Where is justice for Latin America?

Justin Marinelli, Senior Writer

Sordid tales of migrant children being separated from their deported families have surfaced in the news recently. They’ve been nice distractions from the wretched tales of foreign misadventures and the somber news of our inability to keep Ebola out of the United States. Variety is the spice of life, after all.

Morbid humor aside, immigration policy can be a contentious subject. Perhaps this is why it’s been receiving so much attention lately. After all, it’s an issue that both political parties can use to rally their voter bases. With the upcoming election, both parties have incentive to stress the issue as much as they can.

I doubt we’ll see any real reform. The issue is just too juicy and both sides benefit too much from keeping it in play. Self-interest trumps the good of the nation for politicians these days. In an advanced democracy with a sophisticated media infrastructure, the distinction between governing and campaigning has been erased, making it that much more difficult for anything to get done at all.

In theory, we could debate the various strategies of lessening issues of immigration policy, but considering how the whole edifice is but a symptom of a greater dysfunction, such lollygagging seems like misplaced effort.

Countries function properly when people put aside self-interest and act for the good of the nation. Society as a whole can be modeled as one giant prisoner’s dilemma. Incentives to “cooperate” and punishments for “defecting” provide a one-two punch that motivates people to act for the good of the nation. When punishments are reduced and incentives favor self-interest, more and more people “defect,” and it is the nation as a whole that pays the price.

In other words, society is an agreement that requires effort, and when you take it for granted and refrain from holding up your end of the bargain, the process of disintegration begins.

Politics is no longer about public service. It is about self-advancement, and caught in the crossfire are thousands of children from Latin America. Until this structure of incentives is fixed, arguments over proper public policy are a pointless distraction from the true horror of what is nothing less than systematic failure.


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