Wednesday, April 12, 2006


The question of the day seems to be, how is the US going to keep out all those Hispanics who sneak in, wanting nothing more than a better life for themselves and their families.

Conservatives are full of solutions. Throw the undocumented/illegal immigrants in jail. (Conservatives love anything that will give them an excuse to build more prisons.) Send them back to their home countries. (It's free trade, you see.) Beef up the borders: build a fence (yeah, that will work), build a wall (hey, it worked for Hadrian!), hire more border guards and have them shoot to kill (on the plus side, it would mean more men with guns and more people getting killed in Texas; on the minus side, where are we going to get all the extra border guards? I know, we'll hire illegal aliens!).

None of these solutions are really workable. Yet there is a philosophy there that might be useful if we just look at it the right way. That philosophy is, "stop them before they get here."

Why do people come into the US illegally (and often at great physical risk)? Why will they keep coming, even if we build a Great Wall across the southern border? Because they're looking for a better life than they have at home.

The obvbious solution: Make their home lives better.

Okay, these folks come into the US from all of South and Central America. And the Ivory Madonna is willing to admit that it's a little extreme to think of raising the standard of living in all those countries. Thus, she presents a more modest proposal. Call it The Great Wall of Mexico.

Let us embark upon a Marshall-type plan to raise the standard of living in Mexico to the equivalent of (at least) Europe's.

What does this do? First, it removes the incentive for Mexicans to come into the US. Why go through all the trouble of illegal immigration if things at home aren't so bad? (We don't seem to have a problem with millions of people sneaking across the northern border from Canada.) Second (and this is the key bit), it makes Mexico the target from the rest of Central & South America. After all, most US-bound immigrants pass through Mexico on their way (kinda hard to cross the southern US border without going through Mexico). If life in Mexico is good, why won't they stop there?

In effect, we could turn Mexico into a "wall," a thousand-mile buffer zone that would soak up potential immigrants before they get to the US.

As time goes on, we could continue the Marshall-type plans southward, eventually to raise the standard of living for all of Central & South America.

Yes, the Great Wall of Mexico would cost a lot -- but so would prisons, armed guards, and border fences from San Diego to Brownsville. And this way, the money would go to productive uses.


The Ivory Madonna's story is told in Dance for the Ivory Madonna by Don Sakers.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Rising Tides

The catchphrase among conservatives is "a rising tide lifts all boats."

Our experience during the Bush years has showed that while a rising tide may lift all boats, a tide that rises too high also overtops the levies and drowns low-lying houses.

In other words...conservative economic policies are great if you're on a boat (particularly one you inherited from your rich parents or grandparents) -- but hell if you're in a low-lying house with no realistic means of escape.


The Ivory Madonna's story is told in Dance for the Ivory Madonna by Don Sakers.