Tuesday, February 14, 2006

More Sodomy, And Budget Stuff

The latest victims of sodomy? A second grader, seven Tibetan monks, and a professor of Joyce. Talk about security threats. Can't be too vigilant against the marauding second-grader army.

This is just part of a growing nativist current in this country. Nativism has been around in America since Wampanoag Indians complained about the "damned Pilgrims taking our jobs and stealing our livelihood." (Incidentally, this remains the only time that nativist fears have ever been borne out.) Honestly, it's been at an all-time low since the '60s - which is where I like it. But it's growing again thanks to terrorism and economic fears, and people like the Minutemen and these low-level immigration clerks are caught up in it.

Tom Tancredo, the most infamous of the sodomites, would be proud. Hat tip to Leah for the story.

(To alleviate any confusion, "sodomy" is Jeff-ese for nativism or anti-immigrant sentiment. Read this for more clarification.)

But it's easy for someone like me to complain about anti-immigrant sentiment. I'm not the one being pushed out of the workplace by people quite happy to work long hours for a pittance. And I don't exactly live in the most terror-prone part of the country. However, it seems to me that the answer to these fears is not to shut out the rest of the world, but to welcome them and ensure that they play by the same rules that we do. Businesses hire illegal immigrants because they're easily exploitable; making illegal immigrants legal means that native-born Americans and immigrants can compete fairly. (Psychotic - in a good way - Internet personality Maddox wrote a column on this as well.)

Either way, an economy that creates jobs (not just a growing economy, GDP nerds), and a society that prepares people for the jobs it creates, would help everyone. Alas, Bush's budget doesn't quite grasp this. Expanding defense is understandable given the current geopolitical climate (there's probably still a good amount of waste there, but I don't know how much). Yet he proposes funding cuts for at least two crucial sectors - Medicaid and education.

Medicaid helps poor people get health care. Health care is the major factor troubling employers and keeping them from creating jobs. More uninsured poor people means more people who can't pay for preventive health care when they need it, and can't pay for catastrophic health care when they get it. Which means higher prices for everyone else. Which means higher insurance premiums for individuals and employers alike. Which means fewer jobs. If the government invests more directly in health care, it frees up money for employers to, say, pay employees.

Ford and GM have had well-publicized problems with their retirees' health care costs. That seems like an argument for a larger government role in health care if I ever heard one - if the government were doing its part in helping people get health care, the companies would not have had to step in and break their own banks in doing so.

(Let me add this: the market won't work in health care without a lot of tweaking. There's no basis for competition. If you're sick, you're not going to research which hospital you should go to in order to get the best care at the lowest price. You're just going to go. As a result, I have a healthy distrust for any "market-based" health care solutions.)

(Update 2/14: Harold Meyerson's latest column makes the same basic point, among others.)

Education prepares people for jobs in the knowledge-based economy we're migrating towards. Cutting funding for this makes no sense whatsoever. I really have to wonder whose genius idea it was to pay for the tax cuts by cutting education programs. Especially since the tax cuts don't appear to be doing anything, economy-wise.

1 comment:

Mike said...

I have to do a double take every time you refer to sodomy to remember that it's you referring to sodomy. Then the first paragraph is suddenly much less disturbing, though still troublesome.

I've been saying for a long time that our visa system should be refined. I met several grad students at Rice from foreign countries who couldn't go home and visit their families because they wouldn't be able to get back into the country to finish their work. What up with that? It's no wonder they're afraid - one grad student at Rice went to China to get married, and then couldn't get back. It's insane.

You'll be interested to read (if you haven't already) Tim's immigrants article in tomorrow's Slant.

As for Bush's budget, what is there to say? Bush doesn't care about education? Bush doesn't care about poor people? Surely you jest. (Okay, in fairness, I don't think it's that he doesn't care, I just don't think he quite gets it.)