- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 25, 2005

‘Renew and restore Louisiana’

We don’t serve stuffed goose for Mardi Gras (“Stuffing a goose for Mardi Gras,” Pruden on Politics, Oct. 11). We prefer down-home cooking like red beans and rice, fried chicken and Lucky Dogs. On this special day of celebration, Louisianians consume these local favorites while recounting our many blessings and preparing for a 40-day Lenten fast.

If you had spent any time researching the history of Mardi Gras, you would not have made such a mistake. Likewise, if you had spent any time researching the scope of the largest natural disaster in our history, you would not have so blindly mischaracterized the needs of the Gulf Coast and the benefits of the relief and recovery blueprint presented by our bipartisan, bicameral Louisiana delegation. Nor would you so readily have dismissed the enormous contributions Louisiana has made in its 300-year history to this nation, its people and its economy.

South Louisiana is the anchor of America’s energy coast, securing more than three-quarters of U.S. offshore oil and gas production — a greater share of our nation’s energy supply than even the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The ports of south Louisiana, including New Orleans, are America’s gateway to the world, handling more than 20 percent of U.S. imports and exports each day, including more than 70 percent of all grains as they move from farms across the nation to markets overseas. And 40 percent of the seafood consumed by Americans each year comes through coastal Louisiana.

An Iowa farmer unable to bring his grain to market, or a Virginia mother who can’t keep up with rising gas costs for the family car, or a Chicago seafood restaurateur trying to expand his business even as supplies are constrained, would not be so quick to dismiss the government’s responsibility to help rebuild these and other vital industries.

The question is not whether Americans can afford to raise up Louisiana’s economy; it is whether America can afford not to.

The answer is clear: We must rebuild stronger, better and smarter than before. We will renew and restore Louisiana and the Gulf Coast because its existence is dictated by the needs of U.S. commerce and national security.

Just as the Netherlands did after the devastating flood of 1953, we will build the world’s best-designed levee system. But rebuilding this region will take more than just higher levees. We must also build a better more equitable education system, while figuring out a way to maintain the education of 200,000 displaced children and 73,000 displaced college students. We must build a better more affordable health-care system in New Orleans and throughout the South, and figure out how to extend health-care coverage to a million survivors whose employers are either gone, teetering on the verge of bankruptcy or dropping their coverage. We also must provide the infrastructure and appropriate tax incentives for businesses, both large and small, willing to accept the risk of reopening their doors amid unprecedented losses and destruction.

Our nation faces a crucial test at this moment. Based on the poor preparation by your editorial board I am not hopeful that Washington pundits will pass the test. But I have every confidence that the American people understand what is at stake and will rise to the occasion.

Washington pundits would be well-advised to stop talking down to the taxpaying, law-abiding citizens of the Gulf Coast and start lifting them up. It is time to act respectfully and responsibly and move past old, tired, destructive stereotypes and prejudices that have curtailed our dreams for decades.

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU

U.S. Senate

Washington

Market forces dictate the best immigration policy

Contrary to statements in the Thursday editorial “The immigration debate,” the history of the Bracero Program shows how a modest use of market forces, combined with enforcement, offers the best — perhaps only — solution to illegal immigration.

Beginning in 1942, the Bracero Program allowed Mexican farm workers to be employed as seasonal contract labor. Despite these legal admissions, limited enforcement and other factors provided little deterrent to illegal entry until 1954.

That is when a controversial crackdown on illegal immigration ensued. Importantly, Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner Joseph Swing preceded the crackdown by working with growers to replace an illegal, and therefore unpredictable, source of labor with a legal, regulated labor supply. The workers, being rational, preferred entering legally, and Mr. Swing received praise for pushing the substitution of legal for illegal workers.

Bracero admissions rose from approximately 201,000 in 1953 to more than 430,000 a year between 1956 and 1959. The increased Bracero admissions produced dramatic results. Illegal entry, as measured by INS apprehensions at the border, fell by an astonishing 95 percent between 1953 and 1959. (Apprehensions fell to 45,336 in 1959, compared to more than 1 million in both 1954 and 2005).

However, complaints from unions led to the end of the program by 1964. What happened to illegal immigration after we stopped letting Mexican farm-workers enter legally? It skyrocketed. From 1964 to 1976, while the number of Border Patrol agents remained essentially constant, INS apprehensions of those entering illegally increased more than 1,000 percent.

Though economic conditions in Mexico and the lack of temporary visas for non-agricultural jobs also contributed, an internal INS report found that apprehensions of male Mexican agricultural workers increased by 600 percent between 1965 and 1970.

This did not surprise INS officials. At a House Committee on Agriculture hearing in the 1950s, a top INS official was asked what would happen to illegal immigration if the Bracero Program ended. He replied, “We can’t do the impossible, Mr. Congressman.”

Conservatives should not abandon belief in markets simply because the issue is immigration. Those who say we should not permit more people to work on legal temporary visas until we “control the border” have it backward: The only proven way to control the border is to open up paths to legal entry, allowing the market to succeed where law enforcement alone has failed.

STUART ANDERSON

Executive director

National Foundation for American Policy

Arlington

Tim Kaine’s death-penalty dance

In a state, Virginia, where the death penalty reportedly is favored 3-1, Democratic candidate for governor Tim Kaine has tried to defend his anti-death-penalty stance in many ways (“Kaine, Dukakis and capital punishment,” Editorial, Friday), most recently by hiding behind an even more unpopular group: lawyers.

Mr. Kaine’s supporters among the group about which most voters love to tell unflattering jokes (lawyers) say it’s unfair to call Mr. Kaine anti-death-penalty. However, when running for lieutenant governor in 2001, Mr. Kaine called for a moratorium on all executions in Virginia. In 1996, Mr. Kaine participated in a rally against the death penalty.

In private practice, Mr. Kaine contacted death-penalty foes and volunteered to assist death-row inmates in appealing their cases. That’s where Mr. Kaine’s supporters object. They say lawyers should volunteer to help poor defendants, and they are right. Lawyers should volunteer to help clients who cannot pay in what is called “pro bono” work.

However, such work is not the only reason Jerry Kilgore concludes that Mr. Kaine won’t enforce the death penalty in Virginia. If that were the only indication of Mr. Kaine’s views, Mr. Kilgore’s conclusion might be over the top, but it isn’t the only evidence. When someone enters a political campaign, it is fair to consider how one chooses to spend one’s discretionary time. While doing such pro bono work might make one a good lawyer, voters still might be right to be nervous about how one would behave as governor. No one has a right to elected office to wield power over us.

JON MOSELEY

Ashburn, Va.

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