Dubya's "ownership society"

In August, as part of a civil judgment, two illegal immigrants from El Salvador took possession of a 70 acre Arizona ranch. The judgement was against a vigilante leader who allegedly threatened them with a gun when he caught them sneaking across the border in March 2003. The illegals said the ordeal left them with posttraumatic stress.

Does anyone else see anything wrong with this picture? They came into the US illegally and, when someone tried to stop them, they sued the person and got his property. What the fuck is going on in this country? The illegals should never have been able to bring the lawsuit against the property owner. They should have been deported and that should have been the end of it.

What if the vigilante had shot them instead of merely threatening them? I'm not condoning violence but in hindsight he probably now thinks that it might have been a good idea. Do you blame him? His government gave his land to people who shouldn't be here in the first place. I fear that this case will embolden illegals who will be tempted to sue anyone who attempts to stop them from entering the US illegally.

I wish our legislators would get off their collective asses and do something about this. Not only for the citizens they are supposed to represent but also for the safety of the illegals. As I've said before. I'm not against immigration. I'm against illegal immigration. There are reasons that there is a process to enter the US. It's to keep criminals and the diseased out. Am I wrong to think this way?

I'd like to hear from conservatives who voted for Dubya because he was the only one who could keep us safe.


Jimbob said...

W-T-F ?!?!?!? Whoever the judge was on that case should be removed from the bench and disbarred post haste ! Along with the scum-sucking lawyers who brought the case to trial. Un-friggin-believable !!!

Tom said...

Hmmm.. lets think about this one a bit. It's probably pretty complex legally.

So, he threatened a person with a gun. Was that, in itself, illegal? Was it legal to do that considering the men were crossing the border illegally?

Lets assume for a moment that it was illegal for him to threaten another person with a gun, regardless if they were crossing the border illegally or not. Does that person have the right to sue the man doing the treatening based on their immigration status? Would you prefer that only legal immigrants be allowed to sue?

Suppose, a guy employes illegals to do a job and through his negligence, one of the employees is hurt. Does the immigration status make any difference when it comes to tort laws in that situation? I don't think it does.

Is pointing a gun at a person and threatening them an offense for which a person can sue? I think so.

So, what it boils down to is, can an illegal bring a lawsuit? Consider the implications before you say no.

If an immigrant can sue, is he entitled to damages? Should those damages be the same as damages awarded if he wasn't an illegal? Could the damages have the same monetary value as the mans property? Could very well be...

So, I guess this really isn't a question of immigration at all, is it? What the question is, if one man is violating a law by illegally crossing the border, does the man that threatens him with a gun during that process also committ a crime?

Another analogy to help.. Suppose on Sunday morning I sneak over to my neighbors to steal his sunday paper. Suppose another neighbor sees me do that, and comes running out with a huge handgun, puts it to my head, and tells me to get on the ground while he calls the police or he'll blow my head off.

Do I have a right to sue him for that? The answer to that question is central and falls in line with the case that you described.

John in Atlanta said...

Your points are well taken. There are a few points that deserve debate. 1) While I agree that two wrongs don't make a right, if the illegals had not created the first crime, the second crime (assuming it was a crime) would not have taken place. 2) Illegals ARE able to sue if injured on the job. It happened here in Georgia. An illegal fell off a scaffold (no permanent injuries) and walked away with $50,000. The scaffolding wasn't unsafe, he just lost his balance. That makes the case in my mind against illegals being able to sue an employer (except in a case of gross negligence on the part of the employer). 3) Using a gun in a threatening manner to prevent a crime should not be a crime in my opinion. Every day there are stories of people holding burglars at gunpoint while waiting for the cops to arrive. In this case the crime had already been committed. The illegals were already across the border.

In your analogy about the Sunday paper, it would not be ok for another neighbor to hold a gun to your head over a newspaper. I don't however agree that it falls in line with the story. In this era of "protecting the homeland", the man with the gun had no idea if he was holding his gun on a man who wanted to hang drywall or fly a plane into a building.

I suppose the main reason that the story pissed me off was the severity of the judgment. I don't think anyone would agree that making someone pee his pants is worth losing a 70 acre piece of property. At best maybe a monetary settlement of a couple thousand dollars. How can a couple of illegals become owners of property that they have no right to be on? They are on their own property illegally!

