Guns and Abortion

The US Constitution protects both the right to bear arms and the right of women to an abortion. But despite similar constitutional protections, governments at both state and federal levels have erected numerous laws determining whether, when and under what circumstances a woman may obtain an abortion. Just as the Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion, 32 states and the District of Columbia prohibit the use of state funds for an abortion except where the woman’s life is in danger or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. Forty-one states prohibit abortions after a specified point in the pregnancy, often fetal viability, except when necessary to protect the woman’s life or health. Arkansas sports the most restrictive law, allowing women to exercise their constitutional right only through the 6th week of pregnancy. Forty-six states allow individual health care providers to refuse to participate in an abortion, while 43 states allow institutions to refuse to perform abortions. Twenty-six states require a woman seeking an abortion to wait a specified period of time, usually 24 hours, between when she receives counseling and the procedure is performed. Nine of these states have laws that effectively require the woman to make two separate trips to the clinic to obtain the procedure. Some have gone so far as to suggest requiring invasive and unnecessary procedures, from vaginal ultrasounds to complete hospital conditions for abortion clinics.

Rather than trying to persuade women not to get an abortion, once the main approach of pro-lifers, thus curtailing demand based on a moral argument, the current approach seeks to use laws and regulations to restrict the supply of abortion and make it exceedingly difficult for women to exercise their legal right. Apparently, laws are so restrictive in the state of Mississippi that only one abortion clinic operates in the state. But it is not clear whether such restrictions will prevent women who want an abortion from actually getting one; instead, as Chris Matthews recently noted, it may just be punishing them by increasing the costs in terms of time, money, and inconvenience for exercising their constitutional right.

In a somewhat similar manner, despite the constitutional protection to bear arms, government restricts the right to guns. Felons cannot buy guns legally, and sales of certain types of weapons are banned. But the differences here far outweigh the similarities. The limitations on this constitutional provision are relatively few.  Generally, guns are much easier to obtain than abortions, not just in Mississippi but throughout the country. The restrictions on the suppliers are limited (hence gun shows), and buyers are not harassed with invasive probes.

Interestingly, many of those who support using the law to limit the constitutional right to an abortion oppose any similar use of the law to restrict the constitutional right to bear arms. Their opposition to abortion is built on moral grounds, which is certainly understandable and defensible, but their opposition to more restrictive gun laws rests on the constitutional provision. Opposition to: thorough background checks, a ban on certain sized magazines or assault weapons, registration of guns, liability insurance for gun owners, certified training for gun owners, stricter laws to prevent the unauthorized sale of guns, penalties for selling guns to terrorists, etc. are vehemently opposed by many precisely because it violates the 2nd amendment to the Constitution. Of course, such laws would not ban the right of citizens to own a gun, but would merely provide legal parameters for exercising that constitutional right. In that the great majority of gun owners are law-abiding citizens, then they should not fear any of these restrictions. Many politicians and the NRA leadership, of course, oppose many if not all of these measures simply because they limit the constitutional right, and because of some teleological insight that this is the first step in repealing the second amendment. Of course, no one has suggested that it be repealed (I do – see the subsequent blog). And yet many of these same politicians have no problem whatsoever with limiting a women’s constitutional right to privacy.

If protecting a constitutional right is the foundation for the argument to oppose gun laws, then why is it not a compelling argument against laws limiting the right of women to exercise their right to an abortion? How can you support limitations to a constitutional right in one case, but oppose it in another? If the moral argument trumps the constitutional right on the abortion issue, then consistency demands that you frame your opposition to gun laws on moral grounds. So what is the moral argument against banning assault weapons?

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Repeal the Second Amendment

Repeal the second amendment to the US Constitution. I know this would never happen in the US, but I seriously doubt many counties in the world would vote today to include in their constitution a sweeping amendment granting citizens the right to bear arms. If it were not in the US Constitution, would it be possible today to acquire the 2/3 majorities in both houses and ¾ of the states to put it in?

Most arguments against gun control are rooted in the constitutional protection. Opposition to: thorough background checks, a ban on certain sized magazines or assault weapons, registration of guns, liability insurance for gun owners, certified training for gun owners, stricter laws to prevent the unauthorized sale of guns, penalties for selling guns to terrorists, etc. are vehemently opposed by many because it violates the 2nd amendment to the Constitution. In many ways then, the second amendment gives opponents the upper hand in the argument and weakens that of supporters of gun control.

