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How to Lose a City in Ten Steps, Part Twelve: A Blueprint for the Future

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I cannot emphasize enough that our fictional city is not meant to be a depiction of any specific one. Rather, it serves as a composite of locales ranging from the Chesapeake to San Francisco Bay. Nonetheless, one place comes to mind as a particularly potent example of illegal immigration’s potential for socioeconomic annihilation.

Nestled just to the south and east of Los Angeles, Maywood was once upon a time truly the sort of shining city on a hill that Ronald Reagan boasted about. A manufacturing center, with bountiful supplies of blue collar jobs during the post-World War II era, it was then one of the few communities that championed diversity as its greatest strength. Until the early 1970s, it served as the archetypal example of what America’s future could be like if everyone played their cards right.

Unfortunately, many of Maywood’s chief economic powers decided to close shop in search of a discount workforce. Others stayed in the area and simply hired illegal aliens, while letting go their longtime employees. In either case, the end result was dismal, and the city lost its shine in perpetuity. By the 2000s, however, Maywood had managed a return to the media spotlight; this time as a city of firsts.

What kind of firsts are these? For starters, it is one of the the nation’s initial cities to declare itself an asylum for illegals. It is indisputably California’s original city to require that police personnel lay off illegals driving without a license. It also claims the dubious distinction of being the first city to ask Congress to pass a blanket amnesty program for illegals. The peak of its iniquity, however, is its place as the vanguard city to conduct meetings in a language other than English.

All of this and much, much more led to a chapter in city history that pretty much wrote itself: fiscal insolvency. In June of 2010, Maywood’s elected officials announced that every single public employee, except the municipal manager, would be fired. All city departments were outsourced to neighboring towns or the county as a whole. Maywood’s tenth step, it can be deduced, was actually far more radical than the one of which I wrote.

For a problem so dire as illegal immigration, a serious solution must be found. Some states, such as Arizona and Alabama, tried their own remedies, but found them stricken down by federal judges over concern about physical appearance based profiling. Indeed, such profiling is nonsensical; illegals come in all colors and speak all languages. A far more comprehensive plan of action can be drawn.

As I noted last year, in order realistically to solve the lion’s share of our illegal immigration crisis, the incentive for people to enter the United States unlawfully must be completely removed. This can be done creatively, in a way which would provide compensation for both the government and exploited workers. I believe that a fine should be imposed on businesses hiring illegals in the amount of $10,000 per alien arrested. Half of this would go to the alien in question, as a means of providing some form of a golden parachute during deportation, and the other to Uncle Sam.

Should certain businesses choose to become repeat offenders, their assets could be seized and eventually auctioned off by the government, though not before experiencing a 100 percent increase in the fines originally levied against them. In addition, persons who knowingly hire illegals should face a $250 to $750,000 penalty for their actions, as well as imprisonment for a term of 12 to 24 months.

About Joseph F. Cotto

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Joseph –

    As I noted last year, in order realistically to solve the lion’s share of our illegal immigration crisis, the incentive for people to enter the United States unlawfully must be completely removed.

    And as I noted in the third comment to the SAME article you’re referencing:

    …This is a Gordian knot that can’t be cut open with a sword.

    As I pointed out to Clavos, the only way we could EVER stop illegal immigration is to either tear down our economy to the level of Mexico’s…or bring up Mexico’s economy to equal our own. As long as we have an economy that is significantly better than theirs – and as long as it is safer to raise a family here – illegal immigration from Mexico will remain a major problem…and all the laws and regulations we throw at them won’t make a difference.

    So what’s the solution? The ONLY real way to slow down the flood of illegal immigrants from Mexico is to help them become a prosperous and safe country. That’s it in a nutshell. All other solutions – yours, Daves, Dem or Republican plans – which do not meet that goal are simply high-minded but ineffective rhetoric.

    Joseph, here’s a FACT of human nature for you: when you have two neighboring nations, and one nation has a significantly higher standard of living than the other nation (and is not Nazi Germany), you WILL have a problem with illegal immigration. The only time in history I can think of where such was not the case was Nazi Germany after Hitler resurrected her economy (yes, he did that) but made life hell for non-Aryans. I don’t think you want that.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    My first comment was concerning the overall problem of illegal immigration. This comment is concerning your article…and you’re not going to like it.