Tom said...

Okay then. We've established that illegals should be able to have access to the court system to sue the same as anyone else, right?

I'm not an attorney, but my understanding is that lawsuits have to have some merit before they are allowed consideration.

As to the man falling off the ladder and suing, I have a feeling there might be more to it. A judge has the discretion to toss out a frivolous lawsuit. That happened to my boyfriend recently. He owns a couple of real-estate companies and was sued by a former employee. The judge reviewed the documentation and tossed the lawsuit before it ever got started.

So, when you say that illegals shouldn't be able to sue except in the case of "gross negligence", that seems to me to be unworkable in the law. A judge already is considering the merit of the lawsuit as he would any lawsuit. Now he has to consider what "gross negligence" is, as opposed to "simple negligence"?

In the case of the man on the ladder, it doesn't matter if he was illegal or not. Lawsuits are meant to be like insurance. You are compensated for what you lost due to another person or company. In this case, the system broke because the compensation did not agree with the circumstances, irrespective of immigration status.

In my view, the immigration status of the person bringing the lawsuit makes no difference. All lawsuits should be treated the same, and if a judge lets an obvious frivolous lawsuit go forward, he should be disciplined.

Now - as to the severity of the judgment issue. It doesn't make a lot of sense, that is true. But - is that related to the immigration status of the person that sued? Or, is it more an issue with tort law and the way judgments are done over all? Attorneys call that the "cheese burger" effect, named after the woman that who spilled coffee on herself and sued Mickey D's and was awarded some ridiculous amount.

That is a valid problem, but is it a problem related to immigration status, or is it just a problem with the law? Does an immigrant deserve less compensation to redress damages than a citizen? I think not. It's all the same.

The real problem, and I'll just cut to it here.. is human beings are stupid. That's one of the themes on my blog of course. Americans are idiots. When they sit on juries, they do ridiculous things with the judgments, because they are not intelligent enough to analyze what the plaintiff lost, and assign a correct numerical amount to redress the wrong. They have no clue on how to determine punitive damages that make sense..

And, make no mistake, punitive damages are very important. Business only wants to make money, right? Well, back in the 70's, some car makers chose to not fix safety issues on certain cars because it cost less to pay out the lawsuits then it did to fix the problem on the car. A large punitive award is needed to tip the scale of those economics and force a large corporation to do the right thing, because they won't do the right thing just because it's the right thing. They do it because of the money.

I do agree that there needs to be some sensible tort reform. There needs to be a way to take the decision making process of monetary amounts out of the hands of the stupid people. Because this is affecting a lot of doctors, and us ultimately because of the cost of medical malpractice.

You know, my boyfriend John has malpractice insurance for his real-estate businesses as well. Same with attorneys and so on. That brings up the costs of all those services, because of the way that judgments are done.

If a doctor screws up, he needs to make compensation, and if it's bad enough, have the license revoked, etc.

But, the bottom line is that people are too stupid to be on juries and we need to figure out a way to define it all as if it were a computer program. You just type in the circumstances of the event, and the computer analyzes it versus how wealthy the defendant is, and spits out a number.

Unfortunately, that's not how we do things in America. We like to pretend that everyone has a basic grasp of common sense, and that's just not the case. Consequently, you'll have anomalies happen in the legal system. Innocent people get put to death. Dumbasses get 50 grand for falling off a ladder.

Tom said...

Here's another issue related to immigration of the illegal variety. It's relevant because it came up in the Roberts hearing.

Should children of illegals have access to the public school system the same as anybody else? Should they pay tuition? Should they not be allowed to go at all? Should they wait for the child to show up at school and put them on a bus back to Mexico?

Jimbob said...

Jeez Tom, talk about opening a can of worms ! In the case of the illegals being awarded the property I still think it's bullshit --- they were here ILLEGALY and therefore should have had no grounds to bring a suit in the first place. That's the chance you take when you cross the border without authorization and most illegals I think are aware of that. If you want to have the right to sue, go thru the proper channels and become a citizen of the U.S.

HOWEVER, if a U.S. citizen hires an illegal and that illegal is injured on the job, then they should have the right to file for damages same as any other worker. That's just basic human rights. Once you hire someone you have to assume some kind of responsibility for their well being. You can't turn your back on them because it's convenient all of a sudden. Otherwise it's just slavery !