Obviously absent the second amendment, opponents to gun control would have to ground their argument on something else. They might employ some sort of moral argument about the right to property (worked for slavery for a while) or to defend oneself (which is not the moral argument in the Constitution) or for a well-regulated militia to protect the country (which is the argument in the Constitution) or for the pursuit of happiness through sport (how about a constitutional protection to own other sporting goods?). They might employ a more instrumentalist argument about how guns make us safer (or at least feel safer), reduce crime, or help secure food for the table. Either way, removing the second amendment fundamentally alters the debate and changes the owning of guns from a constituted right to a privilege.

Repealing the second amendment does not mean that our society cannot allow for possession of arms. After all, we have legal access to plenty of things that are not spelled out in the constitution, like an education, a driver’s license, to pick up and move whenever and wherever we want (except Cuba), or to other sporting goods. Repealing the second amendment does not mean banning guns, but it would remove an anachronistic freedom that has been totally taken out of context, distorted the political debate, and contributed to all sorts of societal problems. Without the constitutional protection, we could more easily promote disarmament, so that guns are used to shot targets or by hunters to kill animals raised for that purpose, but not people. Repealing the second amendment would not mean that law enforcement could not carry guns. Especially given the fact that millions of guns are out there available to criminals, police need that protection. Repealing the second amendment would not even mean that people could not have a gun in their home for protection, if indeed that makes them feel safer.

To reiterate, repealing the second amendment simply transforms bearing arms from a right to a privilege granted by a democratic society. When opponents argue that such a move would be the first step to banning guns, they seem to forget that the banning of guns (the supposed next step in their imagined scenario) would also be a matter for debate, political negotiation, and resolution within society. Government cannot just take anyone’s guns without a law that allows them to do so. And repealing the second amendment would in no way alter other parts of the Constitution that states how laws are debated, passed, or implemented, or how conflicts are adjudicated. To the paranoid response that without my gun the government can do anything it wants, well your gun has very little impact on decisions about what the government can and cannot do. To my knowledge, despite the second amendment, guns are not permitted in the halls of Congress or State legislatures, or in the courts, or in the offices of the bureaucracies where governments make decisions. The fact that the government requires me to get a license to drive (and periodically renew it even) does not create a fear that they will soon eliminate my right to drive a car.

When some suggested a constitutional amendment essentially banning gay marriage, it was noted that the Constitution had never been used to limit or restrict freedom. The Constitution has always sought to broaden our freedoms, not limit them. Yet one could easily argue that it is the proliferation of guns in our society that restricts freedom rather than nurtures it, borrowing, I believe, from Montesquieu.

If guns made us safer, then we would be the safest society in the world. If guns prevented crime, then we would have lower crime rates than countries that have fewer guns. But neither of those hypotheses is true. To borrow from international relations theory, the second amendment has created a classic security dilemma. Many people feel unsafe because of the proliferation of guns and thus feel the need to purchase a gun. This in turn feeds the sense of insecurity within society. Indeed, the second amendment not only allows people to possess guns, but it may have encouraged people to buy guns over the years.

To play a bit longer in this fantasy land — Not only should we repeal the second amendment and use legislation to try to better manage the sale and use of guns, but we should also promote domestic non-proliferation and even begin a process of changing the culture to reduce the demand for guns. But like repealing the second amendment, that is a tall order. Guns represent a certain narrative about power embedded in US culture: a narrative about power that finds perhaps its greatest expression in the projection of US power and hegemony in the world. The US has a long history of the use of war as an instrument of foreign policy. It is arguably no coincidence that the US is the country with the most guns per capita and the largest military in the world. In fact, we are well ahead of other countries on both counts. At home and abroad our weapons are for defense, but they also get used often to resolve differences. And suggesting limitations on gun ownership often triggers the same reaction as when suggesting steep cuts in military spending.

We know that those who constituted power were fallible. They were historic figures and figures shaped by their history and circumstances. So why should the views of the unelected, unrepresentative and unaccountable founding fathers outweigh the views of contemporary society? We have done it before. The 21st amendment repealed the 18th amendment (I’ll drink to that), the 14th amendment repealed the constitutional protection allowing for slavery for over 70 years, and the 17th amendment repealed sections of Article 1 regarding the elections of senators.

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Creating Jobs, Privileging Business: But Do Businesses Really Create Jobs?

