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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Katherine Kersten's Korner

I'm not a fortune teller. I don't have access to a time machine. I don't understand how Katherine Kersten's mind works (shudder). So when I wrote this on Sunday:
"Before too long, she is going to have a kolumn about how all these immigrants protesting across the country are outraging good God-fearing Americans because they hate the sight of criminals in the streets."
I honestly had no idea that a scant three days later, she would write a kolumn with this:
"Obviously, many illegal immigrants are good folks, striving to better their families. But they have broken the law to get here. That's why many Americans find it unsettling to see them pumping their fists and shouting grievances in the streets -- cheered on by their American 'social justice' allies."
Wow. Either I have been reading Kersten too long, or the stock Republican response to everything is so devoid of thought and rationality that calling it long before it even comes out is trivial. Either way, it's not a happy thought.

Wingnuttia Level: 5 (Huh?)

You know, I give this a pretty low wingnuttia level because Kersten's argument is so poor, she is actually arguing against what she thinks she is. Her kolumn, once you get past the opening slam against the criminals in the streets, is about a legal immigrant named Jaco van Rooyen from South Africa. He works on a farm in North Dakota because no Americans want to (and can you really blame anybody for that? It's North Dakota!). But trying to keep a legal immigrant around all year is expensive and close to impossible. Van Rooyen has worked for four summers, but had to return to South Africa in the fall. To allow him to be able to work here full-time, he will have to go to South Africa and wait for up to five years.

Kersten seems to want to paint this as a picture of people who are doing the right things but being punished for it: "There are many obstacles, and it's frustrating that some people get to be here without doing those things," van Rooyen says. But that's the entire point that undocumented workers are making: the current system is so arbitrary, and so stupid, that it benefits both workers and employers to ignore it.

Conservatives always seem to leave out the employers when they talk about "illegal immigration", but without employers immigrants wouldn't come here. It may be wonderful that the Seidler farm is working so hard to make sure that they only hire legal workers, not illegal ones. But give me a break. From a purely economic standpoint, it's incredibly stupid to follow U.S. immigration law. The Seidlers would do far better for their farm to ignore the law and just keep van Rooyen around, five year wait be damned. And that's the same economic calculation that thousands of employers make regularly with regards to undocumented workers.

Probably in Kersten's world people get extra points for following arbitrary rules that have no basis in rationality; most religions are based upon this, for example. However, that's not helping the employers maximize their business potential, and that's not helping the people who want to work. By showing how screwed up the immigration process is, Kersten is actually demonstrating that the people in the streets are right to say that it needs fundamental change. Bet she didn't intend on that, huh?

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