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All People Should Live Equally

Our country started out with this great premise:

All men are created equal.
I heard a long time ago that if you want to change society, you start by changing its words. Consider words like "liberal," "conservative," "welfare," "progressive" - all of these have been hijacked from their original meaning.

If you want to alter the meaning of something, you can either add to it, redefine it, or take from it. Add/Change/Delete. If you're successful, it's no longer what it was and you've changed society.

In a soundbite culture, context is often lost, but in fact, context is everything. The phrase "I bet," for example, can have different meanings. What gives you the exact and intended meaning of "I bet" is the context. Are the speaker at a blackjack table? Are they agreeing with someone? Did they say it with sarcasm? Big differences, and the only way to know is by the context.

Context: after years of having their wealth, possessions, and property plundered and abused ad nauseum by King George III, the fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence set out to declare that the king was born with the same rights as anyone else. There was no great nobility deigned by God that afforded the king his willy nilly dip into the lives of others. George was born no better and with no greater rights than anyone else. Which is why the document reads this way:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Add/Change/Delete... somewhere along the way, "All men are created equal" morphed into "All people are equal," which later morphed into "All people should live equally."

Somehow this great and foundational phrase, "All men are created equal" became not a declaration of independence from governmental meddling but a declaration of the obligation of government to ensure that all people live equally.

When you are born, you have the freedom to steer your life as you receive it at birth in any direction you choose - as much as anyone else does. But your life should be the sum of your choices, and not a subtraction from the sum of others' choices.

I recently had a discussion with someone who felt that illegal immigrants are given a bad lot in life and he felt it was his Christian duty to help these people into the United States. He compared illegal immigrants to the pilgrims on the Mayflower. He asked, by what authority did the European settlers have the right to take the land from native Americans?

I pointed out, and he conceded the point, that there was no recognized border the settlers crossed. They saw no legal jeopardy. For example, they did not go to Spain, which was closer, to homestead land owned by someone else. That's not at all the same as illegal immigrants who very definitely know that they cross a sovereign border illegally when coming here.

Are illegal immigrants born equal to US citizens? Sure they are.

Does this mean that they are entitled to live equally to US citizens? That's up to them to figure out. But it does not mean that we have any societal obligation to them. Unfortunately, we have people like John McCain who want to dispense social security benefits to illegals after they become US citizens.

One of the more odious parts of the bill was the insistence that illegals should receive Social Security credit for work they did while in the country illegally. Illegals canít have a Social Security number, so there are only two ways they can have a job here. They can work under the table, which is tax fraud, or they can steal a citizenís number, which is identity theft.
Paying attention to these details, New Hampshire?

And at what point did the senator delete the word "illegal" from the phrase "illegal immigrant" to make it agreeable to himself to do this?


by Brett Rogers, 1/7/2008 12:05:59 PM
Permalink


Comments

Would you break a law to make a better life for your family, if it was a law that didn't kill anybody?

I know it's not the point. I'm just curious. :-)

Posted by Bella, 1/7/2008 1:18:49 PM


You know, most illegal immigrants are harmless, and like the rest of society, I looked the other way for a long time. Post-9/11, my feelings changed, and I've since changed my tune because I also don't want politicians pandering as they are to confiscate a voting bloc for themselves with my money.

Now to directly answer your question: would I break a law to make a better life for my family, if it was a law that didn't kill anybody? Killing is a pretty low bar that allows a lot of bad behavior to climb over it. Can I change that word and raise the bar to "victimize?" Handing out social security benefits to people who didn't earn it legally is stealing from those who did contribute legally, frankly. I wouldn't be okay with that.

I would be okay with victimless law-breaking, such as medicinal marijuana use. So depending on whether it hurt anybody else or took from anybody else, it depends.

(Other than the death penalty, are there any laws that kill people?)

Posted by Brett Rogers (http://www.beatcanvas.com), 1/7/2008 1:34:24 PM


Poor wording on my part...if the law you broke didn't involve anybody dying--like murder or drug running, etc. You wouldn't be okay with it, but would you do it...if it meant feeding them or otherwise providing for their basic needs.

