Thursday, July 31, 2008

A solution to the immigration problem? OK, probably not.

I'm not one of those libertarian types who thinks government is always stupid and inefficient, but this story may make me reconsider. The "solution" is, courtesy of my local paper, the North County Times:

REGION: Illegal immigrants asked to leave voluntarily

By EDWARD SIFUENTES - Staff Writer

Immigration officials in San Diego say they will start a pilot program Tuesday asking people who are in the country illegally to leave voluntarily, a plan that advocacy groups on both sides of the issue said probably will not work.

The program was designed to give illegal immigrants who have been ordered to leave by an immigration judge an opportunity to work with officials to ease their deportation, said Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Diego.

San Diego is one of five enforcement offices around the country that will be taking part in the trial program, which is scheduled run through Aug. 22. The other offices are in Santa Ana; Phoenix; Chicago and Charlotte, N.C.

The program will give people up to 90 days to make arrangements to leave the country, Mack said. It also will help people avoid the expense of being arrested and deported by immigration agents, which some immigrant rights groups say can be traumatic for families.

(I'm not commenting; I feel that would be superfluous.)

For the whole story see here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

May we leave now?

According to this very good online magazine Michael Yon ,the war in Iraq has been won. Mr. Yon puts it well:

I would go so far as to say that barring any major and unexpected developments (like an Israeli air strike on Iran and the retaliations that would follow), a fair-minded person could say with reasonable certainty that the war has ended. A new and better nation is growing legs. What's left is messy politics that likely will be punctuated by low-level violence and the occasional spectacular attack. Yet, the will of the Iraqi people has changed, and the Iraqi military has dramatically improved, so those spectacular attacks are diminishing along with the regular violence. Now it's time to rebuild the country, and create a pluralistic, stable and peaceful Iraq. That will be long, hard work. But by my estimation, the Iraq War is over. We won. Which means the Iraqi people won.

I agree with Mr.Yon. Great news! As George Aiken, a former Republican senator, once said about Vietnam: Let's declare victory and get out. I'm not supporting Barack Obama for President, but I agree (mainly) with his position on Iraq. He favors (at least until his next flip-flop) a withdrawal lasting about 16 months with a residual force that will be left behind. He is somewhat vague about how big the force would be-I have heard it could be as much as 85,000, which seems awfully high. Whatever his plan's weakness, it is far superior to his opponent's. McCain seems to favor an endless occupation. It is not in our national interest to keep 100,000+ troops in Iraq for many years. There are too many other dangerous areas in the world.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

States taking over on mortgage debt crisis

The federal government's utter failure to aid homeowners hit hard by the mortgage crisis has not escaped the notice of the state governments. Many of them, according to an interesting article in USA Today, have been taking measures into their own hands. All told, about 20 states have launched foreclosure intervention or prevention initiatives.

"There's a lot of frustration with Congress," says Chris Kukla of the Center for Responsible Lending. "States are looking at every avenue they can. When they go home to voters this fall, they'll be asked, 'Why didn't you do more?' "

These measures may not be enough, but it's something. Too bad our elected representatives and the President can't do anything at all.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

McCain gaffe not a gaffe

John McCain has made a lot of foolish statements recently. I found his joking about Iranian civilian deaths to be offensive and not at all funny. But one statement he made is defensible; he said: "Americans have got to understand that we are paying present-day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers in America today. And that's a disgrace. It's an absolute disgrace, and it's got to be fixed."

Perhaps "disgrace" is a strong word, but why is it taboo to criticize the way Social Security is funded? Allow me to quote a friendly biographer of Franklin Roosevelt, William Leuchtenburg: "It was an astonishingly inept and conservative piece of legislation. In no other welfare system in the world did the state shirk all responsibility for old-age indigency and insist that funds be taken out of the current earnings of workers." (Source is Walter Karp's great book Indispensable Enemies), p.130. I believe Jimmy Carter in the 1970s proposed funding Social Security through general revenues, an idea which makes a lot of sense. Why can't the subject be discussed? Is the present system sacred?