Truths We Dare Not Speak

There are a number of things we simply no longer talk about. The silence is partly due to intellectual laziness. Or maybe it is because of political correctness—or even attributable to ignorance and the absence of curiosity.

In no particular order, I list five propositions that simply have become taboo.

1). Illegal Immigration and California

There are dozens of recent exposés on the California mess. The “I accuse” themes—all quite accurate—are well known.

(a) The state propositions have hamstrung the legislature, and resulted in almost no free choices anymore in budgetary decision.

(b) The legislature—due to partisan gerrymandering, the unnecessarily large number of legislators in an unnecessary bicameral system, and term-limits—is inexperienced, captive to special interests, and increasingly incompetent.

(c) State employees have taken over the state: they are paid far above the national average, not accountable, and almost impossible to fire when found to be incompetent. The state pension system is unsustainable. Pay cuts, lay-offs, or furloughs loom.

(d) The nation’s highest income, sales, and gas taxes have driven out the most productive residents—to the tune of 3,500 a week—to no-tax or little-tax neighboring states.

OK— agreed, and I have written all that myself in various articles. But there is another problem never raised in polite company.

California, by most estimates, has somewhere between 40-50% of the nation’s illegal immigrants. That may mean 5-7 million residents here illegally, most without English, documentation, or high-school diplomas. This makes the practice of assimilation into the middle-class a multigenerational process over decades, rather than in the past, when immigrants came in fewer numbers and more often legally.

The state ranks 47-48th in most studies of the achievement levels of the nation’s schools, mostly due to millions of entering students who do not speak English well, if at all.

Of the some $50 billion in remittances that leave the U.S. each year to Latin America, perhaps $20 billion come from California residents, draining the state of capital, and ensuring that the donors will be in need of state health, education, housing and food supplements. California’s taxpayers, in essence, subsidize Oaxaca and Jalisco—that may be humanitarian, and worthy of praise, but it is costly nonetheless, and perhaps beyond the financial resources of the majority of the population.

I’ll pass on increased per capita rates of crime, gangs, etc. that are considered too illiberal to mention. But if studies are correct that anyone who comes north, without English, legality, and education, over his life-cycle will have to draw somewhere between $50,000 and $70,000 more in entitlements than he contributes in various taxes, and if we were to prorate that on an annual basis, and if we were to multiply that by several million, then one can envision an annual outlay of several billion in state expenditures.

Instead, illegal immigration is never much cited as a contributor to California’s fiscal implosion. To mention all this is considered racist. Yet, to take one instance, the cost of incarcerating the state’s illegal aliens alone exceeds the budget of the new UC Merced, a campus intended to serve mostly minority communities of the central valley.

The solution? Allow only legal immigration. Base admittance to the U.S. mostly on skills and our own need for expertise and capital. Trust in merit, and ignore the race and origin of the would-be immigrant.

2) Iraq

We are tired of Iraq and have Trotskyized it out of our existence, given the huge cost and 4,000 dead.

But consider: not a single America died in Iraq in December (38 murdered in Chicago during that period); three have been lost this month (24 murdered so far this month in Chicago).

Some random thoughts. The surge was a brilliant success.

The heroes are relatively ignored. They are U.S. forces who served in Iraq, of course; Gens. Odierno and Petraeus (recall what he endured from Hillary Clinton and in his Senate inquisition); civilian analysts like Fred Kagan and retired Gen. Keane; and, of course, a demonized George Bush—attacked by most of his former supporters, the majority of pundits and columnists, those Democrats who had voted to authorize the war, many of the Iraq Study Group members; and by a cadre of retired “revolt of the generals” officers.

Yet for some reason, very few senators (cf. the You Tube videos of the debates of October 11-12, 2002) who gave impassioned pleas, authorizing 23 writs to go to war, have ever quite explained why they flipped—and what they think now of both their original support, and their subsequent opposition.

A Harry Reid (“the war is lost”) or Barack Obama (out of Iraq by March 2008 and the surge “is not working”) have never subsequently suggested that they were wrong at a time when our troops desperately were trying against all odds to save the fragile country.

Nor has anyone questioned the conventional dogma that Iraq empowered Iran, supposedly by removing the demonic Saddam. (Yet consider the liberal logic: we were wrong to remove a monster because he was a useful balance-of-power monster [ignore the genocide of the Kurds, Marsh Arabs, etc];  yet we deplore prior administrations for giving the same monster some aid in his war against Iran.)

In fact, mass demonstrations and unrest now take place in an isolated Iran, not so much in a democratic Iraq. The latter is proving more destabilizing by its open broadcasting and word of mouth freedom to Iran than Iran is to Iraq by its savage use of terrorism. (What will happen to conventional wisdom, if there comes a day when Iran is constitutional, along with Iraq and Lebanon?)

No one has officially said they were wrong in alleging “No Blood for Oil.” But we got no oil from Iraq. The price rose after we invaded. The Chinese, Russians, and Europeans got the contracts in free and fair bidding.

(Contrast Saddam’s rigged pre-war, quid-pro-quo oil concessions to the corrupt French). There was no Halliburton conspiracy to steal resources. The left often now, mirabile dictu, accuses us of being naïve in bleeding to give others the resources that they once accused us of wishing to steal. Barack Obama still talks of Iraq as a mistake, even as he quietly ignores his own prescriptions to have gotten out by early 2008, and to have stopped the surge—and continues to follow the Petraeus/Bush plan.