–The perfect punishment for bigotry

Mitchell’s laws: Reduced money growth never stimulates economic growth. To survive long term, a monetarily non-sovereign government must have a positive balance of payments. Austerity = poverty and leads to civil disorder. Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.

Think how you would feel if a speeding driver cuts you off and gives you the finger, and then a few miles down the road you see that same driver pulled over by the police, with his hands cuffed. That feeling is called “schadenfreude” and it’s how I felt when I read this outstanding editorial in the Chicago Tribune. There are times when these guys really get it right.

I should mention that schadenfreude neither is noble nor praiseworthy, Quite the reverse, but it can be a guilty pleasure, and I’ll try not to gloat.

Chicago Tribune Editorial
How not to fix the immigration system
Harsh laws create trouble for Alabama, Arizona

December 29, 2011

Crops don’t get picked. Chickens don’t get plucked. Kids don’t go to school. And the line at the Department of Motor Vehicles is really, really slow. Those are among the unintended consequences of Alabama’s overreaching immigration law.

The law, which took effect in September, is even more punitive than Arizona’s SB 1070, most of which was blocked by a federal court after the Obama administration sued. Alabama and a handful of other copycat states will have a rooting interest next summer, as the U.S. Supreme Court hears that case against the backdrop of an intensifying presidential race.

Challenges also are pending against similar laws in Georgia, Utah and South Carolina.

Arizonans are rethinking their harsh stance. Immigrant-friendly governments, companies and individuals boycotted the state, costing it hundreds of millions in tourism, conventions and sales. More than 100,000 Hispanics left the state — exactly as the law intended — but businesses weren’t happy to see them go. Besides being a source of cheap, reliable labor, immigrants are consumers too.

With another round of restrictive measures teed up in the legislature earlier this year, Arizona’s business leaders called for a timeout. The bills, which would have denied birth certificates to children of undocumented parents and banned illegal immigrants from driving, among other things, were defeated.

In November, Senate President Russell Pearce, the mouthpiece of the anti-immigrant movement, became the first state legislator in Arizona history to be removed from office via a recall election. He was replaced by a candidate who favors a more balanced approach to immigration reform.

Some Alabama leaders are having second thoughts too. Dubbed the “Juan Crow law,” their measure is meant to intimidate immigrants into fleeing the state by, for example, requiring schools to check the residency status of students and their parents — even though the Supreme Court has long held that children are entitled to a public education regardless of their immigration status. Fearful parents have responded by keeping their kids out of school.

A worker exodus has left farmers and poultry plants without enough help.

The law’s onerous demand that documentation be produced for “any transaction between a person and the state” has turned out to be a maddening inconvenience for everyone who needs a driver’s license, auto tags or a business license.

Some local governments are unsure whether the law prohibits them from providing utilities or trash pickup to undocumented families. A judge already has blocked the state from requiring proof of legal residency on annual registrations for mobile homes.

Meanwhile, measures meant to scare away illegal immigrants could end up scaring away business investors too. In November, a German executive visiting Tuscaloosa’s Mercedes plant was pulled over because his rental car was missing a tag; he was arrested when he couldn’t provide proof of residency. Oops.

This prompted the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to invite Mercedes to move its plant to Missouri. “We are the Show-Me State, not the ‘Show me your papers’ state,’ its editorial page quipped. The paper admitted Missouri’s legislature has been hostile to immigrants, “but not as hostile as Alabama’s or Arizona’s.”

Many Alabama lawmakers recognize they need to change the law. That won’t be easy after all the chest-thumping that went into passing it.

The lesson here is that the one-dimensional, enforcement-only approach doesn’t address the root of illegal immigration: Businesses need workers. When the system fails to provide enough visas to fill the available jobs, employers and workers find ways around it. Those needs should drive our immigration policy. Instead, it has been driven by politics.

Aware that the hard-line approach doesn’t sit well with businesses or Latino voters, some of the presidential candidates have dared to temper the debate. Texas Gov. Rick Perry defended his state’s program to extend in-state tuition to undocumented students. Newt Gingrich called for “humane” immigration policies, including a path to legalization for longtime undocumented workers who have otherwise been law-abiding. Both tacked right again after being booed by immigration hawks.

Two recent polls of likely Iowa caucus-goers, though, gave Gingrich and Perry the highest marks in the Republican field on immigration.

Maybe we’re getting our hopes up, but Americans seem to be inching toward a civil discussion on immigration. That would be a big step toward a workable solution.

Funny how humane treatment of the men, women and children living in their state, meant nothing to the politicians and voters in Alabama, Arizona and the other states where bigoted politicians win elections by being more cruelly racist than the other guy. Beating down, not only on helpless immigrants, but on their innocent children, was just fine. No human empathy offered. Just lots of lies and phony rationalizations about immigrants taking jobs, committing crimes and voting illegally.

