NOTE: My statements are not necessarily my opinions. I often post point-counterpoint essays in which I strongly take one side of an issue and later counter that with antithetical views. This intellectual exercise helps me see the merit in opposing opinions and augments my creativity.

The priceless benefits of sponsoring immigration

As politicians scratch their heads, wondering how to stimulate the American economy, I have another outside-the-box solution: sponsoring the immigration of people from other countries in a way similar to the adoption of children, yet in my plan, adults or even entire families would be welcomed by a sponsor: an individual, family, group, or corporation that would be as responsible for the immigrants as people are when they adopt foreign children.

You're likely wondering why anyone would want to serve as a sponsor. The incentive? It gives the sponsor one of the greatest joys: the priceless reward of helping other people.

As I've matured, my ways of having fun or enjoyment have been redefined. Years ago, snowmobiling gave me an indescribable pleasure, but that affinity melted like snow on a warm and sunny spring day. I now have a “I could take it or leave it” attitude toward snowmobiling and related activities, such as boating, which explains why I am selling my Sea-doo, Ski-doo, and shed to help a deported person reenter the United States.

Years ago, when I still loved snowmobiling, my next-door neighbor told me how he'd once been an avid snowmobiler, but later lost his fondness for that activity. I presumed that he stayed in northern Michigan because he was head of a power company servicing this area, yet I wondered how anyone could lose interest in snowmobiling. Eventually, I learned: the often bumpy Michigan trails decimated the fun of riding on them, and what little pleasure remained evaporated after several close calls with speed-freak snowmobilers bereft of common sense: people who care so little for themselves and others that they'd round blind and narrow corners at freeway speeds.

As an ER doctor, I'd seen the gruesome aftermath of snowmobile accidents that mangled bodies in ways that made high-speed automobile accidents seem like TLC. I described this in an article, Snowmobile trails painted with blood, in which I lambasted snowmobile manufacturers and magazines for contributing to this problem.

My affection for riding on snow was replaced by gratification obtained by removing it, so I had fun snowblowing and shoveling the driveways, sidewalks, and porches of my neighbors, generally ones close by, but I did use my snowmobile for a utilitarian purpose: hauling my snowblower a mile to the home of an elderly disabled man.

“Everybody wants to save the Earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes.”
P. J. O'Rourke

exhausted by jogging

While my interests have changed, I can't imagine ever losing interest in helping others. The old ways of having fun now seem so frivolous and empty, while assisting others gives rich rewards. In that vein, why pay for a gym membership or home exercise equipment, or go jogging, when you can get a potentially better workout mowing or raking the yards of elderly or disabled neighbors, shoveling their snow, clearing their brush, or cutting and stacking their firewood?

I like people from foreign countries. In college and medical school, as some of my classmates bitterly complained of professors with foreign accents, I relished them, which was like music to my ears. Decades later, I still often reminisce of how I entered a statistics class dreading that subject, but my professor's accent made it seem enjoyable and easy to learn.

American leaders often give lip service to diversity while talking out of both sides of their mouths: subtly (and not-so-subtly) bashing immigrants, but immigration could help stimulate the economy. With more people in the United States, we'd have a greater need for the myriad products and services that people need and want. That would create greater short-term and long-term demand for jobs, putting Americans back to work in ways that would do much more than so-called “stimulus” jobs created by the government. With my plan, there would be no burden on taxpayers, thus removing the primary objection to immigration. In fact, with more people working in good-paying, stable jobs, the government would collect more tax revenue, helping ease its financial problems.

spot a typo?
If so, please tell me about it.

Before proofreading this article, I took a break to eat and turned on the radio to hear Rush Limbaugh blasting liberals who want school districts to give more attention to bullying. I once admired Limbaugh, who now strikes me as ideologically bigoted and close-minded, so in love with his opinions that he seems constitutionally incapable of considering other viewpoints.

I was sometimes bullied in elementary and junior high school so much that my primary concern wasn't learning, but staying safe. My best friend had even more nightmarish problems with bullying that left lifelong emotional scars and educational deficiencies, yet both of us attended schools in which bullying was less of a problem than in some other institutions.

