Tuesday, March 10, 2009

This and That

A lot going on, and not a lot of time to blog. Some quick hits:
  • Georgia's move to restrict stem cell research and in vitro fertilization is bad news for parents struggling to have children and for scientific research.
  • Surprise, Surprise. North Carolina, which has its act together on rail and transportation, stands to get $8 billion (yes, with a "B") for inter-city, high speed rail. That would be enough to fund the brain train as well as commuter rail to Lovejoy and Cobb County, the last time I checked. Georgia legislative leaders please take note about the power of actually having transportation plans in place and a dedicated funding source.
  • UGA professor Larry Nackerud stirred up a hornets' nest with his comments on ICE raids in the Athens paper yesterday. It boggles my mind that in this economy (with unemployment approaching 10%) that there are still people out there who want us to go out of our way to accomodate those who enter our country illegally rather than using the valid, legal processes.
  • In "Confessions of a Tax Man," blogger Grift Drift has a great post on why a move to "change the rules" for legislators with tax troubles doesn't make a lot of sense. That said, I do believe there certainly should be no special exceptions for elected officials.
  • Georgia desperately needs a solution for trauma care, and super speeder fines are one of the easier solutions. No brainer. The only real question is why there isn't a trauma care center closer to Athens than Grady Hospital in Atlanta. We probably can't afford one.
  • Jim Thompson and the guys nail it here. It is about time our legislators toned down the rhetoric and started really working to address our budget challenges. It only took 25+ days of work to get there.
  • David Brooks, my other favorite columnist, is at it again, offering up way too much practicality for most Republicans to handle. Guys, despite what Rush says, being "Dr. No" is not going to win us the next election. Nor will waiting on the President to fail.
  • In case you missed it yesterday, some Georgia legislators want to move the state back to the gold standard. If tax dollars were used to draft this bill the legislators should be reported to Casey Cagle.
  • Any predictions on how the largely conservative Bulldog nation would react to having the brother in law of the president as our next hoops coach?


Cody said...

I have to offer a little perspective on the ICE Raids article. First, we need to make it clear that most illegal immigrants do not compete for scarce jobs that Americans will do. It's obvious that many Americans will not work in construction, roofing, paving, agriculture, hospitality industry and many other jobs. These industries would prefer to hire Americans; only Americans -- even in this economy -- will not do these jobs. But, it is painfully true and correct to say that many communities around the country with illegal immigrants do put a strain on local services.

So, why do we have the immigration policies we do? Well, it points to many of the targets in this post -- lawmakers! In this case, the Congress that in 1986 passed an awfully flawed immigration law that favored immigrants coming to this country illegally, working and then not being able to return home.

The biggest issue with the 1986 law is that employers cannot question the validity of documents presented by workers -- even if they know or suspect they are false. Doing so will cause the employer to be sued by local Legal Services Departments. Conversely, immigrants can get nearly any type of false identification document desired. Still, until recently, there hasn't been a government document/ID match system in place. And the one now in place operated by the Department of Homeland Security is woefully slow. Employers are left with little recourse except to accept much needed workers.

Most of the immigrants I've talked to working in agriculture want to have the opportunity to return home and then return for work. Our current system does not favor a guest worker program -- especially for jobs Americans will not do.

Whether we want to admit it or not, enforcement and "kicking-out" illegal immigrants is a very bad option -- and one that is logistically impossible.

Unfortunately, I have no confidence in Congressional members having the insight, knowledge and courage to address this issue. And, because of that, our immigration policy is broken, illegal immigrants will continue to do the jobs Americans will not and communities will be stuck picking-up the tab for services provided.

Plus, I'm not sure anyone really knows the impact immigrant workers have on this economy. Maybe it's awash in government services provided. Or maybe we prefer to look the other way at the jobs they do, that Americans will not. Removing them could create a huge hole! Who knows?

Brian said...

Cody, I see your point to a degree. But one has to think that with unemployment at 10% Americans will take some jobs they wouldn't before if the opportunities are there. I also agree that there are major policy flaws that you point out that need to be addressed, but I don't have a problem in the world with shipping an undocumented/illegal back to his or her home country with their family, as long as it is done in a humane way.

Cody said...

With the level of entitlement programs that pay Americans as much not to work, as they would earn in any of these other fields, I don't see Americans taking any of these jobs.

One of our state affiliates offered a national toll-free number for people to call to work in agriculture. These growers would pay for travel, housing, and meals for the work season. They received one call over 14 days from a mother who wanted to teach her 12 and 14-year old sons the value of hard work! Needless to say, they weren't accepted!

Unfortunately, Americans will not work in my industry. No matter the economic situations and until the immigration policy is fixed, we will all have to live with undocumented/illegal workers making our food and beds, building our offices and homes, doing our yard work, and many other jobs, because whether we want to admit it or not, we need them! We need them because Americans will not do that work. It pains me to say it, but nothing I've seen or heard convinces me otherwise.

Plus, removing the undocumented/illegal immigrants (even if it could be done), would most likely grind this economy to a halt!