Ah, but when money and consumers predictably began to flow out of the state, then suddenly, seeing all those tan-skinned kids and their parents having their lives destroyed, wasn’t quite as much fun.

A nation is known by the way it treats its least powerful. That goes for state governments, too.

I award 3 un-American symbols to all you politicians and sheriffs who sold your souls and appealed to the baser instincts of the slack-jawed members of your constituencies, in order to win an election. And you voters who cheered them on can share in the award.

Shame on you. Racist lesson learned?

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

Unpatriotic flagUnpatriotic flagUnpatriotic flag


No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth. Monetary Sovereignty: Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia. Two key equations in economics:
Federal Deficits – Net Imports = Net Private Savings
Gross Domestic Product = Federal Spending + Private Investment and Consumption + Net exports


9 thoughts on “–The perfect punishment for bigotry

  1. Thanks for another excellent blog.

    Many Americans seem to need reminding that simple human compassion can be a very good guide when it comes to policy-making. And making policy without compassion is always due to lack of courage.


  2. Rodger — I am a resident of Mobile, Alabama, and the racist lesson has NOT been learned. Although the Attorney General has issued instructions that state and local agencies cannot attempt to verify legal residence until they are connected to a federal verification system and the definition of “business transactions” has been radically altered, any attempt to do more than “tweak” the provisions of the law will be met with strong opposition. The newly Republican legislature (in control for the first time since Reconstruction) does not want those brown-skinned people to stay here, undocumented or documented. Lots of Hispanic legal residents are also leaving the state and a large number of Hispanic-owned businesses have had to close for lack of customers. It’s a damn shame.
    As for the lie about undocumented immigrants not paying taxes: I have been a professional tax preparer for nine years and there are a lot of undocumented immigrants working ON the books. Many of them use fake Social Security numbers to get hired and never file a tax return. That means they never get back excess withholding and they will never see any benefit from the FICA deductions. There are others who obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) from the IRS and file tax returns. Although they are not eligible for most of the tax credits available to legal residents, they can get back their excess withholding; they also will never benefit from the FICA deductions. The IRS doesn’t care if they are here legally or not and the agency does not communicate with other federal agencies (such as ICE or DHS). In fact, the IRS has just made it easier for these workers to file a return with a fake number on their W-2’s if they are applying for an ITIN.


  3. Before we start, I think the fact that people risk their lives to come here illegally to seek jobs, and do find jobs here, is irrefutable evidence that our immigration quotas are too low.

    However, Mexicans leaving Arizona is as much the result of the economy as it is enforcement of Federal immigration law.

    And the fact is that tourism revenue in the Valley of the Sun was up this year, not down by “hundreds of millions” as your newspaper alleges. Tax revenues are up dramatically, the state budget will be in surplus this fiscal year, not deficit like last year, and the debate now is about what to do about that situation.

    While vacationing in Mexico, I met a man whose wife likes to shop in my home town in Arizona. Her favorite stores are Toys R Us and Wal-Mart, and we’re the closest ones to their home in Mexico. I asked him what he had to do to get across the border for all these shopping trips. He said he and his family simply sign up at the border crossing for a card that allows him to come and go as he pleases for 6 months. After 6 months, he stops again at the border crossing and they get their cards renewed for another 6 months.

    That got me to thinking, why would people pay thousands of dollars to human smugglers and risk their lives walking through the desert to become illegal immigrants, when they could get a card like his and get in legally? I know most of the illegals are illegal because they overstayed visas, but the issue of border security is not about them, it is about the ones who sneak in, and not mostly about the Mexicans. A few dozen known associates of middle-eastern terrorist groups have been caught in the desert, too.

    I wonder if there is perhaps some sort of check performed to issue the card, so maybe convicted felons and the like would not be able to get one? Is there anyone from ICE or Homeland Security who reads this blog, and can elaborate on the requirements for getting this 6-month pass?

    My solution to the immigration fiasco is

    1. Immediately raise this year’s quota by 12 million, the estimated number of illegals already here.
    2. Anyone who is here illegally will not be prosecuted for 6 months. During that time they may return to their home country and re-enter legally, without penalty, provided they meet the normal requirements and do not displace others who have been on a “waiting list”.
    3. Finish securing the Southern border. To use a currently popular number, “99%” of the illegal crossings occur on the relatively small part of the border that does not yet have a fence on it. The parts with fences have comparatively very few illegal crossings.
    4. Enforce the “green card” requirements and sanction employers who ignore them
    5. Require employers to use the Federal E-Verify system
    6. Vigorously prosecute identity theft of all sorts, including but not limited to that committed by or on behalf of illegal job-seekers
    7. Study and determine how much higher the ongoing immigration quotas need to be, or perhaps even raise them to “infinity” for highly desirable candidates or to resolve temporary local needs.
    8. Permit unlimited legal access for temporary workers (who are primarily seasonal agricultural workers, but could include seasonal retail and transportation workers as well) who do not want to immigrate permanently

    We are a nation of immigrants. There is no reason to deny access to people seeking a better life here, in manageable numbers. There IS a need to limit access by those who would do us harm.


