Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Unintended consequences of E-Verify?

Government surveillance and control of citizens in this country is something I have written about many times in this space, and something with which we should all be very concerned. It is not a trivial matter. Every infringement on our personal freedom means that we are that much less free.

Totalitarian states tend not to assume all power and hand it to a central authority all at once. More often, liberty is steadily chipped away, always with some “good” reason for prohibiting this or requiring that. And citizens go along because “it’s a small thing,” or because “I don’t mind cooperating with that if it makes us all safer,” or because they’re frozen by either fear or apathy… until one day they wake up and find themselves living in a cage – a totalitarian state.

The process has been on the move here in the US for decades now. Slowly, the police and politicians – backed by a shamefully spineless judiciary – have eviscerated a Bill of Rights that was once our crowning glory, a watershed document in human history that marked a turning away from the absolute rule of an elite and toward individual freedom. Now, sadly, we’re turning back.

There’s far too little space here to go into all the assaults that have been launched against our rights, both those specifically enshrined in the Constitution and other derivative rights that have become firmly entrenched over time. Let’s just examine the latest chapter in this sorry story: the debate over the E-Verify system.

Americans are a people apt to change their lives at any moment. We are free to work wherever and for whomever we choose. We can move to a different state, take a new job, or start a business and hire our own employees. The right to make what one wishes of one’s life is assumed, never really questioned.

Increasingly, this right is banging up against the desire of the state for more centralized control over the working population. And the state now has the perfect excuse to trigger that tightening: illegal immigration.

This issue is has become a hot political flashpoint, with passions running high over how to deal with the situation. One suggestion comes in the form of HR 2885, the Legal Workforce Act.

HR 2885, introduced in the House by the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) in June, sets the stupefying goal of verifying the identity of every job-seeker in the US. Let’s put that another way. If you apply for a job in the US, you will not be hired until you get a government stamp of approval.

Here’s how Smith would like it to work: The new law would require all employers to submit potential employees’ names, Social Security numbers, and such other data as the government may find pertinent to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for authorization before an employee can start work. The data would then be vetted by E-Verify, a government-run database and employment identification verification system.

It’s impossible to overstate how deeply misguided this proposal is, nor in how many ways; that’s true no matter whether you think we should embrace undocumented aliens with open arms or believe they should all be shot. To have introduced it into an economy struggling to stay afloat is a near-criminal act.

To take the most obvious point first, job creation is a top priority in the country today. All politicians at least pay lip service to the need. Whether lawmakers can actually do anything to create jobs is debatable, but one thing is certain: It can destroy them. And that’s exactly what HR 2885 is – job killing legislation.

It manages to stifle job growth on two fronts. On one hand is the business owner, already staggering under a mountain of regulations. The additional cost of compliance this new law would impose will be the straw that breaks many an entrepreneurial back. Small companies will go bust.

On the other hand, there is the potential employee, perhaps desperate for work. Now he or she will have to wait for the bureaucratic wheels to grind (as will the employer eager to hire). What if there’s a tiny glitch in the process? Worse, what if the database has incorrect information on the applicant? Then the real nightmare begins.

Of course, there is one place where new jobs will be created: Washington, D.C. The bill will necessitate a whole new – and rather large – division of DHS to handle the workload. But anyone who reads the Daily Dispatch already knows how we feel about expanding the federal payroll.

Then, beyond the immediate practical considerations, there are any number of larger questions. For example, under what authority does the federal government think it can bestow upon itself the role of ultimate arbiter as to who does and doesn’t get hired by private businesses?

Additionally, many liberty lovers see this move as merely a back-door way of establishing what many in power really want – a universal surveillance database – to be followed soon by a national ID card (though the bill has a disclaimer on this). That database will likely not stop with name and SSN, but can be expected to expand to include fingerprints, retinal scans, and probably DNA descriptors.

It’s also a certainty that there will be mission creep. There always is. Private-sector employers will evolve into extensions of the government… a vast, national police force, if you will. It’s not much of a leap to see them eventually tasked with verifying whether employees are delinquent in the payment of federal, state or local taxes, in compliance with child support or alimony decrees, on a terrorist watch list, or convicted or even accused of a crime.

