Well that was real mature...

Well that was real mature...

Friday, October 13, 2017

Facts Matter: Disecting a Fact Free Post

Facts matter. I know we live in an "alt fact" word. But there should be a point where a fact should be a fact. Period. I have a dog named Sisko. He's a male, you can call him a female all you want, but he's male. I have never written a blog relating to politics because I don't want to get "Dixie Chick-ed."  In my private life I am very political and the wars on science and facts are starting to make me crazy. I can understand and respect a difference of opinion, but the refusal to listen to or accept provable and verifiable facts is a new phenomenon.  If you say something that is not true that means one of two things. Either you are ignorant on the topic and have made an error or you have willfully said something untrue.  Now I could site example after example of the stuff I am talking about but I have decided to simply take one single post that have I have seen several times and use it as a sole example. People I know, people I like are sharing (some more than once) this COMPLETELY fact free post below and it boggles my mind. Have I misjudged these people's character or their intelligence or both?

The first time I saw this post on the right my initial thought was "Wow, there is so much factually wrong with this. I don't know quite where to begin."  Well, how about I start with the fact that the initial writer (and those who liked it enough to share it on social medial) appear to favor the positions of North Korea, Afghanistan and Iran over America. Ranging from fascist and totalitarian to theocratic, those countries seem to be the antithesis to what America stands for, but if that's their opinion, I will respectfully disagree. I'm not going to hurl insults because we disagree. Like I said above, I can respect a difference of opinion and they are entitled to their opinion here in America (although, ironically, not always in North Korea or Iran, but I digress).  No, I'm not going to challenge their un-American opinion. I would rather respond to the FACTUAL ERRORS, because while you are entitled to your own opinion you are not entitled to your own facts.

 The general position seems to be that undocumented immigrants are responsible for our nation's debt. Many economic scholars have pointed to "trickledown economics" as the real culprit of our debt, massive tax cuts (predominantly on the wealthy) while increasing spending has put is in a hole, but that's really a separate debate. Let's focus on the issues specifically ascribed to undocumented immigrants.

First, "you cross the border illegally and you get a job." Well, they only get a job if an American company illegally hires them or they commit fraud to get hired. In the former case, this is a private sector issue and does not support the debt issue except that employers are defrauding the government out of tax dollars that would have been otherwise taken out on citizens or legal immigrants here on work visas and not the undocumented immigrant who is more often than not being taken advantage of. On the latter issue of fraud, well, I will cover that further on down.

Moving on.

 "You cross the border illegally and you get... a driver's license." This actually varies from state to state.  Some states with large undocumented immigrant populations have seen insurance premiums go DOWN once they started  issuing drivers licenses as did cases of hit-and-run. This SAVED both private market money (insurance premiums) and tax money at local levels (investigating hit and runs).

"You cross the border illegally and  you get... food stamps." No, undocumented immigrants, do NOT qualify for food stamps. If you frequent a website that say they do, it LIES. In addition to NOT qualifying for food stamps, undocumented immigrants also do NOT qualify for welfare, Medicaid, and most other public benefits. Most of these programs REQUIRE proof of legal immigration status and under the 1996 Welfare Law, even LEGAL immigrants CANNOT receive these benefits until they have been in the United States for more than FIVE years.

"You cross the border illegally and you get... a place to live." Well, if you can pay the rent, I guess most property owners will rent to you. Again, this has nothing to do with national debt unless you are implying that undocumented immigrants are getting government housing assistance. If you are, then again, like with food stamps, undocumented immigrants do not qualify for government housing or housing subsidies.  

"You cross the border illegally and  you get... health care." Hospitals are required to give aid to anyone in this country who has a medical emergency. It does not matter if they are insured, uninsured, legal resident, illegal resident or legally visiting. Do you really want to live in a country where you have to show your papers before first responders will take you to a hospital after an accident? Now, I suspect this is not the "health care" that was being referred to. I suspect, it is the completely false idea that many put out over the last decade that undocumented immigrants qualify for the Affordable Care Act. They don't, it's an often repeated lie. President Obama said his proposal would not cover illegal immigrants, a remark that prompted Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina to shout "You lie!" The president  was correct: The House bill contained a section (Sec. 246) titled "NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS," which states: "Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States."

