I solve the immigration problem

I have never met an illegal immigrant who annoyed me. No, not a single one, and I have met a lot of them. When I hear of people climbing fences and walls, swimming across rivers, and trekking across a desert, dodging rattlesnakes and white trash with guns — just to live in America, I think about how lucky I am that I live somewhere that people would risk their lives just to have the privilege of mowing my lawn.

I say that they’re all welcome.

Of course, the anti-immigrant crowd has some valid points. We can’t just have the borders wide open for every Tom, Dick, Harry, Phong, Rosalita, Priya, or Cinque to move here… can we?

Well… maybe we can….

The problem in this country is not that Mexicans are streaming across the border. We had a huge flood of immigration in the early 20th century, and but for that immigration, America wouldn’t be half the country it is today. Immigration is not the problem. The problem is that so many of our home-grown citizens are stagnant, lazy, and stupid (and yes, so are many of our new arrivals). So how do we separate the wheat from the chaff?

We should have a “point system” for how much citizenship you get, with completely open borders. This country is built on freedom and competition, right? Let’s inject competition into the citizenship market! We could each earn between 0-100 citizenship points. 50 points is full citizenship. At 75 points, you get Silver Citizenship Status, 85 points you get Gold Status, and at 95 points you get Platinum status. Maybe some super-platinum for 100 points.

If you have one of the higher-status citizenship categories, you get certain privileges — maybe no TSA lines for you. You can carry a gun anywhere you want. You can cut in line at the DMV or other government agencies. All men will still be created equal, but some can earn status that makes them quantifiably superior — at least in terms of the rights they get.

You get 5 points for being born to an American parent, so there is a little bit of legacy preference, but not a lot.

You get a certain number of points for having a full time job, graduating from high school, for paying your taxes, etc. Essentially, a few points for doing the stuff that we expect all productive members of society to do. If you do absolutely everything that you’re supposed to do, you get somewhere in the neighborhood of 65 points. No special privileges, but a good padding above full citizenship so that one or two screw ups won’t cost you your passport.

You get a certain number of extra points for graduating from college, a masters program, or a PhD program. We could give more points for more useful degrees, so yeah, get that MA in Victim Studies, but don’t think that it is going to make you more valuable to us than a nursing degree or an engineering degree, because it ain’t. A law degree, sadly speaking, wouldn’t get you jack these days.

You get bonus points for truly kicking in to improve America. You author a book. You start a business that employs a certain number of people. You invent something useful.

It wouldn’t be wholly economically-based either — as there are non-financial contributions that indicate a desirable citizen. You save a puppy from a burning building. You use that law degree that didn’t get you any points to handle a meaningful pro bono case. Joining the military gets you some extra points. Medals get you points too. Congressional Medal of Honor gets you 10 points that you can’t ever lose.

You lose points by being convicted of crimes, but also by douchetastic behavior that we don’t necessarily criminalize. Maybe if you make your living by flipping houses or by shorting stock, we can dock you a few points. You can still be rich with lower status, but having more money in the bank won’t buy you citizenship points. You wanna chase ambulances and Unruh Act violations? More money to you, but you’re not getting any closer to Platinum Status citizenship.

You can’t serve as a judge, in public office, as a cop, or a lawyer unless you have at least Silver status (75 points).

If you have less than 50 points, the Constitution doesn’t fully apply to you. Maybe some provisions apply at 10 points or so, but you’re not a full citizen, you don’t get full protection. Certain geographic areas would be closed to people below a certain number of points.

If you are over 25 years old and you have less than 10 points, you get nothing. No First Amendment, no Fourth Amendment, no nothing. Essentially, you’re on probation. You have to move out of the way for citizens when you are in line at the store. You don’t get to drive. If your points get to zero, we give you a choice of moving to another country (never to return) or prison — but in Prison, you can earn points and get yourself out.