And if you are going to look the other way and hire an illegal in this country then I think his children should be able to go to school here. Again, it's just basic human rights.

P.S. Remind me never to get in to a debate with you --- I have a feeling I'd get torn a new one !


Tom said...

Not trying to be a smart-ass here.. but lets consider Jimbob's point of view..

His position is that we need legislation that prohibits an illegal immigrant from filing a lawsuit - except in the case where an illegal immigrant is suing an employer.

Talk about opening a can of worms! What if the illegal immigrant employee is getting paid cash and is not on a payroll? In that situation, he doesn't look "employed" as far as the paperwork goes. Would you require a judge review the circumsances of the employment?

What if an entire illegal immigrant family is killed because Amtrack screwed up and there was a horrible accident. Can the family in Mexico sue Amtrack here? Could an illegal that survived the accident sue?

I get your basic point that you don't think a person should benefit from entering this country illegally. You project that sense of "this is wrong" into areas that cannot be realistically tampered with without causing huge confusion and creating a sub-class of human being, the illegal immigrant.

In the original example of the illegals that ended up owning the man's property, do I think that's right? Probably not, but then I don't know exactly what transpired and how threatening he was.

But, you cannot put conditions on lawsuits and awards based on the criteria of citizenship without creating a huge mess. This could affect foriegn travellers as well, because they are not citizens, and the issue of "equal protection" become relevant.

The real issue is the tort laws themselves, and the way judgments are ordered. Is there a solution? I would argue not - unless you can come up with a cure for chronic stupidity. The way the courts work in this country is that you have Joe American making the determination, within some very broad guidelines. That model is supposed to work because a person should be able to rationally evalute a circumstance and determine the appropriate redress.

I have to admit - most times it works. Most times a jury will get it right. Then there are the times when a couple of illegals end up owning the property of the man who thought he was doing the right thing. In matters of law, and in fact in matters that involve anything else, when human beings are involved, dumb things can happen.

Soooooo... we come back full circle to my argument that education and "reality based" living is what will ultimately fix the majority of super complex issues in this country that have no quick fix. The grand solution is to do away with religion, because it's creating a shit load of bat-shit crazy people, the types of which award 5 billions dollars for a coffee burn.. and the solution is to do away with red-neck right wing thinking, because they are wrong on just about every count.

The solution to the problem of illegal immigration is a transformation to liberal politics and the embracing of intellectualism before religion. That is the solution to just about every problem.

Now, as to the situation of the illegal immigrant kids going to school for free, you contradict youself I think, when considering your point of view on illegals being able to sue.

Do they have access to public institutions or not? When you throw too many "yes, but.."'s into the argument, you create a mess to administer.

John in Atlanta said...

Basically I feel that non-citizens should be able to bring lawsuits for legitimate reasons. Getting caught breaking the law ie: sneaking across the border, and then being threatened by a citizen of the country you are sneaking into should result in your ass being deported. End of story. If you are illegal and working for an employer who is paying you under the table and you are hurt in an accident, the employer should pay your hospital bills. Period. $50,000 for falling off a scaffold and having no permanent injury is utter bullshit! Sure the employer deserved to ne fined for hiring the illegal but the money should not go to the illegal. Pay his hospital bills and ship him off to Mexico. Now had he sustained a permament injury then some compensation is in order. Then again, the illegal in question fell off a perfectly safe scaffold. It's documented fact. He merely lost his balance. How is the employer liable for that? Yes he was on the job but he isn't eligible for workmen's comp. That's the risk he must assume when working illegally. He doesn't pay an income tax.

That leads me to the schooling of illegals. Children should always have access to education but in this country the education is funded by taxes. Illegals don't pay taxes. Why should they have access to the same education that taxpayer's children receive? Their parents should have considered the fact that their kids will have to either get their education from a private school paid for by their illegal wages or forego an education. I realize that it seems harsh but my American kids don't get a free education. My taxes pay for it. Why should illegals get a free ride?

This is certainly a can of worms but simply put, if you are illegal you should get nothing. If you go through the process and become legal or become a citizen we will welcome you with open arms.

Tom said...

