Was Julian Castro correct that We Should be “Pissed?”

During the June 27, 2019 Democratic presidential debate, candidate Julian Castro stated, “We saw that image today that broke our hearts,” referring to photos of  Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter drowned after crossing the Rio Grande River to illegally enter the United States.

Both Castro and the debate moderator, José Diaz-Balart, stated that Martinez Ramirez and his family were seeking asylum in the United States because of the economic hardships the endured in El Salvador.  Expanding on his reaction to the drowning, Castro stated, “It should also piss us all off.”

Castro was right, it should piss us off!  But not for the reason he alleges.  In fact, Castro, Diaz-Balart and their ideological allies have propagated this myth that anyone wanting to enter the United States is eligible for asylum.  This myth has provided false hope to many individuals seeking to bypass the legal immigration process.  They have been led to believe that asylum is possible if they are economically destitute in their home countries, or if they live in dangerous areas. 

In fact, none of this is true.

Asylum is not offered by the United States for people suffering economic deprivation, nor is it available for people who reside in violent or dangerous places.  Asylum is only legally available to people “because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” 

If a person is unable to prove that he or she is actively being persecuted by a governmental or de-facto governmental policy directed specifically at specific races, religions, nationalities, social groups, or political opinions, that person is not eligible for asylum in the United States.  Even if a person is a victim of persecution due to their membership in the listed groups, people are not eligible for United States asylum if there are areas in their own nations where that persecution does not exist or if they pass through another country in which that persecution does not occur.  In fact, if a person makes a frivolous claim for asylum, that person may be permanently prohibited from any kind of immigration to the United States in the future.

It is true that the “catch and release” policy of asylum seekers used under previous presidential administrations facilitated illegal immigration.  Those seeking to bypass United States immigration law knew that the asylum claims system was overwhelmed.  If people claimed asylum after arriving on United States soil, they were usually given a future court date and were permitted to remain in the United States.  It is no surprise that an overwhelming majority of those who claimed asylum never appeared for their court dates.  Instead, they remained in the United States as illegal immigrants.

Recognizing that well over 90% of requests for asylum are denied by our courts and that the vast majority of those claiming asylum never returned for their court dates, the Trump administration ended the “catch and release” policy.  Instead, applicants for asylum were either incarcerated while waiting for their court dates or were refused entry until the courts would be able to hear their cases.  Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez chose not to wait in accordance with United States policy, and instead took the dangerous path of fording the Rio Grande River with his family to enter the United States illegally.  From all appearances, Martinez Ramirez was not legally eligible for asylum anyway.  He was attempting to enter the United States solely for economic reasons.

It is obvious that there are many politicians, particularly in the Democratic party, who are encouraging people to immigrate illegally and to improperly claim asylum.  Julian Castro and José Diaz-Balart exemplified this during the June 27, 2019 debate.  This tactic undermines United States immigration law, overwhelms our immigration enforcement resources, and puts potential immigrants at risk.  One can not know if these politicians are signaling false hopes for asylum in order to pander to certain electoral constituencies, intentionally undermine immigration law, or out of sheer ignorance.  But their actions in holding out false hope puts more potential immigrants at risk than any of Trump’s policies.

Most of the Democratic presidential candidates served in Congress.  They know (or should know) that President Trump did not create immigration law.  Immigration law emanated from Congress – the president just enforces the laws passed by Congress.  Each of these candidates had the opportunity to propose new immigration laws.  None of them did.  Instead, they advertise false hope to potential immigrants in order to sabotage Trump’s presidency.  This is an abdication of their own responsibilities and a reckless policy that puts lives at risk.  I fear the Democrats don’t recognize the consequences of their actions and are only concerned with the political advantages they may provide.

Should we have completely open borders?  Some make strong cases that we should.  But the United States (or any other nation) can’t have unconstrained immigration and generous and universal social welfare programs.  If we wish to retain the current level of welfare programs, we must carefully vet potential immigrants to ensure they won’t become burdens on the public welfare system.  If we instead decide to open our borders completely, we must recognize that our current social welfare programs will be quickly overwhelmed by freeloading immigrants who will put significant pressure on the public treasury.

Regardless of the type of immigration laws we desire, it is not within the authority of the president to create such laws.  Immigration laws may only be created and passed by Congress.  If any presidential candidates who once served in Congress claim they will change immigration law as president, they are lying!  They had their opportunity to do so while in Congress.  If they failed to reform immigration law when serving in the body responsible for creating such laws, what makes one think they will successfully change the law while serving in a position that does not have the authority to create laws?

