Category: Bert Peterson

DACA and the Rule of Law


In its introductory section on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA immigration policy, Wikipedia closes by citing the findings of several studies – to wit, that DACA decreased the number of “unauthorized” immigrant households living in poverty and that it increased mental health outcomes for those households.  According to “most economists,” DACA benefited the economy.  (What other economists say on this point is not mentioned here or elsewhere in the Wikipedia entry.)  And “there is no evidence that DACA-eligible individuals are more likely to commit crimes than any other person in the US.”

In other words, if an “unauthorized” alien benefits from entering the U.S., and, “according to most economists,” the economy benefits as well, and the alien commits no more crimes than average (not including the crime he committed by illegally entering the country), the law that prohibited his entry should be ignored.

To put it in another context, say a man “without authorization” kills another man.  Before we assess any penalty, we must first assess whether the loss of the victim is a net positive or negative for society.  Did he have a job, or was he on welfare?  (Was he Democrat or Republican?)

Such reasoning puts economic considerations above the law.  It puts materialistic concerns above concerns for justice.  Some, no doubt, would deny this.  They would point to some “unauthorized” alien minor and contend that the minor did no wrong, and so, were he deported to his parents’ nation of origin, that would be the injustice.

The problem with this is that the people whose laws were violated did no wrong, either.  So why should they be prevented from enforcing their laws?

There is a third party to consider as well, comprising those seeking to immigrate into the United States legally.  To the extent that illegal immigration occurs, there is less opportunity for these prospective legal immigrants.  They did nothing wrong, either, yet they are the ones receiving the real punishment.  Do we, on account of “economic considerations,” forget about them?  Are they somehow less economically beneficial to the United States than illegal – I mean, “unauthorized” – aliens?  Would they be less likely to assimilate and to become law-abiding citizens than those who, from the very start, violate the laws of the United States without consequence?  Obviously not.  Obviously, the opposite is true.

But the illegal aliens are here, and the ones seeking to be legal immigrants are not here.  Possession, they say, is nine tenths of the law.  But there does remain that pesky other tenth, which is guided not by possession (or economic considerations), but by the demands of justice.

If we look to justice, it gives no answer, for the minor is not to blame, the laws and the people who enacted them and want them enforced are not to blame, and those seeking legal entry are not to blame.  So who is to blame?

First, the parents are to blame.  One can understand and be sympathetic toward their crime, but it is a crime nonetheless.  Failing to deport a minor because the minor himself is not to blame rewards the crime.  Can a nation that professes to honor the rule of law reward those who break it?  Can a nation that rewards the breaking of a law hope or expect its immigrants to assimilate into a law-abiding a society when, through that very process, it demonstrates its disregard, if not contempt for the law?

Second, those Democrats who, for perceived political purposes, facilitated such illegal entries are to blame – as are Republicans who, fearing political backlash, did not oppose such measures.  Given the demands of politics, the role of both in this matter may, like that of the parents, be understandable. 

The one who really merits the greatest blame and condemnation is Barack Obama.  This is not because he was a Democrat seeking to bring in more Democrat voters – coming from a partisan Democrat politician, this is understandable.  But Obama was more than a Democrat – he was the president, sworn to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”  Under the Constitution, it is clear that the enactment of laws lies with the Legislative Branch of government.  It is also clear that immigration policy falls within such purview.  (If it doesn’t, what does?)  Nonetheless, when the legislation Obama desired failed to pass Congress, Obama “enacted it” through executive action.

What can be passed through executive action can be removed through executive action, particularly when that action is unconstitutional.  Obama created a legal status for immigrants, but it was a status that could be removed with the stroke of another president’s pen.  Obama surely did not think that would happen.  He surely believed he was creating a situation that, politically, would be hard to undo.  (Indeed, it is.)  But for this very reason, it should be undone.  If it is not, then, through his abuse of presidential authority to create a situation difficult to undo, Obama has achieved his aim.  He will be rewarded, and a precedent will be set. 

If we are to be a nation of laws, there must be some penalty for the violation of the law.  For this reason, this writer suggests that, as an alternative to full deportation, DACA minors should be required to return, presumably with their parents, to the nation of their origin, but with the proviso that they will have the right to return after four years.  Should they return, it will be as permanent residents, not as citizens.  They will, under the laws, be treated the same as American citizens, but they will not have the right to help determine laws; they will not have the same rights as those immigrants who have come to this nation legally from the start.

Unless there is some price to be paid for the violation of law, sufficient to deter, there is no law. 

Bert Peterson is the author of a newly released and timely e-book, Does Our Banner Still Wave? The NFL Protests and Trump’s Opportunity.