"You cross the border illegally and  you get... housing." Obviously we covered "housing" under "a place to live," and but I guess the list didn't seem long enough so the author decided to double dip, which goes to their honesty. Or perhaps they didn't know that housing IS a place to live, so maybe they are just ignorant. As I said before it usually comes down to one or another.

"You cross the border illegally and  you get... child benefits." Children of undocumented immigrants DO qualify for child benefits if, and only if, they were born here. If you position is that American children should be denied benefits because one or more of their parents are undocumented immigrants then I should point out citizen children of illegal immigrants -- often derogatorily referred to by racists as "anchor babies" -- costs taxpayers $14,387 per household (this includes education -- which I will get to next AND healthcare which I covered above), according to a (some say inflated) 2014 report by the extreme right wing Heritage Foundation. But in its 2013 "Immigration Myths and Facts" report, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says most economists see providing these benefits as an investment for the future, when these U.S. born children become workers and taxpayers.

 "You cross the border illegally and  you get... education." Well, even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and again. Children (only children) of undocumented immigrants can attend public schools grades k-12 (NOT higher education). I'll be honest. I'm not sure what the cost is nor do I care, as someone whose wife is a teacher, both parents were teachers and my grandmother was a teacher, I'm pro-education for anyone and everyone and see an educated and informed populace as a good thing.

Finally, let's get to "You cross the border illegally and  you get... a tax free business for 7 yrs."  While MANY businesses are enticed into areas at both the city and state levels, with the promise of no or reduced taxes (my home town of Bristol, Virginia is doing that in spades at "The Falls" complex) but with an extensive search, most of those appear to be either large corporations moving into a depressed or rural area or LEGAL immigrants starting small business. It's hard to get a tax break if you are illegal and getting played under the table. It's also pretty hard to hide your status if you are starting a legit regulated business like a restaurant or specialty store.  I find this highly unlikely, but it's so out there I can't even find data to dispute it but then I could not find anything legit that supported it either.

So that brings us back to the general position of this fact free meme/post. That undocumented immigrants are driving us into debt. In cases of employment fraud (I said I would get back to it), where they provide fake papers to work. They have taxes taken out that they never file to get back. Collectively, they paid an estimated $10.6 billion to state and local taxes in 2010, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). Contributions varied by state. In Montana they contributed $2 million. In California, more than $2.2 billion. On average they pay about 6.4% of their income in state and local taxes, ITEP said. A 2007 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the impact of undocumented immigrants on the budgets of local and state governments cited IRS figures showing that 50% to 75% of the about 11 million unauthorized U.S. immigrants pay income taxes each year. A CBO report on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 concluded that a path to legalization for immigrants would increase federal revenues by $48 billion. Such a plan would see $23 billion in increased costs from the use of public services, but ultimately, it would produce a surplus of $25 billion for government coffers, CBO said.  The truth is that undocumented immigrants contribute MORE in payroll taxes than they will ever consume in public benefits. Take Social Security. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), unauthorized immigrants -- who are not eligible to receive Social Security benefits -- have paid a stunning $100 billion into the fund over the past decade. "They are paying an estimated $15 billion a year into Social Security with no intention of ever collecting benefits," Stephen Goss, chief actuary of the SSA told CNNMoney in 2014. "Without the estimated 3.1 million undocumented immigrants paying into the system, Social Security would have entered persistent shortfall of tax revenue to cover payouts starting in 2009," he said. Without immigrants, the Social Security Board of Trustees projects that the system will no longer be able to pay the full promised benefits by 2037.   

You see, if you GIVE MORE than you take then the idea that you are responsible for debt is kind of a nutty one, as was the meme that was re-posted.  This is actual fake news. This is the stuff that is put out to be divisive and stir up feelings of anger and resentment in the white middle class against the poor or undocumented immigrant.  To all I suggest checking some legit sources before you hit that share button because if you don't then you need to ask yourself: "Am I stupid or a liar?" 

If you don't like either answer, it's time to make some kind of change.

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