to hassle and manhandle anyone they want simply because of how you look, or maybe even just because a cop might not personally like you. No more showing respect for your rights, not even begrudgingly. Throw the fourth and fifth amendments out the window and prepare to be thrown in jail if you even think about questioning what the authorities are doing.

I also believe in states rights, however. I think it’s quite healthy to have smaller governments challenge the power of the central authority. It is seldom remembered that this nation was set up and meant to be a voluntary association of sovereign states populated by sovereign individuals. It was never meant to be a centralized empire held together by coercion and threat of force. This is evidenced in the wording of the ninth and tenth amendments to the Constitution. Lincoln’s war changed the face of what our nation was meant to be and created a centralized, tyrannical, authoritative monopoly of force that would make the option of secession a very frightening prospect for decades to come. That attitude seems to be changing in modern America, however, as the federal government continuously proves itself inept, refuses to listen to the concerns of its citizens, and finds itself on the verge of collapse under the weight of its own bureaucracies. Secession is no longer a dirty word, nor is it a scary concept, as the overbearing central government squeezes ever more tightly and the states and the populace demand solutions to perceived problems that a far off government in Washington, DC cannot provide.

Who am I to judge the Arizona law, living so far from that population? Down there they are concerned about the cost. They are concerned because they feel squeezed. I believe there are other, more humane ways to solve these economic problems, such as reconsidering the welfare system, but if the people feel this is what they must do, then so be it. I say keep the federal government out of it. Let the people of Arizona pay for the costs of maintaining the police presence that will be necessary to enforce that law. If it is found to be unconstitutional, keep federal dollars out of the state. Let them secede if necessary. Let them experiment and we will soon see whether it is more economically sound to allow travel or restrict it. It would be interesting to see how high the taxes would rise. It would be interesting to see how many would move to states around Arizona that would remain freer. It would be an interesting competition, but I think we know how it would turn out if we use the historical concept of America as an example and remember how many came here for the promise of more freedom and opportunity.

I’ve also heard concern about criminal activity. Here again, I feel there are better solutions than getting rid of all the honest, hard working people that come up from the south along with any trouble makers that may accompany them. Crime is committed usually by individuals and those individuals should be held accountable for their misdeeds. Punishing an entire group of people for the actions of a few is never fair or just. Anybody, regardless of their nationality or legal status, who harms another should be arrested and tried for their crimes. No one should be given preferential treatment.

There are other problems cited by those who would wield the power of the state against those who wish to come here to make a better life for themselves. There are health concerns, job security concerns, educational concerns, etc. I don’t know if the problem of illegal immigration has become more pronounced lately or not, but I remember people complaining about them even back when I was a kid. Perhaps the recent escalation in the violence south of the border due to the drug war has something to do with the greater influx of undocumented people. Perhaps America is experiencing a type of refugee crisis. Again, it’s hard for me to say since I don’t live down there. But even that has a better solution than passing such a far reaching law, in my opinion, and that is to end the drug war. Prohibitions have proven to be ineffective time and again and that goes for a prohibition on people too.

It seems to me that perhaps there is more to this immigration problem than meets the eye. Perhaps there’s more here than the simple question of the freedom to travel. There seems to be a more nefarious situation being set up here. As the entire world moves toward the brink of financial disaster, the nations of the world seem to be adopting more authoritarian policies. Economics have always been the driving factor behind wars and social upheaval. This is as true today as it was thousands of years ago.

Unfortunately, there are those who would use the natural human proclivity for focusing on differences rather than similarities to their advantage. There are those who would use mankind’s nature to try to cover their own crimes and ineptitudes. There are those who would use the natural prejudice of a few extremists, and perhaps even secretly endorse and promote it, to draw attention away from the fraud they engage in.

The common folk of Mexico and Latin America have been victimized by the world’s central banking cartel and the huge corporations who have monopolized government power. We all have. The moneyed power elite have manipulated political processes and laws to stymie their competition and monopolize markets for a long time now. The common folk worldwide have more in common with each other than they do with these moneyed elite. We should be joining together to expose the fraud these people engage in and demand more opportunity through competition and the establishment of a fairer, more honest financial system. Instead, the powers that be use divisive issues such as illegal immigration and race baiting in an effort to divert attention away from the real causes of our financial woes and cause us to blame each other.

We are experiencing such problems as unemployment and a stress on our public institutions not because of illegal immigration, but because of our fiat money system and government regulations that protect big corporate entities while creating barriers that private entrepreneurs find difficult to overcome. Competition and innovation are stifled. Government sanctioned monopolies dominate and fill the marketplace with unresponsive bureaucracies. Higher taxes and inflation work their way into the system as more money is demanded for less production. We can only spiral downward from there as the money flows to those on top and the middle classes are squeezed out of existence.

The big central banks have caused these problems. Big, corrupt, centralized government has helped by favoring their wealthy contributors. Yet we seem to want to blame ordinary people who are just trying to get by. The big, inept institutions have failed us and still we turn to them for answers and advocate for solutions that only give them more power and control. The focus should be on creating smaller, more responsive government. The focus should be on implementing a plethora of solutions we can choose from and shunning those large institutions that have proven to be failures. We should be joining with our ordinary brethren in an effort to create the opportunities we all long for rather than fighting amongst ourselves for the few crumbs the moneyed power elite decide to throw us.

Idealistic? Perhaps. But ideas are the driving force behind progress. They can build a better tomorrow or they can destroy all mankind has accomplished. Perhaps the time has come to try to implement the ideas of peace, freedom and equal opportunity for all rather than the ideas of growing and centralizing government institutions and consolidating power at the top through force of law.

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