Monday, May 01, 2006

Useless Boycotts

Everyone is probably familiar with the infamous email about how we should all boycott a particular gas station chain or how we should not buy gas for one day. In case you've been hiding under a rock, here's a link to the latest Snopes.com writeup. Chances are, you've seen some such version of this email. (If you're like me, and you have family members and friends who will believe and forward just about anything, you should definitely consider checking it out on Snopes.com.)

My point is this: A one day boycott isn't going to prove or solve anything. In order to be effective, you have to show that you are willing to make sacrifices in order to achieve your goals. In other words, if you don't hurt, they don't hurt.

So I started reading up on the newest "boycott." Turns out, we'll be having a "Day Without Immigrants." And? Why not a week? A month? A year? Because they wouldn't be able to sustain that type of boycott. They would have to make genuine sacrifices to prove their point, and apparently, this isn't a cause that is worth that kind of sacrifice. At least, not to them.

Before I get harpooned as an insensitive jerk, let me explain. Chick-Fil-A makes some of the yummiest chicken salad sandwiches on the face of the planet. That's a factoid that I will argue with anyone. I'm well on my way to some 12-step program because of my addiction. Yet, I've had to go every Sunday without one because Chick-Fil-A is never open on Sundays. But I can go one day without a delicious chicken salad sandwich. In much the same way, many people can go one day without a nanny, one day without a gardener, one day without Mexican food, one day without construction on their home. Stores can go one day without patronage, because chances are, the patrons will return the day after if they haven't already stocked up the day before. One day isn't really that bad.

And I wonder, too... Are they willing to boycott other things that illegal immigrants seem to be taking for granted right now? Will they also be spending a day without showing up at the hospital emergency room to receive free healthcare? Will they refuse police protection should an intruder enter their home? Will they watch their houses burn as they boycott the services of the fire department? Will they boycott the many services that taxpayers, legal immigrants, have spent so much of their hard earned money for? My guess is that they wouldn't. Who would, after all? But these things have just as great an effect on the U.S. economy as the jobs that they work and the money that they spend.

I've heard the argument that, unless illegal immigrants are paid in cash, they pay their taxes when their employer withholds their taxes from a paycheck. That may be true to some extent. However, because of forged documentation that is used, it is far too easy to have too little withheld, and it is impossible to track. Because these people wouldn't file a return, they may not get back a refund, but then they also wouldn't pay anything owed. And an employer is not required to withhold taxes from a paycheck. It's a convenience that many of us take for granted. The responsibility of paying your taxes is yours alone. If you make money, cash or not, you must report it to the IRS.

I have no problems with amnesty. I think we should fix the immigration policies first, but amnesty could be done afterward. But I also think that those given amnesty must be required to prove their lack of criminal record and pay back taxes. It's only fair to the rest of us. Nobody likes a moocher.

And one more thing: Quit screwing around with our national anthem. I don't have any problems with you singing in another language, but when you change the lyrics, that's going too far. The anthem was not adopted because of the tune-- that's just an old British bar song that seemed to fit the lyrics we already had. The lyrics are the important part. They were written by a guy who was being held captive during the war that we fought to become the country that we are-- the country that you say you loved enough to want to become a part of. When you decide that, you decide that you want to take in and appreciate every part of that country, the anthem, the language, the culture, the flag. Sure you can still appreciate where you came from. I love my Italian heritage. But when you wave your old country's flag, refuse to contribute to the tax burden, fail to assimilate into the culture by refusing to learn the language needed to function effectively, and wipe your nether regions with the beloved lyrics of the national anthem... When you appreciate nothing about the adopted culture of your newly adopted homeland other than the perks that you feel the government "owes" you... That isn't adopting a country that you love. That's exploitation of people that you see as suckers, and it doesn't generate much sympathy on my part for your situation.

Then again, if American citizens refuse to positively contribute to society and yet still hold to the belief that the government owes them something, perhaps they've bought into the American way of life far more than we give them credit. Perhaps, before griping, we need to set a better example. You know who you are.

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