Friday, May 7, 2010

Exciting Times

I don’t usually offer my opinions on the secular news stories, but these are exciting times, and I mean that entirely euphemistically.

I am astonished by the public reaction to the law in Arizona that empowers state and local law enforcement officials to enforce federal immigration law. It’s not fascist to tell cops that if they think someone is here illegally, then can check their status and actually enforce the law. The issue for most of us who support the measure is not hostility to aliens (not ET – Stephen Hawking says we should be afraid of ET). Rather, the issue is national security and control of the borders. I don’t mind letting them in, as long as they use the gate and tell us who they are. I borders and citizenship don’t mean anything, the I guess I can go ahead and jump the fence to swim in my neighbor’s pool. I would like to see the criminal violence being executed by the Mexican drug cartels stay on their side of the border. Ideally, of course, the federal government would be securing the border, but they don’t seem to be too interested in performing that function. Lest anyone argue that I’m being partisan, I thought that the Bush administration did an equally lousy job of securing our borders and ports in the long aftermath of 9/11/01.

Not entirely unrelated is news that we’ve again gotten very lucky. We’ve been extremely fortunate that the Christmas Day panty-bomb and the Times Square car bomb were both duds that failed to go off. This is going to lull us into a false sense of invulnerability. We know that the enemy knows how to make bombs. We also had both of the bombers on our intelligence radar, and yet both came within a hair’s breadth of wreaking carnage on American soil. They also came here legally, and, in the case of the Times Square bomber, even obtained citizenship. If we have no border enforcement, then we can’t even hope to catch the incompetent terrorists at the gate, let alone those who are clever and shrewd. I was born in 1969, so I have no memory of 1968, when radical groups like the Weather Underground were planting bombs across the country that actually blew up. I don’t want to experience it myself.

Finally, after a year-and-a-half, it feels as though the other shoe is about to drop on the world economy, this time as the result of unsustainable government debt. Europe, specifically Greece, is leading the way. We hear that a bailout of Greece is required because all of the European nations are tied together through a common currency, and if Greece slips over the edge, all of the European nations that use the euro will be pulled down into the yawning chasm of devaluation. The problem is that the Greeks don’t care. They continue to demand that their government keep spending money on them that the government just doesn’t have. A bailout will only allow continued deficit spending, delaying the inevitable. Where Greece is going, Spain, Portugal, and the UK are headed. My sense (God, please let me be wrong!) is that Europe is about to implode, and what will be left when the dust clears is anybody’s guess.

Habitual deficit spending is a problem. Americans recently observed Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates an inconsequential victory of the Mexican army over the French army in 1862 (we Americans were a little busy killing each other at the time). Although the Mexicans won the battle, the French went on to overthrow the Mexican government and install a puppet emperor, who was likewise overthrown a few years later. The French did this because the Mexicans defaulted on their loans. We’ve got rampant deficit spending of our own, much of it financed by foreign powers like China. In our own country, California and New York are blazing a trail toward default, and the federal government appears unable to control spending. Our government will raise taxes before it cuts spending, then will feign confusion when the economy slips back into recession. Their response will be even more spending – ever higher deficits that will accelerate it down the path to collapse.

Exciting times indeed!

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