Daily Archives: September 23, 2009

Why the Debate on Immigration is All Wrong

Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario

Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario

by Sonia Nazario, author of Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a  Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother (Random House 2007).

Congress and the Obama Administration are again proposing new “solutions” to curtail illegal immigration. Sadly, they are the same tired ideas that have been tried — and failed — in the past. No one is proposing the one thing that would work.

First, a few facts. In recent years, driven by a dearth of jobs in the U.S., illegal immigration has dropped . Still, half a million people continue to enter the U.S. illegally each year; in all 4% of the population in the U.S. is undocumented. In Los Angeles, 4 of 10 people are from another country.

The benefits of this influx are clear. These migrants do some of the most backbreaking, dirty, dangerous jobs U.S.-born workers largely won’t do—and for rock-bottom wages. Immigrants’ low wages keep some businesses from closing or going abroad in order to compete. A 1997 study by the National Research Council, still considered the most objective and authoritative on the effects of immigration, found that immigrant labor also lowers the cost of food and clothing for all of us. Indeed, 5% of every good or service Americans buy is cheaper because of immigrant labor. That means more Americans can avail themselves of essential services offered at lower prices—like child care. Now, the downside….
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Legalize All Drugs Now!

HIGH by Brian O'Dea

HIGH by Brian O'Dea

by Brian O’Dea, author of HIGH: Confessions of an International Drug Smuggler (Other Press 2009).

“The most important… revolutions all include as their only common feature the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about our certainty….” —Stephen Jay Gould

President Obama recently announced that his administration would bring a halt to “preemption”, a practice that used federal regulations to override state laws on the environment, health, public safety and other issues.  This includes the arcane drug laws that have seen the feds at odds with various states over the dispensing of medical marijuana and that have seen the DEA raid medical marijuana dispensaries in violation of state law and voters rights, which established these state laws in the first place.  Even the Supreme Court won’t hear another challenge to California’s decade-old law permitting marijuana use for medical purposes, finally coming down on the side of the state.  Now, more than ever, we have a true potential for change, a desperately needed change from treating the sickness haunting the weakest among us with the hammer of corrections.
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Welcome to Debate this Book

If the unexamined life is not worth living then perhaps the unexamined book is not worth reading?

Welcome to Debate this Book, a blog forum dedicated to discussion, debate and examination.  My name is Michael Gentile and I am the Director of Academic Marketing at Random House.  My colleagues and I could not be more excited about the potential for this new project but we must say upfront: the success of this endeavor lays completely at your fingertips. 

We’ve asked leading authors published by Random House—many of whom are your colleagues—to write brief essays taking a position on an issue in academe or in the wider world, positions further explored in more detail in the author’s book.  We then invite you, the academic reader, to respond to the author’s piece—to agree, to disagree, to share your own thoughts and experiences.  Authors will then reply to the responses, creating a conversation around important topics of our day.

Our team is committed to working with our authors to develop provocative and interesting essays, and we’ll regularly update the site to keep the conversation going but the debate, and thus this site, will only work with your involvement.

So dig in, post a comment and help make this a site worth reading.

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