Sunday, May 28, 2006

Who you gonna call?

Various "nativist" groups, Know-Nothings, bigots, "border security conservatives" and others have a dilemma. Every year for centuries the West experiences wild fires. The West is dry and always has been. It has some strong winds and fires start and get out of control. So who are they going to call to put out those fire? Immigrants for a large part of the work.

A large measure of the work of putting out wild fires is in the hands of private fire protection services. And the New York Times reports: "As many as half the roughly 5,000 private firefighters based int he Pacific Northwest and contracted by state and federal governments to fight forest fires are immigrants, mostly from Mexico. And an untold number of them are working here illegally." I like a comment I recently read. Martin Luther King attacked a society that judged a man by the colour of his skin instead of the content of his character. This author, and I don't remember where I read it, said that Americans have reached the point where they don't even bother with the colour of the skin. Instead they judge people by the colour of their documentation not the content of their character.

Now the US Forest Services is saying that it will work to identify illegal firefighters. I'm sure that will make the people in front of the fires feel much safer. Let's get rid of some people fighting fires. Talk about cutting off you nose to spite your face.

Larger fire fighting companies are also helping push through laws to disadvantage their competition. Oregon recently passed laws requiring that any companies that fights fires must have a formal business location. As if the fire will just happen to show up there. There are towns across the US where there isn't a formal office for the local fire department as it is volunteer work. And some of these fire crews have been sent all over the country. Having an office back in Oregon where they can meet, while fighting a fire in Colorado is just nonsense. Of course the bigger companies have offices. It is the small companies with one or two crews that don't.

This is a classic example of how Big Business in conspiracy with Big Government pass regulations that do nothing to improve life for consumers but which give advantages to the big big guys and regulate little guys out of the market. Socialists and Leftists, who love regulation, have been cooperating with Big Business to limit competition for well over 100 years now. History is filled with such examples. Also keep in mind that the fire problem is a seasonal one. It strikes mostly during certain months of the year where conditions are right. This regulation requires a business to have an office which is barely needed during the fire season and totally unneeded the rest of the year. With just one or two crews the extra costs will drive them out of business --- which is what the big companies want.

Serafin Garcia immigrated to the US almost twenty years ago and started a fire company in Oregon. He says the new rules will cause him severe problems. "I'm right on the edge this year and may be out of business," he says. One local bureaucrat says: "All we want as a government is a good, productive, safe work force." But nothing in the article indicated that the work force wasn't already good, productive and safe. The real reason appears more typical of the mind set of people infected with governmentitus. The Times notes that this bureaucrat "said the industry grew too fast to be well regulated..." It is not about safety. It is about state power. It is about the same bureucratic mentality that took a disaster like Hurricane Katrina and made it far worse.

One local company owner, who only hires native born employees, which sounds like it violates all sorts of anti-discrimination laws, is quite open about the new regulations. He says: "The new systems clearly discriminated against minority contractors but that give me an edge, and I'll take it."