We open the borders and welcome everyone. Certain immigrants get to start with a few points. Perhaps you did some act of service to the United States, like saving American soldiers from kidnappers. You win a Nobel Prize, you get 25 points just to move here. But, your average immigrant gets only a point or two for checking in at the border and letting us know he’s here. A truly worthy immigrant – the kind we want, can earn 50 points in 5 years or less, and within a few decades can even be eligible to run for president. A crappy one will find life here to be very unpleasant, as will a home-grown loser, who might find it more desirable to just leave – thus making room for more worthy immigrants.

Who’s with me?

50 Responses to I solve the immigration problem

  1. Justin T. says:

    I like to think of citizen utility in terms of: if there were some kind of world-altering apocalypse right now, what could you contribute to the rebuilding of, or do to prevent the destruction of, what’s left of the world? And you’re right- lawyers, unfortunately, couldn’t really do jack shit. Sometimes I really lament the fact that I chose a profession that contributes little to society (from a production perspective anyway).

  2. mglickman says:

    Nice. This is a slight variation on Robert Heinlein’s philosophy in Starship Troopers.
    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    • Really? Fuck, and here I was working on this idea for days… thinking that I had a great idea!

      • jesschristensen says:

        See also, Napoleonic France. And, the former Republic of Venice:

        “Each year, citizens were assessed based on the number of merit points earned through their successes — in academia, with works or art, in business ventures, and so on — and the top names were appointed to the council. The council’s role was legislative, judicial and executive, and it elected a Doge, on the understanding that any Councillor who voted to appoint a Doge who later took Venice to war and lost would, along with that Doge, be put to death. In practice, however, a relatively small number of wealthy and influential families usually provided the bulk of the council nominees year after year.”

        And, Singapore, which is becoming increasingly stratisfied after less than 50 years as a self-proclaimed meritocracy:

        A 2008 article in the International Political Science Review titled “Meritocracy and Elitism in a Global City: Ideological Shifts in Singapore” argues that:

        The concept of meritocracy is unstable as its constituent ideas are potentially contradictory. The egalitarian aspect of meritocracy, for example, can come into conflict with its focus on talent allocation, competition, and reward. In practice, meritocracy is often transformed into an ideology of inequality and elitism. In Singapore, meritocracy has been the main ideological resource for justifying authoritarian government and its pro-capitalist orientation. Through competitive scholarships, stringent selection criteria for party candidacy, and high ministerial salaries, the ruling People’s Action Party has been able to co-opt talent to form a “technocratic” government for an “administrative state”.

        • So what you’re saying is that my idea might make the USA look a little bit more like the Republic of Venice or Singapore? Well, that would seem to be a vote of confidence in the idea.

          • jesschristensen says:

            Well, my point was that the idea of a meritocratic state isn’t new, or limited to science fiction novels.

            I’m also not sure that looking more like the Venetian Republic or Singapore is a vote of confidence—both were/are tiny nations, which had no choice but to be very wealthy, as neither can produce its own food, harvest its own energy, etc. And its unclear whether or not its a sustainable idea. Venice was not a meritocracy for all its existence, and I think primarily at the end of its existence. Singapore is a nation-state experiment that’s barely started, and perhaps only has thrived thus far because of its size.

  3. J DeVoy says:

    This would work if entitlement programs did not exist. Open borders and a completely open labor market would be ideal if it wasn’t for the subsidies those who came here received in various forms, such as medical care (guaranteed by EMTALA) and public education. If you stripped away such benefits, a much stronger case could be made for having no immigration laws.

    The shorting stock point is kind of asinine. Sometimes it’s a good investment strategy that ensures the market will be corrected (e.g. people who went short on the company that made Crocs during the fall after it went public). Run-of-the-mill proles don’t know about options or derivatives, so someone who took the time to understand how they work is of greater value than your house-flipper example. The market liquidity and value created by well-placed shorts can be worth at least as much as an invention; certainly as much as the average book. I think this general concept has merit, but the criteria you chose show at least some personal bias.

