Friday, February 26, 2010

The Noncensus of it all!

There was yet another brouhaha earlier this week concerning illegal aliens. The Washington Examiner reported on February 21 that certain counties surrounding Washington, DC were pulling out all the stops to make sure that illegal aliens were counted in the census. Fanning out to ethnic church events and other community settings where they would likely reach an audience of illegal aliens, county officials were urging them to stand up and be counted, at the same time assuring them that their information will not be shared with federal immigration officials. So why are county officials doing this?

Failing to count illegal immigrants, local officials say, will reduce federal funding around $1,000 a year for each ignored person. And counties are looking for ways to offset costs that arise from providing health care and school services to thousands of residents who don't contribute taxes.

Some might be surprised at my take on the immigration issue. Though I am politically conservative, this is one area where I part company with the right. As noted in a previous post:

While I can agree with the need to secure our borders, it is in our interest to make it easier for people to legally come to the US and pursue the American dream, as long as we know who they are and that they do not intend us any harm. And though I don’t believe in a blanket amnesty, it would be both practical and compassionate to allow otherwise law abiding illegal immigrants (many of whom have been here for years and raised families) the opportunity to come forward, pay a fine and other applicable fees, and become legal documented workers. In so doing, they would start fully paying their fair share of taxes and no longer be a burden on our schools, hospitals and the public sector in general.

Indeed, I can understand the local counties’ point of view. The illegal immigrants are a drain on the county because they use the roads, schools and hospitals just like everyone else, but they are not part of the tax base. In these hard economic times, the counties need every dime they can get. But the solution to the problem is not to make sure all illegal immigrants are counted in the census in order to capture more funds from the federal trough. Instead, all counties and states—and indeed the federal government—need to make sure that all income earning residents are paying their share of taxes.

But the main point of this post does not concern illegal immigrants. Rather, there is a fundamental flaw in our system of taxation and revenue sharing. Our founding fathers never envisioned—indeed they crafted the Constitution to specifically avoid—a behemoth federal government that did most of the taxing and spending. Rather, the majority of taxation and government influence was to be at the local level, where elected leaders are more easily held accountable. We have since turned the wisdom of our founding fathers on its head to the point where state and local governments are mere appendages of the federal government. This has produced a myriad of ills, too many to recount here. The ridiculousness of local officials wanting to count illegal aliens in the census is merely the latest symptom of the problem.

Where is the line of demarcation between the local, state and federal governments? Why should the counties be depending on the federal trough?


feeno said...


Thanks for commenting on my blog. Your words were of wisdom. Also I think we are a lot alike politically. Although for the sake of my sanity I try to avoid politics as much as possible.

Peace be with you. feeno

JD Curtis said...

I heard they want to know information re: if you have health insurance and if so what kind do you have.

What the hell do they care if I have health insurance or not? Link

Ginx said...

I think making the immigration process easier would solve most of these problems. When Europeans and Asians moved here by boat, we allowed them legal asylum and provided a road to citizenship. We didn't turn people back; we incorporated them into the system. Can you imagine sending a boat full of people who are starving after a harsh journey back the way they came?

For some reason, we have no problem telling those from Latin America they can't come in, perhaps because many don't come by boat (though we seem to heartlessly turn away our fair share of improvised rafts). The legal route to citizenship is long and arduous, with waiting periods stretching several years in many cases. During this time, those seeking political refuge may be killed by murderous dictators, and those from drought and poverty stricken regions starve waiting to come legally.

I really believe immigration could be solved by loosening the restrictions on entry and allowing people to legally reside, work, and as you point out, pay taxes.

Regarding the state/federal problem... we tried letting the states do their own thing, and it resulted in Civil War. Slavery was never going to end at the state level. I think the current federal dominance will need to be corrected, but putting too much power in the hands of each state merely welcomes division.

I like the idea of states being the testing ground for new ideas, but good ideas in one state are often shunned by others, necessitating a central mandate if the nation ever wishes to progress as a whole.

The Maryland Crustacean said...

Thanks for commenting, Ginx.

We are obviously in agreement on the need to make the immigration process easier, but there are legitimate concerns which, because they were not adequately addressed, derailed the last attempt at immigration reform.

For example, sovereignty and border security are legitimate concerns. As I said, I am all for making it easier for people to come here as long as we know who they are and they do not intend us any harm. Furthermore, legal immigration should not necessarily be an automatic path to citizenship with all the rights and privileges thereof. There need to be strong indicators of loyalty to the United States and even a renouncing of previous citizenship. Otherwise, citizenship becomes meaningless, encompassing many rights and privileges (up to and including the right to vote) and little or no duties or obligations. This would be akin to taking in an outsider as a guest in your house and before you know it he is telling you how to run your household and wants equal inheritance rights with your children.

All that being said, I think you and I are in general agreement on the immigration issue.

As for the state’s rights issue, slavery was one major and nearly fatal contradiction in the American experiment. It was initially tolerated as a necessary compromise to win the approval of the southern states in order to get the Constitution ratified. It inevitably resulted in the Civil War, but with the ratification of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, slavery ceased to be a state’s rights issue. Because of these amendments, no state may allow slavery or deny equal protection of the laws or the right to vote, period, because it is unconstitutional.

The Constitution as written must be the guiding principle with regard to the size, scope and influence of the federal government--as opposed to the state governments. I was lamenting the undue growth of the federal government and the increasing dependency and subservience of state and local governments to the federal government, which has gradually come to pass in clear violation of the Constitution. This gradual deterioration accelerated greatly during the Great Depression when Roosevelt started to succeed in bullying the Supreme Court to go along with his agenda. In Wickard v. Filburn, for example, the SCOTUS opened the floodgates with its bizarre interpretation of the interstate commerce clause, thus giving Congress carte blanche to pass any legislation it wants, well beyond the specifically enumerated and limited powers it had been originally given in Article I Section 8. The size, scope and influence of the federal government have continued unabated ever since. I wrote about this in a previous post: