Birth tourists:
Many years ago, having just bought a little speedboat, I took the Coast Guard Power Squadron boat safety course.  I heartily recommend it.  It’s a lot cheaper than buying a boat and about as much fun.  You get to hang out with other people who are interested in boats.  You learn about boats.  You learn about hazards you might never encounter in a real boat.

The memories have faded.  I do remember something about taking a small power boat through high waves.  The trick was to gun the engine while climbing a wave and to throttle back decisively when descending.  There was something about going right through the bottom of the trough if you did otherwise.  I’m not sure.  Take the course.

The most memorable moment was when our instructor showed us a slide, (Yes that was a long time ago.  It wasn’t a Power Point presentation.  Those who were with it in those days had little 35 mm transparent slides they would project to illustrate points.  The really ostentatious ones would have two sets of slides, one for each of two projectors.) which was a picture of a man getting into a boat to go fishing.  He had his tackle box in one hand and his fishing pole in the other.  The point was that this was not the way to get into a boat.  You put your gear on and then got in with both hands free to steady yourself. 

But he wasn’t just stepping aboard.  He was jumping into his boat.  It was a little flat bottomed row boat, and the picture had caught him in mid air.  I’m sure the instructor saw him jump and then asked him to repeat the performance for the slide.

His leap was not just an exaggerated stride.  He was crouched like a toad.  The surface of the dock was about three feet behind and two feet above him.  The boat was at least four feet below.  The instructor pointed out that he looked like he was well balanced, physically anyway.  Evidently this was quite an athlete.  Had I tried it I would have gone right through the bottom of the boat. 

People do commit themselves, you have to give them that.

Birth tourists are those who come to the United States to give birth, assuring that the child will be able to claim citizenship.  In fact, about 8% of American births are to illegal aliens.  (Amending the amendment ECONOMIST 396 no. 8696 August 21. 2010 page 24)  I wonder what percentage is born to legal birth tourists.  Twice that?  And to legal immigrants, twice that again?  That would put births to those whose parents were here during WW II very low indeed. 

It makes sense to be a birth tourist.  About one country in six will allow a person to claim citizenship on the basis of being born within the countries borders despite any citizenship their parents may or may not have.  And for a lot of purposes, the United States is a very desirable place to be a citizen. 

To change things would require a constitutional amendment, and that is uncommon.  Maybe four have been passed in the last 50 years. 

Of course nobody takes into account that a major move of any sort is quite probably going to mean that children are raised far from their relatives and are unlikely to find a biologically suitable mate.  Once that is known there still will probably not be a constitutional amendment because the whole issue will evaporate. 

It happens in Hong Kong, too.  Women go there from mainland China to give birth.  Apparently there the motivation is not so much to secure citizenship as to be availed of better and cheaper medical care.  (Mammas without Borders, same issue page 32.)  There is a case of “reverse birth tourism” in which a Hong Kong woman gave birth to twins while visiting the mainland.  She has not been permitted to return home. 

There may be a one child policy in China on paper, but it appears that in fact they want those babies. 

There have been 5,487 visitors counted so far.

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