    What is amusing is that you’re essentially advocating what I’ve called for on this site and received immeasurable amounts of grief for proposing. You propose the removal of all rights for the least desirable, least productive members of society, while the greatest rewards and protections are bestowed onto the most productive and valuable. The criteria by which each are measured have at least some significant relationship/correlation with IQ, but you won’t just come out and say so. Dumb people make bad decisions and destroy value more often than smart people, while high IQ people tend to create value and make enriching decisions more often than dumb ones.

    If you’re serious about going this way, it’d be more efficient to allocate resources a priori based on that metric rather than delaying the apportionment of resources based on actions. Giving rights and privileges away based only on observable conduct and racking up enough credits to move to the next level of citizenship can delay the progress and value creation of people who are capable of more than their level of citizenship would otherwise permit.

    • jesschristensen says:

      “Dumb people make bad decisions and destroy value more often than smart people, while high IQ people tend to create value and make enriching decisions more often than dumb ones”

      What surprises me is that you don’t see, or won’t admit to, the inherent subjectivity in this statement. “Bad decisions” versus “good decisions” is hardly simple or objective. Personally, I think that choosing to have 15 kids when your annual income is below the poverty line is a bad decision. But, I also think that grafting the stock market through derivatives is also a bad decision (not for the person doing it, perhaps, in the short term; but for society), and I think that going to war over oil is a bad decision. And so on, and so on. People with high IQs make absurdly poor decisions all the time, and people with lower IQs often do little harm and contribute consistently and reliably (say, as the working poor that have for so long sustained this country). Despite what it looks like on TV, the people who volunteer to be on the Jerry Springer show are not by any stretch the majority of the people with lower spectrum IQs. (All of which doesn’t even touch on how subjective a measurement “IQ” is).

      • J DeVoy says:

        Bad decisions destroy value, and are uncommon among the cognitively gifted. That’s why the stock market meltdown and financial collapse have been such news stories – it’s shocking when smart people who normally create value completely miss the mark and destroy it. Except for the most egregious examples, like the mother with 15 children you describe, dumb people making value-destroying decisions isn’t even news. It’s just business as normal.

        So, yes, smart people make bad decisions and dumb people make good ones. But if those were the norms rather than the exceptions, then smart people wouldn’t be classified as smart and dumb people wouldn’t be classified as dumb. It’s the aggregate of their decisions that determine if they create or destroy value or create it, with their relative cognitive ability generally determining on which side of the divide they land.

        Also, it’s not about the magnitude of the harm as much as its reliability. When a smart person screws up, he or she is more likely to learn from it and not repeat a mistake than someone of lesser cognitive ability. So while the working poor may sustain the country, they don’t necessarily create value or make good decisions. Given how some corporations structure their employment relationships – Walmart leaps to mind – the working poor end up receiving subsidies through food stamps, medicaid/medicare, and the EITC. I’ve worked some unpleasant jobs in the past, of which my bar applications reminded me, and am not saying the people who have them are bad. But, they do tend to destroy value more regularly and predictably than their more gifted counterparts.

        • jesschristensen says:

          You say that smart people contribute more than dumb people as a self-evident statement. And, in a way, it is.

          If a society needs and desires a bridge to get across the river, then the person who figures out how to build such a bridge is, by society’s standards, a “smart person.” And, a productive one, at least insofar as bridge building is concerned.

          But, none of that is to say that the bridge builder isn’t also a, let’s say man, who also beats his wife and children, drinks too much (causing chronic health problems), and ultimately ends up wrapping his car around a tree because he’s a drunk driver. These personal bad decisions are not rare or novel occurrences. Nor are the large-scale debacles. Nations don’t rise and fall because of the will of the poor and uneducated (popular revolutions are always fueled primarily by the intellectual class). Wars aren’t started by the illiterate, and economies don’t crash because of the poor. What’s happening isn’t new. It’s just new to us.

          But, more to the point that you keep harping on–“value”–by what conduct do we measure the bridge builder’s worth? Did he create value because he designed bridges? Yes, he did. Did he destroy value because he abused his spouse and children? I would argue yes, most definitely. Others *might* argue (and many historically have thought and still think) that a wife beating, while not commendable, is a character flaw that can be over looked when other achievements are present. I could go on and on with similar examples.

