Conversation at the Dentist’s Office


I got to the dentist’s office today, and was greeted at the front desk, not by the usual person, but by a visitor, a friend of the doctor.

He was a friendly, chatty man; a Filipino born immigrant.

He said he was disgusted with the state of California and how much taxes were going to people who used up the state’s resources.

He had come here legally, he told me. In daylight.

He said that illegal immigrants were crowding up classrooms and costing all taxpayers money. “Of course”, he said, “education is important.”  But it shouldn’t come at the expense of legitimate citizens who were paying for the services used by illegals.

Mr. Pancho: Kester and Delano, Van Nuys, CA.

“Some people don’t want to work. I say if you don’t work, you don’t eat,” he said.

He was angry about people who come to America to work illegally, but also disgusted with those, presumably same individuals, who do NOT want to work.

Like those braceros who stand on Kester and Oxnard every morning? Or those bussed-in cleaning ladies walking along Sunset, on their way to clean the mansions of Brentwood?

Trillions of dollars have been wasted in the meaningless military pursuit of government change in foreign nations.  Billions were showered on Wall Street and the banks so that America’s economy could be saved. Health insurance is for the rich and any attempt to modify its dispersal is called “socialism.”

Every state and every city in America is fighting to stay solvent. Los Angeles is firing government workers by the thousands, and the schools are cutting teachers and classes.

And still the great wisdom of the street, one that captivates and controls our minds, is that Carlos and Maria pushing the shopping cart down Victory Boulevard is our greatest enemy.

Why do the barely powerful beat up on the less powerful instead of going after the real thieves in this nation?

5 thoughts on “Conversation at the Dentist’s Office

  1. I agree about those in power and with money should shoulder the responsibility to change the situation. We should also do our best to support those who promise/campaign on those platforms.

    I found Michael’s mention of the statistics on 29% cash economy very interesting. Australia tried to minimise the cash economy 8 years ago by introducing a GST (good & services tax), lauded by almost all economist as possibly the most fair way to tax because the rich consumes goods and services. The system depends on a chain/domino style of passing down tax by making every business register their business entity.

    It’s a little hard to explain in short here but I encourage leaders/readers to read about it on the internet. A sweetener was thrown to gain populace acceptance – a reduction in personal tax to compensate for the 10% GST.

    I think it worked mostly. If only USA can learn from other countries….

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  2. One other thing. I know it is very common in the media to blame California’s budget problems on Prop 13 and requirements for public votes for tax increases. The implication is that Californians are undertaxed and if only legal barriers were removed to put Cali on a par with other states, California’s situation would be better.

    That view does not square with reality. The completely non-partisan Tax Foundation has consistently ranked California as one of the highest-taxed states. California ranked #8 at the last review. People must understand that the state and counties have many sources of revenue. One state’s property taxes may seem inordinately low but you have to look at the total picture. The Tax Foundation does just that and Californians are more than paying their share. Just ask any of the thousands of California business-owners who have left the state in recent years.

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  3. Andy, I first want to say that I love the blog. Thinking people do not blame Carlos and Maria personally – they are trying to improve their lives. I think your Filipeno friend was referring to state and local costs. You mentioned bailouts and military intervention, and I agree with you, but those are Federal expenditures. State and municipal expenses are heavily weighted toward education and health care, both of which have been increasing greatly in recent years. The national average per-student cost is $8,000 per year, add a couple of thousand for ESL. Every trip to the emergency room is five large. I see this as a public policy issue that, over the past ten years, job growth has been heavily, heavily concentrated in low-wage, low-skill jobs. There is absolutely no way that these workers, many of whom are illegal, can possibly provide revenue to defray the cost of these expenses. Moreover, many of these folks are paid in cash, under the table. Former Mayor Hahn commissioned a study by the Business Roundtable, and it was determined that 29% of workers in LA county are paid in cash. One can easily see how this can add up to budget problems. I don’t blame the undocumented workers, but it is a fact that they demand far more in services than they can possibly pay in taxes.

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    1. What we need is a Federal solution to immigration: one that legalizes “guest workers” but one that also does not permit our underground economy to continue as it does. My point is not to say that illegal immigration is right. But rather to point out that huge expenditures of American tax dollars (local, state, federal) are wasted. And the end result is that bloated Federalism, which might be directed for domestic needs (universal health care, immigration control) , is instead spent overseas on wars, and in a morally bankrupt rescue of those banks which put us into this hole.

      The LAPD is not even permitted to detain people who might be here illegally since that falls under Federal jurisdiction. But anger should be directed at those in power, those with money, who might be able to really change the situation.

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  4. You’re so right Andy. With unemployment so high and the prospect for a quickly recovering economy dimming, I wonder if the same Americans berating undocumented workers might find themselves in the same situation in another country, you know, as undocumented economic migrants trying to make ends meet. Unfortunately before that happens, the berating against undocumented workers is likely to get worse.

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