  4. You have some very good ideas, John.

    Do those same ideas apply to Canadians? Others who land on our shores? I ask, because I suspect that much of the problem has to do with skin color, not the crime, jobs and, voting nonsense excuses being used.

    I say that because you have a sheriff out there who has adopted the personality of the classic southern sheriff — all bully and no justice — and he seems to have become a folk hero. Why would that be?

    I question the “few dozen terrorists” being caught in the desert. That sounds like the numbers that sheriff would use to justify the “crime” excuse.

    Anyway, don’t think I’m dumping on Arizona. While you may elect bigots, my state, Illinois, elects criminals. Four of our last 8 governors have been sent to prison, plus heaven knows how many Chicago alderman. So which is worse, bigots or criminals? I’ll have to think about that. 🙂


    1. Yes, they apply to everyone regardless of skin color or anything else. Like the German executive who failed to carry the ID he was required to carry, and had agreed to carry when he was granted legal entrance to the US. (What happens to Americans in Germany when they’re supposed to have their passports and they don’t?) As it happens, in my 2nd to last job I worked with several Canadians who have since become US citizens. They were very scrupulous about carrying their green cards and doing all the things non-citizens are supposed to do, because they knew they would lose their jobs and be sent back if they didn’t.

      DHS or ICE or somebody recently listed the nationalities of people caught in the desert. There were Saudis, Yemenis, Iranians, and a few other countries on the list. I don’t have the reference handy, but there were more than a few and fewer than 100. Many spoke Spanish and were dressed so as to blend in with the Mexicans they were with.

      Sheriff Joe has been here way longer than me, but my impression is that his fans believe he is standing up for them, the “little people”, and taxpayers, against criminals, and now the big bad Federales. Before the current illegal immigration headlines, he was famous for making the inmate work crews wear pink underwear, to make it harder for them to escape undetected, for housing inmates in tents, and for his exceptional frugality on the inmate meal budget. Some of it is part of the Western pioneer persona, but some is regarded as just good management. Not “all bully and no justice”, but very much the other way around. Sometimes he’s the only one willing to dispense any justice, even though his jurisdiction is quite limited.

      In a unique display of civic involvement, Arizonans volunteer for Sheriff Joe’s Posse, to help with various duties not directly involving law enforcement, such as traffic control or prisoner transportation.

      He made some political enemies a couple of years ago by investigating a County Commissioner for some questionable financial arrangements involving public funds and her husband’s business. The county attorney from another county investigated and determined that her conduct was improper, but the tracks were covered well enough that successful prosecution was unlikely. The politicians involved, and the local newspaper are spinning it as “malicious prosecution” of an “innocent” political enemy. I think the public generally regards it as being “on the side of the 99%”.

      So, to answer your question, those are some of the reasons he has become a folk hero and keeps getting elected, despite some very well-connected opposition.

      I think it would be very difficult for someone with anti-Mexican sentiments to live in Arizona. It is literally impossible to go about one’s daily activities without meeting and dealing with people of Mexican ancestry – and Native American, too, for that matter. They are among our colleagues at work, no matter where you work, they are our customers and we are their customers, and they are our neighbors, no matter where you live. There are ghettos that are mainly inhabited by poor Mexicans, but there are no middle-class neighborhoods that are “all-white”, as there were in New Jersey and Connecticut, for instance, where I have lived. I’m reminded of the 1960’s, when the South was considered “racist”, but was essentially integrated, while in the more liberal-leaning Northern states there were virtually no Blacks to be found outside the inner cities.

      So, if bigots are running Arizona, they’re not having much success.


      1. Yes, most bigotry, practiced by governments, is based on that all-purpose excuse: “law and order.” Wasn’t that the reason Hitler gave?

        Thank thankfully, your paragraph beginning, “Sheriff Joe” doesn’t describe a sadistic bully. He’s just doin’ his job, and havin’ fun.

        Apparently, you have bought into the notion that the sheriff’s picking on undocumented Latinos is imaginary, and that these people are a bunch of complainers who are detriment to your state and take jobs away from good, hard-working whites.

        Apparently, you have bought into the notion that the undocumented commit crimes in far greater proportion than white skinned people, though the illogic of that position becomes apparent when you think about the far greater punishment they face for the most minor of infractions.