          We can only measure value referentially. We do so only from within the context of the status quo. As a result, (and keeping with my example) those in the position to define (those with power) will be the ones who decide whether we value bridge building more, less, or equally to the treatment of wives and children. If the bridge builder is given greater rights and privileges because he’s a bridge builder, and is among those who assign value, that doesn’t bode well for the value of treating wives and children well. Etc, etc.

          While imperfect for sure, the purpose of giving equal rights (especially those related to voting and free speech) is so that there’s more than one voice and one perspective heard with respect to what it is we value. I happen to think that a large part of “what’s wrong with America” is that the power to define value has (a) become far too concentrated in an emerging aristocracy, and (b) those not in the aristocracy can only really be heard as consumers, and what’s available for consumption is defined by the emerging aristocracy.

          Also, and while this is anecdotal it makes my point, as a former labor organizer, if we’re talking reliability, I’d put my stock in the average worker well before the wall street rainmaker.

      • Personally, I think that choosing to have 15 kids when your annual income is below the poverty line is a bad decision. But, I also think that grafting the stock market through derivatives is also a bad decision (not for the person doing it, perhaps, in the short term; but for society), and I think that going to war over oil is a bad decision.

        Right… and all of these would incur a point penalty.

        • jesschristensen says:

          Would they? The majority of American’s only think the war in Iraq was a bad idea bad in retrospect, but were all for it in the beginning. Do the war mongers get additional points (with additional rights and privileges) up front, but then get those taken away when views change? If we give all the points, all desperate and panicky in the wake of 9/11 to the military leaders, how might the majority ever get that power back once its been given away?

          Doesn’t all that get to the heart of the problem with your plan: who decides what is desirable and valuable, and worth of points, and what is not and will earn you demerits?

          Do we somehow start all tabula rasa, with some mass vote to decide upon what conduct earns which points and what earns demerits? Do the existing elected officials get to decide? Do they get to vote based on the wishes of their constituents, or just their own views?

          What happens when the majority of point-holders decides that pornographers not only don’t earn citizenship points, but are so harmful to the country’s “moral rectitude” that if you create porn, you lose points and rights? So, if you’re a pornographer, you don’t get to vote. And the only way you can vote is to stop making porn, and then do other, more wholesome, things to win back those points you lost.

          What happens when they decide that homosexuality is destructive, and earns a demerit? Or, say, one’s religious views? In this plan, who is it that would get to change the Constitution should that ever be desired? Those with more points, yes?

    • I disagree that entitlement programs would throw a wrench into the idea. In fact, I would think that entitlement programs might be grease on the gears — giving high value immigrants a bit of a boost while they work their way up the full citizenship point ladder.

      I am not advocating points based on IQ. The average to low intelligence person can be a high value citizen. And, my points would not be allocated solely based on creation of economic value, as I hope I explained in the OP.

      • J DeVoy says:

        The original post was clear re IQ and economic value, but what you advocate and IQ, or intelligence, or whatever you want to call it – let’s just say high cognitive ability – are so closely correlated that they’ll be getting the benefits of citizenship anyway. Just as in the current system, the cognitive elite will have the easiest time realizing what it takes to receive the full benefits of citizenship, while those with less ability will take longer to do so. While you’d grant citizenship based on objective accomplishments, it essentially would give benefits to the best and brightest anyway — but only after they’ve jumped through Randazza hoops. I’m merely arguing that, since it has the same effect, it would be easier to eliminate these requirements. It’s not that the average or low-IQ citizen would be a bad citizen, but rather the high IQ ones would be better ones (at least in terms of conferring economic opportunities and privileges in that regard), and making them prove it would be onerous.

        You’re right, too, that there are forms of value other than those measured economically. I would merely hope that they’re not weighted equally. Smiling at strangers and helping old ladies across the street doesn’t stimulate demand or otherwise aid job creation/preservation so Joe can pay his mortgage and Sally can buy clothes for her kids.

