Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country
of West Texas
Tuesday, August 21, 2001
By Smokey Briggs
I'm a Depublican?
Last week we gathered the clan on the shores of Padre Island. We try to
do that every other year. It is a gathering of friends and family _ a week
of fishing and camping close to nature.
It was the approach of this trip that started me down the road to Depulicanism.
Camping on the beach is a breed apart from any other type of camping _
from equipment to fishing tackle to vehicles _ the beach makes different
demands than your average mountain or wooded glen.
The last time we made this trek the family unit measured me, she-who-must-be-obeyed
(SWMBO), Ruby, who was almost one year old, and the two dogs.
Well, last year we added Carson Mae to the mix.
The week before D-Day SWMBO started packing the family wagon _ one Chevy
At the end of a long day, I was told that our family unit and associated
camping gear no longer fit into a single vehicle and that a solution would
That solution turned out to be a small version of your run-of-the-mill
It was not an expense we had planned on, but it was a trailer that SWMBO
had had her eye on for some time anyway, so…
Tuesday before D-Day we made the trip to the trailer company. Money changed
hands. The trailer followed us home.
D-Day arrived. The trailer was packed to the gunwales with water cans,
gas cans, fishing poles, crab nets, tents, food, the Coleman stove, and all
the sundry items that are required when the family unit treks into the great
outdoors on the very edge of the continent.
The truck was cranked. The kids were strapped into the car seats. The
dogs were slobbering on the back windows.
And then the mailman came. You can't just leave mail in the mailbox, so
I grabbed it and took it into the house. Curiosity demanded a quick shuffle
through the bills and credit card offers.
My eyes hung on a letter from the IRS. It was addressed to me.
My gut knotted. Letters from the IRS are never good. I had never gotten
one that looked like this.
I started to toss it on the table and then thought better of it. Better
to take my medicine now than wonder and worry while on vacation.
I opened the letter.
The letter was from my government. It was informing me that I was going
to get money back in the form of a tax refund. I looked at the figure. It
was a lot of money for a poor newspaper guy.
It came very close to the price of a little flat bed trailer.
It took me a minute to put two and two together and figure out that this
was our "tax refund" that the President Bush had made so much of.
I never paid much attention to the tax refund. When I heard "tax relief"
I figured everyone but the middle class would be getting a check. That is
the way all the "tax relief" I have ever seen worked.
As I stood there smiling at my middle class check the waves of guilt hit
me. I am an opponent of almost every type of government program that puts
money in people's hands for anything less than a hard day's work.
As nice as every such program is, the reality is that each one turns into
a vote-buying scheme for any politician willing to sacrifice the good of
the nation for his own advancement.
Despite my deep-seated opposition to free government money that pretty
little check sure felt good in my hand.
I was beginning to feel like I was a closet Democrat.
Then I remembered that every dime in that check was money that I had already
sent to the government. It was my money _ or it had been before the IRS got
its hands on it.
"President Bush bought us a trailer," SWMBO said looking over my shoulder.
Being the brighter of us she took only seconds to comprehend the nature of
"Yeah. I guess he did. And I think this makes me a Depublican."
"A Depublican?" SWMBO asked.
"Yeah. I like getting a check from the government and that makes me feel
like a Democrat. But the money was ours to start with and that feels more
like being a Republican. I guess that makes me a Depublican."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Smokey Briggs is the editor and publisher of the
Pecos Enterprise whose column appears on Tuesdays. He can be e-mailed at:
Legal, Illegal, Guest Worker, Amnesty, Don't Matter. They're Coming
Dear Mr. "Smokey":
You're right, the Hispanic Voting Power does make for some interesting
armchair speculation as well as continuing to make politics an interesting
I agree with you, Bush is making a terrible mistake yielding Vieques
to the Puerto Ricans. We need the bombing site if only for national security
reasons. Besides, no matter what Bush does in attempt to appease the Puerto
Rican community, they have historically sided with the Democratic Party and
nothing indicates that they would change their course.
