Corruption is often blamed on the corruptible. But corruptible people will always exist (see: entire history of civilization) if the incentives for corruption are sufficient. Here is another example, from a vote-buying scandal in south Texas:
In the deeply Democratic Rio Grande Valley, the primary is the election that matters. And in local races like county commissioner and district attorney a sliver of votes can make a difference between winning and losing the election. Many times, paid campaign workers called “politiqueras” deliver the votes that put a candidate over the top.
Politiqueras—who are paid to turn out voters, especially in low-income neighborhoods and colonias—have been part of elections in the Rio Grande Valley for decades. But the recent suicide of a school board president in the small town of Donna and the indictment of three politiqueras for allegedly buying votes in a Donna school board election with beer, drugs and cash has rattled the Valley’s political world.
Politiqueras are typically older women with deep ties in the community. They meet with seniors at nursing homes and adult daycare centers and residents in colonias to advocate for their candidates. They come bearing barbecue plates or Mexican pastries and offer voters a ride to the polls, none of which is illegal. But over the decades intense competition in an impoverished region for a limited number of jobs and the power to decide who gets a government contract or a lucrative-paying job has pushed some candidates to cross the legal line and offer cash for votes. “The competition for access to [government] contracts has become intense,” says former Edinburg state Rep. Aaron Peña. “Politiqueras have been pushed further and further to perform in a system that has been corrupted.”
My Forbes column this week is up, and it is a sort of open letter to Conservatives, trying to demonstrate that their stance against immigration is inconsistent with many of their other principles. A quick exceprt:
Just to be clear, it is perfectly reasonable that the government might set restrictive or difficult eligibility requirements for participation in government activities we normally associate with citizenship, such as voting, holding office and receiving welfare benefits. But selling one's labor or participation in commerce are natural rights to which happenstance of birth location should be irrelevant. It should mean no more to these rights that someone is born today north or south of the Rio Grande river than it meant to our founding fathers that someone was born with or without a hereditary title.
I was happy to see the Wall Street Journal come forward with an editorial favoring open immigration (this one is in their non-subscription area). I am even happier to see that they lead with the issue of fundamental human rights, not with the weak argument of who is to pick the lettuce.
own view is that a philosophy of "free markets and free people"
includes flexible labor markets. At a fundamental level, this is a
matter of freedom and human dignity. These migrants are freely
contracting for their labor, which is a basic human right. Far from
selling their labor "cheap," they are traveling to the U.S. to sell it
more dearly and improve their lives. Like millions of Americans before
them, they and certainly their children climb the economic ladder as
their skills and education increase.
realize that critics are not inventing the manifold problems that can
arise from illegal immigration: Trespassing, violent crime, overcrowded
hospital emergency rooms, document counterfeiting, human smuggling,
corpses in the Arizona desert, and a sense that the government has lost
control of the border. But all of these result, ultimately, from too
many immigrants chasing too few U.S. visas.
migrating here to make a better life for themselves and their families
would much prefer to come legally. Give them more legal ways to enter
the country, and we are likely to reduce illegal immigration far more
effectively than any physical barrier along the Rio Grande ever could.
This is not about rewarding bad behavior. It's about bringing
immigration policy in line with economic and human reality. And the
reality is that the U.S. has a growing demand for workers, while Mexico
has both a large supply of such workers and too few jobs at home.
The WSJ argues that polls show that most conservatives are similar-minded. I'm am not a conservative and don't speak for them, but from the flavor of my email on my pro-immigration posts and from reading various conservative blogs, I have trouble believing it.
I have a number of posts on immigration, but you should start with this one.