Taxes and school.. interesting thought. I paid over $4000 in school taxes last year, but I don't have any kids. Does that seem right? Why should I pay taxes to send some other guy's kid to schoo?

So, you don't want to pay for an illegal to go to school, but the argument you would use to tell me I should pay those school taxes apply to illegals the same way.

I'll just finish with a re-phrase of what I've said. I understand the issue of illegal immigration, but once you start creating a bunch of legal exceptions, you will cause more problems then you will solve.

There will always be cases that don't make any sense. That is the nature of the legal system.

That is why I insist that liberal politics is the key, because we could easily afford to send every illegal kid to school for what it costs to run the war in Iraq for a single day.

And, the issue of illegal immigration in general is very sticky. They do contribute to the economy. Would this country be better off if we could magically identify and deport every illegal? Would we be better off if there was a magic wall that kept them out? My view is, it would not be.

Americans need to train for a skill, or get a higher eduction, or do -something- that seperates them from the Mexican working class. If your job is being taken by a Mexican immigrant, you really didn't try very hard.. that's my feeling.

John in Atlanta said...

Why should I pay taxes to send some other guy's kid to school?
So, you don't want to pay for an illegal to go to school, but the argument you would use to tell me I should pay those school taxes apply to illegals the same way.

You shouldn't have to pay school taxes - I have never agreed with that system of taxation. People with kids should pay their own way.

Would this country be better off if we could magically identify and deport every illegal?

In the long run - YES. What's wrong with knowing who is coming across our border? Why can't they engage in the process legally? What prevents them from doing so? If it's the long drawn out process that they don't like I have no problem with streamlining it to make it easier for our immediate neighbors (Mexico and Canada). My point is (and always has been) I want to know that every person coming into our country is checked out and documented. What possible good reason could they possibly have for not wanting for us to know who they are?

Would we be better off if there was a magic wall that kept them out?

As a matter of fact we would be. Of course the magic wall would have to have an opening so we could let them in and document their arrival. Then they could be productive members of our society.

If your job is being taken by a Mexican immigrant, you really didn't try very hard..

Except for the drywall hanger or the painter or other craftsman whose job disappeared because the employer can pay an illegal half the wage he pays them and doesn't have to provide benefits. How does that benefit anyone but the employer?

John in Atlanta said...

WOW! Finally a spirited debate on Wild Sects. It's funny that Tom and I seem to agree on just about everything under the sun except illegal immigration. Thanks to JimBob for weighing in. Any other thoughts out there? I'm just curious how this issue is perceived by other liberals.

Tom said...

Yes, that's true.. most times I just nod my head and go "uh huh.. what he said".. but on the immigration issue, there are some differences.

I do support making it easier to immigrate legally, and I do agree that it would be better if they were documented, and taxed, and participated in the same way everyone else does.. but we do need to be realistic that illegals exist, and they should have rights the same as anyone else. That includes lawsuits.

In as much as the drywall hanger, or painter goes, it's just competition, and the free market economy. Whether the immigrant is legal or not, they are still going to put pressure on those wages, and I don't have much of a problem with that.

On the flip side, you see auto-workers making near 6 figures because of the lack of market pressure and unions. That's absurd as well.

The way it's supposed to work is that the immigrant takes the job at less money, therefore profits go up for the owner, who can afford more employees, who pay taxes, and the business owner can now spend money on other things, like that car he's always wanted, and that money goes into that business.. and so on.. as the money floats around.. and the painter should be able to find work because of the strong economy.

And things settle into the position where the market dictates. I'm not a socialist, and I don't believe in artifically inflating wages for painters because they have a wife and kids and a mortgage. They deserve to make what they need, but it's got to be the market that does that, and not socialist principals.

It is, after all, those free market principals that keeps this country strong. If there wasn't a substantial benefit to achiving, and innovating, we'd lose our competitive edge. I have compassion for the painter, but I'd tell him that if he's feeling market pressures, he ought to consider something else.

And I have been victimized by the market, that's why I live in Dallas now.. but I've also been it's beneficiary too, like I am now.

But speaking of immigration.. I get home from work about the time Lou Dobbs comes on CNN. It seems every single day he's whining about immigration.. to the point that I turn to fox news, of all things.. he's a bore..