We hear it often that business creates jobs: a notion that seems to go largely unquestioned. Virtually all politicians and pundits accept this basic causal reasoning and from this posture offer countless suggestions regarding appropriate policies. Indeed, this simple notion attaches to a whole range of issues and ideas, of ways of doing politics, and more. The idea that businesses create jobs raises certain questions. If we go so far as to reject this proposition outright, however, it opens up a whole different manner of viewing politics and treating problems like unemployment.

First the questions that help reveal the underlying or hidden tendencies. In a very simplistic sense, of course, businesses do create jobs since many people work for business. This is true, but incomplete, telling only part of the story. Governments also create jobs as do non-profits and organizations that we would not really consider ‘business.’ But why should someone working as a teacher, a cop, a soldier, a staffer at a community organization, or even a doctor not count the same as someone working at Wal-Mart or Starbucks just because the latter are businesses? If only businesses create jobs, then who created those other jobs? By this logic, I suppose, laying- off 100,000 teachers should have no impact on the employment picture since again governments do not create jobs. Of course, some may contend that only businesses create “productive” jobs, but this seems to refer solely to manufacturing or even agricultural jobs, which is a very small portion of our labor market. So if jobs come from different sources other than business, why privilege business in our thinking about the sources of jobs and exclude others?

The mantra that business creates jobs raises even more fundamental questions crystallized by the current electoral races. If businesses create jobs, then why does everyone blame the government for unemployment? Should we not blame business? If there is widespread unemployment and businesses create jobs, then apparently they are not creating enough jobs. Ironically, Democrats and particularly Republicans, who strongly embrace the pro-business position encapsulated in “business creates jobs,” run on a platform of creating jobs. But if businesses and not government create jobs – according to the prevailing logic – then why would you even want to go into government for the purposing of creating jobs: the top issue in this campaign? Since most politicians are also business people, then why not just create jobs from their privileged location where jobs are created: business. Again this is particularly strange and ironic to hear coming from Republicans who a) blame the government for unemployment, b) turnaround and argue that businesses create jobs, and then c) clamor to take control of the government in the name of creating jobs.

Accepting the causal logic that businesses create jobs, of course, leads to the question: why don’t they? The argument usually heard from politicians and pundits is that government – which really does not create jobs according to this narrative – gets in the way of business and thus prevents them from creating jobs. According to this viewpoint, government – which cannot create jobs — must create the conditions conducive for business to do their thing and create jobs. Of course any good analyst immediately recognizes within this explanation that the government in fact does ‘create’ jobs by conditioning the ability of business to create jobs, but that is a different sort of contention than I wish to pursue here.

An alternative explanation often heard why businesses are not creating jobs is because there is no demand. Businesses need customers. And as everyone knows, during a recession demand falls, inventories become bloated, businesses face declining revenue, and lay-off workers. But from this vantage point, businesses do not really create jobs, demand creates jobs.

The difference between the two views — businesses create jobs versus demand creates jobs — may seem trivial and even semantic, but the policy implications and even ideological underpinnings are vastly different. If we accept the notion that businesses create jobs, then we pursue policies that privilege and favor business. This includes tax breaks for business and the wealthy who run the businesses and invest, subsidies, privatization or government out-sourcing, and deregulation, to name a few. Or to put it in Republican terms, policies that get the government off the backs of business. Since jobs are important – a point everyone tends to agree on – and given that businesses create jobs, then such pro-business policies become priorities, prompting politicians to compete against one another to prove their pro-business credentials.  

If, however, we accept the notion that demand creates jobs rather than business, then we must ask why demand is low. This invariably leads us to focus on different factors like incomes, wages, poverty, the struggles of ordinary families to make ends meet, and the distribution of income and wealth. If we look into these areas what we find, as described in detail in the recent works of Robert Reich and Ariana Hunffington, is a pattern of rising inequality. Indeed, the share of income going to the middle and working class in recent decades has fallen. Working class families have struggled amidst declining or stagnant real wages with many leveraging their only asset, their home, to borrow to make ends meet. But that panacea of cheap money to sustain consumer spending is over and demand has plummeted. Meanwhile, the share of income going to the richest segments of the population has skyrocketed while their tax burden has fallen. Not since the 1920s has the share of income going to the wealthiest 1% of the population been so great. Never has their tax burden been so light.

