Column by Paul Hein.
Exclusive to STR
I like to go out to eat. Three or four times a month my wife and I--usually on the spur of the moment--will decide to go out to lunch at a neighborhood restaurant. We are lucky to have several quite close to home that serve excellent food.
It’s not only the food that I enjoy. I marvel at the snippets of conversation I overhear from other diners. The things you can learn! Today I heard snatches of conversation about human cells, microbes, viruses, etc., that I had never learned in medical school!
What was especially interesting, however, was the indignation expressed by a gentlemen at an adjoining table about the problem of illegal aliens. At least I assume, from what I caught of his remarks, that he regarded illegal aliens as a problem. And that problem was that “as soon as they step across the border, they can get benefits.” I heard the words “medical benefits” before our food arrived; subsequently I devoted myself to dining rather than listening. (Did you ever have a tilapia Reuben? You wouldn’t believe how good it is!)
From the comparative silence that followed his remarks, I gathered that his fellow diners were in agreement with him. Indeed, many, if not most, Americans are of a similar opinion. It puzzles me.
It seems to me that there are only two possibilities: Either you accept the premise that the rulers are entitled to seize your money and give it to various strangers, or you do not. If you accept that premise, as many Americans do, then what difference does it make if your money ends up in a foreigner’s pocket, or an American’s? Conversely, if you do not agree that it is proper for your money to be seized and given to strangers, then what difference does it make, when it IS seized, if it’s given to foreign strangers or American strangers?
If a mugger pops out of an alleyway and demands your wallet, are you less offended if the robber is an American than if he has a foreign accent? Are you somehow less robbed if the crook is a good old boy from the neighborhood? Is your financial loss any greater if the mugger is wearing a turban and djellabah? Would you feel better knowing that your money is going to a “legal” New Mexican instead of an “illegal” Mexican? Why?
There is another aspect to the illegal alien “problem” that is evidently too preposterous to be mentioned in any serious discussion. And that is this: If it is outrageous that illegal aliens are receiving benefits (by the way, if the illegal alien becomes a legal alien, does it lessen the benefits he will receive?) then why not consider--gasp!!--doing away with the benefits? If thieves regularly broke into your house and made away with the silverware, wouldn’t you put up a fence, beef up the locks, and hide the silver? Or would you do nothing but wring your hands and bemoan the injustice of it all? (And would the nationality of the thieves be a concern to you?) One might reasonably assume that if “illegal aliens” are flocking across the border to secure generous perks, and that these aliens post a problem, then the solution might be to discontinue those very perks which enticed them here in the first place. I don’t recall any politician recommending that, although I admit to spending little time listening to politicians.
Once you set foot on the wrong path, it IS possible to turn around and retrace your steps. In the realm of politics, however, that never seems to happen.