Main      Site Guide    
Message Forum
Re: Refugees
Posted By: Sam, on host
Date: Monday, September 3, 2001, at 18:42:49
In Reply To: Re: Refugees posted by Dave on Monday, September 3, 2001, at 14:30:02:

> Hrm. You surprise the heck out of me, Sam. You are, right here, arguing that "housing", "food", and "medical attention" are basic human rights, and yet last time I knew you were basically against welfare, universal healthcare, and other such programs in our own country that are designed to give people in our OWN country these things. You're the guy who was happy in '96 when Pat Buchanan won the New Hampshire Primary--the same Pat Buchanan who would basically build a wall around the US and close off almost all forms of immigration.

Wow. Have you ever misunderstood me. Well, here goes.


I've never been against welfare; I have, however, been against how welfare has been implemented in this country at certain times. I'm not familiar enough with the state of things as they are now, but I know that at times in this country, recently, abuse of the welfare system has been all too easy. Some people were on the welfare system long-term simply because if they found a job, they'd end up making less. (My mother, who was not poor, used to live down the street from a family on welfare that lived better than she did.) Welfare should be a temporary means of financial help, except in cases where someone truly CAN'T work (due to mental or physical disability, for example).

I have always been proud of the portion of my tax money that goes through the welfare system and eventually winds up in the hands of someone who truly needs it. Therefore the people who abuse that system, hurting those that need it, sicken me all the more. My vehemence about welfare that you almost remember correctly was directed toward that abuse.

In the years that have passed since we talked about welfare, two things have changed. One, I stopped being as up to date about the state of welfare in this country and am therefore less grounded to speak out against abuse, as I am not sure whether it happens more or less than it did and whether it happens in the same ways or in different ways. Two -- and this isn't really a change of attitude so much as an adjustment of the same attitude I've always had -- I've come to place a higher priority on money getting to the people that need it and a lower priority on making sure it doesn't get to the people that don't. (Higher and lower than before, not higher and lower than each other -- the former always had a higher priority with me than the latter.)

Health Care

I am against most government-sponsored blanket health care programs, because I don't believe the government should necessarily have its hands that deep in the issue. Governments are for governing, not for selling insurance plans. It's not as clear cut as social security (IMHO, government has NO BUSINESS being in the retirement savings business and DEFINITELY no business REQUIRING participation -- this is something people can manage perfectly well -- and better -- by dealing with private businesses, and furthermore that's better for the economy anyway) because health care has many more complications and gray areas associated with it. I think it's reasonable that the government take certain steps to make sure health care is *available* but not particularly that they provide it themselves.

The discussions about health care we had years ago were probably mostly centered around Clinton's health care reform plan, which was bandied about in the early nineties. It was nightmarishly awful, but people supported it because they perceived a need to reform health care.

Well, I think that need was there. But that's a stupid reason to pass a reform that would have made it WORSE. And the simple fact of the matter is, although there is always room for improvement and we should not stop seeking ways to improve it, our health care system is about the best in the world. Other countries, such as France and Canada, that have universal government health care plans in effect -- health care plans for everybody sounds great, right? -- don't do them a lot of comparative good, when waiting lists are huge, the government prioritizes your need according to dubious criteria, and the quality of service you receive is correlated to a rubber stamped government capped cost.

In the United States, insurance companies effectively do a lot of the same things, only the problem isn't nearly as severe. And as evil as insurance companies are, there is more cause for hope. There are many insurance companies competing with each other, thereby encouraging one another to better service while contributing to the economy, whereas there is only ever one federal government per country.

At any rate, Clinton's health care reform plan was a detestable scourge, and I remember well how vehemently against it I was.

As for how these Afghanis "should" get medical attention, I haven't the faintest idea. I think it IS a basic human right, but I don't pretend to know how to set up a system to provide it to everyone. I only know of lots of ways that sound good but have the ultimate effect of lowering everybody's health care service to a common standard, rather than raising it to one.


There's a world of difference between refugees from oppressive governments like Afghanistan's and refugees from ethical laws. I do not support the closing of our borders by any means, but nor do I support the bending of existing immigration laws whenever somebody knocks on our doors. If some boatload of people tool in and say, "Excuse me, but we are refugees from an unjust country. The government burned our marijuana fields and confiscated our multimillion dollar fortunes! Let us in!" then I would say, quote, "No."

When a boatload of Afghanis tool in and say, "Excuse me, but we are refugees from an unjust country. I was sentenced to death for saying 'Jesus,' and my wife was sentenced to death for whispering in public," then you let them in no matter what the circumstances. At minimum you should cooperate with other countries to provide the sum total with refuge *somewhere*.

For the situations in between, which are most of them, that's where I believe immigration laws, quotas, and so forth, should be in effect. I think the borders should be as open as possible while still paying regard to the practical considerations of the nation. It is a practical impossibility to help EVERYONE who wants to flee non-life-threatening poverty, hence the need for quotas, but we should certainly try to do whatever we can.

Other Government Programs

I've always given preference to programs that help boost the economy so that people who want or need to work will be able to find work, rather than to programs designed to give money and housing and so forth away for nothing. I am against pretty much all long term "give away"-type programs except for people who are uncapable of working. In fact, if people ARE on welfare at all, for any length of time, I think they should be required to put in community service hours and give back to the community what they are receiving. (Care should be taken to make sure that community service time does not infringe on time spent job hunting, and community service schedules should not be fixed, so that job interviews can happen when they need to.) But except for short term benefit programs, I would much prefer to see programs in effect designed to create jobs and boost the economy, as this supplies people with not just money but opportunities, not just housing somewhere but freedom to live anywhere. AND such programs are a credit, rather than a deficit, to the economy, thereby making life generally better for *everybody*.

Regarding the Afghanis, I certainly never suggested that Australia or anybody else be required to provide them with money, housing, and health care without also requiring them to work.

Pat Buchanan

I liked Pat Buchanan back when his immigration views weren't so clear and/or when mine weren't so clear. I've come across other differences of opinion as well. I still like him for about maybe 80% of the things he stands for, including some that nobody else seems to stand for, but I'm more comfortable with Bush.

Replies To This Message