Julian Castro is right when he says we should be pissed about immigrants dying as they try to reach our shores.  We should be pissed that there are pandering politicians who make people believe they can receive asylum even though they are not legally eligible to do so.  We should be pissed at politicians who seek to undermine the laws they are responsible for creating just because they with to pander to certain groups in order to secure a political advantage.  We should be pissed at politicians who use desperate and uninformed people as pawns in their attempts to secure political points.  Yes, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez was ultimately responsible for the poor decision that cost him and his daughter their lives.  But they were encouraged to make that decision by politicians who falsely and cynically held out hope for asylum to Martinez Ramirez.

It is those politicians who should be targets of our ire!

Elizabeth Warren’s Attack on Success

If anything is a glaring example of pandering, misguided, authoritarian, collectivist tendencies, it is Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to institute a “wealth tax” against individuals with large assets.  Not only is her proposal likely an unconstitutional violation of the Constitution’s prohibition against direct taxation, it is a policy designed to penalize success in order to grant Washington the power to redistribute earned wealth to those who haven’t earned it.  In essence, Warren is proposing the seizing of assets from some in order to pay off the political constituencies she prefers.

For generations, economists have suggested that the economy functions best when people save their money, and invest it in areas that help the economy grow.  As an economy grows, overall wealth increases, benefiting all.  This does not mean that equal outcomes ensue, or even that equal outcomes are desirable.  Instead, it means that the producers and investors help grow the economy, producing goods and services valued and used by people of all economic circumstances.  One needs only look at some of the products created, many of which did not even exist twenty or thirty years ago, to see the value of allowing producers to earn, keep, and invest their funds.  Cell phones, pharmaceuticals that cure disease, and personal computers are among the products that were unobtainable a generation ago, but now owned by rich and poor alike.  Although there is obviously inequality in incomes, the fruits of a vibrant economy are made available to all.  The wealth tax, instead of encouraging savings and investments, instead instigates the squandering of money.

Warren, and others of her ilk, believe that the economy is “rigged,” and that only intervention by a select group of bureaucrats and technocrats, using money seized by producers, will allow the attainment of her goal of income equality and equal outcomes for all.  Instead of recognizing the value producers and investors have on the economy, Warren advocates a lowest-common denominator form of economic “equality” in which one’s skills, abilities, and contribution to the economy are ignored and unrewarded, while those who do not offer goods and services needed by the economy are unjustly compensated.  She is under the mistaken assumption that wealth is a fixed-size pie, in which one’s success denies others the opportunity to achieve success.  Warren ignores, or is ignorant of, the fact that wealth can, and is, created and can grow.

As with other politicians with socialist tendencies, Warren ignores the failures of other nations that have imposed wealth taxes.  In the last 27 years, the number of nations instituting wealth taxes has decreased from twelve to four.  It is also worth noting that although Warren claims the wealth tax will only affect the “richest of the rich,” nations with a wealth tax have always quickly lowered the wealth standard to include those with middle-class incomes.  Like the income tax, which was originally levied only on the super-wealthy, any wealth tax will eventually (and quickly) be expanded to affect almost all wage earners.  Once government gets a taste of additional tax revenues, its hunger for more taxes to fund politicians’ pet proposals inevitably increases.

Even if one ignores the inherent immorality of seizing one’s earned assets (which were already taxed when they were initially earned), one can not ignore the huge and intrusive bureaucracy that must be established to ensure compliance with the wealth tax.  The wealth tax is not limited to assets in financial institutions which can easily be traced; it also is levied against any fixed assets or property owned by the citizenry.  Will tax authorities be given the power to break into people’s homes to ensure that they are properly declaring the value of their furniture, artworks, clothing, vehicles, etc.?  Will people who invest in tangible goods be penalized, while people who squander their money on consumable products and experiences (such as opulent food, entertainment, and travel) be spared the burden of the wealth tax?  How is it fair that those who prefer tangible property over experiences should be burdened by additional taxes?

In practice, any imposition of a wealth tax will likely lead to the conversion of assets to easily hidden and transferable assets like precious metals and jewels.  In fact, the institution of a wealth tax will likely cause the creation of a parallel, underground economy, in which gold and silver are used for untraceable transactions.  This will place a burden on the national currency system, causing an outflow of assets that must be replaced by the printing of additional currency.  This, in itself, will create inflationary pressures that could be as significant as the hyper-inflation experienced by Weimar Germany in the 1920’s and ‘30’s or more recently, Venezuela.  Capital used for investments will diminish, resulting in a stagnant or collapsing economy.

