Legal immigration has historically been a good thing for America. Waves of immigrants through the years have made America a better place, the true melting pot for the world.
So why was immigration successful in the past? And what can we do today? There are a number of reasons:
- Immigrants learned English as fast as possible. A fractured language fractures a nation. Today the call for bilingual education and multi- language ballot continues. The simple answer is to end both and require English immersion.
- Immigrants in the past were taught American political and cultural history and about the uniqueness of the American experience. Today the rush of multiculturalism is helping us educate a generation that is essentially illiterate about America and its history. It is time to go back to how we taught in the 1950's. (Updated to teach about America in the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's and covering important things like the Civil Rights movement.)
These two simple reforms will go a long way to fighting what's wrong with immigration in 2005.
Austin Update - Are We Doing Better
On Education And Tax Reform?
With time up in the first special session, it's time to look and see where we are. Have conservatives made progress, and where do the problems still reside?
First, a quick review - the good, the bad and the really ugly:
- The Good: Property taxes to be reduced by at least 20¢ in 2005 and 25¢ in 2006.
TCR COMMENT: A start, but since City and County property taxes are NOT cut, it's not as big of a reduction as it appears.
- The loopholes on franchise taxes are closed and the Senate proposes repealing the franchise tax in 2008 so business taxes can be reviewed. Sin taxes up for cigarettes, etc., but what about alcohol?
- The Bad: Sales taxes up to 7.25% (House) and 6.25% (Senate). Car tax up to 7.35% in the House and 6.75% in the Senate. Sales tax base expanded, but not across the board.
TCR COMMENT: Sales taxes should be broad-based and lower. By the way, business also pays sales tax when they buy things, so it's a business tax too.
- The Ugly: There is still no progress on lower appraisal caps. How about no higher than the rate of inflation?
TCR COMMENT: The Senate's idea for a commission to study taxes for business ought to look at consumer taxes also. Texas could be the example for all by implementing a low broad-based tax system that conservatives can embrace, even if we pass the proposed changes. We still have an archaic tax system that we patchwork over and over.
Texas Finance 101
By Dr. Byron Schlomach
Dr. Byron Schlomach of the Texas Political Policy Foundation (www.texaspolicy.com)
TCR Comment: This brilliant article lays bare our school finance system. What follows is TCR's executive summary of it.
Much of how our current system operates is not exactly how it was intended to operate. But the fact remains it is broken. Here are some easily understood facts about how the system does and does not operate.
Fact #1: Rising property values help finance state government. Rising property values mean less state money is needed, freeing state resources to fund other things.
Fact #2: In the 1990's alone, inflation-adjusted per-student spending increased by one-fifth and has tripled since 1970.
Fact #3: The United States gets a poor rate of return on its education spending compared to other nations.
Fact #4: Only half of current public school employees in Texas are classified as classroom teachers.
Fact #5: There are currently fewer than 15 students for every teacher in Texas. In 1960, there were about 24 students for every teacher.
Fact #6: Robin Hood is a scapegoat.
Fact #7: Well-constructed economic research from noted economists.
Fact #8: Arguments for equity are arguments for spending and spending alone, not about kids.
Fact #9: The system is designed, purposely or not, to extract more taxpayer money. The courts have said that when districts reach a tax rate limit, we have a de facto statewide property tax, which is unconstitutional. Therefore, the state must constantly bribe districts to reduce tax rates with more state money. Meanwhile, property values continue to rise, reducing the state share, giving an excuse for local officials to raise rates back where they were.
Fact #10: School districts are encouraged to tax at the maximum possible rate. The greater the local tax rate, the greater the state subsidy to local districts.
Fact #11: School officials are encouraged to categorize children. This is because districts get more money for bilingual education than for regular education.
Ultimately, the only solution is for the state to define a satisfactory system as one that provides enough teachers, classrooms and materials to teach capable children the basics, including English immersion. We already more than achieve such a level of funding. We just need to use it better.
Too Big To Handle, Too Serious To Ignore
By C.M. "Bud" Schauerte
Allowing illegal aliens to own driver's licenses seems to be an oddly irrational response while fighting a war on terrorism. The nineteen foreign 9/11 terrorists, most of whom owned one or more state driver's licenses, revealed in documents that U.S. driver's licenses "erased the distinction between legal and illegal status."
Supporters of granting the licenses, like Florida's Governor, Jeb Bush, contend that additional and intense background probes of driver's license applicants could help identify potential terrorists by imposing identity verification procedures.
Opponents of illegal immigrants holding driver's licenses question the rationale of awarding licenses to immigrants most of whom already have committed three crimes: illegal entry, using fraudulent documents (like Social Security numbers) to get jobs, and misrepresenting the validity of these documents. And because some authorities consider a driver's license an "official pass" to be in the country, opponents dread it when illegal immigrants use them to board airlines and trains, open bank accounts, or buy weapons.
There is no national consensus about immigrant driver's licenses. Fourteen states already allow illegal aliens to have them. They are: Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia. Ten other states do not require license applicants to prove they are legally in the U.S.
Party affiliation seems to have no relevance in the matter. Republicans and Democrats alike evenly embrace or abhor the idea of licensing illegal aliens to drive cars. State mandated costs of implementing the bill scare the nation's governors.