In its introductory section on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA immigration policy, Wikipedia closes by citing the findings of several studies – to wit, that DACA decreased the number of “unauthorized” immigrant households living in poverty and that it increased mental health outcomes for those households.  According to “most economists,” DACA benefited the economy.  (What other economists say on this point is not mentioned here or elsewhere in the Wikipedia entry.)  And “there is no evidence that DACA-eligible individuals are more likely to commit crimes than any other person in the US.”

In other words, if an “unauthorized” alien benefits from entering the U.S., and, “according to most economists,” the economy benefits as well, and the alien commits no more crimes than average (not including the crime he committed by illegally entering the country), the law that prohibited his entry should be ignored.

To put it in another context, say a man “without authorization” kills another man.  Before we assess any penalty, we must first assess whether the loss of the victim is a net positive or negative for society.  Did he have a job, or was he on welfare?  (Was he Democrat or Republican?)

Such reasoning puts economic considerations above the law.  It puts materialistic concerns above concerns for justice.  Some, no doubt, would deny this.  They would point to some “unauthorized” alien minor and contend that the minor did no wrong, and so, were he deported to his parents’ nation of origin, that would be the injustice.

The problem with this is that the people whose laws were violated did no wrong, either.  So why should they be prevented from enforcing their laws?

There is a third party to consider as well, comprising those seeking to immigrate into the United States legally.  To the extent that illegal immigration occurs, there is less opportunity for these prospective legal immigrants.  They did nothing wrong, either, yet they are the ones receiving the real punishment.  Do we, on account of “economic considerations,” forget about them?  Are they somehow less economically beneficial to the United States than illegal – I mean, “unauthorized” – aliens?  Would they be less likely to assimilate and to become law-abiding citizens than those who, from the very start, violate the laws of the United States without consequence?  Obviously not.  Obviously, the opposite is true.

But the illegal aliens are here, and the ones seeking to be legal immigrants are not here.  Possession, they say, is nine tenths of the law.  But there does remain that pesky other tenth, which is guided not by possession (or economic considerations), but by the demands of justice.

If we look to justice, it gives no answer, for the minor is not to blame, the laws and the people who enacted them and want them enforced are not to blame, and those seeking legal entry are not to blame.  So who is to blame?

First, the parents are to blame.  One can understand and be sympathetic toward their crime, but it is a crime nonetheless.  Failing to deport a minor because the minor himself is not to blame rewards the crime.  Can a nation that professes to honor the rule of law reward those who break it?  Can a nation that rewards the breaking of a law hope or expect its immigrants to assimilate into a law-abiding a society when, through that very process, it demonstrates its disregard, if not contempt for the law?

Second, those Democrats who, for perceived political purposes, facilitated such illegal entries are to blame – as are Republicans who, fearing political backlash, did not oppose such measures.  Given the demands of politics, the role of both in this matter may, like that of the parents, be understandable. 

The one who really merits the greatest blame and condemnation is Barack Obama.  This is not because he was a Democrat seeking to bring in more Democrat voters – coming from a partisan Democrat politician, this is understandable.  But Obama was more than a Democrat – he was the president, sworn to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”  Under the Constitution, it is clear that the enactment of laws lies with the Legislative Branch of government.  It is also clear that immigration policy falls within such purview.  (If it doesn’t, what does?)  Nonetheless, when the legislation Obama desired failed to pass Congress, Obama “enacted it” through executive action.

What can be passed through executive action can be removed through executive action, particularly when that action is unconstitutional.  Obama created a legal status for immigrants, but it was a status that could be removed with the stroke of another president’s pen.  Obama surely did not think that would happen.  He surely believed he was creating a situation that, politically, would be hard to undo.  (Indeed, it is.)  But for this very reason, it should be undone.  If it is not, then, through his abuse of presidential authority to create a situation difficult to undo, Obama has achieved his aim.  He will be rewarded, and a precedent will be set. 

If we are to be a nation of laws, there must be some penalty for the violation of the law.  For this reason, this writer suggests that, as an alternative to full deportation, DACA minors should be required to return, presumably with their parents, to the nation of their origin, but with the proviso that they will have the right to return after four years.  Should they return, it will be as permanent residents, not as citizens.  They will, under the laws, be treated the same as American citizens, but they will not have the right to help determine laws; they will not have the same rights as those immigrants who have come to this nation legally from the start.

Unless there is some price to be paid for the violation of law, sufficient to deter, there is no law. 

Bert Peterson is the author of a newly released and timely e-book, Does Our Banner Still Wave? The NFL Protests and Trump’s Opportunity.



