Tags: History | Broken | Policies

A History of Broken Policies

Tuesday, 12 June 2007 12:00 AM

Most of you, being of sound mind, would think that with our alleged "leaders" of the executive branch, 100 senators, 435 representatives, a rare wise judge and the passage of scores of years, we could have treated the affliction that now passes for the American healthcare and immigration systems.

Very recent events have demonstrated that our Congress is capable of fixing neither. The system is not broken — it's shattered.

So how did things get so bollixed up?

The standard governmental progression — start with a small post-World War II system — then let it expand like crazy and make sure that attempts at reform (such as the 1986 Immigration Control and Reform Act) just make the problem worse. It also helps the madness when the government refuses to enforce the laws.

There are endless parallels to government healthcare. The same "nothing succeeds like the right kind of failure" approach. Advocates of state medicine, like advocates of unrestricted immigration, not only don't care how much harm they do — they positively intend it as a way of generating crises that the government can "fix."

Consider these as the parallel insanities of our never-ending politico greed and the lust for power.

America has never been a "nation of immigrants." The original settlers were colonists, not immigrants. At the Constitutional Convention and for decades thereafter, the general attitude toward immigrants was welcoming, provided they had skills useful on the frontier. Apparently, few expected large waves, just a steady trickle.

From the 1820s/40s to World War I, immigration came in waves. The first wave was German, from the 20s through the aftermath of the 1848 revolutions in Europe, and they were generally literate, skilled, and accepted. During this same period, the Irish flooded in, both to the U.S. and Canada.

This raised the first question of whether the U.S. would become a haven for the unskilled, illiterate and desperate. The same questions got asked with the late 19th and early 20th century waves of Italians, southeastern Europeans, Russians, and Jews. The arguments in favor of immigration stressed the need for industrial workers and farmers, especially on the frontier (which officially closed in 1890).

The arguments against immigration were primarily cultural and keyed on the big urban ghettos that immigrants had created for themselves.

"Americanization" came to be seen as a two or three generation process, with necessary troughs between waves to do the assimilating. It was understood that while the immigrants themselves would never shed their old ways, their children would and should be more American than the native-born and their children.

Immigration ended suddenly after World War I in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Argentina. The initial impetus was fear of a Bolshevik Russia and Europe sending over millions as fast as the boats could carry them, and thanks to the war, there were plenty of boats available. The restrictive U.S. system was crafted by a series of laws between 1917 and 1934.

The net result was a national quota system based on the census of 1890, limited to 150,000 people yearly, plus literacy and other tests.

After World War II, there began a piecemeal expansion of immigration, at first driven over guilt at not letting in hundreds of thousands of European refugees from Hitler in the latter 30s. The laws authorized entry to "war brides," displaced persons and others, but even in 1952 the yearly total was limited to 1/6 of one percent of the continental US population. National quotas were abolished in 1965 and — splendid example of unintended consequences — there began what's known as "chain immigration," favoring family members of those already admitted.

Immigrants learned to play the system quickly. This plus the creation of a "lottery" for visas had the effect of ramping up legal immigration to the current one million or more each year. Today there are probably 35 million legal immigrants here. Illegal immigration is estimated at 1.5 million/year, with illegal immigrants estimated at 20 million or more. We now take in more immigrants than the rest of the world combined.

So as a nation we are hardly heartless or immoral.

What we see is a failure of politicians to deliver sound and sensible healthcare and immigration policy. The elected are more concerned with their profits, power and prestige than with your health, safety and survival. Now, this is both heartless and immoral.

The results are the insane circle of insanity. Fix it, make it worse and fix it again.

Robert J. Cihak, M.D., is a senior fellow and board member of the Discovery Institute and a past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.


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Most of you, being of sound mind, would think that with our alleged "leaders" of the executive branch, 100 senators, 435 representatives, a rare wise judge and the passage of scores of years, we could have treated the affliction that now passes for the American healthcare...
Tuesday, 12 June 2007 12:00 AM
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