Thursday, September 04, 2003
Talk radio tidbit: Driving in early to work this morning I got the rare opportunity (I'm usually asleep at that hour) to listen to the local talk radio show. I actually got to listen to a lot of the show, because traffic was horrendous (it took me nearly a half-hour just to get onto the freeway).
A caller to the show commented on Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante's performance in last night's debate, specifically his analysis of the net benefits California allegedly receives from illegal immigration. [A transcript of the debate is available here.]
AUDIENCE MEMBER: IS THERE ANY GOVERNMENT PROGRAM OR SERVICE THAT YOU BELIEVE UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS SHOULD NOT RECEIVE?
BUSTAMANTE: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, LET ME ADDRESS THE DRIVERS LICENSE, DRIVERS LICENSE FOR THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE WORKING. BY DEFINITION, A FARMWORKER WORKS.
BY DEFINITION A HOTEL WORKER IS WORKING. WHAT WE ARE DOING IS THAT WE HAVE 70% OF ALL OF THE FOLKS WHO ARE IN AGRICULTURE COME FROM ACROSS THE BORDER. 30% OF CONSTRUCTION COMES FROM THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE COMING ACROSS THE BORDER. WE HAVE A SUBSTANTIAL NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO ARE HERE TODAY WHO ARE WORKING, AND TAKING CARE OF THEIR FAMILIES AND PROVIDING US THE BENEFIT OF THE LABOR. LABOR THAT YOU AND I DO NOT DO, IN FACT, WOULD NOT DO. I KNOW BECAUSE I CAME FROM THOSE AREAS AND THOSE FIELDS IN THE CENTRAL VALLEY. I'VE PICKED COTTON AND I'VE PICKED PEACHES AND DONE THE KIND OF HARD LABOR THAT HAS BEEN OUT THERE IN THOSE FIELDS. YOU KNOW WHAT? I'M GLAD THAT I'M OUT. THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE DOING IT.
I RESPECT THEM FOR THE WORK THAT THEY DO. IF IT TAKES A DRIVERS LICENSE FOR THEM TO GET TO WORK, TO TAKE CARE OF THEIR FAMILIES, GET THEIR KIDS TO SCHOOL AND TAKE CARE OF THE SENIORS, LET THEM GO TO SOME KIND OF A DOCTORS APPOINTMENT, I'M FOR GIVING THEM A DRIVERS LICENSE.
SHANDOBIL: I DO NOT THINK THAT YOU DIRECTLY ANSWERED THE QUESTION, WHICH WAS ARE THERE ANY SERVICES THAT YOU WOULD DENY?
BUSTAMANTE: I WOULD SAY THAT THERE ARE A LOT OF SERVICES THAT ARE GIVEN TO CITIZENS THAT CLEARLY ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR THOSE WHO ARE HERE ILLEGALLY. BUT FOR THE BASIC NEEDS, FOR SOMEONE WHO GETS INJURED, I MEAN IN AGRICULTURE IT IS A VERY DANGEROUS JOB, IN CONSTRUCTION IT IS DANGEROUS, IF SOMEONE IS WORKING AND THEY ARE PROVIDING US THE OPPORTUNITY, THE FRUITS OF THEIR LABOR, AND THEY GET HURT, I THINK THEY SHOULD BE RECEIVING EMERGENCY MEDICAL CARE. I THINK THEY SHOULD BE ELIGIBLE TO HAVE THEIR CHILDREN GO AND GET A GOOD EDUCATION. THEY ARE HERE, PAYING TAXES. EVERYTHING THAT WE'VE SEEN THEY PAY $1,400 MORE A YEAR THAN THEY GET BACK ON ASSISTANCE.
So, if poorly paid illegal immigrants are a net plus to the government to the tune of $1,400 (per worker? or all of them together?), and certainly the rich are a net plus. And if the poor are a net plus, then the middle class is certainly a net plus.
So, if we've got all these "pluses," then why is there a budget crisis and why is Bustamante proposing to raise taxes?