I dunno, I think most folks crossing illegally to work--the folks coming over the Texas border--are harmless...about half of illegal immigrants are running on expired visas anyway. Is there a difference? No, but people who are motivated to do harm are fairly smart--or more accurately, conniving. They aren't going to get busted for not having their papers in order. Just my opinion. It's complicated.

Posted by Bella, 1/7/2008 1:55:46 PM


1) "When you are born, you have the freedom to steer your life as you receive it at birth in any direction you choose - as much as anyone else does. But your life should be the sum of your choices, and not a subtraction from the sum of others' choices" I think if you travel much outside of the confines of the relatively comfortable U.S. you mind differently. Not everyone is born into the freedom to be able to steer their life in any direction they choose. Easy to say, extremely hard to realize in many parts of the world.

2) "I pointed out, and he conceded the point, that there was no recognized border the settlers crossed. They saw no legal jeopardy" First of all, not sure who you had the discussion with, but they sure back down pretty quickly. Secondly, just because they was no "perceived" border and they "saw no legal jeopardy" doesn't make it right. Let's ask the Native Americans how they felt about it.

3) "Are illegal immigrants born equal to US citizens? Sure they are." This comment doesn't make a lot of sense. If they are illegal at birth, are you saying they are born in the U.S.? If so, then your "sure they are" comment contradicts the rest of your post and comments. But, if you are saying when they were born (i.e. before they were illegal) they were equal to US Citizens, then respectfully, no way whatsoever. Again, refer to point #1, you don't have to travel far outside the U.S. to see that is simply not true.

4) "You know, most illegal immigrants are harmless, and like the rest of society, I looked the other way for a long time. Post-9/11, my feelings changed..." For starters, 90% of the conversations in America around "illegal immigrants" are referring to Mexicans. Mexicans didn't attack us on 9/11. Secondly, the hijackers of 9/11 had legal Visas, so your hardline stance wouldn't have prevented that anyway.

5) "I would be okay with victimless law-breaking, such as medicinal marijuana use. So depending on whether it hurt anybody else or took from anybody else, it depends" That's a rather ambiguous (and safe) answer. "It depends" Would you cross a river and desert at night to get your family to a safe location where they won't be beaten, raped, live below poverty, be taken advantage of by the corrupt government, and possibly even killed? Seems to me like an easier decision than illegal marijuana use.

Summary - I'm not saying illegal immigration is right, it's not. But we're not in their shoes. I don't agree with it, but I can understand it.

Posted by I.C. Narrowminds, 1/7/2008 5:00:07 PM


Good comments, Narrow. A bit of clarification...

On your fourth point, I think the government has a responsibility to its citizens to know who is coming into our country and why, as much as can be ascertained. My beef with political winking at illegal immigration is both about security, but also about pandering and vote-getting. Concerning Mexican illegal immigration, it's the latter. I think it's great you want to come here. Get in line. If we don't like the immigration process, then let's change it and make it more efficient, but more winking is not a solution.

On your third point, I wasn't clear. Everyone is born equal, regardless of where they born. Rights are not granted by the government; they can only be taken away by the government.

As far as steering one's life... you got me. I wasn't born outside the US. But that doesn't entitle others to just come here.

And it's not an ambiguous answer... it's a principled answer. I think victimless crimes aren't crimes - they're only crimes in law books. If my family's life was at risk, would I break the law to save them? That wasn't the question, but to answer your version: in a heartbeat, yes, so long as I didn't do it at the expense of others.

Oh, and as for the Native Americans comment... animals, people - hell, even plants - encroach on each others' territory all the time. That's the way it is and always will be. The person on that stretch of land will defend it. I live here - that's what I'm doing. I'm not sure why that strikes you as narrowminded.

Posted by Brett Rogers (http://www.beatcanvas.com), 1/7/2008 6:19:34 PM


--I wasn't born outside the US. But that doesn't entitle others to just come here.

