Former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld announced today he is running for president against Donald Trump, hoping to secure the Republican nomination.
Josh Hughes | United States
With the pivotal midterm elections quickly approaching, a story that has circling news outlets recently is one that most Americans are all too familiar with: a caravan of immigrants from Guatemala and Honduras are heading towards the southern US border, intent on finding refuge in the land of opportunity. But what does this mean for the United States? According to a story from ABC and confirmed by the United Nations, the caravan, which is still in the southernmost tip of Mexico, has grown to a size of over 7,200 migrants.
Surely a group that large will have a negative effect on the country, right? Undoubtedly, the effects of that many people entering the country will be felt, but why is that? The truth is, the government probably has itself to blame for its many issues with illegal immigration. The reason droves of immigrants swarm to America is because of the many social programs offered at the expense of the taxpayer.
Many immigrants come to take advantage of government programs such as welfare and Medicaid, without having to pay taxes to contribute to the system since they’re undocumented. This is one of the many issues President Trump and his supporters have presented, but their fixes are nonsensical. The left and the right are offering “band-aid fixes” to very deep and complex issues without looking at the root of the problem. Both sides propose regulating immigration rather than fixing the welfare state that exists today. Rather than worry about who comes in, the way to solve the problem is to ensure that no one is entitled to benefits offered at the expense of others. There’s no legitimate reason to stop people from coming into the country that will benefit America and contribute to the economy, as the United States is renowned for being a melting pot of ideas and cultures.
Another issue many Republicans have is that a lot of these immigrants may somehow vote, and vote Democrat. The number of illegal immigrants that vote is very few, but it’s the principle that’s the issue. The fact of the matter is, neither party offers anything that will legitimately help the immigrants. The Democrats giving them free support and services is damaging to them and to the country, and the Republicans that elect to keep them out entirely also isn’t helping.
Rather, the best course of action is the libertarian way. End the social programs. Let them come in, and offer them the greatest gift a society can give: equal opportunity and freedom. The proposition of starting a new life in a free land where your possibilities are endless as long as you work hard is something most immigrants don’t have in their home countries. They are famously hard workers, and no doubt have many skills to offer to the labor force and the economy. The best course of action is to offer all people, regardless of nationality, gender, race, sexuality, or another deciding factor, should have an equal opportunity to make a better life for themselves. Immigration reform is severely needed.
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By Atilla Sulker | United States
Like many contemporary issues, the debacle regarding immigration and the separation of immigrant families has become a polarizing and divisive issue in America. Ideologues on the left and the right both spew propaganda to try to discredit the other side, and as a result, the political scene has become nastier and further fractured. Those on the left and the establishment leaning right have become demagogues and have made this an emotional issue, while those on the populist right blindly support the protocols set by the Attorney General and others. The issue is far from over, but there is a more fundamental lesson that must be learned from this fiasco.
It is interesting that both sides have decided to focus so carefully on the separation of immigrant children from their parents, yet they have not bothered to pay attention to what I see as the domestic equivalent to this. And this is the gradual alienation of children here in America from their parents, which has taken multiple forms. The current issue with immigration can be very disheartening, but what good is it to set any moral standards in regards to immigrants, when we don’t apply this same thinking to our own children. This whole debate has ultimately distracted people from what domestic institutions have been doing both explicitly and implicitly. Humane treatment from any administration or government can not be expected if we can’t even set these standards for ourselves.
Let us look at the Child Protection Services and examine its assumption of children from parents. In a paper written by Professor Paul Chill titled “Burden of Proof Begone”, Chill finds that of the over 100,000 children removed from their families in 2001, over one-third of them were later found to never have been mistreated or abused. Chill also recognizes that this is coupled with the fact that the definition for mistreatment is very broad. “Reasonable cause” is enough to bring the CPS knocking at your door. I don’t mean to digress, but this sort of “reasonable suspicion overriding probable cause” approach was used under the Patriot Act in a post 9/11 world. The assuming of such powers by the CPS presents a very similar case. It is yet another way in which the state is intruding into our lives.
The fundamental problem with such organizations as the CPS and the Department of Children and Families is that the state practically assumes ownership of children. It is one thing to enforce the non-aggression principle and punish parents who have abused children. It is another thing to give the state the authority to assume ownership of our children. Even if the moral argument against the state is not sufficient, practically speaking, the utter inefficiency of the CPS based on the statistics presents a good argument against government assuming such a role. I think it is safe to ask the question “ do parents really own their children?”.
