Burt Prelutsky

Quite often when people are in a mood to insult world leaders, they'll accuse them of behaving like children. To which I say, I only wish it were so.

The fact of the matter is that most kids have a very moral take on things. Because they are small and weak, their very survival requires total concentration and a very clear focus. They have a heightened sense of good and bad because their lives consist of inevitable repercussions.

Whereas most adults can get away with stuff so long as cops and the IRS don't find out about it, kids are nearly always under extremely close scrutiny. That's why children will often be heard to say, "That's not fair" or "You cheated" or "It's my turn." They make concise and immediate moral judgments that would make a Jesuit's head spin. It is behavior not much favored by grown-ups, most of whom exist in a world of moral ambiguity; after a certain age, black and whites disappear in a morass of grays.

For instance, adults recognize that illegal immigration is an enormous problem in America. Even before 9/11, it was a major headache. Millions of Hispanics crossing our border were adding a terrible burden to our schools, our hospitals and, yes, our prisons. States such as California, Texas and Arizona, were being overrun by these invaders whose very first act in their new country was to break the law!

When some people dared to state concern, their voices were drowned out by the Hispanic politicians looking to tie up blocs of votes and the Catholic hierarchy looking to fill up empty pews.

Suggest that the country didn't really need ten million unskilled laborers and you were denounced as a racist. Suggest that Americans would bus tables and pick lettuce if the price were right, and you were flogged as an enemy of free enterprise.

I have argued long and hard that most Americans would rather pay an extra five cents for a head of lettuce than to subsidize the farm industry with illegal laborers. But the politicians continue to champion the bracero program as if it were the answer to a prayer. And I suppose it is if you're running for office, own a ten thousand acre farm in the Imperial Valley, or head up a diocese.

Of course if I were a kid, I could have saved my breath. Explain to a seven-year-old that there are millions of people all over the world, their names on official lists, waiting their turn to enter America legally, and he'd sum up the illegal alien problem with a terse, "No fair taking cuts!"