The predominant factor about whether or not illegal immigrants should be licensed is too overwhelming to ignore. It is that the United States today is the residence of an estimated 13 million illegal immigrants with more on the way. All of them need automobile transportation. Hundreds of thousand of aliens already have driver's licenses. And auto liability insurance, compulsory in Texas and most other states, is barely enforced and not a hindrance to illegal aliens in owning and driving automobiles.
The Federal government's response to the alien driver's license stew is delineated in legislation passed in February by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Authored by Rep. James F. Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI), the REAL ID Act of 2005, also known as H.R. 418, was approved on a blurred party line vote of 261-161. As of May 10th, the bill was approved by the U.S. Senate as an addendum to a huge appropriations measure. The legislative maneuver bypassed potentially damaging opposition to H.R. 418 by the nation's governors and in Senate debates.
There's plenty to dislike in the REAL ID Act, including the claim that it creates a Federal driver's license that for all practical purposes, becomes a national ID Card. Such a card could violate personal privacy matters by containing lavish information about individuals, including gun ownership, DNA information, retina scans, radio tracking technology, police records, and anything else the Federal government might decide it wants to know.
Although state compliance is voluntary under the bill, H.R. 418 could degrade the value of state-issued driver's licenses that might not be honored when boarding airlines and trains. What is more, state DMVs could lose control of the licensing process and be relegated to secondary clerical functions like processing Federal driver's license applications.
One argument in opposition to the implementation to H.R. 418 is that it would punish millions of law-abiding people in the remote possibility of apprehending terrorists. Denying driver's license legitimacy, fundamental in H.R. 418, to 13 million persons, the vast majority of whom are not terrorists or threats to security, just increases the size of the suspect pool for enforcement to have to sort through.
In the days immediately following the 9/11 tragedy in New York City, a mourning nation joined the cadence of proclamations decreeing: "Everything has changed." And indeed it has.
Americans did not lose their individuality, their rights to privacy, and their travel freedoms on 9/11. All of this and more were stolen from us by terrorist groups and individuals who continue in their pursuit to deny us these freedoms.
Maybe the REAL ID Act of 2005 is too invasive, too inclusive, and too much government for our freedom loving society. And maybe it costs too much to implement. But the decree; "Everything has changed" means that many life style adjustments in the ways we relished our freedoms now are necessary.
H.R. 418 became Federal law when President Bush signed it into law in May. In about three years all states will be required to issue the new Federal/state driver's licenses. The new legislation probably won't come close to making substantial reductions of illegal immigration. But it is a credible effort.
Our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, is quoted as saying to his cabinet one day: "In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing."
TCR Comment: Bud Schauerte, of Austin, has joined TCR as a contributing editor and appears frequently in our letters. Bud is also an independent insurance agent in Austin, Texas and a free-lance writer. Schauerte served as Federal Insurance Administrator in the Federal Emergency Management Administration under former President George Bush and he also served as primary election administrator for the Travis County Republican Party in 1996. Welcome.
HonestReporting.com Reports on
How The Media Blew It on The Palestinian
Break of The Ceasefire With Israel
Five months ago, Israel reached a ceasefire agreement with Palestinian Authority President Abbas, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. Despite the agreement, the terrorist groups have attempted a constant stream of attacks (most thwarted by Israeli security, and under-reported by the media).
Last week was particularly deadly, with an Islamic Jihad suicide bombing outside a Netanya mall that killed five and wounded 90 Israelis, and Hamas rocket attacks, over the Gaza border that claimed the life of 22-year old Dana Glakowitz, who had been sitting on her porch.
In response to these ongoing attacks, Israel acted against the Hamas leadership. Two major media outlets defied all logic and chronology to claim that it was Israel's response that 'ended' the ceasefire:
1) Washington Post reported:
The Israeli military killed seven members of Hamas on Friday in rocket strikes that renewed Israel's policy of assassinating militant Palestinians leaders and effectively marked the end of a five-month truce.
According to the Washington Post, dozens of Hamas and Islamic Jihad attacks did not break the ceasefire, but when Israel acted, that 'marked the end'. (This Washington Post article was also published in the San Francisco Chronicle.)
2) Associated Press:
The Israeli military launched an air strike Friday on a van carrying Hamas militants and a cache of homemade rockets in a Gaza City street, killing four people in what may be the most serious blow to a 5-month-old truce.
The loved ones of the six murdered Israelis would certainly take issue with AP's suggestion that it was the IDF's subsequent response that dealt 'the most serious blow' to the truce.
TCR COMMENT: The liberal media's favorite pastime is to blame the real victim.
Watch TCR Editor Gary Polland face off with liberal Democratic activist David Jones - weekdays on Standoff on Local 2 News at 4:45 p.m.,. Monday through Friday on KPRC Channel 2 in Houston. Email topics to TCR or www.click2houston.com, for what you'd like to see debated.
COMING SOON - July 29 at 8 p.m. to Channel 8 PBS in Houston, Texas - the connection - Red, White & Blue featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland and liberal commentator David Jones. Invited guests include Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Houston Mayor Bill White, State Senator Rodney Ellis, Religious Conservative Leader Rev. Rick Scarbrough, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn and many more.
About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who recently completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his ninth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last four years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant and can be reached at (713) 621-6335.
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