No, it doesn't, but your good fortune of being born here should be taken into consideration when contemplating the absolute 'right' and absolute 'wrong' of the majority of illegal immigrants who are just trying to find a better life. It's the apparent arrogance of reasoning like this that makes us so popular in the world right now. It's not as simple as...'It's illegal. It's bad" or "You weren't born here, you can't come in." Correct me if I'm wrong, IC, but I'm thinking that the simplification might be the reason you find it narrow-minded.

The expense of others? So if it cost some taxpayers, you'd let your family stay in a dangerous, poverty stricken situation rather than break the law to help them? Knowing you, I believe that to be untrue.

'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," just don't mean what it used to. Hell, my great grandfather didn't exactly come through Ellis Island, if ya know what I mean. Who am I to judge?

Posted by Bella, 1/7/2008 8:06:57 PM


Bella, as you know, there was a time when I was homeless. What I don't think you know is that it was six months after my daughter, Bari, was born. My response was not to break into someone's nice home, but to work my butt off to get us out of our bad situation. I should mention that it was winter and it took three months. So no, I would not break the law at the expense of someone else for my own or for my family's benefit.

Posted by Brett Rogers (http://www.beatcanvas.com), 1/7/2008 9:18:48 PM


*sigh* Good lord. I wouldn't equate breaking into somebody's home with crossing a border and potentially costing the taxpayers more. There are victims, and there are victims---and there are crimes, and there are crimes. I remember you telling me the homeless story, but I still think if it would only have been a matter of crossing a border and taxing an economy, you probably would do it. Maybe not. Maybe you do equate the two. The majority of the illegal immegrants want the opportunity to work their butts off just like you did, they just need a place to do it....hence breaking the law. You had the priviledge of opportunity...that didn't make it easy for you, it just meant you had a bit of a break that folks born out of this country don't.

Whatever. I just know I would probably break the law and enter a country illegally if I thought it might help my family. I sympathize with the average immegrant. Do I condone breaking the law...no. But I understand why they do it, and I don't believe the reasons are as selfish or evil as a lot of the republican candidates would have us believe. I also don't believe the answer lies in stricter laws...just enforcing the ones we have.

By the way---John McCain has New Hampshire sewn up. :-)

Posted by Bella, 1/7/2008 11:33:58 PM


I'm glad my comments provoked further discussion and some clarification from Brett on some of his comments. However, I still see more flip-flopping here than at the last Democratic debate.

Brett, you stated: "If my family's life was at risk, would I break the law to save them? That wasn't the question, but to answer your version: in a heartbeat, yes, so long as I didn't do it at the expense of others." Then shortly later replied to Bella, "So no, I would not break the law at the expense of someone else for my own or for my family's benefit."

I'm struggling to think of a law you could break that wasn't at the expense of SOMEONE. Don't say marijuana use, please.... If you think it's not at the expense of anyone to be involved in illegal drug use and distribution, I'll quit reading this blog now, never to return. Talk about narrowminded.

Bella, you hit the nail on the head, "It's the apparent arrogance of reasoning like this that makes us so popular in the world right now. It's not as simple as...'It's illegal. It's bad" or "You weren't born here, you can't come in." Correct me if I'm wrong, IC, but I'm thinking that the simplification might be the reason you find it narrow-minded."

Respectfully, it's pretty easy for a white mail raising kids in suburban, affluent America to say that others have the same opportunities. It's just not accurate. I learned a word early on in my education....Ethnocentrism. Feels like we have a lot of that going on here.

"Everyone is born equal, regardless of where they born. Rights are not granted by the government; they can only be taken away by the government." I challenge you to apply that theory to the child born in an African village to a HIV infected mother. The child attempts to survive with no fresh water, severe malnutrition, and they themself contracting AIDS in vitro from the mother. Go tell them they were born equal to your kids.

Brett, I applaud your efforts and ability to rise up and provide for your family and work your way out of the 3 months of homelessness. But, the key is...you were safely within the confines of the good ol' USA when you had to do that. Which, in and of itself, affords more opportunities than a majority of the world. The mere fact that you have a computer to create this blog, the ability to write it, I have a computer to read it and literacy to do so, already puts us likely above about 90% of the world. Let's not forget that.

