Skip to main content

On immigration and Big Government, I was wrong. Unfortunately.

The other day I suggested that conservatives who really want to beef up enforcement against illegal immigration would have to live with a bigger and more expensive federal bureaucracy. I've been proven wrong by this morning's New York Times story about private companies that basically do the work of immigration enforcement for countries around the world.

The really infuriating parts of the story will be familiar to anyone who has critiqued the privatizing of prisons in the United States: The illegal immigrants who are placed in the care of these private companies are often treated like cattle—with the problem being that ranchers generally want their herd to survive. The Times documents a number of cases where immigrants died or were badly injured while in the custody of the private companies. When that happens, companies are punished by ... losing contracts. The problem: Contracts are plentiful, and companies find it easy to replace the lost income. The profit motive works only to attract big companies to profit—not to ensure that they do the job correctly. We should ask ourselves about whether society benefits when the people carrying out the work of the taxpayers are more accountable to their shareholders.

Also disturbing, to me at least, is the way the story illustrates a bizarre disconnect. While workers are largely confined to their countries of origin—or face life-threatening detention—the companies that imprison them can span the globe. The Times: "G4S delivers cash to banks on most continents, runs airport security in 80 countries and has 1,500 employees in immigration enforcement in Britain, the Netherlands and the United States, where its services include escorting illegal border-crossers back to Mexico for the Department of Homeland Security." 

Not to sound all Marxist about it, but: There are no borders for Big Business. Only for people. That should trouble lovers of individual liberty—if not the corporate shills who masquerade as such.


Comments

Monkey RobbL said…
I don't necessarily disagree with your conclusion about what motivates business. However, I have to ask: What, do you suppose, motivates government agent to do a good job? What do they lose when they screw up? If history is any indication, individual perpetrators don't even lose their jobs, and the agency certainly doesn't "lose the contract." So what motivates a bureaucrat or government law-enforcement officer to do the right thing?
Joel said…
I'd argue that there's closer—not ultimately close, but closer—accountability between government reps and voters than there is between business reps and voters.

They're both big, ugly institutions. But one is accountable to me, to some extent. The other isn't. That makes a difference to me.
namefromthepast said…
Joel, you surely can't be serious that there is a closer accountability between gov't reps and voters than between business and customers.

Maybe you were just joking?? I laughed out loud either way.
Joel said…
Name: Read the comment again.

Popular posts from this blog

Yoga

I've been making some life changes lately — trying to use the time I have, now that I'm back in Kansas, to improve my health and lifestyle. Among the changes: More exercise. 30 minutes a day on the treadmill. Doesn't sound like a lot, but some is more than none, and I know from experience that getting overambitious early leads to failure. So. Thirty minutes a day.

One other thing: Yoga, a couple of times a week. It's nothing huge — a 15-minute flexibility routine downloaded from an iPhone app. But I've noticed that I'm increasingly limber.

Tonight, friends, I noticed a piece of trash on the floor. I bent over at the waist and picked it up, and threw it away.

Then I wept. I literally could not remember the last time I'd tried to pick something off the floor without grunting and bracing myself. I just did it.

Small victories, people. Small victories.

Liberals: We're overthinking this. Hillary didn't lose. This is what it should mean.

Interesting:
Nate Cohn of the New York Times estimates that when every vote is tallied, some 63.4 million Americans will have voted for Clinton and 61.2 million for Trump. That means Clinton will have turned out more supporters than any presidential candidate in history except for Obama in 2008 and 2012. And as David Wasserman of Cook Political Report notes, the total vote count—including third party votes—has already crossed 127 million, and will “easily beat” the 129 million total from 2012. The idea that voters stayed home in 2016 because they hated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is a myth. We already know the Electoral College can produce undemocratic results, but what we don't know is why — aside from how it serves entrenched interests — it benefits the American people to have their preference for national executive overturned because of archaic rules designed, in part, to protect the institution of slavery. 

A form of choosing the national leader that — as has happened in …

I'm not cutting off my pro-Trump friends

Here and there on Facebook, I've seen a few of my friends declare they no longer wish the friendship of Trump supporters — and vowing to cut them out of their social media lives entirely.

I'm not going to do that.

To cut ourselves off from people who have made what we think was a grievous error in their vote is to give up on persuading them, to give up on understanding why they voted, to give up on understanding them in any but the most cartoonish stereotypes.

As a matter of idealism, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on democracy. As a matter of tactics, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on ever again winning in a democratic process.

And as a long-term issues, confining ourselves to echo chambers is part of our national problem.

Don't get me wrong: I expect a Trumpian presidency is a disaster, particularly for people of color. And in total honesty: My own relationships have been tested by this campaign season. There's probably some damage…