hands off my gardener
Craig J. Cantoni
reformers in Congress now want to take away the only subsidy I receive from the
referring to my gardener Jose, an illegal alien.
is my gardener a subsidy? Let me
and his wife Maria, who has a house cleaning business, earn about $40,000 a year
and pay about $10,000 in taxes. In
return for the $10,000, they receive about $50,000 annually in government
services, including $40,000 in bilingual education and special tutors for their
four children, plus the costs of national defense, public health, public safety,
free medical treatment in hospital emergency rooms, and other federal, state,
county and city services.
Jose and Maria were required to pay the full cost of the government services
they receive instead of being subsidized, Jose would have to charge a lot more
for his gardening. Because he is
subsidized, my gardening is subsidized. This is an example of how subsidies and handouts distort market
Selfishly, I like the arrangement. After all, because of the highly progressive
tax code, I pay a hugely disproportionate share of income taxes and thus
subsidize the 50 percent of US citizens who pay little or nothing in income
taxes, including citizens who sit on their asses all day and contribute nothing
to the economy or society. At least I
get some of my taxes back with the gardening subsidy, albeit a relatively small
Speaking of citizens who sit on their asses, take Linda
Peterson. A third-generation American
citizen, she is a single mom with four children and no job. Feigning a disability, she receives SSI in
addition to AFDC and a myriad of other welfare payments. In total, she pays zero taxes out of her own
pocket and receives $60,000 in government services.
Given a choice, I’d rather deport Peterson and make Jose
and Maria citizens. At least Jose and
Maria work their asses off and pay some taxes. Ironically, they reflect the Protestant work ethic more than Protestant
Nativists claim that Latin American immigrants aren’t
assimilating to the American culture. Well, if moochers like Peterson embody the American culture, maybe that’s
a good thing.
Sure, on average, immigrants from Latin America have more socioeconomic problems than
native-born citizens, including higher crime rates, illegitimacy rates, and
dropout rates. But there are plenty of
native-born subgroups with even worse rates. Intelligent public policy would encourage the industrious and
responsible, and discourage the un-industrious and irresponsible, whether they
are immigrants or native-born.
my grandparents immigrated here in the early twentieth century, tax and social
policies did just that. Back then,
entitlements, welfare, subsidies, and other forms of transfer payments were
about 3 percent of federal spending. Today, they are over 50 percent.
point is, it is foolish to reform immigration policies without reforming tax and
Until both are reformed, keep your hands off my
author and columnist, Mr. Cantoni can be reached at email@example.com.