In Medieval Europe, it was Jews and poisoned wells. In contemporary Arizona, it’s immigrants and wildfires.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

10 thoughts on “Progress!”

  1. Carter, are you saying that there would not be wildfires if there were not illegal aliens?
    The same trees and brush would be there ready to burn in any event. Teenagers start fires too.

  2. The particular illegal aliens who started the fire described in Carter’s link “had been lost for two days, were stranded, dehydrated and were going to light a signal fire to attempt to get some help.” Thus, their status as illegal aliens was apparently irrelevant to their having set the fire.

  3. Scapegoating – expedient political strategy through the ages, usually with positive results for the scapegoaters, as opposed to the outcome for the scapegoatees (you know, those men who can’t even grow a full beard!).

  4. Just for fun…
    This brilliant paragraph on the Wallow fire from Jon Talton:

    Unlike the Rodeo-Chedeski fire, which consumed 732 square miles along the Mogollon Rim, this doesn’t appear to have the added risk of hundreds of tract houses built amid pine trees on land made private by secretive federal land swaps. It also lacks Valinda Jo Elliott, the accidental arsonist, who stalked away from a fight with her boyfriend carrying the essentials for the wilderness that every Boy Scout learns to carry: Cigarettes, a lighter, flip-flops and a towel. And be sure to light a “signal fire” in dry, windy country when you get lost. She is the perfect Arizona voter, if not member of the Legislature.

  5. He’s done this kind of thing before. In April 2010, when he announced his support for the passage of SB 1070, he justified it by claiming that the state’s highways had been turned into slaughterhouses by illegal immigrants intentionally crashing their cars into cars containing helpless American families. The scale of the slaughter was so vast that nonwhite Americans were just going to have to put up with some racial discrimination. There are other examples, all of them evidently sincerely believed by McCain.

    Enmity precedes the false beliefs. Having chosen to turn the state’s politics into a raw ethnic conflict, it’s necessary to believe things about one’s victims that would rationalize one’s malice. Because if these people aren’t the monsters the right relentlessly portrayed to be, then the preoccupation with blighting their lives is just evil. And the one thing McCain will never believe is that he’s a bad man, unfit by character to exercise public responsibility.

  6. Wow. I’m astonished at the irrational responses to Carter’s point. He’s right–people crossing the border illegally have started major wildfires in the past. Contra MobiusKlein, that in now way entails nor suggests that Carter nor anyone else thinks that there would be no wildfires without illegal aliens. (Compare: smoking causes cancer.) Illegal immigration is, incidentally, the cause of significant environmental problems along the border; one need not have reprehensible attitudes about illegal aliens in order to acknowledge this fact. McCain seems to be wrong–what he said was that there was *significant evidence* that this fire was caused by illegals; such evidence seems not to exist. So he seems to have lied. That’s the important point here. There is no need to pretend that illegals have never started wildfires, nor that they could not have started this one, nor that McCain is making up the entire phenomenon, nor that anyone who points out that McCain is not making up the entire phenomenon is a racist or otherwise loony. Jeez, get a grip. Liberals start getting as frothy as conservatives when illegal immigration comes up. Why degrade the discussion in this way?

  7. Reuters reports:

    Two Arizona wildfires that scorched a total of a quarter-million acres and destroyed dozens of homes just north of the U.S.-Mexico border were probably started by Mexican smugglers, a county sheriff said…[Cochise County Sheriff Larry] Dever told reporters the Monument Fire was “man-caused” and started in an area near the border fence with Mexico, which is closed to visitors and known to law enforcement for “high-intensity, drug- and human-trafficking.”

    “It wasn’t the rabbits or the rattle snakes that started this fire, it was human beings, and the only human beings believed to be occupying (the area) were smugglers,” Dever told a news conference.

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