        • t what you advocate and IQ, or intelligence, or whatever you want to call it – let’s just say high cognitive ability – are so closely correlated that they’ll be getting the benefits of citizenship anyway.

          Not necessarily. I wouldn’t see I-banking as a path to Platinum Status, even if it remained a path to great riches.

    • MikeZ says:

      “Dumb people make bad decisions and destroy value more often than smart people, while high IQ people tend to create value and make enriching decisions more often than dumb ones.”

      I wouldn’t disagree but I’d point out that those bad decisions don’t have as much consequence. When the McDonalds worker screws up my order for the 3rd time in a row, I think I sure am glad this guy works at McDonalds and is not monitoring a Nuclear Power Plant. Forgetting to put the Cheese on a Cheeseburger has a pretty low cost. Heck even the proverbial welfare mom with 10 kids is only taking us for $50K a year. Certainly deserves low citizenship points, but no lower than the guy taking a $10M bonus from his companies federal bailout funds.

      • Heck even the proverbial welfare mom with 10 kids is only taking us for $50K a year. Certainly deserves low citizenship points, but no lower than the guy taking a $10M bonus from his companies federal bailout funds.

        Agreed!

        However, under our current system, those two are hardly “equal.” Under mine, the welfare mom *could* even have higher status than the guy who took the $10M bonus.

  4. Alan says:

    This is pretty much what we do now. The problem though is that we can’t deport native born Americans who fail their “citizenship test”, so instead we lock them in jail for increasingly long periods of time. And how is that working out for us?

    BTW, there is an entire philosophy, not new, that believes the role of the individual is to contribute to the power of the state. Instead of valuing individualism and free choice, it values how much a citizen contributes toward the greater economic and military power of the state, and uses coercive or or manipulative techniques to promote these values. If you would like to learn more about it, look up “fascism”. That is similar in philosophy to what you are proposing. I can’t say I’m in favor of it, because it is a slippery slope. I think we already have too many problems with “the state” imposing its values on individuals.

    Really though, this is a long term problem. Americans need to stop thinking in time frames of 1-5 years. The time frame on this problem is thousands of years. The question is not what can we do that it have an immediate impact; the questions is, what can we do over multiple generations so that all citizens have an opportunity to contribute, while choosing the lifestyle they see fit, and not being taken advantage of when they succeed and not being too much of a burden when they f*ck up.

    • This is pretty much what we do now. The problem though is that we can’t deport native born Americans who fail their “citizenship test”, so instead we lock them in jail for increasingly long periods of time. And how is that working out for us?

      Not exactly, Alan. This is, as I see it, a plan that would place a counterweight on the evil side of capitalism. I wouldn’t give points for making or having a lot of money.

  5. Johnny Utah says:

    Why are house flippers useless? My understanding is that they take houses that suck and are largely undesirable and turn them into pleasant places that more people actually want to own. This involves coordinating the labor of a variety of specialists and often doing some of the work themselves. The profit they make functions as compensation for the time, labor, expertise, and materials. This seems eminently productive to me. If house flipping really were worthless and added no value, no one would buy a flipped house–they would buy a dump and perform or coordinate the work themselves. People can’t or don’t want to do that, so they pay someone else to do it.

    This is not a rant. I am genuinely curious as to why you seem to view the practice as parasitic.

    • Irrelevant to the conversation. Suffice to say that there would be some shaking out of what was desirable and what was not. Perhaps I would be out-voted, and house flippers would get 50 extra points. I’m giving you the starting point here.

      • Johnny Utah says:

        Yeah, a very peripheral point considering that it’s in a post about blowing up our citizenship structure and starting from scratch. It just jumped out at me and piqued my curiosity. Have a good one.

      • jesschristensen says:

        Yeah, perhaps the problem with the plan is that you seem to be laboring under the illusion that most people agree with you about what is valuable in society, and what is not.