Accepting that demand fuels the creation of jobs, of course, leads to a different policy approach than if we start with the notion that businesses create jobs. Rather than designing policies that favor business, policies targeting demand would favor middle and working class individuals and force us to come face to face with the needs to redistribute income and/or engage in stimulus spending to bolster demand. But not in an ideologically naïve way like most politicians – arguing that they represent the middle and working class and then contend that the best way to help the middle class is to favor big business. Instead, policies would focus on taxing the wealthy to the levels of the past, favoring workers and wage increases, and even subsidizing demand rather than supply. 

Those touting the notion that businesses create jobs and hence favoring pro-business policies would surely scream “class warfare” at this point. But their approach and viewpoint is equally class-oriented: it just favors the business class. If calling for a redistribution of income downward constitutes “class warfare,” then surely promoting policies that redistribute income upward must also qualify as such. The notion that business creates jobs is thus a salvo in class warfare that passes for normal. The notion is so accepted, that we disagree only on how to help businesses in their quest to create jobs. But this, after all, is the power of ideology: to convince and persuade people to the point of creating the notion of universal truth, of accepted wisdom, of fashioning the “point of departure” for any discussion.

Stephen D. Morris, October 2010

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Salary Caps and Elections

All major sports have come to accept the concept of salary caps. Though it was a long fight and even borders on collusion, salary caps have tamed market forces to guarantee a certain level of competition. Teams in big markets and deep pockets are now somewhat limited in being able to buy a team and a championship. Granted, high-priced players and teams do not always when the crown, but they do more often than not. The result has been more competition, and greater excitement for the fans. By leveling the playing field, even smaller market teams have a chance to compete against wealthier teams. Talent, coaching, and chemistry make the difference rather than money.

 In the electoral arena, however, we don’t have salary caps. Owing to  a string of policies and a handful of court decisions regarding free speech (e.g. Buckley, Citizens United), candidates must not only manage a massive fund-raising machine, but can spend as much as they like on their own races. Even corporations now can spend an unlimited amount through advocacy campaigns and party donations. Of course, money does not always mean electoral victory, but there is a strong correlation. So strong, in fact, that the true contest may be over who can raise the most money, rather than the election itself simply because if you can’t raise enough, you will not make it to election day.

 Just like sports prior to salary caps, competition among candidates favors those with resources or access to resources. Our representatives thus tend to be disproportionally wealthy, and to hang-out with other wealthy individuals or representatives from wealthy corporations. It is surprising that competition is deemed more important in major league sports than money, despite the fact that it is a business. Yet in elections, which (theoretically) is not a business, competition and a level playing field are considered less important than money. Perhaps democratizing sports is a step in the right direction.

 Stephen D. Morris, September 2010

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Mosque-like Establishments at (or near) Ground Zero

The proposed building of an Islamic Center close to ground zero has raised intense concerns. For those opposed, the endeavor seems disrespectful given that the terrorists of 9/11 were Muslims. In their minds, I suppose, they see the Islamic Center as supporting and promoting the same religion that, through the actions of the terrorists of 9/11, vilifies, attacks and seeks the destruction of the US, “our” way of life, and perhaps even “our” religious values.

Perhaps they indeed have a point… but why draw the line of demarcation at the denominational level? The terrorists were not just Muslim, they were religious fanatics, motivated by an uncompromising faith that asserts to know the truth based not on evidence or reasoning, but on sacred texts, stories, and metaphysics. Though their motivations and even frustrations were at heart political, it was religion that provided the terrorists their overriding sense of purpose, and a tool to distinguish right from wrong in a broader sense than the here-and-now. Their religion justified their actions in part by anointing and celebrating deeds designed to spread the faith; their religion minimized the importance of life; and their religion promised them all a reward in the afterlife.

Perhaps then out of respect for the victims of 9/11 there should be no religious institutions or establishments at or near ground zero. Allowing any religion – not just Muslims — to occupy what many in the country consider holy or sacred (but in a secular sense) ground would be disrespectful. This is particularly true for all the religions bent on proselytizing, on spreading the faith, on literally “taking over the world,” and imposing their views and laws on everyone. Indeed, religion was behind the terrorist attacks. Targeting just the Muslims but allowing other religious institutions to occupy the area seems almost to fan the religious flames, privileging one religion over another when, if we cast the net wide enough, all could be condemned.

