Changing the vocabulary - Granite Grok

Changing the vocabulary

The illegal immigration issue became one of my pet peeves quite some time ago.  On Dec. 18, 2003 (a search did not find the article), the local paper, The Citizen (registration may be required)  ran an editorial by Ricardo Pimentel lamenting the treatment of illegal immigrants by the Social Security system.

Gee, read your own article – can you not see the cause and effect here?  Or does logic play any role in your life at all???? 

Friday, December 26, 2003

Dear Sirs,

I read with concern the "Fleecing ‘illegals’ of Social Security" column posted in the Citizen today (and in the Arizona Republic on December 18 as "Social Security is robbing the undocumented") by Ricardo Pimentel. Then, reread it again while wondering why such a piece of deliberate intellectual dishonesty is seen as serious journalism. And not having to wonder why the newspaper world wonders why fewer and fewer are partaking of their product.

The thrust of the article by Mr. Pimentel is that we are stealing from undocumented workers. And that the United States Government is stealing their money by denying them what they have contributed in taxes. And that we should have a policy that we provide reciprocity between Mexico and the U.S. concerning who pays what where. And that we are not prosecuting companies that hire undocumented workers. So we should just legalize them in some fashion.

After reviewing a few more of his articles online, I believe that it would be well stated that Mr. Pimental is of a more liberal persuasion than myself. However, I will defend his right to continue to hold and put forth those arguments. In fact, allow me to add a few more of the arguments that I have heard concerning this issue: They are already here, and we have do deal with them now. Iif we didn’t have low wage workers, everything would cost more. Produce and other food products would cost twice as much. The hotel and restaurant businesses would be devastated through lack of workers. American workers won’t do the work. They have to come here, as there are no jobs in their homeland. We are all immigrants when you get right down to it. It is a violation of human rights not to let them come. And the litany goes on and on.

Each one may sound good. Each, taken on its own at the surface, may appear to be logical. But each fails when more logical reasoning (versus simplistic emotional appeals to the heart strings) is applied. However, that is not why I write this rebuttal.

Spin is everything, always trying to put one’s viewpoint in the best possible light. The political discord is increasing more divisive and full of rancor, growing more and more coarse. However, it should surprise no one that there is also a deliberate effort to modify our common language, to change the meanings of well known words, by which our national and local politics agendas are posed and discussed. And I see that as a very damaging aspect of society today as it allows for disguising the truth. A rare commodity these days when dealing with partisan politics (and politicians) and to-the-max advocates of one issue or another. For if one is willing to concede truth in arguing, then anything is possible. Anything can be justified, and many work to make that so.

No, I am not a journalist or a columnist; simple a plain old engineer who has to deal in facts all day long. Because something either works or it doesn’t. No amount of spin will make something work that won’t. Nor will obfuscating an issue by casting it into multiple shades of gray when just black and white would suffice.

Take Mr. Pimental’s phrase "undocumented workers". It has the connotation of industrious workers who just happen to have forgotten some paperwork; a slant to the positive. He paints the Social Security system as evil, taking these folks (e.g., "…expect to be robbed…") hard earned money. And also paints these monies as deferred compensation, which is far from the truth (it is to pay current recipients and not stored in some "lockbox" for later payments). He uses the word "thieving" in describing employers that employee the undocumented. He describes how easy and cheap it is to obtain a fake Social Security card, and proceeds to move his argument onward from there. All of these shadings to further his particular argument.

Most of the arguments, however, vanish when the truthful phrase of "illegal" is put in for "undocumented". An act that is against the law. Someone trying to do something for himself no matter that our society at large has decided is wrong. And wrong it is. And no amount of spin can make it right (it may sound right, but logically it cannot). Nor will that spin make any of the resulting actions or results right either. An act for which responsibility should be taken and resulting in punitive repercussions

Yet Mr. Pimentel paints these illegal workers as victims of "the system" and complains about the results of their illegal action in coming here. That everything wrong that happens to them is not their fault.

When something is not right, something breaks. Often if in a complicated device or system, Part A may break down or not work right, but it doesn’t show up until you get to Part M (or "down stream"). Engineer would call Part A the "root cause" of why Part M is not working right.

Much of our political problems, in my opinion, can be traced to politicians or partisans ignoring this fundamental truth. Or running from it in order to push their agenda.