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Olly olly in free

By Jack J. Woehr
web posted January 19, 2004

President GeorgeW. Bush probably doesn't know who King Canute was, but nonetheless he is determined not to follow Canute's example. King Canute confounded his flatterers by ordering his throne to be set up at the seashore, where he commanded the tide to recede. Time and tide proverbially waiting for no man, the tide duly rose, right up to Canute's neck, and his flatterers took their admonishment, as well as carrying the somewhat wetter and heavier throne back to court on their backs. Bush, wisely, is not bucking the tide: he's ready to call "olly-olly-in-free" to our Mexican guest workers.

My U.S. representative, the Hon. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo) , on the other hand still believes that the undocumented Mexican workers who have made themselves a mainstay of the economy of the United States can be successfully rounded up and deported and the border sealed. (See Bush amnesty irks Tancredo in the Denver Rocky Mountain News). With some ten millions in this country at the best current guesstimate, it's hard to see how mass deportation is practical. With due process, we could deport maybe 10,000 a month if we diverted a few billions of dollars more in that direction. It would take a long time to send home ten million souls at that rate, with more coming all the time, by land or by sea if we build a wall to the south.

President Bush is correct. It's time to admit that the tide has come in. Besides, to this American Libertarian, it just makes sense. After all, immigration is the hydraulic pump which has provided our nation's upward social mobility over two centuries.

I've suggested this online, that immigration actually drives the rest of us upward. This assertion has infuriated my ostensibly liberal correspondents, in whose hands Liberalism has gone from being a progressive philosophy of internationalist inclusion to a populist-nativist reaction against internationalism. But it's true nonetheless that immigration is the engine of America's greatness. Here's how it works:

Wave after wave of immigrants come to the United States seeking freedom from oppression and economic opportunity. They labor for slave wages. Their labor produces wealth, from which others derive greater benefit than those whose hands perform the work. Mexican guest workers harvest our crops, build our houses and roads, clean our workplaces. If you don't directly make a profit on their labor, you do business with someone who does. Despite the dislocation and displacement of individual native workers and classes of native workers, overall the ship of our economy floats higher as wealth generated by labor accumulates in that common pool of opportunity that is the American economy.

I support Pres. Bush's initiative. I doubt his motivations are angellically pure; certainly he hopes to derive (gasp!) some political benefit from it. But the primary beneficiary so far seems to be the ever-problematic USA-Mexico relationship, which could use some soothing and has duly received some in the form of the president's intiative regarding Mexican guest workers.

Admittedly, one is free to argue that the program as proposed would contain certain unfair elements; it's hardly a shocking statement to suggest that the current administration favors big business over the little guy. All this can be worked out in the U.S. Congress. The alternative of allowing the once-progressive and now dyed-in-the-wool reactionary labor unions championing a modern racial exculsionism disguised as progressivism to roadblock the normalization of the status of Mexican guest workers will merely result in an elevation of the crisis. That current crisis already has taken on ugly overtones, with vigilantes in Arizona "patrolling" the borders and with increasingly shrill and dangerous proposals emanating from politicians of Mr. Tancredo's persuasion.

It's time to normalize Mexican guest worker status before the populist-nativists and "liberals" completely panic and move on to Serbian-style ethnic cleansing. Because that's really the only alternative to admitting that the tide has come in and that the Mexican guest workers and their families, all ten million of them, are here to stay.

Jack J. Woehr of Fairmount, Colorado, doesn't quite understand how he went from being the Jefferson County, Colorado Democrats' Harold Stassen to becoming an official of the Jefferson County Libertarian Party , but he's happy he did. 

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