These explicit means are indeed something we must examine, but the government has also found a way to implicitly isolate the child from the parent. And this is the gradually increasing assumption of monopoly powers in schooling by the government. It may seem like an absurd statement at first to the typical sheep who obey their government masters, but the filtering and controlling of ideas is indeed a very powerful tool that the state uses, and it is especially useful for children, who possess young and fertile minds. Sheer military power is not enough for the state to keep control over its people. The state must also indoctrinate its subjects in its ideas. North Korea provides an excellent case study of how this indoctrination is used to maintain order.
Since I am in the public schooling system right now, I have had direct and recent experience in regards to this indoctrination. I had one teacher in my junior year in high school who would constantly make fun of me and embarrass me in class on a near daily basis for not agreeing with her progressive agenda. I didn’t mind and I understood she was joking around as well, but this goes to show you what kind of people are in the public school system. They are close-minded, safe space junkies. The censoring and suppression of ideas becomes nearly immediate when the discussion becomes just a little controversial. There was another teacher who was an ardent feminist that would make us read feminist articles, and only such articles. I don’t mind teachers discussing politics with students, but when their politics affect the information that they feed to the students, it becomes a problem. I believe it is crucial that all perspectives are considered.
So we have now established the premise that government schooling can at its most extreme be terribly biased. So what about homeschooling? Even then, the state has supervision over what must be taught to the students by their parents. Occasional evaluations are administered by the state to see how well a student has been indoctrinated by the ideas pushed forward by the state. According to an article written by Lynn Hatter in WFSU in 2013, a couple faced 10 charges that could put them in jail for up to 60 days per charge. And why did they face these charges? According to the state, their children had not been properly indoctrinated. The story occurred here in Leon County, Florida. Such cases are not necessarily rare; they can happen where you live too. I’m all for education, but what I am against is the government deciding what standards the education must conform with, and in such a way assuming even more ownership of children. It presents yet another example of the state alienating the child from the parent, even if doing so implicitly.
A final point I want to make is in regards to the Attorney General’s comments in comparing the bringing of children across the border to smuggling. Sessions claims that since the act of bringing immigrant children across the border can be likened unto smuggling, the state has the right to confiscate the children. In making such a claim, Sessions is taking the stance of a legal positivist. And all those who support such a policy are doing the same. In making this claim, the Attorney General is assuming that it is not wrong for the government to confiscate money and personal belongings from domestic citizens, and he is, therefore, extending this notion even further by applying it to immigration. His application of this doctrine to immigration assumes that he first applies it to domestic protocols, then protocols in regards to immigrants.
A large part of the populist right-wing takes this legal positivist stance regarding immigration and load of other issues, all this being influenced by strong nationalism. The left wing, however, is not exempt from any criticism. They claim to be such great supporters of civil liberties, but support to censorship of websites and organizations that they deem “too extreme” or “too far right”.
I think that the immigration controversy is certainly an issue that has to be addressed properly and is not something that can be solved overnight, but it is fallacious to assess that situation without even assessing what is going on here at home. We can not ignore the ways in which the state is alienating the child from his or her parents, both explicitly and implicitly. If we don’t have a sound foundation of ideas regarding how we, the citizens of the United States ought to be treated, what good is it to try to solve the current controversy. We must treat others in the same way that we want to be treated, and if this doctrine is to be held true, immigrants won’t get treated any better. If anything, this debacle has revealed a plethora of inconsistencies on both the left and right.
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By Craig Axford | United States
Everyone wants to believe their country isn’t headed over the abyss. For Americans in particular, it is an article of faith that the checks and balances enshrined in the Constitution are strong enough to prevent a demagogue from becoming a tyrant.
This faith that the founding fathers anticipated the temptation for leaders to abuse their authority, and adequately guarded against it, has ironically lulled many Americans into a false sense of security. Often we equivocate when we react to rhetoric attacking particular groups or government institutions, reassured by the comforting belief that our system was designed to withstand this kind of abuse.
We’ve seen this sort of behavior in electorates before. In his short treatise entitled On Tyranny, the historian Timothy Snyder quoted at length from an editorial published in a German Jewish newspaper shortly after the election of Adolf Hitler:
We do not subscribe to the view that Mr. Hitler and his friends, now finally in possession of the power they have so long desired, will implement the proposals circulating in [Nazi newspapers]; they will not suddenly deprive German Jews of their constitutional rights, nor enclose them in ghettos, nor subject them to the jealous and murderous impulses of the mob. They cannot do this because a number of crucial factors hold powers in check. . . and they clearly do not want to go down that road. When one acts as a European power, the whole atmosphere tends towards ethical reflection upon one’s better self and away from revisiting one’s earlier oppositional posture.
This rosy assessment of the “check” woven into the fabric of German government and society turned out to be as inaccurate as the following years were tragic.
