Thursday, May 04, 2006

LAWBREAKERS

World Magazine Blog has a different approach to topics, examining the moral aspects of news and events. Recently, Joel Belz wrote this about illegal immigration and speed laws:

Is it appropriate to think of illegal immigrants in the same terms we tend to think of ourselves when we quite deliberately break the speed limit? I remember how a federal limit of 55 mph on all interstates was greeted by thousands of outraged conservatives not by a principled “OK—we’ll obey a law we don’t like” but by a deliberate and regular tromping of the accelerator to speeds of 65 and 70. The highways were as full of conservative lawbreakers then as the nation is of Hispanic scofflaws now. I’m trying to explain the difference to myself.

Commenters responded:

It might be equated to people who drive with a radar detector or speed by 25 because they know no police patrol this area.

For the first several years that I drove, I tried diligently to drive at "exactly" the speed limit. I didn't want to go over it, yet I hated the fact that even at the speed limit, cars would come up on me too fast, then impatiently tailgate until they got a chance to change lanes.

I finally decided the government treats speed limits not as "top speed" but as "suggested speed," so I tend to try to keep it at five above now (or ten above in areas where cars really fly and slower speeds seem unsafe).

The fact that immigration is equally "unenforced" might make an apt comparison, but going five to eight miles above, knowing that's acceptable "within the law" and will keep one from being run over does not seem to merit the term "scofflaw." That's my two cents.
-by Cheryl D.


I argue the difference between speed limits and illegal immigration is that a speed limit is a safety precaution but immigration exists because countries exist and must have a defined region of authority. To illegally immigrate is to show no regard to the country and the systems that make it so that immigrants make more money here, can get healthcare, etc. That is different than supposing that you can drive faster and still be safe.
-by Julius


Ok, so a survey of the differences.

I Consequences
A Risk of Death or Bodily Harm
Speeding risks killing or injuring people, but not immigration.
B Social Cost
Speeding imposes the social costs associated with unnecessary risk of death and injury.
Illegal immigration imposes social cost in public expenses made on their behalf, in depressing wages, in creating an underclass of society, in reducing confidence in the security of the borders, and in introducing an unpatriotic element into society against the society's will. It does not really impose a risk of bodily harm though.
Speeding increases risks already accepted by everyone who chooses to drive. Illegal immigration introduces new risks to everyone regardless of whether they drive.

II Identities
A Drivers
The speed law applies to everyone driving.
B Trespassers
The immigration law applies to those who are not citizens and are outside of the country.

I don't know why this difference should matter, except that the illegal immigrant does not cease to offend the law at all the entire time they are present in the country, whereas speeders do not drive 24-7. They are not necessarily living in their sin.

III Attitudes
A Speeders usually confess and repent
B Illegal immigrants are protesting the law while breaking it, and usually will not confess or repent.

IV Purpose of the enactment
A To save lives
The speed limit attampts to prevent people accidentally or recklessly killing each other
B To preserve the nation
The immigration limit attempts to prevent the unintentional or reckless killing of the nation
-by itsjake


One difference I see is that if I am caught speeding I'll pay the fine - I'll not be asking the police officer or the local jursidiction to pay my fine or grant me special rights over liberal, independent or immigrant speeders.
-by PeterE


I agree with JoelB's point. Thanks for bringing it up!

The illegal immigrants justify their lawbreaking. The illegal drivers justify their lawbreaking. They are all still breaking the law.

That said, I'm no more opposed to immigration than I am to driving. I am opposed to breaking the law.

I do wonder about this, though: The highways were as full of conservative lawbreakers then as the nation is of Hispanic scofflaws now.

Were?
-by MarkRoth


There is no real difference. The heart attitude is the same--ignoring the laws of the government instututed by God. (Romans 13). We can try to explain the difference away, but the truth is that given the right circumstances, we would all be "big-time" law-breakers. Without the grace of God, the same heart attitude that lets us talk ourselves into going 70 MPH in a 50 zone would also lead us over the border. What hypocrites we are.
-by Susan


As a fallen man, I see a difference in the severity of the offense but, for a sinless man, I'd think there should be no difference whatsoever. We understand this, but find it incredibly difficult to comply.

The 55 mph limit was an attempt to order our lives in such a way to save gas with the additional benefit of reducing traffic deaths. The silliness of such a law to solve the national energy problem rather than addressing the issues of inadequate petroleum supply, our control of that supply and our limited refining/delivery capacity was probably equal to the idea of reducing gas taxes for some short period today.

Many, particularly where great travel distance meant excessive time, simply chose to use their time efficiently and let the chips fall where they may knowing that they didn't use the vast majority of gas anyway.

For the illegal alien, the nature of the offense is entirely different. His/her first act here is to break our law enacted, in part, to prevent uncontrolled mass immigration and provide an orderly process allowing for all people, not only those conveniently close to the border, the opportunity to come here. In reality, their offense is not only against our law, but, and I think more so, against people everywhere who are going through the process to come here legally. It could be argued that a few, as those who ignored the 55 limit, sneaking over the border wouldn't be a problem, but as Monday's demonstrations show, we are way beyond that now.

On a similar question of obeying the law, I'm trying to reconcile a news story, for which I heard only half of the teaser, that said driving in the left lane at the posted speed limit might earn you a ticket—presumably for impeding traffic.
-by RonD


Joe,

I just love it when people try to define down bad things, in this case illegal actions and law breaking, by pointing out there are other bad and illegal things going on virtually unpunished - so why make a big deal out of this one? Why stop at the 55 mile speed limit? What about pedophiles that are caught and given no jail time as a result? What about the rest of the people in the world that commit crimes, break laws and are never caught or punished?

There are always worse things that happen in society that go unpunished to point to but societies goals, as specified by the laws we make, are not to let the people do what ever they want and when they break laws, to let them go if caught or to go unpunished and rewarded - with citizenship in this case. Rewarding law breakers breeds more - just as the 1986 amnesty for IA's did when we made 2.5 million citizens only to have 12 million more 20 years later to contend with. Will we have 40 million more in 2026?

The solution to the Illegal Alien problem will not be found in conservatives that broke the 55 MPH speed limit. But there is one similarity. No one tried to enforce the 55 MPH speed limit anymore than we enforced our borders and immigration law. The unwillingness, not a good character attribute, to enforce the law is the root cause of the problem plain and simple.

The unwillingness to enforce the law eventually leads to anarchy, uncertainty, confusion and fear. The 55 MPH speed limit should have been enforced and people punished for violating it. Don't like the law? Then change it. Same can be said for immigration law. Don't lke it then change it.

There are three things to remember I guess. One is that poor character attributes always lead to failure and the second is that we do have the right to secure our borders, determine who and how many can enter our country and who can become citizens - if we have the willingness to do so. Sadly, it is the willingness that is sorely lacking.

Thirdly, much of the entire world, if given the chance, would want to live and work here as citizens of the USA. Breaking the 55 MPH limit and not being punished for it, did create more who were willing to break the law. The difference is that millions didn't come from all over the world just so they could break the speed limit too and be rewarded with citizenship for getting away with it.
-by Llama

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