        • Yeah, but I am willing to accept that what we’ll come up with might not be what I think is best. Maybe we wind up stuck with church attendance as a point bonus (violation of the First Amendment, so not likely)… so lets say “makes great falafel” gets you a point. I would accept that.

          • jesschristensen says:

            But, what if those who accumulate the most points (and power, and voting rights, etc.) decide that that pesky anti-establishment clause is no good. So, they decide to change the rules so that not only does church attendance earn you points, but attendance at only one church earns you points, and failing to attend that church, and only that church, will lose you points?

            Presumably, you’d object. But, as a lawyer, it turns out you’re not sitting on a big bank of points. Moreover, your failure to attend the appointed church has resulted in the loss of your speech and voting related rights.

            You’re cool with that as well?

          • But, what if those who accumulate the most points (and power, and voting rights, etc.) decide that that pesky anti-establishment clause is no good.

            Haven’t they decided that already?

            What you’re talking about is already a possibility. We have a procedure for amending the Constitution, and the Establishment Clause could be yanked from the First Amendment any time that those who want it can garner enough support. The only difference under my plan would be that you would likely have a lot more foreign-born voters involved in the process.

            Also, recall that while being a lawyer (under my set of point allocation) would not gain me any points, perhaps I could work to increase my points in other ways… or I could rest on my 65-70 points and exercise my right to vote.

            • jesschristensen says:

              Yes, but under what you’re proposing, many of those who are in minority positions in society will have no vote at all. I’m all in favor of more foreign born folks with votes. I think we should do away with immigration laws as well; I’m just not in favor of also concentrating power into the hands of a few. Or, more accurately, officially sanctioning what’s already happening.

              It goes like this: I’m a single parent (male or female), and I work in a laboring job. My job is moved overseas, and the industry in my region is gutted. Lets say that after a period of time on public assistance, I finally get a job at minimum wage that keeps me still below the poverty line. I can’t afford to move, nor can I afford to eventually send my child to college. Especially because we need my child’s income to help pay rent and buy health insurance.

              Now, all of that already happens.

              But, under your plan, in addition to losing my vocation and my income (and probably my pension as well, given how those get raided by CEOs and unions), I also lose my right to vote for a different system, and perhaps even my right to speak about a better system. And, because my kid can’t afford to attend college, there’s no building of point wealth in the family, and therefore a legacy of non-participants is born.

              A person in that position may choose not to exercise his or her rights now, under our current system. But, at least its an option. And, in my book, an important option to hold on to.

  6. Frederick says:

    Umm, good luck finding enough silver citizens who would want to be cops, unless you propose drafting them into the police force. Even then, would you have enough non-douchetastic people to fill all the law enforcement jobs in the US? I know if I was a cop, I’d be pissed off all the time having to dealing with jerks and morons. Though under your system I’m not sure what level of citizenship I’d have, so it might not be something I’d have to worry about anyway.

    • Given that “the bare minimum” gets you 65 points, and another 10 gets you Silver, it doesn’t seem too difficult to attain Silver status.

      Despite the fact that a lot of cops are douchebags, I have this (perhaps naive) belief that many cops are attracted to the position because of good traits inside them — traits that would tend to push them up the points ladder.

      Of course, if I were in charge (although I wouldn’t likely have the points to be in charge), I’d pay cops $100,000 per year, but make them have to get a JD first so they actually know the damn law, and I’d have them subject to the same kind of discipline (and disbarment) as attorneys.

      • Frederick says:

        I think most cops are decent people who more often than not get fed-up with people treating them like crap. They’re just doing their job; they don’t enjoy giving people tickets, or arresting them.

  7. Dan Someone says:

    It’s an interesting concept, I grant you, and as others have pointed out, somewhat similar to Heinlein’s approach to earned citizenship through military service. However, it does tend to run roughshod over some of the principles on which the nation was founded. It would probably require a major constitutional overhaul.

    Good luck with that.