    Joseph, your series was a grand exposition of the slippery-slope fallacy. You tell an incredible story, and when we ask you for example or proof, you tell us to wait until the end and all will be made clear. So we’re at the end, and what do you provide? ONE example based on ONE article on a very, um, conservative website (humanevents.com). The article itself makes many claims but backs up almost NONE of those claims with credible references.

    So I’m going to help you out, Joseph. There’s not a whole lot of information out there on Maywood, CA, but there’s enough to for anyone with a clue about statistics to know that it cannot be used as a representative example for grand pronouncements of national policy.

    (1) Maywood is 97.4% Hispanic. Before you start using that as ‘proof’ of your assertions, remember that ‘white flight’ (which you described in your series without using the world ‘white’) happened in many, many places across the nation – and usually had NOTHING to do illegal immigration.

    (2) You laid the blame for the ‘meltdown’ of the city’s government and services on illegal immigration, business owners, and corruption in the local government. Apparently your only reference for this blame lay in the single reference you gave above. We pointed out to you that there were many more problems concerning factories and employment than illegal immigration – but you flatly ignored what we told you and stayed laser-focused on illegal immigration. FYI, here’s a better description of what led to Maywood’s “Meltdown”:

    Several cities in the state have said that they are close to bankruptcy because of the sharp drop in sales and property tax revenues caused by the deepest recession in decades. But experts who track California cities say Maywood is the only case they know of in which a city has dismissed all top positions except for the city manager, city attorney and elected officials. Under the plan adopted by the City Council on Monday night, council members would continue to be paid to set policy, but all services would be contracted out.

    ABC News also laid the blame where it belongs concerning Maywood:

    From California to Pennsylvania, cities and towns are being pushed to the brink by the lingering economic downturn and mounting debt. The obligations of state and local governments have doubled to $2.4 trillion in the past decade, according to a recent report by the Federal Reserve.

    You picked the single worst example and made it seem that such was possible or even likely to happen in Anytown, U.S.A., all the while ignoring the 800-lb. gorilla in the living room, the Great Recession that slammed municipalities all across the nation. In Michigan, for example, the Republican government gave the governor the authority to effectively declare financial martial law in communities across the state. What led to this (not counting the Republican power grab) had nothing to do with illegal immigration, but everything to do with the Great Recession.

    (3) You lay the blame of the corruption at the feet of illegal immigrants and the business owners. If only they were upstanding law-and-order folks who would get rid of the illegals, you seem to imply. Well, here’s one example of a seriously-red-state sheriff trying to do just that – never mind the endemic corruption in his department and the dozens of child-abuse claims that he was just too busy to have his department investigate. But if this article in the New York Times is any indication, Maywood’s draconian step of outsourcing its police seems to have had a positive effect. Maybe Maricopa County, AZ should take note.

    But you know what, Joseph? It would be every bit as wrong of me to imply that red-state law enforcement is as bad and corrupt as Arpaiao’s as it is for you to imply that the one-two-punch of illegal immigration and unrestrained Big Business are going to lead to similar meltdowns in Anytown, U.S.A.

    Your greatest mistakes in this series, Joseph, were that while you focused on illegal immigration (though you tried to make it more PC by blaming the factory owners), you flatly ignored the fact that when it comes to illegal immigration, Maywood is not representative of Anytown, U.S.A., but is instead the very, very, VERY rare exception to the rule. You chose to focus on the single tree instead of seeing the forest as a whole.

    You also flatly ignored the larger economic issues – the shipment of our manufacturing base overseas (which CANNOT be blamed on illegals in the least) and our Great Recession (largely the fault of American citizens working on Wall Street and their bought-and-paid-for politicians in Congress).

    You’re capable of so much more, Joseph. That’s not sarcasm – that’s simple fact. But you’ve got to free yourself to look at the bigger picture.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/joseph-cotto/ Joseph Cotto

    Glenn,

    We cannot bring the economy of Mexico to first world status through an infusion of American capital. Why? Because it has a culture, for the most part, that is decidedly regressive. Should the federal government flood Mexico with money, then the same thing that happens in other third world countries will take place there. You know very well that this means corrupt officials skimming off of foreign aid funds until there is nothing left in any practical sense for the very people that said money was supposed to help. In short, the Mexican government has to deal with their own economic woes.