Finally, Warren’s proposal includes a caveat that attacks even the appearance of individual liberty and self-determination.  If a person subject to the wealth tax decides that he or she wishes to relocate to a nation that actually values productivity and success, that individual will be subject to a confiscatory tax that seizes 40% of their total assets before they can move.  Not since the fall of the Berlin Wall have we seen any nation erect such substantial barriers to prevent its citizenry from seeking out greener pastures or freely moving wherever they wish.  Warren is proposing the imposition of an economic prison that will extort wealth from producers and limit the ability of producers to engage in self-determination.  In essence, Warren is advancing the creation of an economic despotism that replaces free-enterprise and rewards for success with a centralized, socialized, command economy dictated by a small group of selected “elites.”  Not only is her proposal immoral and unconstitutional, it repudiates the values of individual liberty upon which our nation was founded.

The Tantrum of the Snowflakes

snowflakes

 

It had to come to this.

Members of the “everybody gets a trophy” generation have taken to the streets to “protest” the election results, and in some cases, to riot.  It’s a shame that no one ever taught them that taking meaningless action to express dissatisfaction with a free election is not protest, it’s a temper tantrum.  If these people are really dissatisfied with the direction they feel the government is moving, they should craft a compelling argument for their positions.  Glorified loitering and inconveniencing others is hardly a compelling “statement.” 

But, before they attempt to craft an opposing argument, they should put some of their wounded feelings aside and try to employ reason.  The left has been spoiled for generations.  When the Democrats controlled government, they had the ability to use the coercive power of government to pander to any of their perceived needs.  It didn’t matter what those needs were, whether the programs to address those needs were effective or right, or even whether the consequences of the government programs they desired were counterproductive.  It just mattered that government did something, and that someone else paid for it or bore the consequences.

Typically, when Republicans took control of the apparatus of government, they employed restraint.  Traditional Republicans usually believed in limited governmental power and in allowing each person to exercise their own individual liberty.  In a worst case scenario for today’s fragile, precious snowflakes, the Republicans merely rolled back some of the more egregious abuses of governmental power and temporarily reduced the programs of the social-engineering elite.

Now, the left is confronted, for the first time in over a century, with a Republican president who supports a very activist, involved government, and not a limited government.  And this phenomenon was created and supported by the left, as they incrementally expanded the powers of the centralized federal government and decreased the power of the states and the liberty of individuals.  Finally, they are confronted with the prospect of seeing an intrusive, all-powerful government conceivably being used by the opposition to impose a different set of coercive policies on the population.  Forgive me if I have little sympathy for those who are comfortable allowing the government to impose its will on the population when one group is in power, but uncomfortable with having a different group impose its will when it secures power.  Did the left really think that governmental tyranny would only exist while they held the reigns of power?

These “protestors” come from a generation with a limited, insulated worldview.  They were raised by “helicopter parents” who shielded them from any personal responsibility and protected them from any of life’s unpleasantness.  For many, this is the first time they didn’t get what they thought they wanted; the first time somebody actually said, “NO!” to them.  Their sense of moral superiority has been honed to the point that they can’t even conceive of any different viewpoints, and the only way to handle opposition is to demonize and try to dehumanize those with contrary opinions.  When they seek out others, they surround themselves with like-minded sycophants and only follow media that reaffirms their previously held views.  Individual liberty is an afterthought, if it is considered at all.  Many of the young seek out the homogeny of self-affirmation, rather than the challenge of considering, and responding to, different life experiences and viewpoints.  They herald diversity as an ideal, but fail to actually practice it.

It never occurred to these precious snowflakes that a large, intrusive central government might actually be used against them and advance an agenda contrary to their preferences.  Their sense of moral infallibility blinds them from realizing that there is an inherent contradiction in supporting an all-encompassing, intrusive government in some areas, while opposing it in others.  They don’t recognize that restoring a small, constrained government is preferable to a large, dictatorial, activist government, because their moral worldview can’t process the fact that some people want to live their own lives, make their own decisions, and bear their own consequences free of the whims of elites.  They have failed to realize that when a person or entity is granted unlimited powers, they won’t hesitate to use those powers in any way they see fit.

Donald Trump may very well be a bad president.  Contrary to a century of Republican practice, he has advocated for a very proactive government.  If he follows through on his promises, he won’t wield power much differently than previous Democratic administrations.  The policies may differ a bit, but the methodology he proposes comes straight out of the “progressive” playbook.  Those who protest against the election of Trump, because they fear he might actually implement certain policies, must recognize that the entire system of government must change.  A large, monolithic government that micromanages people’s lives and property must give way to the government our Founders conceived – small, responsive, and dedicated to preserving, and not infringing upon, personal and economic choice and liberty. 

Just replacing one dictator with another won’t do.
  There will always come a time when a dictator will do something that certain people won’t like.  Right now, the young protesters are experiencing this reality.  If they want to be effective in changing things, the young protesters must look beyond their narrow worldview and address a structure that allows potential despots of any persuasion to wield power.

Or, we can just give them all trophies so they go back home.