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Works and Days

Reflections On An Ailing Society

November 24th, 2010 - 8:47 am

Airport Security

I flew ten or so times in November and was patted down frequently and full-body scanned. I was not bothered personally by the mostly inane procedure, but outraged by the symbolism of it all. (The sheer number of TSA employees standing idly about the scanners and pat-down area was far more disturbing).

Let me elaborate. The federal government the last few years has all but apologized for Guantanamo, fretted that a false rumor of a flushed Koran offended Muslims worldwide, torn the country apart over the stupid move to build — in St. Stephen/al-Aqsa/Hagia Sophia style — a mosque at Ground Zero, chest-thumped about trying KSM in federal court with all the accompanying legal gymnastics, worried (via the voice of Gen. Casey) that diversity programs might be imperiled after Maj. Hasan murdered fellow soldiers, was careful to Mirandize the wannabe mass murder Mutallab (and to insist at first that he “allegedly” tried to blow up his fellow passengers) — and on and on.

In other words, one gets the message already: our own government cares a lot more about not offending 20-40 year-old foreign born Muslim males, both citizens and not, who in theory fit the profile of global terrorists between 2001-2010 than it does about bothering an 80-year-old American citizen in a wheel chair — all by refusing to ask pertinent, logical questions of would-be flyers. (e.g., “So you’ve been to Yemen the last two years; explain the purpose of your trip”; “Explain when and why you got this green card at the Pakistani consulate.”)

Reader, remember: all this is merely symptomatic of the indulgence and luxury of peace. Had Mr. Mutallab succeeded or the Time Square would-be bombers incinerated 1,000 shoppers, then all this nonsense would vanish for a year or two. Suffer another 9/11, and John Kerry and Harry Reid will be railing about the need to expand Guantanamo — albeit screaming, “Bush did it!”

A Funny Sort of Morality

Most who come illegally from Mexico are desperate to leave a failed state — though reticent to explain why they think Mexico is failing. They want work and often work here terribly hard. But that plight does not mean that there are not moral problems in coming here illegally. The guest can break the immigration law of the host on grounds he is poor, but the U.S. poor then cannot pick and choose whether to file a 1040 or not? Federal laws sorta, kinda matter sometimes? Cut in front of the immigration line, in a way that others from India or Korea do not? Is the Chiapan who files for legal status and goes through the labyrinth of obtaining citizenship a fool? In the aggregate, the illegal community can send tens of billions of dollars in remittances back to Latin America, while tapping into entitlement support from their hosts, but cannot afford catastrophic health insurance? (Could we not bar anyone on public assistance from sending money out of the country without substantial taxes?)

We have created a situation that simply could never be emulated without social chaos (e.g., on what grounds do we say that a million Greeks or five million Sudanese could not in theory come en masse to the United States — that it would be wrong, illegal, impractical?). Would the Latino community accept a million from Mozambique arriving in the American Southwest every year — without diplomas, without English, and without legality? We know illegal immigration is supposed to be unlawful, expensive, and contradictory — but is it not also abjectly one of the most unethical and amoral phenomena of our times?

The Cuts to Come

I liked the recommendations of the deficit commission, except the despair that the budget won’t be balanced for decades, long after I’m dead. I cannot accept that. We forget that balancing a budget is not just a matter of fiscal health, but one of psychology as well. Collectively the nation will regain its self-respect only when it sheds the self-image of a debtor, spendthrift, softie, taker, or splurger. Our problem, even in recession, is not austerity, but surfeit. I would quadruple the proposed cuts until video games sales crash, a family shares an iPhone, and the huge plastic Christmas Santa Clauses at Wal-Mart go unsold. Today I was driving in Fresno in a so-so area, the radio was blaring about RECESSION!, and at the stop light were four new cars — two Lexuses, a Volvo, and a top-of-the-line Camry.

The public is starting to sense that the progressive dream for us is an abject nightmare, castor oil far worse than the illness. And there is no reason to believe that the losses of 2010 are over with yet — if Pelosi, Reid, and Obama stay in denial and think they only need to communicate more effectively their EU-plans of redistributive change.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

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