    Maywood was a single example out of many; though certainly the most dramatic. Blaming the current economy for its troubles, though, is just not considering the whole story. If you read a great deal about the town’s history, it becomes apparent that there are structural factors in play which ensured its demise long ago. Many, though not all, happened to comport with my series. I did focus on illegal immigration in a consistent fashion, and mentioned corporate greed as a leading cause of this.

    In my next series, that last point will be addressed at length.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Joseph –

    We cannot bring the economy of Mexico to first world status through an infusion of American capital

    I never said we could. I only said that improving the economy of Mexico to where the standard of living there is roughly equal to our own is the only – repeat, the only – way to really stop illegal immigration short of what Nazi Germany did.

    I know that I’m essentially saying that “there’s nothing we can do about it” and that none of us really don’t want to even consider the thought, so here’s some help – not a solution, for I’ve already presented the only possible solution (as impossible as it practically is), but something to help mitigate the problem. In this case, half measures are better than no measures at all.

    First and foremost, if we can’t bring Mexico’s standard of living up to our own, we can bring it part the way, or even halfway from where it’s at right now in one fell swoop: legalizing marijuana. By doing so (and taxing the heck out of it), we’d not only have a lot of people who would stick with marijuana and not go to the harder drugs – which would hurt the Mexican drug lords a great deal. We might even do what Portugal did and legalize all drugs – but I’m a dad, and I’m not so sure I want to see that regardless of how successful it’s been for Portugal.

    Another big step would be to require full registration and waiting periods for all guns purchased in the U.S. Now I know that the NRA would never agree to such even though a majority of NRA members (not to mention the American population as a whole) supports registration of all firearms. The NRA and the Rabid Right will tell you BE VERY AFRAID!!!, that it’s only a pretext to the black-helicopter-g-men a-comin’ to git yer guns…despite all evidence to the contrary. But the free-and-easy gun trafficking in America is arming the drug lords and enabling them to destroy any semblance of order in some northern Mexican cities.

    In other words, what we liberals – drug legalization and sane gun control regulation – want would go a long way towards helping Mexico and easing (but not solving) illegal immigration.

    All the “anti-walking-while-brown” legislation in the world won’t help – the illegals will still come as long as our economy is much better than theirs, our nation is a safer place to raise children, and we’re not Nazi Germany.

  • Igor

    Ronald Reagan NEVER had any basis to boast about Maywood, a town which he probably never even knew existed:

    “Nestled just to the south and east of Los Angeles, Maywood was once upon a time truly the sort of shining city on a hill that Ronald Reagan boasted about.”

    I guess that statement is just another propaganda item to burnish RRs bogus reputation.

  • Igor

    More damage is being done everyday to the USA economy by the nitwit radical rightist politicians than by all the illegal immigrants, as they cut away the legitimate supports and subsidies that built the American economy.

    Yes, the American economy was built by powerful government subsidies and aid to private US businesses that was intended to help all americans prosper through business expansion.

    Every business in America benefits from our history of government support.

    The greatest threat, for example, to our great port cities is NOT from illegal immigrants, but from the fanatical austerity programs of whacko radical rightists, like Paul Ryan.

    AAPA release

    AAPA Chairman Bridges To Testify On Economic Value Of Seaports

    House Water Resources & Environment Subcommittee asks: Are U.S. ports prepared for the future?

    Jerry A. Bridges, chairman of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority in Norfolk, Va., will provide testimony tomorrow (Oct. 26) to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Water Resources and Environment (WR&E) Subcommittee of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. His testimony is to answer two questions: What is the value of U.S. seaports to the nation and are U.S. ports ready to compete for trade in the future?

    The WR&E Subcommittee hearing, scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. in Room 2167 of the Rayburn House Office Building, is titled, “The Economic Importance of Seaports: Is the United States Prepared for 21st Century Trade Realities?”

    Mr. Bridges will emphasize that federal funding for waterside connections with America’s seaports has slowed and decreased, particularly for new construction, while appropriations for navigation maintenance is only about half of what is required. He will also note that landside improvements to handle freight have been too low a priority among policymakers, affecting the ports’ ability to move cargo efficiently into and out of the country.

    “This,” he says, “hurts U.S. business, hurts U.S. workers and hurts our national economy.”