If the Democrats vote in favor of imposing the same truck safety standards
upon Mexican truckers and the Republicans join them, it will probably be
because maintaining these higher safety standards is the right thing to do.
If Dems are in favor of Kyoto then they should be consistent and vote in
favor of the higher standards.
However, I don't believe the Mexican trucking issue will cause any significant
shift in the Democrat's base Hispanic support for various reasons but the
biggest one being that their base support probably won't come from Mexican
commercial trucking owners and business entities. It'll come from he thousands
of Mexican laborers who will probably end up working in these new NAFTA related
businesses as well as our own homegrown U.S. businesses.
Hispanics (Mexicans historically) have always been interested in capitalizing
They're textbook Adam Smith. Sell their labor in exchange for cold hard
cash. That's why they've been an integral part of and significant contributor
to the United States economy since even before the first "guest worker" program
was enacted in 1942. It was called the "Bracero" Program.
In '42 the U.S. was critically strapped for a key resource, Manpower.
They found it just south of our border and cut a deal with the Mexican Government
to grant work contracts and permits allowing Mexican citizens to work legally
in the U.S. a seemingly perfect symbiotic relationship. We knew they needed
U.S. money and we needed low-cost labor.
It was supposed to "control" immigration but it failed that task completely.
I got to know one
"Bracero" who came over in '52. "Toribio" decided he'd stick around
after his contract expired.
Walked over to a Post Office, filled out a form and a few weeks later
he's holding a legitimate Social Security Card, later a Texas drivers license.
He then stated working and saving, and working, and saving. Married a local
girl, bought a plot of land, built a house, and raised kids, paid taxes.
He's presently retired and collecting his pension. He found time about
five years ago to get himself legal thanks to the U.S. born kids.
The last of the Braceros came into the states in '67. Although the "legal"
immigration ceased, the illegal ones continue. Now, in 2001, we have no
guest worker program but we do have illegal aliens. Those who managed to
wrangle an illegal Social Security Number found work and also found their
wages deducted to pay Income Tax and Social Security. So they not only contribute
to the U.S. work force, they also chip into our Federal coffers.
That's the reality of undocumented workers today. For the most part,
they don't hang around on street corners getting paid cash as day laborers.
They have now managed to penetrate all industries. According to some studies
possibly half of illegal workers are "on the books" and funneling money to
the Feds. We're talking to the tune of literally billions of dollars. In
1990 $1.2 billion dollars in contributions went into the Social Security
fund. In 1998, it reaches $4 billion. During that eight-year period a total
of $20 billion paid in Social Security taxes. One of Texas' own professors,
Dr. Donald Huddle of Rice University established that undocumented immigrants
paid $12.6 billion dollars into the tax coffers in 1996 alone. Amazing.
Bush is seeking an Amnesty program. Some say Bush is doing it to count
the Hispanic vote. But McCain and others have come out in favor of it, recognizing
the reality of the immigration situation.
The likes of Phil Gramm are more in line with the creation of another
"Bracero" style, quest worker program. Again, folks say he's worried an
Amnesty program will fill Democratic ranks. With a guest worker statute,
you just "ship `em back" and don't have to worry about a new voting group.
My hunch is, Bush is wrong if he thinks Hispanics are going to wade over
willy-nilly into the Republic Party simply because he's in favor of Amnesty.
Maybe the Captains of NAFTA industry will, but I don't think the majority
of immigrants will forget the attitude of the likes of Treat Lott or Phil
Gramm. Phil Gramm's wrong if he thinks a guest worker system is going to
control illegal entry.
Ultimately, it just doesn't matter cause as long as U.S. industry and
agriculture needs labor immigration will continue. Employers will continue
to turn a blind eye to an immigrant's legal status. And these new immigrants
will simply become a defacto part of our nation's makeup.
Dr. Joel D. Vera
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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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