    • Does it run roughshod over the principles on which the nation was founded? At its foundation, the vote was limited to landowning white men. Presumably because others were deemed of lower value.

      My idea seems to return to that, but it simply opens up the highest echelons of citizenship to all, based on merit.

      • Dan Someone says:

        I’d say the initial implementation of the founding principles was… incomplete. But the principles were the same then as they are now; we’ve come to recognize that if we’re taking them at face value, they need to be applied differently.

        As others have pointed out, “merit” is a slippery eel of a concept. What one person considers enhancing, another may consider irrelevant or even harmful to society. Who’s to say which person’s view is correct? The obvious thing is to fall back on consensus… but your idea would seem to limit the determination of what is and is not “the consensus” to those who already meet the criteria established by “the consensus”; it’s circular.

        You can try to identify some baseline that “everybody” agrees constitutes a viable/valid/worthy contribution, or some things that definitely aren’t. (Don’t we already do that to some extent by, for example, denying convicted felons the right to vote?) But I don’t see how you get everybody to agree that X behavior entitles someone to vote, and Y behavior doesn’t — unless everybody gets to vote on it.

        Who is going to be in favor of giving their neighbor more rights than they get, just because the neighbor has a full-time job, or graduated high school? And if you don’t care what the non-graduate or unemployed person thinks of it, then you don’t care about a societal consensus and you’re back to square one.

        (I note that if you don’t want to fall back on consensus, you can simply decide that, say, Marc Randazza’s view is the one that should decide “worthy” and “unworthy.” What’s the word for a system of government based on the whims of a single person?)

        • Personally, I think that I should be the LAST person to decide. If I were to really be unilaterally responsible for giving out the points, the only people with points would be me and girls with big tits who give me head. So… If you made me dictator, the first thing I would do is appoint ANYONE but myself to come up with the point structure.

          • jesschristensen says:

            Though, I get the sense that if you were dictator, there’d be a lot of test taking…for citizenship, for procreating, for the privilege of driving drunk, etc. It’d be like perpetual finals week in Randazza world.

          • Dan Someone says:

            Fair enough, but the question remains: How do we decide which behaviors are “merits” and which ones are “demerits” for purposes of granting citizenship points? Who makes the call on close, difficult, or complex issues?

            Just as an example, look at one of your criteria: full-time employment. Does someone lose points if he is laid off due to economic conditions? What if someone is holding down three part-time jobs? Do stay-at-home parents get fewer points than people who work in an office, workshop, or commercial enterprise? Do entrepreneurs get positive points for trying, or only for succeeding? Do we have to determine different point values for different occupations?

            It’s easy to look at someone on the street or in the news and say “Why does *that jackass* get the same rights as I do?” It’s much harder to decide, on a fair, consistent and workable basis, exactly which people are jackasses who shouldn’t have those same rights.

  8. David Eoll says:

    No First Amendment, no Fourth Amendment, no nothing.

    Whoa. You just lost me. My understanding of the Bill of Rights (and since you’re a constitutional lawyer, please feel free to correct me) is that it was intended as a firewall to prevent the abuse of authority, not as perqs to be doled out to this person, but not that person. i.e. All persons physically present in our territory are subject to our laws, and, as such, should be protected from the abusive execution of those laws, or from abuse of authority in general.

    I know this is an ongoing debate, usually along left/right lines: who is and is not protected by the Bill of Rights. But, I’m surprised to see you come down on this side of it. I can see how “the people” can be interpreted as “citizens”. But, what about the Fifth? “No person…” Not “no person except non-citizens”. “No person” period. Clearly that amendment, at least, was meant to include everyone.
    The 6th, 7th, and 8th also appear to apply to everyone.

    And the 14th Sec. 1 in clear language distinguishes between protections enjoyed by citizens and protections enjoyed by everyone.

    Or maybe not. I also understand that who is and is not a person is also an ongoing debate. Apparently, Exxon is a person. Maybe non-citizens aren’t? What the hell do I know? Please, enlighten me.

