South Carolina moved ahead with signing of one of America's toughest anti-illegal immigration bills. Modeled on Arizona's SB 1070, the bill was signed into law by South Carolina's Governor Nikki Haley. The bill, which passed the State House of Representatives by a margin of 69 to 43, requires employers to use the federal E-Verify database to confirm the legal residencies of all new employees. Employers are given a one year "grace" period to implement the program. Failure to do so results in escalating penalties cumulating their business's license being revoked.
Meanwhile, US District Judge Thomas Thrash Jr. has been busy undermining Georgia's anti-illegal legislation, HB 87. The judge has suspended sections 7 and 8, allowing police officers to inquire into a suspect's legal status when stopped for "probable cause" such as suspicion of committing a criminal act, and prohibiting someone from knowingly transporting and/or harboring an illegal immigrant. However, one section of the bill will be allowed to stand.
Individuals convicted of using false identification (and I assume that includes the use of stolen social securities numbers) could face up to 15 years as a guest of Georgia's infamous penal system and a fine of $250,000 (that would be in US dollars not pesos in case you're curious). Meanwhile, sections 7 and 8 are on appeal by Georgia's Attorney General Sam Olens. Look for a slightly modified version of the two sections to be implemented.
Meanwhile, the Obama Administration continues efforts to circumvent existing national laws and overwhelming opinion of America by declaring that illegal immigrants enrolled in a "education center", which I assume could be almost anything from a continuing adult education class to college, may not be deported. I guess the president is striving for a better educated class of illegal aliens. Some states are now awarding in-state tuition to illegal aliens who enroll in their colleges or universities, and in case you're wondering, yes, they may apply for and obtain taxpayer based grants and loans. Who says crime doesn't pay? In addition, illegal immigrants living with relatives currently serving in the US military are also currently exempt for deportation. No word from the White House on how closely they must be related.
So, what's moral of today's story? Don't come here illegally and use a stolen ID to get a job. Simply enroll in a local college and get a free education or find some relatives who came here legally and who has a cousin is serving in the military and simply move in. Better yet, do both!
Real Estate 101: Location, Location, Location
What the best places to live if you're coming here illegally? According to a Fox News story by Bob Dane, the top five "sanctuary states" in America are California, Maryland, Washington State, Illinois, and Connecticut. According to Dane, California take in 1/4 of all illegal immigrants. Native Californians pay a staggering $2438.00 in extra taxes per resident for that "honor". No wonder people and businesses are leaving California in droves and the state is bankrupt. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Sacramento impose fines on businesses and individuals moving out in order to build up their coffers.
Next up is Montgomery County Maryland where residents voted in their own version of the so-called "Dream Act". Look for those local officials to start hitting up the state for more money as residents learn the true costs of their generosity. Chicago and Cook County is the biggest haven in Illinois while New Haven is the top spot in Connecticut.
State of America
Meanwhile the economy continues to tank. Recent unemployment numbers are dismal as employers hold back on hiring despite increasing profit levels and stocks of inventory. The "official" unemployment rate sits at 9.2%, which translates to over 14 million souls looking to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. That number masks an even greater number; the number of individuals who are underemployed (working part time but seeking a full time job and well as overqualified individuals employed in jobs beneath their skills and/or education), as well as those who have simply stopped looking. That "unofficial" number is just over 20% of Americans.
The previous time it took to find a job was five weeks. Now it six months. If you're over 45 years old, that number jumps to 52 weeks! For those in the their 50's (like yours truly), some economists are predicting that they may never find work again. Welcome to the new reality of the new economy. Employers added on 18,000 jobs nationally while economists called for a bare minimum of 105,000 with an ideal job growth number of 225,000. Folks, that's just not going to cut it.
The Obama Administration has tried the discredited practice of blaming the prior administration, but that's not going to work. After six months, the current condition of the economy belongs to whomever is in office. Meanwhile, Congress keeps mouthing about how they feel our pain. Really? How about giving up their salary for the average number of weeks one of their constituents is unemployed? Maybe that would help them feel our pain. Maybe forgo those gym privileges we pay for.
Globally, Europe is teetering thanks to the financial mismanagement of Greece's government. Things aren't much better in Pacific Rim with Japan trying to cope with its recent disaster and the regional bad boy, North Korea, on the edge of economic collapse and contemplating war just to keep things afloat (Pyongyang has long played military blackmail with West in order to prop up it's economy. They recently closed all universities and sent the students to the fields to work, partly for economic reasons and partly to stave off a possible student led revolt). Events in the Middle East continued to make themselves felt at the gas pumps. Finally, the looming US debt crisis. Republicans want no tax increases (especially for the rich and big business) while the Democrats are calling for tax increases on everyone except the poor. Both sides claim to speak for America and that it won't blink first. To me, the only winner here are those wealthy special interests groups and their corresponding industries like banks and oil companies. The loser? Who else but the American Taxpayers.
All this brings me to something I've been thinking about for awhile now. Is America the same democratic Republic our Founding Father created? It seems that dream died a long time ago. Today, we are a Corporate Republic, or Capitalist Democracy if you prefer. The end result is the same. We are less longer citizen and more consumer. We've become little more than economic serfs. Employees are seen as necessary liabilities. We live and die by our credit rating. Our government, irrespective of which political party currently dominates, serves as the front man for global corporations who respects no laws except the law of profit. Governments are there to maintain order and keep the people in check.
The reformers we elected are suffocated under the weight of internal party machinery; their energies and passions diffused with endless committee and subcommittee meetings, leaving no time to carry out the reforms they promised. The bulwark of worker rights, the once proudly independent unions are now treated like second class participants and the cash cow for the Democrat Party. Rather than support the best candidate to defend working men and women, union leadership limit their support largely to Democrat candidates while the rank and file look to their own economic self interests. The public's distain for the both parties, and the political process could explain, in part, the drop in union membership to a historic low; only 7.2% in the private sector and 36.2% in the public sector (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/22/business/22union.html?_r=1).
As an ardent supporter of unions (and a member), I find these numbers deplorable. We need to move beyond partisan politics. Our problems are much too serious and the stakes for you and I are much too high. We need term limits, serious campaign finance reform, and an independent union movement.