Originally, HR 2885 had a prohibition against using the E-Verify database for anything other than employment verification, but that was replaced by a new section allowing it to be used to “protect critical infrastructure.” That could affect everything from your right to fly to your ability to access public buildings... not to mention that the information is sure to be shared throughout the law enforcement and intelligence communities.

Luckily, some substantial pushback has developed against HR 2885. Opposition is coming from within the GOP, among border-state governors and legislators, and from citizens across the political spectrum, from liberal immigration-rights groups and the ACLU to Tea Partiers.

However, whether the opposition is strong enough to counter politicians’ desire to curry votes with the stridently anti-immigrant crowd remains to be seen. The only certainty is that if this bill becomes law, it will radically change the way business is done in the US…. for the worse.



Looking back: Obama’s fatal missteps

It might be too early to start analyzing what went wrong with the Obama administration in its first three years, but I am going to do it anyway.

Here are seven turning points that led to the president’s decline and fall, seven places where Obama or his Democratic allies made critical errors that forever altered the course of his presidency. He hasn’t done everything wrong, but he has made enough mistakes to make his reelection extraordinarily difficult.

1. Failed to veto the initial stimulus package: Imagine for a moment if Obama had vetoed that initial stimulus package. Imagine if he insisted that Democratic leaders take out all the pork and cleanse the bill of unworthy projects. Imagine if he had insisted that congressional Democrats work with Republicans to include their ideas, because we are all in this together. He would have immediately branded himself as a different kind of president, as someone above the fray, as a leader who cares first about the country, not the Democratic Party. And if he had done that, he would have had the Republicans hopelessly divided. Of course, he didn’t take that step, congressional Democrats were able to walk all over him and Republicans stiffened up their resolve and presented a united front against the president and his plans.

2. Let Nancy Pelosi move cap-and-trade first: The then-Speaker insisted that the House move on an environmental bill that had absolutely no chance of becoming law. She made vulnerable Democrats walk the line on this bill that the energy sector successfully branded as a new tax on energy, and when the president needed many of those members to vote with him on healthcare, they simply couldn’t. It was an unnecessary and silly waste of political capital.

3. Called the cop stupid: At a press conference called to push his healthcare law, the president took the bait offered in a question from Lynn Sweet, the Chicago Sun-Times reporter, and opined on an incident involving a Boston-area police officer and Obama’s own friend, Skip Gates. He said that Sgt. Crowley acted “stupidly,” and created a firestorm that forever alienated white ethnic voters. He tried to recover with a beer summit, but the damage was done. The week before the president rose high in the polls, but after the Beer Summit, his rating steadily declined.

4. Failed to bring the Olympics home to Chicago: When the president hurriedly jetted off to Oslo to lobby the International Olympic Committee, he raised the stakes for America and for his own personal credibility. After all, Obama was elected ostensibly because he proved to be such a popular figure overseas. Well, the president’s personal charm didn’t pay off, and the Olympics went to Brazil. Coming home empty-handed proved to be a deep embarrassment.

5. Signed an extension of President Bush’s tax cuts: After campaigning against and complaining about George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, Obama meekly signed a two-year extension of those same tax cuts. By reversing course, Obama did three things. He exposed himself as a man who will blink when put to the test. He made the deficit situation much worse. He has not in any way, shape or form put himself in a stronger rhetorical position for his reelection. He is making the same ineffective arguments that he made last year, and it will likely yield the same result.

6. Signed ObamaCare: By pushing through an ungainly and unpopular healthcare law, with little if any support from the opposition party, the president gained little traction politically, and put his allies in the worst possible position on Capitol Hill. In fact, the anger stoked by passage of the bill led to one of the largest repudiations of any president, in the midterm elections of 2010.

7. Brought David Plouffe in-house: The president is now is full campaign mode, as evidenced by the fact that his top campaign person is now running the White House. It is clear that Plouffe, a hard-nosed partisan, is in charge, and not the more pragmatic chief of staff, Bill Daley, because the president has taken a hard turn to the left to energize his despondent base. But Obama is the incumbent, not the challenger. His job should be to first fix the country and then worry about the campaign later. Good policy translates into good politics.

