Thursday, September 29, 2011

Illegal Texans Get No College Subsidies

     There is a political tempest blowing about a Texas law that allows certain illegal aliens to qualify for in-state tuition rates at Texas universities. Whatever the merits of the law as immigration policy, one criticism simply falls flat. Some pundits have characterized the law as requiring the taxpayers of Texas to subsidize the children of illegal aliens in state universities. However, this characterization misses the fact that Texas has no income tax. State funds for higher education come from the general appropriations, which are fueled by the state sales tax. Anyone living in the state for three years, the uniform requirement to qualify for in-state tuition, will have paid into the state education coffers. Thus, the children of illegal aliens—whose parents pay sales tax every time they go to the gas station or the hardware store—are no more freeloaders than the children of Daughters of the Republic of Texas. For both sets of parents, in-state tuition is available because both have paid their taxes.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Loyal Opposition

     Earlier this month, it came to light that a group in Massachusetts wants to ban the Pledge of Allegiance from the Brookline Public Schools. The group’s argument is that the Pledge is “literally and psychologically a loyalty oath, reminiscent of McCarthyism or some horrific totalitarian regimes.” This argument spectacularly confuses loyalty to the country with loyalty to the people in power.

     Oaths of loyalty to a particular government or military official were a feature of the Roman Republic. The legionaries swore to follow their generals wherever they might lead. In the end, these oaths proved fatal to liberty, as Cæsar’s soldiers followed their general across the Rubicon. So the Brookline agitators would be perfectly correct to object to the Pledge of Allegiance if it were a Pledge of Allegiance to (for example) President Obama. However, that is not the case.