Perhaps many will reject this idea as nonsense. Protestants and Catholics will surely point out that “they” did not blow up the twin towers. Indeed, why condemn all religions when the terrorists were of one particular religion?

Perhaps they indeed have a point… why condemn an entire class of people (the religious) for the actions of a few (the Muslims)? But where then should we draw the lines of demarcation? Who should be included and excluded? According to the same logic, why condemn an entire class of people (Muslims) by the actions of a few (the terrorists)? Just as we can differentiate among religions – despite their commonalities — surely we can differentiate between these two groups – despite their commonalities — and not consider them to be synonymous.  

 Stephen D. Morris, August 2010

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Governments Try to Avoid Taxes Just Like Everyone Else

Governments, in theory the representatives of the people, need resources in order to pursue a wide range of objectives deemed appropriate by society. Everything costs money and governments have to secure the resources to fund programs, and enforce laws. In the US, two curious ways are used to disguise taxes: one at the federal level in conjunction with record high deficits targeting the rich; the other at the state level targeting the less rich.

Borrowing rather than taxing. At the federal level, the guise is to borrow rather than tax. Indeed, every year the federal government borrows a significant amount of money to have enough to pay for its deficit spending. In March 2010, for instance, according to official statistics from “Monthly Statement of the Public Debt of the United States,” the government owed $12.8 trillion in debt. Some of that money ($3.9 trillion) comes from foreigners who lend us money (invest by purchasing T-bills and government bonds) and who we must pay back with interest. There extra money comes in part from huge trade deficits. But much of the money ($7.5) that the government borrows comes from wealthy private and corporate investors in the US who, like the foreigners, we also have to pay back with interest. From the perspective of the wealthy individual or corporate investor, lending the money to the US is far more preferable than having government authoritatively take it through taxation. The government does not have to pay back the money taken through taxes, much less pay interest on it. The wealthy investor thus benefits both from the government programs and services their money helps finance, and the interest on his/her loan to the government, and shoulders no additional costs. Of course for the government, which has the power to tax, borrowing the money is much more expenses than taxing it – in an economic sense, but maybe not in a political sense. Seemingly this slight-of-hand can go on for some time as the government borrows money to pay interest on past credit.

 Of course taxing the wealthy is seen by some as problematic because it potentially decreases investment and can distort economic growth. But if part of that investment goes into government bonds anyway, the impact seems rather minimal. Investing in plant and equipment creates jobs, but not purchasing T-bills. Of course, having the government take the money through taxes as opposed to borrowing it might reduce their level of wealth, but government debt reduces the wealth of everyone. Nonetheless, if I had a few extra hundred thousand dollars or so, I would much rather lend it to the government, get paid back with interest, than have them take it.

 Gaming rather than taxing.  At the state level, governments take a different approach to avoid an upfront approach to taxing: they play on people’s hopes and dreams to get them willingly and voluntarily to part with their money for a one-in-a-million chance of becoming rich. In the lottery scenario, government takes in huge sums from mainly lower and middle class citizens and then redistributes a portion of that money to randomly selected individuals. The difference is used to fund state programs, particularly education. Once again, the government gets some of the funding it needs, provides the services, but does not burden the people with additional taxes. Instead, it all becomes part of a big game disguised as a mechanism of social mobility. Unlike borrowing rather than taxing, the gaming option does not really cost the government additional resources since it does take in more than it awards in winnings. Still, as in borrowing rather than taxing, it seems an almost dishonest way of disguising the need to secure the level of funding needed to pay for programs that we as a society deem necessary.

 Of course, winning the lottery big now puts you in a position to turn around and lend the money to the government by purchasing T-bills and other debt instruments. The government will then pay you back with interest.

 Stephen D. Morris, August 2010

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In the Immigration Debate: Who is the Victim and Who Owes Who?

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to immigration reform involves the problem of what to do with (or to) the approximately 10-12 million undocumented aliens (workers) living in the US. Those who highlight this problem typically use the term “amnesty” pejoratively to refer to any path to citizenship. Underscoring that the “illegal” has committed an unlawful act, they believe that some price must be paid to society as a result. Simply allowing the undocumented a path to citizenship, they contend, rewards rather than punishes the unlawful act of entering the country illegally (or staying beyond the time stipulated in their visa), and, moreover, tends to punish those waiting patiently in line to enter the country legally.

