Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Immigration Reform

The Problem:
Illegal aliens continue to pour into our country, and they receive many benefits from the government without paying taxes.

Another Traffic Analogy:
Would you say someone that is going five miles per hour over the speed limit is breaking the law? Probably. But would you call them a criminal? No. Does this relate to illegal immigration? Yes. A law that isn't enforced can hardly be called a law at all. Yes, it's on the book, but people disobey it all over because they know there isn't a consequence. Honestly, what is the worst that happens to an illegal immigrant if they get caught? They are sent back to their homeland with all their money. That isn't even a punishment. In other words, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

A Missed Opportunity:
A few years ago, a bill was almost passed that would have 1) provided illegal aliens a pathway to citizenship following a few years, a $2000 fine, and payment of back taxes, 2) built 300 miles of fence, and 3) added 20,000 border patrol agents. What a great idea.

However, extremists in both parties weren't happy about it: conservatives refused to vote for any law that didn't require every illegal immigrant to go home, and liberals didn't felt the fines were too steep. I don't have much to say about the liberal standpoint, but I do for the conservatives. At the time, the economy was booming, and I believe booting every illegal alien would have had disastrous results (seriously, when unemployment is functionally at 0, what would happen if you threw out a few million worker: no one can find employees), so I supported this bill whole-heartedly. Sadly, because of the unbending politicians, nothing has happened.

My Vision
There is no question about one thing: the border must be secured. After that, I think there is plenty of room for compromise. What follows is my perfect immigration reform, but I'd be happy to talk about it.

I would love to see a flexible guest worker program, where individuals could work here while working towards citizenship. Also, I think this program would be a great way to control unemployment. Every guest worker could have a one-year visa, and, if the economy is doing well, apply to have it renewed each year.

I'd also like to see the pathway to citizenship made less complicated and expensive. I can understand passing a quiz about American History, but do we also have to give them a hands-on course on American Beauracracy?

With the border more secure and citizenship easier to obtain, we need to tighten things up. Businesses need to verify the citizenship of each employee, schools shouldn't have to shy away from inquiring about immigration status, and every person arrested for a crime should have their citizenship verified.

Compassion:
As we talk about reform, let's remember that many of them simply want a better life. When you take everything into account, can you really blame them? If they want to come here legally, it costs hundreds of dollars and takes years. If they do it illegally, they get in for free right away, and they don't have to pay taxes. Essentially, if you are a poor, but hardworking citizen in a corrupt country, you will never be able to apply for citizenship in the U.S.. On the other hand, if they had a work visa, their taxes would easily pay for their naturalization. Instead, we get no money while they work here and receive services that the rest of us pay for.

While they are breaking the law, I'm not going to be the one to condemn them for it. Many of them are simply trying to do what's best for their family.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Primaries

The Situation:
Candidates who aren't always conservative are pretending to be much more so in order to appeal to the far right.

The Problem:
We don't know what to believe.

A Prime Example:
John McCain was an extremely moderate Republican. In my opinion his downfall came with trying to come across as some ultra conservative; it was disingenuous and I believe most Americans don't like ultra conservatism. If he had simply ran as what he was, a moderate who had worked with both sides of the aisle on many occasions and had actually accomplished quite a bit because of it, he would have had a much better chance of winning.

A Current Example:
The same thing is currently in Utah's Republican primary with both candidates. Why, because both think that the extreme right is the only way they can get elected.

Tim Bridgewater has said that he would turn down any earmarks meant for Utah, yet he received a large part of his salary from a company that receives earmarks. Personally, I think it's just good business; if the government is handing out free money, you would be an idiot not to take it. Seriously, how many of us refused the President Bush's stimulus check, or told the IRS to not give us our "Make Work Pay" credit? However, the extremists in the party claim to be so principled that if the federal government wants to pay for our commuter train, they will say no. Personally, I doubt more than 5% in the party are that principled. However, Bridgewater now says he'd rather set the example, so he would turn it down (don't worry, Mike Lee said the same).

