Friday, April 21, 2006

Romney’s windmill hypocrisy

Thanks for the editorial detailing Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s blatantly hypocritical opposition to Cape Wind, a clean, renewable energy project that would save a dozen lives and prevent thousands of asthma attacks every year (“Not-so-consumer-friendly Romney,” Editorial, April 14).

You left out this doozy of a statement: In February 2003, Mr. Romney stood in front of one of Massachusetts’ ‘Filthy Five’ power plants and said: “If the choice is between dirty power plants or protecting the health of the people of Massachusetts, there is no choice in my mind. I will always come down on the side of public health.” Apparently not when multimillionaire campaign donors’ views need protecting, too.


Roslindale, Mass.

Immigration deserves a fair debate

Star Parker (“Se habla entitlement,” Commentary, Wednesday) suggests that illegal aliens come to the United States to enjoy the benefits of “our welfare state.”

The Hispanic immigrants I meet in the Washington metropolitan area are not lolling around courtesy of social-welfare largesse. For example, one such immigrant gets up before the sun to mop floors and clean toilets.

When his shift is over in the afternoon, he hurries to his second job clearing tables and washing dishes, working until 10 or 11 every night, save for the two nights per week he attends English class.

Other immigrants I’ve met are thrilled to land a job caring for the elderly. Still others flip burgers or paint houses, and all take joy in the opportunity to work. To suggest that such industrious people are a net drain on our economy and social services strains credulity.

Star Parker and Helle Dale (“Reforming immigration,” Op-Ed, Wednesday) both insist that illegal aliens broke the law and therefore deserve nothing. If we want to assign wrongdoing, the greater culpability falls squarely at our collective feet.

Every offer of work to an immigrant by an American citizen or firm is an endorsement of that immigrant’s presence here. It is not surprising that after years of cleaning toilets and changing bedpans, some immigrants are starting to object when labeled criminals.

The columnists are indignant that immigrants are starting to talk of civil rights. Yet we Americans invite this talk, if hypocritically, by asking these people to do all the hard and dirty work we don’t want to do ourselves, and, out of the other side of our mouth, telling them that they deserve no protection under the law, that they cannot become citizens and that they should go home.

The truth is we probably owe many of the hardworking immigrants in our midst the benefits of citizenship, and we certainly owe them a full and honest debate of this important matter. They have earned both by virtue of the dignity and value of their hard work, from which we all have benefited.



Deporting illegals

Many commentators have said we can’t deport 12 million illegal aliens. I say yes we can. Here’s how — use yellow school buses (“Immigration misunderstood,” Commentary, April 9).

With about 450,000 school buses in the United States, it would only take a couple of months to take the 11 million to 12 million illegals back to Mexico. Using the 12 million figure often cited and using 40 seats in each bus, leaving room for luggage, would require about 300,000 bus trips to take all 12 million back home.

I figured two weeks to make a single round trip. A week to drive down, then drop the illegals at the border, and a week to drive back up. Assume we use all of July and August, eight weeks, to make these trips. Each bus could make four round trips in two months. This means we would need a total of 75,000 buses to make the needed trips. Further add 1,000 extra buses for spares and breakdowns. Using these rough numbers, less than 17 percent of the 450,000 yellow school buses currently in use in the United States would be needed.

The bus drivers would come from the current school bus drivers. As schools close in June, they are out of work for the summer. The federal government could pay these drivers for an extra two months of work. Many would gladly drive to earn additional income this summer.

I assumed 2,000 miles down and 2,000 miles back, or 4,000 miles total per bus trip. Then four trips makes 16,000 miles per bus. If the government paid $5 per bus mile that would be $80,000 for mileage. Diesel fuel at 10 miles per gallon would total about 1,600 gallons per bus. Figure $4 per gallon for $6,400 of diesel per bus or $86,400 per bus trip, giving generous margins.

Two weeks is 336 hours total. Let us pay the drivers $25 an hour day and night, or a total of $8,400 for each trip. A driver making all four trips would earn $33,600 extra for a summer of driving. Volunteer drivers would be plentiful.

The bus and driver would cost $120,000 each. The 75,000 buses needed would multiply to a total of $9 billion dollars.

The price tag is about $750 each immigrant to transport them to the border. For about the same amount we spend on the military for a couple of weeks we could end the illegal problem. Perhaps the cost would rise to $1,000 each if meals, lodging and spare buses are included.

I don’t want to hear anyone say it is impossible to deport 12 million illegals. It can be done, and it can be done quickly. If there is a will, there is a way. Here is a way.



Pushing China on human rights

I heard several encouraging comments from President Bush during his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao, namely that the Chinese people need more individual freedoms and less persecution than is typical living under a communist regime (“Small steps for Bush, Hu,” Page 1, yesterday).

I was also pleased to hear some honest, tough questions for the Chinese president from several reporters. However, the apology that President Bush extended to Mr. Hu after the protester interrupted the proceedings was the wrong message.

While it was unfortunate the protester surfaced during the welcoming ceremony, President Bush needed to state unequivocally that in democracies, citizens have the right to voice their opinion.

He could have also leveraged the opportunity to stress the plight of the Falun Gong and the numerous other human rights violations that currently exist in China.

To charge the Falun Gong protester with anything more than disorderly conduct would also send the wrong message.

Also, one quick reminder for Mr. Bush, all news media and anyone who deals with the Chinese or other communist governments — they lie. Communism by its nature is a lie and the only way to affect communist governments’ decisions is to leave them no or few alternatives.

Until the United States is willing to put some teeth behind our “disagreements” in the form of trade restrictions and other means that would distress the Chinese government with its own people, Mr. Hu and other Chinese officials will say exactly what they believe we want to hear with no intention of acting.



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