The quotation from the Jewish newspaper provided above also contains between its lines another assumption people within democratic societies often make. When it comes to our politicians we expect their rhetoric, to at least some degree, to be calculated to appeal to various constituencies. In other words, we think they are just telling certain people what they want to hear in order to get votes. Of course, we usually assume that with us our preferred candidate is being sincere.
Statements that make us uneasy or with which we disagree, however, are either ignored or rationalized as bones thrown to groups that must be won over to win the election. Once in office, we tell ourselves, the candidate will back off and the process of making law will dilute the more toxic proposals advocated on the campaign trail. But, as Germany’s Jewish population learned too late, Hitler and his followers meant every word.
While many prominent and smart German Jews comforted themselves with the false belief that Hitler was equivocating, many of the non-Jewish Germans that went to the polls to vote for him were undoubtedly equivocators. You know the type, or perhaps even are the type. These equivocators say they oppose the racism yelled from the dais, but they think the demagogue spewing it will be good for the economy or will nominate the kind of judges he/she supports to the bench, and so forth. Hitler surely welcomed their support in the election of 1932, just as Trump surely did in 2016. The vote of an equivocator counts just as much as that of a true believer.
After the election of 2016 equivocation became a bipartisan exercise. Republicans who had opposed Trump in the primaries, or even after he received their party’s nomination, and Democrats who had issued the starkest warnings about the consequences of electing him lined up in front of TV cameras and microphones to tell everyone that they wanted the new president to “succeed.” Under the twisted logic that conflates blind loyalty and patriotism, a president’s success equals America’s success, even if that president’s agenda threatens our most cherished institutions. No politician ever wants to seem unpatriotic.
But the success of the country is contingent upon the leadership putting the country’s interest first and foremost. Traditionally, both major parties have been led by people that believed in the process even if they disagreed about how best to use it to achieve maximum benefit for the nation as a whole. Now we have a leader that embraces disruption for its own sake. His entire presidency has been dedicated to eroding the last vestiges of faith Americans still have in their institutions in order to better exploit the office of the presidency for his personal gain. From the very beginning of his administration, no one should have been wishing him success.
The progressive activist Jim Hightower once said, “There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos,” a line that later became the title for one of his books. It’s not impolite or unpatriotic to argue forcefully on behalf of the principles and institutions that have enabled the developed democracies of the world to make it this far. No country or institution is perfect, of course, but Donald Trump and his most strident supporters would take advantage of every mistake and weakness to destroy them rather than improve them.
When the executive branch is exploiting its legal discretion to separate immigrant parents from their children, there’s only one side of the debate standing on firm ethical ground. When a leader dismisses the broad scientific consensus regarding climate change, their point of view is disturbing, not a reason to reconsider our faith in science. When a candidate has been caught on tape bragging about assaulting women, we should be united in our collective disgust instead of rationalizing his comments as “locker room talk.” When a president who took an oath to uphold the Constitution questions the legitimacy of elections and calls the press “an enemy of the people,” we shouldn’t make excuses.
These are the words and actions of a man that must be contained until he can be removed from office. Of course, the Republic may survive this test of its mettle even if all the equivocators out there keep giving cover to the bigots, misogynists and aspiring oligarchs that are finding encouragement in the president’s rhetoric and policies. But can we really risk finding out too late that it was all just too much for our institutions to bear?
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Other recent stories by Craig that you may enjoy:
We all need to ask ourselves the question Sarah Huckabee Sanders refuses to answer
Knowledge Is Asymptotic
Why the relativists and the absolutists are both incorrect (or why I’m tired of reading headlines about science being wrong)
By Jason Patterson | United States
On Wednesday, The Senate Rules Committee of California shocked citizens by appointing the first undocumented resident to a statewide post. According to Senate President Kevin de León’s office, Lizbeth Mateo will now serve on the California Student Opportunity and Access Program Project Grant Advisory Committee.
As an undocumented alien, Lizbeth Mateo is a former attorney and immigrant rights activist, and will now serve on the California Student Opportunity and Access Program Project Grant Advisory Committee.
“While Donald Trump fixates on walls, California will continue to concentrate on opportunities,” de León said in a news release. “Ms. Mateo is a courageous, determined and intelligent young woman who at great personal risk has dedicated herself to fight for those seeking their rightful place in this country.”
In a statement, Mateo said she welcomed the opportunity. “While undocumented students have become more visible in our state, they remain underrepresented in places where decisions that affect them are being made.”
According to de León’s office, Mateo graduated in 2016 from Santa Clara University Law School and also passed the California bar last year.
She was born in Oaxaca, Mexico and came to the United States with her parents when she was 14, according to de León’s office.