Towards A Good Samaritan World

Thursday, June 29, 2006

My new favorite blog: Brothers Judd. Stalwart Bush-supporters, conservatives generally, but pro-immigration. They find good sources, post frequently, offer quick, upbeat, clever commentary. Check it out.

They linked to three of my TCS articles: American Hajj, my first article on Pope Benedict (though they picked up the Dallas Morning News version of it) and Living the Creed.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


My good friend Seth Wilson is currently working for Horizons International, a Christian organization back in my hometown of Boulder, CO, on a very interesting African aid project. The Zambian Soap Company employs AIDS widows in Zambia, and uses the money to finance their mission work. The model sounds a bit too good to be true-- can you really sell soap made in Africa commercially in the United States, earn enough to pay your workers, not only in Zambia (even good wages in Zambia would be cheap in US terms) but also in the US (even if it's just Seth and a handful of interns on the US side, as far as I understand)?-- but from talking to Seth it sounds like it actually does turn a profit. Seth Wilson is a tremendously talented guy, who could have a high-powered career if he wanted it, but he would be bored by it: he needs something altruistically motivated to keep him going. I don't think Horizons pays him much, but he doesn't seem to mind. (I keep telling him that if he wants to get married one of these days, he'll have to be a bit less indifferent to personal gain. Girls do-- subconsciously perhaps-- calculate whether you'll be a good provider before they give their hearts away.)

Here's their mission page, which has a nice picture of Zambian AIDS widows employed by the company. Visit the page to boost their Google rating, which helps attract customers!

The quality of the product I can't vouch for so far-- I just ordered my first two bars of it, and they haven't shipped yet.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

I read a good article on immigration today in the lefty magazine Mother Jones, which called immigration "the new labor movement." I couldn't find it online, but here's an article they published back in March with some good ideas:

In an ideal world, a fair immigration policy would include an earned-legalization program for all unauthorized immigrants who have worked and established roots in this country, along with labor protections for all workers, to curb exploitation at the hands of their employers. A just bill would also be set within a broader economic policy context, to reduce the negative effects that immigration can have on native low-income workers in this country.

Except for the "labor protections for all workers"-- since trying to "protect" jobs makes it more expensive to create jobs and leads to unemployment, "labor protections" that go beyond preventing employers from practicing fraud against workers are just poor-to-poor transfers and generally a bad idea-- I agree with all of this.

Mother Jones is against a guest worker program. I support one. Still, I think a right-left coalition on this issue should be possible. It would be great if the Democrats made this their signature issue.

Kudos to Democratic PA Senate candidate Bob Casey for fighting back against Santorum's anti-immigration demagoguery. Santorum was a strong supporter of Bush's Social Security privatization plan, for which I admire him. But now that he's becoming the Senate's Tom Tancredo, his long-anticipated fall will be welcome.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Is the Wall Street Journal turning against the House Republicans?

House Republicans insist they can't vote for any bill that can be called an "amnesty" for illegals, and that that's what the Senate and Mr. Bush want. But this is a box canyon of their own making. No serious person believes that the 11 million or so illegals already in America will be deported. Nor will these illegals come out of the shadows unless there is some kind of process that allows them to become legal and keep their jobs, even if it falls short of a path to citizenship. And immigrants will keep coming illegally in search of a better life unless there is some legal way they can apply for and find work.

Yet by denouncing any such compromise as "amnesty," the restrictionists have poisoned their own voters against accepting the only policy with a chance to solve the problem. When Indiana's Mike Pence, a stalwart conservative, offered a compromise that included a guest worker program, the Tancredo brigades savaged even him as endorsing "amnesty." Rather than see the Pence plan as a way out of their political mess, Mr. Hastert failed to defend him. On immigration, Mr. Tancredo is now the real speaker of the House.

What can we do about this evildoer who is becoming one of our most important national leaders? It can't hurt to remind voters that Tancredo wanted to bomb Mecca.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


The turnaround in Bush's poll numbers, which according to one Rasmussen poll just rose to 42%, their highest since early April, will probably be attributed to the death of Zarqawi. Maybe. But it started before that. If you look carefully, it seems to have occurred exactly at the time Bush gave his immigration speech.