 But even if we accept that logic, there are alternative avenues for the undocumented to “pay” for their “crime” and still enjoy a path to citizenship. One approach might be to take into consideration time already served, or payment rendered. Most undocumented workers have provided benefits to society through their labor. As most pundits now acknowledge, the vast majority of undocumented have been in the country working, contributing to the local and national economy and to the communities in which they live. They have paid taxes (try refusing to pay the sales tax at Wal-Mart next time by telling them you are an illegal alien), contributed in many cases to social security, helped build local communities, and even enriched the local and national culture. Most have even contributed, through remittances, to their families back home, thereby potentially helping our neighboring country develop and ease US-Mexican relations. Such contributions are important and can be viewed as a down payment for a path to citizenship. After all, if there is one quality we do want in citizens, it is that they are productive members of the community.

 The amount the undocumented have paid back through their hard labor is compounded even further by the lost wages and hardships that stem from their ambiguous status. Again, most acknowledge that undocumented workers have not only worked, but in some form or another have been exploited. They may be paid less than a minimum wage, denied basic rights and protections owed to workers, and/or suffered an assortment of abuses because employers know they have little to no legal recourse against such abuses. Not paying an undocumented worker or calling the migra to deal with unruly or complaining workers leaves the undocumented facing untold hardship. Someone always gains from the exploitation of workers and in this case it is businesses through higher profits, and even consumers through lower prices. This adds then to the steep price that the undocumented have already paid to society and endured for their illegal status: in a sense, time already served.

 A second way for the undocumented to pay for their crime beyond time served would be for them to turn state evidence. Our judicial system often grants immunity to lesser criminals in return for evidence against others. The real crime of undocumented workers in the US involves businesses taking advantage of Mexico’s poverty to offer low wages to people seeking a better life for themselves and their family. Businesses offer employment not to help the Mexican immigrant pull him/herself out of poverty or for some lofty humanitarian reason, but because it is profitable. As pro-business people like to remind us, businesses create jobs (actually consumers do…but that is another story). The undocumented workers do not create the jobs by their mere presence: they come because businesses entice them here by opportunities. This is the supply side of the equation: the jobs. In other words, despite the sacrifices of leaving their family behind, the hardship of the journey north, the potential danger from coyotes and heat, the exploitation and often humiliation by managers, the risks of back-breaking work, and even the degrading racism and scapegoating by the public and pundits, the benefits outweigh the costs. So one way for the undocumented to “pay” for their “crime” of being here illegally and thus earn a path to citizenship would be to provide evidence against businesses that have hired undocumented workers (a crime that largely goes unpunished) or violated the rights of workers (also a crime). Surely, some arrangement can be made for these companies to pay compensation for their actions. Only once businesses understand that they cannot exploit the cheap labor of undocumented workers will the problem of undocumented workers be resolved. Even creating a guest worker program would merely remove some of the abuses while unfortunately legalizing others (e.g. subminimal pay).

 For now, businesses enjoy the best of both worlds: the fruits of a system that makes villains of the undocumented and devotes most of its enforcement resources to rounding them up and shipping them back across the border to join the ranks of the poor searching for work at any cost. Despite the law that makes it a crime for businesses to hire undocumented workers, few are ever prosecuted, and few in the immigration debate are demanding that they “pay” a price for their illegal actions.

 All of these approaches — acknowledging the contributions undocumented workers have already made to society and their exploitation, and even helping us crack down on businesses operating illegally – can be considered payment for the act of being in the country illegally and hence the right to a path toward citizenship. More fundamentally, though, these approaches raise the question: who is the victim here? In the mainstream debate, the victim invariably seems to be us:  the documented, the legal residents of the country, the law-abiding citizen, the society at large, perhaps even the state whose laws have been violated. But how can we be the victim if the surplus value of undocumented workers has benefited us in so many ways. We are certainly not the ones being exploited, being denied rights, or forced by circumstances to risk life and limb to obtain a better life. Instead, the victim – as is usually the case — is the poor; the undocumented worker who has been denied basic rights and yet despite it all likes living here and actually wants to be a part of this country. If we stop to ask “what characteristics do we really want among those who wish to become residents”? We would probably agree that we prefer individuals who work hard, who are committed to family and the community, and to abiding by the law (since an undocumented knows that any infraction could result in deportation). Such spirit adds to our societies. Perhaps it is time then that we make amends to them; not the other way around. 

 Stephen D. Morris, August 2010

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