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Answering Conservative Objections on Health Care


Currently, due to objections from both moderates and conservatives, Republican efforts in the Senate to replace Obamacare are at an impasse. According to Kimberley A. Strassel, the sticking point is really the conservatives — four of them — who reject the inclusion of continued protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

What, exactly, is the conservatives’ objection? Presumably, it is partly because such protection to such-higher risk persons increase the price of medical insurance premiums that normal-risk persons would have to pay.That’s part of the reason, but, for conservatives, not the primary reason. The primary reason is, that in order to require such continued inclusion, the government must infringe on the rights of private parties to make contracts on their own terms, without government dictating those terms to them. To say that government can do so is a position that fundamentally alters the relationship between it and its citizens. Rather than being an impartial and disinterested arbiter/umpire, government acts on behalf of some citizens at the expense of others. To conservatives, to thinking democrats of any party, this is a very serious concern.

But, on the other hand, it’s hardly a new concern. If, in requiring continued protections, government sheds its impartiality to act as advocate for some particular group over the lawful interest of others, it would not be for the first time, or the one-hundredth and first time. And, in light of this reality, Strassel, a conservative herself, contends that the four conservatives must simply accept political reality. But, like many, Strassel seems to assume that the choices presented by that reality are binary – that is, that those with pre-existing conditions will either continue to receive protections, or they will not.

But there is a third option — that they continue to receive protection, but that they receive it under different terms — that they receive taxpayer subsidies for premiums not as unconditional subsidies, but as conditional ones — that condition going to the ability to pay. Not “the ability to pay,” however, in the same sense that that phrase is used with respect to outstanding taxes or other obligations, but rather in a way created specifically for such “medical insurance loans.”

Such loans could, for example, (as I have also argued in an earlier article) be asserted as “last-priority” loans — subordinate to all other debts, including debts incurred after the incursion of the medical debt. (Consequently, it should have no effect on a medical debtor’s credit rating.) Moreover, we could further stipulate that, even if there were no superior debts, and there were sufficient assets, even then, the government still could not take collection action. The only collection action it could take would be against the estate of the debtor. (Toward this purpose, there would be no statute of limitations, and, if there is no interest, there would be adjustment for inflation.)

Alternatively, to create an incentive for quicker repayment, government could also offer a discount for earlier payment. (For example: 25% off if paid within the first year, reduced by one percent annually thereafter.)

But, if we place such an obligation on the medically higher-risk, how could we not demand the same of normal-risk individuals? Certainly, under equal protection, if nothing else, we couldn’t. Under this approach, they could not receive outright subsidies either. They also would receive “last-priority” loans instead.

So what is accomplished? All parties would have a personal obligation for payment of the medical expenses covered by taxpayers, they would, in order to minimize that obligation, retain the right to free contract with insurers for terms they, not the government, desire. They would not be placed in a one-size-fits-all insurance plan, but could choose a plan more closely suited to their needs. For the normal-risk person, this would be a cheaper plan. For those with higher-risk, the plan would be more expensive. But, through last-priority loans, everyone will be able to purchase the plans they need.

Because some of the loans will be paid back, the government health care dollar will go further. Or, to put it another way, the burden on taxpayers will be alleviated. But it would do more than that. It would preserve the freedom of contract and the idea of personal responsibility for the expenses that one incurs.

And actually, it would do more than that. With ObamaCare, (if not earlier,) access to medical care, regardless of ability to pay, has been established as a “right.” But since medical care does come at a cost, what this right translates to also is a “right” for the money — the property — of other people. This is a pernicious notion that can only bring strife between economic classes.

The proposed policy would clarify the concept of a “right” for medical treatment. While it would continue to guarantee the right to medical treatment itself, it would not guarantee the right of taxpayer money to pay for it. If such money must, if possible, be repaid, then the possession of such money is no right.

That notwithstanding, however, some may believe that, simply on the face of it, such a policy — where millions of people who are expecting to receive outright subsidies would get (however lenient the terms) only loans — would be a very tough political sell. But tough compared to what? Discontinuing protections for those millions with preexisting conditions? For those millions, a loan — particularly a last-priority loan — would be far, far more appealing.

And particularly when those receiving such loans – normal risk and higher-risk alike – fully understand its terms – terms and rationales that could be included in the annual statement to them.

Through such a policy, we would strike a balance between limited government and the welfare state. By bringing in additional revenue without raising taxes, this policy should appeal to both Democrats and Republicans. And by preserving freedom of contract, it should appeal to conservatives of both parties, and satisfy the objection of conservative Republicans.

Bert Peterson proposes a process and legislation for political education at 4thofjuly.info.

