Monday, May 3, 2010

The Link Between Illegal Immigration and the Welfare State

Objectivist Gus Van Horn, a Boston neuroscientist, has published an interesting immigration piece at Pajamas Media entitled, Treat the Cause, Not the Symptom: Welfare State Is Draw for Illegals The article is in response to a controversial new Arizona law.

His argument is pretty straightforward so I won't comment on it except to state that I agree with his essential point.

I would, however, like to focus on an issue that I will be dealing with shortly. Mr. Van Horn writes:

"Take education. In Texas, where I lived for twenty years, schoolchildren commonly cross the border from Mexico to attend public schools. Many Americans there are justifiably upset about being taxed to educate non-citizens. I sympathize, but see this as a symptom of an even larger problem: I have no children at all, and yet I have been taxed to finance the educations of other people’s children for decades. I still am, even though I now live far from the Mexican border.

"What difference does fencing out “freeloaders” make to me if my own countrymen scoff at the very idea of paying to educate their own children..."

Correspondent Fantom writes in response that if Gus Van Horn is true to his "screed", he would forgo his own welfare state benefits.

There is a crucially important issue here that those of us consistent Rightists must grasp. Do opponents of socialism need to refuse any and all government benefits in order to stay true to their beliefs? Here is how I addressed that question.

My commentary:

The author’s point is well taken. The failure to logically consider cause and effect in this country is a key reason that our problems keep getting compounded by piling legislation on top of legislation while treating only the symptoms.

I’d like to further address Fantom’s point about education, Social Security, and Medicare, with an analogy. He writes early on:

“I am somewhat amused by the Authors use of paying for others children to attend school when he has none himself and calling it welfare. I find it ironic that it is someone else’s kids who will be paying his SS and Mediscam. No doubt Gus will turn down those bennie’s as he will not want to be a hypocrite be accepting welfare after penning this screed.” (April 30, 2010 – 5:13 am)

Suppose I am assaulted on the street by a thug, and subsequently turned over my wallet at gunpoint. Should I then be barred from testifying against the thug in court? Wouldn’t someone like Fantom consider my testimony then to be hypocritical? If not, why not? After all, did I not participate in the crime? But the thug had a gun, right? Well, so does the government and, in effect, does anyone who supports those programs. If I scheme to evade those taxes, I get arrested, fined, and jailed. That government programs are camouflaged behind the legal curtain of law does not change their essential nature.

My wife and I have paid in $414,396 in combined SS @ Medicare taxes, including the employer’s “share” (which is actually paid by the employee), as of December 2008. This is according to our official government statements. Add in a reasonable rate of return over the past four-plus decades and you’re probably looking at a potential nest egg of close to a million bucks. That’s what the government is holding of our money. Yet, Fantom argues that we must either forgo any “bennie” return on our own money or shut our traps!

Participating in a government program I am forced to pay for while simultaneously arguing for repeal is neither wrong nor hypocritical. Declaring that by collecting promised benefits from a program I disagree with morally negates my free speech rights is no different from denying my right to testify against a street thug who robs me at gunpoint.

Fantom has exposed a little-appreciated, hidden danger of welfare state dependency – the covert power to silence the opposition and render the First Amendment irrelevant.

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