Wednesday, December 8, 2004
Freedom and licences: Miriam Jordan's solid 12/6 WSJ summary of the illegal immigrant/driver's license debate notes the charge (from, in this case, Sen. Lieberman's office) that the attempt to deny such licenses is "not a security provision. It's an anti-immigrant provision." Of course it is! Or, rather, it's an attempt to restrict illegal immigration by denying illegal immigrants the normalcy, and the legitimate perquisites, of legal residence. Why isn't that a perfectly proper objective? ... It would be equally true to charge that the supporters of licensing illegals aren't really concerned with making the roads safer, requiring insurance, obtaining information on drivers, etc.--they're really, at bottom, committed to legitimizing the presence of illegals and they don't worry much about whether that encourages others to become illegals. ... Why is it only respectable to argue on the surface-argument level--about fighting terrorism and requiring auto insurance--instead of the real level (about controlling immigration)? ...
P.S.--And they say kf isn't solution-oriented! I still don't understand why the most promising strategy isn't to separate the "i.d. card" function from the driver's license function. Give illegals, or anyone who can drive, a license that allows them to drive. But don't use this license for identification purposes--you'd need to create a separate I.D. card*** for that. This plan would satisfy road-safety concerns and make it a bit easier to be an illegal--but deny illegals full respectability (which is why, I suspect, it would be opposed by immgrant advocates). ...
P.P.S.: Tennessee is experimenting with a slightly tougher variation on this idea--people who aren't citizens or legal residents get a separate, second-class license that allows them drive but isn't an i.d.. The second-tier license is practically a red flag advertising illegal status, however. Will many illegals even bother to apply for it? (Needless to say, the plan--which began in July--has also produced vocal protests and lawsuits from advocacy groups.) ...
***: A national ID card would help solve 1) the terrorism problem and 2) the illegal immigration problem. Comrade Kuttner points out today that it would also help solve 3) the voter registration problem and 4) the underage drinking problem. A fourfer! It's very un-American, but it also seems unstoppably useful. ... 2:21 P.M.
Andrew Sullivan is staging a contest to find the most cliche-ridden polemical sentence. I have the winner--or, rather, I know what the winner is. It's what the town fathers of Newburgh, New York said in their doomed attempt to restrict welfare receipt in 1961. I will retrieve the exact quote from James Patterson's America's Struggle Against Poverty as soon as I can find that book. But trust me. Don't waste your energy trying to come up with another entrant. Competition is futile. ... Update: Alert reader J.S. had the book on his desk. The quote is from Newburgh City Manager Joseph Mitchell, who declared, "It is not moral to appropriate public funds to finance crime, illegitimacy, disease, and other social evils." Patterson continues:
Ever since the Leopold-Loeb case, [Mitchell] said, 'Criminal lawyers and all the mushy rabble of do-gooders and bleeding hearts in society and politics have marched under the Freudian flag toward the omnipotent state of Karl Marx.' [Emph. added]
That about sums it up! ... P.S.: He was right about welfare. ... P.P.S.: Then of course there's this Coulterish compendium of cheap anti-left insult:
'Socialism' and 'Communism' draw towards them with magnetic force
every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac,
Quaker, 'Nature Cure' quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.
That would be ... George Orwell. [Isn't Andrew Sullivan our New Orwell?--ed. Now I'm all confused.] 1:21 P.M.