Currently, due to objections from both moderates and conservatives, Republican efforts in the Senate to replace Obamacare are at an impasse. According to Kimberley A. Strassel, the sticking point is really the conservatives — four of them — who reject the inclusion of continued protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

What, exactly, is the conservatives’ objection? Presumably, it is partly because such protection to such-higher risk persons increase the price of medical insurance premiums that normal-risk persons would have to pay.That’s part of the reason, but, for conservatives, not the primary reason. The primary reason is, that in order to require such continued inclusion, the government must infringe on the rights of private parties to make contracts on their own terms, without government dictating those terms to them. To say that government can do so is a position that fundamentally alters the relationship between it and its citizens. Rather than being an impartial and disinterested arbiter/umpire, government acts on behalf of some citizens at the expense of others. To conservatives, to thinking democrats of any party, this is a very serious concern.

But, on the other hand, it’s hardly a new concern. If, in requiring continued protections, government sheds its impartiality to act as advocate for some particular group over the lawful interest of others, it would not be for the first time, or the one-hundredth and first time. And, in light of this reality, Strassel, a conservative herself, contends that the four conservatives must simply accept political reality. But, like many, Strassel seems to assume that the choices presented by that reality are binary – that is, that those with pre-existing conditions will either continue to receive protections, or they will not.

But there is a third option — that they continue to receive protection, but that they receive it under different terms — that they receive taxpayer subsidies for premiums not as unconditional subsidies, but as conditional ones — that condition going to the ability to pay. Not “the ability to pay,” however, in the same sense that that phrase is used with respect to outstanding taxes or other obligations, but rather in a way created specifically for such “medical insurance loans.”

Such loans could, for example, (as I have also argued in an earlier article) be asserted as “last-priority” loans — subordinate to all other debts, including debts incurred after the incursion of the medical debt. (Consequently, it should have no effect on a medical debtor’s credit rating.) Moreover, we could further stipulate that, even if there were no superior debts, and there were sufficient assets, even then, the government still could not take collection action. The only collection action it could take would be against the estate of the debtor. (Toward this purpose, there would be no statute of limitations, and, if there is no interest, there would be adjustment for inflation.)

Alternatively, to create an incentive for quicker repayment, government could also offer a discount for earlier payment. (For example: 25% off if paid within the first year, reduced by one percent annually thereafter.)

But, if we place such an obligation on the medically higher-risk, how could we not demand the same of normal-risk individuals? Certainly, under equal protection, if nothing else, we couldn’t. Under this approach, they could not receive outright subsidies either. They also would receive “last-priority” loans instead.

So what is accomplished? All parties would have a personal obligation for payment of the medical expenses covered by taxpayers, they would, in order to minimize that obligation, retain the right to free contract with insurers for terms they, not the government, desire. They would not be placed in a one-size-fits-all insurance plan, but could choose a plan more closely suited to their needs. For the normal-risk person, this would be a cheaper plan. For those with higher-risk, the plan would be more expensive. But, through last-priority loans, everyone will be able to purchase the plans they need.

Because some of the loans will be paid back, the government health care dollar will go further. Or, to put it another way, the burden on taxpayers will be alleviated. But it would do more than that. It would preserve the freedom of contract and the idea of personal responsibility for the expenses that one incurs.

And actually, it would do more than that. With ObamaCare, (if not earlier,) access to medical care, regardless of ability to pay, has been established as a “right.” But since medical care does come at a cost, what this right translates to also is a “right” for the money — the property — of other people. This is a pernicious notion that can only bring strife between economic classes.

The proposed policy would clarify the concept of a “right” for medical treatment. While it would continue to guarantee the right to medical treatment itself, it would not guarantee the right of taxpayer money to pay for it. If such money must, if possible, be repaid, then the possession of such money is no right.

That notwithstanding, however, some may believe that, simply on the face of it, such a policy — where millions of people who are expecting to receive outright subsidies would get (however lenient the terms) only loans — would be a very tough political sell. But tough compared to what? Discontinuing protections for those millions with preexisting conditions? For those millions, a loan — particularly a last-priority loan — would be far, far more appealing.

And particularly when those receiving such loans – normal risk and higher-risk alike – fully understand its terms – terms and rationales that could be included in the annual statement to them.

Through such a policy, we would strike a balance between limited government and the welfare state. By bringing in additional revenue without raising taxes, this policy should appeal to both Democrats and Republicans. And by preserving freedom of contract, it should appeal to conservatives of both parties, and satisfy the objection of conservative Republicans.

Bert Peterson proposes a process and legislation for political education at 4thofjuly.info.



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