I'll repeat, I'm not saying illegal immigration is right, it's not. But we're not in their shoes. I don't agree with it, but I can understand it.

Posted by I.C. Narrowminds, 1/8/2008 9:45:11 AM


Hey Narrow

I'm not faulting illegal immigrants. Fault lies with our government for porous borders. I fault the politicians trying to pander to illegal immigrants for votes.

The point of what I wrote in this post was to assert that America doesn't have an obligation to ensure that the world is fair by opening up our borders and our wallets by allowing amnesty and instant social benefits for anyone who comes here. All men are created equal - we all have the same inalienable rights. If a government takes away those rights, then it's the fault of the society that allows it to happen.

I'm not going to feel badly for living in America. My German ancestors showed some brilliance and moved here in the 1800's and got their citizenship. While it's a shame that other nations don't make opportunities available to their people as the US and other democracies do, no American is responsible for the lack of choices others suffer living in other countries. Americans don't have an obligation to correct that. The cool thing is that we have the affluence to alleviate it in some ways, if we choose to do so, but I believe that's an individual's choice.

I also think that America has an obligation to maintain what makes it great: individual responsibility and freedom. I'm advocating for personal responsibility instead of government handouts and socialism.

Cool that you found my site and that you're engaged in the discussion, but I don't need you to read the site. That's your call. But help me understand your point of view: if I grow plants in my basement and smoke them, I fail to see the expense exacted on others. A crime? Legally, yes. A victim? I don't see one.

Posted by Brett Rogers (http://www.beatcanvas.com), 1/8/2008 10:18:56 AM


"I still see more flip-flopping here than at the last Democratic debate" is a narrow way of trying to frame the discussion. I see it as a general point being made and the conversation drilled into a definition of what constitutes harm to others, not flip flopping. We could debate that all day but in the end, I think we all understand why someone would want to come here.

Now on to the "It's the apparent arrogance of reasoning like this that makes us so popular in the world right now. It's not as simple as...'It's illegal. It's bad" comment. Who cares about being popular. We aren't running for prom queen. Leading requires making difficult choices that often are not popular. For those who don't like us I say kiss my red, white, and blue ass. Show me another country that gives more, responds first to a disaster, offers help at our expense, does what it can so people can live free, and the list goes on.

For the record, go look at how difficult Mexico makes it to get across their southern border. And we are looked at as the bad guys.

Posted by Pale Rider, 1/8/2008 11:52:51 AM


Hmmm. So, we aren't obligated to help those seeking freedom by desparately breaking the law...yet somehow we are obligated to impose 'democracy' on Iraq when the people seem so strongly to want their own country back.

PR, perhaps 'popular' was a strong word. Maybe 'respected' would be better. Or 'hated' without the sarcasm. We all learned it in kindergarten and it's universal. Play well with others, and don't bully. Actually, some of us learned it in pre-K, but we all know you don't approve of that. :-)

Posted by Bella, 1/9/2008 1:15:01 PM


Isn't Mexico a democracy? They do have jobs south of our border, right? Don't people from all over the world love to vacation in Mexico? You make it sound like being there is a one-way ticket to hell. It's not. If it's less than what the US offers, then that's up to Mexico's government to fix.

On the other hand, when you can have your tongue fileted by the regime of Saddam just for saying that the government sucks, good gravy - it seems to me that there's quite a bit of difference between the two.

Posted by Brett Rogers (http://www.beatcanvas.com), 1/9/2008 1:38:04 PM


Obligated to help? Hell no. We should do so out of our own choosing, we are not obligated to it. For the record I'm all for opening the immigration process to those who want to become citizens.

As for imposing 'democracy' on Iraq, we removed a dictator who was a threat and in violation of multiple UN resolutions. The line had been drawn in the sand and Saddam's murderous, raping regime was taken out 12 years later than it should have been. I don't see anyone shedding a tear and wanting to go back to life under him. At great cost and loss of life we have helped to give Iraq an opportunity to live free. All those people with purple fingers seemed quite happy to be able to have a choice in the direction of their country.

