The World's Most Ineffective Government Program (brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Arizona Republican legislator)
This week's column is more Arizona political fun and games. I think based on the emails letters to the editor, I'll get another column out of it next week, too. The 'wingers love this stuff; if only there were gay marriages by illegal aliens, they'd be ecstatic.
I may ask people to join me in monitoring the polls in Rep. Pearce's home precinct for the 2006 election, so we can reject voters there who show up without the now-required forms of proof of citizenship and identity--and explain to them that their own state representative wanted to take away their right to cast a provisional ballot if their ID was challenged. It would serve them, and him, right.
The opening line wasn't in the column originally, but instead was a joke for my editor, who thought it was a better lede.
PROPOSITION 200 SO INEFFECTIVE IT'S COMICAL
East Valley Tribune, June 12, 2005
If Prop. 200 were a government program--wait, Prop. 200 IS a government program!
State Rep. Russell Pearce is the proud author of a government program that works as promised between zero and 0.04 percent of the time. He’s so proud of that result that he’s considering running for higher office.
Apparently, failure is not merely an option; in certain East Valley ‘winger circles, it’s a prerequisite.
The government program with the astounding record of failure is Pearce’s Proposition 200. Pearce claimed that he had co-written a law that would stop vote fraud. And since Prop. 200’s voter registration mandates took effect, one-third of voter registration in Maricopa, Pinal, and Pima counties have indeed been rejected for lacking the now-required documentation (an Arizona driver’s license issued after 1996, U.S. naturalization number, copy of a U.S. passport, birth certificate, or tribal card number.)
All that paperwork must be worth the hassle, right? Maybe you heard on the radio, or read on the Internet, that hordes of non-citizens were attempting to vote, so it must be true!
Wrong, photocopy breath. Of the more than 5,000 registrations rejected, the county recorders believe all are from U.S. citizens here legally. Not one was from an illegal alien. Zilch. Zippo. That’s zero percent, or in decimal terms, 0.00. When Russell Pearce dreams up a government program, “success” means catching no bad guys while hassling thousands of actual citizens.
To Pearce’s credit, Prop. 200 has resulted in the discovery of illegal aliens who applied for state-sponsored utility-bill assistance. Both of them were reported to the federal authorities. Yes, both -- a grand total of two.
Pearce and GOP National Committeeman Randy Pullen wrote this misbegotten law, but you’d never know they had any responsibility for it. Instead, all the problems are because Gov. Napolitano or Attorney General Goddard aren’t “interpreting” it correctly or “implementing” it sufficiently.
Of course, if their law needs “interpretation” and “implementation” or anything other than “strict construction,” then Pearce and Pullen needed better lawyers. If Pearce now complains about law enforcement wriggling out of enforcing his grand plan, then maybe he shouldn’t have written such a sodden legal mess with so much room to wriggle in the first place.
Normally, if you take credit as an author, then you take blame when what you wrote doesn’t work as you promised. But not Russell Pearce; he blames everybody else when the law he wrote doesn’t work. Pearce’s sense of responsibility is exactly as accurate as Prop. 200’s voter registration requirements. That is, it functions accurately zero percent of the time.
But if Pearce’s Prop. 200 has set the standard for effectiveness, I have an even better plan. Pearce proves that being “tough” only means sounding tough; the actual remedies can be completely ineffective as long as your soundbites work. So if Pearce’s program is zero percent effective, I guarantee my ideas can meet, or beat, Prop 200 -- with much less inconvenience to actual U.S. citizens.
First, let’s create a state Department of Illegal Alien Rhetoric. We’ll have an entire bureaucracy dreaming up tough-sounding slogans. Putting these slogans on billboards, or just asking people to concentrate about them while wearing tinfoil hats, will prove every bit as effective as Prop. 200’s new voter registration requirements. If zero’s the new standard, we can meet it.
Then the Department can give every Arizona voter a bumper sticker with an anti-illegal-immigration slogan. Every taxpayer gets a choice of irked, angry, furious, nuclear, and Limbaugh, just like ordering chicken wings. If bumper stickers on cars stops just 2 illegals, that’s just as effective as Prop. 200 -- and much less expensive.
The Legislature also can provide televisions with optional foreign-language blockers, which skip over the Spanish-language stations so you’ll never even know they’re there (unless some ‘winger’s dental fillings start receiving broadcasts). Having a state where people can English-only channel-surf will be every bit as effective as Prop. 200, without disenfranchising American citizens moving here from Illinois or California.
If Russell Pearce’s Prop. 200 sets the grading curve, I guarantee my plan gets an “A.” Zero percent: It’s not just a goal, it’s a platform.