For want of a nail

Published 4:26 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2019

For want of a nail a shoe was lost. For want of a shoe a horse was lost.” These two lines are the beginning of a centuries-old proverb that means take care of business while it is easiest or one day your business might bite you on your backside.

It’s akin to that commercial of many decades ago when the mechanic told a customer that he should change the oil in his vehicle regularly or it could cause serious damage to the engine of the car. Remember the final line? “Pay me now, or pay me later.” The inference was pay me now when the cost is small or pay me later when the engine is blown and the cost is great.

A few months ago, the president’s claim of crisis on the southern border was derided by his critics as the crying of wolf. His opponents scoffed at the idea of trouble on the southern border of the United States. It was political, of course.

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It amazes me that there are so many instances of evident and serious problems throughout our nation, yet the two sides that make up the two main political parties that supply our political leadership can’t bear to help the other side for the main reason that the side with the good idea might get the credit for solving a problem.            “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.” That quote is usually attached to former President Reagan, but a version of it was also credited to plain-speaking Harry Truman.

The situation on the southern border of the United States is long past the “nail” or the “shoe” stage. The quoted proverb from the opening sentence ends with the loss of entire kingdom or nation all for “the want of a nail.” I don’t think I am exaggerating the situation when I say the future of our great nation hinges on whether or not we have the heart, as a nation, to do what it takes to control who comes into our country.

It’s not a matter of choosing one race of people over another. It could be green people from Mars. But, to allow one million people a year to come in and not know anything about them or to not know “whither they goest” is absurd.

I understand the need for people to immigrate into our nation. I heard just yesterday that we have seven million job openings and only six million counted as unemployed. In other words, for our economy to be healthy we need people to come and fill job openings. Locally, I don’t think our sweet corn, tomato, or other vegetable industries would exist without those workers.

At the same time, shouldn’t there be a “rhyme or reason” as to how we fill those job openings? Shouldn’t there be some sort of plan or approach to the subject of immigration? We can have a plan and, at the same time, be compassionate.

That’s what is needed. Two parties sitting down in earnest discussing the pros and cons of how to help our nation absorb the needy of the world, and, at the same time, doing what is best for the nation. Isn’t that a possibility? Wouldn’t that be a surprise!

The two political parties involving themselves in an honest debate trying to come up with a reasonable approach to a real problem. Not only would that be a surprise, it seems to be impossible these days.

Last week, I poked some fun at Congress and their inability to get anything done. It’s not really a laughing matter, though.