If my memory is correct play nice and don't bully didn't work in kindergarten, never worked thru grade school, and doesn't work globally. Some asshole is always looking to steal someone's lunch money. This is where we differ. I don't see us as the bully, I see us as the one who kicks the bully in the ass.

Pssst. My kids didn't need to learn to not be a bully from public school. :)

Posted by Pale Rider, 1/9/2008 3:42:37 PM


Brett, really--I don't think the places in Mexico that people are looking to vacation are the places we are talking about--you know that. Why do you think all those fancy resorts are fenced in with armed security to protect all the tourists and in many of them you aren't allowed to leave the secured perimeter?

If you don't think there are places in Mexico (perhaps even in the good ol' U.S) that are one tickets to hell, you haven't seen much of that country. There are places and instances of governmental abuse/neglect in Mexico that rival life under Saddam's regime.

Pale Rider - I happen to agree that we improved life for Iraqis, but don't be so naiive to sit here in the comfort of wherever you are typing this and think that it's all hugs and kisses over there and they all want what we offered. In some instances, we disrupted their way of life so much that they now do not even know how to live. I want the troops home as bad as the next person, but if we pull out quickly and completely -- total pandemonium. Just because you saw 1 AP picture of one woman with a purple finger doesn't make it peaches and cream, easy to say a half a world away.

Posted by I.C. Narrowminds, 1/9/2008 5:54:44 PM


Narrow, Don't assume that I think things are all "hugs and kisses" over there. Don't assume to know what I think. Ask, don't attack. My comments were an accurate counter to Bella's post. Show me something I wrote that is false. To say I am being naive and assume I base these comments on 1 AP picture isn't narrow-minded, it's ignorant.

Things are improving but Rome wasn't built in a day. That is why the troops need to stay until the job is done. Until then, they and their families deserve every bit of support possible. No more bullshit political stunts to set timetables to try to pacify that part of the country that thinks we should never have been there in the first place. We finish the job we started.

Posted by Pale Rider, 1/9/2008 7:30:21 PM


"Show me something that I wrote that is false." Ok...

" I don't see anyone shedding a tear and wanting to go back to life under him."

I suppose you can counter by saying "It's not false, because I haven't seen it, and that's what I said". I suppose. In that case you are right, YOU maybe haven't seen it, but talk about, to use your word, ignorance.

Posted by I.C. Narrowminds, 1/10/2008 9:53:18 AM


PR is right, not ignorant. Iraqis don't want to go back. They want to go forward with what they have.

Iraqis: life is getting better (Times Online)

"MOST Iraqis believe life is better for them now than it was under Saddam Hussein."

Narrow, you're welcome to bring facts to your assertions.

Posted by Brett Rogers (http://www.beatcanvas.com), 1/10/2008 10:15:27 AM


If one nearly year old poll out of the UK constitutes "fact", then so be it. We could be here all year going back and forth. We may just have to agree to disagree on several issues in this discussion thread. I can't force you and PR to change your thinking process and you can't force me to change, but I'm darn thankful we live where we have the right, ability, and option to even have the discussion....going back to the original points before this went on tangent not everyone has that.

Posted by I.C. Narrowminds, 1/10/2008 10:39:32 AM


Narrow, you've done it again. Don't try to make my point for me, assuming that is the logic I use. Show me some facts, examples, references, counter my point with something. Don't hijack my point and try to put me on the defensive, it doesn't work with me.

I went for a coffee, refreshed my screen, and you did it again. Attacking an example Brett posted instead of countering it. Show something that backs up your point. Actually, state your point first, then show something to back it. At this point I'm not sure what your point is.

I agree none of us can force another to change their thought process. I don't engage in this type of discussion to change anyone, I wouldn't even try. I simply share my take on things, debate, sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, sometimes I/we learn. I don't even have a goal of trying to sway someone's opinion. I just like that I can make my voice heard from time to time, I like that I can solicit an opinion from someone who thinks differently.

If your goal is to sway opinion or change thought processes, you need to change your tactics.

Posted by Pale Rider, 1/10/2008 11:54:39 AM



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