A local girl recently committed suicide after being bullied at school, and her case is not unique. If Limbaugh doesn't realize that bullying is a monumental problem that demands more attention and better approaches, it isn't surprising that he can't figure out why his wife married him (hint: it's not because a gorgeous trophy wife young enough to be his daughter really loves being with a man who looks and sometimes acts like Archie Bunker) and why he can do no more than rehash inside-the-box freeze-dried ideas from bygone American politicians. Parrots can echo the words of others, while generating novel ideas requires some brainpower and the mental flexibility to realize that whatever one has previously learned, no matter how impressive, may not be the best approach to solving problems.

However, Limbaugh's intolerance pales in comparison to some others, such as Mark Levin, who has a hair trigger for launching into apoplectic rages precipitated when a caller disagrees with him or when Levin (not as bright as he is reputed to be) not infrequently misunderstands what callers are clearly saying.

While I still agree with conservatives on some issues, I think that liberals have some great points, too. However, with leaders like Limbaugh and Levin, I suspect conservatives may have more difficulty understanding why the joy of helping others—as in my plan for sponsoring immigration—transcends the pleasure of more typical ways of having fun, whether that is snowmobiling, boating, or flying around the country in a private jet, as sugar daddy Limbaugh does, to watch football games and tantalize younger women with his wealth.

Limbaugh's oft-stated mission is to get the world to agree with him on everything. That world would not be one worth living in—one in which a “gotta have everything my way” juvenile myopia championed close-mindedness as if it were a worthy aspiration. A diversity of ideas and people makes this world a better place, so Limbaugh's recipe is one that ought to make us all gag.

In my conservative years, I enjoyed listening to Limbaugh, Levin, Hannity, and O'Reilly, but I never heard one of them espouse or even consider a single outside-the-box idea. Thus, in their small and closed minds, all solutions to current and future problems have already been generated by someone in the past. If scientists and inventors were that daffy and delusional, we'd have not yet made it to the Stone Age.

The need for human progress is clearly ongoing. With our social, economic, and political problems far from being solved, there is obviously a need for fresh approaches, but don't expect to get them from ideological bigots who find joy not in helping others, but in ridiculing those who don't agree with them.

The American culture gives lip service to the importance of innovation, but many of us are almost allergic to creative ideas. We say we love creativity, but researchers found that creative ideas elicited strongly negative reactions. They said that creative ideas “can trigger feelings of uncertainty that make most people uncomfortable.” Even when there is a desperate need for change and the creative solution is wholly positive, most folks prefer to cling to the old way of doing things. Americans once wondered why anyone would want to brush their teeth or use a shopping cart in a grocery store, so when their inside-the-box genes and cultural affinity for past practices was handed down to current generations, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize why Limbaugh and Levin attract such devoted fans.

Thanks to the Internet, I've gotten to know various people from around the world. They care about paying their bills, tasty food, and their kids, which makes them just like us. Why all the xenophobia? Perhaps because the news emphasizes the bad apples: the criminals and assorted troublemakers that all nations have. If the United States were similarly judged by our worst, would we fare any better?

Notes:

  1. Rich families could sponsor poor ones, says Pope (Has the Pope been reading my blog? :-)
  2. Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs, speaking of the need for immigration reform.
  3. SILICON VALLEY: Americans Aren't Skilled Enough To Do The Jobs We Need
  4. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg: Immigration and the knowledge economy
    Comment: Zuckerberg wants more skilled immigrants. So do I. Too many young Americans are coasting and frittering away their potential. Example: “According to a new study, freshmen women spend nearly half their day—12 hours—engaged in some form of media use, particularly texting, music, the Internet and social networking.” I like and respect smart, industrious people no matter where they came from. I have no affinity for those who think that having an American pulse is all they need to be successful.
The views expressed on this page may or may not reflect my current opinions, nor do they necessarily represent my past ones. After reading a slice of what I wrote in my various websites and books, you may conclude that I am a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican. Wrong; there is a better alternative. Just as the primary benefit from debate classes results when students present and defend opinions contrary to their own, I use a similar strategy as a creative writing tool to expand my brainpower—and yours. Mystified? Stay tuned for an explanation. PS: The wheels in your head are already turning a bit faster, aren't they?

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

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