This doesn't mean that Bush's position on immigration is popular. It means that (some of) the people whom Bush's position appeals to do not support him on other issues, but are willing to support him because of this one. The support Bush picked up in the center-left with his stance on immigration may have offset whatever voters he alienated on the right.

Sometimes a courageous stand for right principles can also be shrewd triangulation.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Over at Tech Central Station, I present an argument for taxing immigration instead of restricting it. "Sounds boring, I know," was added by the editor, and sets the tone for the piece. But maybe the phrase is useful: it should be a bore, a no-brainer, to let someone in if they're willing to pay enough, provided they're not a threat to national security.

Not all the comments were negative this time.

Monday, June 19, 2006


A puzzle from recent Iraqi polling data:

A substantial portion of Iraqis support attacks on US led-forces, but not attacks on Iraqi government security forces or Iraqi civilians. Ethnic groups vary sharply on these questions.

Overall, 47% say they approve of “attacks on US-led forces” (23% strongly). There are huge differences between ethnic groups. An extraordinary 88% of Sunnis approve, with 77% approving strongly. Forty-one percent of Shia approve as well, but just 9% strongly. Even 16% of Kurds approve (8% strongly).

Naturally the question arises why it is that only 35% want US troops to withdraw within six months while 47% approve of attacks on US-led forces. Interestingly, 41% of those who support attacks do not favor a near-term withdrawal. One possible explanation is that the attacks are not prompted by a desire to bring about an immediate withdrawal, but to put pressure on the US so that it will eventually leave. Indeed, among those who approve of such attacks, 90% believe that the US plans to have bases in Iraq permanently and 87% assume that the US would refuse to leave even if asked to by the new Iraqi government.

I would suggest another reason that (some) Iraqis may support attacks on US troops: they want the insurgents to kill, and (better yet) be killed by, Americans, instead of killing Iraqis. Some Americans may be offended by this "better them than us" logic. But recall that some Americans once argued for Iraq as a "flypaper strategy": the Iraq War sucked terrorists in there, to be killed, so that they wouldn't attack us at home. Whether or not this was ever part of US strategy, that probably is what has happened, and may be part of the explanation for why there have been no terrorist attacks on the US since then.

If you think about it from the point of view of a people who has borne the brunt of so much violence and tyranny, how could Iraqis not prefer that insurgents kill Americans rather than killing Iraqis? Those lucky Americans have never been conquered, never suffered under a totalitarian regime! Surely if we can redistribute the pain from long-suffering Iraqis to born-under-a-lucky-star Americans, that's fair, isn't it? As an American, of course, this argument makes me uncomfortable, but if I were an Iraqi it would be hard to resist.

So would I "support attacks on American forces," if I were an Iraqi? Depends on how I interpreted the question, but maybe so.

Here are two articles I published at Tech Central a little while back, during the hiatus at this blog:

"Immigration Wisdom in the Senate." (2 June 2006)
"Immigration and the Nation-State." (26 May 2006)

I'm trying not to think about politics as much lately because it's semi-depressing, given that immigration reform, after the Senate bill was so promising, has stalled. The anti- side in this debate is a noxious presence in the national debate; the type of presence I wish I didn't have to know was there.

I don't think the American people are bad-- well, most of them aren't anyway. There are a few rotten apples-- the Minutemen come to mind-- but most people, I think, are sort of well-intentioned and confused. The idea that the exploitation of illegal immigrants is a reason to shut them out is deeply illogical but can dupe a person who doesn't really hammer into place the means and ends of the matter in their heads.

What's disillusioning is the reaction of politicians and pundits to the issue. They do have time to think it through, and I think they all know, deep down, what the moral position is, and a lot of them just decide not to take it. I probably shouldn't be surprised by this, but there's something in all of us that keeps hoping everyone is good, and for that part of me, this is a bruising fight.