Mike Lee has said that he will fight to maintain the state's right to not have to store foreign nuclear waste and yet he's suing the state on behalf of his employer to do just that. Personally, if the people of Utah received a nice cut of the profits for bringing it in, I would support that storage in a heartbeat, and I think that most would. However, states' rights come into play because the company wants to force the state to accept it (and while I don't mind it being brought here, I do mind it being shoved down my throat). So, in order to fall in line with the extreme in his party, Mike Lee says he will fight against it.

I am willing to bet that Bridgewater would rather take earmarks for Utah, and that Lee wouldn't mind having that waste brought in, but because they think the Party is that far to the right or of that opinion, they are saying whatever they can to win. Why can't they just say what they believe so we can choose who would represent us best?

Everywhere Else
I'm willing to bet that most Republican candidates who are trying to win their primary are the same. They have the exact platform of almost everyone else in the country, appealing to the extreme right, but they have done things in their past that go directly against it. Like everyone else, once they are elected their more moderate views, that fall in line with their past, will come out. While I'm glad they are mostly all more moderate than they claim, I wish they had confidence in their own views.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Oil Spill

The Situation
We all know about the oil spill in the gulf. President Obama wants to pass a law that will remove the cap on liability for spills (this doesn't include removal costs, they pay %100 of that). In other words, BP will pay billions to the people who lost their incomes, instead of the current $75 million.

My condolences
I'd like to start off by telling the people in the Gulf Coast that I hope they will make it through this okay.

The Current Law
The current law is The Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which states that "holders of leases or permits for offshore facilities, except deepwater ports [port, not rig], are liable for up to $75 million per spill, plus removal costs". The same Act sets up a trust fund that will pay for $1 billion per spill, and it says that individual states can pass laws that establish a different amount of liability, including unlimited.

So, as far as BP is concerned, they have to pay $75 million plus removal costs while the trust pays $1 billion.

The President's Unconstitutional Wish
President Obama has said that he hopes to lift the cap for the current spill, which is clearly unconstitutional. The Constitution specifically forbids ex post facto laws, which means "after the fact". Congress can't pass a law to take care of something that already happened. Essentially, it would be the same as having a photocop take your picture going 50 mph in a 50 mph zone, having the state change the speed limit changed to 35 mph the following week, and then sending you a ticket for going 15 mph over the speed limit. It is unconstitutional.

Clarification of My Views:
I want to make myself clear. Is it right for there to be a cap on BP's liability? No, they should have to pay for every penny. Do they have to pay for it all and can Congress make them? No. The law is there and the Constitution specifically forbids ex post facto laws. So while the moral thing would be for them to pay, legally, they only have to pay $75 million.

The Solution (Short and Long-Term)
In terms of paying for the spill, I can only think that we as a nation need to be pay for it. I know it's not right, but it's the only legal solution I can think of.

For the future, we should remove all liability. There are many benefits from this here are some:
1) No more spills - Would any company dream of using unsafe techniques or machinery if they knew they could lose billions?
2) Less oversight - If a company is inspecting like crazy to make sure they don't lose billions, why would the government need to pay millions of dollars for a bureaucracy to oversee the industry?
3) It's fair - In pretty much every other case of liability, when you cause damage, you pay for it all. Why not in big oil?

The Blog Explained

The Muted Majority:
The most vocal in politics are the extremists, whether to the left or the right. The majority in the country are moderates and we are underrepresented in the media. In fact, the media and the extremists in our parties are changing the face of politics by polarizing every issue; with many, there is no middle ground and no room for discussion on virtually every topic. Ironically, both sides think of Ronal Reagan as a great leader, or even idolize him, but Reagan was perhaps most well-known for his "big tent" philosophy. Let us be willing to accept diversity and welcome discourse. Let us give a voice to the muted majority.

My Mission:
To talk about the issues in a calm, rational way.

My Views:
I am a moderate conservative (i.e. I listen to and believe in discourse). When it comes to fiscal matters, I'm pretty conservative. In matters of morals, I'm also conservative. However, when it comes to issues like immigration, education, and others, I am more moderate, perhaps even a little liberal.

My Rules:
The theme of this blog is rational thought and kindness. Your comment will be deleted if you: call me or someone else a name, question the intelligence of another, or use any other inappropriate language. If you see me break any of these rules, please call me out and I'll try my best to fix it.