President Obama might make a remarkable comeback if the economy suddenly roars back to life and he somehow governs as a centrist. But right now, that doesn’t seem very likely. When the history is written about what went wrong, these seven turning points are a good place to start looking.



Class war relies on a stack of lies

Deroy Murdock

It’s official: America is at class war, and President Barack Obama proudly leads the charge against this country’s wealthy.

“If asking a millionaire to pay the same tax rate as a plumber makes me a class warrior -- a warrior for the working class -- I will accept that,” Obama shouted Tuesday at Denver’s Abraham Lincoln High School. “I will wear that charge as a badge of honor. Middle-class families shouldn’t pay higher tax rates than millionaires and billionaires. A teacher or a nurse or a construction worker making $50,000 a year shouldn’t pay higher tax rates than somebody making $50 million.”

Obama’s assault on the affluent rests upon a sky-high stack of lies. Obama is too well staffed and too well informed not to know otherwise. So, maddeningly, he straight-out lies to the American people.

For days before Obama opened his mouth in Denver, multiple news accounts and opinion pieces annihilated the casus belli of his War on the Wealthy. Nonetheless, Obama keeps spouting falsehoods, perhaps hoping that his smooth voice will hypnotize Americans into believing his words.

“Fact check: The wealthy already pay more taxes,” read the headline above a September 20 Associated Press. “President Obama says he wants to make sure millionaires are taxed at higher rates than their secretaries,” Stephen Ohlemacher wrote. “The data say they already are.”

Nationwide, Ohlemacher and others dismantled Obama’s soak-the-rich thesis. The rich are soaked today.

In 2008, its latest data indicate, the Internal Revenue Service harvested $1.0315 trillion in income tax -- of which the top 10 percent of earners paid $721.4 billion. The top 5 percent shelled out another $605.7 billion, and the top 1 percent relinquished $392.15 billion. Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent collectively paid just $27.9 billion. Thus, the top 1 percent of taxpayers furnished 14 times the income taxes that the bottom half of filers supplied.

In 2009, the IRS reports, those who made at least $1 million average 24.4 percent of adjusted gross income in federal income taxes. Those who scored $200,000 to $300,000 paid 17.5 percent. Between $100,000 and $125,000: 9.9 percent. From $50,000 to $60,000: 6.3 percent. Those who earned between $20,000 and $30,000 saw income taxes devour 2.5 percent of AGI.

Income, schmincome, Leftists chirp. What about payroll taxes that lower-income Americans pay? Counting other taxes still shows that higher earners pay more, Obama’s dark fantasies notwithstanding.

The Tax Policy Center -- a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution -- reported August 24 that Americans who receive $1 million or more will average 29.1 percent of earnings in 2011 federal income, payroll, corporate, and death taxes. Those clearing between $50,000 and $75,000 will pay 15 percent, while those from $40,000 to $50,000 will average 12.5 percent. Those federal taxes will extract 5.7 percent from earners between $20,000 and $30,000.

Dry? Yes. But these figures demonstrate that Americans who earn more money pay more federal tax. Those who see less pay less. If Obama finds this unfair, he should define fairness.

True, the IRS notes, 1,470 households produced at least $1 million but paid no federal income tax in 2009. Still, this is just 0.62 percent of the 236,883 returns that millionaires filed. This reinforces the bipartisan idea of closing loopholes and lowering tax rates -- but not Obama’s crusade against “millionaires and billionaires” and his American Jobs Act’s tax hikes on people earning as little as $200,000.

When Obama accepted the 2008 Democratic nomination in Denver, he espoused national unity. The USA would “come together as one American family,” he declared. The nearby Continental Divide might become this republic’s only rift, if Barack Obama secured the presidency.

How disappointing that the eloquent man who millions hoped would heal this land now actively pits Americans against each other -- not by race or creed, but by income. As London’s arson-scorched victims of mob rule learned last August, there is nothing cute about class war.



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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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