Why building the wall isn’t the answer
The January letter of the month
Editor’s note: The January letter of the month reacted to a story headlined “Biden, congressional leaders meeting in push for Ukraine aid and border security.”
You can build a wall, you can talk tough about immigrants “poisoning” our blood, but until you start going after American businesses, and their owners, for knowingly hiring millions of workers without documentation, not much will change. I’ve known many immigrants, documented and not, and every single one of them was here to work, and every single one of them found work. Illegal immigration will drop dramatically if E-Verify is required for every employer in the country, no wall needed.
The flip side of this is we will then have a massive shortage of labor, as most Americans do not want to do the farm, hotel, restaurant and roofing/construction jobs that these immigrants do so well. Rarely do I hear politicians talk about the root causes of illegal immigration: terrible conditions in the immigrants’ country of origin combined with millions of available jobs here in the United States, happily given to them by American business owners. Any serious discussion of immigration must address these issues, with significant fines and/or jail time for hiring illegally, while simultaneously developing and expanding a robust guest worker visa program to accommodate, legally, the immigrants that will do the jobs Americans simply will not do.
John Skey, Bradenton
Get what you pay for
DeSantis said Florida has the fewest state employees per capita | PolitiFact, Feb. 4
Gov. Ron DeSantis is boasting that Florida has the fewest state employees per capita of any state. Word on the street is that getting through to any state agency in Florida is not easy. My only experience with this was when I was going to file for unemployment a few years ago. The online system was totally dysfunctional, the phone was hours of wait time and the other option was to go to a kiosk and stand in line. I decided the paltry amount was not worth the effort or time. I had a different experience at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. I made an appointment and was helped almost on time. It was efficient, but more than a dozen people glared at me because they had been there for a long time already as I was helped and going out the door. I have heard horror stories of dealing with the state or other governmental agencies. Perhaps it is time to compare citizen satisfaction to wait times and determine if it correlates to low numbers of people to help the citizens.
Dave Hinz, Clearwater
Tariffs actually tax Americans
Trump floats Chinese goods tariff of more than 60% | Feb. 5
Tariffs are another tax on Americans. Having worked with imported products for 45 years, I understand how they work. Unfortunately, few people do. Like former President Donald Trump, many think “China is going to pay.” Tariffs were designed to create parity on labor costs for imported products that competed with U.S.-made products. Since most of the products we import are no longer made in the United States, tariffs have become another tax.
The U.S. determines the tariff rate by specific product category. No one in China pays tariffs. Tariffs are paid to the federal government by the U.S. manufacturer/importer when products arrive at the port of entry in the U.S. Tariffs are simply another cost importers incur, and those costs are passed on to us, the consumer of their products.
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Trump initiated a round of tariffs during his first term, and if he’s elected president he claims he’ll do it again. The ruse that tariffs will bring jobs back to America is a pipe dream. How many of you want your kids to grow up to run a sewing machine in an apparel factory? How many of you want to pay more for your clothing or shoes? How many of you want to pay more taxes? As a consumer and taxpayer, I hope voters become more informed about issues like manipulation of free-market principles like tariffs.
Robin Roberts, Safety Harbor
A bigger issue
Fix the worst-kept secret on big construction sites | Editorial, Feb. 4
The Times editorial astutely points out the flaws in our immigration system, emphasizing that singling out the construction industry is shortsighted. The construction industry has been proactive in utilizing E-Verify for more than a decade, showcasing a commitment to immigration compliance. Moreover, construction sites are closely monitored by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, emphasizing the industry’s dedication to safety standards.
Singularly focusing on the construction sector might inadvertently create a deceptive narrative, deflecting attention from systemic issues within the broader immigration framework. Addressing the challenges of undocumented labor requires a comprehensive examination of policies affecting various industries, ensuring a fair and effective immigration system that goes beyond scapegoating specific sectors.
While discussing concerns within the construction industry, it’s crucial to acknowledge its efforts in utilizing tools like E-Verify and complying with safety regulations. However, the larger conversation should center on comprehensive immigration reform rather than singling out specific industries, recognizing that the issues at hand extend beyond the construction sector.
Steve Cona, Tampa
Drug costs aren’t that simple
Columnist William S. Smith states that other countries pay less for drugs than we do in the United States, deferring the high cost of drug development to U.S. consumers. This is vastly oversimplified. Drug prices are driven by what the company can get. Don’t forget to add in all the cost of the interminable pharmaceutical ads. For insured patients, there’s also the cost of pharmacy benefit managers who “negotiate” prices while taking a profit. And drug development is often driven by what treats chronic versus acute conditions, not altruism. Development of new antibiotics is limited because they often will have a short life cycle. But if you have a drug to treat a chronic condition, such as for diabetes, they are all over it. Yes, the rest of the world negotiates price because they have more controlled national health systems, and Big Pharma can give them a good price because we don’t in the United States. But we need to solve our own issues, too. We can start by allowing all government programs to negotiate prices, eliminate ads and rethink pharmacy benefit managers.
Karla Smith, Tampa