    I guess my point is… Hasn’t the Bill of Rights been weakened enough with out fucking around with who is and is not protected by it?

    Everything else you said sounds fine with me.

    • I guess my point is… Hasn’t the Bill of Rights been weakened enough with out fucking around with who is and is not protected by it?

      A good point. You’ve convinced me. Lets take that part out of my plan. However, voting still only comes with full citizenship.

  9. Mark M says:

    So how many points does it take to become the anointed one who decides what is and isn’t douchetastic? It sounds like a downward spiral into tyranny. Or are we back to philosopher kings again?

  10. atriana says:

    Hmmmm…errrr…no.

    This is a reminder of “better” days when we had to take “tests” in order to vote. Whites always passed, blacks always failed.

    See, in your scenario, everyone is always fair and has no prejudices. In real life it ain’t that way at all.

    So no thanks. I’ll stick to “All men are created equal,” thanks very much. This country is not about exclusivity and competition (economic terms), it’s about opportunity and freedom (democratic terms.)

    Please keep in mind that we live in a DEMOCRACY first and foremost. Capitalism comes after that is always open to debate. It is NOT the other way around…there is absolutely nothing sacred about capitalism if it doesn’t serve democracy.

    • Who says that I don;t want us to have democracy? I just want to open it up to more people (more immigrants) while flushing out some of the accumulated shit that has built up here since 1492.

      • jesschristensen says:

        Hey look, I get where you’re going with the idea that there’s a lot of natural-born Americans who are (by our standards) morons and douchebags. And, sure, I’d like to have a lot less of them voting…or, even just hanging around.

        But, for a person who’s taken a decidedly off-center world view, you seem to put a lot of faith in the majority’s ability to maintain some kind of neutrality and honest commitment to fairness. Which is just weird.

        More problematic though, is the lack of foresight in your plan. We’ve learned (historically) that once you’ve been pushed outside the system, its DAMN HARD to get back in. Now, perhaps that’s fine if the only reason people got pushed out was laziness and stupidity. But, its not. In fact, we’ve proven over and over that those with power will seek to marginalize particular groups in order to hold on to that power and concentrate it in the hands of like-minded (or like-bred) people.

        What you’re proposing is that we make official what’s happening despite our laws that are intended otherwise.

      • Dan Someone says:

        The problem with this is similar to the problem parents face with raising their children in higher living standards than they had. You often end up with kids who haven’t had the same struggles, so they don’t have the same Whatever It Was that enabled the parents to overcome their obstacles and provide a better life for their offspring. Often, those children become spoiled and feel entitled. (Some then go on to head big Wall Street financial firms or run for Congress.)

        I think something analogous has happened in the United States. The country was settled by people fleeing religious persecution and/or looking for a way to improve their lot over what was available to them in the Old Country. The country became independent thanks to people who wanted to free themselves from a tyrannical leader. The principles they set down — and the struggles they went through to achieve their goals — were meant to prevent their descendants from facing the same problems they had to deal with, and by and large, it worked. Meaning that most people today have become very complacent. (And then there’s the whole issue of how largely unfettered commerce has rendered us all into marketing victims who are more concerned about material possessions than thinking about governance of the polity. But that’s for another time.)

        So what you call “accumulated shit” is an organic, predictable result of our ancestors’ struggles over the generations since the Pilgrims landed. I think you can even say that our sense of safety and security in our freedoms and civil and economic liberties is something those ancestors were aiming for. Not that they wanted complacency — someone said something about the price of liberty being eternal vigilance — but they did want and intend that we wouldn’t have the same worries they had to deal with.

        • An excellent analysis! I think you may be right… so, maybe my plan isn’t analogous to cleaning the shit out of the pipes — but just turning off the trust fund valve for all of us spoiled brats!

  11. ajb says:

    Marco for President! Funny how the board games we played as kids that were designed to mimic capitalism (monopoly) are far less arbitrary than the current system of inheritance and breeding. Just sayin.

  12. Tara says:

    All I want to say is thank you Marc. I have read this several times and it make happy.

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