        And of course the U.S. has been subject to so many Mexican terrorist acts, thank goodness we have a sheriff who will root them out. Who cares how many innocent will suffer?

        And I suppose you believe they don’t pay taxes, and don’t want to work (while taking jobs from whites), and just want to live on the dole, get drunk and rape white women.

        And apparently you have bought into the notion that the South was not bigoted against them “Nigras,” and there weren’t white-only drinking fountains, and back-of-the-bus and “separate-but-equal. And lynchings really were justified as a good way to reduce crime. Sure, it was much worse in the North.

        I need no convincing to know your sheriff is popular with the white population. So was Governor George Wallace. So was Hitler.

        I am confident that once you get past all the rationalizations and meet some undocumented workers and their beautiful children, then look closely in the mirror, you will see something you’re not proud of.

        Most bigots claim to be religious — the more bigoted, the more religious. So they say they believe they will be judged by God. What do you think God will say about your sheriff and his persecution of the helpless and weak? But I assume you have a rationalization to cover that eventuality.

        Rodger Malcolm Mitchell


        1. You assume a lot.

          The “complainers”, in Arizona, are mostly Americans, from Pima County (Tucson), which is the Democrat area of the state. The Mexicans I know (I don’t ask them if they are documented or not) are mostly very happy to be here, and don’t complain much at all. Some do jobs that whites would not apply for, like landscaping and crop-harvesting, but you pretty much can’t get an “over-the-table” job now in AZ without a Social Security number that really belongs to you, so I don’t think illegals are stealing jobs any more, if they ever were. Up until the “crisis”, Arizona had a shortage of workers, not just during the 2000’s but pretty much always, due to growth from in-migration. I don’t think many white Arizonans suffered from illegal Mexicans having a job when they couldn’t find one.

          The Mexicans I know are very much like we like to think of our own immigrant ancestors. They don’t ask for special treatment, they want to work and earn their rewards.

          Sheriff Joe picks on criminals of all types, including illegals. And white politicians. I have not heard of any cases of him violating the rights of any Americans or any Mexicans with visas. In accordance with the law, he asks for ID from everyone he arrests in the commission of a crime, white or brown.

          As for the South, I specifically said the 1960’s for a reason. The things you cited went away with Rosa Parks and Brown V. Board of Education, in the 1950’s. Maybe except KKK lynchings, led by the likes of Sen Robert Byrd, which had nothing to do with crime (except that they were crimes themselves). Even by the late 1960’s and beyond, there were still those who held on to hard feelings, no doubt, but there was not in the South as much segregation as still remained in the North, even though in the South it had been de jure and in the North only de facto. (“only”) I never lived in the deep South, except for a few weeks at a time, but I met many Southerners, Black and White, during my military service in the 1970’s. I knew some bigots, but they were mostly not the Southerners. It seems that when we have to live together, we find more commonality than differences.


  5. illegals are perceived to skip paying state income taxes because they have no recourse. (hard to be law abiding when use face deportation). Hospital care and education for these people and their children are paid by the law abiding.

    This fuels the race card.

    It’s known as “fairness” by the residents of these states because they see their hard earned dollars being taken from them and handed out to people who are mooching off their dime and their own health care and children’s education bills are rapidly increasing.

    Name calling without addressing the underlying problems is useless. (This situation does make me wonder what these states did before the illegals did all these jobs that the consumers will not pay for).

    I know there are people who would work on the farm for two or three times what the illegals would work for because that’s the way it was done just a generation ago. But you and I would pay more and import more from Mexico and other low wage sources.

    Under that scenario our farmers would only face bankruptcy because we have “free trade” which has us competing with the poorest of the poor who want to work for a living.

    So, we import these, one way or another, to save a few pennies per tomato,apple,orange, etc.

    My expertise?

    I worked on 500 acre orchard back in the 1970’s. Five of us pruned, fertilized and sprayed through out the year and at picking time the company bussed in 80 or so Mexican workers. After the fruit was picked they were bussed back to Jalisco or Juarez Mexico.

    Problem, what problem? Most of the local taxpayers never even saw them.

    None the less,I like to believe the good news today is that these people’s children will be law abiding citizens and, we hope, become tax paying citizens as my ancestors and yours did. (They probably will be anti Guatemalan, or something and vote Republican )

    But then, I suppose the left and the right would have to fight each other over something else because name calling is a lot more fun than finding adult solutions to tough problems.

    Makes careers too! (You probably voted for one side of the argument or another).


  6. Yeah, probably the most useful thing “W” ever sought was the guest worker program. If that had gotten off the ground, a lot of the current problems would not be happening.

    But, it’s a global economy, no way around it. Hopefully our leaders will absorb enough MMT to deal with it.


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