28 May 2006

Immigration: Don't Fence Me In

Urination upon both Democrats and Republicans concerning illegal immigration from Mexico. Neither party has even tried to come up with a workable and humane solution. I stress these two words because, in the case of US-Mexican relations, workable and humane amount to the same thing.

Consider that, if Mexico exports workers to the US, the US exports money to the families of those workers. We have already been told that the remittances from Mexican workers in the US exceeds the revenues of Mexico's state-owned oil industry. This money empowers those families to do things for themselves instead of waiting for handouts from the corrupt Mexican government. Thus, the flow of money from the US helps build a civil society in Mexico.

That's a good thing and we should encourage it with a guest-worker program that is so easy to enroll in and so helpful to enrollees that people will want to join up rather than to come to the US illegally. The catch? The US gets to collect some biometrics and issue cards so we can know who they are and where they are, and make sure that they leave when they say they will. It should also include a path to US citizenship for those who want it, as well as an option to renew for guest-worker status as long as the worker is working.

But we also need to think about other US exports to Mexico, like the $8 billion to $24 billion in drug money that goes each year to the Mexican cartels. Those cartels are extremely corrupting to the Mexican government: if they can't buy Mexican politicians with US drug money, then they can assassinate them with the US guns they buy with their drug money and smuggle south. In other words, we tend to cancel the good export - money to families - with the bad export - guns and money to the drug cartels.

Instead of doing something stupid, inhumane, unfriendly, and ultimately self-destructive like fencing the border to cut off the flow of Mexicans to the US, maybe we should try doing something to cut off the flow of US drug money and guns to Mexico. Maybe we should change US drug policy.

I have a suggestion. Legalize drugs, but provide only minimal health care to US persons who use those drugs, and stiff penalties for causing accidents or committing crimes while using them. The money we would save on Drug Enforcement and prisons would probably be enough to subsidize drug treatment facilities and medications.

If that doesn't work for you, then lower the penalties on drug sellers and increase them on drug users.

Either way would drive down the price of currently illegal drugs, which would tend to force the cartels to go legit to make money. And that would be a very good thing.

In short, rather than try to fence in Mexico, we should try to help Mexico become a better place to live, so more Mexicans will want to stay there. Rather than building good fences, the US and Mexico should try to be good neighbors.

05 May 2006

Sentencing Zack

I'm conflicted over the sentencing of Zacharias Moussaoui. (And if I didn't spell his name right, it is because I refuse to do him the honor of looking it up.) He was the only 9/11 hijacker stupid enough to get caught before he could do his special crime against man and God. The jury sentenced him to life in prison, because he didn't actually do that crime. He merely claimed to have had knowledge of it before it occurred, and that he was supposed to have taken part in it.

In some sense, killing is too good for him. If he had gotten the death sentence, we would have kept him in prison for years while we went through a complex and lengthy automatic appeals process, giving him numerous "days in court" to make a spectacle of himself and us, before finally offing him in the most merciful manner we know how. He deserves the misery of prison terminated only by whatever death God chooses, which might be a good deal less merciful than one of our lethal injections.

On the other hand, we don't need al-Qaeda people in our prisons recruiting other prisoners with shorter sentences and better American acculturation into new al-Qaeda gangs. Since we can't seem to socially isolate prisoners who are gang organizers, even in solitary confinement, maybe it is better just to kill them. You see, I oppose killing anyone who is already in the power of the state. But criminal gang organizers do not submit to the power of the state, even while in prison. They continue to organize, and even to order crimes committed outside prison. The same would be true of al-Qaeda members in our prisons. So, yes, we would be killing them for our shortcomings, our inability to control their anti-social behavior. But then, they could just stop that behavior if they wanted to live.

And yet, Moussaoui is probably not an organizer. He doesn't seem to have the snap to organize anything, not even his own thinking and behavior. In prison, Moussaoui is probably not a serious threat. So the jury let him live, made him live. It boils down to this - he was too stupid to avoid capture, and he is too stupid to kill.

02 May 2006

What a Card!

Just a quickie about Orson Scott Card's novels, Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead. In these novels, Card does many things, and covers many themes. But for tonight, I just want to note that he explores the idea of consciousnesses so alien to ours that communication is rendered extremely difficult. In the first of these novels, misunderstanding leads to war. In the second it leads to multiple murders, which are done by vivisection of the victims.

How appropriate to be reading these as we struggle through World War IV: The Free World vs the Global Salafist Jihad. It has hot spots in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Judea and Samaria (indicating my bias here), Sudan, and a warming one in Iran.

It is clear that we and our Radical Islamist brothers are having a misunderstanding. But part of their schtick is that they cannot afford to try to understand us as we understand ourselves. We, on the other hand, are secure enough in our own identities and religions to try to understand them "from the inside out." Indeed, we must do so if we are ever to win this long war. They cannot risk this kind of love. But we can. Military force and technology are powerful stop gaps. Love in the form of understanding is the winning edge.