Columns » Bob McCord

Dollars, but no sense


You have to give credit to Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Andrew Card for coming up with ideas to help them and President Bush in the White House for another four years. Their latest are (1) passing a new law to make it easier for immigrants to come in and out of our country that is sure to win the Hispanic vote and (2) building more spaceships to send astronauts to the moon and, in 10 more years, to Mars, which will surely please Lockheed Martin, Boeing, the back-yard astronomers, the Air Force and the 18,000 NASA employees in Florida and Texas. The TV networks also will think more highly of Bush because of the success of the unmanned NASA rover that landed on Mars Jan. 4 and started beaming back those clear color pictures. Of course, they resemble something you might see in Oklahoma or Texas, but, heck, it will keep most of the viewers entertained until the Super Bowl. As you are reading this, another NASA rover is on its way to a different landing on Mars. So if it makes the 249 million miles in good shape, we'll soon be seeing a double header. The TV anchors keep telling us the rovers are like a golf cart, except that they cost a lot more - $820 million, to be exact. Bush also has announced that NASA will build another space shuttle in order to get American astronauts traveling again to the international space station. Remember that the space shuttle, the Columbia, broke apart last February killing seven Americans returning from the station. After getting that going again, he then wants to establish a little community of Americans on the moon to do several things, such as developing and installing weapons to shoot at our enemies in case the U.S. is attacked. As for immigrants, President Bush suddenly told the Congress that he wants it to pass a law that, among other things, would give visas to the illegal immigrants already here and to others who want to come. No one knows for sure, of course, but it's estimated there are between 8 to 17 million immigrants who have sneaked into our country. So Bush's bill would effectively grant amnesty to all these people for breaking our laws. They would be allowed to stay for as much as six years, enjoying all the benefits of an American. After that they would have to go back home, but nothing is said as to how we could be certain all of them leave. And even if they did, they could come back in a given time provided they follow the laws. In 2000, Bush got 35 percent of the Hispanic vote. By simply proposing this new law (he knows it won't pass since most Republicans in the Congress aren't for it) he probably believes he will get twice the number of Hispanic votes. There are some liberals who like what Bush has proposed, and it's a fact that some changes should be made in our immigration system. But it's hardly proper for our government to help people who break our laws. Some liberals are saying it's impossible to police our borders because they are so long, and they feel nothing but pity for the poor Mexicans who have to pay sharpies to sneak them across the borders. Besides, they say, Americans simply won't do the kind of work that immigrants will do, so why not let them come here to be babysitters, clean up Wal-Mart stores, butcher chickens for Tyson, cook hamburgers at McDonald's, wash the towels at Holiday Inns, etc. I don't buy that argument - especially now because I'm sure that many of those 8.3 million Americans who are out of work (72,300 in Arkansas) are filling those undesirable jobs to keep bread on the table. The New York Times says that in states like Iowa, with fewer than 24,000 illegal immigrants, Americans are filling those low-pay jobs. I think it's also true in Central Arkansas. There are only 27,000 illegals in Arkansas, most of them in northwest counties. Our goal should be to have only immigrants in this country who really want to become American citizens, not those who simply want more income. Our schools and medical centers - all our social welfare systems - are overloaded with poor immigrants who pay few taxes. Experts like Robert Reich, former secretary of labor, say that the best way our country can help poor Mexicans is to stop blocking Mexico's exports with tariffs and subsidizing American industries so they can top foreign prices, rather than allowing Mexicans to come in and out of the U.S. Reich says, "They [Mexicans] can become more prosperous only by exporting to rich nations." Do Americans really care about going to the moon again, not to mention Mars, especially when we are in the middle of a war where nearly 500 Americans have died with no end in sight? Some of the president's friends say we must blast off because the Chinese are planning a moon trip and we can't afford not to be ahead of them. Think of the billions of dollars these space adventures will cost - money that should be spent to improve education and medical care in our country. Today, young Americans with little education are being replaced by computerized robots. Our country should spend money to enlarge the curriculum and improve the instruction in all of the public schools and make it possible for even the poorest youngster to go to college. Three years ago, the international human genome project completed the deciphering of all human genes, the goal of scientists to discover the total amount of genetic information in a human cell. With this information, for the first time research can now be done that can eventually tell doctors how to diagnose, treat and even prevent cancer, Alzheimer's, heart disease, etc. Our government should furnish the money.

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