I didn’t blog about it at the time, thinking Stewart was being too over-the-top. And then last month, I resisted again when I learned that yet another comic, HBO’s left-leaning pundit Bill Maher Awarded Arizona the “Stupidest State” Trophy. Cracking himself up, Maher announced, “Here’s the trophy. It’s a man with his head up his ass.” And it was.
But now, I’m not so sure Maher and Stewart weren’t being excessively outrageous, not when Arizona’s peristaltic politicians continue ceaselessly expelling their cerebral flatulence into the desert ozone.
Indeed, last week, Governor Jan Brewer threw out a good one to the Associated Press, that most illegal immigrants are drug smugglers. She said, “I believe today, under the circumstances that we’re facing, that the majority of the illegal trespassers that are coming into the state of Arizona are under the direction and control of organized drug cartels and they are bringing drugs in.”
Jon Stewart’s “meth lab” comments were a play on what U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis P. Brandeis’ said in dissent in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann, 285 U.S. 262 (1932), “It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”
No green card=no electricity.
But the very latest mental catastalsis comes courtesy of Phoenix lawyer Barry Wong, a former member of Arizona’s Corporation Commission. Wong entered the anti-illegal immigrant fray this week with an attention-getting albeit mean-spirited campaign proposal that to reduce consumption and to save money, would-be utility customers ought to first prove lawful U.S. residence to get electrical service.
Momentarily forgetting there’s a reason essential commodities like electricity and water are government regulated, Wong unbelievably said, “Is power or natural gas or any type of utility we regulate, is that a right that people have? It is not a right. It is a service.” See Arizona immigration law backer politician Barry Wong.
The five-member Arizona Corporation Commission regulates the state’s utilities and Wong, who temporarily filled a spot on the commission in 2006, now wants to be elected in his own right to the job that pays $79,500 per year. Unlike most states where commissioners are appointed by the governor or legislature, Arizona is one of the remaining few that elects their commissioners. So with his latest proposal, Wong’s chances of drawing a taxpayer paycheck are assuredly enhanced thanks to a state with a restive populace primed for even more illegal immigrant prohibitions.
“Attrition through enforcement.”
But what’s going on here? What’s wrong with cutting off electricity when it’s 114 outside? After all, it’s not as though illegal immigrants aren’t already perishing in the infernal southern Arizona desert heat? In 2009, Migrant border deaths rose to 417.
So why not make illegal border-crossers really sweat? Nothing wrong with it if your answer is that it’s just more “attrition through enforcement,” a euphemistic nicety local politicians favor as though attrition never causes anyone a serious harm.
Local newspaper columnist E.J. Montini riffs on Wong’s proposal in today’s Arizona Republic at Wong has right idea . . . to get elected. Will proof of lawful residence be needed to buy all goods and services?
The right to food, clothing and shelter is about as fundamental a right a human being can have. But as Montini satirically writes, “Perhaps only citizens should be permitted to purchase breakfast cereal, canned corn, ground beef or milk.”
Occupancy license required to rent.
But as most know, Arizona isn’t alone in its creativity. Even places without an adjoining Mexican border want a piece of that anti-illegal immigrant action. For instance, the little town of Fremont, Nebraska with a population of 25,000 souls and 1016 miles from the El Paso, Texas/Ciudad Juarez, Mexico border has just passed an ordinance requiring proof of lawful residence to rent housing within the town limits.
The right to housing may be codified as part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But no matter in Fremont. When it comes to curbing illegal immigration, some believe there are no limits to what the State ought to do to regulate all aspects of private and public life.
On June 21, 2010, Fremont’s voters approved Ordinance 5165, which describes itself as, “AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF FREMONT, NEBRASKA, AMENDING THE FREMONT MUNICIPAL CODE,ORDINANCE NO 3139 TO PROHIBIT THE HARBORING OF ILLEGAL ALIENS OR HIRING OF UNAUTHORIZED ALIENS, PROVIDING DEFINITIONS, MAKING PROVISION FOR OCCUPANCY LICENSES, PROVIDING JUDICIAL PROCESS, REPEALING CONFLICTING PROVISIONS, AND ESTABLISHING AN EFFECTIVE DATE FOR THIS ORDINANCE.” A copy is available here.
Arizona politicians will not want to be outdone by small-fry Fremont so stay tuned.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar Fremont type occupancy license ordinance here. The attendant licensing fees could even be a money-maker for the cash-strapped Grand Canyon State.