When do our rights and liberties need an expiration date? Do gray areas need to be reconsidered and renewed every ten or twenty years? Once our government confers rights and freedoms those liberties are all but impossible to take away. Even rights that have no constitutional sanction, like collective bargaining rights for public employees or the guarantee of a prevailing wage conferred by the Davis-Bacon Act, become so entrenched that they stick to us like some very toxic glue that injures the common good. As with most things damaging in government, Illinois hands us the first example.
Collective Bargaining Rights for Teachers
Greedy Illinois teachers unions sniffed blood after the Chicago Teachers Union strike. Like falling dominoes, teachers in school district after school district took up the call for higher wages and voted to authorize strikes.
This is what teachers unions and collective bargaining rights for public workers do for us: our taxes are paid, the public services we fund are threatened or even denied, and then collective bargaining makes the price go up.
There is no constitutional nod to collective bargaining rights. Many states have collective bargaining laws that let teachers unions in their doors to suck the life out of education budgets (see: Investing in Education Obama Style is a Bad Budget Choice). Wisconsin was the first state to grant these rights to its public employees. Last June the state’s residents tried to oust their governor for trying to protect taxpayers by taking those rights away. Sometimes taxpayers don’t know a good thing when they get it.
Unlike collective bargaining rights birthright citizenship is a genuine, albeit abused constitutional right that served its purpose and should be repealed. It is up for argument how much birthright citizenship matters now, given that our government has done everything in its power to turn illegal immigrants into citizens sans one thing, the papers to make the whole thing permanent (see: DACA: New Immigration Policy Proves DREAMers are Dupes and Pawns). Permanent is where birthright citizenship steps in and provides another lure for illegal immigrants.
Birthright citizenship is a throwback, but given that Mitt Romney refuses to commit to reversing the DACA policy and pushes an immigration agenda that is dangerously similar to what we have been dished up by our current president, don’t expect much action to repeal this throwback anytime soon. Romney talks about removing incentives for illegal immigration and birthright citizenship is a big one. If he believes he is going to force states to finesse a federal law repealing taxpayer-subsidized resident tuition and other benefits for illegals while allowing the provisions of DACA to remain, he has a rude awakening in store if and when he takes up residence in the White House.
Freedom of Religion
America has a regrettable habit of extending the rights we grant our citizens to countries that neither understand nor care about our belief in individual rights and liberties. In America freedom of religion is a good thing. In other parts of the world it is meaningless. In the Middle East Islam turns freedom of religion into a dangerous American anachronism.
Not all Muslims in the Middle East are terrorists, but how many are tolerant of opposing religions, and what do the escalating, religion-fueled outbursts of violence and the election of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt tell us about the future of our relations with the Islamic world? We cannot justify respect for a belief system that repeatedly infringes on the rights and liberties of those with which it disagrees and spawns radical adherents who are the world’s primary instigators of violence, terror, and threats against America and our allies.
Washington used to loudly label countries state sponsors of terrorism. Now we apologize as part of a deception to ignore a terrorist attack that left Americans dead. When do we make the decision that religion needs to be thrown into the antiterrorist mix? America needs to strip away the veneer of tolerance and respect with which we have indulged Islam in the Middle East and recognize that we are not threatened by governments, but by a belief system that transcends national boundaries and will always dominate the politics of the region.