For a while now I have meant to write a post on immigration and terrorism, specifically to refute the argument made by anti-immigration folks that cracking down on immigration is an important part of the war on terror. Now, I tend to agree that we are too slow in kicking out visitors who commit crimes. I've always thought in fact that if Mexico found itself send millions of productive workers to the US only to get back a stream of the small percentage who were thugs and criminals they might finally address the root causes of why their own country can't offer productive people any opportunity.
But the guard-the-border folks go further than this, arguing we must stop all immigration with troops and "minutemen" at the border as part of the effort to defend ourselves from terrorism. I've always thought that this was a fabricated argument, since its so easy to prove that fear of terrorism is not their real motive for troops at the border (if it were, then why are all the troops going to the Mexican border - shouldn't the long stretches of empty land on the Canadian border be just as vulnerable to terrorists? In fact, it is Canada and not Mexico where Islamic terrorist cells have been found in the last month).
Open and legal immigration would make finding illegal entry of terrorists much easier. Right now, by pushing Mexican immigrants out into desert, rather than marked border crossings, one gives terrorists a very large haystack to hide in. Terrorists with violent intent must somehow be sorted out from millions of perfectly peaceful immigrants looking for work. Arizona Watch quotes James Valliant:
If every person who wanted into America in order to find work was legally
permitted into America, I'll bet they'd be happy to stop by the front gate, show
some i.d., get checked against a terrorist watch-list, etc. Only those with
criminal records, or reasons to flee justice, those with contagious diseases,
and, well"¦ terrorists would have any reason to "jump the gate" at all.
This would concentrate our resources on those who actually posed a threat to
the country. Thousands of border patrol agents would, then, not be going after
thousands "“ ultimately, accumulated millions "“ of people everyday, but just a
few hundred "“ ultimately, a few thousands. I, personally, prefer those odds when
it comes to catching terrorists and mass-murders.
I missed it when it first came out, but Jack Benway over at Arizona Watch has a nice post in defense of free immigration. His point, as was mine here, is that the problem is the welfare state, not immigration.
A prohibition on immigration from any source country violates the basic
principles upon which the US was founded "“ that life, liberty and property are
the inalienable rights of all people unless they sacrifice them by the forceful
denial of another person's pursuit of these same rights. These rights don't stop
at the US border. This does not mean that immigrants should not be screened and
naturalized and subject to the laws of the US. It does mean that the
artificially low quotas that place the current illegals in the position of
criminals by virtue of their presence here are morally wrong. These laws must be
And chaos will ensue. What about all the services these illegals use at the
expense of taxpayers? We can't afford this. That's correct, we can't, so stop
offering these entitlements and services "“ to everyone.
Finding this post helps me roughly double my estimate of open immigration supporters here in Arizona (from 1 to 2).
Update: This issue is really a heated on in Arizona. It has even divided the writers at Arizona Watch, with Bridgett disagreeing significantly from Jack.
Arizona Watch makes a great observation about water use here in the desert. All-too-often, the anti-growth folks use the water issue to try to make us feel like Phoenix is heading toward some parched apocalypse. Arizona Watch makes the following point:
Scott Patterson's "Swimming in the desert," is dangerously miss-informed. To
advance his anti-growth agenda, he predicts future water shortages in Arizona
due to urban population growth. Urban growth is not to blame.
Nearly 70% of Arizona's water is used for agricultural purposes. What's more,
the cost of water for agricultural use is significantly lower than for
industrial or household use. The problem is not that people live in this desert,
it's that people inefficiently grow crops in this desert, and the inefficiency
is encouraged by price controls on water. If water costs for agriculture were
not subsidized, then market pricing would ensure a plentiful supply of water for
generations to come.
Read the whole thing for the cites to the actual statistics. I cannot understand why water can't be sold at a market rate. If you subsidize water prices, and more people then come to the desert than the water supplies can support, is it the fault of the individuals who show up, or is it the fault of the government that can't seem to allow markets to operate when it comes to water? This is yet another example of the government creating a problem with regulation, blaming the adverse results on the free market, and using the ensuing mess to justify more regulation.
Farmers in particular are getting paid by you and me, in the form of subsidized water, to try to grow wet-country crops out here in the desert. This water subsidy is on top of the huge farm subsidies Arizona farmers get, including over $100 million a year in cotton subsidies alone. The government is paying farmers to dump tons of water on cotton plants in the desert that grow perfectly well without irrigation in many other states.
Postscript: Farmers really have done an amazing job lobbying for themselves in this country. They are particularly succesful here in Arizona, where the largest farms are owned by Indian tribes, that have the added lobbying strength of protected-group status. The other night I was serving out my painful 7 hours or so in drivers ed. class when it was mentioned that us urban dwellers will get a huge fine for not having our 4 year old strapped down in a car seat, but rural pickup truck drivers in Arizona can legally have a 6-month-old rolling around in the back of a bouncing pickup truck without any restraint and be perfectly legal. Why the difference? Because the farmers wanted it that way.
Arizona Watch has a great post today about our state government's foray into amusement park regulation after several folks were stuck on a local ride for a couple of hours.
There are no major amusement parks in Arizona, although two large
ventures are apparently planned. Currently, inspections are handled by
insurance companies, who have a serious financial stake in maintaining
the safety of the rides. Insurers can't afford to have unsafe rides at
their client's amusement park. Compare that to the state, that has
exactly what at stake?
As an aside, Phoenix is an awful place for a roller-coaster and amusement park fan like myself to live. Basically, we have no real amusement parks (though there are some great ones about a 6-hour drive away in LA). I have sat and pondered this a lot - why does a city this large with such a strong tourist economy not have a Six Flags type attraction?
The answer I guess is that our season is wrong. Our season is November-April, when the weather is nice. Unfortunately, the kiddies are in school then. During summer vacation months, Phoenix is a bit, uh, toasty (but its dry heat, as we tell our Thanksgiving turkey each year). This answer is not totally satisfying, as uncomfortable summer cities like San Antonio and Houston have major theme parks. Also, Phoenix has no real world class water parks (just a couple of places with 2 slides and a pool). Maybe its because all the developpers here have golf courses on the brain.
Where do Phoenix people go for fun in the summer? Well, if you are ever in San Diego or LA during the summer, check the license plates. Then you will know where we are.
Perhaps, as reported here at Arizona Watch. Symington would certainly make politics more interesting around here for a while.
I worry that global warming advocacy has crossed the line from science to religion, such that data counter to the basic mantra is considered heresy rather than scientific discourse.
In my review of Michael Crichton's new book, I said I was sympathetic to his global warming skepticism but that I thought his characters and plot were over the top and he was too heavy handed with the polemic, which hurts any action novel. Maybe I was wrong:
We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.
- National Center for Atmospheric Research (NOAA) researcher and global warming action promoter, Steven Schneider
More here from Arizona Watch. I do disagree a bit with using the Nature Conservancy as a proxy for all environmental groups. Though they advocate things I don't agree with, the vast majority of their funds go to actual preservation rather than political advocacy (unlike Sierra Club or others). They are actually one of the better examples of trying to use private voluntary action rather than the government to reach some environmental goals.
I have written more on Kyoto here. A good recent article in TCS by George Taylor talking about the panic around arctic temperatures is here.
I have written several times as to why the libertarian party, while philosophically sound, falls far short as a political force. Arizona Watch has a nice article and several links with suggestions to make the party a more viable political force. You can find some of my problems with the party here.