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Monday, Jul 28, 2014
Tom Jackson

The Right Stuff: Flags banned, ACA angst fanned, immigration policy– bland

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Tom Jackson’s conservative opinion column is published each Sunday. The Right Stuff blog is updated throughout the week at tbo.com/tomjackson/

Almost five years after Mexican students threatened their Caucasian classmates during Cinco de Mayo ceremonies in a high school near San Jose, Calif., the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided administrators could ban the clothes they cited as being at the root of the unrest: T-shirts bearing the American flag.

Eugene Volokh, a lawyer specializing in free speech cases and author of the Volokh Conspiracy blog, acknowledges a certain logic to the court’s ruling, drawing as it does from Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Comm. School Dist. (1969), in which the Supreme Court granted administrators latitude on behalf of campus calm.

Then he gets at the putrid heart of the 9th Circuit’s ruling, in which the court appears to have validated — repudiating First Amendment tradition — the “heckler’s veto,” in which “thugs threaten to attack the speaker, and government officials suppress the speech to prevent such violence.”

“Somehow,” he writes, “we’ve reached the point that students can’t safely display the American flag in an American school, because of a fear that other students will attack them for it, and the school feels unable to prevent such attacks (by punishing the threateners and the attackers, and by teaching students tolerance for other students’ speech).

Something is badly wrong, whether such an incident happens on May 5 or any other day.

“And this is especially so because behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated. The school taught its students a simple lesson: If you dislike speech and want it suppressed, then you can get what you want by threatening violence against the speakers. The school will cave in, the speakers will be shut up, and you and your ideology will win. When thuggery pays, the result is more thuggery. Is that the education we want our students to be getting?”

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Saying they need to help defray new costs generated by complying with the Affordable Care Act, owners of 10 Gator’s Dockside restaurants in Lake County, Lakeland and Jacksonville have started tacking a 1 percent surcharge onto sales of food and beverages.

We’ll do the math for you: That’s 20 cents on a $20 tab.

Management reports it hopes the fee raises $160,000 against the $500,000 it anticipates in compliance costs. How the eateries will bridge the balance of the gap isn’t hard to figure out. Because consumers always pay the vast bulk of government mandates, Gator’s Dockside prices will edge up.

The fact they didn’t just quietly do that in the first place suggests Gator’s bosses are attempting to make a political point, to turn up additional heat on a program that is already wildly unpopular. And with reports of the company’s gambit spreading like a prairie fire, you’d have to concede it’s mission accomplished.

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Well, there it is: The essential reason the United States needs to put its immigration house in order through comprehensive reform, explained with precision incinerating of strawmen by Alex Sink, the former Bank of America executive and current Democratic candidate for Pinellas-based U.S. House District 13.

“Immigration reform is important in our country,” Sink told Tuesday night’s debate audience. “We have a lot of employers over on the beaches that rely upon workers and especially in this high-growth environment, where are you going to get people to work to clean our hotels rooms or do our landscaping? We don’t need to put those employers in a position of hiring undocumented and illegal workers.”

So, that’s Sink’s solution to America’s grinding unemployment problem? Open the spigots on a flooded job pool?

No wonder the left wants to hike the minimum wage. Its amnesty policy would explode the supply of legal workers, depressing already sagging wages. Only government intervention could drive up the price for something the market has in excess.

A better answer would be tighter enforcement of laws against hiring illegal residents. Then, wages paid to reliable mowers of lawns and changers of sheets would have to rise to levels attractive to lawful workers. But as long as authorities are encouraged to look the other way, our undocumented population will continue to occupy those jobs, depress the authentic market wage, and, fearing deportation, keep their mouths clamped, to the delight of opportunistic employers.

Enforcement and naturally rising wages are the two lanes of the road to solving what ails employment along the Gulf beaches, not a false choice between patently awful options. But we thank the candidate for providing the timely opportunity to make that important point.

tjackson@tampatrib.com

(813) 371-1851

Twitter: @tjacksonTBO

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